Monday, May 31, 2010

Novel: Little Brother

(2008) Cory Doctorow

The early techno-babble load is a bit of a chore to wade through for those who aren't so techno-curious but the reward is worth it. The back half is a hell-raising blood-boiling roller coaster ride with a distinct and relevant cautionary message.

The boys reading group chose this piece of fiction. None are old enough to remember 9/11 yet they found this very similar material compelling.

To what degree should a government be entitled to restrict freedom and liberty in the supposed interest of protecting said freedom and liberty - or the illusion thereof - from that spectre we call terrorism?

Says the self-sacrificing hero, seventeen year-old Marcus: A democratic government is empowered to serve the interests of its peoples and when it fails to do so - it is the peoples' right to dismantle it, according to the Declaration of Independence.

Well done, Doc.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Song: Working Town

I'll put a little video (music-slide-show) together soon for this song. But for now:

I'm underground in a working town
Seeds of wonder all around
But every hand and every sound
Is holding them down

They're asking me what I want to be
But they don't really want the truth
I don't want to be anything
I just want to do


They're asking me where I'm gonna go
Where am I gonna live
But living's not about a place to own
It's what do you give

Working town
It's a working town
It's smokin' towers in the sky
Working town
It's a working town
Smoke and mirrors, never asking why

They're asking me what I'm gonna do
What kind of wage am I gonna earn
But there's no gold in what you make
It's what do you learn

Working town
It's a working town
It's smokin' towers in the sky
Working town
It's a working town
Smoke and mirrors, never asking why


Working town
It's a working town
Smoke and towers in the sky
Working town
It's a working town
Smoke and mirrors, never asking,
Never asking why

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Amazing Kids

When I was young I always wanted to be around older kids. The ultimate experience for me was when older cousins would visit and let me hang out with them.

As a young adult I wanted adult things and adult pursuits. I wanted sex and booze and sophisticated conversation. And aside from that I wanted peace and quiet. I never wanted to be in the company of children. Ever. They were noisy and unpredictable and beyond my comprehension. I was always sure I'd never want kids of my own.

Forty-one years into this experiment called life, I had a conversation with an excellent friend who happens to be a very conscientious and free-thinking educator about my desire to re-enter the volunteer community but working with people with special needs.

Super-condensed version of conversation:

"We have kids with special needs in the schools. Come volunteer with us."

"No," says I. "I don't get on well with kids." Okay, so I'd actually never once made any effort to, but it was a safe assumption.

"You like books."

"I love books."

"So you could start out by volunteering in the library, cataloguing our great collection of new books."

"I couldn't do that. It sounds like too much fun. I wouldn't feel like a proper volunteer."

"But you could see how you feel being in a school environment and find out if you might be comfortable working with kids." He then proceeded to tell me stories about some of his former students with special needs which broke my heart in about eight places.

"Okay. Let's do it."

The great cataloguing project took up close to half the school year. The kids and I got along fabulously. I couldn't believe how many of them loved books. That shared love of literature finally bridged the gap between me and youngsters. Then it was time to make the move to the special needs community. And here my principal friend played the trump card.

"You have no experience working with special needs kids. It's not easy. Why don't you run a reading group for advanced readers instead. We don't have the library material nor curriculum to support them."

And once again: "I couldn't do that. It sounds like too much fun. I wouldn't feel like a proper volunteer."

"It's a much needed service and it would be right up your alley."

"Okay. Let's do it."


The experience has been - the bomb.

I'm running three groups which takes up the entire school day once a week. I work with eleven young people; seven girls, four boys, aged 12-14 I guess; grades seven and eight but for one grade sixer who is in a special situation. They're all amazing. Bright. Curious. Sincere.

They're seriously more intelligent than half the adults I know, perhaps to some degree because they simply haven't collected as much detrimental false learning as adults have. They've collected less fears than adults. They've constructed less walls that ostensibly guide people along paths but really serve to block out possibilities in their lives. They're not clinging to societal investments that shut down realms of perception. They're open.

Among them are musicians and singer-songwriters! Some are visual artists, sound-collage artists, photographers and at least one junior videographer! And of course writers and poets. They have socially conscious, enlightened voices that I never heard from my peers when I was that age, at least that I remember.

While ostensibly helping them learn to get more out of their reading and to increase their love of reading, my not-very-hidden hidden agenda is to turn them all into permanent writers and creators. Because the only path I know of thus far to find real joy, peace and harmony in life starts with the contemplation of the blank page and so it is my duty - and joy - in life to propagate the creative and poetic lifestyles.

They still have the possibility of joy and harmony for their futures but of course high school and college will exercise their massive powers to destroy all that, and that knowledge is a needle in my heart because I really do love them. I'd like to take them all home and be their dad and protector but I'm guessing they already have parents who probably would rather keep them! Oh well.

I'm already mourning the approaching closure of the school year and the loss of participation of the five eighth-graders. I hope we'll stay in touch somehow. I hope all the younger ones will return next year.

So what is the deal here? Are these the eleven most amazing kids in the world or are all kids amazing and I'm just the last dull idiot to figure that out?


Monday, May 24, 2010


From time to time I read about the concept of oneness - most prominently in novel Siddhartha and in the Gita. I don't connect to the idea, either because I'm not clear what they mean about oneness or else it's something I just haven't thus far experienced.

It always comes up in a context where everything surrounding it rings familiar to me but just what are they trying to say about oneness?

I know what it's like to contemplate (and be moved to peacefulness by) connectedness; how every single element and action in the history of the world is inevitably and unarguably connected through the omnipotence and omnipresence of causality - something every human reliably witnesses - what? - a million times a day? Why this is pristinely obvious to some people while other brains apparently lack the functionality for this to register is a matter of some dismay. But I digress.

I know what it's like to feel bonded to every sentient creature on the planet by a state of lovingness (a legitimate word, yes); a state of love that is so overwhelming one must pull onto the shoulder of the road to recover because it is so powerful. It seizes like I imagine a heart attack would and it incapacitates. I imagine that the experience becomes more tolerable with practice.

I know what it's like to fully discover the horror of one's own duplicity; that there really is a devil lurking within us, but finally then to discover that no, we are really the angel lurking within the devil, waiting to fulfil the tide of human evolution which proposes a full and proper mutiny; a unity of consciousness and non-consciousness; of angel and devil; where we, currently the conscious angels, finally inherit the drivers' seat.

And I know what it is to feel drowned in in the eternal, to sense that the dust that is mistaken for "me" has been so for others before me and will be again for others still, when the illusion of me is gone.

Causal connectedness. Global lovingness. Unity of mind. The eternal. Do I know oneness? Or is there something else?

"You'll be in me and I'll be in you together in eternity. Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me."
- Bruce Cockburn

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Purple and Green

Very late last night I met a curious young man in purple hoodie and green shoes. I was only helping search for a lost dog. He was lost too. Boy was he ever.

He was wildly drunk and wildly friendly. I took him to his home but his bigger twin brother was there, waiting to beat him up. So we left again.

We talked. He cried. I held him. I'm no saint. I had to fight selfish instincts. He's only seventeen. I held him and nothing more, until it was safe for him to sneak back in and go to bed.

I never told him that I live nearby, nor gave him any manner in which to contact me. I would have liked to remain a source of support; a role-model even. But I don't know that I can trust myself. There will be no end of men who will take advantage of him but I will not be one of them. I'm no saint but I'm decent enough.

The dog too, got home safe. I went to the harbour and watched the sun come up and worked through some feelings and twiddled with the guitar. Thought about writing a song about purple hoodies and green shoes and then didn't. I'm no saint. But I'm decent enough.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This blog

So I did this blog re-launch thing and then proceeded to ignore it.

Given it's been stripped of comedy and altogether latent of late, it's likely hosting very few visitors - which is fine. It's probably a good time to finally get its new gears turning while no one is around scratching their heads.

In essence its purpose remains the same: To act as a diary and to give life to the writable explorations that don't fit into current writing projects. The difference is that I won't be moved by pressure to be entertaining. In other words - by pressure to be popular.

Under the new rules I have had much blogworthy thoughts daily but I've been thinking them unappealing to the established audience. Not a very useful thought. I'm now keeping in mind the future audience: chiefly ME. And those who will care to stay in touch once I go mobile. I'm planning to move to the St. Catharines/Welland area and I'm confident that will be my last stable residence before the road becomes home.

So there.

Onward! (as Doc Lock would say.)

Saturday, May 01, 2010


Regarding the suicide attempt and the distraught friend: I'm delighted to report that the injured party is recovering from multiple injuries, having graduated from Intensive care to a ward and that the boys are still friends and visiting every other day. Hurdles remain but the biggest have been cleared.