Thursday, May 28, 2009

WAFERS

I don't remember his name but he was a good ol' Canadian kid with lots of Richard Scarry books and lived on William Street with his good ol' white family. Anglo-Saxon. Maybe Protestant. He was an early friend and maybe his name was Chris. That's a good name for someone like him. He knew me as Norman, which of course is my name but I'm also Lup-Man. Four years before I met him, I was pooping my cloth diapers in a village in China. I met him in kindergarten.

Chris was having a birthday party, the first birthday party that I'd ever been invited to. What is this "birthday party"? What do we do? "Mom, my friend up the block is having a 'birthday party' and I think I'm supposed to give him something."

"That's nice. What are we supposed to give?"

"I dunno, but it's gotta be soon. The party is now."

"Oh. Well..." My mom searched the kitchen cupboards. I guess we could have given him fruit, but that'd be the bummest gift of all bum gifts. I guess we could have given him money in a red envelope but he wouldn't understand, and besides, we didn't have money to give. "You can give him this," my mom beamed triumphantly as she pulled a package of wafers from the top shelf. "They're very good." It was Garden brand. It was strawberry. It was unopened.

My mom escorted me up the block as I clutched the wafers at my chest, wrapped in a plastic bag with the slogans of an herb store in Chinatown. Not even wrapped, just... bundled.

As we walked up the steps the shrieking of jubilant five-year-olds got louder. I knocked, the door opened, and the squeals were intense. Chris's mom greeted us with a smile, "Are you Norman?"

"Uh-huh. We're here for the 'birthday party'. This is my mom."

"Hello!" my mom said in the broken English she had just learned.

I held out the crinkly package proudly, with both hands. "This is for Chris."

"Oh!" the mom said with modest, if not fake, surprise. "Chris! Your friend is here!" Chris came bounding to the door, his head sweaty. "Norman and his mom brought you a gift!"

"What is it what'd you get me?" he panted. He unravelled the bag -- the easiest unwrapping he'd performed -- and pulled out the treat.

"Ooh, cookies!" his mom chimed. Chris dumped the wafers back into the bag, handed it to his mom, and ran back into the house to join the squealing. "Thank you," she said politely.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SCOUNDREL

At fifteen he is mischievous.

In his twenties he is an asshole.

In his thirties he is spiteful.

In his forties he is malicious.

In his fifties he has no friends.

In his sixties he is regretful.

In his seventies he is forgiven or murdered.

The murder may happen earlier.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

EAT

Just so you know, I can out-eat almost anyone.

...And you can quote me on that, but do mind your syntax, you saucy buggers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

LIP

...something mundane, like, "What happened to your lip? There's blood. Did you cut yourself? Did you get-- You didn't get hit, did you?" And all it is is that you yawned mightily while your lips were dry.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

NEWS

The bad news: Complacency kills ambition.

The good news: Ambition kills complacency.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CAPRICE

The radio-show debate is about whether or not a certain rapper is still relevant.

When we call someone irrelevant we are not saying he is no longer important -- we are saying he no longer matters. His very existence is not necessary to us, currently. He is ineffective.

How fickle of us.

To be deemed irrelevant is to be damned.

Friday, May 15, 2009

FLIES

It is spring and warm. Tiny flies have returned. They provide me company and annoy me from darkness to sun's peeking. Those that are alive dash themselves into my lamp, their bodies tapping against the paper shade like the slightest hail against skylight. Those that are dead cluster themselves in piles in every crevice by the bulb. Those that are between death and life writhe, wings quivering wavering with the gentle sway of bonito flakes on rice. They'll be dead soon. While their legs twitch their last twitches they are in ecstasy. The incandescent bulb is their heroin their coke their Gauloises their absinthe their music. Dying from what they lived for. Knowing the light will kill them. Spasms of passion. Purposeful end. Happily dead. I should get a screen for my window.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

REDREAM

A LIST OF WHAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - Draft 1
A black prime minister of Canada.
A woman prime minister of Canada.
An openly gay prime minister of Canada.
An atheist prime minister of Canada.
A Jew prime minister of Canada.
A Muslim prime minister of Canada.
A Chinese prime minister of Canada.
An aboriginal prime minister of Canada.
An immigrant prime minister of Canada.
A disabled prime minister of Canada.
A left-Left prime minister of Canada.
A hockey legend prime minister of Canada.
An intellectual celebrity prime minister of Canada.
A caribou prime minister of Canada.
Another Trudeau.


A LIST OF WHAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - Draft 2
A black prime minister of Canada.
An openly gay prime minister of Canada.
A Jew prime minister of Canada.
A Muslim prime minister of Canada.
A Chinese prime minister of Canada.
An aboriginal prime minister of Canada.
An immigrant prime minister of Canada.
A left-Left prime minister of Canada.
A hockey legend prime minister of Canada.
Another Trudeau.


A LIST OF WHAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - Draft 3
A left-Left prime minister of Canada.


A LIST OF WHAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - Final Draft







Wednesday, May 13, 2009

UNDREAM

A LIST OF WHAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - Draft 1
A black president of America.
A woman president of America.
An openly gay president of America.
An atheist president of America.
A Jew president of America.
A Chinese president of America.
A dog president of America.
A disabled president of America.


A LIST OF WHAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - Draft 2
A woman president of America.
An openly gay president of America.
A Jew president of America.
A Chinese president of America.
A dog president of America.


A LIST OF WHAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - Final Draft
An openly gay president of America.
An atheist president of America.
A Chinese president of America.
A dog president of America.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

PORK

The thing about racism is that sometimes it's funny. And that's the thing about growing up in the inner city like I did (yes, I officially did, like, civic designation. I'm not just saying that to be hardcore). Sure, the horror about living in the city is that tons of races get mashed together so gangs get formed based on ethnic camaraderie and then all of a sudden you can't wear purple to Metrotown unless you're Latino, and you're gonna look don't-belong in a Lee Storm Rider unless you're Italian Portuguese Greek White, and all of a sudden you're gonna get swarmed 'cause the Chinese and Vietnamese dudes don't fight one-on-one. Remember Asian Youth Gangs? Don't fuck with them. But the beauty about living in the city is that tons of races get mashed together and you become tolerant. You become so sensitive to the minutely detailed, subtly layered, colourfully nuanced, innumerable variations of racism that in fact, you become desensitised. Tough, colourful skin. You learn quickly the fine degrees between what's sincerely offensive and what's merely clowning. Growing up where I did, going to the schools I went, it was easy to not get offended. The thing wasn't about deep-seated hate -- it was about affectionate aggravation.

So Nick called me a chink and Sunny a pun. And Sunny called me a chink and I called him a pun. We didn't know what to call Nick besides Fuck Off. As retaliation we would give each other the beats. Not hardcore beats, just a medium-deft fist to the back and a noogie and "Don't call me chink, you pun!" Then we'd return to Nintendo. We were buddies. But that's the thing: among pals you can be racist 'cause there's an understanding that we're not really racists. It's the way we talk, and it's special. We also knew discretion, and not to call any random guy a chink 'cause you'd get swarmed. Remember Asian Youth Gangs? Selective, affectionate, non-racist racism. That's the thing when you grow up on a block where every household speaks a different language for reals. It was our vernacular.

It wasn't always fair. Nick knew full well that saying "chink" and "pun" in the wrong company would get him shanked, so when he called me and Sunny those flammable names, he'd digress with a point to his Benfica t-shirt and say, "It's okay. Go ahead and call me pork-and-cheese."