Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Manitoba Links Weekly: Profit Before People Before Profit (ManLinkWeek 16)

How is it already--oh, hello there! Who's up for some ManLinkWeek?

I can't not open with this:

[Winnipeg Sun: 'People' back 'before profit' on North End sign]
This story also made Macleans, albeit with an ever-persistent popular misquote of the original sign. ('Before', not 'Over'.)

Let me just say this: if I wasn't so familiar and enamoured with the professional wrestling concept of the heel turn, I would hate how this story ended. Hate it! Haaaaate it. The tagline on the refurbished Nepon Autobody roof, underneath the familiar 'WELCOME TO THE NORTH END", is now going to be -- wait for it -- "NEPON PUTS PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT", which is just, wow, ick, blegh, ugh. I was quite profoundly put off by this the first time I read it, because I wasn't yet conceptualizing it in its hilarious screw-you-all framework.

Leslie Nepon owns Nepon Autobody, a store that years ago had its roof defaced by some still-unidentified lugan -- is it properly spelled 'lugan' or 'loogan'? It doesn't appear in dictionaries in either form, so I suppose there is no proper spelling, but I digress -- some lugan who spraypainted "PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT" atop it for reasons that elude everybody to this day. The phrase would become an accidental slogan for the entire neighbourhood and popularly overshadow anything else her shop might be known for, to the point that most people only recognize the building as the People Before Profit roof.

Then when the roof needs to be redone, and the owner finally gets to rid herself of the slogan, the calls and letters and personal visits begin flooding in from locals about how important the phrase is and how much it means to everybody and how badly it needs to be returned to its rightful place. I particularly enjoy the Macleans article describing Nepon as "Cracking under pressure", like this is all happening now because we pushed her too far until she finally just snapped and started wailing on her head mechanic with a steel folding chair.

So this beloved phrase, this piece of local psychogeography hailed by media reports as "a positive message" and "an unofficial slogan for the area" and "a symbol of hope" -- a symbol of hope! -- will be instead reborn as a cynical company catchphrase, an outcome that absolutely nobody wanted. And that's my favourite part! The public -- which is to say, people -- wanted the slogan returned as it was before, and instead the owner is twisting it to further her business -- which is to say, profit. Adding "NEPON PUTS" in front of "PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT" purposefully puts profit before people, invalidating the whole line from the very second it is written. That is brilliant. Holy hell. Get a load of that.

This is nothing less than a masterclass of irony and spite, and you can tell that it's spite because of how much work it involves -- not only more work than leaving the space blank, but more work than putting the original line back up. So I hated it, and then I understood it, and now I love it for the vindictive iconoclasm it represents; I love it because of how much it wants me to hate it, which is difficult to explain to anybody who didn't watch professional wrestling as a kid. And when the graffiti artist puts the new, George-Lucas-esque-'remastered' slogan up onto the roof in the spring, I hope every interview with local media about it is just the owner grabbing their microphones away from them and cutting promos on us all. "THERE IT IS! THERE'S YOUR 'PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT'! ARE YOU ALL HAPPY NOW? HUH? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED?"

Ha ha ha ha, I just spent six hundred words writing about a five-word phrase. Okay, moving on!

[Arlington Bridge turning 100 (to the Taxi theme !)]
Happy 100th Anniversary, Assiniboine Bridge! I'm going to be so pissed off when the City inevitably knocks it down.

[Sleepless in St. Vital: Bridge in St. Vital still Just an Idea]
Speaking of things that bug me, man alive, what kind of person opposes a footbridge? NOT IN MY BACK... NEARBY... RIVER... SPACE

For all of the ridiculous and unnecessary projects we commit capital to in this city, you would think it shouldn't be as hard as it apparently is to put up some frigging pedestrian bridges and let people get across the rivers. If I'm standing on Churchill Drive and looking across at St. Mary's Road, my options for getting there are to 1) get in a car and drive twenty minutes, crossing via the Norwood Bridge, or 2) get in a car and drive twenty minutes, crossing via the St. Vital Bridge. I can see St. Mary's Road across the river, it's right there, honestly how hard does this have to be.

This is a maddeningly common problem all across the city, because we built the city along two rivers and then just assumed we'd only rarely want to cross them. How much does a footbridge even cost? The one that they're proposing for this route had better be crazy expensive, or I'm going to be really cheesed off that we didn't build dozens and dozens of them for less than the cost of three and a half kilometers of road.

[Sam Unconstrained: Sidetrack: FRC in the news]
The whole small-town everybody-knows-everybody atmosphere of Winnipeg leads to a lot of uncomfortable situations like this one, like you find out you're living down the street from a family whose kid killed another kid in the neighbourhood, or you find out that one of your coworkers got arrested for dealing cocaine or starting fires or beating their own grandmother to death or what have you. And there are only so many schools in the city, so even when the dates don't quite align up you'll still get questions like "Did you ever know Daniell Anderson?" and have to be like, no, Mom, I don't know that guy.

So here is one such situation, and everybody involved has had their reputation torpedoed, and there isn't much else to add to that until or unless further details emerge.

[HOT 103: Stuff Nobody in Winnipeg Says! (via Alex Reid)]
The Shit People Say meme apparently hasn't hit its saturation point yet -- somehow -- but then, I'm the idiot who does an advice animals meme, so obviously I enjoy and appreciate local variations on internet themes when they arise. (The beer joke is by far my favourite, although the Lagimodiere gag got me pretty good too.)

[The Winnipeg RAG Review: Caroling Manufactroversy Part I: Presumption of Guilt]
Hey, do you remember that thing about the $200 grant for Christmas carolers? No? Well, you might not have heard about it, I mean, there wasn't really any media focus on it or anything.

Stuff Nobody in Winnipeg Says!

[ForgetfulCollector YouTube: 1970s Old dutch potato chips ad]
Anyway, enough of all that, here's an old radio ad for potato chips.

"Old Dutch Potato Chips are the tastiest snack that ever turned on a party, a snack tray, or a main course."

Ha ha, so optimistic! Hoping that listeners will go to the store, bring home a big bag of Old Dutch chips, and just dump it all over the side of their dinner plate.

I also love the caveat inherent in the line "Old Dutch Salt and Simulated Vinegar", like it wouldn't have been until the late 1980s or whatever that the rules were loosened and you could get away with not having real vinegar in your vinegar-flavoured product. And shoutouts to the saxophone player, trying so hard! Making the best of the situation, that guy.

I know I say this almost every time, but this week I'll definitely do my best to produce some non-ManLinkWeek content. And if I don't, well, uh... see you next Tuesday!


Jacinta said...

Your roundup makes me smile as usual. Seriously, this is the funnest "news aggregator" Winnipeg has! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

The story about the footbridge from St.Vital to U of M was hilarious.On the Freep site comments some goof that lives in St.Vital does not believe it is an affluent suburb. Ha Ha Ha!
- Signed, Everywhere Else.

Anonymous said...

I think the word you're looking for is 'hooligan'