Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I am with the Lorax, at least on paper

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Here I am, sitting in a hotel room, looking at a blog photo of Stephen Harper with a sour look on his face. Apparently at least one American Jungian psychologist is having a problem with our PM.

Yes, it’s March Break, the kids are in the pool and I can’t quite take the TV with shows like 17 Kids and Counting, which in the first five minutes gives you a picture of some Christian family with seventeen kids and another on the way. Oh dear.

But back to Harper. The Jungian blogger writes, and I quote: “This is a Prime Minister who has no trouble lying to anyone and everyone in public while promoting a vision of taking down other political parties and destroying the social fabric of Canada in favour of vested economic interests which are not necessarily aligned with any particular nation. In my opinion, he is not much different from many other leaders, acting out of a collective shadow in the attempt to gain and keep power.” Enough of that, we’re on vacation.

Well, a mini-vacation. Instead of doing the 60-hour round trip drive to Florida we decided to do a long weekend trip, pick up our daughter at university and go hang out. Maybe take in the new Lorax movie in 3D at an amusement park in Dieppe. And that’s what we did last night. But, oh, the irony.

It’s difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with the movie last night. The Lorax, for those who don’t know one of Dr. Suess’s most famous characters, is the guardian of a vast forest of Truffula trees. The Once-ler comes along, invents Thneeds, a knitwear product made from the tops of said trees and through a series of misadventures manages to wipe out the entire forest leaving behind an industrial wasteland.

Before we got to the movie theatre we first had to find it. It was a drive through a depressing commercial maze with the typical box stores: Wal-Marts and Sears and drive-thrus and paved parking lots. In fact acres and acres of them with the Crystal Palace indoor amusement facility and movie complex at one end. I counted three trees. No Truffulas. The parking lot was pockmarked with massive potholes as if it had been the epicentre of a bombing raid.

We stopped and bought our theatre tickets then checked into the attached hotel. The prices were outrageous but hey, this was a holiday. We were starving, so we headed into the amusement park (a giant steel box) to find...just one restaurant. It was a dark and shop-worn place done up in a quasi-British pub theme and it was packed, so we waited. And waited. Finally, we got a table. And waited some more. We were going to miss our movie. We got up and left.

We walked through the complex to go to the theatre but discovered we had to go outside and walk around the theatre to get in the front door. Still starving, we walked through the buffet-style food concession and ordered up a few slices of pizza, two bags of popcorn and a hotdog, a quick fifty bucks, chu-ching.

The Lorax movie was OK. Lots of great digital animation in 3D. On the way out one old guy said, “that had a good message.” I surveyed the crowd. Lots of overweight kids dressed in nylon and polyester with matching parents. This wasn’t exactly the granola bar experience Dr. Suess might have had in mind.

After the movie we headed back into the amusement mall and the big box bookstore with, yes, a Starbucks. The parental units had coffee, the kids shopped for books. We were all beat so we turned in early. We got up hungry, looking forward to some kind of quick snack, only to learn there was no continental breakfast in the hotel. We’d have to go back to said English pub for that. So we got dressed and drove through the vast wasteland of parking lots to find a Sobey’s store for real food and a Tim Horton’s for coffee, then back to our room and the wet towels and TV.

During a brief five minutes, I follow what the kids are watching: the aforementioned show with the seventeen kids. In this episode the two Christian parents get ready to go out on a rare solo vacation. It starts with him gassing himself inside a cloud of hairspray to fix his do (which looks virtually identical to the stiff do of the aforementioned Harper). The happy couple is off to San Francisco to the famed Haight-Ashbury district, where they tour old head shops and hippie hangouts while offering Christian morality statements such as “just say no” to sex, drugs, alcohol or just about any other vice San Fran has to offer. One wonders why they’d go there in the first place. But the cynical answer is clear; it makes for better reality TV. And all that in just five minutes. Change channel.

I am now sitting beside the indoor pool with four giant fake palm trees, a lava-looking mountain along one wall and a mass of happy, shouting kids in the over-chlorinated water and bored parents sitting under thatched hut umbrellas. If I didn’t know better, I could be in Florida.

The simple irony, of course, is the vast corporatization of every facet of modern life as we pursue our desire for play, authentic experiences and social interaction. It must make guys like Harper, the ultimate corporate man, proud. Let’s hope this movie plays out as well as The Lorax does.

3 comments:

  1. I love this article. I have been there, smelled the chlorine and navigated the vast parking lots all in the name of getting some entertainment for the kids. I have seen the obese kids and their matching polyester parents. Does winter do this to us? I smiled all through this article while simultaneously shaking my head at the ridiculousness of the fake palm trees and ersatz English pub (with lousy food--I know). But this is Moncton in March.

    A better alternative this year was X-C skiing at Twin Pines Cabins on Millinocket Lake in Maine. Fabulous trails and fantastic food. 2.5 hours from Fredericton felt like another world. Tried to find a NB resort with similar services but alas...

    Keep up the great writing--you have struck a chord with me!

    Anon

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  2. Thanks for the tip, Anon. We have friend in that area and Twin Pines sounds like a much more satisfying experience. Thanks for the kind words. Here's to spring!

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  3. I know that this was a less than thrilling vacation and I am truly ashamed of myself for doing so, but I couldn't stop laughing as I read this account of the vacation from hell. You really are missing your calling as a comic.

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