Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Buying Jeans

This is my experience of going to Champlain Place to buy pants tonight:

First off, from outside it looks glorious. One story high (can't be two, it's built on marshland) and encompassing an entire city block, Champlain Place is home for all of Greater Moncton's shopping needs. From what I've heard from the not so locals, it's also a place that people travel from all around the maritimes to shop at.... I'm not kidding.

When I first walked in, I was greeted with significant signage which explained to me that "Love starts here". It's also on the front page of their website.

I was happy to see that malls had cut out the psycho-babble bullshit and just started to give it to people straight: "If you really love these people - you need to buy more shit". Thankfully, there was no shortage of maritime people ready to oblige and prove their love. I was on a hunt for jeans. I'd recently realized that all but one pair of mine had holes in the knees. This isn't a look I mind - however my workplace takes some issue with it. Apparently, the mall was busy. I don't notice this since the busiest maritime mall day doesn't come close to a weekend at the Eaton Centre, so I plowed through the "crowds" and went looking for some jeans.

I started at H&M because... well the only reason I can think of is that I hate myself. Of course, H&M is the company that sells things at absurdly low prices, and you'll be hard pressed to find any of it made in North America. I'd decided that I would place my morals aside given my lack of pants for work this week. Could I really wear the same jeans all week? Probably... but I shouldn't. I never did find any jeans in H&M that had the appropriate effect on my ass, and therefore I moved toward the exit. It was at this point that I found a black brimmed hat that my love and I had been toying with the idea of. As always, she was right - and I looked pretty awesome in it. I pushed the thoughts of the Chinese workers who made it to the back of my (so-called) mind and got in line. My friend who was accompanying me noted how you really can't find clothes made anywhere but China or Indonesia now-a-days. I thought that would be a good time to start loudly discussing how purchasing decisions are made around price almost exclusively  in our modern world - and that until consumers become smarter (*chortle*) or the government takes action (*doublechortle*) then we'll continue to purchase all our goods from companies who keep manufacturing overseas. We will have a massive trade deficit and keep destroying the social fabric we spent the last century creating - but damn it we'll look good and have stuff. That's really what's important. Didn't you see the sign coming in? Stuff is love, and if stuff is cheap (who cares if it's made by slaves or not) we'll all have lots of love. No one in the line of course had any interest in this discussion - as they were browsing the bins near the cash for deals on various socks.

It was at this time that I realized there were about eight of us in line, and one cash open. This isn't a ratio that works for me, so we left and went to The Gap. I'll admit I never really had the intention of buying anything here, I just wanted to see what fashion atrocities they were shilling this month. Chords, appeared to be the name of the game. As I noted to my friend, "Chords or the pants that are ALWAYS out of style within 18 months of making their come back". Sure, if you want to hold onto the pants for a decade you can get a good run out of them, but otherwise jeans will always be a better option.

After this, we happened on a store called "Pantorama". I noticed almost immediately that the people in there were either douche bags, or mentally disabled. I'm sure some people think you can't figure this out from an employee just saying "Hey guys", but sometimes you need to trust your gut. Once we got near the "Affliction" t-shirts, my friend said, "We need to go, now." He was right. "I hear if you get too close to those shirts you go blind... from douchiness". I couldn't find any flaws in his logic and left as quickly as possible.

At this point, the friend got food and I went to American Eagle. I had decided skinny jeans were the way to go. It appeared that there were three staff members, and what I can only assume was a bitch of a mother trying to find jeans for her sons. The staff showed her the skinny jeans and she shook her head in displeasure as she explained, "The thighs aren't big enough. They have very large thighs. Not that they're fat, no no, my boys are muscular hockey players. Big thighs." When she was directed to try a section over for wider legged pants, her mind changed pretty quickly and said that perhaps these skinny jeans would do. I'm not sure if she was trying to talk up her sons to the young ladies in hopes of finding them a life-mate, or if she just feels the need to explain the thigh width of her sons to all retail people - but one thing was obvious by her verbal and body language: These retail women would have to do her bidding for as long as she required, no matter how nonsensical or idiotic her requests or soliloquies may be. This is potentially the worst kind of person in western society. The one who, unless given some distinct personal gain to be had by kindness toward a stranger, will treat the stranger like shit.

I brought two pairs of jeans toward the fitting room. I don't want to say American Eagle management at this mall is racist, but I found it telling that the only black employee was stuffed in the back and probably working harder than everyone else in the store combined. I found a pair that fit, and had the appropriate impact on my ass. As I left the fitting area I brought back the pair I didn't want along with the plastic number assigned to me when I entered the fitting rooms. I wished the young lady a good evening and she smiled at me as if I was the first person to talk to her that day then offered me what appeared to be a sincere thank you. I can only imagine the mental abuse that goes along with working at American Eagle... and I hate myself a little right now for supporting their soulless product.

Then I went to Starbucks. Starbucks I'm sure is just as soulless a corporation as the next one, yet I still find myself gravitating toward the peppermint mocha when needed. Soul sucking corporation they may be, I know enough people who have worked there and rave about their social responsibility that I'm able to trick myself into consuming their product.

At this point I tried to engage in some retail therapy. See, my mother has been perpetually bitching about not getting enough face time with me. Not enough phone calls. I've made an effort since returning from vacation to make plans with her to have one of these phone calls - and had agreed on this evening to be the time for it. She notified me 15 minutes later than our agreed upon time that this conversation couldn't take place as she had more shopping to accommodate. It is close to Christmas after all, and as the mall had pointed out to me love starts with shopping. If that's where love starts, I'd like to know where phone calls fall on that list. Apparently I was/am hurt over this and managed to fool myself temporarily that trying to fit in with the rest of the world and buying shit to create joy would fix the issue. I proceeded to Game Stop, reached for the new COD game and moved toward the cash. It didn't feel right though. Was I really buying this game because I felt like it was worth sixty dollars and I'd get my monies worth out of it? No. I was buying it because my friends had it - wanted me to buy it, and I wanted some kind of acceptance since clearly my family wasn't going to be providing it to me on this day. Once I realized this, I found myself verbalizing my thoughts. "No. Fuck that. No no no. Fuck this shit. Fuck it" and I put the game back. My friends looked at me as if I'd grown two additional heads. I wandered through two more outlets (pun intended) looking for something to purchase that I could justify as wanting and needing while feeling normal about fitting into our socially accepted retail therapy. It didn't happen.

I returned to H&M which only had two people in line. I got the hat, stood there and ignored those around me while I looked through the bins of socks. I paid and the cashier wished me a happy holiday as I left. I found myself feeling nothing but disdain for her. She'd done nothing wrong, and I was ready to throw a shirt rack at her. I was disappointed in myself for this childish emotional response and left.

This holiday season I've tried to be more merry. Christmas as an exercise in consumerism and religion absolutely disgusts me. There's something to carry with us throughout the year in the messages of "Peace on earth" and "Goodwill toward men" though. As such I have tried to grab on to those themes. I don't think I did a very good job tonight, really. Tomorrow is another day, though.

Monday, 12 December 2011

An Open Reply To Christie Blanchford

Dear Christie,

You wrote a nice little opinion piece on Saturday. It seems quite popular because still today you're trending on the top of the National Post site, and haven't written anything since.

It would be my hope that you're not paid to write ever again.

It's clear while reading this that you've gone out of your way to ensure I'm not able to call you a homophobic bigot. You mention on several occasions that you don't have anything against gay men as a group. I'm impressed by your efforts to ensure that no one misinterpret your "Ick!" feeling as homophobia by proclaiming your adoration for gays "as a group".  I hope I'm not mischaracterizing your reaction to the young males hugging. I just figured "Ick!" is close enough to "Mortified and appalled".

I'm not entirely sure what it was that you were intending to connect between the dots of boys hugging each other, and the TDSB declining to hand out UFC propaganda, or I may just find the entirety of the logic in this article incomprehensible. This might be my age, or left leaning moral compass, or you might not make any sense.

[Sidenote: How did you get that 5th paragraph past your editor? That was about as big a cluster fuck as I've ever seen. I'm assuming you meant UFC in the 6th paragraph as well, because otherwise I have no way of knowing what the hell you're talking about here. ]

As best I can tell, you have some form of personal bias for men who are more traditional, at least in the sense of their lack of what's traditionally called the "feminine" side. I'd argue that perhaps these masculine and feminine sides are not so much a form of basic nature but of a millenia's worth of socializing. I wouldn't go so far as to accuse you of having the completely archaic view that men are the strong, tough, controlling and capable counterparts to their weak, subservient female partners of marginal value. To do so would be an over simplification of your already simplified ideals.

What it appears you'd like most is for your traditional expectations of a man to be met. Essentially trying to ensure that we fit into some kind of man box.

I'm also curious - how far should we take this expectation of a man? For example, if a 12 year old has a particularly "girlish" voice should he be ridiculed in school? I'm assuming you wouldn't have him beaten (we save that for the bullies, as they are so rarely victims of violence elsewhere) but we'd still mock him right? No? Is the expectation that the child make an effort to speak in a lower voice? Would this child just end up in the "loser pile" of the far right thinking "winners and losers" society? Clearly, some men or boys will not be born into the box you desire them to fit into. What should we do with them, exactly? May I suggest reeducation camps? I know we wouldn't want tax-payer dollars going to gay positive education, but surely we could use some for classes to get these sissies to man-up.

This article encourages violence and further perpetuates the traditional gender roles that have restricted both sexes. I'd like to see your article next week on the Toronto woman's inability to fit the traditional model. In fact, I'm personally displeased with you - specifically the haircut shown in your picture. This is not the appropriate length of a woman's hair. I personally feel like far too many women are employed and would be better served to be at home cooking, especially during the holiday season.

All jokes aside Mrs. Blatchford, the world has changed. The generation in schools now were born in the 90s where most of their parents had already figured out that both sexes were equal. In fact, being a child of the late 80s early 90s in Toronto I like to think I was part of one of the first generations to go through the school system recognizing that sex, race, or orientation should have no influence on the person you turn out to be. I'd like to think that the world of under 40s is increasingly disinterested in fitting into whatever box is set out in front of them and is instead developing a more well rounded and emotionally mature group mentality.

This article is the equivalent of an over aged white decrying the blacks being allowed in the same store as them. The rest of the city has moved on, even if you, The National Post, or other such dinosaurs have not.


Charles Hollyer, OPEM
Openly Proud Effeminate Male

Thursday, 1 December 2011

You Win, Stephen

After a freedom of information request today by The Toronto Star it's been discovered that not only was Peter McKay full of shit in his "training exercise" excuse for the use of the rescue helicopters - but they were also warned ahead of time that it would likely turn into a PR nightmare. With that in mind they of course set it "Under the guise of... a search and rescue operation". These emails also outline how there were actually two other options discussed, neither of which would have been a search and rescue operation. So if the entire point of this exercise was to display the search and rescue capabilities, why were two of the options not search and rescue options? 

Of course we know that wasn't the point at all. It was a glorified taxi ride.

Surely, being the Minister of Defense it's not completely unreasonable to think this was for something important like an impending war or whatnot. OH! It must have been right at the start of the Libyan conflict, right? Well.... wrong. It was to get him to a photo-op on time. Of course this was a very important announcement covered by all kinds of news media, right? A search on Google News for this time frame provided me with one result (that was public and not a press release cut&paste) from the London Free Press. My favorite part of this story has got to be that there was already another cabinet minister there. They had to order the helicopter to get the minister to an event that a federal minister was already attending and got news coverage in exactly ONE city. In the next election two of the three seats in London went Conservative so surely the tax dollar usage was worth it. 

When asked about why his previous story made no sense in the house today, Mr. MacKay reiterated his old story. Which leads me to this article by Lawrence Martin

I'm increasingly disgusted by how the government will not answer questions. I didn't watch the Grey Cup, but I have a nice little mental image of how all this looked. Mostly because I've seen the last 10 Super Bowls and they do the exact same thing. The Americanization of our once great country is not only troubling to me... it's terrifying. The man in charge is the same man who thought we should have gone to Iraq. There are lots of middle eastern countries pissing each other off (as usual) and a shit-ton of Republican candidates that would love to bomb something. Two years from now when a Republican is leading his nation into an ill-conceived war with Mr.Harper following closely behind with his 1500 communications staffers and stealth snow mobiles... there's really no witty finish to that. It's fucking terrifying how realistic that scenario is. 

So Stephen, you win. I'm just going to stop paying attention. Clearly you don't want an open government, or an honest dialogue with your citizens. Most of the country stopped paying attention long ago. I'll join them.