Sunday, January 24, 2016


Chatting during the sound check before our opening set at the BUSHWAKKER BREWPUB in Regina, Mark mentioned that he had a couple errands to run between sets.  I was not surprised. Mark has a young family and will be on zoom time until his children become adults.  Such is the way of the Corporate America individualistic culture.   

And in such a culture as ours, there is rarely any room for ghosts.  Mark and I continued to chat about ghosts, while he tuned his fiddle and I, my twelve-string.

Ghosts.  Oh sure, one of my past neighbors was always being brushed by ghosts whilst she tinkled the ivory in her front parlor.  And the building right next door to me where I dine on a regular basis, CRAVE KITCHEN AND WINE BAR, brags by marketing the haunting of the residential ghost in the upstairs chambers.

My rambling for today:  I do not believe in ghosts.  I do not believe in ghosts, probably because I have no time for ghosts.  My world is busy, busy.  I represent Corporate America.  I am forever; it seems, on zoom time.

I do know people who believe in ghosts.  Some of my best friends believe in ghosts. (I love this last line, my appeal to a credible friend authority.)  Actually, I have several close friends that believe in ghosts, and these friends in particular are of First Nations ancestry.  They are: Claudine Neetz (Guidance Counselor), Dawne Cassell (Aboriginal Advocate), Natalie Agecoutay-Sweet (Program Coordinator), and Terrance Littletent (Hoop Dancer, world renown).

I have traveled enough on the planet to acknowledge that ghost do exist beyond First Nations cultures.  In Maritime Canada and the United States there are ghosts.  In rural European countries along the Mediterranean Sea coast, there, too, are ghosts.

Hmmm … to continue my rambling for today:  Collectivistic storytelling cultures have ghosts, and individualistic self-serving cultures do not have ghosts, speaking very generally of course.

I’ll begin with the ghost notions of my First Nations friends.  The Native North American culture is known for its rich oral tradition.  Back in the day, these indigenous people relied simply on their verbal language to share their histories, customs, rituals, and legends.  Such vivid storytelling narratives even today are rooted in the Earth (pun intended).  North American Indians have had a kinship with the land, the water, and the sky since the beginning of time, and still strongly believe in the give-and-take system with the natural world.  

Since the dawn of First Nation life, the teepee and wigwam story legends have always included spirit mentors.  Ghost dances honoring such spirits symbolize the beliefs and rich accounts of ancestral ghosts.  Dream dances signify that after death, the spirits live on and even move among the living. (Disruptions causing unrest for the spirited dead were sure to mean unrest for the living as well.)  

Then the American pioneer arrived, migrating to the West to settle on lands already inhabited by the American Indian, leatherstocking tales of Second Nations, so to express.  These were the days of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, and the community working bees of home building, barn raising, field clearing, and quilt making.  In the colonial oral tradition, tongue-to-tongue ghost tales traveled through the generations, specter upon specter of unbridled nightmares frightened many a child into quivering throughout the night.  

Moving to the right along the time continuum, stories of the Devil were an important part of Yankee Christianity, for both White and Black populations.  Black New Englanders feared the power of Satan simply because he was so like the malevolent spirits of Africa.

Even the early Chinese pioneers to America got into the storytelling act.  On their way to the drudge mine or steel railroad, or even further into the frontier, their toil was somewhat suppressed by the telling of tall and chilling tales.  And this was true, too, of the Chinese sailors, shrimp fishing the American coasts.

The sea has always been for the sailor, a temperamental and dangerous mistress, offering wealth in exchange for a happen-chance horrific loss of life.  Spinning a yarn or ten on and below deck was an integral part of shipboard life.  Spinning a yarn, in nautical slang, is telling a tale of maritime adventure, a sea shanty of dramatic shipwrecks and of bloody sea battles.  The maritime yarn is the result of the collective mates on a ship having to live within close confines and forced proximity day in and day out until shore leave.  Endless nights at sea under gibbous moons can for certain produce some grisly tales.

The community storytelling format is a trademark of any collectivistic culture, a culture that seems fast disappearing.  Collectivistic cultures emphasize the needs and goals of the entire group, the interconnectedness among people playing a central role in each person’s identity.  Such collectivistic cultures are still somewhat apparent in Asia, Central America, South America, and Africa (at least compared to the USA and other Western individualistic nations, where the focus seems more on the rights and concerns of each individual, one selfish moment at a time). The skinny of collectivistic culture compared to that of the individualistic is WE vs Me.

Hmmm … the notion of the existence of ghosts adumbrates an after-earth death experience for each of us.  I do not like the idea of evanescent figures in my present life, never mind my afterlife.  (Yikes affright!)


Still thinking about ghosts since my gig with Mark, I expressed my thoughts last night between periods of a Western Hockey League game between the Regina Pats and the Prince Albert Raiders.  Those who pretended to listen were my son, Baron Child; my cousin John Coburn; and our favorite NHL Scout, Brad Hornung. 

 What about zombies?” Asked Brad, “and what about vampires and werewolves?  Where do these fit in and why do we tell such stories?”

“To show there's something out there worse than us.  These stories simply feed into our foolery and are really, a self-indulgent flattery, offering us some delusional comfort in the false fact that we are not the most horrible beings on the planet,” replied John.

Good one, John!  That same Corporate America that has me appreciating and quite liking the sounds of the sirens in the night, the sound of the police going to save some poor soul from a robbery, the sound of an ambulance going to save some poor soul from a heart attack, the sound of a fire engine going to save some poor soul from a house fire.  These are sirens of others’ darkness and distress – Not so strangely, I find these comforting.

Yikes!  I’m running late!  Posthaste I must submit this blog entry!  As far as ghosts I say ghosts shmosts!
I’ve no time – I’m on zoom time!

(I'm a buzzzeeee bee.)

“There's something out there worse than us.”   



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