Thursday, January 31, 2002

There are reasons people like me don't eat at McDonalds. It goes beyond the absence of any nutritional value in the "food", I discovered. Just the other day I was feeling peckish mid-morning, as my healthy cereal breakfast high had worn off. Houston tells me it is hypoglycaemic, or however it is spelled, which I think means that it is high in natural sugars. At any rate, I got horrible craving for a sausage McMuffin with egg. I walk the block and half to McDonalds Express, which servers a limited menu (no shakes) and I was confronted with their breakfast menu. Not only did I get the McMuffin, but I bought a McBurrito, or whatever it was called; powdered egg with sausage-like material in it. On returning to the office, I hid the bag under my coat so no one would say anything. Slunked down in my desk, I gorged back the greasy foodstuff, feeling twinges of guilt and shame.

Only a few hours later, I began to itch all over, as I felt like my skin was covered in an oil slick. Sure enough, the grease in the breakfast was now finding its way our of my body through my pores. I twitched and rubbed like a junkie waiting for a hit. I guess the little "McDonalds in Me" was looking for a way out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Anya and I are one step closer to being buried in debt and working to make payments. Ahhh, the joys of adult life.

We have been watching a lot of movies lately, among them:

How to Get Ahead in Advertising
Richard E. Grant at his annoyingly dramatic best. Why is that only the Brits seem to be able to master satire so well?

House of Mirth
Overblown schlock that feels like a Harlequin romance novel set to the screen. Poor little rich girl slut-wannabe pays the price for her outward loose image when it is revealed she is just another tight goldigger.

Bread and Roses
Ken Loach takes on Hollywood with his left-wing assault of the corporate world, led by immigrant janitors. A nice little white boy union organizer inspires the janitors to organize and unionize. It is supposed to be a true story, and I don't doubt the veracity of it nor do I think the exploitation was exaggerated. Some would say it is a very biased film, but Loach feels that the balance in Hollywood is so far on the right that one little left winger will do relatively little harm.

The Anniversary Party
Solipsistic crap. Each new character more annoying and loathsome than the previous. I guess that is the point, but what is the point in watching it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Not that I was ever really into it, but I definitely understand what it is like to be high on gasoline fumes. It was never intentional, and it was an affliction that crept up on me, so insiduous that I never knew it was affecting me unitl it was over.

It can all be blamed on my car. Well, I should take some blame as I chose to drive the car and leave the muffler in a heap by the garage and not attached to the car. But these were desperate times. If only you knew the poverty. The warning signs were there from them beginning....

I needed a car for a job that I needed to keep. Had I not gotten this job, I would have starved or have ended up working in a convenience store. It was a sales job in Victoria, and my boss was quite adamant that I have a car. Okay. I was too old to borrow money from my parents, so I borrowed from my roomate John, who incidentally, was a student. My budget was $600, which placed certain limitations on my choice of a car. I needed something reliable, practical and inexpensive to repair.

Why I chose a 1980 Cadillac Seville, I still wonder. There were so many warning signs when I went to look at it. The engine was covered in oil, a result, the owner explained, of a previous prospective buyer who had attempted to loosen the oil filter in the hopes of lowering the price. I chose to ignore this.

The interior roof was ripped so that a yellow foam was exposed, tiny pieces of which were always falling off and sticking to your clothes. Worst of all, the muffler fell off about 3 weeks into my owning it. When I took it to Budget Brake & Muffler, the mechanic advised me not "to spend a dime on this car.". You made a mistake, he said, now move on. I asked what was wrong.

Well first of all, the engine is about to die as you can hear the camshaft bumping into something else. There are maybe 3 or 4 of 6 cylinders firing. The gasoline in the dead cylinders is simply dripping out the exhaust system, which in your case no longer exists, so it simply emitted from a hole in the engine where the catalytic converter used to be (this had been removed). You're inhaling raw gasonline fumes when you drive this car, he warned, but I didn't seem to take notice. He leaned into me and said loudly "THAT SHIT'LL KILL YOU!". I thanked him for his advice and decided to drive the car until it died.

It lasted for another 4 or 5 weeks, when on a sunny day just after St Patrick's Day, the engine seized. I pulled over, walked to a tow truck company and asked for some help. The driver tried starting it, only to hear the sound of pistons locking in an eternal embrace with their cylinders. I bummed a smoke from him and he gave me a lift to the bus stop.

Days later, I began to notice an increased awareness and heightened senses and alertness. It was then that I realized I had been in a permanent state of lethrargy and intoxication since I had started driving the car.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Advice for entrepreneurs, by Tibor Fischer:

Jim could see how being an employee was a wondrous thing, and how he envied humble, lowly employees who could walk out of their offices and not have to think about work until the following day. The joys of employeedom overpowered him.

The adventureres who thought they lived dangerously by biking through civil wars, sky-diving, mountaineering, bungee jumping, freebasing finally didn't know real risk. There was nothing more dangerous than having your own company. You jumped out of an aeroplane, you were merely wagering your life; you ran a company, now matter how small, even a cornershop, you were risking your soul

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Why Schoolboy77, you may ask? There isn't much of a story behind this one. No fetishes or obsessions are at the core of my identity with this moniker. I first came across the term "schoolboy" used in a unconventionable or figurative sense in a book called Everything You Need to Know About Recreational Drugs. Part How-To guide and part objective descriptions of the chemical processes taking place and the consequences of using substances that people of all cultures use to get high, low, agitated, stoned, cranked, wired, drunk, chilled, freaked and fried. Written in the mid 70s by a trio of doctors it stated on the back that "neither pro nor con, we realize one thing: drug use is booming. The chance that it will subside in the future is virtually nil." It became my drug bible, and I read about every possible way to get high and some substances people ingest in the hope of getting high, such as banana skins. Why would anyone think that smoking banana skins, known as "mellow yellow" it states, would get you high.

The entry for codeine listed all of its street names, one of which was "schoolboy". I liked the idea of a drug being called schoolboy. I was only 16 at the time, and imagined seasoned drug-takers in the mid twentys reminiscing about the schoolboy days of popping Tylenol 3s and sucking back half a fifth of cheap scotch. I never actually tried codeine, but the name fascinated me.

The number 77 has no significance to me, other than being visually appealing.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Quite recently I was visited by a ghost from my past, long forgotten in a life I thought I had buried years ago. It came to me in the form of a wild-eyed vagrant outside my office at 700 in the morning.

When I was 19, I spent my first summer away from home working as a dishwasher at the Chateau Lake Louise. It was my first time away from my insulated, upper-middle class world of private school, early university acceptance and good sets of teeth. After 19 years of this, I was shocked by the people who worked at the hotel; to me they seemed like freaks in circus. I had never seen people so ugly, or stupid, or poorly dressed. I am not being cruel here, it was the truth. There were people there that could only have been inbred, at least I hope they were, as at least that would be an excuse for their bizarre faces and strange body proportions. Many of these had no hope in life but to work at a hotel in the middle of a national park, make minimum wage or above, and after years of dutiful service rise to the level of middle manager, taking home $40,000 (this seemed like a loft sum in 1990).

Of course for me, this job was merely a way for me to see the Canadian Rockies and party with other university-bound students. My shift at work was a way to pass the time between waking up and drinking, and the monotony of the job was perfect for a hangover. Once I had "mastered" the job, meaning that I could do it quickly and without having to speak with anyone, I simply went on autopilot, trying to fly under the radar and be left alone by the sadistic French sous-chef.

This led to boredom, and as I just could not get any sense of fulfillment from improving my work surroundings or empowering my colleagues (although I did teach one man to do long division), I turned to tormenting the coworkers who bothered me.

Rodney was one of them. He showed up one day looking for our manager. He knew my manager's name, as he had worked for him as a dishwasher previously, and now he was back here, unannounced, probably directly from prison, to get back on his feet working as a dishwasher. He was an unwelcome addition to our team of Asian students, French Canadians and newfies, so I sought to make him feel unwanted by ordering him around. Rodney constantly told us that he had 6 years of dishwashing experience under his belt, and that he didn't need me to tell him what to do. I liked telling him what to do, being an arrogant little fuck at the time, but he always shot right back at me with his "6 years of dishwashing experience".

I should point out here that Rodney was a wiry but sinewy man about 30 years of age, with black hair and and a black beard that made it difficult to visually determine just how greasy it was or how long it had been since he showered. His teeth had not seen dental floss since his early teens, and he constantly reeked of a body odour than can only be acquired through years of poor hygiene.

Convinced that attempts at patronizing Rodney were only strengthening his position and his resolve, I resorted to more effective and more cowardly tactics. I drew crudely rendered pictures inside the bathroom stall of Rodney in various forms of copulation with easily identifiable coworkers, all male. It didn't take long for him to catch word that his manhood had been taken in some form in view of hundreds of employees. Humiliated and enraged, Rodney burst upon our manager to find out who had made these drawings, threatening to "kill the motherfucker" who made them.

I was terrified once I saw the look in his eyes. I have never seen anything like it since. He had nothing to lose and was ready to go back to prison to show his coworkers that no one messes with him and gets away with it. I can imagine that you can only acquire such an expression after witnessing extremely disturbing events. Rodney would have no reason or mercy once he went off.

He was calmed down by the manager, sent home to chill, and the drawings were removed from the bathroom wall. I ignored Rodney from that day on, leaving him to live in his fantasy world of moving up the dishwashing ladder. Until one day, while I was on pot-washing duty (as opposed to the conveyor belt dishwasher- that took a team of 6), Rodney asked me to mop up the inch of water on the floor that was leaking into his work area. I told him to do it himself if it bothered him, threw my rag in the sink, and went off to look for my afternoon hiding spot to kill the time.

While I was gone, Rodney slipped on the water I had left behind, fell and broke his hip. He was hospitalized for 3 weeks. The next time I saw him he was in a wheelchair at the hospital in Banff, having a smoke outside, enjoying his newfound addiction to morphine.

I never though about Rodney again. Until one day last fall, I was walking to work when a bearded, long-haired vagrant approaches me outside my office. He asks for change, I say no, but I look at the eyes and realize it is him. I am still walking but frozen. He notices that I know who he is.
He says, "hey man, don't you know who I am ?"
No, I say, ready to throw my hot coffee in his face and run into the office.
"Want me to take my shirt off?" A bizarre offer, but he pulls up his shirt to reveal his prison tattoos.
I yell at him to get the fuck away from me.
He backs down, and goes slinking down the alley.

But the eyes; I could not get over the madness in those eyes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

I am all about individual autonomy. Perhaps it is due to my education by draft dodging lefties, but I feel we should be free to make our own choices provided we are able to deal with the consequences.

It therefore bothers me intensely when I see others concerned with limiting the choices of others. Choices that have no impact or consequences on anyone else's life. Hence my strong convictions regarding the "war" on drugs and my complete lack of interest in moving to the US.

This morning a co-worker comes in to our work area and mentions that he needs to speak to our HR department about our hiring practices. Heads pop up from their cubicles and ask why. Concerned co-worker says that he was walking into the back door of our building ( it is in a long, wide alley that is popular dumpster diving spot), and a woman in front of him was walking towards the door, and as she reached into her pocket to pull out her security badge, something dropped from her pocket which turned out to be a joint.

Why would anyone care about this? I mean, sure it might even shock me but it's none of my business. The woman was still in training, so it's not like she was going to drive a forklift or talk to customers. No one bats an eye when new recruits show up for training hung to the gills every day, barely able to see through the blood in their eyes, in fact people think it is funny when this happens.

Friday, January 04, 2002

Man, do I sound pretentious in that previous post about having dinner at Republic? Like its name carries so much cachet that people will immediately assume I know everything there is to know about New York. And then the part about going to Spa? Who the fuck do I think I am?

If I committed some crime of pretending to be someone I wasn't, I have most certainly paid my debt to society, as I spent all of Wednesday night curled up on the bathroom tiles, hugging the toilet bowl and praying that I would just vomit. I have never felt such stomach pain.

I think I was the victim of food poisoning, most probably at Republic. I had ordered my meal by the number, and I am convinced that the waiter brought me the wrong meal. Beef noodle I wanted, chicken I got. After sending it back, it returned, with a little attitude and a firm statement that I had ordered the chicken, worded and with the tone that I was not able to remember what I ordered.

Unwilling to argue with this arrogant fuck, I accepted the chicken ( it's all noodles anyway), and was about to dig in when the waiter reached in front of me and planted a squeezable bottle of hotsauce next to the bowl. "I always use this sauce with this meal."

Perhaps I was overzealous with the sauce, but most likely it had gone off. Lucia had a bit of it, and she could not sleep due to her stomach ache. She got off easy though, because I spent from 1:30am to 5am in the bathroom, writhing, aching, bitching about that waiter as I was convinced that he planted the sauce on me to make me sick, just to show me that no one questions his waiter abilities, especially some provincial fuck from Vancouver with last year's Campers shoes. "That motherfucker, that motherfucker..." I kept repeating all night.

I had to sleep all yesterday, but I was well enough to get to the play Flicker, put on by the Big Art Group. All I can say is that I would never see anything like that in Vancouver.

We did end up going to Spa, which I recognized immediately from the movie Made. I only had one drink and went home, but it filled my checkbox under the "visit a club while in NY" category.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002


Decades ago, the old Nazi, Hermann Goering, leaned in to his microphone at the Nuremberg trials and held forth on war and propaganda. "Why of course the people don't want war," began Goering. "That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along."
The Nazi leader paused, then continued. "All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

Sound familiar?

Thanks to wood s lot for this one.
Anya and I made it safely to NY, although I was on the verge of being sick during the entire flight. The combination of raw oysters, chocolate fondue, copious amounts of wine and beer, no sleep and extreme turbulence caused me to hold the air sickness bag in my right hand for 5 hours. The one time I got up from my seat to use the bathroom I was sent back to my seat, despite my pleading about sickness. However, the flight attendant flashed a radiant smile and displayed an impeccably sunny disposition while sending me on my way. Hey, this was Cathay Pacific.

We spent the day exploring SoHo, Greenwich Village, The Guggenheim, and the East Village. After a day of walking we were exhausted and famished when we got back to Chris and Lucia's appartment; salvation was found at Republic, a noodle house in Union Square. A little

Tomorrow we're off to the MoMA and then to Spa later in the evening....