Rants

How Much is a [Gay] Life Worth?

twenty-five years with the possibility of parole


Bruce McArthur will be 91 when he is able to apply for parole. CREDIT: Pam Davies/CBC

Bruce McArthur, the serial killer who targeted gay men in Toronto from 2010 to 2017 — yes, for eight years — and who evaded capture even after being brought in for questioning as a suspect in 2013, was finally caught, say Toronto Police, “after we got aggressive.” *

* all italic text in this post represents a verified fact or an actual quote.

Don’t break a nail, will ya? Apparently after eight years of abject failure, our bungling boys in blue were forced to butch it up, skip their “Iron John” retreats, ceramics workshops and macrobiotic cooking classes and try something more radical, more “think-outside-the-box”.

“If he’d been black, some scumbag drug user or a homeless person, it would’ve been a different story,” said an officer assigned to the case who preferred to remain anonymous. “We would’ve haunted that muthafucka day and night until he was nailed to the wall!

“For example, we advocate for the full sentence in cases of trafficking in meth — life in prison for those assholes!

“Can you imagine the untold harm it causes to choose to use a drug in the privacy of your own living room that your betters have unilaterally decided is just wrong, except in cases of substantially the same drug being prescribed by doctors, or that will be legal tomorrow, now that they’ve figured out how to make lots of money from it?

“We’ve actually been pushing for an extra life sentence if they use a bong, but those bleeding hearts — oh, don’t get me started! Not to mention Trudeau, except to say what kind of pussy teaches drama, and how is someone like that expected to stand up to a real man, like Trump or Angela Merkel? Seriously!

“But getting back to snuffing out queers, with them we totally throw the book for jay-walking or for looking a little emaciated and not disclosing. Like, one cough in your face and you’ve got the AIDS, no question! Try explaining that to your kids!

“We generally save the gentle, non-investigative approach for white guys who tell a good joke and can obviously hold their drink. That leaves us with lots of energy for the important issues, like covering up our incompetence and beating up perps down by Cherry Beach. I mean, you gotta choose your battles, right?

“Unfortunately, Mr McArthur took unfair advantage and pulled the wool over our eyes by being white and, we naturally assumed, heterosexual. The landscape gardening thing was a definite red herring, but the huge clay pots just shouted macho. What can I say? We all took the bait.

“As far as the anonymous tips go, we naturally figured, bunch of hysterical queens with nothing but animus towards any kind of authority. These guys had no father figure in their lives, so naturally they get antsy when someone with a bulletproof vest tries to tell them what to do.

“Also, when we asked Bruce if he’d lured all those faggots into his van, he said ‘no,’ ” the officer continued. “How could we have known that a serial killer would actually lie? It just boggles the mind! It’s like there’s no integrity anymore!”

Toronto Police have had a few misses in a the past while, and not just with the gay men who “disappeared,” which as we all know gay men tend to do anyway when they’re feeling a bit sulky or crave a little extra attention. There’s also the case of the girl from North Bay who failed to respond to her mother’s phone calls.

“We looked for that kid all over town,” said the rookie assigned to the case, “but I missed the class where they suggested that you should look in the immediate vicinity of where the person was last seen. That was an eye-opener, or in my case, not!”

The young lady in question, described in detail by our contact as “a piece of worthless trash who’d thrown away her life to use drugs and offer her sexual favours to any number of guys,” was eventually found by her mother, who, in her desperation, traveled the four hundred miles from North Bay to Toronto to do the search herself.

By a sheer stroke of luck, the canny mom went to the girl’s last address, looked to the right, and discovered an adjoining entrance where she found a body, and immediately recognized her daughter, who’d been strangled.

“Frankly, we wish the public would not take matters into their own hands. It makes us look like idiots!” our contact stated, clearly put out by this bit of amateur detective work. “And if that mom’s in shock, well, let that be a lesson to her. Leave the heavy lifting to the experts, guys who are able to discover bodies and not get so emotional about it. I mean, isn’t that just like a woman!”

McArthur typically lured his victims into his van, tied them up, sometimes used “g” (the date-rape drug) on them, then suffocated them. After some freaky business with a fur coat, he dismembered the men then buried them in various locations, including in giant planters on the properties of his landscaping clients.

McArthur cleverly avoided allowing the public to suffer distress from hearing details of the case by pleading “guilty,” thus obviating the need for a trial.

Justice John McMahon, at the sentencing, had the following tough words for the perp:

“Bruce McArthur, you are an a evil man who clearly deserves another chance. I mean, consider your age. If you didn’t have parole, it’s like — your life would be over! How would I be able to look myself in the face?

“Plus, you confessed. Obviously serial killers have gotten a bad rap! I say to the public, is there not some good in everyone?

“And there’s a fine line between retribution and vengeance, kind of like the fine line between killing someone because you hate them, and just killing someone for the sheer thrill of doing so. I can’t say that there was any personal animosity, here, just the devil-may-care antics of a landscape gardener who got a bit too enthusiastic with his being annoyed at poofters with, face it, no immediate family to get upset, and mostly brown skin.

“It could happen to anyone!

“We’ll run your sentences concurrently, so you can wow everyone with your best-selling memoir in twenty-five years’ time. Personally, I can’t wait to make a cup of cocoa with lots of miniature marshmallows, snuggle into my big armchair by the fire and have a good, scary old read!”

We attempted to reach Justice — but her voice message said she’s on permanent leave of absence.

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Little brother is watching you, aghast, and also ever so slightly enviously.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

AS I STOOD NAKED IN MY KITCHEN THE OTHER MORNING, smoking my first Pall Mall Red of the day, desperate for a pee and staring with pink, watery rabbit eyes at the jars of Colombian Roast, Gold Espresso and Special Regular Blend flash-frozen crystals while debating my options—

—whether I should dredge up a greasy mug from the fetid swamp water of the sink, or boil the water on the stovetop (kettle died, see below), add the instant coffee to that and just drink it right out of the saucepan; what particular mutilations I should perform on the person who used up all the milk then replaced the empty bag, in its plastic jug, back in the fridge; and whether I should throw my last shred of self-esteem under the bus and order that penis-enlarging pump with the special rhino-horn cream from Grommet to counteract the gradual and undeniable process of age-related, disuse-related or indifference-related atrophy—

—I asked myself a question.

We’re all adults? I can talk freely?

Why is it, I wondered, that my default blog post, at least eight times out of ten, is a searing analysis of American, rather than Canadian, political shenanigans and social hooligan-ry?   

This is what being a merciless and unsparing Skewerer of Modern Times entails, and so as not to put you off completely, I’m not even mentioning the unrelenting stream of hate mail I receive, which basically consists of pink notices from Canada Revenue insisting that I file my taxes from 2012 onwards while simultaneously remitting forty-thousand dollars; and Bell Canada Fibe promotions addressed to “Occupant”. 

Then I went for a pee, and at age sixty-odd and counting I damn well deserve to sit down for this one, at which point I dozed off again on the john.

I awakened with a little scream of confusion, which is how I regain consciousness during a Wagner opera, hoping to be well into the final act then realizing it’s only five minutes later; which is to say, in a state of desperate hope followed immediately by despair. Little by little, and with nominal assistance from Facebook and GPS, I managed to piece together my identify and location coordinates; at which point I felt confident enough to make the coffee, finish the pack of smokes and file for immediate attention that day’s final notices, a process that involves stuffing them into an old leather suitcase that I found on the side of the road four years ago.

My morning calisthenics complete, I felt really quite pulled together and ready to ignore my uncomfortable question and blast ahead into my day of doing the next, doh, obvious thing that doesn’t make any money.

Then I logged on.

The headline on Huffington Post Canada sent shivers down my spine, put my heart on the express elevator to the basement and stood on end the clumps of earlobe and nostril hair that I’d missed during my bi-yearly trim. Unmissable, unfathomable, and in what must have been at least a 24-point display font, probably Helvetica or Gill Sans, was the following, confirming that what I most feared had come to pass (and those of you who read standing up may wish to find a spot on the nearest ottoman post haste, lest you topple over in shock and crash into your vitrine filled with priceless Lalique statuettes):

New Brunswick Government Falls!

I did try to prepare you. Now to address a couple of points, while you let the full import of that headline sink in.

You may be wondering about the kettle thing (see above). Americans don’t drink tea and therefore tend not to have electric kettles, which I discovered during my frequent trips to New York City to stay at the homes of random psychotics that I’d naked-Skyped with. I’d be craving a cup of tea and after an hour or so rummaging around their tiny alcove-kitchen I’d finally shriek, “Where’s your friggin’ kettle, by the grace of Judy, Mother of Liza!?”

And the psychotic would stop for just a sec, stare at me blankly, then go back to boffing whatever trashed up, face-down, GHB’d-out piece of street twink they’d picked up online the previous night.

I hope that clarifies about the kettle thing, and always happy to be of service.

Then there’s the bags of milk. I know you’re all thinking, he means ‘breasts’, but, no, these are actual plastic bags of milk, containing about a quart each, that come packed in three’s inside another bag that’s sealed with a twist tie. You also need to buy a cheap jug that holds the bag of milk so you can pour it out, but first you must take the special miniature tool, containing a tiny razor blade set at an angle, that lives on the top of the handle of the jug, and with this special tool you perform a bris on the corner of the plastic bag of milk.

This requires holding the tip of the corner of the bag with one hand, and with a swift, confident gesture and an optional cry of mazel tov, slicing off that tip of the bag that G-D put there for whatever reason, but that you in your greater wisdom have since determined was a design flaw.

I’m goy, so I compromise by performing a bris that is so hideously botched that the bag of milk is whimpering and reproaching me with a look that cries, “Why you do this to me, bro? Why you spoil that beautiful bag/boy thing we had?” I pour milk into my coffee through the torn, ragged, gaping hole, and despite every effort not to, I imagine the torn udder of a dairy cow who saw the dish run away with the spoon, tried to jump over the moon, miscalculated and ripped herself to shreds on the barbed-wire fence.

This is me. This is Canada. We do things differently up here.


Exhibit A: Moment of truth

New Brunswick Progressive Conservative supporters watch early returns at leader Blaine Higgs’ campaign headquarters in Quispamsis, N.B. on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Read the caption carefully. This is the campaign headquarters of the Progressive Conservative candidate for Premier of New Brunswick, on election night, as the votes come in, and may I just say that provincial stores of Coumadin are surely depleted as these old white guys, median age 173, try to contain their excrement. Or did I mean excitement, I get them mixed up.

Try? Let us give this cartload of pink wrinkles its due: Succeed.

I’m not sure who the dewy young whippersnapper is in the second row, who would seem to be urging them to return to their Beginner Flamenco Class, but I have a hunch that, should they hesitate when presented with their voting card, he would guide their liver-spotted hands to—Brett Higgs? Heinous Bogg? Glans Bipp? At any rate, the other old guy—and help them plant their spidery “x” in the correct square, and no going over the edges.

Exhibit B: Identifying the Liberal

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant delivers the State of the Province address in Fredericton, N.B., on Thursday, January 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

This is Brian Gallant, Premier, or possibly fallen Premier, of New Brunswick. Pretty, yes? Are you kidding? I mean, this is entering serious babe-licious territory. Hunka hunka! Just look at those shoulders! The dimples! The rakish, slightly loosened tie! The sensual, pursed lips that all but scream, “No point in resisting! Run right up, tear open my shirt and suck those nipples! Did I say suck? No, TWIST!

This means he is a Liberal. Let’s try another example:

Just look at those shoulders! The dimples! The rakish, slightly loosened tie! The sensual, pursed lips that… etc, etc.

Are you getting the hang of this?

To sum up: If you look at a male Canadian politician and pop a woody (women and gays) or instantly resent and revile him (hetero white men) be confident that you’re looking at a member of the Liberal Party.

Brian Gallant, by the way, is celebrating after his victory, or is it his fall, I get them mixed up, by singing a bit of “Mon pays,” the celebrated Canadian anthem by Gilles-Antoine-Saint- Saveur-Tabernac-Marie-Joseph Succer-Le-Coq, to demonstrate that, unlike the liver-spotted Progressive Conservative, he is functionally bilingual.

Bigguns Hainely, or whatever, actually refused to debate with Brian Gallant because he doesn’t speak French. Just imagine! If the same standard applied in the U.S., you’d have had Hillary standing there, with Trump going, “I’m sorry, but I can’t speak English real good and I have no ideas because no one talked to me in the last thirty minutes, so go fry your huevos rancheros! I’m outta here!”

And he still would have won. Because speaking English real good is like. You know.

Elite.


Snow. All Americans think Canada – up there – snow – socialists – mounties which is shallow but efficient, and leaves you more time to run out and lay waste to some black kids who were unwrapping their Mars bars, but you were absolutely convinced they were reaching for their assault weapons, and how could you be expected to think otherwise?

I get it.

Or shut down birth control and eradicate abortion (except the same number of abortions will take place, just with coat hangers and bowls of dishwashing liquid). You don’t trust killing anything that doesn’t look you right in the eye and scream before it starts bleeding, and you sure as fucktard-ery don’t trust anyone who bleeds for three days and doesn’t die!

I mean, women are all very well in their place, but seriously, what’s that my-little-visitor-got-the-curse icky nonsense all about? Even Ann Coulter, that embarrassing waste of non-aborted fetal personhood, thinks she’s got balls, but here’s the acid test: Can she write her name in the snow? We thought so! Out of our tree-house, girl-pundit! Your free man-pass is up!

Honestly, I get it.

You get to trill, as you pluck at the petals of a daisy, “Pull out of Syria… Bomb Syria… Russia’s the enemy…. Russia’s not the enemy …. He sucks my cock… He sucks my cock not…” and call that foreign policy because you’re The Man. You Are America and You Go Big and Never Go Home, and Nobody Pushes You Around.

I so very, very muchly get it. No, seriously, I do.

You don’t just reflexively dislike Nancy Pelosi then admit she’s a pretty admirable bit of high-class, high-functioning career politician, and, frankly, kinda hot, too, with her MILF-y, nay, GILF-Y, seen it all, done it all, one-of-the-boys redoubtable air. Oh, no. That’s the Canadian way.

You Hate Nancy Pelosi. Hate her beyond all reason and expression. Nancy Pelosi, despite having all the cred even a social conservative should want—devout Catholic, raised her kids then had her career—is, of course, a Grade A, grass-fed, hormone-free Bitch, and an ambitious, ball-breaking Commie Bitch to boot. And she is sparkly clean; you have nothing on her except the unfortunate accident of her sex, so you willfully set about activating every male brain stem, stirring up its ingrained, atavistic revulsion against any ambitious, powerful, rich, successful female.

She must be styled bitch, because she was apparently born to do what she is doing so well as the single most effective Speaker in living memory, male or female. Think of it: Whatever she has set out to do, she has accomplished. Everything.

She’s so effective at whipping the Dems, so brilliant at legislative strategy, compromising with the insubstantial (abortion amendment) to get the substantial (universal coverage), such a dogged, idealistic, confident, take-no-prisoners, speaking-truth-to-power leader through—how many Presidents? That’s right, and now that she’s in a position to tell her underlings, which is everyone, what to do, they tremble in their conservatard boots and they quake in their rookie libtard pinafores and they do it.

Forget Joan Crawford: Don’t fuck with Nancy Pelosi, fellas. Whoever you are, she’s fought bigger sharks than you.

And that whispery, whooshy, crinkly sound, building in volume as it rumbles from Capitol Hill to Twin Peaks like a crescendo of ruched draperies being flung from the grimy, ante-bellum windows of Tara, is the sound of old white guy scrotums reflexively retracting, and I’m betting only Nancy knows when, if ever, those shriveled testes will ever descend again.

You Hated, still Hate, Hillary. Like the earth is flat, Hillary’s a child-molester; Hillary, who spent half a lifetime advocating for children’s rights and made some of the most important contributions to jurisprudence in that area of law. Like the moon landing didn’t happen, Hillary’s corrupt; Hillary, who took a deep breath and steered her family with whatever dignity was possible through a nightmare of scandal and bad publicity after her white-trash hubby thought assuming the Presidency was like driving a red convertible down Main Street on Saturday night: look at that great piece of tail hey girls wanna go for a spin on this?

Noam Chomsky, George Soros, those old Jews, had you manufacturing consent as they ruled the media and upped the stats from the greatly-exaggerated Holocaust, but you do them one better.

You manufactured the truth.

What’s up in Canadian politics? Trudeau, the Prime Pretty One, the Luscious Liberal-in-Chief, long on talk of reconciliation and global warming until the conversation turns to oil; the dreary, carping Andrew Scheer, sleazy snake-oil salesman of the Evangelical right; Andrea Horwath, whose droid, social democratic heart is in the right place, but who can’t yet pass the Turing test.

Same old, same old, in other words, which is to say same as you guys but with less conviction.

And our alt-right freaks? Thinkkk Faith Goldy, our very own Mädchen in uniform; and that’s a suspiciously Jew-y name for a white supremacette, but we have less people, we need to double up, sometimes.

Think Jordan Peterson, petulant man-boy, rather overly invested in the proper traditional gender-role training of young males, a training which clearly passed him by; a public embarrassment of tired misogyny and silly rants about “political correctness,” discussions that were passé thirty years ago. Mr Peterson holds prissy black-tie town halls—I’m sure he wears his best suits when he flies tourist class or shops the local mall—town halls at which he voices contempt, to his papered house and with a little too much drama, a few too many campy postures, for the liberal worldview that gave him the freedom to voice his contempt in the first place; he clutters up YouTube with solemn diatribes about “censorship” even as he reaches the eyeballs if not the hearts of worldwide audiences.

Oh, Jordan! You’re such a little kidder!

But we haven’t elected Jordan Peterson to anything, because he’s not a politician, yet, just another court jester; just a university professor, and considering what and how and to whom he professes we just can’t take him seriously; we sense the sociopath behind the smile.

See what I mean? Canadians just don’t have the Manifest Destiny mindset; we can’t help fumbling the pass. You set the agenda; we respond, but we’re just too progressive to keep daily tabs on who’s enraged, who’s the enemy and who’s supposed to be more equal than the others.

Celine Dion cries at a Paris fashion show! Now that’s news! Stop the presses! Even snow has us undone; after one January day of usual snowfall for a January day in Canada, it’s #snowmaggedon. We just can’t cope with the apocalyptic anymore.

And that fall of the New Brunswick government? My insomnia is out of control and, relapsed alcoholic that I am, I’m eyeing the bottles of Canadian Club rye, the cans of ginger ale, and I’m licking my lips. God help me if Fredericton ever reduces the opening hours at The Beaverbrook Gallery!

There’s only so much stress a boy can take.

In which I make nice to evangelical Christians…

…to Louis C.K., not so much.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. Welcome to the dank, stinking, deep-webbed birth of two thousand nineteen C.E., the year born with a widow’s peak and with swastika-black cat-eyes wide open; the year that explodes from the belly already signed-up for Uber and deploying its influential personal brand. Two thousand nineteen is the malevolent offspring of The Storm who can read the runes, divine the sinister intent in the charred bones and slippery entrails of a former President’s funeral…

…Look! as the playback enters digital slo-mo and we zoom in on Laura’s face, hard and expressionless as stone. She turns with unnerving calm toward George, her downward glance at his right hand spun out to thousands of frames per second; he passes into her left hand an assassin’s final message… 

…White envelopes. In every shot, members of the congregation are handling large, sealed, white envelopes…

…A specialist commentator reads body language, like a sportscaster: Obama’s bored; Clinton’s agitated; Trump’s the only one engaged. She’s right, it seems, but Trump is simply projecting his fascination with his own inner dialog; he’s wondering who’s next he can sack or screw…

What is in the white envelopes? God, what is it?

What’s in the envelope? What is the most obvious supplement, at a state funeral, to the souvenir program and the hymnal? In the wacko world of The Storm, there’s a white envelope, but what is in it? What must it contain?

“Child pornography,” of course: Our sad, lonely epoch’s psychopathic fantasy, its omnipresent allegory of the unspeakable and the uncontrollable.

Child porn—which undeniably exists, but not, as hysteria would have it, around every corner or as a constant given in the lives of our enemies—like the “satanic ritual abuse” of the 80’s, is our generic catch-all for the worst and our ultimate smear tactic, our most indelible stain. It is Medea’s hideous gift of poison coat and coronet that adhere to the flesh and boil it off the bones.

Our desire to stain—someone, anyone, signals our outraged helplessness and our unbounded paranoia. Our innocence, which is to say our trust, has been violated; we have no one to turn to; we sense we can never be as before. Our acting-out is a cry for help not from, or even about, children, but from ordinary, once-sane adults, from you, your neighbours, relatives and friends.

We’re all reduced to faceless confused casualties, wandering in and out of shiny dioramas constructed for our distraction. We’re eaten alive: our most banal secrets pimped out for ready cash, our daily routines surveilled and mapped to the millimeter.

Our thoughts and even our dreams take only the tightly circumscribed, brightly lit paths offered to them, rat mazes continuously reconfigured by the insidious soul-snatchery of THE DEVICE.

And someone must pay.

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WELCOME to another year in which Parkland’s traumatized students, their teen years abducted then wiped out by the goons of the NRA, continue their quixotic battle for gun-control and try to recall anything of life in the time before, the time when their lives were ordinary kids’ lives, with no dangers more serious than turf toe, a fight with your best friend, the awkwardness of a first kiss.

For their efforts they are mocked by sad-sack dirt-bag comedian Louis C.K., who asks rhetorically, in his new comedy routine, if they think having survived a mass shooting makes them “interesting.”

No, Louis, in fact they’re the only ones in the room who aren’t thinking of themselves or their image. They’re trying to extract what paltry healing and common good they can from the spilt blood and torn bodies of their lost classmates.

They’ve put aside their private grief to work for the common good of all Americans—even you, Louis. The beauty of what they are doing breaks my heart. They are doing the work that adults have abandoned, adults who are too busy concocting puerile, self-serving fantasies to give the protection that is their duty.

The teens of Parkland are doing what no teen should ever have had to do.

They are making, Louis, the changes that you are too limp to effect, impotent as you are with the pathetic, needy impotence of the flasher. The extent of your comic genius is to diminish their hope, ridicule their bravery and discount their terrible rite of passage, to spit your contempt. You’re revealed not as a fiery preacher of intellectual freedom but as an angry, bitter flop. No, Louis, it’s you who wants to be “interesting.”

Instead you’ve revealed yourself as a rapist: a rapist who uses words to violate his victims instead of his cowed flesh-puppet, but whose mind is every bit as guilty as if he’d pinned them down until he’d finished.

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RECENTLY I STARTED a new daily regime that involves, as its core feature, acknowledgement of the existence of people other than myself.

You know, and can I just say, seriously: It’s been hell.

This all developed from my attempt to figure out, via highly structured, in-depth research, why more people weren’t paying attention to me. Well, slice me to ribbons under the Queen streetcar if it doesn’t turn out that if you pay more attention to people, they pay more attention to you.

I was fortunate enough to quite randomly pay attention to Mark Landry, whose blog is at Peacehacks.com, and he in his turn, as God is my witness, paid attention to me—just as the Newtonian Law of Blog Attraction predicted.

Then I discovered—in-depth, remember—that he was, and that his blog was targeted to, evangelical Christians.

Ah, yes. Evangelicals. Nineteen sixty-nine marked the riotous start of gay rights at the Stonewall Tavern, and subsequently that new visibility of the gay sub-culture that was like having all our protective camouflage ripped off and being herded into a clearing, ready for the Evangelicals’ open season. And the buttoned-down but very burned-up Anita “Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree” Bryant, as fellow freshman fag-seniors will recall, was perfectly positioned to light the straw at the foot of the stake as Christ’s perky, big-haired Joan of Arc.

Bryant was so effective in her noxious anti-gay crusade that—true story—every fag and every fag bar in North America boycotted Florida orange juice, thereby getting her fired from the Florida Citrus Commission’s ad campaign and utterly destroying any tiny remaining flicker of social cachet that still dangled from the tiara of the Screwdriver, nature’s own breakfast cocktail.

Save Our Children was the slogan of Bryant’s campaign, a once-whispered sentiment now finally heard loud and clear. She was adamant that gay men were out to recruit the young ‘uns and instruct them in our deplorable lifestyle, a toxic untruth that still, sixty years later, blazes barely contained under the surface of the discussion, like the Centralia mine fire of homophobia.

I don’t know if Bryant is dead, yet, but I’m definitely not. On peacehacks.com I gingerly offered my two nickels (inflation) on a post by Mark in which he had suggested his fellow Christians should get with the program and stop vilifying the caravan of Central American desperate and poor. (“Heaven is a gated community!” one gentleman offered; I didn’t check to see if he worked for ReMax or was offering time-share.)

Mark responded to my comment in a way that made me feel completely right and even appreciated for having participated. Later in the day I noticed that he had visited my blog and commented in his turn. Within minutes, I’d received his friendly invitation to write an article for his blog. You can see the results online.

So, pay attention to others and they’ll pay attention to you. I know it seems like desperately uncongenial work, filling in for people’s laziness in not completely re-ordering the universe to put you at the centre.

But it’s all we have.

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» Read my essay on grace, compassion and the power of non-judgment, “Pivot Chords,” on peacehacks.com

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Global warming: Real but “not existential?” Seriously?

Even worse than the deniers? “Experts” who downplay the crisis.


Mexico Beach, Florida, showing destruction by Hurricane Michael
Credit: David Goldman/AP

Dear Scientific Expert:

you have scientific cred like nobody’s business, yet you get all rolly-eyed on climate change. That’s what I don’t get. As far as I understand, and I understand maybe slightly more than the average bear, there is near complete consensus in the relevant scientific community about global warming and the urgent need to address this before it’s later than the too-late it already is.

Yes, agreed, climate is not inherently stable in that it undergoes macro-level shifts over time. I get that. And yes, those who, as Noam Chomsky pointed out, have an independent income and/or the chops to spend their entire lives uncovering the truth, should question what we read in the papers. Good luck with that one. (Though I do seem to recall that the New York Times, more relevant to me than Canada’s The Globe and Mail — I like my news first-hand — has been pretty clear on the consensus that we’re in big trouble. I don’t recall much hesitation along those lines.)

Notwithstanding all that, I don’t share your jolly optimism about how we averted a scheduled programming, ice-age catastrophe by creating a we-interrupt-your-scheduled-programming polar ice-cap melting catastrophe. Your comment reminds me of a Trumpism — and I’m sorry, I don’t mean that to be quite as insulting as it inevitably turns out to be because of it being, you know, Trump — along the lines of “gee, it’s pretty darn cold today, so much for the fake global warming hysteria promulgated by Democrats!” Or friends I hear saying, “Thank god for global warming, now I get to wear my Speedos in Toronto in February.” Or Reagan’s “If you’ve seen one giant sequoia, you’ve seen ’em all.” You get my drift: The pin-headed, narcissistic benefit or one’s agreeably devil-may-care attitude to life does not outweigh or negate the reality of the actual disaster.

The pin-headed, narcissistic benefit [from climate change] or one’s agreeably devil-may-care attitude to life does not outweigh or negate the reality of the actual disaster.

If the conservative spectrum would stop, yes, denying the fact of anthropogenic global warming due to the hothouse effects of greenhouse gases, largely produced since the industrial revolution and now in overdrive, then it wouldn’t have to be “politicized.” (It’s analogous to “identity politics.” Stop discriminating against me on the basis of my identity, and we won’t need the identity politics. Kind of thing?). Like, not just questioning the data. Destroying the data, reams of data. Denying as in “this is not happening, it’s a hoax.” That very word, “hoax.” Do YOU think global warming is a hoax? Clearly not. How can that NOT become politicized, and who’s politicizing it?

Your reasoning leaves me rolling MY eyes. (Maybe we should get an act together? No, I guess not.) Yes, in theory there is triage to be done. There are indeed umpteen worrisome things, from nanobots setting up training camps in our blood vessels to whether pin-headed narcissist Elon Musk will crash his spaceship into a nuclear facility, but that doesn’t change the fact that seas are going to be rising and the situation is projected to look pretty dire by about 2050. I’ll be ninety-five then, though I won’t look it, and I’d like to visit Fort Lauderdale in my bath chair, attended by disco-boys wearing silver hot pants and not much else, before it turns into the underwater theme park of Disney’s dreams, or the final scene of “A.I.”.

The thing about not knowing, forgive me for reminding you, is that you don’t know. Also, you don’t know what you don’t know. I can imagine any number of scenarios arising from higher sea levels that are pretty darn existential. You see, I somehow feel that mass migrations of hundreds of thousands of hysterical, hungry, homeless Americans, and Canadians for that matter, from the coasts when the giant tide rolls in, or the fallback from Category 6 hurricanes— yes, 6, they don’t quite exist yet, but they’re projected for next September; these are mega-hurricanes that will level everything in their path like a smart bomb — I suspect this will not be a little thing in a country with crumbling infrastructure, no real health care, a whole lot of guns and a FEMA that is barely functional. How many troops will you have to call out then, and where will the wall be and will the cyber attack on the internet be far behind? I don’t believe that you can’t imagine this just as easily as I can.

I guess, in the end, two things. Your scientific cred plus your dismissive attitude makes the word “agenda” pop up in my mind like a scary clown out of a scary clown box; and secondly, your dismissal of the dire situation we are in, existential or no, is irresponsible, in that it is likely to be condensed in those politicized minds to, “See? A science guy and he says it’s not important. Let’s get the second Hummer.” Yet another voice added to the “hoaxers” and the deniers, whether you intended that or not; and more obfuscation of those very people you are already so impatient with who just don’t get it, and more confusion added to all those media outlets who fail to explain so that average joes can understand the way you understand.

And every qualified voice like, I assume, yours, that adds to that negative drag on this task we needed to have begun twenty years ago weighs about one tonne more than any given voice added to the scientific consensus that we must begin. 

It all adds up to some pretty politicized pooh-poohing, if you ask me.

“Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver …” {Holiday Special, Part I:- I’m Dreaming of a Whitey Christmas}

xmas tree2Very merry happy holidays. It’s the fag-end of

2017, the annus horribilis that saw me narrowly escaping eviction from my home;

Brought my first, and, I guarantee, my last, summons in the name of Her Majesty The Queen to Estreat Court (a special royal garden party, but without the fruity hats and crustless sandwiches, for those who’ve put up bail for their loser friends—only to have the loser friends break their conditions of bail, leaving them at large, and us, their hapless gaolers, in the Superior Court of Justice, undergoing public humiliation for our idiocy in believing that anything would change, ever);

And, naturally, or my name ain’t Murgatroyd McGraw, continued my death-by-roommate via a graduating class of seven new specimens so feckless, so untruthful, so institutionalized in their freaky, senseless behavior and coddled pre-teen expectations, that it’s either a case of

a.  I have the world’s worst bad judgement, or

b.  I’m the problem and should probably move out.

(It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve thought: maybe it’s ME. Or, as expressed by the last roommate, who—having been taken on in order to help me pay the rent on time, never paid the rent on time, then absconded on November 3rd having paid no rent—texted me and said:

“Stop blaming everyone else for your problems”.

You know, and can I just say, seriously.  I’m NOT blaming him or anyone for my problems, which are as the stars in the heavens, so numberless they be. I AM blaming him for HIS problem, which is not paying the rent on time.

Yes, no?)

Two thousand seventeen was the year of a whole new cast of fairy-tale characters, Germanic as genocide and grimmer than Grimm: der Führer des neuen amerikanischen Reiches, Herr TRUMPF and his gnädige Frau Melania; and, as the corresponding Shakespearean low-comedy couple, though it’s hard to see how much lower you could get: Wicked Killary, who eats dead babies for tea in her root cellar, naked, seated on a pile of moist, yellowing e-mails; and Obama Satanica, black as coals at midnight, who fucks the babies to death for her with his scaly, forked devil-dick.

I ask you. Could anything be more plausible?  Now, eat your spinach or they’re coming to get you.

It was the year when Truth raised its fuzzy little newborn head, took one look at the orange glow emanating from the Oval Office and died in its cot, and when the real news was more unreal than the fake; a year when child molestors ran cheerfully for office while every third male in the civilized world was unmasked as nothing more than a small, unruly penis dragging along an eight-armed sociopath; and the year, though it feels so very much longer, when Bernie Sanders flailed his arms a lot and blamed everyone else for his problems.

(Hint to Bernie:  It’s your fucking dandruff, you deal with it.)

Meanwhile it’s cold as fuddle-duddle in Toronto, North Korea keeps saying “war”, with the same unnerving conviction as a two-year-old calling everyone “dada”, and it’s our first white Christmas in a few years.

For the White House, it’s the first Whitey Christmas in a while, too; because, hallelujah, Trump has reinstated Christmas, snatched the twenty-fifth December—originally, I believe, a pagan solstice celebration—from the dark, heathen hands of Hussein and “Mike”.allanGardensSnow

Infidels!

Don’t bother to point out that the Obamas had a Christmas tree, offered Christmas good wishes and Christmas prayers and all the Christmas trimmings every year for eight years, with no interruption.  The Facebook commenters are adamant:  “It’s so good to see a Christmas tree in the White House again!”

Every fucking one of them.  It is astonishing, and not a little frightening, to see a bunch of people so convinced against all evidence to the contrary—real, tangible, watch it, listen to it, touch it evidence, on video, on the net, in print—of a complete lie.

Even, presumably, the guy who gushed:  “It’s so wonderful to see the Negativity Scene [sic] in our nation’s capital again!”

You couldn’t make shit like that up.

~

White Christmas.  Genuine, ankle-to-knee-deep snow,

howling Wuthering Heights wind at night, at sunrise snow-silence and at the horizon a veil of pink and blue.

People don’t like snow any more, because it’s inconvenient, it requires work, it slows you down.  They don’t get snow:  snow on pine trees, snowmen, snow angels, packin’ snow for Roberston Davies’ snowball fights; and fluffy, fresh snow like icy down, each flake, yes it’s true, every single billionth one a different, perfect crystal.

They don’t get winter: Have they never heard tree branches glazed with thick transparent ice creaking like tall ships in the wind, never squinted in pain from the diamond ferocity of light reflecting off a kajillion flakes piled high as a nine-year-old, never tried to open the front door in the morning to find snow has drifted two-thirds of the way up and felt that anarchic, school’s-cancelled joy?

People die in the snow.  That’s also true.

As a child, you awaken one morning, maybe in November, to ethereal silence and silvery light: snow, you think, with a little thrill, and you rush to the window to confirm your prediction, see the cherry tree by moonlight cast indigo shadows on steel-blue drifts. It takes an hour to get dressed for school, in the semi-dark, and your mother makes porridge—oatmeal or Red River or Cream of Wheat—and you walk to school like a plump little Michelin man, you walk to school by yourself, and at lunch time you come home and have Campbell’s tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

They don’t get winter, any more than they get that you don’t eat turkey at Easter or asparagus in December, or that you don’t need “rapid oatmeal” made in the microwave which takes the same time as cooking it on the stove, but less attention and care;

They don’t get that you don’t respond to an invitation to dinner with, “I don’t know, what are you making?” (It’s not about “dinner”, lughead, and I’m not McDonald’s; it’s about spending time with each other, but the concept of “other” doesn’t register with you, and your mind immediately goes to: “what’s in this for me?”);

They don’t get that you don’t respond to “Thank you” with the rejoinder “no praaaahblem!”

My long-suffering friends reading this can go powder their noses, but if you’ve just arrived: Can I tell you my praaaahblem with “no praaaaahblem“?

I say to you, “Thank you.” I’ve offered something to you: acknowledgement that you’ve made an effort, perhaps even a small sacrifice, for my comfort.  Graciousness.

You say to me, “You’re welcome.”  You’ve offered something back to me:  “What I did was not a burden, it was a pleasure.”  Graciousness back, “you” and “you”.  A circle of grace, each person focused on the other.

But say to me, “No praaaaahblem!!” and the circle does not complete.  “It was no problem [for ME”].  It was not a problem, to do what I did.  So you got lucky this time.  But what I did has nothing to do with you.  Maybe someday – it will be a problem, so watch yourself, Murgatroyd.”

~

The primary Canadian personality trait is fortitude.

We don’t expect leadership by default, universal deference, or prizes for the biggest, tallest, best.  We don’t expect the world to jump at our command or dance to our tune.

We expect to survive.

The oldest of us, which would include me these days, know that the rhythms of nature are tsunamis that, indifferent to our preposterous schedules and self-importance, erase human certainty.

With one good blast of snow, one nostril-searing sniff of icy air, one three-hour traffic jam, cancelled flight or broken ankle, you are permanently relieved of

the touching belief that everything is about you.

~