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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mama Wanted Something Real
So the other day at the office, mail arrived with a Sackville, Nova Scotia postmark and my name and work address handwritten on the envelope. Generally speaking, a handwritten address on an envelope received in a work setting is an automatic sign of trouble. If found, just walk away. You have probably just received anthrax. Or a dead animal.

Nonetheless I decided to open it. And thank god I did.

Inside I found only a copy of the first thing I ever wrote for Maclean's - an 80-word endorsement of Lupe Fiasco's record - neatly clipped from the magazine. The sender had taken obvious care to delicately remove the review from that week's issue, but there was nothing else with it. The only message was carefully and altogether rather artfully inscribed at the very bottom of the clipping:

"Fuck you!"

Now, generally speaking, it is a bad idea to write about or otherwise celebrate one's hate mail. If you're particularly proud of the fact that people think you're an asshole, chances are you are, in fact, an asshole. That said, this dispatch from Sackville raised a number of existential questions I have pondered ever since opening it.

For instance: What or who has offended this person? Is he objecting to me? Lupe? Rap? Or maybe what I have said about Lupe and rap music? Does he have some issue with Jay-Z or Kanye West, two artists who were also mentioned in the review? Does he have some issue with the fact that I hold such artists in high regard? Is he a hip-hop fan who questions my knowledge or a Rita McNeil fan who questions my taste?

Do I know this person? Have I wronged him in the past? If so, is he upset that I am now threatening to spoil his Maclean's subscription? Or was he simply reading this issue in the doctor's office during an egregiously long wait to have a boil attended to and needed to take his anger out on the nearest available person who would not be able to immediately retaliate?

If we assume that this last scenario is true - and really, it seems entirely plausible - then that means this person read the review, found himself irritated while reading it, had his boil taken care of, put his pants back on, left the doctor's office, went home, carefully clipped the review from the magazine, looked up the Maclean's office address, found an envelope, scrawled his short message at the bottom of the clip, put it inside the envelope, sealed it, wrote the address on the front, stamped it with his home address, affixed a stamp, got in his car, drove to the post office and, finally, mailed it. In that order. More or less.

All that to say, "Fuck you!" A phone call would have taken less time. An e-mail, less effort. But this man opted for old fashioned, inter-provincial mail service.

I suspect you assume this person is probably somewhat imbalanced. But, assuming you assume this, I beg to differ. This person strikes me as an impressively passionate soul. One who engages life and the world with a vigor rarely seen in Western society - most of us driven to apathy by comfort and excess.

May we all be so vigorous in the New Year. So willing and ready to gaze upon life's rich tapestry and proudly proclaim to one all, from largest beast to smallest child, "Fuck you!"

***

You want to hear a truly crazy idea? That someone might give me a forum to encourage the careers of pop idols and drug addicts. No good can possibly come from that.

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