City of Valleys – 21



From the Holding Pen Steven was able to peep out and watch. It boosted his energy, and tonight the seats were quick to fill. Not unusual for a last show. This was a benefit for both the hospice and Mark Winslow’s proposed class action suit. That meant an audience of politico homos as opposed to theatre fags.

“Ten minutes to curtain.” Monica poked her head in.


“Not yet. I’ll step in tonight. New sexual dynamics.”

“Better you than Evan.”

“Steven, you are terrible.” Monica giggled.

Steven faced the wall. It was near pitch black except for glow tape on the wall over his costumes. There was a very dim light but he learned to do his changes in the dark so Tim couldn’t watch.

He strained to hear the house music over the chatter of the crowd. Tim hadn’t arrived yet, but his first entrance wasn’t until about ten minutes into the play. Steven’s was five minutes after Tim’s. 

It was the wait to start that made Steven anxious. Once the play began, it was a train with an inevitable rhythm that overrode anything outside of it. Except one of the passengers not showing up. Was there a black out before Tim’s entrance? He had memorized his cues but no one else’s.

“Places on blackout.” Monica whispered. That meant about one minute. In the blackout the music faded, the audience settled down and Steven would hear the pitter patter of big actors’ feet on stage to be in place for the lights up.

The music didn’t fade. No pitter-patter. The lights dimmed, and a couple of spots came up on stage.

“Good evening. Before the show starts I want to thank you all for coming out to support this action against the city and the police department.” 

Steven peeked out. Mark Winslow stood in the light. Usually these speeches were saved for the end of the show.

“We face …”

Tim flashed past and into the dressing room.

“… what will be a difficult but rewarding legal battle. As a community ….”

Tim rushed into the Holding Pen.

“Sorry,” he panted. He hugged Steven. “I told Lisa.”

“What?” Steven pushed him away.

“About you and me. Now that the show is over.” 

“Thank you for your support. Let the play begin.” The audience applauded.

In the silence of the blackout, Tim breathed in his ear. “Have you told Luke?”

The lights went up.


“Is this it?” Kevin expected the theatre to be more than this dark, dusty space. The seats were stacking chairs in uneven rows that spilled around all four sides of the large room over assorted wooden risers. The risers got higher near the walls. The space held 150 people, tops.

“You were expecting a high school auditorium?” Paul handed him a program.

There wasn’t a stage or a curtain. In the center of the room were four narrow cots on wheels in a cross formation. A vase of yellow flowers on a stool in the centre. A spot light drew his focus to the flowers every time he glanced at the stage.

The theatre was packed. He recognized several men from Big E’s. It was odd to see them without drinks or cigarettes.

“What’s it like to be in the audience for a change?” One of them stopped to ask him.

“No lights in my eyes for a change.”

“Full house,” Paul remarked. “Benefits do that. Gives them something to bitch about in return for their donations.”

“Hello, Kevin?” A tall grey-haired woman stood in front of them. “Kevin McLeod?”


“Theodora Mathias. You might know me as Teddi M.” She gave Kevin her business card. “I’ve heard you at Big E’s. Give me a call.”

“Not the Teddi M.?”

“None other. Most people expect a six-foot black man.”

“He’s … I mean she’s … TknoSonk! Paul, they’re big!”

“So we are.” Teddi smiled. “The cover picture doesn’t do you justice.”


“Queer Plus? There’s a stack in the lobby.”

The lights dimmed.

“We’ll talk later.” She went to her seat.

Kevin began to get up, but Paul grabbed the waist of his pants.

“One doesn’t leave at the start of the show.”

“But ..”

“Wait till intermission.”

The lights came up again. Mark Winslow stepped into a spot between two of the cots.

“Good evening. Before the performance starts, I want to thank you all for coming out to support this action against the city and the police department.” 

Kevin fidgeted. TknoSonk! Queer Plus! He had posed for Waki, their photographer a few Saturdays ago. He wasn’t told it was for a cover. 

“Thank you for your support. Let the show begin.”

Kevin hadn’t heard a word. The audience applauded. The theatre went black. He was aware of the fumble of feet but he wanted that pile of Queer Plus where he couldn’t get at them. 


David tilted in his seat against the wall. He’d seen the show enough. Opening night had wracked his nerves, it was as if his costumes were responsible for missed cues. Work on the clothes changed what he saw in the play. He was more interested in how the fabrics lit and moved than anything else. 

Once the house opened, Evan’s excitement level rose as seats filled. David enjoyed being part of a couple. A pleasure that lessened when Kevin McLeod arrived with Robert Ing’s tattooed toy.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Monica slipped into Evan’s empty seat beside him.

“What is this thing about the next show?”

“What do you mean?”

“No one wants to name it. ‘The Scottish play,’ and not Mac …”

“Don’t.” she put her hand over his mouth. “It has a history of ill winds, dark forces smiting those who would dare produce it. I remember one production where the cast came down with food poisoning on opening night.”

“I’m sure. If someone utters the name the ill gets iller?”

“Some say so, and who are we to mock the boat? There’s lots of superstitions about the theater. Evan has his own little quirk.”

“Such as the Scottish play?”

“No. His is about the last line.”

“Last line?”

“Not hearing it till the first performance. Steven even didn’t see the last line till opening night. Lucky it was a short line.”

“Weird. I like it.”

“Gotta give the ten minute call, and Tim isn’t here yet.”

“Fucking actors.” Evan sat. “Closing night, full house and where is Tim? I got Mark to do his pitch now. That’ll buy us an extra five minutes.”

“What if Tim doesn’t show?”

“That wife of his wouldn’t let him miss a show. You’d think it was her up there. If cars are male penile extensions, Tim is her … breast augmentation?”

“Must be uncomfortable for her to watch Tim and Steven.”

“Acting, my dear boy. Acting,” Evan exclaimed with a faux British accent. “She told me she and Tim practiced that scene so Tim could imagine it was her he was fumbling with on stage.”

“He and Steven are pretty real.”

“Too real. If you catch my drift …”

“They are getting it on offstage?”

“If Tim is to be believed.”

“I can’t see it. What has Steven said to you? Nothing I bet.”

“Steven doesn’t say much.”

“Shell shock after the assault.” David suggested.

“Could be. He is good to work with. Took direction, asked the right questions, made smart decisions, didn’t argue. A director’s dream.”

The lights dimmed. While they were down, Tim dashed across the stage.

“I hate the final show.” Evan kissed David on the mouth.


Grateful that their proximity to the audience prevented conversation, Steven closed his eyes to focus on his performance. The action on stage was a rain that washed away all distractions. When Tim made his entrance, Steven breathed deep to find John. John was close, but Luke hovered.

Luke, I’m sorry. There is nothing here. There never was anything. I love you. Remember that.

A gun shot was his cue. He shifted his shoulders, adjusted his neck and entered. He was John. Gabe was there, as indifferent to him as John was to Gabe. The scenes progressed. The train ran smooth. Each stop and start, exit and entrance, sped by without problems.

“Oh, I didn’t expect you to be here.” John entered.

“Who did you expect?” Gabe answered.

“No one. I was looking for a place to be alone. To think.”

“Think? About what?”

“About this situation. About what brought us together.”

“Do you mean …”

“I don’t know what I mean.” Their eyes locked, looked deep. A slight dim and a warm hush enclosed them, pulled them closer together.

“I … I …” Gabe faltered.

“I know.” John stroked his hair. “I know. Murders. Death. Through the death I’ve felt it but,” Gabe kissed the palm of John’s hand, “we can’t, till we know who’s responsible.”

Gabe brought John to him. Kissed him. “We can.”

Gabe unbuttoned John’s shirt. John took Gabe’s hand and pressed it over his heart. Gabe’s other hand undid John’s belt buckle. The train glided from one stop to the next as dusk descended. 

They were naked, on the bed, in love. The light that hovered around them smeared from yellow to red, dimmer till blackout. Some nights Steven sensed the men in the audience shift in their seats to get a better view, forced to squint as the lights faded.

The blackout would be long enough for them to scamper naked off stage. Tim to the main dressing room, and Steven to the Holding Pen.

Tim lay on him. “This isn’t enough for me.”

“It is for me.” Steven shoved him off and exited.


Yves rubbed his right hand. After an hour of mouse clicks it began to ache. He clicked aimlessly through pictures of naked men. For the most part they were too young, too pretty, too hairless, too static; click to the next one after only the head of one downloaded.

When he allowed a whole picture to appear it was a strip tease. Pictures materialized from the head down to fill the screen, the cock the last part revealed. 

Hello Ricardo. A pleasure to meet you again, so soon. You look very nice. You have had a little shaving done since I saw you five minutes ago. Sorry I didn’t get to wield that razor.

At the bottom of the picture was the model’s name. 

Boris! Last time it was Ricardo. A man of mystery – Brazilian or Russian, what is it?

The pictures were no longer erotic. The first year he was online he couldn’t wait to see who flashed their nakedness. Now it was more an affirmation of sex rather than cause for it.

Well, Jake, you’re not the only one with more than one name. He looked at the picture of Jake he had put up. Mark’s visit played on his mind and he needed to talk about it. On line he might do that with anonymity, but tonight a real human held more appeal.

He had tickets to Steven’s play. He’d attended the opening and although he had enjoyed it, he wasn’t sure what the point of it was. Men with emotions he didn’t understand. Emotions and sex connected in ways that left some of the characters unfulfilled and bitter with each other, except that rare pair who had the alchemy that combined them.

Along with the tickets there was an invitation to the cast party at Lubba’s that night. It was too late for him to get to the play so he headed out for the cast party.

When he arrived, the emptiness of Lubba’s made it apparent that he was early. A sign taped to the front door announced, “Private Function. By Invitation Only.”

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Simply Banshee

When Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years” topped the charts here in Toronto I remember a buddy asking ‘Is that Carly Simon?’ No, it was red-head Mick Hucknall. The band’s first lp was Picture Book (1985), which at that time I had as cassette. I have that & Men and Women (1987), A New Flame (1989), Stars (1991) in my collection. 

The band was good, if unexceptional, the original songs were good, if unexceptional, the cover songs ditto. It was Hucknall’s voice that sold the work. The music progressed to a more commercial, slick sound & by Stars I lost interest – verging on bland, adult contemporary as opposed to top ten. 

Sinclair: Que justice soit faite! (1993), Au mépris du danger (1995): French fun with amazing engineering, & a great singer. Production was done by members of French techno wizards Cassius (whose cds I love). The music is funky, sexy & danceable with songs about love, politics & dancing. I bought these in Montreal when I used to visit in the mid 90’s as a part of learning French. I never really learned much except that lyrics are often irrelevant to enjoyment.

I made a cassette copy of of a friend’s Looking Glass (1987) lp by Siouxsie and the Banshees which I eventually downloaded as mp3. On it the band covers songs by Roxy Music, The Doors etc. They move from their Goth sound to a more alternative rock sensibility & I liked the song they chose to interpret. I’ve heard other lps but they didn’t grab me. I did eventually add Gold: a 2 cd compilation of their ‘hits’ & alternate takes. 

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Bitter Dregs of Defeat

Bitter Dregs of Defeat

there’ll always be

something left behind

there is no such thing

as a clean sweep

so why bother to being with


take what you need

without worry

there are others

to look after the debris

the fallout

the bitter dregs of defeat


don’t get me wrong

winning with a clean sweep

is good

but don’t mock the losers

even the bad losers

who think they should have won

though their score was lower

the problem was in the referees 

in the score keepers the judges 

not in them


they aren’t going to

clean up after themselves 

there are others

to look after the debris



to have their go at the mess

to reshape victory 

into defeat

to shape defeat

into martyrdom

a meal fit for all

On a team competition show, in which the team members change each week, the clear winner’s team lost a challenge & his team members voted him off the game – strategy over-rode ability. He was not pleased & he became a rare sore loser & didn’t hold back his anger. Reality show editing limited our experience of his ‘dismay’ so I’m sure his language wasn’t polite on his exit. 

I say ‘rare’ because usually eliminated contestants claim to be grateful for the opportunity, for learning so much – occasionally one with cry while trying to keep a brave face. As noted I’m also aware of how editing works & so we are only see what the producers want us to see. I for one would like see less gratitude & more spite.

In the circus of American politics we have been getting the full panoply of sore losers over the past couple of years. Losers who blame everything except their own behaviour for not being elected. But those are ‘public’ events – human behaviour changes when there are camera.

Losing at Monopoly in the privacy of ones home is a different sense of losing, right. I’ve never been a good game player because I don’t like defeat, really! I doubt if there is anyone who does, mind you. I feel a sense of disappointing in my sense of self if my plants don’t do well. I know I am powerless over the weather, over animals, bug, that feast on them overnight, But part of me feels I’ve let the plants down. I’m just grateful there’s no with an android phones filming me when ever I’m replanting what the skunks have dug up grubbing for grubs.

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City of Valleys 20



Steven hadn’t found a way to tell Luke about Tim. While Luke had recovered from the assault, Steven didn’t feel his emotional complications would help. The show’s closing was the end of that worry.

“Looking forward to the finish of the run?”

“No more than usual.”

“Don’t lie. You’ll miss this one. Good houses every show. Decent reviews and raves for you.”

“Evan has offered me a role in his next production.”

“What as? Lady Macbeth?”

“No, as the goodly, but conflicted Thane.”

“My my. A bit young stud for that aren’t you?”

“I haven’t taken it. I’m tempted but …”

“But what?”

The “but” was Tim as Banquo. Steven didn’t want to prolong his contact with Tim even with the compensation of his death every night. Tim haunted him enough.

Once he’d returned to rehearsals, he’d kept to himself. With Luke on the mend and his own injuries to heal, it was simple to let the cast believe that was the reason.

Tim accepted the distance, but when they’d begun work on the nude scene, his emotional yen for Steven had returned. Evan saw it as character development and Steven treated it that way, but Tim tried to push it past that with phone calls, invitations to work on their lines outside rehearsal.

Steven made sure that never happened. More than once he told Tim, “We can’t get involved while we’re working. It’s too distracting. After the run we’ll see if there’s anything there.”

Steven found that wine helped him enter his stage character. By the time the nude scene did come up, the emotional business with Tim was forgotten. It was John who was attracted to Gabe every night. 

“But what?”

“Sorry honey. Running lines in my head. What were we talking about?”

“The Scottish play and why you may not take it.”

“Oh, right. Remember that TV pilot I read for last month? They called and I got the part. The shoot starts same week the Scottish play opens.”

“Have you talked it over with Evan?”

“No. I haven’t decided. A series means I could stop waiting tables.”

“If it happens.”

“The lead in MacB is an actor’s dream.” He poured them each another glass of wine. “I have till the end of the month to get back to the TV people. Sure you won’t come? It’s the grand finale.”

“Yes, I’m sure. I am in charge of the cast party.”

“I’ll be glad when this is over to have time to do nothing but you.” 

“That would be a pleasant change.”

“Has baby been neglected?” He squeezed Luke’s inner thigh.

“Do you have time?” Luke squirmed.

“What we start now, we can finish later. Huh?”

“If you aren’t too bushed later.”

“Sorry, I get home by eleven. You get in at one, by which time I’ve fallen asleep.”

“Passed out is more like it.” Luke snapped.

“You asked me not to wait around for you at Lubba’s.”

“I don’t want to fight.”

“Neither do I, but something has been eating at you.”

“You’re so taken up by this play. More than any other since I met you. You get all moody before you leave and when I … shit Steven, I don’t know.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve become one of those self-possessed actors. Remember when I did Joey in ‘The Homecoming’?”

“God, you shadow-boxing all the time drove me crazy.”

“You were afraid I was turning into a psycho-dummy.”

“But you aren’t psycho in this show. Why are you moody here?”

“Let’s get out of town for awhile, after this closes. The Falls? New York? The two of us away from all this.” He held Luke. “We need a vacation. What do you think?”

“You might be on to something.”

Steven kissed him, grateful he had a vacation as an acceptable diversion from the truth. 


David toyed with the foam on his latté. He plunked the cup on the saucer and his spoon flipped to the floor.

“What’s with you?” Mark asked.

“Too much caffeine.”

“And not enough Evan?”

Evan, impressed with David’s initial designs, was more impressed with how amenable David had been to changing them. Evan’s notions weren’t too far from his own so compromise was pleasant. So pleasant that they had ended up in bed after their second costume conference. 

Of all the elements in the show, the one that never elicited a comment was the costumes. They fit and didn’t call attention to themselves, which to David was how he and Evan fit, comfortable, with no excitement.

“Any news on the Basher Boys?”

“You know this court system. Arraignment, postponement, postponement, arguments, more postponements. Thank God the evidence is solid.”

“Is it?”

“My sources tell me forensic evidence connects the club they used to at least three other attacks. Of course, they did have the wallet of the guy they had killed that night. Stuff from other robberies was stashed in one of their apartments. Tight as drum, but they’ll get off.”


“Poor misused heterosexual white boys acting out under the influence of drugs and the stress of having homosexual eyes on them. They weren’t at fault. The culture is.” David said.

“Sounds like we’re guilty and they’re innocent.”

“The leader claimed that his guilt after killing the first gay guy was so much that he was sick with himself for it and, get this, that made him more pissed off with gays so he had to get even.”

David had been on his way home from work when he ran into Mark at Tencity. He was tempted to say “Lighten up, girl friend,” but didn’t want to set Mark off on some gender tangent.

“How’s your case?”

“I got a lot of work ahead of me; until the criminal charges are dealt with, I can’t proceed with a civil case.”

“That could take years.”

“Don’t remind me. But enough about that crap. Anything beside Evan happening in your life? I see Index has opened in your old location.”

“Rainbow is more relaxed than Bookies or Index.”

The first week at Rainbow Books he hoped to see Kevin stand at the spot in front of the bulletin board where he had first seen him. But Kevin had disappeared.

After two weeks, he put Kevin’s t-shirt into a dry cleaner bag and hung it in his closet. The sight of it every morning made it impossible for him to forget and he’d have to forget. Nights with Evan helped with that, though Evan was for the time being, not for time everlasting.

H’matta hung alone again. Then when Kevin surfaced at Big E’s, the t-shirt came out of the closet. David started to burn incense in front of H’matta for his/her energy to do what David was incapable of: attract Kevin to him.

“You did good work for Evan. I mean the clothes. Very tasteful, a mere hint of other world.”

“You expected a cast of Miss Ings up there?”

“In a Thicket production, that would have fit.”

“Thanks. Clean and subtle is much harder.”

“I gotta run. I’m supposed to be at Yves’ in ten minutes.” Mark grabbed his briefcase. “Mustn’flt be too late.”


When Mark Winslow had called to set up an appointment, Yves expected he was on the prowl to finance his suit against the city, the police and the world.  

“Sorry I’m late. The traffic was bad. Nice place.” 


“Feels like a home.” He looked at the carving. “A station of the cross. The sixth or eighth?”

Yves was uncomfortable. He rarely talked about the religion behind the piece. It was easier to let others reflect on the sensual figures. Horny was much easier to share than spiritual.

“Fifth. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.”

“If I remember, he didn’t volunteer did he.”

“No he didn’t.”

“That why you picked this one?”

“Actually it picked me.”

“Like what happened to Simon.”

“Exactly. Like I didn’t pick to be queer, God picked me to be queer. Simon didn’t ask to help, he was picked by God to help.”

“Simon helped without question?”

“He did need to be encouraged.”

“Don’t we all. Don’t we all.”

“Can I get you something? A coffee or …”

“No thanks. Let’s get down to business.” Mark opened his briefcase. “Were you close to Jake?”

“As close as anyone. He kept pretty much to himself.”

“While I was at the hospice, he had me draw up a will. It’s pretty simple and there is an insurance policy.”

“Insurance? I thought he sold those benefits.”

“He did sell one but had another. The unsold policy was one his family had purchased when he was a child. You are the named as the sole beneficiary of Mitchell Winter Robson.”


“You’ll get $15,000.”

Yves took a deep breath.

“Mitchell Winter Robson was Jake’s real name. The will doesn’t leave much. I am to give you this safety deposit box key. He asked that you deliver the contents to his family.”

“His family?”

“I got the impression that all you need to know is in that box.” Mark put the key on the coffee table. “I’ll do the paper work for the insurance company.”


“I should have done this sooner, but to be honest I forgot. Pride Weekend, and then I was out of town for the summer.”

“Anything else?”

“Not unless you have any questions.”

“Maybe once I use the key.” Yves shrugged.

Once Mark had left, Yves picked up the key. It was ice in the palm of his hand and he dropped it.


Steven liked to be the first to arrive at the theater, to sit alone with the space, with its mixture of make-up and disinfectant. As the day passed from his thoughts he settled into character.

He sat front row centre and breathed deep to relaxed his muscles from head to toe. He breathed in the energy of the space, of this show, of the shows he had done before, of shows that he had seen, the energy of all shows everywhere. 

“Leave some air for the other actors,” Monica joked. This had become a ritual remark and if she didn’t say it he did.

“Yes, Mistress Manager.”

After she got the coffee and tea urns filled and plugged in, Monica busied herself with the props. Steven lay on stage and did some stretches and voice warm-ups.

“I left the Act Two flowers backstage.” he called out.

“Got them,” she called. “You see where Tim put his clothes from Act One?”

“Don’t you take them off at intermission?”

“Usually.” She came out of the dressing room. “But they weren’t there last night. Does stuff like that bug you?”

“Like what?”

“Like actors who don’t look after their costumes.”

“Never noticed,” Steven laughed. “By the time we get to that point, I don’t see that as part of Tim but of Garth.”

Over the next hour, the cast arrived. Some ran through lines to keep them in place. Every performance was another chance to get it right.

Steven and Tim’s first entrance was from the opposite side of the stage and their waiting area was separate from the rest of the cast. It had become called the Holding Pen. 

Because of the layout of the theatre, he and Tim had to be in the Holding Pen when the house opened unless they wanted to dash there in the blackout before curtain. Steven preferred the Pen wait to the dash as it spared him cast chatter and gossip.

He could smell the coffee and helped himself to half a cup. A full cup resulted in distracting piss urges before intermission.

“How is everyone?” Evan burst into the theater with David Walters in tow. “Everyone center stage, please.”

David carried a bouquet of pink roses which Evan proceeded to bestow, one-by-one, to the cast with a kiss on the forehead. “These aren’t in lieu of money, though if any of you would like to settle out of court, my lawyer would appreciate it.” He had one rose left. “Who did I miss? Everyone here Monica?”

“All except Tim. Not like him to be late.”

“Better late than not at all,” one of the cast remarked.

“Five minutes to house open,” Monica announced. “Twenty to curtain.”

The performers scurried into the dressing room. 

“Last show. How does it feel?” David followed Steven.

“Terrific show. A great run.”

“Anything need mending?” David glanced over the costumes. “Nothing? See you at the party later.”

“Opening the house now.”

“Tim isn’t here!” one of the cast whispered.

“Can’t keep a full house waiting.”

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Smalls Creek

Monday morning May 15, 2023 in Williamson Ravine. Starting from the Gerrard St. E stairway entrance.

disappearing underground
patches of sunshine
users made bridge
tinder brick
Christmas tree haven
shadow and sunshine
from the bridge between the the other two stairways
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Wes Montgomery

By Wes Montgomery (1923-1968) I have over 2 mp3 collections Finger Pickin’ (1996) live December 1957, Movin’ Along (1960), Boss Guitar (1963), Guitar on the Go (1966) includes tracks recorded in 1959 and October and November 1963, Bumpin’ (1965), Dynamic Duo with Jimmy Smith (1966), Further Adventures with Jimmy Smith (1966), California Dreaming (1966), A Day In The Life (1967). As stand alone: Impressions; The Verve Jazz Sides 1995 2cd compilation.

My introduction to Wes was late in his career by A Day In The Life by which time he was on the A&M label with producer Chip Taylor. I loved his mellow electric-elastic guitar tone & was amazed by his covering of pop songs like Windy & A Day In The Life. Listening to them now they are a bit too reverent & verge on muzak. But this was the Chip Taylor style.

Many jazz players enlivened their careers by working with contemporary pop material to appeal to younger  listeners. His earlier work is much jazzier in a tradition way – his playing is always precise & tasteful. I love the two lps he recorded with organist Jimmy Smith & they are well worth having. The Verve sides are a delight too. 

Rounding out the mp3 cds are: Herbie Mann and Dave Valentin: Two Amigos (1990); Herbie Mann and Phil Woods: Beyond Brooklyn (2004) – two fun jazzy sets with Herbie Mann. Good solid work that verges on easy listening.

Art Pepper (1925 –1982): The Return of Art Pepper (1956), Artworks (recorded 1979 released in 1984). His career was repeatedly interrupted by several prison stints stemming from his addiction to heroin. His sax is slightly aggressive, propulsive & adventurous but rarely becomes squawky. He covers jazz standards & originals.

Chico Hamilton (drummer): Man From Two Worlds (1963) Gábor Szabó, The Further Adventures of El Chico (1966). Gábor Szabó is another of my favourite easy to enjoy jazz guitarists. I picked up a double lp while I was living in Cape Breton & loved it. Another jazz player who did excellent covers of pop music. On the hits lp were tracks he recorded with Chico, so I eventually added some Chico to my collection. Solid, sometimes intellectual jazz, old-school & fun to listen to.

Here too is Wilbert Longmire’s Revolution (1969) – another jazz guitarist in the Montgomery mold in a fun funky set of mostly covers – including the Beatles’ Revolution. Finally Art Farmer (Trumpet): Crawl Space (1977) – a fine, moody, romantic set of excellent jazz that is a good introduction to jazz in a more exploratory & relaxed style.

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Clean Enough

Clean Enough

holding water

in hands

that have enough trouble 

holding on



hands washed more & more

with the harsh soap of fear

what did I touch last

who did I touch last

who did they touch last

when did they

last wash their hands


can we make a quick stop

at the sanitizer station

you cannot hold

the water

with those hands  

until they have been


by the state

that holds us all hostage

to their needs

and our fears

of not being clean enough

to meet

the approval of cameras


cameras set up over every sink

every sanitizing stations

these hands 

cannot hold enough sanitizer

to make the risk of touching

worth while

Perhaps you can tell this was written during the thick of the pandemic here in Toronto. Hand sanitizers stations had shown up in the subway, at the entrance to stores, bottles of it were on restaurant tables, in washrooms, people carried sanitizer in their cars, purses, knapsacks. Elbows touching took the place of handshakes. Hugging was forbidden. Everyone was a threat. ‘Don’t breathe in my direction.’

I didn’t resist the various restrictions on masking, social distancing. I didn’t my rights as an individual were being compromised by these in anyway. Sides were drawn though & you know, the truth is, I didn’t contract covid. I know many did, many died. I still mask when shopping, when travelling on transit & going to live theatre.

In this piece I push the paranoia a little further than it went, at least here in Canada. Cameras were not setup to make sure we were using those sanitizers, I don’t think anyone was arrested or even fined for being unmasked or for standing too close together. I know in other nations this was happening. There was lots of lots of griping, protests, but such is life. The government can’t make everyone happy.

The economy dipped, air quality improved, life went on, for the survivors. Interesting discoveries were made – remote working works well; investing in pharmaceutical companies is more secure than investing in gold. We may even be ready for the next deadly virus wave, & there will be one. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee – sweet,eh?