Paywall

pull up a chair

Would you pay for FaceBook? How much would you pay to be ‘verified’ on Twitter, or to even use twitter? Would to pay not to have ads on yahoo, tumblr – your television? Whatever happened to MySpace – (according to internet it ‘has mostly transitioned away from social networking to become a curated music and entertainment site.’)

Most publishers require that their authors have an online media presence – a webpage, now of course, one must also have twitter, instagram, tictok, tumblr, WordPress, Facebook & be an influencer. All at your own expense. Of course maintaining all that connectedness leaves little, or no time, for actually writing anything. You also have to have verified followers – the more the better.

All of these media traps were intended to give the writer a way to promote their work – to make the public aware of them – you know the most frequent followers I get on twitter are other indie writers looking to promote their work – not followers who want to discover anything about me or want to explore my work. One thing wordpress doe sis show me where my ‘clicks’ come from – I don’t think I’ve ever had one from twitter – even for posts of mine that have been liked & even reposted. zip. 

I am glad that all of these sites do allow me to ‘curate’ who I follow & who follows me – I am fast to block followers who are clearly spammers or who don’t interest me. Annually I go through various lists of followers & who I follow & remove people (that is if they are people & not bots).

Most of these free sites aren’t actually free. Supposedly information based on each of your clicks is marketed to advertisers so they can target their products more successfully – never mind the fact that most people are more annoyed by ads than are clicking on them to shop. We click on Amazon or Esty etc to shop for what we want. Though one can now pay at many sites to have your post promoted to people the site feels would respond to it – whatever. At once time I used FB to promote events, there would be dozens if not hundreds ‘I’ll be there’ responses & if two them showed it would be a miracle. Same with events that I said ‘‘I’ll be there’.

How much would I pay for any of this, beyond what my provider charges to access the internet in the first place? Not much – though I have paid for some sites. My WP site had a business plan so I don’t have to worry about the photo archive. I do also have ‘subscriptions’ to a couple of gay men’s cruising sites as the free membership is severely limited. 

If I paid for anything, say, at Yahoo, it would be to be targeted by products I might actually use, not by this endless barrage of smart skirts, beachwear, strapy sandals, t-shirts covered with kittens, etc all for women. Where do I sign up for an endless barrage of men’s underwear, bulky snow boots or t-shirts covered with barbed wire. So much for the accuracy of algorithms that are selling my privacy. 

Would you pay for twitter? 

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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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Eye Spy

Eye Spy

what do you mean

you saw nothing

you were there

that is you in the footage

you were a witness

you were splashed with blood

yet

you saw nothing

you were looking the other way

didn’t you understand

what you saw

are you blind to the suffering

didn’t you hear the screams

the gun fire

the police sirens 

how could you not see anything

just because

you weren’t the object

because it wasn’t about you

doesn’t mean

you bear no responsibility 

you where right there 

in the middle of things

not looking up

not looking around you

not taking out your ear buds

only focused 

on what you held in your hands

January 6, 2021, Washington, DC. Endless footage of the ‘events’ that day. Patriots or insurrectionists? We have the images but hindsight filters the events to suit the viewer’s point of view. That this happened cannot be denied but eyewitness or even camera images substantiate both interpretations. Is it any wonder we often choose not to see anything.

I see news headlines, video clips about the war on the Ukraine, sandwiched between ads for strappy sandals I’ll never wear, between headlines that so & so star looks amazing at 62 in her abs revealing swimwear, incendiary bombs strike children’s hospital (what were those children wearing, I wonder). We’ve become so inured to catastrophe is it any wonder we often chose not to see anything.

In fact I think we’ve been so swamped & deadened with information overload most of us don’t even care about good news. Is that good news merely an illusion or a delusion? It’s not that we don’t care but there is so much to care about these days it’s impossible to focus on one issue without being accused of being non-supportive of another one – indifference makes one the enemy. There is no neutrality. If you don’t use gender neutral language you are transphobic.

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Our Glorious Leader

Our Glorious Leader

I won

I won

I’ve been elected

there’s no doubt about it

<>

yes the other candidate 

got more votes

but you don’t understand

those are votes for the candidate 

they didn’t want to see

lead the country

I got the least votes

which means the people

want me the least 

least of all the slate

that’s how it works

it’s not my fault

the voters didn’t read the ballot

to mark an X for the one

they least wanted to see win

<>

my first act

will be to decrease spending

on education

so fewer people can read

because reading leads to understanding

as long as they can’t read

I’ll be able to lead

Some of you may recall a recent USA electoral kerfuffle in which even the winner wasn’t allowed the privileged of being acknowledged as the winner by the loser, who quickly became the whiner – no that’s not true, he was a whiner from the first time. He did win that first round but proved to be as bad a winner as he was a loser.

The united in the USA is dubious notion as each state is fiercely autonomous as demonstrated with the continuing & persistent lack of mask & vaccine uniformity – rules change from state to state. In some it is permissible for bars to ban anyone wearing a mask; in others you can’t enter a bar if you aren’t wearing a mask. How do you keep track? I guess there’s an app for that.

I sometimes feel the conflict comes from the ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ even if what is being ‘suggested’ is for the good of all. Or a sort of stubborn toxic male pride – you know the sort of pride that keeps men from asking for directions or from even looking at map. A real man is never lost he’s just not going where you thought he was going.

That’s the art of spin – where being lost becomes a matter of interpretation not what has happened. So losing an election is a misreading of the votes. After in editing drawing X through paragraphs, even pages, means it is to be deleted, discarded. So the fewer ‘x’ you get on the ballot the more people approve of you. Congratulations! Welcome our glorious leader.


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iWitness

iWitness

I turned off the sound

mute evidence

is easier to ignore

if I could turn of the headlines

the bottom of the screen scroll

I would do that

<>

I don’t look at the images

as closely

when I can’t hear

the inane babbling of announcers

underlining what is flickering

<>

I don’t want to witness 

this camera-shaped reality

any more than I want to eyewitness 

these events

I can’t look away though

that would be denial

I have to admit these things happen 

are happening

regardless of the spin

that results in 

no one being accountable 

except the victims 

it is clearly their fault

for being where the camera is pointing

<>

I’m fine with that

as long as the camera

never points at me 

Talking with a friend recently about the effects of covid distancing & isolation it was clear we live in a culture addicted to distraction. It is almost irrelevant what that distraction is, we want entertainment not information. Take the US election situation, the ideal distraction from the covid pandemic. I’m surprised that the votes of those who have died of covid since the U.S. election have not been declared invalid.

I stopped reading the newspaper many years ago & trust me I became less stressed. I have another friend who suffers from insomnia & ends up watching the news to pass the time. When I suggested turning off the news they reacted ‘this is important, I can’t hide my head in the sand.’ They get NO sympathy from me when they complain about not sleeping well. Stress is more appealing to them than sleep.

All news is ‘camera-shaped reality.’ The lens has no consciousness but the the user of the picture can change its meaning without altering a pixel. History is seen through the eyes of the historian, not the context of the actual time, but by the time of the historian. There is so much history lost because it was considered irrelevant, or unsavoury by the historian. All those female impressionist painters considered dilettantes in favour of male real painters. Don’t get me going on the erasure of lgbt facts of famous lives.

The piece reiterates another of my hobby-horses – the blaming of victims. Not to forgive is often perceived as being even more serious than the actual ‘crime.’ Pressing charges becomes seeking revenge as opposed to having some one face the consequences of their act. ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t enough but for some it should be – if they go that far. 

Are you ready for your close-up?

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Know Better?

ages  names

44 44 58 37 49 47 50 40

 

Selim Esen

Abdulbasir Faizi

Majeed Kayhan

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam  

Andrew Kinsman

Dean Lisowick

Soroush Mahmudi

Skandaraj Navaratnam

 

all men

old enough 

adults

not teen-age runaways

not ‘I’ll live forever’ twenty somethings

men

one commentator said

‘who should know better’

 

all men

all with beards

all found dead

two white

6 missed

2 not missed until found dead

1 unnamed even when found dead

7 found online

 

all looking for love

that isn’t clear

all looking for sex

that isn’t clear

some seeking asylum 

acceptance 

finding limits pushed

but not expecting 

to be pushed beyond limit

 

most so fearful

of discovery

they took what they could get

without … I want to say complaint

but no one knows

no one can know

what they were looking for

what they expected

we know what they got

death

 

a talking head on TV said

‘they learned their lesson’

what lesson

that homosexual men

are all sadistic murderous predators 

a cliche

once more proved valid

or

dating apps aren’t to be trusted

that searching for sex

deserves to be punished with death

that they got what they deserved

 

they deserve better

than some talking head on TV

shifting blame

from perpetrator

to the dead

I performed this piece as part of my Shanty Tramp set on Jan 26, 2020. I placed it in the middle of the set along with another of the Terra Cotta poems. All of them deal with the serial killer of gay men here in Toronto in 2017/18. Like some of pieces it deals more with the media coverage as the cases unfolded. It also echoes the naming of names that I have heard/read in relation to the massacre of trans people. This list isn’t as long. It also echoes the use of names & ages in the news. Ages are used when they aren’t relevant to the report – ‘an age gender died in a fire.’

 

Here I separated the ages from the names of the known victims. I have not memorized or perfected their pronunciation for performance – I never want them to come easily off my tongue the way they did with news announcers. I don’t even connect the names with the statistics around race etc. I don’t venture a statistic about their sexuality.

 

 

The commentator quotes are real. I found myself watching some of the coverage, even things on 2020 & ‘news’ shows of that ilk. I also read something into the subtext of remarks made by various talking heads – essentially these men got what they deserved for being gay – the same logic behind spousal abuse – if she had been more compliant etc. The shifting of guilt from the perpetrator to the victim.

Some of the subtext was that these weren’t good queers like the ones who got legally married & adopted children in heteronormative acceptability. The shaming of sexuality – no, it is broader than that – the shaming of enjoying a variety of sex partners (regardless of genders) played a bit part in the media coverage. Only married homos or celebrate homos are good – the rest get what they deserve & this serial killer gave them justification for this lesson.

My lesson: media will use any excuse to be condescending & self-righteous. 


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Completion

Unsubstantiated

each day of silence

creates impatience

people want to know

families loved ones

want to know

reporters want to know

completion impossible

until we know

yet even when we know

the details are shocking

 

speculation remains unsubstantiated 

though the layers of facts

builds up

for two to three to eight

fragments found buried deep

in planters

under the noses

of even the lookers

of even the ignorers

 

each day of silence

is remembered with longing

the silence of unknowing

offered a solace

that the noise of facts

can never provide

Another piece that was written when the alleged serial killer of gay men was finally making the news. ‘Alleged’ is one of those words that allows media to distance itself – it doesn’t make a commitment to concrete fact – much like the notion of the serial killer that was deemed circumstantial & unsubstantiated for a few years.

The dots connected the many missing men were not connected but considered merely coincidental – after all, homeless and/or immigrant men were disappearing all the time – in some cases this disappearances went unreported or weren’t seen as connected to the gay missing.

This piece is as much about the media’s use of language as it is about the search, which by this time had finally turned up remains in planters. No names were associated with those remains while forensics determined if they were even human.

The alleged killer was identified as ‘a person of interest’. I rarely write about ‘current events’ but this one resonated deeply with me or many reasons – the prime being that I casually met one of the victims some time before he went missing. Many of the victims were a physical type I find attractive, the ‘alleged’ killer was not.

 

‘the silence of unknowing’ includes the not knowing the details of how these men were murdered. For some just knowing their loved one was involved in gay activities was already too much but the nature of the sexual activities involved was more than they needed to find out. I’m not sure what ‘sense of completion’ resulted for anyone.

 


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Horror Rock

I have been thoroughly enjoying American Horror Story: 1984. It features great work by regulars Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd & stellar work by John Carroll Lynch (he was also amazing in Chanel Zero’s No-End House – 2017). A season without stunt casting, unless one considers the 80’s look stunt casting. And what a look it has, from the workout gear, music, even bands (will Billy Idol do a guest spot in the finale?)

The plot is ‘Friday the 13th’ summer camp massacre with a handful of horny camp councillors, who one knows from the get go, that are all going to die. Throat cutting is very popular. Identities, loyalties, motivations constantly shift. Everyone is given a juicy back story while the series has time to explore the random coincidences that link them. Every trope of the genre is explored with respect & humour. Each week another one comes to the surface. Ah now it’s the spirit of the mother of the boy who drowned in 1948 whose brother grew up to a …. that is behind all the mayhem. For once I’ll be sad to see the season wrap up. 

I’m now four episodes into the new season of Castle Rock. With Lizzy Caplan as a seriously disturbed Annie Wilkes the show has a real backbone to build on. Add Tim Robbins as Pops Merrill, this promises to be a great mash up of Misery and Salem’s Lot, plus we’ve already had a good helping of Stand By Me & Gerald’s Game. But one doesn’t need to know anything about those King works I just named checked, to get pulled into this multi-layered story. So many layers I’m still not sure who the ‘bad’ guys are or where the plot is going. 

Each episodes has added a new layer or direction in the many plots that are already in the air. Who is Annie running from, is Joy her child, what about Joy’s friends – can they be trusted, what’s with this growing army of reanimated corpses, will Barkhad Abdi be able to keep the Somali community safe? Yes, that’s right there is a large community of Somali’s living in Jerusalem’s Lot. Steven King often uses ‘the other’ in his novels & here they are clearly present.

The race issue, which I don’t think King ever really uses in his writing, plays a big role in the superficial conflicts – but perhaps not in the supernatural conflict that the show seems to be building up to. The budding romance between the two teen girls brings yet another sense of ‘other’ in to the mix & I’m interesting seeing how that is developed. Of course, as is often the case, girl-on-girl romance is more acceptable as a plot device. 

I’ve also been enjoying Fan Critical’s Castle Rock podcast as they discuss each episode in some detail. They also talk about which of the King works are being infused in each episode from plot details, character names or even locations merely mentioned. I look forward to their comments almost as much as I do each episode.

Mugged

there are objects in my home

that haven’t change position since 

they were first placed there

silent sentinels of memory on shelves

coffee mugs from places visited

tea cups & saucers 

from the estate of the dearly departed

some rarely even moved to dust

they sit indifferent 

to what they are imbued with

 

was it a yard sale 

where that collector plate came from

who cares about those hours 

spent scouring second shops in Montreal

for just the right knick knack

I don’t remember where I bought 

many of these things

yet I hold on to them

ornamental diversions

for guests I suppose

to demonstrate my sense of humour

how eclectic I am

 

I am reluctant to let go 

repurpose or regift

I do resist now 

adding to the accumulated debris

maybe this is the day 

I’ll force myself to let go of one thing

one dusty treasure

 

o let there be a blank space to savour

can I clear the field

resist the call 

of what are now fragmented 

nostalgic moments

in an unmoved unused 

coffee mug

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
Thursday 7 – Hot Damn It’s Queer Slam! – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep

the owner of the cafe

had called someone

an inappropriate name

it was a twitter thing

a video 

posted of the 

owner saying 

those offensive things

now no one can go

to the cafe

without being considered guilty

of saying those things themselves

 

now

to be honest

I haven’t heard

what the owner said

I haven’t watched the video

this is all the context I know

and now

I can’t even mention the name

of the cafe

I can’t even admit 

that I’ve been there

in the past

or let it be known

that I regret

that I can’t go to that cafe

ever again


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Profiting From Guilt

Profiting From Guilt

you think the guilt

this guilt

this humiliation

is a benefit

that I somehow enjoyed

being reviled

being castigated by the press

by pundits on TV

people who have never met me

but who felt no compunction

in demonizing my actions

 

my alleged actions

which by the way

have never been conclusively been proven

guilt by accusation

not by proof

but once that accusation has been uttered

innocence will never return

a loss that was a benefit

 

oh yes that was the main benefit

I have experienced as a result

my face on every news channel

by name on so many lips

my reputation

in every gutter in the world

 

good thing

I’m not here to be popular

only to be rich

that’s right I’m rich

thanks to your condemnation

rich beyond your wildest accusations

and I will continue to gain

overtime bonuses 

when anyone continues

to defame my name

even though I don’t enjoy the guilt

I sure do enjoy the interest it earns

 

The moral compass of our media culture skews to entertainment – not to justice, or equality. This piece reflects how media & the sacrament of celebrity absolves men (usually caucasians) of responsibility, accountability & repercussions for their actions. In fact it rewards them with attention. As Oscar Wilde said – ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity.’

 

A current celebrity convicted of rape gets more press than his victims. He is a martyr & they are crybaby bitches who should have been grateful for any attentions he may have blessed them with. I’m sure once he’s done his time he’ll end up with a sitcom (set in a prison) or perhaps a talk show.

 

 

Somehow seeking redress for harm turns victims into villains for wanting more than mere acknowledgement of harm done. The apology is now deemed sufficient. To want more is unfair, greedy & cruel. Reparations become court battles in which only the lawyers seem to profit.

 

I enjoy the way this piece moves from ‘you think’ – wherein the pov is showing a tinge of remorse – & ends up with them enjoying the media sacrament of notoriety. Almost saying that any negativity on our part is envy of their ‘fame.’


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