Kathryn Borel

The Bear Would Have Looked Like This

When I was 23, I was filling in as the summer reporter at CBC Radio in Quebec City. My assignment editor Peter came up to me on my lunch break and said, “There’s a brouhaha at the Sillery Public Library. The librarians are taking about 40 English titles off the shelf and replacing them with French titles.”

Quebec City has a small and fierce and snooty little English population. Most come from old money and many have not bothered to learn French beyond a Grade 4 level. Most wear scarves and drive around in fancy cars. Half have expansive summer properties in Quebec’s Eastern Townships or Vermont. The little CBC English station catered to these people, all of whom I really didn’t give a shit about. I especially didn’t give a shit about fewer than four-dozen titles being pulled from the public library’s shelves, as most of these people had enough money to go out to the English bookstore in the mall and just BUY the titles they wanted for $15. Or order them online from Amazon.

I looked up at the stained fibreglass ceiling panels and moaned, “But Peter who fucking caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaares?”

Peter only had one eyebrow, but if he’d had two he would have knit them.

“This is important community news, Kathryn,” he said.

I didn’t want to explain to him that I hated the community, because the community was made up of jerks, many whom I’d gone to high school with and who’d called me “hairy gorilla” in gym class when I’d refused to shave the downy blond hair off my legs when I was 13 and had arrived fresh off the boat from France, where our family had been living in a small village that had a house of inbreds who lived down the street from us (My nickname was replaced with “Moose” after my class photo was printed).

With a massive deal of annoyance, I wrote the piece, phoned some jerks for clips and filed it in time for the 4:30 local afternoon news. Minutes before it came on I made sure to leave the office so I didn’t have to hear my stupid report.

It was around then that I realized I hated human beings, and also the news.

No no. That’s not quite right. I actually love people, and can really get behind the way certain media outlets curate the news. But there is something upsetting and unimaginative in the editorial process of so many of these outlets — a process that submits more readily to the whims of the population, rather than relies on and trusts the training of the people who’ve (hopefully) developed a sense of story, honed their curiosity, have trained themselves to think in angles. The Shouts and Murmurs section of the New Yorker triumphs at this.

Fox does not.

Especially WJW Fox 8 Cleveland.

WJW Fox 8 Cleveland, “Bear in Backyard”

– Kathryn Borel

Ryeberg Curator Bio

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Kathryn Borel was born in 1979 in Toronto, the daughter of a hotelier. After several years, she became the older sister to Nico, who was named after the family cat. She spent her early years living in hotels in Paris, Bermuda, Dallas and New Jersey, finally settling in Quebec City. In 2002 she moved to Toronto to follow a man. The relationship ended. She lived in Toronto where she worked at the CBC for the national arts and culture program, Q. Now she lives in L.A. She has written food and wine reviews for radio and print. Her journalism includes a column which ran in the National Post under the title "Indignities." Her book, “Corked” was a finalist for the 2010 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by The National Post, Quill & Quire and Eye Weekly. More Kathryn Borel here.