1. A VERY IMPORTANT Halifax Examiner Investigation
Warning: naughty content ahead.
Under the guidance of Tim Bousquet, we here at the Halifax Examiner take investigative journalism very seriously.
Thirteen months into the Chronicle Herald strike, it is even more vital than ever that we carry the torch for serious, challenging local reporting. With the legislated contract for teachers, increasing attacks on workers, austerity politics, and corporate welfare queens abounding, journalists have a responsibility to society to relentlessly track down important stories and bring the truth to our readers.
So obviously, as a loyal Examiner employee, it was my responsibility as a journalist to follow up on the most important recent story in local Nova Scotia news:
Unfortunately, while CBC was able to follow up the tip, their report was less than penetrating, leaving the reader unsatisfied. The length of their story left something to be desired. The usually stimulating and hard hitting news source blew off the opportunity to provide readers with visual evidence. In short, their picture sucked:
We here at the Examiner, being subscriber based, pride ourselves on not being beholden to bourgeois sensibilities. No prudish blurring for us! After all, Tim exposed one Peter already.
RCMP were called to a home in Yarmouth on Sunday afternoon after getting a call about a giant frosty phallus.
“The matter involved a prank that demonstrated some unusual creativity of young people who were enjoying the recent snowfall,” Cpl. Jennifer Clarke told CBC News in an email.
The people who built it were asked to take it down “due to its questionable nature,” Clarke said.
Now, being a Black person, I tend to avoid contact with the police if at all possible. However, for the cause of journalism and in solidarity with our colleagues in the United States facing Trump’s attacks on the media, it was my duty to sacrifice myself for the greater good.
I had to find out more about snow peen.
Thankfully, Tim was able to provide me with the contact number for the RCMP. Valiantly bypassing such lesser stories as the conspiracy to import a tonne of cocaine, I focused on digging deeper into the pressing issue of snow phalluses.
Putting on my most professional voice, I politely introduced myself to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke and informed her that I was calling from the Halifax Examiner with some follow up questions about “the obscene snow sculpture that was recently covered in the news.”
It was at this point the phone disconnected. Oh no! Did the RCMP think I was pranking them by asking questions about snow peen? Was snow peen protected information? Were my questions below the belt?
Thankfully, the excellent Cpl. Clarke called me back immediately. “Did you see the pictures?” she inquired. Naturally, being a Dalhousie trained researcher, I had.
I inquired whether the RCMP regularly responded to snow penises. How many snow penises did they usually encounter in an average winter?
“Oh my gosh, no. This is the first time,” I was informed.
Frankly, I found this information discouraging. While Halifax’s snow assholes are beloved, I genuinely expected more snow genitalia. Honestly, imagining that the RCMP were frequently responding to reports of snow phalluses, I was expecting to any day be seeing the release of a new video parody, “when you see that hotdog dink” informing the citizenry about this important issue.
Regrouping from this disappointment, I continued my investigation. “Would you consider this sculpture to be an issue of public obscenity” I inquired. Naturally as a prison rights activist, I was interested in the potential legal ramifications of snow penises. Could someone be charged for creating snow “down theres?”
“That depends on your interpretation at the end of the day,” responded RCMP spokesperson Clarke. I was informed that the “person who made the report was satisfied” with the destruction of snow penis, and that as the sculptors were co-operative with the police, there was no further issue.
“So someone reported the snow penis?” I asked. This information was confirmed.
That person hates freedom.
Local men’s rights activists have remained strangely silent on this issue of the mandated destruction of male symbols from our public spaces. Would snow vagina be similarly crushed? Further investigation into this issue is warranted.
Significantly for this investigation, snow penis is not merely an issue with local ramifications. Rather like the teacher’s strike, the issue of creatively styled penises is in fact a global issue. For example, only this Christmas, a man in Blackpool, England, was ordered by police to remove his penis-themed Christmas lights.
I shared this information of a global creative peen crime wave with Cpl. Clarke, and inquired if perhaps the RCMP had encountered this phenomenon: if not in snow, perhaps in other mediums.
They had not.
However, one thing perhaps the RCMP had not yet considered in forming a strategic plan to combat the potential problem of penis-themed arts within our communities is the recently released cultural plan by Premier McNeil. It’s possible that given encouragement for “innovative cultural initiatives” and prioritizing “attractiveness for visitors” that we may well see an explosion in the peen arts in our communities. I’m no police chief, but I’m just saying that as Lord Baden-Powell advised, we should always be prepared.
When I put this question to Cpl. Clarke, she responded that “If it were to become an issue we would have to come up with a public strategy” but so far, they did not anticipate this being a problem.
“They co-operated with our members,” Cpl. Clarke re-iterated. Then she paused. “Probably a poor choice of words.”
So there you have it, Examiner readers. For myself, writing this story in Black History Month, I feel unexpectedly warmed by this friendly interaction with the police. As the great Dr. King suggested (paraphrased), one day little black boys and girls and little white
snow penises boys and girls will join hands, judged not by race but by our mutual amusement at obscene snow sculptures.
Now go forth into the bright snow and freely build, build, build to make this the truly bold city we all know we have the potential to be.
2. I freely admit I can’t even build a sandwich
A Canadian Heritage Minute:
On the weekend, Bayers and the two 13-year-old boys decided to take advantage of the metre or so of snow that fell on the Eastern Shore area last week.
“We were planning to build the king of the snow forts,” he told CBC’s Maritime Noon.
I feel this is where the story went wrong, just to pinpoint it:
Using a plow attached to the front of an ATV, Bayers began to pile up snow for the fort.
The trio were putting the finishing touches on the inside of the fort when it suddenly collapsed.
“I was shaving it off the ceiling, kind of laughing and carrying on. The next thing I know the lights went out,” said Bayers.
“They [the boys] were a couple of feet away from me screaming and they might as well have been a mile away. I was pinned, with my leg twisted up behind me and just felt like the weight of the world on top of me, and I couldn’t so much as move my finger tips.”
The moment the story hits peak whiteness:
Bayers said he didn’t know whether 10 seconds or 10 minutes had passed when he felt a tug on the back of his jacket.
“I’m saying ‘help, help, I can’t move,’ and the tugging stopped for a second and I heard a bark.”
It was the family’s golden retriever, Zoose…
“What if the dog was [in the house]? There’s a million what-ifs and fortunately, it wasn’t our time,” he said.
Dog sipping tea:
The CBC story thoroughly includes an image of the aftermath. Caption: “The mound of snow that trapped [the family].”
This has been a Canadian Heritage Moment.
3. “Appely Ever After”
I’ve spent hours falling down the Apple Blossom Festival parade conspiracy rabbit hole.
Local Xpress has been reporting in detail on the Apple Blossom parade saga.
On the 16th, they reported that the board was moving the parade from Kentville to New Minas. According to Kentville Mayor Sandy Snow, she was “blindsided” by the announcement:
Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow said she was blindsided by the announcement, having been told about the move just before the media release was issued.
“Gut-punched. Perplexed. Concerned,” she said when asked to describe what she was feeling.
The board hadn’t come to the town with any concerns or talk of moving the parade, the mayor said.
“They’ve been in to see me twice. The first time was looking for our support, which I said the town was willing to provide,” she said. “The second time, three of them came in to see me and find out what was going on. At the same time, we were asking some pretty hard questions with regards to the change in the princesses and we wanted a copy of the new guidelines and rules and weren’t getting very far ahead.”
The “change in the princesses” refers to an earlier decision by the board to eliminate any gender requirements in running. King’s County Councillor Emma Van Rooyen also argued for allowing mothers to participate and eliminating the requirement for candidates to have completed Grade 12.
One comment on the Local Xpress story suggests that perhaps the move to New Minas is in response to the “hard questions” about the princesses and what the nature of those questions were.
Hundreds of comments left on the festival Facebook and the petition argue against moving the parade, with particular pushback against the big box store nature of New Minas, where parade goers will be parked in the Walmart parking lot watching the parade pass the Home Depot and Giant Tiger.
Beyond the issue of the tradition of the parade, much of the resistance is around the rural nature of the valley versus the corporate landscape of New Minas: as such, the comments on the petition and Facebook mark a challenge not just to the parade location but to broader issues around local cultures, small business, and the building of big box store developments. Commentators frequently contrast the homes, yards, and family setting of the Kentville parade with the parking lots and big name stores of New Minas.
Deepening the speculation around the reason for the move, the board changed its message, “directly blaming” the town of Kentville for a “lack of cooperative spirit and a general disregard for the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival” according to another Local Xpress article.
The board posted a release on its website Saturday morning saying that it had approached the town on multiple occasions to ensure it would continue to provide parks and recreation and policing support.
“Despite an urgent need for their assurance, the festival experienced a lack of cooperative spirit and a general disregard for the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival as the lead organization,” the release said. “As a result, in order to ensure that this cherished event continued, alternate locations had to be considered.”
On Wednesday, the board only said that it was trying to move the parade to a different location because festival events should be spread throughout the Valley. The parade has been held in Kentville for nearly all of its 85 years.
Festival vice-president Alxys Chamberlain did not respond to a request for comment.
The board also said in its release Saturday that “for many years there has been a growing misconception that the Apple Blossom Festival is a Town of Kentville owned and operated event,” but didn’t say what it was basing that comment on.
Mayor Snow claimed, however, that Kentville:
[N]ever said it wouldn’t provide the same level of support it always has for festival events. She assumed the statement that Kentville was showing a disregard for the festival board as the lead organization had to do with a comment she made that the town feels a sense of ownership of the parade.
The mayor has said she was aware of only two other issues between the town and board: the town refused to remove its logo from marketing it pays for to advertise festival events in the town, and it asked for a copy of the new guidelines for people wanting to run for the position of community leadership candidates, previously called princesses.
According to Dave Chaulk, the New Minas village commission chairman:
“The Apple Blossom committee … said that they were looking at moving (the parade) out of Kentville and asked if we would take it over,” he said. “We met as a commission and decided that we would help them out.”
He said the village didn’t ask the board to move the parade to New Minas.
“It was never like that,” Chaulk said. “They totally approached us. We weren’t trying to take anything away from Kentville. We were just trying to help out the Apple Blossom committee.”
This seems to run counter to the board’s explanation that the parade was moved in response to community demand:
“As the festival board of directors, it is our duty to uphold the integrity of the festival and to proceed with an event that captures its founding missions,” the release said. “Residents and communities from across the Valley have spoken and we have listened. In order to get back to the traditional roots of the festival, we will begin by taking small steps this year to transition events to once again be held across the entire region.”
While the parade briefly moved to other communities in the late 60’s/early 70s (according to comments on Facebook), it has been held in Kentville 83 out of 85 years.
Other commentators have pointed to the sponsor list and noted that while Kentville is a platinum sponsor (over $10, 000,) New Minas isn’t listed as a contributor, and nor do any other towns seem to be listed. This has raised speculation about whether Kentville will remove funding if the parade is moved, and how the festival will survive if they do.
As Local Xpress reported on Friday, “[a] day and a half after an agreement was expected that would settle the location of this year’s Apple Blossom Festival parade, the festival’s board still hasn’t signed off on the document.”
^^^Metaphorical representation of the relationship between the board and Kentville.
According to a CBC story on February 23rd:
Earlier Thursday, Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow said she felt that the parade, scheduled for May 27, would be staying in Kentville. But by mid-afternoon, the other side still hadn’t signed off on the agreement.
“We are hoping that they will sign it once they receive it and then we’ll be off to the races, so to speak,” Snow said.
Festival interim president Alxys Chamberlain said Thursday she was not even aware the town had signed the agreement until her office received a call from the media.
I admit it, I’m completely intrigued by the drama and skullduggery of this story. Following all the new developments is like my Keeping up with the Kardashians. The shade being thrown around is amazing. It feels like the backstage intrigue we imagine taking place at pageants is gloriously taking place in front of us, and I love it.
4. Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated
All the news is ridiculous.
According to the Halifax Regional Police in this CBC story:
Just because someone isn’t responding to your Facebook messages doesn’t necessarily mean they are in danger, says one Canadian police force.
In recent years, the Halifax Regional Police have seen an uptick in concerned friends and family filing missing persons reports because someone hasn’t posted to social media recently.
The police estimate that they receive 25 missing person reports a year from people not posting on social media.
In most of the social media missing person cases, the individuals are found and tell police they weren’t missing at all, they were simply taking a break from social media.
Okay, personal anecdote time. A few years ago I was going to Memphis for a conference, and my flight ended up getting cancelled and seriously delayed out of Halifax. By the time I got to Memphis I had about half a day in the city, and I wanted to change my flight out but I didn’t think I should have to pay the change fee since I spent 2 days in the airport or something. Except I’m terrible at convincing people of that kind of thing, so it wasn’t working. I’m telling one of the conference organizers this, and she says her friend is really good at getting these things done and let’s get her to call.
Except I guess as she was calling, my mother called me on the other line. So this friend thought she was talking to the airline, but she was actually talking to my mum. She’s on the phone telling my mum that she’s me and she’s trying to change her flight, and my mum is hearing someone with a very Southern accent who obviously isn’t me. And I guess she started interrogating this person trying to figure out if they were an identity thief, so she’s asking questions like what’s your middle name, where were you born, what’s your grandmother’s name, etc. And the friend keeps writing these questions to me, and I’m thinking, this is the strangest airline. Why do they need all this information?
Eventually I suppose my mum hangs up, the conversation takes place with the actual airline, my flight is changed, they pay for it. excellent job done. I get my phone back, and I look at my email, and I have this panicked email from my parents saying that someone just called the house pretending to be me (except I don’t think my parents understand smart phones, because obviously if someone had kidnapped me and stolen my phone, they would also have access to my email. But I digress.)
My parents called the Memphis police who came to the hotel looking for me, and the police called my parents saying my suitcase was still in my room and there was no sign of any violence, and my family was convinced I was abducted somewhere in Memphis and that an identity thief was booking escape flights.
The really funny thing about that email was my mum was like “WE MANAGED TO FIGURE OUT SHE WASN’T YOU” and I was like, what part was it that tipped you off, THE THICK SOUTHERN AMERICAN ACCENT?
I was actually kind of impressed that the police looked for me so quickly, being a Black woman and all. But it might have been the tourist part that had them motivated.
So I suppose that were my parents on social media, I could see them calling the police if I took a break is what I’m saying. Thankfully, my mother says things like “you’re not on the Facething are you?” or “you don’t POST on those things do you? No wonder you can’t get a job!” So there is little chance of that happening.
Anyway, here’s some advice from “social media researcher” Giles Crouch, and the HRP:
But people should first call their friends directly if they believe they’re missing, Crouch said.
If that doesn’t work, they should reach out to others who might know where the person is before contacting police.
[Dt. Const. Mike] Cheeseman said it would clear up confusion if people who are frequent users of social media posted a simple message saying they’re stepping away from their digital life.
“Even something as simple as that, so that way people are aware, ‘Oh that’s why they’re not on Facebook or that’s why I haven’t been able to reach them by text.’”