On The Tracks

Crime of Life, November 19, 2010 at 01h16

It was a warm day for a cold winter, the temperature hovering around fifteen below. We climbed the fence and walked out onto the bridge. It wasn’t used in the winter, not by trains, just the one-way traffic right below us. You could hear it, feel it, see it through the slits of wood. At the edge, you could see the frozen river forty meters down. We couldn’t have fallen, not easily. This was his idea.

When he told me he wanted to take pictures on the tracks, I thought it’d be fun. We’d be high up there and it’s great to look down at the world sometimes. I think we both needed that then.

We had mutual friends and similar interests, like computers and cameras and being alive. It was only natural we’d become friends ourselves, and it was only too obvious that it would one day get complicated. Similar interests. Mutual friends.

But before all this would come out, we stood on that bridge, in the cold, looking down at the world. I walked half across, then back. No coat, for a while no shirt, always the subject of a camera capturing the instance of a man alive.

Thank You, Greg Capullo

Crime of Life, October 23, 2010 at 12h52

In eighth grade, I was introduced to Spawn and became an immediate fan of its longtime artist Greg Capullo. One day I sent him some character sketches I’d created for my own comic and I asked him to draw a cover for it. If he drew my cover, I added, my friends would definitely buy it.

Two weeks later I got an oversized envelope in the mail. Inside was a completely penciled and inked drawing of my characters Traveler and Shakkle. I was speechless; how many artists would do something so generous?

Soon, the drawing had an effect that I hadn’t anticipated. With such an incredible cover, my comic had a whole lot to live up to. A cover like this warranted a comic I couldn’t deliver. And with that, the project ended. Traveler and Shakkle stayed up on my wall, adored, and I stopped taking comics seriously. I created a silly little series called Stick-Man: The Psycho Hero, a comic of limited quality that took only days to create.

Years later, I decided that Greg’s drawing had been done under false pretenses. I felt guiltier and guiltier until one day I sent him a copy of Stick-Man with a note to explain what had happened. That his talent somehow made me lose interest in comics altogether. I didn’t understand then that there will always be someone better than you at what you love to do. What’s important is to keep doing what you love.

The Old Apple-Cement Trick

Crime of Life, July 20, 2010 at 06h58

Yesterday afternoon, I schemed.

There was fresh cement poured across the street from my house, and a guy had been hired to make sure nobody vandalized it. Well, since I was already waiting out on the front steps, I hatched a plan.

First, I took an apple, chopped it in half, and carved an imprint into it. Next, after observing the ever-vigilant sidewalk monitor for some time, I noticed that he was drinking a lot. It would only be a matter of time before he would have to go to the washroom, thus leaving me with my opportunity to strike.

And then I was in and out like a bank heist.

Granted, I’ve never actually been involved in a bank heist, but I do however enjoy heist movies, and I’d say my execution was somewhere between Ocean’s Eleven and Dog Day Afternoon. By the time I was there imprinting the cement, it had dried considerably and my apple had gotten mushy. The result was a very slight impression, which, hopefully, will still be noticeable years from now.

The Unnecessary Details

Crime of Life, July 15, 2010 at 03h36

There are times when we hear something that makes us rethink our entire life’s habits. As example, I was visiting a small town in Alberta shortly after a friend’s wedding, talking to two people from high school that I hadn’t seen in years. I started telling a funny story about a shady pub I went to once, wherein two drunk people were cursing each other out, back and forth, repeating the same two words over and over. Except in the story as I told it that day, they weren’t just drunk people: they were drunk Indians.

One of the people I was talking to turned to his friend and said, “See? I told you! It’s not a drunk person, it’s a drunk Indian. It’s always a drunk Indian.”

It wasn’t at this point in the story that I totally understood his meaning, but when I did, I realized my discrimination. And further to this, it wasn’t even about Indians, or Natives, or whatever label might be applied; it was about unnecessary details and why they are used. The story I was telling wasn’t particularly funny itself; it was the stereotype of the characters involved. These days I consider the relevancy of those extra details.

Today I no longer have black friends or white friends, Jewish friends or Native; I just have friends. And if you ask me to describe them, I’d tell you what you need to know.

One Thoughtful Punk

Crime of Life, May 25, 2010 at 06h55

Dave was the first vegan I ever knew, before I’d ever heard the word elsewhere. He immersed himself in it. With some ethics, that’s the only way it can be; complete. As far as I knew, his beliefs were being influenced by the people around him and the music he was listening to. Radical, different. There are a lot of thoughtful punks in the world. I’m not sure enough people recognize that.

I knew nothing about veganism other than that a lot of things you wouldn’t expect were on the restricted list. I had a few questions. One in particular was sincerely ignorant. I asked if he could eat Cheezies. My presumption was that they probably weren’t made with actual cheese, thereby avoiding the dairy qualifier; this was incorrect. They’re on the restricted list.

I’m looking back at my life and noticing different things now, memories like this. If it hadn’t been for Dave, my awakening to veganism might have taken longer, or maybe not at all. Today, I don’t look at my diet as having a restricted list. I can choose to eat anything I want. I make these choices every day guided by principles I believe in. Perhaps if I’d asked different questions that day, I wouldn’t have eaten so many Cheezies since.

Fitting the Demands of the Occasion

Crime of Life, April 8, 2010 at 10h35

On the occasion when she came home upset in part by work and in part by my presence in her apartment, she told me how unthoughtful I was. I didn’t understand the stresses of her job, or how emotionally and physically demanding it was. She was sore and hungry. I didn’t listen to her enough. I didn’t do anything to make her life easier. This is what she told me, nearly shouting, leaving me to sit quietly and bite my tongue while I took each blow.

On the occasion when the attack eased, she might have realized she was wrong. Dinner was in the oven waiting to be heated. Champagne was on ice by the tub, waiting to be filled with warm soothing water. Lotion at the bedside for a long massage. This is what I’d prepared.

On every occasion she was shown wrong, she went quiet. Never apologetic. In some small way, she was always right. It is this quality that, unchanged, could leave her as alone as I left her on the last day we ever spoke.

My Very First Condom

Crime of Life, April 1, 2010 at 12h51

Among the unusual curiousities I had while growing up was what exactly a condom was. Every weekend we would stop at the same restaurant on our way out of town, and every weekend I would go to the washroom and see the condom dispenser on the wall. I wondered what they looked like, what they felt like; I barely even knew what they were for. But then there was a day when I was just curious enough to put a dollar in.

There was another family that went to the same restaurant every Friday. They had a son a few years older than me, and just after the machine dispensed the little wrapper to me, he walked in. Of course he knew what was going on! He knew I was some twisted sexual deviant and he was going to tell my parents what a pervert I was! Oh, it was too embarrassing, what could I do! Continued…

Never Less Present

Crime of Life, March 24, 2010 at 12h38

The California sun had long gone down and our hotel room became our stage of conflict. I had no urgency to be up in the morning, so I thought I might go out and explore this unfamiliar city. There was much to see.

At the time I was in a role I thought I could manage; the lusting friend, never so easily accomplished as is intended. She said it wasn’t fair that she had to be up early for her conference. She wanted to go out. I thought that if I stayed, she would see how considerate I was. This is why I took my shoes off and sat in the room quietly while she slept, doing my best impression of a loving boyfriend. I knew she would remember this gesture fondly.

Weeks later I recalled this upon her. I said that I regretted not going out that night, especially in light of what happened after the trip. I stayed to be polite, I stayed because I thought it would change how she felt towards me. It didn’t. To her memory, the incident never happened, just like so many other things never happened. To this day I wonder how present I ever was.

The Vegetarian

Crime of Life, March 20, 2010 at 10h39

Long before I ever became vegetarian, I found myself dating one of them. Yes, one of “them,” because where I come from, vegetarians are quite another group altogether.

We went out for dinner a few times and on these occasions we’d get into deep discussions about vegetarianism. I’d never given it any serious consideration because I knew man was supposed to eat animals. I knew we needed to, I knew we always had, and I knew no other way.


Crime of Life, March 2, 2010 at 05h16

We supposed there wasn’t anything to do but pack a night’s worth of clothes and drive North. Just suddenly, on impulse, at six o’clock. I was reckless then, in many ways, and we made it there by ten-thirty.

In nearly ever sense, I was trying to impress her, and when we finally arrived, much too late to do anything, the evening fell apart like anything but romance.

There wasn’t enough time to see the sights and not enough daylight to accommodate our desire. Much sooner than we expected, the trip was over. We left for home, and on that drive began the end of whatever we were.