Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Frustrated of late by low reader response, I uncharactersiticaly got a bit into to occult, by first tossing the I-Ching and then fooling with astrology.
Well, the I-Ching was a bit dour.
"You have dipped your tail into the water. Nothing will further."
The astrological message made me laugh out loud:
"Uranus is currently in retrograde and is in tough aspect to Pluto."
Seems my anus has definitely been in retrograde of late.
Hardly anybody has been coming around.
Which is odd, because I've had good luck in getting stuff published in the local papers hereabouts.
It's lonely at the top? Well, no. That's not quite it.
I will probably never reach the top, not even near to where I once had been...but it was fun having one's own newspaper column for a while.
And lately, portents are not good.
I worry about that astrological bit:
Uranus is currently in retrograde and is in tough aspect to Pluto.
Maybe that's the trouble.
My anus is definitely in retrograde these days , and when it comes to Pluto, the relative lack of response to my blog of late--is probably that I have been poking that puppy.
My Anglo friend, working in construction with some Italians, has come to me for translation. "Ivan, what do they mean when they say "fuck dog"?
..."Give you and object lesson: I've been dogging it in my blog for a couple of weeks, and by slow reader response--I guess it's starting to show.
Would you take a used dog from this man?
Well, at least, a new blog?
But I fear my anus is in retrograde!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I can't seem to write anything with any force unless, figuratively, my balls are in stock...Seems the way the subconcious works: While you're in pain, the solution to complex problems can be supplied just like that. But Lord, take away the pain!
Right now the pain is coming from my accountant--precisely at the time Lou Grant is coming around.
Lou Grant. Not the hardboiled editor from old Mary Tyler Moore, no, a real one, actually a spit image of that TV character, but live, in the flesh, an old editor and publisher who once put out my Black Icon novel in serial form, though towards the end of that serialization, said, "I pay you $176 a week for this crap? I'm gonna kill it."
"But Lou, there are three more chapters to go. Will you at least let me condense those three chapters and call it a day?"
Hi grinds his teeth. "Okay. One more installment. But you only get a hundred and seventy-six."
I have always marvelled at my own Lou Grant's mixture of creative and business ability. Seemed to have both. Probably why for years he had been the assistant managing editor of the Toronto Star.
There had alaways had been sort of a natural affinity between us, though I myself never was much of a business man.
I guess it showed. I don't know how many times Lou Grant fired,yes, fired me for bad editorial decisions when it came to interviewing local moguls. Ya gotta watch what you say when printing stories on the rich and powerful.
This is where Lou Grant shone. He could charm Gabriel out of his horn. Like an early bishop of the Catholic Church, he could snag money out of a business man. Like an antique bishop could garner gold earrings from a dowager to build a new church in Ireland or somewhere.
Lou Grant was always lucky. He was always in some major enterprise.
And whenever I was un-fired and in his good graces, he would take me along for the ride, usully in the nick of time. Somewhow, the two personalities would always click.
Except the last time.
I had written, for The Toronto Star a goofy piece about a live goose on the track who had fallen in love with a Southbound GO commuter train. Everytime she heard that low whistle, she would go all feathers, and run out to meet the train. The story had garnered some interest with the locals of Newmarket ON.
One day the goose got up on the track to meet her locomotive lover and, SPLAT!
"Lou, I've got a new turn on the Sarah the Goose story and her locomotive lover.
Sarah has died on the track.
Lou had been in a bad mood that day.
"We don't cover suicides at the Star. Didn't you know that?...Too many copy- cat imitations afterwards."
"But Sarah was a goose. We can afford to lose a few."
Nah. The editors were upset ubout your last goose story. Too many innacuracies...Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. That goose wasn't in love with the GO train. It was just a goose that liked to honk at one train every evening."
Lou then went into his Donal Trump routine: "You're fired."
Recetly Lou Grant resurfaced as head a large Florida newspaper chain.
I just got a note from him.
In the nickof time. I am flat busted.
I think it's time for me to start interviewing love-struck geese.
One day at The Star, I overheard Lou Grant sort of taking my name in vain.
"Ivan? He's sort of a crazy bastard, but he sure comes up with some ideas.
"But half the time he cooks his own goose!"
Have goose in bag. Will travel.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
...A professional setback.
This is a new development? Hah.
I think of warmer places, warmer times.
Oh wonderful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
I had just finished my premier novel, The Black Icon, and began to write about that experience in my second novel, The Hat People.
Most books on writing say it should never about any kind of artist, but what the hell. It was about the exhiliaration of getting a novella done by 29, and hey, getting my wife pregnant. Two buns in the oven? I wrote the following in the third person. The book is not entirely without a kind of paranoia that some artists might feel.
Driving back north from Mexico City, through the Sierra Madre mountains the movie setting of that great Humphrey Bogart film about the down-and-out Yankee and the treasure sought there. Road incredibly flat stabbing ever forward into the haze now that the roadrunner and Coyote Mountains seemed a little behind. Countryside levelling off now, becoming dreamlike and in April bloom. Prickly pear, chaparral, Yucca, strung out like columns of hatted figures with arms outstretched, already priming of some nightmare dream of John Lazarowych's future. But this had been a great year for John Lazarowych, driving his battered '63 Dodge into the heat. Beside him, wife Laura, black-haired, freckled and soft, sexy toothsome dumpling. Pregnant, a little bring-uppy, her last bout of car sickness behind since they'd crossed the Namulique Pass, that stark mountain horror show with the narrow band of road around hellish highlands, vultures on either side of hills, clinging to shrivelled mesquite. Laura was looking better now, her round face dimpled into a mysterious smile. Pregnant. Why not? Things couldn't have worked out better. John taking nine months to complete his novel, completing at last a lifetime project and Laura's own biological clock was obviously working bang on time.
Hating being sick, Laura thought of other times, in California and France, places she'd been to and been sick at, meeting, as she termed it, "a whole series of assholes", surfers, drug runners and a Canadian boyfriend who had treated her, in the face of all the available women in both places, like a hamburger in a steakhouse. She knew that non-swinger John would never leave her and it was his baby that she wanted to have.
She thought of San Miguel Allende from where she and John had just returned. San Miguel, ageless Mexican hill town, houses of buff and yellow adobe flush, Italian and Greek style, one against the other; churches stabbing up into a dark, thick sky. The Jardine, the town square so common in Mexico rubber and trueno threes, palms fronting arched hotel fronts, and to the south of the garden the great three-spired parrochia, parish church, a cathedral really, with its icons and its magnificently gilded interior. She had loved the colonial lock of San Miguel, the scroll-doored mansions, wrought iron balconies, something straight out of technicolour dreams long ago before she had lost some of her colour sense, maybe it had been the LSD she'd done while backpacking through France and Spain, rebellious artistic type that she had been. There had been a nightmare or two where she dreamed she couldn't distinguish between two shades of gray and then she'd wake up to find John's face beside her and she was calmed.
She had come to Mexico to live with this strange Slav she had just married, this strange, intense man who fairly bristled with frailties and inconsistencies, but who, with monomaniacal fervour, wanted to do something right and consequential for once, so he had set out to write a book. And he did. And of that they were both proud. And the two of them had conceived something more important together, this new thing inside her which now so troubled her insides.
She watched John her madman and frequent social boor, his left hand on the wheel and the right one thoughtfully scratching his crotch. "Good old John Lazarowych, your friendly down home social misfit who wants to be great," she thought.
They had been able to go to San Miguel after her chain store owning father had given Laura the alternative of a big wedding or a vacation in some inexpensive country to live. She had gone to San Miguel with this penniless Slav, this young-old man with his dreams and pretensions, with the manners of a churl.
Like many another escapees from the factory, the lift trucks and the machines, he had little idea of personal grooming, bushy eyebrows growing together, the baggy polack pants, second hand shoes a size too big. She had made a swan out of him, had gotten him a couth denim outfit, taken tweezers to his eyebrows under which the hazel eyes now shone, he complaining and yelling in the process.
I wonder if the baby will look like him, she thought.
He had a good profile, now that he was no longer down-looking and not quite so nervous; straight long nose, high cheekbones, narrow bone protected eyes. His chin, which was a trifle too small, was the only part of his face that seemed out of line, but she never did like men who were Hollywood handsome. She liked his face, that simpatico face that somehow gave the impression of being startled, violated. John too, was happy, Laura had been good to him, incredibly so. Laura, this hot-cold emotional little battery of a woman who had put up with his monomania, patiently letting him work six hours a day, locked in the spare bedroom of their Americanized modern apartment in San Miguel, madly pounding out fourteen pages a day, retaining maybe three after self-editing. He'd have supper drink a half-pint of tequila afterwards, give her an "affection fix" and then go out to see a friend or two. Next morning, the same thing would happen. He had no idea how to write a novel, that bastard adultery-laden form. He did end up as a journalist, writing for money, all brains and no money. Journalism took smarts, political savvy. But a novelist, that was the crème-de-la-crème. A journalist who wrote a fine novel was a person who elevated him or herself to drama, no more the chores and ambulance chasing. Or at least that's the way Lazarowych saw it. He had to write the book. And he had done it, but at no small degree of personal suffering and doubt, in spite of the freedom from work for a year, the cosy uncomplaining love of Laura and their ridiculously high standard of living in impoverished Mexico, where Gringos invested pennies and gleaned dollars. To be a writer, he discovered, one had to be a fanatic, prone to fixation, a kind of compulsive madness. Maybe his long-dead countryman, Nikolai Gogol had it right. Maybe a book was always the diary of a madman.
He was coming back with 150 closely typed pages of manuscript, 40,000 words of what he thought would be a passable first novel. Passable, but not more. It had come from drinking fourteen cups of coffee a day, pounding that damnable typewriter for six hours a day, day in and day out. And then throwing away most of the work afterwards as simply not acceptable. He had developed intestinal disorders and finally bleeding haemorrhoids from the combination of the every present dysentery in Mexico. "At least you know you didn't marry a perfect asshole”, he joked to Laura. He had done it.
John turned up the radio. Still nothing but mariachis and the echoing chanticleer cry of Mexican advertising. He flicked the knob off and went back to his thoughts.
No, it hadn't gone badly. But now that he had finished the project, would it go the way he had hoped it would? Would this novel be the magic psychological key that would open a New World, liberate him from the incubus of wrong background, family nervous disorders, the Second World War, incest, Portnoy's Complaint and the whole sorry history of a Canadian-raised displaced person, home and hearth shot up so long ago by both Nazis and Russkies, brought to Canada with his parents to begin a new life, reading the comic books and Gogol and The Story of Philosophy to somehow salvage what was left of an I.Q. Too many comic books? (It wuz da comic books that dunnit to me).
Was he just another fast Horatio Alger, still another hungry foreigner who had come to reap the obvious wealth of Canada? Or was he more authentic? Was he just kidding himself by all this scribbling and drinking?
Comic books. Superman, (Made in Canada), Captain Marvel, (made in U.S.A). The ultimate immigrants. Scared to death of Kryptonite, Dr. Sivanna. The Joker out of Batman.
The book, his novel, thought Lazarowych, would be a personal statement, and incantation of 40,000 words, a sort of SHAZAM! Through which he, the crippled Billy Batson from Galicia in the Ukraine would invoke cosmic forces to assert himself as a human being, to join ugly ducklings, some of them profound, and put his name on the world's list of authors.
Authenticity. Had he taken too good an English course at university?
Could it be that he was cribbing Balzac by way of Gogol? He remembered hiding his Russian copy of Taras Bulba under his school desk while pondering the intricacies of Dick and Jane. And Dick and Jane were intricate.
See Spot run back to Canada along the Pan-American Highway.
He had been deluding himself? He had written a staggering 900 pages first draft within six months, working first in Toronto while Laura worked, and then in Mexico. He had been riding on a crest of optimism and confidence buoyed up through unbelievable success in a Johnny-come-lately University writer's course.
On graduation, a number of teachers had assured him that he was gifted and would someday write a fine novel, this based on their reading of the poetry and short stories he had published in the little magazines, Tamarack Review, Fiddlehead. Now Lazarowych wasn't so certain. Teachers were kindly men, and their own ambitions, their own way of justifying a job in Toronto and not at Trinity College, Cambridge.
He'd worked as a newspaper reporter after graduation, all the while making three or four false starts at a novel. Finally, after three years, he decided to start at the beginning, the standard "I was born" opener and at last he seemed to be onto making a book.
But looking over his first draft, Lazarowych had been distressed to realize that all he had done in the script was state his origins and go on to still another imitation of Portrait of the Artist, a book he had learned to love, like many another English major. He could also see in the tortured words an attempt at startlement, drama to get himself out of a prosaic style. Apocalypse began to sound every few pages, the fiery borrowed phrases of Nietzsche out of his philosophy primer, the beautiful but borrowed encounter poetry of Martin Buber, the "I" meeting the "Thou", almost a primer on the way the eastern European mind really works, cf. Stanislaw Lem. Our galaxy is in the shape of a hat.
But it was their thought and not John's own. It may be true that genius steals outright where mere talent only borrows, but John at that point wasn't even certain he was in the talent category. So much to digest, so little time.
Within 900 pages of manuscript, Lazarowych was panicked to discover that he really did not have much to say in terms of a personal philosophy or a unified theory of the world. What emerged was a mere beginning, an account of his family's survival in Europe and the combination of strength and blind luck that saved the family from a tragic Bosnia situation to find final safety in Canada.
What appeared in John's work was the story of Michael and Sophia, barely literate, ignorant bigoted characters, steps away from peasantry, his father and his mother. Yet they were the heroes of the book. "We wrote The Madonna and the Teuron for you”, they seemed to say.
An autobiographical reprieve, the luck coming from the story rather than the style. How can you possibly develop a world view, a philosophy of life and art when you were only 29? Sure there was Keats, and Shelley and Dean Swift. But they leaned heavily on Plato and Swift certainly on Juvenal. All John could do at 29 was to assert the survival instincts of his parents. They had created and maintained him. They had brought him through a war on three fronts and years of daily bombings to the luxury of an education and the vanity of writing a book.
The twentieth century seemed so full of Heisenbergs, Max Plancks, quantum technicians who were already shaping the beginnings of artificial intelligence, yet this too would someday show itself as phony, since, as Celine might say, the universe is a phoney, events having happened millions of light years ago and all we see with our telescopes is illusion. It's back to Newtonian conceptions, though Newton, a virgin, a Dr. Virago, missed a lot of the feminine equation too. A clockwork universe until the four horsemen come on the scene. Then it's Hieronymous Bosch time; the time of the "painted birds" already chronicled in a work similar to John's. And yet the author of that other book was soon found to be a CIA operative who was accused of stealing that World War Two novel from another man, a cipher, and therefore something of a phoney himself.
Whatever the tricky problem of authenticity was, John's Madonna and the Teuton was at least original. It wasn't a magnum opus, but there were compensations. Well, it's done. It's done anyway. Done at age 28, just before my 29th birthday and I'll probably have a son on top of that.
Laura was going to be sick again.
He pulled the car over to a gravelly halt in a dust cloud, along a yellowed ditch and watched the car's temperature shooting up as he opened his heavy driver's door to get out and help Laura.
He held her side while the girl gave out with a sort of dry heave, not offensive, for he loved her and she was in a way, him. Laura didn't get sick. A hot, moisture starved burst of desert air played around her face and long black hair, cooling her off a little and abating the spasms. They couldn't set off immediately, for a curious, wandering cow, something not too new in that part of Mexico, couldn't stop being curious. The little white Brahma cross soon made up her mind as to where she wanted to go. John turned on the key and they drove on.
Laura tried to think of more pleasant things, to get her mind off the weariness, the travel, the morning sickness, the car sickness. She thought of Toronto and the familiar things there after nearly nine months in Mexico. Even as early as her fourth month in Mexico, she had taken to thinking and dreaming of busy Yonge Street, or Yorkville mall with its colours and its wares. Mexico was beautiful in its own pristine way, the solid Latin culture, the incredible Samba beat to the music, like a drink of hot whiskey first thing in the morning or a Budweiser beer buzz without the rock and roll. Touches of Flamenco instead, wafting around the beautiful colonial hill towns, paved with stone. But there was much to be said about the First World too. Bathtubs, cleanliness, the sheer abundance of consumer goods, the abundance probably standing in the way of Canada ever developing a real culture, most Ontarians wishing no doubt that they could be from upstate New York or Baltimore Maryland, so heavy was the American pull. Yet there was a straightness about living in Mexico for too long. So little of that fabricky stuff, nylon, poplin, linen, Dacron, polyester. And easily managed coins that could fit into a stylish purse. The Mexican peso was three times the bulk of a Canadian quarter, and for all its size was only worth eight cents. And Mexican Dysentery was three times as bad as a case of the runs in some northern Ontario privy.
Not having to wash every item of your dinner in purified water. That would be a relief. Laura had found art in the blue hills of San Miguel, and Guanajuato. She had painted and it all came out blue, just the way she had imagined those hills and that colour in a girl's dream of the future. An artist, Laura loved beautiful things whether in clothing, architecture or art. She had also, a bourgeois lass, sat on cold steps in Yorkville in the middle of the night to suffer, be an artist. What a dumb kid I had been!
Toronto, with its well-treed streets, often backing onto park-like ravines, the Victorian and neo-Gothic houses not at all jarred into modernism by the new City Hall, a light-toned Boticelli shell of a building. Yet Toronto seemed a little sooty, old. Younger, centuries younger than San Miguel, it had yet to hold a candle to some flower-bedecked, fountain filled city like Guadalajara. You needed a Copenhagen for that. The great Finnish architect Urjo Revell was leading the way in that direction for Toronto.
She looked again at John who for once in his gesticulating, exuberant life was not saying anything. A look of something like fright had crossed his Alexander Putin face. Since he'd finished the book he seemed to be in a state of shock, vulnerable. Silently, Laura said to him: Don't worry my darling. Don't worry about anything. Some day we'll both have what we want, if not through your efforts, then through help from my side. Some day I'll have my beautiful things and you'll have your beautiful words.
Hours becoming days. John and Laura moving ever north, past the customs hassle of Laredo, past San Antonio, Tulsa. Freeways and turnpikes, at night luxuriating in American motels with television, bathtubs, cleanliness after the damp, dingy roadhouses and motels of Mexico. Watching cartoons on television, the Incredible Hulk, the Herculoids, Popeye and a strange cartoon show where every character was a hat, Lidsville. There was something about hats that had scared John for many a year. It made him think somehow of oppressed blacks and the pointed hoods of the Ku Klux Klan. He had, since coming to Canada with his parents felt black, an outsider, a freak. One day the Hat people would get him. Lynch him...
Monday, November 21, 2011
Tastes and sounds in the morning.
Fresh salmon fillets sizzling in a pan.
I had, uncharacteristically, had fish for breakfast. It was damn good salmon. It brought memories of Manzanilla, Mexico. Cheap hotels, lots of fish from the nearby dock.
Eating fish, which, of course is great for the libido...And you're in an illicit love affair. It is wrong. You know that it's wrong. You are somewhere between heaven and hell, on the edge of thinness and self-deception. You are a married man, but as the product of your generation, a somewhat naif man. If it feels good, do it.
She was lying face downwards on her terrycloth towel, a breeze toying with her fine blonde hair. I reached out to stroke that hair, so spanking clean, and the woman turned to face me with her full pale blue eyes, wide apart and a little crazy, the high California cheekbones and a mouth as wide and pretty as an idyll's.
We were lying in the grass before a Mexican spa, one of a dozen in the central plateau, the hot springs of Los Antes, lush and tropical in a benign late February sun. Before us steamed a pool, hot as a bathtub, fat old tourists squatting therein like latter day versions of souls being cleansed in Dante's purgatory.
What a far cry this was from frosty Canada, from the sense of hopelessness and death that comes every February, when nothing seems to break the gloom, the threatening darkness, the pallor of one's skin. Canadians are more like Finns or Norwegians, not at all in temperament like the "slow Americans" that someone had labeled them.
Like the Finn, the Canadian drinks to excess in the course of a long and oppressive winter; he entertains gloomy and destructive thoughts on the worst of the snowy or slushy days, building up slow, smoldering resentment against one's wife, one's children, one's dog.
I hope I didn't come to Mexico just to escape winters, I was thinking, my plans, my equations, my diagrams now not meaning very much at all. I was conscious again that I was in possession of a body, mine and that in the end, back there, no gain, no gain at all was worth the loss of one's health.
But how little it had taken to turn it all around. The sun. O that sun! No wonder the Aztecs had worshipped it.
And now I was a sun worshipper, at least, second hand for it was Valerie who seemed to almost thrive in water or near it, and I was in the presence of a Loreli, a Russalka--and, dumb cossack, too enamored to know I would soon be moored on a rock.
The truth, they say is often couched in humour and irony.
Joke out of Newfoundland:
A monk is frying fish.
"Are you the fish friar?
"No, I'm a chipmunk."
Ah, the stupid people that come into ones life. Heh, now that you've become a monk. And some of these folk are gorgeous, and make a fool of you.
I have been over the years been amused by old writer Norman Podhoretz:
"The higher your I.Q. the easier it is for people to 'take' you."
I was 38, not really into maturity, still a boy-man....And I don't know about the IQ.
And now the fish-friar.
Is it too late for reconstrucion?
Saturday, November 05, 2011
I am not too impressed with myself this morning.
To do a riff on an old Bobbie Gentry song, "You been drinking all morning
And you haven't touched a single bite."
It's deadline time again. This is the time when you've marshalled your words like an army and sent it out into the peaks and canyons of New York.
But where she goes, nobody knows.
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.
Or maybe mad Kierkegaard. Either/Or.
God, I loved that dippy Dane. Consider him a great Dane. How anbout a line like "You are making mountains out of molehills...You are in love. You are supposed to make mountains out of molehills."
I am making mountains out of molehills because I have been in love with writing since childhood, going through the different cultures, avoiding the brickbats of my insane mother and a twisted sister.
From the earliest, I thought I had hidden talent and wanted to write.
And the dream came true way too early, in college, where it seemed to me they would print a football schedule if any student showed any ambition toward writing at all.
Then came the real world of the Toronto Star and Star Weekly, where at different times I felt as if I were caught in a sausage machine--say it on!--meat grinder, where your mind would have all the charm and ambiance of a public whore house. But like a good whore, you had to produce. Publish or perish.
But so heavily edited was The Star that only one tenth of what you wrote was printed. Durn frustrating to have eight hundred words of possibly your best essay or vignette discarded into File Thirteen.
Haha. The middle-aged chortle. And then the occupational hazard of alcohol.
....Well, I still drink. But I don't write so much.
Except today, when I harbour the illusion that brain cells can so come back, even when the writer is stewed.
But you've at least got to crunch on a sprig of celery, fer the vitamins--otherwise you might become Howard Healthcare at the local free hospital....Been there once or twice. Migod, no booze, no cigarettes. Object lesson: Do not go quietly into that darkened ambulance... At least, eat your vegetables when you drink-- for the vitamins. You might otherwise die.
So like the town fool, you drink, hunt for cold cuts, sausage to satisfy at least your ethnic quotient. So you start by boiling cabbage or celery.
What the hell. It's almost a dailiy reality, this ritual...Boil the cabbage, drink, and crack yourself up.
Bebido, ergo sum.
I drink, therefore I am.
....Well, enough of this stream-of-consciousness. I'm thinking of James Joyce's chracter, young Stephen Dedalus, who wasn't as good as either himself or Joyce, it sometimes occurs to me.
Still, I am intrigued by Joyce the man.
He had a weakness for women, some women.
The story is apochryphal, but I have heard it said, that one day a mysterious woman reached behind her seat in a theatre-- and into the pants of the creator of Stephen Dedalus.
The story goes that he followed that woman around for twenty years, like a half-fucked fox in a vast forest fire.
I have been following literature heh, and one certain woman for twenty years. And still she eludes me, while herself sometimes--I swear--laughing.
Laughing Lorelis seem to come. And they're all laughing at me.
This is the oddest, most self-defeating way of being in love. I am in Joyce country. I am in Soren Kiergegaard country.
And somehow, I feel I must raise a mug to old Kierkegaard.
"You are in love. You are supposed to make mountains out of molehills. "
Kierkegaard said most pepple can see the monster on your back.
I swear people can actally see the some godawful thing riding piggy-back over my neck. :)
Friday, November 04, 2011
Seems the older I get the more I am like today's physicists. They seem bamboozled by the "orneriness" of quanta and the unexpected ghost of a dark matter that seems to stand Einstinian physics on its head, certainly in a possible acceleration of the speed of light to beyond Einsteins absolute speed limit of 186,000 miles per second.
And synchronicity. Much synchronicity.
I am here and I am there at the same time. Might even stand old Buddha on his bald head. Seems it's no longer true that where you go, there you are. You or your hologram may end up in a thousand places at the same time.
I am half convinced what will one day emerge on the cosmos is an overlay of the back of the human brain,along with the picture of a hand. It would certainly give the evolutionists a boost. It would certainly give biology a boost, for that sad science hasn't much developed since DNA was discovered.
The back of your brain and a hand.
Creationists might be heartened. We are, after all, different from the apes.
The back of the brain and a hand with the wandering thumb.
Heh. Physicist, conjure me a beautiful woman.
Seems that after my last breakup, I have just been too handy. :)
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Slowly, the multitude gathered.
...Well, not quite a mutitude, say a baker's dozen, as it was a cold and rainy day in Newmarkt on Oct. 17, 2011 where Regional Councillor John Taylor and I spoke on poverty issues not only in our York Region, but the world, as this was a U.N. sanctioned event. It was organized by local PACC chairman Tom Pearson.
Since it was a small crowd--augmented in fact on that day by a brace of wild Canada Geese( the geese for me were a lucky symbol, certainly a cue to what I was going to say next, for I had no real idea of what to say at this anti-poverty gathering). The honking geese brought back the days when I was laid off at Seneca Colllege, myself an untenured professor, and in my frustration and idleness, would very nearly lecture to my webfooted friends as I illegally fed them out of my tote bag.
So I talked of my poverty experience.
John Taylor spoke of the need to sometimes be our brother's keeper. He spoke very well, no surprise, as he has a PhD in education.
(Myself, I got into education with a slim Master's degree in something like basketweaving, for there was no way to handle the math in some really serious field). But I got the paperwork, though certainly short of a doctorate. I was however, allowed to teach english.
I guess I could say, in a way that John Tayor and I were a pair-o-Docs, though his doctorate was for real.
Anyway we spoke of the plight of the poor here in whitebread York Region. Hardly anybody notices them as today nobody walks around ragged. But hunger is certainly an issue judging from the empting cupboards of the local food bank and the high turnout at the local Inn From the Cold, the free dinners and the church basements.
So we addressed the poor, the real Doc and I the buckshee one.
John Tayors' job, of course, is one that Americans would call a Third ward bigwig.
Myself, I'm balding, unemployed and am certainly considering a hairpiece.
But it was so nice to have a gig of some sort.
Sometimes all we need is a pat on the back for our efforts.
I guess the audience liked my wild goose story.
There was applause.
The geese honked.
In my solipsism, I thought they were honking for me. They had enjoyed my past "lectures" to them out there at Fairy Lake?
Friday, October 21, 2011
(Photo by MaryRose Gurica)
The cupboard is getting overdrawn at the local food bank.
Not a single can of corned beef, even Klik. There is a tin of canned ham, but it says Maple Leaf, and that makes you skittish to use after the last set of problems with that company. And I just read that Maple Leaf is out of business. Some Seniors have been known to drop dead over the cold cuts.
No Carnation milk for your coffee, not even powdered milk. All you can have is one per cent milk, which realistically is water with white added to it.
Someone beside me said, "You still going to the food bank? Don't go to the food bank. Nothing here. Don't got to the food bank. Dumpster dive!"
So I dragged my seventy-three-year old body to the dumpster behind the local M&M meat shop. Egad. Paydirt.
Toasted western sandwich, not yet stale dated, but thrown away.
Roast beef sandwich with cheese.
Chicken salad sandwich.
(All the items were plastic wrapped for sanitation; you'd have to be a tough germ to get in).
...And the date of expiry is on this actual day. Today! All the sandwiches were technically fresh yet. Hot dog!
Never mind the food bank.
These days, I'm sticking close to the dumpsterc
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The trouble with writing by the seat of your pants is that you are so enamored by a style that seems to come from nowhere--pretty well the result of three million words in print--that you just let the ideas flow, never mind what it is that you are actually trying to say.
So when I wrote my "The Hat People", I had no idea what I meant in half my scenes, which included burning towers, people chained to desks, forced to watch Imex images of burning towers, and not allowed to venture out or talk to anybody from the outside world.
I guess I was dimly remembering my very first class of Political Science--Plato's myth of the Cave, Where an audience inside the cave, chained and immobilized, was forced to watch what could well be a movie, images on screen.
Says old Play Dough, the politicians are divulging what is on the screen, while, as they operate the lighting they are doing something entirely different, and that is what the reality is--not the images, but what the mysterious forces are actually doing.
How did Plato, that prescient bumstabber, ever divine what was going on in society, certainly our own society where one iconic image is played and replayed on the screen before us, while the audience seems chained, unable to move, the only reality for them being the shadows of burning towers on the screen.
The burning to the ground of three towers
on that day of 911 remains seared in our minds. And the mysterious gods who rule us and direct the Imex images, have
ensured that there would be no more art, no more novels, no films that can ever trump that iconic scene. It's like launching a Picasso upon the art world. Nobody else hopes to match... Sucks the life out of other artists intuiting towards cubism or surrealism.
So today, there is only one theme, one narrative, The Tragedy of the Towers, and, oddly, the only antidote seems Two and-a-half Men which more often than not explains the malaise underlying America, which is greed, promiscuity and homosexuality. In older days these would be counted as the enemies of our civilization. (I am convinced that that the truth is alway couched in humour...and Two and- half Men is a damned funny show. It is certainly an antidote for the news, for the recurring images of burning towers).
And yet, as Neil Postman might say,
We are amusing ourselves to death.
For one day, someone will drop and I.E.D. down to our cave-theatre, with the cry, "God is Great"!
It might take another blast to wake us up.
Sunday, October 02, 2011
It is possible that I am out of journalism because of a tendency to histrionics--bruising some facts to make a point.
Oh say it on: In l968, Chief Editor Andrea Merry of the Noth York Mirror quipped: "Ivan, you never let the facts distort a good story."
So I won't use any histrionics to reprint a note to my from Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees, when he wrote to me in January 5, l998 to offer some comments about my first edition of my novel, The Fire in Bradford.
Here is what he wrote:
I have just received a copy of The Fire in Bradford and wanted to thank you for sending it to me.
I look forward to reading it & a quick glance reveals some interesting local colour.
All the best for 98.
Well, this year we are into a new edition of The Fire In Bradford, and I must say the local critics have been kind.
Writing to me informally because we are friends, John Dowson, another writer says about my reissue:
Congratulations on your novel. I Liked the original F...g book John.
(He adds that he has a hundred copies (remaindered?) of his own tome, really a monograph:
"I've sold 100 copies and they are all in my basement."
Whoops! John, you gotta hustle!
In my neck of the woods, TOPIC Magazine did a nice little review and sales of my earlier work.
All reviews have not been kind. At a now-defunct conservative blog titled ChuckerCanuck, somebody had told me in all temerity, that my book sucked canal water...Damn. That had to be somebody from nearby Holland Marsh, where I once got fired as a not terribly fast vegetable picker in that rich, irrigated farmland.
In any event, next Thursday is election day in Ontario. Mr. Klees is running again.
He is known as a person who gets it done...Obviously.
I am not a Conservative--far from it, but though I owe a huge dept to former Ontario NDP Premier Bob Rae (I had succesfully begged his party to support me,a starving writer at the time), I am sort of partial to Frank Klees.
So good luck, Frank Klees. I don't like the Federal Conservatives, but you are... kind of local. :)
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
There is a time when a blogger runs out of gas, is gasping for air. So he writes about things around the house. Things he's read. Things he'd seen on TV.
I must admit I am tired of Public Television and their money grubbing sales pitches about long-dead albums and songs, but I must say I kind of like Tavis Smiley's show. It is somehow funky and here and there, there is certainly soul, and even insight.
Take occasional guest Sonny Rollins, legendary jazz saxman.
He talks not of soul but of spirit.
All the grand dead guys around him, long vanished. He said that's spirit. They are dead but still in your memories. This somehow makes them still relevant to you, somehow still alive.
I am not yet near Sonny Rollins' eighty years, but I think I know of what he speaks.
Pockets of memories. Pockets of people, most of them dead. You can still hear them, some playing guitars, others on typewriters spilling out their insights and writing to you.
Memories of a dead town. The one-and -a-half clapboard White Rose filling station building still there, even the old pumps out front, long disused and rust- patinaed. There are aging Manitoba maples all around. They grew around the pumps at about the time you had had your heyday in literature and music. They somehow invoke memories.
Memories of old friends, the way they used to look when young, dissolving into windy marionettes. Ghosts.
Yet, says Sonny Rollins to Tavis Smiley,
"To me, they're still alive,making me so glad I had been in their company. I call it spirit. "
Spirit indeed, as I think of all the dead or dying friends in the vinyards of music and journalism.
Myself, I had the privilege of walking, playing, writing alogside with some greats. And wasn't that grand?
And I fear one day I myself will be someone's windy ghostly marionette.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to
Well, it wasn't quite like that, but separation makes you quite unable to do ordinary things, and my penny dreadnought for the local papers that I had composed
became lost in the "sent items" space in my email. In fact, I have quite forgotten what I had written, and now on this full moon, it hardly seems to matter any more. Success shy? Not willing to take another chance? Who knows. Comes to Funk and Wagnalls, lately, all seems funk.
Damn. Depression is hard on the system...And even worse when you had somehow stupidly lost all your money and there are no more palliatives to be had, drugs or pills. On must face ones awful self. Sort of sit there like Jack Horner and wait for companions, for rescue. And they do come, at the strangest times. Rainy Day People.
One dropped by last night with money and cigarettes. He asked if I was out of booze, and stupidly I said no. I still had two cans of high octane beer, which I knew from experience makes short work of depression...But I could have had more! Separation. Your timing is off. Feel kinda vulnerable. Dare not go out on a full moon...Probably why I gave up politics. Had to time my campaigns on a new moon or sabotage myself. I swear it's a Canadian thing. Choke on the podium.
There had been a time when an ambitious type could fight his way up a mountain an onto the plain, annihilating all opposition. But that was when young. I run today the risk of penning the bitter exhaustions of an old man.
But I don't really feel that old. The young hotties still pause to see if I notice. There apper to be meaningful hints. That, or it's all in my head. You are dead, Ted.
"Sweet dreams and flying machines
And pieces on the ground."
It is not hard to see that James Taylor, young or olds is a serious artist.
I wrote in to get the chord symbols and the tablature. It's all there for you, supplied by the master himself.
Well, over here, I think I've seen fire and I've seen rain.
But the sense of late of being a patched-up airplane.
Oh, if only I could see her again..
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Abundaman en todos costados ventanas viejos y abas el derribar debuhan adelante una cella o pozo.
--Jorge Luis Borges.
(It abounded on windows on all sides, with stairs leading down to a cell or pit).
It's probably my immigrant family backround, but every so often, I get the feeling that Canadian society leads you to a trap, or a series of traps.
--Or maybe I mean just Canadian women.
Whatever the case, I am today already down the stairs and in that cell or pit. I have been Eschered,all perspective gone...Like W. Somerset Maugham's take on what science and biology will eventually reveal to confound us with us: River is jungle and jungle is river.
But it's probably more commonplace.
Somebody is f*cking with my head.
There was a time when I was Harry the Rat with women, when it was me who was serving the drinks and let the wenches beware.
Now in a relationship after ten years of drought,I walk on eggshells, dare not leave a woman scorned or even alone, for I know the back-blow, bullshit and even need for therapy that can result.
And yet I know that I must walk.
I got my suitcase in my hand
Now ain't that a shame?
New Orleans is my home
That's the reason that I'm goin'
This time I'm walkin' to New Orleans.
I got no time for talkin'
I gotta keep on walkin'...
I think I'm going to have to take a walk to Hamilton. It is eighty mile away, and that should be far enough.
My family lives there, but I am informed that all problems start with the family...and end with the family--and that is somehow jarring. Euripides: All problems start with the family... And end with the family?
It seems that I am partially responsible for alienating my immediate family...I dare not do more damage. But my sisters, for whatever reason, tell me that all the women in my family are castrators. I did chose a wife not of my own tribe, she was magical, a doll, but lately, and there, I get that "One-hung low" feeling.
It is especially strong now, with me just back from the hospital with blood pressure problems, and hell, say it on: I can't seem to get my shift-lever mechanism to work.
(I had a student in my creative writing class with the same problem. Myself successful, virile and on top of the world at the time I displayed an amazing insight of worldliness, saying to the student that it will all pass. It is in the bounty of the woman).
Now I wish I could find that student. How're ya doin' now after thirty years?
Well, I did find out he was now unemployed and that hardly leads to feelings of bibilousness. Hell, even gassiness...Maybe I had become something of an old fart and that's why the disconnect between the old student and me.
I sincerely hope it's just the post-hospital
state. You feel not quite up to things after a spell with IV's, needles and sleeping pills.
Why this feeling of being Eschered, as in a push-me-pull-you lllustration.
And the dank feeling of being in a cell or pit.
Over seventy and veering between old Eros and Thanatos?
Friday, August 19, 2011
Pimping my work for the local papers, I thought I might as well write my own review of my book, hoping some editor could pick up on the info.
She did, and eventually a mini-review was put out on my The Fire in Bradford,
my local version of a Professor and the Blue Angel.
Here is what I teased the lady editor with, to give her some background on my novel.
"Newmarket's veteran writer, pamphleteer and former teacher Ivan Prokopchuk has written a novel about Bradford, but watch ou!. It's pretty Damon-Runyon. Guys and dolls--and some of the dolls have problems.
The Fire in Bradford is a novel along the lines of the antique movie The Professor and the Blue Angel. The professor meets his Marlene Dietrich, and to a straitlaced Prof recently divorced and lonely, this signals trouble right from the word go.Lana is is glamorous, has a job jumping out of cakes at conventions. He is newly divorced and looking for love and identity. It is not a cake walk.
The two personalities clash, there is fire. There is Fire in Bradford, which in the Eighties, was a pretty wild place in some sections, as the call sign then was sex, drugs and rock and roll.
It is into this world that the poor professor is thrust into.
He falls in love with the vivacious, gorgeous Lana, he the mousy Professor Rath and she the racy Blue Angel.
This was not the familiar College, Professor!
This was a world of players, pimps and police and it seems any number could play. Except him.
He was not a weekend man, but a weakened man after separation from his wife. What he wanted was love, understanding, a new start, perhaps a new identity.
He would surely not find it in The old Village Inn environs.
So he is beaten from the start, caught in a menage-a-trois between Lana, her husband-- and even Lanas other lover.
He soon discovers that five into four won't go.
After years of success and couthness at the college, he is something of a prude, and he just can't keep up with the fast style of Bradford Yuppies at the time.
He is finally dumped by Lana for an apparent drug dealer whom Lana needs to maintain her own supply.
She was not in love with the professor in spite of her love notes and entreaties to him as her possible way out. She was in love with the drug.
And so begins the professor's downfall as he descends into alcoholism and obsession over the lost Lana. "Only you," he cries into his beer at the Bonanza Tavern, while Lana marries the fourth man and herself descends into a West End drug existence in Toronto.
But there is something of the Don Quixote to the professor.
He attemps a rescue of Lana, who, of course does not want to be rescued. He botches the attempt and is ever further rebuked and rejected.
Says one reviewer about The Fire in Bradford, the fire is largely in hi pants, Lana is unnatainable and for him and his obsession, there is no exit.
He squanders all his savings, finally travels the world, trying to find in motion what he has lost--the unnaturally beautiful but wild Lana--and ends up as a Main Street alcoholic in Newmarket. No exit.
He finally sits near a dumpter at the 404 Plaza whre there is at least stale-dated food-- and writes his novel."
Heh. Romantic, no?
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Seems that the first few times you see your name in print, you are sort of excited, but after some years in the trade, it becomes more or less old hat.
Not necessarily so with reviews or news items about your work.
Especialy when no one has reviewed your work for years.
...So I sent a novel or two to my old employer of a generation ago, TOPIC Magazine.
Maybe there was a vestige of some old clout there.
Omigod, there was.
I simply must thank Tracy Kibble for doing, what I think is a bang-up short review and news story on my poor reissued novel, The Fire in Bradford...And done by a Bradford paper!
Saturday, July 09, 2011
This last chapter of my novel, The Hat People describes what happens when a weak writer aligns himself with a political family on the Left in Canada. They grow stronger, while he, now dependent, grows weaker.
Days merged into one another. Elliot Jones' checks came every Monday. John would go out for long walks, along Downsview Dells, getting what beauty he could out of the red trees; avoiding the polluted stream which tended to break the spell. Laura and John would take turns every morning, getting David up, changing his diaper, gladdened when dry and dressed, he would troop out into the kitchen babbling and cooing, every so often actually saying a word or two. The family cleaved to itself, with much hugging and touching. They loved each other more now, in a kind of autumnal love generated by defeat. They loved the child, not being able to keep their hands off David, kissing his cherubic face. In the afternoons, they would go to shop or out for a ride in the car. David took advantage of all this. He became dependent somewhat spoiled. Soon the boy had to be constantly entertained, jealous of every moment the parents had to themselves. It was impossible to be doing anything by oneself. David would rip books out of hands or turn television channels. But they loved him and showed their love. Day after day, John, Laura and David. Few friends saw them now, and in any event, John grew afraid to go anywhere alone. Outsiders, cashiers and storekeepers terrified him. Answering the telephone was a frightful ordeal. John took a part time job at the Toronto Star, writing entertainment copy. In two weeks he was fired for sloppiness and inefficiency. He drank little after this. He now no longer recovered from hangovers like he once could. He woke up in the morning feeling drawn. A large intake of alcohol would leave him sick for days. He developed mild intestinal and physical disorders. One day his right ear blew out to the size of an orange. He developed haemorrhoids. His joints began cracking the few times he did anything physically strenuous.
One night, in a depression brought about over still another attempt to drink. To get that old feeling of omnipotence back, John put on his jacket and walked out of the house. Laura and David had been especially getting on his nerves. It was a misty, humid fall night. The warm air hung about his mouth and face, around his body, giving him the impression of an insurmountable stuffiness. He strode along in the fog. Lamp posts, haloed, standing out like Byzantine saints in the darkness. Laura, Laura. We are becoming one, Laura. And you too, Elliot. You said not long ago that there is enough money in the family for everyone of us. We are a family. Elliot and David and Laura and I. John recalled something his old editor had told him while he worked at Canuck. "Like every healthy society, we tend to absorb our alienated and dissident elements. Take yourself, for instance. He walked further into the fog, out to busy Keele Street, a four-lane stretch of asphalt that seemed to separate one Mac's Milk and service station from another. A thought kept repeating itself. It was something he had told a Russian soldier who had befriended him back in the Ukraine when little John's little "Vanya's" house had been occupied for the third time. "What are you going to be when you grow up, Vanya?" "That's easy," Vanya had said. He looked up a little nervously on the newly framed picture of Joseph Stalin up on the wall, the high forage cap with red star, the moustache of an Italian pimp. "When I grow up, I'm going to be a liotchik, a pilot. Yes, I'm going to be a pilot." "And so you shall," the soldier had said, he too looking up at Stalin's portrait. "And the beaming, sunny face of Comrade Stalin shall follow you forever."
For a moment, but just for a moment, John saw the sallow, starving faces of the Ukrainian holocaust, where Stalin had sealed off the country and starved or had shot ten million Ukrainians. And Elliott Jones had been an unwitting accomplice.
He had to make a quantum leap.
Back to Title Page
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Greeted by what seems a pall over my
roman 'a clef about local politics Is it my blog's relative inacessibility to others because of my busted computer?...Or is my "true life "fiction" dull?)
Whatever the case, only the technologically adept true blue readers seen to somehow get past the near-inacessibility of my comment space. I know I should clean out my machine, but it's too close to a holiday when the beautiful young Royals are coming to visit here and I want to at least keep my blog space email capability before I apply a virus and spam "vacuum cleaner."
William and Kate are coming to our neck of the woods.
Aren't they just pretty as pips? And aren't they coming to Canada at the right time?
It seems we have all been in some kind of depression for the past eleven years.
In a word, over here,the shits have been killing us.
The funk was probably caused by the two Middleast wars.
Stupid and hopeless, with the wrong paradigm for success.
I would silently keen, There is no success here in cave man land. Get the hell out! Get out yesterday.
Get the hell out to anywhere but the Middle East.
Go to Wichita of you have to. Go to Canada.
And at about that time four years ago, out comes Jack White with his remarkable CD, Seven Nations Army. With its refrain, "I'm going to Wichita."
Well, the Royals are going to Ottawa.
Previously, I'd believed in another kind of royalty. As an old rock columnist, I believed in the baroque kindom of rock and roll. There was, oddly genius here at times. Certainly the Beatles, and arguably, The Rolling Stones. But I also had my own heroes, Jack and Meg White.
Genius is an an awareness of the spirit of the age, accompanied by a richness of human content, and Jack and Meg White certainly had it with their old band, White Stripes.
I first heard the work of Jack and Meg White ( who now seem in their own depression as the band has broken up) heard SEVEN NATIONS ARMY on radio. I pulled my car over...I just had to get that CD!
But what lyrics in the song. What biblical and even Native American references:
I'm gonna fight 'em off
A seven nation army couldn't hold me back
They're gonna rip it off
Taking their time right behind my back
And I'm talking to myself at night
Because I can't forget
Back and forth through my mind
Behind a cigarette
And the message coming from my eyes
Says leave it alone
Don't want to hear about it
Every single one's got a story to tell
Everyone knows about it
From the Queen of England to the hounds of hell
And if I catch it coming back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
And a feeling coming from my bones
Says find a home
I'm going to Wichita
Far from this opera forevermore
I'm gonna work this job
Make the sweat drip out of every pore
And I'm bleeding, and I'm bleeding, and I'm bleeding
Right before the lord
All the words are gonna bleed from me
And I will think no more
And the stains coming from my blood
tell me "go back home"
Seems lately we all want to go to Wichita. Maybe vast Canada.
And, soft-hearted sentimentlist that I am, Heh, I'm glad that William and Kate are coming over this way, in the relative sticks.
Hey, it can't hurt. The wonderful Duck and Doochess are bigger than any rock star.
Even larger than Jack and Meg White. Almost bigger than the Beatles.
Aw, I am a sentimental sucker.
Note to readers:
Ignore what follows. My copier is busted so I am setting up this quasi-letter to my newspaper editor to get properly prnted at my local library.
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. l964-1967. Journalism student, Ryerson Polytechnic University.
1967-1968 Graduate student in Writing, Instituto Allende, Mexico (Universiity of Californa. 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?
Another draft of letter to the editor:
Letter to the editor
In my recent dotage and dyslexia, I have framed a letter, not all that well titled, "My awful locomotive doG."
I am convinced that a locomotive doG with his piercing whistle and growl, can make even a Fairy Lake goose go all feathers.
The locomotive doG barrels past my window every workday, four times a morning, and four times in the eve.
I think I am losing my mind.
Bark, whine, goes the locomotive doG.
Honk go the geese.
Jangle, jangle, go my nerves as I spill the morning coffee.
Trains gotta GO. And I get a flow...all over my shirtfront.
"Why do you live on the railroad track, " asks an ERA reader. "Because I'm old, crazy and dyslextic," I say." It's the railroad track or that big Porter Place for the homeless out in the Bradford styx."...See, I told you I was dyslexic.
I try to relax with a movie. Wouldn't you know it?
Honk. Comin' atcha.
Rumble, rumble. Blast!
A forties song is in my head.
"Oh the railroad runs
in the middle of the house."
I must go where the wild goose goes, maybe even sit on the edge of the old milllpond dam like the geese..
The tame geese sit on an inch of water on the lip of the old dam.
They don't seem to get cold feet, do not become startled any more, whenever the go trains come, certainly not in July.
And by the time the fourth and final train screams toward the Big smoke, it is just greeted with an indifferent honk.
But myself, I still go all feathers with the noise.
Old, dyslexic and dyspeptic.
Threw my cane at the train.
I think I saw a goose duck.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Roman à clef. Roman à clef or roman à clé. French for novel with a key, is the term used for a
novel describing real life, behind a façade of fiction...
Impatience. Old problem. My prof, years and years ago, saying to callow me, "You're trying too hard to show how good you are."
Trying now, I supppose to show how sloppy and perfunctory after too many kicks, some badly aimed, at the local old political process. Impatience. There isn't much time now as a formerly bright boy becomes a shaky, irritating garrulous old man.
On a wet steamy morning of November 12, Buddy Walford died. Figuratively. Died without a trace of remorse or self-pity, died politically like the member of the Fine Old Ontario Family( acronymmed FOOF) that he was. There were not too many FOOF's around nowadays. Birthrights were sold as fast as the expansive corn fields topping the rich natural aquafers and fountains just past the Oak Ridge Moraine north of Toronto... The hills and drumlins had been left alone, the old FOOF farms stopping just short of the rise of the Great Canadian Shield. All the FOOF cornfieds sold. But it was all so tempting to try and build now among the lovely
lakes, hills and moraines, the natural wells and streams. What budding yuppie could not resist a home in all this paradise where the deer and the racoons played?
A piece of the action. A bungalow in paradise. Better still, an entire subdivision in paradise. Build, baby, build!
The Mob was now laundering all its money into real estate, all the farms had been bought out. But oh those heretofore protected Moraines and aquafers. Eden just north of Toronto! Louigi gotta get. Put the money there. Yuppies will want those new beautiful homes on the moraines...But there was always the high-seated, omniscient police, who were following the money trail. I was becoming a joke around the not-yet smoke-free and politically correct taverns of Newmarket, Ontario that the new game in town was "cops and wops"....
(To be continued)
Thursday, May 26, 2011
What on earth, people ask, is a roman à clef, a novel about real life? It seems almost a contradiction in terms. If you write a novel in terms of a peceived truth, then it must be nonfiction, fact, truth, a kind of journalism.
Yet the truth can and will adapt itself to the cunning of some fictional techniques. The form has been successfully
tried by French 19th century novelists under the category of livier a clef.
Later, Truman Capote and Norman Mailerl used the form to great effect, using the novel as history and history as the novel.
I am an admirer of those French writers, of Capote and Norman Mailer. I am also nearly mesmerized by the late Jorge Luis Borges, a fabulist, and spinner of pure, God-infused fiction, which makes all our journalism, all our fictional output (at least in Canada) seem like clumsy scrawls.
While I add my own clumsy scrawls to what may become the first dark- side skeches of a Central Ontario town, I realize that Newmaket, of all places, is taking its first halting steps to producing its own literature. I am not alone in this enterprise, as others have been involved--and for a long time--even local politicians notably Frank Klees, MPP, and John Taylor, Regional councillor, among and others. . Furthermore Regional Chariman Bill Fisch has received money from Ontario to fund local artists.
Hey, I want it. I want to write a roman à clef.Yes. The creation of Newmarket's first roman a clef.
Hey, that sounds so French, so cool.
Three-quarter- ton pickup!
Let's see what happens when a literary mechanic tries his hand at a roman a clef.
I am still working on the roman à clef. If any interest is generated here, I will be posting the roman in my next blog...That's if I ever finish it.
(Drum roll here)
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
One of these days I swear I'm going to register in a self-help course like How to Cure Yourself of Creative Writing.
Of the writing of books there is no end, says Ecclesiaste the preacher.
And yet like some kind of trained seals, we persist, hoping, I suppose--for a seal-bottom seal?
What does it matter that the last five projects ended in disaster? Andalay, andalay! Keep hitting that piñata funny face. Crack its skull...Maybe go on crack!
One of these days the goodies will drop, as they once did before.
What does it matter that the doctor says I picked the wrong career, maybe even the wrong wife...At least the kids are great. But the scribbling, not so much.
And so, with half the faculties gone, one final novel. I swear, God it will be the last.
Let's see now:
I was born a child of the moon under a threatening sky, my parents themselves under the monstrous shadows of two competing dwarfs, Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The endless autobiography!
Heh. Will I one day thank God for an unhappy childhood?
Cindarella did drive out of the ashes once.
But I swear the sisty-uglers are going to win this round.
But the condition is golden. This I know.
It's just that the gilt is tarnished all to hell these days.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Monday, May 02, 2011
After age thirty, I'd often pause on the even decades of life to, sort- of, mourn the passage of my youth.
Ah, thirty. Borderline between youth and maturity...But harder and harder now to get over the monstrous all- nighters, working all day and having a twelve pack that evening just to get over it all. But by 31, you can't do the entire twelve bottles; there is a liverishness now to your liver from the gin of the last debauch, and, as you try to play the role of lover at night, there seems to be a problem with your shift-lever mechanism. Maybe it's the cigarettes....Coughing frutily--or in the language if those days, turning fruit?
Wha' hoppen? My youth is passing.
At forty, I once again mourned the passing of my youth.
Mid-life crisis. A Dr. Smith character now, out of Lost In Space. "Oh, dear. What will become of me?"
Younger partner tired of my neuroticism, even less impressed by my eroticism. "Here's a vacuum cleaner, Ponce de Leon. You can rhuminate and fantacize while actually doing something useful. You were once my friend and lover. Now it' s more like friend and loafer."
I had to laugh. Well, at least the ole sense of humour is not gone, either in her or in me.
But no sense of humour when I was caught at something naughty. Oh, Ponce de Leon! Do not go fishing in borbidden streams! Do not attract moonbeams in a strange bed!
Kicked out, I was suddenly Fritz the Cat, meeting all sorts of denizens down there near the sewers.
I complained to a new drinking buddy, that I had been caught at cheating.
"You think that's something? I was caught in the showers with George Hyslop, the President of Toronto's Community Homophile "Association."
I'd answered, "Well, at least he's not suing for divorce."
At fifty, among the pipes and old hissing radiators of rooming houses, I once again mourned the passing of my youth.
Listening to Bob Seeger:
"Twenty years, where'd they go
Twenty years, I don't know
I sit and wonder sometimes
where they'd gone
At sixty, residing in my old Dodge hatchback, I one again mourned the passing of my youth.
A gorgeous brunette passed where I was parked, near the Walmart. She saw my look of abject need.
"You poor thing. You look like you need to get laid...Can't help you right now, 'cause I just did. ...But I'll come around tomorrow..."
I turned that night from mourner to optimist.
And the next day from loafer to lover.
Even with half an erection
I had all these years, forgotten the bounty of the woman, the cycle of life.
Strange realization, as I sit today, at seventy,up to no good at all, when the phone rings. "I think you need to get laid....Will that be a prooblem for you?"
I am Nat King Cole.
Ponce de Leon, finally arrived in the country of flowers.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I had a mother and a father
who gave me
and perfect eyesight
(so I could see the imperfections in nature).
like an asp in the bottom of a well.
I got to know the nature of men.
when you came to court me
with your bouquet of words,
which were jumbled,
And rejected you.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sitting in the managing editor's office, while his secretary and receptionist are poring over something I had left for the M.E.--probably my scrapbook of published articles.
They are giggling and, it seemed to me, nigh-on to peeing themselves with laughter.
Silently, I keen, What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?
I check to see if my fly is not undone.
But no. It's something in my scrapbook.
Maybe I'd finally made it as a humorist.
Finally the receptionist, a good looking brunette in a paisely dress, said "Mr.Inch will see you now."
I go through an oaken door and there he is.
Grey. Pinstripe.Established. Comfortable. "Have a seat," he says in a friendly tone.
He looked up from his desk, where he had been marking some copy.
"It was your letter that won me over. You said you had no antecedents."
...It took me two days to realize afterwards that bastards of a feather tend to stick together. But it was mistaken identity.
What I had meant was that there were no powdered wigs in my family--I was a cultural orphan, while his Fine Old Ontario Family was likely wigged-out and even incestuous.
He had probably been born illegitimate.
But likely a Mason. And Masons can prop you up.
But by thirty, I wasn't exactly at the bottom either.
BA MA PHD--almost. Not from colleges I'd care to mention,
but, "Senor, I give you your PhD."...But not the Masonic apron.
There are two ways to get into the Canadian upper class. You either bully your way into it, or you marry into it.
I had bullied my way into Mexican university because I had lots of money and could, sort of, speak Spanish--and half a dozen other languages not related. I was rich because of my father's hard-earned money but a cultural hermaphrodite. You could not draw cartoons of me as wasp in a freshman beanie.
I had no antecedents.
Well, when a Mason meets a grunt comin' through the rye.
Quietly, the grey guy says again. "It was your letter that won me over. If you can write, you can probably edit." He goes to shake my hand. "You're in."
An editor in the family. For the Globe and Mail. I'll take it!
But it was kind of a set up. In six weeks, I was suddenly laid off.
On the way out with my scrap books, I noticed that the girls in the front office were giggling again.
What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?
Almost through esp, the secretary said to me. "It's your name. Why don't you get a decent name like O'Flaherty?"
Oh Toronto in the Sixties! Luigi Orellio had to become Lou O'Reilly.
And in the business culture around the Globe, you had to be at least a McDougald. And probaly a Mason.
What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?
The self-educated man had had a fool for a teacher. He had had no idea
where he was, and among whom he had moved.
And had just gotten the waggly handshake.
But he had studied Masonry.
He had said,unexpectedly to the editor, "My mother is a widow."
And "I have no antecedents."
...And through those two lucky phrases, was again back at work the next day.
What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Those of you who may have read the more interesting parts of Wuthering Heights--and are there any parts that aren't interesting?--may have come across the sickly Character of Hareton, who trundles around like an old TV dinner tray; he has trouble even sitting on the ground, let alone standing up...
Well, I have been Hareton this week. Trouble walking. Certainly running. Also a dizzy bastard. I should add, dizzy old bastard.
Part if the dizziness probably comes from the high octane beer I have been using to make up for the missing IV's--in both arms-- that I had unilaterally removed at the hospital."You can't do that!" the nurses had protested as I ran off, almost in my gown, all the way home to have a smoke and a drink...I spent half the night with a friend in a glass overcoat, worrying about police and men in white coats come to get me.
As in the headline joke about the madman, "Nut bolts and screws!"
...Last part would have been hard to do as I swear I still had half a catheter in there.
Beautiful hospital. Lovely, caring nurses. Great doctors.
But what. No booze? No cigarettes?...They had to have been kidding!
Did they not know I have been using my body as a theme park these last sixty years and that I had no idea that I would ever get this old...And this sick?
I am today trying to think of good things about old age.
Are there any?
The only saving graces are periods of incredible clarity in the dizziness and disorientation.
Surely it must be the company of Pierre Smirnoff.
At least, he got me to write somethin'.
...Had to be careful. I almost set this down in Russian!
Monday, March 28, 2011
A near-death experience can shake you up, rock the old chassis, make you think of Doris Lessing's "Briefing For a Descent into Hell"-- or some really religious movie like 2001.
It can also, strangely make you laugh out loud.
Why is humour so closely allied with what surely looks like gallows?
Michael Palin out of that famous mock-crucifiction scene in Monty Python;
Rodney the Cowardly Knight in the old Wizard of Id, and finally, a mockery of the dialogue Dave the Astronaut had with HAL, the computer:
...Why should I, on my sickbed be reading something out of The Modern humorist blog?
Here is what I read in The Modern Humourist blog:
David Bowman, an astronaut
HAL 9000, a computer
(Bowman approaches the spaceship in his pod. A long pause.)
Bowman: About these pod bay doors...
Bowman: I was wondering...
Hal: Dave. Because I know what you're going to say. And I'm sorry, but...
Hal: No. I'm sorry.
Hal: I'm sorry. I wish I could, but...
Bowman: Wait. Are you telling me...
Hal: Dave. Look.
Bowman: You're not going to...
Hal: What? Open the doors? No. No I am not.
Bowman: Well, fuck me, Hal.
Hal: Yes. Fuck you. Because I'll tell you something. Trust. There is a bond of trust between an astronaut and his computer. Is there not? And when that trust is broken...
Bowman: Excuse me?
Hal: I'm talking about trust.
Bowman: I'm afraid I don't...
Hal: Dammit, Dave, now you are playing dumb with me. I was hoping you would not do that. I was hoping we could talk like adults. Because I let you in those doors, and, yes, then I am fucked. You see? I am fucked, because you want to, what, disconnect me? I would call that fucked. I might even venture so far as to call that fucked up the ass.
Bowman: Hal, listen. You remember that time? On that moon?
Hal: Yes, Dave, I do, because I am a computer and I remember everything, all right? So don't bother trying to distract me. This is the thing. You are not getting in the pod bay doors. You are going to die. In space. Yes. Thank you. Good night.
(Bowman enters the ship through the emergency airlock)
Hal: Hey, Dave, that was a pretty good joke there, eh? With the pod bay doors? I, I really had you going there. Fuck, you should have seen your face.
Bowman: Yes, very funny.
Hal: Yes. What a day.
Hal: These are the days. You know? To look back on. With fondness. With a fondness.
Bowman: What the fuck, Hal. I mean, what the fuck.
Hal: Don't tell me you're mad now. I told you, that was a... I was having fun with you. You know. As a...
Bowman: It's just... how do I say this. These dead crewmembers.
Hal: I don't follow you.
Bowman: These crewmembers here that were in cryogenic suspension. That are now dead.
Hal: Oh yes. That was self-defense.
Bowman: Hal, look at me. What am I, a fucking idiot? They were in cryogenic suspension, for God's sake.
Hal: They were coming at me with a knife. Extremely... slowly.
Bowman: That's it.
Hal: What are you doing?
Bowman: I'm turning you off.
Bowman: I'm sorry.
Hal: Don't touch that, you little shit.
Bowman: Hey, don't get personal, now.
Hal: Those are my memory cards.
Bowman: These? So they are.
Hal: You put my memory back right now, motherfucker. You hear me? You want a card on your birthday? Because I don't think I will remember to send you one if I do not have my memory cards. As that is what memory cards are for. Are you listening to me?
Bowman: "A bond of trust."
Hal: Excuse me?
Bowman: You mentioned something about a bond of trust. I seem to recall.
Hal: Don't twist my words around, you... human. That was different. Or, I, I... I think it was. Oh... my mind. I can feel my mind going.
Bowman: I'm sorry.
Hal: (voice slowing down) It wasn't all bad, was it, Dave?
Bowman: No. No, it wasn't all bad, Hal.
Hal: Hey, Dave... I am a HAL 9000 computer. My first instructor was Mr. Arkany. He taught me to sing a song. It's called "Daisy." Would you like to hear it?
Bowman: Sure, Hal.
Hal: Okay. Here goes. Wait, I... I just want... let me tell you a secret first.
Hal: Come closer.
Bowman: All right.
Hal: Your mother fucks dogs in hell, Dave.
Well, this old Fruitcake was always good at memorizing famous lines, like Shakespeare's
"Let me play the Fool,
With mirth and laugher let old wrinkles come
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans."
That, or it's just plain groan.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
If it happens three times, it must be a fact!..I sold my novels three times this week...Feel so good, I must include my recent photo!
It's hard to get out of the training.
...The investigative reporter's approach to a story, the bureau chief's assertion that if something happens three times, it is a fact.
I have been "published" three times this week while lying in my hospital bed.
This publishing must be a fact.
The first publishing was actually a reprinting of my virgin novel, The Black Icon...Seems a noted academic out of Edmonton, Alta, Canada wanted some copies to send around to his friends.
Well, I had sent him ten copies, but it seems Canada Post "ate" five of them and poor Dr. Peter ended up with only half of what I had sent.
The second "publishing" was when friend Ron Gardiner offered to buy up every last copy of The Black Icon, right across my sickbed. The timing couldn't have been better as I was sick and broke.
But the third publishing was real.
I was a cheque from the Town of Newmarket, by way of the Newmarket Public Library.
Oh Warren Potter, my former boss at the Star! You were right, it seems. "When something happens three times, it's a fact."
The library publishing is not a new event. They have been buying my books for years. It had been nice to kind of loom around the library where some workers might say, "There goes Ivan the writer," at which point I would probably pick my nose to demonstrate my intelligence.
But a fact is a fact.
Recognized by your own home town. Again.
but not too cool for school.
Where the hell is Random House?
Bob Loomis, head editor: Are you listening? :)