Sunday, October 7, 2012

Normaling in Public With Betsy Fisher Fernandez

Me and *Betsy Fisher-Fernandez go way back. Let`s just call her BFF for short. We first met as lovable young hooligans at your friendly neighbourhood alternate school. Yup, BFF and I were bad little apples. Not so bad, but not really very good apples either. Really we were artists, so let`s just go with "misunderstood" apples.

We met a day before our city was buried under a trillion feet of ice and declared a state of emergency thanks to the ice storm of 1998. Her favourite movie was Titanic and we both had bad intentions for Leonardo Dicaprio.

In our early days we used to wear short skirts and push up bras and go to Hull where the legal drinking age was a year younger than it was in Ontario so we could cause a little trouble, break a few hearts, and dance like we had been choreographed by Bob Fosse himself. In fact one time we rented Sweet Charity and then went to Mercury Lounge to try out some new moves. They worked. We were awesome! One time we even danced for socks. We would order Slow Comfortable Screws Up Against the Wall (the drink), and since we were regulars and the bartenders knew us too well, it went without saying that we would require a whole lot of maraschino cherries. It was a magical time in our lives where we didn`t have to worry that much about things like essays or deadlines or job stability or cellulite. We pretty much owned the world.  

At the end of the night BFF and I would stumble home and crash on my couch and watch A Clockwork Orange until we fell asleep, which was usually about an hour in. Eventually we would learn to start the movie from the point where we left off the time before so we wouldn`t have to keep watching the same part over and over again. And when we finally finished watching the whole thing BFF decided we could never watch it again because we had watched it way too many times to be healthy. I still watch it because it`s amazing. This possibly makes me a terrible person.

 When I broke up with my first love and boyfriend of five-ish years, BFF came over and we ate a bunch of ice cream and watched all three Harry Potter movies. (This was a while ago)  When things have gone wrong in her love life I swore I would punch the bastard because I don`t like people fucking with my BFF. Let this be a lesson to all you boys who think she`s cute. And she definitely is. If you hurt her I will break you in half.

Even in our darkest days, BFF and I always had a plan. We would sit in the middle of a  field in the middle of the night singing House of the Rising Sun with some vodka mixed with a can of frozen orange juice and plot our futures. We were definitely both going to be famous. We would definitely make each other famous with our mad skills. Although not our mad singing skills because we both totally sucked at that. But we made a bunch of videos together and wrote some songs, and nearly 15 years later we`re planning feature length films and television series and other wild adventures. Like how one day we`re going to rent a slick convertible and drive really fast from Los Angeles to Vegas and get dinosaur tails and fake bats for photo ops. But no point in mentioning those bats. You poor bastards will see them soon enough.

But then one day she moved to the other side of the country, and in case you`re not a Geography expert, Canada`s a pretty damn big country. And then I moved to the other side of the Earth. And then I moved even further to the other side of the Earth. So there were a lot of years where I didn`t see too much of BFF at all because we were really really far apart.

So finally we are back in the same time zone. In fact, we`re back in the city where it all began. So last night BFF needed to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a clothing steamer, because she wears the kind of stuff and does the kinds of things that require a clothing steamer now. So on a Saturday night that used to be filled with wild and crazy adventures, we were busy picking out towels to match her bathroom and buying pita and hummous to snack on while we watched Titanic.

There`s an episode of 30 Rock where Jenna and Paul discover this crazy new fetish called "normaling" where they go to Bed Bath and Beyond to pick out placemats and it can`t possibly be normal because Jenna and Paul don`t do normal. This is exactly how last night felt at Wal-Mart, because Ella and Betsy don`t do normal. We`re fucking artists! But it turns out that despite all our wild times we grew up and kinda got normal.

Moral of the story: BFFs are like a chronicle of your life. Better than a diary because you can relive all the fun times and the story seems to keep getting better every time. They are like having your own personal CIA because they know all your secrets and they`ll put you on a watch list if they know you`re about to do something totally idiotic. They go through all the phases of life with you from being little shitheads to shopping for towels. And best of all they inspire you so that when you`re really angry about having to come back to Ottawa after two years of gallivanting around the world it ends up being not so bad.

*Her name is not really Betsy, but was changed because she didn`t want anyone to know that she was watching Titanic instead of independent art films last night.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Church & State Penitentiary

            You know when some asshole says “no offense” and then immediately launches into a completely offensive tirade that makes you want to punch him in the face?  But instead of thinking “it`s cool, he said no offense”, you think “that guy is a fucking asshole!”  Well that is how I feel about Canada`s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews right now.
            Let`s just say the Conservative Government`s idea of “religious freedom” differs slightly from my own view.  I`m of the thought school that goes something like “believe whatever you want just don`t hurt anybody”.  Theirs tends to be more along the lines of “everyone is free to be Christian, and by Christian I mean specifically the kind that judges everyone and spits all over the grave of equal rights”.  Maybe I`d feel a little better if it was more like the Jesusy kind of Christianity that`s all loving thy neighbour and don`t treat them like shit and stuff.  But it`s not.  So I guess it shouldn`t have been that much of a surprise to learn that the government is eliminating essentially all non-Christian chaplains from federal penitentiaries. 
            According to a CBC article, the government has decided that Christian chaplains are in a unique position to cater to all religious beliefs and provide the services of all of them.  Since apparently Christians are the only ones possessing this incredible skill of universal guidance, getting rid of all the other ones was the only logical option.  This one`s for you taxpayers!
            Here`s the thing that economics doesn`t explain away: Why are Christians exclusively able to provide interfaith teachings?  Who decided this, and what was the criteria for their decision?
Vic Toews stated that he “strongly supports the freedom of religion for all Canadians, including prisoners”.  So in other words it`s not actually religious discrimination because Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians are all equally allowed to be Christian.  Yay Canadian rewrite of equality!

            HOW IS THIS OKAY???

            In addition to being an incredibly blatant rejection of the right to religious freedom as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this decision demeans the work of all non-Christian spiritual leaders who have devoted their lives to their faith and strive to develop a deeper understanding of that faith.  Then they use that passion to help inmates through some of the most difficult times of their lives.  And Vic Toews reduces their work by saying “well this guy`s a Christian so he can probably do it”.
Moral of the story: If you say you`re not a douchebag and then say something douchy, you`re still a douchebag.  There is no magical non-douchebag cloak that you get for preceding bullshit with the words “no offense”, or “I`m no racist ”, or “I`m all for equality, but...”  If you find yourself using disclaimers like these, you are probably a dickhead.  Just like if you are the Minister of Public Safety and find yourself saying you`re “not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding” and then proceed to cut the jobs of everyone not affiliated with a particular religion, it turns out that is exactly the business you are in.