Of course, we are waiting for the space shuttle.
I mean, what the Hell else could we possibly be occupying ourselves with alongside the frozen wastes of Lake Bishkek.
Here, in the thin air of the remotest, highest windswept plateau of Central Asia, a throng has gathered. Armed with pick axes, pitchforks, shovels, hacksaws and the occasional old Russian-made firearm, the regionâ€™s nomadic tribesfolk crowd around the little-known, highly secretive emergency landing strip. But, trust me, secrets donâ€™t last too long in this tiny former Soviet Republic - whose sole claim to fame was the abolition of all vowels back in the early 90â€™s. At least not when the secret is a 14 mile long concrete runway with â€œPrprty f th .S. Gvrnmntâ€ signs posted every fifteen metres. The crowd jostles nervously to-and-fro, every last man woman and goat trying desperately to ward off hypothermia in the sub-zero dark. Occasionally, a tiny brown donkeyskin-clad man with an old crystal radio set announces â€œThey are unable to land in White Sands New Mexico!â€ or â€œThe weather at Cold Lake, Alberta still prevents landing!â€ and a mighty cheer rises up from the crowd of subsistence hunters. Their joy is almost palpable. This motley foul-smelling crew of pre-historic, Islamic bumpkins, who never quite made it to the development of the wheel, are waiting to get a glimpse of the planetâ€™s most advanced and breathtaking technological achievement.
And then . . . each of them is going to try their damnedest to break, cut or gouge off as big a hunk of the spaceship as they can carry . . . and sell it on ebay!
Because, at its heart, this is a nation of looters. Yep, thieves, robbers, brigands, highwaymen, muggers and crooks. All of â€˜em! Petty crime is single largest contributor to this pathetic backwater of a nationâ€™s GDP. Theyâ€™ll steal everything that isnâ€™t nailed down. And if it is nailed down, you can rest assured, some local will be going at it with a crowbar when you turn your back. The kleptomania of these people is fricking mindboggling!!! Itâ€™s worse than Charles de Gaulle
airport for crying out loud. In the last few days since the government collapsed for the third time in the past three years and I lost my official police escort, Iâ€™ve had briefcases, glasses, pens, paper clips, calculators, ties, shoes, underwear and my jeep stolen right out from under my bloody nose â€“ and all this despite the fact that Iâ€™m hopelessly wired awake on a high-octane mixture of speed and espresso and armed to my goddamned teeth with Israeli-made sidearms!
I mean, the level of theft in this nutbar republic is so crazed, so rampant and so widespread it was actually at one point studied to death and held up by misty-eyed taxpayer-funded socialist think tanks in the late 80â€™s as a potential economic model for the perfect Marxist state. Why? Well, ever night every single inhabitant of this moonbat-infested country went out and robbed their neighbourâ€™s house. Of course, when they returned from a hard nightâ€™s plundering they would find, to their astonishment, that their own home had been sacked by another untrustworthy local. The result? Well, to the social theorists (several of whom, incidentally, now sit on Canadaâ€™s Supreme Court â€“ doesnâ€™t that make you feel warm at night???) this represented a perfect and constant redistribution of societyâ€™s wealth on a 24-hour basis. The ultimate socialist utopia â€“ courtesy of complete and total lawlessness and theft!
Of course, all good socialist utopias must ultimately fail in practice. And in this case, it happened in 1989, when an naÃ¯ve young immigrant from Lithuania arrived in the Tien Shan mountains, and to the complete and total consternation of the locals â€“ proved to be hopelessly honest. The chaos and economic dislocation precipitated by the introduction of a single law-abiding citizen into this nation of thieves was breathtaking in its swiftness. The Lithuanianâ€™s ardent refusal to steal from his neighbours, meant that every night one personâ€™s home was not being robbed blind. Needless to say, this quickly gave rise to economic disparities from one household to the next, as those who should
have been robbed by the Lithuanian became wealthier than their neighbors who had not been so lucky. With the introduction of unequal capital formation, the multitude ills of capitalism soon descended upon this tiny nation. Private ownership, absentee landlords, small businesses, Chinese laundries, falafel joints, pharmaceutical manufacturing complexes, drug dealers and corrupt government officials suddenly started springing up. Needless to say, the multi-national mining companies were quick to follow along with their hordes of expatriate geologists, engineers, accountants and . . . this is where I come in . . . shifty, exploitive beady-eyed, lawyers.
Let me tell you, the last couple of months, bouncing back-and-forth from this hell hole to a variety of equally avoidable South American backwaters and airport hotels, has not been kind to your faithful correspondent. Iâ€™ve experienced kidnapping, illegal strikes, roadside blockades, hostile take-over bids, Mongolian nationalization of copper mines, threatened international arbitrations, a 500,000 tonne pit wall collapse, caffeine abuse, a firefight in a Tibetan bordello populated entirely by former cast members of the Cirque de Soleil, the bringing to its knees of the worlds largest gold producer, brain-dead mulleted Avs fans proclaiming John Lilles as the certain Norris trophy winner, the collapse of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and now the cancellation of the last goddamned flight out of this frigid mountainous wasteland of larceny. In other words, Iâ€™m considerably more pissed at the injustice of the Universe than usual!!!
Then to top it off, there was a deep, personal tragedy in my life. Yes. Sadly, the man who had been like a father to me, the loveable guy who turned my life of petty-crime around and gave me my one big shot professionally. A kind, decent, God-fearing, visionary leader. A saint-among-men - who was instrumental in forming my views on social justice, economics and the proper treatment of journalists sadly passed away.
Generalissimo Augusto Pinochet. Iâ€™ll miss ya, big guy!
You were the first authoritarian dictator I ever worked for. And the best . . . I can only hope that somewhere up in Heaven, you are mercilessly attaching electrodes to Che Gueveraâ€™s testicles and demanding that he name the names of his leftist collaborators! Sniff.
Excuse me for a moment, while I shed a tear or two. Iâ€™m always overcome by emotion at times like these . . .
Still, the various personal and professional disasters Iâ€™ve experienced over the past few months havenâ€™t been entirely without a silver lining. Iâ€™ve learned a lot about myself in this weird, bewildering process. Iâ€™ve learned a lot about my personal strengths, my weaknesses, my beliefs, my foibles, my flaws and just how long I can remain chained up in a closet in an unnamed suburb of Quito, Equador without food or water. But principally, what Iâ€™ve learned is that my Israeli-made Double Eagles, for all of their cherished stopping power, are simply too damned prone to jamming. In 2007, Iâ€™m finally switching to 9 mmâ€™s.
Now, over the past few months as I jetted back and forth between Latin America and the technologically backward former Soviet state in which I am currently trapped, Iâ€™ve gotten very little news from home â€“ other than a few brief conversations with my ex-wives in which they steadfastly refused to pony up my ransom money. So Iâ€™ve been relying entirely upon those always 100% accurate reports from the Canadian Press that I can access from time-to-time on my blackberry. Now, from what I understand, while Iâ€™ve been away, formerly scenic Vancouver has been struck with a calamitous number of shocking natural disasters â€“ including typhoons, blizzards, tornadoes, waterspouts and a syphilis pandemic â€“ all of which were precipitated by the radically increased global warming that was entirely caused by the brief ten-month reign of the Harper Government. These disasters have left all of British Columbiaâ€™s residents without power, clean drinking water, food or access to sufficient financial services to pay a ransom. All government offices have been closed, the homeless are dying in droves because they canâ€™t work out on the Grouse Grind due to dangerous tree falls, cannibalism is rampant and fiendish multi-national forestry companies are taking advantage of the chaos to strip down all of the trees from Stanley Park. Sigh. Damn, I wish I had been there to negotiate those clear-cutting rights.
Still, the press says that Celine Dion, who was apparently recently elected Prime minister of Canada by the members of the Liberal Party, will set all things right in Western Canada - once she returns from her inaugural state visit to her native France.
Yet despite these near-unbelievable calamities, all of the doubtless 100% accurate press reports I have been reading stress that two astounding facts have emerged from these trying times. Firstly, how polite and civilized Vancouverites continue to behave as their multi-cultural paradise spirals into complete anarchy and third-world squalor caused by a callous Conservative federal government. It's really weird. All of the press reports take great pains to mention that, unlike the situation last year in New Orleans, there has evidently been a complete absence of looting in Vancouver. Secondly, the press always seems to mention that the Canucks lack scoring. And evidently, this is somehow the fault of Roberto Luongo.
Iâ€™m sorry. Maybe, Iâ€™ve been smoking too much Central Asian hashish in the last few days, but since when has an NHL goaltender been expected to lead his team in scoring??? The criticisms just donâ€™t seem to make any sense from over on this side of the globe.
You know. Iâ€™m thinking maybe the two stories are linked. Maybe as we consider the mediocre performance of the Canucks so far this season, fans should take a good hard look in the mirror. Maybe the fault lies not with our team or our goaltender. But, with ourselves as fans.
Fans who havenâ€™t learned the lessons of the Kyrgyz and the Tazjiki.
Fans who donâ€™t loot.
What Iâ€™m suggesting is that the â€˜Nucks .500 record is entirely due to the failure of Vancouverâ€™s inhabitants to rob local convenience stores during black-outs.
Think about it.
Youâ€™re Markus Naslund, in your familiar position along the half-boards during a power play. Thereâ€™s a mad scramble in front of the net as the defensemen are cross-checking Jan Bulis into a bloody pulp. The goalieâ€™s badly out of position and the puck squirts free to you. Open net. Easy wrister to pot. But, waitasecond!!! Why even bother? I mean, whatâ€™s the downside if you donâ€™t score? Youâ€™ll still draw your paycheck. AV isnâ€™t gonna bench a $6 million salary. And the fans? The fans? Heck, they wonâ€™t do anything! I mean, câ€™mon . . . THEY DONâ€™T EVEN LOOT DURING A BROWNOUT!!!
See, the city has created a classic free rider problem among itâ€™s hockey club. If they donâ€™t perform, thereâ€™s no palpable negative consequences.
But, if the populace was . . . more prone to looting
. Youâ€™d could bet your bottom dollar, the squad would be potting more goals. After all, if they didnâ€™t â€“ after each game theyâ€™d probably find their cars smashed in and their CD players gone in the GM Place parking garage.
The secret of Montrealâ€™s success this year? Clearly, their uppity, volatile French-Canadian fan base. Drop a few games and theyâ€™ll be smashing windows and overturning minivans on Rene Levesque Boulevard and demanding recognition as a nation.
Consider the New Orleans Saints. They saw just how prone to random smash-and-grabs their fans were during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The result? Youâ€™re damned right theyâ€™re gonna make the playoffs this season. They donâ€™t want to see a repeat of that sort of mass-sacking and despoilation of their Garden Quarter homes again!!!
But in Vancouver? Big problem. Folks in this burg will hardly stir from their vanilla-infused low fat lattes to smash in the storefront window of a Robson Street boutique no matter how enticing the opportunity or how strained the police presence.
By contrast, consider the Central Asian rabble I now find myself surrounded by. Here amid the snow-capped peaks of the worlds highest mountain range, they certainly donâ€™t have the same sort of professional sports leagues we have back home. (In large part, because these morons havenâ€™t invented the ball yet.) But they do have one widespread recreational pursuit â€“ well, other than breaking and entering â€“ befitting of their proud nomadic heritage.
These boys are crack shots with a bow and arrow.
Iâ€™m not kidding. Itâ€™s amazing. These guys can pick off the local white-furred snow-bats from the back of a mountain llama in full gallop from a distance of at least 800 yards.
And when you ask them how they pull it off? They say, â€œWell, if I miss that shot I can pretty much guarantee that the local kids will torch my garage and steal all my hubcaps.â€
You know, we as â€˜Nucks fans could learn a lot from the simple, home-spun ethos of this down-to-earth nation of cattle rustlers, privateers and grave-robbers.
So next time youâ€™re at GM place and Burrows looks like heâ€™s gonna blow an opportune scoring chance, try screaming at him â€œBLOW THIS ONE, LITTLE MAN! AND Iâ€™M SETTING FIRE TO LE CHATEAU!!!â€
Iâ€™m sure that little added incentive will help put the puck past Kipprusoff.
Well, with that Iâ€™m going back out into the 40-below elements to await the glint of the passing space shuttle. Iâ€™m assuming that the Bush Administration wonâ€™t be stupid enough to let this ungainly mob of third-world poachers and shoplifters cannibalize the crown jewel of Nasaâ€™s orbiter fleet â€“ let alone its crew. So Iâ€™m expecting any minute now for a fleet of Apache attack helicopters to come over the snowy mountains from the nearby Kazakh base and launch a pinpoint battery of sidewinder missiles at this crowd of relatively-unarmed goat herders. Assuming I survive the initial strafing run, I might be able to flash a stolen American passport at the pilots (hey, when in Rome . . .) and catch a ride home with them in time for the holidays.
Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year.
And, remember to never leave anything in your wifeâ€™s name.
Modo vincis, modo vinceris.