Middle age struck at about 2:25pm Tuesday afternoon. I had an epiphany heading east on Dupont just past Bathurst, stuck physically (and metaphorically) in the slow lane. Well, it wasn't exactly an epiphany - I think those happen in an instant whereas mine has been brewing for a while now. It used to annoy me that people the age I am now rarely raged against the machine. I scoffed at their passivity and saw it as a sign of weakness. Nobody protested (or for that matter complained all that much) even though the world was so obviously and wretchedly dicked. I was a child of the sixties and grew up at a time of perpetual civil unrest and it seemed everyone packed up their protest kits and tripped out on KC and the Sunshine Band just when I was ready to march in the streets.
Which brings me to Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, a recent PAL arrival that had some buzz on the festival circuit last year and interested me. The film is an apparently accurate account of a famously nasty left-wing terrorist organization centred in West German in the late '60s and early '70s. They were hardcore anarchists that saw American Imperialism as a variant on Fascism and executed countless bank robberies, kidnappings, bombings of U.S. army bases, right-wing press industries and pretty much anyone else that they saw as part of the corrupt “system”. The film is well-made and follows the story through to its inevitable and sad conclusion.
What, you might ask, is the connection between these two seemingly unrelated experiences? Wisdom is the short answer. You see, yesterday I was on my way to sign an update to the police search waiver for the City of Toronto Restaurant License renewal for the FBE (don't ask) when my epiphany happened. I'd already signed one 4 years ago (a perpetual waiver, I hasten to add) that apparently needs to be updated every 3 years. I stood in line in East York for an hour and a half to be told that, because my home address had changed since perpetuity started, that I needed my SIN number for them to process the updated waiver and restart the perpetuity clock. The letter requesting that I indemnify the City and allow them access to my personal information was actually addressed to a mysterious “Mr. Duggal”. I drew a blank stare when I asked if the clerk saw the irony in that. I drove back across the city to get my beaten-up SIN card and was half-way back to the east end when I realized that I wasn't outraged at by the bureaucratic buffoonery of the City of Toronto. It was at that point that I realized that I'd officially hit middle age and it came as a bit of a shock to me that it wasn't passivity or weakness that gave cause for me to accept the situation for what it was, but wisdom. The Little Lord Fauntleroys that gravitate to the civil service from their hall monitor positions in high school just weren't worth the effort. Yes, I may have been temporarily trapped in a Kafka novel edited by Orwell, but I wasn't enraged about it.
During Comrade Miller and his bumboy-henchmen's current reign of terror, the City of Toronto has morphed rather quickly into a left-totalitarian nightmare.....and I'm OK with that. The Baader-Meinhof crowd probably wouldn't have been because they were fundamentally at odds with the kind of top-down zealotry that pervades regimes that govern from either extreme. The kind of people that are attracted to these oppressive, we-know-better groups need simply to be avoided. They are a combination of the bullies and victims that we all saw growing up. The bullies are still on their power trips because they have no penises and the scrawny victims of school yard whoopings discovered theirs in their twenties and are looking for revenge. I had been confusing passivity with common sense – and that was what I became aware of on the way over, for a second time, to the City of Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards Department at 2:25 Tuesday afternoon ...on Dupont just past Bathurst.
After waiting in line for a second 90 minutes, a very nice man updated my address, I signed and skipped out happy-as-Larry. On my way home I realized that he didn't even ask me for my SIN card. No biggie. If you let this stuff get to you, you'll end up bitter, whithered and disillusioned. Nothing short of mass executions would solve the banality of the City of Toronto's council and civil bureaucracy, so it's just easier to avoid them, keep your head down and pick your fights.
Baader and Meinhof learned this too late and had to off themselves as a result.