Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Weekend Concert and Weekday Sweat

You've been hijacked by emcee beautiful B. All airways and freeways are open to new speeds and detours. Now there is no stopping either you nor I.

I haven't been blogging recently because everything's going so fast, but I got pix from my home from a few weeks ago, and so I'll probably put them up periodically. I have lots up including more heros and perhaps some mid-summer Canadian politics.

These are my glasses that no one loves as much as me (no one even likes them but me). They have attitude though. My friend Kazuto says that what they express is "aggressive". I've had people shift away from me when wearing them. Others have commented that they look like ski goggles for seniors. I find that amusing. I had an eventful weekend with rock-climbing and a surprise (to me) concert at Toronto island featuring Broken Social Scene, The Serenest Republic, Modest Mouse (who were the headliners) and my personal favorite, Metric. I know all their songs and saw them two summers ago at Hillside Music Festival in Guelph.

My good old friend/brother Justin invited me. He's there being an actor and running a camp for children. We talked of getting rid of inhibitions, sang exhuberantly on the streets, and rode the ferry there together, until I had to be brother of the boy and hand him over to an anxious female escort. As for Metric: the music can be fast or slow, soothing, sweet or scathingly satiric. Besides the lead singer being such a succexy rocker, the music is awesome, and the lyrics are very clever. Take this for example:

"Every 10 year old enemy soldier thinks falling bombs are shooting stars, but she doesn't make wishes on them, instead when she wishes, she wishes for less ways to wish for, more ways to work towards it."

It highlights the irony in the determination of the weak and the exploited, and says a little something of our Western dreams and enemies. Each band was happy to be back in Canada from southern tours, because we have food here, we have nature here, it may be even hotter here than South Africa with the humidex factored in (as an aquaintance observed after coming back from there) but Canada is a wonderful place to live. I got one hell of a sunburn, and this week it has been hard to breath because my lungs fill up with water, but the gas-mask that I use at work helps somewhat.

Today was another long one. I was darkening myself with brown paint dust when finally lightning crossed the sky and we had to come down as to not make ourselves human electricity conductors on a metal stage hooked via cables to the top of a six storey building. I went home and jogged to try to sweat myself clean, but by the time I stepped out of the shower again, I was already sweating. Oh well, what are summers for? Now I need a nice, cold, slippery, pint. Oh!@ Hi Chris. Just a sec, I'm finishing up. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

New View

I'm happier again, fitter, healthier. I finally caught up on my sleep, ending the 4 hour/night average of sleep binge, which made me actually think I would collapse several times at work.

Work I'm sick of, and some really nasty things have happened to people around me: break-ups, fights, robbings, cancer, and car troubles; shit-storms. The one good thing about work is that as I'm crouched in tiger position grinding panels, bouncing on and off the walls, my mind goes over its ponderables, and adds a few to the list. I was discussing things with Sanjay and Chris and others last night over a wobbly-pop, that after a certain point, there's no reason to fear hell, because we are living it. It can't get worse, but it can get better.

Through it all I was surprised and enlightened by how much it means to be comforted, just to have people there. People are all the more real to me if everything hasn't been peachy to them. My friends are all gems. I realize the summer has raced past, and now is the time to really make something of it.

This past weekend I went to a vintage car show featuring Datsuns and trans-ams from the 60's and Ford's from the 50's and Studebakers, and Jags and even some cute scooters. The highlight was an old-style car with fake bullet-holes stuck on it and three manicans inside; a sexy blonde, and two men in suits and hats holding machine-guns. The display included a wanted poster of Al Capone, a local hero/villain/gangster who apparently bootlegged in Guelph (where I live) during prohibition. There were also ones for his main hitmen, Mugs and "the machinegun." Apparently Al died in prison from neurosyphilis and had thousands of runners and mobsters working under him. Is neurosyphilis an STD? I don't know. Anyway...

Yesterday was the summer solstice, and the moon was beautiful. Though I've lost a friend recently, I imagine she might have seen the same moon 6 hours later. It sucks that we don't talk. It's like she's dead in a way. Somehow the thought of both our eyes lighting on the same orb in the sky gives me mental calm though. I don't hate her, we just had differences. In a different world we might have been neighbors or shared a bunk-bed, but we don't. I realize that even if you really care for someone, there are sometimes circumstances that keep you apart. They aren't worth compromising over. So you just have to pick up and start again.

Tomorrow I get to go rock-climbing with a girl I ran into that I hadn't seen for about 2 years. I feel fit enough from this job that I might be adept at the sport, however, she has the advantage of being built like a spider, hyper-extensive and flexible. I'm bigger, inexperienced, but fairly limber. I've had some practice climbing balconies. We'll see what happens.

The sun was at its zenith at the tropic of cancer, blaring down with light, so much so, that when I woke up at 10pm, the sky still had a blueish tinge, and the stars were just starting to come out. It is rare that there is both a full moon and a summer solstice at the same time, but yesterday was cosmic. I feel a great release and new energy to see people and do places and cross into new territory. I'm scouting out a new view.  Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Howard's Health and Safety Role

So Howard has been getting pretty deeply involved with health and safety around work. He walks around checking cables and motors. He pops out of the electrical room carrying fuses and holding pliers in his teeth. The other day he accidentally aired himself on the walkie-talkie, cursing and swearing in the shed as he got tangled up in the ropes he was fixing: "this blasted birdsnest!! Doesn't anyone understand how to coil?!!"

One thing that doesn't quite make sense about his whole incentive to be there is that he was never elected as the health and safety rep. I repeat: NO ONE INVITED HIM ONTO OUR CREW. S stoically carries out his role as the elected health and safety rep, reporting to the ministry etc. But Howard just appointed himself out of some sort of voluntary responsibility to "protect" us. His presence is more de facto in nature. The ironic thing is that Howard can be a hazard, and he takes himself so seriously that it's an irresistible temptation to try to burst his fragile bubble.

The other day we were rigging on the roof of the apartment, and I had one end of the hose which I was going to hook up at one end, D was walking with it to the water source and Howard just happened to be carrying two weights to the beams attached to anchors when the hose tightened and pulled him over by the ankles. Howard grunted and went nose-first into the gravel, weights clanging against the beam. If Howard wasn't wearing his hard-hat, I'm sure he would have had more damage. As it is, his face just wears a sour new look.

It is good to get some free labour from him though. Sometimes I want to tell him to go ride a pole but Howard doesn't deserve that. Him and boss D bond by talking about chemical product and their reactions, referring back to the MSDS sheets. They strategize the best mixtures of cement together, Howard saying he likes to have an exact ratio of 3/16ths when he mixes water and semkote (a "cementitious" sealant). He puts a lot of concentration into painting the panels of the balconies and watching him take so much concern inspires me to get it done faster. We finished a drop on Wednesday. I could see his eyes darting around and checking to see if every corner was properly covered with one coat of primer and two coats of paint. He is always going on about how this or that direction of brush-stroke is important, or how maintaining good posture while painting or how the small things "make a difference." Then he crossed his arms and his eyes glittered with awe. He leaned back, smiled and sighed: "ah, look how she shines!"

Recently Howard has been starting to send memos. At first we would politely squirrel them away somewhere and then throw them in the trash later, but because they have become so numerous, my coworkers have been provoked to take on practical jokes against Howard. When one of us found a pair of panties in amongst the rubble and garbage from the balconies, we put it in the cement mixer for him to discover. Apparently he was bashful and unsure exactly what to do about them. He simply took another rag and draped it over the mixer and affixed a sign that said "do not disturb."

Here is an example of one of Howard's memos that I just found in my email inbox to my surprise:

Dr. Howard Wayword
Health and Safety Representative
Dilinger Dr. Lions Gate, P.O. Box 1109
Guelph ON. CAN

To our Honorable and Cherished employees,

It is important to take heed to the expected reaction and compliance to the legal and safety issues that arise like a tidal wave of grave concern. The moral standards of duty, and the due diligence of reason compel us to take up our hearts, minds, and hands to ensure that no unnatural or natural disaster occur to threaten or disgrace the lives of our employees -should it be dust in the eyes, or a tumble off a high precipice, or a saw-tooth in the leg, or a jolt of electricity from a portion of unprotected wire. May we not misuse equipment or lead to results of fire or death by electrical shock, or falling rubble in the backs or the sides of the head, or anywhere else for that matter.

When a hard-hat is worn, let it be understood as a great respect to the cranium. When spectacles of the protective sort be seen through, let us remember that the glow and curve of that ocular organ that is doing the peering, is also preserved in that nurturing shell of plastic for a higher purpose, it is of a plastic that is noble, loyal, and good. It doesn't?t take a very sharp chap to raise up his eyes to such a blatantly obvious concept.

I ask your commitment to the acknowledgement that blisters, warts and splinters are an irksome nuisance, which need not be born, and can be mindfully put off through the habit of glove-wearing and proper maintenance and routine manicure.

Besides these hot-topics du jour, and in response to such plaguing questions as whether or not so-and-so can take their grandmother for a ride on the swing-stages, or whether perhaps it might be nice to try the jack-hammer so-and-so?s printed memos, there are detailed and direct corporate actions and instructions for such things:

"Only authorized trained personnel shall operate this hoist in strict conformity with all applicable safety codes. In addition to instructions on hoist, you must read and understand the operating manual" which means "No"

Unfortunately, because some of you may wish to take counter-offence to my helpful and informing messages, I will now send information and guidance electronically. Therefore, if you choose to do them disservice, I fully invite you demolish them when they are in text form on your own PC. Secondly, if anyone ever shortens the length of my hoist against my knowledge again, that will be regarded as grounds for dismissal.

Thank you for carefully and diligently reading and understanding this memo. You may sign the backside of your printed copy and return it to me within a reasonable time period.

Howard Wayword

PS -I invite you to continue being such joyful and obedient employees. You may not be entirely knowledgeable of your purpose in this life, but it is your calling to ingrain a sense of safety into yourselves. When you grow to a ripe old age, you'll realize: it makes a difference.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Rigging her up

It was a rather unglorious ending to a long Tuesday. It started fast, but it ended painstakingly slowly.

I was supposed to go on a "date". I was even a little excited to go home and call the girl who I was lucky enough to convince to go on a "date" with, provided I tried really hard to impress her. That was the deal. See, we've known each other for awhile, she just broke up with her BF and we could never go on a date date, but it was a nice thought that I'd have this pretty young thing to share even a "date." I do not get to experience such things so often, being the type of bear I am.

But of course it couldn't work out. I was supposed to call her at 7, and at 7:30 I'm watching a man fiddle with a screwdriver atop a ridiculously angled swing-stage, hands bleeding. Of course she'll think I just forgot. Ironic how you've already grinded panels, lifted 55 pound weights, pulled your shoulder trying to hold up a swing-stage yourself as three guys try to wrench out the damn coiler, made the ritual sex jokes about caulking this or that, encouraged D to "bang her hard" as he hammers a safety pin into place at which he grins, worked for 12 hours, (with some coffee and freezy breaks thrown in there), tried to slug around in 30 degree Celcius heat with a hard-hat, respirator and safety glasses, covering oneself in paint-dust, and then it's just the thing to get tangled up and die right at the end of the day, making it too late to call to explain, no I didn't forget, that I had a date. As a man who works with us and will work until the day he dies would say "Jaysus H Christ!!"

And I thought she might be impressed.

Oh well, suppose I'll go play chess with C.

Let me go back a little, for I haven't been around to tell you how the benefit concert went.

The BENEFIT CONCERT was a great success!! The band was amazing!! They are a few middle-aged men, two brothers, a drummer, a singer, a bassist, a pianist, and two trumpeters, covering such songs as "Just the Two of Us" (a fave) and "Summer Wind" as well as others. Notably, the trumpeter hit piercing high notes, and the drummer was experimenting with some very interesting rhythums. They were tight, oh they were smokin!@

After work on friday, my old man picked me up, I drove to Waterloo, got showered, had my sisters help me tape and cut the last pieces of my red tissue-papered and black bristolboard candleholder centrepieces for the event (bless them), took a shower, dressed myself in the finest pink dress shirt, (which happens to work for me, despite contrary notions of firmly established heterosexuality and certain colours) went off, saw the Deacons of Jazz, realized that the lead singer was my old volleyball coach, served desserts, coffee etc (everything a Menno loves) and observed that about 100 people came out!! (Which is wonderful. Our goal was 80). It was good to reconnect with my home church and the community, and the coordinator of MCC who I was working with throughout my PR project this year. I also got an offer to do graphic design due to the fact that the current designer of Ten Thousand Villages in Waterloo just quit. An affiliate of MCC noticed and was pleased with my promotional poster. I was flattered.

I got some things from my parents house, including...a barbecue, picnic-table, and lots and lots of plants. I ran around, went to another barbecue with my good friend C, and then played some of my songs at the open mic, having the added benefit of a drummer to spice things up. At first I mixed up some of my words, but overall it was one of my better performances. I'm happy about my new song "Some Something."

Yesterday was a lonely hearts club band kind of day. I talked to people about break-ups and heart-ache. I talked to C about his misguided love and sat drinking, telling him it's not that you don't have to remember or cherish or get over, it's just that you have to get over regret, because relationships are sacred the way they are, frustrations and all. You are made stronger by realizing you haven't found the one yet but it was worth trying.

He was really sad and teary, but it made him feel good to talk like that. We wanted to see someone else, but she was meeting her boyfriend. It was just us and a couple beers until she came in again, tears streaming down her face. I knew something was wrong but only enough to know I needed to hold on to her hand and wait until her facial muscles relaxed before I would get any further occassion. She had just caught her boyfriend cheating on her.

So we were quite a threesome. It helped having a female perspective on relationships, so that we had an equal share of why the female species is cruel and why the male species is made up of bastards. Somewhere along the way we found some good points about people in general. It was good to just talk, with caring, thoughtful people, have someone ruffle and play with my hair, and then go out into the night. However, I came to the conclusion that it is not worth it or actionable to try to see the best in everyone. There has to be something in there that includes the best AND the achieveable in and about people. You can't put them up on a pedestal, nor can you hold them there, because if you do you'll never give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You'll be spent. You have to find what you want. You can't use people, but I do believe people are happiest and most productive when they are put to good use. You have to be a smooth commissioner. You can't change yourself at the drop of a hat, and you can't stop loving.

Yesterday I had had fun at work. S and I would pile the rubble on the swing-stage, then literally drive ourselves up the wall, then down again, tilt the stage, and hoot and holler "yippeee!!" as the concrete chunks stampeded and came crashing down. We had kind of a romantic moment at the end of the day after I coiled up his life-line for him (The life-line is a rope that you are tied to to ensure that if you fall off the stage, you don't go plummeting to your death, hence, the "life-line") I was doing it because true brothers do this sort of thing, but I suppose S thought it was sweet of me, so he asked me to marry him. I thought that was swell. It wasn't the first time I'd been asked that question yesterday. Needless to say, I said "no".

But Anyway, today was different. It was a messy choas at the end of the day. The strings that attach us to the stars sometimes get tangled, and time delays. Though there is no need for expostulation, it is sometimes unavoidable. That meant: No date for me. I just called but she's out anyway. There are always loose connections like that, but what do you expect? Actually I'm kind of relieved that I can just relax. I don't know how impressing I feel right now.

Perhaps tomorrow, I'll rig things a little better so that I don't get driven up the wall in my own hell of occupation. I won't go all batty from grinding. I'll have my people sorted out. I'll know my friends and enemies. I'll have a few more minutes. But for now, I think I'll eat those hot-dogs off of my barbecue, and wash this paint-dust out of my afro.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mennos got the Groove

I'll be going to this tonight after free lunch and a Friday work day. I'm working on centre pieces for candles on tables, working with my red tissue paper. I helped arrange this event which will feature a The Deacons of Jazz, who are local musicians specializing in psychedelic groove, held at Breslau Mennonite church. There will be desserts served and all donations will go to the Generations At Risk project headed by Mennonite Central Committee. This project focuses on resources and treatment of HIV and AIDS worldwide. Posted by Hello

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