[fawny.org: Le «blog personnel» de Joe Clark]

Not a sleeve to be found anywhereHouse of a Thousand Regrets

Cherry Docs pass the taste test

International Dateline: Still undead!

Superfluous at the RRJ

Wheels are a dragAgreeing with Steven Champeon

My kind of slash fiction ¶ The original East End gangster

Webstandards have a posse

Ten years ago in boredom

Getting structural on your arse

Webstandards.TO: First meeting

Four seasons in one day

Pseuds corner


Not a sleeve to be found anywhere

One has done New York again. Speaking at New York Public Library, “taking” meetings, eating poorly.

I wanted to revisit the pole position in the Manhattan logger circuit, but with his new limerent object, the best I could get was attending the bachelor auction, something of a trend among homosexualist rugger teams. Activities are all well and good, of course, and arguably better than sitting around a table once again.

He didn’t want me to log it for some reason, but the event was listed on the Gotham site, and anyone could attend, so none of that. I sat through the latter two hours. I was dressed for the cold wintry weather of Wednesday night, yet was seated in a bar where fags wear sleeveless Ts twelve months a year. I knew, at best tangentially, one man in the bar, who humps up and down like a schoolgirl with excitement, of which he has an apparently large capacity. I flashed continuously on the former glories of my journalistic career: the gay-sports coverage which to this day fills me with pride. But I ended up linking three things:

(The dog part is off the rugby topic, but the feel contributed.)

We know we’re trying out new ways to be men. We’ve lived through iterations already. Here’s the latest beta: Strong, with controlled violence, supremely fit where at all possible, of a tribe built on sex that never forgets who or what can hurt.

House of a Thousand Regrets™

I am now pretty much buying the savagism that saunas are yesterday’s homosexualist cruising mechanism. They’re a bore in this town and an outright anachronism in the biggest gay metropolis. In fact, Manhattan has a mere four saunas (including one in Harlem!), half the complement of B-tier Toronto, where they’re an accepted minority taste. In New York, each “house of [a thousand] regrets” (™ BJ) has all the profile of underground flash-in-the-pan nightclubs with none of the cachet or gossip-column coverage.

So I went to the East Side Club, 227 East 56th St. It turns out to be an office building (shades of the St. Marc Spa) that also houses a suspicious, shadowy, and tacky heterosexualist bar, if the clingy, gaudily-dressed couples sharing the lift down to the parking garage are an indication. Getting into the joint is like visiting a medium-security penitentiary:

  1. Approach bulletproof glass.
  2. Ask for “change room” or locker.
  3. Show photo ID. You no longer have any chance of anonymous sexualism.
  4. Your name and birthdate are inscribed on a card, whose obverse you sign. You are now a temporary member.
  5. You are handed a long narrow safety deposit box, into which you may insert wallet and suchlike. But before that, the attendant has placed the key to the box in an envelope, time-stamped it, sealed it, and had you initial the seal.
  6. You are buzzed in. Another attendant calls you by name – here, twice: first I couldn’t believe he meant me – and escorts you (in this case) to the lockers. You need someone else’s help getting the key to work in the built-in lock.
  7. Now have fun, for fuck sakes!

As if.

The place is a dingy, outdated, ancient maze filled with dingy, outdated men. The whole concept of being in the closet in the 21st century in the cultural capital of the West is an absurdity. But that’s who we’ve got roaming the halls: Fatties, ancient married guys, and young black negroes of colour who really ought to have much less to hide. No klub kidz, nobody young, no alternative body types like bears (as distinct from fatties), nothing. Dregs!

I lasted 35 minutes. (And they re-timestamped the key envelope and had me re-initial it before opening it and unlocking my safety-deposit box.)

I should have done the Eagle. Every time I thought of going, it was 2130 hours and I was totally wiped, able to summon only the strength to channel-surf.

Curious fact: Lex around 56th was dark and deserted of a Saturday night. New York dark and deserted is disturbing and creepy. We come here for the teeming streets.


“Take the skinheads debating the origins and significance of white Doc laces. Take them debating the origins and significance of white Doc laces”

When another month passes in a skinhead’s life, what does he have to show for it? Probably thirty more hangovers and ten more hollering spells with mom as he sneaks out the basement to “hang” with his “m8s.”

For the rest of us, we have the Black Eagle. Spunk®: Pinheads & Skunks Night was held Friday, following the local deflowering of the homosexualist skinhead fetish subculture a month before.

After having (mom’s) minivan full of teenage boys call us fags on (inevitably) Queen St., something that almost never happens in this international exemplar of paranoid, cold, withdrawn forced multiculturalism (I yelled back “Thanks!” in high spirits), my esteemed colleague and I dragged our unshaven shoulders, undyed beards, and fully-decloseted personæ downtown.

The action started at street level with a dead-giveaway man up ahead. What’s he doing? “Next door!” I shouted in his direction, as if from the window of a minivan, after the short, solid lad in boots and upcurled jean cuffs stormed up the wrong set of stairs.

Inside, some old dear was chatting up some young dear. I couldn’t help but notice my hugely unfashionable jet-black shoelaces. The in crowd was universally decked out in white. (Also braces.) This was discussed with my esteemed colleague. Lesbian-style, a process was arrived at to chat up the lads to find out what the significance was.

The young thing buggered off just as we broke the ice, but the old dear thought we were marvelous. White, it turns out (and I was reminded once retold), used to signify National Front. (Memories of My Beautiful Laundrette. Can somebody tell me when a 40-year-old fag is gonna be smart enough to open up a lunch joint named My Beautiful Luncheonette? With particularly nice typography on a natural wood sign, it could do boffo.)

Now, though, the shoelace colour has been de-recontextualized everywhere in the civilised world, save for Germany, we would later be told...

...as we were dragged around the room being introduced. I was certainly getting mileage out of my genuine British military sweater and vegan cherry Docs, which have long since become schtick as far as my limited range of nightclub outfits goes. (Feel free to laugh.) One of the grandes dames of the homosexualist-skinhead demimonde (and he’s actually British, as they tend to be) gave the boots the ol’ taste test, coming up for air with the claim that they did seem vegetal.

The original old dear rather loved our gay banter, how smart we seemed, how we finished each other’s sentences (“like an old married couple,” my esteemed colleague inevitably diagnosed later). He hovered expectantly nearby as the British chap introduced us to whomever he knew, including the lad who had picked the wrong door. If you like ’em short and stocky and from a distant small town, he’s your man.

The organizer of the Night was met – the fella with the good idea to spam everyone on Worldskins. (He did it again for this outing, actually, causing my esteemed colleague to bleat twice that I never got a message about this!) I have not witnessed anyone hold court with quite such assurance. He had a crowd of hangers-on – purely by coincidence, they seemed to be the younger lads – at all times. One trio – a Mohawked stick insect; one of those tall strong bearish 25-year-old numbers with full goatee that are a dream come true for several specific types of men; the only Jew in the place – seemed to be having a whale of a time. (The Gentiles were, at least.) The bear, I learned, wasn’t biting.

Now, back to the young thing previously seen with our old dear, the boy with the white laces. (The white laces first spotted that night.) Fair-skinned and resplendent in black Fred Perry (or manqué) polo shirt, it turns out he was the one who got his back shoved to the wall and his nipple tongued last time. He was a skinhead we took kissing. (Lad with mohawk was the other. Somebody was drunk.)

He’s in tight with the organizer, walking around hand in hand like Rob Halford’s ducklings. He speaks with a high voice, answered my question about his age with “37,” and politely pretended not to notice my outright surprise. I offered a compliment and he took it. There’s a painting in an attic somewhere with a lot of grey hair (Nº 1 buzzcut) and wrinkles.

I later got his best friend’s phone number. Hockey-player legs that can crush babies’ skulls.

See you in May. “Oi,” as I believe they say.


New York is slow to chronicle

International Dateline,” my chronicle of a whirlwind January trip to New York, has been updated again. Three months later. So much later that I’m returning there next week.


RRJ: The kids are leaving me behind

I was never part of the journalism A-, B-, or C-list in Toronto. I was good enough to write for the Economist, for example, but never ever good enough for Toronto Life or Saturday Night.

I recently sent in my membership application to Negligée, I’m pushing 400 published articles, and (I did a count) over one thousand Web pages, plus I wrote a goddamned nonfiction book. You bet your fucking life I am a journalist.

I was a source for a journalist-in-training’s article for the Ryerson Review of Journalism, so I got an invite to tonight’s 20th-anniversary party, held at one of those dumpy third-rate hotels that dot downtown but are invisible and unknown.

I accepted the invitation with a melancholy avuncularism. I imagined feeling all honoured that the younguns would take me seriously and seek my counsel. What actually happened was I ate potato chips and left.

One detail came true: The room was full of younguns. I made conversation with my lass, and asked who was interesting. They’re all too young to have become interesting yet, she replied, and yea it was so. I chatted up the only person in a wheelchair in the room, who wanted me out of his sight good and fast, and the head of RyeHigh J-school, who, of course, had never ever heard of me. (Apparently my applications for teaching positions never made a dent.)

The horse was not hunting.

I was faced with the option of standing around at yet another party bearing a plate of chips and talking to no one until the humiliation breached the redline – or simply bailing early. Now and again, journalism hurts me. In fact, I frankly feel like crying.

My timing must have been right. On the way out, I passed Gerald Hannon on the way in.


Wheels are a drag

While busy procrastinating and also doing shitloads of work, I managed to forget the following diaristic segment.

The other week, still in the depths of actual winter as distinct from pre-springtime pestilence, I walked up to the library, as I will do. At the corner, from a distance, I saw what was obviously someone on a three-wheeled scooter wheelchair stuck in the snow. (You know how sometimes you get the whole story in a glance?)

I eventually got to the corner. Indeed: Mid-40s person of indeterminate gender (I eventually decided female) in a cheap scooter, a cheap jacket, and an ill-fitting bicycle helmet. With tremors. Obviously she falls a lot, or has at least once.

So I asked her if she was stuck. She mumbled something. I never quite understood more than a word or two for the rest of our odyssey. How so? I asked her a few times if she needed a push. (“Is that a yes?” Mumble. “Yes?”) The push got her three feet forward, at which point the chair went dead.

We tried every control. The SkiDoo-like thumbswitches on the handlebars. The key – not even a key, just a fob on the end of a patch-cord connector, rather like what Miss Ernestine would plug into a switchboard, or more likely pull out – was inserted and reinserted. We found a brake lever, essentially a parking brake, at the back, plus a reset switch. We went forward, we went backward. The motor would not run and the wheels were either stiff or, at times, locked.

We definitely are not young, rich, and full of sugar. What do we do now?

I try pushing her a bit more, but the snow is too deep, and the seat is on a pivot bearing, so I get her at an angle. We decide to cross the street. But we get stuck going to the curb, then the traffic’s too bad, so we have to double back, on the street, to the crosswalk.

Now we’re on the other side, sunnier, hence warmer, hence with less snow. Chair is still dead. The superswanky Eddie’s Food Basics bag hanging from her handlebars carries some books, and it is eventually made clear that we’re both going to the library. I ask her a few times (responses still incomprehensible) what she does when this happens. What would she do if I weren’t here? I make a deal to schlep her to the library and she can take it from there.

It’s two small blocks, a distance of one traffic light to another. We don’t get stuck, but I do play icebreaker three times. Thirty schoolchildren and three teachers walk by with Isaac Asimov levels of ignoring our arses. Two able-bodied men pass us in the other direction. No words exchanged, no questions, no offer to help. What is this, the Third World, where some guy pushing a woman in a broken-down chair in the dead of winter actually is something you see every day?

I have to stop a few times. I am, after all, out of shape. In the home stretch, I decide to disclose: I actually work in the disability field, I tell her. I wrote a book about Web accessibility. But I’ve never had to push someone in a chair before.

Not even a mumble. (I like what I do, but it has consistently underwhelmed civilians for twenty years.)

We do the double 90° turn at the corner and, lo and behold, the library actually has its damned automatic door turned on today. (In winter, “it’s too drafty.”) I push her in, dropping a glove (“Boy, is this ever a story,” I tell the dour librarian who hands it to me) and explain what happened. Is there anyone we should call? the head librarian asks. Mumble mumble mumble. I am suddenly and magically able to understand that she wants the librarian to check her record and call the number there.

The librarian hands the woman a Kleenex. Cerebral palsy inhibits wiping one’s nose.

The librarian asks: Anything else I can help you with, Joe? I wonder how she knows my name. (It comes up every time I borrow a book, of course.) No. No, I say, I guess I’m done. Time to get on with my life.

I read the Consumer Reports and its reliably bitchy automotive reviews and head on home. Down the street, what do I see but the same woman in the same chair which is, by God, now working fine?

But we’re not done yet: A teenage boy crosses the street and passes her. She stops him, and they seem to be having a conversation rather like my first with her, except he’s fiddling inside her bag. Moments later, he walks away and she drives off – in the same direction, at different speeds.

Moral of the story? I like to pretend that being crippled is a minor and surmountable human difference, but in fact a lot of the time it is a total drag.

My oft-namedropped friend Jeff, the sexy red-haired wheelchair racer boy and previous holder of world, Paralympic, and indeed Olympic records, can be stuck in his house for days at a time by a simple snowstorm. (He can’t get to the truck. The truck can’t get out of the driveway.) And my friend Greg, I am permitted to state, is, quite simply, fucked up by the constellation of illnesses that made him blind.

I have frankly found it sobering.

How to concur with Steven Champeon

The easiest way is to read his interview.

The site is on hiatus now because, quite frankly, I felt oppressed by the format. I just got sick of thinking of things to blog and not doing it because I didn’t want to fill the site with still more random garbage.

I’m not Rebecca Blood; I cannot log every day. I give you what I can.


Guy Ritchie, come on down!

“Even though he may look like an East End gangster,” writes Jamie Pittock, “Joe Clark is the man to talk to about building accessible Web sites.” And, as Jamie intelligently points out, Made for All did just that. (Word to the wise: Ian Lloyd comes from a nation with counties and municipalities that twist the tongue, but somehow believes I am “Brunswick-based.” Not hardly! I escaped just in time.)

As for my claimed gangsterism, don’t let the angioma on the forehead steer you wrong. But that designation – it’s romantic as hell! Now that you mention it, I want to star in my own Jake Arnott novel, neither of which I was able to finish, what with the gore.

My kind of slash fiction

Terminus travels back to the future, and Patience worries that her repute will suffer should she be seen in the company of two men. Straight outta Usenet, it’s Terminate with Extreme Prejudice. (I copy-edited it and made a printable version.)


Webstandards.TO: Pestilential!

It is trite to complain about the weather, and also trite to complain about complaining about it, but I’m pushing 40 and from the Maritimes and I have never ever seen weather like this. Not merely snow in April, but snow that feels granular like dry cream of wheat underfoot, but also develops an ice crust you cannot bust no matter how hard you kick it. (The parkette around the corner was stippled glossy like a shellacked slab of polyethylene.) And cold.

The weather last week was pestilential.

Still, I trudged on down to the wrong neighbourhood and found an expectant Tara Cleveland in full-on blind-date mode. “You here for Web standards?” I asked casually, brandishing my double espresso. We sat and I admired her pre-Cambrian Sony Mavica digicam, with its adorable floppy drive and LCD with a prism on top to admit natural backlighting in daytime.

Craig Saila showed, as did James Eberhardt, formerly of Extend, which I mercilessly razzed him for. (Scoutie! Fetch the stock options!) Luke and our mutual friend Suzanne breezed lovingly in. Rudy Limeback wore a mere T-shirt and down jacket; I bummed a subway ticket from him.

(The Suction Cup had removed their WiFi, but in its previous life, they dared to charge $10 an hour for it and require you to use a certain disc. WiFi with a meter is a non-starter: It’s not a metered service to begin with, and there is no marginal cost for each user.)

We spoke very little of Web standards, or of Web programming. It is faintly alien to discuss mailing-list postings in person in real time. I wonder if the only practicable way to run a strictly-Web-standards-focused club is to hold presentations and monthly topic-specific meetings, rather like TUPA.

Rudy grilled me on our purpose, assuming the group, to the extent it exists at all, does so in order to convert Windows nonbelievers to Web standards. We’re preaching to the converted, and my expectations are low: We exist to achieve nonfailure. On this, our maiden voyage, we sat around and chitchatted, which I can do all night, but which might not be to everyone’s taste.

Nine o’clock arrived, we adjourned, and we trudged through the cream of wheat. I said my goodbyes and enjoyed an extra-special near-hour-long odyssey to cross town in a straight line. I now fully support the replacement of streetcars, an entire line of which can be neutralized by a car parked six inches too close to centreline, with articulated low-floor electric buses, which can be painted the same jolly colours if that’s a dealbreaker for you.

We try again next month. I love my posse dearly, but I cannot yet justify anteing up a hundred bucks American for a domain name. I’ll put a page up here later.


Ten years ago in boredom

For this month’s recap, I picked the most boring issue of Spy in its entire history: The superspecial Washington special issue. Come with us as we ask the question “What bike did Malcolm Forbes ride?” through our voyage Ten Years Ago in Spy.

Getting structural on your arse

fawny.blog is now organized in a vaguely competent manner, though still maintained by hand.

I also engage in a couple of other structural niceties, like using map to enclose navigational elements, and offering an enormous range of link header elements that are visible in pretty much every browser that does not include the word “Explorer” in its name.

Still single-column. Why not? What’s in it for me otherwise? Or for you?

Webstandards.TO first meeting on Thursday

I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let those pishers in Montreal show us up with their gigantic 22-person coffee meetings to discuss standards-compliant Web development (and to gossip like schoolgirls).

I am therefore going out on a limb and starting another club. Let’s track its lifespan. At any rate:

What’ll we do? Talk and laugh and sing chanties and roast vegan marshmallows by the fire, and figure out if we want to do it all over again in May.

Four seasons in one day

Outright diarism comes to fawny.blog. I warned you about structure.

Awaken. Stand up and notice I am being snowed on. Scant tiny charming snowflakelets are making their way through the skylight. As I crank it shut, it occurs to me that I can leave the skylight open all winter if I want.
I look out the front window. It’s winter all over again, with snow lining lawns and sidewalks and slush all over the roads. “April Fool,” I say to myself, realizing such a remark is a TV-calibre punchline. ¶ “Sometimes It Snows in April.”
Check out a strawberry-blond “stud pup” (our dear American friends and their locutions). Suddenly and thoroughly relaxed, I go back to bed.
I regain enough consciousness to realize I am in a state of relaxation that could keep me asleep all day, but non-restoratively. I get up and douche.
I have desultorily picked at work here and there. I check downstairs for any signs of the UPS man. Nouveaux Riders had shipped me five books to inscribe as prizes in the WthRemix contest, but used the wrong apartment number. UPS rang me on Friday, corrected the label (allegedly), and dutifully delivered the box to the wrong apartment on Monday.
I accept that I must laboriously plug the 18-character alphanumeric UPS tracking code into the Web tracking form. (Without knowing the system of check digits used, which always reduces the number of permutations, I can say these tracking codes are sufficient to individually identify 4.56976 × 1021 packages, or 761,626,666,667 for each of the earth’s six billion people.) Surprise: The results say an attempted delivery had been made minutes before.
I phone the UPS call centre in New Brunswick. The chick repeatedly claims my voice is dropping out on our all-digital connection. I rather forcefully assert that UPS has screwed up twice, and that they must be using a new driver, because two of the regulars know me personally (and one is blond). We also determine that Nouveaux Riders had sent two packages, only one of whose addresses was corrected. Anyone cluing in here?
I need an espresso. I take the eetcarstray through the slush to the Beach, read the paper, deem it gratuitous to use the shiny new PowerBook there. Conditions are exactly like two months ago.
I type for an hour in the library, chipping away at Ten Years Ago in Spy.
I check instant messages and decide I need a nap.
Reasonably refreshed, I note that the sun is breaking through cloud, temperatures are above zero, and no evidence remains of the morning’s snow accumulation. How is this possible?
The door buzzes. Why, it’s UPS. “I got the message,” says the complete sweetie of a driver. You must be new on this run, I say. Yeah, I’m here just for today. (So what happened yesterday?) He admits he should have noticed the different addresses. I note it would be cheaper for UPS to equip drivers with cellphones to call the recipient (in essence, to ask “Are you there?”). Yeah, it would be lots cheaper, he says, especially since at this hour they’re paying me time and a half. I’m satisfied, though. They fixed the problem.
Talk to friends on the phone. Don’t get a lot done, and am weirdly exhausted. I used to be able to talk girlishly on the phone for hours, lying on my stomach, propped on my elbows with ankles crossed in the air, slipper dangling off one toe. I must be getting old, or simply more male.
Jeff tries to bait me to ask him about wheeling faster than a current world record and appearing on some confessional television program. I remind him that I attend leather bars and read GeekSlut, and consider sexualism-related television programs a crashing bore.
Locate unexpected friends on the instant messaging. Though impossibly tired and delirious, I enjoy slow-motion typing until my eyes cross.
Decide the day has ended better than it began.


Pseuds Corner

Gems from the “Pseuds Corner” column in Private Eye. In this case, it’s “Pseuds Corner: Corporate.”

You enjoy fawny.blog

fawny.blog is sibling to four other Joe Clark Weblogs (AccessiBlog, Axxlog, Bookblog, NUblog).   ¶   New file additions to all sites have their own page.   ¶   You may mail me.   ¶   Archives are available, or one may search:

My sites do not render properly in Netscape 4.

You were here: fawny.orgfawny.blog2003 → April