Writing Process: My Precious Photos

I have been on a sentimental journey of late, going through old images – photographs, slides and negatives – to give visual support for the Young Chronicles section of this blog.

A early selfie with Tim Paquette at his home, the end of my first day hitchhiking.

While some shots work, like the one above, I now realize that most do not because I was trying too hard to be arty with landscapes and the like.

It’s a lot of emptiness, which does reflect my feelings of much of that summer, but comes across today as repetitive and unengaging.

The process of searching through my images and notes is the journey now; and the aim is to make it so for others.

The route out from Toronto to Nova Scotia and then back across Quebec and Ontario.

Q107 Radio Supersets Redux: Revising the Past

I blogged on winning a Superset contest at Q107 Radio in 1978 where I received the most disappointing prize of an LP record from a leftovers box in radio station hallway.

And so now, to right this wrong, I present additional Supersets from that era and the prizes they deserve:

Superset I/Greatest Super Short Songs: Paranoid (Black Sabbath) 2:48, Come On Get Happy (Partridge Family) 1:06, And The Gods Made Love (Jim Hendrix) 1:23, But I Might Die Tonight (Cat Stevens) 1:54 Prize: Six Pack of Molson Diamond Beer

Superset II/Greatest Bad Songs: Let the Lizard Loose (Goddo), Ridin’ High (Moxy), Strutter (Kiss), Joker (Babe Ruth) Prize: Pinkish Pimp Hat

Walter Matthau playing the drunk in Earthquake!

Superset III/Music to Think/Remember/Die By: The Heavenly Music Corporation (Fripp & Eno), The Heavenly Music Corporation Reversed (Fripp & Eno), The Heavenly Music Corporation Half Speed (Fripp & Eno) Prize: Enlightenment

Pyramid Mountain, British Columbia

The Dim Malaise In Us

As much as everyone likes to moan about the Trumps or Kim Jong-Uns of the world, it is more about those who allowed them in, not the bullies as it were but the crowd that watches. In other words, our essential malaise is not the jowly hate-filled monsters but the chubby ones who do what they’re told so they can rule their sector.

Franz Kafka, best know for elucidating what is to be trapped in this all-too-real dystopia, put it like this in The Trial: It’s no use. The Examining Magistrate has sent for me. What are you thinking of? It would be the ruin of me. Let him alone. He’s only obeying orders of the Examining Magistrate and carrying me to him.

I have begun the outline for my auto-biography on my days as a teacher, Fuck Pedagogy, which has a similar grim focus. Although lacking Kafka’s literary acumen, it does focus on the same ilk in the education racket, the ones who love the seminars and hate the kids, whose lives are ruled by machinations and maneuvers and who are quietly destroying our world. And like Kafka, it’s supposed to be a comedy. Ha ha.

Buying Secrets from the Past: NHL Action Players

I spend a lot of time digging into my memories. I look at pictures of me as a boy – fishing on the dock, beside the Christmas Tree, with our dog Celeste – trying to access that momentous time. I have also tried to searched out childhood things like Checkerboard Ice Cream and Pantry cookies, both of which I cherished in those days and both of which have vanished.

Modern-Day Checkerboard Ice Cream but not my brand (Not the Gluten-free notation!)

It seems somehow possible that if I could just taste them again, I would rediscover a key note to my uncluttered mind, like the magic of holding the tin or the feeling of my bare legs against the kitchen linoleum. But I have not been able to find either.

Something I have found is the NHL Action Players Book from Loblaws grocery store.

Toronto Maple Leafs page of Loblaws NHL Action Players

I collected these stickers from the Loblaws grocery store, furiously opening strip after strip to fill the booklet, trading for missing stamps, finding out who had found the un-find-able ones. There were dozens of Larry Carriere and Walt McKechnie and so few of Guy Lambert and Don Awry. It was impossible to find those.

NHL Action Players available for purchase on Ebay.

And then Doug Crosby, a rich and somewhat simple boy in my class, bought the completed book from Edward Etchells for $50. The class bully Andy McAlpine mocked him. “You idiot! That’s not how it’s done!”

Class bully Andy McAlpine today.

I realize that the whole thing was about the experience of collecting things, but why not do it Doug Crosby’s way? Why go through all of the hassle of bartering for the rare stickers when you could just buy the whole thing in one shot? As much as Doug seemed to have missed the point, Andy totally misses it. It’s not about scamming the system but learning from the experiences of the thing, be that finding Don Awry or eating Checkerboard Ice Cream.

The Fear II: Maple Leaf Gardens

The second time that The Fear struck was on my birthday. I think my eleventh. My father gave me two tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs. A Leaf hockey game for me then was the ultimate experience. I took a friend as my father didn’t really like hockey and thought that I might be happier on my own. The seats were great – center-ice reds – and we were up on the visiting team early. And then it hit me again. It wasn’t as strong as the first time. I seemed almost to have control over it. I could rationalize it.

The Fear II: Maple Leaf Gardens

Why was I sitting here watching this nonsense? Who gave a damn who scored what and when? The whole thing was a farce designed to brainwash and control. Nobody cared about winning. It was the popcorn, furs and dinners, the money, being part of the scenery that people cared about. The blue leaf could just as well be a red wing. I especially hated the silence between play, the organ occasionally filling that with carnival tunes. Eventually, it passed, but the evening had been depressing. We had won, but I didn’t give a damn. I just wanted to go home and get into bed.

That collection of Drugs we call Knowledge

It’s not like I don’t believe in something. I treasure the moment of my eyes coming open, seeing that I am still here, that collection of drugs of knowing something. And then realizing that, that it’s not what it’s supposed to be, knowing it’s a lie. I’m going to be dead, just that. A mantra of sorts. I wait for the next thing in fear, tense and in delight. Everything is now. And if not, in a bit. It will come again. And I will have it then. That’s what I tell myself again and again.