Alex Weimann's Fandango
Saturday, May 15, 2010
(De or. inc.).
1. m. Antiguo baile español, muy común todavía en Andalucía, cantado con acompañamiento de guitarra, castañuelas y hasta de platillos y violín, a tres tiempos y con movimiento vivo y apasionado.
Real Academia EspañolaFandango
1. Ancient Spanish dance, quite common still in Andalucía, sung with guitar and castanets accompaniment and sometimes with cymbals and violin, in three beats with a lively and passionate movement.
It is quite a journey that I took today Saturday. I went from Francisco Goya y Lucientes, via Juan Manuel Sanchez to Italian writer Andrea Camilleri, his Sicilian novel protagonist Salvo Montalbano to Barcelona-born novelist Manuel Vázquez Montalbán and his mystery sleuth Pepe Carvalho. Carvalho took me to Buenos Aires via St Augustine’s in Kitsilano where I heard the Pacific Baroque Orchestra play a concert that put it all together.
It was sheer pleasure and an agony because I could not share all the connections with anybody I know. My Argentine painter friend Juan Manuel Sanchez (who introduced me to the art of Goya) is now in Buenos Aires. This combination of pleasure (feeling lucky that I could experience it) and the resulting isolation left me reluctant to face my computer keyboard until now (it is Monday night and I cannot postpone it anymore).
Perhaps one of the finest films I have ever seen is Carlos Saura’s Goya En Burdeos
(Goya in Bordeaux) which I saw with Juan Manuel Sanchez (twice) in 1999. The film was gone in two weeks and the only available print in Vancouver can be obtained at Videomatica. If you are not into culture, art, a well crafted film that challenges your imagination then just to know that Maribel Verdú plays an extremely naked Duchess of Alba should be enough incentive to see this film.
The connection with all the other authors, sleuths and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (via its brilliant director, harpsichordist Alex [my tocayo
or namesake) Weimann) is through the fandango. An elegant periwigged orchestra is playing the third movement, Grave assai: Fandango of Lugi Bocherini’s (1743-1805) Quintet IV. This beginning is purely electrical and I sat straight in my seat. I was not to hear the piece again until tonight.
It was in the fall of last year that I attended the screening of a popular Italian TV series based on the novels of Sicilian author (he is in his 80s and writing like mad) which feature his Southern Sicily police detective Salvo Montalbano. I was so fascinated by the Italian TV film (I hour 50 minutes long) since it was far more intelligent and complicated than any of the Inspector Morse series I ever saw. The pace was nice and slow and there was little violence, lots of talking, lots of silence, plenty of eating and sex in bed European style (sexy but not overt). I was so enamored that I ended reading all the novels that have been translated into English up to now (about 14 of them). My friend, Patricia Hutter, down the street is also a fan so she purchased 14 episodes in the US and we have been savoring them, one at a time on Sunday nights. Her husband Robert serves us excellent English tea and we tease him threatening to tell him the endings.
I researched Andrea Camilleri and I found out that he has a deep admiration for Barcelona born novelist Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (he died in 2003). In honor of Montalbán, Camilleri called his gourmand policeman Salvo Montalbano. And just like Montalban’s sleuth, Pepe Carvalho is a gourmand, Salvo Montalbano spends a lot of time with lunch and dinner breaks at very good trattorias.
I made the decision that I had to read at least one Montalbán novel. I looked at the Vancouver Public Library’s on line catalogue and I was astounded to find that they had Quinteto Buenos Aires
and in Spanish! This novel (in spite of the title) was written in 1997 when Argentina was still living the agony of bringing back he perpetrators of the desaparecidos (the proceso as they call it in Argentina). The novel’s quintet features a man who dresses up as Robinson Crusoe, his man servant (a black man) Friday, a parrot, a llama and a woman sometimes called Bertha and sometimes Alma.
This novel I have been reading slowly because I savor each page. It has not been since I last re-read Ernesto Sábato’s Sobre Héroes y Tumbas
, that I have read a novel that so defines my former country, my former place of birth.
I sometimes make the irritating comment that some of the best popular Spanish music has been composed by a Cuban, (Ernesto Lecuona), a Mexican (Agustín Lara) or that some of the best symphonic music has been written by Frenchmen (Édouard Lalo and Georges Bizet) but I do believe now that one of the best Argentine novels ( Jorge Luís Borges never wrote one) has to be the Spanish Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s Quinteto de Buenos Aires (which, by the way has Ariel Borges as a protagonist and who purports to be Borges’s natural son).
Saturday night I decided to try something new. I brought along my novel and read while the Pacific Baroque Orchestra played its program of music featuring stuff that either was or might have been played at the court of Spanish king, Charles III.
The Pacific Baroque Orchestra suffered a severe shortfall because of the arts grant cuts. This concert was to be the last of the season and they had planned one with an extra large orchestra featuring oboes, trumpets, etc. Musical director, Alex Weimann had a choice. He either cancelled the program or severely curtailed the size of the orchestra. He went for the second choice and the orchestra Rosemary and I listend to on Saturday had two violins, one viola, one cello and one bass and or viola da gamba. Weimann directed and played the harpsichord which made do as the guitar for the Antonio Soler (1729 -1783) Fandango.
Suffice to say that Weimann’s re-thinking of the program ws brilliant and I was in heaven. At one point during the Soler fandango Weimann was snapping his fingers and hitting the top of his harpsichord. The concert ended with a “rearrangement” of the Buena Vista Social Club (called Passacalles Buena Vista) in which Weiman played on a tom-tom.
I will diverge a tad to mention that the PBO also played one of my all time favourite baroque standards (an a standard is the correct term I would say). This was Arcangelo Corelli’s Follia (op5 -12) arranged by Francesco Geminiani. La Follia was the Louie- Louie of the 17th and the 18th century. As I read my novel I could imagine that crazy woman (she may have been Portuguese) dancing (perhaps this is where the English word folly comes from).
Up until now the Pacific Baroque Orchestra has been my favourite Vancouver orchestra. I have sung praises on all its virtues. But not until today could I say as I say now, that Pacific Baroque Orchestra can really swing!
Rosa x odorata 'Mutabilis', Blanc Double de Coubert & Fair Bianca
Friday, May 14, 2010
May is the best time in the garden, almost. The best time is at the end of May when the roses are all in bloom. In May my hostas all come out and their foliage is pristine. Some of them seem to grow a foot in height overnight. It is now when I cannot stop looking out of the windows (this one in particular) which overlooks the back garden) or rarely am I not tempted to make myself a strong mug of tea and go down the kitchen steps into the garden. It is not a natural garden. Our garden is not a native plant garden. We stick into it whatever we like that we think will grow in our climate. There is attrition and we then know better.
May is also the month when three of my roses vie for who’s first to bloom. The first rose to bloom was the English Rose Fair Bianca
. By the time I had noticed it the bloom was spent. Two roses came in a very close second. One is the complicated named Rosa x odorata
‘Mutabilis’ (left). The other was Rosa
‘Blanc double de Coubert’ (below). The former (I have two bushes) almost died last year. I cut the dead looking canes to the ground and I was rewarded this year with vigorous growth. It proves that this rose with China Rose heritage has managed to adapt to our colder climate.
Rebecca is in Quebec on an exchange program with her school so I went over to her house to see how her roses were doing. They are in large pots and they get lots of hot sun (more than my roses ever get) so they looked healthy and vigorous. Alas her father had forgotten to water them (any plant in a pot has to be watered more often) and Rebecca’s pride and joy Rosa 'Königin von Dänemark'
was an almost sorry mess. Because it only blooms once I am afraid that some of the buds will not open. I watered it well and hope that Rebecca will not be disappointed.
Her potted hostas had survived the drought with aplomb and looked very good. I am extremely proud of Rebecca’s gardening interest.
Lauren is next. I gave her some blue winter pansies (it is a cast iron plant) and she is so happy that they bloom for her every year. The time has come to point out the plants in our garden to her and to give her some of the names and a little of their history.
I do know that when Rebecca comes over (she will be arriving very late on Monday) the first thing she will want to do is to smell the ever Fair Bianca.
Bloodied But Unbowed - As They Were, They Are
Thursday, May 13, 2010
On Thurday night I arrived home at 10:30 after having watched the world premiere of Susanne Tabata’s (below, left) documentary Bloodied But Unbowed
. I was too spent emotionally to even think of going to the party after, which was to be held at a nearby club. The prospect of waiting an hour or so before some aging punk rockers, with double chins, were to come up to jam was an unpleasant one.
Tabata’s film, 75 minutes long, is a work of love and agony. It took her 3½ years to accomplish it all with shoe-string budgets. And getting punkers and their crowd together is akin to making a Tower of Babel in a film version. That Tabata succeeded is ample proof of her cast iron personality to persevere against all odds.
The film has a raw look that goes well with the subject, Vancouver’s punk rock scene of the mid 70s to early 80s. It's about such bands as the Furies, the Subhumans, DOA (very much alive to this day in spite of those initials, dead on arrival), The Modernettes, the Pointed Sticks, the Payolas and my favourite band ever, anywhere Art Bergmann's Young Canadians. The film also deals with the interaction of these bands with the Vancouver art scene, and in particular of one who was in both camps. Jim Cummins.
Just about anybody would have pointed out what was missing from her film. We all had our favourite local bands and signature songs. But in 75 minutes lots of stuff had to go to the editor’s cutting floor. The three blond stooges, Randy Rampage (below, middle), Brad Kent and Zippy Pinhead were pricelessly funny yet one of the writers, Les Wiseman told me that a lot of that material had to go.
I would have liked to have seen or at least heard mention of the role of the perennially unshaven Bud Luxford’s punk boat cruises and Fuck Band concerts (and Luxford's subsequent release of these concerts in records) or the acknowledgement of such "lighter" punk bands like the Scissors whose Wrecked My Car
was one of Art Bergmann’s (top) favourite Vancouver Songs. Perhaps the Secret Vs were not exactly a punk band but their song, Waiting for the Drugs to Take Hold
is up there in my list of one of the best Vancouver songs.
But I am only quibbling here, because Tabata, helped by a long list of writers, editors, etc (about as long as the guest list to any punk concert of yore) has achieved a film that without mentioning in any kind of detail the sound of punk, brought for me that excitement (the sound) I felt the first time I ever heard Art Bergmann and his Young Canadians at the Smiling Buddha.
In many respects DOA singer/songwriter Joey Shithead dominates the film with his presence throughout as does Gerry Useless. They were there in the beginning and while Useless is fit and healthy now, Shithead is fit, healthy and singing still.
Shithead talks and explains his philosophy of punk with intelligence and succinctness. It all makes sense. But he is not able to compete with the primal and raw image of Randy Rampage (who steals the show) up in the air, thrashing his electric bass and reminiscing about drugs and alcohol (almost as good, but we never really watch him drum in the film, is Zippy Pinhead with his infectious smile). For me Rampage is the image of punk and the image of the film that will linger in my memory.
Tabata wisely tried to put some order into her documentary by having sections. The section on Art Bergmann
is worth the whole film and here Tabata pulled all her stops and delivered. The ending where the philosopher/king of punk, Bergmann
confesses that the muse left him when he abandoned drugs and alcohol, is poignant and as the camera gets close to Bergmann’s face and you see its humanity and humor I realized what it was I had first heard at the Smiling Buddha so many years ago and that Tabata had brought it all back.
The double chins of the aging punkers will fade from my memory and what will remain is the excitement and the electricity, of those guitars, of the basses and of the drums. It was the sound of punk that was the soul of punk. Everything else was show.
Becky's New Car - Urbane, Sophisticated & Crass
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Today, when Rosemary and I attended the opening performance of Stephen Dietz’s Becky’s New Car
at the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Stage we did not know what to expect. We went prepared to laugh. Anything with Jackson Davies (left) will be funny and fun. And so it was. But there was more to the play than met the eye.
The first act was, indeed, funny and it featured an over-the-top performance by Deborah Williams as Becky a woman supposed to be living somewhere in Seattle but more likely in the bowels of Whalley, BC. Every time I heard her whiny voice I cringed in pain. But she grew on me and I began to feel sorry for her life. I came to the conclusion that the play was about a woman in a midlife-wife crisis whose crisis is not going to be solved by a brand new read Miata. The deus ex machina ends up being a big, bad, black car.
The first act ended predictably and Rosemary and I thought we knew how it was all going to pan out in the second. “I would like to be home, now,” Rosemary told me. “Do you want to leave?” “No, I want to see what Pia [Shandel] looks like.” And so we stayed.
We were rewarded by all kinds of unexpected events and twists all performed by an excellent cast of characters just right in their parts. Cavan Cunningham, as Joe played a not-your-average (as in always drunk and stupid) roofer, Hrothgar Matthews as Steven is the my-wife-died-I-will-never-forget-her car salesman who knows nothing of Italian shoes. Kevin Stark as Chris is the roofer and Becky’s live-in-at-home forever professional student son. Stark is the perfect geek who attracts the bored-with-perfection young lady Kennie (the perennially sexy Lindsey Angell, below).
But for me what worked best was the suaveness of Jackson Davies (Walter Flood, the my-wife-died-I-will-never-forget-her and millionaire commercial sign owner, same amount of hair but a lot taller than Jimmy Pattison
) foiled by the Surrey antics of the multi-spaced challenged (am I in my office or in my house?) Becky.
The end of this play is an expected, unexpected one that satisfies. Part of the reason for me was the performance of Cavan Cunningham’s Joe who is the only rock of stability in this play. He plays it convincingly. Will he forgive Becky? Will the big and black car intercede for them?
In a not a very big part, Pia Shandell (above, right) brings lots of sophistication and an honesty that is not all acted but perhaps autobiographical. Rosemary was happy and so was I. And I have to clarify here that I did see Pia Shandell, many moons ago at the Arts Club Theatre on Seymour Street. I hope to see her in more plays soon.
Should William Shatner not become our country’s next Governor General I would assert that Jackson Davies would probably do a better job. Like Shatner he would bring in humor. But unlike Shatner, Davies would add elegance and class. And besides we all know how great Davies looks in uniform
Becky's New Car is on until June 5
Making Things Visible At 2010 Northern Voice
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
If I drank there is no question that if I were to sit down to watch Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 film The Wild Bunch
I would do so with a generously-sized glass of 30 to 60% alcohol aguardiente
or firewater, to be sipped neat. Nothing else would be apt, certainly not a Corona (agua de cementerio
or cemetery beer, but that’s another story) with the silly slice of lemon in the neck or an overly sweet Kahlúa on the rocks. Nothing but aguardiente would do the job of enhancing the shock (do you need enhancing or deadening here?) of the immolation of the scorpions. And that aguardiente would suit me fine if I were to watch my favourite Argentine film (1968) Martín Fierro
by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson. And going back to the Mexican theme if I were to watch the 2002 film Frida
again with Salma Hayek it would have to be a Campari and soda. If you never saw her 2007 print and on-line video ads for the sophisticated Campari then you don’t know what 100-proof cleavage is all about.
The above has all to do that today Wednesday (and if I want to blog my Tuesday’s today, that’s my choice) my hard copy NY Times has a beautiful personal essay by Wendell Jamieson (apt surname, what shall we drink while watching John Ford’s Quiet Man?), called The Plot Thickens As The Drinks Clink
. It is about setting the mood to watching a film DVD at home by drinking what is appropriate.
As I enjoyed the story it occurred to me that my friend John Lekich would love to read it and might have even written something like it when our city magazines went for sophisticated stuff. It also occurred to me that unless I tell John Lekich about the piece or at the very least send him the link, he would not be likely to notice it on the on-line version of the paper. My point here is that the linear quality of a standard newspaper, where you see the whole paper but choose what to read, is somehow lost in its on-line version. It will be visible only if you know of its existence. Only then will you go in search of it. A lot of good stuff is lost by the and subsequent randomness of the net.
What started me thinking about it was a pleasant and whimsical session I had in the 2010 Northern Voice conference on its second day on Saturday. I attended something called More Drawing on Walls – The Power of Making Things Visible
. It was hosted by Nancy White
. Upon entering the room we were instructed to pikc up a sheet of blank paper from a box and some colouring pens. Nancy White (she could out-accordion and out-bubble
Lawrence Welk) told us to draw some sort of animal that started off with a W. From there we were told to go outside and draw or photograph something within the 2010 Northern Voice that was hidden that in some way we would make visible.
I was absolutely amazed at how my co-conferencees would draw, take a picture of the drawing with their iPhone and then immediately post it onto Nancy White’s Flickr page. Her project is explained like this in the program to the 2010 Northern Voice:More Drawing On Walls - The Power of Making Things Visible
At past NV gatherings we've drawn pictures together. We've been drawn together by shared interest and connections. We've even made the practice of graphic facilitation explicit. This year I'd like to again invite anyone to draw and weave a theme into our drawing. Even into our photography, videography, or any other art-touched practice.
The theme is "making things visible." This keeps showing up in my work as an important theme for enabling learning, work, creativity, innovation. Heck, for just plain old fun. By drawing something as it is happening, we make something visible to the group in a new way. By making internal organizational work visible externally, we can gain more insight, validation and triangulate to even better work. By making process just visible enough, we facilitate interaction. By hacking code, we make functionality available and visible.
With paper, pens, chalk, words and actions, I'd like to invite you to explore what it means to make more bits of Northern Voice, of you, of each other, visible. We'll talk a bit, then armed with the media of your choice, we can all experiment with making things visible. We'll share what we do in both our physical and online space. Ready to unleash your inner artist? To make things visible? Let's draw and discover.
Nancy White is a Mom, Grandma, blogger, consultant, artist, learner, chocoholic, gardener, drawer-on-walls, collaborator, introverted-extrovert, over-fifty, female, American of the world. Nancy White
The pictures we drew or photographed are here
. While I may have suspected it all along, it was Nancy White’s exercise that confirmed that so much that is valuable is hidden from us and we simply do not know how to look.
Or as I would tell John Lekich, the article that you would have written about what to drink while watching a good film is not in the section of the paper which is about the arts but in the section called Dining. It can be found here
The pictures you see here are the ones I drew at Nancy White’s session. The second picture is of the English gentleman, Stewart Marshall
sitting in front of me (he wore a hat) who showed me some of his intervalometer-driven digital pictures in which elapsed time almost looks like a movie. My guess is that Bolivian chicha would be ideal for viewing more of it.
I Am A Surrogate Cow
Monday, May 10, 2010
Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of the world's greenhouse. A significant portion of these emissions come from methane, which, in terms of its contribution to global warming, is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization says that agricultural methane output could increase by 60 percent by 2030 [Source: Times Online] The world's 1.5 billion cows and billions of other grazing animals emit dozens of polluting gases, including lots of methane. Two-thirds of all ammonia comes from cows.
As my body slips into the almost here 70s my daughter Hilary, who is the wellness manager at Stong’s Supermarket has prescribed me with all kinds of “natural” medicines. Before anybody who reads this thinks, “She gets them all for free,” I must assert that Hilary pays for them with her own money and then reluctantly accepts payment from my wife Rosemary.
On that breakfast tray every morning I can spot at least 8 plastic containers. One of them, with krill oil gel capsules smells like a beache whale after a few days in the sun. To take these pills I have to go through the painful maneuver of lifting my hand to my mouth (arthritis kicks in and flexibility is all but nonexistent) and then washing them all down with the morning’s juice.
I am then instructed to take two additional glucosamine pills (it is supposed to oil the joints and the cartilage) at noon. In the evening I must swallow 6 MSMs.
Since this pill regimen began a couple of months ago I have noticed an increase in hot gas emissions. I am embarrassed to mention this as Rebecca has finally ended her scatological period where for at least two years she has made it evident, particularly in the closed quarters of our family vehicle, that the release of hot air is something awfully funny. I have done my best to try to teach her that a lady must control such impulses and learn to do it outside or at the very least in an un-sonorous manner.
We Skyped her a couple of days ago to her temporary home in Quebec City where she is embarking on an exchange program. Rosemary and Hilary where talking to her on the computer. To be funny I made some loud noises (with my mouth, but actually quite capable of using what my grandmother used to call from “the eye that cannot see.”)
Rebecca called me to tell me (I was most happy) that she had not had the opportunity to talk to me (she must miss me, perhaps?). I mentioned that I had made the noise and she acknowledged that she had heard it.
Looking at the MSM bottle with a little more detail I now know that I have become a surrogate cow. My trips at night to the gentleman’s room are more frequent now. And they have all to do with the fact that I still consider myself a gentleman. Rebecca would understand and Rosemary will perhaps never know.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
My grandmother Dolores, my mother Filomena and my Uncle Antonio photographed in Madrid.
A young intelligent conferencee at the 2010 Northern Voice Personal Blogging and Social Media Conference on Saturday shocked me, “Your kind of blogging, Alex is old media.”
The buzzword during the two days of Northern Voice, yesterday and Friday was social media. Everybody was talking about it. It seems that anybody who blogs, old-style, like me is old hat.
In the past I noticed that as soon as I was home on the first day of the conference there were many blogs on Northern Voice. This year there were very few. Two years ago when Kris Krug and I lectured together in a very large UBC classroom could see a sea of Macs, all open, on the table. Were we to get boring or make a mistake one of the Mackers would have zapped us in some instant blog.
But the once cutting-edge laptop and or tiny notebook have been relegated to the dustbin of digital history, and it has been replaced by the all-in-one & one-for-everything smart phone. Those with these devices find it much more convenient to tweet as the action is briefer and takes less time. In fact Lauren Wood, one of the organizers of Northern Voice told us that on Friday night and Saturday morning, 2010 Northern Voice was all the buzz in Twitter, above all other topics.
In many respects as an aging classical blogger I felt a bit left out. I have never considered my blog to be anything more than a convenient diary with pictures. For a while I have pushed the boundaries of the diary in that diaries have always been personal. It would have been a no-no to peek into someone’s diary at one time. Not the on on-line blog is available to anybody.
A couple of years ago I went to an Arts Umbrella, end-of-the-year dance program in Richmond’s Gateway Theatre. Rebecca had twisted her ankle so she was not dancing with her class. We went together to watch the performances. During an interval Rebecca asked me for money to buy something to eat and I was lingering outside in the theatre’s garden. A pleasant looking man came up to me and said, “You must be Alex.” I was a bit taken aback since I had never seen the man before. “How do you know?” I asked him. His answer unsettled me, “I saw Rebecca running around so I assumed you were Alex.” He clarified this by telling me he knew who Rebecca was because of my blog. My period of unsettlement wore off but I have been assailed by people telling me I should remove Rebecca and Lauren’s pictures from my blog, to excise their last names and remove most of the personal stuff I have written about them.
When, a few months ago, I put up some pictures of Rebecca wearing a blonde wig
I was subjected to some angry family criticism. Luckily Rebecca’s mother and father did not see any problem. But it was when my friend and marketing manager of the Vancouver Opera, Doug Tuck told me, “I liked your Lolita pictures,” that I knew that I must have crossed a line. I have been a bit more careful since. But I even wonder if my paranoid friends (who see sex deviants and lurkers everywhere) would approve of one particular blog where I photographed Rebecca and she wrote in the blog about her fashion sense
One of the programs for Saturday was called Family Matters: Blogging the Parenthood Experience
. I told someone I was going to this and the person said, “You are going to listen to the mommy bloggers?” With that as an introduction I reluctantly attended. But I was pleasantly surprised by six women, Kerry Sauriol
, Amber Strocel
, Lesley McKnight, Harriet Fancott
, Danielle Christopher
,and Manda Aufochs-Gillespie
At least four of them confirmed my goal that a personal blog is really a family blog. There seemed to be little paranoia and one of them, the delightfully earthy Amber Strocel simply said, "Life is dangerous," and dismissed with light humor those in the audience who to me seemed overly cautious and paranoid.
Going home I sat next to one of the mommy bloggers in the bus. It was Harriot Fancott who was pleasant, intelligent and practical. If my old-fashioned blog shares cyberspace with these women's blogs that is enough to make me happy.