Otello: Race and the Arts.

 

 

After having pored through an interesting OperaCanada article that featured the opera Otello‘s lead, Russell Thomas, and a predictably snide review in The Star – look there is no black lobby in Canada, so one can always be expected to be as curt and dismissive of blacks at every turn; this is after all the culture where the obsession with Jazz is almost as fever-pitched as the predatory late-night runs of Klansmen with nooses at the ready – I comfortably settled into my usual ring three seat, next to trusty Lucian Mann-Chomedy and warmly awaited the magic that is theatre to unfold.  

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After a month that was not soon revisited, my mind was at times distracted by the dreck that one must at times endure in order to get by.  I thought of the heaviness in the air that the subject matter of the opera addressed; the quartet of retired ladies who usually chat about who has taken ill, moved to hospice or died since last they gathered, did a lot of coughing, sniffing and whispering.  And as these things are as predictable as flies on shit, sure enough, I heard one of them whisper, “Meghan Markle.”  Will these people ever just leave the damn woman alone and stop hunting her at every opportunity?  

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Otello, Verdi’s take on Shakespeare’s take on race relations did also from the row of retired and widowed ladies spirit the whisper of O. J. Simpson’s name.  Some things just never change… alas.  Indeed, at some moments as I looked at Otello onstage, I began to realise how we as a people are stigmatised and stereotypically projected onto.  I soon got greater insight to why Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex is so reviled.  Objectified, she as a black woman was only ever to have been nothing more than a bit of rough, a tryst.  

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Naturally, HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex with his double sixness is seen as being readily taken advantage of and needed to be protected against the lascivious bit of rough who clearly conned her way into the royal family.  Born September 15, 1984, Henry born in the year of the rat has quite beautifully empathetic, compassionate numbers and with his double sixness is given to OCD behaviour as displayed by his need to fidget with his clothing – right hand inside his jacket et al.  Six people are awesome beings and Henry, a double six, is no exception.  15.9.1984 = 6.6.1 = 4.  

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With Otello, this projection of the black male as emotionally volatile, violent, easily manipulated has certainly proven an archetype that fits blind fools like Tiger Woods and O. J. Simpson to the letter.  Either way, it was uncomfortable to watch this production in places as it so mirrored the warped perception of a people by persons who question our humanity and who never seem able to perceive us beyond their generationally custodial perception of a people. 

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Be that as it may, I so hungered to be removed from the morass through which I recently waded at the end of which, I dismissively remarked of yet another power-mad woman in the work place: “She certainly doesn’t look like a fucking horse for no good reason…  Oh please, it’s just a matter of time before she rots the fuck in hell, eating every pope’s arse!”  If you cannot take offence then don’t damn well give offence…  Honest to god, some women in the work place are nothing but dickless faggots addicted to creating drama for the sheer sport of it and simply because they are just so drunk with power… to say nothing of being bored out of their frigging minds.  Well, like a bowel movement, it did not take too long for me to sniff, flush and walk the fuck away from the BS,  

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This Desdemona was an earthy, warm, beautifully soulful portrayal of a wronged woman, a woman dominated by an insecure and deceived man.  This production was a beautiful sweeping affair; I especially loved the dark broody look of the sets that captured the essence of the human condition portrayed.  Indeed, it proved a good elixir after all the dross that I had recently endured in the work place.  

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During Otello‘s intermission, I received a forwarded Instagram post from an old dancer friend, which he labelled #everythingwasbeautifulattheballet.  Of course, it was a direct response to my last blog, which highlighted the intense isolation and racial animus that I experienced for two god fuck-all maudlin years in Winnipeg.  Yes, indeed, the world of art is saturated with lisping, bottom-feeding, small ‘b’ bigoted boors who see positively nothing remotely gauche about this sort of fare well into the 21st century.  

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On yet another too cold, rainy day, which proved all too reminiscent of Vancouver, I abandoned my art-filled lair in search of more inspiration the day after the opera.  I cannot quite recall a season in recent memory that has proven both so cold and rainy as this protracted winter.  

That’s right, the day before attending Otello, there was a break in the perpetual rains that gave way to snow and hail…  truly, the dog days of summer cannot get here fast enough.  As more of the city’s 19th century streetcar tracks were being ripped up and replaced so that the racket that is the TTC outdoor workers and the local constabulary can make a killing in overtime, it took close to 40 minutes on a bus for me and my fuck du jour to get from Yonge and Dundas to Dundas and McCaul.  

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My date, a lissom twenty-something with smoky hazel eyes, which were vaguely reminiscent of Merlin’s, was good company.  I had for the past several hours pummelled his prostate as his daddy issues were satisfied and my angst from work place tensions were nicely dispensed with.  We men when in our 20s can be so alarmingly insecure; I have often wondered how Merlin managed to stay with me during those angst-ridden and redundantly solipsistic years.  

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My date on exiting the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room expressed chagrin at not having done magic mushrooms before leaving my place where incense and Jazz magically perfumed the air, intoxicating our spirits as we riotously fucked our way out of winter’s gnawing frigidity.  

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Without question, no trip to the AGO is completely inspiring without a visit to the galleries where the stellar art of Inuit artists are housed.  There are some real masterpieces in the AGO collection.  

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As it was the tail end of this exhibition and I still had not visited, I simply had to make it there.  Whilst walking along the long corridor to the start of the exhibition my fey-eyed beauty suggested that we take a break and go make out in a stall in the washrooms.  Fingers interlaced, I assured him that there was better intimacy to be had the sooner we got through the exhibition and hightailed it back to my place by Uber.  

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To my very discriminating eye, the moment I saw this verbose title, I fully expected to observe a show that was curated by too much extraneous fare and not enough impressionist art.  Tumescent and impatient, I had no time for reading, reading and reading more yada yada, all of which was to compensate for the lack of genuine, to say nothing of quality, impressionist art.  Just as well, I was growing achingly moist by the minute as both my energetic ectomorph and I hungered to be carnally consumed with each other… yet again.  

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This marvellous bronze fully captivated me; it would prove my favourite piece in the shoddily curated exhibition.  

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Highlights from a rather underwhelming show.   

Detail featuring two of the most beautiful creatures.  Their depiction is not the most masterfully executed but there is something rapturous about the look of the dogs as they ambled with their human companions on a journey which they had taken countless times before that made me stop and gaze overlong whilst being truly inspired.  

Detail of what for me proved sheer magnificence… the lighting is phenomenally executed.  

A masterpiece to be sure; however, where it was hung and the palette of the salon were decidedly inappropriate.  This was all I needed to see to finally wink the left eye at my horny power bottom and to speed home by Uber in the rain for noisy, exhausting, passionate play.  

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As ever, for your ongoing support I am both deeply grateful and indebted.  Sweet dreams and don’t you ever forget to push off and start flying because life is a most beautiful drink.  Cheers! 

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© 2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

An Awakened Dream Like No Other!

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On the final full day of this trip to London, it was also the 29th anniversary of Merlin’s passing.  I had planned on visiting Spencer House, the Monday evening prior; however, the event which was a ticketed lecture had been cancelled –  this was my only chance at getting to Spencer House.  

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Climbing from the Underground at Green Park, the park was relatively empty and there was a crisp bite to the early morning air as I walked along the periphery of the park’s western edge.  I opted to take that route and be close to the park’s trees than use the suggested route – St. James Street and St. James Place.  The only persons in the park were intermittent joggers, looking fit; strange in November it was to see persons running in shorts.  

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Walking along, I passed a narrow break in the shrubbery; the narrow path that ran beneath on the houses stated that it was a private road and to keep out.  A few more steps revealed the signage; yes, indeed, this was the place that I was looking for.  Turning back, I made for the private narrow pathway and awaited as a tanned, moneyed man approached with a wonderful, happy dog before him.  The fat little thing tried its best to act on his vibes and grumbled; staying my ground, I waited for him to get closer, said hello and asked if this was the way to Spencer House.  

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“Is this the way to Spencer House?” 

“It is a private path…” he replied from behind thicker, darker and more-expensive-than-mine sunglasses, to which I brushed past his American accent by elegantly rebutting, “Thanks, I’ll find my way…”  

Entrance to Spencer House: looking west to Green Park & East.  

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On entering Spencer House, I noticed that the splayed and slightly bloated feeling that began on approaching the stately home continued.  Inside were two men; both were rather pleasant.  We began speaking; for the next half an hour, we warmly visited.  Seemingly, there was a group tour booked and they thought that I had simply arrived especially early.  

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As members for the guided tour arrived, I slipped into the ante room and enjoyed the still-life.  Remarkably, there was a real ease for being in his place, which seemed more than passingly familiar.  Finally, when enough of us were arrived for the tour, a silver-haired lady with clear, focussed eyes entered the foyer, walked up to me and smiling, we warmly greeted.  A group of no more than twenty-five persons, the informal gathering was cosy and engaging.  

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As the tour began in earnest, it dawned on me that this house was remarkably familiar.  There were no doubts in my mind that I had never previously visited it; however, even the tour guide approached me and asked when I had last been to the house.  She was convinced that I had been there before and scoffed at my response that I had never before visited the stately home.  She had done so because I seemed with uncanny accuracy to know which door to next use to progress on the tour.  That aside, the energy between us flowed with the greatest ease.  

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As she spoke, the guide mentioned that Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch, who lived in the same street as Spencer House had actually had their wedding reception in the Georgian masterpiece.  As she spoke of the ladder, I suddenly experienced a vision and it was of seeing the room as it looked during Georgian times; however, as in dreams everything was back-to-front from the current life experience.  Indeed, I had definitely been in this room in the past; moreover, I had a rather memorable dream, which was set in this house.  Then as I intently looked to one corner of the room, the rather knowledgeable tour guide announced that in that very corner, Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson loved sitting in that spot as he was a frequent and favoured guest to the house as the 2nd Earl Spencer had been First Lord of the Admiralty.  

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In this marvellous salon is a painting of the Death of General Wolfe… it is even more grand and emotive than the painting of General Wolfe’s death on the Plains of Abraham at the Royal Ontario Museum.  

During that time, as a countertenor with Merlin (then female) my accompanist on harpsichord that I would have encountered Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson.  I have dreamt of this man many times and some were set in the very house where, though it had not been planned, on the 29th anniversary of Merlin’s passing, I was taking a tour.  

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Just before we left the library, the tour guide then announced as she drew our attention outside the window from the library, there on the grounds of Green Park were cattle and other livestock kept.  Indeed, in one such past-life dream, which was set at Spencer House, there was the intense smell of livestock.  For this reason, I had assumed on awaking that this stately home on the edge of vast acreage was situated in the English countryside rather than in London.  

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Definitely, this room – the great room – was familiar; however, somehow, it did not seem as large as it ought to have been.  

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The view from the great room out to the beauty of Green Park.  Suddenly, it dawned on me as I looked out the window that is why on Armistice Day after I left the splendid exhibition: Russia, Royalty & the Romanovs at Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and cut through Green Park en route to Green Park Station, I felt so joyous. 

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That is why too, for moving past Spencer House earlier on November 11, 2018 and in essence, becoming harmonised with the locale of a past life that I would have such lucid flying dream activity on returning to the hotel that late afternoon and napping.  

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Without doubt one specific dream was centred in this room and there, a play was being staged in the past life dream.  In between acts, one retired to this room from the great room and visited whilst the performers took almost forever at costume changes.  

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This was the setting of great music and laughter; indeed, I may well have performed for the Georgian glitterati on this balcony/stage-like staircase.  

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Lady Spencer’s room.  lovely.  

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The Music Room where 2.5 centuries earlier, Merlin and I were in creative full bloom.  I had a really powerful response when in this room.  I was left teary eyed and on looking in the mirror, I actually saw the outline of my aura; it was silvery as it picked up the stunning sunlight streaming through the windows on either side.  Somewhere in spirit, Merlin was with me and there was further validation that this place, this day… indeed, nothing is coincidental.  

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This room was pure sensory overload.  I felt gay and as though on the cusp of flying.  This visit was more adventure than even I could have imagined.  When the tour was concluded, I warmly parted with the staff and assured them that I would be back.  Then out into all this balmy, glorious sunshine, I headed into St. James Street and made my way to Piccadilly Street. 

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Feeling way too glorious, I decided against using the Underground and instead, headed east along Piccadilly and slipped into the Burlington Arcade’s splendour, browsed then went coffee table book-shopping at the Royal Academy.  Though I hardly had room to pack the six books.  Well in excess of 300£, the handle-barred and zoot suit-wearing poseur – eccentricity is never affected, asked way too condescendingly what did I mean by VAT “dear” and why would I get money back.  You blasted, silly little twit; as I do not gladly suffer fools, I shot back, “Look do us both a favour and go restock these… and try finding a brain while you are at it…” the latter stated whilst walking away from the counter; you’ll get no commission from me.  Who are these people, forever trying so damn hard? 

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With that, it was across the street into Fortnum & Mason to buy more teas and rose petal marmalade and jelly.  From there, further easterly I bopped and grooved in the glorious sunlight and circumambulated Piccadilly Circus and bailed into Coventry Street and into the crowded intensity of Leicester Square. 

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From there, I snuck from the rear of the National Gallery and inside.  

The delightful guide at Spencer House had insisted that I return to the National Gallery before leaving London and catch the Mantegna and Bellini exhibition.  She could not have spoken more highly of it.  I did tell her that I had reservations about seeing Italian art as it was much too ecclesiastic for my liking.  However, since she had been such a gracious host, I decided to just this once to go with an open mind and just explore. 

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You cannot believe how fast, I got out of there.  As I said to the West African museum worker, who asked why I had left the show so quickly, “You cannot imagine how deeply disturbing I find a culture that goes to such great length to never address in their art their savagely ‘civilising’ influence in the world.  It is as though it never happened or they played positively no role whatsoever in the brutal murder, enslavement, extinction of peoples and cultures.  His response was, to the victor go the spoils and the shaping of history in his image; he added that he was very very proud that I am aware, unlike so many of us.  With that, we bumped fists and it was back out into the bright sunlight of this glorious day.  

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Apart from the usual suspects, Yodas seemingly levitating – now there’s a gig! – I made it past a rather engaging African artist who had the soul of a sage if ever anyone ever did.  Being drawn to its beauty, I drew closer to get a really good shot of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and it was then I made the most glorious of discoveries.  

Well, there could be no better way to restore the spirit after the disquiet that I experienced for moving through the Mantegna & Bellini show.  Great art should reflect life, not neatly reinvent and compartmentalise away all that which one would rather not address – likely, though, Bellini had no knowledge of Columbian expeditions to the New World. 

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Presentation at the Temple – Giovanni Bellini c 1460

Certainly, the prominent artists of the 16th century: Tintoretto, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian were supported by the Church of Rome, which by its patronage of these artists was intent on depicting itself in a glowing ecclesiastical light rather than the brutal realism which afforded it the prominence and wealth it then enjoyed… which endures even now. 

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So with that, richly inspired by both the guitarist and Spencer House and all that it represented, I slipped into the National Portrait Gallery, to drink once more Wim Heldens masterful Oil on Canvas of the collectors Harry and Carol Ann Djanogly – she passed earlier this year.  Satiated of spirit, it was off to grab a bite and then a nap of glorious dream-filled sleep – one of which was a flying dream.  God it felt goodly glorious to have returned in spirit to Spencer House.  

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After having overslept by a hair, it was a mad dash by Underground and taxi make it by mere minutes to Royal Albert Hall.  One of my favourite concert halls, any show would do.  

Ah nothing beats a good old nostalgic adventure.

Interior of Royal Albert Hall.  

Intermission from the stalls at Royal Albert Hall.  

You cannot beat a room full of love and wonderment.  Truly spectacular.  Of course, it goes without saying that Merlin was wild about Jim Henson, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.  This was a glorious way to have capped off a great trip and to remember the life of an extraordinarily phenomenal human being, Merlin.  

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And like that, the following day, I was returned to Toronto, my art-filled home and this most glorious photograph of the most magical fellow who made life truly a happening, for seven glorious, love-filled and magical years.  

As ever, sweet dreams and thanks for your ongoing support.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

Pilgrimage to Windsor… that dress!

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Aerial view: Windsor Castle, Berkshire.  

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In the mad dash to board the train from King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station to Paddington Station, I boarded the wrong train and ended up losing almost of hour of valuable time.  Nonetheless to Windsor with me, indeed.  

 

 

The ride to Windsor was lovely and it was still well before before 1000 when I got into town.  So nice to know that a flash of the London Pass gets one into the Castle, plus to see the exhibition of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s wedding finery plus the outfits worn by pageboy, HRH Prince George of Cambridge and the always ‘on’ HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.  

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Next, through the hurdle of being scoured by the most thorough security detail; and with good reason too.  

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The mélange of Chinese, Japanese and Korean dialects made for an interesting symphony of sounds as I made my way past security and onto castle grounds.  

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I am reminded of Vancouver Island by the hearty vegetation down below.  

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Nothing is more refreshing than the smell of moss in cooler weather.  The air is so fresh here in Berkshire.  

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The view from the Middle Ward down to St. George’s Chapel; but that’ll come after touring the castle’s state apartments.  

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The glorious view north across the River Thames to Eton College Chapel… Nothing beats being out on the terrace and looking out to the landscape below.  

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The view along the terrace towards the entrance to the castle. 

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Once inside, of course, photography is not allowed.  This, understandably, is for security reasons; it is after all the Sovereign’s main residence.  Formidable, an entrance indeed.  Touring the state apartments, the progression’s starting point was different to previous visits.  

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Without doubt, I knew that the wedding outfits worn by TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex would not be on display in the castle’s Green Drawing Room; there is only one door into said room for the public and the other at the opposite end, leads directly into the Sovereign’s private apartments. 

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Furthermore, that single door is too narrow to accommodate persons going and coming into the Green Drawing Room, if they were to enter and exit by said door.  

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Similarly, I knew that the exhibition, A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex could not have been held in St. George’s Hall above.  There is simply too much natural light which floods the space; this could actually prove more harm than good – even though it would be best to see the dress in natural light.  Moreover, I did not expect that it would be held there as the space is too large and, frankly, with the amount of racially charged animus towards this marriage, it would likely not draw as large a crowd to warrant being staged there.  Truth be told, there were no Caucasians viewing the exhibit when I moved through it, than there were East Asian and blacks combined.  

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I will never forget my confusion on first experiencing The Waterloo Chamber in this lifetime.  I just felt as though, perhaps, my sense that I had been to Windsor Castle in prior lives or a lifetime was off.  Of course, I would learn that this marvellous salon was installed during HM King George IV’s reign, at which time, I had reincarnated into Barbados, after having been a countertenor at the court of HM King George III and during the early years of his son’s Regency.  

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Then again, those high-placed windows in the Waterloo Chamber would preclude its assignation as the setting for the exhibition, A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  

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Though noted for its stunning portraits of both HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and HM King George VI, this room much like St. George’s Hall has too much light exposure.  

On entering the long narrow hallway with large windows that look out onto the terrace, the River Thames and the north shore beyond, one happens on a wall of linen panels which cover the floor to ceiling cabinets with priceless china from the Royal Collection.  

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Imagine all these iconic moments from the wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex on hanging linen panels of more than 8 or more feet tall.  The effect is warm, enveloping and their size deftly impress on one, the uneclipsed love between these two star-crossed lovers.  

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Next, into the grandeur of the Grand Reception Room one slips and with the heavy red curtains drawn, the effect is even more stunning.  The large chandeliers are softly dimmed and handsomely display the bridal garments of the wedding party.  

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The embroidery on HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex’s uniform, to the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau tiara when seen in intimate detail proved more breathtaking than I had anticipated.  Goodness, even the shoes worn by Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex were exquisite.  

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What I found most interesting about the dress was its sheer simplicity.  The dress serves as a foil for the intricacy of the five metre veil entwined with the fifty-three flowers of the Commonwealth nations, along with the state flower for Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex’s home state of California.  Not until in the presence of the dress did its simplicity make sense; the dress is masterfully constructed such that its simplicity reminds one that only the expert craftsmanship of a couturier could have designed and manufactured the dress. 

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Yet, there was more to the simplicity of this Clare Waight Keller dress for Givenchy and it was not until moving around it a second time that it struck me; the simplicity of the dress speaks to the recent past of Ms. Markle’s African heritage.  Its simplicity speaks of the history of a people which was erased, wiped out by the terror of having been robbed and enslaved.  

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Yet like the simplicity which belies the masterful craftsmanship of the couturiers who created this stunning dress, there is also greatness to a people though reviled, socio-economically oppressed, criminalised, marginalised and made to feel inferior… the same people whose greatness shrines through in Jazz, for one.  Remarkably, the simplicity of the dress, is like the sheer eloquence with which HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales sincerely both acknowledged and apologised for the past, which his society and family had contributed to in the immense suffering of Africans; this he did this past autumn when touring West Africa on behalf of HM The Queen.  

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This was not only not a heavily attended exhibition but, at the time that I moved through it, there was not a single Caucasian viewing the wedding garments.  Though many would like to have you believe that there is no basis in race why they dislike Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex, that is just a damn lie.  Naturally, neither medicine nor academia acknowledges the existence of the racial predator as ‘No’ is the most powerful word when dealing with blacks.  Indeed, not until going to St. George’s Chapel after the tour of the castle was concluded, did one see Caucasians in numbers that reflect their proportions in the society.  Indeed, unlike previously, one was being fixed with looks that were charged with racial animus.  

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Though she is now the most reviled black woman on the planet, truth is that the soul who is now Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex was Margaret Beaufort, Tudor Matriarch: key figure in the War of the Roses, cousin of HM King Henry VI, mother of HM King Henry VII, mentor, counsel and favourite of her grandson, HM King Henry VIII who was much impressed by her focussed untrammelled ambition, great-grandmother of HM Queen Elizabeth I. 

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Without her drive and singleness of purpose, England may still be a Catholic nation and its language may well be French.  Nonetheless, such is the rabid, irrational tribalism that is racism; her true nature cannot be perceived by the blind who can never see either the links to the past or the bigger picture.  

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In the end, I was much inspired for having made this pilgrimage to see this dress, which in its simplicity symbolised hope, atonement and the love of two entity mates who have known each other in twenty prior lifetimes.  The simplicity of this dress proved an epiphany.  

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Statue of HM King Charles II without whose drive, there would have been no Restoration.  

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View of the round tower on exiting the State Apartments and at the edge of the Quadrangle.  

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Details of St. George’s Chapel.  

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Details… and more details.  

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Even more interesting details…

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Sadly, photography is not allowed inside the chapel.  

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Despite the general seething that being black elicited from most persons here – thanks to HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex having married the black woman, I rather enjoyed revisiting the spiritual home of the Knights of the Garter.  There is a certain warmth and intimacy to the quire’s dark woods that I favour.  

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And like that, another day of adventure was completed.  

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As the train sped back to London, I spotted this queer, though, appealing architectural gem.  

As ever, thanks so much for your ongoing support and always remember to become awake when asleep into the magical realm of dreams.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

 

Shopping @ British Museum.

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On the occasion of HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday, the sunrise was the most glorious display of apricot orange, manseport orange and blood orange tonalities.  So ravishing was it that I had to get up from the breakfast table in the hotel and take a few shots, threw them up onto Instagram feed, where other Londoners whom I follow also featured the glorious sunrise.  

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HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales by Ralph Heimans,  Charles @ 70.

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Charles en famille… beautiful.  

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HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales @ 70.  

Though the plan this day was to go out to Richmond and visit Hampton Court Palace, as I had develop not one but two blisters – one per foot – I decided to postpone it until the weekend.  

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I always love the look of this stately edifice that looks as though it would be right at home in India, I turned and took a few shots as I entered Russell Square park.  

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Lovely, what was even more glorious was the sound of leaves sounding like crisp, ruffled bedding as I confidently strode through the park.  

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Though in the upper teens, I enjoyed the sight of four guys in their late 20s rushing through this fountain in Russell Square; the water must have been freezing.  They certainly appeared to be having great fun.  

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Yes, I was come to pass yet another glorious visit at The British Museum.  With each visit, there is always some new discovery.  Walking along, en route to the gift shop, I was stopped by a man named Felix; he complimented me on my Dorothy Grant messenger bag and as we began speaking, I soon recalled a dream had more than two decades earlier when then living in Vancouver. 

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Felix was the subject of the dream and twenty-three years earlier, I had been the one to walk up from behind and stop him, engaging him in conversation.  As you never want to come off sounding like you are on really bad drugs or a cheap player, I resisted to urge to share having previously dreamt of him.  

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What coffee table books to buy this trip.  I had been en route to the bookstore, after abruptly taking leave of the stately Grenville Room.  I had discovered a piece of jewellery, which I had previously dreamt of.  I knew straight away that I wanted to have it; however, the Dravidian sales clerk incredulously replied that they were for display purposes.  I had asked him to open the case so that I could inspect the exquisite amber necklace.  Naturally, he by his response implied that I could not afford it and was likely a damn thief.  

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From there, I went to take in the Elgin Marbles and enjoyed seeing them yet again.  The crowds, though, were a bit distracting.  Feeling unresolved about the matter and because I really wanted to look at that amber necklace, I returned to the Grenville Room Gift shop.  

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As I approached, a pleasantly smiling clerk whom previously I had not noticed, came from the entrance to the gift shop and said hello.  He diplomatically asked if I had found everything that I was looking for; as it was not worth wasting time on a petit clerk who did not matter, I told him that there were a couple of items that I wanted to take a look at.  A more gracious host there could not have been. 

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In the end, I got the necklace which came pretty close to the one in the dream, which to make that dream come true, I was intent on gifting it to the ever elegant wearer in the dream.  This man spent nearly forty-five minutes, finding five sets of earrings to go with the lovely necklace and finally we narrowed the choice down to two pairs; he even got a small light so that the amber earrings chosen would be the closest match to the necklace. 

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A font of information and anecdotal gems, he then insisted that I go and tour the King’s Library, which I had previously never toured.  Yes, indeed, knowing what a rascal his son was, HM King George III had his entire library donated to the British Museum so that HM King George IV on his passing, would not go selling off his father’s priceless heirlooms to buy furniture or whatever else.  

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As the sales clerk, with a more than passing resemblance to milliner Stephen Jones escorted me to the Grenville Room’s rear entrance into the King’s Library, the Dravidian who had thrown so much shade my way and not served me, I paused to look at, then dismissively down at the floor with the British Museum bag with more than 500£ of sales and its commission, which he had allowed his stupid ignorance to steal from himself.  Yes, indeed, I promised the bald pleasant clerk that I would return to Fortnum & Mason and hunt down some rose petal jelly.  

After an initial tour of the King’s Library and a lunch of too much pasta with two glasses of prosecco whilst charging my phone, I then returned and took this video.  Clearly, from all that huffing, I had too much to eat.  Finally after more than six hours at the British Museum, I ambled out into the late afternoon and enjoyed walking about Bloomsbury.  

As ever, thanks for your ongoing support and happy holidays… here’s to your every dream coming true.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved,  

Oxford Circus. Pimlico. Barbican.

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Bright and early Tuesday morning and it was off to Oxford Circus in search of more art.  

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No faking this; the hustle is fucking real. 

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As I poured through this joint, I recalled my advice to the London cab driver whilst crawling along Pall Mall two days earlier.  

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Well if Daddy Warbucks’ little girl ain’t toothless, what is one to do but vacuously laugh with every breath.   

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As though I had just walked in on the most malodorous dump, I was out of this dive in a New York minute.  

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As I came up out of the Underground, I felt as though I had just endured a room whose stench was dirty ashtrays, liquor and coffee.  Once at Hyde Park Corner, I made it to Apsley House, only to discover that it was not open during the week.  Took the time to breathe the crisp – though not cold like Canadian – air with Hyde Park’s trees’ transitioning foliage predominantly apricot-coloured.  

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Vauxhall Tower (St. George Wharf Tower.)

Arrived at Pimlico and the air was comfortably cool; so nice to have a brilliant sunny day for a change.  Nonetheless, you can bet your bottom dollar that I was protected by my extra thick-lensed black shades. 

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After working almost exclusively at nighttime and since before that when in the theatre, I have developed a genuine sensitivity to sunlight.  You cannot convince me that we are not much too close to Sol for comfort.  So to Tate Britain I was returned.  After the scam that was the Klimt / Schiele, I was not rolling the die on Turner Prize 2018.  

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I went into this exhibition with zero expectations.  Like the British Museum, I love the gift shop at Tate Britain as opposed to Tate Modern’s.  I was on the hunt for unique gifts to purchase; this ticketed event was a gamble.  

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You cannot begin to fathom the degree to which I was wowed by the breath of this artist’s genius.  

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Remarkably, there was no end to this genius’ vision.  

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There is, throughout his art, movement and fluidity with the greatest grace and attack.  

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This is a colossal retrospective and his talent was unmatched.  

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The sensuality is breathtaking.  

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Every painting was a newly discovered masterpiece.  

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The breath of his work is astounding.  

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What a truly marvellous discovery.  

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His work left everyone moving through the exhibit in a state of harmony.  There was such peace and serenity in each salon and every salon had some wow moment masterpiece.  

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One key element of his art was that each work was hung in the spot-on perfect frame.  

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Masterful!

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For me, Edward’s genius epitomises where dreams and genius merge and produce the most uplifting art.  

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Quite simply, there are no words.  

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Besotted.  

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The moment that I laid eyes on this tableau, I immediately thought of Francis Bacon.  

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Breathtaking…

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Now, this is Art,  Next-level tapestry.  The fluid sensuality is overwhelming.  

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This is everything.  

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I would gladly have paid thrice as much to view this exhibition.  

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This was like nothing I had seen before and it far exceeded anything that I had expected.  Truly beautiful.  After dining on a late lunch in Pimlico, it was back to Bloomsbury for a nap before heading out into the evening.  

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Though I was rather looking forward to hanging out at Ronnie Scott’s, the idea of listening to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane (an entity mate) being butchered by some Israeli appropriationist was not exactly high on my must-do list.  

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Happy was I to be in the comfy seats at Barbican Centre Cinemas to watch a LIVE relay from Covent Garden of that evening’s performance of La Bayadère, which at week’s end I would be attending.  By far, this was the most glorious of cinematic experiences.  I could not believe the sight of Natalia Makarova when she appeared on screen. 

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She was now full-bodied as we mostly get on ageing.  Last time that I had seen her was during a class we took together at NYC’s Harkness House ballet school during summer 1983.  That late spring was the last time that I had also seen the ballet live; it was May 19, 1983 and my favourite dancer, the dimpled, shy and oh so sweet, Fernando Bujones was dancing the role of Solor.  

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As ever, thanks for your ongoing support and dream as lucidly as you want to… 

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

When Things Don’t Go to Plan.

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Just another hotel that looks onto Bloomsbury’s Russell Square

Monday morning, November 12, 2018 rolled around with me being a bit on the antsy side.  Just a couple of days before leaving on the trip, I received an email notice that a talk and drinks scheduled for that evening at Spencer House had been cancelled.  That being the case, I emailed, called and prevailed on each day Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club in Soho to try and get my reserved seat for the Tuesday evening show, moved up to Monday evening instead. 

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Finally, the night before, I got a human rather than no voicemail or no email replies from Ronnie Scott’s.  Incredibly, the rep did not know the number for box office and let me know that the Monday show was booked and I could not change my itinerary.  Trying to reason with her proved a nonstarter.  If I could be missing for my reservation on Tuesday, so too could someone booked on Monday be missing which means that I could at the very least stand in the back of the club and sip on a drip.  Nothing doing.  Monday came and passed and not box office nor anyone ever once answered the phone.  

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One of my favourite journeys when in London is to get to Piccadilly Circus and head towards Burlington House.  There, one is always going to be wowed by great art – this trip certainly delivered,  

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This, without doubt, is the show that I came to London highly anticipating.  What I had not anticipated was the sheer scope of the exhibition.   Certainly, it was a welcome change after paying to move through the Klimt / Schiele exhibition.  One thing that struck me, which always occurs regardless which museum or which continent, whenever there is an exhibition of non-white art alongside another of white art, the latter is patronised by a ratio of three to one,  

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Franz Hauer 1914  Egon Schiele

To be sure, the space for the Klimt / Schiele was much smaller than the ten salons for the Oceania exhibition – the same salons in fact which were used for last winter’s, Charles I: King and Collector.  Indeed, there is a certain appeal about being able to view art this up close and intimately.  Nonetheless, the crowd here was predominantly older – the diapered set and they of course can be expected to have little relish for adventuring beyond that which is deemed art or superior.  

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Nude Self-Portrait 1916 Egon Schiele. 

Naturally, not having read up on the exhibition prior to arriving in London, I had assumed that it would be paintings of both artists in the exhibition.  As it turned out, my weak vision could not fully appreciate these drawings and the cramped quarters was no good for my usual wariness of crowds.  

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Female Bust,1916 Gustav Klimt.  

Thoroughly underwhelmed more than not, I made my way in search of the Oceania exhibition.  Imagine having made that treacherous trek all the way up those potentially slippery metallic stairs, only to have been left none-too-inspired.  Oh well, too many old fossils in too tight a space pour moi-meme.  

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Straight away, I was soothed, uplifted and engrossed by the fecund richness of the blue-interiored salons.  Where months prior were hung van Dycks, Rubens and a most memorable Tintoretto, now into these large magical ten salons, I slipped lucidly awakened with wonder.  

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Here, in this marvellous exhibition, the worlds of dreams and spirit were fully realised.  I was in awe, inspired and fully engaged for moving through, as though in a lucid dream, salon after salon of this mammoth, breathtakingly beautiful exhibition.  

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Papuan soul canoe.

Steeped in animism and ancestor-worship, these beautiful cultures of the South Pacific (Oceania) speak to me.  Naturally, much of this is due to strong resonance, owing to past-live memories.    

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What I found rather interesting about this exhibition, is how locals reacted to the art and artefacts on display.  They were actually deferential, which is worlds removed from the usual open ridicule and vile remarks made by persons when touring the Barbara and Murray Frum African Art Collection at Toronto’s AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).  Indeed, days later, I would be reminded of how archly racist Canadians currently are and with a smugness that defies reason.  

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This exhibition is handsomely curated and the show was staged with the greatest sensitivity and respect for the cultures represented.  Rather refreshing an approach.  

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Marvellous.  Powerful and so like the totemic masks of West African cultures.  

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I especially loved this sculpture and found it vibrationally rather powerful.  

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Sublime.  

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My attempts at capturing this marvellous piece proved frustrating as a German couple who were close by were slow to move along; my impatience is of course legendary.  

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Beautiful textiles featured in the exhibition,  

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Positively love this Papuan mask.  

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Star map for navigating the seas of Oceania’s cultures.  

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August.  Regal.  There is something deeply astral about the cultures of Oceania; these are cultures which are firmly grounded in the worlds of dreams and spirit… indeed.  

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Wow!  This is what I came hunting for; I was most definitely greatly inspired.  What past-life dreams are yet to be triggered by this lucidly awakened journey through Oceania and my own reincarnational past.  

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Hands down, this was my favourite piece in the exhibition; it seemed like some interdimensional craft for travelling between distant worlds and galaxies as is only now possible in dreams.  The lines are so amazingly elegant and masterfully executed.  Phenomenal.  

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What a wonderfully uplifting exhibition!  Bravo!  

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The view on exiting the Royal Academy’s Burlington House.  

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Just look at the view across Piccadilly from the Royal Academy…  Fortnum & Mason.  Well, off we go for some retail therapy; on crossing the street, I delightfully hummed the most memorable melody from La Bayadère.  

Oh look, way below that famous Fortnum & Mason blue beckons.  For now though, I made another feverish perusal of my email.  There is nothing from Ronnie Scott’s and the hotel has emailed to say that they have not received word from them nor have they called back.  

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A gourmand’s wet dream.  

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Art whilst shopping… truly civilised.  

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A trip to the basement and my favourite Jamaican clerk was not on duty.  I did though meet a lovely, lively West African who much reminded me of the spirited gardener in the dreams of July 9, 1993, which proved one of the most beautiful yet of this incarnation wherein I travelled and had the most lucid astral plane dream encounter with Merlin in the afterlife – it will appear in the sixth and final volume of my dream memoirs of Merlin and me, Merlin and Arvin: A Shamanic Dream Odyssey, which will prove human civilisation’s first dream memoirs when fully published.  20181112_124934

Thanks to the West African clerk and how beautifully she spoke of the Canada’s Weston family, who own Fortnum & Mason, I was sold.  To hell with dropping money at Ronnie Scott’s when they could not be bothered to accommodate me.  With that, I had a couple of signed copies of Tom Parker-Bowles’ recently published cookbook, Fortnum & Mason Christmas.  For good measure, it is always good to have wonderful fragrances.  

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On getting outside, whilst prowling Piccadilly in search of the Herrick Gallery in Mayfair where a Nevisian artist was having an exhibition, the skies opened up and delivered a monsoon deluge, which readily reminded that this truly was the age of climate change.  The Herrick Gallery was a beautiful affair; however, I had arrived a day early so there was nothing to see as large canvases were being unwrapped and hung.  Getting into Green Park Station, I ducked in to use the toilet and was reminded of 28 years earlier, when you didn’t then have to pay to use the facilities.  That day, in the heat that was London in July, an old, homeless black woman sat on one of the toilets in a stall, which like all the others had no door affording privacy.  She seemed utterly otherworldly and just as removed.  Certainly, she was impervious to the bacchanalia afoot; a tall East African with the most massive cock to that point seen, was actually charging various denominations based on what the throng of near-ululating size queens were prepared to do to that unrivalled wunder schmekel of his.  

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Onward, the journey continued.  The next stop was Westminster Station where my main focus was touring the exquisite architectural gem that is the Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey.  Built by King Henry VII as Lady Chapel and deemed as the ode to the Virgin Mother, I rather suspect though that the Lady in question is his mother, Margaret Beaufort.  Hers is the only effigy that is not marble but distinctive bronze. 

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(Though photography is not permitted, I managed rather skilfully to have captured a shot of Lady Margaret Beaufort’s bronze-effigied tomb whilst in the spectacular Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey)

Of course, that soul is now incarnate and though the most reviled black woman on the planet at present, I have every conviction that Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex will just as nobly distinguish herself as when a key figure during the War of the Roses, mother of King Henry VII, grandmother of King Henry VIII after whose coronation she died days later, and great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth I.  She who founded Christ’s College and St. John’s College at Cambridge University and for whom Oxford University’s first college to admit women, Lady Margaret Hall is named.  Indeed, Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex has been a feminist for some time.  

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A lone shot of Westminster Abbey from the quire, looking to the altar before being approached by security and asked to cease doing so.  Before departing I took the time to pause at the three wreaths in the stalls of Lady Chapel, which is the spiritual home of the Order of Bath.  In recent months, three knights of the order had passed.  

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The view from the Cloisters from Westminster Abbey, to the courtyard fountain and the grandeur of Palace of Westminster’s Victoria Tower to the rear.  It was also a chance to wait out the downpours.  

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Excitedly the dash back from Westminster Abbey to Westminster Station on the Circle Line was one filled with giggles as I tried to avoid being dowsed by puddles as traffic sped past.  Next stop, Mansion House which eventually led to a break in the rains as I emerged from the Underground.  

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Look at that, the monsoon had eased up and there was even sunlight trammelling the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Always, it is good to mount the steps to this grand shrine.  

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As it is the season of Remembrance, it was time to pause and pay homage at the tomb of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson whom both Merlin and I knew in our past lives in London when musicians at court during the reign of HM King George III and the Regency of HM King George IV.  

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The Earl Jellicoe. Admiral of the Fleet.  Love that there are actual poppies on his tomb.  

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Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.

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One of the sights whilst ambling after yet another tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  

With that, it was back on the Underground and a return to Bloomsbury, where dinner and dream-filled sleep awaited.  

As ever, dream as though every moment is a dream memory of a past life (this one) for you in a future incarnation.  See it, experience it fully – without bias – appreciate it and be richly inspired by it.  Again, I can never say enough how deeply appreciative I am for your ongoing support.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

The Remains of Armistice Day.

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Strangely, though the major part of Armistice Day celebrations were long concluded, there were still more persons moving westward towards the Cenotaph than easterly towards Trafalgar Square.  My companion, a spectacled, freckled guy in his early 30s, was keen on having me come back to his flat in South Bank – We were headed towards Charing Cross Station to take the Bakerloo Line towards his place.  

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Stalling for time, as I really was not feeling him, I firmly suggested that we go tour Banqueting House as I had never been, which was the truth.  Of course, it did not help that the only thing at Banqueting House was the great ceiling art and the throne; the rest of it was just as empty as clearly, James, my “Mate” was dense.  Long years ago, a channeller of dubious skills stated rather imperiously that I would meet someone named James, who would prove rather loyal and a long-term affair.  

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Somehow, this nebulous bit of arcana seemed to be the only sane reason why I was suffering this oaf overlong.  His constant bitching about “Nutmeg,” as he referred to the Duchess of Sussex, was not winning him any favours in my books.  I had hoped to have found much more archival fare associated with the spot where HM King Charles I was executed.  Alas, there was nothing save a throne and an impressive ceiling.  

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With the toilets at Banqueting House fully occupied and alarmingly foul-smelling, back outside we dashed in hopes of finding a toilet.  A pub, whose name I did not even catch a few door towards Trafalgar Square, proved the right spot.  He ordered a couple of lagers – I never drink beer, and off I went to the toilet to relieve myself.  I waited overlong, waiting for him to possibly come in then use the stalls so that I could make a mad dash for it.  No such luck.  However, on rejoining him, he lustily talked about what he wanted me to do to him.  Never one to miss an opportunity, I suggested he go unclog his plumbing so that I could give it to him good, long and hard when we got back his place.  

Naively quick to take the bait, out I dashed into the larger-than-usual crowds when he eagerly bolted to the toilet; once outside, I then caught the tail end of the latest regiment to go moving from the roundabout as they made their way from the Strand and onto Whitehall.  With that, I swiftly made it across Pall Mall, crossed Canada House and made my way to the new entrances to the National Gallery – this James clearly was not the one.  

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Taking the time to avail myself of the museum’s free wi-fi, I sipped on a boost of Pret A Manger’s little magic, yellow potion, Hot Shot.  I then decided against the Bellini show – Italian art is way too religious for my liking and it strangely enough has never once addressed the fact that the Church of Rome has, in its role as civiliser, proven the most disruptive terror group this planet has thus far known.  For me, there is something alarmingly dangerous about a culture, which would completely and utterly eclipse this rather crucial aspect that has decided their place in the world – but enough about that for now.  

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Having dodged James, I decided to do the Courtauld exhibition as it would beat having to attend the museum on this trip.  Whilst standing in one of two long queues, along came Ms. Thang, who simply looked at us and grandly walked up to the next sales rep as though she had exited St. George’s Chapel on Ginger’s arm on the gloriously sunny early afternoon of May 19, 2018.  

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As I was next in line, I just as imperiously declared to her and the rep, “Take you, the weave and that blasted fake channel handbag to the back of the line; there are not two lines of invisible persons waiting to buy tickets.”  Before she could turn nasty with me, the lovely Dravidian lady informed her that I was next in line and, more importantly, she intended to serve me next.  Fake boobs that looked like flotation devices and feet that were too big to fit any glass slippers and, of course, there was a bulky turtleneck to hide the Adam’s apple.  

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Though “she” was prepared to do drama, I came to do me and look at art and that I did.  I was really wowed by some of these works, which I previously had not seen.  

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Naturally, this Degas masterpiece only warmed my soul.  Straight away, I was left humming the music from the grand pas de deux in Act II of La Bayadère, which I could not wait to see at week’s end.  

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Shades of Canada’s Group of Seven, to be sure.  I like the fact that the artist did not include the entire tree in the portrait.  

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Ah yes, and who doesn’t love the sublime soulfulness of a Gauguin tableau.  

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Trees, trees and even more trees.  What’s not to love!  

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After having been greatly inspired by the Courtauld Impressionist show – well worth the price – I bailed outside; there were too many parents using the free admission to the museum as a place to come in out of the elements and babysit their way too young children.  Once outside, I hailed a cab, though, not the above – wrong day and time of day.  This cab proved one of the most memorable journeys.  As The Mall was closed, we took the roundabout from in front of Trafalgar Square and headed along Pall Mall.  I wanted just then to get to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace but did not want to use the underground; it was way too glorious a day out. 

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Finally, I laid down the law to the driver, who was a burly soul and looked like the quintessential slave soul.  Soon enough, we got into a conversation when we began chatting about Canada, which I shared that I would give anything to flee in hopes of living in London.  Soon, the topic turned to sex and whatever one would have to do to get by.  Ha!  Said he, he would give up this gig of 22 years and counting by marrying a fat, ugly rich broad to which, without so much as missing beat, I chimed in, “Don’t stop there, if you can find rich, fat, ugly and toothless, now you’ve got it made.  To paraphrase Frank Sinatra from The Best Is Yet To Come, you ain’t been blown until you’ve had a gum job!”  Never in long ages had I heard a grown man laugh so hard and for so long – a fellow cab driver going in the opposite direction even honked at him and asked what was so funny. 

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After having sat in traffic for far too long, though the metre read 12£, he asked for a 10£ note and thank me, saying he ought to have paid me for the company and humour.  With that, I dashed past St. James Palace en route for The Mall which, of course, was closed.  Finally, I made it up to the Queen’s Gallery and took in the Russia: Royalty & the Romanovs exhibition, which did offer some truly inspired gems from the Royal Collection.  

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Well, of course, he ruled something.  

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I was reminded in this portrait of Tsar Nicholas I of the 1970s when the goods were readily on display; however, along came AIDS and all that display and ogling readily evaporated.  Instead, men were morphed into true peacocks with long blow-dry locks, which really did become tiresome after a season or two.  Now, of course, it is the great and truly civilised age of the Internet, which lest you forget, is saturated with more than 80% pornography.  

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The Vladimir Tiara which is not dissimilar to the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, which always looked truly handsome when worn by the ravishing, Diana, Princess of Wales.  

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Set in the green drawing room at Windsor Castle, where on May 19, 2018, Alexi Lubomirski took the official photographs of the wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex, you cannot possibly begin to imagine the overwhelming scope and grandeur of this tableau.  Truly, one is left in awe of the fact that HM Queen Victoria was a tiny acorn who matured into a mighty oak who, through her womb, extended her empire far and wide across the continent.  This was a ravishing exhibition and one of the most stunning paintings that I have ever seen from the Royal Collection.  

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After all that inspiring art, I needed to ground anew; thus, I opted to take a brisk walk, cutting through Green Park where the light fast shifted and danced below the horizon… never to be experienced again.  With that, I hopped onto the Piccadilly Line at Green Park Station and made my way back to Russell Square Station; there, I resorted to my hotel room and took a lucidly awakened, dream-sodden nap before getting on with the final celebrations of this poignant Armistice Day.  

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Before making it to Barbican Station on the Circle Line, I had had the most awakened flying dream, which had me spirited across the spiral arms of Time to a past life in London.  

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To reflect, celebrate and give thanks, how could I not indulge in an evening of music and song with the London Symphony Orchestra.  

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Nice, plush comfortable seats with a troika of gay Jewish dancer/actors seated ahead of me.  The evening was beautiful, the singing stellar.  

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As there was an empty seat on either side of me, I offered to move to the left and afforded the lovely young couple from Paris to sit together – she had been sat a row ahead and away from her spectacled, fey lover – he had more than a passing resemblance to Merlin.  Leaning in, I whispered to him, “The universe always conspires to accommodate lovers…” he blushed, they both blushed sweetly and were pleasant company that added a certain magic to the evening.  Here’s to lovers… indeed.  

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En route back to the hotel… a little late night smoothie snack was in order.  As ever, sweet dreams, don’t forget to push off and start flying and as always, thanks for your ongoing support.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

All Too Human… And Then Some!

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Well, after having been dazzled by Natalia Osipova, there was no doubt what next adventure my soul had to devour.  I arrived at Pimlico Station and enjoyed the cool brisk walk to the red and white gorgeousness of the neighbourhood architecture.  I arrived at 08:50, a good hour ahead of the opening.  I took the time to place my palm on as many of the august sycamore trees in the neighbourhood as I could.  There were some high-end cars waiting out front of the Tate Britain Museum to take in All Too Human as yet another jetliner roared towards London Heathrow.  Definitely bulletproof, a stately Benz sat closest to the entrance with a smoky grey Bentley, SUV no less, parked furthest of the cars.  

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Eventually, persons began turning up and the engaging West African security agent who had the same strong, proud, full-lipped mouth as Leontyne Price’s closed one of the two heavy black doors to protect me as I waited outside the main glass sliding doors as a private event was underway — thus one couldn’t be allowed inside.  Finally, persons began leaving, one of whom — in a beautifully vivid red coat — was Cherie Blair CBE, QC.  She was proud-looking and had the kind of broad body that as I child was so familiar when growing up in the West Indies.  She had that air about her that bespoke a life in the public eye; someone made a curt remark and she was quick on the rebuttal.  I was much humoured and reminded of Saddam Hussein trading insults with the men who moments later gladly terminated his life.  

two-plants-1980

Finally, it was on to the business in hand and what a beautifully stunning exhibition; one of the best contemporary art exhibitions that I have attended in years.  The greatest discovery was the lush, richness of the Lucian Freud still-life, Two Plants.  Thoroughly layered, engrossing and lyrical in its deft vividness.  I was left teary eyed by its sublime beauty. 

Sleeping by the Lion carpet Leigh Bowrey

Of course, I was moments earlier moved to dewy-eyed focus when drinking in the rich tableau of the portrait of creative artist and true eccentric, Leigh Bowery whom many years earlier I had seen perform in New York City.   I was reminded, of course, in Leigh’s passing of the countless many whom I have lost along the way to AIDS.

All Too Human

The poster for the show at Russell Square Tube Station in Bloomsbury.  A wonderful tribute to Leigh who covered a fair bit of ground during his lifetime… sweet and blissful dreams be yours…  

Francis-Bacon-Portrait-1962

Naturally, I booked my flight based on two things: one, Giselle with Osipova and secondly, a joint exhibition featuring Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon.  For that, I would gladly hop a Tesla to Iapetus.  Of course, this exhibition was a pilgrimage of sorts for me and it was a way of paying homage to the artistic accomplishments of cadre mates.  

Study for Portrait of Lucian Freud Francis Bacon

As per the portrait of Lucian Freud above, these two artists are cadre mates of mine and Merlin’s.  Lucian Freud is a mature priest in our entity (6).  Along with Rudolf Nureyev and Grace Jones, Francis Bacon is next-door in entity 5 of our cadre.  Francis is a mature artisan, Grace Jones a mature warrior and Rudolf Nureyev a mature sage… and how.  I was thoroughly warmed to have drunk of their spirits.  

Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne 1966 by Francis Bacon 1909-1992

This particular portrait, Isabel Rawsthrone, I especially loved.  Raw, primal and emotionally intense there is something decidedly operatic about the focussed intensity of this portrait.  After initially getting over the intensity of it, it proves rather warm and enveloping.  

Three Figures and Portrait 1975 by Francis Bacon 1909-1992

This was a thoroughly arresting and soul-stirring adage; it was a beautiful way to have begun the day’s adventures.  

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After walking past the noise of the construction/renovations taking place on the first floor — one of the workers was a real pulse-racer, looking as he did like no end of hot, rough sex and in work gear no less!  Then it was downstairs to take in the Impressionists in London exhibition.  I did not buy the catalogue.  I always am a bit put-off by the association of the word “dream” when describing the works of impressionists.  There is nothing unfocussed or diffused about dreams.  Trust you me, as someone who recalls at least half a dozen dreams on average, oftentimes, dreams prove the most lucid part of any given day.  Perhaps, it was all the wine the French impressionists consumed but the maudlin-feeling lighting just doesn’t do it for me… most times.  

Notting Hill Gate

Having had my fill, off I went from Pimlico to Nothing Hill Gate in the wet snow and made the long trek to Kensington Palace where one of the most glorious flying dreams in this lifetime was set — also, in that dream was a then incarnate, Diana, Princess of Wales with her two beautiful-spirited sons, the future HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Duke of as-yet-known after he marries his beautiful bride, Ms. Meghan Markle — a mature artisan, to his mature warrior and an entity mate of his no less.  

Kensington Palace

On the long trek along Broad Walk in Kensington Gardens from the high street, I enjoyed the look of snow everywhere.  The odd flake fell from time to time as joggers braved the fierce wind off the park.  One brave soul with a shock of close-cropped red hair, sported the greatest thighs as he jogged strictly in a pair of wrestler’s shorts.  He proved warming for my blood, indeed.  

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As I got towards the edge of Kensington Palace the handsome raven above swooped in from off my rear right and towards the palace.  He alighted, cocked the head at me and kept taking to the wind to come closer, all the while fixing me with a hard gaze.  “Yes, of course, you can see my heart.  Love is the password” I said aloud to the totemic creature as it kept on calling at me and edging ever closer, though, not being confrontational.  Satisfied with my password, seemingly, it bobbed and took to the air never to alight again.  I rather appreciated the warm welcome.  

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I loved the sparse beauty of the King’s Gallery at Kensington Palace, which — for me at least — was lauded over by the Equestrian Portrait of HM King Charles I by Sir Anthony van Dyck, who happens to be in entity 1 of my cadre; he, presently incarnate and one of my oldest friends, shortly is about to return from his winter stay at his Acapulco penthouse; I will be visiting him later this spring on the Canadian west coast.

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A truly beautifully tailored, handsome suit, this one.  I am not a big fashion person — I believe that one is best dressed when naked and preferably tumescent.  I did, though, rather enjoyed the movement through the Diana, Princess of Wales exhibition.

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A very beautiful second-level mature artisan, she was too.  

HRH Catherine Duchess of Cambridge

Having been inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales’ portrait, I made my way to Charing Cross Station in Trafalgar Square and cut across the street where there was a broken water main flooding the street.  As usual, Yoda was there doing his routine and, no doubt, earning a pretty quid.  I took in the HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge-curated exhibition, which had opened two nights earlier on my arrival.  Though, I had stood outside the National Portrait Gallery to catch a glimpse of her arrival, I soon dashed off in the increasing snowfall, if I were to make my Jazz at Lincoln Center performance across town at the Barbican Center.  So, having missed seeing her in person, the next best thing was to go gaze at the portrait of HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  I love it as it is so layered and complex; she is a late-mature warrior soul.  

National Portrait Gallery

As I move very, very quickly, I was out of there and soon grabbing a take-away fish and chips at Ben’s on Shaftesbury.  I then headed back to my hotel, ate, napped and got ready for a night at Royal Albert Hall to see OVO.  

Royal Albert Hall

Never before had I taken in a Cirque du Soleil performance — I have my reasons…  Nonetheless, I just wanted to enjoy anew the ambiance and acoustics of the marvellous auditorium.  

OVO

The show was no more engaging or exciting than bad bathhouse sex, which if it weren’t so late, one would never have bothered engaging in.  A perfectly forgettable tourist sort of thing to indulge when there was no other nighttime entertainment going that was worthwhile.  I could have taken in 42nd Street in the West End but I had already seen it at least a dozen times when then living and dancing in New York City in the early 1980s.  The idea of taking in 42nd Street was only slightly less irritating than the thought of messy bathhouse sex… options… choices, indeed!  

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After the show, on the long walk from Royal Albert Hall to South Kensington Station, a young mesomorph asked me for a fag — I don’t smoke — but it was obvious what he was after.  He sat across the narrow aisle on the eastbound Piccadilly Line ride and the rest proved a rather memorable night.  

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The morning after the night before, it was off to Windsor Castle, of which I will next blog.  

All Too Human Catalogue

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As ever, sweet dreams and thank you for your ongoing support.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved,

Two Albrechts but what a Giselle!

Giselle Royal Ballet

Second night in London and there was still lots of snow — at least, by London standards; after Montréal where three feet of snow is no horror, 1.5 inches seemed to have arrested London in its tracks — I was all excited to see David Hallberg whose recent memoir I read on the flight over and carried in my custom Ruben Mack messenger bag, to have it signed after the performance.  Enjoyed my glass of champagne and being in the balcony at Royal Opera house was magical.  My seat was smack in the middle of three Japanese young ladies who were being chaperoned by their lovely teacher.  I negotiated and they excitedly expressed their appreciation at being able to switch with me being on the end so that that they could all sit together.  The closest two sat on their coats and I even offered the tinier future Giselle my coat to sit on.  

Natalia Osipova Matthew Ball

Naturally, I was returned to London as last June, I had pleasantly discovered Natalia Osipova dancing in Marguerite and Armand and was instantly a fan.  There was no way that I was going to miss her Giselle.  Midway through Act I of Giselle, David whom I had never previously seen perform, failed to have impressed.  He seemed not to be dancing full out and the partnership seemed strained; it was as though they had not had enough rehearsals.  Then after intermission and really good champagne, the company’s artistic director came to the stage to announce that Mr. Hallberg had been injured during Act I and would not be proceeding; he then announced that the youngster, Matthew Ball would dance the role of Prince Albrecht in Act II — the house went wild as he had days earlier made his debut in the ballet.  

Natalia Osipova

What then unfolded was the most glorious of evenings in the theatre.  Ms. Osipova, who has the most phenomenal ballon ever witnessed on any ballerina — to say nothing of her turns — danced as if truly overjoyed.  Mr. Ball was also fantastic and I howled for joy at their curtain calls.  Heck, I, who never go backstage, went in hopes of having Mr. Hallberg sign my copy of his book; however, he was a no-show.  Ms. Osipova, inordinately gracious and an ecstatic Mr. Ball, who had had to dash back to the theatre that evening, was only too happy to sign my copy of the program as a steady drizzle fell beyond the double, glass stage doors.  

BernsteinJLCO

Of course, the night prior, I had trekked in even more snow out to Barbican Centre to catch yet another performance of the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra led by the unparallelled genius, Wynton Marsalis.  The programme was exclusively Leonard Bernstein in a celebration of his centenary… and what a phenomenal show it was.  London’s Jews were out in force to be sure.  I sat next to a princely 93-year-old Jew whose energies were rather like those of Yehudi Menuhin and boy was this man gracious of spirit.  To say the least, I had a ball.  

Barbican2

Naturally, one goes to a Wynton Marsalis performance for the encores!  And boy, he did not disappoint.  As always, I unashamedly howled like mad at the end of all that.  This musical genius’s fabulousness is out of this world.  This truly was a marvellous way to celebrate  a homecoming of sorts; London truly does feel like another West Indian isle.  As Merlin and I shared a rather accomplished life as court musicians in late 18th century London, it is always great to be in London.  

Arvin da Brgha 1.3.2018 Royal Academy London, England

Though I had downloaded the app and had planned on biking whilst in London, the snow everywhere precluded any such adventure.  So there was I next morning — the night of which I attended Giselle, leaving my hotel in Bloomsbury and making it from Russell Square to Piccadilly Circus to, of course, look at art.  

Royal Academy2

Naturally, I had arrived at the Royal Academy at Burlington House to see what for me was the most eagerly anticipated art exhibition in years:  Charles I, King and Collector.  I was the first to have arrived for the show, slipped inside from the snow before being asked to wait outside by security.   Whilst waiting at the head of the queue, there were three gentlemen who arrived, all on the other side of 70 years of age and they were the most urbane aristocrats whom I had ever encountered.  The way they spoke; there was no denying that they were posh.  Moreover, it was more than their accents; their use of language made it sound as though they were speaking a form of English which was mannered, musical and as though another language entirely.  

Royal Academy

Finally, once inside the exhibition, I was truly enthralled, moving from salon to salon as though in the most lucidly captivating dream.  Here were all my favourite Sir Anthony van Dyck paintings in one place — plus, there were some which previously I had not seen… at least, in this lifetime.  Naturally, there were also some rather intimate Sir Peter Paul Rubens in the exhibition, which featured the art from the impressive collection of HM King Charles I… that ode to swaggerliciousness and a young sage to boot.  

HM King Charles I Three Positions Sir Anthony van Dyck Oil on Canvas

I had managed to snap four paintings whilst moving through the first of ten salons when a kindly security agent asked that I obey the rules and refrain from taking photographs.  This truly was as though caught in a flying dream as I moved intoxicated of spirit from salon to salon, I managed whilst looking at murals in one of the larger salons, to make my way to the inner sanctum where the most glorious Sir Anthony van Dycks were hung — the two equestrian portraits one from the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square the other, which previously was hung at Buckingham Palace; there was also that most striking portrait Charles at the hunt which normally is hung at Musée du Louvre.  A lovely henna-braided African security agent informed me that I had progressed improperly and ought to retrace my steps and view the art in the salons on the periphery of the three large internal salons where murals, tapestries and the prized, aforementioned van Dycks of the Royal Collection collected by HM King Charles I were hung.  

Sir Peter Paul Rubens Self-Portrait Oil on Canvas

At the point at which I was about to leave one salon for the next, I suddenly and distinctly thought of Kritika Bhatt the Michael channeller who had been trained by Sarah J. Chambers one of the original channellers in the Michael group.  I thought it odd at the time as I only ever would think of her when a request for overleaves are outstanding and my impatience is having her surface to mind as I wonder if I would be receiving the requested overleaves that day.  Since this was not the case, I thought per chance, that I was thinking of her as she is known to have King Charles spaniels.  Yes, that must be the out-of-nowhere association, I concluded.  

Esther_before_Ahasuerus_(1547-48);_Tintoretto,_Jacopo

On entering the next salon, I immediately moved towards the largest masterpiece and was struck by its depth and impressive use of strong bold colours.  What’s more, I had never seen the painting before.  Fascinating, I whispered before heading to the title to see the title and artist.  I was struck dead in my tracks when reading, Esther before Ahaseuras by Jacopo Tintoretto.  Wow!  I exclaimed.  Years earlier, in an email regarding the overleaves for other artists, Kritika had made mention that her current son had previously been the 16th century Italian artist, Jacopo Tintoretto!  I was floored and for me that out-of-nowhere associative thought of Kritika was validation of the overleaves and information shared years earlier.  

Sir Anthony van Dyck Self-Portrait with Sunflower Oil on Canvas

Earlier, whilst moving through the first salon, I had never come so close to Sir Anthony van Dyck’s Self-Portrait with Sunflower before.  Taking the time to really study the painting, I was struck by my response; suddenly, at my solar plexus, I began experiencing a — not though rare — thumping which was independent of my cardio rhythm.  Never before had I been able to so closely inspect the eyes in the self-portrait.  What was really interesting was the look of the artist’s left eye in the painting; it really was a darker version of my Dutch born and oldest friend, Joop who previously had been Sir Anthony van Dyck.  Though Joop’s eyes are a strong, soulful blue in this lifetime, they truly are the same eyes as Sir Anthony van Dyck’s in the self portrait.  Different colour, same vibration… same intensity.  I had not been expecting that and just as later whilst moving from one salon to the next, I was not expecting to have the Michael Teachings and overleaves validated.  Nonetheless, there is was, two instances of overleaves validated and that was the kind of bonus that one could not have anticipated whilst planning this trip.  

Fortnum & Mason

After purchasing my lovely catalogue of the exhibition, I moved across the street and did some shopping at the grand old dame, Fortnum & Mason.  Let’s face it, I was there to slip into the eatery and score myself the best free lunch in London… and as ever, the bites on offer did not disappoint.  I bought marvellous teas as only can be found at Fortnum & Mason then hopped onto a double decker, driving westerly along Piccadilly.  Making my way up the stairs, I soon had to double back on myself when realising that the upper deck was packed with a sprinkling of London’s homeless, who obviously had been afforded refuge out of the cold and what for London was unheard of snows.  God it smelt atrocious.  As the bus made a right onto Buckingham Palace Road, I hopped off and made my way past the Royal Mews which were closed owing to snow and made it for the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.  

Charles II Art & Power

I was there to be wowed, though, sadly was not by the Restoration exhibition.  Naturally, how could it have been a show to rival that at the Royal Academy when most of that art had been sold off by the time of HM King Charles II’s coronation.  I would have been rather underwhelmed, had I gone to London just to take in this show.  As it was, it served as ample reason to have appreciated the Royal Academy show even more.  

HM King Charles IIb

Really got off on the vibration exuded by HM King James II as he held court in all his glory in the portrait in the same show at the Queen’s Gallery Buckingham Palace (following painting). 

HM King James II when HRH Prince James Duke of York

Well having had my fill of the Restoration art or the paucity thereof, I enjoyed trekking in the snows along Buckingham Palace Road to Victoria Station and descended into the depths of London’s Underground for yet another adventure.  

St. Paul's Cathedral

Emerging from the bowels of London, I made it to the soul of the nation to pay homage, yet again, at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  

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I wanted to go and light a candle, I lit two actually, in homage to the ennobled lives that both Merlin and I enjoyed in this glorious city three centuries earlier — the memories of which readily surface in the dreamtime.  

St. Paul's Cathedral3

Before one gets too old to be able to make the trek, I managed my way to the whispering gallery, sat down and caught my wind back whilst reflecting on my life.  

Henry Moore

This place so rich in history, is also the sacred shrine where entity mates have left their mark.  Henry Moore is an old artisan in my entity.  

Arthur Duke of Wellington

Of course, no visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral would be complete without paying a visit to the soul of the nation at its crypt and paying homage to ennobled souls who’ve made an indelible mark on London… on history.  There is great and fittingly so, grandeur in the tomb of Arthur, Duke of Wellington’s resting place.  

Admiral Nelson

Of course, the other tomb which dominates the crypt at St. Paul’s Cathedral is that of Admiral Nelson, whom both Merlin and I knew during that incarnation.  Doubtless, it was his passion and tales for and about Nevis, which planted that seed that sparked three lifetimes later with my soul’s choice to reincarnate into Nevis; indeed, it has proven an isle no less magical than his captivating anecdotes then must have been.  Days later, of course, I would see the bullet which felled this great man whilst visiting Windsor Castle; that is for another post.  For now, I rushed home, took a dream-filled nap before heading to Covent Garden and being wowed by two not one Albrechts and the most exciting prima ballerina on the planet… at least, as far as I am concerned.  

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As ever, thanks for your ongoing support and look forward in coming months to book three of my dream-filled memoirs, mandated by Merlin and which prove human civilisation’s first dream memoirs.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.

Happy Reading…

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Recently, I made a quick visit to Montréal to catch the March Chagall exhibition at Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal.  The exhibition closes on June 11, 2017 when I will be away.  For that reason, I simply had to go.  Besides, in advance of my trip, i needed to indulge my soul at Spa Ovarium.  

The show was more stunning than the Marc Chagall show at Toronto’s AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) a few years back.  For one, the décor of the show was spot-on.  What’s more it is a tribute to Montréal more august Jewish community — comparable to Toronto’s — that this show was so extensive and rich in works of art.  There were pieces in this exhibtion that not even I previously knew of.  Hampstead, TMR (Town of Mount Royal) Westmount, Outremont, Côte-Saint-Luc, Côte-des-Neiges, all Montréal neighbourhoods with strong distinctive Jewish burghers.  He had a strong sense of Montréal’s Jewishness for taking in this exhibition as compared to Toronto’s.  I returned the next day to soak it all in before returning to Toronto.  After the initial visit, I Ubered along rue Sherbrooke Ouest to Est in search of Spa Ovarium.  

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There, I had what was possibly the greatest massage ever — thank you Valerie —  This woman is truly magical, shamanic even.  First I indulged a neuro-spa, then massage then capped it off with the limitlessness of a bain flotant which was exceptional.  

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Twenty-five years earlier, I had been to Montréal to celebrate the city’s 350th anniversary.  At the time, my companion was the very exciting and truly eccentric, Milan Newcombe — his Michael Overleaves appear in Volume I of A Six Volume Michael Overleaves Appendix which débuts June 21, 2017.  Two weeks after the 375th anniversary on May 17, 2017, there was still excitement in the air.   I met up with an old Writer friend from high school has lived in Montréal for the last twenty-plus years.  We dined on exquisite Thai fare in Old Montréal at his beautiful loft.  We then walked along rue Saint-Catherine Ouest through the Gay Village and shared  a toast to Montréal — both of us sipped on calming teas.  

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Calvary

Oil on Canvas

1912. Marc Chagall

Provenance: Museum of Modern Art, New York City

En route back to Toronto, though there had been forecast for more rains this very wet and soggy late Spring, there was nothing but sunshine.  Driving along Highway 401, I captured beautiful photos of prismed light in a streak of clouds… it was truly magical.  Then, I got in to the most glorious piece of mail, a hardcover copy of both Merlin and Arvin: A Shamanic Dream Odyssey and A Six Volume Michael Overleaves Appendix.  In the photo, the mug bears a copy of the Camel Mandala which Merlin created in 1977 for one of his choice friends.  A detail of the Lion Mandala (1986) — which he created for me and it proved the last mandala that he would create — serves as the cover art for what proves Human Civilisation’s First Dream Memoirs, Merlin and Arvin: A Shamanic Dream Odyssey.  The detail of the Phoenix Mandala for Slava Gagarian — his Armenian Jewish theatre mentor who lost his entire family during the Shoah — serves as the cover art for A Six Volume Michael Overleaves Appendix.  

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Here’s to life, here’s to lovers everywhere and here’s to you for your support these past several years.  I am ever grateful.  Happy reading!  

The Rabbi of Vitebsk

Oil on Canvas

1914-1922 Marc Chagall

Provenance: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Galleria Internazionale d’ Arte Moderna di Ca’ Pesaro.  

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.