December 16, 2012

One Of Us

America is addicted to guns as a solution.  They love their guns, plain and simple.  But the obsession with "freedom" and rights are to my way of thinking an addiction.

The anti-gun lobby can make all the noise they want to, but the American political Establishment- White House, Congress and Courts, will never limit the usage or availability of guns.  Guns are like the National Flower, except they are more like a weed.  Or a cancer.
And the patient just loves to smoke.  Knows it will kill them, but loves to smoke.  Knows that the gun lobby likes to get them young, and make them gun owners at as young an age as is humanly possible.

But the issue of all the shootings is not really guns.  Guns don't kill people; they just make it easier to kill lots of people at one time.  The issue is mental illness and how we accept that it is a part of us, and how we find better solutions and ways of managing it.

People who have cancer often want to be referred to as someone "living with cancer", as opposed to dying of cancer.  They are in the middle of a battle, and they are fighters; they are working on a management of pain, of health and risks.  This is the same situation for people with mental illnesses.
It is not a situation of "pulling up your bootstraps."  Or when I was kid, if a kid acted up and told his mother to fuck off bitch and I want to kill you and everyone you love, they got a beating and that was that.  Mental illness is just that- an illness.

Is it easier to think of mental illness as a cancer of the brain?  It isn't, but as a society, we accept that some people will get cancer.  But mental illness- and there are many many different kinds, variations, and degrees of severity- however ubiqitous, is not accepted.  We turn away, we shuffle it off to the shadows.   Why in the old days, we shut them away, as far away as possible, because we feared as an illness, it may be communicable.

Doug Coupland says All Families Are Psychotic.  It is meant as a glib statement with a certain irony implied.  And he is referring to our familial relationships when he says Family.  But all families may have someone who is psychotic, or neurotic, or more commonly depressed, or bi-polar.  These "illnesses" are only some of the more common states; what about conditions like autism, Aspberger's, ADHD, anxiety or panic attacks.

Who is normal anymore?  What is "normal"?  There are scales and charts and definitions that help us to define these terms and the degrees of severity.  But when you are different, you know it.  You feel it in your bones and every fibre in your body.   It is part of your vision, part of your breathing, it is who you are.

I am 54, going on 55, a white male with a great job, beautiful wife, and gorgeous and talented daughter.  I have a family that loves me, and according to Facebook, almost 800 "friends".

I also have depression, which I manage on a daily basis with pharmacology.  I work hard to be happy, although happiness and sadness are not really part of depression at all.  There are so many variations again that it would take much more than one blog post to divulge.  More friends of mine, often men and women of the same age, also have depression.  Or anxiety to the point that some days, one is severely affected.   It is a manageable mental condition, an illness if you must.  I don't identify myself as being ill.

I am just me, accept me for what and who I am.  I have really have no time for "faking it" anymore.
My depression was diagnosed 6 months after my heart attack, which is also very common.  It was probably brought on by the chemical changes that happened after my heart attack, or perhaps the medication given after my heart attack.  Or perhaps the seeds to it were planted, just like my heart attack, many years before.  Perhaps it is genetic, as depression runs in families.  Perhaps brought on by untold grief, as almost ten friends and family members died within about 4 years.

I remember some of the same feeling many years before, even as a child.  My brain always seemed to work different, and not always in a bad way.   I am very creative, I see the world from what appears to me to be a different vantage point, I am fairly articulate in my thoughts and in my artistic expression.

I am currently reading a book by Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon, an Atlas of Depression.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has a interest in this subject.  I have read many books, many memoirs, but this book, and I am only 59 pages into a book that is almost 569 pages, is enlightening on a subject that is so often in the shadows.
I am "coming out" today not for sympathy or shock value, but to hopefully "normalize" mental conditions, mental illnesses.  If we do not start to talk about this subject, and find solutions, we will just have more and more tragedies like the recent tragedy in Connecticut.

In my job as a trader and sales person, I always try to find a "workable" solution.  It is good for me to make a profit, and it is important for my client to keep their costs within their margins.  So to make a sale happen, I need to balance risks, expectations, and find how to make it "workable".

This process is what we need to do as a society- find a way to make mental illnesses and conditions more workable for the people who need help.   In extreme situations, some people need to  be removed from society for their own safety and for our own safety.   Unfortunately the way we usually do that is with the prison system.  A vast majority of prisoners are mentally ill.   A vast majority of people who are homeless are mentally ill.  A vast majority of alcoholics and drug abusers are also mentally ill.

Can we at least admit that the way we handle things today is not working, is not "workable"?
Can we find a way to help people with problems before they become unmanageable?
Before they become toxic?
Before they become dangerous?
After all, they are one of us.

December 15, 2012

Guns Don't Kill People

Guns don't kill people
People kill people
Guns just make it easier to kill people
Assault weapons make it easy to kill more people in a shorter time
How many more people can be killed without reloading?

The 2nd Amendment to US constitution grants the right to bear arms
Do you think the Founding Fathers anticipated assault rifles?
Does you think they gave people the right to own cannons?
Did they intend to give people the right to own grenades?

If you have the right to bear arns, do you have the right to chemical weapons?
How about the right to nuclear weapons?
Because if killing people or animals is the aim, why not blow em up real good?

No, Weapons of mass destruction are not arms.  
But if used correctly, arms and legs and all sorts of body parts result.
Let us not kid ourselves, weapons are not designed to act as deterrents.
Weapons are made to kill people.
Weapons are a very effective tool in the arsenal for the task of killing people.

Does the average citizen need tools to kill people?
City folk go down to the store and buy animals already killed for them.
Rural folk also can go down to the store to buy dead animals to eat.
But what if the citizen wants the right to kill their own animals?
Presumably to eat.  But sometimes not to eat.
Sometimes citizens want the right to kill animals and not eat them.

Gun culture feeds on fear.
Fear of a black planet.
Fear of a black President.
Fear of the unknown.

America loves their guns.
More than their children, unless they are unborn children.
America loves unborn children too.
America loves their guns so much they sell them all over the world.
Arming the enemy, or what the experts call finding something to shoot at

The killing of school children is horrific, senseless and previously unthinkable.
Unless you are Pakistanis killed by Presidential orders with drones.
The US Constitution gives Congress alone the power to declare war.
But that doesn't stop Presidents from killing people, presumably bad people.
Unfortunately, sometimes good people or even children get killed.
We call that collateral damage.

America loves their children so much that when they are 18
They send their children out in the world to kill people.
Presumably bad people.  But sometimes good people.  And children.
Collateral damage.

America has a rich tradition of the military and military service.
Service to your country.
God Bless the Troops.
Who are over in the god forsaken lands killing people on behalf of their government.
Presumably bad people.
People their government says are bad.
So what if a few of the bad people's kids get killed?
Probably just saving ourselves from having to kill them later.

Where do we think assault weapons came from- Santa Claus?
What would Jesus do?
I don't see him strapping on an assault weapon and mowing down helpless children.
What part of loving your neighbor is that?

Assault weapons were not designed to kill lots of deer at once.
They were designed to kill lots of people (presumably bad people) at once
Guns don't kill people.
People kill people.
Mentally ill people kill people.
Mentally ill cultures kill people.
Mentally ill countries kill people.  Presumably bad people. And unfortunately sometimes, children.

I'm sorry.  I can't bring myself to call innocent children collateral damage.
Whether in Pakistan or Connecticut or Virginia or Montreal or Vietnam or Rwanda or Bosnia.....
Guns don't kill people.
But they make it easier to kill more people.


November 17, 2012

To live a love you got to be part of

On November 22, this coming Thursday,  my long time friend writer/filmmaker Peggy Thompson and I will be going to Montreal to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse with Patti Smith Group. Rock music has been called a young man's game, yet both of these artists well into their 60's are making some of their most vital work.  
Musically they have different styles and methods at play, but share a rawness, an urgency, and the recognition that their every move is a following of the muse, the creative fire, without regard for commercial implications. 
In recent years, Patti Smith ( born 1946) put out a memoir, Just Kids, a new album, Banga, as well as shows of her photographic arts.  Neil Young (1945) just released a memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, and in the space of 6 months, two albums, Americana- his reworking with Crazy Horse of American folk songs, anthems, and campfire sing-a-longs, and Psychedelic Pill- the new double album which he will be featuring in concert at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

It was a number of months ago at a dinner party at Peggy's house.  I played for everyone  the new Patti Smith album Banga.  We all remarked on how good it was, usually with the qualifier of "especially at her age".   One of my greatest regrets was not seeing her play live back in 1978.   I had never seen her perform live, but did you know that Patti and Neil Young  are playing together in a few Eastern Cities- New York, Montreal and others.   Would that be amazing to be able to see both of these musical and cultural heroes in one place?  Peggy agreed and casually said, why don't we go see them.  She admitted that she had not seen either artist in a live setting before.  The very next day, I searched for tickets in New York, and then noticed that they were also playing in Montreal.  So I did a very impulsive thing.  I bought two very expensive seats, and called Peggy saying we were going to Montreal.   Expecting her to be horrified at my impulsiveness, I was surprised to hear her congratulate me and immediately get as excited as I was.   We would go on a cultural road trip to one of the most cultural of North American cities, to see two of the rock gods of our youth.   

The first record that I ever bought was Neil Young's Harvest back in 1972.  I was 14.  It was a gatefold album with a rough finish on the cover.  For the kids out there, a gatefold album opened up, providing a  surface perfect for rolling numbers (as in Roll Another Number for the Road).  Harvest was his 4th solo record.  My older brother Brent has CSNY Deja Vu, so I was familiar with Neil, but this was the first album I had paid for myself.   Who would have known than thousands of records, tapes and cd's later, not to mention becoming a musician myself would ensue?   

The photo above is a reflection on a doorknob, but the image of the skinny hippie Neil is clearly an outside image.  The image is further distorted by the surface of the knob. Is he inviting us in or shutting us out?  "I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line, that keeps me searching for a Heart of Gold, And I'm getting old."   And now he is getting old, just like me.   That was 40 years ago.  A few lifetimes ago.

"Old man look at my life, I'm a lot like you were."  Neil himself said, "Heart of Gold" is the song that "put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."

In the ditch or On The Beach, which is arguably my favourite Neil Young record.    "Sooner or later, it all get's real.  Walk on. "  Trying to make sense of death of the hippie dream, the Manson murders, Richard Nixon, Vietnam.  We went from the orchestral overload of A Man Needs a Maid, and There's A World, to Walk On, which was a logical follow up to Heart of Gold, in both a musical stylistic sense, and as well in a lyrical theme.  The search of Harvest leads to "sooner or later it all get's real."   Real meaning real fucked up.  

The early 70's were formative for all the punks of the late 70's.  Neil Young was always Neil.  Honest, raw and going in his own directions against the grain.  Mr. Soul got burned with 4 dead in Ohio.  Down by the river, a cinnamon girl.  Love and only love.   "It takes a real friend to tell you, you are pissin' in the wind."  

And then the darkest record of the Neil Young collection, Tonight's the Night, Neil's homage to his dead friends Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry.  This record was written and recorded before On the Beach, but delayed for two years by his record company.  But Neil was singing the song because he loved the man.   Tonight's the Night was more punk than any punk band.   Commercial suicide.  But it had to be done.  The songs had to be sung, and the stories had to be told.   In Neil's opinion, this was the record that came the closest to art.  

In New York on another coast another story was being written, and a different art was being created.   Tom (Miller) Verlaine and his buddy Richard (Meyers) Hell (born 1949) moved from Kentucky in 1969 to New York.  Patti Smith and her boyfriend to be Robert Mapplethorpe also made the journey.  It is hard to believe the seeds of the punk movement began in 1969, but then again, why is it so hard to believe?  Before punk, there were angry hippies, and Beats.  Drugs, sex and music were all invented about the time of fire.   

I was 15 when we moved back to Canada from the US.  Uprooted from my friends, I did not fit in to the cliquish West Vancouver neighborhood we moved in to.   My dad moved us back only ten years after moving us to the US, both for business reasons.  In the meantime, my Wonder Bread years, I was naturalized an American citizen.   I didn't know it at the time, but in the eyes of the Canadian government, I apparently lost my Canadian citizenship, having to apply years later to get it back. 

I mention this as background to show the time of the early to mid 70's was a time of displacement, uncertainty, and great change.   As many of the hippie dreams turned to wasted naps and nightmares,  an ennui set in.  West Van was overcast, grey, stuffy, and conservative.  Oregon, where I had lived, was wild, awakening to drugs and sex, and politically both conservative and progressive.  I closed my bedroom door and retreated to the world of my musical heroes, reading all the various magazines of the day from Rolling Stone to Creem to later on NME, Melody Maker , Op, Village Voice and even Interview.   It was a great time for magazines.   

It was in Creem that I first began to hear of Patti Smith, a poet, somewhat draggish, herself in love with Rimbaud and the Rolling Stones, a fan's hallucination.  The Boy Looked at Johnny, Johnny wanted to run but the movie kept moving as planned.  The Boy took Johnny, he pushed him against the locker, he drove it in he drove it home.....Horses, Horses Horses.

Long May You Run, Neil's song for a beloved car, but with a picture of a rider on a horse on the cover.
We were escaping, running from the wreckage, running to a utopian future, laughing hysterically, hallucinations were common, drugs were commonplace, sex was reportedly casual. 

Concurrently, there was glam and sexual confusion emanating from Europe and England, throwing their influences in the mix.   Bowie, Roxy, Bolan, beautiful men edging toward a breaking down of barriers.  Even the much maligned Disco had its day ( or night to be more accurate).  Boys will be boys, unless they are girls looking like boys, or boys wanting to be girls, or boys looking like girls.   Patti Smith was a girl, but androgynous in her oversized white male collar shirt and skinny tie, and tight black jeans.  She sang as a woman who was really a boy, who was into boys. Heterosexual.  Homosexual.  The lines blurred.  It was a confusing, exciting time and a further stretching of the boundaries we had rejected.  Neil had jumped from the mainstream to the ditch, and Patti was never mainstream, she was a visionary outsider, coming to rock as a poet, a shaman, a woman possessed.  

  Which was all very attractive to me personally.   Escaping from the boredom of "the straight life", I adopted personas in the theatre, taking on roles and memorizing lines.    I was going to be an actor.  I quit my job in a bank, and went to acting school, singing Cole Porter, and falling in love with Method.
DeNiro in Taxi Driver was emulated for disappearing in his role as Travis Bickle, the psychokiller avenging Cybil Shepard by killing a hypocritical politician.  So into my roles as Bickle wannabees, that I actually kicked a friend in the head during a scene, and terrorized a young man with full complicity of an acting teacher who was either mesmerized or lacking her own boundaries.  

So much of my attraction and relationship to both Neil Young and Patti Smith comes from the 70's.  
I remember being in a lighting booth for a technical rehearsal the night Patti Smith played in Vancouver.  Another actor friend got to go and see here, while I was stuck in a booth in the dark.  It was the impetus to leave acting, as I was tired of young kids pretending to be something they had yet to even experience.   I needed to experience.  Everything.  I needed to be the actor, the writer and the director.  I needed to express myself on a stage, but on the edge ready to dive into the audience.  

November 15, 2012

The World of Doreen Grey

"The world of right is black and white, so says the blonde known as Miss Grey.  Remembering a rendezvous, she had that day a deja vu.  What a way to live."


Lenore Herb took on the identity of Doreen Grey for a multitude of reasons. Like many aspects of her life, there were always many layers to even the most private of jokes.  First, adopting a new identity was a punk rock thing to do.  Second,  the moniker Doreen Grey exists on a level as a self-deprecating private joke for her seeming agelessness.
Last and most important,  the name “Doreen Grey” was chosen as a feminist appropriation of,  and a play on words of,  Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. It works as a reminder that her creations, her video images, were timeless documentations of a time of youth and rebellious, hedonistic energy.  As such, the images remain trapped in time, not growing old as we all age around them.  
In the Wilde novel,The Picture of Dorian Gray, we find recurring themes of aestheticism, hedonism, influence, duality and duplicity of nature.   
Lord Henry remarks, “I should fancy that crime was to them what art is to us, simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations".

Interesting footnote, in her final days, Lenore and I watched the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was another gothic story with similar themes.   The irony was not lost upon either one of us.

November 12, 2012

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night

by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

(e)merging art/music/poetry

the vancouver artpunk archive of doreen grey

Satellite Gallery presents a rare glimpse into the video archive of the late activist and filmmaker Lenore Herb. Between 1979 and 1982, Herb, also known as Doreen Grey, documented Vancouver's vibrant punk music, poetry and visual arts scene amassing an archive of some 1000 hours of video tape. As Jaime Clay, exhibition curator and close friend of the filmmaker, recalls, "Lenore hauled heavy camera packs, boxes of video tapes, cables and love the same way the musicians did. Her rich archive of the time reveals interviews during breaks in the music, secured in back alleys, down hallways, in bathrooms. Then back to recording the performance from the bottom of a makeshift stage, on stage, backstage."
The exhibition at Satellite Gallery includes still images from her archives, video projections, ephemera, collections, and video equipment, with an emphasis on the local music production in Vancouver between 1978 and 1980.
Lenore Herb (1947 – 2010) was an activist, environmentalist, filmmaker, writer, and curator. She became active in Vancouver’s art scene in the 1960s, when she began working in the collating and distributing department at blewointmentpress. During this time, she was also a participant in the Sound Gallery and Trips Festival, the Floating Free School (started by Peter Hlookoff), and Knowplace Free School (started by Warren and Ellen Tallman). She has worked with artists such as Dan Graham and musicians such as Henry Rollins, as well as acted as the long-time archivist and curator for the work of bill bissett. In the area of film, Herb was actively involved with the Pacific Cinémathèque and Cineworks for much of the 1970s and 1980s, and worked as Community Producer for Metro Media (1979 – 1983).
This exhibition is curated by Jaime Clay with assistance from the Friends for the Preservation of the Lenore Herb Archive, Dennis Mills, Diane Keenlyside, Dorothy Trujillo Lusk and Michelle Normoyle and organized by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia, and Satellite Gallery, and made possible with funding from the Doris Shadbolt Endowment for the Arts and the BC Arts Council.  Special thanks to Saphira Coutts and Tali Foley for their kind and generous support and guidance.

October 7, 2012

The Dish Best Served Cold

The man who seeks revenge digs two graves.

KEN KESEY, Sometimes a Great Notion

 A dish best served cold.  Revenge is sweet.  
Revenge is a balancing act. Trying to get back, trying to push the genie back in the bottle, trying to turn back time, undo, delete, cut and paste.  
I Saw The Devil is a Korean film from 2011.  A  young pregnant woman waits in a car in the snow for a tow truck to change her tire.  She is talking on the cell to her husband, who is involved in the security business.  
A yellow school van pulls up, and a man gets out and walks to her window.  Need a hand?  
Hands first, then feet, then head. 
She declines as instructed by her husband to wait for the tow truck. 
Might be awhile.
Why is he not leaving.  
Man with hammer at window breaks through the passenger side, dragging her over and smashing her skull repeatedly.  He drags her limp body across the fresh snow, leaving a trail of blood.
So starts I Saw the Devil.  The grieving husband vows to make the killer pay. To make his suffer. To get his revenge.  After catching a guy at his computer pleasuring himself, and smashing his balls with a hammer, the husband finally catches up with the killer.  He is in the midst of another murder attempt.  The husband beats him to within an inch of his life, and inserts a tracking device in the killer's mouth.  He smashes the killers hand with a hammer.  Lots of hammers.   And leaves him some money in an envelope.   What you say?  He didn't kill him.  No, his revenge will only be satisfied with the suffering of the killer as he made his wife suffer.  And so the duel is on.   A righteous man deep in grief tracking a serial killer, inflicting severe pain and then letting him go again.  The killer meets with his friends, a couple who are cannibals.  While they serve their revenge cold, and cooked, they also keep a young girl on a chain.  Sushi.   Hands first, then feet, then the head. 

One of the best scenes is one in which the killer  is picked up by a strange pair in a cab.   The driver is a little off, and the killer can see the "passenger" has a knife that he is hiding.   So taking matters in  his own hands, he proceeds to create one of the best scenes of violence in a moving vehicle.    Korea has more going on than Gangnam  Style.  
I Saw The Devil is  a masterwork of revenge and violence.   It is not a chick flick.   

September 30, 2012

Meter still on I'll strike a match.

So I went to bed around 3 am and woke before 6 am.  That is not a "good night's sleep."  It is hardly a nap.  Seven days into living like a virgin.   At least drinking it virgin.  What do I notice?  More energy.  An intensification of feelings- both physical, mental, and the other thing.  What do I notice?  People sound louder when you aren't drinking alcohol with them.  Coffee at 10 pm is still not a good idea.
The moon is still in the sky at night.  The sun in the morning still excites.
I was so excited yesterday finding a new album of new original music by Iris Dement at Red Cat records.  It has been over 16 years since she put out an album of original music.  There is a warmth and maturity to this new record.  Already I love Sing the Delta and The Night I Learned How Not to Pray.

The photo from the cover is not glamourous in any sense of the word; she presents herself as a less than flattering hausfrau, and yet...there is a sensual quality to it.  She has a sadness in her eyes, but the fullness in her lips draw us in.
Easy is still getting harder every day it seems.  She knows sorrow.  And her distinctive and so 'old timey', so full of character, so full of life.
I remember when I first heard Iris, back in the early 90's.  Kurt Cobain had just committed suicide and the shock of that loss was fresh.  Iris filled the gap of his loss for me with her songs, lyrics, voice. I would listen and cry along to her music everyday.  I saw her perform live in those days, and the love affair continued.  The reaction to her third record, which was more political, seemed to change her.  She withdrew, and her marriage fell apart or she outgrew the relationship.  It was so many years until her next record, a collection of gospel songs that inspired her.   In between, a selection of covers and youtube clips, collaborations with John Prine, was all her fans were left with.
What was the mystery?  Was she suffering a writer's block?  Had she told her story in the first two records, and that was all?  Was she depressed?  Then we heard she had married Greg Brown, and apparently from reading the liner notes to the new record, had a daughter.  Life can interrupt the creative process, or rather the creation of a new life and parenting is a creative process in itself.
The heartbreaking song The Night I learned how not to pray ( because God does what he wants to anyway) is surprising in a way from an artist whose faith seemed to be such a big part of her life.  But what is faith without a crises of faith?  No matter how strong our belief in a higher power, we cannot help but be rocked when someone we love so dearly is taken from us.  In the song, she witnesses her younger brother falling down stairs, a crumpled heap at the bottom with blood seeping from his head, and you know this is not going to end well.  She gets down on her knees and prays and God takes him anyway, despite her prayers.   Horrible tragedies like this happen everyday; our worlds and faith are challenged.  But what is faith but believing in something that cannot be proven?  If we could prove the existent of God, we wouldn't have to believe.  We would just know.
I had the joy yesterday of walking with a dear friend, and sharing stories of our lives, our challenges.  She gave me hope of overcoming the day to day, hour by hour, test of character that I'm going through.
My life is so gifted, it feels wrong to complain or try to elicit sympathy.   I am eight days sober today, trying to process my thoughts, trying to repair, revise, reinterpret, reenvision, reenvigorate, and reinvent my present, my gifts, my life.
Oh that is a lot of R's.  Hard r's, rolling r's, a veritable pirates booty of R's.  As the cartoon at the top says, the meter is on and the gas is running.  And hey Jean, do you need me to strike a match?

September 24, 2012

The scream hides the hole

The scream hides the hole.  The time it takes to fall from vertical to prone is commensurate with the velocity of vodka enveloping vellum, a velvet balancing act performed by a chimp on a bike on a wire.  Not enough stitches to keep them all laughing.  It only hurts when they don't laugh.
And now the promise.  A promise that portends disaster that extends the laughter that contends with "after."  After  dark, a gradual lightening strikes.  The air is electric, waiting for another glass in the neighborly direction.
Still the violins pluck and nobody fucks, and everything is stuck. The scream covers the slit in the back of his head, now open for all to see.  Not much to see, keep it moving, nothing to see here folks.   A comic without jokes.  A drunk without a drink.  An empty glass.  A performer on hiatus.  Which is code, entertainment code for when nobody calls.
The phone works both ways, inside and outside.  Just like a glass ass.  Inside and outside.  Both sides shards hard now.  Jagged, the outside is distended, disfigured fixtures broken, unspoken, it figures, he is distant, disguise disliked, dizzy with an emptiness that burns.  Burns a big hole.  Inside and outside.  This buzz is for you.  Buzz me buzz me baby.  Who is it? Who is it?  The crowd chants, "Hide the hole."

A Child's History of Drunks

"The tale has no hero.  The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards; confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely, and above all the elusive promises of friendship and love.  From almost the beginning of awareness, drinking was a part of my life; there is no way that I could tell the story of the drinking without telling the story of my life.  Much of that story was wonderful.  In the snug darkness of saloons, I learned much about being human and mastering a craft.  I had, as they say, a million laughs.  But those grand times also caused great moral, physical or psychological damage to myself and others.  Some of that harm was probably permanent. There is little to be done now, except take responsibility. No man's past can be changed; it's a fact, like red hair." 
-Pete Hamill 1993  A Drinking Life

Bowties, Grills, Bangs, Sneers, Hairage,

At a certain point in my thirties, I remember looking in the mirror and saying to myself, who is this guy? He doesn't even look like "me". Now it's a daily dressing down, and ego devaluation, and ultimately, acceptance of gravity and entropy.

September 20, 2012

In the beginning was Milt, and it was Dense.

The other day I was downtown meeting my wife for lunch.  We decided to try out one of the many food trucks that now line the parking lanes ( the lanes that are not bike lanes) in our fair city.
We were about to cross the street when we saw on the other side some large signs being held by young men and women in their late teens or early 20's. 
It was a Right to Life exhibition of the horrors of abortion, featuring the bloody remains of partially formed fetus upon fetus. 

In short, a disgusting presentation right before lunch.  More disgusting was the fact that these young virginal childults with their minds made up.   The same philosophy that espouses the right to life, wants the right to kill those convicted of certain crimes, generally supports most wars, and has little sympathy for the children that actually do grow up, many in poverty, hungry, abused and unwanted. 

Where does life begin?  In the twinkle of a father's eye?  A suggestive glance in a haze of booze inspired revelry? Or is the beginning of life simply a byproduct of romance, inspired by a lifetime of the Young and the Restless, Shades of Grey, and Harlequin?  Does life begin before the dirty deed or is life an assembly line, predetermined from cradle to the grave?

At one time people believed in Preformationism. This philosophical theory of heredity claimed that either the egg or the sperm (exactly which was a contentious issue) contained a complete preformed individual called a homunculus. Development was therefore a matter of enlarging this into a fully formed being.*
Does that mean that inside every load, the male of the species carry little versions of themselves?  Logically it is murder then everytime we pleasure ourselves in private.  No wonder it is called Little Death. 

The term homunculus was later used in the discussion of conception and birth, Nicolas Hartsoeker discovered "animalcules" in the semen of humans and other animals. This was the beginning of spermists' theory, who held the belief that the sperm was in fact a "little man" (homunculus) that was placed inside a woman for growth into a child. *  In the beginning was Milt, and it was Dense.

This seemed to the Preformationists to neatly explain many of the mysteries of conception. It was later pointed out that if the sperm was a homunculus, identical in all but size to an adult, then the homunculus may have sperm of its own. *

This led to a reductio ad absurdum with a chain of homunculi "all the way down". This was not necessarily considered by spermists a fatal objection however, as it neatly explained how it was that "in Adam" all had sinned: the whole of humanity was already contained in his loins. The spermists' theory also failed to explain why children tend to resemble their mothers as well as their fathers, though some spermists believed that the growing homunculus assimilated maternal characteristics from the womb environment in which they grew.*Wikipedia: Homunculus

So what right to life does a fetus have?  What right to life does a cow or a pig have?  What right to life do we all have once we are born?  Please note when it is said a right to life, no one qualifies that life with an adjective.  Not even right to a good life? 

There are no guarantees.  We all have a shelf life.  Some ideas never hatch.  And some kids do not get to be born.  If there is a genuine concern or compassion for "life", then let us support the living. Let us ensure a "good" life for those lucky enough to be born.  Either that or start the persecution of men who want to jerk off.  After all, life starts completely formed in the milt.  After that, it gets murky, even dense.



August 14, 2012

I dot I

I dot I                                                                                                 

I can’t help it
I love me          
Me with I
I,  me.
I don’t think.
And no one has to know
I am like me, I am,
For I appear to be me
I, me I  
Look, I know the “I do”
I know the soft “You”
“You” I did.
I was gone,
Me to kiss me
Aside from I, Me
Just I . I 
Let me be me
There is no “You”
I,  Me. 
And Me, I.
Just us.

August 1, 2012

Americana transforms corn into gold

I love corn. but  I have always said "Never let the corn get in the way of quality."  Neil Young's new album Americana transforms corn into gold.  Let's first acknowledge that Neil Young is one of the most creative musical artists of the past 40 years.  His only competition for both quantity and quality is Bob Dylan and perhaps Paul Simon.  But every project is a crapshoot and gamble with Neil; it is either genius or an epic failure.  On the face of it, Americana would seem to fall into the category of the latter.

But there is a perverse genius at play here.  Who else would end an album of American folk songs with interpretation of God Save The Queen?  And despite his love for Johnny Rotten, we are talking about the British National anthem.  As a child growing up in Canada, we can assume Neil sang this daily as a part of the Canadian royalist regime. The song has an angelic  children's choir that changes the focus midway to My Country 'Tis of Thee, the American song sang by school kids on this side of the Atlantic.  Both songs share the same melody. We are left with the sounds of Let Freedom Ring, which has been a constant theme of Neil Young's for the past 40 years.

Americana is a transformation of folk songs, campfire songs, songs we all learned as children.  We have Oh Susannah, (My Darling) Clementine, Tom Dula (Tom Dooley) and more.  The songs are not presented as remembered; neither are they given the roots folk unearthing of old nuggets like Harry Smith.  Neil Young has chosen to interpret these with Crazy Horse, his broad stroke pallete, and they are crushing, crucial and captivating.

The raw playing and arrangements give new lives to the corn of our youth.  I have my tickets for Neil with Patti Smith in Montreal in November on my bucket list tour of 2012.  I will be looking forward to seeing these songs played in a live context with Cortez the Killer, Like a Hurricane and other epic Neil Young songs of Americana.

July 28, 2012

To Dog or Not to Dog

I woke up this morning with a poodle on my legs.  A 60 lb. poodle.  Lying on my bed, resting on top of me.  I was effectively pinned to the mattress.  

I had been lost in a dream about work, but not about where I presently work; rather I dreamed about a former place of employment.
As it was a dream, everything was mixed up but there was a palpable anxiety.  As if there was a weight upon me.

Oh yeah.  There was a weight upon me.  My sub-standard poodle, Toodles.  She is sub-standard only in that she is smaller than a standard Standard.   Toodles was the runt of the litter, and when she came to us, she was about 4 lbs of bone, fur and had the smell of those small stuffed animals.  Her scent was a musky peppery smell.  From the beginning, I had her in my sights.

I struggled to free myself from the poodle entrapment, only to be greeted at my feet by my ankle-biter, Maisy.   Maisy is a terrier/terror.  She is the epitome of the word, hound.   Not as a noun, but as a verb.  As we see below, "hound" as a verb derives from the germanic word "hund".
Most likely so does the work "hunt", and "hunter".


O.E. hund "dog," from P.Gmc. *khundas (cf. Ger. Hund, O.N.hundr, Goth. hunds), from PIE *kuntos, dental enlargement of base *kwon- "dog" (see canine). Meaning narrowed 12c. to "dog used for hunting." The verb sense of "urge on, incite" is first attested 1528, that of "pursue"

I urge Maisy to quit dogging me.  Once again, we are verbalizing our nouns.



To relentlessly pursue; nipping at your heels; bark incessantly; try to jump into the television.

OK, that last part I made up.  To dog or not to dog?  Whither the noble beast that nips at the very fabric of my soul.  

And what fabric would that be, Mr. Milt?

Hounds-tooth, of course.

Buy it by the yard.  The whole nine yards.  By the fat quarter.  On Fat Tuesday. 
Shrove this, tithe that.  Getting fat on Pancake Day.  Sweetened with honey from the comb. 

The honeycomb another example of Escher before Escher.  A tessellation of social acitivity.  A hive of sticky-in-to-it-tive-ness.  I am helpless here.  I can't drop this thread until I mention honeycomb houndstooth.

And I have had jackets of houndstooth, honeycomb houndstooth, poodle cuts, been called a terrierist.  But enough with the words, word associations, and worldly witticisms.

I really have to quit dogging the work I need to do.  I have been vacillating doing my dog-eared taxes.  After all, my dear wife whom I have been devoted to for over 33 years, has been hounding me to do them since before the day they were due.  

July 27, 2012

Keep on truckin'

The remnants of the 60's still flashback to me.  Above we have the ubiquitous "Keep on truckin'' character from R. Crumb. 

Which reminded me of Richard Brautigan.  Brautigan once wrote, "All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds."  He also left a suicide note that read, "Messy, isn't it?"

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammels and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

July 19, 2012

My Definition


adj \ˈden(t)s\ 

Origin of DENSE

Latin densus; akin to Greek dasys thick with hair or leaves
First Known Use: 15th century
Known variances:
Definition of DENSE
a: marked by compactness or crowding together of parts <dense vegetation> <dense traffic> b: having a high mass per unit volume dense gas>
a: slow to understand : stupid, thickheaded dense to get the joke> b: extreme <dense ignorance>
: having between any two elements at least one element dense>
: demanding concentration to follow or comprehend <dense prose>
: having high or relatively high opacity dense fog> dense photographic negative>


noun \ˈmilt\

Origin of MILT

probably from Middle Dutch milte milt of fish, spleen; akin to Old English milte spleen — more at

First Known Use: 15th century
Definition of MILT
: the sperm-containing fluid of a male fish
: Milt or soft roe also refers to the male genitalia of fish when they contain sperm, used as food.
In many cuisines, milt is served fried.


Definition of DENSE MILT

noun \dens milt\

n:  minor cult figure in Vancouver music scene circa 1978-present <dens milt>

n: special hair tonic used to keep hair thick and awesome : thick hair headed dense milt and now I can't get my hair to lay flat> b: extreme dense milt?>
dens·milt: use with extreme caution ; may be habit forming

Learn More About DENSE MILT