Monthly Archives: May 2006

Rounding up the usual suspects in the Kyoto caper

The Old Man called me into his office and smiled his wintery smile. “Got a case for you,” he said and handed me an empty folder. “Here’s the McGuffin, kid. Kyoto. Missing.”

He put a quick stop to exotic visions of an elusive Oriental seductress on the lam from some gang she’d double-crossed. “It’s this big plan to put the chill on the economy,” he explained. “But we got no details. Nothing at all. Never seen anything like it.”

“Any suspects?” I asked. “All the usual,” he replied. “Right-thinking persons. The whole lot of ’em. Get out there and find out what they’re up to.” So I put on my coat, turn up my collar and head out into the raw wintery May morning, past the dying tulip festivals. Continue reading

Ya gotta go back, not forward, for best rock ever

Last Sunday Citizen Arts editor Peter Simpson wrote: “There are certain titles that should be on every list of the best rock albums of all time, and if the titles are not there the list should be dismissed with a theatrical flip of the wrist.” He then cited “Televisions’s 1977 debut Marquee Moon” and Ow! My wrist! Never heard of it. Never want to. But don’t you mess with my blue suede shoes.

Peter may have better musical taste than I do. It has been done. But here’s a scary thought: The origins of Rock and Roll lie in the early 1950s. So even if we stretch its golden age all the way to 1977, that’s still closer to its origins in the Truman era than to kids deafening themselves with iPod technopop today. Holy Vanished Historical Era, Batman. Which points us back, not forward, if we are to savour its classics. How did we get from swing to rock … while Smokin’ in the Boys Room?

OK, not Brownsville Station. Nor, despite Louie Louie, Richard Berry. What is really interesting, beyond my personal arrested development, is how this remarkable new musical form came into existence, developed, and matured. And once you get started on a “best of” list, the problem isn’t finding things to add but things to remove. (Unless it’s punk, I mean.) So I generally try the space-alien method. Continue reading

Who’s the imbecile: Government or the average Joe?

Perhaps I seem cranky when I glare resentfully at a Hydro Ottawa pamphlet telling me I can use less energy by turning up the thermostat on my air-conditioning unit. If you think I’m so dumb I don’t know that, what makes you think I’ll understand it when you tell me? But my problem isn’t too much black coffee. It’s a government that truly thinks its citizens need constant guidance to function at all.

It doesn’t help that, thanks to computer technology and public arrogance, the pamphlet starts out “John, Become more energy-efficient with these special offers and tips.” I bet they do that in the old folks’ homes too. Look, it’s Mr. Robson and I’m not an imbecile. But they just pat me on the head.

Inside, the chief energy conservation officer of the Conservation Bureau, Peter Love (or “Pete,” as I like to think of him) says: “Using the enclosed coupons will help reduce your electricity consumption — and helps us adopt a culture of conservation!” Continue reading

Plenty of mercy, but no muscle for Darfur

After the Holocaust, enlightened people around the world said “Never again.” They lied. I think they’re lying again on Darfur. And hallucinating.

It’s apparently been agreed that we’re going to blast our way into Sudan and slap the natives silly until they adopt peace, order and good government plus, I suppose, gay marriage. After all, Hollywood stars including George Clooney are demanding action. Maybe they should make a movie about a brave president who doesn’t mind invading Muslim countries that oppress their own people and foment terror. Oops. Wrong George.

The Globe and Mail editorialized that “The international community now faces a question. Is it going to back down and let the suffering in Darfur continue because a terrorist villain and the leader of a rogue regime tell it to, or is it going to do the right thing and act? The question answers itself …” Yeah. But not the way you think. Continue reading