Archives for posts with tag: Rob Wipond

HAZMAT

It’s a peaceful place, where I live. I hear only the sound of my breathing through the respirator, and the crinkling of the fabric as I clomp along.
It’s a safe place, too. I’m completely protected. Yes, it’s not unlike being born again in the arms of paradise. And it’s all thanks to my Level A, government-certified, hazardous material emergency response suit.
I can see you out there, since the glass mask has a built-in anti-misting agent. I can’t feel you, though, through this impenetrable insulation. The only thing I really feel is the ice-pack on my chest, there to keep me from overheating like a beached, black clam. Your voice isn’t wired to my radio, but I can imagine what you’re asking.
Why are you wearing that thing?
This is your stupefying insensitivity exhibiting itself.
Have you looked around lately? Our homes: paint, insulation, glues, shingles, plaster, carpets. Inside our homes: cleansers, refrigerants, microwaves, pesticides, plastics. Every office, store and industrial operation: inks and toners, dyed nylon clothes, hormone shampoos, radioactive electronics components… and all of this constantly being transported by land, sea and air — being carried by motorized vehicles that are themselves aggregations of deadly, malingering toxins.
This expertly designed, state-of-the-science suit allows me to deal with all this. Comfortably. Without shocks. Without worry. Think of it like sunglasses and sunscreen, or air filters. Just one of the latest wise trends in protective insulation against our environment.
And remember: when you’re in trouble, I’ll be the one coming to help you.
You’ll be horrified when you first see me, of course.
Because as I bravely gather you up in my arms of hypalon, neoprene, butyl, PVC and viton, you’ll think I’m an alien from another planet.
Because you’ll sense the agonizing irony in the fact that I’m a walking collection of toxic materials myself, born in a factory that excretes its own hazardous sludge.
But most of all because you’ll know that if the only other person near you is wearing a suit like mine, then you must be doomed. The poison must already be in you. You must have no chance of ever awakening from the nightmare. This will be your Moment of Realization.
If you survive, of course, you will learn to like this suit. What other choice do you have?

® Rob Wipond, 2014

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I first saw Rob Wipond on stage. He was lithe and he had a hugely expressive face: expansive mouth, actor’s eyes, and a haircut I’ve only ever seen in the 21st Century on the head of Weird Al Yankovich. And when he recited, it was the roar of a challenge. The young always take on The Man, and for most of us then, that meant a corporation or a government or the administration of the university – easy targets to hit – but not Rob. Rob hurled it out, fists in the air, body bending like a dancer’s: “Break Down the Establishment … of Rock and Roll!” And by the end of it, Rock looked bloated, out of touch with its outcast roots and grown too used to its own hard-earned, easy life. It was excoriating and beautiful. After Rob came off the stage, Ian David Arlett, as big from the stage as anyone I’d seen, bowed to him as to a prince. I’ve stayed in touch with Rob, on and off, ever since. Our current conversation began when I had a student who reminded me of him, the first such person I’d met in the over 30 years, and I wanted some advice on how to help my student keep that fire in him alive in a world that does its best to dowse such human fires. Rob is much more the journalist now, taking his insights to articles and videos – check these out (robwipond.com or Rob Wipond on YouTube) – and you’ll experience there that same voice I heard 40 years ago: full of the satirist’s love for humanity mixed with sadness at its tragic failings, channeled, as in all great poets, into pushing the language as far as it will go.

Richard Harrison, Sept, 2014

 

<Rob Wipond brings the edge!>

This year’s blog has been devoted to communicating the energy and love of poetry that was the fountainhead all the Peterborough Poets drank from. It was from within us, renewed by us, and shared freely between us. We have all written lots since, and on this blog, we try to convey how and what it was. There’s more to tell. But for once, words aren’t necessary. Michael Dennis intro’s Ian and Ian begins. Both Michael, Rob Wipond and I have tried to give you some idea of who Ian was. But we are only mirrors. Here is Ian, at his best. Please stick with it for the second poem; if you haven’t the patience go to 2:23 to hear “The Soul’s Deepest Song is of Love”. I assure you — it is worth it.
(Incidentally, if you ever think to read your work in public — study this — notice: no paper, no reading — performance. That’s what you do when you are in front of an audience.)

 

I remember Ian Arlett as brilliant, funny, and inherently deeply wacky; basically, he had my favourite combination of personality traits in a person. He was often reciting things, and when I asked how he could possibly remember so many long sequences of poetry or prose in such detail he said, “It’s easy when you love it.”

For decades afterwards I thought often about one particular recounting of an article he’d shared with me. It must’ve been around 1981. The internet had only reached select universities by then in a pure text format. And every time I wanted to write something on my own computer, I had to take a couple minutes to re-load my entire word processing program from a 5.5 inch floppy disk onto my computer before I could start.

That was the technological context when Ian told me about an interview he’d read with a former chief of the KGB, the infamous secret-service paramilitary police force that some thought actually ran the Soviet Union for many years. This KGB chief had been asked how he would create the perfect police state, said Ian. That would be very easy, the KGB chief had answered; he would simply require everyone to use a credit card for practically everything, and then network all computers everywhere together. “That way you’ll know where everyone is all the time and exactly what they’re doing,” the KGB chief had explained. Ian evidently thought that notion was significant and concerning enough to recount and impress it upon me.

And today it’s clear to me that Ian had always had another personality trait I really like: he was capable of insight into humanity and society to the point of being prophetic.

© Rob Wipond, 2014

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