This will be the last post you’ll see at bstewart23.wordpress.com for a while, possibly forever. You’ll find all of the heartwarming posts you know and love (and which brought you here through a search), plus more new, contrarian blather at:

http://bstewart23.com/blog

Please adjust your expectations browsing favourites and newsfeeds accordingly.


And so it was that Champ and I attended the Inside Out Festival screening of Dead Boyz Don’t Scream tonight.

Dead Boyz Don't Scream
(insert “Brokebrain Mountain” joke here)

Our expectations were adjusted appropriately (downward) by perusing the film’s website beforehand. And it’s always fun to go to Inside Out screenings, to run into pals-we-haven’t-seen-for-some-time and congregate in a dark room with Toronto’s very hottest, coolest gay men.

It’s hard to criticize the film for being chock-full of plucked, primped, hairless, muscled, undertalented, unsexy, fake-tanned, Kinsey-5 dimbulbs playing straight, since that’s the whole point, as are the slasher-genre tropes of phony blood and wonky editing, not to mention nonexistent continuity. But it’s easy to criticize it for being nothing more than that.

Following the half-dozen or so who fled before us, we got up half-way through and left, knowing that Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was just a few minutes walk away.

Free Speech Coalition


Joseph-Florentine Bonnat Bayonne_
Study for Jacob Wrestling the Angel
(Léon Joseph-Florentine Bonnat, 1876)


Hipster Egress

23May07

Hipster Egress


Holy Crap

20May07

Indulge me for a moment, please, I’ll get to my point shortly.

I paid a rare visit to Toronto’s gaybourhood yesterday morning for my triweekly haircut and, since the daily newspapers were all taken by the other patrons crowding my barber shop, I opted to pick up the latest issue of Fab (“The Gay Scene Magazine”), its cover emblazoned with the platinum-haired visage of former Torontonian and America’s Next Top Model professional homosexual Jay Manuel. Now, I’d been meaning to write for some time about Manuel, whose highly-styled, mannequin-like perfection — like a Pierre et Gilles photograph come to almost-life — and unbridled (and supergay) enthusiasm for the trivial has always been fascinating to me.

And, as with all homophile publications — especially the local versions — this particular issue of Fab held the promise of a few derisive minutes of pleasure chortling while reading the inevitably overearnest, sensitive and hypercorrect Letters section. (“Sure, I was really drunk and broke a few glasses and pushed a pregnant woman over, but *I* am the victim here, because throwing me out of Crews/Tango was homophobia of the highest order!”) Good times.

But before I was even able to share with Champ my delight in the insipid material, I was greeted with a story on a very old acquaintance of mine, Harley Walker, whose body, missing since last October, had been found earlier this month.

Not exactly anticipating such a story, I was — and still am — profoundly saddened by Harley’s departure from this planet. He was one of those people you’d meet on the street (or in a shop (or bar)) and your day was immediately better than it had been moments earlier. Farewell, my friend.

And the prospect of a memorial service — with an inevitable religious component — saddens me further. I’ve been corresponding quite a bit lately, with friends and strangers, about the unseemliness of openly criticizing religious adherence. And yet, there’s a big reveal when I ask “what’s going to happen to me, an avowed atheist, (probably even an antitheist,) when I die?” And the answer always seems to be an uncomfortable shuffling of feet followed by a refreshingly honest “well, you’ll probably go to hell, for your lack of belief.”

At that point I must predictably ask: “what is the worst fate you could ever imagine for a human being?” And the equally-predictable answer is always “to burn in hell for eternity.” So, if I may be so bold, these people are openly admitting that they fully expect my fate to be the worst possible fate they can imagine. And that my fate, horrible as it may seem to us all, is reasonable and just.

Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot, so to speak. Given the fact that I do not believe in any afterlife whatsoever — heaven or hell — I ask you to imagine what I can describe as the worst possible fate imaginable for another human being. Feel free to go to your darkest places for this one, because I’ve seen a lot of scary movies.

Now.

How would you feel about being in my company, in my neighbourhood or country, and knowing that I felt that anyone could — or should — deserve such a horrific fate?

I would hope you’d be exceedingly nervous about spending time with me or even having me live next door. Let me assure you: I neither wish for nor would I rejoice in such a horrific experience (the one you just imagined) for anyone. Yet… how do atheists feel, knowing that their devoutly-religious neighbours hold beliefs disarmingly similar to what you’ve just imagined spring from my darkest places? Who’s unseemly now?

Now, some of my correspondence has been with perfectly lovely people in countries not possessing a scriptural overload on the order of that which we experience here in North America. And one of my correspondents has even pointed out that in Canada we are immune from the same rabid theologies which fuel current American fundamentalisms. Not true, as a viewing of the debate clips following a CBC airing of Richard Dawkins’s unfortunately-titled Root of All Evil? would indicate (link on right sidebar). (And, admit it: Avi Lewis is, like, totally dreamy!)

If you feel unease (or dis-ease) hearing and watching the faithful spout hypocrisy and nonsense among adults, we should perhaps take a closer look at what’s being taught to children on these matters. One of my correspondents, a perfectly lovely gym pal, has occasionally invited me to speak with children of faith, so that I may see in their eyes the wonder of belief, and thus be somehow convinced of the existence of a benevolent creator. And yet… I can’t help thinking about the charming but astute questions children have for their religious trainers.

“Why don’t all of the apostles speak about Jesus being born of a virgin, if the birth was of such a miraculous nature?” “Why do we not kill disobedient children, as is recommended in the Old Testament?” “Why doesn’t god answer the prayers of amputees, like he does for rappers and football teams?” And so on.

And the answers given these inquisitive minds? Do nothing but train children to shut down the analytical, logical, reasoning parts of their growing minds. Which seems to me to be more unseemly, more selfish and cruel, than bluntly questioning the beliefs of the faithful which, considering the outrage when challenged, must be very fragile, indeed.

A thousand years ago, a child asking for an explanation of bird flight might have received a reply that god had designed them for that flight. And yet, a child today can be told — and will understand — that birds fly not because of some unseen hand but because of the specific shape of their wings. And than humans have emulated the evolved wing shape in our aircraft, in which air on top of the wing moves faster than that below, thus creating a vacuum causing the wing to rise. And to not tell a child that truth — delivered through scientific observation and experimentation — is to fail quite profoundly in the upbringing of that child.

But a thousand years ago, we did not have the scientific tradition we have today. Likewise, our understanding of the past is, today, much more detailed and consistent with scientific inquiry than it ever was back then.

And so it is that the Creation Museum opens next week just outside Cincinnati, and thousands more young minds will be infected with ignorance, superstition, pseudoscience and, well, fucking lies. I can’t quite square the notion that “this state-of-the-art 60,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life” yet somehow it also features dinosaur exhibits. I’m old, yeah, but not so old to have forgotten mention of dinosaurs in either the old or new testaments. But feel free to send along those bible passages which mention T. Rex.

The apparent endorsement from the Cincinnati Regional Tourism Network is especially troubling. For while lying to children is not quite as bad as the priestly buggering of choirboys, it can’t in any conceivable way be considered a good thing. Can it? And we’re not talking about Santa Clause or unicorns or the Tooth Fairy here, we’re talking about science and history and fact.

And while it’s cheekily amusing to note that there’s nothing “intelligent” about Intelligent Design, purposefully misleading children — and doing so with the blessing of a civic tourism group — is not amusing in any way whatsoever. And what is more unseemly: lying to children, or pointing out that children are being lied to?


Consider:

  1. Shortly after New Year’s Day 1999, Toronto was hit — along with a large portion of northeastern North America — by a massive snowstorm, effectively shutting the city down. Then-Mayor (and International Joke for Life) Mel Lastman panicked and called in the army because, hey, the city’s own snow-removal budget (and personnel (and equipment)) had been severely reduced. The largest city in Canada was unprepared. For snow. In January.
  2. In early March of this year, a peculiar combination of ice, snow and wind caused huge sheets of ice to fly off local landmark, the CN Tower, to the street below. Front Street was closed off for days so that investigators could analyze and remedy the situation. Mayor David Miller’s response was to ask residents to “do their part” to clear drains outside their homes to prevent flooding. But downtown traffic was snarled and ground-level public transit was rerouted. For days. The largest city in Canada was unprepared for that rarest of March occurrences in Ontario — snow! and wind!! — and responded with… a days-long investigation.
  3. In late April of this year, a construction platform crashed into a subway car at 4:30AM, tragically killing a TTC worker. The subway system was crippled for the rest of the day, commuters stranded, while the Ministry of Labour investigated and crews repaired the short length of track and removed the single car affected. Mayor David Miller boldly asked City Council for a moment of silence. The largest city in Canada’s transit system was brought to its knees for an entire day by an accident and… an investigation.
  4. High winds and rain on Tuesday of this week caused a marble slab to fall from the tallest building in Canada, in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. King Street was closed for several days for repairs and — are you noticing a trend here? — investigation. On Wednesday morning, several blocks were closed, snarling traffic and causing general vehicular mayhem in the downtown core. Traffic on Bay Street was rerouted to Yonge Street by police yet no police officers were present on the detour to enforce traffic bylaws prohibiting stopping and parking on Yonge. Fucking nightmare. In fact, when you get right down to it, Toronto’s police never seem to enforce traffic laws prohibiting stopping and parking on major arteries downtown (see 5, below). For days, the largest city in Canada’s downtown core was — and is — a tangled mess of traffic jams preventing efficient egress of emergency vehicles. They’re still investigating.

    Bay Street Policing
    …the bus I was riding in when I took this photo waited 10 minutes for an illegally-parked car to move.

  5. You take your life in your hands if you dare to ride your bicycle in the bike/taxi/bus lane on Bay Street, with signage indicating the exclusivity of that lane appearing only every 75 feet or so. On a good day, you’ll see Toronto’s Finest chatting on the sidewalk while automobiles flout the law and endanger the lives of cyclists mere steps away. But the best example of this is on the Bay Street side of First Canadian Place (the aforementioned Tallest Building in Canada). You see, because FCP is such a landmark, and thus a “target”, elaborate security procedures are in place to scan delivery vehicles prior to arrival on the loading docks. These procedures must be a pain in the ass, because at every hour of the workday you’ll find large vans avoiding the wait at security by parking in the no parking/no stopping/bike-taxi-bus lane (of course) to deliver their… goods. Presumably. Hopefully. What if some evil fuck was to… if you know what I mean (and I think you do).
  6. Remember SARS? Toronto does. Some sectors of our economy are still suffering from the fallout of that disaster. Common sense dictates that victims (and contagion) would be isolated to one or two well-equipped facilities. But Toronto’s health authorities laugh in the face of common sense! Hahahaha! No, we do it Toronto-style here. And Toronto-style means that patients are shipped around from hospital to hospital, “sharing the burden”. And, whaddya know? The contagion was shared, too. How’d that turn out for us? New SARS cases in Toronto originated only in hospitals. Which is kinda good, except for the “new cases” part.

So… what’s going on here and what can be done to remedy the situation? There’s a fuckuva lot wrong with Toronto, and a lot of it is due to the complete absence of effective, charismatic leadership and political will. When the Mayor (or the head of the Toronto Transit Commission (or the Traffic Commissioner (or the Health Commissioner (or the Chief of Police)))) hears of all these “investigations” and days-long inquiries and hold-ups and fuck-ups, do any of them get on the phone and tell the people who can untangle these messes “get the fuck out of your desk right now and make sure this gets cleaned up before the sun goes down today!”? No, they apparently do not.

I’m not being naive to honestly believe that in a city that works, in a vital city that’s actually more than the worst accumulation of mediocrity in this country, things can get done, can get done quickly and can get done right. Because if snow or wind or a preventable disease or an accident or two can bring down the largest city in Canada, what if something really bad happens?


Don’t ask. Seriously. And I wish the quality of the clip was better. And that the ad wasn’t for a financial institution. Didn’t I say “don’t ask”? Honestly, the only reason for the Green-on-Thursday inclusion of this clip is the ridiculous hotness of “Jeff”:

Jeff may be “programmed for success” but he goes to bed alone between those trendy sheets. That ain’t right.

But it is a stunning departure from the usual crap television advertising we see in Canada, in which Typical Canadian Man is below-average in looks, fitness level and, always, intelligence. And is easily flummoxed by the simplest of tasks, like weeding the front lawn or cleaning the kitchen floor. So big ups to Jeff.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.