Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 19, No. 4, 2020
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
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.

For some time, New York and other cities have marked seven o'clock in the evening by letting loose from windows and doorways with blaring radios, banged skillets, whistles and bells to salute the doctors, nurses, EMT drivers and other hospital personnel risking their lives as first responders for dealing with pandemic patients. As assigned staff or as volunteers, and all working murderous overtime schedules, the medical people have been honoured by fellow citizens as heroes. In gaining that tribute through improvised street symphonies, the first responders have also given new life to the notion of a hero after years in which the concept had been diluted to encompass just about anyone who crossed a street safely.

In one form or another, heroes have been with us since Gilgamesh and Achilles. At their most virile, they have been military warriors who not only dispatched untold numbers of enemies but preened over their achievements to adoring followers.

Every culture spawned its heroic legend and, centuries later, the logo for some commercial product attesting to it. However crassly a legendary figure's exploits were eventually reduced to supermarket wares, there persisted the cognition that he or she had acquitted an extraordinary feat that, usually at the peril of death, brought more good than bad to people. The hero might not have always been of mythic stature, but his or her deed surpassed the merely laudable, let alone the expected.

United States heroes have always been a curious collection. Stick a microphone in front of somebody's mouth, and the name that will come out more than others is sure to be Abraham Lincoln (at least outside the South, where he is more likely compared to Lucifer). Whether history or Hollywood, Lincoln has lapped the field for decades, and while seldom imagined as getting out from behind his White House desk or debating lectern. As heroes go, he may be the world's most sedentary, entrusting his glow to the perfectly timed, pithy phrase.

But Abraham Lincoln as hero is also a reminder of how costly such an acknowledgment can be -- in his case ‘preserving the Union’ over tens of thousands of bodies, not to mention as a prelude to Jim Crow practices and racist attitudes that were still searing America in 2020. His inability to close the deal has hardly been an exception. Also in the nineteenth century, for instance, stories and ballads were all but copyrighted for future generations around the likes of Davey Crockett, Robert E. Lee and George Custer. As the resident expert on the topic presently in the White House would point out -- losers all.

No event produced more instant heroes than the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The trouble is, most of them were not heroes. The designation as such of the thousands of people killed in the assault, many forced to jump to their deaths from sky scraper heights, has been fodder for triumphantly patriotic speeches but, loathe as we appear to be to admit it in a fantasy macho world, the dead were victims and not heroes.

Equally, the first responders who slogged through the ruins of the towers for days, weeks, and even months in a quest for survivors do not fit the description of the classic hero who is fully conscious of a surrounding danger. Brave they surely were. But thanks to city and Federal powers that decided not to go into too much detail about the poisonous gasses circulating in downtown Manhattan, the majority of policemen, firemen and other excavators of the dead did not realize how much they were risking before they started falling a short time later from pulmonary diseases and various cancers. If most had truly heroic moments, it was when they had to deal with their fatal ailments while also tolerating municipal health officials and congressmen who refused to acknowledge that they might have developed their tumours trudging through the Twin Towers without masks or other necessary protection. That they had to carry on these fights while literally losing their breath, right up to their deaths against the bureaucracies defined heroism against the worst kind of sordidness.

The most inflated reputation for heroism to emerge from the Twin Towers carnage was that of Rudolph Giuliani, who as mayor was at best merely doing his job in the aftermath and at worst was anxious to make everyone forget that he had insisted against choral advice not to put the NYPD communications center in one of the first floors to be destroyed in the attack. Achilles had the Iliad, Giuliani was thereafter, as one critic noted, incapable of forming a sentence "without a noun, a verb, and 9/11."

The self-congratulatory has hardly been limited to America, and it has sometimes had help from premature readings of character. A conspicuous example was that of Aung San Suu Kyi, who finished at the top of international polls regularly as a paradigm of planetary heroism for long years of house arrest for opposing the military junta in Myanmar; she was even given the Nobel Peace Prize for her valour. But then she was released, took over the Burmese government, and continued to abet the military's genocide against the Rohingya people.

Of course, not even this kind of embarrassment will end the quest for heroes. Thor and his friends at the local multiplex tells us that. But maybe one of the most important distinctions marking the heroism of the medical people dealing with the pandemic is that they know from the start that -- more than some prearranged destiny -- victims are the enemy.



Email (optional)
Author or Title

Also by Donald Dewey:
The Relationships Conundrum
The Finger
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


Comedy Podcast with Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini
Bahamas Relief Fund
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
2016 Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 05-16st, (514) 844-2172
Lynda Renée: Chroniques Québécois - Blog
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
Photo by David Lieber:
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis