An Orwellian Degree

So I don’t have a lot of time to write because I’m struggling to squeeze in a few paragraphs at work in the midst of moving offices weeks earlier than anticipated. But I wanted to touch briefly on what happened in Toronto over the weekend. You know, in case you missed it, even though you only had to go so far as signing into Windows Live Messenger in order to hear the news. Normally you see your local news, but apparently my news was local for everybody, because even Josh was getting updates in North Carolina about the cop cars being set on fire just up the street from my house, and having a couple of barely concealed brain aneurysms at my proximity to it all.

We hosted the G20 summit this past weekend, a move that not a lot of people agreed with. While the opportunity to show off our fair city is always appreciated, many were concerned with how much everything would cost, as well as the consequences on our streets of an event that by its very nature sparks protests. And although I agree that if you’re going to throw one of these behemoths then security is deserving of attentive spending, I still doubted it would do much to prevent the relatively minor issues of broken windows and other surface damage – as long as nobody was able to blow anything up or kill people, I’m happy. As for spending over a million on a ‘fake lake’ to recreate the atmosphere of the Muskokas for the media/cell-phone-charging station, well that was just stupid.

But I digress.

Canada is not always the quiet humble nation we like to let the rest of the world think we are. We protest when called upon, and while I do most of my protesting with signatures or online petitions, I will on occasion make the trip to Queen’s Park to protest whatever is on my agenda on the lawn outside of the provincial legislation. I won’t be behind a loudspeaker or undermining my own cause with stereotypical garb that makes it easier for the established power to dismiss me; no, I’m the kind to craft a strongly worded email to my M.P., or to call incessantly until I make enough of a nuisance of myself to get that stop sign or whatever put up. Still, I was tempted to get out there this weekend and into the thick of it, protesting if nothing else the fact that protesting in general was kept so far removed from the site of the meetings as to have zero effect on the delegates therein.

Because Toronto, in case you hadn’t noticed, turned into a locked down fortress practically overnight, and it was the police response rather than what they were responding to that finally waffled my decision to the ‘staying indoors’ option. The legitimate protests themselves were mostly peaceful; loud, organized, and varied in cause, but for the most part non-confrontational and an honest exercise in our democratic right. And of course there were a few more vocal characters, but by and large things were amicable.

Then there was the Black Bloc, a movement of supposed anarchists, apparently mostly from out of province, who made violence and destruction their mandate. Against ‘the pigs of Capitalism’ and ‘the march of Globalization’ and all that jazz, this felt essentially like a bunch of kids who had seen Fight Club one too many times. I’m not saying they got their black t-shirts at the Gap necessarily, but they sure got them from somewhere. So yes, we spent money dislodging all the mailboxes and garbage cans which did nothing to stop them smashing any windows that weren’t boarded up, and yes the Starbucks was targeted. Did you really think you were going to stop a bunch of pissed off kids from lighting things on fire? Don’t be stupid. The fact that there are cops in riot gear just makes the whole thing way more ‘awesome’ than just complaining on the internet. If anything, the excessive force gave them more fodder against ‘the man’.

So much for fighting fire with fire. How about using something a bit colder, like a frosty Toronto scowl? I hear we’re good at that. Maybe with a ‘What the fuck? Did you just break that window? What is wrong with you? We have to pay for that, you asshole!’ It’s hip to be an anarchist, so you’re not going to win unless you stop making it cool. Dig?

But no, they didn’t dig, and so when there was literal fire they fought with mismanaged attention followed by a blitzkreig of over compensation.

On Saturday, we were told that they were not ignoring the flaming cruisers, but rather were sticking to their more important task of protecting the already heavily reinforced series of fences in front of the summit site. This despite the fact that we had literally thousands of officers from all over Toronto and the surrounding suburbs. And while the gas exploding inside the burning cars could be heard several unprotected, unpoliced, and very crowded blocks away, they were not short of hands a few intersections north at Queens Park. Teams of riot squads, sometimes three lines deep, moved through the trees to corral the sparse protesters and joggers in search of kids from the nearby University, long hidden in the sewers. They struck their shields with their batons, steady and in rhythm while they walked, looking like something right out of 1984. Hooligans are one thing, but when I got home from stepping out for a quick bite (and maybe a glance or two up the street) and saw the same marching scene on every channel, that was when I decided that perhaps it was a good idea to keep myself indoors or at least west of Spadina for the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t broken glass or the inarticulate shouts of yet another loud and angry anarchist that worried me. (Hello? Living on Queen West means you hear a loud and angry anarchist at least once a week – and they don’t frequently break windows.) No, it was fear of being arrested for standing on the wrong corner and daring to frown at the goings on.

Which is precisely what happened the next day with a sudden shift, a take-no-chances explanation for a stark increase in aggression. From the police, I mean. While officials point out that there were no major injuries or security breaches, others prefer to point out their use of excessive force, indiscriminate arrests and even tear gas – something so uncommon here that many reputable news sources incorrectly cited it as the first time ever in Toronto (it was in fact used at an anti-poverty protest when Mike Harris was premier several years ago.) Apparently even rubber bullets were used, and all this in crowds that a fair guess from my window would put at, let’s say, a healthy mix of legitimate protesters, a smattering of the curious and/or foolish, and maybe 5% hooligan? Maybe? Then later, to add to the afternoon fun, about 200 people were surrounded and held at Queen and Spadina by police without explanation for a nice four hour standoff in the pouring rain between them and anyone who was standing at that intersection for any reason at the time of their arrival. In the end we ended up with figures of over 900 people held, 600 arrested, and five courtrooms set up specifically to process all this shit over the next couple of days.

And so after all that, here we are, the Monday after, and we’ve already begun the process of returning to our unfazed selves, and picking up the glass as well as the tab.

I’m not saying we don’t need police, generally speaking. Or even particularly at these events, should poor judgement bring them upon us. I’m just suggesting that perhaps this wasn’t the brightest display of foresight from the governmental powers that be. And if we really did need to have this ginormous clusterfuck of a security breach right downtown because we couldn’t house all those people anywhere in cottage country, then we could at least have done so with a little more grace and civility.

So today I’m in support of the demonstration outside of police headquarters against their excessive use of force on civilians, because frankly that should not be left unchecked. However, while criticizing the mismanagement I will admit that this was obviously not an easy situation to, well, de-clusterfuck. So I’ll refrain from calling it ‘police brutality’ and stick with ‘an ugly lesson to be learned,’ if only to avoid being a hypocrite the next time I want someone to save my ass from someone bigger than me. And to be fair, and in the interest of demonstrating that my support lies not necessarily with either the state or the anarchists but rather the rest of us in between, it would behoove me to leave out a full expression of my disdain for the other end of the disruptive stick that gave us this weekend bashing.

That’s right Black Bloc. Your strongly worded letter is on its way.

(Except later, because right now I’m tired, and I have a job to go to tomorrow, so here are some pictures instead.)

heavy police presence in Toronto. G20

Advertisements

Happy Not-So-New Year

Have you noticed winter kicks my ass much? As soon as the temperature drops, my brain seems to freeze along with the pipes, and it becomes a struggle just to roll my unmotivated and generally winter-blah’d self off the futon first thing in the morning. It’s dark when I get up, it’s dark when I get off work; it’s cold, slushy, and all around miserable. Fuck winter, man. Fuck it.

The only good thing about winter so far was that I flew south to spend Christmas with Josh. Unfortunately, that merriment ended as soon as my return flight touched down in Buffalo – in the middle of a blizzard. But wait, it gets better.

One delayed hour on the frozen tarmac later, I shoved my way past throngs of snowbirding elderly (who should NOT be allowed to travel with ‘carry-ons’ they can’t lift out of the overhead compartments without assistance), ELEVEN people blocking the aisles waiting for wheelchairs, three screaming toddlers and a fat guy with a cat. My luggage took even longer. I was also starving, having only brought ten dollars for travel-food without realizing that a 9am airport breakfast of yogurt and O.J. would cost eight bucks (you’d think I’d have this figured out by now, it being my third trip), or that all the delays would bring me well past 4pm before I could get to a bank machine. Said bank machine promptly rejected my card. Turns out the last machine I had used before my vacation was of the sketchy variety, and my card had been frozen as protection against card copying fraud. In retrospect, I’m quite grateful – but try telling that to me when I’m starving, tired, and pissed.

Good thing my mom was there to pick me up, or I might have kicked something and broken toes again. She had agreed to drive me to/from Buffalo since it’s loads cheaper to fly within the U.S. than across the Can-Am border. It’s also not that long of a drive, and we’ve got fun family along the way, so she was happy to oblige. She’s also got better luck with technology – her bank card worked just fine, so off we left with a few extra bucks and the intent of stopping for a quick bite to eat before hitting the border.

And then we got outside. Ohhhh, the outside.

I’m not going to describe the outside. But it looked something like this:

static snowstorm

got snow?

And sounded something like this:

What exit do we take? Nine, nine, the map says nine. Yeah, but where is nine? I don’t know, I can hardly see anything! Oh my god, it’s getting worse! This isn’t safe, we need to pull over! I can’t see the road! There is no over to pull to! Just watch the signs, can you see them!? I’ll lean my head out the window – ack, blargh, spit, cough! – I think that’s exit…three! Exit three! So we still have…crap, a long ass way to go. Shit, this is a total white out, I can’t even see the car in front of me! From now on trips to Buffalo are only for good weather! This is so not safe, this is SO! NOT! SAFE! I think that’s a truck up there, careful. Is that a truck? I think that’s a truck. Oh fuck, that’s a truck! It’s on it’s side, it’s flipped! Swerve, swerve!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!

Soooo, yeah. That sucked. By the time I got home and into bed I was already counting down until my next vacation.

On the plus side, Southwest Airlines gave me a spiffy credit for the whole ordeal, enough to cover a flight! Totally worth the hassle, I’d say, especially since within-US flights not around Christmas are pretty reasonably priced, so as soon as I’ve got time saved up at work again I’m getting my ass back on a plane.

In the meantime, here’s some highlights from the holidays:

kiss love woot!

Lovin' up on my man.

manly construction

Josh being manly with his tools. Haha. Tools.

dogs rage against the removal of the carpet

The dogs were less than thrilled with the decision to reno out the carpeting.

dog wood flooring

New wood floors are confusing!

rad kitchen friends

Visiting rad friends in their rad kitchen

the puppy and the boyfriend

Not our puppy 😦

hockey night in...NC

My dad sent a Leafs jersey down as a Christmas gift - woot!

Scrapbook

Josh took me out to choose a scrapbook for our photos...

scrapbook

...and even helped me put it together!

cute shirts much?

I got us matching paw-holding otter shirts! (Which other than this one photo op, will not be worn simultaneously - because there's cute and then there's revolting.)

What’s the deal with the otter shirts? I saw them on icanhascheezburger as a shirt-of-the-day just before I left Toronto and HAD to have them. So I bought them on the spot and had them shipped down to us to arrive just before Christmas as a surprise! Why otters? Because Josh had sent me this video a while earlier to make me smile:

Delicious

Where the hell have I been?

No seriously, if you know, please raise your hands, because it seems like days and weeks have gone by with me standing here going “wait, what?”

I’ve been super busy, once again. I figured I should probably fix up the spare room in my apartment given that I’d nailed up a bunch of wood and left the cardboard tile ceiling a little on the saggy side. I shanghied a handy pair of friends into helping me last weekend and then tagged along on their trip to the Junction Arts Festival for honey-and-lavender ice cream, random fridge art and copious amounts of bureks and perogies. Every Saturday I’ve been at May’s for knitting and pie (one hideous cardigan finished, one super cute hoodie about halfway there!), there’s been a trip to Niagara for Talea’s wedding plans, dinners with family and a ton of baking for corporate client events. Oh yeah, and I’ve got a boyfriend to spend with too! Josh has been busy building an extra room onto his brothers house with him (today: stairs) so I try to line up my free time with his as often as I can. I haven’t even had time to do grocery shopping – and I do my groceries online! It’s been sad amounts of takeout this past week for me.

There’s been zero time for blogging, or even time for structured thought on anything I’d like to blog about. So what do I do when I don’t have time to type? I post pictures. Much, much less time consuming.

Since I haven’t had time for groceries, I thought it would be good to remind myself that yes, at times, I have consumed real food. In that spirit, here are some pictures of me eating whilst on my not-so-recent vacation – have I mentioned I’m already in dire need of another? Also included are pictures of me about to eat, having just eaten, or generally in the midst of an eating type environment. You can’t visit the south without taking a bite, and Josh and I do love our delicious meal times.

Obsoive!

Eating it up at the almost-in-laws

Eating it up at the almost-in-laws

 

My southern man frying up some plantains for breakfast

My southern man frying up some plantains for breakfast

French toast? Or maybe Quebecois toast...

French toast? Or maybe Quebecois toast...

Mmm, breakfast! With a side of white trash bra.

Mmm, breakfast! With a side of white trash bra.

Out for Japanese on our date night <3

Out for Japanese on our date night ❤

Edamame! I don't think Josh had seen them before. I have two kinds in my freezer.

Edamame! I don't think Josh had seen them before. I have two kinds in my freezer.

We rode from dinner to the movies - even though it was in the same plaza.

We rode from dinner to the movies - even though it was in the same plaza.

Bean dip!

Bean dip!

Mmmmm ^_^

Mmmmm ^_^