Monday, August 12, 2013

Shithouse sociology

From my perch here in the outhouse, I have a nice view of all the boat traffic heading to and from the eastern reaches of the lake. Aside from looking out at the boat traffic, I find that this is a very nice spot to settle in and read a book.

I'm working my way through Marlon Brando's autobiography at the moment.

Regular readers will realize that reading in the shithouse is not a recent phenomenon with the top analyst at Falling Downs.

In my youth I often found myself in workshops and factories wherein the shithouse offered the best available respite from the grinding monotony of the shop floor.

In fact, at the shipyard I became somewhat of a legend for disappearing hours on end into the bathroom with the fattest tomes on offer at the Saint John public library.

The shipyard crew had the same generalized anti-intellectual bent common in most blue-collar workplaces at the time, and I believe that the reason my bathroom habits made me a legend instead of a target was the assumption that I was using these books as a pillow and was not actually reading them.

What has caught my notice as I sit here on the island observing the boat traffic, is that there are far fewer sailboats on the lake today than there would have been five years ago, or ten, or twenty...

What could possibly account for this decline?

That Brando fellow was quite a piece of work. Have to say I really liked him in the Godfather.

Ditto Apocalypse Now.

Last Tango just left me feeling I'd watched somebody's dirty home movie. A middle-aged creeper boning a young hottie up the bottom is no doubt a great moment for the middle-aged creeper, but it's really difficult to locate the artistic merit in that, if you know what I mean.

Here's my theory on the decline of recreational sailing:

It's not about money. The folks running V-8 power boats up and down the lake at high speed could easily afford to sail, but they don't want to.

They've got places to get to and things to do.

Sailing is, after all, "outdoor recreation." Like camping, it's got to be an end in itself and not just a means to an end. Whose family today wants to spend the day on the sailboat when they could be snuggled up at the cottage with their internet?

Let's get there as fast as we can.

Let's get back as fast as we can.

That's why there are more supercharged 900 horsepower big-block V-8's on the lake than there are spinnakers.

That wasn't the case twenty years ago.

Perhaps the greatest shithouse intellectual I ever knew was my pal Johnny at GE. Johnny never finished high school but he finished the Globe and Mail crossword every day in the shitter at GE for over thirty years.

What I really respect about Brando is his commitment to native rights. I had no idea that he was actually in the building with those AIM guys when they were being beseiged and shot at by the cops in Wisconsin.

GE eventually made good on the threat they'd trotted out every couple of years at contract time; "we're gonna shut you down and build our transformers somewhere else."

Finally Johnny was able to do the Globe and Mail crossword at his kitchen table at home.

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