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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 01.15.06

RICKY BLUE

The Year that was

The big international story this year was Iraq. In June they got al-Zarqawi. He was famous for: "Necks, Knives and Videotape."

He would send a beheading video to Al-Jazeera. They would air it and everyone in the Middle East would get off. Call it Islamic Porn. And we think the Michael Richards video was offensive.

News reports said that at the time al-Zarqawi was accompanied by his spiritual advisor: Who was that: Beelzebub?

Around about the same time, seventeen homegrown terrorists were arrested in Toronto. One of their plots was to take over the CBC to broadcast their message. But, given the CBC's normal anti-American bias, would anyone have noticed?

I hope we don't have anything to worry about here in Quebec. If al-Qaeda hit us where could they possibly hurt us? Oh yes: the Liquor Board.

The NDP voted to retreat from Afghanistan. I heard an Albertan say: "The NDP used to be the green party now they're the yellow party." But maybe the NDP has the right idea.

Afghanistan is fast becoming the new Iraq. And news reports say that Iraq is already experiencing a huge brain drain - anybody with any brains is leaving. Are you reading this, Mr. President? (Like George W. Bush reads my column, eh?).

He doesn't have an exit strategy!

Israel had the same problem this fall when they were suckered into Lebanon by Hezbollah. Which reminds me; if Quebec separates, will the Canadian government spend as much money to get Canadians out of Quebec as they spent getting Canadians out of Lebanon?

Everyone needs an exit strategy. I'm taking the kids to Wal-Mart. But do you have an exit strategy? I'm going on a date. You need an exit strategy. Before you get married you should have an exit strategy. Before you start up a business, have an exit strategy. If you go to a Christmas party you must have an exit strategy. And if you go on stage you should definitely plan your exit. (Michael Richards, again).

Recently the Canadian government formally recognized the Québécois nation; who have been planning their exit for thirty years. Maybe this recognition is part of it. But what about the Anglos? We may live on the reservation but we're not part of the nation.

Everybody thinks we're just a bunch of rich whiners, so we are ignored by Quebec City, ignored by Montreal, and if push came to shove we know the Canadian government's support for us would melt faster than a polar icecap in an Al Gore documentary.

Partition is our only exit strategy. But before that could happen, would Quebec have to pass a resolution in the National Assembly recognizing Canada as a nation?

Those of us who are both Canadians and Quebecers, are we now multinationals?

And speaking of multinationals, the federal Liberals complain that Stephen Harper is in the pocket of the multinationals, but yet we find out that their new leader, Stéphane Dion, actually is a multinational. (Imagine the uproar if it was revealed that Stephen Harper had an American passport).

As expected all our taxes went up. George W. Bush may have "the axis of evil," but we have "the taxes of evil." That should be on signs at the U.S. border: "Welcome to Quebec, heaviest-taxed jurisdiction in North America (Just be glad you don't live here)."

The West Island continues to be plundered by the City of Montreal. It is so bad that the de-merged towns have boycotted the abomination council; but they say don't worry because whether they attend it or not makes no difference. Now there's a testimonial to the usefulness of that clumsy fourth level of government. Maybe the West Island needs an exit strategy.

Downtown, they had 40,000 signatures on a petition not to change the name of Park Avenue. Here on the West Island we have 20,000 signatures on a petition not to pave over the Dorval golf course. Yet the people who are paying the taxes continue to be ignored by those paid with the taxes.

It's like a Monty Python sketch: taxpayers pay for their own abuse.

But the celebration of a new year always includes some hope that the next one will be better. I'd like to believe that, but I've seen so many new years now. I remember when Stanley Kubrick's film 2001, a Space Odyssey was set in the future. I remember when George Orwell's novel 1984 was set in the future. But I do have an exit strategy: News Year's Eve it will be a bottle of Mums (if al-Qaeda doesn't hit the SAQ first).

One of the most enduring predictions of George Orwell's 1984 was his description of 'newspeak,' the control of words by the state in order to control thought. Today, the struggle to control words is everywhere.

In a classic 'big brother' move last week the government of Canada denied cigarette companies the right to call any of their own products 'light' or 'mild,' implying that Canadians are not sensible enough to know that cigarettes so marked can kill them just as quickly as 'regulars.'

The Liberal Party of Canada is facing a major crisis because one of its leadership candidates suggested calling Quebec a "nation" in spite of the fact that more than one third of Quebec residents don't regard themselves as part of this so-called nation.

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay is attempting to rename Park Avenue over the protests of the people who populate it. This autocratic act was compounded by a condescending but remarkably revealing e-mail from the mayor's office labeling protestors as "neo-Montrealers."

The idea that same-sex couples can be "married" is still being resisted almost everywhere in spite of much official authorization. It seems that many ordinary people simply don't think it's true. Official organizations always facing this vexing problem: they can decree a change, but that doesn't guarantee that the public will accept it.

I first noticed this fight over words during the intense politicization of language known as 'political correctness.' This mostly academic movement theorized that by changing definitions you could change perceptions, and thereby change the world. So they created a universe of new labels to replace the old.

It began as well-intended, as in its attempt to create a new perception of victimized groups. 'Handicapped' people became 'physically challenged' and then 'differently-abled.' 'Coloured people' became 'black people' then 'Afro-Americans' and finally full circle back to 'people of colour.'

But somewhere along the line the spinning of words for political purposes got out of hand. For instance, notice how both sides of the abortion issue try to appear positive. Anti-abortionists don't want to seem "anti" anything so they call themselves pro-life. Pro-abortionists don't want to seem that they are in against life so they call themselves pro-choice.

Personally, I support both life and choice. So which side am I on?

Quebec separatists have softened their image by calling themselves "Quebec soveriegnists," even though they still want to separate Quebec from Canada. But "separatist" sounds like the kind of person who would start a civil war.

Environmentalists determined to stop suburban development in its tracks have managed to re-label swamps, notorious breeding grounds for snakes and mosquitoes, into ecologically correct and government protected 'wetlands,' notorious breeding grounds for snakes and mosquitoes.

It wasn't long until the commercial sector joined the fray. Soon there was no such thing as a 'used car,' only a 'pre-owned' one. I guess 'used' sounds, well, used. Funeral homes now refer to themselves as 'dignity providers.' And graves sound friendlier as a 'final disposition.'

Real estate agents feel no qualms about calling a hovel a 'fixer-upper.' Chairs too fragile to sit in have become valuable 'antiques.' And objects destined for the junkyard have become 'collectibles.'

On television I have heard re-runs referred to as: 'previously enjoyed episodes.' I suppose it won't be long until vomit is referred to as 'previously enjoyed pizza.' But I am an optimist. I have complete confidence in our language to survive this onslaught.

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