Douglas Cardinal takes a critic to task, W. P. Kinsella gets brushed back, and Thompson, Man., asks for a tax break

January 8 1990


Douglas Cardinal takes a critic to task, W. P. Kinsella gets brushed back, and Thompson, Man., asks for a tax break

January 8 1990


Douglas Cardinal takes a critic to task, W. P. Kinsella gets brushed back, and Thompson, Man., asks for a tax break


It was no surprise last month when several book critics described the lavish, 150-page volume as a sympathetic and understanding overview of the work of Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal. Indeed, Cardinal, whose Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa was completed last June at a cost of $255 million, contributed several of his own essays to Edmonton author Trevor Boddy's book The Architecture of Douglas Cardinal. But the book, which combines a biography of Cardinal with a review of his major Canadian creations, has found at least one vociferous critic: Cardinal himself. According to the archi-

tect, the book as a whole presents an unnecessarily harsh criticism of his work. And he has said that he is especially infuriated that readers might interpret his own contribution to the book, in the form of 11 short essays written between 1971 and 1988, as a stamp of approval for the main text. For his part, Boddy defended the book's assessment of Cardinal's work. Declared Boddy: “Unlike most architectural books, this is not a puff-piece." He added that he was surprised when Cardinal notified Edmonton publisher NeWest Press last month that he would not help to promote the book. But Car-

dinal stood firm. Said the architect: “I thought it would be a book that repre-

sented my efforts, what I have done and accomplished. It does not even come close." Some criticism can be easi-

er to give than to receive.

Fictional reservations in the foothills

W. P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel, Shoeless Joe, told the story of an Iowa farmer visited by the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago White Sox baseball team—and it was a runaway best-seller. Now, several of his critics say that Kinsella, who lives in White Rock near Vancouver, should stick to writing fantasies about long-ago sports teams—and steer clear of what some have termed the "slanderous” and “malicious” writing in his latest book, The Miss Hobbema Pageant. In that work, Kinsella weaves fact and fiction in a series of short stories about native people in the foothills of the real-life Hobbema reserve in southwestern Alberta. in the foothills of the real-life Hobbema reserve in southwestern Alberta. But, according to Alberta native activist Loretta Todd, the book portrays native Canadians as "comical, silly buffoons.” For his part, Kinsella told Maclean’s that native people “should be out creating” their own literature,

rather than worrying about how non-natives portray them. He added that the recent attacks on his work have motivated him to respond in the best way he knows how: he is planning a seventh book based on native characters.


Even in the complex world of multinational big business, it seemed like an odd match. In recent months, rumors circulated in Britain that McDonald’s Restaurants was a strong supporter of the outlawed Irish Republican Army (IRA). The source of those rumors: a program on Atlantabased Cable News Network, which some British TV satellite dishes can pick up. On the program, McDonald’s was cited as a contributor to its U.S. employees’ individual retirement accounts— known as IRAS in the United States. Mass communication can lead to mass confusion.+


When 9,500 U.S. troops touched down in his country five days before Christmas, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega’s troubles had only just begun. The former dictator fled his presidential palace and later he was forced to seek refuge in the Vatican Embassy. But while news reporters gave upto-the-minute de`tails of his most pressing worries, Noriega had a less-publicized problem that involved one of America’s favorite newsmen, TV’s fictional Murphy Brown. Ac-

cording to a former confidant, in recent months Noriega had become a devoted fan of the comedy series, which stars Candice Bergen as a veteran anchorman struggling, like Noriega, to stay at the top of her profession. Those sources added that Noriega has a crush on Bergen and that, for several months, a friend in the United States had been shipping Noriega videotapes of the show to his official residence. The perks of power are legion.

A hero’s stories

The spray of gunfire lasted only seconds. But ever since the bloody skirmish 22 years ago on the coast of Vietnam that left him paralysed from the chest down, Ron Kovic has fought another battle—for recognition of the plight of American veterans maimed in the Vietnam War. Kovic’s determination has clearly paid off: last month,

Universal Pictures released the big-budget film Born on the Fourth of July, which tells the story of Kovic’s tireless fight for the rights of Vietnam veterans. And Universal is not the only movie company with a story about Kovic. According to independent Chicago-based film-maker Loretta Smith, there are many sides to Kovic. As well, there is another movie, already completed, which Smith had intended to release early this year. When executives at Universal heard about Smith’s project, they offered her $50,000 and asked her to delay releasing her low-budget documentary—which shies away from melodrama and instead focuses on Kovic’s day-to-day life— until next September. Smith said that she was happy with those terms. And she acknowledged that the deal will allow her to distribute her film more widely. Said Smith: “I am looking at it as a positive thing. And I would rather not speculate on Universal’s motives.” Getting the whole story can take time.


Finance Minister Michael Wilson announced last month that he would lower his proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) by two percentage points to seven per cent. But for the Chamber of Commerce in Thompson, Man., 650 km north of Winnipeg, that concession was inadequate. Last month, outgoing chamber president Loretta Clarke formally requested Wilson declare Thompson a GST-free zone. Clarke cited the high cost of goods and services in the remote area. Although Wilson's spokesman John Fieldhouse told Maclean's that the town's chances of avoiding the tax are slim, he conceded that the concept of a geographical exemption was clever. Added Fieldhouse: "Maybe I could have my apartment declared a GST-free zone."



It is routinely paired with the word “crisis. " But according to Florida social scientist Gilbert Brim, mid-life is actually the happiest stage in many people's lives. Last month, Brim received $11.6 million from the MacArthur Foundation, a Chicago-based, liberal-leaning research funding organization, to find out more about what he calls society's “late bloomers."MacArthur president Adele Simmons appeared impressed with Brim's determination. Added Simmons: “This is one of the last uncharted territories in human development. " Getting older can mean getting better.


When it showed at Toronto’s Festival of Festivals last September, the movie Roger and Me, a black comedy about the devastation generated in Flint, Mich., when several General Motors Corp. plants there began to close in 1986, was an instant hit.

Indeed, Toronto audiences voted the film the festival’s best entry. Partly because of that success,

Roger's producer, Michael Moore, almost immediately struck a multimillion-dollar deal with Warner Bros, to distribute the offbeat documentary in theatres across North America. But as the movie opened in Toronto last month, audiences there had reason to be less sympathetic to its message I than they were last ? fall. The reason: GM Ï announced on Oct. s 12 that it plans to transfer its van production—which employs 2,700 people in Scarborough, Ont., just east of Toronto—to Flint, Michigan.