Turning the Ignition Key

I’m going to just start typ­ing, and bear with me, because it feels a bit like start­ing up a car that’s been sit­ting in a garage for sev­eral weeks. Not rusty, but a lit­tle creaky and not quite ready for the open road for a few min­utes, at least until it starts to warm up…

Speak­ing of tem­per­a­ture, today was chilly, and for the first time, it truly felt like fall was in the air. Never mind that sum­mer has offi­cially been over for 3 weeks. Van­cou­ver doesn’t get the spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of autumn leaves that we used to see in New Eng­land, and it was partly what made it my favourite sea­son. Now, I’m not quite as fond of it as I used to be, but I still do like the sea­sonal dishes and pro­duce: Rata­touille, roasted squash, pears and cran­ber­ries, and I also like the fact that it’s typ­i­cally the time of year when I feel as if everything’s start­ing up, that the year is really begin­ning. Jan­u­ary 1st may be the offi­cial kick-off of the cal­en­dar year, but as the son of two teach­ers and now some­times one myself, the aca­d­e­mic cal­en­dar always seems more appropriate.

Back to classes here also means the return of the Fringe Fes­ti­val, and I’m a fan. That’s over and done with now, but I did make it to a few shows. It was grat­i­fy­ing to see that the annual fes­ti­val of inti­mate the­atre that takes place nearby us on Granville Island as well as through­out the city was more pop­u­lar this year than ever. I’m afraid that I didn’t get to the Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, which usu­ally comes on the heels of the Fringe, but it also looked to be well attended.

So what’s com­ing up? I’m look­ing for­ward to Bar­Camp, the yearly uncon­fer­ence where every­body gets to be an expert in some­thing. I think I have a sub­ject to talk about this year, and I’ll be putting some of that up before­hand, mainly to tease those who might be inter­ested in it. I’m also antic­i­pat­ing the Cas­soulet fes­ti­val that Oyama Sausage Com­pany cel­e­brates. I’ve writ­ten about it before, and per­haps I will again. After all, it’s not ever day that you get to eat what’s prob­a­bly the most sub­lime dish ever made with beans, herbs and meats.

I’m not look­ing for­ward to the elec­tion back in the US. Pol­i­tics and gov­ern­ment in the US has reached the point of com­plete and utter absur­dity. The Amer­i­can elec­torate is now by and large so irra­tional and dri­ven by Pub­lic Rela­tions manip­u­la­tion that I don’t expect any sane out­come in Novem­ber. I’ve been lis­ten­ing to the audio ver­sion of the book The Age of Amer­i­can Unrea­son by Susan Jacoby, and I’m becom­ing con­vinced that she is right on tar­get. Polit­i­cal cul­ture in the US is a reflec­tion of gen­eral cul­ture, which has become less and less informed, knowl­edgable and rea­soned. Amer­i­cans have stopped talk­ing about any­thing impor­tant, except the lat­est scan­dal, goofy YouTube moment, or gaffe. Instead of call­ing the Tea Party out on their igno­rance of what the Con­sti­tu­tion says (like for instance, the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers which makes it clear that a Pres­i­dent can’t send in sol­diers to another coun­try with­out the approval of Con­gress, which is exactly what George W. Bush did in Iraq), the TV net­works focus on enter­tain­ing peo­ple with sound-bites. Amer­i­cans don’t read news­pa­pers any more, much less books. With enter­tain­ment trump­ing real infor­ma­tion, it’s clear to me that the most pow­er­ful voice in US pol­i­tics is not any of the politi­cians, but Fox News. Dur­ing my US trip, at cer­tain motels, Fox News was the only cable news chan­nel avail­able on the tele­vi­sion. That would be like Pravda being the only news­pa­per avail­able at a news stand (for those who aren’t famil­iar with the name ‘Pravida’, it was Russ­ian for ‘Truth’, and was the offi­cial news source of the USSR). With Fox the most wide­spread and pop­u­lar source of info-pablum, the US is now effec­tively being led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

There, it looks like my motor is run­ning again.