September 30, 2010
I’ve always had problems with beds. In university we slept on beds that were standardized for all. If you were about 5 feet tall and thin as a pencil. But the beds were firm. You could place a glass of beer on the bed and it would not spill a drop. No matter how much activity there was. After college I slept on a lot of mattresses. On floors. Which were fine until you woke up the next morning. With a hangover. And had to drag yourself up to your feet. Then I moved in with a girl. Who had a brass bed. Single. I had to lace my arms through the bars at the head or I would have fallen out during the night. My wife and I share a king size bed. But my wife, sweet and loving when she is awake, turns into a Napoleon when asleep. She must have all the blankets. I remember my first bed. Bought for me. By my folks. It had a little shelf for books at the head, and a place for a radio. And there was a light. And it fit me to a tee. No wonder I never wanted to grow up.
September 27, 2010
I wish I was handsomer. I wish I was taller. I wish my bank account would grow. I wish I didn’t smoke. I wish I didn’t forget so many things. That’s right, I don’t smoke. I wish I was smarter. (Is that even possible?) I wish I’d met Trudeau. I wish I’d been more successful. And my parents could have seen it. I wish a lot of things that I don’t really care about it. Someday I’m going to wish I was alive.
September 23, 2010
I created this piece and the name Sweet Lady Jane popped into my head. For the Rolling Stone song My Sweet Lady Jane. And a girl I knew in college. She was blond and beautiful. With huge wonderfully white teeth. A very economic figure. Fun to be with. Smart. (She was going to become an accountant and was head toward her Masters in Business.) But she was short. Shortest girl I’ve ever been next too. About 5 feet. I felt like a paler shade of Wilt Chamberlain next to her. We were never romantically involved although I thought about it. But I could never get over the idea… she was going to become an accountant!
September 20, 2010
Pearls Before Swine. This is a group that I have always loved. Their Balaklava album had a huge impression on me. I never saw them as a psychedelic drug group but one who managed to connect the desperation and despair of the 60s with the same sense of despair of the middle ages as shown in the paintings of Brueghel. Having lived in Belgium for several years I know the landscapes that he paints both real and allegorical.
September 18, 2010
One of my oldest and dearest friends, Ed Kuris, is having a showing (with several artists) at the Royal Ontario Museum. It is a showing dedicated to those artists who suffer from mood disorders. Ed’s life has been filled with joy and turbulence, light and darkness, humour and anger. His work reflects all of this. But he cannot be reduced merely to someone who suffers bipolar disorders. He is one of the finest artists of his generation. Have a look at his work. Touched by Fire.
September 16, 2010
Why is it that so many students who take English end up never reading again? My view is that there is too much preaching. What you need is discussion. A good teacher can bring this about. But what I see too often are science labs. Observation. Analysis. Conclusion. The other thing I have noticed over a number of years is writers who write to be taught. Perhaps it is comforting to imagine young people dissecting and analyzing ever metaphor, image, idea that you come up with. But it does not lead to good writing.
September 13, 2010
Why did Hemingway blow his brains out? I read one writer who suggested that Hemingway had lost his ability to write. I think it is more that that. He had treated his memories, his brain as a farm. Filled with ideas, stories, characters. And then one day he woke to find that the soil had been sterilized. He had tried to harvest his mind and found that nothing was growing. He had a terrible hunger. That he could no longer feed.
September 11, 2010
My wife and I were sitting in a Starbucks and enjoying a coffee. We were also doing a scratch card, one of the many lottery games sold in Canada. This particular game is called Crossword but the game itself doesn’t matter. What the game suggested to me is a new paradox. I had been thinking about free will and determinism. In these games your destiny is already decided. You have already succeeded or failed before you start playing. And yet (knowing this) you choose to scratch various parts of the puzzle/game in a certain order. You have the illusion of freedom. You do make free choices. They just don’t matter. Even if you succeed and win at the game, it was not due to your choices. Its rather like being born into a rich family and congratulating yourself later in life that you have been a great success.
September 10, 2010
Its a miracle. But it doesn’t seem that way when you’re in the middle of it. While I was in Europe this summer there were some conflicts between minorities and the majority populations. In France, it was between Islamic peoples and the state. In Germany and Belgium it was the friction with Turks. Well, it goes on like that everywhere. Talking to friends I explained that at the highschool I work (in Toronto) we have kids from over 50 different countries. And there are no (knock on wood) conflicts. Any problems that do arise seem more economic than racial or ethnic. The kids just get along.
September 8, 2010
One of the hardest things to overcome as an artist is the small minded resentfullness that rises in your throat at the success of a colleague. It is so painful because their success highlights one’s own failures. Sometimes one is fortunate. The bile evapourates when one sees/reads their work. The work itself gives one joy. To see an example of this, watch the movie Amadeus especially the scene with Salieri and the priest.