More the Danforth Alphabet – with little break to teach some counting
When I lived in Cape Breton I was in love with Tom Rush’s Wrong End Of The Rainbow. The gentle country-rock music & the sweetly poetic lyrics captivated me. He fell between James Taylor & Jackson Browne. In face he did cover versions of songs by both of them. I picked up a cd that combined his first Self-Titled (1970) lp with Wrong End. The first is more folk rock & all cover versions: Jackson Browne’s These Days. Wrong End has originals like the title song, covers like James Taylor’s Riding on a Railroad. He’s still alive & performing – his last release was in 2018.
Next to Rush on the shelf is an lps to cd transfer of The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978); and Bubblerock Is Here To Stay (1972). The Rutles: is the soundtrack to Eric Idle’s pitch-perfect parody of the Beatles. Much like Spinal Tap, it captures changing musical styles of the 60’s & the absurdities of the rock industry. The songs are excellent & quickly transcend mere parody. Bubblerock is a Jonathan King satire of pop music forms – Mr. Tamborine with a background of more tambourines than an octopus could shake; a mash up of led Zeppelin & The Supremes. Worth searching out.
Next on the shelf is an mp3 cd collection including Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels: Breakout! (1966), Greatest Hits (1981), Get Out The Vote (1997). Mitch was a hit maker through the last half od the 60s with his masculine rock that owes much to Wilson Pickett etc. Here too is the cult favourite: Chocolate Watchband: 65-67 psychedelic and garage rock components compared to the Rolling Stones. A time when bands had ‘trippy names’ Vanilla Fudge, Strawberry Alarm Clock. They are better than their names suggests.
Also Eric Anderson’s debut lp Today Is The Highway (1965) folk originals except for Joe Williams’ ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go.’ A pretty boy with pretty voice who never made it big but stuck around – changing labels & moved into a more country rock & eventually blues sound. I have other lps of his in other compilations. Finally Sir Douglas Quintet: Mendocino (1969). A Texas/California good time swamp rock band that had a few hits, none of which really charted in Canada. Classic rock like Mitch Ryder.
what I have
is better than yours
but I want yours too
don’t be so selfish
think of the freedom
you’ll feel in letting go
of what you think you need
I don’t need it myself
but that’s not relevant
I want it
you don’t deserve it
as much as I do
your fearful needs
are not spiritually fulfilling
you have to empty your life
& there’s no better place
I can add it to the things
that I have
that I don’t need
keeping hold of it
is only a sign
of your deep resentment
of my happiness
of my ability
to accept everything
that comes my way
you envy my power
to take what I want
from the likes of you
I have this memory of my boyhood, while I was still a single child, of being in the park trying to sail a plastic boat I got for a birthday. It was frustrating as there was another boy who had a better one & it floating along nicely. He came over to me & said “Give me back my boat!”
I told him it was mine & he began to cry & that I had taken his favorite boat. I pointed to his & said that one was his. He said that if I didn’t give back the stolen boat he’d call the police. I told him to call the police. To which he replied, keep your crappy boat. See if I care.’ I pulled my boat out of the water & thew it at him. “Here take it.”
My boat was already boring me because it didn’t float or move ‘properly.’ Once I got home I told my mom it had sank in the park pond. When I went though the park a week later I spotted my boat in a trash bin & left it there.
This piece is about that pull & push of wanting, getting, of having & being held captive by stuff while also about how we get manipulated into reluctant ‘generocity.’ It relishes the verbal spin of rationalization & victim blaming. To demonstrate you have the power to take something, not because you actually want it or have any need or use for it.
The piece echoes enlightened ‘gurus’ who stress the spiritual power of sacrifice while polishing the diamond ring you have to kiss as you make the sacrifice. Recently a major Canadian retailer asked its customers to donate their bonus points to charity because there is deep need to help the less fortunate. No mention of the fact that our points donation would become a charitable tax donation deduction for the corporation.
The request also had a tasty subtext of not donating being a sign of our personal selfishness & greed. If people starve it’s our fault for not helping when given this opportunity. Sorry, but I’m keeping my points to redeem for overpriced cologne – if I’m greedy I want to smell good while I watch our culture sink into selfishness.
Kevin longed to press his face against the airplane window to get closer to the city that sprawled under the thin clouds. But the last thing he wanted was to appear any younger than the nineteen-year-old he was. He did manage a “Holy Shit” under his breath.
Amazement turned to fear as he felt his aloneness amongst the millions of people in the jumble of houses and high-rises that flashed beneath him. Not total aloneness, as his cousin Mitch had moved to Toronto about two years ago.
“I’ll be your beachhead,” Mitch told him.
“Toe-hold in a new city.”
“A contact, for fuck sake. Someone you know who can show you the ropes.”
“Why didn’t you say that. Fucking beachhead.”
“What did you think I meant? Suckin’ dick in the sand?”
Not a bad idea.
Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit! He nudged his face inch closer to the window. Not that I care if there’s sand as long as there’s dick.
Steven glanced at his watch. Ten minutes left of his shift. That idiot Brad better show up. He had an audition at seven which he could make if he got out of this hell-hole when he was supposed to at six.
“Lubba’s” wasn’t a hell-hole, but after a long lunch, one man short, it sure felt like hell. This was Steven’s first audition in six months and that was three months too long. His skin ached for stage lights.
Five to six and no Brad. The supper crowd would start in soon and Luke would expect him to stay.
Steven slipped into the staff room to change out of the white shirt and black pants that was his table jockey drag. He made a quick swipe at the day’s sweat on his chest and underarms. A swift spray of deodorant and he reached for a fresh shirt. The door behind him swung open.
“No.” He didn’t turn.
“Give me the chance to ask,” Luke purred. “Brad called and he’s on his way. Could you …”
“No can do. I’ve covered for his sorry ass twice this week.”
“Almost as many times as he’s covered for yours.”
“Luke, you know I have an audition at seven.”
Luke lifted an eyebrow. “Jesus, why are all waiters actresses?”
“It gets us better tips when we pretend to really, really like the special of the day.”
“Which can’t be easy when you call cannelloni, cantaloupi.”
“I forget levity is frowned upon by upper management.”
Steven threw his work pants into his gym bag and pushed past Luke. Their eyes locked.
“I’ll cover for Brad.” He caressed Steven’s ass.
“Mr. Kwan, being co-owner of this two-bit joint don’t give you the right to grope me when you feel like it.” Steven used his best tough-gal attitude.
“What time’ll you be home?”
“Luke, haven’t you had enough of me for one day?”
“Honey, ain’t no such thing as enough. Good luck.” They kissed quick. “Or should I say break a nail?”
Steven flew out the door and hailed a cab.
David saw the movement out of the corner of his eye. Why does this always happen to me? He caught the woman’s eye. She knew that he’d seen her slip the book into a pocket.
“Can I help you?” He stepped towards her.
Her initial fear hardened into a brassy fuck you.
“Listen,” he whispered, “the books are electronically tagged. An alarm will go off if you try to leave without paying for it.”
“Are you accusing me of somethin’?” She extended her neck. “Just because I’m … I’m …” She faltered as she saw no one paid any attention to them. She tugged the book out and dropped it. “Shove it up your ass … nigger.” She smiled and left the store.
Tense with anger, David picked up the book. At least she didn’t call me faggot too. They don’t pay me enough to take this kind of crap.
The train pulled into the platform. Yves quickened his steps only to be faced by a rush of people up the stairs. Once again the escalator was shut down for repairs.
Was there some sort of escalator flu that struck at rush hour? Did their innards enjoy it when men in grimy coveralls and grease-blackened hands worked them over?
He watched the guys at work on the escalator’s gears while he waited for the wave of people to wash up the stairs. One of the workers wiped his hands with a blue hanky. Hum, never seen one of those used for that.
If he hadn’t stopped to clear a spot for his “Room for rent in a gay household” flyer he would have been there for this train.
He walked down the stairs. He had time before his shift at the hospice. He liked to be early to drop in on his current pet patients. He wasn’t supposed to get “involved” but after five years he hadn’t learned the trick that shut off his heart.
He couldn’t massage without sharing more than the friction of his hands with the stubborn, fragile bodies of the HIV’s on whom he worked. Each touch needed a bit of the heart to convey any healing. He tapped the cross around his neck, it held the heart of Christ that passed between his hands and the hearts of the men he touched.
Steven was breathless after he sprinted up to the studio. At the top of the stairs a printed sign pointed the way: “Thicket Auditions around the corner.” “Corner” had been crossed-out and “bend” scrawled underneath it. He smiled at the joke as he turned the corner and was in the room.
At the far end a bald man picked up some papers that had scattered on the hardwood floor. He pushed his glasses back, “Steven Thomas?”
The man extended his hand, “Evan Daniels. Pleased to meet you. Pic? Res?”
“Oh yes, yes.” Steven unzipped his gym bag and took out an 8-by-10 with his résumé stapled to the back. “The pic is about a year old. I can shave my moustache or do whatever with my hair. There’s a misprint in my height. As you can tell I’m 5-foot-6 and not 6-foot-5.”
Evan glanced at the picture as he handed Steven three pages. “Read these over and we’ll take it from there.”
A cold read. God I hate this business. He took a breath and scanned the page. He sensed Evan’s eyes on him.
“Mind if I … uh … go around the bend and read these?”
“Certainly,” Evan chuckled.
David sat heavy on the sofa, clicked on the TV remote, slipped his loafers off, closed his eyes to enjoy that first moment of cool on his feet. The man who invented air-conditioned shoes would make a fortune. He opened his eyes to the clutter around him. Where was the TV Guide? It’s listings were a more reliable guide to important future events than astrology.
It was in the little dining nook by the remains of his breakfast. He didn’t want to expend the energy to get it. He put the remote down and took off his socks, tie, shirt, t-shirt. He lifted his butt an inch off the couch to slip off his pants and underwear and took them to his bedroom.
He stroked the red, white and black H’matta mask on the wall. The wooden tribal totem had been handed down from his great-grandmother, it was the dual-sexed spirit of abundance. “What do have planned for me tonight?”
The door buzzer rang. It was Robert Ing, aka Miss Ing Thing.
He buzzed Ing in and slipped on sweat pants and a T-shirt. He glanced at the mannequin in the corner that nagged him to finish what he had fallen asleep in the midst of two nights ago. The inspiration had ebbed, and as he studied it, the gilt patina of gold weave sent him a guilt signal. The over-wrought piece was for Miss Ing Thing, one of the drag stars of the city, who was there to check on the gown’s progress.
David had designed special costumes for several years. When he had started, he hoped it was an entree into the fashion world.
Ing lit a cigarette and looked over the work.
“I promised you something with a collar bigger than your ego.” A three foot gold collar jutted up around the neck of the dress.
“In that case I’d have to wear the CN Tower and my neck isn’t that thick.”
“You can always use it as a butt plug,” David retorted. “But we wouldn’t see it.”
“Are you saying my butt is a bottomless pit?” Robert stubbed out his cigarette.
“It’s a hard reputation to live up to, but you’ve got what it takes.”
Ing was small, around five foot, and demanded gowns to help him tower over the giant drag queens in the city.
“Big collar means lower heels.”
“If my heels get any higher I’ll be wearing chairs. David, baby, I love the collar, but will they see my little face in there?”
“As long as you keep your mouth open they will.”
“Will it be ready for Pride Day?”
“Sure. A few more stitches and a fitting.” Stitches! Ha, more like welds. These gowns weren’t dresses but sculptures to catch the wild spirits of the wearers.
“I must run. I have to check the flyers for my hospice benefit next week. You will be there? I’ll be wearing your road-kill number. They love it when I wear the Leader of the Pack on my back. Remember no one else is to set eyes on this till they see me enter in it.” Ing shut David’s balcony curtains.
“Tata.” With a quick peck on David’s cheek he was gone.
David remembered this was the night he had promised to drop in on Mark at the hospice.
Kevin, in the middle of the Terminal, was unsure which direction was which. He didn’t want to drag his bags any farther and was afraid to leave them to look for a phone. His Mom had warned him that she had seen on TV, how people turned to talk on the phone and then turned back to find their stuff gone.
Mitch was supposed to meet him here forty minutes ago. Had Mitch got the time wrong? Was that Toronto time or east coast time? His watch was still east coast so he reset it. Was he an hour late, early or what? And he had to piss bad on top of everything. Where was that goddamned Mitch?
Over the crowd he heard his name. A moment later Therese appeared.
“Mitch is at the bar.”
“How unlike him.”
“Tell me about it.” She pulled back her thick black hair and pushed it into an elastic hair band. “How was the flight?”
“Good. I gotta take a leak, bad.” He was about to dart to the toilets, but where were they?
“That way honey,” Therese laughed. “Just past that gap after the broken pop machine.”
“Be right back.”
The washroom was cool and silent. Several men were there and he had to wait for a urinal. He wasn’t sure where to look. Someone exited a stall and he dashed in.
When he was done he went to the sink and while he washed his hands he looked at the reflection of the people behind him. The moustache he had started three weeks ago had began to fill in as reddish fuzz. It matched his freckles but not his dark brown hair. His eyes met the eyes of someone in the mirror. Was that an invitation?
He blushed and rushed out. It took a minute for him to reorient himself. When he got back to Therese, Mitch was with her.
“Well cuz, welcome to the big bad city.” He gave Kevin a huge hug. “We’re gonna have to get some meat on them bones.”
Mitch was a big guy. At 6-foot-2 he was at almost a head taller than Kevin. He’d been a high school wrestling champ and his job had kept his muscle from the decay into fat. He worked construction as a cement finisher and promised to get Kevin a job.
“Let’s haul ass while the light shines,” he barked.
They gathered up his suitcases, duffel bag and guitar case, and went to Mitch’s van in the parking garage.
This past summer the alphabet appeared on the north side of the Danforth. It starts at Pape & ends at Woodbine. The block letters are filled in with dark night sky.
Over the past year my TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 468 to 470! Doesn’t sound like much but I did a major cull of followers who are no longer active on WordPress or who have never ‘liked’ a post. The WordPress map show my hits have come from over 70 countries around the world. USA still tops the list but that China & Bangladesh are in the top 10 is a surprise. Nigeria in the top 20 – but behind Malawi! Kazakhstan! Still no hits from North Korea 😦 My Tumblr is at 346 followers. 229 Twitter followers.
My top ten posts of the year includes 1 out of the archives! I also started a new blog – Second Sight – where I’m posting about my Wiccan/Druid explorations. Fewer photos & fewer posts as well.
In 2021 I did 227 posts; in 2022: 231 blog posts plus several on Second Sight. I’m not counting the posts from ten years ago I resurrecting as Flashback Friday. Four posts a week is enough for me to deal with. So far no complaints lol.
Picture Perfect finally came to an end in September with just over 188,00 in 133 sections! It may get another edit before I ‘release’ it as an PDF. I plan to repost ‘City of Valleys’ from 2012 starting in 2023. It only runs at 130,000, but who knows what a fresh edit after all these years will do to it.
I watch endless movies & documentaries. One that I have rewatched & kept to rewatch again is the documentary ‘Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra’ which starts as history of the Australian aboriginal dance company but becomes a powerful mediation on the cost of creativity. The dancing is stunning, the music is incredible & the cost of creativity is heartbreaking.
Memorable was ‘Eijanaika or Why Not?’ a 1981 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura. This is an epic period piece about ordinary folk, in spectacular colour. A plot too complex to sum up but the ‘carnival’ world is amazing. Another an incredible Japanese movie written & directed by Kurosawa was ‘I Live In Fear’ from1955 – starring Toshiro Mifune. A devastating look at how the bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki affected the emotional climate of Japan. Despite bad aging make-up Toshiro Mifune gives one of his best performances. Worth searching out. Both of these via TCM
I also watched the DVD of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Endless Poetry – the follow up to The Dance of Reality. Both are autobiographic film journeys though his creative path. Surreal, imaginative, constantly surprising – for example, his mother’s dialogue is all sung bel canto. On the extras he rants about the loss of ‘art’ in mainstream cinema & difficulty of getting funding for his type of film. Will there be a part 3? Depends on crowd funding.
As usual no English-language films made the list. But I did see some plays in my native tongue (lol). We got back to the Stratford festival & throughly enjoyed all that we saw. In particular their production of Richard III that was staged perfectly & performed with energy & passion. Also I loved Hamlet 911 – highly experimental & multi-layered.
I read dozens of books over the year but the one that stands out is The Masterpiece’ Emile Zola’s powerful exploration of the creative drive, the emotional & psychological cost of both success & failure. Why isn’t Masterpiece Theatre making films from these classic novels. How many versions of Persuasion do we need?
The return to ‘normal’ life has been simple enough. I continue to mask when shopping, travelling on subway, going to plays, I’ve had all my shots & boosters. My health remains consistent. At the first sign of a cold I do a covid test home test to be sure. I’ve resisted the push to go back to f2f recovery meetings beyond one, that is a short walk from house & everyone there remains masked. Zoom continues to pick up the slack – many meetings have closed but some have become so established they re still getting between 80 & 180 people showing up.
No major plans for the coming year, though I do have a lotto max travel list – nothing international: who wants to get stuck in an airport for a week when a flight gets cancelled 🙂 We’re eyeing some of the coming Stratford season & will be booking a few shows, soon.
Sadly the first version of this post got deleted 😦 so all my research – dates of release etc was lost – check these groups out on wiki for more info on them. The bulk of this is one of my mp3 collections of 60s hit-parade mostly one-hit wonders plus a few groups rolled by famous parents. A couple of performers never really crossed over from the r’n’b charts.
Royal Teens: Lets Rock – remembered for their mega hit Short Shorts.
Best of The Jayettes: who might be remembered for ‘Sally Go Round’ – they lacked the glamour of The Supremes.
Dino, Desi & Billy- famous parents produced somewhat talented kids who managed some tolerable radio-fodder & even played their own instruments.
The same is true for Gary Lewis & The Playboys – expect their hits were bigger & better & more memorable than Dino, Desi & Billy. They also played their own instruments.
Keith: 98.6 was his one hit. He was a victim of a label that didn’t know how to package him or how to compete with the likes of Neil Diamond, BJ Thomas etc.
Brenton Wood: 18 hits – Gimme A Little Sign was a cross over hit from the r’n’b charts but he couldn’t compete with white singer covers of his songs. Sweetly soulful but not as bluesy as Otis Redding.
Finally on this mp3 collection are The Turtles. Their songs frequently turn up in movies to establish a time era & a psychological mood. The band’s need to do ‘deeper’ material ended up with them leaving their label & the lead singers joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.
A couple of stand-alones on the shelf: a double cd of Ruby and the Romantics: their one hit was Our Day Will Come – a brilliant romantic song. Ruby has a warm inviting voice but the band’s success was mainly on the r’n’b charts. Finally another stand alone that jumps us into 1990’s Rude Luck, out of PQ. Fun, soulful pop with a dash of hiphop. Bought in Montreal in 1993 as a part of my attempt to improve my French.
Thoughts and Prayers
how ill does one have to be
to deserve healing prayers
I don’t mean those blanket
‘thoughts & prayers are with you’
but more specific ones
where names mentioned
not prayers for healing either
but for the strength to survive
no one knows
what will work
what will kill
what the cost might be
when quality of life
is a balancing act
what do we sacrifice
hopes, prayers or opportunity
is it worth it
do I want to be a brain
without a body
do I want to transcend the body
to live on memory
to distance from touch
so I can … what …
yes I want to be healed
even though I am well
unless age is a disease
the same way language is a virus
is being human
is immortality the cure
not thoughts & prayers
I am tried of the standard response of different levels of government, of people who get media attention for their utterances regardless of their relationship to the issue – like who really cares what a Kardashian thinks of the earthquake in ….. It’s not as if anyone is going to say – ‘they deserved it.’
I don’t know what the ‘solution’ for mass murders in the USA is, but it’s clear that ‘thoughts & prayers’ isn’t the way to go. Neither is making teachers & students take gun handling classes. Here in Toronto After a recent rash of assaults here in Toronto I’m waiting for H&M to start marketing kevlar lined sports wear for taking public transit or just walking home after a movie. Thoughts & prayers aren’t going to protect me & aren’t going to pay my hospital bills after the fact. Actually here in Ontario those would be covered already. But in the USA, if you are not properly insured, the victim pays for treatment. Stabbed in the street during a robbery = $100,000.00 for treatment. Hospitals will not accept your thoughts & prayers as payment.
Some people are suffering for attention- literally. Not to diminish anyone’s pain or trauma but often we get so mired in it there are often conversations, relationships, built on comparing the degree of our hurts. At a recent gathering at least three people spent most of time comparing their experiences in hospitals. Almost competing to see whose was the worst/best.
‘How’s the weather? Let me tell you this damp makes my hips ache so I can hardly walk.’
It’s not that I am different to the war on the Ukraine, to the poaching of endangered animal species but I am numbed by the fact that there is no sense of change. Change would cost the wrong people profits – but they can afford a press agent to write a release about their thoughts & prayers. Imagine what Musk’s $300 billion loss could do that those thoughts & prayers can’t. I don’t really care, I’m only blogging this for likes & reposts.
The WP map does show my hits have come from 22 countries around the world with Mauritius still in the top 10! Hello Trinidad – invite me down to give a workshop lol. The most popular posts were no surprise. I’m glad to see my Wednesday poetry ‘chats’ are garnering more interest.
Watched some great films. The DVD of Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Endless Poetry (2016) – follow up to The Dance of Reality – both surreal, poetic autobiographic films that are stunning visually & intellectually challenging without budging an inch in regards to plot. In an extra Jodorowsky rants about the difficulties of making films outside the studio system, about making films that don’t involve violence, adventure or rom-com romance. In fact some of this film was financed by crowd funding. No word on a part of the autobiography.
Mexican Guillermo del Toro has managed to interact with the studio system though his first few films were ‘credit card’ creations. One of which is Cronos (1993). I’ve sent his before many years ago & it was worth seeing again (thanks to TCM). It is an astounding horror movie told with great acting, excellent plotting & stunning attention to detail. It does go on as he runs out of steam & plot for the last ten minutes. When ever people climb to the top of buildings you know someone is going to fall to their death (yawn).
Less predictable is Keisuke Kinoshita’s Ghost of Yotsuya (1949). A fun, tense, Japanese film that reworks a familiar Kabuki plot: a man murders his wife so he can marry a wealthy woman & is haunted by the ghost of his first wife. Is she really a ghost of merely his guilty conscious? I’ve seen other Japanese versions of this plot & love it. Diabolique owes something to this plot.
A TV competition show I really enjoyed was Best in Miniature. Produced by the CBC! They did a Boxing week marathon of the first season’s episodes. I was totally unaware it until this marathon. Miniaturist build ‘doll’ houses & fill them with amazing, tiny, details. One contestant had a working, small, pottery wheel on which she threw real clay vases etc. The winner had the most effective story (a haunted house). A new season starts in February & I’ll keep my eye open for it. Season 1 is available to stream now on CBC Gem.
The festive season was made more festive thanks to a couple of advent calendars I bought for myself. One was of crystals/stones that was full of mostly polished pieces i.e. smoky quartz, sodalite, etc. some were palm stones, some were points, a pendulum & even a bracelet. The ones I didn’t want went into Xmas gifts. The other was a witchy one that I started in the middle of the month to be finished on January 6. It had a variety of items: spells, candles, ritual salts, soap etc.
January promises to be a much quieter month.
I had been using my collection of ‘found’ art for ‘Picture Perfect’ posts. But there is still a sizeable backlog – some from the wonderful Craven Rd. fence. Others spotted in the trash! A few strategically placed on people’s front porches.