#BestDespinaEver!

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Opening nights are always such fun… Tuesday night past, I was reminded of all the opening nights that I would attend with a slightly neurotic Merlin as some show or other that he had directed was being presented to the world… As ever, it was great to see my plus one, Lucian Mann-Chomedy as the ideal partner for these occasions. Always reserved, pleasant and just the right amount of chatter and wit.

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Whilst Lucian enjoyed the pre-show lecture in the Four Seasons Centre Amphitheatre, I slipped next door into the warmth of the Sheraton Centre Hotel and warmed myself on a glass of sherry whilst finishing off 2018’s Scotiabank Giller Prize winner on my KOBO.

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What an utterly stunning tour de force. It was a moment to reflect, this Black History Month on just where we blacks are in the scheme of things. God only knows, it has been bruising to watch Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex become the print media’s most reviled and hunted fugitive from justice of that most vile creature, the racial predator.

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I was still smarting at the events of a week earlier during the winter season’s first major snowstorm. I had been recalling to friends how strange it now was, compared to my first winter in Canada. December 1, 1974 and it snowed that day more than 8 inches. Back then it generally was guaranteed to snow once if not twice weekly. Now at end of January, 2019 and we were finally having our first major snow. This was not like snow from years past… Now it was a dirty, sooty-looking hard mess that lingered, largely in part because the city has contracted out its snow removal services.

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As there are no windows in my apartment – Sol’s too damn bright by far and besides, boarded up windows afford me more art-hanging space – I got down in the early afternoon that Monday with my bike, only to be met by falling snow and several accumulated inches. Back up I went, retired the trusty chrome steed and returned and hopped into a snazzy Audi A6 Uber ride with a Macedonian whose spirit was as smooth and elegant as matchingly was his car. The mood set the tone for my day. As I am known to work 16-hr days, I called another Uber at the end of gig one whilst hoping to get to gig 2 in good time. The snow was still coming down; it was also bitterly cold and windy.

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When finally, Uber #2 arrived, cold and dark with icy pellets mixed in with the snow, the driver rolled down his passenger side window and declared, “Sorry Buddy but I am going to have to cancel this ride…” Already running late, with my wheeled suitcase at the ready, he edged along as I tried to open the door and raised his voice, his eyes almost feral-looking beneath his turbanned, narrow skull. “I said I am cancelling you. One: I never take people like you in my car. Two: you have a shitty rating… Sorry, not sorry. Fuck you Buddy.” With that, he stepped on the gas and I had to swiftly haul me and suitcase out of the way as the rear of his red older model car whose interior did have that blasted malodorous melange of curry, dirty armpit, dirty arse, smegma and whatever the fuck else that passes for immigrants of choice these days. Finally, after having struggled out onto a still-not-ploughed Bay Street, I managed to hail the fourth cab whose West African driver insisted that I call Uber and report him… Days later, I was afforded assurances that the racist Dravidian was no longer part of Uber’s fleet. Similarly, when calling a Beck Taxi with a fairly generic name as Arvin, on coming downstairs the Indo-Canadian drivers on several occasions as though staying on script would feign obsequiousness and state that they were deeply sorry but owing to a family emergency, they were having to take the cab out of service. No sooner than having refused me a ride, they would then be observed heading out to Wellesley, turning on their unoccupied light and picking up a fare off the road. As if the blasted motherfuck, the likes of your overbred arse invented Jazz.

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Each and every time that one experiences racial animus, is preyed on racially, it always harks back to that first winter in Toronto. My best mate from two summers earlier, when I would come to Canada to visit with my dad during school break, had been sick. After Sunday church service at Knox Presbyterian at Harbord and Spadina before returning to our beautiful home at 122 Mortimer Avenue, I would visit – my dad and I – with Tommy who was holding up at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital on University Avenue. My father explained that Tommy was sick with the winter flu, which sometimes could last for months and well beyond winter. I was a scrawny little fourteen-year-old who looked like most ten-year-old Canadian kids as I crawled the halls at Harbord Collegiate where among my mostly Italian-Canadian chums was future lawyer, Rocco Galati. As Tommy, who was a couple of years older than me, had gladly shared books with me the two summers prior that I would take to Knox summer camp and read then have a good stroke off, lusting after my inamorato, Tommy, I readily agreed to do his newspaper route for him until he came home. My first Saturday, the cart was overflowing with the thick Toronto Star newspaper and there was a good foot of snow everywhere. It was hellish but for Tommy, I was game to go the distance – who knows what hot frottage, docking and more was in the offing for having done his route for him! When I got to the northeast corner of Floyd and Bater Avenues that first Saturday to collect the funds, the door opened to a woman whose response to me was the most hideous display of the displaced madness that is white bigotry. Screaming at the top of her lungs, the woman in her upper seventies, vituperatively cursed my black bugger arse off and laid down the law. Never again, “you dirty little nigger” was I to set foot on her verandah.., I was to put the paper between her screen and front doors, knock then return to the top of her steps and wait for her to pay the bill. That first Saturday, she ripped the paper from my hand, flung the money at me. She was terrifying, in her faded blue A-line dress, black spectacles that had those upturned pointed edges at the sides; she wore faux pearls. Most of all, she wore the most hideously terrifying eyes. I remember how much they looked like eyes of a rooster, especially so for being such puffy eyes. Like the evolved, winged and feathered reptilians that roosters are, her eyes truly did look not the least bit human. She was so consumed with racial animus that it was truly frightening. By the time I made it home, I found myself regurgitating. Thereafter, every Saturday, I would take my spot at the top of the steps and consistently she would hurl out pennies mostly at me rather than the verandah where that first winter I had to suffer the indignity of picking through inches of snow on the verandah, steps and lawn to collect my money. Naturally, without fail she called most Saturdays to the Toronto Star, complaining of either not having received her paper on time or that it was missing altogether. This would mean having to buy her a replacement at the corner store, take it and only to be fed on by the hideous-of-spirit racial predator. Like a true cockhound many an indignity I suffered in hopes of my spectacled, full-lipped and scholarly inamorato, Tommy hooking up with me for having been so loyal to him. The summer prior, I had ventured to the public pool on Broadview at Riverdale Park with him and a couple of others and thrilled beyond belief was I to spy his large pendulous balls and that hammer-headed girthsome salami that pummelled his bikinis. Indeed, for Tommy I would suffer much indignity. There was a low-rise apartment building at 1111 Broadview where on the ground floor, there was another predator, this one equally septuagenarian who lived alone, smoked incessantly and always answered the door in various stages of undress, mostly ever only wearing a soiled merino. He was always a generous tipper; a whole 2$ bill in 1974/75 was serious cash. Naturally, in the pre-Ciaslis epoch old anorexic, drunken paunched predator would sometimes tug on the old bulbous semi-flaccid/semi-tumescent, though, pendulous but perfectly useless appendage, trying to lure me in. Sitting there in all that squalor and acting as though he was sugar daddy material… indeed. He was always keen on trying to grab me when giving me the “tip” and I was ever sly and crafty enough to get away from him each time. He, too, lead me to regurgitate, which I had not done since age nine and suffering my first racial attack. Of course, to this day, neither academia nor medicine will concede that there is any such a thing as the racial predator and the effects it has on those preyed on – mostly blacks – and the psyche/mental illness of those who prey on others chiefly non-blacks in varying degrees of severity based on otherness.

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Finally, the house lights went down and I was met by the whimsical vista of the COC’s production of W. A. Mozart’s glorious opera, Cosi Fan Tutte. Previously, I had caught productions of this Mozart gem in Chicago, Montréal and New York City. I was not expecting much at this rate. The Frida Kahlo connection was a bit of a stretch but the butterflies fast won me over.

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From the moment that she stepped onto stage, my spirit soared aloft higher than Mozart’s glorious music to that point had spirited me. Never before had there been so captivating a Despina. My eyes teared up and I was ever on the cusp of explosive giggles. Then what made me truly come undone was the moment Tracy Dahl took to the stage as the notary… by now, I was losing tears and beginning to emit choked snorted chuckles. Each Saturday back in 1974/75 when doing Tommy’s newspaper route, I would end off taking the Saturday Star to Giovanna an octogenarian Italian, who was plump, charming and more adorable than any mere mortal ought to be. Soon, we were fast lovers and she loved fussing over me, baking me each Saturday nice, warm, oven-fresh biscotti washed down with a glass of ice-cold “gingah raleh”… her thick Italian accent was part of her charm. Hers was a large black and white cat, simply known as pussy gatto, who always sat nesting on the armchair. Each week, Giovanna sat transfixed as I read her the newspaper; her vision was to that point fairly deteriorated. As a way of better forging our bond and because most of my mates at Harbord were Italian, for three years, I studied Italian and that really impressed Giovanna, who was simply known as “Mama Mia.”

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As the opera progressed, Ms. Dahl as the notary, dashed and took cover beneath the table at which point, I buried my face in the program with explosive laughter. Straight away, I was reminded of each Saturday when the ever silent pussy gatto would bolt from the armchair and take cover beneath the sofa where I sat as Giovanna began an explosion of long-winded farts. Even the singer’s voice sounded much like Giovanna’s as she sang the role of notary. Remarkably, it was as though she was channelling Giovanna. In that moment, I was healed of the bile, which the recent Uber incident had caused to surface, bile that dated as far back as 1974.

In the end, Tommy’s parents sold their house and it was not until a couple years later that I discovered from the neighbour next-door that Tommy, who had never returned to their Mortimer and Logan home, had died of Leukaemia. Indeed, the winter flu was my dad’s way of protecting me from the callousness of having to lose a friend so early in life.

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Apart from the catharsis that Tracy Dahl’s performance personally effected, I don’t think that it would be biased of me to state that hers was the runaway performance in the COC’s fantastic, and fast-paced I might add, production of Cosi Fan Tutte.

As ever, mischievously push down and melt with laughter in celebration of the joy that is life and start having yourselves a most glorious of flying dreams. Thanks for your ongoing support of this happening astral joint on this side of the astral plane. I love you more.

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

Two Weddings, A Baby, A Gaggle of Racial Predators and Hadrian’s frightful ghost.

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The recent wedding of the Duke of Huescar to his handsome bride was a stunning bit of theatre. He is, of course, the future Duke of Alba, grandson of one of the grandest nobles of the last century, the inimitable Duchess of Alba.

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The cut and design of the bridge’s dress is truly elegant; apparently, it was designed by her creatively gifted mother herself. They make a truly handsome couple.

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At this juncture, I have not yet found any video of their nuptials on the Internet; perhaps, it will surface at a later date. The sublime elegance of her dress deftly reflects the undeniable harmony between this couple. So good it is to see a couple of souls who after having suffered lost through death in recent times, return to find each other anew, to further explore their loving bond.

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Whilst awaiting the second royal wedding, I passed much time reviewing the coverage of the royal wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex last May. I was ever intrigued at the notion of an even larger guest list for the marriage of Jack Brooksbank and HRH Princess Eugenie of York.

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A simple wedding, I was moved by how vastly different it was to that of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s months earlier. The most obvious difference in both ceremonies being the latter’s carriage ride; a rather simple affair. This, of course, was an affair filled with aristocrats – some of whom had attended the earlier wedding last May.

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Along with Tom & Lara Inskip and Guy Pelly with a wife more noticeably pregnant, there was the ever stylish Sofia Wellesley, this time equally stunning in a Dolce & Gabbana dress.

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Tom & Lara Inskip processing towards the Lower Ward and St. George’s Chapel.

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Guy Pelly attending the second royal wedding of the year.

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Guy’s expectant wife, Elizabeth Pelly accompanied by Astrid Harbord.

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Also, attending their second royal wedding for the year, Zoe & Jake Warren.

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Back for more, Pippa Matthews with her younger brother James Middleton with that Tsar Nicholas thing going on with his look. For me, a woman is most beautiful when expectant – fecund, voluptuous, primal she is then most powerful; she is then truly the creator of life. How beautiful is that Kelly green?

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Perennial favourite Chelsy Davy with Melissa Percy, who wasted little time in saying, this mum don’t babysit and there went Tom van Straubenzee. Gorgeous periwinkle dress.

Cressida Bonas

Cressida Bonas radiating the light magical essence of artisan souls everywhere.

Franz Albrecht & Cleopatra zu Oettingen-Spielberg, young Bavarian royals attending their second royal wedding at Windsor Chapel this year.

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Holly Candy – hands down, the best dressed lady at this royal wedding. Those matching pink bow gloves took her outfit stratospherically to the next level of |über soignée. I really did not think that Amal Clooney deserved that honour at the royal wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess; for one thing, her hat was worn on the wrong side of the head – always on the right side!

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Coming on strong in second place, like Secretariat was phenomenon, Naomi Campbell. Readily, so many people were carping on about what is she doing at the royal wedding; hello, how many times has Sarah, Duchess of York not been a guest of Ms. Campbell’s whilst holidaying on some yacht or other in the Mediterranean. I love the way that Ms. Campbell feigned disbelief when asked by an attendant to leave the seat in the front row of the royals’ side of the quire where she sat speaking with Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and his family.

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Made in Chelsea star, Oliver Proudlock and his fiancée Emma proved among a couple of the best-dressed men.

Tracey Emin & Alexnder Gilkes

Admittedly, though, not the best photograph, the urbane Alexander Gilkes, Paddle8 CEO, arrived in the company of artist Tracey Emin.

Cara Delevigne & Derek Blasberg

Cara Delevigne – another dead-ringer for magical artisan soul with the planet’s most ubiquitous plus-one, Derek Blasberg.

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Kate & Lila Moss bringing the glamour.

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Poppy Delevigne sporting one of the best fascinators at the royal wedding of Jack Brooksbank and HRH Princess Eugenie of York.

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Other notable royals in attendance, Princess Marie-Chantal, Crown Prince Pavlos and their daughter, Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece. Also, the Crown Prince’s younger brother, Prince Philippos of Greece attended.

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Lady Gabriella Windsor and her fiancé Timothy Kingston; yet another royal wedding is on the horizon. By far, the most statuesque of the Windsor ladies.

Lady Helen & Timothy Taylor

Lady Helen & Timothy Taylor; the minor royals whom we never see enough of. Love her dress.

Jwan Yosef & Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin and his artist husband.

Stephen Fry & Elliott Smith

The always witty thespian, Stephen Fry and his husband, Elliott Smith.

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Holly Branson coming through.

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And her brother Sam Branson

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The irrepressible mother of the bride, Sarah, Duchess of York and her firstborn who seems resigned to the fact that there is always an opening for spinster lady-in-waiting. Back in the 80s when Merlin was then incarnate, I shared with him a dream had that night of ‘Fergie’. Set somewhere in east Africa, she was riding atop the roof of a Land-Rover with several others… it was a dusty, tree-lined road and they were loud, happy persons all – her husband, Lord Porchester’s offspring was not present in the dream. As the vehicle hit a bump in the road, Fergie went flying from atop the vehicle’s roof and landed on her head; it was the most startling affair – we all screamed.

There was deathly silence as her khaki-clad body remained motionless for what seemed an eternity. Suddenly, as though jolted by lightning, much as a ginger cat with a few lives yet, Fergie shot to her feet, ramrod straight then began rushing about from one side to the other of the parked Land-Rover, mugging and waving to the perfectly immobile and non-human trees. I awoke from the dream laughing, the image was so bizarre. Seated across the Cabbagetown breakfast table from me, Merlin casually declared whilst remaining focussed on the Globe and Mail in hand, “So that’s how she became unhinged…” Yet again, I was reminded of that dream as Sarah, Duchess of York bounded from the Rolls Royce and made a mad dash, mouth ajar, mugging and waving to god-only-knows whom at the foot of St. George’s Chapel’s west door the day her daughter took possession of her man. This eccentric behaviour, much as in that dream, was on display as she entered the quire at St. George Chapel at the wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex on seeing Misha Nonoo and her date, oil heir Michael Hess. These days, she always seems only too happy that she has not ended up like Diana, Princess of Wales.

Another soul who seemed spooked to be at the ball was the groom’s gin-blossomed father whose daft expression throughout was more than a tad distracting. One was reminded of how odd Thomas Markle would have looked, had he been allowed to attend the Sussexes’ nuptials.

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Here’s to the lovely young couple; here’s to life indeed. Happy for them that they have found each other anew in this life experience. To paraphrase Prince Seeiso of Lesotho when speaking of the Sussexes, I wish them buckets and buckets of healthy, happy children.

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Even more glorious than their beautiful wedding was the recent announcement of the pregnancy of Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex. You cannot begin to fully fathom how excited this makes me for HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex. He has always seemed so alone, so vulnerable and emotionally fragile for having suffered the tragic, violent and sudden loss of his fantastic mum at age 12. So happy to know that they will be parents, and so quickly, and am fully confident that they will make the most fantastic parents. What more than two parents truly in love does a child need on coming into this world… again.

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In all of this, what has not been cool, has been watching her racially predatory white relatives act as though she is nothing but a runaway slave. There is no doubt in my mind that were the Markles a wealthy family with a net worth of more than 200$m, would any of this acrimonious dreck be taking place. How dare she, the otiose, racially impure step-sibling, Meghan, end up doing better than them in life? Not only had this runaway slave managed to have escaped capture but she had gone and married the scion at an even more wealthy plantation.

Alas, nothing was more abhorrent than having to watch the most venal racial predator interject herself into the Sussexes/Markles’ “drama” as she opined on the ABC TV documentary, The Story of the Royals. So what if a twelve-year-old Meghan Markle wrote to you about a dish detergent ad; she also did same to then First Lady, Hillary Clinton. Straight away, the puppet-master orchestrating the Markle step-family’s media campaign of slander, grudge and none-too-succinct racial predation became fully focussed. Who else but this vile racial predator, who uses the U. S. justice system to wage personal racially predatory campaigns, against blacks with heretofore impeccably clean public personae, seated there in its invisible grand wizard Klansman’s hooded costume, could be directing this media putsch to sabotage the Sussexes’ marriage? Well near the end of the 9th decade of racially obsessing over blacks, you would think that having finished off Michael Jackson, made a joke of Tiger Woods and a jailbird of Bill Cosby would be enough; no thank you, there is bigger game to prey on. Clearly, the clown knows nothing of the BRF.

Enough about those who truly do not matter.

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Hier soir, as I live an almost exclusively nocturnal existence, I got into a compensatorily parfumé Uber, driven by a recent Dravidian arrival with rather pleasant overleaves. I was stunned by how much traffic gridlock there was at pushing six in an already dark, autumnal and cool, too, evening. The driver could not figure out why traffic was so bad in Toronto and as I have always been a most vocal backseat driver, I soon began educating him on why Hogtown is the only major North American city without exclusive one-way streets in the downtown core. Back in the 60s through 70s when streetcars were being removed from streets like Avenue Road, Bloor Street, Sherbourne, Parliament, the city’s old WASP guard decided that for nostalgia’s sake some streetcar lines ought to be maintained a little while longer.

Well in excess of 40 years, the city still only has the two subway lines, two million more citizens and what seems like the fungal viral growth of condos. Naturally, the city’s constabulary and the TTC (Toronto Transit Commmission) made an unwritten alliance to keep themselves gainfully profitable by maintaining the streetcar lines that were left. Hence, each summer, kilometres of tracks are ripped up and replaced with the necessity for TTC outdoor workers and police staff on hand to maintain traffic. Well into the 21st century, a woefully inadequate 19th century technology clanks away, holding up traffic and as recently was the case this past monsoon season – climate change is truly upon us – the new streetcars were caught in feet of flooded water with faecal matter afloat their flooded interiors. All this so we never end up with new subway lines, one way streets with the discontinuation of streetcars. At least, Montréal can be commended for having owned up to the crippling corruption at the municipal level of government.

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Finally, after directing him along streets that he didn’t even know existed, I got to the southwest corner of University and Queen Street West, hopped out, crossed the city’s widest boulevard and made it into the lobby of the Four Season’s Centre for the Performing Arts at 1831. Lucian Mann-Chomedy who happens to be a scholar in my entity and a professor emeritus at University of Toronto, who also happens to be an unrivalled Voltaire scholar glowed as I dashed inside. We hugged and kissed and it was good to see his eyes light up; he does have more than a passing resemblance to Merlin… vibrationally. Gave him his ticket to the first opera of the season that we’ll be seeing, Hadrian. Whilst he took to the amphitheatre for the pre-opera lecture, I swiftly made it west along Queen Street West and got myself some very deliciously spiced beef teriyaki washed down with a dash of prosecco.

Returned to the theatre, Lucian shared that he found the lecture rather stimulating; heaven only knows what that meant, I was though too busy creating a post of the evening for my Instagram. What then unfolded was the most god-awful unmitigated bullshit conceivable. Look this was nothing more than effete poseurs of Toronto’s gay mafia, throwing government money around to keep their friends afloat. Watching this bit of bold-faced arts larceny was at times cruelly embarrassing. Of course, it was staged by consummate professionals, thus there were truly sublime moments when the production was marvellously realised. However, I was reminded of all those downright dogfests at Toronto Dance Theatre in the 80s – do they even exist anymore – where god-awful retro-Neanderthal movement was set to, of all things, J. S. Bach.

Hadrian

Act I opened with vaguely lissom dancers upstage posing overlong as Roman statuary. Naturally, they were lit such that when they finally began moving downstage on the diagonal, in movement that had been first realised by Vaslav Nijinsky (he is a mature sage, in my entity and currently reincarnated and an actor on the Portuguese stage) a century earlier, you really had to squint and try to make out if they were truly nude. Naturally, there was no such luck. That was just as lame as the opening of Act III after an intermission where there was much cruel laughter at what a dog’s breakfast we were having to slug our way through. There was the none-too-fey/verile or lissom-looking Antinous cavorting on a bed that was reminiscent of a couch I frequented in the late 70s where the city’s only queer psychiatrist and I had an ongoing affair. This bit of uninspired staging in the post-AIDS paradigm was as lame as having to watch two bored manatees going at it. Goddamn, where is the frottage! They seemed to be sleepy hobos, trying to make out which side of the bed they wanted to sleep on rather than obsessed lovers engaging in the gay world’s paedophiliacal obsession – let’s not go there just now.

Well, if you can’t hack a pop career in these parts, the next best thing is, go compose an opera. Lord Jesus… why? I am only too grateful that he didn’t set his sights on appropriating black high art and opting for a Jazz career. Last evening, Tuesday, October 23, 2018 proved without doubt that the kinder of minor Canadian celebrity should never be indulged when they elect to pursue whatever line of work mama or papa pursued. I am reminded of “Bathhouse Pierrette” as he is charitably dismissed, playing party leader in these parts and forever looking gripped by stage fright. I was much humoured this past summer as he followed the future Duke of Sussex about Buckingham Palace at the Commonwealth banquet desperately trying to score an invite to the royal wedding and being clearly snubbed by HRH Prince Henry of Wales who was gruffly dismissive of his attempts to score a pair of tickets – in the 11th hour – for him and his insufferable fag hag wife.

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There were points where persons in back of Lucian and me were laughing at how embarrassingly bad the opera was. Small-time, one guy to my rear readily dismissed. Goodness, if there was one more unpleasant reference to “the Jews” in this horrid farce, I was ready to get up and walk out. The opera was frankly a reflection of the archly conservative and frankly sphinctered worldview of Toronto’s incestuous gay elites – many of whom I went through in the 70s through early 80s and who then were just as smegmaed as a can of freshly opened corned beef – those, indeed, were the pre-plague years.

Getting on the elevator to make it to the basement where I collected my pea coat, I remarked, to one woman who asked my verdict, “You know, it would truly have been great theatre if that strobe light in Act IV had suddenly flashed brighter and erased this entire madness from memory. Trust me, dreams are never this bad!” You can fool those of your tightly incestuous social crowd all of the time but never those too shrewd to give a damn about you and your BS.

As ever my darlings, dream like you’ve never dreamt before and by all means, push off and start flying for at least there, you can readily escape the madness that’s got this paradigm saturated to the gills with BS. Thanks so much for your ongoing support, I love you more!  

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