Sh*t My Dad Says and it’s raining again

On Off-Limits Zones in Hide-and-Go-Seek
“What the fuck are you doing in my closet? Don’t shush me, it’s my fucking closet.”

I never want to finish a book. I mean I love to read books and I usually have a lot to think about after I finish a good read, but there’s something about being in the middle of things and imagining possible plot twists which only really happen after a story starts, and before it ends. Even if it’s not a story book.

I just finished Sh*t My Dad Says which was by far a jovial, nostalgic, warm read. For those not familiar, author Justin Halpbern just released his memoir Sh*T My Dad Says recounting several episodes of his life starring his dad – which started after he posted a quote from his dad on his Twitter account and materialized thousands of followers seemingly overnight.

Aside from the amicable, blunt humour of his dad (which this book is loaded with), I was very impressed with the clarity that Halpbern was able to capture their relationship with each other. Having such a tight family myself, I’m a big fan of real world examples of families that get it right, or at least manage to get along. Many times this culture feels sterile and hollow in how we relate to one another, but Halpbern lets us into his childhood to see how his father can somehow colourfully utter five swear words and yet still convey himself as a responsible, caring father. Nobody walking through the book store picks up a book titled “Shit My Dad Says” to indulge their sentimental side, but by the end of it there really is no other feeling to have.

With a television show on the way I don’t know if I can expect to see the same genuine relationship I’d imagined in the 158 pages of Halpern’s book, but I can guarantee that I’ll tune in to see if I can’t enjoy William Shatner as Sam Halpbern, Justin’s dad. Think Red Foreman from That 70s Show, but from the point of view of Eric or Hyde. He comes off as a prick, but once you get him you understand he means well…and he’s funny as hell.


So it’s raining again in Vancouver (and rightfully so), but I can’t help but have my eye out for another read. I’ve got to feed this fire. If you’ve got a book to recommend, shoot me a comment and let me know what you liked and why you liked it.

the perfect bending

underneath this shale, frail
exoskeleton of paper and glass
glows a happiness (a contentment)
that when the wander of these days
and the wonder of this space
have all but fizzled out into the
far off disparate reaches of time
imploded into desolate dissipation
from dust bended into fume, floating
vapourously lonely and lean,
there in the galaxies of tender and new
births a fantasy, reality born
two sparked phantasmagorias
glorious bodies of red magic purple
unseen,

there

gliding into your gravity
shower a million, trillion
cries of ecstasy; your eyes
(the perfect bending)
behold my ending.

The best way to expose a fool is to let them speak

While this is an article written with a fresh Saturday morning angry zeal I want to assure you, I will hold the same sentiments long after this is posted.

Today I awoke to the morning daylight creeping through my slightly open blinds and helped myself to a fresh, juicy kiwi. Enjoying the sweetness bounce around my taste buds I sat down on the living room couch to browse the morning paper. The Anti-HST headline caught my eye, but the headline “Tamil kids locked up” caught my attention.

Immediately, I flipped through the pages and to the Westcoast News section of the Vancouver Sun and saw on one page, two articles by Douglas Quan of Postmedia News documenting the daily life of the women and children detained and voicing the questions and experience of a refugee lawyer working with the Tamils and on the other, a “Daily Special” making comparisons to Chinese “boat people” and a clever opinion piece by Stephen Hume.

After fingering through Quan’s articles, I turned to the “Daily Special” (Page A6 for those with a copy of the Sun), and I read the lead of the article: “Unlike the Chinese boat people of 1999, Sri Lankans say they will not slip across the border.” And then I raged. Here’s why:

1. Terming the Chinese immigrants of 1999 (illegal and otherwise) as “Chinese boat people” is an easy simplification of bigoted language and represents the xenophobia, racism, knee-jerk hatred and fear and ignorance that upper middle-class (here I admit my own ignorance) and portions of White Canada have in relation to poor people landing on “their” shores. Would these people be from Britain they would probably be hailed as “sailors,” but the fact is the news characterizes people landing on rusted ships to be as dirty and smelly as their ships, and as slippery as the waters they traveled, be they Chinese, Sri Lankan, or any other under-classed minority. It’s not hard to imagine a similar simplification of Sri Lankans ten years from now, let alone ten months. They’re just the flavour of the week.

2. “Will not slip across the border.” Since when does the word “slip” become a politically-neutral word for people coming to a new country for a better life? It’s not, and that’s my point. This article is filed under the “Daily Special” of a provincewide newspaper and for it to bounce around the precarious sentiments of political discrimination – that being the political scrutiny and policy that the Canadian government enacts as well as the corresponding media which seem to isolate certain kinds of people to discriminate at a time (in 1999, Chinese boat people; in 2010 Sri Lankan boat people) – is evidence of agenda, not news. Now I don’t necessarily blame the writers or the editors, but I look at the system of publishing: the system that is owned and dominated by CanWest Global.

3. It’s in the title: “These migrants want to call Canada home.” Well no shit. That’s why they got on the ship in the first place! To seek refuge away from the persecution and oppression they face in Sri Lanka to a country that will give them what they need to live a humane life. Okay, I know that we have to make sure they’re not terrorists, but let’s not forget they are asylum seekers, too. But since when did terrorists travel two months at sea to start their antics?

What exactly do they mean “these” migrants, anyway? Some more fear mongering on the part of the Vancouver Sun is at place, trying to stir instinctive, territorial backlash in “native” Canadians.

4. With an obvious bias towards xenophobia, the above article is given precedence as the Daily Special when the below article is Opinion. This doesn’t make me rage quite as much as spawn campers or aimbotters, but that something slanted can pass of as straight news is another begrudging reality of living an upper middle class life. A far cry from the realities of facing persecution so severe so as to leave my home country. This is how privilege works; I have the power and choice to tune in or not, and refuse to see the reality of the situations of the migrants.

Although these are some angry points, I want to acknowledge that The Vancouver Sun did place both the Daily Special and Hume’s opinion piece on the same page. In a newspaper, it’s easy to give voice to one side of an issue but to balance a point with a counterpoint is refreshing to see.

In closing, Hume’s article says it best:

How we respond to a few Tamils seeking safety and a future for their children says far more about us than it does about them.

David Maisel’s American Mine

Until late, as of the last 6 months or so, I haven’t really followed much modern art (or any art, really). But that’s all changed and I’ve been scoping out blogs here and there until today, when I came across this beautiful piece on aphotostudent’s blog. Basically David Maisel is an artist who has taken a fascination in copper, a particularly common material that we’ve been using since at least prehistory. He’s documented the rich, intricate stories of copper in its different forms, including how its mined and the products its been made into – like the morbid and ominous copper pails used to hold psychiatric patient remains left unclaimed by their families, decades abandoned. Just go to aphotostudent’s blog entry and click the 3 min. Youtube video to get the gist of it.

American Mine (Carlin, NV 1), 2007 by David Maisel

Here’s the photo that really caught my eye. From the angle in the shot, it almost appears as if the mine is looking back. The picture is an American Mine and the deep greens, tans, browns and bright whites really give the effect of contrast. Which is interesting as it appears Maisel’s themes touch upon the impact of humanity (industrialization, civilization, utilization, etc.) on natural systems. Enjoy.

Looking at the Age of Scrap

Static. Static. Beeeeeeeeeeeep. I interrupt your normal programming for this rant brought to you by the letter Q and viewers like you.

After doing some thinking on my own after my Family trip (which was refreshing as hell) I’ve regrettably reacquainted myself with the Internet. Not the actual systems thing, but the culture of limitless information and useless junk thing. Ran gets it right when he says we’re now entering the Age of Scrap. Of course he’s talking about the fall of industrial complexity and technological revolution, but we’re also living in postmodern times where a lot of “it” – stories, achievements, movies, plays, novels, songs, pictures, food – have already been done and now we’re looking at new ways of doing the old, making cars and boats out of pop cans and murals out of shopping bags. You know what I mean. That Green movement. But sadly, ending our destructive reign on the planet is not so easy as tweaking our actions, it’s also going to take a serious overhaul of our cultural understanding (or lack thereof) with which we make our choices; our values determine our actions.

And values we are lacking. Facebook and Twitter flutter with gossip, FML, and hash tags for look-at-me-I’m-so-important. Social media (noise) is a multi-million, multi-billion dolllar industry. Big business dollars litter cyberspace, floating their ads in every direction and suddenly gravity is a great, grounding gift. And so us peasants escape into the celebrity machine, feeding on the latest details of someone’s life and leaving a trail of our own baits and lures to capture everyone’s attention.

But no I will not look at you. Thankfully there are ignore friend requests in Facebook and ways I can gladly “deny” your existence in my online social media accounts. So I can go soak up the sun in the park and explore the mountains in my backyard.

But seriously, I’m disgusted with this internet narcissism. It perpetuates a careless culture that would rather make remixed YouTube videos of some person’s oh-so unfortunately-timed moment of weakness than make a pass for real socialization in our day and age. The way we interact on a daily basis has become so sterile and convenient and repetitive and pointless and automatic that we consider logging into a website ten times a day (twenty if you’re at work) and browsing people’s statuses as “keeping in touch.” But that’s a lie; the truth is we’re out of touch.

I read somewhere that watching the new 3D televisions atrophies depth perception. That’s Mother Nature’s irony at its best: that our love and fascination with our enhancement of reality – that is, our technological obsession with making the virtual even more “real” (which is just a substitute word for “enjoyable,” “painless,” and “easy”) – leads us to lose the very ability to appreciate the everyday and ordinary, which is no less magical than meteor showers, city walks filled with the fragances of world cultures, meadows of blooming flowers, and babies being born…OK I’m getting a little carried away but you get the message: there is a curtain to our reality that when we peer behind it, we enter the world again for the first time and see new things. So, excuse me while I make observations about the trash in our cybersphere. I’m thinking of what I can make with it.