Two Cheap Blazers
and no Band To InTervIew:
Backpacking After YSP! WSD!
we FInd ourselves sTIll
Issue 2 Fall 2006
Fear In leBanon?:
The Truths of my
Experience in Beirut
This magazine was printed
on recycled paper.
Please recycle this mag when you are
finished with it. Give it to family,
enemies, or just leave it in a public
place for someone else to stumble upon.
Between the Thought
and the Action
A few years back, I conducted a choir for the church I used to attend. A group of my friends got sick of listening to old Ms. McGillicutty
playing the slightly-off-pitch organ and singing with her slightly-off-pitch opera voice. So we decided to make a band. Jimmy played the bass
guitar in a local punk rock band called GatoCat; his sister, Shannon, played the piano in her high school jazz band; I knew how to play a strange
conglomeration of auxiliary percussion instruments; and Sandra had just learned to play the guitar. Joining us was a rotating cast of friends and
family who sang harmonies. When old ladies weren’t complaining about the indecency of guitars in church, they told us how reverent we looked
sitting at the front of the chapel.
The thing was, I think less than half of us actually believed in anything religious. On Saturday nights we went out, partied, and often drank
ourselves stupid. I also need not mention the tumultuous relationships perpetuated by a bunch of sexually repressed Christians. Come Sunday
morning, I would look down the front pew and see all the choir members with their heads in their hands. I guess reverence and being hung over
are often mistaken for each other.
To some degree, we’re all hypocrites. We present ourselves in a certain way, with certain virtues. As lovers, artists, fighters, comedians, or
spiritual guides. As people who have it together. We incorporate these archetypes into our image: our ideal selves. The hypocrisy is that these
ideals are unattainable. We can’t be an ideal any more than celebrities can be the fictional sex symbol portrayed by the media.
But we aren’t totally responsible for creating this false image. In many ways, the old ladies in the church spent as much, if not more effort
constructing a reverent depiction of the choir. So whereas hypocrites portray false virtuous images of themselves, paying lip service creates a
false virtuous image of others. What emerges is a discrepancy through language, a conflict of defining ourselves and being defined by others.
This conflict is so widespread, that I’m starting to think it’s part of the human condition.
It’s definitely within us at Memewar. We want to be unbiased. We want to have conflicting viewpoints adjacent to each other, but so far, we
haven’t done that. In this issue, we only published critical perceptions of the media, such as Erin Millar’s essay, “Sexy Kids”. In “Fear and Lebanon”,
Amanda C. Lee sees only one side of the Lebanese conflict. With David Suzuki, we present only one side of the environmental debate. We
have several swipes at McDonald’s in this issue, yet did not seek out a McDick’s spokesperson for a rebuttal.
We also published pieces in this issue that contain false self-representation: Elliot Lummin and Carmen Papalia try to portray an illusion of
professionalism in the lead-up to their interview. The Ninjoetry has little to do with ninjas. Then we printed some other completely unrelated
stuff, just thrown in for good measure.
In some way, all of us in these pages are broken, and we present ourselves as whole. Look closely. See the cracks.
36 Fear in Lebanon?:
The Truths of my Experience in Beirut
Amanda C. Lee
Not willing to let the mainstream media tell the entire story of Beirut’s evacuation, an American medical
student subtracts the media’s language of fear, telling her own “strategic departure” from the region.
42 Two cheap blazers and no band to interview:
backpacking after you say party! we say die!
Follow Memewar editors Elliott Lummin and Carmen Papalia across the UK, as they prepare to interview
Vancouver’s You Say Party! We Say Die!
12 WHen did I stop wanting to be president?
Imagine opening your mail and finding out that you are president. It happened to Jim Knipfel.
6 We find ourselves still quite unprepared...
The lead singer of In Medias Res presents a poem packed with people, places, and food.
14 Ninjoetry Jordan Somers
24 Grizzlar Matt Rader
25 Black Bear Matt Rader
28 Deer Matt Rader
29 Yellowjacket Matt Rader
34 A Chorus Line Missy Clarkson
35 The Next Great Proletarian Revolution Rob Taylor
30 If you Say Churchill, You’re Lying Neal Kansy
18 Sexy Kids: Could the Media Coverage of Jonbenet’s Murder be
Child Pornography in Canada? Erin Millar
32 Buying Your Love, One Word at a Time David Suzuki
49 You Say Party? We Say Party! A Suitable Title Carmen Papalia
32 Pyramid Lights Brandi Abele
i tumble and crude
i don’t know why
but they had to cut my mother’s belly open
to get me out
was i afraid?
of vaginas or winnipeg?
well i’m out now
if i could go back in
i’d take my 1981 Suzuki GS 650 motorcycle
because it’s good on gas and i look bad ass
and because i can always find parking
i tumble and crude
but we must keep moving
even when feet blister and out of shape and mcdonalds and sleep
and i forgot
Emily why is the truth always slant?
the truth is
i am un-refrigerated eggs
exploding microwave walls
same clothes day everyday
i eat brown bananas
take that brown banana
that banana wilting
out of the compost
pull it right out
i need a snack
We find ourselves
still quite unprepared,
and tumble the thing together, letting hurry and crudeness tell
the story better than fine work.
i always eat too much
it doesn’t matter if it’s uncle willy’s grade 7
or pizza hut lunch buffet until 2:30 saturday
i always eat to my throat
every morning i wake up
and every morning i wake up
it’s been so long since i was hungry
last time i was hungry i was being breast fed
and my mother put me down to answer the phone
so now i’m living in vancouver apartment
and there are native kids downstairs who want to beat me up
i’m 14 and i play roller hockey
you bullied me during recess and in alley streets
you took the Korean right out of me
so i learned how to fight on Barclay Street
i wish i knew how to fight
vancouver is red lights
it’s bum sweats
it’s fuck you
what the fuck
four way stop asshole
it’s the homeless and the homeless
and the homeless and we are homeless
it’s squeegee kids
wiping my window
do you have any spare change
c’mon on i’ll take anything
sorry dude i’ve got nothing
i don’t have any money
kick me in the nuts for five bucks
it’s tiny rat dogs
that have penetrated hand bags
i hope they poo in your purse
tiny rat dogs that poo in your purse
my father always told me that as soon as we moved into a house
with a yard
we’d get a dog
living in richmond suburb house
i’m 15 and i can’t tread water
Joe Lee Styles
you were in winnipeg first
you fought racist in bar nights with cornered beer bottle
swinging and swearing
not because you were afraid
but because that was your style
you are the last of the beats
you took on graveyard security jobs to become tough and fall in love
you fell in love
you fell in love with big Dana
you stood on your head and smoked cigarettes
you spent nights
you spent paycheque
in casino nights
desperate for a high stack
you left mother at minimum wage job
and your first born in cardboard box winter
you only came home with whiskey lungs and debt
the table was going and all you could do was follow
so now it’s 97 and you still lose
you pawn and lose
my first guitar
i was sleeping in bare bed alone as child
when you stole
while you bet
while i became a man
you drank like whiskey breath in lung
you still drive the night looking for your hand
i write these songs for you
but they don’t matter
why did you have to go
i can’t write this with out you
you left in grade 7 behind manoah steves elementary school
i was in detention
you were in detention
you told me about your neck on Venetian blind
you listened to the Jimi Hendrix experience
you couldn’t play the guitar as well as i did
you wouldn’t play the guitar as well as i did
you left and quit before we even started
your blonde hair and blue eyes
your big feet and
drinking tea like sophisticated
contact perforating shotgun wound to head
as a consequence of mouth
your father thinks of you still
your father still driving buses
to the red dragon and the white shark
what now buddy old chum chief?
i throw rocks at the red dragon
at his window
masturbating to illuminated celebrity screen
you didn’t make the cut
you were in the business of sinking ships
you know God is speaking to you through Kerouac
he has his forefinger pointed straight at you
go groan alone
go roll your bones
go though and be little
beneath my sight
but you’re so big
Big Dana my mother
never could receive
so she never gave
we just misunderstood
this family is rooms
never let out to play
i’m not home anymore mom
i’m in a punk band
on the road
a left turn
our only savior
devouring yellow dotted lines i grow stronger
closer to rest
i dream this highway winding through her veins
i drive until sunlight hits my knuckles
no one’s out there
the smell in the van is a shot gun
flies tornado around Ash’s angel face
world vision styles
donations accepted here
War and Peace has Steve at page 1036
we hear about each page after he finishes
i have an axe in my hand as i drive
i don’t know why
every city looks the same to ryan
every city is the back of his eye lids
no one’s out there
walked out of edmonton Canadian Tire with a fishing rod in both
walked out with fishing vest in Canadian Tire ottawa
fill and run on the 17 somewhere in ontario around the Superior
walking out with toronto fishing vest because ottawa vest is too
husky station homes
shower me in exchange for 107 dollars in gasoline
we order homelike food
always eating breakfast
i watch the waitress for a thousand years
i think of vancouver and my girl
i want her in truck stop showers
truck stop shower styles
but how is sex an option on the road
my last shower was Thunder Bay
and love is made or not made on the stage
and depending on how bad it was
depends on how much we drink
and it is always bad
pour it all down
because it’s free
because we’ve paid for it
Montreal (2 tourist wolf shirts)
St. Bruno (real poutine)
Kensington (border, customs and lying)
New York (hot garbage and fitty cent’s house)
Ohio (taco bell, throwing up, locking myself in trailer)
Chicago (clean streets man)
Canada (no more KFC buffets)
Allen Ginsberg I’m sorry
i saw the most beautiful mind this side of the Alex Fraser Bridge
destroyed by madness, starving for real, hysterical in bathroom
dragging his hands through triangles in carpet living rooms
through child hood, manhood
through Vietnam father Martha Stewart mom
contemplating systems theory and girls
i watched as he was eaten by his dog
swallowed by shark
being food for his mind
food for the betrayed
looking for patterns
in all encounters
ryan flowers is the most underrated of all mythical heroes
ryan flowers saved me summer 2001
he held out his hands and I fell through them
this was the way
we drove the suburb night
looking for local talent and coupons
to fix our hunger
for the good life and the life
whatever the life was
we needed it
we needed a coupon for it
we tried everything
kfc (spicy crunch)
bobs subs memphis blues (authentic southern barbeque)
pho viet kpxl
mcdonalds uncle ben’s rice
but all we found was full stomach and full
fat in and around the belly of our mind
we had to get full
so we ate our universe
with our magnificent stomachs
we ate for Neal Cassidy
we ate for Muhammad Ali
we ate Samuel L Jackson
we ate for Forest Gump
one of every burger on the menu at Mcdonald’s
i would not be here if I wasn’t saved
i’d be at the Gap paying 97 dollars and 86 cents
for brand new jeans that look used
i was saved by madness
by the mind of someone who was beat
he showed me burgers and babes
taught me the urge to be destroyed
he showed me the blank page
and how to read and write it
so now i’m talking in my own legitimacy
talking and moving in legitimacy
my habit humor hair
no rhetorical heightening
i’m talking to a friend
common and personal
confessed as actual
it’s the writer and the time
that makes me move
words and lots of them
one after the other
bouncing singing sexing eating licking your mom totting slugging
the quality of our existence is at stake
structure of life is intrinsic
will save us
poetry cannot be solely a measure of literary bad ass moves or
blah blah i know this word
but must be addressed as a fundamental inquiry
“how are you?”
from creative writing courses
run far far away and run
they are the homeless asking for your spare change
i believe now
i believe in making this immediate
reading me aloud
in your head
reading me aloud
because this is important
i believe in writers block
i can’t write without the voices
i believe in the blank page going
and all that white moving
i throw words at it
and if they catch
i’ll pick up the others later
when they matter
When Did I Stop
Wanting to be President?
Given that I wrote for a New York newspaper, and was blind on top of it, it came as no real surprise that I received a lot of e-mailed press
releases regarding recent legal victories in the ongoing battle for disabled rights. Lord knows I didn’t go looking for these things, but somehow
they always seemed to find their way to me. Somewhere along the line, my name must have been punched into someone’s “differently crippled”
Most of them I ignored, as most seemed to involve wheelchair ramps being installed at this or that restaurant chain, or hearing-impaired
grade school students getting some high-tech doo-dad or another. I was never much into the whole Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) business,
and I’ve had nothing but trouble with the assorted blind bureaucracies who’ve contacted me in the past.
Then one day I got another one of these e-mails and, for some reason, took a quick glance at the note attached to the press release. Then I
read it more carefully a second time, then a third. Here’s what it said:
American Council of the Blind
Sven Ludkvist, Esq. (Not his real name, by the way)
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
US. Department of Justice
Hi again, Jim. I am pleased to report another positive development on the disability rights enforcement front. Late last week, on behalf of the People of the
United States, the Justice Department secured a victory for racers and spectators with disabilities who sought access in accordance with federal law.
One by one, barriers to full participation continue to be torn down. As our momentum grows in strength, so does our ability to enhance our effectiveness in
making a difference in the lives of members of the disability community. Best of all, there are even more announcements on the way.
My warmest wishes to you, Jim. Do remember to stay in touch, and keep me posted on how you are doing. In the mean time, you take good care. --Sven
Below the note was a press release announcing that wheelchair ramps were being installed at a raceway in Alabama.
I initially assumed it was just another spam, but some quick research revealed that no, it wasn’t. It was completely legit. I was getting mail
from some bigwig at the Department of Justice. More than that, he was a bigwig who was being awfully chummy. Imagine that.
Now, given that it was legitimate, that this guy was real, many things about this letter confused me. Not only had I never heard of Sven—I had
no recollection of being on such friendly personal terms with anyone at DOJ, though I was admittedly relieved, in these paranoid days, that some
official over there apparently thought differently. Lord knows I’d given them plenty of reasons to feel otherwise.
But that was the least of my confoundments.
I thought about it for a moment and then composed a letter back to Mr. Ludkvist. Here’s what that one said:
Dear Mr. Ludkvist,
First of all, let me congratulate you on your continued and valiant efforts to make life a little easier for people across the country who, like me, have disabilities.
By all accounts, you are doing one heck of a job. So huzzah to you, I say!
But I’m afraid there has been some minor confusion somewhere along the line. Your recent notes refer to me as the “President of the American Council of the
While I am in fact blind, I’m afraid I’ve never heard of the American Council of the Blind. I mean, I may have at one time or another, but there are so many darn
sound alike blind organizations out there nowadays, I tend to lose track of them. And I can’t recall there ever being any reason why I would claim to be president
of such a thing either.
No, I’m afraid I just write stories for a little weekly newspaper here in Manhattan. I don’t think anyone has ever mistaken me for the president of anything. In fact,
I’m really kind of hoping I’m NOT the president of the ACB—can you imagine how much paperwork I’d have to catch up on at this point? A lot!
I do enjoy hearing of your successes, though. I just don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression.
Thanks. Hope all’s well by you, and keep up the swell work!
Not the President
American Council of the Blind
I sent the letter off to the Justice Department, and immediately began kicking myself. First of all, DOJ has not exactly been known in recent
years for their sense of humor. Sense of the absurd, maybe, but I don’t think anyone there has ever been referred to as, say, “jolly.” I began to
worry that something in the letter might be interpreted the wrong way. What if my lighthearted banter was taken as some kind of terrorist
threat? Last thing I needed right about now was a vacation in Gitmo for a couple comedy jokes.
While that fear passed pretty quickly, I still kept kicking myself. I mean, in someone’s eyes somewhere, I was the fucking President of a High
Powered and Well-Respected Civil Rights Organization! I mean, there’s got to be a ton of money in something like that, right? Yet I’d never
received a single paycheck! Not one penny! And even if it’s just one of those figurehead positions without any pay, still—there have got to be
government grants and the like available to someone running such a thing, wouldn’t you think? Big ones!
I’d blown another golden opportunity, like that time I turned down an offer to do voiceovers for adult diaper commercials. If I had put my
mind to it for at least a couple more minutes before sending off that note, I could’ve come up with something, some way to reap the benefits of a
good ol’ fashioned, true blue American government scam. But no, I took the idiot route.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I haven’t heard back from Mr. Ludkvist yet. But things move pretty slowly in Washington.
In the meantime, I keep listening to the news. And every time I hear about the security and accuracy of the government’s databases and “No
Fly” lists, every time it’s implied that the folks at the Justice Department are really in the know, I have to smile a little bit, remembering my brief
tenure as President.
The eyes never possessed lose
Their pigmenT bi-weekly
baThed in a sheeT for noT - i can
feel iT pulsaTing now.
This shard of a hearT missing
This accenTuaTed hair line
i am a shadow circumvenTing an
even greaTer shadow. i no longer
wanT her To be mine.
i eTernally enjoyed The noTion of
you previous lovers – caTasTrophic
myriads of Touch…
flurries of pavlovian flavors
The nighTs desire To sTand.
all The while you cluTching for
anyThing resembling Their
a doppelganger if you musT.
wiTh hair parTed To The righT
or perhaps some Type of slick
i Think abouT your lovers from
Time To Time when i wanT To
sTop myself from climaxing.
when you requesTed
i had no idea you were
To make love To
when i am honesT.
iT is really myself
he deserves beTTer Than
mingled wiTh sewaT
To be ursurped
each moring wiTh
The grave noTion of
he will be reminded—
living never promised To
much more Than This.
contined on p.22
“tHE tROUBLE wITH tiGERS 2 & 3”
For the complete adventures of the Sugar Bear visit our website @ www.memewaronline.com
Could the media coverage of JonBenet’s murder be
considered child pornography in Canada?
Images of a smiling little girl wearing lipstick and a cowboy hat
were on everyone’s TV screen again this August. A new suspect in the
1996 murder of six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey had been
found. John Mark Karr (middle name included) wasn’t smiling in the
photos they showed on news programs across the continent, and his
pale blue eyes were creepy.
He confessed to Thai police that he had drugged JonBenet, had sex
with her, and accidentally killed her afterwards. He said that he loved
her, that she was his “beauty queen.” The 24-hour news channels kept
us updated with all the relevant information about his flight to face
charges in the US: he drank French wine and champagne, and ate king
With great speed, Karr’s past was brought to light. He has had two
failed marriages, both to women under eighteen. One of them gave
birth to two stillborn babies named Innocence and Angel. Karr has a
past conviction for child pornography possession. He had spent most
of the last several years working with children, either in childcare or
as a teacher. A past landlord reported that Karr had bragged that he
was “like a wolf ” sexually and “liked little boys and girls.” We were
told how the guesthouse where Karr was arrested was in a Thai neighbourhood
known for its massage parlours that catered to sex tourists.
“The nine-story hotel offers rooms for as short as three-hour rentals,”
AP reported. Fox News’ John Kasich told us that “he’s a bad guy,” as
though he needed to be so blunt.
But the confession didn’t agree with the forensic evidence which
had been paraded across the TV screen. There had been injuries to the
six year-old’s vagina, but no semen. There had been no drugs in her
system. Her death was no accident. A former prosecutor is quoted as
saying, “It’s hard to imagine a more intentional, deliberate murder than
hitting a little girl in the head so hard that she had almost a foot-long
fracture in her skull and then deliberately fashioning a garrotte to twist
until it buries in her neck and slowly stops her breathing.”
Every time we were told another detail about her bloody underwear,
JonBenet’s painted, smiling face was in a box over the newscaster’s
shoulder. Why were the details of sexual violence against a child
forever coupled with her image? Was extensively covering the story
in the interest of public good? Or was it nothing more than taboo
entertainment, rendered permissible by its posture of self-righteous
The Broad Strokes of Kiddie Porn Law
Canada’s child pornography law consists of very vague language
that bans much more than many people believe is necessary. In addition
to visual depictions of actual children being harmed, it includes
“any written material or visual representation that advocates or counsels
sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years,” according
to the current code. In other words, anything (whether it be
photographs of real children, drawings, or written fictional fantasies)
that depicts or encourages sexual activity with a person under eighteen
can be considered child pornography. According to this definition, the
JonBenet coverage begins to appear suspiciously like kiddie porn.
Many scenarios can fall under this broad-stroke law. In an interview,
Stan Persky, who co-authored On Kiddie Porn (2001), described
one example of a situation in which a legal act becomes illegal under
the law: “Two people between the ages of 14 and 18 can have sex with
each other and there is no law against that. But if they make a picture of
it, it can become child pornography and that doesn’t make sense.”
Although this example may seem far-fetched, there is a history of
overzealous use of laws like this one that limits freedoms, according
to Micheal Vonn, policy director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.
“There were families in Canada that were prosecuted under
the child pornography provisions of the criminal code for taking
pictures of their babies in bathtubs,” she said. “They lost their houses
defending themselves in court and will never get their reputations
back again and have gone through an absolute unmitigated horror
show.” The cases Vonn refers to made it
all the way to the Supreme Court before
Chief Justice Beverly MacLaughlin “clarified
for the country that taking a picture of
your baby in the bathtub was okay.”
If a picture two teenagers take of themselves
having perfectly legal sex and a photo
of a bathing baby taken by loving parents
can both be considered child pornography,
it seems possible that even the media coverage
of JonBenet’s murder could be considered
depicting or encouraging sex with
minors. This means that, technically speaking,
the media’s extensive coverage of this
horrible crime and judgment of Karr for
his alleged sex crime could be considered
to be a sex crime itself. Is a law that is vague
enough to create such absurd scenarios a
What Is “Harm” Anyway?
The intent behind child pornography laws is, of course, simply
to protect children. As Persky put it: “Ninety-nine percent of Canadians
agree that child pornography is a terrible thing and that we
ought to do everything we can to prevent it.”
Hon. Paul Harold Macklin described that the intent was “mainly
the protection of children against abuse, neglect, and exploitation”
in his introduction to a 2005 amendment to the law that added the
“public good” defense to prevent child pornographers from defending
their work as having literary merit.
Although both men agree that harming children is something to
families in Canada
under the child
provisions of the
criminal code for
of their babies
be prevented, this is where the similarity in their perspectives ends.
Civil libertarians, including Persky, believe that creating laws to prevent
“encouraging” someone to potentially do something undesirable,
is dangerously close to thought-control. If we are concerned
with material that encourages bad actions, we also need to look at violent
cartoons, comic books, and video games. However, according
to civil libertarians, this is a step that unreasonably infringes on our
rights to freedom of expression and thought.
We need to ask ourselves what we really
consider “harm,” said Vonn. She asked us to
“imagine the artists and families and people
along the way […] who have been harmed by
the overzealousness of crown prosecutors and
police looking to, obviously with good motives,
prevent harm for children.” She questioned
whether the potential harm that we are preventing
against children is worth the harm caused by
limiting freedom of expression.
Was the recent media frenzy that labeled
Karr a pedophile guilty of murder in the interests
of the public good? Or did it actually cause
unwarranted harm? Upon Karr’s arrest, many
media sources discussed apologizing to the
Ramsey family for initially pointing the finger at
them. However, by conclusively saying that the
Ramseys are innocent of the murder, the media
is effectively conclusively judging Karr as guilty.
This is the very thing that they feel compelled to
apologize to the Ramseys for. The trial by media
is surely causing harm, both to the Ramsey and Karr families as well
as to the investigation. And, of course, the question remains: are we,
the audience, suffering any harm from extensively subjecting ourselves
to this story of sexual violence?
Soon after the story broke, DNA evidence showed that Karr
didn’t commit the crimes he confessed to. He was simply relating
his sick fantasies. Talking about fictional fantasies of sex with minors
isn’t illegal, but writing them down is. The closest thing to a sex
crime here was committed by the media, who repeated Karr’s words
in print. A law that defines kiddie porn in such a way is a law that
Canadians should consider rethinking.
You are What You Eat:
Trends in Consumer Efficiency
“I feel badly about what I’ve done with young people. I was the happy face on something that was horrendous.”
—Geoffrey Giuliano, former Ronald McDonald actor who later became a vegetarian
Throughout history, consumers have looked for ways to make their
lives easier and more efficient. Since every human being must consume
food, it is only natural that this demand for efficiency has made
an impact on the way we eat. This desire for efficiency has provoked an
increase in the amount of food being consumed away from the home,
including fast food and full service restaurants, and in the form of
home meal replacements (HMRs) found at supermarkets. Unfortunately,
meals that are not prepared at home are almost always found to
be lower in nutritional content and quality than meals which are prepared
at home. Even with our increased awareness of healthy eating,
consumers continue to fall prey to the allure of the fast food industry.
Regardless of the known health consequences and despite the fact that
consumers are well aware of the benefits of eating healthy and leading
healthier lifestyles, there will always be a simpler and faster alternative:
The total expenditure on meals eaten away from home has nearly
doubled in the last ten years. In 1992 the total away-from-home spending
by North American consumers was $263 billion, while in 2002 the
total amount was nearly $415 billion. 1 When viewing the percentage
of the total food expenditure of the average North American household,
we see that in 1970, 26% of the expenditure was spent on eating
out, while in 1996 this number increased to 39%. 2 The United States
alone spent nearly $500 billion on eating out in 2005, accounting for
48.5% of their total food expenditure. 3 Studies continuously show that
consumers are spending less on ingredients to prepare meals and more
on meals prepared outside of their home, in restaurants or supermarkets.
But why such an increase in dining out? Possibly because of the
infatuation with the “hectic lifestyle” of the modern consumer, timesaving
products are becoming more and more in demand. In response
to this demand, fast food services are not only increasing their overall
presence in urban life by multiplying the number of vendors, but fast
food corporations are locating their stores in places where people are
already occupied by other activities, such as shopping or working. For
McDonald’s restaurants this is a common occurrence: “McDonald’s
wants to have a site wherever people live, work, shop, play, or gather”. 4
When looking at the figures, the results are startling; twenty years ago
there were 9000 McDonald’s in 44 of the world’s countries - now, this
number has jumped to over 31,000 McDonald’s worldwide, occupying
119 countries and spanning six continents. 5 These restaurants are not
just limited to wealthy, industrialized countries; in fact, even though
the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the United States is far larger
than anywhere else in the world, the overall growth rate of the restaurant
chain is much greater in developing nations. Currently, over 1600
restaurants grace the cities of Latin America – as opposed to the mere
100 McDonald’s that existed in Latin America in the early 1980s. 6
The growth of the chain can be attributed to today’s busy society,
where people do not have the time to prepare meals, or in some cases,
may not even know the simple steps involved in cooking one. Consumers
want to be able to prepare a meal at home that doesn’t require
a lot of ingredients or extra work, or they want food that can be picked
up fast and brought home. 7 From this trend, a term has evolved to
coincide with the progressive laziness of today’s society: McDonaldization.
This concept refers to the “ways in which the principles of the
fast-food restaurant operate in an increasingly wide array of social settings
(such as the work place, higher education, and health care)”. 8 In
this type of a society, jobs require little or no skill, and minimal think-
ing. The consumer has become a product of the fast food industry and
the convenience that is associated with it.
Supermarkets and convenience stores are now also selling products
that are more efficient for the consumer. These goods come in the
form of pre-cut and pre-washed fruits and vegetables, and pre-cooked,
ready-to-eat foods, also known as HMRs. These meals resemble homecooked
meals while remaining convenient and affordable, and are very
similar to fast food. But grocery stores are not just changing their
products, they are also changing the physical layout of their stores.
Each department is laid out for easy access to a specific section (i.e.
the meat or vegetable department) without having to walk through
each of the other departments. 9 Much like the “one-stop shopping appeal”
that superstores such as Walmart and Costco offer, supermarket
consumers are able to shop for everything they need at one convenient
location. Likewise, grocery stores are beginning to sell not only food
products but also general merchandise, including household items and
clothing. 10 Even more so, they are incorporating banks, florists, video
rental, and pharmacies into their designs. 11 In the near future, there
may no longer be a need to do one’s shopping at more than one location.
As the well known phrase goes, “you are what you eat” – it is ultimately
the consumer who decides what is and what isn’t important in
their diets. Do they choose the more efficient path of fast food or the
more nutritional path of preparing foods at home? Even with consumers’
increased awareness of healthy eating and the countless statistics
showing the impacts of fast food on the environment and a person’s
health, eating foods away from home is still a large part of the average
consumer’s diet. If society played a larger role in promoting healthy
eating, improved diets may actually save billions of dollars each year in
health care costs, premature deaths and missed work. 12 Sadly, if the
fast paced life of the 21st century consumer continues on its current
path without the proper education, the trend of fast foods and prepared
meals will inevitably continue.
2 Guthrie 1
4 Jekanowski, 11
6 Ghezán 400
7 Kinsey 1187
8 Zayani 628
9 Kinsey 1189
10 Clauson 13
11 Kinsey 1189
12 Guthrie 2
Clauson, Annette, and Alden Manchester. “1994 spending for food away from home
outpaces food at home.” Food Review. 18 (1995): 12-16.
Ghezán, Graciela, et al. “Impact of Supermarkets and Fast-Food Chains on
Horticulture Supply Chains in Argentina.” Development Policy Review. 20
Guthrie, Joanne, et al. “Away-From-Home Foods Increasingly Important to Quality of
American Diet.” Agriculture Information Bulletin. 749 (1999): 1-22.
Jekanowski, Mark. “Causes and Consequences of Fast Food Sales Growth.” Food
Review. (1999): 11-16.
Kinsey, Jean, and Ben Senauer. “Consumer Trends and Changing Food Retailing
Formats.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 78 (1996):
McDonald’s Website. 26 July 2006 .
Stewart, Hayden., et al. “The Demand for Food Away from Home: Full-service or Fast
Food?” Agricultural Economic Report. 829 (2004): 1-20.
United States Department of Agriculture. “Food CPI, Prices and Expenditures: Food
Away From Home as a Share of Food Expenditures.” Total Expenditures.
United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 9
Zayani, Mohamed. “The McDonaldization of Society: An Investigation into the
Changing Character of Contemporary Social Life.” Criticism. (1997):
...continued from p.15
for some reason you are noT
a child any longer
and This appears To presenT
i have never paid renT
now ThaT The walls appear
To be The proper color.
we have very liTTle lefT
To live abouT.
continued on p. 30
So rare there is nothing left
to do but shoot it and bring it in
for further inspection in the name of
science, Chinese medicine, Canadian
Conservation officials. Crucified on the crosshairs
of a rifle, rumour has it such beasts exist
north of Loch Ness, Sasquatch, the Lord God
Bird recently resurrected on closed-circuit
camera in the Arkansan woods. Good
money goes to bagging less exclusive species
for gallbladders, beaks, talons and tusks,
ground down to a dust and used to treat
impotency, schizophrenia, homosexuality,
or displayed on a mantle as a sign of power,
but ideas like this one rarely walk right
out of that translucent arctic white,
like a wayward ghost of the mind into
the waiting weight of the sights, where
the bullet makes no distinction between
mundane and magical: what was living
and can be proven with a shot to the sternum.
A surprise fare. The cab on its way
from here to there—we’ll call it the middle
of nowhere, meaning north of anywhere
in particular—we’ll call it a night
like the cabbie might have had he not been out
there in the first place, had he not been
minding his business, business being
to ferry from one locale to another, other
part of town, if you could call it that,
to be fair, more a clutch of homes and streets,
separated by what is, to most minds,
empty space—precisely the place the cabbie was
paid to navigate—So it was then,
moon smothered under cloud-cover, when
to turn off the headlights is to disappear
altogether to the naked eye, to dematerialize
into nowhere, as it were, to be neither,
nothing, nada—When out of the blueblack
envelope of evening, a bear
barreled like a bad mood, like terror
into the taxi’s sideview
Trip a switch somewhere and there he is
like flame on a matchstick or a coin
tricked from behind the ear: a deer,
or the ideogram for a deer, blazing
in the lowlight of your evening garden,
a vision foreboding the end of your roses
or something colder, a backhanded compliment
on your efforts to rope wilderness, the fence
of freeway that keeps predators
in check around the village, your own hunger
to encounter the edge of another
dimension and be stopped in your tracks,
caught staring at a creature who materialized
before your very eyes and now stares back.
A stowaway in southern freight,
space junk, coagulated fall-out
from some former Soviet state,
or a wingnut even off a CIA spymachine,
the wasp ambles idly
in the shale as if trying to piece it
together again: the endless papers
of rock, all that cold geological redtape,
requiring age, weather patterns,
ecological history. While in Iqaluit
no word will surface to stamp
the winged visitor with a name.
If You Say Churchill,
If you could meet any historical figure, dead or alive, who would it be?
Most people say Einstein or Ghandi or some stuff like that. I tell you who I’d meet. It’d be Al Baxter. Don’t recognize the name? You’re
probably trying to figure out what he accomplished. Nothing. Al Baxter is a useless piece of crap who never did one worthwhile thing his whole
So, why do I want to meet him? Because he friggin’ owes me 200 friggin’ bucks, that’s why! Yeah, that’s right. He’s a guy that sublet my place
for a couple months ‘bout 4 years ago. He moves out, says he’ll mail a cheque for the 200 bucks he still owes me. What does this loser do? He
writes no cheque, which he puts in no envelope, which he doesn’t mail. I should know, I check my mailbox. I’m not one of those people, you
know the kind, they don’t check their mail. I do. I know what’s what. So I’d love to meet this guy Al Baxter and ask him “Hey! Where’s my 200
bucks? What did you do, stick your ass in a microwave?”
Yeah, yeah, I know Einstein and Ghandi did some pretty amazing stuff, but unless they can tell me how to find Al Baxter, I’m not interested.
Don’t get me wrong, Ghandi and Einey are great guys and if they have 200 bucks they wanna give me, they can call me anytime.Yeah, their
thoughts on the universe and world peace might be interesting, but I wanna know Baxter’s thoughts on why he screwed me on my 200 bucks. I
swear, I’d like to get civilly disobedient on his ass. Oh, and Napoleon, don’t think I’ve forgotten about that weed whacker you borrowed.
...continued from p.23
The senseis of your youTh have
led us asTray
The nervous sysTem is noT
buT insTead a five poinTed
wiTh The dojo in ruins.
who buT me
To defend This lack
parading as a hearT-
These lone six hundred years
mosTly of no inTeresT.
see These idle ThreaTs as
To connecT The poinTs of some
habiTually and frighTened.
Buying Your Love,
One Word at a Time
May 26, 2006
When words get in the way of your agenda, what do you do? You change the words, of course. Even if you have to make up new ones.
It’s part of what communications strategists call “framing” - the way they present messages to the public to make them more palatable. And it’s
become a big part of how the new Conservative government plans to win you over.
Think tax relief, not tax cuts. Think climate change, not global warming. Think responsible development, not sustainable development. These
words and phases are not casual alterations. They are deliberate, tested and designed to sway public opinion. And they work.
Recently, Prime Minister Harper invited American pollster and political strategist Frank Luntz for a visit. It was a telling move, given Mr.
Luntz’s impact on discourse in the United States. In fact, Mr. Luntz’s efforts have been credited in part for President Bush’s re-election. While
Democratic candidate John Kerry should have had a field day with Mr. Bush’s poor economic, environmental and military leadership records,
Kerry blathered on in the language of specialists, leaving the public cold. Meanwhile, George W. talked the plain language of the people, using Mr.
Luntz’s carefully crafted words and phrases, and repeating them over and over until they became accepted as the norm.
Like Canada’s Conservatives, the Republicans were perceived as uninterested, even hostile, to environmental conservation. Mr. Luntz helped
reverse that perception by changing the language and the way Republicans talked about the environment. These changes made it seem as though
Republicans were indeed concerned about the environment and were presenting solutions that protected nature, even though their policies often
did the exact opposite. Programs to increase logging became “healthy forests” projects. Relaxed air pollution rules became “clear skies” initiatives.
Under Mr. Luntz’s tutelage, it comes as no surprise now in Canada to be hearing talk by the Conservatives of a “clean air act” and a “made in
Canada” plan instead of the Kyoto Protocol. This last phrase, used to describe the Conservative’s upcoming and yet unseen climate change plan, is
a classic piece of spin. The name implies that whatever came before it was made outside of Canada and is therefore foreign and scary.
In fact, the previous government’s plan - which Mr. Harper has systematically eliminated, including such things as scrapping the Energuide
program, which provided rebates for homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient (thereby saving money and reducing emissions)
- was also made in Canada. And Kyoto itself contains a wide variety of measures demanded by Canada to make it easier for us to meet our targets
and reduce global warming.
Then again, you won’t hear Mr. Harper talking about global warming
in any case. When he mentions the issue, which is rarely, he sticks
to “climate change” - the specialist’s term. Why? Simple, because it isn’t
scary. It takes the disturbing idea of an entire planet heating up and turns
it into something that sounds more like a change of seasons.
Is Mr. Harper lying by using these terms? No, but he’s playing on the
fact that Canadians don’t have the time to figure out what they mean.
The words sound good. They sound like something positive. After all,
who doesn’t want to be responsible and clean? Who doesn’t want something
that’s been made in Canada?
Mr. Harper is banking on the public not figuring out what these
things really mean until after the next election - where the possibility
of a majority government looms tantalizingly within reach. So close, in
fact, that the prime minister must be feeling like - well, I don’t know the
word, but I’m sure Mr. Luntz will help him make one up.
A Chorus Line
Umbrellas sprout from heads
along gridded sidewalks
of the business district,
grey and black banners of
our muted indistinction.
They increase our diameter,
cripple our peripheral;
Two rather than six shuffle
side by side in leaden haze.
Those conscious raise theirs
through crosswalks like
a jumble of convex steps
above us, leading to
traffic lights and ruffled crows.
I hope we break out in song
flouncing in perfect choreography
sashaying across the streets
soaked through our suits
wet hair clinging
jazz hands top hats but
instead we lumber listlessly
to jobs that don’t fit.
The Next Great
It will be lead by Dilbert.
He will begin at his office by
tossing the pointy-haired boss out the window
and, swinging a letter opener in the air,
declaring the seventeenth floor a workers’ paradise.
He will then slash through the bottom of panel four
dropping on to Snoopy’s dog house, where,
through a broad-based leafleting campaign,
he will whip the Peanuts into a revolutionary fervour
ousting Charlie Brown’s cruel canine food rations
and Lucy’s abusive monopoly on psychiatric consultations.
The uprising will spread across page D12.
The members of the Family Circus will break from their coffee-mug prison
and rally with Calvin and Hobbes
and Marx and Engels
on the spacious lawns of Capitol Hill
that lie nestled in the upper right hand corner
of Doonesbury’s third panel.
Finally, the funny page revolutionaries
will tear down all the borders and titles and by-lines
and with the pieces build one large panel
in which they will gather
chanting and dancing
throwing their three-fingered fists in the air.
And we will chuckle to ourselves
folding them up and sliding them
into our purses and overcoats
as we squeeze into the subway train,
the winter chill clinging to our ears and socks.
We’ll pull our collars up to the cold
smudging new wardrobes with the dark ink of the revolution
and cursing our misfortune,
wondering what on earth we will wear to work tomorrow.
Fear in Lebanon?:
The Truths of my Experience in Beirut
Amanda C. Lee
From the time I first took an interest in studying the Middle East,
people have looked at me in either a baffled or bemused manner. Baffled
because according to the politics of ethnicity in the US, shouldn’t I
perhaps be more interested in China or Japan? Bemused is the reaction
mainly saved for when I’m in the Middle East. What is this Japaneselooking
American girl doing here, speaking Egyptian Arabic with a
5-year-old’s vocabulary? Why does she of all people want to ask questions
about young people’s sexual health?
Surprisingly, nobody shirked in horror or threatened me with fatwas,
but in fact, readily opened up to discuss the otherwise taboo subject.
Once again, the reaction I normally bank on from Middle Easterners
came through, one of hospitality, ease, and ultimately safety.
Yes, safety. Although I realize how oxymoronic that must sound
given my recent unexpected departure from Lebanon.
I went to Beirut in June to conduct research for my MSc dissertation,
to examine the issues of sexual and reproductive health for Lebanese
young people. The next question that usually pops into people’s
minds is: “why Lebanon?” Even the Lebanese I interviewed asked me
this question, but more out of a ‘why the hell?’ sense than any other.
It was logistics and practicality more than anything else. My contacts
came together at the right time. Language was not going to be
a major issue since most of the population speaks Arabic, French and
English. And Lebanon is a small country, so it seemed feasible to tackle
my research in the time allotted.
Also, given the cooperative nature of the programs I read about
in my preliminary research, I knew contacts in one program would
open up access to other contacts elsewhere. As is true for many things
in the Middle East, networking is key. In Beirut especially, everyone
knows everyone in one context or another. This wasn’t always a beneficial
phenomenon, but it did provide a certain local flavour and detail
to my research.
I translated these local details into the openness and pride with
which those I interviewed spoke about their work. These were not foreign
Non-government Organization (NGO) staff, but actual Lebanese
program managers and directors whose familiarity with the complexities
of their culture and society was often in conflict with international
funders’ agendas. Yet with their self-awareness and sensibility they
would develop their own ways towards providing effective programming
for young people.
This was how I was introduced to Lebanon rebuilding herself, a
country coming out of a protracted civil war with lessons learned.
This sense of excited renewal and optimism appeared on the face of
nearly every person I met. Even in the architecture of Beirut with the
bullet-riddled relics of the civil war standing next to restored traditional
houses with their triple-arched windows, with building cranes
merging with towering glass office buildings and hotels adorning the
Corniche - this was a city bursting with new energy. As I confirmed to
a friend, construction was definitely a booming business in Beirut.
Unfortunately, it still will be once the aftermath of this current assault
is assessed. Once we can say we have reached the aftermath.
Upon completing the majority of my research in the wake of the
bombings (one missed interview due to the evacuation of the UN
building), I returned from Beirut with a sense of irrelevancy to my dissertation.
Even the title of it had to be changed because I was no longer
looking at a post-conflict population of adolescents in post-conflict
Lebanon. They were now a conflict-ridden and internally displaced
demographic with new needs and issues to address.
I did attempt to contact a couple of my interviewees to ask the
preliminary question of ‘what now?’ I have yet to receive a response,
but I imagine that concerns include the essentials: food, clothing and
housing. And then perhaps schooling. Oh, and perhaps that small problem
of unexploded cluster bombs down the street. What priority does
sexual health have in an environment like this?
And yet, it can be of particularly important relevance. People tend
to exhibit higher risk behaviour, particularly adolescents, during times
of conflict. I don’t want to imply a rampant STI (sexually transmitted
infections) outbreak is about to happen, but it’s best not to ignore the
fact that human nature enacts in strange ways when the physical environment
causes panic and instability.
Further, Lebanon has one of the highest ages of first marriage in the
Middle Eastern and North African region. On average, Women marry
at 27 years of age and men marry at 31 (UNFPA). This phenomenon
means there’s a wider space of time during which ‘things’ can happen.
I certainly don’t think any of the Lebanese young people I witnessed
were card-carrying, ring-bearing abstinence pledgers. While there may
not be a direct translation for ‘hanky panky’ in Arabic, kids will be kids
wherever they are.
The ways in which their sexuality displayed itself were sometimes
enough to make me blush with girls squeezed into body-hugging
clothes and boys equally feeling the pressure to ‘look the look.’ The
public health officials I spoke with were not in denial about the possible
prevalence of premarital sex, but they realized the challenges of
approaching not only young people, but also their communities at large
on this topic.
In the national political context, these issues become even further
complicated. Lebanon has not had a census since the 1950s (or even
since the 1930s depending on which source is quoted) because to know
the exact numbers within each of the 18 different religious sects would
lead to political suicide for some.
It’s also hard to ignore that nearly
20 years of civil war was caused
by tearing apart the delicate balance
between these sects.
While I’m not privy to completely
understanding and demarcating
the underlying sectarianism
of Lebanese society, I
can see its effects in the incapacitated
government and in the selfblame
felt by some Lebanese for
not being more aware of what
was happening within their own
borders. I can see its effects in
their fear of rekindling of civil
war divisions and in the concern
of which areas would be hit first
once all the foreigners had evacuated.
We hear its effects in the
speech of Nasrallah when he says
he didn’t think the kidnappings
would plunge the whole country into conflict. We see it in the strategic
placement of Hezbollah flags throughout the country, yet this reaches
even beyond Lebanon’s borders.
While external bombardment and internal divides were on the
minds of the Lebanese, my family and friends were concerned about
my safety and capacity to leave. As an American passport holder, I
had no options by which to depart outside of holding out hope that
the Israeli army would stop creating potholes in the Beirut airport’s
runways. Syrian visas were only possible from the Syrian consulate in
the US (how handy!) and the only other bordering country is, well,
Despite warnings against making hasty decisions in a presumably
hostile, anti-American environment, I ultimately crossed into Syria
once I’d heard they were allowing US citizens passage without prearranged
visas. Once again that reassuring feeling of ease and safety followed
me through to this decision. For a country in cahoots with the
‘axis of evil,’ Syria certainly wasn’t acting like the ‘baddie’ the current
US administration attempted to perpetuate (although Syrian presi
dent Bashar al-Asad’s moustache is a bit Hiter-like in my opinion). My
greater fear would’ve been being trapped for up to ten hours on a boat
filled with hysterical countrymen.
Terror begets terror, but that’s the last thing I felt as I strong-armed
my way through the chaotic Syrian border, crossed and wandered the
streets of Damascus where the flags of the World Cup football teams
were being replaced by those of Hezbollah. It’s also not what I felt as
my Syrian airline agent told me they were open even on Fridays to
handle the influx of foreigners and Lebanese displaced by the assault
occurring next door.
Of equal note is the fact that very few Western media outlets or
diplomats discuss the terrorizing force the Israeli military placed on
the Lebanese people. Yet I find the individuals I come into contact with
in the Middle East to be the least paranoid or fearful. I think in part
because they’re all treated as suspects. They’ve been through the worst
in realizing they’re feared or deemed suspect by others. My Middle
Eastern friends take these attitudes in stride for two reasons: hoping
that one day people will learn and because they simply see it as igno-
rance. Ignorance can be fixed. If people are willing.
When the Fox news correspondent asked me if I was afraid to be in
central Beirut (I was apparently one of few Americans she could still
find in the immediate vicinity), I didn’t know how to answer. I knew
my hesitation implied ‘no’ and that didn’t correlate with the American
media’s image of the Middle East. It also wouldn’t have been fitting to
say the most terrorizing country in the region is in fact Israel, yet that’s
also where the most fearful and paranoid population lives. Funny how
that happens to a country that doesn’t care to understand its neighbours
or seemingly know how to act in a neighbourly fashion.
Instead, perhaps the news correspondent should have asked about
feeling powerless, faithless in the competency of my own government
to handle this situation appropriately. But perhaps that was too complex
of a sound bite for the evening news.
I could sense the US administration knew something more (and nobody
perhaps doubted the carte blanche they would provide to Israel in
this most recent offensive) when I visited the embassy in Beirut. They
were only having citizens fill out
their registration forms while
still carrying out full consular duties
to the Lebanese, from green
cards to non-immigrant visas.
There was no sense of panic. Yet
there was also no sense of needing
to keep people apprised of
the situation. The lackadaisical
attitude with which my queries
were met made me think they
knew something I didn’t and left
me with an unsettling sense of
security. They were tight-lipped,
keeping ignorant those who
didn’t need to know anything
What I despise the most is
the attitude I know I’m subject
to, i.e. ‘why does none of this
surprise me?’ The US provided
its arsenal to Israel to continue
its offensive; ignored UN requests to provide safe
passage for aid and for escaping Lebanese; turned a
blatant blind eye on humanitarian law; used excessive
force which supposedly only targeted Hezbollah
strongholds, yet had body counts that painted
a very different picture; gave a simple ‘slap on the
wrist’ to Israel which basically said ‘don’t do that
again, but if you do it’s okay.’ And the list of frustrating
disgust goes on and on.
None of these are surprises, but all parties
involved, outraged and witnessing the above, are
castrated of any ability to influence or change the
course of events. This is what makes me lose faith
that there will ever be peace in the Middle East,
or at least not any peace designed by those actually
living in the Middle East, because it is being
apportioned out via plans that very few actually
are actually privy to, but from which we can all
too readily guess who it is being orchestrated by. A
lack of transparency accompanied by a full view of
the players involved.
The rebirth of Lebanon has been aborted.
While I believe in the resilience of the Lebanese
people and their capacity to rebuild their
country yet again, who am I to say that? And my
high regard for their character shouldn’t serve as
compensation for the onslaught that Lebanon has
endured, for the imposition of fear on yet another
I’ve apparently taken on a new identity since
my return from Beirut. Wael, one of my impromptu
hosts when the assault began, told me I
was Lebanese. Ultimately, what I think he means
by this is that we share an understanding and sentimentality
(or lack thereof) about the situation and
about the Lebanese. The greatest efforts should be
made towards humanizing and I think that’s where
recovery in the Middle East needs to begin.
Photograph by Brandi Abelle
Two Cheap Blazers
and No Band to Interview!:
Backpacking After You Say Party! We Say Die!
By Elliott Lummin
London – May 23, 2006
When I thought of going to see You Say Party! We Say Die! (YSP!) in
London, I pictured very bored British patrons, numbering maybe six
or seven, tiredly sipping beer at the back of the bar while Carmen and
I belted lyrics back at the band on stage. Nothing going on here. Just
some Canadian band and some degenerates that seem to know them.
Instead, it’s an hour before the show and we find ourselves in a “queue”
outside Madame JoJo’s (historical brothel turned punk club) in Soho.
“Wow. Uh. Who’re you here to see?” I ask the girl ahead of us.
“YSP!” The answer is quick, as if it were Grade 1 arithmetic. “They’re
“You’re not serious. You actually know them?”
“Oh ya. They’re a Canadian band that’s been getting some good play
on the radio lately.”
I give a bewildered look to Carmen. No fucking way. Suddenly, the
interview we have scheduled with them in Dublin is no longer on the
same level. It’s not fledgling magazine meets Canadian band struggling
to make it in Europe. They’re already a success.
These feelings of inadequacy are not put to rest once we’re in the
club. We make it in time to catch the last opening act and oddly enough
the voice, the lyrics, and the Indie pinup girl vocalist are all familiar.
More than familiar. A taste of home.
“Holy shit. Is that Metric?”
“Oh my god. Metric is opening for YSP! – that’s so backwards.”
Energy levels go from 0 to 100 at this realization and I sing along
with the girl I’ve dreamed of saving from post-punk depression, “Dead
disco, dead funk, dead rock’n’roll!” Then I look around. The Brits are
having none of it. Evidently, music appreciation involves only listening
here. No physical response.
I believe it for a time; the Brits are just uptight. But, my theory is
dashed when YSP! takes the stage.
“What the hell? They’re actually moving now.”
“Maybe the beer is kicking in?” Carmen suggests.
Although tired from exerting ourselves to Metric, we rise. We can
actually dance more comfortably now that the Brits have deemed it
socially acceptable. I sigh, now having to fight for a spot by the stage.
YSP! has what it takes to get the British moving. This is the group we have
to interview in less than a month and we don’t even have any questions
down on paper yet.
Manchester – May 25, 2006
We are in Manchester. So is YSP!. They’re even playing a show at High
Voltage, but we need to get our act together and actually come up with
some semblance of a plan. This morning we picked up the largest music
magazine in the United Kingdom: NME (New Musical Express). Guess who
has a review of their album featured?
We’ve got to stay calm, professional. Carmen has expressed some
concerns about this.
“We’re recording their responses with an iPod and this thing that plugs
into it. They’re going to laugh at us,” he said.
Face down in the pillow of my hostel bunk, I wasn’t very responsive.
After all, there are other problems. Like how we’re going to look.
Manchester has a lot of vintage shops; maybe we can pick up some
cheap blazers. They’re so going to wrinkle in our packs.
Newcastle – May 28, 2006
We’ve missed the Hi-Fi Festival and another chance to snoop on
the band. They’re still getting press in NME.
We need to write up some basic questions, but we’re fucked. We
haven’t got access to a computer here, which means we’ll have to
wait until we get to Ireland. Our buddy, Mark, has a computer at his
place in Bray, but that’s two days before
the show. We don’t even know
what to ask. They’re political right?
Maybe we can work that angle.
Dublin – June 7, 2006
Temple Bar. Nightlife central
in Dublin. We’re stuck outside The
Hub with a loose list of questions,
two cheap blazers, and no band to
interview. Evidently, the bouncer
hasn’t heard that we’re coming.
Fortunately, Becky appears at
the door and she takes us to the
back to meet the rest of the band.
Carmen and I consider dropping to
our knees Wayne and Garth style.
Truly, we are not worthy. But, the
iPod goes on without any laughter
from the band. In fact, they...
Becky Ninkovic - voice
Krista Loewen - keys
Derek Adam - guitar
Stephen O’shea - bass
Bruce (borrowed from Fun 100) – former drummer
…mention the iPod is cool and the interview gets underway.
Memewar: You’ve been described as ‘post punk,’ ‘new
wave,’ and ‘robo riot disco.’ Who influenced you toward
Becky: Alvin and the Chipmunks!
Becky: The Chipettes too. Britney.
Bruce: They never even did any punk covers.
M: You’re a band that claims you’ll play anytime, anywhere.
Krista: No, no.
M: You don’t like this policy?
Krista: We used to.
Steve: When Derek joined the band he coined this phrase for us. Because
at that time, we were playing anywhere, anytime, anything. But
then, this guy interviewed us and said: “So would you play at Hitler’s
birthday party?” That’s it. We were done. But we definitely like to play
all kinds of gigs, all ages.
Becky: Like playing kids’ birthday parties and basement shows.
M: Any really strange shows?
Steve: We’ve played a lot of birthdays. One all the way out in Hope
Bruce: We played a show in Abbotsford with Joey, these forty-year-olds
who played Tom Petty covers.
M: These birthday shows, how would you book something
Krista: Well, we played an all ages show at the Ukrainian hall in Vancouver
and this kid just asked us jokingly to play his birthday. But we were
like, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it.’
Steve: Our attitude is just ask us and we’ll probably do it.
M (Carmen and Elliott in unison): So, yeah, we’re having a
release party for the next magazine.
Steve: Time and place?
M: October 19th at the Marine Club.
Steve: Aw, we’re probably on tour. We’ll be playing with Thunderbirds
M: That’s about when you’re releasing the Fall EP, right?
Becky: Yeah. Bummer.
M: In terms of promoting, how have you found things here
in Europe? We’ve found that people handing out flyers here
are a lot more aggressive. There just seems to be a lot more
music, a lot more artists that wouldn’t get the time of day
S: You walk down Granville on any given night? They’re always handing
M: Granville Street, for sure. But, promotions are everywhere
Steve: Yeah, the infrastructure here in the UK and Europe is impressive.
Becky: They have a totally different advertising system.
Steve: We played Berlin and we were told that they weren’t able to
put up posters, because it costs $400 dollars just to put one up in one
subway station. So it’s all internet and word-of-mouth.
M: And yet you guys have had such a good response over
here. We were at your show in London.
Steve: Yeah. It’s so refreshing here because people are so excited about
music. Of course, soccer...football comes first. But music is second. I
find music takes such a back seat in Vancouver. There are a lot of other
things that hold a higher priority.
M: Like what?
Steve (laughing): Multiculturalism.
M: Damn that multiculturalism.
Bruce (speaking directly into the iPod): For the record, we are totally
Steve: What I mean is that it’s just neat to see a culture that orders its
values a little differently. Plus, it’s one that seeks out music in live venues,
whereas North Americans might just get it off MTV.
Becky: Back home you wouldn’t meet an average 55 year old out at a
Bruce: That lady last night was 55? She told me she was way younger.
We all make fun of Bruce and his British cougar until talk eventually
turns back to the European music scene.
Steve: It’s totally different. Back home, it took months after our album
came out before the Georgia Strait even wanted to do a story.
Becky: Of course, in Canada it doesn’t matter if you’re a Canadian
band or not. But over here, it’s such a huge thing to be Canadian. Everybody
knows The Arcade Fire.
Krista: Everybody here always asks us if we know them. I always tell
them that they’re East Coast. We’re thousands of miles apart.
Time to bring out the big guns. The political stuff.
M: Listening to your album, we got the sense that you’re politically
motivated. Part of the new optimism that’s been lost
in a lot of music. Do you see yourselves as revolutionaries?
Steve: No, no. We’re just kids from the suburbs.
Krista: Somebody talked to us about this the other night. We’re not
revolutionaries; we’re just being ourselves.
Insert the sound of a toilet flushing, because that’s our entire angle
and the entire interview going straight down the chute. I look
at Carmen and I know he’s thinking what I’m thinking: throw
down smoke-bombs and make a quick getaway.
M: Wow. Really. Uh, because we thought the lyrics in “The
Gap” and “Rise” were really an example of this.
Steve: Well, of course, we see the injustices out there and we want to
make a difference. We’re definitely aware.
Krista (questioning Steve’s answer through laughter): What?
Steve: It just isn’t what we’re all about. See, The Gap was an original
idea that Krista and I had when we were both poli-sci majors. But
when the five of us got together, we couldn’t ask Becky to sing the
lyrics that we were writing for her. Besides, Becky’s lyrics are subtly
political. More personally political.
M: Funny, because that’s the one song that everybody seems
to know you by. It was the first track that I heard.
Steve: Oh, of course. My fear is that people will hear the single and
say, ‘They’re a political band’, then listen to the rest of the album and
be like, ‘Where is it?’. We went through a year and a half of growth,
which was when these songs were written. So, it really isn’t an accurate
portrayal of who we are now. We’re five really different people in
one band. When we voted on whether we should be a political band or
not, it was three against two.
There we have it. Our exact mistake described in precise detail.
M (to Bruce): Do you have anything to add on there? You
looked like you wanted to speak. And since you’re such a
Bruce: Just the part about revolution, I don’t necessarily think there’s
anything revolutionary about us.
Krista: Well, we’re definitely about the optimism.
M: We’d describe your version of resistance as optimistic. It’s
bubble gum punk. The militant packaged in a bubble gum
Steve: People don’t want it crammed down their throats. In that sense,
we’re reaching more people, the ‘mainstream people,’ with the bubble
M: But then is there anything lost from the message? Was
there anything more that you wanted to cram into that song
to make it more hard hitting?
Bruce: I’d be surprised if most people even cared about the political
message in that song, rather than it just has a dance beat.
Steve: For the Gap video, I wanted to go absolutely extreme. Every
time the words “the gap” were mentioned, I wanted to see an image
of the store and then, when we said “the poor”, a picture of starving
people and the homeless. But because we’re a democratic band, I was
M: Ah, so you’re the one with the narrowed vision. The crazy
Steve: I’m extreme with two X’s.
Krista: No. You just speak in absolutes.
M: You’ve mentioned that the political element to your music
was inspired by injustices you saw. Were these local Vancouver
Krista: Well, the problem is that it’s everywhere. But for me anyway,
the sentiment for “The Gap” came from time spent in international aid.
I worked for an organization called Hope International which works
with communities at the grassroots level.
M: Alright, giving up on the politics, what can we expect
from the Fall EP?
Steve: That’s it pretty much. But maybe a baser burp.
Becky: We really don’t know what to expect either.
Steve: We borrowed Bruce from Fun 100 and Devon from Cadeaux will
be our new drummer. The plan is to do about six songs. We’ve got
three written already. So, the Fall EP will be the beginning of that transition.
It’ll be what it is when it’s done. Just like the current album. It
exceeded our wildest dreams.
M: Now, a lot of Vancouver bands are really jealous that
you’re doing this European tour – and they’re jealous of
your success in general. I mean, Metric opened for you in London!
Any tips for making the transition to over here?
Steve: It was so peculiar because Metric is so huge back home! Something
like that would never happen in Canada. They’re really such nice
people. About the Vancouver bands...we genuinely feel bad because
it’s not like we did anything right. All we can do is recommend that
you submit your album to as many university radio stations as possible
and tour like crazy. That’s the only way to make it in Canada. But as
M: What’s the first step?
Steve: It’s so much easier. Everything just seems to happen so much
faster. The response from the crowd was just unexpected. Travelling
is the big difference. The drive from Vancouver to Calgary is 12 to 14
hours. But to drive into another country here is just 2 hours. Also,
we were just lucky. We played Pop Montreal, which we thought we
were lucky to get into. That lead to us getting to South By Southwest,
which we thought we were lucky to get into. And the British press saw
us there and we got invited over here. Everything has just been pure
Krista: Well, a lot of people do deserve the credit, but we did have to
believe in ourselves –that we could do it and pull it off.
Steve: When we got together the dream was to play Abbotsford and
maybe play Vancouver one day. Now, there’s talk about releasing our
next album in Japan. It’s the suburban dream and we don’t know why
we’re the five lucky people who got it. It’s just been the culmination of
the five of us coming together.
With the interview winding down, we didn’t waste any time on
apologizing profusely for endlessly driving at the angle of the opti-
mistic political band. The iPod off,
Steve revealed that the band’s “any
time, any where” policy had undergone
further revision since the
debut of their album. Abbotsford,
their hometown, was now the only
place they could name shows off the
beaten path. A byproduct of good
music, evidently. Success breeds exclusivity.
Still, it was good to see, in spite
of the new policy in place, that YSP!
truly was the group of suburban
kids they claimed to be. We talked
hockey and America’s Funniest
Home Videos. They even hooked us
up with drink tickets. After parting
ways, Carmen and I shared our
relief at not facing a band drunk on
success, but one still thanking their
lucky stars for the chance to play.
Later, when the band took the
stage, we were fortunate to see their
democracy at work. It was interesting
to watch as Steve, the one who
had been the most vocal during the
interview, take a back seat role on
stage. Instead, it was Derek, the guitar
player who had wandered in and
out of the interview without comment,
that, together with Becky,
worked the crowd. It was an Irish
crowd this time, one that took the
British enthusiasm farther; farther,
even, than my own enthusiasm.
They had the lyrics memorized and
they sang them back to the stage.
I couldn’t hear myself as I tried to
keep up with Becky, “You Say Party!
We Say Die!”
You Say Party?
We Say Party!
“Hit The Floor!”
A Suitable Title!
I was listening to the radio a couple months ago and this caller was spouting off about Vancouver’s
indie scene. He used words like “dismal”, “lethargic” and “non-existant”, then chuckled
and concluded it must be due to “their shitty weather.” He continued, “I mean, what’s the
last good CD that came from a Vancouver band? Everything’s happening out east—The Arcade
Fire, Wolf Parade, Broken Social Scene.” With this, I proceeded to shut the radio off and sat writhing
The answer that leapt out of my chest was You Say Party!, We Say Die!’s “Hit The Floor”. At that time it had been in my CD Player for a good six
weeks and I was already humming tunes in elevators. “The gap, the gap, the gap, the gap” blared out of my headphones on the 135 up to SFU. As
I shuffled through YSP’s short, but oh so sweet, energy-infused tracks, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something “crying to be let out” of
the band’s 2004 full-length.
The CD begins with an intro that establishes mood and perhaps the temperature of the band—church-bells and angelic voices are broken by
an explosion and crackling tongues of fire. Then bouncy synth taps and bass provoke a momentum and excitement that bleeds into the next track,
“Cold Hands, Hot Bodies”. Becky Ninkovic launches into a high-powered “rallying of the troops” and we hear a hungry crowd, knocking pints,
ready for a sweaty rock show. I recall Becky’s game-face as she guns off a set of routine gymnastic stretches—a reminder to her audience that
tonight dancing is manditory. “Heat, I got heat for you,” she repeats, and prepares the crowd for “Stockholm Syndrome Pt.1 and 2,” two tracks that
build to magnificent guitar-driven crechendoes. “Shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, break it, break it, break it, break it!” and you’re fuelled with
the good stuff and ready to burn. Then three very sing-a-longable tracks follow—the bouncy “You Did It”, the militant “The Gap”, and the sexy
“Midnight Snack”. However it is “The Gap” that gets crowds of hipster kids shouting punk politics as they rock the dance-floor in black sneakers.
Note: If you are fortunate enough to both own the CD and live in Vancouver, travel across any bridge while listening to “The Gap”. You just might
be physically crossing the “gap between the rich and the poor”.
“Love In The New Millenium” follows as YSP switches gears, giving listeners just enough time to breathe, but only for a second. Then the quick
and glitchy, repetative guitar of “Jazz Crabs” picks up the pace once again, and the energy behind “Rise!” inspires an inextinguishable motivation.
The CD closes with “Don’t Wait Up” a track that begins with playful synth beats that quickly melt away into heavy guitar, transforming the song
into a hard-hitting stomper—Perhaps telling listeners to hurry the fuck up and catch the train, because this band won’t wait up!
There’s a reason why You Say Party! We Say Die! feels the need to cram in as many exclamation marks as they can—Hit The Floor!” buzzes with
a brand of energy that most bands lack these days. Be sure to pick up their disc and catch a show if you can, and remember—for maximum enjoyment,
crank it loud, sing-a-long and dance like a maniac!
Submit your work
Art, Photography, Poetry, Essays, Fiction, Creative-Non Fiction,
and Creative Combinations
Issue # : Gender
Deadline November 1 th
Issue # : The Future
Image by Ryan Flowers www.memewaronline.com
Brandi Abele lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a parttime
student at ECIAD and is currently exploring art though the forms
photography and dance.
Chelsea Crooks is a Geography student at Simon Fraser University.
She is currently sleeping with one of the editors of Memewar.
Ryan Flowers is an artist, musician and postman that gives it 100%
in a musical group called in medias res. He is currently investigating the
next evolution of humanity. He is also in search of a wife.
Neal Kansay is originally from the Okanagan. He has done sketch
comedy, written fiction, authored essays and chopped mushrooms.
Jim Knipfel is the author of “Slackjaw,” “The Buzzing,” and some
other books, too. He is presently in search of gainful employment.
Amanda C. Lee has travelled to and from the Middle East for the
past five years. She collects master’s degrees with the longest possible
titles. She hopes to continue her work examining the reproductive and
sexual health behaviours of young people and is open to researching
regions with shorter names.
Andrew Lee is one bad mother fucker. He studies English and Art
& Culture at Simon Fraser University. He has a pet tortoise, a motorcycle,
and a girlfriend. Andrew also has aspirations to change the world
by playing music in the punk rock outfit in medias res. www.imr.ca
Lip Served by:
Erin Millar makes her home in the gaybourhood of Toronto,
though her heart lives in Vancouver. She got her start in publishing as
the editor of the Cap Courier at Capilano College and is now the president
of the Canadian University Press. Although her bachelor degree
is in jazz music, Erin freelances when she can, is a columnist for Canadian
Dimension magazine, and enjoys spicy salami and a good strong
Matt Rader is the author of Miraculous Hours, a book of poems.
He lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and daughter.
Jordan Somers is Ninjoetry –he was Valentino The Robot and
very shortly he will return to just himself. A tad boring perhaps, a tad
bruised, but not down for the count –just yet.
Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and chair of
the David Suzuki Foundation. He is an officer of the Order of Canada
and a recipient of UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for science, the United
Nations Environment Program medal, and Global 500. Dr. Suzuki is
Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver
and holds 14 honorary degrees from universities around the world.
Dr. Suzuki lives with his wife, Dr. Tara Cullis, and family in Vancouver,
Rob Taylor lives in Port Moody and recently released a chapbook,
Splattered Earth. You can buy a copy and read a bunch more free poems
Hungry Hungry Hippo-crites
Please Recycle. Pass it on.