granted, British Columbia is probably Canada at
got incredible scenery, and it's the one part
of Canada that doesn't freeze solid between November
and March. At least, along the coast. Vancouver
is an incredible city, Seattle without the grunge
and the nerds, and marijuana is $125 Canadian
per ounce for what the town major describes as
"coma-inducing weed." Victoria takes all the good
stuff about London and leaves behind the yobs
and the multidimensional street maps. I've lived
in both London and Victoria, and I would say they
are my second and third favorite places to live
in the world, behind only Siskiyou County.
when a buddy of mine showed up today, fresh from
a week long sojourn up Vancouver Island and then
on the inward passage ferry to Prince Rupert,
the first thing I asked him was if he got a red
maple leaf tattooed on his butt. He was effusive.
Note to BC Tourism Board: you got another one.
was interesting - or at least novel - to me was
his description of their visit to the Parliament
building in Victoria. Here they are, a pair of
Yanks with backpacks and accents, and they show
up at the provincial capital.
the army of cops guarding the building against
terrorism give them steely stares and demand to
see their passports? No, the one cop in sight
just gave them a genial wave. Were their backpacks
searched? Nope. They weren't even asked to leave
them at the desk. The place, my friend noted incredulously,
didn't even have a metal detector.
can't be claimed that British Columbians are apathetic
about their politics. This is a province that
is quite capable of swinging from socialism to
fascism and back every few years. It's sort of
incredible they haven't had a Guy Fawkes since
the days of WAC Bennett.
it's amazing there's a building left standing
in BC. Doesn't al Qaida know that western Canada
is ripe for the plucking?
pretty much the same way. I'm told the PM still
walks to work without guards - through the crowded
Sparks Street Mall - on days when the weather's
al Qaida thinks it's more fun to tease the paranoid
regime in Washington. Or maybe they don't want
to mess with a system that has good dope for $125
an ounce. I mean, that's about ¤20 Euros for 10
grams. The fact that al Qaida isn't messing with
a free society that has good dope must have Tom
Ridge writhing in outrage and confusion. Doesn't
al Qaida hate those sorts of things?
week another guy got back from Washington DC.
He, too was effusive, talking about the Lincoln
Memorial, the Mall, the Smithsonian, and all those
glorious things that make Washington such a wonderful
place to visit.
armed guards - troopers, not to put too fine a
point on it - were everywhere. He had to show
ID dozens of times, and his backpack was x-rayed
and opened, metal detecting wands played over
him, metal detectors everywhere. It's still possible
to see Congressmen walking around town without
armed escorts - Michael Moore frightened some
in "Fahrenheit 911" - but you are never, ever
going to see George W. walking up the mall, briefcase
in hand, and no secret service in sight. Even
if he was a popular president.
a contrast, these two capitols. One, open, unafraid,
and comfortable. The other, fearful, paranoid,
and according to my friend, a very scary place
to be these days.
Republicans are meeting in New York next week
for their quadrennial convention, and I'm told
that there are going to be thirty-seven THOUSAND
armed guards‹cops and troopers‹there to defend
the thousand or so delegates.
court ruled that protesters couldn't stage a rally
in Central Park on the grounds that they might
hurt the lawn. First Amendment takes back seat
to blades of grass. You have to wonder what Walt
Whitman would make of that.
media is playing up the threat of a terror attack,
of course. Terrorists are pantingly anxious to
pass up the opportunity to blow up the Parliament
in BC in order to take on 37,000 armed guards
and the most sophisticated military equipment
odd thing is that two commercial jetliners took
off from a Moscow airport, one about an hour and
a half after the other. Both crashed within three
minutes of each other, over 500 miles apart. Witnesses
saw mid-air explosions, and there are reports
that at least one plane had its emergency "hijacked!"
possible it wasn't a Russian 9/11. Not likely,
media buried that story on page 19. A ludicrously
improbable attack on New York during the convention
is considered bigger news than an almost certainly
actual terror attack in Russia.
Russian attack doesn't pump up American fear and
paranoia, of course, so it's deemed unnewsworthy.
Americans don't hear about how Canada - a country
which lost as many people proportionately on 9/11
as America did - doesn't have those stupid goddam
color code terror threats, and they haven't subjected
themselves to endless searches by bored security
guards, suspicion over cash purchases, and the
gimlet stares of cameras on every street corner
and in every store.
with hardly a thought, have traded away much of
their freedom and privacy for some utterly non-existent
security, and the result is only that they are
more frightened and apprehensive than ever.
BC, they don't have metal detectors, armed guards
with automatic weapons, or the pervasive stink
war on terror may be the first (and last) war
in the history of the United States in which the
people deliberately made sacrifices in order to
Posted: September 1, 2004