Thursday, 27 September 2007

volume 2

I've been living with a coke addict for the last 15 months and was shocked and dismayed she chose her drug over me. So now I'm off to teach English in Korea...there they say never step in the shadow of a teacher.

A friend of mine tells me I am falling in love with my intellect again.

2500 a month to teach English to five year olds . A buddy says there are lots of drugs, beautiful women and much easy money. He says I may die. I know but not that soon.

I am chaotic. I go from touring Canada to touring Asia. Already I'm doubling back and going so far East it's to the west.

The voices are almost non stop in my head. Do this, do that, don't do this don't do that, I freeze and when i do something that's all there ever was...

and on and on...

I am stuck in a world of doubt, still unable to make decisions. Impossible to execute so why make plans. Beginning to feel the wildness again. My woman has left and it is time to go back to ...

Keeping minute notes of my ;life would be more interesting than many quick scribbles. Other times I'm satisfied with what i do. Richer than most poorer than some, money in the bank...

Look forward...know where you've been, know where you want to go. What's done is done...It's not all true's not all is...

Why write? For money of course stupid. God awaits. Didn't you know that money was only an energy source. Mouth open I like fucking the face.

Do crazy people feel crazy or is it merely a judgement that sane ones reserve fro themselves...
I am not a Saint. i want to be in the game but when i think of the trophy i lose initiative..

Madness is an inability to separate imaginings from reality. Reality has blood and deadness as does my mind...

It's just a game. How could I say that? Yet I did. I am tired and still think I have to...

Emily Carrs work makes the Indian available to the white man. She observed, as a Native noticed from the outside, capturing an art form as an art form. Arrogant? What if some one carved the Mona Lisa. Her painting of trees are closer to the truth.

The phone rings at two in the morning. It is Mona wanting to come over. I say No and she calls again. This time I aced and say don't come too late. She says she is using someone elses cell phone and God loves me. We hang up and Gabe calls and says she has left the bar with some one else to do coke. I fall asleep around five, make a coffee and roll cigarette. Outside the sky is blue, the snow is white and the trees are grey and motionless...

Volume 1

My brain is foggy. The tap is dripping. The shelves have fallen off the walls. I am unemployed and sinking into debt. My chest is clogged from smoking. I am alone. I am looking for work and have dropped off one resume. I have organized my place of work and gotten myself fired.

I dream I am a black man lying on a white man whose guts are dripping. I say you will not die yet.

I am in a frenzy waiting for what? Rehearsing conversations I will never have in my head. Unwilling to be here, always wanting to be there (have another beer and the pot is on the house)

I have a job interview at the Sheraton tomorrow. I am also speaking with an Asian gentleman who has taken my passport and is promising me a job in Korea teaching English to five year olds. $2500 a month and I've never been to Asia. 35 years old and still exploring. The endless mindless drama and now i take the act to the oldest culture. I listen I learn goodbye.

Options. The more we understand the more we live. The closer to life the closer to death. life is dying those who profess otherwise seek...the rest of us are too tired to explain and why bother.

No impossible their is mainstream talk of UFO es. People believe their is life elsewhere and why not? What if they discover us before we discover them? Planetary genocide. What if our history has been documented? Would you visit? Will they? War like peace maybe.

Masturbation stimulating the mind with pictures, movies memories and imaginings. Healthy some say, energy waste say others...mind fuck...

on the new planet sex is non existent. Inventors? Who cares? The military: President Bush.

Craftsmanship. I break into these spasms of writing, outbursts of emotion, ridiculous but going on...modern art (ha) there is no help...

Is there anything to write? I have no money. I do not know if a woman will show up. How does one ever know. Life comes..write it down if you like...

Dear Mr. EDE (Economic Development Edmonton)

I over estimated
your ability to
defend a safe position
the few with
staying power
are vigilant
but you were asleep
while i was in motion

doing as i pleased

an idea run rampant
on the rules cannot
be contained by minds
not on the same equation

Einstein hinted to all of us

Really now...

why do you exist

PS I advise you for free
to get new legal counsel
not pout of respect for the profession
but there were many weak points to my plan
most of them legal
and your lawyers never caught a sniff


Dear Mr. EDE (Economic Development Edmonton)


i was mailed a letter, no I called Robin to see about my shifts. He said the Chef wanted to meet with me this time in the Chefs' office. We met at the arranged time, the Chef at his desk, Robin sitting a little behind and to the left, with a clip board.

Chef: Hello. Did you have a good time at the party (smirking)
Me: Yes
Chef: Good. Well we have concluded our investigation and we will have to let you go for the following reasons. You threatened bodily harm to a fellow employee, 2 you told security you could do whatever you wanted and three you missed your last few shifts and on and on...

Me: You changed my schedule
Robin: No I didn't. (if your on my side we'll know he's a liar.)

Chef: Any ways it doesn't matter. Your employment here is terminated.

I am trapped. They have hired me and can fire me. I ramble on about the physical world and the spiritual world ending with:

"You can fire me but my spirit is here and I'm not leaving."

They look a little confused and I walk out.

The Christmas Party

So I sneak into the building though back halls and show up behind the bar. I peek through the curtains and call a bartender to get the chief engineer. He comes over and gives me his ticket. (First of course he records the numbers...door prizes).

I enter dressed in a jean jacket, old track pants, work boots and a toque. i order a beer and Mona shows up in her tight pink tank top and hard nipples. I buy her a drink or she buys me a drink and i spill one with a crash on the floor and take a seat by the door.

A man from the Philippines who served in the US Navy and buys two double Bacardi's and a Native Artist joins Mona. The East Indians are sitting in a line and I'm yelling we got the vote. They all believe sitting cool and stoic and every body knows what side every one is on and maybe no one cares but I I am vocal and loud and clear...mercy mercy...

The Ron starts following Mona around and she brushes him off but he persists as she is a beautiful girl. He walks by and I call him down. He is old, shaky and weak from a head injury. I tell him to punch me and he says no you punch me and back and forth it idiotically goes. Finally he leaves with the parting shot, "Your smart but your not that smart." Showing my intelligence i retort with, "You're a retard."

Gabe is putting the moves on a new girl in the dish room and Mona's running around with her artist friend and I'm getting drunk. I approach the general managers table where he and his family are seated. I demand that Evelyn get all her quarters back, that all wrongs be made right etc blah blah blah etc. I'm yelling and pointing and he backs off. I start grabbing half drunk wine bottles off tables and people keep running form me. The security guards tell me to leave but i ignore them and go to the dish room to wish Lana and Hong a Merry Xmas. Security follows and I keep yelling the tell all, "I can do anything I like."

I get back to my seat and eight or nine security guards are there along with two cops. They keep telling me I have to leave but I keep stalling them with the ever original phrase, "Keep your fucking hands off me."

Eventually I allow them Io escort me from the building with Mona and her artist friend in tow. At the top of the stairs Mona makes us all wait by taking her time putting on her shoes. We go back to our place and the artist talks about becoming famous and I fall asleep on the couch. I wake up and the artist has left and Mona is in my arms. We lie together for three days. On Xmas eve she leaves to see Ron and calls drunk from the bus depot.

She is leaving for Saskatoon and wants me to come and say good bye. I go and she gives me a picture by her artist friend called a journey of love.

A few days later I am fired for supposedly threatening an Italian no vote with death.

the vote

over three days the vote is held

on pay day you must vote
before you get your check
and management
encourages a "No vote"
but we win the day
because the old timers
are behind the cause

Saturday we win again
because the East Indians stay on board
the Italians stay on side
and the young Chinese are not as
stupid as they sound

Tuesday I do not leave to chance
and work the phones all Monday night

15 people vote on Tuesday
and I have spoken with 12

I am the last person to vote
An empty net goal

I have spoken
we are union


I am to clean
the walls of the
dish room
knows I am
behind the union

an agitator

we vote
and Tuesday

waiting in the
semi darkness
listening to
Led Zeppelin

and the natives
won't vote
the blacks are
behind their leader
the Italian are in
the East Indians
are no longer
the Chinese
won't say

and the
fat ones
are happy

the President and I

A few days before the vote I phone the president of the EDE Jim Edwards and introduce myself as the man behind the union. I explain I want to meet and discuss some of the issues that have led to my actions. he agrees...

"Where should we meet?"
"In my office."
"I wasn't aware kitchen cleaners had offices."
"My office is the smoking area be there at five."

On the day of the meeting i start drinking around noon, go to the casino and win a hundred bucks, leave the table and the Chinese leave with me. I head to the Palladium and meet with a journalist whom I feed information. We part and agree to stay in touch.

i arrive at the Shaw and Gabe has cleaned the smoking area. i tell him the office looks good and we bang fists laughing. I sit in my usual chair and light a smoke.

Jim Edwards arrives, escorted by the head of security and the Chef. Security watches the door and the Chef follows along clip board in hand. We introduce ourselves and I tell him I want to meet one on one.

"The chef is your immediate supervisor and his presence is required."
" I'd prefer to meet one on one."
"If the Chef has to leave their will be no meeting."

I am angry at his petulance and start shaking and after a few moments i decide to leave with the words, "Fine no meeting."

Jim Edwards looks stunned and the Chef looks sad. I leave the dock and catch an escalator up. The president follows and asks me to change my mind but it is too late. A few months later he resigns.

know this

if the movement is stewarded properly, once the petition is at the labour board and deemed legit, the union is in. People do not sign something to vote NO. Management can huff puff an spend money but if the original signers stay on board the party is over...

yes I've read the art of war. If you can capture a country with out blood shed that is best..know the terrain and of course thy enemy..know thy self...

push hard
push fast
hit the target
on your first shot

the dumb fuckers
stagger and wonder
what hit'em

stoic i watch
smug faces fill
with anxiety

they were dead before
now it's official.

Let it Ride

So I hand in the petition and Lance says he has never seen so many signatures so quickly in his thirty years of organizing. We go though the list and i witness all the names without and he leaves with the petitions and I sit and wait.

That Friday the labour board informs management the workers have applied for certification and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 401 will be their bargaining agent. From what I hear they are in shock.

As predicted they call their lawyers and for the first time in history start sending the employees letters. The first one insinuates they didn't know the workers were unhappy and if they were why didn't they just say over the next 10 days they send out seven letter in a poorly disguised misinformation campaign. They start intimidating the staff who are involved. I'm told to stay in the kitchen and Dawn is told more work and less talk...Gabe is contract worker is fired and a sympathetic manager is suspended with pay.

So they send letters saying how much they care then they treat us differently...everyone can see what is going on and those who can't have some one close by to explain...

Management is in essence bureaucrats; they are not bad people just a little spoiled...

So after witness their counter strike I know the union movement is in good shape and management is too far behind.

Of course they are well funded, better educated and have access to information, but down a 139 to nothing, I don't care how good you are, we'll win when all we need is a hundred yes votes.

(the eligible voter list is in and the magic number is 242, but only a couple hundred or so will vote.)

One month less two days

i know this is true...

It 1 as you know i end with 10...October 25th the dishwashers know who i 2...bars come on side and Henry brings in a miracle and a university student in business..still believes and signs 4 i get more dishwashers..October 30th...dawn comes through with three family members, a mother and two daughters...Halloween i don't fuck with the spooks and take the day off...i rest, drink, get high and imagine freedom for everyone...November 1st...Gabe comes through with three..on the second..a native and a landlady...we are still in motion...we're at 42...the East Indians come on board en mass...

Charles signs up his crew and we're sitting pretty at 62..i sign up some stragglers from the dishroom and Mona gets a couple from the kitchen...

management still doesn't know...

the kitchen surprises me and another 4 sign...75...i bribe a stoner with an ounce for thirty..he comes up with eight...i give him half and he's happy and so am I...83 by the ninth of still has no clue...the last of the dish room gets it up..more surprises from the kitchen...the painter wants to know what's up ...i tell him by the trash...hell yes...he signs in Gabes' office...Dawn brings in housekeeping..all but one...leave her out I African signs...banquets keeps coming...November 23rd I'm done 139 management knows but it is too late...we have spoken....

No mercy

i have 135 signatures and give myself another day to hit 140....mercy..people now know this is real...without question i am at will be lost...lives will be different...

Getting a signature now requires terrorist being a good soldier..I smoke a joint over looking the beautiful North Saskatchewan River, come back in and storm Hall C where banquets are working and go through the room convincing coming out with two...Naomi's a great help...Gabriel keeps bringing...two more...Charles is still confused and can't find his sheet leaving us with 139.

Jonathon, a Quebecois pastry chef says he'll sign but when i go to see him at 7:30 AM he changes his mind...soft mother balls...and we submit with 139 OK.

So it'll go to vote and if everyone stays on side...I don't care about time we've won...


we have now compiled 102 signatures, all legit...another 20-40 still out there and tonight stock well day is coming for dinner..980 supporters paying $350 a plate..he's good to the rich. a fundamentalist christian believing everything white...

management just caught wind of the movement but have no clue who or where we are..only 30 signatures to go..slow and easy

desperately not wanting to be arrogant or over confident

the war is not over but it will be shortly

the enemy is cloaked and blinded by ignorance

I quell feeling of sympathy

dog fucker

it is tiring looking lazy
yet at work I saunter
while the bosses watch
and of course i recieve
the appropriate reprimand

they ask me what i'm doing
wonder why i'm there


i'm forming a union
cleaning pots, sweeping floors
scrubbing walls

keeping it quiet
while management
thinks about
mistresses and car payments

keeping it quiet----
that's the secret
that's the work.

Not Sent

This is a letter that was not sent to the Shaw conference center employees to counter the letter the Shaw was sending us.

The union committee has met and we are now in the process of forming a union. the main concerns are:

1. uncompetitive wages
2. labour conditions

A petition will be circulated and anyone who has worked a shift in either October or November will be eligible to sign. Once 40% of the work force signs we will submit the petitions to the labour board. Then there will be a vote and 50% plus one must vote in favour.

Then the union certifies the Shaw and we are in a position to bargain a collective bargaining agreement. We will be in a strong position. The Shaw does not want to close and the city does not want to embarrass itself.

We will negotiate the following:

1. wages that are competitive for the industry
2. full time benefits for those who work full time hours
3. a systematic process to file grievances

It is simple a union is good for workers

What side a re you on?

First sign the petition, then every one gets a vote.

A final message: to those who ran from conflict in the past, we live in a democracy but only those informed decide, staying close to the boss won't work.


Juma is from Somalia. He told a Christian organization in a Kenya refugee camp he believed in Jesus. The Muslims didn't like this and wanted to kill him and his family thus the Christian organization was able to obtain refuge status from him and his family.

He had been in Edmonton a couple of months when he got a job at the Shaw conference center. It was winter and he would warm himself with the steam from the pot washing machine.

He didn't like the work complained it was too hard. When we would walk home together he would ask if he was off duty and i would explain that he was.

i told him about the union and he said, "So it is you who is causing them problems." We laughed. He signed the sheet and brought his wife and young child for dinner. He explained to his wife i was a very important person and I believed him. He ended up drunk, puking face down into the carpet. His wife got him up and they walked the couple of blocks home.

Once he had obtained his papers he told the christian organization he was a Muslim.


is an old grey woman who works in housekeeping, cleaning offices, toilets and mopping floors.

She never spoke to me but i heard her dead husband was an alcoholic who use to beat her.

She's well past the age of retirement and has been employed by the center from the beginning.

I tell her we're forming a union and she mumbles 'bout time. But when I push her to sign the petition she cowers and says, "I don't want know trouble." And I am relentless screaming the injustice of her life into her face, demanding she consider others repeating over and over again management will not find out.

She goes pale and I withdraw. I tell Dawn of the ambush and a few days later we have another signature.


Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Blast off

Management is oblivious and i sign my name in the pot wash area and get my partner James to witness. He signs and I witness. Two down. Tell the guy at the back of the machine who has since died from cocaine complications, "I'm forming a union, the petition is under the meat slicer go sign." He does and tells his girlfriend and so on. In 17 minutes nine people have signed and we have 122 to go.

I work my hours and go home and sign up Mona and finish the night with 10. I can do what needs to be done, now I wonder about my team.


Robin is an alcoholic, who doesn't drink, wanna be cop, free mason and the all the rest. Doped up on pain killers for a bad something or other, constantly consuming sugar products and generally out of it.

He was the Chefs' watchdog and the head honcho of stewarding.

His general omnipresence gave me lots of room to manoeuvre...I was the guy signing up people on the loading dock, in Hall A, downstairs in the cafeteria, the E&S office and...shh don't mention this...his entire staff. He never knew nor suspected anything.

This is called gloating. I could say i wish i wasn't a braggart but that would be untrue.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


So I set up a meeting and i invite one person from each department except banquets. When I get to the restaurant, Charles from E&S and Dawn from house keeping are sitting at one table, while the union rep is sitting at another. I bring them together, and we sit waiting Gabe and Philomena. Charles calls for Gabe on his cell phone and I order a bacon and cheeseburger on the unions' dime.

lance from the union is in his sixties and is scheduled to retire in a couple of months and for the most part is going through the motions. He tells us union stories he has told many time before...

Gabe and {Philomena arrive and Lance quickly explains a union is a group of employees who negotiate the terms of their employment...simple enough...

Then he hands each one of us a brown envelope containing ten employee petitions. He is in a hurry, his daughters car which he bought for fourteen grand has broken down and he needs to meet with the dawn is fired up..Gabe is cocky...Charles is confused...and Philomena gives me a beautiful smile which makes her look young and assures me I am on the right path. We have the petition and according to my calculations all we need is 131 signatures...



worked days in the pastry kitchen and i worked nights. her two daughters worked in banquets and she was friends with Lana and Hong. I knew through the grapevine she was having problems with her hands and the Shaw wasn't too interested in helping.

the Shaw would prefer to replace an employee than have one go on compensation. It was cheaper and easier. The rest of the kitchen staff consisted of apprentice cooks, immigrants and the handicapped and the chef had most of them under his thumb...

but Philomena still had some kindness and fight.

one night she was working late and i was cleaning a large pot in the pastry section. i asked her like a good lawyer if she was happy in the kitchen. She replied as expected and i asked her if she wanted to do anything about it.

Again as expected. i told her where to go and when to be there. She was in.

Events and services

are responsible for setting up tables, chairs and stages. They are paid $7.80 an hour to start. Men doing the same thing at Netherlands are paid $12. I've worked three shifts with them starting at midnight. Work is work.

I spoke with a couple of guys about possible action.

"you mean do something.
"you don't want to rock the boat."

The chains are secure and heavy around the ankles of a scared man.

After work I tell one of the supervisors, Charlie I'm forming a union. He swears it can't be done. i get his cell number ands tell him I'll call for the first meeting. resistance..on ward...

Saturday, 15 September 2007


So even though i had a plan i was still unable to connect with the union rep from CUPE 30 in any meaning full way. I didn't think she was taking me serious when she calls and want to meet. I hesitate and she says, "OK I'll do this over the phone."

"Gareth I've decided another union would be a better fit for you, a union that specialized in the food industry." I agree but not for the reasons she gives, CUPE 30 is unquestionably in bed with the city. So i reply with, "You can't do that. What's wrong with you don't you believe i can do it."

"Gareth listen to me."

"No you listen to me. Your job is to serve the worker, not dictate to them."

"Gareth I'm not rejecting you. You have my number. I just think the UFCW would be a better fit."

"Roxanne I need your help."

"I am helping." Click.

Well so much for Cupe 30. phone the UFCW and keep getting the worker together.