Wednesday Night #1434 – Sam Totah's version

More on Wednesday-Night.com ; Bercovitz marks 85th in style

This Wednesday Night, we plan to celebrate Herb’s milestone 85th birthday and achievements – not least of which, his years of devoted service as Official Scribe of Wednesday Night.
For those who want to know, the actual birth date is 25 August, an eventful day in history:
1346 – The battle of Crécy
Exactly 400 years ago: 1609 – Galileo Galilei demonstrated his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers – and now we have the Hubble .
1814 – Washington, D.C. burned and White House destroyed by British forces during the War of 1812.
1944 – Paris is liberated by the Allies. (Remember that wonderful book/film “Is Paris Burning?”)
… and a birth date that Herb shares with such notables as Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria (who built all those wonderful castles), Sean Connery, Walt Kelly (creator of “Pogo”) , Leonard Bernstein, Frederick Forsyth (“Day of the Jackal”) and CONRAD BLACK

Herb of course, did not receive this message.
One might believe that there were two parallel evenings on Wednesday, 26 August.
One faithful record by our OWN Scribe, the ever-modest Herb Bercovitz makes no mention of the focus of the evening – a celebration of his 85th birthday. No mention of Ron Meisels’ witty and amusing tribute to Herb, nor of the presence Herb’s family, of a number of loyal long-time friends of WN (including all-too-rare sightings of Margo Somerville and Nobby Gilmore), or of messages from others, wishing him well and poking gentle fun.  The other appears below, appropriately written by Sam Totah, who started the tradition of recording the Wednesday Night discussion – back in the days before we had e-mail and Internet – and thus created the role of Official Scribe that Herb has filled so ably for so long; it captures the warmth and affection of the tribute paid to Herb by the Wednesday Night family.

Dear Herb:
It was one of those special Wednesday nights in honor of your birthday and I truly enjoyed it. Many things have been said about you –but one word summarizes it all — you lived your life as a “mensch” and I am sure you will continue that way. For outsiders who were absent from the memorable evening I can assure you that an accountant will be very unhappy to make a balance sheet of your past record since only the side of your “assets” was talked about with no “liability”. Interesting.
As for me, the artist you are, I could not have pleased my ego in a better way than to present to you a small token of my appreciation in a photo painting of yourself, i.e. the smiling Herb with the emblem photo of his weekly wanderings in the small mansion of Westmount for his Wednesday Nights scriptures.
Back to the Wednesday Night of August 26, 2009 — evening number 1434; let me go over some of the discussion points (you are free to include or exclude them from your own formal report!)
1. August 26, 2009 will remain a memorable day –because the last scion of the Kennedy family passed away “Ted”. I wish the Americans will always remember that they need to get people of that political vision elected so they remain true to their ideals.
2. Back to Canada and its political climate … ça laisse à désirer. I have heard that Harper is trying to change the meaning of “the diplomatic vocabulary” so that our own diplomats would be kept on line or better said “on leash”. That was news to me, and like many other initiatives taken by the current government it is not exactly what I expect from a true leader.
3. The Khadr affair. As it has been strongly expressed by those present — you are a Canadian citizen or you are not! There are no “various degrees” of Canadian citizenship. Most of us fail to see what exactly is the issue when a bonafide “born in Canada” individual has difficulty with the law and it is expected that his own government will deal with his case accordingly. That is exactly what is NOT happening and we can only blame “our immigration laws” for the source of the problem and maybe its possible solution.
4. The market and more precisely the stock market. Good news on the horizon but hold your breath – the unemployment figures and consumption (consumerism) do not yet reflect that optimism. Asiatic countries are doing better and may be we should look overseas to get us out of the current slump.
5. The Lockerbie affair. While still on the debate of current world issues a question from the floor did not surprise us all –do you agree or disagree with freeing of the prisoner-for-life that was instrumental in the killing of some 300 people. The reactions of those present reflected the make up of the group, i.e. according to western ideology “a life sentence is a life sentence which means that individual has to die in the prison cell”. That of course differs from the political and social reality of our times and the fact that some western countries would prefer to maintain “cordial and businesslike relationships with Libya and specially with the strong man of Libya -Khadafi [Update: According to at least one newly published report, Mr. Khadafi bears direct responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing] – therefore some flexibility in “prison for life” term means that yes, on a humanitarian basis the prisoner could be returned to his home country to die! Case closed, since there is little we can do about it.
6. China and its forthcoming “church” goers syndrome.
There was little discussion on the subject since China itself is going through so many social and economic changes that an additional new or revised religion doctrine is no surprise to most of us. The question of degree and quo vadis China is the real issue.
7. There were some very scientific and valid arguments on the issues of fuel consumption and which one is best for future generations and to save the planet…It was hard not to agree on the presentation made by Mr. Lightfoot –one issue we could all agree on, i.e. if change is yet to come it will be within the next century.
That is why most of us can go back to sleep not forgetting the motto “plus ça change plus c’est la même chose” for the time being.
The evening ended with an excellent “partition” of the cake made by Louise Des Trois Maisons – while the recipe remains secret, the taste does not.
Thanks for the wonderful opportunity given to us by Herb B. birthday commemoration in the presence of his close entourage — wife Miriam + daughter Carol + son-in-law Gary, who all promised to come back again for these Wednesday nights soirées.
Last but not least — to my good friend Herb — I really enjoyed last night because it added spice to the evening, I felt more relaxed and in the company of friends and family to honour one of their regulars; and while David and Diana try very hard to get the intellect in full motion during these soirées — they always end up with the attendees being more and more friendly with each other and specially in the long run all end up being called “the family of the wednesday nighters”. Voilà.
Happy Birthday, Herb B. and do make a special effort to reach 120 and good luck on the way!
Sam Totah
Montreal, Que. Canada
August 26, 2009

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