Saturday, May 21, 2005

Balance Off

There's so much
to worry about
and so many reasons not
to worry at all
This is what
my struggle's about
is that every time I try
to balance these things
I fall

It's good to stretch
before each game
but every time I stretch
I feel so much pain
and when it comes
time to play
my body tries to tell me
to be serious again


It's good to plan
well in advance
if you're having people over
to celebrate and dance
There's lots of time
he says to me
and I'll come when I'm coming
if I'm going to be free
the space is booked
and the time
but I've got no guestlist
at the scene of the crime


It's good to know
just what you want from life
so you can fill your days
doing all the things you like
and when you're through
you'll know you didn't waste
your one opportunity
to smell touch and taste
and as you choke
on the phlegm of all you've done
you'll know your coronary
is a sign that you've won


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Thursday, May 19, 2005

on pop culture

2 pop culture observations from my morning commute:

1. Saw an add on the outside of a bus for a new Russel Crow movie, Cinderella Man. The tagline was something like "when America was on its knees, he brought the nation to its feet." He plays a boxer, apparently from back when white American boxers won heavyweight titles. I don't know anything about this movie, but I do like boxing movies. Interesting how Hollywood has to go back so far to find a real American (white) hero though. Interesting also that it didn't take long for blacks, once allowed to box against whites, to take over the sport in the US. It's a sport for the toughest of the tough, and the toughest usually come from the most desperate. Boxing, even way back when, gave hope for a reasonable living and an alternative to grueling union-less labour for America's early white immigrants. But no group was more desperate, oppressed, impoverished, than black Americans.

2. 'I'm Coming Up', by Pink, is a kickass song. And every time a woman sings a kickass song, that is about neither love nor just being an (awshucks) girl, and it becomes a hit, people talk about how it empowers girls and demonstrates how far women has come. But it's not a feminist song. It's not about women's lib. It's just about freedom; it's about the same thing as '5-o'clock World' (by Dave Clark 5?), that feeling of having met all your crappy obligations n responsibilities, and you're free to party. Whether that means watching a ballgame and downing a sixpack, playing with the kids, a euchre tournament with the smiths, or heading to the bovine sex club to score punked out chicksndudes, it's freedom baby. And in this world we only get to be free about 5% of the time, so it's well worth singing about. Thanks, Pink!


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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

the colour of their skin

Just listening to a CBC story on Latin American politics, with a focus on race relations.

There was a bit on a group of bronze-skinned radicals with the goal of "eliminating the inferior white conquering race." Scary, and not just for us white folks. They use an Incan symbol; Hitler's Nazis used an ancient Buddhist icon. They've copied so many Nazi stylings in their anti-Aryan guerilla war. But they're just the same as Nazis in that they blame all their problems on a 'race' of people, blinding out more relevant class, political, and systemic issues.

I recently read a novel called 'After Dachau' by Daniel Quinn, set thousands of years in a future that might exist had the Nazis won. The scary part of the novel was that it was so completely un-1984. It was just like the world we have now, with rich ruling poor and the latter in the majority, the minor in dead-end jobs designed to perpetuate the status quo, and EVERYONE in denial. The only-est difference was that everyone was white, because everyone else had been killed off in the centuries following WWII. Much as you don't see many indigenous people in a lot of the first world anymore.

If you base your revolution on race, or any kind of hate for other, you end up with the same old shit, and it all lands on the people at the bottom, whatever their colour.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Urban Culture

Urban Culture: Like black culture, but safe for white people.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005


leftover pictures rearranged anachronilogically
timequaking fragments of memories of anarchy
mixed metaphors broken symbols forgotten etimology
cropping here clipping there heart breaking chronically
throwing away the blurry bits incorrect anatomically
keeping the best ones significant or happily
the rare moments of magic where worry wasn't drowning me
and it was all you and you and you and me
whoever you was in that moment in time you see
the you's change depending which second you split most quickly
and the frequency gets faster with increased intensity
a hyperbolic curve swings round and surrounds me
until i'm drowning in a swirling sea of memories
collided combined in out of focus imagery
and with all my will i can land where i wanna be
it's a trick that i learned after the first time you hurt me
that's the first you whoever that was that first crushed me
if i crop it just right and discard the wrong leads
i can finally experience bliss perpetually
(as long as i remember to do so randomly)
except for that gnawing grating thought that plagues me:
what if one of these images is supposed to tell me
how the hell a guy like me lives his life properly?


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Friday, May 13, 2005

Dear Reader

What's uncomfortable is this: I work, quite hard, to change the system I'm part of. The specific system I'm speaking of is an employment system that tends to be quite exclusive to non-whites, and certainly to those born outside of Canada, and to aboriginal people born in Canada, and to other groups of people each facing unique challenges/barriers. My work is focused on making the work we (environmental professionals) do more accessible to more people, and it's very hard work. What is uncomfortable is that whatever gains I make for a few individuals I work with, does little to change the flawed system that created the problem to begin with. I'm certainly well aware of this, and live with that knowledge daily as I work for small gains and do what I must to pay the bills and put food on the table.

The first time I had such a revelation was in 1996 after reading a book called Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. He speaks of two worldviews/ways of living: the Leaver worldview and the Taker worldview. One, ours, is based on dominion, ownership, hierarchy, and consumption, the other using and surviving as part of the web of life. He also talks a lot about our tendancy to rationalize our Taker/Linear way of life. (See if you want more information on his work.)

What is missing is a manual that tells us how to escape the Taker way, because even those of us who start to see things differently, to understand that a different way exists, can't seem to figure out how to get it, how to break out of our linear/Taker model, because as much as we want to, everyone around is working that way. This is very frustrating, even when we have the same goals as those around us, because we see the ultimate futility in their/our efforts as long as we keep playing by the same old rules.

But ultimately, I've gone back to my same old, good but ultimately not good enough work/way of working, and I imagine the same is true for most if not all the people who have read Ishmael, even those most profoundly affected by the book.

How do we escape this way of living, that is destroying us all?

I know that the answers aren't yours, you nor any other single person's, to give, but it is certainly a question I struggle with.


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Monday, May 09, 2005

Sweet Sweatshop Gig

I just heard on the radio news that some California IT company is out-sourcing its labour to cheaper sources off-shore. Nothing new there, right? The twist is that they will have these South Asian IT guys floating in a boat just off the coast of California. This way they don't have to deal with pesky American worker visas, yet the labour pool is kept close enough to minimize transportation costs for the company execs and trainers.

The guy they interviewed said something along the lines of, "It's not a bad situation for them at all - they get to work on a luxury cruise boat. For a plugged in, young IT person, this is what is known as a 'sweet gig'." For sure! If you're into that whole sweatshop thing. They closed the story with a quick footnote about how these guys will be working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 4 months at a time. Sweeeeeet.


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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Save Darfur

Is it just me or is a tad arrogant for a bunch of Canadian musicians to get together and have a concert called 'save Darfur'? how you gonna save a place you never been, only recently heard of, and know very little about? By playing raggae.

Possibly even more arrogant, not surprisingly, is US Congress, which has officially called the happenings in Darfur genocide. Now it matters.


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Friday, May 06, 2005

Me and Prine, baby

Check out the lyrics to this new John Prine song, Crazy as a Loon, and then the lyrics to Isolation, which I wrote in 2001. Is it just me or is there a certain similarity there? I'm gonna ring Johnny up and see if he wants another co-writer:

Crazy As A Loon
© John Prine & Pat McLaughlin

Back before I was a movie star
Straight off of the farm
I had a picture of another man's wife
Tattooed on my arm
With a pack of Camel cigarettes
In the sleeve of my tee shirt
I'm headin' out to Hollywood
Just to have my feelings hurt

That town will make you crazy
Just give it a little time
You'll be walking 'round in circles
Down at Hollywood and Vine
You'll be waitin' on a phone call
At the wrong end of a broom
Yes, that town'll make you crazy
Crazy as a loon

So, I headed down to Nashville
To become a country star
Every night you'd find me hangin'
At every honky-tonk and bar
Pretty soon I met a woman
Pretty soon she done me wrong
Pretty soon my life got sadder
Than any country song

That town will make you crazy
Just give it a little time
You'll be walking 'round in circles
Lookin' for that country rhyme
You'll be waitin' on a phone call
At the wrong end of a broom
Yea, that town'll make you crazy
Crazy as a loon

So, I gathered up my savvy
Bought myself a business suit
I headed up to New York City
Where a man can make some loot
I got hired Monday morning
Downsized that afternoon
Overcome with grief that evening
Now I'm crazy as a loon

So I'm up here in the north woods
Just staring at a lake
Wondering just exactly how much
They think a man can take
I eat fish to pass the time away
'Neath this blue Canadian moon
This old world has made me crazy
Crazy as a loon
Lord, this world will make you crazy
Crazy as a loon

Isolation - the human condition
February 12, 2005

Went into the Cit-y
Escaped from the trees
away from the lions
chasing me

Bought me a robot
to fix me drinks
so I could sit on my porch
and do nothing but think

Planes overhead
through clouds of smog
shut the factory down
No more jobs

Homeless for miles
but the coal still burns
Bums on the freeway
amphetamine turns

Get me out of here
Can't take it no more

Get me out of here
Garbage on the rat-race floor

Went back to the farmland
put the tractor in gear
Tilled my fields
until they were clear

Cut down the trees
for my fireplace
Looked in the mirror
at a stranger's face

Worked the good earth
fought the pests to death

Grew me some veggies
but the flowers sold best

Lonely worked the land for years
Lonely now there's nothin' left

Get me out of here
Can't take it no more
Get me out of here
Life is a series of chores

Went into the forest
back to the trees
Prayed for redemption
on fragile knees

Walked through woods
lived on berries and leaves
Wandered forever
alone with me

Went stark raving mad
Fought with myself
for seven years
Living in hell

Surrounded by beauty
Nothing to do
No one to share
What would you do?

Get me out of here
Can't take it no more
Get me out of here
I'm just too bored

Went into the city
Escaped from the trees

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

disturbing defence

So this 22 year old Sargeant who is being charged in the Abu Graib prison abuses is pleading guilty to putting a leash on the prisoners, stripping them naked, deriding their genitals, marching them around on the leash, and making them form a naked pyramid together. Her defence attorny is alleging that she can't be held fully accountable because she has a learning disability.

That explains all those urges I had to anally rape my Iraqi classmates when I was a child. Must have been a learning disability. Thank god I made it through grade school or who knows what I'd have done.


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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

phd's in anthropolitics

is there a field called antrhopolitics? if there is i would like a phd in that please. my reading list of late has bounced back and forth between books based loosely on anthropology and books based loosely on politics. what they have in common is their tendency to chip away at my faith in humanity.

I just started reading 'short history of progress' by Ronald Wright. It's based on his recent lectures at Massey Hall. There is a whole great series of lectures at Massey Hall turned into books, produced in part by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Anansi books. I love this series because the go after really big questions like, as science informs us more and more about the questions that used to torture and inspire great artists, where does spirituality fit in? What a brilliant question. [Douglas Adams used to remind me that though our answers may be sound, humans tend to ask the wrong questions.]

Here are some gems from the Ronald Wright book (and I'm only on page 43):

"we are running 21st century software on hardware last upgraded 50,000 years ago or more [the human brain]. This may explain quite a lot of what we see in the news."

"the Upper Palaeolithic period, which may well have begun in genocide, ended with an all-you-can-kill wildlife barbeque. The perfection of hunting spelled the end of hunting as a way of life. Easy meat meant more babies. More babies meant more hunters. More hunters, sooner or later, meant less game. Most of the great human migrations across the world at this time must have been driven by want, as we bankrupted the land with our moveable feasts."

"Some of their [Cro-Magnons] descendants - the hunter-gatherer societies that have survived into recent times - would learn in the school of hard knocks to restrain themselves. But the rest of us found a new way to raise the stakes: that great change known to hindsight as the Farming or Neolithic "Revolution."

"Like the accumulation of small changes that separated us from the other grat apes, the Farming Revolution was an unconscious experiment, too gradual for its initiators to be aware of it, let alone to foresee where it would lead."

"Highly important, for what it tells us about ourselves, is that there was not one revolution but many. One every continent except Australia, farming experiments began soon after the regime of the ice released its grip."


The only bummer of this book is that, having heard the final Massey lecture on CBC radio, I know he's going to end it by telling me that we need to consume less and stop being so damn domineering, and civilization will then run properly. This advice never seems to amount to much. Nobody seems to listen. Probably because each of us suspects that if s/he changes his/her ways, no one else will, and then look, you've gone and made yourself a freak of society for nothing.


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