Wednesday, November 30, 2005
At work I had this idea for a Book Tree for Xmas.
I mean it's a library
and we have a christmas tree so shouldn't it be a decorated with tiny
books? So I made tonnes of little books to hang on it.
It looks really
pretty. (Photos will be shown eventually).
Anyway, this project sent me
scouring the internet for book covers. I went through hundreds and
printed out some bad, and some good, to go on the decorations. I got
really into the bad covers though. Man! there are so many websites with
bad book covers and, rightfully so, because some of them are downright
hilarious. So here are some examples to hopefully make you laugh.
A baby for Grace? God no. Please no.
Xavier Hollander moved on from the "Happy Hooker" with this intriguing
book "Yours Fatally". No the sax is not supposed to be phallic. She's just having a
great ol' time.
Sartre's "Intimacy" cover (below) isn't that funny but i do love the old 70's
covers cause they remind me a of being a little kid and illicitily sneaking my
mother's books from her den and then reading them under the covers. I do
wonder though, looking at this cover, if she isn't just getting a bit too
intimate with her hands?
Devil rock book is amazing... and apparently the devil and one's love
of rock ARE connected.
I must say, as work projects go, this one was damn fun. Next year I am
going to advance the craft to be more professional looking and 1. get
them printed out in colour, 2. put them on real little books not my hand
made version, and 3. put them inside clear glass balls so they look more
delicate and protected and pristine. The Osbourne Collection (TPL)had this marvelous
travelling collection of miniature books which was beautiful. I would be
very happy to have some of those little guys. Not for decorations. For
pure enjoyment. Because tiny things are nice.
It's great to see how much people appreciate a well put
together tree. I have gotten a few comments about being a great
designer... and people said they liked that the covers aren't all serious
books. Hey, some of those old pulp covers are amazing. In fact, when one
of the librarians wanted some Margaret Atwood covers, I cringed (and
nearly cried... hello? it's my design scheme and Atwood makes me want to
wretch). But apparently, I have to accept suggestions from staff, as it is
supposed to be representative of what all of us are reading. Okay
done. Begrudgingly, but done. (Nabokov said the best literature is always
and only poetic and Not political... can someone tell margie that? Nabokov:
"style and structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Thank you Paris.
Residents of Nantes, France woke to a space capsule crashed into a smoking pile of rubble in the central square of the city. Later that day, a giant animatronic elephant and entourage of the Sultan paraded into town to visit the mayor.Then, on saturday, the capsule opened to reveal a giant animatronic girl who walked through the streets, mischievously sewed a row of parked cars to the street with a shipping Hauser rope, rode a scooter, and even asked that the crowd give her some privacy while she used the toilet.This play went on all day -- the Giant and elephant slept curled together in a park -- for an entire weekend. People were completely involved in this fantasy, and you can only imagine the effect it has on the imaginations and passions of children.
Here's the link to more info.marionettes
Strangers cross the street
with the authority of sunlight
on their backs.
The sky is so open
to making people
and things beautiful again.
This is a poem I wrote.
It was previously published in Taint Magazine.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Party number 1
I enjoy taking pictures of tables at people's houses at the end of the night, after the parties are winding down. This was a great weekend for parties. One on Friday and two on Saturday. These are the two saturday night parties. I am so lucky to have nice places to go - see party number 1 and different underground nice places, see party number 2, -- (cavernous warehouse), but both were very cool and fun... at party number 2 the booze all ran out and people dispersed around 4-5am. At party number 1 I don't think the booze was all drunk up. They might still have some for a Sunday hair of the dog. Happy Birthday Tashy! and Farewell to the fabulous line of fashions "Damzels in This Dress".
Friday, November 25, 2005
Last night I ran home from work like a little kid. It was super fun. I felt all charged and bionic. As I ran, I remembered why I loved Spiderman so much. That feeling of just suddenly being able to lift up and swing from lamp post to roof top and take off. I felt, last night, I might just be able to do that...
As I past the huddled masses crushed in the bus shelters I felt even more powerful. What's a little cold wind and snow? Make the best of it and run home instead of waiting and waiting for broken down old streetcars that never come. As I ran, I warmed up, and didn't feel the cold at all. My iPod blasted Missy Eliot which helped pump my energy level up, as well.
Sometimes life is so wonderful and simply beautiful. Snow covers everything lightly, delicately, like a touch. It collects on the sides of buildings, in their crooks and moldings, as if to protect them. as if to highlight their details.
When I got home I got all warm wrapped up in my blue wool blanket and watched the "L Word" with the blinds drawn open so I could watch the snow blizzard outside. I love that feeling, all cozy and snug inside, watching the tumult and cold of outside.
The change of seasons is starting to become okay by me.
So one of the Greatest things about my job (besides dealing with wackos) is that I get paid time to read the New York Times Book Review every week. I absolutely love it. Their year end list of the 100 most Notable Novels of the year is out now - so go have a look! And take advantage of the First Chapters section where you can read the first Chapters of some amazing books that they are currently, or have recently reviewed. I have found so many outstanding books this way and I often recommend it when people are looking for new authors to read.
There was a great article in the last edition (November 13th) about Garrison Keillor's book "Good Poems" and it's sequel, pathetically entitled; "Good Poems for Hard Times". I love the way it brought out the death-wrath-venon-hate in the reviewer August Kleinzahler from Poetry magazine. The reviewer here, David Orr, says that the obvious problem is that the title
"proposes that "the meaning of poetry is to give courage." That is not the meaning of poetry; that is the meaning of Scotch. The meaning of poetry is poetry."
I could read debates about the meaning of poetry all day! Good stuff guys!
Thanks to all them over there at NYTBR all for making my day so much better so many times.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
...finally in my library career, someone asks me about the Pre-Socratics. So exciting! ... and yet she looked blankly back at me, like I was a loser, when I got 'expressive' about just how "awesome" her project was going to be. I tried to "cool it up" by saying cool teen things like "you'll dig these guys", I only narrowly avoided saying - " these guys rock".
So then i got images of myself as the cool philosophy prof., sitting on the table, legs crossed, upper body leaning forward in that inviting - -"hey kids, let's rap"-way - "let's talk philosophy"-" i'm one of you" ... oh no, came close... I think visions of a future like that made me give up philosophy...and meeting a few too many ego-inflated Harvard wanker jerks.
Back to the story at hand....
She, instead, demanded I find her only one book that covered Hippocrates, Socrates and Pythagoras. I started to explain how we didn't have just one in and how it's not appropriate to leave all the research to the day before (especially with such cool dudes as these) and, that in fact, Pythagoras was a pre-socratic - oh yeah... girls in grade five LOVE hearing words like "Pre-Socratic" from semi-hip grinning Librarians. She looked like she was going to flee instantly. She demanded again that i get one book on all three. I started to explain the lovely, fascinating nuisances of the pre-socratic era, best being that all sciences were one, and all knowledge was one, everything was to be learned in concert with everything else. The whole, the beautiful unity. These, the earliest philosophers believed that the basic principles of everything were material, but they often disagreed over their number and form. Thales, who originated this kind of philosophy, said it is water. Heraclitus said that everything is continually changing and, comparing existence to a river, claims that one can never step into the same river twice.
Parmenides claims that only one thing exists--the existent and nothing more. Oh and talking of Tiny - Democritus is the best cause he loves tiny things! He's all about the everything is made up of tiny things like atoms that thats the important stuff that counts.
Apparently I should be writing one of those philosophy for Idiots books.
I particularly liked Anaxagoras, - according to him everything that is or will be is arranged by nous (mind)... including the rotating of the stars, the sun, the moon, and the air and the aether, which are continually being separated off because of this rotation. Democritus held that the material elements are the full (atoms) and the empty (the void), and called them being and non-being respectively. In fact, the concept of the big bang was so eloquently discussed by the pre-socratics, as it was based on the concept that everything had to in some sense come together before it could explode apart. Unity being a strong influence.
There is so much great stuff to get into... I implored! Alas I was met with the same bored expression.
"Ya, do you have ONE book that says all that stuff?"
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
I read all your tiny things blog. I was touched. I loved the whole thing, the words and the photos. I loved that you feel so deeply, happiness and joy in little things and natural things; and sadness. I wished I could give your happiness all wrapped up in a box so you could always have it. But maybe all any of us can expect is that we can experience a range of emotions. And you have the ability to write about it and share it. Hope you're feeling better.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
This Robot was made in 1937 for the World's Fair. His name is Elektro. I saw a show about him and it was very funny. His insides consist of little motors that make his arms move up and down and his head nod. He does little else.
Oh but he smokes! Seriously, he is a smoking robot.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Parkdale stories continued....
Besides Parkdale library stories, Goodwill store experiences bring home the real meaning of Parkdale to me. What comes to mind? Most recently, a quadriplegic woman in a motorized wheelchair who is a regular, (as am I ), at the Goodwill at Queen and Roncesvalles. She sometimes asks me to try on clothes for her, because she physically cannot. At first, I was friendly and obliging with this task, but then she started insulting me. Saying things like "Oh you aren't a size 6 at all!... you are a lot bigger...fatter" or " If I had your complextion I wouldn't wear such a terrible colour". Okay Thanks. Needless to say, it's hard to help someone who calls you fat. Apparently, everyone there knows her because people absolutely won't move for her when she wheels around the store. They stare back blankly when she commands "Move Aside!", then look away. I said to my mom, the last time this happened: "this has got to be the only place in Toronto people won't move for someone in a wheel chair".
The other day, I watched her slowly, methodically smash her way through the crowd to position herself in a corner, watching disapprovingly as others tried on old mothball coats, and fingered fondue sets unboxed and put on display, first time since 1972. As I made my way through the dresses, I felt an arm smash into my back, I thought to myself: "Isn't that the way here, the second you find a semi-clear space to look at stuff, someone comes smashing right into you?" It's usually crowded and crowded with crazy or needy people who apparently, like a lot of "contact" and "interaction".
It was a blind man who was now coming at me full force, right through the dresses! Dresses were literally flopping him on the head, one by one, as he clumsily steared on through. I thought about offering to help him but then remembered the last time I'd done that and nearly got the man run over. He started to bellow:
"Excuse Me" as he felt his cane hit me.
"Sure, go ahead" I said.
He makes his way past me and is headed straight for her! Head on collision! She is completely blocking his way with her giant motorized wheelchair. Dressers on one side box him in, and the display case on the other make passing no simple feat for even a sighted fellow. They begin to wrestle. She knows he's blind. But now it's the fight of the disabled. She is clearly very used to being the *most* disabled in the room.
"Please let me pass" he says.
"I can't see how" she barks back angrily.
"Well I guess I can climb over you then... " he says, meekly.
I am not the only one watching. The entire line-up is watching. Some giant fur-laden fat woman yells:
"Let him pass, he's blind" .
Wheelchair lady slowly turns on her master controls and moves for him but she's not going to let him get by that easy.
"Next time look where you're going" she barks.
Apparently, she still hasn't grasped the bare facts of the situation, or doesn't care, or knowingly wants to insult him.
He leaves, his gait lowly and defeated.
We all feel bad.
No metaphor required for horror in alley
I saw the men and their door as I was about to post letters and bills in the corner mailbox. Yes, I pay my bills the old-fashioned way. Yes, I still write letters. And yes, the red Canada Post box is covered with graffiti. To hell with metaphor, here is an irony: The letters I write are posted in a box covered with illegible writing.But there was something new on the box this morning; a short simple sentence, written in block letters with a glitter marker, delightfully easy to read: You are beautiful.
I, of course, am not. Still, the message made me smile and that might have been the intent of the writer. I was grateful for this, because I live in a neighbourhood that seems increasingly distant from beauty.
Someone dumped the naked, bloated torso of a woman in an alley not so very far from my place the other night. She must have been beautiful once; someone would have thought her so. She was not beautiful when she was found. An inference: if she was bloated, she died some days ago. An inference: whoever disposed of her arms, legs and head did not have the stomach to finish the job. A final inference: whoever did this panicked. She was found in a blind alley. No need to search for metaphors now.
What went wrong? Who did this? How do we explain it to the kids?
Well, dear, sometimes the bad people kill the nice people and then they cut them up and throw them away.
How does a child deal with that? How do I?A couple of years ago, one man stabbed another in a rooming house down the block. Both the man who bled to death and the man who used the knife had psychiatric histories. The rooming house is some sort of "facility" where residents get some sort of "care." I can't walk past that house without a shiver. That's how I deal with such things. I shiver, and I keep on walking.
There was a fire in the neighbourhood recently. You must have seen the pictures in the papers. A bakery and a dollar store burned down on Queen near Jameson. A bit of luck: Fire Hall 15 is close by, so the pumper trucks were on the scene right away. Another bit of luck: there were no apartments on top of the dollar store or the bakery. The fire did not spread, and that had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the skill of the crew from the local fire hall. I walked past the charred remains the morning after the fire. The woman who ran the dollar store was standing on the sidewalk in shock. She had no insurance. She didn't want to talk to me or anyone else. All her stock, up in smoke. She muttered that she wasn't sure what she was going to do now, or if she would start again. Most of us are not sure what we are going to do at the best of times. Most of us have not suffered those kinds of losses.Some of the buildings on this part of the street were once beautiful, although you have to stand back and squint to see the beauty. Now, the block looks like a crazed grin with two teeth missing. Burnt buildings, dead bodies and two men with an aluminum door that opens into infinity.
Oh, my poor dear Parkdale.
Joe Fiorito usually appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Email: email@example.com
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I guess the thing about Parkdale is it's been a troubled neighbourhood for a long time. I've lived here more than 5 years, I worked at Parkdale library all this past summer and, if living right near there hadn't made me grow accustommed to the neighbourhood, working there certainly did.
I saw things there and dealt with things that I never thought were even possible in a library... a few examples... amputated legs abandoned, washroom orgies, crack pipes in the lost and found, numerous complaints about shit on the ceiling, and that doesn't even start to cover the Reference questions one gets asked. I have never dealt with people who have lost family members to violence before... but now I have. I guess it made me understand why my mother got into social work. There is an amazing amount of satisfaction gained from really helping people.
to be continued....
...So they found a toroso across the street. Not what you want to hear in your neighbourhood. I know Parkdale is bad. But it never seemed *BAD* Bad. It seemed kind of silly bad... like the drunks on their couch behind the library... with their t.v. set up, as if it was their very own living room. Lounging about on the hot ashpault, drinking crisp blue aqua velva like it was refreshing and thirst quenching. Shirtless and bellowing... that's the Parkdale I've come to know ... and sometimes love. But murder and dismemberment... that's another story.
We have to talk to the police. they are going door to door and looking in people's fridges.
I am scared when I open my door at night.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
closet drinkers everywhere.
the lady in front of me in the bank line-up
stinks of booze and gum,
she turns to talk to me
doing drunky whispery voice
..."the service here stinks..."
i turn to avoid the smell.
do they think no one notices?
no one smells it?
...at the library drunks come in all the time. 9 a.m. wasted, slurring words, insulting us... raging and ranting. "Hello???? You're drunk ! I'm not. I'm at work".
... the other day one ol' Irish red-faced Large drunky-stumbly man went on a tirade about a "n-gger" who wouldn't move his legs to let ol' whitey pass and he raged on yelling and spitting and coughing. as he left one of the staff said something like...: "it'd be better if you came to us first before starting these altercations", and i said "and better if he just wasn't drunk". they all looked at me surprised. how dare i say that about a "customer". how dare i speak the truth. the truth is we shouldn't have to be talked to like shit by folks who can't hold a job because they can't Not drink.
drunks at the canadian tire buying hammers, drunks at the macdonalds buying big Macs. Did you know they are everywhere?
Friday, November 04, 2005
I remember reading one of his first published pieces in a compilation comic book my brother published called Hogtown.
You can see some of his work here:
It is so God damned tragic that he was killed that way, by a truck while cycling home to have Halloween with his wife and two small children. His drawings are so beautiful and delicate. He had awesome respect for nature and captured each of it's elements beautifully. He will be sadly missed.
Thursday, November 03, 2005