In the street behind us they were building a house. The beginning of the conversion of houses that were built in the 50s, or earlier, into the 1990s. It was the builder’s dream house. His wife, a fussy though very attractive woman from the Ukraine hated the neighbourhood. Too many Irish perhaps. We’ll call this family the Murphys.

Up the street from them was another couple. They were also in their dream home. But they were going to lose it. The husband had lost his job at a local tire company. His wife hadn’t graduated from high school. She stayed at home. We’ll call them the Podborskis.

Mr. Podborski went out for a walk one evening. Intending to go to the corner and buy a newspaper. He passed the Murphy house that was only partially completed. He went inside the Murphy house and had a smoke. Sat on the stool that had been left behind by the workers. Then hung himself.

From the rafters. It being Friday night, he was not found to the next Monday. No, it was actually Sunday evening. Mr. Murphy had dragged his wife over to theĀ  new house to show her how much work had been done. Within a month, both houses were up for sale.

Some of my friends will suggest that I am a pessimist. My wife for example. I like to think of myself as a dreamer. With benefits. At any rate. In my travels around Toronto I have noticed that the city is getting uglier. I don’t mean the people. Who are actually quite a bit friendlier than they were when I was younger. But the buildings. The streets. Developers, builders have had a field day in this city. They are throwing up elevator shafts everywhere. Elevators that go up 30 or 40 floors. Surrounded by offices or condos.

And what of our civic leaders. The Blessed and Regal Rob Ford sees nothing. Our mayor is the shrugger. Ask him a question. He shrugs. Point out that fire in his house. He shrugs. Standing next to him at a urinal. He shrugs. Twice. He gives you the finger. Ah… just a shrug.

Toronto cannot be ‘ugly’. So goes the argument. Just look at Buffalo.


Its difficult to believe that the man could be such a boor. Its actually two men. Brothers Doug and Rob Ford. Joined at the head. Okay, I’m exaggerating. There is no head. They don’t recognize Margaret Atwood. She must be one of the most recognizable icons on the scene – news, literary, culture. The brothers suggested that she should shut up or run for public office. We have had our share of embarassing mayors but the brothers are… surreal. I wanted to say they were full of poo poo. But I didn’t want to offend anyone….

Usually ‘pornography’ is defined as ‘the depiction of sexual matters to get someone aroused.’ Or something to that affect. But recently I heard someone define it as the depiction of reality in terms that were false, exaggerated, or idealized. So pornography depicts sex is such a way that it is unreal either because of the reaction of the participants or because of their various attributes. Ordinary people do not have sex like this.

Unreal. Idealized. Doesn’t that apply to a lot of things? For example. Couldn’t one say then that Romance Novels were pornographic? Or cooking shows on television? Or religion itself (in the eyes of non-believers)?

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Except to say that one shouldn’t be too smug about anything one doesn’t approve. For myself, I just separate the stupid from the interesting. And go with that.

A late romance

July 24, 2011

One of the sad things about getting older is that you realize that you will never fall in love again. I love my wife. We have been together over 30 years. We fit like a pair of old comfortable slippers for each other. But alas… And so I thought. But then this little guy in a white and black suit showed up. And stole our hearts. Felix the Great. This is the first time I have felt this close to an animal.

All very sentimental. But revealing. Everytime I see an old person with a pet, I now realize that this is their last romance. Their last open unprotected overwhelming affection for someone else. Which explains why people talk to their animals. Why they are heartbroken when their pet dies. Or is lost.

And yet…

Edwin Drood dies. But why? His girlfriend never understood him. Though she feared for her life at times. His enemies were numerous. But would they kill one of their best dealers. Did he cheat someone in a drug deal? Or was it something else. About the world. About himself.


I’ll tell you this. Because of my recent health problems. I think the body is a machine. Some of us got sturdy machines. Well designed. Beautiful. Italian upholstery. German engineering. The rest of us got the rip offs. The Edsels. The Nash Ramblers. Of course people don’t like to see themselves as a machine. That’s because machines are still in their infancy. They haven’t become conscious. Or horny. They rust. They break down. Start to make odd sounds in the night. The machines I mean. But when the machines become more sophisticated they will begin to look more like us. (or at least we’ll think so). Because that’s what we intended all along. To make them in our image.

Edward R. Murrow

July 22, 2011

This piece reminded me of someone. A man. Edward R. Murrow. Not in its substance. But in its spirit. Murrow is one of my heroes. From when I was a kid. There was something about him. The cigarette in his fingers. Smoke rising up passed his eyes. Eyes that stared straight ahead. Unflinching. I watched him on television as much as I could. My parents were very patient with me. With little education themselves, they lovedĀ  the fact that I was interested in someone so austere, so magesterial. Ideas were important.

Here is Murrow’s in one of his television speeches. He addresses Mr. McCarthy.

Here is a part of Murrow’s speech as portrayed by David Strathairn.

Here are some quotes from the guy:

A reporter is always concerned with tomorrow. There’s nothing tangible of yesterday. All I can say I’ve done is agitate the air ten or fifteen minutes and then boom – it’s gone.
Edward R. Murrow

Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.
Edward R. Murrow

Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.
Edward R. Murrow

Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.
Edward R. Murrow

Fame is morally neutral.
Edward R. Murrow

Good night, and good luck.
Edward R. Murrow

If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, there would be a considerable number of stations which would decline to carry it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable.

All this furor in England over telephone’s being hacked. By Murdoch and his employees. (Apparently. I said that so I can’t be sued. If they take time to sue me they are in trouble.) But these guys are sleezebags. Not that it hasn’t happened before. There was the Yellow Press of the Hearst Empire. And now we have Fox News in the states. (Not that they’ve hacked into people’s telephone calls. Apparently.) How many men and women have been destroyed by these people? You’d think that common decency could prevail in the world if we all let it. But not with these folks. Not when there is money to be made. Power to be accumulated. And you can always tell these folks. First of all, they drool. (Actually I drool. Everytime I see my wife. But that’s a different story.) And secondly, they are always outraged. They never talk in a calm voice. Hitler liked to scream. To rail against ill fortune. He reminds me of Moe in the Three Stooges. Murdoch doesn’t scream. In public. But I’ll bet when he gets behind doors he’s a real rug eater. At Fox News they are always outraged. Screaming and shouting. When they’re not snickering. (Apparently)… I have to take a rest. Feel like I’ve been doing a little ranting myself. (Nuck nuck)

The Tennessee Waltz

July 20, 2011

When I listen to The Tennessee Waltz by Patti Page, I get this feeling of impending violence. There is something about the satin sound of her voice and the unsaid words in the song. Someone loses their lover to their best friend. Nothing good can come from it. I think it would make a great film.

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