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Thanks to my brother, Jude, for this picture!

Dear Charlie,

On the morning of your ninth birthday party, I looked in the mirror and saw my father.  This happens to me sometimes when I glimpse my reflection out of the corner of my eye, especially when I am bearded, as I am now, because it is winter and, as you know, I am a lifelong pedestrian.  In the past, I often tried to deny any resemblance but, it is true that sometimes, from certain angles, even if only briefly, I look like my father.

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Posted by: Dan | January 2, 2018

Twenty Years from Homelessness

Part One

White Stones, Queens, 1974.
Fathers talking shit,
Motherfucker slam the door.
Hit the streets running, cannot take it anymore.
In the reins of the train, I cuddle on the floor.

On the park bench, door, and sleeping here for free
Little kids sitting in the shooting gallery
Set yourself up
From innocence to misery
Oh, this is what you wanted,
Not the way, what the fuck you say?

~ Rancid, “1998

Between January 4th and January 10th, 1998, a series of large storms dumped 80-130mm (~3-5 inches) of precipitation on Eastern Ontario and Quebec. What began as rain rapidly turned to ice and the ice accumulated and as it accumulated it devastated trees and infrastructure, forests and cities. Kilometre after kilometre of hydro towers fell like dominoes. Millions of people lost power, some for several weeks in subzero temperatures, and at least thirty-five people died. This became known as The Ice Storm of 1998. It was at this time that I became homeless and, one quiet winter evening, carried all my worldly possessions – in a backpack, a duffel bag, and a number of garbage bags, down a frozen suburban street into a future I could not foresee.

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Posted by: Dan | December 27, 2017

2017: Reviews in Review

In 2017, I read 77 books, watched 49 movies, as well as another 44 documentaries.  Good to know that I am doing something with my life.  The full list is provided below but, first, a few comments about my favourites.

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Posted by: Dan | December 27, 2017

December Reviews

Discussed in this post: 9 Books (The Influence of Cooperative Bacteria on Animal Host Biology; Beyond Words; Down Girl; Survival in Auschwitz; Desperate Characters; The Book of Sand; The Ruba’iyat; Classic Hasidic Tales; and Bone); 5 Movies (The Killing of a Sacred Deer; A Ghost Story; Song to Song; Loveless; and Star Wars Episode VIII); and 1 rant about David Attenborough.

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Along with many others, I was struck by the literary brilliance and emotional impact of Kristen Roupenian’s short story, “Cat Person” (read it here).  However, and once again along with many others, I was both appalled and disheartened by the ways in which many men were responding to the story.  I ended up having a rather lengthy conversation about the story with some of these fellows on a friend’s facebook page and I have decided to take what I wrote there and make it into a blog post here.  My intention in doing so isn’t so much to further engage those whom I have termed “the bros” (and will refer to as Bro1 and Bro2 throughout) as it is to offer an alternative reading to those who are unsettled by what the bros have said but who aren’t sure how to refute their arguments.

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Posted by: Dan | December 1, 2017

November Reviews

Discussed in this post: 9 books (Organism and Environment; Weird Life; Illness as Metaphor; A Sorrow Beyond Dreams; The Robber; Go Tell It on the Mountain; The Vanishing Hitchhiker; Collected Shorter Poems; and Burma Chronicles); 4 Movies (The Dance of Reality; Solaris; Loving Vincent; and Songs My Brothers Taught Me); and 2 Documentaries (Voyage of Time; and Jodorowsky’s Dune).

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Posted by: Dan | November 16, 2017

A Poem for my Roommate on the Occasion of my Return

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Hold me, embrace me, kiss me, I missed you, I love you, with you there’s no place else I’d rather be. Your heart is a glacier and mine is the root of the mountain.  Flow. Over me, around me, cover me, fill the valleys with ice and the cracking sound of thunder.  Bury the peaks, grind down the boulders, turn rocks into sand.  Breathe, advance, retreat, flow.

I drank your waters and they washed away my bridges, turned my coast into a wasteland, devastated my devastation, made my world anew.

There is a line that I can draw from the small of your back to the arch of your shoulder.  There is a line where our fingers connect.  There is the cracking sound of thunder and all these lines become tangled, like stone with ice, like water with life.  There is the cleft of your smile at the corner of your lips.  Flow.

Love flows like a flood and fills like an ocean and we, in our small boat, have barely left port.  Let’s sail, let’s sail, let’s sail away, to the islands beyond the horizon, to the caves in the depths where the sun goes to sleep, and to places where little birds have not learned to be afraid.  The future is not landlocked; the future is an open sea.

They lied when they told us we are worthless.  They lied when they told us the world is ugly.  They lied when they told us we deserve this.  They lied when they told us the walls they built around us are the boundaries of the world.  They lied but the truth, like Grímsvötn, erupted deep beneath the Vatnajökull, and washed them away.  And love is the boat and love is the ocean and, still, we’ve barely left port.

Hold me, embrace me, kiss me, I missed you, I love you, with you there’s no place else I’d rather be. Your heart is a glacier and mine is the root of the mountain.  Flow. Over me, around me, cover me, fill the valleys with ice and the cracking sound of thunder.  Bury the peaks, grind down the boulders, turn rocks into sand.  Breathe, advance, retreat, flow.

Posted by: Dan | November 3, 2017

October Reviews

Discussed in this post: 9 Books (Militant Anti-Fascism; Against the Fascist Creep; Antifa; World Without Mind; A Place in the Country; Troubling Love; Four Quartets; Celan; and Heine); 5 Movies (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; Evolution; The Transfiguration; Boys in the Trees; and Super Dark Times); 5 Documentaries (Tomorrow We Disappear; The Red Pill; Raising Bertie; Icarus; and The Punk Syndrome).

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Posted by: Dan | October 14, 2017

In The World I Want To Live In

In the world I want to live in
People are only touched
—–How they want to be touched
———-When they want to be touched
—————By the people they want to touch them
And if there’s any confusion about this
—–People communicate openly
———-Without shame or pretentiousness
—————(As if everyone is supposed to have this all figured out
—————As if there’s something wrong with you if you don’t)
———-“I would like you to hold me.”
—————“How do you like to be held?”
——————–“Like this.”

In the world I want to live in
We each give according to our ability
—–And Receive according to our need
———-Because fairness is not taking what you can get
—————Or hoarding what you got
And if there’s any confusion about this
—–I’ll leave it to you to explain the logic of neoliberalism
———-To Indigenous children covered in sores
—————(Because the water on the reserve is contaminated
—————Because the boil water advisory is still in effect)
———-“I would like to be healthy.”
—————“How would you like to be healthy?”
——————–“Like this.”

In the world I want to live in
Black Lives Matter
—–Gay is Good
———-Decolonization precedes reconciliation
—————And there is nothing about us without us
And if there’s any confusion about this
—–I would like us to consider
———-That these are only the most basic requirements of Love
—————(Overriding the Rule of Law
—————Overriding the Rule of Money)
———-“I would like to be valued, acknowledged and honoured.”
—————“How would you like to be valued, acknowledged and honoured?”
——————–“Like this.”

In the world I want to live in
People are kind to each other
—–And it’s okay to cry
———-As we share our deepest longings
—————And find ways to realize them together
And if there’s any confusion about this
——Our singers will sing songs
———-And our painters will paint pictures
—————(And we will remember that the world was not always this way
—————And we will remember that the world need not stay this way)
———-“This does not look like the world I want to live in.”
—————“What does the world you want to live in look like?”
——————–“Like this.”

Posted by: Dan | October 12, 2017

A Poem on the Occasion of my Second Leave from Work

Across the world it is the same.  When those with money arrive, those without cannot remain.
From the Beyoglu District in Instanbul
To the Kathputli Colony in Delhi
To the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver
To the small piece of land I visit every day
—–Just north of the railroad tracks
—–Beside an empty parking lot
—–With a few picnic tables and parking spaces
—–With free
———-Showers
———-Coffee
———-Computers
———-Wifi
———-Laundry services
———-Toiletries and clothing
———-Chairs for sitting or sleeping
———-Tables for visiting or playing cards with friends
———-TV for watching and
———-Radio for listening
—–With love and affection
—–Safety
—–And someone to welcome you and rejoice that you are present.
Across the world it is the same.  When those with money arrive, those without cannot remain.
Homo Sacer
—–The Sacred One
Homo Sacer
—–The Accursed One
Homo Sacer
—–The Left-For-Dead
Homo Sacer
—–The Human Detritus
———-Of Civilization
———-Of Colonization
———-Of Neoliberalism
———-Of Revitalization Without Displacement
—————(also known as Gentrifuckation)
Homo Sacer
—–Drug Addict
—–Criminal
—–Chronically Homeless
—–Community Health Concern
—–Mentally Ill
—–Dual Diagnosis
—–Complex Trauma
Beloved
Alas
I know the path but my feet cannot walk to you today, my feet cannot walk with you today, my hands cannot greet your hands today – cracked and dirty and beautiful hands, old and young and impeccable hands – my eyes cannot look on you with love today.  Nor can I receive your love today.
Alas
We are overrun
—–By Apathy
—–By shifting Funding Priorities
—–By Developers
—–By Greed
—–By Incident Reports
—–By Law and by
—–Death
Alas
And the words tattooed on my collar
—–καί πάλίν άναστήσομεν
Call to me like a voice rising from the grave
Wither, Thou, Spirit of Life?
My loved ones are ever only crucified.
—–“I love you,” I whisper
———-And burn.

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