For nearly three weeks now there have been decentralized protests in Canada. The main focus however has been on Ottawa. It started as a convoy of transport trucks driving east from my current home province of British Columbia. This convoy’s destination was Parliament Hill in Ottawa and as it approached it picked up new vehicles, growing in size. Like a tsunami wave that is nothing significant until it arrives at shore.
The convoy was well supported by people in the towns along the route which perhaps emboldened new truckers to join in. This convoy grew so large that it was split into multiple convoys, the longest of which was estimated to stretch 120 kilometers. More convoys formed East from Quebec and the Maritime provinces and went West to Ottawa. There have since been other convoys converging at Coutts border, Ambassador Bridge, Winnipeg city and Victoria, BC. Dozens of countries worldwide have formed their own convoys in solidarity. Many of these convoys are designed to be semi-permanent protests. They intend to stay at the site of the protests until the reason for the protests is acknowledged and addressed. Supplies were brought on site and local supporters are providing additional supplies. There is so much surplus that a number of pop up shelters were created to feed the homeless and provide respite from the cold. The protests are there for the long haul. How long? Given the Canadian Prime Minister’s tone deaf posture, it could be very long.
There’s been much hemming and hawing about how many trucks actually arrived at their Ottawa destination. Let’s estimate. A single transport truck tractor measures approximately 6 meters. Let’s assume that there was an average of 6-10 lengths between trucks. That gives us about 16 trucks per kilometer. So that one convoy of 120 kilometers would comfortably fit 2000 trucks in it. This does not include regular pickup trucks and cars joining in support. So we can be reasonably certain there are thousands of trucks in Ottawa. This is corroborated by on the ground reporting estimating approximately 10 000. It is no wonder then, that Freedom Convoy 2022 inspired other protests in other cities and other countries and why we saw an innumerable crowd of foot protesters in support. The cold providing no disincentive. All the people I know who were on site report that there were higher numbers of Freedom Convoy 2022 protesters at Parliament Hill than there were pre-covid “Greta” Protesters and pre-covid Canada Day celebrations.
This is a major world event. There’s been a lot of chatter about the politics. But I’m not a politician. I’m a musician. I see Freedom Convoy 2022 as a musical event. Here’s why.
I stopped listening to music and I stopped playing music when I decided to write about the meaning of it. The challenge of putting into words something I’ve only wordlessly known has been invigorating. But lately I have felt lethargic, frustrated and resistant about my project. This is perhaps a character trait or maybe a station in life.
I experienced something similar at my fight gym. I was doing great in beginner class. I knew I was the oldest person in the gym yet was starting at the bottom. I found the contrast amusing, motivating. After about 18 months a coach informed me I was to no longer attend beginner classes but was to move to “Advanced”. I was proud of my gold star. But in the months following, I felt a creeping realization come over me. There was never going to be anything beyond advanced class for me. I’m in my forties. I’ll never be a fighter. Competitive combat presents a risk of injury that I can not afford to take. The grind is an unavoidable plateau for me. I know that continuing to learn is its own reward. And I have had the pleasure of helping others new to the sport. Despite this, there is something in me that craves more. I remain frustrated with my martial arts practice.
I used to wonder why pro fighters don’t retire once they’ve reach the top. Why so many of them keep fighting past their prime. It’s not an isolated thing. Fighters retiring at their peak is a rare exception. Most keep showing up to take beatings. Each one worse than the previous. These fighters could have careers as trainers, some as pundits. But they want to fight. I no longer wonder why.
Elvis was asked where he learned his dance moves. The King’s gyrations had the nation in turmoil, especially the young girls. Watching his legendary appearances on the Ed Sullivan show, one can witness the charisma and erotic force wielded by Presley. Elvis answered that he learned these skills at his Pentecostal church.
I did some research into Pentecostal style worship to find if there were similarities between it and Elvis. And sure enough, I found the violent shaking of hands as if worshipers are zapping the air (and each other) Palpatine style. I also found the lowering of the body via wobbling of the knees and hips. The similarities are also hidden in plain sight. Those (mostly) buttoned up Christians are calling their spirit with the same genre of music Elvis called his. The demographic skews older at church but the audience exhibits a fervor for Rock ‘N’ Roll rivaling the teen-aged Elvis fanatics.
My brother Brian is an enterprising fellow, always has been. As a teenager, he learned how to turn eels into guitars. Brian loves fishing. He learned that his talent for catching fish was of value to others. So he caught eels and sold them. He accumulated enough money to buy an electric guitar. Brian wasn’t a fisherman, or a guitarist. He was an alchemist. Transforming slimy river monsters into pinch harmonics. This is the power of money. Cool huh? Well yes, unless you’re an eel. And that’s an important piece of the puzzle. In the eyes of money, nothing is what it is. Everything is everything else. Money flattens everything. It has 2-D vision. A tree, from the perspective money is only “good” because it can be transformed into lumber and paper. Which is counter to a natural way of looking at a tree. Because a tree is good in and of itself. Because it is beautiful. It doesn’t need to be anything else to be good. It just is good.
This is my thesis on money. For now. What happens when this strange force is applied to music?