Let Him Die

Let Him Die

I attend sports events almost entirely for the atmosphere. If you only want to carefully scrutinize a game it is better to watch it on TV for free. You will get far more replays, ongoing analysis and timely updates about player injuries. But nothing matches the thrill of being part of a giant roaring crowd, urging your team on to victory, riding a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. That’s why people pay massive sums to attend live sports…

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Festival Express

Festival Express

“I don’t know where you’ve been all week, but we’ve been at a party.” – Janis Joplin I always enjoy Canada Day because I love this country the way every immigrant does. On this July 1st I will celebrate it by telling the tale of my favourite Canada Day – 1970 in Winnipeg, two years after I emigrated to Canada and five years before I became a citizen. That day is part of a larger narrative – the greatest rock…

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The Ugly Americans

The Ugly Americans

I have met many delightful Americans while travelling in foreign lands, but I think it is safe to assume that collectively Americans go abroad less and are generally less well liked overseas than travellers from comparable countries because of their sense of superiority and belief in American exceptionalism. They may just be TOO exceptional for foreigners to appreciate. I encountered two of the most exceptional while hitchhiking around Europe in 1971. A few weeks earlier I had met a wonderful…

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Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead

I have travelled a lot in Third World nations and I have had my share of annoying stomach bugs and other minor intestinal ailments, but one time in October, 2008, on the fabled Snowman Trek in Bhutan – a beautiful Himalayan country east of Nepal and south of China – I experienced the worst night of my life. I woke up just before midnight and felt a horrific rumbling in my guts unlike anything I had ever experienced. It just…

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A Walk on the Wild Side

A Walk on the Wild Side

I have always had a fascination with trains. It started because my parents never owned a car or ever drove one, so we often travelled on trains and buses and it was a lot more comfortable and fun to ride the trains. I would stare out the window at the scenery flashing by and imagine I was running at super speed beside the train, leaping over fences, dodging other obstacles, creating an exhilarating sense of freedom and agency that my…

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1969 – A Tale of Two Rock Festivals

1969 – A Tale of Two Rock Festivals

Purely by coincidence I happened to be very close to the two biggest North American rock festivals of 1969. Everyone knows about Woodstock, but the other one is often described as the greatest rock festival that nobody remembers. Except for the 110,000 of us who were there. That’s what happens when the organizers make no attempt to film three days of tremendous musical performances. It has no afterlife. When the most famous rock festival of them all followed 12 days…

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Flying the Hippie Airlines

Flying the Hippie Airlines

By 1971 I had hitchhiked around virtually every corner of North America except the American deep south, meeting people of all kinds and travelling through mountains, deserts, the prairies, the bible belt and the great plains, plus visiting many of the continent’s big cities and basking in that California sun. Now, it was time for something new and different – Europe. I was excited by the idea of experiencing different cultures and interacting with the local people, but a little…

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A Close Encounter

A Close Encounter

It was a beautiful mid-October day in the Dolpo region of western Nepal in 2014. Under bright blue skies our group of 13 trekkers left the lovely village of Saldang, and crossed the 4,565 metre (14,977 foot) Khoma La mountain pass, before slowly descending to the village of Khomagaon, just in time to witness a wonderful series of horse races, part of a grand and colourful wedding celebration. I was enjoying myself immensely and mingling with the huge crowds of…

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Like a Rolling Stone

Like a Rolling Stone

Sometimes I just can’t make up my mind. That’s when I leave things up to fate. It was late September 1970, and I had been hanging out at my parents’ place in West Orange, New Jersey, for about a month. It was my second visit that year and it was clearly time to move on. But where to? I could hitchhike back to Edmonton and see if I could land a job, but I was also tempted to head north…

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Aye, there goes Bobby Sands

Aye, there goes Bobby Sands

The body of Bobby Sands was moved to his family home in the Catholic Twinbrook neighbourhood of West Belfast on the day the 27-year-old hunger striker finally died of starvation. Thousands of friends, relatives and fellow paramilitary volunteers came to the wake to pay their respects, and two days later Sands was given a hero’s funeral by the Provisional IRA. It began with a mass at his local church, St. Luke’s Chapel, followed by a nearly three-hour-long, five-mile procession, led…

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