Archive | July, 2010

#3 Patriotism

21 Jul

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.

– George Bernard Shaw

Over the course of the last ten years, Canadians have increasingly adopted the rather repugnant behavioural patterns of the Flag Waver.  Before I get into this, however, I wanted to first point out the greatest inherent hypocrisy in Canadians being obsessive Flag Wavers.

For as long as I can recall, one of the biggest complaints that Canadians have maintained against Americans (that is, people from the USA), is that as a nation, Americans are far too patriotic and the biggest Flag Wavers of all.  How funny then, that Canadians would begin to completely emulate this behaviour.  I wonder exactly why it is that Canadians feel that it’s perfectly alright to hang the Canadian flag from their apartment window or attach one of those stupid fucking car flags to the window of their car, but Americans are “overly patriotic” when they do the exact same thing.  In fact, these days in Canada it’s becoming increasingly difficult to go anywhere where the Canadian flag isn’t being waved to excess.  This ridiculous increase in meaningless allegiance isn’t something I’m imagining either.  According to this study, Canada is the sixth most patriotic country in the world.

Things only got worse once the winter Olympics came to Vancouver in 2010.  The flag waving and false sense of egotistical pride that goes hand in hand with patriotism was at an all time high.  Perhaps that’s to be expected given that the Olympics are an event in which national pride is pushed to the extreme.  The thing is, that level of national pride didn’t dissipate after the games ended, nor did the flag waving.  Suddenly, hanging a Canadian flag from your balcony became the norm.  As far as I’m concerned, there are few gestures that are both as empty and as obnoxious as is flag waving.

Don’t get me wrong here – there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your country.  Yet at the same time, it’s necessary to understand several things.  For starters, being born in Canada isn’t a skill.  I don’t care who you are, being born is nothing to brag about.  Second, your country isn’t the greatest in the world for the simple fact that no such thing exists.  To insist upon as much makes one come off as uncultured, untraveled and absolutely miniscule minded.

The thing about Canadians that not too many people outside of Canada know is that a very strong sense of insecurity exists here.  Constantly portrayed as the USA’s little brother, Canadians are desperate to prove that they’re a big deal.  The lack of a unifying national culture is the thorn in the Canadian side, and Canadians will do anything and everything to distract themselves from the glaring reality of that fact.

Certainly there are other countries out there that are far more patriotic than Canada.  Take for example, Malaysia.  Malaysians are some of the kindest, most sincere people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet in all my life.  Their country is amazing and I have returned there on several occasions simply because it is so damn great.  But holy shit, do Malaysians love to wave a flag.  If you can go five seconds in Malaysia without seeing at least a dozen Malaysian flags on display, then you must be staring at the ground the entire time.  Why I’m a little more sympathetic to this fanatical nationalism is that Malaysians actually have something to celebrate.  Their country has only been in their hands for 53 years now.  Before that, the British ruled the roost.

And so it’s the same with so many other countries that have seen the suffocating grip of a colonial power strip them of their national culture.  The Philippines, India, Mexico, Cuba, South Africa – even the United States of America.  These countries are steeped in history and people whose emancipation from a foreign ruler actually meant something.  Canada is nowhere near in the same league and as such, doesn’t have any reason whatsoever to be so goddamned flamboyantly patriotic.

It also strikes me that whenever I see overtly patriotic people here in Canada, they always come off as redneck, blue collar morons whose inherent ugliness is only amplified by their stubborn, shallow desire to scream about Canada being the greatest place on earth.  If these people had actually ever left Canada, hell, had actually ever left North America, they would have something to compare their beloved Canada to.  And what they would quickly realize – if they were honest and true enough to do such a thing – is that while Canada may be a large landmass with lots of beautiful mountains and streams and hardly any population to speak of; screaming about these things in any sort of proprietorial sense is the sum total of an vacant, obnoxious pride that serves only to make them look ridiculous and small.

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#2. Weather

7 Jul

It’s no secret that Canada has some of the worst weather to be found in any country, anywhere on earth.  This is not hyperbole and if you think it is, you’re either A) Canadian or B) You’re not Canadian, but you’ve never been to Canada.  To be sure, if you happen to like miserable, shitty weather 90% of the year, then come on over to Canada, have we got a treat for you!

Inexplicably enough, Canada’s soul-crushing winter seems to be something of a source of pride for many Canadians.  There’s something entirely sado-masochistic about a land whose inhabitants regularly pat themselves on the back for being capable of (and not really minding) temperatures that in many places of the country, often drop below -30°C (-22°F) or worse.  Some of (but certainly not all of) the worst winter weather can be found in central Canada, in places like Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  In these places, locals will often tell you with a totally straight face that the winters aren’t so bad if you “dress for it” and that even though the winters might be long and cold, the sun is always shining.  As someone who has been through more than his fair share of central Canadian winters, let me just tell you that neither dressing for it nor the sun’s rays will provide so much as a single drop of relief from the horrendously demonic ass-fucker that is a Canadian winter in central Canada.  Anyone who tells you otherwise has long since lost the ability to judge between warm and cold temperatures and is so used to the years of lying to themselves about the weather quality in their home province, that their opinion regarding this issue is in no way, shape or form even slightly valid.

Now, because I’ve singled out central Canada for an example, please don’t take that to mean that the rest of Canada’s weather isn’t that bad.  It is.  Winter lasts a long time in this country and even when it isn’t exactly “winter” the weather  is still far from spectacular.  Summer has its share of warm days, but for the most part, summer lasts about two months.  Vancouverites or those who live on nearby Vancouver Island, will try to brag to anyone who’ll listen that their temperatures remain “mild” throughout the winter.  Keep in mind if anyone from Vancouver or Vancouver Island should ever tell you this, “mild” in this particular scenario is a Canadian mild in terms of weather and not a normal mild.  It’s also well known that “mild” in Vancouver is little more than a euphemism for “pissing rain 24-hours a day for six months”.  So yeah, it’s still cold, just not as cold as the frozen tundra that is the rest of Canada.  Basically, it’s like the difference between being in the fridge instead of the freezer.
So fucked up about weather are Canadians that it is not uncommon to see people wearing shorts in the middle of December, January or February, particularly in Vancouver where locals have actually duped themselves into believing that they live in some sort of tropical paradise.  I’ve seen people in Canada walking around in shorts when the temperature is far below zero and there’s about a foot of snow on the ground.  Seriously.  It’s sad.

The kicker in all this is while Canada may not be alone in being a place that is cursed with terrible weather – I mean surely Finland or Sweden or Norway or even Minnesota isn’t all that pleasant during the winter months – it is alone in being one of the only places on earth whose citizens have no warm option.  What I mean by this is that most Europeans have the good fortune to move to another warmer country in Europe, even if only for the winter season.  Americans have California, Hawaii, Florida, etc, to choose from if their home state’s weather is just too bad.  Canadians?  We have nowhere to go.  There is no pot o’ gold at the end of our shit rainbow.  Just more snow and wind – or if you prefer, rain and wind.

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#1. Hockey

1 Jul

If you’re new to this blog and have no idea what this is all about, I would suggest taking a quick trip here first before you read on.

Okay, well since this is the very first post and seeing as how it just happens to be July 1st (which in Canada is a national holiday called Canada Day), I figured that I would start things off with a bang by pissing all over the only thing that Canadians seem to collectively care about: hockey.

Canada has no cultural identity – and when I say Canada has no cultural identity, please don’t mistake that as me saying that Canada isn’t multicultural (which it is), or that the First Nation peoples of Canada don’t have their own real authentic culture (which they do).  Sorry, but Canada as a nation is cultureless.  The country is too young and consists solely of immigrants – once again, aside from the First Nation peoples who are of course, the people who were here long before there was any here.  So, being that we lack culture, Canadians tend to glom on to things that they think makes one Canadian.  An overzealous, dull, irritating obsession with hockey is always at the top of that list.

My problems with this are numerous.  First off, hockey is a sport and as such can’t be at the forefront of any claim to cultural integrity.  If a sport tops the list of things that you can tell people from other countries who are curious to know about your culture, then there ain’t much going on at home.

Second, hockey is for meatheads.  Buffoon mouth breathers whose ability to grunt little more than “CANADA!” at the arena while sucking back shitty Canadian beer in $75 seats are not representatives of any country or culture that I personally want to be a part of.  These are the same people who willfully hoist signs at such mind numbingly patriotic events as the Olympics that read “Hockey is Canada’s Game”.  And?  Your point is?  I’ll tell you why hockey is Canada’s game: because no one else in the world gives a shit about it.  Yay!  We’re great at a sport that like, four countries on earth play and which even fewer than that actually attract large amounts of spectators to.  While the rest of the world is playing soccer or cricket or rugby or hell, even tennis, we Canadians are conceited enough to sit back, grinning smugly about our ability to play a sport that most people in the world have never seen a single second of before.  Hey, that’s great that we’re good at hockey and that we love it so much, but we love to act like it actually matters to anyone outside of Canada.  The only thing that’s worse than acting like our dominance of hockey actually matters to anyone outside of Canada is believing that it does.  And man oh man, do Canadians ever believe that it does.

This is what I have to put up with for 9 months out of the year.

All right, I’m going to be fair here.  Not everyone in Canada loves hockey.  There’s me and a few other people milling about.  But if you live in Canada and you dislike hockey, then man, are you ever in the wrong place.  The hockey season ends in May, but that doesn’t stop gatherings of meatheads from playing it on concrete all over the place.  By September, things are beginning to roll once again and if you can find a newspaper that carries a front page story that doesn’t involve hockey, well then you mustn’t live in Canada.  Hockey takes precedence over everything here and I mean everything.  Some Africans died of an epidemic?  That piece of news fits nicely just below the article on the Canuck’s chances of winning the Stanely Cup next year.  For nine months of the year (and often more) this shit is crammed down the throats of Canadians.

Indeed.  Hockey is too much.  There’s just too much of it and the faux sense of duty foisted on Canada’s citizens to incorporate it into their cultural identity is sickening.  Being in a country that doesn’t watch or pay attention to hockey (read: all of them aside from Canada) is a motherfucking relief, I can tell you that much.  I’ve had the fortune to experience it for a few years and it was pure bliss.

If only I could do it again…

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