Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 19, No. 3, 2020
  Current Issue  
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nick Catalano
Chris Barry
Don Dewey
Howard Richler
Gary Olson
Oslavi Linares
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
  Music Editors
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Jerry Prindle
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward





Donald Dewey has written some 40 books of fiction and nonfiction, as well as contributed scores of stories to magazines and other periodicals. He has also had some 30 plays staged in Europe and the United States. Dewey was editor of the ASME-award winning magazine Attenzione and was editorial director of the East-West Network, overseeing a dozen in-flight magazines and the PBS organ Dial. Don's latest book, Franchisement: The Alan Gibb Story, is now available.

In case you haven't noticed, there's been a movement afoot for some time to turn us all into cats. No, not those abominable furry things on the screen inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber and T.S. Eliot, but the orange Leo, white Snowy, and raven Satan we have at home clawing at the bedspread. Genuine cats, no singing, just kicking up a lot of dust from their litter boxes and jumping up on counters if they get impatient for their food. And as any pet owner can attest, ordering real cats to do something isn't always easy. Pointing a finger at a ball, a roach, or a mouse in the corner for the animal to go after it, for instance, produces only one reaction from Leo, Snowy, or Satan: staring at your finger.

As feline logic goes, this is beyond reproach. Cranial synapses are what they are for every species. Which is where the problem arises because humans are supposed to go after the ball, the roach, or the mouse. And yet with gloomy frequency of late we have been staring at the finger.

One obvious example is the case of whistle blowers. Under pressures of a perverse political kind, we are told to ignore some grimy situation exposed to the light in favor of ferreting out the identity of the reporter who dared shed the light. This can be reassuring on numerous levels: It slights the importance of the skullduggery that has been revealed, it identifies the revelation with the poisonously biased snooper, and it argues that we have enough things to worry about without feeling further defrauded, victimized, and angry. Do we really need the reminder that anger is good only for noise, threatening to make us go scampering under the couch?

Public opinion polls are another finger. Not only do they tell us who we are and what we believe, but, archiving wisdom from a five-minute robot call, project the same information about lovers, enemies, and those happy to be in neither category, whatever their age, ethnic group, or annual salary. There are no balls, roaches, or mice in public opinion polls because that would require not mere percentages but energy, effort, and calculation, and robot calls are not programmed for those things. The one and only necessity is previously manicured fingernails.

The biggest finger of all, of course, is the mass media. In its aim of investigation, instruction, and enlightenment, it pays full attention to what's going on around the woodwork. In an ideal predator world it should send us bounding over after the prey. Fortunately for a cat state of mind, though, there have been various obstacles enabling us to ignore such a focus on the message rather than on the messenger. Some of these impediments have been positive, for example when the Fox network informs its cave dwellers that a former real estate hustler choked Adolf Hitler to death thereby ending World War II. So too with "false news," the allegation vaunted by experts on one of those words but not the second one. There are occasions, in other words, when the messenger truly deserves attention over the media message, reminiscent of when King Kong insinuated that the Empire State Building's elevators didn't climb up to its radio tower fast enough to his taste. Some narcissistic displays just have to be acknowledged for what they are.

But those exceptions aside, the media has flexed its knuckle muscles more and more only for digital vanity. One cause is volume. The addition of the so-called social media atop newspapers, magazines, radio, television and other traditional exposition vehicles leaves few seconds in a given day when a festering sore isn't spotted in the body politic for communal appreciation.

Couple this with a corroding society in which a respect for law is confined to binge fantasies during a marathon of Dick Wolf productions, institutional inspectors-general are primarily tasked with measuring the lint in their belly buttons, and judges are regularly overturned by legal firebrands the likes of Clarence Thomas, and you can see why even the most outrageous scandals have minimal impact before being superseded by the yet more appalling.

We have also excused ourselves for our feline responses because of the language we have often used to back up all our pointing; it simply has not carried much conviction. We should have become aware of this many years ago when the loathsome proactive crept into the vernacular. Like 110 percent, it was a nonsense burp that reputedly intensified commitment to an idea or action but that actually made its user an ass for not understanding his own language since pro means only being in favor of something, not actually engaged in it. Maybe that's why the word has been particularly popular with politicians and corporations pledging to honor community needs. It is surely why our most appropriate reply when we hear it is meow.



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Also by Donald Dewey:
Smoke Blowers
Noticing Death
Passive Resistance
Not Playing It Safe
The Expectation Medium
Crisis in Critics
Words Not to Live By
Knowing the Killer
Racism to the Rescue
Punk Times
Not Playing It Safe
Meeting the Author
The Overwriting Syndrome
Writers As Ideas
Let Them Entertain Us
It's a Kindergarten Life
Being and Disconnectedness
History of Humour in the Cinema
Cartoon Power


Before becoming the world's most respected life, death, and everything in between coach, Alan Gibb shared that common frustration over the failure of astrology, numerology, and similar religions to direct all aspects of human behavior. They might have all been sacred systems for establishing a personal identity, but there was a rusty screw at their core. Even when the revolutionary tenets of Franchisement occurred to him, he knew they might remain stillborn without the attacks, arrests, and tragedies customarily accompanying an original vision. Happily for Gibb and the tens of thousands of his fellow believers, he was assaulted in physical, mental, and dietary ways and hauled in as a fraud, thug, and stalker even as he pressed forward on his crusade to share Franchisement with the hordes crying for it as a national pastime superior to baseball. More happily, the tragedies struck others, not him, enabling him to enjoy the millions Franchisement brought through the Internet, the telephone, and pay-on-demand cable. As he noted repeatedly, the delivery vehicle was unimportant as long as a customer thought he wanted what he was getting. "If you listen to people, the world is divided between the Yankees and the Red Sox," he liked to chuckle fondly. "Tell that to those with a crush on the Minnesota Twins. A vision that isn't comprehensive sees only its own nose."


"Granted there are many similar books too numerous to count, but this book is sui generis." --- Benjamin Acocella, S.J., President of the Council for Mental Observances.

"This book changed my life when it most needed changing." --- Sidney Willinger, Leisure Sciences Department, University of Indiana.

"Sometimes love is a 13-letter word." --- Jennifer Pryor, Harvard School of Theoretical Business.

"Gibb demonstrates how life is more than steak knives and storm windows." --- Joel Sternheim, Informercials Institute.

Trade Paperback - 6 x 9 x .7
150 Pages
FICTION / Humorous / General
FICTION / Satire
FICTION / Sports











Arts & Opinion, a bi-monthly, is archived in the Library and Archives Canada.
ISSN 1718-2034


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