Some pics of {dis}interest from the innerweb…

…though I may have mixed up the captions. Hey, I’m 64, so kindly ease up on your running victory laps around me as you hold aloft your Pulitzer Prize for Too-Clever-By-Half. And, sorry, but have we met?

Anyway, I’m extremely upset right now, so please at least pay attention so I can milk this for sympathy.

Seriously, hyper-criticism victim here. Apparently the general consensus is that my posts are too verbose, my hair too buzzed, my nipples too blowsy and my family jewels in need of a bit of a buff—

—and I suppose you’d all collapse on your fainting mats were I to ask for a couple of volunteers and a jar of Vaseline from Dollarama? Cause I’m well-nigh barreling through my sunset decades, and this is no time to stint on the luxuries! Oh, boy, let me tell ya!

Feedback you never asked for. That’s what you get for saying, “Hi, how’s it going?” in response to that three AM text from a number you don’t recognize, the text that says, “Sup, dude?”

Well, THIS is “‘sup, dude.” And if your question is pithy, then I am pithy in reply. If you move your left arm, I move mine. Annoying, isn’t it?

So sue me, the picture captions are gemischt, but, like a tribulation of Trumptweets, they make at least as much sense as the originals, which is not really.

So bite down hard on these perky beauties, Murgatroyd McGraw, and drain what’s left of my colostrum while I ponder the scandals that are Conservative Party Prime Ministerial prospect Andrew Scheer’s 1. lack of certification for real estate sales; and 2. his dual citizenship.

Did you take the precaution of sitting down or did you syncope from the shock, ripping from its moorings, as you plummeted to the parquet, that new “Last Supper” wall hanging you won at the United Church charity bridge tournament? Oh, I am sorry, and my bad for preparing you like that, which was not at all.

Canadian scandals, admit it, fall damply on the spirit. They are the lead apron that god-the-dentist drapes over your chest just when you think you might manage a fleeting, sponge-y hard-on, and bloody grateful for it, thank you very much.

But no. God is the bucket of ice water, the early morning detention in the dead of winter, the asshole who won’t call you “she/her” when you ask, because they know better than you do, which is why they’re an asshole.

When what you most crave, when the one sacrament that will save your life, is vanilla ice cream from the dairy bar, Mr Ten Commandments is there like a shot, serving you up raw Brussels sprouts alongside the liver and onions.

Jahweh, you’re such a kidder, also your pale-faced hippie good-for-nothing offspring, who I keep wanting to call “Jason.”

Well, in all fairness, he does look like a Jason.

We crave juicy scandal, but our hearts are not in it. Like a catalog full of mail-order child brides on their respective wedding nights, we go through the motions. This is Canada, it behooves us to recall, not the United States of Craptardery.

Mercy Pelosi, no! Thanks to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, Canada has…

…the most successful progressive government in the world …

Atlantic Monthly, Oct 3, 2019,
byline: Stephen Marche

… and, according to independent review, Justin has kept ninety-two percent of his campaign promises, more than any Canadian government in thirty-five years (ibid.)

but will he piss on a hooker then get his lawyer to send her a huge bribe then deny getting his lawyer to send her a huge bribe and then the lawyer goes to prison?

Oh, no, not Mr. Goody-Goody girly drama teacher! He’s too ethical, transparent, sincere.

His “scandal” was asking, sorry, pressuring, the Attorney General, Little Orphan Jody, whether it might not be better to fine SNC-Lavalin, whose unethical execs had already done time for their crimes, using a law originally tabled by the Conservative Party that would allow for remediation and avoid further criminal prosecutions, thus saving the jobs of thousands of innocent workers.

Section Nine of the Conflict of Interest Act prohibits public office holders from using their position to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to further their own private interests or those of their relatives or friends, or to improperly further another person’s private interests.

The review of Trudeau’s actions by Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion merely showed that a remediation agreement would be to the financial benefit of the company.

But if this was wrong and improper, then every government hand out, every subsidy or tax break or exemption from regulations that benefited any company, would be improper. Are all of these benefits suddenly not in the public interest?

The ethics commissioner misinterpreted his own act and jurisdiction. We’ll never make world-class if we keep this up!

Americans, now they know how to do craziness, fakery, scandal. We do “no certification for your real estate license” and stop there.

Not Americans. They won’t even get out of bed until they can sell you a subprime mortgage you can’t afford on a cheaply built condo that’s not up to code, foreclose on it, then rent it out, except not to black people, without a license.

We demand proof that Scheer is a shifty two-faced liar, that’s to say his actual documents proving he has dual citizenship, or his lack of documents proving he isn’t certified to sell real estate. Then, if you can believe anyone could be such worthless white trash, we believe the proof.

Yawn!

Stateside, you just have to start a rumor that Obama’s not American and/or is a Muslim and, despite proof after proof that he is and that he’s not, they refuse to believe the proof. Add to this a few million Facebook users trapped in their alternative-reality bubbles, and those lies go viral faster than an anti-vaxxer’s five-year-old.

Obama was near crucified by a total fabrication, yet up here in The People’s Republic of Snowflakia this eleventh-hour factual revelation—

—that Scheer is ‘Murican AND Canadian, that is to say, the potential leader of our Loyalist after-hours club pretending to be a nation isn’t unequivocally native to these here parts—

—this notion barely ripples the foam on our Tim Horton cappuccinos {and make mine a “doppio-doppio,” eh, Signorina! Prego!}

As Bob Rae, former NDP leader, all but expressed it, rabbity incisors flashing: “Hey, nobody’s perfect!” Bob should know, having inflicted on Ontario, back in the 1990’s, a unique version of socialism that looked an awful lot like several imperfect years of neoliberal austerity.

Where, I ask you, were all those trips to Florida and welfare handouts and gourmet food banks we’d heard so much about? Where were the perqs for being poor?

And where, for that matter, are my pants? Anyone—?


Back by popular demand¹, your favorite² game³

“Oh, dear, did I mix up the captions, ROTFL?”

¹ Popular demand / ² favorite: As described by randomly-sampled cohort (N=5) of 8 to 10-year-olds (“Miss Smedley’s class”) after promising to do their homework for a month, or, actually, just giving them the cash equivalent. Results are accurate ± 3% when compared to other students who’ve been bribed to pump up my stats.

³ “Game:” Not really a game, more like the results of a game. Your participation is limited to surveying the results and laughing at the absurd mismatch between the caption and the image. That’s the joke, right? It’s not really more profound than that, I mean, like there’s not really anything to “get”, OK?

Jeezus. Are you always this high-maintenance?



֍

When Trapped by a Camel, Bite its Balls…

… and other Tales from the Arabian Nights.



THE SHEIK WAS FEELING…SNARKY. HE’D JUST returned from the Annual General Meeting of the Worshipful Order of Sheiks, where he’d given a TED Talk (“When Your Neighbours are Infidels: A Plea for Slightly Less Tolerance,” which had received only modest applause, hardly the ecstatic reception he’d fantasized) and where he’d been outvoted in his quixotic fight to stop women riding dromedaries on weekends (“Desperate Despot? Sheik Baked Over AGM Drom Com!”).

Let’s be frank: Sheiky was stressed out. No one was upholding traditional, tribal values, and when he told people that they had to align themselves with prehistoric legal codes written by the functionally illiterate, they just laughed.

Clearly it was only a matter of time before wives and daughters and mothers would have the right to leave home without permission in triplicate from the nearest male relative, or failing that, the oldest goat in the herd…

All of the high-achieving ancient prophets and saviors are male, have you noticed? God, Jesus, Joseph Smith, Mohammed, E. Ron Hubbard. They took over heaven like a bunch of CEO’s arranging a pricing cartel and stacked the decks against women. Paradise is a bunch of juicy young virgins catering to your every whim, no less! Women should hold their tongues in church! Cast your eyes down and act with modesty and deference to your male superiors! Eve, so the libel goes, brought sin into the world, shoved that apple right down Adam’s throat, I have no doubt!

{And wouldn’t it just be an apple. Apples! The least sensual fruit, crispy with virtue, hard-edged and painful in the mouth. You have to labour to get the joy from an apple, chew and chew, grind up the leathery red skin, all for the reward of a few paltry drops of sour water. It’s the Protestant work ethic in edible form.

Mortal sin should be a peach, with downy, pink-golden skin, its flesh soft as woman’s flesh, melting effortlessly with the most delicate bite, yielding to you, dripping juice down your chin and all over your hands, until you’re sticky with guilt and you reach for another and another.

A peach: Now that would be worth a thousand Edens, myriad angry gods. Fuck virtue! Grab some peaches, pack up your kit and give god the finger as you pass through the garden gate!}

Men had it all sewn up from the beginning. It’s like women overslept and didn’t get to the front of the line-up for the fire sale, and now they’ll never get the combo microwave convection oven for a dollar. The door crashers are GONE, girlfriends.

So much for nurturing, so much for Gaia and cocooning and Netflix and pizza! Where was your drive, your “can-do” attitude? Exactly!

… Anyway, as the Sheik did his AGM post-mortem, Shéhérazade just happened to walk by. She was fully veiled but her hair was in those big curlers the size of coke cans, and she was picking at a box of Turkish Delight.

The Sheik could sense her body shifting under her robes, and this made him think of a bright red tulip that dances fully unveiled in the meadow, caressed by the spring breeze.

Then it reminded him of the contents of a can of evaporated milk that you’ve set in boiling water, at the very moment it turns into caramel, gooey-sweet and luscious.

He perked up.

“Hey, you!” said the Sheik, and Shéhérazade froze in her tracks.

Getting singled out by the Sheik was a zero-sum, rigged game. It could mean another ruby and diamond cuff after a glorious night out at The Drake—or being dragged into Allan Gardens by a mob and impaled on a thousand spikes during Boxing Week.

Generally, however, his unpredictability was considered part of his quirky charm.

He continued, “You, with the, whatchamacallit, graceful stride of an antelope pursued by, I dunno, a cougar? Does that sound right? What’s your name again?”

Shéhérazade nibbled at the corner of another sweet as she considered how best to respond. No point getting him all in a twist with is it sh or sch or is it four or five syllables and is that s-h-a? or s-h-e with an acute accent—? She smelled rosewater, felt the powdery sugar soft on her tongue.

“Susan,” she replied. Her little white cat’s teeth sank into the translucent jelly, which resisted slightly, then offered itself.

“Just—call me Susan.”

“OK, look, little Suzie Q,” said the Sheik (because he was a man, and as such he couldn’t leave one single thing alone; he had to make even your name into a problem to be solved with diagrams and jokes or tarted up with curlicues and arabesques.)

“I’m cosmically bored. Tell me some unbelievable tales, but mark me well: They must truly be beyond comprehension or I shall see that something fiendish and terrible befalls you. I’ll—let’s see, now, cut off your arms and legs and put you in a jeweled box and all will be forbidden to see your beauty except me.

“I’ll wheel the jeweled box containing your torso out into the sunshine and I will let its cruel rays sparkle through the aquamarines and tourmalines and amethysts, glint off the gold leaf as you slowly die in agony—agony so unimaginable you will be unable even to weep!”

“Ok, Ok, I get the idea,” said Susan, adding under her breath, “Jeez, Louise, lighten up!” She continued: “I will tell you the Tale of the Little Black Dress!”

The Sheik settled back onto his throw cushions, lifted his goblet to his lips.

And so she began…


John Tory, Toronto’s kinda-sorta conservalib Mayor, has teamed up with Ford Nation for a truly spectacular outing of that Conservative little black dress with pearls, the Only Policies You’ll Ever Need: Lower taxes, tough on crime!

But I have to say. Though this outfit usually lends grace and style to the most lowly-born princess—and I know you can take the truth—John, you do not look lovely in it.

And you keep cutting off your toes so you can cram your feet into those Liberal Cinderella shoes. Kind of gross, what with all the blood, and in the end a waste of time, because they’re actually far too big for you.

Today’s tough-on-crime doo-dad goes: Toronto Community Housing Corporation will now be able to refuse applications from tenants who have been evicted for “criminal activity” such as drug dealing, assault or property damage.

I”ll pause for a sec until your fist-pumping and cries of “YES!!” die down.

I was pretty sure that property damage could also fall under a civil heading, but I stand corrected. Selling heroin, knocking over a potted plant; getting snippy with the receptionist or smacking your ex in the face with a two-by-four—it’s all equally reprehensible.

I get it. Once you’ve stepped over that line, you’re toast. Even public housing, mandated to supply, you know, housing to the public, will refuse you.

If you had any doubts about what a useless waste of skin you are, consider them resolved!

This measure is, says the article on Global News, “… part of a new strategy the province announced earlier this year to help create more housing and combat homelessness.”

And I ask you. Seriously. What better way to combat homelessness than making people homeless? Talk about obvious, staring you in the face solutions!

Sorry, did I say, “making people homeless?” Correction: Not PEOPLE. “Criminals,” or let’s just drop the namby-pamby Social Justice Warrior jargon and the Political Correctitude that has stifled us for too, too long, shall we? and call it like the fearless, truth-telling conservatives we are.

Not PEOPLE. Not CRIMINALS, even.

PIECES OF SHIT.

Man, I feel better already!

Reading carefully, I note that the article states, “evicted for” not “convicted of.” I’m wondering, you see, if these are evictions that could be based on perceptions, complaints, landlord harassment or malice.

Officially, evictions can be fought at a tribunal of the Landlord Tenant Board, but I’ve known many people who have been wrongly evicted yet either didn’t know their rights or were frightened to pursue the issue. Landlords terrorize their tenants in some cases knowing full well that tenants are intimidated and don’t trust the system to protect them.

Where will Pieces of Shit live, once they’ve been evicted? That’s not an issue, because the Conservatives are Tough on Crime and anyway what sort of nice, law-abiding actual people would care about Pieces of Shit?

Exactly.

Oh wait, that drug-dealing thing. Did you sell marijuana before October 17th, 2018? Because then you’d be a Piece of Shit. Off to the shelter with ya, low-life!

After that date, you would be a Groovy Cutting-Edge Entrepreneur, because suddenly, with another arbitrary wave of the wand that made you a Piece of Shit, you are now, bippity boppity boo, perfectly legal people, and please, sir, this way to your table for two while we valet-park your Mercedes!

Now the Ontario Government sells marijuana, but you went to jail for how many years?

So get yerself the finest cardboard box you can muster from the LCBO, stake out yer patch of Don Valley and don’t forget the Christmas lights and the tallboy can of Carlsberg Special.

Don’t worry: it’s legal.


Well, Nancy Pelosi is no longer the Speaker of the House!

— Donald Trump, to the Press, on hearing that Pelosi
had begun the formal process for impeachment,
September 25, 2019

Now to our mandatory, but necessarily brief, morning rounds in the world’s largest psychiatric ward, the United States of Fucktardery.

Did You Know:

Trump has been influencing the stock market for a couple of years now. Oh yes, siree, he has, so there goes your idea that at least we knew the worst; far from it, my pretties, for “the worst” is a constantly raised hurdle in the gladiator tournament that is the Trump Administration. There the daily goal is: Can you outsprint your personal best worst? You can but try, little warrior, and we who are about to die, salute you!

We’re re-enacting the last gasps of Rome; every day another razor cut on the face of decorum, another fingernail yanked from civility’s hand. And Truth? Ambushed, stabbed in the back.

In the mornings we take a deep breath and check our devices. We don’t know what to expect, we are more on our toes than a clutch of assassins sneaking up on Caesar in the Senate. What will the Twitter Fates decree?

Will he hint at a nuclear strike? Fire Debra Messing? Unilaterally do something dastardly in Iran? Deploy troops? Bring troops home? Call the FBI liars? Take medicine away from terminally ill children? Reconfigure the path of a hurricane? Bribe a hooker? Instruct a trial witness to change his testimony? Ban Muslims? Or vaping? Or make fun of a rape victim?

Such a cornucopia of possibilities in a world where anything tacky, mindless or potentially apocalyptic is possible!

In the service of the enigma that is Trump, every Tweet is vivisected with reverence; intern hands are plunged into its still quivering guts like the wizened hands of augurs squishing through the entrails of an Imperial Roman chicken, to uncover its hidden depths.

How have we not figured out that there are no hidden depths? Trump is one of those trillion monkeys whose random typing will produce Shakespeare’s sonnets, only he’s not the one.

Trump’s Looney-Toon self-serving fantasies, distributed to millions of innocent Twitter users, have, however, caught the attention of stock analysts, who note that a word here or a word there from The Great Mouth Breather can send stocks plummeting or soaring.

Is this just because he so pretty he don’t think too good about the repercussions? Or is it, as one analyst believes, that he’s deliberately manipulating the market to punish his foes and/or to enrich himself?

Hmmmm. I’d say—yes!



Andrew Scheer’s “Find Some Dope on Trudeau” team hit paydirt last week, unearthing not one, not two, but three pictures of Trudeau in blackface.

And although all of these images hugely pre-date Justin’s entry into politics (and although you could equally argue that as the son of a revered, two-times Prime Minister of Canada, Justin was never not in politics), how could I not feel happy for Scheer and his Dementors, because surely the continual effort of simply fabricating lies and feeding them to social media was beginning to feel a bit desperate.

These images have since gone virally international, being referenced on The Late Show and TIME Magazine, among many others.

In fact, TIME Magazine broke the story, completely catching the Canadian Press by surprise. Let me explain further: A rookie reporter, Anna Purna Kambhampaty, with no experience with headlining, breaking stories, who attended a conservative-aligned American Christian school, received a “tip” from a “Michael Adamson” who no one can track down, and was published in TIME, whose editorial staff did not verify the sources or fact-check the story.

In other words, it is possible that conservative-aligned players deliberately encouraged a major American publication to interfere in a Canadian election.

Read the full, and at 28 minutes to read, I mean full, analysis of possible dirty tricks » HERE.

As for the actual blackface pictures, I have no excuse to put forward. I’m reeling with disappointment, not because of any poor judgement involved but because he obviously exercised no judgement at all. He apparently believed, without considering the implications of his belief, that this was an acceptable and amusing thing to do.

They say that the sons squander the fortune that the father creates. Justin squanders the legacy of his father, who was a fierce, plain-spoken, authoritarian progressive with the common touch, a man who said, as he invoked martial law against terrorists who had kidnapped two diplomats, “Just watch me.”

Just watch me, and you’ll know what’s happening. Just watch me handle this emergency, and damn your pious talk of civil rights. It was a shocking, courageous, necessary outrage, and Pierre’s legacy lives on, Canada lives on, because of his courage.

Pierre’s legacy is noble, big, all-encompassing, erudite, proud, logical and consistent; pragmatic and visionary. Pierre was a politician of the old school.

Justin says, “Just ignore me.” Justin’s legacy is “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” Justin’s legacy is a gender-balanced cabinet, transgender rights codified; these are good things, indeed.

But these are easy achievements, niche brownie points for most people. The big achievements that might have been— standing up to big oil and yet not alienating the province that lives on oil; following through on electoral reform; making his case for SNC-Lavalin without the appearance of being underhand, opaque and arrogant; real, instead of Twitter, diplomacy with the King of Saudi about women’s rights that might have bought an activist her freedom—none of these materialized.

Did we fever-dream it all in our post-Harper recovery?

Instead we found out too late that he is an apple fallen far from the tree in achievement but not in entitlement. We’ve seen and been appalled by his weak, defensive management style in not addressing issues proactively or understanding the confusion and impatience of an electorate who sought the ghost of his father and ended up with a two-bit Hamlet. When Trump frenemied him, we were not proud of our PM who stood up to the Big Guy; we felt protective, a worrisome clue.

It’s as though, in taking on the mantle of his father which we offered him, he showed gung-ho willing but in the end had no investment in the role; he hadn’t saved Canada, he hadn’t pulled it all together. That was someone else’s project, and he didn’t know where to find the documentation, the brand assets or the right fonts. His heart isn’t in it; it’s not life or death. He’s the politician as consultant, in and out, and he never knows the name of the receptionist.

He takes after his mother, the infinitely annoying Margaret Sinclair, the prototype spoiled princess (Diana took up the template when the ink had barely dried) who married above her station for the glory and then shied like a new mare at the gate when she realized that she was not just the plaything of a hot daddy: this business involved duty and public life.

Fuddle-duddle that shit! said she, or words to that effect, as off to Studio 54 she trotted to be banged by rock stars, snort cocaine and live the life she was born to, that of a privileged, worthless debutante, which is what she’d wanted in the first place, just with better photo opps.

Once again, nobody is paying attention except the right wing. Once again, progressives dig our own graves by bringing water pistols to a battle being fought with rocket launchers.


Let’s finish with these pictures and get on with our lives. There are three instances of Trudeau in blackface:

First photo is from 2001, when he was a 29-year-old teacher at a school in Vancouver and was attending an Arabian Nights- themed gala

Second is from when he was performing in a talent show as a student at high school

Third is video footage from the early 1990s, when Mr Trudeau would have been in his late teens or early 20s

In other words, these are pictures of a high school student, a teenager and a teacher at a private school, where the fellow guests at this particular “Aladdin” themed event that took place nearly twenty years ago were surprised that anyone would take this seriously or as an indication of Trudeau’s values.

Indeed many Canadians of as many shades of brown and black as you would like have dismissed these images as, not harmless, but certainly not indicating a secret Justin we never knew, or a closet racist bent on baking his prejudice into legislation. They express mainly two views: It was many years ago, these were the acts of a boy in a particular time and place, they were intended, however misguidedly, as harmless fluff; or that they find the images offensive but accept Trudeau’s heartfelt apology.

In other words, NO ONE CARES about Trudeau the teenager in blackface for a school play. Get serious, people.

This is Canada, Murgatroyd McGraw! We don’t like a big fuss and besides, we’re not all that stocked up with photogenic, charismatic and clever. If we took this more seriously than it warranted, we’d be looking at Andrew Scheer, who openly consorts with white supremacists, tells us he won’t revisit abortion, but that he’ll certainly allow his backbenchers to bring forward private bills to be voted on “according to conscience,” in other words, he is going to revisit abortion; Scheer, who worked for a politician who believed homosexuality should be re-criminalized.

Andrew Scheer has refused to denounce the Yellow Vest elements within the United We Roll group who have accused the prime minister of treason, called for violence against Justin Trudeau and who have been spewing hate and violence against immigrants. He has refused to condemn statements by one of his own Senators who asked the truckers participating in the United We Roll rally to “roll over every Liberal left in the country.”

Lana Payne, The ChronicalHerald.ca
https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/lana-payne-the-conservatives-have-a-racism-problem-288659/

We’re looking at the appalling Maxime Bernier, who all but wears a little moustache and a swastika on his arm, whose platform is non-existent except for complete denial of the science of climate change, and whose “People’s Party” exists solely to stoke division and hate;

We’re looking at Jagmeet Singh: An honorable man, a man of integrity, and who I’m ashamed to say may be unelectable because of his turban. In fact, the entire NDP party in New Brunswick just defected to the Green Party, because their constituents are so unable to get past Mr Singh’s religion (he’s Sikh), they feel their party is doomed.

Here’s the choice: Vote for the guy who, not twenty years ago, but within the past four has welcomed refugees, made a commitment to reparations for native Canadians, stood up for human rights in Canada and abroad, stood up to Trump, and wowed us with his fashion flair; or vote for the guy who, not twenty years ago, but within living memory, has compared gay people to dogs, hangs out with bona fide white supremacists, and gets all slippery about his intent regarding women’s reproductive rights.

If we’re going to fall, and I sense we are going to, let’s fall forward. Shall we?

Justin, you’re just as cute as a little red wagon. Now take off your cojone-shaped earrings and put those little suckers back where they belong.

Meanwhile, down in Loosiana…


an American woman bit the testicles of a 600-lb camel in order to escape when it sat on her (her arms were pinned down, too). She and her husband were visiting a petting zoo at a truck stop—we could conceivably stop right here for our ham sandwiches and Thermos of Tim Horton’s, but I’ve got lots to cover— and had thrown treats into the camel’s enclosure. Their dog ran into the enclosure, they ran after the dog, and that’s when the terrible camel sitting moment occurred.

Their dog is deaf, by the way.

Three cheers, then, for good old American pluck and ingenuity in the war against the stupidity of the same person exercising the pluck and ingenuity.

Truck stop manager Pamela Bossier says she was shocked and angered by the incident.

“What happened Wednesday was kind of really crazy,” she told local news station WBRZ. “She actually bit him in his private area. That’s about as nice as I could put it.”

I wish I was kidding.

֍

We Sincerely Hope Our Election Won’t Disturb Your Sleep …

plus: Facebook is the idiot-maker.


Carolyn Strom, R.N.: Self-made victim of the Facebook justice system.

IT BEING MY BIRTHDAY COMING UP and all, I treated myself, as one does, to a little bit of narcissistic self-analysis, in the form of the Myers-Briggs personality test.

The Myers-Briggs personality test is perfect for when you’ve gotten tired of astrology or palm-reading, want a little more cachet, but don’t want to burden yourself with anything too accurate or scientific. Lighten up, Mr J. Robert Oppenheimer!

Myers-Briggs is the real deal, having been concocted by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers in the spare time they could find between un-moulding the jellied ambrosia salads for the church social and retying each other’s corsets, and based on tinkering with the poetic but utterly unscientific, even dotty, theories of Carl Jung.

 Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers

Myers-Briggs is routinely referred to as pseudoscience, has poor predictability, poor repeatability (you can easily get a different result if you try again), it doesn’t account for neuroses or any personality disorders, and basically it’s just a load of old codswallop that’s maybe fun to administer to your friends when you have your Monopoly nights.

In the end I self-diagnosed as an extraverted introvert, meaning I’m constantly on a knife edge of confident self-doubt. I don’t quite know why I fall into this two-headed, comic-tragic, hi-lo self-esteem upward-downward spiral. I realize that everyone is unique, everyone has value and everyone’s story is different, which is why I should never compare myself to anyone and goddamnit how come he has over one hundred thousand followers of his blog while I have just over two hundred after five years?!

But that’s typical of an extraverted introvert with a knickerbocker twist. I’m the kind of guy who writes a kick-ass book, then fails to publicize it, which means I’ve sold three copies in the year since I bore down in a bathtub full of warm gin and tonic and Lamaze’d it into being.

Meanwhile I keep re-reading it, which means I keep nit-picking, and of course there’s no longer any hope of responding to my own humor in a spontaneous way. The whole project feels limp, deflated, like the balloons the day after your birthday party.

My birthday party, for which I intend to knock back a gin cooler or three from the liquor store and practise the Beethoven Opus 126 Bagatelles, will be this Saturday, September 21st. I’m going to be sixty-four years old. You may, in your imagination, kiss my gnarly hand and tell me how much I don’t look it, then slowly withdraw, because, and I know you can take the truth, you’re not on the list. Actually, no one is—just this once I’d like to experience an important milestone that isn’t all mucked up with guests.

The only invitee is my five-year-old self, who’s always here anyway, gazing out through these astonished eyes the way a fish trapped in its goldfish bowl gazes at the shimmering, wavy world beyond.

I feel the inside of my crusty iguana-skin, I stomp my webbed feet and I wonder what happened to the pale, milky-cool velvet integument of my childhood. I still reach out with the arms of a five-year-old, still love like one, still break down like one.

I once loved someone so much that when they left me, I literally thought I would die. I cried for a day and a night, for a week, for six months, for a year; I cried until I flipped inside out and stood like a long-forgotten martyr flayed for a lost cause, my heart and guts and liver and every internal organ that could feel pain dangling, glistening red and purple, from my bloodied trunk. I was stunned, slaughtered and butchered in the abattoir of love, and yet I didn’t die.

I didn’t die.

But I never slept in my bedroom again.

I’m persistent despite the odds; I’m lichen on a tree stump, moss on stone; insistently unlovely. I have grim determination, which means I’m handy to have around when you need someone to open that pickle jar.

What’s up with me at sixty-four? I’m shocked as the ghosts of my lost friends start to crowd around me at night, whispering that it’s OK and they’ll see me soon. I listen to Beethoven’s last five string quartets, his final confession and urgent advice to the future; mankind’s only necessary music.

My parents are dead, I’m estranged from my siblings, I’m currently sharing my one-bedroom apartment with three charming renegades, the tax people have garnished my monthly government pension and, all in all, life is way more interesting than I had any right to expect.


We’re approaching the day when the Canadian Federal Election limps across the unavoidably advancing finish line—oh, sweet Jeezus, no, I don’t know the date though it may have something to do with Canadian Thanksgiving or it may not.

How the election campaign begins is: we simply flip the switch to “on” and sit back. No primaries, no ticker-tape, no accusations of rape, or mass shootings or failed space launches. Just FLIP, ping! and we’re good. You’d have to have the compound eyes of a deer tick to notice any change.

“Hey, what was that tiny pinging noise?”
“That’s the Canadian Federal Election starting!”
“Are you trying to be funny?”
“I wish.”

This non-startiness is because we’ve spurned the American M.O., which is: de-educate your citizens, yell at the black people, make up stupid shit and Tweet about it, enlist foreign powers to destabilize the country by exacerbating social tensions, make up some more stupid shit, declare your press enemies of the people, declare your closest allies enemies of the Prez, discipline the weather agency for contradicting you, show contempt for the judiciary, yell at the Mexicans, stack the Supreme Court, then give everyone permission to donate as many billions of dollars as they want to buy the election for the candidate of their choice, which all makes for lousy democracy but superlative theatre.

Democracy… Theatre… Democracy… Theatre

You can see how easy it might be to get conflicted about this.

Of course, this means that Canada, with its geeky rules about political donations (they’re limited to $1,500 per person, and labour unions and corporations can’t contribute) must be socialist, at which epithet I chortle heartily even as I struggle to hoist my liver-spotted, chain-laden arms to the keyboard.

Ayn Rand, who conservatives worldwide keep mistaking for Milton Friedman, would have said we’ve “sold our rights for free healthcare!”

Ms. Rand was scarred by her experience with the Bolsheviks, so we can forgive her confusing authoritarian state capitalism, i.e. “communism,” with citizens voting for a benefit to which they willingly contribute their tax dollars, which they all love, and which results in happier, healthier participants in the consumer economy.

Take that, crazy-novel lady, and here’s a shout-out to your awkwardly named characters: Dagny Taggart, Ragnar Danneskjöld, Wesley Mouch, Howard Roark and Gail Wynand (a man). Rand may have had a certain vision and a dollop of sheer audacity, but her ear was pure tin.


I’ve been in total avoidance mode about, well, any of the alternatives to Justin Trudeau, frankly. But it’s time to man up and think about— UGH— Maxime Bernier, our very own Québec-grown authoritarian-nationalist white supremacist-misogynist candidate, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada. (We don’t, by the way, elect the Prime Minister; we vote for the party of our choice, whose leader then becomes PM.)

We are in the tradition of liberalism up here, which, like the development of common law, is a slow, dare I say, conservative process. We don’t throw everything out and start fresh. We don’t talk revolt or tyranny. We don’t nail everything down. We like nuance, interpretation, shades of grey. It takes us a century to ask for our own flag, even longer to repatriate the constitution.

We’re a pack of earnest Boy Scouts and Girl Guides who’ve finally achieved every merit badge, chanting our so-boring-it’s-woke mantra “peace, order and good government” with the self-conscious superiority of kids cleaning their plates of Brussels sprouts.

We are not republicans, up here in the cold-as-a witch’s-penumbra north. We are loyalists, which means we rebel by not rebelling; we are not a country in our own right, with a distinctive identity. We are whatever the revolutionaries were before they revolted. We are “not the United States.”

Because we did not rebel but remained a colony of the British Empire, we are more in tune with those who want another country’s protection. We understand what it means to take the high road and be the adult in the room, to know that we have every right to be isolationist and look to our own first, but to decide not to exercise that right.

The last guy who cared very much about any of this was Pierre, Justin’s dad. When Canada was about to unravel he gripped that idea with both hands and he held us together by the force of his will and by his arrogant belief that we should get what we needed, not what we wanted. He would not let us disintegrate because he could not let the idea of Canada die.

That kind of certainty is rare. Mainly we are full of self-doubt, unlike our British forebears with their five-hundred years of lawns hand-rolled by Capability Brown and tarnished, inherited silver services for twenty. The least little remark from a snarky American who hasn’t read the playbill about how we’re coolest on the block can send us, by which I mean me, into a tizzy of defensiveness.

Why, just this week on Twitter a creature called “Diana Death” (@TheeDianaDeath), a self-styled “rock musician and politically incorrect humorist”, invited herself to an exchange and told me that Americans “don’t give a scintilla of shit about your cheesey Charter;” and how could I respond except to point out:

“Diana, take it from a gay guy: You have the wrong kind of tits for that outfit.”

But getting back, reluctantly, to Maxime Bernier and the election: Maxime is the sweet, or angry, or reasonable, or vicious, face of the People’s Party of Canada.

Now I ask you—does that not sound promising? There couldn’t be anything ironic about having “people” (or “democratic” or “republic”) in the name of a political party, right? And anyway, everyone has to have a “People’s Party” these days, darling! Don’t be left behind! Don’t be caught flaunting some tatty, worn out, twentieth-century human rights thing; brown shirts are the new navy blue of conservatism worldwide!

It’s People’s Parties, and For the People, common people and right-thinking people and particularly white people. Good honest, hard-working people! Not rapists or gang members or illegals or invasions or infestations!

People—! People who need people! ♫ are the most right-wing people—in the world—!

Maxime’s for people, except when people are teenagers, female and refuse to shut up about climate change. He thinks it’s good politicking to bring out big ammunition to crush Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old girl from Sweden who’s so fired up about this disaster, she’s traveled the world on a yacht (zero carbon profile!) to raise awareness. Bernier thereby demonstrates what teams of researchers in Sweden, studying climate-change denial (yes, it’s an actual subject for academic study now) have found: That there’s a direct correlation between climate denial and being a white-supremacist misogynist male, that there are guys who believe the planet was given by a white, WASP god to white, WASP men to abuse and dominate the same way they abused and dominated their womenfolk.

These are the guys who are threatened that their place in the sun has been taken over by a new generation terrified and angry about this chaos that’s been dumped in their laps.

(Click to view larger version.)

This is Bernier’s EIGHT-PART Tweet diatribe against a 16-year-old climate activist.

It’s a shameful outburst, uncontrolled and gratuitously nasty. He revels, like all abusers, in his power over those he perceives as weaker than him. It arouses revulsion in me, the same revulsion that I felt in Grade Six when our Principal whipped, with a barber’s huge black razor strop, the hands of a fellow classmate, a girl, who endured this torture and returned to her desk shaking uncontrollably, convulsed with sobs, her spastic fingers telegraphing an indecipherable message of confusion, betrayal and grief.

Many Canadians, noticing that he’s polling at only three percent, don’t take Bernier seriously, but I do. I remember how little we took Trump seriously. Do you?

And if that doesn’t make your ovaries descend, think of this: It doesn’t matter if Bernier’s party, the party of white supremacy and “pure laine,” falls into the ditch. He will have done his work, which is to make racism a topic, to normalize the discussion and make us ponder whether there might not be “good people on both sides,” that is to say, good racists.

And now it sounds like a legitimate comment when we say it’s the Chinese buying up all the condos; though no one is ever able to explain to me what the problem is with Chinese people buying condos, even all of the condos, as opposed to white people buying condos. The problem, apparently, is self-evident to everyone but me.

I’m being precious, of course, because we all know very well that the problem with “Chinese people buying all the condos” is that the Chinese people are all Chinese.

We do things our own way up here: In ‘Murica ya got yer slavery, up here we have the Canadian tradition, dating back to the eighteenth century, of head taxing Asians, throwing them in internment camps and working them to death, literally, laying track for our glorious Canadian Pacific Railway so our superiority can gleam from sea to shining sea.

But there I go, standing on the wall and screaming at wooden horses again. The body politic are like boulder-headed teenagers: You long to save them from the fatal mistakes of your youth, but they’re too busy buzzing their hair into Mohawks and hiking up their tartan schoolgirl skirts to listen to your desperately uncool warnings.

Every generation thinks they’ve nailed it, and we dinosaurs have to sit back and endure their predictable screams of outrage as we watch them climb those stairs to the attic room and open the very door, the only door, they were forbidden to open. It’s almost not worth the pleasure of saying “I told you so.”


We now head west, for the next plate of canapés in my tasting menu of annoyance will be served in the cloakroom: that ever-so-flat, barely-remembered Cinderella of Canada’s provinces, Saskatchewan. But first I have to stop for a little joke, OK? Bear with me.


An American couple have just collected their luggage at the airport and are figuring out where to go next, when they spot another couple, both dressed in heavy winter overcoats, tuques, gloves, snow boots, scarves, the full get-up.

The American wife says to her husband, “Oh, Harry, look at those inneresting people! Do you think they’re Canadians? I’m gonna go find out!”

She walks over to the couple who are all decked out in their winter clothes, and she says, “Excuse me, but would ya’ll mind tellin’ me where you’re from?”

The startled winterized guy looks at his winterized companion, then back at the American woman. The two of them say to her, in perfect unison, “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan!”

The American woman, taken aback, returns to her husband’s side.

“So,” he says to her. “Did y’all find out anything? Where are they from?”

“I dunno,” says the wife. “They didn’t speak any English!”


So it seems that in Saskatchewan a Registered Nurse made a complaint on Facebook about the allegedly poor treatment her grandfather received while in palliative care. Here’s a little of what she wrote:

“It is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care … or how to help maintain an aging senior’s dignity (among other things!)… To those who made Grandpa’s last year’s [sic] less than desirable, please do better next time!” 

Now, this seems fairly innocuous, right? Not to the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association, several of whose members launched a complaint.The nurse, Carolyn Strom, was brought before the SRNA’s Tribunal accused of violating their code of conduct for social media and bringing the nursing profession into disrepute by her remarks.

Strom was fined $1,000 and asked to pay the $25,000 cost of bringing her to the Tribunal. A Court of Appeal reaffirmed this decision (courts are reluctant to contradict the decisions of self-monitoring professional bodies). Strom, who has been dealing with this fallout since 2015, is due this week for a final appeal.

You can read more about the case » starting here.

I feel that I need to justify my fascination with this rather obscure case. I can only tell you that freedom of speech, and other rights, become very interesting when they come into conflict with others’ rights. How are we to decide whose rights get precedence?

Let’s think about this. Ms Strom took her complaint and aired it in public. On Facebook. What is it about this crass social media platform that is so seductive? It’s ugly in design, puerile in attitude, its algorithms can’t tell the difference between art, news and spam, it’s run by an entitled brat who sells our data to private companies and feigns surprise when it’s revealed that mysterious PR firms are rewriting reality in order to subvert democratic elections, and yet where do we run to?

We literally don’t seem to care how sinful it all is; I say “sinful” as only an atheist can say it, as a crime against the natural and good. Facebook makes idiots of us all, every time we use it.

Carolyn Strom made an idiot of herself when she broadcast her complaint on Facebook. She was seduced by the irresistible urge to give shade, to take her grief about her grandfather and neutralize it, turn it into a brisk efficient trip to customer service.

Because here’s the deal: by all accounts, Ms Strom did not once, ever, voice her complaints to the nurses at the facility during her apparently infrequent visits. We’re in the realm of guilty until proven innocent, trial by public opinion.

The nurses, unnamed by Strom but for all practical purposes easily identifiable by anyone who cared to make the effort, have been accused—but which of them and of what? They have no way to defend themselves against what is just insinuation. Every one of them is now under the shadow of this vague complaint, competent and “incompetent” alike.

Bad enough for a member of the public to complain this way, in a transparent, at least to us, attempt to obtain sympathy for her relative’s death. For a member of the nursing profession to do so, knowing full well that her actions were in defiance of professional standards and procedures she was bound to uphold, is unfair, unjust, and just plain tacky.

Welcome to social media, where everyone’s the star of their own monodrama, where we’re stuck in a twilight world of my side and your side, but rarely the point in the middle where the truth lives, messy and shaded with grey and letting no one off the hook.

Communication is a hard slog. Voicing your complaint to a real person, in the flesh, in real time, you can hear your self-justifications and convenient white lies fall flat in the dead space between you and them. Seeing someone’s skeptical face, experiencing their lack of investment in your innocence, is bracing as well as humbling. Unless you’ve truly been horribly abused with no provocation, you’ll feel like a kid who’s lying about who broke the window with the baseball. You’ll feel that most public of emotions, shame.

Far easier to sing your aria in an echo-chamber to a hand-picked audience of sympathizers, who’ll co-opt your story and take up your “cause.” Then you can all tut-tut together. Why solve the problem when it gives back so generously?

I have noticed over the years that some people crave negative experiences, even gladly paying for a fancy version that will impress the neighbours. Strom’s bill, at $26,000, with the luxury extras of a self-critical essay and a mandatory course in ethics, makes this the Rolls Royce of disappointment.


So, Merry Birthday to me, god bless us every one, vote anything but Conservative and don’t take any wooden nickels.

֍

Elizabeth Warren, scrappy pit-bull for justice: a love story

(it’s all about electability, people)


Elizabeth Warren is embraced by a supporter, while another supporter holds a sign reading “Win with Warren”.

I’M A CANADIAN WHO TAKES A KEEN interest in American politics, out of necessity (q.v. “in bed with an elephant,” the phrase coined by Pierre Trudeau, father of Justin, back in the day when Trudeaux — is that the plural? We’ll say it is — still had some clout and even left the house occasionally), and also out of the natural human fascination with fresh train wrecks.

I was in awe of Elizabeth Warren at first sight, as she vilified, to their faces and on live Internet feeds, the big little boys of Wall Street. It was a messy, unpleasant, but essential series of interventions, and as I watched I felt the same kind of sick thrill I felt when I discovered that the source of the nasty smell in my apartment was a pound of ground beef my roommate had hidden in his closet, then forgotten about.

(Sometimes the stench of evil is so pervasive, and the modus operandi so bizarre, you have to become habituated just to save the day and summon up the courage to carry on. “Doesn’t everyone keep a stash of ground beef in their closet? No — ?”)

But my heavenly mind-marriage with Liz was consummated on the day, sometime back in the Golden Era, the misty, nostalgia-glazed Arcadia that was pre-November 2016, when she declared Trump

 a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud...

In normal circumstances, whatever those look like and if there even is such a beast anymore, Warren would justifiably be accused of making an ad hominem attack. But these are tryin’ times, oh yeah, and in making this statement she’d laced up her boxing gloves and stepped into the ring, having simply revealed herself as a shrewd judge of character with a refreshing lack of inhibition.

With a presidential candidate who had exactly zero qualifications for the job, in fact, negative qualifications that actively screamed about how completely unsuited he was to be President — six times bankrupt, business fraudster, classic misogynist (and, it would be revealed, sexual predator), white nationalist, lack of any experience whatsoever in any government role and lack of understanding that he was not going to be running a business but making decisions in the public interest — with his qualifications hovering at around minus thirty-eight, what was there to work with except his character (assuming that having no character is, in itself, a kind of character)?

Warren has a passion for justice, the zeal of the convert (as a young woman she was, by her own description, fiercely conservative), a lawyer’s ability to summarize evidence and build a convincing argument, and a constructive, righteous anger that makes her speeches electrifying.

And she is focusing on an issue — the financial terrorism perpetrated by the cowboys of high finance on regular, middle-class Americans — that the 99% (that’s us) can understand, and that avoids the trigger topics of religion / sex / gender / race (not that those issues aren’t of primary importance, but we’re talking electability. Let’s save the polarizing arguments for when we’re all tucked up safely in bed).

If there’s one thing the Dems need, it’s focus. Oh, Minerva! Focus, and a compelling, unifying narrative. They’ve been stuck, for what seems an eternity but is probably just decades, in a reactive position, always limited by the intellectual boundaries imposed by an increasingly illiberal and intolerant right, or hampered by internal disagreements and the self-serving machinations of narcissistic old men (a.k.a. Bernie Sanders, The Great Spoiler).

(And what irony that, in his insistence that his way was the only way, all or nothing — offering the total Scandinavian Social Democratic smorgasbord with lingonberry sauce to a population that goes apoplectic at the mere thought of universal health care — Sanders showed himself to be just as intolerant and polarizing as the buffoon he more or less single-handedly put in office.)

Every time Warren explains, » as in this article on Medium, the blunt, ad hoc strategies of the financial sector, those make it up as you go along cash grabs they’ve tried to convince us are the arcane, untouchable workings-out of eternal laws, I find myself gobsmacked anew by how much Washington is in thrall to Wall Street, up to its withers in dirty money and daily, normalized corruption.

And I’m mystified by how much America, self-proclaimed land of prosperity and opportunity for all, regardless of origins, seems to have bought the neoliberal economic horse droppings of that other obnoxious bargain-basement Messiah, Milton Friedman, Mr. Trickle-Down.

The problem is one of heuristics, those mental short-cuts that enable us to make snap decisions without starting every dilemma with Adam and Eve and working forward. What is most available in our minds becomes our preferred solution and availability is determined by how often we have it pounded into our brains. That’s why marketing is a never ending competition to be the most salient brand, what advertisers call “top of mind.”

What do we have available? For years now we’ve heard the mantras of small government, de-regulation, austerity, and the dire warnings about socialism (forever associated in people’s minds with autocratic communist regimes such as Soviet Russia, in actuality a form of state capitalism). We’ve absorbed the sneering pejoratives “PC”, snowflake, libtard, social justice warrior, so thoroughly that many progressives themselves, suffering from insidious Stockholm syndrome, begin to babble about the terrible chilling effect on freedom of speech caused by the use of respectful language towards minorities.

The relentless focus of the right wing has caught progressives sleeping, and cast us as the villains of their narrative. What we’ve been missing is our own narrative and a voice as passionate for economic and social justice and inclusiveness as conservative voices have been for the status quo and status quo ante.

Elizabeth Warren has spun a personal and political narrative that reeks of common sense, and in a voice that means business; it’s your mother about to scrub your face really, really hard with a rough, damp face cloth. It’s a voice even grown men can’t discount. The only comparable voice I can think of is that of Maxine Waters. Hail to the Giga Moms!

Ms. Warren, you are the scrappy pit-bull of justice and may your bite be as sharp as your bark; you are the middle class’s fierce Emmeline Pankhurst, hurling rocks at the tinted privacy glass of the elite’s limos; you are the liberal pundit’s unlikely seventy-year-old pin-up girl. You are sublime.

If you don’t get the nomination, I think I will lose hope — not for Americans, never for Americans, but for America.


THE YouTube-IVERSE IS ALREADY BEATIFYING Sanders, Mr. Me-or-Nothing, and excoriating Warren as being in the pockets of “the Establishment.”

Now, I ask you. Why would Liz be courted and artificially pumped up and promoted by the very establishment she is hell-bent on taming and regulating? Does this make sense to you? Of course it doesn’t!

“Why is Joe Biden in first place?” asks one confused lady.

Umm, because he’s an old, white male. Next question? Old white males gotta run, gotta sing, gotta dance. Old white males are the flavor of the past, and the past — when men were men, women were seen, whistled at, slapped, pinched, tickled, assaulted and condescended to but not heard, people of color knew their place, and The Gays were thankfully invisible — is Shangri-La, the lost Promised Land.

Joe’s a Regular Guy, having already played the warm-hearted doofus to Obama’s patrician straight man, in an uncomfortable role-reversal: Now Obama was the plantation owner and Joe, in white face, the comic field hand and simple light relief. Joe was suitably butch enough to counterbalance Obama’s ever-so-slightly-gay reserve, intellectualism and faint yet unmistakable ever-present air of fastidious distaste at having descended to the earthly plane.

Joe’s still at it: Fondling women, making inappropriate remarks about women, and wondering where the good old days have gone where a man wasn’t called on the carpet for every little off-color joke or well-meant love pat, however undesired.

Joe Biden has been on the wrong side of history much of the time: he was for the Defense of Marriage Act, for banning LGBTQ in the military; subsequent reversals notwithstanding; for capital punishment and increasing capital offenses; for abortion partial bans and the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds going to providing abortion.

Is this really the antidote to Trump?

And Sanders! Sweet mother of Liza! Sanders single-handedly handed the U.S. four years of Trump because his ego kept him hanging on, incensed that Hillary was touted as the more attractive option. Too late he told his followers to back Hillary, in a passive-aggressive, thinly veiled plea for loyalty to him and him alone, voiced as a plea for party unity — but with oh so much patent insincerity. It’s like his mom told him to stop being so mean to the mentally-challenged girl who wrote him mash notes and kept trying to hold his hand after class.

Guess what? Misogyny rears its tired old, white, male head. And it’s feeling uncomfortably like the beginnings of déjà vu all over again.

֍

A quiet staycation in my personal psychiatric ward



I’VE BEEN FEELING MIGHTY GUILTY about taking a little summer staycation in my hot, moist hometown of Toronto, Canada—a city of cheap condos that rain sheets of glass curtain wall onto the bed of a lake that evaporated ten thousand years ago—because, as I swelter in my kinky Mormon undergarments that I purchased second hand from Kijiji Salt Lake City and drink Fresca Shirley Temples garnished with parasols, I am neglecting to regale you with tales about my unfiled taxes, the last of the summer strawberries and the current roommate—whose confidentiality I will breach just a little by saying he is awaiting a bed at St. Michael’s Hospital for his emergency personality bypass.

Then it hit me. Hit me like a hockey puck hits the forehead of a disabled boy in a wheelchair attending his first, and last, Stanley Cup game. Hit me like Andrew Scheer hits his handmaids in the uteri with The New English Bible, Basic Vocabulary Edition: FOBBING OFF.

Fobbing off is when I appropriate something from the innerweb that moves, because I heard you like things that move. I haven’t moved since 2013, the year my ambition was shot, and, for the record, it was a conspiracy, and, for that matter, do you remember where you were?

Things That Move that I might share include an endlessly looping animated GIF of a parakeet feeding French fries to a puppy; a purloined documentary about the Illuminati’s plans for an underwater theme park on the former site of Miami Beach and for which I fail to honor the Creative Commons license; a YouTube video explaining how to earn money making concrete ashtrays or touring with your Nazi volleyball team.

These are just off the top of my head. Then I take The Media That Moves and tart it up with some sassy, possibly even relevant, commentary to distract you and make you think I’m actually doing some work, here. If I’m lucky, you may actually think I have depth.

So, fobbing right along, let’s pay homage to a member of the “27 Club,” a sweet misfit, a woman struggling with substance abuse even as she brushed her dirty fingernails against the stars; a big little girl from Texas named Janis Joplin. Watch and marvel as she gobsmacks her stunned audience at Monterey in 1967 with her raspy, miraculous caterwauling that can switch effortlessly and unexpectedly to a pure, perfectly placed phrase worthy of Schubert. Musicians of this era still knew music, all music, and you can hear operatic arias and counterpoint as much as blue grass and soul. Music still resonated with history.

Included in the footage are shots of Mama Cass in the audience, her jaw dropping as she watches, then at the end mouthing “Wow!” twice to her companion.

Janis Joplin had a pudgy, pock-marked face, she was “kooky,” because she wore jeans to her university classes and carried a guitar. She was once voted “Ugliest Man on Campus” by the ugly men on campus. She once joked about this on the Dick Cavett Show, but it was obvious that an insult that crass could get under anyone’s skin; with someone as emotionally vulnerable and isolated as Joplin, it must have been a knife blade in her brain.

I want the men who bullied her so nastily and so unnecessarily so wake up one morning and realize what they did. I want them to realize what they did every time a woman comes forward who’s been abused; every time they see a young woman with anorexia; every time they hear of addiction or suicide. I want them to look at their wives or daughters or sisters and recall a time when they were distraught, helpless or sick.

I want them to know that emotional abuse can be fatal; it’s always harmful, sometimes irreversibly. I want them to cry a thousand tears for every tear that Joplin cried and feel that agony.

In a society that treasures women’s docility it is a big deal for a woman not to be docile; in a society that judges women by a standard of beauty set by entitled men, it is a big deal for a woman to be judged publicly as ugly. When men call the shots and are the final arbiters of your worth, to be a woman and judged worthless is capital punishment.

I used to think that such an intense gift can burn itself out, especially when the gift, calibrated to limn the territories of psychic pain, creates a perpetual cycle of increasingly spectacular highs and reckless lows. Maybe with art this raw, with a flame burning this bright, you can only last twenty-seven years. Maybe artists have an innate sense of how much time they have…?

But these days it’s more my style to resist layering narrative onto the sheer sketchy randomness of our lives. An artist’s early death does not unfold according to an arcane watchmaker’s directive; it’s not the demonstration of an orderly clockwork universe—it delivers the anarchic shock of an assassination.

Mozart’s eccentricity was tamped into a classicizing container, both musical and societal. He had the consolations of religion, and, fortunately, a rock-solid sense of his own worth. This core of self-assurance helped him survive the suffocating neediness and emotional blackmail of his father, whose neurotic possessiveness threatened to cripple Mozart’s independence and creativity. Born two centuries later, he could have survived the rheumatic fever that killed him at thirty-five, using our science-based medicine that does not bleed you or force upon you curatives like “a pinch of the black powder in a glass of Sekt.

Beethoven would have written twenty symphonies and invented Viennese jazz if he’d gone to rehab, tried cognitive therapy, stopped going to swingers’ parties and sleeping with his groupies’ wives, and rejected his family doctor’s advice to bathe in the damned Rhine. (You can make up your own what-if scenarios for your own treasured artists.)

That’s the tragedy. There was so much more for them to give before they slipped on banana peels and got run over by the clown car. I’m recalling a news item about a woman who purchased a can of beer, drank it straight from the can, and died: because in the warehouse where the cans were stored, a rat had urinated on this particular can, thereby depositing traces of the rat poison which it had ingested.

I don’t know if this woman was an artist, but I know that no one deserves to crack open a cold one and die from arsenic poisoning. No one deserves the bathos of quotidian, cocktail-hour death.

We should do artists better. We should create safe communities, idyllic retreats in which we could coddle them, nourish them, give them smooth passage, protect them from life’s fault lines, and from themselves. (But without a history and experience, would they have anything to sing about, paint, write?)

Instead we treat artists —the truth-tellers, visionaries, iconoclasts, the most emotionally vulnerable of our species—as though they’re just like everyone else, when they’re skirting the edges of insanity. We’re like parents who blindfold our children and send them running naked through a firing range.

Janis Joplin, as was the case with Amy Winehouse, traveled in tandem with her self-doubts and her drugs and her art. She set her locus of control to other and filtered out anything that called her good, talented or beautiful. Her self-doubts, drugs and art egged each other on and dared to walk on broken glass on the edge of the cliff until they all fell together.

I’m not brave or talented—if this performance is any baseline for bravery and talent, I’m just a broken, craven old stick—but I’m eternally grateful for the blood splattering on my awestruck face.

֍