Shake it up

The union of the Toronto Transit Commission – the organization that runs the city’s subway, streetcar, and bus system – called an illegal wildcat strike at midnight over an issue that they obviously felt strongly about. It sent the city of four-million into a bit of disarray, and the streets were filled with many times more walkers and cyclists than usual weaving through the more-clogged-with-idling-cars-than-usual streets. It annoyed a lot of people, but was effective, I suppose, in highlighting just how important mass-transit is to the city.

Which of course made me think of the pipe band world.

Pipe bands are generally all talk and little action. Despite the fact that there are huge inequities in important issues (e.g., fair and legal compensation for performance rights and royalties on the World’s broadcasts, CDs, and DVDs; travel money; prize money; nepotistic judging) bands don’t seem to have the courage to do anything about it.

Yes, yes, it’s a hobby and all that, but, please, people put way too much time and energy into this “hobby,” and there’s way too much money being made from it by others, to just keep taking it.

Seems to me that if you really want change, or really want to prove a point, you sometimes have to take a courageous stand. I don’t necessarily agree with what Toronto’s transit workers did today, but it got my attention and it showed just how vital they and the system are to the operation of the city. Yes, the work day went on, but at what cost?

When will pipe bands take the same sort of approach to elicit the change they so often talk about, but do nothing about? It’s actually the bands that have the power, not the associations. If they plucked up the courage, big changes could happen – and fast.



I thought about numbering my favourite candy/sweeties. Cherry Blasters would be at the top, followed closely by a Cadbury Flake. Chocolate and bad drumming usually give me a big headache, but a Flake, like several large whiskies, is worth the hangover.

More apt I guess are my top pipe band performances. These aren’t necessarily competitively great (although some are), just the ones that stand out in my brain most.

1. SFU – 1995 World’s MSR.
2. 78th Frasers – 1988 Maxville medley
3. SLOT – singing “The Auld Triangle” at their 2005 Pre-World’s Concert
4. SFU – 2005 World’s medley
5. 78th Frasers – “Journey To Skye” at the 1988 concert at Leith Town Hall

Lots more from MacLellan-vintage Strathclyde Police, FMM, Clan MacFarlane and others, if I really thought about it, but that’s I hope enough to prompt a few ideas from others.