Thursday, January 19, 2017

Notes from Bologna (Part One)

Watching my spouse learn Italian in Bologna this week reminds me of my experience immersing myself in Italian many years ago as a young man. Learning a new language requires that a person deconstructs oneself and then, consciously, puts oneself back together again in new way.

Words are simply movements of the lungs, throat, tongue, and mouth that collaboratively make sounds associated with language. Our parents taught us through example how to make these sounds. The sounds specific to speaking a language are not instinctive, not like walking or standing. Instead, our ability to manipulate sound to produce language was learned when we were children. Over the years, our learned patterns of movement that we call words became the foundation of our world and formed our identity.

Immersing in a new language forces us into childhood once again. Our words, those inherited movement patterns, no longer serve us. We can no longer rely on our learned method of making sound. To speak a new language, we must retrain our mouth and our tongue to move differently in conjunction with the lungs, throat and vocal cords. In Italian, for example, the tongue becomes quite active against the upper palette and front teeth, and the throat becomes more relaxed. Essentially, we become young children again learning to vocalize.

Dance, sports, exercise are all languages. Like speech, they all require collaborative movement patterns. To be successful in any of these languages, the body must be retrained slowly and carefully. As a former ballet dancer, I trained daily to produce movement fluidly and efficiently. It is not a form that can be picked at randomly. Like a second language, ballet requires constant training of the body.

I chose to be a personal trainer, not to help people lose weight quickly or to muscle up for the next beach season. I want people to retrain their bodies, to find a new language of movement that is beneficial to staying strong and healthy beyond age fifty, sixty, seventy, or even eighty years of age. This language may not be based on the learned movement patterns of childhood. It may require a slow catechism of physical forms to train the body. For this reason, I encourage my clients to set goals in the short term, but to think in the long term.

Exercise is language.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Elections, Immigration, and Order (An open Letter)

To my friends to the south,

The recent United States election has many of you in the Leather community looking northward. Many have proclaimed, "I am going to immigrate to Canada!" Having recently immigrated to Canada, I can vouch for the expense and the difficulty in moving to this beautiful country. I can also attest to the fact that Canada is not the United States; this country has its own culture and its own values. Whereas the principles of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" guide the compass of America, "Peace, Order, and Good Government" are the foundational values of all Canadians. In the United States, an individual's freedom is held aloft as the ethical measure, but in Canada, "The Charter of Rights and Freedoms" emphasizes the importance of living together in harmony and peace.

Sadly, I am overwhelmed by the intolerance within my community. Many people seem so focused on defining themselves, their titles, and their rights, that they forget how to be part of a social group. Often, their selfish statements are reserved for social media posts where the electronic device, like a mask, can hide the faces of these individuals. Emboldened by the mask, they berate others for not using the right words, the correct terms, the latest phrases, or proper titles. By doing so, these people undermine any sense of community.

Some suggestions regarding how to catalyze change. Kinder words will always hold sway over harsh ones. Showing patience and understanding will encourage better communication, whether in person or on social media. Anger will never convince others to change their opinions. And humility, that near absent virtue in contemporary society, will always introduce future dialogue.

My American friends, before you debate immigrating north, I would recommend that you understand the basic principles of the Canadian "Charter of Rights and Freedoms." Begin the immigration process by seeing yourselves as part of a greater community. Explore ways to encourage peace within that community, that is, our Leather community. And stop worrying so much about how you are labeled, defined, or addressed.

And to my non-American readers, the same principles apply. Support the Leather community by being less defensive about yourselves.


SIR Hugh, an Ex-Pat Pollyanna!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

BLUF is in the Details

Dressing in BLUF gear requires that a man surrenders to a dress code

that sets apart those who love Breeches and Leather Uniform. The strictness of the code defines the discipline that a BLUF man displays in relation to his second skin. Details regarding accessories to the requisite Uniform can take on extreme importance to a BLUF man: jacket type, boot maker, glove style, cut of the shirt, shape of the breeches' thigh, and, most especially, well-tailored fit of every Uniform piece. These details inform other BLUF men about the man who has respectfully surrendered himself to the code.

In a similar fashion, the upcoming BLUF events in Vancouver, British Columbia, include a number of details that will make participants' experience more satisfying.

  • The Mitchells are hosting an "Cards Against Humanity" event on Friday night, November 11, for those who are participating in the BLUF events. This event will be at their home, a chance to socialize. No BLUF dress code for this event. Light refreshments provided. To learn more, contact either SIR Hugh or Doug on Facebook, or via email at: Please notify the hosts in advance; no exceptions!
  • For those out-of-town gentlemen who go the gym, Denman Fitness is our gym of choice. Admission is a minimal $9 when accompanied by one of your in-town hosts.
  • If you are arriving by bus or train and staying in Davie Village, Bus #23 is an inexpensive mode of transportation that takes you right down Davie Street. The buses run on a regular basis. The bus stop is located across the street from the station.
  • If arriving by plane, the Sky Train from the airport takes you directly downtown. Get off at the "Yaletown - Roundhouse" stop, head up the stairs, and walk ten minutes to Davie Village. Or take the #23 bus that stops close by.
  • If your Vancouver hosts can assist in answering any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

I am looking forward to meeting up with other BLUF aficionados in the area next weekend. There is nothing that I like more than going through the ritual of dressing in Gear in anticipation of an event: Boot socks, Breeches, shirt, boots, Sam Browne, tie, Muir Cap, gloves, and, finally, meticulously chosen items that subtly set me apart from other BLUF men.

To a great weekend of Fetish and Brotherhood here in Vancouver, BC!

In Leather,

SIR Hugh