Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I love reading blogs from writers who live in different countries and cities. It allows me to be a voyeur into their lives, which are so similar, yet different in subtle and interesting ways. Even the United States is so different from Canada, although we are neighbours. There are huge differences between New York, San Diego, Alabama, the mid-west, and Seattle. I enjoy trying to pick out the subtle cultural/geographical differences.

I love reading "Made in Brazil" because it gives me insight into their sexy, social and machismo culture, that can be dangerous, yet is surprisingly flexible when it comes to sex between men. I love reading "Tokio Bleu," because it shows me contemporary Japanese culture, which tends to be creative, gentle, intelligent and whimsically fashionable. "Is Mise" informs me on the daily life of an Irish man – going to pubs, drinking beer, socializing, joking around and yet being worldly.

Of course I’m generalizing, and steriotypifying to a large degree. But sometimes it’s helpful to do so, to gain some insight. Reading blogs from other countries makes me reflect on my own culture – Vancouver, BC, Canada. I’ll attempt to make some generalizations.

1. Vancouver is fairly multi-cultural. Other than Caucasians, the largest majority of the population are Asians (mostly Chinese, some Japanese), and then Middle Eastern and Indians. Within two blocks of me, there are three Asian restaurants. There are so few black people that when you see one, you’re surprised.

2. My Mexican roommate noticed that everyone reads on the transit here – not just newspapers, but also books.

3. I think it’s simply being a Pacific Coast city…but the main thing I noticed when I moved here is that intensity and anger is not allowed or tolerated here. Unlike Toronto, people go out of their way to appear easy-going, relaxed and non-intense. If you become intense or angry, you’re treated like a freak. Unfortunately the negative side of this is that so many people are passive-aggressive on the West Coast of Canada.

4. While there is some cultural activity in this city, it cannot be compared to Toronto or East Coast cities. After having lived here for a while, I went back to Toronto and was amazed by how so many people engaged me in an intelligent conversation about politics, the world, the arts, religion and society. These topics tend to be too intense for the West Coast.

5. Nearly everyone here is involved in physical activity – working out, hiking, swimming, sailing, skateboarding (one of the top city planners who is openly gay and 50 years old, rides to work on his skateboard everyday), rollerblading, walking, cycling, camping. It’s because nature is so prevalent here. Nature overtakes culture in this city.

6. Even though we have a huge gay population, there’s only a handful of clubs. I believe the majority of gay men (who are 28 plus) don’t ever go to a club. You’ll only meet these guys by becoming a part of their dinner party circle, gym or favourite sport. You’ll see them at large special event parties though, with their shirts off.

7. Vancouver is mostly anti-fashion. You’ll practically never seen a woman with make-up, high heels and wearing a dress. No one wears black, unless you’re an immigrant. Black is too intense.

8. No one smokes in Vancouver. You’re not allowed to, anywhere. If you’re smoking outside a building, you need to be 3 metres away from the door.

9. There is a yoga studio and natural health store every block. Along with Asian restaurants. Sushi is cheap here!

10. Since it rains 6 months of every year in Vancouver, people squint when the sun comes out (unless they’re wearing sunglasses). It really is a shock when the sun comes out and the sky is clear.

I love Vancouver!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

An admission

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been celibate (thanks for the spelling correction, Maloney). Except for a single sexual experience in December 2004, which I paid for (I hired an escort), I’m re-virginizing myself. The escort experience was fine, but not worth the cost ($200 per hour).

This is my process:

• I break up with my partner, with whom I’m in love
• To get over the pain, I have lots of sex with mostly anonymous guys for about six months
• I get bored with the absence of intimacy and meaning
• I give up sex.
• Once I feel renewed, re-virginized, and pure, I end up meeting someone special.

I think I’ll be ready to date again, at the end of July.

What’s great about hiring an escort is that I don’t have to go to a gay club to pick someone up, or go online and take my chances, and I know what I’m getting.

That’s why I’ve been blogging about past experiences in the last year and a half. I have no new experiences to share.

I’ve done this every time I’ve broken up with a partner. I have sex with lots of guys for a while, then get bored, get celibate, then after a year or more, meet someone new.

That’s how I work.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Celine Dion & Quebec Canada - The English-Speaking Canadian's Perspective

A difficult relationship exists between English and French-speaking Canadians. It can be seen in the way that each perceives international singer Celine Dion. To English-speaking Canadians she epitomizes the Quebecois. Canada is a relatively accepting country - after all, we're a very multicultural society. So I'm not sure why so many English speakers have such a derogatory opinion of native Quebecers.

English-speaking Canada (ESC) tends to find Celion Dion "embarrassing." If we were American, we'd be celebrating the fact that "one of our own" is acknowledged as being the world's best "pop" singer and performer. But no, not us ESCers.

While we might acknowledge that French-Canadians are the most social, best looking, highest cultured, most sexual and fashionable of Canadians (when administered truth serum and under oath), we don't like them because they're "show offs."

I just watched a new biography on Celine Dion, this evening. It was very well done. It gave me new insight as to why I have such a difficult relationship to her.

There are two reasons.

Celine Dion's accent is hard on the ears. It's just plain UGLY. It's has none of the purity of Parisian French. It's Quebecois French. In the rest of Canada, we call it FROG language. French-Canadians speak through their nostrils. Imagine pinching your nasal passage and then pronouncing "wah, wah, wah." That's what they sound like to us.

I can hear hear Celine's Quebecois accent in her mostly lovely singing voice. It really upsets me and makes me wonder if the rest of the world is deaf. (Can't you hear it too?)

But I think the worst thing that offends my ECS sensibilities is that she is SO confident. To be that confident is okay for Americans. It's not okay for Canadians. We're not allowed to be that in-your-face about it. It's improper. Celine is so super-confident, so perfectly honest, so real and without any apparent guile it just seems...un-Canadian. And please, most Canadians wouldn't admit to visiting Las Vegas, nevermind living there.

ECSers have built our national identity on self-flagellation. We criticize ourselves, our politicans, government, economics, culture and talent incessantly. We're never good enough, and we're proud of it - but quietly proud. Our greatest sense of national unity comes from a Molson Canadian beer commercial called "I am Canadian." Our identity is created not out of an existential self-determinism, but out of what we are not. We're not American.

The Quebecois aren't American either. They're a weird hybrid of Parisian self-importance and...some permutation of Canadian culture.

Let me end with our theme song, which summarizes much better than our national anthem does, what we're all aboot about:

I'm not a lumberjack,
or a fur trader...
and I don't live in an igloo
or eat blubber, or own a dogsled...
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really, really nice.

I have a Prime Minister,
not a President.
I speak English and French,
NOT American.
and I pronouce it ABOUT,

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, NOT policing.
DIVERSITY, NOT assimilation,