Why cities are wonderful – case file 2844197-a

Posted on August 20, 2010

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I am on holiday at present, which means that I’m spending a goodly amount of time working on various projects (new albums almost done, likewise with comic book, novel, film, and essay) mixed with lounging.  Last night I wandered over to Bridgehead on Elgin, with the intention of reading the Atlantic and generally living the high life.  Whoaaaa…  not so fast!  I met a new pal, a man whose name (offered to me only at the end of our lengthy chat) I promptly forgot.  It might be Gary.  Maybe.

I sat down, and he casually pointed to an article in the paper about Bob Chiarelli, and made a comment to the effect that it was a mistake.  I said little, but I knew I was hooked.  I have an amazing inability to escape conversations with wacky strangers; I’m a deer in the headlights, truly.  And so…  away we went!  Here’s what I learned:

  • Nikola Tesla developed a means by which to harness electricity at almost no cost, which the Obama administration is keeping under wraps.  This is semi-true.
Damn you Obama

President Obama, I curse you from the grave.

  • 95% of people are sleepwalking through life in “automatic mode”.  I love it when people make claims like this, as though everyone else on earth is hopelessly ignorant, yet somehow they have escaped this fate.
  • Nazis and communists are combining to destroy our civilization within the next 40 years.
  • There is a 6’8″ menacing Arab just up the street throwing pizza on the ground.  This in the context of his paper on immigration, that if only he could get it out there would really change things.
  • Some sheikh, whose name I forget, has predicted hydrogen power as the next big thing, and I should be patient.  He stressed throughout our 45 minute chat that hydrogen was coming.  This was important.

My favourite story though, was of him and some friends from a publishing company who visited a Hopi Indian community in the sixties and got “all fucked up on peyote” where the chief told him about a blue kachina doll that appeared to be extremely significant, like world ending type significant.  Kachina dolls figured very highly into our conversation and, it turns out, they are pretty cool.  Dig it:

Hopi kachina doll

But for some reason he was printing a painting of a kachina doll that he had made, with the intention of “sending it to Japan”.  Halfway through our time together he left to go to the copy shop next door and returned with a giant picture (probably 3 feet long) printed on canvas of a painting of a kachina doll.  It looked like this, to the best of my recollection:

Artist's impression of cow kachina destined for Japan. Actual picture much weirder.

People who work in print shops see some straaaaaange stuff, you can bet.  Hell, I’ve seen some strange stuff waiting in print shops for my decidedly non-strange stuff.  One of the weirder ones I saw recently was a guy who came in with a dot matrix printout of various characters that combined to make a picture of a foxy woman.  No clue.

I also learned about an episode where my man encountered some sufis with a duffel bag full of something.  They invited him to reach into the bag, and lo and behold it was full of diamonds.  One second later the bag disappeared into thin air, the sufis laughed and got on a Greyhound bus, and they were gone.  What the?

The fun part about these types of conversations is that they are peppered with just enough specific detail that there is no way they are entirely made up.  No chance!  The most entertaining part is asking a few questions and trying to parse fact from highly elaborated fiction.  It’s excellent mental exercise.  So if you see a guy at Bridgehead on Elgin, with a wicked orange comb-over, fake hair thing going on, and if he looks at you imploringly for just a second, open the floodgates.  Trust me, you’ll have a good time.  If I see him again I’ll try to do a proper interview and to record it, because his voice is awesome.

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