Lunch break ideas


Trust, etc...



I don't trust dark-skinned, dark-haired women who don't have hair on their legs.

I feel like they're trying to hide something other than hirsuteness.

I realise that this may sound racist and/or misogynist. It's not. I ALSO don't trust white men who walk around in business suits in 30 degree weather (That's Celsius, by the way. Do whatever you have to do to convert it if you need to. I think you're supposed to double it, add 30, move to Arkansas, buy a nice house and get a dog... Or something like that).

Just to be clear, I  don't trust white men in business suits IN GENERAL but the ones who walk around in them in 30 degree (Celsius) weather are definitely trying to hide something and I'm pretty sure it's not their hirsuteness...

I also don't trust Voodoo priests and priestesses. Again, this isn't a black/white thing. It's a fucking VOODOO thing.

I know, I know... Voodoo is a religion, and just like every other religion, it has its own inherent creepy rituals and iconography. But zombies? Really?

Yes, the argument could be made that Christianity is also based on a zombie-like premise, but at least Christians don't use Zombie Jesus to do shit like scare people for them.

Wait a second. That's actually pretty much the entire foundation of the Christian religion, isn't it?

The main difference for someone like me - who actually doesn't know much about religions - is that no one ever made an "Angel Heart" or a "Serpent and the Rainbow"-type movie about Christianity.

I know what you're thinking (Relax... I don't really, I'm no Voodoo priest). If you're over 35 and watched a lot of movies in the 80s, you're saying, "Actually Judes... The entire plot of "Angel Heart" revolves around Christian notions of the struggle between good and evil and trying to find redemption in a world where Satan (the Devil) meddles in human affairs..." I see your point, but you need to breathe more when you talk. Seriously. It will make you feel better. Also, you should look into that nasal tone of yours. It's unbecoming.

But let's face facts: The parts of "Angel Heart" that you remember the most - the ones that are burned into the splinter of your mind's eye - are the ones that involve a naked Lisa Bonet dancing naked as she cuts a chicken's throat and rubs all over her shiny, sweaty body and....

You know what? Now that I think about it, I actually kind of like Voodoo priestesses.

And dark-haired, dark-skinned ladies who don't have hair on their legs...

Des choses dont je ne suis pas particulièrement fier - 1ère partie


En 2003, j'étais le plus vieux camelot en Australie.

Bon... Ce n'est pas tout à fait vrai. Je n'étais pas un camelot. Je faisais du porte à porte pour vendre des abonnements au Herald Sun (le Journal de Montréal de Melbourne). J'avais 31 ans et tous mes collègues (ainsi que me patrons) en avaient entre 21 et 27. J'étais le vieux louche de la place. Ce n'était pas la première fois, ni la dernière.

Quand on fait du porte à porte pour vendre des abonnements à un journal qui est surtout utile pour essuyer la merde de chien qui reste prise entre les fentes des semelles, il faut travailler fort. Il n'a pas de salaire. On se fait payer 5$ par abonnement... Il faut donc essayer de rejoindre le plus de gens possible et de les convaincre de s'abonner au journal sans avoir recours à une pile de merde de chien (ou de kangourou, tout dépendant...).

Sans me vanter, je me débrouillais assez bien. Parfois, je me donnais un accent québécois pour que les gens aient pitié de moi. Si ça ne fonctionnait pas dans le quartier où je me trouvais, je prenais un accent des maritimes. Ça, ça fonctionne toujours si vous voulez donner l'impression d'être un pauvre voyageur qui ne mangerait pas s'il ne vendait pas ses maudits abonnements.

Un jour, nous nous sommes retrouvés en banlieue de Melbourne... À Geelong. Si vous ne connaissez pas Geelong, imaginez Hochelaga-Maisonneuve mais avec moins de classe, moins de dents et plus de bière australienne. Vous le voyez? Dans votre tête? C'est beau, non?

Vendre des abonnements à Geelong, ce n'était pas évident. Une des premières personnes que j'ai abordée m'a répondu - sans ironie (je crois honnêtement que l'ironie n'existe pas à Geelong) - qu'il ne voulait pas de journal parce qu'il était "ittelleré". Pas "illettré"... "ittelleré". Heureusement sa femme était tellerée et j'ai quand même réussi à vendre ma salade (avec mon accent normal, en plus).

Le soleil australien (qui, malgré ce que l'ont dit, n'est pas une lune) avait atteint son zénith. Il ne me restait que quelques heures pour essayer de gagner l'argent pour que ma beuverie mercredinienne devienne réalité. J'ai cogné à la porte d'une petite maison (et voilà la différence entre Geelong et Hochelaga-Maisonneuve... Eux, ils ont des maisons) qui sortait d'un film de Peter Weir.

"Entrez!" (Je traduis, bien sûr. Les australiens et le français, c'est une peu comme les Montréalais et les bonnes manières.) Je suis entré dans un salon qui aurait pu servir dans le tournage de Psychose de Hitchcock. Un hommage à la taxidermie et les ballerines en porcelaine.

Et là, sur le sofa recouvert de plastique, il y a avait une madame. Elle avait peut-être 73 ans (C'est assez spécifique?) et elle pesait environ 200 kilos (Je dois noter qu'elle devient plus grosse à chaque fois que je raconte cette histoire. Je suis honnête quand même. Disons seulement qu'elle était grosse). Elle avait une bonbonne d'oxygène et elle lisait un genre d'Echos-Vedettes australien (j'imagine que Kylie Minogue y figurait).

J'ai fait mon pitch avec mon sourire canadien et ma voix de radio. Rien. Rien de rien. Elle ne voulait rien savoir. Avec un soupir, je suis reparti par la porte/moustiquaire... précisément au même moment qu'une adolescente arrivait avec un boîte d'épicerie. On s'est dit bonjour (en anglais... Vous voyez comme je suis cohérent?) et je suis allé à la prochaine maison.

J'avais fait 2 ou 3 autres pitchs (toujours rien... rien de rien) et la frustration commençait à paraître malgré le soleil qui n'est pas une lune et l'odeur de fruits qui semble imprégner l'Australie.

"HEY!"

C'était l'adolescente qui s’avançait vers moi. "La madame là-bas a changé d'idée. Elle veut ton journal."

"Merci!", lui ai-je dit en courant vers la maison, un beau 5$ qui brillait dans mes yeux.

Un déjà vu. J'ai cogné à la porte.

"Entrez!"

Mais quelque chose avait changé. Les animaux empaillés et les ballerines me regardaient encore, mais la madame n'était plus sur le sofa plasticisé. Elle était couché par terre. Son Echos-Vedettes australien était à côté d'elle et quelques ballerines avaient décidé de se coucher avec elle, malgré l'état lamentable de son tapis. Elle me regarda et elle a dit (et là, je ne vais pas traduire pour que les bilingues d'un certain âge puissent apprécier le moment) "I've fallen and I can't get up!". Je vous le jure. C'est ça qu'elle m'a dit. Et moi, étant le jeune homme élevé par la culture populaire et les infopubs que je suis... Je suis parti à rire.

Elle m'a regardé avec un air incrédule. "Tu ris de moi?"

"NON! Non, madame... C'est juste que... Vous connaissez? La pub?" Elle ne connaissait visiblement pas la pub et elle n'était pas contente la madame. Je me suis réveillé du moment surréaliste et j'ai tenté de l'aider. J'ai ramassé les ballerines, l'Écho-Vedettes australien et des crayons éparpillés. Mais elle... N'oubliez pas, elle pesait 235 kilos et moi j'étais plus ou moins jeune et svelte (Ne riez pas. C'est vrai.). J'ai réussi à la déplacer pour qu'elle soit plus confortable mais je ne pouvais pas la relever. Impossible.

"Tiens. Appelle l'ambulance...", me dit-elle en me donnant le téléphone. J'ai composé l'équivalent du 911 (je crois que c'est le 119, si je me souviens bien) et quand la gentille madame au téléphone m'a demandé quelle était mon urgence, j'ai répondu:

"There's a lady here. She's fallen and she can't get up..." Et, fidèle à moi même, je suis parti à rire. Encore.

J'ai expliqué la situation et on m'a dit qu'une ambulance était en route. J'ai raccroché le téléphone. Moi et la madame couchée par terre nous nous sommes regardés. Il y avait comme un malaise dans l'air. Un malaise qui s'est présenté sous forme de silence oppressif. Je n'aime pas le silence oppressif. Je le trouve... oppressif. Et il me rend nerveux. Pour couper le silence je lui ai dit, "Il semblerait que vous voulez prendre l'abonnement?". Qu'on ne dise jamais que je ne suis pas un caméléon culturel. Ça ne faisait que quelques heures que j'étais à Geelong et j'étais déjà assimilé au niveau de la classe et des bonnes manières.

J'ai expliqué comment ça fonctionnait et elle m'a dit qu'elle était d'accord. Je lui ai donné le formulaire pour qu'elle écrive son nom, son numéro de téléphone et sa carte de crédit. C'était un peu pénible. Avez-vous déjà essayé d'écrire quand vous êtes couché par terre? Ce n'est vraiment pas facile... Un peu comme vendre des abonnements au Herald Sun à Geelong.

J'avais l'information nécessaire et ça faisait une dizaine de minutes que nous attendions l'ambulance. Je commençais à être un peu stressé. Il fallait que je continue ma journée si je voulais avoir un autre 5$ avant que le soleil qui n'est pas une lune se couche. En plus, le silence était revenu. Je vous l'ai déjà dit... Je ne sais pas quoi faire avec un tel silence. Nerveux, stressé et inconfortable, j'ai dit la première chose qui m'est venu à l'esprit: "Est-ce que ça vous dérange si je pars? Je dois continuer ma journée.".

Je pensais qu'elle allait me tuer, ou qu'elle allait déchiré notre entente. Mais non. Elle était devenue très gentille la madame qui n'étaient pas contente 15 minutes auparavant. "Ah oui. Vas-y! Normalement, ça prend entre 15 ou 20 minutes avant qu'ils arrivent. Ils ne devraient pas tarder..." Je lui ai serré la main (c'est un peu malaisant, serrer la main de quelqu'un qui ne peut pas se lever). J'ai ouvert la porte et je suis reparti dans le soleil qui n'est pas une lune de Geelong.

P.S. Mon total de ventes pour la journée: 12. J'avais donc 60$ pour la beuverie mercredinienne qui s'est terminé le jeudi matin dans un bar qui sortait de Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, suite aux conseils d'un policier. Mais ça, c'est une autre histoire.

The Not-So Magical Mystery Bus

It's 6:30pm. I'm sitting on a bus and wondering what would happen if I stood up and screamed "EUREKA!" as loud as humanly possible. My guess is that the other people on the bus probably wouldn't believe me and things would get rather awkward rather quickly. I don't like awkward bus rides, so I'm sitting here. Looking out the window as the city turns into a bumpy blur.

I wonder if platypus (or is it platypi? I can never remember) have feelings. If they do, I imagine that platypus/pi feelings are probably quite far removed from human feelings. But you never know. Maybe we have more in common with platypi than we can possibly imagine (I'm pretty sure it's platypi at this point. It just sounds... right).

The bus just started making a strange noise. It's not a bus-like noise at all but I'm not worried about it because we just passed a guy walking on a tightrope in a park. He's concentrating. He's not a very good tightrope-walker, but he's better than someone who has never walked on a tightrope (That's just a guess, but probably a fairly good one).

I hope he hasn't lost something. Not now, I mean... Not WHILE he's actually tightrope-walking. It would be a bad time to lose something. Not at all convenient.

I just noticed the guy sitting beside me. He's wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and a sports coat as he reads Molière. He looks like he should (or rather that he wants to be) in a Truffaut film. Not a movie. A film. It's not annoying, but really, it is...

A very serious-looking man just sat next to him. His face is serious. The rest of him is just... odd. He's wearing cycling shorts. No scratch that. He's wearing a full-on cycling outfit. He looks like he's going to a Tour de France party. Maybe he's an extremely fashion-conscious jogger. Regardless, he doesn't look like he should be on a bus and yet... Here he is.

Tour de France guy just took his fluorescent-lined sneakers. Truffaut doesn't seem at all happy about this. Oh. He's putting on a pair of Adidas workout pants. They're vinyl, or Gore-Tex (I can never tell the difference). What is this guy? A walking commercial?

Wouldn't companies love that? If they could start sponsoring regular people, instead of athletes and celebrities? They could just take over some poor sap's life. "You wear our clothes and tell people how great they are. Simple, isn't it... uh... Frank?"

It probably already happens. I just don't know any of them. Maybe I do. Maybe I'm one of them. Why am I wearing this stuff? And where's my cheque?

I see trees of green. Clouds of white. And I think to myself...

What a Wonderbra world...

The @peopleofcanada Situation

A quick word on the recent events on the @peopleofcanada twitter feed:

(Disclaimer: This is not a justification for what happened or for my actions. I freely admit that I fucked up. I do however feel that I should be allowed to discuss these events from my perspective as receiving "you're a sexist, misogynist pig" messages is not only disturbing... It is not true.)


Firstly, I did not make rape jokes. I responded to a retweet of the recent Jenny McCarthy / Justin Bieber "cougarrape" photo with an (admittedly) bad Pulp Fiction reference. I find the image of Ving Rhames choking Justin Bieber to be funny. I now see that it was a bonehead move as in the context of her original tweet, it came out as a rape joke. 


The person then reacted to my (again... admittedly) stupid joke by bringing up the fact that rape jokes aren't funny. After the Daniel Tosh incident this summer, there was a lot of talk about this in various media. I tried to turn the discussion towards this controversy and the use of rape jokes in comedy. I don't think that my intention came across (it was a discussion I had on my personal account many times) and I didn't handle it as well as I should have, considering I was using the @peopleofcanada account . People got upset as they thought I was defending rape jokes. I wasn't I was trying to talk about the issue of rape jokes in comedy and it snowballed. 


I  apologised to the person in question. A VERY SINCERE apology (that I cannot repeat often enough) as I saw that it had upset them personally and although my humour can be abrasive and offensive, I do not think that I should use it if someone feels vulnerable. If you read the articles on the recent rape joke situation, the consensus is that most rape jokes don't work because they ridicule victims. I would never, and I repeat NEVER use humour to exploit someone's vulnerability. There is offensive humour and there is downright mean humour. And yes... I know that line.


Before these events had even taken place, someone (who, incidentally, was male) had sent me a message telling me what a jerk I was because I had made a joke about beavers having sex. On my personal account, I called this person a cunt. I call people cunts all the time. I blame it on Australia, that damn country corrupted me with bad language and delicious Rum and Coke... This set off another chain of events...


The person I had upset earlier saw this tweet and assumed it was directed at them. It wasn't. I don't know how many more ways there are to say it... That tweet went out before I had interacted with this person. 



An while I'm trying to be clear, Iet me say that I COMPLETELY understand the reasons I was pulled from the account. Because of the misunderstandings that lead up to it, I agree that it could be argued that I'd violated the terms I had agreed to. But I would like it to be clear that I was not being the shameful, woman-hating sexist that some people now think I am. Yes, my jokes can be distasteful and offensive but they are jokes and some people don't like them. I don't believe in hate speech (which is what some are accusing me of) and anyone who follows me knows this. I believe in equality, strength, compassion and solidarity. That's me, that who I am... Unfortunately, that is attached to a big mouth that spews inappropriate things. I also did not participate in hate speech. I called someone who had insulted me a cunt. It had NOTHING to do with women, with rape or with any of the other things that people who did not know the whole story have accused me of. 


Basically, I screwed up and handled a bad situation badly. It wasn't the first time and it probably won't be the last. I'm working on it....


I apologise to everyone on the @peopleofcanada feed who was offended by the way this all played out... Especially to Divyesh Mistry... for having created what must be an Advil-sized headache and to the person who was originally affected by all this. I wish you nothing but the best and hope that you will read this explanation. 


Be good to yourselves,

j.

Photos

I got a new camera a few months back and I've finally had time to sit down and look at some of the photos I've taken with it. I'm in a sharing mood. So without further ado, (basically) my summer vacation: 

 This Turtle is Making Me Thirsty.


Tree. Wind. Tree.

O. Getting Ready For His Future Career

I Love You Berry Much.

Oh Shit. Really?

OK... Let's.

Dear Ass...

Tree. Mirror. Tree

Nom. Nom.

Adequate Indeed.

Rattlesnake I Accidentally Pissed Off.

Fire. Man. Or Am I?

Ram.

Le Québec brûle.

Enough Said.

Sun. Set. Sun.

Confused Lizard.

Firetruck In The Sky.

O and D.

The Natives Are Neither Restless Nor Impressed.

Set. Sun. Set.

Jesus. What Could Be That High Up?

I'm Not Berry Sure About This Anymore.

Sasquatch Made This Sign.

Veryy Hidden.

Luke Gage.

Parking lot memories



I must have been eight years old. Maybe nine...

When you look back on your life, there's a thin line between eight and nine. Moreso than other years, it seems. You don't realise this when you're nine because you're too busy celebrating the fact that you're not eight anymore. So maybe the line isn't as thin as I think it is. If a nine year old is aware of it, it must be pretty obvious.

It was the summer. that much I'm sure of. I remember the heat. I remember the green of the trees as my mom's Rambler followed the winding road that led to Mic Mac Mall. It was a 10 minute drive and when I look back on it now, it seems ridiculous that we did it so often. I suspect that the ice shelves breaking in the Arctic as I write this are a direct result of those 10 minute drives in a hulking boat of a car.

My mother was doing groceries and she decided to leave me in the car. It was the 70s. You could do things like that with impunity. In the romanticised absurdist version of this memory that runs in my head, I recall looking out on the ocean of Ramblers, Chevrettes and Pintos and seeing at least 20 other kids sitting in locked cars as the Nova Scotian sun beat down on the Mic Mac parking lot. (Wouldn't the Mi'kmaq be proud?) I like to think that 30-odd years later, these imaginary kids are all secretly wishing they could be as "irresponsible" as our parents were.

I had a pencil and a paper (my mother knew this would distract me) and I was drawing clouds. This was a phase I went through and to be honest, I think I should take it up again. The windows were rolled up, but I heard a noise from not too far away, so I looked up from the paper clouds.

There was a blind man. He had a beard, a fedora-type hat and a white cane. I swear to God. It was like a blind person had jumped out of a New Yorker cartoon and decided to wander around in the Mic Mac Mall parking lot.

Just beside the New Yorker cartoon blind man, there was a woman heading to her car with a shopping cart. There weren't any kids in her car. That, I remember. He approached her and held out his hand as he said something that I couldn't hear because, as I mentioned,  the windows were rolled up . Being the inquisitive (ok... nosy) little punk that I was, I rolled down the window. By hand. That's how you used to roll down windows, in case you're reading this and you're twenty. She shook her head and mumbled something as she walked past him without even really looking at whatever it was he had in his hand.

With hindsight, I don't know why I did what I did next. I don't know why I do most of the things I do, but maybe I did when I was eight (or nine). "Excuse me?", I called out. "Sir?"

The New Yorker cartoon blind man cocked his head and followed my voice. He came up to the burgundy Rambler that he had no way of identifying as a burgundy Rambler.

"Yes? Hello?", he said.

"Hi. What do you have in your hand?", I asked. So much for that whole "Don't talk to strangers" pep talk. He showed me. It was a pile of cards. Not playing cards. He wasn't a blind magician. Well... Maybe he was, but I can't pronounce myself on those matters. No, they were ASL cards that explained how to sign the alphabet. He asked if I wanted to buy one for a dollar. I was eight (or nine) years old, sitting in a car in a parking lot. I didn't have any money. I explained this to him and he walked away. I felt his disappointment. I think I even saw it in the way he walked.

As he got closer to the mall... Another woman, another shopping cart, another attempt. She brushed him off as easily as the first woman had and pushed her cart to her oversized car.

And that's when I started to cry.

When I say "cry", that's exactly what I mean. These weren't eight (or nine) year-old sniffles. It was full fledged bawling. I felt this profound sadness that I had never experienced before. A complete stranger's misery (OK, Maybe I'm reading into a bit. Maybe he wasn't miserable) had triggered something and seeing the complete indifference that he had to confront on a regular basis was more than I could handle. It was the first time that I remember thinking "The world just isn't fair" and it opened up a strange door that, over the next 32 (or 31) years, has lead to that exact same emotional response whenever I am confronted with that particular feeling.

My mother came back a few minutes later. I was still crying. She looked worried... I still remember the look on her face as she asked me what was wrong. The problem then(and , yes... The problem now) is that I didn't have an answer. I couldn't explain these emotions. This "feeling". I still can't, most of the time.

I'm remembering this story and thinking about these things after having read Kelly Pentland (aka @mmesurly)'s wonderful (and much more concise) blog post On Sincerity http://mmesurly.tumblr.com/post/32324661060/on-sincerity.

It's hard sometimes. There are people (and I hope you are one of them) who just feel things so deeply and so completely that asking them to find what's wrong is next to impossible. When this happens to me, when I feel exposed... raw, even... it terrifies me. It terrifies me to see that we can be so close to people we don't know and to things we don't understand that an ASL card can trigger such a deep emotional response. It terrifies me, but as Mrs Pentland says: "the alternative is scarier."

So, as the strapping young men in Journey once said, "Be good to yourself".