Opening Statement



Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Teacher Free Speech Contract Guide!

My Teacher + Union Acronym Guide is Here! 



Read all about it ...

Theses certainly are interesting times! This fall our Ontario teacher unions are negotiating your next contract. The current ones expire August 31. They will be negotiating with a  Liberal majority government, according to the new terms of Bill 122: The School Board Collective Bargaining Act 2014 !

As you trickle back from summer holidays you can find the contract news items from my Teacher Summer News and Views updates now relocated here for your convenience . Other teacher news is still on that blog Here . My blogsite archive is located below this column. It contains abundant teacher news links from 2011-2014, with a pretty heavy blow by blow account of the 2012-13 MOU negotiations, job actions, and strikes. It can be a good research tool to see what happened. My Twitter account is @ #davidchiarelli. You can subscribe to receive blogsite news updates, and links to other related stories of teacher interest. 

This is a teacher free speech blogsite. See my banner at the top of the page. It is not an official union newsite. Rather it's a grassroots one. You can comment below the blog to share news info, express your views and engage in a respectful debate. You can also submit guest blogs. Details are @ Submissions


Premier Kathleen Wynne: Will Bill 122 overcome the confusion + teacher union unrest caused by Bill 115 + the 2012-13 OLP MOU's?

General

[For latest news updates visit my Teacher News + Views blog @ Here! ]

Here's the final version of Bill 122 as passed into law on April 9th 2014 @ Download

Better brush up on Bill 122: our new Collective Bargaining Act 2014 to see how the negotiations are being set up and run @ Bill 122 Study Guide

Links for the Ontario Ministry of Education Education's Labour documents from 2012-2013 are located @ Here

Here's the Ontario Education Ministry's "Education Fact Sheet" for your perusal @ MOE

Here is Premier Wynnes Open Letter to the Provinces Teachers from March 2013, after she had won the OLP's leadership race and inherited a labour mess @ Her Letter

There is of course a political angle to the negotiations. Here is a resource guide to h
ow much each teacher union contribute to the OLP, NDP, + PC's in the 2014 Ontario spring election @ Elections Ontario


Which way will it go?!?

Our provincial teacher union presidents respond to the provincial election results. Of course we all felt great relief that Tim Hudak's neo cons crashed + burned. However the Liberal majority creates some intrepidation. One need only recall the last round of contract negotiations in 2012-13 when we saw our collective agreements stripped. Check out the president's reactions HERE!

TYLC [Toronto York Labour Councils] statement on union labour contract considerations after the spring 2014 spring election are @ TYLC

Upon taking office, new OLP Treasury Minister Deb Matthews wasted no time in stating that the government has no new money budgeted for a public service wage increase. Not even to match the inflation rate. In her words there are no "lollipops + rainbows" @ Minister Says No!

More specifically Deb Matthews has said that teachers can expect "net zeros" in compensation increases @ Zilch!

However, Education Minister Liz Sandals has claimed teachers could get a pay increase if we can find savings elsewhere within the allocated budget. She suggest pooling benefit plans.

Premier Wynne refuses to make any promise she'll restore lost teacher benefits from the last round of negotiations @ MOU's Revisited!


Ontario teachers still remember the 2012-13 winter of our discontent!

Premier Wynne has warned of some "difficult choices ahead" after the 2013 "Austerity Budget" was passed this July @ 2013 Ontario Budget

Your contract expires August 31. More @ MOE

Are there dark clouds of cuts and strikes on the horizon for this fall? More @ What next?

Shape of things to come? Declining enrolment is resulting in lay offs at this Ontario school @ Lakefield

US teachers are spending lots of money themselves for school supplies as they prepare for fall classes to resume. In Ontario too? My guess would be yes. Read @ $chool $upplie$

Many of us on my site were critical of how the last round of provincial bargaining negotiations were carried out. But that doesn't mean we should be "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" so to speak! A Broadbent Institute book review of why "Unions Matter" is @ Broadbent

ETFO



ETFO President Sam Hammond

ETFO has provided an excellent summary of why contract and collective bargaining are essential for you as a teacher professional @ ETFO

ETFO President Sam Hammond says he wants to avoid teacher labour turmoil in this year's contract talks @ Next Contract?

This summer, ETFO AGM [Annual general Meeting] delegates were told that their teacher union assisted the Liberals in defeating the Hudak PC's in many ridings across Ontario during the spring election. Many teachers are concerned about how much our teacher unions [OSSTF, OECTS, AEFO, CUPE etc] contributed to the OLP, and in which ridings. However, everybody seems pretty tight lipped at the executive level. The OLP? Remember Bill 115? Article @ CPCML


Premier Wynne was on the hot seat at this years ETFO AGM!

ETFO York's David Clegg puts the screws to Premier Wynne over Bill 122 @ David Clegg

ETFO AGM delegates turned up the heat on Premier Wynne as she told them that no new money is available for the next contracts.  She also said that she has no intention of bargaining in the media. Is that why she was so oblique during the Q+A??? More @ Globe + Mail

More on the Premier's rough ride over her party track record during the 2012-13 OLP MOU Bill 115 debacle is @ Toronto Star and CNews

The Premier also refused to make any promises about restoring lost teacher benefits @ MOU's Revisited!

ETFO President Sam Hammond claims he wants to "keep moving forward". He says,"Rebuilding trust takes a long time". More @ Toronto Sun

This ETFO communique provides the fall CB meeting dates for local Presidents, Chief Negotiators and the Communications campaign @ Sam Hammond



ETFO AGM delegates are still not happy campers over Bill 115 + the MOU!

ETFO President Hammond's closing AGM remarks are summarized here. Job actions won't be ruled out. The news story + a video link is @ Hammond

More news coverage of ETFO's upcoming contract talks is Toronto Star

ETFO filed it's Notice to Bargain on June 30th @ ETFO

Information on the June 2013 ETFO MOU can be foundHere

OECTA



OECTA President James Ryan

Toronto Sun interviews OECTA President James Ryan on the affiliate's expectations in the upcoming contract talks. Ignore the writer's rant against the concerns expressed by ETFO members to Premier Wynne at their Summer AGM. Strikes me as one of the Sun's typical neo con attempts at a con divide + conquer strategy. Don't put it past them. Read @ Sun

OECTA President James Ryan has announced that the province + the Catholic school board trustees have been provided with the unions notice to bargain. However negotiations aren't expected until after the summer holidays @ Presidents Blog!

OECTA Sudbury Elementary President Kent MacNeill is firm that his unit won't engage in any concession bargaining. As a result of the 2012 OECTA MOU, his member's lost their retirement benefits without being allowed a ratification vote. Kent participated in the principled MOU OLRB challenge with other OECTA dissidents including the Metro 7 and Richard Brock's Halton Elementary unit. Unfortunately, in an unprecedented move the OECTA provincial office evoked Bill 122 to extinguish any opposition among its own members and got the case dismissed [ Read Here!]. We salute Kent for still hanging in there! There aren't many survivors left! Anyway, this story probably deserves a whole blog but you can read the latest news report @ OECTA MOU

My 2012 OECTA MOU Study Guide is @ Here! The new OECTA member ratification process is There!


OSSTF President Paul Elliot

OSSTF

OSSTF President Paul Elliot says he expects improvements in the new contracts. OSSTF will meet with the Moe through September with strike votes to be completed by Thanksgiving @ Globe + Mail

OSSTF announces it's first contract talks began this summer! Will there be labour peace or are we headed for a repeat of 2012-13? More @ Here we go!

OSSTF Collective Bargaining info is mostly only available to members @ OSSTF

More OSSTF statements are available @ Toronto Star

Remember Bill 115?! OSSTF info on the state of the Bill 115 Constitutional Challenge is @ OSSTF

Compare the OSSTF + OECTA MOU's @ MOU's

Guest blogger Tim Heffernan considers whether OSSTF was betrayed for political reasons in the 2012-13 negotiations @ Tim

Guest blogger Rob Scott critiques OSSTF's strategy before + after the spring election @ Rob



Contracts: Another long hard winter ahead?

COMMENTS?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Bob Marley 1: "The Wailing Wailers!"

Bob Marley Discography Part 2 is Here! Part 3 is There! Part 4 is Here!

Or The Wailers Discography Part 1:



Bunny, Bob + Peter on the first Wailers lp!

Wailing Wailers [1965]: Before “Bob Marley + the Wailers” there were the infamous “Wailers”. A Trench Town Kingston Jamaica vocal power house band built around the 3 man harmonies of future solo reggae superstars Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston Wailer, they were big home town stars in Jamaica well before they became famous around the world. This was their first album!

The vinyl 33 1/3 RPM “Wailing Wailers” [Vinyl Transferalbum was recorded throughout 1964 + 65, and first released in late 1965. It was on producer Coxsone “Scorcher” Dodd’s "Studio One" label. Coxsonne paid the band a one time 20 lb per track fee and as a retainer put Marley, Tosh and Bunny on a 2 to 3 lb a week expense account.



In retrospect "Wailing Wailers" is a rather slight album, with an early reggae ska [Hear] + soul sound. It will probably be of limited interest to the causal fan of "Bob Marley and the Wailers" later best selling albums. It was decided that the charismatic Bob Marley would perform most of the lead vocals. Bunny + Tosh would back him up with the bands trade mark harmony sound. Singers Beverly Kelso + Cherry Smith] also assist on background vocals. A Junior Braithwaite is featured on lead vocals for 2 hit tracks ["It Hurts to Be Alone" [Hear] and "I’m Still Waiting"]. Junior would leave the Wailers the following year to pursue a medical career in the US. 

Basically, the album is a collection of early sixties Wailer 45 RPM [rounds per minute] hit singles and copy tunes, not a cohesive record album LP [long playing] per see. Like many 60's groups, especially in Jamaica, the early Wailers were first and foremost a singles band. They'd not recorded a 33 RPM LP [long playing] album before, and wouldn’t record another again until 1970. They knew that a short, tight, hard hitting 2 to 3 minute 45 could strike to the quick on the local dance floor and radio airwaves. They were also more affordable for their young fans.

Nonetheless the "Wailing Wailers" album is interesting in how it reflects the Wailers original musical influences and style. The songs were written by listening and copying the diverse sounds Marley, Tosh + Bunny heard on southern US radio broadcasts for their local Jamaican audience. We hear the influence of soul ["One Love" [Hear]+ "I’m Still Waiting"], gospel ["Put It On"] [Hear], pop [a cover of Tom Jone’s "What’s New Pussycat?:] R+B ["When the Well Runs Dry"] and Doo Wop [a cover of the Moonglow’s "Ten Commandments of Love"].



“Wailing Wailers” also included a few high charged ska [See][1] dance hits ["Simmer Down", "Rude Boy" + "Lonesome Feeling"]. 2 of these dance numbers were also politically charged street fighting anthems for the poor "sufferahs" in the Kingston ghettos. ["Simmer Down" + "Rude Boy"] [2], Tensions were quickly heating up and exploding in Kingston's shanty towns, followed by a hard hitting police crackdown. Marley encouraged everyone to play it cool ["Simmer Down"] [Hear], but was also quick to extol the virtues of the young rebel bad boys ["Rude Boy"][Hear]. 



Like Bob Dylan in the US during the early 60’s [ie. "The Times They Are A Changing", "Subterranean Homesick Blues"] and the Sex Pistols in the UK during the mid to late 1970s ["Anarchy in the UK" "No Future"], the Wailers gave voice to their own generation in Kingston Jamaica.  Hence becoming a "Rude Boy" might be best understood as being somebody when society is telling you that you aren't. On a much more broader international scale, Bob Marley + The Wailers would of course continue to sing their songs of rebellion and freedom around the world to much acclaim throughout the 1970’s and for the years to comeIndeed, "Wailing Wailers" might be considered a very early trial run for their later much better known solo and group albums that we know so well. 

"Wailin' Wailers" also included two early songs that would later be re-recorded and much more elaborately produced by Bob Marley and the Wailers, on the albums [“One Love” on "Exodus" + "Burnings" “Put It On”]. Many of the the Wailers album tracks were first recorded during the mid to late sixties and reworked over time into the more fleshed out versions we are familiar with today. We will examine these in more detail in later sections of my discography.



Dem rude boys a gonna git a beatin'!

Within two years due to the attention their run of hit singles would create, Tosh and Bunny were temporarily silenced by the authorities, ending up in jail on trumped up possession of marijuana charges. [Not very hard to do ...] Bob Marley would temporarily leave Jamaica. He joined his mother who'd moved to the US, where he worked a number of odd jobs including a stint on an auto assembly line.

The cautious buyer should beware that the numerous re-releases of the "Wailing Wailers" album were usually overdubbed with additional vocal and instrumental parts in an attempt to appeal to the latest musical tastes and trends. More is not better if you are interested in the original sound. Also, in retrospect the these overdubs often sound ridiculously fake and outdated. 



Also  beware, the "Wailing Wailers" album title and artwork are often falsely used on cheap, b-grade collections of the Wailer's early hits, misses and B sides, which however interesting are not from the original lp. There is however a hard to find 1990 Epic cd edition of "Wailing Wailers" that's been restored to the album's original mix.

Without doubt the early Wailers would continue to record a lot of worthwhile singles and other recordings before their next album in 1969. We will also examine these tracks in the next section of my album discography. However, for good sounding versions of their early to mid sixties recordings one might more look for any of the following recommended CD’s:



Nice cd but inaccurate band title and photo for the period covered!

One Love at Studio One 1964-66 [2006] This UM [Universal Music] CD release includes most of the tracks from "Wailing Wailers" [most notably "Simmer Down"/ "Rude Boy"/ "One Love"/ + "Ten Commandments of Love"]. It also adds more early versions of the later better known Bob Marley and the Wailer classic tracks. [a Rock Steady version of “Bend Down Low” [Hear] later rerecorded for 1973’s "Natty Dread" album, + "Cry to Me" [Hear] from 1974’s "Rastaman Vibration" lp]. There’s a classic Peter Tosh + Bunny Wailer spiritual ["This Train"] [Hear]. Of special interest are the Wailers very lose interpretations of well known hits by such important early influences, as Bob Dylan ["Like A Rolling Stone"], the Beatles ["And I Love Her"] [Hearand Dion + The Belmonts ["Teenager in Love"]. A few extra Wailer extra ska hits ["Playboy" [Hear]/ "Ska Jerk"/ "Hooligan Ska"] help round out the 2 cd set into a pretty cool collection! Regretfully, this CD might be fairly hard to find even on Amazon at a reasonable price.



This box set is pretty much essential for the casual fan + hard core afficionado alike!

Songs of Freedom [1992] An easier but more limited solution is to track down this well known and widely available 4 disc Bob Marley + The Wailers 1992 box set retrospective. Disc 1 [Hear Tracks 1-5] includes Bob + Rita Marley's first single ["Bend Down Low"] and two very rare 1962 singles ["Judge Not"/ "One Cup of Coffee"].  Also 4 "Wailing Wailer" tracks ["Simmer Down"/ "I’m Still Waiting"/ "One Love"/ "Put It On", but alas not "Rude Boy"!]. Disc 1 also includes a worthwhile sampling of their other late sixties non album hits ["Bus Dem Stop", "Hypocrite", "Stir it Up", "Thank You Lord" etc. ] "Songs of Freedom" probably will provide enough of these early Wailer tracks for the casual fan if not the hard core aficionado, though it's still a very worthwhile addition to any collection.



Nice one! Buy it!

Wail n' Soul 'm Singles Selecta [2005] is a highly recommended UM CD which can still be found for pretty cheap on Amazon and hopefully at better music stores too! It is named after the indie Kingston record label that Bob Marley set up to create and sell Wailer records on his own after the group left the Coxsone Studio One Label.  He was worried that Dodds wasn't interested in the band's artistic development beyond cranking out hit Ska singles for the local market. The CD doesn't include the Studio One hits. Instead we hear the bands switch to a post Ska Rock Steady [Hear] [3] sound. It includes the A + B [flip] sides of quite a few later local Wailer sixties hits [including "Hypocrite"[Hear] "Thank You Lord"[Hear] "Pound Get A Blow" [Hear]+ the original "Stir It Up" [Hear], later redone for the "Catch a Fire" album]. Attention is also paid to the early Peter Tosh 45's ["Funeral"[Hear], "Bus Dem Shut"[Hear], + "Them Have Fi Get A Beating"[Hear], an early version of "Stepping Razor" [Hear] later rerecorded on Tosh's "Bus Doctor" album + a Marley Tosh duet on "Fire Fire"[Hear]. We hear Rita Marley with the Wailers too! ["Play Play"] [Hear] Really, I don't see how you can go wrong getting this cd!



Note the "Trade Mark"  + the evolving band name! "Stir It Up" would later be re-recorded for the Wailers classic 1970's "Catch a Fire" Album!

With "Selecta" we are getting somewhat ahead of ourselves in considering recordings that might be best included with the next section of my discography covering the  Wailers 1967-73 albums. To avoid more overlap, we will end Part 1 of my Wailers discography here for organizational purposes, but stay tuned!

Vinyl Considerations:



Interesting collection, but later photo of the band! Disco overdubs suck too!

Birth of a Legend: [1976] This 2 record set of early Wailer tracks was slyly released as a “Bob Marley + Wailers” , rather than a "Wailers" album by the Calla Record label to cash in on Bob’s US stardom at the time of the 1976 "Rastaman Vibration" album release. A contemporary picture of Bob Marley graces the cover rather than an accurate one from the early days. However, for many mainstream North American fans the album provided a first interesting look at the early Wailers. It includes a variety of the songs listed above, along with detailed credits and linear notes. All might be forgiven had drum machines and synthesizers not been overdubbed on the album to try make it more appealing during the 70’s disco scene. Tut tut! In all fairness, further vinyl editions removed this sacrilege and it has since been released on cd without the overdubs too. However, even it's now long out of print and with the wealth of other titles around, I’d recommend you give it a pass, except perhaps for its kitsch value. I was fortunate enough to find a mint unopened original 1976 vinyl copy for only $20 at a local record store. If you see one you might want to consider picking it up too….or maybe not?

Original Wailers Vinyl: 



The old vinyl records got a lot of play!

Early Wailer records were often released on a number of different music labels. The studio values and vinyl pressings are very low quality and sound muffled by today's standards. Also, they were often played to death on old record players, and/ or at clubs, wearing away the musical grooves. The original pressings are now almost 50 years old. Time has not been kind. The hisses, scratches and pops might well make them sound like a roaring camp fire. However, as collectibles they can be pretty kool to look at, especially for the artwork on the labels. Good luck finding them though since they were often very limited editions made exclusively for the local Jamaican market. Later re-issues can however often be found on Ebay for relatively cheap.



Records for sale!

On the other hand, the remastered cd versions, while much more plentiful and clearer sounding, often have a very sterile and unnatural digital sheen. The music definitely loses much of it's original, authentic flavour. The original recordings were not made for today's advanced CD players, drives or the MP3 format. A clean mint vinyl copy of the original "Wailing Wailers" album would no doubt be extremely rare and expensive but a great score!

One waits with bated breath to hear what any new vinyl reissues will sound like should the early Wailers catalogue get re-released! I checked at the Marley Foundation store during my recent visit to Bob's birthplace in Nine Miles Jamaica recently. So far only the hit 70's albums are available on their vinyl Island/ Tuff Gong label. Original copies of these are still pretty cheap and easy to find at most used record stores anyway, but let's see what comes next!



OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

There are any number of cheap cd knock off collections with the early Wailers recordings readily available in the junk and sale bins at many music stores. Maybe even at Canadian Tire or your local corner store. These usually contain a confusing dogs breakfast of early Wailer tracks inaccurately accredited to "Bob Marley and the Wailers". They are invariably cheaply packaged with confusing cover art photos that doesn’t actually show the band back then. They also often include later badly overdubbed versions and are probably made from copies of copies of analogue copies. Think of the principle of a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy to imagine the bad sound quality and overall effect! Money from the sales of these don't go to the Marley estate but are pocketed by some rip off artist on the fly! Avoid at all costs!

CONCERN:

Most of the early Wailer tracks we've looked at above are not readily available anymore except on the "Songs of Freedom" box set from 1992. Hopefully justice will be done by re-releasing a quality version of "Wailing Wailers" on vinyl again, along with detailed, accurate linear recording notes.


FOOTNOTES

[1]: "Jamaica Ska" for white people with Fishbone + Annette is a must see @ [Ska]

[2]" Don't miss a brief history of ska with info, music + visuals @ [History of Ska]

[3] "Ska"-"Reggae" - "Rock Steady" sampler @ [See + Hear]

More Reading:

Smile Jamaica: my visit to Bob Marley's birth + burial place in the mountain town of 9 Miles @ Hi! Hi! Hi!

On The Beach: Everyone knows the rastaman's got the best ganga @ Yah/ Jah!

NEXT: The Wailers 1967-73! @ Here!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Smile Jamaica: Bob Marley!



It was a hard trip to resist as a Reggae fan. It also appealed to the adventurer in me: A ride on an old battered red, green and yellow Jamaican “Zion bus” with music blasting. Riding high, high, high up Mount Diablo [aka Mystic Mountain]. Off to visit Reggae legend Bob Marley’s birthplace in the small St. Anne’s parish town of “Nine Miles”. Afterwards, it was promised, we would fly all the way home. Hmmm. Let’s go…

Early morning found us loosely ensconced in the Zion bus. Seemed very Jamaican! Our DJ got the party started by playing his favourite Marley tunes and telling us the story behind each song. The bass was waaay too loud as it pumped full blast out of the bus speakers. Our guide laughed loudly at his own jokes, mostly about getting stoned. Janet, my cousin and I watched wondering; was it an act, for real, or a little bit of both? Quite crazy but fun!


Look down ... waaaaaaaay down!

Our bus winded its way up the mountains along a very narrow hillside road. I use the term “narrow” lightly. I stared out my window way down to the steep valleys and tiny villages below. The hillside was covered with thick green jungle; towering palm trees, sprawling ferns, and God knows what else. Simple wood, stone and sheet metal shacks peeked out from here, there and everywhere they could be possibly built. Yes! We were getting pretty high!

I was fascinated more than horrified, as our driver continued to pump the gas and air brakes while leaning on his horn, warning everyone on the road to get out of the way. He looked like he knew what he was doing. Still,  I gazed outside my window again, at the sheer drop to certain death. What a way to go! Yup, one wrong turn, bad bump or someone who doesn’t pull and we go flying off into oblivion. I sat awestruck glued to my seat. What else could you do as we climbed higher and higher up the mountain side for a good hour or so on the Zion bus?


The view of Nine Miles from Bob's place.

As we passed through the villages children raced outside the bus windows pointing their index finger in the air. It wasn’t for “One Love”, as the Bob Marley song goes. They wanted a dollar. We later bought a Bob Marley fund raising Cd instead, the money to be used at the local school. It seemed like a good idea to me.

Bob Marley is long gone. He died from cancer in 1981 at age 36. The family owned Marley Foundation now controls his estate. Bob often quietly helped those in financial need without asking for anything in return. The school CD was in the same humanitarian spirit. A sad footnote: only the handful of teachers on our bus made any contribution, for a cd or handout, let alone a tip throughout our trip. Very unkind considering the extreme gulf between the two worlds, ours and theirs as was quite obvious throughout the trip.


Our bus pulled up outside the gate at Bob’s house. The tiny mountainside town of Nine Miles is really just a few shacks surrounded by jungle. A crowd swarmed the Zion bus holding up handfuls of Ganga outside our windows, for sale by the bag or by the spliff. Our guide explained that smoking weed is common inside the Marley grounds, but you can’t buy any there.

He held the gate open, keeping the crowd at bay while we walked back outside into an alley way bazaar. A wide variety of herbs and herbal concoctions were spread out on display. Thick buds of golden green sensimilla cost $40 US for a quarter ounce, rolling papers included. Big grass cookies and huge thick hash brownies were $20 each if you preferred not to smoke. There were also small black turds of hashish for sale, but I didn’t catch the price. Apparently there were cups of grass tea too but I didn’t see it myself.


Jamaica is famous for it's herbal remedies to cure whatever ails you.

It’s pretty common for a lot of baby boomers to still smoke marijuana. I am no stranger to it. I also grew up in the sixties and seventies when marijuana seemed to be everywhere even though it was illegal; a federal offence. I didn’t liked how that attracted a criminal element. Still, I also recall that whenever there was a fight or any bad vibes, be it at a party or a concert, it invariably involved the drinkers, and not the pot heads. As the saying went, “Make love not war!” After a few tokes the tunes sounded great. The conversation quite hilarious. We’d get the munchies because everything tasted so great. Marijuana certainly had its moments!

I haven’t in bided in either vice for a very long time. As a teacher I made a life choice not to smoke or drink.  I never missed booze or cigarettes, still don’t. Bleech! However, I felt nostalgic at the novelty of seeing some weed again.


To paraphrase an old Bob Dylan sixties song, "the times certainly are a changin’". Marijuana is now gradually being legalized in  the US. Also, federal party leader Justin Trudeau is promising to legalize it if he is elected as our Canadian Prime Minister next year. My guess would be it’s only a fairly short matter of time now.

What’s the story in Jamaica?  Our tour guide explained its being decriminalized. It’s hoped it will provide a good cash crop to help create jobs and stimulate the economy. What else have they got? Well, there’s bauxite and tourism. All is not well. It hasn’t been for a very long time. Bob Marley and the Wailers’ protest anthems and spiritual pleas make that perfectly clear. We’ll examine their music more closely in my next Jamaica blog. For now, suffice to say that back inside the Marley gate I munched on a brownie and shared a thick doobie with my cousin, which neither of us could finish. As far as safe, friendly service with a smile goes, the Jamaican sensimilla scene at Nine Miles definitely earns two big thumbs up! I wish them well!


The mausoleum + house.

Looking about the Bob Marley homestead one only sees a few small buildings. Basically, there are just two rather simple mausoleums and a small house. At first brush the grounds might seem like an unspectacular shrine for such a great man. However, everything has been painted over in bright Jamaican colours. Also decorated with flags, handmade Rastafari murals and signs. Gold records, concert posters, and photographs hang on the walls of a one room museum of sorts. Stalls offer crafts, and Bob Marley memorabilia including t-shirts, coffee cups, pipes, papers and cds for sale. Nice but very pricey. There’s also a small open air drink and snack bar.

Bob Marley left behind at least 11 children, from wife Rita Marley and his various girlfriends. Since a deal was struck with Island Records in 1992, they are all a part of the Bob Marley Foundational which owns, controls and profits from his estate. Rita has enjoyed a successful musical career. A few of his children have followed in their father musical footsteps. Ziggy and Damien Marley come immediately to mind. I’m glad the proceeds from our trip are being kept within the family, rather than being exploited by Babylon. You can spend your money here confident it isn’t going to a big impersonal corporation!


By high noon, Nine Miles was as hot as a blast furnace. There was hardly a breeze. The yard was tightly packed. We had to wait a bit just looking around, as each group of visitors took turns moving among the crowded buildings and rooms. I was pretty kazooed and felt like I was just floating along through Bob’s home with the crowd, feeling no pain. It was easy to become totally immersed in the experience. I haven’t any complaints, far from it, everything seemed fitting and in tune. In the courtyard, we were also entertained by a ragtag band of dread locked reggae musicians playing Bob Marley songs, spreading good vibrations and getting us into the spirit of things.

We were escorted around the grounds by our dread locked guide who explained the site in detail. We saw the stone mausoleum were Bob’s mother is buried. Then we visited Bob’s bedroom in the house. It pretty much looked like I’d expect; a Tough Gong poster and a small bed. Not much else. Finally we ended up in the mausoleum that is Bob’s burial place.
According to his mother’s wishes Bob Marley is buried in the mausoleum with his half brother. Apparently Bob’s guitar was also buried with him though nobody seems quite sure which one. I lit a candle and walked around the tomb past the personal mementos that others had left behind on their visit; plants, joints, rolling papers, lighters, photos, flags and the like. Then after coming full circle, as is the tradition, I respectfully placed my candle on the front pedestal where I left it to burn.  I felt very calm and peaceful. Also quite honoured to be in the presence of such greatness here among the most simplest and humble of places.


Bob's bed!

No, there really isn’t much to see. But Nine Miles is a very spiritual experience. Mr. Bob Marley has returned from the heights of greatness in our often big, bad world. He has come back to his humble beginnings having delivered a timeless message of love, peace and hope in the struggle for political and social justice. It only seems right to me that his final resting place is here, in his very simple village birthplace, now reunited with his people, family and friends.

 As promised we truly did fly back down the mountains on our breathtaking trip home aboard the Zion bus. I was still flying high a good 12 hours later, caught up in the magic of our visit. I can’t say that smoking weed again was any big deal in and of itself. It was fun but I suppose I could take it or leave it. Maybe it will be more enjoyable after it is legalized in Canada? Hmmm. Half the time I’d forget what I was going to say, leaving me quiet, listening and watching more. Maybe that’s not an altogether bad thing? Other times, I’d be jabbering away a mile a minute! Still it was quite part and parcel of the greater overall trip to pay homage to Bob. As such I thoroughly enjoyed myself!


Lots to think about!

I’m retired and feeling pretty de-stressed these days. I’m quite high on life as it is. I find myself listening to Bob Marley and the Wailers again almost nonstop since my trip. It will forever continue to be a part of the soundtrack to my life. Bob Marley, his music and message always make me feel high in the natural sense. You don’t need to smoke the herb to appreciate that, though one might also argue it doesn’t hurt much either!



More Reading:

In my next Jamaica blogs we will examine Bob’s musical legacy through his albums, singles and cds:

Bob Marley + The Wailer Album + Singles Reviews! Part 1 @ Here Part 2 Here! Part 3 @ Here! Part 4 @ There!

On The Beach: Everyone knows the rastaman's got the best ganga @ Yah/ Jah!

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Please scratch my back.

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Have you seen them!

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Look! I can crawl thru walls!

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No I'm not!

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