In this photograph,we are standing by the ocean and your arms are wrapped around me.
You softly say you love me.
I feel your hairy brown face against my smooth ebony skin.
I want to believe this is real love.
You press your teeth against my throat like a grizzly bear.
Being subtle was never your strength.
Our eyes are burning like a smouldering fire.
The spirits are crashing into each other like an earthquake.
A passion explodes from our glances.
In the next picture, your fingers playfully caress against my essence.
The crashing waves of the sea splash on the horizon.
I want to hold on to this moment forever and lock it in a vault.
As I stare closer at the picture the residue is filth.
Your bloodshot marijuana eyes emanates through.
The comatose state of your reflection is prescient.
I cringe as you tell me you spend $300 dollars from every pay cheque purchasing happiness.
I guess contentment is smoking away your future.
In another photograph, the kisses takes on the persona of an alcoholic.
I taste the rum, the wine, and weed from your breath on my tender lips.
Your unsavory tongue penetrates my soul causing anxiety.
You hold the vodka bottle in your hand, as you look pathetic like a hobo walking on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto.
The words from your mouth are slurred, chaotic, not cohesive.
Another series of shots you are vomiting on the cement as I stand horrified behind you.
Splashes of flash bulbs emerge as the ambulance arrives while you scream that you worry your parents might find out the truth.
Find out what though?
At the age of twenty seven shouldn’t your life be yours?
You drink the elixir of grief hoping to forget.
Is liquor really the cure?
Does one more drink really solve anything?
The poison flows down your esophagus into your heart.
At the hospital, in your slumber, I sit at 5 am watching you , seething with disgust.
The nurse lectures that the intravenous tubes must flow into your system.
The intoxication process doesn`t change anything though.
You wrap the blankets around your body living in some winter wonderland.
It was on this faithful Sunday morning I realized the lost soul of a man-child still exists.
Standing over your insipid body I want to smother the sheets over your face.
I pray to Jesus Christ hoping you will die in your sleep.
I snap out of it, realizing this pain no longer thrives it was an illusion.
This is a faded memory, a snapshot in time that is now frozen.
I carefully pick up the album place it into a garbage bin and light a match.
I watch the flames extinguish your existence.
If your message is private or personal, you may choose to write to me at the following address:
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
You can fax me at (416) 325-3745.
Globe and Mail Article: Does Canadian Blood Services Discriminate Against Gay Men From Donating Blood?
Court asked to weigh gay rights and blood policy
At the heart of the case is the question: Does the donation process protect recipients at the price of discrimination?
By Natalie Stechyson
From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Jun. 15, 2010 11:09PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010 2:10AM EDT
William Wilson was there when his father took his final, shallow breath last August, but had watched him slowly die for the last 20 years. His father, John Wilson, contracted HIV and hepatitis C in the 1980s after receiving tainted blood from the Red Cross to treat his hemophilia, a rare blood disorder.
“I grew up my whole life knowing he was on borrowed time,” Mr. Wilson, 28, said from his father’s farmhouse in Osgoode, Ont.
Thousands of Canadians like John Wilson were infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the early 1980s when the Red Cross failed to properly screen donors. Since 1985, Canada restricted its blood donation policy to protect recipients from another catastrophic mistake. This includes barring men who have sex with other men – which increases their risk for HIV/AIDS – from donating blood.
But a court ruling expected this summer could change that.
Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is suing Kyle Freeman, a sexually active gay man, for lying about his sexual history in order to donate blood. Mr. Freeman is counter-suing, saying the policy is discriminatory. If the judge rules that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to CBS, and the policy restricts the rights of gay men, the service will have to change it.
All public policies fall under the jurisdiction of the Charter, but CBS argues that as a non-government agency, the Charter does not apply. Mr. Freeman and his lawyers maintain it does. While the Charter ensures the right to equality, it also allows the federal government to limit rights where it is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. In the case of Freeman versus CBS, these two provisions clash.
At the heart of the matter is one question: To what extent does Canada’s blood-donation policy protect its recipients at the price of discriminating against gay men?
Since 1985, any man wishing to donate blood must answer the question: “If you are a man, have you had sex with a man since 1977, even once?”
Fiona Campbell, the lawyer for Egale Canada – an advocacy group that pursues equality for Canadian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – says the question is too restrictive, effectively barring for life all sexually active gay men from donating blood. This, she says, is discriminatory and violates the equality guarantees under the Charter.
Mr. Freeman says discrimination would be warranted if it would prevent another health disaster like the tainted blood scandal, but now that testing has improved, the policy is no longer sensible and perpetuates gay stereotypes. He says the ban makes him feel like a second-class citizen.
“It’s 2010,” he said. “It’s saddening to see our government so hell-bent on discriminating against people.”
Mr. Freeman, 37, says he doesn’t want to endanger anyone – quite the opposite. The Thornhill, Ont., resident says his family has always given blood and he lied on the questionnaire to help those in need.
“It’s the ultimate gift,” Mr. Freeman said from Israel, where he is vacationing with Vince, his partner of eight years. He says CBS is missing out on a population of potential donors. “Not everyone who’s gay has AIDS,” he said emphatically.
Mr. Wilson doesn’t see it that way. “Freeman should be in jail, not trying to argue that it’s his constitutional right to endanger blood donor recipients,” he said.
Canada, the United States, France and Germany maintain lifetime donation bans for men who have had sex with other men. Australia, Japan and Sweden have one-year deferrals for men who have had multiple male sexual partners; in other words, if a gay man in one of these countries has only had one sexual partner in the past year, he can donate blood. Spain and Italy screen blood donors based on the safety of their sexual activity, as opposed to the gender of their sexual partners.
At a meeting last week, an advisory committee on blood safety for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended maintaining the current U.S. policy.
On Monday, the Canadian Federation of Students confirmed it was behind an “end the ban” campaign that was responsible for a protest in Halifax. The federation issued a statement that Canada’s policy is discriminatory and based on outdated science.
Canada Blood Services argues the lifetime ban is in place to protect the health of Canadians who receive blood. Its policy states that in Canada, approximately 75 per cent of reported AIDS cases have been traced to transmission from one male to another male.
Ron Vezina, the national spokesperson for CBS, says the policy does not discriminate against anyone, including homosexuals. That’s why the screening question specifically asks men whether they have had sex with other men since 1977, not about their sexuality.
“It’s not about being gay or straight,” Mr. Vezina said. “It’s the act.”
He says the policy has been reviewed and revised a number of times since it was implemented, most recently in 2006. “The problem is there’s no answer,” Mr. Vezina said. “We as an organization would be willing to make a change as long as science backs it up and there is no risk to our patients.”
The risk to patients is exactly what worries Mr. Wilson. The hardest part of growing up with a terminally ill father, he says, was watching him slowly deteriorate to the point where he could no longer do what he loved most – farming. Chronic bleeding ruined the cartilage in his knees and elbows, making it impossible to lift heavy bags of seeds or operate machinery. The mental toll was just as crippling.
“My dad spent most of his life thinking he had just six months to live,” Mr. Wilson said. “You can’t imagine how hard that was for him.”
M.I.A. steps from art underground to media spotlight
NEW YORK (Billboard) – During “Space,” the dreamy future-shock ballad that closes her upcoming third album, M.I.A. repeatedly coos, “My lines are down/You can’t call me,” over a gently percolating beat that sounds like a Sega Genesis practicing its pillow talk. It’s just one of the many observations on our data-drenched Infotainment Age that crop up throughout “/\/\ /\ Y /\,” a more-or-less self-titled effort from the 34-year-old Sri Lankan native, born Maya Arulpragasam.
Yet in a recent telephone interview with Billboard, the lyric is taking on another, more literal meaning, as M.I.A. travels on a Eurostar train from Brussels to London during a hectic round of European promotion. Namely, her cell phone keeps dropping the call whenever her train enters a tunnel. When the line goes dead for the fourth time, it’s tempting to wonder if M.I.A. has perhaps hung up on purpose.
After all, she’d just been asked about the massive attention paid to journalist Lynn Hirschberg’s less-than-fawning cover profile of her in the New York Times Magazine in May, and to M.I.A.’s responses. Maybe she’s tired of discussing the story’s focus on her supposed radical chic: a comfortable, even posh personal life allegedly at odds with her firebrand art and politics. Maybe she’s fed up with talking about why she tweeted Hirschberg’s cell phone number, or later posted a covert recording of one of her and Hirschberg’s conversations. Maybe she’s sick of the term “Trufflegate” (so coined after Hirschberg made hay out of M.I.A. ordering truffle-oil-flavored French fries) and figures that simply avoiding the topic might help it die a speedy death.
But the fact is, M.I.A. is forthright in addressing the media cause celebre. Does she regret doing the Times story?
“Not really,” she replies. “I kind of knew what it was going to be.
“I said, ‘F— the New York Times,’” she continues, referring to a series of tweets earlier this year in which she objected to the newspaper’s coverage of the conflict in Sri Lanka between Sinhalese and Tamil factions. (Although M.I.A.’s mother moved herself and her children to London when M.I.A. was young, the artist’s father remained in war-torn Sri Lanka, taking part in various Tamil opposition efforts.) “Of course they weren’t going to be like, ‘Hi! How you doing? We love you!’”
Whatever else it demonstrated, the Truffle Kerfuffle made it clear that at some point between the 2007 release of her second album, “Kala,” and this spring, M.I.A. underwent an unlikely transformation from underground phenom to Very Big Deal.
TAKING A STAND
“She’s trying to do politics and she’s trying to do art,” Los Angeles Times pop critic Ann Powers says. “And she doesn’t want to compromise or keep silent. That worked for the Clash, but that was a certain time and a certain place. And it partly worked for them because they were a band, and we’re used to seeing guys be confrontational. If it works for her, I think she’s even more important than we thought.”
“I always forget that she has this sort of celebrity side to her,” says Rusko, one of M.I.A.’s principal collaborators on her new album. “On a Tuesday night me and (longtime M.I.A. producer) Switch can go down and lurk around at (Los Angeles nightspot) Cinespace, and it’s pretty chill. Maya can’t do that — she’s in that next realm now.”
The shift is one she’s still coming to grips with. “It’s weird that I can make a joke and it becomes so controversial and people want to write about it,” she says over the muffled squawk of a Eurostar conductor’s announcement. “Some thing I say really flippantly gets this full-on rampage of stuff happening. It’s amazing to me that people will do that.”
M.I.A. has always had a high press profile, but in the past most of the attention was focused on her music, which between “Kala” and her 2005 debut, “Arular,” has notched combined sales of more than 719,000 albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan. “Paper Planes,” her breakthrough single off “Kala,” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, earned a 2009 Grammy Award nomination for record of the year and has sold 3 million copies. “In one way it’s not their fault that they don’t have music to write about,” she says of the countless pop-culture pundits who’ve weighed in on Trufflegate, “because I haven’t put a record out.”
Until now, that is: Due July 13 in the United States on the singer’s own N.E.E.T. Recordings imprint through Interscope, “/\/\ /\ Y /\” is sure to steer at least part of the conversation regarding M.I.A. back to her music. It’s at once her most accessible and most experimental album, defined as much by the sweet synth-pop melodies of “XXXO” as by the juddering electro-punk beats of “Born Free.”
“If you’re an M.I.A. fan and you buy a new M.I.A. record,” Rusko says, “you want to hear something you’ve never heard before. This record gives you that.”
Work on the 12-track set took place mostly in Los Angeles, where M.I.A. settled in early 2009 with her fiance, Ben Bronfman (son of Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr.) and their young son, Ikhyd. Her collaborators included many of the musicians M.I.A. has been partnering with for years, such as Diplo, Switch and Blaqstarr; Rusko, the latest addition to the crew, is signed to Diplo’s label Mad Decent.
“We really don’t have any kind of formula,” Switch says. “All the records come around by watching something on YouTube and an idea comes, or by going out to the clubs or something. We basically just mess around till something makes us excited enough for her to jump on the mic. We’ll have her run on the track for 10 or 15 minutes, then I’ll come and edit the bits and bobs she likes together. Then we’ll flip it, reverse it, turn it backward and build a song from there.”
“Maya is very careful about who she works with,” says Mark Williams, who signed M.I.A. to Interscope and worked in an A&R capacity on both “Kala” and “/\/\ /\ Y /\.” (Williams is no longer with the label, but Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine asked him to assist M.I.A. on the new album.) “There’s a comfort zone and a familiarity in the creative experience that she gets from working with Diplo and Switch. Even though there have been documented tensions at times” — Diplo, a former boyfriend, made several seemingly critical remarks about M.I.A. in the New York Times Magazine piece — “all sides agree that it’s productive. They know where she’s at, but at the same time they push each other.”
“Kala” contained one track produced by Timbaland, and given her cool-kid cachet and the mainstream exposure she earned performing alongside Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and T.I. at the 2009 Grammy Awards, it seems reasonable to assume that M.I.A. could have landed collaborations with any number of high-profile beatmakers for “/\/\ /\ Y /\.” The very notion elicits a sigh audible from Europe.
“I didn’t want my work to be like a bar graph of, ‘How many new producers can she afford?’” M.I.A. says. “That’s not how I measured it.” Retaining a connection to her first two albums was more important. “If you have all three, then it makes sense that they came from the same person. And I didn’t want it to be like, ‘Then she met blah-blah!’”
In any event, she adds, “the song that everybody liked off ‘Kala’ (“Paper Planes”) wasn’t made by one of those producers. So I don’t know why we’re constantly second-guessing that, because it’s unpredictable — especially with me. You have to be honest with your art and then hope for the best. I can have any producer on my album that’s from that world, but it doesn’t really mean anything. You’re just going to get a diluted version of me.”
BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES
“/\/\ /\ Y /\” certainly doesn’t deliver a diluted version of M.I.A.; if anything, it emphasizes the contradictions at the heart of who she is, with lush love songs jostling against scrappy political rants. M.I.A. says she’s not sure it’s her responsibility as an artist to resolve those paradoxes. “That’s what I was trying to work out: whether the future is something you level out or if you describe the extremes more.”
As she was writing and recording, “it really seemed like my world was getting smaller and closing in around me at the same time that things were changing so fast. I couldn’t keep up with it. It was the best year for me because my son was born and the worst year for me seeing so many Tamil people being killed. And then it was the best year for me because I found someone to settle down with, then the worst year because I couldn’t leave (due to visa restrictions) and my mum couldn’t come and see me. My album came out like that because that’s how it was.”
M.I.A. says touring will play a more prominent role in the “/\/\ /\ Y /\” campaign than it has for previous albums. “This time around I’m slightly more prepared,” she says. “It just seems more solid. Last time, because I had visa issues, I didn’t prepare myself enough.”
She’ll debut her new live show at a pair of festivals presented by Los Angeles-based Hard Events: Hard LA on July 17 and Hard NYC on July 24. “I’ve been trying to book her for one of my shows since I started doing this,” Hard chief Gary Richards says. “She’s definitely at the center of what’s cool in our universe.” Both concerts will also feature performances by two acts signed to N.E.E.T.: young Baltimore MC Rye Rye and New York noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells.
M.I.A. is also scheduled to play England’s Big Chill and Underage festivals this summer, while an extensive North American tour is tentatively set to launch in September.
M.I.A. has plans to expand N.E.E.T. as well, from a record label into what she describes as “a creative collective” complete with photographers and visual artists. After Sleigh Bells’ “Treats,” which was released May 11, N.E.E.T. will issue Rye Rye’s debut, “Go! Pop! Bang!,” later this year. “M.I.A. was there with me every day from when I started recording my album to when I finished,” Rye Rye says. “She was pregnant then, but each day she’d come to the studio to lay the direction and add sounds into songs.”
If all of that seems like an overflowing workload, M.I.A. doesn’t disagree. “It is difficult to juggle everything,” she admits, her train approaching the Channel Tunnel. “But luckily we have the Internet, and I can stay connected and on top of it.”
“She knows all of this is a massive undertaking, but this is who she’s chosen to be,” says M.I.A.’s publicist, Jennie Boddy, who’s now managing her client’s career as well. “It’s just part of her makeup.” Boddy laughs. “Who’s the hardest-working person in show business? James Brown? Well, Maya might be gunning for his title.”
Associated Press Article: Roger Federer Is Seeded Number One At Wimbledon Despite Being Ranked Number Two.
Federer, the defending champion and six-time Wimbledon winner, received the top seed Wednesday even though Nadal recently supplanted him as No. 1 in the world rankings.
Nadal moved into the top spot after winning the French Open, while Federer slipped to No. 2 after losing in the quarterfinals in Paris.
Wimbledon uses its discretion to seed players based on their grass-court record.
“While the seeding positions of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are reversed from their current rankings, there is no practical effect since they remain the leading seeds in their respective halves of the draw,” Wimbledon referee Andrew Jarrett said.
The draw will be held Friday, with the two-week Grand Slam tournament starting Monday.
There were no surprises in the women’s seedings, with Serena Williams at No. 1 and sister Venus at No. 2.
Federer has won a record 16 Grand Slam titles, including this year’s Australian Open. However, he has not won a tournament since Australia and will be coming into Wimbledon in something of a slump. He fell to Lleyton Hewitt in Sunday’s final in Halle, Germany for only his second loss on grass in more than seven years.
Nadal beat Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final but was injured and unable to defend his title last year. The Spaniard won his fifth French Open earlier this month, but lost to Feliciano Lopez last week in the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon grass-court tuneup at Queen’s Club.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Wimbledon seeding committee was Hewitt, the 2002 champion who was seeded No. 15 despite a world ranking of No. 26. Big-serving Ivo Karlovic is ranked No. 33 but was bumped up to No. 25 in the seedings.
The women’s seedings stuck to the world rankings, setting up the possibility of a fifth all-Williams Wimbledon final. Serena beat Venus last year for her third Wimbledon title.
The only change in the seedings was caused by the injury withdrawal of No. 5 Elena Dementieva.