Zen & The Art of Pool Maintenance

Mur Friday Files Banner.pngThere are nights, mercifully not every night, when you just can’t shut down your engines. Some nights it’s your mind that’s racing, other nights it’s your body that just won’t get comfortable in a prone position..

For me tonight it’s a a little of both, featuring a cramp in my right foot that just won’t go away until I’m too tired to let it keep bothering me. So I have to walk it into submission. But I can’t get back into bed for a while. It’s almost as if I have to keep doing something so that my foot forgets that it’s being ornery tonight and calms down.

So I wander around the empty house. My wife is on some breakneck tour of terrorist dodging in Europe with her BFF, my sister. They are seasoned travelers those two. They need very little in the way of provocation to organize a road trip. For a day, a weekend or a marathon 19 day excursion to Castles ‘R Us.

I don’t travel much any more. I did more than my share back in the day as a photographer. Now I will only go to places where I can bring a good chunk of my stuff and settle in for a week, and hang out by the pool or the lake.

In point of fact we bought the house we bought here in St Catharines because it reminded us of some of the nicer cottages we have rented.

There’s a strangeness about being alone in your house for what has been a full two weeks now, with three more days to go. One of the things I have done is put everything I use on the counters in the bathroom and the kitchen. This is something that would never happen when both of us are here. And the weirdest thing is that I am all for it at that time. But on my own I’m a bit lazy about shit like reaching into drawers to get stuff out or put stuff back.

Another thing I do is eat at odd times, and when my wife is not around I tend to gravitate to meals that are easy to make like burgers and hot dogs and nachos, or meals that can produce leftovers, like Chinese, pizza and pastas.

The nutritional value of this stuff is pretty abysmal. But I rationalize it by pointing out to myself that I am on a holiday as well. A stay-cation of sorts, with pool maintenance and creative work to do.

The Big Zen

That’s the other thing about living in your dream cottage. Pool maintenance.

The pool pump needs to run for at least 12 hours a day, according to Rob the Pool Guy. Somebody has to turn it on and turn it off.

That same somebody has to make sure that the leaves are skimmed off the surface, otherwise they will decay and sink to the bottom and some of them will stain the pool liner. It’s very unsightly.

Also the filter basket needs to be emptied every day, or else it will over fill and clog, meaning big bucks for repairs.

And of course the pool cover needs to be rolled out every night so the temperature of the water doesn’t get crazy cold, and you don’t have to use a hundred bucks worth of propane to get it back up to a temperature that doesn’t give you frostbite when you get in to do your lengths.

Once you see the algae building up, (And yes, I can see that) you have prepare the shock treatment, dilute it in a bucket, and pour it in so it catches the current of the pool and distributes itself equally.

After 24 hours, you throw in the Pool Shark, this is an amazing little gizmo that’s kind of like a Roomba for pools. The net result is that you get to look into a crystal clear pool and think. Wow, I made that happen.

There aren’t many things in life that have given me the sense of satisfaction that taking care of this pool gives me.

I do some of my very best thinking when I am engaged in the myriad of activities that pool maintenance entails.

I was a little concerned about it when we first moved in. It kind of felt like a bit of an albatross. But my sister hipped me to the zen thing. She doesn’t have a pool, but she’s great friends with her next door neighbours who do, and she says she often goes over and does some maintenance, just for the zen.

I thought that was amusing, until we got the pool set up in the early summer and I had to start learning how to do all this stuff. Then I understood.

The Zen Contagion

A few of the people who know me best have told me that my writing has changed since I have moved here, that it’s not as urgent or cynical. And I can’t disagree.

But sitting here tonight and thinking about it, I can safely conclude that the pool and its care and feeling, definitely has something to do with it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could take that same zen-like attitude and apply it everywhere? Maybe that’s what’s happening and I’m just starting to become one with it. Who knows?

Peace out…Mur

Jim w Camera

Jim Murray is a marketer, communication strategist, writer, art director and blogger. His partner, Charlene Norman is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, headquartered in St Catharines, Ontario. Bullet Proof is designed to help companies change their thinking for the better, to become more productive, efficient, better branded and successful in today’s highly competitive business world. You can get a very clear impression of how we think by reading our business blogs at http://www.bulletproofconsulting.ca/blog

All content & graphics Copyright 2017 Onwords & Upwords Inc. All rights reserved.



Charlottesville…Hopefully the Wake Up Call America Needed.


I came home from a networking event last night. My wife, Heather, was down in the family room watching CNN. She looked at me with eyes that had been crying and told me that she had been watching some news stories about the domestic terrorism that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia on the weekend.

My wife is one of the best and most human people I know. I am very lucky to have her. But she has been around the block a few times, and what she had seen rocked her, as I’m sure it did many of us, right to her core.

We talked about it a bit, but there was very little I could say other than to express my hope that the widespread coverage of these horrendous events and the complete absence of any sincere condemnation by the so called president would be the wake-up call that the country needed to start the process of getting rid of this racist, fascist regime, and replacing it with something much more “American”.

I have been, in my own way, contributing to the resistance movement in the US. Because as someone who grew up right next to and in Buffalo New York I have a deep love for that country and a deep concern with what is going on down there.

It’s easy to put this all on Trump. He’s such a big target. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Trump is just the manifestation of a great divide between the left and the right in America that probably can trace its origins back to the 1950s, and has been growing ever since.

Today’s America is chronically dysfunctional, because this political divide has turned into a battleground. Nobody listens to anyone who doesn’t share their point of view. And nobody really seems to want to.

But this weekend, IMHO, a group of disgruntled, ignorant, bigoted white guys carrying Nazi and Confederate flags and armed to the teeth, constructed a narrow bridge between this ideological divide.

And it is my most sincere hope that this can be built into a turning point where the left and the right can find some common ground and come to the realization that the only way to get things back into some semblance of control in their country is to unite around common causes, and start talking to and listening to one another again.

I wrote this poem this morning as kind of a prayer and a hope.

Because I don’t want to lose hope, and I don’t want anyone who wants this world to be a great place for humans to live to ever give up hope.

Because contrary to what a lot of people might think…hope is, indeed, a strategy. And these days it’s possibly the best one we have.

Promise to The SunJim Murray is a marketer, communication strategist, writer, art director and blogger. His partner, Charlene Norman is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, headquartered in St Catharines, Ontario. Bullet Proof is designed to help companies change their thinking for the better, to become more productive, efficient better branded and successful in today’s highly competitive business world. You can get a very clear impression of how we think by reading our business blogs at www.bulletproofconsulting.ca/blog

Jim w Camera


Content Marketing…Let’s Suppose, For A Few Minutes, That It’s All Bullshit.

The ‘Content Marketing Is Bullshit’ Hypothesis

no_bullshit_sign_by_topher147-d8aphr7This is not just my opinion. But a reflection of a whole school of thought on this issue.

What if it turns out that content creation through many forms of social and business media is just a well planned and well executed conspiracy for sites that run on content to obtain tons of it for free? I’m not saying that this is the case. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that it is.

Here’s a scenario for you to chew on.

Let’s say I was somebody who owned a big content based site….like LinkedIn. What would then be my course of action if I wanted to get my slice of this freshly baked bullshit content marketing pie?

1. Hire a writer/strategist to come up with a bunch of well reasoned crap about how content is the new key to reaching and creating customer engagement, because
a) The customer has changed in terms of how they perceive traditional advertising, ie, let’s say, they no longer trust it, and…
b) This change means the old methods are no longer valid or at the very least can’t be counted on, so….
c) Anybody who wants to effectively reach their customers, or at least have a chance of reaching them, needs to start cranking out the content.

This content needs to demonstrate and dimensionalize expertise, make cogent arguments for your product or service vs your competition, and tell stories about how much your customers love you, how you go about making whatever it is you make, and how your employees are all fine upstanding citizens of the world.

Of course, none of this is quantifiable and we’re not actually selling it directly. We’re selling it to the digital marketing community and positioning it as a way for them to make big bucks by taking their clients into this brave new world at a tidy monthly fee-based remuneration.

2. Don’t forget to mention that this applies equally to B to B and B to C customers as well, because we really don’t want to close any doors by being selective about how we run this con.

3. Make sure that everybody out there running a major content dependent site understands what’s going on …so send them a copy of our rules so we’re all reading from the same playbook.

4. Support the digital marketers by keeping any promotion simple and vague. Promise without promising. Threaten without being menacing. Lure without showing anyone the actual worm on the hook.

Badda boom. Badda bing. In four relatively easy steps you have re-positioned the entire advertising business, and by re-positioned I mean, made it seem archaic and irrelevant.

Now all that’s left to do is the PR job that will separate the ‘old school’ advertising and marketing from new world of digital Untitledstuff.

And if we do it right, nobody will even notice that their effective reach has been diminished to an ungodly degree, and the amount of work they actually have to do to maintain this pathetic ROI has increased to an ungodly degree as well.

Yeah…that should get the content flowing just fine, and we’ll be happy to publish it and offer you all kinds of other stuff that will make you the kings of your universe, fully engaged with all kinds of people who have fallen madly in love with you thanks to the wonderfulness of your content. All 16 tons a month of it.

Why It’s Hard To Spot The Bullshit

social-media-logosMost of us are involved in many forms of social media and probably have been for quite some time. It’s innocent enough: we post pictures and talk about our lives and chat with old friends etc. But all the while, we are simply being trained to be good providers of free content to these sites.

It makes us feel good and it almost totally removes the burden from these sites to provide their own content. It also gives these sites a great sales pitch to advertisers who have also been bullshitted into believing that these are the places they need to be in the 21st century.

It’s all so elegant and innocent and people-focused that the last thing you would want to believe is that it’s some sort of big fat scam.

Las Vegas Comes To Mind

The thing about stepping up and voluntarily becoming a provider of content in this hypothetical gargantuan bullshit scheme is something that Vegas casinos call House Rules.

This means that no matter how skillful your efforts, and how diligent you are about tossing good content onto the table, your actual chances of winning are relatively miniscule. Probably about 1% if you’re lucky.

j0289350Sure it happens. I mean you have to have to have something to show for all your effort. But the big wins are few and far between, and frankly most of them are either in the digital realm already or, ironically, by brands who have the benefit of strong ‘old school’ marketing support.

If you are a small company, you become your own perpetual motion machine. This is fine if you’re a real writer, because you write all the time anyway. But if you’re not, it can very quickly become one of those things you hate doing. And as that hatred takes root in your brain, you do less and less and fall further and further behind the curve. And your precious 1% starts to shrink.

If you’re a big company, you have to pay big bucks to keep to this content flowing. And the digital marketer you hired to manage all this bullshit keeps chanting the mantra…”it’s a process, not an event.” But at some point you have to justify this expense to somebody, even if it’s just yourself. Hmmm. I have been in meetings where this has been challenged…it ain’t pretty.

The Reality That Nobody Talks About On Line

This is quite simple actually. Because the single most important thing about bullshit is that its a self-contained universe, that, in this case, has nothing to do with the real world.

The customer, the marketplace and just about everything else in the real world has not changed to anywhere near the extent that the digital marketing community would have you believe.

I was recently talking with an associate who is one of the smartest digital marketers I know, about what was important in the digital world and his answer was quite simple…SEO. The rest is all bullshit.

People still search for stuff the way they always have. Through search engines. That’s why the search engines are so big and generate tons of revenue. The social and business media sites are big too, but one could easily make the argument that they are not the land of milk and honey they would have you believe they are.

In order to understand that in a way you can relate to, just think for a few minutes about what all the effort you have been putting into content management has actually created for you.

Sure they tell you it’s a marathon. But how many people do you know can  actually run one of those and finish it?

At The End Of The Day, It’s Just Marketing

I’m a marketer and I know good marketing when I see it. And if you believe you can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, hey, why not? The digital world, like any other marketing world, is just working to establish itself in the long list of media choices that we have today.

And if you look back through the history of marketing, anything new that showed up was usually based on some sort of bullshit. At least until it proved itself. And if it didn’t…well it just didn’t get to exist for very long.

Hypothesis Complete

I hope you enjoyed this little romp into the world of ‘what if ‘ as much as I did writing it.

Just be careful going forward, because a lot of the promises being made in the digital world at this point time are not based on anything a sane and savvy marketer would call real evidence of performance.

Maybe they will some day. We live in hope.

Jim Murray is a marketer, communication strategist, writer, art director and blogger. His partner, Charlene Norman is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, headquartered in St Catharines, Ontario. Bullet Proof is designed to help companies change their thin king for the better, to become more productive, efficient better branded and successful in today’s highly competitive business world. You can get a very clear impression of how we think by reading our business blogs at www.bulletproofconsulting.ca/blog

Bulletproog Blog Sig

A Story About My Friend, Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

I have made a lot of friends over the years, in the advertising business, in my consulting business and on line as well.

One of the best online friends I have is a guy named Phil Friedman.
We met back on LinkedIn, before life went to hell for writers there when they stopped issuing notifications.

The thing I liked about Phil was the he was a real writer. There are a lot of people on social and business media sites who write. But relatively few who are real writers, and by this I mean writers who make their living transferring words and ideas from their heads into various forms of media and getting paid for doing it.

I am one of those people myself and I immediately recognized that Phil was the real deal.
As I followed his work, I also realized that not only was he an excellent writer, he was a real person of integrity, and by that I mean that he refused to suffer fools. You might even say that he was pugnacious in this regard, Really skillful writers don’t really fear too much and always welcome criticism, providing that it is well reasoned and actually makes a point.

The other thing that I came to realize was that he was using his writing to help other people with theirs. He would not just write articles about the boating industry, which is his main area of expertise, he would write about all kinds of other things.

In this regard, he and I were a lot alike. We both like the idea of giving back and using whatever skills and insights we have acquired along the way to advise people coming up on how to get better at writing or whatever their passion happens to be.

As our writer-to-writer relationship developed, we started chatting offline and decided that it might be fun to write something together. This was done mainly in the spirit of showing others with whom we were connected (in The Lumpy Kingdom at that time) another way to create solid posts.
So we started a collaborative series of posts which we call He Said He Said. To date, we have done 29 of these posts, which included an interview with Javier Rica, one of the founders of beBee.

We have had a lot of fun doing this, and don’t really see any end in sight for these columns. One of the reasons that these posts have attracted a substantial amount of views and engagement has to do with the fact that we do not edit them. We write them quickly so as to simulate, as closely as possible, a real time conversation.

But the thing that really makes it work, is the respect we have for each other as professionals.

And this brings me to the bigger point. Over the three years or so that I have known Phil and followed his writing, I have noticed that he has picked up more than his share of assholes (aka trolls), somehow seem intent on denigrating whatever ideas he is communicating in his posts.

I have picked up my share of them, as I’m sure most of us have, but Phil’s trolls are a little different, in that they don’t come and go like most trolls do. They stick around. They are like irritating little mosquitoes in your tent. They buzz and buzz, actually saying nothing of consequence, but their persistence can be both really irritating and, in a way, detrimental to your posts.

Phil’s trolls tend to have a holier-than-thou attitude. It comes across as a strange form of jealousy. But sadly for these trolls, they are not the intellectual equal of Phil. And though Phil always tries to be respectful, the constant badgering that these clowns do, will eventually get to anybody. So Phil lashes back at them. And while it makes for an interesting albeit weird comment stream, it really does tend to be a distraction.

After we both moved to beBee, the trolling continued for Phil and he had no recourse but to start complaining to Javier about it.

Sadly, the upshot of all this was that Phil, who is arguably the most popular English language blogger on beBee, was demoted from his brand ambassador status, and his two trolls were banned from the site. (IMHO, tossing the baby out with the bath water).

But then about a month later, one of them was back under a modified name. I’m sad to report that this guy is Canadian (definitely atypical), and seemed to have a rather unnatural attraction to Phil. He believed that Phil was a fraud. Which of course made him a crazy. This same guy also believed that I was too bitter and twisted and that my personal brand was fucked beyond repair, which, of course made him a pompous ass, especially when he had no personal brand of his own to speak of, wrote very few posts and spent most of his time trolling Phil full time and me occasionally.

Last night I got a Beezermail from Phil, (the Beezers are myself, Phil, Don 🐝 Kerr and Kevin Pashuk ), with a link to Phil’s latest post where he outlined his brilliant boat in a box idea.

The comment stream on this post was polluted by a couple of people one of whom was Phil’s pet Canadian troll and the other was from some guy in New Zealand, whose comments on both Phil’s and my posts are starting to show signs of ‘trollness’.

Fortunately, Javier has been following this and caught it. I admire the generosity of Javier in giving Phil’s troll a second chance, but when the showed up again, I let Javier know that it would probably be just a matter of a couple of weeks until he reverted to form and would have to be banned again.

Sure as hell, that’s what happened.

Why I Wrote This Post

I wrote this post so that people could really understand that Phil is not a drama queen of any sort. He is a damn good writer. He’s a really smart marketing person and knows, probably better than anybody I have ever met, how to create positive engagement on social media sites.

He has never, to my knowledge, attacked anyone. But he has had a steady stream of attackers over the years. I for one, admire the skill with which he deals with them.
The quality of Phil’s writing and the integrity he consistently shows is something we could all file under good role models to have.

Social media tends, in its way, to reflect the real world. The real world is becoming a more lawless place than it has been in my recent memory. It’s my hope that this lawlessness and chaos does not find its way here in any way that damages this site or victimizes anyone who belongs to it.

We need civility more than ever these days. And we need people like Phil, who have great ideas, communicate them extremely well and engage people in a positive way.


Jim Murray is a communication strategist, writer, art director, blogger and beBee brand ambassador for Canada. Charlene Norman, Jim’s partner In crime, is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, located in St Catharines, Ontario and designed to serve forward thinking businesses in the Niagara and Golden Horseshoe regions of Southern Ontario. Web site coming soon.


Bullet Proof. The Ideal Alignment Of Business Organization & Communication


One of the first business people I met after moving from Toronto to St. Catharines last December was a lady named Charlene Norman, who had also moved here from Toronto about 9 months earlier.
I came here with a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with my business, and as it turns out, the fates were kind, Charlene was the exact person I was looking to be associated with.
Charlene is an ex-corporate executive with an amazing track record of business building and management. She came here with the same objective in mind as I had, which was to work with some of the larger businesses in the Niagara area, which was anywhere from Buffalo NY to Hamilton & Burlington.
After a couple of long meetings, we evolved the idea of an association. Not a contractual business partnership, but very much a team effort, designed to help businesses from the organizational, marketing and communications points of view.
Our aims were relatively simple.
1. To work with companies to identify both pain points and opportunities.
2. To correct the pain points through an easy to implement and maintain methodology that Charlene had developed and used in her corporate life, to organize and or re-organize as the case might be.
3. To create and manage going forward communications.
4. To access and use the wealth of excellent support services that exist here in the Niagara region.
5. To provide these services at affordable rates.
Charlene is one of the brightest business people I have met in a long time. She has an approach to business that is simple and uncluttered, but deadly accurate in terms of dealing with issues that may be holding companies back.
My experience with branding, marketing, and communications means that everything we create for our clients will be well thought out, easy to implement and accurate in its execution.
It is exactly the one-two punch I envisioned when I moved into this market.
Time, of course, will tell, just how well-received this will be. But, at the moment, we are both extremely optimistic.





Writing. It’s Like Heroin Without Any of The Downsides

Writing About Wrting Banner

“There’s no mystery to it and it’s not a technical trick.The scheme is for real….you can manufacture faith from nothing and there are an infinite number of patterns and lines that connect from key to key – all deceptively simple. You gain power from the least amount of effort, trust that the listeners make their own connections, and it’s very seldom that they don’t.”

Bob Dylan, Chronicles Vol 1

In this passage in Bob’s autobiography, he is talking about a musical style that he learned and was about to start using as part of his playing and singing style.
This is very much about music: the structuring of melodies, and marrying them to lyrics to create songs. But while I was reading it, I started to realize that this same concept, of gaining power from the least amount of effort, was something that had strong applicability to virtually any type of writing.
And if you think about the different writers you read regularly, it’s quite possible that they are employing this same concept.

“I don’t know why the number 3 is more metaphysically powerful than the number 2 but it is.”

Bob Dylan, Chronicles Vol 1

Back in the day when I wrote a lot of print advertising, one of the things I used to do as part of my approach to whatever I had to write, was to imagine every ad to be a sort of three-act play.
In Act One, you introduce the product through a situation that was usually some sort of problem the product you were writing about could solve.
j0284915 copyIn Act Two, you introduce the product and explain more or less how it works to solve the problem you set up in Act One.
In Act Three, you confidently make the assumption that you have done a good job in Acts One and Two and basically wrap things up by asking for the sale.
This rule would apply to pretty much everything you did: a TV spot, radio commercial, brochure or product video. (That’s sort of all we had back then).
In today’s world of Content Allegedly Being King, you find that ads are now longer format posts or blog posts. But, believe it or not, in most cases where these pieces are being created to sell something, the structure is basically the same. The depth of sale opportunity is greater but the logic of the selling argument is eternal.

“A song is like a dream you try to make come true. They are like strange countries that you have to enter.”

Bob Dylan, Chronicles Vol 1

I don’t know about you, but I hardly ever just sit down and start writing. Not without an idea that at the very lease illuminates and defines Act One of the process.
Once an idea occurs to me, I think about it for quite a while (several hours), while I am doing other things. That’s the great thing about ideas. They are extremely portable and very light.
When I was younger, there was a front end to this process in that I would think about a lot of ideas and jot a lot of them down, for fear of forgetting them, and then pick one. This was similar to my photography when I would shoot a lot of different things and end up with just one or two that I thought, yeah, these are OK.
These days, and maybe it has something to do with accumulated insight, I stumble on an idea, like I did reading Bob’s autobiography, and that idea becomes a bit of a temporary obsession.
I explore all the ways I can get to Act 2 and 3, eliminate the stupid shit and end up with a pretty clear picture in my head of how to take it from one end to the other.

“One line brings up another like when your left foot steps forward and your right foot drags up to it.”

Bob Dylan, Chronicles Vol 1

Because you have thought through the process and structure or creating the piece the actual writing is more like a gestalt, where you get to spew it all forth.
j0309621It may come out a little rough, but that doesn’t matter if the idea is sound and thought through. You can always fix it, tighten the bolts, lubricate the joints, add tangential thoughts that support the premise, and generally have a good time doing it.
But all the time, you are moving forward. The pony is sashaying or trotting or galloping depending on your preference and the speed at which you like to work.
I generally spend about 30 to 45 minutes writing on each op ed or insight piece I create. But I never measure the amount of time I spend molding the idea. It would be hours, days or even weeks, depending on the idea.

Why I Wrote This

A lot of people think that the stuff I write sounds very spontaneous, like a stream of consciousness rant. So I guess I wanted to let you know that this isn’t true. That there is a method to every bit of madness that I tap out here.
It is all thought through. It is all well planned. And most of the time I hope it’s well executed. But all the time it’s fun] for me to write.
There is a certain amount of addiction involved in anything you like to do and that gives you joy. I am a writing junkie.
I write all kinds of things.
In fact two days ago I unearthed the the opening salvo for a novella I want to write. It’s called Smith and it’s about a guy who learns to become a professional killer.
At least once a week I sit down and blow out an idea I have for a lyric and add it to my catalogue. Then I send it out to several composers I know to see if it turns their cranks.This week I am in the middle of writing a credentials package for an association I am starting with my friend and associate, Charlene Norman, who is one of the smartest business analysts I have ever met and who wants to get involved with some of the larger businesses in this area.
The long and short of it is that you can’t do all this unless you are at the very least, mildly addicted to the idea of doing it, and have developed your abilities to actually do it well.
I genuinely believe that the addiction defines the difference between those who write and those who make a career out of writing.
Which one are you?

Salient Points

Me & Bob

• Think before you start writing.
• Decide on a structure. A three act play or whatever works for you.
• Just have fun.
• Don’t fear becoming addicted to writing. You will not die, it’s not poison.

If your business has reached the point where talking to an experienced  communication professional would be the preferred option to banging your head against the wall or whatever, lets talk.

Download my free ebook Small Business Communication For The Real World here:
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All content Copyright 2017 Jim Murray Onwords & Upwords Inc.

Crimes of Ignorance Part 1: Gay & Transgender Discrimination

The first gay person I ever knew was a guy named Donny Marks. He lived down the street from me in Fort Erie and he and my mother were really good friends.
Donny was a kind, gentle soul. He worked in an office somewhere and was obviously successful because he dressed really well and drove a red 1957 Chevy BelAir convertible, which he kept in pristine condition and was considered to be the coolest car in town.
When I was a kid in the fifties, we didn’t know anything about gay people. In fact, it wasn’t until many years later that I found out that Donny was gay. I never saw him with another man. But he did travel to Buffalo a lot. Sometimes he would even give me and my pal Jim DeBeau a ride to the downtown bus station billiard hall, where we would relieve unsuspecting Americans of their currency playing eight ball.
Donny’s sexual orientation was never a point of discussion with me and my friends. He was always just considered a happy bachelor, the kind of life that many of us would have wished for ourselves.
I guess I should have known something was up with Donny, because he had effeminate hand gestures and genuine lilt to his voice. But back then we didn’t really have a concept of gay, even though there were some incidents here and there. We just wrote them off as gossip.
The bottom line is that I grew up with no anti-gay predisposition, and so as I got older and started encountering openly gay people, it never occurred to me to hate or fear them. In my mind, they were all just variations on Donny Marks. And there was nothing wrong with that.

Cut To Today

Homophobia abounds in today’s world. And you can trace the roots of most of it back to the Bible, or should I say, a certain interpretation of certain parts of the Bible, that very much appear to make homosexuality some sort of heinous sin.
All over the world, gay and transgender people are being discriminated against, terrorized and in a number of countries even imprisoned or put to death simply for loving a person of the same gender.
I don’t understand this, because in point of fact, being gay or being a transgender person isn’t really a choice that you make in life. It’s very much a part of your genetic situation.
But for a roll of the genetic dice, any of us could be gay or lesbian or transgender. It’s all a crapshoot, and so to discriminate or hate or resent a person for being that way is really the height of ignorance in many societies, including our own.
Somehow a lot of misinformation about gay and transgender states of being has found its way into the laws of various lands. This is mostly the work of religious bigots and politicians who are using a highly questionable source (the Bible) as the basis for the opinions they form about people who are not classically heterosexual.
In point of fact, it’s really quite possible that we all possess the ability to become attracted to someone of the same gender, just as we all wonder from time to time, what it would be like to be a woman if we are a man and vice versa.

At The End Of The Day

There is only one reality. And that is based on what we know and can prove scientifically about how we are made.
Our genetic code is unique to us, and if we have a gene or two that predisposes us toward a certain type of behavior: sexual, emotional, criminal, intellectual, or physical, it’s way too simplistic to write that off to choices that we make.
Only terribly ignorant and bigoted people do this sort of thing.
By the same token, you might argue that these bigots could be genetically disposed to behaving that way, although many psychologists believe that bigotry and hatred are ‘learned’ behaviors and mostly confined to the weak-minded.

Donny Marks Was A Good Human Being

Donny was always kind and good and generous to people. I can’t imagine how very hard it must have been for him to be the way he was, because back then, when gay people were all very much ‘in the closet’.
Gay and transgender people have come a long way in terms of coming out and being accepted by a great many in our society in Canada and in many other progressive countries.
But, as we can clearly see, gay and transgender discrimination and persecution still runs rampant, in the US and in many countries around the world run by right wing governments and the bigots who empower them.
These people, I am sad to say have yet to enter even the 20th century let alone the 21st, in their thinking.
My sister calls this a symptom of the last dying gasp of the bigoted old white guys.
And I really can’t disagree. And frankly, I can hardly wait for them to all die out.

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