I know it's wrong to label any national group as having universal characteristics, despite how tempting it may be to do so. I know, for example, that all Brits don't have bad teeth and that all Aussies don't drink giant cans of beer and shout, "Slap some more shrimp on the barbie, mate!" I know that not all Mexicans are hard workers and that all Asians aren't computer whizzes.
I know these things, but I must say for the record: Canadians are boring. I used to live near the Canadian border, so I know what I'm talking about. Want to fall into a stupor? Listen to an interview with a hockey player. Want your eyes to glaze over? Watch curling. Need a nap? Put on an Anne Murray CD, eh?
On the plus side, Canadians are the nicest people on the planet. And they are much more civilized than we are. The murder rate for any major Canadian city is lower than that of, say, Jonesboro, Arkansas. And they make great beer. And great lakes (ha ha). But here's why I think Canada is really great: They have a new television show coming out next year called The Next Great Prime Minister. It's like American Idol, only with political nerds instead of crappy singers.
Four former Canadian prime ministers will interview several contestants, looking for those special qualities Canadians seek in a prime minister (anonymity? good manners? a passion for Celine Dion?), and then pick a winner.
Which led me to wonder why we in Memphis don't try this method for picking our City Council. I can see it now: Rickey Peete gets up and grins that big Rickey grin and does a little song and dance, but instead of having to face Memphis' pathetically uninformed voters, he's got to convince the American Idol panel.
Randy: "Yo, check it out. You had me for a while, but it got a little pitchy. It didn't work for me, Dawg. Sorry."
Paula: "I loved it. I loved you doing it. I love everything you said. I love you." (Paula should be made an honorary Memphis voter.)
Simon: "That was the most transparently pathetic excuse for a political speech I've heard in my life. I wouldn't vote for you for dogcatcher. Get off the stage, you silly asshat!"
What do you think? Could showbiz democracy work? And how much worse could it be than the system that brought us the crooks we've got now?
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...