Trash talk and truth-telling

Pam
Pam Frampton
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"Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces."
- Sigmund Freud

Quick! Put down this newspaper. Hurry now, while you still have time to save yourself.
Then again, if you've made it to this page, you've probably already had to wade through the horrors of the front section - politics, strife, famine, violence.
There's always something bad happening. Why, it's enough to put you off your coffee.
You don't really want your day - heck, maybe even your whole weekend - ruined with upsetting photographs and disturbing news stories, do you?
So throw down this paper at once, and go hide your head in the sand.
At least, that's what St. John's Coun. Debbie Hanlon would have you do. Thank God she doesn't work in the newspaper industry, or there might be nothing but Care Bears and Happy Trees, sunshine and lollipops to read about.
Imagine it. This just in: poverty no longer exists. An old woman's purse was returned, not stolen. Voting has been replaced by hugs for your favourite candidate. Pharmacies avoid being robbed by handing out drugs for free - only in the safest amounts, of course. The petty criminals are all hyped up on happy pills and are busy doing good works. The fire alarm at a senior's home turned out to be caused by a nonagenarian blowing out her birthday candles. No harm done.
Prostitutes, finding no customers, have all become official cruise-ship greeters. Every student's an A student. Every pregnancy is planned and a blessing, all sex is consensual and mutually fulfilling.
The police, with no work for them to do in the community, go home. Rats are being fed and cared for at the St. John's waterfront.
It's adopt-a-street-pigeon month. Doughnuts are suddenly good for you. Yield signs are obeyed. Only the most esthetically pleasing property developments get city approval. Parking is free and abundant, the streets and sidewalks pristine and cleared of snow and ice. The mayor is known for his stick-to-it-iveness.
The only graffiti in town says, "Have a nice day."
Are you happy, Coun. Hanlon? Of course you are. Where you live, the sun always shines and the smiles are all free.
So you should take that frown you used on Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary last week at the St. John's council meeting and turn it upside down, before it sticks.

Trashing your colleague
Coun. Hanlon was bristling because Coun. O'Leary had the nerve to speak to The Telegram about - gasp! - litter.
And, most shocking of all, there were pictures.
Of garbage.
In the paper!
Oh, the horror.
"I want to speak briefly about how quick and easy it is to be negative about things," Hanlon said at Monday's meeting, adding she had been disturbed to see a recent front page of the paper showing "St. John's with a big bag of garbage on it."
Here's a newsflash for Coun. Hanlon: The Telegram is not a tourism brochure for the City of St. John's. It is a newspaper. We report fact, not fiction.
Is St. John's a beautiful city? You betcha. Photographs in this paper reflect that all the time.
Are the houses colourful, the walking trails sublime? Yessiree.
Is the coastline breathtaking? Uh-huh.
Is Robin Hood Bay being turned into the Taj Mahal of garbage dumps? You bet your sweet bippy.
But does the capital city look, in real life, quite as vibrant as it does in "Republic of Doyle" or the province's fancy tourism ads? No, it doesn't.
Is it unusual to see someone pitch an empty cardboard coffee cup out a moving car window? Nope.
Do people chuck stuff in the woods? Yes, they do.
Is the shoreline of Quidi Vidi Lake strewn with plastic bags, used condoms and pop cans? It sure is.
Should councillors concerned about the amount of garbage in their city bring it to the public's attention? Yes they should.
Councillors aren't meant to be mere council chamber cheerleaders, Coun. Hanlon. They are actually expected to address the concerns of their constituents and yes - heaven forbid - raise issues themselves.
Coun. O'Leary is a photographer, so it makes sense that she would reach for a camera to document the trash she saw with her own eyes.
Seeing is believing, as they say.
This is a charming city with much to recommend it. But it has warts, too.
O'Leary should be applauded for having the guts to raise a real and unsightly problem and look for ways to address it.
Perhaps you should try it some time, Coun. Hanlon. Take those blinders off and go for a walk around Quidi Vidi Lake, or along the Waterford River.
Oh, and take an empty garbage bag with you, would you? You never know when it might come in handy.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram's story editor. She can be reached by e-mail
at pframpton@thetelegram.com.

Geographic location: St. John's, Quidi Vidi Lake, Robin Hood Bay Waterford River

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Townie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I thought that all we had to do was elect women and the world would be perfect. That's the propaganda we get at every election. It's the person not their sex that makes the candidate a good choice.

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Debbie Hanlon is a complete failure as a councillor.

  • Ed.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Perfect. I wish that i could have said it so well.

  • Townie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    I thought that all we had to do was elect women and the world would be perfect. That's the propaganda we get at every election. It's the person not their sex that makes the candidate a good choice.

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Debbie Hanlon is a complete failure as a councillor.

  • Ed.
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Perfect. I wish that i could have said it so well.