Sunday, December 27, 2009

the American Decade (or how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb?)

As 2009 draws to a quiet close, I realize that this decade is also coming to an end. I don't know how to feel about that. So much has unfolded in this ten short years, it is almost anti climatic that it is over. What will we think when we look back on this decade? It held promise right from the start, having dodged that nasty y2k bug that some of us thought was going to cause humanity all kinds of problems, from commercial airliner crashes to the detonation of inter continental ballistic missiles. I was relieved to wake up on January 1st, 2000 to find all we had to struggle through was an intense hangover from the whiskey and the 90's.
I took ibuprophen for the hangover and more whiskey to try to rid myself of the effects of the 90's. Neither proved all that successful.
The new mallenium began with earnest. The top of the news seemed to be flooded with stories of Bush stealing the presidency, a rather new thing, it seemed, for a first world country, in fact, the purveyors of democracy itself, now plagued with election fraud. The newspaper stories coming out of Florida and Washington read like a story coming out of any small beleaguered African nation or anywhere else in the world where the people with the most guns ruled, not the people with the most votes. Surely, this was a bad dream. No, this was America, and this was you, joe public, losing faith by the second, in the democratic process and the very fabric which our collective free societies are sewn from. Indeed, this was a grave time. And stop calling me Shirley.
Then came the terror attacks of 9/11. License to shit on the whole planet. For years. Dark days. Violence unseen, at least in some time. The reaction was swift and calculated. Against the wrong country. Step aside, Saudi Arabia, we are going to blame the whole thing on a country we have already kicked around and manipulated for decades... Afghanistan!
And while the whole world shifts about uncomfortably, another country that has also been kicked around for decades, will become the new evil, the third partner in the axis of evil, in fact. Let's attack Iraq! In March, 2003, I watched with terror and defeat as the coalition of the willing bombed an already decimated country, into submission. What heroes those American soldiers were, kicking in those doors to root out the evil that lurked in the form of starving and frightened refugees.
And I can hear Toby Keith in the background, singing a new anthem of ignorance. Add nauseum.
It was at this point that I reached a new low of hatred and soon realized that we must not let these anti-intellectual, anti-democratic, anti-free thought retards take over the world, as they have done in the past, using fear tactics and public bullying to make the free speech crowd shut the hell up. Ie: Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Pol Pot's Cambodia, etc.
I think a lot of other people felt the same way and a quiet, passive peace movement began to take shape. It grew into a large quiet peace movement that began to demand the end to the insanity in Iraq and other countries where the hate was being fostered.
Comparisons to the Vietnam war were being made and many people were obviously uncomfortable about that. The typically lazy and self involved boomers even began to say something about this taxpayer fueled travesty of international justice.
There were already so many horrifying movies about the Vietnam war, would this generation have to withstand yet another Hollywood interpretation of a white house mistake that cost a generation? Kubrick is dead, who could we trust with such a story? Surely, not the state department. Not the CIA, the military! Not Coppola!
In the meantime we bore witness to the most disgusting corporate greed in recent human memory. Enron, Citibank, Worldcom, et al, would destroy the economy as we know it. And all the players would either walk away, or end up dead. Let's move on, shall we?
And then Bush would steal another fucking election. And this time, the media would play along with the democratic theft like a whore promised free cocaine.
And unless morale improves, the beatings will continue. In the form of military tribunals, secret hearings, constitutional duckings, torture, confinement, coercion, black ops, private security forces, and a steady stream of bodies wrapped in old faithful coming home to roost.
Even my grandmother ended up on a no-fly list, it seemed. From that time she didn't pay the cable bill. How un-american.
Cable is God. And if isn't cable, the man who would run for the presidency next will surely believe in the man who would be God.
Or at least God would help decide who would be president.
The president is the decider. At least that is what he would come to call himself. But, really the world knows that Cheney and Bush Sr. are at the helm, with little Geo taking up the rear in the trio of the true axis of evil.
North Korea threatens the world with all the power and faux strength of a scorned thirteen year old girl and America responds in kind. Only with the known rumor of the threat of more firepower and the diplomacy of a wrestler.
We all stand by and wonder if it is even worth going to school or work at all, once again, feels a bit robotic and self defeating, at best.
The tsunami and Katrina blend together like a slurpee of suffering. The response to the wave was overwhelming and the flood dried up trust and goodwill. At least in the lower ninth.
We saw the rise of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, cyberspace places. The virtual world we all said was the future but now know is now.
It is the sacred cow of all we harbor and despise at the same time, sitting alone, trying to connect with others. We know more but care less.
We think we are informed, soldiers and patriots of a new age of philanthropic atheism that has it's base in the hackers and slackers and detractors of the way it is.
And the way it is seems silly and obscene.
Then somewhere between a housing and loans crash that causes an international market crash and a disgraced white house administration sneaking out the back door, comes a man who inspires the whole planet with an energy and innocence and determination not seen in a long time. Barack Obama. We all dreamed of a new future that we previously thought unattainable.
A future where health care wasn't just for wealthy people. We thought war would stop if this man were to become the leader of the free world.
Think again. The health care was shot down like the red baron and 30,000 new kids are headin' for Afghanistan. Iraq is far from over and elections are still being stolen. Along with identities and antiquities.
Telephones have become iphones, music has become muzak, and we have dropped pretty much all of the international agreements, up to and including Kyoto and the Geneva Convention.
We finished off the decade with headlines about a golf superstar that fucked other people besides his wife, a pop star who liked boys and had a theme park, the bombing of Pakistan and the failure of the nations of the world to come to any sort of an agreement on climate change.
Doesn't bode well for the next decade, my friends, if we are to continue down this route of collective stupidity. The medicine ball is in our court.
Newspapers are dying because people don't believe them anymore.
Read a book. Learn. Change. Tell others. Don't listen to Country music.
Wash, rinse, repeat, if necessary.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

x-men vacation.

It's christmas again
sort of like spring
it is a thing, that makes us happy
In the dark of winter
we come in chariots
far and wide
to park and drive
and decide, not to do much
It seems more peaceful this year
less people, less grudges
the carols play in all sizes
the children dash about
with their noses running
nothing more consumerist
than a child at christmas
they want the world and they want it now!
ungrateful basterds
who's chewing the fat?
A squirrel, a bird, or a rat?
A time to be a good person
faces the challenge of a litany of swine
it takes a toll, on most of us, in time
and becomes an albatross
to contend with, to be friends with
it gets messy and distressing
when the new becomes the normal
it's like gold, it melts
and like snow, it can be frozen
by cubes or by the dozen
and like them, you went running
not believing or reading 
just talking to hear the glorious sound
of your own voice.
and hearing your beating heart
and chest
And the tinted window revs
as you wait for the light to change
but don't try to make any for 
generations to come
we are the ones 
for who they will save 
the lion's share of the blame
a holiday of chewing
and spitting
in His name

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas. 

Art is the center of life. All creation is creative, even freeways.
The colors
The textures
The measurements, the imagination 
Was thought up by someone who made something from nothing
Someone left an impression of themselves 
On this place
They wanted people to know that they found the world to be beautiful, as much as it can break your heart sometimes.
And there is always lessons to be learned
from getting burned, by flame
It is always the same
Only how we react remains
Art finds a way

Thursday, December 10, 2009

for the memories. for love.

there is only one thing that gets us through this life and that is love...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

one love.

the 70's were hard on everyone? I love the suits and the dress for gina. I don't remember the photo being taken but i wonder if my dad got us to stand with our hands behind our backs, all debonair and shit? 
I think it was taken when we were in Alberta, celebrating a marriage.
We were kids of the 70's, all right. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

kenneth elmer finley, rest in peace.

all those days with you had an effect on me
that cannot be quantified
only memorized 
you always had the right song
in your head
you would whistle
instead of the radio
or sing an old song
all along, you had the years
and quiet opinions and disposition
of one who saw what was to be seen
you, a keen listener
a grandfather
a friendship of years apart
a generation skips
to find itself again
never in the children
maybe in your children's children.  

Monday, November 23, 2009


swaying trees
breaking surf
washed up
washed out
you could cut through the sheets of rain
you could be soaked in only a few minutes
tall grass
the road, at last
snow in the pass
on the way there
on the way home
we roam

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It takes time just to make time
and that is what we have to work with
the thoughts are what slow us down
instilling fear and common sense
renting it all \and not claiming ownership
over the race
and a place, to call home
or something like that
the one that leaves is the one that gets away
you're the one that stays
just by staying
it is the power of earth
and the fire to ignite
it is the right, thing to do
let's do it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

learning to fly

                                                                  photos by colby
music moved you, hit you
made you silent
thought of those days
seems all has changed now
irreplaceable, it finds its' way to the top again
those youthful days return
to find you there, listening
understanding all that is meant to be heard
and discovered
to be real
to be realized
is all you need

hand in hand, is the way we went
you and me
with the wind at our backs
the sun in our eyes, we knew
what the other had said
without speaking...
we knew that blue
was the new black
and that time was, in fact, on our side
listening for the signs, we find
that all of the dreams were real
even the ones where we fly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Berlin wall has been gone 20 years.

Here we are, twenty years after the 'official' fall of Communism in the East, what has changed? I mean, people in East Germany can go to the store and get a loaf of bread. Without being shot by government troops. So that's definitely an improvement, no doubt about that. A lot of property was expatriated from people, as capitalism bit into the stunned and terribly curious lot that had not been allowed to cross over since 1961. The barb wire was stretched out by the truckload in the course of an evening, leaving families and friends separated for 28 years. I am sure the East German government had just witnessed the horror of Tiannemen  Square and knew the world was not in any mood to see more governments commit more violence against its' own people. Instead, they had to cave in under the pressure of a movement that could not be stopped. It just gained momentum and became too big.
Soon after, came Russia, the Kremlin would krumble, and who would keep the temperature just right at the Lenin tomb? Things could get relatively ugly if it warmed up in there.
Meanwhile, they were lining up for Pepsi and cigarettes while the mob and fragments of the Kremlin ran the country and China moved into the forefront of the whole balance of power, what with all their factories and cheap labor and access to cheap minerals. Enter America into the equation, and you have got some interesting times.
The wall was a symbolic structure that was begging to be torn down by so called free nations, and everyone could shake hands and kiss babies and they could all pat themselves on the back, listen to shitty music and vote for assholes, or just not bother to vote at all, for the next decade or so. 
Throw a fucking Jihad into that mix and there is going to be some serious shit go on. Pay attention. 
Then people talk to each other and some shit starts to change. Maybe everywhere. Maybe sometime. This always happens. It always seems to lose steam and flounder, creating a vacuum of intellectual thought and public discourse. 
Then the dead space fills with change. We change so quickly, as a society. And we have all become so much more global in the last 20 years. Even poor people have access to computers, eventually. Suddenly the world is democratic again, a free online world emerging, where people get to be anonymous, seeking refuge from their everyday reality of stress and time management.
The wall seems so distant now.  Like the world now has bigger fish to fry.  

Saturday, October 17, 2009

See oh elle bee why pt.3

straight hair curly hair
gold shoes silver shoes
look at you
all dressed up
with a lot to do 
shell reflects noise
and lets the light in
sunshine clarity truth
this is the first day
of the last of your youth
like the things you like
dogs and cats and even rats
but not roaches or bats
it was in Manhatten I was smitten
with all your sayings and musings
I took pictures but the camera was useless
you took pictures and the truth is,
they look as perfect as they should
trails in the forest
along beaches of sand and stone
we are alone, here
we hold
and you agreed that all who wander
are not lost
you solve it all and I fuel the flames
how can we be stopped?
too much fire in this room
it burns out quickly
we agree to agree and move on...
our best laid plans
change every time there is a new moon
soon, a decision is made
to keep moving
white walls painted blue
a new light or two
this place looks like a home
with a view.
it's not a fear of flying
a fear of crashing
doesn't keep you from getting there
you arrive a bit weary
depart with trepidation
across the nation
on that once great notion
that seeing is believing
you will bet on that
as will I and we try
to etch a sketch of life
the way it is
and should be

Friday, October 16, 2009

I awoke at 8:12. I knew instantly that I had slept in. Sometimes you just wake up and you know you have overslept. I rose and hit the space bar on the computer to see what time it was. I glanced down at the business card of the dentist, picked up the phone and called the number, told the voice on the other end who I was and my stated purpose and she said that I was lucky, there had been a cancellation and as a result, I would be able to see the dentist. I didn't feel lucky. It was like being told that you won a million dollars but you had to give most of it away for taxes. I agreed to make the trip to the office in record time and I took off down the hall to the shower. I got in the car and drove with haste to the dentist office. It was a dark and rainy morning, where the last of the fall leaves are blowing in every direction and you shudder as rain pelts you in the face through the window. 
I arrived at 8:40 for an 8:00 appointment. I sat down and looked at the 'National Geographic' that was the only interesting thing to read in a fucking virtual sea of crap tabloid and fashion magazines that tells me people are either stupid, or they are assumed to be stupid. Glamour magazine, indeed. All it does is make people feel ugly and judge all their self worth by the reflection that they see in the mirror. Maybe that is why they are the reading choice, provided by the dentist, so that you will feel bad about your teeth and then spend more money on them.  I wonder...
After a short time, my name was called and I went in and sat down on the fancy chair. There was a television that was bolted to the ceiling and it was tuned to the food network. Another show with some asshole chef with anger management issues, yelling at people while they all work toward some deadline, where they will have to blah blah blah...
The dentist and his assistant were both in the room now and we all exchanged pleasantries as they prepared all their tools of death and torture, like two killers numbed to the cries of their victims. They donned all sorts of protective and terrifying gear. I felt the sweat beading on my neck and my palms were drenched with sweat. I was prepared for the local anesthetic with some minty gel that was applied with a small cotton tipped swab. It tasted kind of nice. Then, out of nowhere, comes a needle and it is inserted into my gums. Ouch. 
They always say 'pinch', when they should just say 'hurt'. I feel like they do themselves a disservice when the pain comes as a surprise. I have learned over the years that when a dude sticks a 4 inch long fucking needle in your mouth, the result is gonna be that it hurts.
As the anesthetic sinks in, my lips and teeth begin to feel numb. 
Before they remove 3 wisdom teeth, they are going to put fillings in two teeth. Like getting 3 teeth yanked out wasn't enough, they talked me into getting the fillings in the same appointment, saying that my mouth would be frozen so we might as well fill them. After the needle of mercy was inserted into my gums, I would have to agree with that.
Upon completion of drilling, grinding, filling, etc., the dentist discovered two more teeth that required fillings and asked if I wanted to have them filled? By this time, the Stockholm Syndrome had begun to take shape and I identified with my captors. At this point, I would have gone down in a hail of bullets for these fuckers.
After the nurse returned and said the 2 fillings would only cost an additional $36, I actually gave the thumbs up. It was like Top Gun. The drilling continued...
When all was completed with the 4 fillings, I was asked to sign a form that stated if some shit were to happen as a result of their ripping out my teeth, they would not be held responsible. I signed it and laid back. My back was wet with sweat. It was at this moment that I truly realized that I have a major phobia of the dentist. Some people have a fear of flying or a fear of spiders. I have a big problem with the dentist. 
Some razors are inserted into my mouth and I know there is bad shit happening in there but I cannot feel it.
The 3 wisdom teeth are unceremoniously ripped out in succession. It hurt. I felt a little bit violated. 
I listened to the dentist and the nurse talk about Kanye West and Jay Z and other poppish, mindless crap and I took comfort in this, knowing that they were so jaded to routine procedures like this, that they were comfortable enough to speak about pop stars and blow drying their pets. The dentist even said that he showers with his little dog. 
When it was all over with, I shook both their hands and made my way toward the door. I could not speak as my mouth was stuffed with gauze and frozen beyond belief. 
I thanked them for letting me go and made my way toward my car. 
I drove toward home listening to the radio and I felt relief. 
I guess it feels good when you conquer your fears, even in a small way. And I did that day.


Blame Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper sings a fucking Beatles song, with the great Yo Yo Ma no less, and his popularity surges in the polls? What a bunch of fickle, simple minded, pathetic voters in this country. Who cares about the tar sands and a trillion dollar deficit when you can get by with a little help from your friends? 
It makes me think that Canadians are pretty stupid, or they just don't care. This country used to make me proud but these days, all I feel is embarrassment. We are a nation that has had its' nut sack removed. We used to stand for things, like peacekeeping, nation building, the rule of law. (see war measures act, 1970) Now all we seem to care about is fucking taxes and banal shite like that. 
Harper suits this country, really, and maybe that is what pisses me off the most about him. Don't we all have an ugly blue sweater here in Canada? Don't we all know at least one crappy song on the piano that we dare to play at some work function, where we probably drank too much? 
Look at the great Prime Ministers in the past. Trudeau, King, Laurier, MacDonald. These people were on the vanguard. They flew in the face of detractors. They stood for something. Now we have Mister fucking Rogers for a leader. 
He is totally self serving and the second he thinks he can win a majority, he will call an election. Mark my words, my friends. This man has an agenda that has not fully surfaced, only because his weak-assed party would be brought down by the opposition. 
In the mean time, Canadians will no doubt, do what they do best, nothing.
Remember Vimy, the 1972 Soviet-Canada series, Suez, Bosnia, Billy Bob Thornton? These were rare moments when Canada stood up and said,"Hey!"
Pay attention, eunuchs, its free. 

3 weeks, no coffee...

It has been 3 weeks since I stopped drinking coffee. It has been grueling and, like when you are trying to beat any addiction, you ask yourself why you are even quitting in the first place. When I quit smoking, I did this for what seemed like a year or more. But quitting smoking was much harder to kick than coffee. Quitting coffee is hard because it is ritualistic, comforting, gives you energy, etc. All addiction is ritualistic, though, isn't it? Whether you are cooking crack in a spoon with baking soda or ammonia, or grinding up coffee, filtering, pouring, drinking, there is a very comforting and familiar ritual that you have tied to this repetitive act.
Basically, you just want to get that shit into you, no matter what poison it is. 
I am still drinking tea, mostly because I am in need of some sort of 'fix' to carry out my life in what I deem to be a fairly normal existence.
Normal in the way that a guy who lives in a basement and writes songs about the government and loves humanity but hates people, feels normal.
My addictions have been scaling down of late, even the addiction of defending my own twisted logic to others that just don't see the world the way I see it, which is, of course, the only way. Ideologues are fine, if they match what I see as optimal. Got it? Good, let's move on...
How did I segue from coffee into Team America, World Police, you ask? Simple. I just do it. Take a look for yourselves. It isn't hard. 
But, I have discovered that tea has it's own little rituals. Like soaking the bag, stirring, heating up water, etc. These are all things that will keep my A.D.D. hands moving, as I offer them less and less to do.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

happy thanksgiving

There is a lot to be thankful for, people. How about the fall leaves, turning orange and red and yellow as they reach the end of this season's cycle? Or the way a child smiles at you from a stroller, as you walk by, going about your daily business?
The birds and squirrels are stocking up for the coming winter, the morning air is cool and renewing, there are no secret police coming to my door late at night because I have publicly criticized the government. (yet.)
We can choose where we work, where we live, and who we want to spend time with. (except for that asshole at work you must withstand)
We have food in our bellies, most of us have someone who we love and who love us, and everyone has at least one friend they can rely on for most anything.
There is some shit to be thankful for.
Unless you are a turkey.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

JAM09 john allen memorial -photos by charmley.

JAM09 john allen memorial. continued...

more photos by charmley.

In september 2008, Lytton BC

It was to be a weekend of local travel, to get away from the city and all it's trappings. Isn't that the way it always starts? Just an innocent weekend getaway. The weather was unseasonably warm for the time of year. 
It was a long weekend in September and we were headed up highway 99 toward Squamish and Whistler. From there, we had sketchy plans to go on to the Fraser Canyon and find somewhere to camp along the way. The autumn breeze was carrying the last moments of summer. It is always right after a day like this in September, when a storm blows in and when it blows away, it takes summer with it. 
We pass all the shattered rock that is fast becoming the new highway to Whistler. There are road building machines working everywhere along the highway. The landscape looks bombed out and destroyed, otherworldly almost, with all the shattered rock and barrier walls falling away to hundred foot cliffs that fall into Howe Sound below.
When I was a child, I remember when there were terrible accidents on this highway, in the rain in the night. 
Soon this highway will be safer and it will get you there faster. Even if they had to wipe out some valuable eagle habitat to do it, the highway will be safer. I guess that is what we humans care about at the end of the day, getting to the ski hill safely. That, and a good stiff drink to wash it down with...
We run out of sunlight and options at Cat Lake, so a tent is pitched.
It is a respectable joint, the sites are far enough apart that you cannot hear your neighbor snoring. 
It seems a good enough spot to lay weary work week heads, so we did.
We left early in the morning, and stopped at Pemberton for coffee and breakfast. It wasn't too bad and we burped and were on our way. We marveled at the town because it is a likable place with a welcome presence. It has mountains with snow capped peaks, in plain view from town and fields and cottonwoods that stretch out into the river valley one way and up onto the rocky hillsides in another direction. It is sunny this day, too and we enjoy the warmth of the rays as the sun hits the windscreen. Your hair blows in the wind as you speak of how you came to be and all the circumstances surrounding that. The who, what, when, wheres of your life, up to this very moment.
It seemed interesting and something I could understand without a translator machine. This, I could appreciate.
We passed Mt. Currie, the place of my sister's birth, a poverty stricken First Nations reserve outside of Pemberton. I bet they never showed that to Chris Martin when he flew here in a helicopter last year for an outdoor rock festival. 
The Volkswagen headed up the hill out of the valley, past Birken and onto Duffy Lake road. The highway is rough, a patchwork of potholes and narrow curves, with steep mountains rising up from the valley floor. It became an arid landscape as we rose up through the pass.
When I looked over at you driving and singing, I knew at this moment, for sure, that I loved you. I took note of it because it really just kinda hit me, like a surprise ending in a movie that makes you feel whole.
We made it to Lillooet by lunch and soon realized that it was a unique place, a small farm town at the convergence of two valleys, a small green haven in a sea of brown rock and parched soil. Pine trees, broken down, petrified shacks, tall, dry grass and willows. The kind of place a coyote would love and a cowboy would dream about, the First Nations are the stewards of this land. 
We picked up a few things to supplement the food we were carrying, including wine at the general store in Lytton. Lytton is a small town resting on the banks of of the Fraser river. The town is a 45 minute drive from Lillooet, on highway 12. 
I once rode my motorcycle on a solo trip into Stein Valley and I took this same route, only from the other way. I rode up to Lytton via the Fraser Canyon that time.
It was in August of 2007, it was one of those journeys that changes you. Makes you think about meaning of your life and stuff like that. What you have done so far. Who you may have hurt along the way, and did you say you were sorry?
Highway 12 was nice that day, with Ray playin' in the stereo and old houses that held old stories, passed us by as we drove to the 2 car capacity ferry, that ran across the river using the current to power the vessel. It was silent except for the sound of the river, splashing and grinding about, as the boat lurched and danced its way across the river. 
When we reached the other side, we drove up Spencer road, past more old houses and barns and small fields and pines, through the reserve and into the parking lot for the Stein Valley Park, or Nlaka'pamux, as it is also known. 
We left the car and started our short walk, which turned out to be a bit further than I remembered. We walked along the banks of the river and it was roaring. 
We had wine and a guitar and we knew it would be fun. We found the spot I had once camped in and set up the tent. It was a glorious clear night and the river churned away as we talked and ate and went to sleep.
The next day we washed ourselves in the delightfully cold water of the river and started back toward the car. We were met by three rangers who seemed nice and we chatted about this and that, then we were on our way.
We got back to the car an hour later and drove off toward the ferry and the Fraser Canyon. It seemed like it would be a hot day and dry as dust. 
As we drove through the canyon towards Boston Bar and Hope, we talked about our future and what dreams may come. We ate bad food at a roadside grease pit in Boston Bar, passed through the tunnels, bought more wine at a small grocery store and decided Chehalis would be a good spot to stay because there is a river and huge trees that tower like cathedrals over the camp spots.
I ran from the ranger and ditched 10 feet of branches behind a 6 foot tent, due to a lack of firewood due to a lack of a visit from a certain guy selling bundles of firewood to yuppies like us from the city. 
You saw the stars clearly and exclaimed,"Neat-e", and the term was forever to be part of our growing lexicon. I imagine that some day we will have our own sort of bastardized version of English that only we can understand and that only others will be ever more annoyed with.
Guitar was played, noodles were eaten and more stories were told about stuff. We left in the morning after we took a bath in the Chehalis River. There were little rock pools down at the riverbed that we could dip into. And it was deserted. There was nobody there. We made our way toward vancouver on highway 7, through Deroches, Aggaziz, crossed the Fraser at Mission and through Abbotsford. Once we got there we felt like we wanted to barf, what with all the 'support our troops' ribbon magnets and Tim Hortons on every corner. I once bought some peaches and cream corn on the cobs from around here. It was a few years back, I'll never forget how good those were. They were so sweet and crunchy. 
We arrived in Surrey, where I would meet your mother and your brother and Katie for the first time.
We went to Earl's where I ate the Mediterranean noodles and then we drove back to the city to add up our scores.
We were tied. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

letter to see oh elle be why

Went out to impoverished rain forest with you
Got lost in the way you looked in that heat
Oh, that place was so hot, it was burning
Cactus fruit against the din of grey and green
Silent scream of the hawks circling
With the black moths and souls
The frogs and the tadpoles
Dried up riverbed
Waves crash into a desert landscape
We could see so many stars from the roof
Avocado, tomato, jalapeno, 
putting the pieces together to communicate
No comprende, No habla espanol? 
I can say cerveza or cuidad or hola
but not much more
The fish is beautiful under the water
or in a taco in Cabo Pulmo. 
The water, so clear and blue, like your eyes
crashes onto the sand 
Those turtles made it with a little help
from their friends
The Malecon was nice in the night
Like Palmero's with a piano player
Or kids who ask spanish questions 
And ask for english answers
El Moro trees and king sized dreams
The beach was as good as it seems
Too real to believe.
Rock isn't all that the world is made of
there's water and trees and wind and love.  

Please excuse the mess, we're building the future...

I live in Vancouver but most of my family, the dog notwithstanding, live on the island. Nanaimo, Victoria, Campbell River. I make trips to said island many times in a year. Let's face it, much of my life has been spent plying the waters of Georgia Straight aboard a BC ferry. Any trip I took as a kid or as an adult, began with a wait in a ferry line-up or aboard one of the ships that make up the magical fleet.
I am a simple man, with few desires, save for world peace and the odd sexual encounter. That said, being a frequent rider of this ferry system makes me fantasize about murder, torture and mayhem.
I have grown up with this obtuse system, as someone grows up with the family mutt or Disney characters.
As citizens of this province we are constantly told that we have one of the best ferry systems in the world. I guess that just falls under our tell-all heading of 'best place on Earth'. Maybe we are just too busy telling ourselves how fucking great we are to see that the ferry system is run like a bake sale or a grade school car wash trying to raise a few bucks for the volleyball team.
Seriously folks, take a ride on another ferry system and then come back and ride this one. You'll feel like the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' ride at Disneyland is a tighter run ship. Hell, I bet there are ships in Greece that are in better shape than this outfit. The Greeks are known for a lot of decent things, like democracy and philosophy, but they are also known for ships that sink. Just sayin'.
What am I complaining about, you ask? Here's just a few examples...
1. There seems to be a lot of money and resources to build and maintain infrastructure that will make the corporation money in return. I speak of gift shops, kiosks, Starbucks, Bread gardens, White Spots, the list goes on. All of these things are constructed in record time, under budget , blah blah blah. Why can't the same be said of other projects? The terminals are in a constant state of repair it seems. I am always being directed out of the terminal, into the rain or cold, to wait in a fucking tent or something because the terminal is being rebuilt for like the fifth fucking time in ten years. Do you think it is possible that someone who is in the planning department could have the sense to look further ahead than two years? Come on, people...
2. The spaces allotted for parking your car, to walk on the ferry, are full half the time. I know we all wish it was still 1982 and 'The kid is hot tonight' was still on the charts, and there was still only 250,000 people living on the island. But now, unfortunately, there are half a million people on the island, Loverboy is playing the Riverock, and people need somewhere to park their fucking cars. The 'lot full' sign is up and down more often than a whore's droors on payday. Get a clue. Build a parkade for 2009 levels. How many trips to Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen do I have to make, only to realize they only have enough parking for a few schmucks? Hey, BC ferries! Ever wonder why half the passengers are rude and ignorant? That's because they missed the ferry while trying to park their car 2 miles away, and then run with all their luggage to the terminal, only to be treated with contempt by your overpaid, underworked staff. 
3. The food that is being served on these ferries is atrocious. Is this a Russian gulag? Is this Guantanamo bay? Am I in the hospital?Can I get something to eat on this ship that won't make me instantly barf or shit in my pants? I know the 'White Spot' got the contract for the ferries because they contributed money to the BC liberals' campaign, along with the Bread Garden and their $7 cardboard sandwiches. I guess I could go to the 'Pacific Buffet' and eat overpriced, overcooked shite for more money than it cost to get on this 3 hour tour. Besides, I might not fit in up there without my 'God bless America' t-shirt or my PGA tournament cap.
All I want is something healthy to eat. (mealy, over ripe apples and bruised bananas not included.)
And then there are the constant announcements over the PA system telling passengers to basically eat and get out because there are more pigs at the trough that need somewhere to sit to ingest their foul meal. 
And by the way, $9 for a stale sandwich and a small coffee is tantamount to high seas piracy. We, the people, should keel-hull you bastards for this. And if you don't know what that is, see Mutiny on the Bounty. And not the new one, with that misogynistic, anti-semite Mel Gibson. See the old, black and white one, with Brando. 
4. I don't know who the architects or engineers are who plan out how these terminals will actually work, but please do not put them in charge of anything that may fall down, like a bridge, or an overpass. 
At each terminal, there is plenty of space for vendors hawking fucking t-shirts and beanie babies but all the passengers stand out in the rain, waiting to but a ticket. I have experienced this at Swartz Bay, Horseshoe bay, Departure Bay. Two out of three of these terminals have recently undergone major renovations. (Surprise!) At the Departure bay terminal, there is a huge waiting room with bank style divider ropes to delineate which way the sadsack passengers will line up. Well, the ropes are all closed off, the huge room is empty, and all the passengers are directed to line up out the door, in the fucking rain! The same is true at the freshly renovated Tsawwassen terminal. Huge new terminal and everyone is huddled outside in the cold, waiting to buy tickets. What the fuck is wrong with you people? I could design a better system with some 2x4's and traffic cones and tarpaulins.
And the line-up goes out the door and crosses the path of the arrivals, causing snarls between passengers at that point. Could anything really be more pathetic and futile than this system you have in place? Are we ready for the Olympigs? Hardly. What an embarrassment.
Last, but not least, is the man who is in charge of all this forward thinking regarding 'one of the best ferry systems in the world'. David Hahn. Ah yes, what a union busting, arrogant, ignorant, near sighted, blithering bloody idiot. Whatever they are paying you, David, it is too fucking much. 
I wanted to make a complaint, but the 1-800 number directs me to the website, which is, you guessed it, under renovation. Thank you for choosing BC Ferries. Your only other choice is to swim.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I thought of this last night while I was out with friends. There are free speech 'zones' allocated for people to practice their charter rights during the olympics. I guess it is called practicing because there is no 'real' protesting allowed anywhere near a spot where someone may actually fucking see you practicing. Our basic rights have been stripped away so that a bunch of rich, neo-liberal, greedy fucking lizard people can wave flags and scream their heads off over a bunch of people chasing a puck , or chasing a rock, or chasing each other. Who can skate the fastest, ski the fastest, run the fastest, spend the most public money on wasteful, needless, corporate projects? Who needs hospitals when you have a world class fucking curling rink?
How about a trillion dollar highway from richville to greedville?
And now they are passing more laws to be able to remove people from the streets and force them into homeless shelters. Suddenly Vancouver cares about the homeless people? Only while prospective foreign investors are in town. Then they will throw them all back into the streets. They will declare the law 'unconstitutional' and everyone will say,"Yeah, we're Canadians, we won't stand for that in this country", but not before they use the new law for exactly what they planned.
Who are these men in suits, that wield such power, that they can force changes to the Canada charter? They can take away our rights, pillage city coffers, demand all sorts of unreasonable things, and then act like a scolded child when anyone even questions them. They jet all over the world like fucking rock stars, on our nickel, and we aren't even allowed to know how much it all costs because the government passed a law to make all the spending a secret. I guess we, as taxpayers, just don't know what is good for us so they will tell us. Or not tell us. It's up to them.
Hockey makes the world go around my friends. And all this time you thought it was our elliptical orbit.

Coffee, I miss your embrace.

It is 830 on a Saturday and I am in front of the computer already. I am not sure if this makes me lame because I am in front of the computer or because it is 830 and I am already awake? And I am not drinking coffee right now because I am trying to get control of a skin condition and the TCM doctor says that caffeine is just about the worst thing for a guy with a skin condition. Well, that's fine, but what about a guy with a coffee addiction? Coffee has been my good friend for a long time. Coffee has helped me get over broken relationships, hangovers, nervousness, insomnia, boredom, social awkwardness. The list goes on but I think you catch my drift. It is the aisle in the grocery store that calls out to me. "Tony, I am over here. You need me, Tony. Dark roast, light roast, Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, I am here for you, Tony. Don't forget about me..."
What am I gonna do now? Drink fucking green tea? I don't even like tea, never mind that crap. Sometimes being healthy just goes too far. Green tea is for, like, old Asian people and hippies. The way they kind of wrap both hands around the cup as if they were cradling a child or comforting a friend. Green tea is not a friend. Let's get that straight. Friends do things for you. And what the fuck has green tea done for anyone lately? Okay, so there is rumors that it fights cancer causing free radicals... So what? I knew you were gonna say that.
Coffee is a nice thick brew, rich and flavorful. And there are so many options. There are like a million different ways you can drink coffee. Hell, you can even mix it with whiskey or any number of alcoholic beverages, if that is what you are into. They have even begun to mix it with beer. How could it get much better than that, I ask you? The two best things in the world, mixed together? That would be like Jack White joining the Flaming Lips.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The summer is coming to a close. I awoke this morning to find darkness in the sky. Winter darkness. The kind that makes you roll up the window because the rain is hitting you
in the face. But I am leaving for Mexico tomorrow and I plan to stave the autumn off for just a little while longer. Hello margaritas.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

another letter...

pictures by charmley.

It was the last thing I could look forward to this summer. The long weekend. It held mystery and promise. We had started a tradition of getting old friends together on this weekend and this time would be no different. Except you would, of course, not be there. You are somewhere else. Perhaps you have started your own weekend traditions from out there in the ether...
I awoke early and began my journey with songs in my head and memories playing back to me from the catalogue that I keep.
It was raining at the terminal and there were a lot of tourists in vans, wearing sandals and shorts. I thought,"It's fucking six in the morning, people, and it is raining." I guess they all want to savour the summer. They are afraid, as I am, how the onset of fall and winter will make them feel.
Every year, I watch the leaves turn color and I have moments of despair when I think of the inevitable sadness of months of rain and grey. Grey isn't even a color, it is a shade.
I had arrived at Horseshoe Bay about an hour and a half early because I hadn't made reservations for the ferry and was concerned about getting on. I guess all these other humans, with their bad hair, bad coffee, standing in the rain in flip flops, thought along the same lines because there were a lot of them.
I was able to secure a space on the ferry to Langdale and we pulled out on time. This rarely happens. Usually I have left too late or I am just generally a victim of my own poor planning. This materializes in the form of added stress or missed ferries/boats/buses, etc.
By the time the ferry berthed in the slip, the rain had ceased and the Sun was showing it's face, albeit sporadically. This made me smile and I knew it was going to be alright, for now.
As I drove up the peninsula, I thought of you and how you had travelled up there for years, to spend time with your parents and family. I wondered to myself,"Did he ever stop there for a beer, or maybe a sandwich?"
I can only wonder. I think if there was a pub or a bar anywhere along this route, you had most likely stopped there.
I was sort of surprised by the beauty of this place. I talked aloud to you, as if you were in the car with me.
As I neared my destination, your parents' house, I began to get really sad. It was the realization that I was not going to see you. In my mind I had looked forward to this weekend, but when it finally arrived, I realized that the reason I was going there was because you were gone.
And all the things that I wish I had said or done, would come screaming back into my head again.
I think everyone that loved you is doing this to themselves, over and over. Running through conversations in their minds, trying to re-write history, chasing the horizon.
I had thought all day about you and how everyone would be, what the act of your family spreading your ashes, would seem like. What a shocking and bizarre thing to have to do for someone who never had a grey hair. It falls out of the natural order of things. Especially someone so close. And all the pain and misunderstanding that will never be solved.
And the good times. Partners in crime, you had a few of them.
I thought that I would see Heath when I first arrived. When I pulled up at the house, he pulled in at the exact same time. We were sharing the travel space through time with the same destination in mind.
Lund was a beacon with the light out. Or a magnet. Pulling. I was drawn there and afraid to go at the same time. Mel and Heath and me talked about our subsequent dreams of you. I think you would have liked that. You liked it when you caused people to talk about you, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
By the way, were these just dreams, or did you actually visit us?
It seems like something you would be desperate to do. Be a fly on the wall.
Didn't you want to see what would happen in this fucked up world? It intrigued you more than anyone else. You really loved to stir up shit. Remember the time we worked on the military commercial and you verbally attacked the soldiers at the wrap party? I ended up running away into the night, but cheers to you for sticking it to them. Ideologically, we shouldn't have been on that commercial in the first place and we both later felt guilt over this. I still do.
Or the time you were with Heath and you were randomly insulting the American soldiers that were taking shore leave from the air craft carrier. That took balls.
Your family looked tired and downcast. I met you when you were 21. They changed your diapers.
And now they watched with us as your ashes slowly sank to the bottom. White roses were pitched into the water.
Your grandparents were there, too. And your Aunts and Uncles. They all donned 'raging granny' hats and we all sang a song about democracy for you. It didn't sound very good, but it was the act of doing it that made it so special.
I learned some old gospel songs to play at the weekend. I played a few of them, but my heart just wasn't in it. I just wanted to get drunk and tell stories, but I mostly ended up listening to stories about you.
It was good to see all of us together. But it was like a dog without a bone. There was a key ingredient missing. I think you know what it was.
It will never quite taste the same without it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Be polite. ride your bike

When you ride your bike, you get to see your city from a whole new perspective. You may think riding a bike takes far too long, when, in fact, it is sometimes quicker than taking a car. And it is good for your health. 
Just don't be the idiot that rides their bike down the sidewalk, runs red lights or is just a menace to society in general. Bike couriers are exempt.
Do it.  
Do it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

the time is what lasts longer than anything else.
And at once, it escapes us at a winning speed. 
Since we were children, we sought to save it
and escape it and hold it
We cannot quantify the immense weight.
the eyes tell the truth
It is youth, that feels lied to and cheated
history never was defeated
by those who fell in line
or who went to bed on time
it is time to shine
time to go all the way with this
Its domestic bliss and a new consciousness. 
Get out the way!
Get out the way!

nanaimo feb.96

It was 1996. We were staying on the Sun Dog, in the Nanaimo harbor. It was late February, we were getting the boat ready for the upcoming halibut season. Painting, scrubbing, organizing, etc. This was a special time for a number of reasons. It was a time of great creativity, when I solidified a certified future interest in playing guitar. There were nights of excess that involved LSD, the zodiac, the Terminal hotel, Sean Harris, the wharfinger, sea otters that had learned to make a slide out of ice and snow on the dock. 
One night, Hugh Hamilton was on the boat, we were drinking beer and preparing for a night out on the town. We left the boat and walked down the dock. The car keys were somehow flung into the air and landed in the water with a small splash. We all looked at each other in horror. John went back to the boat to retrieve a magnet on a string that had the specific purpose of retrieving lost tools or other objects that had been dropped in the bilge of the boat.
He came back, unfurled the string from the magnet and aimed the magnet with precision and let go. It plopped into the water and descended to the bottom of the harbor. There must have been everything from anchors to shopping carts down there.
After the magnet settled on the bottom, John pulled it slowly to the surface. 
He reeled in to the dock and at the same time we all saw that the keys had been caught in one cast. We literally exploded in excitement. We simply could not believe it. 
It was one of those moments that made you think about God. and love.
A few days after that, John and me experienced what we thought was a near death experience. We had an oxy-acetylene torch burning, to weld some rings together that we were using for halibut gear.
Suddenly, a weld opened up in the acetylene tank and the flame jumped from the nozzle to the leak and a huge flame began to burn out of control.
Black smoke began to fill the wheelhouse and the flame burned hot. In a split second, John and me looked at each other and ran from the boat as fast as we could. We ran down the dock and sought cover from the expected explosion.
It never came. We looked at each other. We looked at the fuel dock that the boat was tied up uncomfortably close to. John looked at me and without saying anything, I knew he was saying that we should run back to the boat and try to put out the fire. He ran toward the boat. In a split second, I realized I could not bear the thought of him dying in this final heroic act, while I stood by and watched from afar. So I ran after him, in hopes of extinguishing the fire or dying trying. We unleashed the fire extinguisher and the fire was smothered. A cloud of yellow chemical fell over the entire scene.
We sat on the dock, smoked cigarettes, and then eventually took the rest of the day off and rowed the zodiac over to Newcastle Island.
I guess these are the times that remind you of your mortal essence. 
I know that on that day, we felt as though we had come close.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Good things/ the way we are

It makes us all sad when we see them suffer
Tried and tested but not true
Stuck in the cycle of upward mobility
and the economic downturn
seems there is a new name for it
every time it happens
to come flashing across the tv
it is always the same
but today it is news
The emotional scale is tipping
between greed and panic
despair for some
They have everything invested
they trusted, they tested
they wasted, much time
they traded, their minds
For nickels and dimes
It's the deaf, leading the blind

Thursday, August 27, 2009

multi-tasking makes us stupid

Sometimes, when I think with my mind, it hurts and feels as if I am trying to see through a glare. A flare. Life is so complex, with our daily barrage of thoughts and images fighting for your time. The Sun and Moon are the only constant, all else is negotiable. 
And the greater the scale of importance is the scale upon which most things are compared and measured against. And then, everything shall have it's place.
The most sought after in life becomes fleeting summer sunsets or a talk with a friend. 
And that from a guy who has no children yet.
The music you find becomes the soundtrack for all that you do.
But you are shut off from the World.
To tune in, or turn off...
The masses can be overwhelming at times,
And you may want to unplug from them
with all their talk of fashion and fighting.
Nowadays, you find yourself hiding
And deciding, what its gonna take to hold on to your dreams.
This isn't what it seems, its better than that
Its the truth and your lost youth
that you always wanted back
Countless days in the Sun and on the streets
leaves us hungry and recovering
and loving the way we are living


Monday, August 24, 2009

get outta my dreams, and into my car...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

see, oh, el, bee, why

She sleeps
animals mean so much to her
most people don't know her
She is strong
soft on the inside
a boiled egg
ocean mammals
family matters
and friends
world traveller
fashionable, beautiful
open minded
not easily distracted
logical, feeling