Thursday, March 24, 2011

Talkin' Canada Blues

     Disclaimer: The following is written by an aging man who has all the respect in the world for Canadians. No insult is intended. "All the world's a straightline." - Jackie Shakespeare.

     Lookin' at it from a pair of small town, Midwestern eyes, Canada is just about the same as the U.S. of A. And completely different at the same time. Can't put my finger on it exactly. Even the big city, sophisticated ones like the late Peter Jennings, can't hide from what they truly are when down here in the States. They may dress and act like us but sooner or later they always slip up. Kinda like the pod people in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. One moment they're talkin' fine English, then it happens. About, trout, cloud. Can't get 'em out without that extra 'oo' after the 'ow' sound, eh.
     Crossing the border at Pembina, ND.  All of a sudden the world changes. Not like there's third-worlders milkin' goats exactly. Look at the highway and the fields. What happened to the crisp, straight lines? Not quite finished off. The same but at the same time, not the same. Like some some 1960's pot smokin', science fiction, alternate universe thing. Then there's the road signs. All the ass-kickin' eagles and apple pie flags are gone. Replaced by maple leaves. How gay is that?
     You start gettin' a little nervous. Wondering what's coming up the road. Trouble, adventure, anal probe? Head north up that road. What the hell is going on? Ever so slowly the clock starts to run backwards. Full service gas stations selling gas for eighty cents a liter, whatever the hell a liter is. You look in the rear view mirror. The face lookin' back's just as wrinkled as it was in the morning. Time goin' both ways.
     The radio. Both AM and FM. For more than a hundred miles there's nuthin'. Hit seek and watch the numbers spin round and round. Like a slot machine that never pays off. Then, out of nowhere, zap!, in comes a discussion on how the universe works. Look out the window at bog, swamp and forest flyin' by. Inside, the man's talkin' red shift, big bang and quarks. Then it's gone. Poof! An hour later the Northern Lights are shining and you have an uncontrollable urge to call them the Aurora Borealis. Is there any wonder why a body gets to talkin' about UFO's around the campfire?
     Twenty five smokes in a pack. Ten in one foil. Fifteen in the other. Says it's navy cut on the box. Maybe it's not tobacco? The warning on the side more or less says, "Smoking brings on the Apocalypse." Serious stuff, man. Gets you to thinkin'. Ah, what the heck, it don't mean nuthin'. Put twenty of 'em in the old tin and hit the water.
     Then there's Lightfoot. As in Gordon. Blast from the past except up here. Sounds so Canadian when I'm down in the States. Like a chunk of Canada up on the stage. Posing, not movin' around. Those sharp, clipped phrases. Yeah, it's folk. Yup, it's country. Mostly it's just Canadian. Like whatever they call an Alberta Clipper up in Alberta. But north of the border he's overload. Can't put his CD's on without laughing. Just too much Canada to handle at once.
     One time we heard French-Canadian hip hop coming at us like a mini-gun. Didn't matter if we spoke the language. Looked at each other with, "What the hell was that?" in our eyes.
     Travelin' north. End of the road. Canada.

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