Archive for November, 2016

Poetic aspersion

My friend Kat once described a guy this way: “He has a pickle shoved so far up his butt that it makes him hiccup dill.” That still cracks me up.


I expect that the person who gave the breakfast cereal that name received a nifty bonus. The one(s) who named Grape-Nuts, too, audacity being the root of beauty.


This is such a beautiful time of year in Vancouver, the golden lateral light in between the rainy times, the leaves lining sidewalks, Goths with hidden tattoos coming at you with boots more dangerous than axes, & swift fragrant winds reminding us to look high & look over & to feel great & teeny & essential in these moments.


Transgender Day of Remembrance


A beautiful photogallery published at to mark the day, by Jackie Dives and coproduced by my friend Jack Fox.

It’s 2016, and peeing while trans is still generally viewed as a political activity. If it’s happening in a public washroom, legislators want to know it, schools are trying to rebrand it, and at least one Alberta mom attempted to rap about it.

All of this never-ending debate can feel pretty fucking strange, considering trans people are just doing same things as everybody else in there. That there isn’t competing outrage over sounds, smells and soap availability is anybody’s guess.

It’s frankly no wonder trans activist Jack Fox has spent a decade scouting out every non-gendered toilet in his city. Even though Fox says he “reads” as male, the the fear of harassment in the “men’s room” still lingers. “I was so nervous to use a public washroom for fear of being attacked or verbally harassed, I would often wait all day until returning home to go,” he told VICE of his early transition days. “Some days I waited up to 16 hours, being strategic as to what I drank or ate so I did not need to use the toilet.”

Fox recently teamed up with Vancouver photographer Jackie Dives on a photo series that confronts those anxieties and the transphobia that causes them. It pairs photos of non-binary people having a chill time in public stalls with personal stories of dealing with assumptions and hate. To mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, we’ve publish a selection of them here.

The brief quotes beneath the photographs tell a long story.

Photo by Jackie Dives, all rights reserved

The hobo ethical code

This is beautiful. From Open Culture:

1. Decide your own life; don’t let another person run or rule you.

2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.

3. Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.

4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.

5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.

6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.

7. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as badly, if not worse than you.

8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.

9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.

10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.

11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.

12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.

13. Do not allow other hobos to molest children; expose all molesters to authorities…they are the worst garbage to infest any society.

14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.

15. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.

Reposted from

Looking Up


Downtown mindful.

“searching & not finding”

Sunday morning

I am enjoying a TV-free morning. While I am confident I could bear to watch the Sunday shows, I am just as confident that my blood would near 212 degrees. So, I have been reading the NYTimes obits and doing follow-up reading and listening. Leon Russell, RIP, what a genius! (And truly sweet that Elton John helped Russell get a hit album a few years ago – almost four decades after Russell took the then-whippersnapper on tour with him.)

And John D. Roberts, Professor of Organic Chemistry, who said bringing female post-grad student Dr. Dorothy Semenow with him from MIT to then all-male Caltech in 1953 was “clearly the best thing I have done at Caltech in the 60 years I have been here.”

Here is how the Cal Tech newsletter responded at the time:

This gallant action is not, however, an open invitation to the ladies. It applies only to “women of exceptional ability who give promise of great scientific contributions.” And, before she can enroll, a woman must get the approval of the academic division in which she intends to work, as well as that of the Committee on Graduate Study.’ With such hurdles as these, it is hardly likely that the campus will ever be swarming with female students. Most admissions of women, in fact, will probably involve the use of unique or outstanding research facilities here.

And this from the cinematographer Raoul Coutard obit:

“The Bride Wore Black” (1967) was Truffaut and Coutard’s last film together. “I had the ridiculous idea to quit smoking at the same time we were filming the movie,” Mr. Coutard told The Houston Chronicle. “I was very unbearable and very unpleasant, so we parted ways after that.”

I read that last week and it still cracks me up.

I love life.

Ellavon shined up


I started up Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture in 1998 so that I could work with writers and artists whose stuff I liked. My plan worked beautifully. Our writers included Kristi Coulter, Robin Plan, Julie Damerell, Kat Kosiancic, Jeanne d’Arc O’Day, Jonathan Mayhew, Joseph Conte, John Glionna, Steven Silbert, and Chris Basil. Our artists: Lincoln Clarkes, Marilyn Suriani, and John Sindelar. And our interview subjects: Diane Middlebrook and Paul Kurtz (beloved mentors of mine, both of whom have passed away).

This week with the great help of Robot Overlord Inc., we fixed some back-end code, made (minimal) updates – Ellavon stopped publishing in 2002 – and got Mr. Sindelar’s gallery up and running again. We have been careful to leave the black-on-brick design of the contributions intact — to help you remember what it was like at the turn of the century.


This feels strangely great

Full story here.

And God save us all, this Tuesday.

h/t MD


The day after the United States election, Barack Obama needs to pardon Chelsea Manning, who, after he attempted suicide in prison last summer, was put into solitary confinement as punishment for doing so. There, last month he tried again. Mercy.

Hence: Teaching Manners

In a blog post this morning called “A Raging Snowflake,” my good friend Clarissa writes:

Remember the Oppressed Tiffany, a very special snowflake whose “narrative was erased by the entire field of academia” when a hapless prof asked her to work on her writing?

The administration of her college is now going to humiliate the entire teaching faculty by forcing them to attend classes on microaggressions to appease the raging snowflake. Serves them right for not figuring out that their job is not to teach the snowflakes but to praise them slavishly and exuberantly without pause.

I normally tend to agree with Clarissa but need to part ways with her here. The unnamed professor apparently announced his/her suspicions – that the student had plagiarized an assignment – to the entire class. There is never a reason to humiliate a student that way, IMHO, even if you have proof of such wrongdoing, and there doesn’t seem to have been any in this case.

Below is a photograph of part of the assignment. The professor indicates that this student could not have used the word “hence.” I might have been offended by that remark, too!


I am not certain that this teacher was trying to “marginalize” a Latina student. The prof was, though, certainly being a real oaf and, in those moments, a terrible teacher.

And, too, who the heck doesn’t know the word “hence” – in an academic environment? I teach students from all over the world, and practically to a person the word “hence” is in their vocabulary, and if anything used too often.

By the way, you should read Clarissa’s blog every day. She is very prolific, opinionated, brilliant, and vivid. A joy.

h/t Clarissa