Monday, January 30, 2023

Keeping up with Gino Vannelli

[For your love]
[For your love]
When I think about those nights in Montreal
I get the sweetest thoughts of you and me
Memories of love above the city lights . . .

That mane of thick, black, curly hair!  Those rich vocals!  I wonder if Gino Vannelli still thinks about those nights in Montreal?  Do you remember the lyrics to his smash hit "I Just Wanna to Stop?"  The song was released as a single in August of 1978 and it remains Gino's biggest hit to date, his signature song.

"I Just Wanna Stop" climbed to Number 1 on the charts in his native Canada and reached Number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.  Gino produced the recording, along with his older brother Joe Vannelli,  and his younger brother Ross Vannelli.  The song was composed by Ross and earned Gino a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Performance.

Gino Vannelli was born on June 16, 1952 in Montreal, Quebec to a family of Italian background .His father, (Joseph) Russ Vannelli, was a cabaret singer who performed with Montreal dance bands.  Gino originally had dreams of becoming a drummer.  His idols were Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.  As a high school student, he became the drummer for The Cobras, an East-End Montreal band.  

In 1969, before his 17th birthday, Gino signed his first recording contract with RCA Records of Canada, using the pseudonym "Van-Elli."   He released a single entitled "Gina Bold."  Determined to make his mark in the music industry, Gino lived on and off in New York City, knocking on the doors of record companies and publishers.

In 1972, Gino and Joe headed for Los Angeles.  The brothers were desperate and broke.  They made one last stop at  the studios of A&M Records in Hollywood, before having to head back to Montreal.  The brothers waited patiently for Herb Alpert, co-owner of A&M to emerge from the building.  Gino handed Alpert a demo tape before being chased away by a security guard.  A&M signed a record deal with Gino, and released his debut album, Crazy Life, in the summer of 1973.  

It was not until 1974 that Gino had his first hit, "People Gotta Move." for A&M.  In 1974, Gino became one of the first Caucasians to appear on the television dance program Soul Train.  He was invited to tour with Stevie Wonder.

Gino Vannelli reached the height of his creative and commercial success in the 1970s.  In 1975, he  began touring in Canada and the United States.  In 1978, he moved to Los Angeles.  After his 1979 tour, he kept a low profile until 1990.  After the success of "I Just Wanna Stop," Gino signed with Arista Records,, headed by legendary record producer Clive Davis.  Gino's next album, Nightwalker, contained his second top-10 hit, "Living Inside Myself," which was released as a single in 1981.  However, executives at Arista were not pleased with the singer's plan to release an edgier album.  A year-long conflict followed, a time in which Gino felt blacklisted from recording.  During that time, he immersed him self in the study of philosophy, world religions and poetry.

Although Gino's 1985 singles "Black Cars" and "Hurts to Be in Love," as well as 1987's "Wild Horses," were well-received, Gino made a few appearances during the 1980s, after his 1979 LIVE "Brother to Brother' World Tour.  Gino never again sold as many recordings, but his artistic zig zags various musical genres, including jazz, blues and classical, gained him many fans around the world.  

Gino's music was enjoyed by Pope John Paul II.  In the year 2000, he was commissioned by the Vatican to perform "Parole Per Mio Padre" (A Word to My Father) for the pope. (The song was written as a tribute to Gino's deceased father). 

The papal event was televised in Europe and was noticed by the head of BMG Records, who requested that Gino  record a contemporary classical recording in a similar style to "Parole Per Mio Padre."  In 2003,  BMG released Canto, which, a multilingual disc -English, Italian. Spanish and French - which many fans, and Gino himself, regard as one of his most treasured musical achievements.

In 2013, Gino headlined two concerts at the Rialto Theatre in Montreal.  At that time, he told Pop Tart   that it felt good to be be back home.  "It's nice to visit Mount Royal again, and it's nice to see my mom," he said at the time.

Gino's album Wilderness Road was released by an independent label in 2019.  It was his first studio album of original material in over a decade.

At the age of 70,  Gino Vannelli may not be in the spotlight, but he continues to record and perform. H He toured in 2022 and, according to his official website, he will be performing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 1st, 2023 and Clearwater, Florida on March 3rd.  Gino has a following around the world.  He is an accomplished musician and songwriter.

“I grew up in a more singer-songwriter generation. People want instant success today. They are fed that kind of diet. There’s a little less substance and a lot more bling. But I’m not a cynic. Every decade has its strong points and its weak points. The strong points today are people know how to present themselves, they’re more accomplished, more precocious. You see a lot of younger singers who are better singers than there used to be 30 years ago. The weaker side of it is they’re not as well-rounded and don’t understand the humanities as well. They’re not interior-oriented like [performers] were in the 1960s and 70s, like [Bob] Dylan.”

- Gino Vannelli, Montreal Gazette, 2013


* Gino Vannelli studied music theory at Montreal's McGill University,

* Gino has received seven Juno Awards (to honour Canadian artists for their achievements in all aspects of music).  He won for Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year (1975) and Male Vocalist of the Year (1976, 1979).  In 1979, Gino and his brother, Joe, shared a Juno for Best Production for the1978 album Brother to Brother, which included "I Just Wanna Stop."  In 1986, 1987 and 1991, Gino and Joe also won Junos for Best Production.

* Gino is married.  He and his wife, Patricia, wed in the 1980s and had a son named Anton.  The couple first met in Portland, Oregon.  According to The Oregonian, Gino arrived in Portland to perform as the opening act at a concert, in the early 1970s.  The show was cancelled due to a lack of ticket sales, so Gino had some time to walk around the city and met Patricia, who was working in a jewellery store.

When the couple tired of Los Angeles, Patricia's Northwest Pacific Roots led to them to move to Oregon in 1992.  They resided in Portland's Mount Tabor neighbourhood  four eight years before settling in the Columbia River Gorge, near Troutdale, Oregon, where. Gino teaches music in his studio.  Troutdale has a population of about 16,000 people and Gino avoids the spotlight there.  He enjoys relative anonymity and seldom performs in the city, choosing to have his concerts elsewhere.

* Gino's mother, Delia Vannelli, died of COVID-19 in 2020.  She passed away in a Montreal nursing home just shy of her 93rd birthday.  Gino and his brothers could not see their mother in her final days due to the pandemic.

* Gino's published an autobiographical book is called Stardust in the Sand.  He spent a few years in the Netherlands seeking new inspiration for his music before returning to Oregon.  While away, he assembled a band of local musicians.  The result was a recording entitled The Best and Beyond  Released in 2009, the album features new interpretations of Gino's most well-known songs.  The linear notes from that album eventually became Stardust in the Sand.

SOURCES: Montreal Gazette, "All Those Nights in Montreal with Gino Vannelli," by News Desk, November 1, 2013; The Oregonian (,), "Gino Vannelli avoids spotlight in Oregon where he lives, but draws crowds elsewhere," by Eric Apalate, August 28, 2013; Gino Vannelli Official Website; iHeart Radio. "Canadian singer Gino Vannelli Loses Mother to COVID-19,:" by John R. Kennedy, May 8, 2020, Wikipedia.

- Joanne

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Dr. Ewan Cameron and the banality of evil

Look at the face in the photo above.  That could be your uncle or your next-door-neighbour, but it's the face of a man who performed Nazi-like experiments right here in Canada.  To be honest, I knew very little about Dr. Ewan Cameron until recently.  I vaguely remembered having heard about him many years ago.  

Earlier this month, however, I was reminded of the infamous psychiatrist when I read Louise Penny's novel, The Madness of Crowds.  Cameron and his experiments figure prominently in the novel.

Donald Ewan Cameron was born in Bridge of Allan, Scotland on December 24, 1901, the eldest son of of a Presbyterian minister.  As the son of a clergyman, he was certainly not raised to treat human beings as guinea pigs.  Cameron is an example of the "banality of evil," a term coined by author and Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt.  In her 1961 report for The New Yorker on Nazi operative Adolf Eichmann's war crimes trial, Arendt wrestled with the philosophical question of whether one can do evil without being evil.  

Eichmann was responsible for organizing the transportations of millions of Jews and others to concentration camps in support of Hitler's Final Solution.  Yet, Arendt considered Eichmann to be a rather bland and ordinary bureaucrat, not an amoral monster.  She described him as being "neither perverted nor sadistic," but "terrifyingly normal."  He only wished to boost his career in the Nazi bureaucracy,  He claimed that he was just "following orders."

In her 1963 study of the case, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report o the Banality of Evil,  Arendt stated her belief that Eichmann performed evil deeds without evil intentions.  She found that he was detached from the reality of his evil actions.  She concluded that he was not able to "think from the standpoint of anybody else."  It seems the same can be said of Dr. Ewan Cameron.

Dr. Cameron attended the University of Glasgow, where he was a fine scholar and athlete.  He received a Degree in Medicine in 1924 and a Diploma of Psychological Medicine in 1925.  That same year, he begam his training in psychiatry at the Glasgow Royal Mental Hospital.  

In 1926, Dr. Cameron left Scotland and immigrated to the United States, where he continued his training at the Phipps Clinic at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore under the auspices of Swiss-born U.S. psychiatrist Adolf Mayer.  After leaving Baltimore in 1928, Cameron moved to Switzerland to work at the world-renowned Burgh√∂lzlim, the psychiatric hospital of the University of Zurich.  There he became acquainted with the Dean of Manitoba's School of Medicine, Dr. A.T. Mathers, also the Chief Psychiatrist for the province,  Dr. Mathers persuaded him to come to Canada and become head of the Brandon Mental Hospital's Adamson's Unit, where he took charge of "admitting."

In 1933, Ewan Cameron married Jean C. Rankine, whom had met while they were students at the University of Glasgow.  Rankine had captained the Scottish the woman's field hockey team and she was a  skilled tennis player.

Dr. Cameron left Brandon in 1936.  He moved to Massachusetts, where he worked at Worcester State Hospital.  For the year ending November 30, 1937, Cameron is listed in the hospital's annual report as "Resident Director of Research, continues engaging in insulin coma research, and publishes a paper: Electrical brain waves in schizophrenics during insulin treatments."

By 1943, Dr. Cameron was a well-known psychiatrist.  He was invited to McGill Montreal by celebrated Canadian neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield.  Penfield asked Cameron to be the first director of the new Allan Memorial Institute, a psychiatric teaching hospital, located on the slope of Mount Royal, on the McGill University downtown campus.  It was named in honour of Sir Hugh Allan, a Scottish-Canadian shipping magnate and financier, whose former mansion was situated on the site.         

According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, psychiatric experiments were conducted at the Allan Institute between 1957 and 1964 (possibly as early as 1948).  It was Dr. Cameron who orchestrated these experiments. which were partially funded by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as part of their top-secret MKULTRA program through a front organization named "The Society for the Investigation of Hunan Ecology."

The CIA wasn't the only organization providing funding Dr. Cameron's experiments.  Tragically, the Canadian government was also complicit in his atrocities.  From 1950 to about 1965, Cameron is also believed to have received a million dollars in funding from the federal government.  

The Cameron lab would have proceeded with its experiments with or without the CIA's financial support, according to Alfred W. McCoy, an American historian and educator, who stated that "Ewen Cameron did not need the CIA to corrupt him.  He clearly had his mind set on doing unorthodox research long before the the Agency front started to front him.  In Cameron, the CIA had a psychiatrist, conveniently outside the United States, who was willing to do terminal experiments in electroshock, sensory deprivation and then trying to program in new behavior.  Cameron carried the process known as "brainwashing" to its logical extreme." 

Cameron's purpose was to de-pattern the brain into practically an infantile state, before rep-patterning it to learn the proper reposes to situations.  In this infantile state, Cameron's patients lost their capacity to speak, walk or control their bowels.  The ended up in a vegetive state.

Cameron left the Allan Memorial Institute abruptly in 1964 for a position at the Albany Medical School in New York State.  According to Rebecca Lemov, a professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, Cameron's lab associates remained after his departure and continued his brainwashing techniques well into 1965, despite orders to stop.

When the MKULTRA program ended in 1973, former CIA director Richard Helms ordered that files related to the Montreal experiments be destroyed.  However, in 1977 it was revealed that not all the files were demolished.  Over a decade after Cameron's death, the CIA'S connection to  the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology was finally confirmed,  In an August 1, 1977 New York Times interview, Leonard Rubenstein, Cameron's former lab assistant, stated that the work Cameron performed with CIA funds was "directly related to brain-washing,"  He explained that they "had investigated brainwashing among soldiers who had been in Korea" and that "we in Montreal started to use some of these techniques, brainwashing patients instead of using drugs."  According to Rubenstein, Cameron and his colleagues were not aware of the CIA involvement in their funding.              

As is pointed out in Louise Penny's book, this was the time of the Cold War, the Red Scare and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  The CIA was trying to further its knowledge of brainwashing, particularly since some American soldiers captured during the Korean War had returned with praise for communism and condemnation for the United States. Some members of the U.S. Congress feared that the American POWs had been transformed from patriots to sleeper agents.

A Dutch psychologist wrote in the New York Times Magazine, "The totalitarians have misused the knowledge of how the mind works for their own purposes.  They have applied the Pavlovian technique - in a far more complex and subtle way of course - to produce the reflex of mental and political submission of the humans in their power."  Enter Dr, Ewan Cameron.  Under his stewardship, patients at the Allan Memorial Institute were subjected to electroshocks, drug-induced sleep and large doses of LSD.  

Dr. Ewan Cameron went on to become the president of the World Psychiatric Association from 1961 to 1966,  He died on September 8, 1967 at the age of 65, in Lake Placid, New York.  He passed away after suffering a heart attack while hiking in the Adirondack Mountains with his son.  At the time of his death, obituaries provided details of the eminent psychiatrist's career, and the British Medical Journal expressed awe at his accomplishments.  

How did it happen that Ewan Cameron, at the time of his death, was held in such high esteem by his colleagues in the psychiatric profession?  How did it happen that his egregious experiments were not condemned during his lifetime?  According to historian Alfred McCoy, "the dehumanizing nature" of Cameron's methods "were published without complaints from other psychiatrists."  McCoy pointed out that "Cameron read papers about "depatterning" with electroshock before meetings of his fellow psychiatrists; and they rewarded him, electing him president of the American. Canadian and World Psychiatric Associations."

It is now known that Dr. Cameron's brainwashing experiments caused considerable pain and ruined lives.  Some of his victims have come forward, in particular women he supposedly treated for post-partum depression. The truth is that the supposedly good doctor engaged in torture in the name of science.  By all accounts, Cameron had a brilliant mind - too brilliant.  He was a prolific researcher and tried to gain insights into such afflictions as epilepsy and schizophrenia.  Somewhere he got lost along the way.  His legacy remains an ugly blight on Canadian history and Canada's reputation.


* In 1945, Dr. Ewan Cameron gained world-wide prominence when he was invited to become a member of the team of psychiatrists who examined Rudolf Hess at  the Nazi war crime trials in Nuremburg, Germany.  Hess was diagnosed as having amnesia and hysteria.  He later admitted that he had faked the amnesia. 

* The directors of the Allan Institute defended Dr. Cameron in the late 1980s.  They contended that psychiatrist were not expected to inform patients of the treatment they were receiving in the 1950s and 1960s.  They further contended that there was no proof that Cameron had any knowledge of the CIA's funding of his experiments.

* Dr. Cameron maintained American citizenship from 1942 until his death in 1967.

*  In the 1980s, the CIA and State Department conducted a public counterattack on the Canadian government for questioning the appropriateness of CIA activities.  The CIA treated the Canadian government as an active and hostile enemy.  It highlighted the theme that Canada also funded Cameron.  Neither the CIA, nor the Canadian government, has offered an apology for the damage done to so many lives.

* According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, more than 300 people have made claims for compensation from the Canadian government after undergoing Cameron's experimental treatments.  In 1992, about 77 survivors were given $100,000 in compensation from the government, of Canada.  However, more than 250 claimants were refused compensation because they couldn't produce medical records, filed too late or were not deemed to have suffered enough.  

* Nine survivors of  Cameron's experiments were awarded compensation from the United States government in 1988.  

* In 2019, two legal actions were taken by relatives of people subjected to Dr. Cameron's "depatterning" at the Allan Memorial Institute.  The first, filed on January 24, 2019 in Quebec Superior Court, was an application for class action by Julie Tanny.  The second, dated February 13th, is a $1 million per family lawsuit launched by Marilyn Rappaport and Alison Steel.  The two actions alleged that Cameron's experimental procedures were done without informed consent and that they left patients with permanent psychological damage and had long term negative effects on their families.       

* A 1998 Canadian television movie, entitled Sleep Room, details Cameron's experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute.  It was originally broadcast as a miniseries and is based on the book In the Sleep Room: The Story of CIA Brainwashing Experiments in Anne Collins.

* The Allan Memorial currently houses outpatient psychiatric care for Montreal General Hospital,  which is part of the McGill University Health Centre.  It has not been used as an active psychiatric hospital since 2015, when a new psychiatric department opened at the Montreal General Hospital.  

SOURCES: Harvard Education Files: Grey Room 45, Fall 2011, pp. 60-67, "Brainwashing's Avatar: The Curious Career of Dr. Ewan Cameron," by Rebecca Lemov; AEON (, "What did Hannah Arendst really mean by the banality of evil?" by Thomas White,  Alliance for Human Research Protection website , "1950s-1960s: Dr. Ewan Cameron Destroyed Minds at Allan Memorial Hospital in Montreal," January 18, 2023; The Canadian Encyclopedia; "Montreal MKULTRA Experiments,", "Dr/ Ewan Cameron took charge of "Admitting" at the Brandon Mental Health," August 1, 2012; National Post, "What they did to my mother was torture," by Joe O'Connor, November 13, 2017; The Canadian Jewish News, "Families of Allan psychiatric experiments go to court," by Janice Arnold, February 25, 2019; Wikipedia


- Joanne    

Friday, January 13, 2023

The trouble with Prince Harry

Maybe "Mexit" was never about Meghan Markle, Maybe it was always driven by Prince Harry, who, in his American wife, found the much-needed catalyst to leave a family where he could never outrun the feeling of being second-best. The spare as opposed to the heir.

- Vicky Ward, NBC News, opinion piece, January 12, 2023

The title of Prince Harry's tell-all memoir says it all.  There's a reason Harry titled his book Spare.  He's never really gotten over feeling that  he's been cheated in life, that he was destined to always be runner-up to his older brother, William. This may seem contradictory because Harry seems to be relieved that he is not faced with the responsibility of being the future king.  He would much rather leave the royal protocol to William.  Still, it appears that the Duke of Sussex is wrestling with notion that he has always been regarded as less important than his big brother.  This goes far deeper than mere sibling rivalry.  It is a profoundly painful.

Harry, 38, claims to be content with his life in California.  However, Judi James, a body language expert, says otherwise.  James, a prominent non-verbal correspondence instructor in the U.K., suggests that the image on the cover of Harry's book suggests that he is still hurting.  "This is not a fun, smiling, playful man, and it's not Harry the family man either, hugging his adoring wife and children to show how it looks to be saved by that power of love," she told the Daily Express, a British tabloid.  If Harry now has the life he has always wanted, why does he still seem so unsettled and so conflicted?  Why does he still feel the need to lash out at his family?

I've wondered about Harry's motives, his mindset.  His motives are probably complex and varied.  One thing for certain, the book is clearly aimed at his family.  He feels that he and Meghan have been slighted.  But  is it purely revenge?  Christopher Andersen, a royal expert, thinks Harry is trying to get a rise out of  family members.  "I think he's trying to get a rise out of somebody," Andersen told US Weekly.  But as we approach the coronation, I think all (King) Charles wants is calm . . .(which is), I think, making (Harry) very frustrated that he's not getting any kind of response."

In some ways, I sympathize with Harry.  Despite immense wealth and privilege, it isn't easy to be a member of the royal family, also known as The Firm.  Harry was only 12 when his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris, after being chased by the paparazzi.  That must have been very traumatic for him, and he is obviously still grieving her.  I can also understand why he is upset by the racism that has been directed at Meghan, who is biracial.  Some have judged Meghan very harshly,.  They are far more severe with her than with her sister-in-law, the Princess of Wales, which is indeed reprehensible.  Having said all that, I think Harry has gone way too far.  He's crossed the line.

Harry wants to have it both ways.  He complains about how horribly the British press has treated him and Meghan  Understandably he is wary of the media, after what happened to his mother.  Yet, at the same time, he and Meghan have sat down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.  They have  appeared in their own Netflix series.  Harry written a tell-all book and promoted it on talk shows in Britain and the United States.  

How can Harry insist that he wants to protect his privacy and at the same time bare his soul to the world?  He accuses his step-mother Camilla, Queen Consort, and others of leaking private conversations and other information to the media.  That is a weak justification for disclosing the most intimate details of his life and his relationship with his family.  Meanwhile, the media are having a field day with each "bombshell" revelation and Harry's book is flying off the shelves.  

I don't think it's a matter of money.  I doubt that the Duke of Sussex wrote this book purely for mercenary considerations.  Besides, Harry has other ways of enhancing his already considerable wealth.  I just find him so contradictory.  On the one hand, he claims to want to mend fences with his family.  Yet, he chose to write a book that strongly attacks them and paints them in an unflatteringly light.  Does he really expect to reconcile with them that way?  He had to know what he was doing.  The book wouldn't have been published if it didn't contain a certain amount of "dirt."

Like it or not, and Harry claims not to like it, the British monarchy is more than just a family.  It is undeniably an institution.  Harry's actions have done considerable damage to that institution.  Americans may regard members of the royal family as mere celebrities, especially if they appear on talk shows.  The British see it differently.  They are far more aware of the constitutional and historical background of the monarchy.  That is why Harry and Meghan's popularity has plummeted in the U.K.

Prince Harry will likely regret having written this book, and he believes that he had to tell his story and what he perceives as his truth.  Patti Reagan, daughter of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, also wrote a tell-all book about her family.  She has come to regret it. 

It's time now for Harry to stop complaining.  Many have it much worse and our suffering considerably from the effects of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the ravages of inflation.  Harry would be well-advised to lay low for a long while, to stay in the shadows, Unfortunately, the stench from his actions will last for a long time.  He has opened a Pandora's Box.  

- Joanne