I just don’t get it

4. Reggae

Let me be clear: it’s not that I hate listening to “No Woman, No Cry”. It’s actually quite pleasant. I simply don’t get the genre’s wide appeal. I’m always startled by its immediate effect on women. Within about three beats, regardless of where they are or what they are doing, girls start dancing. Such a remarkable response to such unremarkable music; to me, women might as well be swinging their hips to the muzac version of Christopher Cross’s “Caught Between the Moon and New York City“.

I know what you’re thinking: Bob Marley and the Whalers isn’t the only Reggae group around. You’re right, but I couldn’t name another group, and beyond the nine or ten songs on Legend, I couldn’t name more than two reggae singles. Funny thing is, I suspect that most people in Canada wouldn’t be able to either. I can’t speak for women, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: most men I know don’t like it, not really. They tolerate it as much as they don’t tolerate Justin Timberlake. Sure, songs from Legend made it onto our mixed tapes, but they were included to break up long runs of Hendrix, The Doors, and Led Zepplin. I can’t recall a single time when a group of friends listened to a Reggae-only compilation.

What I do remember is that when Reggae was playing, eighty percent of the time there were girls present, and dancing of course.  


3. City folk who bum rides instead of taking transit.

I’m a driver, and so you’d think that after spending three weeks and about two hours a day taking public transit to work, I would be a little more sympathetic to those of you who take the subway. But no, what’s happened is the opposite.

I can’t understand what everyone is complaining about. It’s so easy! No screaming about the jerk who just cut me off, or the slow poke puttering along in the fast lane or the idiots in front who don’t notice the advanced green (I hate those people). I can sit back listening to my Ipod and read. What’s the problem?

(Actually, I get it: you want to feel special! And what better way to feel special than to appeal to a friend’s good nature by recounting fictionalized transit horror stories and have him/her drive screaming through cross-town traffic to pick you up from your door, so you can sit in the passenger seat, listen to your Ipod and read. And of course let’s not forget all the little errands you’ve secretly plotted while being chauffeured to your destination – ‘oh, since we’re in the area, could we stop by blah blah blah and pick up some blah?’ Finally, while being taxied around, please remember to mention how cars are destroying the planet, and how drivers are mostly rich, yuppy scum. We love that. Really, if you wanted to feel special, couldn’t you just go out and buy some Hagen Dazs?)

Boy, that felt good. I needed to get that off my chest.


2. Kurt Vonnegut.

Believe me, I’ve tried, but I just don’t get you (I am addressing his ghost). I think you have a choice: classify your work as either poetry or short stories. Please don’t try to tell me that what you’re writing is prose. Kurt, someone could sneak into my house one night, shuffle together the pages of three of your books, and I wouldn’t notice the difference.

Also, as for your whimsical social commentary? Well, we live in a time of unparalleled access to information. Non-fiction has never been more popular. Those of us who would read your books are well aware of the world’s machinations and injustices. We no longer have to rely on fiction writers for our quota of social and historical digressions. These days, the only thing I need from you is to hold a thread and to tell me a story.  


1. Cops like this and this.

You’d think they were jaded veterans, but no, Constable Adam Josephs aka Officer Bubbles, has been on the Toronto force since 2007, and the other – whose name hasn’t been mentioned anywhere I could find – has been with the Vancouver police since 2009. On his Facebook page (now changed to ‘private’), Officer Bubbles claimed that his present job is ‘collecting human garbage’. The nameless Vancouver officer has sent his ‘sincere’ apologies to the victim, through a police spokesperson, of course.

The streets didn’t twist them; these guys arrived on the streets with a ready dislike of people. And I know the type: claim to hate urban centres but morbidly fascinated by their marginalized occupants whose powerlessness instils in them a sense of power. These police officers could thrive in no other environment as policemen. In wealthier neighbourhoods, the inhabitants would have better access to lawyers and a greater sense of entitlement.

So, cities knowingly hire these aggressive bullies (who cannot spot a bully?), police unions protect them, and the law takes their word over the public’s. They would have to beat an old lady to death in front of a justice of the peace to get fired. So here’s what I suggest. Keep these guys – and all police for that matter (they are all complicit) – in court. Every ticket you get, choose the trial option.

Good cop, bad cop, policemen hate court and paperwork. You know what really ticks them off? Five or six weeks before the trial, courier the prosecutor’s office and request ‘complete disclosure’ regarding your ticket. The police officer has to sit and create and copy a file of all the paperwork he did (or didn’t do) after giving you the ticket. If he didn’t do the paperwork, he might not show for the trial, and your ticket is dismissed. If he does show, and even if you have to pay for the ticket, at least you will get some satisfaction of having him sit on that little bench while you pepper him with questions!