Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the fascist swimming hole of my dreams.

One of my most favorite things about living in Montréal is that for some obscure reason, swimming is free at certain hours each day. Apparently it's the law. I admit that I haven’t actually researched this. Like most local lore, I rely on friends. Friends who may themselves be relying on other friends. Someone may simply be making it all up.

But, I do walk through the door of the swimming pool at the appointed hour, and no one ever stops me.

Free swim isn’t a secret though. So other people show up too.

Bringing me to my least favorite thing about Montréal; traffic.

It doesn’t seem to matter if you are walking on a sidewalk, or driving down le 40, or getting on a metro train, common sense is absent while moving. The swimming pool is no different.

When a lane is posted as fast, medium, or slow, it isn’t the measure of a swimmer, merely the speed at which the person is swimming. Maybe it bruises the ego to be in the slow lane, even if you are slowly kicking a flutter board back and forth.

Today everyone was working hard to be in first. I’m not sure why, as there isn’t a finish line. Just another 25 meters, which was very similar to the last 25 meters. Vite lane was suffering from grid lock caused by girl in bikini slapping the water, which made her think she was swimming really fast.

I tried to space it out so I had a little distance to go, and slow things down a bit myself. Turns out she still got in the way. Then someone decided to pass her which caused a near head on.

So I switched to moyen lane. I figured that these people would be better behaved, and they were, due I think, to accepting their limitations.

But just like the sidewalks outside, the perfect place for a chat is right at the end of the lane. Standing in the water makes it feel like fitness, I suppose. Would those people invite guests over and just stand in a tub of water with a cup of coffee?

That sounds like a good idea, now that I write it down.

I realize that people in the moyen lane fail to understand that getting to the end of the lane is important to keep up the momentum. The people in the vite lane suffer from the same issue, but it comes from a different place. They are simply self centered.

I decided it was time to pilot a flutter board around the lente lane, because that is where you go when you move slow; the slow lane. Others like to cling to the vite lane because they think the slow lane makes you seem weak or dumb, which is why moving to the lente lane means putting up with water walkers. Apparently the do-whatever-makes-you-feel-good lane, which only caters to water walkers and those that like to kick wildly while holding the side of the pool isn’t good enough for the serious water walkers.

The most serious water walker had staked out his territory and there would be no talking to the old man. Admittedly, he was easier to pass in the pool. Not so much later on when he took up his usual post in front of the sauna door, naked, doing stretches. Some events require a great deal of distance to appreciate the humour, and naked old men are one of them. I write this aware that one day, I too will be the naked old man.

In some rare instances fascism has its place. The local swimming hole could use a little more.

But who to complain too? You can’t complain about free.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

winter in Montréal.

Everyone seems surprised when winter comes.
It happens every year about this time.
That first day of heavy snowfall reminds me of how stupid humans become when massed.
It also reminds me of how lucky I am not to own a car...

or a cell phone.
I don't care for cell phone cameras.
I was suspicious that this was an art project.
The phone was probably taking my picture.

Here's a pair of leaves that shouldn't have been so surprised.

These two leaves were getting ready to drop to the ground, but got up late.
I find I have the exact same problem when it's cold out.

look up.

I don't think people look up enough.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the new york bagel café.

This café was in Edmonton. It had the best soup; sour dill pickle.

My roommate back then worked there. She treated customers poorly because she thought she was pretty enough to get away with it. I am sad to say that she was right, and it annoyed me. But she was nice enough to me.

The entire staff communicated in polish. They were almost always women, and always looked interesting. I tried not to stare too often.

It was the smallest café possible. I often pretended to read something while listening to other people's conversations. I practiced listening a lot more back then, and it was hard to ignore anyone's conversation anyway.

One day the café burnt down.

The new age bookstore next door also burnt down. The psychic on staff didn't warn anyone.

what's the name of your high horse?

I'm looking for answers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

don't smoke in bed.

I took this photo a few years ago when French Panic and I lived apart for 10 months or so. She was living in a smallish apartment in the same neighbourhood that we live in now. Because she was a graduate student, she had a friend find the most affordable apartment possible in a nice area.

That was how she came to live in Chateau Clark.

It was not much of a Chateau.

I visited twice. The police and/or fire department showed up on both visits.

I took this picture during my surprise summer visit. We were woken early in the morning by the fire alarm. French said sleepily not to worry, the alarm went off all the time. But I smelled smoke.

I looked through the peep whole to see a scrawny man with a small and very wet dog under his arm and a mattress being dragged behind him, cursing in french the whole way down the stairs.

From the shape and state of the mattress it was obvious that the idiot had fallen asleep next to his dog with a smoke still in his mouth. Hence, the lamest of fires.

French Panic and I watched all the excitement from the balcony. The one fireman doing the work seems to not even be in uniform. The other guys did things too, I just caught them standing around and laughing at the stupidity of the fire.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

it's a coup, a schoolyard coup.

Stevie is a bully. He’s the smartest guy from his neighbourhood and gets to run a pretty good racket with his buddies. His buddies aren’t allowed to speak much though, except for one of his dumber cousins, Stock. Stevie’s mom makes him take care of Stock.

Stéphane is smarter than Stevie, but he has glasses and as head geek, he is often made fun of, mostly by nasty viral videos that Stevie posts on the facebook. In private, Stevie likes to call Stéphane a fag. Stéphane doesn’t speak english all that well, which prevents him from getting in any good comebacks.

Jack is the guy trying to get laid. To impress the girls, he organizes rallies to free things like chickens from chicken farms, and Tibet from China. So far he has not gotten laid or freed anyone. He has collected many signatures and phone numbers... mostly from the girls.

Gilles is the goth kid. He doesn’t really give a shit about anyone at school. He’s from away and was home schooled by a set of hipster parents. He’s only hanging out at school to prove to himself, his parents, and anyone else that school is bullshit.

The geeks, jocks, goths and neo-hippies share the schoolyard. The problem is that everyone, minus Gilles, wants to be in charge.

Stevie is sort of in charge. As a bit of a big guy with a bit of a temper, he exerts a bit of authority. It worked fine enough the year before, and in the first weeks of class, it seemed everything was going to be the same. Stevie figured he’d get his way.

So one day, Stevie quietly tells his boys, except for Stock, that he’s got a plan that will bring the rest of the student body to their knees. He’s gonna shake down every student in the yard for all the lunch money they’ve got.

‘No one’s gonna complain’ he tells his crew, ‘cause the teachers are pretty much broke right now. They won’t care that the kids don’t have money for lunch. They don’t even have money for lunch.’

The reason the teachers were broke? The music room and theater had recently suffered fire damage. It was complicated, but somehow an overall reduction in payroll was the solution.

The teachers knew Stevie was involved somehow due to being vocally opposed to classes involving frivolous artsy activites. Faculty couldn’t prove anything and anyway, it was a matter best resolved by the schoolyard.

One Wednesday he sends his loudest buddy, Jimmy, to the top of the monkey bars. With his big, booming voice, Jimmy tells the schoolyard that no one is allowed to have lunch money anymore.

Stéphane’s mouth, as it was so often, was slack jawed in wonder. Could this really happen? He cleaned his glasses and looked over to see what Jack would do.

The crowd of girls around Jack’s card table suddenly parted. Jack quickly figured that no lunch money meant nobody buying his bake sale goods for the starving masses in far off places. It also meant fewer chicks.

Even Gilles suddenly raised an ever so cool eyebrow. Something deep within the cool was offended. Despite not wanting to even be in the school yard, he wasn’t going to have any lunch money revoked. No money meant no smokes. The goth crowd would not stand for it.

A quiet descended on the schoolyard.

Stevie’s smug smile changed to a frown. He had forgotten, until just now, that when alone, the goths, geeks and neo-hippies couldn’t possibly hurt him and his jocks.

But as he watched, Stéphane nodded slowly to Jack, and they started moving towards each other in a frighteningly determined fashion. For a moment Stéphane looked over at Gilles, perhaps remembering their time together in the younger grades, when times were simpler.

One could almost detect a faint smile pass across Gilles pale white face.

A panicked Stevie moved to the top of the monkey bars, looking down upon the student body and the teachers who had gathered by this time. Stevie knew he was forced to follow the schoolyard code. That called for matters to be resolved by his fellow students, or risk judgment from the faculty, which for some reason included the perverted janitor that lived in boiler room.

He tried to bully on, but now time was short. His lies trailed off to muttering, which trailed off into sobbing. His precious monkey bars, the pinnacle of the school yard, was about to become the property of Stéphane, the supposed wimp, and Jack, that sleazy hippy wannabe.

And that is just what happened.

Gilles holds still holds court over the back steps of the school. He spends a lot of time smirking and wondering why anyone at their age would actually want to hang out at the monkey bars.

Jack and Stéphane get along surprisingly well and even though Stéphane was planning to switch schools, well that’s not going to happen anymore. You see, Jack managed to get some action, due to actually doing something this last time instead of just yelling about doing something. Jack managed to get Kiley to french with Stéphane. Suddenly Stéphane is cool. Cool enough for Gilles to buy him a black coffee now and again.

Stevie still tried to bully. He often brings the whole affair up again, but people stopped listening to him so much. I heard the perverted janitor has been watching him pee though.

Friday, November 28, 2008

not buying it today.

I'm not buying anything today.

I don't think I'm better than anyone, and I'm not doing it because Adbusters told me to.

I'm still pissed about Adbusters screwing up my order for guilt free sneakers. Just like hippies. Sell you on an idea and then forget to follow through.

I'm not buying anything because this morning a Walmart employee was trampled to death by a mass of consumers. They didn't even stop when the paramedics and cops arrived. Just kept on shopping with a vengeance. Just like the above fish. All teeth and cold eyes.

There is nothing worth dying for in Walmart.

I don't feel like being identified as a shopper today.

I suppose I do think I'm better than some people.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

blog statistics.

Recently a popular Montréal blogger (I really hate that word - let's call him a journalist. It sounds much more exciting) linked to my video of a baby squirrel. Fagstein gets more hits than me, and as a result many people clicked on the link to see the cute squirrel that temporarily confused me for a much larger squirrel.

I had a sudden jump in internet traffic. Everyone was stopping by to look at the cute baby squirrel, not leaving an encouraging comment, and then promptly pulling back out into the information super highway.

I was excited, expecting that book deal, or at least to create the latest viral video and be invited to the Oprah show to have middle aged american ladies scream and clap and go 'AAhhhhhh' as my cute squirrel baby captures their easily manipulated hearts... and then I imagine Oprah would say something like 'LOOK UNDER YOUR SEEEAATTSS!!! EVERYONE IS GOING HOME WITH THEIR OWN BAAABBBBBYYY SQUIRRELLLL!!!!'

This has not yet happened.

[Lately, with French Panic working at home too, I've taken to having an extended coffee break around the time Oprah comes on. I'm warming up to her, I suppose.]

And my traffic quickly returned back to the usual average.

With all the temporary attention, my hubris got the better of me, and I returned to my obsession with hits and page views.

Here is what I learnt; I get hits everyday for a post I did regarding the infamous man purse. So much so that I am now the number 3 hit in google images. Anyone in the world searching for a photo of a man purse eventually wanders by my blog.

You'd think this would give me thousands of hits.

You'd think this would make me unbelieavably happy.

It does not, for both.

I did receive a somewhat angry comment from someone accusing me of being narrow minded regarding man-purses and questioning my Canadianism. Perhaps my humour didn't come across properly. Perhaps that person is an idiot. Everyone has a limit. Mine is man purses. I am encouraging of satchels and I believe it is a combination of fabric, strap length and method of carry that distinguishes the two.

What pisses me off about this is that no one stays past the image. I doubt people even read the post. And it has to be one of the worst pictures that I've posted here. Is that the extent of my internet fame?

So what makes a blog a success? Apparently gossip about famous people, bad photos of famous people, bad photos of naked ladies/famous people, muttering about your religious beliefs, giving far too much information about your sex life and of course, mommy/marriage blogs.

I will not be writing about my sex life.

I've decided that internet fame is not worth it. This humble little blog will not make me rich or famous and I can live with that.

I will continue to fight the man purse.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Near and Far.

Here is the full version of my interview with Mark Near and Rob Phillips, otherwise known at Near and Far or Dumb and Dumber, best friends since grade 8. How many of us are still best friends with anyone from grade 8?

Well not me, anyhow. Grade 8 sucked.

Near and Far work for Alberta Rapattack which is group of forest fire fighters that rappel from helicopters.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

31 seconds of cute.

This baby squirrel was the second one to jump into my hand in 2 days. I think it was just a sudden spring snow storm that confused them.

Or I am the squirrel whisperer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

my day in pictures.

It's fall. Here is a picture of fall.

Here is another one.

Cigarette butts and tire rubber look not so bad when wet.

This is how Montréal pedestrians walk the sidewalks.
You'd think more people would get hurt.

I don't know who this guy is...

but drunk teevee man doesn't approve.

I'm not sure that that is what that dog is really thinking.
(that three times in a sentence. SNAP!)

Hey Steve!


Big pig.

Cantaloupe 99¢.
I didn't buy because I already have a mango.
You can have too much fruit.

Pineapples are better for you than you think.

Apple is the nerd of the fruit world.


Neither of these two is me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

walking in the rain.

Yesterday was rainy, which I love. This is probably contrary to what most people wish for. But most modern people don't understand adventure, and that suits me just fine. Keeps them off the sidewalks during rain showers.

The best adventures don't even really require a parachute (although the need for a parachute does guarantee an adventure - that is a hard and fast rule). Just leaving the house is enough, preferably with a sidekick. Mine was French Panic.

Some sort of obstacle must present itself at some point. Don't look too hard for one. Ours was a red light or two.

Patience and doing nothing can often make most problems go away, however.

Another key element to an adventure is to not be well prepared. Somewhat prepared, but you just have to leave something up to chance. In our case, we didn't dress 100% for the weather. Our sneakers and long pants were very wet long before we made it to the end of our block. Also, we did not bring chocolate. Dangerous. Try to always remember snacks.

Special gear is important because it makes you feel special. We had umbrellas.

A mission is helpful so that you know when the adventure is over, although a true adventure is never over until you are safely back at home enjoying some warm beverage and grilled cheese sandwiches. Our mission was to go to Home Depot and retrieve an element (for an oven - I wanted to leave this vague but that seems indulgant now, so I'll do the next best thing and explain my parenthesiss).

Remember how those hobbits snuck into Mordor? Pretty much the same thing here but without the gollum. The mostly empty parking lot was a very sinister place. Imagination is an important part of every adventure.

An important thing to do on an adventure is to check all the pockets and all the bags that you have. I did have a flask of scotch that remained undiscovered until after the adventure. That could have made Home Depot a little more fun and our feet feel a little less wet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Canada... why so lazy?

I try to avoid preaching as it tends to bring out the worst qualities in humans. So I’m torn apart trying to chastise my fellow Canadians that refused to vote this week.

Here is the dilemma; we live in what folks like to call a ‘free’ or ‘democratic’ in which we have a chance to choose our overlords. We are lucky to have this option, but it is, in the end, an option. I must respect the right of those who refuse to put the effort of walking some blocks and use a pencil to put an X in one of several happy little circles.

I would like to believe that these people have come to this decision with some sort of intellectual process as in ‘I refuse to vote due to the fact that all options sicken me’ or ‘I am not well enough informed to make an adequate decision.’

That sort of sentiment I can get behind. I do love sticking it to the man and when the election was announced, I had a similar notion. Since moving to this Montréal home I have voted in several elections and each one leaves me feeling rather inconsequential.

However, as interviewers with the non-voting public show us, most people are just too lazy. Some seem more interested in the American election because it makes for better television. It certainly is the theater of the absurd.

We are Canadian though. We cannot vote for an American president and with 15 minutes of coverage on the Daily Show each evening, I think we can safely say we are as well informed as will matter to the average Canadian.

Other folk didn’t know about an election, which is frightening since so many found the time to turn election signs into what they ought to be; mockery of anyone foolish enough to run for public office.

I do enjoy the idea of the Bloc Québecois being run by KISS.

Good old Gilles seemed be the main target for pranksters. I think his pretty eyes disturbed some holligan. I'm not sure what the 'w' is about. It certainly takes away from the blacked out eyes.

Perhaps it is better that the stupid not vote.

It is embarrassing.

Only 59.1 percent of eligible voters bothered to vote. THE WORST EVER since 1867!!!

As if that wasn’t enough, my precious CBC had people calling in asking if the election could not be done online next time. Holy shit. We are a lazy bunch. There isn’t even any snow on the ground yet.

I won’t go on about thousands dying for our right to vote, mostly because I don’t believe that to be ultimately true at all. We don’t really live in a truly free country. No one does. We all have to live by rules that allow society to run somewhat smoothly. True freedom would infer that I could go and beat Mr. Harper with some sort of hard, blunt object because he needlessly ripped funding away from the very people who could help fund me and my little project. Jerk.

If we don’t bother to vote for people to make such rules, we will find a day when it will not be an option. We will then only be voting for our favorite dancer or singer or survivor.

We need this electoral process. We need our administrators to be scared of us at least once every few years. Otherwise we might finding ourselves having to protest. I’m warning you, lazy Canadians, protesting involves much more walking (sometimes running, fighting, getting arrested etc.) never mind all the extra dull reading involved.

Seriously, get off your ass next time this comes up. You did pay for it after all.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

back alleys.

The cultural measure of any town or city can be found in the alley ways. This is a far more productive way of discovering what is going on than by figuring out how many people appreciate the ballet or opera or how many art galleries a town has.

The problem with focusing on art galleries and ballet or opera fans, is that it is not a direct contribution by the residents. That is unless the production is put on by the community, which can backfire, since acting and singing aren’t automatic skills for most of us.

Each region should have its own flavour, its own sense of expression, instead of following some stuffy interpretation of culture approved by the local chamber of commerce.

Why I choose the humble alley as an indicator to a town’s artistic worth is because it a largely ignored space. In most places it serves only as a backdoor, a place of utility and nothing more. It makes a very nice canvas for the brave and creative, if any such people are allowed to freely express themselves in the community.

Here are some photos of the back alley behind the town square of Hinton, Alberta.

Pretty dull. Nothing on the wall. Relatively clean, but not inspiring or interesting. This is what Hinton is like; uninspiring and utilitarian.

Here are some back alley photos from my current home, Montréal.

This is more than a mere tag or symbol of personal ego. People clearly worked hard to paint an ignored part of the landscape and had more to express than their name hastily scrawled with an eye out for the cops.

Even if the wall is one colour, that is a measure of someone’s choice, of an expression of what they hold important and unimportant. Some might call that art. Perhaps many would prefer that walls be plain. Sometimes that looks good. Sometimes that’s the sort of thing that easily gets funding from the government; uninspired and inoffensive art.

I would rather risk being offended than bored.

Monday, September 29, 2008

the wasabi.

My favorite part of the sushi is the wasabi.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation or why I haven’t updated this blog in over 2 and a half months.

This spring I left my happy little home in Montréal and returned to my old job as a rappel fire fighter in Hinton, Alberta. I went with a brand new video camera with the aim to capture the romance and complete lack of romance that is forest fire fighting.

That’s the short version.

In between 2 week shifts, I spent my days off in the following ways:

1. Hanging out in Hinton town.
2. Heading back to Montréal, proving to me where home is.
3. Another week in Hinton, this time with a brand new bicycle.
4. Going to the very first Pemberton music festival, and witnessing, from the confines of my nylon government issue tent, a coke deal gone horribly wrong. Thankfully the threat of gunplay turned out to be idle.
5. Showing French Panic around Hinton town.

After these little side adventures, I spent 2 and a bit weeks on a crew of two; me and a rookie driving around and burning piles of wood on a strange and ultimately useless mission of reducing the threat of a forest fire eating up a small community surrounded by dangerous trees.

I don’t think it will work.

You would think that lighting things on fire would be fun. It is. For about a day, maybe two. Then, as with most things, as it becomes routine, your senses dull and you start day dreaming of better places and things to do.

So when that was over, I visited my in-laws in Edmonton. This was not one of the better places I had day dreamed about. Still, they seem to really like me and I helped out with computer related tasks. I’m their tech support. In exchange, I got free room and board and a ride to the airport. A pretty good deal.

The airplane took me to Saltspring Island which is where my parents live. I was there for 10 days. I think 2 visits a year is more than enough for an adult child to make to parents that live on the other side of the country.

The problem, as you likely all realize, is that no matter how old you are, when you come to your parent’s home, which they insist is your home too (even though it hasn’t been for well over a decade) you become a 13 year old in their minds first, and then in your behaviour shortly after.

After that long visit, I got back on a plane, with my bike in tow, after receiving a stern lecture from a Westjet check in clerk (Westjet isn’t always the happy, fuzzy airline you thought it was), and headed back to happy Montréal.

Well, I’m happy anyway.

There is an election and the cops are angry about something and therefore wearing blue jeans and ball caps (wow. What a pointless protest. Try no pants). Somebody is kidnapping cats in my neighbourhood. And it’s still hard to get a smile out of a stranger busily staring and evaluating your wardrobe choices.

Still, it is very good to be home.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

what's a bum for?

Pooping, silly.

I really wanted an excellent reason to show off this photo. So I have thought a while on bums, but I can’t find anything remarkable to say about them, other than I’m a fan.

Which really doesn’t make much sense, since the two biggest jobs for a bum are sitting and shitting. Neither of those activities are sexy (to me – I must not judge). And yet, bums are sexy.

I’m friends with some girls (well, women really, but they would call me a boy, so fair is fair), none of which appreciates their boobs being ogled. But somehow, if their ass is checked out, they mostly just laugh.

Why? Because bums are funny… and because even the most prudish of folks will sometimes find themselves staring at an ass and wondering what it looks like without pants. We all do it.

That’s the marvelous thing about looking at bums; it is that much harder to get caught staring. And there is an endless variety of bums to look at. Even ugly bums fascinate me. How, for instance, do the nearly no bum people sit down? Do they long for a firm bubble butt like mine? Have they never known sitting comfort? I feel poorly for the no-bum people.

So here’s to bums… Flat bums, Tight bums, flabby bums and old bums… Huzzah for bums. May yours only occasionally smell.

Give yours a squeeze. You’ll probably smile.

discarded fruit.

I work 2 weeks and then one week off. Last days off I went home to Montréal. I took this picture then.

This week I just hung around Hinton, cause planes are expensive.

I really do prefer Montréal, despite and probably because of the chaos of the backalleys.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

chocolate milk

I don't drink chocolate milk. I never really have. Someone once told me that it was really just shitty milk and to cover the bad taste scientists cleverly used chocolate flavorin'. I wish that person had not told me that, because even if it is lies, I'll likely still have the possibility that I was drinking sub standard milk in the back of my brain.

Adults that still enjoy chocolate milk always make me smile, especially when they use straws.

And this guy really loves his chocolate milk.

somewhere else

Somedays I'd rather be elsewhere.....

possibly very far from Hinton.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Near and Far part 2

He can learn most skills in a day.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

it's a calypso...

I’ve taken it off some pretty sweet jumps, despite the warning.

The other day we got off work early because there was lightning and we happened to be in the exact wrong sort of place for that. Since we were living the high life in Canmore, getting off early didn’t seem so bad. Plus I had the notion that it was time for me to own a new set of wheels. I just read that morning, in the free newspaper, that car sales were down 30% and bicycle sales were up to some other more different number. I feel pretty optimistic about that.

So I took a rookie, she’s my BFF on the crew and a Canmore local, and we headed to the nearest bike shop. They didn’t have anything for me except for clothes that look better on others that can skateboard better than me.

Off to the next store. I ran. Rookie kept meeting old friends and lagged behind. She already had a bike.

As I came in the door, I saw this bike. And it was perfect.

I even ignored the fact that I really wanted an orange bike. Somehow it suddenly seemed far too superficial a concern. Sort of how when you fall for someone, any preconceived ideas about a dream girl (or boy) somehow seem mundane. I bought it in about 5 minutes. Sometimes, but not often, the value of something exceeds the price.

I’ve named the bike Bibi, because when something is this cool and beautiful, you just have to name it.

This is the bike I will ride until I'm 90 years old. That sort of constant is comforting.