Refugees Are Delicious!

… and other life hacks for the end times

I wish we could screenshare right now, because I’m experiencing an iconic Canadian moment. Specifically, I’m eating some chicken wings that flew up to Roxham Road to claim refugee status — but were refused asylum, then referred to me.

These delicate situations don’t just work themselves out, right? They take intense international, cross-border diplomacy. After meeting with Joe Biden during his whirlwind visit to Ottawa (I hid behind a potted palm in the Prime Minister’s Office and jumped him on the way to the genderless bathroom) I’ve agreed to receive fifteen thousand of these tasty liberty-loving morsels, all of whom are fleeing the transphobic craptardery down south.

After they got the news that they were given special appetizer status, the wings — and a couple of drumsticks who tagged along for the hell of it — crowded around me, crying with gratitude, throwing themselves onto a blazing metal container fire to crisp themselves up and slathering themselves with Buffalo Hot Sauce. Make no mistake, fellow Canadians: Refugees are fucking delicious!

Alas, I cannot avoid turning my permanently rabbit-holed attention to the looney bin crammed to overflowing with three hundred million crack-smoking inmates that is the Unhinged States of America. And let’s be honest: from Make America Great Again to My Ass Got Arrested has felt like a sloooooooow transition.

Many of us have been worried that the arraignment of Donald Trump, The Great Mouth Breather, was proof that the Rich White Guy Justice System had broken down, for a license to perpetrate daily criminal acts upon the splayed-out body politic, with impunity, is one of the many perks top-tier politicians enjoy.

But I was gratified to note that Trump is not being held in custody during the leisurely wait for his next court appearance — in December. This means I’ll be spared the usual cynicism about jail time being like a staycation at the country club. Please!

I’m constantly having to remind the more punitive-leaning public that prison is never a “five-star hotel” and that, despite the 300-count bed linens, fine wines and comfort girls that the most privileged prisoners without question enjoy, the point of prison is that you can’t say, at 5pm, “All righty, then, see you soon! It’s been real!”

The perks are not the point. The actual punishment is that your freedom has been taken away. Right? Remember “freedom”? An extra pack of Twizzlers from the tuck shop does not take the edge off. When you’re sipping Veuve Clicquot in a real-life five-star hotel, or guzzling Kool-Aid in a condemned tenement, you’re still free to leave.

So. Eight months of freedom. It’s almost like they have some crazy idea that he’s innocent until proven guilty! And lord knows, it’s not like he’s a danger to the public or world peace or women’s rights or something! This will give him plenty of time to run for President, whip up his base, mimeograph and distribute some new copies of the Capitol floor plan, have those fake Electoral College members lined up, and, practise his Jackie Gleason impersonation: “Straight to the moon, America!”

Did you hear that? A perfect impersonation.

This set of thirty-four counts of cooking the books (matter of fact) in order to cover up a conspiracy to influence an election (still-to-be-proven matter of law) was not, alas, the sexy Perry Mason moment we’d hoped for. In fact it is downright geeky, with its fairy-tale journey of shy, unassuming Miss Demeanor who, with any luck, pulls herself together, gets a boob job on her VISA card and ends up twirling her tassels all the way, probably, to the Supreme Court for a lap dance with Samuel Alito.

To be fair, you have to remember how impossible it would have been to put together a case for any of the other offenses in the mere seven years of lawlessness so far:

  • the twenty-plus sexual assaults reported by the victims,
  • the attempt to interfere with the election results in Georgia, with nothing to go on but a recording of the phone call in which Trump loudly and clearly requests another eleven thousand votes;
  • the insurrection, for which we have only an airplane hangar full of evidence detailing a vast pre-planning effort by Republicans, and supported by Fox News, consisting of
  • around five trillion texts and emails from key right wing conspiracy theorists and white supremacists in which they explicitly state their intent,
  • all documented by the January 6th Committee in front of the entire world and glued into a lovely Victorian-style scrapbook that Nancy Pelosi created on Craftsy,
  • also video of Trump’s pre-riot speech in which he unequivocally exhorts his audience to stage an insurection.

Not forgetting:

  • Trump’s theft of hundreds of top-secret documents which he scattered around his Florida compound—in the garage, the bedrooms, the hallways, by the swimming pool, anywhere he might decide to take a dump and need something to read.

The evidence for that is so flimsy I’m almost embarrassed to mention it: Trump confessing he took them, in an interview, and his lawyers stating that they’d one-hundred percent definitely returned every last one of them, when they hadn’t.

These are cases which would clearly require the genius of Newton and the wisdom of Solomon allied with the sleuthing acumen of Sherlock Holmes in order to prove mens rea, the guilty mind, and actus reus, the criminal act itself.

So it’s perfectly understandable why the New York DA chose instead to stage a frat-party hazing of thirty-four on one, so we could watch sweet, unassuming Miss Demeanor magically transmorph into sex-crazed porn star Felony Trumpington and maybe even take over the Lancôme spokesperson role when Isabella Rossellini’s done with it.

I dunno about you. I’m just so relieved that after close to a decade of impending authoritarianism, Alvin Bragg chose the not-at-all-certain-to-win option!

America generally continues to implement its master plan: turning the former Republic into a banana split, topped with illiberal helpings of nut jobs, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, “The Pedophiliator”, and hard fruit like Lauren-the-Moron Boebert, whose pet projects include working to ensure every restaurant in the US will encourage open carrying of firearms, and rambling on about public urination on C-Span, no doubt inspired by her husband’s conviction for lewd exposure in a bowling alley.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Governor of Arkansas, that lodestar of forward-thinking business friendliness, is doing her part by signing into law the “Kindergarteners Relief Act”, which will allow eager entrepreneurial children, currently forced to eat vegetables, go to bed early and indulge in no more than two alcoholic beverages per evening (“big government”) to work twelve hours a day, then relax in a smoke-filled back room eating hamburger sliders before the bell rings for their morning shift. Citizens of Arkansas: Kiss your sooty chimneys goodbye!

Another nostalgic throwback was the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, which tanked due to recklessly putting all its investment eggs in the basket of tech startups and simultaneously investing in long-term bonds which relied on low interest rates to remain viable. Because interest rates would never go up, would they!

Unfortunately, interest rates went up, bond values went down. Nervous depositors scrambled to withdraw their money, only momentarily interrupting the Silicon Valley executives awarding themselves one final golden handshake. If only there had been legislation to ensure banks had sufficient liquidity to cover their deposits and oversight to make sure they diversified, mitigating risk! Oh, wait — there was! The Dodd-Frank Act, consumer protection enacted to ensure 2008 wouldn’t happen again. And where was Dodd-Frank? In a back alley, bleeding from a thorough gutting administered by The Great Mouth Breather.

But that’s not the only reason SVB was reckless. They also knew that they wouldn’t, couldn’t be allowed to fail, and that the government, suddenly looking awfully like those socialist governments they’ve been warning us about, would come to the rescue, in effect, nationalizing them. There was nothing to discourage any bank from going for short-term mega profits by leveraging their clients’ vulnerable assets.

The bail-out decision, a guarantee of $175 billion federal funding to cover customers’ deposits, took about five seconds to implement. This easily beat the timeline of two years and counting during which the Biden administration agonized about whether it should forgive the crushing burden of student debt, which it then decided it was maybe going to do, but on the other hand, maybe it wasn’t.

Student debt’s a tough one. Right? Just you tone it down, Mister J Biden Rockefeller! What, you think the government has a money tree or something?

I’m sure Ron DeSantis, Supreme Head Honcho of Florida, doesn’t think so. He’s currently enjoying a super-majority, and to celebrate, he’s reinventing Stalinist-style leadership by enacting punitive legislation targeting anyone who disagrees with him. So far, he has restricted K-12 education to white kids who pledge to “stick to the genitals they’ve already got”, personally vetted every math and history textbook and still found time to nationalize a Disney theme park and a public university by firing their Boards and replacing them with groveling Republican toadies. His message is clear: The Republic of Gilead is open for business!

(We all thought Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” was a piece of scary but implausible dystopian speculative fiction, but apparently she’s a visitor from another time-space continuum warning us fifty years in advance with factual reporting. And did we listen? Does the Pope wear Spandex?)

DeSantis is the No-Fun Zone; he’s like Trump, but without the sparkling wit and cuddly relatability that keeps Trump adorable even as he stands behind MAGAphiles at the polls and rubs his tiny erection against their thighs. He is the absolute incarnation of a Soviet-era thug who, unable to appreciate the clashy chords of the avant-garde, storms out of the Mariinsky Theatre to write an Op-Ed in Pravda putting everyone on notice that this cultural abomination is not going to happen under his watch.

Then come the executions.

And nationwide, in a stirring display of democracy in action, mobs of concerned parents — whose kids have been murdered at school by mentally deranged owners of assault rifles they obtained without a background check — are screaming “Protect our children!” outside scenes of feather boa and sequin carnage at Drag Queen Library Readings.

The National Rifle Association has only one comment: “Gender doesn’t kill, we do!”

As usual, Canada takes the kinder, gentler way. Premier of Ontario Doug Ford promises to leave Toronto’s fragile Green Belt alone, then doesn’t leave the Green Belt alone, instead opting to parcel out a nice, big chunk of it to his developer friends. This neatly solves the housing crisis currently experienced by wealthy Ontarians short of a down payment for a six-bedroom monster home on a couple of acres of prime golf course. This will justify the rape of another section of Green Belt that someone forgot to pave over for a highway that will get the new homeowners from their front door to their private doctor’s parking lot in twenty minutes instead of thirty.

At least he spares us the agony of public consultations. Public consultations would just give us hope that he’d pay attention to the results.

Public consultations might spook his developer friends, and start a rumor that Ford gives a flying fuck about what Torontonians want for their waterfront. But seriously: if he doesn’t care about food bank use being up sixty percent since he took power, if he doesn’t care about defending the citizens of Ottawa during the convoy invasion — the report on the use of Emergency Powers during that crisis singles him out in a scathing rebuke for dereliction of duty, no doubt because he didn’t want to alienate his suburban, Toronto-hating base — if he doesn’t care about suffering people, why would he care about a few acres of park?

I’m talking about Ford’s plans to privatize the beloved but decrepit Ontario Place site, with its iconic architecture and carefully-planned and accessible landscaping, by razing it and replacing it with a huge private spa.

The plans for the spa indicate a gigantic, thirteen-storey structure that is ludicrously out of scale in its context, makes the public land inaccessible and requires an underground parking lot that would necessitate removal of eight hundred mature trees. All of this for a luxury facility that turns its back to the waterfront and which is targeted at a wealthy clientele. And when the spa fails as a business…? This may not happen for a while, thanks to a cushion of $650 million of public money.

But of course, just say the word “public” in front of a conservative and you’ll be met with a blank stare. Conservative politicians, like all politicians, are supposedly in power to work for the public good, but that brings us to the Conservative Paradox: Conservatives run in elections so you can vote for them, but they don’t actually believe that government should have the power to change anything, nor are they interested in doing so.

They just want to defund and eliminate programs. Because this agenda takes about the first week, they’re then at a loss for what to do for the rest of their four-year term. Inevitably, they just treat it like their own private business networking event with a bit of evil mad social scientist experimentation thrown in for the rainy days.

They starve social programs until they no longer work, then tell the frustrated constituents: See? Public healthcare / public transit / welfare / has failed! then set about privatizing everything while telling poor people to just work harder.

The Ford government has been using Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) to force through development. An MZO is meant to be used in situations of extraordinary urgency. It overrides local planning authority to approve development without expert analysis, public input, or any chance of appeal.

The Ford government has issued more MZOs than any other government in the past thirty years. Ford loves feeling rebellious, especially when it means pissing off us Toronto “elites.” His favorite thing is ignoring expert advice about touchy-feely issues like the effects of development on the environment, or wage demands by teachers and nurses. MZOs, the Notwithstanding Clause: forget the sign that says “Emergency Use Only”. He’ll do exactly what he wants, regardless of broken promises, detriment to the public good, or conflict of interest. His slogan is “For the People”; but it really should be “For the People Called Doug Ford.”

No, forget public consultations. Far kinder to just go ahead with the parceling, then off to the next meeting to decide what benefits to take away from those useless old people (“seniors”). Shall we axe dental care? I mean, seniors in Ontario can no longer afford food, so good call on the no-teeth thing, Doug!

Speaking of unaffordable food, Canada’s main purveyor of that expensive luxury item, mega grocer Galen Weston, understands that Canadians, except for him, are concerned about haves and have-nots. After he explained, or some would say, lied, that his margins are the same, and that he’s not gouging vulnerable Canadians for obscene profits after all — record obscene profits, that is — we realized that deciding whether to pay rent or feed our families is just the way it is.

Billionaires are struggling, too, despite Galen’s three million-dollar raise in the past year. It’s expensive being an unlanced boil on the butt of society! And it was simply not possible to be happy with the same obscene profits like from before the pandemic; a pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity to play smoke and mirrors with supply chain issues that makes your previous strategy — colluding with every other grocery chain to artificially elevate the cost of bread Canada-wide, until you’re caught — seem inelegant in comparison.

I see from my balcony that the food bank crowd is a football scrum today. I better line up before Galen Weston convinces them to join his latest price-fixing cartel. Food banks are just unfair competition, and he’s got No Shame.

Hungry and poor? You should steal food. Jesus would want you to.

This past summer marked the first occasion when I shoplifted. It so happened that in the rosy sunset of my life I found myself in a dark grocery aisle, before the Wall of Cheese and the Ace Bakery concession, and lo! I was sore afraid.

I had no food in the house and I wasn’t yet up to speed on the fact that there was a food bank twice a week in the church across the street from me. So I decided to steal from the local temple of food, Loblaws.

If you’d like to recreate my adventure, here are the steps. I take no responsibility if you get caught and it’s your choice to do this. So take your lawyer off speed-dial, Sally Mae.

Bonus if you’re a senior and can plausibly present yourself as a recent denizen of the local Sunset Lodge who has just ripped out her feeding tube and is wandering in an advanced state of dementia, confused and in imminent danger of soiling her underwear. I can’t absolutely guarantee that will help but it might give you a shot.

  1. Go to a Loblaws location or any local version of foodie paradise near you. I went to the flagship store on Carlton Street at Church.
  2. Get there shortly after the store opens, if you’re lucky, 7 or 7:30 AM. There will probably be no security on the front door at this time. If there is, you may want to rethink your timing.
  3. Pick up a small shopping basket and get yourself into leisurely shopping mode.
  4. If you’re really hungry, swing by the prepared foods, which at the Carlton store are on display right by the front entrance. Help yourself to two or three items. I picked up a roast beef sandwich and a clamshell container of chicken tenders (cooked!), coleslaw and potato salad.
  5. As you walk around the store, indulge in the roast beef sandwich, like I did.
  6. Don’t pick up more than you can easily carry in one hand.
  7. When you’ve casually pretend-shopped enough, proceed to the front entrance, check for security and wait for some people coming in / going out.
  8. Drop the shopping basket and walk out with your food. Be purposeful, not guilty looking.
  9. Enjoy! Or do your elderly dementia patient routine, if you’re caught.

You could also go to the self-serve checkout, pretend to scan the items, then leave.

Good luck! I think we should organize a mass senior citizen shoplifting event. I think I have some bell bottom jeans and a paisley shirt tucked away somewhere …



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