Waiting for Jack

What is it that a man despises in himself when he wishes to have a leader with a more commanding presence or, for that matter, any leader at all?

I’ve been following the news with my usual assiduity, which is to say, not in the slightest.  Still, I can’t help noticing amongst my friends here along the forty-fifth parallel a certain syllable whispered with the sepulchral gravitas of true belief.  It seems that on a day when—longterm readers will forgive the litanous repetition of my own pieties—forty thousand children died of hunger and related complications within spitting distance of numerous outposts in the worldwide North American command gulag, a certain Jack also died.

Not the forty, nor the thousand, nor the forty thousand deaths I’ve documented elsewhere on this site perturbed my friends unduly.  But a tear twinkled in the eye of more than one friend for Jack, their champion, and I gather from the edges of these conversations that this Jack was a great lover, as well, and that a woman whose face as placard often graces the lawns of my neighbors was his lover, and that altogether they were the perfect little Wheaties family.  Before he died, alas, poor Jack didn’t get his own hands on the war machine and was unable to have a go at killing off the babies of folks in Afpakiraqistan in the name of progressivism.

It’s going on forty years since the horrors of the first 9/11 and our attack on Chile.  We seem to have learned nothing from surrendering our power to distant “leaders” who, correctly, see in our capitulation a mandate to murder on a global scale and with unchecked whimsy.  We are invited to “participate” in Murder Inc. and help “change” the system, and to pretend to ourselves that the system isn’t rigged precisely to invite us to ratify it while ensuring that change is impossible.

Like writers at the center, writers along the edge of Murder Inc. are encouraged to hail the idea of the master and commander and his sexual companion while evincing a willingness to be sentimental about masterliness itself.  Remonstrance has a wholly predictable place in this little song and dance, with writers of the “left” encouraged to be scandalized by particular activities of particular “leaders” while remaining obtuse about overall choreography, as if the left’s dance were a concerted effort to instantiate what Michel Foucault called, with a Frenchman’s interest in that sort of thing, “docile bodies.”

Outrage directed by writers at certain forms of commander behavior, when combined with a proven ability to string simple declarative sentences in a row, garners something called “hits,” and the hit parade of fools links hands and dances lasciviously along the more visible ridges of cultural display and inbreeding.  Top stories and bottom stories in this tableau differ from each other only in the style of delivery, not in the bare fact that what is taking place is, after all, fucking.

Evidence that my neighbors along the forty-fifth believe in Jack is appearing once again on the lawns as the capitulators raise their plastic votive offerings.  Jack is dead.  Long live Jack.  Why gainsay them?  People who believe in jack are people who deserve plastic effigy and an eternal plastic afterlife in a landfill in Michigan.

* * *

No sooner finished those lines than I come back to my house.  Thursday, September 8, 5:30 p.m., downtown Toronto.  Woman’s been assaulted on my neighbor Barry’s front lawn and is lying there in a weeping mound.  Damn it:  I leave my street for two hours to write a CP article and look what happens.  This wouldn’t have happened on my watch.  Everyone knows I’m the craziest thing out here.  I extend what comfort I can to her but there isn’t a woman of my neighbors to be seen who could even give the poor woman a hug, so she lies there weeping.  I grill two witnesses separately.  Descriptions match.  The guy who did it apparently looks sickly and might be easy to spot.  I propose to the crowd of a score or two that we fan out and look for the guy.  Nothing.  I cajole them.  I tell them the police will take a long time, but we can do this.  They say they’ll wait for the police, and that it’s too late anyway.  I say the guy’s sick and we have a chance of catching him.  People inspect their toes.  I leave.  I run a square perimeter pattern on the bike, half mile across.  It’s a good idea, and to work would just need, say, another forty people.  Or maybe a functioning community not suckled on mastery and law.  As I cut back at one point, an ambulance shows up.  No police.  Later, I find a cop car facing north on Dovercourt.  “D’you get a call about the woman assaulted southwest corner of Hepbourne and Rusholme?” I ask.  “Goin’ there now,” the cop says.  “Been a half hour,” I say.  He looks fierce but stays in the car.  “Twenty minutes,” he allows.  No lights, no siren, pointed the wrong way, admitting he knows about the assault and even that it’s been twenty minutes.  “It’s the other way,” I say, pointing down Dovercourt to Hepbourne.  “We have to follow the road,” the cop says, apropos of nothing I can figure out.  He makes a point of taking his time, setting off north though the scene is southwest of him.  The way to Hepbourne is free of traffic, but he’s headed into the heavy traffic on Bloor.  Could he really be this ignorant of Toronto neighborhoods?  He’s extra careful to let all the pedestrians through. So nice.  I look into the eyes of the cop woman with him.  If she knows the way, or knows why women getting raped isn’t a good thing, she lets no recognition cloud her vision.  The quintessential Toronto cop is a fine upstanding citizen of a distant suburb like Barrie who couldn’t get around Toronto without a GPS and who would be happy to run interference for Toronto rapists and beat up its citizens for free but has discovered that Toronto people are willing to pay for the privilege.  Funny old world.  It’s like every day is G20 day.  Life is good.  I watch the back of the car for a long while as it sits in a long, long line of traffic.  Somewhere to the southwest the assaulted woman weeps.  We’re all waiting for jack.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

David Ker Thomson lives in downtown Toronto. He can be reached at:  dave.thomson@utoronto.ca