Friday, August 31, 2007

The Nuge is Huge with no Subterfuge.

Ted Nugent. For a long time, he has been a right-wing nutjob. For an even longer time, he has been a gun-toting nutjob. And for even longer than that he has been a terrific guitar player, an adequate singer and a poor song writer. Recently, youtube and the airwaves of TV and radio stations around the country began to show clips of Nugent being a right-wing, gun-toting, guitar-playing nutjob. At a concert at the House of Blues, he came out on stage holding two machine guns. Even for Ted Nugent, two REAL machine guns is a little extreme. He then proceeded to threaten the lives of the two leading candidates for the Democratic party's presidential nomination, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. The video of this entertaining outburst is featured here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3PriJ31M70

The best part - the drummer giving Nugent a rim shot after his incredibly offensive comments, as though he is doing a stand-up routine. Now, there is nothing wrong with a musician having political views. Even if those views are wrong (Alice Cooper, I'm looking at you.) And there is nothing wrong, I feel, with that performer expressing those views on stage, as long as it isn't obnoxious in a Bono-of-U2 sort of way. But there is a substantial difference between the Dixie Chicks saying they are embarrassed that George Bush is from the same state as they are, and the Nuge going off on everyone Democratic in some blanket, hate-spewing way while holding machine guns.

I don't think as big a deal would have been made out of this bizarre act had he actually mentioned the issues over which he was angry. But instead, I guess he assumed his audience that night would be die-hard, redneck, Republican-to-the-bone Democrat-haters, and they would cheer any suggestion that Nugent made about murdering anyone even remotely left-wing. As you can tell from the video, it seems he was right. So the video merely suggests that Nugent is a lunatic. And it might have died there, had he not gone on a call-in show and attempted to prove, solidly and firmly, once and for all, that he IS a lunatic. That video is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TLE6DLZ-QA

You'll note that his response is being aired on that paragon of journalistic integrity, Fox News. This is the kind of thing Fox News does so that they can say they are "fair and balanced". You see, they disagree with some right-wingers too! They don't support the KKK or the actions of Nugent, so they must be pretty central with their political leanings! Way to go, Fox. Now, you will realize here that the funniest thing in THAT particular interview was not a drummer giving the Nuge a rim shot, but rather John Kasich, guest host filling in for the laudable Bill O'Reilly, saying "you KNOW I know rock and roll"! About as much as I know pomegranates.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "that doesn't make any sense! Pomegranates?" Well, I just wanted to talk like Ted Nugent for a bit. Comparing Mick Jagger riding a giant inflatable penis onto the stage to his own rant? Ridiculous. Saying that trying to explain it would be like explaining an orgasm to a eunuch? Insane. And that "drive safe bit? Proof positive that Nugent is officially a lunatic.

Frank Zappa explains why music is the way it is today. How prescient!

Frank Zappa was a genius. Not just musically, but generally. Here is proof, and yet another reason I love this man.

http://www.maniacworld.com/Zappa-explains-the-decline-of-music.html

He is absolutely right!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All is right with the world...

After agreeing with Alex Cullen for the first time ever, my faith in his overall idiocy has been re-affirmed. I had forgotten that motion he made to ban trans-fats from the cafeteria at City Hall. It got voted down yesterday. Whew! And I thought he was starting to make sense. And Jan Harder wants to stage a coup! A mutiny! Overthrow the mayor, he isn't doing his job! And he's obviously not being held back by his council, who are clearly concerned only with matters of critical importance to the infrastructure of the city, like bottling our own tap water and banning trans-fats in the cafeteria. Bonkers!

I am not now, nor have I ever been...so bored...

So Doc, being irritated at me for reading yesterday, decides OK, if you're that bored at work, I'll show you what boredom really is. (He didn't tell me this, but I heard him say so on the radio as I went home after the longest, most boring day I have ever spent on the show.) The back story: Republican Senator Larry Craig was busted soliciting gay sex from an undercover officer in an airport bathroom. There have been allegations for many years that this particular senator has solicited gay sex all over America. Now he gets busted doing exactly that. And denies it. His exact words are "I am not gay. I have never been gay." As though there is a chance someone was once gay, but has been "cured". Like, he took that anti-gay pill, went to the meetings, and is now no longer the deviant human being he once was. The idea here is that ONLY a Republican senator would have to hold a press conference to announce that he is NOT gay. Especially one who has voted against homosexuals every chance he got. One who is so adamantly anti-gay. Covering up much?

Much like that other Republican guy...you know, the one who was caught with the crystal meth and the transvestite hookers? Methinks they doth protest too much. And here's the thing. First of all, Craig tries to hide his arrest. He pleads guilty without telling anyone about it - he does not hire a lawyer. He just attempts to sweep it under the rug and ignore the whole thing. And would anyone believe he isn't gay? Having been the subject of so many rumours to that effect for so many years, and now being busted for doing that exact thing? But that isn't the issue we keep seeing. He does not attempt to explain away the allegations, does not protest his innocence in any criminal wrong-doing, he merely protests, loudly and at a press conference, that he is NOT GAY! Here's the thing - you did something illegal. Who CARES if you're gay? Lots of people are. Unless you're a Republican. THEN people must care. You can't be a gay Republican - that's like being a fat vegan!

So anyway, what comes out of this is outrage that it took place in a public restroom. That gay men have some secret code, where they tap their feet and run their hands up the leg of the guy in the stall next to them, as some sort of signal that they are primed and ready for some gay sex in public. Outrage! Which of course is a double standard - if we found out that men could go do this in a stall of a women's bathroom, with some kind of code for heterosexual sex in a public washroom, there would be rejoicing all around! We can do this? Yes! If only I had knowsn when I was single! As it is, I think our outrage comes more from envy than anything else. Gay guys can do this but we can't? Lucky gay guys! They get all the cool sex! And...if they're mad at their boyfriends, they can just punch them! Arguments can end in fistfights, and as such might not drag on for days! They get ALL the breaks.

So today our experiment was conducted in the public bathroom at the train station. There was enough commuter traffic, we figured, that SOMEONE might stop in and proposition me if I sat in the right stall long enough. I started at 6:45. For the first HOUR, there was no one in there. At all. Not a single person except me. I had been sitting, bare-assed, on a toilet seat with my pants around my ankles for an hour, and there was NOTHING going on. I wanted to quit, come back to the station, but they wouldn't let me. I had to remain where I was, developing a ring around my ample behind where the toilet seat was cutting into me, waiting for SOMETHING to happen. 45 minutes later, at 8:30, I thought for sure I could go back. Nothing had happened, there had been only four guys through the bathroom, and none had sat in the stall next to mine. But no. Doc wanted me to stay.

I had nothing to read. There wasn't even any clever bathroom graffitti to keep me amused. There was NOTHING to do except wait for a phone call. Now THAT made me think of smoking more than anything. But I didn't. I waited. Until my ass was numb, my legs were like jelly, and my brain was pretty well mush. Utterly unpleasant, it was. Nothing has ever been more boring to me. Ever. Except that time I watched Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor for three hours plus. Only THAT was more boring. Finally, it's 8:40. The morning dish is on, the show's almost over, it's time to go home, right? The phone rings, I pick it up, and just then, while I'm waiting on the phone - it happens!

There's a guy next to me, in the next stall, tapping his foot! It's the code! But I'm on hold with the station, I can't even tell the guys about it. Also, we had not really planned that far ahead - if it DID happen, what was I to do? I waited and waited until they came back on the phone and then...the battery in Doc's cell phone died. The phone was dead. I was now alone in a bathroom with a guy who was propositioning me, and I had no contact with the outside world. What if this guy wanted to do me some bodily harm? (In a way other than the Larry Craig way.) I could not call for help! Then I thought - really, what are the chances? Right now, at the end of the show, just as the whole thing is about to end, a guy comes in and does this? This guy has to be a plant, a guy sent by Doc to freak me out.

I stood up on the toilet in my stall to peer over the edge. If it was a plant, it would be Jason, and I would know. If it was NOT a plant, then he would expect me to look over the stall anyway, so either way I was safe, right? I peeked over. I couldn't see the guy's face, but he was wearing a police hat! Wait a minute, was I the victim of a sting myself? Was this what happened to poor, not-gay Senator Craig? I almost panicked until I saw the blackberry to his ear, and realized he was talking to the guys back at the studio on the blackberry. It WAS Jason, after all, and he HAD been sent to freak me out. Unfortunately, that reaction was not captured live on the air, since the phone diead at the exact wrong time, but I wish I hadn't been thrown off by the police hat. Had I known it was Jason, and that he was live with the guys, I would have thrown the door to his stall open, whipped off my pants and yelled "let's do this thing!" Then they could have caught HIS frightened reaction on the air. As it was, all they caught was my long, painful, boring suffering in a bathroom stall with nothing to do for TWO HOURS.

Back to Doc being irritated at me...or, Business = Busy-ness.

Oh right. I was writing that last post to explain why Doc has been irritated with me lately. The last few mornings, I have been able to get my hands on but one paper, the estimable Metro, and so I have officially run out of things to do at about 5:33 each morning. That leaves three and a half hours of the Doc and Woody show, during which I have to find something to occupy my mind. I normally go out for a smoke during the 6:00 news, the 7:00 news and the 8:00 news each and every morning. This irritates Doc as well, since he feels I should be around in case Randall says "sex" instead of "six" or "drilling a hole into a porn star" instead of "corporate embezzelment". I happen to agre with him there - if there is fun to be made at Randall's expense, I want to be there. But I have become so accustomed to this habit that it is very difficult to break.

I am currently attempting to quit smoking, and the first thing I am doing is breaking my habits. Lately, I have cut down to just one smoke per show, usually at or near 7:00. This has been working fine, but it means I need something else to do with my mind while I try not to think about smoking. Most days, this means reading. But when there are no newspapers, I will grab something else. CD liner notes, rock and roll books lying around the station, whatever I can find. But I have now read all of our book on the Beatles, the whole book about Genesis, and even most of the Encyclopedia of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, an authoritative tome that devotes two pages to April Wine and one paragraph to Deep Purple. So lately I have grabbed whatever book I happened to have with me - most recently, yesterday, that book was Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them", a fascinating book about Tucker Carlson, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and the rest of the right-wing obnoxious jerks who populate American television.

I could make the case for this being a book that will help me with work - why, just this morning, I was watching a clip of Tucker Carlson and his obnoxious program on youtube, where they were talking about that senator in the States who IS NOT GAY, and Carlson was telling a story about how he was approached in a bathroom when he was in high school and propositioned, and then he went and got some friends and together they all ganged up on this pervert and beat him up. But it wasn't a hate crime. Tucker Carlson is OK with gay people. He says.

But I will not attempt to make this case, because that truly is not my motiviation for reading this book. I am reading it simply because I like it, and because it gives me something to do that isn't thinking about smoking cigarettes. This is why Doc is crusty. He feels that if the show is SO boring that I can read a book, then I must be a terribly unproductive employee. My position is that I do my actual work before the show begins, and that all attempts I make to do more work during the show itself can only go so far as the materials with which I am provided. Without a computer or a newspaper, what am I to do? You see, behind the scenes, Doc finds it incredible that I am able to ignore the bonkers atmosphere and concentrate on something as dull as reading. And certainly, we may begin discussing something, but if that discussion is a very good one, we will stop right away and "save it for the air". If we try to recreate a spontaneous discussion that was hilarious off the air, it will sound flat and stupid.

So although we talk, a lot of the time between segments is spent attempting NOT to add anything to a discussion. And if I want to hold on to my hilarious comment by reading softly to myself about right-wing propaganda and the liberal media bias, why not? To be fair, I don't know if Doc is actually annoyed, or just saying so on the air so he can justify torturing me that much more. But it certainly reminds me of an old boss I used to have. I worked at CD Warehouse on St. Laurent, and my boss would get irritated when I spent too much time helping a customer. You see, there were floors to mop also, and racks to arrange. When there was a rush of customers to the cash, and that rush finally ended, and you leaned back to catch your breath, she would appear instantly and say something clever like "if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean". The thing is, there was nothing dirty about the store. All the racks were in good order. All this had been done by someone else just moments ago. But what counted was not that you were doing something worthwhile, it was that you were doing SOMETHING.

I remember once a customer called, asking about a song that was a mdeley of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and What a Wonderful World. I took down her name and phone number and said I would research it and call her back. It took me a long time to figure it out, but I spent my time that day, between other customers, working it out on the computer. Eventually, maybe four hours later, I was able to call back and say I found it. (It's actually a pretty cool song - by a Hawaiian guy named Israel Kamikawiwo'ole - try downloading it for free, I've spelled it right.) At the end of my shift, I was taken aside and berated for spending all my time that day screwing around on the computer when I could have been doing something else - dusting the store room, or cleaning the bathroom mirrors or some such thing. I felt fairly strongly that this was ridiculous. Rather than ask what I had been doing, the assumption was made that whatever it was, it was NOT CLEANING. Therefore, it was wrong. Busy work always won out over customer service when that boss was around. So I did not explain myself. I didn't even respond. I merely nodded my head and left. This occurrence, being the last of several of a similar nature, where I felt it belittling to have to ask to explain myself, I no longer work at CD Warehouse.

I hope Doc is just kidding around when he gets irritated at my reading. Because if he's not, I will do my best to sleep between segments instead. Or twiddle my thumbs. Or take up the harmonica. Now, what exactly is it I'm supposed to be doing?

This is what I do in the mornings.

Doc seems to be getting irritated with me. Once I have read the Sun and the Metro and the Citizen in the mornings, I have nothing to do because I am the only person in the studio without a computer. Often, I am able to use one of the available computers in the newsroom, but some mornings (like the last two) I am locked out. You see, because we have many corporate safety features protecting these computers, occasionally the computers are protected from even ourselves. If I leave my computer for three minutes, it automatically freezes. This means I have to log back in. So even if I am reading a newspaper to prepare for the show, I must continually hit the mouse with my elbow to save myself from the log-in process. If I forget, and I leave the computer without logging off at the end of my shift, it will stay locked, such that only myself or "an administrator" can unlock it. I don't know what an administrator is. I think we have one.

Anyway, the last two mornings I have been locked out of my computer. The computer says to me that I am not Tom Pechloff or Nancy Stapleton or Kaiser Souze, and I must therefore use Woody's computer until he arrives. Also, there are four radio stations in our immediate vicinity. Every morning, we get three Citizens and three Suns. And seventy-one copies of the Metro. This means that it is a free-for-all with the papers, first come first served. Doc is usually in before me, and grabs one for our studio. Randall gets one, because he does news for eleven different stations at a time. Also, he's the only news guy in the building who might actually use the newspaper. And the third goes to whoever feels like finding out what's going on in Ottawa that day. Which is rarely me - after all, CHEZ already has their one copy of the Sun and their one copy of the Citizen. This could be easily fixed if I could pick up my own papers on my way into work. But most of them are not delivered to the stores I stop at before I arrive. So I am stuck.

I read the Metro - that takes twenty minutes. There is virtually nothing in the Metro at all that I have not already read on-line or seen on CTV Newsnet or CNN before coming into work. Then I try to snag someone's Sun. If I am able, I will then read that. Then I will attempt to grab the Citizen, one section at a time, while Randall is looking away. Sometimes this works, sometimes he will scowl at me and ask me where that damn Food section is, since there was a very important story about bunt cake that would have made it onto the news had he only been able to find the section, which I had stolen from him. This is how my morning usually goes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ultimate Fighting...humans, not dogs.

The guy who brings Woody his traffic every morning, Ted Easton, is gone. He has moved on from the world of CHEZ 106 to the thriving metropolis that is Timmins, taking with him Canada's largest collection of wrestling memorabilia and the minutiae he has stored in his brain for all things fighting and NASCAR. He would always help us out whenever we needed to talk about Ultimate Fighting or car racing or pro wrestling or whatever. He was the league "commissioner" for Provincial Championship Wrestling here in Ottawa, their Vince McMahon, if you will. Apparently there is a league of some repute in Timmins, and I'm sure he will manage to ingratiate himself with their managerial organization very quickly. Best of luck, Ted. I'm sure that some day you will be able to break free of the figure-four leg-lock that is Timmins and return to the Big Stupid Piledriver that is Ottawa.

The night before Ted's departure, I went over to his house for some entertainment, Ted-style. You see, we had a few traditions, Ted and I. Aside from the getting greased up and rolling around in the backyard to an Enya soundtrack tradition, one that I hope to continue with Jason in the near future. Jason, if you're reading this, hang on to that canola oil. No, Ted and I partook in something we called "Seagal Tuesdays", where every Tuesday after work, we would go back to my house, alter our perceptions insome way, and watch Steven Seagal movies. More often than not, this would happen on the new release day of the latest Seagal direct-to-DVD movie. Which was great, because a new one seems to come out every three weeks or so.

This was more of an "Eric" tradition than a "Ted" one. Steven Seagal is a personal choice for me, and I rarely find another person who can enjoy his movies in the same way I do. For the kinda awesome fighting and the kinda ridiculous everything else. Saturday night was more of a "Ted" outing, where we got together and watched real fighting. Ultimate Fighting, as it were. This is something I have a tough time getting into. I like boxing, and I think martial arts are pretty cool, but the idea of watching these fights never really appealed to me. One of two things happens. Either two almost-naked guys grab each other and roll around on the mat together for ten minutes until one of them manages to choke the other just right, or the fight ends quickly with one guy getting his face caved in. So, it's either very boring or overly brutal.

In boxing, when someone goes down, they count him out. If he gets up in time, he at least has had a chance to regain his bearings, to set himself, and to fight again. In ultimate fighting, when a guy goes down, it's likely from a bare fist to the head or a brutal kick. So he is likely out cold already. Yet the idea is not to let him regain his bearings, to allow him to get up and continue fighting, the idea in UFC is to continue kicking his head in while he lies on the floor until the referee comes over and stops the fight. Punching an unconscious man until you're told not to does not seem very sporting to me, I guess.

Ted maintains that no one has ever died in UFC fighting. Or "mixed martial arts" as it is called. Therefore, he says, it is safer than boxing, where several people have died. This is poor logic, it seems to me. That is like saying UFC is safer than baseball - death toll in baseball being more than zero. But boxing has been around for more than a hundred years. UFC has been around for maybe ten. Ten? Sounds about right. And this UFC thing is more like a bar fight than anything else. I KNOW there are people who are killed unintentionally in bar fights, it happens all the time. So as far as deaths go in this "sport", it isn't a matter of whether or not someone has died. It's a matter of WHEN someone is going to die.

When you die in the radio business, they send you to Timmins. At least Ted is young enough to resurrect himself, to work his way back, and to kick out of that figure-four leg-lock.

More proof that I am right.

The first thing I read in the paper this morning - city councillor Brooks, yet another paragon of simplicity in our fair town, has suggested a mandate to officially announce that Ottawa city council...supports our troops. Because apparently, unless we make an official statement, with a rubber stamp and a seal of departmental approval, then the assumption we would make is that we do not support our troops. Not saying it out loud, it appears, equates to not believing it at all. So go ahead, city council! Proclaim it to the world! We do INDEED support our troops, unlike those OTHER city councils who don't have the ribbons and red shirts to prove it. Those other, soldier-hating cities can eat our asses!

OK. If you really want to support our troops, if you want to buck up their spirits and show them you are on their side and your thoughts are with them, forget red shirts. Forget stickers and hat pins and hip-waders or whatever other empty gestures there may be. Become vocal in efforts to help stop the war. That way, those troops you support will no longer be killed in the service of a fight that cannot be won. And instead of sending over care packages with stuffed animals, teddy bears, popcorn and pictures of bunnies or whatever, send them something they would like, something they could actually use. Like a helmet. Or a hooker. At the very least, porn and Jack Daniels. I KNOW politicians would decry these care packages. I KNOW they would not be politically correct. But then, supporting our troops has nothing to do with politics, right?

Explain something to me, bus folk.

I know there are OC Transpo drivers out there reading my blog - can you explain something to me? How come the kiosks at the major OC Transpo stations - Hurdman, Tunney's Pasture, Lincoln Fields, etc...don't sell bus tickets? And I don't want some kind of crap about how they're contracted to a different company, and that company does not have a license to sell bus tickets, and blah blah blah. So, seriously. Why?

Oh God, what have I done?

I see in the Sun on-line this morning that Alex Cullen is complaining about the stickers on the police cars...which means, I actually AGREE with Alex Cullen on something? Well, I have wracked my brain all morning, going over this issue in my head again and again, and I still have the same opinion. I suppose I will be forced to admit, for the first time ever, that Alex Cullen is right. I'm creeping myself out.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fishing with the stars.

On Friday, Doc and I went fishing with Big Jim McLaughlin, of Just Fishing, and Donnie Walsh, of the Downchild Blues Band. Big Jim and Donnie have been friends for a long time, and share a bond in their love of fishing. Doc and I are by no means experienced fishermen, and we came to the realization that the last time either of us fished was about fifteen years ago. For Doc, that was another trip with Big Jim. For me, it was when I was thirteen. Doc is old. Bob Izumi was supposed to join us, but he did not show up until much later in the evening, after Doc and I had to go home. Which made Donnie and Big Jim annoyed, since Izumi was bringing the sandwiches, and they were starving.

Doc and I weren't hungry though, since we had gone through the Subway drive-thru in Smiths Falls. They actually have a Subway drive-thru! We thought this was unusual enough that we had to give it a go. But it quickly became obvious to us why no one else was using that drive-thru. The woman in charge of the microphone was foreign, with a very very thick accent and a very limited grasp of the English language. Doc and I would confer in the car about what she may have said, which was even more garbled by the poor quality of the standard drive-thru microphone. We would then come to a consensus by means of guesswork, and we would respond. It went a little like this:

Speaker: SREcsfdEre?
Doc: Uh.......hello?
Speaker: Hello, rew#@! Subway fernio.
Doc: Um.......yes?
Speaker: Slathing daltrup blowgreech wouldyoulike?
Doc: What did she say?
Me: I don't know, just order!
Doc: A teryaki chicken and a spicy italian please,
Speaker: Grumfla wergin powerpuffgirls.
Doc: What now?
Me: Usually, they ask about what kind of bread. Just say the regular bread.
Doc: Both on regular bread please.
Speaker: Storpgup porksiblum cheese briptot?
Doc: Yes, cheese on both.
Me: You need to tell them what kind of cheese. Just say regular.
Doc: Regular cheese please.
Speaker: Gurmhaff yuckfrim spazamay.
Doc: Thank you.

We drove ahead (this was a very abridged version of the conversation that actually took place). Then we had to do the whole order over again, without the interference of the speaker and the ability to watch her mouth as she spoke, which really does make it much easier to understand someone. Our order was then handed to us by a young guy who spoke perfect English. We nodded to the couple who were laughing their butts off at us on the Subway patio, and ate up.

Then we went fishing. Between the four of us, we caught twenty-six fish. I caught one, Doc caught two, Donnie caught three, and Big Jim caught twenty. I can't understand this. I mean, it's fishing. All four of us are using the same lure. All four of us are using Jim's rods and reels, which are close enough. We're all throwing our lure into the same water in the same part of the river. How can he possibly be that much better than we are? He kept saying "sorry guys, the fish just don't seem to be around here today, or they're not biting". What he meant was, "for you guys". So...if it had been a good day for the fish, he'd have caught 100 and we'd have five? Well, it certainly proved to me that there is certainly a lot more to fishing than simply putting your worm in the water and reeling it in. I can't explain it - I watched Jim all day - but he is simply a superior fisherman, and has some kind of skill that is amazing. In fact, it is a skill I never knew existed!

Wrist bands...

I would like to state that, despite the condemnation of futile displays of faux-patriotism contained in my previous blog post, I think that sometimes a display of this nature IS a good idea. I think (I'm not 100 percent certain) that Lance Armstrong really started this thing with his LiveStrong bracelets, those yellow bracelets in support of cancer research. And that was a good idea. People talked about them, they wore them, and they bought them, meaning that cancer research got some money. All very good. But now, this has become the way EVERY charity wants to get their message out. And it is no longer a good one.

How many people are in favour of cancer? How many people think lupus is good? How many of us would prefer to see Muscular Dystrophy continue unabated, or diabetes to discover no cure, or MS or Tourettes? OK...I kind of like Tourette's, some of the time. So, does that mean that if I don't wear the yellow cancer bracelet, or the pink breast cancer ribbon, or the white Shingles wrist band, or the green chlamydia hip waders, that I am in favour of these diseases? That I don't want them to find a cure? Can you imagine someone who felt obligated to wear the trappings of their charity to that degree, simply so they wouldn't feel like they were ignoring anyone?

They'd be covered head to toe in these ridiculous trinkets, the anti-nuclear-power Birkenstocks, the save-the-weasels leggings, the pro-nuclear-power giant belt buckle, the enemies-of-the-clap fanny pack, the friends-of-solar-power sweater-vest, and more wrist bands and necklaces and buttons and pins than they would know what to do with. I keep thinking of pictures I saw in the 60s and 70s, where those big jacket buttons were in. Every one of them was a political statement. You know, Vote Nixon, and Down With Segregation and No More Vietnam and so forth. That's what they were for. Why wear them unless you are trying to influence someone's opinion? They are by nature political, as are the bracelets and the ribbons you see today. That is why I hate the support the troops movement so much. Pretending it is NOT political is not only foolish, it is an insult to the intelligence of those who would like to participate without any affiliation.

Support our troops...it is, quite literally, the least you can do.

Randall's comment on Friday got me thinking about the whole issue of "support our troops". Perhaps "issue" is not the right word, but that's all of a sudden how it feels. It feels like some sort of political ploy, and putting a flag on your car or a sticker on your bumper or a ribbon on your coat or a wrist band on your wrist or wearing red on Fridays or wearing a silly hat on Silly Hats For Troops Day feels a bit like putting one of those "elect the incumbent" signs on your front lawn during an election. The consensus seems to be that if you DON'T support the troops, you are some kind of evil anti-Canadian renegade, someone whose opinion should be ignored and vilified, and the poster child for non-patriotic villainy.

Well, I would agree that not supporting the men and women who are in Afghanistan on our behalf is a fairly contemptible attitude. But who are these people who don't support our troops? Have we ever heard from them? Is there anyone out there who says "screw the people who are dying in Afghanistan"? No. I have heard this from no one. But why does it feel like the people who are sending Labatt Blue overseas, and providing the troops with Tim Hortons, and pluggin the red shirt deal, are FIGHTING for something. It strikes me that it goes without saying that each and every one of us would prefer that our fighting men and women not die. So why do we have to show it? Isn't that kind of like having bumper stickers that say "I'm against genocide"? Well, of course you are! "What a useless bumper sticker", one would think upon seeing it. Anti-abortion stickers, pro-choice stickers, things of that nature? I get that. THAT is a polarizing issue, and one where people want their opinions to be known and perhaps influence others through bumper sticker viewership.

But come on! All of a sudden, the sense I get is that the people who want us to proudly display our support for our soldiers, the ones who want us to wear our "patriotism" on our sleeve, are subtly, quietly, but very surely equating support for the troops with support for the war. I am certain this is at least a part of the reason we get innundated with this crap. I think there will come a time when someone in government wants to extend our tour of duty in the quagmire that is Afghanistan, and will point to all of us citizens and say "there IS support for the war! Look how many Canadians are wearing red today"! The fact of the matter is, wearing red, putting a sticker of a ribbon on your car, supporting the troops...it is the LEAST you can do. Quite literally. It has exactly as much impact as sitting on your ass at home eating Clodhoppers and watching The Longest Day on AMC.

So why do we now have stickers on our cop cars? Why are the cops "supporting the troops". Would anyone, anywhere, think for even a second that our cops DON'T support soldiers? No. You'd have to be a complete idiot to think that. So what is it then? In a way, it's a very political action, that indicates, on behalf of our men and women in uniform, a tacit approval of the war itself. Ask every police officer in Ottawa whether they support our troops, and of course they will say yes. Because EVERYONE would. But ask them if they like the war, if they think it's a good idea, I think you would have a far different opinion. So why is this decided for them?

Yes, our city council voted to have the ribbons placed on the cop cars. Why? What does city council have to do with this issue? Again, I'm calling it, almost inexplicably, an "issue". Did the cops themselves have a vote? Can individual officers decide before getting in their cars whether they want to be a part of this empty gesture? Or are all the cars going to have the ribbon whether they like it or not?

I want to state, for the record here, that I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with wearing red, or wrist bands, or ribbons, or silly hats to support a cause. If people feel so strongly that they want to make absolutely certain everyone around them knows that they are NOT one of the four people in all of Canada who doesn't support the troops, then go for it. It isn't hurting anyone. But don't press that issue on others, don't fight to have a whole group of people fly the patriotic flag regardless of their personal feelings, and don't feel that you're somehow morally superior to those who did not buy the flag, wear the hat, or put the big sign on the front lawn.