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Wherever you go, there they are
On taking the Canadian culture wars with you, and the weak men who still endeavor to create hard times.
I’m on the ferry back from Capri, along the emerald blue waters of the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy, when my phone vibrates. It’s a DM from a wholly-decent man inside legacy media.
“Remember this from 13 months ago?”
I’m reticent to check. My Pfizer-affected blood pressure had been enjoying this time away from Canada’s carefully cultivated (and government-subsidized) unreality.
I can’t help myself. I click the link. I should have known better. But, like many, I’m not sure I’m capable of all the way turning the other cheek. To err is human, and to forgive is divine, but I’m honest enough with myself to know that it’s not always that easy.
Our old pal Bruce Arthur shows up: Ontario’s self-styled Paul Revere who happened to midnight ride for the wrong team, and in the wrong direction.
Being the adult that I am, I quickly fire off the above post. Some people chuckle. I don’t particularly care for the engagement rate, which still ebbs and flows since hit-and-miss changes to that mythical and unknowable ‘algorithm.’
I don’t feel great about it. I’m on a break that I worked hard for. My health has gotten a bit better, the sea air has been doing me good. I stand in awe inside half-a-dozen 11th-century churches per day, I’ve made friends with the local street cats, and I’ve found not one but two (!) Formula One stores where I can waste my hard-earned Euros on overpriced intellectual property made in Taiwan.
On my morning runs along cobblestone streets that fall into the sea, I appear to sweat mostly Gnocchi all Sorrentina, Pizza Napoletana, and the fermented grapes of Campania.
But man, Bruce Arthur really does f*cking suck.
The trip is far from ruined. The next day we visit Positano, and, if you can get past the abundance of twentysomethings posing for Instagram, you can’t beat those views — particularly not on the white-knuckle drive along the Amalfitana, where one small mistake means ciao bella.
The next morning I’m working on some fundraising copy while the astroturfed Canadian discourse dreams in total darkness, when I come across a two-days-old missive from Terry Glavin:
Even across the Atlantic, Alboran, Mediterranean, and Tyrrhenian seas, Canada’s most “famously dense” rabid partisan finds a way to reach you. (And boy, that may be the dumbest thing Gerretsen has ever said, and that’s some very stiff competition.)
After resisting the urge to perform my very own full-frontal lobotomy using the prongs of the European adapter powering my laptop, the day goes on as pleasant as ever, as does the rest of the trip.
The day before our flight home, while walking the streets of Rome, my partner asks me if I have anything to write about once we get back. We’ve just spent twenty minutes sitting in stunned silence inside the Sistine Chapel, so I feel similarly reticent to check the innermost recesses of my mind for topics to workshop and ideas that wish to be forced to the surface.
I haven’t been wholly keeping up with the dailies, and I’ve taken a breather from all things Beijing’s man in China, while dealing with a newfound lingering feeling that one can respect the work of decent reporters (and even my own sources!) while holding some trepidation towards believing too much in anonymous intel leaks. Yes, a Liberal-Beijing pipeline exists, but are libertarian-to-conservative leaning Canadians also not cheering for the kind of ‘deep state’ they so abhor?
That pesky reality, always containing inconvenient multitudes.
The only idea that wishes to come to the fore involves looking back at the earth from the moon, and all our made-in-Laurentia horsesh*t, from a place where the air hangs thick with history, not wholly-imagined wedge issues and the cowardice of neck-bearded men built like bags of milk who are only in it for themselves.
At the time, I hadn’t imagined that a part of that meek and mewling culture stays with you; but it does, as if it’s the cigar smoke clinging to the fabric of your grandfather’s favourite dinner jacket.
Now that I’m home, and writing, I see how this story had to change.
Of course you take it with you. And after all the harm of the last few years, how can you not?
I mean for the love of you-know-who, a man who worked in tandem with the corporate press to shut down Ontario schools has been live-tweeting his cold symptoms in 2023, and wondering if he has early-onset brain damage:
Just not in the way you think, Colin. Just not in the way you think.
We all know the broad strokes of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; we’ve all at one time or another freed ourselves from cultivated ignorance, and been made aware of the shadows upon the wall and those who make them. You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t. (After all, the CBC has to be finding viewers somewhere.)
Back in my usual perch at the mouth of said cave, expressing myself in the style of ‘elevated sh*tposter,’ I can welcome the break from all this madness, while recognizing that it never really leaves you.
When you’re from a land of filibustering CCP assets, hypochondriacal sports writers and librarians posing as medical and sociocultural experts, performative displays of champagne socialist v. grocery store executive running a 4% profit margin, and the soon-to-be authoritarian censorship madness of Bills C-11 and C-18, it would be a Herculean feat if that utter nonsense didn’t follow you around on some level.
“We’ll always have
Paris Rome,” just as we’ll always have the weak men who still endeavour to create hard times. This is why we write, read, gather, lament, and tell these men of low cunning that they “f*cking suck.”
I’d be lying if I said it’s good to be back. But it’s nice to see you again, dear reader.
So, besides everything and nothing, what else have I missed?
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