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Street Theatre


I was on my way to the theatre to review the play, DATING JESUS, last Thursday night. It was bitter cold, unwholesomely damp; despite global warming, this is Canada after all…and, as far as I could tell, Jesus was nowhere in sight.

Anyway, dark and bitter-damp it was, and as I left Metro Berri UQAM, along St. Catherine Street, I passed a ‘street person’ on the sidewalk, leaning against a shop-front, crouched on a spread-out blanket—a dark solitary-style picnic you would not care to join.

This street person, whether male or female, it was difficult to see, seemed to be in a comatose state, not moving, ringed all around by no less than four pet dogs (maybe serving as bodyguards and or body-warmers) who were sharing the communal blanket. A water bottle in a canvas holder was placed nearby, as well as some sort of inverted cap for collecting donations from passers by…the cap looked empty to me, although true, it was perhaps too dark to see.

For the next two hours I sat through a truly riveting theatre play, Dating Jesus, by Louise Arsenault. It traced the up-and-down history of a woman who, during an overwhelming crisis in her life, suffers a complete mental collapse. Not unusual, really. We all know of such, whether close up and personal, or at one or two removes. It was a powerful and tragic, despite the wildly comic overtones, although it ended on hopeful note…

Well, on leaving Theatre Ste-Catherine, on my way back home, I again passed that same street-person, who hadn’t moved an inch during the two hours that had elapsed.

He or she was hooded like those images of lurking ‘Voldemort’ in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.’ The four dogs were silent too, trying to keep warm, I should imagine, and what they were feeding on, it’s hard to know. The upturned collection cap was as empty as before. I dug around in my wallet for some loose change and tossed it in. One of the coins seemed to rebound and disappear into the blackness, so I cursed my less-than-perfect aim. The ‘street-person’ did not budge, didn’t even seem to notice, and honestly, there was no way of knowing whether he or she was dead or alive.

I hated to leave, just walk away; it was freezing, I couldn’t stay…

It seems to me that this unknown person embodies the fate of street-people everywhere, past and present and future. Will someone explain why—in one of the richest countries of the world, a country that tops the hit parade in desirable places to live—we can tolerate the sight of fellow human beings, literally lining the freezing pavements with their bodies, a gesture that must be the ultimate act of despair.

Once back home—where all the heat, light, water and electronic gear were functioning faithfully at the flip of a switch—I trawled through the internet and located many web-sites devoted to the phenomena of the homeless. They reported that a significant proportion of mentally ill people (like the gal on the theatre-stage) end up on the streets. I read about a municipal law that makes sleeping on downtown Montreal streets a punishable offence, incurring huge fines (that has to be the end-all of black jokes).

A few evenings later, on CNN, I learned that some returning U.S. Iraq veterans are also turning up homeless on the same public streets.

Right now, what more can I do than log my observations for the record? Surely, one homeless person bunking out on the wintry streets is one too many, let alone the hundreds and thousands across this country who squat where they can, take shelter under the bridges, or resort to sleeping in parks or on wealthy Western streets, paved in cement and gold.
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Lettre Ouverte: Hailing Spammers world-wide


First, allow me to thank all you generous, voluminous, nameless, faceless ones: In particular

To my dear sister in Christ who is bereft and penniless, stranded half way around the globe, but who is willing to forward me bank drafts in the millions in return for my prayers and the simplest of favours…

To all those lottery managers who have designated ME as the chance beneficiary of their worldwide gaming pursuits…

To those forward-thinking companies that are willing to hire my services sight, unseen, in exchange for free laptops, company cars, on-line managerial positions, superlative salaries and eye-popping perks…

To all those generous Spokespersons for Microsoft, et al, offering free bounty and free booty in exchange for a humble click of my mouse…

To all those enterprising souls who are lining up to provide me with pain-free college diplomas, cameras, cell phones, street drugs, therapeutic arm bangles, magic elixirs, anti-aging potions, insurance brokerage, hot penny stocks, cut-rate software, DNA-kits to trace my genes back to Einstein, Mata Hari, Peter the Great, Queen Elizabeth I, Genghis Kahn and Jesus Christ Himself…

Thanks also to those who would illuminate my darkest past and brilliantine future in the stars, ancient runes or Tarot cards…

Once and for all—thank you thank you thank you—for so constantly thinking of me. Your cyber messages appear more regularly and faithfully than many of my friends. It’s touching to know that in the 17 minutes and 57 seconds it took me to compose my grateful thoughts, there will be hundreds more of your unsolicited missives collecting in my inbox. I must run now…

Time to hoist a broom and sweep those cherished little love messages into the stardust void from which they came.




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