As I sit here at my desk, tucked away in a corner of the Georgia Straight newsroom, I have ample time to ponder different ways my life could have gone, and a blank page to express them.

It’s a mixed blessing.

When I start pondering these things I usually write about them. And once I’m finished writing, I take time to consider following almost all my literary idols down the path into heavy drinking. Finished  scribbling down the  the balance of my life, I’m left thinking about how all of my literary amibitions lead me squarely to one place: the bottle.

I once heard these thoughts described perfectly as “The Hemingway Defence” by modern boogyauthor Stephen King, a former alcoholic himself whose writing was much better back in the days when he was perennialy sauced. The defence goes something like this.

“I’m a man, and as a man I have no time for sissy feelings. But I’m also a writer, and as such I rely on translating my sissy feelings for a paycheque. In order to deal with this soul-rending dilemma, I have to drink.”

Fair enough Steve, but I’d add this caveat to the rule. If you want to be a terrible writer, the Hemingway defence need not apply. Good writers grapple with things, bad writers just wear black turtlenecks and talk like they, and we, are players in some absurdly cute off-broadway play.

Okay, sweeping generalization. But this is my blog and I can generalize all I want. All the best writers I’ve ever known have been the sort that like to  carouse, swear, slack off and imbibe like beer was the new air. The best writers don’t even like to call themselves writers, while the worst are ever too quick to impose their god-awful poetry on you through their myspace page.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that writing is at its core a blue collar job. The best works, whether fiction or non-fiction are workmanlike and steady, exposing the truths that lie beneath the craft only through the hammer-headedness of the writer. Real writing is subconcious, it hits you on a level that the writer wasn’t trying to hit you on, because he or she didn’t know it himself.

And this is the dark side, the side that blindsides you at 2 A.M when stumbling from the bar to consider vomiting in the gutter. As you look up from your drunk, horny and confused haze, you realize that there’s some truth here that the people who want to call themselves writers to impress their theatre club buddies will never understand. Real writing, writing that means something, is tough work and it needs tough people.

Only alcoholics needs apply.

(Just a note. I’m not commending or encourgaing alcoholism. If you take this essay that seriously then you probably aren’t the kind of person I’m really interested in hearing complaints from.)

The latest news from the Canadian sports world is that the CFL is granting a new team to Ottawa. For a third time. If you havn’t been paying attention to the CFL, and few people do outside of Regina, you might not know that the Rough Riders folded in 1996 following a disaster year for both the team and the league.

Fast forward to 2002 and the CFL granted Ottawa another kick at it. The team got a new name and a new look, but ownership by the same two people that screwed up the team the first time around.

Guess what? They screwed it up again.

The Ottawa Renegades folded again in 2006, after a series of horrible seasons and general ineptitude. They didn’t make the playoffs once (truely terrible in a 8 team league) and lost close to $10 million dollars. It wasn’t a folding, it was a mercy killing.

Flash forward again to 2008. Now league commish Mark Cohon (The only sports commish who manages to be nerdier than Gary Bettman) is giving Ottawa a new team. They don’t have a stadium to play in, the CFL already doesn’t have enough talent to go around, and this team is a perennial money loser. But if you ignore that, Ottawa is a great football town.

Anyone remember the XFL and their promise to bury the CFL? Well that didn’t happen exactly, but now it seems more and more like one of Vince McMahon’s insipid wrestling plotlines where one league rips off it’s mask to reveal itself as the long-thought dead other league.

“We’re not so different, after all” that league might shout into the microphone as it struts around the ring. “The XFL never dies, it just takes a new form!”

And it has. The CFL is losing all its tradition in an attempt to cool itself up, make itself bigger and shiner. Now lets try the sportswide proven strategy of expanding into terrible markets just to say it did.

At least the XFL had the dignity to die. The CFL just lingers in limbo, losing more and more of its class every year. I’d rather the CFL folded and went down as it was, Canada’s last great unique sports league, than stay alive as it’s promising now….A pale reflection of the NFL with less drama.

Basicly, the XFL.

Why Can-Con sucks

March 24, 2008

I’m driving to work this morning, and my Ipod has decided to project static through my car speakers instead of music. Faced with the option of plugging in headphones while I’m driving or venturing into the wasteland of Vancouver rock radio, I choose the latter.

 Half-an-hour later, an odyssey of mind-numbing musical blandness leaves me with the disappointingly unpatriotic realization that Can-Con sucks.  Canadian content laws on the radio serve only Chad Kroeger and people who salivate at the sound of Sum 41’s identical songs “Fat Lip” and “Underclass Hero”. But for the taste of those who aren’t functionally retarded, Canadian content laws prevents the creation of music that’s worth getting excited about. 

At the risk of turning this article into a bitch-fest, Canadian radio stations are either being severely impeded by CanCon, or music in general is so terrible these days that State of Shock is worthy of being played at least once an hour. I have reason to doubt the second option though, because I’ve heard drunken garage bands playing Wednesday night at the Cobalt that sound better.

Canadian content laws were a noble try, I’ll give them that. A system that rewards inequality is something that sure works in theory. Kinda like communism.

What was designed to make sure that up-and-coming Canadian groups get a fair shake has devolved into the frantic ass-kissing of marginally popular Canadian groups, and the beloved CFox tradition of inflicting their appointed “next big things” on us with abandon. I don’t care if I hear Murray Atkinson thirty times an hour, he still sucks.

So, in all my wisdom as a newspaper intern I’m going to offer up a solution to fix everything and restore rock airwave righteousness. I’m sure it’s never been suggested before. Are you ready?

Canadian bands who hit a certain level of record sales should be thereafter be exempt from Can-Con. Let’s say something modest like 8000 records sold. Once a new band has been given a push out the door and seen success, let’s see if they can run with the big boys instead of settling for eternal limbo on Canadian airwaves.

The strange truth is that Canadian artists with real talent didn’t need Can-Con at all. The Arcade Fire was burning things up in the states long before they got heard on Canadian Radio, same case with The New Pornographers. The only types that Can-Con really serve are bloated “safe” choices like Nickleback or the one-trick pony band who realize that they never have to develop another trick as long as they stay in Canada.

Until Can-Con encourages relevant music as it should, I’m going back to AM730 all traffic. At least it “moves” me.

Huckabee hearts the south

February 6, 2008

Okay, so Mike Huckabee won some states in the south on super tuesday. He’s still not going anywhere.. I really doubt Mcain’s going to put Huck on his ticket, no matter how scrappy he is. Finishing behind Ron Paul is still finishing behind Ron Paul.

You don’t come back from that.

Nobody hearts Huckabee

February 3, 2008

 huckabee.jpg

I love the bluster, drama and surplus of shake-your-head moments that are the U.S Presidential Primares. Take, for instance Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, who has been doing nothing but eat Mitt Romney and John Mcain’s dust all campaign. When rumors started to float that he’d drop out, he floated this “zinger”

“If anybody ought to be quitting, it’s Mitt Romney.”

Mike Huckabee then proceeded to win Maine as expected. Guess he’s not going to be  quitting quite yet. Oh, and Huckabee  got 6 per cent of the vote and finished far behind Ron Paul, who was once a Libertarian.

You couldn’t make TV this good. Trust me.

CNN thinks Bush’s legacy will be “mixed”.  Fair enough, but bear in mind that CNN also thinks George Bush could retire peacefully to Iraq, where the greatful Iraqis will dote at his feet.

CNN White House reporter Ed Henry writes that George Bush’s presidency “the best of times and the worst of times — a tale of two legacies as President Bush prepares to ring in the final year of his presidency.”

Doesn’t Bush have something like a %20 per cent approval rating? Thats not a mixed legacy.

Don’t know if I can be much clearer than that. I’m a Journalism stuidnet and I figured out that its really hard for a man’s legacy to be “mixed” if far less than half of the people in his country thinks he did anything like a good job.

Some U.S propaganda media is bad, some of it worse and some of it just downright horrible. The latest piece on the controversial practice of “waterboarding” falls right into the last catagory.

The story is allegedly about controversy over the CIA’s destruction of videotaped interogations of suspected terrorists. On these tapes, it is alleged that agents are shown waterboarding a key al Qaeda operative.

I can’t find too much about that in the actual article. Just a one sided diatribe about how water boarding produces excellent results and saves lives.

What an amazing defense for torture. The Vietcong probably saved hundreds of lives on their sides by yanking the fingernails of American G.I’s for information. That doesn’t make it right.