October 22, 2017
in the haze
I drove from Pickering down to High Park and both the 401 and the Don Valley were congestion free. But the Gardiner between the Air Canada Center – hockey arena – and the Rogers Stadium – baseball park – crawled. Once through the downtown tourist bottle-neck, the highway opened up and I thought I was making good time until I hit the Dunn exit and road construction forced me onto Roncesvalles Avenue. Roncy, in local parlance, is the current hip-area and at 12-noon it was full of older, well-dressed residences who had left their suburban enclaves to come back to the old neighborhood for Sunday Mass in Polish and young hipsters in their torn jeans and low-fade haircuts anxious through a sunny afternoon.
Franchino and I were walking through Humber Bay Park and there in the haze was the skyline. (I like the image because of the ephemeral, far-off quality of the skyline silhouette and the immediacy of the fall colors on the trees in the bottom left corner.)
It continued to be a day of contrasts. The apartment was excessively warm, but the shoreline walk, with the wind whipping off the Lake, was uncomfortably cold. We took the paths away from the water and the chilling wind.
Franchino always has a movie ready and tonight’s was as disturbing as High Noon. Tonight’s movie was The Ox-Bow Incident. I literally sat there with my mouth open. Wikipedia has the following description – The Ox-Bow Incident is a 1940 western novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in which two drifters are drawn into a lynch mob to find and hang three men presumed to be rustlers and the killers of a local man.
Clifton Fadiman wrote an introduction to the Readers Club edition in which he called it a “mature, unpitying examination of what causes men to love violence and to transgress justice,” and “the best novel of its year.” In 1943, the novel was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated movie of the same name, directed by William A. Wellman and starring Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan. The movie was seen as a repudiation of Fascism.
What is jarring is that the actions/plot of the novel/film are based on fake-news – the cattle were legally purchased and the local rancher was hurt not killed. And watching this classic with a 2017 sensibility, l can’t stop thinking that like the 1940’s, fake-news is driving much of our political discourse, group-think and military actions. And fake-new, now like then, seems to be pulling us towards killings, towards war. (About 46 percent of Republicans support a preemptive strike on North Korea; 11,000 troops are currently in Afghanistan; and American special forces are in South Sahara Africa.)