Tag Archives: violence

Memories of the Peripheral Dead

A friend who keeps her Facebook locked down pretty tight shared about how a 31-year-old man was found dead of methadone overdose in his cell not too long ago, and how the man was once a boy whose file came across her desk when she worked in a law office. “He didn’t stand a chance,” she said.

I suddenly thought of a face I hadn’t pictured in a few years. For a few weeks, I taught ESL to an student staying with an Asian family in the mid-late ‘90s on a cul-de-sac in Surrey. Some years later, I saw a photo of that family on the front page of the paper. The father killed himself and his four family members in a murder-suicide.

I’d never liked being in that home. There wasn’t anything evil going on, but sometimes unhappiness is so thick it’s like trying to walk into a windstorm. It slows you down and defeats your balance. The gloom in that home was omnipresent, but I never imagined it could have that kind of outcome.

I don’t know why I felt like writing, and the words aren’t coming now. I’m lost thinking about how some people seem to both live and die in vain, and their legacies ripple further in death than they might have in life, but those legacies are more of how wrong things can go, and how many of us on the outskirts sense the trainwreck to come, but are defeated before we can even get involved.

I know I pushed my student, who seemed as depressed as the family she lived with, to step outside the language bounds, get creative, and try to find some kind of passion to write about, but the futility of it was crushing, and I was, in the end, dismissed of my tutoring duties because I was focusing more on ideas and communication than I was on nitpicking grammar and teaching an endless list of rules.

In those fleeting moments when worlds collide, one person on an upward trajectory while the other’s on the down, there’s no telling how long which of those influence plays out. Maybe years later, like the dozen years I have lived past that family, a shadow of our connection will linger.

Somewhere inside, I guess, the idea of that family dying in vain, for a stupid moment of complete despair and rage in the father’s mind, has long struck a sad chord inside, and the fact that I’ve even thought of them, though I can’t remember their name or locate a news story about them, is something I feel obligated to record.

Even that sense of obligation makes me a little sad right now. How many people forget about this family altogether? Like they were just vapours floating through a limited life?

But there you have it. Some people live in vain, die in vain, and are a struggle to remember after the fact. I suppose there’s a part of me feeling like I’d like to be anything but a struggle to remember.

I like to think I’m succeeding.

I’m sorry I can’t remember more of her, the family, or that sense of omnipresent gloom in their home, the memory of which gives me chills as I type.

Do not doubt the range of pathos and trial that some people live with. Don’t delude yourself into thinking the awful stories are uncommon.

And don’t think that you’re likely to change their stories either. We can’t make people change. All we can do is jump out of the way when the existential shrapnel starts to spray.

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Murderball: Primal Is As Primal Does

Bear with me. If you know my writing style, you know that, just because I start one place, doesn’t mean I’m gonna stay there. This starts off about wheelchair sports, but becomes a considering of what we are as humans, so give it a chance. Thanks!

Any sport with “murder” in the name sounds like a fun night out to me.

Image from MURDERBALL, the documentary.

This weekend in Vancouver, the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships will be rollin’ on out at the Olympic Skating Oval, across the bridge in Richmond. (Games are $5 each or day passes are $12. Please support them.)

Wheelchair rugby is a Canadian-born sport better known as “Murderball,” and was the subject of an MTV award-winning documentary of the same name.

Also known as “Quad” Rugby, it’s played by paraplegics who have limited limb movement. With each injured player “rated” for their impairment, from 0 to 3 points, there’s a limit of how many “points” can be on the court at any one time.

Aside from that, the dudes are on battering-ram type wheelchairs and they bash the living shit out of each other. Sounds like a good time to me!

Of course, there are namby-pamby activists out there who dislike violence in sports and don’t understand why we’re not more “civil” in this day and age, but they’re the kind of people who probably need to start having questionable fun for the hell of it, instead of worrying about propriety.

With sports, there are areas I differ from that line of thought on, but with very specific situations: Like,  dumb-ass kids who want to do danger experiments on Youtube. There’s calculated risks, then there’s just being a moron.

And living in the rugged rainforests that are Vancouver and its surrounding landscape, we’re all too used to asshats going off known trails to explore then needing massive rescue efforts. Methinks they should be subject to Quad Rugby battering ram treatment, personally, if they’re that fucking stupid.

Like I say: There’s stupidity, and then there’s understandable thrill-seeking and adrenaline.

Me, I like boxing, and I like watching most kinds of fighting live (but not on television). Bloodsports are pretty awesome. I cheer the violence on, and I don’t for a moment feel it makes me less “civilized”. I think it makes me a more balanced human being and less likely to punch you out for being a high-maintenance fuckwad in front of me in a Starbucks line-up.

I mean, sure, we act all civil, but deep down inside, we’re biologically still animals.

All the proof I need is on my bathroom floor right now — every fall and spring, I shed hair even though there’s no reason for the human body to shed anymore. It’s a throwback to who and what we are: Mammals who got lucky and landed opposable thumbs and the ability to have language.

Sometimes, I think we — mankind — are collectively fooling ourselves.

You know the old parable about the Scorpion & the Frog?

From Wikipedia:

The story is about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The frog then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them.

When asked why, the scorpion explains, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”

But, us? Our nature?

Is our nature REALLY that of sitting at a desk with a computer, or shuffling papers, or making Jell-o Pudding on a Friday night as we watch smarmy TV programs? REALLY?

Or are we really made to be physical creatures? People who toil in fields, bring down trees, climb mountains, haul goods over long distances? Are we made for lashing out and conquering others?

Arguably? Yes. Yes. And, yes.

These days, machines do so much for us. They do TOO MUCH for us.

The last place any of us can get in touch with our primal side is through sports. Whether it’s mountainbiking, yoga, MMA, or murderball, that’s where many of us connect with the physicality that today’s society otherwise would rather pretend didn’t exist.

There’s also, of course, sex. But heaven forbid you let the masses know doggy-style’s your favourite, or god help you if the neighbours can hear you moaning through those thin modern walls.

And that paddle sure does get loud, honey. Got a muzzle?

Primal” is so verboten today. It’s all button-down collars and Brazilian wax jobs. Some people are even bleaching their assholes because they don’t think an ASSHOLE should be shit-coloured.

This is the ridiculous world we live in today, where we — animals — pretend we’re anything but.

Yet, there, out in Richmond, a bunch of guys who’ve lost most of the use of their limbs, they’re out there being as animalistic as they can be. They have THAT alive in them still, it’s their soul, it’s who they are.

They’re out there fighting to remember what it is that makes them alive. They’re crashing the hell out of each other, defying the odds, doing it for the most pure reason of all — just to be better than the next guy, to survive, to win — just like the only goals possessed by our Neanderthal ancestors.

These are guys who, for the most part, have lost their mobility through spinal accidents. They’ve lost so much already, but it hasn’t stopped them.

Then there are people like most of us — trying to get through our day with the least amount of risk, the least amount of danger, and with nothing but routine surrounding us, while we medicate the hell out of ourselves to dull our emotions, mask pain, or just drive us through our days.

And these barely-alive types are the people who are out there trying to protect the Quad Rugby players from themselves — Oh, it’s too dangerous! Oh, they don’t have helmets on! God forbid!

Fuck that. HITEM, BOYS! HITEM REAL FUCKINHARD.

Today, this weekend, let’s all learn a little about passion, dedication, and the willingness to get the fuck up after life knocks you down — values each and every athlete on the world wheelchair rugby court plays with day-in, day-out.

Values we should all have — day-in, day-out.

__________________________

Who or what inspires you to live a little more outside the “safe” zone? Have you ever watched wheelchair sports? What kind of impression did it leave on you? And “special Olympics” are NOT wheelchair sports — wheelchair athletes are able-minded but body-challenged, so to speak.

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6 Decembre 1989: Remembering a Formative Tragedy

I was 16 on December 6th, 1989, when gunman Marc Lepine stormed into Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering school.

When the blood had spilled and screams for the 14 dead women faded into muffled tears, it was found that the gunman had left a note explaining his actions — he’d wanted to kill feminists for making his life so much harder, thanks to quotas and changes in hiring practices.

bigI don’t remember where I was when I’d heard about the killings, but I remember slowly growing aware of what happened and why. I remember the confusion I’d felt as as a 16-year-old and the anger and fear this massacre opened in me.

In 1989, things were pretty “advanced” for women already. We had the old soul sisters Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin belting out that “sisters are doin’ it for themselves,” and movies like Baby Boom were showing that women no longer felt they had to have a man in order to make a “family” work.

I knew I could do anything I wanted to — that being a female really didn’t mean much anymore. Or did it?

Then, all my naivete changed. Continue reading

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