Everybody in the crowded barbershop was talking about Miller Time: It’s Marc Miller Time.
Everybody agreed it’s time for a change in the South West district. People that voted in the last election for a change did not get it, so they said, “I’m voting for Liberal Party candidate Marc Miller, and I’m volunteering, going from door to door. This is how much I believe that a change has to come. There is hope if we can get Marc Miller elected in the district.”
Every time someone came into the barbershop, everybody said in unison: It’s Miller time, Marc Miller Time.
Then everybody started talking… Rufus the barber put up his hand and said, “We can all sing together, but we all can’t talk together,” so everybody started saying together, “It’s Miller Time, it’s Marc Miller Time.”
There was an Amen from Rufus the barber.
“So we went to Atari and said: We’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for your. They said “no.” Then we went to Hewlett-Packard, they said, “We don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.” (Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.)
Then Schoolboy said, “Eighty percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts.”
There was an Amen.
Just Chillin asked, “How do you come to this 80-20.”
Schoolboy said, “Check out pareto’s law. They also say “80 percent of road traffic accidents are cause by 20 percent of drivers.”
Dropout said, “I heard some guy say that he was married twice; his first wife was an actress, she acted like she loved him,” and his second wife was a good housekeeper, when she divorced him she kept the house.”
Oletymer said, “Let me tell you a little history of Montreal, because the present mayor and a lot of city councilors on the executive committee believe Montreal’s history started when they became city councilors and when they became the mayor of a once great city.
Back in the day, if you were a person of colour you could not stay in a hotel in Montreal; it was restricted, you had to stay with a person who owned a house, who had a vacant room, they were called rooming house. You could have been the great Paul Robeson or Sammy Davis Jr., Nipsey Russell; it did not matter. In the USA it was the same, the only difference was in the USA people of colour owned hotels. Yes, Afro-Americans owned hotels.”
Now That’s Been Said, said, “Get to the point.”
Oletymer said, “Ok. I’m getting to the point.”
“Now they call it bed and breakfast or Air BandB. you rent out a room or apartment, show it on a website. Now people all over the world are doing it, it’s a great way to make money.”
There was no city of LaSalle, Cote-St-Luc like you see now. If you were a person of colour you felt comfortable on Sundays attending the Union United Church and visiting friends in St. Henri. People of colour, very few, lived in Cote-des-Neiges and NDG.
You did not have social media like you have today. So if the experiment with Jackie Robinson did not work, they would have put Jackie Robinson on a bus and sent him back to New York City or Los Angeles.
Rufus Rockhead’s Nite Club was a top club in the world for entertainers of colour. Some of the best entertainers of colour entertained at Rockhead’s Paradise, because Rockheads Paradise was on the circuit for entertainers.
Dr. Charles Drew lived in this city, Montreal, because legend has it that he was refused admittance to universities in the USA, all he did was invent blood plasma. He attended Mc Gill University and at that time McGill was restricted. They had a quota for people of colour and other ethnic groups.
At that time Canada’s greatest ambassador was Oscar Peterson, a great classical pianist who knew how to play jazz. Oscar Peterson was born and raised in Montreal, so was Dr. Oliver Jones; born and raised in St-Henri aka Little Burgundy.
The most important institutions for people of colour, again, were the Union United Church and the NCC. The NCC is gone, destroyed, and the Union United Church is too small for the population growth in Montreal for people of colour. A church in 2015 should have a capacity of 1500 people for people of colour and a board of directors with vision; the present board has lacked vision for years. It’s too bad, because that’s all they have. There should have been a goal; the people on the board should have had a goal.
Feuding parties often forget that they may have shared a similar goal; therefore, the two sides may need to set their egos aside and allow the joint goal to take precedence and provide direction and if the admitted (the truth) to themselves that they were not progressing, they could have gotten help from non-board members for free. Again, it’s too bad.
Back in the day the person to go to when you needed help was Warren Allman, now if everybody goes out and votes in the upcoming election. If you sit and talk with Raymond Moore he would tell you how it was back in the day, in Montreal, if you worked for the railroad, Windsor Station, you had to enter from the back door.
Back in the day, we wondered if people liked us, but after getting a good education and listening, reading, travelling and talking with people, we wondered if we liked them.
Back in the day we could listen to stories from Afro-Americans who came to Montreal, they were not called Afro-Americans then, by the “system.”
Schoolboy put up his hand and said, “I don’t mean to interrupt you, but said, what did they call Afro-Americans, Afro-Canadians, back in the day?”
Oletymer said, “Schoolboy, your generation is spoiled. There are ladies in here, children and church-going people, people with love in their hearts, come by here when it’s quiet, I’ll show you a book called Without Sanctuary (Twin Palms Publishers).”
Welfare Wesley asked, “What’s in this book, Without Sanctuary that everybody should see?”
“Back in the day,” said Oletymer, “The most popular postcards are in the book, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday sing about it. It’s a song called Strange Fruit, hanging from the trees.
Afro-Americans came to Montreal back in the day; they used to tell stories about Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad and the lawn jockey; people who were against Slavery used to place lawn jockeys on their lawns. This was a code for runaway slaves to go to the back door and knock. We will hide you and feed you for a few days, and direct you to freedom.
A lot of Afro-Americans came to Canada and never returned to the USA; they became Canadian citizens. And when you look at the photos in that book Without Sanctuary you would understand why they never returned to the USA.
Dropout put up his hand and said, “I don’t want to interrupt you, but I just thought of something: Did you know that one time Barack Obama, President of the USA, announced that his favorite TV show was The Wire during his first run for president in 2008?”
Oletymer said, “For those who did not know, now they do. Please don’t interrupt me again.”
Oletymer was getting ready to talk when he noticed a baby mother reading a book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. He asked her, “How old is your son?”
She said, “8 years-old.”
She had a designer purse.
He asked her, “Where do you work?”
She said, “I work for See Moore and Do Less.”
Then he said, “Well what do you tell your baby-father?”
She said, “I told him, I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I. And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.”
There was an Amen from everybody.
Then Oletymer said, “Back in the day one of the best athletes from St. Henri was Victor “Vic” Richardson. He played basketball. He had more moves than Allied Van Lines. His career was so bright he used to wear sunglasses. He passed away suddenly. He will be missed by many.”
Everybody in the barbershop was talking about the film festival, the Black Film Festival. This year they honored Martin Luther King III.
Dropout asked, “What do you think of the film festival?”
Professor said, “They got money from the three levels of government. They honored Martin Luther King III, for what? If you want to honor someone, honor Congressman John Lewis, he was in the struggle. He got beat up marching for freedom, and the struggle is worse now than before when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive. Back then there were lots of lynchings. Now there are more guns and killings by the authorities, and more people in prison—two and a half million people. That’s more than anywhere in the civilized world.
How can you have an International Black Film Festival, 11 years now, and not invite noteworthy actors like Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree, Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, et al. Why not honor Dr. John Carlos, Prof. Angela Davis (she helped start Operation Breakfast in Oakland, California during those heyday days of Black civil rights and social activism).
When Prof. Angela Davis helped start the successful Operation Breakfast program, J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, said, “They are the most dangerous group in USA.” Now in 2015, Operation Breakfast programs are operating across North America. Feeding children before they go to school is very popular with white fundraisers who act as though they invented the idea for the programs.