Alta States 

Taking risks

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" We are now in a period of crisis. Every [one] who is acutely alive is acutely wrestling with his own soul. People who can bring forth new passion, new ideas will endure. Those others that fix themselves in the old idea, will perish with the new life strangled unborn within them. We must speak out to one another."

- Writer DH Lawrence. 1913 (thanks to a Jan Simpson post)

I was sitting in Maxx Fish the other night listening to bohopunk poet C.R. Avery. The room was half full and he was half lit. Growly tone. Growly words. Just what I needed.

Avery was deploring the dearth of leadership in this country and I was nodding my head to the beat of his voice. That's when it hit me. Whether writer or poet, teacher, singer or public speaker, anyone who is bold enough to stand up these days and point out that the emperor has no clothes is sure to attract some arrows.

Ouch. And Avery's attracted his share. He even has the scars to prove it. Still, fear of controversy doesn't play big in his repertoire. A hard-living music vet (who proudly wears his East Van anarchist roots on his sleeve), the sharp-tongued beatboxer is brash enough to address what many others in this country are too meek to say.

Meaning? Avery had the orbs to claim in one of his songs last Friday that Pierre Elliott Trudeau was Canada's last great political leader.

I know. I know. The Trudeau-haters out there are already shaking their heads in derision. "Bull puckies," they're saying. "He almost destroyed our country." But Avery disagrees.

And who can blame him? Given little Stevie Hapless's run to date (thanks Max for the moniker - it fits so nicely), I'm sure Avery's not the only member of Gen X bemoaning the past.

What I loved most about his Trudeau song, however, was the way he justified his claim. "Any prime minister who can reach the top of Tricky Dick Nixon's sh**t list," he told the crowd, "is, by definition, a great Canadian leader..."

Indeed. And the Whistlerites in attendance ate it up. Cheers and hollers filled the room.

Butt that's not always the case. In a post-concert conversation, Avery did admit to a wild range of responses. "In Alberta," he told me, "the boos often drown out the song. They take it real personal there. In Montreal, you get a bit of both... It's pretty interesting that way. Trudeau still gets people passionate. And I love that."

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