The Gold Star

Vers L'An 2000It took one of my Facebook friends to introduce me, albeit indirectly, to a term I surprisingly never encountered before even though it’s been around for a long while, according to the Urban Dictionary website: Gold-Star Gay or Gold-Star Lesbian.

In case you’re in the dark as much as I was, it means a gay guy or a lesbian who has never slept with someone of the opposite sex. There’s some debate about how and why this term should be retired, but I don’t really care about that even if maybe I should. The point that captured my imagination was affixing a term to my own status, for yes, I am most definitely a Gold Star Gay.

It doesn’t happen as much these days, but I remember being asked many times when I was younger if I’d ever “been with” a woman. And when I would be asked that back in the ’80s and ’90s by a straight person, it was often followed with a “How do you know for sure?” after I’d replied that I hadn’t. So, while I was unknowingly identifying as a Gold Star Gay, I had no clever comeback for them other than to ask them the same question in return.

According to user jw4444 on YouTube, the guy in the picture at the top of this post is “Alan Wells (hand drums) [who] returned to his hometown Halifax [after the musical group Syrinx broke up around 1972] but died in 2010.

The fact is that I can think way back into my childhood and recall how I was always attracted to guys. I didn’t really understand it; how could a 6- or 7-year-old “get it”? I think in my young kid’s head, that attraction translated into a kind of aspiration of what I hoped to become as a grown up.

* * * * * * *

When I was about 6 or 7 — that would be around 1972 — there was a show on Radio-Canada called Vers l’An 2000, which would roughly translate to “Circa 2000.” I only recently found out that its (original) English equivalent was aired on the then-new CTV network under the less aptly named Here Come the Seventies. The show was meant to look into what the near future would look like, although the year 2000 for a 7-year-old in 1972 didn’t seem that near at all, not to mention a little bit scary.

A few times in the last few years I tried to find the show’s musical theme, but searches on “Vers l’An 2000” were always in vain. I remember being able to hear the tone of that theme (although not the exact melody). Moreover, I think what subconsciously motivated my search was this vague memory of how it oddly excited me as a kid. I also remember the kid in me being utterly confused by this show, for how could they be filming something that hadn’t happened yet?

Then, when someone on the “Montreal Then and Now” Facebook group posted the following clip, I felt my stomach drop a little at the last sequence of images. The image at the top of this post is a screen capture of that sequence, and that’s the image that shocked me. (By the way, I translated the cheesy voiceover below for those of you who don’t understand French.)

On the road toward tomorrow :
First, the shock of the future;
Then, where are we going?
When will we arrive?
Two-kilometre-high cities programmed for Man…
Travelling in vacuum tunnels or floating vehicles…
Laboratories in space…
Unimaginable clothing…
And finally, jet-pack belts :
It’s already tomorrow.

I had forgotten that closing sequence. But when I saw it again some 45 years later, the now-adult me recalled my attraction — that kind of tickling in the stomach — to whom I’ve just learned is a Haligonian named Alan Wells who passed away six years ago.

My rediscovery of this theme came just as I learned the term “Gold Star Gay.” And, odd as it is, this rediscovery now serves as an answer to the question, “Have you always known that you’re gay?” I just hope that Alan, may he rest in peace, wouldn’t be offended.

Same Piece, Better Sound Quality


Big Ass TV!I used not to be much of a TV watcher. In fact, I went through the ’80s and half the ’90s without watching TV at all. But last Boxing Day, while La Chelita was visiting, I spent my Christmas gift from my mother to subsidize the purchase of a new TV. I went from a tiny TV with no cable, to a tiny TV with cable two years ago, to finally a big ass TV like this one.

Before heading to the store, we found online a 36-inch screen at the right price, but it couldn’t be had once we got to the store. But, for a mere $30 extra, I was able to buy a 42-inch screen. I couldn’t refuse: an extra 6 inches for only $30! And for the remaining week of her visit, I would occasionally declare loudly out of nowhere, “Chelita! There’s a big ass TV in my living room!!!”

Am I watching more TV as a result? Well, let’s just say I get sucked into the stupidest shows whenever I want to put the brain on tilt — like world’s fattest dad or mom, world’s tallest teenager, or buying a house in Montevideo. However, there are times when I come across stuff that, after watching it, I feel I’ve actually learned something.

For instance, one night on ARTV, there was this documentary about the history of movie censorship in Québec. The most important film distributor (and eventually producer) in Montréal from the 1930s to 1950s was a man by the name of Alexandre de Sève. Turns out he was a big-time enforcer of state censorship in the city’s cinemas, and by the early ’60s, with television taking a bite out of movie-going, he founded Télé Métropole, which is known today as the TVA network. But the reason why I felt I had a mildly edifying moment is that, in the heart of the Village, there’s a street named Rue Alexandre-de-Sève. And, indeed, on that street between De Maisonneuve and Ste-Catherine, is located the headquarters of TVA.

As it happens, the nerd in me loves finding out how city streets got their name. Sometimes, changing the name of a street can cause a lot of hoopla, like when the City of Montréal suggested changing Avenue du Parc to Avenue Robert Bourassa in honour of the late, multi-term Liberal premier of Québec in the ’70s and ’80s. The clamour against the proposed change was such that the city backed down. Yet, Dorchester, one of the main thoroughfares in downtown Montréal, was quite easily changed to Boulevard René Lévesque shortly after that premier’s death, …except for the portion in the tony (anglo) enclave of Westmount, which of course remains Dorchester since its residents and politicians would sooner die than rename a street after a sovereignist premier.

At any rate, it didn’t take me much poking around to find that the city of Montréal has a searchable online directory of street names. The estranged hubbie used to be driven crazy by how so many streets here are named after saints, but that’s just a reflection of how the Catholic church literally controlled Québec society up until La Révolution Tranquille of the 1960s. This irk he felt struck me as odd, coming from someone from the land of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, whom everybody knows must be respected and revered or else be accused of somehow holding deep contempt towards Mexicans. But that’s a whole different ball of wax worthy of an entirely separate post.

For now, I’m just enjoying me some big ass stupidifier that occasionally offers a few nuggets of interesting information, albeit trivial.

Manitoba Stormin’

There have been powerful, destructive tornadoes for two days in a row in Manitoba.

I spent the whole evening going through the video clips at Those storm chasers are completely nuts …but at the same time, I can understand what’s drawing them.

You see, I love thunderstorms. And extreme weather fascinates me. But having experienced a Category 2 hurricane in a place where such storms are uncommon, I have to say that tornadoes are one type of extreme weather I never want to see up close. They are so frighteningly absolute in their destructiveness.

Tornadoes are more likely to occur in the Great Plains of the U.S. and the Canadian Prairies, although much of the eastern U.S. and southern Ontario are prone as well. But perhaps what struck me the most in those videos is the stark beauty of the plains/prairies. The towns and cities look depressing to me, but oh, that open sky and those lush fields! And that’s coming from someone who has always lived near the ocean and probably couldn’t stand being landlocked for very long.

I Remember It Well

March 31, 1998, fell on a Tuesday. I used to teach on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings. But that’s not why I remember it so well; it’s because I remember the weather record that was shattered in Halifax: fuelled by a strong El Niño, the temperature that day went up to 25C when the seasonal average at that time is 6C. Also, 1998 was the first of two consecutive years when the leaves on the trees were completely out a full three-and-a-half weeks earlier than usual.

The “real” winter started very late here this year. It only started at the end of January. But notwithstanding a few exceptions, it’s been below zero or just marginally above zero every day since. That gets to me after a while.

Hyper[text] Reading

I have always been interested in trivia. As a consequence, as a reader, one notion I read on a page can trigger questions about completely unrelated matters. Before the Web, it was unlikely I would pursue the questioning very far, but with the Web making everything just one click away, I do. Hence I can start reading about Topic A, and 5 hours later I can find myself reading about Topic R which not only has nothing to do with Topic A but also has brought me to forget what Topic A was, although the fact I’m a big-time users of tabs in Firefox can help me jog my memory.

While eating supper last night, I happened to catch another little bit of that impossibly bad, stretched out, multipart interview with Anna Nicole Smith on Entertainment Tonight. Truth is, Anna Nicole Smith is someone about whom I have never before given a second’s thought. But something about how she comes across in this interview intrigued me: she looks like a plastic doll whose perfection renders her extremely unattractive (in my eyes), plus she strikes me as incredibly strung out and sedated if not simply a spectacularly stunned effort.

I turned off the TV and began wondering what’s all the fuss about Anna Nicole Smith since, as I mentioned, I never before gave the woman a second thought …so I went online and looked her up to satisfy my new curiosity about what all the fuss is about and if or why I should give a heck. Within minutes, I found myself on Wikipedia. For me, though, that’s an invitation to get off topic really quickly.

  • While married to her second husband who was more than 60 years her senior, she had numerous love interests including Scott Baio, whom I didn’t know is a staunch conservative Republican.
  • During her modelling career, she capitalized on her strong resemblance to Jayne Mansfield.
  • Jayne Mansfield was killed in a car crash in June 1967 on U.S. Highway 90.
  • United States numbered highways, the precursor of the American interstate, were conceived in the 1920s and follow a relatively logical pattern in terms of how they’re numbered.
  • The fabled U.S. Highway 66 has long ago been decommissioned and largely replaced by Interstate 40, although many of the states through which 66 went through keep its memory alive as State Highways bearing the same number.
  • The idea of the U.S. interstate system was brought forth exactly 50 years ago this year by President Eisenhower. The system was supposed to take 12 years to complete but in the end took 35 years, and some roads, like I-95 that spans the entire east coast, remain technically unfinished.
  • Eisenhower appreciated what Germany was doing with its autobahn system, now known world-wide as a freeway system on which there’s no speed limit.
  • Speed limits…

Okay, you get the picture.

No, I didn’t just “discover” how one can get lost reading on the Web. And you didn’t just “discover” that I’m ecclectic and nerdy, as manifested, for instance, by my nearly obsessive number-crunching propensities with regard to proportional representation. However, what I find fascinating is that when I least expect it, little bits of what I read last night will come back to me in context during some discussion or another. Sometimes we can mistakenly believe that some notion or event is a “first-of” or has been around forever (due largely to the fact it already existed when we were born). Often, when we look beyond the current-day artifice, we can often trace parallels that remind us of the extent to which humans do seem fated to repeating their own history. Yet at the same time, in other instances, we can see more clearly where significant shifts have occurred over a relatively short period of time.

Some things seem to change a lot on the surface but don’t really change that much. Other things don’t change a lot but that minute change has a far great impact. Hence, in my mind, what might seem like trivia on the surface might not be so trivial after all.