Thursday, October 27, 2011

Slowly, the multitude (people and assorted Canada geese)--gathered at the lake





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

Can you teach an old trick new dogs?



(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.
Club 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

Parable of the burning towers.



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

Though an almost incorrigible NDP-er, I kinda like Frank Klees.




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:

Dear Ivan

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.
Frank Klees.


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. :)