Friday, February 29, 2008

Funny things happen on Leap Day. How dead Tim Horton and dead "Lightnin'" saved my life

On the night Lightnin' Hopkins died, I was really singing the blues.
My most recent dutchess had given me the old Ray Charle "Hit the road, Jack", had taken my typewriter, guitar, all my manuscripts and even my black Speedo pants.

(I was about to say, in this story, "Naked,Came I", but it was certainly more like went )

It was the night I had landed a job as a freelance feature writer for the Star (again).
Deadline was tomorrow, and I had no machine.
Not even the guitar to play my blues on.

"Oh woman, oh woman
You treat me so mean.
You're the meanest woman
that I've ever seen"

"What"s got into you?" I am protesting, as she applies her platform to my sorry ass.

"You owe me forty thousand dollars," she yells.

"Forty thousand dollars? What are you talking about"

"We have been together for four years and you were pretty well unemployed the whole time. Four times ten (to keep you going) makes forty."

"But I am an artist, Martha"

"Artist all right. More like Gigolo."

"Martha, you can't take my means of livelihood, my typewriter, my guitar."

"What livelihood? You just play that guitar to try to impress the Welfare Lady when she comes by.
"And knowing you, you'd have her half-f*cked before she pulls out her clipboard...And you'd have her purse too.

I am stumbling down the stairs, yelling up, "Martha, this is illegal. That's my stuff.

"Forty thousand dollars!" she yells down.

"So what are you doing, charging for it now?"

A flying high-heeled boot drives me out the door.

And I ain't gonna see her no mo'?

Definitely a Lightnin' Hopkins experience.

Sitting in an all night Tim Horton's.

Funky Y108 Hamilton radio station on.
They are playing the blues.
Seem to be playing a lot of Lightnin' Hopkins.

Thinking of Lightnin' , my favourite bluesman and his own troubles.

"You know I was sittin' down to my table
Had the blues so bad I couldn't even eat.

You stayed out all night long babe
Came in this mornin' beat."

Somebody had seriously cut my grass, or she wouldn't have thrown me out so fast, and so unceremoniously.

Sure enough. I drive by the apartment and there is a black I-Roc parked there.

Crazy song goes through my mind, as it always does when I'm on an adrenaline rush.

"She married an Italian.
With balls like a %&*^ing stallion."

Well, she had always joked, "Most men have enough to choke a girl."
Small wonder I was starting to pay attention to all thos MegaDick ads in NOW Magazine.

"Sweetie, I'm not deep, but I'm fancy."

"I have found the secret of your strength."

"So you don't like penal servitude?"

"Less and less."

Oh-oh. That Italian had come by once before, and I think his name was Les.

Name the incubus, and you shall have power over it.

I somehow got at the I-Rocs hood and toyed with the distributor cap.
But then that would keep him there all night.

Ah. Press L for loser.

Back into my car and back to the Tim Horton's.
Felt like old Tim, dead hockey player. There was, in fact, a huge picture of Tim Horton in the restaurant.
Something ghostly here.

And I heard, on the radio, that my my blues hero, Lighnin' Hopkins had died during the night. No wonder they were playing all his music.

"You know it's snowin' in New York City, momma
All kinds of people can't get out the door..."

Snowing on Lightnin's grave, even though it was in Texas.
Icing at the Tim Horton's.
My head is going to turn unto a skull.

Suddenly, someone behind me, covering my eyes.
Shades of Johnny Cash!

"Come home, come home, it's supper time."

Release of all tension.

I would get my story done yet.
And even play some blues as a tribute to two great dead men.

Talk about clairvoyance!
Seems the dead continue to walk the earth.
And tell you stuff.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The tricky problem of identity, and how the future seems so much like the past

While watching a cage-full of sprightly White-Handed Gibbons at the Toronto zoo, it had struck me, oddly, that I was some sort of monkey myself, and a tour through a pen of really
crazed and even violent musk oxen gave me the sudden intimation that all immigrants eventually go offf their heads.

I am not, strictly speaking, an immigrant, but my parent were. Immigrants. Extremely focused, but somehow troubled.

The fierce energy of immigrants. Rich by forty. Yet still somehow crazed. I guess a war and a strech at Hitler's "Summer Camp" can do that to you...How my father escaped from the concentration camp is still beyond me.
He certainly had not time for post-traumatic stress. He just kept going and made a fortune. But towards the end of his life, he began to drink heavily and my mother was far from well. Very nutty.
Part of the problem may have been the children and grandchildren.

Ah we of the second generation. Getting used to credit cards, something of the Rake's Progress in all of us.

"Lay off that whiskey,
Leave that cocaine alone", sings Hank Williams III.

...Comes, I guess, from having a really rich and famous grandfather.

I wasn't into the cocaine, but I was certainly into the whiskey. The Potato Famine and The Great Depresson were far behind--there would never be another Depression.

Ha. First law of the universe: You never really escape the Depression. If you do free yourself of its hold for a while, it'll only catch up to you, and it's not fooling. If The Great Depression doesn't catch up with you you will create your own Great Depression, only perhaps for the simple reason that you were very young during the Last One, and that kind of poverty, privation, pain, hunger--had somehow amounted to an odd kind of happiness in your childhood. But here in Canada, you live extravagantly, like a rock'n'roller., Days of Wine and Roses and all that. You do know you will come down with a thump, but what the hell. You only go around once.

Seems we are never as good as our parent, never. Dad had no time for mid-life crises, mammoth drunks, marathon sex, the life style of the rock star that I once was.
Life was so intense, so demanding that one had to keep one's nose to the grindstone, having finally arrived in a society that wasn't investing it's full GDP into possibly making a lamp shade out of you.
In any event, God had dumped us children of immigrants into a paradise--really a fool's paradise--and we would take full advantage of its perks. Things were handed to us on a silver plate and we were such pigs we almost ate the plate.

Comes the personal Great Depression. Personal apocalypse.
We thought that we were young, as the song goes, "and surely have our way."

Uh-uh. The furies come, even in the middlle of great wealth and comfort. And they seem to come for everybody.
Tinkering with commandments. Running off on our wives.

Hitchhiking on the road, picked up by the inventor of the Canadarm satellite-grabber, and told, "How can you be so irresponsible and still live?" This was a man who had worked on the Avro Arrow, that great but scuttled Canadian fighter plane, which another irresponsible man, John George Diefenbaker had destroyed, replacing the new fighter with A-bomb-carrying missiles that could knock down a hundred Russian bombers in a single blast--but what of us down below??!!
Crazy, sure I was crazy, but there were people in power even crazier.

And yet and yet. The old immigrant sitting in his self-built mansion, sipping his vodka and slurping his borsht.
"For all my possessions, I am still an immigrant. No matter how much money I've got, I still feel I have to take a shower again and again to rid myself of the immigrant stink."

Well, no such feelings from the second generation, the silver spoon set. Us.
Those of us well into middle age might carp, "Canada has not done well by me." But it has, oh yes it has.
What other country would give you a PhD, a beautiful wife, model children, for almost nothing.

And yet the furiess come. And come. Something from the past.

I am trying to land my Aeronca Champion light plane behind a Vampire jet figher. The heat of the Vampire ahead of me has lifted me eight hundred feet in the air. There is turbulence. I would have to be very careful in landing my plane.
Suddenly, an attack of the Furies. My father's voice. "Of all occupations, you had to pick this one. How many Mustang pilots have I seen, shot down into the rye and the farmers with pitchforks wanting to talk pollitics:
'Roosevelt is a Jew.' 'Roosevelt is not a Jew!' from the frightened figher pilot...Political discussion on the edge of a pitchfork."

Ah yes, my father's hold. The Depresson. The war.
He had not only survived, but prevailed. And here I was going off to try and kill myself as a fighter pilot.

So we children of immigrants kill ourselves in smaller, less glamorous ways, find, eventually that each immigrant and each immigrant's son somehow ends up in a kind of trap, like a musk ox, out of his ordinary millieu, banging against the cage, kicking the pricks.

"You have hang-ups nobody else has got," says a girlfriend.
I say nothing.
Things are in the saddle, and they are riding hell out of me. Seems lately, out of all of us.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Professor Ivan P. Corey's guide to perplexed writers and unskilled guitarists

Professionalism demands that you write like a writer, telling people things they didn't know-- or knew only vaguely-- until straight, clean words explain to you a feeling state. Or a wall.

I went to a technical university. Maybe that's why some of my writing is like old-style technical writing.

"Your TV 'remote' is an interface and the menu you have pointed it to is painfully slow."

Or in the case of a musician trying to find the key to the guitar technique of famed Woodstock song- opener Richie Havens, you go this way:

Havens uses open D tuning on the guitar. By fretting all strings it produces a major chord on any position on the neck of the guitar.
You have a D chord which will sound with no fingers on the frets at all.
Then all you need is a kind of capo. Your pencil. Your thumb?.A blunt brick applied to the fingerboard?...Anything at all.
...But then you have to get Haven's rhythm, which is practially inimitable.

Ah. Old-style technical writing until that trade became the writing of computer programs.

I have been toying with Richie Havens' guitar technique, I tried it and failed miserably.

There are times when white men indeed can't jump! Or play.

But Mr. Havens has a tradition.

The night was cold and dark and still
There were three crosses on the hill
And on each cross a burning hood
To hide its rotten heart
of wood.

Oh sister
I hear that iron sound
Who beats me
on the cold, cold ground?

Now the man who travels with the Klan
He is a monster, not a man
For underneath that white disguise
I have looking into
his eyes.

Mr. Havens jealously guards his lyrics, but I have memory to help--at least what's left of a memory.
Drunken folk singer, turning the light on myself. Trying to sing black.
Can a honky play funk?
Well, sometimes.

But how in hell do you introduce a minor key on a guitar that is tuned open D-major? Placing of fingers, yes.
Oh hell. Back to regular tuning on your guitar. Start the song in an E-minor, which only requires two fingers, then hit a D-natural and you're in business.

From down the hill the riders came
Jesus! It was a crying shame
To see the blood upon their whips
And mark the scarlet
of their lips.

Hm. More technical writing. What is "scarlet"? Filth. Foul-mouthedness, or, as our Australian friend might snort,

Ah poor Professor P.
Jack of all trades and maybe master of one.
Certainly not guitar playing.

Perhaps a pimp. :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Black is the color of my true love's mood

Ivan has got the flu and is is drinking again. Drinking till de debbil is burned out of his frenetic bod. Trying to blog unders such conditions is nigh onto impossible. He rolls a bowling ball through this particular bowling alley in hell , and is soon trapped under the oddity of his own ten-pin ball, his opening paragraph.

Wherever you go, people are after your immortal soul--a damn precious thing to lose.
In the case of us men, especially us wanderers it's usually a woman: " I will give you anything you want. I am sentient. I am a planet attracted to you. I can produce a flower for you , even out of of rock."

Well. When you have crows and ravens whistling though your head like that, it's time for another drink.
Gotta stay happy and not let de debbil take you soul.
Oh Daddy!

I swear the Klan is after me.

Oh brother, where art thou?

They don't like Roman Catholics either.

I'm so black. From a song, The Klan:

From down the hill the riders came

Jesus! it was a crying shame

To see the blood upon their whips

And mark the scarlet

of their lips

Oh sister

Lift my bloody head

It's not easy

to be dead

Oh brother

Won't you stand by me

It's not easy

to be free

It is black history month.

I am drinking black Domorerra rum.

And strange thoughts come my way.

One is somehow black.

Like Hal, the computer out of the genius movie, 200l.

"I am coming apart, Dave. I can feel it Dave."

I can feel it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Impotent Jack--and we had the knack!

Always, while you yourself are in a crisis, there's someone cool, collected and calculating, who watches your brain pitching and tossing-- you hanging there on your rack of troubles!--and he might just say, "Why you stupid bastard.
"The solution to your problem is perfectly obvious. You've got your head up your own backside."
The was pretty well the case when I got rejected by Ryerson University's literary magazine, The Fifth Page.
I thought the fault was mine and I splattered the university's newpaper with my self-castigation and tales of woe.
...I could do this because I was editorial page editor of the Dalily Ryersonian, and here at least, I could be something of an artist, that is to say, suffering damnably, but letting the whole world know that I was suffering--the way of the professional tragedian!
"You didn't get rejected because you wrote badly," said Ross F. "You were rejected because you failed to focus on the weaknesses and hang-ups of the editor.
"What do you mean, Jellybean?" I wanted to know.
"Talk like that and I'll think you're as bad a Jack, the maginally gay editor," Ross snapped.

"Come on. Smarten up."
The editor, who is really your faculty advisor, is a frustrated creative type, the most dangerous kind of creature in publishing. He is also something of solipsist--thinks the world revolves around him and his problems...and his wife just left the poor bastard...Get the picture? Your "editor" is a complete mess."

"Well, yes. Everybody knows it. Jane Austen fanatic. Sexually repressed...Monosexual, actually. Pee-Wee Herman fan. You could tell through his lectures in English Survey. Really hung up on Moby Dick. Keeps repeating the title.
"So what of it?"

"You've got to go to the centre of the edifice," said Ross. "Focus on him and his troubles. Write a story about a
guy with sexual difficulties and dark thoughts of murder of his wife, or ex-wife."

"You mean that's why I got rejected? I didn't cater to his likes and dislikes, his fears and phobias? Didn't get him right where he lives?"

"Exactly so," said Ross. "
Now write a story about an alcoholic, sexually impotent guy,who blames it all on his wife and makes plans to "off" her."

Still a student, I was rather good at taking orders, especially from an "upperclassman".

I watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock on TV, picked up a plot and crafted a short story about an impotent alcoholic who, in a drunken episode, murders his wife and doesn't even know he did it.

"You're not a writer until you can write about murder," said old Dostoevsky somewhere.

I took out a room apart from my ordinary digs--had a girlfriend who might dissuade me from the short story quest--and, with a map of Australia leaking down from the ceiling on a rainy night, and while I shivered with no heat, I wrote the story. .. The one about the alcoholic impotent guy who murders his wife, blacks out, and doesn't even remember.
My story certainly wasn't "In Cold Blood"--far from it!, but thanks to Alfred Hitchcock, I had myself a pretty good plot.
Three days later, I submitted the story.

"Why didn't you tell me you had a story like that?" the editor had said over the phone. "Let's have a coffee at Fran's and we can talk about it."

Well, my arrow did not fall to earth.

Poor Jack in his tiny apartment, his students making fun of him, sending him soft porn just to get him going.

Seems between smart Ross and me, we seened to have an insight into his problem. And maybe even a catharsis, the reaison d'etre of all literature, according to old Play Dough.

I immediately phoned Ross to tell him of my success."

"See? I told you. We might even give the guy a psychoanalysis. Lord knows he needs one"

Just before graduation day, my story, titled "Marjorie", was hitting all the kiosks around the cafeteria and the Great Hall.

Met Ross outside for a smoke.

"You did 'er, you coldhearted little bastard."

"And I still think you're a twerp."

I went back to the cafeteria to read my own story.
Seemed that somewhere along the line, I had missed an important character.

Some writer. Couldn't even tell that Ross had, in his own smart way, been manipulating me.

Ah well. Both of us probably had to be devils to earn our halos. He got his job in government and I got my job at The Star because of the short story.

To be a writer you had to know how smart people manipulate other smart people. Do con jobs on each other.

A little cold-blooded. Both of us.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogging the Unbloggable--Like Really! Country Joe and the Fish

The first thing I do in the morning is open my eyes to see if my cigrette is drawing properly, run to the mirror to see if I've lost any more hair (Hey, I've still got some!) and then come out of the washroom with the sense that I'd forgotten something.
Guess what I forgot. Heh. You do that too?

Says the Newfie: "You not feeling yourself? It was a nasty habit anyway."

Another "nasty habit" is blogging.

I can not fully wake up, nor even justify my existence if I don't blog every day.
This practice is extremely addictive, probably harmful to your health, and certainly a tax on the old brain. It does seem to take something away from the libido, however.

But you wouldn't want to have it any other way, would you.

So here am I tap-tap-tapping away while the world is already outfitted in bib and lunchbucket trying to pry a dollar out of somewhere.

"Writing is an elitist passtime," says the old girlfriend, watching me type.
"The use of good english is elitist."

Poor woman. String of losers for boyfriends...What am I doing here?--Ah, but they were beautiful losers.
Drugged out guitar players, PhD's already fried on drugs by 34, a taxi driver worried about being gay.

"Here all this time, I'd been reading all your columns. Pasting them up on my bedroom wall. I wanted to get you. Now that I've got you, I'm not sure I want you."

There had to be a reason.

I had met one of her old boyfriends, as strange luck would have it, in the washroom of the Grey Goat, my favourite watering hole.

"Rosie, no wonder you liked him. The guy is hung like a pony. Seems to target the stall first, then he slowly walks toward it. I almost stepped on it"!

"How is Frank?" I heard her say.

Blind Melon Chitlin!

I was much troubled.

Maybe I should have answered that bit of spam I just got. "Increase its size. Try MegaDick."

Well, I had offered, in my best Winnipeg Rounder brogue, "I ain't deep, but I'm fancy...Just like downtown!"

"Uptown manners in downtown Newmarket" is all she would say. "You write good. You write fancy.
"But in the bedroom...Have you thought of turning gay?"

I am miffed. All this time trying to be king and she thinks I might be turning into a Queen.
"Give my regards to Frank next time you see him.

I come back with a remark the pre-Sixties crowd would consider "effeminate".

"All homosexuals have abnormally large penises."

"I'm not sure Frank was gay," she winked.

Ah, what can you do when you live in a shoe?...Like size Seven. Oh, be truthful. Six. Maybe.

Perhaps Viagra.

As is the case with all problems, one needs to take a trip to clear the jogjam.

I went to Kensington Market in Toronto, where the Portuguese sell all that wonderful fish.

Bought a red snapper, had it carfully wrapped, though there was a fishy smell in the car. I took the fish "home to Liza."

We fried the snapper right at suppertime.


Seems that evening, I had an erection the size the size of the CN Tower.

Was it really all that simple?

"Oh yes," she said, with a slight giggle. "
You smell like Snapper, but were you ever good.

No need for MegaDick.

Nature has a way!


Friday, February 15, 2008

"Know thyself"--as a giddy bastard?

Not too long ago, on a strange misty night in Toronto's funky Queen Street West, I wandered the streets drunk, with a great, sprawling novel in my head.

The idea was to clear the logjam of ordinary teaching and writing, wash away all the floatsome and jetsam of ordinary reality and attain once more that sense of being able to see around corners, to stand under trees and smell the blossoms, to be--say it on!--young again and reach for the laurel leaves of the poet that I once imagined myself of being.
Acid? you might ask.
No, it was the way I was as a young man. Crazy. And the college was publishing all my poetry and the professors were jealous. "Take you out to the squash course and beat your ass."

So here I was, forty years later, stumbling along Philosopher's Walk, Trinity College, not quite an alma mater--I just had to take an extension course there to get my degree. But the philosophy had been interesting, who doesn't get intoxicated over old Play Dough and his underlying pictures of real stuff under all the B.S. we are shown by the Powers that Be. Myth of the Cave. Yes. We are shown one thing on TV and something totally different is really happening.

Ah, drunk, and thinking you can see around corners, while an old Greek, himself probably drunk, had it all taped
2,500 years ago.

Gnôthi Sauton. Know thyself.

Well, yes. Know thyself for a a randy, drunken fool.

I visit my editor in the course of my wandering.s "Man, are you spaced. This is a good time for you to write." John always had this knack for getting to the heart of the matter.

I was a firehose of words and someone had crimped the hose.
The crimp of ordinary reality that gets in the way of things you want to say.

Back in your Spadina Avenue loft now.
Bang-up against the publishing company that had rejected you.

Ah publishing for the college magazine was one thing.
But real publishing involved agents, government, maybe even the CIA.

Jerzy Kosinsky with his stunning "Painted Bird", so much like my own first novel, "The Black Icon."
Kosinsky knew how to play the game. He was also a CIA asset. Oh how naive we ae with our philosophy and our sophomoric intoxications.
Yet it was Jerzy who put the Winn-Dixie plastic bag over his own head and offed himself.
Or did some Russian get to him?
No matter. My imaginary rival was dead. I was alive.

Gnôthi Sauton. Know thyself.

Yes, yes, but knowing thyself is the most difficult thing of all.
We never really know ourselves.

The older I get the more I realize that I am no great shakes, one time leaving the scene of an accident without telling anybody, weasling my way out of complicated divorce procedures, stealing once, from my father.

Know thyself. Maybe as a weasel and toad-stabber! The self ain't always pretty.

Ah, but love, something I don't think Plato rally knew, though he wrote an entire Symposium about it.

Your lover tells you a story.

Once there was a man. He was very beautiful.
But he came across these five girls who were hitchhiking.

My lover then goes into great detail as to what the man did with the beautiful women and what the did to him.

She was inventing porn for me. Knew what I liked. Gauche, no?

WEll, that's true love. Whispering porn to your lover. Lol. Well, that's an experience I'm sure Plato never had.
Unlimited in ideas. Limited in sex.

I am wandering the streets of Toronto, my glorius, stunning novel still in my head.

Gotta get it out. Gotta get it out.

Maybe a little LSD would actually do it.

Frig it.

I whistle down a bottle of Scope.

Give myself not an anima, as Jung would say.

But an enema.

I had walked like a novelist. Nice feeling.

Ah, he laboured mightily.

And ended up pulling the Loo chain.

Nice reverie anyway.

Now it's back to the keyboard and actual work.
Of all things, this is the most difficult.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My redneck Valentine

All mysterious hints are sexually charged.
Like my lady barber' hand pausing at my thigh a lttle as she asks me to shift so she can get around me.
Lady is a Mediterranean knockout, but she has a husband and two kids.
Ah what the hell. Faint heart never made it with small animals.

Got a valentine in the mail a couple of days ago.
More mysterious hints.
The relationship ended 25 years ago, and still she writes. Wants to come over from half a continent away.

But one is still carrying a torch for someone even further back in the past, but last I heard from The One, it was "Don't even talk to me." And endearments, such as "Will you just f*ck off!"

My second- last Dutchess had sent me to her very own therapist. Said the therapist, "If you love something, let it go
"If it was meant to be, she'll come back to you."

Slugger the Biker says," If you love something, let it go. If it doesn't come back to you--hunt it down and kill it!"

Well, as a player in the game of love for the past thirty years, I have both waited and hunted.
Waiting seemed somehow like something a woman would do. But I waited and drank. And waited and drank. Looked in the barroom mirror and saw a phantom image of myself as a skeleton. I would be waiting a long time.
Says motherly restaurant owner: "Don't just get drunk. Get drunk and do something.
So I got drunk at home, want to the bar where my Italian rival was drinking, knocked him off his barstool.
Nothing was revealed, but I felt better. But Mafiosi are vengeful. Next day I caught him trying to set fire to my house. I called the police, but they just sort of played around with the gasoline can, kicked it a few times and said, "Hey, this must be awfully stressful for you." Mobster... and aren't they tight with local police? Punch out a Mafia guy and he'll answer real fast once he wakes up... Like a biker.
Damned if the son-of-a-bitch wasn't caught planting incendiaries in my attic.
But someone got to him first; he seemed to disappear, my errant mistress was now alone, but even then, she would have no part of me. Or, by this time, me of her. I really did let her go, hoping for all the world she never would come back. Weekdays with me. Weekends with the Italian!
"Your problem, Ivan," says my drug-addled Beetlejuice pal, "is that you came across a whole series of assholes." I caught myself chuckling. The guy was fried by 34. Never mind the PhD and the Juilliard music degree. Sometimes the bad die young.

An admonishment from the college where I taught: "We are looking at your life style."
Well, yes, but what resource is there after you lost house and home but to have a good time?
Good-time Charlie runs across a whole series of assholes. Um. Like attracts like?

There is an Isaac Balshevis Singer short story I can't find any more.

In it, an old rake comes across his original wife after forty years. She has obviously aged, is in fact, very much past her bloom... He hasn't had a hard-on for three years.

But he follows her up the stairs anyway.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Stupid Cupid

Every so often, those of us who always hear more than the band is playing, seem to sense some sort of message coming through the ether, especially around Feb.14.

Something in the warp and woof of the universe, perhaps like the ghost transmissions of a dead astronaut, suggests a message to you and you alone.
Perhaps she still cares. There have been mysterious hints of late.
You might need a medium. Like your blog.

So out I come. Out with some writin' that I am sure would remove the panties of a dyed-in-the wool sailor-suited feminist, my very best effort.
I produce a poem of love and loss, my obsession with her , how much I miss her, how even bad sex with her was better than the best sex with California beauties.

I really put on the dog,

"I long for you with all my heart
Despite the stigma, thought

It matters little what is fact
I'll drink the cup you brought.

I am vigilant.
There is no answer in my blog space, so I turn off my computer and try one of my several radios.
Nothing. in the ether,nothing in the static.
I turn the TV off-channel, look at the waxing moon. I am attentive to star noise and the precious message that may be contained therein.

Nothing. Just idiot news stations that give you the weather every five minutes and then health news and advice to me as to how to have a happy period.

I put the TV onto VHF, play with oldfashioned rabbit ears. Blank screen with a snowstorm.
In the middle of the snowstorm some Danish pornography somehow creeping in. A man and a woman are making obscene love.
They are doing it, but they are doing it slow, like turtles. Must be somebody's website that somehow got onto a kicker station on the moon!
I am putting out something like an S.O.S., certainly what old Morse operators called a CQ, that is to say, "Seek You."


All my wanderings about the ether, all my searching for a contact point, all my "CQ"'s--and nothing.

Finally the answer comes, onto an old blog of mine where I had even then hoped to attract the one I love.

There is a thrill as I open the comment space.

Go fuck youself, you fucking idiot.

Ah Loren. Only you!

Dan'l Cupid shoots his arrow and gets kicked in the balls.

I go back to my reading of Leopold von-Sacher-Masoch, probably the inventor of my condition. The guy actually existed!

There is a chapter where both Venus, naked under her furs and her polo-playing lothario set upon poor Leopold with ugly-sticks.

"Hit me," says the masochist.
"No," say the sadist.

Oddest kind of three-way I ever read about.

Ah, Valentine's Day with Leopold von-Sacher Masoch.

Do you wonder why I don't teach any more after telling my students stories like that?

I consider Loren's note of endearment.

Go fuck youself, you fucking idiot.

I go to answer.

"Yeah, but what's your point?"


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Notes from the underground. Or: I Can't Stop Blogging You

Crack in the egg department.

I am very superstitious about frying eggs first thing in the morning.

That is exactly the first thing I did when I got my Dear John while living in Mexico.

Crack in the egg.Crack in the mirror. Crack in the marriage.

Hank Williams: "A false goodbye
A life is shattered"

Fragments of my own poetry:

He saw the teardrop on the rose
And again he saw the teardrop on a rose
And he knew he could never melt the teardrop
And he knew this was already the end.

So he kissed the face of the evening wife
As he had kissed it before, in all its varying forms
And again said hello to the precipice of silence
A precipice of silence
For his eleven years of loving...

L never said what she meant.
But the "goodbye forever" note hit me hard.


"You are crazed," said the woman across the breafast table.

Yeah, crazed. Crazy in Mexico.
Moral holiday.

Ivan in the garden. God come to collect.
What are you doing, Adam?

All this iconoclasm in this age, The Matrices, the DeVinci Codes, attacks on Christianity, attacks on Judaism.
And we stupidly let someone take our immortal soul, a damn precious thing to lose.

Mesopotamian wisdom thrown into the garbage heap.
We think we know so much.
Keep it in your pants, little pagan.

The garden of Eden is the marriage bed, that's the story, that's the whole story.
And the serpent is the other guy riffing your mistress...Things happen to us and it is only thirty years later we realize why.

And somewhere in there is Master Dante:

You feel bad after what you did, but after another glance at her gleaming limbs, you will want to do it again.

Ladybug, ladybug
Fly away home.

The sheep's in the meadow
The cow's in the corn.

Running back home to kill somebody
Leaving your mistress in a a trail of heartbreak and intravenous tubes. You made her sick.

But God works in mysterious ways. Some would say, "The Bastard!"

You don't snap the string that easily. You left her high and dry and you have to reach back and rescue.

Floating in space in an airplane over Dallas-Fort Worth.


That old Danish muffin Kierkegaard knew something.
Maybe better than Dante.

Kramer vs. Kramer.

As comfortable with one woman as the other in moments of synchronicity.

Flying over the World Trade Centre on the edge of Manhattan, which is shaped like a giant aircraft carrier.
Not for nothing Starwars and the Empire striking back. Tie fighers and X planes that never scrambled.
People in power even stupider, more immoral than you.

Ladybug ladybug

Bad decision when you get home.
Split decision.
You should have gone to a hotel and not straight home.
At home you catch the wife.
What was good for the gander...

Soap opera.
On the surface, everybody so well groomed and middleclass.
Seething adulteries underneath.

"Get over it," sing the Eagles.

How hard now to place one step afer the other.

And yet the highway is strewn with innocents.Distant cries of distant tragedies. And their tragedies are larger than yours--and they hadn't even done anything to deserve bad things happening to good people.

Fate doesn't seem to give a shit,and only rarely is it fucked

Seems one has tried to fuck fate. Stupid Hemingway, his mother's head on his father's shoulders. Tried to fuck fate.
And fate knew more wittingly than he.

Or me.

And yet something keeps us alive.


Another note.
This time a myserious hint.

I fry eggs.

Oh do I know L and her ways!

Girl, you really had me going.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Everybody knows a 90-year-old smoker: Smoke Nazis, your days are numbered.

The ice age currently upon us is breeding a slow, simmering resentment out this way.

One has gloomy thoughts of resentment, against one's former spouse, one' long-lost mistress, one's dog.

Poor Gulliver, once our family dog, scapegoat for the family, slightly depressed, because somehow all the dreck and drudge of our nutty tribe seemed somehow to fall on him. "Gulliver! You shat on the rug again!"
Gulliver had done no such thing.
He would give the accuser that "F*ck- off and leave me alone" look.
"And take that Shell Vapona flea collar off me. It's driving me to neuroticism. It was designed to kill Japanese, and now it's killing me."

Wonky family. Wonky dog.

I would take Gulliver for a walk. "Gulliver!" I would yell when he'd get off his leash.

A woman walking her dog in the same park, piped up and said, "' Gulliver'. What a stupid name for a dog."

"Well, yeah, how about your dog then?"
She curbed her little boxer.
"Come along, Batman."

There is going to be snow in Ontario and uppper New York State for the next seven days.

I am out of liquor and eyeing the Listerine, which gives you wonderful breath, but leaves you tighter than a tick.
I am smoking Reservation cigarettes of almost- nothing a carton-- and I swear there is a plot to "off" all us ofays through crummy cigarettes, probably made from table scrapings and dry weeds in China.
That's because to buy a pack of cigarettes legally today is to take out a mortgage.
I am so tired of those do-gooders, financed by my tax dollars and Pfizer to tell us all to butt out.
I wish they would get a job and stop using my tax dollars as their petty tyranny over poor hapless users of a legal product you can't use anywhere! This is not only a meal ticket for the prohibitionists, it is starting to get past the end of my nose. Says John Stuart Mill: "Do what you want. Make a fist if you want to, but don't get it past the end of my nose."
They are, fat bastards on my tax money, and Pfizer's getting past the end of my nose.
And all the weasel journalists go right along with this fascism.
Hitler was a a livid anti-smoker.
After his suicide, they found his skull was a bright yellow from all that shitty microbiotic food he was eating.
Appparently, his farts were so vile that he could easily clear out a room full of Officier Kommand, Wermacht.
Maps and charts flying. People climbing the walls. Himmel! Scheissegemacht!

Bad beer and crummy cigarettes.

Some say I might be spoiled sitting here in my Seniors' palace, making vitriolic pronouncements.

Well let me tell ya somethin'.
I have given up the food bank and have resorted to dumpster diving, competing with Bushy the Bum for empty beerbotles fer to finance my beer. It is small wonder, that in America at last, the Bush administration has gotten together with the Democrats to finally offer each one of us badly used pensioners a $400 boost, just once, and I wish our own Conservatives would do something sane like that for a change. Nah. They want to buy more tanks.
They won't buy the helicopters our military needs. They buy tanks from Germany.
You know what happened with the last Panzer Division.
You know at last that the Germans have all kinds of money to pay off our stupid politicians and set up a regime of Habsburgs. Canada is only now beginning to realize. Dumpkopf Kanadieschen. Stunned bastards given a country by the Brits and now not knowing what to do with it and its riches. Sell to the U.S. Sell to Germany. "Don't you know Canada is for sale?"
A father's beautiful gift smashed by a stupid child.

Cheery, no?

We are going to have another election here.
"Beware," says the sage, when politicians get too flashy, too full of pizzaz.

Well, Liberal leader Stephane Dion is the farthest thing from flashy.

On the face of it, dumb as a doorknob.
Hail Stephane Dion! I say
He really is the kind of leader we need now.

Dipstick. But he might have a plan.

Surely can do no harm. Maybe get us out of Afghanistan.

Allors Stephane!

You will do no harm.

As in the rock song,
Politics ain't workin'

I ain't workin'.

I tried to get a job as a pizza delivery man, they looked at my wizened face and said, "We need a young guy.,"
I told the owner I may be long in the tooth, but he seems to have this sweet tooth for young guys.
"And what are you doing swatting flies with the dishrag?"

And yet and yet. There is a hint of spring in the air.
I looked out at my lilacs-- and holy sprig! There are buds on the branches. Buds! Right in the middle of the ice pack.

Just a taste of the new season.

And in spite of the bitter exhaustions and rheumations of an old man,

This bud's for you.

And light up and relax.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Clutching my Smith-Corona on Planet Porno

Like many another compulsive-neurotic, I decided some weeks ago that I would go back to my old Smith-Corona, back to the days of the hot-lead writer, back to the days when I was a smashing success, and it was all coming out of the typewriter and not a computer.
There seemed to be more time to think, to revise while on the typewriter. Your work came out in pure, black proof copy once you were ready and it seemed almost written in stone.
You were usually dealing with an editor who knew you and your work, and though you were not a fulltime staff writer on that magazine or newspaper, the work would generally get published.
This tended to lead to a kind of hubris. Even groupies.
I had slyly let out, in an article on the making of model airplanes, that airplanes are symbols of the spirit, and the writer, though writing about model airplanes and then real airplanes, hinted at the fact that the author's spirit was somewhat droopy, and maybe what he needed was to get laid.
The article was published in the Toronto Star Neighbours section.
Suddenly I was hot stuff.
Two women mobbed me at my subway stop on my way to my editors.
They knew who I was through my previous work as a teacher of creative writing.
One of the ladies seemed extremely fidgety, playing with her purse, rubbing against me like some really lonely, cute little animal, she had just lost her boyfriend and "Gee, you'd only been with The Star for a little while, and you're doing so well. How about dinner?"
The three of us went to lunch, at least. I forgot about my meeting with the editor and I ended up having dinner with the fidgety girl.
Dinner led to a dance, and well.

Always happens. You were clawing for the middle--not the top--in your career and ambushed again by a beautiful woman.

Still, the old Smith-Corona had done its trick. You had succeeded, and you got laid.

Nowadays, in this computer age, it's not so easy.

You thought you'd get the work out faster--what's speed got to do with writing?--you'd thought a web page would help you as a professional writer, you laboured mightily and you had produced an entire family of mice, your speedily keyboarded short stories and articles.

Frigging rejections. Tons of them.
Who me? God's chosen?
(Chipmunk chorus here: "Yes, you!")

It was now time to pay for all those vanities and superiorities. You were just another blogger now, and not a very popular one at that.
You try to pass off some of your awesom erudition and experience to other blogs.
"Learn some manners. It's my blog, Claude!"
And: "F*ck- off with your ad hominem remarks."

I was just another blogger among millions.

I would have to freelance something to established publishers just to school some of those snarky literary bloggers, largely unpublished, who thought they were such hot stuff.

I finally got a short story published.
I put it up on my blog.
That'll learn ya!

Silence. Dead silence. One comment, and this one from a Jesus freak.
I needed to take Jesus as my personal saviour.

A university professor took a shine to my blog. We corresponded often.
He suggested I apply for a scholar's grant as a textbook writer for his university.
He sent me the forms.

New to the computer, I screwed up the forms.
My professor stopped commenting and emailing me.
A clerical idiot might not be someone you'd want to have around a university.

I blogged on mightily for two more years.
Put up most of my published work online.

One offer from a publication of my Ukrainian tribe. I gave them the piece. They would not pay.

Shafted by your own people!
Who's got time to be prejudiced against anybody?
I'm starting to dislike my fellow Ukies.

Anyway, blogging, blogging, blogging. It is addictive. I feel out of sorts all day if I don't post something.

But then the truth sneaks up on you. This is all great for the ego, but you're getting nowhere professionally.

Last week, I got off the computer and onto my trusty old Smith-Corona.

Satisfying bit of work. All those usused synapses, the mistakes, strikeovers, the erasor, the white-out, all those procedures and tools Rudyard Kiplins said are the true smithies that together produce the work.
Well, I got to page one.
Damn, this is hard work.
On the keyboard, I'd have to entire story done now.

Reduced to the computer, I finally finished my documentary/autobiography.

My inteniton had been to submit hard copy to the publishers, typed on my Smith-Corona. This had worked in the past; it had even gotten me laid.
But though the spirit is willing, the flesh and the fingers were weak.
I ended up doing it on my computer.

I submitted it.
And now, where she goes, nobody knows.

I've got the nagging feeling that I should have stayed on the typewriter. This had been the tried-and-true in the past.
I am convinced that I had somehow failed a test of character. I should have done the whole story on typographcal characters, on white paper on a mechanical machine.
Ah well. Professional writing is like a dartboard anyway.
You double in and you double out.

Nagging voice: "You didn't really double-in....Or did you?

A hilarious opening scene out of last Night's Blue Movie is rubbing agains the edge of my consciousness.
Blue movies alway rub against the edges of my consciousness. "The hero, MegaDick, accompanied by his faithfull comapnion Jerkoff, land on a strange planet, Planet Porno, in fact, full of beautiful women.
"Jerkoff! Foxy chicks. Gotta get!"

Heaven forbid that this is really what I'm writing for.
Or the way that I'm writing.


Monday, February 04, 2008

February blues

The trouble with New Year's resolutions when you'd been in a complete failure mode for the past year is that you set yourself up for still another failure.
You do word plays on that famous Frenchman's aphorism. "I fail, therefore I am." I am a failure?
I bring up the noble frog's name in a bar. It sound like Day Cart.
"Do you use one of those things at Wal-Mart?
Well, there's failure and there's being a successful ignoramus.
Most people are successful ignorami. Functioning apes.
But to get things done, you need apes, as any construction superintendent knows.
Poor construction super, almost always a failure (the failed motel business, the get-rich schemes, the "Polish" mark at university, C+, the bored wife "You're always tired.. All you do when you come home is sleep.")
But the super is astounded, though feeling like a failure at times, that when you're with the uneducated, you're really among animals--apes. They have extreme antisocial instincts and to keep these instincts in check is at least something you get back from all your training. Yet you need the apes. They know what they're doing. "Me fix."
So when I mention the great mathematician Descartes, they say, "Day Cart? I get you one. Me fix."

Which gives you a laugh, but it doesn't mitigate you sense of impending failure.

And February blues.

You are still smoking after your New Year's resolution. You have produced an entire first page of your novel, and you're already stuck. Reads good, but you know the twists and turns of a novel. You may have to start fooling with somebody else's "envelope" to give the work any real worth, to make it into a real novel, that is to say, an exciting, long-winded fiction in prose that satisfies a reader.
Nice work if you can get it. You may have to see how the big boys and girls did it. You may have to imitate.
(It is my contantion that literature pretty well shot its bolt in the l9th century. The Russkies did it best, followed by the French, and then by some not-so-adept Englishmen and women...Mary Shelley and the Bronte sisters, are, of course, exceptions. I still can't read Jane Austen!).

One might have to imitate.
Still, your remember one Englishman's warming: Be careful. Envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide.

Well, our Timothy Findley, out of Toronto did try to rewrite Emile Zola with the critics' predictable cry of "imitation!" and then Mr. Findley apparent suicide.
Those of us still alive and in the game, however know that talent does steal quite a bit. The Life of Pi was a huge success, but it was borrowed from some poor Jewish guy who was magnaminous enough to tell the equally poor plagiarist to "take what you need."
My career in the newspaper business would make the movie Hannibal guy seem like a crumpet-eater.
Journalism is an extremely cannibalistic business. Ask any paperazzo following poor Britney around as she trundles between hospital bed and spittoon.

A but the novel, the Novel! This is a different thing altogether.
Every journalist is a frustrated novelist--even the great Hunter S. Thompson had two novels in the can.
Very likely, he was working on a wicked little roman 'a clef that would have done in the Chaney administration, and I, as a conspiracy theorist, sense the somebody got to him.
(Emile Zola would take a wrongful conviction of one Mr. Dreyfus and make a grand novel of it). What grand novel will no doubtbe found in the estate of Dr. Thompson, ordained minister and wonderful preachin' fool of the three p.m. drinks at the Holiday Inn).

Well, I'm working on a novel.
Right at a time of February blues.
Forget the surrendered vows about the smoking. This was still another failure for 08.
So here we go to another "failure".

Roadrunner and Coyote.
The great insufferable little tease that makes a fool of you every time you chase it.

You prancing little motherf*cker!
I'm going to make Adidas stew out of you even if it is February, I feel like a whipped dog and Acme Footspring Company has been outsourced to Malasia!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Here's one hip groundhog who's not coming up this year

Peerless Percy, the subdivision groundhog, will not emerge from his hole today.

"F*ck this," he offered, by way of explanation.

"I keep coming up at the wrong places, the Wal-Mart parking lot full of early morning drug dealers, the soccer field with its frozen soccer moms in the snow, the hockey arena which collapsed right on top of me because of all-weather termites, the park, where I got duck shIt on my shades.
"I've had it, I'll tell ya.
"Never mind Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil, those exurbanites. They still got space to come up in.
"Fourteen- and -a -half square miles of Newmarket, Ontario and every square inch is developed.
"Crap, if it weren't for Grounhog Welfare where the truckers leave me some grain and nuts just behind the Dominion store, I'd hardly have munchies after my weed.
"Okay, okay, I'm a Sixties throwback. They do, in fact throw me back when I have a pee in between the SUV's.
"I'm going to stay in my den."
And with that, he ambled off.

There will be no weather prognosticating In Newmarket this year.
Which is just as well.
Last year, they almost shot the poor son-of-a-Marmot.
Coldest, longest spring for some time.

"And f*ck you," Percy added before crawling into his den.