Sinai Tapestry (off-topic)

Blogs about social issues can become so earnest some times that they occasionally induce bouts of self-righteous ennui.  So, now and again, simple off-topic meanderings are a welcome diversion.  Today I re-stumbled upon this book, almost 40 years after I first stumbled upon it, and all the “first time” feelings flooded back.  It’s not about poverty, homelessness, or the injustice and violence of the mythical “deep state”.  But most of its characters are lowlives, so I’m making the stretch.


I was 22 (1978), working on the rail gangs in Western Canada earning tuition, living in a caboose, and channeling Woodie Guthrie by spending what little free time I had playing revolutionary songs on a pawn shop guitar sitting atop a boxcar. That never gets stale, but drinking every night in prairie town hotels does, and I’d run out of things to read. ( I’d just finished Ulysses and the cupboard ran dry). So I took a chance on a paperback I found in a local drug store in a town that maybe a few hundred people have heard of. (“Well ain’t this place a geographical oddity! Two weeks from everywhere!” – ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’. See what I did there with the reference to Ulysses?)

My mind was blown and slightly altered forever.

What grabs you, with both Sinai Tapestry and (to a just slightly lesser extent) it’s follow-up Jerusalem Poker, is the unholy mix of erudite historical speculation, wanton surreality, and gut-ache humour. Halfway through the first novel I still wasn’t completely sure what I’d stumbled upon but I knew I couldn’t stop. It was like a good/bad acid trip with hundreds of layers and unfathomable depth. And I don’t use the word “unholy” lightly. In previous eras this book (and Jerusalem Poker) would have been considered blasphemy of the highest order and unquestionably banned, with all sorts of woe poured down upon the author. Shakespeare called life “a tale told by an idiot”. Whittemore narrowed that metaphor down to The Bible.

The novel spans centuries, and The Quartet adds the remaining decades. The characters are not just larger than life but above it and beyond it. It’s not a typical fantasy. It takes place in our historical world and it doesn’t ask for the willing suspension of disbelief. It forces it upon you. There’s no magic in the accepted sense, unless the edges of reality can be called magic, and all of the events and characters are possible, if highly implausible. I’ve never laughed so hard while being educated in arcane history.

At first I thought it was just druggie humour (and it IS damn funny) and then I figured maybe historical speculation with a satirical edge, until it started playing with my mundane perceptions of time, history, and causality. It’s the kind of book (series) that weaves itself into your dreams.

Whittemore’s prose is brilliant, his historical research impeccable, his plotting intricate, and his sense of humour lies somewhere in that no man’s land between eccentric and clinically insane. I don’t intend to include spoilers, so the plot lines and characters are off limits, except to say that each and everyone is a complicated revelation. The history of the Levant (hence The Jerusalem Quartet) is the anchor, but around that anchor swirls a wild, weird universe of characters and events that drags you along with it, willingly. Combining history and metaphysics with deeply bizarre characterizations and making it all readable, didactic, emotionally engaging, entertaining, and hilarious is no mean feat. Whittemore is one of the best unknown authors of our time

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Wasting the meaning and losing the rhyme


I feel for my brothers and sisters, on and off the street.  Life’s always a bitch, but it’s worse when everyone is pretending to be happy.  My most poignant memory of Xmas eve was when I was working for the Shepherds of Good Hope.   I drew the night shift.  Better to be working than just wallowing in self pity.   I remember the bells going off at midnight, that big church in Lower town  which I don’t recall the name of.  I had a moment, a short one, when I thought everything would be alright.  That was years ago and things are definitely not alright.  But we have to keep hope — it’s all we have.  This is going to be a good year.


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Offered Without Comment (‘Cause Mom Said Don’t Speak When You’re Angry)

‘Patient is VSA’: Dispatch calls from Ottawa man’s fatal encounter with police

Continue reading

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Fentanyl, Your Last Train Home.

When I was shuffling around the streets of lowertowm, a smart middle class boy trying to get straight, there were dangers, but none I felt afraid of for myself. There were drugs. Lots of drugs Heroin still took a few lives every month. And there was crack, which didn’t so much kill as destroy. And there were assholes adding antifreeze to Heroin.


Mission — 2010

Now there is Fentanyl. It’s not a street drug. It’s stolen straight from the hospital.It is use primarily in palliative care, for those with chronic and persistent pain.  To ease the pain of the dying.  It is, in essence a suicide drug.

And yet I was in the Emergency at the Monfort with  COPD exacerbation (they happen)  and in the next bed a young girl could barely articulate how much Fentanyl she had taken.  She sounded barely alive but they brought her back with an opioid antagonist.   I’m not sure she realized that she had taken a drug intended as an anesthetic for surgery.

Street culture is tight.  Education can be effective.  But only if it is not The Man threatening incarceration and blowing smoke..  We need to give these folk a thorough education on pharmacology.  You can’t quit if you die first.give___take_2_by_xsugarclouds-d4cg4vo

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Promises … promises

I’ve been very neglectful of this blog, particularly now that our fellow LowLives are under siege all across North America.  I make this brief promise to try to do better.  My sort-of motto was to be the voice of the “wretched masses yearning to be free”, at least in the local area.  I seem to have come down with a case of laryngitis … worrying about my own trials and tribulations.  “Double, double, toil and trouble”.  There will be more to come.  What else have I to do?

My baby I m so proud I think I ll name her Jen She - 1784826670518



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Rotting On Remand

Innocent until proven guilty?I have to repeat myself here because I’m absolutely flabbergasted by the concept.  According to Stats Can, there are far more people incarcerated in Canada “on remand” i.e., guilty of nothing, than those who have been committed of accusing a crime.  “On remand” means we hold you in jail until we get around to trying you or releasing you.  It could be traffic tickets or swearing at a cop.  And the “incarceration” is virtually indefinite.  It could be nothing.  The wealthy,of course, get bail.  The rest of us don’t.

I got put in remand for trespassing, being in a shopping centre somewhat shortly after closing hours.  (I was admittedly somewhat protective of my charter rights … gotta stop doing that).  They took me to jail and released me at 4 in the am, while the buses weren’t running and and it was -32 below zero.  They seem to do this for kicks.

Your average John and Jane have no idea this goes on all the time.  It’s time we told them.  P.S. never tell a cop what you think of him.

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I started this years ago, then lost my nerve.  Wasn’t sure I knew enough to tell tell truth.  Thinks have changed … and they keep changing for the worse.

Child in a rebel camp in the north-eastern Cen...

Your Tax $ At Work? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WordPress is less flexible with copyrighted stuff  so here’s look

 “There is no better trade show for defense equipment than a military mission.”

~ Marc Whittingham, CEO of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the crown corporation that acts as Canada’s global military sales agency.

But just in case demonstrations of Canadian military equipment against the 90% civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq are insufficiently compelling, the publicly funded CCC also rents a trailer with Export Development Canada at the big yearly CANSEC arms dealer trade show, which is where Embassy Mag caught up with its enthusiastically entrepreneurial CEO.

CCC sees ‘untapped market’ for Canadian arms

“You wouldn’t know it from the lack of news coverage, but the Canadian Commercial Corporation has been transformed from a low-profile Canadian intermediary agency to a major player in promoting Canadian global arms sales.”

There will be more as my sources reveal more.  There’s a major arms dealing consortium that Harper’s government is supporting to fake a balanced budget with bribes.  Unless the NDP wins the next election and we can sigh a breathe of relief.

“Too many guns in this damn town.
Baby flak jackets on the merry-go-round …”

Read the rest @: Creekside: CCC : a Crown corporation arms dealer.

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