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Although I am a middle-aged white North American male, I know the pain of being broken down solely on the basis of my looks, my entire personality rendered meaningless and subsumed by a single piece of my anatomy. In my case, it’s my hair. Specifically, my pony tail.

Since I was young I’ve always wanted long hair. As a child I was never allowed to grow it long, but when I became a teenager and had the faintest hint of independence in how I dressed and groomed, I started to let my hair grow. Unfortunately the fine, straight hair that I’d been blessed with started changing with the advent of puberty, and become wavy and unruly. Just when I had the freedom to let it flow, it had gained a mind of its own.

I hated my hair.

It refused to behave as I wanted it to, and so I went back to cutting it short. I was defeated.

But, years later, I decided to try again. In the meantime, I’d developed a minor phobia for going to the barber: I dreaded the expectation to make conversation and the odd intimacy of a stranger touching me and hovering around me as my locks were shorn. Also, I hated spending $15 for the traumatic experience. I stopped going to the barber.

If anything, my hair had become wavier, almost curly, but I discovered that if I let it grow long enough, I could tie it back in a pony tail, controlling its most chaotic urges. It might not have been the best look for me, but it was low maintenance, and free. I could go months without a haircut, and even when I decided my hair was too much to handle, I’d simply shave it all off and start from scratch. I’d never had much romantic success and, looking back, my hair probably didn’t help. But I was more at peace with it, after hating myself and the way I looked throughout adolescence and high school. I’d found a hairstyle that might not have been attractive, but at least it didn’t bother me any more.

Fast forward to years later, and I mostly have long hair that I tie back in public. It’s messy because I don’t even get it trimmed, but it’s sort of become my “look.” I know I’m starting to go bald on top, and I’m aware that I’ll eventually look like a stereotypical aging hippy (if I don’t already) but, for the most part, I don’t care. I used to be extremely self-conscious, worrying too much about what everyone thought of me, and whether they were judging me. I’m still self-conscious, and know I’m not good-looking, but I don’t worry about other people so much now; I’ve grown more comfortable in my flabby, pasty, hairy skin.

I’ve started to go to a new pub to watch Chelsea football games. It’s very nice, but they don’t know me by name yet, and there are a lot of us, so understandably they’re struggling a bit to get to know us and make sure the right person gets the right breakfast and bill. This weekend I learned that the bartender has his own tricks for keeping us straight. He’s picked out defining features, since telling the waitress to bring the Carlsberg to “the guy in the Chelsea shirt” won’t get them very far. My defining feature? My pony tail.

I kind of like that. It took me years to grow it, and now it’s sort of my “thing.” My only complaint is that somehow I became “pony2” on my bill, and I wonder how I lost out to “pony1.” Maybe I need to do what my family is always threatening to do to me, and cut off his pony tail. It might be the only way up in this tonsorial world.

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It took me more than forty years to sing in public, but now I quite enjoy it, even if I still have anxiety because I know I don’t sing well. Still, it’s a long way from the time when I wouldn’t even sing in front of my family. My father was happy to sing but he embarrassed me, because he always sang with a huge smile on his face, while I rarely smiled at all. I can’t pinpoint the time when I changed from the happy child that can be seen in early photos to the miserable bastard that I am now. It was well before the typical age when changes like that happen, as a teenager. Was it the same age–eight or nine–as I stopped believing in Satan, and then God? But shouldn’t that have been a happy time, knowing I was free of the illusions that held most of the world down? Or did I then begin to mourn the realization that I was different, and therefore doomed to a life of loneliness? That was a tough understanding to come to at such an early age, especially since it’s turned out not to be a pessimistic lie, but eerily prescient: I have indeed spent the bulk of my life alone. Contrary to popular opinion, my greatest fear isn’t to die alone, but to live alone, since I have to face that reality every day, and I’ve always had the feeling that, while I may not be immortal (although, I might be, it remains to be seen), I’m going to live for an awfully, terribly long time. When Halley’s Comet was all the rage in 1986, and everyone was thrilling to its rare appearance, I determined that I’d wait until the next time it came back to view it, even though I’d begged for a telescope for Christmas, largely on the premise that I’d need it for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Well, once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, but surely at least twice-in-a-lifetime for me.

From my upcoming series of picture books designed to introduce children to the great artists of the past:

  • Modigliani, Mo’ Problems
  • Step on the Gas, Degas!
  • Too Many Manet to Manage

I’ve recently invested in a new restaurant with an Classic Movie Western theme. On the weekends, from 10am to 2pm, we feature The Wild Brunch, and dishes include:

  • The Ox-Tail Soup Incident
  • Once Upon a Time in the Water Cress Sandwich
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Paté

 

 

Leap before looking.

Do unto others as my whims dictate.

Say “fuck” more often.

Give peas a chance.

Direct my feet to the punny side of the street.

Masturbate to images that I should be ashamed of masturbating to.

Cut once; fuck that “measure” shit.

Spank that ass.

Have false gods before thee.

—–

2016 is going to be a hell of a year!

Carefree Wherever You May Be

“Carefree Wherever You May Be” with model Rollie from ninjakillercat.co.uk

Although I grew up with dogs as pets and a baseball fan, tastes change, and now I love cats and soccer. Lately I’ve been thinking about getting another cat, and the thought of naming it to honour my favourite team, Chelsea, has crossed my mind. Cat lovers, above all other pet owners, seem to be fond of giving their furry companions grandiose and/or punny names. And I’m certainly at a time in my life when I should be allowed to be eccentric… Keep the Freak Flag Flying High! So here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Super, Super Furry Lampard – after the song for club legend “Super Frankie” Lampard
  • Gary Cat-ill – this is just horrible, and I know it, don’t worry!
  • Thibault Cat-ois – is he the best goalie in the world? Is kitty got the fluffiest tummy?
  • Tabby Courtois – keep in mind that I don’t have the cat yet, and this only works if it’s a tabby
  • Florent Meow-louda – Malouda played for Chelsea when I first started watching them
  • Stam-fur Bridge – the home of Chelsea since their inception in 1905, Stamford Bridge

These are all OK (except Gary Cat-ill, of course), but I’ve saved the best for last:

  • Jose Meow-rinho
  • Kitty A. Drogba

Help me choose between them! But keep in mind, this poor cat will have to live with this silly name, whether Chelsea are winning the league at a canter like in 2014-15, or losing in every possible way in 2015-16.

* * * * *

Just for fun, in case I can ever afford to live in a house and can get a dog (I still love them, too!), here are a few Chelsea dog names:

  • Os-cur
  • John Terrier
  • Didier Dogba

As cigar is to cigarette, so etique is to etiquette?

The cock is ticking!

The beautiful will inherit the Earth… according to the wealthy.

B.O. Wolf, heroic (and smelly) figure from Old English literature.

Dorothy Parker was really full of pith and vinegar.

If the porn industry discovered Chekhov: Uncle Vulva, The Cherry Pie Orchard, The C-Gulp, Three Sisters.

After months of writing and editing and rewriting, my first book is finally done, and available to purchase online!

What I (Don't) Know About Every Country in the World

What I (Don’t) Know About Every Country in the World

“There are 193 countries on Earth and Robert James Bell knows something about all of them. This brilliant, maddening, and all-too-often stupid exploration of the world’s nations artfully combines history, geography, sociology, and prevarication to provide insight into our global neighbours that is essential for travelers or anyone who wants to be a better person. Yes, you.”

“This is a very foolish book, apparently written by an idiot.” —Simon Winchester

“I couldn’t decide whether to put it in geography or humour, so in the end I just didn’t order it.” —Chief Buyer, Globo Books

“It brings the entire field of human knowledge into disrepute.” —National Geographic

“When in doubt, assume it’s a dick joke.” –the Author

I’ve finally dived into James Joyce’s Ulysses and have been overwhelmed by the inventiveness of his word play. Reading a book of such genius gets my own mind wandering to puns and new ways of putting words together… in a much less focused way than Joyce, of course. There’s no evidence of genius here, but maybe some of it’s a little fun.

Basilisk Whiskey / Basiwhiskey

anyone / anemone

tissue paper / issue paper

apeshit / papeshit

Gonzaga Khan

Agua Khan

What doesn’t kill me makes me stranger.

Quay Sera? Sera! Whatever the key will be.

Chamber Pot Music

The New Jews Rue ‘Salem

Lazy, lazy Henry Miller in Paris

Lazy, lazy Henry Miller in Paris

Great writer, Henry Miller, but he just couldn’t commit to projects he had started. For example:

Sexus

Nexus

but no Solar Plexus?

And he must have been too busy having sex with Anaïs Nin (not too mention his own wife) to complete the trilogy of Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Tropic of Thunder. Well, I can’t really blame him there.

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