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TORONTO, Ont. Dec 6, 2015/ Troy Media/ – I once had long discussions in Berlin with a Trotskyite who had defected during the Cold War to the west from the old Soviet Union because he thought the USSR wasn’t communist enough. Interesting guy. He’d made a fortune by buying up Soviet era movie posters and selling them.
This is an extreme version of the left splintering and having internal wars. In Brooklyn, ladies wearing clogs, Berkinstocks, Yurts or some other item that isn’t really footwear will admonish you for turning right on a red light, or for other breaches of other laws or social etiquette. This reminds me of the 1960s in Vancouver when a hippie might approach and ask, “Do you know that the meat in your body wouldn’t pass government inspection.” I thought at the time that this would only be a problem if we started eating each other.
In the 1960s it cost a lot to look like a poor hippie – boots or sandals, the right kind jeans, tie dyed shirt and buckskin jacket. Today, in my hip neighbourhood of Ossington Street, the epicentre of art in Toronto, the right people wear those politically correct Australian boots and the equally politically correct Canadian parka for a total cost of about $2,000. I can just feel the ostracism as I stroll in my Johnson and Murphy or Cole Hahn shoes and Brooks Brothers’ pants, jacket and top coat – total cost $500 or so at outlet malls along the east coast of the U.S. It’s all ironic, and not in the pork-pie hat, post-modernistic way.
This mob mentality of the politically correct occurred in London recently. A couple of hipster beard farmers liked the 1990s look of nick knacks and cereal boxes. The twin brothers (not named to protect their lives) opened the Cereal Killer Café on Brick Lane in the East End. A Channel 4 News report questioned the ethics of selling a bowl of cereal for more than $5 and a pop tart for $2 in a neighbourhood with hungry kids. In a media relations lesson, the brothers apparently showed little empathy and abruptly ended the interview – free positive publicity thrown away.
You guessed it, anti-gentrification politically correct protesters, with the name of Class War, attacked the café, as reported recently in The Times. Also covered in the Financial Times by Erica Wagner, she quotes the founder of Class War, Ian Bone, as noting that the ‘Cereal Riot’ was better covered than the protest against an apartment building where the poor in the social housing units had to enter a separate door.
The brothers have opened a new café in Camden. They rightly wonder why posh beer bars or bankers in the financial district weren’t targeted. They also note one of the Class War folks is well off and owns a home built on a former council flat site.
The story and the ironies are not over. The brothers don’t actually eat their own product much, preferring healthy smoothies and kale to Count Chocula. They rightly ask for a little room in the marketplace for an independent store, not part of a chain. They feel they’re promoting the 1980s and 90s more than cereal. They’ve had business meetings with someone from Vancouver, the city which helped invent protests through Greenpeace. So stay tuned – they and the protests might travel.
One more irony. The headline in The Times read: “Being from Belfast, we are used to mindless violence.” Yes, but not over cereal.
Dr. Allan Bonner has consulted on some of the major planning and public policy issues of our time on five continents over 25 years. He loves cities and his next book will be titled Safe Cities. Allan is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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