“There's more to life than just books, you know. But not much more...” - The Smiths
Friday, May 06, 2011
Springtime for Edmonton: Royal weddings, family visits, and hippie death threats
Sophie's first walk of the spring
Mother of gawd, what a crazy spring it's been so far. Canadians lived through a solid week of 24/7 royal wedding coverage and a federal election, closely followed by 24/7 coverage of bin Laden's death. That's a trippy combo. One minute it's "What kind of shoes will the guests be wearing?" or "Why is Ignatieff even here? Is this a joke?", and the next it's "We might be showing you some photos of a double-gunshot head wound, if the government will let us."
But in between, we had a lovely visit with Richard's parents. His dad wanted to see as many grandkids as possible in celebration of his 80th birthday, so they hopped a cross-country train and made a dizzying circuit: Victoria, Edmonton, Yellowknife, back to Edmonton, then back to Ontario. They weren't thrilled about squeezing into what Richard's son David calls our "Mr. Bean car", but other than that we all had a fine time. We saw the Emily Carr exhibit, relished the first spate of summery weather, and enjoyed some delicious meals.
Me and Richard's parents at the art gallery (I'm trying to figure out why there's track lighting 50 feet above the floor)
Wait, I forgot about the closet. While Richard was fetching his parents from Jasper, I stayed behind with the bunny and tried to stash the clutter that Richard has slowly been accumulating all winter. Papers, activist paraphernalia, gadgets, and whatnot. I thought it would all fit neatly into the bedroom closet, but I was so wrong. I swear it was like Fibber McGee in reverse. Finally, I hauled everything out of the closet just to make room for the clutter. I was finding stuff I couldn't even identify, stuff I didn't know Richard still had, and stuff we clearly don't need. I mean, an apple peeler? In the past 10 years, I have made exactly one apple pie. And that was when we lived in a building that had an apple tree in the yard. After stuffing and unstuffing and restuffing the closet every which way, I gave up in total frustration and just piled the clutter on the bed for Richard to sort. Never again, I tell you, never again!
Dude would still be alive if he'd hidden in Richard's clutter.
Then there were the hippie death threats.
On 4/20, Richard stopped by a cannabis rally to give his pot activist buddies a bit of good news: An NDP candidate had said, on the record, that he supports legalization. Richard isn't a cannabis aficionado, himself, but over the years has forged ties with pot activists who support peace/anti-war efforts and the 9/11 Truth movement.
Now as you can imagine, 4/20 rallies tend to be casual affairs. This particular one had a small stage-like setup, but no PA system and no schedule. Through the crowd, Richard spotted a fellow he has encountered many times in the past few years, a medical marijuana activist who was once head of a provincial Marijuana Party. We'll call him Steve.
Steve looks and sounds like your stereotypical granola-lovin', tree-huggin' socialist, and in some respects he is. He claims to be a peacenik and an admirer of Gandhi.
Artist's crappy rendering of "Steve"
Anyway, back to 4/20. Richard saw Steve standing on the edge of the stage, hollering something. Steve didn't seem to be addressing the wandering, distracted crowd, though he later insisted he was making a VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. Richard wandered over to the stage and called out something like, "Steve! Hey, Steve! I have some good news!" Steve didn't respond, but a few seconds later he hopped off the platform, stalked directly up to Richard, and tossed a sheet of paper in his face. He growled something along the lines of, "Don't you ever do that to me again. I was making a VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT." Then he stomped away without a word of explanation.
Richard told me about this later in the day. I said, "Well, you shouldn't have interrupted someone who was on a stage. That was kinda douchey." He said, "I didn't even know he was making an announcement. I thought he was just yelling at somebody." Undoubtedly, he would have apologized to Steve the next time he ran into him. It was one of those minor misunderstandings that happens all the time.
Fifteen hours later, we received an e-mailed death threat from Steve. I won't repeat 98% of it here, but the gist was that Richard had deliberately interfered with a VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT, and in so doing had "dishonored" Steve. One line was "Notice the abundance of scars on my knuckles. You will keep your f***ing mouth shut whenever I speak" (emphasis in original). Another was "I'll wipe your blood up with your family." Another was "Stay the f*** out of this visionary genius's way or you'll get walked on." You get the drift. It was a rambling, paranoid, two-page screed about all the ways and means and desires Steve has to inflict violence on those who disrespect him. You know, like Gandhi.
This letter was followed by a spate of other bizarre emails and messages, like, "The dishonoring stands until you honor me again." We also had two close encounters with Steve. He walked within an inch of my face at a Jack Layton rally, and two days later he strolled past us in the city centre with a creepy, faux-friendly grin on his face. It's hard to take a fat epileptic hippie as a serious threat, but we'll definitely have to keep an eye on this guy.
"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom." - Albert Einstein