Posts tagged ‘self portrait’

The Inner Me

“I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”  – Oscar Wilde

Cue this music up before reading further:

And so here we are at the end of another year…  Tomorrow night’s party scene is still up for grabs, we haven’t booked any seats at any shows, so the what have you is mightily up in the air.  New Year’s Eve…  and standing on the doorstep to another whole DIFF decade.  As my dad would say:  after we figured we’d lived through the war we started watching our step a bit more in detail.

Well I’m not in where the bullets are flying and the bombs are going off, but I’m out here alone, my 3 older brothers are dead, my 3 younger ones missing.  I would have liked to have spent at least an hour with them over the holiday season but none of that came to pass.  Instead I’m alone here in my crib.

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Bright eyed and bushy tailed: but a castle aint no home when you’re always in it alone.

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I always wonder where they are: in heaven or in hell.  I’m not a christian like them so I don’t know nothing much about it.  All I know is I joined the resistance when I was age 13 and I’d like to entertain them here at my place, all these years later.

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They always said I’d likely go far, after we were reintroduced, all of us, in our very early 20’s or late teens, I was only 18 at the time and hadn’t seen any of them since 1969, or was it 1971?  All I know is when I saw them again, I knew I didn’t want to be like them.  I’d been away far too long and after sitting with them, I knew I’d likely never be going back.  Little did I know, at that time, they were all trauma survivors with this thing they call in mod times:  PTSD.  They didn’t get the special jungle training that I got and they didn’t have a Major like I had.

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I’ve sat here alone for quite some time, wondering about that shack in the woods, back on the blacker side of the rez, back in the mid to late 60’s.  I know we had a wood stove in there because I remember hauling wood back to the house and I have this vague memory of my mom standing there with an arm load of poplar, cut yes, but not split.  When was my dad planning on doing that?

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In the past decade I’ve been there myself, on my own paradise on the range: hauling wood, poplar too, but doing it the old fashioned way, bringing it out one load at time, using a wheelbarrow, and getting a pretty decent work out along the way.  Of course the road out of the back woods was a 2% decline back to the house, so it was easy rolling out those 12 cords.

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In mod times, like here and now, I wonder, how warm those rooms could have been at night, back in 68: who was up tending the fire?  If memory serves, the upstairs had 2 little bedrooms with old mattresses that were falling apart and coming undone and who knows what kind of hell went on up there…  I was going to ask my older brother about it.  I came up with the idea in a July, a few days later he fell over dead and took the stories with him. He’s been dead now, has it been 5 years?

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When I was in university ages ago, an old Indian man sat us down and he said you boys have nothing to worry about right now, but if you have the good fortune of getting as old as me, down the road in those days you’ll be visited by many an old memory, things you’d left alone up until now, as an old man.  I silently and invisibly scoffed at the idea, I was only 22 at the time.  Pretty soon an Anishnabe Kwe walked in and she gave us the Sweetgrass teaching.  She was working on a braid and explaining things to us and she looked at me and said:  if you reach the age you’ll find yourself going through some strange times and maybe seeing some strange things, either here or over there.  Once again I, to myself, scoffed at the idea and I remember it well:  It won’t happen to me.  That is what I said, back when I was 22, when I was as terrible as an army poised for battle.

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But here we are, like they said, at that time, the empty nest looming like never before.  And all of the brothers now long gone.  I have no idea where the survivors are, how they’re doing, what is going on south of us.  South of me.  There is no “us” anymore.

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Me too, chief.  We’re starting to get there!  I see young whippersnappers all the time and I know I am no longer them!  No middle age either!  Nope.  We’re off to another place, if all goes well, with a wee spot of wisdom or a splash of education, maybe we can get through this.  My dad has been gone a long time but I sure do hear his voice these days, telling me what to watch out for, to watch my step, and above all, what to be thankful for.

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I’m not much of a Christmas person, like I said, I’m not a christian, and I don’t buy into how they sell it: that long ago story from overseas.  It makes for a great cash grab yes, in these mod times, but I’d rather give them the cash than to some corporate who ever and so that is what we do.  I’ve never been one for standing in a line over there at the mall.

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Xmas eve has come and gone.  Xmas day is here and been.  Boxing Day I was in the car, alone, and coming back to here.  And through those days I never heard from any of them.  The survivors I mean.

We haven’t booked any seats at any shows for tomorrow night but I hear it and see it all around:  2020:  The Roaring Twenties!  I guess they are.  And they surely were!  I don’t plan on wandering around these empty rooms on such a night, so if you don’t hear from me between now and then:  Best wishes and I hope you have a happy new year, and I hope this time, 12 months from now, we’ll be sharing a few more stories!

 

a walk around the block

and so!  a walk indeed!  and in this town…  oh my goodness there are mad capped scenes at darn near every turn and pretty much down every straight away.  the noise is what we can’t share here, online.  you have to come here to these mad streets.  five minutes will do it.  yes we are a long way from the river, the blue and the green.

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unknown artist and paint station, outside the Rideau Centre, November 3rd.  it was clear to me she had talent and if you took her up a notch, switched out the dollarama paint and canvas for some big leagues gear, i’m certain she could show something in one of the many indie galleries in this town.  she wanted 40 bucks for that little picture she was working on.

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invisible man?  around here you never know…   outside the Rideau Centre, November 3rd.

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spooky window display, Somerset West near Spadina, November 6th.

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more weirdness in the same shop window…  Somerset West and Spadina, on the mild night of November 6th.  me singing:  i’m an Anishnabe in the Capital City…  (sung to the tune of Sting’s Englishman in New York)

when you’re out walking and sporting the “artist’s eye”…  goodness gracious, so many “things”.

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what form!  with a silver hand…  shop window in the St. Laurent Mall, November 7th.  those super stretch fabrics, now i wish they had those when i was young!  (ha ha!)

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ah yes…  what form.  put some heels on there and you’d really have something.

if you have 8 minutes, here is a song i wrote and performed back in the summer of 1995, recorded on a 4 track Fostex, one night in a diff city, many moons ago.  before the internet.  back when my rock and roll band:  NR, was planning on being something.  ah but nothing makes the Great Spirit laugh more than a man with plans.

for the youtube video: i went out one night, twenty years after i wrote and recorded the song, in this very city, camera in hand, and shot those pictures:  headless figures (children too!), lifeless eyes, bare heads, flashy clothes, big lights, right next to the dispossessed, the have nots, the sick and the old, and the grey, placed next to a little First Nations “made in China”, thrown in for good measure.  military medals along side a public service message showing a cigarette pack filled with bullets and someone’s scrawl:  Funding natives to buy back their land 1 acre at a time…  yes it was my attempt at Anishnabe movie making/story telling.  (oh yes!  that first and very long 2 minutes of yours truly in his pow wow dancing gear-i plugged that in (just ahead of the Joseph Boyden scam which became an amusing and a down right hilarious news item right around Xmas 2016) as a confirmation that yes indeed, yours truly is an actual indian as defined within the terms and conditions of the indian act, and handled by indian and northern affairs Canada)

so where was i going with all this?  oh yes.  what i mean to say is i’ve walked these streets before.  and some things seem to never change, all we’ve done is switched out the characters and moved in some new ones.

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back to the walk around the block:  the cops on Blake, November 8th, where hookers roam, sometimes pimps, and men alone in all makes and models of cars cruise very slowly up and down the streets.  you don’t need warning signs to tell those boys to slow down on our quiet neighbourhood streets!  all we’re missing with this scene is the background NOISE.  the roar, the sirens, the continuous horn honking…  sheesh!

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unknown young man who has clearly lost his marbles, sitting in the very cold wind outside a Rotten Ron’s, Montreal Road and St. Laurent, November 9th, at noon.  he was out there for an hour, smoking his stuff, listening to whatever he had on those flashy headphones.  it was like…  zero degrees out there.  and they might be his brightest years…

i was inside looking out, wondering if it was safe to show a photo like this:

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that’s me and what’s his name, on the movie set, back in June, in Scotland.  we signed a non disclosure thing about not posting but here we are after the release date of the picture so i hope its safe to post this!

they had me so uglied up over there i was sure i could never come home.  the look was totally Hollywood Indian.  the only way i got the gig was, well, beyond that i was clearly indian, was that face of horror:  they asked me to scowl and snarl into the camera at the casting (my interview was all of 15 seconds at the Native Friendship Centre in Toronto) and boom!  they called me up and so i went.  now that was a serious walk around the block!

that chrome dome of mine, it hadn’t seen the light of day in over 45 years!  over there though, those charming hair and make up girls shaved me a fresh one every morning around nine.  i walked out of there thinking the boys are going to have a field day with this when i get back to the club!

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that’s the photo i snapped with Joe’s camera, that he smuggled onto the set one day.  that’s the two stars of the show, chilling between takes.  not sure who that other young snot nosed punk is but he was main frame with the other two.

and so if you were reading my blog back in late May and June of this year, this is what i was going on about: making movies in Scotland.  a grand adventure, something i’d do again, but next time…  i think i’ll take a pass on shaving the dome.  yes, it is growing back, but we’re a long way from the look of confidence, when sporting the Dark City Boy outfit, which thank goodness, is back in rotation, out here on these mad city streets.  i lost the “gut” i was sporting on that shoot, but being away from the 9th and all the good cooking over there, certainly helps in the weight losing department!  ha.  kooky stuff.  silly stuff too but at the end of the day, if you’re going to run with the wolves, you have to keep up AND look the part.

photo of said Dark City Boy outfit!

artist in October

 

crappy grainy photo but that’s the idea (i’ll get an updated, soon).  super fun black boots to go with!  many moons ago, on another walking around the block adventure, i drew a picture of the then “dark city boy” outfit, an idea for some jackets i wanted to make, the idea stolen from the costumes department over at Debajehmujig Theatre Group (another story we can save for later!)

photo of said picture, drawn many moons ago:

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2000 Man, Dark City Boy in front of Treasure Island, Lake Mindemoya, Ontario, Canada.  March 1, 2000.  Bic ball point pen on 98 pound paper.  yes…  we need to maintain the maintenance department…

what i’m getting at through all of this is this:  if you’re going to take a walk around the block, you might as well do alright with it.

(psst: more movie set photos to come if i can get away with posting these!)

 

Monday: Alone

And so here it is at the half way point in August, 3/4’s through another summer.  But the days have not all gone without adventure!  There have been many amusing adventures over the past 4 weeks and at this point in time the only thing I wish I had of done was taken more pictures!

What a summer!

So here I am on a Monday, alone, waiting for paint to dry.  I have CBC Radio 2 playing classical, and an open window with a breeze and a view.  Beyond that:  it is nothing but me and the open fields and big sky.  Well I have a very pleasant memory from this morning: a visit to a local, viewing art with a fellow artist.  The only thing missing from that experience was Chopin’s Nocturnes playing over the house sound.

Yes indeed what a summer.

And so as requested in recent days/weeks, a recent photo of the artist!  Taken on Saturday, August 13.  Taken on the first day in a month when I found myself truly alone.  The girls were down south.  Our summer visitors all gone.  The yard was empty.  The drive too.  It was me and the gigantic silence we get out here.  The sky was dark at 3 p.m., we’d just received our first rain in 70 days!

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“Portrait of an Artist as a Middle Aged Man”