Thursday, November 27, 2008

2008 Vancouver Toy Run



This is the Annual Vancouver Toy Run! Every year motorcyclists all over the world have 'toy run's' to give kids in hospitals toys at Christmas. Those are toys on the back of the bikes. It was awesome to be apart of something so good. Riding my Harley in that staggered line that weaved through Vancouver with the police themselves out on their bikes, it was a really fine feeling. I'd been part of the Ride for Dad earlier in the year which raised money for prostate cancer research. That run started from Trev Deely Harley Dealership on Boundary with an opening prayer from the minister of the Westcoast Biker Church.
All over the country non biker but similiar events are done for some charity. Walkers, runners, dart throwers, car washers, whatever. Doing something for charity raises a mundane individual and secular activity to a community and spiritual plane.
I remember organizing a caroling group for the children's hospital as a teen ager and how much fun we had singing badly door to door knowing we were raising money for these sick kids.
This summer I liked seeing the Kiwanis making breakfasts for a group of drunks on Salt Spring Island. I've seen the Mason's cars getting people to the hospital whereas the Shriners are forever setting up burn units as their charity. All those community clubs listed along with the churches on a sign outside of towns do a lot of good. Either Kiwanis or Rotary donated the first incubator at the country hospital where I first delivered babies.
Last Sunday I was at a couple of churches where each were engaged in feeding the homeless, all aspects of the weekly 'food kitchen' done by church volunteers.
I just thought tonight of how much is done in the name of charity and just how many volunteer and extracurricular events are going on all around us. This is the real glue of society. It's hard not to notice a charity biker run. We're as loud and proud as the annual Gay Pride parade, itself a charity event, but in our own biker way. But there's quilters out there and quiet people doing things for the troops overseas. It's the Christmas season but this charity goes on all year and it's really what makes people more than the sum of their parts. Mostly it feels good. I'm proud to be human just thinking about the good things people do for others.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Country Song














Riding for You


G A7 D G


Black hats and white hats, cowboys and Indians


G A7 D


It was all so clear to me when I was young




G A7 D G

Now it's black bras and white bras, bad girls and good girls


G A7 D

And I don't know whose the fastest draw




A


I'm riding down this canyon looking for another ambush


G D


Cause my horse is kind of spooked




A


And there's a posse coming after me cause the sheriff in the last town


G D


Isn't happy less he's got a cowboy on a noose




G A7 D G


Countries and memories, bugles blowing revelry


G A7 D


I can't recall my mind at peace




G A7 D G


Since I first met you in the desert garden of eternity


G A7 D


And you made your promise to me



G A7 D
And you made your promise to me

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Library, Music and Deer

videoThe Central Vancouver Library is a wonderful place.

Researching a book on Sexuality I was able to access the Janus Report on Sexual Behaviour and read,not wholly to my astonishment, "Age and aging are a spectre for Americans....our greatest fear connected to increased aging is fear of dimished sex."

I was equally interested in Bert Archer's, The End of Gay (and the death of heterosexuality). He considered Gay as a phase like feminism on the way to a more liberal but different view of sex, sexuality, gender and identity per se. Jeffrey Weeks, Invented Moralities: Sexual Values in an Age of Uncertainty was somewhat less engaging though came to similiar conclusions. Bert had included some stories from his own sexual experience. This made Bert a 'wetter' read to Jeffrey's 'drier' text.

Lieberman, a New York sociologist describing the traditional "functions" of the family said that as an institution it was so 'weakened' that its very survival was in doubt.

Alot of Essentialist versus Social Constructionist debate underlay the various books I perused. One book, Beyond Queer, argued for conservatism and that sex might well become a non issue in how we view the neighbours.

My eighty year old Baptist aunt in a whisper, though no one else was present, told me after we'd talked with a couple of nearly as old men, 'they're a bit light, you know , but they're very good neighbours."

All the sexologist reports do say there's far more going on than meets the eye. Frankly that's probably good for straights as well given the American penchant for couch and calories. Maybe with the aging population we should all go back into the Victorian closet if it hasn't been outsourced.

I wrote my friend in Scotland about the goings on over here and she wrote back, 'there's all manner of men wearing skirts over here too." She's praying for a flat in Edinborough. I saw my first Scottish tattoo there.

In the midst of these studies my boat surveyor, Tim McGivney recommended I not use my mast until repairs have been made to it. I'm praying that isn't synchronicity at work.

August Rush, the charming movie I just watched on TV caught my attention because of the inspiring music and Robin Williams. He's really just one of the gang with the real leads, being three children. It's one of those beyond colour movies with black people and white people naturally mixed throughout as if they all belonged there and weren't just a product of some quota system. Perhaps that's what we can expect with regard to sexuality one day. The story is about a child protege lost to his musician parents and found again through music. "The music is all around us, you just have to listen," the boy says. The family, despite Leiberman, still functions spiritually and the movie is uplifting.

Like this picture I took of two deer last summer. The beauty is all around us, you just have to see.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Suicide

When I saw this old car I was reminded of the car my roommate bought when we were just out of high school forming a band. We had one great run to Winnipeg Beach with the girls and the picnic basket. The car died that first day on the return trip and lay an empty husk by the side of the road, the cost of towing it home more than it was worth.

Seeing this old car there in the field I thought that a lot of memories had ridden it. Many men measure their lives through vehicles as women so commonly remembered theirs through children.

Tim Curtis from Joy Division suicided at age 23. I watched the movie his wife Deborah made only because the band's name had come up in Peter Robinson's , "The Summer that Never Was", the "Inspector Banks" novel I've been reading since my trip to Texas Creek. Like Socrates Tim had epilepsy. Like Dylan Thomas he drank too much. I'd say his death was a waste but who am I to judge.

I was talking to a hairdresser who having watched the Three Faces of Eve was telling me about reading the work of Dr. Colin Ross, the psychiatrist who wrote the book, Dissociative Identity Disorder.

What did I think of the past, she asked, Could we change it?

I told her I thought the 'events' were God's will. What's done is done. As Omar Khayyam elegantly said, " the moving hand writes and having writ moves on." A negative event in the child's past had given rise to a whole series of events that followed in Eve's life. Yet equally had that event not occured the child might as easily have died. Too often people romanticize the road not taken without considering what is, is or may well be the 'best of a bad lot'. Then there's string theory, multi dimensional reality, black holes, relativity and the whole question of the validity of time.

If I suicide and St. Peter gives me a brand new harp and puts me at the head of the band then perhaps suicide isn't so bad after all. If on the other hand suicide lands me in a worse pit than the one I thought I was escaping then it's really isn't worth the bother.

The events of the past remain fixed but the spin that we put on any event so commonly depends on the events that follow. It's not over till the fat lady sings.

What we believe depends on our individual view about life itself. We don't like to admit that. We don't want to talk about it. But suicide means different things to different people.

The past is open to interpretation. The meaning, the thoughts and feelings with which I view these events is a 'social construct' even if the events themselves may be 'essentialist." If I believe that life is secularly separate and individual then I'll believe and feel wholly different than if I consider life sacred and everyone of us spiritually interconnected.

My friend asked if she could have my stuff when the rapture came.

The rusted car is central to the picture but life is all around it. Enjoying T.S.Elliott's, The Hollow Men, I really enjoyed hearing that 'Spirituality is growing love inside". Before my mother died, she told me she was tired. It was easier for my brother and I to decide we'd not wake her than it was for my father at 89. My friends' mother before her death on being asked why she hung on, answered, "I want to see how it turns out." "Don't leave until the miracle happens."

Since death is as inevitable as taxes it seems the most one can say for suicide is that it's impatience. It never seems to be timely. Given the elements I was glad to get this picture now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We're at War. Whose winning


My brother, Ron, the photographer/MBA, sent this picture to me taken of my Aunt Sally during WWII. He's digitalizing some of the old photos and I'm really thankful. When I showed this picture of my aunt to a glamorous friend, she wrote back, "your aunt looks like a fashion model." Growing up in Winnipeg that's what she always appeared to me. She'd fly in from Toronto bringing city cosmopolitanism to our prairie town where the radio reported the daily hog and wheat prices.
In the 40's she was working as a Canadian secretary for the WW II war effort in Washington DC. I remember her teaching me a valuable lesson about war, "I loved it," she said, "It was the most exciting time of my life. We felt badly for the boys going overseas but for those of us in Washington it was often such a terrific party."
I remember a radio operator stationed on a american submarine telling me the same thing about his Vietnam War years. "It was the best time of our lives in the Navy. It wasn't like the Vietnamese had a navy of their own so we just got to play with all this high tech listening equipment with little risk to ourselves. We felt badly though for those guys who were humping it in the jungle.".
Someone told me that for everyone in actual combat there were dozens if not hundreds profitting from their sacrifice. And the further away from actual battle you got the more money you could make from the war. Indeed it's always those who are somehow above war themselves who today who most recommend it.
Now we're at war. It's difficult to hold a position of pro military and anti war mongering but that's exactly where I stand. I have the greatest admiration for individual soldiers but increasingly see them being used for business rather than "peace keeping". It's the same attitude I have for the police knowing that individually they serve to keep the city safe but quite frankly find it offensive that so much of their work is sneaky tax collection rather than traditional 'law and order'.
As to the Canadians in Afghanistan, I'm thankful for Dr. Patterson's book "Outside the Wire." because it really brings home the complexity of this war. As with the Vietnam war, those who profitted from war said ,"either you're for us or against us. " It's always with this kind of primitive lizard brain reasoning that real discussion is silenced. Ad hominems (against the man) are perhaps the strongest evidence of a weak argument and one of the classic fallacies of rhetoric. The bumper sticker I saw this summer in Portland said, "I"m a patriot and that's why I'm against war!"
I heard Barrack say he was going to get America out of Iraq. Such promises in Vietnam years though preceded more military spending and death. Why find cures for cancer, build geodesic dome cities on oceans, develop space station solar power plants, study prayer and telepathy, move forward on the scientific teletransportation of matter, or have fair housing and employment when it's so much more fun to blow up people and things. A cruise missile costs a million or two a deadly firecracker. I don't think Lennon was wrong when he and Yoko did the Montreal bed in singing , "All we are saying, is give peace a chance. "
Given the extent of evidence that 9-11 certainly was, in part an inside job, and that the weapons of mass destruction were being made in Korea not in Iraq, surely a time out might be considered to see who had the most to gain and has gained the most from invading the wrong country. It's a toss up whether Wag the Dog or Art of War with Nicholas Cage is the best commentary on postmodern war.
However the Berlin Wall fell and America has a black man as president elect. I'm betting India will beat China to having the first man on Mars! This morning I was studying the findings of functional MRI's. Lizard spit is helping diabetics. Viagra works by giving the penis laughing gas. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways!
There is always hope. My Aunt Sally was a stalwart Baptist and always believed in a new day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Intervention


I just watched the movie, Intervention, on DVD. It was captivating much as Clean and Sober was in a way that 28 days wasn't. I still liked 28 days. Intervention, though, speaks to the non voluntary, confrontational approach or forced rescue of the drug addict. If I didn't work in this field I'd question the civil rights and human liberties aspects of this. Certainly the lead character who is literally forced to go to a rehab centre threatens to take a restraining order out on his estranged wife who has undertaken the intervention. "I feel I've been kidnapped," he says and yet he only appears to acknowledge later that he really had been kidnapped by the drugs.

Drug addiction is that powerful and there is a need for an individual to be removed from the source if only for a week for perspective. That's the position of detox units but the actual corruption of character and motivation and denial that's involved in the alteration of brain chemistry is such that weeks if not months are necessary before there's any semblance of true saniety. The "lizard" brain functions to the very end but the mammalian and human brain take that long to resurrect.

The experiments with monkeys show that if a lever is wired to their pleasure centre in the brain they will pull that lever till death going without food or water just to get their 'fix'. Man is little different and the powerful effect of crack cocaine is like the lever, though clearly alcohol, opiates, amphetamine and even marijuania can powerfully addict.

While the movie does well to capture the loss of mood modulation that is one of the pathognomic features of drug withdrawal and early sobriety (perhaps even the first year) it does well to address the 'damaged' relationships which exist in association with addiction.

I was reminded of the child who was trying to please the alcoholic mother but her mother's pleasure was solely related to the internal level of alcohol and not at all related to the daughter's actions. People pleasing and personal guilt follow such relationships especially where dependency is at stake. The idea of the domestic addictions is addressed here but the movie is waiting to be made which addresses the even bigger picture. The employer employee relationships, the generals and the soldiers, the country's leaders and their people, all of these relationships have been negatively impacted by alcoholism and other addictions.

The beauty of the 12 step movement was that it was purely a 'self help' program with the initial actions of alcoholics helping other alcoholics but only if the alcoholic wanted it and was ready. There is good evidence that with other diseases the earlier the intervention the better the outcome but that avoids addressing the issue of nicotine and heart disease and lung disease. Man's addiction to war and killing may cave to the high costs of insurance. If the real estate crisis doesn't break America then surely the military long term health costs will, if only for the post traumatic stress disorders which are associated with addictions in a third to a half of cases.

Intervention does 'blame the victim' but it initiates a treatment and recovery process which is life saving and highly rewarding. The movie gets an Aplus for acting and plot and the dramatic spectacular ending. Thankfully, though the ending was truly human outside Hollywood the special effects aren't nearly so exciting.


Today I attended the Christ Church Cathedral service and was glad to see my special friend George. Later I could chat with a former employee and see how well behaved her delightful daughter was. Now when did I begin to appreciate children in terms of 'well behaved'? It was a good to see and hear Dean Peter Eliott. The visitting choir was masterful with hand clapping spiritual music. Each Sunday so much is happening in that wonderful space of polished wood, restored organ and beautiful stained glass. It's simply a prayerful place of Christian feng sui with a such a diverse group of people gathered for worship.


Later at 6 pm, I attended the Rainbow Church in St. John's United Church on Comox in the West End. It's more down to earth and robust. Each week someone reads out the names of those with illness and cancer in the congregation. There's moments of silence when individual prayers are encouraged. There's a roughness and humility. The words of the songs are projected onto the wall. The beat is up tempo. Everyone sings along with with pianist and band. They rock as a smaltzy spirituality creaps into some of the songs and Sultans of Swing comes to mind. Multi coloured flag dancers in belly dance constumes fill the space before the cross. The financial dream is for a 'dream centre' to attend to the physical and emotional as well as spiritual needs of those who come.
After church they serve a fellowship potluck. I haven't stayed though I will one day. Talking after church to a friend who just moved here from Winnipeg left me swirling in nostalgia.


Earlier that day at the library I had gathered a selection of books on various aspects of sexuality. I'm concluding a project of several years, writing a series of papers addressing the concerns that people bring to my office which I have yet to see in any of the standard text books. Last week I had a stack of books on alcoholism and drug addiction for another similiar project. I'd mildly wondered what people passing my desk must think of a guy with cocaine, heroin and ecstacy references all over his library work table.


Well, that was not nearly as telling as today's collection which included a titles like the "Anal Taboo" and "Medical aspects of various perversions." I was using a book called Cosmos Best Sex Secrets to prop open the one which compared todays stats with those found by Kinsey. The trends were amazing. Feminism, freedom of information, internet and various other 'theories', falling just short of mad cow disease or alien invasion, were put forward to explain this.


When I was younger I would have been 'embarrassed' to have these books in the open on my desk. I actually thought others were interested in what I was reading. I've reached an age where I don't think it really matters. Past 50 I've found no one is interested in what I'm reading especially if it is about sex.


It's the young we have to worry about, given their stamina. I read books today they shouldn't allow anyone under 50 to read. Also I could write a paper comparing what books were available in the medical library, the downtown library and this west end library. The latter were certainly more into the 'hands on' and far less interested in intellectualization. Go figure.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg







I just watched Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, a captivating and very amusing documentary that reminded me so much of my own Winnipeg. It's a great black and white movie memorial that combines stock historic footage with home movies and present day reenactments. Naked super vixens, vintage hockey players, dead horseheads and buffalos compete with sleep walkers and endless snow scapes, fur coats and hudson bay blankets. The mystic nature of the forks and the magnetism of the place itself are juxtaposed with the intellectual ennui of escapist fantasies. And all of it revolves around the family reminding me of childhood and countless Christmas homecomings.

Vincent Massey High School reunion is coming this 2009 spring and Guys' nostalgic reminiscence has pushed me one step closer to returning again despite the old home being sold, Mom death and Dad living now near Ron in Ottawa.

Even now my memory conjures up a kaleidoscope of fond reminiscenses. There's the red brick house, Dad's garage and Mom's garden. Then the parks and the surrounding wheat fields. Fort Gary, Portage and Main, the YMCA, Manitoba Theatre School, MTC, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. I'll never forget walking to University of Winnipeg, the snow flakes falling and the beautiful young faces. Neil Young's song's words 'all my changes were there' comes to mind as I remember church coffeehouses, hospitals and OR's. I loved my own first house in Riverheights. The memory of my friends taillored word work creations, dinner parties, dances. It's all a gift of a city where people are as warm as the outside is cold.

Even here Winnipeggers greet each other as ex patriots might in a foreign land. And I for one look forward to passing on the news of this tribute to an extraordinary city in the heart of the heart of the heart of the continent.

Nov.14, 2008 - Journalling

"Everything worth doing is worth doing poorly."

All beginnings are like children learning to walk. Falling down and getting up and falling down and getting up. The smile is what separates the child from the adult. The adult somehow thinks they are entitled to wings. Just because they learned to walk as children doesn't mean that rocket science should come easy. Yet there they are grimacing with the complexities of new knowledge, demanding that politics and love should progress smoothly and rapidly without a myriad of little falls or big kabooms.

The child laughs and cries where the adult trudges and groans. Walking on water would be standard despite the critics of myth busters and deceit of Ninja. A man has done it. But just because Daedalus melted his wings before the sun didn't stop the Wright Brothers. Learning is a natural curve of fits and starts and steady progress only with application. To parphrase Einstein, genius is 99% perspiration and 1 % inspiration.

I hear so many people saying they are unhappy where they are but are so unwilling to change one minutiae of their daily lives. And when the galaxy and universe conspire to push them forward a micron they give up with tears and pouts insisting they'll never be good at anything. Today there is so much reward for inactivity. The drug culture surplants the television world. Free heroin is the latest halcyon cry of government when we were only just trying to break them of the habit of offering free lunches we all but them must pay for.

Writing is just that. As a teen ager I made a decision to write, so admiring the books I found in the library and the lives and words of poets and authors I encountered there. The daily journal became a thing I carried along with keys and wallet A little black book that fitted pockets and went everywhere with me in an age of slide rulers and atom bombs. Looking back today I see I've been keeping a journal for nearly 50 years. Today I can write with greater ease and that connection between fingers and mind is a product of hours, days and years of writing. My favourite writers have but written more.

The mind is just a muscle. The famous nun studies showed that those who used theirs most were least likely to develop dementia. In addition to journalling I remember consciouslly trying my hand at different genres of writing. There was even a period of time when I wrote letters to the editor long before I wrote editorials. Anything can be done in this way. The proverbial baby steps with their crawls and falls and standing tall. It's beginning in the day and continuing in tomorrow.

That was the message of the last writing class I took to deal with my continued struggle with the sheer volume of the 'novel'. I'm now a master of a page or 10 pages even ,but am as overwelmed at the thought of 100, 200 or 300 as I was once at crossing continents or oceans in various conveniences. Jobin, that brilliant, witty, much published raconteur told us how she'd begun with one hour a day and a year later had a book that's gone on to television syndication. Her writing makes me laugh and I've always enjoyed the special connection that writing brings between my insides and the insides of others. Emotionally and intellectually we share this intimacy of idea, word and feeling.

But it really just is in the doing. Reframed, writing for me is just another way for "quitting" inertia, just overcoming sloth, the age old addiction today so commonly called "I can't" and "Yes, but". If I want to be a writer I must write. Writing is taking the mind and fingers out of park. Once in motion then I can drive to whereever I would go. A jaunt around my own community, out there on freeways to a foreign country or over here to some form of multiplicity machine.

I must remember though that publication never made me more than just that single gift to myself or lover, as in the Song of Songs. In the alpha and omega I am not writing for magazines or libraries but just for you. The you that Buber called Thou or just the you who laughed after falling and got up again to continue on when no one else was smiling and the unmoving were dead in the water. The writer must continue on despite rejection and just a little afraid of acceptance. It's really just another form of sharing. What was that line of Kurt Vonnegut's: all we are is just communicating peep holes on reality.

Hey, you, over there, are you listening. Yea, you. I saw you falling out of your peephole and think it terrific that you got back up. Have a great day!!! Sure, I'll pray for you too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nov.13,2008

Cornelia
-William Hay

I knew a woman doctor once
Who would not pay her taxes
Because she did not believe in war.
They threatened her with jail somewhere
When natives I knew preferred the jails
To the winter reservation,
Long after the Residential schools
Had been closed.

So who will get the new Sacrifice Medal
Which excludes those hit by "friendly" fire,
As if it never happened in Afganistan
Long after the Mulroney Chretien twins.

In the shadow of 9-11 and the hope of Obama
In prayers for peace
That Martin Luther, Gandhi and Sister Theresa
Aren't just names like Jesus has become.

China bails out America
As individuals flounder with birds in the oil spills
And corporate captains first leave ships
Without tradition and without face
Knowing judges have been paid in Florida
As the last train coast music dies
Only to be heard again in Indy.
There is no truth but Hollywood.

For you,my love
Half crazed, with pulcritude
Swimming in irony,
Your breath on mine
Wake me still
Dreaming this Court of Lear
Where they talk of silly things
As if we were not born yesterday,

Good Morning, America!
Canada, where are you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

William Hay, Writer


Nov. 12, 2008


The Canadian Authors Association met tonight at the Alliance for the Arts Building, 938 Howe Street Vancouver. I was asked to read. I chose the short story, Born Again, which was published in the Medical Post in 2005 and went on to win the Kenneth R. Wilson Award that year. The reader before me was a retired street nurse writing an autobiographical novel. Sylvia Taylor, President of the Federation of BC Writers did the featured presentation on the writer's "Platform" in the publishing industry.


I stumbled over some words, was glad not to cry in the parts of the story that still move me. Later, glad that it was over I appreciated the praise I received, surprised at how much that meant coming from other writers. I've read the works of several there, many are name brand authors, and it really does inspire me to be in their midst.


The idea of a writer's blog and a writer's curriculum vitae was raised. Now here it is. I've thought of it myself but the execution is happening thanks to Sylvia. She's bright eyed, blond, articulate, inspiring and accomplished. I took her writer's business card and thought, I've recommended this to people myself but do I have one. No. I 'd not heard of putting the writer's business card information on a book mark which was another great idea.


I do like this group!