#157 – Prime Memeister, Part One: Set Course for Memes

The term “meme” comes from Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, wherein he attempts to take the concepts of evolutionary biology, strains them through the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and revels in the result – a rapidly-galloping evolution in human culture that far outstrips our rate of physical evolution. Memetics are in their basest form a viral interaction: the meme is transmitted, internalized, and exported from person to person based on the ease of communication between people. They thus form and reform the baseline thoughts you have about a concept or idea and nudge others in similar directions. The key is simplicity (to make uptake simpler) coupled with vagueness (such that the inferences of the statements at hand can fit into and influence your current pile of baseline thoughts), and boy are those two ideas a bad portent.

That said, Canadian memes are fucking retarded. Because Canadians are notoriously ahistorical and have no meaningful sense of nationhood they are deeply vulnerable to suggestion and make-believe about their leadership and their country. Memes are particularly ready recruits for revisionism because their narrratives are as simple as can be but invite all sorts of unsupported fantasies without a shred of evidence on the part of the viewer. As if looking through a cum-covered kaleidoscope the meme is interpreted in hundreds of exotic, idiotic ways by people with a common revisionist lens and thus becomes hundreds of personal justifications for the same bullshit.

All this is to say that looking at memes surrounding the election of #RealChange showcases the kinds of lunacy that people peddle about this guy. To do this I have moved mountains, by which I mean that I typed “Justin Trudeau meme” into Google and started wading through the intolerable dreck that is #RealDelusion. I looked for precisely no time before I found a series of “feminist memes” created by vox.com; those words should probably come with a Surgeon General’s warning because writing that felt like snuggling up to a radioactive pillow stuffed with asbestos.

Anyways, fuck the world – here we go:

trudeau-meme

Remember when Canada had a Prime Minister that didn’t masturbate to his Twitter follower count? Yeah, I miss those days too. Speaking of Prime Ministers who didn’t control uteruses, Harper and Trudeau had largely similar policies on the matter. The article cites this important point:

The Prime Minister reminded his MPs he made a pledge to Canadians during the 2011 election: that his government would not reopen the abortion debate and that Conservatives wouldn’t bring forward legislation on the topic.

While Steve was nefariously ensuring that the current order on the subject remains as it was (taking a hefty beating from his base in doing so, suggesting a principled stand on the matter), he also set women decades behind by appointing three fewer women to Cabinet than #RealChange did. That bastard! Thank fuck we’ve got Justin; obviously we’ve entered a new age of gender politics in Ottawa because Harper would never pose for dank feminist memes.

Oh, and one more problem: the Mounties aren’t exactly known for their nu-left cred. How is “controlling” a toxic, misogynistic institution a good thing to counterpoint a feminist message with?

And speaking of Justin’s Cabinet, why is Treasury Board 66% dominated by white males? Even the backups are 60% white dudes. That said, it’s not like Treasury Board is important or anything. It’s only perhaps the most powerful Cabinet committee, with unique authority over spending prioritization. Such trivial powers as:

  • [reviewing] government spending…to identify opportunities for reallocations to higher priority programs;
  • [setting] mandatory policies on ministers’ and deputy ministers’ use of their authorities to manage their departments; and
  • [having responsibility for] labour relations, collective bargaining, and pension and benefits across the government

Are clearly not as important has having a female Heritage Minister from Montreal, which means that the NCC lands in Ottawa are no longer governed by someone who lives in Ottawa. Progress!

Hey man, don’t think about the 75,000- nearly 100,000 Canadians leading undocumented lives in the United States as of 2008 – pull out the myth of Americans moving to Canada en masse come election time and relate it to the concept of patriarchy for some reason. Nothing about this makes any sense – #RealChange even speaks to the “moving to Canada” myth during the interview. This is an excellent example of memes spouting bullshit and allowing the viewer to draw and re-confirm their own gull-brained mythos about the setting.

And what’s worse is that the text was okayed by someone despite the interview expressly speaking against the phenomenon implied by the meme. At least somebody did – Justin was asked to pose for memes so he had to know what was going on, and Vox presumably would rather not piss off an interview subject with the click-drawing power of #RealChange. From the PMO, the notion that an image-crazy government like #RealChange’s PR handlers wouldn’t consider or think about an interview, particularly one which spawned images intended to be viral, is laughable. So why is it okay for the text of an interview and the spawn of it to say and imply contrary things?

Clearly this is vastly superior to the staid quiet of the Harper government and its brutally repressive regime where little changed in terms of abortion access, LGBT communities continued to enjoy unrestricted access to marriage, and where women made impressive strides in the business world. Fuck that – Harper was an evil misogynist because reasons! Dank feminist memes from the Prime Memeister himself is progress! When all the pretty people tweet all the feminist memes we’ll have super-equality magical fun times! And who better to carry the banner of the marginalized than a straight, wealthy white male and his Board of pasty-pale rich dudes, right?

 

#148 – Seein’ Towers (of Bullshit)

The CN Tower. Truly an iconic Canadian building – grey, overpriced, and built on bullshit. I could probably sign off by saying that, as the name suggests, its history is tied into Canada’s rail interests. But it’s fun to shed some light on the thing, so here goes. We begin with a question that nobody really asks – who owns the CN Tower?

It isn’t CN – it’s a little-known body called the Canada Lands Company. The CLC is a Crown Corporation which handles the real estate arm of the Canadian government. It’s a sort of caretaker for shit that the Canadian government is either selling off or can’t give away to anyone because either nobody wants it or the bodies that do want the land are poo-flinging baboons who can’t manage a SimTown.

Speaking of stupidity, did I mention that the CN Tower was built in the middle of a wasteland of post-industrial infrastructure (CN moved to Vaughan because why not) and that the mega-project-cum-neighborhood that was built around it failed once and is a classic example of mashing suburban knuckle-dragging into urban space? Of course I didn’t – I have to frame the critique of the CN Tower first. It’s an undoubtedly fascinating and iconic building, designed both to stroke CN’s throbbing erection (it’s kind of apparent when you look at the thing, really) and to provide communications through a burgeoning scene of skyscrapers. It comes from an iffy heritage and it isn’t exactly affordable to get to the top more than once in your life, but the real story of the failure of the CN Tower is the abomination called CityPlace.

That was what the home of the CN Tower looked like as it was going up. You’ll notice a distinct lack of pedestrian access, diners, housing, or indeed liveable space anywhere near the thing. From the completion of the CN Tower to the building of the Metro Convention Center that whole area was a butt-turkey of nuthin’. Considering that I remember this place because it had a Planet Hollywood in it and my extra-suburban parents loved the place, I don’t expect much greatness out of that thing. Then the SkyDome went in, the economy went south and the place spluttered, and in 1997 the Air Canada Center was started up.

Sports and tourism? You know what goes well with that? You’ll notice that we left the neighborhood in the early noughts, which means condo-time. And with Canada’s noble and valiant tradition of slap-dashedly building shit badly and with no coherent plan for the area that, as you’ll recall looked rather profoundly detached from the rest of the city. When neighborhoods that are cut off from the rest of the city lose their money, they tend to become ghettos. At least this guy seems to think so, and to be honest I’ve seen nothing but bad news about shoddy building and cultureless morass.

Y’know, I was originally going to slam on CLC, but looking at the neighborhood I changed my mind. Yeah – I’d trust the Crown before the numbnuts behind this soulless shit-heap. Does this look inviting to you?

If it does, enjoy living in a half-assed civic scab taking up what could be remarkably useful space next to a genuinely interesting bundle of buildings (and the shitty Metro Convention Center). But be mindful of falling glass.

#147: 24 Sucks-Shit Drive

The Prime Minister’s house is fucking falling apart and has been for decades.

If it wasn’t tucked in the crotch of a neighborhood called Rockcliffe, the nesting grounds of douchey fucklords either too poor to build manors in Toronto or too stupid to realize that living in Ottawa is like living in Novosibirsk if that Soviet shithole had recently been built over top of a much smaller, superior town, it would be a lovely addition to any neighborhood. It itself is a perfectly reasonable-looking nice-house, especially compared to garish shit like the Cowpland Mansion, which looks like a lame office building in an overwrought steampunk movie.

Anyways, let’s give the government a chance to speak on the matter:

“The house at 24 Sussex Drive was built at the very dawn of Canada’s life as a nation, in 1868. Its first three owners were all public men, prominent entrepreneurs but also members of Parliament, and all of them married to women with distinguished political pedigrees of their own. From its earliest days, therefore, 24 Sussex Drive has welcomed the political elite of Canada. Acquired by the government, and transformed into the official residence of the Prime Minister of Canada in 1950, the house continues to witness the making of history in Canada.”

Good stuff. If you’re good at shit-detection, you’ll immediately see why this is the most Canadian of government buildings – constructed through elitism by businessmen who got into politics and married into important families, this house was finally fused formally into the Canadian political machine by…the Liberals. Yes, our old friend Louis St. Laurent moved in after the last private owner, the lumber-baron-cum-Liberal MP Gordon Cameron Edwards, was evicted. Of course, the government didn’t know what to do with the place after this guy was booted in 1946 so ah, fuck it. Previous PMs had lived in rented apartments; clearly the agents of the Liberal machine deserved better. So the place became the Prime Minister’s residence in 1950. St. Laurent didn’t even really want the thing.

Now that it was in the hands of the Prime Ministers, the building was left to strange examples of corruption and general disrepair. Pierre Trudeau added an indoor pool that cost a cool quarter-million at the time and required an elaborate ruse because Pierre Trudeau refused to pay for it. Brain Mulroney caused a scandal by publicly revealing the costs he and his wife incurred in renovating the inside of the building. Kim Campbell didn’t even get to live in it. Jean Chretien was nearly assassinated in it. Paul Martin hated the heating in it. Stephen Harper refused to leave it.

And the whole fucking time, the building was rotting. The Auditor-General (thanks, Alexander Mackenzie!) reported this in 2008 but the building hadn’t been fixed in years and Steve wasn’t about to leave the castle for such tiny points as maintaining historic architecture or fixing critically-failing systems. Who needs the structural form of the past when you have the past make-believed into whatever shape is most convenient? Sure, the air-conditioning is fucked and foreigners are expected to have dinner in an unstable, unrenovated house whose most recent additions were the result of patronage and ill-planning (Jesus, Brian – at least consider the possibility that a 100+ year old house needs some external work too). But hey – it’s Canada, and there is nothing more Canadian than a simple, gorgeous home being turned into a century of fighting, patronage, and neglect.

Gorffwysfa (Welsh for “place of peace”), the formal name of the house because this is pseudo-Britain and of course we have to name houses, isn’t exactly my first choice of term for the thing.

#111 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: The Molson Family

And now we reach the last and least of Canada’s hockeyman franchise-owners – the purveyors of all-Canadian piss-water themselves, the god-damn, motherfucking, hop-savaging bastards: ladies and gentlemen, presenting the Molson family!

What a load of jizzum these failures are. They certainly don’t talk much – finding information on these bastards is tough, other than their education records (abroad, because Canadians don’t respect their own degrees) and their donations to Canadian schools (which still suck and which are still not respected by Canadians). Besides giving Canada its worst beer and patenting beer-making techniques such that other, superior brewers couldn’t use them, the Molson family has been highly involved in the successful merging of their company with the American Coors. I am Canadian, indeed.

The Molsons are insufferable and their product is the only Canadian gastronomical experience that I would rate below taking a swig of Tim Hortons Brown Sludge Water™ (which is itself below just going without). Bear in mind that seal heart is a regular consumable in the North – I’d take that long, long, long before a proffered bottle of Molson’s Finest. The company and its piss-swill benefit from archaic laws and absurd pricing schemes incumbent to Canada. For a group of people who pride themselves on their beer, Canadians and their government will apparently drink swill that costs more than Malta’s native brew, Cisk. Unlike Cisk (pronounced “Chisk”), however, the Molson brew comes with needless nationalism and sucks harder than a hooker trying to pull a golf ball through a garden hose. It’s almost like the Maltese were interested in producing a solid brew, where the Molsons were interested in producing a solid tumor of Pavlovian Canadiana in the English-Canadian zeitgeist.

So – Canada’s business family produces a weaker beer with one-hundred times the population to learn from. What else is new, honestly. They advertise their shitty pissbier by linking it to Canadiana – hence, the whole “I am Canadian” thing. These are the worst of the worst in terms of ads, and I’ll almost certainly come back to slam them when I feel like putting myself through the mental bruising that is looking at Molson ads. Canadiana is, of course, linked to hockey. And just like that, a Canadian family provides the weak, shitty glue between two weak, shitty parts of a weak, shitty construct called Canadiana.

Could it be that the Molsons know this incredible secret and rely on it to sell their pissbier? They happen to have scored the right to sell their shitty product at a majority of Canadian major-league hockey arenas, including the turbo-rich Maple Leafs. Surely there’s no cynical exploitation of company-made cardboard-nationalism for the sake of profits, is there? Hockey is so pure and amazing that there’s no way anyone could be using the sport as a springboard to dump their product into the lunk-headed mixture of revisionism and make-believe that is Canada’s hockey zeitgeist! Especially not – gasp – a company stapled to an AMERIKKKAN one!

#97 – Lowblows to Your Wallet: Food in Canada

English Canada has a food problem, and it took me about five seconds to find out why.

Loblaws is the largest food retailing company in Canada. It is also owned and controlled…by the Weston family. Yes – yet again, English Canada’s fine tradition of shitty businesses run by shitty Canadian family wealth is upheld. Garfield Weston, the undoubtedly Christ-like figure who gave his name to the family’s charity organization is dead, but his political shenanigans live on in the form of Galen Weston’s million-dollar-a-year donations to the Fraser Institute, which is of course a right-wing think-tank. Funding the fellation of the free market while your business operates in a virtual duopoly is not hypocritical in the slightest!

Only the two largest food retailers in Canada operate state-wide; Metro, the Quebecois company and third-largest food retailer, largely runs in Ontario and Quebec. Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro controlled nearly 70% of the food retail market in Canada in 2011, and with Lowblow’s recently claiming Shopper’s Drug Mart and Sobey’s parent company Empire consuming Canada’s Safeways that number is only slated to increase. As the formless box-stores that so define North American grocery shopping are built to be as inconvenient as possible for carless consumers, these huge blobs enforce an ugly, car-centric skyline in Canadian suburbs.

But that isn’t the worst part of the deal. Having a Canadian family business and a holding company competing to provide you with frozen, heat-and-serve garbage is not merely a problem of marring the already-ruined visages suburban abominations of English Canada. It’s a problem of pricing. Fruits and vegetables are slated to be tremendously more expensive this year than last; 20% of the bacon (125mg) has been taken out of Lowblow’s bacon packages. Meat is expecting a 5% increase in costs (as opposed to the double-digit increases of last year); meanwhile, Loblaws took in $13.6 billion in revenue.

Although much has to be said for the deranged systems of price-fixing that Canada uses for products like dairy, eggs, and meats, the fact that so much of our food is supplied by oligarchs and the price of it keeps outpacing inflation is a problem. This is in Canada’s South, too – prices in the North are insane and Canada’s response is a shrug. Meanwhile, Canadians shell out more money for poorer products produced by massive and uncaring conglomerates. Small wonder that English Canadian food culture is so weak when food sales are filtered through the useless hands of both Canadian businessfolks and the Canadian government.

Meanwhile, European cities enjoy divine food, American cities enjoy food trucks, and Asian cities continue on with their centuries-old food traditions. But shitty food is awesome because it powers Canadian contract hockeymans. And really, is there anything more nourishing than that?

#70 – Sports and Weather, Part Five: Genocide Appreciation Day

English Canadians have a stupid national holiday and they celebrate it in the national capital like a bunch of idiots.

Genocide Appreciation Day (or Canada Day) is a day of abject misery. Do you like having an urban space invaded by tourists, drunks, and children? No? Well, fuck you – it’s Genocide Appreciation Day, bitches! And that means something to us because Canada! Never mind that national holidays require an actual nation in order to be meaningful; it’s Canada and it grew older YAY WHOO GET DRUNK!! The Quebecois, being an actual nation of people, have a normal sort of holiday in St. Jean-Baptiste. English Canadians, being no such thing, simply get wasted and stand around in gaggles of idiots staring at whatever Canada-laden surface is nearby.

And it isn’t good enough that Canada celebrates Genocide Appreciation Day – the rest of the world has to as well! The CBC stops playing at being a real news agency to bring you meaningless Canadiana from around the world on 1 July. That the rest of the world doesn’t care is immaterial to Canada, a fact that is heartily forgotten as English Canadian tourists unfurl Canadian flags and make asses of themselves the world over. The Canadian world stops on Canada Day so that everyone has a chance to partake in revisionism and feel-good fluff that has the unfortunate problem of being made of lies. Even the slightest criticality towards Canada in this context is useless and will only inspire gibbon-like chanting.

Of course, Canada has very little to actually be proud of. It can’t build 120,000 houses that the Indians needed yesterday, it can’t feed the North without causing dental problems; it doesn’t plan, doesn’t think, and doesn’t seem to really care where it’s going. Talent is squandered, resources wasted, and lives ruined by the very thing that we are “celebrating” with this attendance-practically-mandatory event. And not cheering is unacceptable, as drunks on their porches yell WHOO CANADA as you pass by and heckle if you fail to respond in kind. If I wanted to cheer for the national equivalent of driftwood I’d do so, dammit!

The suburbs, already being wastelands, opt to drive on antiquated road infrastructure to join the hooting masses because their homes are hellish holes where human interaction is almost impossible. Truly something to celebrate there! Hooray for poor planning! Hooray for a culture so banal and shit that it can think of nothing else to do but drink and make fools of itself! Hooray for ignoring the slaughter, the cruely, the sexual slavery, the starvation and the poverty and the anomie and the idiocy that made Canada the glorious pile of ass it is today! Never mind that Genocide Appreciation Day doesn’t mean anything or symbolize anything – it’s Canada, and that means it’s amazing.

#59 – Ugh, Canada Part Two: No, Seriously, this Anthem is Dumb

Right, we’ve talked about the history of the anthem and how it is ultimately a sad lifting of French nationalism to serve English Canadian needs. Now we’re going to make fun of the fucking thing, line by line. Because fuck it, why not?

Oh Canada/
Our home and native land

Aaaand hold up. Our native land, eh? 22% of the population is first-generation immigrants (meaning that they were born in another country and make the unfortunate mistake of moving here). This is a country that perpetually brays about “diversity” and how tolerant it is…and right out of the gate the anthem excludes almost one-quarter of the population. There’s the even more obvious dig that the whole “native land” thing and specifically our collective refusal to meaningfully address that fact is an existential flaw in the entire concept of Canada, but that seems almost cheap.

What am I saying? This is fucking Canada – the whole thing is cheap, tawdry crap anyways. Next!

True Patriot love/
In all our sons’ command (alternatively, in all of us command)

Aaaaaand objection! The original iteration of the anthem didn’t have this whole “sons'” line, which was added presumably because of the militarism of World War One and since has vexed Canada’s pearl-clutching do-nothing lefty-wank fest to no end. Mauril Belanger, the former MP for Vanier in Ottawa fought tooth and nail to right the egregious wrong of women not being given equal responsibility in the anthem for running this dumpster fire into the ground. In the meantime Vanier was both sicker and less able to access healthcare than the rest of Ottawa. Good thing Belanger had his priorities straight!

With glowing hearts/
We see thee rise/
The True North Strong and Free

Ahahahahahaha!! I know, I know – the “true north” line comes from Tennyson, but I can think of a better line from the same poem that more accurately describes Canada, and which seems to me to aptly describe the British attitudes towards this wasteland:

“that true North whereof we lately heard
“A strain to shame us – ‘Keep you to yourselves;
“‘So loyal is too costly! Friends, your love
“‘Is but a burthen; loose the band and go.'”

So, not exactly lines that scream out “strong and free” so much as “costly and burdensome”, but, y’know. Same idea, right?Anyways, back to the anthem:

From far and wide/
Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee

Now this is where we start really steaming my fuckin’ beans. I mean, “from far and wide” is…generally true, in the sense that the land that was to be saddled with the name Canada was invaded from far and wide by a pile of profiteers and losers. But it’s the whole “we stand on guard for thee” bit that really irks me. First off, why is it my fucking job as a citizen of this place to protect it? Why doesn’t it protect me? I mean, it’s pretty obvious that Canada sucks at doing self-protection, but it still pisses me off that I’m expected to sing not once, not twice, but three times about how I’ll go and stand about “guarding” Canada. I mean, if Canada can’t be assed to guard itself why the shit should I? Or is this a reference to how the British were about ready to abandon Canada, thus requiring random cakers to defend the place?

And on that note, how the fuck are the morbidly-obese, retarded, reactionary fucksticks that join the fucking Army going to stand on guard for anything besides their turn at the mess hall?

https://i2.wp.com/wpmedia.nationalpost.com/2016/10/qmi_es20140509ik045.jpg
(S) Private Fatass here shows the “Guard Wall” tactic the anthem implores us to use

God keep our land/
Glorious and free/
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee/
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

And there’s my answer regarding who and how we’re going to do any guarding with a moronic population of cakers. Apparently God’s gonna do it. At ease, Lt. Lovehandles! This section too has come into controversy over the years, but because Canada nothing has been done about it. And we end off as lazily as we began, continually demanding that caker defend Canada from unknown threats. I gotta say though, I love the sneaky transition from “native land” to “our land”. The only piece of honesty in this entire little ditty is this backhanded acknowledgement that this country stole Indigenous lands.

O, Canada indeed.

 

 

#58 – Ugh, Canada Part One: The Anthem is Dumb

The Canadian national anthem, brilliantly entitled O Canada, is a nesting family of metaphors for the failure of this heap. The song began life as a French national song. indeed, the Governor-General of Quebec, Théodore Robitaille commissioned the music and lyrics for Quebec’s own national holiday, le Jour de St. Jean-Baptiste. The lyrics of the original song are…kind of badass, actually:

O Canada!
Land of our ancestors
Glorious deeds circle your brow
For your arm knows how to wield the sword
Your arm knows how to carry the cross;
Your history is an epic
Of brilliant deeds
And your valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights,
Will protect our homes and our rights.

What I love about the French version is that the song isn’t an admonishment of the individual to do something for Canada but rather a celebration of Canadian accomplishments. I mean, I take issue with “Your history is an epic of brilliant deeds”, given that Canada’s brilliant deeds consist of sitting like a puerile infant in its own waste, but it’s an anthem! It tells me why I should think that Canada is fucking badass instead of demanding that I come to the defense of this ruddy rank turd (which is, as we’ll see, what the English lyrics whinged their way into being). Thanks for the lyrics, Adolphe-Basile Routhier!

Though its origin in French is muddy and controversy swirls over exactly how the committee struck by Robitaille (which was struck only when it became apparent that there was not enough time for the Quebec-wide contest that Robitaille actually wanted) came to produce this piece of music, its reception in Quebec was almost immediately positive. The song came almost immediately into its own as a counterpoint to English Canada’s insistence on God Save the Queen and the even more insultingly British the Maple Leaf Forever, and the split of national anthems came to symbolize the schismic pile of puke that Canada was doomed to be even at the very beginning.

As English Canada heard this fancy new tune that actually reflected Canadian rather than British realities they slowly started coming around to the idea that maybe they should sing about Canada instead of singing about a rock 3000+ miles away that long since stopped caring about Canada. Various cakers had a crack at creating English lyrics to the song. Thomas Richardson tried, and his version was sung for some royals that I don’t care about in 1901, but it failed to catch on because it was a literal translation that didn’t fit the song very well.

Collier’s Weekly magazine was the next to try at finding English lyrics that don’t suck, and they settled on the phrasings of one Mrs. Mercy E. Powell McCulloch. When that failed to catch on Ewing Buchan wrote the most truly wretched version of the anthem I have ever seen, which once again fixated on the uncaring British with a kind of slavish love reminiscent of creepy horse girls in elementary school:

O Canada, our heritage, our love
Thy worth we praise all other lands above.
From sea to see throughout their length
From Pole to borderland,
At Britain’s side, whate’er betide
Unflinchingly we’ll stand
With hearts we sing, ‘God save the King.’
Guide then one Empire wide, do we implore,
And prosper Canada from shore to shore.

 

But it takes a Quebecker to have any kind of sizzle at national identity, and the Montreal municipal theorist (and later judge) Robert Weir would write the backbone of the contemporary English version of the song in 1908. While people objected to one of the many lines that I also find objectionable (the “stand on guard for thee” line, which as I alluded to earlier gives the song that whinging exhortative quality that so brilliantly reflects the shitty attitudes of English Canada writ large) from the get-go, revisions were instead made to add “in all our son’s command” and to make minor grammatical changes, the upshot of which being that the song grew into the ponderous, ill-fitting mish-mash that it is today.

Having found a generally, broadly-acceptable anthem by the 1920s, Canada would perform at her optimal speed by waiting for more than 60 years before making the anthem officially the anthem. And in our next post I’ll be riffing on the piece of shit line-by-line. Stay tuned!

#35 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Part Four: What Injuries?

Fairly recently, the NFL had a bad moment of PR when it was revealed by Congressional report that the League had attempted to influence studies of concussions caused by playing major-league football. What really stuck with me about the whole disaster was an idle thought – what would Cakerstan think about an investigation into the injuries caused by major-league hockey? To answer that question, we need only turn to Don Cherry, a man who once called people critical of rampant fighting in the NHL “nerds“.

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(S) The man on the left is taken seriously by English Canadians. I am not kidding.

With St. Cherry’s Divine and Final Word on the matter of fighting (which is completely tangential to the point of hockey, which appears to be scoring more goals than the other team), it seems that Canada has decided to not give a shit about brain trauma in hockey. This is a small problem because, well, Canada has this thing about drilling young children into the hockey (cult)ure. Said children are getting smoked on the ice and experiencing head injuries, which in classic Canadian fashion they are told to hide from others.

Hockey, it is important to repeat, is a fundamentally reactionary activity in English Canada. It hearkens back to (badly distorted) images of Canada’s past, when brown people could be actively sneered at, winters were “real” winters with literal mile-high snowbanks, cigarettes were practically mandatory, and seatbelts were a socialist plot. The reaction to Rogers adding MuchMusic host and obnoxious #engagedyouth George Stroumboulopoulos to the Hockey Night in Canada ecosystem was fucking nuclear. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that kind of conservative method of cultural preservation, I start taking issue with it when the call to preservation expressly masks known problems and cruelties. As was the case with the NFL, the NHL has a serious head injury problem. But unlike the American people, Canadians are happy to hide from that fact amongst the reactionary reeds.

Let’s be perfectly frank here – the NHL absolutely has a head injury problem. Its coaches and players won’t even use the right terminology when discussing the problem, but as we’ve learned here before pretending that problems don’t exist shockingly doesn’t magic them away. People have had their lives ruined because of their time in the NHL, and the teams as late as 2016 still try to withhold information about head trauma that relevant authorities might need to, oh, I don’t know, save that person from a life of disability and pain. The NHL has even eaten several lawsuits over the matter. The linkages, despite what commissioner Gary Bettman would have you believe, are perfectly clear – fixation on hockeymans means a greater chance of having little Timmy’s grey matter coming out of the game less intact than the average Canadian flag flying today.

torn_frayed
(S) This is your brain on Canada, folks

The trauma and savagery of the major-league version of hockeymans is transmitted down to the minors, too. Almost half of the brain injuries experienced by young athletes in Canada are caused by hockey. And what has the response from Canada been? Well, caker parents and caker coaches, their heads addled with star-struck visions of vicariously living through their children and proteges, are still pressuring their children into ridiculous training regimens. In the process, a shit ton of caker businesses are taking huge sums from parents who can’t really afford them. Hockey parents are perhaps the worst subset of caker, to the point where even other cakers have agreed that the hockey moms of the world need mandatory training so as to be halfway decent people. The whole thing is a festering ball of Canadiana, a way to separate cakers from their money by using their own insecurities, sense of patriotism, and children against them.

Yes, hockey enrollment is down in Canada. But that’s likely because of cost, not because Canadians have somehow figured out that children and head trauma go together as well as Canada and civilization. Oh, and if the hockey squire does in fact make it, guess what? They’re treated like shit by Hockey Canada, which was actually created by the federal government in 1968. Say what you will about Americans and football – at least they had the good sense to use their federal governmental powers to demand better of major sporting leagues instead of creating yet another avenue of unfairness for those pressured into a dangerous sport whose physical harms are shouted down and ignored by reactionary cakers like Don Cherry.

#25 – Totally Clueless (About Shopping)

Canada as a whole is terrible at shopping. We’ve sort of talked about this before with Tim Hortons and the Hudson’s Bay Company, and I think I’ve made a couple of allusions to the parking lagoons incumbent to the North American shopping mall too. What I haven’t talked about is how impossibly shitty Canadian shopping malls are. Selling a smaller bundle of goods than available in the United States for more than the costs of those same items in the United States, Canadian malls are monstrous concrete boxes of mediocrity. They are indeed manifestations of an almost Herculean boredom that rings through Canada and a profound lack of choice that permeates Canadian consumer culture. Lacking the thoughtfulness of the new American mall and the walkable urban design choices of many European malls, Canadians experience the ass-crack of mall shopping in a way that limits their consumer choice and ignores local needs.

The average Canadian shopping mall looks like a cross between a Soviet bunker and the capital of a shitty tween dystopian fiction novel. But that’s hardly the shittiest thing about them. Recall that Canada is run by oligarchic companies and shadowy figures – we have to look for the losers behind the tinsel if we’re going to find some guilty parties. Let’s take a look at this list of the most profitable malls in Canada. Do you see the “CF” in front of four of them? That stands for Cadillac Fairview, a company owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Their major competition in Ontario, the Oxford Properties Group, is owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. Both companies are aiming at luxury brands that Canadians widely can’t afford as their future. Because actually being a part of the “community” that the drab mall in all likelihood destroyed is for squares. Stores that people can actually afford can get fucked – move over for more shit you can’t afford, plebian scum!

Because the shopping areas of Canada are built as investment vehicles rather than as parts of the communities that they actually inhabit and because the traditional main streets that typically house luxury brands are too shitty in most Canadian cities, the ultra-luxe are increasingly taking over malls. The problem with that is that in so doing they’re completely ignoring nearby neighborhoods. By way of example, take the Rideau Center. This hunk of shit is immediately next to the University of Ottawa, a 40,000+ student institution that both utterly sucks and has thousands of students living nearby. Obviously the Caddy-Company sees this and has responded with stores that totally reflect the nearby community. I know for my part that choosing from Canada’s many shitty university options was much easier when I filtered by access to Tiffany’s. Back in the day I worked in the Rideau Center, but I and most students simply aren’t qualified to sell luxury brands we’ve never heard of. So neither the potential labor nor the potential customer base appealed to Cadillac-Fairview because why care about local context, right?

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(s) The new classroom for ECO 1011: Introduction to Getting Fucked

Disconnected from their environments and often built in horrible, useless places the shopping mall is a classic case of short-term planning taking precedence over the needs of people nearby. And where this was a common theme in North America the Americans have recognized the problem, considered the nearby environment, and are acting in a big way to try to redesign the badly-built urban spaces of the shopping mall while Canada…tries desperately to upscale the problem and ignore the root of the problem. Dubai without shopping is boring as shit, and that’s where Canada’s oligarchic mall owners appear to think the future is. Put it this way – the folks at Cadillac-Fairview, RioCan, Oxford – they all think that the people living near malls are less economically useful and less deserving of nearby brick-and-mortar consumer choice than luxury shoppers from elsewhere. Just like Abu Dhabi does! Hooray!