P is for POSER

Poser is most certainly ONE accurate description of me we. If we contain multitudes, we must be posers sometimes, we and me. Impostor Syndrome is something suffered by many artists, severity depending on levels of insecurity. 

I played at rock and roll, subscribing to Rolling Stone and signing up to the Columbia Record club in high school, in my first rebellious pose. My first wife looked like Marc Bolan and rocked to erase some of my negative energy. We saw T.Rex twice in Winnipeg. Trees kill rock stars and public intellectuals in cars. Albert Camus was an unlucky Passenger, Bolan was drunk, like I often was, but Bolan piled into a tree. I wasn’t in either luxury car. I am ashamed of some of my poses and harm done. I trusted my good friend who was living with me in my parents’ house so we could walk to university.  He kept my secret embarrassing run away to Toronto, St Claire & Young, to himself when I fled with my typewriter, my money for university, and my horn for fame and fortune.  My first major pose as a dumbass. I was so naïve I still can’t believe I got dates.

I was a drunken choir director when I got back, having prepared for the part by playing Simon Stimson in “Our Town” in high school. 

I was called on my rock n roll pose, two real long hair hippie freaks knocked on my door in residence late one night and gave me a rough time about my druggie pose, which went as far as writing the names of drugs like heroin and LSD on a sweatshirt parading around our Christian school.  I never wore it again after their informative visit. Though I tried LSD once before Grade Nine, even then butterfingers dropping one windowpane tab on the driveway.

 I tagged along with my brother, 8 years older than me and every once in a rare while he’d let me tag along to the Manitoban student newspaper where I would pose as an “agent for social change,” and journalist for nearly a decade. Once brother took me to the “commune house” heavy with weed smoke playing Santana loud enough to blow the cover grill off the big speakers they used in the living room. I went to hear Santana again just a few months ago and the 74-year-old brat had the nerve to complain that it looked/felt like he was playing for a room of old people. We caught Covid.

My best badass pose as a young man was JIMMY BANG, a declined Mennonite punk. Channeling his nasty energy and whisky into poems that were fodder for my writing workshop with Robert Kroetsch and my first (chap)book called Jimmy Bang Poems. “Pretty Vacant,” by the Sex Pistols, Mad Shadows by Marie-Claire Blais, and the Energy of Slaves by Leonard Cohen; influences, for sure. 

Somewhere there is a real man who married three designers and had three kids, with his second wife, enjoying being a sober dad. Me We was successful as an arts administrator which most friends and enemies (if begrudgingly) agreed was my we strength. When my body began to fall apart, my third marriage did too. Credulity is often the toughest test for a disabled person.

The idea me we would fake disability seems patently ridiculous because its costs,  loaded with pain and inability are overwhelming. I tell the story in more detail elsewhere in the Look Show but neither my parents or my GP believed my hip could possibility hurt so much I really couldn’t walk, sometimes falling to my knees and crawling in tears. (Sounds like a purple pose, not?)  This, apparently, to my parents and jovial GP, was just an attention getting act, a pose, because I was having “adjustment problems,” adapting to my new school and our move to the city. The bitterness of not being believed by those close to me has been a wound that is easily re-opened in similar situations. I was in hospital for two weeks, as they straightened my leg with 10 lbs of traction and then three four-inch screws to keep my hip joints heal in proper places. My brain remained untreated.

IN 2018 Me we couldn’t fake my amputation.  I earned the “advantages” of being visibly disabled, though waited too long to apply and earn a disability pension. Being sober seems no longer a pose After my third divorce I was driving to see my brother in the International Peace Gardens when my van broke down. In the tow truck drive on the way to Brandon the driver looked at me after a bit of talk and said, “you look as if you feel really beat down.” I was checking singles dating sites but had little luck, because as one woman responded, “you are so broke and broken, Victor!”

I switched to the Disability Dating sites with more luck, chatting with people who were more like me. Michelle Hewitt took a chance on me. She has Multiple Sclerosis we joke when she has pain well at least “it’s just MS.” My heavyweight arthritis gives me more pain than most people can or at least want to imagine. Well at least it’s just arthritis, and osteo-arthritis not even rheumatoid.

Grading pain. It’s garbage, man really. The problem persists, that is how much does it hurt….”8 out of 10” oh c’mon how can it?, it’s just degenerative disc disease. Have you tried cortisone shots. Spiritual bamboo flute listening?

I carry my diagnoses and x-ray results in my backpack to prove it. I’m not a self-i-d-r. Not Now. But why do I need to prove how much it hurts. Thanks to Canada Council; for the opportunity to show you in LOOK at my story, mostly a story of my pain, interpreted by a dozen great Winnipeg artists, Misguided Angel is stuck trying to escape the pain in this room. Jimmy Bang gets another send off, in the incredible triptych The Ascension of Jimmy Bang by my collaborator Murray Toews.

Art captures poses. Making art allows me to create something that did not exist before I thought of it. I need to create to stay alive. See? Look!

This is a thought I had derived from a dream, my pain, and my X-ray showing my my spondylolisthesis.









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