Monday, October 13, 2008

Back From The Canadian Campaign Trail: Stephane Dion Reads The Great Gatsby

I've been gone for about a week, and I ought to explain my absence. With the enlivening thrust of the Canadian federal election pushing through the abnormally beautiful days of autumnal Toronto, I left the city to attend as many political Town Hall meetings and bus-stop rallies and whistle-stop parties as I could.

And I saw more than a few.

These Canadian politicians--they're like what Elvis would have been if he'd lived. The brawn of Layton, the sequins jumpsuits of Harper, the way Dion sings Runaround Sue as an encore, and Elizabeth May, that plucky Hartford-born environmentalist, who did not write Late Nights on Air.

On a certain level, I wondered Why even bother? Why follow these people, why listen to their stories and plans and absurd monologues?

No reason. There really isn't a reason, other than a desire to, as Orwell says, see what we would've been like had the meteor missed.

Campaign Highlights
A few things that Canadian news outlets didn't cover: 1) Stephane Dion reading The Great Gatsby--in French--to students in a Sudbury high school. Everything was going really well until he got to the part about Rosie Rosenthal (which, in the French edition, is right there on the first page); 2) Harper getting caught in a stiff breeze in Red Deer. His hair was so aerodynamically coiffed that his brown shoes actually elevated from the dais, and we all saw his black socks; 3) Elizabeth May asked by a reporter what she'd do if the Green Party took a majority government. May said, "I don't know...Pay the ransom, I guess."

A lot of people like to complain that Canadian politics is boring. Our leaders lack charisma, charm, wit, personality. That's just not true. Anyone who's ever seen Stephen Harper on the horse shoe pitch knows that this man's as close to Red Buttons as any politician, anywhere. We just don't get to see him making his cheese sandwiches, singing Day-O as the knife spreads the mustard on the white bread. And Dion isn't a nerd; he's not a geek. He's as cool and sagacious as any French-Canadian. Those people are funny...Like the Japanese. Have you ever been to a comedy club in Catholic Montreal? I've never heard knock-knock jokes like that before. I've never seen funnier vests. If you go, prepare to be entertained.

But Dion reading Gatsby was terrific.

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