Tag Archives: Hamont

Becoming a Pillar of the Community

Friends,

I often talk about building a strong community; the kind of place with trust and reciprocity where I would feel comfortable raising a child. But as of late I haven’t been living that goal to an extent that satisfies me. So last week I decided to fill my schedule and do something that thrust me into the community every day. I started Saturday…

Saturday June 18/2016
After spending a day outdoors rediscovering the beauty of nearby Dundas Valley, I showered up, put on my best grey wife-beater and headed to a tantric sex seminar at local community hub, Avalon House. It was a small, intimate setting and the attendees were all quite friendly. My only qualm was the instructor; she wasn’t the greatest presenter of information and was someone who I got frustrated with just listening to. At one point she demonstrated synchronized breathing with me (I breathed out with my mouth while she inhaled with her nose, and vice versa, while staring into each other’s eyes) and it was really tough to make a spiritual connection cause her breath was really bad. Plus, she kept trying to overtly demonstrate mastery in extraneous ways -i.e. when she asked if anyone had ever been massaged I mentioned that a girl I dated used to give me massages. She was quick to point out that the girl probably didn’t really know what she was doing. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the girl was a licensed massage therapist who worked at the Renaissance Hotel where pro athletes stay when they visit to play the Jays. Plus, she kept implying that I was gay in spite of the fact that my interest in women had been established naturally in prior conversation. I wasn’t bothered by this, but it felt like a heavy-handed neg.
I had to depart early and head to the Summer Solstice ritual for the Wiccan Church of Canada, but alas when I got to the venue I discovered that they weren’t there which was kind of a bummer because I was looking forward to sacrificing a small mammal and then smearing its entrails all over my genitals before engaging in a ritualistic orgy.
PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY!

Sunday June 19/2016
Mostly took it easy, although later in the afternoon, Kelton, Kay and myself did go check out some open houses. Trying to make ACCESS as reality….
Later in the evening I headed back downtown for the SalsaSoul social. It was a lot of fun. There was a lesson in Zizomba (not Zumba) and then after basic steps were learned it transformed…degenerated….evolved maybe?… yeah, it evolved into a dance party with salsa in the main hall and Zizomba on the patio. Since I don’t know how to Salsa I spent most of my time on the patio but it was a great learning experience. I’ve never had much in the way of formal training in dancing but some older ladies there who were a lot more experienced and forgiving of my newness made for great partners as they knew how to follow and it made me better at leading.

QUICK TANGENT: Men and women have different roles to play in dancing, but noone is crying SEXISM! And why? I think it’s because even though the man “leads” (and he most certainly does), what is he without his partner? Nothing. They are not equal, insofar as equal implies sameness, because they are most assuredly different. But they are complementary (not complimentary….I hate when people mix these two up) and therefore both completely necessary, inextricable and beautiful in their paired completeness.
I know, I know, caveman misogynist thinking…..

BACK TO DANCING…. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the social -beautiful people (WOMEN!) of all different ages dressed casually and everyone was so warm and welcoming. It felt a lot more organic and conducive to making meaningful connections than being at a nightclub. This is good, because I do want to go out dancing more. In fact, dancing once a month is a resolution of mine and it seems a lot more attainable now that I’ve found not only a venue but a scene in which I feel I can thrive.

Monday June 20/2016
Today, I did some work for my friend, Amy. It’s nice working for her; she feeds me well, makes great espresso and she pays cash. I jetted home around 2:30, grabbing a bottle of Campari en route then drew a bath, smoked a little dope and indulged in the liquor while listening to a 70s funk classic playlist on youtube. Incidentally, this playlist gave me the idea for the title of my next post which will tentatively be called, “Whitey’s Goin’ to Mars” so look out for that -it’s gonna be hot. Also, I think I’m gonna start learning how to play bass…
What does this have to with community engagement? Well, not much except to point out that I was still kinda drunk and high when I went to my first Toastmasters meeting. Now I wasn’t killed or anything but I certainly felt…..expanded. Going in as a guest I figured I would be silent and observe but after I introduced myself during introductions, a longtime member, Nathalie, felt that I was ready for prime-time. When the chair indicated it was her time to relate a humorous story she passed the buck to me, feeling that I had the confidence and the chops to do so. Faced with no choice but to rise to the occasion I got up and reverted to this sort of default faux-bewildered posture I put on when I’m trying to come across as endearing to crowds. I’m not sure how it comes across to my audience but to me it feels Matthew McConaughey-ish. If you’ve ever seen me affect this persona and disagree as to the extent of its McConaughey-ishness please keep your opinions to yourself. IT’S MCCONAUGHEY-ISH DAMMIT!!
So I told a humorous story and then later during a portion called table topics I gave a riveting one-minute speech about play-doh. How do I know it was riveting? Because I got a shiny gold trophy, BITCH!!

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“Best Table-Topic Speech.” -Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

So, basically I can retire from Toastmasters undefeated at this point. Ha, just kidding going back next week (blind, stinking sober) to give a speech of the
“life lessons” variety. So that should be fun.

So, What Does Tomorrow Have in Store?
Well, I have tentative plan to go to improv tomorrow, and after that a writer’s group I’ve been meaning to attend on Wednesday. But this feels cool and right to me and its amazing how quickly a “should” becomes a necessity when you put it into your phone’s daytimer.

Anyways gotta sleep now.

Annnnd maybe just one more Campari….

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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A Unified Worldview vs. A Dualistic One

Friends,

The video counterpart for this post can be found here.

There is a prevalent myth in the Western  world about “celebrating diversity.” It is a noble idea in theory but I argue that in practice it leads to problems. You see, by celebrating diversity we have to presuppose separation and difference. And certainly, to look around the world it’s very easy to view things and people as individuated and self-contained, rather than seeing them as all part of the same global process. To quote Jacque Fresco, “You don’t see the plug up our asses,” so it’s very easy to forget that we’re all connected to something larger.

This illusion of separation is particularly deceiving in the world of opinion, viewpoint, ideology and religion. Everyone espouses and subscribes to their own ideas in these fields and if they are polite and well-mannered they will profess to have respect for all different ideas, opinions and worldviews. But what does that really mean? Well, for starters, by respecting different viewpoints there is an acknowledgement of difference in the first place which means that there is an implicit recognition of superiority in one’s own viewpoint. After all, if someone didn’t think their own viewpoint was the best, they wouldn’t subscribe to it, yes? So not only do we see superficial separation based on nothing more than a different estimation of reality, but we see other worldviews instantly as inferior in spite of our best and noblest intentions. Again, if these other worldviews were as good as ours, we would subscribe to them instead.

What we need to do is stop looking at different view points as separate end-points and view them as all part of the same emergent process of finding truth. Some people’s outlooks represent a closer approximation to reality perhaps than others, but as different as viewpoints may be, they are all part of the same beautiful search for truth that we are all engaging in. That is the benchmark and common denominator in all discourse and exchanges of ideas.

To put it in a phrase: The dualistic eye looks at other viewpoints and thinks. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even though they are wrong and I am right.” The unified eye looks at other viewpoints and thinks, “Everyone is formulating all these wacky ideas, just trying their hardest to figure out life –just like me!

We have to acknowledge that we as individuals (and by extension, as societies) have never been 100% percent, empirically right about anything. All we have are approximations of reality which, if we are lucky, are moving closer and closer to truth as we refine our methods and keep inquiring.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
Twitter: @dreguan
Youtube: dreguan
Facebook: Andre Guantanamo
IMDb: Andre Guantanamo
Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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The Importance of Being Objectified

Friends,

I’m writing this post as a companion piece to a vlog I just recorded and am currently uploading which can be found here. In said vlog I discuss how being sought after and lusted after is a relatively new experience for me and it’s awesomeness wore off quick. Oftentimes, accentuating my physique with certain clothing choices has been more problematic than anything.

ANDRE GUANTANAMO 3
Woe is me.

This first occurred to me doing improv a couple summers ago while wearing an undershirt. Every scene became about my exposed muscles and I didn’t want that to be the crux of every onstage interaction. So, I started wearing baggier clothes for that specific purpose as well as fuller cut t-shirts. I find myself going through this again now that I have recently started doing standup: I’ve been advised that being fit and relatively good-looking should be de-emphasized so that I’m more relatable and people feel more comfortable laughing at my jokes. It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow because on some level I feel like how I dress shouldn’t matter, but I’m finding out it does. I feel like my options at this point are to completely de-emphasize my physique with my clothing choices or go balls to the wall and own it, wearing nothing but wife-beaters and tight leather pants, essentially making a caricature of myself. While that could lead to some great jokes it might make it difficult to touch on more serious issues in earnest. So while I might experiment with the latter, I think that going forward, the best option would be to dress more neutrally.

However, the objectification isn’t all bad either. I have often gotten acting roles that required a fit or physically imposing actor based at least partly on how I looked. More often than not these have been roles with great depth that afforded me the opportunity to cultivate a strong character who just happened to be fit (see above photo). I’m certainly not shy about “pimping” my physique for such roles but I acknowledge that the way I look has an expiration date and that I have to base not only my career choices but my sense of self-worth on something more substantial than my physical appearance.

All in all, I think the experience of being objectified has been an important one. Had I never had it, I might have falsely believed it was the key to lasting happiness. It is decidedly not.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
Twitter: @dreguan
Youtube: dreguan
Facebook: Andre Guantanamo
IMDb: Andre Guantanamo
Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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The Most Useless Threat There Is

Friends,

I’ve been lying awake all night in spite of what was a very tiring (and very good) Thursday yesterday.  I was gonna wait out the whole night and get up with the sun, but at 4am you just have to say fuck it, time to get up!  Lying in bed awake all night is one of those things that has been pretty common for me lately but I don’t react to insomnia with the same stress that I used to react to it with in the past.  This is primarily because I don’t have any pressing engagements that I have to be well-rested or up early for (shout-out to all my under-employed mafuccas with nothing to wake up for in the am lol).

Anyhow, I want to speak briefly about something that has been going through my head these last few hours as I stared up at my ceiling.  You see, the past two days I have had two people threaten to call the cops on me.  The first one was on Wednesday and it was this chick who always seems to be wandering in my apartment hallway, drifting between the apartments of two of my neighbours whom  I suspect whom I am very certain are drug addicts.  So right there I am convinced this girl is up to no good.  But she doesn’t cause any problems so I kind of just look at her with impotent disdain.  That is until two days ago when she wore out her welcome among my building’s residents but didn’t want to leave the building.  She kept hammering on my neighbour, Carol’s door and I could hear Carol telling her to go away.

At this point enough was enough; whatever chemical adventures Carol may or may not be into, she is a sweet lady and she has always been nice to me.  So I went into the hallway and the conversation I had with the girl had me asking her if she even lived in the building and if she could please stop knocking cause obviously Carol didn’t want her around and she was causing a disturbance.  This chick didn’t seem very bright to me and this was confirmed when she accused me of harassing her and said she would call the cops if I didn’t stop.

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I thought this was rich and volunteered to call the cops for her.  I think this threw her for a loop because she seemed positively relieved when Carol relented and let her in.

One important thing to note is that I handled this situation well; I didn’t antagonize her and I remained calm.

Fast forward to the next day (yesterday).

The day started off grey and overcast so when it got sunny and clear in the mid-afternoon I was all about getting to the park, getting my tan on , doing some yoga, and working on a monologue for an upcoming audition.  Now for the record, I bike wherever the fuck I want, and rather than let broad sweeping by-laws prohibiting sidewalk-biking define the parameters of where I cycle, I let common sense prevail and try to avoid the sidewalk if its crowded.

Bearing that in mind I was biking on the road and I crossed onto the sidewalk at a driveway 20 feet before the beginning of the park so as to avoid hopping the curb.  Now some crossing-guard who I had biked past saw me do this and yelled some shit.  I stopped and took out my earphones and he told me I had to get off the sidewalk to which I responded, “No, I don’t,” to which he responded, “Then you’ll get a fine!” to which I yelled back, “I won’t pay it,” as I biked away and into the park.

I settled somewhere in the middle of the park, unfurled my mat and wouldn’t you know it, when he saw that I had stopped, he tentatively thought it over a sec and made his way over to give me grief.

I’d like to tell you about it, but I happened to have my camera running (Please make sure you read the video description).

Picture 3

I think I ‘clonkered his bonkers’

So yeah, I moved up from harassment to blackmail apparently and unlike the chick from the day before, this guy actually made good on his threat to call the cops.

The cop was actually cool about it and he kind of seemed embarrassed to be there, inferring that decorum dictated he follow up on a complaint made by a fellow municipal worker in uniform.  I was sympathetic to the position he was in and I had since calmed down (notice how gassed I was in that video, especially at the beginning).  I explained that regardless of whether I thought that guy was out of line I should not have escalated it like I did.  The cop seemed to appreciate my earnestness; I can only imagine he has dealt with countless fucktards all too willing to take a trifling matter like this to the supreme court.  I told the cop I would go find the old man and apologize for letting the situation escalate (though not for biking on the sidewalk) but I never got the chance because he finished his shift before I finished frolicking in the park.

Now I’ve been in this lamentable position before: rewind to October 2012 and I entered Toys R’ Us looking for a Batman mask to complete my Bane costume,

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only to be stopped and told that I had to surrender my knapsack => I just realized that I detailed this encounter in an earlier post so I won’t rewrite it.  But the end result was the same as my encounter with Johnny Crossing-Guard: I was not in the wrong but I let my emotions get the best of me and I got suckered into a conflict.  As someone who sees a lot of civil disobedience in my future, I can’t afford to be so careless.

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I take ‘violence’ to mean even violent language and causing hurt feelings

When I mulled over this post in my preceding hours of insomnia, I had crafted the title to encapsulate a certain idea of how futile threats of calling the cops were (Threatening to call the cops is an ultimatum; a Hail Mary thrown by people with no power when they are in way over their heads.  Anyone who has a legit reason to call 5-0 simply calls 5-0).  However, now that this post is written I’m not really sure what it’s about.  Hmmm, let’s just say that the moral of the story is that I’m a badass who is above the law and I’m looking to go 3 for 3 today and hopefully get accused of something more serious than harassment or blackmail.

For serious though, be polite and respectful to everyone you meet even if they are being cunty.  I fact, if they are being cunty they probably need politeness and courtesy even more.

Best,

-Andre Guantanamo

P.S. I feel like I may have left the wrong impression with my contrasting attitudes toward the crossing-guard and the cop.  It’s not like I have less respect for crossing-guards; they perform a valuable service (within the context of our obsolete infrastructure and modes of transportation).  I was heated when the crossing-guard spoke with me and I had chilled out when the cop approached me.  Pus, the cop approached me respectfully and wasn’t barking orders and threats.

Most importantly, he was acting in the capacity of a peace officer, trying to keep John Q. Public from killing each other and whatnot.  Had he started trying to give me tickets and enforcing statutes and regulations there probably would have been a different dynamic to our conversation.  One hopes I would have behaved like an adult, not dishonouring myself, instead of like an idiot as I had a few minutes earlier.

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Absent the Messenger

Dear All,*

Last night I volunteered at my improv school, The Staircase, for a performance called The Six-Minute Memoir.  As a fringe benefit of working the show (and I use the term “working” very loosely) I got to see 13 different writers share their experiences in writing and life.  All of them shared something of value which resonated with me to varying degrees, but I want to mention a thought I had when I was listening to the youngest speaker in the ensemble, Eva Kay.  Only 17, she is already an accomplished poet, and from what I could tell in the brief time I spoke with her, a lovely girl.

Yet I have to confess that I had some negative thoughts when she was reciting her poetry; She touched on some heavy themes and I started to think, “What serious shit has this girl ever dealt with that makes her think she knows about life?”  I mulled this thought over for a few seconds as I listened to her recite words that seemed pretentious from my clouded point of view, but then I realized something: It’s not about her experiences. it’s about mine.  Good poetry, good art for that matter, should be appreciated differently by each person because of their own different experiences, and not uniformly as a result of the experiences of the artist.  In fact, the art itself should have a transcendent quality wherein the artist’s disposition, experiences, etc. don’t even factor into your appreciation of their work.

I feel kind of dumb for lapsing into this trap of credentialism.  So often we go on the authority of what recognized masters say rather than seeing how a message resonates with us without prejudice.  And age-ism is just another form of this credentialism.  I assumed in my arrogance that because this girl did not share my struggle that she did not know struggle.  This is obviously malarky, and to that point one of my favourite quotations is,

“Everyone I know is in the fight of their life.” -Ben Harper, Better Way

Whether or not someone has been through what I’ve been through, they’ve been through something, and to them it was hard, like it was for me.  We really have to evaluate every cultural input as if it had no author, lest we allow our ignorance and prejudice to deprive us of some really wonderful things.

To punctuate this point, have you ever gone back and read something of your own volition which you were forced to read in school?  If you felt you got more out of it the second time around it wasn’t because the author’s experiences had changed (they might have been dead for years), it was because you had changed.  And, as well as reading in a more engaged manner, you had a different (not better, different) perspective that allowed you to get something out of the art which wasn’t there for you before.

The grand revelation is that it’s all about you: If you like a piece of art it’s because you see something positive of yourself in that art; if you are averse to a piece of art it’s because you see something of yourself in the art which you don’t like; if you are indifferent its probably because you don’t relate to it on any level.  Either way, the artist as the messenger shouldn’t factor into your judgment.

Best,*

-Andre Guantanamo

*Since I’ve abandoned the “Most Interesting” theme I used in blogger.com, I am not quite sure what I want to use as my intro and sign-off for my posts.  I may play around with a few things over the next few entries, so expect some inconsistencies.

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Sharing Scraps

My Friends,
   An earlier post from today detailed one part of my adventures from yesterday regarding the aftermath of a traffic collision.  This post could be considered its direct sequel, or perhaps a spiritual successor in that its concerns so-called “good intentions.”  However, in this case it was less about people using good intent as a mask for petty, retributive malice, and more about people honestly believing they were doing right and being obstinate toward the suggestion that there efforts might be misguided.
   As I walked away from the scene of the aforementioned collision,

More or less, exactly what I looked like walking away except I wasn’t wearing a leather jacket.

I approached that bastion of upscale retail, Jackson Square.  For those not familiar with Hamilton, Ontario, that would be sarcasm.
   Anyhow as I approached it I noticed two reps from “Because I am a Girl” soliciting sponsorship for third world girls.  One girl called to me as I was crossing the street.  I supposed I looked like an easy mark for a charity as my attire (yoga pants, yoga mat on backpack, FiveFingers shoes, lilac-coloured bandana and skateboard in tow) bespoke a left-leaning individual burdened with a goodly amount of liberal guilt.
   I let her run her pitch to me about some girl from whereverthefuck-istan who, through the efforts (money) of sponsors had risen to become the first female lawyer in her proud country.  FTR I don’t think too much of the legal profession but for this girl’s sake and since we were about to butt heads on more important issues I feigned like I was impressed by this young 3rd world girl’s achievement.  
   The chick giving me the speech, let’s call her Mary Sue, gave me the full sales pitch which included well-worn lines like:
“I’m gonna level with you, we’re out here fundraising today”
“It’s really not so much about the money” (a direct contradiction to the first line)
“Have you ever been to a developing country?” (I guess this was used as an icebreaker to gain my empathy)
When she had exhausted her supply of anecdotal stories about minor achievements in third world shit-holes (with me, all the while smiling politely and trying not to come off like a smug, cynical asshole ) she came out with it and asked me if I would like to support her cause.
I don’t know if she was taken aback by my frankness, but she asked me why so I began asking her why the hypothetical street girl turned lawyer was impoverished and she told me something indistinct about not enough schools.  When I asked her why there were no schools she said there was no one to build them.  I of course, asked why and she said she didn’t know and asked me if I knew.  Without getting too in-depth I explained (none too eloquently, as if often the case when your audience is not receptive) that the reasons for the impoverishment of the third world were structural and that in-the-box solutions like charities only helped a sick system limp on a little longer when it should be allowed to fail.  As I explained this her eyes seemed to glaze over.  I went on to talk about just like there was absolute poverty in some parts of the world there was relative poverty here in Canada which was also structural. Not grasping the distinction between absolute and relative, she started protesting that noone in Canada or the US was starving and they all had a place to sleep if they wanted it.  I wasn’t about to argue her on this point but I felt tempted to say “google any number of Indian reservations or Camden, NJ, or Detroit, MI or Baltimore, MD or Florida slavery.”  I didn’t mention these things because I wasn’t wanting to convey the notion that we should focus on domestic problems at the expense of international ones (the Libertarian platform) but rather that things are tough all over and that all of these problems are connected.  
   Like I said though she was unreceptive, and though the conversation remained cordial I don’t feel I expressed myself well.  The tragedy of the situation is that the world needs good people like her, filled with passionate intensity to do the right thing, but it needs them to be better educated about causality and what leads to poverty, crime, violence, and the abuse of females.  
   Me throwing what limited money I have at the problem is not gonna solve the problem.   That doesn’t mean that we should never use our monetary resources to help others.  By all means, buy someone a sandwich or a coffee or whatever, but understand that the more valuable gift is your time.  Real charity, that is to say, charity that actively works to bring about the day where charity is no longer required, does not require large, established foundations to redistribute cancerous debt-based currency after it has taken its cut.  It simply requires good, educated people to take account of the eventualities of their actions and modify their behaviour accordingly.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Robed in Good Intentions

My Friends,
   Yesterday was an interesting day for a few reasons but one particularly interesting happening was that I witnessed someone getting hit by a car.  Rather I witnessed the aftermath of someone getting hit by a car, which in some ways is worse.  Like I said, I didn’t actually see dude get hit by a car, instead I was walking north on James St. S when my reverie was interrupted by a woman yelling at a car “I SAW YOU! YOU HIT HIM! STOP! YOU HIT THAT MAN!”
   The car, which was stopped in the middle of the intersection as she yelled, completed its turn and pulled over.  A well-dressed young man stepped out and ran over to the man he allegedly had just hit.  The man was getting up kind of wobbly and mercifully the shrewish woman had ceased her rantings.
   I didn’t see anyone in a rush to dial 911 so I did and just mentioned that dude had gotten hit by a car and that he was on the other side of the road so I couldn’t tell if he was badly damaged.  In order to help the dispatcher out some, I walked over to the guy and confirmed that he was wiping some blood from his face but that I didn’t want to crowd him because he already had some people around him, not least of which the concerned motorist who allegedly hit him.
   As I approached to get a closer look for the sake of 911 the shrewish woman yelled to me “Did you see what happened?”  I looked at her with more disdain than was probably necessary and said “no.”  I explained to 911 that I wasn’t an eyewitness and I was looking to be on my way so I got off the phone with them and continued on my journey.  So ended my involvement in said matter.
   Now you have probably noticed my harsh sentiments toward the lady who originally caught my attention with her rantings.  What pissed me off about her was that she seemed to me like a no-account person who found herself in a position to be important for one day and seized upon it.  She seemed to be revelling in her importance and it would not surprise me if she recounted her role in this minor affair til her last days.  Like people who clamor for harsh, inhumane punishments for criminals, she seemed more interested in pointing out the guilt of the motorist than attending to the injured party (interestingly enough the person who seemed most concerned for the injured party was the motorist, although I concede that self-preservation may have been a factor here).
   I was reminded of the story of Orestes, son of Agamemnon, who killed his mother and uncle, after they had killed his father upon his return from the Trojan War.  Until he was cleared by the Gods, Orestes was tormented by the brass-clawed Furies who taunted him pointing out his guilt (Matricide) unyieldingly while clawed at him.  This woman was a Fury.  Her sole purpose seemed to be tormenting the “guilty party” and to me there’s no merit in that because it does nothing to make things better.
   I don’t know the outcome of the accident/investigation but my primary hope is that the injured party had no severe injuries and if he did that they will be addressed.  My secondary hope is that the motorist, probably someone who just made a mistake rather than a malicious misanthrope, does not have egregious legal fees and life disturbances to deal with on account of one lapse in judgement.  My third hope, and it is almost foolish to hope for given how unlikely it seems, is that the woman who drew my attention to the occurrence realizes that pointing out guilt and blame and ostracizing offenders does nothing to make the world a better place.  Like I said, I won’t hold my breath on that last one.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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