#174 – Caker Business in Powder Form

McIntyre Powder is fucking nightmarish bullshit that pretended to be therapeutic. I learned about it from the mighty Chuck Angus who has been commenting on the stuff on social media. I’ll let him describe the effects that caker business had on his grandfather:

My grandfather was forced to breath this shit for his entire working career and he died of severe neurological damage. The company told him that filling his lungs with aluminum every day would somehow protect him from silicosis. I found my grandfather’s silicosis medical card after he died.

Silicosis is a wicked disease that comes from breathing in silica particles. Like asbestos silica dust gets in your lungs and proceeds to wreck your shit like knuckle-dragging hockey moms who just discovered the Travelodge minibar. Except unlike asbestos which prefers giving you hell-cancer, silicosis merely hardens your lungs until you can’t breathe without help. Who needs lungs, right? Lungs are for chumps. In Canada the air is so polite that it will find its way into your bloodstream without needing lungs at all!

Anyway, silicosis was a serious problem for miners.  But it was an even bigger problem for caker businesses working in mining. Imagine – having to pay for the sick, maimed, and injured workers. Oh, the horror! Think of all the money that would cost that could be going into an oligarch’s holding company! The caker way to get around this is cheap, quick, and stupid. And cheap, quick, and stupid is what Canadian miners got, because fuck medical supervision, consent, or sense. If it’s cheap it’s in here at Cakers ‘R’ Us.

Armed with a cheap (and totally absurd) solution, the radium, gold, and uranium mines of Northern Ontario (among others – these were the worst offenders) forced their workers to breathe in aluminium powder at the start of their shifts and cough it up at the end. Wait, seriously? That sounds retarded to anyone who has figured out how to put on and wear pants. Indeed it was so, because from 1943 to 1979 miners were forced to regularly intake a substance that causes – wait for it – severe neurological damage! Of course the government has valiantly stepped to the rescue by doing its usual shitty job. Were you seriously expecting anything else?

Ontario Provincial Parliament, Queens Park, Toronto
(s) The statue of the genocidal Macdonald in front is seen here giving as many shits about Ontario as Queens Park

Now Canada wasn’t the only one to pull the primitive-nerve-gas technique. It also appeared in Western Australia and in the United States. But in Canada the conversation has taken place before. And there’s another hint of trouble in the video there. Starting at 2:23 in the video, let’s take a listen to the number of businesses in Schumacher, ON that had a single family name associated to them. McIntyre Road, McIntyre Community Building, McIntyre Arena, the McIntyre Coffee Shop, and the McIntyre Curling Club. Enough McIntyres for you? There’s one more – the mine itself. Can’t find much more evidence for a single-industry town than that, folks. The whole thing is named for caker business!

McIntyre Powder and the story of disability and illness that comes with it isn’t a story that’s unique to Canada. But the importance of caker business in Canada’s one-industry towns and the earth-shattering stupidity of most of those businesses combine poorly with a government that can’t be bothered to help in the face of damning evidence. McIntyre Powder is a story deeply rooted to Canadian history and the silence around the stuff despite occasional coverage is a testament to Canada’s neglect and contempt for Canadian labor and towards the elderly who suffer from the consequences. Just as government and business in the past failed so many, so those forces continue to screw up and neglect labor because hurr durr short-term profits you guys.

It’s hard enough to learn about events in rural Ontario and the suffering wrought by uncautious caker business only to be confirmed by uncaring Toronto beetlecrats. Lord only knows the horrors that lurk in towns and communities that are too distant for Canada to even pretend to care about. We can only hope for more Charlie Anguses-

Oh, wait. We voted the useful people out because #RealChange. Oops.

 

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#172 – Prime Memeister, Part Three: Seeking AdVICE

Question: when visiting a storied reservation whose tragic tale should rightly inspire indignation and disgust towards Ottawa in any right-thinking person, how many news organizations should be there? I can think of a few candidates. There’s APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network. It’s a go-to for my own research and thinking because they tend to cover stories that the CBC and Postmedia juuuuuust didn’t around to because destroying historical artifacts is obviously less newsworthy than the daily slather of revisionism and feels. The CBC as a national broadcaster would probably be a good choice, seeing as how the miserable plight of the Indigenous is a national issue.

No, of course not. Those reasonable options should go fuck themselves because this story, a potentially-important moment, is not here to inform Canadians. It is here for memes and photo-ops. And if it’s the Prime Memeister we’re talking about, there’s no “news” site more meme-tastic than VICE. For the unaware, VICE is a cripplingly-stupid and exploitative “progressive” news source which alternates between talking about totally-wild-kinky-weird-sex (which is in fact rather tame), talking about marijuana and how much/little fun recreational drug use is, and generally being sensationalist little schmucks. It’s as transparently constructed-cool as MUCH was, except that MUCH never pretended that it had anything clever to say. It certainly didn’t run hard-hitting pieces about blowing a load through the night.

APTN also isn’t guilty of running click-bait bullshit whose titles are written with a smitten eye to “the youths”. But they got kicked out alongside any other of those square media outlets run by The Man. Fears of a media circus are rather hyperbolic considering that there isn’t any road access to Shoal Lake. But that’s hardly explaining why a profit-hungry media company playing at edginess got access to the story over an Indigenous-run news organization or the fucking CBC. When others are barred from entry it suggests that Indigenous suffering is only worth talking about if it makes one shithead caker rich and another shithead caker look good. In other words, the Indigenous are being used as props. Again.

Why is it that the suffering of Shoal Lake can only be experienced through the lens of a sadsack collective of Hunter S. Thompson wannabes? Do you think Hunter, the master of Gonzo journalism himself would be an appropriate choice to cover Indigenous issues in the first place? I will concede that VICE sometimes does have useful stories and even more rarely can run good television. But the image that VICE projects and the image that’s used to sell shitty labor conditions to journalists is utterly inappropriate for the issue at hand unless the goal is to render the thing so edgy as to be meaningless. At the very least it should not be the only voice present…but exclusivity is what they, and by extension we got.

rollingstone

(s) Next up, Marilyn Manson’s in-depth investigation of Newfoundland’s poverty

We leave the world of edgy brand management and marketing real, raw journalism now to comment on something more than a little bit insidious lurking in the wings. Go back to the link I posted under the words ‘kicked out’ in the third paragraph – do you notice all those Mounties hanging out there? This wasn’t merely a closed event. Access to the Prime Memeister and the community as a whole was completely cut by the RCMP even as Justin was out on what is undoubtedly national business. This wasn’t a top-secret meeting at the Pentagon. This was a trip specifically with a stated mind to uncovering and understanding problems on reserves and it didn’t allow the kind of media that people who aren’t attracted to milennial edge a chance to report another angle. Closing the trip down tells me that there’s something to hide; using the RCMP to do it is even fishier; giving exclusive access to an entertainment company over relevant broadcasters is profoundly dodgy.

We have plenty of aww-worthy pictures of #RealChange playing with children, hugging and smiling people – the usual tripe. But the story of Shoal Lake itself, the one that VICE got? Totally sublimated by talking points. There might have been some darkness to the trip, some evidence of frustration and resentment or even condemnation of the Liberal Party itself. But we’ll never know because the only people allowed to report gave fawning praise for Justin and the others were shut out by police action and a flimsy excuse.

VICE and the PMO are made for each other. Both are pale facsimiles of the institutions they are supposed to represent, leaning on marketing and branding to mask shitty ideas and shitty conditions. Both are under the thumb of egoistic maniacs. And neither should be able to consider the stunt they pulled at Shoal Lake anything more than a photo shoot.

 

#64 – Tim Horton’s Brown Sludge Water™, Part Five: Abuse? More like Profits!

Tim Hortons is a shit place to work, and the cakers who purchase Tim Hortons franchises are actively engaged in the wretched trade of using foreigners to perpetuate bullshit Canadiana narratives. It is truly a sign of how few fucks cakers give for their “diverse” neighbors that these wretched businesses are allowed to get away with treating their workers like complete toss.

To give you an idea of how bad this is gonna get, I’m going to pull out this story about how franchise owners repeatedly asked for Mexican hostages temporary foreign workers, and when said Mexicans rightly complained about the retarded rule of the pettiest of despots, some caker named Tony Van Den Bosch, said Mexicans were subsequently deported. And there are more than a few tyrannical dipshits treating foreign workers like shit. This first paragraph has been about foreign workers because foreigners are the only people who will work these trash jobs unless the poverty of the place is so extreme that domestics will take such lowly jobs. The picture below is of Pierre Pelletier. Just look at this fucknut.

This is the face of Canadian business.

Let’s list some of the miserable possibilities available to the poor schmuck who has been either reduced or seduced into working at these miserable factories of sadness. After dumping your resume in at your local Tims you can look forward to the awesome prospect of getting your junk roasted by a shattering coffeepot. Speaking of gonads, a Timslave can also enjoy the incredible bevy of disgusting fluids, behaviors, and abuses of the average caker scumbag. And don’t even think about collecting tips, an already-sad act of desperation that signals for all to see the immutable cruelty of the despotic shitlicks who purchase and operate your average house of sludge. Looking to leave after your shift is over? Basic human dignity ain’t what you signed up for, pleb! Enjoy working for free!

Such enviable working conditions are of course why the only people who work these jobs are the foreigners who have been duped into coming here. Such an unmitigated cruelty surely has no place in Canada’s utopia of multicultural bliss, right? Surely the wise, honest Canadians would resoundingly tell this corporate behemoth that it would have to improve working conditions to a point where Tim’s isn’t basically hell on earth to work at if it wanted to employ people. Already sick of decaying quality and rising prices, one would expect Canadians to finally send this antiquated, feeble corpse of a business to its grave for its poor labor practices.

Nope! Tim Hortons’ parent company is doing fine despite Tims being washed up and unable to expand beyond the caker frontier. The company even went so far as to stamp their feet and jack the cost of their awful breakfast “sandwiches” when Ontario raised minimum wage in a futile attempt to address the runaway cost of living in that province. Apparently the people I’m supposed to feel for in this context, at least as far as the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (which is a fucking lark – in what universe is Tim’s an “independent” business?), are those poor franchisees who were forced to pay their people. Yes, the raise was too much for Tim Hortons’ shitty franchisees, who cut paltry benefits like any good caker business would when forced to acknowledge rising costs and inferior product. Why address the quality problem when your margins are shrinking when you can shaft other people, right?

The circle of caker business that ultimately serves to shit on the common man finds its full apotheosis as Tim Hortons heirs, a bunch of worthless cakers who fled to Florida to enjoy the superior American culture forced their wage slaves valued employees sign forms effectively decrying the wage increase. Surprisingly, cakers opted to protest this behavior, threatening to boycott shit food that they would already have run out of town if they had any taste. And in classic caker style, the parent company’s response to this childish behavior is to complain while doing nothing about it. Passing the buck while people suffer is a Canadian tradition, just like disgusting sock-water!

 

#48 – Sports and Weather, Part Four: the Unspeaking Maw (of Mediocrity)

For a long time as a young child I wondered why my mind associated great food experiences with leaving Canada. The best meals of my life have had what I’ll call gravity to them. That is, the food was not the whole scope of the experience. I once ate at an underground wine bar in Copenhagen with an actual fireplace; the juxtaposition between the wintery outdoors and the warm, inviting space of the restaurant where my parents and I could relax, talk, eat some amazing seafood, and finally warm up is a large part of why I remember the meal at all. I recall mornings at Dennys off of some Interstate, drinking unending slugs of coffee and eating frankly damaging amounts of middling breakfast food while we planned the routes we would be taking to get to this city or that town and mocked one another as adolescents do. The joy of these memories has little to do with the food. It was the ambience, the conversation, the sense of what the Dutch call gezelligheid – that’s the stuff of good memories.

In Cakerstan food culture hits so many wrong notes that it makes those precious places where conversation is even possible all the more exceptional.  And I do have to say that Canada does have amazing food experiences here and there. The problem is that Canada does all that it can to create and normalize canned, blasé, eating spaces with consequently dead interiors and dull conversation. The bulk of Canada’s food scene is samey and discourages long conversation and the kind of quiet calm that allow for all of those ancillary components which make dining out so special.

Here’s a good one – why is it that seemingly every remotely cheap bar in any English Canadian city feels the need to practically wallpaper their interior with televisions and blast loud-ass music into the place? I get that turning a profit is important and that restaurants in particular are known for dying on their feet, but could you not blatantly suggest to me while I’m eating with friends that you tolerate my presence only insofar as I spend money? Why is the whole experience tuned towards squeezing money from me, and why would I want to go to a place where I feel as though I’m being fleeced?

For the middle-class fancy in none of us there is Canada’s disturbingly large chain restaurant scene. These massive boring bundles of boxes and microwaves and uncomfortably tight uniforms for servers are raking in nearly 66% of the eating-out budget amongst cakers. And once again only the Quebecois deign to give a shit about their own culture, taking nearly half of their meals to local places. I get that there’s a place for fast-food and microwave box restaurants, but the pervasiveness and completeness of their annexation of Canada’s culinary culture is a strong tell as to how mediocre food here really is. Oh, and did I mention that these profiteering box restaurants have horrendous sanitation records? Better hope those flecks are peppercorns, Martha!

(S) We can’t even name our own shit-chains after ourselves. Talk about inferiority complex!

At the core of this problem, I think, is what I alluded to earlier. Eating out in Canada means that you are victim to caker business, which in turn overwhelmingly stresses the screwing of the consumer and the maximisation of profit over all else, even to the point of destroying the raison d’etre of your establishment. Instead of looking to legacy, pride, the simple enjoyment of a job well done, or any kind of positive virtue Canadians accept and almost pride themselves on being fiscal sponges, splashed into and out of dull, constructed spaces designed to wring them and throw them away as quickly as possible. This obviously does Canada’s culinary scene, with all of its enormous potential a fat lot of no good.

#46 – Tim Horton’s Brown Sludge Water™, Part Four: the Timitentiary

One of the least pleasant places in the world to be is at a Tim Hortons “café”. Who wouldn’t want to sit staring into a void of parking, listening to underpaid workers attempting to negotiate temporary peace with knuckle-dragging shitbiscuit customers who don’t seem to understand that the milk and cream are poured automatically and pre-portioned (which means that no, the workers weren’t “trying to cheat me” out of milk, which is a refrain I hear far too often). The scope of the unpleasantness is vast and has myriad entrepots for blame. Some blame certainly goes to Tim’s stubborn adhesion to Canada’s equally-uncritical relationship with personal motorcars, which ensures that the outside world looks hideous and uninviting. Metal furnishings tinted with varying shades of shit-brown provide an uncomfortable allusion to shit, which when considering the quality of Tim’s products is not an association that they should be wanting to make. Uncomfortable chairs, ugly designs, bad urban form, and cakers as far as the eye can see. This sounds like my version of hell.

The horror of the physical experience of a Tim Horton’s begins before you even get inside. Cakers and their insane reliance on both driving and drinking a substance that needs to be plied with an unyielding quantity of fat and sugar in order to be palatable combine to create legendarily-stupid traffic snarls. Of course, the lack of planning and foresight incumbent to Canada don’t help in this regard, as moronic cakers are inclined to simply queue in their cars like cud-chewing morons when confronted with delay rather than considering whether they could go, y’know, literally anywhere else. Cakers are so in love with bad coffee and driving metal boxes that they regularly break traffic laws across Canada. Here’s Terrace, B.C. being retarded. The oilheaded buffoons of Fort McMurray are apparently of the opinion that roadways are akin to drive-through lineups. The mysteries of getting out of your car and walking into the Timitentiary are too much for cakers – from coast to coast, these morons can’t manage to grasp the incredible power that is fucking getting out of the car and walking. And we wonder why Canada is obese as fuck?

After crossing the vehicular Rubicon and daring to go inside the Tim’s you could almost be excused for huddling in your car and causing traffic snarls rather than going inside. When even the head office operates like a prison you just know that the front-facing experience is going to suck. Indeed, the average Tim Hortons has the aesthetic and feel of a waiting room in a substandard caker prison. A fixation on price-cutting and skeleton-staffing throughout the factory caker-feed industry means that the place is likely utterly disgusting. And check out these incredibly-comfortable looking chairs:

(S) Void within, void without.

And just to show how ubiquitous this horror is, here’s another picture of the inside of a Tim Horton’s:

(S) Yup, that sure is some boring shit. Note the “view”.

People congregate in these places not because they are desirable places to be but because they are in many situations the only places remaining for cakers and their victims to sit and converse. Somewhere in these ugly-ass, one-size-fits-all walls there is a tragic sentiment – that somehow, Canadians gradually permitted the degradation of space to such a degree that sterile veneers and dirty floors supported by plastic donuts and wretched coffee have become the most common gathering places.

But at least those people who do go inside as opposed to wasting even more space in their vehicles than they would simply as people. Where cakers take to declaring the cultural force of Tim Hortons as a national marker of identity I take it as a sad testament to the fact that cakers claim to love places that are so abhorrent that so many of them avoid the entire place by sitting in their fucking cars. In either case the logic of the prison wins out – utilitarian slop and generic places for those who come in, and isolation for those who opt for the drive-through. Outside or in, there are few places as rotten by design as the average Tim Hortons.

 

#42: The Job Fairy, Part Two – Hooray for Potemkin Towns!

There are few places as unbelievably sad as Canada’s collection of also-ran tourist towns. Wracked and transmorphed into Potemkin visions of what caker tourists want, these Potemkin towns invariably become centers of sad-sack commercial consumption. Whether this happens through sadsack tourist traps like lethal, abusive novelties like zoos or through a fetishized history actualized through poorly-maintained historical sites, Canada’s small-town tourism tries and fails to present anything of interest in no small part because Canada’s towns themselves are all generic places built on the same principles of sprawl, car dependency, and thoughtless development.

Let’s take a handful of examples to prove my point. As a young child I spent a lot of time driving to pathetic, collapsing tourist attractions. These places are textbook instances of caker business; rather than improving customer experience with income these places instead opt to milk every penny out of the gullible folks who dared to hope that Canadian small businesses might produce something resembling fun. The poster-child for this shit is, of course, Niagara Falls. I won’t deign to do a better job of dismissing the Falls than this unbelievably well-written piece, so I won’t try. The last line from that takedown really says it all: “We invented Vegas, for God’s sake. They have stolen our heritage”. Indeed quite.

Does the prospect of having your experience of a big ol’ waterfall ruined by waddling through an ugly downtown full of tacky has-been enterprises run by one of two families (oligarchy, for the record, is a sure-fire signal of caker business) not turn your crank? Need a “smaller-town” to waste your caker money in? Well, why don’t we turn to the vintner’s Potemkin town par excellence, Niagara-on-the-Lake! First off, you’d better not expect to be getting there any other way save for personal motorcar – there are no public transit options to get to the place, except on Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays. And even then that’s only during the summer. There’s also a touch of cruelty to playing wannabe Victorian noble in an area with atrocious living standards, but then again Canada is not a place known for its ability to recognize social cruelty.

Onwards to cottage country, where towns like Bracebridge and Huntsville milk their remaining specks of historical development while building concrete sheds of box stores and misery around said nubs of what once was. Take Bracebridge as an example. Home to the lovely Manitoba St., one of the rare streets in Canada that actually serves as a relatively enjoyable place to walk. Nice brick buildings, hip and trendy storefronts, the Saturday Farmers’ Market – what’s not to love? I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting Manitoba St. in green on the map below, and drew red boxes around the generic, formless, total shit that is also found in Bracebridge.

Bracebridge.png
The perfect ratio of bullshit to tolerability!

Oh, and don’t you worry about getting to Bracebridge, a town which was created in no small part because of rail connectivity to Toronto having rail access. You won’t be getting to Muskoka by rail anytime soon! Because fuck effectively moving huge groups of people. To be even more shitty, Manitoba St., which is already an insufferably overpriced den of caker-tchotchkes is actually pretty good in comparison to hellishly poorly-designed mutations like Collingwood, a ski and cycling hub. Both First and Hurontario Sts., which house most of the town’s attractions and commercial activity are insufferable stroads drowning in excessive parking and a lack of accessibility and affordability for car-less locals.

Even Canada’s tourist towns suck ass. Home to Potemkinized visions of small-town Canada, choking on caker businesses and their shoddy practices, and inaccessible to all save those with enough money to waste on personal vehicle ownership, the communities trying to pull tourists into their towns have thus far managed to price residents away and to build generic, boring tripe for non-residents to pretend to be amazed by. What a deal!

 

#37 – AmeriKKKa, Part Four: Mining for Bullshit

It’s no secret that Canada’s mining companies are fucking evil, despite Canada’s best efforts to hide the fact that its largest city is built on the mining industry. The rotten heart of the mining industry, what with its gang-rape, environmental degradation, and hideous labor relations certainly fits into this rotting extractive hole of a country, but the issue here isn’t just that Canada hosts evil companies. Rather, the issue is that Canada hosts malicious corporations and blames AmeriKKKa for the very things that Canadian companies are doing abroad.

To be sure, Canada’s mining industry is fucking evil. HudBay Minerals, perhaps the least creative name for a company ever, is being sued by 13 Mayan Guatemalans for abetting the rape and forced relocation of Indigenous women as a result of the Fenix mining project. Intercontinental gang-rape aficionados Barrick Gold have been forced to pay out for ruining the lives of women as young as 14 and as old as 80 both in Papua New Guinea and in Tanzania. And if you’re noticing my sources note how I keep having to rely on foreign press because the mining industry in Canada just loves to sue the shit out of anyone bold and daring enough to question its malicious behavior abroad. With such a legacy of cruelty particularly in Latin America, it’s no surprise that Canadians would simply rather not think about that part of the world. I mean, Canada’s already a world leader in abusing Indigenous peoples internally; why not go for the gold and abuse Indigenous peoples internationally too!

(S) We’re the cruelest on 4 continents! Whoo!!!!

And as Canadians boldly and bravely don’t give a single caustic shit about the lives their businesses ruin abroad, cakers can be counted on in their masses to protest the actions of American companies doing similar work. Remember the Standing Rock protests over the expansion of an oil pipeline through Indigenous territory? Well, cakers loved waving placards about that shit. Canadians were even prepared to shut down infrastructure here to prevent the evil AmeriKKKan , Inc. from finishing their construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Fury about AmeriKKKa’s trampling of Indigenous rights came to the fore as clueless protesters claimed that they wanted American tribes (who can actually form their own governments without having that government type and design dictated by the federal government) to have the same rights as Canadian tribes (which can’t). But Barrick Gold? HudBay? Nah, says the caker – that’s fine. A stunning silence erupts when Canadian businesses commit evils abroad, but Canada is first in line to protest Americans doing similar things to their own people.

Oh, and let’s not assume that Canada’s mining industry is only evil outside of Canada. Remember Mount Polley? And the total inaction over a mining company’s badly-designed tailings retention pond? Yeah, that’s pretty much par for the course. And while Canadians loved the Standing Rock protests they’re more fretful of protest against extractive industry on the basis of Indigenous rights here in Canada. What of the news that the RCMP spied on people who dared to protest extractive industry here? Crickets. The Idle No More movement was entirely built on Indigenous action, mostly because Canadians can’t be bothered to think about evil deeds when those evil deeds are committed by Canadians. But when AmeriKKKa behaves badly, you can bet that revisionist cakers will be there.

Because AmeriKKKa is the bad guy, you guys, and when Canada acts like AmeriKKKa those actions are less vile because…maple syrup, I guess? We are most certainly not done with the mining industry in Canada as an institution here. As usual in Canada, however, the best place to start is with caker hypocrisy.