Despite popular belief, Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. Contrary to the myth, his surname isn’t even the etymological catalyst for our common use of the word “crap,” as in fecal matter or the infamous Roger Ebert quote; “Transformers: Age of Extinction is the biggest piece of crap we as a species have willingly put into our eyes––I’m surprised the majority of the Western world doesn’t have pinkeye.” Except that Ebert never said that (he was mercifully dead by the time the film was released), “crap” is actually a combination of the Dutch word “krappen” (to cut off, or separate) and the Old French word “crappe” (siftings, waste), and John Harington invented the flush toilet in 1596 (not to be confused with John Harrington, the late CEO of the Boston Red Sox).
Misconceptions like these are generally innocent in nature and are usually just the result of a game of cross-generational telephone, someone not doing their due diligence and checking Google, or some good old fashioned fabrication. That being said, with some things there just isn’t any room for misconception. It is universally understood, and even upheld by the U.N, that it is a direct violation of my human rights to have to listen to dubstep at 8:45am as we make the hour-long carpool to work through morning traffic––everyone knows that torture is a no-no. So dear God, at least just put it on shuffle.
The simple colour scheme caught my attention first, its faded black block-letters on eggshell white. Then its centre-aligned stacks of text balanced on top of one another created a visually appealing, top heavy image similar to an erect nipple or a pedestal for holding what was bound to be a powerful sentiment once I got close enough to read it.
THE WHOLE WORLD
Those seven words sat undaunted on the face of the t-shirt. There was no effort made to hide it in the safety of the clothing rack––this machismo war flag, weaved with the sinew of a hundred beer-bonging bros, hung face out, challenging anyone who looked its way. This was not the vintage novelty t-shirt of a coward (or anyone with taste or morals). I noticed a few words faded beyond legibility at the bottom of the shirt’s bold proclamation. Was this an actual quote? Who the hell said it? It must have been someone of relative celebrity for it to make it onto a t-shirt––I had to know. The shirt was well worn, nearly translucent from use and age, which made it look like it could have come from the ’70s, ’80s, or even ’90s. I tried to decide on some likely quotable candidates from those eras and their reasoning.
’70s: John Lennon upon breaking up with The Beatles.
’80s: The alternate title to Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson’s smash humanitarian hit, “We Are The World.”
’90s: President Bill Clinton after getting impeached.
“That one’s forty-bucks.” The grizzled shop-owner said, nodding at the shirt, and interrupting my speculation. At forty-bucks, he was obviously taking the quote to heart.
The 1982 World’s Fair commemorative PEZ dispenser is known in PEZ circles as the most rare and sought after plastic-head driven candy dispenser of all time. On top of a green stem (that holds the unremarkable sugary tablets), this Austrian based company stuck an assumedly American astronauts helmet––a proxy for the USA’s power and ingenuity––up on a threateningly diabetic pike. Was this a bold political statement or my boredom causing me to connect dots that weren’t there, like my brother’s freckles during winter?
If it’s boredom it’s because I just don’t get PEZ. I mean, I understand the appeal of candy and the fetish of collecting meaningless cultural ephemera, but none of the PEZ characters ever spoke to me. Popeye? Batman? The cast of Disney’s Frozen? Yawn. You want my money? Give me Donald Trump. Make the freshly euthanized Pomeranian on his head tilt back to offer up what you expected be an artificially flavoured grape rectangle that for some reason tastes like cherry. Why? Because that’s the art of the deal, yah loser, that’s why.
I want to tip Putin’s stoic Russian chin and die of dioxin poising two-days later. I want a self-tanned, weave-wearing Rachel Dolezal gullet to shoot out peppermint PEZ and a dispenser hooded in a niqab that you lift to reveal a simpering Stephen Harper––because if you’re going to turn our sweets into entertainment, at least make it something that we’re entertained by––the loud, dangerous, and offensive.
Left. Right. Forward. Left. Right. Back. Small circle. Lift one foot. Hold onto belt buckle. Left. Crouch and mock prayer hands. Slowly rise. Right. Look into eyes. Look down bashfully. Right. Left. Alternating shoulder thrust. Hands behind back. Close eyes. Move head back/forth. Move head left/right. Feel music. Open eyes. Smile. Move closer. Hands at side. Alternating shoulder thrust. Move closer. Left. Right. Slow squat. Slow rise. Touch foreheads. Ask if they want to kiss. Kiss. Hand on small of back. Pull back. Smile knowingly. Right. Quick spin. Kiss again. Left. Alternating shoulder thrust. Wobbly knee move. Lights on. Ask for number. Say goodbye. Kiss. Go home. Deliberate whether to text at 4:00am or not. Text. No reply.
Portrait by Coreenah Lewis for #POBEshow 2015
It seemed to be going well. She was laughing. I was laughing. Those were the right ingredients. She made music. I loved music! It was going great. Then a man streaked past the table in a blur of obscenities and into the centre of the park where the streetlights caught him in a way that in one short moment he looked like he was about to deliver an aside in a play.
(enter stage left, the man who had been chasing him) “You piece of fuck, Oliver!” he yelled as he caught up, grabbing Oliver by the collar and giving him several short uppercuts to the nose and gut. Two others came and yelled down at his crumpled person before leaving.
There was a lull in our conversation. Things were not going as great as before. Especially for Oliver. Sobs rose from him like smoke, dissipating then reappearing with each guttural bawl.
“Should we see if he’s alright?” She asked. Besides the crying I thought he seemed fine. Looked like a hard lesson learned but nothing to fret over and we were really just starting to hit it off and I didn’t want to lose momentum. “I’m going to go check on him.”
“Hold up, I’m coming.”
Portrait by Mia Dungeon for #POBEshow 2015
“Take this. Uh, for this is my body. And eat it. Yes, eat my body. No, come back. I’m serious. I mean, it’s all very symbolic, you’re not actually eating my body. Come on. Take it. Put it in there. I see you looking at it. Your friend too. Both of you come eat my body. It’s chill, we’ve been doing this for thousands of years. I’m sorry I don’t have any blood to wash my body down with but we generally use wine and I don’t think either of you would be into that––I doubt you have very sturdy constitutions. What? Don’t get all ruffled, you’re just small. It’s biology. Okay, but seriously, I put all these pieces of my body on the railing just for you. They’re going to dry up soon. Do you want to eat hard, crunchy body? Wow. Fine. Fly away. Fuckers.”
Portrait by Dylan Homer for #POBEshow 2015
As kids my mother once told my older brother that if he planted sesame seeds in the garden they would grow into a hamburger tree. Obviously it never worked because my five year-old brother was an idiot and beef doesn’t grow on trees. I would like to lay most of the blame on my mother for putting this fantastical idea into his head and setting him up for a big emotional fall once he realized that flora don’t fauna, but I think that it should be taken into account that my brother, even at such a young age, should have known that cows can’t flower. It’s also difficult to pin either party as ignorant or negligible in this situation when both suffer the same negligible ignorance. Was my older brother adversely affected by this maternal non-truth? Who’s to say? Was my mother’s life made difficult by her two stupid boys with trust issues? Perhaps. All I know is that old Saint Nick was one thing, but I’m still reeling from the million-dollar cheque she wrote me at age six. The memo read “HAHA.”
Portrait by Andrea Wan for #POBEshow 2015
I understood. We were skateboarding outside of a library and skateboarding is an inherently loud activity to be doing at an historically quiet place. We were probably distracting all of the pre-teen boys googling “Nicki Minaj nip slip” on the public computers inside. Except that’s not why the police officer was kicking us out––according to him it was for our own safety. We were skating near a road and that was dangerous because there were a lot of “new to Canada drivers in the area.” He said this in the way you talk to someone who you just found out spent the afternoon at the DMV or had Chlamydia once too––with the pretence of camaraderie through shared experience––in this case, white guy to white guy.
“Catch my drift?” I did. He was asking for confirmation that I too was an ignorant asshole, which I didn’t think I was. But I was a broke asshole whose righteousness couldn’t afford him a $200 dollar ticket for the open beer sitting by my backpack in plain sight. “Yessir. Have a good day.”
Portrait by Sherri Rogers for #POBEshow 2015
Our guide had a kind face. He introduced himself and shook all of our hands before taking us around the perimeter of the Kingdom. Nearly 50ft tall and shimmering gold, its walls were hard to look at, the sun reflecting harshly off of them. I had to shield my eyes as we traced the west wall. It took almost ten-minutes. My arm ached as we rounded the corner. Everyone else had worn hats. The guide told us about the fountains, the springs, and the Lake of Purity at the centre of the Kingdom. He said its waters were always the perfect temperature and no children ever dumped in them. I heard splashing and laughter from within the walls. Apparently no one would be allergic to any food in the Kingdom and you could eat whatever you wanted whenever you wanted. I thought about tiramisu. I thought about a lot of tiramisu.
I don’t know why I asked if my best friend with the severe nut allergy would be okay to eat nuts in the Kingdom since the guide had just told us that he would be. The subsequent look he gave me was somewhere between surprise and pity. He then explained in a kind of condescending way that it was highly unlikely that Stew would make it into the Kingdom. That it was highly unlikely that any of us would either. The lady beside me with the small nose asked why we were even here if we weren’t getting in. “To inspire us.” The guide said there was only 7, 349 available spots in the Kingdom and 7, 253 were already taken. I started to cry. “I don’t think there’s Wifi here anyways.” Small nose said.
Portrait by Andrew Pommier for #POBEshow 2015
Marty. Dear Marty. How are you so kind? So patient? You really seem like a genuine person. Although admittedly I wasn’t sure about you at first, your fedora threw me off. It would be one thing if it was a singular occasion––a fashion test run. We all make mistakes. But I have never seen you without it atop the jovial ball of dough that is your head. Fortunately I was able to look past my prejudices and discover a wonderful teacher and someone I would even be proud to call a friend of sorts. Wild Horses, Ramblin’ Man, Karma Police, that one Lifehouse song––your Youtube channel has taught me so much. I can’t put my guitar down and that’s because of you. I was trying to think of the best way to say thanks, and I’m aware that there’s a donate button on your website, but I think that pressing “like” on at least 50 of your videos would be enough to give you that big, toothy grin I’ve grown to love. I can hear you laughing now; like that time you dropped your pick in the sound hole.
Portrait by Eric Miranda for #POBEshow 2015