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ceilidh: Lengthy Rants or Fear and Loathing in Sydney

there hasn't seemed to be that much discussion on the list over the
Ashley/MacLeans thing, so I don't want to rock the proverbial boat or
anything, but here is a letter i e-mailed to MacLeans and one I am thinking
about dropping off at the Post...

Feel free to send these around if you AGREE with me or you can make simply
'cut me up' if you wish....

MacLeans - letters\!/macleans.ca
i didn't buy the issue I just read the article off their web site
I must commend MacLeans on a job well done.  You are really playing the role
of manipulated media rather well.  There is nothing like hearing a national
magazine whine and complain and then attempt to act like ambassadors of our
nations values...

Ashley MacIsaac is in a postion to tackle the US market on his terms...
something that has eluded Rita MacNeil & the Tragically Hip.  The thing
these bands have in common is that they are doing things there way...but in
Ashley's case it is starting to pay off big time.

It seems that MacLeans magazine is most interested in " his marketable image
as a down-home, if outlandishly dressed, Canadian boy-hero."  That would
seem like a wholesome way to sell issues, right? All Canadian, all white....
all straight.  But, it seems to have backfired...Ashley marches to the beat
of his own drum machine...and MacLeans cannot be seen commending such
unpredictable and unspeakable acts.  But, they sure can report on how pure
they are and how devilish Ashley is in the Kitchen.

It is nineteen ninty six....it is ok to come out of the closet, but make
sure you close the door before anyone sees you.  Ashley made "openly gay
comments" to American Journal, eh? How else are you supposed to speak to
Tabloid Journalists if you are looking for coverage? Do you show them your
stamp collection and break into a rendition of "Jesus Loves Me"? No, you
have to play at their level, and you must realize that in the record
business any publicity is good publicity...

I have seen Ashley in the audience of Geraldo, Rolanda, & Jonovision...he
gets around.  If he wants to sell CD's in the states he has to rely on
cultural overexposure and follow the paths of pop culture...and if he enjoys
living a wild lifestyle, all the power to him.

Ashley gave an interview to a gay magazine? Is that a crime?  Does that fit
in your so-called path of "self-destruction"?  Ashley MacIsaac is a fiddler
like no other and can be an ambassador to Cape Breton, in my books.  The
real problem lies with the narrow minded public who really cannot see the
forest for the trees.  His lifestyle does not effect his grand musicianship
and he can bring Cape Breton music to the international level without having
to worry about what the conservative people that will make generalizations
because they don't listen to music anyway.

I don't think the question is whether or not Ashley MacIsaac can handle fame
...I just wonder if you guys are bitter that a Cape Bretoner is in a very
powerful and exciting and it is not because of your rag.
Cape Breton Post (not on-line so i will probably fax or drop it off
to whom it may concern at the Cape Breton post,

this is an open letter to the editor, a free editorial to the post, a
special guest column from a music fan and student, or whatever you wish, the
choice is yours. I know it is long, but it is just some things i would like
to get answered...even if it is privately.

alright folks, it's me again...

although i can not fully relate to mr macisaac's choice of lifestyle, i do
wish that everyone will stop for a second and question their grounds for
considering themselves the 'the voice of modern moral reason'. are you
really that qualified? if the answer is yes, i think that we may have
reached an evolutionary plateau in Cape Breton and our sense of spiritual
oneness shall prevail...hooray for the tenth insight! but sadly, this is not
the case.  we must realize that we are more or less on the same level and
have to actively cooperate in order to make this journey together a smooth
one...whether we like it or not.

it is frightening how more and more people are taking this so-called 
'Ashley controversy' as a means in which to make themselves feel better
about themselves and sit higher on their collective horses. it is beginning
to represent the suppressed paranoia, radical conservatism, and general
intolerance that is ingrained in a lot of our minds, and my fear is that it
is spreading.  it is around us and many people feel the need to joke about
these kind of things, and our depressing economic conditions can only make
things worse... 

if you believe that sexual preferences are better suited for discussion
behind closed doors...then i would recommend keeping your reactions,
reservations, and criticisms behind those doors as well.  the truth of the
matter is, discussion and talking about issues are the one way to further
educate ourselves and become open to the entire world around us.  if Ashley
was pressured to suppress his feelings, emotions, and identity, then we
could predict in a couple of years, as a lot of child stars have shown us,
he would most likely be found in a pool of his own vomit or be seen holding
up a local convince store. the choice is his and he must live with the
consequences...not you or I.  if people would get this worked up more
important potential evils (from racism to the tar ponds), then i would
probably be writing about all the progress around me. It would be different
if Ashley was spreading hate and violence...I am sure people realize that
there are actual crimes taking place in our own backyards that need much
more attention.

there must be a lot of pressure when people expect you to be an "ambassador
of Cape Breton"...i mean, not one person can embody all of Cape Breton
culture and music. that would make things far too easy...we must be much
more deeper and convoluted than just that, don't you think?  i don't believe
people should be worried about what this will do to the island's image
because most rational people tend to disregard broad sweeping
generalizations about regions, races, and even music. we are talking about
an individual by all extensions of the word...not a puppet, not a mascot,
nor a role model. He is simply one very musical human being, with a hectic
life that takes him around the world...the funny thing is, people will begin
to question whether or not he actually IS a Cape Bretoner since he is
touring so much...just wait and see.

it is actually to hear someone is actually being honest and as long as that
honesty is directed at himself, i will consider myself a fan and supporter
of Ashley MacIsaac. i have a hard time believing that he has been
'volunteering' this information without the aid of provoking questions from
the media...why doesn't someone ask him about this more directly (leaving
his family and friends out of this entirely...i think they are the ones that
really have to suffer through this ordeal)? It was FRANK magazine that outed
him last year wasn't it? now that is a pretty voluntary publication, don't
you think? if people are not comfortable with the answers they receive, they
should cease to ask these kinds of questions...that is the big problem. if
people are asking private questions to a youth of today, they should expect
honest answers and consider them to be 'off the record' unless their intent
is to harm Ashley, his friends, his family, and his fans.  

who do you think a generation of x-filers who have little or no support for
the current system of establishment, be it governmental or media, will find
themselves allied with? The wealthy owner of MacLean's (and coincidently the
Post) or Ashley MacIsaac? Hmm...that is something, valued readers, they will
have to decide for themselves.  by the sales of Mariyn Manson, it looks like
pain, anti-christianism and self-mutilation are in...so even i cannot make
such a comment on behalf of my peers.

the other side of the coin is that a whirl wind of attention will do wonders
to his career state side, probably to the dismay of all the Rush Limbaugh
types. if he suppressed a lot of these controversial issues and went for the
Rita MacNeil image, do you think it would work? i think he is going to sell
a lot of CD's in the US market, where gimmicks are needed more than musical
bravado.  I think he must see a bigger picture, something that many people
don't even think, nor care about. as for management, it is either all smoke
and mirrors or it is simply the consequences of Ashley's free reign. A&M
records new what they were getting into when they signed him and they know
that any form of  attention can turn into good publicity.  the real
interpretation of this entire ordeal should be in the hands of all the
parents out there...it us up to them to talk to their children about this
kind of thing and be more open about life in general. if people were more
honest and open,  then kids would be more prepared to deal with the world
around them on their own. whether it is sex or drug use...education is the
key. i am really beginning to sound like 'Ann Landers'.

i found the announcement (in Mixed Reviews) that many people will not be
playing Ashley's music in their home as being rather interesting...this must
be proof that scientifically when someone deviates from the norm in their
private life that their entire catalogs of recording will start to
deteriorate in sound quality...now that would explain why my Thriller album
keeps skipping. To say that some people may be over acting is one thing...
but in this case, i would say that a true fan of music does not judge on
such silly criteria.

It seems that MacLean's magazine is going down a very narrow road (as is the
New W5)  and if the Canadian people keep gobbling up the Ameri-centric
values (ie money, ratings, and 'family' values) of trash tabloid culture, I
will have write another letter about the importance of CBC radio.  The next
thing you will be telling me is that this is the reason that Ashley wasn't
on Christmas Daddies.

In closing i would like to know where the Cape Breton Post stands in support
of the Cape Breton Arts community? I think a mandate should be developed and
more co-operation with the community itself should be initiated...the
quagmire seams to be expanding by the minute and your valued readers are
starting to look elsewhere to see WHAT'S GOIN ON (and for good reason).

Some examples...

these quotes were all nabbed from a review of Natalie MacMaster's latest CD
"No Boundries"...while I must admit that it was a rather positive review, I
wish someone would explain to me what all of these things really mean and
what kind of message are they trying to convey to fans and supporters of
Cape Breton Music?

speaking of people with 'tiny minds'...

"we're still talking about fiddle music here...and its not going to appeal
to everyone"

"she does include enough musical variation...to keep folks wondering if
they're not just listening to the same song played at different speeds"

"how many of you folks actually...know the difference between a march, reel
, clog, or strathspey?...how many of you even care?"

"MacMaster's latest...is about as good as fiddle playin' gets"

"she wanted...vocals to escape the 'instrumental only' stigma (some would
say boredom)"

"No collection of cape breton or fiddle music is complete without this one,
folks. a must!"


A local quartette of local musicians just released a smashing debut CD a
little while ago at the Capri to a massive and supportive audience...of
which no Post representation. When I was helping them with the Press Release
, not one quote could be snagged from the Cape Breton post. Sure I might be
slightly biased since I wrote the liner notes, but the truth of the matter
is I would not have if I didn't think it was the most superb instrumental
release of 1996. Mike Cambell from Muchmusic was there, What's Goin on, the
Capertimes...and a lot of fans.  They appeared on Natalie's Atlantic
Airwaves, Mainstreet with Wendy Berfeldt, Wake Up to Cape Breton with Jack
Boneparte, and Christmas Daddies with the Barra MacNeils.  When the CD was
released in Halifax, the herald and the daily news were present...and both
publications had extremely positive reviews and raves. you either need an
entertainment editor or move your offices to the mainland.

The Post does tease us with mentions of such things as some things that are
one the go, such as the LOAD OF WOOD concerts, who's at Daniels, what cover
band is at Herman's and the odd youth centered event, but it doesn't go deep
enough.  I am really worried what people from 'away' must think when they
pick up the paper to make some plans...it definitely is doing nothing for
tourism or the community in general.  Just as I hear the same voices on
Talkback most mornings, I read the same names in the letters section...and
most people focus right in and thrive off the negativity.

There was an article about the Q VIDEO RELEASE concert featuring several up
and coming Sydney bands, but there was no follow up.  That was a spectacular
& successful multimedia experience...and unless proper credit is given and
the interest is acknowledged, we are not going to see enough variety on this
island.  Publications have the power to change things on the island, and I
would say that WHAT's GOIN ON is light years ahead of the game.

i'm really glad to see that some of your writers are living in this utopian
world where everything really isn't that bad...maybe that is the secret of
finding solace in the power of good ole 70's arena rock and role. smile, 
life is really too short and have a holly jolly x-mas.

p.s. i would hope since the Post is now owned by one of Canada's richest
business people that you would have an e-mail address, and gawd forbid a web
site. please join us in the nineties...and get some better bloody comics. i
would hate to say that you are a little out of time, but i am afraid that
fans of the Flintstones, Donald Duck, Andy Capp, and Blondie are violent
folk.  in case you are unaware, we have several incredible artist's in the
area, like Paul "Moose" MacKinnon...the CBLA lives on! also please refrain
from posting the freakin' movie box office receipts...this perpetuates
Hollywood into thinking that people actually judge films on monetary gain
and not quality product...it also gives the local theatres very small
choices when it comes to bringing in shows...they either just have the hits
or have movies like TRAINSPOTTING for one week without any advertisements.

If this is not published...people will see it. Mostly off island folks with
the help of those handy new Information Technologies...I will be passing it
around over the internet via various news groups, e-mail lists, publications
, and web pages...i will also send it to other magazines like What's Goin'
On & the Capertimes, and will give it free to anyone who may ask. Comments
are welcome at: boost\!/ccen.uccb.ns.ca

Iain Kenneth MacLeod, University Student & General Supporter of Cape Breton

Technical Co-ordinator for the Cape Breton Music Centre On-line, Computer
Consultant for CAPR radion, Co-host of Underground & Inbetween, CD Reviewer
for the Capertimes Contributor to What's Goin On magazine

You only have permission to publish my name & e-mail address: boost\!/ccen.
The Cape Breton Music Centre Online     "the little drum machine boy" 
Technical Coordinator: Iain MacLeod           Beck Hansen
E-mail: boost\!/ccen.uccb.ns.ca