Music of Masculinity

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I recently did a couple of posts in my music series about The Rolling Stones. It started me thinking about the role music played in my teenage year. How what I listened defined what I believed was masculine. In all footage I’ve seen of The Beatles there is nothing but screaming, swooning girls – no boys. In fact pop rock music fell into those two camps – most of it was in the girls camp. The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits were for girls, The Rolling Stones, The Who were for boys. Donovan: fem; Bob Dylan: masc. Boys who like music too much were suspect – girls could sing along – boys couldn’t – lol. 

The Stones ‘Satisfaction’ was clearly about getting laid, The Beatles “I want to Hold Your Hand’ was clearly about holding hands period. Hand holding was safe for girls. The Stones were never innocent & many of their songs were clearly misogynistic i.e. ’Under My Thumb’ or were calls to violence ‘Street Fighting Man’ – these were the proper role models for real boys – real boys wanted more than holding hands. They wanted action, or revenge. Never mind the fact that by the time they recorded ‘Street Fighting Man’ they were millionaires not revolutionaries.

So how did this resonate in my life at the time? The sneering misogyny & objectification of girls (rarely were they women until they got to the Honky Tonk) was masculinity defined. I felt I would never be masculine enough, aggressive enough, daring enough to live in the reality of their songs. They sold a myth that I saw as reality – much like the Hollywood fantasy that the love of the right person would give you reason to live.

I don’t even think I found the Stones sexually attractive – even then there were rumours that Mick was a bit bi – I had a buddy who said he’d have sex with Jagger but, to be honest, I found Jagger to be too lizard like for me. Speaking of lizards I my first pop jo sex fantasy was the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, then Foxy Jimi Hendrix, but I digress.

I’ve blogged about growing up with out any real role models in a culture that had distorted sense of gender that I ended up with my own distorted sense of masculinity. Pop music of the time merely echoed that that distortion – real men were Born to Be Wild whereas faggots like me could only dream about it.

Rolling

 

Stones 

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A Million Reasons

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A day at a time I’m looking forward to the Stratford Festival’s 2023 season which will run from mid-April through October. It features four Shakespeare plays: King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II and Love’s Labour’s Lost; two musicals, Rent and Monty Python’s Spamalot; along with Les Belles-Soeurs, A Wrinkle in Time, Frankenstein Revived, Wedding Band, Grand Magic, Casey and Diana and Women of the Fur Trade. Click Casts for info about the productions.

We’ll probably being booking tickets to see King Lear, Spamalot, Les Belles-Soeurs (with an amazing cast including Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Diana Leblanc plus a million trading stamps), & Frankenstein Revived (a new dramatic movement piece). Probably either of the comedies. Richard is being modernized into the 70’s & frankly after the ill-conceived modernization of Hamlet last season I’m not interested.  Grand Magic has some appeal – it’s hard to resist Italian comedies about resort magicians.

I have vague memories of seeing Les Belles-Soeurs what back in the late 70’s but I can’t see if was here in Toronto or while I was living in Cape Breton. I recall Jane Eastman as one of the sisters. Sisters! Right – an echo of King Lear – a play about sisters, betrayal & revenge – pretty much the plot of Soeurs. I guess it’s all relative.

(photos from scenic route to Stratford)

Won’t be booking tickets until the new year once the festive gifting damage has taken its toll. There’s also the matter of physical condition. As one gets older driving for more than two hours can be draining – now that the return trip now clocks in at 4 hours I have to consider – is it worth it or should we wait for the dvd release of these productions? 

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Election Fever

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Election fever runs high in Toronto – ha. I’m one of those who votes as soon as the advance polls open. I look at the lists of candidates I can mark an X for & only recognize those currently already holding an office. I look over a list of candidates running in other districts & am gratified at the diversity of names but none of them are familiar to me (not that they would be, right).

As far as I know I’ve received no flyers from any of the mayoral candidates. There have been no advertised ‘meet the candidates’ events – no glad handing at major Danforth intersections – no house-to-house campaigners (to whom I can complain to about the lack of lighting around the on-going Greenwood Station ‘upgrades’).

Oops we did get a visit by representatives of one, to put up lawn signs. They didn’t ask if there any local issues of concern to me. The one ward representative flyer that was shoved in our mailbox, sometime after 10 pm, was for someone whose top priorities were housing, business recovery, safety – when I flipped it over, there was a rant about the TTC infringing on a copyright! A conspiracy of false evidence & more. 

I’m sure glad I couldn’t vote for them. I say couldn’t, because, I’m in Ward 29 – Toronto/Danforth; this candidate in running in Ward 14 – Parkdale/High Park. Though, on second thought, they probably would have made our city politics a little more interesting lol.

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Halloween 2022

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Walking the side streets in east end Toronto I see that Halloween decor is getting as popular as Christmas decorating. Houses with strings or orange lights, some with illuminated spiders, ghosts or skulls , plus the growing variations of inflatables. Giant grinning cats with heads that rotate back-and-forth. Shelves of candy – now mostly little chocolate bars – at Shoppers, WalMart & supermarkets. 

As a youngster in Sydney, Cape Breton the only decoration one might see was carved pumpkins with candles inside. We used pillowcases to go door-to-door for trick-or-treating. The candy was usually those toffy/taffy kisses, apples or oranges, & if you were lucky small bags of chips. Sometimes a small bag of unshelled peanuts. Those little chocolate bars hadn’t been invented then lol. Now one has to provide bars that have no nuts! I guess soon we’ll have to find some sort of sugar-free chocolate bar too, or ones with no trans fats. Sorry, but I’ll leave the sorting of treats to parents.

Store bought costumes – cowboys, pirates etc. Or something homemade – old sheets reprised as ghosts, your Dad’s oversized sports coat sort of things. Rarely a superhero & nothing that lit up with led’s. Costumes to school if Halloween fell on a school night. It was an innocent time. At that age I had no awareness of the pagan roots of event. I later discovered it was one of the few ‘old religion’ holidays that the Church couldn’t erase turn into their own – they did try with All Saints Day but well, we don’t see illuminated Saints on peoples front lawns. A giant inflatable St. Teresa hovering in the air would be fun though.

In the past decade, here in Toronto, the decorating for the event has gotten bigger & more macabre – severed hands, feet, heads suspended from trees, skeletons hanging on front porches, zombi arms digging themselves out of the ground. Bats, spiders, plastic skeletons of dogs, owls, dinosaurs even spiders (which have no skeletons). It is easy to guess which house has children by the number of doll limbs dangling in the trees.

Halloween 2021:

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Stratford Day Trips

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My day trips to Stratford always start the night before by getting my fluids ready – a travel mug with my personal mix of cranberry juice, coffee, & water – for drinking on the way there. For the drive home – A water bottle that is about 1/3 cranberry juice & the rest is water – plus a couple of snacks: a granola bar & a banana. I pick out a cd to listen to in the car – something that’ll amuse me & my partner. Last trip it was a compilation of Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald etc. 

motorcycles that buzzed beside us for an hour or so on the highway – like a pair of affectionate puppies

Before we leave in the morning around 9 a.m. I’ve already had breakfast, checked my email, meditated some, showered. We’ve taken the same route for decades – up the DonValley into the 401. Some days there are so many big rigs we can’t see the overhead signs :-(. Around 10:20 I’ll start in on my travel mug special. 

For the last many years that has been a constant expansion of the 401 so traffic often gets funnelled into fewer lanes & there is always a bottle neck just past the airport, & another one as we approach Kitchener/Waterloo. We make our first stop at a Tim Ho’s by the Conestoga Doon Campus – ballers are ready to be emptied to make room for Tim’s. I like their RedEye.

We take the New Dundee Road from there turning to a country road that takes us through Haysville, to another road through Shakespeare – where we stop at the Shakespeare Pie Shoppe for – pies! they made great seasons fruit pies & also excellent meat pies. Next stop lunch Stratford. We usually arrived by 11:30.

Most often we lunch at Features – good, unspectacular, reasonably priced food. Bacon & eggs are my go to there. This past year they changed location by a couple of blocks to bigger, brighter space. Once a season we go to Bentley’s. They do a great grilled cheese. 

If there’s time a stroll & a visit to the remaining bookstore before re-parking near the theatre of the day. Usually a visit to the gift shop, where, to be supported, I often force myself to buy a t-shirt lol. The drive home is usually twice as long for the same distance 😦 Traffic getting to Toronto is terrible. Made worse by big rigs that block overhead sign. That’s when the cd of the day does its soothing work. 

I usually take lots of photos with my camera & also cell pics to send to friends. They always envy the Pie shop shots. 

tarts galore at The Shakespeare Pie Shop

We’re already planning our shows for the Stratford 2023 season. Spamalot for sure, Richard II – a Shakespeare I’ve never seen, at least one of the other  Shakespeare & maybe Frankenstein. I feel a tingle in my bolts just thinking about it:-) 

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a short piece inspired by Haysville

The Petition

We had driven through Haysville many times on our way to Stratford. It was one of those small towns with little for tourists to do except maybe stop at the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. There wasn’t even a service-station with a Tim Horton’s.

The village became a bit of a joke because of the  ‘Children of Haysville’ sign on the edge of town: 

In the years we’ve driven through we’d never seen a child, or an adult for that matter. Never seen anyone go in or out of the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. The only car we ever saw in either direction was our own. Once I did notice some clothes drying on the line. All white, gently undulating in the afternoon sun.

We joked that if we stopped we’d never leave. We always stuck to the child-suggested speed limit then floored it when we got past the village limits.

This time there were yellow plastic streamers wrapped around the trees on either side of the road. We drove slower than usual.

Stapled to a plywood board tied to one 

of the trees by the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant was a large piece of paper. 

We stopped and got out of the car to see what it was.

It was a petition to halt an expansion of the highway to allow for larger trucks. A widening to extend the road on either side that would result in destroying the many hundred-year-old trees which had been marked with yellow.

We signed the petition. The Happy Pie Shop was closed for the day, so we got back in our car. 

The car wouldn’t start.

Mabon Harvestfest

A few months ago I came across a site Ye Old Rock Shop that offered, amongst other goodies, spell advent calendars. 24 days of spells that you do a day at a time. The kit includes the various crystals, herbs, candles, verses to do each of the daily spells. All are simple & other than the bath/shower ritual, take less than five minutes to do. I started the kit so that the last one would be on Mabon. I did changed the sequence so that the bath ritual would be the final one as my Mabon ritual cleansing.

Mabon is the Fall Equinox, bye-bye summer. I adapted a ritual from Llewellyn’s Mabon book. I added into my mix a loaf of bread I had a friend make that included fresh herbs from my garden – delicious bread. After sunset I crumbled some of the bread & scattered in the directions around my house. 

struck by lightening

On Saturday, Sept 24, I took in, with my bread-baking friend, Toronto Pagan Pride Harvestfest, held at Dufferin Grove Park – day of workshops, rituals, performances & of course, a market with vendors that were actually in sync with the occasion. The Fest fell nicely between Mabon & the new moon on the 25th.

heart of the matter

The weather was perfect. After a few cool days I was happy to swear shorts. Transit was uncomplicated – no unexpected shutdowns. Though the number of masked continues to drop. After a stop at Tim Ho’s we walked down to the Park, arriving around 11 a.m. The market was smaller than I expected but the quality of goods & vibes from the ‘retailers’ were welcoming. 

altar decoration

So welcoming I actually made a few purchases. Some lighting-struck oak bark! From Crown and Crescent . A spectacular green fluorite heart from Witch Plz . I loved the tiger eye pendants but I can’t wear jewelry 😦 I was hoping for more of a sabbath presence with Samhain approaching. But that’s a quibble. Overall I was happy to have taken it in, joined their Facebook Group  for other events. So mote it be.

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Taking The Bait

Back in the BS (Before Sobriety) days I was a fountain of opinion, often rather uninformed, but that didn’t slow the flow. The less I knew the more dismissive & cynical it would be. I felt obligated to have something to say. In recovery I eventually realized that I didn’t have opinions just smart-assed one-liners that could shut-down any dialogue so my lack of thoughtful insight would remain hidden.

Over the years I have learned to stop taking the bait to be dismissive & cynical, particularly with things that are irrelevant to me – you know I frankly don’t care who wins an Oscar, which political party is in crisis mode, what newsworthy figure looks amazing in a jaw-dropping anything. If anything I more dismayed that some of these things are worthy of taking up so much space in the media.

One good thing about not taking the bait is that I hardly notice things that once would have got me wisecracking or disturbed. Even things that I know something about I can step back & think – Is it worth it to wade in? How important is it, to me, in the long run? Am I saying things to appear smart, intelligent, witty to be smart-assed or to add something constructive to the dialogue? In a culture where being critical, negative is a sign of intelligence & to be positive, non-judgemental is to be delusional or stupid – it can be a challenge not to mouth-off.

Through spokenword performances I’ve learned that what I say & what you hear are often two different things. I’ve stopped apologizing when people choose to take offence when none was intended – the fact that my piece about my Dad triggered bad memories about yours is not my fault. The fact that my gay sex positive outlook is a sign of the moral decay & destruction of family values isn’t my issue.

When people ask for my opinion what they hear isn’t what I say but what they feel is in accordance with theirs, if it isn’t then I’m being argumentative or shaming, or am just not as hip, sensitive, liberal, conservative as they are. They don’t want my opinion they want to educate me as to how right theirs is. Then again that’s only my humble opinion.

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Not Bewitched

Took in an event called Witches Night Market at a space in the DundasW/Bathurst area. A friend & I got there around 2:30 in the afternoon & there was already a line-up. It was a walk up a flight of narrow stairs – clearly accessibility was not a concern for the organizers. The space itself was so crammed with vendors even mobile people had issues getting around. Stopping to look was nearly impossible as it made the narrow space impassable.

The crystals, stones, jewelry were generically indistinguishable from one vendor to the next – ooh look rose quartz pendants! My friend, with experience as a vendor at craft fairs, said most of the stones looked like bulk purchases & doubted that much of the so similar jewellery was vendor made. 

I had planned to take photos but nothing caught my eye to bother taking out my camera. The impatient shoppers made it impossible to stop long enough to take photos anyway. I did see log-sized slabs of selenite! I hope their energy was enough to protect us masked people from the large number of unmasked people milling around. 

The word ‘witch’ created a false expectation of something more Wiccan or pagan but this was neither. It was a mild disappointment with tables of candle, crystal & gem sellers, a few card readers but nothing witchy. With Mabon approaching I had hoped for some things related to that but this was clearly a money grab not a spiritual opportunity. In the end I was dismayed not bewitched.

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Cape Breton Calendar Boy

Cape Breton Calendar Boy

I recently ordered a scenic Cape Breton 2023 calendar. (from: The Best of Cape Breton Gift Shop: https://bestofcbgiftshop.ca) I love the photos but I’m more into the ‘old times’ not the ‘today’ on the island – I doubt if these pictures will ever show their ‘age’ & could be for any of last 10 or next 10 years. I prefer vintage photo calendars like these promotional political calendars from 2000, 2009, 2010. My Dad sent me the first one, then my sister sent the others. Were they published in the between years? I don’t know. 

But these were very smartly put together with excellent, fun archival photographs. Many photos of streets in Sydney. My favorite shots are the groups – high school hockey teams, well-dressed teens at a high-school prom, cadets in formation. Looking at them I think ones similar to these would be great fund-raisers. I would certainly buy one of, say, Sydney Academy class photos over the decades or one of local hockey teams over the decades, pee-wee baseball anyone?

On some of these are notes of things I was doing here in Toronto. The August 2000 reminds me that I went to the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-lake to see a production of Lord of the Flies. The July 2009 reminded me I saw Chekov’s Three Sisters at the Stratford Festival that month. June 2010 – nothing noted so a quiet month, I guess. 

But in July 2010 I attended the Writer’s Workshop that was a part of The Loyalist Summer Arts program in Bellville. This was all before I started the TOpoet blog so no links to these past events 😦 I only know I saw Lord of the Flies by checking the Shaw Festive web site to see what shows were in that season. Calendars – thanks for the memories 🙂

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Garden Glance

Thanks to sunny days & persistent watering my garden is doing nicely this year. I rarely post pictures of it as so many people do better flower pictures no one needs a stunning rose with a single raindrop on a petal picture from me 🙂 So there’ll be nothing of that sort in this glimpse. Beside the soil in the yard, thanks to the towering fir tree, is too acidic for roses.

On my back steps I have herbs along with standard petunias, marigolds & several varieties of morning glory. As you see by the photo I’ve been ‘training’ the vines to grow along the eaves. These will be mainly heavenly blue. They are climbing string that I’ve put up for the, they do need to be reminded to follow the string though.

Along the shady side the back porch I have moonflower vines being trained in the same way. The twine loops across the window so I hope to enjoy themwhen This is the first year these here. Moonflower blooms at night & too much sunlight slows them down! In the basket with them are some coleus, which also prefer shade & they are doing very well here.

Not everything in the garden was planted by me, or anyone else! These petunias self-seeded along the back steps – the seeds are from the ones I had in a planter box last summer. The morning glories beside them are also self-seeded from last year. There’s even one, at the top of the photo, growing out of a crack in the steps. The will to live.

I ordered my elephant ear bulbs (Colocasia) on line as I didn’t find a nursery that had the bulbs. I’ve had them in the past but digging them up every fall was too much work. These I put in a pot about eight weeks ago. Once sprouted they grew quickly & will continue to grow to about 6 ft with huge ears. It’ll winter inside & next spring I’ll consider planting in the ground to see if I can get them to their full height & size.

This is only a portion of the garden. The rest can be seen by appointment only lol.

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