My Personal Faves: Synchroni-city

a trip to the mall yields a gift from the gods of chance


Here begins another in an unofficial series in which I re-post some of my absolute favorite pieces from the recent past. Yes, this another way of fobbing you off, just involving as little work as I can manage without actually going so far as to not wake up. It’s a fine line and the future doesn’t always mimic the past, so instead of complaining, how about some appreciation? That’s more like it! This post from May, 2019, relates a true story, and one that still freaks me out on account of its ridiculously specific outcome and its sheer mind-blowing perfect randomness. Yes, I’m gullible and credulous, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the mysterious patterns of life. Look, even the apple slices in that pie have arranged themselves in a Fibonacci Sequence! Well, well, well! — DR


North York,” Illustration by David Roddis.
Photo credits: ethan johnson/roman mager/victor xok/antoine dautry via unsplash

SATURDAY: AN EX-ROOMMATE DROPS BY with a friend who’s in town to see the Raptors play. (I’m not sure, but I think the Raptors are some kind of sports team.) My ex-roommate installs the handsome Raptors fan in my armchair, offers me a doggie-bagged hamburger, then flits about, wreaking delightful sketchy havoc.

He scrummages through another friend’s personal effects (some of which he appropriates—he’s a bit of a kleptomaniac), tidies the kitchen, messes up the bathroom, and gives me news of someone, let’s call him “Ben,” whom I haven’t seen in nearly two years.

Ben and I are estranged because of my big mouth and my snippy tactlessness and my sour, flippant remarks about his abusive passive-aggressive female partner, whom he endlessly complained about but couldn’t seem to break free of. Ben took offense at my unasked-for advice, which admittedly was a little brusque, and stormed off in a straight-guy huff.

This is because straight guys pretend they’re manly and strong, but in fact, compared to gay men, they are as fruit flies to our turkey vultures, so spindly and ephemeral is their sense of self-worth. Straight men are used to being coddled and kow-towed to, and receiving the world’s deference and the security blanket scented with Febreze, so they are soft and frail.

Gay men, by contrast, eat rock-hard shit for breakfast and halt juggernauts of bigotry with our bare hands, all while dancing backwards in Louboutin cocktail booties, lashes mascara’d so thickly our eyelids glue shut, and wearing a print dress from the Sally Ann that someone’s grandmother died in, so we’re ready to take whatever you care to throw at us.

Like, “Hey, faggot!” for example.

Then we laugh our silvery, ironic laugh, shove a butt-plug up our hole and head to the office.

You know. Tough.

Straight men are all about the masculinity and the deference, but their masculinity is butterfly-fragile, so that if you so much as brush its powdery wing they are irrevocably maimed. And trust me when I tell you that they will exhibit their stigmata with a stoic, martyred acceptance that is worse than any accusation, like those portrayals of saints holding out their lopped-off body parts on a tray or having their entrails slowly wound up on a wheel.

They will pull on the sweat-stained track suit of their straight-guy pride, they will draw themselves up to their full height and they will take their elevated chin, their grim have a nice life, dude, expression and their affronted, bruised ego out the door, pulling their ruined masculinity behind them like a stuffed toy rabbit on a string.

Still. Ben was handsome and slim-muscular, refined and smart and soft-spoken, with a hint of Barbadian accent, and he let down the straight-guy façade every so often and we’d mud-wrestle, winner take all, quite effectively. So I feel wistful about Ben, wishing we could be friends once more, although I’m not so wistful as to think my comments were unjustified. Just badly timed, and with a little too much emphasis, perhaps, on the words “co-dependent” and “dysfunctional”.

You know, and can I just say, seriously. I mean, someone’s gotta cut me a great, big bleeding side of slack, and it might as well be me.

And, in case you’re wondering: When we mud-wrestled? I always made sure I lost.


MONDAY: I ARRANGE A HOOK-UP with a guy in North York. For an elite downtowner, as our bloated odious demagogue premier, Dug-Up Ford, would call me, this might as well be the moons of Jupiter. As I rarely travel north of Bloor Street, and start bleeding from the ears somewhere around St. Clair, I pack with a vengeance, remembering that it is food and its availability that determines the outer boundaries of possible interplanetary travel.

Book for the subway ride ( Resident Alien: The New York Diaries, by Quentin Crisp, who I am trying to become), shoulder bag with cigarettes poached from the Mohawk nation, lighter, butane. An apple, culled from my roommate’s sock drawer and slightly mummified, in case I get peckish, a sweater in case it’s cold up there, sunglasses for viewing any displays of the aurora borealis.

Hey, Cortana: What’s his particular corner of North York called?

Willowdale?

You can’t be serious, girl.

Phone charger. I will definitely need the phone charger cause my phone’s at twenty-eight percent, but I figure I’ll plug it in at the hook-up’s place before plugging the hook-up into me. Yowza!

And I have five dollars and some change. A subway ride is three dollars twenty-five cents, but because I’m providing a little government-sanctioned legal cannabis sativa, I figure I’ll touch him for a subway token to get me home, if I’m still able to walk to the subway, that is.

I am placing a heavy burden and high hopes on this hook-up. And I haven’t even met his boyfriend yet!


I’VE BEEN ON THE NORTHBOUND TRAIN for twenty minutes. As the subway leaves York Mills station, my hook-up texts me: “When you arrive at Sheppard, go upstairs to the mall, find the Shopper’s Drug Mart and wait for me there.”

At Sheppard Station, I head up the escalator and look for any random exit because it is all the same to me, and it is not immediately apparent what the mall means, because that is what North York is.

One big mall.

I have no idea where I am in relation to the mall, the exits were designed by Max Escher and a sign says “take this stairway down to the first level” while displaying an arrow that points to the ceiling. The sign is in front of another escalator.

I take this escalator back down to where I started and follow a TTC worker, who leads me into a cul-de-sac where she disappears through a door marked “Employees Only.” I backtrack. I take another escalator up and this time I exit to the street, where the people, who are all teenagers, look different and full of cares and have diametrically opposed interests to me, and I look across Yonge Street and I see the words “Harcross Centre” on the front of what looks like a mall.

It looks like a mall because everything looks like a mall. This particular mall does not have a Shopper’s Drug Mart, but it has a fine-looking Rexall.

I’m glad I brought the sweater because it is freezing cold on the street corner. I text the hook-up: “Hi! I’ve arrived and taken the wrong exit, is it OK if we meet in front of the Rexall Drug Store instead of Shopper’s?! LOL!”

I’m unsure which way is north and which way is south. Perhaps this does not matter in North York, where you can just say the mall to indicate directions. I cross the street to the Harcross Centre, sit outside on a granite bench and vape.

I wait and vape, vape and wait. I wonder if the teenagers in North York are property speculating and driving up housing prices, and how they manage generally without adult supervision. I’m convinced the teenagers are looking at me with stern disapproval, the way the people looked at me in Flatbush, New York, when I was running around looking for a pay phone wearing a semi-transparent Indian hippy shirt, tight, white hot pants from Joe Fresh and sandals, which would not be a positive thing. Or perhaps they haven’t seen an adult in a while. The vape produces impressive clouds of pipe-tobacco-y sweet smoke, but it makes me cough like I’m going to hack up a lung.

I text, “Hi, I’m wearing blue shorts, sandals, a jean jacket and I’m reading!”

I text, “Hi, I’m still waiting for you in front of the Harcross Centre! Sure hope you’re getting these!”

I text, “I’d feel a lot better if you were responding!”

I text, “I’m waiting fifteen more minutes! LOL!”

My phone has just shut itself off with a little Bronx cheer, like, “I’m on strike for better working conditions, loser. You might at least charge me.” I turn it on again. The screen is on power-saver mode, like, “I’m working to rule, buddy. And you call me dim!”

I call the hook-up. A voice says, “The wireless customer you are trying to reach is not available at this time.” I have two dollars and fifty cents, in dimes, and I’m realizing that the hook-up has come out without his phone, or the hook-up doesn’t have a phone plan but is using an app—or the hook-up is a wanker who has pulled one over on me.


I AM ON THE SOUTHBOUND SHEPPARD-YONGE subway train. I’m heading home, meaning that in my imagination I’m heading as far away as possible from the hook-up who’s pulled one over on me, for which “home” will do. I am so demoralized that I am alternately crashing asleep like a stone dropped down a well and waking up with a little yelp one stop later.

Almost convinced that I’d been the victim of a perverse practical joke, but wanting to avoid a two-hour walk home, I had wandered with anxious determination along the byways and alleys of North York, in the process walking directly into a plate glass window that is not the exit to the Yonge-Sheppard Centre, which is the mall (because for some reason I stopped wearing my glasses about a year ago); locating, now that it was too late, the Shopper’s Drug Mart, where I waited for the historical thrill of knowing my hook-up had waited there, hopefully feeling guilty as a Christian, and for the practical matter of charging my phone via a socket located on a nearby pillar—which was a decorative gew-gaw socket installed merely for its visual flair and architectural irony and which did not charge my phone.

I had no sense of how long I’d been wandering around, but it was no longer twilight, and I had that rising panic you feel in dreams where you suddenly realize there will be a terrible calamity if you don’t make it to an appointment you’ve just remembered.

Crazily, because I didn’t know his address, only the street and that it was “directly across from the station,” I started to try and find his apartment building. This involved approaching a young dad and his son, the only pedestrians available, with such a shyly apologetic demeanor that they jumped in the air when I spoke. They were, however, able to point me to Yonge Street, which would be like wandering along Forty-Second Street and enquiring whether Times Square was anywhere nearby.

Then it hit me: I only knew my hook-up by his screen name, and I did not envision myself, in the movie of the week that will be my lasting contribution to Canadian culture, asking random residents of the building, as they exited or entered, “Excuse me, do you happen to know in which apartment Big-Hung-Bubble-Butt-4U might be found?”

I did not see myself doing that with anything like nonchalance.


I decide to give up and head back to civilization, or, in a pinch, just absolutely anywhere that’s not North York. I don’t have enough to make the subway fare, which is not usually a problem at this hour, when the TTC ticket booth guys abandon the booth to go for haircuts or play Parcheesi behind the doors marked “Employees Only.”

However, this is North York. When I reach Sheppard Station I find that in this wacky topsy-turvy mall desert of furrow-browed teenagers the ticket booth guy is clearly visible, looking work-ethical and fierce, bristling with multiculturalism and wiry, fiery red hair.

I consider just dumping the inadequate handful of dimes into the fare box and striding away, but that’s like fare-dodging and I could be arrested, though this rarely happens.

I am the adult in the room and I am nothing if not compliant. My fare-dodging strategy will be to age myself to “golden oldie” status, a little white lie which requires the addition of three years.

This is a concession which I would not, before today, have considered psychologically safe, but I have been beaten on the anvil of desire and tempered in the purifying crucible of rejection and I no longer care. I will pretend I am disoriented and in the throes of early-onset senile dementia, which I now view less as a tragedy and more like a coping mechanism.

I approach the booth.

“Excuse me, do you have a seniors’ fare?” I make my voice querulous and raspy, as though I have just torn out my feeding tube and fled the Sunset Lodge. I only wish I had a kerchief and shawl.

“Ten — Seniors’ teeckets? Vhat? Vhat?”

“I think I’m — a little — short…”

Ticket Booth Guy looks at me like he just recently spotted something similar crawling out from under a rock.

“Jus’ go troo!”

Life, they tell me, can reasonably often gift us with random moments of bliss that sneak up unexpectedly and just as quickly pass, leaving gratitude and nostalgia in their wake.

I’m not convinced about the bliss thing, but I can confidently say that humiliation this made-to-order is rarely experienced without participation in a spelling bee, awakening in a urine-soaked bed or attaching pornographic selfies to the email of recommendation you are sending to your friend’s probation officer. My tender dialogue with Mister Go-Troo is humiliation perfection.


I left home at six-fifteen. It is ten-thirty as the subway train approaches Wellesley station. Normally I get off at College, one stop further, but I am suddenly blindsided by whimsy, and I think: “Let’s get off here for a change, and take the alternative route.”

The streets are fairly quiet on a Monday night, but it’s still the gay village, or what’s left of it that drugs, rising rents and quasi-equality haven’t ravaged, so there are still flickers of that tawdry, hot-dogs-for-dinner, dirty bingo drunk sex circus I sometimes guiltily, secretly miss.

Nothing disappoints quite as much as getting exactly what you asked for, and now that the larger-than-life, extravagant outlaws have been homogenized, suburbanized, deflated and dispersed, mediocrity and misery have filled the void. Goodbye, desperados and Doc Martens; hello, homelessness and heroin.

I cross Jarvis, and now I am walking past the Petro-Canada gas station with its convenience store and twenty-four hour A&W Burger.

And a voice calls out, “David? David!”

I look at the car stopped at the lights one west-bound lane away from the curb, the car in which the driver is leaning over and calling to me.

“It’s Ben!” says Ben.

He drives around the corner, turns into the gas station lot, pulls up next to me. I hop into the car. He’s still so handsome it brings tears to my eyes just to sit next to him.

Everything’s all right. It’s old stuff, what happened, and we’ve moved on. We’re cool.


A random stranger—who to this day I still haven’t met—sets in motion the arrangements whose failure leads to my spontaneous decision to take a route walking home that I never take. I’m led through the maze, gently nudged here and there, teased and disappointed and red herring’d; told, subliminally, “this way, now this way…”

Why?

So that I can encounter someone whose warm touch I’ve missed, a soul I never meant to hurt, at the one, exquisitely-timed moment when he’s stopped at the red light with me right there on the sidewalk, and be friends with him again.

This is why synchronicity is my atheist substitute for faith, God for the godless.

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National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Listen up, men: Thirty years after the Montréal Massacre we’re still avoiding the truth about misogyny.



ON DECEMBER 6TH, 1989, At about 5 PM, Marc Lépine walked into the École polytechnique in Montréal armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a hunting knife.

Twenty minutes later, fourteen women, most of them engineering students, were dead. Lépine finished his massacre by turning the gun on himself.

In the intervening years, some of the survivors committed suicide, stating in their final notes that they could no longer live with the traumatic memories. Their lives were destroyed as well, just more slowly.

Lépine was clear: He called the women he’d lined up in their classroom “feminists.” He hated feminists, he shouted at his victims.

Newspapers and TV of the day didn’t take the view that this was an act of violence against women, nor did the City of Montréal or the University, with which the school is associated.

Only this year has the memorial in Montréal been updated to reflect our understanding that there is something particularly vicious about an attack singling out one class of persons and to officially acknowledge that this was an act of misogynist violence.

Now, thirty years later, we have barely progressed in our attitudes.

I’ve spoken many times of the meme of Hillary Clinton talking on a cell phone, which had been captioned, “Shut the bitch up,” a disturbing and overtly violent call to action.

Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former Minister of Environment and Climate Change from 2015, endured verbal abuse and ridicule which culminated with the defacing of her constituency office with the word “CUNT” in foot-tall letters.

Here’s some of the hatred she’s endured on Twitter:


@LiberalsSuck321 wrote, “I’m a female and I can’t stand her. My 5yo granddaughter is smarter than her.”

In direct response to the graffiti, @CJSparks9 wrote, “Shoe fits….”

@DavidQuint35 replied, “awww climate Barbie is sad because most of Canada can’t stand her. Get over it lady and go pound rocks.”

And @Ryan61665295 wrote, “F–king c–t   Prob put there by sombody who list there house and everything they own and can’t feed there kids because of the changes you’ve made so abruptly to the way people make a living in this country.  So ya f–k you you f–king joke of a human.   Lie some more.”


Notice something interesting here: The first post (assuming it’s not just a troll or a bot) is by a woman. Compare it to the other posts, by men: They are exponentially more aggressive and “personal” compare to the woman’s “can’t stand her.” They display a level of grievance that is excessive, far too nasty or bitter to be explained by anything McKenna had done or said.

Now recall the vilifying of sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, admirably speaking out globally against climate change. She was vilified and mocked by angry white men who even used her autism as a way of saying that she was “crazy” and with an edge of hysteria that she could not be controlled.

This is the fresh red meat at the centre of the maze. Lépine—and the driver of the van who killed women in North York— didn’t kill women because they were making more money or voting or getting promotions or winning elections. He killed because women’s autonomy meant they were not sexually available to him. He could not control their bodies; therefore he took revenge on their bodies.

Women still pay the price for public visibility and, frankly, for the immaturity, anxieties and sexual frustrations of heterosexual men. Men have to grow up, learn that self-control is the marker of mature manhood, and admit that women are not and never have been the cause of men’s problems and failures.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women doesn’t just commemorate one tragic event. It is a call to reflect on the violence perpetrated on the world’s women on a daily basis. It is a call to take violence against women seriously, and for men to question our assumptions, beliefs and actions. It is a call for men to find out how to be “real men” in a way that does not require the subjugation of women.

It is a call for heterosexual men to examine how women’s power is inherently greater than men’s in the emotional and sexual realms. It is a call for heterosexual men to learn how to support each other and how to redefine manhood so that it doesn’t require exerting power over women.

Men have failed women every time we are entitled, angry, disrespectful or abusive.

We have failed every time we fail to treat women as equals in the workplace and political sphere.

We have failed women by pontificating about birth control and reproductive rights and having the poor judgment to unilaterally impose limitations on women’s physical autonomy and self-realization.

We have failed women by violating them physically and emotionally, by treating them as less than men, by discounting them, by refusing equal pay and equal opportunity, by considering them less capable and less intelligent.

We have failed women in every way. To admit this isn’t “unmanly.” Real men admit their mistakes and make amends. To make amends will mean men coming to terms with giving up power.

At 5:10 PM, on December 6th, it’s good to observe a minute of silence for the women murdered by Mark Lépine. Then go out in the world and do three things:

Listen to women. Listen to what they say about their experiences. Believe them especially when they say they have experienced abuse or sexual assault.

Notice how women are treated. Read about the initiatives by women worldwide to ensure girls and young women have access to education and protection.

Speak out against misogyny wherever and whenever you encounter it. Don’t let a single incident pass.

Honor women and they will save the world.

Trudeau Liberals Implement Electoral Reform By Announcing Imaginary PR Voting Outcomes

+PLUS+ Alberta seeks alternative to “elite, east-rising sun that doesn’t represent our values.”


“I’m sooo happy for you if it had been fair!”

IN A SURPRISE MOVE THAT HAS LED many disillusioned Canadians to reassess their negative opinions of Justin Trudeau, the re-elected prime minister has finally implemented promised electoral reform by taking every opportunity to emphasize how much better the outcome would have been in a proportional representation (PR) model.

The change of heart was prompted by the knowledge that the Conservative Party had received approximately 250,000 more actual votes than the Liberals; however, in Canada’s dreaded, disenfranchising, first-past-the-post system, it’s constituency seats, not votes, that constitute the final tally.

Chrystia Freeland, newly-minted Deputy PM, and managing a specially-created portfolio as Minister of Intergovernmental Relations Which Would Already Be Fine if it Weren’t for Alberta, announced the long-awaited restructuring at a press conference just a couple of weeks after the Liberals formed a minority government.

“The Liberals officially won the most seats and a clear mandate to once again give Canadians that comfortable familiarity they crave: A Person Named Trudeau forging ahead doing the opposite of whatever he promised, or just dropping everything like a hot potato and getting mired in obscure bureaucratic or procedural scandals that no one can figure out and that, frankly, aren’t even remotely exciting,” Freeland explained.

“Today I’m also very pleased to point out that, in a proportional representation model, the Conservatives would have formed the government. Yes, that’s according to the actual popular vote, and boy, are we ever happy for them!”

She continued, “I know that I speak for Justin Trudeau and all the other members of Cabinet when I extend our sincere congratulations to Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives for their thrilling victory had the circumstances been fair and democratic. Way to go, Andy!

“As for the official Elections Canada win that wasn’t really a win, well—what can I say! Phew! Close one! It is what it is!”

The New Democratic Party Leader, Jagmeet Singh also weighed in on the results.

“I’m absolutely over the moon that, under a system that would actually have made people believe it was worth getting out of bed to participate, we would have doubled our seats to fifty-four instead of losing some of the seats we already had!” he said to roars of delight from his supporters.

“Obviously my strategy of seeing what the other dudes’ policies were and then Tweeting that we darn well hoped they were actually going to put those policies into practice—or not put them into practice, depending—or else, worked. Or sometimes the alternative strategy of just re-Tweeting what they said with a “yes siree!” or a “no way!”, which is my preference for the days when I’m just too stressed out to handle this political shit.

“I’m sooooo happy for us if the system were an accurate reflection of the wishes of Canadian citizens and not just a frustrating waste of valuable time that you could have spent on Facebook complaining! Awesome work, team!!”

Former Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who resigned after the Greens’ dismal showing at the polls added, “I’m in shock! Though it didn’t actually happen because of our outdated, irrelevant voting model, the thought that we could have had twenty-two seats instead of three is just… Well, I’m humbled”.

Choking back tears of joy, she added, “These imaginary alternative results have vindicated my firm belief that, even if the candidate were a one-legged armadillo, somebody, somewhere will vote for it, as long as you use the word “green”.

“In this fantasy I also don’t resign as party leader, instead I’m simply added to the “endangered species” Red List. Then I travel back in time to be crowned Prom Queen, my parents can afford dental appointments, and all of Canada is vegan and off drugs ‘cold turkey,’ no pun intended.

“The Greens: Your Life Will Become Unmanageable,” “Just Say No to Global Partying” and “Oh, Yeah, Climate Change, Whatever” were obviously great slogans that totally resonated with voters—in a system that wouldn’t make you feel like your vote was just flushed down the toilet, except that’s not the system we have.”

However, there was one new non-existent result that should give regular Canadian centrist voters pause. Maxime Bernier’s right-wing People’s Party of Canada (PPC), which based its nationalist platform on anti-immigrant sentiment, would have made gains in the new, “this is just to rub your nose in it, not-in-our-lifetimes” PR system, from zero seats to six.

Moderates vastly preferred the actual current result, where the PPC and its leader don’t exist.

When asked for comment, Bernier replied,

« Ploof! That crazy Thunberg girl is responsible. Socialists! Anti-business climate alarmists! Too much government! Over-spending! Immigrant quotas! Just look at her burqa! Enough is enough! Ça c’est fucké, heins ? »

Then Mr Bernier and all his supporters climbed into a Volkswagen van and drove away.


There is disillusionment In alberta post election, as well as the feeling, common to privileged teenagers, that no one cares or understands and that life is meaningless.

Here’s why: Alberta for decades has relied heavily on limitless, highly-priced oil and gas sales to fund their provincial programs.

Most recently, Trudeau sucked up to the petulant province by agreeing to move forward with the Keystone XXL Pipeline, even though this seemed to undercut his own federally-mandated carbon tax, his commitment to the Paris Accord, his returning all his empties to The Beer Store, and any other green initiatives he might think up on the spur of the moment while setting the trash cans outside Rideau Cottage.

But those ornery Albertans were having none of it.

“Trudeau thinks he can soften us up by giving us just one measly environmentally disastrous and insensitive-to-indigenous-culture oil pipeline so we can continue to prop up the world-wide petroleum vector of waste, greed, global warming and corruption, but we see right through his insincere kow-towing!” said Ginger Spill, Head of Communications for the Oil & Gas ♥ You So Much! Club, an industry-sympathetic think tank.

“Trudeau knows very well that he simply can’t continue to fob us off with his Ottawa condescension and half-way measures. We want nothing less than total capitulation to our demand that Canada officially renounce carbon reduction efforts, based as they are on the random opinions of a few thousand gas-hating fake scientists. Our soon-to-be-obsolete jobs are at stake, here!”

In fact, Alberta has become so angry at perceived slights from Ottawa that separatist sentiment is at an all-time high, with the province threatening to “repatriate” social services and even migrate its Canada Pension Plan to be administered locally.

Ms. Spill continued, “We don’t need the rest of Canada! We have oil and gas, which will keep us living high on the hog well into the next couple of years! We’re thinking oil and gas burgers, oil and gas high schools, oil and gas country & western radio stations, oil and gas internet, and oil and gas traditional marriages!

“You know what else? We’re sick of you guys shining that bright light on us every morning! We don’t need some elite eastern sunrise, making our eyes hurt and mocking our values, telling us when you think it’s OK to get up, when it’s appropriate to have a shot of corn mash whiskey, or encouraging the gays to sing “You are the Sunshine of My Life” at their gay weddings!

“Screw your leftie, socialist propaganda about taking our hard-earned money and giving it all way to other people and your green-this and green-that boondoggle! We’re gonna stick it to Turdeau and his band of bureaucratic, job-killing Libs.

“From now on, every morning, per our schedule, Jason Kenney will stand at the top of the Calgary Tower, pull down his waders, bend over and spread his butt cheeks. He can do it ass-east, ass-west, ass-north or ass-south ’cause we’re sick of being Mister Nice Guy Co-operative! Whatever comes outta his ass and from wherever is all the sunshine we’ll ever need!

“Now we just gotta work out how to manage the moon at night.”

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New Blackface Fridays Prove Popular with Trudeau Cabinet

+PLUS+ No Treatment On the Horizon for “CRUD” (Canadian Refusing to Undermine Democracy)


The Trudeau Cabinet’s new tradition: Lighten the heck up, dudes, it’s just a party!

Justin Trudeau, fresh from his “win” of the Canadian Federal Election, has capitalized on Canadians’ surprisingly laid-back response to his infamous blackface pics by instituting “Blackface Fridays,” the new Parliamentary equivalent of corporate casual days.

“Canadians used their common sense,” he explained, “and perfectly understood that I was in no way acting out like an entitled child of privilege or being utterly tone deaf by smearing on the boot polish and shoving a fake Arabian Nights turban on my head while posing with a bevy of well-stacked babes. They realized it was just a party, dudes! Also that white people called Trudeau can do any old thing they want!”

He continued, “So to help everyone lighten the heck up a bit, I’ve mandated that my entire cabinet go blackface every Friday while Parliament is in session. Anyone who objects will answer to me, get an undeniable pinch on the ass and have to sit in ‘Jody Corner’ for a time out and some well-intended pressure. It’s gonna be awesome!

The blackface pictures, oddly enough first revealed by TIME Magazine — an American publication with absolutely no connections whatsoever to Rebel Media or any other right-wing influencers like Ezra Levant or anything — came to light by sheer coincidence as the countdown to the Canadian election had begun. This caused several Canadians to shake their heads and react violently by quickly calling up something actually interesting on the internet, like whatever ridiculous flapdoodle Trump tweeted today or the latest episode of “Schitt’s Creek”.

Nonetheless, despite worldwide tut-tutting and general condemnation of the pics, Trudeau won in a landslide loss of the popular vote to the Conservatives, technically termed a “Minority Government.” Even though he clearly lost. Or not. Anyway, he’s Prime Minister, what the heck, eh? Or possibly unofficial Leader of the Opposition, depending entirely on your point of view.

To gauge where Canadians’ heads were at after Trudeau’s historic win-loss, we spoke with random typical voter Franklyn D. Gallagher as he left an Ottawa Tim Hortons with his double double and maple glazed.

“Holy cow, was there an election?” he exclaimed. “Seriously? Damn, cause I woulda voted for that Wilfred Laurier if he was still in the running! Or maybe Lester Pearson! But I nodded off during ‘Don Messer’s Jubilee’ last Boxing Day after Milly forced that extra portion of President’s Choice ‘What the Dickens Figgy Pudding’ on me! I nearly bust a gut!

“Blackface pictures? Well, what are ya gonna do, eh? The rules go, vote for the guy who’s not the Conservative, and/or the Person Called Trudeau, whichever comes first, except in Alberta in which case do the opposite. If Pierre did it there’s gotta be a good reason for it! Sorry, I meant Diefenbaker! He was always one for the youthful shenanigans!”

But Shirley Otowabe, recently expelled from Hull, Québec on pain of death after several whistleblowers called the Laicity Hotline Laicité about her traditional Nigerian costume, had a different take on our partyin’ PM.

“I was scared at first,” she admitted. “How in hell would the Liberals pull off their inevitable win this time? Luckily our first past the post system kicked in to give the Liberals victory, even with a quarter million less votes than the Conservatives! I praise Jesus I live in a country with free and democratic elections as long as Alberta takes it up the ass!

“A quarter million voters!” she repeated, her big golliwog eyes bugging out from her face as she did a traditional ‘jazz hands,’ then regaled us with a chorus of Swanee on her banjo. “Why, Mammy, that’s like all the Maritimes plus the audience at ten Las Vegas Céline Dion concerts! How do they get away with it?” And she sashayed away, trailing her hand along the wrought iron fences and murmuring, “I don’t know nuttin’ about electin’ no Andrew Scheer, uh-huh! It ain’t fittin,’ y’all!” *

*(She didn’t really walk away like that. She walked away normally, just like anyone else. I just said she did the Butterfly McQueen/Gone With the Wind thing because, a) it’s so friggin’ hilarious, right? and b) also I’m white so I knew I could get away with it.)

Only Jody Wilson-Raybaud, former Attorney General, had any negative comments about the newly-declared Parliamentary tradition. Even though she was still crying after her bullying by “the big boys in senior year,” followed by her week of morning detention which was, like, totally unfair, she bravely agreed to overcome her debilitating social anxiety and speak with us.

We caught up with Wilson-Raybaud as she enjoyed an unpaid coffee break from her job stocking shelves at a pharmacy in British Columbia, which she described to us as “desensitization therapy,” before prefacing her comments with a big, mucus-y sniffle.

“No one is paying any attention to me, or even to the plight of indigenous peoples, least of all Trudeau,” she told us between pitiful sobs. “Just tell me, where are the pics of him in full native feathered headdress and buckskin boots, with some big busty squaws in hot pants knocking back the Ice Wine shooters? Hmmm? I rest my case.”

Her mouth was quivering again and she stared into space, no doubt reliving the terrible trauma of doing a grown-up job. “That big old meanie!!” she wailed, in a veiled reference to Justin Trudeau or possibly some other big, scary man in Cabinet, then collapsed screaming while beating her fists and heels on the floor.

Did Wilson-Raybaud see anything at all postive in Justin’s kinda-sorta-almost victory?

“Well,” she replied, interrupting her tantrum and biting her lower lip as silent tears coursed down her cheeks. “Sales of cleansing and rejuvenating charcoal masks and white lip salve are off the charts. Could someone pass me the Kleenex?”


ARE YOU CANADIAN? DID YOU cast a vote in the recent Federal Election? And did you vote for the party whose leader you actually thought would make the best PM? Did you vote, in other words, according to your conscience, or did you vote strategically?

Though you pelt me with soapstone carvings until I scream for mercy, I must confess that I did the unthinkable.

I voted for the New Democrats. I know, I know. What kind of sick individual would put the nation in jeopardy for such a narcissistic, self-serving whim?

If you’re non-Canadian, I hasten to explain that Canada wasn’t in great peril because my choice was a poor one, or because the New Democratic Party was unfit to govern.

Jagmeet Singh was the party leader with the most progressive platform and who showed the most transparency, intelligence and sensitivity while also being unfraid to stand up for Canadian values. He spoke up whenever Canadians accidentally showed subtle signs of being racist, for example, while campaigning in New Brunswick, when that guy said,

“Where do them wogs get off, running for PM with some goddamned turban on their head? Don’t they know they’re putting themselves in danger if someone throws a bomb at ’em and they’re not wearing a safety helmet? Besides, there’s little bugs runnin’ around under those things! If one a them nig-nogs came canvassin’ at my door, I’d dive under the sofa till they was gone, then spray the whole front porch with RAID!

“Who am I gonna vote for? Is this Alberta? OK, then you know the drill. It’s whoever ain’t the Conservatives and/or the person called Trudeau, whichever comes first! Whoever that is!”

Singh responded with the righteous fire of an Old Testament prophet or, you know, whatever Sikhs have as an equivalent.

“Sometimes when people say hasty, unkind things they don’t really mean,” he retorted in a tentative, barely-audible voice, “my friends get, you know, like, upset. I wouldn’t want to mention any names, and maybe I’m right or maybe I’m wrong, but I’m talking about things said by people that are similar to what someone has said who is maybe standing, or maybe not, pretty close to me. Not to point any fingers or anything. Who am I to judge!”

Watching the results trickle in on polling day, I realized what a close call the election had been. My vote mattered!

Except it didn’t matter for electing the party whose leader I thought was the best, only for not electing the party whose leader I hoped like hell wouldn’t win, but only if I voted for the party whose leader I hated only a little bit less, instead of the one I thought was the best.

Life returned to normal for a time, though I felt strangely ill at ease. Then, about a week after Trudeau’s win-loss, I awoke in the middle of the night drenched with sweat and with my heart pounding. I was wracked with guilt, and worse, I was haunted by dreams in which the Conservative Party had won and Andrew Scheer was mandating school prayer, criminalizing abortion and ordering the womenfolk to attend fittings for the official sensible shoes and calico dresses.

I’d no one to blame but myself. Because of my recklessly voting as though our electoral system worked, I’d contracted a severe case of CRUD: Canadian Refusing to Undermine Democracy.

I realized that by voting my conscience I’d not only put my country in grave jeopardy, I’d cancelled out the votes of my parents, my grandparents, my entire extended family throughout its entire history, Laura Secord, Wayne Gretsky, my friends starting from my first day at kindergarten, plus the original barons who signed the Magna Carta, and every other loyal Canadian who couldn’t hack the thought of Andrew Scheer as PM, and did the right, unselfish thing: Strategically voting for the Liberals.

When I think what might have happened if everyone had voted their conscience, honestly appraising the merits of the various leaders and disregarding our dysfunctional electoral system, I die with shame.

But before I die with shame, I have that sinking feeling you get when you reach the sixty-second floor of your condo building, the elevator doors open, then the cable snaps and the emergency brakes fail, leaving you plunging to your death at the bottom of the shaft, while you realize with horror that your entire life has been totally in vain.

A big gin and tonic helps.

I also have attacks of CRUD when I wake up in the night needing to pee, or just basically at any time when I forget about my disability and stop moving.

But I’ve learned my lesson. I promise: I’ll never, ever, vote according to my conscience again.

Because cynicism — about politicians, about elections, about voting, about democracy in general, about getting involved, about even the value of striving for equality, fairness and justice for all citizens — is as Canadian as beaver tails.

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I Am #Boomer, Hear Me Lecture! +PLUS+

Don Cherry: Don’t feel sorry for this outdated relic of a dumber, whiter, less inclusive time


A collage featuring Don Cherry, a poppy and some Muslim servicemen and their families.
“YOU PEOPLE”

To kick off today’s in-depth exploration of the obvious, let me ask you a question: Who gives a flying fuck about a miserable, bigoted, old white guy sportscaster with bad taste in clothing and worse taste in philosophy?

As it happens, I’m the first one hundred people who reply: Not me, Murgatroyd McGraw. Look—pockets empty. Not a single fuck left to give. But it is Christmas season coming. Ask me again on Boxing Day. Or, better yet, Epiphany!

For those of you not privy to, or interested in, the finer points of Canada’s sports world and its personalities, let it be known that Don Cherry worked—the past tense is deliberate— for decades as a sportscaster for Sportsnet, a subsidiary of Rogers Media. He was and is known for his ridiculously garish suits, his supposed dudely brilliance in the area of hockey coaching, playing and announcing, and his tough, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is 80-year-old heterosexual male bluster, which is just as tedious and backward and unapologetically, ear-splittingly raucous as you might expect.

Unfortunately, on Remembrance Day, Mr Cherry removed the puck from his mouth, became confused, and inserted both his feet instead.

Live on Sportsnet, Mr Cherry offered his opinion that “immigrants” were not buying enough red poppies and wearing them to honor the fallen, an opinion completely lacking in any factual basis.

“You people, you like our country, you like our milk and honey, you could at least spend a couple of bucks on a poppy and wear it.”

— Don Cherry

Let’s unpack this:

You people. You people who are immigrants, you people who are physically different, you people who aren’t white, you people with your funny clothes and accents, you people who are taking over, you people who want hand-outs, you people who are lazy, when you’re not you people taking all the jobs, you people who aren’t Christians, you people who aren’t real Canadians.

It’s astonishing how much hurt, hatred and damage can be packed into two little words. It’s shameful that someone can have missed the point so completely and thought it would be acceptable to make such a demeaning, patronizing, divisive and, yes, racist comment live on national television.

Rogers Media issued a statement apologizing for Cherry’s remarks, then fired his saggy white ass.

Predictably, middle-aged white guys are up in arms—well, actually, they’re in their La-Z-Boy recliners swilling Labatt’s 50—because Don Cherry got fired for stating his opinion. Freedom of speech!

But how was his freedom of speech curtailed? He said exactly what he wanted to say. Or is what you want to protect really freedom of speech without repercussions?

In the end, as I say ad nauseum, there is no such thing as complete freedom of speech, or of anything, for that matter; every freedom must be balanced with others’ freedoms, considering the common good. Freedoms come with adult responsibilities not to cause harm to individuals or to society.

But go ahead, Don, say whatever the hell you like, in private. I just don’t understand why you’re so damn proud of it.



And while I’m on this particular rant, let me take this opportunity to bemoan the hegemony of professional sports. (Sportsarchy?)

Hockey may be your national identity, fellow Canadian, but it ain’t mine. Please note that there are at least several of us who are not knuckle-dragging homophobes with no front teeth.

Sports is supposed to be the great leveler, a way for citizens to bond and feel a common cause. The whole gung-ho, well-rounded, wave your team’s flag and get shit-faced pro sports boondoggle reminds me of those Fascist parades with girls spinning Swedish medicine balls and precocious boys with way too much muscular development for their age. As Noam Chomsky has suggested, it’s a way to keep us occupied with something useless but addictive, anything that stops us thinking deeply about our world and fills up the time we’d be better off using for activism.

As excited as everyone is for me to be a “joiner,” I have always sashayed to the beat of my own drummer, or karaoke machine, depending on the night of the week. We don’t need to reduce everything to the highest common factor and dumb everything down until we’re spitting out our broken incisors and talking like Donald Trump, who’s made President of the United States, the most powerful position in the world, into a massive, developmentally-challenged fifteen-year-old’s macaroni picture that you stick on the fridge door.

In Canada, we have other pursuits besides holy hockey. For winter sports, climb onto a circular aluminum toboggan and swirl down the hill behind the primary school, right out into the oncoming traffic. Personally, I’m hot for skating with my ankles bent inward at a forty-five degree angle, and stopping myself by slamming into the cold, wet walls of the ice rink, or a concrete arch, if I’m in Nathan Phillips Square.

And culture, forever underfunded and relegated to “the elites,” is on our radar, too. Curl up with Margaret Atwood’s latest dystopian saga, a bottle of Seconal and some razor blades, or watch something by David Cronenberg involving people with new orifices growing out of their necks, a nasty sex virus and a posse of wise-cracking, animatronic bugs.

Sometimes I play the piano of an evening. And, trust me, no one was telling Beethoven, “You should get out more, Ludwig. You’ll never find your beloved—immortal, hanging on for dear life, or even prone to occasional nasty chest colds—sitting at home scratching out these—watchamacallilt, symphonies. Honestly, you really think Napoleon is gonna listen to this shit for an hour? My crazy Komponisten! Go out, live a little! Be a joiner! Fancy a Jagermeister jello shot? What? Oh, you mean I have to write that all down?

But most of all, I love to spend time at the Canadian Opera Company, where at any given performance you’ll find more combat, gore and hysterical screaming than you could shake a Zamboni at, but nothing aimed at your head that’s more dangerous than a high E-flat.

And there, resplendent in Balcony Three, and Canadian as all-get-out in my bow tie and loafers, I’ll stay.


I never thought I’d be in a position to complain about an entire generation being too concerned with getting things right. And I never envisaged the possiblity that this same generation, raised with LCD crystal displays for eyes and a 404 Not Found error message where their emotional intelligence should be, would feel empowered to talk back so sassy to their elders.

I’m interested in the mindset of perfectionism, seeing that this behavior is supposed to be the Achilles heel of Virgo, my astrological sign, and stop putting your hand over your mouth when you titter, I’m not fooled.

Over the past five to 10 years, Young People (which is everyone at least one year younger than me, just so we’re on the same page) sacrificed an entire country, the United States of America, on the altar of “if I can’t have Bernie, I don’t want nobody, baby” and during the same time Republicans, determined to thwart Obama’s every proposal, refused to engage the primary engines of democracy, namely, compromise and consensus. Frankly, I’ve begun to despise the entire concept of insisting on the most perfect manifestation of your ideals, up to and including the end whose bitterness is a foregone conclusion.

Here’s an example I stumbled on recently, in an online rag with a definite tilt to the far left called “Common Dreams.” It’s a short read, if you care to, is entitled

Obama’s Endorsement of Trudeau
Highlights Class Unity of the 1 Percent

and takes for its premise: “if Barack Obama truly cared about endorsing a progressive economic leader, or even a leader of colour just like him, he could have chosen Jagmeet Singh of the left-wing New Democratic Party. But he didn’t.”

(The link above opens a new tab. Of course it does! Jeezus. Who do you think this is, ol’ Grampa Wilkinson with the rosy-apple cheeks and his Princess telephone from 1971?)

Ah, to be young and dewy-eyed again! If it ain’t one hundred percent perfect, goes the sentiment, then we’ll take our votes (endorsement, goodwill, high fives or whatever benefit would have been forthcoming) and go home.

According to this mindset, for Obama to endorse Trudeau can only mean one thing: they’re part of an international cabal of the one percent (how much is Bernie Sanders worth, again?); and Trudeau’s lifting out of poverty of 300,000 children is just slight of hand to distract us from his….? What? Helping Hillary at the pizza parlour?

I’m as dumbstruck and angry as you about corruption and economic inequality—just ask Canada Revenue Agency—but good reporting, even good opinions, don’t result from taking a holier-than-thou stance then cramming the facts into it like an ugly sister’s foot into a glass slipper.

I dunno, is it possible that Obama holds progressive views, Justin holds progressive views, they’re great friends and Barack truly believed he was the best choice for Canadian Prime Minister (not that we vote directly for the prime minister, we vote for a party, as I keep reminding everyone in my snippy, know-it-all way)?

What’s Obama supposed to do? Endorse everyone so they won’t be hurt, like mom buying all the kids the same Christmas toy?

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party and a political novice, appears to be a man of great integrity, and demonstrated real leadership and finesse throughout his campaign, especially the way he handed Blackface-gate.

However, the idea of Barack Obama endorsing Jagmeet made me choke on my maple-glazed donut. It would be like Barack Obama endorsing Marianne Williamson for President, or doing a commercial for the Segway: utterly bizarre, laughable, a pity endorsement.

The New Democrats have never held power federally. Ever. Not in my entire lifetime and before and beyond. And Jagmeet Singh is a promising progressive voice, but with almost no experience. Normally we endorse a product that we’ve used and that we know works. Kind of thing?

Canadians definitely know how our dysfunctional first-past-the-post electoral system works, i.e. with results weirdly disconnected from the actual numerical vote count and with most of the parties ending up with few or no seats in Parliament. Is it any wonder that many voters feel that their participation was a waste of effort? In Ontario, after a year enduring the awful oppression of Conservative premier Doug Ford’s “balanced budget” (translation: cuts to essential services), we weren’t about to let the Conservatives and their dissembling leader, Andrew Scheer, anywhere near the driver’s seat.

We voted strategically, holding our noses about the blackface pictures, for the Liberal Party. This past federal election was, for Canadians, desperately important. We had endured the Harper years, like Trump years currently, just quieter, and we needed to send a message about keeping our progressive image and values. We barely succeeded.

I’m also sorry to see yet another tiresome iteration of the Conservative baloney about SNC-Lavalin, our lame Canadian attempt at a scandal that would be user-friendly, not involve sex or drugs and get everyone to bed by ten PM after making hot chocolate, watching Peter Mansbridge, then brushing and flossing.

In this particular scandal involving the corrupt dealings with Middle Eastern clients of a Canadian firm, the Ethics Commissioner misinterpreted his own legislation to the extent that, were his interpretation followed to its logical conclusion, every tax break and every other incentive to any corporation would have to be judged a breach of ethics.

Then there was the “pressure.” The choice was: litigation or remediation (hefty fines). The legislation allowing remediation was tabled by the CONSERVATIVES. The execs at SNC had already done their time, and there was nothing to be gained by litigation except the probable loss of 9,000 jobs. That was the issue that caused Trudeau to “pressure” the Attorney General, Little Orphan Jody.

Imagine the blow-back if the company had folded due to the litigation. “Did no one see this coming?” everyone would have shouted. Well… yes. Justin. Can you say, “can’t win this one”?

Then of course, as soon as Trudeau shows any backbone and demotes her in a carefully-calibrated-to-be-obvious cabinet shuffle, it turns out it’s the wrong kind of backbone. He fired a woman! He must not be feminist after all! He fired a member of the Indigenous community! He’s racist!

Please. I’m as feminist and as supportive of Indigenous rights as it’s possible for a white male oppressor to be, and I’ll happily state that Jody Wilson-Raybould was incompetent and not up to the pressures of her appointment. If anything, Trudeau erred on the side of over-confidence in appointing her.

I’m disappointed with Trudeau’s having made empty promises; but to use what fell off the table to utterly discount his other significant achievements is unbalanced, unfair and maybe just the tiniest bit immature.

Remember this: Justin deliberately ran a deficit.

For a few decades, “austerity” (but only for the middle class) has been touted around the world like a regifted Christmas sweater and foisted on one unwilling citizenry after another. I nearly wept for joy when Justin declared that he was going to spend some money to take care of infrastructure and to stimulate the economy, and when he declared that running a deficit was OK.

To be OK with a deficit flouted economic dogma. To be OK with a deficit and even smile about it was just unseemly. To spend like a good old-fashioned Keynesian economist while all the world worships the golden calf of Milton Friedman was a big mud in yer eye to the austerity drones.

Everyone who fails to keep a promise isn’t part of a sinister cabal or just pretending to be progressive.

World leaders, if you haven’t noticed, have fairly full schedules, which includes responsibilities to all citizens.They also have to have, up to a point, rather stinky diplomatic relations with autocrats, which does not constitute condoning their actions, necessarily; and they must engage in other imperfect, messy, reality-based activities that nonetheless have concrete and positive results, such as promoting human rights both at home and abroad.

My heart sincerely goes out to Young People, who’ve been taught from birth to expect instant connections and even faster results, who’ve lost the art of subtle thinking in direct proportion to their disdain for reading and therefore history, which means re-inventing the wheel, with no benefit of context or any notion of degree, countless times in a day.

Young People have been saddled with moral, spiritual and geophysical debts of every kind just as the last of us boomers are preparing to leave spaceship earth, waving farewell with our angel wings and mouthing, “Good luck, suckers!”

We fucked up. Everything. Our fragile, wounded planet. The climate. How we raise children. Sex. The way we grow lima beans. Justice. Relationships. Choosing VHS instead of Betamax. Everything.

I know this. I literally tear up when I see the frustration and anger, above all, the lost innocence of the next generation as they realize, at way too young an age to fully understand its enormity, the grand larceny we’ve committed in the name of greed and profit.

And the white male oligarchs of greed and profit have no remorse. They react in outrage at outspoken Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old climate activist from Sweden, seeing in her nothing but teenage rebellion and lack of respect, when they should be begging for her forgiveness. She is the sad avatar of her generation, children forced prematurely into adulthood as they struggle to salvage something from the wreckage in order to live. They are the new chimney sweeps.

Nothing is perfect. Insults are not political argument. There are shades of grey for the same reason that there are emergency generators and the cloud. You need a Plan B. You need to keep what works and throw out what is not working. You can’t, and you don’t need to, throw out everything.

What works, what lubricates the gears of democracy?

Compromise. Consensus. Slow, gradual, incremental change is how liberalism works (unless your country will be underwater in ten years. That merits a bit more speed). Consider how France descended into the Terror through rigid ideology that renamed the very months of the year and enforced its codes with the guillotine, and compare how England, stodgy and tradition-bound, established liberalism and true freedom through a slowly evolving concept of precedent and the inviolable rule of law.

The neoliberalism we hate is an ideology, not an economic theory. There is no such thing as a democratic ideology, because ideologies are rigid boxes. Neoliberalism is profoundly undemocratic.

So is revolution.

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