Goodbye Trudeau, Hello Trumpy!

On Saturday night I threw a Goodbye Trudeau, Hello Trumpy party. Some fantastic folks came to wish me well as I prepare to journey forth to be a New Yorker for the next decade of my life.

Some family members brought snacks in the spirit of the occasion–a rainbow of nutritious yumminess for Trudeau, and some rather toxic-looking orange snackies to represent the Donald. Doris, you are brilliant! Others got into the west-coast spirit with crab dip served in New York garments. High fashion, Irm! You looked like you stepped straight off Fifth Avenue! And of course many folks brought wine, beer, and other choice bevvies. Brilliant!

I served Manhattans Karen-style, extra bitter. (It was a mistake, honest.) It was fun to share the concoction with my friends and family, and taste New York together.

My friend Trish was kind enough to photograph the cake and me with most of my guests, though a few were camera-shy. Thanks, Trish! Here’s a peek at the partiers:

Goodbye Hello Party

1=Trish, 2=Irma & Cary, 3=Irma, 4=Bruce, 5 to 7 = Stephenie, 8=Troy, 9&10=Pam & Heather, 11=Alisha, 12=Steve, 13=Doris & Neil, 14=Eva

And more guests:

Trudeau Trumpy Party

1=Jill, 2 & 3=Patricia, 4 to 6=Steve & Resi, 7 to 10=Mom & Aunty Vina, 11=Kat (Another New York Hottie!)

I felt so much love, support, and warmth from and for my peeps. You guys are awesome! I will definitely make an annual return to Vancouver to stay close, and you’re invited to crash at my tiny 400 s.f. Manhattan apartment.

For fun and practical reasons, I created a loot room, in the hopes that many of my favourite possessions would find new homes with my favourite people. There was looting and then there was looting of the looters. I especially loved the moment when one of my friends tried to take the meditation cushion someone else was carrying out! Very spiritual, these people. LOL

You guys must know me very well, for many brought gifts and chocolate was featured prominently. And these gorgeous flowers graced the table. Wow, so much pleasure is in store for me!

I was super glad that people came out on a rainy night, and extra props go to my mom and sister Kat, who came from Horsefly to celebrate with me. I promised everyone there would be dancing, and a few of us took to the dance floor towards the end of the evening. (We were having a Stevie Nicks moment!!)

Sadly, every party has to end eventually. When the last folks had gone home, my mom and I weren’t quite ready for the party to end, and we continued the music and dancing into the wee hours. My sister Kat was trying to sleep downstairs and said she kept hearing loud bursts of laughter and stomping. Who, me? My mom? What!? (Innocent face.)

I love these cards Doris and Neil brought. Trumpy’s hair stood on end when he heard I’m coming! But Trudeau took it in cool stride…

It was an amazing evening and send-off, which I’ll always remember. Thanks for being there, dear friends. Love ya!

 

Joy was in the house with Donny McCaslin

And I think the spirit of David Bowie was there too. Saturday night’s (April 1, 2017) scintillating performance at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall demonstrated that Donny McCaslin has developed into a world-class, big league band leader, composer, and sax player. I saw McCaslin perform in early 2016 at the Village Vanguard, shortly after David Bowie’s death, and the events of the past year seem to have transformed McCaslin from an angry young(ish) man into a joyful, seasoned artist who is streaming his creative gifts into the world.

Last night McCaslin opened with a discordant, in your face composition from his earlier repertoire of published music, and then the quartet took a leap into two new (as yet un-named) numbers that McCaslin wrote specifically for the performance at Zankel Hall. The band members were beaming, and so was I, as I heard the driving rhythm section (bassist Jonathan Maron and drummer Zach Danziger) provide counter-point to an astonishing fusion of McCaslin’s sax and keyboard wizard Jason Lindner’s never-before-heard arrangement of electronic noise. The sounds were so unexpected and new, a feeling of wonder filled the hall and penetrated into the minds and bodies of the audience like a magic dust, floating down, pinging off the earbones, and ringing bells of awakening in every cell of the collective body. This music was exciting! A fresh invocation of joyful wonder, and the band was fully enjoying the revelation as well, with smiles on their faces throughout the performance. They felt the rapture, and made us feel it too.

As you may know, McCaslin and Lindner played on David Bowie’s final musical gift to the world, Black Star, released two days before his death in Jan. 2016. Clearly some audience members were Bowie fans, and McCaslin did not disappoint. The band played “Lazarus,” bringing tears of remembrance and sorrow as we heard the song, perhaps for the first time, without the vocal track of Bowie’s achingly familiar, distinctive, age- and wisdom-tinged voice.

The song begins with the (now silent) vocals, “Look up here, I’m in heaven…” and expresses humor, Bowie’s love of New York, and further musings on the afterlife… “By the time I got to New York I was living like a king. Then I used up all my money, I was looking for your ass. This way or no way, you know I’ll be free. Just like that bluebird, now ain’t that just like me. Oh I’ll be free…”

This missing element struck home the loss to the world of our dear David Bowie, and perhaps by making the loss so real, helped to bring a year of deep mourning to a close. I am moved beyond words at Bowie’s generosity to write this music as his continuing creative contribution to the world, and help us prepare and come to terms with his death, and perhaps our own.

McCaslin generously shared an anecdote about accepting a Grammy award for Blackstar on Bowie’s behalf (the album garnered five in total), together with Lindner, at the ceremony in February. McCaslin outfitted himself for the awards ceremony at Agnes B. in Soho, a designer who had often created clothes for Bowie, and even designed wardrobes for Bowie tours. McCaslin had selected a black Euro-fit suit with a reverse-logo Blackstar t-shirt—very hipster and ringing that note of musical triumph of Bowie’s final work. McCaslin confided with the audience that this was the very suit he was wearing for our performance, and shared that Gail Ann Dorsey, Bowie’s long-time bass player, also gets some of her fantastic clothes at Agnes B. Check out the hard-core punk meets Buddhism dark green dress she wore during Bowie’s Oct. 2, 1999 performance on Saturday Night Live! I noticed that Lindner was also paying subtle homage to Bowie vis-à-vis tiny astronauts floating on the dark background of his socks, and silver denim high-tops.

The group played another shrieking, body-armor penetrating track from McCaslin’s 3rd and most recent CD, Beyond Now (released in Oct. 2016). And then another homage to Bowie, “Warzsawa,” a song he’d written with Brian Eno on 1977’s  Low, Bowie’s first album in his Berlin trilogy.

McCaslin has a  growing body of original music to draw on in his live performances, but his new work takes us to another level entirely. McCaslin’s generosity of spirit shines through this new creative font of joy, and he demonstrates it doubly with making space in the evening’s program for two Bowie songs. There was enough time and space for it all, and by drawing Bowie’s early and final work into the melange of his own oeuvre, McCaslin showed how these two streams are intertwined and that Bowie’s gifted soul continues to impact the world in the next generation of musicians and audiences—if the young man head-banging in the row in front of me was any indication!

It was an all-ages crowd, with older audience members sharing memories of seeing Bowie at Madison Square Garden in the 1990s, and a young child talking in the balcony, penetrating the silent spaces between Maron’s acid bass notes in his introduction to a song of further keyboard magic. McCaslin riffed on the child’s play, repeating the words “Uh-Oh” that floated down from the balcony and generating a ripple of laughter and repetition through the crowd. Then Lindner struck, with waves upon waves of overlapping repeating sequences of electronica notes, joined by tinkling ivories reminiscent of Bob Geldof’s “I don’t like Mondays.”

They received a standing ovation, and played an encore of two more pieces of splendor. Joy was in the house.

As you may have noticed, I had a lot of fun dressing in homage to Bowie.

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Conducted VSO at Bowie tribute concert!

conducting-1The David Bowie tribute at the Orpheum on Oct. 5 was amazing! I got caught up in a bizarre flow of energy that led me to spend the two days before the show recreating David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust look, complete with the Kansai Yamamoto rabbit romper! I had so much fun that night, with a great view of the concert from the second row. The VSO and a five-piece rock band were faithful to Bowie’s music, with innovation in the arrangements, and the audience vibe held appreciation, love, and enjoyment of this chance to remember and celebrate Bowie’s life and music.

vso-4
The orchestra is doing exactly what I tell them! lol
At the interval
At the interval

During the interval I received a million compliments on my hair, make-up, and outfit, and lots of people took their photo with me. I thought I should make the most of it all, and was waiting for the right opportunity.

conducting-3As I mentioned, the VSO was joined by a Windborne Music rock band for this Bowie tribute. The singer, Tony Vincent, gave a lead-up to each song. In between songs he began talking about Bowie’s fashion sense and innovative style, and I thought this is my moment. (I had a feeling I knew which song was coming!) So I strutted back and forth like I was on a fashion runway along the “catwalk” in front of the stage during the song Fashion. Turn to the left, turn to the right!

vso-3And then the band invited me up to conduct the VSO for Golden Years! What a rush! I went up onstage and was up there for the whole song. The drummer cued me on how to do the final crescendo at the end of the song. They were all so nice to me on stage. It was an unbelievable night—so much love, celebration, sadness, remembrance.

conducting-vsoAfter the show, many people thanked me for bringing a beloved memory-image of David into the air of the event, and said it was the icing of the cake. It was truly magical for us all.

conducting-2This is me on stage at the Orpheum, with the VSO and the rock band, actually conducting, dancing, and making a fool of myself! This was one of the best nights of my life. I still can’t believe it really happened! (P.S. The lead cellist is gorgeous!)

Being led onstageI’ve been rocking the Ziggy Stardust mullet since the devastating news of David Bowie’s sad death in January. I will be running the New York Marathon on Nov. 6 in Ziggy Stardust costume, in memory of Bowie and to raise money for Harlem United. If you can help this fantastic cause with a small donation, please visit my donor page.

Bowie tribute
With Judith and another serious Bowie fan
concert-2
Nathanael, a hunky dory Bowie fan sitting near me and rockin’ his own Bowie tribute look. And here you see a close-up of Siobhan Uy at MAC Granville’s great make-up work.
b-michael
With Michael at Threads Fashion Alterations – he turned a dress into the rabbit romper in less than 24 hours. Amazing work!
costume-1
Check out the detail in this fabric. It’s not woodland creatures like the original romper, but I think it’s unbelievably representative of the original outfit.
b-lyle
This is my fantastic stylist, Lyle, at Suki’s on Granville. What a sweetie! He did the cut, and Karly Vincent at Suki’s at Robson did the fantastic colour. They are both true artists.

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The Fascination with Campbell’s Soup Cans

Andy Warhol added to the popularity of the image of Campbell’s soup when he began painting the cans in 1962. Certainly it was innovative to use an everyday object as the focus of artwork, and I think Warhol deserves the kudos he received for this irreverent innovation that shocked the art world at the time. At a recent MOMA exhibit, the colours and images of the soup cans were used as an iconic touchstone for Warhol’s work.

Warhol exhibit at MOMA

Seeing the Warhol exhibit at MOMA, I began to wonder about the appeal of this image that has become almost as pervasive as Coca-Cola. (Note that both these products use an iconic cursive script that evokes an old-timey, homey feeling. Shockingly, today’s British Columbian schools no longer even teach handwriting! It is indeed becoming a thing of the past.) Campbell’s soup is on every store’s shelf in North America, from the biggest supermarket chains to the smallest out-of-the-way bodega in Big Sur! According to Campbell’s US website, Campbell’s tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, and cream of mushroom soup are each numbered in the top 10 “shelf-stable” food items sold in US grocery stores today.

Groceries in Big Sur

So who deserves the credit for creating a package design with such universal appeal? I think it’s the commercial designer who designed the Campbell’s soup can in 1898, when a company executive, Herberton L. Williams, attended a Cornell-Penn football game and was impressed with Cornell’s brilliant new red-and-white uniforms. According to The New York Times, when asked the question of who designed the label, the company spokesperson said it was a joint effort, with different elements contributed by different people over the years. For example, the Campbell’s script was based on Campbell’s own signature. In 1900 they added the gold medallion that Campbell’s won at the Paris world exposition.

The basic label has changed very little since then. I just saw a Campbell’s tomato soup can in Big Sur that looks exactly the same as the can in my toy kitchen in 1970. (The 20 billionth can of tomato soup was produced in January 1990.)

Sure, there are some new twists to the packaging, like the can I photographed in my Mushroom Soup series, which boasts Vitamin D and real cream. There is a cream of potato soup that says it’s made with “fresh Canadian potatoes” too. So Campbell’s is trying to keep us hooked as we become more health conscious, and has different packaging for Canada and the US. They redesigned the label in 2010, retaining the red and white elements but adding a swirl around the mid-section. However, the top three flavours mentioned previously retain the classic label.

Pommes de Terre

Sadly, my tastes have moved away from canned soup altogether. But when I see a can of Campbell’s soup, it tugs at my heart. The positive associations of many childhood lunches of Campbell’s tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches–this totally defined comfort food for me. And what about putting that cream of mushroom soup into a macaroni and cheese casserole. Brilliant! Or using it as a topping for porkchops. I do harbor a secret wish for these delights from a simpler millenium.

On the other hand, I had a boyfriend once whose culinary crowning glory was a mixture of unheated, undiluted Campbell’s mushroom soup mixed with tuna on toast. Yes, it was as gross as it sounds. Even Campbell’s soup can be used for good or evil!

Original soup label designThe story of Campbell Soup began more than 140 years ago, in 1869, when Joseph Campbell, a fruit merchant, and Abraham Anderson, an icebox maker, formed the Joseph Campbell Preserve Company in Camden, New Jersey producing and selling canned fruits and vegetable preserves. It wasn’t until 1897 that the concept of condensed soup was born, due to the genius of the then 24-year-old Dr. John T. Dorrance—a nephew of the company’s general manager, and a chemist—who invented condensed soup. (Think what an impact this invention has had on our world!) Dorrance later became president of the company from 1914 to 1930. The original label looked like the ones shown above.

I think one of the reasons we love the Campbell’s soup design is that is it something that remains unchanged. It evokes our nostalgia, our longing for a simpler time, for childhood pleasures. It is an archetypal image in our collective unconscious, and this is what it symbolizes for us.

For me, when I saw a stack of Campbell’s soup cans in Val and Garry’s cupboard, it sent me on a two-day romp through the forest hiding cans for when they returned, and it led to an explosion of artistic inspiration. I hear that several Chelsea galleries in Manhattan also recently featured artists whose work included Campbell’s soup cans. So it’s not just me that still goes crazy for these red-and-white darlings!

Soup cans a la MOMA

If you’re interested in reading more about the history of Campbell’s soup, check out this Canadian site and this UK site.

Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms in the wood

I took this photo series while I was creating the Warhol in the Forest treasure hunt for Val and Garry at Starshine Valley. It was mid-September, and mushrooms were blooming shyly, peeping out from grasses and bits of wood.

Mushroom Soup

Warhol in the Forest

Warhol in the Forest
An homage to Val & Garry’s forest art installation and to Mr. Warhol, with thanks to Marlena for the use of her limited edition Campbell’s Soup collection

This is a treasure map for Val and Garry, to help them find the 28 pieces of gold hidden in the Starshine Forest.

1-beam
Beaming at Andy in the heavens
2-greetings
Stone cairn
3-wildlife cam with camo
Wildlife cam in camo
4-by ford
Hanging out in the creek [Hint: by ford]
5-scenic outlook
Scenic outlook
6-Inukshuk in headlights
Caught in the headlights
7-burnt fence
Burnt rustle fence
On the barbie
9-poo pipe
On the poo pipe!
10-boot geometry
Boot geometry
11-the end of the road
At the end of the road [Hint: go for the gravel]
12-corner post
Corner post
13-Killarney St
The sign is clear
14-3 in the corner
Three in the corner
Cattle chute
16-under the vol-cone-oh
Under the vol-cone-ah
17-wood stove
Cooking dinner
18-triangle rock
Triangle rock in the forest
19-between a cow and a cowboy
Between a cow and a cowboy
20-tripod
Tripod at the center of the universe
21-medicine wheel
Medicine wheel – eat your broccoli, it’s good for you
22-the person by the road
The person by the road
23-sitting by the dock of the bay
Sitting by the dock of the bay

24-rock hill hint-sw corner
Rock hill [Hint: SW corner]
Boulder hill with triangle rock [Hint: S of thinking post]

26-ideas raining down at the thinking post
Ideas raining down at the thinking post
27-at the end of the fence
The end of the [fence] line
28-sitting on a stump
Sitting on a stump

Black Rook Bakehouse is back!

Coconut cream pieI wrote in August about the sad closure of Black Rook Bakehouse’s funky E. Hastings location. It seems that renovations and permitting took a lot longer than they planned, and it was many months before they re-opened at their new location, a few blocks further east, on the opposite side of the street. Well worth the wait!

I had been jonesing for their coconut cream pie for months, so I was really excited to visit BRB shortly after they re-opened in December. I was very sad to discover that there was no coconut cream pie to be had. I had a cookie instead, and some pretty awesome quiche, but the craving went unsatisfied. Then, just last week, I met a friend there to try again. I was speeding across town to meet her when she texted me that there was a pie situation. They were almost out of pie! She said there was one piece of berry pie and one piece of coconut cream, and she asked if I wanted her to reserve one for me. I took the first safe opportunity to text her back CC!

And oh, the beauty of that last glorious slice, sitting on a plate waiting for me when I arrived. I dug in too eagerly to think of recording the moment. Partway through, the craving starting to settle into a feeling of purring satisfaction, I recalled my blog and took this pic.

The new location is at 2474 E. Hastings, in the East Village. There is a cozy fireplace, and the same kind of country-homey furniture and friendly neighbourhood vibe as the old location. Check it out!

The Metal Era

Karen at MSG
   Waiting for the show to begin

Being here in Greenwich Village has awakened the nostalgia I have always felt for the 60s. Being born in 1965, I was influenced by the vibe of the 60s, but I never got to see the greats as it was happening. I never got to see Led Zeppelin or the Beatles. One of my first concerts was The Who’s first farewell tour, in 1982 (they recorded Who’s Last on that tour). Guess what? (Guess Who? I am overcome with my own cleverness.) The Who are currently having their 2015 farewell tour—33 years later! OK, so farewell tours are a joke, because the bands often have numerous farewell tours. But the point is, I wish I had been here in Greenwich Village to see the first Bob Dylan show, as one of my friends did. I wish I had seen the Beatles play in Vancouver at the Empire Stadium in 1964. I wish I had been part of the aliveness, joy, and hope of the summer of love. A time of social change and new freedom. A time of excitement.

Motley on stageAnd all along, I didn’t realize that I was actually a part of a new exciting movement—the metal years! Yes, the 1980s were also a time of social change, with the Punk movement and Heavy Metal movement expressing the angst of a new generation of teenagers who wanted to fight the man.

This didn’t come home to me until another Motley poster on Boweryfarewell tour—Mötley Crüe‘s farewell after delivering 33 years of kick-ass glam metal. (Gotta love the umlauts!) I saw the concert poster on a hoarding on Battery on Monday, and was lucky enough to get a ticket that night for Tuesday’s show. So there I was, Tuesday, Oct. 28, in Madison Square Garden, watching Alice Cooper and Motley Crue! I have seen both of these bands several times in Vancouver, and most notably, early tour dates in the 80s. For example, I saw them at the 1982: Crüesing Through Canada Tour! Surprisingly, the Crue is one of the bestselling bands of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide. I think they started the whole tattoo thing.

I sat in the stadium on Oct. 28, relishing the fact of being in New York, in this Motley on mini stagesemi-historic building. The Garden moved from its second site in Madison Square to 8th Ave in 1925, to its current location on 31st St in 1965. Construction began at the current location 50 years ago, Oct. 29, 1964! I looked around as the seats began to fill. In my row, two teenaged young men were in the row already. They were the first to stand when Alice Cooper took the stage, and were on their feet for the whole show. I was glad to be in their row, because I too wanted to stand and dance.

Metal next gen
      Metal next gen

One of the things that occurred to me as I relished the wall of noise for over 3 hours was that I really had been part of something special. To those teenagers, the 80s was the time they wish they had been at the rock concerts, at the beginning of the metal wave. And I really was there! I just didn’t realize it was a part of history. Thanks to my boyfriend Rick and friends Ray, Mark and Joe, Johnny and Dianne and Silvia, sister Kim, cousin Sherry, we were all part of our own time of rebellion and self-definition. Listening to metal was our revolution. Our way of staking our claim in time and space, and differentiating ourselves from our parents.

I want to write more about this revelation, but I’ve got to go take a nap. The big four-nine!

Later…

I guess the point is this moment is where it’s happening. This is the exciting time to change the world. After the nap…

Think Coffee

Cafe Wha?
Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan both played their first or early gigs here

At Think Coffee in NYC. Drinking a decaf soy latte (organic, fair trade, socially responsible). Eating a Johnny Boy sandwich–peanut butter, banana, and cinnamon! I found this place by Googling best New York cafes to write in. This one got the best ranking on numerous factors, including comfort level for occupying a seat for a long time! (That is, not getting the hairy eyeball if writing and not ordering much.) Also quality of coffee. I totally agree!

I just submitted my website to the STC Regional Competition – New York Metro, Philadelphia Metro, and Houston chapters. It seems extra special to submit the entry to the New York chapter from a New York cafe!

Will upload pic of the Think Coffee cafe later. For now, here is Cafe Wha?!! I will be going there tonight to listen to world-class musicians pay a tribute to the founder of bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim.

New York is such an inspiring city! I wish I could just sit in a cafe and write all day. But there is also so much to see and do. It is hard to get enough sleep with the lure of the city keeping me out late every night. Luckily, I have a nap booked at 3:00 this afternoon at YeloSpa in midtown Manhattan!