2003-08-17 � Blackout Blues

I got the Big Bad Blackout Blues

I've long and involved stories to share about the whole blackout experience, but I'm too paranoid about power consumption and rolling blackouts and hard drive frying power surges to stay on long enough to get it all down. Thanks to Mad Mayor Mel Lastman and Ontario Premier Ernie Eves, I have very vivid imaginings that every second I spend on the computer, another year of life is sucked from some poor sweat sodden senior citizen who is currently being forced to climb 77 flights of stairs to his/her apartment because my energy consumption knocked out the elevator in their highrise apartment building. Not to mention the refrigerator which keeps their life sustaining beverages and medications and the cat's half-eaten tins of Whiskers, the old beat up fan which regulates their body temperatures and keeps their oxygen tanks from overheating and exploding all over the place, burying sharp heated shrapnel in their tendermost regions etc.etc.etc.

This weekend has been rather odd. And more than a little bit eerie. It's strange when everything's closed... the gas station, the library, the Go Train station. The power here has flicked off twice since Thursday night... everything letting go and shutting down with a tired whirrrr and then the silence... big, gaping, yawning and surreal. You don't realize how much ambient sound your various appliances and the neighbour's various appliances produce until they are suddenly silenced. It's down right unnerving.

Also unnerving is the fact Mad Mel keeps appearing on CNN and making bizarre rambling speeches warning about the dangers of candles and neon signs. There exists in this city a certain affection for Mel and I get that... he provides some of the cheesy entertainment value you might get from a doddering old uncle who's a little too fond of the brewski and loud golf pants. But my god, people! Who decided it would be okay to let him represent Canada's largest city on CNN?! They broadcast to the world... the whole wide world... for pete's sake and I don't think the rest of the world is gonna get Mad Mel and indulge that babbling buffoon with the same grudging humor we do.

Jack and I were just doubled over with laughter watching his antics the other night. The guy simply cannot make a simple statement and leave it. There must always be some achingly personal detail attached. Like for example, on Friday night when he was warning all of us in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) about the hazards of candles....

"...And for the love of God, Do NOT burn Candles! No Candles! Not even the green striped ones your mother's Aunt Gertie gave you for Easter back in 1963... the ones that smell like spearmint gum. Not even those. Because you cannot always watch these candles. And they are SNEAKY! There might be a dog... a yellow dog... and the dog might have a curly tail. And the yellow dog might be chasing a rubber ball and it bounces and the dog knocks over the candle with his curly tail and next thing you know the drapes are on fire and they might be gingham drapes or maybe they're velvet and the fire just eats them up and then catches the roof on fire and next thing you know everything is on fire and you have green wax all over your fingers and on your clothes from trying to catch the candle, but if you do, you just let my son know because he has a dry cleaning business, my son does, and he can get that wax right out of your clothes because he is the best damn dry cleaner in all of Toronto which is the best city in the whole wide world. Even if we don't have any power right now and the poor senior citizens have to climb up ninety flights of stairs with a large salami clutched in their fist because the salami at the grocery stores is all going bad but Toronto is such a great city that they're giving the salami away for free to the poor senior citizens who wear support hose and live in high rises that are at least 20 stories high and I know there's you folks who are living in little towns and sucking up all of the power which should rightfully go to Toronto because we are the greatest city in the world and our need is so much greater than yours, you people in little towns who think a four story building is a high rise apartment. But let me tell you, it's not. Especially when you are old and carrying a salami and maybe walking a yellow dog with a curly tail... blah blah blah...."

Yes, indeed. That's pretty much verbatim from Mayor Mel's Friday Night rally cry. Really. Word for Word. No kidding. Yup.*

Anyway... the long and short of it is I feel like a fly suspended in amber. And it kinda sucks.

*Okay, so I'm exaggerating Mayor Mel's speech a wee bit. But just a wee bit.

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