Friday, November 11, 2016


Baruch Dayan Ha’emet.
I can’t say anything here about Leonard Cohen that won’t be said and written on his brilliance for years to come. So I give this space to Cohen’s mentor and friend Irving Layton, who helped him get his first book of poems, ๐˜“๐˜ฆ๐˜ต ๐˜œ๐˜ด ๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜”๐˜บ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ด, published in 1956. The two men each, in his own way, helped establish Montreal at a city of poetry and art. It was probably a complicated relationship; how could a friendship between poets not be? But it survived until Layton’s death in 2006. Leonard Cohen read Layton’s The Graveyard at the funeral. In the end, all that’s left are the words.
͏๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ง๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—ฃ๐—ผ๐—ฒ๐˜ by Irving Layton (1964)
He affirmed life.
He affirmed it as though it were an extraordinary
rock melon, ripe,
and his discovery.
And with yelps of gladness
he affirmed the brave toilers;
he affirmed the martyrs
whose burning flesh
sizzled hosannahas.
In despair
of ever equalling the courage
he had himself endowed them with
he stepped thoughtfully
before a chauffeur-driven car.
To the end
he praised the beautiful courage
of workers and martyrs,
and expiring at the finish
of a long siren screech
died as he had lived
affirming life.

Monday, June 13, 2016

10 Things I Hate About You

It’s surely simplistic to suggest that a violence epidemic is the result of this, or the result of that; there are myriad factors in cahoots with each other. But I will say this: a political party or religion or social movement which condones the marginalization of one group can’t be surprised when others do the same.
Overlooking antisemitism in Europe, for example, has meant a proliferation of attacks against more groups because people who discriminate aren’t usually that picky; they hate everyone. Denying rights to LGBT people in the U.S. has sent a message that some people are inferior and don’t deserve equal human rights. That’s an easy launchpad for someone already predisposed by a mental illness or a belief system that advocates violence as an acceptable means of surmounting an obstacle.
That’s how marginalization works, spreading within and without, like mold in a wall. It’s also hypocrisy’s home port, and there’s nothing sicker than the sorry sobs of bigots and opportunists who would just as likely cheer if it been their own bรชte noire against the wall.
Yes, the victims in Orlando were targeted because they were gay; but, more importantly, they were targeted because they were different - different than the madman who took the readily available rationalization of marginalization to the next level. But, here’s the thing. I’m different, too. And if you think about it, so are you. The fact is we’re all on someone’s hit list, as long as anyone's intolerance is condoned.
Frankly, that scares the living daylights out of me.