Karen Rempel photographed at Taglialatella Galleries art opening in Chelsea Sept. 14

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Sept. 17, 2017 – My friend Angela James and I attended an opening at Taglialatella Galleries on Thursday night, Sept. 14. We saw an exhibition of iconic original and limited edition works by influential graffiti and pop artist Cristophe Schwarz, aka Zevs. The collection is called Zevs: Liquid Assets.

Here’s a pic of the artist at the opening (black t-shirt):


It was a real scene. Evidently the night began with tequila shooters, and the champagne flowed freely from there. I was honored to be photographed with Ange in front of a great piece of art that my outfit matched. The slideshow at the top shows some images taken by celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan. This one is by Ange:


Many thanks to my friend Pat Duffy, writer and instructor at the United Nations, for the invite. Ange and I had a blast, and met some amazing people, including artist and professional partier David Padworny; actor, photographer, and former model Mark Reay, who made the autobiographical documentary Homme Less; writer/actor/producer Gregor Collins; and artist and musician M Fisher, aka Viking Swan.

Here’s David with a Louboutin-flashing babe. There’s a button on her shoe with a message for President Trump!
And here’s M (from another event):

He’s working on an upcoming photo exhibit that will take place in Spain.

Karen Rempel’s summer gig at Krystyna’s Place at 12 Cornelia St.

Krystyna's Place Etsy Logo
Etsy Logo

Sept. 14, 2017 – I worked a part-time job at Krystyna’s Place on Cornelia St. in New York this summer. I wanted to have the experience of doing a regular job, interacting with people, showing up for scheduled shifts. I walked into Krystyna’s Place one Friday night on my way to a wine bar with my friend Heather. I was dressed in an Iris Apfel t-shirt that my friend Dianne got me in Shanghai. This set off a conversation, and by the time I left the store, I’d bought a fantastic beaded belt and agreed to work at the store 2 days a week for 7 weeks while Krystyna was in Europe.

Karen Rempel in fantastic green beaded belt, with Bowie haircut and lightning bolt boots
Fantastic green beaded belt, with Bowie haircut and lightning bolt boots

I have to say this was the most fun job I’ve ever had. I opened and closed, served customers, dressed the windows (and myself!), and created an online store for Krystyna’s Place on Etsy. This entailed creating all the visual and design elements for the store, including a logo and header. I photographed 30 pieces that Krystyna had selected, measured them, wrote descriptions, and fell in love with the clothes!

Karen Rempel in mash-up of vintage necklace, studded cowboy belt from the Calgary stampede, Helmut Lang t-shirt, and black sparkly goth boots from Vaudeville and Trash
Mash-up of vintage necklace, studded cowboy belt from the Calgary stampede, Helmut Lang t-shirt, and black sparkly goth boots from Vaudeville and Trash

When the gig was over I spent half my final paycheck on clothes, shoes, and purses I’d fallen in love with in the store, and then came back again and bought half a dozen of the Etsy items!

Pink and green tea dress from Krystyna's Place Etsy store
Pink and green tea dress from KP Etsy store – ignited street commentary the moment I walked out the door wearing it to a dinner party at Arthur’s a few days later!

The store ambience is fantastic, with old black-and-white movies playing, along with contemporary jazz by a fantastic Polish jazz trio, and of course all the gorgeous vintage clothes. Krystyna is an amazing artist and designer. She paints ceramic animals, like the pig  below, and she painted much of the wall art, furnishings, and rugs in the store. She is truly an inspired genius, with an irrepressible creative flow. Everyone who walked in was amazed and said they loved the store. If you live in New York, check it out at 12 Cornelia St.

Green flying pig adorned with vintage jewellery
Green flying pig adorned with vintage jewellery

During the time I worked there I met many interesting folks from the neighborhood, as well as visitors who wandered into the store on their way to restaurants on the block, including Pearl Oyster Bar, Palma, and Cornelia St. Cafe. One day the LA stylist Sophie Lopez came in and picked up two gorgeous crocheted sweaters (one pink, one yellow) and matching plaid pants. I didn’t know who she was, but found out afterwards. On my last day, one of the store’s neighbors, himself a designer, walked by and admired my window display. He told me he regularly sends pictures of the displays to his friend who is the aforementioned LA stylist!

Final window display at Krystyna's Place
My final window dressing. Model is wearing a print scarf under metallic belt for a cummerbund effect. Beret is adorned with vintage brooch. Both animals are adorned with vintage jewellery, and a green crinoline forms a froth ocean at model’s feet.

One day a rather sketchy woman came in, with bleached hair with 24″ roots, who sniffed constantly. She spent a lot of time looking around the store, trying things on, and chatting. I even asked for her advice about one of the Etsy photos. But when she left, her bag looked a little lumpy, and there was a blank space on the shelf where these white shoes used to be. Dang! A shoplifter. Another time I lost a sale because the payment processing vendor stopped the account in order to force us to call them. They wanted to sell us a payment processing machine. The nerve! So this is New York—unbelievable splendor, and the petty dark side as well. And a lesson for me about keeping an eagle eye on sketchy customers.

These white shoes were stolen by a sketchy, sniffing store patron
These white shoes were stolen by a sketchy, sniffing store patron

Karen Rempel feels Waters raining down in Brooklyn

Roger Waters at Barclay Center September 11, 2017Sept. 12, 2017 – Last night I saw Roger Waters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. So amazing! Sheer pleasure to hear the songs from my youth, especially from Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. I bought The Wall as a double-cassette when I bought my Volkswagon Rabbit in 1981. I listened to it continuously in my car from age 16 to 18, until the tapes broke from wear and tear and a constant cloud of cigarette smoke!

I had no idea this concert would be so powerful on so many levels. The body-penetrating, mind-blowing volume of sound, the haunting music, the beauty of the guitar, and Roger Waters’ loveliness too. Most surprising was the political message. I was too young when I first heard Pink Floyd to fully understand the politicalness of the music. But last night it was very clear. This roadshow is all about empowering people to resist political leaders with the wrong agenda and to stand up for and care for each other, both locally and in the global community.

During The Wall, about 20 school girls from Brooklyn were on the stage, singing the chorus “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control.” At first they were in orange jumpsuit school/prison “uniforms,” which they unzipped at the end to reveal black Resist t-shirts. I was pierced with the beauty of these innocent children suddenly onstage performing, enacting the words that I listened to when I was a teenager.

Waters also acknowledged the day, which happened to be September 11. He expressed sorrow for the families of the innocents who died in 9/11, and for all the responders who worked on the site and later died of illnesses from exposure to the toxic waste. And most of all, for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have since been killed as a result of the political response to 9/11. I was moved, heartened, and encouraged by this acknowledgement of the huge world-changing fall-out of those few hours in New York City on September 11, sixteen years ago. On the way home to my apartment in Greenwich Village I saw a giant beam of light piercing the sky, coming from the One World Tower. The Empire State Building was lit in Red, White, and Blue.

Most of all, I was moved by the fact that Roger Waters has been a political activist, raising awareness through his music, for five decades. His message about fighting authority (the teen anthem of all ages) has not changed, and it is even more relevant today. But let’s not forget the music for its own sake. Some of the most amazing, beautiful, moving, intelligent music in rock history.

The concert start was delayed due to protestors outside who were angry about Waters’ recent New York Times editorial. All backpacks were quarantined (checked) in the concourse outside the concert arena, which caused huge delays in entry, and a muddled chaotic mass of concert-goers unable to get into the hall until after the posted start time. This made me curious about the editorial, and about the issue of anti-BDS legislation, which led me to read about it, and to read some of the commentary, including an opinion written by David Schraub on the Jewish Telegraph Agency website. There are several remarkable aspects to this scenario. One is that Waters wrote the piece and it was published in The New York Times. Another is that people take it seriously enough to protest his concert. And a third is that it has raised awareness of a political issue, leading to thoughtfulness and debate. I spoke to several people out front of Barclays Center about the debate and whether anti-BDS legislation is a violation of free speech. Instead of being angry about the delays—and the claustrophobia of being told by security guards to push and clump together to get to the front (!)—people were engaged in thoughtful political discussion!

Money Clip

Waters ended with Comfortably Numb. I would have to say that while the temptation is to tune out what is happening in the world, Waters is doing the opposite. His message is Resist! Resist “authoritarianism and proto-fascism,” as he says in the editorial.

Wish You Were Here

Home Again

Us and Them

P.S. I am back-filling entries for the months that I was too busy moving to New York to write in this blog. So the date at the beginning of the entry is the date written. The date at the bottom is used to sort the entries.

Karen Rempel says Goodbye Trudeau, Hello Trumpy!

April 24, 2017 – 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!

 

Karen Rempel hears joy in the house with Donny McCaslin

April 2, 2017 – 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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Karen Rempel is moving to New York

I went to Montreal for my US immigration interview on Dec. 19, and my application to immigrate was approved! This year has been amazing, with a whirlwind of trips and activities, all aimed at working towards this goal. I am so happy to have the chance to live in New York—it is truly a dream come true.

bay-montreal

Visiting Montreal was an unexpected boon along the way. Though it was very cold (down to minus twenty), this was okay as it gave me a great excuse to shop for some fabulous winter gear at the Baie Montreal, shown above in Christmas splendor.

montreal-statue

Here is another beautiful winter sight, a snow-draped statue in the Square Phillips, across from my hotel.

I am working on a technical writing contract for A&W, so I was pleased to visit this location on Rue Sainte-Catherine:

montreal-awI love the French signage!

And this is a picture of me in my interview suit, after I got the Yes from US Customs and Immigration.

montreal-headshot

Wish me luck, and drop me a line here now and then! I hope you will stop by this site occasionally to see my monthly updates on life in New York.

P.S. I am moving on New Year’s Day!

Karen rempel ran the New York Marathon!

with-saoriHooray! With your support, I finished the New York Marathon yesterday, with a time of 5:06:19. This was definitely a race of a lifetime, and wonderful in so many ways. It was a glorious fall day, with bright sunny skies and the perfect temperature for running in the David Bowie powder blue suit from the Life on Mars video. Not too hot, not too cold. I was awe-struck and inspired, looking ahead at the thousands of runners on the road before me, displaying a rainbow of colours in their sports gear. What a glorious sight!

And then there were the crowds lining the road. I was in the fourth wave, which started at 11:00 a.m., though it was actually 11:19 by the time I crossed the start line, due to the thousands of runners ahead of me. So by this time in the day, the crowds may have thinned a little. But there were people all along the way, the entire 26.2 miles, and often crowded on both sides of the road, up to four people deep, cheering on the runners continuously with greetings, signs, and noisemakers. There were also musical bands of every genre all along the route, adding vibrancy and energizing the runners. And then there was the city of New York itself, all five beautiful boroughs. It was such a thrill to set foot on each one, with its own unique flavor and character, beginning with Staten Island and moving through Brooklyn, including historic Williamsburg where Hasidic Jews dressed in traditional garb went about their business, then into Queens, and Manhattan, up to the Bronx, and then back into Manhattan to finish at Central Park. I felt tremendous joy, excitement, and love for the city, with its satisfying, soul-pleasing mixture of old and new architecture. This is what inspired me to run the race in the beginning—a desire to see the city from this vantage point, roads cleared, running on an endorphin high. And now that I am planning to move to New York, it was especially symbolic to trod on every borough, and pledge myself to the city.

The physical aspect of the race was much different than I expected, though. In my training, I used the mantra “effortless and injury free,” from the book Chirunning by Danny Dreyer. And I did return to this refrain over and over again during the race. But I guess injury free and pain free are two different things! Due to a snafu in the transportation, thousands of us were delayed in the hall at the Staten Island Ferry terminal on the way to the race, crammed together like sardines, hardly able to move for over an hour. I was carrying a very heavy wool coat—my throw-away coat to wear while waiting outdoors in the cold—and my checked bag with warm clothing to put on at the finish. It turned out I didn’t need either of these things, as there was very little time once I got to the start, and I had to actually dash for half a mile or so to get my bag to the bag check before it closed. Yikes! There was no time to warm up or stretch. So this meant that by the time the race started, I was already in pain, feeling a weird strain in my quads and a familiar old pain in my right knee.

But I just figured, “What the hell, this is the price for doing something extraordinary.” I decided to focus on all the positive aspects of the race, and do the best I could to relieve the pain with the Chirunning focuses, some Motrin I had taped to my bib (a great tip from Danny!), and later, a Tylenol from one of the medical tents along the way. Starting out in pain that way, I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it, but it was the thought of my 47 donors, and my pledge to Harlem United, that made me try. So I really have you to thank!

I also reminded myself of my wish to run in tribute to David Bowie, and contemplated my admiration of his work and my sadness at his death during the few quiet times for reflection that occurred during the run. These quiet times were a nice change of pace from the crowd-lined streets, and occurred while running over the bridges. I have heard people moaning about those bridges, but they were a piece of cake to me after training in the mountains of North Vancouver. Easy peasy! A time to sail along, passing hundreds of runners on both the uphill and downhill stretches. I often put my music on for a few minutes during these sections, and thought about why I was running the race. (Of course one thought that popped up from time to time during the five hours of the race was that it was a very stupid thing to be doing!!)

Six friends had planned ahead of time to cheer me on, and had told me which section of the race they planned to be on. This was a tremendous support, and really helped me to feel a part of the city and a community of great people. Julie in Brooklyn had a sign that said Karen, but I don’t know if she saw me because she didn’t know I was running as David! But I saw her, and the sign. Once I crossed the Queensboro bridge from Queens into Manhattan, Sally and Bill were standing by the road on First Avenue, and I was so happy to see them. A block or two further on was my friend Mike. I put on my best Jersey accent to say “See you laytah for dinna!” And then another few dozen blocks up the avenue, I got a hug from DB. This was such a wide, graceful boulevard, with beautiful old brick buildings and masonry; I got a hit again of the wonder “I am really in New York! This is New York!” Once I’d gone through the Bronx and headed back down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, my fantastic hairdresser Saori (who gave me the Bowie haircut to begin with, and is standing with me in the photo above) was there with her husband, and gave me another wonderful hug. It was very special to me to have these friends turn up to cheer me on.

The interaction with the crowds was the most unexpected aspect of the race, and truly magical. Dozens of times I heard people calling out “It’s David Bowie,” cheering to see the Ziggy Stardust reincarnation on the streets of New York. These were clearly Bowie fans who were happy to remember Bowie and his music. At one music station, I heard “Dancing in the Street,” a Mick Jagger and David Bowie collaboration, so I really played it up, dancing as I went past the crowd. They loved it, and I noticed I wasn’t in pain when I was dancing. So from then on, I danced almost every time I passed a band, whether it was country, rock, marching band, reggae, or heavy metal! I do have a fondness for the metal years of the late eighties, and really got into the headbanging, though it made me feel dizzy, probably due to low blood sugar, and also winded me more than any other form of dancing. Those times of dancing and celebrating the joy of the day and the race really stand out as highlights of the day for me. Meeting people’s eyes, sharing the excitement, connecting through high five trains, where a dozen people would be lined up ready to slap hands as I went past—and all the signs they made, expressing encouragement, humor, and empowerment. “If Trump can run, so can you!”

Politics was definitely in the air… Another surprise was that the people who didn’t recognize the Bowie reference thought I was running dressed as Hillary Clinton! Lots of people shouted out “The Pant Suit!!” due to a recent YouTube video of Hillary supporters dressed in pant suits and singing in Union Square. So they thought I was showing support for Hillary. An unexpected boon of being the only runner in my wave wearing a suit!

The race was so much fun, with lots of short conversations with other runners from all over the world. And whenever I was feeling low energy or too much pain, the crowd was there to help me along. So I must say, “New Yorkers are awesome!!” And after the first 10 miles or so, I started shouting this out to the crowd. “You guys are awesome! Queens is awesome! The Bronx is awesome!” (With their super-friendly police officers and fire fighters all along the way as well, welcoming us to each new borough.) “You guys are awesome! Thanks for coming out! Woohoo!” It got to be a habit, and I shouted almost continuously for the last two hours of the race. I can hardly speak today, and I can’t speak in the high register (the Woohoo register) at all.

The final stretch was through Central Park, and then along Central Park South and up into the park again for the final .2 miles. Central Park South was packed with spectators, and the last little bit leading up to it was downhill, so I really put on the speed at this point, running the last mile as my fastest of the race. I was definitely in an altered state of looniness, and I waved and shouted to the crowd, and they cheered me on as if I was a real celebrity. It was one of the most surreal and wonderful moments of my life. Who was that pant suited woman/Ziggy Stardust man? As I passed the finish line the announcer said “And it appears we have David Bowie with us today.” This makes me cry as I remember it. If only it were true.

In the corralled area after the finish, I met another woman who had run in tribute to David Bowie and to her brother who died this year as well. We mourned together as we limped along, clinging to our medals. I went home on a subway packed like sardines (again) with runners, had a quick shower, and then met some friends for a celebration dinner at a hidden Italian restaurant on my block. The perfect end to a perfect day.

This morning I had the task of packing up for the return to Vancouver, and schlepping three very heavy suitcases down four flights of stairs. I could barely walk when I got out of bed, and I simply could not support my weight on the steps using my right leg, so I had to do an elderly shuffle, left foot step, right foot on same step, left foot step, right foot on same step, etc., all the way down. Four trips! But it all worked out, and I have a new respect for people who get around and deal with arthritis or other types of pain when they walk.
The final glory of the race was seeing a bunch of people at La Guardia airport proudly wearing their medals. I followed suit, taking mine out of my carry-on bag and displaying the mark of completion to the world. What a trip! I still can’t quite believe it really happened. I did it! We did it!

Thank you all for your tremendous support. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the race—I’ve certainly enjoyed reliving it as I shared some of the details with you. As a final note, people running for charities in the New York Marathon raised over 19 MILLION DOLLARS! That really deserves a big Woohoo, but you’re going to have to do it for me. Let me hear you, now. All together. Woohoo!

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Karen Rempel conducted the 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
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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.
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With Michael at Threads Fashion Alterations – he turned a dress into the rabbit romper in less than 24 hours. Amazing work!
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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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Karen Rempel is running in New York Marathon to raise funds for Harlem United

2008 HalfThis is so exciting! I will be running in the New York Marathon on November 6, 2016 to raise money for Harlem United. My goal is to raise $3,000 for this fantastic organization that helps Harlem community members by providing access to health care, resources, and education about AIDS and HIV. They provide quality HIV prevention, housing, and care services in a safe and nurturing environment to unite Harlem’s diverse communities and address the needs of all people living with and threatened by HIV/AIDS.

I’m asking all my friends, family, and colleagues to help support the amazing work that Harlem United does, and cheer me on in my dream of running the New York Marathon.

If you can help, please visit my donor page. You can sponsor me by:

  • Mile ($26 for the 26.2 miles of the marathon)
  • Kilometre ($42 for the 42 kilometres of the race)
  • Meal ($100 to buy a group lunch for LGBT youth at risk for contracting HIV)
  • Or pick your own amount!

Here is an inspirational video on YouTube about the impact Harlem United has made in helping people who had no hope.

Visit my donor page often for photos and updates on my race training progress.

I’ve been wanting to run in the New York Marathon for 20 years, since I first began running in 1996. It’s the largest marathon in the world (yikes!) and goes through all five boroughs of New York City. This will be my first full marathon, though I’ve run ten half marathons. I’m thrilled to finally run this race and to raise money for Harlem United. This is a celebration of my new life in New York and I am putting down roots by contributing to the well-being of my community there.

Karen Rempel is a New York-bound alien of extraordinary ability!

Visa 2

Hi everyone,

I have some very exciting news! My US visa application as an alien of extraordinary ability has been approved! This is a wonderful privilege, and many people helped me by writing letters on my behalf for the application. Thank you all!

From the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website, this is the requirement for the EB-1 employment-based immigration category:

“You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required.

“You must meet 3 of 10 criteria* below, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal).”

With the Olympics just on, this makes my application success all the more special. It’s like I have won the Olympic Gold Medal for technical writing!

Visa 3And the letters you all provided helped me to establish most of the criteria in the list of 10:

You must meet 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability in your field:

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence – Yes
  • Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members – Yes
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media – Yes
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel – Yes
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field – Yes
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media – Yes
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases (this is true – I had my first art exhibit at Havana last summer – but I didn’t submit evidence for this category)
  • Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations – Yes
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field – Yes
  • Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts (I provided equivalent evidence of the success of my book – a Canadian best-seller with over 40,000 copies sold – the number of sales for a quadruple-gold record!)

This achievement fills me with joy. The work of the first 50 years of my life has resulted in a wonderful foundation for the next 50 years! During the process of preparing the materials for the visa, I had the opportunity to reflect on everything I’ve done so far, to connect with many people I’ve worked with along the way, and to really appreciate the many opportunities I’ve enjoyed, to contribute my abilities to the world in many different capacities. It was almost like going on a vision quest, except that it involved consuming reams of paper and dozens of ink cartridges! 🙂

First submission (450 pages, 8 pounds!):

Visa 1
Second submission (350 pages, 5 pounds):

RFEThank you again, to everyone who has helped. It’s been wonderful connecting with you again, and I couldn’t have done this without you. Words can’t express my deep appreciation.