May 2020 12

Look, I hate these Facebook challenge things. But I’m bored and a friend asked me to do it. So, to appease her and the writer in me who just wants to write short mindless blurbs right now… I’ll be posting them on here as well.

 

So I’m at the Canadian National Exhibition. Pre-teen years. The smell of trouble and those mini-donuts that float down the river of oil is in the air. And I yearn to be cool in a way that those girls who wear jean jackets with those feathers clipped onto them are attracted to, but before I discover smoking and underage drinking in parking lots.

Records. Records are cool and you say I can win one at that game of chance on the Midway? Take my money. Did I throw a dart? Turn over some floating duck? I don’t remember.

But I walk away with this – Poor Boys ‘Ain’t Nothin’ in Our Pocket But Love’. Fitting.

Possibly still unplayed – and no, Reader, I don’t know who they are either. But coveted in my small collection as if it were an Iggy Pop autographed Stooges album.

 

 

May 2020 11

 

I’m doing this Facebook album thing cause a friend, Mandy Way, asked me to and I adore her. But as Sinatra said, doing this shizz my way (paraphrasing a bit). And I’m writing a little blurb about each one. Cause I’m a writer, dammit.

First album. Julio Iglesias. ‘Momentos’.
Si. Really.

My father, Bert, is from Belize. Beneath his Canadian-ized mild-manneredness beats the passionate heart of a latin lover. And on Sunday mornings in my teens, I would come downstairs to hear this album blaring, Bert dancing around the living room and trying to get my Japanese-Canadian Mom to get up and join him. Unsuccessfully.

Standout track for me is Side A finisher ‘Amor’.

If you’re looking for Julio Iglesias at his finest in Spanish (or Albert Bradley, still going strong), this is your record.

 

May 2020 10

 

Someone I know died.

Well, to say I ‘knew’ her isn’t quite accurate. But she was someone I’d see a couple of times a week for some years.

Pina was a Personal Trainer at the gym that I went to regularly.

I remember meeting her. I noticed her right away. She was hard to miss. About six feet tall, long dark flowing hair and dark brown eyes. Stunning.

“Would you like a towel, hon?”

‘She could be a model’, I thought to myself. And it turns out she was, but I didn’t find that out til much later.

I would come into the gym and if she was working the front desk, we’d chat a bit. She loved to laugh, and I like to try to make people laugh. So I’d consider it a personal accomplishment if I managed it with her.

Those moments were less about my prowess as an awkward comedian, and more about her spirit. I think she liked to make people feel good and even when my jokes missed their mark, she’d give me a playful laugh and giggle that made me feel as tall as her. I didn’t even need the physical workout after. She made me feel great.

One day I arrived in a new baseball cap and she said “I love that hat. Give it to me.” And I admit I almost did at that moment.

Pina was Transgender. I found this out early on in our non-relationship. I thought about hiring a Personal Trainer and looked at her bio on the gym wall. Model and Transgender activist.

Over the next months and years, this is the way it went with us. We’d joke about when I was giving her a hat. And I’d get all fluttery inside from her attention. She had a way of looking at me like I was a little snack, and I ate it up. She was sexual, feminine, flirty, and more importantly just an all-around nice person, and I looked forward to her energy.

I saw her with clients and she was always very focused on them, encouraging, and had a warm and giving spirit.

We’d wink and wave at each other as she walked by with a client. Sometimes she’d point at whatever hat I had on my head and give me an approving look. I admit I’d flex a bit more or do an extra rep just for show. She glided effortlessly through the gym, like a dancer.

“It’s amazing how attractive she is,” I said to a friend about her as we were admiring her professional modelling photos online. “She’s better looking at being feminine or masculine than anyone I know who’s cis or straight and doing either one.”

I hadn’t seen her in awhile. Some months before the lockdown, a lot of the Personal Trainers at the gym left for some reason. A big turnover. Pina was one of them. I’d read about a Canada-wide labour dispute with the big parent company and I wondered if she was part of the walkout, or maybe she’d moved onto other things.

I missed seeing her though. I had new hats.

This week, a friend on Facebook boosted a post. It was a photo of Pina, smiling. I scrolled by at first and then remembered that no one I know knew her. We weren’t real-life friends. What was up? I went back to read. Turns out she was missing.

I boosted the post and then checked a few days later for an update.

Pina had been found dead in her apartment. No details on cause of death.

Right now, we just assume anyone who dies or is hospitalized is COVID-19 related. And perhaps that’s what happened to Pina. I don’t know. I may never know. We all have our battles we are fighting. Pina was fighting hers, and from the posts I’ve been reading about her life outside the gym, she was fighting for others as well.

She was quite the activist in the Transgender community. A pillar of strength and support for people. I’m sorry for all those who knew her better than I did. She certainly was loved.

I always hoped I’d see her again. Maybe after the lockdown when the gyms reopened, she’d magically reappear at that location and we’d laugh again and flirt and have a longer conversation about what she had been doing. I’d order her one of my favourite hats to really welcome her back.

But nope.

“We’re all in this together.” I’m so tired of hearing this. A pandemic slogan doesn’t make this more true. We’re only all in this together if we support each other. It’s so hard right now, isn’t it? But who knows how you can make a difference in someone’s day with a small gesture. It’s said that you get back what you put out there. But even if you don’t, someone gets something you put out there.

I hope Pina knew she had the love and support that I saw her giving out into the world.

I certainly could have done a better job. She always made my day better. I wish I’d told her.

 

 

 

 

May 2020 09

Day 57

Posted In Blog,The world

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2020 07

Richard

Posted In Blog,The world

 

(Photo: Richard Picton by Richard Picton, circa 1982)

 

He made money being a photographer. And he was a fucking great photographer.

But his job was being a foul-mouthed hooligan cigarette-devouring drunk.

Some people are larger than life. And Richard, who died yesterday, was certainly one of those people.

My first advertising partner and I worked with him right out of the gate in our young careers. It was the late 90s and working on a beer account at that time with Richard has probably ruined me to this day. Nothing will top those times in my life and career. We were young, cocky, and working with the great Richard Picton. The hooligan.

He showed us the ridiculous world that Advertising was, and could be, for us as we embarked on our careers. He took his craft very seriously, but the rest of it was a show. He peeled the curtain back for us and showed us that we could belong at that Carnival too. I was a kid from a punch-clock background from Rexdale. And he slipped me the magic password.

He threw a party that year. A fetish party. It’s over 20 years later and everyone who was there still talks about it. And people who weren’t there say they heard about it.

At his photography studio. Come dressed as your fetish. It is a debaucherous blur to me. I just remember loud music, writhing bodies, strobe lights, and all of us showed our alter egos til the sun came up.

He had a camera set up in the bathroom. There was a cable release. None of us thought there was really film in it so we took photos liberally every time we went into the bathroom. In twos sometimes. And threes. And you get the picture.

And so did he. Because there indeed was film in it.

He always said he was keeping all the contact sheets and negatives from that night for ‘safe keeping’. One day he might pull it out and blackmail all of us.

Last summer I was lucky enough to run into Richard on the roof of The Pilot.

Still the same fun-loving hooligan. Older now and who isn’t. I’m probably older now than he was when he met me. We talked of old crazy times, but mainly new crazy times.

He still saw the business for what it was. A Carnival. And now I had the years behind me to have experienced the ride, too.

He was still just a big kid, with wild wide eyes, exciting stories to tell, and an eagerness to hear some. And something even more rare to find today, something you can’t learn in my industry cause you’re just born with it – a giant heart.

Hard to believe it’s stopped beating.

 

 

 

 

 

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