Finally passed 1000 views. You poor, poor people.

Maybe I’ve been watching too much comedy. I had a dream the other night that I went to an open mic and Dennis Leary was heckling all the newbies for being hack. “You can talk” I said “you copied half your shtick from Bill Hicks.” he told me to stop being such an asshole. The irony of which didn’t sink in until I awoke in the morning. I did a set last night. Wasn’t great, but it was nice to get more stage time. I did my first set up/punchline jokes, which probably went over the best. My Schrodinger jokes didn’t kill in a French Canadian city. I guess I could’ve picked that. It’s nice, I didn’t think myself capable of that kind of one-two punch style of writing, maybe I’ll try more of it. Still haven’t found a set I want to stick with, but gradually I’ll find something that works. I know I want to stop going back to the well of poo jokes, and I’ve gotta find a way to make this beta male stuff hit, ’cause I feel it has potential but just needs to be crafted in the right way. I’ve got time, Toronto should be great for that.

I’m kind of eager to get there. I love Montreal, but at the moment I feel like I’m drifting aimlessly here. I’ve met some cool people and I’m seeing a bit of them, but it sort of feels like I’m treading water. There’s nothing left that I really want to see, I’m tired of being a tourist and I want to start pushing myself towards creating a new life and home. I miss structure. I know I posted about how I want to get better at spontaneity (and I think I have put myself out there a little) , but I really do miss operating within a steady environment. I realise it’ll be a while before I get back to that, but it certainly won’t be the worst thing. Looking at jobs online, I still don’t know what I want to do. I’ve been looking at jobs involving writing with more fervour than I had been, this project filling my mind with foolish notions of some aptitude with the written word. NOT FISHING. May I repeat, I’m not fishing for compliments here. Any such compliments will be summarily rejected. This project is about development not validation. I don’t know if I’ve improved at all, mainly because I can’t be bothered trawling through the archives. But enough about me here. Ah, who am I kidding? Do I ever write about anything else?

Pokemon. Here we go. I’ve been working through my side project, photographing abstract things that remind me of Pokemon. It’s going well enough, but the amount of time I spend looking at water fixtures or flower beds in the hopes of seeing something is becoming somewhat disconcerting. Some old Jewish dude thought it peculiar that I was taking photos of his cluster of rubbish bins. He was right. I explained that I was archiving things that reminded me of a certain cartoon. He asked me if I was Jewish. I said yes and this seemed to appease him. I’m guessing it’s ’cause I was in a Jewish neighbourhood, but I’m hoping there’s some lesser known Jewish stereotype that I’m yet to discover centred around strange photo collections or adoration of waste vestibules. Or maybe Jews just fucking love Pokemon. I’m certainly not the exception.

I’m definitely ready to get back to a rigid fitness regime. I’ve been swimming 1-2 kilometres most days, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s giving me the workout that I need or want. Who knows if I’ll be able to find a viable (non cultish, yet affordable) crossfit box in Toronto? That’d be ideal, but if it’s gonna be $200 a month vs a reasonable $60 all purpose gym I’d be hard pressed to push for the extra intensity, especially if I’m gonna be unemployed. I’m sure things will chill out and my body will get back to normal once I resume cooking for myself instead of eating out all the time. Words can’t express how much I’m looking forward to achieving a sense of normalcy again. Also seeing past my belly when I look down.

So maybe I’m just boring, maybe I’m not the progressive, adventurous soul that I thought I was, but I think I’m more ok with that than I presumed I would be. It can be nice to ascertain the things you want around you and make an effort to put them in place. Right now I’m chomping at the bit to grab those building blocks and start arranging something awesome. Probably out of Lego. Structure with the potential for versatility. The best of both worlds. Like Hanna Montana.

I REALLY need a new reference for that saying.

A salute to futility? I really have been around the French for too long.

I called out a homeless person for being racist today. She was begging for money unsuccessfully and in an effort to ingratiate herself to us, started speaking the equivalent of Chinese gibberish. I yelled “what the hell? That’s racist” but I think she had bigger issues than how a random passerby viewed her. Or given that begging seemed to be her primary vocation, maybe the views of random passers by dictate her entire income. Though judging by the way some treat First Nations people, racism seems to be more accepted than I’d expect. I was talking to someone today who said that the national treatment of the country’s indigenous culture is either on par with or exceeds that of Australians towards the aborigines. He said they’re not even given sources of fresh water or provided for in a similar fashion. Apparently there was some a United Nations agreement that would make access to water a basic human right and Canada refused to sign it because, being in violation of it, it would give grounds for foreign armies to invade. The veracity of this is free to be debated, but I’m going off a conversation conducted while drinking. At the moment I’m writing post imbibing. I don’t know if this is in any way better, but if you excluded the writing I’ve conducted while alcohol was in my system, you’d be facing pretty lean pickings. Like most homeless people do.

Homelessness is a much larger issue here than I’m used to. Saying that the streets are littered with the unfortunate carries connotations of implied class that I’m not comfortable expressing. There are so many people sitting on the pavement, empty takeaway coffee cup shaking back and forth, asking for spare change (or $5 as one enterprising lady did yesterday), that they become practically invisible. When you’re faced with an epidemic on that scale it becomes insurmountable. How can you get absorbed in the plight of one poor fellow when there’s another facing identical hardship sitting 3 metres away? You think, if I were to give $500 to this guy, would it change his life? Would it even change his month or week? Or would he still see the issue as too huge to do anything about and search for quick release in oblivion rather than face the tough road towards escaping his hardship? Could I even blame him?

I have trouble knowing how to feel about it. Obviously I think it’s terrible that so many are forced by circumstances to live their life on the street (wow, unique opinion there bud). I have no idea what brought them there, but I hate that it did. For all my talk of loving capitalistic society because it happens to work for me, I’m all too aware of its failings. It’s hard not to be when they’re lying on the street in front of you. The ones with dogs are the worst. Have you ever seen a malnutritioned husky sprawled listlessly on the footpath, the light in its eyes long since extinguished by a domesticated lifestyle that’s failed to deliver on its promise? You’re a beast of the wild, you should be off running through the forest, devouring your fill by the light of the moon, adopting your position in the circle of life. Instead you spend your days watching feet stroll past, incapable of fathoming the system that you’ve unwillingly become a part of. It breaks my heart every time knowing that there’s nothing I can really do to help. Affecting social change at the necessary level would require an active involvement by all society in a concerted effort to do something about the situation. Unfortunately I know human nature all too well and if it’s an issue that doesn’t affect us directly, we’re pretty unlikely to want to put ourselves out by extending a helping hand. If the actions don’t result in us lounging back at the end of the day with full bellies engaged in some escapist fantasy then we’re not interested. I say “we” because I’m no different. Awareness doesn’t change a thing unless you act on it. For all good intentions, merely thinking on a problem without working towards a solution will rarely result in anything constructive. I know that I’m going to go out today and spend money on wants, not needs. My contribution to society is that I’ll use its resources and fall to contribute anything worthwhile beyond financial transactions.

For all my worthless sympathy I’m part of the problem just as much as the rest of you for embracing a system that engages our desires and fears at the expense of our empathy. I don’t know what the next system will be after capitalism, if 3d printing and internet based technology will render financial lust irrelevant. All I know is that I’d like to see some reform in my life, even if I’m too self involved to action it personally. If you’re gonna cheers to anything the next time you lift your glass, salute to greater minds and the potential that the future holds.

Either that or it gets worse and we’re all fucked.

Keep your liberty, just give me death.

I’m sitting in a Jewish deli, trying to resemble the fractured pieces of my psyche. My fork has bent tines, I feel a disturbing kinship for it. It’s unusual, but it still works. The only difference is a strange dragging of the misshapen prong against my lips. I’ll allow it. Just for Laughs is over. It gave me so much, but charged a heavy toll. I got home around 9am after being welcomed into one of the comedy club after parties. I’d met a few of these people during the festival and they’d let me into a bunch of shows for free (brackets: my meal has arrived. I ordered the pizza burger through a combination of curiosity and lust. In this kind of state, who could say no to that? Looking at the clusterfuck of yum in front of me it’s a meat patty sandwiched between two slices of pizza, slathered in pasta sauce. It’d give poutine a West Side Story style dance off challenge for most slovenly cuisine. My stomach just got a boner. Most importantly they left me with my twisted fork friend, quirky as my bizarre tastes. I’m shattered enough that I just read the sachet as mustard and squeezed it over my chips. Turns out it’s mayonnaise, so now that’s a thing. It’s not like it was even written in French or anything. I just looked at it and wished for it to be something it wasn’t. Reality didn’t warp to my demands. Fuck you The Secret. Dear brain, now that the festival is over, can we start eating like we’re not shooting for a heart attack target of two weeks? Chur), as a comedy fan they welcomed me into their community with Scott Stapp-ish arms wide open. I met the club owner who told me to just grab whatever I wanted from the bar. Met a fuckton of people and we all exchanged festival stories, they told me about the relative scenes in Montreal and Toronto. Turns out I’ve got a lot to look forward to. Got advice on how to volunteer at the Toronto festival, so I’m gonna start actioning that soon. I met another club owner, got an open mic slot at some bar tomorrow night. Nick Kroll and Judah Friedlander were wandering about, but not knowing much of their stuff I didn’t really see the value in imposing myself on them.

Now I’m home tossing and turning in bed. It’s not late. Only 7pm. I feel that bedtime is coming for me soon, like if Death’s robes were blue/white, armed with a teddy bear. Today I’ve attempted to remove myself from human contact, with the exception of the waitress at the deli. In my state of sloth I’d disgust most anyone and I don’t think it’s fair to subject others to me right now. I nearly fell asleep on the train home, head nodding up and down. I noticed the open doors at my stop and hurled myself through the rapidly shrinking gap between them. I’d like to put more words to the page, but my eyes seem to be imitating those train doors something fierce right now. I think it’ll take every last ounce of willpower in my reserve just to get this online. Don’t mourn for me, I did it to myself.

Seriously, see those movies.

Today feels like a cinematic day. I’m sitting in a bar with a translated name of Electric Pussy drinking a Hoegaarden. Enough said. Earlier I saw a car full of French people singing along loudly to “Run to Paradise”. It feels like one of the best organic things I’ve seen in a while. Careless joy in their faces regardless of the cheesiness of the situation. No pretension. Stopped at a traffic light, a group of friends unaware that the moment they were having was gonna be one of my cherished mental snapshots. So this is the moment I get homesick for my friends, right? Well… Kind of not at all.

I don’t know how to say it without sounding like an asshole, but I’ll try. You’d think by travelling on my own I’d be constantly lonely, but it hasn’t been like that whatsoever. So far I’ve had one time. One extended period of loneliness where a lacklustre meal was the catalyst to all the shit I had pent up coming out in a deluge, soaking me completely. I felt awful and wanted to either die or take everyone with me. But this is Canada, not America, so no guns were on hand. Also I don’t know if I’d have the capacity to kill or wound anyone. In Battle Royale I’d find some way to hole myself up in a defensible, sustainable location and bide my time until we all died together. But I wasn’t in Battle Royale, I was in Vancouver, so I went to go see a romance movie instead. That’s fucked up, right? I’m feeling vulnerable and fragile, unnecessary and unloved so I go to see a movie about an on-screen couple who I adore, arguing for an hour and a half. Fortunately Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke know how to make a purifyingly cathartic movie and I came out revitalised with a renewed faith in humanity. Okay, that was a tangent. The message is see Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, because it’s probably one of my favourite movie trilogies bar none.

So back to the friends issue. The best way I can describe it is a Vonnegutian “So it goes” kind of thing. I’ve come to grips with the fact that none of my beloved friends and family really “exist” in my life at the moment. They/you will again, but at the moment I’ve got no means of being in physical proximity with you and it’s hard for me to get as much emotional fulfilment out of the written word (ironic?). Rather than focus on people who I’ve left behind, I’m trying to be present with the people around me. What am I gaining by spending two hours a day emailing back home when I could be out there filling my life with necessary experiences and people? Selfish? Yes. Not a question on that. But it’s certainly a better survival technique.

Concurrently the fact that you’re no longer around (or that I’m no longer around. It’s all perspective) doesn’t remotely diminish any time we spent together. It’s all there in the annals (did I use that word correctly? It’s my first trial run of it) of memory. Just because we’re physically apart it doesn’t negate the genesis of the St Kilda Bing meme, home made chicken soup in front of the fireplace or draining a bottle of vodka while watching Mad Men then gabbing into the night. We still have countless games of Arkham, You don’t know Jack or drunken Magic. We haven’t forgotten Pit Lord, the Lion Blanket or Happy Beagle dancing off into infinity. Nothing has changed our Cat Stevens sing-a-long heading north, our Fuck, Marry, Kill degustation at The Grove, sticking our dicks in everything or Turd Dinosaurs. Especially not Turd Dinosaurs.

So don’t think for a minute that I’ve left any of you behind. If I didn’t bring you with me, I’d be missing the greater part of myself. I call on you every day, whether you know it or not, without your consent (told you I was selfish). I wouldn’t be who I am without so many people along the way to shape me. Just because we can’t hug, doesn’t mean we’re not together.

With beta’d breath.

Just some potential bits I wrote up today. Usual disclaimer, stuff might be kind of rough before it’s cleaned up (grammatically, not in content). Things will likely be tightened up and made funny, but I need to get the raw stuff written somewhere. 

Canada, we have to talk about something. Your toilets. I think of the toilet as something that humanises us. It’s the great equaliser. Everyone shits, even the queen, she just pays someone else to wipe for her. If it’s so humanising though, why do your Canadian toilets make me feel like a fucking animal? The water level is so high, it’s like every time I wipe I’m being thrust into the position of a bear fishing for salmon. My big ungainly paw can’t help but dip into that lake of shit. I pull up my hand and instead of a delicious fish I’ve just got leftovers of my last meal. I’m just glad I’m not an old dude with droopy balls. It’d be like dropping in a fishing float attached to a sad flaccid rod.

The other thing that freaks me out is having the flush determined by sensors. I’ve been involved in too many staring contests with flushers, staring each other down, waiting for the other to crack. Obviously in the end, you’re a machine, I can’t best your cold, calculating robot brain. But I’m about to walk out of here and you’re still displaying evidence of the atrocities that went on here. I give in, you win. Have my dignity and self respect, just don’t show people how full of shit I am.

When I finally decide to wash my hand after the non consensual salmon fishing, I get fucked around by your water taps. I know we’re in some global recession, but who decided the solution was to ration the water we use to clean our hands off? I feel like a homeless dude begging for change, the only difference is I’ve never tried meth and I don’t own a dog.

I’ve been travelling a lot, but I never get a flight next to a cute girl. Never. Then inwardly I get really shitty if I ever see some good looking dude talking amicably with a girl who “could’ve been mine”. Really? In what world would she have “been mine”? Here’s my game plan for that one time she actually gets seated next to me: I do that forlorn look off into the distance thing. That’s it. Cool and collected, a mystery wrapped in enigma covered in Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. I basically seem so boring that I make myself invisible. Nice one buddy, if she can’t even see you she’s not gonna want you inside or anywhere near her vagina. Solid play, I should coach for the maple leafs. Why would I ever think that would work? “Oh, this guy seems enticing. I like the way he’s entirely disengaged from my presence. Seems like a keeper.” “Oh, he keeps throwing me flighty glances. I long to watch him avoiding eye contact when we have sex. He’ll probably even still have his socks on. Oh how my uterus tingles!” Note, I’ve never owned a uterus, but I assume it works something like spider man’s spider sense.

I start constructing elaborate fantasies in which this view girl and I both order the Spanish breakfast omelette and our hands touch when I rudely overextend in front of her to grab mine (even in my fantasies I’m still an awkward sumbitch). She ignores my sweaty palms from being too nervous to speak a word to her. Because if a lack of confidence wasn’t enough of a selling point, a lack of communication will certainly seal the deal. Also I left my self respect in the airport bathroom at the end of that toilet staring contest. Any other cowards out there? You have trouble establishing conversation with members of the opposite sex because you’re too busy screening all potential scenarios for one in which you least make a twat of yourself? Worse, like some Russian nesting doll situation, these all contain fantasies within fantasies?

So I’m clasping her delicate hand in my clammy one, she’s looking into my eyes while I pretend to be reading the safety instructions next to her. We’re practically soul mates at this point. We don’t say anything, because some things are best left unsaid. Then she’s nice enough to let me eat her out in the airplane bathroom. What? You expected that we’d have sex? This is a BETA male fantasy we’re talking about here.

Was it even a good movie? Haley Joel Osment hasn’t been in anything in a while.

Let’s talk about days being made. Let’s talk about dream scenarios. Let’s talk about things turning out considerably better than expected. I’m not so much of a fan of these diary style updates, but sometimes things are worth talking about. So Tuesday I listen to my usual Nerdist podcast. It’s with Joss Whedon, which is just as stupendous as one would think. The guy’s brilliant and he has much wisdom to impart about finding your passion in the things you do and all that gold. More important (predictive text wants to say impotent. Apt in a way, you’ll find out) was the revelation that Nerdist was doing a live Just for Laughs podcast recording. Funny, I’d scoured the site for weeks looking for any evidence of this, only to find a smooth emptiness equivalent to a Ken doll’s crotch. I frantically delved into the inner core of the net only to find that the podcast was already sold out, but with no evidence of it ever having been in sale. Well fuck, Emily. Dreams dashed like the head of Lady Macbeth’s hypothetical baby conceived for motivational purposes. I cried a bit inwardly at the unfairness of it all then went about my way.

For background as to why this podcast would’ve meant so much to me, understand that at my Auckland uni job I probably listened to over 350 hours of their podcast. Which, in an intimate medium like podcasting is like spending that much time with real people. It forms a strange one sided friendship, but enough that there’s a bit of emotional resonance involved. I’ve invested more time with these guys (not in a reciprocal sense) than I have with most people. So when I say that I wanted to see the show, I meant that I felt I’d be missing out on something significant if I didn’t. Sucks for me though, right? Because sold out is sold out.

The silver lining is that Jonah Ray, one of the podcast trio had a show running he next day. At the very least I’d be able to say hi and try not to gush about my fandom. The show was great. He hosted with Kumail Nanjiani, one of my favourite comics at the moment. An awesome assortment of guests including Kyle Kinane (who I’d missed out on due to scheduling conflicts. Doesn’t just happen at the Big Day Out). A Profusely enjoyed it. Met a young couple who were into all the same shows I was. Finding this to be quite common, but rad each time it happens. Went to say thanks to Jonah and Kumail for a great show, they were friendly and gracious and things worked out. I told Jonah about missing out on the show. He gave me his number and told me to come to the club close to midnight, text him if I hadn’t heard from him. He said he’d see what he could do.

Cloud nine you’ve got a new inhabitant and despite the weight of the poutine still clogging his innards from the previous day, he’s here to stay. Later on I ran into Chris Hardwick, head honcho of the Nerdist podcast network and his girlfriend Chloe (more gorgeous in person, if possible). I told him that I was a fan, he asked if I was coming to the show. I said I missed out on tickets and he replied that if I’d come all the way from New Zealand, there was no way I was gonna miss out just because there were no tickets. He told me to stay put for a minute, ran into a doorway and 5 minutes later called out “pssst, Leon. Come on, we’ll sneak you in.” I got pulled upstairs (after running across the road quickly. In my distress over not being able to see the Nerdist show I’d bought tickets to a different midnight performance. I figured karma had just let me stick my dick in it, might as well pay it forward (note, this didn’t involve running across the road and sticking my dick in a hapless stranger, it was just an expression. The word for what I just described would be “rape”. No plans on doing that ever). After I had a lot of trouble imparting to the ticket desk that I had a spare ticket, I didn’t need the money back for it, could they please just give it to the first person to try and buy a ticket.

“Well we can’t give you your money back”

“That’s fine, karma has been nice to me, I want to pay it forward. Like that Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey film.”

“I haven’t seen it. I don’t understand. ”

“I haven’t seen it either, but surely you understand the concept? I give you a free ticket, you give it to someone else.”

By this point I was pretty keen on shoehorning in a There Will Be Blood “I drink your milkshake” reference, but deterred by the recent Pay it Forward misfire I reconsidered. Instead I just ran to someone in line.

“Look, did you want to see this show?”

“Yeah, it sounds great.”

“Awesome, take this ticket.”

“How much?”

“Nothing, karma. Pay it forward, lady.”

“Like the Helen Hunt movie?”

I knew it was just the ticket dude being daft.

Anyway, how much needs to be said about the rest of the night? I got to meet and converse with some of my idols and confirm that really, they were nice people. I talked to some friendly Australian guy for about 15 minutes. Swell bloke. Comedian working out of LA, friends with the Nerdist guys. Asked him his name. “Rove” he replied. Of course it was. The show was hilarious. Jimmy Carr was the surprise guest, I had an unfairly good time and my frown was most definitely twisted 180 degrees.

So you know what? Sometimes things work out. Sometimes the people you look up to are role models for a good reason. Sometimes you need to put yourself out there if you really want something. And sometimes your pop cultural references aren’t really that obscure, but the guy in the ticket office just needs to see more films.

Despite how it sounds, I have not hired a prostitute.

I have become a creature of the night. I roam the streets in search of whatever comes my way. I’m kind of like Batman if he decided to instead become entirely self involved and follow his bliss instead of thwarting evil doers. The only acts of vigilance I perform involve occasionally picking up stray recyclables and fostering them to their rightful home. Unlike Batman my parents aren’t dead (score), so I haven’t really found my cause to rebel yet. I also resent sunlight I guess, rising after midday, avoiding the blaze at its most intense, preferring to catch the afternoon sun as it fades behind the horizon. Montreal is a beautiful city, but it seems to come alive as the sun recedes.

There’s a liveliness here that’s intoxicating. Walking down the street there’s a sudden local festival in bloom. Harmonicas, guitars, violins and accordions erupt in a jaunty exultation. A crowd of bohemian punk styled characters lose themselves in a whirl of activity. Transcending age, elderly dames and young men, small children and dogs (no idea what age they are) thread together in an eclectic hum of frivolity. Elsewhere jazz or blues can be heard from bar patios. People are out and about, enjoying the energy that the city has to offer. It’s only Wednesday evening but it feels busier than a Friday night in Auckland.

Part of me knows that I’m already in love with the city. There are three heritage buildings and their timeless architecture, the stunning parks and constant flow of people in every direction. The street art here is beyond comparison, great twisted alternate realities or inversions of nature adorn errant buildings and domiciles. This city breathes like nowhere I’ve been before. Imagine the electric atmosphere of New Orleans without the sleazy vibe. I could easily see myself living here if not for the language barrier, which isn’t as insignificant as I’d like it to be.

High school French is actually holding me in greater stead than I thought it would. I can generally find my way around by reading the signs. I can’t talk for merde and have no chance of keeping up with conversation, but I think the fault’s on me rather than the public schooling system. While I’m sure I could get by here, my chances of finding the kind of work I’d be looking for are pretty slim without fluency en francais.

That doesn’t have to shit on my dreams though. I’ve heard that with the increasing push towards French as the dominant culture, most of the creative Montreal-ers without a strong French background hopped a train to Toronto and the industry there supports them well. So rather than mourn what I’m missing out on here, I’m fairly certain that the life I’m seeking still lies elsewhere. As it stands, I already recognise that Montreal is so much closer to what fuels me than Vancouver was. Nothing against B.C. but it’s a suited to a certain kind of person who isn’t me. If I was in Vancouver and wasn’t leaving the house till 3pm some days, it’d barely be worth going before it was time to return. If you’re not out enjoying all that nature has to offer, why are you there?

So Montreal, birthplace of my mother and my own genesis of sorts, my heart beats for you. I don’t know how much longer we have, but I’ll cherish the time we have left together. Before I leave you for someone more intellectually stimulating with bigger assets who just “gets” me, y’know? Probably the most misogynist thing I’ve said in a while. It’s ok though, we know that I’m no hero. Just a man with niche interests and desires that need filling, only to be found by the light of the moon.