October 9, 2002
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada


Take this and mull it over.

I was walking by that mural of the Great fire of Saint John on Union Street the other evening and thought it would be cool for a new cultural festival with the Fire as it's theme. Just think of a the fire's history laid out as a series of skits, displays and other artistic performances throughout the area where it occured. Sort of a "el dia de los muertos" for SJ!!! There could even be a candlelight parade at night and it it would be best timed this time of the year during Fire Prevention week and as a lead in to Hallowe'en.Both Vancouver and Toronto have day of the dead ceremonies the draw large, ethnically diverse crowds so for us in SJ, I think the addition of a historical bend would draw out some of the non-artistic citizens to watch and take part. I am sure this would get the fire department involved in some way too.

What do you think?



Joe... I checked out your site, but from your photo I couldn't tell if we've met.

Let me know when if so... we likely have, but Godin is not ringing bells.

Yes... I'm totally into what you are saying. The key is getting people together. I love bonfires, and I think it would be cool to have a big community bonfire. Fire tore our city apart... and could bring us together. We could play music, share stories, poetry, dance... whatever.

What I think this community needs is better opportunities to network. Back in the day... people used to go the church to see their neighbors, and they'd have big potlucks. My family church, Hillcrest does that stuff: plays, community meals, etc. I'm not into organized religion anymore, so the closest thing I can find is O'learys open mike, where I'm heading in a few minutes, cuz thats where I hear local kids on stage singing in celebration of life, I'll meet new people, and the same folks will be there. I'd like to have something like that not at a bar so all ages could attend. We need our community centers to come alive at night. Most just the little kids use them, although I do attend a unitarian church meeting at the Calton community center every so often.

So back to Halloween, the Day of the dead, freak parades through the uptown with fire jugglers and glow stick twirlers... leading to a bonfire on Fort Howe. Sounds great... but do we have the numbers, the energy, the freaks? I think so... but we need to reach them. Heck... start small... anything is better than nothing!

Yesterday I went to Fort Howe to finish off a roll of slide film, and by chance met Norman Tupmin, the one legged old native man who has made it his personal mission to be care taker of the block house. He mows the lawn by wheel chair, and uses a rope on the hills. What a character. You should go see him. 7 years ago or so he open the block house after ages being closed to find three inches of bird crap on the floor. He brought bleach, then cleaned it out himself. He brought the lawn mower and whiper-snipper too, out of his own pocket and sits up the volunteer, making dream chatchers and giving tours to visitors. He hosted big bonfire up there for several years, drawing as many as 400 people at one time, although I never heard of or seen any. He had them where the big gawdy Saint John sign is now. Once, he said, he had a fire 16ft wide with flames shooting up 20ft. I'd love to see that! The firemen loved it too; they are some of the biggest pyros you know. They'd always be there with a truck to make sure it didn't get out of control. When the new cheif took office he put a stop to it saying there's no insurance. Screw him. I think if enough people want a fire we'll have ourselves a fire. Gotta go to O'learys. Give me a call, I'll take you for a paddle. 635-4122

Cory... I lived in Toronto up until June and previously emailed you once before. I mentioned that I knew Doug Basque because I saw the Deep See Doug photo and that I was in a few of Ivy's classes in high school. One of the squares or Loyalist burial groung could be the central where plays and info booths or merchants( yes merchants!!! People will come out if they know they can bring a piece of jewellery or art back home with them, face painting?) Funny you should mentioned UU, last week I told my wife that I was going to attend one of their services this Sunday. I did quite a bit of research on UU but could use some feedback from you if you don't mind. As for O'learys do you find the Guinness a bit watery? Maybe I am fussy but it should always be better on tap than the can. Starting small is always the key. Talking to certain people in the community is starting point. I am not sure about whether Bernard Cormier would be warm ( get it?) to this idea - have you ever dealt with him? My brother and I said hi to him a few months ago when taking photos, hmm I am sure he has a lot of cool stories to tell. Ciao for now

Joe... yes... I remember hearing from you and seeing the photo. The loyalist burial sounds like a great idea! Francis Helyar dresses in old costumes and tells stories around up town. She'd be great! Bernard is cool, and I don't think he'd be cold to the idea. He could be there as Bernard the magician. We'd need to move super fast to do it this year, and may be able to do something small, but really we should look at next year, and just get people talking about it now. The UU people are great, very open, nice folks. Let me know when is good for you to meet.

Thanks again for getting in touch. We need more folks like you in this city. I think going away helps, because when you come back you see all the potential here. If you don't go away you don't know and different.