Thursday, 19 July 2018

HUMAN WRECKAGE

A New Driveway

Years ago shortly after I was married (for the first time), my wife and I purchased a set of Corningware saucepans. They were clear. I could watch water boil. I did.

Together Ann and I have done extensive work on our Edmonton home over the course of the past four or five years. We’ve done a lot of painting because we both love colour and we believe contrasting walls make a room more vibrant. I enjoy watching paint dry.

Between then and now I endured a modestly successful career in advertising. I was one of those people behind the curtain who ensured that some suit’s silly promises were actually delivered on time. When deadlines ticked down to minutes instead of hours I’d hover behind a harried graphic artist and ask, “If I keep looking over your shoulder, distracting you and offering my unsolicited input, will you work any faster?” If I got a laugh and was told to go pound sand, I figured everything was going to be okay.

Over the weekend our sunken, crumbling driveway was torn up by a zippy, water-bug bobcat, what was left of the asphalt peeled away like cream cheese icing from a slice of carrot cake. I was amazed by the expertise of the driver and dexterity of the dime-spinning machine. A crewman said, “Easy job, no re-bar.”

By the cocktail hour our drive way had become a shallow trench, about a foot deep. After the crew departed I fetched a spade and dug another hole in the churned earth and clay. I filled a re-sealable plastic bag with relics intended to confuse and confound future diggers. I included a hockey puck with chipped edges. A toy soldier from the lost platoon I discovered along the side of the house five years ago. A letter from the Montreal Expos to my last known Montreal address shilling season tickets and mini-packs for their 20th anniversary season and promising BASEBALL THAT FITS YOU LIKE A GLOVE. A figurine of the team’s orange, hairy mascot went into the bag along with a golf ball featuring the Montreal Canadiens CH sweater crest. The last item into the bag was a copy of my new novel The Garage Sailor. My fantasy is that the book will be rediscovered years from now, long after I’ve slipped this mortal coil, and be revered as a classic; it could happen.

Monday the forms were installed. A bed of coarse sand was tamped down in the bottom of the trench. A grid of re-bar was placed on top of that layer, wired together and then anchored to the foundation of the Crooked 9. When the cement mixer arrived Tuesday morning the crew went into overdrive even though they were mired in six inches of wet cement. The muck was poured, spread and smoothed at high speed taking into account the pad’s slope, angles of drainage and the placement of de-bossed seams to ease the stress of expansion and contraction. A remarkably precise operation to complete before the concrete begins to set; I admire people who are good at what they do.

Our new driveway requires 28 days to properly cure, become solid over my entombed bag of goodies. Ann and I have been aiding the process by watering the new surface twice daily. Doing nothing or very little requires a surprising amount of effort; still, it’s been incredibly rewarding thus far sitting around up on the front porch watching concrete harden.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

A FAN’S NOTES

My England and the World Cup

England will play Croatia this Wednesday in the World Cup semis. Black is white. Up is down. Set-pieces and penalty kicks.

I grew up in an idyllic Montreal neighbourhood. There was a park at the end of the street, three or four blocks wide and two deep. The summer red clay tennis courts were the foundation of the winter ice rinks. There was an unfenced baseball diamond where a well hit or misplayed ball could bounce its way onto the football field in deep left-centre. The football uprights were whitewashed iron, capital aitches. The field could easily be transformed into a rugby or soccer pitch. There was space enough for extra chalk lines atop the gridiron pattern, the uprights were already there for rugger and soccer netting could be attached to the bottom of the portion of the H.

The fellows who played rugby and soccer were not from the neighbourhood. They spoke with accents. English ones, mostly. These strange games shared characteristics with the ones I was trying to become better at: passing, play-making, attack the opponent’s goal and defend yours.

Dad’s father immigrated to Canada before the First World War. The family business, a near monopolistic haberdashery in Fishponds, a suburb of Bristol, UK, was disrupted by the introduction of a bus route into the city, and competition. Papa Moore settled in Montreal. He went to work for Bell Telephone. After company hours he earned his engineering degree at McGill, attending school in the evenings. Dad’s mother was born in Hove, near Brighton, UK, famous for its holiday pier. Her family owned a bakery. Nana was on holiday in Montreal when the First World War broke out. She didn’t go home again until 1968, a two week visit.

Canada’s only World Cup appearance was in 1986. Canada lost all of its group stage games and did not score a goal. The three of us watched a rather respectable one-nil defeat at the hands of the French in Nana’s and Papa’s apartment living room. Perhaps Canada would fare better four years hence? And judging from the way Mick and Keith spoke of one another in the music press, the Rolling Stones had obviously reached the end of the line. That particular tournament itself though lives on in infamy as England ceded a goal to Argentina, one guided into the net by ‘the hand of God.’

Around this time my first short story had appeared in a literary magazine. A second one had been accepted for publication. Still, my stack of rejection slips was thicker than the Montreal phone book. As a reader, I was immersed in the gritty world of post-war British fiction. Three titles still resonate some thirty-five years on, perhaps because they were sports oriented: Alan Sillitoe’s ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,’ David Storey’s ‘This Sporting Life’ and Brian Glanville’s collection of stories ‘Goalkeepers Are Crazy.’ Though the activities depicted were foreign to my experience, the insight into the universality of competition was not. These books in my library will outlive me.

Dad collected stamps his entire life. Another quiet, deskbound passion of his was digging around the roots of the Moore family tree. Dad wrote letters to various civic officials in English cities and towns seeking copies of official records. He’d enclose a modest money order to cover time spent on his behalf, usually five pounds. He managed to trace our family back to 1760, to one John Moore, a picture frame maker in Gloucester.

In 2005 my older brother, my older sister and I accompanied Dad to England. He was getting on. Since the early seventies the four of us had spent an exceedingly small amount of time together as a unit. Dad carried sheets of engineers’ graph paper filled with his precise printing. We had addresses for Moore family homes and businesses throughout the south of England: Bath, Brighton, Bristol, Fishponds, Gloucester, Hove and Salisbury. Dad of course had his own memories from previous visits and the war years spent in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Some of ‘our’ buildings were still intact, amazing given the passage of centuries and the Blitz aimed at factory towns and ports. We visited cousins and friends; we poked around graveyards seeking the resting places of ancestors.

During an afternoon lull in Gloucester I left the hotel we’d just registered at to investigate a Tesco store on the other side of a traffic roundabout. For the most part, my career in advertising had generally been intertwined with the grocery industry and the brands on the shelves. I was curious; I’ve always enjoyed walking up and down the aisles of grocery stores, especially those outside of Canada. There was a building beside the store with a kiddie playground, swings, slides, monkey bars, by its entrance. At first I thought it was a school or a daycare. I eventually realized it was a pub.

I went in. The space was jammed with people wearing either red or blue, and grey cigarette smoke. Children ran around shrieking or crawled along the floor. Madness. An October fixture between Chelsea and Liverpool. I ordered a pint, stood back and watched the fans watch their game. I felt as if I was inside Nick Hornby’s ‘Fever Pitch,’ a bookmark or a keepsake.

England is favoured over Croatia tomorrow. If that really meant anything they wouldn’t play the game and the betting shops wouldn’t offer odds that entice half their clientele to lay money to the contrary. Anything can happen. Yet there’s a giddy sense too that ‘anything’ has already happened: Argentina, Brazil and Germany, always favoured to advance, are out. England could reach the final and conceivably abscond with the country’s second World Cup. Given the current state of affairs in the old country, there’s no better time for a miracle.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

SAINTS PRESERVE US

Deliver Us

Years ago, before Hollywood devolved into a chum factory of sequels, when black and white television could not compete with it for eyeballs, most suburban households had a set of TV trays. Though eating in front of the television didn’t really compare to going to the movies, it nonetheless made for a pretty special evening. The meals of choice were Swanson TV dinners.

The menu was somewhat limited, fried chicken or leathery beef in brown gravy. The sides consisted of a vegetable, corn or peas and diced carrots, and salty whipped potatoes. Dessert was two forkfuls of mystery fruit cobbler, usually red. Each serving was neatly tucked into its own compartment on a foil tray which in turn was designed to nestle atop the portable furniture. God help us all, these frozen dinners were considered treats.

Naturally, some benevolent genius at Swanson decided that we could never have too much of a good thing. Subsequently the company launched a line of frozen lunches. Swanson learned quickly that it had erred in foisting sub-par inconvenience on consumers. People were not averse to heating a tin of soup and making a sandwich of their choice. That process took less time than heating the ersatz Swanson product in an oven. Their homemade sandwich tasted better. The noontime DIY efficiency promoted an inexpensive sense of accomplishment.

Theme restaurants were all the rage in the 90s. The business model was compliments of the Hard Rock CafĂ©. Sound and clever ideas will always be copied but they tend to lose their initial integrity as they’re increasingly replicated. Hard Rocks were McDonald’s for the Woodstock set, only cooler: much memorabilia, many autographs and a Dear Mr. Fantasy vibe for jukebox heroes.

Then came Planet Hollywood. Patrons were dismayed by the instant realization that they would never be seated next to Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. When they perused the prices on their menus, their eyes popped. Then they tasted the food. Suddenly a frozen Swanson TV lunch became Michelin star-worthy, cordon bleu.

There are a few take-aways from these old stories, wisdom to go, as it were. There is no economical or efficient method to simplify simplicity. People derive pleasure from completing an uncomplicated task. Making a sandwich is far less daunting than another week at work or writing a novel. Novelty itself has a short shelf life. And finally, most people are savvy enough to deke being gouged, to pay too much for too little.

Last week Cineplex, a cinema chain, announced an alliance with Uber Eats. Film buffs in certain Canadian markets will now be able to have movie theatre popcorn and other snacks such as nachos and hot dogs delivered to their homes to enhance their Netflix binge experience. What’s wrong with this moving picture?

There’s a reason why people sneak their private stashes of snacks into movie theatres.  They’re not misers. It’s because concession-stand fare is drastically overpriced. Nor is the food available particularly good. Cineplex is dreaming in Technicolor if it expects film fans who already avoid its theatres to order its lousy, costly snacks to their homes and pay a delivery surcharge on top.

The other flaw in the Cineplex scheme is obvious. Ten minutes is about all it takes for anybody to cook a hot dog, heat a tray of nachos or prepare a bowl of popcorn. If one is prepared to spend two passive hours watching a screen, one can spare ten minutes to eliminate delivery waiting time, save money and enjoy better food. Cineplex executives are counting on a Hollywood ending for their grand experiment, but they forgot the Planet part.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

SAINTS PRESERVE US

Nothing Compares 2 U

Without you, I’m dead meat/I’m a raggedy dog dying in the streets/Of a God-forsaken shanty town/Where gangs of children are hunted down – Rolling Stones, ‘I Go Wild’

The executive and legislative branches of the government of the United States are wrestling with a public relations disaster even as they attempt to grapple with a global norm. Human beings all over the planet are constantly on the move, seeking respite from the miserable life sentences that constitute their existence on Earth. Who would not flee a war zone, systematic sectarian persecution, accusations of thoughtcrime, the devastation of climate change, or the poverty and disease inflicted on its citizens by a corrupt, failing state?

There’s been nothing new under the sun since Pangaea fractured into Gondwana and Laurasia, since the Israelites fled Egypt, since European utopian dreamers sailed to the New World in search of a better way of life. It’s a universal trope, make your way to a new place, contribute, do a little better in order to provide for your family. The globe has always been criss-crossed with such paths and routes since someone started keeping track. In modern times some of those treks are slightly less arduous. Our species has always rambled.

Studies suggest that the number of refugees and asylum seekers migrating to safer havens has not spiked in recent years. What has changed, perhaps through calculated manipulation, is the popular perception of the weak, the tired, the hungry and the poor. They are now criminals and terrorists to be feared and shunned as unwelcome interlopers, national security threats. Contempt trumps compassion.

I don’t really care, do u?

No, because u jury-rig and gerry-build, make do. Spring the patriots who had been secretly arrested by the United Nations and the Democrats from that seemingly abandoned Wal-Mart near the Mexican border. Get the private military contractors with proven Iraq and Afghanistan credentials to build temporary camps. Round up the illegal aliens. Have someone wearing a uniform and wraparound shades greet the freshmen internees and select who’s directed to the left or right as they disembark the guarded transport. Split up families.

But the eyes of the world are watching now. Got to spin this buffoon’s inhumanity to humankind. Send the photogenic First Lady to smile down upon the No Tolerance orphans. Make sure she sports that cheap, olive drab jacket from that Spanish fast-fashion retailer even though America’s own retail sector has been gutted by bankruptcies and lay-offs. Get the message out to the White House administration’s core constituency, dog whistle-style.

Tweeterdumbest defended his trophy wife’s choice of outerwear twitterpating that the graffito painted on her back wasn’t a calculated sneer at the plight of migrant families riven by border authorities so much as a protest against the fake news media. In the odious autocracy of orange skin and alabaster bandit eyes, every outlet barring Fox News and Info Wars is fake news media. Blame is easier to lay than a porn actress.

America’s system of governance is one of history’s newer models, a sturdy chassis riveted with checks and balances. For more than two centuries it had purred along, as reliably as a well-maintained V-8. In a liberal democracy, an untethered press and the opposing voices of other political ideologies are essential to keep that motor running, hold those with power to account. Cheerleading unconscionable federal policy is not part of their mandates. There is nothing subtle about this distinction even though it seems to be beyond the grasp of an infantile strongman and his cohort of blind partisans.

Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards once explained his penchant for honesty thusly: “How could I now possibly remember the lie I told somebody a month ago?” Biographer James Boswell quoted his friend the lexicographer Samuel Johnson in Life of Johnson: “Accustom your children constantly to this; if a thing happened at one window, and they, when relating it, say that it happened at another, do not let it pass, but instantly check them; you do not know where deviation from truth will end.”

The current occupants of the White House are beyond vulgar in their disregard for truth, let alone common decency. Here’s hoping Truth emerges from the fetid swamp that is the District of Columbia. It might be a little dizzy from being spun constantly but maybe it will be angrier at having been denied, and intent on hitting back; bring the hurt and force a reckoning.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Monday, 18 June 2018

A FAN’S NOTES

Late in the Game

While rooting around in the basement storage room last week I came across my old football. A Canadian Football League branded knock-off of a much more expensive and slightly larger official game ball, one that won’t make me cringe when it scrapes pavement. I held it for a moment and then mimed launching a 60-yard game-winning bomb as the clock on the stadium scoreboard ticked down to double zeros.

In the cabinet beside the football was a soccer ball whose internal pressure has ebbed, leaked into the atmosphere. Standing in the corner were my two wooden Sher-woods, each a quarter-century old but still perfectly adequate for a lone skater pushing a puck around on an outdoor rink: black tape on the blades, white tape over black atop the shafts to make knobby grips. There’s a tote bag filled with baseballs hanging off a coat hook, a stack of gouged pucks on the shelf.

In the downstairs spare bedroom there’s a bookcase filled with sports biographies and journalism. Leaning against it is an Adirondack Super Stik, a red-ringed bat I’ve carted around with me since my days in university. Tucked under the mattress is a newish baseball mitt with a ball crammed into its pocket. I bought it four or five years ago in a massive sports emporium in Butte, Montana. The leather is supple even if it’s a little jaundiced in colour.  Still, the Easton ‘Synergy fp’ is a worthy substitution for my mysteriously missing Wilson Bobby Bonds model, the best baseball glove I ever owned.

I’m getting on toward 60. I don’t play much of anything anymore except the fool, Scrabble, the radio, CDs and LPs. As I’ve aged I’ve gleaned some insight into myself: I want and need less and less (some music and books aside). Consequently, any once treasured or sought after possession that leaves the Crooked 9 in a bag, a box, on the bed of a truck or by any other means (ambulances not included) never to return is another victory for my late embrace of minimalism. Logic dictates that I should donate or throw away the various implements required to play childish games.

Though I still pay attention to the results, I have for the most part soured on professional sports. My lifespan is shrinking and I’ve got better things to do with my money and time. I’m tired of the agents, the lawyers, the crimes, the hype, the dope, the new revenue streams and the civic extortion. Full disclosure: I miss Montreal Expos baseball, and am beyond infuriated that the hockey Canadiens have been mediocre for nearly three decades.

It’s arguable that elite, blockbuster sport has reached its saturation point with fans. There’s too much going on in the blur of overlapping seasons. Every league has tinkered with the rules of its game, a sop to broadcasters, sponsors and advertisers. What’s left though is the essence of our games: baseball hides stained green, scuffed or deflated footballs and dried up, brittle hockey sticks. Nobody has to pay to play with relics like these.

Despite the merit of de-cluttering, parting with old sports equipment has proved exceptionally difficult. Every piece evokes a memory and all of it evinces a false promise that I may yet compete again another day. There’s a warm comfort too in old leather and wood that’s been used for nothing more than social distraction and a bit of exercise, a feeling a lot like listening to the red and blue Beatles albums on vinyl instead of the re-mastered and digitized 1 collection.

Bob Dylan once said that nostalgia is death. And I get that point of view, that of a vibrant artist who refuses to settle into stasis. I think of nostalgia as a mild hallucinogenic because we all innately understand that the good old days were accompanied by long, sleepless nights. Memory and history inform us of the monsters under the bed and in the wardrobe. Name a sin. Name a crime. Name the Four Horsemen, those eternal skeletal riders.

I can still throw a spiral but probably no farther than ten or 15 yards. I still have a decent wrist shot, never had a slapper. As a ballplayer I was all glove, no hit. I am surrounded by disused and distressed sporting equipment. There’s no pressing need to keep any of it. None of it reminds me of any particular game or exploit but rather the blessed respite of play, when everything else in the world and my life ceased to matter for a couple of hours. I used to know a guy like that back in the day.  

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Monday, 11 June 2018

SAINTS PRESERVE US

The Translator’s Blues

Tomorrow in Singapore the leaders of two enemy powers are scheduled to hold peace talks even though they are not officially at war. Tweeterdumbest, the 45th President of the United States will sit down with Kim Jung-un, the third generation nepotistic despot of North Korea. Issues on the agenda include nuclear weapons, sanctions and cyber incursions.

By virtue of the International Date Line (not to be confused with Ashley Madison.com) and a small tear in the fabric of space and time, meGeoff has obtained a leaked partial transcript of tomorrow’s historic summit. Enjoy this fake news world exclusive.

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Little Rocket Man, you look like one of those chubby kids I used to bully while growing up in Queens.

TRANSLATOR: (Uh-oh.) The President extends his greetings and best wishes to the Supreme Leader.

DICTATOR OF NORTH KOREA: Face to face at last with the bumbling dotard.

TRANS: (Oh, no.) The Supreme Leader graciously extends his welcome and thanks to the President.

POTUS: Can you believe this guy’s haircut? Have you ever seen a stupider look? Stupid. Stupid looking.

TRANS: The President says that the Supreme Leader is well groomed.

DONK: I can’t believe his haircut. I have never seen anything stupider than that. Why is his skin orange?

TRANS: The Supreme Leader graciously accepts the President’s compliment and returns it tenfold.

POTUS: Who made your cheap suit? A Chinaman? Very, very poor. The fabric. Cheap. The best tailors in New York are Jews and Wops. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

TRANS: (Oh, Christ.) The President admires the Supreme Leader’s wardrobe and allows that he would like a similar suit himself to wear as a show of good faith, solidarity, peace and friendship.

DONK: His neckwear is strange. Perhaps its length compensates for the inadequacy of his manhood which he cannot find beneath his bulging belly without using the stumpy fingers of both hands?

TRANS: (Whoa.) The Supreme Leader believes that as relations between your two great countries continue to improve, many Western fashions will be welcome sights on the streets of his homeland.

POTUS: Okay, Kimmy, let’s cut the crap, cut to the chase. I made both those phrases up. Like them? I do. They’re clever. Very clever. Do you know what else I have? A button. A big red button. A big red nuclear button on my desk. And it works. It works very well. I know it works very well because I’m a stable genius. I’ll use it. Happy to use it. Excited, very excited to use it. I’ve been preparing my entire life.

TRANS: (Oh, man, they don’t pay me enough.) The President suggests there are many complex issues to be discussed and negotiated upon here in Singapore, and that time is of the essence. The President sees no reason why two well-respected and intelligent leaders cannot reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

DONK: I have long fantasized of having this doddering fool seated across the table from me executed by anti-aircraft cannon.

TRANS: (Uck!) The Supreme Leader says he shares the dream of world peace with the President.

POTUS: I’m hungry! Very hungry. Somebody get me a Diet Coke and a couple of cheeseburgers. Two of them, two cheese burgers. Don't poison them! Do they have McDonald’s in this shit-hole country? Is Singapore a country or a city?

TRANS: The President has been pleased with the course of this initial meeting in Singapore and suggests that perhaps this may be an opportune time for lunch and for both parties to break bread in a gesture friendship.

DONK: Did the Yankee imperialist buffoon bring any extra cheese burgers? I suspect so because he is so porcine. His mouth resembles a spuming anus.

TRANS: (I need a drink.) The Supreme Leader agrees with the President and makes a joke that common ground is often found over a delicious lunch of delicacies.

POTUS: I don’t eat barbecued cats and dogs, okay? I don’t. So wrong. Very, very wrong. Fat Boy Kimmy here looks like he eats a lot of them, strays. Cows. I like cows. Cows are good. Can they afford to own cows in South Korea?

TRANS: (Christ, two maybe three drinks on my break.) The President welcomes the Supreme Leader to his table.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Friday, 8 June 2018

EDMONTON EXISTENTIAL

Living on a Fault Line

The other day I had a long phone call with a friend of mine who was scheduled to be in Edmonton this week to deliver a talk about modern technology and its impact on various aspects of society to an audience of assorted deputy ministers and policy wonks. His message will be something of an admonishment; our leaders and authorities have been too slow to embrace its possibilities and opportunities, let alone keep pace with the velocity of the digitally loosed arrow.

Civilization is currently floundering somewhere in the primordial quagmire of a new historic age, one worthy of a proper noun in the future annals of human progress. The Industrial Revolution is over. Something else is happening right here, right now. I’ve been trying to navigate my way for a few years but I feel I’m baked into the middle of a Black Forest cake, I can’t discern the layers of enlightenment for the candied cherries and the cream trees.

Evidence of this period of transition is all around me, in my neighbourhood and on my street. The city’s livery firms are more responsive to my needs because they realize I can summon Uber instead of a taxi but I have to leave the neighbourhood to shop because our district’s modest commercial corner proffers brown paper window coverings and dust. Who pays the property taxes due on dead retail space and how does the City assess the value of a vacuum when ‘location, location, location’ really doesn’t matter anymore?

Blocks surrounding the Crooked 9 are undergoing neighbourhood renewal. The immediate area is clustered with machines, steamrollers, cement trucks, mustering crews and their own private vehicles. The project is a decade late, if only because Canadian cities are handcuffed by a legal inability to raise revenues for building, maintaining and expanding their required infrastructure. Anyway, I got mine just in case Edmonton hits that Detroit city flat-line. The gas company and a couple of telcos were ripping up what the City had just repaved, upgrading their hardware. Any soul on my street in a neon safety vest blends right into the occupation.

Two weeks ago one of my neighbours’ homes was broken into. Property crimes in the area are spiking. Employment in Edmonton is usually stable because it’s a government town anchored by a major university. Still, some sectors of the economy are suffering and idle hands… I was outside that afternoon, mowing the lawn and then repainting a stick of furniture in the garage. If I saw something, I didn’t know what I was seeing. Something else struck me too: I do not know the people in my neighbourhood as well as I used to. Here was the new gig economy at work.

There is always a stream branded courier van delivering Amazon wares. There are sub-contracted couriers too with magnetic decals on their car doors. Food is delivered by grocery stores, specific restaurants and app drivers who pick up meals pretty much from any place with a functioning kitchen. There are dog walkers and maid services on regular schedules. There are hired gardeners and landscapers, snow removal services. Nobody seems to possess a whit of inclination to do anything themselves.

Paying another to perform one’s mundane chores adds up. Consequently many homeowners in the area have developed basement or garage suites to ease existing expenses even as mortgage interest rates rise. Back lanes are crawling with legitimate strangers entering and exiting through side and rear entries. Tenants come and go. I never get to know them. There’s someone in the alley. So what? Around the front, some tenacious door-knocker is looking to raise funds for a soccer team, a jazz ballet club, an elementary school or some disease only an unlucky few acquire.

So unless the bad guy is masked and decked out in a Beagle Boys black-and-white prison outfit I’ve no clue who’s suspiciously treading in my patch on my watch. I am as mystified and confused about the new reality as those politicos my friend was engaged to lecture. I can sort of see a sea change but can’t make any sense of it. The lesson is simple: being blind in these times, ignorant, just won’t do.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.