The CBC & The Ties That Bind UsSunday, June 15, 2008
The CBC has not figured in a positive way in a couple of my blogs lately:
1.CBC Vancouver Orchestra.
2.Hockey Night In Canada Theme Song.
But I must attempt to go positive with this broadcasting corporation that has brought me so much pleasure, knowledge, friends and my first photographic job in Canada.
This positive story begins with a positive but negative contribution via an email remark on my Hockey Night In Canada blog. It came from Sharman King (seen here in a photograph I took for Quill & Quire in 1995. I have forgotten who the woman with him is who is holding Michael Cluckner's book.) who is both the owner of The Book Warehouse and a professional muusician who plays the trombone and the bass horn for the Vancouver Opera Symphony. Whenever I go to the opera I chat with him when I look down on the orchestra pit. Sharman King is a man with passion for music. And this is what he had to add on Dolores Claman's Hockey Night In Canada Theme Song:
I don't know if you will remember the original version of
the theme, orchestrated by Dolores' partner Jerry Toth. Arni
Chykoski, who grew up in New Westminster, was the lead
trumpet, arguably the best lead trumpet player in a big band
setting, ever. His last six notes of that original version
were simply stunning in their perfection and ring in my head
to this day.
In their search for a younger demographic (which they will
probably never attract) they're removing many of the ties
that bind us.
Sharman King has found the real reason why I am so upset with all the CBC changes. It is in that last paragraph. But:
When I first started taking pictures of variety shows at the CBC in the mid 70s I felt that I was an outsider as a free lancer. I was not part of an institution. There was no esprit de corps for me and I could not share the complaints (part of that institution!) of my new CBC friends about the "mother corporation". But friends like cameraman Michael Varga, other cameramen, or employees in lighting and staging made me feel at home. One of the places I felt at home at the CBC was the cafeteria. Through the years many attempts were made to improve the food in spite of the constant jokes about CBC cafeterias in Wayne & Shuster (I was a fan!). The food, at best was adequate. The company was special and the highlight was a Shadbolt triptych mural on the west wall. At first I didn't notice it but with familiarity I began to appreciate is happy colours.
The CBC cafeteria was finally closed and coverted into a radio studio. The Shadbolt vanished. Every once in a while I would ask but I was always given an, "I don't know answer." It may have been either Paul Grant or Michale Juk who passed on my request to the building manager. The man called me one day and took me to a basement where I saw the mural. He explained, "We currently have no room for it and it would be a pity to put in on one our many halways. They are too narrow for anybody to appreciate the mural. Don't worry it's safe with us and as soon as we find space for it, we will put it up. "
In any of the Latinamerican countries I have been in that mural would have ended its days in some executive's living room. It is a relief to be in Canada where there is still some accountability.
I believe that Vancouver is not kind or respectful to its architects. When the CBC Vancouver building was finished in the 70s it won its architect, Paul Merrick (working for the venerable city firm, Thompson Berwick and Pratt) a Governor General's award. I always liked the building even though many who had to work in it didn't. Now that the building is being "improved" and will have a condo attached to it, I hope room will be found to display that Jack Shadbolt mural. Not only will I smile but I am sure Sharman King will, too.