Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Nova Scotia Represent

I ran across references to Nova Scotia in two unexpected places this past week, which is always fun and makes me think, “The world DOES know we exist!”

The first came as I was listening to the latest episode of The Zero Hour, a TV  and radio show (and podcast) hosted by Richard ‘RJ’ Eskow. I stumbled across the show on YouTube last year and had assumed Eskow had a background in journalism but he’s actually more of a consultant/public policy guy (and a former adviser to the Bernie Sanders campaign). He has long, thoughtful discussions with guests (and a super cheesy, synthesized theme song that makes you think you’ve accidentally clicked on a ’70s superhero cartoon).

The Nova Scotia connection? Eskow’s first guest on the latest episode was Terry Gibbs, associate professor of political science at Cape Breton University (CBU), talking about her book Why the Dalai Lama is a Socialist: Buddhism, Socialism and the Compassionate Society. 

The next reference was truly random. I was watching an episode of Rita, a kind of reactionary Danish television series about a 40-something teacher who dresses like a teenager, smokes like a chimney, flouts all the rules, refuses to “coddle” students, insults parents and yet somehow connects with (and saves) pretty much every troubled student in her school. (As I type, I realize I should probably not be admitting I watch this. Can we file it under “guilty pleasures?”) The most recent season could have been set in Nova Scotia, as it centered around the impending closure of Rita’s school due to declining enrollment. But the actual reference to NS was much more startling: the season was told partly in flashbacks to 1985 when Rita was a teenager. At one point, she appears wearing the shirt pictured at left.

I couldn’t get a clearer shot because it seems they glued her hair to her shoulders for this scene, but the shirt says “Truro: Canada” and features a picture of a fisherman with a lobster.

Remember, this scene is set in 1985, before clothing became super cheap and everyone started finding t-shirts like these in their local second-hand stores. Presumably, someone in Rita’s small Danish town actually went to Truro in the ’80s and all she got was this stupid t-shirt. Sadly, the shirt’s origins were not explored during the episode, but now that they’ve shown they can embrace the flashback, I have reason to hope the writers will set a big chunk of Season Five in Truro.




Make My (Cindy) Day

Cindy Day (Source: SaltWire Network)

Cindy Day (Source: SaltWire Network)

When CTV meteorologist Cindy Day made the leap from television to print, joining the SaltWire Network, I have to admit to wondering what, exactly, a meteorologist would do in print. I associate weather people so closely with seizure-inducing graphics that I couldn’t imagine one surviving in an ink-on-newsprint world.

That said, I could also imagine the joy — for someone who had to wear a different outfit every night and have it critiqued by a thousand would-be Atlantic Canadian Mr. Blackwells — of sitting in the privacy of your own home, writing in your pajamas. Also, I assumed she was getting paid really, really well.

So I waited with interest to see what print-based weather journalism would look like. For those of you who haven’t read her column yet, it looks like this:

The weather rollercoaster has left the station, taking with it the wildly fluctuating temperatures.

Ah yes, how well I can remember standing on the platform in the Toronto subway, listening to the blood-curdling screams of the passengers trying to read their papers and drink their coffee as the morning rollercoaster plunged into the station, flipping everyone upside down one last time before screeching to a stop.

But I’m letting a bad metaphor distract me from the serious content of Thursday’s weather column, which was: frozen soap bubbles.

The reason you need to start your day with in-depth knowledge of the science behind the frozen soap bubble is…no, I’m sorry, I can’t even.

Congratulations, Cindy Day, you’ve clearly landed one sweet gig.


Cape Breton ‘Dreamer’

The by-line free story that appeared in the Cape Breton Post on Friday under the headline, “Changing identities has consequences for Boisdale man” makes for an interesting read at a time when the fate of undocumented immigrants in the United States is the subject of daily news coverage.

The undocumented immigrant in this story is not one of the 1.8 million “dreamers” — immigrants brought to the United States as children whose fate has become a political football — but an 80-year-old Boisdale native named Jack Morrison.

Morrison explains how he left Cape Breton at 14 and “joined the army” (because, apparently, in 1952 you could join the Canadian army at 14) and “eventually made it to Quebec” where he married and worked.

His marriage eventually failed and in 1968, he rented a car and drove to California where he found work as a pool hustler. Then he studied “salesmanship and sales management” and worked across the US, including New York City and New Orleans.

Although he never divorced his first wife, he “married an Italian woman in New York City, divorced her and then remarried her and they stayed together for 19 years before they divorced for the second time.”

He doesn’t seem to have had much concern for bureaucracy in any form — in addition to the bigamy, he acquired a fake identity:

At one point, he had worked in a New Orleans bar and was given the opportunity to obtain U.S. documentation. It would mean he would no longer have to be paid under the table. He chose a name and knocked 10 years off his age since it’s easier for a younger person to get work. At the time it seemed like a good move but it would eventually come back to haunt him.

“I threw away all my Canadian identification and I changed my name to Owens, Jack Owens,” he said. “That was a mistake.”

Not surprisingly, all this proved problematic when he retired in 2010 and went, with his Canadian birth certificate (which he still had despite having thrown away all his Canadian ID), to claim his social security:

“I showed them my birth certificate which is Canadian and they looked at it and said what is this?” Morrison said. “I said it’s my birth certificate. I’m from Canada but I’m married to an American girl and apparently when you marry an American you automatically get dual citizenship and she said no, no, they changed the law in 1987.

“I said, oh really?”

Long story short: Morrison was deported to Canada and now lives in Toronto. His story is told in the Cape Breton Post because he was on the Island over Christmas to “repay some money he owed to a cousin” and while here, was “reunited” with his sister, who is pictured with him in the blurry photo that accompanied the article.

By this point, my head was spinning — who is this “American girl” he’s married to in 2010? Is she different from “the Italian woman?” Would a person really just assume he had US citizenship without, say, attempting to acquire documents proving it? Would he waltz into a US social security office and present a Canadian birth certificate bearing an entirely different name from the one he’d been working under and not expect it to be problematic? Would it really not occur to him to divorce his first wife before marrying his second?

Actually, I take it back — Morrison is a dreamer. He may be the biggest dreamer of all.







The Cape Breton Spectator is entirely reader supported. Please consider subscribing today!