Gatto notes

The owner doesn’t trust me
my hair not slick enough
or perhaps it’s my laptop
keeps peering at my plugged in AC adaptor like I'm about to
burn down his restaurant
-who would rather type than smoke cigarettes?

Gatto Nero
swimming with thirtysomething concubines
hangers on
Gatto been around for decades
new life every five years (this is why people have children?)
regulars congregate at the bar and wait for something exciting
this is old-world flavour in Toronto?

The edge of Little Italy, beside the statue of Camoes the one-eyed Poet of Portugal. Tension simmers. Even the Mod Club attempts an ethnic overthrow.
Gatto plays the two Lucios - Dalla and Battisti - and other tricolore classics, bulwarks against dehegemonization (it rankles me so I'm forced to invent words).

Already the shoe-repair guy on the opposite corner, and now the Dominion only sells Portuguese sausage – no capicollo, cacciatorre or prosciutto. Creeping fading glory. Good thing we never saw an all-College Street World Cup; I’d need a passport to go west of Ossington. Italy vs Portugal. Both sides subverted by the stupid as rocks College Promenade, a wild card, a yuppie gambit, it’s divide and conquer as the Mediterraneans go at each other allowing the Vietnamese grocers and Vegetarian sippers to team up, sneak in from the West and instill communist values all the way to Euclid.

Back at the Gatto-
a damn fine cappuccino I admit, plus pane cioccolato
lunchtime penne is tops for four blocks in either direction
packed day to night.
high quotient of goodlooking people in their forties
more mature than the Sicilian at the end of the block, haven for younger Ginos, St. Clairites and 905ers with small children, relatives of the owners, real Sicilians, famously closed in to the world (where else would you get an answering machine in dialect?)

I run into my colleagues:
the teacher/writer looking to organize a Toronto bike tour, asks my advice;
and the artist who teamed up with me for charity, recommends an even better place with an even better cappuccino but
I can hardly keep up with Gatto
also a blonde bimbo in tennis shorts who swears she's met me but no no I'm nothing if not
inconspicuous and yet my attention pricks and my glands are
stirring. Ah the hormones, that distasteful attraction, wreaks havoc on my dispassion...

If there’s one thing I know it’s coffee shops. I'm not a natural street scenester but inspiration must come from somewhere and it’s ‘write what you know’ and I know I don’t know much but fly on the wall gets the best dirt. You dig too deep then you to begin to empathize and there goes that smartass air of superiority and your audience turns on you and soon NOW magazine won't return your calls...


Monday self-analysis

Let me bore you with details:

6:30am woke up, showered, dressed
6:55 vitamins, juice, newspaper
7:00 rode Mario to physio (pilates) appt in Fashion district
7:30 physio with Karen
8:30 on bicycle, looking for Zanta for Punshine shoot, did not find him (my white whale - I must persevere)
9:00 more breakfast at new trendy College St spot; read 'Conde Nast' and wrote in journal
9:45 rode Mario to Harbord/Crawford bike shop to locate new bungee cords. Guy in shop says "I don't know what to charge - no one ever buys these...". We settle on $2.20 for the pair.
10:00 bike to Bloor/Gladstone library to find 'The City in History', classic by Lewis Mumford I always wanted to read; place 'hold'; return home
10:30 on bicycle with camera; photograph Alexandra Park neighbourhood (Bathurst-Spadina, Queen-Dundas), for 'TorontoGuy'
12:15pm back home, wrote personal ad for online classified site, one joke, one serious; surfed Craigslist and sighed at the mass futility
1:00 leftover pizza
1:15 email former boss; keep in touch for new job possibility
1:45 sweaty from physio and biking, so shower again, shave; apply aftershave and cologne (the goodlooking people I run into on my bike!)
2:00 Mario to Linuxcaffe on Harbord, read investment book in accordance with idea to take Canadian Securities Course in autumn; reach p. 124 (pretty good!)
3:30 online banking/investment checkup
3:45 spot yet another 'copywriter' position; note to self - 'write cover letter' (it could happen)
4:00 post on FIAC

still to come:
5:30 ride Mario to sketchy east end
6:00 volunteer with national political campaign
9:00 bike home in the dark from sketchy east end
9:45 cook asparagus before it goes bad, maybe thaw frozen burger
10:15 wash dishes, drink tea
10:45 email friend re Labour Day plans
11:00 attempt silly post for FIAC - use bungee cords as inspiration?
12:00midnight sleep

now it's after 4:30, and I've got less than an hour. What should I do?

Easy: ride my bike. (need at least 3 hours/day)


massive template failure

...results in emergency makeover.

My template suffered the html equivalent of a gruesome threshing-machine accident, resulting in massive hemorrhaging of links, amputation of all body text, and ultimate failure.

If you don't like this new look please tell me. I'm not married to 'Rounders 3'.


out of words

Need to recharge. Rethink. Readjust mindset. Get ready for Nonsense. It ain’t easy being funny. It’s an inexact science. Like astrophysics on rollerskates down a hill of ice, covered in spiderwebs and juggling a fistful of draidles. No wait that’s my Hallowe’en costume. Hallowe'en yeah, I'm a sucker for candy.

I need new ideas. Reading to get inspired. Right now it's Language and Consciousness by John Searle on the nature of thought. Ever think about thought? It's all in his book. Funniest thing in the book: "Nobody will look at a single molecule of water and say - 'don't touch it, you'll get wet!'" [i'm paraphrasing] Something about emergent properties ie consciousness comes from the neuron and synapse. A table is solid, water is wet, both are empty space, mostly. So what gives? Not the table. We don't know how thought arises from brain processes but we know that it happens so we may as well try to figure it out [another paraphrase]; let's demystify this thinking crap.

I wanted to write a silly poem this morning, but it turned into a sappy piece about a blond-haired short kid blowing bubbles while his cousin does cartwheels and mom smokes a cigarette and nags, "Be careful - you'll break your neck." But wait that's not so sappy - more like Americana fluff. The neck breakage made it macabre and woke me from the keyboard. (I am practised at the art of self-censorship.)

Whenever I begin something silly, I think about waffles - nature's most ridiculous dessert?

Other things to accomplish before the leaves fall off the trees:
1) Become a stock broker
2) become a graphic designer
3) Italian lessons
4) seriously consider the Triathlon


Hope is a Piano

Here it is, 6 days late but full of tuneful melodies. Enjoy!

Next up on the Cupcake anthology circuit? Nonsense.

As in, Nonsense Is A Bumblebee. Will hit virtual shelves hopefully by June 2007. Our most ridiculous collection yet!



I hear the Gents are up to their tricks again - tackling the touchstones of metaphysics with their trademark recklessness; this time at ChickenEgg.org. Modern philosophy trembles, as the masses finally take control of Truth. Read more c/o Angry Brown Man.


Ask me anything

You know you want to.

Except if it's that one thing. I refuse to answer.

Go on. Ask.

(he is booed off the stage)


Please stop smiling

(...and let me finish my crossword?)

Dear Smiler,

Quit smiling when I’m trying to finish my crossword! Your smile makes me want to rush over and kiss you, but my face is smudged with brown sweet stuff from this morning’s chocolate croissant. I don’t know what the French (or maybe it’s Portuguese here in west end Toronto) put in their croissant-filling but you don’t want it on your face – but that’s what’ll happen when I kiss you.

The crossword is my reason to get up in the morning: I think of ‘15 across’ and my inner thighs grow taut and twitchy. Have you ever completed the Globe and Mail’s Whango-Superbo Saturday Special? It requires the genius of 11 professors. So imagine how your smile must be interfering, if I'm impelled to throw down my pencil and slather your lips with my chocolate-stained labials whensoever you smile. A croissant fetches approximately $1.35 at a decent café. You’ll have to share in that expense: this is a house of crosswords, not of chocolate gratis. You must learn etiquette, for this is a place of accomplishment and well-considered verbiage. Therefore cease smiling and undertake a crossword of your own! I recommend the TV Guide's ‘Cross-Tease’ for starters, because while your grin is notorious your wordcrossing experience is probably near zero.

That smile - the reason it bewitches me so – is first, what goes on at the level of the tooth. Many have said (and I include in this generalization the great Coco Chanel and his assistant Velhimna) that teeth are ‘the bouncer to the soul’. Your mouth may keep me out, but I line up for hours in my well-coiffed suit to glimpse your shineys. Your pearly whites are more like Pearly Gates; does St. Peter loan you an ivory toothbrush? I am agog.

Next: the lips themselves, ruby red with a hint of Citrus Splash lipliner, which was purchased from a drugstore, one of the nation’s finest. ‘Like a drug’ is right: your succulent pneumatic mouth-hearts are narcotic vis-a-vis their intoxication of my soul! Those lips could withstand months of industrial testing to verify their bouncy resilience, their glistening moistness.

Also, the dimples: as part of the smile as Shemp was part of the Stooges – quite often absent, from uglier people that is, but when they do appear it is a grand comic farce that liquefies my soul into butter at the mere thought of your lactic succulence. In short, your dimples connect me to a higher plane of existence and nonsensical hyperbole.

Finally, it is the combination of all the above. Your smile has many variations but a single theme, that of smiliness, and those smiles, while magnificent and rival to Michelangelo’s David in baring the sheer beauty of the human form - they also mess with my ritual crossword! A man with a crossword is a creature of purpose, un wordsmith nobile to quote the French (only partly in their language); a crossword is a test of diligence, gateway of curiousity, the fruit of hours of newspaper content-related decisions…. So, please stop your torture and let me finish what I have begun!


The Meaning of BlogLove

(this comment is about 4 years too late, and I actually wrote it a year ago on a friend's blog - but whatever)

I've never really explained this even to myself, but it took me about a week of posting to realize that the point of a blog is not about me at all; it's all about the internet, and all about my wondrous fickle audience and whoever the hell happens to pass by on a random google search that day. The medium is the message or some completely relevant old chestnut like that.

Blogging is a test of remaining fresh/interesting in a merciless flea-circus of text and imagery and hypertext links that rewards the competitors not with cash or prizes but with aggregate attention span. I've posted some highly experimental and wacky things, and I've taken my lumps in readership fer sure. But ultimately we do it to be loved and almost only to be loved, and a few seconds of attention is all the love there is out here but that's good enough. Individual commments of praise are nice but they don't stick in your head; like all these virtual KB they get sucked down the cognitive drain. Keep an archive for yourself and your diehard fans, sure, but otherwise it’s 'what have you done for me lately' and if you can't deal with that immediacy, if you try to draw attention back to what you wrote a week ago, a month ago, whatever, it's sayonara. The only real 'old school' arguments go on inside the comment box, but those exercises in logic and reason are kept hidden from the casual visitor's view by the the owner of the blog, who is a lot like the wizard of oz. With blogs linearity and cohesion is irrelevant and actually distracting (readers on the web don't read posts all the way through but scan first for words or phrases that catch their attention), time is essentially meaningless (eg you can write in whatever time or date you want on the post when you make em). Editing posts after the fact means that all posts are in the eternal present. As a blogger your powers to cover your own tracks are enormous, and they can and should be used to enhance your ability to be loved. Only google will remember what you wrote - the secrets are in the cold hard cache. As for love, if we don't get enough love from our statcounter on any one particular day, then there is always hope, limitless and seductive hope, for our audience is potentially as vast, democratic, curious and instant as it is (most of the time) moronic, apathetic and vindictively anonymous.

I had to learn to serve the medium; it's changed me as a writer, but not in a bad way. The bottom line is entertainment and enlightenment. I have no particular loyalty to writing on the net vs as a poet-guy or as a fiction writer or columnist. If I could 'find my Pelican Man' by blowing up beachballs and tying them to trees or building a canoe out of tangerine wedges I'd do that too.

Good luck to all writers-turned-bloggers who try to remain pure to any particular craft or style; the pressure to change and be flexible in your approach is enormous, and with good reason. Ironically life ain't easy when there's nobody holding you back but your 'publish' button, when you have make your own rules and decide for yourself who the rest of the world will decide you are. All things can and should be said but of course watch it don't make you batty. Freedom is a cupcake but true unabashed cacophonous freedom of speech will wear you out. I speak from my borderline crazy and damaging-to-any-'real-writing-career' experiences on FIAC. Oh yes this bloggin is a whole new ball o wax.... agh, I am slain


What makes you so special

(pure gushing)

I was thinking about what made you so special. Now I don’t want these words to be pure sugar, as that nauseates every tongue. But I was thinking about why for example the sun parts in rays just for you. And what power you hold over the weather, and always so dramatic every time you arrive it’s either lightning and soaked skin or cherryblossom breezes drying dewdrops off toenails; you don’t get caught in in-betweens. Something fascinating about extremes, not that we get so bored with moderation, maturity, mediums or every other kind of M (the exact middle of the alphabet). That weather, or the tone in your voice - it’s the way you exhaustively answer the most mundane question, as though no one else in history has ever asked it. You turn the razor attention of that mind on my eyelash, and my stomach turns in knots. If a poem could be written about swatting a fly with a Buick, well … oh there I go again about extremes. But I’m avoiding my initial problem, that of your peculiar quality. Is it your teeth – such fine teeth. Why is there so much emphasis on this planet about beautiful teeth? I’d rather have a cast-iron femur, guaranteed never to snap (something about certain death from massive internal bleeding). I’d rather have skin like a rhinoceros. I can eat meals through a straw if I have to, I don’t need shiny teeth, pearly whites, gate to your mouth your weapon of expression, your voice constant and reassuring like waves lapping against my cottage dock in mid July.

But no, it was never anything physical. And that too is cliché. I can’t call you special if I describe it in clichés. No, I need different phrases, like big pointy purple things, large orang-utan bands playing the banjos and hell maybe a fruit smoothie so damn smooth it’s like someone kicked me in the nuts with a half-litre of banana-pureed nutritional delirium – those kind of images could possibly be a start; though it’s ridiculous I can find therein the sublime, the underlying ne plus ultra of your speciality. I can’t resort to nature, the weather, physical footnotes or any other kind of archaeological cluebook the romantics fall back on. Give me my orangutan band and a ticket out of the solar system – there’re comets passing through every 86 years that don’t get worn out by this planet’s hackneyed explanations. Just passing through bearing gifts from Proxima Centauri, so much travelling you’ve done, just want to learn from your latest adventure.

Sometimes I wonder if you actually exist. Remember that game we played as kids – when we turned our back to the room and wondered if it was still there behind us? These were epiphanies – entire philosophies - disguised as hide-and-seek. I get that feeling when you’re gone from my life; not quite sure it was just a trick, not sure whether what I believed left any indelible meaning. And maybe I should apologize for my lack of faith – but if I could count on miracles they’d stop being miracles, and it’s pretty predictable where you’ll find me: in death valley. Then you come back and the universe has wheels again, clocks resume ticking, the entire dictionary reads like a single shop-sign declaring ‘open for business’. Church bells repeat your name and I spend all morning going gaga, spilling ink for cappuccino froth with cinnamon and a saucy wink from somebody’s long-legged sister - and that’s as close to heaven as I need. Did I mention the wink from that waitress? Thank you thank you–she’s smokin hot but also witty, warm, and she actually knows how to read.

I can sketch a series of images, I still won’t capture it: I gotta slice you up, section by section, trap you on a microscope slide (the goal of science is to use genius to eliminate all possibility for imagination, and oh the sad ingenuity that requires, the dedication to explanatory blandness; I don’t have it). I’m afraid I don’t want to reach my intended destination. Much too much of a digression, I’m completely guilty of procrastination.

So -

What makes you special – you turn each of us into a complete fool.

Plus – there’s that delicate flip of your rose-scented wrist, casting light in a tunnel and glowing in my iris. Pointing the way with a chuckle, halfway between a slap and a kiss.

What makes you special is your cast and crew, this insane retinue, and I’ve gone black and blue cataloguing everything they do. Sometimes they blindside me, other times I am grateful to borrow their eyes, step outside my shell and float. Out of body experience? Fuck no – I’m clearly out of my mind, and what I mean is that I get to be in someone else’s. An honour and a privilege.

What makes you special is that 883 days ago I dedicated everything up here to you – and somehow you keep pulling me – I’m pulling it - through. I don’t just feel like I’m showing off, because I know I’m really humble and besides – it was you who asked me to.

Pelican man, I [heart] you.

best useless sentences from the past month

Never trust a squeaking mouse, always lock the back door when exiting the house.

Please sir I must keep you integrated. Always switching points of view, one minute a salamander the next the ocean floor. I like the concrete and you love abstract thinking, wait a minute, this sixth sense: thought or seeing dead people and always with technique and never truth. Dear me I bypassed logic getting to your insane orgy.

Bring my old scarecrows back to life in the guise of remembering my childhood. I don’t remember if it was that I hated him or that I needed something to hate.

“Our town is founded on the principles of ‘Gutter Trash for the Masses’ We are a latter-day Vegas.” Nutznougat said it was impolitic to mock the midgetry. “I said ‘latter’, not ‘ladder’.” And he rolled his eyeballs.

Faster than the speed of definition, always at the edge of the unmentionable, a pioneer of epistemology. Outraced classification, but I’m not here to show off for the girls at the bar. Far far too subversive, and I don’t want glory and I don’t want money and I want you to believe in love again and I don’t -

I don't want to tell time. I want to build clocks.