Thursday, August 23, 2007

Highway of Heroes

I blame David Frum for this--with his appallingly imaginationless coining of the term "Axis of Evil."

Now we're meant to swallow fat Joe Warmington's "Highway of Heroes"! The Highway of Heroes?! Is this really the best we could do? Aren't we supposed to have one of the finest military traditions in the world? Wasn't John McCrae one of our own? And we can't come up with something a little less kindergarten than Highway of Heroes? It's embarrassing!

I mean, by all means dedicate sections of the 401 (which I've just discovered--after nearly three decades of travel upon it--is called the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway ... and we wanted to call it what now?), by all means, I say, dedicate sections of the highway to the honour of the various regiments fighting in Afghanistan, or name each of its overpasses after one of the dead or whatever. But Highway of Heroes? Hell, even Highway of the Fallen has more of a McCrae-esque feel to it, and that sucks!

It seems to me that if we're going to bother to call a stretch of the 401 something as fatuous, facile and faceless as the Highway of Heroes then we should go whole hog and start calling the Taliban Cobra.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Apropos of Nothing and Everything

It is notable that as late as 1973, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defined the Enlightenment as "shallow and pretentious intellectualism, unreasonable contempt for authority and tradition, etc. applied esp. to the spirit and aims of the French philosophers of the 18th cent."

Thereafter: "the philosophical movement that occurred in Europe, esp. France, in the 18th cent., in which reason and individualism came to be emphasized at the expense of tradition."

Which makes 1974 about the saddest year in English history after 1066.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Johnny Ramone On Punk Politics

(Taken from an interview in 2000 by Kim Cooper and Margaret Griffis. (And are we really surprised that this makes Warren Kinsella a hippie?))
MARGARET: I wanted to ask you about your politics.


MARGARET: Well, the reason I’m asking is a lot of my friends who are punk rock are right-wing…

JOHNNY: They are? Okay.

MARGARET: It seemed like punk rock is a right wing phenomena, and I’ve heard you’ve caught slack for some of your opinions.

JOHNNY: Right-wing opinions?


JOHNNY: Oh, okay. I found it very strange, because here you have the hippie movement which is left-wing. Punks, you identify them if you go back to the fifties and sixties as a bunch of greasers who are more right-wing and anti-peace demonstrations and that kinda stuff.
Then suddenly in the punk rock movement you start having these left-wing kids who are really hippies who have become punks but are still really hippies.


JOHNNY: [...] They know I’m that way and I think a lot of the Ramones fans are sort of in agreement with me. Those are the only kids I have contact with. I don’t talk to any of those punks on the street.

MARGARET: Wearing Crass shirts and begging for money

JOHNNY: Yeah, that’s all hippies. Same thing as was going on in the late sixties. To me, I think punk should be right wing. That’s how I see it. The left wing is trying to destroy America by giving handouts to everyone and making everyone dependent on them. They only care about the voter base. They don’t really care about anything else. They don’t care about anyone. If they can get illegal aliens to become able to vote by motor registration, they will. They’re illegal aliens! They don’t even belong in the country, let alone voting. It’s just to keep their base of voters. Is it best for America? It’s not best for America.

KIM: Do illegal aliens actually get driver’s licenses?

JOHNNY: Yes, they passed a law! Pre-natal care for illegal aliens! This is all craziness. Who pays for this? Sure, for rich people it ain’t gonna make much difference. But look at all the middle class people. That ain’t rich. Even at $75,000 a year, you have a wife and two kids, you’re just getting by. That’s not rich people.

MARGARET: They don’t have to have a house.

KIM: Or kids.

JOHNNY: They take away half your money on taxes. Then you pay property tax and tax on everything you buy and then you go get gasoline. The first thirty six cents is tax. Then you buy the gasoline and they tax the total amount. You’re paying tax on the tax! They wanna sue the tobacco companies. Tobacco company make twenty five cents on a pack. The government makes $1.25! The world’s getting sicker and sicker. We’re getting involved in these crazy things. Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, whatever’s left of Yugoslavia here. $40 billion on bombing these countries and having all these refugees. It shouldn’t be going on to begin with unless it’s of vital interest to America. It’s okay to let the Chinese steal our secrets because we’ve been selling them all this stuff.


JOHNNY: I had friend who was getting ready to vote for Clinton back in ’92. I said “How could you do this? Don’t you see the lies? He’s evil.” Naw, he voted for him. Within a year he was sorry. He wished he’d voted for Bush.

MARGARET: I’m surprised he learned that soon.

JOHNNY: I’ll never let him forget it. He’ll say “C’mon it’s been seven years.” I don’t care, heh.

MARGARET: I still talk to people who have the blinders on. “Okay, so he sleeps around with women…”

JOHNNY: It’s okay to just let the Chinese steal our secrets. They’re our “friends.” But they have missiles pointed at every American city, and L.A. is the first place they’re gonna shoot because it’s closest.

MARGARET: And that embassy we bombed.

JOHNNY: They are not our friends. We have to have tight security. We gotta stop fighting these wars. So many soldiers die. We should have troops at the border and keep illegal immigrants out of the country. We have a million illegal aliens. You wanna let them stay? Fine, whatever you wanna do. We gotta stop getting any more. They don’t want them to stop because these are potential voters. All they care about is re-election and staying in office.

MARGARET: Do you even vote?

JOHNNY: I think I might start, but I’ve been so disgusted. My wife does. She votes Republican.

MARGARET: That’s what she tells you.

JOHNNY: She does. (laughs)

MARGARET: Like Edith Bunker.

JOHNNY: That’s a show too. They tried to make the conservative look like a bigot. I hated that show. All of sudden I realized, one day, “I see what they’re trying to do. Archie Bunker is the fool and Meathead is the wise person.” I was thinking it would be interesting if George W. takes a woman as vice-president. The left would have to vote Republican. They wouldn’t know what to do.

MARGARET: They should get a black woman.

KIM/ JOHNNY: That would be too strange.


MARGARET: I had a friend mention seeing the Nugent show the other night. They didn’t like him because of his guns and politics.

JOHNNY: Even if you don’t like his music, he’s one of the real characters of rocknroll.

KIM: Do you like his music?

JOHNNY: Just his image more than anything. I don’t hunt, but I don't have anything against people who do. Gun laws don’t get guns out of the hands of criminals. They just make it harder for me and you to get them.

MARGARET: We can hire all those criminals to protect us.

JOHNNY: It’s all about money. That’s all they’re trying to do. Do they want to ban tobacco? They just want to make money off of it.

KIM: How much do they charge for a pack now? Four bucks?

JOHNNY: I think they’re up to that now. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life.

KIM: I smoked one just to see what it was like. It was real horrible.

JOHNNY: I’m not for people not smoking. Second-hand smoke — it doesn’t do anything to anybody.

KIM: It makes your clothes stink.

MARGARET: It makes my eyes red.

JOHNNY: Okay, but it didn’t kill anybody. Have you seen the billboard "Do you mind if I smoke? Do you care if I die?" They go to a bar and they’re worried about second-hand smoke. They’re not worried so much about people drinking and getting on the road and driving drunk and killing innocent people. That’s what’s steaming them. They’re worried about smoke.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Apologies for my prolonged absence. A month ago Mrs. EMG and I booked a flight to Nova Scotia with the intention of spending a refreshing week in early August with her family on that province's South Shore, drinking beer, shooting emptied beer cans with dirty old rifles, riding four wheelers, fishing, eating lobster and brushing up on our Wedgepudlian accents. But being--as the poet says--that "the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley," our vacation ended-up including only items 1 and 4 of the above, with the following surprise entries: the deaths of two good and well-loved men (both 58), as many wakes and funerals, one heart-attack, the agonizing demise of a small business, the consequent loss of four livelihoods, and the spectacle of various silver-tongued vultures preying on the fools and the innocent who remained.

But that's to put it in its bleakest terms. There was much good that came of these unpleasant, if inevitable, events. Very much good indeed. But it's been a taxing little while. I might take a couple more days.