Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Bum Also Rises

Even now, though ensconced in a lovely apartment, well-fed and nearly middleclass again, I go for walks, like in the old bummy days, endless seas of black asphalt and white divider, the shiny new cars that squeak when the owner comes, the little mounds of McDonalds garbage, the horizontal wall on which this old spider walks.

Hallelujah, I'm a bum.

Hallelujah I'm a bum again.

Sure, I have the apartment. But the income is slight. The apartment is subsidized. I tried to turn respectable by actually working. Didn't tell anyone. They found out. "Thief! Fraud-artist! Ne-er-do- well. You actually worked. WORKED. Lazy bastard! And you didn't tell us. You now pay regular rent!"

Law of diminishing returns.

Hallelujah, I'm a bum again.

There is a story of the Great Pinspotter in the Sky, the god who always places you where he thinks you belong--in the gutter.

I suppose we all subconsciously follow our fathers. This is too good for me, this life. I don't deserve it.

My father spent two years in a German concentration camp.

I guess subconsciously, I am following him, hard as I try to work everyway but loose. But then my father nearly made a million after coming to Canada. No backward progress for him. Myself, I pretty well wrote the book on backward progress, just like in the movie, "The Jerk".

Rags. To riches. Back to rags.

Place to live, but rent- poor. Rags again.

Hallelujah, a bum again.

Out in the parking lot, thoughtful masturbator that one is. It is a good time to test your philosophy, your zen, your I-Ching,your Plato. And Kierkegaard, especially Kierkegaard, Either-Or. It gets darkest before the light. There is great power in a vacuum. It all hangs, like a guy hanging off a big junkyard magnet by his steel belt buckle--on the subjunctive.. You will certainly be subjunctive once the power is turned off. Actually, you will be in the indicative, your Adidas sticking up out of all that junk. With Wittgenstein, you will surely become aware of the case.

Most people are no great shakes. Automatons. They seek money, goods, power, sex. The bum seeks these things too, but he's under some sort of spell. The disease of denial.

This is too good for me. I am shit. The vacuum.

What did the bum have for breakfast today? Well, actually, it was pretty good. Over at the Dominion, there were four packages of shaved roast beef, a little green, yes, but then what country boy doesn't know that a steak is only good when broiled while a trifle green? You hang the Mother up for a day or two.

The bum is more oriented by the mother than the father. The bum can sew, understand computers, cook like a chef. Play chess.

Father always away. The war. The concentration camp.

Father's pain leading to alcoholism. Kicks you in the ass, calls you a bum. Love the bastard though. Builds and sells three houses in ten years. Not bad, even by Forest Hill standards.Yet there is this gap. The bum had chosen to get an education.Turned into a cliche. Educated bum.

Education is a drawing out, to turn all those gestures and motions towards the self, turn them outward. You become articulate, your motions and moves are deliberate, like an actor's. Educated, you are put out into the world, but like Supertramp, you find out. Sensible. Logical. And Lord, won't somebody tell me who I am?

But...Leonard Cohen: You have to walk carefully. The game is rigged. The clear illusions of young adulthood. Hah. Slaughterhouse coming.

Stupid Catholic in a Masonic world. This they do not teach you in school. Leave politics to the politicians. Stay in the middle where you belong.

It is getting into the late afternoon. There is this success/failure feeling, the empty feeling. The vacuum.

I am shit.

Then something taupe-coloured rises unnaturally out of the black ashpalt. Wittgenstein: Figure and Foreground. A sentence is a word picture, all that. And for all of that, you have the brain of a squirrel, and a squirrel is wittier than you, knows what he's doing. There is an unnatural blotch on the black pavement, the green piece of paper, just before you come to a footbridge along a brook. It is stark and out of place. It is a twenty-dollar bill, the gold embossing shining in the afternoon sun.

He who tries to deconstruct the great dead men for being fools is really at an ass's bridge. But what a lucky ass.

I pluck forth the greenback.

Naked Came the Ukrainian

Not to be outdone by Jeff Wells, whose novel, Anxious Gravity (left) is published by Dundurn Press, I have taken it unto myself to produce an erotic book cover too, but not quite as starkers (or homoerotic?) as Jeff Well's' . You can bet your leaf it's going to be effective.

Here then, is the cover of my next novel, Naked Came the Ukrainian (right), though admittedly I am a fan of Sean Connery's.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Rumors that Andrew Krystal has a Christ complex are greatly exaggerated

My phone in radio pal, Andrew Krystal, has left CFRB Toronto to work in Halifax.

Halifax? Is that where they sent the founder of the Krystal Nation? Surely it wasn't because he may have pee-ohed the Pope.

Gotta say Andrew has a graphic sense.

I ain't no dinosaur

Recently, Aaron Braaten's terrific site, Grandinite has unoficially awarded my blog as "best blog written by an older dude".

Older dude?

I'd like you to know that I'm far from over the hill.

I am hep. I am the bee's knees. Twenty-three Skiddoo.
To Charleston, to Charleston! Amscray! Potrzebie!

I am so hep, any one of you young guys look like a friggin' frame.

You don't believe me?

Here's me and my Little Chickadee on a recent rave.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Politics and danger

Like many another whacko politician, I have been running for Mayor of Newmarket, not so much in the privacy of my mind, but, like a psychotic, actually doing it, with terrible results. So far, I have had three attempts on my life, have lost my position as a privat-docent at Seneca College, have had my campaign office burned to the ground and was nearly killed while trying to see Bill Clinton in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Some guys have all the luck.

All of this changes your world view. I think Norman Mailer says somewhere that when you are bright and about twenty-seven, you start off being parnoid. Then as you mature and become a force in the world, paranoia turns into reality. They really are out to get you.

Reinforced by that knowledge, and the recent resignation of Ontario's finance minister under a cloud of allegations, I'd like to posit to you that Regional Councils in Ontario are the children of the province. And if the province and the Cosa Nostra are in cahoots, boy, are we in trouble.

What follows is an organization chart of York Region's Council.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


There is a story by Howard J. Ruff, the wildly successful author of How to Profit During the Coming Bad Times where the great Main Street financial guru actually went broke to the point of using up everything in the fridge as his stocks tumbled and tumbled.

This will not do, said Ruff. You need stress reducing food, like roast beef, preserves, pickles.

So he sat down at his desk and invented Ruff Times, the most successful financial newsletter ever, along with two best sellers to follow in coming decades. He got into a pickle and ended up buying lots of pickles, millions of them.

Ruff times here too.

You can still buy pickles at the dollar store, but I'm really tired of smoking my own butts, drinking Listerine (don't worry about the skull and crossbones) and generally known around writing circles as a mooch.

My former wife, who had for years subsidized the aforesaid mooch while he worked on the great Canadian novel, soon told me that she was harboring a grudge, and that grudge was me. "Paint some furniture, Grudge, make yourself useful."

I am probably the most widely published author in Canada (counting internet). And also the poorest.

I know where it all comes from, a life that would make the philandering St. Augustine blush and a thirst that's crying out to God.

"No water-drinker ever wrote anything decent," says old Ovid. I make sure that I write good.

Art. All for art. You're a hell of a guy, Art. First you help me set the Toronto Star on fire and then as a reward you throw me in with a bunch of dumpster diving bums who are so stupid and bored that they make sexual advances toward old Ivan. Boy, they must be really bored. And if I'm not careful, so will I be.

Charles Bukowski, bum poet, with his cry of "Liquor!" and not "arsepeck" as some old vicar was yelling out in a now-dead television series.

Liquor, gotta get. And hookers. Must get hookers, now that it looks like I'll be able to get them through OHIP. I mean, I've been crazy for some time. It's a disability. Disabled Danes are trying for government-subsidized hookers. Why shouldn't I?

Poverty can make you crazy. It's making my friends crazy.

"How much is the touch for this time, Bunky?"

I have been rich. Richer, probably, than you'll ever be. A cool million.

But then I said to myself, "doesn't everybody?" and took off with a hooker that sent me half way to the moon. I narrowly avoided the AIDS. Who wants to spend a million just to get AIDS?

The feminists are right. Men think with their lower heads.

Yet there is this Hemingway quest for truth, "The upper head is hungry for truth, while the lower head will seek out any conquest possible. It would be noblest for a man to cut off his lower head and put a gun to his upper head."

Yeah, noble as hell.

A story is told about a brilliant American writer, Pietro di Donato who went to Hemingway with his book, Christ in Concrete.

"What do you know, you Wop? Immigrant writers never make it. They only record their crudities and show their awkwardness."

Ouch. Pietro di Donato wrote even better than Rosie di Manno.

But poverty, what can be said about poverty?

I went to James Polk when he was editor of ANANSI in Toronto. "Lend me twenty, Jim."

He answered, more or less, "Don't Jim me. We are not such good friends."

Ouch again. Much later, he was more generous and expansive. "Look at your you have an exciting life, you are involved in a ménage a troix, you drink to your heart's content and you've actually published a book. My life is full of dross and it is boring."

Oh well, now is the time to pay for all those superiorities.

Small wonder that I only got a 49 in Economics at Ryerson.

Upper head in the stars, lower head caught in a sling.

And I'm not that good at plucking stars.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Grandinite Dream Meme

What is a meme, you ask. I suppose it's one mind resonating, causing another to resonate. Favourite device of Aaron Braaten at ...Fart smucker, what? I didn't know half the things he knews at 27. Anyway, here's what he's laid out in his meme. I will try to provide some answers, as invited to.

1. If money were no object, what would you be doing with your life?

Nothing. I've already had money.

2. Money is just that - an object, so why aren’t you doing it?

I'd do an object? I'd do a totem pole? I'd do a chicken? Foul.

3. What’s better: horses or cows?

Not too fond of rural pursuits. "Hi there, Mr. Cow!" I do know a guy in Queensville who writes Valentines to Daisy and I've always been intrigued by the name of an old Hollywood actor, Forrest Tucker.

4. What do you think the secret to happiness is?


5. When was the last time you had a dream that you either remember well or did not want to awake from? Can you share a bit?

I am not like those four guys from California who watch a guy replacing a lightbulb so they can "share" the experience, but I'll lay a nightmare on you. I am, awake or asleep, pursued by The Hat People, the subject of a novel I have up on my web. The Hat People represent officialdom.

I guess I'm still one more asshole from Toronto who thinks he's Franz Kafka.

6. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Pilot. Damm near made it too. Went solo. Nothing like it.
Took the damn thing up all by myself with old Hank Snow
(I swear) through my earphones:

That big eight- wheeler rolling down the track
Means your true-lovin' daddy ain't comin' back
I'm rolling on

But I ended up just getting the Polish scholarship.
They found out I was born in the U.S.S.R. during a cold war.

7. Complete this statement: Love is . . .

Pierre Pettigrew says, as a representative of his government, that there is nothing wrong with that. It's accepted.

Love is a pain in the ass?

8. Can you tell a good story? (write one!)

You're not supposed to, as an artist, a cultivated person, write anything ugly, but here goes anyway:

My tapeworm left me this morning.

Now I'll have to walk alone.

The parting was far from amicable, downright traumatic, as the silvery nematode undulated somewhat gracefully this way and that in his bowl, the squarish head, light sensor on each side, seeming to say, "All right, wise guy, it was bad
enough not getting any mustard on that last dog, but now you';ve really pissed me off."

I knew something was wrong for weeks. The little bastard liked to roam around a lot at night, and sometimes he'd forget the way home and end up sleeping on my scrotum. Then, before I could say, "gotcha, you little bastard", he'd disapear faster than you can say "Tally ho! The Fox!."

The fox hunt went on for quite some time until, as an old Air Force guy, I thought of Agent Orange and where it could be gotten. Sure enough, down at Camp Petawawa, I saw some denuded trees (along with at least one denuded Warrant Officer). I plucked forth the nearest branch, rotten apple and all. I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

That was the night before I gave the eviction notice to my
tapeworm. He ignored it to his peril.

There he is, splashing around in his bowl. Aggressive bastard, really. Didn't realize tapeworms were fully equipped with scuba gear. They are aquatic. And they like to roam around at night sometimes. Creepy, what?

"This is hurting me more than you. Parasites are supposed to clean out the intestines. Too much bowel cancer around."

"Fuck off," said the tapeworm.

9. Can you remember your last daydream? What was it about?

I had a hardcover copy of a novel about the same size as John Updike's Borzoi book, with my name on the cover.

Damn it, I will yet write like John Updike even if I become Ivan Prokopchuk, author of Roger's Version.

10. If you were to thank someone today, who would you thank?

Goodnight, Mrs. Kalabash, wherever you are.