dal niente

Month: February, 2017

Keep your hands up

There was a fight on my train home. I was minding my own business in the crowded lower compartment of the train– I had foot on the floor and on the stairs, with a huge cardboard box on my knee (a worm farm that had finally been delivered to my office00 this is another story).

Out of nowhere, I hear some big yelling from the standing area (up the small stairs from me).

From what I gather, an local Australian lady is telling off some guy who apparently was muttering racist things against some Chinese passengers.

I was thinking to myself, well, at least my station is next.

Train stops, and they’re still arguing. In fact, from what I can see, the situation has escalated to an all out yelling match, with lots of swearing, a lot of finger jabbing,a nd now some pretty serious pushing and shoving.

Anti-racism Australian gets off the train and is still yelling at him. She basically shames the guy to get off the train —  and the people in the standing compartment start clapping when he does. Cause it’s always a great idea to provoke a racist, right.


So the racist jumps back into the train, does this epic flying tackle into the posts, and now the people in the standing compartment are scared.

Racist guy gets back off the platform to confront lady. The shouting match countines, this time on the platform. It’s my stop, so I and others get off.


So I’m watching this all going down, never more than about 5 meters from the people who are shouting the most. Somehow, the woman is going toe to toe with the guy. She is literally a foot away from the guy, and it’s just this ring of people, nervous and scared, watching from a safe distance– but it is racist guy (and his Aboriginal girlfriend) basically having a schoolyard shouting match at point blank range.


Next thing you know, someone tries to hit someone, anti-racism lady takes a big shave and almost backs up into the train wall. An indian guy gets involved and starts getting beaten on, and I’m there holding my worm farm and like FUCK this is soooo annoyyyyyyyyinggggggg someone will get hurt.


So I stepped in and ended it with a throw. (O soto gari , in case you were wondering which one– turns out that throwing someone whose attention is focused on someone else is really easy). I remember that this is concrete, and so I make a note of not smashing his head on the ground and let him down ‘gently’.

So tedious. I just wanted to have dinner and here are these idiots getting into eachothers’ faces…

Next thing I know, some of the crow is suddenly full of righteous anti-racism heroes, and they’re all coming in and grabbing and maybe even hitting at the racist guy (who is now on his back). So now I’m kneeling over the guy, telling people to back off, and asking the racist guy “are you ok? Are you ok?” beacuse people are actually hitting him while he’s down. 


So it’s a bit fucking mess.


After things calm down a bit (not much) and the racist guy is back on his feet, he’s trying to leave the station by the stairs and the anti-racism Australian lady STILL wants to detain this guy, so she’s pulling him down the stairs from behind. I step in again and put my arm in her way saying “just let it go, it’s not worth it! Someone’s going to get hurt, it’s not worth it!”


… and that’s when an closed umbrella whizzes around, and if it weren’t for the fact that i had my arm up, it would have nailed me in the head. At this point I’m really yelling “just let it go!” and am pretty annoyed with everyone.


She does let it go. And at this point, oh, where were you official train employee? Comes in with his walkie talkie and starts ordering people down. I think he was probably there the whole time, but just did not get involved until it was safe. Fair enough, I supose.

I left before police showed up since there were already like 100 witnesses with mobile phone cameras, but maybe if we’re lucky someone will upload a youtube video of me not only throwing someone but then trying to keep a mob from stomping him in revenge.


It has been a long week and it occurs to me that maybe I’m not normal. I wasn’t scared in the situation, just very annoyed that I had to be delayed. I was more concerned about where I could put down my worm farm, and if someone would take it. I even thought to myself… hmm… if I get involved, I probably don’t want to be wearing my bag, but at the same time, where will I put it down?



I understand what the lady was doing. She did a good thing. She was standing up for some asians on the train I think who were just being insulted. I don’t mean to simply call her anti-racism lady out of some disrespect– she’s got guts, and I was really impressed that she not once, not twice, but more times than I could count, actually went toe to toe with him. Nobody should give in to bullies.

But it’s not a question of being scared or not. That is a dangerous situation. You cannot go up to someone’s face and trade insults at point blank and not protect yourself– it literally only takes one badly received punch, elbow, or headbutt to cause serious injury or death.


Meanwhile, don’t you feel sorry for the racist guy? And what’s the point of detaining him until the police arrive? So him and his idegenous girlfriend can go to jail for a couple of nights? Have something else on their record? Is public shaming or jail time really going to teach this guy a lesson, or reinforce his views even further? Maybe I’m thinking too much like a criminal law teacher and a lawyer– but isn’t this “us versus bad people” dichotomy too convenient?

There is so much anger out there– what struck me the most is how you have this cowardly crowd who is hiding back and letting one lady do all the talking– and the best they can do is clap, or try to kick a man when he’s down. I mean… seriously??


To be fair, there were a handfull of people who were just trying to stop the fighting with me. Good work.


But just… sigh. That whole situation was just bullshit– people were stupid, people could have gotten seriously hurt. There’s a time for words, and there’s a time for fighting– and there is also a time for just walking away and spending your energy some other way.


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

When I was growing up in pre-in internet 90s Canada, one of the only real connections that a kid in Montreal had with the rest of the world was channel 6 television. CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
I watched the local news (though I thought it was boring). Except for the weather.  I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed keeping the evening weather stats on graph paper charts, and predicting what the day would be like to my parents before they went to work. 
It’s a very different world now. I don’t have any “rabbit ears” on my TV, and in fact, my TV only gets video feeds from the internet. I don’t subscribe to any cable stations and I don’t even get local news. 
I wonder if kids still use graph paper?