Saturday, September 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011/Monday, August 29, 2011
LAMENT FOR JACK LAYTON AND A DYING SUMMER
By Philip Cairns
Copyright 2011 by Philip Cairns
On this late August early evening,
The chill of the coming fall
Bites into my bare legs.
A shivering, icy chuck of detritus sits in my taut gut,
Refusing to be evacuated.
Too much activity around me,
Distractions pulling me away from my churning insides.
The lake is frosty and haughty,
Refusing to comfort me and speak to my soul.
Sadness and regrets tear into my sombre, cold flesh.
Twenty-four hours ago,
I watched the TV news.
Jack Layton passed away.
This afternoon, I ran into a lefty comrade from the Co-operative Housing movement.
“I’d have to say he was one of the all-time great Canadians,” she said.
I believe he really cared about the people of Canada,
As every Canadian politician should.
He wasn’t in it for fame, money or fancy cars.
Jack used his power and charisma to help you and I.
To fight for justice and equality.
What a contrast to our current mayor, Rob Ford
Who is truly an international embarrassment.
A bad joke on the people of this city.
Ford just strikes me as someone slightly dim,
Drowning in water too deep for his shallow intellect.
I feel distraught because Canada has lost a truly unique individual.
At least I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.
It isn’t fair.
Sixty-one is far too young to exit this churning, desperate planet we call Earth.
The sky is turning incredible shades of blue and mauve
As the exhausted sun decides to rest for the day.
Geese feed on the grass all around me.
A seagull sits quietly,
All puffed up against the chill.
Small white boats waft by in the lake.
Runners and cyclists speed along,
Hoping to stay fit and healthy.
All I can say is thank you for your devotion and integrity.
Thank you for caring
And helping to make Toronto and Canada a better place to be.
I remember marching in the Labour Day parade,
Some summers ago.
We ended up prancing into the CNE grounds at the end of the day.
There was Jack and Olivia Chow in the stands,
Waving and smiling as we marched in
Wearing our light blue ACTRA T-shirts.
That’s how I will remember you.
Your smile and joyous energy, that day,
Was so encouraging and bright.
I felt proud to be an actor, a union member and a Canadian.
I will always keep that final image of you in my head.
You were forever on the side of the working people.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
THE 80s QUEEN WEST ART SCENE
By Philip Cairns
Copyright 2011 by Philip Cairns
Thinking back to the 80s art scene in Toronto.
So much talent and optimism
Gushing onto wet, vibrant canvasses and paper.
New faces, fresh ideas.
Figurative Expressionism was the order of the day.
Painters and writers living off Canada Council grants.
Money seemed more plentiful despite a tight Recession.
Packed, exciting openings,
Hot, spinning couples churning out babies and masterpieces.
Galleries and small theatre companies springing up like mushrooms.
Where have all those bright, new faces gone?
Purple, pink and iridescent gold oozing out of tubes of paint.
Queen Street and the Cameron House seemed to be the centre of things.
You could go to 80 Spadina,
Wandering from floor to floor,
Full of galleries crammed with incredible, visionary imagery.
Charmed and surreal lights shone down on us.
Exciting theatre and writers exploding all over us,
Like the money shot in a porno film.
Now, middle age has grabbed us by the throat.
Death claimed many.
Some retreated into teaching,
But still trying to keep the flame alive.
Chroma Zone birthed a lot of energetic life, back then.
No one knew what lay ahead.
We were all gonna become art stars,
With hot-shot dealers selling our work all over the world.
Getting grants till we puked.
Hanging in the Louvre.
I miss those shimmering golden days.
We were Picasso, Liz and Dick, Brangelina, Dali.
Some fell by the wayside and disappeared.
Creating art is an Escher labyrinth.
One needs Loreena McKennitt’s yin and yang to thrive.
You have to paint the Mona Lisa, Monet’s “Water Lilies” and then float it down the lake, as well.
Where is the Canadian “Vanity Fair” or “Interview” magazine to promote us?
Leaving MOCCA, today,
Seeing all that glorious work on the walls,
And Rae Johnson and Andy Fabo,
Took me back to the summer of 1984.
Leaving the opening of “Painting Beyond the Zone” at ARC Gallery on Queen West.
Some of the same people’s work on the walls.
Walking home in the hot, refreshing night.
I had stars in my eyes and glitter on my eyelids,
Despite my crappy little part time job
And dark, Spartan, sweltering apartment.
Images of paintings swirl all around me.
Time zooms by in an elastic instant.
A time tunnel is a tragic place.
We were all part of something special.
Struggling to surface.
Full of everything.
We thought we’d get it all.
Then life got in the way.
The real world opened the door a crack
And then rushed in, like a slow motion waterfall.
I miss seeing the light.
Life was a slurpy, wet Fudgesicle,
Oozing sugar and chocolate and wonder and hope.
Now things have changed.
Life just snuck in and throttled us while we were doing other things.