Sunday, January 29, 2012


Yesterday marked 3 years since my brother-in-law, Hitoshi Ikezaki, decided to take his own life. 

If you knew him, you'd know that he was not the sort of person who would consider doing such a thing. Everything I write about him comes out as a cliché. I love him and I miss him. He was a good man. Not everyone really is good, but Hitoshi was.

Here is what happens with a suicide. The people left behind spend an abnormal amount of time trying to figure out that most dangerous of all questions; WHY?

There is a lot I don't know, and I've speculated about a whole lot of other things these past 3 years since the phone call came in. 

What I do know is that he was a man of honour and professionalism. He was depressed for about a year, and I do think I know the reason. 

Hitoshi worked for a well known Vancouver clothing company and was to head the Tokyo division. If you live in North America, you will know this company, its logo and its corporate image. I remember that he was excited about this. I also remember that he and my sister-in-law were required to attend a weekend session of Landmark Education. That weekend did not go well.

I have not attended a Landmark Education forum. All my research indicates it is something that would make me very angry. They do seem like a very litigious group not very accepting of criticism. It's the sort of thing I steer clear of. It did have an impact on my sister-in-law and Hitoshi.

What happened when Hitoshi was in Tokyo is confusing to me still. The company in question asked him to go against his principles of leadership, honour and his ethics. 

He and I had spoken a year or two earlier about leadership. I had been in a position of authority a few times. I was well trained and then further mentored by the right people. The most important message I got was take care of those in your charge. Make sure they are safe, as comfortable as possible and as happy as you can keep them. Hitoshi treated his people with that in mind. 

He was told that he would have to lie to his people and ultimately they would likely see it as betrayal. It was not really in him to do this. It is certainly against the spirit of the public image of this company. They made him lie, and Hitoshi wasn't comfortable with lying. 

That ought to be a good quality. But apparently in the business world, even if the pseudo-yoga new age beliefs are printed all over the company's shopping bags, if this quality of honesty gets in the way of money, it is abandoned without a thought. 

Hitoshi Ikezaki made a choice that I will never understand completely. He was a good man. 

Though I can't  blame the company for his death, I believe their corporate behaviour led to a situation where good people were abandoned for the love of money and ego. One of those good people was my brother-in-law. 

I miss you Hitoshi.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Footnotes in Gaza

Ever since I picked up my first copy of Tintin, I have been hooked on graphic novels (or comic books - same thing really). I remember my mom not being entirely impressed since books with no pictures or drawings were and I suppose to many still are seen as much more intellectual. 

But drawings and photos have always made things that much more clear to me.

Hence my joy at discovering Joe Sacco's book, Footnotes in Gaza. Finally some of the mess of Palestine and Israel's real estate issues make slightly more sense to me.

For a time, I worked at a busy start up company that was meant to be the Youtube of current events and news stories. It never quite succeeded in this for reasons mostly relating to the personality involved. 

My job was to manage overseas video editors while re-encoding, organizing, and creating transcripts and headlines for the stories that would be sent in from various sources. Mostly it came from the Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, eventually CBC and then, as the company shrunk to just me in a large office with a computer and a phone, I ended up dealing with Fox News as well.

Stories from the middle east were always trickling in. The bombings and chaos that the big networks seemed to busy to care about would invariably be covered by Reuters and AP. 

And that is where I lost track of what was going on. 

Much like calculus in university, I came close to understanding what was going on, and then it would elude me. You'd think with all the news, I'd have it figured out. Largely I understood it as stated earlier; a tragic real estate misunderstanding that had been going on for a few thousand years. None of it seemed worth dying over. 

If this sounds callous of me, I should point out that by Thursday which always seemed to have an increase in bombings and other acts of cruelty, I would often hide in a bathroom stall and have a little cry. 

My brother once sent me a book about the middle east. It is a good one explaining the issues, but I have not been able to work my way through it despite many attempts. Too many acronyms. Too many footnotes.

Which brings me to this graphic novel... or perhaps graphic textbook/journalistic report. 

Sacco has a style that is easy to look at. Some artists tend towards more impressionistic renderings, but Sacco's does not. I never felt out of the story. The art is honest as is the journalism. 

And just like when I was little, the images make it easier to understand why the Gaza strip exists, what it is really about, and how awful the whole situation is. You don't get overly bogged down in different organizations and trying to remember names. (Though they are there as well). 

Joe Sacco tells the story of the 1956 massacre at Rafah of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. Don't remember it? Yeah, me neither. In fact, never even heard of it.

I won't retell the story, except to say that I am continually perplexed over how a government formed of a people oppressed so utterly horribly in the second world war can bring themselves to do the very same thing to another oppressed people within 11 years of being set free is beyond my comprehension. 

It is a hard subject. Even a better understanding of it leads to more questions, but I highly recommend this book. Instead of getting bogged down in excuses, you instead see sad faces and the humanity rendered in beautiful drawings. It gives me the necessary background to maybe take another stab at that thick volume teasing me from the bookshelf.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Aram and Amir's wedding

This is my latest wedding highlight reel. The videographers were Geoff Livingston and Rob Leslie. All of us are contractors working for Urban Wedding. Music is Ageless Beauty by The Stars.

I did the editing; the invisible job. It can also be one of the most frustrating jobs, and requires a good deal of concentration, patience, problem solving, and coffee. This is especially true with wedding footage since there are no re-shoots.

I have noticed that Microsoft has ads up on the television showing a family instantly making a video of the dad acting like an idiot, complete with motion effects and cut to music. It gives the impression that an editor just presses a magic button and instantly everything is available over the internet. 

I would like to point out that this is virtually impossible - and if it is realistic, I need to find a new job. 

Be kind to editors. They have a great deal of power and can be very moody while working. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

my christmas gift

Carrie got me the above tickets for Christmas. It was a tight budget this year for reasons that I will go into as soon as the issue in question resolves itself. So it was a surprise to get tickets to anything. 

Demetri Martin is one of my favourite funny people. He is terribly clever and a bit of a smart ass. My kind of person.

He also did something I've always admired, but rarely been able to do myself. Demetri went to Yale and then New York University law school where he did quite well, but suddenly dropped out in his last year to pursue comedy, something he wasn't immediately good at.

To me that is true courage, and despite all the new age advice about following your bliss, it is a rare thing to find someone who does follow their bliss and does it well. We can't all follow our bliss otherwise there would be too many firefighters, princess' and cowboys/girls. 

Or more accurately, we can't all make a living following our bliss. 

Stand up comedy seems very scary to me. I grew up on listening to the best comics of the day courtesy of the Edmonton public library vinyl collection and my parent's stereo. I don't know that I'd still even chuckle at most of those jokes, but I realized quickly the value of creating laughter seemingly out of nowhere. 

It is much harder to create laughter than tears. 

Back to Demetri Martin. He did have an opening act that deserves mention: Levi MacDougall who was a writer on Demetri's sadly cancelled television program Important Things with Demetri Martin. I really liked him too. 

This show won't be on tv anymore cause some jerk cancelled it. But Demetri is writing books now. So that is something to look forward to if you can read. I can read.

nelson the seagull

Nelson the Seagull is a pretty cool name for a seagull and for a band or in this case, a cafĂ©. It is near the office I work at right now and whenever I feel like a really good cup of coffee with a friend, this is my first suggestion. 

If you find yourself in Vancouver and read this blog, feel free to ask me out for a coffee. I've never been known to say no to coffee.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

active pass

I've been playing with my iPhone too much lately. Fun as it is, I've been spoiled by the fine Canon cameras I get to play with at work. Still, not bad for something I swore I would never use - camera phones that is. 

I seem to be eating my words often in modern times. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bored to Death 2009 - 2011

It may seem somewhat odd to grieve the end of a television program, but I am. I lament the loss of Bored to Death more than the loss of Steve Jobs (sorry nearly everyone else who seemed oddly moved by the death of a creative visionary and bully).

There will be no final epilogue for my heroes Jonathan, George and most especially, Ray. That is beyond sad to me. It is tragic.

Stories need a beginning, a middle and an end; not a cancellation.

If you think I'm over reacting, imagine reading your child a bed time story, suddenly stoping three chapters into it and then ripping the book to shreds. 

I don't think you'd do that. 

I had nothing to do with the making of the above video. The montage was made by somebody with time on their hands, the footage is from my late, beloved teevee program, and the music is by Jason Schwartzman's band, Coconut Records.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

a new year

I don't have any comments about this year yet. It's been a quiet and enjoyable first day.


Thank you for visiting. I live in Vancouver now, but I've lived in other places too. I take photos and make short films about things and people. Please comment and be argumentative. It amuses me.

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