(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, July 19, 2014)
HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ It was in the whirlpool at the Les Chater Y when I was congratulated for My Bride’s recent naming into the Order of Canada. The woman, another early-morning swimmer, had read the news in this publication.
“Let’s face it,” she said. “You’ve had a role to play in this all. Any woman who wins something like this has to be married to a certain sort of man. If Madame Curie hadn’t been married to Pierre, she’d have been forced to be home barefoot, baking bread.” Continue reading →
(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, June 14, 2014)
HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ The sad truth is that the world is full of Charlie Gray sort of people who have listened to all the wrong voices and spent entire swaths of the only life they have doing things that haven’t mattered to them in the least, and, in the grand scheme of things, have mattered little to others also.
They’re people like in John Marquand’s novel “Point of No Return,” where Charlie Gray, after years of apple-polishing, is finally named vice-president of that fancy little New York bank, the promotion that finally gives him and his family the security they need. Continue reading →
PARIS ✦ Dead rock stars aren’t the only idols to worship out there. Houses and cars, retirement portfolios, relationships and sex—or, well, religion—can be equally distracting in a fallen world looking for things as nebulous as truth and meaning.
But come to the Père Lachaise Cemetery and see for yourself the cult of rock-star celebrity. In this gothic and tumbledown resting place of some of the world’s best-known artists—Chopin, Bizet, Proust, Oscar Wilde to name a few—Jim Morrison’s grave is by far the most visited. Continue reading →
HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ There was a time when a neighbourhood school was a place that nourished your soul. It wasn’t that long ago. I’m not that old.
You’d go to play, say, baseball on Saturday morning or, in winter, hockey on the rink that your Grade 6 teacher lovingly flooded outside the row of windows where even the good students looked out to daydream.
It was a time when you’d walk to school every morning. By yourself. Even when the school bully – her last name was, fittingly, Greenall – went the same way. It somehow even brought out courage that you never knew you had. Continue reading →
KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦ Forgive and forget is how the old saying goes, but you and I both know that it’s not worth spit, that we’ll never forget certain crimes committed against us, maybe even imagined crimes like those in a recent dream of mine.
It was a nightmare with Africans carrying machetes. I looked out my window. The university grounds where I live was crawling with the killers.
“We won’t kill anyone,” one said. He looked at me through a window of a bedroom where my 10-year-old daughter lay sleeping. “We’ll just cut your arm off.” Continue reading →
(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, March 15, 2014)
KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦Fear is a strange thing, which is why it’s so hard to look into the eyes of another human being that you’re about to gas or bomb or, in the case of Uganda’s gays, throw to the lions.
This is also why President Yoweri Museveni recently refused to meet with Uganda’s gay community – there were repeated requests – before signing Uganda’s infamous anti-gay law.
The new law means even touching with the intent of a homosexual act – try to prove or disprove this one – will get you seven years. Short of jail, a life-sentence for a single homosexual act, there’s obviously also a new chill on the street here. Continue reading →
KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦ By now you’ve heard plenty about Uganda’s new toughened laws on homosexuality, the news that spread to the West with the fanfare of a dark sporting event.
Even short of jail—terms range from seven years to life—it’s a new day of survival in a horrible state-sanctioned chill.
Several weeks in, like so many things in developing nations, it’s hard to know all that’s happening. Was that murder really a robbery gone bad? And that street beating? Why did she really lose her job? Many things simply don’t make the news here in Uganda. Continue reading →
MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ It’s International Women’s Day and we’re all happy to celebrate women in Uganda and around the world, but the truth of the matter is that it’s the men who need to come to terms with who they are and why they’re around, or it’s all for nothing.
This is the strangeness of this big yearly celebration. Women’s Day largely revolves around the hard times women face because their men are so hopeless. Plenty of husbands and fathers don’t pull their weight and don’t understand or care how desperately their families need them.
Now I am not about to beat-up myself or my brothers everywhere because I have nothing better to do. The Daughters of Eve are just as fallen as the Sons of Adam. But have an honest look into the homes of Uganda. I’m imagining you see what I see. It’s a bloody mess. Continue reading →