Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Uncle Tommy Was a Commie

The freelance writing is not going all that well, the bank account dwindles fast.
I told myself I would write at least 800 words a day, but all I can come up with his shit tlike this:

"I'm so glad you're not a Communist, Ivan" the lady named Forrestal gushed one day in my creative writing class.
She was the wife of the board of directors at Seneca College and one mention from me of the "dance of the dialectic" or somesuch would have led me straight to the welfare rolls. Don't want no commies working at the college, especially when one part of the beatiful stonework preserve had been reserved for busines conventions and another part for a golf course. Wilderness at the back.
We were all here because of development, development and the Florentine princes that run our region had to be ensured there were no pinko commie faggots on faculty. There was no House of un-Canadian activities, of course, but it was understood that pinkos were not welcome, unless, of course, you visited China as an exchange teacher now and again. Business is business! And in the case of the Chinese visits, monkey business!

Square peg in a round hole. A teacher of writing who was not only bourgeois, but a damn good bourgeois, no fan of Ayn Rand but no stranger to Karl Marx, whose major premise seemed to be, "Damn all your philosophy, history and classical economics. The world just doesn't have enough to eat!"

And: The only thing worth writing about is how bad it feels to be down and out.

Oh I might as well say it on. I was a closet Marxist.
Oh sure, I had all the trappings, the exurban Victorian clunker of a house in the exurbs, two south-seas vacations every winter, the 2.3 required beautiful children of "the nuclear familiy", the intelligent wife and really fine threads leaning toward velour tops and brushed jeans. Shod in $100 Wallabees.

Yet all my writing had to do with the maintenance of swimming pools, the fast, deadly rubber of bridge and my travails on putting up a deck on my Lake Simcoe cottage.

I had to gain some real experience in life. I had to go down to the centre of the edifice. I had to write about being down and out. I had to become a bum.

This is fairly easily done.
In a society where you can lose everything overnight, the quitting of a job soon leads to a dwindling bank account, bad sexual performance (you are now unemployed), people dropping you socially and a wife who wants to argue.

So you do a Siddhartha, that other fool, and wander, Ghandi-like to all the hell holes of the earth in hopes of enlightenment, at least enlightenment as a writer.

Sure wish I'd never gone.

Kinky sex in strange beds.
Divorce lawyers.
Wife clamoring for support.
Shotgun-totin' husbands.

Being so broke that no woman would have you, your poor abused sexual organs shrunk to the size of walnuts, and then, only then will there rise an Isis beside the dumpster who will get it all back for you. Aha.
Approaching a landing pad in the underworld.

But then you go down deeper, really down this time, uncomfortably close to that sewer pipe of the universe.
This is where you finally falter and yell for rescue.

The book? The manuscript you had intended to produce? No time. No time. Too busy surviving.

And then you wake up in the morning realizing that Maybe Karl Marx should have gotten a job, and perhaps
Yeshua should have married Miriam and been a good Jewish boy like everybody else.

Yet why do I begin so many short stories with a lift out of the Talmud:

"Life lays down strange paths for men to tread upon in the dark"

Heaven forbid I should have come across an ass' bridge that made me think that all the world's great men were assholes.
And Karl Marx too?

"Yes, and Karl Marx too," said Mrs. Forrestall as she got into her Cadillac.
But her parking lights had not gone off automatically and she needed a battery boost.

From me.
There just happened to be a battery in the dumpster.
Inside a blue box


Whoops, I did it again (Sorry Britney).
Instead of writing for money, I got no money.
And ain't it grand.


eric1313 said...

It's grand entertainment in my book!

To bad there's not a nation filled with millions of me, Josie, Pam, shesawriter, Tara and all the rest.

It might be one fucked up place, but you'd sell a lot of copy.

And you could write like this every day.

peace and see you around, Ivan.

ivan said...


Thans, Eric!

ivan said...

Sh'd read Thanks, Eric!.

Donnetta Lee said...

Oh, and so life goes. Flows from the Collective Unconscious, dontchya know. Those 800 words or so that start out with a concrete purpose and then take an ethereal direction. Turns and twists of time. You know how to set them in motion with your words. Just give them a fatherly push and there the little ones go, taking on a life of their own based on your life. Love it.

ivan said...

A big thank -you for the appreciation as well.

Eric has an interesting thought.
What if the world were filled with us Quarks and fellow-travellers.
Oh how quickly the roar of the "Bull" would subside.
Instead of flyers in your mail, you might get Quark notes.
And we would hunt down spam, political and medical.

Maybe even light up and relax. :)

benjibopper said...

I've always found the writing to be the easy part. It's selling the shit that comes off my keyboard that's difficult.

ivan said...

I am of two minds on this.
Mini-masterpieces are always good sellers, and mini-masterpieces sell.
I thinks it's a matter of getting inside and staying inside.
I think right now I'm outside the "in" group.

Josie said...

Hey, Ivan, wassup with your computer? How come you're logging on as ivan said...?

Tara has closed her blog. :-(


ivan said...

My Anti-virus guard seems to be working overtime as great Asian dollops of birds' nest soup come my way in the form of spam ranging from plastic vaginas complete in every detail ("makes you feel as if you're having a virgin") to pills I can take to enlarge my poor penis.
My home page is Microsoft and I've been cliking onto some things...Migod, you click onto Paris Hilton once and all sorts of goodies seem to come your way, along with the plastic vaginas (batteries not supplied).
I think I'm having a heart attack. :)

ivan said...


Ever since I switched to Google Beta, I have been unable to properly access my own blog for comment in the usual way; so I have to use all sorts of tricks to access my own blog and other people's blog.
I seem to work best when having technical problems rather than a clear Google path...somehow comes with the territory. I believe I am a born crisis manager.
However, my AVG virus guard tells me that an eighth of my e-messages are spam and maybe that's part of my problem.
Ah well. We are operating on three cylinders(or maybe I'm just short a cylinder), but we are operating.

Tara has scrubbed her blog?
That is odd.
What's up with "Inside Our Hands, Outside Our Herats" Tara?

Tara, I know you're listening.
You are a marvellous poet and we will surely miss your love poetry.


p.s. to Josie,

There are minute power fluctuations both with the local Hydro and my building proper; maybe that's my problems with Google.
My poor techie is beset by heavy-duty family matters and I hat to bug him.

ivan said...


I think "She's a Writer" had it right in a comment some weeks ago.

HAL 2OOO out of Kubrik's movie, 200l, as astgronaut Dave begins to dismantle the errant computer:

"I am losing my mind, Dave.
"I can feel it.
I can feel it!"

Shesawriter said...

At least you're writing something. I'm stuck in a thick stew of mud and I can't pull myself out. ARGH!

ivan said...


I don't know if you get your best ideas at 3:30 a.m., but it works for me.
Trick is to get a few notes down, and if you're a schizo like me, half the dialogue. :)
Then you can get back to sleep.

eric1313 said...

Trying to talk T into getting her blog back up. She shouldn't withdraw from the field when so many people like what she does.

It's good to encourage folks. I always try. And Tara doesn't need so much encouragement. She does her work naturally.

And thank you for your wishes and condolences. She's with me now, prompting good deeds and kind words.

Better than the ghost of Stalin following me around, I'd say.

Take care.

ivan said...


This has to be a silver lining in the black cloud that seems to have descended on you and yours...I guess Tara is going through something too.
I am so glad that the two of you are together. Seems you both are emotional, passionate people, as poets are. I do hope you talk Tara into putting her blog back up.
I opine that the Quarks will simply not let her pull back her blog! It is widely read and makes us think of the days (me anyway) when we hadn't yet lost the touch and thrill of having beatiful lovers. Somebody just made a movie of this state of mind and body, out of Canada. I dasn't repeat the
title. It can now be had on DVD.
"Young People (doing what?)"
As for old Uncle Joe, I did indeed have an uncle who was a stone Commie. This had mixed results.
He supported my bad habits, but I was very nearly indoctrinated into the Lenin school.
Have you ever met any real communists? They are supremely self-possessed and have this control freak thing that nearly drives you mad. They want to run everyting, even your bowel movements, it seems. Nasty people,

I'd better end this reply before Glogger/Google throws me a weird skeet. I yell "Mark" and Google gives me a "Pull" and thows my charge of shotgun shell into the stratosphere.

Condolences for your loss, Eric.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ivan:

My sincere thanks for your concern. All is well, I think, except some blood pressure issues; I am the beneficiary (victim?) of a particularly thorough cardiologist who had drawn pints of blood, had me pee in plastic cups, and subjected me to humiliating and awkward procedures (the prostate's fine, thanks), apparently with the goal of keeping me alive.

... Go ahead and use my prose however you see fit. Unlike novelists, poets, etc., journalists are accustomed to seeing their work turn up in unlikely places -- I commonly find my pieces on the Hells Angles news site, lifted verbatim, copied and pasted, and once had a headline billing on a white supremacist site in the Deep South whose operators took umbrage at my reporting on a jail sentence for a man (in York Region, actually) who got four years in the slam for an extended and vitriolic campaign of hate-letter writing (the recipients, interestingly, including Chief La Barge and the Prime Minister).
So the way I look at it is that the words I generate are like -- I don't know -- space junk, drifting through the infinity that is the Internet. Attribution is a plus, but not generally anticipated.
(I have many more memories of the West, including clinging, terrified to the face of a mountain I never should have attempted to climb and sharing an evening lolling naked in a natural hot sulfur pool deep in a cave with mushroom-eating hippies. Who needs college?)


ivan said...

Editor Slick just sent me an apreciation of your abilities:


no question Ivan. Don't know why they don't give him a regular column, but they often balk at the irreverent or controversial. One reason I stopped writing my blog. Damn fools.
all the best

ivan said...


Like any self-respecting cannibal, I will happily reprint your second-last note to me.
It came after Doubting Thomas, out of Calgary had sent me an emai which I cc'd to you and some folks:

Hey, Ivan:

When I first saw the tag line on the mail I assumed you were in Calgary and wondered what the hell you were doing there; then I realized it was a reply line. But it's funny, the rush of excitement mention of the town can sometimes induce. It's been years since I've strolled down the streets of that rollicking city. There are times when life here in the East weighs heavily on me that I pine for Alberta. Or Maybe it's youth.
I remember one day walking down a street in Banff, broke, with a pal from Saskatchewan who was nearly as impecunious, wondering how a) I'd afford a pitcher of draft and b) he'd fix himself up with some smokes. Suddenly at my feet on the pavement there was a $5 bill, which in those days went a ways. A few steps further on I stooped at a whim and picked up a discarded Export 'A' pack and found it full of cigarettes. Magic. Or karma. I don't know but it was a great day. The five bucks staked me to a spot at a table full of similarly itinerate buddies in the Cascade Saloon and we drank all afternoon. and my pal from the prairies had enough smokes to share. (The downside of this tale -- and what is a tale without a downside -- is that eventually I ended up married to a girl from Winnipeg, which was not all negative but in retrospect seems unnecessary, given the breadth of opportunity the territory presented a young man. And finally, in Toronto, she took off with a keyboard player, of all the things.)
Thought about you the other day (the day I got this letter, in fact) because I was briefly in Newmarket, there to be probed at an ultrasound clinic where I viewed images of my own organs and arteries and heard my heart at work (sounded disturbingly like an under-inflated basketball being dribbled inexpertly on a wet driveway ... yeek). This was an experience I hope I never have to endure again.
What a time: cardiologists, bifocals, liniment with my nightcap ...
But I reckon it beats the alternative.
All the best, man. Thanks for writing.


ivan said...


Oh man. Don't I love those coming-of-age anecdotes!

eric1313 said...

Uncle Commie? That terrible, and yet pretty funny. I've never met one, but I do imagine them as you say.

And about Tara, we're not together, but I am her friend, regardless, and it might be my fault she pulled her blog. I feel that way.

But yes, she should come back! She's got a young outlook, a permanent rose glow view of the world. Hope springs eternal in her words.

Thanks for the wishes, I'm off to Detroit.

Later on, Ivan. Take care.

And drop by!

Sienna said...

Oh no, Tara has stopped blogging; no no no, no can do, no can do; so creative, sensuality, emotional, kindness!! Beauty...she might be really busy and can't find time p'raps..

This is sad Ivan.

Could we petition her?

We, the undersigned:

hereby declare reinstatement of Taras World, just so natural and beautiful, and the music thingo! that was fun.

Maybe xmas time just gets really hectic, with her studies and stuff and kids, maybe Tara will get some free time in the new year.

See I've almost talked myself into her coming back, Liz and Tara might be able to do joint blogging/writing

Gotta be a way. gotta.


ivan said...


I hope Eric has talked Tara into resuming her blog.

I will cut and paste your comment, and hope I can find Tara's email and send it to her.


H.E.Eigler said...

Well hey, when you figure out how to make money be sure to share the secret with me wont'cha??

Happy Holidays Prof,


ivan said...

Hi Heather,

And happy Holidays to you too.

I think I made the most money while really in the middle of my own novel, CANADIAN GIGOLO.
I think I really had talent in that department.

Some kid beat me to it, however with a tome called Goldenrod, on which he made some money, though the book was self-published.
Gee, I wonder if I could find it if I googled. Yeah, Goldenrod. Me and the other kid. Performance art!

Nowadays I can't find anything!

ivan said...

To Jeff Mitchell,

Editor John Slick really comes out with some snappers, don't he?

Here is an old clipping I found:

Pefferlaw dog attack leaves victim shaken
Apr 12, 2006
John Slykhuis, Staff Writer

A huge, raging dog "shook me like a rag doll" in a frightening attack last Friday, a Keswick man said this week.

Kevin Sarasin said he's lucky to be alive after a 160-pound Tibetan bull mastiff tore into him while he was visiting his father, Roy, in Pefferlaw.

It was supposed to have been a day to celebrate.

"My fiancee (Stephanie McBride) and I found out we were going to have a baby boy after the ultrasound and we were going to bring my dad the good news," Mr. Sarasin said.

After chatting with his father and his father's friend, they noticed a car driven by Kevin's sister Christine Sarasin pull into the driveway.

"We noticed the dog from next door was outside. I opened the front door and sort of shooed it home and he just lunged at me. I didn't have a chance. He grabbed me by the arm, spun me around and dragged me down. He just shook me like a rag doll."

That's when an outraged Christine took action.

"My sister chased it off with a rake, pretty brave. She saved my live," he said.

Police and paramedics were called and he was taken to the hospital to treated for a lacerated arm, deep bites in his side, one near his spine and several punctures and torn muscles. One spot was behind my left knee, near the tendon. They said I was pretty lucky."

Police did not charge the owner, but Georgina municipal enforcement officials are expected to have the animal declared vicious.

Mr. Sarasin said the Tibetan bull mastiff, named Twilight, dug under the fence to get loose. "And it wasn't the first time," Mr. Sarasin said.

The dog is now in mandatory quarantine at the Georgina animal shelter where staff members said he is very aggressive and hostile.

The unidentified owner is being urged to have the dog destroyed. Until then, as an official "vicious" dog, the owner will be required it be securely fenced and muzzled when off the property.

Further legal action my be pending.

Mr. Sarasin, a 30-year-old punch press operator, said he'll be off work for at least a week as he recovers from his injuries.

Tibetan bull mastiffs, which were used to guard monasteries in Tibet, can weigh up to 170 pounds and on their hind legs top six feet in height. They are being used as watchdogs in Canada and are often not friendly to humans.
According to a dog breeders' website they require "consistent and firm training".

It is the second vicious dog attack in a month in Georgina.

Last month, Barbara Cripps and her dog, Rex, were attacked by two dogs that were loose from their property in Keswick, inflicting serious wounds to the Belgian shepherd and bites and bruises to Ms Cripps. These dogs have also been declared vicious.

Rambled by Conners at Monday, May 01, 2006

It is smalll wonder that John was always the editor and you and I had to somehow stumble underfoot.
The Slick guy really knew how to get to the heart of the matter when it came to journalism. This story was about a dog, but no dog!

Tara said...


Many thanks for sending pams message. I just don't know.

ivan said...


All the Quarks and Quark sympathisers want you blog back.

You are missed.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I have no words Ivan.

ivan said...

The mad Dane Kierkegaard says there have to be words. Otherwise there is nothing.
...But then we're all a little mad.

t said...

can't I just stay here for a litte while... curl up on the couch and cry myself to sleep?

ivan said...

Ah, who remembers l952:

Johnny Ray and The Four Lads

(Churchill Kohlman)

If your sweetheart sends a letter of goodbye
It's no secret you'll feel better if you cry
When waking from a bad dream
Don't you sometimes think it's real?
But it's only false emotions that you feel

If your heartaches seem to hang around too long
And your blues keep getting bluer with each song
Remember sunshine can be found behind a cloudy sky
So let your hair down and go on and cry

ivan said...


Pam, Josie and the Quarks and quark manques all want you back.

T said...

Tell them how sweet of them and I appreciate them. But I just do not know.

ivan said...

That's a Roger and a Wilco.

T said...

Ladybug, ladybug where are you are? Why does time befriend me
if only it would fly away home
and take with it ... all of me.

ivan said...

Ladybug, ladybug.
Fly away home
The cow's in the meadow
The sheep's in the corn!

T said...


I like it here. can I stay a while longer?

ivan said...

Be my guest.

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