Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Last exit to Toledo

While envy may be igorance and imitation suicide, I am almost tempted to emulate the lady bloggers and all their notes as to what they did over the Labor Day Weekend.

I went to Hamilton, Ontario, which is a lot like Toledo, Ohio, a steeltown, all of which made for an almost guaranteed crappy time.

But a crappy time is sometimes an indication that you're going to write something, the hesitancy before the quantum leap. How much Hamilton is like Baltimore, say, all the attempted urban renewals, bums on the main drag; the real life is up on the Mountain, where the rich suburbanites are. My sisters are all up there. They are middleclass, have been middleclass for a long time, and old Ivan, who once aspired to avoid the middle and head straight for the upper--has suddenly f*cked up and is now the poor relation.

Oh how nice it had been to lecture under the oak trees of old Seneca College, the kids nipping and tucking at you, throwing their frisbees at the old prof, hoping he'd catch, but more likely to bean old Mr. Chips.

Gone, all gone. Nasty-uglies had taken over the administration. Empire builders. Unlettered assholes who got into the community college system without any paper. How easy for intelligent thugs to knock over dreamy, ivory tower Phd's and us Masters of F*ck All. The students got in the way of empire building and were seen as a necessary evil. A headship, that was the game."I'm going to build an empire, boy. I'lm going to build it on tone and nuance. Tone and nuance, that's the thing. Like a play. A play on words. Students can take things two ways. A smart man can make a student lose his balance. Sure, I manipulate the students. But that's only for their own good. Teach them about the world."

"I'll give you a headship!"I used to yell at my imaginary adversaries at the bar.

"Academics are slime," I am crying in my beer.

"You used to be an academic," my pal the photographer pipes up.

I came across one of the young Turks in the liquor story parking lot. "I'm not sure I should be talking to you."

"Well la-di-da. Who the fuck are you?"
"I'm gonna build me an empire boy. On tone and nuance."

Fact is, I was untenured and they had somehow gotten tenure. Something of a cabal. If you were in with the director of student affairs, you were in. Then you got your paper from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education--whatever the fuck they study. Recently, of course, OISIE got to be part of the University of Toronto...But none of the empire builders completed the courses. They went to Niagara Community College in Buffalo, or somewhere instead. No matter. Paperwork or no paperwork, once in, you were in.

It was the money that made teachers struggle thus.

A headship was $ 80,000 oldfashioned dollars a year.
Small wonder that entire courses of students would drop out, abandon the vows, quit their specialties.
Not so bad that there were empire builders at the college. Some of the course heads had been making sexual advances.

I was for the moment, safe. I had a column in the suburban Star. This gave me protection.

I gave up the column to concentrate on the teaching.

"Ah, Ivan, said the college's real academic, an MD and teacher of same. . You are now just plain Ivan. One of us."

I countered by having a novel serialized. That held them off.

But soon the huns were at the gates, the gates of Ivan's office.

I finally had enough and quit.
"Got your scalp nailed up on my wall," said one of the thugs at my going-away party."

"You quit your job?" says wife.
"Get out of my house."

Amazing how you can lose everthing overnight. Just like a poor hardworking Polack who had no idea of where he lived or among whom he moved. Then he quits his job. To be immediately grabbed by other Polacks who were sharper and faster.

Got the Polack mark again, just like all my C's at the University of Toronto.

Ah well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Nobody had told me to succeed. I just had. Self-made man..

"You deliberately want to be a bum," canny parents are chiding.

"Social contract is $35,000 a year,"says wife.

Somebody has f*cked up my job.

Somebody is riffing my wife, the husband the last to know.

Ain't life grand, Bunky?

So you attempt one of the grand comebacks. You get a stunning girlfriend. You come back to teach nights at the college. "Ivan's back," they all say.

Ah, but if you quit your job to find out something about life, you might find out too much, wishing, in fact, you'd never gone.

The divorce settlements. Lost of home. Loss of family. Loss of sanity. Oh, is the gun ever loaded!

Don't you dare ever to leave a comfortable situation to find out something about life.

It's not worth finding out. Like me in my quest for the Gilgemesh legend through a mountain of clay tablets.
There is nothing there but poor half-gay Gilgemesh, his pal the wild man (Beetlejuice from the movie?) and some god in a pinetree who is killed for nothing while the Wild Man gets a BJ from the world's first documented hooker.

That is the story. That is the whole story.
Stick to the Talmud. You'd be better off. Those cats had lived. Really lived. Not for nothing the soothing words of psalms.

So, my Labor Day trip to Hamilton. Shat upon by my sisters. But, appreciated, of course, by my mother. The primal relationship!

My mother is more than ancient. She is FN-99-----------
F*cking near 100.

I am FN-70. F*cking near seventy.

What's poor Gilgemesh going to do?

Will try not to write anything ugly any more and work at the important things in life.

Which are literature and poetry.

"Come all you mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be cowboys."


doubtingthomas said...

People from Hamilton go to Mimico-by-the-Sea for their holidays.

Tom F-N 60

ivan said...

Ha ha ha ha.
Yeah, I passed Mimico on my way back home. Kinda reminded me of a real swell place in Calcutta called The Black Hole. Acres of people and the lake too polluted to swim in.
But the Palais Royale,that former home of all the jazz greats, including Ellington, is getting ready to open again. One of my acquaintances, guy named Peppiatt produced possibly the best movie about the Canadian Mafia there, titled, in fact, Palais Royale.
Ballsy thing to do for a CBC drama.
...Possibly the only good CBC drama.

Oh, Tom: What's with poor Antonia Zerbisias? Seems to have gotten so stressed witht the politics and the BS over at her rattlesnake-infested column that she just got up from her terminal one day and
effed-off. Checked the Star blog site today and still no Tony.
Second-last blog has me as a correspondent, begging all those redneck commentators not to ask me to grunt like a pig. LOL.

R.J. Baker said...

You must go to your Cedar Forrest and kill your demon...your time grows short and your demon grows large.

And, "Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks,
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such."

R.J. Baker said...

P.S. Been to Hamilton, very industrialized. Isn't there a castle there of some note. Anyway, I was there years ago while in lawschool, trying to save a doomed marriage. It didn't work, but I liked the town.

ivan said...

R. J.


You are almost quoting The Epic of Gilgemesh for real, not in the flippant way I approched this world's first actual novel, claytabbletted about 5,000 years ago.
Gilgemesh had to kill Umbabba, perehsps his demon.

The Wild Man may have been an electric oud player. I don't know.

.....Certainly from the standpoint or seven beers.

ivan said...

R. J.

Yeah. Hamilton. I have roots there.

Dundurn Castle quite a nostalgic
pioneer spot. Hamilton has lots of class if you know where to find it, usually the local historical society.

Just realized you had hit me with the Gilgemesh legend and Willie Nelson at the same time.
Pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

> Howdy Ivan
> I've been trying for the past half hour to get your blog response 'service' to send you an e-mail.
> Apparently, I just cannot 'reply' in less than '300 characters max' ... despite repeated attempts ... and a much diminished 'quality' of writing within the response ...
> Thus, I am replying to your long weekend Blog entry via my own damn e-mail where I can write as I please, without the unnecessary constraints of arbitrary software.
> Hooray for 'cut' and 'paste' ...
> "has suddenly fucked up" ...suddenly?
> Really Ivan, you've got to start taking some credit for all those decades of debauchery, deceit, duplicity, despair, delusion, depression and ...
> (let us never forget) delights, depravities, indescretions and ...
> (let's face it) having a helluva good time.
> "suddenly" just doesn't cut it;
> you built your house brick by brick, row by row,
> every window an opening into a roomfull of memories (and/or nightmares),
> every doorway an entrance or an exit from some place or other, some one or other ...
> Face it (and yourself) ... It's been a good life.
> It IS a good life ... life is good.
> "poor relation" ... only if you're tallying up bank account balances rather than life experiences ...
> Peace and Love
> Perseverance Furthers
> Richard
> PS: sorry I haven't written (or called) ... my breathing damn near completely failed me this summer; I'm just starting to be able to inhale again ... and I mean inhale AIR ...
> Damn tourists descend on this town like a plague ... a plague of tour buses, idling bumper to bumper along EVERY major downtown street ... they completely fill the curb lane in front of the parliament buildings which would be a No Parking ticket for the likes of you or I, but somehow, parking and idling those filthy diesel smog makers all day is completely legal, acceptable and 'good for tourism' ...
> unfortunately, for many residents of this capital city, tour bus tourism is not good for breathing; I'm obviously one of them ...
> Moving? As soon as I can.
> --
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> Version: 7.1.405 / Virus Database: 268.12.0/439 - Release Date: 06/09/2006

ivan said...

Richard Cuyler,

Sorry pal.
Didn't know my blog response was giving people trouble.

Come in any way you like.
Come in by e-mail and I will cut and paste myself if I have to.

Thanks for the mirror image.

Fart smastard.

I like smart people.

doubtingthomas said...

Didn't I say this was Ivan's Salon? Old friends drop in, new people stop by and leave as friends. The interweb is a great tool.

I remember the Hamilton TV station had pro wrestling TWICE on Saturday and a froggy looking guy named Norm? that did the evening news. Oh yeah, and Al Boliska hosted "Party Game" with Jack Duffy, Billy Van, and Dinah Christie.

Better yet was "Eyewitness News" with Irv Weinstein from Buffalo. I think the station was next to the fire hall because they always had lots of house fire stories. Joke: Why do they cancel Eyewitness News for two weeks every spring? Answer: The spring rains make it too wet for the houses to burn! (Rimshot)


ivan said...

Egad Tom,
You should be president of the Hamilton Historical Society, at least in Fifties history.

Yeah, old Pop-eyed Norm Marshall, and we even had claim on Irv Weinstein of Buffal Evening News.

I remember interviewing Dina Christie for the Oakville Journal Record and realizing how really pretty she was besides the talent.
And Jack Duffy was kinda cool too, sort of a quasi Wayne Shuster.

Yeah, a house fire every day in Buffalo; wasn't until years later
that I realized Johnny Papalia ran the mob both in Hamilton and Buffalo and even New York City.
Now Hamilton reduced to only four Mafia families.
Ah Hamilton. You could always find a place to fit it in, Yakshamayesh City, not Poles apart if you were a Pole. Sort of like little Chicago if you were a Ukie working for Essex Packers. I should have been Hamilton's Mike Royko, but I was too young.
I had literary pretensions in the early Sixties and would hang with
McMaster folk, the coffee houses like The Black Swan, the great blues places; a swell bar in Westdale near thre university whose name I forget for some reason.
Conway Twitty at Hanrahan's. Ronnie Hawkins.

59 Mercs with sex lights, dropped and chopped, "People See Us Everywhere" on the radio,
"Who Put the Meat in the Meteor" our theme song as we made out in our father's cars.
The Dairy Queen, the drive-in.
American Graffiti, as we were vaguely American, so close to the border; always in Buffalo to drink under age.
Where the hell was Barbara Amiel, Steeltown literary gal, I wanted to know, but it wasn't until I hit Toronto that I managed to see her at Le Place Pigalle arguing with her then-husband, George Jonas. But that was Yorkville, Canada's Haight-Ashbury,quite another story; Bernie Fiedler at the Riverboat, me shooting the shit with Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Cockburn. Arguing down poets who used to sell their poetry right on Yorkville, and me published just next door;
meeting my old poet friends from The Black Swan, on heroin now, saying "'I was so much younger then; I'm older than that now."
Carmelita! Yeah.
I think Richard, above, was right.
I had the good times, even then.
Don't know, Tom, if you were into theatre when young. Under Milkwood in high school and later at the cofee houses where for the first time I made money as an actor. Stewart Brown, I recalled as a promising and later accomplished writer. Went on to review our acting efforts for the Hamilton Spectator.
Those were the days, my friend.

Belle said...

Howdy Ivan,

Thanks so much for stopping by my site. I'm hoping "Slider of a blog" is a good thing ;)


ivan said...

Welcome Belle.
Jaye Wells, who sometimes visits these pages is from Texas too and Jaye's Blahg sometimes gets the wind up and draws about a zillion responses.

Slider? Well, you get there, like all winners.

Shesawriter said...

"I am FN-70. F*cking near seventy."


ivan said...


ivan said...


Doubting Thomas (above) complains he's FN-60.

I see by your blog that you're writing again. Good, Tanya.

I am amazed at how you young chicks
seem to be running circles around us old crows. Migod, novels about to come out. And agents.

Last thing I signed, I think, was the Magna Carta.

At the Battle of Hastings, I looked kinda good in an Arrow.
Went to the shirt people, but they'd already hired that Hathaway guy. Bill Shakespeare or somebody.

Ah well. The nice thing about writin' is that you can do it at any age.
Keep the faith. Uphold the right!

Anonymous said...

so gaseous ...
truly and udderly gacious
gratiously grate us

Good to see and read your words again Ivan.
There was a whole lot more written in that response;
stuff about poor and who cares
sure we got fuck all to show
but who the hell gives a damn about show and tell anymore
kids and their toys
bigger kids play with bigger toys

There is No Way that 'shopping' provides your fat ass sisters
(don't ask me how I know 'that', I just 'know')
even a smidgen of anything remotely akin to the sort of enlightenment
irregularly but frequently punctuating the eventfull realities of lives truly lived.

... say, for instance, like when you were huddled up in the back seat of that derelict hatchback, barely warm under a pile of old blankets, coats and clothes, listening to CBC rebroadcast the short wave news of the world from all over the world ... little gems of extraneous awareness illuminating otherwise incomprehensible synergies extending from the frost encircled bastion back seat of a vehicle that could no longer perform vehicular function out to the furthest reaches of the planet and all its magnificent intellectual resources in full functionality ... and back again ... to inspiration, conversation and ... eventually ... another book.

Glad you enjoyed the scraps of text that are all that remains after hacking away at the original text to try to 'fit' into 300 characters ...

The stuff about the tenure and the 'academic' gamesmanship is probably right on ... I bailed out of that circus when I watched the hoops and knives game being set up.

Hoop #1 ... jump through or get a knife in the back
Jump through and get a knife in the back anyway
Or maybe no knife (yet), just Hoop #2 ... jump through or get a knife in the back
Jump through and get a knife in the back anyway
or maybe no knife (yet), just Hoop #3 ... jump through or get a knife in the back
Jump through and get a knife in the back anyway
or maybe no knife (yet), just Hoop # ......

I hit 'Escape' and I'm still on the run (and I have the knives in my back to prove it too ... some of them were even damn near fatal ... but I'm still alive ... and, thankfully, so are you.

Keep on writing; I'll check in when I can.
The medical situation just got 'worse' ... looks like this may be some kind of 'allergic reaction' ...
but Lyme Disease is the current query being tested (just 'tested' ... we'll know in a couple of weeks.
Living situation blew up SHOUTING tonight ... calm now, but that kind of stuff is never 'good' ...
No viable alternative yet ... and winter coming fast, eh.

Peace and Love
Perseverance Furthers

----- Original Message ----

ivan said...

Thanks, Rick.

ivan said...

I knew there was some reason I turned off the Jon Stewart rerun and curled up with a big case of beer in front of my monitor.
Somethin' was coming in.
Good thing my computer was awake at about the time I passed out.
It pinged me somehow.

Oh god. Now I have to drink another case just to come down.

Thanks for the epiphany. We have both been there.
Damn. Damn. Old Newfoundland observation: "Every man's gotta eat a tonna shit."
We've got to change our diet!

doubtingthomas said...

Shakespeare...keepin' it reel.

My old buddy pal Fred the Electrician told me, "Life is a like a shit sandwich; the more bread you have, the less shit you have to eat."

Ain't it the truth. Who gives a ratz if nobody gets the pun up a paragraph or two?

H.E.Eigler said...

**girl who just had a birthday and celebrated by getting a fish tattoo peeks around corner quietly**

"I'm FN-30!!"

**girl quickly ducks back around corner as rocks are hurled in her direction**

ivan said...

Happy belated birthday, Heather.
No rocks.
I think you might rock.
As a writer.

ivan said...

Doubting Thomas:

Trouble is, every time I get the bread, I invest in Goodenham and Worts, with pretty well the same results for both me and that once- famous distiller of Scotch whiskey.

Josie said...

Bureaucrats run the world, didn't you know? And the stupider they are the more power they have.

My daughter did a semester at McMaster when she was getting her degree in speech pathology.

I have never been to Hamilton, but I have been to Sudbury. I could chew the air.


ivan said...

Yeah, Josie,

Bureacrats do run the world. And we somehow let them.

Hamilton not quite as bad as Sudbury. I could hardly find a tree in and around Sudbury last time I was there...And everywhere the bare rocks.
Silver Foam used to be a good beer,though.
And the money around Sudbury seemed so clean!
Ah, memories of hangin around McMaster. Sweet.

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

Please, Ivan, continue to write about the ugly things, because you do it so well.

ivan said...

Why thank you Kimber!

Just when I was about to do a Sylvia Plath!

But my stove is electric!