Andromeda Strain

To say I was sick is like saying the sun is hot. Understated.
Flu bugs massacred me for the past three days, and I worked two of them thanks to an overloading on flu-meds.

Really, I had no choice but to be present on Tuesday night for the Tech Event at Phog. I wanted it to be everything it could be, and I wanted it to succeed. I had to be there.
It succeeded.

Darren, from was there to capture the event in pictures, and to learn a little thing here and there about social media and blogs. Although, he knows a HELL of a lot more than the average bear (me included).



Me, trying to contact my brother Todd for video conferencing.


I’m set up here, getting ready to begin the night. The drugs are working, and I can’t wait to see people taking notes.


My brother Todd, via video chat on Google Talk, from South River, Ontario (near Algonquin Park). He runs an eco-tourism business up north, and is a key figure in tourism. He teaches tour operators how to get more out of their business by using the web. CHECK IT OUT HERE! He was incredible, sharing info about WordPress blogs, social media in general, and doing so with humour and clear discussion.


Paul Synnott is seen here, braving the Mac (he’s a PC guy, politically and technologically) to give amazing insight on a few things including RSS feeds.

It was great to see the turnout, which was commented on by other attendees. However, as I feel like a perfectionist at times, I was a little let down by the lack of musicians and artists. You know, I wonder whether they just doubted that this night could offer them anything valuable, or worse, if I was able to deliver something worthwhile. David Dubois (The Locusts Have No King) was there, photographers were there, teachers were there, crafters were there, and small-business owners were there. I am grateful for their presence, not only to make the night possible, but because I feel this might enrich their experiences as musicians, photographers, teachers, crafter, and small business owners. How could a musician not come to Phog on a Tuesday night at 7:30pm to get information that usually costs $50 or $100 when the same info comes from the mouths of paid “professionals”.

Yes, I got a litany of e-mails with apologies and legit excuses, but I was there, with a fever, for them (you). You see, being a part of this web, this community of the creative class, we have to help each other out. And not because there’s money being paid for it, but because it strengthens that community, adds vitality, and brings the “creatives” closer together. Did Phog make money? Yes. Did it make what it could have? No. I was planted in the stool on the other side of the bar for most of the time, making sure that this night flowed and stayed problem-free. That was my objective for the night. If it was a simple bartending night, I would’ve begged Frank to work for me. There is a direct and indirect benefit to hosting something like this in our place, no doubt. We sell some drinks. But to see the names of attendees popping up on Twitter, the new blogs being registered and designed, and the local community coming together bit by bit (after 3 days, mind you) the indirect benefit is something we will all reap.

Rino, from Black Kettle Bistro messaged me with a question about WordPress blogs. The moment I read it, I heard a ringing from my computer. It was Rino (having installed Google Talk on his gmail account [free]) wanting to discuss his issues with a video teleconference. Still feeling sick, I answered without thinking how mangled I looked, or the fact that I had woken up 30 minutes prior (2pm). We chatted about the event, and about his blog (ironing out some of his issues), and discussing the unfortunate disability of the Windsor arts community to seize this opportunity. Here’s Rino’s blog, which is less than one day old, set to promote his business and whatever else he chooses to put out there. You should check it out. His eagerness, along with that of all the other participants and extremely amazing speakers is intoxicating, and I think it’s something that we can afford to have more of…

…May I suggest, that the next time something like this happens, and you are a musician or artist in the city of Windsor…make sure you are present. Just be there. Sometimes the best things ARE free.

If you aren’t sold, maybe someone who was there can sell you on it. I mean, they actually applauded after each presenter!

To recap what you missed:
Todd Lucier taught about WordPress blogs and the power of the web, and Web 3.0…where it’s heading. Wow.
Rodd Lucier prepared a ScreenFlow production about Creative Commons, which was so informative, I had no idea of 90% of the content.
Dan Misener also prepared a ScreenFlow production (very funny and honest) about Twitter. It worked. People are JOINING!
Lama Alsafi did a live presentation about Youtube, and how to use it more effectively. Including how to understand more about your viewers, and how to get more views on your videos. A lot of heads were turned during this presentation.
Michael Johnson got a lot of blood flowing to the brain when he discussed Google Maps, and how ANYONE in the creative class can make them interesting and relevant in promoting/sharing their work/ideas.
And last but certainly not least was Paul Synnott who taught about uber tech talk…RSS feeds and how they can be used to maintain a blog AND a Twitter feed without even typing a word. He also taught about some nifty tricks! Awesome!

I’d like to thank all those who came.
I’m indebted to all those who decided to help me teach this information, including my brother Todd Lucier, another brother Rodd Lucier, one of my best friends Dan Misener, and friends of the creative class – Michael Johnson, Lama Alsafi, and Paul Synnott.
See you next time.


Musicians Scoring Famous Talks and Speeches (MSFTS)

Holy geez.
This night was more than special.
Tuesday, January 20th Phog Lounge held a group of musicians willing to put themselves on the line.
They knew they’d be playing to some famous speeches, but they didn’t know which ones.

I thought I knew what I was doing.
I had twelve speeches ready, loaded, prepared to go.
I wish I had done more research into the length of the speeches. I was telling the musicians that the speeches were 8 minutes long, unless they were longer, like, 18 minutes.
Well, the first speech was 25 minutes or longer, and the second was almost 40 minutes long!
The bands were expecting one thing, and then being forced to persevere and give it all they had to last the length of an entire set on one song!

The musicians were:
Martin Schiller and Kyle Marchand of What Seas, What Shores.
Adam Rideout of Yellow Wood
Stephen Hargreaves of Not_Digital
Stefan C. formerly of Oh Vanya
Chad Howson of Another Saturday Knight

The speeches aren’t perfectly represented here…recorded from the bar, there are some interruptions…technical and otherwise, but minor at worst. These speeches are MORE than worth listening to, and I am extremely grateful for the musicians who volunteered themselves to come out an perform in this way…exposed…brutally exposed.

Speaking with some of the people in attendance, it was the icing on the cake for their day, as it was held on the same day as Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. Others said that, at first listen, Obama’s speech was ordinary and uninspiring. But on the second listen, with a military drum beat and an emotional synthesized landscape of transitions, the speech came to life and was worthy of the praise being given it on the news.

It will happen again. It must.
I just hope the talented musicians (veterans now) come and participate in the next one.

Here’s the first speech of the night:
Ronald Reagan- Tear Down This Wall – June 12, 1987 in West Berlin, Germany
performed by Stephen Hargreaves, Chad Howson, and Stefan C.

VIDEO FROM SAMANTHA COOPER!!! JUST ADDED! Thanks Samantha! Jump to 3:00 to get past my mumbo-jumbo…

Phog Speech – Ronald Reagan in Berlin from samantha maryann on Vimeo.

Second speech:
Richard Nixon – Resignation Speech – August 8, 1974 in Washington, DC
performed by Martin Schiller and Kyle Marchand

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Save File: nixons__resignation_speech.m4a

Third speech:
This one has a little gap, where my batteries died, without warning. I stitched it together as best I could.
Martin Luther King Jr. – I’ve Been To The Mountaintop – April 3, 1968 (the day before his assassination) in Memphis, Tennessee
performed by Adam Rideout and Stefan (electronic)

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Save File: ive_been_to_the_mountaintop.m4a

Fourth and final speech:

2009 Inaugural Celebration. Washington D.C. National Mall thanks to

2009 Inaugural Celebration. Washington D.C. National Mall thanks to

Again, there was an issue with this speech that the performers played through. The streaming video of the speech was slow, and choppy.
So, there was some overlapping, and I again, did my best to stitch it together.
Barack Obama – Presidential Inauguration Speech – January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC
performed by Stephen Hargreaves and Stefan C.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Save File: obamas_inaugural_presidential_speech.m4a

Windsor Star reject

Okay, this is something I wrote for the Star.
I wrote it last week in the hopes that it would bring to light the group FedUp! They’re Windsor’s Community Gardening Network.
They had a WICKED veggie chili cook-off at the Windsor Workers Action Centre this Thursday that went by. The chili was so dynamic and different! Espresso veggie chili, raw (uncooked) veggie chili, blonde-with-mangoes veggie chili, and other wonderful tasting chili was showcased.
AND Jhoan won a raffle prize! Here’s a picture of her victory sticker! So awesome! These things, as posters, are selling for $500 right now.

Here’s the story that was late for the Monday paper. I just didn’t think to write it early enough, but I wanted to share it nonetheless.

By Tom Lucier

I have almost no idea where my food comes from. If I said that 75 years ago, people would think I was insane. Today, most people are clueless of not only what they put in their mouths, but where it was grown.

FedUp! Windsor’s Community Gardening Network is on the opposite end of this knowledge spectrum. They are part of a locavore movement, bringing together local food growers, gardeners, and those concerned about food-health.

According to co-creator of FedUp!, Maya Ruggles, the group has four mandates, “To strengthen the local food system…to start gardens collectively and democratically…to reclaim the urban landscape (to start gardens)…and to re-skill people in all the things going into local food production and consumption.”

This enormous uphill project is remarkably appealing because it looks to remind Windsor-folk of just how verdant this area’s land can be. I was scratching my head as to why I have to buy a tomato from California (4800 kilometers away) when Heinz, located in the tomato capital of Canada (Leamington) is exactly 48 kilometers away from my front door.

FedUp! seeks to ratify these incongruent arrangements in several ways. But the group is young, and small. “Right now it’s totally volunteer run,” said Ruggles. FedUp! is two and a half years old, operating on a very small budget while donations, especially from OPIRG (Windsor’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group) have been instrumental in keeping the group afloat.

FedUp! is most concerned about getting members, who can sit on committees. Volunteers are needed on an event-to-event basis, which will have a higher demand in this new year as they begin hosting more and more events

Currently, the group hosts movie nights, potlucks, creates gardens for places including the Citizens Environment Alliance, Ecohouse, and Iris House, and hosts workshops on composting, urban foraging, and cook-off competitions.

Currently, there’s a mapping project on the horizon which aims to, “map out un-harvested sources of food…fruit trees that aren’t harvested, or edible bushes,” said Ruggles. They hope to map un-harvested edibles on public and private land.
Ruggles added, “The next step would be to coordinate people…to actually do the harvesting and distribute the food, or use it in some way.”

The mapping project, which would be immense, could also help network gardeners and locavores. Another positive spin-off, according to Ruggles, would be, “connecting people that garden who don’t have land with people who do have land that don’t garden it.”

Judging by my gardening woes, my wife and I will both be paying more attention to this group’s happenings. We’re similarly fed up with getting food from places we’ve never visited when we’re sitting on underused, underappreciated, concrete-covered land when the food that could sustain us is waiting to be grown in our own backyards.

Street Lights

Listening to another podcast today, I was struck by another genius idea.
PRI’s The World Tech Podcast, hosted by Clark Boyd, out of Boston, is a podcast about technology, generally. The episode that made me think was this on right here, if you wan to listen. The story I’m talking about is halfway through.
Every once in a while, I am dumbfounded by something they report about.

An old lady of 85, Steffie lives in a smaller city in Germany. The local government decided that it spends too much taxpayer money keeping the street lights running all night long. So, they turn them off. But Steffie is safe. She can turn the lights on (for a 15 minute interval) by making a cell phone call. On the way to her bus stop, she makes a cell phone call and a voice message tells her how long the lights will be on. A modem is activated when the phone call is made, and the proper code is entered. How do you know the code? They’re listed online, and they are posted on the street lights themselves.

Joggers run with cell phones, travelers in cars have their own lights, and pedestrians (IF they want the light) have the power to switch on the lights for a safer movement down the street.

Many places in Europe want in on this movement, because the waste of energy is HUGE, and silly.
It’s akin to turning off the lights in a room when you leave it. When you don’t need it, why is it still running full blast? It’s plain and simple logic.

Now, I can already hear what naysayers will say…
“Not everyone has a cell phone!”
“Old people don’t know how to do this…they don’t have cell phones, and this will limit them.”
Steffie is 85. She has a cell phone. She is adjusting to the world around her for the betterment of her life.
Instead of sitting at home, and being a victim, she chooses to go out after dark, and return home alone after dark. She knows that if these are her choices, she will NEED a cell phone, and LEARN how to use it to turn the street lights on. If you don’t adjust to infrastructure change, with fair warning, you deserve to wallow in your lack of willingness to adapt.

It lends itself to the bigger argument of whether newspapers should stop wasting paper (like crazy) and simply go online.
“But that means only rich people will get the news!” is a line I’ve heard from some.
But what if this decision needs to happen for the business to stay afloat? What if you have two choices. A) Get news online from newspaper that has made shift to the web or B) Paper goes out of business, and you get nothing.
Trust me, people will adapt. People will get what they need to adjust. And I take issue with the lack of foresight and strategy to move ahead technologically, waiting on a grumpy, unwilling public because they fear basic change.

The solution isn’t necessarily that everyone would need an internet provider either. Mesh networks, and GROUPS of people choosing to equip a neighbourhood or apartment building with wi-fi internet would allow groups of people to have the internet, cheaper, and available for all those folks who think the internet costs a fortune.
On the far end…I believe, if one wants the news bad enough, that the libraries have free web-ready computers to use.

I digress. This technology of energy saving is beautiful. So simple. Energy savings. Tax dollars saved. And the elimination of light pollution?! Hello?! We could see the stars again at night! Imagine that!

Is this kind of move too advanced for your hometown? Is it asking too much to keep streetlights off unless otherwise needed by making a simple phone call? I think it’s exciting to think about, and something to consider for communities across the country.

Basketball downtown = Complaints

The day my roll-away rim fell through my car’s windshield, it had to go.

I got the rim for free using
I could not believe my luck the day I saw the availability listed in my inbox “subject” line. I had recently moved, and I didn’t have a rim nearby. I will grow to be the size of a house if I don’t play a couple of times per week. It was a victorious moment getting this behemoth out of the lady’s driveway and into Phog Lounge’s truck. It was the most dangerous drive I’ve ever taken, as it wanted to tumble out of the truck bed at the slightest degree change in direction. Turning a corner was almost impossible. It was so traumatic, getting it to my house, I think I blocked out most of the trip.

I do remember the woman who gave it to me, when she said, “We have to get rid of it, it fell and almost went through my neighbour’s kitchen window. There was a wind storm.”

Fast forward to the decision to bring this basketball hoop to Phog. It had to leave my house. Dreaming of having it somewhere close to (attached to) Phog was something I thought unfathomable. Why?
But, when I dragged it downtown (literally dragging it out the back of my minivan, scraping the road at every minor dip) Frank really didn’t say a thing. It was a bit of a miracle. I always hoped I would catch him shooting hoops when driving downtown one day, but it never happened.
Getting the rim to Phog was harder than getting it to my house. I had to stop twice, as it was falling out of the back of my van. These things are shaped like very tall esses. Like the letter “s” only thin and tall. No matter how you place it, it stays virtually the same shape. It was hell. I had to drive with one hand on the wheel, and one hand pulling ceaselessly on the hoop.
Unloading it was like finishing a major home renovation. I was making something new!

Customers could shoot a few hoops, joining my love for the game with their love for beer and music. People would play before we opened, while we were open, and after we closed. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before from the music community.

“Hey, wanna go shoot some hoops? Yeah? Hey Tom, can we get the ball?” became something I was beginning to hear more and more. I enjoyed hearing it more and more often. Even better was hearing the basketball (extremely faint) bouncing in the alley that I had swept clean for the first time in five years of business. The grit, the garbage, the homeless disjectamenta, bottle-caps from proprietors passed were all push-broomed out of sight, all for the sake of the game.

I played every chance I got. When I wasn’t biking to work, AND when I was, I would arrive and shoot baskets alone, until inevitably, a passerby would stop and say, “Can I get a shot?”

Of course, I gave them a shot, which turned into 20 shots. Yes, there were some people who actually could play, and there were screwballs wanting to show off for their young sons. There were shirtless weasels and weasels of another kind…lawyers heading to their parked cars. Normally, this trek consisted of a slight realization that they were standing next to the Capitol Theatre. Especially before Dave Kant added his giant artwork to the south end of the alley-wall of Phog. Now there was a reason to engage someone they had never met.

The dry cleaner across the street is a Chinese man. Metro Dry Cleaners. I’ve never said a word to him. Never needed to. I don’t dry clean anything. But when he saw me shooting one day, he meandered over University Avenue and nodded at me. We simply exclaimed how great it was to have the rim out there. Did I bring it from home? Yes, I told him. Great idea, he said. He took a shot. Just one. I invited him to shoot any time he wanted.

My main worry was that it would get torn down by local assholes out on Friday or Saturday night. I fully expected it to be vandalized, like many other good things downtown can be. Surprisingly, it is one of the only pieces of property that isn’t festooned with a god damn Denial sticker. Sorry Dan, but give me a break already.

Local and touring bands have found energy-inducing fun with this rim’s short life. You Say Party, We Say Die! and members of Winter Gloves had a two-on-two battle with myself included.
Here’s some video evidence.

Andrew MacLeod and I had an epic one-on-one game, after he had played on a Saturday evening and was liberally lubricated to the point that I could actually win the game. We played in what we had on. I in my Chuck Taylors, and he in his sandals. Jeans and corduroys were our uniforms. George Manury, a southpaw, shot baskets with me one afternoon after he planned to do so. It was a chance to talk to him without the usual social distractions I face when talking with him during business hours. It was great.

If you want to understand downtown Windsor on a weekend, imagine Mardi Gras. There might be more American kids between 19 and 21 than there are on Bourbon Street. It is a throng of alcohol-fueled hormonal outbursts, speckled with violence, drowned in stupidity. Imagine the sound of that. Imagine how loud, how overtly raucous this would be every weekend. Got it? Okay, I’ll continue.

After a show, one Saturday night, a couple of the customers want to shoot some hoops while I’m closing the bar. They take the ball and shoot around. When I finish my duties, I exit the building to get the ball, but I take a few shots first. I think I remember Ryan Fields making a shot from the street (!) which is almost 40 feet away. Nice! I also remember seeing the flashing lights of an ambulance down the alley toward the North. Not unusual. Someone pummeled someone else for looking at them the wrong way. So macho. People are screaming and yelling at each other as the bars empty.
“Hey bitch! Where you goin’?”
“Fuck you, dude!”
“Wait up!!”
“Stop!! Cabbie!! Stop! Fuck!”

This is the language and tone of the streets of Windsor on the weekend. Living downtown would be awful for this reason. Alas, if you choose to live downtown, you’re kind of up shit’s creek without a paddle because you chose to live in the city-centre where activity is encouraged. I suppose if I didn’t want to experience this I would live on the outskirts of downtown, rather than on ground zero.

As we are playing, a police car approaches.
“Shut it down fellas. We got a noise complaint.”
We looked at each other, frozen, wondering how anyone could actually complain about a bouncing ball with the most ridiculous noise happening steadily for the previous 10 years, let alone the previous 20 minutes.
We stopped.
We went home.

A couple of weeks later, an un-uniformed police officer comes into Phog. Nice guy. He tells me that if we get another complaint about the basketball, it will be bad. Very bad. Very costly. Someone in the Victoria Park Place apartments has complained. I asked if it was possible for someone else to complain, without just cause, was I still culpable and punishable?
“Just don’t play anymore,” he said.
“Like, I can still play during the day, right, the noise bylaw is after 11pm, right?”
“Nope,” he said, pulling out an official piece of paper, “your license says that you have to abide by the noise bylaw 24 hours a day.”
I remember shaking my head a little, like a cartoon character shaking away the cobwebs after a fall.
“Okay,” I said reluctantly.

Since then, it got cold, then it snowed. No b-ball.
But when it warms up, I might just have to draft a letter to the residents of that building.
I might have to inform them of our willingness to play only before a certain time of night.
They need to know what petty complaints are going to do to a small community. A community of people began engaging one another in a way that was absent before the installation of the hoop. That engagement will dissolve.
And yes, I have a problem with someone sitting in their castle balcony, making phone calls about noise (in a place where noise is environmentally apt) adversely affecting a community-at-large.

This is a classic Windsor thing, where someone makes noise complaints on a night when there is such a din, you can’t tell one sound from another.
It’s like choosing to live at the end of an airport runway, and then calling to file a noise complaint, to ground all future flights. Consider your surroundings before you decide to move in and reign supreme over your dominion.
There is more at stake than you can see from your perch.

Welcome President Obama!

picture-6His speech is available here.

This is going to make the “musicians scoring speeches” go SO much better tonight!


I love the entire idea of Martin Luther King Jr.
His bravery, his strength, and his conviction still moves me when I read about him, or even think about him.

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, in case you didn’t know.
I know this because it is the “bands play to famous speeches” tomorrow night at Phog.
I was listening to various speeches over the last few days, to select some speeches.
Listening to “I Have A Dream“, and “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop” (the last speech he ever made in Memphis, in support of the garbage workers’ strike) I am moved in a way that I am rarely ever struck emotionally. Listening to his speeches…to the overwhelming awareness, foresight, it makes me incredibly grateful that Dr. King was the man he was.
I cannot imagine a world where he did not exist, with all of his helpers, followers, and supporters…each as brave as him.

Listening to him, he makes you feel like, you too, can make a contribution. You can effect change. You can make a place better by being brave enough to think, and to do so while being in your truth.
Dr. King, seriously, is one of the figures I think of when I imagine Windsor climbing out of the doldrums. He’s the man I think of when I sadly shake my head at the examples of poor leadership anywhere…but especially in Windsor and Detroit.
He wasn’t a “politician” even though he was political…and he had to think politically. He was a man. He was a man with an idea of how the country/world should be.

On this day, I wish to find more people like him. And when they’re found, to honour them for their strength, wisdom, and bravery. I wish to wonder for a world better than it was when I entered it. Thinking and remembering Martin Luther King Jr. brings hope to that possibility. There are those extraordinary among us, if they only feel the purpose to engage.

Thank you Dr. King.