Friday, September 30, 2005

Into the Blue Reviewed

Managed, yesterday, to get a hold of a pair of tickets to a preview screening of Into the Blue at the Richmond and John Paramount. (Across the street from a much more estimable place, where I would recommend one or two viewings of this little masterpiece.) And, unlike my last experience of a film premier, I actually got to see the movie this time, and, alas!, there was no after-party with the Beyoncé Knowles/Britney Spears hybrid, Jessica Alba. (Though—now that I’ve seen ITB—I feel intimately, almost carnally, acquainted with her.)

My wife and I secured a set of very plum seats, dead centre of the theatre, but at the cost of being there nearly forty-five minutes early. So I distracted myself the while noticing that Toronto teenagers continue to be a very audacious breed of adolescent when it comes to appearances. Growing up in Ottawa I always found it curious (ridiculous, actually, is what I found it—and correctly so, I really must admit) that Hogtown fostered so many of an impressionable (but still, I can't help marveling, desperately self-conscious) age, willing to make themselves into fashion guinea-pigs. They looked silly then—conspicuously 16 trying to seem 21, in spite of the fact that no 21 year old could ever be found that bore any resemblance to them—and they look even sillier now ... And while I’m the tiniest bit impressed by their come-hell-or-high-water sense of daring, their total lack of shame precludes them altogether from any hope I might have for their generation of a future without hell or high water.

(Likewise this taste-defying vanity with a majority of gay men, apparently. And irrespective of age in their cases. Witness the (I guess it is meant to be) stylishly smushed faux-hawk, with the centre bit (i.e. the ‘hawk’ bit) bleached almost white on an otherwise dark-haired head, and a very tight, baby-blue collared shirt, left open to a pasty white and irregularly haired navel ... Just out to see a flick.)

After the first ten minutes of the movie my wife whispered to me that, perhaps, we weren’t its target demographic ... Indeed, no we weren't ...

But if you like frat boys relentlessly conversing in Ebonics; or if you like to see sallow, blonde hack actresses, two disastrous films from their pornographic début, delivering lines like “So when are you gonna stop trickin’ and start pimpin’?”—then this film, likely, will move you very deeply indeed. If you’re not too picky about even remotely original plots; or if you prefer your characters especially thin on character; or if you like not being surprised by the bits in a film that are meant to be surprising ... If, in short, you have no reason to see a film other than to have Jessica Alba’s bottom and (apparently, digitally enhanced) breasts gratuitously zeroed-in-on and invasively probed with your POV, then Into the Blue is, unquestionably, the movie for you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How do I love thee, Excellency? Let me dribble the ways!

What the hell is wrong with Andrew Coyne?! He’s been labouring so hard against type lately that he’s gone and fondled the new Governor General in today’s Post, the drooling pervert!

He begins his piece: “Madam, I surrender. Let us forget past criticisms. Let us put aside old quarrels. Your speech has collapsed my defences. You are my Commander-in-Chief.” Which, of course, I took to be his usual and very welcome tongue-in-cheekery (given the unmistakable triteness of yesterday’s speech), in preface to a nice bit of slagging of the newly minted Governor General. But, it turns out, these were the unironic throat-clearings of a veritable paean to the new viceregal and her installation banalities! He goes so far as to say that Mme. Jean’s speech was “note-perfect in tone, and transformative in content.” … I mean!

I reassure myself that Mr. Coyne has, likely, just fallen victim to a phenomenon that is forgivably common to us all: he got his expectations so cynically low in anticipation of the new Governor General’s speech[1] that even the dungloaf presented him in the end was a mild, and even delicately scented thing by comparison ... I often err similarly in the matter of movies—such that, to give an example, I still believe Anchorman to have been something verging on comic genius. (As a rule, you see, I have always had a low opinion of Will Ferrell.)

To be sure, though, it really was a dungloaf of a speech. Indeed, paragraphs 1, 3, 8 and 17 are so bizarrely solipsistic and self-promoting that one wonders if Mme. Jean was quite aware of the fact that she already was the Governor General, and that this wasn’t the required speech segment of the qualifying round … And the reference to “our young people … helping to redefine the great family we all belong to” was a rather too telling declaration of political alignment for a Governor General to be making, and was, I can’t help thinking, a very short step from some sort of equally thin-veiled remark about ‘a woman’s right to choose.’

Thank God for Barbara Kay, who not only saw through Michaëlle Jean’s little speech, but hit the nail very squarely upon the head in her identification of what makes the new GG fall detrimentally short of the viceregal mark.

(And, to get back to Coyne, I think he’s too spiteful in re. old Gilles Duceppe. Between the two of them, I think they’ve supplied some very fine, and very constructive criticisms of the country they’ve both come so much to loathe ... How sharper than a serpent's tooth, eh Gilles?)

[1] After all, he even tells us that he “expect[ed] to hear the usual banal bureaucratese, or worse, the coded appeals to regional and racial chauvinism … that have become the official language of Ottawa.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Better Overhead

Well, I must say that I'm very pleased with my new thing-at-the-top-of-the-page there. The thing with Ronald Knox's eyes staring out from it, I mean. The sketch (of RK's eyes), actually, is my own handiwork from ages ago, but everything else is my wife's: the proficiency with the myriad different softwares required to scan the image, crop and enlarge the eyes (and give them that lovely sepia tone wash), put in and fiddle with the text so's that it's all nice and balanced and eye-catching (without being eye-bashing); and the code-savvy to actually insert it (centred and everything!) onto the site. Very impressive stuff, and it totally makes-up for her tone deafness.

Also, you'll notice that the link colours have been changed to hues a little less obnoxious than what Blogger had them set for. But there are two things I can't bring myself to change: the orange of the post titles, and the page colour. The Ambler has warned me that "the scalding white background" is exhausting to readers, but I just can't get rid of it ... Likely, it's something to do with the fact that for those of us who are unlikely ever to find their words printed on real, actual paper, a digitally white page has a marvelously consoling effect.

... And failing the popularity of EMG, I can always use my title bar to brand a fashionable new coffee. Of course, Knox's eyes would have to be replaced with a more relevant set. Juan Valdez's.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hermès: God of Political Expediency

I see that Oprah Winfrey has brought closure (revolting word, I know, but just so appropriate) to the matter of her little set-to with Hermès this summer. What a fascinating study in how fat cats get fat and then fling their weight around Oprah is. She even had the irony to urge shame on "anybody for thinking that I was upset for not being able to get into a clothes store and buy a purse" ... But, if not that, then what the hell were you upset about, Oprah? The store was closed and, for this completely sufficient reason, a staff member turned you away. Simple dimple. The fact that people were still inside when you were told you couldn't join them is rather easily explained by the fact that ALL STORES DO THIS! They lock the doors at closing time, but give the remaining customers inside a ten or fifteen minute grace period before they are then required to leave too. That's the way it works. And it is preeminently, even gratuitously, fair!

But Oprah is angry because of a surmise that the rules might've been broken for her were she somebody else (or, more likely, were the offending Hermès employee somebody else--someone a little more grovelly to prima donna talkshow hosts). Which, maybe, is the tiniest bit understandable--at least to other infants, anyway--but is otherwise totally indefensible. I mean, it's like being angry that a policeman gave you a speeding ticket because he might've only given you a warning if he was in a different mood. Frustrating, perhaps. But that's all that it is or ever can be.

"Everybody who's ever been snubbed because you [sic] were not chic enough or the right class or the right color or whatever — I don't know what it was — you [sic] know that that is very humiliating and that is exactly what happened to me." Ah, me! The terrible burdens of extreme wealth and decadent living compounded of the devil's own pride. Only Oprah could be humiliated by something that happens to most people on a weekly basis. Still, one sees seeds here for the next great equal-opportunity crusade: in the ebb of the horrors of discrimination based on skin colour, behold the gorgon's head of discrimination based on skin thickness.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

From: Snook (The Elder) at Home

I was in a restaurant today having a spot of lunch, and I observed something particularly strange. It happened that at the table adjacent mine there sat a fellow of middle age, well-dressed[1], also solitarily scarfing down some binge, who was all of a sudden taken with a coughing fit of very admirable proportion. The episode culminated in the deposit of a lump of chewed food perfectly centrewards of an otherwise only half-finished plate of, I think it was, tuna sandwich and rather a lot of French fries.

This, of course, wasn't what was remarkable. I’ve played this role more than a few times myself in public eateries and I’ll thank you not to sneer. No, rather the remarkable bit was when this man, this coughing man, told the waiter—as though it was, in fact, the waiter’s fault and not his own that the food had ever got it into its head to get stuck in his—that he would eat neither the half-masticated regurgitation nor any of the rest of the dish. He insisted that it was disgusting and dismissed it altogether with a wave of his superior and, I hasten to add, gaudily bejewelled hand.

Well, I ask you! It came out of him, for God’s sake! If the spread of disease was his concern his problem shouldn’t have been so much with the food as his own mouth!

I saw all these thoughts cross the mind of the poor waiter, and I expressed my commiseration to him with a sympathetic wink and a shrug. ( ... Which, apparently, he took to mean something else.)

[1] I speak here of the “well” of expense, not of taste. I do live in Toronto.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Michael Ondaatje More Popular than Jesus

A meat ball made in a pressure cooker has a mild, acquiescent taste—the sort of taste which I imagine that a particularly forgiving Anglican missionary would have in the mouth of a cannibal. Your true meat ball is made of sterner stuff, and if he tastes of missionary at all he tastes like some stern Jesuit, who died dogmatizing.

-Samuel Marchbanks

I went to the ‘Save St. Stephen’s Concert’ last night—or stood on the Bellevue sidewalk anyway, with the other rabble, watching the proceedings digitally projected onto a bed sheet affixed to the church’s front wall.

Oddly[1], Sook-Yin Lee[2]—notorious, not too long ago, for the rumours that she would be starring in a piece of lay pornography directed by John Cameron Mitchell—emceed the event, which featured other such notables as Bruce Cockburn, Molly Johnson, Daniel Lanois, Michael Ondaatje and Jane Siberry … And, of course, my old friends Olivia Chow and Jack Layton.

Suffragan Bishop Phillip Poole was the first to speak, and he made the rather piquant observation that the situation facing St. Stephen’s could never have become so dire were the parish to see on most Sunday mornings such a turn-out as this, to catch a glimpse of a handful of barely middle-range Canadian celebrities. (Not quite what he said, but ...) Which made me wonder: is Michael Ondaatje more popular than Jesus Christ? He (Michael Ondaatje that is) never said so when he spoke—but that, of course, is his charm. Perhaps, I thought, if Our Lord had drawn a little less attention to His being the Son of God and, perhaps, if He had given the delivery of so many of His otherwise quite meritorious little parables a little more by way of lyrical nuance and understatement, maybe He shouldn’t find His church so forsaken now ... Hindsight, I guess, is twenty twenty. What worked to put bums on seats in the first century can hardly be expected to keep its appeal for two thousand years—

I was interrupted in these musings by a woman, clad in a huge white t-shirt—worn over, I eventually noticed, a more likely floral patterned dress—asking me if I should like one too (a t-shirt, not a dress) to commemorate the occasion. Not having the required twenty dollars I said no thank you, which didn’t seem to bother her too much. Pointing at the dozen or so pamphlets I was holding—which someone, inexplicably, had handed me a half hour earlier—she said “Of course, because … ” and I just nodded my head (not having the faintest clue why) and said “Exactly” and she moved on. It didn’t occur to me until about five minutes later that she had assumed from these pamphlets that I was a volunteer too. And, looking in the direction I’d observed her going off in, I could see her now, speaking with a fierce, administrative-looking type, and making clear motions my way. “They think I’m skiving off,” I thought, and quickly made a great show of pestering a couple of my neighbours to see if they would like a program. Five annoyed looks later—and a rather awkward moment where I was offered money—I perceived that I’d successfully drawn attention away from myself ...

Molly Johnson confessed in good humour that she was a “lapsed Anglican”; Jane Siberry tied herself in knots over the positive and negative energies at work in the gathering; Olivia Chow not only quoted Jesus, but misquoted him, twice; her husband kept on referring to St. Stephen's as a “facility,” said that it was an “incubator for community based solutions”; Michael Ondaatje invoked Balzac in his reduction of a church to its architecture; Sook-Yin Lee inspired the crowd with wisdom taken from a favourite Birds song, then said that St. Stephen's was “the most progressive church in Toronto.”

I paced Bellevue back to my car with a heavy tread.

[1] Or perhaps not so oddly, if you’re familiar at all with the current state of affairs in the Anglican Church of Canada.
[2] With, perhaps, the most absurd Wikipedia entry of all time—let me direct your attention, in particular, to the last line.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Tale of Two Pities

It was the worst of times, it was ... the worst of times. (Not so much an epoch of belief or of incredulity, as one of unbelief and credulity—a subtle but, I think you'll agree, rather fitting distinction.) ... On the one hand we argue for the segregation of black students in proposed black-only schools, on the other, we argue for the termination of government funded religious education. The latter, of course, receiving particular scrutiny now in light of Dalton McGuinty's most recent act of demagoguery; as Father Raymond De Souza put it in yesterday's Post "because we can't officially declare culture X to be deficient in any way, then all cultures [have been] penalized equally."

In today’s Post Adam Radwanski weighs in on the matter(s), suggesting that the Ontario government should do away with funding religious education altogether—rather than the alternative suggested reform of funding all religious education. He feels that, were the Ontario government to pursue the latter scenario, then “rather than growing up in the pluralistic society that exists around them, kids would be exposed to a narrow range of cultural backgrounds and perspectives.”

Alas, would that the exact same risk, indeed an even greater one, did not present itself as the necessary outcome of the solution he proposes. Indeed, it seems to me that Mr. Radwanski has failed utterly in his argument to take into account the glaring inevitability foreshadowed by Mr. McGuinty’s recent actions in re. religious arbitration. After all, we now know only too well—not just from the oft-invoked example offered us by France and its absurd injunctions prohibiting the wearing of hijabs and large crosses in schools, but from the very brazenness with which McGuinty made his (I believe it’s called) unilateral decision affecting all religious arbitration in the province—that the greatest threat to “cultural backgrounds and perspectives” in this province is the provincial government itself! And therefore, by extension, public education itself ... Unless, that is, I’m grossly mistaken in my interpretation of Radwanski’s use of the term “pluralistic society.”

Which, the more I think of it, I must be.

To be sure, the provincial government—ideologically aligned and, as it were, “moving forward” with its federal counterpart—has, with the upshot of this whole Sharia Law thing, just taken its proverbial shot across the bow of religious freedom in the province of Ontario. Hijabs and crosses may survive the ensuing cull but little of genuine substance will. (Little of what remains that is—which point I’ll get to in a second.) Here begins a test-tube culture, calling itself “pluralistic” for the (mind-bogglingly banal and soulless) reason that its constituent parts have different coloured skins, perhaps speak different languages. (Mr. Radwanski, apparently, has been keeping the tube warm for us.) We will no longer be our religions, we will no longer be our choices; we will be, as I say, our skin colours, and we will be, of course, (witness: the intrusion of the new secular sacrament) our genitals.

The irony of all this is that it actually creates a climate conducive to a reasoned acceptance of the sort of divisive (and, dare I say it, deeply racist) sophistry currently being entertained by the Toronto District School Board (see first link).[1] As ever, in the attempt to get beyond superficialities we fly back to them with a vengeance. Throw away the intellectual and spiritual labour of millennia for the crude blatancy of the one thing over which we have no control: the conditions of our birth.

But, reading Radwanski, you’d never know that Ontario was the province almost single-handedly responsible for the repeated election of a federal government that has done more to harm traditional organized religion in this country in the last twelve years than any other government before it. I wouldn’t be too worried about what a couple more government funded religious schools are going to do to a population wrapped so tightly in its secular blanket it couldn’t even see if the bed was on fire.

[1] For a comprehensive discussion of the particulars of this ignoble exercise in social engineering—so-called “Afrocentric learning”—see Angry in the Great White North here, here, and here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tideland Reviewed

Don’t ask me how, but I managed on Friday to get a hold of a ticket to attend a cast party for Terry Gilliam’s new film Tideland—the event following the film’s inaugural screening earlier that day.[1]

My wife drove me down—bitterly, obviously, as she wanted to go too … Alas! would that there had been two tickets, or that I wasn’t so unchivalrous—and we happened to pass, en route, Jack Layton and Olivia Chow. They were both dressed quite smartly and riding their bicycles in single file. Off to sling soup at the Scott Mission one assumes. I was sorely tempted to jerk the wheel from my wife’s grip and run them over, but thought better of it, and constrained myself to only puff my cigar out the window at them, laughing villainously.

The party was in a warehousy-type thing on Queen’s Quay and consisted of a largely indifferent collection of sort of vaguely recognizable faces. There was what’s-his-name—co-founder of Roots clothing—sticking his be-eyebrowed head out from a clutch of very attractive young women. (Daughters, perhaps? Well, it’s one thing to produce blonde and brunette from the same components—but what about that Vietnamese girl? From a different marriage, I assume. Divorce, after all, is a commonplace these days.) And there was what’s-her-name, formerly of the Polka-Dot Door, now (apparently) of some soap opera or other. “And dude from Felicity”—this intelligence from one of my companions. I wouldn’t know.

Only three persons that I could see had names. Terry Gilliam, Jeff Bridges, and Jennifer Tilly. Gilliam was the only one that interested me, but—satisfied with a ten second, uninterrupted view of his profile from about twelve feet away—when it was suggested by my equally reluctant companions that we should find ourselves a nicely deserted corner somewhere to unselfconsciously drink our faces off, I could make no reasonable objection.

Why, then, did I bother attending? Why, for the luxury of being able to have so little to say about it, of course. Call me the Beau Brummel of celebrity gossip.

(Besides, how many of you can say that Terry Gilliam ever got you sauce-panned? I never even met the guy, but he thought it was important to fill me up to puking with drink ... No biggy.)

[1] Which, unfortunately, I was unable to also manage tickets for. I realize this makes my title rather misleading, but here: I have it on good authority that the film’s pretty “crazy.” (“Cra-zay” was the word, actually.) I leave it to you to decide whether or not that qualifies the film as a one thumb up or a two.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Shock(ingly) and Awe(fully stupid, Jim!)

What Jim Taylor insists on calling the “inescapable” irony of New Orleans’ current predicament in the “land of ‘shock and awe’” is completely lost on me. I mean, is the suggestion meant to be that hurricane-smashed Louisiana is uncannily like war-torn Iraq? Alas: not even remotely, Jim my dear. The absence of assault by manned aircraft over Louisiana, and the absence of water-submerged homes in Iraq will rather clearly attest to this. That, and all the other completely obvious details that make the events about as similar as chalk and cheese.

I think I understand irony well enough, and I think I understand what constitutes a valid parallel well enough. Well enough, indeed, to be able to say with some confidence that Jim Taylor has only the most rudimentary and fumbling understanding of either. Honestly, for good measure, I'm surprised he didn’t throw into his irrational little word-concoction a couple of references to the Holocaust and Karla Homolka.

One trepidatiously wonders what inescapable irony the man could jerry-rig to the discovery, say, of a dead body on the banks of London( Ontario)’s Thames river ... “Well, there’s been no hurricane, and there’s been no war, but there’s still this dead body. So, er … er … What terrible irony! Yes, that’s it! Here we are, a bunch of complacent Canadians sitting on a great heap of laurels when, apparently, people are dying on the shores of the Thames! I’m shocked! … And, it occurs to me, I’m awed, by the sight of this dead body—and so, er, what bitter and, er, inescapable irony that I should be so affected when one considers that this country borders the one that coined the very term ‘Shock and Awe’!” etc.

The man’s worked himself up into such a lather over the mere specter of what he’s calling irony that I doubt if there’s a single key left on his keyboard that doesn’t squelch when it’s pressed. And thus--if I may say so, slightly ad hominen--I think, it is sound deduction to assert that Jim Taylor has never actually seen a dead body in his life. Else, that is, the consequent hysteria should long ago have either killed him or made him into a grown-up. (And, being that neither, evidently, is the case now ... QED.)

It is also, I think, a fair enough deduction to say that Jim Taylor holds some rather shockingly backward views with regard to black people. He burbles: “It is no coincidence that almost to a man -- or woman -- the looters who rampaged through the city's streets, stripping stores, shooting at police and turning New Orleans into a scene from Apocalypse Now, were black. People who had spent their lives as society's doormats now ignored the service entrance and were attempting to kick in the front door ... And we couldn't help but notice that people crammed into buses for long trips to nowhere were almost all black. And the masses huddled on bridges, jammed into sports venues, sitting on levees, holding signs with help us scrawled on them, all black.”

(Good God, man! Is this how we disguise/defend a very clear accusation that black people are predisposed to serious criminal behaviour? By implying that, what?, apparently, white republicans drove them to it?)

First, Jim, let’s have a look at a couple of facts: New Orleans is nearly 70% black. That makes the remaining non-black population a trifling 30%. That means, Jim, that a representative cross-section of pre-hurricane New Orleans residents—say, 40 people (yes: do the math; see them there in your mind’s eye)—would also not only appear to be “almost all black,” they would quite literally be “almost all black.” It is, therefore, and as you say, “no coincidence” that the majority of the city’s looters and refugees were black. But not, it really must be emphasized, predisposed to criminal behaviour and without alternative living arrangements because they are black, so much as because, statistically, a not inconsiderable fraction of so large a whole must be so predisposed. Irrespective of colour. 70% of New Orleans, Jim, is 328,322 people. That’s a-lot-a-lot-a people ...

But the man clearly means more by what he says. The implication is that all New Orleans’ black residents are poor and destitute (are “society’s doormats”) and that they are so (and were so prior to the hurricane) because they are black.

Again: let’s have a look at those facts, shall we? If 29% of New Orleans residents live under the poverty level—and even, let’s say, if all of that 29% were black (which it most assuredly isn’t)—that figure doesn’t account for even half of the city’s black population! Only the weakest kind of reasoning could derive from these ungainly stats clear evidence that there is any determining relationship between colour and class in this scenario. (Let alone between colour and propensity to criminal behaviour!)

And, I’m sorry, but if the looters were predominantly white, I’m willing to bet that we shouldn’t have given the matter so much as a second thought, as we’d realize that, as human beings, given a bulk of us—say 328,322 of us—there’s bound to be a whole bunch of scumbags. But the likes of Jim Taylor won’t apply this eminently sensible and realistic reasoning to black people because, I’m afraid, it's quite clear that he’s not entirely convinced that they are quite as human as white people ...

This was not a great proletarian coup, Jim. Nor was it a race riot. Most of these people were hungry! Just plain old hungry. (And there were, relatively speaking, plenty of hungry white people there too. And they weren’t all poor ones either.) You wanna know why? Because a category 4 hurricane hit New Orleans!

“A Detroit TV station solicited money for those caught in the devastation and you couldn't help but think, this is the richest nation on the planet. It seemed almost surreal.”

It’s always so revealing to hear people, who are endlessly so impressed with themselves to bleat on about “what all of us [can] see unfolding before our eyes,” using terms like “surreal” to describe the sight. And, of course, it is precisely this that is the only actual inescapable irony: that Jim Taylor and so many of the self-styled realists plaguing this continent have so much trouble accepting the most basic and urgent realities (as quite opposed to surrealities) existent: destruction, suffering, death.

But if we were to use this totally inappropriate word “surreal” to describe any part of the event: let us be absolutely certain that there was nothing surreal about the fact that the mighty USA was unable to meet the demands of the situation; rather, such was the incredible destructive power of hurricane Katrina, that not even the richest nation on the planet could stand fast in its path.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What Lurks in the Hearts of Men

Father Raymond De Souza in yesterday's National Post:

"That buildings are fragile in the face of the storm is not a surprise. But is our civilization so fragile as to put women at risk of being raped amid the fetid squalor of the shelters? What lurks in the heart of a man who would rape a hungry, desperate woman in her hour of need? Does our culture produce men of such little virtue that the winds of destruction flatten also the most basic rules of morality? Perhaps, in the tumult and turmoil, one might understand, if not excuse, the looters who took the televisions and furniture. But the rapists? In due course, perhaps New Orleans will be rebuilt. But what kind of rebuilding project can restore the heart of a man who took the hurricane as an opportunity to let loose depravity and violence?

Over the weekend the too-fragile levees that protect New Orleans were already being repaired. Years from now, we shall likely forget how fragile indeed are the things that man builds. But we shall be haunted for some time by the other news from the whirlwind, that more fragile still was our culture, our civilization, our common humanity."

Hello! My Name is JOE FRIDAY

Surely not just name tags, but big, blinking, coloured-light lit "Hello! My name is" name tags. Oh, and frizzy, foot-high rainbow wigs and giant red rubber noses. And no clothes! Honestly! For the sake of transparency and accountability the Toronto Police Service should be required, at all times, to be naked. That way when they've abused their authority victims will be able to report that:

“He had strawberry blonde pubic hair, I'll swear to that! And a very small penis.”

“Sounds like Wilson to me. Detective Sharrow! Yeah, you—with the medium size penis, chicken arms and lopsided nipples, get Wilson in here on the—”

“My name's Farrow, not Sharrow! Can't you read?!”

“Oh, sorry. The print's small and you're standing 6 feet away from me. Just let me put on my glasses here ... ”

“I don't mean to interrupt, Detective, but his name tag didn't say Wilson.”

“Well, he probably switched it with somebody else's. Or took it off. You can take off a name tag, you know.”

“I didn't think of that.”

“Yeah, well, anyway ... How big did you say his penis was again—or you said it was small, didn’t you … ”

Still, one wonders: if the name tag experiment has already been performed in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver mightn't we be able to say with some certainty whether or not the TPA's concerns about officers' personal safety—and their families'—are founded at all? … On the ball as ever, Mr. Star!

Friday, September 02, 2005

When reality isn't good enough: cheat an immigrant!

The Toronto Star puzzles me. It headlines one of today’s editorials "Schools cheating new immigrants" only to conclude that "the real problem is an inadequate funding formula, which fails to keep pace with rising costs" … I’m confused: so schools aren’t cheating new immigrants, then? The provincial government is? Indeed, strictly speaking, the provincial government is cheating the TDSB, as per this: "the board must dip into the ESL funds because the province fails to give it enough money to operate the schools. For example, the board got $46 million in the last school year to cover utility costs. But the actual cost was $70 million, leaving a $23 million gap that had to be covered with funds earmarked for other programs."

Yeah, that’s brutal! So why doesn’t the headline read: “Provincial Liberals cheating TDSB: ESL programs suffer”? Something like that anyway. The Board is very clearly the victim here. After all, it couldn’t possibly offer any sort of education, let alone ESL programs, without lights and heat. Why all this gun-jumping about immigrants?

Ooooh! I see: “TDSB” doesn’t sell newspapers the way “immigrants” does! Sure, I get it. A little cynical—a little exploitative—but I understand. So why don’t you just say: “Provincial Liberals cheating new immigrants”? … Sure, ok. The Provincial Liberals cheating yet another group of people will not only fail to raise eyebrows, people likely won’t even bother reading the piece. Who could possibly be interested in the government doing here exactly what it does everywhere else? Touché.

But tell me: given all the facts you’ve provided us with, and given all that flapdoodle I’m always hearing about “journalistic objectivity,” is it actually true (sorry, bad word), is it actually fair to say that the TDSB is cheating anyone when it stands to gain absolutely nothing thereby—short of, that is, the least amount of harm to the most number of people? That’s a rather admirable way of dealing with the problem isn’t it? It’s at least responsible. Right?

Ah, but what would the Star do if it was stripped of its status as Superpaper—feller of the dread Toronto Police Service, and (less remarkably perhaps) the Toronto Blue Jays, and all their racial profiling shenanigans (which, peculiarly, the Star has since managed, very quietly, to radically change its position on)? What would it do without its favoured cause-come-victim, that amalgam of race, colour, creed and (lower) class: that chimera called “immigrant”? Surely it would wither and die. Dog forbid! What concerns should we have then? Actual stories? Gun violence? The absence of leadership in the municipal government? The absence of honesty in the provincial government? The absence of the, er, absence of crime in the federal government? … Katrina, Iraq, Sudan? Terrorism? Reality?! Dog forbid!