Can You Spare Any Change?

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – February 2, 2006

A lot of change going around these days.

Angelina Jolie changed the last name of her two children, Zahara and Maddox, to “Jolie-Pitt,” and will make Brad Pitt their adoptive father.

Here in Canada, over at CBC Radio, my favourite announcer, Anthony Germain, is changing offices and taking flight to Shanghai. I pretend he means the restaurant on Somerset West. (Mario, pass me a tissue!)

On CBC’s Ottawa Morning, Amanda Putz of the popular CBC music shows Fuse and Bandwidth has replaced Matthew Crosier as the Thursday morning music representative. On CBC Television, Rick Mercer’s Monday Report has switched to Tuesday nights (Mercer wants you to waste time at work here: and This Is Wonderland’s theme song is now an excerpt from the Stars’ “Soft Revolution” off the album Set Yourself on Fire.

What else? Gritty punk garçonne Avril Lavigne has transformed into a girl Gucci model for next month’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar. And Toronto writer, human rights activist and musician Meryn Cadell – of the “The Sweater” song fame, about cuddling your man’s woollens – recently transitioned from female to male.

Why all these name, job, sex and soundtrack changes? Evolution and betterment, I suppose.

Like, I knew it was time to leave the dark ages, so I switched from dial-up to high speed Internet, but my dinosaur operating system can’t keep up with the new zippy-zap technology.

On the surface, I look pretty damn connected, but am I really? Should I get a Mac?

I guess some upgrades are necessary, but for them to work requires a whole new operating system. Sounds like Canadian politics, right? I mean, is Stephen Harper’s party advanced enough to process the modern and forward-thinking input from enlightened Canadians over issues such as regional development, medicare, same-sex marriage and social welfare?

With all this talk of change and transformation, I can’t help but think of Hasbro’s Transformers action figures. I checked out their website at, and you tell me if this doesn’t sound like the Harper many in the media have depicted:

Harper as Megatron

“For millions of years, MEGATRON has led fanatical legions of evil DECEPTICONS on their war for conquest of the Universe. A living weapon with dozens of self-inflicted modifications made in the name of increased power and destructive capability, his only weakness is a single-minded desire for the enslavement of the Universe.”

Or maybe that’s Bush?

And two guesses who this is:

“OPTIMUS PRIME is a leader in the best sense of the word, taking point on every mission and never sending his team into any situation he wouldn’t go into himself. Dedicated to the protection of all life and the preservation of freedom for all sentient beings, he serves as a role model for his fellow AUTOBOTS.”

Indeed, it’s Jack Layton of the auto-towners, the mining-, steel- and down-towners.

Now back to the Duceppeticons. I mean, Conservative DECEPTICONS. “Unsurpassed in ego or ambition, STARSCREAM [former Mulroney aide Hugh Segal] is the scheming second-in-command to MEGATRON with a vast array of secondary weapons [Stockwell Day].”

But hold up! OPTIMUS PRIME has a right-hand man too, called JETFIRE. Sounds a lot like Arcade Fire, I know, but no, JETFIRE as in Paul Dewar. Although, Dewar is down with the band too. In fact, a couple of Saturdays ago at Second Cup on Bank and Somerset, Dewar popped in with Ed Broadbent and, catching site of my new Dumas CD (who rocks my particular universe:, told me about another cool Montreal band called Pony Up. (Catch them at Café Dekuf on February 12.)

Dewar’s not just a cool man – there’s more than meets the eye with this guy.

“JETFIRE’s strategic genius and status as the upstanding, honorable second-in-command of the AUTOBOTS make him an invaluable asset at the AUTOBOT base,” where hard-working folks like some Centretown bike couriers showed support with their NDP sign attached to their courier bags last week.

(Now if only the bike couriers would transform themselves into a pair of my pantyhose…)

So, you’ve all picked a side – or rather, voted against the one you didn’t want – and now with the battle started you can support your action figures or threaten to shove ’em all up your brother’s butt like you did back in grade 5 when he kept bugging you.

My hope here is that OPTIMUS PRIME and JETFIRE “unlock the power!” and frustrate the evil plans of MEGATRON. As for what part many think the Liberals play – well, those GoBots are, like, so yesterday.

And today, change is impressive if people can actually make it function properly. And I’m not only talking about Bradangelina’s marriage.

Cadell’s new gadget excluded.


VITAL IDOL Exotic dancers stripping to pay for school? Meet Danielle Egan, former exotic dancer-turned-assistant professor of sociology at St. Lawrence University (New York), who strips bare the dynamics of desire and fantasy in exotic dance clubs in her new book, Flesh for Fantasy: Producing and Consuming Exotic Dance. She’ll be giving a talk and signing copies of her new book and Dancing for Dollars and Paying for Love, on Friday, February 3 at Venus Envy (320 Lisgar), 7:30 p.m., Free!

Egan teaches courses in sexuality, sex work, social theory and qualitative methodology. Her work on exotic dance has been featured in several journals. She has also published work on post-9/11 political rhetoric and on the TV show Dr. Phil.

– Sylvie Hill