Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Motor city blues...

I recently just returned from a trip back home to Windsor, Ontario and I have a new game for anyone visiting my home town.

Find one residential street which doesn't have a house for sale somewhere on it.

If people find this game too difficult they can change the rules a bit like I had to and find a single block on a street which doesn't have a house for sale.

Windsor is a blue-collar town. It survives by the Big Three (GM, Chrysler and Ford) and we all know how well North American car makers are doing. The huge auto industry supports tool & die shops, feeder plants and trucking companies. Windsor makes parts for cars, quality controls those parts and assembles them all together so that everything is ready to drive right out the door.

Windsor has always been running on three-shift cycles. Keeping the minivans and cars rolling out the door 24/7. Everyone knows what a swing shift is. Everyone has a parent or uncle on the line. Everyone knows what TPT means and if it described you and you were young, you were the envy of all your friends.

Going to high school at Walkerville, everyone knew that you had to burn rubber home after school. It was essential to beat GM's shift change whistle and avoid the daily parade of greasy workers, lazily moseying towards the parking lot on the other side of Kildare.

I never realised how bad it was until I returned home.

Everyone has their own theories for why North America's auto industry is failing;

The unions.

Some line workers make the same wage as a good (or bad) mechanic and lots of people who don't work directly for the Big Three feel that the unions became too powerful and greedy. Working at a plant meant great benefits and very good money, if you could put up with the work.

The unions also became very lax. There's always stories of guys on the line being drunk or stoned or asleep on the job. Workers getting a dozen verbal warnings about substance abuse on the job but never getting written reprimands. For a union worker to get fired he has to kill someone while on the clock. And it would have to be another union worker on a higher rung of the ladder.

The city.

Ever since 9/11 the border to Detroit has been swamped. There's been big money dumped into plans of dumping bigger money into a new border corridor designed to help the industry and in true Windsor fashion, it's going nowhere quick.

Windsor has a history of making terrific, eventual promises with the worst plans ever.


It all comes down to putting out a product and Windsor is getting it's ass kicked in every direction. Products are manufactured terribly for the $30+/hour the Big Three are paying to get them made. This bumps up the price for the finished product and no one wants to pay $20,000 for a Vibe when they can get a Kia Rio for under 14k.

The CAW and workers have to get off their high horses and make some sacrifices that should have been made decades ago. City officials have got to get off their asses to help the people that elected them and act more like the leaders they're supposed to be.

Windsor doesn't have to die. But a minivan won't save it this time and Windsor will never be like it was when I was a kid.

At least the thousands of laid off workers that don't move to Calgary can stay busy by trying to keep Hiram Walker's in business.

Nostalgia is just feeling homesick when you're already home.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fucking hippies...

I don't hate all hippies. But I certainly hate the one's that smoke pot all day, hold drum circles in the rain, and preach about how we should never cut down a single tree again. Ever.

They're wrong and ignorant, and no amount Ben Harper or John Lennon listening is going to change things.

I haven't always hated hippies. I blame Thunder Bay for that. Lakehead University, where I spent two years has what I would call a large, hippie population. Hardcore hippies are some of the most useless people on Earth. With all their talk of bettering the environment they sure waste a lot. Animal rights are great as long as they can keep wearing leather sandals and wool socks in the winter.

I made up my mind on hippies when I talked to a hardcore hippie who was proudly sporting a genuine tiger's tooth as a necklace. Then she ran into the woods barefoot to squish her toes in the mud. Way to go, eco-warrior.

This video on The Hour, shows a new type of filthy hippie; the "Freegan". A freegan is a person who eats trash. The freegan slogan is "We won't buy your crap, but we'll eat your scrap."

All disgust aside for a moment, freegans could bring a lot of awareness to the issue that people toss away decent food all the time. As Hillary Doyle says, "You'd be shocked by the good stuff that is thrown out in people's trash."

But in true hippie fashion, they don't eat garbage to prove a point, they do it because it's a perverted form of ego-masturbation.

Want to be a freegan? Why not GROW your own food? Even better, start a city community of back-yard farmers and trade. It might work better for community awareness instead of half-assing it and scavenging. Hippies can be so short-sighted.

This Toronto couple, also on The Hour, has a much more reasonable approach to being eco-friendly and they don't seem interested in just saving a buck for pot and video games. Sarah McGaughey's interest in integrating more in their community is commendable and Kyle Glover's opening comment was very realistic and frightening.

Frightening because if we were all forced to throw our garbage in our own backyards, we'd probably have pot-head freegans hopping our fences, starting drum circles and eating our perfectly good trash.

Goddam hippies!