And if you’re a regular reader here, you probably have. Back in the spring of 2016, I wrote a post about crossing paths with James Caan when I lived in Los Angeles back, back, back in the 90s. On Thursday, James Caan died. Friday, I should write about that time I crossed paths with James Caan in the 90s, I thought. Also Friday, the Rogers outage. So I couldn’t check the site to see if I’d already written about it previously. But I mean, why would I, I thought. Nothing to do with municipal politics. So, I plunged ahead, writing a post about that time I crossed paths with James Caan while out in L.A. in the early-90s. On Saturday, with the internet restored, well, you can fill in the blanks.
But let’s not look at this as simply a case of me repeating myself or just going on and on about my one and only brush with celebrity. It’s more an examination of the nature of storytelling, the constant evolution of narrative. How does a story from twenty-five earlier change when told again six years on? Historical revision. Yeah, this is what it’s about, historical revision, and not the fact that I’m unwilling to toss aside a few hours of work
Filtering through the news reports of the “hazing” at Mississauga’s Transportation and Works Department, I wonder if we’re approaching its meaning and repercussions from the proper angle. Yes, many of the ‘Who Knew What and When’ questions absolutely need to be investigated and answered. There appears to have been a serious culture of fear and intimidation at work, forcing many of those involved to keep quiet out concern for job loss or becoming the next victim. That old Nazi foot soldier rationalization about participating or being added to the list.
Still, the city of Mississauga shouldn’t overlook bringing in some sort of sexual orientation counseling. The nature of the ‘pranks’ and ‘practical jokes’ now on display screams “Help me! I’m gay and can’t bring myself to admit it!’ That’s not to suggest that gay men who are comfortable in their skin are in the habit of spanking others, tying them up or smacking them in the privates, not that there’s anything wrong with that (you know I couldn’t pass up that homage if the opportunity arose) as long as it’s consensual and all that.
It’s just that in an all male environment when someone institutes an unofficial policy of bondage, spanking even when birthdays aren’t involved and sacking, well, I just have to wonder where the impulse is coming from. We can label it simple bullying and being drunk with power but, I can think of other, less sexual methods in which to employ such urges. Social ostracization. A steady diet of dirty and demeaning jobs. Cutting remarks across the lunchroom table.
I mean, for god’s sake, these guys spent much of their time, traveling around Mississauga shoving poles into holes! While there’s nothing exclusively ‘gay’ about that, it seems the whole environment at the city’s Transportation and Works Department was sexually charged. And how did it manifest itself? Man-on-man horseplay and hijinx. How long will it be before we hear about the use of the Atomic Sit Up?
So let’s not rush to judgment on this just yet. Bad behaviour must certainly be properly dealt with but I think there’s also a need for some understanding and outreach. Maybe if those responsible for overseeing these acts were given the opportunity to deal openly with their repressed personal issues this could be looked upon as an unfortunately hurtful and destructive learning experience. Put the pain behind them and get on living their lives with the freedom that comes from stepping out of the closet.