Thursday, March 31, 2011

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: Tell Us About Her, Shayla! (plus: Our Civic Left is Useless)

I come to you as a man under the weather, with a persistent cough, but also as a man with revelations to share. Important ones! Yes, I come to you now with a civic improvement plan so powerful, so visionary yet so necessary, that... that I won't even be telling you about it yet, because it deserves its own post. So it will have to wait, rather than get lost in the shuffle of everything else I insist on dropping on you today.

I was tantalizingly, agonizingly, maddeningly close to permanent employment these past few weeks; you can't see me through the medium of text, but I am holding my thumb and index finger very closely together to indicate how close I was to landing that job. Alas! Alas, I remain an unemployed fellow still. And I figure: what's the best way to keep yourself busy when you're unemployed? Work yourself to death anyway! Right! I'm glad we're on the same page with this one.

So I've been busy, as late, even besides my exploding into a cinematic fireball inches away from the finish line of gainful careering. I've been web editing, daily blogging, column writing, radio discoursing, vinyl chasing, playing video games competitively because that is a real thing that people do (I was the third best Marvel player citywide last tournament, which, hey, that's pretty okay), and then of course applying for other openings in my field as well just on the off chance that someone might want to pick up a late-season free agent. On top of all that, there are also a couple other upcoming projects that my furious fingers and velvety voice are involved in -- but I'm going to be coy about those, for now, just so's I don't jinx them.

And now I'm sick, somehow. Yeah, I don't know either. But, as I'd mentioned above, I may be sliding slowly into an extended period of illness; mine is not a cough that is going away, and I've seen more than one person get blitzkrieged by insane waylaying death flu already this season. So let's crank out some backlogged content while I'm still up and at 'em, then move into our record feature for this fine day.

Now, y'all know I love, love, love federal elections, so the combative surrealism of the campaign's first few days here has warmed my heart like few things can. But there's still going to be another five and a half weeks of this yet for me to get my Fed on, and honestly I intend to be the only person not sick of the whole thing halfway through. So there'll be plenty of time to ruminate on national matters; first things first, before federal competition drives our civic discourse completely underground, there was one hilarious and insane and awful local news story I want to note for posterity.

So let us all now gather 'round, and reminisce on why and how:

Our Civic Left is Useless

Don't worry, guys, they came up with a plan. A really good plan. This plan will knock your socks off with its excellence in design and execution, so well did it go.

Our opposition councilors had suffered in silence for too long! Marginalized and disaffected by their comparative lack of numbers against that mean ol' Sam Katz and his small-c conservative cronies, they decided that the time had come to band together and rise up as one against the Mayor's dread machine!

Aghast at what they believed to be an unsustainable, unsupportable, unconscionable civic operating budget, these brave men and women took up arms and took their message to... the people! Combining in a united front that the civic left and centre-left had been unable to form for years (whatever did happen to that Winnipeg Citizens' Coalition stuff? Remember that noise? Man, there's a blast from the past), and rallying under the simple but effective cry of "NO WAY SAM", these councillors took their message to the big time with a media barrage through both traditional and new media outlets. Shady dividend diversions of water and sewer revenue? Regressive, not-a-property-tax-because-we-don't-call-it-a-tax frontage levies? Higher fees on 177 of 178 recreation services? NOT ON THEIR WATCH. NO WAY, SAM.

Yes, these were heady times indeed for this brave band of opposition councillors; this strong, united approach with a solid singular media message and a concerted focus on holding the Mayor accountable for his actions was exactly what they should have been doing all along! Now was the time to be rid of him once and for all, and you knew that Mayor Katz had to have been quaking in his boots, since this powerful and timely collective refutation of his politics shrewdly blindsided him as the Civic Election was just around the cor...

...just around the...


are you kidding me

okay seriously when does this even

Almost six months later? That's when they brought out the heavy artillery, the unified stand, the hearts-and-minds campaign to rally against Sam Katz? That... wow. Really, guys, that's... that just... half a year later, huh?


I know you're not going to believe this, this ending, but ultimately the budget passed comfortably by a vote of ten to six. (I dare say you may be able to guess which six.) The much-touted Facebook page for "No Way, Sam" was quietly disassembled afterwards, and has since been scattered forever to the information superhighway winds of time -- leaving only a trail of orphaned links and the brief media furor of councillors combining to reach out to voters six months after the vote.

And the cherry on top, the pièce de résistance, the standout point that you would swear was unbelievable if I presented it to you as fiction?

Behold as I beheld:

"'The Sam Katz budget hits working families hard,' the ad claims, before urging listeners to call the mayor's office.

"The phone number listed in the ad, however, is incorrect."

. . . what

"The same wrong number is listed on a Facebook page called No Way, Sam."

wait, no


"'If you're spending taxpayers' dollars on commercials, at least take the time to get the number right. This shows you how often some of these councillors call me,' Katz quipped (. . . .) 'This is a $1-billion budget and they can't even get seven digits right.'"

i don't even

this seriously

how do you

In conclusion, our civic Left is useless.

So, with Election Day 2014 only three and a half years away (and boy, that'll go like nothing), let's all of us kill a bit of time with the newest release from the Slurpees and Murder Record Club! (Remind me also to whip up some title art for this feature, or something. There's gotta be an easier segue for these.)

I am nothing if not honest and transparent, so I will level with you readers fair: I am continually fascinated by what the download traffic ends up being when I put something up, and I will tell you straight-up that the last record I presented here bombed hard. Hard by my standards! That is some hard bombing.

I did go in knowing, admittedly, that the Christ croonings of the Steinbach set from half a century back was probably not going to be the master key to mass appeal. (I still say you should give the download a shot, though; I think as little of organized religion as anybody, but you have to admit that the music was still pretty good until they finally tried to fuse it with that new 'popular music'.) Still, it's not a particularly well-kept secret that the field of curious, long-forgotten, totally-out-of-print Manitoba records is... shall we say, over-represented by certain genres.

When I make that statement, I mean it -- to the point that I'm convinced our entire local recording industry, from the invention of vinyl right up until sometime in the late 1970s or so, must have been circulating forms like this:

And then, if you handed the form back, and the paper had two or more checks on it, you got to make a record. That was it; that was the process, no further questions asked. If the percentages of my vinyl piles are any indication, this is the long and and the short of how music worked.

So, as mentioned, the Jesus noise didn't really fly too well -- but what fate awaits our vast local archives of relentlessly talented, cheerfully ethnic artists and bands? Well, only one way to find out, I say.

The takeaway from the preamble above is to strap yourself in and get ready for some old-timey-North-End-chase-scene music, because I'm about to test your threshold for Klezmer:

Finjan - Where Were You Before Prohibition? (1985, cassette)
[bio of their violinist | bio of their... producer? | no artist page or myspace or facebook or nothing, although they're on rhapsody of all places | nobody out there sells this album at all, but you can buy a rerelease of their last album on, so totally do that | and apparently they're still out there, good on 'em; hope they don't mind this quarter-century repost ]

I for one think that this album is pretty awesome, although I'll grant that this sort of tuneage may be more up my alley than yours. But, yo, you know I wasn't kidding about that chase-scene bit; if you listen to Freilach #3, Hoben Mir a Niggundel, or the title track, and you can't picture a bunch of dudes in suspenders and fedoras chasing each other up and down McGregor in the 1920s, then you and I got nothing to say to each other.

Next post, however, I intend to have plenty to say! (Bam! Segue!) It won't be tomorrow, because that's April Fools' and you would all just assume I'd be messing with you. Soon, though -- soon you'll know what must be done, and what we as a city must do. So be prepared, true believers!


Marty said...

The story I was told was that the incorrect phone number for the Mayor was given by ...

As to the musical selection today, Finjan I know some of the players, and it/they are awesome.

Colin said...

This post dovetails neatly into my thesis that nobody knows how to run anything anymore.

The Analyst said...

The Civic Left aren' the only ones to get Katz's number wrong. The Mayor himself made that mistake last civic election:

Anonymous said...

Kinzey Posen taught me how to play bass guitar. Great guy.