Friday, June 11, 2021
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles by Kenneth Womack was published in 2019, on the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ final recorded album. Womack interviewed people who were at EMI Recording Studios where Abbey Road was recorded and gave a song-by-song recording history of the album. Alan Parsons, who at the age of twenty was the album’s assistant engineer, wrote the foreword and contributed to the story. What I did not know is that Parsons was in attendance for the Beatles’ Apple Records rooftop concert on January 30, 1969 and was pictured in the Get Back book that accompanied the Let It Be box set. Since I own this set I had to thumb through it to find him. Good thing Parsons described himself to the reader:
Friday, May 7, 2021
Walmart: Diary of an Associate by Hugo Meunier (translated by Mary Foster) was a brief (120 pages) account of the author’s infiltration into the Walmart workforce in Saint-Léonard, Quebec. On assignment from La Presse, Meunier worked for three months stocking the warehouses and replenishing shelves. I picked up this book because when I saw it I was expecting a revealing exposé full of corporate dirt and employee shenanigans yet the blurb on the back did not state this. It was simply a diary of Meunier’s experiences working for the billion-dollar American behemoth. And without any dirt or shenanigans, the day-to-day life of a Walmart employee can be a boring job and thus a boring read. Meunier’s superiors and coworkers were depicted as ordinary people who were, to use a well-known expression, “nothing to write home about”. The best chapter was about another Quebec Walmart, the one in Jonquière which corporate headquarters shut down after its employees voted to unionize. Walmart has an active strategy in place to kill any internal movements to unionize, and Meunier spoke to the Jonquière union organizers who recounted their failed efforts which cost them and their colleagues their jobs.
For such a short book I was alarmed by the number of spelling errors: cemetary, Georgia O’Keefe, Celcius, dispell, and connaisseur. There is no excuse for leaving these mistakes yet in the case of the proper nouns–you don’t have to translate those. Some of the phrases used the incorrect preposition and expressions were awkwardly translated, as seen here:
“Well then, my friend, you’ve seen nothing yet.”
No one says this in English. I would suggest “Well then, my friend, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Meunier’s experiences with his managers and customers did give me a few chuckles. Shortly before being hired, he had to listen to corporate pep talks and selling techniques. The moment of truth came over him when:
“Seated on my plastic chair, I wondered what bothered me the most. The totally stupid and infantilizing sales strategies or the certainty that they were effective.”
Each day he had to deal with annoying customers, sucking it up because the corporate slogan by Sam Walton stated that “There is only one boss. The customer.” Meunier had to be subservient, “But still, do they have to treat us like doormats?”
He filled the book with eye-rolling and ludicrous customer demands and complaints, and my favourite of the bunch was:
“‘Your slogan should be, “Walmart, out of everything,” fuck!’ he said, incensed. I must have been tired because I found this very funny.”
And so did I.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Friday, December 18, 2020
The Pelee Project: One Woman's Escape from Urban Madness is Jane Christmas's account of her three months spent on Pelee Island during the winter of 2000. Stressed out at work and by her daily commute to Toronto from Hamilton, Christmas was feeling the urgent need to get away from the rat race. After previous visits to Pelee Island, Christmas felt the call of the Lake Erie island as the perfect place to relax. Accompanied by her eight-year-old daughter Zoë, Christmas left her two sons and boyfriend behind and braved the winter on a virtually abandoned Pelee Island.