Square to be Hip

This isn’t an article on The Tragically Hip’s final concert, broadcast live to all of the nation allowing us to celebrate and say goodbye all at once. Far better than this dude have written about that night and the feels it all gave us.



Rather this is an offshoot of the feels in the wake of that night and remembrances of another night, another concert. It was The Hip’s last concert in Winnipeg and I was out for dinner downtown along with some coworkers. A few of them aren’t originally from Canada and despite living in Canada for a number of years hadn’t heard of The Hip. At least not until the crap news about Gord was reported.

I was ready to explain. I wasn’t able to. I never got the chance because I was confronted by unprovoked flippancy.

“What are their songs?”
“I’ve never heard of them before. It’s sad about the singer but…”
“Has anyone heard about them out of Canada?”
“What are their songs? No, come on. Sing them.”

Now I can’t quite inject the tone these words were delivered into simple text but I can toss out a few appropriate adjectives. Hmm. Let’s go with: dismissive, arrogant, assholish.

I stayed as calm as I could. There were witnesses, after all. Somewhat discombobulated by rageshock, I did my best to explain The Hip’s low key story in brief and offered a few off key lines from the opening of Blow at High Dough. I was met with looks of mild, begrudging understanding but the dismissive fog in the air was still there especially after someone quipped, “Yeah okay but they’ve never done much out of Canada right? So-” He finished his sentence with a frown and a thumbs down.

What could I do? It was one of those situations where I’m so flabbergasted by a human being’s idiocy (on a number of levels) that I couldn’t rationally respond. I ignored it. I let it pass. I may have told him to “Fucking watch yourself with that shit.” Maybe that came before the thumbs down…

Days passed and that incident stuck with me. Remembering now the subsequent search for a place to have dessert/coffee and their disappointment in finding several establishments closed due to the concert. “They should be open. The concert doesn’t matter. Your job is your job.” As if they wouldn’t take a half day off at the drop of a hat for a reason with even a third of the validity. Then the last concert happened and I watched it alone, half tipsy in my living room. Shivers, tears and smiles all around. On the backend of that wave of emotions was an elevated anger. An anger about the superior prickish attitude I had been confronted with regarding the men who just gave the entire country everything they had for the final time.

I replayed the incident in my head adding my own fictional outcomes post thumbs down. In one I punch someone in the face breaking their nose and leave without saying a word, in another I turn to the rest of the restaurant and explain to them what these fuckers have just said and watch the ensuing chaos and finally I simply say what I should have said at the time, “So The Hip sucks? Canada’s band sucks? Something that hasn’t achieved popularity outside of Canada is terrible? So Canada sucks? Canada’s terrible? On behalf of everyone here I’m gonna sincerely say; Fuck. You. This isn’t hyperbole or dramatic effect. Sincerely. Fuck you.” This didn’t achieve much but I did calm down to finish off a pack of Oreos without getting crumbs everywhere.

Since than the rage has lingered in a sporadic “How fuckin’ dare you!” kinda way. So I started writing this spiel in the hopes that I could expel the bad juju. I guess the incident touched a nerve not just because of The Hip and the anti-Canadian undercurrent but because it’s another in a lifetime of hearing people say things without thinking. Now I’m not big on being politically correct but a lot of what makes being un-PC work is the way it’s delivered. You can say something dickish but there’s a way to do it without coming off as a dick. As opposed to giving someone your opinion with a tone in your voice that denotes that it is a fact.

I’ve come to realize that for me this is especially true when it comes to works of art. I don’t prescribe to the pretentiousness of art or artists but at the same time art is something that (I’ve also realized) means more to me than most of the swirling irrelevant bullshit that life throws at us. Some of the most fun I’ve had is when I am creating something of my own; writing, video, etc. And if someone attacks something I’ve created, or attacks a work of art I feel a connection to I take it personally. If you say that something I love “sucks” or that it’s “stupid”, that means that I suck. That means that I’m stupid.

Maybe I’m too sensitive to this type of thing. Maybe it’s frustration at what 9-to-5 is doing to me. Maybe I don’t understand people who are okay with things the way they are. Like most things that irk me it’s probably a mix of a bunch of stuff especially my own interpretations. This is about The Hip. It is about different cultures. But mainly it’s about the differences between what we all want in life. All I can really do is put my head down and focus on making things that I enjoy and hopefully others do to. Or as Gord might put it…

Everything is bleak. It’s the middle of the night.
You’re all alone and the dummies might be right.
You feel like a jerk.
My music at work.
My music at work.

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