Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?

I am exactly as old as Merle Haggard, that old "Okie" who tried, at about my age, to take a sleigh ride right back to the good old days "When a buck was still silver/Back when the country was strong/When a man would still work and still could", but:

"Are the good times really over for good?"

Haggard can be quite a social critic besides a constantly producing songwriter and singer.

"Wish a Ford or a Chevy could still last ten years as it should
Are the good times really over for good?"

For forty years, the country music legend has been kicking ass and making God laugh, and like me in an old codger mood, he don't need no stinkin’ sound check. I am hardly Merle Haggard, but I play music and write by the seat of my pants. After ten years on the road and three million words in print, I'm a lot like my sometime hero who once and again tries to be Babe Ruth, trying to repeat a great moment at the plate.

So again and again, I am trying, after a bankruptcy (like Merle Haggard’s), to relive that great moment when I got my first column, which went something like this:

"For the past ten years (after a decade of paganism), I have been clocking my fellow humans' sprint back to the dark ages..."

Well. It's been thirty years now and the dark ages have deepened.

"The captain is out to lunch and the crew has taken over," laments the great alternative comic book man, Robert Crumb, and it's certainly the case with Canada and more specifically Toronto, where seven people were gunned down in broad daylight during, of all things a Boxing Day sale, right in front of the Eaton Centre, the very heart of commercialdom. The crew is indeed taking over. The motley crew, and I'm not talking about rock.

The phenomenon goes right back to 1974, where Professor Irwin Thompson, of York University, first noticed, in an Atlantic magazine article, that in North American society, someone had shot the captain and the crew had taken over. One entire generation to see things go completely to hell not only in political Canada, but in a city once known as the world's first truly urban civilization. Marshall McLuhan's pal, Edmund Carpenter said that Toronto was the city of the future, and, sadly, we have gone the way of a Baltimore Ohio on the gangster twenties, and much later, the decaying Sixties. Small wonder that Merle Haggards "Okie from Muskogee" was such a hit.

Those of us just slightly ahead of the Baby Boomers are shaking our heads and seriously longing for the good old days of the Fifties.

But back in l985, Merle Haggard was already wondering, "Are the good timer really over for good?"

They are not really over for good in Edmonton and in Calgary, and even Saskatchewan, but they appear to be numbered here in Toronto, numbered unless we smarten up and get to the root causes of gang warfare with the same zeal we applied in the stupid war against cigarettes. Oh, that they could do, and how thoroughly they did it.

And now thoroughly hamstrung by what is surely stupidity in not realizing that Jamaica, say, has been exporting criminal gangs to Toronto for years. Chief Fantino nearly got a handle on it when he visited Kingston to get the lowdown on the gang situation in Toronto from another perspective, but he was the last smart copper.

So here we are, in dangerous Toronto, listening to old country songs on CHUM 1050, wondering, along with Merle Haggard, "Are the good times really over for good" as we try to shop, try to recover our youth, try for reentry through the wall of time, while "rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell" and wishing, along with the Ford Motor Company, "that a Ford could still last ten years as it should."

No doubt about it. The captain is out to lunch and the crew has taken over. It took two guys my age to tell the news.

And still we cannot break through the wall.

Cassandras have a way of dying.


Anonymous said...

Manners and treating others as you wish to be treated is a thing of the past, it seems. What motivated the shooters to start shooting in a Boxing Day crowd? What would make a Liberal to invite a whole province to perform oral sex on him? Why would he also say that parents are not to be trusted to bring up their children, and are in danger of spending discretionary government grants (which flow from the taxpayer) on popcorn and beer?

In the eighties the Toronto Police proposed to start a special police group to ward off activities by ethnic gangs. It was shouted down by emotional people who thought that immigrants could do no wrong, and there were no gangs, and bad guys were random, just like snowflakes. Same people that brought us one billion dollar and counting gun control. News flash: ethnic gang violence is here, and I doubt that even one of the guns used was registered.

"Any major world that falls apart will fall together again."
Steely Dan

I guess that is hope of a sort, but at what point is our world completely apart?


Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Shalom Aleichem.
And may good things happen to you, Doubting Thomas. And they are.

markfisher6287 said...

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Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Welcome markfisher.
Park ranger? Intriguing.
My former prof at Ryerson University started out as park ranger,then he got his PhD and started writing crime novels. Eric
Wright--ever hear of him?
He used to write out of Canada through Collins book publishers.
I will hit your site again for a through read.
...Just thinking of a book called Kerouac's Ghost, out of Canada too.
Seems a secondary character in that book was a park ranger too.
Funny thing.

Anonymous said...

Romeo is bleeding..am so f**ing angry that I could deal with this whole mess myself..your commentary was outstanding...what we really need is public hanging for the guilty and public whippings for ones with intentions...problem we all have is to wade through the muck and mire of absolutely and astoundigly stupid people who masquerade as caretakers of the public good...so many innocent people hurt and led astray by mindless politicians who don't give a rat's ass about anytying but votes...
ban the whole fucking works...ban cars, ban baseball bats, ban knives, ban glof clubs, ban booze, ban toast(it gets burned and could cause ill-humour), ban computers,ban houses (that's where the perps live) ban public transit
(the perps sometimes us it) ban bmw's (the perps favour these vehicles) f**ck it...ban breathing...
Fuck all the (local) white criminals.
Fuck all the Jamaican criminals.
How are all thes f**ckers any different from Bernardo and Homulka?...all we get is excuses blah blah blah blah...
This country is now beginning to look like it has really been given away... Let all these f**kers work on canada steamship lines.

I'm f**ing steaming.
mad dog

Bernita said...

Hi Ivan,
I couldn't find your post on my blog that my secret view finder said was there.
So I hunted you down.
Thank you.
A highly unlikely event about the cartoons - but thank you.

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Well, how cool is that? I'm not the New Yorker, but I'm certainly thinking of finding space for your cartoons somewhere.
Stay good and creative.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

The good times are never over, just moved to a new location. Politically nothing will change just as the voilence will grow. There is more to all this crap then what we are morally lacking and as of late that is just about everything.

Hell, what do i know. We spill our guts onto the ground in the hopes they will be seen and not just run over. Ha! but they are ignored and so when life gets worse we blame. we are all fools now aren't we.

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