"No? Just me? This guy knows what I'm talking about."

Barry Crimmins, presente

We’ve lost a giant. Barry Crimmins was an unbuyable, untameable comedy legend who resisted not only political & cultural repression, but was also unassimilable to the market that they serve. There was no harmless, marketable version of Barry Crimmins. Unlike network “satirists,” he resisted bloodthirsty tyrants and the architects of genocide, rather than goofing around with them. He led a life of incredible pain, but he left a legacy not only of his own work, but a community of comedians whom he helped to bring together. He elevated the craft. Opening for Barry Crimmins was a great honour for me — and he was unsentimental, irascible, & grouchy the whole night; still, he offered a warm kindness after the show. He was in a lot of pain that night, physical & emotional. He was real. Read his wonderful book, or watch the documentary his friend Bobcat Goldthwait made about him, to get a sense of who we’ve lost, & how much he did. Barry Crimmins presente, ahora y siempre. Rest in well-earned peace. ✊🏼🎤❤️

Ten years ago, I got the most difficult assignment I ever had in my freelancing career: read the memoirs of Ron Joyce, the right-wing force behind Tim Hortons. It’s still probably the worst book I ever read. But I’m pretty proud of how li’l 27-year-old me’s review turned out.

I think those of us on the Canadian left should be really, deeply encouraged by the massive backlash against Tim Hortons this week; it’s maybe the best cultural sign yet that something significant has shifted in the national mood. A decade ago, Tim Hortons was using the carnage in Afghanistan as a Canadiana branding opportunity, & nobody said anything. For years, it’s been the Conservatives’ favourite faux-populist marker of “real” Canadians (against the effete urban snobs who drink Starbucks); that worst of all popular worlds of fake blue collar culture with no working class politics. Canada is a lot slower, & temperamentally (not necessarily politically) conservative than many other countries. So while they get Jeremy Corbyn, we get Justin Trudeau. But anyone keeping the pulse of the unfolding reaction to this story, this week, would see that even sleepy, icy Canada is not immune to the charms of international resurgent labour politics.

New Dispatch

Ballad of the David Frum Re-Tweet

(sung to the tune of “Oh What a Night” by the Four Seasons)

Oh what a war!

Early spring back in 2003

Intensely mendacious times for me

But lies are how you start a war

Oh what a war!

Several hundred thousand people dead,

Strung Saddam Hussein up by his head,

Still so much was left in store


Got its start from what I helped begin

What a sin!

And I

Helped start civil wars no one could win

Oh what a war!

But centrist punditry is such a dump

That all I had to do was tweet at Trump

And everyone forgot my war

I felt no rush like a rolling ball of karma

A bunch of Arabs was the only ones I harmed

Oh what a war!

No one’s ever gonna see the light

God it feels so good to be so white

No surrender, always war

Confessions of a recently stoned man nearing 40.

I feel envious of the kids growing up in this era where everybody knows what strain of pot they’re buying & what it does. I stopped smoking because I became terrified of weed, because growing up you just bought a gram of something called “marijuana,” & maybe it would make you relax a bit & make a movie seem a little funnier, or maybe you would have trouble feeling your legs & start worrying that if time became a food then you might starve. It would have been like learning to drink in a world where beer, tequila, absinthe, & Mike’s Hard Lemonade were all just sold as “Booze” in bottles that were all the same size & colour.

Anyhow, for those of us on the radical left, and maybe even for others, it can seem like the campaign for decriminalization or legalization is relatively frivolous stuff. Its cultural norms are pretty easy to make fun of. But besides its strong potential for decreasing the discretionary powers of police, decreasing criminal violence, raising tax revenue, etc., the movement to civilize our approach to marijuana is also just a quality of life issue. It’s been an incredibly successful movement, & smokers & non-smokers alike owe it a debt of gratitude.

Ya did good, burnouts!

Lotusland Dispatches #3