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Being Mindful of Transgressions

Friends,

The video counterpart for this post can be found here.

A few years back I attended a Vipassana meditation retreat in Cooksville, Ontario. It was a ten-day retreat based on the teachings of S.N. Goenka, and in addition to the long hours of meditation there were also a series of observances each attendee was required to accept. The complete list escapes me, but the most important ones were: no talking, no electronics, no eating of meat, no killing another living creature, no meals after midday and NO STEALING. Quite unexpectedly, this last observance was problematic for me and breaking this guideline led to perhaps my greatest lesson about mindfulness,

It was late February and snowy during the retreat and when entering the meditation hall we would ditch our jackets and boots in the foyer area which would, not surprisingly, get wet and dirty. At one point I was the last one into the hall and since the outer door was ajar and my own boots were a pain to slip on and off, I slipped into someone else’s boots to close the door. Instantly, and very unexpectedly I was overcome with a feeling of guilt; I had just stolen.

Was it temporary theft? Yes, only three to five seconds.

Did it cause any deprivation? No, the owner of the shoes was already in the hall starting his practice.

Was it for a good purpose? Yes, I was closing the door to keep us all warm.

But I knew all of that didn’t matter from a morality perspective.

Now, at this point I want to reiterate that I don’t really buy into morality myself, but I still was troubled because the person who owned the boots likely did. And this transgression, paltry and trifling though it may have been, was still an act of theft.

I brought this up to one of the meditation leaders, Bob at the next day’s optional counseling session. He was shocked when I mentioned I had stolen but as he heard me out he asked if, out in the real world I would have thought twice about slipping on those shoes. I told him “probably not.” According to him, it was a good thing to have happened because it showed that I was starting to think in more mindful terms, looking at the implications of my actions and considering the damage they could do in their ultimate expressions (i.e. larger theft, mugging or the taking of life-giving essentials). For me, it was an important beginning of looking at the things I was doing in my life and extrapolating them out to their logical conclusions and ultimate ends.

I think that very often we glaze over the fact that we let our ends justify our means because the negative means we employ on a day-to-day basis very often seem so trifling and paltry. For example, we would all likely have at least some compunction about taking a life, even if it was for the positive end of saving many. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s called empathy and it’s a good thing. However, our empathy is rarely sensitive or trained enough to consider that even something comparatively benign, say the act of marking up a price so that you can feed your own family, even that is a negative means for an ostensibly positive end. It is causing deprivation to one group to alleviate the deprivation of another. Survival at the expense of others cheapens the lives of all.

I don’t mean to come down on anyone here who has to eke out their survival at the expense of others. If that was my intent, I would be coming down on everyone including myself; such is the nature of our competitive socio-economic system: we are all complicit in instituting deprivation against each other. Nor do I mean to give a scathing indictment of our current scarcity-based socio-economic system; I have done that ad nauseum and I will certainly do so again at certain points in the future. Rather, I simply mean to shed light on the fact that we should be mindful of our actions, no matter how trifling or benign they seem and be aware that if those actions were amplified by orders of magnitude, they just might be more violent and deprivation-causing than we realize.

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

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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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HA HA! DATING!

“I have infinite hate in my blood; it’s mainly cause of the game of love.”
-Eminem, “Love Game

Friends,

A few months back I found myself newly-single. It wasn’t a bitter event; just two people who had simply grown apart. But for the first time in five years or so I found myself back in the dating game, and I was determined to be more mature and respectful about dating than I had been been as a walking hard-on back in my mid-20s. After all, you can’t be a jackass your whole life.

lemon
Or can you?…

Honesty (General)

Now I have to confess, relationship endings are often blurry affairs so I was already talking to and getting to know some people while still technically in a relationship. I guess I needed to fill that vacuum of companionship that had developed as me and my ex had grown apart. But the upshot was that psychologically I already had a little bit of momentum when I became single for realz, as opposed to previous break-ups where I basically found myself suddenly alone and feeling adrift and desperate. So with said momentum, the break-up came like a starting shot for a race, and I was off!
But like I said, I’m more mature than I was five years ago and I had a different set of priorities vis a vis relationships. I realized that I didn’t (don’t) want a traditional monogamous relationship as I have known thus far. Instead, I wanted (want) beautiful experiences with beautiful people. Some people call that poly-amory or other things, but anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not big on labeling things. So while I don’t know what to call what I want, romantic relationships for me must meet four important criteria:

1) Fun
2) Comfortable
3) Loving*
4) Not Possessive

And boy oh boy, have I ever taken flak for this. I have met some lovely, yet jaded women who see me as what is wrong with the dating world. Basically a guy who doesn’t want to make a commitment, and who wants to perpetually date or hang out. And for these viewpoints I have some sympathy, but only to a point, because I am not against commitment, or as I phrase it, making an investment in someone. However, I don’t want said commitment to preclude a beautiful experience with someone else.

If you’re fine and you won’t front, I don’t wanna be your man but I’ll hook ya up.”
-Coolio (NOT 2-Pac), Rollin’ With My Homies

The problem to me ultimately comes down to scarcity and abundance. Perhaps as a result of our competitive, scarcity-based socio-economic market system, people often go into the world of dating with a scarcity mind-set, worried that they can’t give away too much of what they have (vagina, money, etc.) without getting a commensurate amount in return. And, if you are in a relationship with that person, you are expected not to give too freely of what you have as they have proprietary rights to your sexuality,flirtatious overtures and even money.
Fuck that noise! I’m operating with an abundance mindset and what I have to offer to romantic partners I have in infinite supply (not money lol) so why would I (or they) share that beauty with only one person? That external restriction/ownership/scarcity mentality has fucked up everything else in the world, are we really gonna let it poison relationships?
Well yes apparently, as I have recently found out lol.
Another fairly major change between me now and last time I was single, is that I am not interested in hooking-up (sex) just to say I did or to get “my number” up. Mostly I don’t like the feeling of emptiness I’ve been left with during past one-nighters, but a big part of this is number 2 on my criteria list: Comfort. If there isn’t comfort as a result of familiarity not only will it not be enjoyable, but more often than not I will have trouble performing (as certain ladies reading this might be able to attest to :-S). So I am very up front and honest with people at the outset about what my priorities and desires are because I don’t want a relationship predicated on a lie. Someone will be unfulfilled, hurt or both.

Honesty (Specific)

On the topic of being up front and honest with people is also not being ashamed of particular desires. If there’s a certain way you like to fuck, that you might have grown accustomed to, but that might be a little outside the realm of normative sexuality (as if there is such a thing) bringing it up to a new partner can bring some anxiety. Rather than getting into the best way to bring things up in the bedroom (or my own personal tried and true method of bringing kinks up lol) I will just say that I have learned to be just as open and up front about these predilections and desires as I am about my broader relationship objectives. Life is, after all, too short for mediocre sex.

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Pretty much this exactly…

Work Ethic

I don’t really love using the word “work” in relation to dating and relationships but it takes discipline to put yourself out there and in my experience “out there” is where the adventures happen. For example, when I found myself single I began to challenge myself to cold-approach at least one girl a day. For those not in the know, a “cold approach” would be chatting up a random girl in public. It’s a hard sell, especially with the feminist backlash against cat-callers and other harassers, but overall I find that approaching earnestly and honestly perhaps segue-ing into it after making conversation is a safe bet. I often (okay, usually) won’t get a number, but I have yet to be accused of patriarchal oppression. #GreatJob!
I have a few other things to say about cold approaches so bear with me:
Like many men in the early to mid 2000s, I read Neil Strauss’ book, The Game and was captivated by it. Having read it before a planned backpacking excursion to Australia, I joined the Mystery Method forum which the book told of (now The Attraction Forums) and put up an open ad saying that I was a Canadian sarger (or pick-up artist) traveling all around Australia and I wanted to work with different members in different cities. And WORK we did. We hit the bars hard and challenged to ourselves to chat up every group we could. It was scary. But then something happened; it stopped being scary. By getting over approach-anxiety I was able to have more natural, less contrived conversations with women which I can only imagine they appreciated more than some nervous guy stuttering some canned opener. Sure, every night we needed to warm up and the first few “sets” as we affectionately called them were always a crapshoot, but by and large we ended up talking to many gorgeous and wonderful women who might otherwise have been too intimidating to approach. Simply put, we spent so much time outside of our comfort zones that they grew to accommodate us (our comfort zones, that is). To get back to my point in a roundabout way, I am in the process of getting back to that serene place where I can approach any woman regardless of my insecurities (of which there are many) or her physical beauty or social standing. If you think about it, those latter two things are really superficial and stand as an impediment to genuine and meaningful human relations, so training myself to disregard them is actually a service to humanity.
And yes, to answer your next question, I do in fact, believe all my bullshit. 😀
The other thing I wanted to say about cold-approaching is that I have often brought it up when speaking with other actors, making the point that it is analogous to auditioning; The more you do it the less anxious you are, the less anxious you are, the more you put the casting directors at ease and everybody is happy. And in both auditions and cold-approaches sometimes you can do everything right and still not get the role or the phone number. Maybe they wanted a different look or she had a boyfriend and maintains a steadfast devotion to monogamy beyond the point of reason. Who knows!? It happens, but you can still learn from these experiences and walk away with a satisfaction that you only get from laying yourself bare and truly connecting with someone.

Age May Be Nothing But a Number, But it’s An Important Number

A peculiar thing happens when you chat up girls on the street and not just in bars. You see, the real world has no bouncer making sure everyone is of age, so very often you find yourself talking to someone who is “south of proper” with regard to age. I don’t know if its a really uncomfortable rite of passage or what, but you will never forget the first time you find yourself talking with a girl and upon some romantic/suggestive word from you, she reveals that she is underage. All you can really do is smile and eject from the situation. In fact, it would be really handy occasion to have a smoke pellet to facilitate escape.

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NINJA, VANISH!

I don’t know what it is, but this shit never happened to me until I started approaching 30 and it got especially creepy. I will say two final things about this: 1) the reality that you could chat up a girl who is criminally underage creates an imperative that you approach women respectfully and perhaps not be too forward at the outset. Not only is it more tactful but you might avoid committing a crime, and 2) Always know the age of consent.

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Part II + Avoiding the Hatred Pitfall
But here we got off on a tear about jailbait when there are actually much more sublime implications to age as it pertains to relationships. Like, for example, the difference between a girl who is 20 and a girl who is 28. By and large I find the latter much more receptive to my particular brand of honest, sincere and deliberate intention. And, old maid anxiety notwithstanding, older women are usually more comfortable about exploring relationships outside the conditioned norms. On the other hand, younger girls frustrate the shit out of me. Remember at the beginning of this post where I said I wanted to approach dating in a mature and respectful way? Well, some motherfuckers aren’t gonna respect you unless you’re an asshole to them. Or they flake out on you if you make yourself too available. The shit can be infuriating. I know I should probably avoid people who force me to use artifice and cunning in the pursuit of them, but what can I say, sometimes my dick is in the driver’s seat and doesn’t want to stop at the gas station and ask my brain (or heart) for directions. However, I’ve been pretty successful at not hating these people, although I think it’s an easy trap to fall into. I think every guy reading this has had a revenge-fuck fantasy about some girl who snubbed him and that’s not really the route I wanna go, tempting though it may be. I wanna deal squarely with everyone, hard as that may be sometimes.
One thing I find works for me is always blaming myself for the success or failure of any interaction. At the end of the day I can only affect my own behaviour after all, so if a girl isn’t feeling me I evaluate how I could alter my approach for next time. It doesn’t matter that she may be nuttier than squirrel shit and an all-around unpleasant harpy who delights in the misery of men, that’s her business. My business is what it has always been: dealing with her and everyone else more lovingly and meaningfully. As soon as you take responsibility for the outcome of every interaction you have, you make it very difficult to hate other people because you’re constantly asking yourself what you could have done better, not “why are they so FUCKED?!”

Murkiness vs. Full Disclosure

Guys, have you ever asked a girl out expecting that she knew it was a date? You go out and get along swimmingly, you may even pay for everything to sweeten the deal and then she tells you she has a boyfriend, or doesn’t invite you in, etc.? Of course, we’ve all been here, and its even worse when you try and take it to that romantic level and it makes her uncomfortable and the rest of the time together becomes shitty and awkward. Let a girl know ahead of time where you stand even if it means risking “the friendship” because if you don’t you’re basically living a lie and putting unfair pressure on her. What are we really afraid of? When I think of every girl I’ve been friends with but also attracted to, not one of those friendships was too precious to subject to the light of truth and my actual intentions, and I regret past instances where I wasn’t forthright when I should have been.
Bottom line: if you are going to meet up with a girl and you have any doubt that she knows for sure its a date, let her know. You will save yourself approximately a metric shitload of heartache and you’re doing her a service as well because it lets her better plan which underwear to wear and whether to shave or not 😉

The Company Ink

Just kidding! there’s only company ink if you have an actual job. I on the other hand am an actor, or a freelancer if I wanna sound marginally more respectable. That said, I have probably fallen in love with at least 90% of my female co-stars and a goodly number of the crew members as well. I can’t help it! They’re fucking hot! And like me, they’re driven and aspire to something greater than the slow death of an ordinary life. What’s not to love? The people I work with on set are, by and large some of the most inspiring people I have ever met as they reflect back to me all of the things I like best about myself.
Buuuuuut, people talk and nobody wants to get the rep as that sleazy guy who hits on everyone on set. That’s not to say don’t hook up, but I’m not sure what my particular line is or if I even draw a line. On some level I am a creature of opportunity, and if some hot starlet was feeling me and was “bout it, bout it” I might find it difficult to focus on maintaining my reputation, such as it is.
*Note to female co-stars, past, present and future: I’m probably “into” you and would be amenable to getting to you know you better.

Moving Forward

Things are going okay I guess. But I’m realizing something very profound: these types of relationships I’m pursuing are not static. That is to say you don’t just have a couple of relationships that more or less take care of and maintain themselves. Instead, things are in a constant state of flux, and you’re only “with” someone when you’re with someone.

“Ma, our time together is our time together, and our time apart is our time apart.”
-Jay-Z, Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix)

It’s good in a lot of regards. It creates an imperative to “stay sexy,” and you don’t get bored of and stuck with people. Most importantly, its a constant reminder that life, like your relationships is in a constant state of flux, and the illusion of permanence is just that. So don’t hold onto things and people that no longer serve you. Instead, move forward righteously in the pursuit of beautiful experiences.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*I am very loosey-goosey with my use of the word love. That’s not to say I use it in vain; in fact, I am very deliberate in my use of it but I recognize that it comes into play in more than just familial and long-term monogamous relationships. I think you have to love everyone and on some level I do, even a girl I just met. And if me and someone else can’t be loving to each other, even from the outset then we really got no business being with each other.

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One Night as an Illegal Alien

Friends,

This past weekend, Toronto hosted World Pride 2014 and good times were had by all (except for the drunk, gay couple yelling at each other on Church & Gerrard on Sunday night). If you fancied yourself too cool for a free street festival/concert with nudity and instead had money just burning a hole in your pocket however, you might have instead attended BUD LIGHT DIGITAL DREAMS, as I did on Saturday.
Now I don’t want to badmouth the event; there were some  impressive stages and great music. However, shit got derailed before you even entered the venue by virtue of the arduous set of hoops to jump through that was the admissions process. In brief, if you purchased a ticket online, you had to print off a confirmation which you then had to show at one booth in order to get your ticket, which you then had to take to another booth to get your BRACELET, which carried with it admission privileges and concession stand access.
Foolishly thinking that the $100+ we paid for our tickets* went in part to ensure a smooth, well-oiled in-clearance, we showed up at 5pm expecting to pick up our tickets within a half hour and go from there.
Two hours later and we had moved a few feet.
It was at this point that my friend, Shane suggested I go take a break from the line-up, which I did. I walked for a bit along some eight-foot high fences until I came to a park and laid under a tree planning my next move. Nothing came to me, and it occurred to me that with Shane’s phone dying and me being gone for so long I should probably get back tot he line-up lest they make it in without me.
But I saw a curious thing as walked back along the eight-foot fences: a stretch of about 100m with no security or police officers patrolling it. Then another curious-er thing: drunk people with only the most rudimentary of climbing skill hopping the fence.
Well, I wasn’t drunk and I climb regularly so I really had no excuse not to hop the fence (I had paid money for a ticket after all). So I found myself being put to a decision for all my chips: I either balked and shambled regretfully back to my spot in line to wait with all the other human livestock or risk getting arrested at 29 for sneaking into an all-ages (well 16+ anyhow) concert.
I think we know what choice I made:

photo (2)
Happy like a Mexican who just evaded border patrol!

Shit was Iiiight!! Sure, I was a little bummed out that Shane was still waiting in line but we’re good enough buddies that I knew he wouldn’t begrudge me for doing something wacky and irrational; I learned that from him after all.
Now I was set: I had two bottles of water in my cargoes (ALWAYS…WEAR…CARGOES), one remaining “party favour” and enough money to get me by at any concert…OH SHIT!; I didn’t have a bracelet. 100 bucks in my wallet and I couldn’t spend a dime of it, except perhaps in the black market (drugs). For to engage vendors without a bracelet, would be like trying to engage an employer without a SIN/SSN: Best case scenario they tell you to fuck off; worst-case scenario that call the authorities on you.
And what of the authorities? Well, failure to present a bracelet in that microcosm of society would be akin to not presenting any ID or proof of citizenship in the real world. Incarceration and/or deportation (ejection from the venue). Hell, even an injury that sent me to the paramedics would get me ID’d as an illegal and I would face the long dick of justice after my recovery.
So I did what any stateless/illegal alien would do: Kept my hands in my pockets and did my dirt on the DL.
After an initial two hours of fighting my way to the front of the mainstage I got a hankering to look for my brother who was managing the Bacardi tent. And while I never found that dude, it did give me cause to explore the grounds. During my exploration, I distinctly remember my heart skipping a beat when I saw choke-point where people en route to other parts of the venue were getting a little congested. Whence cometh this heart-skippery? Well, it occurred to me that much like the draconian mobility restrictions placed on Chinese and Soviet people in the past, the authorities might be checking bracelets before allowing access to other areas.
Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and neither my mobility nor my access to water was hampered due to plentiful hydration stations which had no bracelet checks either.
At my most jaded point in the evening it occurred to me that, short of waiting in line till my balls fell past my knees, all of my citizenship bracelet problems could simply be solved with lots of money; whether that meant bribing vendors to look the other way or going through official routes, like for example leaving the venue and spending egregious amounts for a VIP pass which would allow me to bypass the line-up at customs the admissions tent. Is that an overly cynical perspective? Maybe, but I’ll refer you to the homie Shawn Carter, for an interesting perspective on the matter:

“Everything’s for sale,
I got five passports; I’m never goin to jail.”
-Jay-Z, Otis

The reality is that money solves most problems** and since anyone can, in theory, get enough money to solve all of their worldly problems, everyone should do so. But here’s the problem:

Anyone =/= Everyone

Unless you’re one of the monied few like Jigga, you’re often S.O.L. when it comes to quick and expedient access to goods, accommodations and as I found out this Saturday, a bit of Earth to shake my ass on.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: Have you ever trespassed or been somewhere you weren’t supposed to be doing something you weren’t supposed to do? It was exciting wasn’t it? That excitement wears off however, when the care you must take not to get discovered interferes with your day-to-day life. Sadly, this is the predicament of what I conservatively estimate to be millions of people on the planet who are forced to live an illicit life because someone or some agency has presumed to tell them that they could not be somewhere that they desired to be anyway.
We really need to reflect on our sad tendency to deny poor people’s*** access to parts of our planet that are, in reality part of our shared heritage as human beings.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*We paid $140 for one-day passes on Kijiji at the last minute
**It is actually people who solve most problems, but most of them “hop for cash, bitch!” (sic.)
***We’re all “poor” people on some level=> “You ain’t never rich in this world.” –It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, DMX

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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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