Thursday, December 31, 2009

Position sought: Demagogue





Resume

IVAN PROKOPCHUK

Present position: Demagogue.

Position sought: Canadian Senator (A real good Demagogue).


Experience.
1955-l956 Student pilot. (Air Cadets)
1957-1963: Royal Canadia Air Force, full time; air control technician.

l964-1967Journalism student, Ryerson Polytechnic University.
1967-1968 Graduate student in Writing, Instituto Allende, Mexico (U. C.) Wrote novel The Black Icon. Got tuition scholarship on basis of novel.
1969 Staff writer, Metro Mirror then Star Weekly
1969 Staff writer at Star Weekly while also contributing to Toronto SUNDAY SUN..
1970 to l973: Wrote novel, The Hat People, and freelanced for Reader's Digest to support myself..
1974-1975. Teacher, then Columnist TOPIC Magazine, Bradford, Ontario; freelancer TORONTO SUN.

1974-1985. Professor (untenured) Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, King City, Ontario..
1985-93 Politics. Ran for Mayor and Regional Councillor for Newmarket, Ontario. Wrote new novel, Light Over Newmarket and a monograph, "Storm and Stress on the Campaign Trail--The l985 election in a small Onario Town."
--Published by the Newmarket Public Library.

Novels written: Four --and the monograph on Newmarket politics.

All novels published by the Bradford Witness Publishing Company, Island Grove Press and the Newmarket and Aurora, and Uxbridge Public libraries.

Number of words in print to date: Three million.
(Now that's grounds for demagoguery, no?)

Career Objective:
To be the best damn writer and politician in Canada, and the first New Democrat Senator (I don't belong a party right now, though definitely a party animal, but I know the New Democrats, like Catholics and Communists, will take just about anybody!
'Hey, Jack Layton. I am your man. I want to be the first New Democcrat senator ever...and I'm electabble, even though in nepotist Canada, senators are appointed. So appoint me, Jack when you become Prime Minster.

It is time I got a job after too long a retirement.
Hell I could start even tomorrow.
Whatta ya say, Prime Minster Brian Mulroney?
How about a Looney?

--And Happy New Year!

##

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The play's the thing. The play's the thing!



Drafts, drafts. Too many drafts. The beery kind and now drafts of a play that some people suddenly want and I can't finish the damn thing. Reminds, me, oddly of the time I set out to be a writer and the money came long before I finished the book.
I will never have that kind of luck again and have lately had to go the hard way. Flogging my play--though still unfinished--to all an sundry until some producer finally twigged.

Anyway, another draft of the play


THE FIRE IN BRADFORD

ACT ONE. SCENE ONE. INT. PUB NIGHT.

A MAN IS DRINKING AT THE BAR. IT IS DAVID.
HE IS IN A REALLY COOL ENGLISH- STYLE PUB, IN FRONT OF AN OAKEN, BRASS-CORNERED BAR. THERE IS GENERAL TUDOR- AND -PLASTER ATMOSPHERE. THERE ARE OAK TABLES IN FRONT OF THE BAR WHICH NOW DAVID FACES. WELL PAST THE TABLES AND ON ANOTHER WALL THERE IS A DARTBOARD AND SOME SCOTTISH- SOUNDING PLAYERS HAVING A LEISURELY GAME AT IT.

DAVID NOW TURNS AWAY FROM US TO FACE THE BAR, ON WHOSE LEFT WALL THERE IS A WIDE PLASMA TV SCREEN WITH SOMETHING PLAYING ON IT. THERE IS NOW A STILL IMAGE...IMAGE OF A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. IT IS CELIA, IN FULL MARILYN MONROE MODE. SAUCY. COQUETTISH.
DAVID STARES AT THE SCREEN, TAKES A DRAUGHT OF HIS ALE AND THEN TURNS AGAIN TO FACE US.

DAVID.
Oh. Hello.Pleased to meet you. We've been drinking for a while, and, as you'd expect, you get someting like my life story, or part of it. Urequieted love really. My story might be like The Fall-- out of Camus or somewhere. Or an opener for a bar scene in a movie. You know the drill: "Excuse me, said the man at the bar"--But I'm really glad you're here. And have I got a story for you...No.Don't fidget. You may identify! Listen, now.

I am a wigged-out English teacher.
And ah, yes, yes, You're starting to yawn but no, this will wake you up. You got your beer...Go ahead. Have a good draught.Have a smoke. Now just look up there...
Just look up at that screen for a bit, and I'll supply a sound track for you...Maybe a soundtrack for your own sad love. No. Don't fidget. I guarantee that this will be an experience. You've been in love. I've been in love. Can you not see Celia the way I see her? Look up. Focus on the screen now. I want to share this with you.

OUT OF HIS TWEED JACKET POCKET, DAVID PRODUCES A POUCH OF TOBACCO ALONG WITH A PACKET OF YELLOW VOGUE CIGARETTE PAPERS. HE PUTS A PINCH OF TOBACCO INTO THE KNURLED OPEN PAPER AND BEGINS TO ROLL A CIGARETE WHILE SAYING:

VOICE OVER
Celia appears before you while you are rolling your own cigarettes, the 1920's Vogue face, the bobbed hair, a beautiful flapper not yet fallen into the rye on one September day, though I would know in future September days that she had a hunger for opium and cocaine, and that would make her thoroughly modern, thoroughly like My Lady of the papers.

Hash papers, and hot knives.

I was in fact a newspaperman,and something of a linguist. Being Canadian, French came easily to me and I was influenced influenced while young by French authors because they were so maddeningly thorough, that mark of real writers, and so well did I get to know 20th century authors in French that I soon got to teach a night course in it. Ah, that French penchant for the absurd, the splayed-out mysticism of an Andre Marois, and that incredible clarity of image and idea that only the French writers possess--and they'd be the first to tell you. The French are somewhat superior and they know it. Heh. And they will tell you. "To know our history, you will have to know our pain."
Enough that I was a teacher of French authors and she walked in one day with no hint of the Vogue beauty that I would later get to know, no inkling as to the heaviness of spirit that would later come to oppress me, no clue at all as to the beautiful woman who resided in the suburban Mam's bib overalls she used to wear to my classes, the little white tee shirt with the apple on it, or the closely cropped hair of the liberated, funky, suburban young woman.

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

Scribble, scribble scribble, eh Ivan?

##

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wasn't it good, working for MORA WOOD.



Ten years ago, on a wet and slushy Christmas Eve, I was working for Mora Wood, here in Newmarket ON, loading furniture. A grunt and his truck making deliveries to Toronto.
I was working for Mora Wood Products, my rescuer at a time when all my publishing projects had gone kaput. I was supposed to be a writer, but hadn't sold anything in years, save for the underground newspaper that I was trying to keep afloat.
On the front page, of course, was my paean to Paul Naismith, my benefactor, Paul Naismith, proprietor of Mora Wood Products, 28 Allura Boulevard, Aurora, Ontario L4G 3S5 (Tel:: 905 726-3584. Yes. I had to get all that in. I am still plugging my former patron!

Paul had saved my sorry ass as a writer and small publisher. For some reason, our personalities just clicked when I first met him, while spreading my "Main Street Whizbang" newpaper around to all the industries. "You are a busted writer. I am a going-broke cabinet maker. We are artists, I suppose, in an applied way. Maybe we should hang around together."
And so I worked for Paul as delivery man while Paul and his crew would craft the finest handmade cabinetry. Wonderful hutches, chairs, armoirs, solid oak tables (Which I had a hell of a time carting, as they weighted some 200 pounds), Amish "sleigh beds", which somehow made you think of Santa Claus while you flew in your dreams. And exquisite cabinets.
My father too had been a cabinet maker, but I was the one who got the education, which, I must confess, made me something of a no-goodnick for work, and instead, becoming a young man on the make, retired the first time at 32 because my studies of Cicero (not the pig) and rhetoric at Trinity College had made me an expert at bullshit and puffery-- and even got me some of the girls, one of whom was an heiress. Get an education, my father would quip. End up marrying a rich woman. Lose yourself. Maybe even your identity. Well, what the hell. All talent and weak hands.
My writing and my wife had retired me at 32, a published novelst and media writer.
But then came 52, and whoops! The groupis came too often, I weakened, what the hell, there was enough of me to go around, what's an extra-marital roll in the hay here and there?
Friggin' fool lost everything, wife, kids, house and even jockstrap. And nobody was buying my scrips any more.
Time for a new script. At about the time I met Paul Naismith.
Paul himself was suffering from a bad karma with creditors and suppliers, he nevertheless offered to be my "karma mechanic", and at this he was marvellous.
Three months into working for Mora Wood, I suddenly sold a personal essay to Toronto's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. My own newspaper perked up with advertising and I suddenly found myself back on my feet...But propped up all the while by Paul, his work and advertising revenue for my paper.
But while I started to rise, Paul started to sink. Saint Christopher mired down. Forty thousand dollars needed for his suppliers and he didn't have it. My own game was simple. Write good, work good. His was more complicated.
To make wood, you gotta buy wood and oadk pine were becoming becoming damn expensive. And then there was a staff of about 12, me among them.
I had the excuse some writers offer when they are forced to work with their hands and brains at something practical. "I did it for therapy...I was becoming too itellectual, too fucked up, too abstract I had to get my feet back on the ground."

Well, did I ever get feet on ground. I began to sell essays to big publishers, Paul somehow acting as my agent--Paul could do anything--and his shop fax machine was busy processing my literary endeavours. Seemed like Mora Wood had become Mora Publishing.
But there was pressing concern for Mora Wood. Not enough work coming in to pay all the suppliers. And a staff to pay.
Unfortunately, Paul went out of business at about the same time I rose again in journalism and fiction.
But then I too began to falter without Mora's financial backing for my projects. And with my groupes, I suddenly had trouble with a different kind of "wood" problem. Colossal literary fossil with a docile tassle. "You call that a dick?"
No more pretenses. You couldn't get by on literary reputation now. The frost was on the pumpkin and you couldn't even go dickie dunkin". Sixty-six Almost an apocalypse. And passsions spent.
So much for the randy poet.
Broke, seemingly castrated and alone, I sought Paul out to see if I could borrow some money. I was not only impotent but broke again as well.
This was the miracle with Paul: Even though I had not worked for him in years, he nevertheless acted as if I still worked for him, and every Friday I would come to the new shop he was working in "fer to collect my pay." Writers are parasitic! But Paul, though himself broke would always give me a stipend to keep on going with the literary projects, though they by now --rarely worked out.
I put in my last ad for MORA WOOD before my paper sank.
Seems that Paul and I sank at about the same time.

Years passed. I knew I was done for and was convinced Paul was bankrupt as well, but I passed a woodshop in Aurora Ontario and, well, lookee here: MORA WOOD PRODUCTS. "Expertly crafting the finest handmade cabinetry. See Paul Naismith."
Paul Naismith has resurfaced.
Just at about this time I myself rose a bit with an offer from a publisher.
Something Paul told me when I worked for him:
Never give up. Never give in.
And, hey the other day I got an erection!
Wood Armature!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A funny thing happened at the shrink's office



Like many another borderline psychotic, today I seem to hiss, "If one more thing goes wrong!.."

If one more thing goes wrong it's out with the horse pistol and do in this old equus. They shoot horses, don't they?
Ahh. Echoes of beautiful Jane Fonda out of that old movie.

Things going wrong. Things winding down. It is nearing the end of December and all creatures are stirring to cause trouble, even the mouse...Squirrels stole my pizza which I had left out in the balcony to cool. Glass coffee table broken where I'd slammed down the whiskey jigger. Out of coffee, out of cigarettes, worse still out of rum. Spiderwebs all over. Computer all but crashed. Entropy. Things are winding down, going to hell.
Ever have one of these days? Like fingernail on the blackboard--or greenboard as I remember from my teaching days.
I begin to imagine how PMS might be like for a woman.
One told me, in a recent crisis, she wanted to commit homicide. I pointed to her husband. "Is this the homin you wann cide?" "Yes!"
I wanna go out and "cide" someone.
"Let's get rid of some of this piss and vinegar," a lover implores.
Afterwards, "You're still an asshole. I can't stand you."
Tough luck, Henrey Muck.
Press F for Psycho.
It's a bit like the weekend hunter on a Thursday afternoon. He stumbles around the house, breaks TV, crashes computer, argues with wife. Bull in a china shop.
He can't wait to hear the familiar beep of his asshole buddy's truck so he can load the guns and gear and get the hell out of the house. "And good riddance," sighs the harried wife.
Well, I am more fisherman than hunter, but something's up.

I got an email from somebody important in publishing.
And it crashed halfway through. I got the gist of it. A possibility of an award, but where and from whom, as it was sent anynumous. I could tell by the Bronx inflection in the copy that it was from New York.
Lost it. Now from me a Bronx cheer. Waszuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup.

Seems this morning I am not going to make New York until I am posthumous. Dead.
Ha. Now that would be a career move.
I am letting that enthusiasm pass.

"What's wrong," says the doctor. "You got your health."
"You're the one making a hundred dollars an hour. You tell me."
"You're an asshole," he says.

"For crimminy's sake, I knew that! You're getting a hundred dollars an hour for this revelation?"

"Blah-blah-blah blah blah blah blah Mother
Bah blah blah blahe blah blah blah Penis
Blah blah blah blah blah blah Money."

"Omigod.You hit the nail on the head.
It's not mother, it's not penis, it's money!"

"So what else is new?
I think we can finish for the day....Oh. You're in Canada?
Am I going to send Premier McGuinty a bill!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Phoenix. A 55 word poem for Galen, or G-man on his blog...Galen loves 55's but is ailing today. Get well Galen. My poem migh act as an emetic .




Dunno what's up with me.

Dunno what's up with Galen, or "G-man" as he is known on his blog that features 55 word pieces. He is sick this weekend, I am told.
Hold up, old man!
Not too good over here either.
I woke up this morning with my entire left side seized up.
And the old ticker is going thud, thud, thud. Very likely psychosomatic. I haven't had a drink in a while.

Love that old joke about heart attacks:

Death is nature's way of slowing you down.

I am slowing down. Blogger Galen is slowing down My apartment's a mess. The centre does not seem to hold. My penis droops. Creativity is low...Have to conjure, have to augur.
I am rolling stiff socks around my parquet floor,conjuring, auguring hoping to compose a Flash 55 for Galenwho is the local judge and abitrer of these things.

Best I can do is recycle a recent poem of mine, paring it down to 55 words. But I can't count. Oh well, here goes.

THE PHOENIX

At first they tried to starve the phoenix.
He meandered from field to field, picking plucking, thinking.
They finally tethered the phoenix.
Fed him rocks and gruel.
Called him French Canadian. Called him woodpecker. Bash de face against de tree
They finally tethered him. He became spavined. Molted.
Till one day the flash.

(Is that a 55?) Only Galen knows and I hope he takes a gander here. Gander? Well, no. I'm trying to put up a Phoenix Pfiffty Ffive..

##

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I am having a nervous breakdown, so pal John Dowson will take over with his Christmas story on Ivan's Blog



A most unforgettable Christmas
By John Dowson November 18, 2009

On Christmas 1962 I was living in Calgary Alberta , I had planned on spending the Christmas holidays with my younger brother Richard who lived with our older brother Bill and his family in Drumheller about 75 miles east of Calgary. Drumheller is world famous as the paleontology capital of Canada and the home of the Canadian Dinosaur museum. The town is located in the Alberta badlands in a deep canyon cut by the Red Deer River. Driving to the town on the flat bald prairie you would never know there was a deep canyon with a town at the bottom until you were right on top of the cliffs overlooking the town. There are no trees to speak of on the prairie, but on the top of the cliffs overlooking the town there are small spruce trees clinging to the edge. Where they came from no one knows, but there they are holding the cliff edge from eroding. I arrived two days before the big day and was immediately taken to the local IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) lodge to get into the Christmas spirit. In Alberta in the 1960’s there were no drinking establishments in small towns unless you joined a lodge, and as it turned out everyone in Drumheller was a member of the IOOF lodge or the Legion.

On the afternoon of December 24th after Christmas more spirit at the IOOF lodge Bill said “Why don’t we go out and cut our own Christmas tree”? “That’s a great idea” I remarked, so we picked up a saw, a hatchet and some rope to tie the tree to the top of my station wagon and drove up the canyon. Bill scoured the top of the cliffs for the perfect Christmas tree. “There it is” he hollered as I slid to a stop “It’s the Dowson Christmas tree”. I got out of the car and looked up and 200 feet above on top of the canyon wall stood a row of fir trees. “Get out the saw and the climbing gear” he said “we’re going after a big Christmas tree”. To fortify ourselves for the climb we took a few swigs on the Christmas rum bottle we had with us to keep out the cold and started for the top. . Halfway up we stopped and had a keep the cold out drink and proceeded to the top. When we reached the top we celebrated with the Captain, and began searching for the perfect “Dowson Christmas Tree” The largest tree we could find was about four feet tall.

“Theeessee is tha one” Bill exclaimed as Richard untied the saw and the hatchet he had strapped to his waist so he wouldn’t lose them on the climb up. We began sawing, but the saw kept bending in the wet wood so we took out the hatchet and began hacking away but the hatchet blade was dull and it just made marks on the little trunk. “Leave it” said Bill “leths get another one, one”. So we left the little battered tree and struck out at another one. After hacking at it with the hatchet, and sawing Bill gave a yank and as the tree broke free it began tumbling down the cliff with Bill following, making sure he didn’t lose the Cpt. Morgan on the slide down. An outcropping stopped their fall, so we rested, had something to keep out the cold and as I started down I slipped in the snow and we all began sliding down the cliff. The tree passed us on the way down and when we got to the bottom the three of us rolled over the Christmas tree. When I stood up the “Dowson Christmas tree” lay broken in three places and with most of its branches missing. “What’ll we do” I said, aw said Bill cunningly “it’s not to late, old Art’s Christmas tree lot is still open, he may have some left, let’s buy one and take it home” . We found a lovely six foot high spruce with spreading branches and drove it home. Bill’s wife and Children were at the door waiting for our own Christmas tree. “There’s the Dowson Christmas tree” he said and the children were overjoyed at its size and shape. “I didn’t know the fir trees at the top of the canyon grew that tall” Bill’s wife exclaimed. Oh Bill said, “There were taller ones than that, but we left them for next year” and we all went in to house to decorate “The Dowson Christmas Tree”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I want to go to MIT and be an engineer of Writing



Ah, summer time. When the publishing was easy.
Writing my poems in the summer with sure publishing by fall time in something called the Fifth Page, my college's literary magazine. Once in with the editors, knowing their ways, their foibles (one had a problem with impotence, so your wrote about impotence)-- you stayed in.
Young man on the make. And one poem in The Fifh Page could get you a job at the Toronto Star. Hang the journalistic requirements. One poem or short story could do it for you.
But once in the real world, you realize that your chances at the big time were not really good. "This is The Star. And at The Star, we have a policy of 'No stars'". So you did rewrites of crime stories, became a grunt, wrote headlines. Interviewed fire victims after a blaze, chased ambulances.
Forrest Grunt.
I wrote, on a copy sheet, "Get me out of here so I can hear the angels sing, to write poetry. Get me out of this portrait painting crapcan!" I had crumpled the copy cartridge up, but a woman editor picked it up later and read it. "What are we doing to you?"
Nice lady. Gave me the Education Beat where there was at least some hope. There was certainluy more satisfaction. My new milieu was among brighter, more accomplished people.
Besides writing about new developments in education philosophy "Make education student-centered and not teacher-centered", was the mantra of the Sixties, till they tried it as a matter of policy and hardly anyone could add or spell. Great for the genius, but not so great for the grunt.

I tended to my work and meanwhile entered a circle of really fine writers who did journalism to pay the rent whlle working on their books.
Ah, those were the days before published writers became snobs and snots, where you were welcome, and any number could play. Less egotistical, giving.
Hugh McVicar and Pat Williams.
Support, support. "Writing is a lonely business." "Talent seems to hide in the strangest places." "You got into The Star through a poem...But you can actually do the work. No fluke."

The poem? Frankly, it was not very good.

You tower over me like music
my lofty green-boughed tree
You whisper,You speak
In Paleolithic silence
Till the wretched hour of adulthood comes.


The other published poem, the whimsical one about Sex and the Slavic Social Climber was, I think, better and funnier.

And there had been the short story of impotence and woe, which surely pleased my prissy editor at the Fifth Page, but somehow gave people the impression that I was a poet of mpotence and woe. Maybe that was why Hugh had said, "Talent hides in the strangest places."
In fact, my glamorous new job had strange women calling me at night. Unlike my poor literary editor, there were actually chicks under my bed. Ah, youth. And a star at the Star where "there were no stars."
And then clunk. I was moved to the business pages where I produced grey copy among grey men and women.
I left the Star disappointed. They did not recognize genius, I keened. Are they blind, lazy, or just stupid? Heh.
Slavic social climber indeed.
Seemed to me more like "Nuke the Uke." There were maniacs in journalism. Don't give the cub an even break!
"Nothing personal," wonderful Star editor Gerry Toner had said.
"You just didn't amass enough experience berore getting to The Star."

Going back to Ryerson for my final year, a professor had been less kind. "All talent and no judgment, no experiencece. And I don't like your short stories."
Ah the young fool in the real world.
I went on the the Star Weekly, less fast paced, more open to creative writing. But it seemed I had cooked my own goose by 27. And the Leonard Cohens and Irving Laytons were ploughing deep furrows in Canadian Literature. I was nowhere near those luminaries in talent, but neverheless seemingly stuck in second gear at The Star Weekly, writing about baton twirlers, olympic wrestlers, skaters, professional athletes.
"Watch it, baby," my wife had said." With your stories of impotent professors, you may yet be abused by professional athletes. I worry about you sometimes. While driving the car, you seem to be really shy of being rear-ended," she laughed.
I worried about it too. A professional jock sniffer made good money. "But I want to be a novelist," Martha.
"So why don't you write a novel?"
Ah, nice work if you can get it.
That took much time and learning. Developing your craft.
And I was the hare among tortoises. And the turtles were crowding me. And at this, at the novel writing, I had hardly begun.
So what to do. I was a zippy writer, but not a writer.

I would have to go back to university, to be among professional writers, to really learn how to write.
Hell. Go first class. Go Ivy League, though pedigree requirements were high.
I perused the MIT writing programmes.

The Writing Center (12-132) offers several services to the MIT community during the academic year. Students and staff members can get free individual consultation about any writing difficulty, from questions about grammar to matters of style, including difficulties common to writers, such as overcoming writer’s block, organizing papers, taking essay exams, revising one’s work, or presenting scientific information. They may visit the Center during any stage of the writing process: prewriting, writing a first draft, revising, or editing. Consultations may concern papers that have been (or will be) submitted for a grade. The Center is not, however, a proofreading service; it aims to treat writing as a process, to clarify and promote techniques of good writing. The Center also offers instruction both to individuals and groups in methods of oral presentation (how to write a speech, how to use visual aids, how to conduct oneself when presenting scientific or nonscientific information). The Center provides specialized help to those for whom English is a second language.

Well, English was surely my second language but I saw myself as Zipppy the Lood King, the ougragegeous raffish character out of, I thought, R.Crumb. Write rings around ya!
But, sadly, my marks at Ryerson had not been high enough, I could not possibly make Northwestern or MIT, so I bypased MIT, too rich for my blood, and settled for the Instituto Allende, in Mexico, a branch of the University of California.

Durn. No sooner I get off the plane than they promote me to professor of nonfiction because of my journalistic credits.
And I still didn't know how to write fiction.
I am wondeting to this day if I will ever get it.
Hm. I just got a note about MIT from somebody who had noticed my blog.
Be a novelist. Go to MIT. There are real writers there. The woods are polluted with them!
Ah Walter Mitty. There is hope. There is always hope! Even if long in the tooth.
##

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm a poet, I know it. I think I'm gonna blow it



A toxic teacher at Ryerson U, for some arcane reason of his own, kept handing my copy, rejecting a lot of it, and telling me, "You're all talent and no judgment."

Maybe he was right. Here is a poem I just pulled out of my back pocket.

Beware of Mary, wicked lass
She won't show you much money
But she'll invite you to her place
To feed you gin and honey

But you're simple Slavic guy
You don't ask at all the why
And you just jabber and spill your mind
What revelry this is, you say.

And you're simple Ukie dude
And your behaviour is so rude
Come from Alberta, bubbling crude
You need to caper, to be lewd.


You think you're great,
a boozy lecher
As on the couch you start to stretch her
You, poor old idiot savant
Who's spouting Socrates and Kant.

But Mary's foils are suble, sly
And you're a pretty simply guy
Despite your grandeur, oh so Slavic
And you free speech polysyllabic.

"Get off me you thin social climber.
Upon this Wasp you'll never lie
You mixed up idiot savant
Who's spouting Socraties and Kant.

"And here's your raincoat and your shoes
Thoughfully picked by laber, Hart.
Youre aspirations can be seen
You're really not that fuggin' smart."

So if you're ever down at Mary's
And social climbing is your game
give up those foible, feints and ploys
You'll end up drinking with the boys.


...Odd things are produced when your are out of cigarettes and booze...Hell, and even cooze. :)

##

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Flash of the Phoenix




Phoned by many a lady in a poetic fugue, wanting, seemingly to end it all, I was somehow getting into a funk myself. When the computer stole the poem I had been working on for years, I contemplated hanging myself. Just before I looked for the rope, however, I realized that I had, just before my depression, pressed Find.
And what do you know? I didn't have to kill myself, even if an editor had remarked, looking over an earlier draft, "You do not entirely avoid self pity."
Blame it on all my self-pitying ladies. Osmosis. I think it's catching.
Anyway, here's the poem:

THE PHOENIX

At first they tried to starve the phoenix.
Cut off his income. Take away his wife.
The Phoenix went from field to barren field, picking plucking, thinking.
They finally tethered the phoenix
Force-fed him pebbles, gruel
Called him a French Canadian.
Ha ha.
Gruel for you. And peasoup.
You are de woodpecker, no? Bash de face against de tree.
The Phoenix became spavined. It molted.
Till one day a flash.


##

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"If I work my hands in wood."



"No intellectual work at night...you won't be able to sleep," father-in-law used to say..

Oh, what the hell, I won't be able to sleep anyway. Seems that that Blogger Walking Mans appears to do his best work at five a. m. I might as well get started a four in the wee. But. what I have to offer right now is just scrabble-scrabble scrabble.This is not good. This is not professional copy. Professional copy is different. The You is taken out of it. It has specific demands. Not a word wasted. Poets of typography we media freaks.
It is too easy to compose on the keyboard. I am so used to the old Smith-Corona, of pounding it, of making something with my hands. Odd thing about art--if you can call ratscrabbling that. . .You make it with your hands.
Or your feet.

I walked ten miles to Aurora, a pretty, town that used to be full of dressage horses and kids. Aristocratic little town, home of famed Torchy Miller at the Olympics, lately fallen prey to developers. The horses are gone, but the kids still around, going crazy as more often than not, in these new monster homes, there is no front or back yard. Running from room to room, screaming, texting each other.
Playing war.

Four miles into the trek, I hear echoes of Fats Domino:

It's time I'm walkin' to New Orleans
I'm walkin' to New Orleans
I'm going to need two pair of shoes
When I get through walkin' to you
When I get back to New Orleans

I've got my suitcase in my hand
Now, ain't that a shame
I'm leavin' here today
Yes, I'm goin' back home to stay
Yes, I'm walkin' to New Orleans


Why am I "Walking to New Orleans."

Well, like my father used to say, "You gotta use your head to save your feet, but but if no head, well, feet."

Gotta use both head and feet. Haven't sold anything for months. No money, no "funny".

I am walking to Aurora.
Follow your instincts. They will never let you down.

Along Yonge Street, a drunk is chased by a police cruiser. He throws a bottle of Bicardi rum out of his drivr's side window--which I immediately pluck forth. First time I caught anything but the flu in years. Hands like old Balitnikov. Heh. In this writing game there are times I wished I had been a homosexual so I could write better--don't they now?--but always quarteback of the stupid football squad. Well. Like riding a bicycle. I can still catch. Almost a full 26er. Holy Cow. There is a God.

There is certainly a Talmud. "Life lays down strange paths for men to tread upon in the dark."

Well, it's light out and something is guiding me.

"I am guided by the beauty of my weapons," Leonard Cohen sings. I have no weapon. Only my 26er of Bicardi rum, and hey, that ain't bad. Fer nuttin'. Gift from God. "Thou preparest a table for me..." Power in the psalm.

I walk right through the two miles of town, along Yonge Street, longest street in the world;goes all the way to Toronto.

I pass a woodworking shop. Antiques.

I step in. I love the smell of the place. Pine and lacquer. Linseed oil. Shiny, angled machines. New, laminated sidboards all around. Cabinets not yet finished. Sawdust on the floor. My father was a cabinet maker. I can hardly nail two boards together.

The professors had been too kind. "He writes like a Ben Franklin cabinet maker...a careful joiner."

Well, not so careful now.

I write like I make love. Everything goes in but the skill.

I need to work with my hands, maybe for therapy.

I recognize the shop owner. It is Paul.

"So how are you?"

"'Walking to New Orleans."

"Again?"

"Still. Flatfuggin' busted."

The last time I worked for Paul I composed an ode under a sanding machine for which I was paid a hundred dolllars.

"Paul, I need a job."

"What else is new? Get into the truck. We need to make some deliveries. Then we'll get you on the sanding machine."

There is a God.

##

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My "frosty sphincter" remains unclenched, much as Stephen Colbert seems to be after my oval.




'I'm calling on Saskatche-whiners to unclench their frosty sphincters and let Americans on to their oval.'—U.S. comedian Stephen Colbert


The Oval, of course, or more properly, the Richmond Olympic Oval, located South of Vancouver will be the site for the speedskating events during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
On last Thursday's show the impish Colbert had more:


"Those syrup suckers won't let us practice at their Olympic venues.… At the Salt Lake Games, we let the Canadian luge team take 100 practice runs ... and you know how Mormons feel about two men lying down on each other," said the tongue-in-cheek night talk-show host."

Hilarious.

Meanwhile, VANOC maintains it is playing by the rules.

"We've offered ample training time to international teams, including the U.S. team," said Smith-Valade. "We had training earlier this year for international teams and we're working right now to offer one more session of access to the international teams before the games."

Some international teams even failed to show up for their training sessions and the Oval sat empty, said Smith-Valade, but she couldn't say if the U.S. was one of those teams." She added that she thought Stephen Colbert was really funny.

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

Myself, I'm getting some humour out of Swine Flu vaccine additives.

(Understamd now that the only Doctoriing I do is only my poor literature).

Anyway, the additives:

"In addition to the viral and bacterial RNA or DNA that is part of the vaccines, here are the fillers:"

aluminum hydroxide
aluminum phosphate
ammonium sulfate
amphotericin B
animal tissues: (pig blood, horse blood, rabbit brain, dog kidney, monkey kidney, chick embryo, chicken egg, duck egg, calf (bovine) serum
betapropiolactone
fetal bovine serum
formaldehyde
formalin
gelatin
glycerol
human diploid cells (originating from human aborted fetal tissue)
hydrolyzed gelatin
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
Neomycin
Neomycin sulfate
Phenol red indidcator /
Phenoxyethanol (antifreeze) /
potassium diphosphate and monophosphate
Polymyxin B
Polysorbate 20 and 80
Porcine (pig) pancreatic hydrolysate of casein
Residual MRC5 proteins
Sorbitol sucrose
Thimerosal (mercury)
tri(n)butylphospate
VERO cells (a continuous line of monkey kidney ce

...What do I know? I took my won buckshee MD from this One-eyed flying Purple People eater MD from the Rain Forest.

Hell, I don't even understand Global warming, except that it's late November and I am in my shorts. Really. In Canada.

##

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"You are teaching them about the Gracchi Brothers? Gad. You are bad enough to be teaching at the University of Toronto, not Flintstone University..



Listen up now. This is the Hunk who somehow found a back door into Toronto's premier Trinity College, where all the teachers and the budding politicians go. It is like high shool, but three times as hard.

So I only drew a 63.

Heh, I chortled. Polish mark. My foreman at the construction site, himself a Pole, said, "That's what we get. The Polish mark. Sixty three per cent."

I had put my hand up quite often in class. Already a graduate of Ryerson Polytech in Toronto, I felt I had things to say.

The professor, British through and through, ignored my question. "You know, Canada has this way of absorbing all this foreign riff-raff who couldn't make it in their own country."

I countered that he himself didn't exactly sound as if he came from East Jesus, Ontario.

That did it. Sixty three per cent, though he had earlier apologized to me in class, saying that racial prejudice was always negative and led to negative consequences. That, I must admit was big of him since tha escutcheon of University of Toronto tree was so wasp-ridden it may as well have been a hive.

But no more. Now it's more like a rainbow. And I grow more conservative and wasp- like.More like Oxford now. "Many of our fine Brtish boys were not born here." But Trinity College still somehow remains British. It teaches Classics, and you need an A to stay on top. I got the Polish mark. Heh. But I had sneaked in the back door by way of the technical university where all the "Polish" guys had to go. I had made Varsity.

Hey, just like in the movies. Go Notre Dame!

But on this day we were studying politics

Tiberius and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus of about 140 B.C, (Or B.C.E as the hippies now say).

The Gracchi brothers were so much like the Kennedys and were offed in pretty well the same way, but by senate chair legs and and by drowning. "No tribune should fight for the poor, the minorities or land reform. You're gonna cause Rome to fall." The senator could have added, "Motherf*cker!" The senators killed the Gracchi brothers. Violently. Like the Kennedys.

I would be really interested in what the students at Trinity are now saying about the Gracchi. Aparently in the U.K, if the Gracchi were seen as liberators, the country would go left in the next election. If perceived as conservatives, the country would go Tory.

Well, our New Democrats in Canada are making some headway, by inches, but headway nevertheless against the minority Conservatives. Liberals seem lost in a funk....I'm really wondering what they're saying at old Trinity and along its Philosopher's Walk.

The country will probably remain Conservative, and all the worse for Canada, for it strikes me that the New Democratic Party is the only way to go in this recession and time of war. So call me a Commie...So was Uncle Tommy.

I weep for Fort Hood in Texas.

And the resemblance of Barack Obama to Gaius Gracchus.

So far, no Senator has raised a chair leg. But they have their ways.

##

Friday, November 06, 2009

"Will you stop firing off those guns on this old warhip, Fatty? It's giving me a migraine."




Nothing to get excited about.

Just potpourri this weekend.

Prince Charles and Camilla are in and around town. They left Hamilton last night for Victoria and then Vancouver tomorrow. Should be a great reception there.
Hey, Josie,(who has popular blog A Majority of Two): Gonna be in Victoria B.C. about now? Charles and Camilla will be there; the place is full of Brits--even South Africa Brits from way back.. Heh.
Myself, I must confess I am a Royal booster, even if it's for Ethlelred the Unready. There is one thing Prince Charles and I have in common: we both screw up our personal lives. How could you, Charlie? Dipping the old wick while married, huh? Yeah. Happens to the best of us. But I must say new wife Camilla is no dog when it comes to social graces, likeability and bearing. She's got the royal jelly...I dasn't reach for a pun.

And a segue here to goodnatured Canada bashers:

From the National Post:

American comedian Stephen Colbert accused Canada of cheating at the upcoming Olympics on Thursday night during an episode of The Colbert Show.


"Those syrup-suckers won't let us practice at their Olympic venues," he said. "This is the most unsportsmanlike conduct by Canadians since it was discovered Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay is a moose."


His comments come in light of recent criticism from the U.S. and Britain about how Canada is taking advantage of playing host to the Winter Olympics in February. Athletes in luge and speed skating from other countries complained they had limited access to the Vancouver facilities while Canadian athletes enjoyed numerous training benefits.

Colbert wants Canada to grant access to the U.S. team, calling Canadians "Saskatchewhiners" and stating that the organizers of the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 let Canadian lugers go for at least a 100 runs at their facility.

On Monday, Colbert announced that the show is now the official sponsor of U.S. Speedskating after their sponsor declared bankruptcy, and encouraged Colbert Nation to make a donation.


U.S. speed skater Joey Cheek was a guest on the show, calling the alleged Canadian venue-hogging "a dick move" on the part of the organizers. Colbert suggested that Canada might be trying to sabotage the Americans.


"I have a theory they are going to turn the freezer off and when the U.S. gets on, they are going to sink into the pool," he said.

"I say we put Canada on notice."

Colbert then reaches into a box and pulls out a sign that says "Canadian Iceholes," placing it on his On Notice board between the likes of Jane Fonda and "limey squirrel eaters" while Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On plays in the background — a song Colbert refers to as the Canadian national anthem.

Heh.


My third item is on a bit of a sad note.

This just in from R.J Baker from his blog, Confessions of a Starving Mystery Writer.

The Death of Erik Ivan James
I knew a man named Jerry Ogg that wrote on the Blogisphere as Erik Ivan James. http://erikivanjames.blogspot.com - he was a great renaissance man. He has a completed novel that he was shopping to publishers but hadn't yet gotten pciked up.

The following is something he wrote a couple of years ago and sums up the last several months of his life. He was a Veitnam Vet and had been a well repsected legal consultant. He had been to the hieghts of his profession and to the depths of human misery. I loved Jerry and he will be greatly missed. He did good things.

"Middle-aged and well traveled in the trenches of human gutters; he wept through his story of hopelessness and despair. He cried over the loss of his soul.

He asked if it would ever get better. He asked if he would ever know peace within himself. He asked if he would ever again find dignity. He asked if he could ever again know love.

That night, he would destroy the most precious of gifts. He would pinch out the flame on the candle of his life.

I’ll always wonder what more...."
Jerry Ogg(aka Erik Ivan James)


Myself I so did enjoy corresponding with Jerry OggJames.

I even edited some of his novel, but it looks like he found no publisher before he died.

Damn. Why do writers off themselves. It make me nervous.

##

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Life as Linus van Pelt




I dreamed I saw St. Augustine,
Alive as you or me,
Tearing through these quarters
In the utmost misery,
With a blanket underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold,
Searching for the very souls
Whom already have been sold.

"Arise, arise," he cried so loud,
In a voice without restraint,
"Come out, ye gifted kings and queens
And hear my sad complaint.
No martyr is among ye now
Whom you can call your own,
So go on your way accordingly
But know you're not alone."


The romantic always hears more than the band is playing, and maybe it's just as well, since Dylan's lyrics are so close to the original melody line by Joan Baez's "Joe Hill" that it's almost the same song, though with an opposite meaning to that of Joe Hill the dead union organizer.
But Dylan's St. Augustine tells you something else, and when heard for the first time, knocks you right off your horse.

St. Augustine, the once- randy Bishop, trying to get it all together precisely at the time Rome fell once and for good. And to what avail now is your repentance, your newfound piety when the Huns have crossed the gates and the See of Rome is no more.

Another Dylan line:

All and all can only fall
With a crushing but meaningless blow...

Or more prosaically:
Fucked again.
A Christiian without epistle or pistol
steamrolled by another more ancient code to life, the code of plants and animals, the code of men and women.
And with men and women it is more structured, borne out of, easily, 20,000 years of living.

So call out, call out for St. Augustine, Bob Dylan, John Updike, to all of us, our souls already sold, blanket on one arm, thumb in mouth,like Linus, and yet still somehow faithful..

##

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Borgesian fantasy. The man who became Norman Mailer





Who wouldn't like to have been Norman Mailer?
Boris wanted to be exactly like Norman Mailer, to take raw emotion and place it on the printed page, with elegance and tact.
Who wouldn't, like Mailer to have opened an autobiography with:

Like many another vain, empty, and bullying body of our time, I have been running for President these last ten years in the privacy of my mind, and it occurs to me that I am less close now than when I began. Defeat has left my nature divided, my sense of timing is eccentric, and I contain within myself the bitter exhaustions of an old man, and the cocky arguments of a bright boy. So I am everything by my proper age of thirty-six, and anger has brought me to the edge of the brutal.

Said Boris to himself: Well, I am twice that age, still angry and it seems that I am no closer to being a Mailer than when I first began.

Boris laboured for years and years, yet he could not achieve the James T. Farrell style of Norman Mailer. His stories were of simple peasants surviving world wars. Good, good enough, but nowhere near the the almost physical, certainly memorable prose of Mailer.
But some sort of kaleidoscopic trick has been achieved.
Boris could not write like Mailer. He could not even imitate the actions of his tiger hero. But Boris' body knew what to do. He began to be the very physical likeness of Norman Mailer.
If Boris could not possess Mailer's talent, I could at least look like him.

By age 71, Boris' transformation was almost complete. He gave s speech in a park to do with writing.
He saw his picture in a newspaper. Yes. Dead ringer. He could be Mailer.

Boris Spellchek, author of The Naked and the Dead.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Experimental Blog....Is there really such a thing? And are the dimensions of love not where you think they are?



I am caught in a vortex.
Still thoughtful over a woman who was either a stone psycho
or another writer who was trying to help--
to suggest to me that I had to suspend my belief in ordinary reality, if I were to enter a world of illusion, mystery and suspense. The world of fiction. And that world was she. She was the fiction, she was the book. She should have been my novel. She should have have been my project. She was he wild mare that I had to ride on my way to authentic artistry.

I think that S, as another writer (and gorgeous woman), wanted me to understand that the "specialness" of relationships was not really held in the place that we tend to think it is, nor does i manifests itself in the way that we wish. Love is not what we think it is and unfortunately can sometimes only be gain it through situations that we would otherwise find abhorrent.

"What do you know of love, you who has read Plato?" She had asked when she finally seemed to have had enough of a stubborn mustang who came off more like a mule.
At the time, to enter a relationship with a married woman who all the while had still another besides me, and not her husband --I found abhorrent.

So I chickened out.
I wished I hadn't now, after all these years.
Some important juncture had been missed.
Or was she just trying to get me into a Hotel California situation:

Her mind is definitely twisted
She's got the Mercedes Benz.
"She's got a lot of pretty boysthat she calls here friends.


Or, more prosaically, was she just plain gay?

The world of illusion, mystery and suspense. The world of fiction. This, she perceived me striving for.
Or was her mind "definitely twisted" and I was the poor Cossack hung up on a rock by a Rusalka, a Loreli.
There had been no wisdom here.
I felt myself a tree in whose bark barbed wire had been ingrown. The tree absorbed the the wire, barbs and all-- grew all around it.
So it seems with unsolved problems, conundrums.
I suppose if you want to be Jesus, you have to absorb the spike.
Or, in the language of Burrohghs, was it a spike that she was on and did she expect me to get hung up as well?

##

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Egomania writ large. Ivan speaks to the masses



Surfacing.
Years of not teaching. Not lecturing.
Familiar setting.
Two hundred eyes on you.
This is what you had missed.
The familiar lecture hall, but this time in open air.
A lovely millpond park in the October light. Hair blowing. Shlivering a little in the wind, half out of nervousness. But that was the way you used to be. A little performance anxiety, just enough before the presentation.
Like Chet Atkins said, " Icould hardly play", but once on the stand you do start a riff or two... Habit. Most comfortable with audience of stangers than even your own kith and kin... Doing a lick on the eradication of povery on World Anti-Poverty Day. Doing a Bob Geldoff, Bono, without the superstar appeal.
How to do your preps for a speech like this.
Took a lot of walking, thinking, figuring out your lead sentence. And, as they used to say in the newspaper business, "once you get past your lead, you've got her whacked."

"In politically correct Canada, we make so much of helping each other out, of political correctness, of elevating the handicapped to near- sainthood, of equal rights for women. But this is all pose. A shibboleth, a callsign. In reality some of our immediat neighbours may as well be in Biaftra or some other godforsaken place. Seniors are starved almost by goverment decree; the handicapped are tucked away where they can not be seen. Single mothers are evicted routinely, even out of illegal apartments whose mold and asbestos had already sickened a young family.
"Here in York Region, the second most affluent part of Canada, there are two thousand families living in abject poverty, and only the fact that they dress like us--Compliments of the Salvation Army-- that they are nearly invisible." And Federal and Provincial governments seem to want to keep them that way."
"Seniors, the unemplyed, Welfare mothers. The handicapped.
" O benevolent, politically correct Canada! Somebody has taken the welfare and disability, the unemployment insurance money, and he won't give it back.
"So try to live on $350 a month if single, with a thousand needed for rent.
" It all began with former Premier Mike Harris and his welfare thieves, Finance Minister Paul Martin and his unemployment insurance grab to restock a bankrupt government --and ending withe Prime Minister Harper with a guns and planes procurement policy for Afghanistan rather than helping the poor and the unemployed."

The audience had been warned by the MC. "He is an outspoken author."

Yes, outspoken. I can see the moderator nearly wince as I seem to harrangue the dignitaries sitting in the front seats.
Not Canadian of me,not polite in the "second-best coutry in the world to live in" according to the U.N.
Ah what do those international New York revellers and carousers know? They smoke, drink, fornicate, smash up cars in Manhattan.. But uh-uh. Not for us unwashed and unprivileged. Shut up and take what you can get. The poor and disinherited, be it Ethiopia or now even Canada..
"And what has the U.N. really ever done for world poverty? It is the NGO's, the Bonos, he non-goverment organizaions that are doing all the heavy lifting, and thank God for them. The U. N. seems to be good at ephemera, at bullshit.
"Got us all to quit smoking, it was the one thing they could do right while people prostitute themselves for a meal, a smoke or a drink in polically correct Canada.
The war in Afghanistan. And the war on human nature.

"A substratum of opium, human trafficking, organized crime seems to permeate all governments, even the U.N.
And governments are somehow part of an unholy union. United Nations? It is corrupt, compromised and nearly depraved.
The rot affects all.
And we in York Region, convinced that our affluence and comfort will never be threatened--look out.
The poor are starting to gather at your gates. And oddly, they are now multinational. Immigrants get f*cked over. Land of milk, soggy oil and honey. Canada needs a wakeup call.

I hand over the microphone. Strangely, to applause.

##

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alienation Baroque Rock and Roll



This should really be a draft of a blog. I fear I am losing my professionalism. This kind of story would never make commercial "treeware" print. But blogging is addictive. It is also an outlet.You have to get it done. And it's all too easy, because there really is no editor. But people will write in. Or just greet a rococo story like this with silence. Anyway, here goes nothing:

Ever have one of these days?

Here is Kate Carroway of Toronto's EYE WEEKLY magazine



I didn’t fully appreciate how happily banal most of my Tuesday afternoons are until I spent a recent one topless, ice-cold and sniffling on an examining table, with a too-attractive doctor pressing electrodes onto my chest, arms and legs for an EKG, just after I had redefined “sobbing uncontrollably” while listing my symptoms, and then again when she asked me if there was anything I might be upset about.

Yeah. And me too ending up one day in a psycho ward with different coloured sox, no pants and just a bomber jacket --and all the while trying to argue with my keeper.
"He's crazy," said the orderly.
"Well what in f*ck did you expect?" I wanted to know. "Oprah Winfrey?"
I don't know if we make an unconscious rational decision to break down. We just do....And at the most inopportune times. Like having your girlfriend walk out on you just at the time you had arranged to pick up the kids and your ex is still wanting to argue, while her boyfriend is patting the family dog in the front bay window... And you couldn't bring your girlfriend, your "equalizer" with you. There is no more level playing field. You are a schmuck.
"'K" doesn't like you any more," hisses the boyfriend though the window. Punch out his f*cking lights... And there is a growl from the Benedict Arnold family dog, because the last time you had kicked the shit out of the boyfriend and booted the family dog as well. Both man and dog are wary.
So you finally, shakily pack up the kids, take them to your parents for the weekend.. Everybody has a good time, but once you bring the kids back, you are alone again. Self-conscious and alone. There is a pile-up of something inside you, probably your body protesting these months and months of alienation-baroque rock and roll.You are suddenly sobbing, and you can't get over this free floating anxiety. Jesus, don't you want to be somewhere else? Don't you want to be somebody else? You certainly want to see somebody. You are inexplicably out of kilter and feel almost out of nature. No all that human.. Alien. You are surprised that you had somehow driven to to the hospital without piling up. Where am I? Who am I?
I'd had this feeling before in foreign countries. Having an anxiety attack in a bar in Copenhagen, I told the guy the next stool over that I suddenly had no idea of who I was.. "Who are you? Don't have a cow, man. I can tell by the trenchcoat the camera and you identification button. "You're a war correspondent."
"Oh" And perhaps through humour, the anxiety attack went away.
But there was no trenchcoat in this final scenario. I had arrived at the hospital with mismatched sox, boxer shorts and an Air Force bomber jacket.
"Have you been drinking?" the doctor asked? "Yes."
"I wouldn't drink any more tonight. Alcohol is a good tranquillizer. But it wears off. We're going to have to give you somethilng that won't wear off.
He tries to find me a bed, but it's Easter weekend and there seem to be no beds.
A fragment of Dylan is running though my head.

When you're lost in the rain in Juarez
And it's Easter time too.
And your gravity fails and negativity don't pull you through.
Don't put on any more airs when you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they'll really make a mess out of you


Well, hadn't hungry women made a mess out of me?
Or did I make a mess out of them.
But it's me that's having the meltdown.

I get a shot of something.
The ward doctor can't find a bed. The session had cleared my head somewhat. I certainly can't drive all the way back to Toronto in this shape. Better stay near the hospital. I go to a friend where I know I can spend the night. I just need to find my pants, put them back on. I drive over to the friend's house. Friends in need.And me gone to seed. The beatiful neighbour. Husband is protesting, but I somehow get to spend thethe night. And another. And get crazier each day. And I'm starting to get to the husband.
They finally find a bed at the hospital. The intake nurse said, "You've finally had enough, have you?" "Yep," I said. The right man in the right place."

It is our body that struggles thus. We do the booze, the drugs, the sexual marathons,The Rothman's King size and the parties. We think the bank account of youth will never be overdrawn. But it now is.
the time to pay for your shenanigans and superiorities. You have dug your last hole, Mole.
There are episodes in the ward. Your girlfiend want to come back, your wife might take you back. Your young son, who has come to visit, is beginnint to have doubts. He's not saying it, but you can imagine in. "When I crack up, am I going to be just like you?
Former head of the household has gone mad.
What will we tell the children?

Well. A spell at the hospital. The jigsaw puzzle assembly plant. You somehow put the puzzle together--they help you-- and you're out on the street again.
You are going to be all right. You can just tell these things.
And yet, two days later there's this choked sob in the middle of the night.
It seems there are limits.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!




Ah, the good old days, when E.A. Monroe looked like a teenage queen in Oklahoma, and in Ontario, I thought I was Elvis.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Two silhouettes on the shade: A 47-year-old teenager in love.



Looking back over a work penned twenty-five years ago, one is amazed over how naive a middle aged lothario can be during a chaotic time in his life.
Things falling apart all around, life and work a mess, dropping from professor to contractor while mind-swoggled by a psycho bitch goddess that you're in love with...And she is pulling on your chain. Break it and "she don't care".


CHAPTER NINETEEN


February Blues, 1988.

I was confusing calculus with cabbage heads. Nothing was going right, neither at the newspaper where I worked part time, nor my communications course with the college and certainly not the construction business, where my partner would just sit and drink; he would not do anything with the backhoe that he'd bought, Star Wars state-of-the-art technology or not. He'd cut a vital TV cable link during our last job. We'd been run off a site and he was very depressed. I was certainly cutting my own cable.


I tried to phone Lana once and got a very tired voice, not her usual bubbly and enthusiastic one. "Lana Horvath speaking." It was a croak. She was tuned right out; somebody was succeeding in breaking us up. Lief, I guess. And Lana's voice very low. Was she on something? I was getting the sex-alienation-loneliness chucks. What to do? I was probably now out of a girlfriend from whom I'd hardly had any sex in the first place. I loved her company, but I couldn't possibly just keep her as a mannequin; the devil would soon fix that. Then there was the fact that she was a married woman, at least in convention, a kind of Stepford Wife, living with her husband, doing the grocery shopping, stepping out into town and all that.

Yet I was hopelessly in love and I knew she was too. We had sensed, I think, the two of us that this love may yet bring us both to life, a release from an incubus of manipulation by others. But it seemed to be working the other way. Thantos?


I contemplated hanging myself. The frustration and impossibility of the situation, the stress of the so-called "relationship". And there wasn't just trouble with Lana. The landlord was becoming a problem. There was some hope in this. There might be a small inheritance for me around the corner. I would see my father in Hamilton quite often. My relationship with my father was very good. Among other things, he told me that he had passed on the title to me of a small property worth about $70,000. Not bad.

But property was not on my mind. I would have given Lana $70,000 on the spot just to have sex with her, right now. I was seeing Lana on every doorway and lentil. The Sunshine Girl in a skimpy Santa Claus suit (I had saved that one) looked for all the world like Lana, right down to the ample shanks.

I masturbated to Lana's memory, and still the thing would not let me go.


A drink with the mysterious Jack the K., the salesman. "February will be a bitch for you, as well as March and April and July, all these months. You've realized that something's up, but she's not ready. Above all, don't phone her. Don't call her. She thinks you're stronger than she is. If you phone her, you'll screw up. Meanwhile, get ready for August. Get your best suit ready."


I was still trying to convert part of my office space into a semblance of a proper apartment, or at least finished what I'd started to do on this project, but I wasn't having much look. In the first place, the floor was uneven, the walls that I'd begun drywalling still taped. Pat Skeed and I had an argument. Why did he cut that TV cable? The company's rep was in ruins. Soon Pat was not around, and, of course, neither was Lana. It seems that I had driven them both away. What sort of a curmudgeon was I becoming? What had I done in my fits of anger? How nice it would be in these depressing weeks of February to have had both of them around, Lana coming "home" every night and Pat trying to flirt with her. It would make me jealous, but Pat would hang back in the office sometime, nursing his small beer, until edgy looks from Lana and me would finally send him home. And when Pat would leave, it was always the same with Lana and me. The damn adolescent touchy-feely affection. Even Lana was frustrated by now, "Make a move, make any move!" Yet I could not go beyond adolescent gropings. Why was that? Things happen to us or don't happen to us and it is only years later we realize why.


Mixing and pouring cement, thinking al this over once Lana had gone. Making cement, out of a hand-cranked cement mixer. Making cement. By myself. Perhaps out of myself. Working on stone.

I watched the concrete floor of my proposed living room set through the inside office window. I had taken to sleeping on the couch in the office. Heretofore Lana and I had used the living room with its then-crummy floor. Watching "paint" dry? I waited and I waited, flipping radio stations. Bon Jovi was big those months:

Its all the same, only the names are changed
And every day, we're just wastin' away


Jesu Christo. Didn't Bon Jovi and Ritchie Sambora put our moods together?


Sometimes I sleep, Sometimes I think for days
And people that you meet, they just go their separate ways
Sometimes I count the days, by the bottle that you drink
Sometimes I sit alone, and all you do is think



I was indeed something of a cowboy by night, when I was short on bucks, on a steel horse I would ride, though a four-wheeler, a vehicle of commerce, the taxicab, like Harry Chapin, takin' tips and getting stoned.

After two months of this, I was about ready for the booby hatch. I planned an invasion, to hell with friends' advice.

-----------

It was getting onto June, about the time they invaded Normandy some 43 years back, June 6, D-DAY. I would invade Celia's house, would storm Lief's castle and haul her away. Tristan would steal Iseault. I would get a truck outfitted with a winch. I would tear the house down. I would huff and I would puff.

And in the taxi, on the night of a full moon, I would buzz Lana's house. There seemed to be a girl in the window, in a short negligee. She looked like Lana. But she was not blonde. She had bright, henna-red hair.

She seemed to be preening in front of the window, for Leif, presumably, and Leif indeed seemed to be sitting in the middle of the C-shaped chesterfield that Lana and I had become accustomed to. But this Lief-lookalike, who was ogling the Lana-lookalike had a beard about a foot long. I don't recall Lief ever growing a beard.

And the truck parked outside. It looked like Lief's in colour, but it seemed more like a minivan than Lief's little pickup with the cap on it. I was not sure. I had to make pickup calls and I did not buzz the house again, conspicuous as my taxi light had been. Some sleuth! As I drove to pick up a fare in Holland Landing, something snapped into place. The man with the beard was a dead ringer for a famous, limb-snapping cult leader out of Peterborough. Therriault. Tabernac! A Frenchman now up on several charges of mutilating at least one of his concubines. He had claimed he was Moses, but Beelzebub was more like it. It was in all the papers. And now what? My Lady in the Papers? I hoped I was wrong. Easy to spin a fantasy on a full moon. I was going fairly nuts with all this. Twice that evening, I had run the cab into a ditch. I was really ticking off the taxi company's mechanics and tow truck drivers.

She is somewhere very near
And her silence is your fear

Jung: The Eternal Feminine. She is everywhere. Leads straight to the mother. Pure evil...Sometimes one's own wife herself can defuse the situation.


I was still on speaking terms with Sharon, my ex-wife. She did have a sense of humour. "Go ahead. Tell me about it. I will defuse." She was living with another man, was fairly sure of herself. At least in those days. She had gone on to win at last, while I was obviously going nowhere fast, as the late Ray Charles would lament. I told Sharon I had this enormous Lana problem. She was in my blood. She had entered my soul. I told Sharon I had considered going to an exorcist. Sharon had laughed out loud. If there were any doubts in her mind that I was going insane and that's why we had broken off in the first place, those doubts, in her mind, seemed gone now. She was writing me off as a nut. Again.

.....end chapter

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Where is Watson the Worm Picker?



I am not Shelley and my lamp isn't totally shattered at the shank of this full moon, but I wonderewhy a long-cooled piece of rock should have such an effect on ones moods.
Eveything seems grey, grey.
One thinks gloomy thoughts about ones spouse, ones children, ones dog.
It takes just an iota of Buddhism to contemplate the futility of f*cking near everything. Your book will never be published hardcover. You have joined the list of also-rans.
You are consigned to teaching creative writing forever and worms seem to rise out of the ground with their accusantions: You've dug your last hole, Mole. We will put you into solitary confinement. You shall be a recluse and a nut.
I think of my friend Watson, (aka Eddie Snopes in my novels) who had somehow made a good living picking dew worms for Florida fishermen.
Watson picked his last worm recently. He died shortly after his house burned down. Did the worm ever turn?
Seems not for Watson. For a while he was rich on the insurance money and the worms; it was Watson's last waltz along the golf course.
You ceratainly cannot take it with you....But you leave all those D.P.'s-- Displaced Persons, Watson's brothers who are wandering the streets willy-nilly because Watson had forgotten to make a will. Three hundred thousand dollars gone poof and Watson up there laughing, I suppose.
It's sad old full moon out.
Where is Watson the worm picker?
I dasn't bait a hook.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Hayseed Politics: Eddie Snopes was even weirder as a politician



When I ran for Mayor of Newmarket, my home town, I thought that I was the fringe candidate. But there was a second, who seemed even more baroque than yours truly.
I was the crazy writer, seemingly on speed. But Eddie Snopes was the real deal on being odd.
I got to know Eddie well, was taken by his life story, and once we both lost the election, I was moved to craft a roman à clef about him, a novel with a key.
The story is bucolic, rural. But I had to experiment with my new writing form.

So here is a chapter out of my Eddie Snopes book, a novel with a key, and I must say that that year neither Eddie or I got any new key.

CHAPTER VI

Eddie Snopes

To hear tell of Eddie Snopes is to conjure in your mind the image of a clam fisher, muskrat trapper and toad stabber from somewhere in the primeaval wilds of Holland Landing, from back in the days when it was still an unspoiled natural swamp in the Depression Thirties. Yet Eddie was only 47 at the time of the 1985 election in nearby Newmarket, and it was more properly to his father, Sam that the toadstabber, muskrat trapper, home brew distiller and other backwoods images belonged.
Sam Snopes used to pull into Newmarket from the Second Concession in Holland Landing to stop off at a Main Street watering hole, have a good afternoon of it and forget where he was. Barkeeps and patrons would then pour Sam into his buggy and the fine Morgan horse that Sam owned would take the harness buggy all the way home to Holland Landing by memory.
Sam Snopes would used to be a tough old nut out there up North Main from Newmarket, making a living as best he could at a time when there was no money, and bootlegging and catfish choking the only way to feed a family of four...Then a second family when he had abandoned the first.
Eddie Snopes was the product of Sam's second marriage, Sam soon dying when Eddie was just a tot and Sam's second wife remarrying shortly afterwards. Eddie grew up in the care of a foster father and his older siblings, while having to live down the reputation of being not quite legitimate in a crowd of half-brothers and sisters divided along family lines.
Eventually, Eddie's mother was spirited away to somewhere in the north country and Eddie got to feel like a motherless child quite a bit. It gave him a thoughtful foot-shuffling character that would persist to the present day.
What was left of the new family did settle in Newmarket and it was here in this mill town that Eddie grew up, atttending schools in town, doing surprisingly well at Newmarket High, displaying a strange combination of athletics and art.
He was farily popular. Eddie with the flaxen haired, county boy appearance. A type. But a little odd. Nobody ever said it out loud, but Eddie was something of a pig pen Cinderfella, His hands were always dirty from scraching in the ground after something, but nobody seemed to mind in a school not too far off rural.
After hight school, Eddie surprised everybody by going to art school, or more properly, the Ontario College of Art, in those days a fairly elitist school. Strange move for Eddie, the contrary one the champ runner for his shool, the dewworm picker at night to keep himself in pin money.
Through the strange combination of of picking worms at night (and illegally) at golf courses and through geniune ability at draftsmanship, Eddie did gradueate from OCA, met a kindred spirit, Lolly who didn't mind working the golf course with him at night. Out on the golf course one night, Eddie proposed under the pine trees and she accepted.
But Eddie was Eddie. The contrary one. Hard to live with.
Shortly after the divorce, Eddy resumed his old tendency towards physlcal things. Work on stone to slake the depression, put up fences, building cairns, taking up judo and karate to get a new attitude. At night, he still picked worms.
He was developing the attitude of a man perplexed by a metahysical problem, working it out through a pitting of his very being against rocks and stone, against the material world.
Is it love that lends light to intellect. And in the absence of love, do we not get meaner?
If you cannot love a woman, you can work against real things, make a dent. If you can't love a woman--or more properly, if woman doesnl't love you--then you can love the town, love the town as if it were a woman. But seemingly, he had to show his manhood, his sudden conviction of a new knighthood.

Right down there on Main Street in the council chambers of of Newmarket was a gathering of princes and and princesses, the councillors. He was going to pit himself against them, perhaps just to show Lolly if she was still paying atention, to show he was a man of consequence to his estranged and unrepentant wife. He was going to become a man of foirce, of quality. And he was going to test that quality against the princes and plrincesses of this town of Newmarket.
How best to let his light shine, how best to show his love aand care for the beautiful old--style river town of Newmarket?

Eddie was a man of practical bent, but he had ideas. He had to get his ideas out into the open. He had to find an issue. The town of Newmarket had for years instructed all its mostorists, usually Model A jockeys, to park on only one side of the street, a custom preserved by the old contemps from the days when Main Street was still dust and dirt.
Eddie would become a prosyletiser, a brandisher of petitions. Eddie went out and got signatures to show that drivers really wanted to be able to park on both sides of the street, right in front of where they wanted to go. Eddie soon had shoppers parking more along where they wanted to buy. He got the bylaw changed with his picketing and pampleteering. He became a force in the world.
From there on, Eddie would be the arch enemy of not only those snooty concillors, but also Ray Twinney, Mayor of Newmarket. Oddly, of all the wags and young turks of Newmarket, it was only Eddie who who had the gumption to go against Twinney, a self-confessd "Don", for Twinney was half Sicilian. Eddie would run for Mayor and lose. And run again. And lose again. Fast-slow Eddie. Always running.
By the early eighties, though the press was having fun with Eddie with jokes of the worm turning and Mayor Twinney relectant to shake Eddie's hand after he came out of the warhroom--"The guy had been masturbating in there!"--Eddie was ready to rise again. He would be the eteranal, if slightly soiled knight, ready to do battle with Mob boss Dylan.
In talks with Eddie, he would tell me,"Noody else had the courage to stand up to a godfather like Twinney. "I was the first." And he was.
But there was another courageous person in town, a woman. Manager of a local hotel for down -and -outs, she took on Twinney in l983 and demonstrated that at least half the peoplle in town didn't like Da Godfather. She lost by just a few votes, but didn't contest.
So when l985 came around, who shoud join the lineup of candidates againt Ray Twinney but Eddie Snopes. Eddie had set a precendent. In the past peope were in fear of opposing Twinney publicly. He had run the poor hotel manager out of town, almost on a rail There was actually fear and loathing of Twinney in some circles. Fear, they said, of actually being offed.
Eddie Snopes had served to defuse that fear. There would now be, in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, no Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail...but more often than not, the mayor would win an acclamation.
But by l985, Eddie was ready not only to run against Twinney one more time, but he had a plan to restructure the was voting was set up in Newmarket.
What Eddie was proposing for a town of 35,000 was a ward system, a splitting up of the town into about five wards, each with a wark alderman and a ward councillor. This, Eddie reasoned, would break the Seven-Councillor--Seven Sister lockstep of Councils in the past, break up Twinney's Company Store mentality of the town and offer some real democracy. Eddie had said, "I don't necessarily want to run for mayor--I'd just like to set up a more fair system." Presumably his defeat would be easier to take when he was running on an idea and not against a man.
And so, the final results came in on the radio, Eddie trailing a bad 147 out of 13,000 votes. Eddie lost, of course.
But he won his ward system. He never stopped crusading.
He was last seen defending an old radial line streetcar terminus in Newmarket dating back to the thirties. He saved the original town hall from the wreckers hammer.
Eddie snopes was a fighter through and through.
Some day, I feared somebody was going to get him offed.
Right to the day they burned my house down.
Eddie used to tell me, "Be careful what you do. What and where you eat. Politics is a blood sport."


*(STORM AND STRESS ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
The 1985 Election in Small Ontario Town is published by the Newmarket Public Library).

##

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meeting Bernardo the Broadway Man while in hell


Ever meet one of those guys?

Out of the blue, in a foreign country. And in Dylan's words, "Somebody thinks he's really found you."

"I am Bernardo Schoenfeldt. I have had a successful play on Broadway...And I see by the way you are, the careful ways in which you move and speak--obviously a second language, a second identity to you -- that you are a carbon copy WASP, a Pygmalion, a chameleon, a cultural hermaphrodite, a twit.

"Why did you come to San Miguel to do your Masters? You should have gone to Irvine, where the real writers are. I think you're a jerk."


...Not sure whether he was trying to fight me or f*ck me...you never know with those Musical guys. His opening introduction left me confused.

Years later, I looked up the name Bernardo Schoenfeldt and Broadway. Nothing. Friggin' phoney.

But maybe he was just jealous at the time when someone was getting laid and he was sniffing at newly arrived novelists.

I had confessed to him in a bar at the time, that I loved two women and that I was in hell. Maybe Bernardo was thinking to himself,"He's in hell. How do I get there? When can I go? My life as a middle aged f*ck-up here is flat, boring."



CHAPTER EIGHT

"In the middle of the journey of our lives," says Master Dante, "I came to myself in a dark wood, for it seems the straight way was lost."

And what a deep and dark wood it was. Yes indeed, I was saying to myself lying beside Valerie in the dark, trying to remember the translation as well as I could, remembering the difficulty I'd had with Italian, though now it came rather easily to me through my newfound Spanish. I had needed a language to go with my electrical engineering degree and Dante was de rigueur.

I remembered as a very young man being seized by a line somewhere in the cantos: You know at this stage of the journey that what I'm setting down here are not mere words.
How right that old Florentine was. Old? Really not that old. Dante wrote the Divine Comedy at about age 43 and not 35, the age he was chronicling in that torturous book. He knew of what he spoke for he influenced our moderns so, especially Kierkegaard a favourite of my newfound playwright friend who had observed that I had not yet learned as a would-be writer, the relationship between the subjunctive and the indicative, between "as it were" and as it actually was. "Horse feathers," I had snorted. "That's just Jean-Paul Sartre trying to see the world through French grammar, Being and Nothingness and all that existential rot." "Not the same thing," Bernardo Shoenfeldt insisted. "We must learn to write the truth and the truth lies as much in individual cats and it does in the characteristic, universal 'cattiness'. Remember that."

"I do, from old philosophy classes."

Berardo's roguish Lower East side mug's face stared right into mine. "You're a twit. A Pygmalion. You might unravel sooner than you think. Remember about the subjunctive and the indicative." I would have told him to go straight to hell if I hadn't remembered his Broadway connections. A play on Broadway was nothing to sniff at.

How does it come to a man in his prime, at the height of his success, manhood, parenthood that he should chuck it all like a true believer in Kipling's IF, taken, no doubt from one of the many Buddhas born again and again in the East, and rattling Kipling's Masonic sensibilities. The Tibetan Book of the Dead did have its appeal. But would it in the end be no more than the Epic of Gilgemesh, so rich in promise and mystery to the novice writer until he sorted through the clay tablets to find nothing less than Plato's Know Thyself. Know thyself for being a horse's ass? Beware of the quest for identity. Your past might just snap back at you.

Snapping back at me now. Maybe I just needed a change. Maybe I was just horny. There is a really good blowjob scene in the Epic of Gilgemesh. Interest of science, you understand. I had to find out. Maybe I'm like Dante's sniveler, who apologizes in advance for committing an act considered wrong, but when the opportunity presents itself again and again, he will, still apologizing, go on doing that wrong. That's part of the hell of it.

Sin. Maybe that's what it is, good old-fashioned sin. The Greeks

tried to see the beauty, the sweetness and light beyond earthliness. The middle ages, the so-called dark ages contradicted this concept. What was it that always thwarted our best efforts at finding the sweetness and light? Sin. The damned snake in the garden.

Yet when the great crisis comes, you have to change. You must change or die. Even Dante himself leads you through a landscape that extends well beyond ordinary morality.

I looked at Valerie's sleeping form beside me. Wonder Woman herself, she thought, brave, talented and fucked up. She hated to be called beautiful, yes, but how that beauty could have been applied. Not as a clothes horse, not as a model but as a poet and personal inspiration to others, a real American idol. A Jewel.

How was it that she had gone from one failing man to another, toning down her looks, hating the way she looked while all the while she was a Jane Fonda in the nude and she liked it. To be beautiful and talented comprised an aristocracy of its own, an aristocracy that carries rights and privileges, an advanced degree of its own. There are no more aristocracies but you only need to think of Richard Gere, Dustin Hoffman and the real Jane Fonda to realize that here were kings and queens of no mean pedigree. Titles have disappeared but just look at the papers. Kings and queens for you.

The rest of us struggle for money.


I turned my gaze away from Valerie and stared at the ceiling, where insect life was starting to flourish in the hot Mexican night. Later would come the mosquitoes, who would first land a foot or two away from you, then would walk over to bite. You couldn't hear them until the pinch. Little pinpricks of hell. The hell Valerie had gone through. She was fucking for her life. And my life seemed to be running out of time.


So little time, or, as my mother might say, too much time. My mother seemed to be against all western thought. Whatever the philosophers posed and I would repeat, she'd just say "Not for all. Not always." It ain't necessarily so.

We discover, or begin to discover who and what we are but we do not immediately apprehend the conspiratorial circles that guide us all, and after we do, then come the little breakdowns, the little lapses physical and mental that remind you that you are turning thirty-nine and then forty and then the glorious or maybe sad age of fifty with its great intellectual realizations, not so great when you consider that a hundred and fifty years ago a man named George Boole was already considering downloading what was in each person's mind, some downloads long, others short. Then sixty and seventy, and poof! Or even poofta. Who gives a damn about you when you're seventy-five? George Balshevis Singer? The sterile white of Florida condos. The stench of old men. And yet it somehow made sense, a world where God and man have adapted to the nightmarish and the unpredictable, for the world of quantum mechanics could be brought down to the world of men and women existing in an insecure and spooky place whose meaning, if ever apprehended fully, would, as McLuhan noted, "drive you insane." You are coming to a quantum leap, professor, or is it just the event horizon of your first black hole?

You have broken down before, professor, and you didn't know it, saved by your money, dreaming every night of going down the vast sewer pipe of the universe, down the river Styx, you thought, in your nightmare of the future, hieroglyphics on each side of the narrow passage down which you floated, later looked up in the National Geographic as the exact layout of the pyramid of Cheops. Racial memory? No. Egyptian culture was African. You were just going down the sewer pipe of the universe, following some wonky ancestor who wasn't all that sane either, mercifully bumped off early, before thinking of turning a gun on yourself. But maybe Grand Dad may have been a Coleville. The seascape. The white hotel. The gun.

It may all be a dream, yet to walk through life as if asleep (or just avoiding the nightmare) would be to place oneself in an even worse dream state, a Borgesian world where the dreamers dreams another dreamer and so on, Elsie the Cow holding a can with Elsie the Cow on it, holding a can with Elsie the Cow on it into infinity, backward and forward.

Life can only be as it is. With all options considered, man is in the best possible situation. How could it be otherwise? Man tries to make sense of things but the universe makes no sense. It appears to have neither beginning middle or end. The Big Bang is there, of course, and so we have the hydrogen bomb.

Divine Intervention the only way out? In the end, one's education is ones own. You have to go through the inferno by yourself, suffer what it is that you have to suffer and come out through the upside-down mountain. There is light at the end of the journey and even the promise of paradise. You end up born again (Jesus, you great wise teacher!) and you regard your old self with disbelief, and often with disgust.

Who was the old Kevin? Who am I?

I've always been, I suppose, a spoiled brat, though spoiled by other people and not in my own family. The teachers always made a fuss over me, nearly all of them women. I was very bright and that gave me rights and privileges that the much maligned Irish in Canada don't always get. But I was, and am, crazy drunken Irish. I think it really does run through families. Mother, that day she bloodied me with the straightened coat hanger, making me tell the police that I'd gotten into a fight with a school bully (I'd already dispatched the bully with a well-aimed brick). No picnic in Cabbagetown. She had spattered my blood once, and again, and once again. Dear Father, you had your failings, but you never bloodied me. Mother, mother, that day I said there was no God and you were boiling up that wash in the cauldron back there in Northern Ontario and you picked up your heavy ladle and nearly broke my shoulder with it. It still hurts on rainy nights and my feet hurt from the burn.

And Dad, dear old Dad, never really admitting my existence. You had once ran off on the family and then when you came back you accused Mother of all sorts of things. You had called me a son of a whore at every opportunity, not a nice thing to call a seven-year-old. You never knew how to love me. I know that you really do. And I love you. Whore's son that I am. Whore's son who will never amount to anything.

Only now, My Father, can I consider that you may have been a fool, with your garbage cans and your mop and that pride that will never leave you.

Is it because of you, Mother and Father, that I sought certainty in the world, myself from a family that had no certainty, a family that seemed to be always operating on Murphy's Law--If something can go wrong it will, and where it will do the most damage.

Certainty is what I sought, the certainty in science, the serenity in mathematics, where your could only be right or wrong, the grace and Cartesian clarity of essays, the proving of a theory. Logic. Brainwork. That is what you respected, dear old Dad, and that is what I have developed. Maybe there is a lesson in all this. Maybe in your strange way you have succeeded in hammering out a scientist. But at what cost?

Logic. Logic and no emotion, no soul. Were you secretly a Mason dear old Dad? Is that why you told me every man has a secret? And how have these goat-grabbing Satanists really helped you? A crime, all this great architecture, a damn Protestant crime. North America, the key society in the world, suddenly shedding its logic to become a barbaric new world order. Dressed in logic like a uniform while the furies were ripping you apart.


They are certainly ripping me apart.

One way out of madness is to write. I gave Valerie a nuzzle while she slept, rose up to the raised ceramic table on which we usually ate, pulled up a heavy chair and let the Fury who was tearing at me have her way with the ballpoint.

....end chapter

##