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.