Unlike the passing of each and every "person with fame" since perhaps Peter Sellers - the news of whose passing reached me on a dirt road near McCallum Settlement, Nova Scotia working on a summer logging roads crew in 1980 - the celebrations of the life, worth and unique character of Johnny Cash do not appear to have a chance of tiring in any way for me.
This story reminded me how I have thought for a long time that political parties ought to be outlawed.
One of the reasons why municipal elections are found so boring and attract few voters is the lack of poltical parties to drum up false support based on either the overlay of blandifying pap upon the real menace of the consequent preferments and disentitlements as in PEI or these sorts of bizzare accusations in Ontario where parties lust after the preferment of office itself. When the electorate actually latches on to an issue independent of the parties, as seen in New Brunswick, there is a idea that it is a derailing of what otherwise is a private dispute between the parties. The best that can be prayed for is a minority as in Nova Scotia where each idea and proposal passed through the legislature will have to be agreed upon and stand on its merit.
What to do? Wouldn't it be nice to find a place in the Constitution which would restrict the powers of these private interest associations? We can't expect them to either vote themselves restrictions or even the fairness of proportional representation so our only hope is a ancient loophole.
In the good old days of 1996 before needy ernest blogs, e-mail clogging spam, Lord Google, when flaming and cross-posting was killing off Usenet, when you used to surf the net to find stuff knowing it was all entirely unreliable gossip, I used to copy the weekly quotes from the web version of the English language paper The Warsaw Voice to mail to my buddy Gary, then in Vancouver.
I lived in Poland in 1991 and would, when on the trains to some end of the country, at stations with unpronouncable names, grab any copy of the tissue paper printed rag I could find. The life of an English as a Second Language teacher in a coastal city in Poland was pretty pleasantly self-defined and small. Having little access to TV or local chit-chat (only 8 people in the City seemed to have any grasp of English, others preferring to curse at us behind our backs Neimieck! which means both German and something like "not human" - to which my retort of being Canadian and therefore an ally against the Nazis often brought great wailings of apology and hugs from stinky drunk pensioners), The Warsaw Voice told us that life in Poland was not all cream cakes, tinned boar or elk and Russian champaign: we lived in a still-subsidized Baltic resort fairly oblivious even of the Balkin wars starting a few hundred kilometres to the south.
The newspaper at least let us in on the very grim Polish humour in relation to news of the day, government officials and Germans, which grimness I suppose is natural when your country has been a playground for other's generals for centuries. Here are some I saved from then:
"He was very, very handsome."A Polish woman at the Polish consulate in Paris, in enlisting help to find the French father of her baby."The Germans approach these mementos with a sense of humor and sometimes buy them; for them they are funny souvenirs from Poland."A shop assistant in an Old Town store selling original Nazi medals from World War II and photographs from Hitler's occupation of Warsaw"My sports results depend mostly on what time my buddies drag me out of the bar."-S³awomir Drabik, Poland's speedway champ, about his career"We have many regular customers. The record holder was someone we discharged at 7 a.m.-he was back at 3 p.m."Doctor at a Warsaw drunk tank, commenting on its recent increase in "visitors""Germans pay more, because they are more cultured."A mobile restroom agent at the beach in Gi¿ycko, explaining why the price is listed as gr.50 in Polish but zl.1 in German"His lively movements assured me that everything was all right."Henryk Wojciechowski, newly appointed Gdañsk province administrator, telling reporters about the accident when, driving in the heart of the city, his driver ran over a boy who got up off the road and ran away."It's not a sacrifice but a sensible act of civic duty."Zinaida Bolieva, a 46-year-old resident of Northern Ossetia, who offered to be a donor if Boris Yeltsin needed a heart transplant."Today, not having regained consciousness after a long illness, the secretary general resumed his office."A Soviet joke from Brezhnev's times, recalled by General Aleksandr Lebed in an interview for Stern magazine. Lebed said that with Boris Yeltsin's illness, the Kremlin situation is reminiscent of the Brezhnev joke.
Done for a bong...or maybe a thousand bongs. He made my high school years funnier. Canada's own. Put him on a Molsons's ad.
I try to refrain from discussing PEI where I used to live. But it is just so hard to hold back sometimes. But gee...I guess I can do so as a major player in that economy - the individual Canadian taxpayer. Kick me if I you disagree.
Most places in Canada there is the sense that there are policial and commercial and newsmedia which each know their roles and actively pursue them. I was sadly not amazed, then, to read this article from CBC PEI, presented as a news article on a CBC website today which displays the utterly confusion of these roles in society in a number of ways. It appears to be largely a corporate press release printed by a public news organ without much critical analysis, affirming corporate decisions which effectively create public policies rather than an independent review of the range of options on a certain issue available to the community. For example, from the article:
Ian was in New York. I was in PEI in the country, the mainline from NY to Europe above in the sky quiet, the roads still and you could hear the sea two miles inland. I watched the news all day with visiting Swedish relatives who needed translating. Soon, the con-trails of jet fighters were in the air above us.
Even mildly attentive readers will know I am a fan of certain sports teams. I can't stand NFL or NBA but I love the AL's Red Sox, EPL's Arsenal, SFA's Morton and, perhaps most personal of my loves, the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League. I loved them since I bought hockey cards in 1969 when I was six during my suburban years from birth to seven on Queenston Drive, Mississauga. I carried the 1969-70 O-Pee-Chee Pat Quinn in my wallet (it was a trader) until undergrad and still have and still buy cards from that series. Tim Hortons is a tie to my childhood love of the player cruelly traded to Buffalo when I was around grade one. In my way, I love Bill Root.
But let's be clear. I do not love them because they are good - that's for Habs fans and Colorado fans and New Jersey...do they have fans? Or because they are well managed or well coached. Or because they have great players. I certainly do not love them because Hockey Night in Canada's twisted version of sports reporting seems to require you to love them. I love them beacuse I do, like a person who shells out a thousand dollars to give a dying cat dialysis. So when Nieuwendyk joins the Leafs I am happy and when Dougie packs it in I am sad.
Gwynne Dyer, who frosted the cake of my teen nuclear fears with his TV series War, has written on the situation faced by the US in Iraq as the money starts to tighten. First, good call having the Barbados Advocate as a client, Gwynne. It is always important to organize your tax deductable business trips well. Second, interesting observation:
...many governments are also privately debating whether they want to help save the Bush administration from the consequences of its own folly. Without a lot of military and financial help that can only come via the UN, Bush may be dragged down to defeat by the Iraq war in the November 2004 election. With the extra troops and money, he might contain the problem enough to survive. However, they ask themselves, do we really want that?Hat nod for the topic to Ron's Box of Soap, librarian and, with Gwynne, fellow Newf.
More than money or power, thought is the stuff that runs the world. Not necessarily good thought – just thought. I presume like most people, I have opinions about their own thought and capacity for good thought and, I also presume like most people, have layers of confidence in my own ability, onion-like, alternating towards the core between brilliance and boneheadedness. While the relative placement of any one thought might be up for debate, I think it is at least a fair range for anyone to place the quality of their thoughts, though weighted to the mundane end - like most, much of my brain activity relates to my debt, my weight, my sloth or my work, my family plans, pointless personal projects.*
About twenty years ago right about now, I was entering the third year of my four-year slacker-paced BA in English Lit. I can't say I have carried the literary banner high since about then, especially as law just about killed my ability to read books - as being an usher in a playhouse just about killed my ability to sit through a play or a movie. But, this being the first summer since 1991 that I have not spent September picking beans, digging up spuds or braiding onions, one poem kicks tricking its way into my mind: Keats's Ode to Autumn. [Once, when absent mindedly signing up for seminars, one of the others, all-female in romantic poetry, tuned and said - "sorry, I took the last Keats". I couldn't recall when I had been aleing with her.] So, in honour of three years of English Lit classes, the impending season and our planning for the next garden plot in, maybe, 2005, here you are, copyright-free 'cause he's a long time dead.