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September 6th - 12th, 2004
September 10th, 2004
On the Block - The Humingifier

We stood in the cold, the sleet dripping down our fingers as we took turns holding the battery charger. My joy, and my long underwear, kept me warm. The ambulance was pink, a deep, dark, inviting sanguine beast, unmistakable. And once it fired up, it sounded like it could run forever.

The Write The Nation Tour is coming together quickly. Should have more details for the excitable early next week. And a web-site. And press releases. And the kind of logotype that just begs to be made into t-shirts, g-strings and automobile siding. And, of course, photos that demonstrate just how super-fucking-cool the tour vehicle is. Even if I sell six books, get arrested and find myself beaten to a pulp in Waterloo, it will still be worthwhile, as long as that baby keeps its ruddy charm.

But don't take my word for it. Just listen to the girlish excitement in old Frutiger Black's voice when he saw it:

JEZEUS-fuckme-RAGGED Christ on a pokey-freakin'crucifix; The Fuckin MingusMobile is parked right outside my window.

I'm tearing up, Mingus - that livid pink bitch is among the most beautiful things I've seen ... It's so fucking REAL!!! Shine on, you crazy-mutha-fuckin-diamond: You're goin' on tour!

Watch your corn-holes, you listless drones! Mingus is comin'! - FG

What else can I say? The Revolution Will be Forthcoming.™

September 9th, 2004
The Tan Leather Coat

My god, what a miserable night - cold, dark and raining. I should have spent it curled up in bed, hallucinating about Samoan women I have known. Better yet, I should have spent it curled up behind a Samoan woman I have known, listening to the rain and wondering if her lost husband still had a key.

Instead, Ronnie showed up uninvited, and dragged me out for a drink at the rippers. I didn't know why he wanted to watch rippers - he sees enough silicon manning the cameras at his day job. But apparently, the house of porn is bothering him these days. Something about watching Regina get it on with an actor who has an enormous cock that absolutely humbles him. He prattled on for almost fifteen minutes about his situation, without having the decency to either buy a drink or even clap for the girl on stage. That's behaviour I simply can't condone - clap for the girl, smile at the girl and always laugh at the jokes she makes about her snapper. There is a proper etiquette to be followed when sitting down on perv row.

So I cut to the heart of the problem. Regina is a German immigrant porn starlet, and I don't think she's all that bright, or that she understands English all that well. And I don't think she understands Ronnie. So I took a slam off my gin and tonic, glowing bright blue under the black lights, and said so.

"Ronnie. If the woman doesn't understand you, you've got to get rid of her. There's no point being with a woman who doesn't understand you. Hell, there's not much point to being friends with someone who doesn't understand you. To be understood is a beautiful thing. Sometimes it's the only thing. Why do you think I write so damn much? In the hopes that when I talk with people, when I meet people, they understand what I'm saying, and maybe I can feel connected to something. And I can try to understand them, in return."

And because I was wearing my tan leather coat, I reached into my inner pocket. The tan leather coat has one copy of Basho's haiku, one copy of Balzac's The Atheist's Mass, a half-smoked pack of Camels I refuse to smoke or throw away, for sentimental reasons I won't discuss, and the first half of Miller's Plexus, in the old Grove Press green cover. On page forty-three, I have a passage underlined, which is a great defence against the cold and loneliness, and great for writing to be understood, or reading to understand others. And so, with a young blonde girl rolling around naked on the stage, her legs carving aerial incantations in front of old men, I read to Ronnie.

"If I were reading a book and happened to strike a wonderful passage I would close the book then and there and go for a walk....out I would go, rain, hail, snow or ice, and chew the cud. One can become so full with the spirit of another being as to be literally afraid of bursting ... It isn't a mere matter of recognizing a kindred soul, it is a matter of recognizing yourself. To come suddenly face to face with yourself. What a moment! And this procedure, this ritual, I should say, is always the same; a communication on all fronts at once. No more barriers. More alone than ever, you are nevertheless glued to the world as never before. Incorporated into it. "

Ronnie didn't say anything. He just nodded, and when the girl came around to us, he paid attention and flicked some coins her way. It was the polite thing to do. I like to think it meant he understood what the fuck I was saying, cause if he didn't - what's the fucking point? Because without that understanding, especially for the godless, what else is there between people?

September 8th, 2004
1000 Miles & Running

I thought it would just be another number, something to fuel the Democratic argument that Bush was not just a domestic, financial idiot, but also an obviously dangerous warmonger.

But it's tough not to reflect on how many people make up the 1000 dead soldiers the United States has now lost in Iraq. That doesn't count the 6000 plus who are seriously wounded, or the beheaded contractors or the fellows strung up on bridges or the 11 000 plus dead Iraqi civilians or the hundreds of al-Sadr militia rebels cut to pieces by AC-130 gunships.

Just the thousand dead American soldiers.

I would say more, about how many classrooms of people that is, or how many soccer leagues, or how many elementary schools full, but what's the point?

One thousand casualties. And counting. Quagmire, indeed.

September 7th, 2004

I'd been sucking back gin and tonics with the lads Saturday night, and I was settling in for some late night chips and video games when the phone rang.

It was my old mentor, Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman, who often asks my advice when he's worried about the media. He also likes to run new ideas about the Riemann hypothesis past me, or some days, the Poincaré conjecture.

As most people know, Grigori's been on the edge of proofing the Poincaré conjecture for some time. But for some damned reason, he continues to avoid any mention of Poincaré in his papers, and it is going to lose him a hell of a lot of money. Being the supreme capitalist that I am, I often badger him about publishing the papers properly, but Grigori refuses to budge.

After mocking him for a few minutes about his communist roots, the conversation turned, naturally, to the multidimensional topology of space. I listened to him replay the constant apple / doughnut dimensional paradox, and I just knew he was going to bitch again about Fermat's last theorem before getting into what he really wanted to talk about - the shape of the space in which we live. So I cut him off, and I said, "Fuck the connectivity, Grigor, and fuck the fifth dimension. You are missing the path you should follow, and it is so bloody simple. This is not Euclidean, and you damn well know you should be focussing on the wave dynamics between abelian points and zeta functions. So quit pushing your damn Hodge conjecture in my face!"

He was stunned for a minute, and then he murmured, in his thick Petersburg accent, "Mingus, maybe you are right. Too much focus on connectivity, on Euclid..."

I cut him off again.

"Damned straight. Because you can't let it go. It reminds you of America, and Jennifer, or whatever her name was..."


"And it's royally fucking up your work. Trust me. You can hold on to the memory of Janine, but you have to let go of what happened over there. If you don't, you will get nowhere on the Poincaré, cause all you can think of is her North Carolina ass, and the bloody connectivity. Forget it."

He was silent for a moment, and I wondered what time it was in St. Petersburg. I wondered what the mood was these days, if the Russians would be driven back to their old anger. And I listened to his heavy breathing, his lungs made old by years of smoking hand-rolled tobacco.

"And if I can't forget?" he said.

"You'll never win the CMI prize," I said. "And worse, you'll never be home."

He grunted, and thanked me, roughly, and hung up, as he always does. And I wondered if he'll be able to forget, or if some co-ed American with blue volleyball shorts was going to ruin the mind of one of Russia's greatest mathematicians. As I've often said, it's amazing what an ass like that can do the master of spatial topology. It really is.

September 6th, 2004
Labour Day in the
Heart of Darkness

A number of bloggers are writing today about the Sudan crisis, in an attempt to push for some sort of action on the issue. There is a page on Amnesty International Canada with the addresses of people to write. In support of the awareness campaign, I thought I'd reprint an entry from a month ago because VERY LITTLE HAS CHANGED and the essay is still quite relevant. Therefore, the Daily Mingus proudly re-presents:

Afrika Corpse [originally printed August 3, 2004]

Not too long ago, I read a graphic novel entitled 'Fax From Sarajevo', by Joe Kubert. It told the story of a man, Ervin Rustemagic, who was trapped inside the siege of Sarajevo with his family in the early '90s. He attempted to get them out for over a year, using a fax machine to keep in contact with his many friends beyond the former Yugoslavian border. Some of his contacts were only a couple hundred kilometres away, but it was nearly impossible to even reach the suburbs. When necessary, such a feat was performed in an old car with metal plating welded to the sides, the occupants covered in layers of old comic books, which functioned as body armour. Every time Rustemagic made the trip, he came under heavy automatic rifle fire, even with his son and daughter in the vehicle. His home was destroyed and many of his friends and colleagues slaughtered.

One of the striking things about the faxes he sent during that period is the frustration with the international community. After finishing the book, I realized that the language mirrored the dialogue from the Sudan situation.

In both cases, horror stories about rape and mass murder surface, and the inevitable response from the world at large is: economic sanctions. For example:

The US and UK originally proposed threatening Sudan with an arms embargo and sanctions. But they were forced to back off in the face of opposition from countries such as Russia, China, Pakistan, Algeria and Brazil.

Instead of "sanctions", the security council will consider unspecified "measures" if Sudan fails to comply by next month. The resolution was adopted by 13 votes to 0, with China and Pakistan abstaining. Ewen MacAskill, July 31, 2004 The Guardian

The Sudanese government was given 30 days to call off its proxy killers or face unspecified punitive "measures" - but, mark well, not formal sanctions, not military force and certainly not a regime-changing invasion. And that only if the UN deemed the government to have made insufficient progress by September. Simon Tisdall, August 3, 2004, The Guardian

It is difficult to tell exactly what is happening in the Sudan at this point, as the government is not letting many journalists into the country. Some feel that a declaration of 'genocide' is simply another US oil grab , while others believe it is a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Refugee accounts are typically horrifying

"They came at dawn, at 4am. They came on horses, donkeys, camels and Land Cruisers. They burnt the houses and killed the men and many of the male children. I don't know if my husband is alive or dead." Mrs Mousa, Guardian

Maybe it is genocide, maybe it isn't. If it is, sanctions certainly won't stop it, as Mr. Rustemagic can attest. Only heavy armour and UN troops will break up that shit. Hopefully, if it is a case of genocide, the international community and the Americans aren't too battle -weary to engage in a war with a mere humanitarian basis. It is interesting that the only western country to send troops (200 commandos in nearby Chad) anywhere near this mess is the oft-derided France, which was villainized by the Americans for 'uncourageously' opting out of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, the rest of us sit and wait to find out if, oh yes, it was genocide. And holy fuck, is it possible that we are really so incapable of learning a goddamned thing from history, even it was just ten years ago?

What would you say, Mr. Rustemagic, what would you say?

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