Blackhumouristpress's Blog

May 12, 2017

Trying to Remember

I brought a photo album that my grandmother put together over to where
she now lives which is a waiting room for death.  Assisted living is
what they call it.  It was nursing and convalescent when I was a boy.
You walk in and a room full of old people look up to see if you are
the person that they have been waiting and hoping to see.  I’m not the
guy they been waiting to see.
So my grandmother has essentially been my mother my whole life and my
mom was kind of like a mom and not like a mom at the same time.
Anyone 16 years old, should never have a child and so I don’t totally
blame her for lapses.  I go to see my grandmother when I can.  Within
the last three years, her husband died, her dogs were put to sleep and
her house was sold.  Dementia has been taking hold of her and it get’s
stronger all the time.
“Did you see my mother wandering the hallway?  She’s got two guys
that she runs around with and if they ever catch her with the other,
there’s gonna be a fight.”
“No, grandma…  I didn’t see her…  I brought this nice photo album of
your garden and your dogs.”
She looked at it as if she had never seen it before.  She thought the
dogs looked cute.  A Bassett Hound and a Dachshund, both became
adopted pets which I initially purchased for my adult daughter when
she was a girl.  It got me to thinking, how will I chronicle my life?
Nobody takes pictures anymore and presents a slideshow on Christmas or
Easter.  You take pictures on your phone and upload it to social media
and when your phone falls in the shitter, those pics are gone forever.
The only thing I hate more than taking pictures, is being in pictures.
So putting together photo albums like my grandmother did going back to
her youth, World War II, the birth of my dad and uncle, my life and
then my children’s youth, won’t be possible.  I guess I’ll need to
write shit down and let one of my kids read this stuff back to me and
ask if this stuff really happened.  I’ve had an interesting life but
then again, a lot of people have also.  They can write their own
fucking blog.  This one is mine.
To look at me, you might not guess right off that I play ice hockey .
After a few minutes, you might notice scars on my face and a cracked
front tooth and wonder how I got so beat up around the face.  Some
people ask.  Most never do.  You might never guess that I have an
upright bass and play Ska/Reggae music, sing and write the music I
play.  I am fluent in French and have surprised a few people when the
French language is spoken and I join in.  I really don’t like French
culture, French people and I’ve never really wanted to go to France.
I’ve used it on visits to Martinique and Quebec.  I have three
children.  Two by a woman of African descent by way of Cuba and one by
the other by way of Jamaica.  I know you’re thinking… Ah yes.  Black
women, Reggae…  Of course.  The woman I’m with now is white and blonde
and I’m not liberal in my political views.  With that said, let’s talk
about hockey.
B texted me and told me that for sure there were going to be two
goalies at the rink near downtown.  He’s a cop on the night shift and
I own a restaurant/bar so we play pick-up hockey during the day time.
We usually play at a rink near the airport but I decided to meet him
out at the rink just west of downtown.  The Zamboni guy whose name I
never learned, recognized me and asked me where I’ve been.  I used to
play at the rink two to three times a week.  I found skates that were
more to my liking and so I stopped going to the downtown rink.
“Everyone is at J’s skate…  You know that.  Nobody comes here on
Wednesdays.  Just then M walked in.  M, is a bus driver and is black
and a goalie.  He is a virtual Rain Man with statistics of all hockey,
NHL and minor league.  He has a voice like the Chef from South Park.
He could sing, Old Man River, with his deep baritone voice.  Next
walked in B and his friend K.  K just finished playing midgets about a
year ago.  K has good hands and a quick shot.  I talked to him about
playing juniors in the past while sitting on the bench, waiting for
our shift.  K says that he just wants to get on with life and that he
doesn’t think that juniors will lead him anywhere.  One more guy
showed up and so I decided to stay.  Two on two half ice with a
goalie.  A good work out with a lot of passing and turning.  My game
is one of passing.  I believe that there can never be enough passing.
Good things come from passing.  There is a time when one should pass
and when one has to pass.  Those that know the difference are good and
smart hockey players.  K and I played against B and young guy wearing
a practice jersey from a USHL team.  He was young, average height, had
a good shot, good speed and good hands.  He was probably no better
than K.  I covered B and K covered the USHL kid.  I passed and dropped
down to create a cycle in the corner.  If you’re not familiar with a
cycle, picture that you have the puck and you’re skating towards the
goalie.  Rather than shoot the puck at the goalie, you make a right or
left turn and skate up the boards towards the blue line.  You then
look over your shoulder and drop the puck behind you along the boards
to your team mate that is coming up the boards behind you.  You make
that pass and then circle back so that you’re now following the guy
who was just following you.  He can drop it again or cut to the net
and get a pass on his way to the net.  I did this over and over and
scored a bunch of times.  I wondered how a kid from the USHL and B who
has played over twenty years since he was a kindergartener, could not
pick up on what I was doing.  We wore ourselves out doing this for
about an hour.  I looked up in the stands and little four and five
year olds were watching us.  I looked up to a small boy sitting next
to his mother and asked him if he was faster than me.  The mother
smiled and the boy nodded.
The weather was just warm enough to lay my equipment out in the
backyard.  Nothing is better to kill the stink and sweat of wet hockey
equipment better than the sun.  It’s not a fact, just my opinion.  I
walked over to a little Mexican restaurant with the newspaper and had
huevos rancheros…  The newspaper opinion section was down on Trump for
firing the head of the FBI.  The whole Democratic Party is calling for
a special prosecutor to look into Trump’s involvement with the
Russians and the Russian’s involvement with our election.  Interesting
to note that the same politicians who were astounded by James Comey’s
firing, were all calling for his head back when he was investigating
Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, use of a private server with
government business.  Today, Trump is painted to be just like Nixon.
Nixon wanted the special prosecutor fired and had to fire someone who
refused to do the firing on his behalf.  Nixon found a man named Bork
who fired the special prosecutor.  Bork was shot down as a supreme
court justice nominee due mostly to being the hatchet man for Nixon.
So Trump fired a man the Democrats felt  had done too much and that
the Republicans felt had not done enough.  Sometimes when you’re a
nice guy, it backfires and everyone hates your and finds you inept.
Better to be respected than loved.
I finished lunch, went back to the restaurant and got ready for the
night.  Washed left over dishes from the night before, bar and dinner
dishes.  Washed the floor, set tables and then went upstairs to my
apartment and practiced the bass in preparation for a gig Friday night
at my own place.  I had a rather quiet Groupon night.  Two young Asian
girls as cute as could be.  They’ll need to be carded for the next
thirty years since they look like junior high girls now.  They had a
charcuterie plate and a few empanadas and giggled a lot through their
chatter.  Another couple sat at the bar and agonized over which wine
to buy.
“What can you tell me about this wine?”
I make up plausible bullshit.  Truth is that 95% of the people who
come in cannot tell the difference in any of the wines.  They sniff,
they swirl and it’s all something they learned in Napa.  The husband
was chubby and kind of pushy.
“What do you have that’s a special?”
I’m always ready for that question.
“Everything on the menu is really special to me…”
I know what he meant.  Looking for something for next to nothing with
his Groupon.  His hips were wider than his shoulders and he was sort
of a whiny bitch.  His wife talked to him about the fact that he stole
her pillow a few times during the night.  I’m behind the bar and feel
compelled to ask at least one question.  His wife answers while he
studied his phone.  She seemed nice and genuine and out of his league.
That happens a lot.
The last table was a chubby woman across from a MILF.  The MILF
looked like she just got done with a yoga class.  The chubby woman
looked frumpy and looked at her friend while ordering instead of
making eye contact with me.  They ate a little, drank a little, paid
their bill and then sat for an extra hour.  I often wonder what  women
can talk about one on one for over two hours.  I was just happy as
hell that it wasn’t a Thursday because Thursday night I go to play
hockey after closing up and two women loitering for an extra hour is a
definite hockey cock block.
They left and I turned off all the lights to the bar and put on the
Anaheim/Edmonton game and ate and had some wine.  When one of the
Anaheim skaters skated in front of his net, in front of his goalie and
the Edmonton forechecker shuffleboarded the shot past the Anaheim
goalie who was just standing their like a scare crow, I thought
Edmonton was on it’s way.  On paper, they have almost what Edmonton
had beck in the eighties with Gretsky, Messier, Coffey and Grant Fuhr.
The Ducks woke up and crushed Edmonton in the second period and
stymied them in the third…  Dommage.  I’m hoping for Ottawa but feel
like Pittsburg is going to repeat.
Slapshot line of the day- Maurice, you make sick when you talk like that..

May 9, 2017

Happy Birthday to the White Earth

Percy sat in the room with a smile, looking unlike all the others in the room.
Eloise didn’t want her father, who was an assistant to the assistant
to the director of the EPA to discuss the fact that he had voted for
Trump and in a sense, was working for Trump.  She wanted no political
topics, discussions or debates to take place during the party for
their child who was turning one year old.  Little Sarah Mordecai
Terreblanche-Arnofsky.  The name Arnofsky, Jewish and Russian in
origin was the last name of the father, but not the husband of little
Sarah Mordecai’s mother.  Terreblanche, a French name, came from
France, then in the Acadia region of Canada then all the way down to
Louisiana where Eloise was born and raised along with her parents and
their parent’s parents before them.  And the name in English
translates to “White Earth”.  Oh and Mordecai?  Eloise and her husband
did not want to steer their biologically female daughter towards
acceptance of female identity.   They both feel that one day, Sarah
Mordecai should choose what gender she wants to be.  The gifts were
all neutral, most homemade gluten-free and vegan sweets.  The cake was
not really a cake but a bowl of honey mixed with picked fruit and
granola.  One of the Moroccans in attendance brought the recipe over
from North Africa.  In fact three men were playing dissonant sounding
Arabic music in a room with a hookah.
Percy poured himself a glass of wine, went out to the balcony and
looked over towards San Francisco from the condo he paid for in
Oakland.  Percy walked into the living room where all the young people
with their toddlers were sitting on the floor with their children.  A
young couple with ratty, matted dreadlocked hair wore shirts that read
“Resist!” in large letters, their small child also had on an onesie
with the same word on it.   Rainbows, Black lives Matter, Oakland is a
sanctuary shirts.  The guests ate vegan pizza, smelled of some sort of
oil and body odor.  Music indigenous to the middle east played.
Everyone was young and very militant.
Percy went to Oakland Coliseum to watch the A’s play a baseball game
earlier that weekend.  He wore a green and yellow shirt with a green
A’s hat.  The television in the living room had no volume on a
baseball game was on.  Percy ate carrot sticks and watched the game.
A young man in a beard, who shook his head a lot up and down, pulled
down at his beard and decided to engage Percy in conversation.
“I’m guessing this whole things ain’t your scene, man…  Everyone was
on edge wondering who the square was.  Maybe ICE.  Maybe FBI”
“Oh, I don’t know, young man… Square things can be a little round at
times…  You’re close.  I’m with the EPA”
The young guy laughed at the levity and tapped Percy’s knee in
approval thinking that Percy was only joking about being from the EPA.
Percy wasn’t joking.
“I looked at your whole get up man, and I was intrigued.  I mean
like, I just needed to know where you’re coming from, your bag, your
perspective.  You’re wearing baseball stuff and all.  I’m looking at
you and I’m thinking you look like the type that might have voted for
Trump…  So did you?  Are you part of the NRA?  Are you against a
woman’s right to have abortions?  Do you deny global warming?”
Percy lifted his glass of wine like he was toasting the young man,
took a drink, tilted his head to the side, adjusted his horn rimmed
glasses and gave a cryptic answer that only drew the young man more to
him.
“  Sonny…  I’m working with a realtor as we speak.  I’m trying to
find prime land on the equator on Mars.  I want a warm spot like
Phoenix…  You know like a balmy minus 10… Did you know?  No, you
couldn’t possibly know…  Anyway…I was raised in a house by a black
lady back in the early seventies who did all the cooking.  She had a
wide space between her two front teeth and she had bout twenty cats
running round the place.  If you wanted to finish your food, you
didn’t dare give a crumb to the cats til you were done.  If you did,
them cats would be all over you.  I had a mom and several men that
were suitors of some sort that courted my mom.  We lived in a home
where everyone contributed something and we ate together and the
adults hated the war and Nixon…  Did you ever live in a house like
that?  These were real Hippies.  They fucked each other in a loving
way, took a lot of dope and shared.  The music was good and people
really hated the president, the government and the establishment.  Can
you dig that a square like me was raised like that?  When you were a
tadpole in your daddy’s nutsack, my mom wore no bra, slept with
colored men with real Afros and wanted equal rights for women…  Now
this is the truth.  No bullshit, young fellow…  If abortion had been
legal in Illinois in 1965, I would not be sitting here talking to you
right now.  Yes sir…  I’m the son of a true, died in the wool, love
child.  She was only 15 at the time, if you can fathom that deep
thought…  Remember that nothingness is an experienced reality and
existence is transitory and fragile.
The young bearded man forgot that he had asked Percy whom he had
voted for and went on to describe an upper middle class upbringing in
a gated subdivision.
“Wow, young man.  That is truly a white milk, middle class,
homogenous, vitamin D, insulated life you lead.  Do you remember the
first black person you saw in real life?”
“It was probably at Dodger’s stadium in third grade…”
“Far out, man… I grew up practically a poor black child although you
would not know it to look at me…I grew up listening to Smokey Robinson
and Sly and the Family Stone.  We had a thing going on not unlike
Jonestown in Guyana.   Very cult like not unlike what is happening
today.  Free speech is acceptable as long as I agree with what you’re
saying,,,  Color didn’t matter.  Status didn’t matter…  You know, man?
People dying in Afghanistan and Iraq since before you could grow
whiskers and nobody cares if those young guys trying to make to the
end so that they can get their dough and go to college.  Nobody
protests the fact that we’re in a state of constant war.  Trump is the
problem…  Right?”
“Right on, man…  You said it!”
“Let it be soon, don’t hesitate…  Make it now, don’t wait.  Open your
heart and let my love come in.  I want a moment to stop when I can
fill your heart more love and more joy than age or time could ever
destroy…”
“That is some deep fucking shit, bro…”
“Yeah?  You can thank Smokey for that one…  Thing is that once the
war ended and people came home, shit began to fall apart.  Everyone
was worried about their shit…  It’s cool to take a stand when you have
food and shelter.  When you don’t have that shit…  Well, now…  It’s
survival of the fittest.  Origin of species, only the strong survive
and so on…  That’s just how it is.  A fire breaks out in this condo,
who lives?  Those with the best fight or flight response.  There are
people dying of famine in refegee camps in Africa…  Children dying and
some chubby white dude trying to win a Pulitzer is snapping off photos
of a kid about to die…”
“You’re one deep motherfucker…  Really man.  I mean, you show up here
and I think you’re going to be about as flat as the wall over here and
you’re deep as the ocean…  Keep talking , man.  I dig your vibe…  Do
you smoke?”
“The young man lit a joint and held it out to share with Percy.
“Not anymore, son.  I only smoke salmon now…  Where was I?  Old
people have issues with short-term memory loss.  Could have years of
smoking doobies as a youngster.”
Percy paused to hug his daughter who walked by with the baby in tow.
The young bearded man begged Percy to continue to talk.
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he
is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give life a
meaning.  Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees and
that has nothing to do with submission or some homosexual
tendencies…  I’m cool with whatever you’re into, man… Freedom is
what we do with what is done to us… Putting your business in the
street, talking out loud… You better bring the chick around to the
sad, sad truth… The dirty lowdown.”
Percy mixed Boz Scaggs with Sartre and looked the young man into his
eyes like he was way out there.  The young man had no idea that the
old man was just yanking his chain, pulling his leg, putting him on.
After the Moroccan treat and ice cream, presents and singing, Happy
Birthday, Percy decided it was time to leave his daughter’s home that
he paid for.  Percy made it possible for his daughter to teach
philosophy at a junior college and still have a nice place to live
with her boyfriend whose job it was to try and stop ICE agents from
gathering up and deporting illegal aliens.  Undocumented…  You know
what I mean.
The young bearded man followed Percy out to a rented convertible car
and asked how he felt about President Trump.  Percy revved up the
engine on the rented eight cylinder Dodge…  A huge gas-guzzler.
“Son…  When you bought the boat and you’re rowing the boat, you’ll
take offense to those that will coast at your expense…  Just remember
this- Richard Nixon might have been the best suited man to have ever
been given the job of president…  Think about that and wonder why I
would say such a thing…  Some writers I know are damned devils.  From
them I say don’t believe the hype.  Their pens and pads I’ll snatch
coz I’ve had it…  Don’t … Don’t believe the hype… Peace be with you…
Man…”

March 22, 2017

Alternate Ending

Rush hour in the United States, in the morning as the sun gives hope
to the inhabitants of the Earth, that tasks will get accomplished and
happiness is near the horizon.  Somewhere.
Scott, an average middle class white man with a mortgage, two
children, a wife with high expectations and plans for their family,
listened to National Public Radio while aggressively speeding up and
slowing down to get around trucks or other drivers of vehicles only
willing to do the speed limit.
“The president arrived in Cuba today to tour the country and to
witness the closing of the Guantanamo prison.  The last of the
prisoners were sent to federal prisons in Louisiana, Kansas and
Illinois.  This comes as the next wave of political refugees from
Syria, Yemen and Eritrea arrived in Atlanta…”
Scott turned to local news- all expressways designed in 1953 during
the Eisenhower administration, were jammed packed.  The weather would
be warm, Blackhawks won, Bulls lost; thirteen people were shot in the
city of Chicago overnight, three dead, two in critical condition.
Scott noticed a large Ford truck that was raised to monster truck size
in his rear view mirror.  The tires on the truck hummed.  The driver
of the truck rode right on Scott’s bumper until he moved from the far
left lane to the next lane over to the right.  The truck sped up
impatiently.  The bumper stickers on the back window of the truck
read, “She’s not my President”, “Trump 2020” and “Hindsight 2020”.
Scott profiled the asshole as he tailgated the next driver ahead of
him.  White-undereducated- homophobic-xenophobic-misogynistic, Trump,
gun, military loving, cow tipping, tobacco chewing, Country Music
listening, American and Confederate flag waving fellow… Citizen.
Guys who fit several of the profiles listed, beat him up in high
school and at college parties but he found a woman who didn’t want him
to bench press his weight a dozen times and drunk wrestle guy friends
in the backyard.  Scott’s wife wanted him to garden and do projects
around the home.  She wanted to go wine tasting and antiquing and take
Ballroom or Salsa dancing with Scott.  They were tolerant people who
loved diversity.  They wanted to vote for Bernie but alas things did
not pan out.  They both kept their Bernie stickers on the back of
their electric cars.
A minivan with a driver wearing some sort of shrouds crossed the
divider twice into the far right lane of the expressway.  Scott
applied the breaks to allow the driver to merge.  Instead the driver
drifted back to the left back into their lane.  Scott thought about
punching it or getting behind the driver and move to the left lanes to
pass.  Still having a bit of testosterone in his testis, he punched
the accelerator of his electric car and it raced forward the way a
semi does.  Scott just about passed the minivan when it suddenly
drifted to the right and rammed his car.  Scott lost control at the
speed of 58 miles per hour and careened into the wall.  The driver in
the minivan never applied the breaks.
“What?  What the fuck?  What kind of a fucking asshole does this
fucking shit and takes off?  No fucking way!”
Scott followed the van and called 911.  He was loud and appeared to
be out of control.
“I am the victim of a hit and run!  I am following the car now as we
speak…  I am travelling north on the 94 near Irving Park…”

“Sir… Do you mean west?”
“No, I mean north…  It’s 44 degrees and my screen on my dashboard
says north.  I mean north, what the hell does that matter?”
“It matters to the police when they have to either go east towards
Detroit or west towards Rockford…  Are you following that logic, sir?”
“Okay…  So do you have someone dispatched?  This driver is not stopping…”
Once off the highway, Scott called 911 for the city of Chicago and
answered a slew of questions that just made him mad.  Scott followed
driver all the way to a Halal meat shop.  There were sweet shops,
hookah lounges, restaurants and most of the writing was in Arabic.
Scott walked along side a woman most likely that was covered head to
toe in a burqa.  There was a little screen for her to look out of as
she hustled away from Scott and into the butcher shop.  She was there
to collect a lamb that was just slaughtered according to Muslim
guidelines hence halal.
A dozen cab driver looking men, scruffy with open dress shirts were
drinking brackish coffee and talking.  They immediately stopped
talking when Scott walked in.  Scott stared at the group of men and
then turned around and walked out.  When he walked back out, there
were two white cops.  Scott explained what happened with loud hand
gestures.  One of the cops radioed in for a “facilitator”.
“You’re waiting for a what?”
“A facilitator…  A female who speaks Arabic.  When these things come
up, this is how it is handled.  If we go in and drag her out, we wind
up on the evening fucking news.  Racist, xenophobic cops trampling on
the constitutional rights of a non-citizen and so on…  You have to be
careful of how you treat these people.  When I went to Iraq to fight
with and against them, they would just as soon blow you to pieces with
a bomb strapped to their chest, but we have to handle all these
situations delicately…  My advice to you…  Just file a hit and run
claim against your own insurance.  These people won’t have insurance,
license or anything.  You won’t get dick…  Just letting you know how
this shit works, sir.”
“This is fucking bullshit!”
“We agree with you…  Here comes the facilitator.”
The facilitator was a young thin white woman dressed in a white robe
like material.  She had the meekness of a librarian and barely spoke a
whisper.  She jotted down notes, covered her head with a scarf and
went in to talk to the woman.  After ten minutes, the facilitator came
out and started speaking with the word “so”.  She started every
sentence with so.  The facilitator went to college and majored in
Arabic just to land a job as a go between.
“So I spoke to Abu-Nasim-Kareem…  So she claims that she was not in
an accident and does not know what you’re talking about…  So I suggest
the police inspect the vehicles.”
The handles of the minivan on had a scuff but no paint.  Scott’s car
had a large indentation but no paint on the driver side and a
destroyed passenger side from contact with the wall.  The diagnosis
was nothing.
“So…  What do I do?”
“If you have insurance and you should.  You should report it.”
“This is fucked up…  I don’t even know what to say.  This is wrong… Fuck!”
Scott went home and poured himself a red wine that he and his wife
had purchased while in Sonoma.  He plopped down on the couch and
turned on the television.  It was 10 am and he was not going to make
it to work.  Scott had decided he was just going home.   He was going
to eat ice cream and watch nothing of substance on television.  Scott
was going to call his insurance company and take a nap and then pick
up his children from school and take them for a Slurpee and pretend
like the whole day never happened. Scott’s father-in-law, an ice
fisherman from Minnesota had been watching Fox news non-stop on their
television while visiting for a month.  His father-in-law had caught a
flight for Minneapolis that morning.  Scott was happy to have his
house back.  No old man to steal the newspaper in the morning, take a
monstrously smell shit before breakfast, breathe loudly like Dark
Vader, click his false teeth and comment out loud about the state of
things, hoping to draw Scott into a debate or a conversation.  He was
gone but Trump took his place.  On the television, at a rally in
Pennsylvania.  Scott never usually listened but he did that morning he
was angry.  Angry like a lot of other people disgruntled socially and
politically that they could not change the things that did not sit
well with them.  Scott poured a second glass of wine and plopped down
on the couch.  Trump took the podium with flag waving hicks in the
background.  Scott didn’t change the channel; he listened for the
first time that he could remember.
“Sometimes…  You lose…  That’s okay.  Sometimes a loss is a win… I
thought about the loss.  The razor thin loss in many states where they
said I had no chance.  I could have walked away and gone on with life.
I have been successful and will continue to be.  We have started a
movement that will continue to grow.  Throwing money at Iran in hopes
they do what we want, is not the answer.  Ignoring radical Islamic
terror is not the answer.  Accepting under vetted refugees is not the
answer.  Allowing America to be the dumping ground of the world is not
the answer.  I could go on with life but I feel my calling is to stop
our decline before it is too late.  This movement will grow and the
media won’t be able to stop this.  I’m going to the people and the
people are going to me… hindsight will be corrected in 2020.
Hindsight 2020!  Hindsight 2020.”
Scott emptied the bottle and did not move or change the channel.  In
hindsight he questioned what he thought and what he believed.  He was
angry and frustrated with an army of many others.  Will it subside?

August 3, 2009

Wine with the Prime Minister

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 4:24 am
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After 225 years of French rule in North America, a battle on the Plains of Abraham ended all that. A general for the British by the name of Wolfe, defeated a French general by the name of Montcalme at the Battle of Quebec in 1759. At the Treaty of Paris in 1763, New France was named Quebec. France was left with two islands near Newfoundland. The British sought to have all French inhabitants assimilate into British ways. In 1774, fearing that the French citizens of Quebec might team up with George Washington and company, the British passed the Quebec Act which recognized French law, language, culture and the Roman Catholic Church. Assimilation was impossible after the passage of that act. French culture continued in Quebec.
In October of 1995, the 30th to be exact, the future of Canada as we know it presently, was being decided. The province of Quebec was voting on a referendum to decide if Quebec should be a sovereign nation. Two weeks before the casting of the vote in Quebec, the sovereign vote was ahead in the polls by nearly five percent. The night of the election, everyone was on the edge of their seats, in Canada only.
93% of eligible voters turned out to vote making it close to 4.7 million voters in Quebec. 53,498 people out of 4.7 million were the difference in Quebec becoming a sovereign nation and seceding from Canada. Most of the 53,000 people were foreign born non-French and non-English speaking immigrants. For the Parti Quebecois, it was a defeat to be sure. There to this day are grumblings and strong feelings in Quebec about going it alone where French could be spoken by French without having to ever speak English. Where stop signs would forever say Arête and any Americanized, English words would and could be abolished once and for all. The preservation of French culture would have been mandated by law instead of the French and English that now exists in the province of Quebec. Not very interesting? Not many people took notice outside of Canada at the time and today not many know that the future of Canada was being decided the day before Halloween in 1995. But this really is not the story. The story is the story within the story, which is usually the case. It’s not the substance that mattered it was the drama and tension as a result of the referendum.
To protect his identity and to keep me from being sued, I have altered the name of the Parti Quebecois member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing an area not far from the Ontario border in Quebec by the name of Etienne Cadeau.
Etienne was short and portly. His dark hair was receding and he had a large gap between his two front teeth. Etienne had a gift for being able to talk to anyone about anything and seem interested. It is a trait which is necessary to be a politician.
Mr. Cadeau was born and raised in the Atlantic coast city of Gaspe not far from where Jacques Cartier planted a cross for France back in 1534.
Etienne’s father was a fisherman and his mother raised nine children. Etienne was an above average student who went to Laval in Quebec City and became a lawyer. While is college, Etienne met and married a woman by the name of Jeanette who was born in the city of Gatineau, not far from the nation’s capital of Ottawa in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cadeau left the Liberal Party to join the Bloc Quebecois in 1990 and became a member of parliament representing a region of western Quebec. Things looked good for those that wanted sovereignty for Quebec. Mr. Cadeau saw himself as a possible candidate for the first president of the Republic of Quebec. He could be the French George Washington and forever live on coins and paper money. The night of the election, Etienne watched the results from a bar that was frequented by French Canadian politicians and other various separatists. On the wall were pictures of Rene Levesque and Charles de Galle, the French Canadian flag and the words, “Je me souviens” which translates to mean in English, I remember or I remember my French heritage.
As the hours passed, Etienne and others became more drunk and disappointed. Etienne sat at a table with other MPs of French extraction that were looking forward to a new nation for North American Francophones. It became clear late in the evening that the referendum had been defeated by a 50.6 to 49.4 percent. One percent of the province was the difference. Etienne was so upset that he threw down his Canadian money with the English queen on it and staggered out into the night. The air was cold with a hint of winter that was about to come to that part of Canada. Etienne got into his Citroen that he imported from France and drove towards the bridge that would take him across to Ottawa where he lived during sessions of parliament.

Bill Stowe was a descendant of people who once lived in the colony which became the United States of America. They were loyalists and wanted to remain loyal to the crown. After the colonists gained their own country, Bill’s ancestors moved north. Over the course of two hundred years, Bill’s family never bred much with people over other persuasions. There was a Dutch woman and a Flemish Belgian man who married into the Stowe clan. For the most part, they were of Anglo-Saxon stock.
Bill had played hockey and was a stand out in the Ontario Hockey League until one too many concussions sidelined his career and forced him to seek other means to an end. Bill became a police officer in the OPP or Ontario Provincial Police.
Bill grew up in Ajax which was about 50 kilometers from the city of Toronto. Upon being hired into the OPP, Bill had to move to Windsor near the Detroit border and then all the way to Cornwall near the Quebec border. It had been five years that Bill had been living and working for the OPP near Ottawa. Bill liked Ottawa.
Bill sat sipping Tim Horton’s Coffee and talking to a fellow trooper on the citizen band radio about their men’s league hockey team that was taking a trip to Calgary to play against other police teams from all over Canada and the United States. The team to beat were the Mounties from near Edmonton. They had won the tournament three years in a row. This year, Bill’s team got some fresh blood. Two young rookies just got done playing in the Ontario Hockey League and were more than capable of helping the Ottawa OPP.
Coming off the bridge that leads from Hull, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario was the black Citroen. The Citroen’s wheels screeched as Etienne cornered. It was on Queen Elizabeth Street that Etienne cornered too fast and slammed head on into a lamppost. Bill had followed the screeching Citroen with Quebec plates, ever since the bridge. Etienne sat banging his head on the steering wheel of his car that was cleaved right up the center of the car. Etienne was able to start the car again. He put it in drive, thinking that he was in reverse and knocked the lamppost down onto two other parked cars. One of the parked cars had just some dents on the hood but the second one had the ornamental head of the lamp, resting on the front seat of the sedan after it had ripped through the windshield. Etienne got out of his car and kicked and punched as he swore in French. Unbeknownst to him, Bill walked up and flashed a light in Etienne’s eyes. Bill spoke first.
“Sir… Don’t move. I want to hear from you what just happened,” commanded Bill.
“What happened? I will tell you what appened… We lost our chance to be our own nation by less than one percentage point. Eef we aad won dee referendum, ah would not be eer raht now speaking to ahn English speaking cop een fucking Ottawa… Fucking dumb English prick,” said an inebriated Etienne, while staring at the light of the flash light.
“Sir, I need to know why it is that you were driving so fast that you lost control of your vehicle. Calling me names is not going to help you right now, eh? I need to see your driver’s license…”
Etienne had set his wallet down on the chair besides where he was sitting at the bar in Hull. Nobody would steal the wallet and it was probably being held by the bartender at that moment. Etienne let the officer know what had happened.
“Ah can geeve you the name and number of the bar een Hull. Ah left eet on a chair next to me… Een any event, I ham a MP. I leeve on Queens Street when I ham not leeving en Quebec,” said Etienne.
“Sir… I’m going to have to take you in to custody,” said Bill.
Etienne did not go down without a fight. He swore and punched Bill. Bill could be heard on the radio, calling for backup. Three other troopers showed within a minute to detain the member of the House of Commons. Later that morning, under the light of day, Etienne was released from OPP holding pen. Reporters from papers all over Canada as well as the CBC camped out to get a comment from the drunken driving Member of Parliament. Etienne refused to speak English. In French he made a statement in the form of questions. Here is the English translation;
“If I were an English speaking member of the House of Commons, would I have been arrested? Do you believe this is another symbolic statement by government officials that the French citizens of this nation will always be second class citizens within Canada? You need to answer these questions. The people of Quebec have voted by the thinnest of margins to remain part of Canada and who were the 50,000 who put the no vote over the top? Not French speaking citizens of Quebec whose lineage dates back three hundred years to France… That’s all I can say right now…”
A sharp witted columnist who had a syndicated column in English language newspapers throughout Canada commented on the incident. That more than anything else, fuelled the smoldering fire. In Quebec, separatists began to smash windows of businesses that had English sounding names. A five second film clip showed a group of separatists singing in French and burning the Canadian flag. The scene looked more like the taking of American hostages in Iran than something that could have happened in Canada. It was at that point that the prime minister had to step in.
Jean Chrétien, the 20th Prime Minister of the country which is Canada, tried to calm the situation. Luckily for Chretien at the time, there were no reporters around when he was told about the situation. He did say in French, “ Il est tres stupide…”. It wasn’t clear if the situation was stupid, The drunk member of parliament or the OPP police officer. In either case, the press was not present to hear the prime minister. The situation escalated without any help.
Jean Chretien, understood that even though the referendum had failed, the country could still be in crisis due to an individual incident that was quite symbolic; French discrimination from an English heavy hand. Chretien had invited the two men in question to meet on the Plains of Abraham to drink a bottle of wine from the province of Ontario and another from the province of Quebec. Red wine would be drunk by the three men from each province in a dark wooded room that overlooked the St. Lawrence River from the Chateau Frontenac. Bill Stowe, Etienne Cadeau and Jean Chrétien sat in the room and discussed the whole situation and the situation that occurred from the situation. Before both bottles were finished, the conversation turned to ice hockey. Bill graciously declared that Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was probably the best hockey player to have played the sport even though in his heart bill believed it to really be Gordie Howe. Etienne declared that the best player was difficult to declare but that it might have been Gordie Howe since he was able to play professionally into his fifties even though Etienne really believed the best of best was Maurice Richard. All men declared by the end of meeting that they would do all within their abilities to keep Canada intact. Seven years later at the invitation of the prime minister, Etienne and Bill watched Canada win the gold medal for Canada. The two men with lumps in their throats, stood as the national anthem played. Both men sang the words in their own languages as the flag was raised above all others in Utah. It was a proud moment for Canada. Oh Canada…

After 225 years of French rule in North America, a battle on the Plains of Abraham ended all that. A general for the British by the name of Wolfe, defeated a French general by the name of Montcalme at the Battle of Quebec in 1759. At the Treaty of Paris in 1763, New France was named Quebec. France was left with two islands near Newfoundland. The British sought to have all French inhabitants assimilate into British ways. In 1774, fearing that the French citizens of Quebec might team up with George Washington and company, the British passed the Quebec Act which recognized French law, language, culture and the Roman Catholic Church. Assimilation was impossible after the passage of that act. French culture continued in Quebec.
In October of 1995, the 30th to be exact, the future of Canada as we know it presently, was being decided. The province of Quebec was voting on a referendum to decide if Quebec should be a sovereign nation. Two weeks before the casting of the vote in Quebec, the sovereign vote was ahead in the polls by nearly five percent. The night of the election, everyone was on the edge of their seats, in Canada only.
93% of eligible voters turned out to vote making it close to 4.7 million voters in Quebec. 53,498 people out of 4.7 million were the difference in Quebec becoming a sovereign nation and seceding from Canada. Most of the 53,000 people were foreign born non-French and non-English speaking immigrants. For the Parti Quebecois, it was a defeat to be sure. There to this day are grumblings and strong feelings in Quebec about going it alone where French could be spoken by French without having to ever speak English. Where stop signs would forever say Arête and any Americanized, English words would and could be abolished once and for all. The preservation of French culture would have been mandated by law instead of the French and English that now exists in the province of Quebec. Not very interesting? Not many people took notice outside of Canada at the time and today not many know that the future of Canada was being decided the day before Halloween in 1995. But this really is not the story. The story is the story within the story, which is usually the case. It’s not the substance that mattered it was the drama and tension as a result of the referendum.
To protect his identity and to keep me from being sued, I have altered the name of the Parti Quebecois member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing an area not far from the Ontario border in Quebec by the name of Etienne Cadeau.
Etienne was short and portly. His dark hair was receding and he had a large gap between his two front teeth. Etienne had a gift for being able to talk to anyone about anything and seem interested. It is a trait which is necessary to be a politician.
Mr. Cadeau was born and raised in the Atlantic coast city of Gaspe not far from where Jacques Cartier planted a cross for France back in 1534.
Etienne’s father was a fisherman and his mother raised nine children. Etienne was an above average student who went to Laval in Quebec City and became a lawyer. While is college, Etienne met and married a woman by the name of Jeanette who was born in the city of Gatineau, not far from the nation’s capital of Ottawa in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cadeau left the Liberal Party to join the Bloc Quebecois in 1990 and became a member of parliament representing a region of western Quebec. Things looked good for those that wanted sovereignty for Quebec. Mr. Cadeau saw himself as a possible candidate for the first president of the Republic of Quebec. He could be the French George Washington and forever live on coins and paper money. The night of the election, Etienne watched the results from a bar that was frequented by French Canadian politicians and other various separatists. On the wall were pictures of Rene Levesque and Charles de Galle, the French Canadian flag and the words, “Je me souviens” which translates to mean in English, I remember or I remember my French heritage.
As the hours passed, Etienne and others became more drunk and disappointed. Etienne sat at a table with other MPs of French extraction that were looking forward to a new nation for North American Francophones. It became clear late in the evening that the referendum had been defeated by a 50.6 to 49.4 percent. One percent of the province was the difference. Etienne was so upset that he threw down his Canadian money with the English queen on it and staggered out into the night. The air was cold with a hint of winter that was about to come to that part of Canada. Etienne got into his Citroen that he imported from France and drove towards the bridge that would take him across to Ottawa where he lived during sessions of parliament.

Bill Stowe was a descendant of people who once lived in the colony which became the United States of America. They were loyalists and wanted to remain loyal to the crown. After the colonists gained their own country, Bill’s ancestors moved north. Over the course of two hundred years, Bill’s family never bred much with people over other persuasions. There was a Dutch woman and a Flemish Belgian man who married into the Stowe clan. For the most part, they were of Anglo-Saxon stock.
Bill had played hockey and was a stand out in the Ontario Hockey League until one too many concussions sidelined his career and forced him to seek other means to an end. Bill became a police officer in the OPP or Ontario Provincial Police.
Bill grew up in Ajax which was about 50 kilometers from the city of Toronto. Upon being hired into the OPP, Bill had to move to Windsor near the Detroit border and then all the way to Cornwall near the Quebec border. It had been five years that Bill had been living and working for the OPP near Ottawa. Bill liked Ottawa.
Bill sat sipping Tim Horton’s Coffee and talking to a fellow trooper on the citizen band radio about their men’s league hockey team that was taking a trip to Calgary to play against other police teams from all over Canada and the United States. The team to beat were the Mounties from near Edmonton. They had won the tournament three years in a row. This year, Bill’s team got some fresh blood. Two young rookies just got done playing in the Ontario Hockey League and were more than capable of helping the Ottawa OPP.
Coming off the bridge that leads from Hull, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario was the black Citroen. The Citroen’s wheels screeched as Etienne cornered. It was on Queen Elizabeth Street that Etienne cornered too fast and slammed head on into a lamppost. Bill had followed the screeching Citroen with Quebec plates, ever since the bridge. Etienne sat banging his head on the steering wheel of his car that was cleaved right up the center of the car. Etienne was able to start the car again. He put it in drive, thinking that he was in reverse and knocked the lamppost down onto two other parked cars. One of the parked cars had just some dents on the hood but the second one had the ornamental head of the lamp, resting on the front seat of the sedan after it had ripped through the windshield. Etienne got out of his car and kicked and punched as he swore in French. Unbeknownst to him, Bill walked up and flashed a light in Etienne’s eyes. Bill spoke first.
“Sir… Don’t move. I want to hear from you what just happened,” commanded Bill.
“What happened? I will tell you what appened… We lost our chance to be our own nation by less than one percentage point. Eef we aad won dee referendum, ah would not be eer raht now speaking to ahn English speaking cop een fucking Ottawa… Fucking dumb English prick,” said an inebriated Etienne, while staring at the light of the flash light.
“Sir, I need to know why it is that you were driving so fast that you lost control of your vehicle. Calling me names is not going to help you right now, eh? I need to see your driver’s license…”
Etienne had set his wallet down on the chair besides where he was sitting at the bar in Hull. Nobody would steal the wallet and it was probably being held by the bartender at that moment. Etienne let the officer know what had happened.
“Ah can geeve you the name and number of the bar een Hull. Ah left eet on a chair next to me… Een any event, I ham a MP. I leeve on Queens Street when I ham not leeving en Quebec,” said Etienne.
“Sir… I’m going to have to take you in to custody,” said Bill.
Etienne did not go down without a fight. He swore and punched Bill. Bill could be heard on the radio, calling for backup. Three other troopers showed within a minute to detain the member of the House of Commons. Later that morning, under the light of day, Etienne was released from OPP holding pen. Reporters from papers all over Canada as well as the CBC camped out to get a comment from the drunken driving Member of Parliament. Etienne refused to speak English. In French he made a statement in the form of questions. Here is the English translation;
“If I were an English speaking member of the House of Commons, would I have been arrested? Do you believe this is another symbolic statement by government officials that the French citizens of this nation will always be second class citizens within Canada? You need to answer these questions. The people of Quebec have voted by the thinnest of margins to remain part of Canada and who were the 50,000 who put the no vote over the top? Not French speaking citizens of Quebec whose lineage dates back three hundred years to France… That’s all I can say right now…”
A sharp witted columnist who had a syndicated column in English language newspapers throughout Canada commented on the incident. That more than anything else, fuelled the smoldering fire. In Quebec, separatists began to smash windows of businesses that had English sounding names. A five second film clip showed a group of separatists singing in French and burning the Canadian flag. The scene looked more like the taking of American hostages in Iran than something that could have happened in Canada. It was at that point that the prime minister had to step in.
Jean Chrétien, the 20th Prime Minister of the country which is Canada, tried to calm the situation. Luckily for Chretien at the time, there were no reporters around when he was told about the situation. He did say in French, “ Il est tres stupide…”. It wasn’t clear if the situation was stupid, The drunk member of parliament or the OPP police officer. In either case, the press was not present to hear the prime minister. The situation escalated without any help.
Jean Chretien, understood that even though the referendum had failed, the country could still be in crisis due to an individual incident that was quite symbolic; French discrimination from an English heavy hand. Chretien had invited the two men in question to meet on the Plains of Abraham to drink a bottle of wine from the province of Ontario and another from the province of Quebec. Red wine would be drunk by the three men from each province in a dark wooded room that overlooked the St. Lawrence River from the Chateau Frontenac. Bill Stowe, Etienne Cadeau and Jean Chrétien sat in the room and discussed the whole situation and the situation that occurred from the situation. Before both bottles were finished, the conversation turned to ice hockey. Bill graciously declared that Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was probably the best hockey player to have played the sport even though in his heart bill believed it to really be Gordie Howe. Etienne declared that the best player was difficult to declare but that it might have been Gordie Howe since he was able to play professionally into his fifties even though Etienne really believed the best of best was Maurice Richard. All men declared by the end of meeting that they would do all within their abilities to keep Canada intact. Seven years later at the invitation of the prime minister, Etienne and Bill watched Canada win the gold medal for Canada. The two men with lumps in their throats, stood as the national anthem played. Both men sang the words in their own languages as the flag was raised above all others in Utah. It was a proud moment for Canada. Oh Canada…

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