Zemblanity, Serendipity & A Slow ChristmasThursday, December 22, 2016
|L to R - Christian Thorvaldson, Steven Hamm, Ziggy Sigmund, Terry Russell and Thomas Anselmi|
William Boyd coined the term zemblanity to mean somewhat the opposite of serendipity: "making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries occurring by design". A zemblanity is, effectively, an "unpleasant unsurprise".
Serendipity means a "fortunate happenstance" or "pleasant surprise". It was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip.
There is a bit of both in today’s blog. The serendipity is that in the heels of having found the envelope that contained the Christmas card from my graphic designer friend Graham Walker I found today in a box of old LPs a small 45 RPM sized record (it plays in 33 1/3 RPM) the 1985/1986 Christmas record sent to me from the folks at Zulu Records. It contains four Christmas songs (unusually performed) by four Vancouver alternative/punk bands called Slow, Go Four 3, Brilliant Orange and the Enigmas.
Having decided to blog about it and to use the special photograph of Slow that I took for Vancouver Magazine I went to my Slow file.
It was then that I remembered (zemblanity enters the stage here) that a few years later (or perhaps earlier the Cramps had performed at UBC and Slow and the Modernettes where the warm-up bands. We photographers have been known to make mistakes and here was one of my worst. After taking pictures of the three bands I forgot I had film in my Mamiya RB-67 and when I opened that back to insert a new roll… I need not go on. The fact that zemblanity did bring a tad of serendipity in that a few of the images were salvageable.
As I write this blog I am filled with the warmth of a rosy past about Vancouver bands that were as good as anywhere else in the world. They did not take themselves all that seriously.
I suspect that the photograph of Slow with toys may have been a Vancouver Magazine Christmas special for Les Wiseman’s In One Ear column. Others can be seen here.