Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drawing Bunnies

I started drawing bunnies because I was trying to cheer up a friend who had a bad case of the blues. These first bunnies were actually animal shapes with smiley faces in them, hovering around the head. I got a kick out of them myself because up until that point I was mostly drawing erotic fruit, guts and psychedelic bullshit. When I was ten I would proudly draw big nosed cartoon characters. I would practise Daffy Duck as a pre-teen. As I got older, I got more pretentious and it was all gothic eyeballs and stewed intestines.
    In my early twenties, when I drew a funny animal cartoon it was all angst, sweat drops and panicked expressions on the little critters. In hindsight my friend suffering from depression helped turn me around. I let my art be as light as I could be at times. I wasn't a heavy dude but I drew heavy nightmares and visions. The creatures were twisted organic structures bound with straps, existing in a possibly positive space but serving more as gross-out material than anything else. I loved the supple forms of mangos and pears with labial folds and tumescent piping. Fun stuff, alien porn.
    The bunnies, called Glees, trotted in and said, hey bozo, chillax. They pointed their fingers at humanity and mocked us. They mocked me. They turned, like Bugs before them, into tricksters, aligned Chaotic Good with a wicked helping of Chaotic Neutral or just downright Neutral. They took the piss out. Nervy The Dog, a character I created that featured in maybe two stories total, was a stress case freaking out over everything. The bunnies couldn't care less. They were easy going and happy. Happy, gleeful. They were also easy to draw. When I drew human faces, they invariably were streaked with a thousand lines of weariness, shadows and spots - again with the heavy. The bunnies were smooth as the sexy fruit without the naughty bits poking through. Fast and easy, and cheerful.
    I used them in paintings and comics, I had them embroidered, I cut-out tin can collages, I made papier maché bunnies. If I was faced with a new medium I would cut my teeth with a bunny. I knew the design well enough to try it out in any material.
    Of course people thought I had a thing for rabbits. Couldn't give a damn about rabbits. I'm more of a squid or great cat guy. Rabbits and hares are amazing animals of course, like all animals, but I never had a soft spot for them. The very first drawing I did that led to the bunnies actually was a blocky chunk with Mickey Mouse ears. The bunnies I draw today, still called bunnies, look often like mice or dogs or bears or some creature with big ears. My aunt calls the creatures I draw 'bear cubs', she says it in Greek though and I like it. When I first heard her describe them that way a tiny voice almost came up to correct her but it was squashed dead by a greater voice saying, hey that's good.
    I'm not going to start rebranding now, the damned things are bunnies. My wanky side has described them in interviews as not cartoons of rabbits but cartoons of cartoon bunnies. Meta enough for that bong of yours ? In any case the basic bunny form is now a vessel, a vehicle, a platform, a support for any of my scribbling tendencies - unbroken curved lines, sleek and flowing, gestural asemic scratchings, blended gradations, psychedelic auric fade-outs, whatever I want. I can draw a mess of eyeballs and intestines, even some genitalia for god's sake and throw a couple of ears on top and voilà, bunny.
    There were some recent years when I felt like Leonard Nimoy fighting off his Spockhood. I kept the bunnies at a distance, they made cameos in comics but not in any serious art (yes, I know how that sounds, I'm a cartoonist, even a graphic novelist). I am still tired of civilians who think that widely varying cartoon bunnies look like mine, or that they liked that TV show I never worked on. Cartoon bunny taxonomy is vast, and it's pearls before swine if I have so explain the difference between a Garfield and a Heathcliff, let alone Krazy and Bill.
    Last year or so, for a lark and to decorate a new snack bar with lots of toys as decor, I banged out a slew of bunny paintings using cheap dollar store paints and repurposed canvas. It was a blast. I've always been aware of artists who never once stopped presenting their stupid cartoon characters as subjects for painting. I took a detour into douchebag land with all that implies about pride and seriousness. I'm back again, reclaiming my art as, you guessed it, mine. I was never on the career track towards the Tate anyway. I'm not doing coke with a curator unless they are also a friend. And every bit of wisdom I have read regarding art most always states something about following your heart, being true to yourself, doing what you love.
    I love the way these critters stare at me with their huge smiles. I love how they judge me and keep me on my toes. If I'm not careful, they may start breeding like rabbits and take over my life.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Father's Garage

Growing up, the garage was my Dad's domain. It still is, though the house has changed and I no longer live with him. In the garage was/is a work bench of some sort, countless small cubbies and jars and drawers filled with the tools of his trade. When I was young my father worked as a cabinet maker before starting his own business running a diner. He's quite handy and would see to the home improvements himself, even larger tasks like cutting a hole in the kitchen floor and building a rounded pine spiral staircase to a now existing basement.
    His drawers full of washers, nuts and bolts, screws and nails, his assortment of tools, his odds and ends inspired me. Where he would put things together, I enjoyed taking things apart. Not with the view of understanding how they worked, usually they were broken things in the first place. I simply enjoyed the piecemeal pastime of slowly taking things apart, my dad's set of mini screwdrivers in hand.
    I would take apart the old clock radio and keep whatever piece I liked. My brother and I were avid scale model makers, so bits of plastic were often the very air we breathed - joined by Testors model cement. Putting models together, taking radios apart, I dealt in fiddly things. Small details, small hands. The parts from long broken models, or the secondary optional pieces were saved for future projects. We already were aware of scratch building and knew that a good model maker had an array of parts to choose from. My relationship with small pieces of junk is informed by this background - my father's garage, model making and taking things apart. Finding things would become the fourth horseman.
    My father's garage, it occurred to me many years later, was what I was ritualizing when I would collect rusted washers and pin them to my jean jacket. Whereas he saw these components as being useful - and knew how to use them, I abstracted them into fetish objects. I took his tools and hardware and turned them into sacred hippie relics, tied up in buckskin pouches, dangling from my closet door handle. He of course made fun of me, seeing me sitting cross legged in my teenaged bedroom, an assortment of seashells, stones, rusted metal, bone and plastic arrayed in front of me as I strung them into necklaces or fashioned velvet pouches to carry them in. I sewed many pouches in my day, and made many pieces of jewellery -part hippie, part urban decay. My father would poke his head in and comment if I was having fun playing with my la-la. Verbatim. My La-La, should be capitalized. Of course I took offense, but knew better to make a big deal of it and just deflected what I could.
    How does a hard working man, whose hands are gnarled tree roots that can easily break me in half, make sense of his long haired son weaving strands of macrame around his wrists, surrounded by pictures of Jesus, Mary and Gandalf ? How can he not make fun of that ? How could anyone not ?
    So today, I am a collector of small objects. I place them in jars, I'm making art from them. I've learned a thing or two about being handy in the real life way and am astounded that some of my forty your old male friends don't know how to put up a shelf. I've learned about home repair, not on a grand scale, but enough to not be too intimidated by renovations. I've taken over my dad's garage, the one he set up in the shop I now run. I've made it mine but have kept tons of his components. I use them. I use the tools. I have a foot in each country, my father's and my own.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Accretions, Breakthroughs, Collections

For the last several days I have been going through my various jars of small found pieces, organized by material - wood, plastic, metal. Some jars are mixed, if the piece I am hoping to keep somehow straddles worlds, or if the metal, plastic or wood jar was full. Beads, single earrings, snapped leather strands, glass knob, seashell, toy wheel - such things go into a jar invisibly marked miscellaneous.
    I have many jars, three devoted to colourful plastic parts. The jars started out as charming vintage ones, from pickles or some such, labels and all. These got scarce quickly and mason jars came into the picture. Mason jars are timeless, even the new ones have some old world charm about them. The plastic I keep can be the inner bits of a box of floss, a lost Kinder toy piece, a small doll shoe, a Spirograph wheel, a small tube from some pen, mostly toy details and obscure industrial components. I've always taken things apart, the ritual counterpart of seeing my father actually make things, his collections meant to be used.
    I've kept my old macrame bracelets, the pull strings from long gone hoodies, bathroom chain, rusted washers, dried rubber bands from date stamps, clock parts, half a dried lime, broken keychains. I've kept crap like this all my life. In the last two years or so, as a response to this growing collection of mayhem and the anxiety it can cause, I started on the dubious campaign of organizing it. Jars proved useful in that my collections took on discrete identities and were quite beautiful seen through glass. I even exhibited them in an art show centered around collecting and it's shadow side, hoarding.
    Now, with the jar trick, I was able to identify what it was that I collect. I collect collections. I have numerous ill-defined ones. Once a jar is full, I can more easily decide if that particular collection merits a second jar. Shall I start picking up more bits of shaped wood to fill a second jar or can I cap it at one ? One, it is ! This way, I can nip it in the bud. Sorry alluring bit of wood, you will stay where I first spotted you, in a discarded shoebox full of junk drawer cast offs left on the sidewalk on moving day, beside the fridge contents and the bedbug bureau.
    Since I've taken to organizing my collections, I've become better at leaving things behind. Not only that but I've also taken to using the parts to create something new, which may have been the purpose of starting to collect in the first place. I found, with being overwhelmed with actual real-life tasks and jobs, that I had neglected to book an exhibit for the gallery for a rapidly approaching month. Quickly, and with the support of my trusty girl-friday, I came up with the idea of mounting an exhibit of the accidental clusters that accumulate within certain quarters of the shop. Before I knew it, I pulled out a treasured found collection, one I thought would remain intact forever. It came from a friends basement, the detritus left behind by previous tenants. It came from an old Greek man, It was the bottom half of a two litre carton of milk stuffed with thin straight coloured seven inch lengths of bendable wire, jutting out like a rainbow obsessive nightmare. Pure potentiality. Of course, it was a perfect ready-made, something I was looking forward to counting as part of my art.
    I found myself pulling a length out and twisting it around some odds and ends. I added to it, antique fake leaves, my teenaged jewellery, rusted metal, spools of thread, toy parts, fishing lures. In a flurry one afternoon I cobbled together several of these fetishes, meant to hang on a bent nail from a stark white wall. I was using my junk. I was unabashedly dipping into thirty year old archives of once treasured objects and fashioning something new from them. Better still, I allowed my partner access to this stash so she too could make art from it.
    This might sound like no big deal to those of you who purchase wall units and glass and metal furniture, laminations of movie posters to go over the love seat. But to collectors of small found objects, who struggle with why they do what they do, this is a big deal. I've turned a serious corner. And to boot, I'm making art that I'm seriously excited by, art that waited years if not decades to manifest.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Building Blocks

What makes a story ? This question has been raising itself every so often, butting into my consciousness. I am never particularly satisfied with any of my attempts at an answer. I know a story when I hear one or when I read one or when I see one. I don't even think about it. When I try to think one up, though, it seems to be only a part of a story, like a word is only part of a sentence. If someone asks me to tell them a story, I freeze, go all formal, worry about beginning middle and end. I forget that a story can really be anything. A word, a sentence or a paragraph.
    Maybe even just a letter.
    A moment is only part of a day but a story can be built around a moment. This is where maybe I get tripped up, the fractal nature of story.
    Every word in any text can be a portal that leads to some other world. Imagine is every word here was a link leading to another page. And so on. We'd never get to the end of those thousand and one nights. We'd evade a beheading with sheer distraction. We'd also wear ourselves out.
    Story is one of those things that the world is made of. Our identities are stories we tell ourselves, stories other people slap on us, stories we can't shake, stories that tie us down or even liberate us.
    We tell our mate about our day. We tell our friends about the guys at work. We tell strangers about our secret affairs. We tell ourselves that we are cute or dumb or fat or poor or lonely or happy. We often are set on loop, repeating the same old stories about ourselves, about our parents. We lock people in with words describing them. We can rewrite history literally by changing words, by switching meanings, by making the good guys bad, by turning villains into heroes.
    I've rediscovered mythology. I took a long detour away from conscious recognition of how it underwrites the world. I got caught up in matters at hand, so to speak, in politics, in popular opinion versus the lone voice in the wilderness. I took sides, rooted for the underdog, scowled at the bully with his status quo. It took me a while but I think I may have returned home and I think the path there is paved with myths. Old old stories, told in poetry, told of the gods and the worlds and the animals and the ancestors.
    What makes a story ? Better to ask what the world is made of. The world is made of stories.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

On Yearning

Some songs make me yearn for something heavy. Nothing in particular, just solid, deep yearning. Some songs just punch you in the heart and open this place where longing and bittersweet pain mingle and confound you.
    Longing is something I've long associated with. I reckoned it as a major force in my life early on. I would yearn and long and weep and swell my heart. I would imagine how incalculably awesome it would be to merge with old mossy walls, to enter the landscape. No, it wasn't imagination. It was imageless. It was pure emotion. My kisses turned to bites. I needed union with X. No matter how far away, I reached out my heart strings, those auric ropes that when severed make you grind your teeth and rend your clothing. I would reach out those tendrils and they would wrap themselves around the object of my longing.
    Often it was a girl, someone who I fixated upon, someone who would complete me. Of course, it's now that I see it was the yearning itself I wanted. I loved the state, so romantic to need something distant, other, removed, transcendent, spectacular. Craving, relishing future morsels, ordering a second burger half way through the first. Not necessarily living in the present, caught somewhere between past and future, skipping over what was directly in front of me. Preferring some moment yet to come, maybe never to come.
    Some songs make every pore in me quiver, gasping for air. Every pore puckering, gulping as much love as they can. Arid stretches where I simply walk weakened with thirst, giddy from hunger, light headed because some something greater than I hovers near but still just slightly out of reach. Curves to dwell on, trees that make you ache, skies pounding out cloud after cloud of intangible handfuls.
    Some songs make me wail, make me mourn, make me shudder sobs, make me cry, simply put, make me cry. Open wounds, cracked scabs oiled over and peeled away, heart, heavy, hope, words like that. Vastness of feeling, reaching, failing, gasping. All that.
    Very few songs do all this. Songs I can't tell you which ones. Songs I don't know right now. Music I can't play, can't understand. Some soul, some blues, some folk, some dirge dragging every widow from grave to grave, baskets of flowers, dumb struck children following closely, staggered greys all around, threat of spring, threat of summer, threat of full life ripening, forever always.

Friday, April 25, 2014

And Baby Makes Writing And Drawing Happen

This is the fifty-sixth instalment of a daily writing practice. I started with the intention of doing it for one month. I'm now nearing two. It was been a good thing. Sometimes I have no idea what to write about but to date I have yet to skip a day. This exercise has allowed me to hone a skill long desired but generally dormant. I've wanted to do this for a long time but never made the time for it, never showed up to the office, so to speak. Now I am showing up and even doing some work.
    Six months ago my son was born. I never really imagined that being a parent would be part of my life but alas, it is so. This parenthood has forced me to face several pressing issues in my life, one being my penchant for putting things off until the boiling point. With a baby one can't really change the diaper later or make some toast for your hard working partner later. One gets out of bed and jumps into action at a moment's notice. One does things now in groggy states, in wakeful states, no matter.
    When I embarked on a daily writing habit, I wasn't sure what would happen. Several things did. The first thing I noticed was a severe release of pressure. Anxiety long slow-cooking in me and raging out at inopportune times was slowly dissipating. I was not fully released from it's grips of course but I was palpably helping myself. I was doing something good for me that didn't involve hedonism. I found that I was organizing my thoughts and feelings. I was expressing myself, first with memoir and later with personal essay. I reached into my memories and dragged old stories out, nothing earth shaking, nothing dramatic. It felt good, though. It was still a release. I'm sharing the occasional link on social networks and am getting the very occasional page hit or compliment. This is practice. If I pull off a year, I'll have more than enough raw material for some sort of book. If I don't have a book, I'll have a bunch of stuff I wrote.
    Two weeks ago I decided to add another small task to my already over full plate. I started a daily drawing routine. I would cut some four by six inch piece of card and draw a cartoon bunny on it with pencil. I would use a smudge stick to render it. When the drawing was finished I'd stamp my name on the back side, sign it and scribble the year. Then I'd slip it into a plastic collectors bag meant for manga books. I've sold two of these things for forty dollars each. This feels like I've already written about this. I cannot real whether I have or not and the last thing I'll do is slog through previous blog posts to see if I have.
    The drawing is keeping my hand limber. Bunnies are easy and fun to draw and come in a variety of moods and styles. It's all pencil so far, which I enjoy. It's less committal than ink and lends itself to fast techniques of shading.
    So I have a baby, a business that I am not neglecting, a new writing routine and now a daily drawing one. I don't go out as much anymore, I certainly am not drinking or getting high anymore. I have time, I have energy. I'm trying to work towers a plan that will continue to change my life for the better. So far so good.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I've made peace with the fact that I am a collector. I am eternally grateful that the things I collect have near zero market value. Also, that for the most part, they are small things. I collect paper. I collect scraps of paper. Small printed details, drawings, kids art, water blurred garage sale posters, odd bits of ephemera, poetry leaflets, doubly exposed found photos, 1970s craft magazines, battered vintage books on prehistoric life and outer space. There are many groups and sub groups, many that have no discernible theme except in my eye. I collect minuscule scraps of paper, some half the size of a postage stamp. I get these plasticized like identity cards. I have a hundred of them. I also collect the occasional label drawn on and stuck by street artists. I harvest the ones half hanging loose. I smooth them down flat on a piece of card and write the street and the month and the year I find them.
    I used to collect the odd designs printed on the bottoms of cardboard boxes. When I worked in warehouses I would find some strange logos and motifs. I got to thinking that many of these signs represented nothing more than the cadres of buddies who worked in box factories. I used to collect comics. I can't bother picking them up anymore. Of course if I happen upon some copies of old Boris Karloff Presents or Ka-Zar Lord Of The Hidden Jungle for a buck or two, I'll pick them up, I'm not crazy.
    My rule, loose and sloppy, about collecting is that I am not a completist and that I don't have to collect it. I'm getting good at letting things go. For a year or two i collected wooden spoons. Then one day thrifting I just didn't bother buying some spoons I found. And then the spark fizzled. I tell the story of scouring all the bookstores in my hometown for examples of concrete poetry. I'm adept at pulling avant-garde periodicals from the messy shelves of good will shops. Invariably that white spine belongs to a book published by a small Canadian press in 1973. I can spot them a mile away. The second hand bookshops in Montréal, though, very rarely have what I'm looking for in the poetry department. On a recent visit to Toronto, I checked out a very well curated bookshop and asked my usual question - 'got anything by way of concrete or visual poetry, photocopy art, mail-art, text manipulations, that sort of thing ?' Instead of getting a blank stare or some tepid attempt to sell me Apollinaire, the clerk brought out a huge stack of exactly the material I look for. At that point it became, how much money would I want to spend. I bought a fine volume for thirty dollars and haven't cared much for the stuff since.
    Scarcity or the hunt is key. Milling about flea markets with unlimited funds is not collecting, it's shopping. Most of what I collect is tied to finding. And what I most like to find are things I didn't know I was looking for. Some Hassidic kids homework sheets, a stained flyer, a printed glitch, the dedication page of a mangled old book. What I want resonates with an unknown history. It has texture and life. It doesn't come by the dozen. It's oblique and hints at mystery.
    The stuff I collect fits in file folders, shoe boxes, stacks. It gets sorted through often and rearranged. It gets confused with art. It get's exhibited, shown, flaunted. It may even get sold. One thing for sure, it's not going to weigh down my kid and it's not going to line my coffin.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tools Of The Trade

Along with the image of a cavorting chess board, disorienting poor existing creatures like ourselves come a few other images in the same category. The chess board, as seen earlier, divides the plane into white and black tiles, each colour representing one of two possible perspectives. Then they come together and form a lattice they hint at grey, the third path. This chessboard, when seen through the fish eye lens of dream, cannot help but tilt and quiver. The strategy game men play in the park is a far cry from this cosmic farce. This playing board speaks of unknown and ever changing rules. One quickly forgets what side one is on. Which are my playing pieces? which my opponents ? My opponent looks a lot like me. Why are there Monopoly playing pieces on a chessboard ?
    Some situations in life call for drastic measures. Sometimes, on the battle field, when faced with non-stop absurdity of the highest order the options for response are limited. Either on slumps to the floor, starts drooling and thrubbing ones lips with a forefinger or one takes action. The action in this case is to quickly make a Napoleon hat from scratch. If one is adept at shaping aether, all the better ! Fashion yourself a hat, this token will bestow power. If all you have is cardboard and tape, get cracking but I will say, your imagination is quicker and doesn't lead you into the dead ends craft time can land you. The hat, often seen in the loony bins of funny pages, is a shamanic item that will lead you through chaos mostly intact. It will allow you to stand up tall, take charge of the situation irregardless of whether or not you are a natural born leader of men.
    The next things you'll need are a clipboard to take down notes and a pointing stick. The stick will allow you to isolate details that strike you as absurd. Aha! you shout, that thing is melting and/or dancing. Take a note of it. These tools will help you analyze your environment thus gaining control over it. Remember, the battle field, the game board, the mean streets, the drawing room….all these places are stand ins for the fun house, that shape shifting ground that can topple you as soon as set you on your way.
    The last image that will help the weary traveler in these rolling lands in a clear understanding of the origins of language. It is imperative that the black and white of the chess board are understood to also represent the twin parents of spoken tongues - the laugh and the cry. These two primal modes of expression twist together tightly and within that nexus is the fruit that ripens into all spoken communication. Heed this. You can switch easily from one to the other if you understand this key. As you take things too lightly you can add a dash of gravity. If you're sobbing through the jungles you can add a sprinkle of levity. What's funnier than a monkey lost in the forest, especially if that monkey thinks it's a man ?
    I offer these dream images to you, dear reader, in the hopes that you see what a silly place this is. It is of course heart rending and at times joyous. It can be both, damnably so. One must be equipped to tramp through these wilds. A hat to cover your head and lend you authority, a notepad to document the madness, a stick to notice things with, an expansive understanding that the roots of language can change your moods. Onwards !

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guess What ?

Certainty is a crutch. Knowledge is false comfort. Being informed is one of the biggest wastes of energy one can participate in. Go ahead, read the news, see if I care. Oh damn it, I do care. I care about our collective search for meaning, I care that you think keeping up on the press releases from our owners is a good and important pursuit. I care because I have compassion. The news junkie is akin to the Moonie, hanging on the every last word from his master. Of course, I'm not in the deprogramming business, so every man for himself.
    I've been in a cult already. I know that sweet flavour of group mind. It's real. It's also short lasting and in the long run no one can say if the pros outweigh the cons. Having done my short tour of duty in a group project, a group intent on worshiping the elementals and celebrating feast day after feast day, I am better equipped to realize that I partake of belief systems. I know that I just may believe certain things. Knowledge of what my faith may be, mind you, is false comfort. It is also widely inaccurate in that everything constantly shifts. Some pet opinion of mine is dashed to bits with a new article read. Just like changing shirts as some old bastard said of belief. Switch it up.
    The sorriest fools I've encountered are the one's with faith unrecognized. They puff and preen regarding the latest finding, doled out to them from sanctioned sources of course. Sceptical about any questionable thing except their own news sources. This happens time and again. If you are going to be sceptical, go for the whole thing, old friend. Question everything, not only the straw men your favourite podcasts have already selected. Question what and who you are, why you eat what you eat, why you feel how you feel, always and often. Question your brand loyalty, even if their reputation is based on quality and low low prices both. There is a catch somewhere.
    How is it that one can recoil from pundits and authors and honoured guests of Oprah yet swallow whole lines fed by governmental agencies. The mind boggles.
    It's not that I side with the legendary Hashishin and the wry motto hijacked by video-gamed slaves, 'nothing is true, everything is permitted'. No, not so. Lots of things are true. Even some contradictory things. Permissiveness I leave to the society at hand, without having any inclination to agree. We are, to a one, searching for meaning in our lives. Even the cynics and the materialists, even the ones who dismiss meaning and it's search as wastes of time. Even them. They too search. They may search for it in endless fouled up relationships, in extended grudges with best selling authors, in the collecting of immaterial details surrounding television serials. You do it, you think it, you feel it, chalk it up to your humanity. No one can shake that search. Cold grave or waving dead relatives welcoming you into the light, same thing. God, no god, moot point, same thing. Paradox all, paradox always. There is no escape. The thing is the thing. We are one, we are splintered fragments. There is no difference. Pull out all the logic stops, draw charts proving my words empty and I'll laugh if I have the time to honour how you have wasted yours.
    What do I believe ? Who's asking ? And why would you care ? Follow me around and gauge my deeds. Crunch the numbers and conduct severe meta-analysis. There is a creature out there who tricks. There are liars and there are storytellers. There are magicians and wizards. There are cobblers who hoard diamonds under the floorboards, still others who heal the poor souls who come to get some shoes repaired. The cosmos is made of a warp and woof, a black and white tiled checkerboard floor like the stodgy Masons dance on. This fabric wobbles and careens. Upon, within and through it exist all manner of realities, enjoying all grades of existence. That there monster is only sixty-four percent real, that table closer to ninety-eight. Of course, it all depends on where you are standing and who you really are. Stop it, my head hurts. Now, it's yours, is it ? We'll see about that.
    The trickster lives in a place between places. The world axis may determine the land that is ours but others still creep about the borderland. Two is not the biggest number around. Who among you relish ambiguity ? Come then, we'll sit at the same table and tell jokes at the expense of those who think they know what's going on.

Monday, April 21, 2014

On Scale

The theme that returns to me often when considering human life and the cosmos is scale. I have always felt an affinity to the very very small, often attempting to visualize my point of view wading through molecules. The vast empty space said to make up most of the atom, too, is inspiring to me. And one can't just isolate one atom with it's empty space. One needs to consider the whole array of atoms around us for starters. The very small isn't something 'over there'. It's simultaneous with here. It's everywhere.
    My fascination with the very small stems from being a kid and looking at things up close. We don't really do that much as adults. As kids we lay on the floor, our faces close to the tile, the wood grain, the rug. We look at things. We shrink ourselves down and push through the stalks making up the carpet pile, wondering what creatures we may meet. Those marvelous microscopes have shown us that dust mites do indeed live at the micro level along side a variety of creatures whose scale keeps them from freaking us out. The same goes for most things. Sparrows the size of dogs and there wouldn't be human civilization. Squirrels the size of houses, ditto.
    Once upon a time the earth was populated by giants. I don't know what accounted for the great size of the prehistoric beasts, but such things make children marvel. The very small, conversely, is made up of worlds within worlds. There are creatures negotiating our eye-lashes and our pores. There are creatures feeding off the flakes of dead skin we shed. The world has a very good resolution. If your eyes were good enough, you would just keep on seeing. The breakdown might occur at the atomic scale where abstraction may ensue.
    Moving on up, we scurry about the surface of this planet. Solar systems make up galaxies, Galaxy clusters make up super clusters. There is no telling what the final bird's eye view will yield. Too much science fiction has zoomed out to reveal the entire universe is a speck on the rim of some incalculably vast martini glass. And so on. Of course cosmologists have their own ideas and rightfully so. It's delicious, the thought of how the cosmos continues or doesn't, how it swings around and meets itself or how it doesn't. All I know is that considering the human situation without considering our minuscule aspect in relation to the greater world is as short sighted as considering our situation without looking at our relationship to the tiny.
    We flail in some middle. Our notion of middle is predicated on being able to perceive the smaller than us and the greater than us. We fail when we think we can raze the smaller, dismissing something as inconsequential because of it's small stature. Bacteria can bite us in the ass, wipe us out. Our superiority complex is selective. Again with the large, we think we rule the roost, that we are meant to suck dry the planetary resources we can scavenge. Some think that our industrial activities will render this planet lifeless, that we have the power to make a dent. We have a lot of power indeed and we are ravaging this world. Let us hope that our earth doesn't shrug or shiver, sending us back to the stone age way before we figure out how to reduce our carbon footprint.
    We are small, we are big, we are medium. We move up and down the scale depending on our instruments of perception and our imaginations. Our vision of the worlds 'next door' informs our stance. The more we encourage the view of life on other scales the sooner we'll dump our hubris. We'll see the continuum and our place sliding along it.
    Children are small. They see the world of the big as foreign. We've all been children. We've all had big folks push us around. Some of us can't wait to grow up and do our own pushing. Others grow up and swear they'll do no such thing. There is always someone smaller and someone bigger than us. Time to tip the scales.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oh God, Not This Again

At around fifteen I got serious about deconstructing Christianity. My upbringing related religion more to cultural identity than anything else. My immigrant parents instilled in me the relationship of Hellenism to Eastern Orthodoxy. Icons in the house, church at holidays and an annual communion. Christ was infantalized as Christouli, a smaller, cuddlier Jesus. The Virgin Mary in turn was made diminutive. Bite sized for children with the appropriate down-sizing suffix. In Greek, any word can be made diminutive via suffix, even God.
    Since religion wasn't forced down my throat I was able to indulge my interest in it. I would read the bible, a copy of King James with red letters and a zipper that I thrifted. I collected iconography, enjoying the kitsch value of some and the majesty of others. Of course I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and explored a cursory overview of the great world religions. I read on the history of the Christian church, it's borrowing of pagan symbols from older religions. I enjoyed and employed symbolism in my art and in my life. I also viciously criticized the Church as a teenager and young adult.
    By my mid twenties I knew it was too easy of a target and I developed a more nuanced critical approach. I didn't believe in the God of the Old Testament, not being able to really get past Exodus. What a total manipulative jerk that guy was. Who can buy into this stuff ? Of course, the Song Of Songs spells things out a little different, romance and sufic flavouring. And Jesus was always ok. I never have confused the religion with it's followers. People are so incredibly disappointing at times, aren't they ?
    I was intrigued with the mystical branches of the big three, Cabala, Sufism and Gnosticism. I knew more about this stuff than my religion bashing friends. Know your enemy and all that, I say. Though I don't buy into Big Daddy, here are some things that I may buy into. A conscious universe, local gods being consciousness on an elemental, planetary, solar, galactic scale, nature being intelligent as a whole. I forget what this kind of thinking is classed as. I couldn't give two shits about any science saying otherwise. Science measures what can be measured. What can't be measured is the province of wonder. I wonder aloud and I feel it's completely allowed to do so. Besides, science is never the problem with these things. The problem rests squarely with those that have convinced themselves that they can speak for science, though science itself can never and will never rest.
    I'm still astounded by atheists my age who are still grinding axes and who have an elementary understanding of theology and mythology. Tell it to the judge. Echo chambers aren't places to hang out in. I'm more than comfortable entertaining notions such as local deities masquerading as creator gods to enslave populations, hierarchies of angelic intelligences popping by once in a while to see how the monkeys are doing, currents fed by long term focus and prayer creating structures that eventually behave like gods, a cosmos that is just doing what it's going irregardless of my opinions concerning it let alone yours.
    Recently I was asked what I believe spiritually. My first written response was a nightmare of complicated somersaults. I put it aside and returned to the text months later. I started over. I don't know what I consciously believe. There must be belief working behind the scenes, under cover. Things I take for granted, an ideology I harbour that informs my take on things. Consciously though, the closest I can come to belief is entertaining the notion that everything is alive. Now this is crazy talk, of course, simply because 'alive' is offset with 'dead'. Maybe another way of putting it is that I believe that consciousness is the ground of all being. That life is everywhere and in shapes we would hardly recognize. That there are invisible worlds that overlap and intersect our own, worlds that are populated. What this stuff has to do with god per se is still unresolved.
    Now religion ain't nothing if it ain't lived and living. A set of dogmatic rules simply won't cut it for me. A living, active spirituality is one that employs a concerted effort, a practice, ritual movement, constant re-engagement with belief, constant updating of opinion, relational interfacing with the wider world. If one lives a certain way, in keeping with the idea that the cosmos is conscious, one renders the cosmos conscious. And again, it doesn't matter what anyone else says because they may be doing the exact same thing but with their cute set of parameters. My story is mine with truth and falsehood both moot.
    It's not that the jury is out, the jury was never in. We are far flung in vastness, vastness of a scale that is incomprehensibly multi-directional. Big Bigness. Small Smallness. In-Between In-Betweenness.
    This person will wonder, speculate, worship nature, write poetry, fall in love, cry for no reason and mistrust anyone who says emphatically that they know the answer, via lab coats or prayer beads. My god comes in fractal expression, often goes plural and only demands occasional ecstatic union with all of creation. Simple stuff but bound to change.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Watching The Clock

I'm tired. I worked all day and now I'm sitting with my machine attempting to write something to fulfill my daily writing commitment. I already fulfilled my daily drawing commitment but I chose an easy route, a simple line drawing, ragged outline, cross hatched back ground. Short and sweet. Yesterdays drawing was finely rendered. I shaded slowly and subtly while an acquaintance entertained me with stories of old men, service jobs and sociability. Today, I pounded out my drawing while at work so it wouldn't be on the list along with my text project once I got home.
    I'm forcing this one out, hence the self referential cop-out of writing about writing. One thing I told myself upon embarking on this project was to remain, for the most part, not too concerned with quality. If the primary motivation for starting a daily routine is the slaying dead of procrastination and a secondary motivation being simply to keep the wheels greased, one cannot start getting tripped up with notions of quality. One shows up at the office, so to speak, and one begins and finishes the task at hand. I have put off so many creative gestures because of a variety of nebulous reasons that to skip a day of writing because of having nothing to say would set me back horribly.
    An easy way out of an empty head is to start with the same old crap of discussing why and how you cannot write. This acts as a springboard. The case now is that once rolling I'm not going to go back and edit out my hesitations or make it seem like there was never an issue regarding today's task. I am still tired and still uninspired. I don't want to get into Easter stories, lamb bodies roasting in back yards. I don't want to get into family pressure during holidays, church, ritual, not belonging, not feeling particularly plugged in to the biggest holiday in the Hellenic year. I won't get into what happened at work today, how many stacks of paper I sorted, whether the sales were decent or not, if any visitor sparked my interest or if anything special occurred. I may list off negatives but i'll stay on course and continue writing about how little i have to say. My first impulse was to reiterate the personal myth angle. I even bought a book this morning about global myths. I'll fall asleep half way through the introduction.
    I'm tapping out letters and words. My eyes are stinging. My thoughts are dull. I need to wash my face. The cat seems hungry. She's coming around which is unlike her. The baby is finally asleep. The weather is beautiful but I'm inside. A restaurant would be great, a plate of bad meat and a soda, beer would steam roll me. Here I am and I'm done. Short and bitter. Jagged lines, quickly wrought, nothing much by way of message. There is always tomorrow. On a journey through the mountains, there must be days that aren't recalled, days that went by simply as a sequence of footsteps. Maybe a hawk spotted or a near stumble through gravel but otherwise a chore not forgotten because it was never absorbed in the first place.
    See you later.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Working Title

My story veers towards disaster and switches course. The disaster is never something too dramatic. It is simply the slow dissolution of my dreams. I dodge bullets by adjusting my dreams to my reality and continuing.
    I have always assumed success of some sort. Fame, money, status. All these things were for me to choose, flirt with and ultimately reject for a path of contemplation, art making, study and wisdom. Sometimes I think I may have to forego the idea of the roundabout route and head straight for the goal. I am pulled towards the luxuries of status as I am making towards a simple life here on the middle path. As a fifteen year old I declared that wisdom was my aim. I then started in earnest on a path of accumulated social attention. Some people think I'm famous because I know a lot of people and I get my name out there, so to speak. I publish and exhibit widely. I'm a chatterbox. I'm a local scene stalwart. I'm a natural networker with one catch, I don't know how to 'use' my connections. I don't get paid for introducing people to each other. I am behind the scenes, match maker, glue. Has any of this lead me to wisdom? Kind of.
    A few years ago I realized that maybe I should have went for the cash instead.
    At this point I realize I have done little for my future except plant a thousand seeds. I'm unsure which ones have actually taken root. My mother warned me about planning for my old age but who listens to their parents ? The seeds I planted are mostly arty ones, books published, art work shown, press kit organized, classes taught, students inspired. I have a bookcase full of publications that my work has appeared in, approximately four feet of shelving. I am now looking for the process that will activate these blocks of paper, reassemble them, Transformer style, into a printed robot that will go out there and get me rewarding and well paying jobs.
    My story always assumed that some big shot would knock on my door, offering me the deal of the century. That grace would swoop down and kiss my resumé. That rock stars would flock to hear my tales of transcendent wisdom. My story is being rewritten as we speak. The assumptions are drying up and blowing away like so many ninety eight pound weaklings. I still can't do the splits like I hoped to as a child. My superpowers are negligible. My riches come in friends and snacks, which is great but no country cottage will come of that anytime soon.
    It's at this stage in the game that I'm snapping awake to life on earth sans fantasy. I'm finally discovering work. My procrastination problem just may be subsiding. What did this to me ? The time honoured cliché that turns boys to men - having a kid. Since that happened six month ago, and since several months before the big day, I have been running ragged. There's no 'do it later' option. I can't 'hold on a minute' with a baby and his mom, who both need something now. Right now. So I'm up early. I'm up and out of bed performing a task. There is no lead up, warm up, test drive. Get up and go. So I go. So I do other stuff while I can. Rinse plates right away. Adopt a daily drawing regimen. This is my forty ninth daily text. Quality can kiss my ass. I don't have time to shape and craft. I express, I check for typos, I miss some, I upload onto the fucking internet. Done. Next.
    My story shifts with the shifting of dreams. Ego gratification has changed. I've tricked myself into actually working towards my goals instead of assuming they will crash through my ceiling like errant fortean ice. The story now includes a change of scenery and a new cast of characters. I think it'll be a trilogy, a best selling one.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 48

I don't think everyone has written their own origin story. Even worse, many have had their own story hijacked by trauma. Every child is on their way to understanding the world, cobbling together meaning. If that process is interrupted by being wounded, one's story take a radical turn. One is stripped of innocence and one has clouds and ghosts and deep hurt in place of wonder.
    I have always known of the privilege I had having a good childhood. I was a sensitive kid, crying easily and often but I was comfortable, well fed and well loved. I was surrounded by caring adults. I was close to my older brother. He would tease me though, daily it seemed and we would fight. His tactic was slow creeping verbal pokes. Not abuse, far from it. More like the Chinese Water Torture. He pushed my buttons and got a huge kick when I exploded. We would chase each other around the house, me inflicting way more physical damage on him than him on me. He would tease, I would shriek and pinch, focusing as much power as I could into that small space between index finger and thumb, clenching my jaw for added effect and wincing. It's amazing I never drew blood. He would laugh and laugh at my efforts to hurt him which made me see red and jump up and down on his ribs. He'd get up laughing hysterically and would chase me to the bathroom where I'd lock myself in. A good place to get a breather. We both soon realized the door could be unlocked by inserting a souvlaki skewer into the small hole of the outside doorknob and pushing out the button that locked it.
    My brother and I were a year and four months apart, very close regardless of the drama. I still consider my childhood to have been good. I've even used the word idyllic but am aware enough now that if I were to use it and recount the aforementioned episodes, people would think I was denying something primary. I'm still working all kinds of things out, my relationship to my parents and brother, my own insecurities and perceived failings, my issues surrounding food and sex, the list goes on. I think what I consider great about my childhood was that I more than often was allowed to just play and daydream without interruption. Sure there were scuffles and the occasional blow out but there was never any genuine fear. Things went back to peace easily. My solo adventures with my action figures and cars, in the dirt under the stairs, in the driveway, at the base of the three pronged tree beside the house, in the park next door are memorable and happy. And many. We played together too, sitting and building models and drawing quietly, stuffing our faces with candy and reading any comic book that featured a giant gorilla on the cover.
    I was allowed to build a slow myth, added to daily. Day dream bleeding into day dream and continuing at night. My playtime was around the clock. Toys and art during the day and dreams the rest of the time, telling myself stories, setting out on epic quests. The story built upon itself and lasted many years. As a twenty something I was shocked to realize that I had been secretly harbouring a fantasy since childhood. Deep down I had buried the conviction that with adulthood will come super powers. This was forgotten early on and jolted me awake as a young adult. It did not come to pass, the world was amazing but not that amazing. Though I still held wonder I was often hit by the mundane struggles of burgeoning adulthood. My reveries took a turn towards bitter political concerns and social hierarchies, bands and girls and friends and heartache. My demeanour though was generally happy, to such an extent that one friend dismissed me as shallow simply because I wasn't depressive. I was happy. I found excitement in most things. I was extremely social. I held that as a chemical make-up can account for someone's depression, perhaps one can account for my buoyancy. All too simple. My self characterizations turned into cartoons, maybe I was shallow ? Question after question occurred to me. I demanded my friends outline any faults they perceived in me. I carried doubt in my shirt pocket, genuinely sceptical about anything and everything. I made it a habit to study objects from multiple perspectives at once, trying to hold simultaneous points of view concurrently. I was graced by unbidden waves of ecstasy coursing up my back. I continued to build my story. Fantasy and reality merged seamlessly, it would sort itself out in due time, right now, on the surface of this planet I'd indulge my imaginations.
    My story is coalescing now in my mid forties. I am seeing an over arching theme emerging. For the first time I'm attempting to pull it out of myself with words.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The My In Myth

In Mister Feher's grade ten math class I experienced something that would forever change my life. It was an otherwise normal day, the teacher regaling us with the enthusiasm he derived from mathematics. We were teenagers with better things on our minds than functions. The teacher himself was a bit on an odd duck. Proper, turtle necked, eye glasses Carl Sagan would wear if that makes sense, Carl Sagan's hair around the facial equivalent of Hush Puppies. Always some kind of wry semi-smile. His signature was signed, on important documents like test deferrals or late notes, via a fine rubber stamp bearing his name in a light cursive. He enunciated clearly.
    I was sitting there, spacing out or trying to understand the topic, one of the two, when I wrote something out in my exercise book. I don't think I still have this Ur document but I have it's near descendants. I wrote four capital letters, block form. A B A C. Not those letters, I'm simply showing the repetition and relative sequence. I wrote this un-word, this geometric arrangement, each letter having no curves or diagonals. Nice vertical or horizontal lines only. X and Y axes. Maybe I was picking something up from the lessons after all.
    Nonetheless, I wrote these four letters down in my book and the world stopped.
    I wrote down this code, this gibberish, this … name. My eyes widened, my breathe suspended for an instant. The world stopped. I was flushed with meaning completely unknown. I was in class, I couldn't exactly turn to my mates and say, "It came to me ! It came ! A magic word ! A secret name !" Nope, couldn't do that. Still can't do that. Not allowed.
    Here I was, some fifteen year old kid and I stumble upon a sequence of letters that opens a door to the mysteries. I took this name home, this cypher. I tried a two letter suffix, an add-on. Nothing. I kept it as is, all caps. I drew a picture and realized it was only good to associate this new name with this new style of drawing. I still added my civilian name. I was not convinced that this ABAC was my name. I still don't think it really is, even though I used it in art and eventually in scads of global correspondence art, signing and yes, rubber stamping, the name on postcards, envelopes, letters, poems, collages and drawings mailed to artists around the world. The stacks of mail I received were addressed to this name. Years later I attempted the awkward process of conflating the two names, my magic one and my real one, transitioning to get my affairs in order and have only one name that represents this artist, the name I go by today, the one my folks gave me.
    I searched for the meaning of this secret name, one half could be construed as Hebrew. But my tetragrammaton wasn't in the angel dictionaries. The stoner junior cabalist I knew wrote out what each letter or it's Hebraic equivalent might mean in gematrical values. Tables of correspondences followed. Elements, animals, minerals. It wasn't Enochian. No entity revealed to John Dee came close enough to sporting this name. It may be as yet unrevealed Atlantean but I've never been able to commit to full time space cadet, I'm still too shy for that kind of thing. What would my cynical friends, some no where near as cynical as I am, say if I cracked out the lavender robes and started channeling entities? I know I shouldn't care but sadly I do. Maybe I'll save this crazy shit for my old age. Hopefully I'll still have my wits about me to take the plunge in earnest.
    Of course I had dreams where I saw the word. One time it was tattooed on the back of a male First Nations person, another time hidden in plain sight amid the text in an antique Shakespearean folio. The internet has given me English and foreign acronyms, it means 'relative' in one language, and describes a carved domestic item in another. All in all, it remains more mine than anything else. That strange elation that came over me in class kept my imagination busy for years. It has, of course, faded into the background of my life but is an essential part of my personal mythology. My origin story. I sometimes think that my capacity to encourage and develop a personal myth is mostly responsible for the good cheer I enjoy. I have given myself meaning, regardless of any objective standard that may exist. No one can call me out on it, no one can whistle bullshit in my direction. These are my sacred things, these are the details that prod me towards wonder. I spin yarn in my own service, I spin yarn into gold and you can keep your baby. I'm still trying to figure out how to spend my earnings, I'll get old and hopefully wise trying. I may end up on the street corner, staff in hand, amethyst headband, beard Darwinian in it's glory, twinkling eyes to those that walk among us but are still afraid to describe themselves as magical.
    It's important to pay attention in math class. To something you feel if not the lessons.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tiny Lessons In Magic

To make an easy sigil, write out the phrase you would like to focus upon. Strike out any letters that repeat, leaving one of each. You'll find that most letters fit easily into the shape of an H with it's top and bottom closed off, as if superimposed with an F and an L. This blocky figure eight can incorporate A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,L,O,P,S,U if you sacrifice curves. Add a few diagonals and you can accommodate K,M,N,R,V,W,Y,Z. T and Q can make an appearance with another straight line well placed.
    This, of course, is for an efficient no nonsense design, the zen of sigils. You are most welcome to stick letter to letter forming a more ornate sign. It all depends what you are after. After completing the design that pleases you or your client the most, discard the original phrase by removing any written trace of it and try to promptly put it from your mind. Now take this abstract design and sit with it, place it on your desk, put it somewhere you can see it. Meditate on it and and and.
    And what ? Well, magic can occur. The so-called essence of the original, now forgotten phrase should be firmly implanted in your less than conscious mind where it can get to work transforming your sorry life. Or not. That's the gamble. This stuff isn't science.
    Sit in a dim room and face a blank light coloured wall. Dress comfortably in loose fitting clothes and take a few deep breaths. Raise your hands a foot or so away from your face and look at them. Turn them about, examining your fingers well splayed, gently bent, slowly moving about. Note how the shadows fall about your hands in the semi-darkness. Bring the fingers of each hand in close proximity without letting them touch. Softly move your fingertips to and fro away from each other. Don't try to see anything in particular, simply keep breathing and looking at your hands. Look at the space between your fingers also.
    Eventually, if you are lucky or good at this game, you will see light around your finger tips that cannot be accounted for in that dim room. You'll also see strands of light from finger to finger, pooling as you near them and stretching apart as you distance them. You may also see cascades of shadows cross your palms that do not reflect what actual light may be illuminating the room. If you are particularly graced that fine evening you may be startled to see flames leap from the centres of your palms. Do not panic. Remain calm. Keep breathing. The flames may dance there for a while. Avert your eyes and you may risk letting these visions escape you. Just like a dream upon awakening they will recede into another world and you may chase these flighty apparitions for years to come, maybe reliving them maybe never being able to see them again.
    And what were they ? They were things you saw.
    Were they really there ? Well, where else were they ? Of course they were there. You saw them.
    Does this mean they represent something real ? Walk around the block and think about what 'real' means. When you get home and you are certain what is real and what is not, then you've answered your question.
    If that walk around the block was the only time you've asked yourself that question and the answer satisfied you, you really need to take more walks. Walk every so often, maybe once every year or so and take stock whether your answers are the same. If your answers are always the same, you're most probably wrong.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Text As Art

My relationship with text as art has one of it's origins in science fiction and fantasy movies and literature. I was smitten by the various tongues of Middle-Earth, not enough to learn Quenya or Sindarin but enough to marvel at the fluidity of the script and to mimic it with my junior calligraphy set.
    As my interest in SF&F deepened and crossed paths with the psychedelic experiments of Rick Griffin and other sixties poster artists, I took to writing out my cosmological models using an altered Latin alphabet in an English stilted and grandiose. Think Temple Ov Psychick Youth with more hobbity hippie in it. My infatuation with medieval alchemical diagrams and Invisible College communiqués added a pinch of poignancy to the punch.
    I loved the mystery of a language that couldn't be read. I also enjoyed the act of writing devoid of any obligation towards meaning. Perhaps filling pages of meaningless script acted as a stand in for wanting to realize actual finished narrative. It would be years later when I accidentally stumbled via invitation into the international movement of Asemic Writing, a practise of scripting out gibberish, gestural mark making and pretty much anything that looked like language but wasn't.
    In hindsight there are two distinct early origin points that I must reference. One was my struggle and ultimate inability to competently use the Hellenic Alphabet. As a young hyphenated Canadian, I went to and soon after dropped out of Greek school. The ubiquitous presence of material lying around the house that I couldn't access surely informed my later love of mysterious scripts. The other origin point was a particular memory of sitting on the floor between the stacks of our small high school library, possibly in grade nine, and leafing through a book on talismans and amulets. The stark black and white graphic quality of round arcana struck me. These little drawn blobs were beautiful. They spoke everything and nothing, eggs you cannot crack but also can't help rolling in your palms never wanting them broken.
    As a young person of maybe twelve or thirteen I would draw any number of things. Heroes and monsters, Don Martin swipes from Mad Magazine, rock band logos on my pencil case and these things that I referred to as 'designs'. I still am a bit amazed that I had the presence of mind or even intelligence to answer the question of 'what is that?' with 'it's a design'. Pointe Finale, no further explanation forthcoming. Simple as that. No idea where I got the concept. These designs were abstracted forms, organic and graphic, rounded, succulent, obsessively contoured. They evolved into a sort of art that I would make that after the age of fifteen I would reserve and sign with a special pen name that resonated with meaning for me. I would never even consider signing a cartoon with this name. It was for stuff that evidently came from some other planet. Conversely, my new secret name allowed me to draw things radically different than what I usually drew.
    As I grew older I nurtured my love for logotypes and I still treasure books of these designs. It all finds it's denominator in stark black and white. I never had time for books showcasing the 'new' logotypes of the eighties and nineties, replete with drop shadows, gradations and even -gasp- full colour. Atrocity. Bad design.
    High contrast black and white, that was for me. Science Fiction & Fantasy. My mother tongue. Alchemy and sigils. Psychedelia. Logos. Asemic writing. These all coalesced in me with my discovery of the photocopy machine as art tool. Xerography changed everything for me. Photocopying my drawings for friends' band posters led me to experiment with static noise, enlarging and reducing images, rummaging through the waste paper bins, keeping and endowing scraps of graphic noise with a special status akin to poetry. The thing is that I kept this stuff to myself, I kept a collection of these eight and a half by eleven abstractions. The flyers I would design would rarely feature these photocopy effects. I was timid.
    When I found myself accidentally wading through the constant give and take of mail-art in the late eighties and early nineties I also found that I reserved that special nom de plume for my postal activities. Mail-art introduced me to the arcane seals and stamps of exotic liminal locales like Zaumland as well as the hard graphic visuals of the industrial music subculture. I also found that the poems, unreadable and arcane, that I was making via photocopy were readily shared with a greater world but kept away from my local art making. I was split in two, Billy in Montreal who drew erotic squashes, psychedelic doodles and hyper bunnies … and this other person, an entity that sent out and in turn received mysterious languages in the mail box.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How I Make Comics

The comics I make tend to be silent. Wordless comics, in theory, are able to be read by an international audience of illiterates. Cartoonists Without Borders. The first ones I made were like the twelve minute guitar solos of obtuse comics. I was making comics I myself wasn't reading, heady conceptual games, lots of obscure symbolism, some heavy handedness. The stuff I read is mostly inane humour comics. I read that stuff over and over. Dumb jokes. And Archie.
    The stuff I make aims at some seriousness. I crave to make thought provoking stories that warrant multiple readings, the ten year olds getting some of it, the illuminati getting some other bits. Every short story I used to make was in a different style, I'd hop around in graphic land experimenting, always experimenting. A few years ago I rediscovered pencil and this led to a larger body of work centred around a couple of consistent characters. It's visually cute and makes up around a hundred pages of material. I'm not sure if I've exhausted this particular world or if it will shape shift into the next permutation. I've always hoped to integrate all my fave motifs and characters into one cohesive cartoon universe but frankly I'm not sure if I have the patience.
    It isn't narrative that tugs at me so much as moments. And moments don't exist until they are actualized on paper spontaneously. This method of working makes for a lot of pre-job anxiety but ultimately proves rewarding. I don't know the beginning, middle or end of a story when I begin it. I simply delve in and somehow narrative accretes around my efforts, my discrete moments intuitively building a story. The anxiety comes into play before I start working. All possible styles and motifs crowd my head, each making a strong case for being the thing that will make a decent comic. Of course, this onslaught of potentialities tends to freeze me in place. No work gets done but endless notes and scribbles, and even these lay in piles and never have much to do with the work that eventually get's done.
    Right now I would like to begin my next graphic novel. I'd like to use words. I am wondering if it should be a continuation of my previous works, the richly pencilled adventures of a young magician and his cat. Also in the running is a new approach made up of little 'billy heads' talking about my life, the pithy version of the writing on this blog. This is liberating because I very much want to integrate text into my comics but am unsure how to. With the talking head approach I can veer off into any visual universe because the little head can set it up nicely. Another approach I am seriously considering is a funny animal strip showcasing my famous bunnies. These big eared tricksters would simply be bandying about ridiculous word play. Again, text. Then of course, there is my desire to explore the merging of abstract comics with textual poetics. The fourth and possibly final solution would be to create a cohesive narrative that employs all these directions. Multiple styles telling one overarching story, a work of undeniable complexity and genius.
    Frozen in place. Stock still. Pencils collecting dust and guts churning anxiously. This sounds all too precious and intentional. My passing glimpses reveal an over wrought attempt at a master work. One makes trouble for oneself if that's the thought going out the gate. Failure or frustration will ensue. So I don't know what this next graphic novel will be until I start it. A branding nightmare. It may look like nothing I've done before, it may end up being too oblique for a publisher to bother with. Procrastination also rears it's familiar head and I end up with jots and plans, confidant statements about pagination and panelling. Maybe a title or vague design thumbnails. I need a format before I start. I need a stack of index cards or pre-cut paper, lots of it, to draw on, to waste until I settle into the groove that emerges.
    So the first step, invariably, is preparing paper I've bought specifically for a new project. And new pencils and erasers. New gear sitting there waiting to be hit on, waiting to reveal via first false starts and then a fury of inspiration, an unfolding paper world.
    Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shipping And Receiving

Loading docks and parking lots on days off yield subtle mystery. There is something akin to sacredness around those utilitarian spaces when they are empty or abandoned. Stillness deepens in these spots when the vehicles aren't around. One can walk at leisure without fear of injury or prying eyes.
    The quiet unfolds with each step. The air may not be clean but one's thoughts are. These places allow extra contemplation. They are semi-wild spaces. The debris that accumulates in the corners, between concrete and asphalt is of a particular kind. Sun bleached, scored with gravel scratches, dry cleaned and left exposed. Rusted washers, broken knots of wire, cloudy glass shards, errant plastic bits, pocked paper scraps.
    It's here that our civilization comes to rest. One can sit, legs dangling from the dock and stare at the container off to the side, the misplaced shopping cart in the grass, the fence sagging with age and neglect. One can finger the layers of tire rubber making bumpers, the stark cement curbs, the metal plates blasted by the elements, yellow warning paint flaked off.
    When work isn't happening here, nothing happens here. A visitor doesn't belong because this place is not meant for visitors. Teenagers do not loiter here. This place is a secret kept in the open. It's strewn with clues that point to something but off-hours the crass voices and dick jokes are beyond mute, they've never existed. Like warm work buds dissolve into their own private lives after the five o'clock bell, this place, this empty lot cancels whatever noise it saw during the day.
    I love these momentary zones, pregnant with silence. The trucks will come again, the jiggers and dollies will scrape pavement, boxes will cover ground, plastic film will get snagged, orders will be barked, pallets piled high. And after all that, the hidden action of our urban world will once again grow quiet.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Emotional eating is a concept that has come to me recently. It fits the bill perfectly to describe some of my habits. I've always been a lusty eater, piling on the gusto. One bird-like ex admitted disgust watching me eat. Others claimed to salivate seeing me hunker down with the perfect sandwich. As the years went by I realized that I eat much too quickly. What might be fine and good for a young man of twenty five seems off putting and unhealthy for a man of forty.
    I always knew that I ate too much. I would hover over snack tables at parties and eat continuously. I was the guy at the art show going back for more cheese and grapes every three minutes. I could show up at your house unannounced just when a cake was being pulled out of the oven. A gift. I received gifts of food often. I am snack-rich, I would proclaim proudly. People just handed food to me. Small bags of treats. A piece of fruit. It still happens.
    Consciousness surrounding food happened some years ago. A friend told me her mother was at an Over Eaters Anonymous meeting. I was surprised because said mom was quite slim. I associated over-eating with larger people. I initially may have dismissed the mom-at-meeting story as an example of a neurosis. It was quite a while later when I realized I ate way past the full point. I ate fast to shovel more in while the getting was good. I'd have seconds, thirds. I would pick at whatever was left on the table. At weddings I polished off every course and even hit into the cousin's steaks.
    When my thyroid bottomed out in my late thirties I started re-evaluating. I thought my weight gain was from my semi-strict diet of beer and bagels. Alas, it was not so. My hormones weren't working. My energy levels, always so high, dropped down low and with it a large part of my self-identity. I was always hyper, speedy, full of pep, happy-go-lucky. Now I was slow and tired. It happened, the doctors told me, for no known reason and it was here to stay, this new reality. I'm on the synthetic hormone now, every morning for six years or so. I'm stabilized and a little more prudent. I can't get away with eating five burgers at the bbq anymore. I can't burn off that kind of heat. My guts have rebelled. My ass is saying watch it buddy, this won't stand.
    I eat when I'm stressed. I'm often stressed. I cram the maw before I realize it. I'm stressed over nonsense, of course. The tension sets me to automatic and I revert to a habit that once worked but today spells danger. I'm a happy gourmand at times and at other times a ravenous junkie, wishing there was a spot in the 'hood that served small bits of meat from out a window. Meat on a stick for two bucks. I'd be there daily. Followed by a sandwich. Then a muffin. Finally candy. Willy-nilly, anything following anything. Indiscriminate.
    I'm learning slowly. I catch myself. I know it's emotional now. It wasn't always. But now, there is no denying it is. My overdue taxes turn to snacks, stress over work and the walk I'm taking to clear my head becomes a grazing session. I need a stick to chew on to avoid the gas station jerky or artisanal baked good.
    I'm moving slower now. I chew more. I put the spoon down every tenth meal. I say grace. I savour a little more than before. It isn't easy. It's very difficult. It's my final frontier, at least I hope so.
    I'd love to see the pyramids. I think southern barbecue may come first. I don't think of landmarks, I think of diners.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Now And Never

Bullshit, loads of crap and onwards. Stifling thought, fidgeting body, aches and pains. The whole kit, not being able to sit still. Not being able to leave the ground and fly away. Pulled between worlds and tendencies. Monastic fantasies of one small room, a cot, a desk, a bowl, a rug.
Here I would read and write. I would contemplate the mysteries and The Mystery. I would tend my affairs, small and humble, away from the mad rush of the world.
    Off to the side of the magnificent Saint-Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal is a small building that I have visited a few times. The room above the chapel that Brother Andre lived in has left a deep impression on me. What simplicity. Of course, the small church beneath was opulent enough to render the stark wood of his homely room in relief. The saint lived simply, I'm sure, but he was a few steps from religious gold and wrought works of master craftsmen. I must visit this place again, and forget the line of tourists behind me, and just grip the hand rail that leads me through the tour and stare into that simple single room.
    The monastic fantasy, the single cell or tiny house, also echoes the recurring fantasy of true independence, answering to no one. I have never had the privilege of being truly alone. I have never been without sight of another human for longer than a couple of days in my entire life. It is something that lures me and terrifies me. When I first entered an isolation tank, I snapped the lid shut, turned the lights and soothing sounds off and floated in the dark alone. Within moments I pushed at the light switch and threw the door open with a gasp. I am not so hardy as I'd like. I may go stir crazy in the cabin in the woods. The creatures of the wilderness will quickly creep out from between my ears and unsettle me. I'll plan the trip nonetheless, a week on my own. And if not in complete isolation then close to it. I'll bring books and paper and drawing tools. I'll bring a good knife to whittle and food fit for a pauper playing king.
    The other world I'm pulled to is closer to the one I live in than Brother Andre's world. Opulence and grandeur, the feeding of a growing insatiable ego, servant boys bringing me fresh fruit. Luxury and whim, a not over large estate but one linked to a world of adventure and fine dining. Night life with a driver and a table reserved, companions fresh and charming, bottles filled and emptied. No care for the morrow, for others are doing the caring. Basking in the art of living, tasting culture refined and plenty. Plenty, that's the word. A buffet when I want it. The righteous privilege of choosing only steamed mushroom because it pleases me. Padding about great carpeted studies, selecting volumes rare and lavish. Devoting hours of study, brandy nearby. A huge door to throw open to let the night air in as I smoke a pinch of hashish rolled in fine tobacco. Guests asleep in the far wing.
    This tug of war leads me nowhere. I'm not having any of it. A bowl of steamed mushrooms next to a paperback, my child sleeping in the other room, my partner trying to rest. Planning a camping trip or a morning outing can exhaust me. My man servant isn't up to the job. Push it aside, the task at hand and worry. This isn't what I wanted. This cascade of adulthood. But I never threw a duffle bag over my shoulder and I never hit the road and I never starved and buffets are ok but they are sad things too. This world that pulls me to pieces, it's a world I made. This war is my war alone and both sides fling their error and assumptions at my feet. I wade through it, victim and jailer.
    There is light somewhere. I'll have to rake the ground to find it. I'll have to cast away thought to find it. Stretch this aging body and trade my lust for love. Learning to sit still in my old age.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Books And Records

I repeat myself. I've told certain stories and even non-stories so often to so many people I have forgotten what I've said to who and in what context. I walk down a street with my partner, we pass a house and I say So-and-so used to live there. I know, she responds, you've told me. And not once, I've probably mentioned it every time we pass the damn place. It's not like I even had the best times there, it's simply personal trivia, and that means there's a lot of it.
    Our friend Joe tells me and another pal the same crazy stories. We know we yell, and laugh. He scowls and mutters about how he bores us with the same old stories. We love those same old stories and we love Joe so it all works out.
    I'm trying to write a block of text everyday and so far I've gotten through forty days. I started with recollections of my childhood but now I have forgotten what I have already written. I don't want to slog back through my archives to see if I've mentioned a certain event. The one that sprang to mind today was when my brother brought home certain albums when we were teenagers. How our eyes lit up when the stylus hit the vinyl. The records that most visibly affected us were the ones you would think, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The MC5, typical teen rock blow out. We would come home after perusing the second hand book and record shop. I'd hit the books and John would dig through the records. Most often he would just take his records to his room where the stereo was and listen on his own, maybe with me hovering around the door. Once in a while the listening was a collective agreement. Have I told you this story before ? How our eyes lit up when we first heard the first chords of some certain album ? Have I told you how John would look for records and I would bring home slim dog eared volumes of poetry ? I loved that so much, being fourteen and browsing second hand books. It must have been 1983 or so, we rediscovered a shop that our big cousin brought us to in downtown Montreal years before. His name is John also and he took his little cousins on a tour of certain spots, McGill campus with it's sculptures and this store. We must have been under ten. That was a great afternoon.
    Well, as budding long hairs we found that shop again and I'd veer left to the books and my brother would go straight to the records. Silently we'd browse in our own corners. Sometimes I'd have to wait for him and sometimes he had to wait for me. If I dared buy an album it was one that was somehow associated with the fantasy books I loved. I brought home Gentle Giant and King Crimson, occasionally something more obscure. Progressive rock was everywhere in those days, every second hand album under five dollars, I'd usually spend three bucks. One book I still have, a book that has stayed with me and has changed the way I look at books cost me forty cents. It's a small anthology of concrete poetry, beat up and resonating with charm. John didn't care much for what books I bought, but he was taken by my enthusiasm and though he wasn't much of a reader back then he would hold a book in esteem if I couldn't shut up about it.
    I have told some of these stories before. I've bored younger people to tears about having had to gamble money on a record. I've told you before about books and rock and my brother. I'll tell you again. My friend Joe says I should draw these stories of me and my brother and our forays into rock music and weird art. Drawing stories is not like telling them straight up with words. It's tedious and I don't feel like it right now. It's enough I've made it to forty days with a daily writing habit. Let me get through eight months and I'll see what I want to draw. I'll be ready then too, to do something I've always been kind of ashamed to do, and that's draw the same drawing over and over again. Scratching the itch. I can't wait for that. Just take my favourite motifs and shamelessly work then until I reach clarity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Blooming Late

A few things came late in life. Learning to tie my shoes, learning to tell time and learning to ride a bicycle are the triumvirate symbols of my late blooming. My tricycle was large and green and I couldn't keep up with my brother and his friend from down the street. I do remember ramming into the friend's bike, with him on it, because he was teasing me. I didn't do the damage I craved, but the hit was somewhat satisfying. I don't remember clearly but I probably had tears streaming down my face to ensure total glory could never be mine.
    Shoe laces are confounding things and I didn't get the hang of the over under loops until several months after my peers. I have no particular story associated with laces from back in the day but I do choose slip ons almost exclusively now. Is life long enough to tie and untie shoe laces? No, it isn't. Life demands footwear be thrown on for feet to move body quickly out of the house, down the street and to the coffee shop where it can loll about over a damned game of Sudoku and a coffee enhanced by an unnecessary pastry.
    Clocks went digital for a reason. Time is a fiction we don't need to encourage by sweating over which of the arms is long or short. I still have trouble with analog clocks. I pause over them a little too long for an adult. It took me years to tell the arms apart, that fast third one whipping around confusing me. Of course, so many clocks get fancy with roman numerals, or no digits at all. I don't bother. I stopped wearing a watch, usually a black plastic Casio, often strap snapped off and watch rammed in pocket. I stopped because I would check the time incessantly and forget what I read the moment it went back into my pocket. I lament the endangered status of pay phones, my current source of time telling when out and about.
    Other examples of tardiness are things like responsible adulthood or saving money or acquiring a credit card. Anything that requires bureaucratic process, finance or planning ahead more than a few weeks has only lost it's fear factor in the last five to ten years. Now I open the envelopes as the come through the mail-slot, unwilling to let the snarl of the tax man turn to a bite.
    I have conveniently forgotten the best example. I still don't have a driver's license. This avoidance of the driver's seat is, in what passes for our culture, the prime symbol of ineffectual manhood. Are other areas of life that require proactivity affected because of my lack of driving skills ? Once I grab that steering wheel, will I also grab other opportunities and sail away to self-actualization ? To becoming some archetypal top-dog ? Climb to the top of that ladder in my slip on boots ? A box of gift watches in the drawer of my power desk.

Monday, April 7, 2014


I was around five years of age when our mother, exhausted from having to tuck us in and soothe us at bedtime, rebelled. We would get into bed and yell for her to come in and dutifully soothe us to sleepiness by placing a hand on our backs to gently rock us. Well, one night she would have none of it. Who can blame her ? Two boys a year apart racing around the house and yard all day, making ludicrous demands, torturing each other, screaming and crying, climbing over mom. And when bedtime came around we would demand more, me first, you rocked him longer, rock me again. That night she just got up from the side of one of our beds and announced clearly, do it yourselves! and left the room.
    We did do it ourselves. That very night my brother and I devised a way to rock ourselves to sleep, a habit that lasted embarrassingly late into life. John had his technique and I had mine. I would sleep on my side, pillow case flap sandwiched by my hands in a slight prayer position against my cheek and I'd rock my shoulders back and forth. This rocking replaced the previous pre-sleep habit of lying on my stomach and with legs bent at the knee, kick repeatedly into the mattress. Anyway, we rocked.
    Very rarely a strange sensation overtook me. It was as if the palms of my hands, separated in reality by only a thin layer of fabric, started growing apart from each other. Very apart. It felt like the whole world was between my palms, as if they simply kept moving away from each other, with no end in sight. This rare sensation was accompanied by a distinct flavour or feeling in my mouth. I can't possibly describe it better than that. I grew up and these sensation were buried in my memory.
    As a teenager I dabbled in meditation an a similar sensation bounded back into my life. In a sitting position I would feel my body grow tall and my head would bob feet above where I knew it to be. Sometimes I felt my body rolled up, my head now sitting between my knees. On other occasions my hands felt like they were swelling up indefinitely. Imagine your hands the size of giant well rounded balloons, whose core is a thin nervy hand like structure. I experienced balloon hands a few times.
    Years later, I must have been in my mid thirties, I started casting circles as an exercise in performing private ritual. I'd trace the circle, moving clockwise and then call attention to each of the four directions by way of thanking the elements they represented. Air you're amazing, thanks for letting me breathe you, Water right on, oceans are great and you quench my thirst, Fire hot stuff, you keep me warm and you're also wicked cool, Earth where would I be without you ? Actually not like that at all. Way more purple poetics and medieval grandeur. All my fantasy reading paying off big time. Also, totally earnest. Ritual without earnestness is hollow and ineffective. I waxed poetic at each point of the compass, enthused and energized.
    This led me to experiment with prayer. I would sit myself down within the etheric bounds of the circle and roll out a fervent prayer to deities small and large, the majesty of nature from atom to galaxy cluster, thanking animals for their various attributes, thanking life itself for the privilege of being alive surrounded by great family and friends and on and on. As I did this I felt that familiar expansion set in. I was no longer the size I was when I commenced but inflating rapidly. It was all I could do to keep myself from getting so giddy that I'd snap out of it.
And then for the first time since childhood my mouth felt that familiar odd feeling. A word came to me, out from long unused parts of memory - plasticine.
    Of course I had this modelling compound as a kid. What I had clear forgotten was that I, to myself, called this expanding hand and funny mouth feeling 'plasticine' when I was small. This came back to me, head light, body expansive, mouth alive and childhood memory restored. Pliable energy body, from rocking myself to bed at night to deep vocalized prayer. We are the clay.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


After a while it seems inevitable that I'd write about writing, write about not knowing what to write. Stick a mirror in front of another one and watch that tunnel go. Floundering on dry land, belly full, head empty. Not writer's block, that's too easy. And probably just a ploy, one among many to bask in frustration instead of release. Release happens when expectations are cast aside. Blocks occur when there is an unspoken or unrecognized assumption about a goal.
    I have often though about the perfectionism of others and how I myself was spared this affliction. Just recently I was asked if maybe I was actually a perfectionist. It would explain why I shy away from grand projects, why I talk more than do, why I procrastinate, that I'm idealistic and impatient and happy with piecemeal offerings, short bursts of frenzied activity though I dream of well wrought craft. Maybe I am a perfectionist. Maybe I so want to razzle dazzle that I'm afraid to even start lest I fail. But I do start, and I do release work into the public sphere. I'm no hermit with my art. Sometimes I even approach the realms beyond banality.
    Too often though in this life I would imagine some rigorously executed project, how amazing it would be, this three dimensional glass mandala I would build, layers of nesting stained glass spheres, veined in gold and dotted with marbles, all supported by a hand carved stand of the most exquisite design. Sure buddy, write it down because we all know that's not your deal. It isn't. It has taken me decades to relax into the reality of what I am versus what I could be. I could be anything. Anyone could. But why ? We all have the capacity to explore areas in sport, art, science, thought but we don't necessarily do. We pick our battles. I found out that the great schemes of my youth were simply proposals, it would be great for my glass sphere to exist. It would be great to acquire the requisite skills to build it. I know  I won't. Not left to my own devises. If I were to embark on a project of building something complex and three dimensional it would be building a house not a wicked piece of contemplative art.
    I long ago realized that the book is the perfect vessel for any expression I may wish to voice. Any abandoned childhood dream can be easily rephrased as a proposal and left at that. That twenty foot chrome peach pit I designed, built and sold to the state of Georgia ? Oh, that was just an idea. I'll just jot it down on a napkin and that will be that. My Pixar screenplay ? Well, I may get around to writing a two page treatment but that's about it. I'd love to redesign the stagnant corners of my hometown but I may have to be satisfied with the quick sketch and a few lines describing my idea. We'll see.
    What to write about ? What not to write about ? For now, anything goes. This is an exercise. It deflects perfection and settles for settling. Just string a few words together, snap out some ideas and see how it stands. It doesn't have to be diamond quality. It has to be ok. It has to be for now. The great Canadian novel, the perfect science fiction short story, a great YA graphic novel, a long poem encrusted with my every poetic tendency, the scathingly brilliant piece of conceptual writing no one saw coming, all this and more, throw a rock opera into the mix. Let these beasts crawls slowly out of that first murky ocean and see how they take to firm ground, flippers turning to feet. Let every step be small and definite. Let the masterwork be crafted with occasional spastic gestures. Let perfection erupt spontaneously from naive ramblings and honest attempts. World without end.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Favourite Numbers

There are Corvette kids and Trans-Am kids, I was a Corvette kid. My brother was cucumber, I was tomato. His favourite number was five so I couldn't have five also. I went with seven. Seven is ok. I still don't understand people who didn't have a favourite number as children. Or a favourite colour. I ask them, what's your favourite number, as if it still mattered and they pause, uncertain. Sometimes they even go so far as to think the question stupid.
    Kids attach to things and to ideas. Things often are ideas, to kids. Cucumber means something very different than tomato. Cucumber is Bert, tomato is Ernie. Seven oddly enough is more cucumber than tomato but this is not a precise science. This is a mythopoetic structure that assumes free float on occasion. Entanglements occur, schisms rise and fall, seas part and mountains crumble.
    Adults can secretly, unknowingly glom onto the number two and not ever think they are infected with anything. They go ahead and divvy up this big old world into this and that, tit and tat, tomato and tomato. Good for them, these little magpies. They've taken shiny things and left the dull to their enemies. Wars aren't made by the number two, it's more complicated than that but for the popular vote, two is instrumental. It must be firmly planted in the supporter's mind.
    Any kid of course can like two fruits or two sports cars. But sometimes the dividing line pops out clear and strong and it can't be crossed until maturity sets in and wipes the playing field clean. Having a favourite doesn't mean you can't like the other thing. It means you have a favourite. Reasons why are arcane, inscrutable. I saw it first. You like that so I don't because I'm not you, I'm me. I like it because I saw it when I was having ice cream. I like Corvettes because Mrs. Walker had one. My grade four teacher was pretty. She also drove a Jimmy. Both vehicles were metallic brown, if that's possible. Small flakes of sparkle. Maybe burgundy brown. Later on Peter K. liked Trans-Ams and he was a bit of a jerk, so fuck Trans-Ams. But not with that word yet, that's still a bad word.
    My mother tells me that when I was very young I couldn't get enough of cucumbers. Apparently I OD'd on them before the onset of memory. I got sick of them while my brother continued to enjoy them. So naturally I assumed they were his thing and me ? Tomatoes. Bert is taller than Ernie, taller means older like my brother was. Cucumbers are taller than tomatoes. Bert is long and Ernie is round. If Bert was green it would be perfect.
    Tomato goes great with lettuce. I loved lettuce. Could eat a whole head of it. A proud moment was when a truck full of crates of lettuce was spotted and my older brother told some neighbour kid that I, his kid brother could eat that whole thing. I could too. It didn't stop at tomatoes. Eventually I warmed up to cucumbers. Trans-Ams too. Beyond this and that, number three has been with me for a long time. Three plus seven makes ten. Ten is two fives. I always wanted number five to be my fave.