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“You can’t do 40 uphill”
– Cabdriver displaying (surely uncharacteristic) impatience behind me in left-turn lane
Pas de merde, Sherlock. I can barely do 50 klicks in top gear down Mt. Pleasant. (In wintertime.)
“We’ll be stuck with browser incompatibilities for the rest of our lives. Twenty years from now, when they publish our obituaries, they’ll do it in four versions”
– Me, spontaneously
See Irish sailor update below.
I’ve added a new section, Situationist Histories, an ongoing diaristic writing project that reverses the usual structure of memoir. Instead of tracing my life and what happened in it, I trace a few things that happened, over and over again, and describe how they influenced my life.
We’ll see how this memoirist approach works. You may find it applies to your own life, too.
I subdivide the archives next weekend, for convenience. Database delivery still lies in the distance.
Saturday night, I went downtown to the disco Dominion on Front St. At Queen and Sherbourne, I immediately noticed a cyclist wearing a helmet and a safety vest (if not a Safe-T Vest) waiting ahead. He pinged out at me. Something was at work. (Not a first impression, shurely?!)
I reached the corner. I liked his profile. I kept on my way. Then he pulled out a too-large map from a pocket. Remembering a National Socialist article that attempted to gauge Canadian niceness by standing on streetcorners pretending to be lost, I spoke up immediately:
– Where you trying to get to?
– A bar called Jeremiah Bullfrog’s.
What’s with the accent?
– "Was a good friend of mine"?
– "Never understood a single thing he said." Where is it?
– Queen and... Richmond? he said unsurely.
– Queen and Richmond are parallel. You’re on Queen. And Richmond runs one-way west right down there.
I pointed to the quite-visible streetsign.
– Or maybe it’s at John, he said, pronouncing "John" so far back as to sound like another language.
– "John"? I said, using the same pronunciation. I wonder where you’re from.
Significant pause. The rear straps of his helmet are loose, and he’s wearing sandals. Very nice feet. Fair skin, dark hair, eyes, brows. Black Irish look.
– John St. is no more than half a mile that way. Just turn left and turn down that street there.
– Where are you from?
– What the hell are you doing here?
– I’m on a navy boat? docked down at Queen’s Quay? he replied in a conversational way I chalked up to being American and young.
– Where’d the bike come from?
– The ship.
We then had a discusion of how some sailors entirely shut down their onshore lives when they go on a voyage. Not him: He doesn’t own much, and there’s enough room on the ship for his bike.
Two lights change. I miss my own light, actually.
– Well, you’re not gonna get there if you keep missing your lights.
– It’s OK, he said, looking straight ahead. I was behind him at this point.
Another light turns green. He decides to ride down that sidewalk and then along Richmond.
So I kept asking myself: What was going on here? He definitely scoped me out, within the first five seconds. Sailors are more attuned to homosexualism than we give them credit for. (“Rum, sodomy, and the lash,” remember?) But I got no impulses whatsoever from him – except at the very beginning.
Would it be too facile to wonder if he was hoping I’d keep up the conversation... for some reason?
UPDATE (26): When will I ever learn? Four years ago, on a dreary winter day, I rounded the corner down Church heading eastbound on Bloor. A handsome, compact man was on a bike ahead of me. Full head of hair, good nose. I was in my (equally) drab green Gore-Tex jacket, and the bike was in full-on blackout mode, with black paint and handlebars, hockey tape over entire frame, fenders, and toeclip covers (and tires). I guess I was noticeable.
He looks back. He looks at me. He thinks of something to say. The something is “What kind of bike is that?” I give him a one-sentence answer with an unintended fuck-off tone. He says something else, and I give him a one-word answer. But he’s still looking at me.
The light turns green. I see it, but he didn’t. I get something resembling the feeling of diabolic possession I underwent for five seconds when I was a schoolgirl. My brother was removing a root from a hydroponic gel solution, found in one of those 1970s science kits. Just at that moment, some impulse made me sit on the bed with a big PLOP. My brother snapped the root in two. Whadja have to do that for? he demanded. I didn’t do it. The devil did.
At the streetlight, I tell myself the worst possible thing to say would be “Light’s green.” So I say it.
The tightly-packed, lovable man, discernible as such at first sight, cycled away. A very strong cyclist, with, I saw now, huge calves, and a pant cuff tucked into his grey work sock.
I see a Situationist History coming up here: Boys throw love. I throw shade. The devil made me do it.
I’ve written so much about first impressions and love at first sight today that I’ve offloaded it to a separate page. Opens in new window whether you bloody like it or not.
Patience is supposed to come naturally. Your heartbeat teaches you patience. This beat is preceded and followed by its clones. Your heartbeat waits and works patiently until one day it doesn’t. It is patient for the day that something big happens. If patient long enough, a heart eventually meets its maker.
When does that day come, and what is the something?
If there’s a someone you’re being patient for, or with, at what point does Xeno’s paradox come into play and you figure enough time has passed you by? Do you feel foolish for waiting so long?
Does your impatience, a fiery, passionate impulse that seems more like life than the alternative, battle with received wisdom and genteel guilt? Do you tell your heart to keep beating? Or do you just ask it to keep beating when it decides to show you who’s boss?
The adrenal impulses, the raw emotions, the reflexes (the flight-or-fight) – aren’t they reality? Aren’t they the blue-collar workers keeping your world safe and comfortable, appropriate for a quiet night at home reading in the big chair?
You have to calm yourself down. The monologue is religious in nature. Bide your time and it’ll happen, whatever the it is and however long the time might be. Meanwhile, your real corporeal self, in real time, really and right now, wants to live. It’s ready to go. It’s ready when you are. And you are ready. You’re just talking yourself out of it.
His schedule isn’t your schedule. If he’s not so comfortable being skittish, walking through bars with a handy Rejection Checklist in the back of his mind if not the back pocket of his blue jeans, he’s still getting over a ten-year-old trauma, which at least he’s pouring into his work in a lively way instead of listening to the beat of his heart as a metronome that indicates years of suffering passed through in two-second intervals. He’s so smart and articulate and caustic and aggressive that he can’t believe his luck in meeting someone who bests him on all scales (it’s exciting; it causes the heart to race, until checked by the Checklist). Or he’s smart and articulate and caustic and much more vulnerable to drive-by chipping and denting of his feelings than might be foreseen. He works too much, or he gets stoned and drunk too much. He’s family-oriented, living with his sister and hosting his younger, tough-guy brother all the time, or lives with his ex and knows everyone in town, so many people he books you into his calendar weeks in advance.
So the rational and the pre-rational duke it out, the latter shooting you up and the former talking you down. Supposedly it’s not a you/they thing. They’re all part of you. They’re all you, in the metonymic sense, to use a word only the part of you that’s much more remote and post-facto, and less centrally you, would select. Even with identical twins, one was born first. The first thing we do when we’re born is cry. We don’t hold it in till just the right moment.
One of the hemispheres – a discredited theory, but it satisfies that lobe nonetheless, another of its faith-like reassuring fictions – says it’s a simple task of waiting for the love to bubble up. It’s bubbling away. Possibly away as in to oblivion, or possibly just there, constantly, like a heartbeat. One of the three vessels has run dry, presumably. You lost patience and tipped it over. Not yours, it. The memory still causes a wee whimper, since the other hemisphere never forgets. It’s oddly patient in that way, actually. Its wounds are real, and time doesn’t heal them, a fact of which it has to remind you from time to time with a quick stab. Other people, it’s crying jags, or getting too stoned or drunk all the time.
Wait for the love. You have a lot of it already. As a disease, it’s readily diagnosed. The first giveaway is a cat; other biggies are smarts, causticness, and aggressiveness. Tussling with impatience is an imbalance, like the imbalance between you and him. Not that there’s much of an imbalance, actually. You have greater time on your hands, so you think of it more, but when he thinks, it hits him just as hard. It’s the converse of hurting his feelings, which he wore briefly on his crusty old face, which took weeks to recognize and postprocess. He’s just not quite as good at hiding and preprocessing the love stuff.
You’re back at square one. The exercise was an exercise in patience. The rational won, for now.
Maybe I can still write after all. I spontaneously typed this out on the Webdesign-L, in response to the first graf:
Another one that he can show, is what is being done with "personal models" for the clothing industry. LandsEnd.com uses it – go to the bottom of their home page into the interactive tools area to access it.
The underlying technology is by Public Technologies Multimedia of Montreal. They would be happy, I’m sure, to package a demo for the client in question. I am aware that PTM has more than one competitor. I chatted one up here in town just the other week, but cannot remember any details. And who bought
boo.com’s spinning-Ananova-in-fuck-me-pumps technology, again?
I wish to hell it weren’t on at midnight Sunday, but Sound:Escape takes the lead over EBM (which I’ll talk about some other time) in educating me about possible musics, to employ the brianenoism.
As described elsewhere, the show features the silky voice of Kresh and his more pedestrian cohort Robbie (who sounds like a buzzsaw cutting galvanized tin by comparison) spinning ambient music. (Or, in many cases, hosting live performances, on instruments or turntables, by in-studio musicians and DJs.) What’s surprising, still, after months of rapt listening, are the turns so-called ambient music can take. Like meeting a black albino, it’s initially jarring to hear electric guitar and percussion in a genre that’s supposed to be floaty and ethereal.
Relentlessly plugged on Sound:Escape is the Ambient Ping, the Tuesday-night party held at some nightclub in the fetid rubbish tip known as Kensington Market ("K mart" to habitués and scenesters). In an apparent concession to Toronto work habits and in acknowledgement that ambient types are not rockes or ravers, the show starts early, and it is not considered bad form to show up earlier than your friends would otherwise be tuning in to The West Wing.
I sashayed in before 10:00 and decided to splurge on a drink. You got tomato juice? I asked the bartender, a would-be alternative type. Yes. What can you do to jazz it up that isn’t alcoholic? We decided on a Virgin Mary (or Virgin Moe, as I was calling it), a combination of lighter fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and acetone that makes sucking a lemon (or downing a glass of turnip juice) seem as refreshing as an Evian advertisement. ("Gay Beer," anyone?)
I tried mightily to finish it. Verily I did, but I get enough actual sore throats to take all the fun out of simulating the experience with a mixed drink. The Virgin Moe was, however, a useful prop as I surveilled the stage in the small, longish room, whose walls were inlaid with black rhombi and festooned with beer posters and graft. "Are you Kresh?" I asked someone. No. Kresh is over there, he said, taking his eyes away from a slide-holder. We chatted for a second. Those guys are making the music, and we’re doing the visuals. Visuals? I replied. They’re so amorphous I didn’t even notice them. I think you need a screen, I said, as the chick alongside him switched slides, which were dutifully projected onto the white T-shirts onstage. The man nodded as if to say "They are the screen."
The German-born Kresh is tall and geeky, and, while not as luscious to look at as he is to listen to (drat!), has a certain kottkësque charisma. The stage was actually jam-packed, or packed for jamming, with four full bodies shuffling and hunting for records, twiddling knobs, and – again unexpectedly – working hard to crank out music that’s supposed to sound effortless, algorithmic, and self-generated.
The drums at one point were an eye-opener. I likened them to tough love, like Carlo in Earthly Powers hiking up his vestments, in a womanly way, to more easily kick a demon in the nuts.
A small crowd, 30 at the most, sat in groups. A frat-boy type seemed a bit stoned. A Giovanni Ribisi manqué with Suburbia-era pointy hair smoked a fag, the better to become ever thinner. You had your weird hippie types, too, who looked like they had a hard time fitting in at other concerts and unrelated gatherings of carbon-based lifeforms. I signed up for the Ambient Ping mailing list. Who knows?
More on Kresh: I happened to be off the modem one night when the show was on, and was fully awake, and the planets were otherwise aligned, so I rang up the Man and had a chat. I brought him up to speed on the memorable Toolbox experience, where, after an almost-magical evening at the leather bar, the crusty DJ actually played Kresh and Robbie after midnight. (A matter/antimatter combination, shurely?! – ambient music and trolling bears?)
I did the standard gushy-teenage-fan-girl thing: I talked about the first thing any old ignoramus would mention about ambient music, an idée fixe known as "Little Fluffy Clouds." I had enough wits about me to set it up in a very meta way ("People who don’t know anything about ambient music will invariably mention ’Little Fluffy Clouds,’ so that’s what I’m doing").
And by incredible coïncidence, the next song cued up for play on Kresh’s show that night was... "Little Fluffy Clouds."
As a pedantic, proto-trainspotting nitpicker of a girl, I always noticed different headlamp and taillamp configurations on stablemate vehicles, like Camaros and Trans Ams or Mustangs and Cougars. Riding to work the other day, in the bright morning sun, I leapfrogged an Olds Alero for several blocks. The rays of light bouncing sideways off the surprisingly complex Fresnel lenses of the Alero’s taillights created brilliant daytime jewels, a kind of found art that, like Stonehenge, works only under the right planetary alignments.
Alero taillamps are enormous and multicoloured. (It’s legally permissible for a taillamp to be entirely red. Some still are. A backup indicator can be a single light, and nothing says it has to be included with the other lamps. Turn signals don’t have to be amber.) Someone in the design team at Olds loved them. And now I do, too.
Confirming my impressions, and causing a sort of Redhead Cluster Phenomenon manqué (Cf. the Alfa Romeo Cluster Phenomenon), on the ride home I spotted another Alero. The sun wasn’t beaming down from the right position, but the complexity of the taillamp design was still manifest.
(Alero pictures and QuickTime VR.)
.sig of the week:
"Kenamea: We’re not underpants.com"
Miniquipette from Miss Carl Strygg that sums up how fags look and sound these days: See Tarzan, hear Jane.
Indeed, you can always differentiate a musculature produced by lifting weights from one produced by playing sports and lifting weights. The more overt signs are:
Moreover, what the muscle fags are missing are the little tendons and minor muscles connecting, say, pectorals and deltoids; hip flexors and (admittedly a difficult group) dorsiflexors alongside the shin; and the neck, which vies with forearms for the title of Most Astoundingly Erotic Muscle Group.
Straight guys who grew up swimming, riding bikes, playing football and basketball, and weight-training have these features. Admittedly, they lack fashion sense and are unable to quickly sketch a particularly beautiful flower arrangement, but who is really better off?
("Which is more gay, crying in public or sketching in public?")
I’m thrilled to see that Tarsem is directing an actual movie, one that stars the impressive Vincent D’Onofrio. The Indian director, famed for one of the grandest films of 1990s cinema, "Losing My Religion," directed some kind of murder mystery called The Cell. I hope the story and script are up to snuff. I expect to be disappointed.
I felt the same way about Michel Gondry and The Green Hornet, a tediously unoriginal remake that would cheapen Gondry’s pan-galactic gifts. To my relief, that "project" has apparently been "ankled," and Gondry is now directing a script by Charlie Kaufman, whom you will know from another film bearing the word "Malkovich" in the title.
I was quite thrilled to bump into James St. Bass again on Saturday night. He is of course the man who triggered the naming of this site. Forget James and the Giant Peach. Think James and the Fawny Eyelashes.
The problem, of course, is that I mean less than nothing to him. I walk out of the Black Eagle and down to the Barn, a bar I don’t like at all and visit maybe twice a year. Boom: The man walks by, with his friend. They duck down a sidestreet. I stand there stupefied watching them fade into the event horizon.
Much later, chatting with an homosexualist police officer I know (only about three are out of the closet in all of Toronto), the man walks in. I take a deep breath and chat him up.
– Hi, James. My name’s Joe. I chatted with your friend Carl at the Black Eagle last winter.
He nods halfway through. He knows me.
– Ah. You redhead DJs and your photographic memory. You still playing at Lava?
He shakes his head.
– Oh. Because I was planning on putting together social nights for computer geeks to get them the fuck away from their computers and out meeting real people –
– It’ll never happen.
– It already is, but I can do it better.
– Nah, [DJing] is just a hobby at this point.
They’re both drunk. His very young and not-entirely-uncute friend – is he Ken the indie-rock d00d from the Toolbox? – seems to be enjoying the conversation more than James is, and I say so.
– Are you on E-mail?
Yup. On Hatemail. I have since dropped him a line. I’m sure he thinks I’m a right real stalker.
Up close, James is a very substantial man, and gives off a lot of heat. Big tattoo on the big calf.
Prefered Bad Religion song of the week is "Television": "I’d take after my mother, but she’s from a different generation. I prefer my big brother. He’s so gentle and understanding, and I learn what I can from him by the television light so that when I’m all alone I know everything’s gonna be all right." Unfortunately, the gruff, masculinist punk-rock d00d does not actually say "I take after my mother, though she’s from a different generation," as originally misheard.
My Walkperson decided to degauss itself and play tapes again. I rediscovered Yello’s Essential. Few of us know what to make of Yello, the Swiss-playboy duo who embody the phrase "out of left field." Too whimsical for techno purists, too straight for Pet Shop Boys acolytes, betraying insufficient craft for Cabaret Voltaire snobs, and simply not danceable enough, Yello are an acquired taste.
A taste I actually have.
The most romantic synthesizer ballad since Walter became Wendy and McDowell put the boot in the groin, "Drive/Driven" brought the hairs of the forearm to attention with its inexplicableness and otherworldliness. As the song plays, I envision a dance music video featuring two grown men, specifically Scott Bakula and Anthony Edwards. I would be spilling too many beans to explain why.
One also unearthed an old compilation tape I made of R.E.M. selections, HaR.E.M. ScaR.E.M. It all came flooding back. The rapturousness and singularity of the band. The apt homoeroticism of Mahurin’s video for "Orange Crush." R.E.M. deserve their fame.
I proposed a new project to the band three years ago and destroyed myself in subsequent negotiations. It heads the list of most shameful calamities of my life, and it’s all my fault. I still can’t get the rep to forgive me. I hope someday he will.