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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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27 Responses

  1. Avatar zic says:

    Sad event, but lovely writing, Rufus. Nice to observe yourself so; to humble away from being the centers of all things.

    Letting go of the center sets you free; gives you independence that it’s not all about you, and most aren’t even noticing you, they’re too busy being the center of all things themselves. Inversely, hanging on to the center turns one into every evil character in a comic book ever.

    As a human, we have opportunity to observe that no, we are not the center, and this may, more then tools, speech, or giganta-brain, be what separates us from the animals, because I’m pretty sure, from observing her, that my cat is the center of all things. We can observe that we are not the center; I’m not sure she has the capacity.

    Perhaps it’s part of the observation problem; where the act of observing changes the outcome. I sometimes wonder if that’s the root of the multiverse — an infinite number of observers — splitting realities as quantum physics predicts, because the very act of observing changes what’s being observed. Maybe cat’s both dead and alive depending on who looks, or something like that, and that outcome changing based on who’s looking at who’s looking at who’s looking. . .Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    But for the grace, you could have been the random guy on the receiving end of an unprovoked street beatdown.

    Many years ago my now-wife and our good friend wanted to go out on New Year’s – I had to work in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, so I was their sober chauffeur.

    We got to a club, met up with some friends. I’m standing there talking to them when all of the sudden I receive a major blow to the skull – I am seeing stars. My knees buckle and I go halfway down. I reach up to touch my head and my hand comes away sticky with blood.

    I look & see a guy walking away from me, fast – I am sort of addled from the blow (but again, stone-cold sober), so I assume he must have randomly punched or bottled me…maybe mistaken identity, he thought I was someone else?

    I catch up to him, grab him and spin him around and yell “WHAT THE HELL?!” – he is totally confused/surprised/alarmed – he’s just a barback, clearing bottles and trash, he had nothing to do with this and is almost as confused as I am.

    So I get outside into the light so we can take stock, and there are EMTs in the vicinity (New Year’s, ya know) and they start to check me out.

    Meanwhile, my friends who were at the table have made their way outside with the “real” culprit – a fist-sized chunk of concrete, it landed on the table they were sitting at.

    Turns out some petty drug-dealer/user had been booted from the club, gotten angry and gone around to the alley, found a chunk of sidewalk and lobbed it through a high window (there were witnesses outside the building); said chunk had arced over an internal dividing wall in a neat parabola, and beaned me.

    I didn’t end up needing stitches, and the police took a report (“throwing a deadly missile into an occupied structure” is a felony, and they actually knew who the guy was but didn’t have an address) but AFAIK they never caught the guy.

    Lemme tell ya, working the next day low on blood and with a headache sans traditional NYE hangover was lame.

    But the alternative could have been worse…some sort of permanent injury or death, from some random knucklehead. I was also really glad it hit my skull, and not say the girls’ faces or something.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Glyph says:

      Wow, that’s a heck of a turn of events! I consider myself very lucky to have generally avoided random beat downs, especially remembering some of the places I’ve found myself. I do hope the police brought the concrete in for questioning at least!Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I do hope the police brought the concrete in for questioning at least

        Interrogation would’ve been no use when dealing with such a hardened criminal.

        BUT SERIOUSLY folks, it was in my completely-scientific estimate approximately a gazillion-to-one chance that that guy threw what he did, when he did, from where he did, managing to smash it through that exterior window with *just* the right force and trajectory so that it could then clear the top of a second interior dividing wall, all to land on me noggin.

        Wrong place, wrong time. Like that poor guy who got his butt beat for presumably little more than happening to be the guy on the street when some drunk violent a-hole got kicked out of a bar.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    This was really, really great. I loved this line especially:

    “How these happen is the owner of the punk rock record store around the corner books three or four teenage bands to come bang the bangers and strum the strummers and they charge five bucks at the door and everyone gets pleasantly sauced and leaves in fine fettle.”

    It’s really a treat to have you posting again.Report

  4. “this blue collar town that’s sort of the epicenter for the decline of culture in Ontario.”

    This seems, sadly, true, but I thought your city had begun some grand rejuvenation projects. Is there any progress? It’s well-placed to be a lovely city.Report

    • Yes, there has been some progress. Specifically, there is a street downtown that has added a number of galleries and cultural events and become a sort of arts colony that seems to be attracting Toronto people who salivate at our real estate prices but get a bit antsy around the industrial zone. The tee-shirt I see often there reads “Art is the new steel”. I’m not sure that art actually pays a pension though!Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Awesome.Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Is Ontario in decline or just certain sections of it? Aren’t Toronto and Ottawa still major cities? But I suppose that Ontario is likely to have a lot of old and gone Industrial towns like the Northeast United States and the Rust Belt.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to NewDealer says:

      Ottawa hasn’t gone downhill at all, and I don’t think Toronto has either (other than having a laughably terrible, idiotic, and likely very corrupt mayor). I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the industrial areas of southern Ontario are struggling.Report

      • Yes, culturally, I think Toronto and Ottawa are still humming along quite well, but there are a number of areas that are in decline, culturally or otherwise.Report

        • I live in Hamilton, which is a strange case admittedly. US Steel all but pulling out has been rough on the local economy, which wasn’t exactly great to begin with. Culturally, there has been much recent boosterism about the James Street North art scene and the local music community. There are quite a few new galleries, restaurants, and renovated buildings in about a four block stretch. There has been even more hype from the sort of people who think a struggling steel town just needs “rebranding” to lure the tourists. I still support all of this to some extent and certainly would love to land one of those new jobs. However, I’m really skeptical that it’s sustainable or that having a three block hipster colony does anything special for the rest of the city, aside from driving up real estate prices downtown. Finally, I get the feeling that many of the people running these “cultural events” that have been popping up are essentially carpetbaggers looking to cash in on what’s been going on here for decades.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Rufus F. says:

            When gentrifcation works, it tends to revive an area at the expense of the former working class occupants. This is what happened in Brooklyn and San Francisco.

            Other areas are like Hamilton and might have a small downtown revival areas but are still largely hallowed out from their former status as industrial cities with a healthy working class population. Oakland is like this in the Bay Area. There are people who move there because they can’t afford housing in SF and Oakland is close by without being too far like Berkeley and it is not suburban. There are hip and good restaurants sprouting up in Oakland but it still very dangerous. A recent essay described living in Oakland to living in a town with vampires. You just don’t go out at night and at one point you and/or someone you know will be robbed/mugged/beaten.

            I think gentrification worked in SF and Brooklyn because they has upper-middle class and above areas. Oakland, Lowell, Hamilton were always working-class cities without much of an upper-middle class. There was no concept of things to gentrify.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

          How are you defining cultural decline?Report

  7. Avatar Paul Barnes says:

    Rufus, whereabouts in Ontario are you positioned? I live in Scarborough myself…Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    First off, great piece. Second off, great mini-bio.

    This line stands out: “Our real significance pales in comparison to our assumed significance.”

    In part because it is true, but also because I don’t know that it is as much a factor in what you experienced in the bar there. Yes, perhaps there is something to our tendency to assume things are about us. But, we are also limited to the facts in evidence. You had no good reason to believe that the events which did occur had occurred. Had you seen the blood in the streets, or the cop cars, or the fight, you never would have considered that it was about you. But you didn’t see all of that, so you focused on what you did know… or at least what you thought you knew. Given that you knew very few people in the bar and you felt viscerally the change in tenor of the room, you naturally looked inward since that is where you could draw data from. Did you do something nasty on Facebook? Had you pissed people off? You didn’t consider the fight because it wasn’t a particularly reasonable thing to consider. You also didn’t consider the possibility that aliens landed and demanded that all the bands play Rush that night.Report

  9. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    Ontario has always had some rough places, IMO.Report

  10. Avatar Mike says:

    An eerily similar happened here a couple of years ago and it still bothers me and really affects how I approach people and or their problems. I live in what you might call “the rest of Ontario” that is I don’t live in Toronto or Ottawa. They are both fine Cities.
    One evening some thugs arrived at corner bar in Belleville, Ont. and proceeded to act like bullies, most likely dressed for the part wearing basketball jerseys and straight brimmed UFC hats, basically children in men’s bodies. Dirtbags. Within a short time they found what they were looking for, a fight with someone that wasn’t going to put up with their shit. Well the guy was certainly outmatched by these wanna be ultimate fighters. THEY BEAT HIM TO DEATH IN A GRAVEL PARKING LOT. A 29 year old father, out for a beer with friends Life is worthless to people like this and they proved it that night. I see guys like this everywhere in this area, angry all the time, no jobs, no desire for one. Video games, Tim Horton’s and beer on cheque day……… is all they live for.Report