Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dog and the Man

Finally having a chance to read Various Positions, Ira Nadel's biography of Leonard Cohen (1996, rev. 2007). So far the most revealing passage has been:

As a child, Cohen had a small Scottish terrier, nicknamed Tinkie for the tinkle of his license and identification tags. His parents surprised him with the dog as a gift ... His mother had actually named the dog Tovarishch, but his father disliked the reminder of the site of the Russo-German treaties. Tinkie disappeared in a snowstorm fifteen years later and was found dead under a neighbor's porch the next spring. The dog had been one of Cohen's closest childhood companions; Cohen still keeps a picture of Tinkie in his Los Angles home. To this day he refuses to get another dog...

I don't think I need to read anymore of the biography after this: everything is there in essence.

Monday, June 18, 2012


This is the first year that I noticed that Bloomsday and Father's Day are so close together. It's strangely appropriate for a novel so concerned with questions of paternity, patronage, and sons (missing, dead, resentful...) as well as the desired surrogate father-son relationship between Bloom and Stephen.

[Image from the BBC radio dramatization of Ulysses].

While this year is significant for Joyce studies due to the works coming into the public domain, for me, 2012 also marks 25 years since my father's passing.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Happy Birthday Bro

Happy 40th Birthday to my amazing brother Michael who features in several poems in Double Helix, and for whom the sequence "Arcadian Suite" is dedicated.

THE CRYSTAL PALACE (from "Arcadian Suite")
"The arcade is a street of lascivious commerce only; it is wholly adapted to arousing desires."

-- Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project --

The site of youthful addictions. Perhaps a Parnassus, or Fortress of Solitude. But only when school was skipped, before the crowds arrived. Mall rations, tokenism at best, anniversary adversaries.

So revel without pause. That brief magic moment before it was all brought home. Colours as candy, the rotting as subliminal, darkness at the centre of town. Exercision. Eye or hand, a quarter nation.

No pleasure without fraternity. Two-player team-ups with the lines drawn religiously. Paying to fight, just like a colony. Queen Elizabeth II confrontations. Cain my brother, Cain my enabeler.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

God Save Jamie Reid

1977 was the first year that I was conscious of what year it was. The first weekend of June that year I was turning seven and birthday cards & books that I received were often inscribed with "1977". Thus it's not surprising that that year is vividly embossed in my memory. During that time I was also a novice stamp collector & remember being annoyed that many of the Canadian stamps in the early part of the year were devoted to images of the Queen (at the expense of other cool things that seemed to happening that year, like a new Toronto baseball team called the Blue Jays, or Star Wars, a life-changing film I had seen a month earlier ...). 

Flash-forward to 2012, my birthday is approaching & earlier this week I couldn't buy a set of postage stamps anywhere in Toronto that didn't have military hardware or images of the Queen on them. And fully half of last night's National was devoted to the Queen's jubilee (at the expense of detailed stories on the Montreal protests, Syria, European and U.S. economic meltdowns, the gutting of environmental research in Canada, General Motors closures, and so on...)

At this time I feel it's worth revisiting Jamie Reid's original artwork for the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" which responded to the Queen's Silver Jubilee & which is more transgressive than the eventual artwork utilized: swastika eyes & all...

And Canada's dreaming...