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Maxed Out: Misery loves company—and Whistler has plenty

Max getty Jan 2022
Pique columnist G.D. Maxwell is thinking about dusting off his very successful Start Smoking self-help seminar—because in these troubled times people need any success they can grasp at.

Ok people, the holidays are over. Go home. Now. 

The crowds on Monday were still full-bore holiday crowds. Full upper lots by 8:15, no lifts running, Fitz on the no-go list, undoubtedly the victim of supply chain problems, a lack of computer chips, no staff, covid, or the fires that may have been too close to the Broomfieldians, take your pick. 

Welcome to 2022: The Horrorshow Continues.

If misery loves company, Whistler has plenty. A scathing, year-end writeup in The Colorado Sun describes the carnage at other Vail properties (“Epic crowds are colliding with epic labor shortages at ski areas,” Dec. 31, 2021). The schadenfreude continues, should it make you feel any better about the gong show in Tiny Town, at instagram.com/epicliftlines, or if you’re into guerrilla theatre you can read about how the snowheads at Stevens Pass in Washington are petitioning the US Forest Service, who own the land, to revoke Vail’s operating permit, claiming the company has violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act. 

Seems the Broomfieldians are unloved wherever they wreak havoc. And when their mouthpiece deigns to speak at all on these issues, one is humourously reminded of that little Swedish girl, “Blah, blah, blah.”

As is so often the case when Canadians feel a bit low—and what’s not to feel low about?—we can take solace in the age-old nostrum that’s salved the Canadian psyche for so many years: We’re not Americans.

South of the border, pundits of all stripes are setting their hair on fire predicting the American Apocalypse. Forces on the right and extreme right are setting the stage for a coup. They’re stockpiling arms and ammo. Their Republican lapdogs are rigging state laws to disenfranchise undesirable—Democrat—voters. If that fails, they’re enabling state legislators to overturn the popular vote in favour of what most Republicans view as the only legitimate party, theirs. After all, if the vote goes the wrong way it must be fraud. Right? Ask The Don.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Dems are finding new and ingenious ways to self-immolate, waging an internecine war between moderates and “progressives,” blocking the administration’s keystone legislation and pissing away the slim hold they have on both houses of Congress, a gift unlikely to be given by voters again in their lifetimes.

And after two decades of relative decline in U.S. murders, the 2020 and 2021 graphs of homicides eerily seem to look like covid graphs, up 30 per cent in 2020.

While all that makes it easy to feel good about being Canadian, it helps to have a blind eye to what is, and more importantly isn’t, going on in the Great White North. 

From sea to sea to sea our political leaders (sic) are providing outstanding examples of mismanagement that future students—assuming there are any—will study as cases in how not to deal with a crisis. Fearful of the petulant backlash from those too precious and self-absorbed to withstand yet another viral wave, the country’s premiers took holiday positions ranging from party on, dude, to party carefully, knowing full well the new year would bring another round of over-burdened hospitals bursting at the seams with the covidbound and countrywide cries for help. 

Once again, predictably, schools are delaying opening or going virtual, except in Saskatchewan, where the 1950s live on. Parents are either protesting the decisions, not knowing what to do with their kids, their work, their lives, or living in fear about what happens when schools do finally reopen. Closures and curfews are being imposed and protested and gyms are repositioning themselves as critical wellness centres. Financial markets are continuing to reach new heights... at which point, like the legend of the Pied Piper, investors will plunge off the cliff into the abyss.

Happy New Year.

So what’s a confused columnist to do? Of course, refer to the Column Writing for Dummies book. Let’s see. First week of January. Aha! Resolutions. Wish I’d have thought of that 600 words ago.

Not being much of a New Year’s resolver, I’ll go out on a limb here. I resolve the following.

I resolve to be less cynical in 2022. Oh, c’mon. Let’s stop kidding. There’s an old bumper sticker that says, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” We might just as well replace outraged with cynical to capture the true zeitgeist of the current moment. How can you pay even passing attention to what’s going on around us without a healthy dose of cynicism? It’s the salve that keeps us from going either suicidal or homicidal. But I’ll try, although I’m certain this resolution will be about as successful as the ones I used to make to keep ahead of my schoolwork.

I resolve to do something to help lift the spirits of my fellow travellers during this dark, endless night. Specifically, I’m thinking about dusting off my very successful Start Smoking self-help seminar. Oh, I know smoking isn’t healthy, and unlike the time decades ago when this was a real money-maker, it’s socially unacceptable now. 

But the thing is, in these troubled times people need any success they can grasp at. And the seminar’s keystone promise—I can get you smoking and keep you smoking in just three days—may be the only success people can hope for in 2022. Reprehensible? Perhaps. But who doesn’t cherish a framed diploma shouting, “I started something and succeeded at it!” these days? One takes succour where one finds it.

I further resolve to ski fewer days this year. This is what people who create multiple-choice tests refer to as the dummy distracter answer. The way Whistler Blackcomb is being run and covid is progressing, I won’t have any trouble skiing fewer days this year. Neither will you.

As a quid pro quo, I resolve to skinny ski more days this year. This may be the one and only resolution I’m likely to master. All I have to do is find my skate skis and head for Nick North... once!

I resolve to create as little confusion, turmoil, headaches and potential lawsuits for Pique’s new editor as possible. It’s the least I can do. After all, it’s a tough, thankless job with long hours, high levels of stress and the knowledge that no sooner is the paper put to bed one week than the cycle begins again. Ignore that last part, Braden. 

My final, two-part resolution is to find ways to annoy our local elected leaders. This shouldn’t be much of a reach and I feel success is at hand. As compensation, I also resolve to retire by year’s end. It’s been a long, long, strange trip and I’m probably well beyond the point of leaving while being on top. But all things must pass. 

Is that wild jubilation I hear coming from 4545 Blackcomb Way?