Middle age guide to growing up.

N’Awlins

Trip to New Orleans, July, 1999"Bite they tiny haids and pinch they li'l tails"The salutation refers to the recommended manner of eating boiled crawfish.Deb and I are just back from four days in N'Awlins, and ain't that a naughty city!We saw more decadence, late night...

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Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

Santa Fe, October, 1999We're back a week from Santa Fe, and we both want to go back there, because it's such a civilized town. The oldest capital in North America, and surely the nicest. Deb's producer calls it the New York of the Southwest. It's almost perfect, the...

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Election Night

It was the night before the federal election. I’m a pollster. That’s like Christmas Eve, only it comes once every four years, like an Olympics. It’s an event you don’t want to miss. My crew was in field polling all day (it was Sunday), and we were getting ready to...

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A Fair Day

I got to the yacht club at 11:30 and banged off some work on the computer below before lunch. Jamie, my First Officer boarded in full motorcycle gear just as I finished lunch (roast beef sandwich, chips and a Beck’s (non-alcoholic) beer). We warmed up the 90...

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A Four Hour Cruise

It was supposed to be a simple four hour cruise, Niagara-On-The-Lake to Toronto, a straight line, 27 nautical miles, course 325 degrees. My former crewman and first officer, Jamie, had, to everybody’s surprise, bought himself a boat identical to mine, a 36 foot...

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What’s Cooking?

It’s not that I can’t cook, I can, very well by comparison with some men my age, but I’m lazy. If it involves precise measurement, timing, greasing and prepping pans and especially baking, I’m not interested.One of my favourite dishes (and a favourite among those who...

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Noblesse Obliged

I ruled a small Barony on the Welsh marches at one time. I’ll tell you how it came about. Late in 2001, disgusted with the generally shitty state of the world post 9-11, I started to look into my family’s background. I knew we came from an old family on my...

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Planting Season

For boomers, it’s getting into planting season, metaphorically speaking, when we’ll start burying our contemporaries more frequently. My friends and I have already buried our parents (most of us) and one or two friends. I suppose we’re lucky it's just a few. My old...

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Summer Stocked

One summer in the early 80s, after I had returned from a couple of years in Latin America, I applied, whimsically, I thought, for the position of Artistic Director of one of the country’s oldest summer stock theatres, and one with a unique cultural role. Located in...

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Motorhead

I haven’t owned that many cars in my life, until recently, when I’ve been using them up at a rate of about one a year. None of the unfortunate circumstances leading to this are really my fault, but they all seem to end up with my latest Mazda 3 getting written off by...

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If You Can Say It, You Can Climb It

Mt Popocatepetl hangs over the Mexican city of Cuernavaca like a towering cloud over a sunny walled garden. Popo has been an active volcano for thousands of years, and occasionally belched during the years I lived there in the 70s.I was running an amateur theatre...

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Stocks And Bondage

I’m a boomer, and when I was growing up the Dow Jones Average was a three-digit number. And it served purposes other than measuring the value of a basket of stocks. It’s said the ad agency for the makers of Colt 45, a malt liquor favoured by inner city blacks, bought...

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Taxi From Hell

This is one of my Mexico stories. I was living in Cuernavaca, a pleasant resort town south of the volcanoes that ring the capital city. The town had been the vacation resort of the Aztec Emperors, the Emperor Maximilian (the brother of the Austrian Emperor and...

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A Fun Crowd

I’m a Boomer, and, unlike hundreds of thousands of people my age, I had an actual ticket to Woodstock ($7 a day for three days) but didn’t go. I was 15 and I couldn’t get a ride (from my home a hundred miles away in Connecticut). I was full of regret at my friends’...

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Big Girls Don’t Cry

I hung out in Cuernavaca in the mid 70s, a time when Mexico was peaceful and prosperous. I ran a theatre company in town which attracted all the expats and backpackers passing through, there to teach ESL to support themselves.Most of them ended up in our plays....

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Rocked ‘n’ Rolled

I’m a Boomer, old enough that I saw the Stones tour Exile On Main Street. We were in someone’s mother’s Chevy, cruising down Sherbrooke to the Forum for the show, passing a joint between cars. Someone dropped it, and, without a beat, the car behind slowed down, opened...

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Kathy and Jean

I was living in Cuernavaca in the late 70s, a garden city south of the volcanoes that ring Mexico City. It was a city full of ruins human and stone. The Zocalo was full of superannuated veterans of both sides of the Spanish Civil War, plus the retired CIA agents who...

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Getting Schooled

I’m a boomer, and I’m old enough that my boarding school was still enthusiastically beating children when I attended. Male children only, of course, who slept 8 to a room. This was one of Ontario’s best private schools, and the choice of the crowned heads of Europe...

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The Misfits

I’m a boomer, and I’m old enough that the teachers at my boarding school were not so much rigourously screened for their suitability as they were sieved out of the available teaching (and non-teaching) pool. Boarding schools didn’t pay much in the 60s because they...

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Turning Over The Odometer

That was the year that everyone I know turned 60. I remember the year everybody got married, 1985, and then, 30 years later, we were all marking our three score.At my little celebration, we hit a bistro, and I had steak tartare and foie gras. On my wife’s 60th, we hit...

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The Long Road South

I’m a Boomer, and I’ve lived through 11 presidents, Eisenhower to Obama. Right in the middle was Jimmy Carter, naval officer and peanut farmer. I got off the long distance Greyhound in DC and walked to the White House. It was late the night before Jimmy’s...

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Generation 5

I’m a boomer, and I won the lottery. I was born white, male, Canadian, in the middle of the twentieth century. It doesn’t get better than that anywhere in the world. But like all but a few Canadians, I’m not from here, or at least my family isn’t.I come from a long...

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In The Woods

This happened in the late 70s, when I was living in a cabin under the butternut tree at the family farm in Quebec. I was out of college, between jobs and helping my friend Barry build his great big house (castle, really) up the hill and in the woods. He had dug...

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First World Problems

Last summer, I tweeted "I can’t get wifi on my yacht". That was the first time I realized I had first world problems. It’s not really a yacht, it’s a workmanlike motorsailer, about 30 years old, and in the summer, I use it as my office. It’s moored at the local yacht...

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Hot Wheels For Christmas

I go through cars the way most people go through gym shoes; another one every year, usually around Christmas. Last year, I wrapped my car around a lamp post and rolled it, and drove it home. The year before that, I rear-ended a cement truck and lost. That one was...

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The Sporting Life

I’m a Boomer, and I’m about as athletic as a fencepost, but I’ve always been light on my feet and limber. I could run the bases but not hit the ball. I could scrum in rugby but couldn’t pass. I could skate, sort of, but I couldn’t stop. That one year playing rugby at...

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Campaigns and Champagne

I’m a Boomer, and the first election I remember was Diefenbaker winning his final victory (a minority) in June of 1962 when I was 8. We lived in the US, but my parents were Liberals and were interested in the outcome. My mother went out and left me with the radio and...

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Designing Dollars

I’m a Boomer, and I’m old enough to remember when the mud-brown two dollar bill with a view of Richmond, Quebec on the back was common currency. In fact, I have a framed twenty from the year of my birth, dated 1954. It’s a pale shade of green and looks like an...

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Smooth Sailing III

I’m a Boomer and a sailor, and I’m old enough to remember when America’s Cup yachts were made of wood. I’ve been talking about my adventures in boats in these pages, and I want to finish up here before I completely alienate the non-nautical readers.In the last...

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Smooth Sailing II

I’m a Boomer and a sailor. If you’re my age, the first image you have of sailing is Jack Kennedy and a bunch of tow-headed kids on a big cutter, in winds I’d never go out in. I’m what’s known as a wind pussy, scared of anything over 8 knots, 10 knots max. I wrote...

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Smooth Sailing I

I’m a Boomer, and the first movie I remember seeing (in 1959) was the Cine-Miracle documentary Windjammer, which I saw at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It made an impression that lasted all my life, that of ships and the sea. I bought a sailboat for my 50th...

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Acting Out

I’m a Boomer, and on the day I was born, Song of Saskatchewan, starring Allan Ladd and Shelly Winters, was playing at Loew’s Cinema in Toronto. That night,  tenor Jussi Bjorling missed his concert at Massey Hall (probably, in fact almost certainly, because he was...

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Flying High

I’m a Boomer, born long enough ago that the first time I flew was on a TWA Superconstellation, a sleek propeller plane with triple tails. I wore a jacket and tie, so did everyone else. The Superconstellation has been gone for half a century, so has TWA and no one...

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Good Eats

I’m a Boomer, and when I was growing up, brown bread was exotic. My mother was a child of the depression and cooked everything she made from the basic ingredients. They weren’t always premium ingredients, either. We kept guinea pigs, and they lived in a big cage in...

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On The Beach

I’m a Boomer, old enough to remember when Lyndon Johnson sent the Marines to the Dominican Republic to openly overthrow a leftist leader, the last time the US pulled a stunt like that until Iraq. I don’t know how the history of the Dominican Republic might have...

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Polls Apart

I’m a Boomer, old enough that when I started working in the market research business, we used punch cards for the computer. If you spilled a tray, you had a massive data error which could only be rectified by counting and sorting them by hand. My first fax machine was...

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Filling The Bucket

I’m a Boomer, and I've more than chalked up the three score I’m allotted, but I expect a lot more than ten more. I figure I have the genes, temperament and persistence to live to about 95. That means I have 35 years or so to do everything on my bucket list.It’s not...

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Everyday Hero

I’m a Boomer, born long enough ago that I remember the Gringo Trail when it was a trail, lined with forgotten beach hideaways, not a superhighway lined with all-inclusive resorts.I was stuck in Puerto Arista, a nasty little beach town in southern Mexico on the Pacific...

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Star Gazer

I’m a boomer, born the year On The Waterfont won the Oscar™ for Best Picture (and Best Actor for Marlon Brando, Best Director for Elia Kazan, Best Supporting Actress for Eva Marie Saint and Best Screenplay for Budd Schulberg). These are all artists I admire...

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Bush League

I’m a Boomer and when I was born, I first lived at Heart Lake in Brampton, deep in the bush outside of Toronto, at the end of a long rutted road. Of course, Brampton is a jam-packed urban community now, with a big city mayor and big city scandals, but the bush is...

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The Eye Of The Needle

I’m a boomer, old enough to remember hearing a roomful of adults congratulate another adult for getting a raise to $100 a week. “Geez, that’s a lot of money for a young man. What are you going to do with it all”. It wasn’t huge wealth, but it was a solid living wage....

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Plain Folk

I’m a boomer, old enough to do have circled around the Gringo Trail before it became a ring of resorts and all-inclusive beach clubs. I’ve slung my hammock under palm thatched palapas on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with no one around to care if I...

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Tripping The Light Fantastic

I’m a Boomer, born when homosexuality was still outlawed in Britain, and still prosecuted. In retrospect, this seems like a fairly self-defeating policy when you think how many eminent Britons are or were gay. Anyway, that’s all in the past, and Britain knights its...

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Royal Flush

I’m a Boomer, born one year after our current and undoubted Queen, Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, was crowned. I’m drawing a pension and she’s still working, which tells you something about the English in general and her family in particular.I’ve had my brushes with...

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The Skinny On Shinny

I’m a Boomer, and the Captain of my heart growing up was Yvan Cournoyer, small, speedy, uncouth and unconventional. This is the time of year when life becomes all about two things that are important to me; hockey (the Stanley Cup) and sailing (my boat goes in the...

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The Worried Well

I’m a Boomer and I had my mid life crisis at 45, around the time Bill Clinton was being impeached for having his. As these things go, it wasn’t that drastic, I got fed up, pissed off my clients, quit drinking and quit my job. OK, it was pretty drastic, but I never...

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Working Out

I’m a Boomer, born when men still wore fedoras and women wore the “New Look”. I grew up in Connecticut in a town full of Mad Men (the real thing, Madison Avenue ad execs) and airline pilots. It was a nice upper-middle class colonial town. It’s claim to fame was that...

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Boomers and Millennials

I’m a Boomer, and all the figures of authority are younger than me. The president of the United States is just barely a Boomer, if Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, we would finally be out of power. Generation X is finally poised to make its long-delayed grab for...

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Cashing In

I’m a Boomer, born long enough ago that I got to meet Tommy Douglas and talk boxing with him. He wasn’t much interested in politics at that point, but as a former welterweight, the Ali-Frazier fight that night had him all worked up. He was father of medicare, one of...

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Pop’s Parka

I’m a Boomer, born long enough ago that the winter of ’63, which blanketed Northeastern North America with about 5 feet of snow, was prime playtime for me, not hell on earth. We had snowbanks 10 feet high along the driveway, into which my siblings and I dug tunnels...

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Shafted

I’m a Boomer, born the same year as the Voting Rights Act, which finally conferred democracy on American blacks nearly a century after the Emancipation. I cherish democracy, being born white and male in North America in the middle of the 20th century, I think of it as...

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Aftermath

I’m a Boomer, old enough to break instead of bruise, and at that point where recovery from a simple bit of blunt trauma can take forever, if it ever happens. I had a car accident two years ago. I wrapped my beloved Mazda 3 ramp rocket around a metal lamppost, rolled...

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Hot Wheels

I’m a Boomer, born just as North American automobiles blossomed from rounded modest post-war creatures into swooping winged steeds, fit to carry movie stars and pop singers. The fascination with the automobile has been a concurrent theme with the rise, flowering and...

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A Social Medium Rarely Well Done

I’m a Boomer, which means I’m in the prime age for Facebook, the social network designed for randy college students (at Harvard, no less). If you’re my age, you have a Facebook profile, with a flattering picture in the right light (or worse, one of your dog) and a...

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Hurry Sundown

I’m a Boomer, and my grade 4 class was cancelled and sent home when we learned JFK had been shot. I saw Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down by Jack Ruby on live TV the next afternoon. That being said, let’s talk about death.Our parents faced death with the same resignation...

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School’s Out

I’m a Boomer, and I went to college when it was more a smorgasbord  of learning experiences than a multi-course meal of pedagogical dishes. Half my credits for two of my years of University were for a program called Dialogue, and it was precisely as fuzzy as...

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Blind Faith

I’m a Boomer, and if I were Jewish, I’d have celebrated my Bar Mitzvah the same year Canada celebrated it’s Centennial. I have a Centennial one dollar bill from that year, no serial number, just 1867-1967 and the stylized Centennial maple leaf. But this column isn’t...

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What’s Eating You?

I’m a Boomer, born at the height of the Baby Boom and now getting a pension cheque. For dinner tonight, I had grilled tempeh, rice and roasted Brussels sprouts with hummus and tzatziki and hot sauce. If you think this is a parody of granola-head dining, you may be...

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It’s Not Dark Yet

I’m a boomer, about two thirds of the way through my allotted span. I’m going to do better than three score and ten, but I’m not sure I’m going to do 150 years. They say the first person who will live that long is already 50. I’m past 60, but maybe that means I’m...

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Demon Alcohol

I’m a Boomer, born at the height of the baby boom, and about the same age as a B-52. I don’t drink now. I used to, like most of my friends. Most of my friends don’t drink now. We all filled up our dance cards by the time we were in our 40s, and decided it was tea...

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The Boomer Trinity

I’m a Boomer. In the summer of 1969, I was 15 years old and I lived in Connecticut. Unlike thousands who went, I had an actual ticket to Woodstock, but I didn’t go. I couldn’t find a ride. I’d bought the ticket at my local record store, the same one I’d lined up...

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This Is The End, My Friend

I’m a Boomer, born just late enough (by days) to avoid the draft in the Vietnam War. I was living in the US at the time, and they were drafting resident aliens and people with green cards first. My older brother actually got his draft lottery number in the mail, one...

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Mind The Gap

I’m a Boomer, old enough to remember the passage of the Voting Rights Act in the US and, unfortunately, young enough to see it struck down. This column’s not about politics, though, it’s about work, and the jobs we do when we’re young.I did a lot of crappy jobs when I...

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Politically Corrected

I’m a Boomer, born ten years to the hour after the Great Escape and now three score years and one. I’ve been interested in politics all my life, and have tried to be as involved as I can be without running for office. That would be difficult, my backstory is a little...

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The Best Game You Can Name

I’m a Boomer, born at the height of Teeder Kennedy’s career with the Leafs. Not that I’m a Buds fan, long residence in Quebec, and an appreciation for hockey history, have made me a proud supporter of Les Bleu Blanc Rouge, Les Glorieux, Les Boys, les Habs, the...

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Not Just Golf

I’m a Boomer, born at the height of the Baby Boom and past three score and ten. Bill Clinton got there first, and scoped out the scene for the rest of us. He found it good, and we all followed. Now Bill Clinton has his Global Initiative to keep him busy, but my...

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Working Late

I’m a Boomer, born at the height of the boom in 1954. I spent my most productive years in a corporate environment, rising up the ladder to become a vice president. This was in my mid-40s. The inevitable mid-life crisis hit, and I realized I didn’t believe in the...

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What’s Up Doc?

I’m a Boomer, born at the height of the baby boom, and I’m just north of 60. My longtime family doctor, whom I inherited when I married my wife, is older than me, but she too is a Boomer, and she knows what it’s all about.She can diagnose with a look and a sniff. She...

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Coming Of Age

Coming Of AgeI was a yuppie (Young Urban Professional) and am a boomer (Baby Boomer, born between 1946 and 1964) and I’m 59. All those things seem contradictory to me, because I feel, and think I am, about 29.This can be dangerous. I drive recklessly, I act...

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