Sunday, March 30, 2008

Alex T. Brings New Urgency to the High Holidays


By A. G. Tsakumis
'Rebel With A Clause'

I spent part of the Easter weekend reviewing recent news stories that peaked my interest. I typically go through eight papers per day, dutifully clipping items of intrigue—usually ones I find compelling or enjoyable. Then again, I always find something that contributes to my decades-long battle with acid-reflux.

My summation is that we are becoming progressively detached from reality and common sense. If an alien landed on our not-as-green orb tomorrow, a perusal of the papers would provide him or her (it?) with a veritable cornucopia of rank insanity.

To the south, in the Excited States of Amnesia, you’d think that if you were a Governor/Lt. Governor/Mayor, the prerequisite to such lofty swivels is to have engaged in enough cocaine usage and extra-marital rompfesting to make a Vegas hooker blush. The revelations of stupefying hypocrisy by the Lt. Governor of New York, his predecessor, the Mayor of Detroit and the previous Governor of New Jersey (and his wife and limo driver!) were astounding, if not treacherously hysterical. Drugs, threesomes gone wrong (how the hell does that happen?), and assistants as hookers: All that’s missing is the porno twang soundtrack as background to this chaos on the couch. Through it all, not a word about healthcare, pension plans, taxes or schools.

God bless America, indeed.

Even Pierre Elliot Obama and Hickory ‘Pinocchio’ Clinton can’t get it together. He’s explaining how his preacher and life-long friend thinks that AIDS was created by the “white” U.S. government to “hold down the n---gers”, and she repeatedly recalls being shot at in Bosnia, a decade or so ago, by sniper-fire no less, that after a thorough review of video footage appears to be a figment of her forever enhanced imagination (yes, I’m being kind).

Makes you wonder how the Bosnian insurgents had such bad aim, even in her own dreams.

Hillary as President? Bill back in the ‘hood? They’d have to refit the revolving door to the Lincoln bedroom and reinstall condom machines in the White House bathrooms.

Meanwhile, in Tibet, the barbaric Chinese government continues to savagely pummel the gallant freedom fighters. A boycott of the Beijing Games? Absolutely. It’s high time the Chinese govt were made to pay for their disgraceful oppression of Tibetans. But wait, VANOC’s John Not-For-Long believes a boycott would serve “ purpose other than to penalize athletes who serve as the best role models…” Ever heard of Marion Jones or Ben Johnson, Johnny? Help wipe doping from sports and then you can make that claim. Fools.

Speaking of fools, back here at home, what the devil has happened to the teaching profession? The same BCTF that agreed to standardized testing, now wants it banished because the justified criticisms of their profession, often graduating functional illiterates, is intolerable. Could it be that the most militant, backward union in this Province is more concerned about what standardized tests reveal about teachers? Expediency instead of education. Lovely.

And, never to be off our radar, the Vancouver Mayoral race plods along: Al DivaNova just can’t shake the Vaudeville act, Raymond thinks the (already divided) Asian vote will be enough; Gregor’s back in the Legislature; Sir Shamalot, with no promise left behind, is now the friend of churches too, since his campaign caravan continues to lose traction en route to his Waterloo. And…Peter the Great (who may win the nomination in spite of himself), always fishing in traditional NPA territory, reportedly went to a local gay leather-bar looking to sign members..

I can just see it now…Capt. Vancouver’s statue in crotchless, leather pants and a feather boa.

I think during Passover, I’ll just rent a bunch of movies.

Today's Province Column

Moms who leave babies alone a sign of sad times

David Berner
The Province
Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Me Generation rules.

I parked the car in a Vancouver Safeway lot a few days ago.

Walking toward the store, I saw a baby sitting in her car seat in the back of a car -- alone.
The front, passenger-side window was lowered.
Anyone could open the door.

No parent in sight.

The "mother" came out of the store. She was 35ish, attractive, beautifully dressed in casual sports clothes . . . Mrs. Nike Reebok Lululemon.

"Excuse me, ma'am, do you think that leaving your child unattended in a car is really a good idea?"

She smiled benignly at me. Clearly I am a lunatic.

"I was about to call the police," I said.

She smiled again, even more warmly.

"Well, you do what you think you have to do."

She was so kind to me in my distress. She got into her Beemer and put it in reverse.

"Perhaps you could think about this today," I said.

She smiled and drove off.

This woman was happy, truly happy. Nothing I could have said or done would have upset her perfectly coiffed equilibrium.

I went across the street into a fruit-and-vegetable store, bought some broccoli and tomatoes, paid for them and turned to leave, forgetting the vegetables.

I thought of that British couple who had their four-year-old kidnapped last May. The McCanns were vacationing in Portugal and they left Madeleine and her two-year-old twin siblings alone in a rented condo while they went out for dinner.

Later, I was in a shop on West 4th Avenue. I paid for my purchase and asked the two young saleswomen their assessment of Mrs. Nike Reebok Lululemon.

They freaked. They would never leave their child alone in a car for one second. No running in just for a minute.

Someone asked why I didn't call 911.

Well, last year, much the same thing happened on West 10th Avenue. An infant was alone in a van, with the sliding door open and no sign anywhere of a parent. And I did immediately call the police.

Before the police arrived, the "mother" emerged from a tanning spa with a fashion mag in her hands.

I asked her if this was her car and child. She said they were. I told her the police were on their way. She thought I was a public nuisance. She laughed at me.

When the police arrived, one officer stood by me. The other stood with the mother and the two of them, the mother and the police officer, laughed a lot.

I asked them what was so impossibly funny.

Apparently, there is something inherently hilarious about irresponsible, senseless parents who are born to shop and tan and dine out . . . and the crazy old folk who accuse them of reckless child abandonment.

Watch for the new ABC reality show, based on this growing trend, called Lose Your Kid, Find a Grumpy Old Man.

The early returns from the focus groups say it's a smash hit.

© The Vancouver Province 2008

Oh, Say Can You See?

Last night I saw something amazing...and horrifying on television.

I mean besides Yoko Ono. (See below, next post.)

Apparently, a world court wanted to overturn the right of the state of Texas to execute people found guilty of capital crimes.

That motion, which, if I understood this properly, was actually supported by President Bush (???), was defeated.

Thus, Texas maintains its right to execute prisoners on death row. They have more than anyone.

That wasn't the amazing or horrifying part. That was just the news.

The creepiness was Lou Dobbs and a reporter both crowing that "This is a great day for Texas and for the United States of America," because it means that nobody can tell the sovereign state of Texas what it can or cannot do.

Now, I understand that sentiment.

I can even appreciate that sentiment.

I don't like some Silver Spooned Kennedy heir coming here and telling us how to manage our forests...even if the sonovabitch may have a point. Nobody likes being told how to run their own ship. Fair enough. Got it.

But, "this is a great day for the sovereign state of Texas and for the United States of America" because they have the right to kill people who kill people??????

Now that's progressive and thoughtful.

Break out the bubbly. Civilized killing is still a go.

Yoko Major Bono

On the other hand...Yoko Ono.

Caught just a moment - because that was all I could bear - of this shrieking harridan, this howling shrew, screeching into a microphone, while The Who and her entranced tragic husband, John Lennon, played dutifully on.

Maybe she was a wonderful woman and wife, perhaps she's the greatest mom in the world. I have no idea.

But what was she ever doing presenting herself to the world as an artist?

Help! I need somebody! Not just anybody...

100 Years of Bette Davis and David Lean

Yes, it is now a Betty Davis centennial.

Of course, it is also a David Lean centennial. If, like me, your all-time favorite movie, remains "Lawrence of Arabia," then you will rush to your local magazine shop and buy last week's New Yorker, or just click here for the great Anthony Lane piece.

Meanwhile, back at Bette Davis, hands down the greatest film actress and star of all time (10 Oscar nominations)...try this excellent NY Times piece by Terrence Rafferty in this morning's on-line edition. Then go to Videomatica and rent one of the greatest movies of all time, "All About Eve," and watch star power at its hottest.

Answer to The Threatened

An anonymous commenter has reacted to my small posting about the price of rice doubling with a mind-numbing racially charged statement:

"Rice is expensive? That may be so, but we need to keep our mad system of immigration rollin, rollin, rollin to ensure food scarcity and the destruction of our culture!"

I almost rejected this comment because of its inherent ugliness.

Is out immigration process a thing of beauty to behold?

No, far from it. In so many ways it is a mess.

But this is a country of immigrants and the world has never been more in flux. People are shifting homes from country to country in the millions daily. Thank the airplane, among other things for that. Why do people move? For the same reason that dogs lick themselves - because they can.

Does any of this mean "the destruction of our culture?"

What exactly is "our culture?"

Here in the Western provinces, we are an immature, adolescent society that cannot have a drink without misbehaving, that cannot and will not obey traffic rules or courtesies and that screams bloody murder when the government proposes spending a pathetic $50Million on a better civic art gallery.

This is a culture that must be guarded at all costs?

Oh, wait a mean white culture, anglo culture, non-yellow culture, is that it?

To me, one of the best things about Vancouver, one of the most hopeful things (after the mountains and the sea and the trees, because not much that man has wrought is very impressive) is the now regular sight of mixed-race couples.

Every day we see couples - straight and gay - who are Chinese/Irish, Jewish/Sikh, black/Ukrainian and so on. Some years ago, I attended three weddings in one summer in which all three grooms were Chinese and all three brides were Italian. Bellisima!

And their babies are beautiful.

My mother (May she rest in peace.) said many years ago, "David, the future of the human race is slightly chocolate. "

It is difficult for all concerned - those who have been in one place for generations and those recently arrived - to find accommodation. But find it we must.

My family were immigrants. I am a first generation Canadian.

If you think that our immigration system is destroying our culture, you should try Germany or the Netherlands these days. You'd just love it. Or London, where there are now as many mosques as churches.

Good luck, brother.