Soap Box Oratorio

Soap Box Oratorio

cleanliness is next to entitlement

body wash is essence of elitism

you are all trapped in a commercial web

that tells us 

only pleasant smelling people

have value that deserves respect


don’t believe me

see how fast you get served

at any coffee shop

if you aren’t deemed clean enough

by some snooty barista

who barely makes enough to pay

for their hair colour 

they take one sniff

and are ready to call the cops


someone said 

there’s no deodorant like money

but let me tell you

that ain’t true

no matter how rich you are

if you aren’t clean enough

you’re not respected


just a whiff of unwashed armpit

a strand of greasy hair

can be enough to make people

turn away from you

move to another seat on the subway

they cling to their need

for fresh smells

antiseptic is purity


perfumed is worshipped

the unwashed makes them uncomfortable

in their sanctimonious shelters

where they don’t have to smell anything

that hasn’t be sold to them

that hasn’t been given 

the cultural seal of clean


it’s all marketing

you are all sheep

taken to the slaughter 

sprayed with rose water

so you don’t have to smell

your own shit 

as your throat is cut

to make them a healthy profit

When I was in high-school two men’s aftershave were very popular: Jade East, Hai Karate – so inescapable just looking at photos of vintage bottles brings back the scent. I was more a fan of Jade East. Both are still being made! They were my introduction to the notion that one had to be more than freshly showered to be clean smelling.

Just go into any cosmetics sections of a store & you can see elitism in action. Does it cost more to make Chanel Blue than it does to make Old Spice? Is the product packaging for one more expensive to manufacture? Part of Old Spice’s former popularity was due to how easy & affordable it was to buy. Indie drugs stores would have a cologne/perfume section & kids could afford Old Spice for Father’s Day etc. The stores didn’t have to invest as much into stocking it. I know I bought it for my Dad quite often, but I’m not even sure, now, if he liked it 🙂

This piece sprung from a news item about someone being denied service in a coffee shop because they ‘stank.’ They had the money, knew what they wanted but staff shooed them away. The person refused to leave & the police were called to remove them. The coffee shop was later taken to court for human rights violations, or something like that. The corporate head office issued an official apology.

About that time I also came across a statement that coffeeshops were just another demonstration of entitlement – which at first I thought was funny but I realized there is some truth to that. There is a hierarchy with semi-indies like Balzac’s, then chains Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, Country Style, Dunkin Donuts. Logically those two thoughts – the smell of culture, the coffee of choice – interwove to produce that first line, which easily led to the second.

Excuse me – time for my shower.

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

Evening in Paris

The smell of home, the smell of the past. Proust’s Remembrance was triggered by a smell. I wish there was a smell that could do that same trigger for me. Music does hold some ‘nostalgia’ for me but so many of those memories have been written over by time. Some disco can take me back to my early coming out days but listening to the Stones or Hendrix doesn’t take me back to my formidable years. There a couple of songs that do that – The Supreme’s Baby Love & The Beach Boy’s California Girls.

spots polka dot fun

A few months ago, on a bit of a whim, I braved the cosmetics counter at Shoppers to ask the ‘expert’ if Evening In Paris was available. This was a perfume I used to buy in Sydney, N.S., at the local drug store, for my mother as a gift. I couldn’t recall the last time I smelled it.


As I expected it was not available. The clerk had never heard of it either. So she looked it up on her smart phone – some empty bottles were on sale on eBay. This told me that it was probably discontinued as well. My next step was to the ultimate expert: Google. Wiki filled me in somewhat – it had been discontinued in the early 80’s – the head notes were talcum powder & rose floral. But it had been reissued in 2010, or something like that.

blackshorts fun in the woods

No online retailer in Canada carried it but there were a few in the USA. But it was out of stock at all of them except, you guessed it, Amazon. So from my local indie drugstore I’m faced with the corporate monster. Shipping to Canada doubled the price :-(. I didn’t need the scent of the past that badly.

red parking fun

But I asked a friend of mine in the USA, who was coming to visit in October, if he could order it & bring it along. He did. It was in my hands by Thanksgiving. Not the bottle I remembered & but it was the scent I knew – very feminine, powdery & damask rose. (according to the web: ylang ylang, violet, cedar, turkish rose, vanilla, peach, musk and bergamot.) Memories resurrected? Some. I’ve put it on myself if I’m not going anywhere just to smell it on flesh. It’s very familiar, sort of comforting but no flash backs to good or bad events. Old Spice is another story 🙂

(2019: I’ll be taking the bottle with me when I visit in August so my sister can sample out & see what memories it might bring her.)


Evening in Paris

Evening in Paris

was it my mother’s favourite

as a boy

I used to buy it for her

for birthdays mothers day

from McVicar’s

the local drug store

couldn’t have been too expensive

in a cool-to-the-touch indigo bottle

some years she’d ask for bath cubes

drugstores in those days

didn’t depend on cosmetics for sales

the selection was very limited

a counter only

not half the drug store

positioned so you had to

wade through those many musky options

before you could get to the chocolate bars

then the prices had to be reasonable

it was just a local store

not a department store

money was limited

I remember there was also


white shoulders

for Dad old spice

and growing teenage boys

jade east

hi karate

Evening in Paris

had been discontinued

in fact perfume is going

the way of smoking and peanuts

smelling good

infringing on someone’s

right to breath free and easy

it’ll become something sinister

only done in private

by invitation only

petals attar of roses