An icon of the incompetence of the American Left

Tuesday night. I’ve been back in Montreal for less than a full day. I spent my day catching up on email and all that stuff that one catches up on upon returning from a trip. I had planned to attend a protest against Bush at 5:30 at the lovely plaza at the corner of Peel and Rene-Levesque.

But there’s a lot of catching up to do, you see. So I fudge. I’ve been to my fair share of protests, and I know that they always begin with an hour or so of speeches from all the various coalitions involved before you go marching off and waving banners and yelling slogans(1). That’s how it was done in Minneapolis, Chambana, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. So I do a couple more things, since post protest, we’ve got dinner plans and then will go see the very heavy ISIS.(2) I then head down to the Metro and over to the protest. I get to the square at 6:15. It’s dead quiet. A TV truck is packing up. There are no stragglers, no stage or podium left behind. Not even signs dropped here and there. The protesters went off a-marching long enough ago that I can’t even hear them in any direction(3). Wow. I am totally disappointed and I feel stupid. I’d really looked forward to participating in a massive protest against Bush post-election. It seemed like it would mean something.

So much for prior experience. And the stereotype is all wrong. Sure, Canadians (and residents of Quebec, especially) may have a reputation as laid back, but don’t show up to the protest or the rock show late, or you’ll miss out.

So what does one do when one misses a protest? Well, I didn’t really have enough time to go home to do that last hour of work I need to put away before I start meeting with people tomorrow morning. So I went shopping and picked up some new covers for my earphones (yeah, a big $5 expense, but you wouldn’t believe how many places I’ve tried in the last couple weeks before someone actually had them in stock) and now I’m sitting here blogging and feeling slightly like a dumbass. Plus I told a bunch of people I was going to go protest, so now I’ve got to tell this tail-between-my-legs story a few times.


Plan: Work, Protest, Dine, Rock, Blog

Reality: Work too long, go shopping, blog, dine, rock.

It’s not like that’s the difference between radicalism and consumerism, but there’s a pathos to it.

Ah well, next time, I’ll be on time.

In other news, Pittsburgh was wonderful and less weird than you might imagine. While I love my new Montreal friends, it’s also true that you can’t hurry the process of making old friends. So it was a real pleasure to see people and to catch up. I also got a little space to think, which is harder to get than you might imagine. The semester is like one long sprint, and I got enough distance to think about other things, like how to talk about disciplinarity, and with the help of my former colleague Pete Simonson, what changes I should make to my big lecture style for this new course in the winter term (4). I’m not sure that blogging one’s vacations works that well, though Charlie Bertsch has managed it. I’ll try again over winter break.


(1) Actually, I wouldn’t be yelling anything since I’ve lost my voice. Too much fun and/or talking in Pittsburgh, I guess.
(2) You’d think from reading this blog that I’m a headbanger or something. The fact is that I do like to rock, but I also like to groove and a whole lot of other things too. But there is something special about a live rock show. Plus, ISIS is reported to sell their own special earplugs.
(3) Yes, I’d taken the iPod earphones out of my ears by then.
(4) No, I did not type “spring” and then fix it to winter. I’m learning.

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