Archive for October, 2006

On the Road

October 31, 2006

An entry from the Pinewood Motor Inn in Espanola, ON. Drove about 700 km today in the beautiful late October sunshine. Colder up here…Snow on the ground around North Bay and Sturgeon Falls. Never thought I’d be through Sturgeon Falls twice in four months, but I’m a postmodern nomad like that now. Sunset over Lake Nippissing was beautiful and the journey went off without a hitch. The Canadian Shield is really unique in its special way.

Still a long way to go. Hoping for good weather as we cross the border into northern Michigan and head west. Betty is humming along and I am trying to follow suit, riven by mixed emotions about endings and beginnings, departures and arrivals. Had an epiphany about how essential the highway is to North American culture…It is the lifeblood which runs through all the different places and spaces on this continent. It brings with it uniformity and universality and the banal…But it also brings adventures, the local, the unusual, the bizarre, the exotic. The highway is a place where the mind wanders and the sense of movement is sometimes dizzying. But the pace is more manageable than flying…A less violent transition, more “natural.” There is a noticeable change and time is accelerated, but the mind can follow. Magical.

Of Dragons and Imperialist Running Dogs

October 24, 2006

There is an anti-imperialist rally this weekend — at noon on the 28th of October in front of Norman Bethune park (Guy metro). I strongly urge people to attend; the broad-based power of the modern American empire needs to be countered with equally broad-based challenges to its assumed military, moral and cultural authority. Although, often, the results end up making one feel like one of the villagers in the short story below, it’s still worth the effort. Somebody’s got to try and stand up to…

The Golden Dragon

An enormous and majestic dragon with beautiful golden scales lived peacefully and comfortably on a large island. He spent many of his days sleeping upon his great sparkling and shining heap of treasure. When hungry or desirous of a new bit of treasure to make his slumber more pleasant, he would spread his great wings and fly into the sky. Across the waters he would go, to another land, where many poor and simple people dwelt in a small, humble village. The golden dragon was not malicious or cruel, but when he arrived in the village its citizens would run every which way in fear of their lives. This was understandable, for the dragon ate many of the villagers and took what few precious belongings they had to further pad his bed of treasure.

For many years the villagers lived in fear of the dragon’s arrival, for the glint of the sun on his golden scales signaled the beginning of a terrible time of death, destruction and loss. Often, they would organize themselves to try and reason with the dragon by sending forth their wisest elders to plead for mercy and ask to be spared. The dragon usually ate these men first, thinking that they were an offering to his great and noble dragonhood.

Once, in a moment of patience and curiosity, the dragon listened to one of these village elders.

“Why do you torment us so, oh great dragon,” the elder pleaded, “for we are but simple and humble people wishing only to be left alone.”

The dragon was puzzled, for he thought that, for a dragon, he had been remarkably kind, sparing the better part of the village on each of his visits.

“You misunderstand me sir,” the dragon replied, “for I am being as kind as a dragon can be.” “Were I to not curb my true nature, your entire village would be destroyed and you would all be eaten.” Upon uttering his gentle proclamation, the dragon swallowed the man whole, took a few simple baubles for his treasure pile and flew away.

Many more years of anguish and tyranny passed, and it was finally decided that the bravest of the village’s warriors were to sail to the dragon’s island lair, and through their courage, demonstrate that the village was deserving of recognition and respect. They crossed the great waters and arrived at the island where the dragon lived, whereupon they found him, as he usually was to be found, sleeping comfortably upon his great bed of treasure. These warriors of the village decided that, rather than try to kill the dragon in his sleep, they would cut off his two great silver horns. Surely, they reasoned, the silver horns represented only a portion of what the dragon had taken from the village as treasure.

When the dragon awoke to find that his horns had been taken from him, he was very angry. He roared and glowered at the warriors, who stared at him in an awestruck mix of courage and fear.

“What have you done here?” the dragon asked impatiently.

“We have come from the village that you have so often abused and robbed. We have cut off your horns as a sign of our displeasure, but have spared your life. It is our hope that this has taught you a lesson.”

“Well,” the dragon said, “I’ve learned a lesson.”

“You have!?” The warriors said with a mix of surprise, relief and disbelief.

“Indeed,” the dragon replied, “but it is perhaps not the lesson you hoped I would learn.”

“What have you learned, oh great dragon?” The warriors asked with greater trepidation.

“I’ve learned that it was foolish of me to curb my basic nature, for I am a dragon!”

Upon uttering his ferocious declaration, the dragon promptly swallowed the village warriors. The dragon was angry and sad because his horns had been cut off. He was less sad because he knew that they would grow back. He was, however, very, very angry, like any dragon would naturally be. He knew what to do to quench his anger. He spread his wings and flew towards the village for the last time.

So come out on Saturday…And watch out for the shadows…

Marie Antoinette

October 24, 2006

Saw Sofia Coppola’s masterwork this weekend. Very pretty but also pretty pointless. A fashion show tracing the last days of the ancien régime — the Vogue version of the fall of Versailles. Though beautiful, I had no sympathy for anyone in the movie, and were I there would have been sorely tempted to start chopping heads myself (but I’m a bit of a Jacobin at heart).

To top it off, the whole thing ended so strangely. Very tame and very clean. I guess like a friend suggested the other day, we live in surprisingly royalist times. A review of the movie in the Montreal Mirror indelicately suggested that Antoinette was “murdered.” If that’s the case, then somebody is clearly still trying to catch her killers…

Quite the symbol that one. Not sure this movie makes any meaningful contribution to understanding either her or the Revolutionary zeitgeist. Or really anything but a more visceral appreciation of the true point of sumptuary laws.

Go West, Young Man

October 18, 2006

Following a long tradition of eastern urbanites disenchanted with modernity and civilization in general, I’m going out to the frontier (or at least the closest thing one can find in the 21st century) in search of adventure and gold. Well, maybe the gold part is a little ambitious, but I swore to myself I’d learn to surf before I turned 40, so that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m also going to ride down a mountain, a real mountain (not a Mont real), on my mountain bike. That’s what it’s for, after all.

In short, I’m outta here…To Vancouver Island and Victoria and away from the hard, edgy, maddening place that is Montreal in the winter. After living here and just enduring for so many, I deserve to be spared the agony of those ungodly cold days for a change.

I’ll miss the silence of late snowy nights after the bars are closed, I’ll miss the sun glinting off of the snow-covered cityscape on a mild winter afternoon, I’ll miss the warmth that seems to grow out of every spot where people gather by a fire over a drink or two.

But new horizons beckon — the Pacific, the mountains, and trees that reach the clouds…

The Trees

October 12, 2006

A haiku…Technically not a poem. Is it? So I lied…

The Trees

Arboreal gods
Ancient boughs of mystery
Reaching for the sky


October 6, 2006

…On the northern shore of Lake Superior. A hazy mid-July day — sticky, still and buggy. But just as the sun was going down we stopped, got out of the truck, and found this mind-blowing spot. A little breeze came up and kept the bugs busy, and there was a crisp cooling in the air. An amazing moment — the kind where time stands still. I can fully imagine being there even now. It’s a caricature of the romantic…But that’s just the point, I suppose.

OK, I Promise, No More Poetry for a While…

October 4, 2006

Funny this post, since I think it’s actually directed at a few people. Who knows which of them will read it…

I notice a lot of time and energy focused on relationships with the opposite sex, and I want to know how it is that my life seems the inverse. Right now, nothing would make me happier than to focus away from that direction and towards boring stuff like careers and jobs and bank accounts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t built that way. It’s a bit of a dilemma…

It is a truly grim day here in Montreal…Dark, chilly, cloudy and wet. A dog day Wednesday afternoon…If I were a duck, I might consider it nice. Sucky.

Yet while there is no reason to feel exalted in spirit, I somehow do. Small accomplishments that seem irrelevant to the larger world are like great leaps across mountain valleys in the mind. That’s just the kind of day I’m having. Self-delusion is magnificent…


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