Friday, February 27, 2009
I leaned a little too heavily on my research over at RIGOROUS INTUITION to produce the following piece, but it was so supportive of the way we smokers have felt for some time. The anti-smoking cabal is pernicious, full of control freaks, and dangerous to your health.
Every year, thousands of medical doctors and other members of the “Anti-Smoking Inquisition” spend billions of dollars perpetuating what has unquestionably become the most misleading though successful social engineering scam in history And we in Ontario, an especially nanny province, we see our Orwellian lobbyists pursue smokers with a fanatical zeal that completely overshadows the ridiculous American alcohol prohibition debacle, which started in 1919 and lasted until 1933.
Nowadays we look back on American prohibition with justifiable astonishment. Is it really true that an entire nation allowed itself to be denied a beer or scotch by a tiny group of tambourine-bashing fanatics? Sadly, yes it is, despite a total lack of evidence that alcohol causes any harm to humans, unless consumed in astromomical quantities, like the poor rats they overdosw eith nicotine to get the desired (and paid for) result.
Although there is no direct link between alcohol and tobacco, the history of American prohibition is important, because it helps us understand how a tiny number of zealots managed to control the behavior and lives of tens of millions of people. Nowadays exactly the same thing is happening to smokers, though this time it is at the hands of government zealots and ignorant medical practitioners rather than tambourine-bashing religious fanatics.
Governments know that their past actions are directly responsible for causing most of the lung and skin cancers in the world today, so they go to extreme lengths in trying to deflect responsibility and thus financial liability away from themselves, and onto tobacco instead. There is statistical evidnece that tobacco causes cancer--largely lazy coroners-but there is no direct causal evidence to suggest harmless organic tobacco has ever hurt anyone,and in certain ways can justifiably claim to provide startling health protection.
Not all governments around the world share the same "tobacco problem". Japan and Greece have the highest numbers of adult cigarette smokers in the world, but the lowest incidence of lung cancer. In direct contrast to this, America, Australia, Russia, and some South Pacific island groups have the lowest numbers of adult cigarette smokers in the world, but the highest incidence of lung cancer.
What is wrong with this picture?
We worry about sixteeen-year olds contracting cancer, while bullets fly all around, kids and innocent citizens are shot in the streets and on public transit by gangsters and gangbangers and authorities abdicate their real responsibilites.
"It was the cigarette smokers that dunnit to us."
Thursday, February 26, 2009
On the night Bearice Viterbo died they were advertising one or another kind of cigarette..
Ah, Beatrice Viterbo, long-lost lover of, the reader supposed, J. L. Borges, the Dante of modern Spanish literature.
"I could consecrate myself to her memory, without hope but also without humiliation..."
Well, on the night his marriage died, your present narrator really needed a cigarette, but he had none, not even the pack of oval Delicados which he had so long saved for just such an emergency. But he had long ago smoked the pack, and had drunk even the hidden whiskey of his lover at the time.
Resolves not kept.
Adulterer. Man of letters. From the annals of ancient Demetrius, a scribe, "Ha. You say you are a man of lettters, yet you have contributed to the enemies of your civilization, adultery and promiscuity. Contract and transgression. It will all fall apart. As you are falling apart."
And after the first realization of real loss, our adulterer moved into the midst of Borges' literature, concecrating himself "to her memory", wthout hope, but certainly with sure humiliations to come.
For if the truth is always revealed in humour, dying for love would be beautful, but stupid.
But also,it seemed, was loving the one you were actually with. And somehow persiting in the adultery.
Our adulterer decided this tryst was inauthentic. It was living a lie.
Jame Joyce, Dubliners: "You made me give up my wife, my children. You even made me give up my God."
A song plays on the radio. It is about an adulteress, not and adulterer, but our adulter gets the point.
Now that she's back in the atmosphere
With drops of jupiter in her hair, hey hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's time to change, hey hey
Drops of Jupiter. The adulterer watches a lot of television, Oprah, American Idol. He hears "Drops of Jupiter" on American Idol. He surely knew its meaning, though it seemed that Simon Cowell didn't get the immediate reference.
Jesus, Simon. Dense for once.
Its poetic-- Came back like a whore.
Our narrator himself had come back like a whore.
Shortly afterward, he decided to abandon his lover, and he did. "You are a loser, loser!"
He started to morbidly look into the occult, the Ouija board, the I-Ching, studied Dante,the Master himself having loves at times profane.
Our narrator looked into the the maze of a modern day Dante, the Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges. Borges himelf, in his fiction tried to find his answer from his own subconscious, an all-knowing Aleph, the all- wise thing in the cave, but this time in the basement of his own lover, who was dead.
Writes Borges about the Aleph he saw in his Beatrice's basement:
The Aleph was a point in the universe whose centre was everywhere and nowhere. He peers inside the basement to see what what imjust surely be the Aleph now all around him and yet seemingly nowhere around him:
…I clearly saw the universe from every point… I saw a broken labyrinth (it was London), I saw a silvery spiderweb in the center of a black pyramid…I saw in Inverness a woman whom I will not forget, I saw her long, violent locks, her haughty body, I saw a cancer in her breast, I saw a circle of dry dirt in a sidewalk where there had once been a tree… I saw a copy of the first English version of Pliny… I saw at the same time every letter of every page (as a child I used to be amazed at how the letters of a closed book didn't get mixed up and lost in the course of the night)… in a desk drawer (and the handwriting made me tremble) incredible, precise, obscene letters which Beatriz had sent to Carlos Argentino, I saw a beloved tombstone in Chacarita, I saw the atrocious remains of what delightfully had been Beatriz Viterbo, I saw the circulation of my dark blood, I saw the mechanics of love and the modification of death… I saw in the Aleph the world, and in the world once again the Aleph and in the Aleph the world, I saw my face and my guts, I saw your face, and I felt dizzy and I cried…
Our narrator cried too, but with the song he was hearing on the radio. Borges was not revelatory enough and had said so.
For Borges surprises us with the intimation that his Aleph could well have been a false Aleph, but there was nothing false in the song our narrator had been hearing on the radio.
But tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is over rated
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And then you miss me while you were lookin' for yourself out there
From the Aleph to a Train song. A sudden revelation of an Einstinian universe, the train coming well before the sound of it. Doppler.
A passing playwright had seen right through our narrator.
"Between the subjunctive and the indicative," said the playwright, "That's where you are." Lost in space.
Well, what of it for our narraator now, thirty years later?
He turn over a leaf. And then he turns it over again. It becomes stressed, worn. Becomes a crumpled flower.
And the answer is not in Borges, but,in the song our narrator is now hearing. Drops of Jupier.
There is a segue on the radio. He is now hearing another song, an old one from ancient Appalachia.
And I just spend my time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge.
And drop them into the muddy watters offa Tallahatchee Bridge.
Is it art that exacts a terrible price or is it it sin?
Monday, February 23, 2009
For years he had navigated the mazes of Borges' labyrinthine stories, looking for the meaning of the dream state.
In the dream, he had closed his eyes to imagine a white screen on what appeared to be proto-writing--as you might find in a scattering of old twigs upon the ground, or chicken tracks in an old yard. There would be Y's and A's and even X's. Is this how writing came about? Is this how his consciousness came about? First in the back of your brain, then objectified in natural detrius, and rendered, organized eventually onto stone wall, tile, paper.
Edgar Allan Poe, happy to accommodate any reader as to how he composed The Raven, goes into this process at great length and startling lucidity, Thought- to -object, object to thought. Symbol.
I contain within me the auras of at least nine lovers.
An aura came to me just last night, the first of a series of prototype symbols, the chicken scratch, the twigs, the drawings on a cave wall.
And then letters which spelled the name Patricia and I had the daylights scared out of me.
A final spiritualf goodbye?
Quoth the Raven.............
And you shiver when the wind blows cold.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
There is a line out of the old movie, The Owl and the Pussycat,where the "pussycat" says to the failed writer, "You're meeting your turtles.", presumably that the Hare is stalled and the turtles are so fast they are getting into accidents, everything to them, at least, seeming to happen so suddenly.
They had outrun the hare.
Well, of late, I'm meeting my turtles.
Every amateur hack and blog artist is getting something into print, while I seem to rest on my laurels as a Google-llisted novelist....published recently by Google, and how can you brag about that? Everybody is published by Google. Go look.
So it was with a touch of envy that I noticed that Chucker Canuck had his Montreal blog highlighted in the New York Times. yestereday. He'd written something brilliant about our somewhat oily Official Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff, saying the "Iggy" was an akle kisser of President Obama during their recent meeting, a kind of lap dog.
There was Chucker Canuck in the New York Times, and over here, I can barely make The East Jesus Armpit.
Ah, but wait. Wait.
Under Chucker Canuck's blog there is a comment by me on that blog. Hell, two comments, one saying that Mr. Ignatieff looks like a Wall Streeet banker, and it's a wonder that Mr. Obama didn't wince. A little crude, cowardly, I suppose, but effective. I had no idea that in the reflected light of Chucker Canuck's succes I would be there in the New York Times too, at least in Chucker's comment space which was included in the Times' link.
Chucker makes the New York times, and we ankle kissers along with him.
Sweet Jesus. I just had a piece rejected by The Newmarket ERA.
This can not stand. Do they not realize that I am god? Are they blind, lazy or just stupid?
Well, no god. Just a devil in Chucker's blog.
I'll take it. I'll take it!
Monday, February 16, 2009
There was a time when I couldn't even spell paparazzo, till I became one.
Latin was a bitch until I learned enough to descipher some ancient graffiti on a Pompeii washroom and found things to be the same as in the Fifties washrooms of my Hamilton Ontario town. I swear that in my National Geographic examination of Pompeii, someone had scrawled, in a graffito, "Tibulsus eats it." Had things changed in 1900 years? And graffiti to honour gladiators much the same way we would tout the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Yeah," the Montreal Alouettes eat it!"
But I digress.
It was fun being a paparazzo, though I was a real klutz when it came to operating a camera.
Chased Sylvia Tyson of Ian and Sylvia fame, ran her down, was struck by her personal beauty and somehow couldn't get past my F-stop.
I finally had to get to her publicist to get a photo of her that night in the club....And in any event, she was friendly and was glad of the publicity.
So many stars actually welcomed paparazzi in the Seventies.
I had one of the cast of Gidget almost bedded down until I realized that I was then a married man.
O baby, it you'd only come around now.
But I am no longer an entertainment editor, not even a working writer... From Ivan the Great (at least, in my own head) to just plain Ivan. Blogger. Flogger. Holding my own.
I suppose one could still seduce a woman with his writing. But of late, all I've picked up is a corpulent Ukrainian dude dressed in black tights
who said I had seduced him with my book. Jeez, not only do I get dick for my writing these days, I almost got dick!
Oh old Odysseus with his paper army.
Oh how I'd like to outfit that old boat again and go off hunting
Lorelis under sparkling glass.... And in the Seventies, there were the lotus eaters, or, say it on--stoners-- who'd stick a chellum in my mouth and fire it up for me with a Bic butane that was more like a blowtorch.
Did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree.
My editor warned me not to try LSD, since I was a crazy bastard already. "You'll never come back."
Ah, back in the Sixties on Yorkville, Canada's Haight-Ahbury, people stumbling up and down the streets, yelling "I'm all fucked up, I'm all fucked up."
I tried snorting what he had been snorting, and for a long time, I too was "all fucked up."
Being married provided some stablility, or I'd have gone the way of itinerant hippies. I'd seen some of those in Mexico, "all f*cked up". The Mexicans called them Verduras, or vegetables. Some sought sorcerers to apptentice themselves to, looking for some Yaqui dude name Don Juan. I think I saw Carlos Castaneda.
How did people ever survived the Sixties and early Seventies? Stoned out on heroin on a Sunday morning with the kids underfoot. Well Jesus, I for one had to get a life.
So I got a wife. Stabilizing influence during that crazy time.
And getting a straight job, even though it was paparazzo.
Ah, the excesses of those days, the incredible energy, the shoe leather it took.
Flock! Give me back my craziness. Give me back my youth, even though misspent.
And gimme back my groupies.
Friday, February 13, 2009
I had intended to do a blog on the transition from the time one was not yet a writer-- and thinking vertically-- to the point where one is a journeyman writer who thinks horizontally. I was intrigued by the Walking Man, who, in his blog, seems to have made this transition. But there is a dangerous line between getting the "snap" of writing and plain minimalism. If you jump right into bare-bones minimalism too fast, something may have been lost. The trick, it seems is to cut out excess verbiage and get to the heart of the matter. But then reducing all your background semantic noise and rhetorical skills to plain bare bones minimalism, a kind of haiku, may be a false start.
But the fact is, Mark seems to have really progressed from thinking vertically ("Well, that's the way it really happened") to horizontally."It happened."
So I dasn't scotch his progress.
I had planned to comment on Mark's latest bare-bones approach to writing, but this takes some thought, and since I am severely hung over this morning, I am whimsical,a little silly and far from analytical as far as anybody'd writing is concerned.
So we'll just get silly and put up a picture of toothsome Victoria Beckam doctored by the lovely Pamela from Australia, who assures me Victoria has the hots for me. :)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
There is a story by Howard J. Ruff, the wildly successful author of How to Profit During the Coming Bad Times, where the great Main Street financial guru actually went broke to the point of using up everything in the fridge as his stocks tumbled and tumbled.
This will not do, said Ruff. You need stress reducing food, like roast beef, preserves, pickles.
So he sat down at his desk and invented Ruff Times, the most successful financial newsletter ever, along with two best sellers to follow in coming decades. He got into a pickle and ended up buying lots of pickles, millions of them.
Ruff times here too. And Ruff was dead right, even though thirty years earlier. Gotta tightent the old belt, buy anti-stress foods, sardines, pickles.
You can still buy pickles at the dollar store, but I'm really tired of smoking my own butts, drinking Listerine (don't worry about the skull and crossbones) and generally known around writing circles as a mooch.
My former wife, who had for years subsidized the aforesaid mooch while he worked on the great Canadian novel, soon told me that she was harboring a grudge, and that grudge was me. "Paint some furniture, Grudge, make yourself useful."
I am probably the most widely published author in Canada (counting internet). And also the poorest.
I know where it all comes from, a life that would make the philandering St. Augustine blush and a thirst that's crying out to God.
"No water-drinker ever wrote anything decent," says old Ovid. I make sure that I write good.
Art. All for art. You're a hell of a guy, Art. First you help me set the Toronto Star on fire and then as a reward you throw me in with a bunch of dumpster diving bums who are so stupid and bored that they make sexual advances toward old Ivan. Boy, they must be really bored. And if I'm not careful, so will I be.
Charles Bukowski, bum poet, with his cry of "Liquor!" and not "arsepeck" as some old vicar was yelling out in a now-dead television series.
Liquor, gotta get. And hookers. Must get hookers, now that it looks like I'll be able to get them through OHIP. I mean, I've been crazy for some time. It's a disability. Disabled Danes are trying for government-subsidized hookers. Why shouldn't I?
Poverty can make you crazy. It's making my friends crazy.
"How much is the touch for this time, Bunky?"
I have been rich. Richer, probably, than you'll ever be. A cool million.
But then I said to myself, "doesn't everybody?" and took off with a hooker that sent me half way to the moon. I narrowly avoided the AIDS. Who wants to spend a million just to get AIDS?
The feminists are right. Men think with their lower heads.
Yet there is this Hemingway quest for truth, "The upper head is hungry for truth, while the lower head will seek out any conquest possible. It would be noblest for a man to cut off his lower head and put a gun to his upper head."
Yeah, noble as hell.
A story is told about a brilliant American writer, Pietro di Donato who went to Hemingway with his book, Christ in Concrete.
"What do you know, you Wop? Immigrant writers never make it. They only record their crudities and show their awkwardness."
Ouch. Pietro di Donato wrote even better than Rosie di Manno.
But poverty, what can be said about poverty?
I went to James Polk when he was editor of ANANSI in Toronto. "Lend me twenty, Jim."
He answered, more or less, "Don't Jim me. We are not such good friends."
Ouch again. Much later, he was more generous and expansive. "Look at your you have an exciting life, you are involved in a ménage a troix, you drink to your heart's content and you've actually published a book. My life is full of dross and it is boring."
Oh well, now is the time to pay for all those superiorities.
Small wonder that I only got a 49 in Economics at Ryerson.
Upper head in the stars, lower head caught in a sling.
And I'm not that good at plucking stars.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
It is strange that the most complex writing problems can often be solved by humour.
My uncle by marriage, David Allenby Smith, a Canadin film director for Audubon, had asked me long ago to go a little arty and produce a drama, a script about four fishermen camped out In a plastic teepee in Northern Ontario. Characters. Have them interrelate.
Well, I began to write the script.
Happy is one fishing addict, casting his flies this way and that, way early in the morning while the lake still steamed, beavers swimming along the banks,causing lovely, ripply Vees on the glassy surface behind a backdrop of pines in the Canadian Shield.
But back home, his neighbour is in bed with his wife.
Hearing the plot, I felt a shiver and I was immediately gripped by an Appalachian song.
In the pines
In the pines
Where he sun never shines
Makes you shiver when he wind blows cold.
Little girl, little girl
What have I done
to make you treat me so.
Well, that might do for Music in BG, But I had to write the script, and I had no idea how to do this, not being a media writer. I had planned to produce a serius song of love and loss. Break your heart.
I laboured mightily. And all I could come up with was film techique learned at Ryerson U.... The shooting script, All film directions and all camera instruction... But no good dialogue, no good character development. I had to come to my uncle emptyhanded.
Years later, I finally got the snap, but it was too late.
But what an object lesson when it came to humour laughing its way out of your problems.
French Canadian tells me two jokes about Elliott Lake:
1) "My brudder went to go for driving test. Used my other brudder's car. Other brudder was asleep in the back, bored with it all.
"The driving inspector orders my first brudder to make a left turn, then asks my first brudder what he would do if if this big truck was barreling down the road as he was making his turn, threatenting to T-bone him.
"Said my brudder to de inspector: 'I would wake up my brudder in the back seat. He never seen de big accident before."
2) The fisherman had been like a bull in a china shop for days. He simply had to go fishing or he would go mad.
Tells his wife, "I've loaded on the camper and I'm going fishing."
Wife, seemingly resigned, says OK.
But as the fishreman is about to get into the truck, it rains cats and dogs. He sits in the cab for a while, watching the windshield wipers slap, but it rains and rains. Finally he decides he has to go back into the house, and maybe even get more shut-eye.
It was five'oclock in the morning. He was tired. Maybe he could still get some sleep. He goes through the front door, though the hall and into the bedroom, where there is the familiar snuggly form lying there.
"Hello", he whispers.
"Hello," he hears her answer."You know something?
"That fucking asshole husband of mine is out there fishing in the stupid rain."
Well now. Don't we have a plot.
And doesn't that clear the old mental block.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Worms rise up out of the ground and confront me with their accusasations.
What amy I trying to do? What am I trying to find?
A sad fact of history for the man of ideas is that in the past, somebody had already done what you are trying to do, but better.
Search- mode for the font of poetry. Found a man named Hryhori Chubai.
He too was searching, searchng for an accomplice.
Let's see. Go along with him for a while.
--And when he looked
He saw no one there
On the path
Past the tree
Past the dog
Past the ornamental horses of green clay.
And then someone behind him said someone is coming
A thousand lonesome women are approaching
Bearing the faces of those he'd seen on the road to here.
Past the dog
Past the bird
Down this way
Past the horses of green clay.
And he heard the voices of those thousand women approaching
And behind them
A great poppy seed that shook the earth with its rumbling
Rumbling down the path of the horses of green clay. the path now before him.
And he turned around
As if to ask someone behind him
But he smelled smoke, perhaps a fire.
There was a fire behind him now.
And someone invisible answered, "Christ is coming".
And all the figures of the landscape of the future turned
To see behind them too,
--Where the monster
Had stopped rolling.
And again, someone invisible said
Christ is coming.
All could see behind themselves a fire.
What's up here? Lent? The coming of Easter?
Should I ape old T.S. and try for an Ash Wednesday, apparently the inspiration for Mr. Chubai's poem?
Something is chasing me on this full moon.
And it's not fooling.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Stay away from me
Just let me be
I don't need no Punxsutawney Phil
All I got is a ten dollar bill.
Just stop hangin' round my door.
Don't want to see your shadow no more
Stay away from me.
You're a Canuck
Yeah, Woodrow Charles
You old Wood Chuck
Got your hippie glasses on
You've got a real gone scon
Stay away from me.
Take a vee
Six more weeks of winter.
Oh, after supper, motherChucker!
Ninety days so far of wind and snow.
Klondike Days over here
Fighting over the shoeleather.
My pal gets the upper and I always end up with the sole.
And the &*%ing bear comes over to eat us all.
Give this country back to the Indians.
Nine months of winter and three of bad skating weather.
No more mouse in the apartment.
I think I ate it.
The little ofd lady next door has committed suicide by impaling herself with a dried mushroon. All she had to eat anyway.
The other lady, herself February blue, said she wants to commit homicide.
I am hoping i am not the homin she wants to cide.
People go nuts in February.
In Finland, where it is still dark, Olaf would not dream of drinking akvavit and driving his Volvo.
So he drives an icepick into his neighbour.
Had a yen for Sven.
Here I sit.
All bunged up.
Can't even s..it.
Oh so blue
Blame it all on you.
The grounhog saw his shadow today
I'm going courtin' Tina Fey.
Remind me of Palin.
Got no itch
For the northern bitch.
Out, out the cat and that goddam Spot
Where its hot, hot, hot.