The Journey of SILVER BROWN

2019: A Superfluous Retrospective

Well, this has been a craptacular year for me personally. It had a few highlights and memorable moments. Every year usually does. I’ll get to the highlights later on in this post, I promise. But there were a lot of lows too. Some lows a little lower than usual.

It started off with the death of my mother, which most would agree is not the best way to kick off the new year. I spent much of the rest of the year attempting to join the military – a life decision my mother would have been deadset against if she were still with us. Her whole life was defined by fear. Fear was to her worldview what flour is to bread. I think I’ve eaten enough sandwiches made with that kind of bread in my day. We all remember what a certain legendary sage told us a full two decades ago about this very topic. Funny thing is, he wasn’t kidding…



My mother had a very strict happy-clappy evangelical (Baptist) upbringing. Immersed from birth in a profoundly toxic religious doctrine whose very bread and butter is tinfoilhattery, alarmist hysteria and morbidly irrational phobias concerning things that are demonstrably not worth losing sleep over in light of hard statistics and scientific fact. An anti-vaxxer among religions.

True to the sickly subculture in which she was raised, she lived her life in a near-constant state of anxiety. Sober rational thought untainted by emotion or personal passions was for the most part an alien concept to her. I could never engage in any rugged outdoorsy activities such as hiking without being forced to listen to some inane diatribe afterwards about how hiking is so dangerous (“You’ll get eaten by bears!”). During my teenage years, dating anyone who was not of unsullied European extraction was all but forbidden, as was befriending anyone who was Anishinaabe or openly gay. My mother saw people of cultural backgrounds different from her own (non-Christians or cultures with no historical association with Christendom, especially) as nihilistic savages with no reverence for life or any moral compass, and “practicing” homosexuals as sexual predators, without exception. Some big-haired fire-and-damnation preacher on TV who porked hookers and fleeced old ladies out of their life savings said so, and and he was undeniably a Man of God† because he shared my mother’s contempt for heavy metal music, so why would he ever lie? Speaking of heavy metal, my Judas Priest albums were self-righteously thrown in the garbage until I graduated high school and moved out on my own, because my mother gullibly fell for the 1980s Satanic Panic and all that bullshit about subliminal messages. Hook, line and sinker. Never renounced belief in that bullshit even decades after the rest of civilization had long since done so. Like a musical flat-earther. She forbade my brother and I from playing with cap guns as kids, because she actually believed such toys were capable of causing serious injury or death. Who needs evidence or facts when you’ve got Mother’s Instinct?

I always got that feeling that my safety was way more important to my mother than my happiness. As long as I was encaged in several layers of bubble wrap at all times and was never placed in any situation where anything could possibly hurt me, all was right with the world. I was desperately miserable underneath all those layers, but that didn’t matter. I was safe. Nothing could hurt me. Nothing at all. So you can imagine what her reaction would’ve been to the idea of me going off somewhere to be trained in the use of military-grade weapons. She would’ve instantly turned white as a sheet. All her hair would’ve fallen out, her days thenceforth being spent drooling and mumbling incoherently, attempting to sever her own limbs with a rusty old hacksaw.


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† For those of you who don’t happen to be fluent in Happyclappese, the term “Man of God” translates to someone who faithfully toes the party line and hates all the right people. Things like empathy or loving thy neighbour or turning the other cheek are not necessary to be a Man of God. In fact, that sort of thing is outright discouraged. Toeing the party line and hating the right people are way more important, by a long shot. If you’re a suithiestic serial rapist who cheated on your third (trophy) wife with a porn star whose silence you subsequently tried to buy, that’s no big whoop. You still get to be a Man of God as long as you’re a stark-raving loutish bigot out to take on the so-called Homosexual Steamroller. Locking kids in cages? Meh. Big deal. That’s perfectly sane social policy as long as it happens under the watch of a Man of God who shares our dearly held respect-worthy conviction passed down from our malnourished disease-ridden Bronze Age forefathers that homosexuals are a lower form of life than termites. Blatant racism and antisemitism? Misogyny, misogyny and more misogyny? Behaviour more appropriate for a three-year-old than a seventy-three-year-old? Glaringly obvious signs of mental disorder? It’s all good. Hell, we’d be perfectly cool with armbands and public beheadings. As long as you’re a Man of God working towards the righteous cause of depriving homosexuals of the right to breathe oxygen, none of that shit is any cause for alarm whatsoever. Nosiree, Bob. If you’re on our side, there’s no possible low you can’t sink to. You could cut open babies and eat their raw entrails on live television and we’d gladly look the other way. But if you’re not on our side and don’t believe homosexuals are the spawn of Satan and happen to favour outlawing at least some forms of discrimination against them, then using a cigar as a sexual prop with a willing (albeit extramarital) participant is cause for unfettered moral outrage. Pathological homophobia is the foundation on which our whole faith is built! Lord have mercy on us if future generations inherit a world where homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as everybody else! Who in their right mind would want to live in a world like that? The horror!


My mother didn’t mellow out with age. In fact, the older she got, the more irrational she became. In her final years, she wore a permanent scowl. A facial expression that said: I hate everything that moves and want the whole world to die!!! Not just saying it, but shouting it high on the mountain with a voice of triumph. Her own grandchildren could see it. They would ask her questions like: “Grandma, why do you always look so sad?” A question that would be brushed under the rug, never to be answered. Probably a good thing, too. The answer had something to do with immigrants.

All that crippling fear didn’t exactly do wonders for my mother’s health. That should go without saying. She ended up predeceasing her own mother by eleven months. Funny how shit that happens to you when you’re young has a way of fucking you up for life.


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This is the new look my mother is rocking for 2019.

If there’s a silver lining to all of this, the Universe has granted me Her blessing to live out the rest of my life completely guilt-free and shame-free. A few short years ago, I had a ball and chain on each ankle. But today, I find myself unshackled at long last. Over ninety-nine percent of the guilt and shame that plagued my existence was force-fed to me by a mere two people, both of whom are now worm chow. My mother died exactly a year and two days after the expiration date of the other depressing ball and chain in my life. More on that in a bit. But first, the good stuff.

In that new spirit of fearlessness, I enlisted to join the military. A decision I know I will never have any regrets about for as long as I live. Just the experience of applying was a gas and a half. I paid several personal visits to an Army training facility, at one point spending an entire morning there. The atmosphere of the place was electric. Something about the facility spoke directly to the inner cockles of my heart, saying: Hi, there. We’re the military and we kick ass. Pleased to meet you. In the midst of all that kickassitude, I underwent several aptitude tests. They would test me on my mathematical skills and vocabulary and my ability to spell words correctly. That part of the test was a slam dunk for me, of course. The recruiting sergeant mentioned as much when he debriefed me on the test results. I even did well on the part of the test where they had me lifting sandbags, and those weigh fifty pounds each.

Alas, my aspirations to serve queen and country ultimately didn’t pan out. I received a letter from National Defence a few weeks ago telling me that my application had been rejected, for medical reasons. Ottawa raised concerns of a preexisting condition that could potentially be exacerbated by the rigours of military life. So I guess it’s back to the drawing board for me then. There were a couple of positive takeaways from the experience, though. One, it deepened my respect for the military and what they do. I always did have that respect. You can’t do any work for the NATO Association for any length of time and not have that respect. But the experience of going to that facility and taking those tests bumped up that level of respect a few notches, without a doubt. Secondly, I can now say with absolute certainty that the ghost of my former boss no longer has any business haunting me.


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Ellis Kirkland was in many ways the polar opposite of my mother. Urban. Worldly. Articulate. Well-read. Well-educated. Catholic. Extremely adverse to any form of racism or homophobia. Never spoke ill of religions that were not her own (with the possible exception of Scientology), and in fact was romantically involved with a Hindu throughout most of my tenure in her employ. She had a completely different set of fears than my mother did, but most markedly absent was my mother’s fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. The scant traces of hayseed that stuck with me into the early years of my adulthood were beaten out of me with violent gusto when I started working for Ellis, to such an extent that my brain has been completely rewired and I can never really go back to being the guy my parents raised me to be. These days, I find the political discourse at family gatherings repugnant and infuriating. Embarrassing, even. There used to be a time when racist ways of thinking were as much a part of my daily reality as the air I breathe. I didn’t necessarily indulge or agree with such sentiments. But many people I knew were overtly racist, and I oft found myself forgiving and tolerating their racism for the sake of keeping the peace and maintaining good relations. Those days are long gone. Now, racism just makes me violently ill.

In stark contrast to my mother, Ellis had no qualms whatsoever about putting me in harm’s way. I was one of only a handful of members of the staff who had never served in the armed forces of any country. I was therefore a pussy. Ellis would actually call me a pussy to my face. On multiple occasions. Her attitude was that service in the military was some kind of ultimate measure of manhood. If you had never served in the military, you were a boy. Not a man. Even after she died, I could still hear her voice calling me a pussy somewhere in the back alleys of my mind. It would curse at me throughout my one semester at Fanshawe College – a semester of Spinal Tap-like proportions. After Fanshawe I decided to enlist in the military just to shut that voice up. I didn’t get in, but I honestly gave it my best shot. Haven’t heard much from that old ghost since. In the end, that’s what really matters.

While awaiting word from Ottawa, I spent some quality time up north, navigating forest-encrusted waters in this humble vessel…


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She’s called the Spirit of Barry’s Bay. I didn’t pick that name. She would be called the Christopher Squire if I had christened her.

…and finally finished all that meticulous editing to the first act of SILVER BROWN. Something I’m personally proud of. It’s amazing how far this book has come since I first started working on it.

When I write, I never throw away any of my early drafts. Instead, I let them collect in a special folder squirreled away somewhere on my laptop, so I know where to look if I ever need to resurrect or recycle an excised passage. I dug up one of those early drafts a number of months ago, just for shits and giggles. What I saw was a manuscript so radically different from the project I’m currently working on that it’s barely recognizable as the same book. You can definitely see where I was trying to be George Orwell. Now it’s almost comical how my original vision for this project was that it would be an “important” book. A work of Nobel Prize calibre. Something that would be studied in high school English classes for generations to come as an exemplar of highbrow literature, like John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. That vision would gradually be abandoned when composing such a work proved to be easier said than done. After numerous edits and rewrites, it would evolve into something more lighthearted and satirical. People who have read SILVER BROWN tell me it’s “entertaining”. That’s hardly an adjective I would use to describe the books my teachers made me read in high school. I consider that a win.

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Another area where 2019 notably did not suck for me was on the sports pages. One of the few things on TV that’s still worth watching, methinks. I could care less about keeping up with any real housewives and don’t give a rat’s ass who gets the final rose. That bullshit dumbed down the whole culture and paved the way for Emperor Cheeto to enter the White House. If that’s not reason enough to despise it, I don’t know what is. Give me a good hockey game over that nauseating reality TV drivel any day.

Sure, the Toronto Maple Leafs were underwhelming as always. As were the Jays. I think I summed up the Jays’ season nicely with this tweet from last week…


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…but baseball and hockey aside, there was very little mediocrity to be had. We were treated to a whole trifecta of crowning moments of awesome. First, this happened…



Later on that summer, Bianca Andreescu. Her year ended on a bummer note, what with the whole knee injury and all. But defeating Serena Williams to win that fancy-ass Grand Slam trophy is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Well done, young lady.


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A couple of months after that, the year’s biggest crowning moment of awesome yet. At least for me, personally. The Blue Bombers WON THE MOTHERFUCKING GREY CUP!!!


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Twenty-one years have passed since I last called this city home, but deep down in the cockles of my heart I’ll always be one of her sons.

The Green Grass of SILVER BROWN

Legal Ontario Weed: A Review

On October 17th of last year (a date that literally makes me weep as I write it), a land known as Canada – just Canada, with no funky-ass long form to it like the Kingdom of Canada or the Royal Canadian Confederation or the United Canadian Terryfoxadelic Provinces, because we wouldn’t want to be that much of a bother to everyone in formal diplomatic situations – became the second sovereign state on the third stone from the sun to legalize recreational use of the genus Cannabis nationwide, with only Uruguay (of all countries) beating us to the punch. I have always been proud to be Canadian. But on that day, I was four hundred and twenty notches prouder.

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It hasn’t been without a few bumps in the road, though. Part of the reason why Canada is just Canada and nothing else is because she is a federation of ten provinces and three territories, each with its own character, regional preferences and prejudices, and in some cases, even its own language. Those provinces and territories tend not to see eye to eye on a lot of things. Which is why Canada is not the United This or the Republic of That, but just Canada. Any descriptive appellation as part of the long-form name is bound to rub at least one province the wrong way.

The aforesaid genus Cannabis and its derivative products, being one of those controversial things that not everybody agrees upon, would be something regulated by each province in accordance with its particular mores. Much like alcohol has already been regulated for as long as I can remember. Hence, the laws in Canada governing the finer points (like who can smoke and where, and how much one can possess at any one time, and all laws related to edibles) vary depending on what province you’re in, which brings us to the home province of yours truly:

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Ontario. Yours to discover. A place to stand, a place to grow, etc. Largest province in Canada in terms of population. Second largest in area. A land of contrasts. She has both farmland and tundra within her borders, and one hell of a forest. Home to boastfully cosmopolitan cities like Toronto and shamelessly racist hayseed towns like Ignace, and every flavour of community in between. Like all Canadian provinces, she has her own government. Currently made up of an unholy gaggle of doctrinaire mouthbreathers whose party affiliation shall remain unsaid for the sake of keeping the tone of this blog as apolitical as this tense political climate can possibly allow for.


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…but seriously, tell me this is not the laugh of a man who regularly eats the raw flesh of autistic mainline Protestant babies for breakfast and washes it down with the violently extracted blood of student union presidents.

It sure would be great if dispensaries were as common as liquor stores and vape lounges were as common as bars, but we haven’t reached that point in our societal evolution just yet. The mouthbreathers who sit in our provincial legislature won’t allow for such a flurry of economic activity, because The Children. It’s not just these mouthbreathers, either. The exact same excuse was used by the previous government to explain away the meagre number of stores they were proposing to open. The Children! Think of The Children! What kind of example are we setting for The Children?! None of these blasted political parties will grow a pair on this issue and implement some of that good old-fashioned common sense in their policies. Particularly not the current gang of idiots. A disproportionately influential percentage of that gang’s caucus and most ardent supporters are the type of people who believe Ontarians ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves for getting high on anything other than the love of Jesus…


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This Jesus in particular. The one who will kick your ass into next Tuesday if you casually admit to liking showtunes. Not your hippy-drippy Commie Jesus who preached all those dangerous radical ideas about loving your neighbour and giving to the poor.

London, a city of close to four hundred thousand people, is presently served by a single legal cannabis store. It didn’t open until April 1st of this year. They tell us more are coming, but not too many more, because The Children. I’m very fortunate to be living a city that even has one. Such a luxury is not afforded to residents of many other cities and towns across the province, who are forced to employ other methods to get their shit (and more often than not, the other methods so employed are the tried-and-true ones in use since long before legalization). What’s more, the one legal cannabis store in London is located on the opposite side of the city from the one I live in. It sure would be nice if there was a store right in my neighbourhood, or at least one in the next neighbourhood over, but like fuck that’s going to happen anytime soon. The Children!

Nevertheless, being the connoisseur of the herb that I am, it would only be a matter of time before I would make that trip to the other side of London to check out the store for myself, and maybe sample some of the merchandise if they have anything on offer that piques my interest. I got a kick out of the store’s address when I first googled it on my phone – 666 Wonderland Road North. A strong hunch flashed through my mind that one of the hyperreligious types who hold Doug Ford’s penis for him probably picked that address on purpose, to drive home the message that we’re smoking the devil’s cabbage. Like some caterpillar with a hookah. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. Deeply, deeply ashamed.


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Walking through that front door with a complete lack of shame, I found myself in a narrow corridor, where there’s always somebody on duty playing the part of the bouncer, checking people’s identification and ejecting anyone not legally old enough. Once the bouncer gives you his or her blessing to proceed, you walk through a second door at the end of the hall leading to the main store, whose ambiance resembles some weird hybrid of a pharmacy and a fast food joint. There’s a menu behind the main counter just like one you’d find in a typical McDonald’s, save for the fact that the Big Macs and Quarter Pounders have been replaced with sativas and indicas and hybrid strains. Or capsules, if smoking is not your thing. Staff members armed with tablets punch your order into the central computerized queue once you’ve made your decision. You then pay your money and wait a couple of minutes for a staff member to bring out your ganja. Overall, I found the ordering process to be pretty painless.

Which brings me to the ganja itself.

First impressions? Well, it’s pretty plain as day why shit purchased legally has a tendency to be pricier than shit purchased by other means. Never mind the taxes. The packaging! A simple baggie isn’t good enough for the government. They must sell us our shit in packaging like this…


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Some strains come in a box with this kind of mechanism that is apparently supposed to deter The Children…

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…and last but not least, my personal favourite…

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I’m almost tempted to blatantly encourage people to continue to get their shit from their friendly neighbourhood dealer, just because it’s clearly the more environmentally friendly option. For chrissakes, people. We’ve all heard the statistics. There will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by the ides of this century unless a major attitude adjustment happens in our world. We can hardly expect this government to spearhead such an attitude adjustment. It has to be said that environmental issues occupy a very low rung on their list of priorities. Most of the people who own Doug Ford’s testicles subscribe to the belief that Jesus Christ is coming back to earth soon, and when he does, he will repair all the environmental damage we’ve inflicted upon the earth with his magical leprechaun powers. Just like this…


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How was the high, you ask? Well, it was decent. Not exactly the most mind-blowing shit I’ve ever smoked. After all, this is Ontario and not British Columbia. But it was decent. I was inspired enough to drop some dope lyrics upon the Twitterverse…


I also had a sudden flash of insight about the book (to be elaborated on in a future blog post) while I was brewing coffee shortly after a wake n’ bake. So there’s that. Then there’s the kief. Many of these strains produced an impressive amount of it – enough for four more sessions (at least) after the main stash is ground and smoked. A word to the wise, though. Unless you’re a complete novice who will be impressed with everything, you might want to steer clear of the hybrid strains. I personally didn’t care for them. The high just felt like a nicer version of an ice cream headache. Whoever’s growing hybrids for legal distribution in this province needs to go to BC to learn how to do it right.

All in all though, I have to say I’m reluctant to get into the habit of buying legal bud with any degree of regularity, mostly because of the packaging. Specifically all the plastic involved in the making of said packaging. Can we not do something about that? Please? I fail to see why all that plastic is necessary. It takes some degree of practice to perfect one’s smoking technique – practice which we can reasonably assume the average eight-year-old hasn’t devoted one fraction of a second to. Many people don’t even feel a high when they try ganja for the first time. Yet spirituous beverages (which are demonstrably more damaging to a human body than the herb) can be readily consumed by any child who already knows how to drink milk, and I don’t see this or any other government tripping all over themselves to equip liquor bottles with child-resistant caps.


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The Soundtrack of SILVER BROWN

“Oh God, not you again…”

There’s a lingering part of me that still wants to despise the holidays. It’s not the feasting and the merrymaking and whatnot. I definitely don’t have anything against that. The custom of having some kind of celebratory orgy to commemorate the winter solstice is one that has been observed by multiple societies throughout history; it’s a tradition almost as old as civilization itself. So it’s not that. It’s more the sanctimonious Trumpist types who throw temper tantrums in Aisle 4 whenever somebody uses a religiously neutral phrase like “Season’s Greetings” or when their Starbucks coffee cup does not prominently feature an image of Jesus Christ. Yeah, it’s more that. Those people annoy the fuck out of me. If any such MAGAloids are reading this, axial tilt has been scientifically proven to be the true reason for the season, and your Jesus is little more than a bumper sticker that you rudely stuck on the back of the Saturnalia party wagon without bothering to ask if it was okay with the charioteer. So kindly shut the fuck up.

Then there’s the music. Oh, God. The music! Mariah Carey was hitting them impossible high notes long before Autotune became a thing, so I guess I can respect her as a musician just for that, even though her personality (according to the tabloid press) is like one of those eldritch abominations straight out of Lovecraft that would turn you into a pillar of coal if you looked directly at it. That doesn’t mean I want to listen to Ms. Carey’s interpretations of holiday standards for a whole freaking month. Can whoever is in charge of choosing the music we hear in the malls play something more like this…?