Archive for past blast

Two thoughts on 2017

Contempt – even at its most hateful – is a form of *audacity* – and it can animate the creative imagination as truly as any other form.

That person over there doesn’t need to speak in order to beat you in an argument, only spit. You overvalue nuance and number in your vocabulary.

And one from 2015, apropos:

Liberals loathe the political Right’s hypocrisy and unfairness. Conservatives loathe the Left’s immorality and weakness. The groups’ estimations of their own qualities, though, are less precise.

The question of “hypocrisy” is particularly interesting. La Rochefoucauld noted that “hypocrisy is the respect vice pays to virtue.” One can’t be a hypocrite without recognizing that virtue – that morality – exists. This recognition it itself makes hypocrites superior (in their minds) even to decent, noble liberals who discount “morality” as dogmatic and unrealistic. Think of fundamentalist Christians who think that belief in Jesus is the sole criterion to enter heaven; one’s behaviour is beside the point. So, to the Right hypocrisy is a good thing, though they don’t say so.

Apropos

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As a young man, running was right up there with hitch-hiking as one of my favourite things to do. By the time I was in my mid-twenties several of my running partners could no longer run; their knees or feet or back had finally buckled; road-running’s no good on the joints. I knew that my time could be up in a day or a year or in ten years.

One day while visiting my parents in Fairport, NY, I went out for a long run down by the Erie Canal, then along some paths dividing farmers’ fields, then out to my old high school. It was a hot hot HOT; and no wind; it was *lovely*. Heading home on Ayrault Road I was running up a hill and felt the sun just burning the back of my calves; this elated me. I knew how lucky I was to be able to run. I knew that I had enjoyed every step of every run in my life.

Then I realized something. I saw into my future, to a time when I would no longer be able to run: I would have no regrets, because I had never taken my gift, such as it was, for granted. I had always thanked my lucky stars.

Sometimes I find myself running in my dreams – and when I do, I *know* that I am dreaming; I am having a lucid dream, and I can run anywhere I want. And *do* – having been given a gift from my younger self and from the magic of life.

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.

The purse

Many years ago I asked a Kwantlen Fashion Design student taking one of my classes to explain to me why women spend so much time selecting – and so much money purchasing – their purses.

She told me this: “A purse is a symbol of the female owner’s body.  There is the beautiful outside, and it is filled with all we need on the inside.”

Teaching is a blessing.

“Are you sure you didn’t upset him in some way?”

This morning I came upon an article quoting a right-wing American radio host who questioned whether a hate-crime against a gay person has ever in fact happened, even once. (I’m not providing the link.) When will this crap go away?

An apropos basil.CA re-post (with minor edits):

20 July 04:  I’ve been physically beaten up twice as an adult. Each time my attacker believed I was gay.  In Mountain View, California a number of years ago I was at a club with a female companion who looked particularly boyish that day in an old gray sweatshirt. A muscled guy told us to leave; I asked him why, and he became incensed:  He threw me across the room – I landed on a table, which broke to pieces. Then he leapt on top of me, and started punching. (My shoulder was dislocated.) The bouncer pulled the man off, then ordered my friend and I out of the club:  The entire place jeered us on our way out. 

It was bewildering, or it was until my friend said, “They think I’m a man.”

Late last Saturday night I was walking home to the West End from a friend’s place downtown when a car skidded to a stop right behind me.  A man leapt out of the backseat and kicked me in the face. On the ground I curled up into a ball and covered my head, which he continued to kick until a group of women came around the corner a few moments later. “Why are you doing this to me?” I asked him.  “You’re a faggot,” he said.

Generally I very much like Vancouver cops, but I must say that I was disappointed by the officer who showed up after one of the women called 911.  “Are you sure you didn’t upset him in some way?  Did you cross against the light, or give him the finger?”

1 August 04:  Thanks for your emails. I’m fine – the bruises are pretty much all gone.  At any rate, it was not too terrible of an event, more depressing than scary.  (I found out that I am not afraid of physical violence – sweet to learn that from the episode.) The attack wasn’t even the most important thing that happened to me that day, or that hour, in fact.  I was coming home from visiting my friend Violet – the Princess of Pigeon Park. She had scolded me for talking to somebody I wasn’t supposed to (much of our  conversation typically concerns how to behave properly in her neighborhood). I told her, “I am so, so stupid.”

“No, you are not.”

She had a bouquet of flowers — this is a woman who buys herself flowers – and she gave me one.

“I love you, Bob.” She had never told me that before. I was elated.

“I love you, Violet.”

It occurred to me only after I got home that (a) walking back to my neighborhood holding a long-stemmed flower might have made me a good target, and (b) after all the bloody commotion, I had forgotten to find my precious flower and bring it home (damn).  Violet looks as tough and beautiful as ever, but her voice is only a whisper these days. You can be sure I would not have been attacked had Violet been with me.

Since these posts were published, I’ve been assaulted twice. The motive was money, not hate.

It has been a few years since I’ve seen Violet. I don’t know where she is. I pray she is okay.

It never occurred to me, by the way, to protest to the crowd in the bar or to the second attacker that I was not gay. Which makes these memories happy, in a weird way. I know, though, that I was lucky not to have been badly injured or killed.

Elder blogger

In a few days basil.CA enters its fifteenth year. I’m very pleased. Here’s a post from its first year:

I’m pushing middle age, and only this morning did it dawn on me that the words “perturb” and “turbulence” must share an etymological root. Yet somehow I am allowed to send emails to friends and colleagues and even my clients unsupervised. (For those few who haven’t been clued in yet: Both words derive from the Latin turba, meaning confusion and such.)  I am looking for a way to redeem myself and think that nothing less than coining and popularizing a new word will do.  This is our new word:  PERTURBULENT, as in, “Your mother needs to switch to ginger ale, because she’s becoming pretty … perturbulent.”  The word turns into a nifty noun, too: “Perturbulence is your mother’s middle name.” – 19 May ’02

The neologism never caught on, alas, though basil.CA has, among an esteemed elite. Thank you, dear readers.

Radio Head

While putting together “Not Necessarily the New Age,” back in the late 1980s, I was able to indulge my long-time interest in American “fringe” micro-cultures and corresponded with zealous believers of all types, political and religious and scientific (pseudo- and otherwise). I also listened to a lot of out-there radio programs that you don’t get up here in Canada. I liked listening to them even if I didn’t sometimes like what I was hearing. They made for “interesting company.” I was even a fan of Rush Limbaugh early on, when his stirring stemwinders could pick me up no matter what they were about. (His rhetorical skills coarsened once Bill Clinton got elected, and I find Limbaugh unlistenable today.)

My favourite conspiracy theorist was Dave Emory, whose radio program “One Step Beyond” would mesmerize and baffle me to equal degrees as it wove together the Third Reich, Watergate, JFK’s assassination, bin Laden’s alleged connection with the Bush family, and the double-murder trial of OJ Simpson into a single tapestry of  … what, I am not sure … that went on and on. Although I travel in different circles these days, in terms of whom I read and what I listen to on the radio, to me it feels strangely great that a fellow like Emory, who regaled me back in the day, is still around.