September 16, 2014

Who do we hate this week?

Who do we hate this week?
People ask me Dense what is the secret to your 35 year marriage, and I always say:
1: Lower your expectations.
2: Have a sense of humor.
3: Who do we hate this week?  And people always shrug and say what?  This is hardest rule to accept, but the strongest of the three.   This rule is the secret of the common enemy.  A common enemy brings people together.

Who do we hate this week?
In my Province the teacher's union and the government have been fighting since June.  June 1968.
I have no clue, but like all great fights, this one has roots, it has legs, and encompasses generations.
Everyone hates the Government and most people hate teachers (kidding!!!!).  But.....

Who do we hate this week?
Even Joey Shithead jumped into the teapot with his tweet that has the audacity to suggest the Teacher's Union should compromise and get back to work.  This sentiment from the guy who wrote General Strike.
Poor Joe. He has taken a lot of heat this week.  Do I think he cares? Not really.  I don't care if he cares, he would probably say it is all a bunch of shit.  And this is guy who knows shit.   Except he didn't elaborate so everyone got to guess what he really thinks.  This is a guy who wants to be a politician.

Who do we hate this week?
Today it was announced that the two parties have come to an agreement.  Great.  The kids get to go back to school.  The Teacher's Union Leader is on the radio where we cannot see the mullet and mustache, going on about "no concessions were given by the teachers."
Was going 4 months without a pay cheque a concession the Teachers made to their union?  What about the  students who were graduating last year, still in a state of administrative mystery?  Or did he mean that no one was selling soda pop, hot dogs or popcorn?  I did hear that during the negotiations someone sent for a TV, and a large screen was brought in.  Huh?

Who do we hate this week?

Without exception almost everyone hates our perky little Premier, Christy Clark, who sends her single parented kid to a private school; I don't suppose Boy Clark has missed any Luncheables as his school has been open the whole time.  Now that the strike is over, (hey wait the teachers still have to mark it, but I understand it was primarily multiple choice- no essay questions allowed), the burning question is what can fill the hate vacuum on social media?

Who do we hate this week?
Obama, Israel, stupid white people with guns?  Easy targets one and all.

Who do we hate this week?
U2 seems to be on everybody's shit list. Why?  Do we really need a reason?  Bono and the Edge , who after all these years still hide behind their ridiculous pseudonyms.  Who do they think they are?
Dense Milt?
Can we just get over EGO and admit what really is on our minds?  Is Beyonce pregnant -yet, do you think that Miley Cyrus is a bigger influence than Elizabeth Warren?  The internet is blazing with people who are pissed off at U2 and pissed off at Apple.  For what we ask?  Because they gave everyone a free album, Songs of Innocence.  What is the problem?  Erase it if it really offends you.  Don't listen if you want.  But have you listened?

I did.

I kinda like it.  Dense Milt is going out on a fence here and saying that he kinda likes U2's new record.
I have to be careful here because we are all one tweet away from having the internet hate you.
It starts off with what sounds like a song for hockey games.  You mean like U2's Still Can't Find what I'm Looking For, or the Ramones Judy is a Brat.   Who would have thought the Ramones would all be dead and being blasted from every major sporting event.
The lead track is The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).  You heard it here.  Bono is giving tribute to the Ramones.   And it is kinda catchy.  "We were young, we were dumb".
The most beautiful sound he ever heard was the Ramones?  Or a hockey chant?
Every Breaking Wave starts out like the Police song.  Except it is U2 song.  I can feel my brain melting and my intelligence quotient dropping.  Christ these guys can write catchy melodies and lyrics that suggest something of import is being said, but upon inspection-POOF!  Gone.  What was the Police song?  Who cares.  Doo-doo-doo-doo.
Song three of the Songs of Innocence references Barbara Ann and Beach Boys.  Bono in a sandbox singing about California.  Except wait- there's more.  There are parenthese There is no end to love parenthese.  Whooah-Oooh!   There is no end to love.  Or Hate.

Who do we hate this week?

Morning Yet To Come

I hear the voices on the radio
and hit the snooze button
Fifteen minutes later the alarm jars-
I shut it off
Time for dreams to disappear and day to begin:
Legs swing from bed to floor

Although inside the house my wife and daughter are sleeping,
There is now sound all around me
Outside, I hear traffic flows in waves
onward toward Kingsway, a trolley slows,
braking the silence, gasping for air
Metal squeals mixed with refrigerator hum.

I grab the dogs and leave the apartment

The dogs pause, and shuffle by the elevator door
Maisy, my monsterous terrier moans
There is another dog, the new black puppy, and it is coming up the elevator
Maisy continues to agitate, writhing on her leash
until the elevator door opens and the new black dog leaves.

As we walk out on the street, the sun is rising
I hear birds, I see a cat, I see a man
He wears headphones
He is oblivious to the symphony around him
What is he listening to?

As we walk up the street I see  a crow on the ground next to the curb
He turns his head his beak opening but no sounds that I can hear
He is dying.

Maisy wants to know what is up with the fallen crow.
This is strange because there seems to be an understanding
between black dogs and the crows
This agreement was made in secret many years ago

The other birds,  the cats and definitely all the squirrels
did not sign on to this agreement.

It is always open season on cats, squirrels and any other bird
but the crows, they are ignored.
The black dogs do not engage with the crows.

The crow on the curb is dying.
Above, I  hear another crow
Is he singing the blues?  Does he even know about the fallen crow?
Higher above, a seagull circles and screams like Tippi Hedren
Cue the aviary woodwind section, as the smallest bird is trilling like a piccolo

There are many sounds in the morning
I do not have time to mourn the fallen crow.
There are more sounds and more morning yet to come.

September 2, 2014

Teach your children well. Their father’s hell did slowly go by.

You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of the tender years can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

I did not go to kindergarten.  You had to be Catholic to go to kindergarten in my town.

Grade one was Mrs. Lake- tall, kind. My mother sent there with measles.

Grade two was Mrs. Wright- Dennis will not need penmanship- he will have a secretary.

Grade three was Miss Haynes- silver hair battle axe to be feared.  Was actually very nice, except when I was caught with my brother’s Playboy calendar.

Grade four we got Miss Alleman- Large woman for a young lad in a new town.

Grade five my first male teacher Mr. Cokely- read beautifully Jack London’s Call of the Wild.  I remember his short sleeve white shirt and narrow black tie.  Also he was a sadist, arranging the children’s desk in order of perceived intelligence.  I was in the second seat, behind Sally Odd.  He was also the first teacher to send me to the library to read, which is what they did when having to teach down to the class medium.  My band teacher was Hampton Wines.  Great name.

Grade six a cigarette smoking lady named Mrs. Birkland- We knew that when we got to grade seven the older boys would call us homos.  We didn’t know what that was. Mrs. Birkland told us that it was not good to make fun of homosexuals. They were just people who want to be loved like you.  There was a special class for the kids who were mentally retarded, autistic etc.  This was the first year for that. 

Grade seven was year one of Junior High and more than one teacher.  My favorite teacher was Mr. Green.  He greased his hair, wore the short sleeve white shirts, but talk us about politics.  Band with Mr. Iles, Choral with Mr. Marin.  When Mr. Marin left the school to sell real estate, the girls sang To Sir with Love, and cried.

Grade eight was a joint social studies and environmental science class.  Also a funny science teacher name Mr. Hamm.  He would say the chirds are burping, and I resemble that remark, and other corny lines I have since made my own.

Grade nine we had Miss Yule.  She was hot.  Can’t even remember what she taught.  Miss Donaldson taught Oceanography where we dissected sharks. That made the hall smell bad for a week.

Grade ten was my first year of high school in the US and Canada.   I went to Aloha for about a month.
It was a modern school without bells.  We moved back to Canada.  Not just anywhere in Canada.  West Vancouver in those days was a pseudo British hell, where teachers like Mr. Donaldson stormed around and hit kids with his ruler.  Mr. Callow, who later was dismissed for incompetence, taught me the important lesson in politics and history- follow the money.  
Mr. Callow was also called Bonehead. One day, the kids next to me threw a desk out the window of the fourth story of Hillside Secondary.  Our English teacher was a German lady who had her back turned and did not notice a desk going out the window.   Mr. Callow had the room below. He came upstairs and bursting into the room,  demanded to know what had happened and who was responsible for throwing a desk out the window.  The German English teacher, whose name escapes me, said," Dennis- did you see a desk go out the window? "  Not wanting to be fink in my new school, where I was already ostracized as "the American",  I replied no, I did not.  
She said, "Well Mr. Callow, there you have it.  A desk did not go out the window, because my students do not lie. " 

Most useful class I ever took was Typing 10 with Mr. Taylor, the Vice Principal.  I got a C+, my lowest grade in school, but learned the most valuable skills.

Grade eleven we moved to Steveston, home of the Packers and whose principal was Dal Richards brother. 
On my first day to school,  I was walking along Steveston Highway, and go splashed by a giant wave. I was soaked from head to toe.   Memorable teachers included Vern Simpson, the graphics teacher.  He was the sculpter  that did Gassy Jask in Gastown.  Also Mr. Clarke, our Drama teacher.  I was either the star actor or a drama suck, depending on which side of the Jocks, Greasers, or Nerds you were on.  
We also had a math teacher, Mr. Kagetsu, who wrote his name on the board.  Ka- Get- Su.  Then he wrote, HARD WORK MAKES A HAPPY PERSON.   We laughed, but he may have had the last laugh.

Grade twelve more wasting of time, plotting against the jocks, who go so tired of our upstaging of the teacher in History, that they threw a desk at me.  Our group was split up and transferred to a different time period.   Ms. Morris (now they were Ms) was the art teacher and English teacher.  She basically said, go to the library and read for the semester, you are going to get an A anyway.  Write me a book report every week.  I played Charly in Flowers for Algernon, beginning a long career of playing morons who turn into geniuses and back again.  

Teachers were very important.  The good ones even more important.  And there were many good ones.
I would have to say that teachers and education was one of the more influential forces in my life.

I was never influenced positively by any politician, except perhaps Jessica Van der Veen for her performance in the lawyers meeting with Starbucks on behalf of the Manhattan Co-op. We walked into this board room of leather and rosewood, and she placed a cassette player with attached microphone on the table.   "You don't mind if I record this , do you?"   
The Vice President of Starbucks ( who was trying to get seating in the courtyard of the Manhattan) was nonplussed.  He stammered.  He relented.  And in the end, we triumphed.   
I asked Jessica if she got it all down.  
She said, there never was a tape in the machine.

August 31, 2014

Joseph Arthur's tribute song to Robin Williams

A life is lost and a stone is thrown
into the pool ripples spread out
from the impact,  concentric rings push back
In time, the ripples become stillness
Yet, sometimes the ripples just keep pushing
spreading wave upon wave
We stand at the edge and wave good-bye.

August 30, 2014

The Private Dining Room

by Ogden Nash 

Miss Rafferty wore taffeta,
Miss Cavendish wore lavender.
We ate pickerel and mackerel
And other lavish provender,
Miss Cavendish was Lalage,
Miss Rafferty was Barbara.
We gobbled pickled mackerel
And broke the candelabara,
Miss Cavendish in lavender,
In taffeta, Miss Rafferty,
The girls in taffeta lavender,
And we, of course, in mufti.

Miss Rafferty wore taffeta,
The taffeta was lavender,
Was lavend, lavender, lavenderest,
As the wine improved the provender.
Miss Cavendish wore lavender,
The lavender was taffeta.
We boggled mackled pickerel,
And bumpers did we quaffeta.
And Lalage wore lavender,
And lavender wore Barbara,
Rafferta taffeta Cavender lavender
Barbara abracadabra.

Miss Rafferty in taffeta
Grew definitely raffisher.
Miss Cavendish in lavender
Grew less and less stand-offisher.
With Lalage and Barbara
We grew a little pickereled,
We ordered Mumm and Roederer
Because the bubbles tickereled.
But lavender and taffeta
Were gone when we were soberer.

August 13, 2014

I flirted with you all my life

I flirted with you all my life -Vic Chesnutt

I am a man. I am self aware.
Everywhere I go, you're always right there with me.

I flirted with you all my life
Even kissed you once or twice
To this day I swear it was nice.
But clearly, I was not ready.

When you touched a friend of mine, I thought I would loose my mind.
But I found out with time,
That really, i was not ready.
No, No

Oh death, oh death, oh death.
Really, I'm not ready.

Of death you hinder me.
Death makes those dear to me.
Tease me with your sweet relief.
You're cool, and you are constant.

When my mom was cancer sick,
She fought but then succumb to it.
But you made her beg for it, 
Lord Jesus, please, I'm ready.

Oh death, oh death, oh death. 
Really I'm not ready.
No no.
Oh death, oh death, oh death.
Clearly I'm not ready.

It's fairly clear that Vic Chesnutt wanted out.  His overdose on Christmas 2009 was a suicide attempt that ended his flirtation with Death.  His friends and fans were devastated, but we can never be truly shocked or surprised when someone who has attempted suicide many times was finally successful.  Strange word successful.  Especially in this context.

I loved Vic Chesnutt's music and especially his lyrics.  The first song that drew me in was Danny Carlisle.

He wanted a tree fort more than anything
Yes he wanted to build and defend one on his own
But the neighbor boys BB siege was overwhelming
So he won't be building his dream tree fort anymore

He received a five-speed Schwinn for Christmas
So he built a ramp out of plywood and a stump
And at nights he dreamed Evel Knievel
And a canyon to jump in his backyard

Danny Carlisle don't give a shit about the contras
Danny Carlisle is barely grown
And he's used up most of his options but still he would rather
Dream than fuck

Once he used a pocket knife to kill a garter snake
Yes he chopped that evil serpent into fours
And when he raised his eyes to heaven as a soldier
He wiped the blood of bad snake on his shirt

Danny Carlisle don't give a shit about the contras
Danny Carlisle is barely grown
And he's used up most of his options but still he would rather
Dream than fuck

What a beautiful line!  He don't give a shit about the Contras.  He's barely grown and he's used up most of his options.

Still he would rather dream than fuck.

Who writes songs like this?  No one but Vic, and now, no one.

That is why death, especially self imposed death is so devastating.  It is final.  There is no going back.
No do overs.  

In a few seconds changes.  Life's disappear and all that remains are tears. 

August 12, 2014

Suicide happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.

First off before we go any further let me just say I am fine.
I am a very sensitive person who knows the black dogs of depression,
but today the only black dogs are the ones on the end of the leash as I walk them around the block.

Lately there is so much death in the news.  And sadness.  

How can people be so stupid and so cruel?  

From Gaza to the Ukraine, from the continual war on women, and the war on the individual, and 
the war against privacy, the world closes in.
We start to choke on this world.
It grabs us by the throat and throws us to the ground like a rag doll.


We smile.  We force ourselves to smile.   We walk our dogs, and pet our cats.
We hug our children and kiss our lovers.  
And the sun shines.
And the water is clear and drinkable.

But for some people who do not have all the love around them like I do, life can become unbearable.

The following is from a website: 

"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

"That's all it's about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn't even mean that you really want to die - it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights... no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could. "

"Don't accept it if someone tells you, "That's not enough to be suicidal about." There are many kinds of pain that may lead to suicide. Whether or not the pain is bearable may differ from person to person. What might be bearable to someone else, may not be bearable to you. The point at which the pain becomes unbearable depends on what kinds of coping resources you have. Individuals vary greatly in their capacity to withstand pain. "

"When pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources.

You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things: 
(1) find a way to reduce your pain, or 
(2) find a way to increase your coping resources. 

Both are possible. "

I remembered this from the Art Bears from my time of great creativity, and great wild life:

Words by Bertholt Brecht, Music by Hanns Eisler

In such a country, and at such at time
There should be no melancholy evenings
Even high bridges over the rivers
And the hours between the night and morning
And the long long winter time as well
All these are dangerous !
For in view of all the misery
People just throw, in a few seconds time
Their unbearable lives away

"People just throw, in a few seconds time, their unbearable lives away."

These words are haunting.

If you cannot cope with your pain, your mental conditions,

your  demons, depression, your black dog,

 you become overwhelmed, PLEASE ASK FOR HELP!

Scream for help if you have to. 

In a few seconds time.....

I have been trying to write for the past few months.

Lately, death is all around me.

A few months ago, our friend Dave Gregg's heart gave out far too young.
A few weeks ago, My dear Mother, her time ran out, at age 93
She lived a long and beautiful life, 
although her last 8 years she was trapped inside her mind. 
her life was the living hell that is dementia

A few hours ago,  Robin Williams who made us all laugh and cry so many times 
ended his own life.

In a few seconds time...

Oscar Wilde gets the last word.

"The final mystery is oneself.
 When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself.
 Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?"