Seen to Be Seen
I have been reacting to the reactors. We have become much more keyed in to our technology than at any time in our history. A bus or subway ride in the morning is a parade of the plugged in and the texted out, along with the gamers and the surfers exercising their thumbs. This creates an interesting distance between us, besides the usual one we all live with in order to stay sane. It is impossible to have a conversation or even an idle chat with people who are in a co-dependent relationship with a screen. And I am beginning to think that we are feeling the distance, post-Covid, post-quarantining, and post-everything else faced in the last three years. This may explain why, on video-sharing web sites, there are so many groups of people who come together and share their emotions with the larger, unseen but well-connected public. This is the reason why the reaction video is now having a special moment in our lives.
A Trip to England (Part III)
There are moments in your life that cloud things; that make things seem so difficult to comprehend that you just do not deal with them in a way that would seem proper. I was given that photograph of my half-sister and kept it hidden in a drawer from any curious eyes in my house. I did not mention it or even hint at it until my mother confessed that she knew all about her and we both realized that two lies were living in the same house. As I think about that scene between us, I realize that I would not believe it if I had heard about it from a friend (not even the film studios of Hollywood could have imagined such things). But it was too real and made me more aware of what was true and what was imaginary. I paid more attention to the racist graffiti I saw on an embankment wall as we travelled to a cricket match (contrasted with a wheat field that appeared like liquid gold, it was startling to see an attitude so honest). I noted that fruit sold in the markets came from South Africa. This was during apartheid and I made a point of buying a t-shirt that recommended that one Boycott South African Goods. I then looked carefully around that neighbourhood. Cramped homes, grey weather, narrow and mugger-friendly lanes and walls, appalling programs on TV (comedy specials seemed to have to volume of the audience turned way up for the weakest jokes) and I have already commented on the food.
A Trip to England (Part II)
It is hard for me to accept how naïve I was about life in London, even at the age of fourteen. I unpacked my bags and filled up her front room with my collection of music tapes. This was my first mistake and a sign that I did not know the culture I was in. I was listening to mostly progressive or light rock (Genesis and Supertramp were personal favourites). My mistake was sharing this so publicly. I had a Walkman, but I sometimes insisted on playing these records on her stereo. What I mean by saying this is that I did not understand the culture I was in and that I was out of step with what I thought I knew from those exports I mentioned (most of my recordings were made by British groups and record companies).
A Trip to England (Part I)
When I was fourteen, I was sent to visit part of my family in London, England. It was in the summer of 1988 and I do not know why I was sent at that particular time. We had just moved into a new house (this would be our last move after years of changing apartments and houses around the same city). Perhaps my mother felt that I would be used to another change in my location and had enough experience travelling to take such a trip. I had already seen parts of the Caribbean on different plane trips with my family and we had taken part in a long trip by car from our home to a friend’s place in California. The trip to England would be another stamp on my passport.
Why do I hate that city so much? I know that I am not alone with this. Many of my fellow Canadians have very strong opinions about T.O., Hogtown, the Economic Heart of Canada…and That Place. But there is no hate like the hate that grows and festers like the one from someone who lives in close proximity to that town.
Sex with Superheroes
I was put on the spot with this one. Imagine it for a moment: you are a student, attempting to impress an editor with an idea for an article you think will truly knock it out of the park, and you come up with the idea of playing out a fantasy involving fictional characters with plenty of 'what-ifs'. And yes, I did come up with a list that I felt was the best representation of what we all suspect and choose not to explore. And that editor was not impressed...but I was. And I still am. And I hope you can be once I state my case for each figure and try to judge them by some pretty fair criteria.
Why I Still Write...
Do not whine… Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone. - Joan Didion Here I am, staring at the blank page and coming up with another idea for an online piece that will be posted on Vocal with the hope that it will become popular, read widely, maybe even viral. I know that the odds are against me, and yet I still do this. I find a way to sit down and stare down a blank white rectangle that does not care either way if I decide to search for porn or create another poem, essay, list or story (my usual choices). And sometimes I wonder why.
Some Thoughts about Sainthood
What is a saint? My childhood in the Catholic Church and school system taught me that saints were chosen by the Vatican, and that the people who were canonized were men and women who were selfless, kind, brave, and possessed of traits that most of us mere mortals simply did not have. One other factor that should be mentioned: those saints only qualified after they were dead. There was no possibility that any of them would object to the title or even run for it while they were still alive. Miracles and testimonials had to be provided supporting their cases and then decision were made on high by other experts. I believed that this was the only way to choose a saint. This seemed right.
Rumpole and My Unfair Thoughts
It has been said that you can lie all you want in non-fiction, especially in the autobiographical form, but that it is impossible to lie in fiction. This has been an interesting contradiction that allows the reader to learn a great deal about certain writers that those authors may prefer to keep hidden in their own thoughts, not exposed on the bare page. And with this thought in mind, I want to talk about Rumpole of the Bailey.
California, Here I Was
Here we are, at the beginning of another autumn. Kids are back in school, leaves are still hanging on, the temperature is falling, and everyone I know is still trying to get every last drop of summer before it runs out (half the people are still in shorts in my neighbourhood). I am wondering, quite seriously, how I am going to pay my rent at the end of the month – a lot of money will have to be moved around and begged for – and considering how this could coincide with my birthday (a terrible coincidence). And with all of this in mind, I have let the mind wander.
Why do sacred cows make the most delicious meat? I have had many unthinkable thoughts about certain issues in literature that I have longed to share, but I am Canadian, and as such, we are conditioned to view literature as another form of “nation-building,” meaning that we should all be in this together for the team and not point a finger at what is glaringly obvious (our emperors are always fully dressed). And I believed this for a very long time. I thought that the best thing to do was to go along with the herd and try to accept the received opinions and general views of our novels and writers. It was certainly easier to believe that our talent was ignored by the ignorant and that we were writing work that deserved to be compared with the greats. It really was an easy way to go…until it wasn’t anymore.
What I Did Before My Summer Vacation
It was all my fault. I saw her arm rise, bent and coming up fast, with the fingers tight in what looked like a claw more than a fist and her face was beyond tense. Like she knew what she had to do. I was happy about that because I thought that I deserved what ever she had to dish out, since I had been a dumbass for most of the year. She was only responding with anger to my mistakes, doing what I may have done (shoe and the other foot). At least we dated.