thanksgiving, then election day

Rachel and Stella graced me and C with their presence this Thanksgiving weekend. We ate turkey, potatoes, squash, cranberries, stuffing, graving, asparagus ... and pumpkin pie. Almost everything was cooked by C, who bravely volunteered for all-day-hot-kitchen duty.

Paranoid android eating beans the next day.

At one point we all went over to the college where I work, so Stella could climb torpedoes and play with cannons and anti-aircraft guns and all manner of things that little girls dream of ... I guess.

And then: the obligatory trip to my studio, which, like our election, inspires both improvised models and many flat denials.

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As for the election (in Canada, we vote today): this is an essay I wrote at the beginning of the campaign, and was shopping around in the UK (well, to three editors anyway, who all replied with variations of "I-like-it-but-we-can't-use-it").

On Not Caring in Canada

Here in Canada: on a Sunday morning they called an election. We go to the polls on October 14th, they announced. My wife and I just sat there on the couch, looking at them.

I couldn't think of a single person who would care about this. Obviously, some handsome people on television cared, but they were being paid to, and I cursed them because the election announcement preempted Coronation Street, which runs on the public broadcaster here. There are a lot of Corrie fans in this country, despite being about half a year behind (which you only really notice when those paper hats of Christmas start popping up).

The apathy is mostly vague and generalized. We are part of the people who don't care about politics at all. Almost all of us/them have post-secondary degrees. Many have masters or doctorates. And all of these people give the same two reasons for not caring: politics is corrupt and politics doesn't matter. There is much eye-rolling and changing of subject. (In this country, educated people only want to talk about their kids, in which they are completely and hopelessly invested; if you don't have kids, then you can talk about your friends', or just children you 'know', as if they were adults, but only in an enfeebled and adoring way.)

Of course, to give corruption as a reason for indifference is to use a premise that is generally true but to use it disingenuously. People participate in corrupt enterprises all the time. If they didn't, then the above-mentioned Christmas would be an economic wasteland. Universities would be torn down to make way for parking garages. We would be friendless. Jobless. And definitely, irredeemably single. The whole thing is a bit like saying that I don't acknowledge the garbage because it stinks. And yet it persists, and piles up, and insists on being reckoned with.

Which brings us to the excuse of irrelevance, which has only slightly more traction. Ironically, the reason we can ignore our domestic politics is because we can afford it. Canadians are affluent. The fence is high, and the walls are thick, and money is a wonderful insulator. But there are clouds, threaded through with red ink, looming on the horizon. (In America, the weather is already there, which is how they've come to the jaw-dropping possibility of a Barack Obama, which is interesting.)

The other kind of apathy at work is specific to the election. We have a Conservative minority government which no one seems to like very much. Their origins are in a rich oil province that hates the rest of the country. Unsurprisingly, the black stuff still leaks out here and there, when they do things like cut arts funding (the prime minister, who some people think looks a little like Darth Vader, has since flatly stated that ordinary people wouldn't care). These same Conservatives are about to win a majority. Why? Because their competition is very, very bad.

Does being bad at something diminish one's enjoyment of it? If so, then Stéphane Dion should be a seeping pillow of tears on the election trail. Mr. Dion is the leader of the Liberal party, an organization often called Canada's natural governing party. In this election, they are poised to implode. Their events draw fifty people at a time. This is because Mr.Dion does not speak comprehensible English. Also, he is extremely unpopular with Francophones. As might be expected, he's boldly thrust himself front and centre, and premised his entire campaign on a complicated environmental initiative. No one knows who he is or what the hell he's talking about. We look at him and shrug. (He should have gone the route of John McCain. Doomed in an election he'd been waiting his whole life for, Mr. McCain has performed a neat trick -- he's replaced himself with an Alaskan MILF, and started racing for the base.)

Still: the drum will beat away, and all of us will vote on election day. Say what you will about the western media, but it is very good at pushing the herd, at building the kind of internal guilt/excitement/pressure that is normally reserved for blockbuster films. We'll vote because it's something we're supposed to do and, lacking any understanding of the thing, we'll mark our pieces of paper and be on our way to be bigger issues, like whether Fizz will catch John at his affair, or if a merciful God will strike David Platt dead.

{Author's note: Since then the apathy has been attenuated, somewhat, by the economic Ypres blowing up from the US. More importantly -- the Corrie storyline has moved along nicely.}

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Superhero? Not today, mixed media on canvas, 8x8 inches. *Sold* this weekend.


  1. i dont know how you feel about it, but im so tired of politics.

    happy thanksgiving, canada.

  2. awesomeness ... your painting ....
    politics. esch. i am So tired of it all!!!!


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