Halloween 2022

pull up a chair

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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Emergency Birds

On a couple of mp3 cd collections, as well as some stand-alones I have a fair bit of John McLaughlin.

Before John McLaughlin arrived on the US jazz scene he had released Extrapolations (1969) & was featured with Tony Williams’ Lifetime on the riotous Emergency (1969) two aggressive but straight ahead recordings that attracted the attention of Miles Davis who featured him on the monumental Bitches Brew (1970), Live Evil (1971) & several other Davis lps.

Davis inspired McLaughlin to create the Mahvishnu Orchestra that defined jazz-rock with an amazing series of lps: Inner Mounting Flame (1971), Birds of Fire (1973), The Lost Trident Sessions (1973 -1999), Between Nothingness & Eternity (1973 live), Apocalypse (1974) London Symphony, Visions of the Emerald Beyond (1975), Inner Worlds (1976). In midst of which he recorded Love Devotion Surrender (1973) with Carlos Santana.

I love all of these jazz-rock lps. Most of which have been re-released with bonus tracks. As his Mahavishnu moniker indicates there is a more of eastern mystical influence but it doesn’t turn into proto-new age mush. My favourite is Birds of Fire. All are excellent. The Tony Williams is an energy rush that is also another highly influential lp & Williams drumming is epic.

He unplugged with Shakti (1976), A Handful of Beauty (1976), Natural Elements (1977) – turning his focus on an East Indian world music fusion. He remained unplugged with Passion Grace Fire (1983) in acoustic trio. Que Alegrias (1992) saw him return to his trio roots. After The Rain (1995) is fine tribute to John Coltrane.

Rounding of the cds is some by jazz violinist Jean Luc-Ponty: More Than Meets The Ear (1968)/ Aurora (1976)/Imaginary Voyage (1976), Jean was featured with Chick Corea’s Return To Forever & also worked with Frank Zappa! More Than is traditional while the later two are immersed in jazz-fusion. Sweet but perhaps a little too mystical.

Finally some Larry Coryell: Spaces (1970) that features him with McLaughlin, Spaces Revisited (1997); Monk ‘Trane Miles & Me (1999). Coryell us another of the jazz-fusion explorers & produced lots of great stuff before moving on, or perhaps that’s back, to a more conservative sound. Spaces is great, the Monk set offers good, solid explorations of jazz greats.



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Picture Perfect Last Words 

Picture Perfect Last Words 

I’ve some asks about the sex – why so explicit? I guess at this stage of my life I don’t care if queer sex makes people uncomfortable. I’m also always disappointed in lgbtqia writing in which they kiss, maybe fumble with some buttons – then they wake up in the morning with no acknowledgement of the actual sexual interaction. 

In this story I also played with voyeurism but sort of lost that thread as things progressed – perhaps Dan’s life got too busy to for that diversion, or perhaps it was a sign of his dissatisfaction with Sanjay? The light ‘Sir’ role play with Peter was interesting to work with but I chose not to push in deeper in b&d. 

I also had fun with the Lifend products. I did no research beyond owning a camera. Who wouldn’t love a travel mug & cameras with all the abilities that Dan’s had – again another thread that sort of lost. In next draft I may get rid of the devices that I invented but which Dan never used. I had to resist using them as life-savers for Dan as well. He needed to be more active in his adventures.

Other threads that got sort of lost: Whatever became of those little boxes Dan found in his old bedroom? Maybe, in the next book they’ll show up. Then there was that collection of old photos & albums from the rummage sale — another thread that got lost. 

I left lots of ‘seeds’ for the next Dan James adventure – his Dad’s porn career, the tourist photo serial killer, the fate of the Depot, marriage to Jeremy? I wanted to develop something around the effect of coming out on Jeremy’s career as a sports icon. Dan’s charming sister is another plot thread. Why did Dan’s Dad move so abruptly to Toronto? Was there more to it than the disappearing children? So there is more than a few plots to focus on for the next in the series: Daniel James & the Pixels of Peril (just kidding – I have no title for the next one.)

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Picture Perfect Afterwords

Picture Perfect Afterwords

When I started the edit of Picture perfect in January 2020 (https://topoet.ca/2020/01/07/picture-perfect-1/)I didn’t realize it would take over two years to get this second draft blogged. Edits usually make things shorter but this one, even with some major cuts, expanded & introduced elements that weren’t in the original draft. so 150,000 words become 188,000 words by the time I wrote -the end-

Even with that extensive rough draft I found myself getting a lost at times. Notes of names & events weren’t enough to keep names spelt consistently or the sequence of events in the right order. Some of the cuts resulted in having to revise some scenes to add or remove information so there was fair bit of re-writing. I know I have to fix names for the third draft. 

Naming was important with so many characters so that the name itself would help readers remember them.  For some of the internationals I checked out soccer or rugby teams for fun names. I changed the spelling of one character from Cyrtys to Curtis to spare my readers’ eyes. Some I dipped into my past – Moxham comes from my growing up in Sydney. Moxham Castle was local landmark.

New scenes presented themselves as I worked through the 2nd half of the book. I wasn’t fully clear on who the culprit was until Nova Convergence became an actual place – even then I had to simplify so it didn’t feel like a Poirot reveal. Who the saboteur wasn’t fully clear to me either. Once I got to the opening of the circus museum I started to create more & more new material to fill in holes I’d left in the first draft. 

All of the ‘how to’ staging of the interviews is based solely on what I’ve seen on reality TV & not from any research into how it is actually done. The same is true for Dan’s legal entanglements with his sister Linda & the separation of their two business. I night consult a lawyer for draft 3 but no one has read it has written to tell me how off-base I might be. The same is true for the damage to Dan’s vision. 

The first draft had one climax scene – a knock down fight in the circus museum ride park during a thunderstorm in which Janis is revealed to be the murderer & also, with Troy’s help, the saboteur. But as I started the edit I realized I wanted that snake attack scene in the Convergence. Peter’s death was in the cards when was he first introduced. For time I was going to repurpose that circus face-off to reveal John as the saboteur but I couldn’t find a reason to get Dan back there after the Cold east shoot was done. I added fuel to John’s resentment with the invented Gordon Sinclair award (which I loved naming). It also gave readers a lull before ‘solving’ the saboteur plot with that fist fight in Dan’s house. 

As I made cuts, as the plot developed & slightly changed directions I realize I started some threads that really got dropped – i.e. Linda’s marriage to Ushio’s brother was to be developed more but got lost. Dan’s encounters with Larry Clarke & the Moose Trail; Stan Ferguson of the Whitney Pier museum were greatly edited down. Two characters introduced to show there was a gay world on the east coast but then discarded.

I loved creating the weekly graphic for each section. Many of the painting were found on the Craven Rd fence. I also kept my eye open for art discarded & a few were actually part of some porch decor. When doing the edits the first thing I work don was the graphic. There was no attempted to co-ordinate the picture with the contents of the section.

There’ll be at least one more post about Picture Perfect as I’ve been asked about the sex scenes, the fight scenes & what might be coming next for Dan James.

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Rhinoceros Knickerbockers

I remember the hype for Rhinoceros (1967). Full page ads in Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy by their second label Elektra. Elektra was a major player in the west coast scene with  bands like Paul Butterfield, The Doors, The Stooges – so expectations were high. Turns out the band created through auditions – just the Monkees. when their first self-named was released1968 it sold like hotcakes & then – well, the band sort of fizzled. The music was solid enough but didn’t live up to the hype.

I did buy the lp & was unimpressed & didn’t bother with the others until I decided some 40 years later to see whatever became of them. They did realize a couple of more Satin Chickens 1969; Better Times 1970 – which are solid but uninspired & not that focused. Footnotes not chapters to the west coast music scene.

The Castaways had one big hit in 1965 Liar Liar – which I loved. Garage rock built on driving Farfisa & guitar riffs. I have a ‘hits’ compilation that repeats that formula on standards like Hit The Road Jack & originals like Bad Hair Day. Disposable groovy unpretentious radio fodder that I dig. 

Another of those mid-60’s disposable groovy unpretentious radio fodder that I dug was The Knickerbockers whose one big hit was Lies. Garage rock built on driving guitar riffs. I have a ‘hits’ compilation that repeats that formula on a fun set of mostly original work. 

Speaking of garage rock built on driving guitar riffs. I have on this compilation The Kingsmen In Person (1963) that features the gold-standard of garage Louie, Louie. Some sources say this is actually a studio recording with the crowd dubbed onto it; others claim it is a live show. Who cares, it’s great fun.

Next is some great r’n’b soul by James and Bobby Purify (1966) who are cousins, not brothers. Their one major hit was I’m You Puppet. I have a hits compilation Shake a Tail Feather! which is bouncy, danceable fun. A bit more soulful is Britain’s Soul Sisters: I Can’t Stand It (1964). Not much info online about them so I don’t even know if they were actually sisters. There were enough US girl groups, i.e. The Supremes, The Crystals,  that the Soul Sisters never made an impact here. Worth searching out. 

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Symptomatic

 

A friend offered me a ticket to see Elton John here in Toronto. I said no thanks. Not because I don’t like Elton (though his single with Britany Spears is a piece of crap) but I’m unwilling to spend that length of time with that many unmasked or masked people sweating, shouting, singing along. I know masks are ‘strongly recommended’ but no longer mandatory.

To too many ‘strongly recommended’ means ‘unnecessary.’ I have friends who contracted covid after taking their masks off to have a drink at a Lady Gaga concert. So I’m not taking chances. I wear one in transit, when I go into any store, answering the door for food delivery. Even under the sarcastic gaze of people in a coffee shop not wearing theirs.

Yes, I’m paranoid. 

Three days after our recent Stratford day trip I did the home test kit to be extra sure. If I sneeze or cough I use that home test kit – everything is a symptom. Is that a mosquito bite or monkey pox? Am feverish or is it the 40 degree humidex that’s making me sweat at night. Don’t stand so close to me. Everything is a symptom. So far all my results have been negative but I’ll stick to caution. I’ve had all the boosters, so far & the monkey pox shot but they aren’t invisible shields of protection.

The test kits are sort of fun once one gets used to them. The directions are so small I needed a magnifying glass to figure them out when I first started. Now I feel like a miffed scientist (miffed as opposed to mad) when I self-administer the test & stir it up in the little plastic test tubes. Too bad they can’t be recycled somehow. 

There is no comfort in the governmental assurances than things are under control, that in Ontario, the proportion of vaccinated means quarantining is no longer necessary. I suspect the economy is more important & now that our heath system is being privatized think of the profits for those ‘health’ providers. They seem to forget that the dead don’t pay taxes & once their insurance or estates have been sucked dry by private providers there is no one to sue for the balance. 

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Picture Perfect 133 

Picture Perfect 133

“You do understand what ‘full disclosure’ means.” His sister’s lawyer was taking papers out of his brief case. “That if you withheld any pertinent financial information the agreement to sever the James Family business would be considered null & void.”

“I withheld nothing.” Dan said.

“Ha!” Linda explained. “As if you didn’t know this block was being rezoned for major redevelopment.”

“Please, Mrs. Tanaka. I can handle this.”

“We signed these agreements, what, almost a year ago now. The development signs didn’t go up until this morning. I am not a … psychic.”

“Dan everyone knows it takes years before those sings go up. They did their research. I know they made an offer to you.”

“Then you know more than I know.” Dan took a deep breath. “How do you know that made an offer?”

“Show him.” Linda said to the lawyer.

He handed Dan a letter from the developers.

“Read it & weep.” She said.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this.” He was folding the letter to put it back in the envelope. “No wonder, it’s address to FairVista, not here. You’re the one who has been withholding.” He took out his loupe & examined it closely. “The postmark is …”

She grabbed it from him. “I don’t give a fuck about the postmark. Serve him the repudiation of the dissolve papers, or whatever they are called.”

“Is that true?” The lawyer asked her. “That you withheld these documents from him?”

“What difference does that make?” She snapped.

“It means,” Dan said, “your claimed won’t stand up in court, sis.”

“He’s right.” The lawyer said. “Clearly you knew about this when you entered the agreement to separate the two business entities.”

“Are you my lawyer or his?” 

Dan took the letter from her. “Linda I’ll look into this now that you’ve brought to my attention.”

Linda glared at him, at her lawyer & stomped out of Dan’s office.

“I …” the lawyer started.

“She’s always been a duplicitous bitch.” Dan said. “I will check into this.”

After the lawyer left Dan faxed the letter to Dell & Strong to follow up on it saying that it had gotten lost in mail that had accumulated while he was out of town. 

He went down to the main floor to see how preparations for the weekend sale were progressing. “Hey boss is it really you?” Ushio joked. “We thought you had gone back to east coast again.”

“Can’t I leave the store for five minutes?” Dan laughed. 

“Abandonment issues.” Len said.

“I wonder what the opposite of that is?” Dan asked. “What if you long to be abandoned?”

….

He was in the back storeroom double-checking the coded price tags on sale items when Robert Warszawa come into the room.

“Scanner to the grindstone.” He said.

“Yeah. Feels good to finally be back to routines.”

“There’s been another one.”

“Where this time?” 

“Charlottetown. More travel photos, discreetly tucked into a book this time.”

“Name of book?”

“Hmmm … I’ll get them to check on that. Have you heard that Janis Hadley has passed away.”

“Yes. Troy called me with that news. I want to say sad news but well, cancer is as deadly as any snake bite.” Dan said. “Too bad there isn’t one to take a bite of the snake of a lawyer Kilpatrick hired.”

“Tell me about it. Soon the fact that you were there will be deemed as inadmissible evidence.” Warszawa shook his head.

“QTel cancelled his circus show. They shelved the episodes already shot, too. He’s suing me for that loss of income.” Dan wiped the dust off his hands on a rag. “That’s enough for one day.” 

“Buy you a drink?” Warszawa offered.

“So you can fill me on Charlottetown? No thanks. Jeremy is picking me up in a hour.” He checked his phone. “It’ll take me at least that long to be presentable.”

They went into the main part of the Depot. 

“Is there anything I need to know about the Charlottetown killing? Or can it wait until after the weekend?”

“It can wait. Just one thing.”

 “What?”

“If Jeremy Moxham isn’t happy with the way you look right now, he’s a fool.” Warszawa laughed.

…..

Dan dried his legs looking at himself in the full length bathroom mirror. He felt he was looking okay for someone who didn’t have time for working out. He sprayed himself with the smokey coconut cologne Jeremy had sent him & opted to go casual in one of the Cape Breton sweatshirts he had picked up on the east coast. Jeans that the hoped would indicate that he wasn’t interesting a fine dining excursion.

He took the ring out of the safe. Would wearing it be too much of a signal to Jeremy? Whenever he contemplated Jeremy’s proposal the same reservations went though his mind. Was he ready to have his tax level change even more than Cold East had changed it? Did he want to move into any of Jeremy’s many condos. 

Getting back into the Depot work routine was satisfying. He didn’t miss having cameras on him all he time. Being seen in public with Jeremy was to be in the pubic eye. He’d had enough of that already. People still called out to him ‘Back To you John’ when he was shopping for groceries. At first he was amused now he found it embarrassing.

His cell buzzed, It was a text from Jeremy.

“Outside.”

“Be right down.” He texted back.

He pulled on his denim jacket & went out by the backstairs so he didn’t have to re-lock the front of the store.

Dan got into the car.

Jeremy took one look him. “Is this a hamburger of a pizza look?”

“Burger.” 

“I know the perfect spot.”

“The perfect spot is one where nobody recognizes either of us.” Dan joked.

“So it’s like that is it. Then I really do know the perfect spot.” Jeremy spoke into his phone. “Two burgers with the works, fries, for pick up.”

There a pause a ding. “Ready in ten Mr. Moxham.”

“We’ll pick them up & eat right in the car. Or if you want we can go back to my place.”

“Which one?” Dan asked.

“You have a preference?” Jeremy said. “I was thinking the usual. Or we could come back to your place?”

“My place!” Dan pictured the untidy mess of his Depot apartment.

“Just kidding. Frank Place it is. You like the view.”

………

After they had eaten Jeremy pulled Dan to couch.

“Have you decided yet?” He asked.

“What do you see us doing?” Dan said. “Beside chairing charity functions.”

“Travel. Lots of travel.”

“But I have a business to run Jeremy.”

“You won’t have to worry about work.” 

“What makes you think I’d stop working for you?” Dan pushed Jeremy away from him. “You do realize I have a life that I frankly enjoy.”

“I’m sure we could work something out once we’re married.”

“It’s not simple.” Dan walked to the expansive window. “What do you see us doing in bed? What sex fantasy do you have beyond us kissing. Are we even naked in those fantasies.”

“We’d do what guys do.”

“You have had sex with another man. Haven’t you?”

“Sex, I guess, but …. not what I’d call making love.”

“So you are a top or a bottom? In your fantasy I mean.”

“Dan I don’t know what to tell you. I thought that would be something we’d discover together.”

“Oh you want me to be teacher, the dom, as it were?”

“I … I suppose so. I know you’ve had more experience than me.”

“Have I?So you want me to quit my job, marry you & then take you through intimacy 101?”

“No! I want you in my life.”

“On your terms. What about my terms? We both more more to think about before I can make a decision to take that step. It’s time for me to go. We have a huge sale starting tomorrow. I need a good night’s sleep”

……..

In the morning Dan looked at the noisy lineup outside the store & wished he’d had a good night’s sleep. Sandy was waiting at the front door for his signal to open.

“We’re as ready as we’re going to be.” Dan said as he nodded to her.

He was grateful for the crush of customers that kept his mind off Jeremy.

“Hey boss someone wants you on the land line.” Ushio shouted to him.

“Mr. James, this is Hawthorn Developments. We’re interesting in adding your property to our plan to revitalize that corner. Our representative will be by this afternoon with our offer.”

Whoever it was hung up before Dan could respond. 

The rest of the morning was like a boxing day sale. Shelves & displays were restocked as fast as possible. He longed for lull to sit for a few minutes but as soon as a dozen people were out of the store another dozen were squeezing in. 

At 3 when things were a little less frantic he signalled Sandy that he going up to his office for bathroom break. 

He sat his desk glancing at the readout of the days’ sales, so far, when he was buzzed from the floor.

“Boss.” It was Ushio. “A lady is coming to the office to see you. She says it is most important.”

Fuck! He’d forgotten all about the Hawthorn representative. There a knock at the door.

“Come in.”

The woman who entered looked exactly like the one in his Dad’s smutty pictures. He expected her to open her trench coat to reveal a corset.

“Mr. James. I’m Darla Brooks. I believe you have some photos of my mother Peggy Brooks.”

 – the end –

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Cards For Pain

Small town summer theatre has changed from the days when The Odd Couple or Hello, Dolly! were the offerings. Now one can see Mama Mia, or even The Rocky Horror Show – that’s right Rocky is now ‘safe’ enough for all. I’ve seen Rocky on stage a few times, most recently as part of the Stratford Festival. Like that one, the Stirling Festival Theatre incorporated the audience participation establish by the movie fan base. ‘It’s a step to the left.’

I loved everything about this production which successful tweaked the play a little. Some of the narrator’s dialogue was given to Sal Figliomeni drag queen Shirley Happening, who, after instantiuous costume change into Trixie, sang the opening & closing double-feature song with great energy. She also gave the audience instructions on when to participate resulting in Brad being called ‘asshole’ & Janet ‘slut.’ Is it misogyny that ‘slut’ was shouted by more people & louder than ‘asshole’? 

But the gender philosophy of the play is better left to academics as we ordinary folk enjoy the dynamic singing & singing of the cast. As Frank-N-Furter dominated the stage from his first appearance I start with J.P. Baldwin’s great performance. He clearly enjoyed these songs, ripping into Wild & Untamed Thing full force. His treatment of I’m Going Home let the emotion of the song do the work, even as audience members tossed playing cards into the air. 

Ryan Whittal’s Rocky (not on a slab) thanks to a funky little golden romper didn’t need a gender reveal party. The sets were simple & effective & made the show feel more like the original did when it also had little $ for production values. 

The cast was excellent, energetic & many of them got to display unexpected vocal ranges, in particular Lousia O’Keane as Magenta. I loved that Dr. Scott rolled on stage with a snug Cape Breton tartan blanket tucked around his legs. Solid choreography & a tight band made this a great show.

I’d say ‘see this show’ but this was the final performance for it. If there was suggestion box I would recommend they tackle ‘Hair’ next season.

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Picture Perfect 132

Picture Perfect 132

Dan exited Dr. Grey’s office pleased with results of  the examination. The past two weeks of nightly self-treatment had paid off. The damage was repairing itself & this eyes were no worse from John Kilpatrick’s assault two months ago. 

After his vacation he was eager to get back to work. It felt good to be planning a ‘Boss’s Back Sale’ at the Depot instead of worrying about his lines for yet another Cold East promo. He wanted the show to be history but with each new market there were new calls for interviews. The drama of events subsequent to the end of the show kept him in the public eye in ways he didn’t enjoy.

As he rode his bike into the lane between the Depot & the building block next to it he saw that while he was out it had been fenced off with chainlink hoarding. There was a sign inviting people to a community meeting to discuss proposed redevelopment of the lot. It would be a multi-storied apartment with retail in the bottom floor. He hoped the residents would enjoy the view of the apartment block across the street as well as the roof of the Depot.

Inside he helped Ushio & Len unpack boxes of various camera equipment they had ordered just for the sale. Len had been hired some months ago to take up the slack with Dan away on Cold East. 

“What are these?” Dan pulled out a shoulder bag made of clear, heavy plastic.

“Camera bags?” Ushio glanced at the bag.

“Or portable aquariums.” Len suggested. 

“Right.” Dan gave a short laugh. “Who ordered this? I certainly didn’t.”

“I did, boss.” Ushio said. “You told me to find things we could sell fast & cheap. They were in the Shutter Storehouse catalogue.”

“No serious photograph would use these.” Sandy said. “They keep their ten thousand dollar lenses hidden.” 

“It’ll be a fun give away.” Dan said. “Free with every purchase. That way there we should be rid go them quickly.”

They worked in relative silence for the next couple of hours. The only interruptions were customers that Len attended to.

“Two p.m. Coffee break.” Sandy announced as a chubby, dark-skinned man came into the store with their standing afternoon order from the Carafe.

“Hola,” the man said. “I am Camilo Villas. Jill says you are her best customers.” He smiled broadly. “Now your Columbian will be brought to you by a real Columbian.”

“Thank You. I’m Ushio Tanaka.”

“Sandy Reynolds.”

“Len March.”

“Jajaja. Don’t tell me, you are the maestro?” Camilo turned to Dan. “I am to make sure you get this one.” He gave Dan his coffee first. “Whole milk and a shake of vanilla. Right?”

“Right on both counts, Camilo.” Dan took his coffee and scone.

“Everything is okay?” Camilo said. “I am just learning how to do so many things.”

“You haven’t been in Canada long?” Ushio asked.

“Yes. Four years now. I was in Vancouver, then Calgary. But there weren’t places for me. I am certified registered nurse but do not have degree in your country so cannot practice. Soon I will write tests to practice here. I must get back to Carafe.”

“Thanks Camilo. You can tell Jill I’ll be by before she closes.”

“Yes, maestro.” Camilo made a half bow & left.

As Dan was finishing his coffee Cliff Silver came into the shop.

“I was hoping you’d be here.” Cliff said. “Things always run better when when the Maestro is here.”

“So you’ve met Camilo.” Sandy said. “His accent thick enough for you?”

“Sandy, please, I am a Christian woman.” Cliff adopted a South accent, then dropped back to his normal voice. “Besides he’s too short for me. Married with children, as well. Married I don’t mind. Children, count me out. I dropped in with the picture you had me frame & to give you these.”

He took two calendars out of his portfolio case. “I just got these proofs from the printers. Let me know what you think, Dan.”

The first set was a year of his Cape Breton cloudy day pictures taken at various spots around the island. The second was of his Dad’s Scenic Cape Breton.

“These were a James tradition since my dad started his business. When he died we didn’t keep it up.”

So many people had mentioned the James calendars when Dan was on the east coast he decided to revive them. He was hesitant about using his own pictures though as he never considered himself as good a camera man as his Dad. Cliff had convinced him otherwise after Dan showed him the photographs he had taken.

“Have you seen the zoning notice?” Cliff asked.

“Yeah. Going be a lot of noise when they start that tear down.” Dan shook his head.

“The developers visited me this morning making inquiries about who owns the property.”

“Figures.” Dan said. 

“They … uh … made me an offer.”

“What to but this building?”

“No. To be one of the first to lease space in the new building.”

“Ha! They haven’t even gotten zone permission.”

“Their agent told me that unless there was real objections they would start work by the firs too the month. They’ve also approached Jill at the Carafe.”

“Hey, Boss,” Ushio got his attention. “There’s Jeremy  Moxham on the news.”

Dan turned up the volume. The footage was of Jeremy scoring the decisive goal in the Olympics several years ago. Other footage was of him on red carpets, shaking hands with heads of state.

“Legendary Canadian sport figure Jeremy Moxham shocked his fans today by coming out as a gay man.”

“At least he didn’t come out as a lesbian woman.” Sandy laughed. “Now that would have been shocking.”

“Shush.” Dan said. “What may be old news to us is fresh for most of the world.”

“In a press release Jeremy Moxham says – ‘In order to move on in my life I feel it is time for me to be honest with myself and my public that I am gay. I have known this about myself for several years but have refrained from sharing it publicly or even privately for fear of alienating my fellow athletes and my many loyal fans.”

“I guess he has enough money in the bank it’s safe for him to come out.” Sandy said. “He’s got nothing to lose now.”

“Full contents of the press release can be found on our web site. His ex-wife Elizabeth was unavailable to comment.” Under this there was shot of Elizabeth and Jeremy frolicking in the surf from a Sports Illustrated swim suit issue.

“In other sports news …”

Dan turned the volume down.

“I suppose than comes as no surprise to you.” Sandy said.

“That he was gay?” Dan said. “Or that he was going to come out.”

“I always felt he was bi.” Ushio said. “I think all those guys are anyway. David Beckham. Sidney Crosby. Any man who dates a top model does it to prove he is heterosexual.”

“Interesting theory.” Cliff said. “I’d better get back to the gallery. My back in ‘ten minutes’ is up.

“You can lock up here Sandy.”

“Ok boss. See in the morning. We do have a big sale on.”

Dan up to his office. He took the ring out of the safe, shook it out of the pouch into the palm of his hand. “You are making it hard to say no Jeremy Moxham.” He put it on his finger. He had worn it for about an hour after after that supper with Jeremy. Other than a camera around his neck he didn’t wear jewelry. Chains and bracelets annoyed him. He could’t even tolerate wearing  watch. The ring fit perfectly. It looked at home on his finger, on his hand but after five minutes of working on his desk top it was distracting. He checked the time & went down to the Carafe before it closed.

“Cliff dropped this off today. It’s that picture of Peter him you wanted. Cliff had it framed for me.” 

It was a shot of Peter serving coffee and muffin.

“Thanks.” Jill said with a catch in her throat. 

“Yes.” He found himself turning the ring around and around on his finger. “You heard about Jeremy?”

“You know we don’t abide current affairs in here. No TV, remember. Rats want caffeine to get back into the race they are escaping from.”

“He came out, officially.”

“It’s about time. Does it bother you.”

“I’m not bothered. He …” Dan held up his hand for her to get a good look at the ring. “Popped the question moths ago. I told him I couldn’t deal with hiding this from his adoring public. I’ve been out so long in a city were nearly everyone I know is out.”

“So you think he did it for you?” Jill laughed. “I didn’t think you had that much power over men.”

“It seems I do. Look at my history. Sanjay. Peter. Jeremy. Stan. To name a few. They’ve all …”

“Stan? Who is this Stan?”

“Just some guy on the east coast who practically raped me.”

“So you’ve accepted or you wouldn’t be wearing his ring.” Jill laughed again. “It’s my party and Judy came in wearing his ring.” she sang.

“I’m trying it on. Rings turn to chains. I told him after dealing my non-marriage to Sanjay I wasn’t ready for the real thing.”

“I hear you there.” She said. “I don’t think you feel as strongly for either of them as you did for Peter either.”

“Smart woman.”

“Peter was still young enough not to let expectations get in the way of his emotions.” Jill said. “He wasn’t a jaded.”

“A little silver bird told me the developers have been to see you?”

“Oh them.” She laughed. “You think any brand spanking new condo complex would have the ambiance this creaking old dump has you’re crazy. You’re not thinking of selling out them, are you?”

“They haven’t approached me yet.” His cell rang. “Opps spoke too soon. Hi Sandy … I’ll be right there.”

“They’re waiting for you?”

“Nope, it’s my sister with her lawyer.”

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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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