Some Who Fancy Themselves Tough Guys Don’t Die Young – E-book Excerpt

The following is another compelling excerpt from the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens

January 14, 2007

Some Who Fancy Themselves Tough Guys Don’t Die Young 

Guns have been in high schools for decades, another signal of the folly and recklessness along the way to adulthood and maturity. A stable home life ups the chances a teen will be better able to navigate those deceptively treacherous years. If not a stable home life, then a strong early foundation leaves a good chance to recover from the relatively risky teen years.

I remember José (not his real name), a rosy-cheeked boy of Spanish heritage who wore a puffy Afro and identified himself as Black. He went — for a while anyway — to my high school. José was growing up in a household of women – his mother and two older sisters – where he was the only male and had no male presence to emulate or to guide him. School gossip was that his father had died.

José was one of the guys who smoked substances that were not allowed in the smoking area just outside the school building. Later, his attendance at school became irregular. After that, he would visit the school although he was no longer a student there.

I remember the day José showed me his gun. Well, showed off was more like it. He handed me a small bag that was surprisingly heavy. When I saw what was inside, I immediately handed it back to him and asked what he was doing with such a thing.

I didn’t see José again for years, until we ran into each other by chance. The rosiness of his cheeks was all gone. The baby softness, which decades before seemed so incongruous with his tough man attitude, was also gone. Now he was muscular and wiry. Of below average height, he looked nevertheless like someone you wouldn’t want to test in a fight.

He said he was living in a nearby basement apartment and that he had recently returned from one of the States out west where he had served time for armed robbery. He said something about lawyers being some of the best people in the world, and especially sang the praises of his lawyer.  Apparently, he had been able to get José off with less jail time than might have been the case, given the charge.

José said he’d learned a lot in jail about how to be a better skilled criminal. What we are interested in we study. What we study we become good at. What we become good at we practice as a skill.

José would pop up in unexpected places at unexpected times over the years. The next time I saw him was about 15 years after his return from the West Coast jails. Then, he looked like a homeless person. When I said hello, he either didn’t recognize me or pretended not to. It was hard to tell. He said he didn’t know who I was. Mental illness was evident.

The last time I saw José was on a subway train. He looked much, much older than his years. His hair had turned mostly gray and his features had become hardened. Given the previous chance meeting years before, I wasn’t sure whether to say hello or not. I looked in his direction a few times, and as I prepared to get off the train he waved and said hello. He asked how I was. I said, “Fine.” I didn’t ask how he was.

Not every youth who wants to be the bad man is killed off before he reaches 25. Some, like José, live past their dangerous youth. Then they have the rest of their lives to contend with. José didn’t study academics or a trade; he studied crime. He had come from a fine family. That’s what the gossip was. But he didn’t look like a man who had come from a fine family.   He looked beaten and worn out by his life choices.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk

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Free e-book download ends Dec. 18

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There has been much interest from readers who have taken up the free download offer at amazon.com for In Through A Coloured Lens. Downloads have come in from the U.S. and Canada as well as the UK, Japan, Italy and Germany.

The free download period ends Wednesday, Dec. 18. So don’t miss your chance to take advantage of it.

Not a Kindle user? You can still get a copy. Amazon provides a feature to let you download e-books to tablets, smart phones and computers.

Radio interview & more free e-book download days

Hello All.

Here is the url for the author interview that took place on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 15 on Diasporic Music with host Otis Richmond to  further promote In Through A Coloured Lens. It can be heard in the last 30 minutes of the recording, but the entire 2-hour session is good.

http://uhurunews.com/radio/playaudio?resource_name=sly-dunbar-pat-watson

In other promo news, another free download period at amazon.com has been added: Dec 16 to Dec. 18. So catch it while you can. If you don’t have a kindle reader, your copy can be downloaded to tablet, smart phone or computer using features available at amazon.com.

Once you’ve read In Through A Coloured Lens, remember to leave a comment and rating at amazon.com . Please share your opinion there with other readers.

Find it at: http://www.amazon.com/Through-Coloured-Lens-Pat-Watson-ebook/dp/B00F8EODTC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387174867&sr=1-1&keywords=in+through+a+coloured+lens

Free download on fire! Author interview at 1530 est

There has been worldwide response to the complementary offer of In Through A Coloured Lens. Free download continues. Even if you don’t own a Kindle reader you can download this very readable e-book. See amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk etc. for the app or feature that let’s you do that. It’s easy.
Sunday, December 15 at 3:30 pm (eastern standard time) In Through A Coloured Lens author Pat Watson will be interviewed on Diasporic Music hosted by Otis Richmond.
Also featured – Sly Dunbar, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Youssou N’Dour, Rokia Traoré and The Real Sun.
Diasporic Music on Uhuru Radio http://uhurunews.com/radio/?tzoffminutes=300

News of e-book download comp and radio interview

Thank you to those who responded to the poll regarding interest in a free download from amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk of my debut e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens, taking place over a two-day period – this Saturday, Dec 14 and  Sunday, Dec. 15.

Also on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 3:30 p.m., I’ll be interviewed by Diasporic Music host Otis Richmond on Uhuru Radio. http://uhurunews.com/radio/?tzoffminutes=300

What is In Through A Coloured Lens about?

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A young man searches for his identity. Young Black men lose their lives to the stories created about them that they then buy into. A mysterious bus driver documents an apocalyptic tale of our contemporary lives as it relates to the Book of Revelations. A woman speaks in the Council Chamber at Toronto City Hall to tell about how her life went from normal to the desperation of depression and homelessness and recovery. A northern city become known for it’s annual Caribbean carnival rivalling many similar celebrations around the globe. A little girl skips along a sidewalk, bringing memories of long forgotten childhoods.

In Through a Coloured Lens is a compilation of timely and timeless columns selected from the hundreds by Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson that have appeared over the past ten years in Share newspaper – “Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper”. Here are words on the lives of African Canadians and the issues that affect them even beyond Canada’s borders. With Watson’s particular insights colouring each view, themes range from family relations to race relations, politics to humour, mental health and poverty, and even spirituality.

For added dimension, there are illustrations by M.W. Santerre

A Note On…The Latest

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A note on kismet …

Just when they thought they could not only “Imagine the Freedom”, but live it, fortune threw a wrench into those 19 Bell Canada employees’ $50-million lottery New Year celebration when eight others step forward claiming they wanted in. ‘Imagine the Annoyance’ of having to wait two years for the whole mess to be cleared up. ‘Imagine the Disappointment’ of the eight whose lawyer could not convince the courts that they had a legitimate claim.

On a note of pious appreciation…

It can be so charming the way some churchgoers express their appreciation for that which the secular would view with blatant lust. As two Christian-minded gentlemen admired the bountiful curves of a pulchritudinous lady, one commented to the other with unrestrained enthusiasm, “God has really, really blessed her so very generously.” By the fourth or fifth fervent repetition of his heavenly praise, all those nearby got the message.

A note on signs of eccentricity everywhere…

The Toronto Transit Commission’s recent poster campaign to stop people messing up the subway with discarded chewing gum had one passenger pressing his finger into an enlarged photograph of a chewed wad of gum, apparently checking if it was real gum. And if it was, why touch something that appeared to be already chewed? Then in another subway car, there was the unknown person who took his or her already chewed gum and stuck it over the image on the poster, maybe for the 3-D effect. Gotta love this city’s craziness.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk

We may laugh, but Rob Ford is a monster we created

We may laugh, but Ford is a monster we created

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Television, it’s been said, is the medium that allows you to have in your living room people you would not otherwise invite into your home. Thus it is with Rob Ford, current mayor of Toronto, and his eldest brother Councillor Doug Ford, two politicians who are currently in the spotlight because of behavior deemed for the most part socially offensive.

But this troubling set of circumstances – evidence of a video of the mayor of Toronto consorting with criminals, spending his leisure time in what appears to be a crack den, blackmail, extortion, obscene language, and just plain spectacle, along with his enabling brother – involves not just these individuals, but all spectators.

We may allow ourselves to gawk at this show in disgust, amazement or amusement, but prudence requires some context and perspective, otherwise we may be surprised at where our participating in this whole mess will take us.

First, we have all become part of a scenario that can best be described as an alternate reality. Or if you will, some form of insanity, because soundness of mind is not what is operating at the source – that source being the Fords.

The Ford Circus creates psychic and emotional dissonance. Normally, when someone in a position of public trust breaches that agreement he resigns from that position. This has so far not been the case with Rob Ford. This leaves pundits with no formulaic answer for what is happening and what will happen next.

Part of the confusion is that Ford retains loyalty among his supporters in the face of undeniable antisocial behavior. But it bears remembering that other politicians who have been in the spotlight for scandals have seen their popularity ratings also go up, former U.S. president Bill Clinton being a prime example.

Another matter is the politics of the dollar has taken primacy. Ford repeats after just about every apology that he is keeping spending down, that he is ‘looking after the little guy’ and that he’s saved Toronto a billion dollars. All of these claims can reliably be refuted, but as the saying goes, if you repeat a lie often enough it comes to be believed as the truth. Even the liar believes it.

Politicians have made hay with economic insecurity to the extent that a significant enough portion of voters will make allowances for all kinds of oversights as long as politicians can convince them that they are looking after “taxpayers’’ money. This reaction has not happened in a vacuum.   There has long been dissatisfaction with the way money given up by everyday people to various levels of government has been mishandles or wasted.

The votes that brought the Harper Conservatives to power a decade ago came after revelations about funding improprieties by the Chrétien Liberals, the so-called sponsorship scandal in which monies were paid out to Quebec advertising agencies for work that was not done or overpayments were made. It was a $2-million debacle that eventually put the Liberals in third place in Parliament. The current Senate scandal involving inappropriate travel expense claims that saw three senators censured is also about money.

Spending baggage is also haunting Ontario’s Liberal government. By now we should all be familiar with the litany of fiscal waste attached to the current provincial Liberal legacy. Add to that the outrage fueled by right-wing media reporting on retiring municipal politician Kyle Rae’s $14,000 send-off party and we begin to see why and how an outlier like Rob Ford won through. Ford had, after all, made a reputation of railing against pretty much any government spending. No one likes having his or her trust abused. When government leaders do that at the most base level of concern – money – they are stepping deep into the public’s vested interest. So if a person with political ambitions comes along with a message that he will “stop the gravy” train, desperate people will cling to it like a life raft.

We may laugh or be aghast at Ford, but he’s not the only one creating this dystopian drama. He is but a nick-nack from our collective focus on the ‘almighty dollar’. This then is what happens when we make money our god; it turns around and makes a mockery of us all.

The preceding article is a modified version of my column in the November 21 issue of Share newspaper. Share is Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper. Visit sharenews.com

Image by Theo Moudakis  taken from the Toronto Star

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk.