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Being a conservative punk

To many conservatives, and punks, the concept of “conservative punk” is ridiculous but as Johnny Ramone (perhaps the most famous punk of all time) once exclaimed “punk is right wing”. With bands like the Dead Kennedys, the Clash and Rancid championing left-wing ideas, it can sometimes be hard to see that anarchism is a fact of life on the punk scene. Being a traditionalist conservative and a punk can sometimes feel like two separate impulses or leading two lives but its actually not difficult to see the overlap, if you wanted to look. Nor is it difficult to find conservative voices on the punk scene. You may remember the American media reporting back in 2004 on a group called Conservative Punk that made waves rallying support for George W. Bush. Michale Graves, a former singer for the Misfits, wrote a column on the group’s website. Graves is well-known for performing in a skull mask and singing lyrics like “the boiled blister pops inside”. "I look like someone who should be hanging out with Marilyn Manson — in fact I have hung out with Marilyn Manson," Mr. Graves said. "It doesn't affect what my morals are." So what exactly are the overlaps between conservatism and being punk? To understand that, it’s important to remember that punk began as a reaction against the hippie movement. That’s evident in the looks and styles of early punks and is still visible in many elements of the subculture. Hippies wore hemp and tie-dye so punks wore leather and black. Hippies grew their hair long so punks shaved their head. Hippies were anti-violence so many punks embraced violence. Punk was a rebellion from the start against the dominant youth culture of the day. It was never explicitly political. Punk was a blank canvas and bands and… Read More

A tale of fandom – Montreal Comicon Power Rangers panel

I have been to a lot of Comicons. At last count I believe Montreal Comicon 2014 was my eighth. Philadelphia, Ottawa, New York, Montreal, Bangalore, London and Manchester being the first seven. The thing with Comicon is that it isn’t about the celebrities and guest appearances; it’s about the fans. Sure a lot of money changes hands at Comicons, people pay for autographs, for photo sessions, for merchandise and artwork, food and all kinds of other things. But the reason everyone goes to Comicon is because they are all fans. Geek culture, nerd culture or whatever you want to call it, is coming into the mainstream more and more every year and yet to a lot of attendees, being a fan of specific types of media is still a cause for ridicule out in the real world. Whether real or imagined the sense of persecution has not faded from the conscious of the nerd community. In my opinion that sense of persecution is what fuels the dozens of conventions that go on in cities all over the world calling themselves Comicon. Comicon is the place where we gather, where dressing up as whatever you want isn’t met with derision but celebrated, where fat guys in green pants and glasses become small time celebrities and anime cosplayers are the norm rather than the exception. To comicon attendees this is all fantastic and part of the fun but this doesn’t translate nearly as well in the outside world, if it did, we wouldn’t need comicon. And yet what makes Star Wars any less deserving of mass following than say, NHL hockey? As a self-professed nerd I would say it isn’t. And yet no one was ever bullied, teased or otherwise mocked in grade school for wearing a hockey jersey, the same cannot… Read More

American Sniper – Bridging the real and the imaginary

Martha Nussbaum is an eminent scholar of classical literature and philosophy. Her fame extends beyond academia; she has influenced discussions of public educational policy, and more general current cultural attitudes. For over two decades, she has weighed in on public disputes about feminism, abortion law, and affirmative action. She frequently draws on her own re-interpretation of classical texts while acting as an advocate of contemporary liberalism. Her own views exemplify 'the personal as the political': she acknowledges that she reacted strongly against the outlook of her father, a wealthy Southerner and a highly racist WASP, who strongly disapproved of her marriage to a Jew and conversion to Judaism. She has ardently defended religious toleration, especially for Muslims in modern America. She has also championed liberal education, again drawing on her views of the wisdom of the Greeks. From them, she admires above all the invention of cosmopolitanism, most associated with the Athenian cynic, Diogenes. Her most celebrated and debated essay, Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism, held that public education worldwide should actively encourage "allegiance to the community of human beings in the entire world". It was published in a book, For Love of Country? (Beacon, 2002), with fifteen responding essays, polite but critical, including one by McGill's Charles Taylor. The contributors, with the single exception of Gertrude Himmelfarb, were all liberal or leftish academics, and were nearly all in respectful disagreement. They defended, if rather uneasily, a `reasonable patriotism`, to be distinguished – as they thought Nussbaum failed to do - from ethnocentricity and chauvinism. Clint Eastwood is by now a cultural phenomenon in his own right, of a very different kind from both Nussbaum and most of her polite critics. Clint Eastwood is by now a cultural phenomenon in his own right, of a very different kind from both Nussbaum and… Read More

Goofy NHL plans for 2016 World Cup

Let us visit the summer of 2017 in Newmarket, Ontario, home town of Connor McDavid, the NHL’s newest superstar. After a triumphant first two years in the NHL with Carolina, McDavid should be greeted as a hero by the hockey-worshipping locals. But as he walks down the familiar streets, McDavid senses a coolness as familiar faces are standoffish. How could this be? You see, McDavid scored the winning goal at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, defeating Team Canada in the final 3-2. The residents of Newmarket, along with the rest of Canada, can’t seem to lose the image of McDavid shaking hands with a vanquished Sidney Crosby, Canada’s captain for the event. Their anticipation at seeing Team Canada triumphant is ruined by McDavid’s brilliance for the 23-and-under NHL stars. Far fetched? Perhaps. But the NHL/ NHLPA’s loopy decision to field a team of North American players 23 and younger in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey has raised this very scenario. McDavid didn’t grow up in Newmarket dreaming of beating his national team in a tournament. He wanted to be like Crosby, netting a winner in the Olympics with the maple leaf on his chest. The same for Jack Eichel, McDavid’s equivalent in the United States. Taking on the stars and stripes is a nightmare, not a dream. The decision to force them… not ask or cajole or bribe them.. to play for a hybrid squad in a tournament for which they’d surely qualify to play on their national team would have seemed like a good idea if you didn’t think about it more than 20 seconds. “Hey, let’s make sure the young guys in our league who might not play on the national teams get a chance to be seen in this NHL spectacular.” Sure. But how will… Read More

Social Tedium – A Christmas Carol

[Sing to the air 'The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring', with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan.]     From Apple new wonders still spring, tra-la, replacing last year's as old hat; We grapple again with their bling, tra-la, though feeling like brains in a vat; Yes, feeling like brains in a vat. Which leads us at times to gloomily wonder if what Jobs hath wrought was a terrible blunder.   Tra-la-la-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la.   The friends found on Facebook we ring, tra-la, are not souls we really divine; But to them we're bound and we bring, tra-la, our i-phones along as we dine, Yes, our i-phones along as we dine. We're ready all times to answer their call, but unfriend some friends for no reason at all;   Tra-la-la-la-la-la, Tra--la-la-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la.   We Twitter our Tweets without cease, tra-la, and so all our memories drown; And litter the streets with the grease, tra-la, of accidents caused by eyes down. Yes, of accidents caused by eyes down. A Tweet may look sweet, but the aftertaste's bitter; best lift up our eyes and miss the odd Twitter;   Tra-la-la-la-la-la, Tra--la-la-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la.   Now Instagrams offer more news, tra-la, and viral new hashtags galore; Busy webcams take numerous views, tra-la, of cuddly cat gags by the score; Yes, of cuddly cat gags by the score. A banquet of sights in the palm of our hand, from models in tights to the latest boy band;   Tra-la-la-la-la-la, Tra--la-la-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la.   The selfie's becoming a drug, tra-la, now rivalling pot and cocaine; Smug and snug as a bug in a rug, tra-la, we've found a new way to be vain. Yes, found a new way to be vain. We're still bound to guess that the rage for the selfie may… Read More

Jean Beliveau – A Legendary Career

The news that Montreal Canadiens great Jean Béliveau died on 03 December was poignant on a number of different counts. One that stands out is that he was one of the last prominent sports figures in history who was truly deserving of the description “gentleman.” (His contemporary Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax also comes to mind in that regard) Today, when so many athletes, professional or amateur, cultivate the look of hoodlums, it is refreshing to view images of Beliveau as a player and in retirement. The fact that he had an open invitation to be Governor-General and join Canada’s Senate testifies to the deep respect in which he was held by virtually everyone whose life he touched. Although his personal statistics are impressive enough, Béliveau tended to be overshadowed by the stars he played with and against. During Béliveau’s early years as a player Maurice Richard enjoyed a special status among Montreal hockey fans until he retired in 1960. Gordie Howe’s goal totals were better than Béliveau’s, Bobby Hull, Bernie Geoffrion, and Frank Mahovlich were more flamboyant, and in the last years of his career stars such as Bobby Orr understandably got more headlines. Béliveau appeared content to be the consummate team player, someone who supplied leadership without stealing the limelight. Yet, at playoff time Béliveau was impossible to ignore. Having watched him over the years in person at the Montreal Forum and on television, I can tell you there was no better money player in the entire history of the NHL. The tributes have poured in and Béliveau’s many accomplishments on and off the ice are being duly noted. Allow me to mention what I believe to be his greatest distinction. He was Montreal Canadiens captain during what I like to call the “forgotten dynasty”. From 1964-65 to… Read More
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