Andrew Cash, The NDP, Political Correctness and the Correction of Politicians

*I felt it was time to revisit an old blog post from September of last year. Partly because it has been getting a large number of visits but also because the federal election in my country (Canada) is only days away. It’s important for everyone during any election to keep their wits about them and to avoid being taken in by a better haircut and some trendy eye glasses. Vote for character people, NOT image.   

Yesterday I was foraging in a Sterilite tub filled with family memorabilia, looking for some photos to attach to the names on my daughter’s family tree school project. As we all know, when you start digging, all sorts of long forgotten doodads pop up, things that give us pause to reflect and practice some good old fashioned introspection.  During the course of the hunt, my daughter discovered one of these nifty items, rife with the taint of the past, an old photograph of my sixth grade class, circa 1973.  She was quite impressed that I could recall the names of every kid, which wasn’t particularly remarkable, considering I’d spent five years with the same group, day in and day out, excluding summer vacation of course.  And you know how it is when you’re a kid, your brain is like a sponge that absorbs and saves a massive amount of information; retaining it for future reference.

Click image to enlarge

When I reached the kid in the third row from the top, fourth from the left, I had a very brittle and vivid memory of a certain day specifically.  It was one of those childhood events that cling, due in great part to the intense feelings they inspire in you at the time.  It was during seventh grade and I was standing in the hallway outside my class, waiting for my mother to finish her chat with my teacher.  This in itself was an anomaly, as my mother had never displayed the least bit of interest in my education or anything else regarding my existence for that matter.  I was both elated and horrified.  Elated by this new attention she was showing me and that I was starving for,  but also horrified that she may say something off colour or brash to my teacher that would take the rest of the year to live down.   In those days, the children went with their parents for these little academic visits from hell, and my worst fear was some sort of public humiliation that was sadly realized when my mother reappeared in the hallway, ready to go home.  This time though, I was blindsided because for a change, my mother was not the direct source of the ridicule, but rather her appearance was exploited to full effect by the child I mentioned earlier:  Mr. third row down fourth face from the left, Mr. Andrew Cash.  My mother had worn her very white, very shaggy, very fake fur coat, a garish slash of flame red lipstick, horn rimmed glasses studded with rhinestones in all the rainbow colours and to top off this outlandish outfit that just screamed trash of the highest order, she was carrying one of her ‘suitcase’ purses which was large enough to contain two small newborns and a bear cub.

I immediately noticed the look of disgust on Andrew Cash’s face  as Ma brushed past he and five other kids near the stairwell.  My neck prickled with anxiety in preparation for the slam coming my way. When my mother was out of earshot he stopped me and asked “Is that your grandmother or your mother?” His “I’m better than you” sneer made me feel as bad as he was hoping. Naturally, I turned scarlet with shame, and as an added bonus he called me the one name every kid living in my welfare housing neighborhood hated, he called me a Willy. Willy was a derogatory name coined by the middle class kids to differentiate us from them and thus put us in our places. It meant everything vile, dirty, bad, and ugly connected to being poor and living in a project.

Suffice to say, Mr. Cash didn’t live in a housing project, as he was middle class and acceptable in every way. He was an altar boy, active in school plays and filled to the brim with the knowledge that he had enough food to eat, clean fashionable clothes to wear and educational opportunities, such as a tuition based Catholic high school,  unavailable to those of us not as fortunate.  In fact, this wasn’t the first time he’d called me this nor would it be the last.  I descended the steps in search of my mother, mortified at the volley of cackles behind me, but secure in the knowledge that I was somehow defective because of where I lived and what I lacked.  When I got home I cried.  All kids would. Okay, lets flash forward shall we?

Now, you may be asking, what does this pity party of Val’s, taken directly from the annals of her woebegone childhood, possibly have to do with Politicians?  Well, actually it has everything  to do with politics,  as well as a few other pertinent matters. You see,  Mr. Andrew Cash grew up to become a rather famous pop star who at one time was signed to Island Records, the original label that signed U2 no less!  Not only does he have the distinction of  having been in such illustrious artistic and famous company professionally, but due to his connection to Island records he was one of the acts to play in “A Concert for Berlin” three days after the fall of the Berlin wall. Hell, he has even won a Juno for his solo album work.  In addition, he has become known as a sort of social commentator in print, as a journalist in both Catholic publications and secular, espousing his big wide open love-the-underdog ideology.  In fact, he has uttered so many virtuous sentiments for the poor and downtrodden of society, it is hard to believe I ever knew him at all, he is that unrecognizable.  Currently, I have discovered,  he has had still another metamorphosis, this time as a political candidate in Toronto.  He is campaigning to become an MP for the NDP party, which is the big time babies, the federal government. Yes, that’s right, big time politics and power.   His platform is quite eyebrow raising for me, one of the five poor ghetto kids who attended the above mentioned Catholic school with Mr. Cash.   How about we let you take a gander for yourselves, it will save us all time and you get to see his mug now that he’s had a complete makeover, most likely courtesy of a public relations spinner.

Andrew Cash BEFORE image makeover for election click to enlarge
Andrew Cash AFTER image makeover for election click to enlarge

Note the “Affordable Housing”  and the “Urban Workers” on this promotional poster? Why yes my dear scribes, I too was aghast.  but what truly irked me and was a serious crust on the pie of decency,  was his cavalier tossing around of phrases like this: marginalized, single moms, young families who can’t afford daycare, no employment benefits etc.  Yes, it would appear he has had a change of not only heart, but personality too. Hmmm… or has he? Update: Mr. Cash has taken his original campaign poster and altered it, as is shown below. Now it says nothing about marginalized single moms or affordable housing. Apparently diesel trains are more important to him now. It would seem that Mr. Cash doesn’t deem women and children living in poverty a worthy cause to take to Ottawa with him. Nothing like a good internet cleansing and a flip flop on the issues to get a guy elected.

I find it morbidly fascinating that the people we elect, the people to whom we give our dollars and sense, (yes that misspelling was intentional) are nothing more than flimflam men and women who dabble in a number of narcissist friendly professions,  before they at last decide to take the fast track to our wallets by selling us fraudulent personas in return for an X on a ballot.  We make mythic saviors of human beings who offer us nothing more than doctored reputations and glib tongues (Obama is a perfect case in point).  Our obsession with the cult of personality over substance still astonishes and sickens this mother, feminist and advocate for victims of violence and poverty.   It should sicken everyone enough to initiate an overhaul of not only our governing bodies on this planet but also the flaw that breeds in the darkness of our collective and willing ignorance.  We have a social and economic crisis on this planet such as we’ve never seen before and unless we solve it from the bottom up, one person at a time, we are heading for serious destruction.

Campaign Poster for Andrew Cash, click to enlarge

This is the point I was getting to all the way back there at the beginning.  My discovery of this one class photo, reminded me to remind my daughter that it isn’t what people say that is the dynamic of their soul, it’s what they do and are. I know I still possess the same morals and sensibilities I had at thirteen, just a few more dings, but the same kid who survived project living.  I suspect that Mr. Cash is no different either, and I’ll wager he still doesn’t have any friends in the ghetto. Hopefully he never will, at least not politically in the form of a vote.  Although I do strongly encourage him to visit the Crips in my old neighborhood, Bay Mills, AKA Da Milz and get familiar with want and pain.  However, I won’t hold my ghetto breath, because that place is full of Willies and I painfully recall how Andrew Cash feels about them/us, Politics be damned.

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Author: valo

I am a poet, writer and activist with a special interest in human rights for children and women as well as the elimination of poverty worldwide. If you read this today, feed someone locally for me will you? Drop off a non perishable food item at the food bank nearest you and consider yourself hugged. Thank you!

12 thoughts on “Andrew Cash, The NDP, Political Correctness and the Correction of Politicians”

  1. Hey Val

    Great Post! I have always hesitated to talk about my past struggles. In part because at least here in the States we have built a billion dollar empire around creating a simulacrum of reality. The last thing anyone wants to hear is the truth about how life can be for some people.

    One thing I can say for certain is that outward appearances mean next to nothing. There is a big difference between someone who is really sincere and one who appears sincere. I have absolutely no faith or hope in politicians. I know this sounds quite cynical, but I seriously doubt that one man or women who depends on contributions and making certain sectors of the population happy can really speak to what is right. To me a politician is a puppet, someone put there to help this fake life we are living more palatable.

    I really feel ya on this post!!! I just had to say something

    Dave

    1. Hi Dave 🙂 Thank you, both for your integrity and your insight. I think cynicism is actually the skepticism of the wise. Politicians are parasites. They have always been parasites but it is the way we function and as you said so eloquently: To me a politician is a puppet, someone put there to help this fake life we are living more palatable. Perhaps one day we will have created a spiritual state that will eliminate the need for these people to create a veneer that makes it tolerable. I doubt it will be in my lifetime but eventually it will happen.

  2. You said it. Give me character that rises from the humility of slipping into cracks and finding a way out again. As for shining – I am easily dazzled and don’t like the feeling of being blind. I crave dark, intimate places where people are unafraid of undressing.

    1. Indeed scribbla, that is the ideal. The farce in all this is that we all know they are lying, they know we know they are lying and yet we carry on pretending it’s all real. Shakespeare could have written this…oh yeah, he did, about four hundred years ago. We may not be dragging the old knuckles on the ground anymore but we sure as hell aren’t moving along at a very good clip either it would appear.

  3. It’s quite simple, I believe. The less sincere he is (and others are), the longer they will last in politics. Yes, quite simple, actually. Unfortuately we have been brainwashed into thinking that an ideal image will give us an ideal leader. Bwahahahahaha!!!!
    Anyway, great post. I came from the wrong side of the tracks and am proud of it.

    1. From my wrong sided tracks to your wrong sided tracks scribbla, thank you. 🙂 Gee, I guess they were wrong about kids like us eh? lol At least people are real where we grew up and quite frankly I can’t comprehend what it would be like to live an entire life filled with bullshit, shining people on day after day.

  4. Hi all, I just thought I would weigh in here because I’ve known Andrew a little bit since his days as the singer in a band called L’Etranger – not well, by any means, but a little bit. My impression of him then was that I had never met a more sincere. impassioned voice for the underdog. He was a young guy in his 20’s in a band that was committed to social justice and the disenfranchised. All it got him then was the loyalty of a small core of dedicated fans and whatever people paid at the door. I guarantee you that the message he, Chuck, and Peter were delivering wasn’t always a popular one and they sure weren’t doing it for the money and the fame
    I don’t think there are many of us who would want to have to stand behind everything we did or said as 12, 13 or 14 year olds – I suspect most of us have been cruel at other people’s expense. What I am sure of is that you have not identified the tip of a very large iceberg – Andrew and his band were an inspiration to me, in the music they played, the message they delivered and the way they lived their lives. My guess is that Andrew would be pained to know that he had caused you that kind of hurt.
    Pay him a visit, have a chat with the man the boy became – I suspect you would come away feeling a little bit different.

    Jeff Houlahan

    1. Hi Jeff, welcome to my blog and thank you for reading my post and taking the time to comment. I always appreciate intelligent dialogue related to any subject matter I explore here. That being said, I did read your remarks several times thoughtfully and I do respect your point of view but I’m sitting on the opposite side of the room regarding the spirit and purpose of my post. Let me explain. I lived in a housing project in Scarborough that was directly across from the Catholic school he and I both attended. My clothes were rags and many times I came to school hungry and exhausted as was evidenced by my clearly undernourished frame. In all that time I can never recall a kind word from Mr. Cash. Our only contact was negative and demeaning. I also recall that Mr. Cash was very much a showman even then, requiring the attention of his peers so it is no surprise he ventured into show business later on as it would fill this ego need that was clearly evident in childhood. I’m pleased that Mr. Cash’s music/message have meaning for you but it is important to realize that show business is a business that sells an image that is hollow and conjured by PR people designed to sell a product. In this case the product was L’etranger and later Mr.Cash himself. As we all know, products are consumed and are not meant to have substance as they are fleeting desires met in a capitalistic society. This is naturally leading to the next incarnation or product branding of Mr. Cash in the ultimate show business venture: Politics. The cynic in me could deduce that the looming federal election may have something to do with your comment. I do admire your passion for Mr. Cash and all you think he represents but I would suggest that you already espouse these beliefs and are not really in need of a past his due date rock star who is attempting to parlay whatever presence and fan base he had into a position in our government.

      As for Mr. Cash being pained for having caused me hurt, my post was not actually about that. It was about the people we elect creating fake personas that manipulate public perception much like the sleight of hand tricks done by magicians. This was simply an example from my life of just such an individual and why we should pay closer attention to the type of people we support with our votes and tax dollars. If Mr. Cash wanted to he could have emailed me himself but he hasn’t. He won’t. Why? Because the last thing he wants to do is engage anyone in dialogue like this when he is putting his energy into blue skying large groups of people. It’s called spin and I hear they have doctors for that. 😉 I do have one suggestion for Mr. Cash: Get in your car Andrew and drive to Scarborough. Stop your car when you reach Bay Mills Boulevard. Get out of your car and walk through ‘da milz’ project and take a good look around you, then instead of apologizing to me, choose one of those children and ensure they get an education and a better life. That would mean everything to me as a woman, a mother, a feminist, a human being and of course, a former inhabitant of that hell hole known as the project.

    1. Hey ashley, it’s wonderful to have you popping in! I don’t think many of us truly change, and in this situation, Andrew Cash’s choice of social interests combined with the absence of any mention of his experience attending school with children from an impoverished background in a social housing, is proof he has retained the same character. If he had changed, he would have pulled that little nugget out of his past faster than the speed of light to give more credibility to his words. The fact is, he has never mentioned and will never mention Bay Mills Housing Project, because he wants to hide how he really is and talking about it would bring people like me out of the woodwork. I’m sure, as far as his life is concerned, my issue with his behavior is the tip of a very large iceberg of things of which he isn’t proud.

  5. If image and cash are the touchstones to success then we are already dead…
    Oh wait, Im suppose to be happy…

    Opps, just another dream

    Peace

    1. no doubt about it B, I know I have a serious cash and image deficit so that means I’m screwed. This could explain so much about my life though :0 Yep B, just another dream 😦 Peace back at ya my friend.

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