Posts Tagged: "Barry Wells"

A photocopier launched my pamphleteering career 47 years ago 

Yodelling in the Canyon By Barry Wells - - Everything Else
The London Yodeller

Within a day or two, I was happily running off libelous copies of a small poster I’d created about a beatnik-type English teacher with whom I had no particular axe to grind, so my actions were somewhat inexplicable”


As a natural-born communicator, the printed word has always enthralled and delighted me. It can also land you in hot water, as I learned 47 years ago when I was attending South Collegiate in London circa 1969, when I was in grade 10 or 11.

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Hollywood Heart-Throb Tony Curtis ate Chicken Pickins in London

Barry Wells - - Everything Else
The London Yodeller

WELLS Tony Curtis painting 628x471

Curtis was signed by Universal Pictures where he quickly developed a reputation for bedding his contemporary starlets and leading ladies

After Yodeller columnist Dan (Scoop) Mailer spilled the beans about a young Walt Disney staying at Ma Butler’s rooming house at the southwest corner of Queens Avenue and Clarence during the early 1920s in the Mar. 17th edition of The London Yodeller, I knew I’d have to dig deep for some column fodder to bring my A game to these pages.

So I went to my old standby, ace-in-the-hole, Sonny Drysdale, Hollywood’s crackerjack agent to the stars. Sonny was born in London on Becher Street back in the days when drinking beer on a Sunday was a sin, so he knows everything about this town, including the name of the drunken justice of the peace who rode a Harley through Gord Kent’s Silver Dollar on Dundas in 1947. He also remembers the time New York Yankees’ catcher Yogi Berra rolled into Labatt Park with local ball hero Frank Colman in September of 1948 and when singer Nat King Cole walked into the 7 Dwarfs Restaurant for dinner in 1960.

According to Sonny, matinee idol, Tony Curtis (1925-2010), once dined at The Three Little Pigs Pentry (owned by city council member Earl Nichols) at 30 Wharncliffe Road North back in September of 1965. The Three Little Pigs Pentry, you may remember, was the place to go on Friday and Saturday nights after the bars closed in the ’50s and early ’60s.

Sonny says “Tony had a basket of chicken pickins, crinklecut fries and a cuppa coffee at The Pigs Pentry shortly after he completed the Stoney Curtis voice-overs for The Flintstones cartoon series. I was with him. We were on our way to Toronto to meet with Normie Panama, the producer of Not With My Wife, You Don’t! Tony starred in that flick in ’66 with pain-in-the-ass George C. Scott. I got Tony $375K for the part — a good payday back then for a comedy. Some of the movie was shot at the Goose Bay Air Base in Labrador. If it wasn’t for the 15 cases of Canadian Club flown in, everyone would have frozen their asses off.”

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The Curse of London’s river-killing, gremlin-infested Springbank Dam

Barry Wells - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

Barry Wells creatureTen months ago, this fine upstanding organ’s editor, Herman Goodden, suggested I write a column about the broken Springbank Dam, located astride the main branch of the Thames River in Byron. Initially, I was reluctant because — not only did I think the dam’s eventual repair and reactivation were likely a done deal — there was no anticipated movement on the file for the next six months or so when a lawsuit involving the dam was scheduled to go to court in Jan. 2016. Further, I wasn’t really interested in the subject!

Boy, that sure changed in a hurry after I stumbled across an online petition to decommission the dam, a petition crafted by Robert Huber, president of the Thames River Anglers Association. The 2500-name petition, finally presented to the Civic Works Committee for its Mar. 8, 2016 public participation meeting at city hall, is notable for its detailed and informative preamble, explaining how devastating the recreational Springbank Dam is to the river’s ecosystem, including at-risk species.

Here’s an excerpt from the petition’s preamble:

“Springbank Dam was constructed at the current site along the Upper Thames River within the City of London in 1929 to create a reservoir for recreational use. It held back water from Spring until Fall and did not serve any flood control or hydroelectric purpose. While the dam was operational independent studies were completed showing that the water had elevated levels of phosphorus and e-coli nearly 55 times higher than provincially acceptable levels. Continue Reading

There’s No Business like Show Business, Anymore

Barry Wells - - Everything Else
The London Yodeller

WELLS Four Musketeers posterI received a serious-sounding bomb threat over the phone while I was counting about $25,000 in small bills atop my desk.

“Without promotion, something terrible happens … nothing!” — Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891).

Forty-two years ago on March 4, 1974 I started a full-time job in the magical world of show business as a manager-trainee with the Odeon chain of movie theatres  a subsidiary of Britain’s J. Arthur Rank Corporation. The pay wasn’t great to start (a mere $100 a week), but it was clean, suit-and-tie work with all the free movies, hot buttered popcorn and ice-cold soft drinks I could handle.

Eddie Leigh (1927-1997), the manager and master showman of Odeon 1 and 2 in downtown London (1962-1987) hired me after I’d responded to a classified newspaper advertisement. At the time, American Graffiti, the Francis Ford Coppola-George Lucas film, starring Candy Clark, Richard Dreyfus, Bo Hopkins, Ron Howard and Cindy Williams, was playing in Odeon 1 with The Paper Chase, starring Timothy Bottoms, John Houseman and Lindsay Wagner, playing upstairs in Odeon 2.

Since afternoon matinees were still standard fare in London’s downtown movie theatres, I kicked off each day at 12 noon to the sounds of popcorn popping and Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock. At the time, adult admission to watch a movie was $2.75 (soon to rise to $3 and $3.25) and a hot dog at the “candy bar” was a quarter, as was a box of plain popcorn.

For the next four months, Eddie Leigh showed me the managerial ropes before I was transferred to Odeon Kitchener to work under manager Eric Ball and his assistant manager, Randy Fuller, a cousin of American actor Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto in the 1950s’ TV series, The Lone Ranger.

My duties included everything from payroll, box office and candy bar operations to supervising cashiers, ushers, candy girls and projectionists, banking and movie promotions; so there were a wide variety of tasks to perform on a daily and weekly basis, including preparing a fat package of reports for Odeon’s Canadian head office in Toronto. Continue Reading

CASUAL DINING: In Praise of the Great Canadian Grilled Cheese Sandwich™

Barry Wells - - Everything Else, News & Politics
The London Yodeller

Comfort Food — food which provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling and is often characterized by high carbohydrates and simple BARRY WELLS grilledcheesead (1)preparation. The term comfort food has been traced back to 1966 when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’ — food associated with the security of childhood, like mother’s chicken soup or Butch McLarty’s world-famous grilled cheese sandwich.”

About 35 years ago I first heard the insult, “[Insert the name of your favourite dummy here] has the brains of a grilled cheese sandwich,” which I thought funny and odd at the same time since I’ve always loved a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches with a hefty blob of ketchup and crunchy dill pickle on the side.

Nonetheless, I’ve used the expression numerous times over the intervening years to describe annoying dullards we all encounter from time to time. If a bystander within earshot hears me use this insult, it’s surprising the number of times I’ve heard the retort, “That’s an insult to grilled cheese sandwiches.”

On the other hand, the expression, “dumb as a bag of hammers” rarely, if ever, elicits the response, “That’s an insult to a bag of hammers,” so it’s clear the grilled cheese sandwich is universally loved.

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With Joe Cummins’ death, we’ve lost a fearless defender of our environment

Barry Wells - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

BARRY WELLS Joe Cummings“Joe wasn’t afraid to rock the boat which may help explain why he was never named to the Mayor’s New Year’s Honours List”

“The [colony] collapse of honey bees worldwide is almost certainly a combination of different factors including mobile phone transmitters, new systemic neonicotinoid pesticides used in seed dressings and sprays in both conventional and GM crops, and GM crops containing Bt toxins, a biopesticide. Bt biopesticides reduce the honey bee’s immunity to infection by parasitic fungi that are also widely used as biocontrol agents … The honey bee is a major pollinator of our food crops and its demise is a dire warning that the extinction of the human species is not far behind.”  Dr. Joe Cummins, Professor Emeritus (Genetics), Western University, June 12, 2007

While many Londoners on social media were lamenting the death of Rock-and-Roll Hall-of-Famer David Bowie from cancer at age 69 on Jan. 11, few, by comparison, paid attention to the death of local hero, scientist Joe Cummins (also from cancer) at age 82 on Jan. 8, despite tribute articles on and in The London Free Press on Jan. 11. Obviously, that’s the way the old mop flops when a world famous entertainer cashes in their chips — they grab the headlines — but rest assured the efforts of Joe Cummins during the past 44 years he resided in London warrant our appreciation for a life well-lived. Continue Reading

UTRCA boss says the Thames River is healthier without Springbank Dam

Barry Wells - - Everything Else
The London Yodeller

BARRY spiny softshell turtleBrown and Hubert apparently think council’s Back-to-the-River plans for the river forks hinges on boating in London’s biggest unflushed toilet bowl

“As we work with our community partners to invigorate London to re-envision and rediscover our waterfront, we can’t ignore the fact that the [Springbank] dam needs to be operational for the vision to come to fruition … As mayor, I’ll ensure we fix the dam within the next four years.”  Matt Brown during his 2014 mayoral campaign

If you think you’ve heard enough about London’s festering hemorrhoid, aka the Springbank Dam, during the past 15 years, think again. There’s lots more mindless jabbering coming your way from city hall for at least another year as the brain surgeons at 300 Dufferin try to figure out how to fix our unnecessary dam and make it operational again. 

To date, about eight million dollars have already been tossed down the rabbit hole and the recreational dam’s still broken, so you’re looking at millions more to fixBARRY springbank dam photo paul roedding it and jump through all the provincial legal hoops. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the intelligent thing to do is decommission the friggin‘ dam. That way, we continue to improve the health of the river while saving money. But apparently some at city hall can’t see how a cleaner river teeming with life is in everyone’s best interests. Or maybe they just don’t want to admit they were wrong in the first place about upgrading the old stop-log dam, a council decision made 10 years ago in 2005.

Springbank Dam — when it’s working — impounds pollutants for six months of the year (including sewage from several London treatment plants upstream), impairs the movement of fish and other aquatic life and destroys shoreline habitat for several at-risk species. Nonetheless, Mayor Brown and Deputy-Mayor Paul Hubert, who fancy themselves as progressive minds on this city council, want it repaired so canoeists, kayakers and rowers can do their thing on a deeper, de-facto cesspool with bacteria counts 55 times provincial guidelines. Currently, the London Canoe Club paddles about at Sharon Creek Conservation Area and the London Rowing Club rows at Fanshawe Lake where there’s a national rowing facility.

Brown and Hubert apparently think council’s Back-to-the-River plans for the river forks hinges on boating in London’s biggest unflushed toilet bowl (you can still canoe and kayak on the cleaner, free-flowing Thames even though the dam’s broken), failing to see how the river has healed itself during the past fifteen years when the dam’s been broken. 

Frankly, it’s high-time our council plus City planning and engineering staff respected the Thames River as a living ecosystem, instead of seeing it as a plaything to stop-up like a bathtub because they think a swollen river from the forks to Springbank Park looks pretty. 

Let’s put it this way, nice and simple: PROGRESSIVE CITY => Decommissions unnecessary Springbank Dam to improve river-water quality, foster a riparian (natural) shoreline, improve the health of the river’s eco-system and save taxpayers’ money.

REGRESSIVE CITY => Repairs and reactivates damaged Springbank Dam at great expense to impound pollutants and re-toxify the Thames River while flooding shoreline habitat of at-risk species, including turtles.

SECRET DEAL  On Sept. 29, 2015, city council approved a so-called “confidential out-of-court settlement” behind-closed-doors regarding the seven-year-long lawsuit resulting from the failure of one of the dam’s new hydraulic gates on June 19, 2008. Seventy-nine days later on Dec. 17, when the City reportedly received the $3.775M settlement cheque, a media release was finally issued by city hall.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the dam’s negative impact on the river since the lawsuit was filed in 2008, Ian Wilcox, general manager of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (the UTRCA was a

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