Nov 2016 09

For me, last night started in a bar watching US Election coverage, and ended in an Emergency Ward. Some thoughts on a morning after where everyone is unsettled.

Like most people I know, I’m uneasy about the results of the election to the south of us. I’ll leave the real political analysis and impact to those more qualified, however it’s a good time to remind myself that we’re a different country and perhaps the days of the US being the ‘centre of the universe’ have, and should, come to an end. Canada, this wasn’t our election. Democracy spoke, and perhaps we are finally able to see our neighbours for who they really are. As any election in another country should be, this was a statement only about that country. Although I don’t agree with the victor’s stance on most things, if this ushers in a time that America focuses inward instead of trying to be the world police, maybe some good can come of it. It’s time we looked to other nations, and ourselves, as a role model. Canada and the world can continue to move in any direction we choose.

In any case last night I was given a reminder that for me, real life happens beyond the wide lens. While at one of my favourite watering holes to take in a bit of their Election Results Party, I received a text that a family member was rushed to the hospital, to Emergency. So I left for the hospital. I’ll leave out the details but fast-forward, it was close but they’re going to be okay short-term.

When I arrived at the hospital, my mind was on the coverage I just left. I entered the hospital through the main doors and walked through quiet, dimly lit halls following the red ‘EMERGENCY’ signs and reflecting on the red and blue sides being tied at 134 electoral votes. Pushing open the doors to Emergency snapped me out of that big-time. Emergency was a different world. Scurrying paramedics. People lying on stretchers and hooked up to ventilators and lots of beeping machinery. The worried faces everywhere weren’t for the election. I zig-zagged my way through the crowd. A woman was moaning incoherently and I glanced at the monitor showing her vitals as an EMS worker sat with her holding her hand. The TV mounted in the corner was tuned to election coverage, but I didn’t look. It suddenly didn’t matter.

I was directed beyond the admittance lobby, through the security doors, and to the ‘Acute Care’ areas. Walking through those doors, surprisingly, it was peaceful again. There were about a dozen full and half-curtained off areas and one of them held the person I was there to see. As I walked over to #4, I passed many open curtains and caught glimpses of concerned fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, kids, people. You can tell a lot about a person through their eyes.

Doctors and care workers were gathered around charts, conferring. I saw one doctor emerge from behind a curtain and she immediately removed her smock, deposited in a bin with others, and grabbed a new one to go off to the next curtain.

This wasn’t US Election Tuesday. This was a night like any other in Emergency and this was just what they do. They try to save people.

And their example reminded me that this is all you can really do to make a difference. You can only change the world through your moment-to-moment contact with everything you do. You can be nice to someone. You can be caring. You can be empathetic. And hopefully that ripples outward and makes a difference. You can’t change the world. You can only change yourself and how you approach things.

What is ‘real’? Are countries and borders and electoral maps and political parties ‘real’? Is it time to start looking inward at ourselves instead of outward and thinking someone else will do the work to change the world for us? Will there ever be ‘real’ change in this world?

What I saw last night in Emergency. The care, concern, anguish, love. That shit was definitely real.

To the health care workers I saw last night, I tip my hat to all of you. Grace under pressure, defined.

Nov 2016 06

FujiTamale News, Toronto –

With the switch from Daylight Savings Time moving the clock back from 2 am to 1 am, friends gathered in a Toronto watering hole made the most of the extra time to keep discussing the upcoming US Election. Which they can’t vote in.

“Just cause I’m Canadian and can’t actually vote,” said one patron at The Black Horse Tavern on Bloor near Dovercourt, “doesn’t mean I can’t try to sway the opinion of everyone within my shouting voice who also can’t vote.”

Topics taking a backseat included Canada’s European Trade Deal this week, ‘Is Lori having more orgasms these days?’, and their friend moving to Tokyo next week which was the reason for the gathering to begin with.

The group dispersed at the new 2 am EST vowing to change their Facebook profile pictures to something about the election, or like I dunno maybe that pipeline thing in Dakota, to instigate real change in the world.

Nov 2016 02

A memoir about today’s closeted sexuality, and the now gone Parkdale Video Store’s porn room.

The other day I was saying how I miss the old days of pornography. Rather than a statement on how graphic everything has become online (hey, you like what you like and just keep it legal I guess), I mean the digital age has made everything become so secretive and taboo.

Like everyone my age, growing up I had a friend who knew where his dad kept his stash of softcore porn mags. And being a good friend, he would invite a bunch of us over to skip school and we’d spend the afternoon flipping through the glossy pages of tasteful and well-photographed nudes. It didn’t become a big wankfest or anything. We laughed, appreciated the power of female sensuality, and read the letters. None of us had ever done more than necking at that point so it was just fun. Sex was always meant to be a fun thing between consenting adults, but I wonder if the internet has just closeted everyone and turned us all into paranoid people who make sure their browser history is deleted.

My friend Paul Hutcheson is a stand-up comedian and during his journey to headlining and traveling across North America as he does today, he held some different jobs. One of them was working in the video rental store here in Parkdale, Toronto. Like most (all) video stores, it’s gone now. But Paul’s favourite thing about working there was getting to know the customers and the kinds of movies they liked. “You liked Titanic? Well you might like Evil Dead 2, then!” And the room with the Saloon Doors. The porn video rental room. And it was separated from the main part of store by a pair of saloon doors. I guess if you were packing a six-shooter and were feeling brave enough for it, walking through the saloon doors was the store’s version of going down Alice’s rabbit hole.

Paul learned a lot about people’s sexual likes and kinks just by what was flying off the rental shelves. And he took great relish in the looks on people’s faces when they’d bring certain titles to him to the counter to rent. He never divulged details about who was coming in, but he once told me if I had money, I should invest in Transexual Porn cause it was the real money maker and it was taking off.

With the permission of the store owner, Paul would host an after-hours stand up comedy show in the store every six months or so. He was the Host and he’d present a line-up of local stand ups that he liked and admired. Everyone had 5 – 10 minutes on stage with one rule about the material – it had to be about sex.

And the show was held, yes, ‘behind the saloon doors’ in the porn room. Red lights on and all.

For a lot of us, it was our first foray into a porn video store room. Paul had the racks and racks of empty DVD cases pushed against the walls, and for the show we’d all sit in the middle of the floor or stand around the perimeter. Drinks were for sale (shhh) and it was a packed house, always. But before the show, everyone walked around and looked at the DVD cases. There was something for everyone. Gay porn. Sci-Fi. Bad Babysitters. BDSM. Reality Porn. And of course, the infamous (and soon to grow), Transexual Porn section.

Then we’d be treated to ninety minutes of stand up comedy all about sex. Over the years I saw comics talk about everything from when they realized they were gay, to mothers catching them masturbating, to one night stands gone wrong, and one of my personal faves – Paul’s ‘Hamburger Helper Night’ hookup. If you couldn’t find something in the material to relate to, well, you were probably in some deep denial or had some living to do.

Afterwards, there was more perusing of the DVDs and a dance party til we thought we might get busted.

It was fun to walk around freely, laugh, and talk about sex. We are strange and interesting creatures, humans. There was no shame. It was just fascinating to celebrate human sexuality. Yes, we were behind the saloon doors, but it felt very freeing and public and like we were all ‘normal’ after all.

No one wanted to delete their browser history after those nights. In contrast, we all wish they would come back.

Oct 2016 28

FujiTamale News, Toronto –

Totally bumming people out yesterday, an elderly woman was spotted in an underground Toronto mall wearing the Remembrance Day icon a full 15 days before November 11th.

“With the fragile state of the world right now, we really don’t need to see that kind of realness, y’know?”, said one witness. “It’s time to focus on the undead and stuff. Not the actual heroic dead.”

Said another passerby who was shopping to complete her ‘Sexy Escaped High Park Zoo Capybara’ costume, “I haven’t seen a single poppy box yet. She must have been saving that in the bottom of her change purse since last year.”

The woman was described as white, kindly-looking, and mid 80s. She was sitting alone in the food court eating from Tupperware and wearing a smart polyester pantsuit with the poppy on the left lapel where the mandatory old lady accoutrement of a brooch or cameo should have been.



Oct 2016 25

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Working with you, we’ll choose a recording studio, cast talent (ACTRA or Non-Union), acquire stock or compose original music (if needed) and then actually make the radio spots in studio on a recording day. Good Samurai fun without anyone committing Seppaku. That’s suicide, by the way.

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