Cross Town with Carl Dow, Egbert and Jorge


Cross Town with Carl Dow

By Egbert! and By Jorge!

Carl Dow photo.No. These are not their real names.

Egbert is the name I plan to give to my pet elephant that I hope to get as soon as my spare room is fixed up to receive him with grace.

Jorge is a name I’ve pulled out of the sky, so to speak, because it’s the real first name of Pope Francis, who has a shady past, to say the least.

Egbert I’ve given as the name of an actor who lunged at me in anger after he had delivered a one-man show at an Ottawa theatre.

He opened his monologue by saying he would leave it up to the audience to judge his work.

I found his presentation distasteful. Not that he did a bad job of it but because of the subject matter. It was a story of men caught in a terrible trap and their degeneration because of it.

I thought the modestly talented actor could have better spent his creative energy on a story of men in jeopardy who fight hard and eventually win. His was a story of men whose humanity eventually dissolved under the proverbial extreme circumstance.

We see enough degradation and destruction, we don’t need a staged version.

Let the sun shine in. Face it with a grin. Open up your heart and let the sun shine in.

That’s one of my life standards.

Because of this I found the show repugnant. And taking the performer’s prompting for an audience reaction, I resorted to silent and, I thought, subtle body language to register my distaste.

I could have stood up and walked out, but I didn’t want to embarrass my companions.

When the performance was over, the actor came down off the stage in sound and manner of fury. He berated me for abusing him and threatened to throw me out and made a hostile motion toward me. However, he thought better of it as I stood my ground, and he fell back to insults.

My primary response was that in the Hay Day of the Bard, a disappointed or disapproving audience would have hurled rotten tomatoes and cabbages at the stage performers.

He should have considered himself lucky. After all I was just responding as he had challenged.

I’ve never seen him again.

And now to Jorge.

Jorge is a typist who has typed out and paid a printer to publish more books than any real writer of fiction in the history of Canada.

Jorge’s problem is that while he has a good historical sense, and is good at research, he just simply can’t write. And worse yet, he has a complete inability to know that he can’t write.

Jorge is the despair of editors at real publishing companies. The computer has given rise to a generation of typists whose capacity at introspection is way below that of the fancied elephant in my spare room.

But not being able to write should be no cause for despair. I learned early in journalism that there were three kinds of reporters (that’s what we were called back then) all of them respected and valued by the profession. One who could gather news, but not write; the second, who could write, but not gather; the third, who could do both.

In practice, I’ve seen men who could hardly write their names break sensational stories while those who could write, stood around in a huddled group and watched the water.

The point is that the news breakers knew that they couldn’t write and took it in their stride while making award-winning best out of what they could do.

Jorge, on the other hand, is so blinded by his ego that he can’t recognize his weakness and take advantage of his strengths by turning over his well-researched material to what we, in journalism, would call a rewrite desk.

Instead of spending money on a good writer, poor old Jorge spent a small fortune on a printer, who poses as a publisher, and blew away a fortune in ideas and research that he could have won from publishers. The printer’s bank account swelled; Jorge’s basement is filled with unsold books.

At one point, in the company of others, I gently suggested that Jorge attend a weekend school at which he could learn something about structure.

Well, Jorge’s reaction was bizarre. He accused me of stealing money to which I had absolutely no access and of deliberately misleading people. My first thought was that he had had a stroke.

Some of those who were aware of the exchange said I should apologize to Jorge. I said, what for? For gently telling the truth?

Hypocrisy is not my game.

These same said nothing to Jorge, even though they knew full well that his accusations about me were entirely false. Like we don’t want to upset the baby.

The moral of this Cross Town tale is that if you are like Egbert and Jorge don’t hang your stuff out in public. If you can’t take public reaction, especially even if that reaction is gently put and well-intended, stay home in your closet and nurse your delusions safe and secure from the real world.

In the living creative world critical reviews can be very harsh, so, as they say, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Happy Trails