Incognito Press

truth. knowledge. freedom. passion. courage. Promoting free-thinking, activism & rogue writing.

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2015 In Review

Posted by E on January 28, 2016

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Happy New Year!

Posted by E on September 14, 2012

Just want to take a moment to wish all friends near and far a Shana Tova for the New Year of 5773!

I’ve been pretty negligent about updating the site, but I’m swamped in projects and I’m a terrible multi-tasker.

I’m working on a new book, plus have a part-time gig I have to take care of on top of the usual editing, etc projects I’m working on. It’s a pretty hectic time, but I welcome the extra cash so I’ll stop complaining 😉

Anyway, all this to say that even though I’m not a frequent poster, I’m here for your comments and I check my email daily, so feel free to drop me a line. Will be offline for the next few days, however.

Have a great holiday, everyone! And eat lots of sweets 🙂

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Back from vacation

Posted by E on August 6, 2012

Ok, so I’m back from taking a week off to travel to New England with my partner, who had a business thing to attend in Boston. We were there about 3 days: the city is beautiful, its architecture making it probably the most beautiful city I’ve seen in the US so far, but the overarching rudeness I’ve witnessed makes it a place I wouldn’t choose to live. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where I got ragged on by a cab driver for not leaving a large enough tip. Anyway….

Afterwards we took the ferry over to Provincetown, where we stayed another 3 nights. It’s a place I always wanted to see, and finally get to check off my list (as much as it reminds me of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton). P-town was hot, dusty and crowded as hell, but once we ventured away from the craziness of Commercial Street (a more appropriate name never existed), I found the rugged beaches and sandy, grassy coves to be so beautiful. There’s something magnificent about seeing wild grass grow right through sand dunes and sway toward the water. I could sit by that water forever, despite the powerful undertow that threatens to pull even the most experienced swimmer away into the blissful vastness of the ocean.

This would be a great place to visit in September, I think – still warm and sunny, but without the throngs of screaming children and sweaty tourists (we had the great fortune of ending up there during Family Week).

So I’m sun-burned and a bit tired, but the thing I can’t shake off is how it feels like I’ve been gone so much longer than a week. And to be honest, I don’t think this vacation has made the slightest dent in how I’m feeling these days. All right, enough of being a downer. Before you know it, I’ll say something that will have to be password-protected again, so I’d better just stop here.

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An open letter to Rita Atria

Posted by E on July 26, 2012

This is a love letter to the sister I never had.

On July 26, 2012, the twentieth anniversary of your death, I want to say that I will never forget you, Rita. I want to shout your name from the rooftops, and hope that somewhere in the echoes that bounce back, you are still there. I want to say that even though I never met you, I will always consider you a sister of my heart. You are my shadow self – a firefly in the darkest sky, a girl who never grew to be a woman.

We were born 3 months apart in the latter half of the same year, in the same part of the continent. We were both loud, vivacious, black-haired, brown-eyed girls endowed with a penchant for mischief. You were born into a small village of Mafiosos and I was a street urchin seeking out a family among a group of hateful extremists who envisioned that they would one day rule the country.

We were both seventeen years old when we saw our “family” for what it really was and tried to get out. We were both seventeen when we began to compile information on the men who we had once trusted, looked up to, even loved. We were little girls who wanted to pretend that we were soldiers in a war greater than ourselves.

In the greater scheme of things, we were little children. Disobedient children who spied on our families and turned against men who had once held us close to them and called us “daughters.” We sat in open court and pointed to such men, denouncing them for the vile criminals that they were. You testified against the Cosa Nostra, men responsible for murdering your father. I testified against the Heritage Front and helped shut down Canada’s largest white supremacist organization, bankrolled and condoned by Canada’s Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

We both betrayed the only family that had ever embraced us.

I am you, Rita, and you are me. We are no more or less than any other teenage girl who wants to make a difference in her life, who wants a better world for her unborn children. We are every girl who lives in fear today, yet holds within her heart the flicker of hope that she will one day be counted. That someday she might make a difference.

We both know the seclusion of safe-houses, the anonymity of a new haircut and a bottle of scalp-burning dye. The unfamiliar utterance of a new name in our mouths. We know what it is like to have an entire world hate us and call us traitors. We know the words grown men have spoken after us, the threats and hits that were placed on our heads. And the truth, Rita, is that we were both children. We were idealists with hardly any concept in our minds of the ugliness of the world, of the seclusion and loneliness that would come.

When you’re in hiding the sky is always starless, muffled by an oppression of perpetually-low clouds. There’s only the stillness of empty apartments, where the silence of incalculable whitewashed walls closes in on you. After a while, the danger is no longer as relevant as walking to the window to tear apart the curtains, regardless of who might be lurking below. Because all you can say to yourself is, When the gunfire erupts I will not duck, I will not retreat.

I wish I’d met you, Rita. I wish that I could hold your hand and call you Sister. When you climbed over that balcony and flew down to your death, broken-hearted after the Mafia assassinated your only friend, magistrate Paolo Borsellino, convinced that nothing would ever change, a part of me was there with you. A part of me has always longed to take flight too.

Every year that passes since your passing, after the great snowfalls recede and give way to the delicate beauty of new growth in spring, I think of the shadows of us two – two teenage girls who wanted to make this ugly, senseless world a better place.

You live in me, Rita. And I will never forget you.

Posted in activism, beauty, cosa nostra, csis, family, freedom, history, identity, innocence, italy, letter, life, love, mafia, media, news, paolo borsellino, politics, revolution, rita atria, truth, Uncategorized, violence, war, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Starbucks: conscious promoter of social change, or consumer whore?

Posted by E on November 8, 2011

Yesterday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made international news with his announcement of Starbucks’ generous new approach to lifting the American economy from the gutter through their new “Create Jobs for USA” program: selling cheap wristband bracelets to help the poor.

Within a few hours, Twitterverse was buzzing with conscientious shoppers doing their part to help the poor. Instead of dropping a fiver into the empty cup held by that drunken bum at the corner, Manhattan fashionistas were walking away from Starbucks with a frappuccino and a piece of garbage elastic trinket around their wrist, feeling all the better for having done their social duty. Who would have thought helping the impoverished could be as sexy as a lattee-soaked biscotti? I mean, how better a way to celebrate having a job (and therefore, money) than buying a $5 lattee while thinking that you’re helping the unemployed?

The sweet irony here is that it’s Starbucks — Starbucks! the ONE company whose profits have not gone down during this recession, but way up — of all companies, to come forward with the whole “let’s help the poor without hurting our profit bottom line” idea, when, if you really think about it, they could help society all the better by donating one day’s worth of sales to any of a gazillion agencies helping the unemployed.

Methinks if Starbucks donated so much as ONE HOUR’s worth of total profits, the world would be a far better place. Instead, they come out with a marketing/advertising campaign designed to draw people inside their coffee shops — where hopefully they’ll buy more than a shitty nylon bracelet. But speaking of that shitty trinket, whose minuscule net profits (after marketing and production costs are deducted, understandably) will go toward some faceless unemployed schmuck in the hopes that he/she will soon raise back to their feet and revisit their neighbourhood Starbucks.

So yeah, let’s see this transformation from Starbucks-the-obscenely-priced-superchain to Starbucks-the-superhero-chain which single-handedly tackled the US jobless woes with a wristband and a cuppa java. Pretty ironic, ain’t it, for a monster company that has long been criticized for putting small coffee shops out of business.

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wrapping up some unfinished business

Posted by E on November 30, 2010

Soon I’ll be on my way to my old alma mater, Ottawa U, to take care of some business that I’ve been procrastinating about. Since I never contemplated the possibility of going back to school or enrolling in postgrad courses, I never bothered to change all my admin and degree paperwork. This kind of laziness does come back to bite you in the ass, however, if you’re ever inclined to enroll in any sort of program where they want to see your transcripts.

Since my official name change some years ago, all my new ID has come in except for the academic stuff. And of course the stupid university doesn’t have any other way of handling this sort of thing unless presented with all the original name-change paperwork AND a secret ID number – which you can’t obtain unless -again- you’re there in person. Pretty retarded policies, but tackling Ottawa’s bureaucracies is not something I am keen on doing — particularly since I’m not a francophone to begin with, which does tend to put you outside of the secretarial dept’s direct line of favours.
Ugh…..I have to remind myself that at some point, this trek back to the capital IS going to be worth it — especially if I gorge on beavertails in the Market and stock up on dozens of deep-fried samosas from herb & Spice. These factors alone make this journey so much more…apetizing 😛

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On Good Kids and Total Fucking Assholes (via Kate Harding)

Posted by E on October 12, 2010

I couldn’t have said it better myself, hence the reblog:

So, a week later, I'm still stuck on this one point. You know what's total bullshit? When two legal adults make and distribute a video of two other people engaging in sexual activity, without the knowledge or consent of those two other people, and then everyone falls all over themselves insisting that the first two legal adults are really good kids who would totally never hurt anyone! I mean, it's not like I'd really expect their lawyers to say a … Read More

via Kate Harding

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The best-looking Kindle cover, period.

Posted by E on September 9, 2010

Yesterday my anticipated Kindle cover arrived. (Yes, I know, I swore I’d stay away from ereaders forever, don’t remind me…) You wouldn’t believe how happy I was that I went with the fire/brick-red leather option instead of the boring and uber-safe black or dark brown options that a lot of people seem to be choosing.

So while I’m waiting for my back-ordered Kindle 3 to arrive, I’ve decided to post photos of the red cover – though something to keep in mind is that my iPhone camera kept trying to lighten it up automatically, so the thing itself is a deeper, richer red than it looks here.

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8 Things I Know

Posted by E on July 25, 2010

Thanks to Magpie Girl, I’m now inspired to answer this list of 8 things I know.

1. There is more to us than people are afraid to admit, or open themselves to.

2. When you want something badly enough and you persevere by pouring your entire heart, mind and passion into it, you WILL break through.

3. You can survive things you never imagined. You’re stronger than you think.

4. The act of NOT forgiving can sometimes liberate you more than anything else. There are things that simply cannot be forgiven, and acknowledging this does NOT make you an angry or bitter person, but an honest one.

5. That water CAN be thicker than blood, and you can make your own family when you don’t have one

6. That with an animal around, you are never truly alone…and can sometimes forge a stronger friendship than with a human being

7. That you have to take risks in order to grow, learn and understand. The only person who can tell you “No” is yourself.

8. It’s a tie! Between:
a) People like to put down what they don’t understand or are afraid of. And by NOT listening to their fears, you can achieve your greatest dreams.
b) That if someone doesn’t think you’re beautiful enough for them (insert: skinny enough, tall enough, blonde enough or dark enough, etc) they don’t really love you or themselves, and there will never be anyone good enough. Just walk away. You will be better for it.

Posted in philosophy, thoughts, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

On nourishing the best minds of our generation

Posted by E on July 22, 2010

Writer colonies, retreats, artist centres, whatever you call it, are intended to provide that all-too-elusive sense of belonging and recognition to writers who otherwise labour away in the seclusion of their own abodes and their own idiosyncracies and particular neuroticisms.
Coming up for a breath of fresh air, as in attending a colony and being able to create while at the same time surrounded by a whole bunch of other creative minds is invaluable. The colonies are more than just a place to eat, sleep and write — they might just lead to new friendships and new perspectives that can enhance our otherwise solitary work.

Luckily for US artists, the United States provides an abundance of colonies and fellowships one can apply for. Places that have been frequented by artists like Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Saul Bellow, Patricia Highsmith, Toni Morrison, etc. I could start rattling off the names of a whole lot of places, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, for something like 30-50 bucks and the cost of mailing in a portfolio, you can apply to attend artistic residences where all your accommodations, meals and board, etc, are completely covered up to 8 weeks.

We in Canada are not so lucky. Although arts councils are there to provide much-needed support to artists as they work on their projects, they don’t fund colonies or retreats, at least none that I know of. And all the ones I’ve checked, including the famous Banff Centre for the Arts, charge a hefty thousand bucks for five days of accommodations and meals….which, to be frank, who can afford unless they already have a day job, and therefore not exactly a full-time writer to begin with?
I witnessed something odd at the Humber Summer Workshop I attended (on a scholarship, thankfully!) two Julys ago: most of the participants were made up of middle-aged professionals, otherwise-known-as weekend warriors. Not to generalize, but what I’ve observed is that often those who can afford those expensive workshops are the same people who hardly have the time necessary to complete a full-length work, quality notwithstanding.

It’s a damn shame that we can’t offer as many possibilities as the US and other European nations provide their artists. People here bitch and moan every time funding gets cut at the individual level, but sometimes I think that perhaps if there was a place we could escape to for just a little while, where we wouldn’t have to worry about distractions, finances, etc — that it might be as useful as a big-ass cheque. And equally inspiring. Not that I’d be willing to trade my OAC and CAC funding, thank you very much 🙂 but still…. wouldn’t it be wonderful if such a place existed?

I know, going to a writers’ colony for a month is no guarantee that you can produce something substantial, but then again, neither does getting a huge chunk of money insure that a writer is able to commit to the page. But having said all that, the only place that I’ve found which subsidizes Canadian writers is Berton House in the Yukon, but you have to already have published at least one book to go there. And, well, it’s quite desolate and not exactly large enough to accommodate more than one or two persons at a time.

Sadly, even though financial assistance might be provided to one or two people per program, overall it seems that Canadian writing centres seem more geared toward weekend-type writers with large bank accounts than toward the younger or less affluent people who could most benefit from an opportunity to allow their brilliance to shine through. And in the end, through this insidious practice of cultural and financial elitism, everyone suffers.

Oh, I know — writing programs are basically lucrative cash cows that keep MFA grads and other senior writers employed, but at what cost? By excluding the talented in favour of the rich (though if you’re both, you’ve hit the jackpot!), how exactly does our culture advance?

One of my biggest dreams is to someday own a place where people can come and work on their projects, a place where all costs would be absorbed, and the artist is free only to create. But until I sell a crapload of books and maybe close a movie deal or two, this will remain a wishful dream.

Posted in art, beauty, canada, commentary, freedom, poetry, thoughts, Uncategorized, usa, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »