Biking Vikings Iffy Eateries Dirty Politics
11 | 01 october 2 0 0 8
’ll always remember the fall of 1995. It’s when I entered the third grade, settled into a new school, and observed as our country nearly tore itself apart. The Quebec Referendum—the second one—took place in October, and I’m fairly confident that it was my first political memory. As an eight-year-old, I knew the referendum was a big deal because I could sense the tension among my parents and other adults. Come the big night, I can recall sitting on the floor of the living room with my family, watching the results creep in on television. Gradually, it became clear that this one was going to be close. The thinnest of margins would decide whether our country remained whole, or split up according to the contours of the Ottawa River. But I’m sure I was oblivious to most of this. All I knew was that this was important business, making it my duty—as someone who looked up to serious people and planned to be one someday—to pay attention. So you can imagine my disappointment when I was carted off to bed at 9 o’clock sharp while the outcome was still unknown. How dare my parents oppress me and reinforce my boyhood, just as I was getting an unfiltered glimpse of what living like an adult meant! From this first brush with democracy, I emerged convinced that elections were both exciting and highly influential. Each ballot was pretty minor, but taken all together those little slips of paper determined our country’s
direction. It was fascinating stuff. As these ideals took shape, they were moulded and hardened by years of civics classes at school. Over and over, I was taught that democracy was a beautiful thing and that the duty of any respectable citizen was to vote in an informed manner. Elections were nothing to laugh at, and I gave them the reverence they duly deserved. Of course, at this time I had benefited from not having to follow political campaigns or really understand political viewpoints. Just being able to name the Prime Minister got you singled out as a budding political enthusiast. Politics was still a strange world to me, one marked “adult,” which I could only admire from afar. But I knew it was getting closer, and I was equally certain I would enter into it smoothly before long. In hindsight, it was inevitable that these impressions would crumble under the weight of reality. Already developing into a cynical person, I couldn’t avoid slowly becoming disenchanted with the Canadian political process. It started out small: maybe the party I half-heartedly supported lost, a politician broke apromise,orIsawimageandrhetoricmattering more than ideas. Those little instances might not have mattered individually, but collectively they did—sort of like those ballots I had been so enamoured with before. They dispelled some of my rosy perspectives, in whose place now resided a muted sense of dissatisfaction. It was a strange development. Strange because I didn’t become totally apathetic, nor
Editing and Production Co–ordinator Ben Freeman Editors Muneeb Ansari Nick Davies Chris Evans Zsuzsi Fodor Siva Vijenthira Layout Co–ordinator Yang Lei Graphics Co–ordinators Chris Hilbrecht Ishani Nath Graphics Natalie Carvajal Jamie Cheung Ava Dideban Noel Severin Iverson Sasha Klein Chantal Laurendeau Tajana Ristic Heather Smith Contributors Patrick Byrne Daniel Carens-Nedelsky Melissa Charenko Sandra Duffey Jeanette Eby Sabrina Falco Katherine Georgious Paul Huebener Garnet Johnson-Koehn Anna Kulikov Teanna Lobo Kate Logan Dave Matyas Raman Nijjar Hilary Noad Manisha Phadnis Andrew Prine Natalie Raso Tajana Ristic Will van Engen Carolin von Harsdorf Catherine Zagar Assistant Editor Hannah Webb Printing Hamilton Web Printing
was I driven to any of the Marxist-LeninistNewfoundland-Separatist fringe parties that lurk in the electoral shadows. Instead, I turned into an informed yet unenthusiastic voter, who cared about issues but harboured little hope that things would actually improve. I followed the news, listened to Peter Mansbridge’s careful explanations, and shrugged off my inevitable disappointment at the outcome. It was all because of the politicians, I concluded, my admiration for our system having become such a part of me that I couldn’t imagine the structures of political power being a part of the problem. Someone more intellectually mature than me would surely have taken a hard look at the first past the post system and its disinclination toward small parties, for instance, but I couldn’t. By remaining aloof to the petty activities of current politicians, I was able to keep my faith in the system, no matter how flawed it might be. So far, our current election campaign isn’t doing much to change my position. The paucity of interesting ideas has been worrying, while those that do get aired are spun to the point of being unrecognizable. Personal attacks have been frequent, but above all it seems hardly anyone is really engaged in this election. It’s as though the debates and press conferences were taking place in a vacuum, one inhabited only by party members and the press. The focus on the United States’ presidential race probably has something to do with it, though it’s hard to get excited for an election that seems destined
Rob Lederer, Incite’s editor last year, has graduated from McMaster and decamped across the Atlantic to begin graduate studies in comparative literature at King’s College London. He has left the magazine to an everexpanding group of writers, editors, artists, and layout designers. I’m extremely excited to be a part of this team and look forward to a wonderful year as Incite continues to evolve.
Impact Youth Publications 1105 King Street West Hamilton, ON L8S 1L8 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.incitemagazine.ca Incite is published six times per academic year by Impact Youth Publications. 10,000 copies are distributed in the McMaster University–Westdale area. Entire contents copyright 2008–2009 Impact Youth Publications. Letters up to 300 words may be sent to the above address; they may be edited for length and clarity and will not be printed unless a name, address, and daytime phone are provided. Opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Incite’s staff or Impact Youth Publications.
to replicate the current situation in Parliament. Yet despite all these grumblings, I’ll be voting next week; the guilt I’d otherwise feel just wouldn’t be worth it. Perhaps it’s because of this commitment to voting that I can’t get worked up about politics. Voting is simply a routine for me, to be completed every few years when I’m told to. I’m informed enough to have already made my choice, making me a less than ideal audience for politicians. I could show my displeasure by not voting at all, but my self-image likely couldn’t take it; I mean, what would other adults think of me then? All of which means I’ll be at the polls on election day, carefully x-ing my ballot and doing my civic duty with little hope in the returns. I’m finally acting like a grown-up, one might say, but with adult grievances and hypocrisies too. Never could I have imagined things would get so complicated in the first place, when I watched the crowds gather and history unfold, bound up in the implications of those two tiny words—“Oui” and “Non.”
from a Biking Viking 6 Letter From Ottawa to Halifax on two wheels 9 Comics Incite funnies 12 Art Spread On 15 Rocket The revelance of space exploration today Dysfunction 16 Electoral Incite’s history of dirty politics 18 Itch Original Fiction Watch Me 21 Just Incite interviews Bob Logan Sweet or Saccharine? 22 Halloween: An Incite debate Shell 23 The Original Poetry
Cover by Chantal Laurendeau
4 Happenings: News from Near and Far 8 Column: Mac in Time 10 Review: Hamilton’s Iffy Eateries 14 Column: Eat 20 Column: Reframing Hamilton incite 3
MINUTES FROM LAST MONTH selected news from near and far
Not for Ice Cream
“But Main Street’s still all cracked and broken.” “Sorry Mom, the Despite the recent publicity about Ste- mob has spoken!” “Light rail! phen Harper’s cuts to arts funding, McLight rail! LIGHT RAIL!” Master’s own Museum of Art is going How Great Thou Art
strong. If you ever wondered about the significance of sense interplay, you can taste, hear, smell, and see colour through Synaesthesia: Art and the Mind, made up of works by known and presumed syneasthetes. The exhibit has been extended to run until 20 December. On the same floor, Mac is also displaying some of its more famous paintings from the French School, including works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Matisse. Rounding out the current exhibits is a collection of works by McMaster professor emeritus and sculptor of the Arts Quad’s “Man Releasing Eagles,” George Wallace. Aside from terrifying countless drunks on their way home from Quarters, Wallace’s work is known for its piercing wit, shocking satire, and sympathy for human folly, so be sure to hurry in before these birds have flown.
When the B-line buses were rerouted to travel along Main Street instead of going through campus, McMaster’s director of parking and security, Terry Sullivan, stated that the University hopes to make the campus a bus-free zone within three years. (That sound you hear is the groans of hundreds of students used to boarding and exiting at Divinity or LSB.) It appears, though, that the B-line’s move is just one of many small steps towards a possible light rail system travelling along Main and King and up to the Mountain. The route would not run to the GO Station. Construction could begin in early 2011. But by the time it’s built, will most Mac students be too young for inane Simpsons references?
Canuck debate all puppies & hugs
Belarus opposition gets Minsked
OTTAWA—The federal leaders debate was an emphatically Canadian affair. Not only did the candidates sit at a cosy round table, they joined hands for a cheer before the debate began. All that was missing was a multi-ethnic gaggle of children for a group hug. Stéphane Dion easily won us over with his hipster glasses, puppy dog eyes and cuteas-a-button demeanour. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper, notorious for his iciness, was upstaged at his own game by Gilles Duceppe, who buttressed his cool, cutting remarks (“I’m not going to be Prime Minister, but neither are three of you”) with hair styled to look like luminescent icicles. To counter the chill, at the end of the debate Jack Layton and Elizabeth May embraced one another in a hug that lasted about three seconds too long for comfort. Perhaps Jack was so pleased at the way everyone ganged up on Harper’s economic plan (or lack thereof) that he indulged in a little footsie.
MINSK—Belarus, a former Soviet republic of 10 million people, has been ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko for the past 14 years. The United States has labelled the state “Europe’s last dictatorship” but on 28 September the country held what Lukashenko deemed a “free and fair” election. This most recent election marked the first time opposition parties were allowed to run. However, when all the votes were tallied, not a single member of the opposition party won a seat in the country’s 110 ridings. Central Election Commission chief Lidiya Yermoshina explained this phenomenon simply: “The opposition has gone out of fashion”—blunt, but probably truthful. Although members of the opposition party faced many bureaucratic and financial setbacks orchestrated by the current regime, there seems to be little evidence of overt foul play as 400 foreign monitors were permitted to observe the electoral proceedings. Ana-
inside the bubble
When is the appropriate age to stop trick or treating? Discuss…
Is it getting increasingly awkward with each year that you stretch the definition of childhood by trick or treating on Halloween? Why should kids have all the fun? But wait! Maybe there is, after all, a socially acceptable way to cavort around town with your friends wearing a stupid costume. The McMaster Bread Bin, the on-campus food-bank, is fighting for your trick or treating rights this Halloween with an event called “Trick or Eat.” The only difference is that you ask your neighbours for non-perishable food items to donate to the Hamilton Food Share. But perhaps if you look really cute in your Batman costume, they just might give you a handful of sweet candy as well. Register at www.trickoreat.ca or contact macbreadbin@msu. mcmaster.ca
Go paint the town maroon
McMaster’s Student Affairs office has created a new service for students: The Office of Community Service-Learning & Civic Engagement. The goal of the office is to promote student involvement and activism in the Hamilton community. Through the “Pop the Bubble” campaign, the office hopes to “showcase the city of Hamilton to McMaster students, and to provide them with the tools to enjoy their experience here.” Some of the “Pop the Bubble” campaign’s services will include advertisements of city events, distributing Hamilton periodicals, and a list of 10 things to do before graduation. So get out there! Fall in love with Hamilton so you don’t feel even the slightest sting of jealousy at the sight of a U of T student.
Compiled by Patrick Byrne, Katherine Georgious, Andrew Prine, and Siva Vijenthira
...the polling booth toly Lebedko, leader of the United Civil Front, was not impressed though, stating “this was not an election but a farce.”
Austrians make “right” decision VIENNA—The results of recent elections in Austria, also held 28 September, were unprecedented as the leading parties—the Social Democrats and the People’s Party—faced their worst defeat since the Second World War. Both parties had ruled Austria in a “grand coalition,” but only 18 months after the last election, the alliance collapsed due to policy differences, forcing an immediate election. Right-wing parties, like the Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria, took advantage of the situation and swooped in, receiving 18 and 11 percent of the vote, respectively. Although neither party is close to a majority, it is possible that the Social Democrats have been scouting out the Freedom Party in case they are unable to solve their differences with the Peo-
ple’s Party, and Austria will shift course to a more right-wing direction.
Vilnius votes villainous VILNIUS—Overshadowed by coverage of the American political drama, some Lithuanians might even forget that they too have elections around the corner. Nestled along the Baltic strip of Eastern Europe, Lithuania was a Soviet republic until 1990 and Lithuanians were not able to elect their leaders. Following independence, a semi-presidential system of government was constructed with a prime minister as leader of government and president as the head of state. Lithuanians will be voting next week. They are polling highly for populist parties who have alleged ties to the Kremlin and Russian organized crime… well, at least it’s organized, right?
Compiled by Daniel Carens-Nedelsky, Chris Evans andAnna Kulikov
The great outdoors OTTAWA, ON—The Carp Ridge Forest Pre-School, now open for business, isn’t quite your ordinary daycare. Fed up with the kind of sterile, plastic-coated pleasure-domes that have become the standard in earlychildhood care facilities, founder Marlene Power-Johnstone hoped to take a more natural approach to create something that could see the forest for the trees. The school is based on existing European forest daycare models, but suitably altered for Ottawa’s colder climate. Although there is an electrically-powered building with heat, running water, and modern washrooms, barring extremely low temperatures and electrical storms, children enrolled at Carp Ridge will experience the wilderness outdoors (and well supervised), come rain, snow, sleet, hail, or sun. This program, the first of its kind in Canada, promotes the outdoors in the hopes that its attendees will come to appreciate the excitement and wonder of the natural world. Let’s just hope Carp Ridge saves a few “miracles of nature” for sex-ed class.
Obama swears he, too, can ba-rock your world LOS ANGELES, CA—A Sarah Palin look-alike will star in Hustler Video’s latest pornographic offering, Nailin’ Paylin. The video is reportedly being fast-tracked for release before the U.S. election, and will feature Russians trying to enter through Palin’s back door, a flashback to a creationist professor with his own take on big bangs, and an undoubtedly exciting bipartisan meeting with Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice.
Flab worth gabbing about UNITED KINGDOM—For those who still know all the words to “Baby Got Back,” there’s a new musical contribution to the ‘bigger is better’ movement for you to break down to. Christopher Biggins, a British television presenter, and RubyCupids, a British hip-hop artist, collaboratively released the song “Bingo Wings” this month to celebrate the voluptuous flaps that hang from women’s upper arms (if you’re not sure what we’re talking about, there’s a very illustrative online music video). The single aims to “remind people to be proud of who you are whatever your size,” and was used in protests against
in north america...
Only a month or so into her vice presidential run, the former beauty queen already has a greater presence on Google Trends than Obama, the former hottie of the race. Though Barack was featured as one of People Magazine’s “Beach Babes” before anyone had yet heard of the VPILF who shoots wolves from helicopters, searches for “obama porn” are only rated 12 on Google’s Search Volume Index, compared to an astounding 75 for “palin porn.”
But is it organic?
Sarah Palin has made waves in one realm of the fashion industry that is often forgotten: wigs. Since she was chosen as John McCain’s running mate, sales of wigs resembling the Alaskan Governor’s upswept style of the have skyrocketed. WigSalon. com, a premiere online wig vendor, has reportedly sent out a newsletter to its 25 000 subscribers highlighting ways to “instantly” achieve her trademark look. Sadly, John McCain wigs have not done so well.
WATERBURY, VT—Got milk? Well, don’t tell PETA. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream formally requesting that the ice cream giant stop using cows’ milk in its products. PETA claims that ending the use of cows’ milk would both alleviate the sufferings of dairy cows and give added health benefits to the ice cream. The proposed alternative to cows’ milk? Delicious human breast milk. While PETA’s proposal was tempting, Ben & Jerry’s somehow remained unconvinced and instead issued the following statement: “We applaud PETA’s novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother’s milk is best used for her child.”
ACADEMIA—A study of American voters published in the journal Science suggests that sensitivity to fear is likely to affect the way one votes. For this experiment, subjects filled out a survey of their political views. Then they were shown a series of unsettling pictures and startled with loud noises, and their physical reaction to the stimuli was monitored. Using this information and data collected from the survey, the authors concluded that subjects who are more sensitive to fear or threats more are likely to support a rightwing agenda, and vice-versa. Since the tendency appears to be innate, the finding might explain why it is so difficult to convince some voters to change how they cast their ballots.
CYBERSPACE—Fashion companies have long sought ways to capitalize on the popularity of First Ladies. In the 1960s, Jacqueline Kennedy sported Oleg Cassini dresses and, more recently, Michelle Obama wore a Chico FAS when she was interviewed on The View. The hype over vice-presidential candidate
GRASSY NARROWS, ON—A mother and daughter reported a Sasquatch sighting in Grassy Narrows, Ontario earlier this month. The couple spotted the creature from their truck when they set out on a berry picking excursion one morning, and described it as “black, about eight feet long and all black, and the way
it walked was upright, human-like.” Apparently, the hulking creature spotted them and ran off into the woods. When others returned to the spot, they found a large six-toed footprint. This isn’t the first time a sasquatch has been sighted in this area: the last sighting was only three years ago and tales of the hairy giant have been long told in this area. Many people, however, are not convinced, demanding real evidence like skulls and bones, because photos, footprints, and film can all be manufactured.
A Smoot Point CAMBRIDGE, MA—Former president of the American National Standards Institute Oliver Smoot was honoured in Cambridge this week as the muse for the littleknown unit of measurement that bears his name. Fifty years ago, a local bridge near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) was proclaimed to be 364.4 Smoots long as a result of a fraternity diversion that saw every inch of Mr. Smoot’s 67-inch frame being measured repeatedly under the night sky. Today, the Smoot lives on and the periodic marks on the Massachusetts Avenue bridge are dutifully painted over yearly by M.I.T. freshmen looking to preserve the tradition. Although the Smoot has been dismissed as non-standard, it is alive and well and can be used in various Google applications, joining its equally nonsensical Imperial Unit friends.
Compiled by Sandra Duffey, Katherine Georgious, Teanna Lobo, Manisha Phadnis, Andrew Prine, and Will van Engen.
...and around the world employing size zero models on the runway during London Fashion Week.
Senile Delinquency GERMANY—The quiet community of Rockenhausen, Germany was rocked last week by a crime spree of elderly proportions. The perpetrator: none other than Heidi Kohl, an 89-year-old grandmother. She was arrested after a neighbour witnessed her slashing the tires of a car. When the authorities learned Kohl was unable to pay the usual fines, a more unorthodox method of punishment was devised: knitting sweaters for each of the victims. Kohl confessed that she was “fed up” with
the number of cars parked in her neighbourhood. Fortunately for the traumatized citizens of Rockenhausen, Kohl’s rage will be checked as she has been moved to a retirement home.
Diamonds are best friend
SWITZERLAND—Hate the idea of burying your loved ones underground or cremating them? Looking for some concrete keepsake of your dearly departed? Jewellers in Switzerland have found a solution. “Algordanza” is a small company that uses the ashes of dead people to create diamonds that their loved ones can keep
as a memento. Sounds strange? People are certainly taking to the idea: the company is now manufacturing 60 diamonds a month at $7,500 per gem. Other companies based out of California and Britain are finding a similar rate of success, creating synthetic diamonds not only out of ashes but hair as well. This way, families can have the traditional burial as well as create a diamond keepsake. Looks like diamonds really are forever.
Compiled by Sandra Duffey, Teanna Lobo, and Will van Engen
Letter From a Biking Viking By Dave Matyas
very morning, Sol, the Norse Goddess of the sun, points her finger in the direction of glory. It is our calling to ride out! We shall adventure and pillage while practicing no-trace camping. When the day is done, we will be welcomed into the halls of Valhalla.
It was mid-October, at a coffee shop in west-end Ottawa, when Dan and I began planning our summertime adventure. Like many best friends, we’d been contemplating a post-graduation trip for years. With full cups we discussed an epic ride aboard the Trans-Siberian railway—St. Petersburg to China—to arrive in Beijing just in time for the opening ceremony of the Olympics. By the time the grounds stuck to the walls of our mugs, our plans had changed. Young, healthy, and pining for a challenge, we decided to ride our bicycles east, from Ottawa, through Quebec, to the Maritimes. Though we intended to plan and flirted with the idea of training, our route and fitness were ambiguous at best. Dan, working nights as a bus boy in the south end, had taken to midday spin classes with middle-aged women at the local athletic centre. I, in the doldrums of Poli Sci papers and Philosophy essays, had taken to breaks spent meticulously studying Google Maps and languidly exploring the Steel City by bike. One month before we left, biking by Hamilton Harbour, I met up with an Eastern European man with a neon yellow foam helmet, faded green canvas backpack, and a bike which he claimed cost him 2500 zloty. As he rode up next to me, he looked at my bike and said, “It is new no?” I told him it was and asked him how he knew. He replied by pointing at my legs and pronouncing “no power.” He then tore off down the path, leaving me breathless in his wake. It would mostly be onthe-job training. By the time May rolled around, we had enlisted another friend to join our expedition. A native Haligonian with an affinity for adventure and a deplorable sense of direction, Ian would be our navigator. Realizing that Dan and I also needed titles, we assessed our skill sets. As Dan had a more prominent Jewishnose, we called him the Accountant and made me Ombudsman. We then enlisted one of my former campers as unpaid intern, roped a Kinesiology major from Laurier into being our personal trainer, and set to naming our bicycles. Dan settled on Roland after the protagonist of a Stephen King Novel; I chose Rocinante, paying homage to Don Quixote’s noble steed; and Ian chose to call his bike Shafika, after Dan’s four-foot-tall Iraqi grandmother. Finally, we branded our expedition: The Biking Vikings. We had made my home central command for planning and packing since my parents were on vacation and Ian, living temporarily in his grandmother’s basement, was only a few blocks away. On a carpet I had bought my mother and father years earlier in Morocco, we laid out our sleeping bags, pots and cutlery, clothes, bike repair equipment, and a stuffed gnome dressed in
Christmas clothing (he would eventually be strapped to the prow of Ian’s bicycle as figurehead). Sitting cross-legged on the floor, we divided equipment and packed our panniers. Seeing as Dan lived on the other side of town, and thus 20 kilometres closer to Montreal, the night before leaving, we moved our operation to his house. It was our first ride weighed down by bags and, with the exception of Ian crashing into a storm sewer and perverting his handlebars, was a complete success. The next day we woke, hopped on our bicycles and encouraged by the waves and cheers of supportive neighbours, set off. “Where are you gentlemen from?” asks a trucker. It’s our first lunch, at a chip stand near Thurso, Quebec. “Ottawa,” I reply. “Well that ain’t very far” he grunts, “and where are you going?” “Maritimes,” I say, “probably Halifax.” He walks off and shakes his head. Dan turns to Ian and me. “One day soon, we’ll tell people that we’re going to Halifax and they’ll say that it isn’t very far. Then we’ll tell them where we came from and they’ll shake their heads.” Cyclists surround us, 15,000 strong, peddling through the streets of a warm Montreal night. Red and white LEDs blink at one another and the air is filled with a symphony of bicycle bells. The downtown core is closed to cars as we swerve in and out of unmotorized traffic. Bursting into song, we bellow the Indiana Jones theme song and a girl on a pink bike with training wheels eagerly joins in. Ian gets a flat, throws the bike over his shoulder and continues, running to the tune of Chariots of Fire. Candles cling to the stonework on fixtures forgotten beneath decades of wax. Low ceilings echo songs of separatism. Dehydrated, and merry with wine and beer, we toast Jean Leloup in Quebec’s cavernous Vaute Napoleon. The guitar takes the crowd down a turbulent river of resistance, rebellion and lamentation. On this night, at this bar, la belle province is a nation. “You can’t miss Bill’s house. It’s just up the hill, the yard with all the carvings.” Carrying steaming plates of poutine on the shores of Lake Témiscouata, we listen attentively to Julie, a warm Colorado woman holding the hand of her tenyear-old son Johnny. “After you’re done eating, come on by. We’ll be watching the Euro Cup.” Bill’s yard is strewn with half-sculpted totem polls and elegant native masks. He greets us at the door with a rich Vermont accent and invites us in for salad, bagels, and tea. “You’re welcome to stay the night,” he offers as we finish our last bites of lettuce, “and tomorrow, I’ll make you oatmeal with peanut butter and molasses then take you to Julie’s house. It’s a beautiful house made from trees and stones from her property. She built it with her husband in the 80s.” My bike rests in the backyard between a shaman and a grizzly cub.
Shafika is wrapped in a plastic bag. Ian and the driver grab her and place her underneath the bus. Last night, under the cover of darkness, we biked into New Brunswick. Soaked, covered in mud, and riding on tires chewed up by a coarse gravel path, we departed Quebec. We’d spent the night at a motel in St. Jacques—watching Discovery Channel and discussing Stephen Harper’s apology to the Inuit—and early this morning we picked at the dirt caked to our bikes and rode into Edmundston. “It won’t be the same without you” smiles Dan. I shuffle my feet and give Ian a hug. He embraces Dan, clambers onto the bus and he’s gone. It’s 7 p.m. and Dan and I are just finishing up a load of laundry in Grand Falls, New Brunswick. The door swings violently, open and shut, to the momentum of a coming storm. We glance at the dark clouds ominously approaching, hastily stuff our laundry into panniers and we’re off. Rumour has it that 2 kilometres out of town there’s a campsite overlooking the rapids and we peddle fast. The site’s closed, but pressed for time and having nowhere else to camp, we hop the fence and set to work. To conserve space and minimize weight we’d left the tent in Ottawa and had been camping under a tarp. We’d joked before departing that the tarp would be fine in all conditions except for a tempest on Day 27—it’s day 15 and it seems the storm has come early. Lightning snaps and thunder rumbles like a tympani. The clouds start spitting as we tie off on trees and a picnic bench, low so we won’t get caught in a side wind. We prop the tarp with bicycle wheels and dive in. “Don’t go on the 112 to Moncton; on a highway like that you may as well be on a bike trip through Nepean. Take the 10 to Sussex and from there the 114 to the Bay of Fundy.” It’s two days until course registration and anywhere from 150 to 220 kilometres to the closest Internet connection. At a roadside diner we eat turkey sandwiches and listen to the directives of a Fredericton Dentist. “I’ve ridden that road tons of times on my motorbike. It’s got one big climb but, for the view you get of the Atlantic at the top, it’s worth it.” We thank the dentist and head out to our bikes. “I forgot something,” he says as he walks through the door. He reaches out to shake my
hand and says “I always wanted to do that.” He walks back in and I open my palm to a hundred dollars. We ride single file, six bikes loaded down with gear, and climb the on ramp of the Wood’s Island Ferry. We’d met Francois and Frederique near the Confederation Bridge in New Brunswick, and JB and Marie by the tourist information office in Charlottetown. Francois and Frederique are on a two week maritime bike tour while JB and Marie are biking from Montreal to Halifax, and from there Iceland. After 1800 kilometres, we bask in the sea breeze and savour the gentle sway of the ferry. Disembarking, we decide to spend the night together and pick a campsite just outside Pictou, Nova Scotia. Nestled between the Northumberland Strait and a trailer park, we set up camp. The sun sets and with bottles of wine and cans of beer we share travelling stories by the fire. I set my cadence to Barrette’s Privateers—maritime music on a maritime highway. Sweat and bicycle grease streak across my brow and my breath lingers in the cold highland air. As the road banks sharply around the mountain, and a heavy fog obscures our ascent, the summit is nothing more than an idea. It’s Canada Day and we’re in Newfoundland. Though we’re 140 kilometres from St. John’s, dreams of celebrating the nation’s birthday on George Street cause the landscape to dissolve beneath our peddles. The province is elated today as Danny Cleary tours the island with the Stanley Cup—it’s the first time a Newfoundlander has brought the trophy home to The Rock. We sing Great Big Sea and Irish drinking tunes, and in the heat of early July bike bare-chested into town. Two thousand six hundred kilometres and we’ve arrived at a George Street bursting with townies and baymen. Music fills the street as we cheer and drink in celebration. On the stoop of our St. Johns hostel, Dan and I wait for the taxi. It’s 4:30 a.m. and we haven’t slept, savouring the dying moments of our adventure. Rocinante and Roland are in cardboard boxes lying against our bags. Blearyeyed, we load our bikes into the back of the mini-van. The South Asian cab driver reminisces about backpacking and Dan stares out the window. Bikes go on a conveyor belt, we go through security, and it’s gone.
Mac in Time
by Melissa Charenko and Kate Logan Edificial Intelligence
veryone knows what the campus buildings are called—or at least their abbreviations—but what’s the story behind the names of McMaster’s stately structures (if T-13 could ever be called “stately”)? McMaster’s history can be traced through the names of those who have left their mark here, either through significant contributions to its legacy or multi-million dollar donations. In this article we’ll explore how some of our science-y people are more than just namesakes of the edifices in which we toil away our youth. After all, Michael DeGroote paid a lot to be remembered as more than just MDCL and DSB! We’ll start with the obscure, both because most students won’t recognize the name and because it’s not a building, but a basement. Does William J. McCallion ring a bell? He’s not the husband of Hazel McCallion, Mississauga’s feisty mayor, but the namesake of McMaster’s planetarium. Originally founded in 1949, the pla netarium was the first in Ontario to offer public shows. The original screen was hardly high-tech: it was just a war-surplus parachute suspended from the rafters to create a domed ceiling. The public still came for the shows and it is be lieved that McCallion himself gave presentations to more than 100 000 people during his time at the planetarium. Perhaps we could call McCallion the star presenter? In 1957, the McCallion Planetarium moved to its current location in the basement of what is now known as the Burke Science Building. The Burke Science Building did not always have that name; it was known as the Physical Science Building in what was clearly one of the more original name choices on campus, à la Life Science Building or Information Technology Building. But Charles E. Burke’s contributions were sufficient to get what was once the largest building on campus named after him, but not enough to alter the original engraving above the doors. Nevertheless, it was quite the step up for Mr. Burke from the chemistry labs which originally bore his name. While Burke, founder of the Science Club in 1931, was instrumental to the development of the sciences, he also founded the nursing program, was a big ad vocate of interdisciplinary studies, and created pre-engineering and pre-medicine programs. In short, Burke did a lot to change McMaster, but they were the kinds of changes that no one outside of Nursing really cares about. This brings us to someone who took the work of Burke a step further: John W. Hodgins, Father of the Most Awesomest Faculty Ever (but only if you’re an engineer). In 1955, the young chemi cal engineering professor arrived fre sh from the Royal Military College in Kingston to inflict engineers on McMaster’s innocent student body. While the first class of 25 could hardly pull off the trickery of today, Hodgins pulled the ultimate prank: in 1958, he developed a full engineering program for McMaster from scratch, thereby defying physics by creating something from nothing. In
his 11 years as Dean of Engineering, he was instrumental in establishing McMaster as a preeminent engineering school at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Once McMaster allowed alcohol on campus in the 1960s, Redsuits and Santa HOG soon followed. McMaster’s penchant for chemists continues with our next namesake—Arthur N. Bourns. Bourns’ contributions to McMaster are many: teac her, researcher specializing in physical organic chemistry (what a hoot!), Dean of Graduate Studies, Department Chairman, Vice-President, President, and President Emeritus. He’s also internationally renowned as a scientific and educational adviser to governments in Canada and abroad, particularly China’s university system, which he helped develop. Bet he has a building named after him there too! We can only wonder if it has the same architectural charm as ABB and what it would be called in Mandarin. But perhaps no one is as well known at McMaster as Michael G. DeGroote. From his humble beginnings as a Belgian immigrant, DeGroote showed his entrepreneurial tenacity at a young age: he dropped out of school in grade nine to support his fam ily by toiling in t he tobacco fields. At the age of 25, DeGroote made a smart financial investment without even using the trading floor in the building that would later bear his name: he pur chased Laidlaw Transport Ltd., then a small trucking company. Realizing that money could be made in solid waste and school buses (a connection he alone saw), DeGroote expanded the business. In less than 20 years, he was wealthy enough to singlehandedly buy the Hamilton Tiger Cats. In 1988, DeGroote was the one doing the selling, putting his shares of Laidlaw up for sale. The final deal would net him $499 million, enough to retire to Bermuda and donate more than $105 million to McMaster, thereby getting m ore buildings named after him than existed on the original campus. Perhaps a university degree isn’t the real ticket to fame and fortune after all, especially given that such a degree usually involves far too many hours spent in places like MDCL and DSB. The namesakes of the science buildings on campus have a colourful history, even if the buildings themselves are pretty grey and dingy. Unfortunately, their stories cannot be repro duced as accurately as the experiments conducted within their buildings. The question is, if you’d like to try getting your own name engraved in stone, should you try to work your way to the Presidency, found a new program, or donate your life’s savings? Without a sure-fire way to be remembered through the ages, we writers have nothing more to aspire to than a bench and the hope that our mo thers will save this article to show the greatgrandchildren.
COMIC BY N ICK DAVIES
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COMIC BY C AROLIN VON HARSDORF
REVIEW As university students, we should not be afraid of the sketchy. For the most part, we live in rundown houses, we drink low-grade beer, and we keep milk far past its due date. So why, then, would we fear dining establishments whose questionable veneer might just conceal a topnotch menu? To prove that Hamilton’s iffiest-looking restaurants might just be some of its most scrumptious, we headed (eagerly… Hey, free meals!) to a breakfast diner, a burger joint, a Chinese restaurant, and a pizzeria that each unquestionably fit the “sketchy” profile.
Your Place All Day Breakfast and Family Restaurant 405 Main Street West (between Strathcona Avenue and Margaret Street)
While travelling down Main Street towards downtown Hamilton, you will encounter what may seem to be a bowling alley. Or a car wash. Or an abandoned 1970s diner. But look a little closer, and you will find Your Place Family Restaurant. Once you pass the kitty-litter-coloured brick and the “vintage” sign crying out “RESTAURANT,” you emerge into a large, brown room. That is, if you are able to find the entrance, seeing as we spent over five minutes walking around the building in search of one. In its place, we encountered someone installing carpet at the rear of the restaurant, aggressive bushes around the side of the building, and a couple of construction workers hankering for a Friday night date. When we finally found the entrance--it was right where it should be, despite the “Use other entrance” sign--we were greeted very kindly and brought to a glossy, dark wood table, which might have been stolen from the Cheers set. The sketchiness, however, ended here. Soon after being seated, we were graced with the presence of Combo One, a magical array of pancakes, sausage, ham, peameal bacon, eggs, toast, home fries, and, of course, coffee, the staple of every university student’s diet. The entire meal for the two of us came out to $16.42. Although the meal was tossed together on unmatched plates dating approximately from the restaurant’s opening 20 years ago, it was nonetheless divine. The pancakes and French toast were our favourite parts of the meal: fluffy and large. The sausage consisted of the perfect balance of fat, grease, and oil, yet still maintained the crispy exterior and chewy inside that one would expect from people who have been in the breakfast business for two decades. The eggs were “egg-ceptional,” done your way, at Your Place. Our hostess was very attentive and friendly, further exceeding the modest expectations set by the building’s façade.
Sketch rating: 3 lewd construction workers out of 5 Fetch rating: 4 perfectly crispy sausages out of 5
194 King Street West (between Caroline Street South and Bay Street South) You may (or may not) remember Harvest Burger after a night of debauchery in Hess Village. But whether or not you recall physically being here, it is impossible to forget the taste of the burgers that have made this rundown burger joint a Hamilton icon. You can’t miss the large, unlit burger sign and the once functional drive-in area. Harvest Burger’s interior, however, surely outdoes its seedy exterior. The restaurant’s décor is highlighted by the bright, vinyl, patterned, aquamarine fold-out booth seats, and accented by the oh-so-modern wood-paneled ceilings. Unfortunately, you won’t spend much time noticing the surroundings once your face is completely immersed in the juiciest, most delicious piece of ground beef this side of Cootes Paradise. The large, fresh, hand cut potatoes proved to be an excellent sidekick, as did the onion rings. The service was fast and friendly, and the price was reasonable ($12.83 for the burger, a drink, fries, and onion rings).
Sketch rating: 3.5 aquamarine vinyl seats out of 5 Fetch rating: 4.5 fresh hand-cut fries out of 5 10 incite
by Natalie Raso and Sabrina Falco
Le Chinois Chinese Cuisine 173 King Street East (between Mary Street and Walnut Street)
Situated across the street from the classy “Dollar-icious” discount establishment on King Street, this Chinese restaurant is lacklustre in its appearance. Except for the dining room, that is, which would have been very stylish and modern circa 1986. Once we took our pink velour seats we were served by prompt yet somewhat standoffish wait staff. What the restaurant lacked in flair, however, it made up for in flavour. The dishes—pan-fried noodles with vegetables, garlic broccoli, and almond chicken— all exceeded our expectations, as well as our anticipated price range (the meal came to $32.72 for both of us). The thick, pan-fried noodles had the perfect consistency: a little bit chewy, but not overcooked, with just the right amount of sauce. The garlic broccoli was super spicy, and the almond chicken was coated in a tasty sauce and complimented by whole roasted almonds. But what really set this Chinese Restaurant apart were the complimentary fortune cookies. They were, in our opinions, the BEST fortune cookies we have ever tasted (and this is coming from two girls who have spent many a late-night ordering Chinese takeout). Overall, Le Chinois is definitely worth a second visit.
Sketch rating: 2 1980s-inspired dining rooms out of 5 Fetch rating: 5 sweet-ass fortune cookies out of 5
61 Barton Street East (at the corner of Barton Street & John Street) Kitty-corner to Hamilton Strip, and sharing a parking lot with Friscolanti Funeral Home, sits Mattina Pizzeria, a hole in the wall that looks like your avo’s (that’s Portugese for “grandfather”) social club. In fact, your avo was probably in here. Along with all his friends who stared at us for about 10 minutes when we walked in, implying not too subtly that we didn’t quite fit the profile of a typical patron. We ordered a small cheese pizza, and proceeded to wait at one of the small, rickety tables where we admired the effortless interior decoration. The walls were adorned with pictures of someone’s cousin’s trip to Portugal, a sign with cigarette prices just down the wall from the pizza prices, and a five-by-seven-foot Mapa de Portugal. The furnishings were cheesy—literally. There was a Salerno cheese clock above the doorway. But the furnishings weren’t the only things that were cheesy (and neither is this segue…), because this place put together bread, cheese and sauce in a way we had never before experienced. It brought tears to our eyes. The pizza was so good it was indescribable; you have to taste it for yourself to truly understand why it is so unique. Just when we thought this pizza couldn’t get any better, we got the bill: $8 for a “small,” which managed to feed both of us, and four of our housemates. For a place that sells cigarettes, Mattina makes some damn good pizza.
Sketch rating: 5 Salerno Cheese Clocks out of 5 Fetch rating: 5 pounds of Salerno Cheese out of 5
A RTWORK BY SaSHA K LEIN
A RTWORK BY JaMIE CHEUNG
A RTWORK BY H EATHER S MITH
A RTWORK BY H EATHER S MITH
Sex Workers Go Organic
For nine days last February, I lived among the walking dead. The homeless, the poor, the addicts, and the sex trade workers lined the streets at all hours of the day and night. They begged for our money and many were infected with HIV/AIDS. This scene had been set for me multiple times before by friends recalling trips abroad, but it was not one I ever expected to encounter within my own country. I was shocked to find myself living among such desolation last February in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Our first night, on the way back to the hostel, we watched a man shoot up in the middle of the sidewalk before the sun had finished setting. Further down the notorious East Hastings Street, we passed a cohort gathered in front of one of the DTES’ plethora of abandoned storefronts. They were spreading out blankets and setting up the night’s market: pills, tubes, pipes, and powders. The DTES hosts Canada’s largest open-air drug market, a community whose story is isolated from the popular Canadian identity. The neighbourhood has been afforded such flattering pseudonyms as “Skid Row” and “Canada’s Poorest Postal Code,” an ironic title considering only a feeble minority of its “residents” have a mailing address. But my purpose is not to describe the sights or retell the stories, as much as I believe they are ones every Canadian should hear. My purpose is to discuss food, and the DTES is the backdrop before which I was first introduced to the failures of our food system. My time in this community was spent at the Quest Outreach Society’s food redistribution centre, engaged in such tasks as sorting through crates of mouldy peaches and bagging frozen beef sirloin. Quest was operating two storefronts at the time which sold food to 70000 individuals at a third of the supermarket retail cost. They have since expanded to five locations across British Columbia. Donations to the organization primarily hail from Starbucks and Safeway grocery stores that divert overripe, expired, defected, and surplus food from the landfills by unloading it at the redistribution centre. We presupposed that Quest would act as a platform for us to learn about waste recovery and sustainability. I quickly learned that meth addicts do not give a damn about the Green Movement. Though at the time I found optimism in the fact that healthy and environmentally-friendly foods such as organic pears were available at Quest’s East Hastings storefront, eight months later I think this is less than satisfactory. Quest’s customers mostly do not care if the pears are organic, whether the seeds originated at Monsanto, or how far they traveled on a plane; they care about whether they can afford it on their welfare cheques and minimum-wage incomes. Not to suggest that environmentally conscious food should not be available in the DTES, but it is certainly not a priority. What needs to be underlined is that an entire impoverished community is feeding off the waste of the middle class; the organic pears got there by default because they were deemed unsuitable for middle class consumption. This is not good enough. There are two competing narratives underlying the growing food movement. One narrative tells the story of how our food is killing the planet. Eat local, buy organic, start a garden, reduce your food miles, go vegetarian, support farmers’ markets—environmentally-minded food mantras abound. But who is privileged enough to abide by them? Certainly not the
junkies, sex trade workers, or working poor. These communities act in another food narrative, the one that emphasizes the pressing need for food security for these and other marginalized groups excluded from the mainstream grocery store system. The bottom line, according to this story, is getting food into people’s mouths with little to no concern for where it came from or how it was produced. Quest operates within this narrative. When I returned to Hamilton from Vancouver, curiosity prodded me into uncovering what my city was doing on both the accessible and sustainable food fronts. These two food narratives are quite pronounced in Hamilton. On the one hand, Hamilton is rich in food banks, breakfast programs, and soup kitchens which provide temporary, although neither dignified nor autonomous, access to food. The environmental foodies in this city also take issue with the grocery store model but come to the table with a whole other set of grievances. This camp is focused on how food is produced and the effects on the planet and our bodies. These priorities have spawned wonderful local successes including organic farms, community supported agriculture, local food cuisine, and community gardens. These initiatives are all extremely in tune with the goals of sustainable production and reducing food miles. The reality that environmentally-minded food advocates are unfortunately largely failing to recognize is that ideals cost money. Eating local, buying a food share, starting a garden—all ideal within the accessibility story. Chips, mac ‘n’ cheese, and Mr. Noodles—much less ideal, but they come with a far more affordable price tag. I do not mean to privilege the work of the food security folks over the sustainability camp. The present state of our food is so convoluted that progress needs to be done on both the social and environmental fronts. But these worlds are working in isolation from each other and need to intersect if we are ever going to realize a holistically accessible and sustainable food system. If local and organic food is truly the epitome of environmentally sustainable nourishment, we should be putting all our efforts towards ensuring it is available to the masses and not just a privileged few. I regularly drop upwards of $80 at Goodness Me, a health food store on Locke Street which carries local produce and organic prepackaged foods, because I believe this is the best fuel I can put into my body. But this is clearly not everyone’s reality. It is mine because I come from a place of privilege in that I have not had to make the decision between food and rent—at least not yet. This choice is going to become a reality for many who have never faced it before as the cost of food continues to rise. Organic pears are already pricey to begin with—I can only speculate that this might be why they made it to Quest’s shelves in the first place. I want to live to see the day that Canada’s largest open air drug market is converted into Canada’s largest open air farmers’ market, but how do we even begin to work towards this? I cannot offer any solutions. The deeper I delve into thinking about food, the less I feel like I know. What I do know is that there is a planet’s worth of these questions to ask, stories to tell, and re-envisioning to be done on how we eat.
Hope and uncertainty in space exploration today
By Yang Lei and Hilary Noad
hile the world watched the current financial crisis unfold in agonizing fascination, China launched its third manned spaceflight on 25 September 2008 almost unnoticed. Three yuhangyuan (astronauts) were aboard the Shenzhou VII mission, prompting many international observers to joke that the Chinese Communist Party could start a branch in space (three members are required for an official meeting). The joke points to China’s emergence as a space power and the re-appearance of space as a front-page issue.
funding cuts to NASA may seem to be the least of the next American government’s concern, there will be consequences. Space is enjoying a revival in the public consciousness, so funding cuts would certainly nip the bud of public interest. Public indifference would in turn likely influence the paths taken by today’s youth. It should be noted that this negative effect on youth and education would not be limited to the United States or even North America. As the largest economy in the world, everyone would be affected by an American recession. This would spell budget cuts for governments worldwide.
The good: The relevancy of space
While uncertainties and negative consequences of the aerospace industry do exist, they come hand in hand with the direct benefit of technology and the long-term advantage of an increased interest in the mathematics and sciences. Engineering, math, and sciences are by no means dead, but perhaps another space craze can break up the monotony of those studies. With a multitude of problems such as rising oil prices, melting polar ice caps, and vast deforestation, perhaps the solutions for these problems on Earth are literally out of this world.
Space, both in reference to the aerospace industry and space exploration, has been largely absent from public consciousness since the end of the race to the moon in the early ‘70s. With the United States’ commitment to return to the moon by 2020, China’s manned space flights, and the development of American Mars rovers, space has been creeping back into the public’s mind. Space exploration can serve as a rallying point for investment in scientific research and education. Hand in hand with this increase in support for the sciences are the benefits of technological trickle-down. Satellites are used for weather forecasts, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), signal relaying for TV, radio, and mapping. Google Earth combines satellite images and topography information obtained from outer space to give an incredible view of the planet. The “trickle-down” of space technology—generally speaking, the diffusion of space technologies into civilian, Earth-based society—has led to a diverse array of applications. NASA innovations are present in things ranging from scratch-resistant lenses to self-righting life rafts and food substitutes. Chargecoupled devices, also known as sensing devices, used in the Hubble space telescope have been modified for use in breast cancer detection. Space exploration also provides a framework for international cooperation and dialogue, the International Space Station (ISS) being such an example. The European Space Agency (ESA) also cooperates with NASA and the Russian Space Agency (RSA).
The bad: Space exploration at a crossroads Space programs are affected by politics. The ISS is currently being serviced by the American space shuttle, the Russian Soyuz shuttles, and the European Space Agency’s unmanned service vehicle, called the Jules Vernes. NASA plans to retire the space shuttle fleet by 2012, while the new space transport system—Orion—is not due to come online until 2015. Thus for three years, the ISS would have to be serviced exclusively by Russian Soyuz crafts. With the re-emergence of Russia as a world power determined to exert its influence regionally, confrontations with the United States are almost certain to derail any cooperation on the ISS project. The West remains deeply suspicious of Russia’ resurgence, as demonstrated by the its reaction to the Russia-Georgia conflict in August 2008. Space programs are a source of national pride for many countries, and the marquee project of space programs are, more often than not, the manned space program. With China joining the club of countries who have put humans into space, its regional rivals, notably India and Japan, both of which already have space programs, have felt compelled to enter into a new sort of space race. But the use of these space programs to tap into the well of nationalism can have negative impacts when taken to extremes. Given historical rivalries and economic competition, such nationalistically-charged space programs may encourage regional friction.
The Ugly: The financial crisis & the future
G RAPHIC BY CHRIS H ILBRECHT
In a speech given in January 2004, US President George Bush outlined a new vision for NASA and space exploration. The most immediate goals were completing the ISS and retiring the space shuttle by 2010. The space shuttle’s replacement, known as the Crew Exploration Vehicle, was to be developed and tested by 2008, and its first manned mission flown by 2014. Bush also called for robotic exploration of the moon by 2008 and a manned return to the moon by 2020. To fund these goals, he proposed reallocating NASA funds and a $1 billion budget increase spread over the following five years. The current financial meltdown facing the American economy leers at the aerospace industry from the depths of “lack of funding.” While in the interim,
Incite’s history of dirty politics By Anna Kulikov, Raman Nijjar, and Andrew Prine
t’s hardly a trend of the democratic American era: the ruling realms have always been the heart of sordid lies, distortions, secrets, and anything of the filthy, vulgar, corrupt, dishonest, deceitful, unfair, and immoral nature (all disputable of course). In fact, one must wonder why we even bother to distinguish the dirty from the politics. Perhaps as a last effort to retain at least a shred of dignity when we slip our papers into the ballot box? The dirtiest of the dirt, however—the political smear—should be separated from the rest. A smear campaign, in the broadest sense, is a political initiative against an opponent that relies mainly on fabrication and distortion to defame and steal votes. It has been a particular favourite of some and, more often than not, driven by desperation to win in a race the politician seems to be losing. In a smear, nothing is off limits: not history, not sex, not religion, not even family.
back to haunt those people with political aspirations. Another infamous tactic, perhaps not so obvious today, is smearing a politician’s religion or racial background. Anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism have prevailed in American smears for the last two centuries. They’ve elicited campaigns that declared certain Jewish politicians not worthy for election as they would be unable to turn to Jesus when the going got tough and alleged Catholics the partakers in a vast Irish conspiracy. Today’s example is the speculation about Barack Obama’s faith, i.e., the frightening rumours that he is secretly a Muslim. Smearing one’s racial background is not tolerated by today’s multicultural society, though. In fact, if you want to smear anybody today, call them a racist.
“In a smear,
Methods from the Gutter Perhaps the most notorious of all smear tactics is the juicy and outrageous sex scandal. Fortunately, orthodoxy does not restrict it to the classic contemporary Clinton-Lewinsky extramarital affair of stained dresses and embarrassing impeachments. Sex has been used as a smear in a variety of creative ways: uncovering affairs with prostitutes, strippers, widows (as Grover Cleveland demonstrated), servants, and slaves; accusing politicians of homosexuality via special undercover police forces; spreading rumours of cross-dressing; even concocting fanciful tales of horrible sexual deviants who were not fit to rule the country. Incredibly enough, ideas like “John Adams is a hideous hermaphroditical character” stirred in voters a cold, paralyzing fear that sealed their irrational loyalties to Thomas Jefferson in 19th-century America. Some unluckier politicians carry legacies which do not recall their political platforms or hard won careers, but instead the smears used against them, such as Martin Van Buren, who is remembered for being accused of wearing corsets. It shouldn’t surprise anybody, then, if voters swept the Tories off the hill over a rumour that our own Stephen Harper sports a pink leopard thong on duty. The dirt road doesn’t end there though— any legal infraction, skirt worn too short, vice succumbed to, or drunken rant uttered by a political hopeful suddenly becomes fair game for the partisan private investigators to uncover. These juicy tidbits of personal gossip act as the mud-stained foundation that makes more elaborate smear campaigns possible. From Jack Layton and Bill Clinton’s early experiments with “going green” to the stock holdings and profits of Paul Martin, these youthful (or middle-aged) indiscretions can and do come
nothing is off limits: not history, not sex, not religion, not even family.” Despite the uproar that accusations of the “r” word can elicit, the principles of tolerance, freedom, and multiculturalism that make attacks against inclusivity so effective are not as firmly ingrained in our collective psyche as we might like to believe. Contemporary social norms assert the importance of equality between all members of society, and the belief that people should not be looked down upon simply because of how they look. Ironically though, passing judgement upon politicians based on one or two aspects of their physical appearance can still be just as inflammatory and damaging. By poking fun at the new huggable Harper’s wool sweaters and wide waistbands, Liberal leaders are actually relying just as much on bigotry and shallowness as a more ethnically-specific smear. Admittedly, it can
be argued that life as a public figure opens you up to observation and criticism from the public, but more shockingly, these attacks are often not limited solely to those running for office. Perhaps the most hurtful of all smears are those not directed to one’s person directly, but at one’s loved ones. It’s always been most convenient to fabricate tales of illegitimate children, of relatives hopelessly plagued by insanity, of bitter divorces, of infidelity, of familial financial ruin, of pregnant teenagers, alcoholics, and satanic ancestors. Doubtful that Barack Obama himself knew that his greatgreat-great-great-uncle Michael Kearney—a political prodigy in his own right—was evil and aided by the Devil, until a smear pamphlet on the topic was recently released. Of course, as with any political fabrication, there is no appeal to rationality or any concrete connection between the scandal and its effect. It has yet to be claimed that Obama is in fact a reincarnation of Kearney, returned to us to plunge America into a black abyss (no pun intended) or similar absurdities. Still, dragging politicians’ families through the mud really demonstrates the ruthlessness of political games and gives us a glimpse of the importance of the rewards at stake. Finally, there are smear campaigns based on what would seem to be the essence of election campaigns and governance: politics. As differences in taste, bearing, and character are natural, so too are differences of opinion, and it is upon these differences that democracy claims to upholds its good name and good nature. Unfortunately, there are also smear campaigns that take what should be a core tenet of democracy and turn it into just another way to discredit a politician. The McCarthy-era practice of accusing left-leaning opponents of Communism may have unearthed a few traitorous individuals, but it distracted government officials from the more pressing issues facing the country and destroyed scores of careers, both inside and outside of politics.
Smearing Today Even though some of the more extreme examples of smear campaigns may not have occurred in Canada, that doesn’t mean that Canadian politicians aren’t without a few dirty tricks up their sleeves. As part of the election hype this year, we’ve seen the Harper Conservatives’ portrayal of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion as an ivory tower shut-in, Dion’s apparent affront to sweaters, and Layton’s polemic against the spineless, inconsistent behaviour of all other parties. Barring some of these well publicized spats, though, Canadian politics falls flat when compared to the much more entertaining antics that take place south of our border.
In the United States, the attacks are made on all fronts. Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is seen as an incompetent candidate, neither prepared nor experienced enough to be Vice President. In a bid to counter this offensive, the Republicans have been quick to judge Barack Obama and his character, falsely depicting him as a Muslim enemy of Israel and friend to terrorists. Adding fuel to the fire, even Obama’s popularity has been ridiculed by some well-timed comparisons to celebrity socialites like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. The impact of these approaches, however unsettling, does reflect the large role they play in maintaining public interest in politics. What’s more, it illustrates our society’s desire for sensationalism, even if it is just scaring the voting population with threats that the next President might be a beauty pageant diva or terrorist-harbouring closet Muslim. An American Whig politician named Thomas Elder had a small revelation in 1840: “Passion and prejudice properly aroused and directed do about as well as principle and reason
in any party contest.” Although it’s unquestioned that smear campaigns are an effective way of garnering votes, we can wonder why they still work so well today. Smears weaken the integrity and credibility of a politician in the public’s eye, as individuals are attacked along the margins of that era’s values and interests. For example, why it was acceptable in the 1920s to draw on genealogy to uncover a politician’s African American ancestor, while today it would only incite anger? Because the average citizen is more impressed by a delicious scandal than by real political debate, if not sadistically overjoyed at being privy to a politician’s dirty secret. Now, regardless of whether these secrets turn out to be true, if members of the public are to make informed decisions as to who should govern their country, they must wade through the sewage, dig through the dung heaps, and see through the media smears to uncover the truth buried beneath.
Run Your Own Smear Campaign! Itching to try out a smear of your own now that you’ve learned about the tactics of our fearless leaders? You’re in luck! Here at Incite, we know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we put together a no-nonsense guide designed to help you smear that certain awful someone.
Step One: Dig up the dirt
Let’s face it: we’ve all done things we’re not proud of. It could be that time you freed all the emus at the petting zoo in a fit of righteous idealism, or it could be the time you hurled in your hubby’s mouth at a kegger, but whatever it is and however hazy a memory it might be, you know you don’t want that story spreading around. Unearthing details of these scandalous happenings used to require crafty forms of espionage and hearsay, but thanks to the goldmine of gossip that is Facebook, an unscrupulous user can gather all the dirt he or she will ever need with just a few clicks.
Step Two: Till the Field
You’ve got the low down on your opponent’s low points in life, but if you want to really smear them, you’ll need to do a bit more legwork before you spill the beans. Gossip spreads like wildfire, and since you don’t want to be the one found holding gasoline and a lighter, you’ll have to be careful and start by stirring the pot. Maybe her hair always falls just a little too perfectly, or he seems to be overly appreciative of certain parts of the female anatomy—it doesn’t matter. All it takes is an innocent comment about her coiffure or his taste in women to turn a naturally jealous person into a fiery propaganda-spitting machine to serve your very wishes.
Step Three: Sow the Seed G RAPHIC BY Natalie C ARVAJAL
Incite’s Picks for Top Smears: • During the 1868 American presidential election, the Democratic hopeful, Ulysses S. Grant, had to deal with an extreme take on dirty politics. Not content to limit himself to attacks via the media, Republican candidate Horatio Seymour distributed a rather interesting piece of promotional material. The small silver pigs they handed out looked like cute toys on the outside, but when voters looked up its ass with its snout to the light, they were treated to the likeness of General Grant himself. • As part of the 1964 US presidential election, supporters of incumbent Lyndon Johnson relied on some pretty underhanded tactics to keep Republican Barry Goldwater out of office, including a joke book (entitled You Can Die Laughing) and children’s colouring books where Goldwater was dressed up in Ku Klux Klan robes. If these weren’t enough, the party also sent letters to Ann Landers purporting to be ordinary citizens terrified by the prospect of a Goldwater presidency and used a CIA agent to infiltrate the Goldwater campaign headquarters, whereupon the agent fed advance copies of political speeches to the White House.
This is the part where you get to have some fun. Meet up with all your favourite chatty friends and ask if they’ve heard the rumour about soand-so that’s been going around. If they ask where you heard it, just say it was at a party and you had a bit too much to drink. Even if they don’t swallow the line at first, as long as you pick your audience carefully, word can and will spread fast.
Step Four: Reap the Harvest
Sit back, relax and enjoy; you’ve just smeared your first opponent! It may not be a cabinet seat just yet, but if and when you get there, you’ll now be ready.
• Upset by a rash of accidents and deaths resulting from poor-quality American automobiles, Ralph Nader’s famous campaign for car safety led to another famous smear campaign. In an effort to distract the public from Nader’s report “The Safe Car You Can’t Buy,” automaker General Motors relied on private investigators, prostitutes hired to make him feel special, and intimidation to silence the outspoken Nader. The company had hoped to discredit Nader’s work, but like most things made by GM at the time, the plans backfired and the company’s President was forced to make a public apology to Mr. Nader and acknowledge that his cars were indeed unsafe.
Just Watch Me: How Trudeau was seen in his time
Incite’s Siva Vijenthira interviews Dr. Bob Logan
ob Logan is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto who is teaching an Origins Institute course at McMaster this term. In the 1970s, he became a Policy Chairman for Pierre Trudeau’s government after news spread of his work at U of T in an innovative interdisciplinary program called “Futures Studies,” which he developed after meeting Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher and social critic. In between working as a physics professor and serving as a political advisor, Dr. Logan also collaborated with Marshall McLuhan on studies in media ecology. His theories about the evolution of languages have been published in many books, including The Alphabet Effect, The Fifth Language, The Sixth Language, and The Extended Mind, and these theories form the basis for his course here, called “Origins of Humanity.”
How did you get started working with Trudeau? Trudeau had given a Member of Parliament from Lakehead, Paul McRae, the assignment of monitoring what was happening in Futures Studies. On the occasion of one visit with me, he came with a fellow named Ian Connerty, who was a political assistant, and Connerty turned to Paul in the middle of our conversation and said, “Hey Paul! I have a great idea. Why doesn’t Bob become our Policy Chairman?” And Paul said, “Yeah, that’s a great idea. Would you be interested, Bob?” And I said, “Sure.” So I met various members of the executive, they liked me, I liked them, and so... I was not a Liberal at the time. A number of my colleagues and students said, “Bob, how come you’re joining the Liberal Party? You’re such a radical professor.” And my response was, “Well, the NDP has got lots of radical professors in their ranks. Maybe I can shake things up among the Liberals and make some kind of unique contribution.” That was in 1974. I became an advisor to Trudeau because I was Policy Chair.
What were some of the policies that you personally effected? I felt that Canada needed to spend much more on research and development. I kind of had a running joke with the Prime Minister. “Bob, how are you?” “Fine, Mr. Prime Minister… R&D, Sir!” Just reminding him that I was pushing it. Of course I submitted policy papers, but I just kept reminding him. And then one day I walked into the Royal York hotel for a rally and Jim Coutts, who was Principal Secretary, said, “Bob, you’re going to enjoy tonight’s announcement.” The announcement that Trudeau made was that they were putting more money into R&D. So I did have some small impact. I should mention that I thought it was a real privilege and opportunity. I was only 36 years old at the time. It’s quite something. I first met Trudeau when I was 35.
What was Trudeau like as a person? In private conversation, was he the same as he was as a public figure? He was softer as a private person. Not so adversarial. He was adversarial with the press because they play a hard game. You know, the game of “gotcha.” He had a great sense of humour. I remember bringing my two kids to Ottawa and we were just there as tourists. Of course I brought them up to Parliament and Trudeau came by. [He promised] to put aside two Senate seats for them. I guess one of my favourite memories was… I would be invited to meetings with him and small groups of people to talk about ideas. He and I and someone else were having a debate about certain issues, and I got in the last word. And it got stuck in his head, and he left me a handwritten note, because he’d thought about the things I’d said and he came up with another idea. It was a real honour to engage with such a great mind. Some people at the university, particularly the chairman of my department, didn’t appreciate my being in politics, because they thought it meant I’d do less physics. Well, the Minister of Industry arranged a dinner when the Queen visited Canada, and after dinner the Queen and Prince Philip and Trudeau received the guests in scrums. As we were walking by [the crowd around Trudeau], Trudeau said, “Bob! How are you?” I said, “Fine, Mr. Prime Minister.” And I caught the expression on the chairman of the department, on his face: his jaw dropped. He never believed that I was really playing a significant role as one of Trudeau’s advisors. And that Trudeau would call me by my first name.
At the time that Trudeau was bringing socially-left ideas forward, many members of the Liberal Party were more conservative. Do you think that his charisma helped make sure that those ideas stayed in play?
G RAPHIC BY I SHANI NATH
[Laughs.] I think so, yeah. I mean, some say Trudeau basically educated Canada. Remember he was a professor, and he used his skills and his wit, and charm and sense of humour to change the way Canadians thought about their country. There was one time when he was talking in Parliament, and he looked up at the public galleries where we were sitting, and I felt that he was looking straight at me. But of course, everyone probably felt that he was looking straight at them. That’s the kind of person he was. Trudeau energized the country. Of course he’s known for promoting bilingualism, multiculturalism and equality, but he also gave Canada a sense that we were a world player, a world-class country.
Is that missing from Canadian politics now? Yes, absolutely. Nobody that I can look to can ever [compare] to Trudeau in any way. There is one politician that reminds me a bit of Trudeau, and that’s Obama. He has the same kind of charisma. He’s very straightforward. He tells the truth. Now some politicians today, like the critics of Dion’s Green Shift, try to gain political advantage by controlling an idea that we must agree with eventually.
Do you think that the Green Shift would have come off more successfully if Dion were a more charismatic figure? I believe so. The Prime Ministers that have followed Trudeau have not come even close to garnering the kind of respect that he did.
Did you know that, thirty years later, everyone would look back on the Trudeau years as an iconic time? At the time we were involved in it, no. Don’t you remember in class I [quoted Marshall McLuhan] that a fish doesn’t realize it’s in water? The only politics I ever knew was that. It may be safe to say that we all expect the 2000s to figure prominently in history books about this century, but it is true that, as ignorant fish in the waters of our social and political environment, we are probably unaware of the exact issues that will be most noted and studied in the future. Sometimes it seems that the Canadian political landscape has been stagnant for years, but maybe it is the lack of iconic leadership that will speak most strongly to future generations. In the midst of economic anxieties, continuing security fears, and an impending environmental crisis, we have yet to find a leader who can embody the progressive, egalitarian, “worldclass” identity that we as a nation would like to have. In the upcoming Canadian election, we do not have a Trudeau (or Obama) who can become a rallying figure for the eager and the jaded alike. Dr. Logan sees the new environmental movement of our generation as similar to the liberal social movement of his; but this time, we are missing the charismatic, powerful leader needed to ensure its success. It might be up to us to ensure that history regards us than we do ourselves.
PHOTO BY S IVA VIJENTHIRA
Reframing Hamilton By Jeanette Eby
Engaging with the Random “Allowance of the random is a mark of faith among citizens. They decide to leave what they know, for what they don’t know… and graduate to possibilities, as citizens sharing the creative enterprise called the city.” – Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, Poet Laureate of Toronto
hen we are citizens, we belong to a place, and as a part of that place, we belong to each other. We thus have a shared responsibility to care for each other and our surroundings, and to engage in a way that promotes a genuine faith in and love for people and places. I have definitely become a citizen of Hamilton, which means that Hamilton has also become a part of me. When one engages with a place, it is always about reciprocity. The give-and-take, the dynamic push-and-pull that incites wonder and gratitude and keeps us asking questions and pursuing all kinds of possibilities. This past summer was my first summer in Hamilton. I lived downtown, and my research job involved having conversations with inspiring people who work all over the city. I had no idea to what expect, and what I experienced superseded my imagination. It has been a summer of discovery and challenges, a summer of relationships, of mourning and celebration, of thunderstorms and rainbows. A summer of randomness, and also of meaningfulness, a summer that only Hamilton could have given me. My favourite days in Hamilton are often the random ones. By random, I mean unexpected, when you set out with your eyes, ears, and heart open to whatever may come. On these random days, you bump into people, one thing leads to another, and you find yourself amazed by the current you were pulled into. This is how I feel about my summer, and also about a wonderful Saturday at the end of August that I spent with many of the important people in my life. Our day began with a bakery tour of the city by bike. We met at Global Village Market in Westdale. It was a beautiful way to start the day: sitting on a bench with inspiring people, a mug of magnificent coffee, and a fresh, warm morning glory muffin. Our bike bakery tour turned into a bike bakery garage sale tour, as we discovered two garage sales in Westdale and ended up taking away some unlikely yet valuable treasures. I bought a grey 1980s clutch for one dollar. We also managed to snag a basket, a pair of old speakers, and a $10 fluorescent racing bike without wheels, though still in good condition. Biking downtown from Westdale along the Waterfront Trail, and then up James Street to the Portuguese bakery, I felt a sense of peace and gratitude for the morning’s experiences. More randomness ensued in the afternoon, when my mom and younger sister came to visit from Waterloo. It was rainy, humid and slightly miserable outside, but the rain also enabled us to search for different ways to experience the city. The outdoor Ottawa Street farmer’s market was still open, so I loaded myself up with eggplant, peppers, onions, tomatoes and fruit from local grow-
ers. A little white house beside the entrance to the market caught my eye. It was a bookstore called “In Camera,” which featured a sign instructing us to ring the doorbell. My mom was skeptical upon entering, but I rang the doorbell anyway. We were invited in by an elderly man who studied anthropology and sociology at the University of Windsor and who has lived in Hamilton most of his life. The room was full of an eclectic mix of books, sheet music, keyboards, and drums: books on psychology, sociology, religion, mythology, magic and spirituality; old sheet music for guitar, piano, and saxophone. The best part about the store was its unpredictability and the owner’s stories. He is not just selling books, he is sharing a part of his life with the rest of us, and I hope to go back with someone new and learn more about the pieces of his life. It continued to rain, and we continued to explore. We shared an authentic Mexican quesadilla at Poco Loco on Ottawa Street—I highly recommend it—and at the end of the afternoon I found myself back at Hamilton Harbour, sipping a cappuccino at the William’s Coffee Pub. It was comforting, sitting inside with my mom and sister, seeing the boats and the bay amidst the rain and fog. Sharing this place and a conversation with people I care about. The beauty of this city—of any city, if we give it a chance—is the fact that I am always discovering something new, learning from the land and from the people that belong to it. I think I am in love. To me, loving a place means endless exploration, seeing things with new eyes, appreciating their subtle beauty, seeking out hidden gems, and then sharing them. To love a place, you need to feel a sense of belonging. I have never felt so strong a sense belonging as I have here in Hamilton. You may have a hard time understanding where I’m coming from, and you may be skeptical of what this city has to offer. We can be a part of McMaster, but what happens on the other side of Jackson Square, in the parks, at the Bayfront, or at the public library? What does this humble yet rich city have for us? It is up to us to discover both what we can give to this place, and what gifts we can receive from it. The truth is, I believe in this city. I see beauty in the diverse faces and the diverse landscapes, and I know that amidst the brokenness, the poverty and isolation, the environmental degradation, and the violence, there is resilience and a sense of justice in Hamilton that keeps it alive and that keeps me believing. A just city requires citizens who care about each other and a place that offers itself to them. Does Hamilton matter to you? I invite you to open yourself up to this place of endless possibility. I invite you to take a risk and engage with the random, and to join the conversation with the people and the landscape, a conversation that never really ends. “Engagement with the random makes for courage in civic commitment. Furthermore, it teaches the citizen the art of extending oneself… It is the free giving of one’s energism, with faith in the reciprocal.” – Pier Giorgio Di Cicco
and Ta n h e o -K n o s n h Jo Garnet
wake up groggy. Everything is slow to come into focus. The hazy, sleepy dead of the morning falls away, leaving me with an annoying itch, a sandy feeling in my eyes. I don’t get up right away, letting myself enjoy the feeling of the soft sheets. A body stirs beside me. The sand doesn’t go away when I rub my eyes, but I reach over anyway and pull my girlfriend towards me, nuzzling into her hair and kissing her neck. Closing my eyes helps a little, but the itch is still there. It’s maddening enough that I can’t focus on my girlfriend. I sigh and give up, getting dressed instead. God, my eyes are itchy. Must’ve done something to them last night. My girlfriend shifts, murmuring unhappy noises and moving into the space I’d left behind. Cute. * * * Sitting at a random desk in class, I struggle to concentrate. The itch is still there. It isn’t both my eyes anymore. It’s like all the weird, gross itchiness is concentrated in my left eye. I wonder if I have an eye infection. Yeah, that must be it. I’ll go to the doctor or something tomorrow. Have to check my schedule when I get home. My girlfriend’s gone when I get back. There’s a note on the fridge saying she’ll be late. I guess I have time to hit the clinic after all. I’m heading out the door when I see a flash off to my left. I look over, my eye twitching, and there’s this weird inlay over the mirror there, like a really thin coat of black spray paint. “That’s weird,” I mutter, going over to get a closer look. “Really weird,” I say as I get close. Whatever it is, it moves with my eye. Now it’s on the wall. It must be in my eye for me to see it like that. I try closing my right eye, and it gets a little more distinct. There’s this faint blur, something dark. Would that happen if I had an eye infection? What if it’s something else? The thought makes me shudder and I hurry out the door and to my car. * * * The doctor doesn’t see anything. No big surprise, he’s a walk-in doctor. He puts in a request for some blood work, but it’ll take a couple days. I’m pretty frustrated, not to mention itchy, but I manage a semi-sarcastic “thank you” as I leave. He gives me this weird look as I go. The pain in my eye gets worse on the ride home. It’s getting warm, too. Uncomfortably warm. God, I hate anything to do with eyes! It makes me feel squeamish. I’m fidgeting in my seat. One hand on the wheel, I scrub my eye. It doesn’t give, the way it should. It feels hard, like I’ve got a glass eye and it doesn’t move in the socket. I close my left eye and use my right to drive. It’s dangerous, but it hurts a little less. I come back to an empty house, and it doesn’t help my mood any. I vaguely remember there being a note, but it’s hard to concentrate. I stumble into the
G RAPHIC BY TAJANA R ISTIC
kitchen, rubbing my eye furiously. I hit the lights and almost scream, the light piercing my eyes like white-hot needles. Suddenly it feels like someone’s drilling a hole into my eye and putting ants in it. I grab my head with both hands, folding at the waist. Even though she’d see me stumbling around in the kitchen like a drunk, I wish to God my girlfriend were here. The blur is spreading now, and I can see weird shapes floating in front of me. I can almost see faces in the shadowy corners of my kitchen. I wonder if I’m hallucinating. That’s when I start screaming. I feel something moving around in my eye. I drop to the floor, grabbing at my head. There’s something in my eye, damn it! Something warm, like tears, starts trickling down my face. I move to press the heel of my palm to my eye, desperate to ease the pain. As soon as my hand comes near, though, I feel intensely nauseous and I yank it away, yelling even louder. I think I’m going to be sick. I can hear something behind me, over my strangled screaming, but I ignore it. My eye’s still leaking that wet warmth. I look down with my good eye, and there’s blood on the floor and on my hand, running down my neck and chest. I look around, desperately trying to find something that could help me. As I’m looking, I catch sight of my reflection in the microwave. My left eye is split open, oozing blood. In the middle of the wound is a writhing, pinkish-grey worm struggling out of my eye and onto my face. No wonder I’m screaming! No wonder there’s pain. It’s coming out of my eye. Whatever it was, it’s coming out. I can’t think of anything else, can’t focus on anything. It’s coming out of my eye. My eye. I’m bleeding. There’s something coming out of my eye. “Baby, what’s wrong?” I roll over, feeling the blood run down my cheek, past my ear. My girlfriend’s leaning against the doorframe, grinning. Is this a joke to her? What’s wrong with her? Does she not see me? I try to speak, but I can’t. I feel like if I open my mouth I’ll throw my guts up. She casually slides over to the counter and pulls a knife out of the drawer. What the hell’s she doing? I try to move, try to get away, but everything I do just makes the pain worse. “I’ll get that nasty thing away from you,” she says, brandishing the knife. As if reacting to her voice, the creature squirms out of my eye, drops to the ground, and slithers towards my girlfriend. I worry that it’s going to hurt her, but she doesn’t seem fazed. She walks closer to me. “Don’t worry, baby,” my girlfriend says. Why is she calling me baby? She never calls me that. In fact, she always said she hated pet names. She said it reminded her of kids. She takes a step forward. Why did she call me that? And why is she still holding the knife?
ow I love the Indian summers we get at this time of year. Now nights are getting longer and colder, squirrels are getting busy collecting those nuts, and you can almost smell the leaves changing. If it wasn’t for Halloween, I would call this my favourite season. What is Halloween for? Isn’t it just another franchising opportunity? Another chance for companies to trick money out of us? I’m sick of it! It’s just another lurking leech in the calendar. Does anyone even remember the original meaning of Halloween? Was it “eat chocolate till you drop”? In fact, originally, this was a time when people slaughtered their livestock for winter storage because they were afraid that evil spirits might infect their cows. What does this have to do with the Kit Kats and lollipops we feel compelled to buy every October? While I’m at it, I also hate costumes. They are the same every year! I mean, can’t they be more creative? All we have are princesses, pirates, monsters, animals and cowboys. Halloween costumes have turned into just another off-the-shelf product, like typical gifts for other holidays. People buy them just because they feel like they are supposed to rather than because they want to. The sad thing is that if you don’t go with the flow and try to be different, no one knows what you’re dressing up as. Here is an example: my little sister decided to be something other than a cat or Cinderella. After watching The Jungle Book she wanted to be that cute little girl at the very end, the one Mogli falls in love with. Once the costume was done she looked exactly like her. I’m not exaggerating! A few hours later she came home crying because no one knew what she was. Tragedies like that only contribute to my already low opinion of Halloween. There is no creative thought behind it and now it’s just another yearly ritual everyone does mindlessly. “What about the children?” you might ask. “They love Halloween! Let them have some fun!” Here is what I have to say to that: “Trick or Treat!” on thorough analysis, is actually quite rude. Give me food or else...! That is what we’re teaching young children? Where are their manners? Why not just ask for candy? Everyone knows that’s what they want anyway. Not only do we let them blackmail us, we actually give in and throw sugar at them. Sugar, sugar and more sugar. I’m sure teachers hate the days after Halloween. Those hyper kids can’t be fun. Overworked parents are distributing ADD medication en masse, and studies show that over 50% of children in North America are overweight. Not to mention the increasing rates of food allergies. Where might those come from, I wonder? My dislike for Halloween must run in the family. In Germany, the equivalent phrase for “Trick or Treat!” is translated as “Sweet or Sour!” One Halloween back in Germany, my Mom was so sick of children ringing at our door that she went out there with a jar and said, “Sweet or Sour, eh? All right, you asked for it! Here, take some pickles!” The next year they just dorf s r a said, “Sweet?” nH
! e s a e l : P n , e e e w o M l k r l r o a a f t P a H e D r f e o T h t e o d n i si N in
erhaps it’s the stunning full moon in the endof-October sky, or the ghoulish parade of laughing children playing double-dare under the streetlights at the end of the cul-de-sac. Perhaps it’s the smell of baked pumpkins and sugar cookies, or the leatherbound and gold-leafed Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe lying on the kitchen table. Perhaps it’s the terrifying murmurs of classic horror movies rising from my television on a cold autumn night—but for whatever combination of these reasons, I have always loved Halloween. I’ve always found Halloween to be more of a fun cultural event that piques my creative whims rather than an obligatory “holiday.” When Halloween is near, the photographer in me shivers with the thrill of silhouetted neighbourhoods. The poet in me loves the allure of a costume, the ability to play with identities, becoming and unbecoming whatever I can dream up. The artist in me craves the chance to play with dark colours, brilliant shades of orange, and the occasional white pumpkin. And of course, my literary side (I’m an English major) has loved the gothic from the moment I spread open the pages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Halloween is a night for fun, for being creative in boundless, sometimes ridiculous ways. Once inspired, I can turn anything into a seemingly bizarre medium, whether it is food, fabric, or a less than well-thought-out architectural structure. Last Halloween, I thrilled my friends and family with my bizarre Halloween-inspired artistic creations. I turned the entrance of my sketchy apartment (no word of a lie, a terrifying semi-subterranean concrete tunnel) into a gallery of Latin blood-pledge poetry and Edvard Munch-style paintings, all lit by candles on the staircase. I took joy in carving intricate scenes from Bram Stoker’s Dracula into pumpkins. Guests arrived in costume not because I asked them to, but because I had set a theme by baking an Alice in Wonderland cake in the shape of a chess board, complete with teacups and top hat (fondant icing is now my enemy). I laid out delicious but unnerving treats in the dark, daring people to bite into cold peeled grapes or bob for sour pickles. It’s an art in itself, making people think what they are eating is actually something else. And in the course of the night I delighted in taking on several personas, from the fantastical Alice to a mysterious circus ring leader, to a fun-loving girl from the Vegas strip (all carefully detailed, hand-made costumes, of course). Halloween is not just candy and scary stories, or beer. It’s also the freedom to be creative in wonderfully morbid ways. Halloween isn’t just a cultural leftover from a more spiritual time, and it isn’t being kept alive by commercialization alone. We keep Halloween alive because of our desire to be creative, to be young at heart. Because some of us love fairy tales, because some of us are fascinated with things that thrill us, because some of us love sweets, and because some of us love to be bizarre and creative—that’s why Halloween is still here. So “celebrating” Halloween is very open-ended. For me, it lets me have that gothic whimsicality and encourages the more interesting side of my creativity—even if that means my friends end up wearing top hats, staring at portraits that stare back, and bobbing for pickles in the dark next to a pail filled with peeled grapes and cold, wet spaghetti. That’s why I love Halloween.
n vo i l o r Ca
G RAPHIC BY TAJANA R ISTIC
G RAPHIC BY TAJANA R ISTIC
e S l ” k t c r Pi A “ gfor e h T bbin o B
The Shell A shell on the beach is an unnatural object if there ever was one: a technology good enough to inhabit. This mauve cream icing crusted rainbow sheen unwields itself in cochlear curl, until a rough-hewn edge of memory, this work grew with its begetter; an implied crustacean mason builds no more. Would she object to this appropriation? To the hunger of our own rough-hewn edges, of our need to grasp the exoskeleton of a creature so unlike ourselves and recognize, this is like the crust of a bread: a hard outer part with something soft underneath. Or assert, this spiral curve follows geometrical laws (someone, maybe me, could calculate how large the next curl would be). Or even to wonder, who would this creature ingest, and by whom be digested? If meaning means to point out edges, reading is an overlooking: blindness to the thing observed, or the application of language to a word.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY M IKE WADE
photography by Will van Engen