Archive for Buffalo

Feedback

A theme in all my orientation classes is the primacy of feedback in communication: how you give it, how you receive it.

When you gratefully welcome feedback into your life from colleagues, you grow as a professional, because you learn. When you usefully provide feedback to your colleagues, they get better as professionals, because they learn.

That’s why defensiveness and unfriendliness are killers when it comes to the work of communication.

A short while ago a friend forwarded me a short memoir written by Phil Mott, a mutual friend from our university years four decades ago. It covers this theme:

My girlfriend encouraged me to write and set me up with the Prodigal Sun editor [Bob Basil], the entertainment section of the paper. He assigned me a rather harmless assignment of reviewing the movie American Gigolo.  I wrote the review and sat down with one of the editors to review the article. Bob was a kind-eyed soul with a talent for writing and an affection for the spirit of Jack Kerouac. His stories took him on wild trips riding rails and visiting the less fortunate of the world. He sat next to me with a red pen and wrote more in red than I had double-spaced typed. I was crestfallen. He wrecked me in ten minutes and crushed any dream that I ever had of writing anything but a to-do list ever again. He then looked up at me with a smile and told me “looks pretty good. I like it. You made some nice observations”.  His support was greatly appreciated and kept me from jumping out of a window. He passed the review on to the copy department, red marks and all, and, just like that, I was a writer.

In giving me permission to reprint this passage, Phil wrote, “I would love it if my addled brain remembrance is of some use. Take it as a grand compliment that your advice stuck with me all of these years. It helped me give feedback to my own college students.”

“One to a customer.”

At Mercer Street Books and Records in lower Manhattan yesterday, I found this pamphlet Black Sparrow Press published way back when. It filled me with joy. Knowing Robert Creeley was a terrific blessing.

If I could just create the kind of world I’d really like to live in … *I* wouldn’t be there. “I” is an experience of creation, which puts up with it no matter. There’s a lot to get done. You’ve been born and that’s the first and last ticket. Already he changes his mind, makes the necessary adjustments, picks up his suitcase and getting into his car, drives slowly home. He lives with people whom he has the experience of loving. It all works out. He says. It has to. One to a customer. It’s late. But they’ll be there. He relaxes. He has an active mind.

Andy Herko

AndyHerko

My friend Andy Herko – I guess you could call him my brother-in-law – passed away last week. He was only fifty years old.

I went back to Buffalo last weekend to attend his services, which were filled with love and stories. Andy was an exquisite man.

We shared some eccentric, generations-old musical tastes, one evening driving at least one relative out of his living room after playing Helen Reddy’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” a half dozen times.

Family members have set up a GoFundMe site in his honour “to help ensure that his daughter has financial assistance for her future success.”

Ken Catalino drew the amazing portrait of Andy.

Buffalo Seminary

A very fine school. (I hadn’t realized until my trip last week that Tara Vanderveer, the legendary Stanford women’s basketball coach, attended.) I took this photo on Bird Avenue near Elmwood. (Photoshopped.)

BuffaloSeminary

Finals

It has been slim pickings here at basil.ca the last while. Fall 18 was a very hectic semester. I added a major assignment to my upper-level professional communications classes, and I fit in two significant trips (one to Boston for my son’s wedding, and the other to the Kootenays to take care of my late friend Kat Kosiancic‘s things). I’ll be heading back to Buffalo to visit family and friends over the break and’ll be posting more before and during the trip. But before that: Final exams tomorrow!

You Are Here

YouAreHere

I’ve been here many hundreds of times, across the water from Vancouver’s Science World, yet apparently I have never been fully here, as in ‘YOU ARE HERE’. How did I miss this great sign?!

My teacher and friend Robert Creeley titled at least eight of his poems “Here.” It was the title of one of his very last published poems:

Up a hill and down again.

Around and in –

 

Out was what it was all about

but now it’s done.

 

At the end was the beginning,

just like it said or someone did.

 

Keep looking, keep looking,

keep looking.

And here is one from “Hello,” a book from Creeley’s mid-career:

 

Since I can’t

kill anyone

I’d better

sit still.

.

‘People Explain Why Their Job Sucks in Six Words’

It is hard to imagine any job I have had that actually “sucked.”

I very much like my current job, an applied communications and marketing professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. This job has been hard, especially when I was the  department chair, but it never actually “sucked.” I’ve taught at a few places; none of these teaching gigs could ever have sucked. That said, they were more-than-full-time jobs. Weekends were/are never off.

I was let go from Burger King at age 16 for somehow, weirdly, failing to put the fish filets on the fish filet sandwiches, but I actually liked that job, the pretty cashiers who were from my high school, the smell of the broiled burgers, the record store across the mall hallway.

I worked for Paul Kurtz. He was hard to work for, and rough. But he was wise and helped people’s careers including mine. The job did not suck. Though it ruined some mornings, afternoons, and evenings.

I worked for myself at Basil Communications Inc. That job did not suck, but my boss had issues.

My managers at Your Host (graveyard shifts) and Mighty Taco (more graveyard shifts, but with slightly drunker people) in Buffalo in the late 1970s were estimable and … thank you very much, managers, from this point in the future; my time at your workplaces definitely did *not* suck. It was, instead, charming, thoroughly. And I wrote a lot on the job and then after I ran home, loving memories and scenes and the exercise. (I had so much energy!)

Here is the Vice piece about the six words.