September 29, 2012
A friend. She was an immigrant’s daughter. She was beautiful. Intelligent. Funny. And angry. When she moved in with me, her parents said that she was dead to them. (We weren’t lovers, just friends, but details had nothing to do with it. Appearance is what was important. They were ashamed. Neither side was right or wrong. It was just the gulf between the two generations.
THE THAT DAUGHTER RANT
Its that. I can’t stand it. I started boxing my ears. Keep all that shit out. Everything is money. My father is all. Business. I cannot stand it. What is it. Money. Given up for time. For my father, always it is money. At dinner he counts the mouthfuls. How much must he take in. Minimum. To work all day. He belches with glee. The only time he is happy. I squirm. He asks me. He laughs. I’d like to stick an umbrella up. His urethro.
“What’s the matter, my only daughter?”
“That,” I reply. Imagining that anger is not the only reaction to boredom. My analyst keeps prodding me for details about. My sleeping habits.
Look at his plate. The cost of a sad potato. Bought on discount. Ready to turn into mud. And the vegetables. Carrots soft before they dive into the soup. And the meat. More gristle. More salt. From the local butcher. In our neighbourhood there are no cats. There must be other ways to cut corners. Cannibalism comes to mind.
Father has mother bill him for the meal. Everything goes in the book. It’s like eating in a restaurant. Without the tip. And of course father compares our prices to those at the Canadiana Restaurant. Looking at the savings seems to help father’s digestion.
Our father will not eat Indian food. He says that we must become more Canadian. He says that we smell. Like what we eat. And we must smell Canadian. But my mother cannot cook spaghetti. Or stuffed heart. The thought of eating a heart makes my mother faint. Or Irish stew. What is Irish stew anyway? Leprechauns boiling in laughter.
“And father makes us listen to the Beatles. My mother tries. She sings along with the song, With a little help from my friends. But she cannot get it right. She doesn’t understand the song. Why is it friends? She asks. Why isn’t it, family? And father makes us watch ice hockey. Field hockey, I can understand. I made the school team but father would not come out and watch us play. We are Canadians, he said. F*** the field. Play on ice.
Well, he didn’t say the ‘f’ word. But he wanted to. It’s Canadian. Mother gets very upset when she hears father curse. He said we had to learn. To speak Canadian. They use the ‘f’ word in every other sentence. My mother tried to use it. One time she used it. At the small Indian grocery store she likes to shop in. The manager got very upset with her.
“You must leave,” he said.
Mother told him to go ‘f himself.
She told my father. He got angry with her.
“Why do you use that language around our people? he said.You want to ruin my business!”
You cannot win with my father. It’s that. Which bothers me. But more.
My father forces me to work. For him. At slave wages. Under intolerable circumstances. Without texting.
Paul told me to call the Ministry of Labour. Paul works next door in the pharmacy. A sweet boy. He will be my lover one day. He comes over to talk to me. When father is not around. We mess around with my hair. He likes to stick his tongue in my ear. Paul is my own little Q Tip. I’d like to examine the rest of his alphabet. That. Won’t happen if my father has his way.
Father has taken to meeting some friends. Canadian friends. Or so he brags to us. Over dinner. At the Canadian Restaurant. He meets them. Which he does not tell mother. Mother thinks that the friends are customers. In the shop. I do not tell my mother. It offends me not to tell her. And its that. I can smell the beer off father. When he returns. Sometimes he drinks so much that he takes a nap. On one of the sofas in the back of the store. When Paul visits he ask me.
“Does your father hit you?”
“Of course, he does not. Father is pathetic, but he is not a monster.”
Sometimes Paul and I fool around. Nothing serious. Kissing mostly. And feeling each others. Ups and downs. Outside our clothes. Never under. Paul says that he wants to see me naked. He has never seen naked brown skin. I don’t know how he dares to talk like that. But I like it. Sort of. I tell him that that is definitely not going to happen. This month. The word ‘that’ has replaced using the word ‘sex’ between Paul and I. I don’t know what I would do if father walked in. On us as we were fooling around. He’d probably be pissed that I wasn’t at the cash register. In case someone came in. Who buys couches in the middle of the day? In the middle of the week?
When Paul asks me questions, he writes everything I say down in a book. Another book. Like my father’s book. I asked him what he was doing. He said he likes to record other people’s thoughts. But those were not my thoughts, I tell him. I have one thought. And that’s that.
September 28, 2012
During the period immediately after the introduction of moveable type there was a great deal of violence, chaos in Europe. With the distribution of books, it was as if a jolt of adrenaline had shook the social order. There was the Peasant’s Revolt, the Protestant Revolution etc. The same type of turmoil and violence has run through the middle east. After the introduction of the modern electronic revolution, information has been widely and instantaneously dispersed. Could Arab society be reshaping itself? Into what? It must be remembered that after Gutenberg, Europe attained its greatest strength.
September 26, 2012
The Republican’s new strategy. Act like President Bush. Junior.
Recently Mr. Romney explained how an airplane fills up with smoke (his wife’s airplane had to return to the airport after there was a fire aboard). Mitt said that airplane’s don’t have windows that roll down. That was dangerous, he explained. Perhaps they might consider putting roll down windows in airplanes.
September 23, 2012
March 28, 1979 the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history occurred. A cooling system malfunction at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania had the potential to kill thousands or perhaps millions of people in northern Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and southern Ontario.
People were in a panic. In an act of courage, President Carter with his wife arrived on sight to assure people that a solution would be found and to calm nerves. The place could have blown at any minute.
The problem. There were 2 solutions offered.
One solution was suggested by the President’s advisors in Washington. The second solution was suggested by those on sight. The President had to make a choice. If he chose wrong America would have had a Chernobyl on its hands. By good fortune, Mr. Carter was a former captain of a nuclear submarine. He knew something about nuclear energy. He chose the advise from the people on sight. Disaster was averted.
In this election we have the Republican party slagging Mr. Carter. He deserves more respect.
September 21, 2012
A tour bus pulled into our parking lot this morning. (I work at a Catholic High School) The bus was having engine problems. The passengers were senior citizens from Ohio. I got to talking to them. They were a very curious lot. One of them asked what the tuition costs were for the school. I was a little confused. They told me that in Ohio you pay about $9000 a year. I told them that entrance here was free.
Their mouths dropped. I went on to explain that we had 2 school systems. Parallel systems. And both were free. We weren’t a private school. (Private schools are expensive everywhere.)
I’m always amazed that people from other countries are surprised when they discover that things are done differently in other places.And that difference did not make them inferior. Like the old adage, ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’. (What a horrible saying.)
September 18, 2012
This is a story about despair. Giving in. Resignation. In the face of evil. Its constant nagging at your nerves. Taking your nickels and dimes. Making the simplest of tasks onerous. That’s how tyranny works. You get tired of fighting so many small battles. That you cave in.
A MYSTERY BEYOND COMPREHENSION
They were everywhere. Droppings. Poo poo between the medicine bottles. Little yellow pills and brown ones two. In the pharmacy. Under the cushions. In the furniture store. Between the twenties. In the bank vault. Amongst the odd and ends of the Dollar Store. Like laces between cashews. They were everywhere in the plaza except the restaurant. They, being the mice. That the Ohara brothers had seeded in the plaza months before. The Oharas of pest control. Crafty brothers. Like the Kochs.
The owner of the Canadiana Restaurant, Luigi Manco, could not explain it. Now Luigi looked like a butcher. Handlebar moustache. That he kept well oiled. Like the horns of some ‘Jungular’ beast. A waiter buffalo?
“I don’t know why I should feel so bad. There’s a cigarette in my ashtray. And a pain in my heart.” Luigi said to the pest control brothers. Sean and Pat Ohara.
The Ohara boys shook their heads and smiled. Bright orange uniforms. Like dusk and dawn.
Luigi didn’t notice. The restaurateur’s mind was elsewhere. An agglomeration of thoughts. His gaze fixed on some evasive horizon. Of the waitress. Elisa. Her hips. Like rolling mountains. Where there were puma. Shrubbery. And caves filled with buried treasure.
Luigi sighed. His nose twittered.
“Getting back to the matter at hand,” said Sean Ohara.
Luigi jumped to attention. His chin up. Proud. He curled his moustache in his fingers. A habit. That he was totally unaware of. Like eating sushi. Perhaps not totally. But only on the very ledge of his consciousness. For now his resolve was not to have his restaurant tarnished by the rumors of pestilence.
“Oh, yes. There are things more important than romance. There is pestilence.”
The Ohara brothers smiled. Though they were confused.
Pat wondered. Why had the mice avoided the restaurant? It was a reserve of culinary rations. Pat grinned. You gotta love a mystery. Ah, the Oharas’ reputation was built upon their ability to sleuth out such conundrums. For it was…
“… In these paradoxes, that the truth lies,” Sean Ohara continued his brother’s thoughts out loud. In his light Japanese accent. An accent he had gone to Japan to cultivate. For he and his brother were third generation Canadians. He looked at his brother Pat who nodded in agreement.
“We must ask the question.” Pat raised one of his fingers. Pointed to the almighty in the sky. “Why?”
Luigi waved his hands in the air, then his head and then his hair in a current at variance. He was angry.
“Don’t give me this Asian mystical shit!” he cried in his light Italian accent. Luigi was a fourth generation Canadian who had picked up his Italian accent while on summer holidays in Rochester, New York. “The mice don’t like my food. I don’t give a shit! I don’t want their patronage. They aren’t paying customers. You should be out pestering the owners of the other stores where the mice find their sustenance.”
Luigi, hands on his hips, glared at the two pest control officers in their bright orange suits. That resembled the inmate uniforms in American prisons. Which is what they were. Second hand uniforms. Death row inmates. Patrick had picked them up on the net. At a very reasonable rate. Oh, they were a little soiled. But one had to make allowances.
“We have already spoken to the other owners,” Patrick said, quietly, almost inaudibly, so confident was he in his position as an exterminator.
Sean began to look around the kitchen as his brother spoke. He moved some pots that hung from the ceiling. They clashed.
“Don’t touch those!” Luigi barked. Luigi didn’t appreciate anyone playing his pots. Who was not an artist. A cook. Or a summer student.
“Mr. Manco,” Patrick continued. “Mr. G. has given us full powers to investigate the source of this outbreak of rodents in the plaza. We have the papers if you insist upon seeing them. He told us not to leave any rock unturned. And this,” he said tapping on the pot with his fingernails, “is a rock unturned.”
“Well, I don’t like you poking around my restaurant,” Mr. Manco continued, his eyes moving back and forth between the two brothers. “Instead of asking why I don’t have rodents, you might go and ask why the other stores have mice. What are they doing to attract those little buggers?”
“I don’t think there is any cause for that!” Sean looked up from his view of the open door of an oven.
“Cause for what,” Mr. Manco stepped over to where Sean was kneeling and closed the oven door.
“Cursing the mice,” Sean explained, rising to his feet.
“We are all God’s creations,” Patrick added.
Luigi looked from one brother to the other, than slapped his head, muttering something Italian under his breath. Something that rimed with hole. Revealing his love of opera.
“We will be putting traps around your restaurant.” Sean smiled. Nodded toward his brother.
“Traps! Why do you need traps? I’m not the one with the mice.”
“Perhaps,” Pat said stroking his chin, responding on cue, “there is something else in your restaurant killing the poor mice.”
“The poor mice?” Mr. Manco cried. “Whose side are you on?”
“The side of the underdog,” Sean responded, his voice rising in indignation. “The side of justice. The side of those who cannot stand up for themselves. Where there’s darkness, we stand for light. Where there is fear, we make love.”
“The traps won’t get in your way, Mr. Manco,” Patrick added. “They are small pieces of sticky cardboard. About five or six inches long. Most unobtrusive. Your customers will hardly notice them. Unless they step on them. And then they’re a bugger to get off. Might as well go buy new shoes.”
“This is crazy,” Mr. Manco cried. “I don’t have mice. I don’t need traps. This is a lot of to do over nothing.”
Sean and Patrick both turned on Mr. Manco. They spoke in alternate lines.
“You are trying to tell us our business?”
“Do we come in here and tell you how to cook?”
“No sir. We have put traps all over the plaza.”
And then spoke together in a refrain.
“When the mice discover the danger, where will they go? When they discover that their very existence is in peril, where will they go? They will come here. We will drive them out of the rest of the plaza into the restaurant. And then…”
And then the Ohara brothers stamped on the floor with their feet.
Mr. Manco threw up his hands in defeat and walked off. The two Ohara brothers giggled. For as Mr. Manco walked off, he had attached himself to one of the traps, now stuck to the bottom of his shoe.
“That was good, Sean.”
“Can you imagine what he’ll say when he discovers the trap on his shoe?”
“Blow a gasket.”
Tears ran down Patrick’s face. Laughing. Sean put his arm around his brother’s shoulder.
“I have seen the future,” Patrick said. “And it is filled with mouse traps. Our mouse traps.”
“I hope so, dear brother,” Sean responded. “But I can’t help wondering why there are no mice in the restaurant.”
“The Golden Cat?” Patrick asked.
Sean shook his head. “I think not. The Golden Cat has free reign through the whole plaza. And yet the mice thrive everywhere, but… No, dear brother, it is a mystery beyond comprehension.”
Sean turned and looked out the window for dramatic effect. Except that since they were in the kitchen, there was no window.
September 18, 2012
Everyone is so certain of what is the truth. I hear it from every politician on television. They have a vision which they are willing to share if only we follow them. What is it they see? Nothing of course. They are liars. Obama was the most honest when he quoted Lincoln about the uncertainties of life bringing him to his knees.
The first work of Plato I read was the Meno. The realization that we know very little is the beginning of wisdom. And the last thing that will be admitted by any politician. And many media types. Fox News is filled with people who seem certain of everything. I wouldn’t trust any of them to drive the bus I was on.
And yet our political debates seem to come down to who we believe. Not the facts. Which are manipulated to justify all kinds of arguments. But, there are facts. There are truths. And when the election is over, the President is going to face those truths. And the liars are going to be obvious to everyone. Too bad the new administration can’t be put on a trial run, and then have a second election.
September 17, 2012
It bugs me. To hear commentators complaining about how much money the Republican party is collecting to try and win the election. As if this was the first time that politicians haven’t tried to buy an election. Hasn’t it always been this way in American politics?
And yet something else is happening. It is as if the American Civil War were still being fought. It is difficult to believe that African-Americans, women, the poor etc. could lose their civil rights. Its just too paranoiac.
September 16, 2012
Release of a short video for my new book of short and short short stories. (Or briefs) The book can be browsed at by going to his address. Afternoon Shift.
I don’t know if it’s important what his name is. It seemed important to his parents. They named Ford after the American car companies. Began to decline. To boost morale. On the line. Ford was born in Detroit. The asshole of America. Or so Ford’s father thought. When he was laid off. It was the days of Nixon. And television investigations. Liddy and Hunt and Dean and Mitchell dominated the headlines. And then Ford was born. Delivered off an assembly line of statistics. Right handed. Caucasian. Receding hairline. No one paid much attention. Except the insurance company. They’d prefer that they didn’t know. His name was Ford Harvey. They never bothered to give him a middle name. No time. Ford had always taken second place.
There was a kid named Kuris. He’d been born in Nova Scotia. His father worked in the mines. Coal. Kuris was a Slovak. And he liked his soft drinks. He liked them so much that he drank too quickly. Spilt his soft drink on the floor. Hours before. But no one had noticed.
Ford walked through the drug store’s sliding doors and began his carefree adventure down the ramp. When Ford slipped on the soft drink, his feet were thrown toward the ceiling. The rest of his body obediently followed suit. And he landed on his back. Ford looked up at the ceiling of the drug store. This isn’t right. And then the pain hit. Like knives in his back. Oh mother, that doesn’t feel good. And then he passed out.
And for several moments Ford Harvey lay there. As good as dead. Until Paul McGregor was told a story by a customer about the adventures of a man who entered the drug store and slipped on the floor and landed on his back and for all intents and purpose seemed dead.
Paul rushed over to the sprawled victim and slipped on the same patch of soft drink spilt by a kid named Kuris and landed on his back. And Paul looked up at the ceiling. This is unusual. And waited a moment before passing out. Ford opened his eyes. Glanced over. At Paul. And began to cry.
September 14, 2012
Recently I responded to a blog. I can hardly remember the details. It was a story. And I thought that it was a little adolescent. Maybe I was feeling grumpy that day. Or maybe I was right. In any event the blogger got quite upset. A kind of road rage. On the net, everyone believes that you have to be completely supportive in anything someone produces. There is no need to be rude of course, but when did not agreeing with someone make you an ogre.