Riot Night In Canada

Long-time readers of this blog are probably aware of how I feel about riots, and more importantly, their aftermath. But when Toronto lost its shit over the G20 summit almost exactly one year ago, as ridiculously unjustified as that was, it was at least over something important: the rights of citizens in their city. Oh, and politics, and the environment, and big corporations, and, uh… hipsters, or something.

So I don’t know if Vancouver is just trying to be Toronto (no surprises there), or if they really just take hockey way too seriously.  Either way, I earnestly implore my BC friends:

Come on guys. Really?

I don’t suppose it’ll mean much if I say it’s “just a game.” I get it- hockey is a big part of our culture, and watching a Canadian team lose to the Boston Bullies in a Stanley Cup final is a serious blow to our collective ego. But there are good hockey riots and bad hockey riots.

GOOD: When Toronto boy and former Timbit Sidney Crosby scored the gold-medal-winning goal in your fair city during the 2010 Olympics, the entire country took to the streets in celebration. Walking home that night along Yonge, I experienced the massive party in Yonge-Dundas square, saw the spontaneous parades marching proudly down the street, and heard buskers everywhere break out into our national anthem. It was a beautiful, glorious moment, and one that the Canadian hockey lover in all of has every reason to cherish.

BAD: This bullshit.

I admit, I don’t necessarily get the whole “hocky culture” of Canada. I grew up here, but I was born in the States, and my parents are from entirely different continents. But I am Canadian.

One of the proudest days of my life was receiving my Canadian citizenship. I like beer, bacon, and maple syrup, and when I get bumped into by a pushy stranger, I apologize. I believe that Canada is the best country on Earth, and deserves the respect and admiration of the world.

But you, rioting Vancouver Canucks fans. You’re just making us look bad.

We’re supposed to be better than this. Okay, I know, Toronto rioted last year too, but at least we had genuine grievances, and the overwhelming majority of us wanted nothing to do with those proceedings. I have yet to hear a single Vancouverite speak in defense of his or her city. Not that I’m saying that all Vancouverites are rioting douchebags- I know they’re not. I know that they don’t even necessarily all love hockey. But, well… here’s my thing with Vancouver:

I’ve known many people from Vancouver, and most of them have been very nice. Some have even been my friends. But I haven’t met one who didn’t move to Toronto in search of better opportunities in whatever they were trying to accomplish in their life, and then constantly complain about how much more stressful Toronto is, and whine that they wish they were back in BC. Torontonians are all cold and mean, apparently, and BC is some sort of hippy paradise where everyone smokes organic weed and hikes through mountains even though it’s raining but, you know, you just get used to it. Toronto’s too cold and our sushi is sub-par, and the lake is nice and all, but, you know, it’s not the ocean. And it’s loud and bright and crowded all the time. If only everything closed down at 5pm so you could spend more time fishing in your backyard. But hey, have you ever thought about why Toronto is so busy and crowded all the time? Because people move here looking for bigger and better opportunities. Just like you did! We have the best University, the biggest industry, the most happening arts and culture scene, and the multi-culturalist people in Canada. And when you have all that going on, you tend to stay out a little later. You tend to play your music a little louder. You are busier, and the places you go are more crowded. If you don’t like it, move back to the mountains. Oh wait, I forgot- many of you do, when you realize that you can’t hack it here. Your sunshiney disposition may be missed, but your superior attitude won’t.

Am I generalizing about the people of an entire city that I haven’t even been to since I was a kid? Yes, yes I am. But please understand that I don’t hate all Vancouverites- on the contrary, their relaxed go-with-the-flow attitudes can be a refreshing change (and they always have the best weed). Are they all like that? Of course not. But in my experience, yes. Some acclimate to their new environment quite nicely, and some don’t. Our cities just have different cultures, and I get that- I mean jeez, Toronto is supposed to be the most multi-ethnic city in the world. Surely we can tolerate a few Vancouverites?

But, of course, it isn’t just a few. It’s a lot. Sometimes, it seems like there are three types of Canadians: Torontonians who move to Vancouver to get away from the hustle and bustle and stress, and then complain that they’re bored and it rains all the time; Vancouverites who move to Toronto in search of bigger and better things, adventure, excitement, and a shot at making the big time, and then complain that it’s too fast-paced and hectic and they want to go home and curl up in their Native-Canadian-woven hemp blankie; and everyone else, who are from the maritimes or Winnipeg or something. Now, is this the very attitude that makes the rest of Canada hate Torontonians? Oh, hell yes. I freely admit that. And I don’t believe that that’s really the case- it’s just that the experience of living in Toronto necessarily narrows your vision until that’s how you see the rest of the country. Because, while it may not be true to the rest of our vast, great nation, it certainly is true here.

It’s the whiny, pretentious, entitled attitude that I object to. If you move to the city where everything happens because you want to be a part of the action, don’t complain that it’s more stressful than what you’re used to. Duh, of course it is– that’s why you moved here! People lead busy lives, and deal with other assholes every day. We’ve seen it all, and have become rightly cynical. Your wide-eyed wonder is adorable, but when you come to my home and list off all the reasons why the city that I love is inferior to the place you moved away from, then prepare for a demonstration of that famed Torontonian rage you’ve heard so much about.

You are not entitled to constant peace and quiet if you live in a big city. You are not entitled to great sushi if you move away from the ocean. You are not entitled to leisurely strolls if you are walking down Yonge street. And you are not entitled to a Stanley Cup if your team loses fair and square.

And yes, I’m sure there are dozens of technicalities that the referees “missed” or whatever (you want to talk about officiating conspiracies? Try talking to a Habs fan), but you lost, the Bruins won, deal with it. Vancouver, you often accuse Toronto of being a city full of assholes, but shit like this doesn’t happen over a goddamn hockey game here.

Of course, there are other reasons for that.

So I don’t know if you’re bored, making an attempt at badassery, or just trying to be like us, but in any case, get over yourselves, Vancouver Hockey Rioters. If you’re going to riot, do so over something like civil liberties, not over a hockey game. You’ll get another chance at the Cup next year, so live up to your reputation and CHILL THE FUCK OUT. Because you’re acting worse than bad Canadians right now. You’re acting like Americans.

And no one wants that.


PS: To all my dear British Columbian friends… um, I meant those other Vancouverites. Hugs!


Who Doesn’t Like a Big Dick? Aside from, well… Everyone.

In an exclusive lounge that you have to be uber-rich to get into, a patron approached the bar. The bartender- whom I shall assign a fake name to, and since it is my blog, that name will be “Optimus Prime“- naturally said “what can I get for you?” “Scotch” said Mr. Rich Douche (referred to from here on as “Rouche”). “Neat. No ice. I mean it. If you put ice in it, I will come behind that bar and beat you.” Optimus, who knew perfectly well what “neat” meant, gave him the type of smile that only customer service professionals know, the smile that says, “you are way out of line, but any appropriate response I can offer will cost me my job.” Optimus’ co-worker, who was closer to the scotch than she was, started pouring. You’d think that this would cause the Rouche to lose interest in our dear Ms. Prime, but you’d be wrong, and kind of an idiot. “Seriously,” Rouche said with what he probably considered a grave smile, but since that isn’t a thing, was just a creepy leer, “I can do it. I’m certified.”
“I’ll bet you are,” thought Optimus, but she only laughed. “Really,” he insisted, “I’m allowed. I’m legally entitled to beat you.” As Optimus wondered how any human being could possibly get off saying such a thing, Rouche winked. “Not like that,” he said. “More like a spanking. I’ll spank you.”
That wasn’t the last poor Optimus saw of the Rouche that night, but since it doesn’t get any better, I’ll spare you. But FYI, there is no official certification that grants you the right to assault another person who has done nothing to deserve it, just so you know.

See, the irony here is that Optimus had attended a mandatory Health and Safety meeting only two days before, outlining the new, extremely extensive Bill Amendment for Worker’s Rights, or some such nonsense. Some of these rights involved refusing work if one felt unsafe ( like for example, if a patron threatens violence or bodily harm against a worker), and the necessity of escorting such a patron outside the premises via security, even, in some cases, calling the police. Were any of these actions taken? Did you miss the part where he was rich?

When I rule the world, we will not need a 1,000 page document telling us how to not abuse people. We won’t need bills and laws defining exactly what constitutes discrimination, harassment, or assault. We won’t need procedures to be ignored in the case that something awful like this does happen, and we certainly won’t need to be told which words we are or aren’t allowed to find “offensive.” There will only be one law, one Sacred Commandment unto God and Man upon Earth:

Don’t be a dick.

Why is this so difficult to understand? Why is this rule so seemingly impossible for everyone to obey? Because some people are dicks. They apparently like being dicks. They are satisfied with being dicks, and why not? They get away with it.

Okay, I get that there might not be a clear consensus as to what does or does not constitute a “dick move.” But really? Are we really that unsure? Because it seems to me that the only people who would be defending a dick move as a non-dick move are themselves dicks.

Fine, the word “dick” may be offensive to some. Maybe it sounds like it’s just a male thing (it isn’t. Chicks can be dicks, but they’re not to be confused with she-males, who are chicks who have dicks). If you prefer “asshole,” “jerk,” “prick,” or, as situations warrant, “douche bag,” then be my guest. The point is, it’s the intent that counts.

And okay, we’re not telepathic (unless you’re Professor X, but then, if you are, you already know what I’m going to say, so why are you reading this?), so we can’t know what a person’s intent is. But the law is not to “catch someone being a dick.” It’s to not be a dick yourself. You are responsible for your own behaviour, no one else. If you find yourself justifying your actions, then you’re probably being a dick. If the reason you want to do something is because it’ll hurt someone else or make them uncomfortable (which maybe you get off on), then you’re definitely being a dick. Rules shouldn’t be about catching bad guys after they’ve broken them. They should be about taking responsibility for your own behaviour, and not breaking that rule in the first place. Law enforcement should be pro-active, not re-active. People shouldn’t be dicks.

Ms. Prime has a ripe sense of humour herself. She is not easily offended, and, like an eleven-year-old, giggles at the word “teabag.” She is the first to announce “that’s what she said!” after someone mentions fitting a large pole into a tight hole. Detailing exactly what words are or are not “appropriate” or “offensive” only serves to censor communication and construct barriers between people who are no longer free to express themselves, or share a laugh with another reasonable human being. It wasn’t that she found the word “spank” to be rude- it was that the Rouche wasn’t being funny. He wasn’t being carefree with someone whom he had built an understanding dialogue with. He said what he said because he likes to watch powerless people squirm. He threatens those who cannot defend themselves in order to feel like a big man. He thinks he’s entitled, thinks he’s better than you, and that he can get away with it. In short, he’s a dick.

If you’re just being yourself, laughing in the moment, sharing a joke with a friend, or even a stranger, then it shouldn’t matter what you say, because it’s coming from a genuine, friendly place. But if you are contriving a situation in which you are in a position to make another person feel inferior, and you justify it by assigning words like “certified” and “entitled” to yourself, then it doesn’t matter what you say- you’re a dick.

So, if you are not a dick, then congratulations. You may live in the New World, once it exists.

And if you are a dick… well, just stop it already.