Archives for category: Essays

fit in picture

By James Pavel

“Fit in or fuck off” is a miss-led and uneducated slogan ordering anyone not subscribing to the white man’s world to find the nearest exit.

It is also a fear-induced reaction from a small number of Canadians resulting from the shootings in Ottawa, Ontario this past week.

The murderer identified with the Islamic religion, which is the most contentious spiritual group in western culture for over a decade.

But “fit in or fuck off”? Fit in to what exactly? This is Canada, a country that has proven to be the greatest multi-cultural experiment in history. There is no “fitting in.” You are who you desire to be in the great white north.  We ask that you respect Canadian traditions and conduct yourself in a harmonious and peaceful fashion, while respecting the beliefs and cultures of others. Clearly, the criminal involved in this week’s shooting broke these vows. But we shall not suddenly wipe our hands clean of middle-eastern religions and cultures because the violence of war briefly infiltrated our nation’s capital.

“Fit in or fuck off” can only exist as the mantra of a scared individual, a person who is willing to surrender the Canadian cultural landscape that we have cultivated for two centuries because of the actions of violent lunatics.

Events such as the shooting should bring us closer. Not provoke the solicitation of bigoted stickers that suddenly call for foreigners to immediately remove themselves.  We have become a tremendous example of how embracing our differences can make a nation stronger not weaker. This should serve as a test on how devout we as Canadians are to the near-utopian society we have developed. This is not Ferguson, Missouri. This is a country that judges one by their character and not by their religion, skin, or potential turban on their head.

Canada is engaged in yet another controversial war, and we have managed to avoid any violence on our soil. This week proved that we are susceptible to these dangers. What will transpire over the next few months will give us a clearer idea of how severe any incoming threats are and if this was indeed, a singular act.

The Islam religion is witnessing radicals use their religion as a misguided cape to flaunt during sprees of violence. But it is not all those who practice this religion that are suddenly to blame. It’s a complex and maturing scenario, and one that requires the patience and respect that Canadians are endowed with.

If you’re really a Canadian, then you know that “fit in or fuck off” does not follow the national mandate.


By James Pavel

I’m awfully fragile right now;  But I will do my best to transcribe what happened. 

Remember that actor I used to rave about? the ‘king of the world’ guy? – he just tossed me to the side like a Blackberry Curve this week and I am still trying to recover emotionally. 

He showed up in my home province unannounced, in one of his gas-inhaling private jets and immediately began stomping his muddy boots all over the place, screaming about how the Alberta oil and gas industry needs to come to a screeching halt. 

This is the actor that convinced a generation of boys and girls to visit Thailand and find themselves while simultaneously converting it into a western-fornicating, utopia. He’s Jay Gatsby. He’s the Aviator. He’s the coolest, model-plowing, wolf-howling, motherfucker on the planet. And yet, that doesn’t seem to matter right now. 

With him visiting, I was thinking it was going to be a weekend of scanning the voluptuous Rocky Mountains, a picnic at one of Banff’s glorious national parks and maybe even floating down the city of Calgary’s Elbow River – boy, was I off the mark.

 He completely sideswiped me. He continued banging on about the way me and my friends make a living around here. He said we should be ashamed of ourselves for the way we are irresponsibly purging from the Earth and destroying nature. 

You see Leo didn’t come to see me or any of his other adoring fans. He came to scrutinize the oil and gas sector and marvel at how supposedly awful we have treated the land we live on. 

As he roared at me that our relationship would never be the same, I sobbed like a child burying his first pet gerbil. I asked “But Leo, why didn’t you unleash this speech in Nigeria or Saudi Arabia?” 

Surely, they are are both oil-producing nations that rely heavily on the consumption of oil for profit too. 

Oh wait I remembered, he probably didn’t go there because those countries would never allow him film a millisecond of footage of their oil industry. You see, it’s way easier to come to Canada, a free country, and go on uneducated tirades about one of the world’s most vital industries without the fear of being imprisoned or worse. Must just be a coincidence.

Also kind of crazy, that James Cameron and Neil Young both gave the same guilt-riddled speech over the past few years and yet none of them, Wolf of Wall Street included, have actually provided any viable alternatives or solutions. 

I told Leo through my blubbering that it was strange that he chose Alberta to sever our bro-mance, considering that this province has the most stringent standards for oil and gas in the world and that we are regularly looking for methods to ensure even tidier and more environmentally-friendly tactics. 

Never mind that, he balked. “But, but Leo,” I managed to utter. 

“Remember during the World Cup of Soccer in Brazil when you arrived on one of the world’s most luxurious yachts and partied with some of the most beautiful creatures ever conceived? Well, that actually wouldn’t have been possible with turbines or windmill energy. That yacht actually ran off of this ‘dirty oil’ you are currently dismissing.”

He shot me an incredulous look, as if I was a character swinging an axe at him from The Gangs of New York film. I began to think that Leo was being duped into thinking he was playing a heroic character in a fantasy movie where oil isn’t necessary and the world can just get by on unicorn kisses and leprechaun dust. 

He abruptly brushed my comments off like a half-assed script emailed to him by Michael Bay. 

I decided I wasn’t going to let Leo get the last word. 

“You know Leo,” I practically screamed, “we are aware that oil and gas is not the ideal method of producing energy. But it remains the most effective, the most desirable and far and away the most successful way of running a vehicle or producing some of the world’s most important products.” 

We can’t wait for a cleaner source of energy to arrive either. But until that miracle resource arrives, we are going to work like hell to make this oil and gas as beneficial to as many nations as possible. We don’t like oil spills either, because just like you, we love the outdoors too. Hiking, biking, running – there’s more to us than just hockey and snow-mobiles. 

Listen Hollywood, we are all ears. But the whole wind turbines, nuclear energy movement? It’s proven to be a major bust. So if you are going to criticize, you better begin to bring some exceptional ideas to the Canadian table. 

I hope this is just a tiff between us Leo, I really do. But until then, maybe you are right. Maybe a break-up is the best thing for both of us. 


By James Pavel

Tired of telling yourself that you’re done getting smashed on the weekend only to find yourself screaming for your best friend to hold your hair while you vomit out enough shooters to fill a bath tub?

I have an evolutionary secret that will alter your bottle-swigging days forever. Turn 27. That’s right. Age is definitely more than just a number.

I’m here to help. Screaming at cab drivers, hitting on people that look like they escaped the Calgary Zoo and being hauled out the pub before the clock strikes midnight, I’ve been there. And then I’ve been there again and spent the night in a jail cell.

But then a miraculous event transpired. On the third of December I celebrated my birthday. But not just any birthday. It wasn’t my golden b-day, nor was it my sweet sixteen. It was my 27th birthday. Often associated with the deaths of rock stars and less often with your older brother’s quarter-life crisis, there I was, reveling in the wonder of becoming not older, but perhaps, better.

And then it hit me. I attempted to wake up for my first day as a 27-year-old. But I couldn’t. I realized my head was rattling like a family of rattlesnakes trapped inside a shoe box. I reached for my glass of water and threw it down my parched throat that was as dry as a Nevada summer. My entire body felt like road construction was being conducted on it, with twin jackhammers delivering pulsating blows to my temples.

I was clearly and desperately hungover.

But pre-birthday, I could shake it off. A quick jog to sweat out the vodka, a cold Gatorade to hammer down the hatch, and I was on the freeway to normalcy.

But not on this day. Nor any day after. At 27, you no longer wish to drink. You just can’t. So you quit. You’re done. The hangovers aren’t just brutal. They’re from the seven hells of Jupiter, a land that takes privilege in squeezing your moral compass until it shatters to smithereens. A place that makes you so crippled by fatigue, you contemplate calling in sick for a month.

A day-long nap/movie marathon can’t shake these thunderous, hung-to-the-moon hangovers.

If this secret threatens your present fun then please, relish your three-hour headache. You know, that hangover you get when you’re 22-years-old.

The one where you pop an Advil, lay down for a half hour and could write a book of poetry and raise a foreign orphan.

Because hungover at age 27, you desire a wheelchair, enough Tylenol to comatose Snoop Dogg, and a nap the length normally reserved for newborn children.

Or don’t. Embrace this new age of pain and reality. Put the bottle down. It’s finally time. You’ve found your excuse that your body and mind can’t ignore. All those activities that you put off in favour of club-hopping and pub-crawling are now deliciously desirable ideas.

So go rock-climbing. Stop pretending you go to yoga and actually start regularly attending. There is no book or medicine to quit drinking. Only an age demographic.

Relish in the magical age that will help you to quit drinking alcohol forever.

By James Pavel 

 Babies, beaches and half-naked bodies are waiting to be discovered on what appears as almost every social media profile page. But a new, popular method of attracting attention has become tattoos, or new tattoos that have recently been penned on one’s body by an anonymous artist, who in reality, usually deserves all and sole credit for the artistic wizardry. 

 The adoption of tattoos as a new source of attention-craving has allowed individuals to surrender the sum of their identity to tattoos through social media. 

 The lower-back tat might be out, but in are half-arm sleeves, full-arm sleeves, rib-cage tattoos and basically anything that involves piercing the skin with a permanent needle. 

 In 2013, job titles or true achievements are thrown in the back-seat replaced by the immediate gratification that tattoos and social media postings can offer. Tattoos are a painful but mostly rewarding body alteration while social media can fuel the ego like air pressure to a deflated tire. 

 They are an ideal hybrid for individuals not interested in focusing on the big picture, but only on today and perhaps tomorrow. 

 What the tattoo actually communicates is less important than just having the ink visible. Bodies are being filled in faster than elementary school colouring books because the accolades one can receive via social media has become addicting, not unlike the lionizing one receives when yet another photo of one’s two-year-old suddenly uploads on to hundreds of social media feeds. 

 Tattoos were associated with sailors and bikers until the mid to late 90s. They are now found on what appears as every second or third 20-something year old. The explosion of tattoos has been amplified by the feverish use of social media, and both parties have benefited exponentially. 

 This generation’s obsession with body art is another blow to the original culture of rebellion. To have numerous tattoos thirty years ago allowed one to rest on the fringes of society. But in today’s world, little can make one fit in more than a dazzling image of seemingly anything, strutting across one’s arms or torso. 

 Social media truly is an alternative universe, where one can fall under the false impression that receiving yet another meaningless tattoo delivers the idea that they are living an ambitious and authentic lifestyle. 

 In reality, the world’s greatest privacy intruder, social media, is helping document millions of individuals succumbing to one of the generation’s most permanent trends, tattoos. 

 This movement is now burning down the metaphorical houses where true bad-asses once chose to reside. To appear rebellious is almost impossible because everything that was once “bad,” is now hysterically popular, no greater example than the countless tattoos posted through social media.