Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Life's a Beach: A Summer Portrait EXCERPT #2

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

-The Metamorphosis


In the summer of 2012 I found myself freshly unemployed and hemorrhaging my meager savings at an alarming rate.            
Up until then I had been living a good version of the Canadian Dream: a decent apartment on Bloor St. in Toronto (okay, Etobicoke) working nine to five in Mississauga at a soul emulsifying office sales job, but if that’s what it takes keep beer in the fridge, so be it. There was something building inside me for quite some time; a difficult to define life urge to switch paths, almost like I was powerless over it. I could not keep the façade going any longer and a crash was imminent, though I tried to fight it and trudge through everyday telling myself I had it so good and I would be crazy to leave. It was getting harder and harder to hide my unhappiness beneath a façade of normalcy. One day, of a will not wholly my own, I snapped. Nothing in particular happened. I wasn’t in danger of losing my job. It was a regular day, but a switch had been flicked and there was no way to unflick it.
            The five G’s in my bank looked like a fortune, taunting me to cut the cord. I left my job without a plan for the future. I figured the money would afford me enough time so that I wouldn’t have to drastically change my T.O. bachelor lifestyle for a few months, until I landed another gig somewhere.
            Of course, though, I wasn’t looking for a job. I was busy getting drunk and stoned, playing guitar, reading books, watching movies, listening to music and radio shows. Any form of entertainment/art/noise to fill my time and burn the bridge to the real world.
            Most days I spent alone in my apartment. The radio shows and podcasts kept the seedy theatre of my mind open all the time. Silence was the enemy. External silence meant internal screaming.
It wasn’t total anarchy, though. I had rules. I wouldn’t allow myself to crack the first beer before noon. I figured it seemed normal enough to begin drinking in the afternoon. If you drink in the morning you most definitely have a problem. The afternoon? Come on! That’s when everyone drinks! It’s practically the evening.
            Does it matter if you drink four or five pints every day what time you start drinking them? Whether you have eggs for breakfast or eggs for dinner, you’re still eating eggs, are you not? Some days I’d look up at my digital clock and it would read, cruelly, 11:56am. There aren’t any minutes that go by slower than the next few. But then, sure enough, the last minute number in the sequence would faithfully turn into a 9, the sun would be high up in the sky, a gentle breeze fluttering my drapes, and my internal bartender would towel off  a pint glass and pour me a cold one no questions asked. Is there anything more satisfying than watching all six numbers on a digital clock change at the same time? The four larger numbers and the two smaller number’s all go boom!
            Every day was like New Year’s Eve at noon.
            The money in the bank was magic. Number’s on a screen. I swiped my cobalt blue Bank Of Montreal card into all manner of bank and debit machines around my neighbourhood and poof! I had what I wanted. Money only became real when I couldn’t pay next month’s rent. I pushed the real world away until finally it could take no more and began to push back.
            I didn’t know what else to do except move back in with my parents. I was thankful to even have that card in my hand to play. Not to say that my parents’ love and hospitality are cards, they’re human beings, my flesh and blood. There’s nothing worse than seeing your mom and dad, both well into their sixties, do manual labour in the middle of summer--lugging out coffee tables, boxes and chairs, huffing and puffing, taking multiple breaks to stretch their aching backs, sweat pooling through their shirts. My wonderful parents are being worked like donkeys and the whole cause of this ignominy is me and my inability to swallow hard and maintain the semblance of an independent life. I’m still trying to worm my way out of the cold, wet shame blanket on that one.
            For the duration of the summer until the following spring 2013, I continued on, unemployed, living in my parent’s basement, a depressed wastrel trying to figure out how to figure out how to put it all back together. How should a person be? What did I want to do with my life? Such difficult questions to navigate while sober, never mind soused to the eyeballs!
            I had a couple interviews at full-time, career oriented jobs but didn’t get a call back. Secretly, I was afraid. These jobs seemed like so much work and I just wanted a vacation from life, to retreat into a subterranean drug and alcohol coma. I worked hard for the last seven odd years. I played the game of life and now I wanted to cash out. As a man with the faculties to appreciate the finer things in life, I only wanted to be left alone to luxuriate in aesthetic leisure. So I started applying to part time, low-hanging fruit shit jobs, the ones an ever growing number of Canadians are taking to make ends meet. Eventually I landed one as a--wait for it--  
            --Drum roll, please--
            A security guard.
            Technically, I wasn’t even a bona fide security guard, I was a customer service representative. No qualifications necessary! The company that hired me, Stillwater, had three main properties that required multiple on-site guards to ward off teenage interlopers. I quickly found out on any given night visitors staying at the beach get so drunk, it was as if I was the only human amongst the walking dead.
            This is a snapshot, a portrait if you will, of the summer of 2013 through the lens of a man trying to keep the devil way down in the hole. 

June 2nd 2013

P-A-R-T-Y is the only show in town and it sells out every night. 

Tonight the party is at full tilt. The Party Meter has been turned up a notch because it’s this batches last night in town. And in Wasaga Beach that means pouring some hammer drinks, cueing up a Two Chainz album on the old iPod stereo, and commencing obliteration.
            Dozens of passersby and friends of friends of friends were trying to get on to Stillwater property with either no wristband, or wristbands from neighbouring properties, which is strictly verboten. Alexei, a nineteen-year-old from Barrie by way of Belarus, and myself plugged the holes on our front; we did all we could to stop the heathens from crashing the party but there’s always more just around the corner. While my attention is taken up with kicking off a couple twerps, a few more sneak in behind my back. An untold number of enemy soldiers breached our positions and were now inside the wire--possibly even hiding out in rooms.
            It was a tense evening.
            This role as a sergeant in the Party Police is not something I’m even remotely familiar with. I’m used to being a fellow reveler. I’ve been that guy at innumerable parties. The guy who runs down the street naked, or pees in his own mouth and gargles with it. What can I say? Alcohol and cocaine bring out the bon vivant in me.
            It is a rite for young people all over Canada in the summer, a nihilist credo: party until you can’t remember who you are on the “Longest stretch of freshwater beach in the world.” This place is a paradise on Earth, the type of which promised to suicide bombers after they hit the switch.
            In Wasaga, you don’t need faith.
A prom celebration has occupied all twelve rooms at the Bayside Motel. The joint is a typical, one story motel except that the largest room is setup like a three bedroom apartment and sleeps ten. The other eleven hold five.
            The kids are from the same school, the same group of friends and acquaintances all graduating from high school and celebrating this milestone in their lives. I arrive at 7pm for my shift and the fifty or so kids are starting to get hammered. Forgive me if I’m a little nervous. I’m not used to being in wild party conditions with random teenagers whom I don‘t know, while in a position of authority, and while sober. 
            There is a little person among the hordes of revelers and someone in a green tank top and sunglasses tells me he’s the president of student council. I can believe it. This wasn’t a woe-is-me type of little person. The guy is a mover and a shaker; clearly popular with everyone. He moves in and out of the clusters of cliques with grace and aplomb. He is not marginalized or bullied as far as I can tell. Quite the opposite, actually, he appears to be one of the apex predators in his high school food chain. By ten pm he’s heavily intoxicated. A pretty blonde girl in bikini bottoms and a tight pink halter top sidles up to me and shakes a twenty-sixer of Grey Goose with only a swill or two left and says with a lilt, “He drank all of this.”
            Little people don’t run like we do. They hobble-wobble along like penguins. Christopher was no different--except that he was perhaps more akin to a baby penguin just learning to walk, for in his intoxicated state he was face planting every ten feet. It’s so stupid and cliché and LCD, but drunken midgets are funny. They just are. I’m telling you, if you were there to see four friends carrying Christopher around the motel while he splayed his stubby little arms out stiff like an airplane and made a puttering, prop engine sound, you’d laugh--simple as that. It reminds me of the W.C. Fields quote: “If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make a comedian laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.”
In Wasaga, subtlety does not exist; you go all the way or you go home.
            Once Christopher landed, he began stammering around like the town fool and it came to my attention that he lost his pair of $250 sunglasses. Sunglasses and phones are lost/stolen on an almost nightly basis. I watched as he futilely scoured the sandy patches of grass. He was in the throes of a drunken rage, the kind one gets locked inside when you lose a personal item and can’t think of anything else until you find it, accusing friends and strangers alike of possessing the lost item. Upon seeing my tucked in, buttoned up shirt, complete with crisp collar, epaulets, and radio clipped to my hip, thought I’d be more help than his hopeless friends, and he drunkenly implored me to help him. I whipped out my flashlight and turned my head upside down to check the underside of all the parked cars. No luck. I felt bad. I wish I could have been the hero who found the glasses, it would have given me instant hero status, but it was not to be.  
            Thirty minutes later and Christopher’s barely conscious, too drunk to give a fuck about anything let alone his beloved glasses. The guys are taking turns hoisting him above their heads like the Stanley Cup, pumping him up and down. He comes to long enough to give a halfhearted thumbs-up and the crowd cheers, then goes limp again.
An hour later the boss man, Gary, radios and yells at me to run into room four. He saw a kid on one of the cameras weasel his way in through a back window and was hiding inside. The door to room four  was ajar so I walked right in. The lights were on and the room was empty except for the bathroom door--it was closed. I knocked and said, “Dude, you gotta come out, you’re not allowed to be here.” There was a brief silence. For all I knew I was talking to no one, but the door clicked and out came a meek, pimply faced kid with Bieber bangs. “Sorry, sor--”
            “Just get the fuck outta here,” I said.
I walked outside and Gary hollers at me to check room five, too.
I knock on the door and say “Security” before letting myself in, flashlight cocked and beaming the white hot light of justice. Five guests were huddled around the kitchenette table in the semidarkness laughing at something I couldn’t see. More or less ignored, I bypassed them and proceeded into the back bedroom. I flipped over an inflatable mattress leaning suspiciously against the wall at a seventy five degree angle, half expecting to see some boozed up scallywag take off running like a frazzled deer. There was no one under the inflatable mattress. I breathed a sigh of relief and went back into the main room.
            There was Christopher, still barely conscious and now handcuffed to both a chair and a leg of the table with a belt, trying to wriggle himself free. The five kids stood around and laughed. I joined in, too, at the absurdity of the scene, of life, of everything. I got a degree from a reputable university to do this with my life?
They weren’t mock-torturing Christopher in a vicious way, or else I would have put a stop to it. They were doing what most teenagers do: fuck with the drunkest of the lot. Last night Christopher was indistinguishable from the others, just a face in the crowd. But tonight he was drunk as fuck and thus ripe to have his eyebrows shaved, or mustard squirted on his face, or cuffed to the chair and table. Even Christopher was laughing about it, his eyes lolling about in their sockets.   
It’s fucking Wasaga, bitch!
Another guard, Zach, asked me for a cigarette. Zach was a short, yoked up twenty-two year old fitness nut with spiky blonde hair. He was a good looking club going type who looked like Kurt Cobain on steroids.
Acting on some anonymous tip filtered through multiple people, Zach and myself plowed into another room, number eight, our flashlights on, little spotlights roving around the darkened cabin. I didn’t see anyone hiding; only a couple of passed out teens in an otherwise quiet room. Then Zach made the international ‘Shhhhh’ sign with his index finger in front of his mouth, and with one sweeping arc yanked the sheets off the bed, like turning over a large rock to see what disgusting insects were crawling underneath. On one side of the bed a girl slept peacefully in an oversized t-shirt, and on the other lay a fully clothed guy with baseball hat and shoes still on.
I was having an out-of-body experience. Like my body had been hijacked and plopped down in the middle of an episode of Cops in some god-fearing heartland city like Amarillo, Texas. Unlike a cross-dressing, black crackhead plying her trade in the deserted, industrial warehouse part of town, our perp was a straight, white male who gave up peacefully. Zach and myself, the two hotshot guards, escorted him off the property and chucked him back into the arms of the night.
It was tonight, at this early juncture in my tenure, that I introduced into the House of Commons and quickly ratified into federal law, effective immediately, the Taylor Tax.  
After being repeatedly asked to unlock doors because the temporary citizen of Stillwater drunkenly left the keys inside or the key holder was not present, so I felt the need to balance out the relationship--I was doing all the damn work and not getting anything in return. I began telling the young man or woman that, “If I’m going to unlock your door, the price is one shot of vodka, okay?”
            The first thing you learn is that they always say yes; they’re thrilled to be drinking with the security guard. It’s another layer in the onion of their wet-and-wild, out-of-control, beach-living experience.
            “Hey dude,” they brag to their friends, “I gave the security guy a shot!”
            My little scheme was a win-win deal. Not only do I get a swig or two of free liquor, it’s the only way I can safely take a drink away from Sauron’s prying eye.
            “The toilet’s working just fine now,” I say to the guest, walking out the door with a wink and a smile.
            What a piece of shit I am. The moment I see where all the cameras are, I think, “How can I get away from their gaze if I want to do something against the rules?” I’m a terrible employee and will probably never be hired for anything ever again, unless there’s a company with a position for a truth-telling rebel who plays by his own rules.  
From 3am to 6am I found myself back at Cottage Court, the crown jewel in the Stillwater dynasty. The detached cottages and semi-detached townhouses dot the gently sloped land above the banks of the Nottawasaga River, adjacent to the locally famous bridge that leads directly to the strip. It’s a prime cut of real estate. On some nights there are hundreds of drunken teens and twentysomethings floating by. The streets turn into an absolute madhouse feasting on lawlessness. Their behaviour is typical of middle class teenagers from around the GTA, relishing a few days of new found freedom, but up close and personal it’s nothing short of astonishing. There are drunken, aggro marauders, and emotionally flabbergasted punks, all with terrible tattoos that I endlessly wince over because they’re only eighteen, man, and ‘O’Rourke’ in elegant calligraphic across the expanse of an otherwise unblemished back is skin pollution. I just want to slap half these kids--and I would, if only half of them couldn’t slap me back two times harder. 
             From 3am to 6am it was remarkably quiet. A few guests were sitting on their cottage porches, peacefully stoned and staring in silence at nothing in particular. When I’m nervous I can’t shut up, spouting out every possible thing all at once to push the relationship over the precipice of that awkward, jittery, just getting to know you phase. I force the natural progression of things into friendship overdrive. Things don’t always work out so well. Brianna may be talking and I have to tell myself listen, listen, don’t talk, listen, listen, don’t talk, shut your mouth, don’t talk, listen, listen, shut your mouth, don’t talk.
I regaled Zach, Brianna and the chirping birds with bad jokes and silly stories. Zach is twenty one and Brianna is twenty five, so I am the de facto elder statesman of the group at thirty two. These kids haven’t heard some of my generations’ most worn out clichéd phrases, and I seemed smart and funny rehashing them for fresh ears. Phrases like, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” when discussing extremism, though I was quick to throw in examples refuting this point. They were supremely impressed by that one. People love a good sound bite.
Then I asked, “What do Catholic Priests and Red Bull have in common?”
            “What?” they said in unison.
            “They both come in little cans.”
            I let it sink in and we all broke out laughing. A success!
            I did imitations of Mike Tyson (I’ll fuck you ‘till you love me, faggot!), a random guy from Chicago (Deep dish pizzer), a random guy from Boston (Pahk da cah in da harbah yahd), and George Bush The First (He’s a Hitler), all of which Zach and Brianna seemed to enjoy. It was a real hoot. We laughed like fools the way you do when totally exhausted during a long sleepover, giggling over every dumb comment.
            We talked of documentary movies, growing marijuana, and getting away from our families. At 5:20 Zach could not stay awake any longer and laid his forehead down upon his upturned flashlight. Brianna and I sat mostly in silence, each of us smoking a cigarette. Five am to six am is indeed the most solipsistic hour on planet earth. The streets are deserted and it’s just the two of us waiting for the world to wake up, like we are the only two people in on the secret. Was I complaining about this job earlier? I take it back. Shit, I’d be the CEO of hanging out and smoking cigarettes with Brianna.  
It’s shaping up to be a wet hot Canadian summer. 
Gary has one of the largest, most rotund bellies I’ve ever seen on a human being. He is so obese and portly, he, too, waddles like our friend Christopher, only on a grander scale. Gary’s got the kind of gut that hangs out underneath his shirt. The kind of gut that begs for familial intervention with personal letters read aloud detailing how Gary’s gut has impacted their lives. But no, his heft lurches on unchallenged and I stand before its wrecking-ball mercy.
            He’s the kind of guy who, in his mid-forties, likes dissecting teenage women’s asses out loud and ad nauseum, and pilfering as much free deep fried food as he can from the folks on the strip. Gary is so uncouth and rude, aggressive and confrontational, I don’t imagine he’s too well liked by many of the locals. In fact, I’m slowly learning from some business owners that they think he’s a dumb ass, too. His gut, though. I mean, wow! Did he eat a beach ball, or what?! It’s so mathematically round.
Say what you want about a direct, selfish and aggressive man like Gary, and I’ll say a lot, but you want him around when a rowdy group starts misbehaving. I’m built like Woody Allen after a hotdogs and pushups binge, not intimidating upon sight, so Gary gave me the inevitable heart-to-heart about what it takes to be a real deal security guard.
I was lectured for half an hour in the back office, standing at the altar of the motherboard—a dozen small squares on one large monitor that he can click on and enlarge to full screen, showing almost every nook and cranny of the four Stillwater properties. Gary pointed at various boxes, told me to stand here and do this; patrol over there and do that.
“Watch Al,” he said.
Al is a guy in his fifties with a weathered face and a white, handlebar mustache that always looks as though it should have been trimmed two weeks ago. He’s been working at Stillwater for an incredible thirteen years. In the midst of a chaotic party situation, Mike keeps a Zen-like attitude, never loses his cool, and seems to know what these kids are going to do before they do it. He’s been to more wild parties than you or I ever will. To him, these social expressions of collective human joy have become something else entirely, something antithetical to joy. 
            “If that commie Alexander gets attacked,” Gary continued, “you have to have his back and be willing to bust some heads!”
I tried to put forth my best busting heads face, instead I bit my lower lip, simultaneously telling myself to stop biting my lower lip. I kept saying, “Yeah, I hear you,” or “Yeah, I hear you, boss.” I babbled some more rote bullshit straight out of the first edition of Subhuman Worker Scum to appease him, and then went back to my post between cottages seven and eight at Cottage Court. I paced the curbside. I was a curbside pacer nonpareil. But I couldn’t quell the anger. Who was Gary to tell me I was inept and couldn’t handle a situation? I spent many years handling the situation How dare that fat bastard humiliate and talk down to me! Fuck him! I don’t need this! Take this job and shove it!
I wanted to go postal--
Canada Postal.
Oh, relax, relax. I wouldn’t do that. There’s no way I’m letting some rabid, out-of-control OPP-K9 monster maim my face, or more importantly, one of my digits. These digits are national treasures you slobbery fool!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Excerpt from "Life's A Beach: A Summer Portrait"

The following is an excerpt from Life's a Beach, a comedic memoir to be released later in 2014 of my time spent as a security guard for a resort in Wasaga Beach, ON during the summer of 2013. Names have been changed to protect identities because those involved have no idea of their involvement. Except mine, of course.

Aug 12th, 2013

For summer, it’s a cold and windy day. The sun ducks in and out of a series of evenly spaced clouds. I am patrolling the front of Cottage Court with purpose, though there isn’t much of one. Walking east the hands are in the pocket. Walking west they’re crossed. It’s midday and our guests are relatively sober, which is a euphemism for ‘not completely out of control drunk.’

I’m the only slice of law on the land.

My radio crackles to life and Gary yells at me to tell the people in cottage thirteen, the one down by the docks, to move their cars back up the hill to the where they should be parked.

I stride down into the guest’s inner space, where girls in bikinis are playing beer pong on a fold out table and guys are swaying to the electro dance beats with alcoholic energy drinks in their hands. They all look at me as I say in a Southern U.S. accent: “Okay. Who’s the most sober person here? Because we got to move some vee-hickles.” They laugh politely.

I have watched way too many episodes of Cops.

These kids seem friendly and they have fun pointing around at one another until the two most capable drivers are officially decided on. Some of those who come to the beach are paranoid to high hell about driving drunk and some could give a shit, flaunting it around like urban daredevils. These folks are in the prior camp.

Thirty minutes later, two of them get into a pickup truck. The same one that was moved from the dock. It‘s a nice ride. A menacing steel beast, high off the ground with large shimmering rims. This baby was well maintained with tender love and care. I stood my guard at the mouth of the street, right by the famous blue bridge, glancing at the two men, careful not to stare in their direction for too long. Hard drug users are like skittish doe’s and will flee at the first sign of danger. They were sitting there, commiserating, with seemingly no intention of driving anywhere. That’s a red flag. My throat went dry. I could sense drug activity and I continued to watch them discretely. I patiently stood there with my hands in my pockets, waiting for the move: The Lean Down. It’s a dead giveaway. If any one of the occupants bend over at the waist as if they dropped a cell phone and then pop right back up, something’s going on.

I decide to make contact. They eye me with a cup of suspicion and a teaspoonful of fear as I sidle up to the passenger side window where the black guy is sitting and tap the window ever so gently. I have a mega-wattage, ear-to-ear smile plastered on my face to show them I come in peace. The window electronically lowers itself halfway. It’s a  social scenario that I’m all too familiar with this summer: disarming strangers sniffing drugs so that they know I’m on their side, despite my position of authority. If I feel like they’re holding out, then I’ll threaten them with eviction, their safety deposit be damned.

I’m the Bad Lieutenant of Wasaga Beach, bitch!

“Don’t worry, guys. It’s all good,” I say through a toothy smile. The passenger and I were now face to face--he was a young black man with unnatural looking forest green contacts, like an extra straight out of Spring Breakers.

“Hey, guys, don’t worry,” I reiterated, “I don’t care what you’re doing, I‘m with you all the way,” I said. With you all the way. Ugh. What a dumb thing to say. The longer this summer drags on while I break the rules with impunity, the sloppier I get with the guests. Once you go too far down a hole, there ain’t no way to get out on your own. I don’t care what I say to them anymore. They’re not even real. Tomorrow they’ll be gone and it’ll be some other group of ne’er-do-wells in ironic t-shirts and barely there bikinis.  

My life is the opposite of a touring musician--I simply stay put--yet very similar in the endless revolving door of characters coming and going each night. Everyone you meet will eventually disappear, they just disappear a lot faster in Wasaga.

I was hemorrhaging what little trust these two guys had in me to begin with. The dark haired, olive skinned driver with spiky hair leans over to get a better look at me. like a Panicky Pete, the words tumble out of my mouth, a will all of their own: “Do you guys have any blow?” I was so excited,  thinking I’ll for sure get a line or a pill of MDMA. I was in the grips of the Pavlovian high before the high--crazy anticipatory neurological shit was going on in my brain that only someone like Gabor Mate could explain. My heart’s thumping and I’m about to open the back door or either jump through the passenger side window and maul these freaks. There is nothing but this moment. I don’t care that I’m thirty-one and I live in my parents’ basement, that I have no practical aspirations for a better life. That I’m hopelessly broken in some way because I only want whatever the fuck just went into old Green Eyes’ face. That everything will be better once it goes into my brain. This is for all the marbles, the key to unlock the door to enlightenment.

My heart sinks into my shoes when Green Eyes tells me they just did the last of their MDMA.

Liar whore, liar whore, and you know it!

The three of us collectively sigh. The junkie’s lament.

My premature high comes prematurely.

“Do you know where to get any coke? We ran out last night,” the white guy says, turning the tables on me.

I am asked to procure cocaine for Edgewater guests, as you might expect, and sadly I always disappoint. I honestly don’t know where to get any. Take me to Brampton and I can get it from five different guys but my coke radar is not attuned to any Wasaga Beach frequencies. I’m no fabled importer like Mickey Munday.

“There’s tons of it around, I just don’t know where it is,” I say forlornly. “It’s an elusive fish that won‘t take the bait.”

                                                                       * * *

I can’t score any blow in this two-bit town, but I do have a great marijuana connection--even if I don’t know the guy’s phone number. The only way to make contact is to knock on his door.

He never told me why I can’t call him and I never asked why.

In an illicit business that now almost exclusively relies on cell phones for logistics, it’s a throwback to drive up to your dealer’s house to score, hoping and praying someone is on the other side of the door.

Our lives are now pre-arranged. It’s getting tougher and tougher to disappear into oblivion with these honing devices in our pocket at all times.

Tommy’s his name. He’s an old craggily half native, half white guy with a long grey ponytail and a roadmap of hard living etched on his face. Tommy had the prototypical bulbous red nose. Old tattoos dotted his arms, so blue and faded that I couldn’t even make a single one out. He’s lived in the beach for the last fifteen years.

Tommy, in his twilight years, is a nice enough, laid back guy who doesn’t seem to do work of any kind. At any hour, he’s either at home or the bar. He’s the kind of guy you immediately sense has seen a few cells and eviction notices in his day.

When I am low on marijuana and need to shell out the forty bucks required for a half-quarter, I drive the two kilometres to Tommy’s place in the hopes that he’s home. He lives on the top floor of an old white house on a side street adjacent to the madness of Mosley Street. You have to climb an old rickety set of white stairs to his front door that bows and squeaks even with my 155lbs frame on it.

Tommy has a system. If the padlock is unlocked, dangling from its hasp, then knock away. If Tommy’s not home the door is padlocked, but there may be any number of succinct messages scrawled in black marker on a piece of square cardboard and placed in one of the doors’ small window frames. It may say, “Back at 11am,” or “At the bar,” in which case you know where to find him: around the corner at Studs Lonigan. The most dreaded message of all is the “X” which means there‘s no stock left. There‘s always a gut-wrenching moment of truth when I climb the stairs. Sometimes the lock is unhinged and I can hear a soccer game on TV, but my high spirits are quashed by the sinister “X”. I turn around and skulk down the stairs back to my running car with no pep in my step, back to the basement. Back to analyzing every little thing to figure out how I ended up here.

One time I was so desperate to score, I knocked on Tommy’s door anyways, even with the “X” in the window. I needed answers. A time frame. Anything. For all I knew he just got a fresh load delivered and was in his bedroom chopping the weed up and putting it in Ziploc bags, moments away from removing the “X”.

Tommy, though quite a short man, came stomping towards the door like an elephant and split apart a couple strands of his dollar-store blinds to take a look at the fool who dared knock with the “X” in the window, which communicated perfectly the simple- as-shit message to understand that he was out of marijuana. I could hear him muttering obscenities and braced for a confrontation. The door swung open and before I could explain he said, “Didn’t you see the X?!”

“Yeah, Tommy, I saw the X. I can’t even get a dime? A joint? I‘m dying here.”

“No! Didn‘t you see the X!”

“Okay, well, do you think maybe tomorrow?” I said, cupping my hand to make sure he heard me as the door closed in my face.

“I don’t know,” he said, yelling “Maybe!” through the closed door.

I walked down the stairs with the worst feeling ever. Tommy’s big, cute fluffy black cat, Betty, meowed curiously at me. I always gave her a good pet down before and after leaving.

“Piss off Betty!” I said to her, getting in my car, muttering obscenities.

                                                                     * * *

I went over to Tommy’s to buy a half-quarter and asked him if he had anything else. Pills, powder, anything. He didn’t. Doesn’t mess around with the coke or opiates anymore. Only drinks tons of Canadian and puffs the occasional joint, but as a younger man he was a devoted hard drug user.

An Arsenal game played in the background; the crowd was so big they sounded like white noise. Tommy told me about how way back when, he cooked up a speedball in a strip joint and promptly OD’d. It was the lounge in back of the club where the girls wound down before and after their shifts. For Tommy it was a regular hangout where he mainly shot dope and sold it to the seedy denizens in and around the club. When Tommy spoke of needles he always referred to them as spikes.

“Some of my friends were strippers and some of my friends were junkies,” he said, “and some of my friends were strippers and junkies. Haw haw!”

As it became clear that Tommy was OD’ing, the three strippers in the lounge who were on break ran to his aid, lugging him into the bathtub, running the bath alternately cold and hot, trying to jerry-rig his system back to life. The first three girls left to go dance and hustle and the other three girls took over, storming in, kicking off their vertiginous stiletto’s and getting down to the business of nursing Tommy back to life.

When he finally came to, whichever three strippers were in the lounge fed him bowls of chicken noodle soup and cans of ginger ale with a brand new straw for each can,  until he finally gained his strength back and subsequently made a full recovery--to pounding alcohol down his gullet. The whole ordeal in the stripper ER lasted two and a half harrowing days.

Tommy pauses to slug down the rest of his can of Canadian, it takes a good ten seconds of glugging and slurping. The clock above the window says 10:52am. How uncouth! I don’t have my first drink until at least after 12pm.

He also recounted the time was drinking and smoking a lot of heroin with some buddies in Nova Scotia twenty years ago. He had successfully kicked shooting and switched to smoking. We take our successes where we can find them.

A Hurricane roared through, one of the biggest ever to hit the province. It had an ugly, forboding alliterative name: Hurricane Hortense. Tommy explained that when he smoked heroin, he’d put it on the tinfoil, plug one nostril, and with a straw inhale the smoke through the other one like a line of coke, not through his mouth the way most people do it. “It gets to your brain faster,” he said in a gruff voice. My nose crinkled at the thought of inhaling smoke through one of my nostrils and my eyes began to water.

“So we’re in the rented house smoking dope up our noses, and I walk outside at night to get a pack of smokes from my truck and right in front of me I see this white stallion galloping into the woods. The wind was howling. I was so fucked up I thought it was a ghost! Ha-ha! We all nodded off and then once I woke up the next day and walked outside the barn next door was gone, and all the trees were broken in two like matchsticks. That’s when I realized it must have been a big storm.

For the rest of the day I couldn’t get the image out of my head of a white horse running through the woods during a hurricane, maybe even flying.

“We just loaded up our clothes and shit and took off in the truck, which had a cracked to shit windshield from the storm, back to Ontario without paying the rent cause the whole place took a lot of damage while we were fucked up. That goddamn hurricane saved us a lot of money we didn’t have, haw haw!”

Aug 18th 2013

This weekend the town hosts the annual event: Wasaga Under Siege--A War of 1812 Experience.

Schooners with large wooden masts recreate a battle during the war between Britain and America that took place right here in the Nottawasaga River.

In 1812, America and Britain were like two parents during an acrimonious divorce, fighting bitterly over custody of their young weak child, not out of concern for the child’s well being so much as for the possession of the offspring to consolidate power.

Essentially, Canada’s starring role in this historic war was mainly that of the battleground.

Lots of families and history buffs come out to watch and listen to the thunderous booms of the canons. Relax folks, they’re blanks! It’s fake violence, like fake porn. So bring the whole family!

Re-enactor’s are dressed impeccably in stuffy early 19th century war uniforms and they are all sweating profusely in the unrelenting August humidity. The soldiers balance muskets against their shoulders and pass nervously by the turnt up kids. The whole scene is full of non-stop cringe inducing moments of pity for the imitator war vets. These guys can’t pass a group of people dressed in twenty first century clothes without being made fun of and laughed at derisively. I felt sorry for the anachronistic warriors.

There’s not really much to the whole Experience--only a few old schooners and the occasional boom that echoes across the whole town. This weekend, Wasaga is a smorgasbord of 1812 war vets, drunken teens in the latest wigger wear, families, and old folks with Lego person hairdos. For the whole weekend the town is a George Saunders story come to life.

The actual battle that the Experience re-enactment is based on left me bemused. I am left scratching my head as to why it is being commemorated. I was always under the assumption that it was a glorious battle between the British and Americans, with some rogue battalion of scallywag Canadians stepping in to help the Brits win some penultimate battle. Maybe we were outmanned and outgunned, but through sheer maple syrup moxie we managed to defeat the Americans, their Yankee blood colouring (coloUring!) the southern shores of Georgian Bay a deep red, their guts sloshing around right in front of where the night club Bananas now stands.

No, it was nothing like that at all.

The re-enactment takes place in the narrow Nottawasaga River, where the sunken hull of Nancy, the centrepiece (centre!) of the battle lays after being bombarded by the American ships that were in nearby Georgian Bay. Nancy was a big fish in a little pond. Easy pickings for the Americans safely anchored a short distance away. The half sunken hull is now called Nancy Island and is a main tourist attraction in Wasaga. I’ve never been.

As the story goes, back in 1812 some American troops wandering through the woods essentially found Nancy hiding in the Nottawasaga, lying in wait to ambush or at the very least hide from the Americans docked nearby in the bay. There was only a thin strip of land separating the river from the bay--perhaps half a kilometre. The troops scurried back undetected to the U.S. ships with the good news and shortly thereafter the solitary schooner with an unimposing girl’s name was hammered with canons. Rather than let the Americans take custody of the ship, Lieutenant Worsley made preparations to burn the bitch and get the fuck out of Dodge (Dodge being the forests south of the river that are now a pleasant patch of suburbs). Before this last ditch effort came to fruition, Nancy took a direct hit on the blockhouse and started burning. Totally and utterly destroyed, her charred guts sank to the bottom of the Nottawasaga, only the prow jutting out of the shallow waters. The surviving troops scampered off into the trees. Thankfully the Americans didn’t pursue to finish off the job.

This is the battle thousands come to Wasaga Beach to celebrate? To honour with Canadian pride? I don’t really know. Nancy Island is symbolic of what? Being discovered by the enemy, being cannon-balled into oblivion, and then fleeing into the forest hoping the enemy does not follow? It’s goddamn embarrassing is what it is. And I’m a proud Canadian. Why are we re-enacting this horrendous abomination every year?

Think of Mel Gibson’s speech in Braveheart. It’s inspirational. One gets national pride goose-bumps. The Scots are defending their homeland from invasion by the more formidable English army. Sadly, nowadays, if I catch that scene on TV it’s like Mel Gibson is about to charge the HJA (Hollywood Jew Army). Hordes of writers are in the front lines with flimsy spears, like oversized pencils, while the scions of Hollywood sit back on their horses smoking cigars.

Did Lt. Worsley give a similar speech before abandoning the ship in the river? Before the troops fled into the trees, their plan sabotaged, outwitted by the Americans?

They can sink our schooner, but they can‘t sink our LEGS! . . . Which will now run into the woods!

Yes, Canada. We stand on guard for thee.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Undiscovered City: Binge Ninja

Go to: www.bingeninja.bandcamp.com for all Binge Ninja music and video links.

Author’s note: an asterisk (*) functions as a footnote because footnotes are not possible with this website.


Naturally, being a huge metropolis with endless suburbs, a place where concrete is the national flower and creative humans are left with nothing much else to do except experiment in their basements and apartments, especially in the frigid winter months, Toronto has a dearth of unique and eccentric artists. It’s the law of averages.

One of them is Binge Ninja and the band’s most recent project: a twenty song music video collection. Yes, each of the twenty songs have an accompanying music video to go with it.

Sound familiar?

Unless Beyonce spent some recent time downing pints in Parkdale pubs, it’s doubtful she has any idea who Binge Ninja is. I mean, how could the lady? Her time is filled with private jets, arena shows, Jay-Z, performing for dictators, and raising a young child, Blue Ivy.*

A few months before she released seventeen songs with accompanying music videos in late 2013--with no warning or media hype (the cynic in me thinks that type of move is essentially a stunt for someone of her popularity because it will draw media attention, )--Toronto’s own Binge Ninja beat the multi-talented hip-shaker to the punch and released a collection of twenty video-songs--also with no warning or media hype, but that‘s because there is no other way to do it. A few downtown shows and--Pow!--a twenty sack of Southern Ontario Gothic.

The bulk of the twenty music videos are comprised of songs from the album, The Dead Artisan, The New Artist (Self-Destruction For Re-Invention) with the other eight videos coming from a collaborative album, Kissing At Summer Camp with another fine local artist, The First Seed. The BN & TFS songs are like dropping napalm bombs on sonic boundaries. It’s visceral electronic noise that eschews conventional song structure and traditional singing. There’s a lot of “Fuck You” qualities to it. Fuck a three minute song with a sing-along chorus, sweet Beach Boys type harmonies,** and a seamless fade out. Been there, done that. Bo-ring. The fractious nature of the songs, the dissonant, atonal noises*** mirror an internal chaos, and the search for something new.

These songs comes from pain, anger, they lash out at you. It’s damn near impossible to walk away from any of the videos and songs with a “Meh--it was okay, I ‘sppose,” type attitude. It’s confronting and in-your-face. Outright hostility. BN & TFS sound like Atari Teenage Riot raping a boardroom full of plutocrats. They smash what it is to even have expectations about what a musical group should sound like.

Though BN’s twenty videos are a staggering feat--as is Beyonce’s, clearly--a collaborative vision seen through to completion, the songs that comprise Binge Ninja’s TDA, TNA (S-DFR-I) is the best stuff. The songs are eclectic and well written. Binge Ninja is such an enigmatic, difficult band to pin down, and that’s alrightwith me; I like it. Why do most go down the lonely side road of a specific genre? Fear, inability, loss of money? BN expertly genre-wanders through pop, punk rock and flat out screaming noise. But who fucking cares about these tired reference points? As Billy Joel says, “It’s still rock and roll to me.” Don't bother much with the pundits' classification systems.

It’s so tiring to see the same old artists doing the same old song and dance. Evolve already! Do something truly new and innovative instead of the same old bland lyrics and formulaic song structure. Break loose! You are free, my song bird! That’s how BN makes me feel. They are free to roam and take the listener along on sonic journeys. Take a camera, some instruments, and make some magic--that is what an artisan does, after all: use their hands to create. And BN weaves an intricate, multi-coloured tapestry.

Now, there aren’t any ooey-gooey love songs to gush over on TDA, TNA (S-DFR-I). Disintegration and death are everywhere. Obliteration. The lies and emptiness of our deadweight, pointless mass consumerist lives, and failed relationships. Throw in some drug/alcohol abuse to numb the pain, too. It’s dark shit, but the world isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. It feels like an exorcism when you're done listening, a purging of the person you once were.

Actually, I’m starting a cover band called Purge Ninja.

Maybe it’s just the fourteen year old girl in me, but I am partial to the softer songs. I’m a sap for a nice falsetto voice and catchy chords like on The Bends era Radiohead and the latter half of Silverchair‘s output. I’m talking specifically about Fire Into The Dark, one of the best songs on the album.**** I find myself singing that one in the shower or while washing the dishes, as well as Why Do it Over?, another softer song.

That’s not to say that the distorted, screaming anthemic punk songs for the disturbed like One More Binge and Big Black Lies aren’t pulling their weight. Those ones are awesome, too. The videos, for the twenty songs are very DIY. They’re shaky, filmed on the streets of Toronto and the GTA with hand held cameras, but they’re gritty and edited together meticulously. Big Black Lies is all flash cut animation showing sketches and phrases whereas in Murdered, the band members are individually dressed up as Jokers-esque characters performing in the snow.

Where you won't see any of Binge Ninja's twenty music videos is MuchMusic. Fuck MuchMusic in the ass, anyways. There was some decent programming on the channel when I was sitting on the couch, stoned after school in the ‘90‘s. I can’t even imagine what kind of slop is on that sorry excuse for a channel nowadays; I fear a panic attack if I dared tune in. Perhaps I’m way off base because I don’t watch MuchMusic anymore, but I’d venture a guess that the station mirrors which current popular music makes the most money, like it always has. But because it’s harder and harder to make money creating and performing music, the only profitable choices are now, more than ever, of the lowest common denominator variety--dumbed down, highly sexualized, shameless, and douche-chillingly bad to appeal to as many ears and eyeballs as possible. That is where the double-edged sword of the internet steps in.***** Like all independent bands, Binge Ninja occupies a tiny corner of the world wide web, and like a far away star it distantly shines in the vast darkness. If you focus your telescope  just so, you can barely make it out. But it is there to see, at night, in your midnight hour.

Maybe Binge Ninja wouldn’t appreciate the comparison, but the band remind me in some ways of the late great Lou Reed (albeit with a wider vocal range). The way the music is so varied, occasionally leaking into darkly catchy pop songs, but only allowing a few on the album at most, preferring to indulge in other songs that are more intense, more difficult to penetrate. Both Binge and Lou have that genuine, this is what I’m doing and I don’t give a fuck what you think edge to their music. They don’t follow trends or buy into cheap thrills or endlessly simple chords, or smarmy, buttery lyrics.

A great writer once said, “Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comforted.” The same sentiment applies to Binge Ninja. Beyonce? Not so much.


                                                                             .  .  .


*Which, if you didn’t know, is Lucifer’s daughter’s name spelled backwards in Latin, and Ivy also quite possibly being an acronym for “Illuminati’s Very Youngest.”

**Chill out, I’m a big fan.

***Binge Ninja uses so many oddly shaped, atonal, off-kilter chords, when playing live the fingers of his left hand are often splayed, doing acrobatic splits, and dancing across the fret board like a spider freshly nailed with a spray of Raid! BN may be allergic to a simple E or C chord most of the time--but it works, and the melodies are there, clear, and nuanced.

****I’m aware that this is like being a Radiohead fan saying Creep is their favourite song, it’s the attention grabbing catchier pop tune that 'real' fans deride and only casual fans would favour, but it’s true, and say what you will, I'm not going to lie about it--Fire Into The Dark is my favourite, I don’t know what else to tell you.

*****Double-edged because the internet can both giveth and taketh away from artists. On the one hand, it provides a platform, a vehicle to expose yourself to a potentially vast audience for little to no cost, yet on the other hand, because nearly everyone has the same communistic chance to unleash their music on the masses, there is a white noise, near impossible to rise above. The irony here being that now, in our hyper-technologically advanced times where mass distribution is only a click away and high-tech recording equipment is at the tip of anyone's aspiring fingertips, it is now no easier to become successful than it was back when the only way to get an album made was a sprinkle of talent, a cigar chomping exec, and a dash of luck.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My iMistress's Sparrow Is Dead

This Anthony Weiner guy has a problem. Not exactly the one he's portrayed to have by the media,  though there is some overlap. Anthony Weiner is a dreamer. When it comes to sex, he prefers the method that he can control most efficiently, and which is also convenient and can be done from the safety of his house or a hotel room or what have you: physically alone, digitally together.
Just keeps it all up here (author taps his left temple). Sex, for the most part, is not something that a physical act for Weiner, it’s a fantasy, very private, to be enjoyed by him alone in his own mind. Hey, as a man, no one knows how better to reach climax than when you’re tugging your own turgid rod. I imagine the same goes for women. What do I know? This is how Weiner wants it. The guy doesnt even have flesh intercourse with Sydney Leathers--his iMistress--in person, the way a regular powerful male, who has his pick of attractive available women would.

Imagine youre the prospective mayor of the largest and most powerful city in America and you dont even reach out to physically touch one of your mistresses. A relationship over the course of months is maintained yet there is no face time. Never. You only want to have the mistress talk dirty to you while you yank on your prick. Hell, it only takes a few minutes to pop off and then you just want to get back to pressing mayoral business. Some men only want to have a relationship that is mediated by the distance of technology. Its a fantastical voyage, where everything is safely on the outside and out of reach. Personal connections are right where you want them to be: at arms length.

Weiner never consummates his lust, even though thats all the guy does is talk about having sex when he’s speaking or texting to Miss Leathers, how he wants to cum deep insider her, or on her feet, or on her tits, and not to mention the constant ‘dictures’ he sends her.

Not many can sculpt a genitalia shot like Weiner. He’s the Orson Welles of dick pics. He takes the picture from below the penis, so when one opens the file to view it for the first time, you feel subservient, looking up at this looming beast.

Weiner needs constant reassurance and ego-stroking. A powerful man in control--thats Anthony Weiner. And dont you forget it! There’s also an element of head-scratching absurdity when one considers the nom de plume Weiner employs to disguise his alter ego: Carlos Danger. To me, the vaguely Quixotic/Zorro undertones hint at some long lost childhood love from a far away place; a hero of his youth, perhaps. Come on-- where did he come up with that one? What a fucking goof.

According to Sydney Leathers, who was delightfully eloquent compared to most other high profile mistresses, in the absolutely enthralling Howard Stern interview on Tuesday, July 30th, she claimed that Weiner never even mentioned or commented to her about the name. She assumed it was implicit and only reasonable that this powerful New York politician would use a pseudonym when compulsively engaging in teenage boy level emails and texts. Weiner just screams immaturity in the personal realm. He calls this supposedly young alluring sexpot, who, lets be honest is kind of a beast--in mayoral terms--and frantically tugs his cut Jew cock in three to five minutes tops and splurts his ectoplasmic seed into his bellybutton, filling it like a kiddie jism pool, then awkwardly ends the conversation and gets back to the business of politicking. Does that sound like a forty eight year old man vying to run New York City?

I, baby, am Carlos Danger.

The iMistress herself.

Ultimately, his juvenile sexual behaviour is the symptom of an addiction, a compulsion, an its-just-never-fucking-enough type of non-stop feeling. It manifests itself in a myriad of ways. For example, me, I like to get high and drink and think about it all the time even when Im not doing anything, when Im reading a book or eating lunch, I cant stop thinking about how good it will be when that bong hits my lips and that sweet smoke shoots deep into my lungs, so deep I think where does it all even go in there? And how great that pint of Molson M will be. Well, how great that fourth one will be, once Im already juiced up and stoned. Then try not to repeat for as long as possible. So I can laugh at Weiners problems, but I feel for the guy on some level. Aren’t we all prisoners to our unruly desires? I can also identify with Weiner, as can many men I suspect, in that who fucking cares anymore about working for a relationship? Can’t I just pull up YouPorn.com and jerk off, be done in five minutes, and not have to deal with all the jabbering and rotten smelling vaginas and in-laws, and comprimised ME time, and human contact? I know, it’s all so narcissistic and misogynistic. I am a broken man, what can I say? I dream of the perfect woman, where we cuddle up at night and our days are filled with love. At some point in the fantasy, reality's gaping maw of doom always creeps in through the cracks, and doubtless we’ll end up being snippy with each other and we'll long for the days when we weren’t so responsible for each others’ happiness and well being. And to think my parents have been married for thirty nine years! 

Real love is scary and when it happens we aren’t in control of our emotions the way we’d prefer. It’s like waterskiing and the boat is being driven by a maniac; can be potentially thrilling, the ride of a life, but can also cause you to drown, or at the very least get a nasty rope burn.

Why Mr. Weiner clearly cannot and will not be mayor of NYC isn’t so much about his sexual preferences, it’s about his colossal lack of judgement. This is NYC politics; a goddamn boiler room! People are watching watching watching! The minute you fuck up, someone’s right there to ask you about it.

Personally, as simply another John Q. Citizen, I want my politicians to be automatons for the people, monk-like in their devotion to giving over their lives to public service. I don’t want a mayor who smokes crack or compulsively sext’s women because that is time he should be spending to make life better for the billions of dumbfounded dip shits. And everyone knows--not that this is nowhere--but that when you hear of some dubious politician smoking crack or sending out cock pictures, it’s not like they’re doing that here and there, only sprinkling it in after a hard days night work. Perhaps once or twice a month. Fuck no! They’re doing that kind of nonsense ALL THE TIME! Or holding themselves back, peering over the precipice, thinking about doing it ALL THE TIME!

I should know. If you snap a photo of me taking a bong rip, you can be damn sure it wasn’t the exception to the rule; certainly not a special occasion. So what is the solution once the cat is out of the bag? Witness the recent multiple sexual harassment allegations against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner: Press conference apologies and the humble accepting of wrongdoings, and a guarantee to process the shame and guilt in the manner deemed appropriate by professionals. Then whisked away to a two week behavioural therapy course (two weeks!?) to correct the sexually inappropriate conduct that is unbecoming of a public figure. Next stop: Curesville!

It's like giving an Advil to an AIDS patient.

"There's no need to step down as mayor, no no no, why do that?" He essentially says. "Those two weeks really did me good. I feel right as rain. I'm ready to NOT grab underling titties, and NOT lick the cheeks of buxom interns with my septuagenarian tongue, no siree!"

Many of Filner's accusers claim that he is a cheek licker. Gawd, imagine having to endure that slimy slug moving across your cheek, smelling like Polident and Psylium fiber. The cheek is a very private and sensitive area of a person's body. Even in jest, to lick a friend or lover's cheek, causes one to immediately pull away and wipe off with any available cloth, or the back of one's hand, the sheen of saliva streaming across the cheek. I find Filner much more despicable. These gals are saying he also hugs way too tight and for too long. This guy is a fucking nightmare. I can only imagine how many inside jokes there are between Bob's most trusted staff: "Hey guys, last night I was Filnering this broad's asshole with my hot yogurt." Or, when he's at a gas station: "Filner up!"

"How'd you like some cheek-licking and tight-hugging?" 

Some senior citizens emit a tender glow of warmth and friendliness; the years have bestowed wisdom and humility upon them. This Filner character, with his hangdog jowls and cold dead eyes, has about as much warmth to him as a serial rapist from Nunavut.

Weiner? Are you listening? Maybe New York isn’t the place for you. How can you say no to palm trees and agreeable weather all year round? Just think, you could be topless jogging along the pacific coast in the middle of January.

Following the lack of judgement theme: How could Weiner possibly think that Sydney would keep her yap shut? What child-like trust in a woman he has never even seen in the flesh. He probably has an encyclopaedic brain, can quote obscure law by rote, but his Amygdala just takes over at every twist down the road of life. Those damn fingers have a mind of their own!

Cynicism sinks in a little deeper the more I gnaw on it, I get to thinking that maybe Weiner is addicted to the attention, not feeling even an ounce of shame. And Huma, she’s known about his behaviour for years but she doesn’t care . . . this isn’t love, it’s success, it’s a New York power couple. That’s the deal. Fight enemies together? Well, sure. But only make love and be emotionally faithful to each other? Are you nuts!

Weiner’s so famous now, has so much juice, he doesn’t care that it’s because of his unruly internet sexcapades. Weiner loves the power. Even scandalous power can be parlayed into legitimate power. A couple years ago, Anythony Weiner running for mayor of NYC would be a total joke. He somehow, in between sexting the fuck out of various women, clawed his way back into the ring. I wonder, were his claws just that sharp or was the public just that soft.

Weiner doesn’t think like you and me--he’s on another level entirely. Yes-men and yes-women carry out his every whim. Common civilians on the street shake his hand enthusiastically--or not--and tell him they love what he’s doing for the city. He is some kind of god. He’ll subject his beautiful and smart Indian/Pakistani wife (a spicy combo indeed!) Huma, to a soul destroying, humiliating, career-defining press conference. Boy, her ‘I’m standing by my man during this difficult time’ speech didn’t have much gusto. I always think how odd it must be for those on the other side of the camera. We see them in high definition yet all they see in their moment of anguish are obscured humans, their shoulders propping up all manner of video equipment, some large syndicated networks cameras looking like they could fucking lobotimize you on the spot. Bright lights, flashing lights, square boxes, round boxes, just focused on you. Beaming you out to the world. All these prepared words you're saying, that sound nothing really like you, and it's like a play, or a movie, because that's where you say rehearsed lines as a character, but here we are and there are lines to to say yet there isn't supposed to be a character.

Weiner stood beside Huma and leered as stoically as he could while she said her peace, the pieces of her intimate life gutted and splayed for the world to see. How a heart wrenches! As a young girl, could she ever imagine that her future husband would be sexting as Carlos Danger? That this is what the sum of her carefully groomed and affluent life, her education, her political career as a successful aide to Hilary Clinton, who thinks of Huma as an “adopted daughter,” amounted to? She was this close to having it all, except that her hubby is a compulsive sexual dreamer.

Who knows, maybe Weiner, as he was gazing silently at his radiant wife and mother of his two children standing at the lectern, while she proclaimed her acceptance of her husband’s indiscretions and forgave him, was absent-mindedly greasing the gears and pre-texting with Sydney. Thinking about how he can’t wait until he finishes up with this shame inducing hoo-ha charade, and can steal a few moments away from aides and family to unlock his phone with the deft, second nature swipe of his thumb to write a quick horned-up message to Sydney Leathers, iMistress extraordinaire.

I’m getting all worked up just thinking about it!

Like a moth before there were light bulbs, what did Anthony Weiner do before cellphones?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Built Ford Tough, Like A Crack Rock

While powering my way through 4 digital kilometre’s on the elliptical machine (okay 3.64), I made the split second decision to pause Opie & Anthony and turn up the volume on the TV. See, what I do, what I need to do while cranking out fake mileage on a fine piece of modern day exercise equipment, going to and fro, holding onto the top of the bally knobs, simulating a walking briskly type motion, like a happy worker on his way to the job and is all sorts of tinkled pink about it, is be over stimulated. It really is a strange motion that elliptical machine. And because I’m addicted to stimulation and information and also because I cannot stand silence, like cannot accept it for even a nanosecond, there always has to be a radio or person or TV talking in the background or I’ll go insane. I always listen to either Howard Stern or Opie & Anthony on my iPod stereo and simultaneously tune in to either the CBC, CNN, hockey, or tennis--all muted of course.

Unless there is some kind of apocalyptic breaking news story the TV remains muted and I’m left to ruminate on what the expressions on the newscasters’ faces mean. Believe it or not, I’ve seen quite a few good tennis matches while suffering for beauty. I can get lost in a long rally, in the game within a game within a game nature of tennis and by the time I look at the digital display, 2km’s have been put pounded out. But enough about me.

The reason for pausing O&A is Rob Ford’s brother, Doug. The behind the scenes rainmaker. Doug is  the landlord and his brother Rob the sole tenant of a madhouse of their own creation. In a saner alternate world, the somewhat well spoken, somewhat in shape Doug would be the mayor, and goofy fat boy Rob would lick oversized swirly lollipops in his overalls.

It was one of the stranger press conferences I’ve seen in a while. Right off the bat, Doug wanted to be sure the great people of Toronto knew that he wasn’t “speaking for my brother, he can do that himself,” yet that was in essence what he was doing . . . speaking for his silent little bro. And then in a feat so bold and hubristic it boggles the noggin, Doug goes on to list the various accomplishments of the Ford administration and almost entirely ignores the specific issue at hand, and the supposed reason for the press conference being called in the first place: Rob Ford smoking crack on a cell phone video taken by Somali pirates drug dealers.

Now that’s a Hollywood pitch meeting as far as I can tell.

In Doug’s universe, this was simply an opportunity to remind the good citizens of Toronto that we have more cranes in the air than Chicago and Atlanta combined!

Well, okayyyy, but . . .

A hypothetical aside: Would you rather have a mayor who smokes the occasional crack rock but otherwise is firmly in line with policies you support, or a tee-totalling do-gooder with nary a whiff of scandal but is out of step with your beliefs? I’d sure as hell take the former though I’d rather take neither.

And then, impossibly, Doug ends the whole self-aggrandizing charade by not taking any questions and disappearing into the bowels of city hall. Take that Toronto! The whole thing gets very meta when you consider that Rob was most likely watching the speech that he should have been giving on a nearby TV.

The next day arrives and finally Rob has caved into the pressure and holds his own p.c. It was almost as bizarre as Doug’s speech. The spectacle played out pretty much the way I thought it would: Rob vehemently denies the crack allegations and goes on to praise the colleagues who have stood by him during this difficult week. There where more ‘thank-you’s’ than a goddamn Oscars speech.

Perhaps my favourite part was right at the beginning, when Rob first looked up at the throngs of reporters and cameras glaring back at him. “Wow . . .” he can be heard saying softly, as he adjusts the mic, as if he thought there would be one or two local reporters, as if the whole hullabaloo was much ado about nothing. After the ‘wow’ there is some inaudible mumbling before he gets down to his prepared speech; the mumbling of a very nervous man about to speak publicly.

What really troubles me, in a strictly logical sense, is that he denied smoking crack, yet in the following sentence could not comment about the purported video of him smoking crack. Does it not follow common sense air-tight, steel trap logic that when one denies smoking crack there would ipso facto be no video of any crack smoking?

His lawyers have told him to shut his trap, the less said the better. That’s the explanation for his wall of silence. It took a week of silence for him to tell Toronto in a single terse sentence that his legal/p.r. team advised him to not comment on the video? Why wasn’t that said on day one of #CrackGateTO?

If this crack smoking video did not exist, he would probably not be advised to say (or not say) anything about it while members of a salivating media exchange ponderous head shakes with one another. He would simply do what you or I would do when faced with an absurd, false allegation: jump at the first chance to defend yourself; set the record straight. Me smoking crack with some thug lifer’s filming me on an iPhone? Naw pal, got the wrong guy.

Rob spent most of his time at the lectern heaping his smelly, insincere ‘thank-you’s’ onto the very people and organizations that no longer want anything to do him. Mark Towhey, the mayor’s Chief of Staff, was fired for apparently trying to talk some sense into Rob, and the Catholic School Board of Toronto does not want him coaching any of their school football teams, namely Don Bosco, the school where he has been coaching those ‘fucking minorities’ for the last number of seasons. The football thing has to carry some extra sadness for Rob, like a favourite toy being taken away from an unruly child.

At the end of the p.c. Rob walks off the field, but not before laterally passing the pigskin to Doug, who would not take questions during his own p.c. yesterday but will now graciously answer a few questions from the frothing hordes for his brother Rob. He then spent half his Q&A time chastising the journo’s for talking over one another, asking questions while he was trying to answer. Diversion at its finest, or basest, who knows?

I can’t help but wonder what this past week has been like for the person(s) with the tape. Is there a secret team of police officers loyal to Ford Nation scouring Rexdale and Scarborough neighbourhoods looking for these guys? Is there a group of ruthless Quebecois wheelchair assassins hunting down Somali crack barons? Is Rob’s camp actively trying to buy and bury the tape? Come on, Rob must know who is responsible for it; sure as fuck isn’t Herzog or Coppola. He didn’t roll down his window and ask some random punks if they have any crack for sale, and “Oh by the way, I’m going to hang out with you kids for a little bit and have a couple puffs.” He must know these guys in some capacity. Perhaps Ford’s lawyers have gotten a hold of them and threatened some kind of legal (or illegal) action? Because there hasn’t been any sign from the owners of the tape for days.

Why disappear though? These people actively sought out buyers of this tape a week or so ago, meeting with John Cook, the editor at Gawker, and two Toronto Star reporters, and now that the $200,000 Gawker was raising is drifting into the realm of reality, they’ve disappeared. Poof! No more Somali crack dealers with the most valuable piece of iPhone footage north of the 49th parallel. What in the what?

Maybe other characters in the Trawwno underworld who are in the know are after the owners of the tape as well. By golly this whole scandal is like T.O. Confidential!

I think Rob Ford is gearing up and preparing for the bomb to go off. He knows this alleged video is legit, and it’s going to come out sooner rather than later. He’s not vociferously defending himself with regards to the crack tape because it will simply make him look that much worse when the video does come out. He does not want to explicitly lie about the video in a legal sense.

The clamour to get a hold of the tape is so intense you‘d think it was Infinite Jest . Are we all going to become comatose after being entertained to death, fluids spilling out of every orifice after we finally--hopefully--see this two minute crack masterpiece? (But John Cook and the two Star reporters are still alive and well. Hmm . . . )

I have a feeling it’s going to be that good. Think how awesome it will be the moment before you see the video, when your buddy texts you, “Have you seen the crack vid yet brah?” And you rush to the computer, anxiously waiting for the video to buffer on Gawker, or wherever in Hades it ends up only to spread like a super SARS Trojan virus across the internet.

Here comes the best crack toke of your life, better than even the first one. The lush burning bowl aglow with orange and crackling like a Victoria Day sparkler . . .

Exhale and press ‘play’.