Best Friends

Best Friends

hi

text comes

I see the number

not a name

which means 

it’s some guy I know

but who hasn’t been

in contact for nearly a year

<>

I’m like that

I restrict the list of saved numbers

to those I hear from 

or want to hear from

how are you 

<>

I don’t ask

who is this

I don’t really care

I’m mildly curious though

I enjoy the mystery

<>

after few texts

I think I recognize him

by the use of language

he’s feeling melancholy

bored

with the lockdown

<>

I say we all are

we’ll get through it eventually

he wants to visit me

I say we might meet

when social distancing is less critical

he agrees

but misses seeing me

<>

I say

you’re sweet

he says

you’re my best friend

<>

I don’t reply

there nothing left to say

to someone

who gets in touch

after a year of a pandemic

with their best friend

because they are bored

and me

that best friend

isn’t sure who they are

I still have a flip-phone. It has limited memory so I keep it as clear of extraneous stuff as possible. No backlog of photos, texts, or phone numbers – in particular number of people I haven’t heard from in over six months. I’m also unwilling to just give my cell # out – I’m not on call, as it were. 

This is an actual experience – actually it has happened more than twice – each time with someone different. I have given the number to people in recovery & when they text me after a year & I reply ‘who is this’ they are dismayed I don’t remember them. Keep that in mind if you text someone after year.

If the guy in this case had said ‘Hi – it’s Clint’ (not the actual name) ‘how r u’ my reaction would have somewhat different. I’d know him several years by this point in time & this sort of long silence was typical. His cell # changed each time he contacted me so no wonder I didn’t recognize this one. Each time there would an elaborate story about his misadventures & apologies. I was not emotionally invested but he was sweet & fun in bed. I also liked his Nigerian accent. 

I wrote this shortly after our text conversation & it went pretty much as recounted here. It was his ‘best friend’ confession that made this memorable. It came out of the blue. I had always been affectionate with him & sort of agreeable in what conversations we had. He was opinionated about immigration services etc. I had no experience & let him go on whether I agreed with his judgements of our culture.

Often his opinions had made things difficult for him in his ‘real’ life – I only saw him for an hour or so at most, every now & then. If I was in his company day after day it would have been different. So when he called me his ‘best friend’ I felt a little sorry for him – that his life was so empty of people that his mistook my affectionate tolerance for something it wasn’t. I also felt that ‘best friend’ was manipulative. It didn’t work & I ended things with ‘take care.’


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A Winter’s Table

There must have been a great sale somewhere on tables to start the year. All of these tables were seen on my walks in the first couple of weeks of January. The last one is someone’s decoupage art project, note that the bottom shelf has been papered as well. The pale blue block of wood was attached to the table. (Either that table goes or I do.) 

curbside glass top
curlicue under glass
legless at the curb
worn to the bone
working the corner
cracked up
decoupage rampage
novel idea
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January 2023 Recap

The WP map shows my hits have come from 27 countries around the world with China taking 3rd spot! I guess all those photos of the terracotta warriors did the trick lol.

City of Valleys:  4 sections posted so far, about 10,300 words 10,300 with 123,000 remaining to be edited then posted. Editing has been tweaking language for clarity as opposed to rewriting. As with Picture Perfect, creating a new cover image each week is great fun. All images are my photos of Toronto – from skylines to construction sites to laneways. The CN Tower may show up in some of them lol.

Most interesting TV I watched was BollyWed set in Toronto’s Little India, which is a ten minute walk from my house. Not quite a comedy but not a drama either. It follows the daily routine of one of the many Indian fashion stores on that strip. I pass the ‘set’ whenever I’m in the area – you can’t miss the brightly painted building – which was like that decades before the series was filmed. Part of the charm is that the dialogue is real, as opposed to every character delivering a punch-line or a one-liner.

Movies? Nothing exceptional. Limite (1931) – a silent Brazilian film that is the cure for insomnia. More interesting to say one has seen it that to actually have seen it. Troy (2004) a spectacle in which the battle sound editing was the star, at points the sound even pulled focus from Brad Pitt’s hair.

we’re always hard

Finished reading: Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain by Ronald Hutton. An amazing book that runs to nearly 1000 pages which includes 250 pages of index & source citations. Surprisingly amusing as it explores the rivalry between wiccan/pagan sects & also their rivalry with archaeology. 

The only ‘written’ records of druids are found in Roman texts written well-after the Romans colonized Britain – those texts were filtered through the need to portray ancient Brits as savages & their beliefs as superstitions. (sound familiar? just look at the way North American colonists portrayed the native population to justify the way they treated them).

An easy read, that is well-researched. Lots about Stonehenge as well. It was published several years ago. Recent discoveries about the connection between Stonehenge & Anatolia might rewrite some of it. Well worth the time.

Eh?

Burning Shakespeare by A. J. Hartley is a fascinating, complex time-travel, fantasy novel commentary on the importance of Shakespeare. A plot too convoluted to encapsulate but easy to follow as one reads the novel. Great fun & highly recommended.

“¡Hola Papi!”, by John Paul Brammer, is a sweet, perceptive collection of essays by this Mexican-American (Amerxican?) about his growing up gay, stumbling through relationships & discovering a sense of identity deeper than the label gay Latino. I identified with much of his struggles around these issues. A must read. 

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Shawn Sage and Kyu Sakamoto

Shawn Sage is one of the few musicians I’ve actually known. I first met him when he worked tables at the defunct Renaissance Cafe. I didn’t realize he was a musician until a week or so later when he did a set at one of many shows at the Cafe. So his cd ‘One Of The Good Guys’ is more than great music but also full of fine memories. His ‘She Don’t Want My Eyes on Her’ is one of the best country songs ever.

Next on the shelf is an mp3 collection of around-the-world international hits. Starting with: Kyu Sakamoto (Japanese): Best 9 + 2: Best remembered for “Ue o Muite Arukō” (1961) (“I look up when I walk”) under the Americanized title “Sukiyaki” (1963) which has no actual connection to the song. Sakamoto was killed at 43 in 1985 in a plane crash. This is one of my all-time favourite songs. I can’t describe the emotions it calls up in me. This was the start of my love of most things Japanese. He is a sort of Bobby Darrin type. His other songs are nice but none as resonant at his hit.

Domenico Modugno: The Very Best Of  Italian. He is best known for his 1958 international hit song “Volare – Nel blu dipinto di blu“, for which he received 1958 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year! I’ve heard dozens of versions of this song but never the original, so auditioned it on YouTube first then found this hits compilation. An Italian version of Dean Martin. 

Lucienne Boyer: French – Parlez-moi d’amour – wiki tells me she “reigned as queen of Paris nightlife during the 1930’s.” I’m not sure how she came to my attention but she fits in with US singers like Ruth Etting who were popular through there 30’s & then were forgotten. Sound quality is good & she’s clearly the forerunner of Edith Piaf – only with a less emotionally overwrought voice & style. 

Hermeto Pascoal from Brazil transcends genre. His experimentalist approach covers samba, folk, jazz, music concrete, string quartets & choral. I have some of all scatted through my collection. Here is his Slaves Mass (1977) that includes some of the best musicians of the time i.e. Ron Carter, Flora Purim & makes an excellent introduction to Hermeto if you are unfamiliar.

I ran across a YouTube video by Filho da Mae out of Portugal for his album Mergulho (2016).Visually stunning it lead me to download the lp. The music is a soothing mix of organic (acoustic guitar) and electronic. I’d love to name off a hit by popular Venezuelan musician Hugo Blanco but I suspect he’s too obscure outside of South America. Here is his 40 Anos 40 Excitos. Hits from the 50’s to 90’s. If you are a soccer fan you may hear on his songs which has become a popular chant at games. A Venezuelan Frank Sinatra.

Finally something quite different & almost modern from 2017: Finland’s Herra Varjojen Herra: Loputon Yö 2017 which includes their amazing reworking of Arthur Brown’s Fire. I was looking to see fig anyone had done a cover of the song & this was one of the ones that I found. Good fun. I am the God of hellfire & I bring you to Finland lol.

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Modem Flirting

Modem Flirting

tease doesn’t work

any more

yeah there was a time

when a photo of a man

in tight pants

you know the ones

that fired the imagination

with hefty contents 

enough to get me off

<>

that was a time when 

I was young

inexperienced

dreaming of what

that contents would be

the sound it would make

as it was released

from captivity

<>

that was a time when 

being queer

was unsavoury

illegal

edgy

one was an outlaw

in fearful closets

leafing through 

body builder magazines

trying to hold the flashlight

with one hand

the magazine in the other

& wondering how to jerk off

<>

these days

if photo of a man

in tight pants

didn’t lead to a one of the contents 

or better yet

a video of him handling

that contents

while one sits in a coffee shop

we scrolled through

for the next hefty contents

wondering if there’ll be one

worth jerking off to

<>

imagination is killed

by this endless

fascination with hairless abs

dicks that are slabs

torsos without heads

so that if one meets up

with the real thing

we are disappointed 

in the camera angle of reality

the clarity of real light

<>

we’ve stopped being outlaws

& become 

men who don’t want to waste time

flirting

they’d rather hold a pic of a dick

in their hand

than risk the disappointment 

of the real thing

so many heads to choose from

One of my earliest sexy photo memories is a picture in a travel magazine of a smiling Caribbean fisherman, shirtless but in shorts snug shorts, putting a net up too dry. It was clear that the catch of the day was in those shorts. I kept that picture hidden in a drawer for years. Taking it out when I needed a little inspiration. My shameful secret.

we’re always hard

For decades, until the digital revolution, one could only get ‘personal’ nudes by being a home developer – companies that developed film were requited by law to destroyed all nudes or reported them to the authorities. The same for photos of men kissing, being affectionate in an unsavoury manner. The Polaroid wave ended the dependence of developers or cramming into photo-booths & hoping the curtains stayed closed while you & your ‘friend’ changed positions between flashes of that camera. There are now sites & even coffee-table books devoted to those archival sexy photos.

on my knees for you

Now decades later there remains no secrets to hide or that can’t be revealed by a fansonly link. Some m2m dating sites now have an option for ‘safe for work’ thanks to the ease of revealing all. Who wants a nosy co-worker glancing over your shoulder as you scroll through an ‘Italian Sausage’ dating site.

I can’t say that I miss the fearful closet but I do miss the loss of mystery, of discovery, of surprise. 


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Z is for Zeus

haunted by its glamorous past
Whee
right on the line
clown face?
dry y
is this really z end?
Zeus fading
Final message from Hermes ‘goodbye’

The last two are some of the fading Greek gods on the Danforth sides a couple of years ago. For more of them check out my post from last year The Old Gods Are Fading – https://topoet.ca/2022/11/06/the-old-gods-are-fading 

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Buffy Saint-Marie

I can’t say I’m a Buffy Saint-Marie fan but I do respect her as an artist & a revolutionary. I recently watched ‘Carry It On’ a PBS American Masters documentary about her career & was amazed by the ups & downs that she survived. I didn’t know that the US Government deliberately sabotaged her career – they weren’t pleased with both her antiwar & her Indian rights activities. To shut her up they ordered radio stations not play her recordings or songs she had written. Land of the free – yeah, sure.   

I have an mp3 cd compilation that includes I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl Again (1968): country, Illuminations (1969) psychedelic with synthesizer to create electronically treated vocals & textures, & Soldier Blue – Best of the Vanguard Years (2003). As a stand alone I have ‘Running For The Drum’ (2008). Her ‘political’ songs are strong & fearless. Her romantic songs are tender. I loved Illuminations perhaps one of the most before it’s time recordings of the 60’s. Creatively daring, a total departure from her well-regarded folk & country roots it is still an amazing piece of work. 

Also in this mp3 collection is Mercedes Sosa out of Argentina, she sings in Spanish. I read about her somewhere as being one of the best selling singers in the world! Yet, at the time, I had never heard of her. A sign of the insular world of pop music. I have a couple of her cds & here is Gracias A La Vida. She has a warm alto voice. I love the tile song &  Maria Maria. 

Remember Sam The Record Man? On the second floor there was tiny world music section & in a reminder bin I picked up a cassette ‘Aster’ by Aster Aweke (Ethiopian) singing in Amharic. I love the African horn sound, similar to Osibisa’s. Another warm alto the songs were emotional even though I didn’t understand them. On this cd I have Sugar (2001). 

Also here is Astrud Gilberto the Brazilian bossanova singer who sang in both Portuguese & English. The Silver Collection (1991) is a nice selection of her hits. A lighter voice than the others here with a strong jazz leaning. Lots of classic Latino hits. A good introduction to her & the samba genre.

Finally Miriam Makeba out of South African. She was best known though the 60 thanks to her work with Harry Belafonte. Similar to Buffy her music was part of her social mission. Here I have Sangoma (1988) – sung in a variety African languages. Yes another warm alto voice & a great introduction to Afro-Jazz & folk music.

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Size

Size

my mother

cut my food

until she figured

I had the ability

to cut it myself

like learning to tie my shoes

I don’t remember 

when that transition

to independence

happened

<>

I do realize 

that somethings can’t

be cut down to size

they have to be taken 

in bites or licks

like ice cream

melt in the mouth goodness

<>

but not all goodness melts

not everything needs to be bitten

to enjoy

though sometime

it enjoys being bitten

even if it is too big

to fit into the mouth

its worth trying

to get as much of it as one can

<>

sometimes 

as a kid

I would stuff 

so many small pieces

in my mouth

I couldn’t chew them properly

I couldn’t swallow

at least now

I know much is manageable 

I have a big coffee mug. It holds 2 cups of fluid – 16 oz. – half-a-litre. I have a travel mug that holds a litre – usually coffee. The big mug is for my morning coffee, which I drink while reading in my study, which is upstairs. I would fill the mug nearly to the rim & carry it upstairs. The problem was that the motion would start a wave momentum in the mug so that no matter how carefully I carried it it would spill. I tried different ways of holding it, walking slowly one-step-at-a-time, pausing to calm the waves. 

I started pouring it into a travel mug so the lid would contain the spill. But I’d end up with two mugs to clean. One day the solution came to me: stop filling it to the max! Oh my, having less isn’t easy for someone who feels ‘enough’ is a good place to start. Why not settle for 15.5 oz? Less was worth it just to remove the stress (& stains) of carrying it upstairs without spilling it. The question of size was settled with a simple action.

This is another piece about the nature of more, of the size of things. When I cut my food I still cut it the sizes my mother would cut it, though there are some foods that really don’t need to be cut much – a pizza into slices, maybe, but I’m not one of those who then cuts those slices into small pieces to eat dainty with a fork – a hand-to-mouth experience.

In some cases even if the food can’t be eaten in one piece, it doesn’t have to be cut by hand but by biting – apples, bananas, a box of chocolates (lol). 

It’s also a bit about memory – those things we do today that we learned as children some of which were practical – tying shoes, brushing teeth – some of which weren’t that practical: racism, sexism – which perhaps our parents weren’t aware of teaching us. Lessons that are now hard to un-digest.


Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988): As a composer, Sorabji was largely self-taught. On 2 cds I have Jonathan Powell’s recording of the 8 hour Sequential Cyclica for solo piano/ 8 hours! I hope the pianist gets a washroom break at some point. Of Parsi & English parentage & openly gay he had a lifelong tendency to seclusion. I came across a post on Tumblr about him & was intrigued, found the Cyclica on iTunes. Sonically dense, some sections are under five minutes at least one is nearly an hour. If you are fan of Keith Jarrett this is the man for you.

Rounding out the cds I have Johann Vexo: Organ of Notre Dame – I bought this because of the Notre Dame fire. Oddly none of the shows I’ve watched about the rebuilding of the cathedral have mentioned the organ or any damage that happened to it. Maybe it out for the day & was saved from burning? The sound is epic, the pieces are elegant & not overtly religious.

Reynaldo Hahn (1874 -1947) & Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912) Piano Concertos. Never heard of  Reynaldo Hahn? Neither had I until their was a post about him on Tumblr. Another obscure classical composer. He was Proust’s lover for many years. The concerto is romantic &, to my ears, unexceptional. The same holds for the Massenet concerto – pleasant & undemanding classical music. 

The same is true of  Frederick Delius’s (1862 – 1934) Sea Drift, Songs of Farewell. Though some do find semi-opera orchestra songs a bit challenging. I downloaded this after reading a biography of Bram Stoker. Sea Drift was a piece of music he listened to frequently for creative motivation & solace. As a result of the swelling strings I haven’t been inspired to write a new Dracula. 

Finally Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643: Magnificat & Missa. Beautiful coral work sections of which were used on the soundtrack for a Spanish film I watched. I can’t recall the film but I was happy when I tracked down the actual recording used in the film. Often when I do this sort of search I come up emptied handed (or is that empty eared?). A great introduction to the whole genre of religious choral music that isn’t too sonorous or melodramatic.

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