Drawing your own maps part 1

January 18, 2015

Click below to listen to an episode of Exchange with Neil McKenty (Driving With Your Mate)


Once I was hosting a radio phone-in program when the question was, ‘How do you get on with your mate driving in the car?’ Calls were a riot. Most of the callers, especially the women, recalled incidents when their husband got lost. The reaction was invariably the same. First the husband denied he was lost; the he refused to stop the car and ask for directions; finally in a fit of pique, he angrily declined to look at the map.

That program got me thinking about maps. Of course, if you’re lost its stupid not to look at a map and figure out where you are. But suppose you didn’t have a map. Or something worse, you had the wrong map. Imagine, for instance, you live in Montreal and you are motoring to Boston. Everything’s fine until you arrive in Beantown. Then the whole trip begins to unravel. You can’t find your hotel, you can’t even find the name of the street your hotel is on. You pore over your map. You can’t find a single name or reference point that makes any sense. You continue to drive around aimlessly, bewildered, growing more anxious and angry by the minute, totally frustrated. Finally, you spot a policeman. You stop and show him your map. He looks at you quizzically and says it’s no wonder you’re lost. You’ve been driving frantically around Boston. But you’re trying to follow a map of Detroit. You have the wrong map.


Cartoon of Neil McKenty and his talkshow

Isn’t that how many people go through life following the wrong map? And if that’s the case (and experience suggest it is) then is it any wonder that so many of us are anxious, bewildered, angry frustrated and ultimately lost? Is it surprising that we experience a chronic inner dis-ease, that we are not comfortable in our skin and that we expend enormous energy trying to disguise this condition from the outside world?

Of course, we are now talking about an interior map, a map that relates to the landscape of our own psyche, the topography of our innermost soul. So where did we get this defective, inaccurate map that has led us down so many blind alleys, cul-de-sacs and roads that went nowhere? In my case the map I followed for many years goes back to my boyhood. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, except the map was drawn by other people. From as long as I can remember I was trying to live up to the expectations of other people: my parents, my priest, my teachers and, to some extent, the community in which I lived.

Trying to live up to the expectations of others never works because (in your own mind at least) whatever you do, however much succeed, it is never enough. The bar is continually being raised. What this leads to is not a genuine sense of accomplishment but an oppressive sense of failure. We can never do enough. And it’s not far from feeling that we are failures to feeling that we are unlikable. Not just that others don’t like us but, fundamentally, we don’t like ourselves.

This is a recipe for inner dis-ease. And disguising that dis-ease from others and even from ourselves becomes our objective. We desperately try to project an image that all is well, we can manage, we are a success (as we well may be), we have a great social life and scads of friends. And if these external accomplishments do not anaesthetize the inner pain for long (which they don’t) well some of us try a quicker method, chemicals of some sort. A double martini or a snort of coke will deaden our dis-ease a lot faster than making a successful speech or writing an acclaimed article. But whether it’s alcohol or drugs or success we are all, in a sense, addict, trying to fill a spiritual hole with a material reality.

Which brings us back to maps. At the core of the problem is an instinctive sense that we are not being true to ourselves, that we are not living out of our own natural bent, not, in the words of Joseph Campbell, ”following our bliss”. Instead our lives are still governed by external expectations, by maps drawn by other people. To be specific, think of the tortuous journey of a man who really wants to be a writer but instead has become a priest. Or a woman who wants to be an artist and finds herself doing a doctorate in bioethics because that’s what she thought her father, an eminent doctor, wanted her to do. I think the word hypocrite is relevant here, not in a moral sense but in the root from the Greek, hypocrite meaning ”actor”. It’s a dreadful burden to go through life being an actor, following the wrong map.

How does one turn this situation around? How does a person develop his or her own map for the journey? Not easily. Not by any more external band-aids or success stories. The outer journey (with the wrong map) must be replace by the inner journey using the map that enables us to become the person God intended us to be. But how do we move from outer accomplishments (which like drug require stronger doses) to an interior journey that deals with our dis-ease in a fundamental and permanent manner ?

This is a movement from disliking ourselves to liking ourselves, in my opinion the most fundamental spiritual transformation imaginable. I think the first step is a total revulsion at the unreality of the way we have been living expressed perhaps in a cry from our inner depths,” I just want to be real”. My own experience is that a crisis of some sort may be required to get us to this existential honesty, something along the lines described by the American Jungian therapist, James Hollis, as the ”swamplands of the soul”. These include loss, depression, grief, loneliness and betrayal.

Some of us, at any rate, must hit what AA calls ”an emotional bottom” wherein we realize we are powerless, that our lives have become unmanageable and we must reach out for help. It is in this ”bottom” that I believe we take the first decisive step in beginning to draw our own map. It is a marvellous paradox that when we become vulnerable we also become able to grow from the inside. In this sense, God does indeed write straight with crooked lines. Or as the Canadian therapist, Marian Woodman, puts it, ” God comes through the wound. ”

Part 2 continued tomorrow

A Tribute to Lou by Gail and Barry Lord

January 16, 2015

Louis K. Fleming was Catharine McKenty’s cousin

Lou Fleming was our mentor and our friend.

Gail remembers the first time she met Lou – it was at Scarborough Civic Centre in Toronto to plan a cultural centre. Lou was representing Theatre Projects . Tall, trim and handsome, when Lou spoke everyone listened.

Not long after, Lou involved us in cultural planning for the city of Lexington, Kentucky. He taught us how to be consultants. Our client was the Mayor (now a Congressman) who was very demanding. Lou coached us on how to manage client expectations from inspiration to reality.

When Lou moved back to London he always stayed in touch with us. We well remember his lovely four-storey home near Buckingham Palace Road. One day in the early 1990s when we had established our own London office in Windmill Row, Lou invited Gail for tea to discuss ‘an interesting project’. Also invited was the Glaswegian managing director of Michael Wilford Architects (the successor firm to James Sterling). Before his death, Sterling had drawn a triangular scheme for a performing arts centre on the back of a napkin for Salford Quays. Now was the opportunity to realize it – and I was there in case they needed to show some art in the lobby. Of course I vehemently protested art in a theatre lobby as an insult and advocated for proper galleries. Lou as host took that very well and fortunately so did the architect. Soon we were on our way to Salford where Lou discovered that the Lyric Theatre was to be the core performance space (not an opera house) and Gail discovered an important collection of work by LS Lowry in the basement of the local museum.

That meeting in Lou’s parlour started a 6 year odyssey leading to The Lowry, one of Europe’s most successful cultural developments to open in 2000.

Over the years, we met from time to time, though Lou was very busy balancing work with caring for Val, and we were also too busy. Lou always looked out for opportunities for us and really built our confidence when times were not so good. Through Lou’s example, we learned that retirement is not much of a concept and so, like Lou, we continue to work and travel.

In 2009, Gail was delighted to be able to attend Lou and Anita’s wedding and to meet his family, especially his twin brother Bob and his daughter Elaine.

Lou – we will miss you more and more with every day and passing year.

Gail and Barry Lord

visit   www.lord.ca or join our Forum: www.culturalchange.ca

Tribute to LOU

January 16, 2015

From Catharine McKenty, Jan 15, 2015
“I have so many special memories of LOU, beginning from the time Lydia and I were three years old. Didn’t those twins, Lou and Bob, (age nine) arrive at Donlands Farm, Toronto.
Next thing you knew a tinkertoy castle commandeered the centre of a very staid living room. Doorbells started going off in the middle of the night, and a Christmas tree shone with magical lighting, Lou’s first experiment.
Never mind that a huge sleigh was hauled out of the big barn and eight small cousins were sent hurtling down a steep hill, legs sticking out in all directions. The sleigh shot through a narrow opening in the barbed wire fence and came to an abrupt halt, its cargo breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Well do I remember the time those same twins decided to maroon their nine-year old cousin, me, on a raft out in Lake Simcoe’s rippling waters. (Our grandmother’s cottage was at the edge of the lake, about an hour’s drive north of Toronto.) As the canoe shot out from the shore, I could see Lydia’s Granny Bentley jumping up and down, clutching her green umbrella and shouting, “You dreadful boys, you dreadful boys, bring her back immediately!”
Neither she nor the twins realized that, once I was safely ensconced on the raft, I was blissfully happy, imagining myself to be Huckleberry Finn, sailing down the Mississippi, well out of reach of interfering grown-ups (until a rescue rowboat arrived with peremptory orders to disembark immediately.
Later, much later, my husband Neil and I spent many happy days and nights at 14 Stafford Place, our home away from home we’re told, with Val’s scrumptious meals hauled up the steep stairs by Lou.
One of my favourite pictures of Neil was taken by Lou. There’s Neil, sitting serenely in the big living-room armchair, reading a British newspaper to his heart’s content, oblivious to everything going on around him.
When we went off to see the Queen on horseback reviewing her troops, Lou firmly loaned Neil a respectable dress jacket, its sleeves several inches too long, but highly appreciated by me.
In a very real sense, Lou and Bob became brothers to both Neil and myself. In recent years I would cheekily begin phone calls with, “Hello there, “Little Lou”, much to his amusement, with Anita cheering us on, herself a welcoming voice.
What will Lou be up to, I wonder, in the next life, free of all living constraints? Once I myself get settled in that marvellous life beyond this one, I’m determined to find out. So watch out, “little Lou!”

Memories of Louis by his brother Bob

January 15, 2015

MEMORIES OF LOUIS by his brother Bob

I am celebrating the life of Louis, my twin, who died on Christmas Eve at a hospital in Cambridgeshire, England with his daughter Elaine at his side. He had fought a long illness.. Lou and I had been together for 89 years and we would have had our 90th birthdays on April 5.

My earliest memory of Lou goes back to 1926. Outside our home in Onslow Square in London, England, we were in a double pram with Nanny watching over us when a strange woman suddenly ran up to Lou. “I want to bless this boy,” she said leaning down to touch his brow. Then she vanished. I had wanted to be blessed too.

I am blessed to have been Lou’s older brother (by half an hour). But Lou always watched over me. In 1936, I had been stricken with polio when we were students at Lakefield College. The quiet onset of the almost total paralysis of my limbs made Lou my loving minder.

As a boy, Lou had a passion for fixing radios, clocks and dreaming up new technologies. In 1944, he graduated from the Radio College of Canada which propelled him into joining the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve RCNVR. His job included checking radar equipment in the crow’s nest of the warship Haida as she went through high speed trials at sea.

In February 1951. Lou found himself at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway in New York. He was in charge of creating stage lighting for Jotham Valley, a fast moving musical produced by international Moral Re-Armament.

The high point of the story required a sunrise over a western farming valley. The director
was convinced that Lou and his lighting crew could pull it off. The pro’s said that such complex effects had never been tried before. Digital controls didn’t exist in a day of large manually controlled lighting switchboards. And Lou succeeded.

The music and lyrics to accompany the sunrise were unforgettable and sometimes over the passing years our ‘twinly’ minds would click and we would start singing in unison the refrain from Jotham Valley “Somewhere In The Heart of a Man,” (Words and Music by Cecil Broadhurst, 1950)

“Somewhere in the heart of a man,
There’s a door,
And what’s more,
He can Fling it wide and throw the key away,
And for me – it’s like a sunrise on a summer day.”

A mass will be said for Louis at St. Mary’s Cathedral here in Kingston, Ontario initiated by Pat Kittner, a wonderful caregiver to Patsy and me. I will be there for Louis, his wife Anita,
daughter Elaine, son-in–law Michael Fish and granddaughters Khristina and Danielle.

Both Louis and I have been blessed.
He will remain in my heart forever.

Robert Fleming, Kingston, Ontario

A tribute to Louis Fleming, cousin of Catharine McKenty

January 15, 2015

Louis K. Fleming 1925-2014

Pioneer theatre and arts management consultant

Louis K. Fleming (Lou) was President of Theatre Projects Consultants Inc. in New York from 1982-1990. He served as a director of Theatre Projects International from 1988 to 2006. Lou played a leading role in establishing Theatre Projects as a predominant player in the theatre consulting field in America.

After service in the Canadian Navy, Lou began his career in 1946 as a theatre technician for Moral Re-Armament Productions in New York. He became the technical director and lighting designer of MRA in 1950, and travelled extensively around the world before becoming based at the Westminster Theatre in London, where he was executive director from 1965 to 1975. In 1975 he returned to Canada as a consultant to the Ontario Ministry of Culture and became a freelance theatre consultant in 1979. He was managing director of the recently established Artec Consultants in New York from 1979-1982. In 1982 Richard Pilbrow and TPC Inc. President Wally Russell invited Lou to become managing director of Theatre Projects that was then expanding into the USA.

Richard Pilbrow recalls: “Theatre Projects Inc. began in New York in 1965, principally to service our activities as lighting and projection consultants on Broadway. By the early 1980’s it became clear to me that there was a role for our theatre design consulting activities in North America, because of our rediscovery of the virtues of intimate three-dimensional theatre forms that were then little understood. We won such prestigious contracts as the Portland Oregon and Calgary Alberta Performing Arts Centers and it became obvious that we needed a full time American presence. I first turned to two friends, Wally Russell and designer Eldon Elder. Wally became our President and in turn engaged Lou Fleming to take the lead in opening up work on new projects that needed feasibility evaluation. Lou was an always urbane, consummate diplomat, and a real gentleman. He excelled in the preparation of proposals for consulting services and, through gaining the trust of clients, delivered outstanding studies to establish the viability of a performing arts project. He was a wise counselor and created an atmosphere of confidence among civic, business, and arts leaders. A man of exceptional distinction.”

Lou was a perfectionist and also a generous mentor. He recruited Robert Long (also from Artec), Steve Wolff, and subsequently Duncan Webb to TPC, who all made major contributions before going on to distinguished careers under their own banners with, respectively, Theatre Consultants Collaborative, AMS Management Consultants, and Webb Management Consultants.

His colleagues remember that Lou would often counsel: “We may work in the arts, but it is really about politics and economics.” He always advised patience with: “It takes a long time for something to happen suddenly,” and prudence: “Don’t use the word ‘very’ unless you really mean it.”

Lou did much to establish TPC in the United States by helping to gain such projects as the Blumenthal Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, Texas, The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California, and other projects such as those in Tampa, Florida, and Cincinnati, Ohio. David Staples of Theatre Projects remembers of Dallas: “The inner city was decaying but the city leadership determined to halt the decline with a number of initiatives including the 55 acre Dallas Arts District. Theatre Projects were appointed to conduct a feasibility study which recommended the construction of a number of new theatres and an opera house. We were summoned to Dallas to present our recommendations to City Council and Lou decided I should make the presentation. Over breakfast I realized Lou (whom we nicknamed ‘the Silver Fox’) had deftly put me in the firing line as we were recommending the construction of over one third of a billion dollars of arts buildings (in 1985 that was a lot of money).”

In 1990, Lou retired and returned to live in the UK where he remained active as an assessor for the Lottery Fund of the Arts Council of Great Britain playing a key role on such projects as the Lowry Centre, Salford. David Staples recalls “When we arrived in Salford it was the most disadvantaged municipality in the UK, on almost any measure – poverty, health, education, crime, etc. The Council were determined to regenerate the docklands with a cultural centre at its heart. Today, 15 years after opening it is acknowledged as the most successful arts led regeneration project in Europe if not the World.

Lou’s association with Theatre Projects continued and he played an important role in securing the Den Norske Oper project in Oslo. Staples again: “The Oslo Opera House is one of the new generation of European opera houses and probably the most iconic arts building since the Sydney Opera House. Our involvement happened because Lou had become friends with Norwegian Chris Borchgrevink in Moral Re-Armament. Chris introduced us to the key individuals involved which led to an over ten year involvement in the planning, design and construction of this amazing building.

Robert Long recollects; “I first worked with Lou for two years at Artec. He left and joined TPC. Lou invited me to join him at TPC in September, 1982. Our first office, in Eldon Elder’s studio on West 67th Street, was so small that it had room for only two people. Lou shared it with our wonderful assistant, Michele LaRue in the morning and with me in the afternoon. We helped to launch TPC in the US with a handful of Kodak slides and the mystique of the courtyard theatre. Lou could write a report, assemble a design team and charm a client better than anyone that I have ever known. He had a wonderful, sideways smile, and could devour a large slice of Texas Mud Pie all on his own! Lou had an intuitive approach to his work and spoke of his “green thumb” when it came to proposals, contracts and fees. I learned so much from Lou.”

Lou Fleming was a member of the Institute of Directors in London, the Royal Society of Arts, the International Society of Performing Arts Managers, and the Institute of Management Consultants in London.

Lou was born in London on April 5th 1925, the son of Austin Lloyd and Helen Hyde. He was educated at Appleby, then Lakefield Colleges, followed by Jervis College, Ontario in 1944. In 1952 he married Valerie Ann Exton, who died in 2008. He is survived by their daughter, Elaine Leslie Fleming Fish and grandchildren, his second wife Anita, and his twin brother Bob of Kingston Ontario.

Richard Pilbrow
Founder & Chairman Emeritus
Theatre Projects Consultants

McKenty Live: The Lines Are Still Blazing

January 10, 2015


Info on how to order the new book.

Originally posted on Exchange:

Newly-published, this is a collection of colourful stories and articles, by and about Neil, highlighting his radio talk-show and his writing ability. Includes some unpublished pieces and Aislin cartoons.

Royalties from the sale of the book will go to create
The Neil McKenty Scholarship in Journalism at Dawson College

For more information or to order the book contact

linesarestillblazing [at] gmail.com


View original

Flyer for McKenty Live Launch

January 5, 2015

McKibbins Flyer


December 31, 2014


Happy 2015. Here is blog from Neil in 2012

Originally posted on Exchange:

This year Canadians were asked what resolutions they really wanted to commit to:

Lose weight 26 per cent; Save more money 16 per cent; Have a better sex life 12 per cent; Be nicer to friends and family 10 per cent;  Get a better job 9 per cent; None.  I’m not making resolutions 27 per cent.  What about socially conscious resolutions: Choose organic meat or eggs the next time you shop.  Just one time and already you are  healthier, the animals are happier and the environment is cleaner.  Or turn down the thermostat and throw an extra layer on to compensate.  You’ve saved money, fought climate change and made Grandma happy because you’re wearing the sweater she made.

Do you plan any New Year’s resolutions?

Do New Year’s resolutions make any sense?

What do you think?

View original

McKenty Live: The Lines Are Still Blazing

December 29, 2014

Newly-published, this is a collection of colourful stories and articles, by and about Neil, highlighting his radio talk-show and his writing ability. Includes some unpublished pieces and Aislin cartoons.

Royalties from the sale of the book will go to create
The Neil McKenty Scholarship in Journalism at Dawson College

For more information or to order the book contact

linesarestillblazing [at] gmail.com


Christmas message from ‘McKenty Live’

December 22, 2014


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