Over and Under Achievers

Overture

October 15 2001
Over and Under Achievers

Overture

October 15 2001

Overture

Shanda Deziel

Amy Cameron

On Sept. 25, in the wake of the recent tragedy, more than 60 skilled tradesmen from Ontario and Alberta responded to New York City’s early call for volunteers. A group including welders, steamfitters and general contractors met in Toronto, boarded two donated Greyhound buses and made their way to Ground Zero—followed closely by a Canadian-owned dump truck and a tractor-trailer with a flatbed carrying a toploader. Upon arrival, they were told that a moratorium had been placed on volunteers due to increased security. Despite their disappointment, most members of the group felt the trip was not in vain. “I’m glad that we went down,” says Tracy Ellement, a heavy-machine operator from Wainfleet, Ont. “Even though we couldn’t help that much, our main intention was to show support.”

It’s the thought that counts

New York embraced these wouldbe heroes.They stayed free of charge in four-star hotels and their meals were on the house. New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner happened to be at their hotel restaurant one night and offered to pick up their entire meal tab, thanking them over and over.The hotel manager refused, saying it had already been taken care of. Police and firefighters tried to find work for the Canadians-the city, it seemed, had things under control. The hotels said the workers could stay as long as they liked, but they refused. “I don’t want to freeload,” said heavy-equipment driver Murray Wendover, of Milton, Ont. “We came here to do a job. They don't need us, it’s time to go home.”

When the buses arrived to take them back to Canada, people on the sidewalks stopped to shake their hands. “Thank you,” said one businessman. “This has been so hard for us all, but because of people like you, well all get through it. You have no idea what this means to us. As your neighbour, I thank you."

J. P. Fozo

Over and Under Achievers

The week of bogus borders

The West Wing: White House TV soap rushes a post-attack episode to air. Its message of “pluralism” could have come from inspired Canadian leader. Wish it had.

The West Wing: Same episode has terrorist making a geographically impossible entry from Ontario to Vermont. It’s Quebec, boys. Can’t stop ’em if you can’t find the border.

Traffic cone: A pylon revealed as only guard at U.S. border points unstaffed after 10 p.m. Coming soon: Ottawa to condemn lax U.S. security, will double number of cones on the Canadian side.

■HÉ*Bible and Koran: Holy books are born-again bestsellers. For heaven’s sake, read them carefully.

There are few better barometers of public curiosity than Internet search engines. Before Sept. 11, the 12-million daily users of Lycos were searching for electronic game sites, TV shows, sports teams and pop singers. Post-terrorist attack,

Oops, I’m off the top 10 the Web is a more serious place.

The Top 10 Lycos searches week ending Sept. 8, in descending order: Dragon Ball 1 game site; Big Brother reality TV show; the NFL; Morpheus music swap site; singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane

crash on Aug. 25; Britney Spears, tattoos; fantasy football; Internal Revenue Service.

The Top 10 Lycos searches, week ending Sept. 29:

World Trade Center; Osama bin Laden; Dragon Ball Z; ancient prophet of doom Nostradamus, American flag; Halloween; gas masks; Morpheus; Afghanistan, costumes for Halloween.

Danger dude with animal magnetism

Early in his television career, Jeff Corwin almost became the filling of a pachyderm sandwich. While filming at an elephant orphanage in Kenya, the Boston native found himself pinned between two mammoth residents. “No one could see me,” he says. “I was screaming because they were actually crushing me on purpose.” Corwin, the 34-year-old zany host and executive producer of the Jeff Corwin Experience, which

will appear on the new digital wildlife channel Animal Planet, is obviously no stranger to scary animal situations. Armed with nothing but a campy voice and a fearless attitude, he’ll pick up a snake by the head while traipsing through the bushes of Louisiana or search out cobras, crocodiles and pythons in West Central India.

But since his close call in Kenya, Corwin-who also happens to be

doing graduate work on Central American bats-has become less cavalier when dealing with more complicated species. “Elephants are powerful, smart animals with a great kaleidoscope of emotions from love and gentleness to anger, fear and destruction,” says Corwin, referring to their human-like qualities. “Animals that are more like me are more unpredictable.”

Corwin’s animal adventure show takes viewers globetrotting to exotic places like India and Borneo. But he also features natural wonders found closer to home. “I just love the wildlife up here,” he says, pointing to Canada’s moose as “an amazing creature that stands twice as high as a man, with a hoof as big as a pie plate.” Perhaps there will be a Corwin-as-moose-pie-filling episode.

Rima Kar

In this country, I thee wed

Geoff Pross and Kiran Pal never understood the point of getting married. The couple—who have been dating for seven years—were content to continue their lives together without a piece of paper as proof of their commitment. But their curiosity as to why most other people are drawn to the formalities of marriage has led them on a matrimonial journey across the world.

For the past 10 months, Pross, 31, and Pal, 30, have travelled through six continents, living in small villages. During that time, they’ve learned about various marriage customs and asked locals in places like Ethiopia, the Australian Outback and the jungles of Borneo to marry them. Although never denied, Pross admits at times their motives have been called into question. “Sometimes we get looked at like we’re just trying to get pictures dressed in funny clothes,” he says. “But it’s not long before they realize we aren’t just there for Kodak moments."

Seven ceremonies later-all carrying no weight under Canadian law-the couple have warmed up to the idea of taking the plunge. “We’ve learned the importance of family and community in a marriage. We’ve also learned that the actions and rituals of marriage are meaningless if they aren’t done with understanding and

sincerity,” says Pross. “We went from not wanting to get married at all to a global wedding adventure.”

Pross and Pal, who have documented their travels on their Web site—

www.e-lopers.com-hope to take part in one more traditional ceremony when they visit Bolivia this week. And a legally binding ceremony with friends and family is planned for when they return home to Vancouver. But since Pross and Pal maxed out their line of credit on their previous marriages, a honeymoon getaway is out of the question.

John Intini

Overbites

“Today in the world the United States is the most dangerous and the most powerful global force unleashing horrific levels of violence. From Chile to El Salvador to Nicaragua to Iraq, the path of U.S. foreign policy is soaked in blood.” -Sunera Thobani, a professor at the University of British Columbia and former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, addresses 500 delegates on Oct. 1 at the Women's Resistance conference in Ottawa

“The comments she made were hateful and destructive.”

Thobani’s harsh words

-B. C. Premier Gordon Campbell

“I thought it was a manipulative rant.”

-Liberal Senator Landon Pearson shared the stage with Thobani

“People in this country are allowed to say what they want. I did not support it. I did not applaud it. I got up and left immediately.”

-Hedy Fry, secretary of state for multiculturalism and the status of women, was also seated next to the podium

‘These types of conferences are very useful in Canada and we will not stop having social dialogue in our nation because someone made a terrible speech that we condemn 100 per cent.”

-Jean Chrétien defends the government’s $80,000 funding of the conference