Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I am not a fighter, not even close. I have not been in a fight since Grade 13, 1993. And that fight consisted of me kicking a guy in the balls and him cuffing my ear. I'm not sure which hurt more...

I take pride in the fact that I have not been physically violent since then. But I also have this weird impulse, deep down, to see if I could step up and kick some guy's ass. Luckily, no matter how drunk or belligerent I feel, something inside always stops me. What's even weirder is that somehow, mystically, that force seems to stop others.

I have literally thrown myself in the path of fights. I did it at the Slayer show in 2006, I've done it at the Dom a few times. And yet, I didn't get pounded. The guys involved saw this goofy, happy drunken Metalhead and stood down. I helped to diffuse violence. There isn't much in this world that fills me with pride as much as that. Why? Because real violence simply isn't worth it.

And the funny thing is, I should have been suckling at the teat of violence. I'm the youngest of seven, six of whom are boys, and my earliest memories are of family members beating the snot out of each other. Luckily I had a buffer from all that testosterone, my sister Suzie. She was born in '72, after six boys, like some kind of miracle. What was an even greater miracle, or pratfall, depending on your humour, was that after her came one last boy. I was supposed to be Sylvie... Whoops.

So there I was, stuck  4.5 years between me and my next older brother. So while they played sports, I sat inside, being too small to join in (not that there weren't grandiose moments where my brothers would use me to make awesomeness happen, like the crabapple-shooting go-kart). So I did a lot of reading... I got into Masters of the Universe and comic books. And I entered high school as a total geek, not knowing how to be cool. And I got bullied, harassed, disappointed, etc.

I was suicidal at ten years old. I was a miserable little guy. But you know what? I had a moment of clarity, where I realized the second-story drop would hurt more than kill, and that was it. I contemplated suicide after that, but never with any conviction. I fought it. And I cannot be more grateful for that ordeal, because I got it over with early. I see loved ones still contemplating horrible acts and it pains me. Why? Because there should be no bully so strong as to extinguish the joy of what life has to offer. Whether it's fiction, sex, food, booze, whatever. Nothing should be that strong.

But in the end, some of us can't fight it alone. To you, I offer my support. Talk to me before you think about it, I might be able to change your mind. At least I hope someone can. @gutfrag on twitter.

I should have been dead a long time ago, a pathetic statistic of the effed up way life is lived these days. But I fought. And fighting is its own reward. There's nothing more satisfying than looking your failings and faults in the eye and saying "I'm better than you and I can prove it!" So, if you're thinking of ending the fight, hopefully you'll try one last time. The fight itself can be worth it for some of us...

Strive on my dear friends!

Size matters, but should it?

Hi there!

I've been wondering a lot lately about the issue of "sizeism" - i.e. being prejudicial towards people for being too fat or skinny (and let's be honest, it's the former that is more often at issue). A few of my more activist friends are often bringing up the issue of "fatphobia" in relation to ad campaigns and the like. The most recent was in relation to a vegetarian activist group posting a cartoon with a bunch of obese individuals asking "where do you get your protein?" to a bunch of fit vegetarians. It kinda made me lose it. First off, healthy eating isn't about WHAT you eat (omnivore/vegetarian/vegan/zombie), it's about HOW you eat. Sure, that vegan quinoa casserole might not cast a shadow, so it's OK to eat, but if you eat half a pan in one serving, you're bound to notice it in your belly.

Now, I admit I am a recovering "sizeist". In fact, I broke up with an ex a few years back because of the issue of her weight. Well, I was more upset about her constantly talking about getting the "perfect body", but doing nothing about it and eating poorly. Still, I was a jerk about it.

I think I've gotten over it since I am head over heels in love with a woman that some would consider 'fat'. But that isn't the point of this post. The point is this: there is a measure of validity to evaluating a person's weight in relation to their health. Criticizing someone purely for being overweight in and of itself is wrong and needs to be fought, but in an age where the life expectancy is shrinking due to an ever more sedentary population, we need to be honest about how we look at the issue of weight. Obesity is a serious health issue and I'm sorry, if you're obese, it's difficult for folks to simply overlook it. Especially when their taxes are paying for your ill health. As a smoker, I am fully aware that I have earned the right to be shat on for my unhealthy, harmful and tax-draining habit. Shouldn't someone's McDonald's habit be subject to the same scrutiny?

It's an unfortunate reality that all fat people are tarred with the same brush. An overweight person is subject to constant scrutiny, bombarded by conflicting advertising ("Lose 50 pounds with Nutri-fit!" is followed by an ad for the Baconator) and possibly caught in the loop of depressed-due-to-being-overweight/overweight-due-to-being depressed. And I know a whole bunch of people who might look "overweight", but are in far better shape than most thin folks! So what is to be done?

Well, that's going to be the focus of my write-up to follow. But first I need to vent a little. Yes, it's totally wrong that overweight people are subject to mockery, prejudice and marginalization, but if you're over 300 pounds due to dietary choices, sorry, you can't use the excuse that you're a victim of "fat-shaming" to justify bad eating habits. You can't scarf back 5000 calories a day of crap and expect to be immune from criticism. Yes, there is a staggering number of negative influences that shape bad eating habits, but the medical facts bear out that you're still doing yourself a frightening amount of harm. Not to mention common sense!   

Whatever the causes of poor eating habits are, it's your responsibility to overcome them and at least try to eat better. You shouldn't have to do it alone, no doubt about that. But in the end, it's YOUR responsibility to ensure your own health, if only from a social perspective. The socialized medical system won't be able to handle the pressure being exerted by an increasingly unhealthy and obese population.

And don't think I'm immune either, I KNOW I need to eat better and I have a few pounds to lose and I have no problem with anyone reminding me of that fact or criticizing me for "letting myself go". This is a contentious issue that hurts feelings in a heartbeat. But we need to look it in the eye and be brutally honest about it without feeling like a bad person.

Now, none of this means society shouldn't help a little.

September 30 2011

Proposed Measures for Improving Eating Habits among the Canadian Population

1) Nutrition, culinary and health awareness education in schools:

- All children should be taught to cook, with an emphasis on using healthy ingredients and cooking on a budget.
- Secondary schools and post-secondary institutions should provide facilities to allow students to make their own meals. Cafeterias can sell ingredients in addition to prepared foods.
- Cafeteria food would need to be re-evaluated and menus overhauled to include healthy choices.
- All annual check-ups in schools will include an evaluation from a nutritionist.
- Programs will be implemented to heighten awareness of self-esteem and bullying in order to curtail problems related to depression and overeating.

2) Support to parents:

- Affordable subsidized cooking lessons should be provided to adult populations. Possibilities include workshops in community centres, the workplace, religious institutions, etc.
- Healthier ingredients will be made cheaper.

3) Popular understanding of health effects of poor eating:

- A massive education campaign will be launched in the same vein as anti-smoking campaigns, using shocking imagery and direct language to emphasize the ill effects of bad eating habits as well as adding emphasis to the benefits of home-made meals over processed foods.
- Workplace campaigns for positive body image and good eating habits that focus on boosting persons' self-esteem.

4) Encouragement for an active population:

- Public facility gym memberships will be partially subsidized and gym classes will be made mandatory for at least 3 years of secondary school.
- Public workers will be provided with a "health break" to allow time to go for a walk/run/bike ride, etc.
- Private sector employers will be provided a tax benefit for providing similar "health breaks"
- An national Hide and Seek game will take place on October 2 annually

OK, so the last one is mostly a joke, but the point is that we need to foster a culture of positive health, body image and proper eating habits on a country-wide level. If we don't, just wait 30 years to see how bad things get. For point of reference, see Wall-E...

And now let the hate mail begin!