Capitalist coffee, parasailing, and a day off

by Yule Heibel on December 26, 2003

Checking out Anis Shivani’s other writings online, I found this article in Dissident Voice, Is It Time to Move to Canada? The Degeneration of the Liberals, from late January 2003. It’s not exactly comfort reading since Shivani’s assessment of the current American status quo is bleak, but I found myself cheering this criticism in particular:

The other side to the blindness of liberals is indiscriminate condemnation by so-called radicals, who don’t see any real distinction in the state of freedom in America before and after Bush. For these critics, America was just as much a hell before Bush as it is now: a Gore presidency for them would have made no difference. Some even take delight in watching the chaos unfold: for these prophets, it is all in the service of the final collapse of capitalism, which shall surely usher in the era of Marxist hunting, fishing, and–is it reading? And then there are the populists–like Ralph Nader–who also don’t claim to see a significant distinction between America before and after. I don’t see Nader, or the Canadian student of protest [Shivani refers to Naomi Klein] who is currently at LSE [London School of Economics], showing up at the INS office in Los Angeles to protest the mass arrest of hundreds of Iranians who voluntarily showed up to comply with a new law to have themselves registered, finger-printed, and interrogated. [More…]

Meanwhile, here in the Canada that some of us have already moved to, coming back from my dog-walk to the Dallas Road cliffs, I noticed that all the stores in Cook Street Village’s 3 or 4 block area were closed this afternoon: Caffe Fantastico, the Ethiopian place, the Thai restaurant, Food Country, Oxford Foods, the diner, the two second hand furniture stores, the dry cleaner, the greengrocer, the two hairdressers, the bank, the wine merchant, the fish ‘n chips restaurant, Pic-a-Flic video rental, Moka Cafe, the drug store, the post office, the pub, the do-it-yourself wine brewery, the health food store, the laundromat, the cobbler, and a bunch of others I forgot to mention. Only the convenience store was open (Mac’s), and — across the street from the closed Moka Cafe — Starbucks. They were doing a booming business, with people lining up through the door and onto the sidewalk. Given that Victoria has about 10 Starbucks just within spitting distance of one another, and that all competitors appeared to be closed, I wonder how much money they took in. There were definitely more people than usual just hanging out today. That’s because they had the day off from working in the service sector, unless they work for Starbucks, of course. Dallas Road was besieged by what seemed to be hundreds of dogs and their humans. The para-surfers were out, zipping across the ocean’s surface, exciting the spectators on the cliffs above. The para-guys always alternate: one day it’s the parasurfers, then the paragliders, and so on. They typically don’t come at the same time, and I always wonder whether they have some way of organising who has para-rights to the cliffs and beach on a particular day. It has to be windy of course, which it was today. It was dramatically sunny, too, with picturesque clouds setting off those blue skies which were getting photogenically sexed up by the addition of parasails and all the extreme paraphernalia the sport implies: those yummy black body suits, the muscles rippling beneath the rubber, the endless lengths of slippery rope, the silken sails… Have another latte, kid. As is typical, the sun only shone in our rain shadow on the southern tip of the island. I could see that Metchosin and Sooke to the west were socked in with really seriously menacing rain clouds, while the Olympic Mountain Range to the south had disappeared behind average dull gray clouds. I bet it rained in Seattle today. Vancouver might have been locked up, too. Not us, though: clear skies. [Bummer, it says posted on the 26th, which technically it is since it’s nearly quarter past midnight. But I’m talking about the day that just ended. The 26th as everyone knows is Boxing Day, and even here that means open stores and sales….]

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