Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blogstar Man gets the North Pole Blues


Now, it's been quite a while since I've posted anything on the blog. I want to thank my half dozen loyal readers for their patience. I've been scribbling in the journal, but haven't posted anything for quite a while. I hope that I can put something up once a week, now that I'm no longer distracted by work in the film biz. I suppose that I could cut and paste anywhere in the journal, but since I'd just posted a video on You Tube, that I'd taken toward the end of September, I'll start there. After all, what is time, in the life of the soul? I forgot who used to say that. It was back in those days when we spent a lot of time on some sort of psychedelics, when comments like that could be pondered for half an infinity, peyote time.
Before I even try to dabble in the metaphysical, as certain people call it, I'll try to cut in the section from my journal. I hope to put up a copy of the video, that I'd taken with a friend's borrowed digital camera, which I had to delicately balance on an empty beer glass, which I placed on top of a paperback version of The Subterraneans by Kerouac, that my kid had bought at the trendy used bookstore in the neighborhood, and lent me. And, I'd like to put up another picture of the church from the apartment window. Although, the leaves on my maple tree have turned and are mostly blown away, this being the eve of Halloween, I'd like to post a mid-summer photo. The next post, I'll try to put in a shot more in keeping with the season....

And now, I’m sitting at the Café Depanneur. It’s the last day of September, but it feels more like the last day of November. We had a few weeks of extraordinarily beautiful summer weather, then an abrupt change. Today, I’m wearing about six layers of clothing and am still cold. However, at this very moment, I’m sitting listening to Catherine singing, along with Oreste on the drums, Adrien on the bass and some young phenomenon on the piano. Suddenly, the morning gloom has lifted through the magic of music. And when I speak of the morning gloom, what could be worse than waking up to a cold and gloomy morning than the racket of a roofing operation moving in next door-the thunderous roar of heavy machinery, a monstrous crane big enough to evacuate the upper floors of a downtown high-rise, along with a generator that causes the building to shake, and a deafening jackhammer, combined with the sickening smell of hot tar.
And, I seemed to take twice as long to get out the door, trying to find some fall clothes, ironing some old pants, then making a breakfast that will fill me up so that I’m not tempted to eat in a resto and spend more of my dwindling monetary resources. So, I chop a few potatoes and throw them in the toaster oven, while making an omelet, with green onions, mushrooms, sharp cheddar from Fromagerie Jose on the corner, and the last tomato from my garden…meaning that I had to stand around for a while paralyzed with indecision over how I wanted to enjoy my last garden tomato, before I’m back to eating those engineered numbers with the labels-(S238748).."I wonder whether I want to save it for a salad, or just throw it in the omelet. Goodbye, last garden tomato, into the omelet you go."
Back home on the coast, I would have had another month of tomatoes, and the garden would have been composted with seaweed and some chicken shit from Mr. Perry’s hens which he keeps under the house so he can sell the eggs to top off his pension. And now, I have a little garden plot, in the middle of a community garden fenced in by the railroad racks on one side, the city equipment shed on one, the ball field on another, and now, a hundred car parking lot on the other…a parking lot that had been a soccer field. But, it’s Quebec, and I can imagine that the soccer moms had bitched about the lack of parking space, so they tarred over the field and painted some white lines and set up a toll booth. The heart of the separatist political elite, adding more blackspace to the area. Maybe I’ll vote green, if they promise to turn the parking lot back into a soccer field.
Then I go next door to the corner store to buy cream for my coffee with my last five, come home and notice that I can’t find the change, which would have been enough for a latte at this café…so, I head off to the bank machine up the street, realizing that I should have worn a winter coat…get to the machine a couple of blocks away, only to see the ATM screen announce-Hors Service-Out of Order….then I have to go off in the direction of Outremont to find another machine, since the bank machines are all located in rich neighborhoods now, or near shopping malls. It’s another one of those irritating days brought on by the realization that all that greenery and color that made living in the city bearable, will soon be stripped away, like a scene from a Lem novel, to reveal the raw ugliness of the human creations. Soon I’ll be treated to the site of flat-topped brick buildings adorned with satellite dishes, the artificial ponds in the Outremont parks will be drained, revealing the asphalt underpinnings. Half the population will be plotting, scheming and conniving a way to spend the winter in some cheap, tropical location, surrounded by the same chain-linked fences that surround my garden plot….
Anyhow, it was just a string of minor irritants, really. I’ve been in worse straights. Whenever I start to feel discouraged, cold, aching all over, prospects of facing at least six months of cold, I try to remember that time I’d been out on a sailboat for a week in a northeast gale in October, a hundred miles off the Atlantic coast, in a boat half full of water, soaked to the bone, with waves breaking over the fifty foot mast. But, sometimes in extreme circumstances, in wild, wet cold, white knuckling the wheel , wind shrieking through the shrouds, lost in the gloom with only the pink glow of the compass binnacle , trying to hold the corkscrewing boat heading due south ….these moments have the potential to experience extremes of joy, exaltation, magic.
In Montreal, the magic, whatever hasn’t been bulldozed and homogenized in the name of corporate progress, is more subtle. Here I am, back at the Café Depanneur, a few years after the reign of Sylvain, the original owner. I even had hung a painting in here then, the self-portrait in oils which Sylvain took down in a moment of paranoia. But, that’s another story. What I’d like to do right now, is to post a new blog, which I haven’t done in months, due mainly to having been body and mind-snatched by my daughter signing me up on Facebook, then MSN Messenger, which Greg bugged me to sign on to, when he really meant for me to open Media Player. Plus, I’d been getting film work for the first time in a couple of years. It’s funny, but when you’re wondering where your next buck is coming from, you really appreciate getting a days work, which will pay at least a couple of hundred for spending most of your time sitting on your butt, possibly reading a book, and if things work out well, chatting up some interesting young lovely, usually a Russian immigrant. More on that to come.
I'll now link up to the video. Just press on the (touch) button.I hope that you appreciate the painting of BB King behind Adrien. Symmetry, n'est ce pas? Of course, there's an Amerindien painting, although looking more like a Lakota Sioux, rather than a Cree or Innuit, or Mohawk which one runs into here. But, that's one of the drawbacks of shopping mall art, the lack of a local (touch).



Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fourth Dimension and Pebble Poops


Now, I've been trying to post the next installment of the blog, but have run into the usual difficulties of someone of my generation who started writing with an old mechanical typewriter and still has no idea what to do with ninety-nine per cent of the stuff on my new Windows program. I have a couple of small vignettes that I've cut and pasted from the journal. The only thread to these is that I often receive a late night call from my daughter, and it's just after I've smoked the ritual late night joint, where I'm trying to salvage a day devoted to procrastination, basic survival, and finding new and creative ways to kill time. I gather from the first piece, that it was about five years ago, when my daughter was sixteen. I have a couple of other posts that are more recent.
Now, I've tried a couple of times to put up the post, and then....well, the last time I was posting, the ceiling light, one of those Made In China dollar store specials, literally blew up, and it being the darkest room in the apartment, I attempted to climb this ladder, some rickety old wooden number that looked like it had been in the landlord's family for generations, and while trying to retrieve the remains of the light bulb from the socket, I ended up destroying the ceiling fixture... and found myself biking up to the local Canadian Tire Store during rush hour, a hair raising ride even in the off hours. Needless to say, the mood was ruined.
Anyhow, I'll try to post the excerpt, along with a picture I took of the view out the window next to my desk, comprising a view of the dome of the nearby church, and a branch or two of the old maple tree in front.


The Fourth Dimension and Pebble's Poops

Anyhow, for some reason, I’m trying this silly program…after one of those very frustrating days…even more frustrating than the other days…in fact, most of my days in this city have been frustrating…starting with the local populace…well, first, this PROGRAM…on the computer was acting up…and it gave me all sorts of grief…the revenge of the machines…as I said on Ollie’s message…or Tom’s maybe…it’s like having this Stealth bomber, but I can’t figure out how to get it off the ground…so, it’s just sitting on the street collecting parking tickets…

That kind of analogy…then, I make a few calls…leave messages…the only two

Computer literate people I know…Tom, the best bet…and Carol…well, it’s Carol that calls back…Carol who was born and raised here..one of a few Montreal Jewish Princesses I know…her father is a doctor…not just a doctor, but Austrian/Jewish- Herr Freud type…and he’s already diagnosed Carol as a schizophrenic…talk about self-esteem issues…

Anyway, I’d been reading the web pages about Time as the Fourth Dimension…and it had brought certain things into focus…about how this erroneous timing..this industrial age calendar…devised, or revised by some Caesar…well, Julius, right…the only thing that Caesar got right was the salad…anyhow, this Time as Money reality is destroying the planet…it’s eating up all of us…like this computer Stealth Bomber…

And, I said to Carol, (all the while continuing my string of Solitaire victories), did you ever wonder why squirrels seem to know, along with skunks and lots of other animals, when to grow their coats longer than usual…

“Because they’re genetically programmed to do it…”

Carol’s response…and it was good for every single case of plant or bird or animal telepathy…genetic program…just like…let me guess…computer programs…and, I tried to ask whether she actually could help me out with this program…well, she didn’t know..

Anyway, she gave me all the local gossip that I hadn’t picked up, since I’ve gone semi-underground…about having a fight with her friend…so and so…whose no longer talking to her…or with Trina, whose no longer talking to her either, because she’s afraid Carol wants her boyfriend…and then into the guys…and so and so…

-you know him…Frank.

-which Frank? There’s a half dozen Franks in the place…

-the one you had this fight with…

-well, not really a fight…oh yeah…he’s one of the desperate newspaper hogs…he’s always scowling, grumpy…

-well, not with me…oh, I hear that Genevieve wasn’t such a nice person…Oh?…yes, I can’t remember who told me..somebody…oh, yeah, Marco…

-Marco?

-No not that one, the Latin guy…

-you mean the scowling character with the pony tail, from Chili…with the El Topo/gaucho cowboy hat, that Marco?

-Yes,…well I know that you don’t get along with him…

-well, Carol, he did once threaten to break his wine bottle over my head, but not before challenging me to pull out my prick to see whose was bigger…”

-yes, I know he can be a bit much, But, he’s Always nice to me…”

-Yes, he does have a thing for the ladies…true…

Anyhow, Carol…have got to run, o.k.….

Off to the store to buy butter…go through a little vignette that would only happen at Marche Latina…it’s a yuppie Depanneur…of course, those who don’t live in Montreal…a Depanneur is one of those corner stores, selling mostly beer, and junk food, along with vastly overpriced essentials…

Anyhow, if you don’t feel like walking a few extra blocks and dealing with the Park Avenue traffic, always horrific, but more so with the bus strike..there, you’ve got cashiers that are more simpatico…mostly girls from East India, that part of the world…Bangladesh…minimum wage, don’t identify with the boss too much…cut you slack whenever you need it…

But, here I am at the Marche Latina…and I’m going to get the butter, thinking what the hell it’s probably about twenty cents more…not worth the extra hassle…so, I go through the bin looking at butter…mostly twenty or thirty cents more for half a pound…but, ah ha, I found one for two thirty nine…forty cents cheaper…walk over to the check-out lines..there are two and it’s crowded, and you have these bobos lined up…as they call themselves…bourgeois bohemians..even a guy with a beret and some kind of Gold Card or something that he’s waving as he makes his witty little discourse on Nietzsche. .meanwhile, this babe, with her hair in a bun, like out of some Merchant/Ivory movie…(the English Patient comes to mind),…and this Valley Girllll voice, says..”Juan could you go and check? I think that this label is wronnnnng!”

Whoops, I slip into the other line, where the check-out girl is this slightly older looking neo-spinster….prairies type…so, I figure, my odds of avoiding hassles are better…there’s this young and very thin East Indian looking girl, maybe a teenager and she has about a half dozen items…artichokes, pickled, that sort of thing..in front of her, is this hefty woman with lot’s of broaches, bleached hair, and three different kinds of packaged meat…so, I kind of cut in, but say to the girl…

-excuse me, I guess I’m in front of you…

-oh, no problem, go right ahead..

-oh, are you a vegetarian?

-Oh no…tee hee…people think that by my purchases…it’s just that I already have the meat at home…

o.k.….

So, I get to the line with my last three bucks out…and Miss Manners, with the bun and Harry Potter glasses says…”oh, that’s a mistake…it’s supposed to be two eighty…this after she rang it up…”

“However”, I interjected…”the tag says two thirty nine…see? And you’re what you Anglo Saxons call ’legally bound’ to honor it…”

“Oh, yes, quite right…

Out comes the extra change…no eye contact, though…

Anyhow, just for a little comic relief, who comes bounding up, like a Labrador retriever with a face transplant…Joe... Joe Di Bari…and Joe, of course gives me an Ollie update…

Variation on the same theme…as Carol has genetic programming as her all purpose response to anything beyond the realm of local gossip, fashion or makeup……

Joe has his basic outline…it’s about Art…Joe’s idea of art..this from the guy who wrote a poem about something that most people tend to overlook in their lives…

what’s that Joe?

The Sidewalk…

Well, yes, he’d seen “my buddy there..”

-Who?

-you know Ollie…

-Oh…

-Yeah, he was loading his car up with paintings to go and sell door-to-door in the suburbs…

-As usual…

-Yeah, and I couldn’t help but notice…typical of Ollie..he had one really nice painting, and five pieces of crap…

(I’m thinking that’s progress for Ollie…usually it’s six pieces of crap)

-and?

-Well, I don’t know why he can’t paint great paintings every time…Me, I’m having a show at the Bistro Bobo next week…

-It’s a theme…I’m calling the show-Just Horsin’Around…guess what the subject matter’s going to be?

-Camels?

-No, horses….

-Oh, that’s pretty original, Joe. Where’d you come up with that Concept?

-Yes, that’s it…a Concept…it’s Very important these days…

-Well, I left the water on the stove, Joe….

-So, I go home. Decide it’s better to just talk to myself…

Later, I try Hugh, who being a former draft dodger, out of Yale, and now a prof of Spanish translation…a writer, poet, and generally well-read sort…I can talk to him, maybe…

-Can’t talk, Doug, you know..

-Yep, it’s the Harry Potter Hour…and he’s got to read to his daughter…Edith, whose at that super cute age of nine or ten…while mine is at that very difficult age, being fourteen and having hit her teens during North America’s Late Armani, Middle Makeup Phase…

And I still save funny little stories that she wrote at eleven and twelve…and now, well she’s too busy most of the time…

Anyhow, she calls…my daughter, Sophie, that is…we chat…could it be that a certain mother is out walking a certain four-legged beast? Yes, of course, she calls me, on certain nights when she’s feeling a bit stressed and anxious and her mother has left to walk the little poodle named Pebbles. Somehow, while she brushes her teeth, the conversation goes in the direction of animal mortality. First about, the last time I’d visited and Pebbles had left this turd right next to the computer, and I’d squished around in it while I was trying to surf the Net…

Well, Sophie was of the opinion that Pebbles was leaving his poops on the floor with increasing frequency, and that it was connected to his advanced age…

-and what age is that?

-Six, I think…she said…well, of course, small dogs live longer..did you know that Razboi the Borzoi is only expected to live about 7 years?

And so forth…into cats, who seem to live longer…

I try to get onto a lighter, or even deeper subject…how about vegetarians…I try to give a plug for the book Secret Life of Plants…knowing that it will pique her curiosity…and tell her about the two girls that caused a scandal in their high school…they were trying to do something non-conformist for a class project, since they’d been reading the Transcendentalists…like Emerson and Thoreau….

And they got up on the table in the lunch room, and yelled-“End Homophobia Now!” then kissed, rather hotly according to witnesses, for about twenty seconds or so…

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blogstar Man- Mid-winter Version

Hello world. I've finally got around to posting another blog. I believe it's the first blog of the year. I hope to put something up at least once a week. Although, I'll admit that I'm still trying to get the hang of the basic mechanics of blogging. I've included this self-portrait since I wanted to mention this other cafe that I went to which is about a block north of my place. It was one of those really cold Montreal January days, where the weather was approaching minus thirty in the wind chill department. I'd gone by the Mile End Mission to check out for some cheap threads. Now, I usually can get a decent pair of pants, or shirts for a buck. A coat will set me back four bucks. I'd found a decent leather jacket a while back, so that I could put it one when my academic friends came to visit. For some reason, they like to wear leather jackets.

Anyhow, I'll have to admit that the pickings are getting somewhat slim at the Mission of late. I can't tell whether the local bobos and yuppies are hanging onto their clothes longer, what with the whiff of financial ruin in the air, or the crowd that lines up at ten in the morning to rush in and get the first grab at the goodies are scooping up more....or if the ladies, who seem to have grown fatter and slower as time marches on, have not put as many clothes up on the racks. Perhaps, it's the Haitians and Latinos with the garbage bags that seem to be at every used clothes emporium in the city these days. Who knows? I do know that it's been quite a while since I've picked up any Abercrombie and Fitch pants, or any Versace sports jackets. Having dropped out a generation or so ago, I've tried to avoid wearing my poverty on the sleeve, so to speak.

So, after leaving behind the gang at the Mission, I made my way up Bernard Street, on the look-out for a new place to put down the laptop and try to scribble. I'd been on the look-out for some place new, since the ambience had gotten a bit strained, what with the arrival of a waitress from the suburbs, who'd been used to the Starbuck's type of military discipline. She reminded me of this young woman whom I'd encountered outside of Stratford, Ontario once. I'd been driving this large rental truck, stuffed with the earthly possessions of this Montreal couple, Paul and Diane, who'd decided to re-locate. It had been an unpleasant trip, mid-August heat wave, having to leave Montreal around rush hour, after waiting for hours, while Paul's packrat wife stuffed the back of the truck with all sorts of things that should have been left behind...things like lots of little plants in pots, and peanut butter and other things, which had all congealed into some fifties sci fi monster oozing out of the truck when I arrived in Toronto at midnight, after sitting in one of those endless Trans Canada traffic jams...

Then, spending a night sleeping in a trucks stop, being awakened at seven by some crone who'd stepped out of a Grant Wood painting, print dress, wire rim glasses, etc.....doing a Maggie Thatcher imitation from an old Monty Python skit, whacking me with her umbrella yelling "get up you bum!" Later I roll into a Tim Hortons after passing mile after mile of picture postcard dairy farms owned by Germans, where you could eat off the barn floor...and I'm in this huge truck, and am looking for a parking space, so I head around toward the back, and there's this Low Clearance sign posted-like Clearance-13'30'' or something, and I had no idea how tall the truck is until the thing, loaded with five tons of yard sale bric a brac, wiped out the sign, a rather cheesy aluminum affair. Out of the donut shop runs this young fraulein, nineteen year old summer replacement whose grown up where you can eat off the barn floor, and she goes into hysterics-"Look what you did! I'm going to call the cops!!!"

Well, I was feeling pretty grumpy at the time and didn't have the energy to grovel so that she'd take pity on me, so I grumbled something like, "pretty stupid place to put a sign.." She marched back into the shop and called the cops... and it turned out that the cop was, well he was a uniformed version of the guys sitting in the coffee shop, stoop-shouldered types you'd see in the comic strip Eb and Flo...anyhow, he shows me the way to the storage shed, kind of like the local cops back home, who'd escorted me passed some outraged citizens a couple of times, pretending to bust me, but basically helping me out.

Then, when I arrived in Stratford, I saw another one of those fifties Saturday Evening Post cover towns, with a nod to Hallmark. It looked like you could eat off the sidewalks, like some Canadian version of Switzerland. And there was Paul and Diane looking worse for wear, trying to catch some zzzz's in the parking lot of a supermarket on the main drag. After about fifteen minutes, the bag boy wearing one of those supermarket hats and a spotless white apron, called the cops on them. Now, by that time, I was pining for the squalor and chaos of Pointe St. Charles, where I was living at the time.

Anyhow, I'd settled in Montreal, with its cold, chaos and confusion, in order to avoid these people. Francophone Montreal cafes are not Starbucks franchises. The Arts Cafe, along with the Cafe Depanneur, are what is called "artisanal"....meaning that you are there for the ambiance, the furniture has been gathered from the alleys on trash night, and you have to learn how to scrunch up matchbooks to stuck under the legs of the tables if yu don't want your cafe au lait in your lap....and in the winter, you might have to contend with a building that is poorly insulated, and whose heating system looks like it was imported from post-war Romania.

So, back to that day, the coldest of the year, I decided to check out the old Cafe Depanneur. As I said, I hadn't been there in a few years. It was back when Sylvain and Genevieve ran the place. Well, they tried to run the place, but not having any background in what is called cooperation, the partnership broke off...I seem to remember a rather dramatic scene, with the police called and such, lots of histrionics...the upshot was that Sylvain was left the sole owner.

Now, Sylvain was quite a decorator. He'd once worked as a window dresser. He had certain emotional issues I recall. This pertains to the portrait, which had been on the wall of the cafe for a couple of months. One day, I'd gone in and noticed that the painting had been taken down....about a week after a photo that a friend had taken was also no longer there. He'd, I heard, become paranoid of my portrait. The eyes were following him around the room. He started to take it personally...of course this information came from unreliable sources, one of the local gossips, most likely.

Now, while I'm at it, I want to clear up a couple of things about the painting. I remember that I'd been working toward a certain effect in the flesh tones. Maria, originally from Italy, was staying with me at the time, and she'd gone to a local art school, where the students had an annoying habit of not keeping their brushes clean...or so it seemed to me. They painted their portraits and nudes with a little too much green in the shadows.

I'd been observing the work of Gustave Courbet, French anarchist painter from the mid-nineteenth century. I was taken by his method of painting flesh tones. This local cop and burned-out Vietnam vet, Manny, had commissioned my to do a nude painting. He had this renovation business on the side, and sold me pot that he'd confiscate from longhairs in VW vans on their way to Cape Cod in the summer. Well, Manny never employed the term "nude", considering it unseemly, affected, etc.... He said bluntly, "can you paint me a pussy painting?" In return he'd give me these phony receipts that I needed in order to collect a check from the insurance company, after I'd fallen down the stairs at a friends place while on my way to take a pee. She'd been an art student, too, at the local public university. I won't go too deeply into the story, since it is beyond the scope of a simple blog entry.

I just added this to say that I'd first painted the self-portrait as an experiment with getting a vibrant effect with the flesh tones. So, I'd not been concerned with accuracy in the execution. I wasn't trying for realism, but a kind of fusion of expressionism and impressionism. At the time, I happened to have this straw hat, and it happened to bear a resemblance to the Van Gogh self-portrait. Now, my place back home, a converted woodshed, had a certain textual resemblance to the Cafe Depanneur... except, that my place had mostly art on the walls, and not the country kitsch collectibles that Sylvain seemed to be attached to.

Now, back to that day, with the temperature around thirty below, I went back to the cafe. Sylvain was gone, and the new manager seemed like a pleasant guy. He'd come in and was vainly trying to put plastic on the window. Since ice had formed on the inside, I suggested politely that he try the next day, earlier when the sun might have melted the ice. I'd found a place to sit down in a corner that seemed to be above freezing. I had to leave on the down coat, but I could remove my gloves if I was suddenly moved to write. The huge picture window in the front had totally iced over. I found the patterns of ice on the window, well, fascinating. The light was good. I decided to use the digital camera to film some musicians playing guitar. I guess that every afternoon they have musicians that come in and play. My type of place. Decent music, and I have only to pay the price of a coffee. Now, I'm hoping to post a video of these guys playing in a style like Django Reinhardt with a country flair. I call the piece The Grilled Cheese Blues, since a freshly grilled sandwich appears halfway through the piece, along with the olives impaled on popsicle sticks. A nice touch, I thought.

video

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blogstar Man is back-and it's not pretty




Now, after having been away from the blog for quite a while, I've returned and just pasted up something that I'd written down somewhere along the way. I'm suddenly under pressure, having noticed that Google doesn't list the blog. And, I must confess, blog readers, that I'd started the blog because the same entity, which has grown into a corporate goliath, had stopped listing the site that displays my artistic efforts. The site is called Dreamscapes. I even have a manifesto, and a mock interview given at the bathroom mirror. Now, I've been carrying around this back pack with about fifty pages of printed copies of some of my sundry scribblings. and I admit that I've spent hours on my computer, trying to find them on the hard drive, with no success. I've had just too many distractions lately.

An hour ago, I was sitting at the Arts Cafe, with good ambiance, moon waxing full, decent music playing, some Algerian reggae by a group called Cafre. Then who shows up? First Mitch, then Tom and Alex. And each of them has their own personal issues. Besides, I've always had a sociable side. I' d just e-mailed Tom some more of my monoprints, since he's in control of the website where my artwork is posted. I'm still trying to write something, while Tom is complaining about the colors I'd employed on this piece depicting milkweed pods in a late summer field. He has a good point there. I don't know how that pink color had intruded into my picture. I can see that it is more of a late fall feel. The milkweed pods are dark brown, the little silken seeds have long been blown away by the wind. The monarch butterflies that feast on them have departed for that valley in Mexico where the Monarchs congregate. If I only had wings, or money for an airline ticket, I would join them.

Now, Alex, the young Greek Canadian, is going on about his film project, and Mitch, whose always waiting around for a phone call from his erstwhile love interest, gets to talking about his visit to Haifa back in his teens. He's kind of a fallen Jew, religionwise. His brother lives in Jerusalem, is a Hassidim and prays at the Wailing Wall. He's a secular zionist, of the David Frum era, who votes for Harper, particularly after Harper's statement about the bombardment of Beirut by Israel being "a measured response" to the kidnapping of a couple Israeli soldiers. But, I never talk much about politics with him. We have other intellectual fish to fry. Mitch is troubled, in many ways, that I can't go into for lack of time, space, and even inclination. Now, as I said, the full moon is upon us, the roommate is mumbling in the bedroom about me and my "stupid blog". She's taken a sudden interest in it, but I don't want to speculate why.

Meanwhile, as I finally get into writing a bit, my kid calls. She's now going to McGill University and as I'd written elsewhere, she's now an anti-religious zealot. And, it must be the phase of the moon, she wants to keep me on the phone while she expounds upon her theories, which in this age of information overkill have been reduced to a bumper sticker of the "I believe in Science, not Religion"variety. It reminded me of my father, my good ol' Canadian father, who went to the best universities, graduated from Wharton Business School, and was an agnostic. However to his credit, he never rammed his agnosticism down my throat, like our contemporary anti-religious zealots. My father was also rather conformist, unimaginative and dull. It comes with the terrain. He grew up in the prairies. Not the prairies of Black Elk's visions, but the prairies of amber waves of monocultured, genetically engineered grain, now dotted with strip malls and missal silos. Of course, my dad was a proud veteran of WWII, from the "praise God and pass the ammunition" school. I was a product of the Vietnam era, and well, not wanting to follow in the old man's footsteps, I decided to become a gnostic. It seemed logical at the time. Besides, what had Western civilization-it's science, philosophy and technology brought us? Affluenza? Hiroshima? Ecological collapse, collective hysteria? Fear and loathing, to borrow a phrase from Hunter S. Thompson.

Anyhow, once my dad called me from the states. It must have been my birthday. Now, we'd never really talked much in the way of heart to heart conversations. He always seemed a bit awkward in that area. He'd ask me some neutral question, usually about politics. The last time, he'd called me just when the U.S. was about to shove the free trade agreement down the throats of Canada and Mexico. This Harvard educated white collar criminal named Salinas was in power in Mexico, and a corporate flim flam artist name Mulroney who worked for American mining interests was in power in Canada.
"So, son, what do you think of free trade? As you know, I'm an old free trader, anti-protectionist, etc..."
"Well, dad I've only got two things against it."
"What's that?"
"It's not free and it's not trade."

So, likewise, with my kid. I agree with her. However, most of what passes for science today was scientifically suspect a hundred years ago, and most of what is preached from the pulpits bear no resemblance to the teachings of someone who preached a gospel of love. But, deep down she knows that, and I told her that we didn't have time to go into anything in detail, since I'd been trying for two days now just to write something to post in the blog. Then she tried the tack of parental neglect, insinuating that I didn't have time to talk to my daughter who only calls once a day, while she is getting ready for bed, so that I have to listen to her talk while she's flossing, and gargling and brushing her teeth, and sometimes yelling at her mother who needs to get up at seven, and is telling her to get off the phone and will later admonish me for keeping my kid up. A lose/lose situation if there ever was one.

Arts Café Scribblings


Now, back to the here and now…whatever that means…I’m at the Arts Café, after a two month hiatus, brought on by the broken ankle…it’s the end of September…A Sunday night, after a rather dark and drizzly day, but with a warm southerly flow brought on by a hurricane off the east coast…I’d just been to the little Laundromat down the street, across from Fairmount Bagel…(I've included the video, where blogstar man is playing the flute while Chris is doing a dance. Needless to say, it was all improvised...one of the guys had a cell phone, and the rest is history...Chris has a radio show and soon after was off to northern Quebec to report on a stand-off at Barrier Lake, where the local natives are still trying to keep the land from being clear-cut and bulldozed. )

Fairmount Bagel is located in one of my favorite corners in the city…it has this village atmosphere, and what with the view of the mountain looking up La Rue Fairmount …perhaps, I’ll try to describe the scene better…it’s just maybe a certain ambiance…the little Laundromat that is kept spic and span by the two ladies-the interior fifties New England, their pace and demeanor too...one a rather large and fearsome looking woman with a pit-bull face and thick glasses, but a heart of gold and the other, who looks like an ex-nun, about seventy, with a polyester print dress. looking so dainty... yet every night, she's there, cleaning out the dryers, the old industrial numbers, where you have to crawl half way in just to clean it out. The laundromat has a cozy quality, with it's sign, OUVERT, glowing in pink neon, interior freshly painted in light turquoise, Formica counters where I can unload my wash and see, through the plate glass window, the ovens of the bagel place glowing orange.

How many winter nights had I stopped there to just feel and smell the soothing heat of the burning maple and the aroma of hot bagels fresh from the oven? And I'd watch the Sri Lankan guys, Ali and Mohammad, two mustachioed Bangladeshis-Ali, always smiling and joking, flashing his perfect white teeth, grinning like the Cheshire Cat, reminding me of the days when I'd stand in the alley next door, playing a flute, plaintively, serenading my lady fair and foul, who lived in this studio apartment next to the alley. Ali appreciated the music, he loves music, particularly the flute. In short, he was one of my few flute fans...Mohammad more serious, casually and gracefully wielding the long wooden paddles, shaped like the oars on the rowboats back home....and they'd be nonchalantly working the ovens, sliding the paddle into the long open grill, pulling out a string of bagels, then flipping them into the zinc holding tray, next to the huge Jamaican, Stanley, who was a foot away, slicing rows of bagel dough with a razor sharp, long kitchen knife, breaking off pieces and twisting them into shape in one fluid motion...

Yes, it's an assembly line of sorts, but a jazz zen assembly line where each member of the group is doing an endless variation on the theme of bagel...and scattered about on the street, are parked cars, with their blinkers on, owned by suburbanites who'd left their comfortable homes, for a little break from the boredom of living the suburban American Dream. And I came from a former whaling village on the coast of New England, where I'd spent many a cold night sitting in front of a wood stove, and now I'm in an apartment with electric heat and stove and everything.... And when I'd watched them flip those bagels off the pallet I could remember the glittering fish flipped out of the nets after we'd catch bait fish in the nets that we'd fashioned out of screens from the old screen windows we'd salvaged.....way back when I was a kid..

Sometimes, I'd wonder how many thousands of times have they performed these motions...who knows, but it's with a certain rhythm that's both slow and quick, never rushed....a pre-industrial rhythm, you could say...the buildings along the street, some of them with gables, old stone and brick buildings, in a state of comfortable decrepitude…a little piece of Europe, afloat in the North American mallscape.

I had a taste of that other world yesterday…I’d gone with the writing machine over to the Arts Café…I should have been suspicious, since there was the owner, Michel, in his meticulously clean red sports car unloading a few cases of French wine from his trunk…I’d sat down and Daniel, the waiter, just out of theater school, informs us, with a theatrically impeccable disconsolate expression, that they’re closing in five minutes…private party…batchlerette party thrown by Jean Francois' fiancee from Eugene Oregon...her daddy's rich, so the wine is French, Chateaux Whatever, as Paris Hilton would say...

I noticed that it was one of those temperate early fall nights, and the sun was about to set, and Hassids were hurrying by in very clean and starched clothes, off to celebrate the end of Shabbat…on the corner of Avenue du Parc, across from this old two story with gabled roof, floating in a sea of fall foliage from the mountain behind…the sky opening up- a soft blue sky, clouds that promised to become rose colored cherubs from a Titian knock-off…one of those evenings with a note of melancholy, darkness setting in early, leaves starting to spread on the sidewalk, some trees already bare, others still green…
So, I sat in a chair, a red molded plastic number that is sitting outside this new condo/pharmacy/fashion/makeup complex that had sprouted on the corner, one of the tentacles of the suburban octopus that is swallowing the country and the city...(.the city is the only place where displaced villagers can try to live now).... anyhow, the sun finally set over the mountain, the chill of evening set in... and I'd already received two or three visits from uniformed staff dressed like cruise ship or airline staff, with a fashion nod to Dairy Queen…

And it being a Saturday evening, where the streets are going to be crowded with restless animals let out of their cages and cubicles for the evening, and I want to keep the usual low profile that I've tried to retain for the last forty odd years...I took the machine inside, and it was like an upscale supermarket mall deli, with polished imitationCarrera marble veneer, track lights, blazing in the reflections of polished marble, wood, metal.....it's high end Italian deli, motif no. 231, with all the faux rustica extras, the post-modern melange of high gloss executive class mixed with Hand-Hewn Rustic, ground out in a Thai maquiladora...in short, it's one of the reasons that the Arts Café is popular, it being "artisanal", as they call it, meaning that most of the furniture has been salvaged from old schools and greasy spoon restos that have been either upgraded or shut down.

Back at the mall cafe, there's this long high butcher block table with people sitting on high chairs, working their computers...sullen looking people....people who've staked their territory, have their habitual spots, and now are staring into their screens, shopping on EBay, getting a celebrity fix or a stock market tip, online dating,etc...and there I was, wanting to sit down and write about a friend who'd been thrown in the psych. wards of a local hospital...a reject from the assembly line of comfort and resigned servitude.....I tried vainly to find a comfortable niche, but, what with the piped in mall muzak and the constant hum of the deli refrigerators, and whirr of coffee grinders, I gave up and packed it in, resigned to another night alone at the apartment, at the desk by the window, next to the old maple tree, now stripped of leaves.

Back at the caféJazz Mon Oncle on break



Back at the café, and Francois, the bassist, is going into this nifty little solo on "Summertime"…Jacques the guitarist is now letting the drummer work some magic on the brushes…they’ve got this after-joint-in-the-alley energy that’s flowing…Francois never smokes, but feeds off the others' altered states…a good moment…of course summertime seems like a dim memory, tonight being frosty, and the first real cold night of the fall…where the world of warmth, and life, greenery, flowers is sliding into the Canadian winter…and it’s a long, cold winter…and the people, well, anyone living in this climate have to become closed up…they are not Russians…what do they know of saunas, and a little birching on bare buns to stimulate the blood? Earlier, I rode over to the Batory Restaurant for a plate of bigos. There’s nothing like some Polish food on a cold night. Alas, if only I could have had Jazz Mon Oncle playing in the background. Marek, owner and chef, seems to exhaust his subtlety in the food. The music is late industrial FM torture tape stuff.

I did have my copy of The Idiot to read. It was one of those rare pleasures, that I can afford only once or twice a month. At the Batory, I can get a plate of bigos with Cole slaw and salad along with a couple slices of fresh Polish rye, for about four fifty. And the food is always impeccable. Marek, who was the former cook on the passenger boat, the Stefan Batory which used to run from Gdansk to Montreal, does everything to perfection. It’s not haute cuisine, simple peasant food, but he cooks it all with subtlety. His pierogis, are not too heavy, the pastry is light and thin, the ingredients are flavored just so, the mushrooms are always sweet, the farmer’s cheese fresh. Even the Cole slaw is not vinegary like the locals prepare it. The same with the sauerkraut. It is sweet, Polish style. If you get it elsewhere, it is generic Germanic. German’s are not known for lightness, in food, thoughts or deeds. Even the music is a bit heavy, a kind of pork and sauerkraut for the brain. I don’t want to go on in that vein too long and be accused on being Teutonophobe. Perhaps, it is connected to running into lovely Rhea at the café earlier. Rhea had her copy of Heidegger with her. Pork and sauerkraut for the brain. More on that later.

And now…back again at the Arts Café….Jazz Mon Oncle back on stage…with the vocalist…
Catherine, is her name…I have her card in front of me…and she’s singing, “You don’t know what love is..” and it brings back memories of the time I’d been desperately in love with Asza…and she’d disappeared. And “when you face each dawn with sleepless eyes..”…and yes, I remember, entombed in that apartment in Outremount, sleeping on the futon in the front room, on this street devoid of charm, just a monotonous row of identical brick buildings, with an equally monotonous row of black maples, trimmed identically, lining the street…and it was November, like now…and it had turned cold, and gray and dark…and she’d disappeared on Halloween. I guess that I’d chosen to ignore the warning signs…that I had fallen in love with a mirage, with a person that existed in my imagination, and existed equally in the imaginations of others…
And I’m starting to have flashbacks…of the long, cold, gloomy Montreal winter…where I seemed to have died a thousand deaths…where I guess the only way to fall in love here, is to fall desperately…the climate, physical, and emotional lends itself to desperation…

And now, I’d just gone outside, had a few tokes…came in while the group was doing “Angel Eyes”, one of my favorites…pulled out the little Cuban piccolo and discretely blew some notes…it felt good…yes, Joanna sang, and I played the concert flute in the band…and she mostly improvised…when she was on, well, it was sublime..she’d light up the room…when she was off, well, they'd call the riot squad...drastic mood swings, they label it, I believe.
Back to the here and now, Catherine just went into a decent rendition of “Lover Man”…not bad for a Frenchy…not the throaty melancholy of Nina Simone or Cassandra Wilson…more bouncy with some post-Ella scat tossed into the musical salad…meanwhile, one of her lady friends arrived. I suspect North African influence…here friend is a living doll…luscious long black hair, alabaster face, large ebony eyes…and those lips, Mediterranean Modigliani…I’d also gone out and smoked a little M39 as they call this brand of hydroponic..and it had put a slightly comic edge on the melancholy…yes, there is a cloistered feel to the francophone women…you can tell the ones with a Moroccan background. The women are more at ease with members of their own sex…for myself to even get her attention, I mused after a couple of tokes…I’d have to pull out a foot long wiener, then it would have had to sing a capella in three languages, metamorphizing magically into a sacred lingham glowing phosphorescently atop a Brahma Bull elephant garlanded with lotus blossoms, balancing on one foot while astride a sacred rat with a ruby-encrusted saddle. After that, I’d have to land her a gig on Canadian Idol.

That's Progress

Who’d have thought? Thought what? That Doug would be still sitting around, stoned, at his laptop… before it was a Toshiba, before that a 386 black and white model, before that it was a manual made in thirty-eight…the technology has definitely been on the upslope, but old Doug, he defies all logic….his computer works ten times as fast as the first one, but old Doug, he pretty much moves at the same speed, spends endless hours writing novels in his head, and ends up with no time to write down the thoughts…what happened?

Several reasons can be put forward…different philosophies…the Calvinists, the protestant banking class would say that he’s simply lazy…they would be right…the Buddhists might say that he’s working off some heavy karma…and that would be also correct…there are the different schools of psychology, philosophy, metaphysics, armies of psychologists, from industrial to Jungian, along with the experimental rat crowd, who’d have me running around on wheels, pressing reward buttons, and pain buttons, like I’m some sort of combination party hack and detainee in Abu Ghraib…there are an incredible variety of schools and sects describing my behavior…well, in many ways, it’s my non behavior.

I lack drive, motivation, ambition…at any point in my life, I could have retired to some little cabin in the woods, and spent my winter’s nights sitting by the woodstove, puffing on a pipe, with a good book in my hands. I guess that’s it…I’d gone into early retirement, sometime in my twenties.

The Vietnam years, where I spent a half dozen of them being eligible to the draft, and every six months was required, on pain of imprisonment in a federal pen , if I’m not mistaken, to take an army physical. And each time, if I wasn’t drafted, I was given another six month reprieve. I'd gotten into the bad habit of living in the moment. Of course, sprinkled into that time frame, like pixie dust shaken from Tinkerbell’s Wand, where these psychedelic experiences which had brought out the essential immateriality of the material world.

If you delve deep enough into anything in the universe, from the microcosm to the macrocosm, you see that Newton’s Clockwork universe like Darwin’s blind Watchmakers… well, we’ve been fed a reality that is one big cuckoo clock, with a brail attachment and wheelchair access. Deep, deep into the atom, the particles disappear, buzzing in and out of the ether, the electrons becoming vibrational fields, rings within rings spiraling in musical mathematical perfection-in the pure Zen sense of the word…and out into the far reaches of galaxies where infinity curves back inside of itself, into the great well of Maya, which in Sanscrit means to Measure. The world of measurement is Maya. The Science of Maya. The Art of Maya. Now is all that exists, and will ever exist. And what does it mean, to exist? I'll have to grapple with the deep existential questions in future posts. Right now, as we'd say back home on the coast, Nature calls.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blogstar Man in Babylon

Before I paste in a couple of posts from the original Blogstar Man which had gotten sidetracked due to circumstances beyond my control, I’d like add a couple of, hopefully, brief notes about the time frame:

Now, I notice that one of the pieces mentions the city being invaded by Rolling Stones cover bands, so it must have been back when the Stones went to Toronto...and that was during the great SARS scare, which petered out soon after, much like that Bird Flu number. Then, I had a small piece about working in the films, so that must have been a few years back, since the film industry has pretty much ground to a halt here, what with the Terminator as governor of California and promising to keep film jobs in the state, along with the American dollar tanking, making it not such a big saving to film in Montreal. And a host of other reasons, dealing with certain unions and government bureaucracies, turf battles, general stupidity....
So, without further ado, I will post some of those earlier ramblings:

Blogstar Man in Babylon..coming soon to Blockbusters everywhere..

hello world...I'm sitting on this late july day, between the waves of thunderstorms sweeping through Montreal...at the Cafe Depanneur, listening to Carmen McCrea doing a Julie London favorite..of course, well, Carmen's version is smooth, bit on the "cheesy" side...more Vegas than smoky left Bank boite...but, what with the city now overrun with Rolling Stones cover bands...after hundreds of drunken renderings of Honkey Tonk Woman assaulting our ears from every quarter, "Cry Me a River" sounds like beat poetry..
Now Sylvain, the owner, has put on this synthesized music...kind of New Age elevator music...once, Jahans, this tabla player from Iran tried to convince him that none of the music was made by humans..."look, man, do you see any musicians listed?"
"ah..nope"
"that's because there aren't any. It's a K-2000 synthesizer.."
It's a bit of a touchy subject with the local acoustic musicians...it's called automation...no royalties having to be paid to musicians...oh well...
like Hollywood, since I work in this branch plant of Hollywood, from time to time...A Montreal movie maquiladora, thanks to a low Canadian dollar and cheap electricity...
back in the cafe, the remaining customers have been driven out by Sylvain's music selection, which he is playing at haute volumn...I am soldiering on with a used cocktail napkin stuffed in the ears...now he's gone back to some guy playing an acoustic guitar...and singing this fifties lounge lizard stuff like "how deep is the ocean..."
in fact, after everyone else cleared out, he pointed to me and said, "I'm playing this for you, Dooglas."
of course, I could have stayed home and listened to John Coltrane on this evening jazz show from CBC Francais...tant pis...
yes, I work from time to time in the films...keeps the head just above water...most of the time I'm just treading water, the film extra work, well, it's like taking a breather on a hunk of floating driftwood, to continue the nautical reference...

back again...after one of those days where all the chickens seemed to come home to roost at once...a dark, stormy day, filled with thunder, rain, wind...later, blue sky coming in from the west...a cold, sub-polar Canadian sky..not a July sky...an October sky...it's almost August...I'm broke, and running around in circles, and haven't spent even an afternoon out of the city...I couldn't even camp out in the apartment, since there was this crew installing pre-fab aluminum porches on a duplex across the street...the same pre-fab aluminum balconies that are on this long row of condo leggo construction that has devastated the neighborhood...next to this Windows 2000-designed testament to the victory of profit over any pretense to craft, stand these classic Montreal two stories, with the fleur de lis wrought iron rails, and places with palisade balconies that you might see in Portugal or parts of Mexico...trimmed with this delicately crafted tin ...a vestige of a time when a worker was still a craftsmen...
and today, I got the contemporary version...all power tools...like putting together a kit from IKEA, except for the spine-tingling sound of metal drilling and cutting more metal...
Man as machine...working with machines, for machines...power tools...the favorite item at yard sales here...making summer in the city, for those of us who are too broke to leave, and too broke to be medicated, a living hell...not hell... I exaggerate...a living heck, you could say...
Canada is living heck...I can go for a walk at anytime, anywhere without having to strike a pose, like in the States...I know that nothing much will happen..even if I have a grand mal seizure, like I did last winter, someone will call the ambulance, and it will arrive, and if I survive the ride, that I'll be treated, and wish that I hadn't been...
I also know that nothing magical will happen that day...the chances, you could say, of a chance encounter are slim...
I will walk next door to the Bar St. Laurent, one of the few clubs in the area that play reggae, salsa, afro-Cuban, and know that I'll see skinny African guys dancing with overweight bleached-blondes...
I will not run into an African woman on her own. Montreal is really a very old-fashioned place...it's reputation as sin city is only maintained by being situated in a country which has places like Toronto, Halifax, and Victoria, British Columbia...
Suddenly, I'm listening to Fats Domino, singing "I'm walkin'"...and those yakketty saxes in the background...the music of my youth...funk...acoustic funk...before the electric guitar levelled out with rock...
Rock became to music, what that pre-fab porch across the street became to- architecture, art, craft...

BLOGSTAR MAN IN THE PROMISED LAND...

the promised land ends up not being how it was advertised...life in America will never be shown on TV...
America in it's Late Tabloid/Early Apocalypse phase...
not a pretty sight...enough of idle chit chat...I must admit that I've just gotten back from the Rez...
We'd made this cheap tobacco run...across the industrial section of Montreal...which is most of Montreal, really...out past smokestacks belching burnt whatever into the air, the smokestacks rising over this flat-roofed late industrial nullity...out across the highway of asphalt and iron girders...with about a thousand sodium vapor lamps shining from every direction...in the western sky above this devastated landscape, was the tale end of one of those delicate chromatic sunsets, receding in the direction of the mountains in the distance...five minutes later, we are driving down this long country road fringed with woods, silvery strings of cloud floating by the treetops.
It's the Mohawk reservation, Khanawake...and we're going down the OCR, the Old Chateauguay Road...cheap smokes...bags of tobacco, enough to roll a cartoon with your little plastic rolling machine and tubes...good for a carton...eight bucks a bag...
Anyhow, I'm back at the machine...Michel, from Baie Coumeau Quebec, just back from three years in Beijing..he'd stopped by with Carol...and as I was just about to interest him in looking at my blog...Trina called...three times...like some desperado on the show Friends, that my fourteen year old is hooked on, along with Gap Jeans...the whole package...multi-billion dollar business...get them hooked on Brands as early as possible...Pacifiers by Microsoft...that sort of thing...
and I have Trina, the thirty-something version on the phone..pure native, but orphaned and raised by this nice Jewish liberal couple...so she's this two hundred pound, six foot towering hulk of Need...and she's on the phone...and I can hear the JAP in her asking Michel to come...Now!...that sort of thing..."come on Michel check out the blog...she'll have you jumping through hoops in a week...don't fetch..."
and he's just back from China...where he'd spent three years..and was saying..."boy, sure is different here...like people they make such a big deal about the most trivial things..".
Michel hasn't seen a soap or sit-com or Oprah or Dr. Phil in three years...out of the loop... as my kid, the fourteen year old with her Friends and Will and Grace habit..when she mentions the soaps..."god,dad, just a bunch of rich people standing around complaining..".
it's like this..."too many immigrants" number, that either Carol or Michel were doing, as we languished in a good ol' French Canadian Friday-night-in-the-summer total traffic jam...idling cars by the thousands sending up the toxic by-products of petroleum combustion...idling cars...with pedestrians getting the Tokyo subway treatment...somebody mentions immigrants...and I point to this montsrous SUV, and say, about two dozen Sri Lankans could fit in the space that one SUV is taking...hmmm...and I read that there are eighty thousand new cars on the island every year...and we're talking huge gas guzzling American tanks...the Bound for Baghdad cult...this rather vicious circle which is causing some serious havoc with earth and humanity, let alone the oceans rivers lakes and fields...
yes, blog buffs, I will try to keep you abreast of developments...speaking of abreast of developments, my younger sister came to visit from New York last week, after stopping in Toronto for a breast enhancement, eighteen thousand dollars worth...more on that to come...

Welcome aboard, blog buffs...after a blustery day, as pooh bear would say...his mouthpiece that is..got the full treatment from the bi-polar miss-appropriating my apartment..if you're wondering about the puns, well I'd just smoked some local pot and it was ground grown, as all pot back in the sixties and seventies...and I'm flashing back to those days when getting stoned and punning was the rage...
well, I'm in Canada where you just don't play with words..well, English Quebec anyhow...even when I work in English Canadian films...you see..WORK in films...I'm PLAYING in films, right?...
I had been hired to do this dance sequence...a foxtrot...the old two step...learned it at age seven...the world's simplest dance...the two step, right? One step less and you're standing still...normally, in the French productions I'm allowed to improvise...but, not the CBC English production...we had to suffer the stern and unsmiling gaze of this young woman, dressed and made up to look like a contemporary neo-spinster from some Merchant/Ivory production...horn-rimmed glasses, the rest, classic Lord and Taylor from an old Audrey Hepburn movie...
of course, the movie was the Audrey Hepburn Story, now starring this teen slasher film queen with one of those hyphenated names from the era of the corporate merger... Jennifer Love-Hewitt or Hewe-Lovitt..there go those puns again..
not Ashley Judd, that was Eye of the Beholder...and Ashley was acting out the title's less subtle implications...the mink coat with Victoria's secret underwear...(more on that later)
much more pleasant to behold than the stern gaze of the foxtrot instructress...and, when this particular casting agency hires me, they always put me with the "gray eminences"...the geezers, as the Anglos say with a slight hint of studied self-effacement...the English Canadians are masters of self-effacement...like Steven, who always plays Chuck the Homeless Guy...this Canuck homeless guy, you know Cratchett fallen on hard times in the Christmas Carol type of self-effacement...he wouldn't last an hour on the streets in the U.S...
but, it's this survival strategy here in Canada..do your job, don't complain... the classic Delta Male in an industry dominated by Alpha Women...that sort of deal...it's a dog's life...the only problem, is that throughout history, war and famine would leave the people with no alternative than to roast the mutts...that was always the basic flaw with the beg and fetch survival strategy...
anyhow, unlike the French films, I'm usually paired with a woman my senior...in the Audrey Hepburn story, well I swore it was Eva Braun's older sister...Helga..she was German...but, she didn't join the Party, she said...she couldn't..seemed that to become a full fledged member of the Nazi Party, you had to prove that all your grandparents were German...anyhow, she did a decent foxtrot....a little stiff with the leg kicks, as one would expect, but nonetheless...
not like franco film “Le Pollak”, where I danced with this nineteen year old young lovely who was in a Polish dance troupe...and we got into this modified Mazurka, with little polka flourishes....and she liked it, and I have this yin and yang that comes out....maybe because I'd grown up in the days when kids, black and white used to boogie...and the trick is to lead without leading, follow without following...something that seems to come naturally with Polish girls...it's vestige of the petty gentry mentality..

now I'm interrupted by the crying of a yuppie baby just back from a week of eco touring in the Laurentians...it's the latest yuppie fad here, meaning that it must have peaked ten years ago in Boston....it’s replaced jogging...bikes neatly racked on the top...I personally never approached that level of urban middle class-ness...I peaked at drive, park, walk...now, I have an old ten speed given to me by my guardian angle, jean marc when I was going through a particular grim period of material deprivation...and it sits outside with a new chain and a flat tire...
the subways, metros, whatever you call them, are so suffocating that even a Sarin Gas attack would be a breath of fresh air...

Introducing the Best of Blogstar Man

Hello-I'm still trying to get the basic mechanics of blogging down. I admit that I'm from another era. For much of my life, there was no internet. In fact, for much of my life, I'd written on an old mechanical typewriter. I'd just written this long introduction that somehow disappeared when I pushed the wrong button. I could be connected with this pot that I'd picked up yesterday from the neighborhood dealer, R.,who has a little ganja shop set up in on the ground floor of his duplex. It's a family business. I lucked out yesterday, since R.s wife was at the scales, and she is not quite as vigilant when it comes to measuring out a gram, and always errs on the side of the customer… particularly when the customer is trying to lay on the charm, and keep up with the local gossip and chit chat...Since, I'd sworn off the stuff while I was stuck in a cast for six weeks, knowing that the pot habit was a contributing factor to my sorry physical state to begin with...and, that I needed a lot of concentration while hopping around on one foot....so, as anyone whose stopped drinking or smoking for a while knows...well, particularly smoking, since I find the brain speeding up, but that part of the brain, the automatic pilot part, (that has learned to push buttons, and type, and press a gas pedal when the light turns green and a hundred other automaton movements concerned with machines)..anyhow, this post-industrial Pavlovian part of the mind malfunctions. I'd gotten out of practice,(vis a vis functioning stoned) So, I push the wrong button. I delete instead of save. Goodbye thoughts.
I would like to confess that when I called it the Best of Blogstar Man was being facetious...I have tendencies toward hyperbole. I blame it on the week I spent in an ad agency back when I was twenty. I was being offered a chance to be paid handsomely for facetiousness anchored to the bedrock of hyperbole, while adrift in the fog of obfuscation. Unfortunately, or fortunately I can't tell in hindsight, I couldn't really handle being in a windowless office in a Back Bay Boston highrise...having grown up in a small village on the coast, and having never really been beyond the second floor, and then only to sleep and brush my teeth, bathe, and caca. I spent most of my days outdoors, when I wasn't locked into the local school.

Back again, after two or three weeks of semi-frantic damage control, mostly relating to all my bad habits catching up...the broken leg is getting better, according to Ms. Cacciatore, the physiotherapist at the local hospital. However I had another medical emergency, after I'd gone shopping at Bala’s, the greengrocer, over on Park Avenue. I'd been ravenously hungry while shopping, after losing track of the time. It had been one of those balmy days that Montrealers have to enjoy to the max, what with the prospect of seven months of winter a mere icy blast from Hudson's Bay away. I'd sat down at this place nearby, Navarhino's, a local Greek pastry and coffee joint. You can get an espresso for a buck fifty, and there are decent chairs on the sidewalk, and what with the bum leg, I thought I'd take a breather.
I'd bought these sesame crackers out of one of the bins at Bala's store. I'd known Bala since the days when he used to work for Harji, after landing in Montreal from Sri Lanka. He'd had bought the place when Harji decided to retire. Now, it seemed that those sesame crackers had been there when Harji owned the place. And he retired about five years ago, and was last heard to be bicycling around Africa with his wife.
Anyhow, I was sitting there at on the terrasse, as it's called here, and had pulled out this old dog-eared copy of “The Idiot” by Dostoyevsky, from my backpack. I'd started reading it when I was chair-bound with a hard cast back in July. And it's quite a melodrama. High melodrama. If I'd thought that some of my more histrionic marginal friends would have fit easily into “the Possessed”...well, those Russians are something else. Moreover, I happen to be an epileptic, like Prince Myshkin. And of course, there is this play on the word "idiot", since up until recently epilepsy was considered a form of idiocy. In fact, back in the twenties, in times much like ours today, what with the plutocrats running the show, Eugenics was quite the rage among the progressive elements. About ten years before the Third Reich was to give Social Darwinism a black eye, so to speak, sterilization laws were passed in both the U.S. and Canada. And, at the head of the list were, “idiots, epileptics, and morons.”
Dostoyevsky can be quite intense. And, for me, well, I know that one thing that helps bring on seizures are all these intense, emotionally draining scenes...and I'd almost break into a sweat wondering when the poor Prince was going to go fall into a grand mal and start frothing at the mouth and mashing his teeth. Ironically, I was sitting exactly across the street from the place where I had my first seizure, about five years ago. Up until then, I was just a petit mal sort of guy. I'd have these brief blackouts from time to time, dizzy spells on occasion, mostly occasioned by having spent the first few years of my life in a cottage by a bay, which was at the end of a long, tree-lined dirt road. I'd see maybe one or two cars a week.
Now Park Avenue is one of those four-lane inner city expressways built over a trolley line that had been ripped out in the fifties when GM started buying and junking urban trolleys to make room for their buses. As I was saying, I'm sitting at the cafe on Park Avenue and am absorbed in this scene with Rozoghin and the Prince which is going to culminate in the former, after exchanging crosses and becoming a "blood brother" with the Prince, trying to stab the poor bloke with a dagger in a darkened hallway of a building. Of course, I'm grossly simplifying thirty odd pages of description-detail, the weather, buildings and people, and this almost gothic sense of impending doom...fevered thoughts, the allegory of the children in the Swiss village where he'd stayed, long discourses on the interpretation of the Apocalypse, Soloviev's History...(we're not talking the Sopranos here)...And there are all these other elements involved-possession-desire, hate mixed with love-everything to an extreme(jusqu'au bout, as they'd say in Quebec)late nineteenth century soap opera characters, since they never have to work much, and are waiting for rich uncles to die, or trying to marry a general's daughter for a good dowry-this constant tension between greed and honor-nihilsts, aristocrats, old believers...the theme of the "idiot" being pure of heart...and being loved, hated, derided and praised because of it...and that is one of the reasons Rozoghin wants to kill him. And Dostoyevsky, being a bit of a ham himself, sets up Prince Myshkin to be saved by his epileptic fit. Meanwhile, I realize suddenly, that I've been chewing on these rock hard sesame crackers that had been sitting in the bin at Bala's grocery store since Harji sold him that place and took off for a round Africa bike trip. I checked out the harder objects in my mouth and to my chagrin discovered that some crowns that had fallen out. Three to be precise. Bottom row, front right.
So, I've been involved with the considerable hassle of trying to get this gaping hole in my mouth filled in. But that saga will have to wait for later, since this little introduction threatens to become longer than the few little vignettes that I had posted in the original Blogstar Man...which happened to have been around the time that I'd had my first seizure across the street from where I’ve just lost three crowns while reading “The Idiot.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Best of Blogstar Man

Hello,blog buffs. I'm sitting here in this comfy IKEA chair that I received as an early birthday present, after having broken my ankle on about the first of July. That is a whole little story in itself. I will get to that later. But, first I have to clear up some possible misconceptions that anyone reading my profile might have gotten. By the sound of the profile, what with the painting, writing, music, and such, you might have the erroneous impression that I'm an active person. That is far from the case. Most of the time, I just seem to do as little as possible. Of course, having been stuck in a cast for a couple of months, my natural lassitude is brought into high relief.
I have been dabbling most of my life in art, music and writing. If given the chance, I would prefer just to be on vacation. I don't know how many hours I've spent just looking out the window at the old maple tree in front of the apartment. I'm generally a loafer. Although, at times, I am forced into action.
Back to the here and now. I started this blog a few years back and somehow it never got off the ground. For one, I'm technologically challenged. For years, I tapped away on an old mechanical machine, and then only when the mood hit me. Of course, when I'd arrived here in Montreal in the early eighties, after having survived this fiasco in Florida, I was ready to write the Great American Novel. I was staying in this old rooming house on Rue Ontario, located above a little jazz cafe that looked like it was out of the Left Bank in the thirties.
I had again survived a few tough scrapes and was still fueled by the residual adrenalin from living on the edge in a place where they take their social Darwinism "dead serious", South Florida.
But, before I go back down that road, I'd like to try and paste in some of the early Blogstar entries. They will help give you a flavor of the circles that I run in. To stretch the pun, my personal little rat race inside the great industrial rat race around me. So, if I can do a successful cut and paste operation, I'll take you back to the first postings.