When they make the Mount Rushmore of newsletters, I will be on it, but I will lobby to not blow up any mountains. Especially not sacred mountains on stolen land. I will recuse myself for that reason, but also because my life is not mountain-sized. Somewhere between there and a pamphlet. Maybe a short documentary? No, wait, Starz mini-series. Hell yes, make a mini-series about me writing this newsletter. Whoever is the Jake Johnson of that era, get him to play me. Get Nacho Vigolando to direct. This is the best idea I’ve ever had. This high end comedy is brought to you
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I find an empty playground and pounce.
I pull an illegal u-turn and grab a spot closest to the swings. My daughter is laughing at the g-force. I stretch on a mask, a breathable bamboo viscose with a Yellow-era Pikachu sprite on the front. Safety can be Gucci too. I sanitize my hands to my forearms and discard the hoodie I have on over a t-shirt, the new cotton dermis untainted by transit. I swing around to the car seat and scrape fruit puree off the forehead of a toddler. Lacking a washtub for dunking she gets an alcohol gel sponge bath before layers of zinc and DEET. I have gravel in my shoes for ten seconds before another parent and daughter duo join us. Well, shit.
We small talk about schools which, in Alberta, is akin to discussing a wildfire. You survey existing damage, look at trajectories, and frown impotently at ashes to come. I’m no Trot but I’ll admit to a narrow focus at times. It’s easier to have opinions about things you can go touch. The mom, a teacher expecting and threatening labour right here in front of this Catholic elementary school, pulls the blinders loose for bit.
“The first year or two with refugee kids”, she sighs, pushing the swing next to ours, a modern plastic recliner model with no resemblance to the tire tube slice on chains of my youth, “is just dealing with trauma. There’s no teaching.”
Her three year-old occasionally checks in to ask if my kid is far enough away so she doesn’t get COVID. Yes she is, we both say, but we both mean probably. Playground Teacher Mom is talking about teaching second graders on Zoom and how no, nothing really occurs and yes, her own kids are getting advanced lessons because what the fuck else do I do with them while I’m working from home and they can’t leave? She’s a teaching assistant too, and paid as much for the work as Albertans would prefer.
I think about a Canadian missile in Syria attached to a Canadian jet launching from an American carrier. It cruises past, I don’t know, Cyprus and Homs on the way to who knows where before blowing a house to smithereens. Maybe the house was taken at gunpoint from a family by god knows who on whatever side of a hexagon-shaped civil war. Drawing support lines between the vertices and labeling them U.S. State Department, FSB, CIA, MI5, and on and on doesn’t help the previous occupants who now have to fucking walk to fucking Turkey before their raft is screamed at by another Canadian, this time a moronic blonde instead of gunmetal grey and dropped from a height.
From a camp in Lebanon to an Air Canada flight out of Heathrow and then all the way to a little classroom in Taradale (maybe) that Canadian missile travels and explodes a dozen, two dozen times, spreading shrapnel everywhere until ghouls wonder aloud if the cops should keep an eye on the recently bediapered. Do we have the resources for this? The missile on the jet on the carrier near Cyprus never asked.
Whatever the route, a little kid who has seen more shit in a two years than I have in 30 ends up having trouble learning English in Calgary, Alberta. Playground Mom and I don’t talk about how to fix it or prevent the creation of refugees in the first place. We just scuff our feet in the gravel in front of an abandoned elementary school as our kids test gravity and lose in the hot sun. We don’t shrug, we just trail off, the tape of the year pulling off the first reel and making that slap-slap-slapping sound that asks you to turn the projector off.
We leave in a cloud of lemongrass-scented alcohol spray. The playgrounds are open but I don’t think we’ll be back.
- Clinton Hallahan
🦷With nothing to do and a kid that gets cabin fever, we drove around a lot during the hard lockdown. I drove around most of the neighbourhoods in the city limits a good number of the surrounding areas, from the DIY mansion-village of Consort to the acreage estates of the Okotoks foothills. So when I say that I have a photograph of a truck wrapped completely in Canada Action art (presumably belonging to someone who runs the organization because no matter how much you love oil would you voluntarily wrap an F-150 in advocacy slogans for them) sitting in front of the biggest mansion in Calgary I have some authority to say so. Merch is just merch no matter what market the t-shirt man decides to tap.
🦸♂️No level of Canadian government takes Reconciliation that seriously.
🩳Jay Jay about to unload a shell full of referendum buckshot into your electoral face every time he wants a 50+1 mandate to shred something you like.
🤷Taking bets on how sturdy Inuit land treaties are as the North opens due to climate change. My guess is the paperwork will be conveniently misplaced.
🛀🏿Alberta government more eager to put a huge group of people into one room who might give each other diseases than that guy who just bought a big house and wants to host an orgy real bad.
🍍WestJet bookings are down 98% year over year, leading to the layoff of another 3333 workers this week. Airline nationalization and high-speed rail should be discussed daily during COVID.
🍞Save women by defunding police.
🎃Industrial farming is a petri dish and capitalism forces workers into it at gunpoint.
“Do you know anyone in prison?”
🧆Bidding on US federal contracts is the most perfect and beautiful grift.
🦔Book browsing a high-touch activity, among other perils. RIP to Coles, a chain of stores that sold me a lot of books as a kid.
🥑43 indigenous students disappear and turn up dead and nobody does fuck all about it. Could be a story from any country you can think of, can’t it?
🍯Weird to think that reactionary governments that think a chuckle can defeat a pathogen are fucking up so bad.
🤰The Obama-fucked Libyan civil war continues unabated.
🤡You’re not imagining it, more and more protests are being ploughed into by cars. This is a policy decision in some places.
🏹Serving COVID-denying wanderlust dorks as an airline worker.
🏇Climate change burned down their town and disease stole their adolescence. What next?
🍱Tearing down a symbol of white police brutality with a guy who helped build it.
👳♂️Copyright dickheads are going to sink the Internet Archive, putting torches to history.
🌀On decoupling class identity and material analysis, and the dangerous vacuum that creates.
🔔Going to work, being a nurse, and doing harm.
🤿Reminder that Angela Davis kicks ass.
📉The handsomes and beautifuls on the other side of the fence did great episodes on housing and social reproduction you should listen to and kidnap someone and force them to listen to while they’re tied to a hey get away from my keyboard I’m doing SEO you told me to drive some hey stop
🎧TrueAnon on how nobody believes anybody about anything and the impact of flicking the panic switch on and off every second of every day forever.
🚁I expect the regular activism machine will start roaring to life again soon if infections stay low. If you are planning of or know about any worthy protests or other activism/related leftist activities please get in touch to have it included in this space.
A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article or a petition or a link to an event or just a really funny joke, drop us a quick line at albertaadvantagepod [at] gmail [dot] com. We make no promises, but many hands make light work, and we’d love to hear from you! If you want to send us in the mail, grab those stamps and send tributes/cake/not anthrax to Alberta Advantage Podcast, PO Box 52167 Edmonton Trail, Calgary, AB, T2E 8K9.
Our editor is Clinton Hallahan.