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FEEDING MY HEAD

8 Aug

For the last couple of months, I have been spending all my spare time, hanging out in my apartment listening to music, watching my bigass tv and traveling the internet.

I love my apartment. When I first moved into it, I had no idea how long I would be able to keep it, since all I had was first, last and a month’s rent to spare. I was unemployed, over 50 and an emotional wreck. I also had tons of support from friends and two tiny black cats. I may not have any money in the bank but I have always been rich beyond words in friends and cats.

Nine or so years later and I am still in my sanctuary. A lot has happened here. The walls are filled with laughter, magick, sorrow, rebellion, perseverance, ecstasy, existential angst, dreams and, and, and.

I am trying to teach myself not to worry about losing things.

I am trying to relax in the knowledge that everything always works out for me. This is not to say that I always get exactly what I want, but the Universe has never dropped me once. And many times the Universe knew better than I did, what was good for me.

Today I am listening to some old favorites, Joni Mitchell (Ladies of the Canyons), Neil Young (After the Goldrush) and The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour). It strikes me that there are a lot of similarities in the music I loved, still love and my new music loves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Billie Eilish sounds like Joni Mitchell or The Hu sound like The Who. And I don’t even know if I could describe what it is because it’s a quality in their creativity, the risks they take, the extreme musical contrasts in their songs.

I think I have mentioned before that my taste in music is extremely eclectic. And I am not exaggerating either the extreme or cultural diversity. If my adolescence taught me anything, it was that music is a miracle drug.

When I started this adventure in solitude, it was because the world was making me crazy. Reality like most things is a social construct. We create it. And there are many realities, all forged in the image of their creators. For the most part, I have always followed my own path but occasionally, when the mainstream seems compatible I’ll ride along, kind of what people do on highways with big trucks.

The thing is that doing that is dangerous because if you don’t pay attention you can get sucked in, lose control of your vehicle, and crash. So, in essence, I pulled off the road and parked the car.

I can’t change the reality, most of the world has chosen to believe in. But I can choose to believe in my own. I may not be able to convince anyone that we can kill the monsters by refusing to be afraid of them and by not coming out to play.

I may not be able to avoid the Orcs altogether but no one can make me engage.

I just finished reading a book called “The Chocolate Cake Sutra” by Geri Larkin, a Buddhist monk who founded a Zen meditation center in the middle of Detroit’s inner city. To say it resonated with me would be an understatement. I have been studying Buddhism and Taoism for a decade and this book is the schematic for creating my counter reality and repairing any cracks that may arise from the mainstream.

I don’t know how long I will remain socially cloistered, with the exception of extraordinary events, but so far it has been invaluable.

I am extremely grateful for the life that I have lived, exactly the way it unfolded.
I am grateful for both the friends that are in my life and the ones that no longer travel with me, and even the ones I threw out of my car or vice versa.
I am grateful for my job, it has given me a platform to find myself, my creativity and my humanity.

And I am grateful for this week off, which has nurtured the writer in me.

XO

Turn Off, Tune Out and Drop In.

7 Apr

Timothy Leary’s dead but wants us all to tune out. Huey P. Newton is gone but reborn in every black activist. Abbie Hoffman is sleeping the big sleep, dreaming about the kids of Parkland . Che Guevara is ghost riding to all the revolutions. Emma Goldman is haunting the bourgeoisie, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Quanah Parker and Mike Mitchell have risen up to stand with the water protectors. Rebels never really die. Unless, like faeries you cease to believe in them.

I would rather fight for a billion seemingly hopeless causes than settle for what I am being given, out of fear, that it could be worse.

IF YOU DON’T DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND, IT WILL ALWAYS GET WORSE.

There is no such thing as benevolent corruption, or even a little corruption. Once rot sets in it doesn’t just stay in one tiny area of the apple, it takes it all.

Given the choice would you rather have e coli or salmonella? They both have the potential to kill you if you give them the power to take over. But this is not really a huge problem in Toronto because we have health inspectors who make sure that we are safe from this type of corruption. Any place that serves prepared food will be shut down, or branded with a red sign in the window. And there is a hotline for citizens to report any establishment, that they find suspect.

But when it comes to politicians, once they are party leaders, or god forbid actually voted in, they are there for their complete term.

If you have a mayor who is smoking crack (with video evidence) and partying with sex trade workers in City Hall, there is nothing in place, so that you can fire him.

If the leader of a country is putting undue pressure on the AG, to smooth the path legally to support something he wants, and not only does she refuse, but she stands up, it’s just business as usual, and besides the opposition is way worse. If he campaigned on promises of Truth and Reconciliation, transparency, electorate reform and has back peddled, if not tossed out all of these things, it’s okay because the opposition is way worse. And besides there are so many more horrendous things happening in the world.

And I’m not even going to cross the border and talk about the shit show that is the U.S. But I will say one thing, if Hillary had been President, I highly doubt that the Democratic Party would have the new face it has now.

I am not afraid of change. I am terrified of the status quo. To me there is very little difference between the Conservatives and Liberals. They are just the extreme ends of the same thing. They are both in the pockets of the Oligarchy the only difference is that the Liberals are selling us out more gradually, unless of course you are First Nations, and then they will sit in your teepee, appropriate your culture, and happily wear a headdress as they hand you a bottle of water, while they are plotting to take whatever you have left.

And social media is one of their greatest weapons. Most of those leftist memes you post are coming from alt right orgs. designed to keep you in terrified despair. Not to mention the fact that as long as you are busy sharing all those cleverly worded memes, that so exactly express how you feel about any given issue, or are the confirmation of your biggest fears, you are not out there doing anything.

We are about to have an election here in Canada. And for the second time in a row, most of the people I know, are hysterically posting everything they can find to get people to vote Liberal, so that the real evil will not get in. Although there is a third party in Canada, everyone is busily insisting that they can’t possibly get in, thereby guaranteeing that they don’t have a chance. It is an exact replay of the last election.

And I, just like I did last time, will vote NDP. I will always vote NDP until we get an official Social Democrat, Socialist or even Communist party, or until they become assimilated into complete centrism and then I will decline my vote, this is my line in the sand.

Revolt Don’t Vote

24 Mar

#burnitdown #takemetoprom #gonewriting #endcapitolism #revoltdon’tvote #blackcats #nojusticenopeace #respectuntoothers

As you can see from the hashtags, this post is going to be an impromptu road trip and I am in charge of the music.

A person’s taste in music says a lot about them, at least it does to me. It tells me if they are clinging to their glory days, alt-right, rigid, trying desperately to be young, explorers, sexually free, hungry for knowledge or following in their parents footsteps.

My musical tastes are so varied there would never be enough room to list them all and they grow every day.

I got my first radio when I was 5. My mother covered it in this vinyl, that looked like white marble shot with gold, to go with my room, and tuned it to CHUM, the #1 Toronto rock station of the time. My favourite song was Bachelor Boy by Cliff Richard. Now I listen to Hendrix, Japanese punk (Phew, Aunt Sally), film soundtracks, classical, jazz, traditional Arabic, OG Rap,Indie music and much, much more.

With the exception of most contemporary gay men, I can talk about music with almost anyone in the world. Which leads me to something I recently realized and consider really important.

I believe, with everything in my being, that it is vital that we find out everything we can about the culture of every country, especially those constantly in the news or alternative news sources. With music, it doesn’t matter necessarily, if you understand the words, many times you get the emotion from the music and singer. There is a library website called Kanapy that has thousands of films and documentaries that you can watch for free, if you have a library card, I search for books, whenever I go to the library, that are written by authors from all over the world, writing about their cultures and histories and I google and research places and people. It also helps that I live in a culturally diverse city so I have many opportunities to talk to people and experience food, music, art etc. from everywhere. I want to live in a big world, I want to see and experience this world any way I can.

And since I started doing this, I realized that I no longer see the world as “us and them”. When I hear news about Iran, Beijing, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Russia, the Philippines, the Inuit or other First Nations people, I have an empathetic connection.

A year and a half ago, or maybe it just feels like that, I took part in a documentary directed by an incredibly brilliant, young director named Andrew Moir. It’s called Take Me To Prom https://youtu.be/IQy3pxI-UX8.

I am incredibly proud of this short doc and thrilled that it is premiering at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival. But even more importantly, working with such a professional group of young film makers and artists was mind opening and has given me a reason to hope.

My generation has been blamed for the destruction of the world. For a while I took this quite personally because I was a Hippie; Abbie Hoffman, The Black Panthers, Angela Davis, Che Guevara, Mike Mitchell and all the other Mohawk rebels that took the Cornwall bridge and fought so that First Nations people would never pay tolls, all influenced my life and even to this day, belief system. I marched against Viet Nam, sheltered draft dodgers, stood up against racism, and fought for every aspect of freedom, from the individual to the masses. I have never been or supported capitalism, the police and have always believed that our school system is primarily a tool to brainwash us into perpetuating white supremacy and capitalism.

My point here is that the Boomer generation was at war with itself. And I believe that it is the same in all generations. I don’t know why we find the need to label and pigeonhole everything and everyone. Millennials are not all needy, whiny, dependent, with no attention span. Gen. X are not all Yuppies who only cared about the investment value of everything. For every single generation, there was, and is, and will be, an opposing side. Ever since the dawn of time, we have been trying to define and label everything in the simplest of terms and it doesn’t work. We can’t control existence through dogma, there will always be millions and millions of us that defy definition. And that is a fucktabulous thing.

I am working on a show right now that deals with labels, generations, toxic masculinity, gender evolution, the tyranny of political correctness, empathy etc. in a dark comedy for two people. Each actor gets to play about nine characters each. Writing it is challenging but I am finding, that when I’m most challenged, the universe steps in and shows me someone who is exactly the embodiment of a certain character, or the perfect situation to play with an issue.This is one of three projects, I have on the go. There is a book of short stories following the adventures of two women outlaws, fighting to bring the world back from the ashes of the oligarchy, set in the near future. And a really experimental piece, a friend and I are writing, that pretty much defies any kind of description, that involves the supernatural and masks.

My best friend is a black cat named Sid. In November, we suffered a huge loss, when my other best friend,, and Sid’s brother Mick died. In case you are wondering Sid (Vicious) Mick (Jagger). Sid and Mick had been together since birth so I was really concerned about Sid, when Mick passed suddenly from pulmonary oedema, caused by an undetected heart condition. I didn’t know if Sid would be depressed by Mick’s loss, if he would want a friend. I knew he would look for him, so I left every door, cupboard, drawer open, in the apartment for three days.

After a month or so I noticed that Sid was actually adapting quite well to being an only cat. He obviously didn’t want a friend, but he was bored.

Contrary to popular belief cats do not just eat, sleep and ignore people unless that is the way you bring them up. So I bought him a cat tree that goes from ceiling to floor with four alternating shelves that are big enough to lie on and climb up but only take up 24 inches at their widest point, in a very tasteful charcoal grey. Now when I come home he greets me from the top of his tree and turns a couple of wild circles around it before demanding to be snuggled.

I still miss Mick a lot, he was my tv watching buddy, my sleepy time teddy bear and a unique character, but Sid and I will go it together.

At the beginning of this post I talked a lot about the activism in my past, so you may think those days are over for me. They aren’t, but the way I protest is different now. I don’t march because there are too many rules within the left, regarding marches. And there’s nothing empowering or enjoyable about being bossed around by a bunch of white, academic people. I attend and support as much theatre, art, music, cuisine etc. that is produced by and represents different culture than what I was brought up with. I try to shop in small independent businesses and never in places that have self serve cash outs. I refuse to give corporations more money by allowing them to eliminate more jobs. I vote for candidates that represent the working class and care about human rights. Granted this is getting harder and harder in North America. In all honesty I wish people would refuse to vote altogether until we have political parties that actually represent the interests of the people and not just the 1%. I do stand up to police, who I feel are harassing the homeless or POC. I will never buy government grown marijuana. I send money to animal sanctuaries. And I refused to bring a child into this world.

I don’t know what the future will bring. There are days when I believe with utmost certainty, there will be no future. I have always believed that those cave drawings of astronauts, they keep saying are proof of aliens, are actually us. That we have evolved and destroyed our world over and over again.

Most of the adults alive right now are completely fucked, however the kids are all right. I would be more optimistic if we gave all of the power to them. And let them burn away the centuries of rot we are founded on. And yes I sound cynical but truthfully I believe we could all live in utopia if we could just let go of all the brain washing and miseducation and open our hearts to the concept of respect and justice for all. There is enough to give everyone a decent life. Why do people support the rights of a few over the rights of the many? It can be whatever we want it to be. It’s our choice.

Ramble On… but not the Led Zeppelin Version

11 Mar

Is it just me, or does everybody have those moments, when they notice something they consider outrageous and wonder when it happened, only to find out it was 5 years ago?

This Friday I went to Metro to buy a few things I can’t get where I work and noticed signs at all the cash lines that actually have people… I won’t go to an auto checkout line, I will not help corporations make more money by using tech to eliminate jobs, these signs were proudly announcing that these cashiers all had their Smart Serve. I asked why? She said it was because they were selling beer and it was the law.

So my first thought was “When did Ford privatize selling beer in Ontario? And what else is he sneaking through that nobody knows about, child marriages? And the second was..”Why? They aren’t drinking in the store. It’s not like they have to cut them off.”

I found myself saying all this out loud and drawing the guy standing beside me into it. He felt that it was all part of the over certification problem plaguing modern society. I added that it was discrimination against ESL employees.

All the way home I was pissed, it is getting harder and harder for me to enjoy the world I am living in. Every time I turn around I feel like there are more rules, more certificates we need, that we have to pay for, in order to qualify for minimum wage jobs.

I get to my building and ask a neighbour when they started selling beer in grocery stores and they looked at me kind of funny and said “I don’t know, two years ago.” I looked it up, it was 2015. I burst out laughing. How the hell did I miss that? Do I insulate myself that much? Is it because I don’t drink beer?

WAS THIS A GERIATRIC MOMENT?!!!!!

Or is it just that there is so much, happening so quickly, all the time, that it is impossible to keep up?

Basically I’m okay with admitting when I’m wrong, but I am finding it disconcerting to discover that almost anything that you believed would always be a fact, can, be erased in the blink of an eye. I did not take it well when Pluto lost its planet status. And even though I think it got reinstated, it doesn’t feel the same now.

I can’t believe that after centuries of studying how our conscious and unconscious works, Freud, Jung, Adler… psychiatry in this country has been reduced to pharmaceuticals and if you need talk therapy you now see a psychologist or a social worker and you pay for it.

I thank every deity in the universe, that I had therapy before that happened. In fact it was this very thought that led me to realize that regardless of what happens to me, it always works out. I am a very lucky person.

Random Shiz

24 Feb

I thought I’d write a post about the stuff that goes on in my brain during an average week. I am not a linear thinker so if you are, this post might make you crazy. This does not mean that I shun logic and let emotions rule my life. Nor does it mean that I am scattered, it just means that the path I choose to take up the mountain may be completely unpredictable.

I have never been a predictable person. Don’t ever try and finish my sentences because the odds are a million to one you do not know what I am about to say and if you try this more than once in the course of a conversation, I will stop talking altogether.

I never understand why peeps want to do this anyway. Do they believe that if they are able to finish your sentences, you are soul mates?

I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother because I am relating more and more to her now and I really miss her.

Nana and I had a complicated relationship, even before the days of “it’s complicated”. I hated her, resented her, ran to her with tears streaming down my face when I was hurting, screamed at her when I was angry, hid behind her when I was scared… she loved me unconditionally.

Growing up, I never knew that my mother had Borderline Personality Disorder. It didn’t reveal itself to me, until my grandmother moved in with us, after my grandfather died. And even then I didn’t know what it was, I just knew that my mother was a completely different person. She was cruel, withdrawn and occasionally in the middle of the night she would attempt suicide.

But this is not a post about my childhood or my mother being crazy, this paragraph is by way of explaining why I behaved the way I did with Nan.

Looking back on it all, I think my grandmother was the strongest person I have ever known. She was devastated by her husband’s death, her daughter went off the rails and her granddaughter blamed her for everything that was happening. And on top of everything, her world was changing in ways that horrified her. It was the 60’s and just like her family, everything was spinning out of control. Everything she loved was either disappearing or lashing out. And everyday she woke up and faced it like it was a new day, she never held grudges and was always there for me, always.

It took me a long time and many years of saying that I raised myself, before I realized that I had an incredible mother in my Nan.

So here I am in 2019, around the same age as Nana was in the 60’s and my world is disappearing just like hers did. Everything my peers (hippies) fought for has been rolled back or is under attack. And I am spending a lot of time reminiscing about the times I have lived in.

I think everyone hits a point in their life where they look back and decide that they are glad they were born when they were.

I love it when I get a memory of my past that’s so clear, it’s like time travel. Everything resurfaces, emotions, taste, smell, sounds, the way things felt as I touched them or they touched me.

The time my father made a chocolate malt cake and we ate it and drank orange pop while watching Them, a movie about giant ants that invade LA and terrorize everyone, especially me at the age of 5. Daddy fell asleep. I continued to watch till the ants were destroyed and America was safe. That movie gave me two things; nightmares that would last for months and a love of horror movies.

The night I left home when I was 16 and I stopped off at Shoppers World (the teen hangout in Brampton) to say a final farewell to my friends and ended up talking to a guy that was in my homeroom class that I didn’t know. He was a greaser, black leather jacket, slicked back hair, hung out with Satan’s Choice and he was trying to convince me not to leave home. He started telling me all about his life and how leaving home young changes you. I argued that he didn’t know me or my situation and that he should respect my freedom of choice. He argued back, saying that I didn’t know him or anything about him. I said “I know exactly who you are. You’re a boy from the past.” He broke down crying.

I was thinking about my job as a singing waiter at a restaurant, I can’t even remember the name of, during the time I was taking acting classes with Ken Gass at George Brown and dance classes at Toronto Dance Theatre during my first year in Toronto when my rent was 165.00 a month. Rene Highway (the most beautiful human who ever existed) smiling at me because of the conversation I was having with a possessive guy about the black leather pants I was going to buy at Le Chateau.

Occasionally a not so pleasant memory will surface but I no longer have any emotional attachment to those, beyond the lessons that they taught.

I’m like that. Like my grandmother actually, no matter what I am going through, I will work on it until I can let it go. There’s a lot of truth in the expression “No Justice. No Peace.” It may take decades but I persevere until it no longer disrupts my groove.

It’s no secret that I’m a social democrat. I believe that people are more important than money. I don’t give a fuck about the deficit. In fact I don’t believe that social programs cause it, I believe that bureaucracy and corruption does. I believe in neighbourhoods not the right of “richer than God” people to be able to displace thousands of lives just because they want something. I believe we have a drug crisis because governments are taking away any vestige of hope that people with lower incomes have in a future, instead of working on trying to help them find one. Hell there are times when the future looks so bleak to me that I can’t wait to come home and spark up. It makes me crazy that people can effectively blank out the living hell that is happening all around them to people, because it is not happening to them. And being white these things have only been apparent in the last 4 years, POC have lived this forever. Their strength blows my mind.

So I have this game, where I try and find good things that have come in spit of all these things that I hate. One of these things is H Mart. They are a chain of Korean grocery stores that have popped up all over Yonge street that have a ton of inexpensive pre-made Korean food and lots of produce and grocery items to make Asian food. I love the Pork and Kimchi dumplings. I make it a habit to hang out in places that can’t ever be torn down to build condos like the AGO, ROM, heritage properties, new neighbourhoods that actually have character like Cork Town and the Distillery. I immerse myself in the arts especially those created by true independents. Of course what I really need to do is immerse myself in writing a book based on a world I would love to be living in. Especially since I have worked out everything I need to start it. The only routine I am good at beyond work, is no routine.

It has been well over 6 months since I got rid of my cell phone. It has been the most liberating thing I have done in a long time. It is a revolutionary act on my part. I did not want to carry a device on my person that authority could send messages, alerts etc.through. And the fact that they gave us no choice in the matter made me wonder what else they were or might start to do. I am not a big conspiracy theory person but it isn’t much of a leap to go from the connecting of everyone’s cell phones to Big Brother or a Dr. Who episode that deals with mind control (jokes).

Remember when you didn’t have to tell people you were joking?

Anyway this has been my brain during the week of Feb. 18-24 2019. What’s been going on in your brain? #socialism #hippies #writing #revolutionforthehellofit #anti-capitalist #freethought

Dying By The Seat Of My Pants

12 Feb

I have never been afraid to die. Not when my stepfather threatened to kill me, not when a jealous ex-boyfriend held me over the side of a balcony 15 stories from the ground and not even when I flung myself out of a truck going 80 on the 401, because some things are worse than death. In fact a lot of things are and not to be overly dramatic but I have experienced a lot of them, so for me death was always an option, not my go to choice but maybe my plan z.

For example, nine years ago I was prepared to take an overdose of heroin because there was a very real possibility I was going to be homeless and I don’t have the courage to live on the streets.

Quite recently my attitude changed. It happened when David Bowie died. I’m not sure why, but after listening to his final album with the understanding that it truly was his final album and that he had recorded it knowing that these were his last words musically, perhaps even creatively… his goodbye was a meticulously brilliant communication.

Actually I do know why. I realized that I haven’t planned anything. If I die tonight, I don’t have any money saved up to deal with the disposal of my body, and who would take my cats?

I’m still not afraid to go, but I am terrified of leaving a big mess. And I am afraid that being sixty-three and not having a good income, I will not be able to do anything to rectify it in the time I have left.

Now I know you are all thinking “Marc, you’re a writer/performer. Why don’t you just put on a show? Raise the money that way. It should be easy, you are the queen of dark comedy… or do a Go Fund Me.”

I actually have seen Go Fund Me posts on Facebook for people’s funerals. And when I saw them I thought, ‘no way, can you raise enough money’, because for some reason, I thought death was prohibitively expensive.

I was under the impression that with the exception of an unmarked grave, thanks to the City of Toronto’s poverty plan, that anything else would be at least five thousand. This is a myth likely started by those in the death biz. You can actually be picked up, cremated and put in a cardboard box for $1449.00. This also covers your death certificate, but no copies, and no delivery of your remains. If your friends want you, they have to pick you up.

Now if you don’t think cardboard becomes you, you can buy a tasteful brass urn for 125.00 or have your ashes put in a clay container that holds what will grow into a tree which really appeals to me except for the fact that it doesn’t hold all your ashes. What happens to the rest of them?

1500. to 1700 is affordable. I have at least 3 times that limit on my credit card, credit card I got ironically for travel.

So I likely will do a show to raise money for my death. In fact I might as well start promoting that now. You’ll all come right?

Now I just have to come to terms with the fact that I will have no control over my memorial. This is hard because I have a very clear vision and nobody is going to be able to do my memorial as well as I could.
#death #thelastlaugh #killingjoke #writing #thefinalchapter

And Now For Something Completely Different…

6 Feb

On days like this
I forget who I am
A regret caught in my throat
A reflection of surrender
In my rear view mirror

Too old
Too late
Too tired
Too far behind to catch up

My laurels, an imprint
I’ve rested so long
My disrepute, mere fragments
I’ve fallen so hard

Too beat
Too angry
Too blue
Too heavy with doubt to rise above it

On nights like this
I wear my brightest lipstick
And try hard to remember
Who I was.

#randompoem #writerwriting #blues #word