Canada's new national anthem debuts in San Francisco [VIDEO]
If political cartooning is dead – which some newspaper chains and their advertising clientele would love you to believe – it was displaying a sprightly corpse at San Francisco’s Satire Fest for a week earlier this month.
Built around the U.S. editorial cartoonists’ annual convention, host Mark Fiore -- best known hereabouts for Tar Sands Timmy -- brought in artists from Cuba, India, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and even Nevada.
There were cartoon journalists like Susie Cagle, Stephanie McMillan and Dan Archer, caricaturist extraordinaires like Melbourne’s David Rowe and The Economist’s Kal, and expat dissident cartoonists like Iran’s Nik Kowsar and Malaysia’s Zunar.
The presentations were held at the Marines Memorial Theater in a large old building that the Marines own and run near San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Which means -- with the cartoonists Laz, Falco and Adan from Havana on stage – it was historically and officially the first time Cuba has invaded the U.S. Marines.
The gathering also marked the first time women cartoonists – India’s Kanika Mishra and Palestine’s Majda Shaheen – won the Cartoonists Rights Network’s Courage in Cartooning award for daring to publish biting editorial cartoons for which their lives were threatened.
There were a few Canadians in the mix. The Montreal Gazette’s Terry Mosher, aka Aislin, presented an overview of cartooning in Canada. Le Droit’s Guy Badeaux, aka Bado, spoke of Quebec’s role in keeping the editorial-cartoon racket vital in the country.
I decided what I’d do in San Francisco is unveil a new Canadian national anthem.
In Switzerland right now they’re having a competition to come up with a new Swiss national anthem. They’ve decided their old anthem is too stodgy, so they’re having a contest, like America’s Got Talent, only for anthems. Switzerland’s Got Anthems.
They’ve asked all Swiss ditty writers to send in their songs, they’ve got a passel of judges to pour over the entries, and a year from now Switzerland will roll out its new anthem.
It makes sense. Countries can change, and when they change they can outgrow their national anthems.
Canada’s a good example of this. Fifty years ago, Canada was opening its arms to war resisters and draft dodgers. Thirty years ago, Canada was at the forefront of the battle against acid rain.
But today’s Canada is a whole different place.
So I told the audience at the Marines Memorial Theater that when we heard we were headed to the Satire Fest, Terry and Guy and myself decided to commission a new anthem for Canada.
And – in keeping with the spirit of the New Canada – we’d outsourced the job. We found an anthem-writing factory in Indonesia that works cheap but still does quality anthems. In fact, it's the most talented factory full of five-year-old George and Ira Gershwins I’ve ever come across.
And then I presented this, Canada’s new, more appropriate national anthem.