Elmore Leonard, Richard Margison & The GentlemanSaturday, May 27, 2006
In 1997 I had to photograph for the Globe & Mail, Victoria tenor Richard Margison. He was in Vancouver in preparation for his role as Manrico in the Vancouver Opera production of Verdi's Il Trovatore. It was fun to watch him become Manrico while beeing fitted for his coat. The Globe arts writer, not an expert on opera, was Christopher Dafoe. I have worked with many writers in my 30 years in Vancouver and there are two qualities that Dafoe had that still stand out. Before I define those qualities I would like to point out that Dafoe is very much alive except that he is no longer a journalist. He graduated from the UBC Law School and he is now clerking at the Supreme Court. Chris's two qualities were his ability to say very little during interviews. His subjects opened up to this gentle technique. Watching Chris watch Elmore Leonard eat a hamburger at the Lazy Gourmet was special. Leonard forgot he was being interviewed. Dafoe was, above all, a kind man and a kind reviewer who never insulted any of his subjects in print. That is more that I can say about other local writers. One movie reviewer, over his head and confusing movies with opera, reviewed Margison's excellent Manrico for a local weekly. He called Margison a "beach ball with a toupee." When I read that I was ashamed to be a Vancouverite.