Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Canada figures in "Mike's Surprise"

It was called “Mike’s Surprise” and it’s an event for which tickets are quickly sold out at the Traverse City Film Festival. Mike being Michael Moore, the fest’s founder. Usually in "Mike’s Surprise" Moore reveals a set of films or information about a documentary he’s working on. But this past Saturday, at the fest’s seventh edition, he told another rapt audience that for “those expecting to see the next movie I’ll give you a few seconds to leave.” Instead what we were treated to was his new book, Here Comes Trouble. We were the first members of the public to hear about it and indeed, for the next two hours, hear him read excerpts from it.....The giveaway about his book might have been the big picture on the screen behind an easy chair and lamp where he was to read. The screen showed a picture of a very young Mike on his tricycle circa 1955 riding down the sidewalk of the main street of Davison, a suburb of his home town Flint, Michigan. When Moore came on to the stage the picture was overlaid with the book’s title, showing that in fact this is the new book’s cover. The book went to press last week.....This is Moore’s eighth book but the first to be one of short stories about incidents in his life going back to childhood. He read from four chapters......One of them had a lot about Canada in it. It was an hilarious recounting of an attempt by a few of his friends and himself to avoid the US military draft during the waning days of the Vietnam War by escaping to Canada as conscientious objectors. The foursome took a parent’s boat to the St. Clair River near Port Huron in an attempt to sail as “boat people” across it. But they discovered the boat didn’t have a motor. So Mike suggested they row across – “it’s only 200 feet of river!” The only problem: no oars. So the foursome retreated to White Castle for sliders, smoked a “king size” doobie, and decided to drive across the Blue Water Bridge. There they encountered a Canadian border official, “who looked like a Mountie but was not.” The official suggested they looked high on drugs. They replied, “We are not high sir we are just happy to be here in Canada.” The official suggested a cavity search, sardonically adding that that would be just what US Customs would do. The boys, alarmed, caught on to the joke, and realized they were just the butt of that Canadian “warped sense of humour.” Moore said he knew this humour well from watching Channel 9 in Windsor. “They needed that warped sense of humour to counter all those awful beaver and moose documentaries”.....In another story Moore read of being taken to Washington DC by his mom, a Republican, in the mid-1960s. He got lost in the Capitol building and ended up in an elevator with Senator Robert Kennedy. Kennedy took him in hand and waited with him, despite important senate business, until his mother found him. Moore and his mom then went on to watch the Senate pass the Medicare bill. “It was so cool to be a witness to that,” he said.

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