Wednesday, January 28, 2004

An Essay on the Importance of Dadaist Art

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah; blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah? Blah-blah blah blah blah: Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah! Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah, blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah? Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah -- blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah; blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah-blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah, blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah?

Blah blah!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Shake Hands with the Devil

At last I will give you my long-promised reflection on Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire's book, Shake Hands with the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. It seems that Dallaire has gained popularity — I saw Roméo Dallaire on a news program this weekend, and I even saw his face in the usually lacklustre Spectator a week ago. The reason for the sudden surge (if it can be called that) of Dallaire in the media is not just because of the publishing of his book but also because Dallaire is testifying in the Rwandan International War Crimes Tribunal. The newsprogram was mentioning that Dallaire's credibility was under attack this week as the defence attempted to dismantle his character by painting him as an unstable character prone to mental breakdown. As many people already know, Dallaire suffered a dramatic case of post-traumatic stress disorder. My hope is that these personal attacks will not work and that the war criminal, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, the Hutu extremist, RGF member, and leader of the ministry of defence, will be served justice.

I could go on and on about the importance of this book but I’ll let Dallaire speak for himself:

"The following is my story of what happened in Rwanda in 1994. It's a story of betrayal, failure, naiveté, indifference, hatred, genocide, war, inhumanity and evil. Although strong relationships were built and moral, ethical and courageous behaviour was often displayed, they were overshadowed by one of the fastest, most efficient, most evident genocides in recent history. In just one hundred days over 800,000 innocent Rwandan men, women and children were brutally murdered while the developed the world, impassive and apparently unperturbed, sat back and wateched the unfolding apocalypse or simply changed channels. Almost fifty years to the day that my father and father-in-law helped to liberate Europe—when the extermination camps were uncovered and when, in one voice, humanity said, "Never again"—we once again sat back and permitted the unspeakable horror to occur. We could not find the political will nor the resources to stop it. Since then, much has been written, discussed, debated, argued and filmed on the subject of Rwanda, yet it is my feeling that this recent catastrophe is being forgotten and its lessons submerged in ignorance and apathy. The genocide in Rwanda was a failure of humanity that could easily happen again.
After one of my many presentations following my return from Rwanda, a Canadian Forces padre asked me how, after all I had seen and experienced, I could still believe in God. I answered that I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists, and therefore I know there is a God. Peux ce que veux. Allons-y.” — from the Preface.

Some may wonder what Dallaire is referring to when he says that he shook hands with the devil. Dallaire is speaking of his meeting with the leaders of the Interahamwe, a militant wing of the ruling party which was largely responsible for the genocide. Dallaire asserts that he removed the bullets from his gun before he met them so he could resist the temptation to shoot them. After meeting these leaders in order to negotiate humanitarian transfers, Dallaire felt he had negotiated and exchanged pleasantries with the devil. I believe the title of Dallaire’s book is extremely apt, as he received very little information on the motivations of all the various nations, people, and organizations he had to deal with, and with this lack of information came a confusion over exactly who he could rely on.

I am by no means an expert on Rwanda or Burundi and the historical accounts of the genocide and the reasons for the genocide I have read often have extreme and shocking differences. As a student of history I have never seen the need for historiographical research as in the varying accounts of the horrible events that led to the Rwandan genocide. The French blame the RPF, Marxists blame the Tutsi and downplay their extreme losses, realists simplify and try to simply blame tribal hatreds, Tutsis blame Hutus, Hutus blame Tutsis, Belgians blame Dallaire, Republicans blame Clinton and the UN, and on and on the game goes. I like Dallaire’s approach best, he blames everyone. Now, certainly there are differing degrees of responsibility — Madeline Albright certainly doesn’t have as much blood on her hands as a Hutu or Tutsi genocidaire, but the blame does fall on many shoulders. Blinded by racism, ideology, hatred, and apathy the French, the Belgians, the Americans, the Tutsi, the Hutu, the UN, the media, and the entire international community share some of the blame. Dallaire himself has stated that he will die with the guilt of the genocide on his shoulders. None of us can shrug off the genocides in Rwanda and Burundi with a simplistic, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Because any of us who are Christians know the answer to that question. Now you and I certainly don’t share much of the blame for the genocides but we do have a responsibility to speak out and seek justice when tragic events of this nature occur.

I don't think I can give the book a fair treatment in just one small blog entry and I recommend that everyone read it. Not only is Dallaire a true Canadian hero, but the Rwandan genocide is a tragic event in history which should lead everyone to sober reflection.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

A Nazirite Receives a Haircut
Judges 21: 15-21 (The New Situationally Edited Revised Standard Version)
And she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not received a haircut when I asked." 16 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. 17 And he told her all his mind, and said to her, "Fine, I'll get a haircut."

. . . . . . . 19 She made him go to a certain barbershop; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, "Wow, you look dandy, John!" And he awoke from the barber's chair and said, "I do look good, though."

Thursday, January 22, 2004

A Brief History Continued

I neglected to mention yesterday that the transferrence of power from Germany to Belgium occurred after Germany fared badly in World War I. Belgium governed the territory as one territory Ruanda-Urundi.

Burundi gained independence on July 1st, 1962. With weak democratic institutions, the Tutsi King Mwabutsa IV formed a constitutional monarchy which was made up of equal numbers of Hutus and Tutsis. In 1965, the Hutu prime minister was assassinated and this triggered a number of destabilizing revolts by the Hutu. In 1966, Prince Ntare IV overthrew his own father and himself was deposed that very same year by a military coup. Capt. Michel Micombero abolished the monarchy and declared a Burundi a republic. A republic did not emerge, however, and Burundi was a military regime. In 1972, there was a large-scale Hutu rebellion and hundreds of thousands of Burundians were put to flight. Instability reigned throughout the seventies. Col. Jean-Baptiste Bagaza seized power in 1976, leading a Tutsi-dominated military regime. Bagaza, a reformer, introduced changes in property and election laws and promoted reconciliation between Hutus and Tutsis.

Bagaza's promising start deteriated when he ws elected head of state as the sole candidate in 1984. Religious activities were suppressed and political opposition was imprisoned. Finally, in 1987, Bagaza was overthrow by Major Pierre Buyoya who then instituted his ruling Military Committee for National Salvation. Tensions rose between Tutsis and Hutus as the Hutu majority clashed with the ruling Tutsi hardliners. An estimated 150,000 people were killed and tens of thousands of refugees fled in the unrest of 1988. Buyoya issued a commission to investigate the causes of the 1988 bloodbath and attempt to create a charter for democratic reform.

In 1991, a new constitution was approved by Buyoya which detailed the need for a president, a multiethnic government, and a parliament. In 1993, Burundi's first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye was elected. In October of that year, Ndadaye was assassinated by a faction from the Tutsi-dominated army. Civil war ensued and tens of thousands of people were killed and displaced in the chaos.

The government of Ndadaye regained control and Cyprien Ntaryamira was elected president in January 1994. Finally in April 1994 the airplane of President Ntayarmira and Rwandan president Habyarimana was shot down, killing both men. This infamous act marked the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. While the world glanced in mild interest at the horror in Rwanda, Burundi was plunged into more violence and unrest.

Rwanda also gained independence on July 1st 1962. From 1962 until 1973 Rwanda was ruled by Gregoire Kaybanda. In 1973, a bloodless coup occurred in which the Hutu General, Juvenal Habyarimana, seized power. So while Burundi was ruled by a Tutsi elite after independence, Rwanda was ruled by a Hutu elite under Habyarimana. Habyarimana favoured his own clan and those in prime positions were most often his relations or from his home territory. Apparently, members of this favoured group, theAkazu, or little house, played a large role in the 1994 genocide by commanding the murderous Presidential guard and controlling the hate radio station. Habyarimana and his Akazu efficiently governed Rwanda with tight control. Political and press freedom were severely curtailed but religous freedom was allowed. Tutsis were severely discrimated against and banned from political activity and forced to carry identity cards, a holdover from Belgian colonialism.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front, the Tutsi-dominated rebel force led by Paul Kagame, invaded in 1990. The RPF was mainly comprised of Tutsi refugees who wished to return to their Rwandese homeland. The RPF had been founded in 1979 by Tutsi refugees and had fought as mercenaries in Uganda. Paul Kagame, an extremely intelligent leader and a military genius, made sure he had a number of Hutus among his supporters. He hoped the Hutu would welcome him as deliverer, but this hope was dashed when Hutu elements skillfully manipulated the radio propaganda to spread fear among the people. It wasn't until April of 1994 when moderate Hutus were being targeted by the genocidaires that the RPF found support among the Hutu. This invasion by the RPF led to large-scale mobilization of the Rwandan Governmental Forces (RGF) and in a decision that was to have horrendous results, arms were distributed among civilian officials.

Discontent reigned among the Hutu as the economy was weak and the government oppressive. Habyarimana's party divided itself into hardliners who did not wish to give the Tutsis any conciliation and moderates who were willing to talk. These two elements struggled against eachother and it appeared peace talks would go nowhere. Habyarmina's plane was shot down in 1994, killing him and the Burundian president. Then all hell broke loose.

It is a vast oversimplification to blame the Tutsis or the Hutus for the genocides and killings which began after independence. It is true that the primary blame for the genocide in Rwanda rests with the Hutu elites and the genocide in Burundi lies with the Tutsi elites it is important to realize that both communities have substantial amounts of moderates and in the targeted communities in both countries there are a number of radicals. It is also important to note that in the infamous 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the Hutu extremists and the RGF carried out the worst of the genocides, but the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) a force of Tutsi expatriates was also guilty of war crimes. In both Burundi and Rwanda, leaders have exploited the Hutu-Tutsi tension to justify their monopoly of power. They argue that all people needed to do was to look across the border to see what would happen if the Tutsi or the Hutu gained power.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A Brief History of Rwanda and Burundi

Before I begin my promised reporting on Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire’s book Shake Hands with the Devil I would like to contextualize the genocides by writing a little bit about Rwanda and Burundi’s histories. This will be part one, tomorrow I’ll have part two, and sometime later I’ll write about Dallaire’s book. Many people assume that twentieth-century Hutus and Tutsis are merely carrying on the tribal warfare they have engaged in since time immemorial. In fact, the designations of Hutu and Tutsi had much less significance in the past than they do today. The categories did exist, but they were based on class distinctions more than ethnicity. The Hutu were cultivators while the Tutsi were cattle-herders. A rich Hutu could purchase a number of cows and become a Tutsi and a Tutsi who fell on hard times would become a Hutu farmer. There was some degree of movement up and down the political hierarchy. While it is fair to say that the Tutsis were the dominant aristocrats/warriors it is misleading to claim they were oppressive feudal lords. Evidence points to a more mutually acceptable nature of society as there is no sign of large-scale ethnic killings. In fact, the wars that did occur were against rival kingdoms, some of which were Hutu-controlled. These were not ethnic wars but pitted tribally-mixed militias and armies against each other, and it was not unusual for these militias and armies to be led by Hutu generals. In addition to being important economic and social forces, these armies and militias were strong cultural forces, engaging in poetry, dance, and song. Interestingly enough, the Tutsi and Hutu still share these cultural traits (as well as their language.)

When the colonizers began entering Rwanda and Burundi at the beginning of the twentieth century, the designations of Hutu and Tutsi took on a drastic change. First the Germans and then the Belgians entered the mountainous region of East-Central Africa. Both European nations had firm convictions about racial hierarchy and the superiority of the white race. Now, it was too simple for the Belgians to relegate all Africans to inferior status, they had to create an African hierarchy. The Tutsis, who tend to be taller and slimmer, thoroughly impressed the Belgians as descendants of a long-lost Caucasian tribe. This had much to do with the reluctance of Europeans at this time to credit black Africa with having any sort of civilization: clearly, the highly centralized states of Rwanda and Burundi were an aberration and could only be explained away by pointing to the role of some sort of Caucasian migration from Ethiopia’s rich civilization (This resulted in such ridiculous names as AfricanAryans and Black Caucasians.) It is important to note that Tutsis and Hutus had mixed quite a bit of their blood by this time and although certain differences were apparent, there were many Tutsis and Hutus who did not meet their stereotyped physical attributes. (In fact, Europeans who visited a village in Rwanda recently only guessed two out of seven Rwandan tribal identities correctly.) The Belgians looked at the supposed European-like features of Tutsis and considered them born rulers.

The Belgians did not like the idea of Tutsis and Hutus constantly switching tribes and, in 1926, they made certain that no more tribal movement would occur by issuing identity cards which included an entry for tribe. With this, all the benefits and hopes of the Hutus were lost as they could no longer advance socially and all the little power and authority they had previously was stripped away from them. Later, after World War II, the tactics of the Belgians changed. Belgian Marxists who thought in terms of class struggle encouraged the Hutu “proletariats” to resist the Tutsi “bourgeoisie.” Towards the end of colonization the hierarchy was reversed and the Hutu became favoured while the Tutsi fell into disfavour. Roman Catholic priests armed with the new Catholic social justice teachings of the Young Christian workers readily favoured the Hutu over the Tutsi. Some scholars convincingly argue that the switch in support by the Belgians had as much to do with their changing perspectives as it did with their desire to destabilize those they wished to control.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Sentence Fragments

A columnist in the Hamilton Spectator. She uses sentence fragments. All the time. It gets on my nerves. Is it effective? No. I already hate reading articles about dogs who got hit by cars. Now its cars hitting dogs. Bicycles stolen. Pellet gun shootings. All in sentence fragments. On the front page. Consistently. Yuck. Then again. The Spectator. Not exactly a great paper.
Maybe He Should Read Political Visions and Illusions?

"The great political ideologies of the twentieth century include liberalism, socialism, anarchism, corporatism, Marxism, communism, social democracy, conservatism, nationalism, fascism, and Christian Democracy. They all share one thing in common: they are products of Western civilization. No other civilization has generated a significant political ideology. The West, however has never generated a great religion. The great religions of the world are all products of non-Western civilizations and, in most cases, antedate Western civilization." - Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Oh damned book, History of the Low Countries!
You're out of print, you historical sleaze!
I searched high and low for you, you devil
in every corner and on every level
You, oh antiquated book, fail to see
that I need you for a fourth level history!
E.H. Kossman is your author and a knave
to print too few copies of what I crave
blame the publisher if you will
its E.H. Kossman I want to kill
I know I'm being harsh and unfair
but your utter scarcity I cannot bear
I'm sure Kossman is a nice fellow
and I know I should be more mellow
but when I order a copy of you, you cur
I don't want E.H. Kossman's `93 brochure!
So, you hard-covered pretentious freak
I expect you at my house at the end of the week!


P.S. I bet you're not even a good read.
I just updated my blog-links. This isn't a full update but at least I made the effort. I left people out, not because I hate them but because I'm a classic under-achiever and quite pusillanimous about failure. These are all people I know or that I think I know or maybe just people that someone I know knows. Whatever the case, I'm linking them. The list isn't alphabetized as of yet but I will do that when I get around to getting a haircut or maybe later, I dunno.

Monday, January 12, 2004


As some people might know, I am in what has been termed an "interracial relationship." I like to think of the world consisting of one human race divided into a plethora of unique shapes and colours rather than to think of a world consisting of a complex division of races. Unfortunately for my idealism there are many people in this world who enjoy dividing people into separate races and not only categorizing them, but also creating general laws about their behaviour. Because of these people, race does exist.

One of the questions I am often asked when someone finds out that I am dating an African woman is whether I encounter a lot of racism. No one has burned a cross on my lawn, yet, and sometimes I think that is the sort of incident people are fishing for. The racism I have encountered is a lot more subtle, but it still can sting. A member of the K-9 unit ordered us out of a Wendy's because we were "scaring off customers." People have gone right out and stated that I am wrong to be involved with an African woman. One such incident which sticks indelibly in my mind is the seven-year-old who stated matter-of-factly that, "white is for white and black is for black." In order for a child of this age to learn such a thing, I believe they have to be taught by society or an older adult.

Usually, however, the racism is a lot less blatant than even that. Racist jokes are cut off half-way through, not because of my glowering face, but because a friend of mine is jutting his elbow intensely into the side of their unenlightened friend. People refer to my girlfriend and all of the people who share her skin colour as "them" and then proceed to make generalizations like, "I hear black girls are wild in bed." Now, I can't make an empirical judgement on that because, being a virgin, I've never had sex with a black girl or a white girl or an asian girl; and if I had, I'd have to sleep with all of them before I could make a scientific judgement. Still, I can say with reasonable certainty that such a ridiculous statement is merely the manisfestation of a racist's objectified fantasy of black women imposed upon reality. I'm entirely certain there are black woman who are terribly subdued in bed. All this to say that race, although it may shape an individual, does not determine personality or character.

This past summer, at her workplace, my girlfriend was having a lot of difficulty getting any amount of cooperation with one of the managers she had was working with. She finally told her supervisor of her difficulty, not as a complaint but as an explanation. The next day, this manager called her into her office.

After explaining himself he apologized profusely and then defended himself, "I'm not a racist. I've worked with all kinds of people and I've never had difficulty. I've worked with Vietnamese, Pakistani, Russian, and Chinese and even you people, and I've never had difficulty."

"You've worked with Burundian people before?" my girlfriend asked in surprise.

The manager gave her a bemused look of confused perplexion and then continued his defence. My girlfriend was oblivious by this time, completely irate at being relegated to the status of "you people."

I was taught in school that racism was no longer a problem. I remember in grade 4 some East Indian women were invited to share their culture with my class. They spoke about their culture and traditions and then the time for questions began. One of the students raised their hands and asked, "do you have trouble with racism?" One of the ladies answered that yes, she did, and then she explained how one of her neighbours would cross to the other side of the street rather than pass her on the same side of the street. After the women had left my teacher dismissed their story and explained to the class that racism wasn't a problem anymore.

Martin Luther King had made his speech, see? Everyone was equal, see? I won't argue that the rights of visible minorities haven't improved immensely but I will not settle into the comfortable ridiculousness of claiming racism is no longer a real problem. Many people seem to want to confine racism to incidents where the KKK shows up with torches or some local kids scrawl racist epithets on a wall. Racism in Canada often manifests in a sort of "polite racism." This involves polite shunning, polite generalizations, polite refusal, and polite ignorance. Okay, I'll be honest and admit that "polite racism" is an oxymoron and that Canadians are often worse than southern Americans. Why? If a southern American is racist he or she will come right out and tell you, a northern American or Canadian, on the other hand, will constantly hedge.

Canadians shouldn't comfort themselves with the opiate that most people aren't racist. One racist teacher, one racist boss, one racist policeman, can taint an entire institution. Stereotypes and generalizations create distrust and foster hatred. We need to build an atmosphere of love and communication between Canada's vast a varied cultural mosaic.

"Until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, this a war." - Robert Nesta Marley, putting the words of Emperor Haile Selassie's 1936 speech to the League of Nations to song.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Rastafarians and Al Wolters

I'll sum up the beliefs of the Rastafarians very briefly and perhaps I'll make a more in-depth post at a later date.

Influenced by the oratory of the back-to-Africa leader Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the Rastafarians adopted Emporer Haile Selassie as God. Marcus Garvey himself never proclaimed this idea - in fact, he condemned it - but the Jamaican workers who heard his message to look to Africa for the coming of their Messiah were thoroughly impressed with the news of Ras Tafari Haile Selassie's coronation in 1930.

The divinity of Haile Selassie was not simply pulled out of Marcus Garvey's supposed prophecy. Selassie himself claimed to be descended from Solomon via the Queen of Sheba. Therefore, Selassie was of the line of David and Rastafarians could pull out all kinds of Biblical prophecies to support their claims to his divinity.

Of course, Rastafarianism has many more influences which have shaped it into the various sects it encompasses today. Hindu holy men who came to Jamaica as cheap labour brought their spiritual ideas, their ascetic lifestyle, and their appreciation of marijuana to the Rastafarian religion. Marxism, the Afro Athlican Constructive Church , Judaism, Christianity, obeah, and the repatriation movement also exerted influence.

The Bible is also a major influence. Some Rastafarians accept both the Old and the New Testaments while others only accept the Old Testament. Many Rastafarians acclaim what they call the "Holy Piby" which is a book adopted from the Afro Athlican Constructive Church. This gnostic book, which originated from the hand of Robert Athlyi Rogers from 1924-28, is a profoundly Afro-centric scripture.

Rastafarianism recognizes the Ethiopian people as the chosen people of God. Of course, in this sense, Ethiopia is not restrained to the modern boundaries of the state of Ethiopia but to the whole of Africa (The word Ethiopia is derived from the Greek Aithein (to burn) + ops (face). In Greek times, Ethiopian referred to anyone of a dark complexion and it is in this sense that Rastafarians use Ethiopian in.) As the chosen people of God, the Ethiopians disobeyed his will and were stolen from Zion (Africa) and brought to Babylon (the West.) After four hundred years of slavery, reminiscent of the slavery in Egypt, the time has come for the Ethiopians to free themselves from mental slavery and repatriate to Africa. Before, after, or during this repatriation, the Rastafarian can meditate and find their divinity and oneness with Jah (Selassie was/is the perfect expression of Jah on earth in the Rastafarian mind. Divinity and unity can be found in and with every man and woman, thus a Rasta will refer to himself/humanity as I & I to denote this universal experience.)

Now that I have given a cursory treatment of Rastafarian beliefs I can speak of one of the facets of Rastafarianism I find most interesting. Now, I'm not an expert and I may have this wrong, but it's worth a try. Rastafarians often refer to fire in their songs and in their daily life. Fire, for the Rastafarians, will cover the whole earth and burn away all wickedness. This obsession with fire might have a lot to do with the influence of Pentecostal fire and brimstone oratory but there is also an element of Al Wolter's Creation Regained. Now, I'm not saying that the Rastafarians have read Creation Regained, but they might find some things they'd agree with in there.

Sizzla Kalonji, a militant Bobo Ashanti singer drew much criticism when he sang a musical fire upon white attendees at a concert a few years ago. Sizzla defended his musical fire by stating that no one had to fear the fire as it was for purification. Many reggae singers have blazed a "musical fire" on everything from Babylon to themselves. The fire of Rastafari is not a fire of destruction but a fire of purification. Wicked Babylon can be purified in the flames and a conscious Rasta even needs the baptism of fire for purification. The creation is fine, it is the wickedness that needs to be burned out.

Just something I thought was interesting.

Friday, January 09, 2004

A New Year

To celebrate the transition from 2003 into 2004 this year my girlfriend convinced me to go to an acquaintance's party in Stoney Creek. The last two new years had been rather tranquil celebrations and Laurianne convinced me that I owed her some rowdiness.

On that fateful night of December the 31st I picked up some of our friends and headed to the party. After forty minutes of meandering around the suburban wilderness we finally found the Canaanites.

Tickets to the party were approximately ten dollars, and being the generous Dutchman that I am, I paid fifteen, allowing my girlfriend, in the interest of women's liberation, to pay the remaining five dollars. My hand was skillfully marked with a red Crayola marker, my keys were turned over, and I was given a plastic cup with my initials written crudely on it with black Crayola marker.

"Wait a minute," the slightly inebriated door-keeper intoned, "are you going to drink a lot?"

"No," I answered.

"Good," she said, "because you shouldn't drink and drive."

I nodded and followed my friends down the stairs to the basement, impressed with the party's security precautions. The basement was filled with sweaty drunken bodies. Individuals in red shirts cleverly titled Dube's New Keggers Eve Party served as security. With very little imagination I could see these shirts very soon gracing the rack of some local Value Village only to be thumbed through with very little thought by some bargain-hunter.

A lanky shaggy drunken fellow bumped into a zit-faced youth, "Hey, are you drunk?"

"Yeah," said the lanky fellow, "are you?"

"Yeah," the zit-faced youth bobbing in exaggerated inebriation, "I'm absolutely hammered!"

"Alright!" yelled the lanky fellow, and the two of them exchanged a clumsy high five.

I served myself a cup of beer from the keg, in the corner of a former bedroom. An absolutely humungous guy popped me the thumbs-up sign. I took a sip and then I noticed that the humungous guy was back for conversation, "that was kind of retarded wasn't it?"


"When I gave you the thumbs-up sign," the humungous guy imitated himself giving a retarded thumbs-up sign, "that looked a little retarded, didn't it?"

"It didn't look to bad," I intoned, smiling.

"Good," the humungous guy smiled back and slapped my on the back with a huge paw. I nearly spilled my beer.

I went back out into the hall. The lanky fellow had his shirt off and was yelling, "at Marcel's party I was the only one who knew how to party!"

Fortunately, the lanky fellow had friends who restrained him and the shirt was soon in its rightful place on his back. A heavy-set curly-hair man in a trenchcoat was telling to girls that he was gay but he wasn't into, "all that gay shit."

I wandered over to the bar and noticed stacks of pizza boxes. I could do with a slice of pizza. There was a sign crudely marked, "50 cents a slice." I was not getting my money's worth.

I walked over to a larger room and noticed a drum kit and several individuals setting up their guitars and amplifiers. Excellent, I would be treated to a concert, maybe I would be getting my money's worth after all. Then the music started.

Now, I like a lot of music and I have paitence with most music, but this was a little too much. With a cacophony of poor rhythm, distorted guitars, and a badly played bass, the lead singer had his shirt off and along with some expletives was roaring such enlightening lyrics as, "I HATE YOU/ SHUT UP/ I HATE YOU," and so on and so forth. The music was not very welcoming.

The lanky fellow was entering the room on the back of a friend, a plastic cup in one hand, "AAAAAAAAAALRIIIIIGGHT!"

The lead singer had become unintelligable and approximately seven people were extremely pumped and forming a mini-moshpit at the front. The lead singer paused for an announcement, "Uh, the party down the street was shut down by the cops, so if all the underage people could stay down here for now that would help a lot."

Then the next song started off with a roaring, "WE DON'T NEED YOU!"

My friends decided to go for a smoke and I decided to accompany them. Outside several people were having a deep philosophical discussion about zippers, the smell of pot heavy in the air. The heavy-set curly haired man in trenchcoat was having a conversation with same two girls, no doubt about the same thing.

My Lebanese friend leaned over to my Quebecker friend, "There's the fag."

The heavy-set man looked up, "I am not a fag," he exclaimed effeminately.

My Lebanese friend was shaking his head in embarassment, my Quebecker friend was doubled over in laughter and then the lanky fellow stuck his head out of the sliding door, "Hey Maurice! I'm coming out."

"You do that," muttered an unenthusiastic Maurice.

The lanky fellow swayed forward and then backwards and then forward and then as he tried to step forward he swayed backwards and disappeared from sight, lying somewhere on the kitchen floor.

Two girls rushed out, frightened by a police cruiser they had spotted driving past the house. I found myself wishing that the police would come and send these underage drinkers into a drunken panic. That would be fun to watch.

We left twenty minutes later, without the cops having shown up at all.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

It has been brought to my attention that I have neglected my blogsite for the past while. Shocked at this possibility, I quickly checked my blog to see if this startling revelation was true. As my blog popped into view I came to grips with a heart-wrenching reality: sure enough, my blog had not been updated since December 10. I was sure I had written a blog on December 28, but that imaginary leap in creative excuse-forming was just another one of those false repressed memories.

My real excuse for not blogging is that my girlfriend came down for the Christmas break and I spent a lot of time with her. The time I didn't spend with her was spent reading, sleeping, eating, and visiting friends. Let us just put this behind us and realize that I am back and that is what is truly important.

I suppose an update is in order. I've been reading L. Gen. Romeo Dallaire's Shake Hands with the Devil, his account of his leadership of the UNAMIR in Rwanda and the genocide in Rwanda. This book is a very difficult read for me and I find myself admiring Dallaire's courage and integrity in the face of so much discouragement and brutality. I'll blog more on this book when I finally finish it.

I went to a party for New Year's and I believe that deserves an entire entry by itself. I think I'll juxtapose it with the Christmas party I went to.

My girlfriend tried to give me a haircut but I won. HA! Am not whipped, Mr. Crookall. Oh, and she's reading the copy of Cry, the Beloved Country you so generously gave me for Christmas. She thinks you have great taste and that you know me very well.

Laurianne gave me cologne for Christmas, maybe I smell bad.

Fingernail recovering slowly.

Right now it is extremely cold outside.

I'm sorry, but when someone asked which period we had to choose the political theorists from in Modern Political Theory I nearly lost it.

Peace out, I have class (in more ways than one)

Who deh?