Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cities. (Tuesday, December 02, 2008)

A flight back from Europe, less miserable than the horrifying trip over where my glorious leader got pathetically drunk and tried to sleep with the flight attendant. Worse could happen, but at 3am at 20 000 ft above a frigid ocean, the last thing you want to hear is your boss screaming the number of women he has slept with. But that was only the beginning.

Further misadventures included an interesting but largely uneventful trip to Doncaster, Yorkshire. And a night out drinking with an army friend of mine at a South African pub. And so, for your reading enjoyment I present:

I drank at a South African Pub and I've STILL never met a nice South African, because they really are a bunch of arrogant bastards who hate black people

After a quick few pints at a smattering of pubs including the sad "Maple Leaf", a Scot friend of mine and I decided what better to do in London on vacation, but to get completely destroyed at a South African pub? The answer? ANYTHING.

The idea for this quest began a few days prior to the story. After meeting an ex-Rhody veteran who decided to tell his best war stories to me in the hotel lounge. My business associate, Ardashir, had long since bailed due to something he referred to as "work", so I didn't particularly care who I was speaking to, so long as I wasn't stuck in the back of some pub staring off into the distance limiting my conversation to "another one of these please".

The Rhody, (who's name I never bothered to ask), was apparently organizing some sort of ex-military reunion and happened to mention a decent South African pub in London. After this point he accused the black bartender of short-changing him his money. Thereby ending my conversation with him. The trouble with bad ideas and me, is that I know full well how these things turn out. Consciously, I know better than to play with fate, but some genetic malfunction prevents me from listening to rational thought. I call that malfunction "drinking".

So this idea begins to fester in the back of my mind. I wasn't consciously aware of its existence and went about my day without a second thought for it. It wasn't until a friend of mine from the BA arrived, that the spores of this bad idea spread. The idea infecting my judgment and led the two of us into this wretched pub deep into a drinking embassy of the dark continent.

The doorman could see us coming a mile away. We'd been drinking all afternoon, mostly for sustenance rather than entertainment. However, these things tend to creep up on you. A whiskey shot aperitif followed by a 4 pint lunch rejuvenates the body but clouds the mind.

After the doorman let us through with a cunning smile usually reserved for the doomed, we walked in. It seemed normal enough, almost Australian in design. Besides, my friend was there, and nothing is more reassuring than having a psychotic drunken Scotsman on your side when walking through the jaws of hell. What, could possible go wrong? Then he saw her. Single, and immediately distracted by any run of the mill dark haired seductress, I could see exactly where the incident was going to start. Almost pre-cognitive and best described as that feeling you get when you see a heavy object falling from a high shelf immediately above your head. You know what's going to happen next, but its too late to react.

"Scot" immediately begins chatting her up. She seemed flattered enough, but was still relatively sober. Standing under a speaker I couldn't hear their conversation and decided to get a bottle of Castle lager and stand around like a jackass. Then she got to the point. Existing in the tip of her outstretched finger, and accentuated by an equally outstretched arm, The point was, (and usually is) the very heart of a given issue. In this case, the point was 6ft 5, 300 pounds and sitting in the corner with two of his equally large friends. "Scot's" face dropped. So did mine. Without even hearing their conversation, I got the point. Anyone else in the bar who had been looking over at her (and most were), would have gotten the point. However, "Scot" did not. Like most of his ilk, a situation like this is more of a challenge than a warning. Realizing this, the point decided to join us.

Having to duck, due to the lowish ceiling, he took up most of the corridor. A strange wave of tactical thinking began slowly churning in my mind. It began with horror, and then amusement when I realized he was wearing a bright yellow t-shirt and pork-pie hat. And so the main event started.

"What's your sport mate?" Speaking to me instead of "Scot".

This took me a moment, Being in London that long, I had realized most English usage is never literal.

"How do you mean?" I replied like the moron I was.

This caused him a bit of amusement since he was all too aware of what was going on.

"Yeah, as in do you play football? Rugby?"

Once the literal nature of his comment was discerned, I could see the clouds part. With everyone now listening in, the tide of the evening was now within my court. My next comment would decide the entire scenario.

"Nah man, my sport is drinking." (....fucking....idiot, here we go..)

The rest of their table was suddenly around us. I realized everyone had heard my statement. Including both bartenders. Despite having eaten nothing solid all day and still recovering from a previous hangover, I immediately realized this was the best that could be hoped for. I made a mental assessment of my health and level of intoxication and found that most of the bullshit I had been speaking that night, had actually been of the sober variety. Which meant, (in many instances of previous experience) I was top of my game.

While "Scot" laughed uncontrollably, she took notice,

"Drinking is your sport?"

"Sport, Art and Science" (oh go on!)

She purchased the first round. Jagerbombs. Child's play. Jagermeister is truly a masters spirit. Under estimated by the novice, it is only attempted by the professional after conquering each of the three wise men (Tequila, Whiskey and Vodka). However, when combined with red bull, the effects are diluted, ensuring that an accomplished drinker has nothing to fear from stumbling like a moron. The greatest risk is merely premature heart failure.

There is an etiquette to drinking spirits most people over look. While some cultures suggest that you must overturn the finished shot glass, others insist it be placed upright on the bar. In the case of tumbler glasses, this is always the custom. However, in competition, there is one often overlooked standard. To win, your shot glass MUST hit the bar before all others and for the finale, you MUST take the drink with a completely straight face. Any sign of weakness will be immediately sought out and attacked. I was aces.

Five rounds later, and the threat of brutal beatings had subsided. "The Point" had been vanquished, and left the bar sullen having realized his position. My job as "wingman" had gone stunningly. "Scot" was chatting with the girl and I was milling around taking to a variety of the local inhabitants about the status of South Africa, asking about different beer, and discussing the finer points of Nigerian dance hall music.

Live music followed, with a few requests from "scot" and myself going off stunningly well, turning what was a normal night into one of that bars best. Drinks were poured by others, few were paid for by me. The girls overly protective drunken brother had been rendered retarded with drink and the remaining friends of there's were just happy we weren't English.

Of course, things can't go on forever in good health. Which how I found myself speaking to some strange psychotic who was somehow involved in the running of the bar. The only Englishman allowed in it seemed, which was understandable considering his behaviour. Then I noticed the tattoo, which the internet conveniently has many representations of. The tattoo was none other than the emblem of the SAS. The British Special Air Service.

No stranger to unfortunate home-made tattoos and recognizing the image as that of the badge of the SAS, I realized what the situation was. The psychotic I was speaking to was one of three things:

1. An active SAS member
2. A past-serving SAS member
3. A total and complete walt

While this was never determined, the tattoo was done by hand. Further I don't believe a serving member would be allowed to wear a tattoo of the unit on his forearm. However, I didn't ask.

The night began to wind down. The SAS man demanded that the bar stay open and so the dregs of our party sat around smoking cigarettes indoors (to my great pleasure) and drinking free booze until around 1 or 2. Having consumed enough alcohol to kill a horse, "Scot" and I ventured out for food. Arriving at possibly the worst chinese-food takeaway I've ever had in my life. In my drunken state, I finished half of my meal and then started berating the staff over the quality of the food considering its expense. The reaction: Stone-faced reserve. I handed my meal back to the staff (politely) and walked outside to find the SAS man hunched over on the pavement with an opaque blue liquid dribbling out of his mouth unconscious. He had followed us there. What had happened to him, I do not know, but I knew it was time to go home.

Immediately finding a taxi, I said goodbye to "Scot" and the girl, and went home to endure one of the most painful hangovers of my life. I don't think London is any more different than any other place I've been to in the western world. Differences between major cities are superficial. Spoken language, street names and product names. The rest is identical. There is always some vortex of the bizarre where ever you happen to be. If you seek it, you'll find it. My best advice is to avoid it at all costs. For whatever reason, I can't.

Monday, July 10, 2006 Rotting Corn of The Glorious Five Year Plan

I'm dangling my legs over the edge of my grandparent's open grave. I can see the two caskets 6 feet down smeared with dark clay. Its a nice day out and the manicured grass is cool and damp. My grandparents lived in a time when material things didn't matter as much and people got through life on their word and with purpose. And now they have no words, all that's left is the skeletal remains of their physical presence, stored wastefully in expensive boxes on expensive real estate. Their death isn't a departure, but a final and perfect adaptation to a world filled with material without purpose.

Monday to Friday I stare at the light of a photocopier, blinking every time it produces another memo. Monday to Friday from 6am to 5pm I can predict to the minute exactly how my future turns out. And then Friday, at 5pm I hit the event horizon. Sunday afternoon I sit in the wake of destruction and shock of another weekend with new zeal for the predictability of my work week.

Friday night and I head downtown to meet up with some friends. On this particular evening we are all meeting at God''s Blind Spot. A grueling bar at the best of times. Regardless, the beer is cheap and considering the massive quantities of that particular poison which is required to get through an evening, it is the only option. Sober and still wearing my upstanding work clothing I arrive at the bar.

During the week I work in an office that has a series of televisions constantly tuned to 3 different news networks. I can watch our wars in stereo over a cup of coffee. Monitor #1 shows a nameless Middle Eastern city street after a car explosion. Monitor #2 shows a train bombing in India. Monitor #3 shows the World Cup. Iraqi insurgents and Kashmiri terrorists ahead by 1, and will therefore go on to the next round pending the results of the Croatian/Australia match.

While important people are doing important things, I occupy the majority of my mental ability around the defining aspects of life. File corruptions, paper cuts, smiling enough but not too much, avoiding work while looking as though I am exceeding the expectations of my employer. The edge of reality blurs further when I watch the news and once in a while I know the person on the screen personally.

And now, it's Friday, I am going to the bar. I walk through a mob of street kids and punks who are in the midst of a battle royale. Blood and booze take the place of thought and personality. But I have resolved to avoid that type of behaviour. I push through the crowd without stopping and walk in the door of the emptied bar. The owner sullenly handles a mop with a disgruntled look of confusion and anger, lost as a bastard son on father's day. My friends are nowhere to be seen, then the feeling comes rushing over me like water crawling up my spine when I realize my shoes are sticking to the floor. Looking down I notice that someone has decided to decorate the tile with a great quantity of slowly congealing blood. I imagine that from the empty nature of the place, this new scheme has not gotten the approval of the management. Without a doubt in my mind I know this has something to do with my missing friends.

Events like this usually follow a certain logic. The following formula can be applied. Bar - Friends + Blood = Hospital. The convenience of which is a matter of steps from the bar. Reaching the hospital, Jimi is in the waiting room.

It seems that after a few beers Jimi decided to use the washroom. Jimi had reacted to an unprovoked exchange of insults with some fuck-up from Soux St. Marie. This individual had decided that some unnecessary surgery inflicted on Jimi would better illustrate his point in their disagreement. So, the son-of-a-bitch bit Jimi's ear off. This was immediately followed by a massive 30 person bar fight, resulting in absolute drunken anarchy accentuated by Jimi slipping on his own blood looking for his ear. All of which, I was happily absent for and blissfully unaware of up until seeing Jimi at the hospital.

The blue glow of the photocopier rolls on and I'm sitting in a living room. The white paint has changed with age into the colour of a well-used urinal. The coffee table is dusted with cigarette ash and the room is furnished with used 30 year old furniture. Everyone is staring off silently and the moist hot air of July marks the rooms presence, leaving me with the feeling of a wax coating over my skin. I'm thinking of Jimi and his ear. Everyone tried to make light of the situation with friendly jokes, I got him a Van Gogh print and a bottle of absinthe for his birthday. The fun thing about absinthe is... well... nothing. Its expensive, tastes terrible and makes me act insane.

Drinking Absinthe. I was separated from my group of friends at an after-hours bar that night. I somehow managed to make the acquaintance of an Azerbaijani Importer/Exporter. I haggled with him over the unit price of a Russian built armoured car and the cost of body armour. Later, I found him in an altercation with a biker. Obviously the most logical thing to do when you see a 5ft 6 Azerbaijani being pinned against the wall by a 6ft 5 biker, is to put your self right in there. Go ahead! Don't just walk into the jaws of hell with a stupid drunken look on your face, run screaming all the way down. So I tapped the guy on the shoulder,

"So ah, whats your name pal?" I asked oh-so-cleverly.


"Really? Is that Czech?"

Anyone who can get away with calling themselves Buzzsaw is called that for a reason. Seeing that the etymology of names was not Buzzsaw's interest, I changed the topic to shotgunning a pint of beer. I found out sitting in my friends living room the next day that I beat Buzzsaw in a drinking contest, then took a bite out of my pint glass, chewed the glass and spit out the pieces. I then left the bar, found my friends waiting outside, was asked for a cigarette by a crackhead and told him to start running. I then proceeded to chase the crackhead for a city block. The troubling thing is that I still haven't gone to a hospital about the glass but I do have an appointment with the Azerbaijani on Thursday regarding a Russian armoured car.

I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing.

After the revolution in Russia and once Stalin had come to power, he instituted a series of five year plans which were designed to industrialize his country to the equivalent levels of its western counterparts. One of the ideas was to plant North American corn as an alternative to wheat because of its variety of uses and higher food yield. However, Russia did not have a national economy sufficiently adaptable for the introduction of a new industry, so the corn rotted in the fields.

I'm staring at the print pattern on the walls of my cubicle. I put away my days work and head home to my one room apartment. Once I get inside I find the timer on my coffee maker is still working. However, instead of coffee I have a packet of instant noodles cooking in the decanter to save the trouble of preparing a meal when I get home. I recently got a goldfish for my birthday so I walk over to its bowl and drop in a flake of fish food which he eats instantly.

My fish is named "The Glorious Five Year Plan".

Sunday, May 14, 2006 Staring Into The Sun

My apartment is, (for some reason), directly under the flight path of every airplane coming into the city. Tomorrow I'm going up onto the roof and setting up a help sign in red paint. If they land, they must take off, when they do, maybe they'll send back help. At least that's the theory.

Things have calmed down a bit. Just enough to get working on repairing the barricades and collecting food for the coming winter. The tide of humanity that is everyday life has no concern for the well being of me, so when the zombies come on the first of the month pounding on my door and in slurred animal speech demanding rent money, I better have it. The only question is how.

The Stupidest Things I've Done (that I can talk about)

When I was 19 I had a fear of heights. The usual event of walking around downtown was given some warped purpose when I decided it was necessary for me to climb the 40 foot arches at city hall. Three concrete arches stretch over an ice rink, the width of each arch being about 1.5 feet. The added fun of this event was that I had just come back from a party so my head state wasn't exactly clear. I hopped the small fence which pathetically deters anyone with a slight note of common sense from going up there, but I would not be stopped. I could feel the stone-speckled concrete under my naked hands. Their heat immediately sucked from my flesh against the cold stone. Moving upward, I eventually reached the top of the arch. In the night sky at winter, the full impact of my actions was not entirely clear until I sat with my feet danging over the edge. I looked down and realized I'd done something incredibly stupid when the homeless people who gathered around the square were staring up at me. Fine. I'd gone this far, what's wrong with testing the functions of the machinery? Why not see its full performance?

I hung by my hands off the edge of that thin ledge. I could feel the perspiration beginning to seep out of my hands as they clung to the cold concrete. Slowly, my fingers began shifting over the tiny pebbles embedded in the cement. I could feel the outlines of each tiny rock as it passed slowly under my fingers like braille. I jolted to try and gain leverage against the stone, shifting my body forward underneath the arch. This caused my stomach to drop as my back became parallel to the ground below. In jerked gestures I moved one arm forward at a time, until I was exhausted, but safely grasping the ledge. I very nearly killed myself that day. Was not the first time, was not the last time.

I should be dead by all normal logic, but for some reason I escaped. Remind me to send God or Baal (or whoever is in charge of fate) a gift basket of Danish cheese. That's like a hundred dollar gift right there.

After climbing the arches I had the taste of the shockingly weird. All of us ended up at Yonge and Eglinton. A neighborhood comprised of the same mold output of yuppies found in most neighborhoods across Toronto. Not exactly the spot you'd think insanity could be set loose on the city like medical test monkeys escaping from cages. Most people ignore the fact that the best of times can happen in the worst places, its all up to the creativity/insanity/irresponsibility of the individual.

Actually that's bullshit, because by that point the night was boring and we had nothing do to. Rambling down the sidewalk looking for something of interest. No money, no direction and no purpose is a dangerous mix. These ingredients are usually the seed of life changing events. We were walking as a group and I noticed a taxi cab unlike any other I had ever seen. Its hood up, and fire streaming from the engine. The natural reaction would be to cross the street, or at least to put yourself out of harms way. But as I've said before, I am not known for my good ideas. The driver was running around in circles with a fire extinguisher trying to save his livelihood before it burst into a diesel fueled wreck all over Yonge street. I had an unlit cigarette, and no lighter so the solution presented itself. I leaned over the hood and lit my cigarette while trying to make sure that it didn't cost me my eyebrows or hair in the process.

Such clever and timely responses are hallmarks for people like me. The normal, uninteresting ones which eventually, just let go.

Thriving in the misfortune of others is an activity best reserved for professional evil, a practice too rich for my blood as I've felt terrible about it since that day. I'm not sure if the Vatican has a name for the sin of lighting a cigarette off of a burning car. But regret aside, I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that the cigarette I had that night was the best tasting cigarette I've had in my life. The irresponsibly wealthy are rumored to occasionally make the silent indulgence of their status by lighting a cigar with a dollar bill. This, of course as we know, is simply a waste of money. Where as the truly irresponsible can use my method, wasting the much more valuable human decency and common sense.

Staring into the sun is not a hobby I would suggest to everyone, but then again neither is having a fire extinguisher fight on the top floor of a hotel you aren't staying at. The entropic anomaly that proves chaos is a necessary presence. If it weren't for the random, what would we have? Patterned order. And the thing about patterns is, they go on forever. Forever predictable, accountable, done, spent.

This idea has been ingrained into me for over a decade now. Showing up to work with candle wax and belt marks on my back may not provide for the most "professional" presence, but balanced against the "photocopied work week" it can give purpose to life simply by wondering what will happen next Friday night.

I found myself in a cab with Bob. He was bringing us to an after hours somewhere. This should have been cause for alarm. But, it wasn't, because I was oblivious. Arriving at this place, we stepped through the door to the image of some thug running toward us.


Apparently on a previous visit, Bob had ridden a trouble maker down the stairs like a sled for committing the trespass of being "dishonorable". If you ever find yourself in an argument with a giant, super-intelligent Pict who speaks fluent Klingon, the last thing you want to do is portray yourself as "dishonorable". And so Bob attained the handle "Captain America." After everyone in the room went through the handshakes and the back pats we settled down long enough for me to clear the mist and realize the situation I was in. Two thugs stood at the door in leather trench-coats watching the room. A selection of equally brutal street soldiers and half dressed strippers stood around the room. After a drink I managed to get myself through the vortex as usual. This time I came to the realization that I was in a conversation with some guy about the perspective future of the Selassie Dynasty. Okay, let me explain.

If every answer begs a question, then this should put you out on the corner for a few years. Years ago I met a relative to the Ethiopian Crown. Exiled since the 70's due to a communist coup, the heir to the throne has since resided in London, UK. However, a good portion of his family has become American. I met his grand-nephew and became decent friends with him. In return, he decided to give me the honorary title of "Ras" which in European terms equates to "Duke".

That alone would cause for some social strife, except for the fact that everyone in the room at the time was Jamaican. So to connect all the dots, Back when Emperor Hallie Selassie visited Jamaica, the Rastifari decided to acknowledge him as the Living Jah or in other terms, the representation of God on earth. This was in exchange for the passing remark that if the Rastifari wished, they could make Ethiopia their homeland. To make the importance of this clear, The word Rastifari stems from the words Ras Tafar I, the title and name of the Emperor Selassie before his coronation.

Back at the after hours I had just informed the extremely stoned man with the serious face that I had received a title granted to me by a grand-nephew of the gentlemen he believed to be the incarnation of living God. Not exactly the type of thing you want to explain to someone who talks about trees and doesn't mean the tall leafy things that dogs grace with their presence.

This conversation evidently created a degree of interest because I explained the situation to a number of those present. Further I thought I'd throw in some prophecy just to balance it all out.

How to make friends in interesting places.

Then it clicked. Like an adrenaline shot to a morphine addict. Someone asked Bob.

"You his bodyguard?"

"Shit no, He's mine!"

In some places you don't need a phone call or bell to realize when its time to leave. Sometimes the cold shocked stares of 30 bad men is more than reasonably subtle to give directions to the door. Now I've never been one to aggravate a situation, so on Bob's recommendation we left. Getting in a cab we went to McDonald's. Bob bought food, I bought 15 Canada flags designed to attach to the windows of a car. In my condition peering out over the edge of the glass staring at the traffic like a mechanical lion safari, I felt that 15 flags attached to all the windows of the cab were an excellent camouflage to protect against redneck patriots ready to storm down on us. Because by that point of the night, with 20 minutes left until the safety of sleep, anything could happen, and I'd take all the help I could find.

Monday, March 06, 2006 Murphy's Lawyer

New Years Day on the border of Buffalo, NY. I'm sitting in a customs waiting room with approximately 200 Norwegian hockey players. I'm hungover, I've had my pockets emptied and I'm being hassled by a squat middle aged customs clerk with a .45 revolver strapped loosely to her hip. When she laughs the beads of sweat on her face drip lines over her brow and the revolver shakes in its holster. She is now dealing with us after our good friend Akil handed us over to her trust. I'm looking over at Jack and then at the Homeland Security logo taped over whatever American agency used to run customs. There is a plaque on the wall commemorating the open border between Canada and the US. I have been fingerprinted three times and am not allowed to make phone calls or talk to Jack. Jack looks like he is about to flipout. Happy fucking 2006 you sons of bitches.

New Years eve and I'm at some party I can barely remember now. I vaguely remember a big rosedale house filled with the extended band of downtown dropouts that form the backbone of what should be recognized as a "displaced people". The vortex of the improbably attained critical mass in the summer of 2005 and now a community of like minded freaks and outcasts, a few hundred in total has come together. Ofcourse, none of them get along.

Instead the hoard twists and turns with new vendettas and alliances, always meeting up together at mostly the usual places. Meeting up isn't usually about being happy to see someone, its more about making sure everyone else knows you're still around. So the crew of the good ship Queen Annes Revenge arrived at the party standing proudly as one of the factions in this roving leper colony. Adopting the standard pillage that is associated with any house party. I had decided to leave early, a good choice considering mention of a gunfight shortly after my departure. There are many things I do not need to see first hand, small arms warfare is one of them. And if I do ever have to see it, then it better be during work hours and not on my own time.

I arrived at the girls house. I had been with her since Sept. But on arriving at her place she was lying on the ground with a mirror covered in white powder. She had done lines of Ketamine. This drug is marketed as a cat tranquilizer. But it also happens to be nearly exclusively the drug of choice of gay men and my ex-girlfriend. It makes me wonder if the company that makes it has ever wondered why its profit margins go up around the time of gay pride day. So on finding out that my girlfriend had decided that her New Years eve would be skyrocketed to the level of a supreme party by stuffing cat tranquilizer up her nose, well I was a little unhappy with my choice in company. My ability to seek out and befriend the most awful human beings on this planet can only be as a result of a curse put on me in Spain by a gypsy when I was 17. Either that or I shouldn't throw stones. The only word of advice I can give on that topic is, Never try to beat a gypsy at their own game. They take that shit seriously.

That was the state of affairs surrounding me like flies on a dead raccoon. 4am on the first day of 2006 we sat reflecting on an already bizarre night when depression set in. My apartment at the time was the place to be. It rivaled any freight storage facility or garage in the area. When I rented the place it was described as a "studio flat". I have since gone back to the original advert and edited it into some semblance of reality.

Tenant wanted for Soviet-Hip style apartment: Semi-Furnished.

Plenty of standing room for one, this 10ft by 10ft box is equipped with all the modern conveniences of 1950's Tajikistan. Enjoy sleeping on couch cushions while your head and feet touch the opposing walls. Kitchen sink (located conveniently adjacent to cushion bed) gives the impression of tap running water to impress the third world. Don't be fooled though, the only water from this sink is the leaking pipe that will soak you in your sleep, giving you a refreshing nights rest. Refrigerator is climate cohesive (warm room, warm fridge). Bringing new tastes to your food (if you have any). The hot plate that serves as your oven comes equipped with open concept wiring. Remember, only one light can be on if hot plate is in use otherwise the power shorts out. When you wake up wet and refreshed why not have a refreshingly cold shower? It'll keep you on your toes when every 34 seconds the water changes to scalding hot and leaves burn marks on your skin. Windows are taped in place for your security. Night Owl? Hope you like roommates, because you'll be bunking with atleast 2000 roaches, 5 mice and atleast 2 rats. They stay up late and will tend to wake you up. The party lasts all night as you feel your fellow tenants swiftly crawl over your feet at night. If your claustrophobic filthy apartment drives you insane, Indulge! Go ahead and scream! Your new neighbor on the left is a low key convicted sexual predator and your neighbor on the right was just released from CAMH mental hospital and will enjoy talking at you through paper thin walls about her feces.

All this and more can be yours for $550 a month! Can't afford it? No problem! Your mincing homosexual landlord will be more than happy to making passing remarks regarding the exchange of sexual favors for rent! No point in locking your door, Most people have a key so its like an open concept criminal adventure!
Call Today 1-900-Sex-Party (just ask to speak to George!)

So Jack and I sat around being depressed drinking whiskey in my Christmas Light decorated storage shed of an apartment when the idea hit. Coming up with a solution to the worst night of the year to date required inventive thinking. Self-diagnosing advice is what led me to the vortex in the first place. And it was what was going to get me out. Hopefully.

6:50am and We're sitting on a Greyhound bus. We're still trashed and hoped that by bringing some whiskey with us we could keep a hangover at bay for a few hours atleast. All precautions were taken care of. The ever resourceful Bob was on call incase something bad happened. And despite the fact that the night before, someone had slipped 6 hits of LSD into his drink, he was willing to assist if shit hit the fan. Shit, That's like going through a train wreck and saying "Ok, things get bad we've got insurance".

10:04am (I think). Jack and I have always had infinite confidence in the decency and hospitality of our southern neighbor's. They've always been friends and willing to even go out of their way and even to your country of origin just to say hello. Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Panama, Vietnam, Korea. So when we arrived at the border without passports we assumed without a doubt that this was going to be a short stop. However, we didn't count on how spooked they've become. We also didn't count on Check-Point Akil, The Syrian-American customs agent.

3 hours into our lovely conversation with Akil, our bus has left and we've been entered into atleast three government databases as possible "evil-doers". Maybe I'm not giving the Americans enough credit. Maybe they could smell trouble coming. For all I know, they saw the plagues of locust and storm clouds that accompany me well ahead of time. None the less, I learned a valuable lesson. The only thing more dangerous than an armed American is an armed American bureaucrat. So by 2pm Akil had us more ways than a sorority girl looking for inventive ways of paying tuition. Fingerprinted, Photographed, questioned. Our id had been confiscated, pockets emptied and I believe at one point they even made us do a little dance. We sat in the waiting room while 200 Non-English speaking identical Norwegian clones had their immigration cards filled out for them by the authorities. And finally someone came and spoke to us.

"you're still here?"

After hours of waiting and being processed they had forgotten about us. Well I suppose it's a better option than Guantanimo Bay, but the comparatively liberal immigration laws in Cuba would have been a nice change from the Orwellian policies that the United States has instated. Eventually they gave us back our id and shipped us back to the Canadian side. 2000 Mexicans enter the United States illegally each month and yet I can't even get passed the border for a day trip. I think it comes from years of insulting their god. Regardless, we were back in Canada. Beautiful downtown Fort Erie. Home of Steve's ROBO-MART. This border truck stop was the last bastion of my hope. As Jack and I walked toward the ROBO-MART sign I prayed to Baal that somehow this truck stop was secretly a transforming Japanese Robot standing guard against the heathen Yanks. That if we only explained to its controller/store clerk how we were treated, that he would immediately change into a motorcycle helmet and colourful spandex ski-suit and take command of ROBO-MART to smite our enemies.

The 15 year old kid at the counter was playing stupid and the forced blank expression on his face indicated to me that apparently I wasn't "in" enough to talk about the stores secret abilities. A cold wide-eyed stare also indicated to me that I shouldn't mention the Japanese robot again in public. Well Fuck it. With an hour to kill, Jack and I walked to the banks of the half frozen Niagara river staring silently across the water to the land of the free that rejected us so completely. I've dealt with rejection before, but usually it was due to muttered drunken comments about women looking pregnant. I would never make such a comment about Lady Liberty, even if she is a silver-backed coug' at 120 years old. Hours later we were off the bus in Toronto. Scorned by the lessons of God. Dejected and in shock, we sat in a coffee shop with the overwhelming feeling that we should both go to our respective homes and think about what we had done. We saw nothing of the birth of punk, the economic engine of the western world, That rotten apple. Instead we do what we do best, we made it into a story.

"God bless America". I'd believe it. Only a total bastard like him would. God is an American, and I am afraid of Americans.

Saturday, November 19, 2005 Judging Evil.

I'm in the middle of nowhere once again. Some place between Kitchener and Owen Sound in the pocket of Ontario ruled by German Puritans since the 19th century. But now my family owns a small patch of this godless land. I'll be constructing my alter to Lord Baal next summer, maybe even set up a mission...

I'm reading a book about Jerry Adams and Sinn Fein. I've heard a noise outside that might be gangster rappers or possibly some sort of deer. I bet its a deer, the migration patterns of gangster rappers isn't known to travel this far north unless global warming fucks with things.
I'm ready for the bastard because unlike the wild outdoors I've got a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol. Whatever is out there is going to be deep in the shit. I'm pissed off, hungover and have withdrawal shakes plus, this particular means of lead conveyance comes equipped with a hair trigger.

I notice the stains of plastic cheese stolen from 7/11 on my clothes. It matches the orange on the Irish Tricolour Gerry Adams holds on the cover of my book perfectly. It makes me a little nervous as the thought crosses my mind that whatever is outside might smell the "yellow taco caulking".

Its a risk I'll have to take. When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, those brain eaters wont stand for hesitation. If my gun had a safety, it would be off.

Moving outside I unload a couple of rounds into a statue of a hedgehog just to show how serious I am about expressing my opinion.

It was a good thing too, I guess I must have spooked off whatever evil was lurking out there because all I could see was my neighbor walking his dog.

He looked a little spooked so I told him I heard evil doers so I've been shooting off firecrackers all night to keep them at bay. I said it for his own peace of mind. Knowing my neighbor had been a "Justice of the Peace" for 30 years I asked him the legality of the operation of fireworks after having consumed large quantities of whiskey, but the best he could say was that he didn't know. That seemed like a suspicious answer for a law man. Especially since it was 3:30am. I asked him what he was doing snooping around my family property at that time of night and secretly wondered if he was in league with that deer that had disappeared. He said he had heard gun shots and wanted to phone the police. I told him good idea. We could round up a mob and trap the fucker before it gets too far away. Then he asked me if I thought I was funny and accused me of some sort of noise complaint. Shit no Your Honour, those days are far behind me now! I'm a defender of our way of life now! I saw through his schemes, and now I know he's in league with that deer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Hail To The Chief

I woke up this morning and jammed a corkscrew through my alarm clock. The fucker wouldn't stop ringing so I was left with little choice. I need to escape for a few days. Get the city out of my system, relax and learn to put the fear behind me. Living downtown has that effect. There is no escape from the circus when at the end of the day you sleep in it.

From the window I can see the group of crackheads pawing at the door. One of them, I've named George due to his striking resemblance to George W. Bush. I've gone to Goodwill and got a 5 dollar suit and a red tie for him, I'm just trying to figure out how to get him to wear it. At the end of the day when I'm tired from work, broke or just pissed off at the world, it always cheers me up to see George Bush take a pull from a crack pipe and give me that look of a vain attempt to understand what's going on around him. As I walk past George I comment that his policy for "The Next American Century" is based on the false pretense of American domination in terms of military might. George Looks at me and tries to bum some change from me and I laugh at the idea. The other day I saw his crack dealer put a cigarette out on his face.

The idea has passed my mind to take this crackhead put him in the suit, drive to Washington and try to make a switch with the real guy. With a crackhead in the whitehouse, I would put money on the fact that very little would change. And then I remembered that Georgey used to have a coke addiction when he was in university.

George was picking up cigarettes while a gang of thugs chased down some guy with baseball bats in the middle of Spadina Ave. He was apparently trying to steal back his own bicycle while George watched in confusion. In the Zombie Apocalypse, reality is always relative.

Sunday, August 28, 2005 Wretched Animals

Canada looks at Toronto and shakes its head in disgust. Rightly so. Watching the news would give you the concept that Toronto is descending into the seventh layer of hell, so when you meet people who've never been here, they look at you as if they are staring at a traffic accident. Horrified but can't help but look.

From talking to important uniformed old men in wood paneled lounges to getting beaten up by a 40 year old skinhead ex-heroin addict. Yes, thats right. See this bastard was pushing an old man, so I decided he shouldn't do that. Its weird when beliefs mix with fists, what can you do. It ended with me looking in the mirror this morning and realizing I have a black eye and a job interview in two days. Good impressions are hard to come by and have never been my specialty, especially when I turn into a richeous prick. On the bright side, I took the punches so the old guy didnt have to. The shit side is that the old man thought I was a nazi because I keep my hair short. Serves me right for trying to do good.

The monsters I call friends are throwing beer cans all around me, typing in a cross fire of beer and aluminum is distracting when going through scumbag withdrawal. I almost look forward to franchise coffee and strip malls for some peace and quiet. Never happy, never satisfied. Three days, two punk shows, beer tabs big enough to put a downpayment on a mortgage and nothing to show for it but bruises and half remembered parties. Everything smells like infection and stale beer. Jesus, reputable people read this, well no excuses.

I've met almost everyone again, bringing me back to my friends after 4 years of self imposed exile. I have a feeling I'll be having welcome back parties perpetually for 6 months... How did I end up here? Everyone asks it but no one knows. The intensity of this lifestyle is to much to handle for even the boldest of us.

Battlefield journalism was something I never considered as a career, but now, surrounded by 4 massive drunk freaks holding forties of beer, dancing and singing to drop kick Murphy's, I am going back and forth from watching the screen to watching my back. Dave is prostrated over the edge of the couch with a bottle of wine that he emptied in about 10 minutes screaming about Ethiopia for some reason. One day some marketing company will find these people and realize they will make a fortune selling the image of belligerence, and on that day I will not be able to look at my self in the mirror.