Category Archives: Letter from the Editor Fall ’10

The Last Letter From Sam

Salutations populace of Dawson,

The big news in the world this week is WikiLeaks. Most people I know think the founder of this website, Julian Assange, is a hero for bringing the dark secrets of world governments to light. Others, mostly those who were embarrassed by the memos, think he is a traitor for exposing sensitive diplomatic exchanges; some have even called for his assassination. I will leave that argument to others. The m­orale of that story is that if you don’t want to be embarrassed, don’t write nasty stories about someone behind their backs.

This is why I have always loved the Plant. When I have something nasty to say about someone, I put it in my headlines. I have personally insulted many budding Dawson actors in my theatre reviews; I have crucified so-called art exhibits in my articles; I have assassinated characters (but only metaphorically). And, in turn, I have also been assassinated, (also, thankfully, metaphorically) for doing so. This honesty and transparency is what makes our Dawson society so strong. Let’s hope we never return to a grade school culture of gossip in the washroom, or like so many US “diplomats” exposed in the WikiLeaks’ memos.

This is my last letter as Editor-in-Chief. I guess many people would take the opportunity to write a letter parting their ways with Dawson and the Plant; somewhat of a tearful farewell. It would thank everyone for all the great memories and hours spent sharing a beer or collaborating on a team project. It would make light of stressing out on exams or working after midnight on Plant issues.

However, I don’t see this as a goodbye. We both knew from the start what our relationship was going to be: quick and easy. Maybe we both got attached to each other but, sadly, most relationships don’t last forever. What more is there to say? On that note, I leave you with one more memory of mine from Dawson.

On that, I will say big up to all the great memories and people that crossed my path while at Dawson: All the good teachers, the cool classmates, the PARC staff and last but not least, the Plant club space…

Stay classy, Dawson…Word to your mothers!
Samuel Lavigne Schmidt
Editor-in-Chief
Schmidt.Samuel90@gmail.com

P.S. Shout out to Anna Frey the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief. You’re cool…I guess.

Letter from the Editor

Salutations populace of Dawson,

The Plant is a mysterious place. I, like many others before me, joined the Plant to take advantage of a double credit course. I had no high expectations. For me, this was going to be a class like all the others, but where I would get extra credits.
Was I mistaken in my expectations! Once you join the class, whether you’re into journalism or not, you will be sucked into the madness of what we call the Plant.

I’m not saying it’s like a cult, but…. Yes, you will work unbelievably long hours. Yes, you will cover all types of situations (some fascinating, some not) that you would never otherwise encounter in a million years. Yes, you will be forced to overcome whatever level of shyness you have to interview strangers (some very nice, some not so much). However, all the shenanigans that occur during the semester compensate for the long hours of hard work and anxiety in meeting the publishing deadline. As one of my last letters from the editor, I want to share an anecdote from our daily lives at the Plant, and to encourage you to consider a semester as a Plant reporter.

When I was Voices editor last semester, my co-editors and I would often get bored of working, or more honestly, we would look for ways to procrastinate. We invented competitions to amuse ourselves. One contest that really sticks in my mind is the “no laughing” contest. This contest was by far the most fun, but the hardest thing to do in my Dawson career – harder than any exam or term paper. The objective of the game was to make the other person laugh; if someone laughed they were out. With all the stupidities that go on in our office, it’s pretty hard not to laugh at the best of times. The last person standing was allowed to prank the losing players. Don’t forget, these types of events were all happening during times when we were supposed to be working. Oh! To be young and unmotivated! This competition was just one of the many great memories I will take with me from the Plant.

Joining the Plant was, in my eyes, the best decision I’ve taken in my Dawson career. You meet so many cool and weird people; you discover art galleries in Montreal; you get to experience our local sports and theatre; you listen to new music; and, let’s not forget about all the free swag…. Of course, for every great thing, there’s usually a downside. You will meet some liars and untrustworthy people, or just people you don’t get along with. It is a lot of work: the number of hours you spend writing articles is far greater than for the essays you will write for a typical English class. But, and I promise you this, once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave. Just look at me: after a semester as a reporter and a semester as an editor, I am now volunteering my time for no credit because I love it so much.
Join the Plant. You won’t regret it.
Stay classy Dawson…Word to your mothers!

Samuel Lavigne Schmidt
Editor-in-Chief
Schmidt.Samuel90@gmail.com

Letter from the Editor

Salutations Populace of Dawson,

Friendship. How do you know you have it? How do you how when you’ve lost it? How does one define friendship? Does everyone have a different idea of what friendship is? Or is there a general consensus?

If I were to define friendship, I would take Cicero’s definition of the term, “in order to have a true friendship with someone one must have complete honesty, truth, and trust. Also, friends do things for each other without expectation of repayment. If a friend is about to do something wrong, one should not compromise one’s morals.” Now, if you were to look among your Facebook friends, how many people could you actually call a friend?

The reason I am discussing friendship with you this week is because I encountered an old high school friend. By that, I mean we had a friendship as Cicero would define the term; he wasn’t just some guy in my year. However, after high school we attended different CEGEPs and we grew apart which, sadly, happens in life. Recently, I ran into this old friend of mine and it was as if we had just seen each other yesterday.

We were joking around like the old days until I asked him what was new in his life. That’s when he told me he was going to Afghanistan to fight (he’s a reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces). That’s when I started to wonder, is this person still my friend? Or, has he drifted off into the “acquaintances” column?

I don’t say that just because he’s going to war, but more to the fact that I haven’t seen him or spoken to him in well over a year. I don’t know what his new interests are, if his hobbies have changed, what he now likes and dislikes. So, how can I call this person my friend?

On the other hand, I ask myself, how do other people define friendship? If I meet you once and we hit if off, can we be friends? Do friends at first sight exist? Or, does a true friendship have to develop over time, to give it the opportunity to prove itself? Are close friends of friends considered friends, even though I may only see them occasionally on a Saturday night? I can’t answer these questions and I now believe that friendships are much more complicated than sexual and romantic relationships.

So, is my old high school friend still a real friend (as Cicero would have it)? If I meet him after he returns from Afghanistan, will we still joke around together? Will we be honest with each other on what we think of war and politics? Or, am I, are we, destined to pick up and discard friends like the newest, trendy running shoes? I don’t have an answer for you this week.

Stay Classy Dawson…Word to your mothers!

Samuel Lavigne Schmidt
Editor-in-Chief
Schmidt.Samuel90@gmail­­­­.com

Letter from the Editor

Salutations populace of Dawson,

I don’t mean to criticize, so I won’t. I’ll only say good things because, as my mother once told me, “If you can’t say anything good, then don’t say anything at all.” That was one of the few times I heard my mother talk. She is a very quiet woman. The other advice I have been given, whenever I have to say something negative, is to tack on something positive. For example, if I need to say, “Oh my God, a wasp just stung me in the ear and it’s swelling up to the size of a rutabaga!” I always add, “but my life is so blessed.” This is to remind me that no matter what horrible thing is currently happening, the rest of my life is still basically pretty good.

If I ever hear someone saying this sort of garbage in front of my face I will seriously bust a cap in someone’s ass. Whoever sees life in this way needs a serious wake-up call. This past weekend, I was walking home from work; actually that’s a lie, I was going to a bar after work. At this point in time it’s about midnight and I’m in a rather dark and empty part of town; I notice six visible minority youths behind me. Yes, this might sound racist, but it’s the truth.

I notice they are getting a little riled up. By this I mean that they are screaming in the street and making lots of noise. I obviously ignore them because I don’t really care, to be honest, that they are being disrespectful. However, once they started getting bored teasing each other, they moved their verbal attacks onto me. This is when I started paying more attention to my surroundings. They were getting quite rambunctious. As they slurred out insult after insult, they were also getting closer and closer to me, until finally all six of them were surrounding me. I’m not going to lie, but at this time all I could think about is how I am about to get mugged and wondering how much it will hurt. Let me tell you, I was not trying to see the positive of this situation. So, as I am lost in my thoughts, my six new friends start pushing me around like a kin ball.

Finally, one of them sucker punches me in the temple when I am not looking. Getting punched in the side of your head hurts like a bitch, let me tell you. Naturally, following the blow to the head I clench my hand to my face, and the guy who struck me asks, in a rather rude manner I might add, for my wallet.  Of course, my first reaction is to comply with his demand. But, as I am reaching for my wallet the “what if” voice pops into my head; the same voice that makes people do all kinds of stupidities. Like, what if I tried to catch a bullet with my teeth? What if I could jump over a moving car? What if I can get away from these six thugs? Obviously being the genius I am, I listened to my “what if” voice. So, I fake getting my wallet from my pocket but, instead, I reach back with all my might and I smash my fist into the face of the same guy who stroked me. Just as my hand touched his face, I started running. This was the fastest I’ve ever ran in my whole life. I told myself, “Sam, do not turn around; it will only slow you down.” So I ran, ran, and ran some more. I could hear them chasing me, screaming after me. But I just kept running. I ran about 20 blocks until I was sure no one was chasing me anymore.

The experience as a whole was extremely frightening, yet exhilarating at the same time. To anyone who thinks that finding the good in everything I say, go chill in Little Burgundy at 1 in the morning. I am pretty positive you will have something negative to say.
Stay classy Dawson…Word to your mothers!

Samuel Lavigne Schmidt
Editor-in-Chief
Schmidt.Samuel90@gmail.com

Letter from the Editor

Salutations populace of Dawson,

Death. What can I say? It’s a bitch. This week I was already planning on writing to you about death. What a sad coincidence that three young men, our peers, would meet their deaths on the train tracks this last weekend, making this letter all the more apt.

Death. We all know what it is but maybe not everyone has experienced someone they are close to pass away. Let me tell you, it is a very traumatic experience. A year ago, on Nov. 2, someone I was very close to passed away. Actually, I had the fortunate opportunity to be with him and had the chance to say my goodbyes as he walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Seeing someone take their last breath and watching the heart monitor slowly go down until it hits zero is heart stopping to say the least.

What happened to those three boys was extremely sad; even more so for their friends and family. On the positive side, you could say that they died doing something they loved. To quote Charles Baudelaire:

“Always be drunk. That is all: it is the question. You want to stop time crushing your shoulders, bending you double, so get drunk – militantly. How? Use wine, poetry, or virtue, use …your imagination. Just get drunk.”

What did Baudelaire mean by this? He did not literally mean get drunk all the time but, in fact, that people should indulge in the things they love. Maybe for some it is actually getting drunk, for others it’s creating graffiti.

As I get older, I can’t help but wonder if the society we live in is a good one? Are people truly happy? Or, do people just coast through and keep a low profile, waiting for their death? I can’t help but ponder what would be a better choice? Following Baudelaire’s advice, indulging the most I can in what I love the most, maybe even dying in the process? Or is it better to play it safe, even if it leaves me somewhat unfulfilled and unhappy, holding back on life and its wonders.

I know for a fact that any respectable adult would tell me, why not have a mix of the two? To that I say, can you really go back to a life of restraint and responsibility after leading a life of indulgence and no responsibility. This topic is one that makes me scratch my head everyday. Should I quit school and walk the Earth, witnessing where many men and women have been before me? Or should I tough it out, make a million and own a company, all by the age of 28?

For my parting words, I will say this: Love. Love the people around you, tell them, tell others that you love them. Tell your mailman who you love; because, sooner or later, they will not be there anymore.

Stay classy Dawson…Word to your mothers!

Samuel Lavigne Schmidt
Editor-in-Chief
Schmidt.Samuel90@gmail.com

Letter from the Editor

Salutations Populace of Dawson,
Last week I wrote that we must always look for the good, even when we are surrounded by the bad. This week, I present the flip side of that message. But first, let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time (all good stories begin with that line) there was a strange and creepy guy who broke into his neighbours’ houses, stole women’s lingerie, took it home, and then photographed himself wearing the underwear.

Pretty weird, but also a bit funny, no? Didn’t you laugh when you read that? Well, soon, that routine didn’t thrill this guy enough, so he upped his game: He broke in when young women were alone, tied them up, took pictures of them, stole their underwear, and, well you know how he liked to finish his evenings. Not so funny anymore! And, you guessed it, even that wasn’t enough after a while, so he upped his game again: Broke in, raped the woman, took pictures, etc. Final step: Broke in, raped the woman, took pictures, murdered the woman, stole the underwear, not forgetting to photograph himself when he got home. He murdered twice before he was caught. Try to get a mental picture of this creep in your mind. OK? Before I continue, here’s another contrasting story. . .

Once upon a time, there was an intelligent young man who obtained a degree in Economics and Political Science from the prestigious University of Toronto. He chose a career in the Canadian Military as a pilot. He impressed the people around him and soon he rose quickly through the ranks. By working hard, he soon reached the rank of colonel at a relatively young age. He spent time in Afghanistan, and was promoted to Base Commander at Trenton Air Base in Ontario, one of the largest and busiest bases in the country.

He was admired and respected by all who met him, including senior politicians. His was a real success story, and it was clear there was still room for him to grow – a general’s rank? maybe even becoming a politician who could bring real change? Can’t you just picture this man: A tall, trim, rugged soldier, standing at attention, on guard for thee, with strong jaw and steady gaze. Just the kind of guy you could trust with your life, no?

So, what’s the link between these two stories? Am I just painting a picture in contrasts: creepy, sexually deviant serial killer versus trusted war hero? Yes I am. These two characters couldn’t be more different. However, the shocking truth is that these two characters are the same person: last week, Colonel Russell Williams was sentenced to two life sentences without the chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of Jessica Lloyd, aged 27, and Corporal Marie-France Comeau, aged 38. Check out his pictures on the CBC website. Do they fit both of your mental images?

The moral of this week’s letter – First, don’t be deceived by appearances. It’s NOT a person’s looks (good or ugly), their intelligence (or lack of), their personality (sparkling or dull), their clothes (trendy or nightmare), or their position in society (high or low) that is important – it’s their character. Second, don’t automatically give someone your trust just because they occupy an important position (editors in chief are an exception to this rule) or because they wear a uniform or other fancy dress. Look beyond the superficial when it comes to people and don’t make assumptions, either way. Not all Catholic priests are pedophiles (but many are); not all colonels in the Canadian Forces are sexually deviant serial killers (but at least one is). And last week’s message still holds – always look for the good, even when surrounded by bad.

Stay classy Dawson…Word to your mothers

Samuel Lavigne Schmidt
Editor-in-Chief
Schmidt.Samuel90@gmail.com

Letter from the Editor

Salutations Populace of Dawson,
After a two week hiatus we are back and ready to delight you with our awesome newspaper. These last few weeks have been hectic to say the least: Thanksgiving, midterms, and, oh yeah, 33 Chilean miners escaping dramatically from their underground tomb after 69 days of hell. Yes, I know in the last weeks there has been lots of coverage on this subject and some of you may be tired of hearing about it. Some of you, like my peer Anna Frey (Canadian University Press), believe that we are giving these 33 individuals way too much attention for just coming out of a hole in the ground. She and others believe that there are more important issues that require our attention, such as global poverty, which affect more people than just a few obscure miners and their families. While I can agree with Anna that poverty is a more important issue, I must respectfully disagree with her point of view that this story has been overblown. It is this type of story that brings the people of the world together. Was it not part of the conversation around your family’s table at Thanksgiving? It certainly was at mine, displacing the usual boring fights about politics and the economy.

Whenever I get gloomy about the state of the world I think about stories like this. It is true that we live in a world of hatred, greed, and oppression, with murder and corruption everywhere, even here at home in Montreal. It makes me realize that, despite the depressing state of the world, love, solidarity, and camaraderie are also everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly newsworthy, but it’s always there – within and between families, friends, communities, and just random people that you run into in life. And with this case in Chile, it was newsworthy. When the mineshaft collapsed and the miners were not sure if they would make it out, as far as I know, none of the messages were of hate or revenge? No. They were all messages of love. So, when some people believe that these types of stories do not deserve to be covered because of the situation in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Palestine, and many other places far and near; well, sometimes we need to see beyond, even for a brief moment, the cruelty and poverty in this world.

Sometimes we need to just sit back and watch the people of the world coming together and witness the wonder of life; a wonder that can only be accomplished by the inner strength of ordinary people. So, for that, I tip my hat to you World. And I tip my hat to the families and friends (and let’s not forget the mistress) of the 33 brave Chilean Miners who survived underground for 69 days, never knowing if they would escape their living hell, but supporting each other and keeping hope alive for themselves, and for us.
Stay classy Dawson..Word to your mothers!

Samuel Lavigne Schmidt
Editor-in-Chief
Schmidt.Samuel90@gmail.com