Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gogol-eyed in Canada


I do not like women. They go this way and that, picking up dust with their trains. They never know where they're going. When they walk towards you, they know not whether to go right or left. There is confusion. She goes left and you sidestep, then she goes right and almost bumps into you. They can't make up their minds."

So thinks young Arkady in Dostoevky's A Raw Youth, a possible model for J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.

So many people borrow from old Fyodor, from the great Salinger to the author of Forrest Gump.

No wonder. The Russkies can write.

Limeys don't write very well, but when the do they can produce masterpieces. Mary Shelley. The Brontes. John Fowles.

An anglicized Ukrainian writing in English, I am somewhere in between.

All my teachers have been Irish or Jewish. And by osmosis, I guess I am something of an Irish Jew.

Hell, say it on: I was once married into a Jewish family.

Good folks, once you're in.


Ah cultural hermaphrodite.

Not quite Joe the Morph, but sometihing like Joe Palooka living in Manitoba.

Manitoba is full of Ukrainians.

I am Ukrainian.

A Characteristics of my tribe is that they don't like each other very much.

An Anglo sits down to drink with them, and the Ukie will go off with the Anglo and leave the other Ukie sitting there by himself. Maybe that's why we almost blew the country.

Anyway. We have had one, possibly two geniuses in literature. One is Nicholas Gogol and the oher Taras Shevchenko. I like Gogol because he writes about madness. All the Slavs do. But Shevchenko was sane, and very, very patriotic. Poet for the people.

But Dostevsky was part Ukrainian.

And that's about as far as it goes.

Talent. Genius.

Nice work if you can get it.


"I do not like women..."
Well, poor young Arkady, caught in the maelstrom of adolescent emotions, like Holden Caufield not knowing all the while that he may have been a bastard, and that's why all the roil.

He inserts his personality in othe people's lives, and when they come back on him, he thinks it's all their fault and not his.

Ah. Holden Caulfield trying to be the catcher in the rye.

New Yorker magazine style turned into a wonderful novel.

I have tried for some years to imitate New Yorker style.

It is almost impossible, because of its complexity underneath all that apparent simplicity

Goes something like this. Detail, Detail, Detail, Climax. And again: Detail Detail, Detail, Climax---a chein of these, and finally a big climax which is more in the reader than the author.

Yet somehow, it all harkens back to Dostoevky.

"I do not like women..."
A Raw Youth is the most peculiar of Dostoevky's novels. In his other writings there are plots of passionate feelings and sensational events.
In Youth, much less seems to happen: There is not a single murder, just two suicides, no violation of under-age girls, no public scandal with face slapping, epaulette-ripping, ear-biting and all that; and it seems no one really goes insane.

But so much else is there in the plot. Akady's intrusion into other people's affairs. His possible illegitimacy. And maybe even gayness.

Just like Holden.

And Holden went insane.

Ah. Transplaneted ethnic, with the name cleverly disguised.

I have heard it said, that all immigrants end up going off their heads.

Well, I guess I am more "Americanized".

Came back from Mexico with a novel and a newborn.

"Hey," I'd said to myself, "Going off at both ends."

Well, yeah. But you have to live in Canada.

Where you can't write novels.

Especially new material.

They don't like that.

Our novels are good because we say they are good.

And you're starting to piss us off with your Dostoevky.

##

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't Give it up, John Cleese.



I sometimes watch the big boys of literature and grand comedy, and in writing luck, at least, they are a lot like me.
Says John Cleese, "It's always the same. On large success, and aftet that, a whole string of failures.
Well, Mr. Cleese has managed to succeed once again, and grandly, with his old gold brought to
life with a zapped-up of version of "The Holy Grail" and he's laughing all the way.
But it seems there had been a hiatus. Like about thirty years.

I had a big hit in l999, followed by a cover story on me in a magazine about that big hit, but when I tried to repeat the performance, nothing would come. And huge inexplicable mental blocks.

Sudenly, I couldn't write
No matter how much booze, how much coffee, how much almost-calculated heartbreak so I' d dhave someing to write about--Nada.
Jesus. This is like a fireman with no hose, a traffic cop with no whistle (and they're more and more like that now) and Ron Jeremy not being able to get it up for a shoot.

(But then I read Ron's autobigraphy and it seems that even cocksmen get the blues...Swinging all that pipe and can't get an erection in front of a beautiful porn queen).
Lord knows it has happened to me often enough and thank god for the bounty of the lady.
My loves have been incredibly inventive
Saved years and years of neuroticism, self-castigation and thoughts of taking up the priesthood.
(And I've heard, in a joke that even priests sometimes get nun).
Well, I have been on a publishing hiatus for three years (There was journalism, but I don't think that couns).

I submitted a piece to my old editor at the Globe and mail, where she had a creative section only to find that Miss Dann had gone on to become a literary agent. So I wrote her at the Cooke Agency. No answer.
Jaysus. I'm getting the odd feeling that I'm no longer "in".
Something I'd said? Something I'd blogged?

James Joyce used to say that a lull like mine can be countered by "silence, exile and cunning."
Well, I'm as cunning as the next guy, but I can't keep silent.

Maybe it's my exposure of some of the people in publishing, my rants against specific publishing houses--they google me a lot; but Ivan ignored? This is the unkindest cut.

Ignoring is something you use as a tactic against a crazy person. Maybe they think I've gone mad. Well, there was that spell in "rehab", but they tell me all writers of any exposure-- are
crazy bastards
Why else would take up an obsolete profession and still think, along with some of Balzac's unfortunate dumpster friends, that overnight success is just around the corner.
Writers are extremely versatile people.
You switch to TV or film.
Or you could be Jane Austen and be popular forever. Now that's somehow a contradiction.
Not all best sellers are masterpiece, but all masterpieces are best-seller.

So you set out to produce a masterpiece.
You get it all down with the patience of a watchmaker. And you send it out.

Comes the reply, "Could be pushed through for an absurdist, surreal masterpiece."

What in *&^^% is an "absurdist, surreal masterpiece"? Bram Stoker or Jean Genet come to mind, but I was never into horror or prison rape.

Maybe prison educator JR is in the right place. You're sure as hell going to get material there.
It's not the kind of sex you'd want to write about, but I've heard it said that down in "shops", prisoners would saw off a length of pipe and offer it as a ring to the cellblock" girlfriend".
Party at the County Jail.
Prison band was there
And they began to wail
--Especially Charlie, who didn't like that kind of stuff in the first place.

Well, three years of publishing drought.
"Your talent wasn't strong enough to carry you, Ivan," a hiss from a former rival with whom I once had to share a prize. He remains "in work" and making big bucks.

There are days when still I dumpster dive.
Ah, but I once wrote a story about this and brought the house down.

Thought it was an odd thing to do, but then I looked up Ivan Turgenev in Russian literature.
Hell, if the great Turgenev once had black boots sticking out of a dumpster, it had to be baroque enough for this Ivan.

And I'm not only baroque, but broke.

Well, I'm taking my advice from the best.
I'm gonna resuscitate something old, put a little gilt on it-- and along with the great Shakepeare with an old Seneca theme-- hit that old dumpster again.

There's gold in all them there cans.
If you please, John Cleese.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wile E. Coyote in therapy.


Like any borderline psychotic, I am keening, "If one more thing goes wrong..."
It did.
I have just laid out $500 to the dentist and a cap flies right off, giving me a gap-toothed appearance, like Snaggletooth the Lion.
And I'm starting to lisp because of the gap in the top left.
I used to make fun of guys who sounded like me. "Do you thnuff ducks".
I'd go off with a talk baloon over my head. "Friggin' retard."
Now I'm sounding like that challenged person.
The way I am, I might as well go snuffing Canada Geese which are everywshere in town honking for the road( and some of them actually cross on the green light).
But they are monogamous and scrappy, and it's egg-laying season.
Leave my goose and her eggs alone, or I'll cook yours.
"I'll s-s-s-snuff you all right," the gander hisses and chases me all over the park after I'd come across his/her nest. "And what's with the kid leather windbreaker? Did you make it out of your own kid?
Foul mouthed goose!
Ah well. It's about kids. Er, goslings. I almost aborted a couple of his.
Geese, geese, everywhere geese. Some of them have stopped flying South.
"Welfare" is too easy in Newmarket. You're not supposed to feed them, but everybody does.
And now they're everywhere. Laying their eggs in front of the Liquor store, in any patch of tulips.
Exciting the park perv, who finds something erotic in the way they flap their wings. Especially when he goes after them. "Hold her Newt. She's headin' for th alfalfa."
Ah, you can't take the country out of Salem. Newmarket is an old farmer's town suddenly turned yuppie. And so it seems, have the geese. The cornfields are gone, but the hippy geese stayed.
So it's not "beep-beep" as in the roadrunner and the Coyote, but Honk. Honk for the right of way!
I thought in the winter, the geese would get cold feet and fly away.
Nope.
They all gather under the bridge, waiting "fer to get their pay."
Of course, to the outsider Christma goose "on the web" is a tempting sight.
Better a tourist with a pistol than a foul-mouthed goose.
The poor challenged guy, who also has a touch of Parkinsons and walks with a cane, often chases the same lame gander with his cane. But Jerry is slow-moving and the gander waddles off, craning his neck back to hiss adefiant "F-off"!
I watched the two of them. The goose ahead of Jerry with his little hop.
Jerry immediately behind, with his cane, also doing a little hop.
Both were suffering damnably, but the gander got away.
No Christmas dinner.
I think I saw them both heading for the foodbank right downtown.
"Hey, save some for us!" as they saw me filling out the form."
Now I can't even eat food bank food. There is usually no bread (At the Food bank?) and they give you crackers.
Crackers. With no teeth.
Well, there is a goose with an attitude in town. Jerry's goose.
"My name isn't Sarah, it's Sam. And I don't want a cracker, I want a BJ.
Gander definitely has an attitude.
And I can't even eat a cracker.
##

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What were you before you became a writer?


What were you before you became a writer?

What were you before you surrendered the vows of logic, common sense, being a productive and rational citizen, and went off fishing in forbidden streams and hunt strange moonbeams in the dark?

Hah. Only the shadow knows. Your shadow.

Dostoevky says we should be engineers, not the chasers of whims, of fantasy, of (as only old Fyodor could say it)--buggery....Well, for women writers, it would be something else. Certainly self-expression.

But I think it's really the id. "I want. I want."

The id. Keeping a lid on the id.

Norman Podhoretz used to say that a good piece of writing leads to high euphoria. Even masturbation.

Well, I think I'm starting to find out what he meant by his old book title," Making it".

Many wondered what it was he had actually made. Self-made man!

And Philip Roth capped it all with a first draft called "Whacking Off", which he eventually changed into Portnoy's Complaint.

Poor Alexander Portnoy writing valentines to a pound of the family's liver. Alec, how could you?

Every man's Mede....

Ah well, I am casting Persians.

The damn compulisiveness you develop and you turn from real life and become a writer.

My life is falling apart alll around me, but it's the words, the beautiful words.

This, of course is behaviour that is very nearly infantile.

Remember in your teens and twenties, how earnest you were, how good? Disciplined. Rational. Logical.

...Makes me think of that song by Supertramp.

And now what?

Sell out your grandmother for a story, going along with William Faulkner in the bragaccio that "good art is is worth any number of old ladies"?

Ah. Rogue profession.

But would you want to try any other?

It's too late, in any event.

Better shot as rapist than a chicken-plucker I suppose.

And I really must end this and get back to real life.

The landlord's at the door.

What use has he for "the beautiful words"?
And mine aren't too purdy.

##



Friday, May 23, 2008

Droll Story



It is the third day after the full moon, and one is still free from nerve storms, odd compulsions, and cries of "Loren" over a lost love. If only I'd done this, or done that!.

No matter. The current "Param" is gone after ripping all the pictures off the wall. Her therapist had told her, oddly, that she should always show her anger. The therapist sounded to me like a nutbar .

She was on the phone today. "Goofus! I'm sorry. I'm in Toronto with my sister. I'll be back tomorrow night.
Pick me up at the GO."

Sister all right. There was this guy from Texas always in the background.
Guess she tore down all his pictures too.

I like Texans. They're a lot like Newfoundlanders. No mincing of words. A straight-ahead philosophy.

A Newfie will observe: "Every man's got to eat a tonna shit."

(I sincerely hope they change their diet out there in the outports).

A Texan will say, "If you can't solve a problem, can't get around it, or under it, you kick the shit out of it!

There were certainly days when I wanted to "kick the shit" out of The Param. But besides the manic-depressiveness, hypoglacemia, and hairdresser talk, she was movie-star beautiful, with long delicate hands and a body like Nicole Kidman's. I could not keep the men away from her when we went pubbing. And on the beach, prancing around in a bikini--forget it.
Something of a philosopher herself, she would tell me to stop swearing when I mentioned Immanuel Kant, she would quickly add, "Get in touch with your feelings."

I held her as beautiful but stupid, till one day, after a night of sex, she had said, quietly, "Finding out about yourself?"

Professor Rath caught in mufti.

"You were doing what?" asked my carpenter friend.

Mufti. It's a disguise.

"Oh.

"I was just going to say, that in a world of yin and yang, so many men want to play yin."

"What is this? Zen and the art of scaffold maintenance?

"Well, you once wrote the book on that. And I read it.


I hang around with failed MIT candidates.

"Don't feel so bad about MIT. I hear there's a whole faculty there trying to put together an erection.
Women's Lib and all that. They're under pressure."

"Damn lab reports." He was still smarting over the failure.

So he became a master cabinet maker, had his own business, and still he wasn't happy.

" I want to be a Ryerson Institute of Technology guy like you."

"No big deal, " I'd said. "All you have to do is sit there till you get to the advanced degree. Get in good with your faculty advisor to get that constant A, and that's all there is to it."

Aeronautical engineering. Glorified model airplane making. And you can get a degree out of it.

But airplanes have to do witth the spirit.

My spirit is droopy tonight.

Sixteen hours till the Param comes back. You look at the minute hand on the clock face. You can actually see it moving.

No matter how "together" you think you are, the Furies do come.

Three-thirty in the morning and your insides are rumbling--maybe all philosophy is an upset stomach-- while the moon moons all over you through the window.
Self-conscious and alone. And the furies keep coming. If only. If only I hadn't left my wife.

The Param was not the kind of woman my former wife would have cared to know socially. Southern Californa, where the sun seems to bake people's brains. "Get in touch with your feelings." "What time does the ocean close?"

No, the wife had been intelligent. Maybe intelligent enough to rid herself of a dog-in-the-manger husband, herself a bit dog-in-the-manger, having piggy-backed onto my dream and when the money came, well, dog-in-the-manger all the more.
Two rich fuck-ups becoming a viable one.

It worked for a long time.

Ah well. A little like two PhD's in the same family.

There is animosity.

And I got that piece of paper and got the book published.

And stupid me had to rub her nose into it.

Hell hath no fury.

"Give her a little time to catch up with you," the carpenter had said.

But I had developed an ego about the size of Newfounland. Me? God's chosen? Being treated like this?

"Dunno pal. With this California bomber you've dropped a bit in taste for women.

"Ah. Yeah. But there are things she does...."

"TMI".

Ah, he sighed ruefully. MIT!

"Never too late, Newt. Try U. of T.


Ah. Newt descending his staircase.

I was descending my own staircase.

Losing an intelligent, attractive wife to--say it on--a bimbo.

But the "bimbo" was relationship-wise. "Depressed, honeybunch? That's what you get when you fuck around with us broads."

Ah Hemingway and his struggle. The upper head and the lower head. Damn thing has no conscience.

Over-stimulated man. Can be led around by he nose.

"Do you want to live, or do you want to die?" asks the therapist the Param had sent me to.

Ah. : "Get in touch with your feelings."

"But that's the whole point. I have betrayed my wife, and I have betrayed myself. Get in touch with that and you want to put a gun to your head."

"Finding out about yourself, lover?"

And I thought the Param was stupid.

Professor Rath and the Blue Angel.

Kick the shit out of the Texan. But there will be others.

I open the fridge and take out a beer.


3:30 blues.

That's all it is.

And the auras of too many lovers.

And the strange, unexpected feeling in the morning.

That one had been born again.

##

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"DIFFICULTIES CREATE ART"


Well, trouble with my computer all weekend, and now trouble with Blogger: It won't put up my pictures.

First the bad news turned, miraculously, good.

It is a trait in my family to be unable to find things....I could not find the yellow internet cable to connect my modem to my hard drive.

This is not new.

I read a book on the famous G spot. I read the book and realized how little I knew about sex education.

Ah. The family absentminedness. Not only could I not find the G spot; I lost the @#$%ing book!

Same thing with the internet cable. Lost it too. And then found it, picked up the cable, dropped cable and lost the belt to my pants.

Indeed, I'll say it again. Who invented my life?

"Buck-up, F*ck-up!" I hear the little nagging alter ego chiding me.

Well, Ma Bell came to my aid with the technical help. I managed to somehow plug both ends of the cable in the right places and voila, I am back on the air.
I am in debt to Bell technical support.

But this blogging problem with the pictures is one I do not want to solve right now; "quit while you're ahead" sort of thing.

There are other matters.

I have re-established contact with an editor who once fired me for leaning too hard on my research on the fest of Halloween. "Go 'interview' Halloween," he had said, "And write about it."
I could not find a witch and leaned instead on the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Hell, they had some good articles on Haloween.

You couldn't fool the editors.

Well, lately I came back to Mr. Editor, my tail between my legs, but what the hell, I needed work

"Ha," you're back," said the editor.

(I had been fired by the Star a total of three times. This jack-in-the- box series of round-robins was starting to tire me out....The last story I got fired over was about a goose at a Newmarket railway crossing. The goose had fallen in love with a southbound GO train--There was something about the green -and-white lettering on the locomotive, the gold emblem and the smiling engineer that made the goose go all feathers. It kept chasing he train, and one day there was closure.

I wrote tthe obituary on Sara the Goose.
I recall tears. Urequited and tragic love.

"Asshole," said the editor, though with some envy.

"I can sit home all day and dream up stuff like that.
Hey, this is the big leagues. No Swoose Goose stories. You can't bullshit The Star."

So I went and interviewed a maker of model aipplanes, 727's, that could be put up in travel agencies. He made a living at it. I ended up making a living writing about him.

The Star gave me a good spread. And dramatic airplane photos; they had assigned me a photographer. My editor coldn't really fire me now as the story had been in the can and came out just when he was about to fire me.

"See? he grated with some admiration. "You had difficulties with your Goose story.
Take it from me. Difficulties create art."

And he signed the cheque for my model airplane story.

Well, this time he's with the Globe and Mail and I don't want to screw up again.

"I have an animal story for you," I pipe up.

"Oh Gawd. Not again.
"You are a sucker for punishment, aren't you?

"Well, this time I hope I don't cook 'er. My goose, that is.
"It's about a man and a sheep."

"You dirty bastard," he had said.

"No, seriously, I had insisted. "I got artwork. I got pictures."

"You would."

"No. There's a guy in York Region who has given up on his polluting lawn mower and has instead offered to sheep-sit for a farmer The sheep will eat the grass while the world turns even greener."

"Well, I've always said your ideas were good. But it's your execution of those ideas."

"Your story had better be good, or there will indeed be an execution."

Jaysus.

I have started my story, but as it turned out, some kids have rustled the suburanite's sheep.

So I did a crime story.

"SHEEP FINGERED IN TRIAL. "

"SHEEP GOES BERSERK IN BONDAGE. SLAYS EIGHT.

"How do you dream up all this stuff?" the editor wanted to know.

"It better be true. I'm tired of firing you."

"I am a factual writer, " I protest.

"I have the court transcripts."

"This actually happened?"

Yeah, the sheep was actually a ram. Destroyed the kidnappers."

"Aha. The man-bites-dog story."

"Well, you[re lucky it's about animals. Animal stories always sell.

"But if you're leading me on a shandy, I'll fire you right now."

I had been builing up a slow, simmering restntment about this man for years.

"Up yours. If you don't take it, the old Star will.


And I just got the go-ahead from the Star.

Now it's the execution, now that I have been executed by the Globe.

Ah well.

Buck-up, F*ck-up!

...And my keyboard just went kaput.

Ah well. The editor had said difficulties create art.

This guy Art has been giving me an awful lot of trouble.

And I cant even put up the pictures on this post.

Difficulties, difficulties.

In the middle of sex, when I'm giving it all, the lady says, in high heat. "Do something!"

Carramba. What do you think I'm doing?

Still looking for that book.

##

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Years of self-denial.


Lord, it's so easy to produce drivel, and so hard to produce copy.

I think most of my problems come from having a too hard and too disciiplined a youth, and then joining the Air Force, where I was variously disciplined tear-gassed, called a prick and set out on parade.

Well, it turned out that the disciplne was good for future prrojects, like university and novel writing.
"You must have a lot of discipline," said an edtor. To produce a novel from scratch and still have it come out readable." He had a grant okay for me at the top of his desk.

"Years of self-denial,"I bragged.
(My wife, who had come along with me to the office had had grinned, "You never denied yourself a thing.").
Well, she knows my ins- and- outs.

Ah but the trouble with a guy who has had a hard life and had bullied himself into the middle class.
The struggle for survival was now pretty well. over. Strawberry Field Forever, it seemed.

Ah, but Catch 22.

You start doing things because you can and then you get into trouble.
I'll never go to another strip club again.

I am walking around a strip club floor, wearing a woman.
I had just joined some friends, out of curiosity. She came to my table, starkers, and announced she was mine.
Egad. I was married. There had to be a way out. "I am gay," I announced, hoping this would have the right effect.
"No problem," the brunette said. "So am I."
Then she proceeded to wrap herself around me. I tried to leave the table, but I was encumbered.
So here I am on the strip club floor, wearing a naked woman who just wouldn't let go.

I tried for the exit, but all houses of ill repute have all doors going in, and the doors out locked.

We did the oddest dance and for the longest time, and I somehow managed to extricate myself.

It wasn't pretty. Hell hath no fury. "If you say you're gay, what are you doing here?"

Well what was I doing here anyway.

Years of self-denial.

Now the protracted adolescence. Had to see carnal sights.
Never got all those beautiful high school queens.

Devil on my shoulder with a miniature pitchfork.

"If it feels good, do it."

Little angel on the rifght shoulder. "You'll lose everything!"

I almost did.

There were some ladies in the club out for a night on the town and they had visited the club out of curiosity. I think one of them knew my wife.

Nothing like Ivan doing the Hopak with a naked stripper for a sash around his baggy cossack pants.

There was a great formality around the breakfast table for many a month as I tried to explain.

"Hah. Years of self-denial. Bullroar!"


But as a writer, you do need discipline.

You can pick it up in the army or you can train yourself.

But no discipline, no seriouss work.

Which reminds me.

I have an article to write, but it's much more fun producing drivel like this.

............................

"All those whose mother is still alive, step forward!

"Uh-uh. Not so fast, Jones!"

##

Friday, May 16, 2008

Here we go again. The Wigged-out Prof





I have had the below story with a publisher for six weeks. She says if there is no response in four weeks, it can be assumed that the piece was not taken.

Maybe it's because I keep playing the same song all the time, and not entirely avoiding self-pity.
Blogger Josie certainly thinks I should get out and do some children's stories or something. Anything but the same old saw.

Ah well.

Here comes the McCulloch again. Chain saw.


Thirty years ago, on a bright January day, I decided to quit working as an untenured professor of english and learn something about life. I had taken a walk round the staff corridors and thought about what lay behind the doors, some of them open a crack because a department head may have had claustrophobia. We were all developing a kind of claustrophobia. We were overworked and overstimulated in our trimester-terraced vinyards...No summer holidays for us.
We were all about the same age, abut forty, but some of us were already grey-haired, grey-sweatered, grey-faced. Some of my colleagues weren't any too well. I decided it was time to go. So I did.
My intention had been to be a writer and not a teacher, and now as I neared forty, I came to realize that if you did not at least become an interesting minor in what some writers have termed "the breakthrough decade", you were condemned to these ivied grey walls forever, especially if you did not have tenure..

I had to take a calculated risk. I quit fulltime employment to strike out as a professional writer.

Some kind of law in the universe: Everything takes longer than you think.

The manusctipt you'd been tinkering with was amounting to a work of some 360 pages and much of it was so uneven that major rewrite was needed. And there was food and rent to pay. Where was that money going to come from?
I dabbled a bit in freelance writing for the magazines, placed some stories, was rejected in others. The landlord was now no longer a friend.
Hey, this was getting to be like the classical story of the starving writer, the cashing in of beerbottles, the finessing of the rent, the poor wife and children wondering what had become of dear old dad.
Second law of the universe: Love isn't enough. Soon the wife took a job and presently she and the kiddies were gone. Oh Lord, was I learning about life. Divorce was just around the corner.
Suddenly, I was self-conscious and alone, just me and my manuscript.
This was a part of my grand design?

I decided to leave the country. Isn't that what all the famous artists did--go to Tahiti or, at least, some place where the living was cheap? I opted for Mexico.

Here at last, in some writers' colony, I would be where the other writers were. I might even find ways to an American publisher, so many expatriate writers living there in a place called San Miguel de Allende.

It was a good move, it seemed to me. I enrolled ina writing course In San Miguel, there to be taught by the likes of Vance Packard, Bob Sommerlott and that great spinner of yarns, Clifford Irving. Finally in my element. Canada seemed like such a "down" culture from my new home with its arches and its porticos, its bougainfvillea and Mariachi bands.
Ah Margarittaville!

The letters from home were not cheerful. "If you knew how deeply I resent you for doing what you have done."

The marriage was definitely on the stones, and my leaving seemed just another mistake.

I started again rewriting my novel, which took up an increasingly large amount of time, albeit in a most enjoyable and interesting way. I got to be a teaching assistant, and as the established "profs" went their separate ways, I was soon promoted to teacher of writing.
Full circle. I was back in the classroom, though this time in another country.
What was God telling me?
That I was a marginal writer, but a good teacher?
I finished my semester, finished my novel and hightailed it back to Toronto.
I felt somehow like John Voight in the movel, Deliverance.
I had done it, gone through the hard times and the marriage break-up, the love affairs, some of them profane.
And the strange lesson was that what I had sought had been next door all along.
I had learned enough about life. Enough about emotional rolle-coasting, loss of wife, children, home.
This was just too much material, too much storm and stress.

I ended up publishing the novel at my own expens; no one would immediately publish my work. But I had made some sort of statement, and there was an Ontario Arts Council grant in the offing as at least part-reward for my strivings and explorations. The grant said, in effect, "You are for real."
But I think I had finally learned something.
The blessed familiarity of the chalkboard and the overhead projector!
Don't tempt the fates.
You can die of your dream.
Like you can die of middle age.

The nagging thought came, that I had somehow saved my life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Drunk agin. And in the classroom!


I am replaying the tapes of my life. Bastards won't stop.

Especially after a couple of drinks.

Again, no future, but what a past.

Many years ago, I attened the Instituto Allende as a graduate student in Writing. At the time, the Instituto was a satellite campus of the University of California. It would have been nice paper to get. Almost as good as the great writing programme at Irvine, because all the good instructors were finally there. Vance Packard, Bob Sommerlott, Tom Mayer and the like, all producers of best sellers.
But there was trouble at the ranch. A dispute with the owner of the instituto, and suddenly the pro writer-professors left in a huff.
No profs.

So they recruited me. I had taught in Toronto, had the paperwork, and suddenly, il prefessore. Again.

Well. A flash of performance anxiety. What would I teach the kids?...well, adults really, most of them on the GI bill; they had to stay in school fer to keep collecting the money.

So I sort of told them about myself, my own quest, teaching the course through telling the students who I was, my influences and publication credits.

And my fascination with the fictional character of Phoebe Zeitgeist.

Hegel says Zeitgeist is the spirit of the age. Well, this character was certainly the spirit of the age. Cold war age.
I told them about the late Michael O'Donoghue, an alumnis of SNL and former editor of Evergreen Magazine and his creation there of Phoebe Zeitgeist.

Actually, I had a drink before my lecture, always a mistake, for you will ramble and shout wild things, and somebody might even decided to call 9ll.

Anyway, here is how my virgin lecture went.
Drunken virgin.

" It was Norman Mailer who first posited the novel as "The Great Bitch. "The Great Bitch , La Belle Damme Sans Merci, that unattainable Helen of Troy that gets you just about there, but not all the way, and leaves you howling at the moon, sometimes for years. You go to pursue. You scheme. You plan. To no avail. You will never be with her.
I do feel that I have been chasing The Great Bitch all these years with the feeling that I was the only guy in town who couldn't get laid in a Ho-house. Now Mailer is an experienced enough artist to tell the novice writer that getting laid is not really the the point, it's producing the book about almost being laid, as in the original version of John Fowles masterpiece, "The Magus". At least that's what I got out of Mailer's "An American Dream," for all its gaucheries and crudities. ( Not to say, ever, that Mailer is gauche or crude, it's just that the embittered PI in the piece seemed gauche and crude. And violent. Treated women like the Russian whoremasters of all the 'Stans today.. Was it the woman or the unattainable novel that I sought? So I went looking for someone who had a theme, a historical theme and a plan. Well as always thoroughout my misguided education, I had to go back to comic strips.

My quest started in the late Sixties. I found, in a magazine, a comic book collaboration between geniuses Michael O'Donoghue and Robert Springer, "The Adventures of Phoebe-Zeitgeist", a gorgeous drop-dead Moonbeam McSwine, almost out of old All Capp, perhaps, but nothing McSwinish about Phoebe- Zeitgeist. She is beautiful, especially when drawn nude and in extremely stressful situations. She is a Serbian debutante, an aristocrat, really .
Phoebe-Zeitgeist, the belle of any ambassadorial ball, is suddenly kidnapped and captured by a series of bizarre characters, such as crazed Eskimos, Nazis, Communist Russians, Chinese foot fetishists and lesbian assassins. She does have a hard time of all this. She is variously rescued, recaptured and rescued again.
Hey, former soldiers, wouldn't you have loved to have rescued Phoebe from the clutches of those evil Red Chinese, Russian Communists and all the assorted rejects of Katmandu.
( I was fresh out of liberal arts school, still high on old Hege;'s notions on the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, that old German shepherd seeming more abreast of the times even today, than he was during Bismarck's reign, where a united Germany seemed to be the actual zeitgeist. And Hegel had all the brains). Of course, right now America seems to have it all. But brains?

Bob Dylan: Don't let Henry Kissinger tie you in a knot...When you gonna wake up?).

But cut to the chase: I was inspired inspired by the best art of my time, like Howl, by Allen Ginsburg, Advertisments for Myself by Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac and, especially Michael O'Donoghue. His was the "Mr. Bill", plasticine puppet on Saturday Night Live, always being dismembered by some sadistic ogre-puppet .("Oh, Oh, no! Ooooh!)

I was half in love and on the way to writing a beautiful novel about Toronto, and if not that, at least meet my personal Phoebe-Zeitgeist. A naked woman in chains, political correctness be damned,was a huge turn- on for a young horny fool who wanted to write. I had to be as good as Micheal O'Donoghue. I had to find a love object as beautiful as Phoebe-Zeitgeist.

Three novels later, I found myself in the unenviable position of an old balding guy in love with a woman who may well have been out of an erotic coming book, myself the very epitome of some pimply guy with a guttering candle stuck his head, looking for Paris Hilton.

Always the Phoebe- Zeitgeist comic strip in Evergreen, Grove Press and even Playboy . Michael O'Donoghue's perfervid imagination, a Diogenes not with a candle in his hand, but with a candle on the top of his head, the picture of his chained porn queen firmly embedded in te demented seeker's brain, and he had to get her. "Gotta get!"
I had somehow stumbled, after my three novels upon this untenured professorship and the porn queen seemed to suddenly appear live as you or me. Professor and the Blue Angel.
I was not aware, in those days that women who went to night school risked the House of the Rising Sun, if not serious marital difficulties.
But my Phoebe was more than a graduate student. She was, in fact, an alumnus of the House of the Rising Sun. Seem lately, there were so many former hookers in Toronto are taking Creative Writing Classes. Or so it had seemed to me. And why not? What are you going to do with a plodding statistician husband, and you with all the imgination?
She told me she was an actress--and what an actress, I later found out as I checked out her VCR tapes. I was in love with the BJ queen of Holland Landing.

Ah the professor and the Blue Angel. Uncle Vanya and Phoebe-Zeitgeist.

There was a dungeon in her basement. We would visit it on her off days, when the pimp was away dealing drugs in Edmonton out of little red Toyota trucks. But it was not me that she sought. It was the idea of me, the tweedy prof, raconteur, classical guitar player (Learned it from Liona Boyd, at least some Ponce preludes).
What she really needed was a new pimp, at least one who didn't have to dress up in her clothes, put on her panty-hose, high boots and somewhow finally get himself off.

I was seriously out of my league. She dumped me for a new pimp. I hardly had the resources. She stopped bedding me, of course, terminating what passed for sex between us. I still had her in the hippocampus of my groin. I had her smell. "Better easy conquests, said old Herodotus. Better that, or your body will drive you mad as you seek the unattainable." Yet there I was, in middle age, the candle on top my head, a character, suddenly out of Michael O'Donoghue.( Mr. O'Donoghue was by now dying of cancer quitting his Saturday Night Live position).
Why him? He was, after all, the genius of my quest, the explainer, the interpreter of our time. I was just a follower...( With the candle on my head).Yeah, yeah, it's fun to be a genius, of course, but keep that old candle before the cart. Listening to Bob Seeger all this time.

Twenty years
Where'd they go
Twenty years, I don't know.
I sit there wonder some times
Where they'd gone.

I beat up the pimp and have scattered the foot-fethishists and lesbian assassins. The PI side of me. Had to break it up. Hero in my own novel. But to me she would still not come. She went to others. Still the candle on my head.Art imitating life?...I had the spookiest notion that she was art and I was life, not the other way around.I sit here on a rock, along with my old Bob Seeger and Julian Lennon tapes, my old walkman with me. Daydreaming in the park."Sittin' on a pebble by the river playin' guitarWonderin' if we'll ever get that far."Doing the Ivan-man.


I was surprised by the applause, but I will never teach drunk again.

Uh, or write a blog drunk agin.

##

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Would you take a used novel from this man?


Would you take a used blog from this man?

No?

How about a used novel?

I still get comments on an old posting, titled "It was only One Night for Dante".

Latest from Egypt, asking me to come on over on a temporary visa. "Stay as long as you like."

That was pretty well the deal on my Mexican tourist visa,which had to be renewed every six months, or one would get kicked out.

Ah exotic places. Exotic women.

Dance of the seven veils.

Or no veils.

Or no avail.

"Vanity, all is vanity," says the preacher. "Of the writing of books, there is no end."

Apochrypha. "Added to."

Added to the Bible, but the tone is Buddhist. The Bible leaves nothing out. Every possiblity of human posibility.

So someone wants me to go to Egypt.

Poor Egypt. No future. But what a past!

Kinda like this old life about now.

Almost seventy and f*cked up.

All right for a kid, but not for a hysterically young guy of 69.

No future, but what a past.

Ah the past, when we thought we were all done for, but were actually high in crerativity and even higher on booze, sex and the good stuff. Lost in your own rock and roll.

So, still getting feedback on exerpts of an old novel of mine, I will recycle something:



A writer is a person who writes. We write, do we not. How is it that in the course of our lives, we leave an entire universe behind and make a quantum leap into another. Were we pushed?No matter. We are somehow in a Christ-like state, the time where one could not be touched, for he was entering another dimension. Snapped continuity.
Hank Williams: A false goodbye, a life is shattered.
Strange, this Chapter Thirteen of my LIGHT OVER NEWMARKET
I was very fidgety on the train. It seemed that I had been on this train making this border trip forever. Like being in a dream. Val and I had only made this very same trip a few days ago. Now it's me solo. Back on the same train, the same border trip. Anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, these were the demons that were driving me. The trip was a blur. An overnight one. I found I couldn't sleep in the seat I'd been assigned to. (I couldn't afford an antique Pullman this time because I simply hadn't the money). As it was, I was striking out almost blind, with only enought money in my pocket to get me to about Dallas-Fort Worth. I had been in such a rush to go, just go, just to strike out for Toronto and get to Loren before she was in that bastard's power, sexual power, no small thing when a a woman switches men. Or men switch women? I was still young enough to trust my insticts, my mottoes, my certainties. Motion in itself was life and I was sure moving.
Recent flashbacks came, like the ubiquitous prickly pears out the train window. Oh, life in the new dimension had been good. We were the most famous couple in old Manuel Hidalgo. What was it that I had seen and felt, when new girlfriend Valerie and I were actors together in the Instituto theatre?
I had surprised myself by having become as good an actor as Valerie had been an actress. Something I didn't know about her past life? We had been involved in a comedy skit and I recall memorizing my lines again and again, no matter how much initial anxiety and pain I was beginning to feel as I fought back the fight-or-flight rushes of my separation from Loren.
Valerie had a quick and facile memory; I needed to be more surefooted. I had read and reread entire lines of the script, committing it all to memory, not just once, but several times, learning and re-learning so that I could not only keep up to Valerie but to surpass her. I was not yet forty. No woman, no other person could show me in a bad light. I could not be intellectually outperformed. Maybe Valerie had gotten it right on that railway platform. "The key to you is your ego. Simple." Simple! And all that time I thought she had the brains of a hairdresser...
My foray into acting was still fresh in my mind. During and up to the time of the dress rehearsal, I had in my now anxious state the intimation that my life was in danger. I wasn't given much to clairvoyant imaginings, but the conviction had been there. Your life in danger. And then the sudden focusing in my mind on my mother and my father. Who are you, Dmytro? Who are you Paraskeva? I had to, at the age of 39, fully apprehend who my mother and father were. I was not Irish, like my friends. I had only seen myself that way for most of my life. Most everybody around me was Irish-Canadian. But I was not. I was some sort of carbon-copy Irishman and not a very good one at that. Small matter really.
I was now on a train bound somewhere to north Texas, with about fifty dollars in my pocket, and some of the money already frittered on cokes and cigarettes...
Toward evening, I was becoming more and more fidgety; I couldn't sit still. I went back to the tiny cubicle at the far end of the car that served as a bar and had four Corona de Barils. Self-medication. I had to calm down.
Back in my seat, I tried to sleep, but sleep wouldn't come, only more fidgetiness and more anxiety. The nerve of that woman! Telling me goodbye out-of-hand, ending it just like that after ten years of marriage. And all in such a nice unsentimental tone, not even an echo of our married years together. Bitch. Insensitive woman. She was completly in the wrong.
Early the next day, with the train clacking through the immemorable adobe hamlets, and, finally the outskirts of Monterrey, I was more agitated and upset than ever, not having slept a wink. I had been so since Loren's letter, the maddening insomnia, the endless need to smoke, to drink, drink anything, coffee or beer, all of those substances combining to drive me even deeper into a sate of near-panic and woe.
A customs man boarded the train. He was checking tourist visas and passports. He came up to me and asked to see my passport and my tourist visa. I produced both. The mustachioned official, who spoke perfect English and had the trained eye of the experienced border guard, said out of his tin soldier's moustache and crips uniform: "I will have to keep your passport, for examination, Senor." Panic. At no time are you to surrender your passport to enyone unless its only for perusal. The official wanted to take it out of hand. "I can't let you do that. You can't walk away with my passport. Look, it says so right here.
"I do not care what it says on your passport. I will take it now, I will keep it and you will keep your mouth shut while I'm examining. Go to your section of the car and wait. We will be in the dining car."
A familiar need to void my bowels came upon me. Jesus. They will keep my passport; they will throw me in some dingy jail. I'll be dungeoned and forgotten. I remembered the stories of those who had been imprisoned in Tijuana, the large central pissoir in the open cell, the feces, the lack of food, the brutality of the guards. Gad.
I went to the washroom cubicle and had a good look at myself. A passable looking man, fairly well dressed, but the hair, the hair. It was hanging to almost my shoulders, silvery blond, scraggly, unkempt. I looked like a hippie who had somehow gotten himself a Salvation Army worsted suit that happened to fit. You look like a fugitive!
Back to my seat now, worried about the fact that I may not get to Toronto at all, let alone solve what I had to solve with Loren.
Back came the customs official. I decided to be firm, that I would demand my passport back on pain of incarceration or worse.
Visor- cap trundled up to me. I opened my mouth, but was flagged by the blue-black book the senior official was holding in his hand. "Your passport, Senor." Teapot crisis.
I got off the train at Nuevo Laredo and took a taxi for the border crossing. The first place I ordered the taxi driver to go was the duty free liquor store where I purchased the biggest bottle of Tequila that I could find. This was serious business. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't getting through the nights. The tequila would help me. It had always helped in the past.
Across the border, nothing to declare but the luggage and the tequila. Back over the Rio Grande in a blur, on foot, back past the same little shops that carried the duty free goods, back to look down over the river, where farmers' fields and dirt patches ended at the muddy gorge. I walked back into Laredo on the American side.
What a shock. And for the second time: everybody in American Laredo--everyone--was still Mexican. Not a Caucasian face in sight. I had the first twinge of regret over what I was doing. Only a scant week ago, Valerie and had been at this very spot along with Lucille, the stunning Southern belle who could write so Southern, about Good Ole Boys, and women kept penned like farm animals.
There was George Calvert, her boyfriend, George divorcing his wife and keeping Goldie Hawn Lucille as a mistress. Dave taught photography at the Instituto in Manuel Hidalgo. He was also a drawing master at some school in Oklahoma. He had a lot to be proud of; an accomplished man. After months of standoffishness back at the Instituto, he was finally accepting me as a friend. We had all been together on the border trip, something of a necessary ritual in our Manuel Hidalgo set-- No new tourist visa, you don't stay in Mexico. Lucille, George and Valerie had all been friends even before Valerie had met me. Could Valerie and George have been lovers before Lucille came on the scene? Now I was in the self-same spot that we had been standing on, just scant days ago, during our mutual shopping jaunt, in front of the same motel we'd all stayed in, and I was so angry, so self-conscious and so alone.
As I went to book into the hotel the only thing on my mind was Loren. Loren, Loren, why did she dismiss me so out- of- hand, what was she thinking? How could she end this marriage, just like that, with no sparks, with no attempt to get me back, with no hint of a fight, of acrimonly even. Just a straight Dear John. The hotel room was at least comfortable, almost identical to the one Valerie and I had slept in so very recently. Standard motel layout. American. Predictable and familiar after the relatively comfort-deprived state of things in Mexico. There was the colour television and its somehow comforting whine of the cablecast channel before the backround elevator music came on. They had an endless tape of of the by- now unfamiliar popular songs of the past year. Hits would play and I could not identify them. I had missed a part of the seventies. "Cheap Perfume and Candle light". And something by Merle Haggard, "Are the Good Times Really Over For Good?". I took a deep pull of the tequila and though about Loren and what I wa going to do, or what I was going to say to her.
...............end chapter thirteen

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Dear Mom: It's a bastard!...........Dear Son: So are you.


DAMN--I GOT THE WRONG PICTURE.
IT'S MOTHER'S DAY!
Have to take a break from my play I've been putting up here, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD

They say you have to break the work, or the work breaks you.

Well, I like to think one is" bloody but unbowed", but it is Mother's Day in any event and I'll have to make the pilrgimage to Hamilton, Ontario, where the Krupps have made an inroad, and one more indurstry was sold--uh, not to the American

German.

We sell our oil to anybody but Ontario, and now the very industrial forge of Ontario is in foreign hand.
I swear I will write a book (in German )one day, titled Dumpkopf Kanadischen, but that's another story.

I swear there are days when I'm convinced that Canada works because everybody's incompetent and easily bought. And now Saskatchewan is for sale because they've found more oil there than in Alberta....And that's something, because there is more oil in A;berta than there is in Iraq. Nobody will invade us, except possibly the friendly Chinese, who are already in Ft. McMurray and have eyes for Saskatchewan.
Ah well, the more the merrier, though most of my Chinese friends would rather elecit information than a joke.
Quick studies, yes, but they have no time for jokes...Uh, we are the joke.

Stupid Canada. Charging almost no royalites and selling it all.
And who knows what's under the ground in Manitoba.

Selling our souls for a mess of pottage.

But I digress--like right off topic.

It is Mother's Day.

There is a bond between mother and son, the primal relationship, and this almost hits Oedipus proportions.

Woody Allen and his "Oedipus Wrecks"

Ah well, keep it in the family

The bond shows in the strangest ways. "Mama gonna feed you," runs the pizza ad on TV.

I visited my mother at the old age home recently. She insisted on feeding me during her supper time. There was something charming about that.

I am almost seventy years old, but there I was, with bib and tucker, and listening intently to my mother while being fed. She had insisted on it.
Took the food right off her own plate, and filled mine. There is something either pathetic or toucing about the scene.

"His mother's head on his father's shoulders." That's how Italian-American writer Pietro di Donato described Hemingway and after Hemingway had said Italy was a great, "but the place is full of Wops.".

Ah well. Hamilton is a great city, but it's full of Yakshamayesh types.

Hey, they might have cabbage rolls on Mother's day.

Gotta keep up that old ethnic quotient.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Professor Fires a Guided Missive





The professor is stymied once again in his restionship with whom he now terms the bitch-goddess Celia.
She has tricked him out of having sex with her is obviouly involved with not only her husband but with another man, and he knows he's a fith wheel in her life, a kind of female with a penis who can act like a sounding board, make her feel normal. There is vast difference between the addicted and the non-addicted, and the professor, when out at the Grey Goat alone, had met people who knew Celia in the past."The pint-sized blonde? Oh yeah.
Man, she really loves the coke...will do anhting for it....Anything....And that yuppie with the patches on his sleeve and the newsboy hat seems to have all the money and drugs in the worl. Hell, he woks for Connaught Laboratories. Tortures monkeys for a living. Lab animals. But there are drugs and drugs over there. ANd he's got 'em.
And so we move on to ACIII, Scene Three in my play, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD.


INT. DAY

THE PROFESSOR IS IN HIS TORONTO APARTMENT, A BACHELOR WITH A SINK IN THE CORNER, A DAVENPORT AND A WRITING DESK. THERE ARE BEER BOTTLES ALL OVER THE FLOOR.
. HE IS HUNGOVER AND IS PACING THE FLOOR.
HE RUNS HIS HANDS OVER HIS HAIR. TRIPS OVER AN EXTENSION CORD LEADING TO HIS TELEPHONE, WHICH FALLS FROM THE PARSON" TABLE ON WICH IT HAD RESTED. HE RAISES HIS HANDS TO THE ROOF IN FRUSTRATION AND GOES HEAD OVER TEAKETTLE TO LAND IN A CLUSTER OF BEER BOTTLES. HE RISES, REPLACES THE PHONE AND GOES TO THE FRIDGE, OUT OF WHICH HE PRODUCES A BEER. HE SITS DOWN AT HIS DESK AND DRINKS THE BEER.

THE TELEPHONE, APPARENTLY NOT MORTALLY WOUNDED, RINGS.

HE GETS UP FROM THE DESK AND GOES ACROSSS THE ROOM TO THE PARSON"S TABLE, WHERE HE PICKS UP THE PHONE, AGAIN RUNNING HIS HAND THROUGH HIS HAIR, WHICH IS DISHEVELLED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

PROFESSOR

Hello

VOICE AT OTHE END
Hi, is that you?

PROFESSOR
Of course it's me, who the....?

IT IS CELIA ON THE PHONE
Oh, I was worried that I may have had the wrong number. Got it from your pal, John Losell...You know John the Loser.

THE PROFESSOR

So you found the old lifeboat. Didn't want to tell anybody about this place. Nice to hear from you though.

CELIA.
Heh( pause)

CELIA
David, I feel so bad about Mnday night. You musnt't think that I don't care....I've sent you a letter to your Toronto address over there. You should have it by now. It may be a little disjointed, but I've sent it anyway. David, I care.
You know I care.

THE PROFESSOR.
Oh yeah.

CELIA
Yeah. I know that it's a strange relationship. But it has value. And we can overcome out problems.. Itls going to take some time, but I'm sure things will work out.

THE PROFESSOR GOES INTO A LINE FROM A CURRNE POP SONG
"Never met a girl like you before."

CELIA

Never met a man like you before. You are fascinating.

THE PROFESSOR.
Yeah. Comes with the territory.

CELIA.
Are you angry with me? Don't be.
David, listen. I have sent you a letter . It should be in your mailbox right now.
Got to go now. I tried to explain everything in the letter.
SHE HANGS UP.

THERE IS A DIAL TONE AS THE PROFESSOR PLACES THE OLDFASHIONED DIAL PHONE ON ITS RECEIVER.

THE PROFESSOR
Fucking women!

HE GOES TO HIS PILE OF MAIL IN THE PIGENHOLE RESERVED FOR MAIL UP ON A RACK. HE FINDS CELIA'S LETTER, LOOKS OVER IT, AND THEN SITS DOWN AT HIS DESK.

CELIA'S VOICEOVER
Dear Daniel,
Dinner Monday night and the subsequent musical entertainment was truly a joy! Seeing you sitting there, in that stifling little room, in the stifling heat, sweating and caught up with your music was one of those moments I shall not easily forget. It was one of those occasions one should like to preserve in amber, freeze in time. The Franco-Ukrainian plays and sings very well indeed!
There certainly does seem to be about fifteen different Daniels (at least that I have met so far; I am not sure if I want to meet any others!). I haven't forgotten that I said I would try to obtain the sheet music for "Like a Rock" for you.
I told you that I have started to think about courses at school. It is hard to imagine that it is nearly a year ago since I first walked into your classroom, on my birthday. And a rather peculiar year it has been. We've had some good times together, Dan. I remember cold wintery nights at the Grey Goat, coffee shops in Oak Ridges on Sunday mornings and in Richmond Hill in the dead of night. I remember a rainy afternoon in Holland Landing and a crazy night with an obstinate Mustang.
I will not lose sight of these times. Like two brawny he-men, we struggle in a tug-of-war, jockeying for position, and planting our feet firmly, but never quite letting go of the rope. It's a crazy relationship, but we never quite lose the value that it has, and never quite walk away and say "fuck this". At least not so far, at least I haven't.
How are you? Did you do any cab driving over the weekend? If so, no doubt you were a basket case following it.
You seem to be content to be back inToronto. I wonder if you are having any trouble maintaining your privacy, as you feared you might. I remember the conversation we had about both being "loners with gregarious tendencies." True indeed. I personally like to pat myself on the back and tell myself it is a sign of maturity, though of course it old be a simple social deficiency, I suppose.
I am on the rampage again. I don't know if you have heard about it, but Environment Canada is planning a deer hunt in our area in November in order that "man and animals can live in harmony." Pardon me while I choke on the irony. I cannot fathom the thinking that justifies destroying that which inconveniences. I phoned the Federation of Ontario Naturalists this morning, and I guess I should start writing some letters. You know, life would be a lot easier if one could just bury ones head in the sand and not get concerned over anything but the newest Harlequin Romance and channels on the tube. Shit, if life could be so simple!
Are you still immersing yourself in Jung? I am almost finished a Balzac, after which I think I should read something by your beloved Mr. Borges. I also think I should read something by Doctorow. I haven't the foggiest notion about him. Do you know anything? There was a silly little article in the weekend paper about Toronto cabbies being closet writers. It made me chuckle.
Dan, you must not think that I have been using you, or that I have been on some sort of ego trip, collecting hearts like notches on a gun. Surely you know me better than that. I have never meant to cause you pain or hurt you. Sometimes you seem so relaxed and content, and other times it feels as you asbestos suit has completely slipped. It all leaves me terribly confused. I am never quite sure if you want to hear from me or not. I thought at one time that your were indulging in what amounted to emotional blackmail. I realize now that this is not the case. If you will give this some time, it will sort itself out. Please believe that my affection for you is genuine.
Then, she had added, in her neat round accountant's hand:
Rereading this letter, it appears disjointed and not terribly sparkling or witty.
But Ill send it anyway. And sign it.
With love
Celia





THE PROFESSOR TAKES THE LETTER, CRUMPLE IT UP, TAKES THE TYPERWITER OUT OF ITS LAZY SUSAN NICHE, PLACES IT ON HIS DESK, AND BEGINS
TO WRITE.

Dear Celia,

This is a missive that may have us both wondering whether to laugh or cry.
It has struck me, over this past long weekend, that all is not hunky-dory in the state of Denmark, allusions to ethnic origin or Newfoundland be damned. My lifeboat seems to have this great big hole in it and I'm not sure whether you can appear as your usual fetching self in a U-boat uniform or, more accurately be my angel of the mists who has only know guided me to a firm shore. The lifeboat, is, at any rate, safely moored, but I'd been feeling for the longest time that I'd been torpedoed.
When we first met, really met, I was a bit like the hero out of Simon and Garfunkel, was a rock, was an island, was fairly insular in myself, needing little that stemmed from elsewhere; the asbestos suit was on snugly and some of the King's horses and some of the king's men had succeeded in doing a fair patch job on old Daniel.
Then along came Celia. Well. I went from a fairly self-possessed man of 47 to a love-struck young paranoid of 18 who possessed all the filigree of love without its fruit and enjoying the pain even so.
You had me hooked, almost grounded and on the road to more obscurity than I already possess. The situation was hopeless, no man would touch it with a ten-foot pole, but I was and am deeply attracted to you, as we are both alike, and like tends to attract like, right down to the multiple personalities, changes of appearance, attempts at being Honore de Cossack, guitar-playing, stroking, hugging, making strange warm love somewhere on the far side of the moon through an amber alcoholic mist.
We were and are (even after this past year) in the first stages of falling in love, and I do mean love, for I am every bit as vain as you and we were bound to start a pretty strong mutual admiration society, a country of two near-extraterrestrials in a fairly ugly and acquisitive world.
I was delighted to get your letters, nicely written, well thought out, neat as pins. Then came a change. I wasn't going to respond too heavily to sentiments that suddenly became those of a younger woman, perhaps a girl of 22, rather than an experienced woman of 35. The letters began to get love-lornish, a little broody, references to "collecting hearts like notches on a gun" and and a quick denial of all that, the mark of a hand used to dealing with younger men of a long time back, in a style of hearts and flowers that began to have less and less reference to experienced people who know what it is to walk through fire, to even trade their bodies in situations that surely approach World War Three, while (strangely) possessing the altruism--the love, if you will--to get each back to where each belongs.
I know for certain that you have the altruism, to "get us back to where each belongs". You might even have the love.
But I'm starting to have me doubts.
Perhaps the letters were so young, so direct and full of unmistakable knowledge of their effect that there was no mistake as to the message sent and the message received. You were telling me that we could only be friends, that sex outside your marriage was out of the question, that our love could only be spiritual, all the things you tell a man who is afraid of women, who gets their egos up, a man not "together" at all. This is the kind of man you can only keep as a friend, a borderline gay like John Losell, though I am not altogether sure.
Now I know I have enough fear to know that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I also know that it'll be much easier to deal with the husband of a child whom your dog has bitten rather than the wife, for a man is a man, the man I'm dealing with now and he is infinitely easy to deal with, because there is no doubt that Lief and I like each other...Yet in the words that lovers say to each other at night, when they reveal everything, the subject of old Daniel comes up and Lana is told to the last detail what to do or to say next.
Yet I know you are making a hellish sacrifice and showing quite a bit of love for me by sticking with me, with a fair appraisal of the consequences. That kind of loyalty has to be appreciated. And yet, and yet. We come to the bone of contention.
When we first met, you said you would "find a way." Later, when I brought up the subject of sex in what you had termed your "open marriage", you said it was "only sex", perhaps a mere fillip to two people who were attracted to each other. Sex didn't seem important to you. It is sure as hell important to me!
Along comes a developing Daniel, halfway a teacher and halfway an alcohol-crazed sex maniac driven half-mad by a woman's beauty, not used at all to a woman who well yet she won't, too used to having women make the first move and not the other way around. I am somewhat vain, spoiled, much like you. Like you, I suppose, I am carrying the auras of too many lovers, who had in the initial meetings, come to me and not me to them.
So I was secure in my resolve, knew that you would come around. I was too secure. I did not go to you soon enough, and here we are at this impasse, where the man struggles with the teacher, explaining to the woman that why certain things should not be done, are not right, while at the same time trying to do those very things. (The sober Daniel is very different from the tipsy Daniel, much as the sober Celia is different from the wonderful blues-loving doll that you really are). Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
Methinks the lady has explored all her intuitive machinery, which involves a man's income, social position, access to power, personal attractiveness and the lady has found old Daniel wanting; she does not want sex outside her marriage. Why should she?
But the chilling though comes: What if sex is possible within the marriage and what if those are the only terms through which it can come, and what if it involves not only the lover, but the husband too.. Take a drink of something bracing.
I am not any more modest than I should be; I am not any more naive than I should be; I am a writer, like you hungry for truth, but if I practise duplicity more or less routinely among my friends and lovers, I can not make the words come straight and clean, because my heart is not straight and clean, and so I am reduced to the mass of men and women who long ago made their emotional and financial compromises, so therefore I cannot write with my heart coupled with my mind, the emotion divorced from the logic. Only half of me is up to the task now.
So if there is a sourness to my mood, and effeminacy in my style through all my accusations and all the ways I now move and act, it is not because I am, to you, still one more would-be lover. I have some idea of the dynamic, though I think I'd have to be an outright homosexual to get it all.
I am a writer and a man, not a truck driver, not a jock, a person of some consequence who should be treated with some consideration, for I am vain enough to know that I am not like anybody else; I should not possess the emotional calluses of everybody else in a world of fleshy Fitzgerald characters who go around and devour each other and everything around them, a world of devourers and the devoured.
Many years ago, my then-wife, watching me struggling with an angel, said she was watching the breakdown of a once fine man, and in fact, she was witnessing me having some sort of breakdown, the breakdown of a man in a profession that was somehow not for him, in a marriage that was somehow not for him. That man has since broken and mended and he is not a semiliterate fuckup that falls heavily for a bit of ginch and then has to be treated like the clerk at the local McDonald's.
I have long observed you as a person and a writer, and ambitious person, not at all a little bit of fluff, a woman of great drive and talent. But like many another of us, you have more than your share of personal attractiveness, a fact that gets all the other sisty-uglers upset, and then you get treated like poor Cinderfella, much as in the case of my own life. I have been treated like Cenderfella by many of the sisty-uglers.
You are not a sisty-ugler, but a beautiful woman trying to reach her proper place. For Christ's sake, get us back to where we belong. I am running short of patience, too old now for the waiting game and I am audacious enough to make some demands and set down a contract for you and me. The contract, startling as it seems, runs like so:
You will keep me only through showing me complete and unconditional adulation. I am a jealous god, yes.
You will revolve around me, kiss my ass upon request, and generally put your man forward as best you can without constantly operating in "megahurts", like a radio station. You leave me alone most times, encrusted with the deepest attention- sapping pain. There are times when I feel you are some sort of energy vampire, though, I suppose, six must complement nine, at the risk of being vulgar. We may be drawing our energies from each other.
I am now your lord and master, know it, and I hope I don't blow it. The time has come to separate sheep from men. I will not be your uncle; I will not be enslaved, like poor Lief and go along with anything that you do just to have a little peace as he watches you change into more and more of a tyrant the older you get. This is the path of Anna Karenina. Make no mistake about it, for when a woman first goes to night school, she risks either the convent or the house of the rising sun.
There is a way out for both of us in a love that promises to be much bigger than last year's bestseller. I do not expect you to change overnight, nor do I try to coerce you into a roll in the hay by just fluffing some of my sharpest feathers. I want you to love me as your really do; I expect you to be perfectly honest in telling me whom you're involved with besides Leif and me. I am not a wimp, nor an uncle, nor a homosexual, your strange preference in men to date. I am a man, a damned good one and that is the source of all your roil and occasional spurts of poison as you seem to roll off the anima of your own animus. Hell indeed hath no fury like a woman scorned. I do not mean to scorn you Lana. I just don't want to be in a contract where you get everything and I get nothing, literally nothing.
Yes, yes, I have robbed Lief's pantry and sampled some of his goods. I see a hell of a good man in Lief and I blame him not at all for your staying with him. But how you stay with him! I am not the only threat to a marriage in which the initial trust has been broken...don't cry now, for I have been there and it will take a hell of a lot more tears and a hell of a lot more years until it is all resolved. I have been successful in totally destroying a lover of my ex wife's. I am experienced at this now. I am perfectly capable, Machiavellian as it sounds, of destroying Lief. But if I were to, it would be to someone else you would go and not to me.
Love me, love me unconditionally in a for you can find and stop this high school confidential bullshit. I am still the naive, slightly incompetent Inspector Clouseau of the literary world you initially met, though a little older now and very much in love with you. Find a way. Find a way for both of us.
Love,
Daniel


THE PROFESSOR PULLS THE LETTER OUT OF THE TYPEWRITER. THERE IS RIP AS THE PAPER COMES OFF.

HE TAKES AN ENVELOPE OUT OF A DRAWE, INSERTS THE LETTER AND STARES AHEAD INTO SPACE.


LIGHTS DIM






Monday, May 05, 2008

Here We Go Again




Here we go again.

Compulsive neuroticism. Trying to get this act right.

Ah well, like Charlie Chaplin in the movie, Modern Times I am putting bolt #13 into Frame 2, over and over again, trying to get it right if for no other reason than to set this act up for the next one.

THE FIRE IN BRADFORD. A Play, by Ivan Prokopchuk (Continued)

ACT II, Scene One.

INT.
NIGHT.

IT IS HALLOWEEN. BOTH CELIA AND THE PROFESSOR HAD JUST COME BACK FROM A PARTY. THE THEME OF THE PARTY WAS ELIZABETHAN. THEY ARE IN THE PROFESSOR'S NEWMARKET APARTMENT, NOT FAR FROM CELIA'S HOUSE IN HOLLAND LANDING .HE IS DRESSED IN PONTALOONS AND JERKIN AND SHE IN A FLOWING ELIZABETHAN DRESS, WITH A SILVER WIG WITH AN ELABORATE HAIR DESIGN.
THEY ARE HAVING DRINKS AFTER A DINNER AT THE GRAY GOAT PUB, WHERE THE PARTY HAD BEEN IN FULL SWING. THE THEME OF THE PARTY HAD BEEN SHAKEPEAREAN. HE HAD GONE TO CONSIDERABLE EXPENSE TO OUTFIT HIMSELF IN THESE RENTED PANTALOONS AND BOOTS, WITH THE RUFFLED SHIRT FLOWING OUT OF THE JERKIN
.CELIA
My, don't you look handsome. Ben Jonson. Elizabethan man! You look great. Shouldn't just do this on Halloween.You are a doll!
And apublished writer. I tried to call you at the Goat the other night when I noticed your book was reviewed in TOPIC Magazine. But I couldn't get through. When I finally did, I didn't quite know what to say.

THE PROFESSOR IS A LITTLE STUNNED AT ALL THIS. HE FIGDETS A LITTLE, TRIED STO SCRATCH HIS EAR, BUT IT IS COVERED BY THE WIG.

HE LOOKS BEHIND HIM. ON A WALL THERE IS A LUTE, THERE LARGELY FOR DECORATION.
HE TURNS AROUND, TAKES THE INSRUMENT OFF THE WALL, AND SITS DOWN ON HIS COT, WHICH IS ACROSS THE COFFE TABLE FROM CELIA.HE STARTS TO TUNE THE BEAUTIFUL INSTRUMENT AND IS ABOUT TO PLAY:

CELIA

I didnt' know you played.

PROFESSOR

Play at it really.

HE BEGINS A BAROQUE CHORD RUN DETERMINES THE KEY AND BEGINS SINGING.

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.
And the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain it raineth every day.


But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

CELIA (INTERRUPTING A LITTLE. SHE DOES AN EXUBERANT CLAP

That's wonderful. The professor sings an plays very well.

THE PROFESSOR (PUTTING IT ON A LITTLE BIT)

Years of self-denial!

CELIA.
Heh. Betcha you never denied youself very much.
Tell, me, David, if you can do music, why do you write?

THE PROFESSOR SHRUGS.
Part of the same family, I guess.

HE RESUMES SINGING AND PLAYING.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain it raineth every day.

CELIA IS RAPT. HER EYES ARE OPEN WIDE UNDER THE SILVER WIG.

.CELIA .
Those things are hard to play. I notice you really have to work at it.

THE PROFESSOR
Lutes are tuned differently from guitars. I had to detune a string here and there.
Trying to fake it in guitar A-minor.

HE RESUMES THE SONG.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.

THE PROFESSOR PAUSES AFTER THE STANZA. HE PUTS THE LUTE TO ONE SIDE OF THE COFFEE TABLE, AND KISSES CELIA.THERE IS A CLATTER OF THE LUTE FALLING ON THE FLOOR, BUT THE KISS ISINTENSE. SHE IS KISSING BACK AND THEY BOTH ROLL TO THE FLOOR.

THEY ARE FACE TO FACE. THE PROFESSOR IS TRYING TO FONDLE CELIA, BUT SHE IN IN LONG DRESS AND PETTICOATS, WHICH CASCADE DOWN FROM HER BODICE. AND BLOOMERS.

CELIA

David. Stop

THE PROFESSOR (HEATEDLY)

Celia, I'm in love with you.

CELIA.(ROLLING AWAY FROM DAVID A LITTLE)

And I'm very, very fond of you too, but this is not the time or the place.

THE PROFESSOR

Why not?

HE ADDS A LITTLE ELIZABETHAN TO THIS.

Pray tell?
HE IS HOLDING HER FACE WITH HIS HANDS.

CELIA
Can you make baby.

THE PROFESSOR

Huh? Why, yes. Of course... My former wife got done. I didn't.

CELIA

I didn't bring anything.

PROFESSOR.

What do you mean "not bring anyhting"

CELIA.

I use foam.

THE MOMENT IS GONE. CELIA RISES FROM THE FLOOR

THERE IS FRUSTRATION

CELIA.(SUDDENLY BUSTLING AND BUSY TRYING TO FIND HER PURSE).

I have to go.

PROFESSOR

You have to go? Just like that?

Celia, every time I try to get busy with you, I just see your beautiful ass going out the door.
What's with all that?

CELIA.

It's the way you are. It's the way I am.

SHE FINDS HER PURSE, ARRANGES HERSELF AND MAKES FOR THE DOOR IMMEDIATLY BEHIND. SHE OPENS THE DOOR AND HE CAN SEE HER GRANNY BOOT AS SHE LEAVES.

THE PROFESSOR

Celia, everytime I see you it's just your beatiful ass floating away in a Victorian dress.
What's up with you. You're alway moving away from me.

CELIA( FROM OUTSIDE
Jumping away from you, the way you are!

PROFESSOR

Celia.

BUT SHE IS GONE.

LIGHTS: DIM.

...........................

Ah well, the first draft of this act is down below if anybody is interested.





THE FIRE IN BRADFORD. A Play, by Ivan Prokopchuk (Continued)

ACT II, Scene One.

INT. NIGHT.
IT IS HALLOWEEN.

BOTH CELIA AND THE PROFESSOR HAD JUST COME BACK FROM A PARTY. THE THEME OF THE PARTY WAS ELIZABETHAN. THEY ARE IN THE PROFESSOR'S NEWMARKET APARTMENT, NOT FAR FROM CELIA'S HOUSE IN HOLLAND LANDING.

HE IS DRESSED IN PONTALOONS AND JERKIN AND SHE IN A FLOWING ELIZABETHAN DRESS, WITH A SILVER WIG WITH AN ELABORATE HAIR DESIGN.

THEY ARE HAVING DRINKS AFTER A DINNER AT THE GRAY GOAT PUB, WHERE THE PARTY HAD BEEN IN FULL SWING. THE THEME OF THE PARTY HAD BEEN SHAKEPEAREAN.
HE HAD GONE TO CONSIDERABLE EXKPENSE TO OUTFIT HIMSELF IN THESE RENTED PANTALOONS AND BOOTS, WITH THE RUFFLED SHIRT FLOWING OUT OF THE JERKIN.

CELIA
My, don't you look handsome. Ben Jonson. Elizabethan man! You look great. Shouldn't just do this on Halloween.
You are a doll!

THE PROFESSOR, WHO TAKES A LUTE LONG DISPLAYED ON A WALL AS AN ORNAMENT, STARTS TO TUNE IT AND IS ABOUT TO PLAY:
Oh piffle. The lady is about to be entertained.

HE BEGINS A BAROQUE CHORD RUN DETERMINES THE KEY AND BEGINS SINGING.


With hey, ho, the wind and the rain
,A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.
And the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain it raineth every day.

CELIA IS RAPT. HER EYES ARE OPEN WIDE UNDER THE SILVER WIG.

CELIA
I didn't know you played. And a lute. Those things are hard to play.

THE PROFESSOR

Not if you tune it like a guitar and play in A-minor. HE RESUMES THE SONG.
A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,And we'll strive to please you every day.


THE PROFESSOR PAUSES AFTER THE STANZA. HE PUTS THE LUTE TO ONE SIDE OF THE COFFEE TABLE, AND KISSES CELIA.

THERE IS A CLATTER OF THE LUTE FALLING ON THE FLOOR, BUT THE KISS IS
INTENSE. SHE IS KISSING BACK AND THEY BOTH ROLL TO THE FLOOR.

LIGHTS: OUT.

Bringing Home the Bacon...No, not Francis Bacon--I wish!


Egad.

One is suddenly out of money and will have to work.

Work?

The word is anathema.

But sometimes you gotta do it.

So we put the dream aside for a bit and go to work.

Last time I worked, I did it out front The tax Man and the pension man could see me working.

Ivan working? This is rare.



Ah but you can't earn more than your Federal Pension.

"You worked?...Why you no-good bastard.

So they dock my Canada Pension.

Ah. Only in Canada, you say?

Seems with all this "nanny society" stuff going around you are forced into working under the table and getting your cigarettes from Mafia Miltie.

Forcing a population to be crooked because there seems no other way to get what you need, which, for this generation seems sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Do what your want. Work underground, but don't let us catch you either in the act of smoking or not filing your income tax. Starve to death. But don't light a cigarette.

People work so hard for their money in Canada. And all this nanny stuff, the political correctness stuff, the rape of your paycheck by the feds. And provincially, he latest UKAZ is that you can't smoke in your car wih kids in it.
You orinarily don't do this this from common sense. But they have to make a Provincial law out of it.

And in Toronto, it's the Wild West. Deadwood. OK Corral out in he streets, drug dealers killing each other, innocent bystanders shot.
But what the hell, they're just Bohunks.

But don't smoke in your car.

No wonder the criminals all come out during a prohibition.

Booze, cooze, smokes.

We got em.



What a smooke-free hell.

And Mafia Miltie rules. And he saves his money Toronto Dominion

And he launders it at the Toronto Dominion.

And he puts it into real estate development in Newmarket, Ontario.

And the ruling elite say "If it weren't for development, we wouldn't be here."

Well yeah.

Everbody on the make
Everybody on the take.

But then, as commenters on this blog say, "What else is new?"

Christ, , they had finally gotten Al Capone for income tax evasion

But today, all the Mafiosi are alive and well, emigrated from Milan, where it's getting hot, and living in my region.

And the tax man never goes after them

He goes after me.


"The bastard.

He actually worked!"

Remember that old frame-by frame drawing of human evolution? Australopitchecus. then Homo Habilis, and finally, Homo Sapien--us ( The nomenclature is just dying for a pun).

There seems to be no evolution here in York Region, Canada.

Ah. We're stuck not with Australopithecus Boisson.

But with Austarlopithecus Paisan.


Obviously, I need to go to work

The malnutrition is causing delusions.

Put the play aside for bit.

Hello Central Casting!

Hopefully, not concrete casting.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Alanis is Ma Belle


An impromptu rant during the intermission in my play here, "The Fire in Bradford"

I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah
I'm high but I'm grounded
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine fine fine
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid
I'm tired but I'm working, yeah
I care but I'm restlessI'm here but I'm really gone
I'm wrong and I'm sorry baby
What it all comes down toIs that everything's gonna be quite alright
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette
And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign
I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah
I'm high but I'm grounded
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful baby
What it all comes down toIs that everything's gonna be fine fine fine
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid
I'm tired but I'm working, yeah
I care but I'm restless
I'm here but I'm really gone
I'm wrong and I'm sorry baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite alright
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette
And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign...

Alanis pretty well says it.

I don't have a pocket to put my nand into, but there is just this feeling that "everything is going to be fine, fine fine."
You just know those things.

So what if half your teeth have been pulled out by a dentist who seems to have pinched the wrong nerve and you were reduced to a gibbering idiot for a couple of days, memory loss, unable to move your fingers and somehow standing heplessly to one side while you obrserved the pitching and tossing of your brain--all the things you have ever learned, scrolling through your mental screen as if on a VDT.

So what if you can not afford to even pay this dentist, but the rent too.

So what if in the last thirty years, you have met a whole series of assholes, most of them in education, too busy builing their Ozymandias castle trhat students just happened to get in the way.

So what if you got a writer's grant for your novel and then everybody in the publishing company makes his car payments and the novel is returned to you. "The process, he process. The process itlself is the most important thing."
"What about me?
"You're just a writer. It's the process. The process."

Sounds like a bunch of freaking Satanists, and most people in Canadian publishing are, so help me.

Gay and satanic. Yeah. "We can hurt you!"

Example: Once Alanis Morisette got international fame, the CBC here decided to do a special on Alanis Morisette.

I listened, but all that came out was the Ottawa bands around Alanis' themes. Not a single Morisette song was played.

"We can hurt you."

But it was too late. Alanis was already with Madonna's label and living in Switzerland. World fame.

Dont' you dare to be original or talented in Canada. We will pull you down. We can hurt you.

Mordecai Richler.

"We will destroy you." Don't dare to be original in Canada. Young girls growing up in small communities, that's the mantra.Feminism. Now that's new, isn't it?

Carbon copy novels in a carbon copy culture that sucks up to American Republicans, and everybody wonders why.

It's the crude, dude.

Art bows to commerce.

Well, yes. But when George Orwell worked for the BBC, it wasn't the CBC. Carbon-copy country. CBC. Carbon-copy radio service.

Nobody could write a" l984" in Canada. We get post-appcalyptic novels, yes, but they are carbon-copy and dull.
African donkeys talking to birds!
WTF.

Supposing we were to have a genius like Anthony Burgess producing a Clockwork Orange here.

Here is a savant who writes classical music, has invented a quasi-Russian argot all by himself, has predicted forty years before the fact our "homeless" condition and perhaps, if I can stretch the oxymoron--made Canadians into clockwork oranges. Give, give give, until there is nothing else to give. Oh what the hell. We never were a real country anyway. So what's wrong with Canada turning out like Cuba?

The dictator's new clothes.

Yes, yes, multiculuralism as a mantra, but nobody is hiring immigrants here.
And all the manufacturing jobs are gone anyway.

Doctors and biochemists driving cabs because of--say it on!--prejudice in the Canadian Medical Association.
Tough luck, Henry Urguck.

And all the while we are reaching 50 per cent immigrants and the other half native-born and nobody is working and some of the immigrants are becoming outrightly nasty.

Crime in the streets, people offed every day, but Statistics Canada says crime is th lowest ever.

Well, Emperor, it is hardly news that in Canada, it's Big Business, Big Government and Organized Crime.
That is the story, and that's the entire story.
Now aren't we glad that we have so well emulated Detroit or even New York?

Kill in the streets, have your drugs and money stolen by the drug squad.

But don't light a cigarrette!
This we can do, and it's all up to you!

The upside is, I suppose that Canada works because everybody is incompetent. Maybe even corrupt.

The culture is really 500 years old and it is wiser than the players.

No plague of frogs. It is because of the frogs that Canada works.

It will survive the Harpers and the potato chip kings. (There is no more fish, so the McCains make it on chips from P.E. I. and even here, McDonald's seems to have bought out the entire island.

Come to think of it, Alanis Morisette sounds French.

And Aha. That's creativity.

But she did not make it in Canada.

They would not have let her.

Thank God for the French, I say.

I've got one hand in my pocketAnd the other one is giving the peace sign...

Vive Alanis Morsisette and all that she represents.