Fri, 24 Oct 2003

Dammit. I finally glanced at the results from the civic election. Just a bunch of no-names defeating other no-names, right?

Well, one of those no-names, and now a trustee (for the second time) on the public school board, is my ex-high school principal, Lindsay Fast.

I suppose that I should have loftier concerns, in my fitful engagement with civic politics, than merely rooting for the defeat of a particularly disagreeable nemesis from my high school past. But frankly, city council could vote to build six mega-casinos on top of Farley Mowat’s childhood home, and I would merely yawn. The news that my principal has returned makes me gnash my teeth.

Some background. When I was in grade eleven at Marion Graham High School, Principal Lindsay Fast shut down our school’s talent show – our yearly festival of awful basement bands and even worse stand-up comedians – citing “offensive material”. When the whole school rose up in confused protest, he refused to meet with student representatives, or even explain precisely what about the show had been so “offensive”. (Most of us thought the culprit was a lame sketch comedy routine swiped in its entirety from In Living Colour – does anyone remember Jim Carrey’s character “Fire Marshal Bill”? – but we never found out for sure.)

Then it emerged that the principal had intimidated our school’s representative to the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix‘s “High School News” page, threatening to suspend her if she addressed the controversy in her weekly column. She publicised the story anyway, and there was a two-day mini-controversy in the Star-Phoenix, in which some editorialists took the student’s side, while other editorialists argued for the right of high school principals to be as secretive and autocratic as they wished. In the end, the student in question was never suspended, and the story died.

It was these events that led me to my lamest act of teenage rebellion, publishing the “student newspaper” RISE! with a couple of my nerdy friends. I had intended it to be a scathing attack on the school’s administration, but my friends were all A-students and college fast-trackers, so they resisted my attempts to smear the principal with false accusations of Satan-worship and pederasty. Instead we padded out the first issue, along with an earnest editorial about the talent show controversy, with some kid’s essay on democracy in Russia. We printed it by selling a half-page ad, under false pretences, to the management of the Lawson Heights Mall.

We distributed a couple hundred copies of the paper to students over lunch hour one day, but most of our run was seized by the teachers and destroyed. Still, our attempt at rebellion was too dorky to get us into real trouble. My dreams of being gloriously expelled, a martyr to free speech, were dismally squelched, and we never bothered to put together an issue 2.

(Eventually Lindsay Fast did oversee my expulsion from Marion Graham, but I don’t hold that against him. I was only showing up a couple days a week by then, so getting kicked out wasn’t that big a deal.)

Last election ’round, Lindsay Fast was the chair of the school board, which was then engaged in an expensive and badly-organised attempt to build itself a new headquarters. I didn’t care about the headquarters; I just thought Fast was an asshole. I enlisted Andrew and his roommate, who lived in Fast’s ward, to go out and vote against him, which they actually did – the one time, I believe, that Andrew has participated in a civic election. All my organisational efforts turned out to be superfluous, however, as Fast (along with nearly the entire school board) was turfed out by several thousand votes. The knock against him, as reported in the Star-Phoenix, was that he was secretive and autocratic.

You’d think that would be enough to disqualify him permanently from holding office. But no – damn our wishy-washy democratic process! Now he’s back. He snuck in while I wasn’t looking, running in a completely different ward. Dammit.

I suppose that I should have expected my nemesis to reappear. He wouldn’t be much of a nemesis if he weren’t as malevolently unkillable as Doctor Doom. I suppose that, like Doctor Doom, he will reappear at intervals with a new scheme for world domination (or at least public school board chairmanship) and it will be my duty, like Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, to thwart him with a blast of gamma radiation (or perhaps by getting off my ass and voting).

Incidentally, I haven’t heard much lately from my other nemesis, author and playwright Kevin Chong. I imagine he’s in secret negotiations with Doctor Octopus right now.

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