Valentine Manifestation

Tonight I was searching a video streaming site for something totally different when the giallo film The Perfume of the Lady in Black by Francesco Barilli came up in my results. Having just seen this recommendation from fellow surrealist DC online, I took the opportunity to watch it. One striking coincidence occurred. The film has a scene which features a music box containing a ballerina figurine, presented to the main character, Silvia, by an Alice-like incarnation of her childhood self. Silvia recognizes the figurine as one from her childhood because of its missing arm. The thing is… I had seen and photographed this exact ballerina figure in Ottawa. It was EXACTLY the same as one I had taken a photo of a while back while browsing a junk store. How exact? Not only the same make—the same arm is missing.

-JA, February 14, 2020

Photographed in Ottawa in May 2019

The Painter


“Pass me that tin of pigment,” the boy says.

“This one?” the woman asks, “With the skeleton hand on it?”

“That’s my bleach white,” the boy says, pouring what looks like egg whites onto a glass palette. “Best mixing white of any artist paint.”

“Is it safe?” the woman asks, watching him shake cloudy granules into the goo.

“As long as you’re not dumb. Sprinkle it in your eye and it’ll shrivel like salt on the jumbo slugs they harvest my slime-binder from.” He points to the sizzling ooze. “Undissolved, the raw pigment’s too big to worry about inhaling, so it’s safe.”

The woman watches him mull the fluid and powder together wearing some thick work gloves. The paste slowly turns to a white so intense it could cause snow blindness in the right lighting. “I always wondered why you needed a license to paint.”

“Oh, that’s nothing,” the boy says proudly, “Poison orange is basically an amalgam of toxic metals like they used to assassinate people during the great edification. You mix it two-to-one with pox green – the stuff the military breeds biological weapons from – bleach with white, and get a beautiful canary yellow.”

“Fascinating,” the woman exclaims.

Having scraped his white into a bowl and doused his palette with acid-wash, he adds another dollop of slime. “The other foundation paints are cannon purple, and oil black. The purple comes pre-emulsified so you’d need chemistry equipment to make bombs out of it. You mix and bleach with orange to get your reds and magentas, or green to get your blues and cyans.

The black is just your standard petroleum-by-product. Purists say that if you can’t get the right darks and dulls, you’re either over-glazing, over-bleaching, or not mixing your three non-bleaches right. Modern theory proves black expands the gamut and you can’t get certain shades and tones without it – besides making a painter’s life easier.”

The boy looks up from the next sizzling pile. “I don’t get to use it, though, because the ventilation isn’t good enough not to have to worry about asphyxiating on scentless fumes.”

“Safety first,” the woman says, but she’s glad to understand the fine arts just a little better.

On time-travel, metaphysics and language




“A time traveler jumps back in time to meet a colleague” – this sounds like the opening line of a joke, or a novel whose plot will work itself into paradoxical knots, but in reality it is a question. Or a series of questions. Which tense should be used? If the time traveler references the present, do they mean the time-point they left or the one they arrived at? If they are referring to a third person, at yet another point in time, what frame of reference should be used?

A culture steeped in time-travel, would require a whole new language: grammatically and syntactically unlike any other. This culture would not see time as “flowing” but as a something saltatory and harmonized, like beat-boxing. An elaborate dance with perfect synchronicity, but no plan and no conductor.

Presented here, a preserved portion of one of the most revered and seminal treatises of this culture. A meditation on the nature of reality and nothingness: The Vector of Malaniiät (this is our best effort to translate the meaning and phonemes into English)


– Sa’ad Hassan

A Disinvitation

Dear friends, taxidermists, lieutenants, and dachshunds of all stripes,

We would like to cordially disinvite you, your loved ones, everyone on the planet, and especially those of you with a smidgeon of non-conformist spirit in the Ottawa area, from attending the Ottawa Art Gallery’s new and sizzlingly contemporary hatchet job on Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. From September 14 2019 to February 9 2020, you and everyone you know will have the rare opportunity to miss this circus of misinformation, re-appropriation, and elegant corporate sponsorship. We especially encourage you to avoid thinking about how the exhibition “positions” Cahun and Moore “in dialogue with contemporary artists”. It is also suggested that you resist the urge to “express an expanded range of identities” beneath the massive glowing green sign of Simon’s department store, the exhibition’s #1 sponsor, who will no doubt be eager to supply you with all of the accessories you need to express those identities fully and with style.

(Incidentally, isn’t it amazing how the white cube architecture of the Ottawa Art Gallery and Simon’s department store are almost identical, both inside and outside?)

One white cube’s as good as another?

We would also like to encourage museum curators, art historians and academics of all flavours to continue their clever game of re-appropriation and neutralization of surrealism in the privacy of their own homes, and not in the open, where they are more likely to get their unhygienic backwash on public assets. “Guerilla marketing?” We have to clean up after you,  you know. While we are oh so pleased that you managed to “rediscover” Claude Cahun a good 80 years later than the rest of us, and that you have an incurable tendency to heave your theoretical effluvia all over everything that gives you the slightest prick of stimulation, we recommend treating this not as an opportunity to expose your indecent career growth to the masses but rather as a pathology which should be treated with the hushed whispers and concerned silences that it deserves.

We feel for you, we really do. We all smile and pat you on the head when you insist how your little show “challenges us to consider the ways in which everyday gestures, language, objects, and styles serve to construct and dismantle our sense of identity.” That’s very good. Did you write that all by yourself? Let’s put it on the fridge!

We ask that all real rebels, queerfolk, nonconformists, occultists, and other disenfranchised dreamers who cannot and will not accept corporate sponsorship and academic benediction into their lives to consider instead the living body of surrealism, and actual living surrealists, who continue the legacy of Cahun and Moore in their refusal to integrate with the speculative market-mess that is the contemporary art world. Fuck the vernissages and the theoretical jargon, there’s a world of chance and dreams out there to explore…

Your pals,

The Ottawa Surrealist Group

September 2019.

PS. Some recommended activities in lieu of attending corporate art shows:

  • Staring down a sewer grate
  • Starting a tooth-decay appreciation society
  • Competitive door-punching


Res gestae

In celebration of all the wonderful careerists out there who never fail to take a hot second to promote their accomplishments, it’s the

Res gestae game!

Build a list of deeds, accomplishments, victories, etc. by each contributing one and then folding over. Afterwards, scrutinize the CV and provide a guess at the person being eulogized.

Played by JA, SH, L, PP


I became a creative masseuse by putting chopsticks in the ears of my clients while screeching “Harder? Harder!!!?”

My ears have electrical outlets. The voltage and shape conforms to the Slovenian standard.

I planted a tree at the center at the center of the earth at the center… I can’t remember. Trees…. Why… What did I do? It wasn’t a tree. I have a disease.

I challenged Dracula to a game of rock-paper-scissors and then threw in a cross.

-The Medical Education of Dr. Van Helsing


I tamed the screaming eyelash with a song of passion and flowers.

I used advanced gelatin mould making to form a wormhole into other times, galaxies, dimensions.

I designated the flavour that we associate with the color red.

I gave birth to ten mini-putt goblins who can fly by pooping.

-Deeds of the Galactic Amusement Park Designer


I made a circle with my fingers and squished the faces of my enemies while sitting in the relative safety of a coffee shop.

I was able to train 12 puppies how to dive underwater. The toilet flushed only 10 of them. Two survived.

I proposed a popular theory that overturned the big bang: the slimy lick.

I strangled everyone who’s ever stuttered, bringing sexual delight to many oppressed paraphiliacs.

-Memoirs of a Heroic Deviant


I performed the ritual of transubstantiation on the entire nation in order to get the polity to vote right last election.

I made the world’s most acidic tapioca pudding.

I became lord of the AutoZoids of planet Zearth.

I laughed in the face of a corpulent tuba player.

-Deeds of the Political Alchemist


I gave birth to a tangerine, an event which the press dubbed the “citroyen conception”.

I erased all the foul language from the world’s graffiti with my trusty foetus-cannon.

I asked for change and received a bag full of diamonds and spanish doubloons.

I can regurgitate plutonium spitballs at seagulls. When they eat them they explode chicken finger delights!

-Life of the Lucky Abortionist


I found a warm soft hole to crawl into at night while lolly-pop sucking any object I can find.

I won first place in a mirror punching contest.

I bought turkey dinners for every dog in the world.

I have the most rigid belly fat in all of Michigan.

-Hallelujah! I’m a bum


I have the flappiest foreskin amongst all the shriners.

I can drive a car with one wheel while in bed dreaming of NASCAR.

I made a romantic conquest using only a sockpuppet and my wits.

I produced every possible 10,000 character pamphlet.

-The Shrine-Keeping Shriner


I cured humanity of literacy using advanced computer hacking and social media brainwashing to convince them they were reading and writing.

I dangled my feet into the pond of emergent hilarity.

I became anxious while in a relaxation yoga class. That toad I licked made me see yogi bears on the mats.

I designed a pashmina made from living, enraged right-wing politicians.

-The Silicon Valley Identity Crisis

A translation of Baudelaire’s Au Lecteur

An unorthodox translation by Lake.

You sods, errors, pissers, and lesions

Occupy our souls and travel through our corpses.

As our ailment are to our amiable re-death,

the cum of menders nourishes their vermin.

Our peach’s son, the fetus, we repent as son of leeches;

We in our phases pay grass-cement for our view

And we rend the gayness along the roads to barbarism.

Credit for a devil’s raining lavatories are our torches,

On the oilier of the evils that are sat upon by Three-reigns

Who barks longingly at our spirit’s enchantment

And the rich metal of our own violence

Is all vaporised by that savage chimney

It’s the devil who taints the girls among our remains;

Axes, objects repugnant to our troves of bees,

Chuck days against our infernal descendants passed,

Without horror, but traversing the tame beast they pounded

From our cervical malignancy comes millions helmeted,

Grilling chants and repostes on people as demons

And great in our respirations, death in our apples

Sickly engrossed, cum on flowers, with sordid plaints.

Such is the way – poison, poignant and burning –

Our own parts in cores bred by their pleasing designs

The cadaver banal before our pitious destinies

This is our love, for hell!-No ashes hardening.

Mighty perms like charcoal, like panthers’ lice

They, singe less scorpions, less vultures, less serpents,

The monsters galloping, sands hurled groaning in rampage

In the menagerie infamous for our vices.

This one is much laid, much menacing, much unworldly.

Quick are his fascistic and great gestures near great cries.

He, ferocious, voluntarily deals the earth’s debris

Towards a baleful and avaricious world

It’s ennui! The oil charging the rain’s involutions.

It raves of echoed feuds that fume for their hooker.

You who know, lecture the monster’s delicacy.

Hyopocrite lecher in my likeness, you are my friend!

At the Metal Creamery


A little girl exclaims, “nothing creamier than metal”, and you know with steely certainty she is right.

At the metal creamery, the befreckled boy behind the counter dollops more palladium on your cone. The girl pulls taffy manganese and twines it into a sloppy cat’s cradle while jealously eyeing the aurum caramel being ribboned on your order.

“Caramelized in the hinterlands, from cows fed a traditional diet of strontium-90” croons Freckles right before he extravagantly and practicedly sweeps his hands across the counter: “tantalum licorice bits, and mango cobalt, untampered hafnium (organic of course!), pudgy, polonium-milk balls and arsenic lased with risperidone are all hot this month”. The girl shrieks and adds “GERMANY”, before her mother corrects her with “zested germanium sorbet fluffed with argon”. Bemused, the mother looks at you directly before continuing “we brought my mum here for her 77th birthday and they both couldn’t get enough of it… especially those flavored mercury petals” and then sighs a little. You chuckle and say, “I always get the same thing!” before asking for a tungsten-stick on the side and “more rhenium please”. The little girl perks up again, and her mother whispers to her “the rhenium is just flavorless garnish”.

You hear the fwoosh! of a magnesium torch come from the kitchen, right before an elaborate confection is wheeled out. The chief baker tisks carefully as she circles her opus. A purest-platinum, ice-cream cake with blinding, lit-magnesium muslin creeping like vines over it. Sleepy iris flowers shaped from an alloy of caesium and chalk droop from the top tier. Inside each flower, a living violet exhales a glittering, osmium pollen that lingers in the air. Asbestos mottling for contrast of course, and a gelled uranium daiquiri en-wombed (but still visible) at the cake’s centre; pulsing with a subtle, foetal Cherenkov radiation. The whole thing sits on a red and satiny, iron pedestal. The baker dips a single finger into the iron and frowns, “whisked to perfection…,” right before drawing herself up to her full height and proudly asking “would you like to try?” The mother holds her squirming daughter back while staring dumbfounded at the cake. You barely work-up the presence of mind to nod.

The clerk scurries into the back and returns with plates and a knife. The baker deftly cuts a piece and presents it to you with a curious look in her eye. You take a bite, and as you chew, you feel it lubriciously peel away the first layer of your mouth’s inner skin. The sudden gush of blood on your tongue pairs perfectly with the delicate flavors. And the effortless lancing of your cheeks by the irises adds a new dimension. The baker studies you and then permits herself a small understanding smile, “copper and salt, as flavors, are best when only implied.” Your eyes close to fully savor the experience as DNA damage spritzes its tiny citrus sparks through your body.

The metal creamery has done it again!

  • Sa’ad Hassan