The Transformers

“You haven’t heard of the Transformers?” asks Sebastian.  His height in feet is six, his grade, eight, shoe size, eleven.  Like he’s not a transformer himself.

“No.  What’s the general category?  1960’s toy train hardware?  General knowledge?  Films—that’s it, isn’t it?  Modern films.”

“Who hasn’t heard of the Transformers?  You and, I don’t know, some kids in Africa.”

“What are their names?  I’d like to meet…”

“Point is,” says Sebastian, “it’s these sci-fi movies about these evil aliens that have turned themselves into cars and are destroying the world?”

“They’re trying to say that’s fiction?”  I shake my head.

“I’ve grown this much since we moved in,” Liam says, spreading his fingers from the bottom to the top of his brain cavity.  Oh-oh, I think, a nine-year-old with a brain.  Better get on that.

Later we’re paddling north on Rusholme contemplating hanging a Louie on Bloor, but the water main’s not that broken.  Bloor’s a reef.  Liam’s in the twelve-foot Old Town but I’m cheating a little by pulling him on my bike.  I see some American redwhitenblue in the distance—Canadian pigs do love their American cars—but by the time I’m off the reef and back into clear water we’re slowjaysimpsoning south on Rusholme with pigs in tepid pursuit.

“Just what exactly are you doing?”  The question at my elbow is close enough that I can smell donut breath, undertone of steroids.

What are we doing?  I’m all over that strategy, the old lure, the snappy-answers-to-stupid-questions routine.  The what’s-it-look-like-we’re-doing comeback.  Not going to get me that way.  “Ah, so you’re a skeptic in the fundamentals of ontological perception?”  I stick to explaining what a canoe is.  Suggest that maybe it’s Miller time and we’ll be coming in off the river now, eh.  “Yeah, you do that,” says Steroid.  His partner shows us how he can make the back of the car shrink according to the laws of perspective, and we go “phew.”  Few seconds later there’s just silence and a bit of car wake.

Liam records the event in his new brain for future consideration.

“Our people were canoeing this creek for five thousand years before some bozo buried it forty feet down and called it a street,” I say to Liam.

“Our people?”

“Their doing that for five thousand years—that’s how we know they’re our people.”

The water in the “street” is three inches deep.  What I’m thinking but not saying is, the water main’s not that broken—yet.  Plenty of time to have a crack at daylighting that poor creek down there.

Later I’m on the roof with my Book of Calamities.  The pro-torture senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, shrugging off photographs of the victims of Abu Ghraib, has apparently said, “you know they’re not there for traffic violations.”

But of course they are, I’m thinking.  I think it into the computer for twenty-second-century “readers”—and yeah, even now we know that word’s a bit old-fashioned, just for the record.

Of course they’re in places like that for traffic violations.  The world is ground under by American lust for violent trafficking of all sorts, including the literal kind that leads to literal traffic.  American wars are only partly for oil but they are entirely about America’s freedom of violation, its liberty to violate whomever, whenever, world without end.  Anyone trying to prosecute a case against this license will be cut down on the principle that prosecutors will be violated.

Oppress people for three generations and it starts to look natural.  By the fourth generation, it seems like destiny made manifest.  A hundred years can seem like forever.  But the worst oppressors are still just a scab that can be sloughed off.  We’ve been here for thousands of years.  There’s time.

DAVID Ker THOMSON lives in the Dufferin Grove watershed of Toronto.


More articles by:
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It