Those who I thought were friends (not you gentle reader, you aren’t a defriend) are seeming open and welcoming but are really like those automatic door closers for example, almost impossible for a wheelchair on your own, really hard with a walker, so necessary as a fire prevention, and so expensive to put a push button mechanism. Lack of empathy, and common greed = stupidity. So dependency is created by opening doors for folks. I’m your friend, I will help you (till I get bored and dump you, it’s all your fault). Condescending minimizing trivializing patronizing grins on their slack jawed religious faces, an opportunity to tell me jesus will heal me, if I pray, (or buy a new age potion) oh, he didn’t? guess you weren’t doing it right ya loser in a wheelchair, even jesus dumped you.
The scene of my constant humiliation, Access Calgary where I go to be defined by my disability. Eighteen months ago I had a devastating life event affecting my mobility. After 6 months in hospital, I moved into my home, fully dependant on these characters in cabs to move me to outpatient facilities and for essentials like groceries. Excuse me I need to stop, here at this Starbucks, I need to use the washroom. No. We don’t stop. Not even for basic human needs. I asked the guy in the wheelchair, what do you do? Piss yourself and sit in it, they don’t give a fuck he says. So right away I get the message, this is for the cab company’s convenience, not mine. On time and fuck you. I used to manage the dispatch for this cab company. I bailed and went to art school, glad to be away from this harsh draconian conservative regime. After I graduated, I trained special needs bus drivers for a fleet with 2000 vehicles as a day gig. First thing I told the drivers, don’t treat them like they are broken, just drive safe and be pleasant, give them a comfortable ride like you would for anybody. So, when I get in the Access car, the driver starts doing my seatbelt, and won’t take no for an answer. Faster this way he says. Never mind that his body rubs against my genitals, if I had breasts, well I don’t know what they do. Put up with being felt up by the driver. It’s not like you have a choice. There is a monopoly in place and they are fighting to maintain the 300 bucks a day per driver (his share). The attitude is friendly and helpful with the part-time relief guys, but the regular drivers, forget it. They hate the job, and they hate you. They live in fear of being fired. If you assert your rights you are being difficult. Every trip is an arguement or passive aggressive silences, watched by video cameras, every trip. Orwell was right. I’m waiting alone at my building, the driver comes to the lobby, and demands, What’s your name! My name is Jerald. What’s your last name! OK are you here for Jerald? I’m the only one here named Jerald who is waiting for Access. If you don’t tell me your last name you are not getting in the car! The Access Nazi, no ride for you. I chose to stay home, called Access and told them what happened. The next day, the same driver was sent again, same scene over again. Access apologised again, and put on my file don’t ask his last name, like I am the problem, I am difficult. After a successful career spanning 40 years in transportation, of special needs folks, I’m the problem. I called the cab company, talked to the dispatcher, a deeply stupid gent who has been doing a bad job there since I left. Jerry, (they call me Jerry) he was just following orders, you want I should fire him for following orders? No fire the insane individual who gave him the orders then threatened his job if he didn’t comply, was my thought, but I said, uh, this is your policy isn’t it. Yes, he said proudly. This would be so simple to fix. Call a cab, Uber, whatever. Go where you want when you want. Give them your access card. Process it. Get out of the cab. Duh, is that so hard? Bad weather, call and book a reservation. Access goes to the head of the list. These people have computer dispatch, I know I helped build it. They can do this. Well only certain drivers have Access training, you say? Ya from now on if your company wants Access trips, all drivers have Access training, it’s called career development. Sorry about your monopoly but it sure wasn’t in my best interests, was it?
I took a course in cultural anthropology one time or maybe
it was the other one about the bones and stuff, where I learned that humans
migrate, for the usual reasons, war being a big one because it wipes out
shelter and food. Following the herd, weather events on a global scale, cosmic
events like asteroid collisions causing a type of nuclear winter. Not much has
changed really. Random shit still happens and we up and move. Brexit from
genetically defective inbred island mutants notwithstanding.
Folks take their better war tech with them, Neanderthals
with their bigger brains and bigger bodies were wiped right out because we had
domesticated wolves, a really viscous war tool, and the resident folks living
in the new place, got raped and their heads bashed, killed by new diseases to
This is actually good for our species because the immune
system seems to like the challenge of new foreign bugs, our bodies are strong
because of adversity, we overcome injury through exercise. We are built to run
all day and follow the herd.
And we evolve as a species.
A kind of evolutionary tough love.
Here in North America my grandfather migrated/immigrated to
lands west of Calgary, the army had displaced the usual residents using their
better war tech for him, he proceeded to grow grasses (wheat) to live off,
promptly got diabetes went blind and went broke.
We have only been trying to live off grass (agriculture) for
6 thousand years or so (?), and we are not good at it. Sedentary diabetes
modules is what we have become, what with sugar thrown in the mix life is short
but its not sweet. Don’t even get me started on what tobacco and high fructose
corn syrup (other types of grasses) does to us.
The mapping of the human genome wiped out the notion of
race, but we have different cultures for sure, based on different war tech
primarily (IMHO) to deal with our anxiety that all humans have brought with
them from the jungle. Oh and religion for the same reason. Anxiety and
hostility and religion go hand in hand.
So one of our cultures or religions is not better than the
other, and because we are the same human species we are all thinking the grass
is greener in our neighbor’s yard let’s migrate there or in our retirement
let’s travel, and we have a taste for rape called lets meet interesting people
and sleep with them, in college, or any opportunity really, sowing our wild
oats continually as it were.
So now I am an artist, my preference.
It’s insane, eugenics really, to think I am smarter or more
talented than anyone else. I have a preference for making art so I learned and
practiced and tolerated the huge frustration of doing that, and now I make
satisfaction for me, the purpose of life.
Rooty toot toot.
The City of Calgary wants me to meet with them about the
uselessness of being on a jury to decide what art to buy and show with public
funds, a practice fraught with abuse from the public here. Indigenous art of
the conquered folks is preferred these days, but so is gay/lesbian and gender
issues. Handicapped art like the freak in the circus is also cool.
Since I’m white, male, straight, and middle age I’m usually the anti-Christ of art
selection committees so this is rather peculiar to me, I hope they pay for my
bus ticket to the meeting, but I doubt they will. Perhaps I am considered handicapped after a
stroke so that is the appeal.
So basically they traditionally make selections based on
some physical attribute.
The non eugenics viewpoint says we are all intelligent we
are all talented and we have different passions that we tolerate frustration in
order to succeed at.
So making art selections based on physical characteristics
of the artist, who their grandparents were, who conquered them, who they like to
socialize their mastubation with (all sex is masturbation, we just invite
friends along sometimes) whether they walk or roll, is really a kind of Barnum
and Bailey freak show for the entertainment of the uneducated who are paying us
to pick this stuff so they don’t have to bother with frustration of an
education in the 800 years of history and tradition of the conquering culture,
or the thousands of years of the conquered one either.
So a eugenics scorecard was developed to help spread the
blame for this really authoritarian even fascist Hitlerian selection process.
Each proposal that took months even years to develop and asking for thousands
of public dollars is given half an hour, the juror paid $7.50, and based on a
score of 10, a rating of artistic merit and social impact. Both of which are
meaningless terms based on a prejudiced belief rather than evidence, so it fits
right in with the eugenics model that one human is better than another based on
So what’s the solution?
Fire the notion of a jury.
Hire an art historian, as curator, to develop a curatorial
them in conjunction with your art committee/board of directors, whatever.
Put out a call for artists based on the curatorial theme.
Send the curator off to do studio visits and make selections,
leave her alone to do her job.
Support her in her decisions.
Educate the public with publications on this is the
curatorial theme, this is the expert hired to curate it, these are the
accomplished artists chosen to execute it.
Live with the inevitable flak from a city of Trump loving
expert hating nazis.
Learn to dodge bullets.
This is business as usual as an artist.
Your likes and dislikes only describe you, not the art.
Grow a set and don’t stand to be pushed around.
Celebrate ‘it’s art because I say its art because I am an
artist based on qualifications’.
I’m in hospital, last year, victimized by a stroke, can’t move the right side of my body, and my nails and toenails are growing. So, I ask the nurse, could I get them clipped please? Oh, we don’t do that, was the indifferent reply, followed by an indifferent shrug when I asked for advice on who does it. Family, get your family to do it. This is the standard Catholic conservative solution du jour put off of the typical Alberta health system employee. Hmmm they (family) don’t visit, and not only are they not close family, they are actively competitive and hostile. The kind of people you disinvite from your Twitter feed. Still, I called up my estranged sister, a former private investigator and current Tantra sex groupie/leader, Eastern spirituality cult recruiter for hire and asked her to come to the hospital to cut my toenails. “I don’t even cut my own!” was the ridicule response. I’ll pay for you to get it done, she offered. OK, when will you be by to take me to the mall? Well I’m pretty busy. Well we are all busy, can you make this a priority? Well, the dogs need walking, your wheelchair is a bother, I mean the list of put offs was never ending. And my nails kept growing into my hand. which was clenched post stroke tight into a fist 24/7 except for therapy sessions where they managed to get it open using Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), electrodes attached to my arm. I was selectively electrocuted to make my hand open, at a 150.00 a session to the taxpayer, once a week. I bought the same machine on Amazon for 80 bucks and use it daily now for an hour a day, but the hospital wouldn’t receive deliveries so I had to wait and use their machine. So, anyway, the conservative family values option disintegrated into the usual self pity and inconvenience. The next solution was a store I had never been in, at the mall where they would do a pedicure manicure for 130.00. No wonder my sister weaseled out of paying for it, I thought. I booked an Access wheelchair transport, had to be 24 hrs in advance, for the next day at -30 in summer clothes, as it was summer weather when I went in hospital and all my cold weather gear was in storage. I couldn’t get up 4 flights of stairs to my home, or pay rent, as I couldn’t work or drive, so I returned my Toyota to the dealership as well. Serial loss piled upon loss, even the cat had to go to the kitty homeless shelter. The Access driver was an asshole. This I discovered was typical. Career drivers are working class conservatives, their base, they listen to Fox news on the radio. We aren’t friends. Also I imagine he was pissed about loading me in a blizzard, his frustrated inconvenience was a tangible thing emanating off him in waves. This wasn’t a medical trip, it was going to the mall, considered by many conservatives as an abuse of the system. He showed his disapproval by jamming the brakes and gas, throwing me around when I didn’t have proper muscles to hold myself up in the wheelchair. In the past my day gig was as a driver trainer for a bus company, I knew he knew how to drive with consideration for his passenger because I know his training. They refer to their vehicles among themselves as gimp-mobiles, the passengers as gimps, sometimes raisins or prunes if they are elderly, and treat the clients like children with dementia. It’s really humiliating. He got me dumped at the mall, pushing my chair with one arm and leg, in the snow, my first outing since the stroke, I had been indoors in an institution for months. I was really anxious after the abuse of the ride and didn’t know what to look for at the mall. Later I found out it’s called a spa. I really had to pee after the cold and the ride, with no options for that obviously accessible and available. It turned out that there was a nail place right by the entrance, thankfully, the mall was as least a km. long on 2 levels, and they had no washroom anywhere nearby. 200 bucks later I had a haircut, nails and feet bathed and expertly trimmed with the realization this was a monthly expense, and I had no job. Anxiety piled upon anxiety loss piled upon loss. I was the only male, in the spa, I was surrounded by women, in bathrobes, having just arrived from the waxing booths presumably hairless from the neck down, looking I imagine as prepubescent children or porn actresses for their lovers enjoyment. They were acting much the same as children in the spa what with a man being there. Giggling at being busted by my gender for having a hairy ass I suppose. The attendants were all immigrants, Asian mostly, Korean and Vietnamese. Now I understood why the conservative white nurses and my white sister wouldn’t do my nails. This was nigger work, to use a relevant term from a past age. They felt themselves above the class of coloured help: their child’s au pair or the spa wage slave that ripped the wax off their hairy rectums. The nurses aids that emptied the bedpans at the hospital were similarly Asian and immigrant. I once had a coffee buddhy, a retired Brit doctor, and one day I started my sentence with, “As an immigrant you must realize”, which was as far as I got before he exploded in indignation, as I had just called him a nigger in his British conservative mind. He offered me a prescription for Prozac, saying under every bad concept is a bad molecule. Shortly after he was diagnosed with brain cancer and he took his bad molecules off to die in the niggardly hospital system he helped to create. The ride home from the mall was awful. My mall buddy from the stroke ward with the walker was too short to climb up the seat of the Dodge caravan. The driver wanted to leave her at the mall which was closing. I suggested we swap because I’m tall, so I managed to stand up and then fall up into the passenger seat, the wind howling the snow blowing at 30 below. I felt like I was in search of the northwest passage on the open Atlantic in February. The driver stuck my buddy in my wheelchair, crammed her in the back and took off for the hospital. The freeway was black ice, the driver was insane. He obviously had to pee badly but there was no place in the mall for him within the km. of stores. He wasn’t allowed to leave us alone at any rate, why he didn’t stop ahead of time I don’t know. So there we were, racing on black ice, passing cars going half our speed, I’m flying around inside the vehicle unable to hold myself upright, the driver is steering one handed, the other holding his crotch, his face screwed up in obvious discomfort. We get to the hospital and were left alone anyway, the driver racing for the washroom. I got another Access driver to help unload us and get us inside, I never saw my guy again. I’m not convinced he ever returned, due to embarrassment. It was a surreal day full of obstructionist class privilege, animosity and assholes, some bearded, some waxed. A typical day on the stroke ward in a Catholic conservative hospital system. A typical getting around as well to outside appointments listening to Fox news and pissed off drivers. They don’t seem to like me somehow….
How do I know what I don’t know? “Please know we are still very interested in having your perspective on a future jury, but we will creating each jury for each program as they roll out throughout the year.” What perspective is that? And on what subject and in what context. I was not informed that I would be part of a pool. I was making myself available and making a commitment to be on a jury to offer a professional opinion, as part of my professional responsibilities to recognize and nurture talent, and as a contribution to my community. The reason I do not like secret pools is that it gives the impression of stacking the jury so that political agendas are served. This hidden process that is done in secretive back rooms smacks of censorship. I have served on juries for 25 years, and generally there is an open context, and an agenda. Like the New Gallery has a focus on contemporary art, for example. Your jury selection conext and agenda are not obvious or open to the public, yet I see artists picked for the banner project for example for the last seven years, not only for the quality of artistic merit, but for membership in social groups, apparently. Perhaps it is just coincidence. I recently was offered a show as a handicapped artist. I was recently turned down to show as an emerging photographer due to my age. What do my physical attributes, choice of gender of sexual partners, age, choice of gender of myself, have to do with my art in anyway at all. Well, lots, if you have that as a curatorial agenda but it needs to made clear at the outset. The national gallery of Canada changed their age requirement for their emerging artist competition when I pointed out it was ageist and bigoted. You can emerge as an artist at any age. The optics of this selection committee, and it’s vague catch all of artistic merit and ‘social impact’ are terrible. Without clear and specific information as to curatorial theme, specific reasons why I was chosen to be on the jury or not, I am not interested in being part of a secretive process in a back room where for all I know the selections are made on the basis of social groupings and political agendas. Thank You
My point of view is that if I am to form new neural pathways around the stroke damage in my brain, I must choose to move, consciously and repetitively, they even know how many repetitions of the attempt it takes for the brain to form the new pathway. (a few thousand, I forget)
I am involved in a study that suggests the white matter of the brain plays a role with folks like me who had a stroke for no discernible reason, and are more able to choose to do the repetitions and regain motion. If I choose to not do the repetitions I’m without use of my body.
I choose to tolerate the frustration of not having instant gratification. Success in any endeavor is high tolerance of frustration. A four year old demands instant gratification. An adult is capable of short term pain for long term gain.
Therefore adulthood is the result of free will and power of choice. Narcissists, (Trump) who are adult children, are examples of choosing not to grow up, and manipulate others instead of saying ‘if it is to be, it is up to me’.
Stroke folks are often people who have low tolerance of exercise and choosing healthy foods anyway and this is one of the potential consequences.
I have the gene for diabetes, but since I choose not to have genetic nihilism, I haven’t given that gene expression by eating what I please, a kid in a candy store.
I was at the dentist the other day. I felt treated with such care and consideration and empathy. Not the sentimentality that would keep her from removing a tooth if necessary but true compassion. I was able to recognize that same care and compassion, in me, I was able to finally see it, by her example, in myself, too close to it to see it previously, taking my care of others for granted. You see, was constantly panicked and hurt and depressed ashamed and embarrassed and worried from the harm done to me from my parent and siblings. They hate us for our compassion for it makes them look bad, so they attack, the narcissists in my life, my so called family. The knowledge that I can handle life comes with the knowledge that I can give myself this unconditional care and understanding independent of others. My lifelong anxiety and loss was as a child who had never known anything but institutional care, an virtual orphan who needed to ‘be of use’ to have any worth to himself and only conditionally to others. I became free of these emotional consequences when I decided I no longer had to ‘be of use’ as I was no longer dependant on others for care, I am self caring. Both sides of the business contract of love and compassion for hire, thrown in the trash. So my being treated with unconditional care, it an intimate physical way, my mouth, with no expectation of similar return, gave me an example, a reminder, of how to treat myself. I don’t believe that I had ever had a relationship of any kind, professional or otherwise, where there was such obvious care. My typical relationships were like the social worker in the hospital, whose focus was on what an inconvenience I was, how I made life difficult for her, with my situation, conditions of no supportive family, only able to support myself and my art by working hard, none left over to save, not yet old enough for seniors annual income. She said, ‘your body has let you down’, whereas I thought my body had suffered a random injury in my brain, and was busy healing, taking care of it. She scared me, typical of the harsh institutional ‘care’ I had known since birth. When she left, her replacement was even worse, a true conservative sent in to deal harshly with the freeloaders like me. Either get a job or we send you to the single men’s hostel she said. But I can’t walk, and my right dominant arm is flaccid. Doesn’t matter, lots of people in wheelchairs have jobs… My previously agreed upon recovery plan was to apply for government funding for the severely handicapped and stay in hospital continuing to recover and receive treatment till the funding arrived, then see where I was going to go, an institution probably, assisted living, where someone wipes your ass at worst, or set up my own home at best. I mean this nazi social worker hadn’t even read my file, she was a former welfare intake worker whose job it was to reject folks, with a holy zeal. This I knew how to deal with, having grown up in the welfare system. These types of bullies are common and revert to their sycophantic ways in the presence of authority, in this case the Doc who ran the unit, making a proclamation that it wouldn’t be appropriate to send me to the single men’s hostel. He knew me as a professional artist, making me the same class of professional as him, the welfare worker knew me as a labourer, my day gig at the time, self employed courier of meds to patients from the hospital. The system warehoused working class people regularly, on foam mats on the floor, side by side, in neat rows, puking from a nights drinking of Listerine. I first experienced real compassionate care when I met Arlo Guthrie the folk singer. His Mom had started the Huntington’s Society after her husband Woody Guthrie and his siblings and kids died of this genetic degenerative terminal brain disease. His Aunt woke up one day and decided to set the kids on fire. Brain diseases are like that. I knocked on his bus at the folk fest where I was volunteering with my wife with Huntington’s disease. Hi we’re with the Huntington’s Society…C’mon in! Turns out he was mainly an aids worker in NY, touring a bit, and making sure he made time to spend with folks who were lonely and scared and hurting. He wasn’t asking for anything in return, he already had it, he was giving it to himself. And now since that fateful and loving dental appointment, so am I.
I sent a friend request to Angela Gadley yesterday. She had been suggested by the Facebook AI. William Gibson’s cyberpunk world of the corporate and sentient AI has arrived. She mentioned in a post ‘animal slaves’, a term I used in my profile on a dating site. The thinking being that if your pet has to be ‘good for something’ then so does your man, your art, and worst of all you. It just so happened that I was expounding on this to a friend with a farming background earlier in the day. He was surprised that my cat doesn’t have to have a ‘job’, he is a cat. Then I said treat your self the same way. Unconditional acceptance. When I did suicide prevention counselling, the common cognitive distortion, almost always ingrained by religion btw, was that we must have a purpose a meaning to life, then of course the religion provided that, for a price. They would give us little jobs to do, usually fund raising through evangelical activities, spreading the word of corporate religious greed. When I had fewer options I sold my photoshop and writing skills to the advertising execs, who seeing the financial value of the same strategy, an anxiety based ‘call to action’, used it in order to sell everything from tampons to cigarettes. OK now I’m using the same strategy to hurt myself daily. Why? I had a stroke, so what am I good for? To counteract this daily I remind myself I don’t need a job, a girlfriend, a life of travel, conditions du jour. I won’t die without that highly preferable stuff. That ‘need’ is treating myself like an animal slave, I have to be ‘good for something’. which creates consequences of daily anxiety, which can lead to depression and suicide. Or I can work instead to accept myself without condition, and stubbornly refuse to upset myself. If I had a stroke then I had a stroke, I’m not going to make myself crazy about this with the self defeating consequences of shame embarrassment guilt and anxiety, that come from saying I must have a purpose and now I don’t, so therefore I’m useless. I am and will be using the motivating self helping emotions of sadness, regret, concern, annoyance and disappointment to get my ass to the gym, make art because it pleases me, sing loudly because I’m really ‘no good’ at it, and I don’t have to be, talking to strangers, asking for what I want, applying for teaching jobs because I like to have the money to spend, grants and art shows too, in other words everything I ever liked to do, that’s fun and self helping. My friend Will Ross whom I met online on FB while he was dying of liver cancer, found great satisfaction in teaching REBT psychology (which what this post is), and asking ‘what good can I make of this?’ when life’s problems arrived to be solved or be put up with. This is a guilt attacking exercise. I get to do all the things I love to do, that I couldn’t do because I had to go to work and be good for something, as well as pay the rent. Recently, my stroke doctor said I was fired, I have reached a plateau of recovery, he thinks, and should not expect huge improvement now. He agreed I will never play guitar again and should sell it. Two women friends, one online and one not, said they were too busy to pursue any kind of relationship, friends or otherwise, essentially I am not a priority, whatever the ‘good for something’ reason was in their heads. So, what good can I make of this? Same old same old….talk to strangers, meet nicer friends, ask for what I want, exercise, eat healthily, apply for gigs, do things that are satisfying, like putting waffles on Dawn Eyland’s (whom I love like a sister) head. Being accepted by doctors and potential lovers, or not, describes them, not me, it’s their set of conditions. I don’t plan on having any conditions on myself, if I ‘need’ a job, or a purpose or meaning in my life I’ll use that. Unconditional acceptance of myself, of you, and the universe, just like my cat, those don’t need a job, they are just fine the way they are. In constant sorrow, sure, and perpetual satisfaction, if I choose. And I do.