Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Memoriam: Jean-Daniel Cadinot

The principal irony of the late Jean-Daniel Cadinot's life - as he was so fond of mentioning - was that while his parents made their living clothing men (from their tailor shop in the Batignolles Quarter of Montmartre) he'd made his even more profitable one from unclothing them...

PhotobucketBorn in German-occupied Paris on this day in 1944, Cadinot ran away from home at 17; garnering an education at the École des Arts et Métiers, he initially intended to earn a living as a photographer. A nude portrait he took of writer Yves Navarre and singer Patrick Juvet led not only to a new direction for his art but indeed to a lucrative and prolific career as a photographer of the male figure; a collection of his erotic photos were published in the first edition of Gai Pied in April 1979, by which time he'd published 17 albums of his work as well as begun directing all-male erotica on 16mm.

Not only did Cadinot's films put an emphasis on the visual element - as befitted an accomplished photographer - they also featured better plots and had a whimsical approach to male sexuality absent from their American counterparts. In fact, the plots were often taken from Cadinot's own life, and featured youthful, amateur models frequently engaging in inter-racial adventures.

By 1998 Cadinot had directed 54 such films, occasionally under the name Tony Dark; these include Scouts (1981), Deuxième Sous-sol (1987), and Sortie de Secours (1998). He died in April 2008 following a heart attack.
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Happy Birthday Ken Boesem

No matter how far the amply gifted graphic novelist Ken Boesem goes in this world - and believe me, the potential is enormous - I'll always be able to say I knew him when...

PhotobucketBorn in Quesnel on this day in 1971, Ken showed his precocity early, as will happen. Since I am not a naturally pushy person, and he's fairly private, I've never had the chance to interview him at length about his childhood; over the years there have been hints, however, that his memories are not entirely positive. Then again, whose are?

We first met in Kelowna, something like a decade and a half ago now. Contrary to the highly structured rules of gay life in Kelowna he was nice to me from the start; nevertheless, it doesn't seem to have affected his status amongst his A-List friends there, most of whom wouldn't have needed me to have a jellyfish sting as an excuse to piss on me.

He moved to Vancouver at about the same time as I did; again, despite the dictates of Davie Street culture (and what must be the unspoken rules of the male employees of Little Sister's) he continues to talk to me to this day, though once I publish this he may have had enough. For my part, I prefer to contact him through Facebook, which is so much easier than trying to talk to him while looking through a pinhole in a piece of cardboard, as one would with a solar eclipse.

All of Ken's work - including the haunting 1918 and digest versions of his comic strip The Village - are available at his website, Barking Raven Press.

I highly recommend them - and him - to one and all.
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In Memoriam: Dorothy Strandquist

There are many mysteries in the life of my grandmother: why her mother left in 1934 and how different her life would have been had she been able to attend university are just two... Yet the reticence she'd learned by the time I knew her was irrevocable, and the manners she'd taught me precluded my asking her the impertinent questions that might have offered me the enlightenment around this issue that I have always craved. Alas, by the time I'd unlearned those manners she - and her answers - were gone.

PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1922, Dorothy Strandquist was a gifted writer whose ambitions - it could be said - were undone by her times; having won a full scholarship to the journalism program of the University of Saskatchewan in 1939, she was unable to accept it (or so she always said) because her father couldn't come up with her room and board on his carpenter's salary. Instead, she ended up moving to Saskatoon anyway, to aid the war effort; for years she spent all day on a factory floor packaging powdered eggs, and all night dancing with soldiers headed for the killing fields of Europe. It was at one such dance where she met my grandfather...

I suppose I should be grateful with regards to her decision, as without it I might never have come to be, it being just another in the string of accidents throughout time that have caused me to be sitting here now and writing this. Yet something else I've never understood about her is why, when it was obvious that she would not be able to attend university, she quit writing altogether, why she didn't try to work her way through school as so many others have. Given how much it meant to her, I am at a loss to understand why she essentially she gave up; even though I seem to have inherited her dim view of my own chances of success as a writer without a degree I still continue to write, diplomaniacs* be damned.

All my life my grandmother encouraged my interest in history but was curiously passive-aggressive when it came to my ambitions as a writer; she seemed to enjoy that I was developing a critical understanding of the past, yet was wholly apathetic to the desire I've always had to share that understanding with an audience. Perhaps she was preparing me for the shit storm of rejection which is a life in the arts. Nevertheless, from an early age it was her personal mysteries about herself and her life (and indeed those of other people too) which have added fuel to the same fire in me her disdain tried in vain to douse; it's almost as if the more she tried to stop me the more I wanted to do it, or as if she was encouraging me with one hand while discouraging me with the other.

After her death in April 1998 I harboured a not-so-secret desire that amongst her things I would find 60 years' worth of secret journals, detailing what it was like to be the child of a single father during the Dust Bowl, her life in Europe in the 1950s, her insights into the life of a military officer's wife, not to mention her perspective on the world gone mad that was the late 20th Century (in the observation of which she was never less than fully engaged) but they did not exist. She seems to have written right up until the fateful moment when her life turned, and then never wrote again.

She would be appalled that I wrote this about her, that much I know; so I guess that is the difference. As gifted as she must have been, she was never a real writer, whereas I guess I am. Had she been a real writer she could have squirreled the stories and musings which were a feature of her conversation into notebooks and onto scraps of paper as I always have, worked at it during odd hours, and maybe even in later life been a published author.

I have always intended my career to be her career, and even now she informs every word I type; on what would have been her 88th birthday I would like to renew this vow.

*People who are so utterly convinced that a piece of paper makes them talented that they've succeeded in convincing editors and publishers of the same, and whose tyranny only works to the detriment of the arts everywhere.

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"Tears Are Not Enough" by Northern Lights

On this day in 1985 the juggernaut of charity singles for African famine relief swept through the Canadian music industry when its brightest lights formed Northern Lights in order to record Tears Are Not Enough in the footsteps* of Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? in the United Kingdom, and USA for Africa's We Are the World in America.

Featuring solos by Gordon Lightfoot, Burton Cummings, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Corey Hart, Bruce Cockburn, Geddy Lee - and that bitch Anne Murray too! - in world terms, the song represents a veritable Who's That of music, although in Canada of course they were (and, indeed, are) all major stars - thanks as much to their prodigious talents as to federally regulated content guidelines which are one of this country's greatest cultural achievements.

With glowing hearts we saw them rise to the occasion, and of the three songs, this one is the only one that still gives me chills - although probably that's because, in pop cultural terms, many of those involved are the most obscure.

*And, mainly according to Canadian pundits, the shadows...
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POPnews: February 10th

[George Hayter was appointed Principal Painter in Ordinary to Queen Victoria and awarded a knighthood in 1841 as much for this image of her wedding as for the luminous portraits he made of her coronation in June 1838; click on the above image to revel in its exquisite detail.]

1258 - After Hulagu Khan sacked Baghdad the city fell to the Mongols, marking the destruction of the Abbasid Caliphate.

1355 - The St Scholastica's Day riot killed 93 in Oxford.

- Catherine Howard, the fifth of Henry VIII's six wives, was confined to the Tower of London having been found guilty of adultery and convicted of treason.

1567 - Kirk o' Field House in Edinburgh was destroyed by an explosion; the strangled body of Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, was later found in a nearby orchard. The explosion is thought to have been a failed assassination attempt, while the strangulation proved a far more effective one.

1763 - The French and Indian War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763), under the terms of which France ceded Quebec to Great Britain.

1798 - Louis Alexandre Berthier, Marshal of France under Napoleon Bonaparte, entered Rome unopposed in order to proclaim a Roman Republic, effectively divesting Pope Pius VI of his temporal authority.

1840 - Queen Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace.

1863 - General Tom Thumb married Lavinia Warren - who had previously been wooed by Commodore Nutt - at New York City's Grace Episcopal Church. 

1906 - HMS Dreadnought (1906) was launched by England's King Edward VII.

1920 - Jozef Haller de Hallenburg performed a symbolic wedding of Poland to the sea, celebrating restitution of Polish access to the open ocean.

1931 - New Delhi was named the capital of India; formerly the capital had been at Kolkata.

1933 - Primo Carnera knocked out Ernie Schaaf in the 13th round of a 15 round bout at Madison Square Garden; Schaaf died two days later of his injuries.

1941 - The world's first gold record was presented to Glenn Miller for Chattanooga Choo Choo, having moved 1.2 million units of the 78 rpm record since its May 7th release the previous year.

1949 - Arthur Miller's iconic play Death of a Salesman had its world premiere at the Morosco Theater in New York City; in its initial run the play ran for 742 performances, won six Tony Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

1964 - The aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21) collided with the destroyer HMAS Voyager (D04) off the south coast of the Australian state of New South Wales.

1967 - The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, clarifying the order of succession to the Presidency.

1981 - A fire at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel-casino killed eight and injured 198; although it had been the Hilton family's worst disaster to date, they would be responsible for an even greater calamity exactly seven days later.

1989 - Ron Brown was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee becoming the first African-American to lead a major American political party, nearly twenty years before the Republican Party had the same idea and elected Michael Steele.

2008 - A fire severely damaged Namdaemun, the first National Treasure of South Korea.
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