Sunday, December 26, 1993

CAPPUCINO FAMILY CHRISTMAS

CAPPUCINO FAMILY CHRISTMAS


Family which has adopted 21 children, some handicapped or mixed race from third world countries from around the world - My Christmas story for 1993. I encourage people to contribute to the Cappucinos at the address given.


copyright 1999 Mark Bellis Maxville, Dec 26, 1993 - A 26 pound turkey slides out of an oven in a country kitchen in Eastern Ontario. "Most of us are ethical vegetarians" says the mother, as she stirs a frying pan the size of a manhole cover full of tofu. Even so, less than thirty minutes after the bird hits the table, nothing is left of it but a drumstick being gnawed on by a two year old grandchild that everyone has nick-named "G'Day".
It may be the largest family Christmas dinner in Canada. "We've got fifteen or so of our own kids here so far, and their families - I could be wrong - more are coming in." says the father, Fred Cappuccino, 67, as a throng of about thirty children and adults of all races mill around the two rooms in the log cabin. It could be a cook-out at the UN. Hands of every colour pass plates rapidly to and fro, carrying Indian hot curries and Korean pickled eggplant along with the stuffing and cranberry sauce. A young woman from Hong Kong asks her brother from southern India to put on more coffee. Vera, a Viennese-born friend of the Cappuccinos hands out latkes, potato pancakes, and cuts up a heart-shaped cake as the kettle comes to a boil on one of the three stoves, two of them wood-burning, in the house. "We cut our own wood - we've got a 50 acre wood-lot" says Shan Cappuccino, 25, who drove in from Ottawa. Only two children still live at home. Bonnie Cappuccino, 57, stir fries vegetables on the stove. Born in Illinois, she is wearing a Sari, large brass bangles on each arm that clang like gongs as she stir fries the vegetables, and 20 or so Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and African amulets and medals. The left side of her mouth is supported by a brace. "I had a brain tumor - it just left this side paralyzed - it was on the facial nerve - it wasn't cancer." she says in a tone that says it was no big deal to her. It was removed a little over a year ago. Did it slow her down? "It took a while to recuperate. After about six months I was resuming my trips over to India."
The Cappuccinos have set up three homes for children in India and one in Nepal. "She felt unfulfilled as a mother after raising 21 kids." jokes her husband Fred, who, along with all of their kids, share an oddball sense of humor.
Fred and Bonnie's unorthodox family started after the birth of their first son, which they named Robin Hood. Both of them were inspired by the ideas of Gandhi. "We believed in zero population growth," says Fred, who still works part-time as a Unitarian minister in Beaconsfield, Quebec and in Ottawa. "I wrote to Japan, where I worked after the war as a missionary to ask for a mixed-race orphan - I felt that a lot of the children that were fathered by American GIs, particularly when they were black, would have a hard time integrating into Japanese society." By the time the Cappuccinos had left Chicago for Fred to become pastor at a church in Pointe-Claire, a suburb of Montreal, in 1967, they had given birth to another child and adopted five more from across the world.
Did Robin mind sharing a home with all these children? "I think it was much more fun - it was much more people to be with." he says.
The Cappuccinos inspired other people. "Sandra Simpson lived around the corner from us in Pointe-Claire - when she heard that we were adopting more kids she wanted to get in on it." The Simpsons went on to become known to millions as 'the largest family in Canada' from their TV commercials for a pain reliever and now operate a restaurant near Toronto. Another neighbour who wanted to get in on the act was Naomi Bronstein, who now runs relief missions in Cambodia, Viet Nam and Guatemala. She recently brought two babies that were found abandoned in a trash can in Pnohm Penh back to Canada for medical treatment. All of the families now run their own separate charitable organizations. The Cappuccinos call theirs 'Child Haven International' and run it from an office in their Maxville home. The office was built thanks to a donation from one of Fred's missionary friend's in Japan, who sent him a donation. "He said 'the money was for you, not for Child Haven'," says Fred, "So we used the money to get the office out of Bonnie's kitchen."
The homes in India and Nepal have about 200 children. Bonnie was in India this year to introduce new technology to make a form of milk from soya beans. The small-scale projects are directed at women to help them start their own businesses. "It's a more palatable form of soy milk." Bonnie says they run the homes because "We enjoy it, I guess. We enjoy the countries, the people, and its a nice feeling to know you're doing a little good." The purpose of the homes for children is "Basically to raise them from whenever they come in, till they're self-sufficient."
Bonnie is Buddhist, and Fred describes himself as "about 38.54 percent" Buddhist. Bonnie says " I believe that people are sacred, rather than believing in an external force, and I think people can help other people,"
Child Haven International's address is R.R. 1, Maxville, Ontario, K0C 1T0, CANADA

Thursday, August 26, 1993

U-BOAT U534 FIRST OFFICER TALKS


U-BOAT U534 FIRST OFFICER TALKS




I thought it was interesting that even though he was born in Germany, Brinkmann did not think of himself as German but as a Danziger and was very proud of the Baltic city-state's independence.

copyright 1999, 2009 Mark Bellis

WATERLOO, Aug 26, 1993 - A former German officer of a sunken World War II U-Boat rumored to be loaded with gold, art treasures or even escaping Nazi officials says that his boat was on no other mission than to surrender when it was sunk in the last days of the war.
"I don't think any U-boat would have taken a Nazi aboard at that time," says William Brinkmann, 82,who was first officer on board the U-534, which was raised from the bottom of the sea near Sweden by a Dutch salvage company this week. "The Nazis were never that popular among people in the navy."
Brinkmann, who now lives in retirement in Waterloo, was on shore when his boat was sunk by a British bomber in the Kattegat sea, between Sweden and Denmark, on May 5, 1945, a day before the war ended, but spoke to all surviving members of his crew a few weeks after the sinking. "Admiral Donitz (who assumed control of Germany after Hitler commited suicide) wanted to keep the harbors in Germany open - there were millions of refugees fleeing Eastern Europe by boat and some of the Navy comanders had scuttled (deliberately sunk) their ships in German harbors, against his orders - he ordered U-534 out to sea to Oslo, to surrender."
After showing pictures of the boat being attacked from the air while on the surface of the water, taken by the British plane that sunk the U-534 with depth charges, he describes the submarine's last moments. "The U-534 had been fitted with a schnorkel - a device that allowed us to run our diesel motors under the water and remain submerged for a long time - we spent 26 days underwater on our last trip back from Bordeaux (in France) to Germany - but the Kattegat sea was too shallow to go underwater - the boat was hit in the rear torpedo room by a depth charge - three men were killed by the explosion, and one was drowned escaping but everyone else managed to get out before it sank through the two loupes (conning towers) except for six men in the forward torpedo compartment - they were stuck inside but the compartment was sealed, so, you know, when the boat sinks, you have to wait until everything gets quiet, you settle to the bottom, and they got out through the escape hatches in rescue suits with oxygen bottles." The U-Boat had a crew of 52.
Brinkmann doubts that there was anything of value on board his boat. "We were a fighting ship -there really was no room for anything else on board." but remembers that he left a set of drinking glasses on board. "They were special - they were given me by my father, who was a Freemason -when Hitler took power in 33 the Freemasons were banned [and some members were sent to concentration camps] and my father said to me 'here, you better take these'" and gave him a set of glasses with the Freemasons insignia of a compass and a ruler on them. "I saw that they were quite solid so I decided to take them to sea - they should still be hanging up in the officers' quarters!" Brinkmann said he was not worried about having glasses with the outlawed Freemason's insignia on them. "There was a special sort of Kameradeschaft (spirit of friendship) on board the U-boats, everyone ate together, slept together, used the same toilet - everyone was extremely close." Brinkmann still remains in touch with all surviving crew members of his boat.
Salvagers announced yesterday that they had found 100 bottles of wine and 144 condoms on the boat. Brinkmann thinks he knows the reason why. "Alcohol was never allowed on a U-Boat, and we had hardly heard of condoms in my time - there was also some schnapps - I think that the crew had figured out that they were going to surrender in Oslo and wanted to have one last good time! I'm thinking of asking the salvage for some of that wine!"
Brinkmann dislikes talking about the U-534 battle record "I wouldn't like to talk about it - we did some damage." but remembers the fear he felt as the boat dived to 160 metres to avoid allied destroyers and planes depth-charging them. "I still get nervous thinking about it. We were very far down and the vents would start to crumple under the pressure and leak." Brinkman received the Iron Cross, first class, in 1944 for his service onboard.
Brinkmann was born in Hesse, Germany but lived in Danzig Free State before the war, now the cityof Gdansk in Poland. "We were a free city for 200 years - we only became part of Germany in 1939 after Hitler had invaded us. We knew what was going on in Germany before the war because we got the papers from Berlin and Sweden." Speaking of life under the Nazis he said " We knew that there was something wrong, but it was a total dictatorship. You were a dead man if you said anything against them."
Brinkmann spoke of the one U-boat he knows of that was carrying special cargo "Near the end of the war, the U-234 was sent to Japan carrying new military technology, periscopes and some A-bomb parts, but it was captured in mid-Atlantic by the Americans. There were two Japanese colonels on board, but they committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner."
When the U-534 was sunk, Brinkmann was in Flensburg, Germany, training to become a U-Boat captain. "If the war had continued, I'd have gotten my own boat - good thing it didn't!" Admiral Donitz,who had been commander of the U-Boat service was also there, and on May the Sixth, Brinkmann witnessed Donitz leaving the Sportshalle in Flensburg with other German officer under British guard after he had signed Germany's unconditional surrender to the Allies, marking the end of World War II.
The U-Boat service had the highest casualty rate of all German wartime forces - 72.8% of their crews did not survive the war.

Addendum 2013 - I notice that the website for the exhibit of the U-534 in England claim that the Captain of the U-534 refused Donitz's order to surrender - Donitz had not ordered the surrender of U-boats on May 4, just that they stop all "hostile actions" and he ordered them to go to their bases in Norway. 
  •  From a decrypted message found on U-889
    1614/4 May.  To be decyphered by officer only (time of receipt not recorded):
    "Following order of the Grand Admiral has been issued.  To all U-boats, including East Asian and FEHLER:  Suspend forthwith offensive action.  Begin return journey unseen.  Observe absolute security.  Order may not be divulged for the present."
    Urgent addendum by F.D.U. West:
    "On return avoid any possibility of attack by hunt groups, etc.  Enter Norwegian U-boat base."
 The U-534 only fired its anti-aircraft guns in self-defence against attacking RAF planes. Donitz only gave orders for the U-boats to surface and surrender on May 10. 
The U-534 seemed to have following Donitz's orders when it was sunk en route to the base in Oslo - there is no report of the captain being arrested by the Germans after they were rescued, which should have happened if he had disobeyed orders. Also, it was sailing in a convoy of four U-boats - that would mean that four captains decided to disobey orders,but none of them were charged - the captain of the U-534 was rescued by the German warship that was guarding the channel and let the convoy go by and the three surviving U-boats sailed to Norway which was still under German occupation.
Brinkmann said that he'd spoken to all surviving crew members, including the captain, and never said to me they had disobeyed any orders from Donitz or had decided to sail to Norway or anywhere else on their own initiative. As Brinkmann said to the CBC:" It was just a normal command to bring the boat from the German port of Kiel to Oslo, in Norway.''SUNKEN GERMAN SUB DIDN'T HAVE VALUABLES ON BOARD: OFFICER

Nor is there any record of Donitz making any comment that the four boats disobeyed orders, even though he lived until 1980, wrote his memoirs, and answered questions from correspondents about the war. 
I'd asked about the boat sailing to Japan - Brinkmann said it did have the operational range to get to Japan, but he said it was not going there, and then told me about the U-234.
There has been the idea raised that the U-534 was going to sail to Japan and give them the torpedoes which were of an updated design that had never been used in combat, but the torpedoes were derived from a design the Japanese already had, and the photos of documents salvaged from the boat only show charts for Northwestern Europe and nothing for Africa or Asia, which would have been needed to get to Japan.
I should also say that Brinkmann said that he was a personal friend of one of Donitz's sons, and did not think it was fair that Donitz was imprisoned for 10 years after the war by the allies for his actions.

Thursday, July 29, 1993

SMELLIEST SOCKS IN THE WORLD

SMELLIEST SOCKS IN THE WORLD

The socks didn't smell like unwashed feet - it was closest to the smell of a lynx, which doesn't help very much if you haven't been near a lynx that's marked its territory, and a lynx has a very big territory, so it was like the scent that a male cat sprays, only much stronger. I don't know where Dave is now, so I can't help anyone who wants to get in touch.

copyright 1999 Mark Bellis
GUELPH, JULY 29 (1993) - Pheww!! A Guelph man has won the World's Smelliest Socks Contest by having socks so smelly not even a dog will go near them. "I had a dog at home, one sniff and he'd run under the bed. My in-laws have a cottage near North Bay. When I take off my socks, they'd rather go out and face the blackflies." says Dave Hargrave, 47, of Guelph, who won "The World's Smelliest Socks Contest" in New York yesterday.

"He'd used to sit around with his feet out so I just couldn't stand it" says his wife Linda, who has to do his laundry."I saw an ad in a tabloid for the World's Smelliest Socks contest, I said to him 'Dave,you're a shoe-in for it!'. So I picked out the stinkiest one, put it in a ziploc bag, and mailed it to New York - I had to fill out a customs form - I just put down 'Smelly Sock'!.

"I work making auto parts" says Dave "This was one that I had been wearing in my work boots, but I can wash my feet as long as I want and ten minutes later they still smell."

Dave says that his mother, father, girlfriends and ex-wife have all complained about his foot odour for as long as he can remember. "I had an old doctor that recommended bathing my feet in cucumber rinds and milk to kill the odor. I tried that - it didn't work."

The contest, sponsored by the British Knights shoe company to promote a new canvas sneaker that allows the foot to transpire, and hopefully not smell, received 300 socks from all over North America. Judges included British Knights Executive Vice President Larry Schwartz, Publicist Eric Yaverbaum and his dog Lucy. "We picked Eric 'cause he has the largest nose" says Schwartz. Final entries were sniffed out by Lucy, a Labrador retriever mix, whose response was measured by the degree that she avoided the socks. Dave's size twelve socks did not fail to produce the same duck-for-cover reflex on Lucy that it did on his own dog.

The stinky footgear punted Dave into the rank ranks [I know, I know!] of the top ten finalists, all of who win a three year supply of British Knights canvas outdoor basketball shoes.

In his spare time, Dave prowls the yard sales, helping Linda build her various collections, which include an estimated 10,000 buttons, 1000 fridge magnets, 180 souvenirs spoons, and over 2200 items of pig memoribilia.

"She sure has a pile of pigs" says Dave, "Every time you go into a room in this house, you see a pig." The items include pig slippers, pig lamps, pig hats, pig doorknob covers, pig clothes, and of course, piggy banks, including a very fetching depression-era Porky Pig.

"We always celebrate March 1, National Pig Day." says Linda. "I wanted to get a pet pig but the City of Guelph doesn't allow them." Linda hopes to start a pig fanciers' club. "We're both kinda funny."she says.

-30-
Dave Hargrave shows off his socks and his wife's collection of pig memorabilia, Guelph, 1993

Cure Found?

GUELPH, N0V 19, 1993 - A mysterious green liquid may be the cure to a Guelph man's big problem - his smelly feet!

"They sent him a bottle of blue stuff to try first. They said just to soak your feet in it but he wanted to have a bath too, so he took a shortcut" said his wife, Linda. "He poured the whole bottle into the bath and soaked in it - when he came out he was blue in places he normally wasn't."

"My ass was blue! Every time I bent over you could see it!" says Dave Hargrave, 47

He received bottles of a deodorant concoction called "Dr. Pedirose" (literally 'Dr. Roseyfoot') from Rene Klemme, a Montreal businessman, for him to test on his feet. The blue liquid worked well, but another green liquid worked even better. "It works for up to two and a half months." says Linda.

Dave, a machinist, is more skeptical "On hot days the effect is minimal.Wearing heavy work boots for eight or nine hours take their toll"

Linda interrupts "No, it eliminated the odor completely! I should know, I sit next to him and he takes his shoes off and puts his feet up when gets home from work and watches TV."

Dave had to sign a waiver not to reveal the composition of the liquid, which has a strong odor of wintergreen and camphor. "It's the best thing I've tried, but soaking my feet in cucumber rinds and milk works OK, too." Dave says.

Copyright 1993, 1996 Mark Bellis

Sunday, June 6, 1993

Michael Coren - Frank Anarchy



MICHAEL COREN - FRANK ANARCHY




  • This was done in 1993 for CHAOS magazine, now defunct, published by Raj Dash. I like Mike. He's a nice guy personally. I don't know how much his 'RB gig is a persona - I suggested to him during the interview during the interview he could be a "Rush Limbaugh" style character. (this was way before he started working at CFRB). He joked he would have struck me if he was there in person....


copyright 1999 Mark Bellis Michael Coren is speaking on the phone from the toilet seat of his Toronto home.
"I'm in a bit of a rush - Korean Airlines want to do a documentary about Toronto based around a writer with a family". His two children's voices come from the other room."They're serenading the Lego" he says.
Like a Mig-23 getting stuck into a jumbo jet full of tourists, Coren rips into the politically pretentious in his bi- weekly column in FRANK magazine.
Favorite targets are Bob Rae's NDP  "the former high school teachers who run our province"; Michelle Landsberg, the proudly politically correct Toronto STAR columnist with a somewhat Junoesque figure (she's shaped like one of the moons of Jupiter) "the woman who put the lumpen back into lumpenproletariat". "I didn't think she was real - I thought she was some kind of made up monster". (When told that Landsberg would be contacted for her reaction , he said "I don't think she'll answer you - she's probably too busy eating." ); The police, "these bloated peasants who swagger around our city...ignorant, deltoid-obsessed asexual baboons."; and the Reform Party, whom he depicts as singing the Horst Wessel Leid, the Nazi rally song which goes "When Jewish blood spurts from daggers, everything is great." during their meetings. (Coren is half-Jewish)
Coren is famous (or infamous, depending on the political viewpoint) for writing things like a 'modest proposal' to save lesbians from breast cancer by forming "Anti-Cancer Commandos" whose "sole purpose would be to seduce assorted lesbians, no matter how ugly and hairy they were, and impregnate them. The work would probably be hazardous, probably dirty, and certainly be unpleasant, ... [but] - I am sure a generous grant would be forthcoming" from the provincial government.
"Do you harbour hostile notions towards homosexuals or homosexuality?" I ask.
"Have I ever even written that in Frank? My politics, if I have any, are anarchist - I believe the manner in which one makes love, whether one has an abortion, or not, whether one puts on a seatbelt, are all the same issue. I think what an individual does, in any form, is entirely up to them, and the people that I attack in the column tend to be people that go against that."
Coren says that when he attacks radicals, lesbian, feminist or whatever, he is attacking their hypocrisy in insisting that no-one has the right to interfere in their life, but wanting to regulate what other people think or say. "I don't believe that the Church or state or anybody else has the right to tell anyone whether they should make love. Equally, no radical homosexual is going to tell me what I should be reading or doing. In terms of being against the gay community, it's quite ludicrous - As an Englishman I grew up being formed and educated by gay men - great influence in my life." But "When people dress up as fairies and run down Yonge Street on Gay Pride Day, this has nothing to do with their sexuality. It has to do with the fact that they're profoundly neurotic. Dressing up as Tinkerbell, as one chap I mentioned did, is his neurosis speaking, not his sexuality."
He is not just anti-left. "I'm a contrarion - if I lived in a right-wing society, I'd be left wing - Look at what I say about the police - I hope I'm never in any trouble with them - the left are often much funnier, but it does come up fifty-fifty, the police, the Tory party, the Reform party, the far right, racism, I attack these things over and over again."
Coren is busy. He writes for The Globe, The Star, Book in Canada, and many others, edits The Canadian Catholic Review, published a book on H.G. Wells this year, and will publish two more biographies on C.S. Lewis and Arthur Conan Doyle. He appears frequently on TVO's Imprint. The FRANK columns are being publish in book form under the title "Aesthete: The Frank Diaries of Michael Coren" with one volume that made the best-seller list this year and another due out next year. Coren was made a papal knight last year, although as a pro-choice, pro ordination of women andpro marriage of priests, he is certainly outside the Church's official point-of-view. "I don't think they read my columns." He also got into hot water over a Toronto Life profile he did of Archbishop Ambrozic of Toronto, where he depicted the Archbishop behaving like a bonehead, calling a woman'a bitch', criticising non-white immigration and asking someone to lie for him. "To write a profile of a prominent figure - politician, businessman, religious leader, hockey player - if they use foul language it is reported because it is part of their character. If they shout at their press secretary and tell them to lie for them, 'that's their job', that's what he said, that's to be reported."
"I don't make things up - although sometimes the juxtaposition is erroneous." Like serving muscadet with pork? "Yes. that's an in-joke, like when I said recently I wanted to fly to Geneva to claim the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course it's in Stockholm."
"Oslo. The Nobel Prizes are in Stockholm." I reply.
I then objected to his qualification of Gwen Jacob as "a dowdy exhibitionist." "She's not dowdy - she's really good-looking" I say.
"She's not that good-looking - I saw her on TV - Oh, but I think the term 'Dowdy Exhibitionist' is rather lovely - her breasts weren't that appealing - they were rather floppy"
"I didn't pay any attention. That's just her T-shirt actually" I say.
Michelle Landsberg "No longer reads Michael Coren" according to her assistant.
Copyright 1993, 1996, 2009 Mark Bellis