Michael Chesney is the publisher of Comment Canada Magazine, which has it's international headquarters at 330 Baker Street in Nelson, BC.
Unlike most publications which are financed by a plethora of commercial advertisements, Comment Canada is totally ad-free.
There are no hired journalists; all content is harvested from hundreds of independent writer/contributors from around the globe. Comment Magazine seeks "everyday writers" to submit articles instead of professional journalists.
Go to their Facebook page to submit articles and ideas. Your comments are always welcome. Each article has a 150 word limit.
The 2013 summer issue of Comment Canada, entitled "Festival" will be hitting the streets no later than July 10.
Read previous issues here.
In this video Michael talks about his background and vision for Comment Canada Magazine.
From Rock-A-Bye Baby to Be-Bop-A-Lula, I grew up thinking music is a wonderful thing. Unlike eating, sleeping, talking or sex, there’s no obvious use for music, yet it pervades our lives right from when we are born. Those early mother/baby musical treasures are well buried in the fleeting foundation of our adulthood. Before and after birth, mothers transmit soft tones, moods, fostering exclusive bonds between us, exchanging information about our essential needs. This canny acoustical intelligence is embedded in our very survival as a species. It reaches deep into the human psyche and fortifies our communal bonds within society.
Growing up with music:
Like living cornerstones, lullabies are valued songs of comfort when our babies awake in darkness. Later, we celebrate our milestones of childhood, singing about animals while learning to empathize with their differences, facilitating pro-social skills- well before we met our first schoolteacher. As kids, our repertoires increase with catchy Sesame Street sing-a-longs, classic sound tracks from movies and TV, while we follow our favourite pop stars and bands in fads of the day. Music is part of a broader education of our emotions, inspiring and stamping within us, the unique identity of our times.
Weddings, funerals, religious services, dances, sporting events and entertainment, are all enhanced with music. Music is about community; about fun and caring; passions of love; delights of joy- all the tragedies and darkness of life. Music connects people of all walks, all ages, in times of war, in times of calm. Together, we grow up becoming self-assured- knowing friends and peers shared the same music–reflecting who we are. Music is a best friend.
The music industry itself is woven into the fabric of society- from the earworms in the jingles of modern advertising to piped music, “Muzak”- heard in department stores, restaurants, hotels and phones- music produced to persuade us or relax. In WW2 until 1967, BBC radio’s programme “Music While You Work” helped factory workers become more productive.
On the bravado front, during the World Wars, music was used to strengthen the morale of British civilians and, since then, accompanies most political protests and marches. Musicians play flanking marching armies in theatres of combat to inspire or embolden combatants, with bagpipes or military marches, to distract them from their impending doom. Sports teams, like the New Zealand rugby team, perform a fierce Maori chant before each game.
Music aimed to annihilate:
After 9 -11, in 2003, music was used as a tool of torture. Based in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and Abu Ghraib prison, the US Military played music as a shock weapon of war. They kept “detainees” awake by blasting ear-splittingly loud music at them for up to 72 hours of continuous deafening sound, weeks or even months on end. Prisoners were dressed in orange jump suits, hooded, with arms shackled to legs, shackled to the floor, sometimes in cells smaller than dog kennels. Their nefarious mission was to annihilate the enemy using sound.
Ironically, the loud music was stopped after 2 weeks because of its profound negative affect on the guards. Instead, the captors put headphones on the prisoners, who were strapped to chairs.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, US military commander in Iraq, who approved the music for use on captured prisoners (the US Government did not consider it torture then) combined it with other measures “to create fear and disorient…and prolong capture shock”- according to the Senate Armed Services Committee investigating torture and abuse of prisoners in US custody. The loud cynical acoustical bombardment was often coupled by stripping detainees of their clothing, placing them, hooded, in stress positions, disrupting sleep patterns, treating them like animals, subjecting them to flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures.
Guantánamo prisoner Ruhal Ahmed explained how psychological torture was worse than the physical torture he endured in Morocco, where the CIA’s proxy torturers regularly cut his penis with a razorblade. The music was a relentless, inescapable noise. "On many occasions," Ahmed said, "I can bear being beaten up, it's not a problem. Once you accept that you're going to go into the interrogation room and be beaten up, it's fine. You can prepare yourself mentally. But when you're being psychologically tortured, you can't”. When music was introduced "It makes you feel like you are going mad. You lose the plot and it's very scary to think that you might go crazy because of all the music…. after a while you become sensitive (or aversive) to sounds- you don't hear the lyrics at all, all you hear is heavy banging."
Donald Vance (an American Navy veteran held in detention for 97 days at Camp Cropper in Baghdad, said, “Along with sleep and water deprivation, food manipulation, the incessant music torture has lasting effects- when your mind won’t come back to sanity”. It goes to core of what torture is about. The nervous system picks up all sounds in a flight or fight freeze- you feel totally paralyzed with no way to defend against it, becoming overwhelmed, and creating sensory overload. You will do anything it takes- even to making up confessions- to get rid of the psychic pain.
US military sergeant, Mark Hadsell, stated: “If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken. That’s when we come in and talk to them.” Psychologically, Suzanne G. Cusick, professor of music at New York University, said: "Sound at a certain level breaks down subjectivity and can [bring about] a regression to infantile behavior".
President Obama ended music torture in 2008. His spokesman said music is no longer used as an instrument of torture. "The president banned the use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' issuing an executive order that established that interrogations must be consistent with the techniques in the Army Field Manual and the Geneva Conventions."
In the history of humankind, music is a force for good. Here, it was a veritable axis of evil, a black hole of madness- a total betrayal and destruction of trust in fellow human beings- a complete reverse of our first human bond. Music- where we learn about the sunny side, delights and surprises of life, experience life’s rainbows and clouds of disappointment- in five short years, has once and for all, lost its innocence.
Glyn Humphries retired from educational roles as a regular, special needs teacher, counsellor and administrator, after trying to foster young minds through art, drama, writing in the UK and Alberta, NWT and BC. Now he develops his mind's eye through art, photography, gardening, reading and writing. He has been a long-time soccer coach and player, advocate for local health care and people with special needs, an engineer, and was a member of a production team on local politics on Kootenay Coop Radio. He volunteers helping seniors. Glyn lives near Mountain Station, Nelson BC. Follow Glyn on Twitter.