Vapour Trails references


"...Titillations been replaced by Interstate brickface and Coffee Mate."

Brickface is a construction term used to describe surfaces such as walls or roadways that have been built by cobbling bricks together. Drive ways, dividing walls, and brick homes are often built in this style. The friendly confines of Chicago's Wrigley Field provide a famous example of brickface:

Coffee Mate is a product designed to turn any ordinary truck stop double-double into an Amaretto-coconut cacophony of caffeine. It's made by the fine folks at Nestle, and can turn any coffee drinking experience from this:

into this:

"...Now the morning's over light wind blows
Past Mexicans all dressed in beige shirts
Leaning over their hoes
Now the morning's over
Time to let them sprinklers hose"

Past hills of chambermaids dark bare arms
And fields of muscles quilted to the bone
Right now I'm flying over
Yeah right now I'm flying home
Where I can sit on the end of my bed
And I can stare into my own shoes
And in the pools of light years
Go wherever I choose."

The Ontario provincial government actively recruits Migrant Workers to toil during the summer in Ontario's tobacco and strawberry production fields. These workers are most commonly found in the poorest villages of Mexico and Latin America and are sold on the idea of inexpensive room and board in exchange for manual labour on a Canadian farm. The workers are not subject to Canadian labour codes or protections, and are paid a pittance for their work while being provided with cramped, often unsanitary, living quarters on various farms.

If a worker complains or in any way dissatisfies the Canadian farmer he is working for, he can be fired, and must be on a plane back to his homeland within 24 hours of losing the job. Because these men are not Canadian citizens, or protected by any official working or trade documents, they can only launch an appeal or file an official complaint after having returned home. This of course discourages any disobedience or action on the part of the workers, most of whom are too destitute to make any legal maneuvers anyway.

Recent legal and social movements have shed light on the plight of these workers, but only time will tell if conditions will ever substantially improve. Maclean's magazine covered the issue in the summer of 2004 and included photos of workers literally leaning on hoe's and washing the tobacco and strawberry stains from their hands with garden hoses. These images, coupled with the fact that both jets and cigarette's leave "vapour trails" first led me to suspect a link between the workers and the lyrics.    

Hip Head Jonathan Kade had this interesting piece of information to add:

The lyric: "There's nothing funnier than pride in an utterly confident stride So I'll pull the car on over to give you a ride 'Damn this sleepy weather' he said as he marched in sopping wet shoes Through rainpools evaporating Says 'in this sign I'll conquer you'"

"In this sign I'll conquer you" is a reference to the old story about the Emperor Constantine: at the battle of Milvian Bridge, he saw a cross (or chi rho) of fire in the sky and the Latin phrase "in hoc signo vinces"; that is, "in this sign you will conquer." The start of a long and profitable (?) relationship between the Christian church and the state.

What it means in the song, I don't know. Missionaries seem out of place in the mise en scène.