Thursday, May 21, 2009

They're At It Again...

In September 2008, the Powers Of The City's Most Corrupt Administration Ever decided to allow the tearing down of cultural hallmarks and heritage spots to build condos and expensive live show venues, all while letting smaller show venues wither and die.

A year later, they're still at it, this time targeting a strip of the instersection of our two main streets, Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Catherine, expropriating commerces that have been in place for a century, defining Montréal institutions like Montréal Pool Room (usually considered the best steamed hot dogs in town) and vaudevillian/cabaret/burlesque venue Café Cléopâtre.

They claim they want to keep the façades and build 11-story buildings behind them which will house both condos and commerces, and we all expect them to end up not being able to use the façades and just build their new towers instead of what is already in place.

What's funny/odd is they want to destroy what is already there instead of using the vacant lots surrounding the place, but if they really wanted to revitalize that part of town, shouldn't they start with the vacant lots? And that's saying nothing of the fact that 11-story buildings are not allowed in that particular part of that particular street for preservation reasons.

But the people of my generation no longer care about issues like these. They're past the cynicism of decades past and just don't care or, worse, full-on agree that the cleansing of ''morally questionable establishments of the moment'' is the right thing to do, that it's vital that we turn a reputation-carrier into a cross between a peaceful suburb and Disneyland.

And that type of attitude is contagious, because fuckers like me then feel outnumbered and powerless when facing impossible odds when all we're trying to do is keep our city - and its spirit - intact.

Our city is known for its art and its artists. But you can't perform regularly when the only venues that are left are those who'll charge your crowd $50 a ticket to see you perform. And it's hard to create when you're too busy packing from being expropriated and evicted every other month because your landlord is no longer content on the $500 you give him monthly and would rather sell your place as a condo for a cool quarter million or more.

A friend of mine keeps telling me of his dream, to run off into a forest and just build himself a shack there out of what's available, and live outside of our way of life, except that the government wouldn't let you do this, they'd still come at your door and expect something of you.

Well... I'm starting to be at a point where I think to myself: if my city refuses to be a City, with decent public transit, a 'normal' amount of potholes, affordable housing, culturally diverse, at least some services and commerces available 24/7, varied entertainment, laws that make sense... then maybe I should move to such a place. Or go all-out opposite and move to Gaspésie, near the ocean, and relax, eat shrimp and lobster daily, and not worry about the assholes wasting my tax dollars, lounging on their friends' yachts after taking bribes for them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Treacherous Journey From Employment To Unemployment, Volume 2 - Painting Yourself Into A Corner

I've been a fucking ghost.

The people in my office love me (or so it seems, at least), I've been the mediator-who-brings-sunshine in quite a few conflicts of late, and always got the job done on time, oftentimes working overnight, sometimes non-stop for a whole weekend.

I'm respected by my immediate bosses, those who co-sign the work I do on my own and get paid ten times my salary, because they know what they ask of me and they know no one else could do it as well for so cheap. And it suits me, too, because I almost never sleep, so working at night on some absolutely-due report after having had the time to write, play a show, spend time with the Lady Of The House and maybe even see friends and/or watch a hockey game is worth less money.

But that means that I'm rarely there when the Real Bosses from the Toronto Office call in, so after a while, as the job kept getting done on time, they sort of forgot about me.

Some tasks I shared with others, one of which was supervising a complete crew as they collected data, something I've been doing on my own for 6 months now. But for the first seven and a half years, it was teamwork, a stask I shared with at least one other person, many times taking less shifts than the other person because I had the other, usually pressing, things I needed to do - on time, usually for the next morning before my immediate superiors got in.

Every single other supervisor was fired. That's at least five of them, maybe even up to eight. Yet I remain. Because every other supervisor's 'extra' tasks included contact with the Toronto Office - not me. 9AM to 5PM on weekdays is my time off from work, time where I could be sleeping. I may be working during those hours, but never there, always from home or a remote location where I could concentrate, as I wasn't allowed any mistakes; the fruit of my labour went directly to our clients, and bore my bosses' names, but they never even reviewed it - they rarely had enough time to anyway.

Recently, The Boss came to town and called a complete staff meeting. It was serious shit, Monster News. Everyone who was there was given an ultimatum, and most were told they only had two weeks of work left, the others were given a choice of moving to Toronto if they wanted to continue with the company. The Montréal office was closing down.

What news awaited me, personally? I wasn't even invited to the meeting. Eight years working for The Boss, and on the Day Of The Big Overhaul, I was at home, sleeping. My whole division and I only had a shift the next day, anyway.

And when I did get there, I had no idea, so it felt strange that everyone looked like they'd just been told they had terminal cancer. And it took hours before anyone filled me in on the details.

Lucky me, though, I wasn't there. I had been forgotten, so The Boss made it seem like it was on purpose, and that my staff and I were going to remain. The rest of the company, a whole floor above a shopping mall, 16 desks, 4 closed offices, 2 reception counters, 3 meeting rooms, a kitchen, an IT room, a printer room - all rendered useless, still paying rent for, while me and my crew took up a space that was barely bigger than my living room, working for our last remaining client. Makes sense.

Only our last remaining client told me, three days ago, that they were thinking of going in ''another direction''; online. More straightforward, more random, better odds of getting the exact sample they were looking for.

Sure, I became a ghost, and sure I'm probably going to outlast my peers by a month, but I did so by painting myself into a corner.

Then again, I thought ghosts could fly. We'll see what happens next.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm Calling It: Summer's Here

It's 5:30AM, the sun is shining bright.

The evening's been a good and festive one, what with a dance show and a night out in a club afterwards. The night ended at my friend's pad, who lives a block away from my place, and it turns out I had some leftover beer in his fridge. You know, when everything seems to be going your way...

It's just a block's walk, but a million things run through my head: love, life... but none more than ''life is good''. A half-drank six pack of Sleeman beers in one hand, a lukewarm slice of pizza in the other (La Mère's special, too, with green peppers, pepperoni, smoked meat and bacon underneath thick layers of cheese), more cars than humans out on a bright Sunday morning...

It felt right.

So what if it was below 10 degrees (52, for our metrically-impaired friends in the Imperial System), the situation itself made it summery. Walking in short sleeves, drunkenly, in the wee hours of the morning, after a great night out, carrying food and alcoholized beverages with no regard whatsoever for The Law, taking my time, not freezing to death... all that was missing was the ocean. And I'll agree even more in a few minutes when I stick my fat self right next to the Lady of The House in the holiest of beds - mine.

Ain't asking for much, but ain't need for much more.

Summer's here. It's finally good to be alive again.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Joe The Plumber Talks - Again

Anyone remember Joe The Plumber, whose actual name is Samuel Wurzelbacher?

I still don't understand why he almost became an issue in the last American federal elections. Oh, I get why the Sarah Palins and Redneck Nation in general loved him, he represents them at their retarded best. But why the general media, who had just re-grown a pair of balls after almost a decade of tucking them at the back of their collective thongs, gave him air time just blows me away.

Anyhow, here he is again. A whore for anything that records his words and takes his picture, he decided it was smart to answer a Q&A with Christianity Today. Uh huh. Can't you just smell it?

Sample quote:
I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children.
Oh, yeah. Apparently, Joe The Genius doesn't see the difference between gays and pedophiles. Men who want to be with men are the same as men who force little boys and little girls into doing terrible things that will affect them for life.

He doesn't seem to realize he is more 'at risk' with his gay friends than his kids are. He confuses Gloria Gaynor and Michael Jackson. A genius, I tell you.

Buying And Selling Fear: Capitalism 102

They're at a punk-rock show on a Saturday night at a bar that takes its name from a Mickey Rourke film of the '80s in the heart of downtown. They wear glasses and their hair is perfectly undone. The totally uncool of 20 years ago trying desperately to be the best fucking thing alive right now. Like being the underest underdog at the bottom of the shit pile will make them sympathetic enough to get the win by public vote.

Except this isn't American Idol, it's a prize fight, and the phone lines aren't open.

It's a sad state of affairs to see we've regressed as a species, in not even quite a generation, no less. The over-democratization of even the dumbest trash has led to a feeling that if you can get a hundred of the lowest low-lives to congregate at one spot and send a 'normal' human there by any happenstance, you could get the normal one crucified and it would all be excused.

And it's not about how you look; there's this aura that some people emit, one that tells you just how much of a douchebag, asshole or nitwit a person is. But the problem is even worse. We seem to have inverted the process of Natural Selection, survival of the fittest - which is fitting, in a way, since most of the modern Western world is in no physical shape to survive anything. But in doing so, we've let the idiots take charge and put the slow-witted in what are perceived as positions of control as well as even stupider cats as the model we show everyone when we need a crisis to happen.

If it seems a bit vague to you, think of the past couple of weeks, the Fear Of The Day: swine flu. A pandemic, they called it, comparable to the Spanish flu. Keep in mind the Spanish flu killed anywhere between 40 and 100 million people, with a world population of roughly 2 billion people at the time.

Nowadays, we're almost (or just about) 7 billion humans on the planet, which is way more than it can handle and/or feed. A pandemic that would rid us of half of the world's population would be devastating to our species, but practically a godsend to the planet and most other species. Instead, we have 26 confirmed deaths (only one outside of Mexico, in nearby Texas), and up to 101 potential deaths. A percentage of a percentage that cannot even be considered.

But the World Owners sold it, and the idiots bought it. And by buying into their fear, once more, 6 months after they swore they wouldn't give in to fear anymore by electing Barack Obama, they bought into the bullshit again, and they bought shit to go with the bullshit, so much that the economy seems to be heading past the recession (which was called the worst ever by the same people who own our souls only a couple of months ago).

The Dow Jones is up to levels of pre-Bush eras (or just as Bush got into power eras). That means the people bought into the bullshit and bought so much actual shit that the bullshit-sellers on Wall Street also regained their confidence, six months after admitting they had lost all of everyone's money and kept some as commission, and just three months after admitting they had spent billions in bailout money in, well, unverifyable data and pay raises.

Capitalism, in and of itself, is doomed to fail. When only 5 people will own all the manufacturing plants that make all our foods and all the workers will be at so low a wage that they won't be able to afford purchasing the food (and goods) they're making and selling, the system will fall apart. By itself. And we were so fucking close.

But the System, the Machine, used the oldest (and only) trick in its book to get the train back on its rails: fear. And the best fear, too: fear for our health, in a world where you can't trust doctors to operate on you correctly, where half of North Americans don't have insurance or the cash flow to guarantee decent medical aid, where most of the Third World can't even get to see a doctor - they went with a health scare. And the media, that they own and operate, advertised the bullshit they sold, and the people bought it.

Barack Obama represented Hope. He's been in charge for 6 months now. He wasn't expected to change everything in so little time, but the one thing he wasn't supposed to let happen was this big a campaign of disinformation.

Now, Hope that he can do any good is fading, and Trust in what he's saying is near Absolute Zero.

And Hope in the human race seems... hopeless. Futile.