Tuesday, December 21, 2004

When I moved here, I sold everything. Right before I left my rent was paid by eBay and a garage sales. I would sell a shelf load of my books to the used book store and it would be enough to feed me for a week. When gainfully employed with a salary, crap seems to accumulate in one's abode like dust. Books, bizarre cooking contraptions, useless electronic gadgets. It was a nice feeling to just clear it out and leave it all behind. The only thing brought over to this isle was my clothes. Since then, I have tried to live a more ascetic life. I hesitate to buy those tempting tidbits. Not out of any deep moral conviction. I'd love to clutter my life with crap once again if only to experience the sensation of getting rid of it once again. No, mainly it is because my remaining here is tenuous. Someone has drawn imaginary lines and since my birth took place outside of those lines I do not have any claim to remain. So, I have avoided major purchases for this reason. Lately, it has been different. I have been buying little comforts. Unconciously nesting in the hope that I can stay. Nothing extravagent, but just little things which seem to be telling myself, "Yeah. let's stay for a bit." fingers crossed.

Monday, November 29, 2004

never talk to (well dressed) strangers

He listened to the soothing tones of the man’s voice. The untucked tails of a foreign accent occasionally peaked out from underneath his perfectly arranged and intonated speech.
He was lulled into a meditative peace despite the menace with which the man’s words were now imbued. Unblinking, He starred at the man’s shoulder. He could see the kinks of stray fibres upon his wool coat. He looked at the thin stubble sprouting from the jaw and neck. The tiny speck of a flea crawled along the line of the jaw. Occasionally, it would disappear from sight with a hop reappearing a moment or two later back upon the jaw. Then. Nothing. A gold and electric green flash. Then black. He could feel his body being roughly shifted and searched. A dull kick which would certainly hurt more when he returned to consciousness by the pokes and prods of two policeman taking him for a drunk.

Friday, November 26, 2004

This is beautiful. I would love to have Amanda's rendition of the kidney framed on my wall. I'm a big fan of Basquiat and Dubuffet but there is always a self-consciousness that can't be avoided. Children never seem to have that problem even when reproducing techincal drawings. love it.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Are there cobblers in America? Along the road I live cobblers are sprinkled liberally about. They usually have a secondary trade such as making keys and/or selling cheap gold watches. I have taken their existence for granted. All cities have little old men in cobbler shops. Do they? That is the question that came to my mind yesterday. I have noticed already I am unable to answer the 'How do they say it in America?' questions, and I say things like 'cheers' and 'wee'. I don't purposefully ape british speech and expression. It is just an unconcious human tendency to assimilate. I was in New York in July and asked a secruity gaurd where the 'lift' was! I could only imagine what his opinion was of the pompous twit asking where the life was in his thick american accent. So, now when someone asks me how I would pronounce something or what is the 'american' word for that. I cannot answer as quickly as I once did. It is the same for America in general. I can't remember the everyday details I once took for granted because I grew up in America or because I now see them everyday on my way to work. It is an odd state of mind that brings up even odder questions such as "Are there cobblers in America?"

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"I don't believe in reincarnation," the small girl began the conversation as she sat down with our drinks then continued, "but sometimes I think I was once a fuedal lord. A real fat disgusting lump of a man. My hair is balding at the top but is long and wirey with strands a grey running through it. I imagine myself eating whole legs of game. My fingers and beard are wet with grease fat. I imagine my husband is there too but he's a very plain and mousy wench but he has a fantastic set of tits. I'll order him to bring me a drink and when he draws close I put my hands between his cleavage and slap his breasts around like two dangling wine skins. Sometimes, when we are sitting on the couch watching telly. I'll lean over and slap around his imaginary breasts. He hates that." Most of the time I can contribute to the conversation with an anecdote of my own. This time I was caught short.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Gluwein season is here. Hurrah! I got moderately drunk beneath a cold clear sky this weekend. I was supposed to be working on a presentation for Friday (which is now tomorrow and I am still not done). Instead, I decided to wander. This is how I discovered the gluwein kiosk run by a very Bavarian looking woman with a Yorkshire accent playing Um-pah music. It was part of an international festival which was predominately French baked goods and Dutch tulips. I sat there with a friend for most of the day trading office gossip (Did you hear? S. told D. that she wasn’t going to speak to M. because he is black and voted republican.) Afterwards, we continued at a pub and then back at the flat. Not a bad day of procrastination. Now, I am typing the story to procrastinate further. I have managed to write a pirate joke into the presentation.

Q: What is a pirate’s favourite type of dialogue?
A: Aaarrrgumenation.

Can you see why I am procrastinating?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Enlightenment was a disappointment to Jonathan. It came early one morning upon his awakening. The solutions to all of life’s mysteries lay before his mind’s eye like a child’s drawing. It seemed simple, poorly constructed, and irrelevant to his life as a mortal, although, that morning’s first cup of coffee and every cup since has been an indescribable sensual pleasure.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Apparently, it is pronounced "Albeeno".

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Winter has arrived wearing gale winds that pull the breath from you and put an ache in your fingers. This year I am not willing to play along with winter's shenanigans. I am stubbornly refusing to add layers to my wardrobe. Yet, this morning the weather's tactic of attrition is being to show results. Undershirt, long sleeve shirt, and military surplus wool sweater. BUT, I refuse to wear gloves or long johns until November, damnit! Right now it is taunting this declaration by slapping hard against the window and shoving clouds around like billiard balls.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

When confronted with the thousand years of western civilisation that is found in continental Europe, a colonial like myself can develop a culture inferiority complex until one hears Euro-pop music which immediately remedies the affliction. This thought popped into my head as I ignored the drunken ramblings of my companion. He is currently performing a litany about the emptiness of American culture. I then muse about his reaction to my lighting a cocktail napkin and throwing it into his lap. I believe this to be the only appropriate response when one is presented with this sort of nonsense.

Friday, September 24, 2004

I am reading "The Secret Life of Dali". It is fantastic. It is a shame that he's become a parody of himself and his art is now nothing more than coffee mug and mouse pad decorations. He writes but describes things in terms of painting. Words are an ungainly medium for communicating anything of worth. To completely capture some filiment of thought with the ackward tool of language is a rare event. That is why when some one has expressed perfectly something I have been trying to formulate it becomes pointless to attempt repetition. In this book Dali has done it twice. Everytime he speaks of his wife he expresses love sublime perfectly. Dali can be forgiven for his sins for the devotion and adoration of the woman, Gala. I have just read the second time, he has expressed a thought that has occured to me but never been able to express.

"Throughout my life it has in fact been very difficult for me to get used to the disconcerting and flabbergasting "normality" of the beings who surround me and who people the world. I always say to myself, "Nothing of what might happen ever happens!"
I cannot understand why man should be capable of so little fantasy. I cannot understand why bus drivers should not have a desire once in a while to crash into a five-and-ten-cent store window and catch a few toys on the fly for their wives, and amuse the children who happened to be around."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I am nomadic by nature. Given three years in one location and I get restless. I begin to look at maps and atlases at the breakfast table looking at the dots that represent cities I have never visited. As a consequence there is no dot on any map that I can point to and say, “home”. I am regularly asked, “Where are you from?” To which I reply that is a difficult question to answer and then I list the several places I lived in growing up. I regularly return to the city that I spent most of my memorable childhood. I am never draw back by nostalgia or pining but to visit my mother who still lives there. This city in which I live can almost be considered an exception. I doubt I’ll ever be able to call it home (mainly because I am constantly reminded I belong somewhere else. “Where are you from?”) When I disembark from the plane and I hear that beautiful, sometimes incomprehensible, Scottish accent busy in everyday meaningless chatter, I feel I have returned to something safe and familiar. I could stay another three years easily.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I have just returned from my adventures in Germany. So many things to mention, to describe, and to ponder. In due time I will make these but it is my first day in the office, I am feeling the unusual sensation of initiative and will try to make the most of it. So, just a little post.

Berlin is an incredible city. So much art. Big wide streets. Street art scattered like confetti. So much of recent western civilisation has occured among these blocks. The decimated corpse of an ancient cathedral testifies to the consequences of world war. A strip of pavement demarcates where one ideaology was seperated by another. It used to be a wall. A very famous wall which most germans step over with out a glance or thought. Why should they? They lived here it was just a wall to them, to us tourists it was a far more frightening abstraction. Now, in this city which is familiar with the ways of walls and their purpose of keeping one seperated from another has a new wall. This one is much smaller than the earlier incarnation. This one surrounds a square block of city which contains in the middle an ordinary building which just happens to have a bald eagle emblem and an American flag. When I saw the huge concrete fortifications blocking the road, I first thought it was a recreation of Checkpoint Charlie for the benefit of the tourists. The men and women standing gaurd were not in period uniforms. They were modern day police. You are allowed to approach the building by foot which I did to the consernations of my companion (Germans in uniform still make her nervous). At every street corner there were two police. The building was dwarfed by the security measures. It made me incredibly sad. After visiting sites like the remains of the Berlin wall and a concentration camp to see yet another barrier. Whether made to keep people in or keep them out, there is no denying that walls in Germany mean sadness for me.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Ladies and Gentleman! I have arrived. I am now the number two result for the google search on Rasputin's genitals. I love looking at how people find my blog. Where is google.ca? Canada? It's too early to blame cabin fever for searching rasputin's genitals.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Watched a woman savoring a chocolate muffin. She stood in the street lost to the world with an expression of ecstacy.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Last week I went to see this man. It is a rare occasion that the individual responsible for the music I enjoy is still alive. So, I paid the ridiculous amount for the tickets. I haven’t been to a live show in quite awhile. Years ago, there wasn’t a week I didn’t wake with clothes that smelt of cigarettes and spilt dollar beer, but I have become much more discriminating these days.
The opening bands were hit and miss. I enjoyed the skiffle band from Hull. The toes tapped. The head bounced. Occasionally, I knew the words to some of the old standards and I sang happily sang along. The next band sounded like one of those ‘Celtic waves’ CDs. You know the ones where they show rolling green hills dotted with sheep and convivial pub gatherings and if you buy now they will throw in a ‘kiss me I’m Irish’ button. I used the opportunity to queue up for a drink or two.
Then came Shane. It seems silly to point out that he was extremely inebriated. This is a man whose teeth have all rotted out of his head due to his predilection towards schnapps and Irish Crème (which, by the way, is nothing but sweetened condensed milk and whiskey. Beurk!). He was wobbly on his feet and grinning the mad toothless grin of a professional drunk. He not only sang off key but also sang to a different tempo. He was a mess, but the crowd was just relieved that he showed up. Song number two started with him no less drunk but a switch had been flipped. He was in perfect form. His cracked mumbling voice sang all the sadness and revelry that make me love the music so much. I sang along. Danced. Got tossed around with the aimless shifts of the crowd. One of the moments of perfection occurred, where time ceases, reflective thought ceases to ruin your enjoyment, and a person is completely in the moment. It is rare event but it is sublime. To think it all occurred during a gig of a drunken Irishman singing simple songs while one is being tussled, showered with beer, and abusing one’s hearing.
The bus ride home was fun. The other punters filled the cabin with stamping feet and choruses. Everyone sang along and chattered about the great show. “chust sublime” everyone agreed.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I wake up late today, my radio alarm clock goes off and BBC news whispers into my ear. "Wake up sleepy head, there is death, and sadness, and the world is unfair." I as extremely slow to rise this morning due to wrestling with a bout of pointless insomnia last night. The alram clock recognises this and shoves in my ear a report from Iraq (A place currently rife with death, sadness, and unfairness) which it knew would get me out of bed in a hurry. I listen to the report. What the fuck! A kid is blinded, maimed and his brother dies in the process. Sure that's sad. boohoo. a little tear on your way out. BUT, your concerns of whether your editor recognises all your hard work in the face of danger or whether you make it to the front page. That's the real news. double fuck you lady! You are a tourist.
Maybe, just maybe. It's that sort of self-centered self-righteous mind set that keeps pissing off the rest of the world. The 'West' has been blessed with this unprecinted personal liberty and most of us fritter it away watching Big Brother or following cult-like diet regimes. Crying and moaning about how fucking tough we have it. No wonder fanatics want to toss bombs at our children. We are obviously oblivious to everyone's suffering but our own. Yeah. I'm fucking up now and I switch off the radio alarm.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Exhausted from the constant pleading for attention that is currently rife through this town as the untalented resort to varying degrees of nudity and shades of hair colour to placate their insatiable desire to more unique than the other five thousand people in their underoos and hair dye handing out flyers, I have sought refuge in the gardens below the castle. It was there that I met a true modern day sage. A man whose wisdom is tangled, nay, woven amongst the food particles and plant detritus of his beard. It would have been easy to mistake him for the other homeless person who is constantly spitting at me from his rotten toothless face nutritional advice1, but this gentleman was uniformed as one of her majesty’s grounds keeper. A blue coverall. He sat beside me at a friendly distance. Eventually we started chatting and I’ll try to recreate the most interesting portions of the dialogue.
“Where you from?” he asked. Fair enough. It’s a tourist town and my accent is indeed a muddled and bizarre one these days.
“I live here.”
“What are you doing in this hole then?”
“Aye. Look at this shit. Green lawns. Green leaves. Fucking flowers.”
I chuckle at his joke. “What’s wrong with the flowers.”
“They’re cunts.” I understand that to many that particular word can be grating and probably exists high on one's naughty word list, but living here one becomes immune to its shock. Now, I can only laugh. In this part of the country, they pronounce this phrase from their bellies. The ‘c’ is thrown out with great force and velocity and the ‘u’ forces their jaws open to allow its bulky mass to pass the lips. I can never help smiling when I hear the phrase but it was particularly humorous given the current context. “I’m not joking. They’re cunts. The lot of them.” Every morning I piss on that bunch of thistles. Those over there. Where the Orientals are taking pictures. Aye. There. And look at them. They’re the biggest of the lot. They do it to spite me. The cunts. As soon as they fade. Chop. Chop.” He smiled and mimed the motion.
“I hate plants.” He concluded in an almost defeated tone.
My first instinct was to politely nod and agree but the urge to say something quickly rose to my throat. “But your job. You’re working…”
“Aye. I know. Everyday I’m surrounded by plants. Fucking Gorse. Fucking Grass. And Faaaaking Thistles. But you know what. It keeps me going. I’m sixty-three and I’m still fit. Because everyday, I come here and keep those bastards in line.” He punctuated the last sentence by slapping at the foliage behind our bench like he was scolding a naughty child.
The conversation only got stranger. The gist of it was that it is exactly because he hated nature that he made a good gardener. Maybe that is what I am missing from my daily life. Good ole’ antagonism. Something to define myself against. Countries do it all the time. Hell. Countries are doing it right now. When the shit hits the national fan. Leaders point to someone else as the monkey who threw the shit. I suppose that is why America is such a popular target for foreign governments to distract their populaces from more domestic issues. Because, ladies and gentleman never in our history has a monkey thrown so much shit.

1) Dear reader. I shit you not. This guy doesn't take a hint and for some reason, maybe I look malnourished, he is always singling me out to give me recipes and soliciting a place to stay for the evening.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wow. We've had a thick haar for the past three days. I haven't seen past the first floor windows of any buildings this week. Street noises seem strangely disembodied. You can smell the saltiness and sea air wrapped inside the fibrous fog that has settled into every nook and cranny of the town. I should use this time to explore but I have work that must be ignored and that is best done at my desk.

Friday, August 06, 2004

It is festival time in our fair metropolis. Overall, this is a great time of year. The weather is usually tame and the constant activity tempers any lethargy one may feel. I have been out a few times. The shows are too expensive, but freebees can be found. The other night I went to a pub playing folk music. If you've seen any john wayne irish films you'll know the scene. Drunks around a table all playing instruments while other instrumentless drunks nod and sing along. It is a very pleasant atmosphere, but this is festival time. So, of course, I had a whole family of performers for some show trying to shake me down to buy tickets. At first I was very pleasant. Saying I would not be able to go, but their constant insistance required me to bluntly tell them unless they are passing out free tickets they might as well take their flyer back. Shame too. It looked like an interesting show, but once again too damn expensive. My understanding is that the venues charge so much that the tickets have to be that much. Today I bought some tickets for a band, "Flight of the Conchords". Right now tickets are almost reasonable with a two for one deal. The next few days will be a mad rush to see the shows before they go up to tourist prices. While I was waiting to buy tickets, several people walked by carrying five foot toothbrushes. This is what I really like about festival. I am much happier at a pub and when the booth next to me is occupied by two men in swan costumes talking about scoring with chicks. I am at peace when the world visually confirms to me its absurdity rather than its usual and more subtle manifestations. The festival can also have its drawbacks. I have already mentioned how pushy the show barkers can be. By the end of august, your pockets are filled with flyers. You can't talk to strangers for fear of a thirty minute sales pitch on their play about Rasputin's genitals. This bit troubles me an extra measure. Artists in any medium hold a very high position in my esteem, but during this tradeshow they call the festival I can have no illusion that their business is a business like any other. They have a product to move. It can be disheartening for a layman such as myself that perceive these people as pursuing a trade more noble than mine. My advice to anyone is never meet any of your idols. I have met two of mine and was disappointed on both accounts. A lesser nuisance is the sheer volume of mediocracy. Last night, I was at a show. I walked in and the musician was singing, "Let's invade Latvia". I was instantly excited. Yes. Lets! Everyone knows how smug those latvians are. Alas, I misunderstood the lyrics. He was singing about all night until the morning light or some crap like that. Ah well, Maybe someday someone will put those damn latvians in their place

Monday, July 19, 2004

I think it is exactly because there are tens of millions of people in New York that it is such a lonely place. Last time I visited I was overwhelmed by the skyscraper canyons and the lack of a horizon. This time I have found my trip here much more enjoyable. There is plenty of life here. I enjoyed my walks through the different parts of town. I learned about shea butter (every other street vendor sells it) and discovered foul smells never before experienced. I blind man would have no troubles in this city. Rotten fish flesh? Hmm. I must be on East Broadway next to Dim’s. Bizarre smell of mouldy almonds? One more block to midtown. It is incredible the variety and consistency of smells as you wander through this town. Every block has its own unpleasant bouquet which is constant.

The one major thing that would stop my move there would be the loneliness. You come across thousands and thousands of people daily but there is little but polite contact. It seems it would be hard to really get to know someone in such a busy and anonymous town.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I always assumed that if I ever had to fight in war. I would be the one who would get shot taking a crap behind a bush or a accidental self inflicted wound to the groin or some other undignified end or just the guy that breaks down crying just when the mortar shells start falling and the platoon is depending on me to call in the air support. You see I am ungainly, accident prone, and a tad absent minded. On top of that I am also a bit of a Chicken Little. The world is indeed always falling. The other night proved different. There is always noise from the street dribbling into the basement flat in which I live. This noise wasn’t quite right. When the light in the kitchen came on it became obvious that the noise was someone breaking in. Immediately, I jump into action as if beneath my pyjamas where blue tights and a shirt with a big S. “Get on the phone and dial triple nine” I whispered the order as I moved toward the door. Behind me she was already talking to the dispatcher when I opened the door to confront the enemy. Two men with shaved heads and the gaunt look of addiction were there. They froze like woodland creatures meeting man for the first time. “All right guys. Get out of here.” They stay still for a heart beat or two and then do as they are told. The tone of authority in my voice surprised even me. I close the window, draw the curtains, and wait the hour it takes for the police to arrive. It wasn’t until two days later that the what-ifs and worse case scenarios returned me to my natural Chicken Little state.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I tend to wander. Sundays are for getting lost. I explore this city without direction. I meander along its cracked pavements and follow ancient walls. I have said before how much I am enchanted with cities and this one in particular. I love the grime. The well worn buildings and detritus are comfortable to me. The tired warehouses near the shore seemed to be a refuge. My dream is to live in one and it would have a huge garage door which I could leave open and watch the weekend stillness of the warehouse district where only gulls mill about upon the roofs.

Another thing I love about the city is graffiti. Not the ciphers of the street artists. The pieces where the person’s name is displayed in their hidden language of intertwined letters. I can appreciate these but I do not understand them. They are not written for me. Nor am I a fan of the quickly scrawled tags. I can see why a young person who walks through a wealthy man’s city wants to, with the flick of the pen, say ‘This is mine. That is mine’. This being so, I still watch the various names appear at night and disappear by pressure wash by day. Cert X is one of my favourites his art has more wit than most. In the park, he stencilled silver snails leaving silver spray paint trails. There is another name S.H.E.I.L.D. Around town someone writes this acronym. It is written in chalk or pen on walls, adverts, everything. He usually accompanies his tag with another word. Usually, FRONT or BACK. He is well travelled I have seen his mark at the furthermost ends of the city. What these designations of FRONT or BACK mean. I have never come to know. There are others who leave their noise upon the walls as well but without claiming ownership. Random splashes of art wheat pasted over the legal graffiti selling unneeded crap. (I always wonder why people abide huge ugly billboards of nonsense which mar the cityscape but complain when some when paints a tiny stencil right beside it.) Yesterday, my travels rewarded me with seeing someone had written, “Looting takes the waiting out of wanting.” I love my Sunday walks.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I bought a compass yesterday. Except it does not point towards the north. It points to Mecca. I am not Muslim. nor Christian or Buddhist or miscellaneous. I have only cursory understanding of Islam and the significance of Mecca. I do know that the city is important enough to ensure the devout need the ability to divine its location no matter where in the world he or she my reside.
I was attracted to the idea that this compass points to a city. a city built by humans and occupied by humans. Knowing where this abstraction North is has only a utilitarian attraction. No one uses a compass to go to the North. They use it to find some other place which may or may not lie in the North.
For everyone of us I am sure there is a geographical location that we think wistfully about. It would be nice if we could focus that longing by facing in the direction of that spot and know that if I walked in that direction I would arrive at that city or that place which holds watch over my most cherished memories. I am lucky enough to have several places to care take various wonderful memories of my life. Having my memories scattered about the planet makes it difficult to focus one's reflections. So, I have gathered each of them carefully. I have found a nice safe corner of a city to the east to which I have never been and stored them. To locate them I have this compass. A compass covered in a script written in wisps of smoke. A secret incantation to bring all my wonderful memories back to my thoughts. All I need to do is follow the compass' needle and look over the horizon to retrieve them.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

I have shut myself into the flat, and bunkered with a pile of rented DVDs, leaving only to return and renew the collection and stock up on cheap groceries from the German grocery chain across the street. The viewing programme consists largely with old classics. In particular it has been a steady diet of Alfred Hitchcock films (hence the previous entry). I have the obsession with which at times distracts from the main characters in the centre of the frame. I love looking at the peripheral details from these old films. It's a glimpse into the past. Simple things which have ceased to exist. The style of light switches, advertisements, wallpaper. In addition to that I think about the extras. We all know what happened to the stars. Big deal. Being in a film was the job. But, what about the guy whose sole job as to walk behind the starlet as she tells the leading man not to leave her.  Was he an aspiring actor, or in the right place at the right time to pick up a little extra cash. Did he brag to his friends about being so close to those famous people? But, what I mostly think is, 'Did everything turn out alright for him?' These films are sufficiently old that there is a good chance that the people alive upon the screen are dead or have lived the vast majority of their lives and have but only to reflect on it. I want to hear that despite how terrible fate can be, it is worth the effort. I want to see a subtle wink and the OKAY hand gesture just before he goes off camera comforting me that even the extras of the world do alright.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Alfred Hitchcock's favourite joke.

A boy and a girl are sitting next to one another. The girl is very shy. The boy asks, "What's your name?" The girl blushes and coyly says, "My name is the same as something that sticks on the wall." The boy looks confused and asks, "Shit!?!" The girl exclaims, "No! Ivy!"

Good morning everyone.

Monday, May 17, 2004

As I walk these streets filled with sameness. Same business guy a thousand times over with only a change in tie. Same scowled faced teenagers. Grouped by fashion. Sulky scowls in black go over there. Miscreant sulky teenagers in trainers and track suits over there. Occasionally, I witness something or someone unique.

A little girl who is sitting on her father's shoulders. She exageratedly swings her arms and makes stomping noises like a giant rampaging the city. Amen. A little rampage keeps the soul clean.

The ever present wind tickles the scarf of a petite young asian girl. Her shiny black hair dances about and the ends of her white scarf billow behind her like angel wings. It's nice she chose to walk amongst us mortals rather than fly safely above us.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The cliché "Some things must be seen to be believed" is very true when
speaking of the Eurovision song contest. It is surrealism at its European
finest. The opening act had a woman singing and gyrating with a Caesarean
section scar painted with glitter. This could be interpreted as a refreshing
change from the Americans obsession with absolute physical perfection for any
performer. But, lack of beauty or disfigurements is not the only deficiency that
was witnessed. What's worse than pop music? Now I know. Bad pop music with
operatic singing thrown in just because she can sing opera. Remember, I am just
talking about the first act which was last year's winner. If it wasn't for the
million dollar production, and the twenty-somethings gyrating their
bronze-in-a-can bodies covered only by glittery skimpy undies, I would have
thought this was a grammar school's talent show. On top of this, the
English-speaking commentator spends the whole night mocking each horrid act and
laughing out loud at the sheer crapness of it all. At one point, they try to
communicate with journalists covering Eurovision parties all over Europe. Each
time it was this awkward exchange befuddled by satellite delay and communication
conducted in neither party's mother tongue. It culminated in trying to talk to
the correspondent in Spain. An older bottle blonde woman with skin the colour of
shoe leather. Something went wrong. She didn't know she was on and ten seconds
were spent watching this woman try to clear her nostrils of something. The
British commentator enjoyed that moment thoroughly. Also, when the two
presenters rather than saying 'time to start the show', tried to warm up the
crowd with a little sing a long of "Ohh laa day. Ohh. Ohh. Ohh." To which the
commentator suggested, I wish they would have just said,  'time to start
the show'. Finally, at the very end, Europe votes for their favorite. Each
country cannot vote for themselves. So, What do they do? Vote for their
neighbours. Greeks would rather vote for Turkey than any Scandinavian country!
It becomes farcical. You can actually guess who a country will vote for. Unified
Europe! Ha! They can't even get the parochialism out of voting for crap pop
bands! Fuck trying to get a coherent and pan-European economic policy. I hope
everyone at some point in their life can see the absurdist masterpiece that is
the Eurovision song contest. Where else are you going to see a bald lady dancing
on stilts?

Friday, May 07, 2004

Politics. I've tried to be political. It's not in my nature but in the past year or so the inertia of external forces has urged me towards action. Unfortunately, I am not a team player and the political organizations I have attempted to join turned out to be more of a pretense for socializing. Frankly, I don’t need police harassment as part of my social calendar. Also, most people I met just parrot propaganda they have heard. Ironically, this does not impede their mocking of those who just happen to get their propaganda from the other side of the fence as mindless drones.
Most of the characters whose blogs are listed on this page are politically minded. This is one of the reasons I admire those individuals. This admiration is not simply because they are political but because they are well versed and articulate in the language of politics. I am interested in politics but am quickly overwhelmed by the futility which is so pervasive. Someone famous and most likely dead said, ‘History is made by unreasonable people’.1 I think there is sense in that. Reasonable people find a way to abide whatever political injustice blows their way. It’s those folks who call bullshit and do something about it that get things changed.
I grew up knowing a Nazi. That’s right kids. Uncle Jarred once knew a real live Nazi. Not the goofy back-wood ones that you occasionally find on daytime television, but a genuine man from the third Reich. Fortunately, He was also not of the unrepentant jew-killer bogeymen that appear in films on occasion. He was just fourteen at the time and after the allies bombed his home in Dresden. Whoever was in charge handed him a gun and pointed towards the east and told him to kill a commie for mommy. He and several others immediately stepped into the forest and ran west. They knew being captured by the Americans or British was a far better deal than what the boys with the red stars had planned. Beating all odds, he was captured by the French and that was just the beginning of this remarkable man’s life. I am glad I had the pleasure to know such a person. He called me “dummkopf” which is German for “best friend”. But, before all that he was a Nazi like everybody else in the neighborhood. Church on Sunday. Hitler youth after school. It seemed perfectly sensible for a person to ‘hail Hitler’ when one purchased a loaf a bread or crossed paths in the street. I bet most of the soldiers who even had the task of sealing the doors or dropping the little cyanide tablets into the holes in the roofs were reasonable men. It is frightening to think it is only circumstance that has saved most of us from having to make that dreadful decision or even worse being conditioned to think there was no decision to make. Thank god for unreasonable people.

1. Most likely he also said “ reasonable men”. Dead guys are usually pretty chauvinistic.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

This is my favorite picture when I googled my own name. This was on "meet the employees" page for a machinist company website.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

So English means "The people who form Aisles (Queues, Lines, Whatever). You see it comes from the old german "Angles" As in the Anglo-Saxons who were the first to invade this island. Really they were second or third but whos counting. Although Angles was eventually corrupted to English and England, "The land of the Aisle people", the word 'Aisle' has the same lingistic root but has not suffered the same corruption. So, it is that reason that the sacred practice of form queues still exists upon these aisles.

It's true. I just made it up. Scots on the other hand, I believe means "ones who vacates their bladders upon the streets". I'm not sure. I could be wrong.

I went to the hills to watch the Pagan Summer Festival. This is were a few pagans and a whole lot of hippies run around naked and painted different colors. Seriously, it was actually a beautiful ceremony. A man was dressed as the green man escorted the May queen to four circles. At each of the circles they preformed a ceramony. I went with the usual scepticism but it was very nice to watch. The only problem was that a lot of people just used it as an excuse to get drunk. So during this ceremony people were shouting and belching. Shame really.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

My new entertainment as I stroll to and from work is to wave enthuisatically to strangers on the other side of the street. Usually, they sheepishly wave back with their faces mixed between confusion, deep thought as they try to remember my face, and the friendly greeting one gives when the fool waving to you is actually known by you. Most people indulge me by waving. Maybe its the suit. Maybe we all hope to have friends that excited to spot you from across the street. Once they wave I stop, smile, and continue on my way.

P.S. Random notes on people's cars are nice too. Leave things like "You have pretty hair". Regardless of whether you have seen that person. Or important notes meant for other people. like, "Please don't invade Poland".

Thursday, April 22, 2004

As I was passing two men chatting to each other in front of a coffee shop, I over heard onf of them say "It would be heaven on earth If there wasn't any chinese poison gas". Wow! That is much better than the conversations I usually have. I must have a cup of coffee there one day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Today is sun shiny and warm. My spring insomnia is back because the days are so long my circadian rhythms are out of whack. It happens every year, and it takes about a week of sleepless nights before my head resets its clock. I stay up really late. I read. drink herbal teas and warm milk. toss and turn. lay down get. I do a lot of button clicking and read random people's blogs. I read an entry of a girl whose best friend committed suicide. The details were scarce. The entries seem directed at those already aware of the exact happenings and circumstances. It mainly expressed the normal confusion and standard reminiscences of a teenager, a child, who has met with what mortality actually entails. It happened to me when I was near her age. A friend died because of the same teenage foolishness that all teenagers practice but mostly avoid the repercussions due to luck and naivety. A car accident that left her dead, another passenger in a comma from which she would return with brain damage, and a driver with a monstrous amount of guilt and shame. I was out of town when it happen but returned before the funeral. It was the first funeral. I didn't want to go. I am a coward when it comes to anything which reminds me of mortality. I went. I didn't view the body. I had no desire to add to my few visual memories of her with that image. The tears didn't come when the family and friends gave their speeches through unsuppressible and stuttering sobs. They came when I saw the coffin lowered into the ground only then did it seem that person was gone and removed from us. I left with speaking to anyone. I wrote down everything I needed to say. In different words but they expressed the same confusion and reminiscences that I read in that anonymous girl's journal entry one thousand miles and several years removed from my experience. I anonymously left those pages upon the grave. I wanted someone else to read those words but I wanted no connection to them. I needed to express those very private thoughts but not be recognized as their source.

Friday, April 16, 2004

"Subvert the dominant paradigm." In my electronic wanderings the other day, I came across this website. It is a website devoted to public toilet literature. It was inaugurated by the author of the site with the phrase he saw on a stall wall. "Subvert the dominant paradigm." I too saw this exact phrase in the location he mentioned. Except I saw it years earlier with the addition, "What if that is the dominant paradigm?". Now, I doubt the janitor would only erase the riposte. So that means, the original author rewrote his toilet graffiti years later.

Maybe it was the janitor who was the author. He was an ex-philosophy student and one night while his mind was addled with bong inspiration he thought of his revolutionary quip. His one clever thought. Since academic journals require a 5000 word minimum, his only publishing opportunity is the toilet walls of his alma mater. Occasionally, his work is defaced by some insolent fool answering natures call. This requires him to clear the slate and reiterate his phrase. "Subvert the dominant paradigm."

Okay. That is too many entries about toilets. I will stop lest I get a reputation.

Once again two years late. I discovered blogging. At first I was apprehesive and even dismissive. I now understand the attraction. Writing your own blog is a tenth of the experience. It's almost like paying your dues. I started because I wanted to have a diary which I can access and ammend from anywhere. The real joy is the reading and the exchanges. The internet's version of 'hi. how you doin'?' as strangers pass in the street. The comments left on each other's page. BTW, I would like to have comments or a tagboard but I haven't found a reliable one with out pop ups. Any suggestions? Email me please.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Our secretary is an interesting woman. and by interesting I mean insane. Entering her office is a game of roulette. Sometimes the ball drops on 'enthusiastic extremely helpful joy upon the earth'. Other times all bets are lost and you get the devil. The woman spits fire and sulphur at any request you make.

"Can I get my payslip?"

"Why didn't you get it this morning like everyone else?"

"I... I..." I stutter, not really having an answer for her.

"The pile is over there. Get yourself." A crooked talon points past my shoulder.

"Thanks." I sheepishly offer to gain atonement for my transgression.

"Don't thank me." She snaps and returns to typing with ferocious speed.

I have developed a strategy to better my odds with this secretary. I will initiate the conversation while pretending to walk towards the copier. I start with a just a smile and a split second's worth of eye contact. This will earn me a warning in the form of tighten lips, thin red line like a paper cut and pure hate from mascara-ed lids. Or. I get a chatty greeting. Birds chirping and beams of light burning through the dissipating clouds. I then carefully submit my request which I carefully weave into friendly conversation from in front of the copier. I constantly gauge the barometer that may signal any sudden turn of weather. In her chattier moods she is an unrepentant gossip. It is almost vulgar the way she trades in inter-office politics and romances. Almost, because I too revel in this cattiness. Yes. dear readers, it is one of my vices. I am a terrible gossip. I am a nosy shit. It is not out of maliciousness that I enjoy these torrid tales of stolen kisses in the supply closet (Sadly this cliché is alive and well). I am just plain nosey. Yet, the brash way she dispenses these tid-bids of information simultaneously give me the sensation of revulsion and titillation. like licking a 9 volt.

Scene 34:

Our hero, secretary, and man from room 5.03 are in an office. Secretary is sitting at a desk in front of which are the other two actors. At the beginning of the scene man from room 5.03 enters.

Our hero:<<to man from room 5.03>> "Looking sharp today. The ladies will be chasing you."

Polite smiles all around. Man states his business to the secretary and leaves. Immediately, after the secretary turns to our hero and says in a conspiratorial tone.

Secretary: You know he's gay.

<end scene>

This is what I mean. There was no call for that. It made no difference to me. As if he was offended by my stupid joke mistakenly suggestion he would be interested in women chasing him. It was purely for the purpose of giving me that bit of gossip. When she said it I immediately thought, 'You, gossipy shit.', but I didn't complain. I quietly added that bit to my gossip scrapbook and went about my business. It's not as if I can use these tidbits as tender at the usual tea break gossip sessions. I avoid socialising at work as much as possible. I can't explain why exaclt I have an interest in second hand information concerning the same people from whom I avoid getting first hand auto-biographical information. Maybe those bytes of serendipitous information that says the most about a person. I'm not sure. I think the only acurate explanations is I too am a gossipy shit. Oh well.

Monday, April 05, 2004

"Beware the clean line.

Do not trust right angles or glossy paper.

Perfect is death. The lipless god knows this.

Perfection cannot change. It cannot grow.

Therefore, it can only be dead.

This is what they sell you in their empty cathedrals of mass consumption.
Spotless teens singing tunes written by paedophilic three piece suits.

Know them by the whites of their typesetting.

The only thing that belongs in shop windows is a brick and anger.

Go forth young ones and bury this death they vend and and let its rotting
perfection fecundate the off-centred, the home-made, the natural."


I have reproduced these words from the walls of a public toilet stall. It was
written in the most flowing calligraphic black ink. A healthy bowel movement has
been known to inspire a small amount of serenity in myself but nothing compared
to the epiphany this man experienced.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

I lived on the streets for a brief time. I was young enough for it to be more
adventure than the fearful time it should have been. The horror of seeing a
woman cut repeatedly on her arms as they fended off the boyfriend whose head had
been filled with dark chemical whispers did not fully bring its weight for me to
bear until years later when I could afford the luxury of reflection. I am still
not convinced I saw the wax-figure face of an overdose bundled like an Eskimo
baby in sheets and a sleeping bag. Even those terrible memories which tend to
haunt me between the time of closing my eyes and sleeping are not enough to
regret the life I've led. It is that life that fortifies me against taking the
pedestrian troubles of my current life too seriously. People at my office curse
the gods and their mother for the daily cruelties they must endure. These
afflictions include the adulterous boyfriend who is already abusing his second
chance or car payments that total more than their rent. perspective my dear
watson. perspective.

These people need suffering. Maybe suffering is too harsh. Maybe all it takes
is struggle. It's what gives us our humanity, no? Maybe that is why my
co-workers fabricate adversity to make themselves human again. To taste that
bitter but sustaining herb. Yet, it is an artificial struggle they have created
for themselves and is ultimately unsatisfying. nothing is satiated and
another difficulty must be fabricated. credit card debt? maybe. prescription
addiction? possibly. I keep to myself. nod when forced to listen to these
confessions pretending to be conversation. tattle to this computer.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Things I saw this week that made me smile.

A statue of Wellington whose bronze boots and been painted to look like
rubber Wellingtons. Cute.

A woman with no teeth smoking.

At a flea market stall the radio was playing a song in which some young girl
was singing a syrupy sweet song about a boy and a woman in her seventies sang
along as she sorted her used book stall. Across from her a huge bald man in a
football strip sang along too.

An odd shaped boy with all his school folders covered in black and white
copies of NASA pictures of constellations.

Friday, March 26, 2004

*Internet ate this post. This is the second attempt. Thank god it is short.

Once again someone has written my thoughts decades earlier and more purely.

"You mean to say that you can LOVE a piece of buttered toast?
only some, sir. on certain mornings. in certain rays of sunlight.
love arrives and departs without notice." -Charles Bukowski

God bless his drunk, boil-covered misogynistic dead head.

P.S. I am out of books. I need a new one. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

We have all experienced misfortune. Various disasters have visited us during this existence. Sometimes they are a direct result of our own ineptitude. Other times fate's twisted sense of humour marks us to take a fall. The latter is much easier to stomach. No bile is more bitter than our own failings realized. Occasionally, we are saved from ourselves we avoid the ache of a self-inflicted catastrophe. Remember the time you left the gas on and locked yourself out, but you also forgot to latch the window. Praise <your deity here>!

Some people call it luck. Others need something a little more active, and name guardian angels as the cause. I would side with the angels theory, but I have had the benefit of experience.

I met my guardian angel. He introduced himself. "Man, I am your guardian angel." I gave him a ride from a laundrette to a house downtown, and he told of his time fighting in Vietnam. He also told me he was my guardian angel.

When I was going to University I lived in a rougher neighbourhood. I frequented the laundrette at the corner. The laundrette was 24 hour and was always busy. Two in the morning, under-aged kids would drink from oversized beer bottles. Whole families complete with toddlers would be there listening to music pouring out of an open trunk and washing clothes. Someone at some point took exception to a particular washer. They put a hole into its face. Right between the dials. The bullet went in and must of bounced around inside because there was no corresponding exit hole on the back. The machine was there when I moved into the neighbourhood and was there when I left. I don't know why it was not replaced. Maybe it still worked. I never saw it used or tried it myself. Maybe it was the laundrette owner who shot the machine and left the corpse there as a warning to the other machines.

One night I walked out with my clean laundry about to head home. A man stopped me. He had tired eyes. The irises were as dark as the pupils. Both nestled in a tangle of thick nest of red blood vessels. The bags under his eyes seemed heavy, carrying two pennies each. Green baseball cap. T-shirt. Light blue shorts covering the top half of a pair of stick thin legs. His knees looked like tree knots, and his skin was the colour of coffee.

"Hey, man. Where you going? Can you give me a ride man? ... Man."

"I live over there. Where do you need to go?" Pointing with a motion of my laundry basket towards my apartment.

"Man. Just over off of Tuttle. You know, man. That street by Fiesta. It take you ten minutes.  ... Man." I liked the way he used the word 'man'. He used it like quotes, like punctuation, like the 'stop' of a telegram. The trailing 'man' always sounding like an afterthought to himself. An aside said out loud. He also looked like a man who wanted to be home and was not there.

"Listen. Let me drop off these clothes. I live right over there. My car is parked on the street. I'll give you a ride. Stay here. I'll be right back."

"Oh man. Thank you, man. This is great man. ... Man." A smile pulled fast and taunt against his face. He immediately sat down at the curb. "Man. Thanks." I started to walk back to drop off my basket. Behind me, "... Man." We got the car. I unlocked his side. "Man. Thanks." When I got in on my side, I was greeted with "Man." I confirmed the street we were heading to and started the engine. "Man. I want to thank you man. I am ready to be home. Man. This day was new this
morning, but its tired and old now. Man, Tired and old! ... Man."

"No problem."

"You know I was your age. I was riding my red Shwinn on my block and they took it away from me and gave me a gun. Threw me in a jungle and had me shoot people. shoot them and kill them" The message was disturbing, but I only noticed the 'man's had disappeared. The rhythm of the sentences changed. Slowed. and became heavy. Viscous.

I could only muster a non-committal and empty, "really?".

"I was a baby. They took my red Shwinn and gave me a black M-16." Nothing was said for a few traffic lights. "... Man. Thank you for giving me a ride man. My name is Edward Higgins. Man. You know what. Man, I'm your guardian angel." My eyes left the road to see his huge smile aiming directly at me. "Man. You know what. I'm setting you up. Man. I set you up with a quarter pound of weed. quarter pound! Man. Tomorrow. See that shop over there man." He pointed to a corner store as we passed it. "Tomorrow. Man. You go behind there and there will be a big ole' bag of weed waiting for you. Man. You go back there. You'll see man." To be honest at that stage of my life my guardian angel would indeed be bearing marijuana. It definitely added credibility to Ed's claim.

"Oh yeah?" The wide smile was gone and the eyes watched the road with me.

"... Man." We both watched the road. A few blocks go by and Edward broke the silence. "You see this scar?" He took off his cap, and lowered his head, tilted it toward me and pointed with a finger toward the three inch long mark on his head. "They took my bike and gave me this. I was eighteen. A baby. Never even seen a woman naked. And they wanted me to go kill. Go kill! Shit! Feel it." He put his head closer and pointed at the scar.

"Nah. that's okay." I could see beside the scar a small saucer shaped indentation. Shallow but visible under the passing street light.

"Touch it." There was a hint of command in his voice.

"Um. I'm cool." I'm flustered. I don't want to touch it, but I want to appease him.

"Touch it!" The command now carried threat and anger.

I blurted out like a defence. "Man. No thank you."

"A baby. One day I am riding my red Shwinn. Next I see nothing but blood. Red blood." He retreated back to his seat. Sadness. A voice thick with sadness. It made the air in the care uncomfortable. I rolled down the window to let it clear. A few blocks passed. "... Man. I take care of you. I'm your guardian angel. Man. I hook you up. You alright. Man. I'm your guardian angel. ...Man"

We pulled up to the house he specified. "Don't you ever come here now. Man. I take care of you, but man don't ever come to this house. Man. You remember what I told you. Man. You know where to look." He got out and before he closed the door he leaned in and said, "Man. Don't you worry. I'm your guardian angel." He flashed the smiled and shut the door with "Man." 

Friday, March 05, 2004

They say every bus has a weirdo on it. So look around. If you don't see one,
you're the weirdo.

Today it was very easy to spot the weirdo. He was the short Spanish guy
standing on the bike racks on the front grill with his hands and face pressed
against the front windshield.

He was on the bus when I got on. He made comments to each new passenger as
they collected their receipt. I was given the advice that my tie made me look
gay. I would have been offended but he was right. It could have been worse.

I sit across the bus in the same from our friend the bus commentator. When I
sat down, our friend spotted the man who was behind me.

"Aye. Look at the head on heem. hello beeg head. hello! Woo!" Big head
looked puzzled for a moment then switched to commuter-ignore. Our friend then
motioned toward me. "Did you see hees beeg head?1"

I nodded and agreed, "Frighteningly large."

"Damn Beeg". he affirmed. The other passengers were commented on in a similar
fashion. Someone was wearing, in his estimation, peeamas. I still have that word
stuck in my head. I think pyjamas should be pronounced peeamas. Just like I
think we should use the French word for sidewalks, trottoir (trottwa). Doesn't
that just sound nice. It is just a shame they wasted such a nice word on such a
boring thing. Trottoir should be the verb for the way drunks walk or small
toddlers fresh of the merry-go-round. Le enfant trattoit comme le soulard.

During the journey, the bus driver was told to 'open her up' and 'put a
little foot into it'. Clearly, we were not going fast enough for our small
friend. He occasionally pretended to drive the bus which included steering an
imaginary steering wheel, making engine noises, slapping his foot hard against
the ground and swerving at pedestrians followed swearing at them in Spanish. The
driver seems unusually untroubled by this strange human. Actually, most people
looked on in amusement. No one took offence to any of his comments. They were
ignored or received with a confused smile. A block before his stop he
dramatically pushed the button and stood up. The whole time making excited
noises like a monkey. Squeaks and hoots. The bus driver slowed and our friend
rushed towards the front and flung himself against the machine you drop your
coins in as if the force of the braking had flung him. He hopped up and down,
shouting, "I'll sue, I'll sue!" through the worlds largest grin. Without missing
a beat, the driver opened the door, and our friend immediately jumped out. The
driver closed the door, but before the bus started again or friend jumped on the
bike racks on the front grill with his hands and face pressed against the front
windshield.  "I'll sue, I'll sue!" Another instant, he was off, and the bus
was in motion. In comparison the rest of the day was rather dull, but I'm sure
everyone had something to talk about at their tea break.

1My attempt at transliterating a thick spanish accent. Sorry.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I am in love with my city. On the right days I walk her streets with the half
closed lids and crooked smile of a junky. Tourists taking photos. Their flashes
blow kisses at the gothic steeples and sooty monuments. I always stop to give
directions. I want people to go back to their respective corners of the earth
and know just a fraction of how wonderful this it is to live in this city. I
want a thousand neighbours and family friends to be bored beyond sanity with
photos and stories of my town. No city can be that nice, can it? I'm the wrong
guy to ask. I'm still infatuated with this city. Love sick with every part of
her. Its narrow alleys that dance up and down steep hills and around the corners
of ancient stone walls. The lonely castle that must sit and watch it all from
afar. The pubs with their beer and smoke breath belching onto the street. The
Sunday silence as we all collectively sleep off the night before's excesses. The
hills in which it nestles. Some nights I fill up my flask and climb the large
hill to the east. I sit upon her craggy slope and watch my city. I'll sit there
for hours and watch the traffic pump through her like lit blood cells through
vessels. The symphony of street noises. Drunks yelling. Traffic. Machinery. From
the height of the hills it sounds just like the ocean. No sound distinct from
another. Just an oceanic static. Waves of sound lap against the hill. I've
fallen asleep a few times. My legs still dangling over the edge and my clothes
damp with freezing dew. I'll walk home with the same groggy glee of spending the
night with a pretty stranger.

The city is at her finest when the thick sea fog wraps itself around the
city. Like a spider web shawl, the churches pull the atmosphere tight around
themselves. The street lights are reduced to a round grey globes of light. The
pavement becomes liquid black. The air is cold and tastes salty and a chill
bites and reddens the hands. Those are the nights I find a barstool near the
window, and write words like these.

Monday, February 02, 2004

The rapture has already happened. While you and I slept, God opened the sky, put two fingers to his lips and gave a sharp whistle to call his flock home. There was one problem. Not one person was called up. That's not true. There was one guy named Tanek on a farm near Olsztyn, Poland. The only soul pure enough to immediately take his seat in the empty bleachers of heaven. His brother, Jakub, will come by to make his monthly visit. He'll set the groceries and the bottle of Vodka on the kitchen table. He'll call his brother's name. He'll search the house. He'll find his bed clothes tucked in beneath the covers. Phone calls will be made. The heads of officials will be scratched and the search will fail. Eventually, Jakub will mourn above an empty grave whose stone carries Tanek's name and dates. This will be the only hint of the rapture that occurred. Now, we are living on borrowed time. God has only to grab his celestial broom and sweep the rest of us under the rug. We are lucky he is a lazy deity. Lazy? Of course. He was a busy bee in the beginning. He knocked out the universe in a week. He took a day's rest and then he was right back on the clock. Four thousand years, God was banishing, smiting, and plaguing left and right. Two thousand years ago, he decided to delegate some work to his son and we all know how wrong that went. Lately, the most he can muster is teasing South American Catholics by making statues bleed or actually curing the child of a believer of faith-healing. Parlour tricks by omnipotent being standards. If our Lord was more proactive, we would have already been knee deep in molten sulphur. My guess is the big guy knows we are our own punishment. Eventually, our luck will run out and all this fooling around with Mutual Assured Destruction will finish the job he can be bothered to do himself. We'll go just like two teenage boys who let a knife fight go too far and fall into oblivion with nothing but a look of disbelief.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

I just mailed the president of Nigeria my broken toaster. It was actually quite expensive to ship. I put the letter down in one of the slots. It stuck out like an untoasted slice of white bread.

President Olusegun Obansanjo
Federal Secretariat
The Presidency Phase II
Shehu Shagari Way
Abuja, Nigeria

Dear Olusegun Obasanjo,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the financial opportunities your countryman have offered to me this past year. Unfortunately I could not take advantage of these business ventures. It seems like a national crisis that all these wealthy Nigerians cannot access their millions without the help of random foreigners. The reason I could not help them is that I keep most of my savings in my underwear drawer. Shh! That is a secret between me and you, Olusegun. Don't tell Minister Isa Yuguda (link is not the actual honourable Mr. Yunguna but a close facsimile). I saw a picture of him on the web. I don't trust a man that wears a hat like that. You know I'm talking about. What a Freak! Anyway, here's my toaster, treat her well. Her name is Shirley.


Earnest Borgnine

Alright kids, feel free to follow my good example and send your broken appliances to other national leaders. The internet is full of wonderful information. Don't just throw things away. Post them to strangers!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

On the radio, the topic of blogs and diaries was discussed by the usual self-important voices. One woman dismissed the majority of blogs for the same reasons I did a few entries ago. We differed in opinion on their historical and artistic significance. She was hopeful that the transitory nature of the web would allow these vacuous vanities fade back into the ether of bits and bytes. I disagree. I am sure the first Elizabethans were as self-absorbed and shallow as the authors I and the woman on the radio were complaining about. I am fascinated by the dull everyday musings of anonymous strangers. The other day I read a few entries from a house wife. Every entry was complaining about each of the other household members. Little Johnny left his snow boots at school. If the husband says, “you should have. . .” she is going to punch him. The woman filled her journal with nothing save for very uninteresting and even inarticulate complaints about these two males in her life. There was an interesting affection threaded through the lines of criticism. It was as if only through fault-finding that she could express her love for others. How do you express something for which you do not have the vocabulary? In speech we do it with inflection. ‘I love you’ can be a sinister threat when said with a menacing tone. So, why couldn’t the daily grumblings of a house wife not be the incantations of motherly adoration.
There is art and life in there. My guess is radio lady was raised on a diet of Titian and Shakespeare and she is unable to recognise worthy art unless it is clearly labelled and pre-digested for her

Monday, January 19, 2004

I didn’t write last week. I tried to take a more dedicated approach to my work. Since I spend the majority of my waking life there, I thought it a good idea. I am still paying the consequences. I will write more about it later this week. I am still processing all that happened.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Passion and Purpose.
This is foremost upon my mind at regular intervals of the day. I work with people full of both. The enthusiasm with which they discuss the most inconsequential minutia of work place trivial staggers my mind. I cannot help being envious. They have found the grail we all seek.
Life if anything is unreasonable1. Two words prove this point. Paediatric Oncology. Yet, we as living creatures still attempt to divine or impose reason and purpose to an existence which clearly has no interest in colouring within the lines. I have tried to find purpose. I sought it in religion, but once you look behind the curtain, the wizard of God is not so frightening and all powerful. Like some of my co-workers, others find it in their vocation. I think they have it right. If you know the universe doesn’t give bonus points for being something we humans hold in esteem (i.e. world leader, holy man, celebrity, or sports star), then why shouldn’t mail clerk be a trade worthy of single-minded devotion. Why is pretending you are a discontented office worker on TV more interesting than being a discontented office worker in an office? Why is the perfected placement of a staple upon a page less worthy of a gallery wall than the conceptual art which usually pollutes those spaces? There is still a part of me that can’t buy it. I can’t see the work I do as anything more than moving this bit of paper from one tray to another. Even if I ignored society’s valuations, I would still rank my work quite low. Street sweepers and zamboni drivers would definitely gain some ranking. Those things are cool.
Again I have scrawled questions which rattle around my head but never seem to answer themselves. Maybe, today I will force passion and purpose into my daily work. We shall see.

1 This is the second time I have used 'life is'. I will try to refrain from this in the future. This is also the second time I have used a footnote. I will not refrain from this. They are fun.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Life is monotonous, no? Even international spies have to shave, eat breakfast, defecate, and all the other daily activities that save oneself from being a hungry, hairy, constipated human being. This daily tedium forces certain compulsions. For me behaving in a socially acceptable manner when presented with the multitude of everyday tasks is like holding a bit of elastic and at every conditioned response to the world the tension is increased. The tension becomes more and more difficult to bear and the only way this tension is relieved is by reacting in a more natural way. For me, the natural response is rarely the acceptable one. To maintain an acceptable level of tension between what makes me content and what keeps me from being arrested, I have a few little flourishes to me daily existence.

  1. I sign everything ‘cookie monster’. Credit cards, legal documents, anything. This has never been a problem. Cashiers still check the back of my card against the ‘cookie monster’ scrawled upon the receipt. Once again I think it’s the suit. My badge of respectability. ‘Well, if the nice man’s name is ‘cookie monster’, who am I to argue. After all, they wouldn’t let a fraudster wear a suit.’

  2. I overreact to every leaflet hander, Garunga1 and petitioner that approaches me on the street. The Garungas won’t approach me anymore. I think it was the repeated and enthusiastic shouts of ‘Cowabunga’ from across the street and the insistence on piggy back rides. To the question, ‘would you like to sign our petition’, I usually shake my head violently, shout ‘no!’, and clench my head like it’s about to explode.

  3. I lie when it is not neccesary. ‘How was your day?’ ‘Terrible. My dog Shakey died.’ ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ ‘Thanks. What the hell am I going to do with a half
    full bag of dog food? You want it?’ ‘Uh. No. thanks.’

  4. I act suspicious in stores. When I am in a shop by something, for example socks, I don’t just carry them to the check out. I act like I am going to steal the socks. I look around cautiously and then furiously shove the socks down the front of my trousers. I give another furtive glance around me, and then proceed to continue shopping nonchalantly. It really makes the security guards day. I like to get two or three following me and whispering into their walkie-talkies before I get into the checkout queue with the suspicious bulge in my pants and the rest of my shopping.

1. Garungas are the Hindu Amway. They try to sell you books and music with the ferocity of telemarketers. They usually prey on old ladies who will give them a bit of change just to get them to leave her alone. The only way to placate them is to say the word, ‘Garunga’. Which I think is some sort of binding contract for your soul. P.S. does your online journal have footnotes? I don’t think so.

Monday, January 05, 2004

I have an uncle that lives in the middle-of-nowhere Texas. If you've been to Texas you the place I am talking about. 90% of the state is in the middle of nowhere. There must be something in the water in the middle-of-nowhere. About once a month, a crazed aging white man with a gun goes nuts in the middle-of-nowhere Texas. Sometimes, this guy will have friends, and they'll starting shooting at the friendly FBI agent or telephone repairman or anal probe wielding alien. Those three being prime examples of the agents of a vast conspiracy of non-white non-Christian yadda yadda yadda. Well, the uncle in question is not a dues paying member of such theories but he has tendencies and it’s only a matter of time before the late night phone calls to AM radio talk shows begins. Occasionally, I get emails from him. Usually, forwards with quick notes to illustrate the points of interest. Sometimes, they are musings about life which could be summed up by one of two headlines 'Your life is shit because Jesus hates you' or 'wash your hands because killer germs will eat your face'. Today's correspondence was a forward. It was the same story I mentioned in my last post. This was unnerving for me, because we both shared a reaction to the world. It is my belief that despite sharing a measure of DNA, there was nothing that connected me to this man. Yet, there is something in our outlook on life that made us pause and reflect on the same piece of news. I forwarded my reaction to this online diary. He forwarded his to everyone on two continents that share his last name. His reflection upon the news was different, 'I told you they build foreign woman sturdier', but the catalyst for reflection was the same as me. Is this an early sign that I am only a decade away from leaving civilisation, building a house, and emailing paranoid missives? Wait am I being paranoid about becoming paranoid? Jesus send me some duck tape, the alien Jews want to impregnate me.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

A 90 year old woman was found alive in the rubble from an earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people eight days ago. Her first request was for a cup of tea. I feel there is a lot of wisdom in that simple statement. What do you do after a terrible tragedy? Start living again.