Ron Mueck

29 08 2010

Check out Ron Mueck. Fabulous stuff.

That Girl From Temse

26 08 2010

I have been bike riding recently with my headphones on. Listening to a eclectic variety of music from Johnny Cash to the Kinks to Ella Fitzgerald to the Wallflowers. (Even some Eminem.) Doing this when I go for walks as well. Even sitting in a Starbucks. (Although they have music on which parallels my own taste so its pretty much the same.) I am not alone. Many or most people are listening to something while they march on through their days. The other day I took my headphones off. What I noticed is that there is a lot of noise in the world. I’d noticed it before of course but this time it felt as if there was something wrong with my hearing. It hurt. Are we becoming intolerant toward the noises of the city? Perhaps we are returning to a pre-industrial sensitivity. Music (whatever your taste) is about order, harmony, rhythm. It feels good in our head. Noise is random, harsh, reaching pitches and notes that hurt. Are we going to change the noise pollution in our cities or are we going to hide from it?


24 08 2010


“I want to die.” Mr. Singh spread the fingers of his two hands across the counter. Like they were two crabs doing push ups.

“Is that too much to ask?” A robust man, Mr. Singh had thick hairy eyebrows that fell haplessly over his sorrowful down turned eyes.

A round face looked out at the world.

“But…” His nose spread like a train tunnel. His mouth fell open like a tea pot’s spout ready to pour. Mr. Singh took a deep breath as his eyes scanned the couches, beds, and bureaus in his huge furniture store.

“They won’t leave me alone. Why? You’re asking yourself why a successful merchant such as myself would want to commit the ultimate… sale.?”

There was a sign behind Mr. Singh. Hanging on the wall. Like a drapery on an aircraft carrier. Everything On Sale. Everything Must Go, read the sign.

Mr. Singh moved his tongue around in his mouth tasting his words.

“Appreciation!” The word shot out of Singh’s mouth like spit. “Nobody appreciates anyone. Anymore. We have lost the ability to appreciate. We depreciate. As soon as something is off the lot. We are never satisfied. There must always be more. Lesson learned. First word – appreciation.”

Mr. Singh hesitated. He looked off to one side as if he was waiting to be cued.

“Second word. Congratulations! No matter what difficulties you face and overcome, no one congratulates you. They do not come up and shake your hand. They do not say, ‘Mr. Singh, you have done a very nice job!’ They complain. ‘Mr. Singh, why aren’t your prices lower? Why must you add sales tax to the cost of this item? Or that item? If everything is to go, why can’t you give it to me for free?’ As if it was my choice whether to add sales tax. Am I not already selling this or that item on sale? Is that not enough? You are saving money. Be happy. Be content. You must not be so greedy. Smell the coffee… roses. Lesson learned. Second word – congratulations.”

Mr. Singh took a handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and wiped his brow.

“Infestation! We have mice. I was so embarrassed when I was showing Mr. Green a new couch and he discovered mouse droppings under the cushion. I am afraid to go downstairs to the storage room and check out the mattresses. There could be empires of mice down there. Civilizations. Mice versions of the Incas. Of Rome. There could be an Alexander the Great. An Attila the Rat.”

Mr. Singh raised his right hand and pointed upward.

“My brother-in-law sold me the mattresses. On margin. He was taking a loss. Or so he said. At such mind blowing prices, he argued, people would flock to my store to buy these mattresses. Have I sold one mattress? Have I seen a flock? I should not have trusted my brother-in-law. And would not have if my wife had not assured me of his honesty. Have I sold one mattress? I have not. Do not trust your wife’s relatives. Lesson learned. Third word – infestation. If not for these mice, I would have slit my wrists long ago.”

Mr. Singh took a deep breath and wiped his brow again.

“Compromises! I opened a corner of my store for one dollar purchases. Six aisles. Of junk. And so little profit margin. But it does cover the wages of the young lady I must employ on the cash. To monitor the store when I am not there. The young lady is my own daughter. Yes, I must pay my own daughter. Like I would any other employee. I do not charge her room and board but still she insists that I pay her. I do not mind. I want to encourage her to look after herself. To earn and save. But… she wants benefits. My own daughter wants benefits. She talks about a pension plan. What does a fifteen year old girl need with a pension? And a raise. She argues that she has worked for me long enough to warrant a raise. And still she complains. The sounds of the mice frighten her. Nightmares. The thought of the mice keeps her up at night. It is not the mice but that damn internet. But I say nothing. I must say nothing. That is what my wife commands. And she who spends my money must be obeyed. My wife says that I must not alienate my daughter. My daughter says that there aren’t enough customers to keep her busy. To keep her from listening to the tiny feet across the ceiling. And under the floor boards. And the cries of the new born mice. All pink and blind and wanting. Squealing to be suckled. I do not know how she can hear anything with that damn electronic device in her ear. She cannot hear me. How can she hear the mice? She tells me that the job is too boring. She wants to be busy. I hand her a broom. And she calls me a pig. I do not want her to be bored. I want her to be busy. Still she complains that it is my fault. How do you manage these teenage girls? Who only worry about make-up. And clothes. And the boys. That is what is on her mind. I have warned her mother. Talk to the girl. Make her aware of the thoughts of these young men. They are not satisfied until they are satisfied. And my wife looks at me like I am crazy. I was a boy once. Yes, she cries, I remember. You were always pestering me. More. More. More. You have always been greedy. Do not hire your daughter. If I had no daughter, I would have been in the ground long ago. Lesson learned.”

“Ambitious! That is what I am. Not greedy. I want a better life for my family. For my daughter. So that she can have the man that is worthy of her. And not some high school drop out. And my wife. I want her to have an easier life. Not like my dear mother. Who complained all the time that my father was lazy. But, I overstepped. The Six Points Plaza. I should never have come here. I was happy in Alderwood Plaza. Yes, the store was small. But I could get by. Okay, all the bills didn’t get paid. Do they ever? And yes, my wife wanted us to move to a better neighborhood. She’d heard that Canadians all have cottages. Where was ours? She wanted to bring her mother over from the old country. To a cottage. To let her swim. To go trout fishing. You think my mother-in-law wants to go trout fishing. I would pay to see that. But, my wife does not listen to me. She wants her Canadian cottage.”

Mr. Singh loosened his tie and undid the top button of his pale blue shirt.

“We wanted the better life. What did we get? Mattresses going musty. Mice shit. A daughter with the attitude. And Mr. G! I have not mentioned Mr. G. Mr. G is the owner of the plaza. A most unpleasant man. Tall. Wispy blonde hair. A beard that is clotted with food and spit. Bad breath. And terrible teeth. He does not want to hear complaints. He does not want to talk about improvements. Or maintenance. Or the fire code. He only wants to see my money. I tell him that we need to talk. I would like to drop in at his home. But, he doesn’t give out his home address. I think Mr. G is afraid of guests. Rules! There are so many rules. Mr. G tells me I must not open a dollar store. There is already one in the plaza. And he tells me that my furniture is too cheap. It makes the whole plaza look cheesy. And I must take down my bankrupt sale sign. People don’t believe I am actually going bankrupt. The sale has been going on too long. I tell him that is the way you must sell to the public. I know the public. The public has been my education! Mr. G. cannot teach me anything about retail.”

Mr. Singh picks up a glass of water from a side table next to him. He takes a swallow.

“I am not selling enough merchandise to make a profit. Oh yes, I do make some sales. Many of those people return weeks later with complaints. They want a refund. Or an exchange. Do they not understand the meaning of a bankrupt sale? It means that you cannot return the object that you have purchased. This is the meaning of a bankrupt sale. Everyone knows this. I should not have to explain it. But still they do not listen. The public! You cannot believe the kind of customers I have. Last week I was showing Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds living room suites when I found a man asleep on one of the couches. I did not see him come into the store. Later my daughter said that he had come in earlier that morning. I know the man. He is always loitering around the plaza. I do not understand how Mr. G allows such people to loiter. He buys nothing. This man. He comes into my shop and looks around as if he will buy something but never does he make a purchase. Always the promise. ‘I will come back later, Mr. Singh,’ he says. And he does come back later. But not to make a purchase. He is a giant. And he does not bath often. Nor change his clothes. I think he is deranged. He talks. Incessantly. Never stops. I should introduce him to my mother-in-law. And he takes naps on my couches. How am I to sell this merchandise to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds? I cannot.”

Mr. Singh loosens his tie some more and takes another drink of water.

“Health! The doctor in the plaza clinic tells me that I must learn to relax. Blood pressure. It is too high. And I must lose weight. Around the middle. You see my complexion. I look like I have been in the sun. The good life by the pool. Laying on a beach in Florida. Don’t I wish? It is high blood pressure. I cannot afford to be ill. Who is going to buy a three piece couch from a man who is barely alive? You must exude health. The successful man is a healthy man. I shall die of natural causes before I can kill myself. It is not fair.”

THE RAIL – Katie Halliday

22 08 2010

This poem was written by my oldest daughter. Almost on a dare. She used to write poetry when she was younger and I recognized early that she had real talent. Katie decided that her passions were other places. (She has become a sound editor in the film industry.) This is a young woman who can do anything she sets her mind on. If I had half her energy and talents, I would have considered myself blessed. I hope she continues to write. I love to read her stuff.


THE RAIL – Katie Halliday

The Dead Night Sky, clouded

The moon is blocked

Not even shadows prevail

It comes, swift and steady

The squeals of metal on metal fill the night

Sparks fly, lighting the dark

It takes them to new places

Only to bring them back to the beginning

It is fuelled by unseen forces

It is unstopping, unchanging

Its circuit is repeating

It passes

The screams echo; the only proof it ever existed

It continues on into the night

The clouds drift and the moon appears

Washing the color from the world

Alexa Meade

22 08 2010

This is an interesting artist. She paints people to look like they have stepped out of a painting.  Her name is Alexa Meade. I found her through this terrific blog Echostains.

Mircea Eliade – Monroe to Hitler

18 08 2010

What is the reason for archetypal figures? And are there so many that we cannot distinguish individuals from those types? Do we in fact know anyone except as some kind of generalization? He or she is this or that type of person. Are we incapable as human beings in seeing individuality? The idea is frightening. Do we know anyone, even our most loved ones, our mates, our children? Ourselves?


18 08 2010


“You’ve got to admit …” Harold smiled. And hesitated. There was a belch rising. And there was a word he couldn’t find. He searched through the thesaurus. Called his brain. What was the word that fit the situation? …Situation. And then there was gravity.

A small man, Harold was dressed in a t-shirt that advertised some coming event that had long ago since passed. On his head sat a dark blue beret. With a little nipple on top. Carefully, he attempted to lean against the pillar outside the Canadiana Restaurant, making sure that his shoulder was well placed before turning to his friend. Perhaps he shouldn’t have had that last beer. Or two.

“You didn’t handle that situation… well.” Harold added. There was a sense of confidence now. The pillar was solidly behind him. And he had discovered the word he needed and it worked. That wasn’t always the case. Recently.

His friend, Gerald, looked up at him. Gerald, a man of similar stature also wore a beret. His was black. Gerald’s legs wobbled as he attempted to stop. Rising up on his toes before settling back on his heels. Gerald stopped. On his t-shirt was imprinted the face of rock star Bruce Springsteen. Gerald looked at his friend. Did we pay our bill? He could not recall.

“I didn’t handle… it well?” Gerald’s words were slurred. As if his lips were hooked by the serifs. Gerald loved to fish. He thought like a fish. Sometimes he smelled like a fish. Gerald squinted. Like a small mouth bass through the weeds. His old friend looked blurred. Like television on rabbit ears. Gerald stuck a stick of gum into his mouth. He began to chew the words – stuck a stick.

Gerald leaned over and placed his half full glass of beer on the ground.

“I thought I handled it… appropriat… very well. You want a stick of gum?”

Harold shook his head. Gum made him clausterphobic.

“Why are you chewing gum?”

“I have to hide my breath,” Gerald responded. “I don’t want the wife to know that I’ve been… drinking. And then there’s my condition.”

Gerald fell back a step before catching his balance.

Harold nodded. “Oh that.”

“Besides,” Gerald continued, “its nicotine gum.”

“You don’t smoke.”

Gerald stared at Harold for a moment but did not respond. Stuck a stick had gotten stuck in his head. Like a hook in the throat.

“What do you mean calling me an Italian?” Gerald asked.

Harold looked at Gerald.

“You’re Italian. You’re parents were Italian. As far back as any of your..”

“I’m no more Italian than you are.” Gerald stared at Harold for a moment while he thought. “What the hell are you?”

“Irish,” Harold responded. “Mostly. A little Scottish. French. Native.”


“Indian,” Harold responded.

“You ain’t no Indian.” Gerald laughed. “I think I know an Indian when I see one and you, my friend, are no Indian.”

“When did you ever meet an Indian?” Harold asked.

Gerald thought for a moment then responded, “In the movies.”

“Those were Italians,” Harold responded. “Italian actors playing Indians.”

Both men were silent. Gerald stared into the parking lot. Harold felt like throwing himself in front of a car.  Gerald smiled. Some image had filled him with satisfaction.  Satisfaction threw him off balance. He staggered backwards. In order to correct this mechanical error, he threw himself forward. Just stopping before he fell off the edge of the sidewalk.

Harold watched Gerald’s performance for a minute. God, he’s a good dancer.

Gerald waved his hands in the air.

“You ain’t whatever you say, and I ain’t Italian.” Gerald pointed at Harold. “We’re Islington boys. Boys from the Six Points. That’s our nationality.” Gerald had trouble pronouncing nationality.

Harold looked down. Mistake. Things began to spin. And then he discovered the beer in his hand. Saved. He took a swallow.

“And she was giving me the eye,” Gerald said with added relish.

Harold pushed away from the pillar as he attempted to reach into his pocket. He pulled out his cigarettes and waving back and forth, lit one up.  He offered one to his friend. Gerald shook his head.

“For Terry,” Harold said.

Gerald’s eyes filled with tears. He licked his lips. Then angrily grabbed the package of cigarettes out of his friends hand.

“Why’d you have to mention his name?” And lit up a cigarette.

Smoke drifted out of Harold’s smile.

“She wasn’t looking at you.”

Gerald’s mouth dropped, a gob of smoke tumbling out of his mouth.

“I miss him.”

Harold stared at Gerald. “God, she was so young. Do you remember what that must be like? Holding a body. It ain’t going to happen again. You know that.”

Gerald stared back at Harold, the cigarette dangling out of his lips.

“What the hell are…”

“I ain’t going to fall in love again. Won’t happen.”  Harold wiped the tears from his cheek.

“Don’t do that.” Gerald said.

Harold shook his head. “Remember that girl. The one Terry almost married.”

Gerald grimaced. “Don’t.”

“Remember, she always used to wear red dresses. I used to have dreams about her.”

“Ya.” Gerald sighed. Defeated. “But she was Terry’s girl.”

“She was French or something.”

“Belgian.”       Gerald smiled. “Like Brigid Bardot.”

“She didn’t look like Bardot.” Harold shook his head. “She was tall. Remember her legs.”

Gerald smiled. “And her breasts. In that red dress. ”

“Why would she wear any other colour?” Harold said.

The two old men were silent again. Each lost in memory.

Gerald shook his head. He kissed the end of his cigarette.

“Why did they break up?” Harold asked.

“Why did Terry break up with any of them?”

Harold shook with laughter. Beer lapped up the sides of his glass. Trying to escape.

“What’s so funny?” Gerald asked.

“I hated Terry.”

“Ya. He always got the girl.”

“He left us here. Alone.” Harold finished his beer.

“He cheated.”

“I thought we were going to go through this thing. Together.”

“Like the three musketeers.”

“I hated Terry,” Harold repeated.

“We were such kids,” Gerald replied, shaking his head. “Such a long time ago.”

The two friends fell silent again. Gerald leaned over and picked up his beer. A few inches. Then put it down. And then unable to rise. Lowered himself. So that he was sitting. Beside his glass.

Gerald turned to Harold.

“What did you say to that waitress?”

Harold laughed then coughed, smoke spewing out of his mouth.

“I’m glad you’re amused.” Gerald shook his head.

“It was nothing.”

The two men chuckled.

“These things are going to kill you,” Harold said looking at his cigarette.

Nothing got us kicked out of the bar,” Gerald responded.

Harold waved his hands at Gerald.

“I said I liked her dress.”

“You said you liked her dress?” Gerald asked.

Harold nodded. “Her red dress.”

“There must have been more,” Gerald said.


“Well what?” Gerald demanded.

“I said that I’d like to see her red dress… around her ankles.”

Gerald broke out laughing. Smoke shaken from between his teeth. His eyes going white. His face turning red.

“Where would you come up with a line like that?” Gerald asked.

“I heard Terry use it.” Harold took a deep breath. “He got that girl in the red dress with it.”

“You were there?”

“Well…” Harold looked at Gerald. “Terry told me.”

The two old men started laughing. Gerald rolled over holding his stomach. Spilling his beer. Harold held onto the pole. His cigarette dropping out of his fingers. When they had regained their composure, Harold staggered over and helped his friend to his feet.

“We need another drink,” Harold said.

“We got kicked out,” Gerald said.

“You’re going to apologize to the waitress,” Harold said.

“Why should I apologize?” Gerald asked.

“She’ll never listen to me,” Harold explained.