First, do no violence

First, do no violence
Photo by Stormseeker / Unsplash

This week I've got two very different kinds of violence on the mind. Political and culinary. One is totally funnier than the other.

Let’s start with the political. Everywhere you look you see an increase in toxicity and the kind of nastiness that drives good people away from politics. It’s not the first time I’ve talked about this and I am far from the only person affected by it. And no, the phenomenon is not new. I’ve received plenty of threats in my 25 years in the opinion business, and from different sources.

I’ve learned to develop a skin so thick I feel at home among alligators, but this isn’t something you necessarily want every politician to do. Opinion is my career and I need to be able to deal with that kind of nonsense otherwise I can’t work. But we don’t want everyone in politics to make that kind of investment.

For an advanced democracy to function properly, we want normal people to feel like serving the public in any kind of elected office is something they can do during their lifetime without ruining everything else they’ve accomplished over the years. You certainly don’t want them to have to think about their family’s safety.

The problem is not new but it’s worse than I’ve ever seen it and certainly since Donald Trump famously went down that escalator it’s become so normalized as to crowd out other kinds of public discourse, to the generalized pauperization (excuse the elitist term) of our political culture.

In the Ottawa Citizen this week I say leaders need to lead and denounce extremists in their midst. There is toxicity and violence in all parties and all leaders need to commit to not tolerating it in their own ranks. Not just call it out when it’s the other guys. It’s basic political hygiene and right now, political soap is what we need the most. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If you didn’t know about shaker fries that’s because McD no doubt realized early they had an epic McSpudDud on their hands and cleverly elected to tone down the advertising and let this horror die of its own unnatural causes.

What are shaker fries, you ask?

Fries you shake. No, really.

McD fries are perhaps the greatest bad food on the planet. When they’re hot and fresh and salted the way St. Ronald intended they are a delight that needs to be honoured but mostly devoured afore they get all mushified.

Why the geniuses who toil at McD University chose deliberately to fuck up such a perfect product I will never know.

The concept can be described but certainly not enjoyed. You get fries like normal, along with an empty bag and a sachet of powder. There are two kinds: churros and masala and all I can say is, thank goodness the former was no longer available when I showed up to try this thing. I don’t think I’d ever be the same again.

I dutifully dumped my lovely golden pieces of happiness into the sac along with that suspicious powder and did violence to my food with all the drama you expect from yours truly, accompanied as I was by Youngest and Middle Child.

Those two teenagers, at the peak of their sarcastic abilities, were essential to the exercise and not just as moral support. They provided me with the best descriptions for this ungodly and decidedly underwhelming mess.

“Like ramen seasoning on fries.”

“Like someone bought Indian food at Dollarama.”

And my absolute favourite: “It tastes like you ate Indian food and washed your mouth with mashed potatoes.”

Next time, McD, think before you risk ruining your perfect fries with such unconscionable violence.