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I was offered $30 a week to tear down your posters, $100 to break your legs and $1,000.00 to kill you,” said a man living in a tent beside a construction site on the northwest side of Queen Street at Peter Street in Toronto just before Christmas to Reg Hartt.

Hartt had seen him walking with Martin Heath who runs CINECYCLE in Toronto. While some think Hartt and Heath are rivals actually they have a friendship that dates back to the 1970s and Rochdale College. Rochdale College celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Its doors opened in September 1968.It started out as an 18 floor student residence. Along the way Rochdale morphed into the boldest experiment in alternate education ever undertaken anywhere. There were no teachers at Rochdale. Each person who lived there was called to be their own teacher. When Hartt first heard of Rochdale he knew none of this. What he did know was the name of a woman some people from Rochdale who had come to a presentation at his alternate performance space, THE PUBLIC ENEMY, mentioned. Hartt, then 22, had named his space THE PUBLIC ENEMY because he was a homosexual. At that time homosexuality was illegal in Canada. Homosexuals were viewed as Public Enemy Number One.

Hartt had yet to be introduced to the art, films and ideas and poetry of Jean Cocteau. He had, however, adopted whole heartedly without ever having heard it Cocteau’s statement, “Whatever the world condemns you for make it your own. It is yourself.” That is why Hartt called his space THE PUBLIC ENEMY. He refused to be ashamed of who he was. At that time the Toronto police routinely picked up known homosexuals, took them to Cherry Beach and beat them nearly to death. Anyone who thinks things have changed ought to remember that the police obey the laws that are written to the letter. All it takes to take us back to those dark days is the stroke of a politician’s pen.

Hartt had been called queer practically from the time he could toddle.

His father was an angry man. His earliest memory is that of huddling on the floor while his father chases his mother around the small house they lived in with the intent of beating the Hell out of her. Hartt’s father never liked him. Hartt learned why many years later in the 1990s in Toronto when his Dad lived with him. One night when Hartt took his father and friends out to see a concert at a bar Hartt street postered for when they were both drunk beyond drunk Hartt’s Dad turned and said, “I have hated you from the moment you were born for in that second I realized I had to die.”

That statement made Hartt love his father. His Dad was in his late teens when he married his mother. She was sixteen. His Dad was Roman Catholic. His mother was Anglican (Church of England).

A marriage between two people of those faiths was at that time more shunned than a marriage between two people of different skin colors.

Hartt was born a mongrel.

There has been a war against Reg Hartt from the instant he came into the world.

The day after he was told this Hartt was interviewed by one of Canada’s top journalists, Michael Valpy, who wrote for THE GLOBE AND MAIL. Hartt told Valpy what his father had said the night before. Valpy replied, “First born sons.”

In that instant Hartt realized this is something common to fathers. The Greeks knew it. That is why in their myths the father of the gods ate his children so that they would not outlive him. Of course, eventually, the children, to live, had to murder their father. Those Greeks knew a lot more than most give them credit for.

All that said, Hartt had a terrific childhood. He grew up in a small coal mining town, Minto, in New Brunswick. He lived just below the top of a hill called Hartt’s Hill named after his father’s family who were among the town’s elite. While Hartt’s uncle Douglas Hartt rose to become Director General of Public Works Canada under Pierre Trudeau Hartt’s father was the black sheep of that Irish Catholic family.

In 1968 Hartt brought a fellow slightly younger than himself home one night. He had been walking home drunk. He sat down in the middle of a park, Queen’s Park (often at the time called Queer’s Park). The younger man had come along. Hartt spoke with him. The youngman asked if one could sleep in the park. Hartt told him he could get arrested for being a vagrant.

He asked why he need to sleep in the park. The youngman, whose name was Bruno, said, “I had a fight with my father. He told me, ‘My way or the highway.’ I chose the highway.”

His words made Hartt instantly fall in love with him.

Hartt said, “You can come with me but before you do you should know that I am sleeping on the balcony of a one bedroom apartment filled with many people all of whom are homosexuals. None of them, including me, will bother you but you should know that before you walk in.”

“I would like to go with you,” said Bruno.

Hartt had not really looked at Bruno when they first met. It was dark. It was hard to see him clearly. When they walked into the apartment everyone was astonished. Bruno was an extremely good looking young man. Hartt had not responded to Bruno’s looks. He had responded to his need thus he had no problem when everyone in the apartment, at least six people, instantly made moves on Bruno. Hartt said to himself, “I told this man I would not bother him. If he wants to go with one of these people that is his business.”

“You know, I have never done this before,” said Bruno when Hartt and he were alone on the cott on the balcony.

Hartt replied. “As far as I know you are not doing it now.”

“You do not understand. I want to,” said Bruno.

Bruno was the first person who came into Hartt’s life who loved him.

In 2004 when Hartt went to see SPIDERMAN 2 with friends a strange feeling came over him as the movie started. That feeling made everything in the movie seem utterly banal.

Hartt knew he had to get up and leave the theater. He did not know why. He bicycled home thinking perhaps something terrible had happened there.

Everything was fine when he got him.

Nonetheless, he felt as if something great had left his life.

The next day Hartt got a phone call. The caller said, “Reg, I am Bruno’s sister. Bruno passed away yesterday. He died thinking of you.”

Our last thoughts when we die are of the person in our life who loved us without condition if we are lucky enough to have such a person in our life.

Bruno and Hartt were together for only half a year. That year was 1968. Thirty years later the connection between them that had been made that night remained unbroken.

Bruno had taken Hartt to a party. There Hartt saw a man reading a book that attracted him. Known for his work with film Hartt is unusual in film because he loves to read. He asked the man, “What are you reading?”

“An ancient Chinese oracle. It is called THE I CHING,” said the man.

The next day Hartt bought the first of many copies of it. It was The Richard Wilhelm edition  .

From it Hartt learned that when a man confronts Death he has one of three reactions. The first is that he turns to religion. The second is that he turns to drink. The third is that he accepts his fate and becomes a teacher.

So that night when Hartt’s father said to him, “I have hated you from the moment you were born as in that second I realized I had to die,” Hartt understood all the years of his father’s rage. He loved his father all the more in that moment. It might have taken a helluva lot of booze to bring that truth out however it had come out.

The power of the truth is that though our sins be scarlet the truth washes them white.

“I reject that,” a police officer said to Hartt.

At once Hartt knew which camp this fellow belonged in.

It was not that of the piece of trash from Galilee who first spoke those words. It was not that of the am haarez who was so hated by men who thought themselves fine in his day. It was not that of the man hung from the tree on Calvary’s hill. It was not that of the man whose image, not created by the hand of man, is seen on the authorized replica of The Shroud of Turin that hangs in the hallway of Hartt’s Toronto home   .

Bruno Weckerle was a musician. He was an organist. Shortly after he met Hartt that night Bruno was asked to join the band LEIGH ASHFORD:

“Can you sleep in the park?” a young man asked Reg Hartt in 1968?” ” Hartt replied, “You might get arrested. Why?” “My father said, ‘my way or the highway.'” “Come with me,” Hartt told him. Through him, by chance, Hartt discovered THE I CHING. He has devoted his life to living its ideas.

Jesus was dirt poor.

Reg Hartt came to Toronto with nothing.

Reg Hartt has had an amazing impact given the size of the venue and the esoteric nature of the programming. He’s had an incredible impact on the city. No one else is doing it. No one else has ever done it.”–Rob Salem.

Salem is right. Few people realize how deep that impact has been.

Strangely enough thanks to the animus of mainstream Christianity against homosexuals Hartt’s strength comes from Jesus who said, “You shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake.

When Hartt first seriously thought about those words he said to himself, “Well, if I accept Jesus nothing will change. I already am hated. This is a better reason than all the rest.”

That night was in 1980. Shortly after that night Hartt meditated on LSD on the Kingdom of God. As he thought about God he realized that if God actually existed God is all there is. Everywhere God looks there is nothing but God. In that moment Hartt realized that God, if God exists, is the loneliest being of all beings for God has no equal, no friend, no lover, no partner.

As that realization came over him it was followed by a coldness colder than cold. The cold became unbearable. Then the cold became unbearably unbearable. Then when Hartt felt he could no longer contain the cold he felt a great warmth as if someone had wrapped him in  the warmest possible blanket. From within him a still small voice said, “You are mine. I love you.”

The power of love is such that it can stand up to and allow itself to be destroyed by hate. It does this because to not do it is to become the hated thing.

The power of love is that on the third morning of the day love lies murdered it breaks forth in a blazing light from the ground in which it lies tombed.

Love, true love, has all the power of an event horizon:      .

“I don’t believe this shit!” says the world.

That’s nothing new.

In THE LAST JUDGMENT The Lord says to the damned, “You saw me homeless, you saw me hungry, you saw me naked, you saw me sick, you saw me in prison, you passed me by.”

The damned reply, “When did we that to you?’

The Lord replies, “When you did it to the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it to me.”

“I was offered $30 to tear down your posters, $100 to break your legs, $1,000 to kill you,” said the homeless man to Reg Hartt.

Hartt, who already had more people living with him than the bylaws of Toronto allow, said, “I have an empty room. Do you want it?”

“You are offering me a home!?!” said the man.

Hartt said, “Yes.”

–May 28, 2018, 7:14 am.

The shroud of Turin, Italy. Negative-Positive image of the shroud showing the face of a man. The shroud contains the image of a crucified man, believed by many to be Jesus Christ.

Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them…. for really new ideas of any kind–no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be–there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.
–Jane Jacobs. THE CINEFORUM is located in Reg Hartt’s home. THE LONELY PLANET places it among the top places to see in Ontario. It is an old building.

Jane Jacobs was a regular at Reg Hartt’s programs from her arrival in Toronto in 1968.

Jane Jacobs wrote this. It is a powerful letter of endorsement and support.

Very few people got a fan letter from Jane Jacobs. Reg Hartt got several. “Everything you write is worth reading,” she wrote. Not one Canadian publisher have knocked on Reg Hartt’s door. Last year an American publisher did.

“My father told me, ‘I have hated you from the moment you were born as in that second I realized I had to die,” said Reg Hartt to Michael Valpy who replied, “First born sons.” Hartt knew then this is something common to fathers. It explains much.


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