Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Fucking Evening

I’ve been trying to find my centre. Winter is under my fingernails and on my lips, and I need to shake it loose before it gets to the bone.

More than anything else, what the season brings me is isolation. I end up so lost that simple things like touch, sharing a meal, or holding up my end of a conversation become overwhelmingly complicated, and leave me feeling sensitive and nervous.

I don’t know where I need to go to find what I used to have; all the signs are in another language, and all the maps are made of dust.

Things I need more of, in no particular order. (first in a series)

– science-fiction
– coffee
– Super Paper Mario
– Eric B & Rakim
– weird sex
– sun
– N2O
– time
– Amsterdam
– robots
– teeth
– teeth made from robots with smaller teeth inside them so that they chew my food for me when my mouth is closed
– lucid dreaming
– Strongbow
– the responsible abuse of pleasure

quelle horreur

Ah, Montreal. You are like the sexy leather-clad mistress whom I take home for a night of unspeakable indulgences, only to wake and find you setting my couch on fire to rid it of evil spirits.

I spent some time there with my family this weekend, which is always an interesting and unnerving experience. Most of the family there are the immigrants: aunts, uncles, and their children, and are your typical Arab stereotypes. Pitbulls, Versace, Ferraris. However, my little brother has also recently moved to Montreal from LA in an attempt to go straight, and is not your typical Arab stereotype:

We couldn’t have been out for more than an hour or two when he got into a fight with three huge french-speaking Mexicans. Bottles broken over heads, knives pulled, teeth lost, and so on. To his credit, he didn’t start it, nor did he stab anyone this time.

Things calmed down a little after that, but really only a little. Aside from an hour spent watching a mindblowing surprise fireworks show downtown (who knew they could make explosions shaped like cubes?), the weekend was mostly dominated by chaos, confusion, and excess. One of my cousins called me this morning to let me know that my brother ended up in jail a few hours after I left. Aside from a kicked-in police car window, details are pretty sketchy, and no one knows exactly what happened, or where he went after he was released.

Family aside, I got to see Yann and Guilliame perform as Memmaker, which was excellent; we’ll be bringing them to town to play soon. I also got to spin an impromptu tag-team set with Yann at Saphir which was a lot of fun, and also resulted in a booking for a rave sometime next month. There are a lot of Montreal DJs who’re interested in playing Ottawa at some point, maybe we’ll see about having a Cultural Exchange night.

The house is coming along well, although the pace of the move is much slower than I’d like. I should be borrowing Charles’ father’s truck sometime soon to get the rest of the big pieces from the old house, and it should be all downhill after that.

It is, even in it’s unfinished and cluttered state, beautiful. I would buy it tomorrow if it were for sale. And if it were sold at about a third of it’s actual value so that I could afford it.

Instead of banknotes, today’s pictures are of the castle on Kaya street in Turkey where my father’s side of the family grew up. (It has since been taken over by the Turkish government, and turned into a museum and movie set.)



In the summer, the entire family would sleep outside on this roof.


This was my grandmother’s room and bedset. She left it when they moved, and they have maintained it for the last 40 years.


One of the guest rooms.

609

When I dream, it’s conflict, always conflict.

Last night’s dream was a one-act play where a university student was arrested, detained, and then put through incredible psychological stress by the investigators (much like The Interview). They accused him of being connected to an incredibly violent Kaiser Soze-like crime lord, acting as the perfect no-one-will-suspect-the-honour-student gangster who imports contraband and distributes it to the regional bosses.

He seemed genuinely baffled by this, and wrote it off as a case of mistaken identity or a mixed-up file. He pointed out that he’d never been to the country that this kingpin was from, that he doesn’t travel, and that he spends so much present-and-accounted-for time with various school activities that it would be impossible for him to take up a new hobby, let alone mastermind a national distribution network.

The investigators were unconvinced.

Over the course of the day they used bribes, threats, and blackmail. They talked about the indiscriminate brutality of the crime boss, ordering the slaughter of gangsters and innocents alike, murdering his own men if they did not pass bizarre ‘loyalty tests’, and wiping out entire divisions of the organization if they were not meeting expectations. They refused to let him make a phone call. They refused to get him anything to eat. They promised a reduced sentence if he cooperated. They lowered the temperature for an hour, and left him shivering in his t-shirt; then they blasted the heat, sipping on ice-cold water while they interrogated.

The student continued to protest; first with indignation, then with anger, and finally with exhaustion. They had the wrong man, he said, and no amount of threats would change that.

Finally, they put all their cards on the table. They have been watching him for the greater part of a year, they said. They have recordings of calls he made on disposable cell phones. They have surveillance photos of him meeting with dealers and fences in a clubhouse, disguised as a dentist’s office.

They told him that he had a choice to make.

They could charge him with everything, and he would spend the rest of his life in prison — or he could roll over, and help them pin his boss, who they had been trying (and failing) to gain evidence on for years.

After a long silence, he looked up at one of the investigators, and asked “Can you offer me protection?”

The investigator said that he could.

The student said he wanted to be somewhere secure before he talked. The investigator assented, and opened the interrogation room door to lead him out.

He made it half-way across the room before the second investigator slipped the garrotte around his neck.

He had failed the test.

i am bic

An Ode To My Monitor
What ho! What’s this on my wood desk,
Something too large for words;
A screen so bright to be grotesque,
Clearly the work of nerds!
Ratio and size, sixteen to nine
Rotating stand to turn
The screen, not bound to the landscape,
Or such worldly concerns;
A guide that serves to hold the lines
So the cables can’t intertwine
Rounds out a perfect shape.

An Ode to my Hypothalamus
Get Fucked.

silent, still

A city frozen
under stars and amber lights
dreams of wind and earth

where stillness serves to lift the burden
of concrete spirits
and sleeping streets sink into brief respite

the sharp air bringing such a hush upon the world
even the birds refuse to break the peace

in this, all things agree

the snow is a blanket of silver dust on the world
the moon a bright cut across velvet sky.

Do you sleep soundly?

I’ve written a few times about my childhood, but I can never find the words to convey the feeling of fragility and conflict that was a part of every day, every activity, every material possession. I am my father’s son, and this relation alone is enough to ensure I always sit with my back to a wall. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t lived so close to violence can understand.

When I was young, I lived for a time with my father and his family in Montreal. There was an ongoing power struggle between my father, and the other organized crime figures in the area. Several of my father’s friends and family had suffered kidnappings, brutal attacks, and countless acts of property damage, in an attempt to persuade my father to back off. My father has never backed off.

I was placed in the care of my aunt and uncle, and their two daughters. I was given a nice room, a comfortable bed, and more than enough books to read. We had private security, an alarm system, and a police trained german shepard.

I had only been there a week or so when my uncle came in my room to pick a suit jacket from the closet, as he did every morning, and found the cuffs to every jacket had been cut off, neatly folded, and placed in the pocket of the jacket, which was then buttoned closed. There were probably about twenty jackets in the closet, which opened up right next to the nighttable of my bed.

I was flown to Halifax shortly after.

If I reveal myself to you, you will understand.

A dream:

I was on a bus, which is where the trip was going to end. I wasn’t sure how long we had been searching, but it had been the greater half of a year. In the end, we had uncovered an incredible number of religious and spiritual artifacts, both real and forged. Indeed, the Virgin Mary herself had whispered to us in the darkness, and helped lead us to light.

In the end, though, it was the big man himself who came out to play.

He revealed Himself to us on the bus, as we waited for the endgame to bring itself to a close. True to our expectations, he was an old white guy, but not quite what we thought he’d look like. He was shorter than any of us, and was only wearing a thin blue silk robe that was more ratty than it was majestic, and did little to cover his potbelly. In his knotted and thinning hair was a crown made of twigs, so small and thin that I thought it would break if he tried to remove it.

He looked at us all, and spoke: If I reveal myself to you, you will understand.

And with those words, Lord God Himself began to strip on a Greyhound, just outside the city limits.

Thre three of us watched intently, and indeed, once he was revealed, we did understand. Free from his crown and robes, he looked exactly as you would expect a God to look. Shimmering white aura, sounds of birds and laughter, a brilliance so bright you can hardly bear to look — but we looked anyway.

On his chest and stomach in a gothic script was tattooed the following, in french:

Our offices are closed for the next two weeks

All quests completed during this time must be started anew when we return

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Manifestus

I used to think it was that I was getting older. I thought that, with the ‘gift’ of age and experience, came a certain hardening of the skin, a lessening of tolerance for seemingly juvenile actions, and so on.

Today, however, I learned something.

I was sitting in a car that would not start. Inside the house next to the car were two people who I had given a place to stay, free food, furniture, and much more. Both of these people had quite literally moved out under cover of night — from different houses, in different cities — to avoid paying me rent. One of them had snuck out leaving a phone bill of close to two thousand dollars in collect long-distance calls from prison, in addition to spraypainted walls, and many more gifts in kind.

In this car which would not start, outside a house of people who collectively owe me thousands upon thousands of dollars, to return to a home where I do not have heat or hot water; this is where I learned something.

I will never be able to surround myself with people who will do for me what I would do for them.

I used to believe differently, that the people I had chosen to spend my time with had the same views on friendship and community that I do. That they, too, believed in social responsibility, trust, respect.

They don’t.

Or rather, if they do believe in these things, these beliefs are not nearly important enough for them to be able to act in line with them. The two possibilities are functionally identical, and I’m not going to bother drawing a distinction between them.

After our heat was shut off here a few weeks ago, I had a very good conversation with my very good friend Charles. The conversation can be summed up very simply:

“How can I make significantly more money and accrue significantly less expenses than I am making and accruing now?”

During the course of this conversation, we realized that we had been having conversations on this topic, off and on, for about seven years; it seems plain to me that if you’re continuing to have financial issues of this caliber after seven years and several significant increases in workload and pay, chances are that the problem has to do with you.

With this in mind, I have taken a lot of time lately to think about my financial situation over the years, and why I keep ending up where I am. In this time, I’ve been increasingly distant to my friends and family — for this, I apologize, but it needed to be done — but after spending a lot of time examining things, I discovered something very alarming.

Without exception, every single time that I have had significant income and reduced financially to the point where I literally cannot afford a cup of coffee, I have been fucked over by someone. From the first time in 1998 to the last two years of nearly constant abuse and non-payment from the people we’ve been renting the upstairs to (The greater part of $10K).

I can count the number of people I have lived with on one hand who have always paid their share in full on time, or made alternative arrangements before money was due.

I wish this were an entry regarding rent and roommates. Then, the solution would be simple: get out of the landlord business. And I have. But the landlord business isn’t what this post is about, and it isn’t what the problems I’m having are about.

The landlord business is a not a problem, it is a symptom. The treatment I have received by the people I have been living with is symptomatic of the treatment I have received by the people in my life.

With very nearly no exceptions, every single person that I have spent a lot of my life with has betrayed my trust, or crossed a mutually-understood boundary of responsibility and/or respect. The only names I have been able to come up with are Leslie, Venk, Suzanne, Charles, and Tony Christofaro. Five people, two of which I have not spent significant time with in a while. If we’ve spent a lot of time together, and your name isn’t on the list, it’s not by omission.

These aren’t small things I’m overreacting to, either. These are things like hanging out with someone who has beaten the shit out of my girlfriend, or neglecting to mention to me that the person I live with is going to skip out on rent and leave me holding a lease.

I’m going somewhere with all of this.

Given that there is a strong pool of evidence to suggest that many of my financial woes would be cured by not trusting anyone with or allowing anyone access to my living space, and given that even my closest friends and family have done and continue to do things that I have a great deal of difficulty reconciling with a working relationship, the logical conclusion is that I should live (mostly) alone, and not involve myself in friendly relations. (There is a second option — lowering my standards — but I have tried this, ending only in resentment and misery.)

I am very seriously considering doing just this. Living (mostly) alone, and not spending time with anyone at all. Just writing, designing, working, playing games, spending time with the woman I’m going to marry. It sounds like a very nice life. Especially the having-hot-water-to-take-a-shower-with part.

I recognize that we’re all human, and we all have faults. I, having more than most, understand this. I know that a lot of people try their best to be a good friend/roommate/whatever, and that any failings they may have are being addressed in some personal discipline of self-improvement or whatever. I, too, try to be a better person each day than I was the last – but I do not have the emotional (or financial) fortitude to spend any more of my time being fucked by people who’re trying and failing to get their shit together.

I will not live for friends, family, or community that does not return – at the very least – their mutually agreed obligations. This is no hyperbole; when I take home $3500 in a month and spend $3200 on other people’s rent and bills, I am literally living for other people, and with that said, I don’t consider social and personal obligations any less important or binding than financial ones. The inverse is true, if anything.

So if we don’t talk again anytime soon, or I turn down that coffee date, you know why. It’s nothing personal, but it’s time for me to stop pretending that the people around me are something that they’re not.

The Hood: 1991-1997

The Hood: 1991-1997

The Hood: 1991-1997


The Hood: 1991-1997

This is it: Craig Henry. Anyone who knew me when I was a teenager knew this place.

If you click-through to the Flickr page, you’ll see my annotations and notes. It’s incredible how strongly I feel about this place. Writing even the few works on the Flickr entry has really left me shaken and sad.

I drove by here in a Taxi last week, to visit my mother. I hadn’t been out there in years, and when I saw all the new massive big-box stores and the suburban house developments, it literally made me ill.

I can’t write anything more about it.