A friend

A friend told me a few days ago that if you know how to play the violin, then you can play the mandolin too. That it’s basically the same fingering and stuff.

Which means that there is one less instrument I would have to learn, if I wanted to be able to play all the instruments in the world. Which, from the perspective of such a goal, isexactly as if I had learned toplay a new instrument.

This gave me a sense of accomplishment. I felt like areal musician after that news.I really connected with the people in the band I saw that night.

I don’t understand when people say that there isn’t any practical value in a degree in mathematics.


Okay, I would probably be more comfortable with this if it hadn’t happened where it did, as I am not really a big fan of the classics. I mean, they never poisoned my dog and I don’t mind their ultimate influence on our world. But, for example, (although not a great example, as it really isn’t old enough to be the same sort of classic that I was referring to), but an example, I am glad I can enjoy Apocalypse Now without having to read Heart of Darkness.

But, nothing is more interesting than true details, so it happened on a beach in Greece, I can’t fix that now. And actually it was the beach where you could see this rock out in the sea a little ways that really did look like a sailing ship turned to stone. Like in those old stories.

I’d been there a few months staying at this place called The Pink Palace because of a steady stream of sunburnt backpackers. I was sort of stuck there really, because I don’t like traveling. The friend I’d come over toEurope with had already left to go back for her final year at University. We’d spent an immense time on the train to get there fromLondon, the last two days had just been corn fields and soldiers as we crossed through Yugoslavia. It seemed so much work to leave.

I was stuck. Even Dan who’d woken up one morning on the roof of the building with two sprained ankles. His ankles had healed enough to hitch a ride to the airport and continue on his way. I’d been really stuck for awhile when I misplaced my only pair of shoes, but those had turned up again by the time of this story.They were great shoes, removable insoles making it easy to smuggle out the money thatI’d accidentally smuggled in.The girl from SouthAfrica who figured she could travel in my shadow if her guy never showed up, he’d shown up and they’d gone. I’d learned the trick of the eternal Eurail pass using French ink eradicator.

I hadn’t yet gotten to know the guy from Norway who would spend his last night there trying to walk out to sea, or the night watchmen, a recent deserter from theIranian army, who would get his own shoes wet saving him again and again. But there was always a stream of people flowing through so that wasn’t part of the stuckedness.

But then, that I was stuck and those details maybe aren’t important. I was 22, done with university, with a few thousands of dollars and somehow looking for something to change I guess. Self-centered enough that I’d done nothing to let my parents know I was still alive since getting on a plane in Toronto the few months back.

And it was an afternoon. I would have had my free goat sandwich for lunch, some strange conspiracy between myself and the owner’s dad that I never really figured out. I was sitting on the beach reading whatever book had most recently washed up at the palace. And just this beautiful woman took a spot on the beach maybe20 feet closer to the water.Actually, I recall well enough that in fact she was inline with the ship rock from where I was sitting. I could find the spot on google maps if their resolution was better. She was beautiful enough that I still remember where she was sitting, twenty-one years later. I stayed there for hours. I couldn’t imagine leaving whilst she was still there. By the time she left I think there was just the two of us on the beach. As she left she offered me the remains of her bottle of water. There, that’s the story. Its not a big deal. But then nothing really is. That I remember it just says something about being a22-year old guy who had never had a date. And how little it takes to be genuinely happy.

You know

You know when you’re leaving the house. And you check to make sure the lights are all off, and you have everything you need. You’ve got the stuff you’re dropping off. And the bank book because the credit card is due. And you’ve got the list. The list is important. And a head full of times. TheSaturday brunch ends @1:30. There’s a movie at 4:15 if you can make it. But better have the wine by then because the store’ll be closed after.Which is why you have the knapsack. To lug it all around. And you think of her, but there’s nothing you can do.It distracts you for a second though and the cat gets out.So alter the schedule cause you gotta come home between the movie and the dinner party because he’ll probably be cold and willing to come back in by then. Which maybe means the movie’s off. Which maybe means you should phone them, arrange something, get that over with.

You know that feeling?

That’s the music I want to dance to.

Like, this guy came up to me yesterday in an overcoat. I couldn’t tell if it was filthy or just an elegant fabric. But he told me this story. Here, I wrote it down:

You know those big lights they set up to do road work at night? They’re as bright as daylight, but blue-white.They’re great. They’re like truth or something.

I was in Ottawa a couple of years ago, just wandering around downtown in the middle of the night. And I ran into a bunch of those lights.And Andy Warhol. He was doing a portrait of MargaretTrudeau. She was down on all fours in an alley. He was spray painting the side of a brick building. It was just her and him, and the lights. And actually, he needed a boost upon to a garbage can to do some details on her ears. You never heard about that portrait because the building was demolished by the morning.That was the real reason for all the lighting. Andy refused to give me an autograph. He did offer to spray paint my hair, but I was sort of on my way to a job interview. He did answer one question for me though.”

Mr. Warhol. What’s your favourite flavour ofCampbell’s soup?”

“Well, I don’t mind most of them, but really, I think they do taste better if you don’t bother opening the can.”


It’s because nobody buys poetry books.  Well, that is not entirely true but then what is?  And the people who buy poetry books tend to like poetry, which seems a fundamental mistake.

It’s like when I ordered a beet risotto at a restaurant and when I tasted it I realized it was made for people who like beets, rather than people like myself who more find it amusing that sometimes I like things with beets in them.  I don’t blame the restaurant.  Communicating intent can be hard.

Like, I’d maybe suggest that this is a book for people who don’t generally like poetry but do like poets. Or maybe it’s for people who are amused that they sometimes like poetry.

The best compliment I ever got was from a retired Liberal policy designer who was at a reading I was giving because I was interviewing him later for my public access cable show. [I wouldn’t say that was part of a trick to make him come to the riding, but maybe I wouldn’t say it because it would look bad on me.]  He said that he’d accidentally started listening near the end of my reading and thought “Gee, I wish I’d started listening earlier”.

Of course that’s not the truth.  The story is true, but it probably really isn’t my best compliment.

The best rejection I ever got, well, literary rejection, was from some magazine who’s name I don’t recall. I’d sent them some short stories I think (assumption based on the details of their rejection).  They said that if I ever wrote something that included character development I should send it their way.  Upon reflection it isn’t clear if that was an honest statement or they were playing at mimicking the assholery that they perceived in my writing.  I mean, there would even have been fundamental honesty in their mimicking as well.

It was right about the time I was handing out business cards with the job title of asshole (with a puckered o even).  Which was intended to be ironic in that I was a bit of an asshole for sure, but not necessarily good enough at it to be bragging about it in on a business card.

I maybe preferred the Fuckin’ Know It All since 1973 card.  I like simple repetitive interactions. People saying I was too old to have been born in 1873 and my replying that no one is born a Fuckin’ Know It All, it takes time.

Or even God in A Blood Red Tuxedo, because I only handed those out whilst wearing my blood red tuxedo.

But, anyway, the 1973 data will come up later, as will the tuxedo.

I’m not sure I believe in development of character or other things.  It tends to imply an ordering that makes no sense.  A friend once wrote a great letter to the editor about the racist implications of that.  I won’t go into the details or mention their name because they have done more important things and are more famous than me.  Doesn’t that seem like a good commandment?  When I was wearing my blood red tuxedo and handing out my God in a BRT cards I would also have a speedy commandment pad with me, but that was mostly for requests.

I buy into things changing.  The whole paradox about things not being able to change because each change would require an infinite number of sub changes.  To me that just points out that words are mostly useless.

I figure I’ll make this chronological.  Its like what I love about mystery novels.  They start when the mysterious event occurs and finish when the event isn’t mysterious anymore.

So, as I was saying, 1973 will come up again because we aren’t there yet.  So far, this is all foreshadowing.