May 31, 2007

Driver Safety Spot

A driver and passenger in a souped-up candy red sports car see a little girl crossing at the intersection ahead. The driver guns the accelerator.

Driver: Let's throw a little scare into her eh?
Passenger: Are you crazy?
Driver: What do you think, I don't know how to drive? Stop this baby on a dime. Anyway she'll scamper.

From their perspective (only the upper half of her body visible) she looks up.
Close up of her face from the eyes up. She seems frozen like a deer in the headlights.
Foot shifts from accelerator to brake.

Passenger: Brake already brake!
Driver I'm trying I'm trying! what a dumb kid.

The car wheels shriek. The car slows but obviously won't stop in time. Seen from Driver/Passenger pov, the car begins to raise up on its grille.
The girl is holding the car up at an angle.
Now she has it hoisted in the air above her and begins to spin it.
Street level pov. Oohs and aahs from passersby.

Cab Driver: That girl belongs in the Olympics!

View from ten storeys overhead. The car seems to be spinning of its own volition until she gently sets it down.
Couple standing on tenth floor balcony.

Woman: What do you suppose they're feeding that child?

The girl triumphantly brushes her hands together.
"Dizzy" icons float above the heads of

Passenger: That was intense!
Driver: All things considered, that could have turned out much worse.
Passenger: Not such a dumb kid I'd say. I'm not driving with you again unless I drive.
Driver: Ah come on, everyone's entitled to one mistake. (A tiny hand knocks on his window.) Ok already ok I've learned my lesson.

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

Upcoming this Season

RollerBlading With People You've Vaguely Heard Of
America's Next Top Ignition Specialist
Celebrity Afterbirths
Survivor: East St Louis
America's Funniest Home Grow-Ops
Law and Order: Endless Pleas
What You Want (the Reality Series in Which People Get What They Need)
Who Do You Think You Are? America's Funniest Amnesiacs
Slander and Innuendo ("Who cares about all the news that's fit to air?" say this show's award-winning producers. "It's all the other stuff viewers want to see. Rank. Putrid. We know which side of our bread the sewage is on!")
Ballroom Dancing with Death Row Killers
America's Next Top Billionaire
Euthanasia for Profit ("Who do YOU know that's worth more dead than alive?")
What Are The Odds? (You'd Be Surprised)

C 2005 Martin Heavisides

May 30, 2007

Due Process

Pretty fair piece by George Jonas on the sliding standards of due process in our courts (May 29 '07, National Post, Toronto, that ought to be enough information to google it successfully from any neighbourhood in the global village). But I have to say it baffles me why the only case in North American jurisprudence that seems to exercise Nat Post writers, these days, is the trial of the paper's former owner Conrad Black. I have to admit, having examined the evidence as it's presented in all our dailies, I'm unable, in spite of my considerable dislike for Conrad Black based on everything I know about him--much of which he confirmed and emphasized by giving press conferences to proclaim the innocence he is not ready to attest to in court under oath--I can't see, unless the newspapers are leaving a good deal out, where the prosecution has presented a case worth bringing before a grand jury hearing, much less to criminal trial.

But people--a class of law students takes up the examination of death row cases as a semester's assignment, and finds so many irregularities in five of them that the courts are obliged to submit them to appeal. Given the desultory nature of the project and the inexperience of the legal team, who's willing to bet this isn't the mere tip of the iceberg?

Guantanamo Bay is an insititutionalized violation of both the U.S. constitution and the Geneva accords. A senior state department official has explained why the U.S. is within its rights to hold a Gitmo suspect in prison indefinitely if his current trial leads to an acquittal. Rendition of prisoners to jurisdictions 'round the world which don't respect even the abusive norms of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib is more sinister still.

I think I recall as many as five columns in the Post around the time Black was first facing indictment, complaining due process was violated in the filing of charges. Some of the evidence they gave impressed me, but these were written a week to either side of a column by Barbara Kay extolling the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein as a triumph of natural justice. Not one of her colleagues on the Post--or in any other Toronto newspaper for that matter--pointed out that a trial in which three (count 'em!) three attorneys for the defense are murdered in cold blood pour encourager les autres is a triumph of natural justice in a pig's nether eye.

It's not on Saddam Hussein's account that it's monstrous to hold up his trial as exemplary. It's on account of the many people being run through the courts in Iraq (20 minute trials on average, from entry to the docket 'til sentencing) whose defense attorneys are in no danger of assassination because they have none, who have nothing like Hussein's visibility and who can be presumed guilty en bloc if you account the court that judged Saddam a triumph of natural justice. And this pertains to the sliding standards of due process in America why? Partly because the occupation ringingly endorses these courts, but mainly because American military personnel frequently appear in them at the prosecutor's table (well, there is only a prosecutor's table) as friends of the court. In vanishingly rare cases they may argue for clemency, but they're not there usually even to propose harsh prison terms. Generally it's execution they're after. If I believed in the death penalty, I'd still want a bit more than 20 minutes allotted for debate on the merits in individual cases.

So why all these column inches about a boutique case of possible injustice? If Conrad Black is convicted he's not going to serve time at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo. He's certainly not going to face a date with the electric chair. He's unlikely to be denied golfing or tennis privileges. Couldn't we widen the net of our concerns just a little--hmm?--when it comes to who in this world is entitled to due process of law?

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 27, 2007


All Toronto's dailies have weighed in with reviews of Pirates of the Carribbean 3, the most favourable by a distance giving it 2 stars out of 4.* I don't think a single reviewer managed to avoid mentioning, and lamenting, the fact that any new POTC is a reviewer-proof box office juggernaut for which a mere half a billion gross would be considered underperforming. (Just as they did last week with Shrek 3.) I expect the reviews break the same way in other metropolitan markets, but I won't be the one to find out for sure. That would be supererogatory, and I'm not even being paid for this.

Here's a thought--would these laments ring a little less hollow if they weren't invariably embedded in lardy thousand word reviews on full page spreads in which pride of place is given to a studio-approved still from said critic-proof juggernaut? Flanked on the opposing page by interviews with cast, crew, catering chef, whatever? The Toronto Star actually led its movie column this week with a front page spread interviewing Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp, each at twice the word length of its overwritten review. ("It stank," the shortest review on record as far as I'm aware, has never been copyrighted folks. If that seems too lacking in analytical rigour, add a short to medium length sentence explaining exactly why it stank.)

I know, reviewers aren't responsible for the hype machine of newspaper entertainment editors in collaboration with studio publicity departments--but would it kill you to insist that the length of a review have something to do with the value, as opposed to the shooting budget and anticipated gross, of a movie? (Not long ago a local reviewer called Kill Bill "a triumph of empty formalism"--to explain why it placed fifth on his best movies of the year list. I can remember when "a triumph of empty formalism" wasn't considered even faint praise.)

Away from Her got pretty good press locally, which isn't surprising. Sarah Polley's one of our own. It's been well received wherever it's been shown so far as I can determine, but it's hardly been publicized on anything like the same scale elsewhere--even in Toronto the Star didn't give it a front page spread with facing full lengths of Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent as lead-ins to extensive interviews with both.

Independent films as good as Away from Her are rare, and films that end up in dismissive little box reviews (no accompanying pictures) are very often small ones that try something interesting and fail--in the mind of the reviewer. (The Underneath got those sorts of reviews, and I thought it was a much finer noir than Soderbergh's next, Out of Sight.) I'm sorry people, those dismissive boxes should be reserved principally or exclusively for films that don't fail in their ambitions because they haven't any--or none except to be the fastest to gross $200 million in cinema history.

* Double checking I see I was mistaken. 3 stars from the National Post, accompanying a review so lukewarm you'd naturally think this was a misprint for 2 or even 1 1/2. But how could that be possible?

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 24, 2007

Punk Rock Politico Trashes Idol and PopCult

Popular culture--and American Idol is nothing if not popular--is like that: it s a commodity: base, venal and without a soul. Carefully
contrived by Hollywood (or some related industry) to be hawked to the largest number of consumers, popular culture is all about maximizing
profits, not expanding refinement. It does not aspire to be art.
--Warren Kinsella, Nat Post, May 24 '07

It's good to see Warren Kinsella's keeping his knees in fine jerking trim. Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday and Bessie Smith, John Ford and John Huston, the Goons and the Pythons, Fellini and Truffaut are all examples of pop culture, about none of whom it can coherently be said that they are base, venal or without a soul. It could be said of one or two of them that they didn't aspire to art, but of none that they didn't achieve it.

American Idol, sure, crappy show. But the nadir of human cultural history? If you're going to claim that, Warren, don't go referencing the Roman Coliseum. ("Why does American Idol attract so many, sometimes against their better judgment? Because, one suspects, the program permits its audience (as did, say, the Roman Coliseum) to be maudlin and cruel simultaneously.") That was pop culture with a vengeance, and until 5,000 American Idol contestants are divided into rival armies and ordered to fight to the death for the delectation to the masses, American Idol is still well above the nadir. Well below the ordinary human average, in sensitivity and intelligence, I'll give you that.

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 23, 2007

If You Knew Sushi

Like I know Sushi
O!O!O! what a dish.
The rice is packed in
The seaweed's binding
In the middle it's raw fish!
If you knew Sushi
Like I know Sushi
O!O! what a dish.

Vidious Comparisons

James Dubro has a letter in Toronto's Globe and Mail objecting to a 'stunt' in Michael Moore's new film Sicko (which I haven't seen yet). He complains that it's disingenuous of Michael Moore to airlift rescue workers not covered by health insurance in the U.S. to Cuba for treatment, because "While it's true that Cubans, like Canadians, get free health care, they also get a go-directly-to-jail card for saying or printing anything critical of the Castro government." (On its last pins from all we hear.)

Jim's right, in fact you could go a good deal further than that. Cuba, like the U.S., has the death penalty, and applies it far more promiscuously. Cuba jails outed homosexuals. Which are points I would have emphasized if I'd been making the film. What kind of traction can you get with the irony that the health care system of another democracy like Canada is superior to that of the U.S.? I would have emphasized, since it sharpens the point considerably: the last-but-one (the other being China) Stalinist regime on earth is still a a safer place to fall violently ill, even in a patriotic cause, than the U.S. If Moore missed the opportunity of nailing the U.S. and Cuba in a two-for-one, he should certainly have his satirist's card revoked.

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 21, 2007

The Body Civic

{I doubt this film exhibit is still up, as this piece goes back a while. One of the reasons I started a blog is so that topical pieces of this kind would have at least one immediate home in the world of actually receivable texts}

The art film 'Sleepwalking,' currently being projected on the skin of MOMA in New York, sounds interesting (Tilda Swinton's in it, that'st enough to get me watching all by itself), but I don't know about the shooting script. This is how it begins (as quoted in Simon Houpt's Globe and Mail column):

"This is a city that resembles a human body in every way, from the sidewalks, Internet cable and subway tunnels that are its veins, to the people and vehicles, fuelled by gasoline, coffee and alcohol, that surge through these veins like blood. The city's heart pulses to the rhythm of the street noise and flashing traffic lights, but it's the mind that drives everything. The city's visceral human nature--its passion, violence and lust--is obsessed with time, as the city, like the body, constantly replenishes itself. The city lives nowhere more strongly than the present."
Perhaps somebody who's seen the film can tell me how that passage (and others like it--I fear there must be more) is rendered onscreen. Sounds about as filmable as a passage from the phone book.

Apparently that's also as far as the scriptwriter carries the 'city/body' analogy, but there's lots more parts to a body than that, and inquiring minds want to know:

What part of the city resembles the lymph nodes?
the clavicle?
lungs in perfect balance beside each other, inside their cage of bone?
eyebrows? earlobes?
humerus or funny bone?
toes? toenails? opposable thumb?
white and red corpuscles in the blood?

A city has lights and so has the body, but they certainly don't resemble each other. Eyes don't resemble a city's lights, since at best lights aid the function of the human eye: they see nothing independently. No more do the omnipresent cameras, in any case they more resemble a fly's multiple eyes than a human's one pair to a customer. (Do they call the parallax view that, because it's the inevitable effect of having a pair of eyes? If so they should use their spell-check. And how is it that with so many eyes a fly, easily half the time, doesn't see the swatter coming?)
A human whose bowels were no more efficient than an average city sewage system would be in serious trouble: hookups to monitors of beeping and humming machines. Then again, many if not most of our cities are in serious trouble, due to backup of sewage among a wide array of other problems. So perhaps this resemblance holds.

Pubic hair, body hair, facial hair? Ferns and shrubs seem an imperfect analogy, and if grass is a city's body hair, there can't be many cities that resemble Robin Williams.
If city grass is body hair, the closest analogy to a parking lot would be a shaved leg. Now I don't know of a single city anywhere in the world that concentrates all its parking lots in two long strips on the south end. Unsurprisingly--it would be utterly impractical. More than that, I don't know any city that has parking lots on every side of two heavy thickets of bush, hedgerow and forest that protectively encircle the city's main pulsing generators. So the analogy is flawed here as well.

Traffic lights are a city's nerve synapses? not really because 1.) the instructions given by nerve synapses are considerably more varied and complex; 2.) the nerves pay attention to signals from the synapses.

Neon is probably not the city equivalent of semen--but you tell me what is. Billboard and subway advertising? Window displays? Metron and pixelboard explosions, shimmerings and reconfigurations? Possibly it's ubiquitous, seeping through every porous hole in asphalt, cement and plain back alley dirt--civilization (which at root means city living) is regularly cited by historians and anthropologists as a seminal human development. If semen's ever been known to leak out every pore of the human body, it certainly hasn't when I've been observing. Gah! I hope it never does.

"The hand of God in the heart of the city"; is that a grotesque image or what? It shows what happens when you mix your metaphors too freely. It only gets worse when you insist two things are identical "in every way." because you've thought up a couple slight points of resemblance.

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 19, 2007

T.O Movie Adaptations

"Forget it Jake, it's . . . Cabbagetown."

Little Big City
"Am I still in Toronto?"
"Yes, Grandfather."
"Aiieee! I was afraid of that."

The Stunt Man
"I had a virgin once. Had to go all the way to Toronto to find her."

The Ruling Class
"But how do you know you're. . . in Toronto?"
"Simple. When I say something to somebody, I find I'm talking to myself."

All That Jazz
"I hate Toronto."
"No you don't, you love Toronto."
"That's right I love Toronto. (Pause.) I'll go either way!"

"And in the elegant melancholy of twilight he'll tell you he loves Toronto and you'll tell him you've always loved Toronto."

Treasure of the Sierra Madre
"We don't need no stinking badges! We're with the Toronto Police Union."

Life of Brian
"But how shall we piss off, master?"
"I don't know . . . go to Toronto?"

"Why did you come to Toronto, Rick?"
"I'm an amateur student of architecture. I was told there were exciting new additions to OCAD, the AGO and the ROM."
"But there are no exciting additions to OCAD, the AGO and the ROM."

Sullivan's Travels
"They don't know anything in Toronto."
"They know what they like."
"If they knew what they like, they wouldn't live in Toronto."

Pulp Fiction
"You know what they call a quarter pounder in France? A Royale."
"Why's that?"
"Metric system."
"Why don't we call it a Royal or some shit like that in Toronto? We got the metric system."
"Sure we do, and we got the most big-ass military power in the world on our border for three thousand miles and change. Of course we call it the Quarter Pounder. Where do all the movies come from that we watch?"

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

Pop Quiz

[As featured on The Evitable, a far-from-famous blogspot]

1. Is there any truth to the rumour you're the ghost of Paul McCartney?
a. yes
b. no
c. excuse me?
d. we've been having a lot of weather lately

2. How many roads must a man walk down
a. before his shoes wear out
b. before 6 a.m. on a Tuesday
c. before the world comes to an end by a process of natural erosion
d. before it occurs to the moron to ask for fucking directions already

3. Paris Hilton was given time off for
a. good behaviour
b. majorly doing the presiding judge
c. ewww! he had hair growing out of both nostrils and ears
d. frequent flier miles

4. Five hours stalled in an elevator
a. turn off the muzak!!!
b. excuse me Ms Aguilera/Mr Law, why are you stripping?
c. don't you know there's serious air conditioning in this pneumatic shaft?
d. yes, I suppose a pair of black briefs would effectively blind the security camera
e. could you pipe in Lous Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World' please?
f. yes I'd say the temperature's been adequately raised

Bonus question
a. elephants never forget
b. goldfish have an effective memory of five seconds
c. what do you get when you mate an elephant and a goldfish, apart from seriously damp?

{Feel free to come up with your own answers to any of these, so long as you letter them sequentially. Rules were not made to be discarded, let alone cast to the winds by however indifferent or disaffected a populace}

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

What Would You Like?

[This has been posted previously on the Flash Fiction site Flash Forward]

Arsenic? cyanide? please! those are so late Renaissance, we've made advances in poisons since that are not to be believed (and needless to say---since you come recommended---not to be spoken of outside the trade). Fast acting, slow acting, we like to leave that up to the client. The key feature we pride ourselves on is undetectability. (We're helped somewhat by the general indiscriminate mixing of toxins into our food, water and air. I remember a film years ago where police tracked a murder victim's movements in the 48 hours before her death by area-specific pollutants in her body. They'd have a harder time doing that now, what with generalization and overlap of toxic fields.Still forensic science is a wonderful thing. Keeps us on our toes, staying that extra little step or two ahead.)

None of my business whether it's business or personal, but those two categories embrace most of our clientele. People think the chief means of advancement in the corporate jungle are backbiting, infighting, verbal undercutting and snide insinuation. All have their place as does, if you're discreet about it, a small dose in a main rival's coffee or third martini at lunch. Tell us what you're putting it in--we can often match flavours between poison and comestible.

My own marriage is happy, three lovely children, discreet mis-tress for when the wife's too tired, but not everyone's so fortunateand I think you'll agree with me, the divorce rate's a scandal and a shame.

Something more . . . general? ahh! I receive your drift, wel lif you're going that way I'd recommend chemical nerve agents and such, we do keep biological agents but don't recommend their use unless you have a well-grounded strategy for containment. Well . . . if you insist, we do have this brochure outlining our selection in viruses and bacilli. The black plague? really sir, if you don't mind my saying,that's so 1348. This is the 21st century.

C 2005 Martin Heavisides

Isabella Valancy Crawford Park

There it is in all its virtual nonexistence, just behind Front St., between the CN Tower and Skydome. A grassy slope six feet wide--her nameplate is nearly half that width itself--bisected by a zigzag staircase of cement.

This was a lady with a passionate love for the wide open spaces of our vast land--a poem of her's describes a canoe trip through the deep wild as implicitly orgasmic. Would she have felt signally honoured by this? a park half the size of the grassy slope growing down from a highway overpass? I have my doubts.

I live near High Park--that could use a name more befitting. I know, if the name is changed it'll be to Rogers, Labatt, Seagram Park or some such--maybe even Conrad Black Acres, to show properly that all is forgiven. But seriously, do any of these resonate as woud Isabella Valancy Park. They could simply swap the two names around. Maybe we should try and get up a referendum.

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 18, 2007

la vie en route

unfortunately the eggs were overcooked
life goes on

delivery to a financial consultant named groskopf
this is just a guess, but back in the mists
of teutonic time when this surname first arose
it probably was not intended to flatter
should be a giggle to page in though
but no, it's signed by her assistant, bago

the sky isn't falling just yet, but the financial district
towers are> investigators are trying to determine
why a fifty foot slab of marble fell
onto king street from first canadian place
fifty feet of marble! that could do some damage
cordons>yellow tape> just like this winter
fourteen police cruisers> thought it was excessive
'til i read we were talking tons of ice
cracking and loosening around the concrete foreskin
of cn tower> that could seriously mess up
an automobile, let alone a pedestrian
and think of the waste
never get all that ice into cocktail glasses before it melted

overnight from metcalfe street in ottawa
to an office at yonge and eg
you want to know how closely some of these businesses
stay in touch? i ask at another office on the 2nd floor
i'm told the company i'm delivering to has moved
to ottawa >two doors down on metcalfe street?
i would not be surprised
out of my territory anyway
a metropass won't get you to
our nation's capital
"a metropass won't get me to your heart"
c/w song lyrics buried there somewhere

to the best of my knowledge
nobody has yet successfully rappeled down the cn tower
i won't be the first

sometimes i deliver an urgent to a mail drop
one hour's the eta on those
how often you suppose people come in for their mail there
once every 2, 3 days?

not my responsibility
store bought preroasted chicken for dinner
life goes on

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 17, 2007

Art Biz

Art Biz

A Rothko just sold at Sotheby's in New York for $72.8 million. Generally abstract expressionism leaves me cold, but a few artists, like Rothko, Kandinsky, Malevich move me deeply. Sure, even Jackson Pollock in the right mood, though it's disconcerting to see colour photographs of his studio floor, covered with drippings from his canvasses, and realize that if you could take it up as it is and mount it on a wall, you'd have another Jackson Pollock masterpiece.

At a low point in his fortunes, and I don't think they ever rose much in his lifetime, Rothko was saying to friends and fellow artists that he'd sell his output from then 'til the day he died for an annual income of $5,000. The sad thing is if anyone had taken him up on his offer it would have been an act of charity, not an investment. It's a damn nuisance, this time-moving-relentlessly-forward business; if we could reverse the flow and take back even a five percent royalty from this sale--in 1952 dollars--you have to think it would make some kind of difference.

It's been speculated that Van Gogh might not have committed suicide if he hadn't been evicted by his landlord in Arles, who'd been prepared to accept paintings for rent, but changed his mind under pressure from neighbours who didn't like this Vincent one bit. I'd say it's likely that man lived long enough to want to kick himself--look at the escalating value of all those colouristic rent checks he'd so foolishly let slip through his fingers. As for his descendants, they must be thinking great-grandpapa was completely out of his tree. The question is: what would any of them make now of a living Van Gogh or Rothko?

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

May 16, 2007

Memo to Shinan Govani

"Political press conferences so often take on the chimera of a closely followed Hollywood script."
National Post, May 1 'o7

Could you look up the meaning of words like 'chimera' before you use them please? Do you mean the air, the atmosphere, the structural logic or pattern of a Hollywood script? Chimera means none of these things.

"[I] found myself face-to-face with the adorable and able America Ferrera--neither four-eyed or brace-faced in real life I stop to add"
Nat Post, May 16 '07

Apart from the fingernails-across-a-blackboard cadence of brace-faced, Shinan, try to remember this simple rule: either/or, neither/nor. You see the subtle difference?

"It was the night Ugly Betty officially turned into a swan and cleaned up at the awards, as did the little Purple one (winning the prize for Best Song), and to hear Mabius talk about Prince now means seeing his face light up like it's Christmas morning."
Nat Post, May 16 '07

Do they pay you a bonus for awkward and ugly sentence structure? It must be a whoppper


"My basic point was that restaurant diners shouldn't go hard on parents whose kids emit the odd yelp at dinner time. I know--not exactly Pulitzer material. But I can't solve the Middle East conflict every week."--Jonathon Kay, National Post, May 15 '07

Yo, Jonathon! what week was it you solved the Middle East conflict again? Last I checked that was still going on pretty fearsome. Or is this a column you're planning to write in the future? C'mon already, give, give! When it comes to resolving perennial and intractable conflicts, with justice and dubiety on both, or all, sides--there's no time like the present.

May 15, 2007

Homeless Project

[An edited version of this appeared in AdBusters]
Homeless Project

Some years ago I was passing the display window of a trendy Queen West art gallery--the kind that would show everything from text-heavy conceptual art to installation pieces that, in any but a gallery context, would have been referred to, with neither irony nor glimmers of authentic apperception, as a kitchen, a living room, an upstairs bedroom or a public school classroom. (This is not entirely a new idea: in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam there's a good-sized exhibit room devoted to l6th and l7th century dollhouses for grown-ups: detailed and precise miniaturizations, in cutaway views like on a Hollywood set,with tiny people fixed in their appointed places, in lush family rooms or dismal servants' quarters. Beautifully crafted these unquestionably were, the miniaturization so detailed and precise that a doll's house of this kind could cost more than a middle class dwelling for full-size people.)

The window featured what I thought was a new display, or part of one: a white-bearded man in scruffy clothes was perfectly posed in the centre of the window, sleeping. Now here for a change was an arresting and exciting--as opposed to comfortable and nostalgic--conceptual piece: the only question in my mind was whether this was an actor or an actual homeless person. I hoped the latter, since the money he'd be paid as fee would help him out for a while at least, and the shelter must be welcome now that we were getting consistent readings below zero, and snowfalls that nothing but the return of spring wouldclear. I was on my way somewhere but I thought I'd come back later and inquire about this.

I was giving the curators too much credit for inventiveness--two hours later when I returned, the display window was empty: the white-bearded gentleman had been asked to move on.
I've often mulled over the implications of this show that never was. Wouldn't it be an interesting blend of art and social conscience--which are not infrequently at odds with each other? Can you think, offhand, of a more imaginative way of thinking globally, acting locally?Why don't we start a worldwide movement to press city, regional and national art councils to fund a project of this kind in every city,Amsterdam and New Amsterdam (now New York), Singapore to Shanghai, London, Paris, Bangkok, New Delhi, Beirut, Jerusalem, Montreal, Toronto,Angkor Wat, Oslo and Copenhagen--a monthlong exhibition--maybe two months if funding allows--of from a dozen to thirty of that city's own homeless.
Sleeping in doorways as window display by no means exhausts the creative possibilities. Most working days, while the gallery was open,they'd be walking/talking art, circulating among the patrons, telling of their childhood, bright hopes for the future, current situation and prospects. It would be every kind of art at once; visual, text-based,theatrical, experimental, improv in the "happening" sense. City by city,with a few good camera operators, the video you could generate would be astounding. It might even lead to a reality tv deal--one which, for a very large change, would produce a show in some way connected with reality.
It might, who knows? prove as controversial as "Piss Christ"did in its day. Beyond a shadow of a doubt though, what I'd like to call the "Universal Homeless Project" would have far wider implications in its social critique. And what legitimate objection could be made?The only one I can think of is that, while providing gainful employ to a few of them, for a month or two, it might in some way degrade the homeless--as if that hadn't been decisively and sufficiently accomplished already. I can't conceive how they could be valued less, as objets d'art,than they are presently as refuse--mere discarded husks of irreplaceable human beings.

As to whether it would go some small way to changing things, I don't know--something better. The only other alternative I can think of is to shrink the homeless--literally. Years ago you'd see makeshift dwellings made out of computer boxes in the financial districts, installed over sewer grates to catch the warmth of the steam. Not exactly Habitat for Humanity standard, but they provided a certain rude shelter against the worst of the elements. (You could pull two together at the joins et voila! a roof over your head for the night.) Now that laptops are the personal computer of choice, such dwellings are going the way of the dinosaur. Can the homeless meet this challenge by shrinking to the size of person that could live in a laptop box? Who knows--maybe the cuteness factor would kick in, and they could finally acquire some human dignity, if they could only manage to make themselves living dolls. Gulliver won Glumdalclitch's permanent affection that way.

C 2005 Martin Heavisides

May 14, 2007

I don't aspire to a novel-length sentence such as Marie-Claire Blais wrote once (broken into chapters which is really audacious--I'm guessing she did it on a bet), but I love a long sentence of the kind Swift used to send serpentine across the page, each phrase a little surprise (yet linked precisely to what went before), breath control meticulous and compelling, not a sentence to lose but to find yourself in, each clause a foray deeper into this dangerous world, mind made syllables, at every moment in every direction alert.

[This has been published previously in as a one sentence story.]

The Evitable

As near as I can remember it, Fred (Winifred)'s reply to a general consensus among the Angel team that one of their standard apocalyptic outcomes is prophesied in all the books and thus inevitable:

"The inevitable is overrated. Whenever we meet up with the inevitable, we should look it straight in the eye, point at it and say 'You're evitable.' "

Hence the name of this blog. Might see if I can recover the correct original script at some point.