SEE Magazine
Issue #374: February 01, 2001
Copyright © 2001. All Rights Reserved


At least I’ll have the chance to spend / this fucking ten / this irksome bill.

– A man called Clooch, outside 7-Eleven, Jan. 26, 2001

Shakespearean monologues aren’t what you normally hear outside 7-Elevens – more’s the pity, huh? – but there’s something about the new $10 bills that just inspires the higher cultural instincts. But whether you hate them or couldn’t care less, the brand spankin’ bills are here to stay.

And after we get used to the new tenner’s tepid commemoration of the controversial concept of "Peace," what then? What will future bills’ hodgepodge jumble of images celebrate, you wonder? Oh, my brother Canadian, is this ever your goddamn lucky day. Join us now as we sneak inside the mint to take a peek at the upcoming five-spot.

The five’s theme of "Our Canadian Entertainers" is immediately, eloquently, expressed on the front of the bill, which features a specially-commissioned portrait of Al Waxman, sporting his trademark Everyman grin, framed against a background etching of Toronto’s bustling Kensington Market area. God Save the King, indeed.

The bill’s backside is where things really start getting heavy. Front and centre, where the beloved New Ten sports a Tilley-hatted lady soldier gazing off binocularly at whatever’s happening next hill over, the five features Tommy "Canada’s Country Gentleman" Hunter and his faithful hound The Littlest Hobo. Above the two hangs the stirring motto "Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down / Je me souviens," from which flies a flock of majestic osprey – the bird whose absence from the NovaTen was keenly felt by several.

In the "inspirational corner" filled on the ten by In Flanders Fields, is an excerpt from Kim Mitchell’s bleak yet strangely hopeful Go For a Soda, hand-transcribed off the radio as best as could be made out by a guy with a totally awesome car stereo: "Might as well go for a soda / nobody’s hurt / nobody died".

In place of the ten’s poppy blossoms is an arrangement of some of Mitchell’s favourite neon-coloured ballcaps, specially selected by the Wild Party himself. Quite frankly, some folks were puzzled by that weird giant archway/door thing on the ten. On the fiver, that marble (granite?) enigma is replaced by an even more vexing puzzle: the Stairway of Mystery which leads to arch villain Infinata’s shadowy realm of Dementia Five, as seen on Spider-Man and Rocket Robin Hood. Climbing up the Stairway to the Threshold of Reality are funny-man Alan Thicke, pop sensation Luba, and everyone’s favourite warbling sparrow, Rita McNeil.

Careful examination of the bill under magnification reveals a charming detail: the stairs Rita has passed show a realistic buckling and splintering of the treads. It’s little touches like this that give one a warm feeling, a tingle of excitement; the Government really does love us, really does take the time to deliver a quality product to us, the Clients, really is committed to only the finest of monetary propaganda.

And you can take that to the bank.

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