Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It was recently mentioned to me by a good friend of mine that "All writing is opinion."

I don't fully agree with this, but then that's just my opinion.

We all know what opinions are like. So then everyone has one, and everyone is entitled to one. Which reminds me of the case against vanity publishing, wherein people will freely publish what they want and there won't be any filter of quality. Who's to say that my opinion is better than yours, however researched and polished it may be? It's yours, because the events in your life have moulded it to be so. A person's opinions could be said to play an integral part in who they are, and why should someone's identity (and stability as a result) be compromised to adopt an opinion which will force them to re-think and take steps backwards?

These are all questions I have as well.

Literature wholly comprised of opinion is a disturbing thought to me. What about the stories which were meant to function solely as stories without morals or what the author thinks? Is that possible?

If the question is what kind of literature do I value, that which is rebellious and subversive or that which isn't challenging and depicts common everyday aspects of life in clever and poignant ways which I previously haven't thought of...the answer would be both.
Both can be based on opinion and both can allow readers to glean their own meanings from the texts. But would they be better without?

Throughout this post I've gotten very tired of discussing something which has no answer and only leads to more dead-end questions. Which I suppose is the apotheosis of bad writing. So it would be best to stop now...

...on style and practicality.

...and instead point out various elements of society which, in my opinion, shouldn't exist. Is this necessary? Does memorable literature tie into a blog post about bad trends? Most likely not. Should I overthink it? I feel like writing about it, so I may as well get it out of my system. I'm human, and this is the age I was born into, and in media-saturated times it's important to have a critical edge.
But still - for me, people can do and wear what they want. If they're judged by someone else, does it matter? No. Do what you want, live for yourself. Is true wisdom found in the strict classification of people who do certain things - how their entire future and entire output in life can be determined solely by certain little things they do or what they wear?

Some would say so. Some would also say that wisdom entails knowing all the characteristics of a certain ethnicity, knowing exactly how and why a person will act as a result.

But nevertheless there are still things that irritate me. To wit:

I saw someone wearing these on the subway some time ago. I along with other passengers were just staring. Because these shoes look absolutely ridiculous. There seems to be a push in today's world (or at least in North America) to be "futurized". I've previously discussed how authors (journalists) make attempts to create new words that sound stupid in order to "progress". Ugly shoes like this are the same thing.

Don't drink bottled water. Please don't. Buy a water filter and a water bottle and fill it up.
The sad part is that I've only just done this recently in terms of using a water bottle when I go out to exercise or skate. I rarely buy bottled water but when I do I feel like I've degraded the world just a little bit more. Which of course I have because bottled water is detrimental to the globe as a whole.

Not only Christmas music...
...but all music played in department stores and grocery stores.
I don't have social anxiety disorder. I'm comfortable in public. But I have to take my MP3 player with me when I go into these places because it's very uncomfortable to have to listen to the story of a lover's broken heart told through trite guitar riffs and high-pitched warbling singing as I'm looking for a mop and bucket. There's something wrong with that to me.
The emotion that these songs attempt to convey do not translate into a run-of-the-mill shopping experience at all. Not that the music I listen to is about run-of-the-mill shopping experiences whenever I enter Zellers. But I don't think people who enjoy the music or find something in it as they shop are wrong for doing so, I just find it personally uncomfortable.

I don't see the fixed gear bike (I hear they're fun) or plaid long-sleeved lumberjack shirt on here.
I can't stand being thought of as fitting into the hipster persona. I'm not trying to follow trends anymore, I'm not a teenager. I wear what's classic. I wear old-school Vans and I drink PBR sometimes. I wear hoodies rarely; they're more sporty than trendy though. I wear a painters cap with a Kansas City Royals logo on it and wear V-necked white shirts. Does this all mean I'm a hipster? Or is it separate elements combined with my youth which could make people label me as a hipster? Isn't it sad when people automatically fit you into a corner based on their assumptions and don't want to slightly try and see you as a human being? Or worse, they get to know you and still fit you into a corner despite your three-dimensionality?

The word "your" does not replace "you're". It doesn't matter. Right? Extinction of grammar through technology, it doesn't matter. Is the internet dumbing us down and reducing our attention spans? That's how it feels at times, but we can make the internet what we want it to be. But going with the flow and dumbing yourself (not you'reself, the way people mistake it) down in order to be in tune with the majority should not be the preferred choice. Neither should putting oneself on a pedestal and claiming to be better than most of the world due to not going with the flow, either. I just prefer to have things tighter than looser. Keep it tight, keep it focused.

And that's it for now.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Memories of the homeless asking for change

Back when I was nine, I visited Toronto for the first time with my mother during the summer of 1994 and saw a Native homeless man asking for change on the street. A black man came up to him and said "Of course" and gave him some money and I was struck at how polite and gracious he was. Later on that same trip I rode the subway for the first time and saw two kids sitting opposite myself and my mother, with one of them shaping his fingers into a pistol, pointing them to everyone around him including the two of us, and going "bang bang bang".

When I was eleven and living in Winnipeg I bought a Big Gulp from a Seven-Eleven, but I couldn't drink all that soda. There was a man sitting on the curb outside of the store, and I gave the drink to him. He responded by saying "It's too big, it's too big" and my mother laughed but I was genuninely angry with how he responded - that he wasn't thankful and instead critical of getting something for free. If he was joking, I couldn't tell at the time.

When I was nineteen I drove to a beer vendor and bought a 12-pack case of PBR beer in bottles. The bottled beer didn't taste good to me but there was nowhere else to buy PBR in the city. I didn't know what to do with all the beer I'd bought. I didn't have anyone to drink it with and I couldn't bring it home. Driving through Osborne Village, downtown Winnipeg where I lived, there was someone sitting on the sidewalk asking for change; after I saw him I parked the car behind a building on the street, then brought the entire case of beer and gave it to him. I said something like "It doesn't taste that good" but he was so appreciative of it that he didn't care. I saw him a couple of days later on the street and he smiled and gave me a nod of thanks. I was always charitable, I still am.

A story of a story - back when I was a teenager, two kids I knew told me of a window-washer on the corner who had a sackful of change sitting in a bus stop. He told them that he had to keep running from thugs who would chase him with bats and steal all the change he'd received.

The homeless in Ottawa are rampant and when I was living there it felt like a parallel to Washington D.C.. A couple of years ago I came out of a Giant Tiger close to the city centre and two destitute men asked me for change. I responded by saying I didn't have any money, and they insisted that I did. So I insulted them and walked away while they came up with weak insults to fire back with. A little later on I saw a man become angry with a pedestrian because she wouldn't give him money.

A little while ago I was here in downtown Toronto walking past Union Station with a girl who'd later fight me and try to pull my hair out. We passed a homeless man sitting on the street asking for change and she looked into her purse. I told her that homeless people choose their lifestyle - there's a better way to live but they've made the choice to ask for change and live off of other people. By giving them change we only promote them to no go out and try to make a better quality of life for themselves. But I didn't try to stop her from giving him money, I only said it to give a new perspective.

There've been times where I've wanted to request a dance in exchange for the money, and the homeless man or woman and I would perform a spontaneous, perfectly choreogrpahed dance through downtown. Of course I never have.

"You can always depend on the kindness of strangers". This phrase should never become archaic. But it shouldn't justify panhandling.