Monthly Archives: February 2005

Poverty and Prison

So yesterday I passed out at 3 PM and got maybe two hours of sleep. I have been unable to sleep since moving into this house a bit over a month ago — at best I'm getting four hours a night, and while I can operate on little sleep, I can't handle that little for that long. The only reason I'm functioning right now is I shot myself up with a little medicationat least that's still legal…

     If he'd been a soldier man
     Shooting gooks in Vietnam
     If he was the CIA
     Selling dope and making hay
     He'd be free, they'd let him be
     Breathing air, like you and me
          - John Lennon, John Sinclair

I mention this because a kid in Indiana that had a couple priors for drug possession just got handed twenty years in prison for getting nailed in a sting for selling two Oxycontin pills. Well, maybe he can get early release to kill in the upcoming water wars and other pending apocalypses.

Hell, this dude is facing 2-to-8 years for crowd surfing. Sign him up too.

I'm told I live in the third world… well, they got it right on the third try.

Even though violent crime is at its lowest rate since the mid-seventies, at this point the United States has approximately two and a half million of its citizens in prison, making it the most aggressive prison police state both in the modern world and human history. No country in the world — not Iraq, not China, not Russia — has a higher per-capita imprisonment rate. Deeply disturbing.

Please pay attention to these things. America is armed to the teeth, spending more money on military technology than any nation in human history, and is on a collision course with a fate that almost forces it to start using that might simply to survive, assuming it doesn't first goad any number of groups into launching preemptive nuclear strikes — America has a failing power grid and supply system (a problem that's not hard to fix), pollution that's spinning out of control, and is currently unable to supply enough fresh water for its people — a growing amount is being piped in from Canada — let alone enough food. It should go without saying how dangerous for the US to keep careening recklessly toward bankruptcy. The point-of-no-return that when we reach it all our lives change forever gets closer every day.

Low income housing going up down the block from me.
People making less than $4,000 a year own these. Own, not rent.
We can all have homes. We shouldn't have to pay the wealthy for the right to have a roof.

Now, don't get me wrong — things are pretty screwed up all over the world. The US is still better off on most accounts than most nations (and does what it can to keep it that way) — what differentiates it is that it's incredibly large (when America falls, the collateral damage will shake the planet), farthest along on the path to hell because it started first and ran the fasted into the darkness of the future, and it's the only one that's on an obvious crash course with little time left to correct it.

As much as I wish awareness and capitalist support was enough, I'm not sure that yuppies doing the right thing and heartily congratulating each other for it is going to save us… and sadly, the muddled politics in America make me fear that no one has the cahones left for revolution. It's too bad, because if you've got to choose between local revolution and world war, world war is a whole lot less pleasant.

Maybe it's best if the Earth takes a break from the wonders of humanity. Even if we leave this place a smoking radioactive storm-wrought wasteland, I strongly suspect that life will find a way.

     Years ago you sent a postcard,
     it's the one that always made me laugh
     It said "Send for reinforcements
     cause theres too much here for me to love."
          - Neil Halstead, Hi-Lo and Inbetween

Other than that, I really have to thank everyone who's written in the memories forum. My memory isn't very good, and I have trouble bringing some of this up from the depths, but those triggered so many wonderful things I thought I'd forgotten.

Yes, this was a disjointed entry.

I admit I posted it in part to clear my “you should post these” bookmarks list from the last week.

Places I've lived, via Google

I played with Google Maps for a while today and was able to find all of the places inside Canada and America that I've lived, in shocking detail. They even had surprisingly accurate maps of the backroads in Tweed and Miramichi! Definitely blows away the nav system we had…

High Park and Bloor, Toronto… This is the only real apartment building I've ever lived in. It sucked, but had a great view of the park and the lake.

Russet Ave (Dufferin and Bloor, Toronto). I lived here with Stigmata until we cruelly chased her out. I'm surprised she's forgiven me for that, we were very uncool about it.

St. Clair and Ossington, living with Todd Fox and my friend Lara. This was the first place I lived where I wasn't supervised after being released from psyche ward.

Yonge and Yorkville, Toronto… Fanciest place I ever lived.

Ross St. basement apartment (College and Spadina). This palce kept flooding. I lived here with Todd and Saira.

The Clarke Institute, Toronto. Yeah, so I lived in a mental hospital. So did a lot of superheroes (ok, mostly supervillains).

Vanier College, York University. I may have put the star in the wrong place slightly. I lived here with Jen and many others. My roommate left half way through the year to join the cast of Miss Saigon so I had a double room to myself.

I lived with my uncle on Fairlawn, just north of Yonge and Lawrence for a while. As you can probably guess from the address if you know Toronto well, he's a lawyer.

Big Island. An island off an island. I grew up on a farm here and lived there for about fifteen years in all. I actually tried to buy the property back to keep it in the family but my mother blocked the sale out of spite.

Tweed, Ontario. I had a great time living out there (and many of you came and visited for BMEfest), much thanks to Rob for the hospitality.

Miramichi, NB. Rachel and I have a small property out there. I didn't zoom in all the way, but the amazing thing is that the road we lived on is actually included in the mapping system.

Lahave, Nova Scotia (near Lunenburg). I lived here with Dave in one of Canada's oldest schoolhouses, formerly owned by his uncle, Murray Farr, the organizer of Expo '86.

4th and South, Philadelphia. I really liked living here; great neighborhood.

Victoria BC… I may have the specific address wrong though, I was very young at the time and don't really remember it that clearly.

St. Clair and Bathurst, Toronto. I think this was the first place I lived where my name was actually on the lease.

Anyway…. Google Maps is pretty cool… I could add more places I've lived but I've wasted enough time this morning browsing it. Hopefully they'll add international support in the future.

David Clinger Facial Tattoo


Wow. Pro-cyclist David Clinger just got his entire face tattooed. That's him on the right at the Rothaus Regio-Tour 2004, albeit before his facial tattoo. Clinger has now been kicked off the Webcor team unless he agrees to laser it off — to put it into context, it took twelve hours to do, so I imagine it's quite a large tattoo. Some text from the article:

"He's not functioning as any part of this organization until he can remedy this situation," [team consultant] Scioscia said. "I don't want to see this harm the people who are innocents in the equation, impacting 12 guys unrelated to the action. Little things tip the scale for the sponsors. This is so outside of the arena of the sport, I'm just bummed with it to begin with. I keep thinking this is a dream we'll all wake up from."

Clinger explained that he had the tattoo done in late January over a 12-hour session in Argentina, his fiance's homeland. Asked if he expected to get this type of reaction from his new team, Clinger replied, "I knew it would be controversial, but I kind of just did it... I needed it, and wanted it."

"I'm so competitive, racing bikes year after year, I felt it falls in line with being a warrior ... I have a Polynesian necktie' tattoo, which is on the top of one shoulder to the other shoulder. It's supposed to protect the body and whatnot.... I've crashed so many times, I'm lucky to be alive."

Of the team's initial reaction and request to have the tattoo removed, Clinger explained that he was ready to "walk in there and have them fire me if they wanted to."

If anyone has a picture of the face tattoo, please send it my way, I'd love to see it. Alternately, if you'd like to contact the club and let them know they're making a terrible mistake in banning Clinger for riding due to his tattoo, here is their contact page.

Permissive Mexicans need Africa

I haven't written about life in Mexico for a little while so I thought I'd add to my ongoing commentary. We have a maid that comes once or twice a week (it's less bourgeois than it seems, honestly). She's been coming for a while but I tend to hole up and work, so I only met her for the first time a few days ago. Rachel had mentioned to me that she was kind of tall and manly looking, but on meeting her I ammended that assessment — she was (or at least had been) a biological man.

What's interesting about this is that she appears to have a very normal group of female friends, and our friend that recommended her to us hadn't mentioned it — certainly in Canada or America that's usually something you let people know about in advance (not that I have a problem with it — it was just a surprise). Anyway, we asked our friend who recommended her and she confirmed the theory. Apparently transsexuals and transvestites are quite normal and common here and don't live the sociocultural freak lives we force on them up North. If that's true, that's a genuinely wonderful attitude.

Here in La Paz, a Catholic and conservative city of about 150,000, there are two dedicated lesbian bars (incidentally, the owner of our house is a lesbian, and there are many others we've met or know second-hand), and there are a large number of gay bars — although because of macho issues, they're just known as “men's clubs” (only one of them publicly identifies as a gay bar, and I suspect that's for the tourists). I don't know how true it is, but I have been told by locals that a majority of men here have gay experiences and it is not frowned upon or considered a “bad thing”. I have to say though that I have a nagging feeling that people are pulling my leg and telling me what they think I want to hear.

I've got an obsession going to Africa, like some kind of need that keeps calling me. I don't really know why. I know nothing about Africa. I'm like Nas's character that can't stop talking about it for the last half hour of Belly. Over the last year it's become more insistent, and I kept telling Rachel over and over that it was important to me — I have to tell her these things because she makes things happen for me.

Rachel mentioned my need to her mother, who replied in a matter-of-fact fashion, “Well, you should visit your godmother — she runs a cheetah reserve near the South Africa and Botswana border.”

There's a lot of other big game on this reserve as well, but it's sparse in terms of humans. You can take a tour if you'd like, but don't expect any people to show you around — that job is done by the elephants. Now, you don't ride the elephant. The elephant takes you for a walk around the farm, pointing out things with its trunk as it penetratively chats you up with its low rumbling voice, supplemented by telepathy of course. And people wonder why I can't shake this suspicion that my life is one big hallucination.

Anyway, from February 25th until March 13th or so Rachel and I will be in Africa. Maybe I'll want to stay forever, maybe it will cure me of this impulse. We land in Johannesburg, South Africa, and will also be in Windhoek, Namibia, as well as other places. I will be updating both BME and this site from the road. If anyone reading this lives in that vicinity and wants to hook up, please drop us a line!

Photos in this entry are courtesy of Bernard Cloutier — check out his inspiring site with hundreds of his travelogues from around the world (and much more).

Used jewelry and open scrotums

Since people are always asking me, much to my chagrin, “when are you bringing back the classifieds?”, I thought I'd mention Techdog's latest and just launched project, Body Mod Shop (no relation to BMEshop other than a deceptively close name), an auction site for used (and new) jewelry. Dunno if I'm into wearing some other dude's Prince's Wand, but as I said, since people are constantly asking me about this and there's obviously a demand, I thought I'd mention it:

It will be very interesting to see what happens when Hepatitis starts getting tracked back to used jewelry sold and traded on various websites. I'm sure it's already happened, but people won't know until it's too late and they've already given their partner a death sentence. I've also seen a lot of people on these sites buying ultra-cheap jewelry and reselling it at a profit — want my opinion? Support the industry by buying high-quality jewelry from your favorite piercing studio (or from BMEshop if you're doing it online). That said, and speaking with some mirth, I really do try and support everyone's projects, so if you don't like listening to me, Mr. Preachy, click the banner above.

Oh, and if I don't mention Jerome's art clearance sale I think his head is going to explode.

While I do like exploding heads, I'd rather if Jerome's stays intact.

Since I'm moving into graphic terroritory, I thought I'd post two pictures from one of the upcoming updates. Please don't emulate what you see here unless you understand the risks, and while I'm typing out warnings, better not click at all if you're not a BME/extreme fan.

It will be an interesting project depending on how it heals.