Student newspaper terrorist

This column appeared in The Gauntlet on April 12, 2012.

Since the beginning of the fall semester, in September of 2011, the University of Calgary’s independent student newspaper, the Gauntlet, has been held hostage by a lone ultra-left terrorist who goes by the simple pseudonym “Remi.”

The founding member of the terrorist network the Coalition for a Revolutionary Alberta Society, Remi has single-handedly managed to capture and control the Gauntlet’s nine section editors, as well as countless numbers of the paper’s volunteers. Adopting the title of “opinions editor,” Remi has transformed the previously arch-conservative student newspaper—once the springboard for Canadian right-wing heroes such as Ezra Levant and Stephen Harper—into an ideological tool for a terrorist message of “pro-autonomy” and “pro-dignity,” ideas that are clearly dangerous to the health of sensitive Albertan minds.

Having precipitated several violent incidents on the university campus, Canadian security and peace enforcement agencies having been pooling their resources to capture, kill and end the strife he has caused.

‘Remi,’ as he is known to allies and enemies alike, commandeered the student newspaper on September 3, 2011, and seized the title of “opinions editor.” The opinions section previous to Remi’s takeover maintained a small but humble position near the back of the weekly  issue of the Gauntlet. While maintaining his reign of terror over the paper’s real editors and volunteers, Remi has successfully expanded the opinions section to take up most of the paper, and through the section he bombards University of Calgary students with a weekly barrage of horrifyingly new ideas. As student Emily Hamilton, member of the Delta Upsilon Mu sorority observed, “The newspaper [the Gauntlet], like, used to be, like, totally fair and balanced, like the Calgary Sun is. Now it’s basically like mostly opinions from that hipster fag Remi or whatever his name is.”

As of the March 28, 2012 issue of the Gauntlet, a total of 300 students have claimed serious injury after having been exposed to an issue of one of Remi’s signature articles or illustrations.
One political science student Sam Bloom, remembers all too well how he obtained his injuries.
“I was walking down the hallway just leaving professor Flanagan’s class, and I saw the Gauntlet. I used to read it all the time. It was way better in my day. But I hesitated picking it up because it had something I totally didn’t like on the cover,” Said Bloom. “I flipped it open and it was just ultra-leftist filth everywhere. Some of the art was even communist looking. Then I started to read this article by that boy Remi. There were words that I didn’t like, like ‘passion,’ ‘vitality of life,’ ‘apparatus’ and ‘wherefore.’ I barely got through the first paragraph when I felt this terrible pain fill my head. Next thing you know I’m in the hospital for an entire day. I wasn’t even allowed to go to ThursDen that night. Like what the fuck. Remi is so pathetic and stupid.”

No one has yet to successfully discover the identity of “Remi,” although the Canadian Security Intelligence Service believes Remi’s gender is of a male-like variety, as one Gauntlet hostage reported as having seen, “A large phallic-like object,” which supposedly came out of Remi’s pants once during a  visit to a bathroom. Remi’s elaborate use of disguise, including a tangled mess of hair, crafty and distracting glasses and a penchant for shadows has allowed him to avoid recognition. It is thought that Remi is capable of producing fake newsmedia as a tool for deception, as well as writing about himself in the third person (generally considered an extremely masturbatory act) as to dumbfound and irritate his detractors.

The Coalition for a Revolutionary Alberta Society was, according to the group’s website, founded by Remi in late 1988, apparently not long after “Remi’s” supposed birth. Since that time both Remi and cras have grown considerably and have forged powerful relationships with various terrorist groups. Yet Remi has retained his anonymity since day one. Even fellow terrorists involved in Remi’s terrorist ‘Front’ or affiliated groups in his terror network apparently know nothing relevant about the ultra-leftist’s identity or origins.
In late 2011, members of the West Albertan Nationalist Guerrillas and the Socialist and Anarchist Coalition who had participated in terrorist acts of “discussion of political alternatives” alongside Remi’s CRAS, were apprehended by the Royal Canadian Peace Enforcement Agency and were subsequently coerced into revealing details behind their terrorist network. The coercion undergone by members of WANG and SAC revealed startling information about the level of penetration perpetrated by the terrorist connections here in Alberta and abroad, but failed to reveal anything significant about Remi. Even Remi’s Facebook profile is incredibly vague and misleading, claiming that Remi is, “In a relationship” and “Likes” such topics as “reading” and “music.”

With a love for violent “debate” and the use of frightening tactics such as “critical thinking,” Remi has successfully kept the editors and volunteers of the Gauntlet student newspaper hostage. Current Gauntlet editor-in-chief Eric Mathison, who has managed to maintain a level of connection with the outside world, stated in one letter that, “most of the time we are subjected to his [Remi’s] constant discussions of ethics, politics or metaphysics, as well as hour-long diatribes about the proper accents on ‘Slavoj Žižek.’ But he has allowed me to go for the occasional coffee and washroom break, and every now and again my wife is able to bring me in some vegan cupcakes.”

However, not all students or Gauntlet members have been overcome by Remi’s takeover. A post-Trotskyist student organization, a campus-based anarchist association and various pro-human rights activist students have all asserted their solidarity with Remi and CRAS. Additionally, current Gauntlet news editor, Amy Badger, has, according to one hostage mediator, fallen ill with Stockholm Syndrome.
According to Mount Royal University psychologist Evrin Ting-Halvoff, Stockholm Syndrome is “a paradoxical psychological condition where hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, occasionally to the point of defending their captors.” Badger is believed to currently be involving herself in sexual relations with Remi, although this has neither been confirmed nor denied by either party.

The Royal Canadian Peace Enforcement Agency has been unable to infiltrate the Gauntlet and arrest Remi. RCPEA commissioner Dic McIver stated in a recent press conference that, “we, the law enforcement agency of this fine city, have been unable to capture Remi. As it stands, we have been heavily preoccupied with meeting our quotas for speeding tickets, parking violations and agitation of undesirables.”

When questioned as to what changes might aid the RCPEA in their hunt for Remi, McIver claimed that an increase in peace officer funding and powers would enable the organization to “finally rid the city of its unwanted elements,” at which point the capture of Remi, “would become our top priority.”

With the student newspaper under Remi’s control, the ultra-leftist terrorist has been able to offend and horrify the delicate minds of University of Calgary students. With a large proportion of upper-middle class students attending the institution—all of whom are succeeding through their own rugged individualism—the terrorist demands of Remi’s, which include the “proliferation of genuine autonomy” and “respect for the dignity of all people,” have erupted into obscene ideological violence.

The story of Freezer Burn: Alberta’s regional Burning Man Festival

This column appeared with minor differences in The Gauntlet on July 21st, 2011.

Credit: courtesy Leah K

June 24, 25 and 26, 2011. Where were you? Lemme’ guess: Sled Island, shelling out shit-loads of coin just to bear witness to the throngs of young suburbanites struggling to out-cool and one-up one another. So where should you have been instead? Alberta Regional Burning Man’s 4th annual Freezer Burn festival. As Calgarians, we share the providential potential of being within a reasonable driving distance of several wonderful outdoor festivals such as Motion Notion, Shambhala, Mukwah, Inshalah, Tree Frog Fest and many more. Yet, while Freezer Burn is similar to the others in that you might find an ecstatic orgy of light, sound, psychedelic drugs, circus-type performers, crazy costumes and fire, Freezer Burn seeks to go furthur, bringing together a wide disparity of elements, creating a unique and dedicated community of self-proclaimed ‘burners’– a title which I take to be synonymous with ‘beautiful people’.

Credit: courtesy Starfive / Flickr

Burning Man proper is held annually in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Founded in 1986 by Larry Harvey, Jerry James and a few friends, the burn has grown exponentially. 2010’s gathering attracted well over fifty thousand people, seven hundred theme camps, two hundred and seventy five pieces of placed art and one fiery wooden statue of man standing one hundred and four feet tall. It was through my personal interest in wanting to one day grace Burning Man with my presence that inevitably led me to discover and eventually attend Alberta’s regional Burning Man, Freezer Burn– a rare phenomenon, as most people learn of the event and attend through friends who have connections to Burning Man in one way or another rather than simply finding it as I did.

My initial emotion as we arrive at Freezer Burn for the first time is anxiety. I stand at the greeter’s booth, where I have volunteered to dole out hugs to other new arrivees, when the thick mix of excitement and fear, like two tangling snakes slithering their way up my spine, coil themselves together down into my pineal pit and pulsate my psyche with a noxious anxiousness. I have not yet been able to adventure into the core of the festival’s commotion, as I am contained at the greeter’s booth, which is a good half mile’s distance from the hustle and bustle of the whole affair. I can just barely see the top of the enormous climbing dome that sits near centre camp. While slinging hugs on long-haired strangers and hanging out with volunteer coordinator Favrah (who is running the booth) is enjoyable, the phantasmagorical frothing of light and sound that is in the distance sends my anxiety toward its most serpentinian loopyness.

Badger planning our Saturday morning

Freezer Burn festival got its start in 2007 when Jennifer Strukoff– the regional organizer for the Burning Man organization, booked the Rochon Sands campground for a weekend in June, and invited as many of her fellow burners as she could find. Jennifer had joined the burner community when she and her husband went together in 2004. Some 90 people attended the first Alberta burn ­– and with Jen’s capacities as an organizer, and keeping local burners in the ‘default’ world connected, the event continues to grow. The last Freezer Burn had approximately 200 people.

Saturday at noon Lean Bear, my closest friend and roommate, and I stood on the edge of the slope leading down to the river. A few of the children (of which there are quite a few), a unique presence at the festival, are blowing soap bubbles to my right. Badger, my girlfriend, has just laid down for an afternoon nap. A little further down the steep embankment is a group of fifty-some people, most of them nude. They have set up a giant slip-and-slide ­– complete with one hundred feet of durable industrial plastic smeared in astroglide– skidding down the riverbank and ending near the water’s edge. The event is already underway by the time the two of us approach. It is a full-on success ­– clothes stripped off with little hesitation, people’s bodies free from restraint ­– the air herself saunters amongst us, feeling light-hearted and gay. Awkwardness failed to even make an appearance (we were told that awkwardness was spending a few days in the city, since there is so much more there to do). As I crack another beer I can feel the tingle of a weed-brownie working its way from my gut, through my blood, and padding my brain. Lean Bear pops open his beer too. A tab of acid swirls in his stomach and a grin draws itself across his face. I muse over a statue of Jesus with a dildo tied between his legs. A few words of Jen’s from when we had met for coffee a few weeks previous bounce through my head. “There are a lot of interesting things happening, a lot of interesting camps. If you can think about it then it is there. It may not be posted in the ‘what-where-when’ of the event, but it is there. It happens so long as there is consent, and people are of the right mind.” I stretch my legs out and lay in the glorious grass along the ridge. The day melts into the wonderfulness of the now.

The ten principles of radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leave no trace, participation and immediacy are what gives Burning Man, and all regional burns such as Freezer Burn, as Jen put it, “an overwhelming sense of community” (The Ten Principles of Burning Man). Additionally, on top of those ten principles connecting Freezer Burn to its parent community of Burning Man proper, the smaller event serves as a powerful training ground and ‘pre-experiment’ for the full event, which requires an enormous amount of resources to reach, time to prepare for and stamina to survive. And, of course, the contrast between Freezer Burn’s current location– an elk farm west of Ponoka- and Burning Man proper’s location ­– the Black Rock Desert ­– forms a distinct juxtaposition and interplay of values and experiences worth bouncing around in one’s mind for some time.

Credit: courtesy Leah K

Credit: courtesy Normurai L. S.

Saturday evening Badger and I, exhausted from a full day of engagement with a canvas of creation, retire to our tent for some needed rest. Karmic clockwork wakes us at ten thirty; the man would soon be burning. We frolic under the sleeping bag a bit before finally getting dressed and finding our way to the festival’s centre. Two hundred people are gathered around one of the most elaborate wooden constructions I have ever seen­– a thirty-foot-tall man made of intricately weaved and woven pieces of driftwood, built by Brother Ong, and it was about to be burnt to the ground. The fellow to my left, who on the first night had been wearing all fur and this morning had been wearing a Galactacus costume, is now adorned in a steampunk inspired battle suit. Lean Bear, standing to my right, is floating around in an ethereal swirl of MDA and body glitter. The fire starts low in the man’s feet. The wind begins to pick up and the fire eats its way up the right side of his body. His heat radiates. His light illuminates. The fire eats him. The man’s left arm, extended upwards as if in revolutionary defiance, is the final piece to be consumed by the heat and light. Badger breathes out a sigh of relief as the last of the man collapses upon itself in a fiery rush ­– her inner tensions had been tied up into the great driftwood hulk. The air is soft and almost shimmering as our bodies drift around the remaining fire out toward the pulsings and bursts of bright and height that have now begun flowing from the sound stages. Bass beats roll our souls around and down through the earth as a brilliant flash and flood of luminosity carries us out and up into the trees and back again.

Burning Man and Freezer Burn defy the laws of thermodynamics ­– an astonishing group of people gather to participate in a unique experience, creating an abundance of new and exciting energy ­– a tingling tangling twining twirling ebb and flow of an extraordinary elan vital.

As a fellow burner grokked as we all watched the man be consumed by flames, “that glow is fucking glorious, man.”