big days

i've barely had a chance to process all that's gone on in the last 48 hours. yesterday sure was a big news day. the kind that leaves a person feeling utterly depleted, having been tugged in so many emotional directions. the kind that renders you slapped, churned, and spent. like raunchy unscheduled sex, but not really.

a good number of us exhaled a wee bit upon hearing the findings of the arar commission. i guess it's like a sense of collective vindication to finally have some official person, after some officious process, confirm what most people already believed: that maher arar was indeed tortured in syria. i haven't read it, but it does not, however, seem to validate what else we believe: that maher was snatched unjustifiably by u.s. authorities and that canadian authorities truly let him (and the rest of us) down by obtaining and sharing info about him in shady ways to shady officials in washington and wherever else, and by allowing him to languish in a syrian prison ten months and ten days longer than he fucking should have. the so-called fact finder's report is at least one step towards something big and important for maher and his family - and its more than closer. and for those of us who have become attached to maher through working with amnesty or any of the amazing groups battling the monstrous security agenda, this represents a critical moment in the effort to credibly challenge the abandonment of human rights and civil liberties that is now the rule in this suffocating pre-911 context. but i digress.

when harriet miers withdrew from the stupid nomination, i felt a level of glee that someone this distant from any of that just ought not feel. it's as if i myself have been saved from having her sit next to me for the rest of my life reading passages from the old testament and scowling judgmentally at my life choices with her arms folded across the the front of an ill-fitted jacket with shoulder pads. with everything so messy for the republicans, maybe dubya will come up with a nominee with actual credentials. if i were one of his advisors - and let's thank christ i'm not - looking at how dangerously close the gop is to imploding, i'd be pushing for a slightly appeasing nominee, one with fewer affiliations to sickening blatantly right-wing groups like exodus ministries. bye harriet. thanks for walking us through the departure from your fifteen minutes on your blog.

on a less ridiculous note, i wish i had more time to sit quietly with the feelings that washed over me as i took in the special news reports and retrospectives that proliferated the media with the
passing of rosa parks. her name still has the power to conjure up waves of humility in even the moderate activist, let alone mainstream observers. for me, the relevance of the american civil rights movement - with all its key players - is not lost on my evolving identity. i think my love-hate relationship with iconography and symbolism and the cult of celebrity is in real-time. but i somehow concede the value of figures dotting the timelines of history. people like ms parks, now frozen into mythological proportions, do provide inspiration. they almost have to be caricature-ized in order to inspire subsequent generations, especially young people. like me. anyways, my feelings are too preliminary and cheesy to describe here now. but i'm sure feeling it.



my candidate's name is alain. he just called...

him: i'm swinging by the zone captain's house in zone 9 in a few minutes, did you want me to drop off a few of those door-knockers that were delivered today? i don't want to mess with whatever system you have for this.
me: what in the christ would make you think i have any kind of a system for that?
him: (nervous chuckle) well, i just assumed.
me: i wouldn't do that.
him: so should i leave some with her?
me: well my mind is on the other side of the universe right now, so i can't think of how many we should give her. it requires broader thinking about how many we need to allocate for newly prioritized neighbourhoods based on scheduling and volunteer availability. i just don't know.
him: ok, so then i should leave some with her?
me: well did they arrive in any sort of batches? like how many are in a stack? are you just going to hunch over your trunk in the rain and count out an arbitrary number?
him: i guess i'll just do what you tell me.
me: are they countable?
him: let's see, we ordered 3000 total ... there are 2 boxes with i guess 1500 each ... 6 stacks ... so there are piles of 250 each
me: oh. well that was easy.
him: (still relatively calm) so should i leave some with her?
me: yeah, ok. give her 250 for now.
him: ok.
me: and could you make a note of that somewhere?
him: err, uh, sure ... uh, ya i suppose ...
me: (interrupting) even just on the box somewhere with a sharpie? my mind is ... i just ... i don't ... i just ... i feel pretty [whistling sound] right now.
him: um, YES.


smoke and mirrors

my cigarette consumption has risen dramatically in the past week. my candidate says it's his fault, and i told him he's right. even this dinky municipal election sucks up a shocking number of hours. way more than i had originally signed up to give. but the adrenaline of a campaign for people like me is wholly intoxicating. especially now that we're less than two weeks from e-day, i complain about being tired or over-extended, but i still walk around with this sorta heady feeling about the possibility of a win. i'm also gloating a bit because my guy has shed his 'nice guy' approach. not that he's morphed into some kind of cut-throat candidaterminator, but he's letting us amp up the messaging. we're now targeting opponents in a manner that three months ago would have made him squirm. in physiological terms, i think his balls have dropped (don't tell him i said that). ah, the splendour of bearing witness to this moving metamorphisis of babe to contender.

distractions such as municipal affairs have allowed me to shelve, or at least deny, other bubbling turmoils. i think i'm relieved. however, it feels like any moment, what swirls underneath may come shooting out of me in sudden, and perhaps inappropriate ways. i'm doing some dealing-with-things in stolen moments here and there, but i'm damn sure i'm not dealing. some of what has been going down in recent weeks is just too shitty to mop up right now. it's like an overflowed tub in which i need to immerse myself for a long soak before even thinking about a clean-up. the inability to soak in it, along with other flawed needs, has resulted in a fairly decisive retreat on my part from the few important people in my life. it's better this way.

so here i am, minding my own business, rolling onwards like a crazy steel ball being shot around a pinball machine, and what happens last night? i met a woman who has 6-8 months to live. she's 42. i am only the second person she told. she has chosen not to divulge the prognosis to her friends because when the cancer first appeared two years ago, she said they treated her "weird". now she's miserable carrying this terminal reality all by her lonesome. she's full of regret and pain. she's not afraid of dying, she's afraid of not having done anything important. she wishes she had had children in order to leave some a legacy. it is impossible to fathom how she feels right now ... for all i know, she has left millions of imprints throughout her life as legacies, but here, near the end, she feels how she feels - what i can't know. all i do know is that such conversations leave a gal thinking about what my legacy might be, whatever that means. if i go tomorrow, i won't feel angsty about legacies unleft. being relatively comfortable with death - mine or anyone else's - i think comes from being so uncomfortable with life. may sound odd, but it's all ok with me. and at least i've got that.


the breakthrough event

this is where i spent most of last weekend, which may be a contributing factor in why i have shot back up to a half pack a day this week. i can't get over the irony of the title of the meeting when in fact, many of us saw how much is still broken down in terms of organizational strategy vis-a-vis quebec. those of us involved in the building of this social-democratic project in quebec can't help but feel beleaguered by the ups and downs of federal/provincial party relations. on the one hand, we genuinely believe the willingness of jack layton to place quebec high on the priority list. on the other hand, it remains unclear (despite thousands of memos, meetings, handshakes, brainstorms) what exactly that means. so to witness an occassion wherein a coupla hundred candidates and organizers are assembled under one roof but no obvious attempt was made to maximize an opportunity to raise internal consciousness about the quebec priority, let alone name one, was pretty frustrating. nonetheless, it was very important to have that number of quebec candidates there to feel a part of the larger party, to meet and hear from leaders and strategists, and to really convey a strong presence. and ed sure was inspiring, as always. check out our peeps who did a candidate's tour through the hill on monday.

the thing is, a lot of resources - human and financial - were expended for that gathering. and there were good aspects of it. but since my single-minded focus on building the party in quebec now dictates my perceptions of everything to do with the ndp, i can't pick between feeling uneasy or angry about how we once again failed to strategically acknowledge the question of quebec in our party. some would say that the nature of this gathering would not have been the place for it. which fuels my point. until such time as we, as a party, have consistent internal adherence to a clearly defined approach to quebec as a priority, to which resistance will absolutely not be tolerated, then every single gathering, of every kind, is the right place to insert that discussion... somehow. that's all i'm saying.

as an aside, speaking of human energies expended -- at one point, i ran into a guy who was hired earlier this year into a junior job at the federal party office and who i've had occasion to meet all of twice. upon seeing me in the corridor, he hugged me as if he was a drowning victim and i was some sort of floatation device. irrelevant, but telling. the staff were all just drained.

hang on - someone's at the door.

okay, finally one of the candidates for my own ward has bothered to drop by. despite the brylcreem and leather jacket, he came across quite well. except that he didn't have any interest whatsoever in discussing actual issues. i was the victim of a drop and run. though when i told him of my involvement with a campaign in the neighbouring ward, he seemed too curious to know who it is i think my guy has to beat. i answered, ALL OF THEM.

measure of a man

at any given moment, i am harbouring profound disappointment in a dozen or so men, half of whom are guys i know personally. that is nothing new. but i mostly do my disappointment in private. lately, the royal we appears to be publicly disappointed in several public men. as a big fan of accountability, i guess i should be pleased.

as soon as it began, the trial of saddam hussein was adjourned so the defense can prepare its case (because two years in detainment is apparently not enough time to devise some sort of plan). reports go on and on about hussein's appearance or about how "the people" of iraq are are elated or livid about the trial. but no one seems to be reporting on the real injustice which is that he is being tried in a non-descript iraqi courtroom instead of at the icc.

it makes me cringe to agree with hussein himself who refused to even confirm his name for a judge and trial that he considers illegitimate. sickeningly, the man's got a point. my feelings on this have litte to do with my lingering disgust with the gong show that was his capture, it's timing and manner. it has more to do with the fact that this dinky trial seems part of an ongoing shell game - the programming of the masses by the white house - slight of hand, distraction, smoke and mirrors, and all that shit. how the fuck are we supposed to take any of this seriously when he's been held in an american base all this time and now the trial starts in the midst of american occupation in a location where americans are still, despite appearances, in charge?

to the almighty american freedom fighters who conveniently pulled hussein out of a hole when we were all at the edge of our seats waiting for bin laden and/or a wmd and who now want us to admire in awe the justice being done instead of questioning the legitimacy of the so-called war in iraq: give me a fucking break. listen, i'd love nothing more than for this man to answer for the atrocities he oversaw. but if you are so damn eager to proclaim yourselves arbiters of justice, then put your money where your mouth is and get him tried in the hague.

there was something oddly sad about seeing sadaam trussed up in a white play pen glaring sleepily at the judge. i won't say i felt sorry for him, but i will say that i feel sorry about the whole thing. that it happened under such fucked up circumstances and will play itself out under more of the same. that now that he's up for scrutiny, we can't do it up right. that the icc continues to be undermined such that it can't just stroll over to so-and-so jail cell and pluck out an international criminal and just say "thanks ever so much, we'll take it from here."

meanwhile, closer to home, the man at the center of "gumgate" testified before the parliamentary standing committee on government operations and estimates, waving a pack of dentyne ice in the air and claiming he is a "victim" of misrepresentations. i see him as a mere stand-in, a man being measured in place of larger more nebulus targets that can't be neatly made to take the fall, can't be hung out to dry, can't be squeezed into a witness chair. i'm not convinced that anyone other than the conservative caucus gives a good christ about how many meals or breath fresheners the guy charged to his expense account. most of us are just salivating for a little frickin' justice. and so people who need political points have scrambled over to dingwall. for the moment. i'm not suggesting that some (most?) of these hang-men deserve what they get. what i'm saying is that these temporary 'hits' shot into our collective arm by ethics commissioners and auditors are like the methadone of justice: poor substitutes intended to wean us off the real fucking thing.

so i guess i'm neither pleased nor relieved to see these men measured this way. i can't shake the feeling that what these resource-sucking legal proceedings and public grillings really serve are political agendae and/or the need to provide temporary relief to a society that is craving desperately for justice that is truly blind.


welcome back, germain

if life is about achieving balance, then my scales have been tipped back a little bit in the right direction with the return of my cbc. hard rain on my skylights woke me earlier than my usual wake-up time today. i rose early enough today to listen to the glorious return of the house, and all was well with the world, at least for an hour.

those of us who were supporting the locked-out cbc workers and/or suffering the absence of this deeply important part of our lives have been glued to this site, voraciously following the ups and downs of the dispute. it was an excruciating period. in fact, to call it a labour dispute is to minimize the gravity of the situation. details of finer points of negotiation notwithstanding, the handling of the situation by management conveyed a sinister approach to labour relations, the ripple effects of which have yet to be observed. witness the lock-out in pictures.

anyhoooo, it was almost spiritual this morning to be up - neither bright eyed nor bushy tailed - but up enough to hear the incomparable anthony germain take on prime minister paul martin regarding the new york speech that has ottawa buzzing. even though martin dodged it, the question was utterly necessary: can we assume all this posturing for american political and public audiences is the birth of the long-awaited spine canada has so desperately needed, or should we just chalk it up to pre-election campaigning? regardless, i wonder if cnn audiences who saw him - or anyone down there, for that matter - gives a good god damn what our venerable prime minister has to say about the importance of holding true to nafta agreements and whatnot. the average american - from dc politicos to patriots in the deep south - is indifferent to canada in every way. the absence of access to softwood lumber sure isn't the pivotal issue that will once and for all force americans to look north and take us seriously. so too is the vague threat of turning our oil export intentions to china or india unlikely to snap the usa into attention.

our love-hate relationship with the big superpower below is polarizing and electorally convenient, but the sad truth is that no such emotional turmoil about us exists down there. it's not even that they couldn't be arsed, it's that they've never heard of us. and if they have, they have no idea that 2.5 billion worth of trade happens every day between us. and if they do, it's doubtful they believe that life wouldn't go on if anything happened to that trade. because the american life does go on, and will. besides, if we suddenly became a contender or a factor to Someone In Charge down there, they'd just kick the shit out of us with bombs and sanctions and shit. so who fucking cares.

must go prepare street sheets for the brave canvasser who i am sending into a very tough neighbourhood on behalf of our guy. today is e-22. thank god.


pilot lights

have mercy. i am sitting here as a pamsicle in my own fucking home. the furnace is conked and the service guy can't come until tomorrow. i dare not contemplate the potential symbolism of the pilot light in my furnace being off. a powerful metaphor, when you think about it. the sheer importance of that function notwithstanding, even the terminology of pilot is kinda profound. the driver, the guide, the navigator. the one at the controls. now poof, gone. and so the ensuing paralysis and dysfunction is rather poignant. i've long had the sickness of plucking symbolism out of most anything, but ever since my friend beck recently came to the grandiose conclusion that she was finally going to pass a spanish class because she drove up to find that parking was free on that first day of the semester, i realize i'm in pretty good shape.

i am unable to find it funny that i am too immobile to cook, and too cold to open the freezer to retrieve microwavable leftovers.

not to mention that after three days of complete and utter sleepiness, not knowing if it was a pre-sick thing or not, i awoke today with the inevitable itchy throat / drippy nose combo. which makes the deep freeze that is my home all the more infuriating. or hilarious. i am forcing myself to try to get some work done instead of burrowing under the comforters, the mere thought of which makes me drool. currently, i am sporting two pairs of pants, a t-shirt, two sweaters, thick boot socks, warm fuzzy slippers, and the big huge indian shawl that once was my grandmother's is wrapped several times - unceremoniously - around my neck. like a thick sandalwood-scented noose.

and it's not even winter yet. and i was raised in the frigid prairie tundra. this is pathetic.

in case you've ever pondered the thought: yes, it is incredibly difficult to type while wearing cheap magic mini gloves, or any other type of hand-warmer, for that matter. and it is very hard to concentrate when the aggressive swirling of one's own breath occupies the whole tired view.

he's that good

just noticed that my boy matt good has again posted a link to this blog from his site. gawrsh, i'm honoured. bienvenue to matt's fans who stumble over here, however by accident. did he tell you we're working up a bit of a project? i haven't really told anybody about it on account of not wanting to jinx it or incite some jerk to run off with the idea. but i think matt might have mentioned it. we're both pretty stoked. all i will say is this: tour bus, unlikely venues, guitar, politics, controversy. now if only matt can make it through the big deluxe edition cd/dvd set release and related tour dates, we might be able to get planning. busy rock stars.

as for this page, well i've been doing a bit o' navel gazing lately. shocker. but now that you're here, it's not like i feel any pressure to be profound. my brain works at a snail's pace as compared to matt's. and my stomach can hardly stand the daily exhaustive headline scan that his can. i suppose i rant, every so often, less intelligently, about things that aren't hard to trip across.

so i ask again, am i the only one who is stunned by the lakota tv commercials? seriously? i really can't get over it. i'm telling you people, some ad execs (are there even any members of the lakota nation in charge of the company?) got together and decided it was ok to put traditional native headdress on joe and jill arthritis sufferers who dance around pain-free to a culturally ambiguous soundtrack. i just can't fucking believe it. can you imagine if an ad for a medicine from ... wait a minute, i dont' even need to go through the comparables that would get people all up in arms. most any other cultural appropriation would incense people. actually, it just wouldn't happen. apparently, first nations iconography is still up for exploitation. makes me proud.

but what i really wanted to vent about today is oprah. i hardly know what to think. i realize the disturbing frequency with which i evoke her here, but holy jesus it's hard not to. today she announced that her program last week on america's most wanted child predators led to the arrest of two of the fbi's top fugitives. she's giving out $100,000 rewards to viewers to whose tips lead to arrests. she's so uppity and sanctimonious about this newest of her crusades. she delivers sermons into the lens with the fervor of a preacher/politician. it annoys me, but it works. man does she wield some fucking power. she has the power to put millions of viewers to work on any issue she wants. and i admire that she has chosen this one. but i can't help be irritated that someone with that level of influence and those enormous resources will mobilize viewers but not politicize them. she wants to do good, but her drippy speeches turn my stomach. it's the same churning that goes on when oprah cameras head into the middle east or eastern africa to investigate rape as a tool of war: she wants to expose westerners to the atrocities suffered by women, but won't call them abuses of women's human rights and certainly won't explain to viewers how it all happened. she wants to shock viewers with the awfulness of it all, but not offer any analysis as to where blame may lie. she doesn't have to, but damn, i wish she would.

if i'm really honest with myself, i think i'd admit that i'm mostly just jealous. or angry. it grinds my ass that those of us trying to achieve real justice, real equality, real peace, are struggling in the trenches to gain numbers, support, political clout, public crediblity, to affect change. we are desperate for resources, for wider audiences, for a pulpit from which millions of eager consumers of a message would be reached. we are thirsting for a spokesperson with mass appeal enough to cross popularity and political lines, to inspire people to stand up. someone who people have grown to trust over time, who we watched evolve from big hair and big earrings to big issues and big power. we need an oprah. only ours would be an outspoken catalyst for action who cultivates politicized activists and leaders, not just disciples.

so where the fuck is she?


head games

actual bona fide thoughts that passed through my head while performing at the rainbow last night, to illustrate the randomness and bizarreness of my thought patterns in general:

- i should really clean this microphone with a disinfectant wipe once in awhile
- but if voter turnout is 40% again, then we only need around 3000 votes
- i'm so full
- was eliza for real?
- if i replace the linoleum, i may as well replace the stove, maybe get a gas range
- ok, no really, i'm never going to phone him again, ever
- damn, forgot to submit that invoice
- i'm so full
- one of will or harry is gay, but which one?
- i bet they never ever vacuum this carpet - i should slip my shoes back on
- holy crap that guy is super hot
- wonder if they really liked my pumpkin tiramisu tonight
- i think costa rica has a high rate of precipitation in december
- i'm so full
- is armand assante dead?
- i've really got to look into setting up a new high interest savings account
- they're probably dumbfounded by the hideousness of my roots

ps: many giving of thanks to
the incomparable jfarr and her cousin kelly for hosting what could only be described as a belly-filling thanksgiving affair last night. more delightful than the bountiful potluckery was the warm company of good people.


buzz, of sorts

i'm yawning incessantly and totally head-fuzzy, but i can't stop being awake what with all the buzzing thoughts swarming me like intent wasps -- to wave a hand at them would be dangerous, and blowing cigarette smoke all over them ain't working. the campaign has moved right the fuck in and at this point has pulled up a big comfy chair smack dab in the middle of my head space. can't stop thinking about the tasks undone, calls unmade, the flyer blitz intended for this weekend, the soggy lawn signs, the perpetual search for free photocopies, the dearth of reliable volunteers, the budget not yet raised.

yesterday it hit me... what if he doesn't win? i mean, it really just struck me. what if he loses? i haven't been glib, like most of the team. i'm the one pushing for lower expectations and saying don't get your hopes up and c'mon guys, we can't assume any victories here. but i've only been doing that because somebody has to. because i gotta keep it real. because if we were all skipping around all tra-la-la and shit, this campaign would be totally fucked. even though the buzz around town is that our guy is a front runner. but now i'm gasping for someone to grip my shoulders, look me straight in the eye and say you've got this one in the bag. someone not from the campaign team of not-so-experienced electioneers, someone not likely to assume that because we all think he's a pretty swell guy, votes will magically get cast.

speaking of buzzing, my head was last night. maybe my life really is just intended to serve as a warning to others - this time about the 4 to 5 hour delayed effects of cookies made of oatmeal, coconut, butterscotch chips, and um, pot. it wasn't until well after the chris rock dvd and making my way home that my brain, mouth and skin all started pulsating and gaining weight. i was so messed up for a wee while in the wee hours that all i could do was flip channels with my head cocked to one side and my lips puffed out like a fish's. i shit you not.

surely unrelated is the fact that my counsellor kicked the (emotional) crap out of me yesterday. as did my mother. and i'm not quite right since the recent departure of a certain important person in my life for an undetermined length of time. also, i'm really really pissed off about the new tv commercial for lakota herbal medicine that has "everyday" people dancing around their jobs wearing traditional native headdress. i just can't fucking get over it.


sweet harriet

hardly a response to infuriating news could be more succinct than a piece like this. thank you, political hacks with multimedia skills and spare time. we couldn't have said it better ourselves.

george + harriet


monday a.m.