The Forefathers, Recoiling Democracy and The Lost Art of Critical Thinking

I was thinking about the framers of the American Constitution earlier this evening.

It never occurred to me how in one sitting in one particular era how many men of pure genius were gathered. Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin all these men were literate men of the highest degree.

Jefferson may have been a yeoman and Hamilton a Federalist but they were my kind of yeoman and federalist. Reading that incredibly and enlightened (almost spooky in its predictions) document fills me with rage and sadness. Where do you see such men these days? The whole idea of America has been hijacked. The very things that the forefathers sought to guard against has emerged to rip apart American democracy - special interest, rampant corporations, military complex etc. No one is checking and balancing anything these days. Michael Moore may see himself as a dissenter or patriot but he's more like what the forefathers were trying to guard against.

People and citizens alike simply can't tell their elbows from their asses, fiction from history and reality anymore. We live in a strange prism of dead intellectualism where the patients have taken over the asylum. People are fond of reading the forefathers but do they comprehend?

Can we be saved?


Lance Armstrong is not the Greatest Cyclist

I overheard a sports radio commentator talking about Lance Armstrong's legacy. Of course, in all our North American parochialism, there's a tendency to assume Armstrong dominates cycling and from that point forward we try to fit him in the pantheon of dominant athletes.

In a similar vain, never a conversation goes by without mentioning David Beckham in such debates. Why I'm not sure as he has never been considered a dominant soccer player. A highly visible and talented one yes, but way too one-dimensional to be ranked in a top 10 or 20 or 50 list. He'd be hard press just by Brazilian midfielders alone. Beckham is popular and popularity should have no bearing on how we judge an athlete's record. Back to Armstrong.

To begin, these debates are always flawed as comprehensive parameters usually eludes any discussion on such matters. Without getting into the details of what criteria one should follow when determining a sport and its most dominating athletes (it varies from sport to sport, decade to decade as sports tend to evolve), it's clear, when assessing the record, that Armstrong is not the greatest cyclist of all-time. He's arguably the most dominant TOUR DE FRANCE cyclist. In fact, he was probably a more well-rounded rider than Eddy Merckx in that he was as dominant in the mountains as he was in the sprints.

By saying he's the greatest cyclist is like saying a tennis player is the greatest player ever with winning only,for example, Wimbledon. The fact is that we generally look at overall titles and how that tennis player did in the other Majors (U.S., Australian and French) to determine where they may be placed for posterity. How "complete" was his game is far more subjective to consider....as is the case with most sports. Hence the colorful debates.

It's the same in cycling. Cycling's biggest three races are the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta d'Espana. The Tour de France may be considered the biggest prize but it's by no means the hardest. Plus, UCI rankings are calculated to determine who are the world champions at the end of each cycling year - a list dominated by Belgium and Italy. So where does Lance rank? Let us delve into the murky world of past champions.

Lance Armstrong has an unprecedented 7 TDF titles. He has 1 World Championship title under his belt. How does this compare to some of the most highly regarded cyclists of all time?

Eddie Merckx is easily the greatest and most dominant cyclist in history as his 5 TDF, 5 Giros and 1 Vuelta show. That's 11 GRAND TOURS. He also has 3 World titles. Bernard Hinault is not far behind with 5 TDF, 3 Giro's and 2 Vuletas or 10 Grand Tours. He too has 1 World title. Jacques Anquetil has 8 Grand Tours. 5 TDF, 2 Giro's and 1 Vuelta. He does not have a World title to his name. Miguel Indurain won 5 TDF and 2 Giro's for 7 Grand Tours. Fausto Coppi won 2 TDF, 4 Giro's and a World Title. Gino Bartali 2 TDF and 2 Giro's. Alfredo Binda may have only won 5 Giro's but he was World Champion 3 times.

So, Lance lies somewhere in between these legendary cyclists. I'm sure there are others that should be considered. An argument can be made that he can be placed as high as second. However, he will not make many lists in first place.

In North America, he is definitely this continent's greatest cyclist. Greg LeMond for his part won 3 TDF and a World Title (he also placed third one year in the Giro). In any case, given what I showed above, Lance does not belong among the pantheon of great dominant athletes like Ruth ,Jordan and Gretzky (but to name a few).

However, he may one day crack someone's top 10 and should make a top 20 list.


New Organization Hopes to Educate World

Robert Uggiyuggi is President of a new democratic organization that wants to change the world. "We just don't feel Americans deserve the Constitution." The goal for Mr.Uggiyuggi is to take America to court to remove the Constitution from its shores and bring it to a neutral place. Where? "Europe. Most likely France." When asked if Americans should be consulted he said they should not as "they simply are too indifferent and ignorant to take part. We feel it should be left to more mature societies to decide." And what are the organizations ultimate goals and objectives? "To educate the world about America." He continued "we don't feel history books reflect the truth, hence our values about America. We encourage people to seek the true way....as long as it's according to our guidelines." He was later asked if that falls dangerously close to indoctrinization and revisionism he replied "if it's the truth so be it." You can contact Mr. Uggiyuggi or vice-President Mrs. Yolanda Fritter at 232-334-3665 (Fool).

Disassociated Press


Guest Comment on The Commentator's Comment Blog

I'm Canadian. I just checked my passport...it's not worth much. Mine has a dead clubbed seal on the cover with me smiling over the carcass holding a Tim Horton's hot chocolate with a thumbs up. I put it on, you know, for fun. The passport agency was not amused. Neither was Tim Horton's and their daddy Wendy's. I wrote back to Tim Horton's and Wendy's and told them they should invent a special decadent deluxe doughnut burger. I don't know how they could do this but I would call it the Wendy Horton's 'Piece of shit roll up to rim my ass classic burger'.

By Cutter Yoully

Note from The Commentator: Those opinions expressed are not necessarily reflective of any views of this pathetic blog. Besides, I can't afford to hire anyone better.

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Max: Naturally, Culturally and Structurally Unemployed

My cholesterol level remains persistent. I work-out and if I eat any more purely I will shit nothing but leaves the rest of my life. My stool will be as mustard as a new born's. The thing that pisses me off about this whole thing is twofold. One, I have to take pills (placebo effect?) because it's hereditary and two, everyone I talk to is a fucking genius and expert on cholesterol. Clogged arteries, heart attacks, bad cholly (as I call it) and good cholly. Did you ask your doctor this question and that question. Fuck off, the plain truth is that we don't know what causes cholly and what keeps it in check. Of course, some nut homo-path always has the secret concoction to cure your ailment with their bullshit. "Eat this garlic-yogourt bar for 30 days and you will see how conventional medicine doesn't work." It's like having to listen to idiots comment on whatever you eat. "Ooo, cereal. Carbs. Not good." What are these people babbling about? Kiss my unemployed ass and let me eat my Fruit Loops in peace while reading 'Archie'.

I tried to put my pantry in order again. It seems whenever I do so, it gets disorganized within a week. It's like little evil nomes go inside and dance all over it. I get so confused with all the cans, boxes, shapes and sizes. Nothing fits in an orderly fashion. Cream style corn, granola bars, balsamic vinegar...I don't know anymore. Why must life be so hard?

I went to my friends Baptism course today. I was bored. Anyway, I never realized how much I forgot about Christianity. I actually liked it. Except for the assholes who kept pretending to be smart by asking the most retarded questions. One guy asked the Sister "Miss, just for fun, how many seats does the Church have?" The Sister was stunned. His wife chuckled as if it was cute. Jeebs, who was with us looked at her and said "Don't giggle, your every bit as stupid if not dumber because you produced a child with this waste of space and time." I told Jeebies he was crazy. "What? I didn't even swear!"

Speaking of Jeebies, he was the son of actors so it explains a lot, I think his frontal brain is out of order. Apparently that part of the brain controls your inhibitions or lack thereof in his case. We were at a Mass for a funeral and not surprisingly Jeebies manages to entertain and embarrass at the same time. First of all, he came late and I noticed him coming from behind as he looked for us but he tripped and fell. He disappeared for 5 seconds and suddenly and slowly his eyes began to emerge. It was straight out of a B-flick. Later on in the Mass, we had to shake hands in peace with our respective neighbours. Generally, the protocol is E-W-N-S and that's it. Well after everyone is done this important but hardly observed ritual, Jeebies is still shaking hands like he's in a club.

We went outside. I looked up at the beautiful sky and wondered where the hell I'm going. Not then and there but down the road. NO sense in getting down on myself. My spirit and hopes remain high....for now.


A Colloguy

**Warning**Explicit Language**

There isn't any courtship and chivalry anymore and this bothered Barry. Those concepts have been completely weeded out in today's sexually saturated world. "Everything is freakily fucking upside down" asserts Barry rather sheepishly. "Date? Nah, the girl wants straight to anal. No time for one guy" while his buddy Strange Stu listened.

"A girl once told me 'I'm a cock a day girl'. Could you believe that shit?" Strange Stu just nods like a retard.

"These gals are all about the advertisement between the lines. Everywhere you go it's people selling themselves via skimpy skanky clothing and ugly over blown tattoos. Just the other day a BANK TELLER, one of the most conservative institutions around, had a tank top and a tattoo plastered on her lower back. I asked where the fucken pole was. Call me old-fashioned but it's just plain not classy."

He pauses and looks at a passing city bus filled with immigrants and continues. "Fuck, when did we start accepting those Jawas?" "What?" asks Strange Stu. "Mooslims. They're little dark suspicious eyes remind me of the Cantine bar in Star Wars." Stu answers "Around the mid-90s". "What the fuck do they want? Don't they hate us?" Barry asks.

Stu interjects "You know what I hate? I was on a blind date and the girl didn't know who Billie Holiday was. I can't have that shit."

Barry blurts "I never understood the tattoo behind the shoulder. What happens if you marry a dignitary and have to wear a backless gown at a classy affair? I guess the girls who do it figure they will never attend such an affair. Or worse, they think it's no big deal. Newsflash, it does. It changes the complete look. Pick up any magazine and it's one more shocking sexual revelation after another. No wonder some girls lives read like a 'BJ and the Bathroom' porn flick. They are conditioned to line-up the boys and well, you know."

"Barry's soliloquoy." Stu dead-pans. "Solilo-what?" Barry asks. Strange Stu looks off in the distance and answers "You know, a rant only Shakespearean?" "That fucking plagarist?" Barry asks. "Where did you read that?" Stu retorts. "I read it somewhere. Apparently he was more a businessman than writer. He probably ripped off some humanist wop or that unknown Christopher Marlowe." "Bope."

The traffic passes them by. Barry continues,"These days everyone has an opinionated opinion and gets paid for it. Why shouldn't we? We're making god dang sense, no?"

Stu gives Barry a gesture. "Look at that broad, er chick. What's the pc term for cunts these days?" Stu looking at the girl's legs "Don't know, but I would not mind being wrapped by those stunning sticks."

"Everyone is smarter than you today. More important. Today, girls think like guys. In fact, the guys want to 'get to know' the girl and it's the girl who scoffs it off. "Spend time? Kidding right? I got 3 guys in-line. Are you in or out? In fact, I may as well do all three at the same time. I can't fuck a girl with another cock touching mine. It's not right, Stu. Then, they want the door held for them. It's just not right, Stu. They want to be a whore and classy at the same time."

They notice a person holding a door for someone. Barry looks at Stu amazed "Did you see that? One guy decides to be civil and hold the door for a tide of people and not one 'thank you'? There's no civility anymore. Assholes."

"Maybe he didn't want a 'thank you'the gesture was enough."

"My ass, Stu. It's like when you come out of an elevator or a subway and the people push you back and don't give you a chance to get out. OUT BEFORE IN you untamed outback creatures. People keep busting my fucking balls."

Barry reasserts his rant about women, "Somewhere deep down they really think they are hip and cool. What, with role models like Madonna, J-Ho and the many mainstream porn stars it's no wonder. We live in times where morality is secondary. My morality is not yours."

"Nice flute there baby, now come here and let me stick it up your ass." Phrtt, phrtt." "You're one sick dude, Stu."

Barry sighs and takes a deep breath "Watching a porn one gets the feeling what's next? She just 'did' 12 guys and dp'd all of the them sticking it in every burrow available. I can just see the director "Ok, good job, Jessica. Get the cow! Hon, here's another stick of coke. Everyone's doing it. Get with the 21st century, bitch."

"Yeah, they all want to become school teachers after they're done. As if there are no consequences for their actions."

"You got it, Stu. Then they wonder why society shuns them. I dunno, maybe because you fucked cockeyed hairy black Asian dwarfs for a living? Now you want to teach phonics? Get the fuck outta here. Blow me."

They share a laugh and Barry furthers the discussion "Sex is stripped down to the bones, excuse the pun. I don't need pizza. Just straight to the ass. No money down. It's like buying a mortgage at low interest rates. But there are risks and consequences, not that they are taught this. Wait, wait when interest rates go up or the next sexual disease that ravages through. Then it will be a whole new live fucking aid world concert again. Give us money to save the horny nymphos! You are not accountable for your actions! It's the fault of the Church! You are just exercising your leisurely rights! Everything has to come fast and furious to meet our increasingly impossible objectives. There just isn't any time for the finer things anymore. A poem for a girl? Fuck that, I'll stick it in her ass."

"Weren't the Ancient Greeks and Romans horny partying animals?"

Coming out of the store was a lady of great beauty. "Hi, fellas." She turns and looks at Barry and winks.

"Well, hello there. Find what you were looking for?"

"Now I have."

A few more words and numeric values were exchanged and she escorted herself into her Hummer.

With a piece of paper in his hands, Barry watches the vehicle drive off and asks Stu, "Pick you up at 7?"

"Yeah, see you later."

The two go off silently into opposite directions into nowhere. Into a world different from theirs. They are mild anti-heroic misfits in a world of assfuckers.


Nations Fighting Islamic Terrorism Need France on Side

Run by elitist socialists, France is not a popular nation in conservative circles around the world these days. Nonetheless, to dismiss them on the fight against terror based on stereotypes is a faulty route to follow.

This aside, militarily France has much to offer in the fight against terrorism. France is a country that takes its historical heritage seriously and will do anything to preserve its legacy. France seems like a hypocritical country because it has mastered the art of Machiavellian politics. Where American hypocrisy lays in their inability to act like an empire proper, France's hypocrisy lays in its inability to come to terms that it is no longer one.

Their musings to flex their muscles on the world stage was, in part, to exert their independence of American foreign policy and sovereignty. Behind the scenes, however, France is much more astute and pragmatic, and has the exact same interest as America. True, the French have often acted on its own interests (self-interest tends to do that to people) against the benefits of their allies but they are still crucial in this game.

France is a like an actor when it comes to the international stage. They know how to play the game and are more adept at it than the Americans who give the impression of awkwardness in playing similar games.

During the Iraq debate, France simply over played their rhetorical hand. American power is what matters now. The sooner they can come to terms with this the sooner we can convince them to close ranks. .

What the rest of the world needs is France to join their fight and to state this frankly and publicly. Rather than chastise the U.S. and her allies they need to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

Why? France faces serious terrorist threats itself and are perhaps the most advanced country in combating terrorism. French elite commando forces are among the best in the world- and the most lethal.

France doesn't mess around with terrorists. I witnessed this first hand in Paris in 1994 when terrorists took a plane hostage Christmas eve. The government dispatched special forces units within an hour and gave orders to storm the plane. They got the job done and it made me proud to have been on French soil for that incident.

French laws are unambiguous towards terrorists. Theydo not accord the privilege the rest of its law-abiding citizens enjoy of civil law. They will arrest, detain and interrogate any suspects on the slightest of evidence. Why treat terrorists who do not acknowledge our legal practices to begin with any rights? Here in North America and Britain, we seem to observe human rights accords more tightly even for people who shun any document of civility the world has drawn up.

Remaining fixated on the Great Wars is also a little misleading if not unfair. France was on the downside of its greatness by 1914 and were psychologically unprepared for those wars. They impractically relied on the spirit of the French warrior to come and rise up. There was no Charlemagne or Napoleon to save them.

Plainly put, the world needs France fight the scourge of our times. It certainly can't hurt.

Ephemeral Reflections

First Draft

An inconsequential spot on my shoe hypnotically expends my attention. It's funny or sad, depending on how you look at life, how accoutrements of any value tend to superficially attract special attention. I look around and come to a realization. A fork in the road if you will.

"Why hasn't anything gone according to plan for me?" I'm not sure what the connection was with my shoe but revelations apparently hit us when we least warrant them.

"Man, all this time strutting around aimlessly like a useless blue-tongued skink kidding myself into accepting that I've learned to cope with my bad fortune." Today is different. Yes sir - or ma'am - today is the day I make a change. I ignore the spot and tie my shoes.

In energetic steps, I head to retrieve the mail. Another rejection letter.

"Shoulda started earlier. I shoulda listened to myself."

Now there's a game one should avoid - The shoulda game.

My grade school teacher Mr. Roth was always fond of saying "It's all about planning, kids." That mantra was drilled into you right up to high school. That a 16 year-old should know what they wanted to do with their life at such a stupid age escaped me at the time.

In any case, I was fucked before the game even started if Mr. Roth was right. I was never much of a planner. There is a planning gene I am sure. But spontaneity is my gig. Insomniacs don't have much patience for planning. But this is a mere hiccup to me. I could not be bothered with the planning of my soul.

An objective of mine in life, from an early age, was to play hardball in the Majors. Some people called this a dream but I saw it as a legitimate goal. I knew that the odds were stacked against anybody making the Big Leagues, let alone some kid from Montreal. I wasn't dumb. Not that my grades supported this assertion. It's gambling, lest anybody forget, on low probabilities that pay out the most. I was terrible at math. I'm still waiting.

Most people, on the other hand, in an effort to make life more balanced, live their lives based on the principles of probabilities. They make sure that the odds are always in their favor. Not me. There is no real reason for this. Some people can exact their budget to the penny. I, on the other hand, can't even spare a lousy 12 seconds to cut a "50 cents off Smucker's" coupon. Couldn't be bothered. You know what they say, a nickel here a dime there retire by 65. I don't have that kind of time to give.

I learnt to keep my hopes and dreams within the confines of my migraine-inflicted head. One gets tired of fighting the negative energies hurled upon you. "Get serious, Jimmy" was a popular phrase. In the end, it was nobody's business what I wanted. It's sad but true. Humans can be a petty and envious bunch of primates.

After my injury, I was forced to get a job. Through a family contact, I ended up in a sooty financial institution. The money was good and it was supposed to be temporary, so I traded in my beloved glove for hip ties. Crashing home plate in a meaningless game turned out to be a split-fingered fast ball into my destiny - the ultimate irony. Though my knee, that crucial joint, would never know. The surgery was a success but it was like having a lobotomy on my leg. It just wasn't the same anymore.

"God, is telling you something," my mother told me. This spiritual epitaph was confusing for a couple of reasons. The first was, if he was telling me something he was a poor communicator. Second, my mother said this because she hated sports. She was happy to see her son in a stable environment leaving home with a fucking lunch and a suit.

My mother didn't understand. Outside the diamond, I could not shake the stench of coming up short on anything I attempted. Once inside, I could do no wrong. It was as close to imagining what it must of felt like within the safe and comfortable boundaries of the womb. Baseball was indeed different in my life. I even had a nickname - The Viper - given for my lethal curve ball. It turned on you so fast it stung you. Left-handers always tend to have an edge in sports and I clearly had one in baseball.

I did not have the classic physique of a pitcher. I was bestowed with small hands, which in turn means I had small feet, which at this point is where all coincidences end. The fingers were strong enough to grip the ball so that's all that mattered. My shoulders were not imposing in their width and I used this to my advantage to hitters who did not take me seriously. Most of them learned quickly enough that I owned them. My tall and slim stature was deceiving, since I was blessed with sturdy legs that gave me the extra leverage I needed for my delivery.

"He looks like he should be wearing Lacoste shorts," I overheard one coach say a few years back.

He was right. I was probably better suited for tennis, but I felt more at home with an old leather glove beaten down with sweat, dirt and spit than a pair of Lacoste shorts. In tennis, you haughtily change your racket as quickly as you do girlfriends. In baseball, you hold on forever to the bat that spawned your first home run. My replay of my life is abruptly ended when I look down at my watch. "Shit! I'm really late now!" I glance back quickly at my place "Tidy enough."

Down on the streets, my irreverent demeanor grants me crooning status. In the investment world it rubbed people the wrong way. To me, I owned the streets - not in any legal or lustful way but more lyrically.

I could never figuratively own an investment house. One would get the sense the feeling was mutual with the neighbors and dwellers of Strada Street; a street that was once home to a strong contingent of Italians from the Mezzogiorno, was now becoming Byzantine in its cosmopolitan make-up. I was one of the last relic of a time long gone. That I was a throwback to an era long gone was obvious just by my attire. I had, without being conscious of it, two styles - one for the galaxy of high finance and one that expressed my true intentions about life. It was Zegna suits by day and converse shoes by night. Instinctively, at least in my eyes, people congregated around me as if to get a glimpse of the past.

The block maintained a certain flare and jive to it unknown to adjacent streets. Kids were part of the decorum and rooted in the architecture. One of them jumps out in front of me, freaking me out a little, "Hey, Viper, we need a coach." I look at my watch as if I have other places to go, but I run with the nipper to help his team out. Along the way Mrs. Farina, a feisty 60-something owner of a local eatery, who clearly possessed shocking beauty in her youth, tries to get a word in as I jog past. "Mr. Tardelli, don't forget about our appointment tomorrow!" "I won't, I won't. I'll be there" while running backwards, all the while the awesome tandem of her pure black hair and eclectic green eyes hypnotizing me.

I was supposed to got meet Thomas. "I'm sure Thomas won't mind. It's not like we don't see each often. I'll call him later."

When I arrived at the diamond the kids were a sad, dysfunctional bunch of isolated sandlot misfits. Their eyes popped wide open when they saw me. I can tell that the parents were pleased too. They told me so. We won 5-4. It was, as I was to find out later, their first win in two seasons. They deserved a pizza and I was more than glad to oblige them.

My place, my lifeline of sorts, was blessed in this manner. After each day from a dreaded corporate job, I would get back in touch with my senses whenever I roamed the streets. "It's a cookie-cutter world and I need to find a nano-niche." There was no better place to do this than at Yogi's.

Yogi's was a place that could not make up its mind. A pizza parlor that served fine ice-cream and imported only Irish beer, as well as special vintage Porto. To me, it was a bistro and I'm sticking to this.

The feel of a place, like a film or other forms of art, is paramount to my accepting it. The place was filled with Yogisms. One could enter the urinals and be entertained for half a minute by reading Berra's quotes. Piss, laugh and zip up.

Yogi's was owned by Mack Cianfrocco, a mulatto man of Italian heritage. His father, of course, was from Italy. Calabria to be exact. Mack loved Yogi Berra, but was a bigger hockey fan. A supreme Habs fan. Go figure. What made Yogi's, though, was its jazzy, smoky and forbidding aura. It was a throwback to the 20s and 30s. I liked that. He inherited the building and left it in its original state. With classic silent films, jazz and blues constantly showing and playing, the place was one big hommage to Americana. To top it all, major sports events always trumpeted all this. All of us who flocked to Yogi's simply adored its inconsistent personality.

The other day Mack pulled me aside. "I need you to do something for me." I stared back at him. I knew he was waiting for me to say something, but I didn't.

He continued "Could you bring this note over to the other side of town to my girlfriend? I'd put it in the mail but I don't want to risk it getting lost. It's not time sensitive but I would like for her to get it within the next few days."

"That's it? The way you approached me I thought you wanted me to deliver a 'package'.

"You wouldn't deliver a package for me?" Mack blurted out with a conniving smile.

"Why me, Mack?"

"I know you work nearby and I won't be able to get there any time soon."

"I don't get it. Why don’t you wait until you see her after work?" I persisted.

"Kid, you have a lot to learn about women." I caught on. Sort of.

"I'll deliver the note." I grabbed my dark blue coat and was off.

As I walked out Thomas spotted me and instantly cranked out

"You ginny bastard! Stand me up will ya?"

"Listen, Tom, I'm sorry. I was called in last minute to help out The Hawks." I explained.

"I have a cell, Jimmy."

"I know. Let's go to Farina's." Given the sudden change in plans I never did end up delivering the note that day, as Mrs. Farina decided to push the appointment up during my dinner with Tom. After two hours of providing financial advice, I was ready for bed. It was all worth it. It usually is when the food comes with no price tag.

The tenebrous hours brought with it, on a silver tray, the embittered reality of my affliction. A scratchy version of Erskine Hawkins 'Tuxedo Junction' original on vinyl plays in the background. Rather than soothing me, it irritated the jazz out of me. I envisioned myself throwing records against the wall. But I was endowed with too much of a tight ass for such an activity. These were expensive records after all.

There was no use in staying in. The fly on the wall was beginning to get the better of my sanity. I look in the mirror and notice my eyes are a darker shade of green. This hasn't happened in a while. I also decided that I needed a haircut. Long hair is nice but a crewcut may shake things up a little. I still feel I'm aging well. Some white hairs are beginning to infiltrate my head but this doesn't worry me. For some reason, the light scar on my eyebrow is annoying me.

Enough. "The diner calls me." I hear, figuratively of course, the sullen sounds of the streets carried forward by an exquisite yet inelastic wind. A sundry of personalities awaits me. A parliament of human owls has descended on the famous local diner. It is my turn to be a poet.

For me, one of the consequences of not sleeping for days is that when I do manage to slip in and steal a couple of hours of sleep, my mind treats me to haunting, if not downright surreal, dreams or nightmares. The impact is so great sometimes that many dreams have stayed with me until this day - as vivid as the day I dreamt them.

In one of my more absurd ones, I'm at a restaurant with two imaginary friends. The hostess politely asks " Table for one?" The tone of the question was one of those open-ended ones that allowed someone to confirm if they were in fact alone. I wasn't. I looked to my right and left. "Three," I tell her. I don't know why no one sees Dan and Gad. It's not like they're lost or imperceptible. She has a look of bewilderment but seats us nonetheless. For this I am most gracious. "Thank you, Flo. And tell Mel to speed it up." They all laugh at the off-the-cuff reference. She comes back with a menu. "Excuse me" I tell her. "We will be needing three menus. Sharing will just waste time." She responds "But... you're alone." "No I am not, Jo-Lene! Bring me three menus!" My tone softens with a dignified "Please." She returns with them. Shortly thereafter she comes back. We give our orders. I had to speak for Dan and Gad, who both went to the washroom at the same time. They always do that. It's a running joke they have. They think I don't know but they fail to assume in their buffoonery that I created them. I'm a step ahead of them today. "Dan will have the sturgeon and Gad will have the duck." They each don't like those dishes.

"Can we have some water, please?" I begin to talk to my friends, sinking in anticipation to see the look on their faces when the orders come in. A man drops a card on me. "Dr. Youp psychologist? Now that's a fifth this week!" Unfazed, we laugh, we argue, we cry. It was a perfect lunch if not for that tin toy soldier staring at me. Its gaze was beginning to warp my sense of reality. Tic? What tic? Why do I have a sudden tic? Oh, tic on my arm. I asked the waitress to move the tin solider who was by now drumming at a furious pace. She told me she could not. I tried to make the best of the situation. I slice my cantaloupe, which I pronounce cantaloop. I don't know why. I just do. Dan and Gad tell me to let it go and ignore the toy soldier, but I can't. It's just too much. I get up and walk towards the tin solider. I was a virtuous vigilante descending upon an officer in all its uniformed glory. I hack it to bits with a mini- axe I carry in my inner pocket.

I return to my table. The service is good here. The food is not bad, either.

The diner, to get back to reality, was another one of those interesting places that was owned and operated by an insomniac who opened the place to occupy his time. Mike was his name. Or was it Mick? I never seem to remember. He had pictures of famous insomniacs plastered tastefully everywhere. Groucho Marx, Joe DiMaggio, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, W.C. Fields, Franz Kafka, Alexandre Dumas and Judy Garland were reminders that even the rich and famous had hard nights.

Regardless, there is no indication that he belonged behind the counter of such an establishment. He reminded me of a mild Italian version of Woody Allen. Neurotic, witty, careless and more interested in reading King Arthurian legends. Come to think of it, his diner was a clash between 50s kitsch and a Renaissance fair. As funny as it may sound or seem, it worked. If a record would be playing it would have to be where the gyrating pelvis movement of Elvis meets the spiritual madrigal compositions by Palestrina.

The patrons in the place, I am sure, are unaware of the peculiar decor. Caught in their own oblivious vortex, nobody really makes much of an effort to know each other in the diner. Who has time for such networking anyhow? Once a person steps in they are immediately transferred metaphorically, via one of the Rivers of the Underworld, into another realm. They are taken away from the real world to which they physically exist, into one that is purely fantastical in its cartoon-like milieu. Literally, the street I am familiar with in the daytime is clearly different from the one I lurk about at night.

Talking is rare in the diner. The majority of the activity is focused on silent deafening contemplation. The only sounds heard are the ones whereby people give their respective orders. The counter in the diner is the perfect cover. You can just look ahead at the grill if you desire. No need to look to your left or right. If you do, you run the risk of catching someone's desperate eye. If that happens, you look straight into an abyss that may reflect your life. All of these minds… lost. There are indeed, I have come to realize, two versions of myself. If only everyone knew.

On this night, one person bucks the trend and solicits a conversation with me. You can tell that this guy had been places. Everyone in the diner felt his presence.

I've never seen him before. I would recollect a man wearing a sharp navy pin-stripe jacket with orange tan shoes. He looked somewhat beaten down by the years, but you get the sense that he fought this tooth and nail.

"Nice car. Sebring?" he asks.

"Yup," I respond, trying to avoid this going further.

There's no stopping this guy tonight. No sense fighting it.

"Into the classics?"

"I guess. I had a '70 Plymouth Hemicuda once."

"Whoa, what 425 horsepower?" He knew that it was a 425.

He continues. "I remember heading out to the Vineland Speedway in New Jersey years ago. As a matter of fact, I've watched them Maserati's you drive win a race at Pescara in 1954."

Great, now I was interested.

"1950s were the glory years of racing" I proclaim. "Yeah, they sure were. They were good to the Yankees and Habs also." I add, "Just like the 60s were fine to the Packers and Celtics." He laughs. "You do get it."

Just when I was beginning to be engaged, the teaser changes the direction of the conversation. He glanced at my back pocket and noticed a paper I had folded.

"What's that you're reading, son?"

Shrugging my shoulders my response is non-chalant in its delivery. "I always leave my house with reading material. It's a political and literary journal."

"Are you some sort of scholar?" he asks.

"In a sense."

"What are your thoughts about the world today as it stands?"

He is beginning to test my intellectual waters. His question is posed in such a way that one gets the feeling he has the answer figured out. I nonetheless acknowledge the question knowing full well that I could end up in a lengthy discussion.

"Funny thing is that all this reading, hours worth a day, and I still can't make sense of things. The more I know, the less I understand."

"Smart guy. Lesson #1 in life. We all know squat." He shakes his head with resignation

"It's so damn easy to be a cynic these days."

I tend to agree with him. Except I had to go to the bathroom.

"Excuse me for a minute."

Once inside the bathroom, I was treated to an argument between two guys. They seemed to be a couple. They were arguing about getting married. It seems one wanted to and the other didn't. "Welcome to hell boys," I chuckle to myself.

When I returned to the counter, the man with the piercing gray eyes was gone. I was slightly disappointed.

Life goes on. The intimate spaces carried me over to her playful smile. Not much is exchanged as she pours me coffee. I don't drink coffee, only espresso, but who's complaining at this time, in the dead of night? In the process of this routine, I stare awkwardly out into the sullied serenity of the night. Only the natural light of the moon reflects from a damp street.

I look back at her and say, "I'll have the Diner special" in the manner of a hardened man. Except, I'm not all that hardened and there is no diner special at 3am. She snaps me out of my mild trance.

"You're cute but your eyes aren't going to make another order."

"Right. I'll take a lemon and cranberry muffin."

"Low-fat?" she asks.

"Screw the low-fat."

It took me an hour to eat the muffin. The bill had been turned upside down under the coffee cup for at least 45 minutes. When I grab the bill I notice she had written something. It read: "I guess I'll be seeing you." I wink, imagining myself adjusting my fedora, with a chuckle.

The next day I awoke with an odd thought, "I wonder what Jenna is up to". I shrugged it off and prepared for work thirty minutes late. Despite my tardiness, I refused to cheat my health out of a fruit. I insisted on a grapefruit. "Why am I so complicated? Can't I have an apple on the fly?" Five minutes after that I decide to forego work altogether and designed a plausible excuse for my boss.

I'm not cut out to work for anybody. The ghastly, grey aura of office life is perfect for those who engage in gibberish talk. It can also act as a powerful soporific pill. In my estimation, I should not be wasting away in a faceless corporation. Stuffy, faceless and utterly without any sense of humor.

I did not feel guilty for not going in. I got dressed and headed out. The rugged maple trees outside my home, once owned by my great-grandparents, were swaying brilliantly - as most of nature's offspring often do. It didn't matter much to me. I took out the absolute striking '62 Maserati, bought by my grandfather, for this stunningly perfect autumn morning. Even the movement of poorly driven cars by nowhere people on a highway was something I could find beauty in. A good way to deliver Mack's note.

It was one of those days where not even a traffic jam of mythical and staggering proportions, that tends to heighten every paranoid and impatient fiber in my body, could conquer and overcome me. Beating myself up trying to figure out the origin of a traffic melee easily removed seven years from life.

As I drive along, long past the part of town I was supposed to deliver the note, I snap my fingers to loud music that is playing. I furiously search for my wallet thinking I forgot to bring it with me. Over the wallet is the note. I pull it out and drop it on the seat next to me. I'm tempted to read it.

Shortly, my fingers begin to ache with all that snapping - remnant pain from a fastball that smashed upon my knuckles. On this part of the highway the green and rust colors of the city's lethargic skyline become apparent. "This city is looking more and more rickety." "Enough of this. I have to bring this note." Time to turn back.

Just as quickly, I realize that just off this part of the highway was our old hang out.

It was as if I was summoning a new beginning. Those were the days indeed. Of what, to be specific, I wasn't sure. Never did I look backwards, just forward. Fondly, I contemplate the former hang out. It has not been kept well by the city. It was under a small bridge connecting two small towns. There was an unpaved path along the riverbank that allowed us to walk for miles. That was still there but it seems so deserted now.

Then, Jenna entered my mind. Twice in one day?

She was the coolest and prettiest of the lot. "She, as they say, 'got' Jimmy," as one of my buddies put it. I don't recall, strangely, why or how things began to dissipate between us. I didn't marry my high school queen, as modern fairy tales dictate. Now I seem destined to forever intertwine with a new person. Each knew less of me than the last. The longer you go on dating without purpose, the less of your spiritual make-up people are interested in. I miss her.

Today, the hang out is nothing - just a listless spot. Unknown to many who pass it that it once housed people with spirit and high-hopes. Now, those spirits have turned to grime. Life changes and moves forward but in a sense some never really do. They remain suspended and slaves to a different time and era.

We knew how to have a good time in style. We were the kind of gents that would drop a few coinages in a jukebox and sing loudly - not with obnoxious fervor, but with tasteful spirit. We cared little about the other people. Jenna was always present, it seems.

I try to laugh about this predicament of mine. I feel like I'm caught in Spider Man's web without the 'friendly neighborhood note.' A final exclamation mark on the fact that I'm not the contender I wish to be. I see too much absurdity in life's equations and simply accept that I have my fair share, if not more than the next guy does. I figure something will come up. Though deep down I distrust this attitude.

Have I fallen into the definition of 'loser'? I estimate I'm close to it but not quite there. In the hourglass that stares back at me, and arbitrarily I give myself one more year. No, that is much too long. Six months. "That'll give me some time to make something happen."

By this point I have pulled off the road. All my life I fought hard to create a pseudo-conservative exterior. I'm nothing more than a wild bon vivant at heart; more a writer than financier. A troubadour or Bohemian would be a stretch but I'd settle for a modern minstrel of sorts. Income and balance sheets are necessary for a life of luxury and comfort. I reach for my wallet and pull out a card - Max Freder: Literary Agent.

"Shit! I forgot about this guy." It was given to me at a friend's party a few months back. Back then it had no merit to me. Now it seems to not only be taking space in my thin wallet but the weight of regret was beginning to be felt. I hurl the card onto the dashboard. It begins to dance before me, mocking his penchant to defer and procrastinate.

The note is still on the seat. I drift off again. From an early age I never wanted to be an engineer, because my math skills - in case you haven't noticed. I fear numbers - were suspect. Those trains coming at different speeds from opposite directions always confused that unexercised part of my brain.

Nor did I ever once mention that I wanted to be a doctor. I was too out of focus for such an important job. My left hand would have made me a clumsy surgeon. What about a police officer or fire man? My health, it turns out, was dubious at best. My shoulder would give out arresting a suspect. Recently, I had romantic notions, at the age of 34, of being in the Special Forces.

The one thing I seemed destined for was a professional career in baseball, but God dealt me a final crucial and harsh blow when my knee was torn apart during a collision at home plate. "Why I didn't slide head first as I always had, I'll never know." There was no sense in harping. It is what it is. Maybe God dropped subtle hints along the way and I just didn't pick them up? Maybe mom didn't mean it to be literal.

My mind has its own agenda and I return to Jenna. I heard from a boyhood friend, the compassionate pugilist Joe 'Cutter Ace' Diviola, that Jenna was in Chicago. More importantly, that she was single. Then again, Cutter was not exactly a reliable source. To me, because memory can deceive, Jenna just appeared in my life bursting onto the scene. Never did she leave my thoughts.

A complete day can be spirited away, giving way to the night when spent thinking. I was without reason sitting in a fine automobile contemplating much of nothing, holding on to a pendant. Staring at a card of all things. "I don't deserve this car or Jenna," I unfairly intimate.

Unfair as it may sound I drive off and head to the address Mack gave me. I park and begin to examine the establishment. It's an office. I go inside and begin to look around. My body was met with a bolt of energy. My heart began to pump wildly as if I had a condition. The cardio exam I did a few months back showed my heart was strong and healthy. It felt, in any event, weak and highly vulnerable at that moment.

"Jenna?" I mutter in quiet disbelief. I move so as to hide away. "She still moves me after all these years." It finally hits me, slow as I am, whom the note may be destined for.

"It can't be. It just…"

I peak at the top of the letter. "October 5…" I try to impatiently open it up without compromising the privacy of the note. To my shock the intro read: "Dearest Jenna, love of…." I couldn't stand to read anymore. I go outside and into my car. It's past 6pm. I'm too stunned. "I just can't believe it."

I leave and drive home. Confused about what I should do. "The final curtain in the plot that is my life. I just can't take these blows anymore." I thought about going back to Mack and telling him I wouldn't be able to grant him the favor he asked of me. What would I tell him? It would take too long to explain it. I had to come up with another angle. Usually, I am quite adept at solving befuddling situations, but not now. Not when a former love is involved. Did I lover her? Or was it just an infatuation? Now I was desperate. I was reaching. Maybe tomorrow I'll leave and go look for her.

The next day, I leave work early and head out to Jenna's place. I also plan to quit work. A change would do me good. I pause for a moment. I need to go buy kitchen garbage bags. I pause once more - annoyed by my last mundane revelation. I notice a person outside a coffee shop. Crazy spontaneous ambitions are the parking spot of the aimless. My heart is pounding frivolously.

"Jimmy, you're 34 for St.Paul's sake."

I calmly and indifferently recite, with a positive smile, "There's Carlo. He owes me 10 bucks." I park the car, light a cigarette, and look back at the overpass.

There was a time when Carlo and I were standing in line at the movies and we overheard a parent going incessantly about her child. As I recall Carlo quipped, "Could you believe this chick? Already pressuring her kid to dance? Look at the kid. He can’t be older than six. Ugly too." She kept going until Carlo cracked and turned to her. "Be happy my ass. You're just hoping and praying things work out. All these parents and their "he's so advanced for his age" crap. By my calculation, assuming they are right in their damn delusions, the next batch of high fat muffins will be a genetically enhanced generation of super genius aliens from Gondar. Not gonna happen. Some will falter and others will be lazy. It's the way of the world. How else will the system survive? Humans as a species depend on it. Being a sucker and a dumb fuck is the best job your kid is ever going to have, as he will actually contribute to the superior capitalist system. Mediocrity pays if you know how to use it. Now keep quiet and stop denying your child the braces he obviously demands."

I am still unsure about the note, and I think about Jenna. Did I just stumble upon a new lease on life? I wonder. I walk in an enhanced, but assured pace towards an unsuspecting Carlo.


July 1st - Just Another Hot Summer Day

It just occurred to me that July 1st just past. Once upon a time I naively thought that just 'thinking Canadian' was enough to revive this country from its sleep walking. I used to use nationalist rhetoric like 'it's time to defend Canadian interests!'. The years have jaded and somewhat tempered these Garibaldi-like notions. The 'Buy a flag, feel good' country.

Canada used to be a rugged and free-spirited nation. A country that depended on individualism to get by. Government nepotism, ineptness and corruption has always been part of Canada's heritage so it should not surprise anyone how the Liberals behave. One just needs to observe Canada's Arctic history to grasp this. Where Sam Steele roamed to protect our interests, the government wallowed in its decision making process.

Like any country I suppose, Canada is filled with fragmented contradictions. Once upon a time this country punched upon its weight and deserved its respect tag at the table of great nations. Today, the country has a lobotomy. Trudeau may have been great for the image of this country, making us cool and all, but his impact was greatest at the policy level. His view of Canada is the view many Canadians assume to be our inherent values. They are not. Who will reverse this trend? I shall not mention the separatist clowns sitting under siege in their bunkers in Quebec City.

This country is in need of real quality leadership and patriots fast. Weird, July 4 resonated more with me this year.


Max: The Contemplating Unemployed Insomniac

I have some serious issues. I haven't slept all that well and it's beginning to ratify my abnormal mind. Most people don't think about, while laying in stillness in a brutally black room, the things I do. Like, for instance, I wish to be like Roosevelt.

The other day I bumped into someone I did not want to really run into. But it was one of those incidences that I could not avoid. Eyes were locked. One that happens I'm cooked. It such an ordeal for me and this time was no different. I immediately blur out of focus and enter a sub-world where the characters before me take new forms. I'm never talking to the same person you are. Ever.

It's becoming harder and harder to turn the other cheek these days. A day doesn't go by where I wouldn't punch someone in the mouth. If it's not someone pushing you back into the elevator, it's some stupid driver on a mobile cutting you off. People in general are bothersome. Here's a picture of me.

They say when you're unemployed you get to do things you never would have. For some, that's a positive. But that's a cracked bowl of shit. There is no routine when you're unemployed. Everything is turned upside down. It's like going through life with vertigo. Actually where vertigo meets a lobotomy. When you have too much time on your hands your brain begins to wonder into places it would normally not. It's what that Maslow guy enumerated for us. How nice of him to neatly package it in geometric form.

Other than that I imagined myself mowing the lawn with one of those plastic lawn mowers that shoots out bubbles and cutting the hedges with rubber shears. Just to see how people react. Someone told me to go fuck myself once. Imagine, again, if someone you know caught you engaging in such a cheap low budget act with a dildo. Worse, you're caught singing the words "...everybody wang-chung tonite...."Now that's a scene. Forget the pie scene in American Pie.


Images of Innocence

Apparently there's a film in the works about this gentleman. His name is Jacques 'Money and Ethnic' Parizeau. He loves lobster. He is reportedly going to be played by the Shmoo.

This is what I'm going to do to
Canada when we win. Hello, my
name is Gilles Duceppe and I'm a
Marxist - except once a month
when rent cheques are due to be
collected from the proletariat on the
first of each month. My party's moto
is "We go, but the Federal cheques come
with us."

It was a humble beginning.

O'Canada O'Fat, eh?


Now do you see the dangers of picking on the blemishes and shortcomings of other countries? Let me remind for those of you who remain insipidly in denial to grasp the notion that we aren't perfect. Do you think it's time to ease off the maple walnut Horton doughnuts?


Idols of the Market Talk

-Proof of our misplaced priorities #4,567,324,345,789: Amidst the insanity of professional sport lock outs, classless pampered athletes and bored celebrities a Calgary teen solved a centuries old puzzle and won a paltry $8 000cdn. I say paltry because considering he solved that 'polyhedral forms could indeed be reduced to two-dimensional forms with no overlapping by cutting along the edges of their faces.' Wha? Huh?

8 grand seems like a small purse. Anyway, what many could not do since the question was posed in the 16th century, this kid did in two weeks. Yet, we pay actors to recite lines in mediocre films to the tune of millions. Who contributed more to mankind? 8K in Canadian dollars is not enough to go to MIT. Alas, talking about J-Ho is much more entertaining. The next time someone babbles about the extreme complexities of golf and Tiger Woods I'll show them this kid.

-Speaking of golf. I simply get annoyed with people who obsess over things - especially golf. The conversations around people at a summer bar-BQ is bad enough to have to listen to how many rounds the boys got in that week and how they can't wait for the next round and how they golfed in Maryland and Rottenville. It's a hobby. Get over it and shut up you're boring me like hell. I'd rather eat a raw onion than watch or take part in any of these dumb mind-numbing conversations. The only time I ever watched golf was when Bugs Bunny played with that Scotsman.

-After consuming a couple of hours of Bava directed horror B-flicks and Fritz the Cat, my wife brought home 'Hitch'. I watched it. I don't get it. I never get formulaic films that try to deviate from the blueprint slightly. It wasn't funny. It wasn't romantic. I saw Kevin James do stand-up. He's funnier than what I saw in that stupid film. And what is it with people jumping to conclusions like that? Do people react impetuously over the littlest of things? Fucking annoying.

What was more annoying was watching the cast on Oprah to 200 screaming bored bitches. Not that I watch Oprah. It's just that her fricken show is ALWAYS on whenever I opened the TV. I keep changing channels and all I get is her laughing diabolically. Anyway, it's just a coincidence that I was changing channels and caught 15 seconds of it. And the conversations are always the same. Every bimbo and bimbette actor is a fucking compassionate genius and so in love on Oprah.

For once, I want to see a porno version of her show. Yeah that's right. An orgy right there. We all know they do it in the back right? Julia 'The Expanding Maw' Roberts and her fucking kids for example. Back stage, of course, she hands them off to her immigrant chauffeur. "Raising kids is soooo hard." as she passes them over to a Filipino nurse. Whenever I watch Hollywood I feel like a whore. I feel like I wasted $10 at the local strip joint getting Chantal the one-tooth sabre rub her soft, sagging big nippled tits on my $125 Zegna shirt.

-Ever notice on television or in the movies people often repeat the question? "Do you believe in God?" "Believe in God?" It irritates the hell out of me because it wastes time. The person heard the question the first time. Unless they are deaf or wear a hearing aid or the other person asking the question is using a voice-box or sounds incomprehensible in their intonation and semantics, there's no reason to repeat the question. "Jack, can you fuck my mouth?" "Fuck your mouth?"

-I recently read someone on some creepy forum (yes, I channel the creepiest sites) dumping all over Magnum P.I. Man. it was harsh. I wanted to peel his skin, tear his head, boil his brain and pinch his cheeks. Magnum is cool. Magnum P.I. still resonates with me. That Mike Post intro and the Ferrari is priceless. Rick, TC and Higgins were a cool posse. Like Bubbles, Ricky and Julian on Trailer Park Boys. I bet you that guy didn't see the episode with Ivan or Frank Sinatra.

-Sesame Street added Muslim Terrorist puppets. Something about reaching out, cooperation, blah, blah. I don't know I tuned out.

-Tom Cruise. I mean really. I mean seriously. Where does he come from? Did he have a lobotomy over at the Scientology lab? He sounds like a typical indoctrinated jibber-jabber no different than the ones found in '1984'. Is he fooling anybody? Bizarre. Again, I don't normally do the 'Access Hollywood' shtick (hosts of these shows are so hopelessly pathetic in their 'look at me I'm talking to the stars' persona) but actors make it so hard not to pick on them. Scratch behind the Canali suit of Versace dress and you find spruce scenting white-trash or tattoo drenched skank from the corniest spots on the continent. How they become so vulnerable to cults is something academics should study. From 3-feet tall Top Guns to violent dingos. Russel Crowe.

What's the point of punching clerks and bellboys? Was it the steady diet of raw platypus liver that led to his brain being as functional as Heliogablus? It wouldn't be a stretch that after such an incident he would do a pitch, as a spokesperson, for Amnesty. If there's a draft, send the most violent people in the entertainment business. If rappers are so fond of fondling women and guns send them off to places where they can participate in all the violence they want. Send them all. Farrel, Oasis, 34cents, the 32 Baldwins - see how they do in Afghanistan. Oh yeah, they are anti-war not anti-violent.


Current Affairs Comments: America, France, China, SARS, UN Permanent Seats,G7, Kyoto, Karla Homolka

-It's amazing. All I seem to read and hear these days is people criticizing America on a platitude of topics and issues. Just how strong is America's self-esteem? If America was a person he or she would have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge a long,long time ago. No sane person would be able to withstand the constant and obsessive scrutiny.

Americans can't seem to do anything right for the pessimists, cynics and complainers alike. They are too dumb, fat, slow, ignorant, self-absorbed, obnoxious, loud, trigger happy, excited, short-sighted to be alive for people.

They apparently have an uncaring, sacreligious, Fascist/Nazi inspired racist society filled with right-wing nuts, NRA monsters, dying people without health insurance, rampant crime and self-serving sharks, greedy faceless Wall Street execs, low-IQ Presidents, toothless incestuous hillbilly mountain banjo-playing freaks and superficial consumer materialists.

And oh yes, their history is fictitious built on the backs of slaves and Injuns. Sheesh. I shutter to think about other countries and what their closet might look like. Makes you wonder more about the people who actually believe all this.

Yet, there is America - standing tall, free and strong. People swim through shark infested waters to get into this highly successful society. They may be imperfect (who isn't?) but God only knows how hard they try to make it all better. Some may think a little too hard.

- Black Jack 'The Chic Chick' Chirac, you know that Gaullic leader inserted his big fat crooked brie scented feet in his tannin filled mouth recently. He went off on England about how they apparently never contributed to European agriculture and how because of their diet they could not be trusted. French humour at its pinnacle.

First, a word from the Italians. Ignore the French. They have been making fun of the Italians for centuries only to adopt many Italian ideas that became hallmarks of French cuisine. Yes, the French are masters and artists but they can be a little assholic about it.

Personally, I prefer the diversified and unassuming brilliance of Italian cuisine. Next, London has usurped Paris as an eclectic European culinary town and finally it was the English who started the fricken agricultural revolution along with the industrial revolution.

The bottom line is that French agricultural subsidies and policies are not only antiquated but criminal. I remember years ago when the circus carni's from France met the Cirque du Soleil buffoons in Quebec. During a free press conference one of the French leaders snapped at a reporter for not being able to speak French. As he put it, and I loosely quote, 'You are not worth dealing with if you can't speak the language of sophistication.'

Yikes. I like France. I've been there and not all Frenchmen act in such borrish ways. It has a historical pedigree few countries can match. But man are they losing their minds. They're like a bunch of unionized tiny Napoleon dwarfs bitching and screaming all day long.

-Here's a surprise (insert dead-pan face here), China did a better job of dealing with the SARS outbreak than Canada. Billion body infested communist China outperformed G7 (Russia, please) advanced and democratic Canada. Great job guys. Let's throw more and more $ into the system. Who will beat us next and for which disease? I have said many times before, the negative chirping about the American health care system is greatly exaggerated and the positives of the Canadian one is, in turn, greatly exaggerated.

-When it rains...I had to read this one over and over it stunned me that much. Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference called for the UN to give Muslims a permanent seat on the Security Council. This demand is not only breathtakingly shocking on the balls-o-meter, it's hilarious in its possibilities. Could you imagine the leaderless, fragmented Muslim world taking the world stage to showcase their inept and bankrupt behaviour? Mind you, they've done a pretty damn good job on their own. It's not like they come out with a humble 'look, we know we have to confront our own problems and that we need to take responsibility and accountability for own actions and yes it is true we need to thin out the Jews-as-rats rhetoric and need to offer stable institutions to our people but Allah dang it we need a real voice'. No, they come out with the 'we deserve it because we represent one-fifth of the world' line. Note to fortunate oil-drenched bearded guy - earn it.

-I was watching the news and saw clowns standing on park benches in Edinburgh, what else, protesting the G7 summit (Russia, please). Some pathetic outfit called the Revolutionary Youth Group of Thumb Sucking Lazy Bored Losers (or something like that) called for a 'global day of action against the G8 summit will be a children's revolution'. I saw this movie once. It was called 'Children of the Corn'. The clowns (clowns scare me) reminded me of the ultra-violent sickos on 'Clockwork Orange.'

-This Commentator is glad that slowly countries are beginning to question the Kyoto Accord. I just can't believe how people have no idea what this accord, if ratified, would have cost.

Russian scientists agree. Now excuse me for thinking this but shouldn't people actually stop and take notice when two of the greatest scientific nations in the 20th century - The United States and Russia - are in agreement? Australia, for its part and for the record, are also against it. If the basic tenets of the accord are flawed and self-serving, just who stands to gain from such a revolutionary attempt?

-Notorious and infamous killer Karla Homolka says the first thing she wants to do when she is released (she did 12 years for her part in the heinous rape and murder of two teenaged girls in Ontario. She cut a deal with prosecutors who needed her testimony to get Paul Bernardo for the crimes) I still remember that story like it was yesterday it was so gruesome) is go and get a Tim Horton's iced cappuccino. When did I injest a bottle of Nyquil and find myself in a vortexed world of utter surreality? The things I hear sometimes blows me away. I wonder if Tim Horton's will make a sappy 'proud to be Canadian commercial' with Homolka in them. "We at Tim Horton's agree with the charitable and humane Canadian justice system. Karla is a proud Canadian and so please join us by supporting her by buying little Maple Leafs with her face on them so you can proudly display them on your back-pacs when you travel'. I know, Horton's would never do this. Then again...nah.


Revisiting 'The Last Waltz'

Years ago I bought The Band's 'The Last Waltz' and was immediately enthralled with its essence. It's tough to revisit something you didn't witness live (I was four years old in 1976) but art is all relative. Tomatoe, tomah-toe. In one sitting, I was introduced to rock music in its most pristine comforts. What blew me away was the endless stream of legendary and extraordinary musicians and performers of our time that took part in that concert: Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Ronnie Hawkins, Van Morrison, Ron Wood, Dr.John, Emylou Harris, Paul Butterfield and The Staples among others. Together they produced some of the greatest songs in the pantheon of 20th century music.

A few years after that I caught Martin Scorsese's documentary film on television of that landmark concert in San Francisco. Watching those musicians in the flesh and live some 25 years later was one of those 'wow' moments. In a time where the live concert is less a celebration and movement and more a corporate bottom line exercise, soaking in the gala was a welcomed breath of crystal pure Northern air. Listening to Neil Young gently kick into 'Helpless' still sends shivers down my spine. "There's a place in North Ontario..." It's so rare we hear of musicians chronicling Canadian themes it seems. Come to think of it, who is Canada's answer to Bruce Springsteen? Does Gordon Lightfoot make the cut?

The Band and their success is especially remarkable because they were a Canadian band that emerged during a time when Canadian acts were still in their infancy stage and struggling to gain exposure in America. The Band are a pop culture icon on the rock scene - and they were Canadian. It is only fitting since Canada has contributed much to the North American experience. Many symbols of American pop culture had their origins in Canada. Superman and basketball immediately spring to mind. Still, Canada's list is impressive in the 60s and 70s. What they lacked in numbers they made up in quality - Gordon Lightfoot, Anne Murray, Paul Anka and The Diamonds did their part on the easy listening side of things. Andy Kim, Joni Mitchell, The Guess Who, Steppenwolf, Leonard Cohen, B.T.O, Rush and of course the giant of rock'n roll Neil Young.

Time went by and the movie played again almost 15 years after I saw it for the first time tonight. I still got the shivers. Not just because I'm fighting a flu. Many of us are not terribly impressed with Canada these days, but tonight reminded me of what this country has achieved and accomplished in many fields against great odds. Two of those biggest obstacles being harsh climate and living next to the most powerful, friendly single entity the world has ever known.

Picking a favourite track on the album has proven to be difficult if not elusive. I liked Morrison's distracted but enthusiastic and upbeat version of 'Caravan' if only because it's one of my all-time favorite songs from one of my personal preferred albums 'Moondance'. 'Up on Cripple Creek' for its hint of bluegrass country spirit and Levon Helms pulsating drums and singing. Even 'The Night They Drove Old Dixe Down' and 'I Shall be Released' performed with Dylan manage to hit a nerve. The latter being of no coincidence for being played since this was during Dylan's born again Christian period. The Weight' no doubt remains the quintessential hit. Particularly, the gospel inspired version in the film performed with The Staples is one of the finest interpretation of any song I've heard. For me, however, the song that defined the album was 'It Makes No Difference'. Don't ask me why it just did.

Sometimes what a piece of music does to someone is beyond definition and description. Try and ask someone how to find the proper emotions to explain what Verdi or Beethoven does to them. The mark of great music is how it changes hands from generation to generation and how it transcends gibberish critical scrutiny. Forget Britney Spears, Madonna and Jessica Simpson and the Souless Brothers and Sister of modern pop. Remember the good old time stuff. It's worth it.


Max: No Sleep, No Job, No Relevance

Jeebies and I eagerly, very much like a child waiting for a stall in a public bathroom, attended a concert tonight. It was a show performed by a talented, as opposed to untalented, individual at one of those bizarre festivals that claims to be something but presents people with something else. Let me explain. Maybe it's me but when a festival markets itself as a 'Jazz Festival' the least I would expect is, well, the venues to be filled with jazz and some blues. Once upon a time this was the case but now it's filled with everything but jazz - only the usual jazz staples are available like Salsa, techno and rock. Call yourself, organizing committee, the International Music Festival and move on. Once again, purists get shafted all in the name of pleasing the lowest fucking common denominator seeking a fricken quick fix through free shows. Routinely and predictably, the usual next day conversation between friends is to tell them it was the 'greatest show you've ever attended.' For some, even if this was their first it would not stop their slight embellishment.

Anyway, the concert tickets I bought were tickets to a rock show at a Jazz fest. It's retarded. Mentally challenged? Handicapped? What is the PC term for retarded fat person? Forget the annoying troublesome fact that no one seems to get nervous, like a neurotic fiend, over such things like I do. A Cuban duo opened. Smooth, sultry and charismatic they were. "Does it exist a bad Cuban guitarist?" I wondered.

Two girls, females, women (what is the PC term for them these days?) were sitting next to us and Jeebies, and you need to know that Jeebies has the attention span of a freshly hatched lizard, began to swarm around them like a school of Amazon piranhas. Before he could actually and swiftly offer a gesture they began, without a flair, making-out. French-Italian-Spanish kiss style. My invention. They were, my ubiquitous audience, a lesbian couple. "Fucking sweet." he says knocking me with his elbow. Why elbows always catch me on my most vulnerable spots is a question to pose to Peter at the Gates one day. I merely mentioned, strictly in plainspeak dead-pan, the obvious that they were gay. Queer. Seeking attention? Some do. To which he responded "Everyone knows lesbians are bi-sexual." He was right on this lusty and muggy occassion. After the show, which was stunning, we had ourselves a party that would make Father Iannucci question and therefore lament humanities moral constructs. Can't wait to tell my friends.

Counting wolves, to battle the insomnia, I was thinking about my father during the night. It was 2:41am to be exact when I decided to embark on such a journey. My borderline fascist, pro-capitalist father. He who has an inherent hatred for anything socialist - and needless to say he's not too fond of perenial under-achievers. He, to unhealthy levels, who detests big slothic nanny-states. What a political-science and psychology study. Often he would go off on rants and soliloquoy's that would make Shakespeare and Dante proud. Or Cicero or any of the rambling men you spot on a street corner in remote parts of your respective cities. Ahead of the logic, as usual, lay an intricate and carefully designed riddle that none of us (siblings and friends alike) could never figure out. Following his artistically mad comments, was akin to walking on a tight rope. You could follow just a little before you inevitably lost balance and fell off. Memory brought forth a time when my family sat around the table, at a typical supper, teasing him during one of his famous polemic tirades. I, in the familiar comfort of pop-culture referencing, suggested we plaster him with question marks. You know, like the fucken Riddler. Laugh we did. Smile he did not.

Misanthropist I may very well be. Perhaps this is why I have no job. Or seek to go through the interview process - which is one of the most degrading and pointless exercise ever invented. As if the wild pink lemur, who nostalgically reminds of Rev. Jim Ignitowski, behind the desk in a dubious suit doesn't know the person he is considering is a complete useless collection of fibres and tissue. A human without the nourishment necessary to make them relevant. Pseudo-humouring, bull shit talk and cv's on steroids. It's all a crap shoot. Everyone's an ambitious go-getter (all-suave-talk mediocre lick dick chump) who thrives under pressure (usually the first to crack or avoid it) and talks the truth (the most articulate and talented back-stabbing gossiper this side of the St.Lawrence, Mackenzie and Mississippi) on this day.

"So? How do you see yourself five years from now?" The dumbest rhetorical question ever. Considering that most companies usually miss their quarterly projections, that's one gosh astounding question to ask. Fucken jerk off who ever came up with that one. No doubt, from a special psychology firm that conducted exhaustive studies that determined what to ask potential employees. For this, he had bestowed upon him (or her, or it. I just don't get modern lingo) from the regal masters of middle-management a trophy for best employee of the month - in all their vortexual perplexed glory. People become millionaires for such things, you know. Which does not say much for the beastly consumers who determine this outcome.

Maybe I'm not a misan-etc. Maybe I just don't know how to interact with others. I never ever was at ease with humans. Humans are so complex in all their codes and decodes. Yeah, it's probably just me the problem. If it really is a problem. Maybe it's a form of autism. 'Rain Man' resonated with me on some level. I confess to be, to all of you, a person who, for some mystical unexplained reason, reads 5 books at a time. I have stacks of books, newspaper articles and magazines that are scattered everywhere waiting to have their print and words absorbed by my over-stretched mind. It seems I'm always out to over-load a body that ironically does not know how to sit and stand still.

Ever notice whenever you're at a bloody (sometimes they deserve to be) function it always seems everyone has a cool or better job than you? Everyone, recall they are better than you, is always off to this city and off to that city. They are exotic buyers and creative managers and all that shit. All jet-set fuckos. Yet, they all act and talk like complete fucking assholes. Know-nothing shitheads who have the best jobs in the world. "Look at me!" Worse, to add to insult, when they tell their stories of how 'lucky' they were to 'stumble' on these fucking great jobs. Not by tirelessly sending cv's like monkey chumps, not by rolling up sleeves and knocking on doors, not by earning their stripes going through the ranks, but having the grace of god dang timing.

My timing, not that it should astonish anyone, is heinously and criminally off. It's to the point where one could claim I'm a 'loser' and I would not object. I'm the guy who is next in line only to have the sold-out sign go up when it's my turn. They, being tiny magical little wise sea or lake wizards, say you create your own luck. Can I book an appointment with these creators of gargoyle inspired cliches?

Since I am on the subject of things that irritate my smallish bones and loose ligaments, here's more. Like, um, for instance people who, um, say, you know, um, a lot, you know. I notice that on the radio too these days. 'Esteemed' people being interviewed about serious subjects saying 'um' is not my idea of direct and complete credibility. Yeah, yeah the message is the content. But still...Or people who jog in 40+ degree celsius weather because 'they have to". As if going off their routine will ruin them. Or people who get addicted to everything and use hyperbole's to make their point. 'Oh my God, I hafta have my coffee in the morning or I'm gonna die." Or "I have to break the gang-bang record." Moderation, it looks like and I guess, is not a strong suit of many people.

Sometimes, but most of the time, I just don't know how I, in a world so out of tune with my chords and keys, get by.