Pat Blythe – It’s Been Six Years!!!….and music

Celebrate! Celebrate! February 17, 2021 and I have now been writing this column and contributing to DBAWIS for six years! I cannot believe it’s been that long!! I feel like I’ve barely taken a breath and here we are. So much has changed in what feels to me, the blink of an eye. Personal events, local events, worldwide events……dramatic, heroic, painful, overwhelming, appalling, laughable, funny, warm-hearted, scandalous, joyful, impactful, eye rolling, heartbreaking and heartwarming….it’s all there. Some were life altering, some we felt closer to home, and others we could only look on in shame or awe or pure astonishment. Other events left us scratching our heads wondering if people had lost their collective minds. (They had)

It takes a full 24 hours to put a column together from start to finish. I begin over the weekend and then take Tuesdays (and sometimes Wednesday mornings) as my time to focus on this column. Most people know Tuesdays as my “writing day”. Researching, editing the words and the pictures and/or photographs, rewriting and putting the final piece together, having a second set of eyes peruse for missing punctuation…..the entire exercise is a learning experience every time. I really hope many of you have enjoyed reading my thoughts, diatribes, nonsense, verbal diarrhea, etc. as much as I have writing it. Now the podcast has added a new dimension.

DBAWIS

The past six years of writing for DBAWIS has opened up doors I never thought I’d be walking through. It has introduced me to people I never thought I’d be meeting and has reconnected me to those I thought I’d lost. It has put me behind the camera, launching a radically unexpected twist to my life. It has sucked me (willingly) back into a world I never realizing how deeply it was missed until I was in the heart of it. Music, festivals, concerts, celebrations, touring, clubbing; but the people, they have been THE best part.

THANK YOU!!

There is no one word (or even a thousand) that could accurately describe how much of a dramatic impact this column has had on my life, quite literally changing it a full 180 degrees since losing Chris seven years ago. For all of that I thank Bob, not just for welcoming me into the DBAWIS family, but for encouraging me, in his own curmudgeonly fashion, constantly reminding me that the only person who has to like what I write is me…..as long as I’m happy with it, everyone else be damned! There is no one who calls a spade a spade more succinctly or emphatically than Segarini! I’m happy to be on his team.

Judgment call

I have no idea what I was thinking when I started typing the following. Sometimes my fingers have a mind of their own….either that or my brain just goes AWOL!!!  It could have been a conversation I had with a good friend about the homeless, or maybe it was something I saw on FB or IG or a documentary on Netflix….or maybe even something I read. I’m unable to think of one specific thing, but I do remember the long discussions I used to have with Chris about looking through “our” eyes rather than “their” eyes. What is this pressing urge, this all encompassing desire we have to “make things right” without stopping to think maybe “our way” isn’t “their way” or even the “right way”.

We all base our opinions, judgments, attitudes, etc. on our own lives…..what we’ve learned, been taught, experienced or even witnessed, in direct relation to ourselves and those familiar worlds we grew up in. Everyone, regardless of race, creed, colour, religion, nationality…..we all reason, judge or sometimes excuse by those standards.  Our beliefs, social mores and expectations are based on our familial upbringing, our peers, our teachers or mentors, our community and religious leaders. This is all reflected in our behaviour…..our actions and reactions. It doesn’t matter the country, the city or the neighbourhood…..these are worlds we know and these are the worlds we use as a comparison.

We are often too quick to judge or assume. We don’t stop to take a breath and read between the lines. Critical thinking, questioning, researching, understanding…..it’s all been tossed out the window. Our emotions take control. We want to “fix” everything, from adopting every sad looking puppy we see to feeding every starving child in Africa, without regard to how it can be done or sustained. What happens when we walk away after satisfying our own egos? The human race has a habit of disrupting and disturbing worlds we have no knowledge or understanding of, in many cases making them co-dependent on our “good will”. What happens when that “good will” ends?

……the wall

I remember when the Berlin Wall came crashing down. Every TV in the world was tuned in. I also remember Chris turning to me and wondering out loud if anyone was even remotely aware, or had even considered what the consequences would be. The euphoria, the sheer elation, the ecstasy…..the jubilation that spread around the world was like a hurricane, sweeping us up in this wild celebration. Everyone who was anyone wanted to be a part of that momentous occasion. The wall was finally down! East Germany was “free”. People spilled over the rubble in both directions. Families and friends were reunited. Lost lives and years were remembered. I distinctly recall photographs of Barbie dolls and other toys being handed out to young children. Ahhhhhh……freedom and capitalism!

In reality life doesn’t work that way.  We know living in East Germany during those years could be dangerous, life threatening, repressive, demeaning, cruel and even backward…..at least by our (democratic?) standards. We compared their lives with our lives, looking through our eyes and the eyes of the media. Once the wall came down there were now millions of people who were instantly unemployed (and unemployable) with no money, little education, no healthcare….the state had taken care of everything. Now they had to depend on West Germany and the unknown.

The irony…..

The fallout…..those unintended consequences never contemplated. In the world’s emotional eagerness to “fix” and “make better” we tore down a wall without considering the actual lives of those behind that wall? We felt great! We did good! Right? Instead, 30 years on, a metaphorical wall still stands and the division between the two Germanys is getting wider. The economic, cultural and political gaps are expanding not contracting. Integration hasn’t gone so well.

Live at the Berlin Wall – Roger Waters performs Pink Floyd’s The Wall

The disparities between East and West Germany are still a chasm, what was hoped for hasn’t transpired. It’s been a hugely painful readjustment for all Germans. To this day many East Germans still feel like second-class citizens. All the rock stars and movies stars have gone home. The Berlin Wall is remembered but is now more of a footnote in the history books. What is forgotten are the catastrophic changes the building and razing of a single wall caused for millions of lives; for those who lived through it and for the generations that will follow after. The wall is still casting a shadow more than 30 years into the future.

Please note; this is not a commentary on East Germany or its communist regime or jails or whether or not we should be helping people (we should). I’m not interested in going down the rabbit hole of the whys and wherefores, the good, the bad and the ugly of the Berlin Wall or communism. It’s simply an example of the point I’m trying to make, to look beyond the superficial….seeing what lies beneath the surface. “Were we even thinking about, or considering those individual lives, or did our idealistic, “democratic freedoms” blur our vision. Tear down the wall and everything will be just fine.”

What lies beneath the surface?

I have no idea……

Why or why am I writing about this…..and why the Berlin Wall? Well, it was the first example that popped into my head of how we are so good at foisting our ideals, standards, morals etc. on others. We rush in with the idea of “making it better” when in fact, many times we make it worse. There seems to be a lot of rhetoric and little in the way of planning, preparing and asking the hard questions. We seem to ignore addressing those “unintended consequences” until it’s too late. We point fingers and the blame game begins, bouncing from one to another, like a ping pong ball in a jam jar (as one friend likes to say). The world had one single-minded goal….tear down a wall…..then what? (Note: It should never have been built and I was thrilled to see it come down. It was an epic moment in time.)

My point is…..walk a mile in “their” shoes. We seem to have a difficult time understanding not everyone lives like us. It’s like we want to make everything homogenous. We move into a certain neighbourhood because we love it, but then proceed to change it, remaking it into something we think it should be and destroying what attracted us to it in the first place. It’s not working for neighbourhoods, why would it work for countries?

We need to open our eyes and our minds, read between the lines and between those lines; don’t just dip your toes in the shallow end, use our logical minds, appreciate our differences and our sameness. As human beings we will always (and should) strive to make things “better”, to help ourselves and each other, but also realize that sometimes we just have to accept things the way they are.

Celebrate – Three Dog Night

Fools Overture – Supertramp

First We Take Manhattan – Jennifer Warrens

There But For Fortune – Joan Baez

Walk A Mile in My Shoes – Joe South

Turn, Turn, Turn – The Byrds

Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey – Sly and The Family Stone

The Logical Song – Supertramp

Stand – Sly and The Family Stone

Imagine – John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band

Countermeasure are an a cappella group I’ve been following for some years now. Thanks to Pat Silver, who is the founder of SING! Toronto, the only a cappella festival in the world (at least it was and I’m sure she’ll correct me) I love human voices singing in harmony….it’s a glorious feeling! Countermeasure have expanded somewhat into using instruments along with their voices. The following song is “inspired by the world of bandmate and vocal soloist Qwyn Alexis, Hold On reflects her experiences of motherhood: the fear and helplessness of setting your children out into the world, and the hope that by instilling them with love decency, and pride, they’ll be equipped to face whatever life has in store.”

Hold On – Countermeasure

Blue Moon Drive – Tom Wilson & iskwē

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sane.

Cheers!

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – It’s Been Six Years!!!….and music”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    Nice work, very thoughtful and thoughtprovoking. Congratulations on 6 years, by the way.

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