Today was the annual “HSS Chills” event organized by the student association of the department in which I teach. The kids always impress me with how well they organize this event, which is always an outdoor barbecue thingy in the freezing cold. It’s meant to showcase the fact that our department is “homeless”, in that we lack a space of our own on campus.
This year, they decided to have a sort of “entertainment” feature. And for some reason they settled on a “debate” styled after the CBC’s comedic “The Debaters“. To be resolved: it is healthier to live in the Global North than in the Global South. Representing the former was my colleague Dr Anne Konkle. And representing the South was, of course, yours truly. In the centre, moderating it all, was the student association president, Mr Nick Valela.
Not knowing that the heck was expected of me, I opted to do it “in character”. My character was supposed to be a generic Latin American tinpot dictator. But I couldn’t sustain the Spanish accent. It sort of migrated to something vaguely Caribbean and Indian. Who knows. Also, in lieu of actually having arguments, I chose instead to write a bunch of stupid rhymes.
And since I like to keep a record of pretty much everything I’ve ever written, I’m sharing those rhymes with you now. We begin, though, with my observations of how the language and semantics between the North and South differ:
You call it diarrhea / We call it inexpensive weight loss
You call it poverty / We call it living without clutter
You call it “a bowl of poutine” / We call it “food for a family of five”
You call it a Caribbean cruise / We call it a floating ATM machine
You call it “the family pet” / We call it “an emergency food source”
You call it “bacteria and viruses” / We call it “tiny citizens who don’t pay taxes”
Then we move on to the responses to the first round of questions. I don’t remember that the question was. Doesn’t matter. It’s not like I was going to change my answer:
“Up North where the food is so bland
And where I cannot tell the woman from the man
With your fancy health care
And your doctors to spare
Yet you lack my oh-so-sexy tan”
“Down South I risk melanoma
But I drink so much, I’m in a coma
No, I have no vaccines
But my bod is so lean
So pour me a pina colada”
Response to the second round of questioning:
“There once was a man from the West
Who went in for his prostate test
He liked it quite a bit
So bought the home testing kit
And you can probably guess the rest”
“There was this lady from Manotick
Without a new kidney, she’d remain very weak
She was driven to tears
Because the wait time was in years
So she went to India and got it the same week”
Followed by the closing remarks:
“You have gum / We have rum
You have Xmas so merry / We have dysentery
You have the Ottawa mission / We have malnutrition
You have Coolio / We have Polio
You once had small pox / We still have big co….
You have Dr Ivy / We have HIV
You have late night talk show hilarity / We have high infant mortality
You have a bitter wind so cold it cuts like a knife / We have stable government for life!
You have universal health care / We have pirated software
You have mucho dinero / We watch the bootleg films of Robert DeNiro
You have cold and snow and ice / We have fleas, mosquitos and lice
You have wealth and a longer lifespan / We have beaches and sun and sand
You have President the Honourable Allan Rock / We have pretty girls in sexy slim frocks”
“North or South,
It doesn’t matter which you choose
But just remember:
There’s a lot more of us
Than there are of youse.”
Good night, everybody! Don’t forget to tip your server.
(I would have included my opponent’s comments, too. But, frankly, I wasn’t listening to her. Booyah! Take that, Konkle!)
In Other News…
I only just found out that British muscial impressario Malcolm McLaren died almost a year ago! McLaren was the man who brought us the Sex Pistols, Bow Wow Wow and an incarnation of Adam and the Ants. He also pioneered the introduction of hip hop, gay dance culture and opera into mainstream fashion and music.
Apparently, McLaren’s last words were, “Free Leonard Peltier“, which immediately had me wondering if he was calling for Peltier’s release from prison, or announcing a morose in-store giveaway. Heh heh. I slay me.
Anyway, here are three of McLaren’s great solo productions. The first is “Deep in Vogue“, which, I want everyone to understand, significantly predated Madonna’s vogue song. In fact, I bet Madonna got the idea from McLaren.
Next is “Madame Butterfly“, which was of course based on the opera. I remember when this song came about, idiot critics were predicting that opera would be the new pop. Ha!
Ain’t no one gonna complain about this. It’s McLaren’s version of “About Her“:
Aw heck, why not one more? This is an example of McLaren’s genius: finding some small aspect of urban culture and showing us the marvelosity of it. Yes, marvelosity. I just made up that word. Just imaging if today’s music videos were as small and fascinating as “Double Dutch“: