Saturday, July 19, 2014

Creelman Fair 2014

Sunday, July 06, 2014

My Town

I live in a dirty little town where some politicians and bureaucrats can do what they please without any real scrutiny. The vast majority of us are either too content, too busy or too lazy to care. Those that voice any critique get painted with the "crazy" brush. Media are either too busy, too lazy or too broke to do little more than simply pass along press releases. 

A few years ago a short op. ed. appeared in the Leader Post written by one of its editors. He argued that Regina needed a new domed football stadium.  Initially viewed as absurd, this idea quickly gathered momentum. The citizenry was changing.  Housing prices increased. Population was increasing and people wanted to be from somewhere that mattered.

In the meantime, the public school board was feeling financial pressure. Many schools in established neighbourhoods needed maintenance and/or repair. Closing some of these schools would allow maintenance and repair deficits to be eliminated. The board established minimum student enrolment numbers for schools. Failing to meet these minimums, the schools would be cited for closure.

The city meanwhile pushed ahead with the stadium idea cheered on by its mayor and some local media. Initially it would mostly be built with private investment but the mayor didn't have much luck securing any private money and a municipal election, in which he would not run, was upon us. A city councillor, head of the provincial construction association, would step up. During his campaign he would fabricate renovation costs for the existing stadium, while championing basics of democracy such as transparency and accountability. He won the election. The people wanted a new stadium.

The school board was able to close a few schools, sell the buildings in some cases, and plod on with new long term plans once the old ones fell through. They were also building new schools. On the advice of their international consultants and architects, these schools would be radically different; they would be open-concept schools. They would have magical garage doors and no real classrooms. Similar to Home Depot stores, there would be precious little in the way of warmth. There would be few organic elements. New is easier and  pays better than renovation.

The stadium financing came together with some fancy dancing from the province, and city taxpayers, who would pick up the largest share of costs. They would tack a nominal fee onto ticket prices for football matches. This would allow the Mayor and council to state that the users were footing the bill. And lottery money would enter the picture to shovel bushels of money at the city for rental space in the new stadium. Again, international consultants were hired and money was flowing.

Older schools continued to deteriorate. Populations continued to increase, rendering the school board's enrolment limits useless. However they had neglected some schools for so long that now they could claim the schools were falling apart.  In the case of one school, consultants were hired to study the economics of renovate versus rebuild.  There was a lot of pressure to build schools in new suburbs springing up on the edge of town. So reports were written stating it would be more expensive to renovate, than to build new. Renovate here meant turn the school into an open concept school rather than just stabilizing the building. There would be no guarantee where the new school would be built.

The city was all in on the stadium, but timing wasn't great. Regina needed a new sewer treatment plant, and on the advice of international and national consultants, it was decided the private sector could build this plant cheaper (with a giant helping of federal government money)  than if the city built it itself. Many people disagreed and forced a vote on the method by which this plant would be built. In the name of education, the city hired out of province and international advertising firms to handle the "education campaign".  According to the City, this cost taxpayers $400,000. Some unions put the cost at twice that amount. The pro private option won the day.

The school board quickly and happily endorsed their consultants report recommending new over renovate for one school and quickly applied for funding from the province. The board no longer had control over its funding. Under fire from the community to adhere to their consultant's intial report, they had a different engineering consultant do another study. This report stated the schools expected life would be 10 years. As community voices were growing louder, the Board had the same initial consultant do an additional report. This report recommended the school close at the end of the year. It was no longer safe, according to their initial consultant. The community offered to pay for another opinion on the school, but the  board would not grant access. A free additional opinion on the condition of the building would apparently jeopardize their process.

The City plodded on, raising their borrowing limits, raising taxes, raising utility costs, and off loading some infrastructure construction to taxpayers directly. Consultants, many unaccustomed to the climate of Regina, will be retained all on the public dime.

The school board will get its funding for a rebuild of the school in question. It will be built as cheaply as possible, and this will be evident to passers by once it has been built. It will allow the board to hire fewer teachers and wipe clean the maintenance deficit of the old school. They will thank each other hardily for being so open and accountable.

And on it goes.

My town would have a football stadium steeped in tradition and folklore. It may not be much today, but with a little facelift, and a few years, Mosaic stadium could be a destination arena. It could easily become the best place to see a football game in Canada - something Canadians would want to experience once in their life. It would be different from all other stadiums because it would be traditional. It would be truly unique in the country.
Much of the same applies to Heritage schools. These buildings are built to make you feel comfortable. Arched entrances welcome you. Thousands of little hands have smoothed the wood on the banisters. Thousands of little feet have worn paths into the stone stairs. These buildings are warm and organic. They are built with natural material.  Of course there have been outlandish assaults on these buildings, mostly by school boards. They brick in windows. They tear up wild grasses and put down crusher dust. They put in irrigation systems and then let them leak on the foundation all summer. Today's version of these school boards laugh easily about these obvious indiscretions, and then immediately commit new ones. International consultants sell them on the latest outdated education trend, and these boards eat it up.

My town would be a traditional prairie town. It would be a do-it-yourself town where we essentially solve problems pragmatically, not ideologically. We know this place rather better than do international consultants.  As in past times, we would pitch in and create our own solutions. We know what works and what doesn't, because we know how this part of the world shapes our being, or at least we used to know this.

My town would be on the 100 mile diet. It would construct, repair, shop and  innovate locally. That would be my town.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to New York to look at old buildings and Schools. 

Cool Is King

I know a chick who’s always building stuff
Nothing else to do with her dough
Her guy’s never seen the inside of a record store
But he goes to all the big rock shows

Because everyone knows cool is king these days
Yeah everyone knows cool is king

A cousin drives by in his nephew’s new car
He’s an expert in the latest E-game craze.
I turn to see a hobo drinking cheap wine and Evian
Laying on the sidewalk writing political essays

Because everyone knows cool is king these days
Yeah everyone knows cool is king

I met a geezer who talks shit all day long
Just repeats what he heard in boarding school
He laughs nervously at unusual people
He’s not quite sure what’s cool

But everyone knows cool is king these days
Yeah everyone knows cool is king

Some dreadlocked street kid yells out his poetry
People give him an extra wide berth
A tall office gal puts 2 bucks in the kid’s hat
It gives her a mild spiritual rebirth

Because everyone knows cool is king these days
Yeah everyone knows cool is king

Well when everything’s awesome, nothing’s awesome
And when everyone calls what’s cool, it’s sure no one knows
But that fat old bald guy smoking a cigar in a Cadillac
Is about as cool as it gets I suppose

Honey everyone knows cool is king these days
Yeah everyone’s cool these days.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What an asshole!

Have you ever just looked at someone and thought "What a fuck'n ass hole that guy is"? I do it, and not infrequently. I'm struggling with what I have called "LOOKISM". I am a lookist. I judge people by their look. If a guy has a mustache without long hair, he is a dickhead in my books. If a middle-aged woman in a business suit has crazy eyeglasses, she is not hip. She was a Bee Gee fan and probably still is. According to me, anyone in public not doing sports, but wearing sweatpants, is too lazy to put on real clothes after rigorous masturbation. Why not just wear your underpants to the corner store?
And then there are the men in suits. Thank God for suits. Can you imagine how some wankers might look if they had to decide what to wear to work? And then there are the people in business attire who need not be, but feel important when they are. I can spot these fuckers at 50 yards. What do you think when you see some buzzcutted, mustached fucker sneaking out the back door of Kentucky Fried Chicken wearing a business suit and trenchcoat? And here's the topper. What if you're watching T.V. and some complete idiot wanker comes on (not the reporter) and you find out he or she is a fucking politician! Well fucking checkmate! "That person would suck the dungballs off of the hind end of a pissing camel, if he thought there was a nickel in it!" is what one would immediately think.
But hold on here. Maybe the old bag in the crazy glasses is really quite nice and actually listens to some Bob Dylan. Maybe she even knows many of the words to his songs. Maybe she is some kind of wierd philanthropist who has given her millions away to breast cancer research! Maybe the guy in sweatpants has some kind of hernia and can't wear regular pants. And just maybe the buzz-cut, mustached dude isn't a cop. Yeah right! That crazy - eyeglassed old slut wouldn't know Bob Dylan from her own clitoris, and that cop would just as soon bust you one in the nuts as say " good day kind gentleman". This would all be too much for the young man in the sweatpants. He would have to immediately return home and spill yet more of his seed on the already dank and dreary carpet in what he calls his "living room".
So I'm pretty confident in my lookist skills (some might say over confident), but the politicians have given me some pause. I happen to know a few politicians. For the most part they are pretty committed, hard-working folks who contrary to popular lookist theory, really do care about what they are doing. Even those buzzcutted, mustached politicians over on the right side of life, I think, believe in doing some good for the people. The vast majority of politicians are good honest people. I am talking about Canada here. Politics is a messy business and can be dirty. There is always some give and take and sometimes to get what you want, you have to take some shit. And then there is the public. Politicians are always accosted by their constituents or others. They must at all times be on. And the mindless dribble they must endure would surely make you want to find that old pair of sweatpants and put them on so you could lower them. Yup, politicians get a rough ride I say. The premier of our province is a good example. He isn't too slick looking. In fact a hard-core lookist might call him a hillbilly in a suit, but he is in charge of a million person corporation called Saskatchewan. He can never be publicly critical and has to fix all that is wrong. The CEO of Cameco recently made about $4 million for a year's work. The city of Regina has over twenty people who make over $100,000. per year. Even our mustache-toting, ex-boxing, box-head mayor makes close to a hundred grand. He is responsible for under 200,000 people. So when our politicians try to give themselves a 4% raise people go nuts. Our premier makes about $125,000 per year. He should have a 75% raise I say. I also say our mayor should be voted out because of his cookie duster, because I am a lookist. I shall remain a lookist. But all lookists should remember that lookism only goes as far as one can see. Until one becomes a hearist and a lookist at the same time, one should maybe keep the judgements on the Q.T. Perhaps if we were all a little more hearest, and not so lookist, our society wouldn't be quite so mad.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Sweet Comfort of Madness

So where the hell is Saddam Hussein? Why hasn't the media been doing any stories on him? Do most North Americans already consider him dead? We have non-stop coverage of the Michael Jackson trial including theatrical re-enactments of the days events in the courtroom. The U.S. congress will go to some length to transform Terry Schaivo's husband into a psuedo criminal. Senior publicans in Bush's congregation continue to lie to the American public. Even the American judiciary will jail an activist for eight months for protesting at the school of the Americas where the American military has trained some particularly heinous armed forces (contras).
So if Saddam is evil incarnate, why not charge him with some crime and give him the death penalty? It would make for dynamite television, wouldn't it? I see Tom Selleck playing Saddam in the nightly made-for-T.V. re-enactment. But hold on, I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. I guess you would first have to figure out what to charge him with, keeping in mind that if he is found guilty, you would have to have death be the punishment. So what do they charge him with? Being a dictator? Being an ass hole? Being responsible for killing many of his own government officials? That, is bit of a slippery slope that slides right on down to North Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Columbia, Sudan, Congo etc. But as they say in Alabama : "Being an ass hole ain't against the law".
However, this is all surely academic. He most certainly will be charged with having weapons of mass destruction or links to Al Qaeda or something else the moral majority believes to be true. And make no mistake, the moral majority is in the driver's seat these days, spoon feeding the frienzied mainstream media odds and sodds to either placate the masses or keep them on code orange. Has anyone ever heard of Terry Schaivo or Michael Jackson? That's right, ad nauseum. And that's because it is a lot easier to interview a non-threatning religious whacko, than it is to ask the current American administration where the hell Saddam is, and when and what will he be charged with? Furthermore, the fact that I don't even know which continent Saddam is on, concerns me. But hey, I do know that a maid changed the shitty diaper of a monkey owned by a pervert gazillionair at a place called Neverland.
Sweet comfort!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The "Sensitive" Society

Everyone wants safe, fun, active lives. Mass marketing tells me this. So what happens when something goes wrong? A kid falls off a swing. Someone gets a flat tire. Some rock climber falls to her death. Suddenly a government inquiry should be set up.
Yes, give me extreme activities but for God's sake, guarantee my safety.
I saw a television report the other night about how people can really injure themselves performing Irish Dance. Are the people who produced and aired this piece mad? This morning on American television, Donald Rumsfeld said that he couldn't remember whether or not he had ever signed off on any intelligence-gathering flights over Iran. Now THAT is worth a fucking government inquiry. If he truly can't remember that, then he must be in the early stages of Alzheimers, and not fit to perform his duties. Either that or he is a liar.
This truly is the age of non-admittance, double speak and lawyerese type dialogue. No one wants to play the hand they are dealt, in case they play it wrong and lose out on something.
In these mad times, governments are filled with lying, evil-seeking, fork-tongued politicians. Everyone hates politicians. That is until little Brittney falls off the monkey bars at the play ground and breaks her arm. Suddenly, these politicians are called on to make the playground safer; to create some playground guidelines. How about just getting a cast on Brittney's arm? How about realizing that playgrounds AREN'T perfectly safe places, but they generally ARE a pile of fun. How about not blaming someone else for a blameless occurence? Are we mad enough to believe that everything should be regulated and controlled. Shouldn't I be able to scratch my ass with a meat hook if I so desire? And further, if in so doing I rip my Sphincter up to my shoulder I don't think I should contact my local MLA and have a government inquiry into meat hooks. That would surely be mad. So don't break the law. Make sure you wear your seatbelt next time you're riding to a bar in a cab where you're not smoking. That will most certainly ensure a safe, fun, active life. It may also drive you mad.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Macleans magazine management is mad

Kenneth Whyte has been appointed (who appointed him is a mystery) editor of Macleans Magazine. Why? He destroyed any credibility Saturday Night Magazine had when he took on the editorship of that magazine ( under the guidance of his mentor and lawful friend Connie Black). Amonst all the pieces he himself penned about his pal Tories like Ted Byfield, Preston Manning, Diefenbaker, Mulroney, and John Charest, he ran fluffy pieces on hockey players, boxers and other Tories. So big Kenny then takes over the National Post, a new upstart unabashedly right of centre daily. His stories of the great Ralph Klein and Stockwell Day don't seem to resonate with anyone outside of Alberta and the newspaper loses money. Whyte gets fired. So... to someone in the Rogers family (owners of Macleans magazine) he looks like the perfect person to take over a weekly newsmagazine, which by their very nature are doomed to failure in this modern time of instant information. I don't like the magazine's chances for staying alive with Whyte calling the shots. Are the people running Rogers mad? Looks like it from here.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Local media is mad

The Saturday edition of the Regina Leader Post screamed out the headline:
He's Gone
. This was printed in about 168 pt. size. The headline was referring to a quarterback for the local Pro football team. Is the managing editor of the Leader Post Mad? ( I don't mean angry here) . Let's think about this. The provincial courts are putting single mothers in jail for unpaid parking tickets. The political landscape is one where most strategists think that only a thin strip of small L liberal paradigm is safe. Everybody wants to be a moderate. What did mediocraty ever achieve? How about a politician who for once does what he/she believes to be the right thing to do, on moral and philosophical grounds. Where is the public discussion? Not on the front page of the Leader Post, that's for sure. How about the shrinking budgets for local school boards, the shortages at our universities and technical institutes? Are we educating an entire generation of moderately skilled and intelligent people? Surely there is something more important to put on the front page of the local newspaper. Are we mad for accepting this garbage? I say yes.