I am the old, gay white guy your parents warned you about. When I say "old," I mean "in my early sixties," which is bad enough; but as one of the last gasp baby-boomers you can be sure I'm voting for the upgrade that goes "seventy is the new sixty-five."
If you want to be my friend, please do not use the word "spry" or say, "I bet you were a looker when you were young!" I can still bitch-slap you so hard you'll be explaining to your grandkids about the permanent, angry red imprint of my hand on your cheek.
I write. Writing is the old fashioned thing where you put words one after the other to form coherent ideas that spark intelligent conversations. Sometimes laughter.
If you can take something as serious as life less seriously, you'll be a whole lot easier to spend time with. I can help you with that.
You can help me by visiting my blog and commenting/sharing/rating; visiting my online store; purchasing my book / reviewing my book. All of these sites are available on this profile.
Glad you stopped by. Seriously.
just off the top of my head, currently covered with a tuque
July 1st is Canada* Day. So I took a break from my usual morning task of rendering seal blubber in my igloo to count the ways it’s great to be a Canuck. It’s not an exhaustive list.
I’m sure there’s at least eleven.
(*Note to Americans: Canada is one of those “other countries” that you first learn about at Harvard. If you need to get your bearings, just think “Up there. Snow. Mounties. Cold. Justin.” Confusion, dizziness and sobbing are normal. You’re going to be fine.)
One: You get to say “beaver” in mixed company.
Two: You don’t have to worry about your country’s leader messing up and embarrassing you in full view of the entire world, because Justin doesn’t really do anything, and if he does mess up at least he’s a feminist, and anyway helll-oooo?! Trudeau, OK?
Three: The heavy ankle shackles and full-body chains of Socialism help you stay trim and meet your “Canada Moves!” fitness goals when you drag their jaw-dropping extra weight along the sidewalk day in and day out.
BONUS: Looking for someone to play the ghost of Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol”? Hire a Canadian! We already have the costume!
Four: It’s cool to have Queen Elizabeth II as our official head of state, or to be accurate, the giant, stuffed sock puppet dressed in primary colors that is used to represent Her Majesty, who actually died in 1948.
Five: We have the jaw-dropping VIA Rail train with the glass dome that you can take to the west coast!
During this fabulous, epic journey you pass through the State of Alberta, renowned for its jaw-dropping one-hundred-percent unemployment rate ever since the oil industry collapsed.
BONUS: Get Andrew Scheer to pose for you in his cowboy hat, flanked by his forty-five wives dressed in modest full-length calico!
Get the little lady to sign her uterus over the the Conservatives and receive a limited-edition baseball cap that says, “My handmaid pledged her womb will U2?”
Six: Our annual, jaw-dropping White Heterosexual PrideWeek festivities.
Top-rated parade experience this year: Faith Goldy and her sensational “Night Porter”-themed float with its celebrated Nazi Rainbow Flags. Kanada Über Alles! Droppings of the Jaw, ja?!
Seven: We can eat delicious poutine in historic Québec City, unless you wear a niqab, which is punishable with death by guillotine.
Eight: Playing rollicking, traditional Canadian games, like:
“Who’s Got the Transfer Payment Resentment?”
“Canadian Celebrity: Race to Oblivion!”
“Honey, I Lost the Indigenous Women!”
and, as a nod to equality,
“Bury that Fag in a Planter, Yo!” sponsored by Mark Saunders, Chief of the Toronto Amateur Police Association.
(No prizes for the last two, just thatwarm glow…
Nine: I get to live in Toronto, “The City that Never Sleeps Except When it’s been Partying Too Much and Gets a Good Eight Hours so it Won’t Catch a Cold,” and the financial engine of our vast nation!
Here are some Visitor Tips! (Uh-oh: Three-Alarm Envious Warning!)
The Great Wall of Condos. Legend has it that beyond the wall there lies a mysterious, glittering body of water called “Lake Ontario” — but don’t try and find it because you’ll be trespassing; and
Sidewalk Labs’ “City of the Future,” our centre of government, the office where you go to pay-per-service when you want electricity or an ambulance, and headquarters of “Stasi.”
Most popular this week:
After a heart-stopping two-hour wait to witness a migrating herd of the famously shy and skittish TTC Streetcars, it’s just a quick jaunt to the University District where you can gasp at stunning “Queens Park.”
Formerly the Ontario Legislature, this jaw-dropping piece of priceless Romanesque Revival granite architecture that we forgot to tear down is now the sumptuous private playground of Doug Ford and his entire extended family!
Ten: It’s so woke to see the look on peoples’ faces when you say, “Eh?”
As in, “They should have put the Statue of Liberty up here, eh?”
Don’t forget: If you enjoyed my post, let me know! Click the “Like” button; share on social media, give it a star rating (top of the page) and/or comment below. That way I know how to pander to you.
Dear valued visitors and followers: This is the content of a new page, accessible from the main menu (above) and let’s everyone wish it a very warm welcome. I wanted regular and new readers to know it exists, to draw your attention to it (me), to be encouraged to read it, and to take the hint. — DR
MY, HOW STANDARDS HAVE FALLEN! I can hear you rolling your eyes from here to Des Moines, and I know you’ll say to yourselves, “Of course, he’s doing the old-guy thing, the back in my day speech.” You may be right. I may simply be following tradition and experiencing inevitable change as a worsening, a dumbing down, when I should be grateful for progress.
That’s the narrative, isn’t it? That humans are following this trajectory of progress, albeit so slowly at first that nothing happens for millenia. Everyone just sits and stares at each other. And trust me, after a lifetime spent examining the fossil record so you don’t have to, I can confidently tell you that these millenia of staring are sheer tedium.
Sitting and staring. That’s it, dude. You could kill for a decent conversation, but because there’s no other activity—except for finding food, eating food, getting sick from the food, dying from the food or surviving the food, at which point the survivor carves the name of the food onto the Great Big Rock of Food That Won’t Kill You, with five stars and the “best before” date, which at this point is straightforward, “best before you starve to death”—because the only rainy-, or cloudy- or unseasonally cold- or even sunny-day activity is sitting around staring at everyone else who survived the food, good luck with that having a conversation thing.
I mean, there’s only so much feigned interest you can project in a lifetime.
While the proto-men and proto-women stare at each other it’s so quiet they can hear individual leaves falling onto the savannah, which they experience like bowling balls thudding onto parquet, notwithstanding they would likely not use that exact terminology just yet. Bowling, and therefore similes involving bowling balls, have not been invented. We’ve got a long ways to go before they invent bowling, let me tell you! So they just shriek and run for cover.
Then once in a hundred years somebody pipes up, “Hey I was just thinking that maybe—” and everyone gasps and turns around in astonishment with a big whooshing sound to look at her.
Unfortunately, this is so intimidating she immediately forgets what she was going to say.
“Oh… nothing. Never mind. No, really, it’s OK, it was just—an idea…” (This, by the way, is the birth of passive-aggressive behavior, and not a moment too soon.)
Everyone sighs, maybe a couple of grumblers go I wish she’d stop DOING that! and then—silence again for another century or two.
Meanwhile everyone’s thinking, What are those pin pricks of light in the night sky, and how did they get up there and why don’t they fall down? If someone asks, I’ll say it’s Wilbur, The Great Caribou! We could use a little light humor!And anyway,what the heck are pin pricks, or for that matter, pins?
Gradually the silences get shorter and shorter, and you hear distinct noises as civilization develops. The chattering of villagers, the whoosh of the scythes, then, at exponentially increasing speeds, the rattling of looms, the hum of conveyor belts, the blasts of jet engines, ending in the present with the whine of one-sided conversations hitting the back of your neck, announced by smartphones generating what was probably supposed to sound like music but only if you’d never heard music.
Do you see how the standards fall? Nowadays you hear the one-sided conversation.
Growing up, I was taught: Ssh, not so loud! People will hear you! Use your indoor voice! Be seen and not heard! Conversations were restricted to the participants. Likewise telephone calls. You went into a little booth and slid the door shut because you didn’t want people to overhear you. Think what this means: a telephone call was as private as going to the bathroom.
Privacy has always been mankind’s greatest luxury, and no, I don’t mean data. We didn’t use words like data in the fifties, sixties, even seventies. You didn’t get data on your Princess phone. You got your mom’s voice asking why you hadn’t called, or your boyfriend saying he had a headache when you know very well he’s screwing the football coach. Data was a word you used, maybe, if you were Robert Oppenheimer. Probably even Einstein didn’t say data.
Yeah, right. I’ll show you “headache”! That’s rich!
We worry about data now, but back then we were worried about our conversations being overheard or disturbing other people.
Remember other people?
And we’d be mortified if someone had been listening to our conversation or found out our secrets. Secrets were still in their early phase of something you didn’t tell. My great aunts, Victorian women all, never told anyone that my eldest sister got pregnant before she married the guy, nor did they tell anyone about my parents’ divorce. This was private business, and if you talked about someone’s private business who wasn’t there, that was gossip.
Gossip was tacky, except for the rare occasion when it was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy afternoon.
“How many months? She didn’t! Oh, I know! And you mustn’t say you heard this from me, but—apparently he’s that way!“
We kept to ourselves out of fear of making the other person uncomfortable. No one knew your financial woes, the minutiae of office politics, the state of your marriage; we did not make our friends into our psychiatrists or social workers.
Now we live in public, holy prostitutes assuming the face-down spread-eagle to receive validation from anyone who might pass by. We are nothing on our own, because we are empty, and we are empty because we know nothing but the fascinating contents of our own heads and because we haven’t left the house since MySpace.
We have no allure, because we are so easily accessible. We are brands, personas, stories we tell that might as well be true.
We have no need for privacy, for we are at once the incentive and the prize, the scoop and the investigative journalist. Our mere bodies, those archaic chunks of pre-industrial too, too solid analog flesh, may melt, like so much ground beef past its sell-by date, into compost; but our personalities, fizzing with fake pizzazz like artificially sweetened soda and echoing third-hand opinions down broken phone lines crackling with static, have been uploaded to the cloud for all-device synchronization and easy universal obfuscation.
Standards have fallen. Where there was once charisma we now have persuasion; for glamour, brand loyalty; for thought, sponsored content. We long to read web copy that doesn’t suck instead of literature that, guaranteed, did not contain the word “suck” unless someone was talking about bees.
We no longer keep to ourselves in dark studies lined with ancient texts teaching ourselves eternal truths, while disciples as yet unknown to us spent a lifetime beating a path to our door; now we are everywhere, and depressingly unavoidable.
To award yourself Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame you at least had to throw on a metal mini-dress by Paco Rabanne, gloss your lips white and learn to frug before hailing a cab to The Factory. Compared to Instagram, this is like getting your Baccalaureate in semiotics at the Sorbonne.
We document the mysterious trail of our morning glory muffin from its perfect plating at Jet Fuel to its passage through our perfectly moisturized lips; we would, given our druthers, eagerly await and document its return to the primordial light and the roiling waters at the other end had we the time, the followers and the influence that really matters.
Not wishing to be thought an old piece of dried-up ear wax, a wizened pair of donkey testes, not au courant, I take a deep breath and, both melding with and standing out from the crowd, I vow to proffer my creative process for public, that’s you, consumption. Why wait, all high-and-mighty and flaunting my good taste, until my work is polished and ready?
That’s why, like a fledgling terrorist holding in front of me a terrified kindergarten child as hostage, I thrust into the limelight my crude first drafts and confused initial thoughts.
These are never totally crude and unworthy of your attention, though. I mean, this is me, dudes. I consider a pressed shirt and a bow-tie from Harry Rosen to be casual wear. Or at least, I considered that way during the three years I actually got paid by an employer and could afford to be abused by the Harry Rosen sales staff, and how, I ask you, how will they keep me down on the farm, once I have seen Harr-ee?
Oh my god will he ever get to the point, and meanwhile could someone drive right through that red light while I dart onto the crosswalk without looking? comes your exasperated cry.
I interpret this as a metaphor for wanting me to get to the point, the promised point being: how to read my blog. Very well, then.
Read each piece more than once. Again for emphasis: Read each piece more than once.
(Including this one.)
That’s it! Really. That’s how to read my posts. As a series of drafts that I polish into their final form, for I have turned the light and breezy blog post about making waffles or how to monetize your hate group into a soul-searching, overly-literate polysyllabic Proustian nightmare clocking in at anywhere from two to three thousand words.
Yep, that was me.
Thus, to get the full effect, and only if you’re interested in these things, read my unpolished initial thoughts, but return, once, twice or even three or more times, after a few days, weeks, or months, for my posts are not mere words on a screen, but living entities that materialize, mature and mutate at hectic, time-lapsing speeds.
And you’ll never know what living entity to expect. Sometimes you’ll see a peony fluttering its petals like runway model’s Oscar de la Renta ballgown; sometimes a gecko opening its lipless lizard maw to gulp down a—whatever it is geckos gulp down. I’m no one to judge.
This means that you can follow the progress of each piece as though I were on live cam, but without the cam.
Why no live cam? Because I write naked.
That’s correct. Tits to the breeze and always wary of my hot cup of coffee. And now that I’m certain you’ll never, ever be able to get that image out of your mind—
… and, in Ontario, zombie revenge for “The People”
LADIES AND GENTS, MEET E. Jean Carroll. Ms. Carroll enjoys the dubious honor of being the twenty-second — TWENTY-SECOND — woman to allege she was sexually abused by Donald Trump (raped, in fact). Being sexually molested by the Prez is now so common, we just gloss over it.
“Well, of course he did, it’s Trump, dude! How about those Raptors, eh?”
That must be why Ms. Carroll’s story, which I’m fairly sure would have made life just a little, what’s the word, awkward for any other President — in fact, back in the day, for any male at all, even a sanitation worker, even a CEO or vacuum cleaner salesman, or even a recently fired Beer Store employee — her story didn’t make a single front page.
That’s how much we care about women.
And you know what Trump said?
“She’s not my type.” Like sexual abuse would be understandable if she were. Lucky ol’ Ms. E. Jean Carroll!
Ms Carroll’s snapshot by the New York Times captures more than you might think, if you care to read it.
She wears a turtleneck sweater (I imagine her deciding what to wear for the interview, and doing the middle-aged woman “I’m going to hide my crepe-y neck” thing), and that detail, along with her short hairstyle gives her a sporty, casual look that’s still pulled together. She’s breezy. She’s the kind of woman who wears what she fancies, rather than what fashion dictates; who power walks, watches what she eats, but not fanatically, and possibly enjoys a friendly game of tennis. She’s not a “girly-girl” as female friends of mine might classify these things.
She’s up on environmental issues, she knows who killed the ERA, she’s political, and gives you her forthright opinions, even if you haven’t quite got around to asking her for them.
You’d hire her for the job.
Her tentative smile is a challenge more than an invitation. It’s like she wants to smile more naturally, let her smile bloom at little, but then constrains it. There may have been a day when she offered the smile without cost, but now there is a cost. You have to earn the smile.
But it’s her eyes that most fascinate me. They are forward, direct, but vulnerable, they are the eyes of someone who has been wounded and survived and wants you to know this; not for pity, but as a gift of her hard-won wisdom. And yet she’s not cynical.
Her eyes kill me. And her eyes arouse in me a kind of atavistic cave-man energy, so that, gay as a goose be damned, I sense that I would break a chair or five over the head of anyone who tried to harm her.
Donald Trump harmed her. Or, put in the over-heated rhetoric of the religious right, which for once seems appropriate:
The mark of the beast is upon her.
Think about how far we’ve sunk. No, really, I want you to think about this. TWENTY-TWO women have accused Donald Trump of sexual abuse / rape and NOTHING HAPPENS.
NOTHING HAPPENS. Trump declares, to an online audience presumably of millions: “If there was intel from a foreign country about my political rivals, of course I’d take it!” But then he adds: “I’d do it again.”
This is, in fact, a confession: “I’d do it again.” To do something again, you must have done it once already. He’s telling us that he did accept foreign interference in the election.
He’s not just corrupt. He flaunts his corruption the way a flasher opens his dirty raincoat to flaunt his flaccid dick. Then he laughs and runs off. And NOTHING HAPPENS.
Why doesn’t the justified public outrage sparked by #MeToo translate to impeachment or even arrest in Trump’s case? What is wrong with people and the system here?
Corrupt. A criminal. Through his “charity”, the “Trump Foundation,” he broke the law, willfully, with intent, mens rea, time after time, and that’s taking into account just this one organization, which was basically used to funnel charitable donations to his political campaign or into his own pocket.
The Board of Directors (his family), who were supposed to ensure that funds were used in compliance with statutory law, did not meet once after 1999 and rubber-stamped every cheque. And HE IS STILL PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
And he dares to say, “Crooked Hillary”?
But that’s the marketing savvy at work. In marketing, it’s not “location, location, location,” but “repetition, repetition, repetition.” He never mentions Clinton without the adjective “crooked.” Just like he never says “New York Times” without “failing,” or responds to a criticism without “fake news.”
He knows, instinctively, that we remember best what we last heard, true or not. It’s the availability heuristic, and it’s the essence of the “genius” of the used-car salesman, or the purveyor of snake oil at nineteenth-century carnivals.
It’s like having a super-powerful Mafia don for POTUS, the kind who knows exactly how far he can go without technically breaking the law; or a five-year-old child who’s testing how far he can go before our patience is utterly exhausted (apparently much, much further than we could have possibly imagined).
Trump will tank the world’s economy with his tariffs, close down the press, start World War III with North Korea and China, and implement The Handmaid’s Tale on behalf of Mike Pence. NOTHING STOPS HIM.
Then, once it’s too late and the damage is done, he’s taken down and removed from office when he parallel parks in the wrong direction on a one-way street.
Assuming there are still streets.
Meanwhile, in Canada — just think, “up there” if you need to get your bearings — aware that our political drama is but a twinkling tea-light to the interplanetary flamethrower of the U.S., we plod dutifully onward in our horn-rimmed glasses and Chairman Mao suits, pushing in front of us like human shields our bargain-basement, brown-nosing tributes to the United States of Fuckery, our discount Donalds. We have our Andrew Scheer’s, our Jason Kenney’s, our Maxime Bernier’s, our Tanya Granic Allen’s and our Faith Goldy’s. These are, inevitably, members of the — does anyone remember what they’re called?
Are they the Wild Rose Party or the Reform Party or the Conservatives or the Progressive Conservatives, or…? They’ve changed names and interbred and put on the Hallowe’en masks so many times hoping we’ll forget and I’ve kinda lost track. No sooner does Andrew stand up and say, “the abortion debate will not be re-opened!” and we sigh with relief, when someone in Alberta says that the Rainbow Flag of Pride is comparable to the Nazi swastika, and boom! Tense again! Toes are clenched!
Let’s just say they are conservatives, and they are cannons loaded to the brim with loose shot. Pow-pow! Gay people are against liberty! What, are you tense? Time for a name-change! How about — Progressive Reform Roses!
Our conservatives are a herd of unruly cats in heat. No sooner does the “Gays against liberty” thing die down but that Andrew poses with Faith Goldy, our dime-store Sally Bowles and pin-up girl for White Supremacists, the thinking Nazi’s wank.
"... The Canada we long for is so white, mein Herr, And if you're not, you'd best stay out of sight, mein Herr, Your niqab'd women give us such a fright, mein Herr! So I preach Racial hate And the whites take the bait ..."
or it’s Tanya “vomiting” on cue at the thought of gay marriage and —
— why is it that the bigots who go crazy at the idea of gay people spend so much time obsessing about gay people? You’d think their therapist would tell them to think of something else, wouldn’t you? Maybe some deep breathing? Take up stamp collecting? —
— wringing her hands because, in her twisted world, up-to-date sex education means that grade school kids are spending their class-time dreaming up perverse, new ways to use their properly-named genitals when they should be learning their times tables.
This is what conservatives are worried about. What you’re doing with your genitals, how better to punish the poor for being poor, how to keep people arguing with each other and not asking awkward questions, and how to keep government small, but not quite small enough to let women determine what to do with their own wombs.
Meanwhile our real problems — homelessness and a nationwide crisis of affordable housing, a dying planet exacerbated by deniers in the pockets of the oil industry, a war against women, an underfunded healthcare system, underfunded transit, reparations for our First Nations genocide, stagnant wages and weary cynicism, nepotism and corruption — get the same old treatment, which is nothing except the slow torture of death by a thousand cuts that makes privatization “logical” and “inevitable.”
Lower taxes, tough on crime: The little-black-dress-with-pearls of conservative policy. You look good in it, it goes everywhere and makes itself the perfect solution for every problem. Dress it up or dress it down, it’s safely non-committal, yet chic. Wear it to work cutting Arts Council grants, then off you go to a cocktail reception at the World Economic Summit with just a quick refresh of your lipstick!
Canada’s current signature knock-off, the Premier (think Governor) of Ontario, who has launched the Titanic of Ontario’s deficit onto the icy seas of austerity, the vessel on its maiden voyage of doom is, of course, that bloated barge, Premier Doug “Is-it-real-or-is-it-undead?” Ford.
With his maniac, mirthless muppet-grin frozen at the limits of plasticity, but betrayed by the deadness in his eyes as fakery, ol’ Dug-Up has set about being the fox of the people in the hen house of Liberal corruption and overspending.
He is the People’s Premier. He is For The People. He is going to drain the swamp, stand up for the little guy, make Canada great again, and —
Hold on, hold on…. this is weird but — I’m having this déjà-vu moment. Is it possible that….? This all sounds strangely familiar and… Do you get that, too?
Nah. Just being paranoid. It can happen! Probably a bad sweet potato fry from dinner last night. I made the fries from scratch, and they were delicious, but I did notice a couple of little round holes in the flesh of the potato, holes that looked like little worm holes.
So I bet I ate a sweet-potato worm and that’s what’s causing this headache and nausea and inability to stop sobbing with despair.
Now, the first thing Ford did after winning the prize — although the entire City of Toronto voted against him, literally the entire city, fearful of what was to come, the 1998 amalgamation of Toronto with its conservative suburbs did its intended work once again — was to make it perfectly clear that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary Premiership.
With an overwhelming mandate to ignore his platform and do whatever he wanted, Ford redrew Toronto wards to favour his “base” — a noun that serves perfectly as its own adjective — in the middle of the Toronto council election campaign, thereby cutting City Council in half and knocking out anyone at City Hall who might have elitist ideas and/or who gave his late bro, Rob, disrespect.
You see, this isn’t just politics. This is personal.
Ford pushed through his gerrymandering by threatening to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause (this is the weasel clause in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, allowing inalienable rights to be taken away for five years at a time — but we made everyone cross their hearts and hope to die that they wouldn’t use it frivolously, so that’s OK!) then, dashing over to the Ontario Legislature, proceeded to install his cronies and relatives to various key positions, all while while cutting Ontario’s essential services to the tune of billions of dollars, to solve the crisis of the deficit, which was not a crisis.
Up to speed?
The list of the Doug Ford government’s cuts in its first year is exhausting and dispiriting to read. Here it is. (Click on the image to view the full-size, readable version.)
The thing about Doug Ford and his conservatives being For the People is — what people, exactly? They don’t seem to be for students getting up-to-date education, or even breakfast; or artists, or scientists and researchers, or workers, injured or whole; or people of the First Nations, or women who’ve been abused, or who have not been abused, or at-risk youth; or people with low incomes, or non-binary and trans persons (who endured the humiliation of Tanya Granic Allen’s motion, adopted by the members, that gender identity was “liberal ideology,”), or people needing medications, or tourists, or prisoners, or people with addictions, or people with HIV or cancer.
Who, exactly, are they for? Or is this just a great big ideological cluster-fuck of “All government is bad, all money in my pocket is good and I’m gonna show those Toronto elites what happens when you kill my bro!” ?
Some day, I believe, we’ll all come to our senses again. The scales will fall from our eyes. We’ll stop in-fighting and start protesting. We’ll see through the manipulations, the cant, the idiotic conspiracy theories — all the attempts to steer us away from seeing the truth: That the system that grinds us into dust, a system rigged for the benefit of a few fat, rich, old white men, is not broken. It’s doing what it was designed to do.
That reality is bad enough by itself, and has no need of the hot fudge sauce and the chopped nuts on top.