The International

Everyone knows BowlPortland has a large international footprint.  In the last month has visits from Brazil, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.  But one nation is dominating the international visit competition: our neighbors to the North, Canada. W e are after all the Official League of Fake Americans – and what are Canadians if not fake Americans?  Of course we’ve had visits from the Torontos, the Vancouvers and the Edmunstons, but the hotbed of interest is in a little town called Hope.  You may know it as the place where First Blood (Rambo) was filmed.  Prepare to have all your preconceived notions of Hope, British Columbia viciously shattered. 

We have a correspondent in Hope, now, and he writes with a passion and wisdom that would get you shot in the States.  There is a lot to his writing – so much so that I’ve given him his own page.  Below is the beginning of his article, and I encourage you to read the whole thing.  Grab a beverage, open your mind, and let him drop some knowledge on you, Canuck-style.  With no further ado, ladies and gentlemen…


“Don’t piss on my rug!”

-U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson to Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, April 1965, Camp David, Maryland, U.S.A.


The Canadian Prime Minister was housebroken, but how else could LBJ respond?  In a speech a few days earlier at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pearson had suggested that suspending the bombing campaign in North Vietnam might bring the communist leadership back to the bargaining table.  Pearson was apparently skilled in the “black arts” of diplomacy, having served as President of the U.N. General Assembly in 1952 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.  Nonetheless, it was shocking that a Canadian Prime Minister could be so un-American. 


What were the historical antecedents to Pearson’s outburst?  Was he avenging the scorn of Thomas Jefferson, who once said that capturing Canada was “a mere matter of marching”?  Was he rebuking the incendiary, anti-Canadian, cartographically esoteric 1844 Presidential campaign slogan of James K. Polk: “54°40′ or Fight”?  Or was his brazen commentary a symptom of an incurable cultural divergence over the rules of bowling, a fault that began to rift roughly 100 years ago today?


Ten-pin bowling is the sport of kings, enriching the lives of millions in that great democratic experiment Americans call America.  Residents of the New England states are familiar with the novel joys of Candlepin bowling, which also requires ten pins.  Why Ten-pin bowling has such an ambiguous and inappropriate name is one of the three most puzzling mysteries of modern English.  The other two (in no particular order) are: a) Why are some species of sloth called three-toed sloths when all sloths have in fact three toes, and b) Why is the Toronto hockey team called the Maple Leafs instead of the Maple Leaves?


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