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Ephemeris  October 2011

 



Oct 30, 2011: But of course. Did I not go to charm school? Did I not read French novels when they mattered? How could it have slipped my mind? London Lunar, in twenty words or less: "Sexy is what's shown. Erotic is what's hidden." Otherwise, we are at odds - he and I on a certain matter. For him, apart from the fact that only a nitwit would argue with K Basinger's body, and that she did a fine striptease, the movie (as was trotted out in the post previous to this one) that was 9 1/2 Weeks is prime ballocks, a load of c—p. Otherwise, Conservative Colonel, not to be confused with Colonel G whose life was ended with a bullet just the other day, predicts that, for the Republican party, there will be a 'hung convention'. A dark horse candidate shall emerge whose name has yet to tumble past our lips. Otherwise, Labrosse observed a birthday, last evening, in Nikas, our table rendered conspicuous by the low-brow behaviour of A and J, two wenches with few redeeming qualities. As A has moved out of her digs, as a life of sorts awaits her in Vancouver, J is reduced to dossing down in a women's crisis centre. She is very much at odds with the cosmos. "Every five minutes, I tell you. How am I feeling? Where am I feeling? When am I feeling? Christ, leave me alone already—" The hockey game was in progress. Les Canadiens were on the proper side of the score. A rather liked Hammerlik. Too bad he was traded—I had uttered nary a word of politics. "There used to be a time," or so I did say, "when fashion was fashion, not some blitzkrieg marketing. Drove my mother nuts with fashion—" A: "I know I did." J: "Let's ask E (E being on shift and quite attentive to our table) what colour her knickers are. If there's one thing I know it's—" I did not wish to know what colour E's knickers were. The duckbill had come naturally to Labrosse back in the glory days that obtained in Shawinigan. My contribution to Labrosse's store of largesse being a bottle of limoncello, tinctures of the same were now going the rounds. It was putting J's relations with the crisis centre at risk, there being rules and regulations to consider, her lines of sight beginning to cross. Otherwise, otherwise, this apropos of one too many bank ads to do with life as a journey, life as a lifestyle vacation - but that, sometimes, just sometimes, after one has set out on a trek, on a voyage of discovery, even; after one has arrived; when one is on schedule to return to where one started, one is less interesting than one was at the outset; and one has a bill to pay—

Oct 29, 2011: P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here, citing a recent Gallup poll, suggests that the numbers indicate, the shenanigans of radical right-wingers notwithstanding, that America remains what it always has been: a mildly right of centre collective wary of change for change's sake, suspicious of any radical behaviour whatever the source. And yet he seems to contradict himself when he speaks, for instance, of Reagan and the dismantling of the New Deal and how vile the politics of all that has been. (In respect to social and economic legislation, an image comes to mind from one of Hemingway's novels: that one of the old fisherman having at last landed himself the fish of a lifetime. Just that, as he tows his prize back to the shore, sharks gather to feast on the thing one bite at a time, and they will leave him with nothing but a carcass, and there is little he can do about it)—I have come to the end of Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940 with relief. Despite what it has to relate, it is not a particularly well-written or even 'deeply thoughtful' book. Still, it is a record of sorts of a man essentially sane who found himself dealing with the Nazis on a daily basis in his capacity as a reporter and news broadcaster. He never got used to them, and yet, yes, he got quite familiar with them and their ways. It was a 'grind' like any other grind from which one needs strategically timed respites. By the end of the book he is lamenting the fact that Ezra Pound (whom he admired as a poet and intellectual) had gone over to the Fascists (as did a couple of colleagues of his whom he liked who wound up broadcasting sympathetically for the Nazis). One is left to conclude that Shirer, as Everyman Who Just Happens To Be Reporting On The Day's Events, in respect to the dementia, kept his head and the Pounds did not. One is also left to contemplate the possibility that something, in a relatively brief span of time - a mere seven decades - has reversed field; and what was a source of sanity in a world gone deranged is now a prime agent of madness. I leave it to you to play What's My Line? Just to say that the America in which, generally speaking, optimism and common sense were not yet thoroughly estranged from one another, is now - what? - a touch rabid, Caesaristic?—Perhaps even more telling was Shirer's worry as to what he would find when he returned to the States for good, having spent some fifteen years in Europe and Asia. Would what he identified as 'Babittry' still factor in the 'quality of life' to be had in the New World, seeing as Babittry was one cause among others that saw him seeking a life beyond his native shores, and he could refer to Paris as the city he most loved in the world? I have not come across 'Babittry' as a word in a great long time. So then, what does it signify? Smug narrow-mindedness. Unthinking attachment to—It strikes me as a rather more precise word as opposed to the hyperbolic registration of bat-s—t crazy in relation to dreary 'burbs, members of Congress, and God-awful movies. Sinclair Lewis, anyone? At the conclusion of the World Series, the deciding game seven going to the St Louis Cardinals, and it was an interesting series, to say the least, I wound up watching a little flick entitled 9 1/2 Weeks. A 'sexy', somewhat stylish 80s flick about an erotic encounter between a man and a woman as portrayed by Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. The effort garnered mixed reviews, and the negative ones seem to have been quite damning. I do not know if the 'flick' ever rises to the level of 'movie', let alone cinema, but it has its moments. (I suppose at one in the morning everything has its moments—) If we are not talking the Night Porter here, I submit that Rourke and Basinger manage to impart to their characters something more human than the mental paraphernalia of mere sexual ciphers—They are fairly ordinary people (successful in their endeavours, for the most part) who have a liking for sexual hijinks; only that Rourke is something of a collegial sadist who, for a while, has the better of his partner. The reckoning, when it comes, is a genuine reckoning of a kind. That Rourke understands he has had his chance at love, such as it is, but, preferring games, as per Lucien Freud and that sexual passion will always trump love, he also sees he is not likely to 'trust to love' any time soon. The novelty of it all having worn off for Basinger, she understands she has questions to put to herself, and it is not pretty—I await London Lunar and his separating out for me as to what is 'sexy' and what is 'erotic' - in twenty words or less—

Oct 28, 2011: Nikas, last evening. Labrosse was taken up with the hockey game, the place otherwise hopping, E on shift. There she was handing out menus to her 'clientele', her cheerful, playful mien seemingly the repudiation of everything I am about, her 'world' impervious to anything that smacks of betrayal and disillusion—She has become almost indispensable. But, barring catastrophe natural or otherwise, we will push ourselves as a species past the point of sustainability—Her cheer—My Schopenhauerian aplomb—However, the thought just broached, one that I was mulling over while at table with Labrosse - to do with how we may or may not sustain ourselves - is, I assume, a commonplace enough thought. I have no desire to push, so to speak, any sort of envelope with it. There are plenty of people about who have the stomach for hectoring the unsuspecting in respect to our wasteful, inefficient, inattentive ways—Just to say that, earlier, supper hour, and MH and I heard out a woman on the news as she confronted us with reality: the earth will soon have to accommodate seven billion or so persons, all with needs. Ah, there will be challenges, to be sure. One wondered what life was for the first twelve of our kind, or the first thousand, or the first million? A cakewalk? But there's an upside - all our wonderful technologies - the role of women—It is to say such nattering struck me as utterly absurd, given that there has been floating around in the geist for some time now a rather ghoulish suspicion; or that there will have to be a die-off of our kind if both our kind and the other life-forms are to have a chance—And what bright-eyed and bushy-tail committee of the committed would wish to handle the politics of that? Well, in a sense, one might observe that interviews for the positions have already commenced, have been on-going for a while—Quite the little variation, it is, on a theme of Calvinism—In light of which, on a scale of what truly matters, stack up a flick like Happy Gilmore against the Greek play Oedipus at Colonus, and in the eyes of the General Public the flick will win every time, as will cheesy, packaged American news broadcasts. The play is art, so the accusation tends to run, and is therefore suspect, as it is highbrow; as it is remote from life as we know it. What's an old man meandering here and there in his exile got to do with garbage collection and Xboxes? The flick, of course, has nothing to say - why should it have to say anything? - but then its having nothing to say is familiar to us; and in such familiarity, we find ourselves - should we wish to find ourselves, nothing left then but to applaud and celebrate our discoveries—So yes, Oedipus at Colonus is art. It is also a state, a condition of mind in which 'life' (as it is throughout the course of Sophocles's Theban cycle) is presented in the starkest possible terms, short of this theatre being a gun held to one's head. Eventually, it becomes apparent that, with consequence, coming to terms, and decision-making, and one is on sacred ground, no reason to trivilialize it with the self-serving cant of spiritual vanity—I read recently - most likely in Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940 - a passage in which a French politico or general of the day, Paris in the hands of the Germans, is quoted as saying (and he had Petain and France's surrender in mind), and I paraphrase: "A great country can rebound from material ruin. Moral ruin? That's another matter—" For what it's worth, if anything—But is one man's moral ruin another man's paradise? I said as much to Labrosse; he grunted. It was time for a cigarette. So I accompanied him outside where, on the corner, Labrosse had his smoke and, like a couple of easily amused empiricists, we watched the life of the street swirl about us. Otherwise, I hear of cat fights amongst Nikas waitresses. I hear that police departments have new toys with which to effect crowd control. London Lunar attended a lecture on baroque music, and it was so dull, he said, that it might have put him off baroque music, forever. Ah, art. A appeared, having just gotten off work. Without a word, she rose up on her toes and solemnly bussed each of us on the cheek. I took my leave, as Labrosse and A had their mock marriage to consummate, as ever—

Oct 27, 2011: Labrosse texted up: I'm at your front door, and I went down, inadequately sweatered, as it turned out, for the chill in the air, leaves crinkly on the pavement, the darkness seemingly absolute - as it always is when getting on winter in these parts. We trundled in tandem down Sherbrooke St, Montreal-NDG, headed for E's digs and the next viewing of Sandbaggers, but two episodes to go, and then our little fictional window on the Cold War years and its little realities will close. Enroute, Labrosse asked me if I thought with compliments signifies the offering of a gratuity, and I responded that I rather thought it did, especially when scribbled on the title page of a book of verse—In turn, I put it to Labrosse that it seemed to me events in the world had picked up pace. Had he the same impression? No, he had not. And his tone seemed pretty well decided on that score. But, on the other hand, he had not figured that European banks would cave and agree to eat half of what Greek debt they happened to be holding - so, there you go and et cetera. The thing is, there we were - two men getting on in years - gamely maintaining some illusion that we have half an inkling of what is afoot in the life around us, now that other drives are not so front and centre in our 'keeping on keeping on'. London Lunar, in the meantime, continues to enthuse over the non-fiction works of David Foster Wallace. A writing up of the John McCain presidential campaign is apparently superb. What can I say? Myself, I read a fairly lengthy article, early this morning, on the particulars of GWB's involvement with a baseball club or the Texas Rangers. Allegations are made: how this involvement parlayed into a governorship and galaxies beyond, the local and quite public treasury raided for such ends, specifically the construction costs of a new stadium for which acreage had to be expropriated—Textbook case of classic financial boondoggling—Which brings to mind yet again Charles Potts the poet's book of history How The South Finally Won the Civil War and how it suggests that this sort of thing has been going on since time immemorial in the U.S., if we take time immemorial to begin, say, in the year 1670, South Carolina - slave trade and so forth and so on—Plutocratic itches must needs be scratched plutocratically—But if one were, for instance, an economic libertarian, and I am not such a crittur, would one of necessity feel obliged to beat the drums for inequality as being healthy for the common purse? As being 'incentivizing'? Good golly, Miss Molly, but I heard as much on PBS and I was d—n near having a case of the vapours. I also read (page 136 of Robert Harris's The Ghost, a thinly veiled grab at filthy lucre by way of a political thriller) that the world had become our echo chamber as opposed to what it might have become for one's grandparents in the grand old days of radio broadcasting circa the early 40s—In any case, E, last evening, was in an expansive mood, playing hostess, she at the controls of the wine cow, a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. A struck me as pensive, but then she is about to relocate to Vancouver, which will necessitate a thorough-going reorientation of her centre of gravity vis a vis sun and moon and any near to hand supernova. Only in Canada—Labrosse was deep in his elder statesman mode. That is to say, as E reported that she is soon to be interviewed by a publisher for a translating gig - cookbooks French to English, Labrosse let it be known that she would have to learn French; the imputation being that her French remains inadequate to anything but the asking of street directions. "I know I'm a severe critic of you," he said, federalist and bilingual to the core, "but then what winning coach doesn't go hard on his players?" Perhaps there was something of a glint of whatever in the subsequent rolling of E's eyes. Just now, as I sit here in Nikas scribbling in a notebook, Larry the software entrepreneur advises me that he wishes to reconsider his upcoming Halloween night regalia. Forget gadding about as 'a smart man'. He will gad about as the village idiot: more in keeping with his true nature. What I cannot yet expunge from my mind: the way, in respect to the World Series, the cameras keep panning the visages of Nolan Ryan (he who pitched seven, count 'em, seven no-hitters) and wife and GWB in their front and centre seats. The beating heart of something or other. Virgilian. Dos Passos. And: the ceremony of innocence, as per Yeats. And, but of course, the centre has not held. It is not so much any longer what it is one could be should you and et cetera, but it is what you are not, now and forever more—

Oct 27, 2011: Labrosse texted up: I'm at your front door, and I went down, inadequately sweatered, as it turned out, for the chill in the air, leaves crinkly on the pavement, the darkness seemingly absolute - as it always is when getting on winter in these parts. We trundled in tandem down Sherbrooke St, Montreal-NDG, headed for E's digs and the next viewing of Sandbaggers, but two episodes to go, and then our little fictional window on the Cold War years and its little realities will close. Enroute, Labrosse asked me if I thought with compliments signifies the offering of a gratuity, and I responded that I rather thought it did, especially when scribbled on the title page of a book of verse—In turn, I put it to Labrosse that it seemed to me events in the world had picked up pace. Had he the same impression? No, he had not. And his tone seemed pretty well decided on that score. But, on the other hand, he had not figured that European banks would cave and agree to eat half of what Greek debt they happened to be holding - so, there you go and et cetera. The thing is, there we were - two men getting on in years - gamely maintaining some illusion that we have half an inkling of what is afoot in the life around us, now that other drives are not so front and centre in our 'keeping on keeping on'. London Lunar, in the meantime, continues to enthuse over the non-fiction works of David Foster Wallace. A writing up of the John McCain presidential campaign is apparently superb. What can I say? Myself, I read a fairly lengthy article, early this morning, on the particulars of GWB's involvement with a baseball club or the Texas Rangers. Allegations are made: how this involvement parlayed into a governorship and galaxies beyond, the local and quite public treasury raided for such ends, specifically the construction costs of a new stadium for which acreage had to be expropriated—Textbook case of classic financial boondoggling—Which brings to mind yet again Charles Potts the poet's book of history How The South Finally Won the Civil War and how it suggests that this sort of thing has been going on since time immemorial in the U.S., if we take time immemorial to begin, say, in the year 1670, South Carolina - slave trade and so forth and so on—Plutocratic itches must needs be scratched plutocratically—But if one were, for instance, an economic libertarian, and I am not such a crittur, would one of necessity feel obliged to beat the drums for inequality as being healthy for the common purse? As being 'incentivizing'? Good golly, Miss Molly, but I heard as much on PBS and I was d—n near having a case of the vapours. I also read (page 136 of Robert Harris's The Ghost, a thinly veiled grab at filthy lucre by way of a political thriller) that the world had become our echo chamber as opposed to what it might have become for one's grandparents in the grand old days of radio broadcasting circa the early 40s—In any case, E, last evening, was in an expansive mood, playing hostess, she at the controls of the wine cow, a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. A struck me as pensive, but then she is about to relocate to Vancouver, which will necessitate a thorough-going reorientation of her centre of gravity vis a vis sun and moon and any near to hand supernova. Only in Canada—Labrosse was deep in his elder statesman mode. That is to say, as E reported that she is soon to be interviewed by a publisher for a translating gig - cookbooks French to English, Labrosse let it be known that she would have to learn French; the imputation being that her French remains inadequate to anything but the asking of street directions. "I know I'm a severe critic of you," he said, federalist and bilingual to the core, "but then what winning coach doesn't go hard on his players?" Perhaps there was something of a glint of whatever in the subsequent rolling of E's eyes. Just now, as I sit here in Nikas scribbling in a notebook, Larry the software entrepreneur advises me that he wishes to reconsider his upcoming Halloween night regalia. Forget gadding about as 'a smart man'. He will gad about as the village idiot: more in keeping with his true nature. What I cannot yet expunge from my mind: the way, in respect to the World Series, the cameras keep panning the visages of Nolan Ryan (he who pitched seven, count 'em, seven no-hitters) and wife and GWB in their front and centre seats. The beating heart of something or other. Virgilian. Dos Passos. And: the ceremony of innocence, as per Yeats. And, but of course, the centre has not held. It is not so much any longer what it is one could be should you and et cetera, but it is what you are not, now and forever more—

Oct 26, 2011: London Lunar now swears by Authority and America Usage, which it is an essay by David Foster Wallace on lexicography and ideology. What can I say? Shades of Salinger? Or that despite the Flakesville looks - what with the bandanas - DFW was Squaresville, a church-goer? My attentions, yesterday, were otherwise taken up for a brief spell by the sight of a fellow gadding about in his electric wheelchair deluxe. There he was suited up for the breezes in his voluminous army parka, he in a holding pattern in front of the laundromat; he chug-a-lugging something hot and nourishing, no doubt, from a flask, leaves drifting down and about his hulking presence. Every now and then a woman emerged from the venue to have words with him. Perhaps she was ministering to his laundry. "Enjoy," I said to no one in particular, "it won't last." I believe I meant to take a swipe at the finite nature of government programs, but it is possible I meant to signify something else, something a bit more 'existential' in scope. Parked nearby at the side of the bank was a white Vespa with red seat and trim, a jaunty looking machine. It was so ebullient there, even in its state of rest. In its state of rest, it seemed to thumb its nose at some famous law of physics, and in so doing, it threatened to return to my lexicon the word 'gay'. Could be that a high-spirited bank girl is its owner-operator, she cutting a figure as she vespa's from A to B in Montreal-NDG or further afield in a galaxy beyond—Reading in Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940, I came across the expression drôle de guerre, or 'faux war' (to do with a period of time between the German invasion of Poland - September, 1939 - up until the Battle of France - May, 1940). In other words a state of war existed between Germany and Britain and France; just that the allies had yet to conduct any military operation other than to leaflet, Churchill a touch restive—In any case, it put me in mind of another 'sharp recollection' brought about by the change of season. Armistice Day. Red poppies. Vets. Mickeys. Export A's. Middle-aged party girls in cheap furs. And there I am in my taxi-cab driving the whole lot of it around from hotel to hotel at an early morning hour, Vancouver, eastside; and 'Canada' seems to be most itself. Male eyes on the main chance, hands on amiable nylon knees, powerful memories going on in the background—When I had enough of Shirer and Hitler and Hitler's revenge - or how, at Compiêgne, he parodied to a 't' the signing of the Versailles Treaty (WWI), or that which had humiliated the Germans - I picked up the guitar and took a crack at cheap flamenco. I pondered the aesthetics of cheap flamenco. The transition from the A minor chord to the G6 - by way of a hammer-on note on the first string, first position - elicits such an instance of pathos, however alien it is to the American mind, that I find it overwhelming, eerily satisfying. There is nothing like it that I know of in blues, though blues is not a pathos-free zone. Whence this pathos? Of course, I poke fun at myself, should you wonder. Moreover, my mode of attack, when it comes to Malaguena, is best described as a contest of wills between 'restraint' and 'full-blown histrionic' - in other words, risible; and yet there is something in the air (something seriously amiss) which the cheap flamenco addresses and the blues does not. Beats me. Shirer in his book sometimes catches himself out, as when he stereotypes the Germans of his day, particularly in the first weeks of the war and they are flush with their military successes, as having gotten brutish. They became objects of loathing to him, even if, as a professional journalist, it behooved him to keep his head above such waters. Now and then in Tacitus one comes across a passage reeking of value judgment, and one says, well now, here's bad history; even if the historian is piling on his own: Romans making deserts and calling them peace. And then one observes that, hang on a second, there is truth in it - what with those Germans, what with those Romans; and yes, any people anytime anywhere are easily enough wrenched about and turned inside out by cheap thrills and propaganda. Speaking of which - morning. Nikas. I can report that Alexandra the waitress and I have managed to have a human exchange. I will say no more lest I jinx further exchanges. Enter Irish harpy and retinue. Irish harpy will go and inspect the washrooms. Irish harpy's girlfriend and fellow resident in the apartment complex will joke that she nearly ran off with Irish harpy's husband. Husband will bow his head and meekly respond that it is only a joke. Son will start whinge-ing. Some fabulous new electronic thingamajig is not so fabulous. Convenience and enslavement have never before in human history been so tightly interwoven—And there is not much crawl space to be had between the visionary and the pharaoh—Irish harpy: "Jesus f—king Christ, you don't say—"

Oct 25, 2011: Hedges's October 24th critique for Truthdig (at one of those dot.com rabbit holes where prize-winning journalists now doss down) of the 60s and the New Left and assorted counter cultures and unaligned human debris comes off fair enough. To paraphrase: however well-intentioned all of it may have been, it was essentially hollow; anything resembling self-discipline and moral fibre seemed in short supply. Then he is at pains to characterize the Occupy Wall Street movement as anything but hollow and moribund - there - in the sweetheart clutches of unfettered narcissism. Well, I am an old hedonist such as he would hold up to the light of day and expose as an enemy of the people; but then, I, too, (as leery as I am of rank ideologues) have often enough lamented the demise of the Old Guard when it comes to things left of centre; that this demise brought about a vacuum that has never been properly compensated for, no, not even by feminists; and so forth and so on; and yes, liberals sold out to life-style and phony art; which is another way of saying 'me, me, me' and morally ascendant selfish twits playing the PC game, and those who live by that particular sword shall - and all that; and here, here's my calling card: transfigured toe, painted thing, testing the waters of Blissful Beingness, you savvy? Cool, eh? I might further suggest that my experience of the current generation of the best and brightest, as I hobnob amongst them in local watering holes, does not arouse in me any stirrings of hope for the as yet unborn, let alone the living—One used to turn one's back on Europe, as Europe was stuffy, rotten, guilty of overweening war and imperialism and genocide and ____, be my guest, you fill in the blank; and one embraced all things North American for its being a happening place, spontaneous; as having a future; as having quite a time of it free of those boring, old hypocrisies. Man oh man. One might say: "How the mighty have fallen", just that the sentiment is not quite on the money, at least not yet. Come on, Mr Hedges, why not just say it's been all Flakesville, and have done with it, but that Flakesville is still a going concern and isn't about to pack it in anytime soon—Kydde reports on an open mike session at the Torriano House, London, where poets are known to roost on occasion for an evening of fun and games, eccentrics out in full force. Musty, fusty place - tattered furniture. Kydde's kind of ambience. Peculiar hats. Glinty-eyed vixens. The open mike offerings tended, he said, toward the dull, but were not inimical to craft; whereas, so Kydde opined, their American counterparts would most likely have tended toward an extravagantly wrought absence of the same. Apparently, Foulard not only read; he performed. Thistle has had nothing to report; just that he and Mrs Thistle continue to observe a cardinal rule: one martini per day no matter where, no matter what, even in the outback—Larry the software entrepreneur reports that he is stepping out for Halloween, this year, in regalia. He will rig himself out as a 'smart guy'. The thought sends chills up my spine—This tells us, if nothing else will, to what a pretty pass it is that we have come—

Oct 24, 2011: London Lunar, with an hour to pass, called from the airport (Trudeau), last evening. He reiterated his observations on the David Foster Wallace essays; and while he said he found the man's novel unreadable for the most part, the essays prove him to have been of a calibre other than that of fomenters of Booker Prize lollapaloozas. He went on to describe some very strange lives of his acquaintance in an Ontar-I-O hinterland town where he had been visiting. It is not so far as all that from Ottawa. I am not at liberty at divulge what was described; just that it is the stuff of grotesqueries far more grotesque than any horror thriller the movie people routinely dream up. Ah well, poetry—And we talked some poetry, yes we did, and then the death, or murder, of Colonel G the despot: was it an auspicious death, or murder? Was it only a call-note for imminent failure in nation-building? As if it could possibly matter to any Libyan what thoughts we might have on the subject—I was in the middle of teaching myself a few parlour tricks on the guitar - cheap flamenco stunt - a mystery of three notes on the B-string - how best to strike them - when London Lunar rang. I was not about to give him rope with which to hang me - flamenco? really? Malaguena? - good God - and I was not about to expose him to a rant on how it is the internet makes us all tourists of the once unassailable urge to broaden one's horizons. But I was wondering into what sort of madness I was descending, and then here was London Lunar rattling on about his new found optimism in regards to the human spirit. Optimism? Really? That people aren't so bad as all that? He had his next book on his mind, a biography of sorts, in which he will treat with the life of a friend with whom he had enjoyed turbulent relations. That this friend, deceased now, had been a mad American who transplanted himself to London way back when; who was Coleridge, if you will, and Byron rolled into one entity; whose hatred of everything American probably stemmed from the fact he had a horror for a mother, but whose critical faculties were nonetheless considerable for all that and not dismissible. Americans can never stop being Americans, just as Brits can never be anything but British, and Germans - good heavens - and Canadians—But I have not the mental resources with which to do this subject adequate justice. In any case, London Lunar, speaking of his friend's journals that he has been studying for some time now: "His most tender and warm memories have to do with American girls and American places—" It was good of London Lunar to call, MH away, and I in an odd duck mood, noodling on the guitar, the World Series on TV. A young pitcher was pitching himself one of those games that he will never forget: a shut-out into the ninth. Happy kid. Apropos of nothing: The highest form of vanity is love of fame. It is a passion easy to deride but hard to understand, and in men who live at all by imagination almost impossible to eradicate—Santayana—Morning. Nikas. The Albanian waitress with the startling eyes. She is one of those (eastern) European women who have, perhaps, too high a regard for the intellectual male. Were I an honest fellow I would point out to her that I am not so intellectual as all that; as for the 'male' business, it is self-evident enough. Even so, she is a sensible creature; her attentions in respect to the state of my coffee cup are straightforward and honourable, and they do not cloy. The radio is set at blessed silence. There is a humming of fans and fridge motors, but hey—In a bit of pulp called The Ghost, a Robert Harris thriller, the writing venally slick, the author does offer an important observation: that what some people mistakenly consider a writer's paradise - some windswept seaside cottage impervious to intrusions from the outside world - is actually hell on earth, and things can be a little too quiet. The act of writing in the country, and I have had ample opportunity to write in the country, strikes me as unnatural, an offence against birds and babbling brooks—

Oct 23, 2011: That time of year. Snap in the air. Commonplace words and sentiment, but there you have it. One is tempted to so something ridiculous, such as the writing of a few verses— I just might be able to restrain myself. It is also a commonplace, I am sure, how the changing of the seasons spawns memories. The sharpest of those, so far as 'memory' and 'autumn' and myself are concerned, and for reasons not entirely clear to me, come of cross-country running through the woods, high school basketball try-outs, and tossing a football around after dark with my best buddy of the time who was a dour and pious Pole. And Buddenbrooks. Which it is a novel Thomas Mann wrote in another age, which I read at age fourteen or fifteen or thereabouts, and it was the first book of prose fiction to truly take hold of my imagination; and only the prose fiction of Proust, Lampedusa and the usual suspects among the Russians had a similar effect. Late teens, and I was beginning to read the Americans in depth, mostly with pleasure; but the experience, as it were, and how shall I put it, was more collegial than anything else. The whole of my existence was not put on hold for the duration of the 'read'. Other works by Mann 'interested' me, yes, but they seem to have left no indelible mark on my nervous system, not as did Buddenbrooks. Had it to do with the writing? Or the age I was when I read it? Receptive spirit unclouded with all sorts of critical axes to grind? As for poetry - well - as for poetry—I have no poet hero, so to speak; I have had my time with Yeats, Eliot, Pound et al, Rilke for a while, Cavafy. It is perhaps more a matter of convenience than it is the product of any critical acumen on my part, but 'Homer', I suppose, push come to shove, is my poetry god, the one who, as I read 'him', most seizes me by the scruff and goes to town; although there have been times when I would have allotted Virgil or Dante or Shakespeare that pride of place. Virgil has, if you will pardon a dicey choice of word, 'haunted' me, but how much of that has to do with Virgil as Virgil the poet and not Virgil qua Rome qua America, I cannot say. It is through the aforementioned poets, along with various historians, especially Tacitus, that I pretty much see the world; and as invaluable as the works of certain contemporaries are, they do not supercede, at least for me, the 'classics'. Which some people lump all together and, eh voila, the canon, 'canon' being one of those distancing words designed to get you off the hook: hey, look, you don't have to take this stuff terribly seriously - it's just there - like the coliseum - tourist drop-off - a way of killing time until lunch - knock yourself out —Otherwise, no, I am no classicist much less a scholar. I aim to win no arguments that I have, in any case, already lost, lost years ago, when I saw that 1), my dialectical skills were poor and not likely to improve - lack of interest; and 2) that I simply believe that much of what goes on in life is beyond language as such, and all that one can do is suggest. And one can go to great lengths to suggest—That my impulse is primarily lyric - the passing of time, the registration of beauty however randomly experienced, and the rest of it - well - the rest of it - I suppose one can read Marx or Brian Fawcett for the way the world works. Or, if you are really up for punishment, there is always Atwood. That boy running through the woods on a chill, late afternoon - I imagine that that he was me, and who is to say this he was never more himself than in that hour or so in which it took to peel off ten of the hundred miles he needed to clock before the basketball coach would take him seriously as a contender for the position of starting guard? The leaves on the path, the ground hardening up—The smell of it all—Enough.  Or I won't be able to stand myself. Libya in hand, Syria next. It will be vicious. P.M. Carpenter, Prominent Political Commentator to the south of here, cannot have many fuses left to blow in respect to the Republican party and its self-immolation—I contended with my hangover, yesterday, by teaching myself to play, after a fashion, a couple of old chestnuts arranged for the guitar: Lullaby of Birdland and Just A Closer Walk With Thee. I do not believe I have ever seemed so nonsensical to myself. London Lunar reports that, by chance, in the middle of some Ontar-I-O hinterland, he came across a collection of essays penned by a certain David Foster Wallace, and one at least of them he pronounced brilliant, and the others of interest, the inference being that the man had good instincts and was not such a self-indulgent twit as he had seemed from time to time, just uneven—

Oct 22, 2011: I see that I did, in fact, scribble notes, but I am unable to decipher them. I can just make out Alberta. Harper. Oil. Liberals. Gelded. Chretien. How it is he is perhaps manful enough to accept responsibility for this or that chicanery as transpired 'under his watch' as the once and future prime minister of this or that NeverNeverLand. Labrosse seems to think so, in any case. It would seem I had company, last evening. Labrosse himself. Literary Thug. The Moesian. And at the conclusion of her Nikas shift, E. It all began innocently enough at Nikas over dinner. A crew of stalwarts having assembled, it soon enough began to go on about a great deal. Or so the wine cow suggests. Or else I am flattering us in the aggregate. That courage is finite. Yes, well, so is everything else under the sun, or so a guffawing Labrosse was at some pains to establish as a truth. Or was it the Moesian who was doomed to repeat Santayana's aside in respect to those who do not recall their history will be doomed to repeat it—A scurvy bit of moralizing, that elitist tag—There was mention made of a certain essay (in the current issue of Harpers) on a theme of remembrance, this in respect to 9/11 and the Ground Zero memorial; or how, indeed, and let's get this straight: nothing and no one is remembered forever. That, in fact, memory is a weapon of mass destruction in the sense that over-long memory, the carrying of a grudge, foments strife, or, at the very least, tribal shenanigans—So get your pre-frontal lobes excised here—Yes, and writers ought to write as if dead. Good God in heaven, what does that mean? News of this will, no doubt, startle a few CanLit types—The Moesian seemed to know what it meant, he who has it in his heart to chuck his Facebook account in the Lachine Canal and may even do so. It means - yes - it means - come on—Literary Thug defended the internet inasmuch as it was through the agency of the internet that he met his wife and has been enjoying the boon of domestic felicity. There is no other way it could have come about - this felicity of his? Well, we must cut the man slack as he rivals Richard Burton in his ability to declaim a poem—However the Moesian was skeptical, being of Serbo-Croat stock, inasmuch as love is a numbers game - yes - but - we are all in concurrence there - so then - potluck - oh - Literary Thug's point exactly - that the internet improves the odds—The Moesian perhaps was born cynical - this sort of talent is not an affectation with him - and it is one reason why I befriend the man. He's a natural. And E? She was passionate about - what? It slips the mind. E? Passionate? Is she not then memorable? Are any of us the stuff of what is considered worthy of a plinth, a stele, a plaque? Labrosse, making a bid for senior statesman status, beat a timely retreat before things got out of hand. That is to say, a long dinner at Nikas was good enough for him, no need for the postprandializing - to coin a word. Perhaps he feared the evening would degenerate once I came into proximity with my guitar. Well, I have news for him—He did seem to think that politicians, as a whole, are unfairly demonized. You might go to Washington with good intentions, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but then, at some point, the game grinds you down - it is not about inherent evil—And Berlin, say, 1933, speaking of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? Did Hitler impose himself? Was he not welcomed at the outset? However Labrosse did allow that the American voting public had best get off their collective butts and, and, and - or it will have no one else to blame but itself for the perfidy that is enroute—Even I had something or other to say on this score, but —But one soldiers on. I do recall that I was buttonholed at some point, last evening, by Eddie, owner-cook, Nikas his command. He asked me what the problem was. The other owner-cook, George, sees me frequenting other establishments of late and is at a loss to account for it. So, what gives, eh? I had a case to make and I made it. Eddie said, "Leave it to me, I'll fix it." So yes, morning, Nikas. The radio at acceptable decibels. Alexandra the waitress who has every right to her insufferable moodiness - that it was never the issue, this moodiness of hers - even aims to be pleasant. One must reciprocate. Now if only I can recall what exercised the mind of E who was delighted to hold forth amongst her gentleman friends, last evening—Sex? Aboriginals? Their mind-set? Montreal as city state? Sex? The French-English thing? Hmmmm. The rest of Canada? As in the poor sods out there? Who are so effing patronizing? Such colourful folk - those Quebeckers?—Good for the tourist trade—

Oct 21, 2011: I did not believe it when it was first put to me, and I do not believe it now: that Canadians dearly love poetry, so much so they will read themselves to sleep with the stuff come the long winter nights. 1968 and the country (or what I knew of it then as Alberta and British Columbia - or, you know, the west) seemed a grand place, sane but not tediously so. Hope and regard for the future did not come off as absurd notions, as mere staples of speeches old fuddie-duddies were wont to make. And even poetry as such had discernable traction; and there was a time when poetics as such, before it hardened into border control, had legs and even leg to show. And yet I have only witnessed - within the parameters of this nation-state - two spontaneous eruptions of poetry ever. Once in Vancouver: dreary waterfront beer parlour: old Brit cum logger swacked out of his gourd on green beer and Tennyson, lights a Rothman and cheerfully declaims. Often in Montreal-NDG: another old Brit the culprit, this one possessed of a prodigious memory for verse, Tennyson included: he pokes a bony finger in the air and soldiers on, in iambics. It has been my experience that sensible persons of a literary cast of mind, and this would include poets themselves, do not lend themselves to spontaneous eruptions of poetry - it is simply not done (as if poets are terrified of poetry or despise its unscheduled presence); but one can go on about any sports hero or HBO series slut until hell freezes over. Perfectly acceptable hoe-down behaviour. Poetry channelling poetry of a kind. And I am quite capable of the same, myself, but who is going to link up Gordie Howe to Pindar? George Johnston, I suppose, was one of those poets Canadians were not meant to hear about: any number of claques saw to that - in the name of superior poetics and other theoretical concerns. Oh, Johnston was an academic of some sort, a scholar, too; purveyor of Icelandic sagas; and God knows I often enough rag on academe, and with lots of justification; just that sometimes, even deep in the fustier nooks and crannies of said academe, one might chance across an authentic beating heart for whom poetry, and not just some fantasia of the thing, truly does matter. A tip of the hat then to Porcupine Quill's publication of the George Johnston-William Blisset correspondence: Inward of Poetry. Otherwise, a senior pariah and popinjay of this our world, not the latest poet-manque the equal of Dante, is dead, and he would be Colonel G. TV images of his corpse put me in mind of Mussolini's death as well as certain pages of Tacitus to do with Galba, for example, or Nero. P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, contends that sectionalism and its politics in the days of Lincoln has nothing on the right wing radicals of the moment, but he seems to believe there will  be no reconstitution of a doctrinaire left, no renascence of the believe in the quaint old belief of the perfectibility of man; and that it is, to some extent, to be lamented, given that (in Carpenter's estimation) the Occupy Wall Street movement will fizzle and fade.

Oct 20, 2011: Yesterday, I let a local purveyor of secondhand thrillers talk me into a purchase of Robert Harris's The Ghost. It is not that I am sweet on the writings of Harris - far from it, though I enjoyed his rather formulaic treatment of Cicero; just that the old dear (the purveyor) had taken the trouble to set the book aside for me, and (near to the point of harassment) I have been at her for weeks to keep an eye out for any Patrick O'Brians. Of course, I have only to go on the internet in order to effect a purchase of the one book I am missing so as to complete my collection of the Aubrey-Maturin series; but then, that is precisely what I am, if somewhat histrionically, endeavouring to avoid. I am not in principle opposed to the idea of computers and all things related, but the fait accompli all of it has wrought upon the world is anathema to me. We will regret this development - sooner or later. In any case, the book's selling point, to go by the blurbs and the tone of the book - its predictable flippant patter, as it were, or dialogue (as if we all go to bed flippant and wake up from said bed flippant, middle finger in prime flip position) is to transport one to the real world - without misstep, without cause for anxiety, without need of a second opinion. You have your Shakespeare. Fine. Got your Tacitus? Well and good. But we, we put you where the money is; and where the money is the real world comes into focus; as there the money goes, no questions asked (save for concerns over profit margins and who happens to remember where the bodies are buried). The old, the discarded worlds are not missed, not even for a nano-instance of time, no matter what antiquarians, what sentimentalists like myself say. Though I am tempted, I cannot even claim the distinction of having been marginalized - by what? - by energies not amenable to my preferences? Market forces pass through my body like so many neutrinos—Morning in Drunkin Donuts. Stalwarts here, however marginalized, have pride of place exuding from every libertarian pore of whatever carcass they are packing about on their frames. The way in which they fetishize language is at least not compromised by collusion with academe such as produces verse unassailable to any method of critique save art speak. Otherwise, this place with its awfully glossy posters of trendy yogurt concoctions palls. It is as if no one on the premises has the wit to realize one is depressed to the point of homicidal rage - that is, if one had the wherewithal for rage, perhaps because one is too busy being real. The Italian contingent, for example, is on about pensions and retirement packages. No way this crew will ever be caught out by insufficient attention to detail, eye on the bouncing eight-ball that is reality. Ah, the gravy train. I believe the last time I heard those words I had yet to shave, the words almost antediluvian in savour, words bespeaking Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in The Sweet Smell of Success, a great flick that pulled no punches once upon a time. "When he turned fifty-five, before he got his pension - I mean, I've been in his house - Jesus Christ - sitting pretty - the way he got his ducks in a row—" "Yes, but - mille duecento - nobody gets that much—" Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to—Mark Twain.

Oct 19, 2011: Morning, and I am at table in Drunkin' Donuts. Perhaps, it is my natural milieu, after all; or that I have been putting on airs all these years, hanging about Nikas and the pretenders and the darlings on display in that venue. Here, insanity may be writ large in the patrons, but there is no insane radio with which to contend; no cow of a waitress with whom one cannot reason. It is even a welcoming of a kind, how some old gentleman notes my presence and objects to it with quite audible disdain - in Italian argot, a gesture thrown in for good measure, lest there be any mistaking the drift: a tip of the fingers to the temple of the head signifying pazzo, effing hippie. London Lunar reports that he has been reading the recently published Bill Blisset-George Johnston correspondence, and is impressed with it. These men understood the value of language, unlike Bowering & CO who simply made a circus of the same. I might add that, to some extent, the aforementioned holding company tended to fetishize the item in question, which is what one does when one is in uneasy relations with its power source, or the imperium, or that sometimes affectionate but plenty vicious behemoth to the south of here. One shows off one's legging now and then so as to ritually and posteriorially submit; so as to demonstrate that one is friendly, non-threatening, even endearing to a plausible extent. Mountie jokes still persist on CBS—In any case, given my new bearings, I am a tad disorientated just now; I appear to be looking at the 'bratwurst' terrasse from the wrong end of a telescope. And yes, the place is under renovation. Cause for worry. How will this affect prices? Is Jamal putting on the ritz? Kitty corner is Nikas, my old 'office'. I have lost track of the managements that have come and gone there, none of whom I had difficulty with - a testament to my endless tact, my boundless social skills. Laugh, if you will, but it is somewhat discombobulating - this new purchase on a view of the neighbourhood. It is as if one is of a sudden permitted a glimpse of the other side of a theatre set or the dark side of the moon; one expects to come across all the gears and wires of various gizmos that render a tableau possible; and instead, one apprehends a world contiguous to the one that has long been familiar; and it has vistas, this new world, and those vistas extend to far distant horizons—Put a sock on it. One didn't get here by way of the Niña, the Pinta, the Santa María, nor by that black Hummer that has drugs or CIA or both written all over it—Otherwise, whether or not the Occupy Wall Street movement will amount to anything, it is an attempt to draw a line in the vagaries of sand. And in this our age of instant euphemism, it might be worth noting that, September 1, 1939, and Germans were no stranger to a challenge. It had to do with theatre: a fake assault by ersatz Poles on a German radio station so as to justify the German incursion into Polish territory. You take some concentration camp inmates; you trick them out in Polish army uniforms; you drug them and then shoot them at the scene of the 'raid'; you leave the bodies lying about for the world to see and draw a conclusion or two. Those dastardly Pole the stand-ins for which the 'Nazi thugs' had code, or Canned Goods. In other words, I continue my perusal of Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940. Elsewhere, I read - it is the venting of a political scientist at Hofstrada U - that the past three decades (or the Reagan-Obama continuum) have been but nightmare years; and it is all his 'young' students have known; who thereby cannot see that once upon a time the 'dream' was a viable reality. A stretch, perhaps, on the part of this dyspeptic academic. But a stretch not entirely devoid of a semblance of truth.

Oct 18, 2011: Labrosse a no show, the girls and I had the Sandbaggers all to ourselves, and for an extra episode, at that. Shssh. Don't tell Labrosse. The girls have been getting pretty sweet on sour Burnside. It beats me as to why. Perhaps because he was, in the late 70s, the last male of any particular persuasion to have testicles not pickled in empty machismo and to have kept his head? Could be. He certainly was not what one might deem a 'nice guy'; nothing cuddly in his bag of tricks. In any case, I suppose this crush the girls have is a retro gesture of some sort, something they can spiritually afford, whatever 'retro' signifies at this particular moment. I just served up a retro fit myself, having informed Alexandra the waitress here in Nikas that I aimed to install a frontier mentality in the place by way of ripping the effing speaker from the wall if the decibels did not start easing off. Who wants shrill furniture ads first thing in one's dubious day? I read that Greeks work longer and for less return than anyone else in Europe and yet, it is they who are blamed for what the bankers have wrought by way of their - in a word - greed. No getting around it - that, in a word, greed, though apologists for the system will tell you greed has nothing to do with anything - never has, never will. It is about numbers whizzing around in some fifth dimension, and only a certain elite is privy to this world and how its physics works, so keep your hoi polloi snout out of it. Even so, will Alexandra punish me for what, no doubt, goes hard on her relations in the motherland, cretinism her weapon of choice, her idea of levelling the playing field? Earlier this morning, MH reports to me that a high mucky muck investment counsellor has come out in support of the Occupy Wall Street crowd; it is his thinking that unless democracy in some form or another is returned to the voters, the banks will sink what remains of the republic. It is in my mind that the banks will have a little help from their friends in this regard, just as civilization is not a one-man job, as per old Ezra. In The Nightmare Years 1930-1940, Poland about to dismembered once again, Hitler nonetheless is undergoing a crisis of nerves: he might have Stalin sewn up for the time being, but the Brits are wandering off the reservation and even Mussolini is getting his lines wrong, evidently missing a cue card or two—News broadcasters are scrambling all over the map so as to best position themselves for a scoop. The girls, last evening, allowed for the fact that they had not 'lived' the Cold War, but that they could appreciate its dynamics somewhat through an exercise of intellect on their part. Debatable. But there it is. I muttered something to the effect that the lesson to be drawn from the Sandbaggers show as history is that with the abrupt departure of any major player (the Soviet Union) on any major theatrical set, symmetries are disturbed; turbulences are spawned; and, eh voila, an America punch drunk on the turbulences has been lurching about this past while, besotted sailor—Hmmm. Could be. But A of a sudden discovered she had knickers to wash and E had her tresses to idly tug as she surveyed such millenial tides as throw humankind for its loops, she a mermaid on a rock. I was then duly bussed and thanked, and they took their leave. As per the schoolmarmish Mr Cole who writes daily on foreign affairs, emphasis on the Middle East, character explains very little, if anything, as to what boots it; only historical forces apply to why our realities shape up as they will and so, and so, the fetching picture of a girl tugging on her tresses throughout eternity is only that - a postcard, and it says nothing about the price of a Persian rug in Istanbul and nothing about that drone whirring overhead—Or, as that ass Sartre would have it: there is no human nature because 'man' was nothing in the beginning (meaning that he is an entirely self-willed operation), and there was never any God to have conceived of him. Meaning that there has been nothing outside of man to ever witness an instance of 'human nature' - hence and therefore—I give up. Muskrat Ramble beckons.

Oct 17, 2011: We found ourselves, MH and I, watching a not awful but not great movie, yesterday afternoon. In it Johnny Depp portrays J.M. Barrie, the diminutive fellow who dreamed up Peter Pan and a powerful argument for why anyone, in their right mind, would ever submit to the blandishments and seductions of adulthood. For all that, I have only known one person who carried a lifelong love of the story well into his 80s, and he was Peter MacFarlane, a fellow Scots diminutive to Mr Barrie. He confessed this 'lifelong love' to me either in Nikas or at 'bratwurst' over whisky or wine, no doubt; and I did not inwardly snicker or otherwise outwardly roll my eyes as he rattled on about having to grow up. There is sentimentality and outright stupidity, and there is 'sentiment'; and some sentiments are worth having. In any case the movie features a scene in which clowns and harlequin-like creatures dance with one another for some reason or another - I am not sure which; and MH deemed it a good scene, one worth the price of admission; and I happened to then idly mutter something along the lines that the clown figure, perhaps, in mind, body, heart and soul is the purest distillation possible of a paradox, or that clowns simultaneously inhabit reality with all its pain and horrors, and the imaginary - what with all its escapes, with all its getting the better of reality. Are we not, willynilly, clowns every single one of us? To be sure, I have long since grown weary of the vapid chatter on the part of arty types who constantly hype the 'imaginary' (so as to fortify both their egos and their little fiefdoms); that the imaginary is redemptive, transformative, yada yada, and so forth and so on; but it also goes without saying: life that has nothing of the truly imagined in it is impossible and hellish. Nasty, brutish, short are words that come to mind. Which leads me to note that I read Mr Hedges latest column, this morning (this Pulitzer-winning journalist appears to be the Occupy Wall Street crowd's most lucid champion); and he did pile on, chiding somewhat schoolmarmishly the liberal class and its selling out the farm and its failure to honour its duty whereby it performs functions of conscience in respect to the state (and he does mean the infamous corporate state); and by liberals Mr Hedges also signifies artists and academics who, through various collusionary activities, and among other of their achievements, award phony art and poetry pride of place over anything genuine, bad art and poetry not necessarily criminal, just unfortunate. Which leads me to further note, apropos of something or other, that the PX in Iraq is closing down and so, this spells the end of America's military adventure there; which it was a debacle born of a fantasy, fantasy being the abdication of reality, whereas the imaginary at least acknowledges that reality has its claims. Kydde has written me to say that he enjoyed my blues-playing for him, last week; that it 'soothed him'. This worries me. The thought that I could soothe anyone for any reason and with any effect flies in the face of how it is I view myself: nothing pretty. Had I the ability to play something of Bach or Mozart or Debussy on the guitar, I would, and then perhaps 'soothing' might actually signify, as opposed to Robert Johnson's Hellhound on My Trail— I would like to think the best of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but I do not see Wall Street and its congressional step and fetch it boys and girls coming to their senses anytime soon, no matter what Main Street has to say about anything. In other words, tomorrow, next month or ten years from now, barring any sort of co-optation of the energies involved or crackdown on the same, things will necessarily come to loggerheads—

Oct 16, 2011: In idle conversation with MH over supper, it was noted that should she and I wish to remove ourselves from the 'grid' along with our combined wealth (which does not amount to much); and should sufficient numbers of other people desire to do the same, the bankers would have laws passed rendering this sort of thing illegal—Like I said, idle conversation, with no claim to serious thought. Even so, it was also noted that a Czech acquaintance of MH had recently suggested to her that socialism (communism?) destroyed Czech art and, horrors, Czech beer. But then - hang on - perhaps the capitalists more properly rate the bragging rights to such a feat. Or else, between the two of them - capitalism and communism each a contender for humankind's Most Preferred Excuse for Cocking Up the World - the integrity of two items that make life worth living, or art and beer, was grievously compromised. Yes, and now that all the classical indicators for the imminence of full blown fascism are flashing red, green or chartreuse, or some cautionary orange in more than one nation-state of Judeo-Christian savour, shall idle conversation continue to hold sway at supper and the pertinent drolleries have pride of place along with 'pass the salt'? In The Nightmare Years 1930-1940, William Shirer characterized Mussolini's invasion of Albania as a shabby little aggression, a fanfare for the modern modern modern world, which it is a rationale for a perpetual Case White, or Hitler's code name for his shabbiness vis a vis Poland, a Poland whose military was too pig-headed to understand that it was in a great deal of peril from the Germans. Yes, and what Hitler might have done with drones—But then, this is, properly speaking, the stuff of history, and we only gossip here in these posts. MH and I then settled in for the ball game, her beloved Tigers in tough against the Texas Rangers, once George W Bush's team, and still his team in some sweetheart sense; and, well, as it turned out, the wrong aggregate of overpaid athletes prevailed, earning the right to proceed to the World Series, the autumn spectacle that is still capable of magic and passion and whatnot for a couple of expats raised on baseball. My heart sank, however, at the sight of the home plate ump removing his cap and approaching the box seats with a view to paying Mr Bush his respects, going so far as to say that his wife could be considered Mr Bush's greatest fan. There he was - Dubya, still America's sweetheart President, much loved, deeply reviled - seated next to Mr Ryan, a great pitcher once, now the Ranger's chief operating officer; and there she was, Mrs Ryan, classic blonde of chiselled oligarchic features. Roman Mater? New Testament Harlot? It struck me as a Proustian moment, this brief glimpse (one that has a shelf life of eternity) into who benefits most from all the bells and whistles of the modern modern modern world. And not that the ump would weight his judgments in favour of the home team (Texas) - no, that would prove tacky - that would lack class - and oligarchs are all about classy behaviour - at least some of the time. In any case, it was soon clear that the game would turn into a rout of the Tigers, so MH took her leave of the debacle and I slipped away to Nikas, having been advised by a text message that certain entities were in evidence there: Labrosse and A and Dave the trucker, E on shift. Yes, and there they were in all their bright feathers, along with a couple of lasses who, along with A, play rugby. And I was soon enough baptized into their world on the strength of the wine cow and testosterone-laced expletives. J, who has 'whored' internationally for this or that rugby squad as a way of getting around and seeing the world, was quite fond of motherf—kers and c—ts and douche bags such as comprise not only her opponents on the rugby field but anyone who happens to stand in her way, especially husbands and the Welsh. Having been privy, myself, to plenty of athletic contests and locker rooms in my time, I was, nonetheless, taken aback by J's enthusiasm, or shall I call it virulence? Labrosse, in his capacity as elder statesman, attempted to make light of the scene, but he had no traction with which to work, even if he did have hold of A's big toe under the table, and was in the process of unscrewing it from its foot, A happily smashed from the Jack Daniels in her cola Dave the trucker, once a bibulist, still a bibulist, but no longer a drinker as such, endeavoured to go with the flow, but J was not going to let him off easily, she buttonholing him with the perma-bruise on her ankle that she received courtesy of some c— t on the field of glory. Labrosse riffed with a lame joke on a theme of anything to show off her ankle, and, a handsome ankle it was; just that it was fraught with degreees of difficulty. J had every intention of carving her mark on all our psyches, no question, no exceptions. The other lass whose name I did not get, equally foul-mouthed, was at least possessed of gentle eyes, and I wondered what sort of baggage this necessitated in her that she was doomed to carry around. For all that, I had no desire to hang about and found out; and I had no stomach for going out on the town as they planned to do: booze and karaoke. So I slinked away, caught the aftermath of the ball game on TV. More oligarchical tableaux. Mrs Autry presenting Mr Ryan his trophy might have been a scene out of Tacitus—Would the rugby lasses fit right in there with their new-found ethos of win-win-no way we're losers? Or were they but unruly and uncouth plebs of the female persuasion who would cock a snoot at their betters whenever and wherever possible? How about simple suburban mediocrities with baggage and a penchant for alcohol and other additives? Would they not terrorize E, she with her pretensions to 'culture', she not entirely committed to run with this pack? Not to have an answer immediately available at the snap of a finger perhaps indicates the extent to which my existence has gotten somewhat detached from the 'real world'—

Oct 15, 2011: I always enjoy Peter O'Toole's portrayal of Henry Higgins in Pygmalion (the 1983 movie) when it shows up on TV. There he is - all mouth and arrogance, terribly insensitive. Magnificent. No one likes a bully, but why there are women about who prefer their men obsequious, and, at bottom, duplicitous; and, as per male German feminists, deeply pernicious and hardly capable of anything like genuine affection, beats me. But there are such men and there are such women; and, on some days they seem to comprise the majority of humankind - at least, in this neck of the western world. Whether or not the movie is first rank is of no interest to me; it is refreshing to view - for a short while. That is to say, Victorian stuffiness aside, and our levels of social, political and cultural cant being what they are, O'Toole and Kidder (Margot Kidder plays Eliza Doolittle - and to some effect, in my estimation), get up to something that heartens - however briefly: that theirs is a plea for the freedom by which man and woman might each find a true equilibrium with one another, even if it involves smashing up a vase or two. Honesty guarantees nothing; love of a kind and security of a kind can muddle along without it, but honesty is all there is, even so, or else one's life and one's relationships are not much more than sham. Speaking of which, perhaps something like a breakthrough has been attained here in Nikas just now. It would seem I have chanced upon the fact that I have only to appear excessively pensive, as if I were supplicating some deity or other to please cancel the radio; to please obliterate the voices in it (with all their hideously hyper bugling) going on about yet another poor celebrity's travails, and Alexandra the waitress, perhaps taking a hint from me, if not pity on me, sees fit to adjust the decibels. I would like to believe the 'voices' drive her crazy, too, but to believe so might be tempting a providence that is plenty shaky enough as it is. In any case, what does protocol now require? That I thank her for her consideration? That we continue to pretend that none of this is happening, and we have not been at loggerheads since the beginning of days, even as her gesture is incalculably real; just that, if acknowledged as such, it would be instantly trivialized? So then, mummery. And the knowing that tomorrow morning at roughly eight-fifteen, Alexandra the waitress might just as easily withdraw privileges, and silence fade away, overcome by all that utterly lacks even the slightest iota of even the possibility of grace—No, life need not be a tea ceremony 24/7 but, on the other hand, must it always be a non-stop demolition derby? The Nazis paid lip service to culture and the civilities, thugs that they were. Now we have the thuggery and are proud of it, having lightened our load of the aforementioned pretense—

Oct 14, 2011: P.M. Carpenter, a Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, seems to think the Republican Party has completed its dismantling of itself. It has gleefully gutted its innards of all centrists however vaguely positioned, and is pitching about here and there in some drunken fashion. In other words, it is not only toast - as in lobotomized, it is inebriated toast - as in dead meat. What this reality portends for Current President electorally he does not say in so many words; just that, once upon a time, he used to say it was good news for the nominal Democrat, if bad news for the country and how its politics works. Now is Current President, perhaps cozened into it by his 'advisers', stooping to chicanery by way of the Iranians so as to shore up his security creds? How often in history does the ludicrous at its looniest limit precipitate a tragedy? What, a lame question? William Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940, a book that cites one such instance of farce clearing the decks for absolute solutions, is also a tale of the origins of news broadcasting which, to this author, at least, only adds an extra layer of venality to the venal exercise of the power-play. Shirer was under the thumb of the Socratic delusion that an informed public will always choose the good over bad; and failing that, will hold its nose and truck with the so-called lesser evil—In any case, there was Hitler rolling up Chamberlain and Daladier and getting his way with Czechoslovakia; and to anyone who might wonder why I am rehashing old news I can only reply that I am reading of these things as if for the first time, and with a view to the part the risible plays in the perennial drama, Caligula perhaps the first Clown Prince of Farce—Morning. Nikas. A storm has just passed through. I have got Beethoven on the brain as well as Blind Blake. Beethoven because, five will get you ten, he would have feted the Occupy Wall Street crowd with a concerto, if not a symphonic movement. Blind Blake because he would not have looked askance at a motley crew nor would he necessarily have extolled it: weather is weather - what is is what is to be - he a rag-timing empiricist, and a drunkard, apparently - but yes, Hey Hey Daddy Blues—Enough—Last evening, I sat a while with Labrosse in Nikas, he having been summoned there by E who was on shift and looking to foment a happening over which she, muse-like and somewhat impish, would preside. She, on occasion, breaks my heart inasmuch as she, Bloomsbury-inspired, born for the salon, would cut a figure, but—No one was interested in politics. Labrosse, who is generally good for an observation or two, was on about Shawinigan cement. Dave the trucker, still swearing off drink, was on about his inability to sleep. No one was even interested in the hockey game, les Canadiens in tough to the Flames. God only knows what, if anything, was interesting E. Should she sprinkle a few Latinisms amongst the Maz Bar crowd, later, when she gets off shift, seeing as she read Virgil in his mother tongue? Should Sibum tag along and witness the miracle? Clearly, it was not Shawinigan cement, the laugher being this: such cement, intended for dam-construction, wound up forming the basements of domiciles in the area and so, not even jackhammers could put much of a dent in the material, that is, if one had a thought to make-over a floor plan—Enter Irish harpy and retinue (husband and son). Whatever there has been of tone in here has just been drop-kicked to another time zone—One wonders why one bothers to acknowledge the claims of Truth, Beauty and Justice on our hearts, minds and souls unless that trinity, too, is just another set of demons and furies looking to harry and pillage and otherwise mangle and chew up and tenderize a darling or two—

Oct 13, 2011: Another Sandbaggers evening, last night. Labrosse and the girls and myself. The dilemma facing Burnside this go round? Whether or not to assassinate one of his colleagues, a high ranking and much trusted officer in British intelligence who, of a sudden, was giving every appearance of having gone over to the 'other side'. Neither Labrosse nor the girls seemed to have an opinion on the matter, the girls, however, alert to even the slightest variation in Burnside behaviour, now that he was bringing coffee to his secretary—Still, was Burnside justified in wanting to 'save the service' at the expense of the law? The girls, in unison: "Whatever." But he seemed so sad at the thought of having to terminate the life of a friend—I was tempted to wish for a simpler world in response to a moral cesspool, but a simpler world is not likely in the cards unless a certain population begins dying off in vast numbers, and even then, who's to say? In light of which a woman I met recently in the Townships who has been involved in the art scene for a long time in quite practical ways, and is thoroughly sick of dog and pony and humbug and arty-farty pretensions and scum bag artistes - to the point, one might even say, of disgust, put it like this: what is anyone to do? Unplug from the grid that enables everything from one's cell phone to one's toaster? Money? Oh, shall we replace money now - as when we replaced God with communists? Money makes things possible. Money gets in the way. It all depends. But when the rich no longer care and are ignorant to boot, and government arts programs only reward those who will buy into their feel-good operations, then yes, it is well and truly over, pass the bottle, please, I feel culture shock coming on— Afterwards, Labrosse retreated to his digs, the girls broadly hinting that they were going to give themselves over to gossip and toenails; that is to say, boy-girl relations and anything else currently in the mix. A girl nemesis of theirs is now a 'man-eater', c—t that she is, and one of E's male roomies has been such a b—ch of late. So much for empowerment and breakthroughs in gender dynamics. I would pass on those tender ministrations with which they would tolerate my presence at the next whisky bar. They left, my esteemed company, and I picked up my guitar and began plunking away - some Blind Blake ditty in the works. The last inning of the ball game was on TV, Letterman to come. Indeed, I was in the mood for him, however stale his schtick. He would have plenty of material from which to fashion a funny or two: Republican Party presidential debates, the latest Iranian plot to gum up a shadow world, celebrities galore on which to rag, the diminuitive New York City mayor, not to mention New York rats and potholes. Voila! There it was: he was going to have it off with Bill Clinton, the presidential guy, whose complexion is all tofu; whose fingers are as marsupial as ever; whose mien is all jolliness and seriosity and policy and stratagem, and you, too, can be a decent human being just like me, if - and there are, boys and girls, pay attention, some ifs, you know—Difficult to say where he stood in relation to the fact that he had had the brass ring in his marsupial grasp and funked it. Even so, his time in office at least helped engender a Letterman jest: that he is probably the last two-term president the Democrats will ever have to brag about. MH, returned now from her evening out, was in quite a sombre mood. Had been to visit an old acquaintance from the early days, a fellow artist. Seems he has developed severe emphysema, and this keeps him to his couch; but that he still draws even so, and will do so until the bitter end. A genuine artist. Something of a hermit. If she had been prepared to lecture him on cigarettes, he turned the tables on her in this sense: whatever his condition and state of mind, he was making art and asking for no favours, offering up no cheap mea culpas—

Oct 12, 2011: I continue to read William Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940. Hitler has just blindsided Chamberlain at Godesberg. Soon enough German troops will be on their way to the Sudetenland. And so it goes. And so it went. Morning. Nikas. Yes, here in Montreal-NDG, which it is a canton of sorts in a nickel and dime world of abuse and other cheese. Eddie, owner-cook, clowns around with Larry the software entrepreneur wearing his habitual orange windbreaker. Apropos of nothing, Sicilians and Albanians are compared. Larry whistles some trill from the orchestral score of The Godfather, a bravura performance that prefigures the next rubbing out of a soul—Eddie, who likes a joke: "Where are we going to find anyone like Larry, eh?" Larry, who likes a joke, too: "Just look out the window - do you see?—" Sibum, in whom the penny is always dropping: "But of course: NDG, as has been noted." In any case, Alexandra the waitress is getting off easy as I had shown up prepared to do battle with her until one of us bites the dust, dead. I observe, however, that when it comes to the radio and its decibels, she opts to be politic; or else it is that Eddie has had words with her; or perhaps too many other customers have lodged complaints. I know that Irish harpy has done so, as has her husband whose ears she forever pinches between bony thumbs and forefingers. Husband: "I mean, if it were Sinatra, it might be a different story, you know—"Otherwise, it is anxiety dreams that interest me as of the moment; how it is that in one of those dreams I have now and then, I am asked to play a part in a theatre production, and, against my better judgment, I accept. Trouble is, I have insufficient time in which to learn my lines properly; or I cram and then promptly forget the lines; or I am simply too lazy to put in an effort, and one might think that having to don leotards is bad enough. For all that, I seem to be able to 'talk' my way through, chapter and verse. Women applaud. Against the odds, the theatrical world is not embarrassed—The buffoon is the slave of his sense of humour, and spares neither himself nor others if he can raise a laugh, and says things none of which a man of refinement would say, and to some of which he would not even listen. The boor . . . is useless for such social intercourse; for he contributes nothing and finds fault with everything. But relaxation and amusement are thought to be a necessary element to life—Aristotle - old chinwag - in his Ethics. And yet, here it is that Larry who peddles software also has depths and some girth. Larry, whilst cheesy music on the radio carries the day, and he, disgusted, raps his tabloid with the back of his hand: "Sick, sick, sick - can you imagine - some father has sex with his 19 month old daughter - I mean, come on—" Alexandra the waitress, clucking her tongue: "Bad, bad. Very bad." Can the next law and order candidate be far behind? The Americans have just foiled a plot of international scope, the apparent details of which are so ludicrous they may even be true. Romney is beginning to look a man with an imperium to rule, as nothing succeeds like success and he may cop a certain presidency; and Americans will congratulate themselves for their having turfed a black man out of office in favour of an heretofore unelectable Mormon in respect to which the word 'Christian' may or may not apply, no one seems to rightly know—

Oct 11, 2011: Some campaign literature has come my way via 'Occupy Wall Street'. A handbill purports to list (fourteen items all told) early warning signs of fascism, among which items is 'disdain for intellectuals and the arts'. My, how intellectuals and the arts flatter themselves. As I read this, as the wiseacre in me happened to riposte with a vulgarism - no s—t, Durango - I also happened to be reading the following words in Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940: Now and then we stole off for an evening at the opera, the concert house, the theater. In Berlin, despite the idiotic and depressing Nazi banning of Jewish composers, musicians, playwrights and actors, all three houses of art could often be quite good—Should the question arise, indeed, in respect to the current hour, I consider the 'arts' and much of what passes for intellectual discourse as empty and beside the point - as so much artspeak and piffle, but does this consideration on my part willynilly land me in bed with fascists? It strikes me that much of the elite world regards the writings of Margaret Atwood as just ducky, perhaps because her anti-fascist street creds provides it cover for its double and triple dealings. Well, she dreams up dystopias and so, would spare all yuppies their worst proclivities whilst she stalks the entertainment industry with her cartoon cut-outs—I do not take lightly the notion that fascism, whatever any one of us might signify by the word, is well and truly on its way or is already with us to an alarming extent, but it is difficult to take seriously that 'art' and 'intellectuals' are automatically sacrosanct temples not to be s—t upon either by Texas governors or Caesars, as if 'art' and intellectuals are ever and ever noble and antithetical to evil. Morning. Nikas. The battle of the decibels, the radio spewing vile, mindless drool. It is disheartening to see how emigres from other places that at least place some nominal and perhaps quite hypocritical value on 'culture' regard this noise as the stuff of freedom and enlightenment, when all it offers is permission to, yes, by all means, go ahead, lobotomize oneself - have you done that? - fine - now hold hands with one another and love each other to bits. One may as well pass around the crack pipe—So then, true enough, disdain for intellectuals and the arts. But look who else is doing contempt! Everyone's got a piece of this blood sport. Clearly, Alexandra the waitress wishes me and the notebook I scribble in to go elsewhere for coffee, and we could easily enough do so, I suppose, at some inconvenience to our presumptions, our pretensions, our little claims that, in the over-all scheme of things, we matter just a smidgen. Howsomever, the principle involved? That she can disdain me as much as her little heart desires, but to, please, just crank down the decibels—

Oct 10, 2011: She would lure me deep into the woods, and for an evanescent moment or two, I worried for my virtue. If you go out in the woods, today / you're sure of a big surprise—For all that, nothing more came to pass between us than philosophy, ruminations on the effects of technology on our lives, on our intellects, in particular, on our psyches in general; all the while she endeavoured to blaze us a trail through brambly patches and over and around stretches of boggy ground. She said, and I paraphrase: "I have lived with doubt all my life. These kids - they apparently have no doubt. They've got Google." I replied, and I quote: "Their confidence will be shattered—" I did not elaborate, as I did not need to elaborate: before the words even departed my mouth she understood the drift my drift would take, she who once smuggled subversive manuscripts out of her homeland in tampax tubes—And I will not elaborate much here; just that when confidence as such is not based on anything terribly solid, one can safely expect a short shelf-life for the item—Otherwise, it took forever and a day to get across the Champlain Bridge and back onto the island after a couple of days in the country somewhere south of Knowlton. Good company. Good food. Good wine. Good palaver. All capped with a mid-afternoon holiday feast of duck and red cabbage and plum pie. MH managed to show up for it, she returning from New York where she had had occasion to meander down to Wall Street so as to have a look-see at the 'occupy Wall Street' movement. Her impression of it was generally favourable. Myself, when I was not otherwise engaged in discussing literary matters with Kydde or plunking on the guitar by the pond and its mirroring of an army of splendid trees in full autumn regalia, I was continuing my reading of Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940. Ah, 1934. Liberals metamorphosing into fascists in sixty seconds or less. He accounted for this phenomenon thusly: the abdication of individuality in conjunction with an overdose of torchlight parades and weighting of style over substance (Hitler the orator); and the fact that, in the broad strokes, Hitler gave the 'people' what they wanted; or he convinced them that they were getting what they wanted; and they got it and they got total f—kage, as well; but that even mediocrities and hacks and utter idiots can manage to ride a wave (Hitler) into some harbour or another of self-enrichment and political clout; but that, first, one has to go about destroying or at least neutralizing all possible sources of push-back, and this might even include the Catholic church and all sorts of Protestant factions, along with trade unions and workers' associations of all kinds—I mention it because, at one point in the dinner conversation, a woman suggested that religion and moral values were incompatible, really, when you think about it - that science was ever and is our only way through a muddle; and well, I tend to get testy in the face of such shallow-minded intensity, and I responded rather tartly by noting that whatever nightmares religion saddled us with, and there is no arguing otherwise, a world all science will prove a thousand times worse; and we have had inklings of it already: Stalinism, for starters, and now we have, what, our cosy little security state, our drones, and a deadening conformity such as makes the 50s in retrospect come off as a Golden Age of Michelangelos and Mirandolas and Ficinos—And besides, every time I hear some arts apparatchik mouth the words 'cutting-edge', my retinas glaze over with a memory of early TV ads going on about toothpaste or Wheaties, Breakfast of Champions—

Oct 7, 2011: I read of the battle for the streets of Paris, the year 1934 or thereabouts, the political atmosphere shrilly polarized; assorted rightists and royalists and veteran's groups; communists and, who knows, the odd liberal or two, in the fray - along with the police. For all that, hockey season has commenced here in Canada, the year 2011 or thereabouts; and Labrosse was in attendance in Nikas, last evening, to signify communion with the puck; and the Leafs would goose egg his les Canadiens, E on shift. A showed up, sultry and expectant in black cashmere. But expecting what? What miracles? I thanked her for the splendour of her presence and took my leave, hockey not something for which I have an all-consuming passion, though I get the game and can even say an intelligent thing or two in respect to how it is best played. Returned to my digs, I watched the Tigers fend off the Yankees. Blessed event. Plunking away on the guitar, I worked on Casey Jones and The St Louis Tickle as I watched. I considered that, in Nikas, especially at lunch hour, one might encounter serious people thinking money, money, money - all the time; the odd throwback thinking sex; just that no one, or so I can assure you, is thinking Caravaggio and chiaroscuro, or the breached walls of Constantinople, 1453 or thereabouts—Morning now. Nikas. Enter Larry the software entrepreneur, he a serious person all in orange with baseball cap. Ah, he is twenty-nine, today, and getting younger; just that he is stiffening in his joints and aging, staring at a horse's arse, or his mortality. He wishes to commiserate - on account of this incipient reality, this matter of his mortality, and I would humour him. But my mood is, truth to tell, a surly one: some obnoxious male chanteuse of a fraud on the radio going on about what a sexy beast it is, that is, he has the beans, and by implication, no else does. (Even Alexandra the waitress agrees that the effing music is moronic drooling, and for once, she volunteers to crank the decibels down.) But what has any of this and any of the above to do with poetry? Nothing, really. And everything. So I the poet, so-called bard of Sherbrooke West, fail Larry. And he goes and he hunkers down in his accustomed booth with his customary tabloid; and he scouts the hockey scores; and he moans and he bewails. What his heart most desires is that he be just one of the guys and that nothing changes that would cramp that style. Sometimes, if the historical forces in operation favour it, history makes him out a hero - a la Camus's Everyman; most of the time, however, history just makes of him a chump always looking for his wiggle room—When I go on about the streets of Paris circa 1934 or thereabouts, I do not mean to suggest that history repeats itself and yet, there it is: the antics of financiers and the scandals they spawn do trigger political movements and mayhem; they attract from under their rocks psychopaths of all descriptions who benefit from chaotic drift while we - apparently minding the store - are awarded degrees of difficulty, tales of strange bedmates, glassy-eyed poets still imagining that poetry counts for something, anything, even a withering, stiff-arming glance from the muse—The poet is a man who lives . . . by watching his moods. An old poet comes at last to watching his moods as narrowly as a cat does a mouse—Thoreau.

Oct 6, 2011: A, the little wretch, gave Labrosse his options. We were seated indoors at 'bratwurst'. We had just concluded our latest Sandbaggers viewing session. It was an episode that E described as 'juicy', seeing as Burnsides was at loggerheads with his new boss and had been nearly gamed by his friend and CIA counterpart, much to his displeasure. E was smoking a cigarette with her Chuck on the terrasse, he having returned to her and civilization from Toronto, which it is hinterland of some sort. In any case, A was putting it to Labrosse: "Gossip or toenails? Which is it to be? And are we drinking beer or Jack (as in Daniels)? Because I'll order—" Labrosse, who rarely resorts to theatrics, rolled his eyes. With his winter jacket and athletic cap, he had the look of a frigate commander. Or his was a Right Hand of the Creator demeanor. But 'bratwurst' was out of Jack and Labrosse was near out of patience. Earlier, he complained that standards were deteriorating, gossip and toenails all that was left of discourse, A magisterially unconcerned. True decadence, I have always said, after Bill Hoffer - sometime bookseller always used to say it - is not only the dearth of good conversation, it is the lack of talk inasmuch as talk might have anything to do with what is actually going on in the world. So, as per Labrosse, what did we think of the Wall Street protests, if anything? Apparently, we did not think much. Well then, the Euro zone debt crisis? Even less. But Chuck, barely acclimatized to Montreal-NDG, was already having contretemps with his old buddy and roommate Jeremy. This fellow was having grotty sex, as A so drolly had it, with the world's largest c—t and egoistical boob. There you have it - communal life. Melodrama. Lots of volubility. Cackles. Snickering. It is a scene that wants its Shakespeare and gets its pop. Morning. Nikas. The unrelenting hideousness of the music which, until recently, was generally kept to just bearable decibels. I am contemplating retaliatory theatrics—I might insert my guitar into the confines of ___ whatever and have at Jericho. In William Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940, he makes mention of a brief sojourn in Salzburg where he availed himself of a Mozart fest; and how lovely it was; but how unreal the experience, given the events unfolding in the real world. No such luck in this instance. That is to say, there is no possibility of any Salzburg on any horizon hereabouts, however grim things are looking elsewhere—Shirer also speaks of the demise of the fledgling and short-lived Spanish Republic, Weimar soon to follow suit—He is unnerved by the extent to which the general populace is buying into what the politicians and financiers are serving up as a modus operandi to existence, even if those same politicians and financiers are undoing Dick and Jane - even in Paris—Enter Larry the software entrepreneur. I wait for him to go on about the Jobs fellow who just died, the so-called visionary and et cetera. Without the thingamajigs and the surrounding market, Larry would have been stuck somewhere working for suburban wages—His boat was certainly floated, his little rubber duck—Instead, he attempts to kid around with Alexandra the waitress, but she is having none of it, her moodiness as thickly obdurate as ever. Still, she may be the sanest entity among us, as she is profoundly uninterested in the workings of the world; though she is painfully anxious to be regarded by her daughters as 'with it', hence the infernal music replete with the inane patter of the deejays and the obnoxious ads. I let A know, last evening, that I hoped her upcoming transference of self from a Montreal provenance to a Vancouver venue will work out. I suggested she have some patience in the matter; that she not panic once the novelty of things wore off and she was confronted with her 'closet', that item of sticking points that follows one wherever one goes. Her eyes got glassy. I shrugged. As I suggested at the top of this post, Labrosse was given his options: gossip or toenails. Truth is, he had no choice. E on one of her Nikas shifts somewhat inadvertently-on-purpose got it into the head of a local Fellini-esque babe all legs and wide-brimmed hat that she has been remarked upon by a local poet who patronizes the Nikas establishment; and Fellini-esque babe, eyeballing the restaurant, assumed that the poet in question was Labrosse. Fine with me. Labrosse can even begin passing himself off as George Bowering. Even finer with me. The Shawinigan Laureate—The 'babe' in her life's last round of efflorescence will be hitting on him for years to come. Perhaps I can persuade Labrosse to infiltrate various arts committees—Myself, I am lock, stock and barrel back in Square One, Official Poetry-dom corrupt, all gossip and toenail and vastly unimportant.


Oct 5, 2011: I welcome myself back to the fence, days of debauch and desportments of one kind or other put behind. A poetry reading was in the mix at some point, and I seem to recall that Kydde acquitted himself well and that London Lunar read a poem of his own composition, one he entitled Sparrows, or so I believe, and it terrified the beJesus out of a Literary Thug of my acquaintance. There was also the presence of a three-piece band there at the CFC venue (CFC being the call-letters for Centre Cultural Fusion), each member of which was certifiable, all Marx brothers, Spike Jones, Some Like It Hot, wholesome dementia their contribution. I had been finishing up Camus's Caligula when London Lunar darkened my doorstep with a view to camp. According to Caligula poets write poetry so as to compensate for their lack of political power; hence, they are pretty much all sham. This is a rather dim view of the dear creatures, is it not? But I do not believe that either Camus or Caligula was responsible for the chestnut that follows here: if a urinal is where one urinates, what's an arsenal? As per London Lunar, the problem with Ezra was that he viewed Mussolini through high Renaissance eyes. (That would be Ezra as in Pound.) Yes, and that, once again, money that makes all things possible is also destroying culture such as makes life worth living; or rather mercenary values are having at mercenary values, and that this is particularly true in the publishing world. We will have lost something precious when 'print-on-demand' begins to rule the publishing henhouse in earnest, serendipity then as inert as the dodo. Which is to say that books (that are not especially of the disposable kind) do acquire a life of their own upon publication. They float around. They sit in windows. They sit on shelves. Eventually, however, enough of them find their devoted readers, their enthusiasts that one might be justified in characterizing these discoveries as essential to any 'culture' worthy of being designated as such. Print-on-demand will seriously hamstring this sort of autonomy—Myself, as debauched as I was, even so I managed a foraging expedition into the local SallyAnn where, for $2.99, and on a whim, I bought a tome: William Shirer's The Nightmare Years 1930-1940. The writing - at first blush - is nothing to shout about. No matter. I am, in this instance, interested enough in the content that I can overlook the pedestrian prose of a vanished breed: journalist as Citizen of the World Who Wishes Not to Come It High, who isn't a hot dog. The book's introduction, to do with the rise of totalitarian dictatorships is all déjàs vu in reverse, and one might be mistaken to think that, in reading it, one has just some perused some item from yesterday's newspaper, and yet, one is not mistaken—But enough politics for now. London Lunar has gone to blend in with the environs in some OntarIO-ian hinterland that is nonetheless handy enough to a state of mind some people are pleased to identify as Ottawa. Kydde? God only knows. He did manage to tickle Labrosse's fancy with a little ditty he had composed in honour of Mrs Lazarus. That the poem is a droll tour de force in which the poor woman laments the new reality in the household: the odiferous condition of her husband with whom she must share the bed. Nose-wrinkling. Labrosse himself has sufficiently recovered from his portion of the debauch that he would have me have a gander at certain items in the Globe and Mail. Must I really? Most likely there will be another hiatus in these posts over the Thanksgiving weekend as I will be in the Townships visiting personages—

Oct 1, 2011: What ought literature do? I did not wake with this question on my mind so much as I went to sleep with it - perhaps so as to sleep on it; the theory being that, come the advent of the light of day, I would have the power to dazzle you with some sort of answer. I must not live right. I drew blanks and am, consequently, both the poster boy and the butt of my own investigatory committee on literary malpractice and fraud - of which there is plenty. No point in mincing words on that score. I will say, and can only say that those literary effects that do not seem to bear any relation to necessity as such does not interest me much; and by necessity, I mean that which ignores the dictates of the literary-minded ego that it perpetually justify itself (oh, what shall we write today? - perhaps a trek to Outer Mongolia is in order, and then a book whipped up over some long weekend, and then the movie rights—); and I mean that which could possibly promise something more than mere electrical discharges of the brain, your average mezzanine-level cerebrum masquerading as oracular discourse the discharging agent. Or is it the pituitary gland?—It seems the Moesian 'texted' me quite late, last night, and I believe he was expressing disgruntlement with himself for having wasted an evening at some reading or other, though he lost me when it came to his mention of 'vanilla typists'. I haven't the foggiest - vanilla?—He had begun his disquisition with mention of the need to purify CanLit's saccharine odour—Purify? With what? Perhaps he did not mean purify so much as buryA well-oiled propaganda machine - that's what it all amounts to being - lots of money involved—In any case, Kydde is in town, and he and I took up positions on Ziggy's terrasse on Crescent Street and watched the women go by. Beautiful girls. Smug Cougars. Ancient widowers, stoop-shouldered but in no hurry to depart this mortal coil, giving their patient pooches an airing—We talked of the play Camus wrote on a theme of Caligula (which I am currently reading). Kydde: "I have to say I've been reading Camus with renewed respect—" Sibum: "I have to say, if you'll permit me to say, that I'm reading Caligula with amusement, and this frightens me as, perhaps, it ought to effect some other response in me, like one of fright or outright dread. That the metaphysical implications of what Camus wrote describes to a 't' the current moment - that of a man (Caligula) who is something of a philosopher without much range, perhaps; but that he has recourse to one simple trick of mind that he employs over and over - with devastating results; this in tandem with the fact that he has unlimited power and he uses it so as pursue the wendings of logic to the nth degree, to wherever it might take him - but always at someone's expense, to be sure. Perhaps Camus had Stalin in mind when he wrote the play or Hitler, but those men did not have Caligula's exquisite sense of humour. On the other hand the sort of man I have in mind, or woman, for that matter, is of mid-level management stuff, persons who have the power to gut whole towns on a whim, gut them financially and so forth and so on, which has the effect of altering all the procedurals in relation to any ballot box, disenfranchisement, in other words—" But Kydde was more than likely in no mood for Dick and Jane and Bambi and the Corporate State, his eyes having glassed over, and I do not believe it was the wine—We then both declared ourselves as disenchanted with the literary scene in general and the CanLit scene in particular, but this was nothing new, far from it. One can only say the sky is falling so many times, and then one is a certified bore. It fell - a while ago. Enough said. We sat there, Kydde and I, and watched the passersby happily pick their way through the unseen but ever-present rubble and carnage—Ah, say that again: All men owe honor to the poets - honor and awe, for they are dearest to the Muse who puts upon their lips the ways of life—Odysseus in the Odyssey. But then we all know, do we not, that Odysseus was a lying bastard?—




 

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