We came, we saw, we reveled in the hype, and were left physically and emotionally exhausted from all the glossy promos, cookie cutter interviews, and Stephen Brunt’s profoundly svelte cinematic voice. The anointed saviour of Toronto’s baseball universe and possible future Avenger, Vlad Guerrero Jr., has arrived and is now toiling for a rudderless major league baseball franchise that may have taken their first legitimate steps back to the land of fan credibility and deserved loyalty. Sure, he didn’t hit a storybook home run or lower the deficit or even save a child from famine, but the level of media hype and electricity generated by his arrival might be enough to power this city through the next few years of Professor Mark Shapiro’s latest intellectual exercise: call up the best prospect in baseball, make sure national media builds him up to be a diamond messiah, and then take full credit when he resurrects the lifeless corpse that was once Toronto baseball. Of course, he’ll do this without speaking a lick of english while wielding an unearthly 1.000 OPS as his floor for personal expectations. Look, I don’t doubt his importance or what he can do for this insufferable market; we’ve seen scores of elite talent come and go before (Tony Fernandez, Carlos Delgado, Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells). But what worries me is how a twenty year old phenom who needs a professional interpreter handles the excruciatingly oppressive glare of the media machine that will scrutinize and analyze (and inevitably brutalize) his every move. When things are great, you get remembered for your awesome talent and royal lineage. But when things go south, you start hearing complaints about your overall mental toughness, your expanding waistline, and your excessive Fortnite playing habits.
I’m notorious for my adoration of old school, golden age HBO series. Be it Carnivale, Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, or Band of Brothers; there’s been plenty to keep me inspired over the years when it comes to paying a premium, enjoying worthwhile stories and captivating narratives. But what Game of Thrones has accomplished in preparation for their magnum opus on Sunday is nothing short of miraculous. I don’t think I’ve ever found myself anticipating this unclear a denouement before; I honestly have no bloody clue what’s about to transpire. And with no shortage of theories on social media to match the ridiculous torrent of “friends with theories” who keep blasting me with hypothetical outcomes, I realize that David Benioff & D. B. Weiss may be on the verge of pulling off something legendary for artistic posterity – which is especially rare given the commercialized nature of their creation and the fact that it’s based on (still evolving) source material provided by a glorious wordsmith too busy wrestling with fame/fortune/everything that goes with it. Finish the books, Georgie – because after this 82-minute expose into the horrors of medieval battle against a seemingly indomitable supernatural foe, you’ll finally get your wish of being respected for rallying humanity against the existential threat that is global warming without ever tipping your hand. Or at least, that’s how I’ll choose to remember your allegorically poetic literary legacy.
First the good news: 31% of citizens in Prince Edward Island voted for the Green Party in their humble paradise that resembles The Shire from Middle-Earth and makes me want to move there to fulfill my destiny to live as a Hobbit, far away from the kingdom of boring white men. But now for the bad news: their voters also elected a conservative minority government led by a career technocrat who only won because the left (as it almost always does) devoured itself, splitting votes between Liberals, NDP, and the Knights Who Say Ni. Now I know you’re wondering why I would single out a part of Canada with a population of 150,000 that’s on an island with only four seats in parliament (not including the four in our non-elected senate aka chamber of unaccountable plenty) and is almost always the punchline of really lame 1980’s humour? That’s because in a very short time, this country has gone from being a bastion of liberalism and progressive thought to one that is almost entirely led by a social/neo-conservative populist agenda that’s bled over from our disjointed and mostly discombobulated neighbour south of the border. It’s the classic symptoms of a modernized misanthropic era where politicians deploy equal parts identity-politics mixed with xenophobia as the powerful left-right hooks of stopping pragmatic discussion with a troglodyte’s mentality. So, the next time someone prattles your way about the so-called unconscionable amount of “pinko” or left-wing socialist influence in this dominion, be sure to remind them that not only is their homeland occupied by less than 24% of nation-wide ridings with actual governing Liberals, but that it has surreptitously grown into a white, vanilla, Christian-led bulwark of opportunistic dudes who prevailed by inspiring unprecedented fear rather than essential hope.
Knowing the tragic fallacy that is America’s War on Drugs, and finding myself always struggling to digest the full scope and actual damage caused by the opioid crisis across North America, I can honestly say that learning about the arrest of the former CEO of Rochester Drug Cooperative came to me like a bolt out of the blue. On one hand, I was genuinely thrilled to see the first traces of actual criminal law enforcement taken against the true culprits of narcotic distribution in this hemisphere. The sickeningly gaudy truth of the matter is that drugs today are killing more people than car accidents. 130 Americans are perishing daily because greedy, nefarious pharmaceutical distributors got away with peddling drugs at such a terrifying rate of death that even Mexican cartels would find unacceptable given their traditional business models of repeat clientele and mitigated human casualties. RDC got away with filling more than 1.5 million orders from physicians and clinics while claiming that only *four* were considered suspicious, when in reality over 2,000 orders were used to suffocate suburban neighbourhoods across the country with a blanket of OxyContin, Vicodin, and worst of all, Fentanyl. Their punishment for devastating these communities amounted to nothing more than a proverbial slap on the wrist ($20 million dollar fine; they took in a billion dollars in revenue the last five years), and a glorious political photo-op for Donald Trump as he smugly hailed the first steps towards holding big pharma criminally responsible for gutting an entire generation of its soul. Considering the sheer size and scope of exploitation at play here, I have to begrudgingly acknowledge that a little progress is still progress. But I sure wish they’d move faster to hold the real scourges of society accoutable for the diabolical pain they’ve inflicted on so many of our most vulnerable friends and family members.