Giffords Shooting - Joe Average - Dominos

Giffords Shooting - The list of place names is long----Dallas, the Twin Towers, Memphis, the Ambassador Hotel and Oklahoma City. Add to it, now, Tucson, Arizona. Sudden, unprovoked and violent public death is nothing new in the United States. But the attack on a Congresswoman and the murder of six people in Tucson has had a profound impact on the political culture of the country. In the race to make sense of the senseless, what has become polarized in rhetoric, becomes frozen in hapless debate.The left accuses the right of poisoning discourse, the right accuses the left of reckless opportunism. In our First Hour this morning, America in the aftermath of Tucson.

Read more about hour one here

Joe Average - In our Middle Hour, meet the incredible shrinking man of Vancouver. He is a painter, known far and wide as Joe Average and he suffers from AIDS. His work is on postage stamps and hangs in private collections around the world. Pamela Post brings us the artist Joe Average who is anything but.

Read more about hour two here

Dominos - In our Third Hour, the game that demands speed, strategy, alertness and indeed partnership---dominoes. For a certain generation of Jamaican men, there is nothing like a quiet afternoon of dominoes. A game report from Frank Faulk

Read more about hour three here

Elsewhere in the program: What to do when all those books of your threaten to overflow your house or apartment, a profile of the most important ecopnomist of the last 50 years, some thoughts on pensions for prisoners, your mail and the best Sunday morning music on your radio dial.

Hour 1

Giffords Shooting

Once again, a sad and violent incident is dominating the headlines south of the border. And once again, America seems to be re-examining its very soul in the wake of tragedy.

Last Saturday, at a public event in Tucson, Arizona, US Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot and critically injured by a 22-year old man with a Glock 19 semi-automatic handgun. Six people were killed and fourteen were wounded, including Congresswoman Giffords, who was the target of the attack.

Assassination - and assassination attempts - have been part of the American political landscape since at least 1835, when a house painter aimed two pistols at President Andrew Jackson from close range. Since then, four Presidents have been assassinated in office and many others have come close to it....from Harry Truman to Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan, who was shot thirty years ago as he returned to his downtown Washington.

But how do Americans incorporate Arizona into their own poltical narrative?

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the media seemed to inflame the intense partisan atmosphere that surrounds political discourse these days. Pundits on the left blamed the rhetoric of right-wing politicians. And one of the symbols of right-wing rhetoriticians, Sarah Palin invoked an age-old anti-Semitic image, calling those accusations a "blood libel."

The picture that's emerging of the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, doesn't seem to fit with the story that was first being told by the media. His friends portray him as a seriously mentally ill young man with paranoid delusions and bizarre conspiracy theories - few of which reflect anything advocated by anyone with a media profile.

Stephen Hess is a senior fellow emeritus in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.. He's also a former staffer of the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations. And he served as an advisor to both Presidents Ford and Carter. He joined us from a studio in Washington.

Stranger Than Fiction #2

Most university students need to get a job to support themselves while they do their studies. Most wait tables or work as coffee-shop baristas. But others are more inventive - or foolish - when it comes to figuring out how to make ends meet.

This week, in part two of our series, Stranger Than Fiction, novelist Nino Ricci reveals a surprisingly gritty part of his past-life in undergraduate academia.

Nino Ricci has won the Governor General's Award for Fiction twice: in 1990 for Lives of the Saints and in 2008 for The Origin of Species, which also appeared on the long list for the Giller Prize. In 1997, his novel Where She Has Gone was short-listed for the Giller Prize.

Here is his true story, "My Life as an Entrepreneur."

Hour 2

Joe Average

He's been called the Andy Warhol of Vancouver.

His name is Joe Average - and his joyful art, public generosity and flamboyant presence- have distinguished him as anything but average.

Throughout the 80's and 90's Joe Average took an artist's brush to his often grey and rain-soaked city - and painted it technicolour. His art was festooned on street banners and bridges... public squares, markets and meeting places.

All this exuberance from a man who is one of the longest surviving Canadians with HIV/AIDS. Twenty-seven years ago - when he was diagnosed with the then-unknown, terrifying and often fatal virus - the young Joe Average made a vow to make his living solely from his art. And he succeeded. His images have been used for International AIDS conferences; on postage stamps and hang in public private collections around the world.

But today Joe Average is close to running out of income. And he has become a virtual recluse.

He has 'lipoatrophy' - a particularly ghoulish and debilitating side-effect of anti-retro viral drugs....a condition that eats away body fat. At five-feet-eight-inches tall - Joe now weighs just over 100 pounds.

Ten years ago, at a particularly tough moment in his struggle with AIDS, Joe put down his paintbrush. He hasn't picked it up since.

But - ever the creator - Joe Average has recently begun a different kind of art - in shades of grey and dark shadows - that reflects his new reality. Here is 'The Incredible Shrinking Man'.

Too Many Books

Pleasure, for Alberto Manguel, is spending time in the "chaotic, joyful muddle" of his books".

Not surprising really for a man of letters. The Canadian-Argentinian-born writer and translator is the author of A History of Reading andThe Library at Night.

But - in an era where electronic books are increasingly popular - is it possible to have too many books? And if so, what to do about it? Are some books worth keeping while others should be pitched? As one British columnist asked recently in the wake of culling 2000 books from his own collection, "what's the point of keeping most books once they've been read?"


We found ourselves debating the issue here at the Sunday Edition, and so we've invited three book lovers to discuss the question this morning; Louise Doughty, author of six novels and one book of non-fiction, Ben McNally, who has been a bookseller in Toronto for almost forty years and Robert Enright, one of Canada's best-known cultural journalists.

Hour 3

Friederich Hayek

What a difference a year can make.

Nearly twelve months ago, we made a bold declaration on the program. We named John Maynard Keynes the man of the year for 2009. We felt that the long dead British economist deserved this accolade because he had resurfaced at the forefront of economic thinking in the aftermath of the world's financial collapse.

Well, here we are at the beginning of 2011. Keynes' thinking is still winding its way through our economy in the form of stimulus programs. However, it is another dead economist's books that are flying off the shelves. In fact, it's a testament to the prestige of our man of the year pronouncement that just six months after we declared it, the writings of Keynes' nemesis, Frederic Hayek, topped the best sellers list on Amazon.

These two men set the frame for much of the last century's thinking on economics. Since the thirties, governments and policy makers throughout the word have oscillated between their two opposing approaches.

Bruce Caldwell is a professor of Economics at Duke University where he is the Director of the Center for the History of Political Economy. He is the general editor of the Collected Works of F. A. Hayek and the author of Hayek's Challenge: An Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek.

Mail Pack

In our New Years' program, Michael avowed his intent to boycott a long list of offending products, conversational chestnuts, musical genres. A whole list of things. But the thing that provoked an uprising from you, was his stated intent to boycott restaurants that are too damn loud.


Miz Amy Nelson is eighty-something and stands just over five feet tall. She doesn't put up with a whole lot of nonsense.

But every so often - actually just about every Tuesday and Thursday - her patience is sorely tried.

That's when Miz Amy Nelson does her best to run the seniors program at the Jamaican Association of Toronto. But it's no small feat making herself heard above the slamming, hooting, hollering, and laughter from one corner of the hall, where men crowd around well worn card tables and indulge their passion for dominos.

For a certain generation of Jamaican men, there's nothing quite like an afternoon with the clacking white tiles. Dominos involves strategy, altertness, speed, partnership, and sometimes real obsession.

Frank Falk takes us there

Comments are closed.