Friday, 26 June 2009


Funny, that the conservatism of right-wing Christians is rooted in the philosophies and teachings of one of the greatest liberals that ever lived. Hilarious.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


Kurt Vonnegut wrote in 2007 that the Great Depression "was so bad, white people had to raise their own kids."

And it got me thinking: looking at the history of European and North American middle and upper class, they usually had maids, nannies, slaves, butlers. It was customary not to raise their own children. Which means, it's not in our blood or in our history to have close familial ties.

And I look at African families, Aboriginal traditions, South American traditions – all that – that supported strong familial bonding. Bonding within the community, where children aren't raised by their parents alone but by entire villages. Not always, but sometimes.

Just a thought...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Office

So, suddenly you stare out the window of your office and the trees are bending in your direction. The wind is pushing them and when it settles, the trees bend back into place. They look like they're calling you over, like your mother might with her pointer finger.

And you want to follow the pull of the foliage finger. To run out the tree and amble up it. To feel the bark like dry skin between your fingers. The little knobs that'll scratch your shins, make them bleed. To climb to the top and look down at below. To holler something unintelligent. Anything at all.

You want to but the call of responsibility is keeping you set in your seat. You have documents to file, pages to type. Emails to respond to. People in collars with motives different than your own to converse with in order to "get the ball rolling" or to "get things done" or to "slate that fucker."

Never mind that for now. Your eyes relaxed. Vision a blurred impression of what reality's supposed to be. Like when you were young, lying in the back seat of the van, on trips or whatnot, gazing absently at the window as the scene scrolling past in rambling colours. When nothing was defined. You or your world. Soft shapes and everything was light.

Ah. Follow the pulling finger of the tree outside your window. Ignoring your computer. Of the voices of others. People talking business. Blocking out the sound of telephones ringing.

Your telephone. Ring. Ring. Rrrrrriiiiiiiinnnnggggg.


"This - is - an - automated - message - from - the - Vancouver - Public - Library -"


The trees stopped moving. You blink, refocus your vision. Eyeballs dry and itchy. Look at the clock. 12:20. Lunch. Open your top desk drawer. You eat that Snickers and savour it like you're seven.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Curse This City: B-Line @ 2:30 p.m.

I could have taken the 22 right to my house but no. I can sneak on the B-Line for free – bless this city.

The back door opens and there're a dozen Asian children staring, slate-faced and blinking. I push through them to find a seat but the only one's in the middle of two fat peoples – a man and a woman. Plop between the two and the woman nudges over the best she can. Gives me a good-natured smile.

The man keeps his wide set thighs spread wide, well into my personal space. I consider asking him to please shift but the scowl on his face + the skull and flames bicep tattoo + the 100 or so scars criss-crossing up and down both arms indicate to me I better leave him be.

The bus is stuffy. The sun outside is beating hotter every-second and I'm already sticky from the heat. Naturally, the mass of human warmth improves nothing.

The children are yipping and screaming, crowding what little space there is on the back of the bus. Their voices are pre-pubescent and piercing. As people get off and more pile on at the next stop, the crowd shifts and swells until there're four small children pressed up against me. One little girl in a pink sweat suit is pressed against my knee, almost on top of it. This is awkward and unnerving.

"Excuse me," I say. "Little girl? Excuse me."

But she's saying something in Cantonese to her friend, speaking at a high volume over the cacophony. The doors open to let more people out and more people in.

The crowd shifts again and the little girl ends up between my legs. My anxiety swells and I try to push her back into the crowd – not too forcibly, of course – but she doesn't seem to notice. She doesn't seem to care that she's standing between the legs of an absolute stranger.

It's too much. I poke her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, can you please move over just a little bit?"

She nods, tries to move but the crowd is so dense that I can just barely squeeze my right knee around her. Now I'm sitting sideways, bunched in the fetal position with my hands locked between my thighs and the good-natured fat lady's. And the bus lurches ever onward. A bead of sweat drips from my bangs and slowly – so slowly – rides the bridge of my nose, down the bulb and hangs there for a few seconds. I can't wipe it away – the bus is too crowded. It finally drops and it lands on my lips. It takes like a saltine cracker.

Bottom Line: Three "Curse This City"'s means I may be a pessimist after all.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Curse This City: Bus Stop People

A man sits slumped on the stairs of a downtown building, Gauze taped to his forearms at four spots. Cigarette hanging from his lips, clutching the pack of Player's Light with his left hand – the flesh scarred and wrinkled. Track marks red as lipstick running in sporadic lines to the crook of his arm.

He stands up, looks around. Eyes glassy, confused. Red and irritated. He rubs at them. Rubs his arms, traces his bloated veins with a finger. Hunched over and swaying, he tries to walk down the stairs but he lurches instead. Too incapacitated to move, so he sits back down. Let's the smoke fall from his lips. Mouth agape, starting to drool.

And every person passing by stares as they walk. Nobody offering assistance.

He's a sight. He's a gimmick. Someone unfortunate to pit. Someone to compare and resolve their own failures. Because it could always be worse.

And no one lends a helping hand. We get on the bus and we're gone.

Bottom line: I'm just as bad.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

An Exaggeration

The sun is melting your face. Your skin will start to peel. The dust in the air is causing a brutal tickle in your throat, so you take a sip of your beer. The $9 beer you've been clutching for a half-hour now because you can't afford another – and the line's too long at the beer booth anyway. You take that sip and it's warm. Some pseudo-hippie with a bronze tan, wearing short-shorts and nothing else walks up to you, puts his arm around you. He's sweaty and sticky from a round in the crowd at the main stage. You had seen him there, hugging another man dressed just like him. He's smoking a spliff now – takes a pull and he says, “Did you see the Decemberists?” You shake your head, terribly confused by this hippie's strange behaviour. He smells like apples and you don't know why. He continues: “I always thought they sounded like a wistful winter's evening but, shit, they rocked the house!” He takes his arm off yours, passes you his joint. You take it – not because you enjoy drugs but because this is a $300, 3-day music festival and you're gonna take it for all that it's worth. He walks away without a word and you wipe the sweat off your brow with a yellowing handkerchief. The racket of some band you've never heard floats above the the scene, carried in with the breeze, and you think: This is all very weird.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Daily Wisdom #1

To be bored means you must be a boring person. Or have boring sensibilities.

If you're imaginative enough, creative enough or personable enough, there's unlimited resources to keep every single one of us stimulated, always and forever.

Does writing this make me pretentious? Let's see a show of hands...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Curse This City: Tinseltown McDix

I'm holding a $15 in my hand while I'm waiting to purchase my two cheeseburgers (and thus, my happiness) and a homeless lady asks:

"Can I have some money for an ice cream."

She sees the money, so I say: "I'll buy you an ice cream."

"Ok," She says. "Actually, can you buy me a small milk shake instead?"

I don't answer. I'm then bum-rushed by two others seeking the same treatment. Cold shoulders for both.

One of the newbies asks the other customers for spare change. The ice cream lady pushes her, says: "Get out of here. I was here first."

Then she turns to me and says: "Now that's just rude."

Friday, 5 June 2009

Conundrum #2

How many times can one person thank another before it becomes useless?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Class of '09

Look at it. It's a whole new era. Feel it. The wind has flung wide open and with it comes change.

North American social institutions are either evolving or on the verge of collapsing: the daily newspapers, automobile companies, international money markets. My generation stands on the stoop.

We will be the purveyors of advancements in culture, economics and technology. These will be our children, born from perseverance, intellect and creativity. We are the Fulcrum Generation: the first to be raised knowing the errors of our mothers and fathers, but also with the knowledge of how to fix it. Once we step through that door, the world will follow with us.

And that wind is howling. The door banging heavily against the frame as the wind rushes through, carrying with it the howls of the dead lost to their mistakes.

And I stand on that stoop, along among many.

And yeah...I'm also frightened.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Bless This City: The Bank

It's actually a credit union, but bank has less syllables.

Anyway, Coast Capital is the best. Not because they offer free accounts. Nor is it because of the unlimited (and free) debit card transactions. Nor is it that their facilities are uber-modern and pseudo-hip, lacking cubicles and utilizing the wide open space so everybody can see everybody.

No. It's the best because I heard the Grateful Dead playing softly on the P.A. while I waited to cash my cheque for $20. Casey Jones is still high on cocaine but now he's sharing it with the suits in Corporate Haven.

I wonder what Phil Lesh has to say about that.

Bottom Line: TD plays QMFM, which means more Faber Drive, which equals less of me.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Mikhail Lennikov

It's an interesting story. He should probably be allowed to stay. He seems nice enough.

But that's not what I'm writing about. CBC online posted the story, of course, and the list of reader comments is insane. The "for deportation" arguments are by far the minority, which is the most interesting aspect of this story.

As dicky_barrett posted, "Canada was always a haven for people who sought peace from opressive forces." And with that, a national mentality of compassion and forgiveness has developed that makes Canada a unique and attractive place to live.

The arguments for deportation all seem naive and – I hate to speculate but I will anyway – probably the opinions of crusty Baby Boomers. Like this fellow, PeterAndTheWolf, who says: "Officer Lennikov's ability to shift blame is astonishing: someone else, but not him, should "explain to Dmitri". Infamous KGB trait - shifting the blame."

Well, it's easy to judge a man without knowing him. Also, shifting blame isn't exclusive to the KGB but all of humanity. Anyone with experience with children will know that.

But really, people are getting all riled up over this IDEA without ever knowing who this Lennikov even is. What does he do for a living here? Does he mooch of the social welfare or is he a law-abiding tax-payer? Does he like the taste of dog meat? Because if so, maybe he should be deported...

My point being that given the angle of media coverage, they seem to be asking for us to sympathize with this man. But we have no idea who he is or what he's all about.

Bottom line: Everyone is wrong, as usual.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Curse This City: Toilet Stalls

I'm busy in the toilet stall of a local coffee house. It's covered with the usual sort of graffiti and faux-intellectual comments as any public restroom.


Which doesn't make much sense, of course, but it certainly provokes thought.

And then I read this: "Anglo Canada is IRRELEVANT," which is quite a silly thing to write next to a Vancouver 2010 sticker.

This leads me to believe that toilet stall inscriptions are the product of one of two things. Either:

1) all reason and logic are suspended while the body relieves itself, or

2) the average public restroom user is a moron.

I'm inclined towards the latter. Public restrooms are nasty, gnarly places that only weak in thought will consider using unless absolutely necessary. And that would explain this nugget of wisdom:

"Sitting in my pau-pau tree, will they make mango mush out of me?"

Bottom Line: toilet stalls make for great morning reading.