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June 21st - July 4th, 2004
July 2, 2004
Death of an Actor

Marlon Brando cashed in yesterday, a fine reminder that no matter how one excels at one's craft, how one revolutionizes it, how important and respected one can be, that it all still ends. Marlon's impact on film and the art of acting cannot be underestimated. I once saw an interview with two-time Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman who stated that Marlon Brando was THE influence on his acting, that it was all Marlon Brando, and nobody else mattered. Marlon shaped a generation of actors, and hugely influenced the way we understand film.

So. Marlon Brando was a genius and he sired dozens of children, and lived a bizarre and interesting life, but I still wonder: was he happy? He had some horrible tragedies towards the end of his life, and hadn't really made an excellent film since Apocalypse Now. Some people say that he hated acting.

I wonder if he enjoyed the work. I wonder if he enjoyed living. I wonder if that kind of success and respect brings happiness, and if not, then what the fuck does?

June 24, 2004
Vote, MotherFuckers, Vote

The Canadian National Election is on Monday, June 28th, and I don't think anyone know how close it is, or how much impact their vote could have, if they actually voted.

On Tuesday morning, the National Post's headline reported that Harper was headed for a majority, while the Globe and Mail's headline reported that the Liberals were ahead by six points. Besides illustrating how national media can be blatantly wrong (one of them is), or can try to swing an election (one of them could be trying), or how statistics can be misread or misinterpreted, the headlines underline how close the race is.

As such, I must encourage everyone to get off their lazy fucking asses on Monday and vote. I have little, if any, respect for people who don't vote. Frankly, people that don't vote should not be allowed to complain about anything, and I mean anything; health care, speeding tickets, bad roads, trees, their job, unions, gun registration, the high cost of gasoline - anything. Why? Because they skipped their sole opportunity to influence those aspects of their lives. So if you don't vote, and I hear you complaining about anything except the weather, don't expect a sensitive ear. You're a lazy idiot, now shut your mouth and don't open it for another five years.

If your meagre defense rests on not knowing enough about politics and the irresponsibility of voting without awareness, take one fucking hour to browse Elections Canada (, or take this simple quiz and then vote.

Do I believe:
a] Quebec should be a sovereign nation, separate from Canada?
b] Canada should have invaded Iraq, should scrap arts and culture funding, challenge bilingualism, pull out of Kyoto, privatize health-care, focus more on big business and try to emulate America in all things?
c] Canada should keep on being Canada.

If you answered:
a] You are a member of the Bloc Quebecois.
b] You are a Conservative. Vote for Harper.
c] You are a Liberal, NDP, Green Party or Marxist / Leninist. Vote for one of these fellows so I don't have to utter the words 'Prime Minister Harper'.

If you still don't know exactly who to vote for, use these simple directions:
In ridings where races are tight, I would suggest checking to see who is further ahead - the Liberals or the NDP. If the Liberals have a better shot of winning, vote for them. If the NDP are close to taking it, vote for them. Sure, the Liberals have a few boondoggles behind them, but 100 million in sponsorship money is still cheaper than a quaqmire in Baghdad. Or, if you're angry or hoping for a fresh new direction, vote for the Green party. It may not seem like it, but in this election, every vote does count - for $1.75 to the party of your choice. If the Green Party gets enough protest votes, they might just have enough cash to work towards becoming a viable alternative - something we'd all revel in.

Any which way you slice it, get out on Monday and vote, or don't bitch to me about anything for the next five fucking years.

June 23, 2004
Urban Living:
A Guest Column by Frutiger Black

As mentioned last week, during my demi-sabbatical, we are asking interested parties to submit guest columns. Today, we proudly present a lovely short story by message board regular, Frutiger Black. Enjoy,

----- ---- ----

A little before 6:00 in the morning, I wake to a rather insistent knock at the door of my apartment. Peering through the peephole, I discover the knock belongs to a cop. I'm not accustomed to answering the door in the wee hours, let alone answering the door for the cops. Startled, and only half-awake, I open the door.

"Good morning sir," he says . . . well, he says something like that; I don't honestly remember. He asks if I'd been home last night, if I'd heard
anything unusual.

I say "yes, I'd been home." I say "no; I can hear the people upstairs occasionally, but I hadn't heard anything last night." He nods, then proceeds to tell me that there is a lot of blood in the hall, near the elevator landing on this floor. I can think of nothing to say; I look down and sigh, somewhat disappointed with my fellow man. I'm sort-of awake, sort-of sorry that this sort of thing can happen, and sort-of a little irritated that somebody woke me 40 minutes before my alarm normally goes off.

I am disconnected from the reality of it. There's somebody else's blood in my home. My life hasn't changed; I still have to go to work this morning. I shower, shave, dress. The mess outside is a concept - an ugly little intrusion that I actually kind of resent. I put on my jacket, step out of my suite and lock the door.

A cop's been posted near the elevators; different cop than the one that queried earlier. I ask him from down the hall if I should take the stairs. He says it's okay to use one of the other two elevators, I just need to
watch my step.

I'm a fool; I walk down to where he's standing.

This mess has been here awhile. " Number 2", the middle elevator, is locked off so it can't be called away from this floor. There is blood on about half the floor inside. It's splashed or smeared up the side of the entrance. It's pooled for about two feet from the lip of the door onto the landing, mixed with all the dirt and shit that gets tracked through the halls on a wet day outside. Somebody's sneakers (presumably those of the person who's been bleeding all over the place) have tracked this red-brown crap from the tile landing onto the carpet. I've never seen this much real blood before, except in one of those bags they siphon donations into. I am aware that it doesn't take an awful lot of fluid to cover a large surface area. A full glass of water will spill over a lot of ground; especially if the surface is non-porous, like lino or tile.

I comment to the cop, as he calls another elevator for me. I say something about this sort of thing being part of living downtown. He nods or shrugs or acknowledges my sage commentary with the amiable posture of a stranger sharing some quaint everyday moment with another stranger - small talk. Number 3 arrives, I get in, saying something like try to have a nice day. The door closes and I descend to the main floor.

Not until the doors are fully closed do I consciously acknowledge that "That is someone smeared on the floor and the wall." I can only assume whomever that blood belonged to isn't dead.

I do not know if this person is a neighbour, or the guest of a neighbour. I do not know my neighbours.

I smoke a cigarette in the car. When I get to work, I throw up. I rinse. I repeat.

June 21, 2004
The Ramifications of Failure

My publisher went to a trade show in Toronto last weekend. By all accounts, it was a raging success. He met tonnes of industry people, handed out thirty books, hundreds of postcards and made some headway into getting the book into bookstores. Still, for all the great people he met and the business cards he traded, when he talked about distribution, there was a sort of shell-shocked look in his eyes.

Being new to the business, there was lots he didn't know about distribution. I know even less, but securing distribution is quite important to widespread delivery of books to bookstores. Zygote has been hoping to distribute it themselves because of the narrow profit margins, but after discussing it with some people, this may or may not be a good idea. With the independent stores, it is possible to distribute one book if the stores like it quite a bit, but if they are waffling, they probably won't want to deal with a new, one-book publisher. It's too much work, not enough payola. For this reason, and numerous others, most publishers have a distributor who deals regularly with the stores, and ensures that the back-end logistics are all taken care of, even though it cuts into the profits. After talking distribution through with a number of people and weighing its importance against the higher profits / increased work of self-distribution, he went searching for options. What he found, apparently, is that all the distributors have their fall catalogues locked, printed and ready to promote at this time. Which means, that even if a distributor did pick us up, we wouldn't benefit from the full power of their sales and marketing. In a sense, we may have missed the boat on this because of our inexperience.

There are lots of options still open, and apparently, quite a bit of interest in the book, but the lack of a distribution deal sort of bothered me. We talked about it at length, and he admitted that the team was probably behind where it should be, even with the amount of work that had been invested so far. In fact, it looked like the output would have to increase for a real chance of success. We talked about the book industry, and I realized how difficult success could be to achieve. Publishing is a small, embattled industry filled with intelligent, creative people trying desperately to push product that
they love into a tiny niche. There is a lot of competition, and most of the people have been in the industry for years and the companies have experienced, paid teams of professionals dedicated to publicity, editing and marketing. They make my publisher's virginal, part-time team look a bit like the Polish cavalry riding out against the German tanks in WWII - talented and brave, but horribly outgunned. Even with Zygote's fresh
approach, media savvy, great package, mean-ass book, beautiful cover and good previews, there is a possibility that the book will fail. There is a possibility that I will receive no reviews, that Nunt will be completely ignored, that I will be condemned as a fringe idiot and that this whole venture will end with myself and the publisher shedding silent tears as we burn a thousand copies in a campfire somewhere in the northern muskeg.

After talking with him, and for the first time since I started working with these folks, I contemplated the ramifications of failure. Not just minor league mediocre sales spread over a couple of years, but wholesale, grandiose failure; fifty copies total sales, critical pans, enraged reactions from friends and family, and micron-sized notoriety in the city for being synonymous with retarded verse, perversion and obscenity. Not to mention the loss of employment, women and friends; the ridicule and shame. It is frightening. I have put so much into this book, and it has taken so much out of me, that I don't know how I would truly react to such a thing. The other day, Marcuse wrote that it would be good to be Mingus, but exhausting to be Mingus. I don't think of it that way, because I don't know anything else but singular obsession, but he is probably right. Normal life passes me by, relationships dissipate and all because of the unrelenting need to write
full time. Knowing how important that is to me, I have to consider how I would react to 'spectacular failure'. I'm not particularly balanced as it is, so I would think that it could lead to 'spectacular personal implosion', which I doubt it would be pretty.

I take hope in the fact that the reaction to the book so far has been good. I know that the people at Zygote will work as hard as I will to ensure success and prevent failure. I think that everyone who sees the book will be tempted to open it, and if they read it, they'll want to read more. I know that the local community will be supportive, and that the industry is extremely helpful as a whole - they love new ideas and new blood. It is an exciting time, and it will be more so as things unfold.

But the fear is there. Years down the road, broken by failure. Drunk, unable to write, and alone. Just fucking terrifying.

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