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March 17, 2014

Random notes…

Although America spends more on its military than the next 13 biggest spenders in the world combined (and this includes China and Russia), America is still afraid of its own shadow. It always, somehow, feels vulnerable.

I wonder if the Romans felt the same way when one mentioned the Visigoths. Or the Saxons?

The way my father always feared the “yellow peril”?


The first time my mother, who had always lived in farm-country in north-eastern Ontario, came to visit me in the “big city”, she couldn’t believe how much night light there was. She had always gone to sleep in the deep dark night, in a house so dark you could not even see your own hand in front of your face after the lights were turned off, and now, here she was able to walk around the house in the middle of the night like it was 15 minutes before dawn.

“There is no way this is healthy” she had remarked that first night, as the soft glow of the city crept in around the edges of the curtains.

When I told me brother about what she said he laughed.

Now, science tells us that “night-light” is probably one of the most toxic environmental changes we have come up with in the last two hundred years.

Our entire body rhythm was designed over millennia of sleeping in the dark. Night light has now been linked to increases in obesity and depression. In the dark we create our own natural cancer fighters.

Night light is now understood to be the number one cause of breast cancer.

My mom was right. She was intuitively right. And because she had intuited it, no one listened to her.


We arrive home late, so late in fact that our cats have eaten all the little kibbles that had previously fallen out of their dishes and onto the floor. Kibbles that the cats otherwise would ignore in their otherwise satisfied lives. Kibbles I would usually sweep up with the broom.

Ariel bends and pets them and profusely apologizes to them, and then gets them some wet food from the fridge, as a late night treat. And to assuage her guilt.

“It’s good for them,” I say to her. “Eating the scraps off the floor helps keep them honest.”

And then I smile to myself. That was something my mother would have said.


 _DSC5812They come like waves of newly-arriving tourists. They flock in for the day – this 31C July day – all 872 cultures, sub-cultures, strata and minutia that make up the sprawling Toronto Metropolis.

Kenyans and Ukraines. The Chinese business man. The East-Indian picnic. High school girls in blooming cleavages, and the uneasy boys who walk by their side.

DSCF0020On the boardwalk middle-eastern club girls brush past two smiling Jewish profs, out for a stroll and a discussion of Hegel.

I watch children run with great laughing smiles across the vast expanse of beach sand – the great blue lake just beyond their grasp.

A fiddler and a banjo player busk for the folks while babies and the newly walking dance and twist and slap their arms with joy. (Oh, to be so happy that you slap your own arms with joy!)

lamb 2

Actual Toronto real estate company!

Toronto – the downtown of urbane dolts and condo idiots – holds little magic for me. Those people have lost themselves. They’ve become lost to hypertension and gentrification. Fully committed to their $100,000-a-year material desires and anti-aging crèmes. Lost to their glutton-free, sugar-free, garlic-free Buddhist-friendly diets. Preferring the treadmill to a tree-lined street, or a walk in the valley.

Here is the Toronto the politicians and their allegiances cannot see. 847 cultures laughing & walking & playing & living & crying on a 3km strip of beach – with a soft warm breeze on our faces and the blazing blue sun on our backs

– on this glorious 30º summer day.


DSCF0052Halifax is the kind of town where the cop is still inclined to give you a ticket, when, at 3 in the morning, you get caught crossing against the light at Robie and Spring Garden.

It doesn’t matter that it is 3 in the morning. Nor that you stand on a street that you can see to the horizon in any direction. Or, that its so quiet that if you listen, you may actually hear an owl! It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a car moving – for a thousand yards in any direction.

It doesn’t matter.

That’s just how they do things in Halifax.

Halifax is the kind of Canadian town that still has respect for the rules. Halifax is the kind of Canadian town where the middle-class are still in charge. They love to post their rules on signs all over town. Where to walk, and where not to sit. Telling you on what days you can use your bike in the park, and on what days you cannot.

The list of posted rules in this town are, in fact, quite endless.

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