Phil Burpee, Columnist
I told Chris Davis of the Voice way back last year sometime that if I couldn’t get a rise out of my right-wing countrymen by targeting their favourite, bloated, dried-up old sacred cows (Harper, tarsands, King Ralph, blind faith, Don Cherry, corporate bums, the PCs, Wildrose, endlessly-pubescent males, blast n’ hack hunters, religious bigots, tiny-minded zealots, dominion-over-the-earthers, market solutions, rote-voting, militarism, excessive wealth, Northern Gateway, Royals, war, etc., etc., etc……………), then I would have to seriously consider taking a shot at something, someone so hallowed, so lofty, so pure, so unassailably aristocratic, as to finally broach the great dam of conservative reticence and once and for all release the long-hoped-for torrent of abuse and vilification that has so eluded this stubborn columnist to date. And there’s only one topic left – only one symbol so sacrosanct as to be above all others – only one shining icon so bright, so blond, so perfect, so nearer-to-heaven, as to be far, far beyond the mere scrabblings of the lower masses of folk – yes, there is only one possible candidate here for such unimpeachable perfection - it can be none other than…………the Rodeo Queen.
“Now, that would really make me nervous,” said Davis.
Yet I can tell you right now that I am instantly undone and crestfallen with failure – I can’t make it work. I am mere mortal, and despite the many dubious cultural underpinnings of princess-worship, I am powerless as a man to do anything other than stand in awe of such dazzling cowgirl power – cascades, waves and eddies of blazing, blond hair gushing out from under bling-encrusted hat, gems flashing and sparkling in alluring, white ear-lobes, shoulders thrust back in jewel-embroidered, fine-tailored, crisp fancy shirt darted and tucked around a pert and comely torso, belt-buckle so vast and so scintillatingly beguiling as would have enflamed the greedy hearts of many a Spaniard in his quest for el Dorado, designer jeans so tight and so form-fit as to drop a man’s jaw to his knees, boots so pointy-toed and so polished as to mock mere stirrups – ka-lump, ka-lump, ka-lumping their way across the stage to the microphone where she articulates the anticipated ‘hi-lites’ of her upcoming reign – and then if that weren’t all enough – there she comes around the arena, perched high and proud with reins in hand, the great beast of her mount loping slowly and majestically beneath her, perfect little blue-jean butt slapping gently up and down in the gleaming saddle enough to stir the loins of any true buckaroo, even as she waves beneficently to her awe-struck and devoted subjects, her white teeth glinting in the perfect, southern Alberta sun beneath a flawless blue sky, and the entire Universe apparently stopping briefly in its workings to behold the new Monarch. All hail.
So, despite the dunder-headed stupidity of what has become of ‘cowboy culture’ in the modern world, and despite the obvious failings of celebrating physical beauty at the expense of so many others whose attributes do not so qualify in the eyes of our selective and prejudicial culture, let us be clear that without the celebration of Woman in her many forms, Rodeo Queen included, without the ceremonial articulation of her Power amongst us, without the special placement of Womankind above the monstrous failings and flailings of male history, we quickly devolve into bestiality and a withering impoverishment of spirit. And though I would be rooting for the brown-skinned, be-spectacled, full-figure girl with the less-than-perfect complexion, I know she won’t even be in the running. Yet it would be churlish in the extreme to arbitrarily trash the lovely Rodeo Queen out of hand. She is the hope and the future for her kind – the promise of progeny and the succour of the world. When she rides she carries our best hopes along with her, and what can one do but tip the hat, offer an encouraging wave, and wish her many a long year and Happy, Happy Trails.
That’s it then. When it finally comes to it I suppose I have failed – jammed in the crunch. No tar and feathers. No angry mobs. No dressing-down in the papers. The best I can hope to claim perhaps is to have flexed a certain licence to ‘amuse and inform’, as has been suggested. I began this column exactly a year ago at last year’s rodeo when I ran into Chris Davis, who informed me he had just started up the Voice. “Well,” I said. “Fancy that. I’ve got this piece about the death of Jack Layton that a Sunmedia rag wouldn’t print – interested?” “Send it over,” he said. And so I did – and that was ‘The Politics of Less’ of August 22, 2011. Then I just kept at it – I suppose this must be the 52nd instalment or so. And it is the last for a while. Thanks for reading. Time to hang up the old spurs and pass the Pony Express satchel along to the next rider, though – may the miles be kind - and swift! It’s certainly not as though there’s any shortage of stuff to write about – look around out there – it’s a goddamn zoo, and the animals have busted loose, are often dangerous, and likewise often in charge of governments and huge business concerns. And so it is both good and appropriate to challenge not only the status quo, but also the authorities who claim to represent our best interests. This is why we need informed commentary – and this is why, as a matter of life and death for our civilization, we absolutely need a free and unfettered Press. So support your Voice – speak, report, complain, observe, comment, witness, celebrate, photograph, exalt, fret, highlight, illuminate, demand, cajole, contest, confront, story-tell, remember, imagine – do all these things before some outside interest does it for you. These are our lives, and these are our times. 'Mary Loves Frank'. 'Man Bites Dog'. The news is nothing more than our world unfolding – we can just watch – or we can jump in and do.
And as to our Rodeo Queen – darlin’, may your reign be golden and your triumphs many. Your sun is just rising. Go out and make of the world a better place. Use your eyes to see, and your ears to hear, and listen to your heart for that voice which speaks your true name – ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom – yippee-ayo-kiyay, little girl – your crown is the deep, blue sky – and your pony is the wild, west wind.
August 18, 2012