Sunday, February 27, 2005


I'd asked a friend who cut his hair. The local
barber. So that gave me courage. When we rented
a car, the man at Enterprise told me of his
local barber. So I decided to not go to Coupe
Bizarre or any of the sixty dollar stylists.
I'd cross the street to Kosutnjak. Polish?
Two chairs, one man, watching The Price is Right.
The photos of men on the walls were from
1972. They had that blue quality, where the
sun has leeched out all of the red. The barber
was barely five feet tall. You'll have to sit
a little further down, he said. Pushing me
down. A little further.
Bad idea, I thought. This will be terrible.
He started cutting my hair dry. You want it
short? Yes. This short? Shorter. I closed
my eyes. Bob Barker was saying this is the first
time in thirty-five years that two contestants
have bid the same price. The sound of Bob
Barker reminds of sick days at school.
Now he wets my hair a little. There is shape
happening. I am getting a sharecropper's look.
This is good, I can begin to look like Jack
Dempsey. Then an electric razor. And the final bit: he
unsheathes a straight razor. Have I ever had a
man skin me with a straight razor? Should there
be a warning? That's a lot of hair, he said.
You should have come in three months ago.
It's a lovely job, too much work for
thirteen dollars.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

At the gym

I help a man with his combination
lock. He's never used one. And I can
see how difficult it is if youve
never opened one. Clockwise to the
first number, then counter-clockwise
and past that number to your second number.
Then clockwise to the last. It's not
easy to remember. I can see his mind
working, how humble it was of him
to ask. Being taught a task children
learn. And also, his trust -- he
gave me his combination.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

What happens when you win an award

We chose the little airport to fly to Ottawa.
White-headed ducks scooting away from the one minute
ferry. We land in fifty-eight minutes. We skate
on the dark Rideau, share a hot chocolate that
is from a machine that reminds us of childhood.
My shins are burning from the effort. We have
a king size bed. Now that's a lot of bed. Though
a square bed isnt as appealing as a rectangular
bed, visually. I dont know if I could live
with a square bed. Perhaps you can get a king
with an extra foot of length. A tall king.
The pool. It is tiled and words like STEPS
are spelled out in tile masaic. Copper lamps
above deck chairs. This is the Chateau Laurier,
which I refuse to call the Fairmont. Fairmont
has bought the Savoy in London. But you dont
see them shoving the word "Fairmont" in from
of Savoy. The dry sauna is hot wood, how much
scent can something contain? The scent of hot
wood. A meal at Sweetgrass. I have tatonka, a
slice of buffalo. Marvelous. The entire meal
is simple and well-prepared and tasty and fresh.
And there is no music. Just the healthy talk
of men and three women. This is all right, isnt
it. Yes it's pretty good. Oliver Jones plays
Oscar Peterson's Hymn to Freedom. He has juicy
fingers and his piano seat is upholstered leather.
And then several martinis in big heavy glasses.
A friend takes us to a studio where a man is
painting. He is painting buildings sitting on
an acre of dark land that is on fire at
the horizon. We drink wine our man has brought
with him. I am falling asleep with these
buildings pounding into my head. They are
beautiful, strong buildings full of yellow
This morning room service. Poached eggs and
tea. When youre hungover it's tea. The table
arrives, a point of it touching the king
size bed. It's all in the hot box.
What else. One last tour of Parliament.
Theyve added a party of women drinking
tea to the snow garden. There are stray wild
cats sitting on the throat of a man
as he eats lunch on a bench.

Monday, February 21, 2005

What Happened at the US Consulate

All night the snow decamped. It pitched
its tents on all the vacant roads. I put
out two old chairs, and they sat on
the sidewalk and the snow filled them.
The snow turned the chairs into pelmets
for snow trophies. This morning, in the
height of a snow that could cover
Napoleon's army, I took a streetcar
to the US Consul. A flat building that
they wish now was further from the street.
I opened the door for a woman pushing a
stroller up the handicapped access.
Okay, thank you. Then louder, from
behind the door, THANK YOU. A stern
voice, a security guard has the
door. He is telling me, if you do not
let go of the door, I will have to
break your arm quietly.
(To the lady with stroller): Do you
have a cellphone.
Lady: Yes.
You can't come in here with a cellphone.
God knows how many blocks she pushed
that baby. She wheeled around and pushed
(To me): Is there coffee in that cup?
Me: Yes.
So, coffee and cellphones are not allowed
in the US Consul. If you happen, like me,
to be applying for a US tax exemption number.
I did not beep through the x-ray, but
he wanded me anyway. Show me, he said,
your belt buckle.
I put my hands to my waist.
Take your hands, he said, off the belt.
When I got home, the chairs were
still there. They looked like minor
sculptures from a poorly attended Quebec
City winter carnival.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Reading porn at the Drake

How did it happen, that I'd witness a man
arousing another man, and a woman, on
the bed of a crashpad at the Drake Hotel?
When he mentioned the nub. It was the nub
that did it. The man rolled and rubbed his
partner. Or is she his partner. Do they know
each other. Security arrives, like a flying
Panamanian ant. Security ignores the
arousal. Security is sniffing out
a lit cigarette. In one room there's Howard
Hughes, another has John and Yoko in bed.
A woman sits on a cabinet and
delivers a monologue between
her legs. At least the voice feels like
it is coming out of her thighs. There is a
movie star in the lobby. There are legit
smokers warming themselves at kerosene
lamps on the plastic wrapped deck. A woman
in a long gilt skirt sips a martini like
a duchess, until a man in distressed jeans
and tuxedo jacket leans his hipbone into
her elbow. A woman in a red tshirt surprises
me with her voice and the arrangement of
her teeth. She is beautiful in the way
that an outboard motor is beautiful.