File Shelves Make Library Modern


In 1993, the online world was beginning to emerge. There was a lot of grumbling about how a wired world would affect society. In my last few years at school, the U of W's Leddy library had added a computer catalog system. For the first couple years, it was run in parallel with the traditional card catalog system. At some point they cut off updating the card catalog. Many older users, utterly afraid of computers, were not pleased by this. They were quite vocal in their opposition to the eventual removal of the card catalog system. This article sort of poked fun at the Luddites of the Leddy Library.


The article was written by Dewey Congress, a name taken from the Dewey Decimal System and the Library of Congress system (the latter was used by U of W's library).


Two students excited about the new fangled card system are quoted in the article. One a Mr. Watson and the other a Mr. Crick. Watson and Crick, of course, discovered DNA. Through out the issue we had a lot of fun with both names and the archaic degree programs in which students were enrolled ("Fixed Celestial Bodies", "Humonculus Biology").


The bit about the library staff being there just to clear out the suggestion box came from a little psyops campaign I used to wage against the library staff when I was a student. They had this suggestion box and a sign over it indicating you could drop off a question and the staff would answer it. Answers were then posted on a bulletin board near the suggestion box. I noticed two things about this suggestion box thingy. One, all the answers to the various questions and suggestions amounted to the library staff fobbing off responsibility. For example,


Suggestion: The toilet paper is like wiping with razor blades. Better toilet paper would be great! Thanks!

Response: We've passed your suggestion on to the janitorial staff.


Suggestion: People keep stealing the books I need. Like what the fuck?

Response: We've notified campus police and requested a larger security budget.


Suggestion: It's too hot in the west wing. Can you turn the heat down?

Response: We've passed your comments on to the power plant.


Two, within the text of their little suggestion box sign, the staff made no mention they would answer only questions about the library. It indicated ANY question. I decided to test this. Every week I placed the same question in the box: "What is the origin and meaning of the term 'it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop'?" My question was always ignored. After about 3 months of this, I left a terse note "I've been asking the same question for the last three months and no one has ever bothered to answer it! You all should be ashamed of yourselves." That one they answered. They indicated questions of this nature could be answered by the reference librarian.



Bell jar experiment makes Virgin Sweat


My direction to Terry was to "bury this in some corner in the paper" so as to add an extra layer of historical irony. The article was a parody of the whole cold fusion debacle. The chemistry professor is named Pons X. Nihilo. Pons from the cold fusion duo Pons and Fleischman. X Nihilo from the latin "ex nihilo" or "out of nothing". When I sent these articles to Terry, the initial intent of the parody issue was to feature articles from a range of early time periods -- from Windsor's inception until around the First World War. So I tried to write them for different time periods. "Charity event ends in cannibalism" was set during the Prohibition era. This one was set shortly before the fatal voyage of the Titanic. The gag was the professor discovered some weird effect that produced huge amounts of steam and "waste heat" but figured oil would meet world energy needs for a century. The article ends with the professor putting the experiment aside and him commenting he might get around to publishing it as soon as he gets back from his voyage on the Titanic. Bah dah bing.


At some later time, The Border City Lance concept was changed to be a reprint of a specific issue from the year of Windsor's incorporation. Most of the idea was saved but the Titanic reference had to go. Terry stitched in the whole highly pedantic Virgin Mary aspect which I think ruined the intent of the article: the reporter thought he was writing a by-the-numbers, unremarkable little filler piece when in fact he was recording a critical, yet forgotten event.


Oh well.



Instability problem perplexes community


This article falls under the "more things change the more they stay the same" humor genre. Many universities have a perennial parking problem.


The University of Windsor parking problem was typically bad. Paid spaces in university parking lots were few and when they became available they went quickly. Students would actually camp out over night in the halls of the administration building to ensure their place in line and secure a parking pass.


Every year students called for the construction of a parking garage, just like they had at real universities in places like London and Toronto. Every year municipal politicians agreed a solution was needed and then summer rolled around and everyone forgot about the parking issue until September. For some odd reason, no one ever called it a parking garage. Everyone always called it a "multi-level parking structure". I believe this was because in Windsor "parking garage" was synonymous with "massive space-based antimissile defense system that's going to cost us a ton of money to even get to the planning stages and then it will never get built". Windsor did not have a great track record when it came to building parking garages in the downtown. Parking garage projects all seemed to get started with great haste, a deep hole was dug, and then the whole project was halted for several years because the developer went bankrupt or the developer used the threat of a big unsightly hole in the middle of downtown to negotiate for better terms.


The upset "townie" Fred Standish was a character that appeared in a comedy radio show Terry and I did for three years. Fred Standish was our archetypal staunch American conservative: Anti-Miranda Rights, anti-women, anti-immigration, pro-gun. He would give regular commentaries on our show, beginning his pieces with "Fred Standish here" followed by a patrician-like nasal snort backed by a faint southern twang.


The police officer Orville Miranda is another cross-over character from our radio show. In this case, he went by the name of Orville Pulltab. Orville Pulltab turned up in our fake news segments a lot. He was usually the spokesperson for some ill-thought-out populist right wing political action committee devoted to the expansion of government, police, and judicial powers.


Community Service Officer Bill Panacea's public transit solution was a reference to a solution the University of Windsor cooked up in conjunction with Windsor's public transit company. For a flat fee added to everyone's tuition, every U of W student would get a free monthly bus pass. To give U of W students a taste of the glories of Windsor's public transit system, students got free bus passes for January and February. A referendum was held at the beginning of February to see if students agreed this was a workable plan. Apparently U of W students realized what everyone realized about Transit Windsor. The bus sucks. I remember my days riding Transit Windsor. All I wanted to do was stare out the window and cry. (In a city where Chrysler, GM, and Ford provide the jobs and the tax base, Windsor will never offer its citizens an alternative to driving.) The day after the referendum failed, U of W students who tried to board a bus with their February pass were in for a rude surprise. Transit Windsor would no longer honor the passes for the rest of the month. Those who waited half an hour in bitter February cold with only a pass and no exact change for bus fare were not overly impressed with Transit Windsor's move. It seemed vindictive.



Charity event ends in cannibalism


This was one of mine. Terry butchered it a bit. Actually he butchered it a lot, likely due to his poor knowledge of Windsor's famous "rum runner" days. Windsor, famous for cars and strippers, is also famous for being the home of Hiram-Walkers, makers of Canadian Club and other fine spirits. Hiram-Walkers owes a lot to American prohibition. During the prohibition era in the USA, Michigan was "dry" and Windsor, being in Canada, was "wet". There emerged rum runner gangs. They would cross the Detroit river surreptitiously late at night in small boats loaded with rum, supplying a great deal of the speakeasy establishments in the Midwest. A Windsor journalist named Marty Gervais published a respectable history of the rum runner days. Brother Charles Hamashah Gervais is of course a nod to Marty. One of Windsor's more successful rum runner gangs was the Purple Hand Gang. The Purple Hand of Jesus was a nod to the gang.


The "SAC-ratified club" aside was a small barb thrown at the SAC vs Greek Letter Frat wars from the early '90s. Greek frats and sororities, a recently resurrected phenomenon on the U of W campus, discovered they could not get free access to SAC and school facilities because they were not ratified clubs. SAC bylaws precluded them from ratification because they were, by definition, not open to all students. Women were barred from frats, men were barred from sororities, and their pledging system closed them off to most except those that met unknown and mercurial criteria (owned x+1 Polo sweaters for starters). The debate turned ugly when the frats tried to argue SAC was bending the bylaws for groups like the Caribbean Students Association, the African Students Association, the Chinese Students Association, and the Womyn's Centre. The frats claimed (wrongly) these clubs denied access based on race and sex. The debate devolved into so much mud slinging, with everyone calling each other racists.


In the original version their demise was at the hands of Detroit gangsters (led by Isiah "Tommy Gun" Kishkon... a merging of the names of Pistons NBA star Isiah Thomas and Windsor's first (and only) female mayor Elizabeth Kishkon). In the published version, Terry had the "fun runners" eaten by ice fishermen. There was a germ of an idea there, as every year the US coast guard had to rescue Windsor ice fisherman who ignored weather warnings and went out on weak ice.


The Assumption College President Carling J Ackladder is a nod to a brand of Canadian beer called Carling Black Label and, of course, the Blackadder Britcom. The J came from the official name of the U of W's library, the Francis J. Leddy.



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