Proud to be an aberration

“I consider myself part of an aberration on the planet.  A new, mobile, essentially rootless culture the likes of which the Earth has never seen before.  I live in a culture where community expression through artistic events is not normal; culture comes from “above” –from LosAngeles or New York or, if we are lucky Toronto.  It is very rare that non-artists in Canadian society get together and use art forms to express their own concerns or celebrate their own lives.  And yet that is what theatre, dance, music, etc. used to be –local people singing, painting, dancing, and telling stories. As an artist in this new mobile culture, I have a great hunger for the kind of rootedness that many Aboriginal people have through their cultures.  But I can’t have what they have.  I am who I am and I must take on the task of inventing my own culture–putting down my cultural roots and using artisitic toos to investigate, change and celebrate my community.  I must also face the certainty that this process will take many, many generations to bear fruit.”

–David Diamond,  from Out of the Silence: Headlines Theatre and Power Plays, in Playing Boal Theatre Therapy, Activism.

Dexter’s scary monster

This week I faced one of my greatest fears.

I sat on the couch and stared into the silent eye of an omnipotent monster who, with its unblinking eye of cold steel and glass, stared me down to size, then sucked this newly-diminished me whole into its darkness. I’ll never be the same again.

Coach and editor, Dexter Ico, generously offered to work with me on one of my greatest fears: speaking. And my greatest speaking fear? Public speaking. My greatest public speaking fear? Speaking in front of The Camera. Dexter is an acting coach who uses his professional-grade intuitive skills to nurture actors and to take them to new levels of artistry.

Some crazy part of me thought it would be kind of fun, in dare-devilish sort of way, to explore my fear. Besides, I was so impressed with Dexter’s work that I thought, why not? What could it hurt? I have this new book to promote, and I know that I’ll have to find new ways to present my writing other than just reading sentences in my normal monotone. I thought that Dexter might be able to offer a few tips that would instantly transform me from a dull and fearful speaker into an engaging and thrilling performer. Then I’d sell lots of books and everyone would be proud.

But Dexter didn’t do that.

He just sat me in front of the camera and he asked me what inspired me.

He asked me what was most important to me.

He asked me what I stood for.

He asked me what I believe in.

He asked me to tell a story.


So I talked.


Soon I learned I was right to be afraid. Horrors really do lie waiting within The Camera’s gaze.

The Camera with It’s unforgiving silence, stripped me down to my most bland and unimpressive core and mocked me. Each word that slowly emerged from my mouth sat dull and lifeless with me on the couch. In an effort to look good, I said many empty words, told lifeless stories of dead things, none of which spoke the truth to any one, not even me. I just wanted sound as if I could make sense. So the lies came tumbling out.


If I had told the truth, I would have said that nothing is true.

I would have said that nothing is more important than anything else.

I would have said that I’m not sure what I stand for and that I’m not sure what to believe.

And then I would have made up a story without a punch line that made no sense.


Dexter says the real learning will take place on the second of our sessions. I know it doesn’t make sense for me to look forward to it.

But I am.

Labyrinth at High Park

I was in a foul mood today. I was feeling as if I’d been walking around in circles and not getting anywhere but just making my way deeper and deeper into the darkness.

I decided to visit High Park, here in Toronto, where I could really do my glumness justice. I figured, if I was going to walk around in circles and not get anywhere, I might as well do it in high style. High Park has this great labyrinth painted on an old concrete slab. enjoy this labyrinth often, even when I’m not feeling sad. I often walk the circle treating the experience like an oracle. Today’s question: How do I get unstuck from this bad mood?

As I walked around in the dusk, chin to chest watching my feet, I waited for a sign to inspire me. By the time I finished walking and looked up, I noticed that a dozen or so women had gathered on the outer edges of the old green picnic benches that surround the circle. One of the women passed flowers from a bouquet, another stones from her pocket. The darkness deepened. Bats circled overhead.

It occurred to me that the women may have been celebrating their community, or they might have been grieving the loss of a friend. Maybe they were doing both. In either case, I like think of their appearance as the magical sign I was looking for.  Here was a gathering of women,  joining me in my dusk with the bats, reminding me that community may be the best way–if not the only way–to find ourselves.

Back home with Drexel Dave

I’m back in Dayton, Ohio for now.

Just a taste, from Drexel Dave’s brutally honest blog, of my home town.  I miss Dayton even when I’m here.

Life is slow on Clover Ave. just a block off of Xenia Ave.

Yard animalry is still all the rage in this neighborhood, and
the fool who left that pop top open is begging to get an
old fashioned thievery attempted on them.

This grand dame is on Clover just off of Xenia Ave,
and I forget what the cross street is. The
thieves have taken the street signs, which is a norm in a lot
of the poorer neighborhoods in Dayton.

I’m Sorry (part one)

  1. kensingtonparking2.jpg I’m sorry about the car.
  2. I’m sorry that we Americans don’t apologize often enough when there’s so much for which to be sorry.
  3. I’m sorry for suggesting that all I have to do is say I’m sorry, and that everything will be all right.
  4. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you I was American when we first met even though it was as obvious as the Ohio plates on my SUV that I parked in the middle of the bike lane.
  5. I’m sorry for giggling when you corrected my pronunciation of the capital of Saskatchewan.
  6. I’m sorry for having tried to pass as one of you by describing the proe-cess that I employ in the implementation of my proe-jects when in reality my life is full of incomplete prahjects for which I have yet to prahcess.
  7. I’m sorry that Dick Cheney remains in office.
  8. I’m sorry I’m not back home working to impeach him.
  9. I’m sorry about W, too.
  10. I’m sorry for the litres and litres of petrol I burn every time I come to visit you.
  11. I’m sorry for faking my way through the metric system.
  12. I’m sorry that I’m so ignorant of your political affairs even though you know more than I do about my own.
  13. I’m sorry for making fun of the dancer in the middle of the the drum circle at Trinity Bellwood  who, lost in her ecstasy, brushed my elbow, then stopped to say “Sorry.”
  14. I’m sorry that we don’t tidy up our side of the Ambassador Bridge.
  15. I’m sorry for confusing you with my audacious belief that I have been endowed by my creator with unalienable rights including my own pursuit of happiness which also includes my intention to escape the United States and become one of you.
  16. I’m sorry for snatching up the last copy of Spacing magazine at the Toronto Free Gallery when neither were intended for visiting American audiences.
  17. No offence, but I’m sorry for the vigor of my monolog over the check at the Harborfront Center Theater while wearing pajamas of unsavory fiber and color and my lack of rigor and labor.
  18. I’m sorry for all the American things I say and do of which I am not aware.
  19. I’m sorry for laughing at the extra moustaches spray-painted on your  environmental scientist and broadcast celebrity’s energy saving light bulb billboard.
  20. I’m sorry, but I don’t think we even have any broadcast celebrities  who are environmental scientists.
  21. I’m sorry that I don’t always understand the depth of your irony even though I pretend that I do.
  22. I’m sorry that I can’t muster the attention span to finish anything written by John Ralston Saul.
  23. I’m sorry that I claim to understand what “the medium is the message” means.
  24. I’m sorry that it took this to make me want to read any Pierre Berton.
  25. Je suis désolée that I never learned to speak French.
  26. I’m sorry what some of us say about all of you.
  27. I’m sorry about the flags.
  28. I’m sorry about the eagles.
  29. I’m sorry about the Eagles.
  30. I’m sorry about Walmart, McDonalds, Home Depot, Microsoft, and Starbucks.
  31. I’m sorry about Facebook.
  32. I’m sorry that we don’t take better care of the United Nations headquarters building.
  33. I’m sorry about Cuba.
  34. I’m sorry about Vietnam.
  35. I’m sorry about Iraq.
  36. I’m sorry that Joni Mitchell didn’t get to make it to Woodstock on time.
  37. I’m sorry that we stole Neil Young, but we really need him to lead us in a few songs  right now.