Monthly Archives: March 2014

Hatred may be a sin but it has its distinct virtues

yosemite

First let me set the record straight regarding my philosophy of getting along in life: I believe with all my heart in the power of forgiveness.

There have been people in my life who have done things to me I deem unconscionable. But, to balance that, I have done things to others that might be regarded in the same way. And you know, it’s probably good, for a time, to have a profound mad-on for an individual who has shoveled dirt on you. And in the case of some situations, I find myself still picking out bits of grit. But, you know, that’s the way life goes.

But forgiveness is powerful in the sense that it liberates the psyche and it stops a former enemy from having control over your conscious and unconscious thought processes. Wanna be free of impediments, then forgive-forgive-forgive.

Added to which, hatred is deemed to be a sin, and for good reason. Hatred, if unchecked, can lead to: wars, homicide, suicide, drug abuse, depression, and so on. It’s a negative emotion and not one to be trifled with. Hatred is hatred. It’s nothing to do with not liking somebody. No sin in that. Some people just irk a body, even piss a fellow or girl off, but hatred is different, and it’s relentless if left unchecked.

I have forgiven virtually everybody who has hurt me in my life. If the person is dead I have written a posthumous letter stating my case and offering my amends. Likewise I have done it in person to some, and the results have been marvellous. The air was cleared and a new freedom dawned.

Of course, such an act of contrition doesn’t always mean you come together with the other person. Sometimes it’s still better to move on, but there is no impediment to your personal freedom, and that’s what it’s all about – just like the hokey-pokey.

That being said, however, I know I shall never be a candidate for sainthood. And that is because there is one guy I will not forgive. I have no such plans. In fact I take pleasure in hating him. He’s not my nemesis for he has no power over me, but my utter contempt for this person keeps me honest in myself and I happily wish him nothing but ill, even though I know my cursing of him will never give him a crisis of conscience because he has none.

What he did was some terribly dishonest things to me and ‘used me’ relentlessly and spent the whole time sporting a double-visage Janus mask. He invented duplicity.

And in saying the above I don’t wish him dead. It’s good for my soul to have him around. I was once having coffee with a friend and during our conversation I outlined my antipathy for this guy in no uncertain terms. I then looked around the joint and realized the guy was sitting not too far away and was definitely within earshot. I then turned to my coffee companion and said:

God, I hope he overheard me.”

And that, friends, is what a truly gratifying hatred is all about.

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Live your mythology but don’t always let others in or they may find out the truth

taj mahal

I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

-Leonard Cohen

Those lines are taken from Leonard Cohen’s first published book,
Let Us Compare Mythologies, published in 1956. That Lennie. He hit on the idea early on (an idea that became cherished by randy and artistic undergraduates everywhere) that he could adroitly woo a woman into bed just by the power of his words.

The only fly in that ointment was, he was Lennie, the rest were just undergrads. We were just ‘us’. Still are, and he remains Lennie. ‘Hallelujah!’

lennieAnd, Leonard Cohen’s own ‘mythology’ evinces his consummate success with the opposite sex. Of course it helped that he was dashing, charming, intelligent and immensely talented. I once saw a ballet performance of his poem ‘You Have the Lovers’, performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and I must say that it was one of the most erotic things I’ve ever seen. Yes, Len was a master of his craft.

But, I am not here to discuss Leonard Cohen and his cocksman prowess, what I want to consider is the whole idea of mythology – personal mythology.

We all have ourselves – and we all have our mythology. Rarely do the twain meet in real life. They only meet when we try to impact others. Or, sometimes the others know us only by our mythology, and have no inkling about the real us – the sort of bread-and-butter, or blood-and-guts us. Our spouses or lovers probably think they know the real us just because they’ve heard us fart, but that means little. It still is a matter of they only know what we let them know.

If we are emotionally healthy, we ‘know’ the truth about ourselves, as opposed to the myth, despite how much we might use the myth to perpetuate an image within the outer world, especially if we are trying to impress some individual in that outer world.

There are pitfalls in this. We fall in love with and sometimes marry somebody because we’ve fallen for an image: an image of beauty, grace and charm. Our opposite number has done the same thing. But, when we get in close quarters we find that this vision of grace also snores, shaves her legs, leaves her dirty underwear lying around, and is even susceptible to the odd bout of diarrhea. If the love was one with the ‘real’ person, such human elements are never problematic. If the love was with the myth, the relationship can be rent asunder.

There is a worse scenario, and that is one that becomes apparent with much regularity in our ‘star-fucking’ society, and that is when the myth and reality become confused within the individual. Then it can turn ugly. If a person receives accolades enough for some accomplishment or other he or she can come to believe their own legends. Then hubris becomes the dominant factor in their lives.

Some fine people walk the planet, blessedly, but there are no ‘gods’ striding amongst us, as much as we’re deluded into thinking there are. And we are so deluded, or else politicians, actors, athletes and so forth would have no careers.

In some cases such individuals go over the top with narcissism that is based solely on myth.

We know the tales of pols and entertainers who come to believe they are more exalted than the rest of us. Conrad Black and Martha Stewart, I suggest, were of the opinion that they wouldn’t ‘dare’ imprison them due to who they were. They doggedly held to that until the cellblock doors slammed. I believe that Al Capone held the same misapprehension.

Currently we have seen a few politicians of all persuasions who have twisted the thoughts of George Orwell and have come to believe that some comrades are more entitled than others, so pound salt you common taxpayer schmucks because we’ve got your hard-earned dough and we’re going to jet off, business class, to somewhere exotic.

The maharajah impulse dies hard and is still alive and well.

Sometimes as life goes on certain things lose their charm

pop truck

Call it, according to your geography ‘soda’, ‘pop’, ‘soda pop’ or just plain fizzy drink, or if you’re a tippler, ‘mixer’, and I also understand that in the Deep South soda pop, regardless of type, goes by the generic ‘Coke’. So you can indeed order an Orange Coke.

What that convoluted lead is in aid of the reality that became apparent lately is that I don’t really like the stuff very much, and never yearn for it if other potables are available. It’s been like that for a while now. I think I am looking forward to a nice, ice-cold can or bottle of something cola-ish and then when I begin to drink it I don’t find it appeals so much.

Maybe it’s something to do with age. You know, like being completely unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Justin Bieber, a detestation of the whole vampire genre in films and on TV, or not being instantly ‘ready’ when an opportunity arises. Take that last reference advisedly.

Actually, I think it has everything to do with age. When I was very young I loved the stuff. Mainly, I suspect, because we kids didn’t get it very often. A dearth of anything always makes it more appealing. And I did have my favorites. I liked Orange Crush, but only in the traditional bumpy bottle (I have one such bottle), Coca-Cola, of course, and a very long ago orange soda called ‘Whistle’. Hard to find in the old days. Impossible to find now. And I confess to a certain passion for Creme Soda.

richardAnd there are labels that have gone the way of the DeSoto or Packard automobiles. There used to be Kik Cola, Gurd’s Ginger Ale, Felix (as in the cat) Ginger Ale, Lime Rickey, Grapefruit Crush, and Orange Nehi.

But, as I say, I lost my taste for the stuff, except on rare occasions, quite some time ago, and I am always amazed at adults who consume huge quantities. I worked with a woman who used to consume 10 or more cans of diet cola every day at work. She’s dead now. I don’t think there is a connection.

When the Castro government took control in Cuba the Cubans were faced with a problem. They were the greatest per capita consumers of Coca Cola on the planet. Then, as all US ties to the place ceased, Coke, of course, pulled out. So, the government set its loyal comrades to work to find a good facsimile to the ‘real thing’ and, according to all accounts, they succeeded. Where there’s a doctrinaire will, there’s a way, I suppose. And you could scarcely have a ‘Cuba Libre’ without some sort of cola.

But, I’d still rather have a coffee.

Yet another of those changes in my life when I was too busy not paying attention

pontilac

I am simply not paying enough attention these days. I just learned on the weekend that they ceased making Pontiac cars way back in 2010. How could I not have known that?

In that GM has allowed a venerable marque to follow that of the Oldsmobile that was scuttled a few years earlier.

I never owned a Pontiac. My dad never owned a Pontiac. He was stuck at the Chevrolet level and Pontiacs were for those a bit more upwardly mobile than Chevy guys, but not quite as posh as Olds or Buick guys. Caddies were beyond the pale back when the so-called Detroit ‘Big Three’ dominated the auto markets. “What, the Japs make cars? What next, the Koreans? Yer a riot, Ralph.”

Pontiacs were pretty neat cars in their day. The early ones of my experience were pretty much like Chevs except they came with an optional 8-cylinder engine. They also had those ubiquitous stripes to set them apart from Chevs. I don’t know why Pontiacs had stripes any more than why Buicks had portholes along the fenders.

Later in their time and back when gas was still about 40-cents a gallon – that’s a ‘gallon’! — Pontiacs moved out of the clunky family car realm and into something sexier. There was the Bonneville with about 400 horses, for example. Friends from California back when I was about 19 drove from San Jose to Vancouver starting at midnight on a Friday and arrived in Vancouver around noonish Saturday. Stayed for a few hours and then headed back to SJ to be on time for work Monday. They, in their Bonneville broke every speed-limit known to humankind and while they earned a few speeding citations in the process, they made it back alive. Good times.

gtoThen Pontiac put that Bonneville engine into a much smaller vehicle and thus was born the GTO. Bloody marvelous machine that looked cool and boasted pants-wetting acceleration.

Then there was the Firebird, of Smoky and the Bandit fame. Pontiac’s version of the Camaro , yet somehow it never quite had the class and remained a kind of downmarket, lout pipes ‘good-ole-boy’ machine that would have been owned by those Duck Dynasty or Deliverance guys.

There was, of course, the Fiero. Never as popular as it might have been and unique in that it was made out of plastic.

And that is pretty much my Pontiac lore but it somehow doesn’t seem right that they are gone when I was still missing the Oldsmobile.

Just a bit of a Saturday potpourri of dirty politics and too damn much sugar

jeenny

I see sugar is going to kill us now. A few weeks ago it was salt. Smoking has been going to kill us for years now as has booze and they constantly work diligently and there is a doctoral thesis there proving that caffeine is a slow route to death – or maybe a quick one. Word to the wise for all those medical researchers, life will kill you.

The foregoing are just a few random thoughts randomly rambling about in my random brain. Wait, I have more and I shall share them with you.

– My wife, whom I love dearly, does not have a process that calls for quick decisions. She can take a half=hour’s menu perusal just to decide what she wants for lunch. Don’t ask her if she wants fries with that or she can take a further quarter of an hour tossing up between fries and onion rings and then ultimately opting for a salad because, going back to point #1, fries and onion rings can kill you. Salad hardly ever does.

Anyway, we are in the process of doing a reno on our kitchen for just a few dollars less than the Taj Mahal’s pricetag, or so the figures seem to indicate. We have picked out floor tiles after a whole lot of perusal, and even cabinet styles. But counter tops have been another matter. We have been to the counter place at least three times; spent the better part of a morning going over samples, picking out stuff, rejecting stuff, shaking our heads at stuff, nodding approvingly at stuff. I’m being generous here, it is mainly Wendy doing this process. I found myself a comfortable chair and have learned to detach myself. But then we bring them home because she has three samples that she thinks are the best ever. She thinks that until she gets them home and thereupon she decides that she unequivocally dislikes them and so we must go back to the counter place again. I keep reminding her I am older than she is and don’t want to squander my remaining years with too much heedlessness.

– Was Jenny Kwan covering her pretty ass (and she does have a pretty ass, I once saw it, albeit draped, in the corridors of the Legislature place) when she did her big mea culpa re her ex old-man ripping of the Portland Society for vacation bucks? But she’s sorry. She didn’t know. I think I’ll tell Wendy I am going to take her to Hawaii tomorrow. Know what? She’d ask how we’re paying for it. So, when ex-hubby said, “Jenny, baby, we’re off to Disneyland and then Europe next week,” Jenny didn’t ask where he found the loot. Well, she is a politician, maybe they don’t bother about such things. I repeat, ass-covering. She also reflected the most fatal of the fatal flaws of non-profits, accountability. I know, I’ve seen that sort of behavior and I could tell a few tales that might evoke at least a ‘tsk’ in some quarters.

alison and krustySpeaking of female pols (and we were), do you think Redford would have been hounded from office if she had been male? I don’t know much about Alberta politics but it strikes me that they let pisstank ole Ralph Klein get away with some pretty Rob Fordish stuff in his day without making life in the sanctified chamber too grim for him. Was it just that the good-old boys in the stetsons thought she was kind of an uptight beeyotch? I mean, she wasn’t known for being warm and cuddly like our Christy is. That last comment was made in irreverent jest.

And while we are on the topic of irreverence, I read the opinion of an editorial writer who seemed to suggest we were being much too familiar for calling our preem ‘Christy’ rather than her full name. I guess we should contact London and see how old ‘Gordo’ feels about such disrespect, while we’re on the topic of folks who weren’t hounded from office.

And that’s all I’ve got today, folks.

We’re back where we started — here we go round again

marois 2

Saw a snippet on TV of a comic I didn’t really know who was performing in Montreal. He said, “So, here I am in Quebec, or ‘Practice France’ as I like to call it.”

And in all of this I am reminded of the old Kinks song, “Here we Go Round Again.” Because it seems that the premier of Quebec, one Pauline Marois – you may have heard of her, she’s the one accused of being an ethnic bigot and even things less polite – of the Parti Quebecois (don’t expect accents from me, my computer doesn’t do default accents and I can’t be bothered sticking them in, OK? — has trotted out that tired old hobbyhorse of separatism once again. Quel yawn.

levesqueNo, at one time Canadians in the ‘rest of Canada’ used to buy into this as a threat. They saw old chain-smoking Rene as a kind of ogre, and then there was the one-legged pirate who seemed pretty darn threatening and we all soiled our little knickers rallying to the cause of national unity and doing whatever we could to keep La Belle Province mollified. “Oh, please don’t go. We’ll try harder. Really we will. We’ll stick all our kids in French Immersion schools and we won’t wince too much when we make a call to an Ottawa number and invariably get a Quebec accent on the other end of the line. Do any Anglo-Canadians actually get jobs in a place that is purportedly the capital of Canada?

But this time Mme Marois may be misreading the tone of the situation west of her province, and certainly in the western part of Canada as in, and I am not sure what the French translation would be, but it comes across as: “We should give a shit?”

Well, in truth, I do give a shit – a little bit of a shit. And that is mainly because I have friends, both Anglo and Franco in Quebec, and many French-Canadian friends here – but I, like many others, am a tad weary of being nationally blackmailed by one province. It’s like all the family making concessions for the one kid that causes trouble in the household. This is my household so stop disrupting it, and if you hate it so much, maybe you should leave.

I must say I have not spent any appreciable time in Quebec. But, I did spend a few days in Montreal years ago and I profess it is the classiest and most sophisticated city in the country, with the best looking women too, I might add. Vancouver may be the prettiest city in the land, but Montreal has a truly unique flavor. I loved it.

So, let’s say in terms of vain hope they win their referendum, where are they going to go? France doesn’t want them. The French (who generally hate everybody non-French) regard the folk from Quebec as hicks from the sticks and are as rude to them as they are to everybody else who visits that otherwise beautiful country. Our friend Alain in Grenoble was treated like ‘merde’ when he was there because he came from the city of Quebec (the province’s capital) and they laughed at his accent.

So, if France doesn’t want them, you can be sure the US might be interested in terms of an investment. But the US don’t hold no truck with furrin languages so forget bilingualism if they tuck into bed with them.

Mme Marois attests they want no borders and would keep Canadian currency. Oh yeah, I can imagine the Canadian prime minister who tries to sell that bill of goods to the rest of the country. Ain’t gonna happen. Meanwhile, the Native Innu and Inuit of northern Quebec have no connection with Franco Quebec and have already stated they’d pull out if separation should happen. That’s a pretty big chunk of the province that they inhabit.

At the end of it, Quebec would be a very insignificant blot on the landscape without a great deal of economic potential so the Quebecois would have to accept a diminished standard of living, maybe like Honduras or somesuch but without the nice climate.

All things considered, I’d advise them to stay and just regard this whole issue as a bit of a spat.

Sometimes the wayward shrubbery of my mind gets in the damn way

DSCN0363

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a creative bone in my body, or a creative cell in my brain. Not often, but often enough that it can frustrate me horribly.

It’s not so much that I ‘choose’ to create, but that I ‘must’ create. It’s what I do. Pisses me off on bad days. And it can make me loathe whatever project I am working on.

Over the past few days I have been trying to get back to painting. I have done paintings that I think are good. And I have done paintings I think are, frankly, shit. And I have done paintings that during the process I have often loathed, and yet the finished product has turned out agreeably. That is, of course, disregarding the paintings I have literally chucked out over the years.

One painting I have in mind was inspired by the Smith Rock area of central Oregon that we visited a few years ago and of which I took innumerable photographs. It’s truly a dramatic and exciting spot to view with its breathtaking cragginess. It was inspiring, to say the least and I could hardly wait to get home to do a painting that captured the impact of the many scenes.

And so I got home. And so I sat down at my easel and got my paints and brushes out and, after I had chosen a photo I wanted to capture, I went to work. And I worked and I worked and as time went on and things didn’t unravel the way I wanted them to I came to loathe the painting more and more. I wanted to scrap it on endless occasions. It wasn’t ‘speaking’ to me. I know ‘speaking’ sounds fatuous, but I can think of no other term that tells me when something is working right – working smoothly.

DSCN0296For example I have a couple of paintings that virtually painted themselves. One is titled Molokai Dawn and the other is Kauai at Dusk (Pictured) both inspired by scenes I photographed on our Hawaiian cruise of a couple of years ago. They were so easy and were, to me, quite effective in capturing what I wanted to capture. They ‘spoke’ to me.

And then there was goddamn Smith Rock. I labored, and cast it aside, labored and cast it aside. “I hate it,” I often exclaimed to Wendy in despair. She encouraged me to persevere, protesting that she liked it. It was ‘speaking’ to her.

What I had been doing, vainly, was trying to capture a photographic image of the scene. And then I chucked that and went a bit surrealistic. Damn it, it worked! For me, finally, it spoke.

It’s a relatively big painting and it has a place of prominence in our dining room. I like it. I could almost argue that it’s my favorite painting. You might not like it at all, but as long as I like it, that’s what counts.

And that is thanks to Wendy for encouraging me to persevere.

Damn creativity sometimes hides behind the shrubbery of my own mind – and expectations.