February 2006

Perspective

From thirty stories up the world looks a lot different.

That sounds a little pretentious I think. At least on the first read it sure does.

So let me explain.

Having been evicted from my underground apartment at the beginning of this year, I was forced to find myself a new home. For those of you that are regular readers, you know how I feel about the gentrification of my old neighbourhood. Compound that with the fact that due to said gentrification you canít find an apartment in that neighbourhood for much less than almost a grand unless youíre into the whole black mold leaking pipes full of college kids who think that throwing shit through windows is punk cause Good Charlotte told them so and you have very little in the way of options.

And maybe Iím getting old, but the middle class white kids being bad ass on mom and dadís dime just isnít my scene anymore. Neither are the yuppies that have bought and sold the artistry that used to be in that neighbourhood.

Which caused a slight but significant change of location.

So for the last two weeks Iíve been moving my collective ass across the river and up thirty-four stories.

Which is not as easy as it sounds.

But nonetheless, itís moving along, pun intended.

But there are some interesting things that I have noticed.

First of all, while living on the top story of a high rise apartment building sounds impressive, I have to be up front and tell you that I got a killer deal on the place and I would have been a nut not to take it.

There is of course, what some people would call a down side to things.

My particular ďhigh riseĒ is smack dab on a block that many fondly refer to as ďcrack cornerĒ.

Quite possibly why I got such a killer deal on the place.

I donít mind it myself. So far, the troublemakers stick to themselves and not to me, so Iím happy with that.

I have even found something that I missed and never realized it.

When I first moved into my old neighbourhood it was all about the low income. There were a lot of homeless people and the like, and some while some people might have snubbed their nose at it, the fact of the matter is that people who live on the wrong side of the tracks often have a perspective on life that most donít. For every crazy nutter out there who might try and do you harm, there are about twenty good people who just have had a rough go of things that will most likely stand in that nutters way if you bother to give them the time of day.

Now while I had noticed the increase in expensive jogging shoes in my old neighbourhood, I hadnít noticed that a lot of people had been squeezed out in the process. I also hadnít noticed how much I miss them.

Well tonight I had a 15-minute talk with a man who has lived in this city, mostly on the streets, for the last fourty years. Heís seen a lot, and done a lot and heís now clean and sober. Truth of the matter is that he was coming back from an AA meeting at the oldest AA house in the city. He was a nice guy, very centered and very honest and most of all, very very real.

Which I realize, I missed.

I missed that real, that honesty, a whole bunch.

Thereís something about meeting a perfect stranger who will spill out his life for you, not because heís out for anything, but because he just wants to tell his story and in the midst of that you can see the hope that his story might just impact yours.

Thereís an honesty in someone who will take the time to talk to you to kill the time as opposed to the person that simply does not acknowledge you because they are either afraid of you or simply donít care.

And heís not the first that Iíve talked to in the last little while. There have been more than a couple of people recovering from their luck or still in the middle of it that have been kind enough to share a moment with me.

Standing on my balcony, I can hear sirens. Itís a cold night and the steam is rising off of all of the buildings in the core. It comes off in waves. All of the sounds of the core mingle into a low hum with only the occasional sound rising above. It looks and smells and feels like an apocalypse. I am standing above it, but still in the middle of it.

I missed it.

When I was evicted, I thought that I was losing my home, but the fact is that it hadnít been home for a while, I just didnít realize it.

Home for me is in the real. Itís not in the plastic or the false securities that the appearance of security has to offer. Itís in the security that humanity at itís most honest has to offer. Sometimes itís forced, sometimes itís not, but when it is real you know.

So while some people might say that I have moved up, and some people might say that I have moved down, I have decided that I have simply moved in.

Back home.

Where I should be.

Iím getting back to the center of me. Iím getting back to the truth. Look out, because from here on in no prisoners will be taken. There will be no mercy.

Afterthought

So everyones pissed off because someone held up a sign that said ďBehead those that say Islam is violentĒ.

My two cents?

First of all, sarcasm is universal, and I have no problems suggesting that the person who held up that sign is familiar with it. Thereís an inherent irony here, and if weíre going to be so ignorant to ignore it, than shame on us.

Second of all, I have to say that for the western world that stood by while newspapers ran commentary of ďkill the ragheadsĒ to get up in arms because someone took a literary stand is nothing short of hypocrisy of the highest order.

Letís check the scorecard, shall we? As a society we have at the very least silently condoned the expansion of empire at the cost of these people. Further to that, we have allowed racial prejudice to colour how we see them. I applaud those that have had the common sense to maintain their protests in a peaceful manner, and I encourage them to continue to do so, as violence as we have so effectively proven is rarely the answer.

I continue to be ashamed of the western world.

A couple of days ago I was listening to CJAY 92 and Gerry Forbes. Now while I donít subscribe to his particular brand of humour, and I find him to often appeal to the lowest common denominator, one thing struck me.

When Gerry Forbes says that you are in poor taste and sensationalist for reprinting something, you are truly at the bottom of the barrel.

See you next month.