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. 

Charter of Rights

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.  

Here’s to You!

Just a wee glimpse into my magical life where dreamquests are all begun in the groovy comfort of my collapsible pyramid.  I have had a pyramid since 1984 in one form or another.  This incarnation of my dream chamber, I rather love.  Being surrounded by art is about being greatly inspired.  

Happy New Year!  Thanks for your ongoing support and here’s wishing you the very best this year!  Sweet dreams as ever! 

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

Strange Fruit… the gold standard.

© 1992 Diana Ross Live

© 1993 Diana Ross Live.  Stolen Moments: The Lady Sings… Jazz and Blues.

Bass: Ron Carter

Trumpet: Jon Faddis

Trumpet: Roy Hargrove

Without doubt, the strongest Diana Ross live performance ever.  Poignant.  Moving.  Those large beauteous eyes mirror a lot of pain and rage during its performance.  Again, if you can’t sing it because you know damn well you can’t, why bother wasting the time on the likes of you?

A true mystery to me it remains why when one hates Blacks with such unbridled passion, one would end up squatting all over Black culture, Jazz, as though it were the latest Settler craze.  More to the point, there are no racially predatory persons creating Haida or Inuit art… and with good reason; then again, neither are expressions of Black creative genius.  Culture is a non-negotiable.

Alas, there is the racial predator aggressively overrunning the culture then turning around and acting as though to somehow include Blacks in Jazz – which after all one has already declared does have its roots in Klezmer – is tantamount to the Oscars where every 3/4 centuries or so, one will deign to consider tossing a best actress Oscar a Black female’s way.

The same Black female whom, in this the new age of minstrelsy, Diana Krall in her invisible blackface can never proximate.  However, this is about market share and having the right look and simply getting the lion’s share of fame and fortune for being born of the womb of the racial predator.  La Krall who in the pop idiom would have never risen stratospherically to the heights she has; certainly, she would never have had more than a second album.

She is a marvellous enigma – an icon in that sense for what she represents.  “I can get more market share than you” and that’s that.  She is cold and sterile like the gun that gunned down way too many young Black men – like the gun that set Ferguson, Missouri ablaze – whose lives clearly do not matter to some.  To see what a true fraud La Krall is – she who seemed nothing more than a venereal wart on Oscar Peterson’s arse, an arse which was too good to be wiped by mere Blacks when finally he was parked in palliative care – just listen to her do a damn good Joni Mitchell impersonation on her current album.

Sitting there at the piano, botoxed within a breath of being on view in her casket, La Krall coolly cops that ‘phuch ewe’ swagger she owns so well – just as Eminem does.  Yes, indeed, it is all about money and as race ever trumps either class or reason, there she drifts through life in Bentleys where others, the real McCoys, can hardly afford a Lada.

Again, why should we Blacks culturally settle for a Lada when we can, by right, damn well afford a Bentley?  Alas, who knows whether Cassandra Wilson is dead or alive anymore?

More than ever, these pale imitators no more give a damn about Blacks or Black culture than the next Klansman.  Roberta Gambarini is the best impersonator of Carmen McRae going… nothing more.  There they squat, this elephantine, oppressive presence all over Jazz, pulling an Eric Garner thereby suffocating and stifling the very breath of Black culture.  Seriously, who are Emilie-Claire Barlow, Holly Cole, Sophie Milman but mirrors of the grudging contempt for which one holds Blacks and Black culture.

Never once did I, or Merlin and I for that matter, manage to gain entry into Montréal Jazz Bistro when it sat on Sherbourne Street.  Indeed, the one time, we made it to George’s Spaghetti house, having previously tried to without success, was as the guests of David Tipe; the evening was cut short after a stranger wondered over to the table where we sat and in the midst of making small-talk blurted out something about ‘niggers’.

Without the support from the moneyed classes, there can be no arts, no culture.  Racism is economics and the result of the focussed economic oppression of Blacks – all fostered by the demonisation, marginalisation and dismissal of Blacks, in particular Black males, by a cinema/television culture, the architects of whom are the same persons who squat all over the culture and would be so smug as to blithely claim on live radio that Jazz has its roots in Klezmer.  Some alternate reality that.

Thank goodness there was a strong Black middle class, little more than a century ago, without which there would have been no birth of Jazz.  No Coltrane, no Ellington, no Mingus and on and on and on.  There has been a steadfast erosion to near obliteration of the Black middle classes such that anyone today without an awareness of music history would think it incredulous that Blacks should claim to be the innovators of Jazz.

Naturally, of course, the same cinematic agendum that would keep Blacks all but invisible and extinct when not risible, violent and or marginalised has never once seen fit to have cinematically documented the lives of any of these true geniuses of Jazz which one keeps claiming is a true American art form, yet until Michelle Obama took up residency in the White House, it had never before been performed therein.

Black history month is about celebrating and most of all it is about never for a nanosecond losing sight of who the racial predator is and despite Nikki Yanofsky – the darling little Montréalaise with the bought career – claiming, “Oh Ella we love you!” well to channel the very spirit of Frederick ‘Mr. Hat’ Jones, I declare, “Bitch please.  Ella don’t give no damn if you can turn piss into wine.  We ain’t having it!”

Sing Strange Fruit or just go make country music; an idiom, I might add, where you never see Blacks claiming ownership thereof or time-wasting patronising.  After all, Country is the music of the very people about whom Strange Fruit was penned.

Alas, your racially predatory animus is so intense that you can’t but squat all over the culture, with total disregard, and thereby make it your own.  Besides, what do you care what we think?

Go on, go ahead, let’s see you sing Strange Fruit with all the pain and rage as Diana Ross… to say nothing of Billie Holiday.  

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

Blue Flower Plumed Owl.

Blue Flower Plumed Owl 2008 20 x 26

Ink, Coloured Pencil

20 x 26 Inches

© 2008 Kenojuak Ashevak

http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php

What I especially love about this Kenojuak is that the forward facing wings’ lines are evocative of West African masks’ aesthetics.

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

Vigilant Owl.

Vigilant Owl 2007 ed 50 lithograph 22.5 x 30

Lithograph

Edition: 50

22.5 x 30.0 Inches

© 2007 Kenojuak Ashevak

Sweet dreams shaman as we celebrate the anniversary of your birth on October 3, 1927.

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

Owl’s Bouquet.

Stonecut, Stencil 24.5 x 30.25 Inches Edition of 50 © 2007 Kenojuak Ashevak Happy Birthday Canada! For me, it doesn’t get any more Canadian than Kenojuak. Her overleaves to follow: Ashevak, Kenojuak 3/10/27 + 8/1/13 Baffin Island This creative fragment is a fourth level old artisan. Kenojuak is in the perseverance mode with a goal […]

Ravens Entwined.

Lithograph 57 x 76.3 cm Edition: 100 © 2004 Kenojuak Ashevak Provenance: 62/100 Art collection Arvin da Braga. 50th birthday gift from art dealer friend!  A true treasure. _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ © 2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.

Primal Exchange.

Serigraph 22 x 27.5 Inches Edition: 50 © 2011 Kenojuak Ashevak Provenance: 39/50 Art collection of Arvin da Braga Without doubt, it is always good to have piece in one’s collection that differs from the norm for which that artist is known. __________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ © 2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.

Hidden Owl.

Serigraph 23 x 22 Inches Edition: 35 © 2006 Kenojuak Ashevak Provenance: 27/35 Art collection Arvin da Braga. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenojuak_Ashevak http://www.nfb.ca/film/eskimo-artist-kenojuak http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=86 ______________________________________ I would be remiss, if I did not take this time to say, thank you. Thank you so very much for your support and for having found inspiration and a home in my […]