A digital source for alternative coverage and literature in Canada. December
Seasons of the Bhodi
Write Me a Love Story
More Than Words
News & Opinion
By: Nate Maxton
By: Volo Von Wolfenstein
By: Anthony Leclair By: Colton Gilson
By: Andrew Kapra By: Rolli
By: Colton Gilson
16 Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3 By: Nicholas Camilleri
30 Harper’s Conspiracy to End the Senate
32 Hijab Is Acceptable But Niqab Isn’t
34 My Life, My Journey – How Old do You Feel?
36 Swept Interviews a Toronto PickUp Artist Coach
40 Toronto DJ Doing More Than Just Spinning Tracks
By: Ahmed Latif
By: Mamta Lulla
By: Anthony Leclair
By: Neil McKenzie-Sutter
By: Anthony Leclair
By: Jen Alvarez
From Founding Editor
Despite a rocky schedule – Swept prevails
Founding Editor Jen Alvarez Managing Editor - News and Content Alex Lambert Managing Editor - Copy and Research Neil McKenzie-Sutter Local Lit Editor Magda Wolak Content Resourcing Anthony Leclair Senior Contributor Colton Gilson Cartoonist and Illustrator Ivan Kostynyk Art Director - Editorial
This past month has been probably one of the busiest, chaotic and overwhelming months of my life. In late November, I was given the opportunity to travel to British Columbia to deal with some family business, but of course, I wouldn’t let a week in B.C. be purely a family affair. With only three days notice, preparation time was sparse, especially since Swept team was not only getting ready to publish November’s issue, but our deadline for a funding grant was closing in on us. Brief talks were had and responsibilities were assigned, and knowing that I was heading to some remote spots in B.C. I knew being connected was going to make for some communication problems. With the odds against them, and some carrying unfamiliar duties, the team managed to publish one of our cleanest issues yet, with minimal help from myself. Not only did we get the issue out, albeit a couple of days late, but Jen Alverez took on the job of completing the Swept’s business plan for our grant application. Regardless if we get the funding or not. December proved that although sometimes our communication is lacking and schedules a bit rocky, the team can tie their boots and get the job done, even if it means killing all my data through Skype calls. You know the world surely didn’t end on Dec 21st 2012, but 2013 did bring a very much different world for me personally. Much was gained, some was lost and in the end, many lessons were learned. Although Swept’s conception did occur in 2012, Swept truly came to fruition in 2013. Our team is always growing, always expanding and always on the brink of another adventure. Our content flow was lower than we’d have liked to see for December, but considering the circumstances -considering everyone still has a head on their shoulders, we done’ good. After Swept recovers from this less than routine month, we will be back in gear and if all goes well, we’ll have a little extra cash to help Swept grow to its full potential. Happy holidays to everyone! The team here at Swept wishes all of our readers a happy and safe New Year. As always, be swift, do it live. Nicholas Camilleri
issue 4 Ahmed Latif
A Flannel shirt revolution politely asks the sun to shine. The Moon drowns in the ocean of consensus, So this discord is a tsunami of independence. Directionless antagonism is still meaningful. Unrepentant corporate art in your contrarian club, Unnamed ads on untamed sidewalls aren’t witty. All summer we stare at the graffiti; Life is painting over a dirty canvas.
Magda Wolak – “Untitled”
On a three hour flight, four hours time difference in the place of arrival you get there seven hours late Welcome to the future There you are In a metal embolism Floated up Just a moment While below Rolling Someone else’s moment In green and blues and desert Turbulence and heretofore Ghostly heart murmurs And in the terminal Big windows Out past concrete runways And cities coughed out of dust rather than into it: Mountains, gray and hot smog teeth Far temptation Before you’re injected Under the skin of a sky that still laughs at you
Andrew Ahmed – “Untitled”
issue 4 Volo Von Wolfenstein
Seasons of the Bhodi
"Mahakavi...tell me, what is the body?" 'It is: the candle desiring flame; it is: the universe self-contained; it is: the realization of love, through the gratitude of pain.' "Mahakavi...will you let me know, what is the nature of the soul?" 'It is: the unwritten page; it is: the empty picture frame; it is: the absence of the self, through the charity of change.'
Saul Landell – “La Giganta”
Write Me a Love Story There’s a thickness in the air. I can taste it. A tumult. They are coming. My success, my fame...I am nothing but a vessel. Ten years to the day. I cannot help but recall. Borrowed time flies after all, and it seems as though it was only days ago that I made my foray into the realm of the damned. I sat at my desk in my quaint, Deep River home, wondering just how much longer I could stand wasting my life away on silly notions of grandeur. I wanted so desperately to be a writer. And for all my desperation, I gained nothing but an empty bottle of whisky. Even now...these words may never meet a reader. But in those days, desperation turned to madness, or so I thought. I left my home in a grand sweep of rage, disrobing my desk of its paper prim.
Slamming the door, I stepped blindly, from rage or whisky I was not sure, down to the river, now devoid of those summertime lovers and illegitimate children who so often plague the shores through the warmth of the summer. I followed, through mud and brush, up a stream into the grand enclosure of Cedar Park: a happy beginning to many an unhappy child. As I struggled to keep my footing on the rocky bed of the stream, I came to a bench, hidden away from the rest of the park, whereupon sat a young boy. Realizing that I was being watched and not knowing for how long I had been, I quickly worked at regaining my composure. The boy was unusually still. Messy platinum hair sprawled in shag about his head; his skin, deathly pale, emanated a glow, it seemed, of majesty. His eyes, almost white, pale as though perhaps he were blind and had been following my sound, not my ragged appearance. In spite of his equally drab and beaten clothing: muddied sneakers, sandy beach shorts, and a lightly stained polo shirt, the boy was beautiful. He could not have been more than seven, but he was arresting. Though I was more than aware of how disturbed I should have been, thoughts of the most appalling carnality swept over me; infecting my sensibilities...I desired him. No sooner than I had managed to step toward him, I tripped over an outcropped root, peeking from the banks: a remnant of the summer washout. As I deigned to look up from my last touch of dignity, there he stood before me: the little boy, beautiful and more desirable than any one thing on Earth. As I gazed into his cold but inviting eyes, I wept. I wept for us both: I wept for my guilt and my shame, and I wept for his innocence which I was soon to take. It was then that he spoke, “I know what it is you desire.” So articulate for so young a boy, I was rendered mute. “Do not be afraid. I know all that you want.” Now I was sure it was the whisky and not the rage that blinded me. I fought to say even a single word, but could only manage a weak, “Need...” “Need, you say.”
Suddenly the boy had clutched my face in his overwhelmingly soft hands with a brute strength I could not believe. “I’ve all you need.” Said the boy as he viciously pressed his lips to mine. My eyes closed, succumbing to the paradise that was my carnal desire. As I opened my eyes, I no longer peered into the pale windows of a little boy’s innocence. Rather, I saw the fiery pits of Hell; I saw all the calamities of the world in an instant and I reeled back in a fear unparallelled. The hands which still clutched my face would not release me and as I managed to see what was once the radiant face of the young boy, I saw a hideously beautiful beast. From the beast’s pursed lips came a forked tongue, shining silver, and with this, in low, guttural, yet simultaneously dulcet tones, it spoke, “Do not yet leave. I can give you all you desire. You will be unrivalled in your works. You will shame the greats. No albatross about your neck; no hideous heart beneath your floor boards. You will be the greatest of them all, and you will know what it is to be great.” My tears of guilt were replaced, instantly, with tears of joy. I suddenly knew no bounds in my avarice, my lust, my gluttony. I envied none and my pride rose to the mountain tops to sing my own praises. “You know the words you must speak my lamb. You do not want the wolves nipping at your heels. Tell me what you know I need to hear.” I hadn’t known the words. I was drunk on cheap whisky and desire, and I had not known what to say, but no sooner than he finished, I returned, “No angel of the lord shall bear me up, nor hound of Hell drag me down till I have slaked my lust and feasted on my desire; until I have supped at the banquet of need. And when I have had my fill, to Hell with my soul for no torture is as great as such a fall from grace; as desire fed and put to sleep.” I was given sweet release from all that I saw in those torturous eyes. His hands opened, and as he let me go, I fell to the mud, but
issue 4 Write Me A Love Story
I fell further still. I fell beyond dream and delusion; I soared upon the bosom of the air as I, at once, set sail with Charon to the gates. I traversed Heaven and Hell in an instant, all the while fearing the countenance of the beast and longing for those untainted lips; the soft radiance of unsullied youth; innocence. Darkness then. I woke to darkness and, as I lifted my head, realized I was at my desk, papers strewn, a puddle of drool where I had lain, and a bottle of whisky at my feet, empty. A dream. A drunken stupor. I reached for my lamp and as I switched it on, the bulb blew, and in that flash, I saw innocence...only for a moment. It was as though my youth shone brilliantly all at once and was immediately extinguished; darkened. Blinded by this flash of light and youth, I endeavoured to feel my way to the door: it was evidently time for bed. I stood and pressed my hand to the wall to feel my way out, but the wall felt clammy. I began to notice ridges running along the wall, parallel to the floor. I stretched my arms out, far as I could, to take stock of what could have caused this unfamiliar feeling...was I still drunk? Though I could not see even an inch in front of my face, I looked down to where I knew the base of the wall to be and slowly scanned upwards, in hopes of noticing something. As I began to peer upward, past my eye-line, two paled eyes opened in the darkness and though I meant to scream, flail, run, I could only stand, arms outstretched, caught in a gaze of white heat. The room was consumed by the light of these eyes, though before me, all was black still, save for the bright burning orbs. I noticed what spittle remained on my desk from whisky slumber began to pop and boil and evaporate. Clouds seemed to form about me and while I was in my room, I was not: like a dream, when you know the place though it may appear otherwise. Below the glowing orbs, in the expanse of blackness, opened a chasm of pearl white, piranha-like teeth: several layers of them, and protruding from the depths of the chasm, a flash of silver which carried a harmoniously awful bellow, “Write me a love story. Share me with the world. Open people’s hearts.” Love, fear, confusion...write me a love story? I’d no time to think. I rose slowly from the ground. No. The ground slowly removed itself and I saw into the world. I saw forever in an instant and though I knew all, I understood nothing. I hung there in time, arms reaching out until the white heat of those glowing orbs went black, and the silver spark retreated behind the layers of shredding teeth. I fell. Deep into life. And as I plummeted into darkness, I woke to the light...in a pool of dribble, face planted, on my desk, a bottle of whisky at my
feet, empty, and a stack of papers next to the typewriter. I looked at the stack, gave it a once over, and realizing it was a completed manuscript, was suddenly dumbfounded. Did I write this? ‘Write Me a Love Story’. A 26er polished at my feet, I must have had a long night, indeed, I thought to myself: passing off the boy and the beast and the blackness as dreams... awfully vivid dreams. The phone... “Hey my good man. Just wondering if you’ve written anything useful out there in the sticks with that cozy advance we gave you.” ‘Write Me a Love Story’? “It’s not what you guys are expecting, I don’t think, but I’ve got something for you.” “At this point buddy, any work is good. If you ever want to go anywhere that is.” “It’s on its way.” And that was it. A drunken night and an impatient, loansharking publisher looking to make bucks or break legs. He made bucks though. A few million of them before the end. Number one best seller all over the world. I topped the Bible in copies sold for that year, and each subsequent year. I was not a great: I was the great. Book signings had to be closed early, interviews had to be turned down because of so many bookings...it was good to have to turn away Fox News. O’Reilly never factored into my schedule. The parties, the women, the praise, the pride. I drank from the cup of excess and I savoured every drop. One day, outside of a book signing, a group of writers, friends of mine, I thought; colleagues of mine in Toronto, started a demonstration against me. They seemed to think I was being underhanded. They were jealous. But their ferocity grew. I sat at a book signing in Nicolas Hoare’s and a man brandished a gun shouting, “I’ll write you a love story!” A fan jumped in the way to stop him and took a bullet through the heart. Several others grabbed the gunman and opened him up just as well. I thought the world had gone mad. Why would anyone want to silence the greatest literary voice on Earth? The shooting was in 2007. In the years following that, people began to trash displays of my books, beat bookshop owners who supplied my works, hold massive book burnings...I was bigger than the Beatles, and if they were bigger than Jesus, then I was bigger than them all. I was the most famous...or infamous perhaps. It wasn’t until the suicides that I lost the taste; the sweet surrender of my desires. Jumpers, all of them. At every event I’d attend, at least one of them would follow me and throw themselves from the building in which the event took place. We left the city proper; strayed from the buildings so the jumpers couldn’t follow. Well at High Park, a young and, I gather once beautiful couple, proved me wrong. The trees high enough, the rocks solid enough, the couple entangled in love of hatred for me, sprawled bloody and lifeless on the forest floor...not fully lifeless. The young man, twist-
Write Me A Love Story Image: Cigan Karaca – “kaçamazsın gerçeklerden... yalanlar bir gün yansıtacaktır onları yüzüne”
ed about his lover, looked into my eyes as the life slipped from his, rendering them a milky white...a memory returned to me of a dream I had of a little boy. A dream? I fled. Calamity met me at every turn: two jumpers at the TTC as I tried to train to the Greyhound station, a vagrant who accosted me just as I stepped from the cab I took to the station and who
harmonious voice on the haze of dead air, chiming, “I know what it is you desire.” Somehow I ran harder still, staring at my feet to somehow think them into action. A rock. I tumbled, with great force, into the mud. It hurt so intensely to lift my body from the ground. A flash of flame shot above me and as I glanced, briefly, at the puddle below me, I saw a beauti-
took me for everything I had on me. The attendant at the ticket booth wouldn’t grant me use of my credit without proper identification as though he didn’t know I was whom I said. I stowed away on a VIA Rail train to Ottawa, only to watch, as we chugged down the track, the metropolis burn as planes descended like partridge too slow to escape the hunter’s shot. As I was caught hiding on the train, we collided with a transport truck at a crossing. I stumbled my way from the train and down the track in a deep, red-tinged daze, waiting to find myself in my study, face in a slop of drool, bottle of whisky at my feet, empty, safe and cozy and unknown. I slaked my lust and feasted on my desire until I had supped my fill at the banquet of need. I had my fill; my desire fed and put to sleep, and indeed no torture could be as great as such a fall from grace. A howl...a thunderous rumble. “To Hell with my soul...” I had once said. They were coming. The hunt began. Storms brewed, trees fell, fires raged; the Earth shook, but I ran. I ran day and night and could not stop no matter how my body ached: no matter my blistered feet, my swollen ankles: no matter the many sharded fractures up my shins, the incessant gasping for air that felt all too thick to breathe...no matter, for it was the howling that spurred me ever on...those hounds of Hell. I became delirious for as I ran through the fire and the rain, I swore I could hear a guttural, brutish, yet dulcetly
ful little boy. I spun round, wrenching my back...nothing...then howling in the ever closing distance. “Do not be afraid. I have all that you want.” I crawled for a time. Just so long as I was moving. At length I stood and ran as hard as I could with the little I had. Thunder. Lightning. Rage. “I’ve all you need.” I came, at last, to my Deep River home, where suddenly the storm lifted. The darkness broken by the light. A peaceful town. Quiet. Empty...quiet. No howls. No beautifully foul voice on the air. My body, invigorated and without pain, felt able to fly; to be lifted to the heavens. I went down to my study, sat at my desk, a bottle of whisky at my feet, half full, and stared blankly at the blank white sheet set and ready in my typewriter. I shot upright. I swore I heard a barking outside. Silly me. A beautiful August day: who wouldn’t be walking their dog. Suddenly I had a great idea for a story. I had some weird dreams of late. So I started: ‘There’s a thickness in the air. I can taste it. A tumult. They are coming. My success, my fame...I am nothing but a vessel.’ Then, with sweet innocence, I heard a young boy, breathing at my neck, “Write me a love story.”
issue 4 More Than Words
issue 4 Colton Gilson
Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3 The Coquihalla, (Highway 5) and also known as the â€˜Highway Thru Hellâ€™ is the highway connecting Hope-Princeton to the Fraser Canyon, and this past December, I got the chance to take this infamous road in a loaded tractor trailer. In addition I got to travel the equally fun route known as Highway 3 during my trip from Kelowna to Vancouver and then to Keremeos from Vancouver the next day.
The word Coquihalla comes from the local aboriginals, and means ‘stingy container’, but refers to a special spear fishing spot which is located on what is now called the Coquihalla River. Not only does this series of highways have a notorious reputation among locals, but like everything else that is slightly dangerous and exciting, it also has a TV show. You might have heard of it - “Highway Thru Hell”, which follows Jamie Davis, a tow truck company owner who tends to the Coquihalla. When winter conditions become rough and unforgiving, Davis is responsible for getting wrecks, which are often big-rigs, out of the ditch and sometimes off the side of a mountain. When I arrived in Kelowna, I wasn’t too enthused checking out the seven day forecast. It turns out I brought Ontario’s winter with me. Five out of the seven days I visited it was below zero degrees, but I couldn’t complain, I was in the mountains. While much of my trip was interesting and will eventually be told in every disgusting detail, first I must highlight this epic Canadian journey through what was hands down the most beautiful drive I have ever been on, albeit nerve-racking.
Keep right except to pass is right. It appeared anyone in a 4X4 wasn't afraid of the below zero conditions, though I guess we have the same idiots here at home, they just do the same thing in their Honda Accord.
issue 4 Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3.
One of many mountain views
Slowly climbing the mountainside we see snow
As we climbed in altitude, ears began to pop and snow became more prevalent.
I had no idea I’d be taking this 524 km stretch of highway during my trip and was informed only the day before that I’d be riding in a 53-footer through one of Canada’s most epic mountain passes. Despite the ranting and raving of the people around me, I wasn’t too worried about the trip – in the end I had just gotten off my first plane ride ever, and that barely gave me the shakes (the five beers along the way might have helped). Besides, I would be riding alongside my cousin, who drives the highway six days a week, many hours at a time. What’s to be scared of when you are riding with a pro?
issue 4 Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3.
When lights are flashing trucks of a certain weight must chain up
This sign is one of many that indicate truck drivers must employ their tire chains as conditions worsen. My cousin said this was probably the worst part of the job and said in most cases you donâ€™t get back in the truck dry after putting on the chains.
As we progress the roads tighten and get trickier, nothing my cousin canâ€™t handle.
issue 4 Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3.
Think of the wildlife
Despite my ass numbed beyond the effects of a cocaine suppository, the scene along that stretch of highway was the stuff that makes you shed man tears. I was constantly being brought to my many hours exploring the world of Skyrim, keeping an eager eye out for any shit-disturbing dragons.
Bigfoot could totally be living in there somewhere...
Much further still to go
issue 4 Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3.
This turn wouldnâ€™t seem so bad in a Hyundai, but in a loaded truck.. different story.
Who needs a tripod?
Certainly not this guy!
issue 4 Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3.
Starting to get dark
I took much of Highway 5 at night despite being a little worn out from days of partying before.
Certainly a different vibe at night.
Iâ€™ll let the pictures tell the rest of the trip. The remainder will be saved for my award-winning novel, yet to be written. These photos are a combination of Highway 5 and Highway 3.
issue 4 Travelling the Okanagan, the Coquihalla & Highway 3.
A view of the Rockies from up above.
Harper’s Conspiracy to End the Senate This federally mandated partial work stoppage season, I think it’s important to take time out of your busy schedule and reflect on what really matters: the photogenic snowflakes, caroling, reindeer and sleighs. And while you’re sitting around your dinner table, awkwardly fumbling around for topics of conversation with family members you just don’t like, to mix things up between helpings of Rob Ford, you might want to update your knowledge of the Senate expenses scandal.
n all seriousness though, this Senate scandal thing is actually pretty shady, and, this is just my opinion, but it has telltale signs of a conspiracy by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end the Senate. Now, the word conspiracy has become somewhat of a loaded term in the last few years, so I just want to clarify what I’m talking about. The kind of conspiracy I’m talking about is not that the CIA planned 9-11, wants to put everyone in hobbit homes or take away ‘our guns’. That said, conspiracies do exist in the real world. They occur in governments, businesses and between everyday people, and I’m not saying I necessarily know for certain that this latest Senate thing is a conspiracy. But at the same time, here’s why I wouldn’t be surprised. In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper went on record, saying he wanted to reform the Senate and make it elected, or end it all together: “Mr. Speaker, I very clearly said that this party’s preference is to see a reformed and elected Senate, but the Senate must change; if the Senate cannot be elected, then it should be abolished. Those are the choices.” Now that was six, getting on seven years ago now, so some time has passed, but never underestimate Harper. Harper’s political enemies and friends have both made that mistake. A great illustration of Harper’s conniving abilities are found in allegations made by Sen. Mike Duffy, if there is any merit to what he has to say. But at this moment in time, the RCMP is investigating his claims, so it would seem that there is some truth to it. Sen. Duffy has alleged that he was set up by the Prime Minister’s Office. Duffy claims that the Prime Minister’s Office had promised to reimburse him for the $90,000, (the outstanding amount which caused the whole Senate expenses scandal in the first place) even before it became a story. And when the story broke, the Prime Minister’s Office asked him not to stir the pot and told him not to worry because they would pay for his legal expenses. The strange part of Sen. Duffy’s story is the last of his allegations appear to be true: Sen. Duffy saved some pay stubs or something and it seems that yes, the Prime Minister’s Office was indeed paying his legal fees.
And it seems the other two senators that have been suspended this far in the scandal have similar stories. Sen. Pamela Wallin has said that she was ordered to resign by one of the Prime Minister’s staffers and Sen. Patrick Brazeau claims he was offered a backroom deal. Keep in mind what each of these senators is accused of; gross spending misconduct and that they may just be nasty, careless politicians trying to save their own skins and careers, but I don’t think that’s where it ends, totally. It’s already clear the corruption that has made this scandal such a story extends into the PMO. Nigel Wright has so far been offered up as the bad seed from the Prime Minister’s Office, being depicted as responsible for the lax atmosphere for expense reporting in the Senate, but again, I don’t think many people buy this story. For something that had the potential to explode like this story has, it is uncharacteristic for Stephen Harper, with his history of tight control, to not have known about it. Basically what I’m saying is, I think Stephen Harper did know about it. I think he specifically singled out these senators because they don’t have many friends and with all the political baggage they’re carrying, he’s planning on using them as an example for why the Senate should be disbanded. But this is an interesting point because, really, who cares? Technically, Stephen Harper is correct on this issue: if the Senate can’t be reformed to make it elected, it’s essentially a giant waste of taxpayer dollars. You can argue and say Harper should go through the correct legal channels if he wants to end the Senate, but Parliament Hill is so mired in corruption that it’s really impossible for anyone to even talk about approaching the Senate. Trying any kind of reform would be political suicide, so Harper has avoided the trap by not talking about it and not asking anyone’s permission. It’s interesting because if you look at it this way, it really comes down to whether you agree with how Stephen Harper has gone about his agenda. I’ll leave that up to the individual reader to decide. I know this is supposed to be an opinion piece, but I don’t feel that passionately about this. What this is is a test of Stephen Harper’s government and, really, Stephen Harper himself,
and his leadership style. It may be too early, but I believe this story could make or break Harper’s government and could easily be the most remembered moment of his government: the time Stephen Harper broke, or was broken by the Senate. So in the final analysis, I really don’t understand why conspiracy theorists go to such great lengths to make stuff up about the real world when this exists. You could make this stuff up, but why would you bother? This is real, and I think it’s more fun that way. Have a happy new year, stay safe, and don’t believe everything you read in the news.
Image by: Remy Steinegger
Hijab Is Acceptable But Niqab Isn’t
he Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations (CPCMO) is an umbrella for progressive Muslims across Canada with Canadian values such as gender equality, one law for all, freedom of expression and education against radicalization. It was launched in the presence of minister of state for multiculturalism, Tim Uppal, and minister of employment, social development & multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. CPCMO supports Muslims who recognize that sharia is a time-bound, humanly constructed, legal-political system created in the ninth century, which is at odds with the modern world, and are working towards reform. “Sharia laws are arbitrary laws that do not advocate gender equality that have no room in the 21st century today. These are barbaric laws that are at odds with modern day Canada,” said Tahir Gora, secretary general of CPCMO. “There are organizations that talk about progressive Muslim values so we thought if we come along with each other we could raise our issues and concerns and confront some of the sharia law bound organizations and others who don’t like gender equality so we decided to raise our voice by coming together,” he said. Gora is one of the founders of CPCMO, who heads his own organization, called Canadian Thinkers’ Forum. Other organizations that came together to form CPCMO are Islamic Council for Interfaith Harmony, Muslim Committee Against Anti-Semitism, Progressive Muslims Institute Canada, Project Ijtihad, the Council
Quebec’s values charter isn’t the only secular motion passed in recent times; eight progressive Canadian Muslim organizations launched a coalition in Parliament Hill to push separation of religion and politics.
for Muslims Facing Tomorrow and Western Canadian Muslims for democracy. Gora said the founders of the eight organizations share similar ideas and interests. Most of them are friends and have known each other for a while. “Our coalition wants to say very clearly that there’s no room for Islamic terrorism in Canada and elsewhere in the world. And there’s this segregation between men and women in many Islamic centres, even here in Canada, and we don’t want to see gender segregation, at least in our circles. These are primary issues we want to address,” said Gora. He said the CPCMO will form Islamic centres that will provide music, art and dance lessons for Muslim kids without segregating men and women during prayer time. One such centre will make its debut in Mississauga in 2014. CPCMO is a think-tank to provide a platform for diverse voices within the Muslim communities in Canada, who are engaged in following the principles and values stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, while understanding the reasons that lead to problems of Muslim radicalization. CPCMO believes in separating politics and religion and hence supports Quebec’s values charter, although it isn’t clear on all aspects of the charter. Gora said members of CPCMO are in agreement with public workers not wearing religious symbols while they’re at work. Rasoul B., an immigrant from Tehran who is self-employed in Canada, said he has been exposed to many cultures while he’s been here, but did not find a major difference in values.
Demonstration against Quebec’s values charter early this year. Courtesy: Flickr Common
For example, back home, he was brought up to respect others, and those same values apply here in Canada. “There are small differences like back home you do not walk out on the street without hijab. It’s a must, you should have hijab but here there’s no such thing,” he said. Rasoul agreed that politics and religion should be separate. Gora said CPCMO has progressive ideas. For example, the coalition does not believe in women wearing niqab, but have nothing against a hijab. “Hijab is just a head scarf but does not cover your face. Niqab covers your face and conceals your identity. We’re against niqab for many reasons. Safety issues and it deprives opportunity of Muslim women being equivalent in society. It deprives them of equal opportunity. There shouldn’t be any room for niqab in Canada,” he said. Imam Aslam Nakhuda at Madinah Masjid, a mosque on Danforth Ave. in Toronto, agreed with the idea of separating religion and politics. He said he isn’t clear on Quebec’s values charter, but doesn’t see anything wrong with government enforcing some rules for their employees. He said every workplace has a uniform in place that all employees are expected to abide by. “If a person feels this is my religious obligation and if a certain institution doesn’t allow them maybe they can leave there and look for somewhere else that is more accommodating,” he said.
He added that a problem occurs if the government starts imposing these rules and regulations on people or civilians. He advised Muslim immigrants that if they feel strongly about following their culture and religion they should be allowed to as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Gora’s advice was to understand the distinction between religion and culture. “Immigrants should bring their culture, their music, their art, is certainly welcome. But that doesn’t mean Muslims or any other community should not celebrate other cultures. Because it’s not a one way street,” he said, while explaining Canada is a blend of many cultures and no community can shun other cultures. He said culture is a vast term and religion could be part of it, but never the other way around. Gora said, “In the name of freedom of religion we suppress ideas and freedom of expression. Hence we need to sit down and find a balance. We support freedom of religion, but as long as our freedom of idea and thought is not suppressed.”
“Hijab is just a head scarf but does not cover your face. Niqab covers your face and conceals your identity. We’re against niqab for many reasons. Safety issues and it deprives opportunity of Muslim women being equivalent in society. It deprives them of equal opportunity. There shouldn’t be any room for niqab in Canada,”
Merz Pharma Canada, an aspiring leader in the treatment of movement disorders, and aesthetics and dermatology, recently held a survey in support of their “My Life, My Journey” Merz Aesthetics Model Search, asking Canadians their thoughts on the aging process and its effects on behaviour.
“Based on our survey results, we’ve found that most people feel younger inside than they look outside. In fact, over 80 per cent of respondents admitted to feeling younger than they looked. In Ontario, we thought it was interesting to learn that more people (32%) are likely to say aging makes them feel less secure about their appearance compared to those in Atlantic Canada (18%), Alberta (22%) and B.C. (20%). What was also interesting was seeing that popular saying ‘young at heart’ really come out in the survey results,” said Gloria Hsu, senior marketing manager at Merz Aesthetics. The “My Life, My Journey” contest is open to all legal Canadian residents, ages 19 to 65, and invites them to share their personal stories of image and self-esteem. Three winners will be chosen from all applicants. The grand prize winner will receive a prize package that includes a trip to New York City for a professional photo shoot as the new Merz Aesthetics model, and additional prizes valued at $10,000 inclusive, as well as a complimentary treatment with Merz Aesthetics products. The two runners-up will receive prize packages consisting of complimentary treatments with Merz Aesthetics products, valued at $4,500. The ultimate goal of the contest is, “to enable Canadians to understand that aging affects everyone differently and secondly, to find the next brand ambassador for Merz Aesthetics. We’re not looking for a professional model: we want someone real that is relatable who can share their personal story on image and self-esteem.” Hsu offered.
My Life, My Journey – How Old do You Feel?
“We’ve learned a lot about the aging process and the different effects it can have on individuals, not just physically, but relating to self-esteem and quality of life. Our ultimate goal is to empower people to feel good and be confident in their own skin, and not feel like their self-esteem has been impacted by age. We want people to be able to embrace the aging process.” A very commendable pursuit, indeed, Merz Pharma Canada has also been committed to providing innovative medical approaches for treating neurological and psychiatric illnesses, as well as Alzheimer’s. Founded in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1908, Merz Pharma Group has been developing trust in patients and physicians worldwide, for over 100 years. When asked what she thought was the biggest hurdle to overcome with regards to image and self-esteem, Hsu replied:
It can be a combination of things, but ultimately it’s acceptance that aging is a natural progression that affects everyone. What’s important is how you handle the process and how you let it affect you – whether you choose to embrace it or not.
Aging + Maturity By Colton Gilson
Swept Interviews a Toronto Pickup Artist Coach Toronto has begun to see an influx of what are referred to as PUAs, or pickup artists. A significant presence at both the University of Toronto campus as well as the Eaton Centre has people on edge and relatively confused about just what is going on. Reddit is exploding with talk of creeps, targeting women, and how much game these pickup artists are working with. I could do my best to explain what this is all about, but I’d rather let people from both sides help to clarify and comment on the PUA phenomenon. I recently spoke to Coach E.J. of TdotPickup, to try and find out just what this pickup artistry is all about. Here’s what went down:
What is the main purpose or goal of the PUA? The main purpose of PUA, at least according to society’s stereotypes and [the] classical idea of a male, is to ‘get laid’. There are books on the subject: Get Laid or Die Trying, Bang: The Pickup Bible That Helps You Get More Lays. There are indeed, other pickups coaches who show guys to do the ‘same night lays’, ‘one night stands’, ‘flings’, etc. For TdotPickup, PUA means something completely different. I take students through progressive baby steps customized to each student in order to pick up women. For some guys, rather than walk around for three hours and just see me approaching and them observing, I have them do warmup approaches, and put pressure on them to approach and feel guilty. I stress ‘you get what you put in’. It is counterintuitive that you PAY someone not to approach for you, not to see their approaches, but especially for the social; boost and encourage, just for the right way to approach women and to get feedback, not run out of things to say. With the basic skills of conversation, guys can definitely seduce women and their underlying intention of ‘getting laid’, ‘getting a relationship’, ‘seeing what happens’, ‘making friends’, whatever they may be, will play into this. Similarly, what the woman is looking for, ‘bed buddy until I meet a boyfriend’, ‘friends with benefits’, ‘friends’, ‘hot guys’, ‘funny guys’, ‘confident guys’, also plays into it.
Are there also training sessions for women, or is this a specifically male practice? The only women or gay guys who have contacted TdotPickup have all been wastes of time or pranks. I even offered to do a 50 per cent off or free coaching session for a woman once, but they see this as a joke. However, if there are serious women out there who aren’t getting younger, I will be happy to offer them advice. One of my coaches did run into a woman who taught women how to attract guys. Personally, my quick thoughts are: makeup, dress a certain way, hygiene, proximity to guys, and if you are so bold, approach guys yourself.
e.j. swept e.j.
Are you familiar with, or part of TheMindSet.co (a fairly blatantly objectifying and sexist site in my personal opinion)? Yes I am. They have a head coach I’ve met who is a pretty good-looking, tall white dude. He boasts a great success rate. Their founder went to one of my boot camps.
Do you think the uproar about the PUA presence at the Eaton Centre has been blown out of proportion? I think it has. I think, depending on how many PUAs RSVP to an event, obviously five guys all approaching the same girl is a bit too obvious and comes across as more of a prank than anything else. Women who are just approached 60 seconds ago, will assume guys are up to something.
What do you say to those who think the idea of PUAs is creepy? I think some are indeed creepy. Some guys who keep walking with a girl after is creepy. However, if it’s two people just happening to walk the same way and it’s a natural conversation, then the girl may actually want to talk and walk. For the most part, if the girl doesn’t stop once approached, you should move on. Similarly, guys
swept e.j. swept e.j.
trying to kiss girls right away at venues aside from bars and clubs, I think may be a bit much depending on the girl.
Why did you become a pickup artist coach? I became a PUA after struggling to meet girls. I was not allowed to date in high school. In university, I would basically live at university in hopes to fill that void and meet someone. I tried to go to some school clubs or events such as open mic and movie nights but without the specific skill of approaching women and able to ask them out to coffee with consistency, I was hopeless. I was so bold and stuck that I went up to a random guy in a mall who actually showed me some approaches of women. After, I used to specifically go to the school with the intent to meet a special girlfriend. I was bold enough, or so I thought, to do approaches on the bus, subway, etc. However, the intent was fine, but I just didn’t know that I could make it simple and say “Quick question: would you like to go for coffee sometime” (and cushion it with a joke). Once my conversation skills were very strong, things began to change.
Where do PUAs tend to approach women? Malls, clubs, buses, subways, Madison Pub, Aria Complex…basically anywhere.
Would you consider other ways for people to meet? Dating sites, or maybe the girl can break down your front door…oh that’s right…they don’t. Girls hitting on you…nope. I’ve even had girls ‘freeze’ in front of me, pretending to check their phone, or walking by like five times, in hopes to be approached. But without proper skills from someone experienced, you tend to chicken out.
Swept Interview a Toronto Pickup Artist Coach
Do you teach anything aside from pickup and conversation skills? I encourage guys to approach women in their daily life. Not necessarily go out and sarge (pickup women). Put yourself out there. My school counsellor herself told me “step outside of your comfort zone”. I CRUSHED my comfort zone.
Is there any formal training for one to become a pickup artist? Nope, just my own experience. If people want to call it a scam or hoax, they are more than welcome. But for $80 for three hours, money-back guaranteed, there’s not much to lose. After that rather eye-opening email interview, I had a chat with U of T student and Eaton Centre employee, Becky, and asked her to weigh in on the topic.
What is your initial reaction to PUAs? becky
The idea makes me uncomfortable. I’ve seen and heard a lot about PUAs and it seems like a really predatory enterprise to me.
Do you think this is a harmful thing to “train” men for?
Totally. Not just because there’s inherent sexism in it (teaching me to ‘hunt’ women, or that all women behave and respond in the same way), but because I think teaching men that they need to act a certain way, and not be themselves or honest, is dangerous for the men themselves, and not just the women they’re going after. Especially if some of the guys who learn from PUAs are socially awkward or insecure.
Would it be OK if both women and men were doing it? If a man and a woman are looking for the same thing, and pickup artistry gets them that thing, and they do it together, who am I to judge? I think it’s all about who one is doing it to/with and why, rather than who’s doing it.
What do you think will be the longterm repercussions of this PUA movement? I honestly don’t know. I’m an idealist, so I’d like to think that hopefully any guy out there who feels like he needs PUA to get what he wants, will realize he doesn’t really need PUA, and then the movement will just fade out. But again, I’m an idealist.
What would you say to a “head coach” of PUAs, if you had the opportunity?
I would just have a lot of questions. Why do you think this is a good idea? Why do you think you should teach this? Don’t you think you’re being unfair or disrespectful toward women?
I also wonder about the seeming disrespect toward women: the simple assumptions many of these PUAs make in just how women act, and just what they want. If all it takes is personal experience to pick up this type of artistry, then I should be able to note, by my own personal experience, that no one woman is the same as another; indeed no one person is the same as another (not even identical twins). I should like to say that these men seem either to be very insecure or very attracted to maximum gratification with minimal effort, but then I would be generalizing just as much as they seem to generalize women. Each of these, I hesitate to say, artists, is their own person, and each one of those people has a certain reason for doing what they do. Whether or not what they do is right depends on many factors that not only we, the onlookers holding the judge’s cudgel, can determine: these men must also sort out just what is right, as well. To escape a debate on objective right or wrong, I’ll leave it to Becky to close, in reiteration: “If a man and a woman are looking for the same thing, and pickup artistry gets them that thing, and they do it together, who [are we] to judge? I think it’s all about who one is doing it to/with and why, rather than who’s doing it.”
“I just wake up really early, drink a lot of green tea, and listen to good music to keep me motivated,” said Dalvi about how he manages to keep up with his schedule.
“When you’re DJing you have the ability to create not only your own sound, but [also] impact a large amount of people and make them walk away saying ‘Wow! That was a great show. I want to see Prat play again,’” added Dalvi. “And supporting local DJs is a wicked thing you can do..”
Toronto DJ Doing More Than Just Spinning Tracks Prat Dalvi, a multitasking Toronto-based DJ and music producer, wakes up every day with the intention of further building his music career and the different businesses he is involved in. Dalvi is the chief managing officer of Ichie Apparel, a Toronto-based casual wear clothing line, a former junior operations representative with the Toronto Frosh Festival, a brand ambassador for Diamond Integrated Marketing, and a promoter and junior coordinator for Evolve, a branch of Embrace, a Toronto-based events company. With Ichie Apparel’s recent fall/winter 2013 clothing lineup release and a merchandise photo shoot to go along with it, Dalvi has had no problem keeping busy.
“My goal is to one day DJ around the world. We already have global sales at Ichie…Next up is America,” said Dalvi. This Mumbai-born Toronto resident began taking his career as a DJ more seriously after realizing his passion for music and mixing while working with local DJ and producer KTRON. “Slowly, as I got more involved with the music industry I realized that because I have such a passion for music and the Toronto community, I wanted more of a chance to be behind the turntables versus behind the scenes throwing the events,” said Dalvi about how he first got into DJing. Dalvi has worked his way from practicing his mix sets in front of friends in his home to spinning at some pretty recognizable Toronto events and venues, like Toronto Frosh Week, Gravity Sound Bar, and Product Nightclub. Dalvi spins mostly electronic dance music (EDM) and, without much surprise, views the world in the enthusiastic and bright perspective one would expect a dance music DJ to exude. What’s most refreshing about this 23-year-old entrepreneur is Dalvi’s own vision of his pursuit towards happiness and end goal. “Honestly, [it’s] to benefit society whether it be through music, through events that make people happy, through music that people enjoy or [making] clothing that people are comfortable in,” said Dalvi. “At the end of the day it’s about helping people that are less fortunate.”
On Dec. 20, Ichie Apparel merchandise made an appearance at the #GETYOURFLEXON event at Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa. To connect with Prat Dalvi for bookings or events, contact him at email@example.com, on Twitter @pratdalvi, or at www.facebook.com/prattalent.
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In our last issue from 2013, Swept features a photo journal of British Columbia's 'Highway thru Hell', looks at Harper's role in the Senate...