Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

To be fair, I have no idea what the context was. A panel discussion of some sort, televised. (I had come across it by chance.) The man of science was a handsome devil. The women were all for him, no question. And there he was saying how it is the male of the species is redundant in a biological sense and soon enough women will be well rid of the male. He seemed to take quite a lot of pleasure in saying as much, and the women seemed to take quite a lot of pleasure in hearing as much. Given the track record of the male of the species, he perhaps had a point to carry. In any case, we’re a vile lot, I thought to myself, we whites of the species, and that would include all the genders. Labrosse, nonetheless, now has magisterial existence in his old age. Basement suite, suburban splendour somewhere on the South Shore in a realm as fabled to me as were the Hyperboreans to a bunch of Greeks. He is with his daughters as Lot might have been with his. But it means no more wine cow in Nikas of an evening. Which is where I met with him on the eve of his departure, E on shift; and she is about to retire from the fray and acquire a respectable job as a translator for some ad agency or other (market forces such as would vend cosmetics to the female of the species). Labrosse had droll words for the Quebec election, the American election campaign, a possible hockey strike (hockey is a sport that once sucked up all his passion and now only rates his indifference, as it is more and more a product of market forces, showcase violence a selling point). E had no droll words, just droll looks for us old geezers, as she knows she has disappointed us; and yet she is somewhat tickled to have as her most ready to hand excuse her inkling of the fact that we have probably failed her; seeing as we have been unable to impress upon her that life is rather unforgiving and she cannot continue to pretend she knows a great deal more than she actually does and get away with it. She is getting away with it, a certain sauce in her loping from customer to customer testifying to her thievery, lowly waitress on top of the world. As I looked out the window of the restaurant, between swallows of wine, I said to myself: it won’t be as if there hasn’t been sufficient warning. There are hundreds, if not thousands of Chicken Littles all harping on the same theme: so much gone wrong and yet, the house of cards still stands. The following night saw me at a soirée over at Juniper’s. With the exception of the John Fahey albums, he treated us to bad guitar music just to see me froth at the mouth and spleen. I was incensed, as cued. Some discussion as to what constitutes true music as opposed to marketable noise. The alternative to the alternative to the alternative to the alternative culture – hasn’t it long since gotten a little absurd? It was effing hot and humid, and the effing little wretch of a host had no fan in the apartments. Even so, I have enjoyed the spectacle of the Nikas flower box in the cool of the morning, marigolds oohing and aahing in their temporary reprieve from the next bout of sweltering to come. That it has perhaps been even hotter in Toronto causes one to retain belief in justice. London Lunar declares the 40s and 50s and 60s to be the Golden Age of American biographical writing. He says: Bate on Johnson and Keats; Pottle on Boswell, Sewell on Emily Dickinson, Mack on Pope, and a pox on all your houses, you accountants screwing up literature and substituting genuine passion and knowledge with this or that saleable ‘angle’—There had been – I recall it now – Juniper the hapless host redeeming himself somewhat by a reading aloud of the following: Not because happiness really exists, that precipitate profit of imminent loss—And: Are we perhaps here for just saying: House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate, Jug, Fruit tree, Window— and so forth and so on, and then: that they should be wearing their own worn threshold a little—Well, Rilke the poet was a ponce, but sometimes one hell of a poet. Who cares, eh? Otherwise, I follow the spectacle of P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, as he hits new low levels (or would it be high notes) of caustic utterance in respect to the Republicans whose political suicide is taking a country down with it. But man, what enabling, what enabling.