Maxed Out 

Enough with the tidings of comfort and joy

by G.D. Maxwell

Let’s face it; 2003 sucked. The only good thing I can say about 2003 is that I didn’t die, get arrested, have a squalid affair, catch a loathsome disease, go bankrupt, crash my car or have my Perfect Partner pack up and leave with Zippy the Dog in tow. Other than avoiding those misfortunes and a host of other personal disasters, there was simply no positive way to define 2003.

The skiing was disappointing, the backcountry vacillated between being an avalanche waiting to happen or a fire needing only the tiniest of spark to roar destructively to life. The garden at Smilin’ Dog Manor was a delicious disappointment as summer rains failed and a shrivelling summer sun beat down relentlessly. I turned a perfectly good finger into a marginally useful digit and a planned road trip to visit family I haven’t seen for too long and replenish my green chili supply vanished in a fog of recovery and physiotherapy. Oh yeah, and there was the Olympic announcement. Make of that what you wish.

So with the Gregorian calendar about to tempus fugit into a new year, it’s time to put to rest the nonsense that was 2003 and celebrate the nonsense that waits in store in 2004. The cynic in me knows the new year could be a whole lot worse but the hopeless romantic twisted into my DNA is ever hopeful great things are just around the corner.

Never having been one to burden the new year with pointless resolutions destined for the garage sales of late January, I’ve nevertheless been thinking about the power of positive thought, an activity the circular nature of which has left me with a headache only good scotch can salve.

Perhaps it’s time to tap into that force of nature and set some concrete goals. Just reading that sentence makes me involuntarily grind my teeth and visualize myself on a slippery slope leading to saffron robes, finger cymbals and irritating chanting at total strangers simply trying to run the security gauntlet at Vancouver International Airport.

But what the heck. Without resolutions to fail to live up to I’d have to find completely unexpected events to make me feel like a total slackass failure. So here goes.

#1 No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Whadja expect? Weight loss? Exercise? Not a chance. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Oh sure, I’ll still write those cute dog and cat stories every once in a while; I’ll still reminisce about things that may have happened in the past or things I’ve lied about for so long I can’t remember whether they really happened or if they’ve just become good stories, but no more pulling punches. No more worrying about someone’s feelings being hurt.

I’ve gotten soft; I’m sure you’ve noticed. Maybe I’ve been doing this too long or maybe we’ve all gotten soft as our happy mountain home has segued into a mature, possibly over-ripe ski, er, mountain resort.

After the Muni spent nearly two million bucks to build the hard-being-green Fire Mahal down at Spring Creek, for example, there was an item in the capital budget allocating another two million bucks or more to renovate the fire hall in Alpine. Renovate? Who are they bringing in, the Designer Guys?

As far as I know, there’s been nary a whimper about it, ‘cept for almost every firedude I’ve spoken to who complains – privately – about how much dough’s being squandered on gee-whiz equipment as opposed to people to actually put the fires out. But you can’t see people; you can see jazzy buildings and shiny rigs.

And I’m pretty sure I’ve been way too nice about the never-ending consultant’s wet dream we’ve been embroiled in for so long I’ve actually forgotten when it started: the Official Sustainable Community Plan. If I were Hizzonor or one of the sitting councillors, I’d be sweating bullets over the plan. Why? For the simple reason that anything that takes this long and costs this much and freezes or displaces real action during the interim can’t possibly live up to its billing. It has to disappoint when it finally comes.

Look at its history. The citizenry were engaged to select consultants. The citizenry were ignored. Consultants consulted, time passed, the citizenry were engaged again. Time passed. Time passed. Time passed. Five highly-skewed, unimaginative scenarios that could have been knocked out on the back of a napkin over drinks were presented. The citizenry were engaged in a three-week frenzy in November voting for their favourite, like it was a swimsuit contest. A month has gone by now without even an announcement of which scenario got the most lesser-of-the-evils votes.

And now we wait.

In the meantime, bad decisions get made because we have no plan… or the old plan(s) aren’t good enough given a new plans a comin’. Am I the only one here who feels like he’s trapped in a Beckett play?

#2 No More Mr. Nice Guy

Enough pickin’ on the Muni; I’m not looking for this column to be a multi-parter. I’d hate to pass on the chance to resolve to be less nice to my fellow man.

Those who know me know I’m really a nice guy. But I’m getting really tired of being run in to on the mountains by people who can’t remember the difference between a closed course and an open slope, by people who think looking at pictures of New Schoolers doing tricks is the same as being able to do them themselves… by taking hits on crowded ski-outs, by people who’ve been lured onto slopes they have no business being on – Whistler Bowl comes to mind – by bad decisions to make the entrance easier to negotiate but leaving the slopes as challenging as they’ve ever been, and by people who just seem to feel they are the most important, possibly the only, person out there.

Be forewarned. The next one of you who hits me or the next one of you who I see hit someone else had better have a very close relationship with a friendly proctologist because you’re going to require a polectomy. Obviously shouting at you hasn’t had the desired effect since you learned to answer, "F___ off." Stronger action is necessary.

#3 No More Mr. Nice Guy

This one’s simple. We all know money is no indication of taste, brains or happiness. So why is money the only factor we take into consideration when we allow some carpetbagger to come in to town and start ripping up the social fabric of our community?

Again, be forewarned. If our elected leaders continue to fail to act to keep you wankers from razing good homes with rental suites and building McMansions without them, the incidence of monkeywrenching is going to escalate dramatically. The single best way to protect your property is to have a resident caretaker. Think about it.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling much more upbeat about 2004. Happy New Year.

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