Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Shortest Way Home

It turns out Boti was Roble’s uncle and that they shared the cab we were in. Roble had come to City Hall to pick his uncle up and had been in the auditorium when the commotion began. That’s why he was there to rescue me. Actually I was rescued twice today. I’m getting lazy. It’s my turn now. Uncle Boti, I already thought of him that way, graciously offered to drop Fagette and I off at my place. I said we could pay but he wouldn’t hear of it.

“Don’t be so obstreporous Mr. Buddy. Your daughter must be dropped off immediately. She’s been through such tremendous stress.”
“ I feel great.” piped up Fagette.”
“That’s just the shock talking. I should know. I’ve been in shock more times than George Chuvalo. My god, even in retirement, he’s a punching bag. And she’s not my daughter. She’s my niece.”
“Even better “ he chirped. We are both uncles then. I think we shall be great friends.”
“I think we shall too.” I said.

I stared about the cab taking in all the colourful occupants, There was Uncle Boti, the chess champion of Somalia in the driver’s seat, Vanessa the fierce baby dyke riding shotgun in a cocoanut bra, and in the back on the right, Roble, the fighting film maker from the Horn and the story’s romantic love interest. Beside him, sat Fagette, my niece from the provinces with the work ethic of Cinderella but none of the airs , snug in the middle, a hand on both our thighs, and then of course, me on the left, no description needed, right by the trigger, I suddenly knew that I would know these people for the rest of life. Everyone except the last guy.

“So where do you live my friend? ” Uncle Boti asked me.
“Oh, uh, 44 Ranleigh.” I said, coming out of my reverie.
“ I apologize. I don’t know where that is as I am only been driving for one week “ he replied.
“Okay, we go down Yangtze until we get to Victoria, I mean Charles, then we take a left and we go six blocks, maybe more, it’s about a mile, well you stay on it until you get to Lincoln, where you take a right I think…“
“No no no.” said Vanessa“
“No?” I said.
“I have a better way” she helpfully suggested.
“Um, I think I know how to get to my own home. After all I actually live there.” I helpfully suggested back.
“How long?” she asked snarkily.
“A month.” I replied brightly. She jumped out of her seat and punched the air.
“I knew it. “ She turned around in her seat and thrust her face towards mine and yelled, “Suckah.” Then she turned back to Uncle Boti and began to bark directions at him.
“Turn right at Crandle, go three blocks to Slurry where you go left, go two blocks, turn left at the Bargain Pickle onto Ranleigh and it should be there about three doors in on the…left..”
Uncle Boti looked at me in the rearview mirror for guidance.
“Let’s let the driver decide.” I said.
Boti, a diplomat at heart, began slowly like he was approaching a cobra to kiss on the head.”
“Well, obviously the person whose destination it is, should probably know the most appropriate way to get there but that is not always the case. However that is not to say that the other gentleman doesn’t have a point.”
“I’m not a gentleman. I’m a dyke.”
“Well then in that case, you win.” he said, stepping on the gas,
” I hope everybody’s got their passports and a change of clothes. We might be away for a few days.” I said.
“We’re here.” Said Boti.

I looked outside. Sure enough we were..
“I told you.” gloated Vanessa.
“Actually we’re on the other side of the street.” I countered.
Boti made as if to do a U-turn but I stopped him.
“That’s not necessary Uncle Boti. Fagette and I will just rush across two lanes of rush hour traffic.”
“Don’t be foolish” he said, wheeling the cab around and depositing us on the correct side of the street. .
“At least someone’s got manners.” I said.
“I think someone’s forgetting that I saved their ass.” said Vanessa.
“You should have saved your own. It needs it more.” I replied.
She came at me from the front seat but of course the partition stopped her. She continued to hammer away at it anyway. I turned to Roble to say goodbye.

“Will she be all right?”
“She’ll be fine. She really likes you.”
“I like her too. She’s got a pretty face.”
We both turned to look at Vanessa as she pressed her face against the glass and mouthed an obscenity.
“I had a really wonderful time.” I said, taking his hand.
“Me too ” he said, putting his other one over it like a shell game.
“I’d like to see you again. ” either one of us said.
“Me too ” we both replied.
Then he handed me a card. It was for his cab company ‘The Horn’. “This is the number of the cab company. Call us. There’s only me and Uncle. Goodnight Fagette.”

He kissed her on the top of the head and she kind of bobbled it like a penguin who just got a delicious chill. Then she threw her arms around him and hugged him. The door was suddenly yanked open from outside. Vanessa was standing there laughing.
“I gotta hand it to you, you are one funny motherfu..’
She looked at Fagette and stopped midword.
“ker” said Fagette.
“Well, we must go.” I said.

Vanessa suddenly hugged me. “Take care Buddy. I got your back.” Then she released me and got back in the cab and we watched them as they drove away. When they were out of sight, I asked Fagette a question.
“Where did you learn that word?”
“Rita is my mother’ she replied…

To be continued…

Gabcast! ewe #26 - Lesbians on the Rise

Lesbians are on the rise and Mouth Congress is there to witness all the action. Join us as we join them unless you're them in which case, join us as we join you.


Monday, February 12, 2007


There was a scuffle at the back of the auditorium and then the door flew open and a couple of people ran out with several others hot on their trail. Over at the mike Ali and the Italian were fighting while Ali’s wife tried to pull them apart. An Ipod went flying over the Mayor’s head and smashed into the back wall. Nelly Furtado’s ‘Promiscuous Girl’ came blasting out. Fernando just stood there in tears as his life’s work blew up in his face.

“I think it’s time to go” I said to Fagette and took her hand and proceeded to try to drag her away from the unfolding spectacle. If she’d been a little older I might have let her stay but she was only ten. Just because I was involved in a riot when I was ten doesn’t mean she can. As I clutched her slippery hand I made a mental note to see about botox shots in her palms the next visit.

When we reached the top of the steps I noticed a group of black thugs hanging out by the door with figure skates looped around their necks. Oh no, a group of ne’er do well pleasure skaters who couldn’t get ice time, looking to blow off some steam on a law-abiding citizen fleeing a racial disturbance. This couldn’t end well. They stared at my bright plumage with envy thinking no doubt about how great I would look whirling around on the ice.

As we passed, one of them said to Fagette “ Yo peewee, is that a balloon you’re holding?” His friends laughed cockily. I spun on my Cuban heel and faced the ‘funny man’. “Oh I’m sorry…Desmond.” I said, taking a stab in the dark.” “I didn’t recognize you. I’m so used to just hearing you crying on the phone.” A couple of his posse sniggered. He took a step towards me. “How do you know my name is Desmond.” Lots of research in the field, I thought but said nothing. He moved in and put his face right into mine, and then whispered two words that have filled Jamaican gays with dread for years. No not gra ma, batti boy, which is Jamaican for faggot. “Sorry” I said “But my name is not Batti although my middle name is Boy and my last name is Ohboy.”

That did it. He pushed me and I flew back against the steps. When I picked myself up he was coming at me with his skates held high, guards off. I braced myself for the Trial. Then suddenly there was a white and brown blur and he went down. Something that looked like the Tasmanian Devil from Bugs Bunny moved through the crowd of thugs knocking them down like bowling pins. The blur came to a stop slowly and as it stopped spinning I realized it was a person and not just a person but Roble Shabirrap the gorgeous and funny cab driver from before. He came over to me where Fagette was brushing me off.

“We meet again.” I said.
“We do.”
“Thank you for what you did. What was that you did? ”
“It’s a form of martial arts derived from the movements of ‘whirling dervishes’. A lot of dervishes were gay so they had to learn to defend themselves much like the slaves of Brazil created capoeira as a form of self defence out of traditional African dance.”
“That’s an awfully long speech to make when someone’s creeping up behind you.” I said. ,
“Excuse me.” He spun once and sunk his heel into the stomach of the encroaching punk..
“So are you a Sufi? “ I asked.
“I am.”
“Is that Muslim?”
“Yes but with dancing and magic.”
“Sounds good.”
And you?” he asked. ”What’s your faith?”
“Lapsed Catholic. You know what they say? Better lapsed than prolapsed.”
He looked at me like my rectum had actually fallen out on the floor. I tried to explain but he put his finger on my lips.
“No time. It’s crazy out there. We have to go.”

He picked up Fagette and then pushed me through the doors. He was right. The madness had spread. If it was chaos inside, outside it was bedlam. We looked around for a way through the crowd. Suddenly a large group of people on skates surged towards us and I almost went down under the flashing blades. Suddenly there was someone with an awful lot of bare pink skin blocking our way and helping me from falling. It was a big bull dyke with a Mohawk, big blue eyes, a giant demonstrative ass and the face of a china doll. The effect was like a beautiful flower growing out of a cinder block. The vision addressed me in a gruff voice.

“My name’s Vanessa. Come on.”
“My names…”
“I know who you are. Come with me.”
“Wait a minute. I don’t know who you are.”
“Do as she says Buddy ” said Roble. She’s a friend of mine. We have to get Fagette out of this.” I noticed that she was trembling and not from the cold because she doesn’t really feel it. My heart went out to her. Then I looked over at Roble who had a far away look on his face as he surveyed the madness. I touched his arm comfortingly. “Are you thinking of Black Hawk Down?”
“No. Come on, let’s go.”

Then Vanessa turned and went into a football stance, screamed ‘Charge’ and then did just that. No one could stand up to her. We followed behind in her wake. Finally we were at the street where there was a cab waiting. The door flew open and we all piled in. Vanessa snapped to the driver. “Let’s get out of here. Move it.” “Yes sir,” said the familiar looking driver. He turned around to greet us and I saw that it was Boti Dhalida the chess champion from the council meeting…

To be continued…


Disorder in the Court

When we looked back at the mike, a skinny old black man with a forehead you could project a movie on and dressed like Roble was now speaking. “My name Is Boti Dhalidad ” he said. “I am a Somali chess champion.“ A ripple ran through the crowd. “For many years since I have come to this country I have looked for a place to play outdoor chess with my friends. When I came across the table in Portutalia Park a year ago with my friend Ali…” At this point his friend Ali, a goggly eyed Arab man with a wet and droopy moustache jumped up and waved awkwardly at the crowd. Boti gently pressed him back down and a woman in a veil, presumably his wife, smacked him on the arm. Boti continued.

“We thought we had found the answer to our prayers so we immediately sat down and began to play. Many pleasant hours passed until we were satiated at last. Finally it came time to leave and Ali and I were packing up when this gentleman…” He indicated the Italian spokesman. “…came by and told us to move on, that it was their table and so on and so on. I was amenable as we were already on our way but Ali was not. Ali is more excitable as he is originally from Kenya… “ Ali’s wife smacked him again. “… and his wife is from Ethiopia…” Ali’s wife smacked Boti who just smiled and went on. “ Ali began to argue with the disagreeable man and it soon turned into an altercation of a physical nature, albeit with two old men, so no real damage was done. All of us said things that day that we regret…” At this point the Italian put his head down in shame. “… but that is in the past. Now the question is, what do we do?”

“May I? ” said Fernando. Boti stood aside graciously and gave him the floor.
“Why doesn’t everyone share the table?”
The crowd started to babble excitedly.
“What did he mean?” cried a Korean grocer with excema.
“I don’t understand ” shrieked the President of the Functional Schizophrenics Society.
“Is the boy insane?” whispered an expectant Lesbian to her doula.

“Silence! Silence!” bellowed Pearl Jewel. The Mayor banged her gravel. “Yes, exactly. Silence, as Councillor Jewel suggested. ” She looked over at Pearl who pretended to study the edge of the desk. The room settled down and the cuckolded mayor continued. “Thank you. Any more outbursts like that and we’ll have to clear the court.” Oh my god, she thinks she’s a judge. Poor thing’s losing it. Better watch out Madame Mayor, there’s a human truck in stretchy pants who’s got your gavel with her name on it.

“How could we do what you propose young man?” said the Mayor. “It’s always been a 50/50 split. Half and half. That makes sense. How would you divide it into three? It’s too complicated.”
“Why not let everybody have it a third of the day ” he suggested.
“What do you mean?” asked the Mayor. “ There’s only morning and afternoon. That’s two periods not three. It would never work. We must set up a committee.”
“What about if we went from eight to eleven, the Italians from eleven to two and the Somali’s from two to five ” said Fernando.

The Mayor comtemplated his outrageous suggestion as the crowd waited expectantly for her considered reaction. Before she could reply the Italian stepped back to the mike.

“Perhaps the Somali community could play after six ” he said. “Let the Africans play at night, is that what you’re suggesting Sir?” asked Boti, a definite edge in his voice.
“What’s wrong with that?” he said defensively.
“That’s all we need, the park filled with blacks at night ” came a voice from the back of the room.
“What’s the difference?’ yelled someone else from the dark.
“They’ll be there legally! “ hollered back the voice of the first man.
“Who said that?” Pearl Jewel had jumped out of her seat and looked like she was about ready to blow not just her stack but the stack of all her ancestors. The Mayor began to bang her gavel but to no avail. Pearl started to scan the crowd for the perpetrators. Then Victor Picklesly her assistant scuttled over to her side and placed his palm on her tiny arm and immediately all the anger seemed to drain out of her. She sat down and began to play with her Blackberry. Then Victor took his hand off her arm and drifted back to his place in the backroom shadows. The Mayor continued to bang her stupid stick screaming “Order! Order in the Court.”

To be continued…


They call him Fernando

Finally the case of the disputed chess table came up. The Mayor Susan St. Cyr, a hardworking member of the old liberal guard who had ruled the fractious city with deadly dull diligence for years and had the round shoulders to prove it, got up and read the soul sucking details of the case. Fagette drank it all in hungrily taking notes the whole time in a little notebook. The case boiled down to the fact that for years in the ward in question, a roughly 50/50 enclave of Italians and Portuguese, they have shared the communal chess table in Portutalia Park with the understanding that the Portuguese have it in the morning and the Italians have it in the afternoon. The problem that has arisen is that in the last decade the population of both groups has declined and each side, thinking that their numbers have remained the same and the others have declined, say they should have more table time and thus the tussle.

The leader of the Italian faction, an old man with snow white hair and a beautiful voice took the mike. He spoke sonorously for twenty minutes about how the Italians have always been ahead of the Portuguese in accommodating to the ways of the city from the temporary moratorium on wrought iron in the seventies to the emergency town hall meeting in 1986 on paving lawns and finally the ban on cock fighting in 2006 and that obviously nothing had changed seeing as his ‘esteemed opponents’ were so English challenged that they had to have a little boy speak for them. A gasp went up from the crowd. A moment later after the Portuguese boy translated for them a gasp went up from the old Portuguese men. The dapper Italian tenor finished by saying that since there were hardly any Portuguese left in the neighbourhood now anyway, the Italians should have the table for 2/3 of the day. As he returned to his seat a ripple of unease ran through the crowd.

The crowd suddenly fell silent as the Mayor banged her gavel and called for order. Seemingly surprised that it had actually worked she then fiddled with her papers and cleared her throat one too many times, finally calling the name of Fernando Oliviero to the microphone. I leaned over to Fagette?
“Who do you think that is?” I asked.
“The Portuguese boy. Who else? ”
“Oh of course.”

The Portuguese boy came walking down the stairs towards the mike. Fagette clutched my arm and stared intently at him as he walked by her in his blue bicycle shorts and yellow lycra racing top. I leaned over and whispered to Fagette.
“He looks like he’s about to receive the ‘Tour de France”
“Non, le prix de Nobel.”
“Vraiment? Quelle sujet?”
“Paix” she breathed. “Paix.”

The Nobel Prize for Peace. That’s my girl. She knows that’s the only award worth getting, that and ‘Miss Congeniality’ at Miss Universe and oh sure it would have been nice to have won a Clio for my modelling work in commercials. I came close with the ‘Juicy Mango Jeans’ campaign but the controversy over the bum pads ruined that, even though I was completely vindicated in the end. As for the Portuguese boy, he actually looked like he was receiving the Academy Award for Best Actress but I wanted to spare her that for now. She was obviously the type that would fall for one gay boy after another until she finally got it right. All in good time.

“Uncle Buddy, do you think Fernando looks gay?”
“His name’s Fernando?”
“Yes. Why can’t you remember his name?”
“Because a Portuguese boy named Fernando broke my heart when I was your age and I don’t want it to happen to you too.”
“It won’t. It’s a different time now.”
“That’s what Fernando said. “
“You still haven’t answered my question?”
“Oh that. Absolutely not.” I insisted. “All boys look a little gay. That’s why we can’t be Scout leaders. It’s not the boys they’re afraid for. It’s us.”

The Portuguese boy took the mike and began to speak, enunciating every word like it was a spelling bee. He began by telling the history of the stone table, how sixty years ago when the Italians and Portuguese first began arriving in the city, they settled this part of it and how they had lived together in peace for years until one hot day in June 1968, a love affair between a Portuguese girl and an Italian boy from two rival dance schools erupted into a full scale dance riot. Sixty young men lost their wallets that day and over seventy women had their skirts twirled over their heads by strangers. Many of the dancers suffered severe hamstring damage and up to a quarter of them damaged their knees so badly they would never dance again. After the carnage cleared the leaders of the two dance gangs made a vow that never again would rhythmic movement get between these two basically sedentary Mediterranean peoples and that from here on in this would be a place of sit down competition. So they turned the small stone dance platform into a chess table and the rest is history.

Then he went somewhere no one could have seen coming. He said if it is known to be true that both groups have suffered great population losses then it stands to reason that there must be a third group to have filled the gap and who would that be and shouldn’t they also have a right to the table? The room fell silent even though it was already extremely quiet. Nobody had even thought of what the boy said. Sure, everyone knew that for the last few years thousands of Somali’s had settled in the area but the last census had been a generation ago and so they didn’t exist on paper which is what really matters. And more importantly did they even play chess? Big questions.

The Mayor began to shuffle her papers like big floppy cards. Pearl Jewel looked down at her breasts. Her assistant, a nervous bald white man called Victor Picklesly, looked over at her breasts. I looked down at Fagette and thankfully saw no breasts. She looked up at me and her chest caught the light in such a way that it looked like she was starting to get breasts and I moved my head forward so the light was like before and she leaned forward to see what I was doing which made me lean forward more until we were both leaning right over the backs of the people who were sitting in front of us. We both started to laugh. Pearl Jewel looked over again and wrote something down on a notepad. Interesting.

When we looked back at the mike, a skinny old black man with a forehead you could project a movie on and dressed like Roble was now speaking…

Gabcast! ewe #25 - Hindu Rap

Buddy and Sal Surroundo drop acid and channel two Indian rappers who sing about the Kama Sutra and all things subcontinent sextastic. Rob Voltage and Grooz Patterson are along for the ride and make it fast and fiery all the way down with large doses of peppery guitar and gut wrenching bass topped off with crackling papadums of sonic fury. During this legendary session one of Sal's protege's, a wiry lad with a flair for the beatbox named Pippin, overdosed and ended up applying for a job in a bank and getting it. That was the end of the Summer of Dreads.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pearl Jewell

When we got to City Hall there was already a large crowd of people lined up outside to get in and they were getting quite unruly so I reached down and took Fagette’s hand. It was wet as usual so I wiped it down on my sleeve and then took her hand again. I couldn’t believe that people would line up to see a council meeting. I have no idea what’s hip anymore. It was like the other day when I was walking past the Planetarium and there was a lineup around the block for Laserium although there’s a good chance I dreamt that.

I asked Fagette if she was excited about seeing the Portuguese boy and realized she wasn’t there. I looked around and couldn’t see her anywhere. Finally after looking frantically all over the place I found her holding my other hand. I’d gotten confused when I’d wiped her down.

“Why didn’t you say something?” I asked her in my best loving yet slightly scolding mother voice.
“ I was scared" she said. You go so fast, eh. I thought I was going to fly off.”
“I was worried.”
“I know. I’m sorry” she said.
“It’s not your fault. It’s this crazy crowd. It’s crazy. Why do you think there’s so many people here for a council meeting?”
“No Uncle Buddy, they’re here to skate.”
“Oh my God, there’s a rink.”

I hadn’t even noticed. I sometimes don’t register large sporting structures. I see them as something nice which explains the time I ended up at Maple Leaf Gardens years ago taking a bath at center ice. “We go in this door here.” she said, pointing to a door where a few people were straggling through. That was more like it.

Inside the chambers, it was just like I’d envisioned, an arena style auditorium with seating for about five hundred people, a long table shaped like a crescent on the stage, and a microphone set up about halfway up the steps in the middle aisle. The meeting had just begun and so we hustled over to some seats in the back. There were about sixty people there. Many of them looked mentally ill. I mean who else can afford to take the afternoon off to go watch a bunch of boring people talk about garbage disposal and broken stop lights. It’s probably the highlight of their day, poor things.

“Isn’t this exciting?” I said to Fagette.
“Yes, very.” A disheveled looking blonde woman with six inch roots and a visible egg stain on her blouse approached the microphone and began to speak .
“Look at her,” I whispered to Fagette conspiratorially. “She looks like she got dressed in a shoe.”
“Ssh.. Let’s listen.”

I’d been shushed. I’d never been shushed before or at least I’d never not reacted badly to it. There was still time. I felt a little hand on my neck. Oh my god, she’s trying to strangle me! I looked down and she was looking up at me with the sweetest smile. My hauteur melted. She took her hand away and then put it on my knee and squeezed it like a tiny grandmother. Oh my god, this kid was dangerous. When she took it away I noticed my knee was damp and I managed to not flinch. If my old life hadn’t already slipped away, I would have said that I felt my old life slip away.

The woman at the mike started complaining about a neighbour who lived next door to her. Her neighbour had lived there for years and they hadn’t done anything new like build a fence or a hedge or comb their grass over their yard but she just had a feeling that they were closer. “For God’s sakes it feels like they’re right next door ” she kept repeating. The best part was the entire council actually heard her out, well past the point where a normal person would have pulled out a gun and given her one warning shot. Finally the councilor from Ward 11, Pearl Jewell, a massive black woman with tiny hands and feet, too tight braids and no patience for silly white women had had enough. When the woman started to whine about how she could hear her neighbour talking inside their house when she went out into her yard and listened, Pearl struck out. She stood up and told her to sit down and stop wasting their time and she did, right there on the steps. Fagette and I laughed and Pearl looked up at us and I felt like I'd been slapped...

Gabcast! ewe #24 - Wind in my Belly

The song 'Wind in my Belly' was recorded in one take in the basement of Sal Surroundo's sister Aviva during the Christmas holidays in 1989. The lead vocals are none other than my brother Gaston who was visiting with his fiance Gabrielle at the time. There was a lot of drinking and one thing led to another and before you knew it the weekend turned into one long jam session. Many songs were recorded that weekend by Gaston and Gabrielle. The period was known as the Breakup Sessions because by the end of that weekend they were no longer engaged and Gaston was no longer straight.