#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.

Now there was a night in the theatre.

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Whilst Lucian Mann-Chomedy took in the pre-opera lecture, I sat on a bench in the middle of University Avenue, enjoying a rather exquisite four-cheese macaroni and cheese baked to perfection as I read a very good biography of Tudor matriarch, Margaret Beaufort. Before me was the glass palace to the city’s high arts, beautifully lit. There were no doubt in my mind that I was shortly going to be enjoying a beautiful night at the theatre.

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Once inside, I got situated next to Lucian who chatted away in that way that scholar souls tend to drone on about all manner of data that others may find tedious at best but, for having a scholar task companion (Merlin), I have grown comfortably accustomed. Close by, a tall silver-haired man kept on admiring me, even none too discreetly making bodily contact as legs relaxed and splayed open wide; in years past, I would gladly have explored and indulged.

After having made the obligatory Instagram post, I turned off the phone as the house lights faded into nothingness and the magic was begun. Tchaikovsky, you say, how could one go wrong there. The curtain ascended and the most glorious lucid dream this side of the dreamtime then unfolded. The sparse set design courtesy of Michel Levin’s creative genius was both stark and beautiful. Just the right lighting and the desired mood readily effected.

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Leaves leaves leaves everywhere, the lighting of which matched the set and costumes. Last week’s production lacked melody, apart from the fact that Tchaikovsky’s music was well-known, there was nothing to that soulless, dissonant affair that drew you in or proved memorable – save it was really god-awfully bad.

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During intermission, I stepped outdoors into the cool autumn air to return a couple of calls and pre-order an Uber meal. On my return, Lucian rightly so remarked on what a changed vibe there was in the house to the week prior. Indeed, there was stillness that hung in the air after each aria before the house would break into applause.

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The prince’s aria was especially sublime a performance. The familiarity of glorious Tchaikovsky music, melodies long associated with the world of dance were welcome in the world of opera as Alexander Pushkin’s vision was handsomely realised.

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After intermission the stark scene was beautifully animated as chairs, costumes and dancing ruled during the ball scene. The ball scene was dominated by classic Tchaikovsky music that choreographers the past century have relished celebrating in dance.

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In the final act, one of things that struck me was how void of emotion the opera, Hadrian, the week prior was. Watching Onegin’s love finally profess her love for him after all these years, yet, insisting that she had to carry on with her life, her comfortable life and not leave it all for the man who pined for her was truly captivating. Ahead of me, two rows, were a couple of ladies who during that duet looked at each other, one even wiped her eyes.

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This duet totally captured the human condition; it was about love, passion, longing, loss and dashed dreams. We could all relate to it. The passion and emotion tugged at your heart centre. Last week, not only was the music the most irritatingly banal but there was emperor Hadrian seemingly love struck, yet there was never any passion and emotion in scenes between him and Antinous. If you had no clue that this was one of the greatest love stories in gay history, you could be forgiven in assuming that it was an emperor bereft at the loss of his only son and heir, leaving him without the will to carry on. There simply was no connection, between them and by extension the audience… no passion whatsoever. Regardless their homoerotic love, the opera failed to have aroused emotion, passion and thereby causing you to lose yourself and identify completely with Hadrian, Antinous… or both.

That’s what one goes to the theatre for. At curtain call, rather than jump up and flee the theatre horrified as last week, I shot to my feet, clapped and howled my face off. Everyone leaving the theatre was enrobed in warmth and had been inspired to believe anew in love… that’s what great art does. What a truly memorable night in the theatre, this beautiful, passionate opera is with great melodies to spirit you along, long after you headed out into the world in the cool autumnal night air.

As ever, dream with the greatest passion for it is a true love affair indulged with self each and every day. Love yourself with new abandon and push off and start flying because you really are a truly spectacular work of art. As ever, thanks for your ongoing support. I love you more than you know.

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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.

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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.

Sam Branson

And her brother Sam Branson

Princess Eugenie Of York Marries Mr. Jack Brooksbank

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.

Ah summer…

Crazy Rich Asians

After having ravenously devoured this fascinating trilogy last winter, I re-read Crazy Rich Asians in anticipation of the film adaptation. Of course, no film can ever approximate the layers of nuances and breath of ideas between the covers of any book. Moreover, reading is a purely subjective experience and with someone possessed of such a rich dream life, a book is always like the most welcome lucid dream.

I was beyond wowed by this film. Nick and Rachel were beautifully cast; however, I had always envisioned Astrid to be deliciously long-necked and more reserved… I think that they ought to have gotten an exquisite beauty who is in repression mode because no one does refined hauteur like a woman in repression mode. Love the greens of Tyersall Park. This was one of the most glorious movies that I have seen in long ages.

Il Trovatore

Also this summer, I headed off to the Cineplex in Dundas Square to catch an opera production, which initially I had not when it premiered three years earlier. Lucian Mann-Chomedy a mature scholar entity mate and I have been catching movies and attending the opera together. He is a world-renowned expert on Voltaire. Sublime and strastopherically knowledgeable, he is always welcome company. Usually, we gather at my place once per fortnight and have tea, talk ideas but of late, we have naturally been looking at the recent royal wedding of TRH Duke and Duchess of Sussex. More of that later…

In any event, there were we happily settled in in our back row seats, eating popcorn and excited at being transported by Verdi’s mastery. As ever Anna Netrebko was superb and nothing was more moving whilst simultaneously sad than seeing Dmitri Hvorostovsky in glorious song. We both held hands and silently lost tears as his passing two years later, November, 2017 was highlighted at the end of the film. A truly remarkable performer with a lot of sage and king energy going on somewhere in his casting and role in essence.

swan lake

So there were Lucian and I returned to Dundas Square to have yet another vicarious theatre experience. This time, it was the Royal Ballet’s new production of Swan Lake with choreography by Liam Scarlett and the most fuck-all fabulous sets designed by the gifted and visionary George Macfarlane – that gold-leaf-looking set in Act III is worth flying to London and seeing it in person at Covent Garden. Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nunez were the pricipal dancers. Now this is world-class dancing of the highest order. I would rather fly to London and catch a performance than time-waste and money-waste on a season of the National Ballet of Canada. If I’m honest, the only dancer in NBC I ever recognise, when onstage, is Skylar Campbell thanks to his russet afro.

Swan Lake Act III

Besides, I was deeply disappointed when in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary as captured territory – let’s be real here – rather than look forward to the future, one just had to go raiding the Canada Council Grant system. I can understand that these are all friends socially but I am so tired of this “one Anglais, one Français” approach to things. God forbid that Canadians outside of Québec should ever be nationally presented on their nightly news with what goes on in Montréal each July 1, Canada Day. After a week earlier celebrating Fete National, everyone moves house rather than celebrate the country’s holiday. Of course, for the poor anglo newcomers to Montréal, living in English enclaves, who did not secure indoor parking, they find themselves with slashed tyres and knocked off side view mirrors – all for being anglo in god forbid supposed Canada.

Instead of saluting the fact that Indo-Canadians in the GTA (greater Toronto Area) have arrived by mounting a production of La Bayadere, instead we had to settle for two non-choreographers mounting crap that you know I had no time to waste on. I heard from friends that it was utterly dismissible fare as can well be imagined. After the opening night performance of a new production of La Bayadere, one could then cross Queen Street West to the grounds of Osgoode Hall (Law Society of Upper Canada) with a few pitched marquees and have an Indian themed party with a handful of Bollywood stars thrown in for good measure. Naturally, this would see new sponsorships for the NBC – god knows arts funding is always hard to come by – and it would be a wonderful way of being both inclusive of all Canadians and looking forward to the next 150 years. The maudlin fare staged will not be in the repertoire ten years hence, you can count on that.

Alors, enough about what might have been… this after all is Canada. Lucian and I had ourselves a fantastic time vicariously enjoying a live performance from Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The dancing, staging and orchestration were all stellar. Vadim and Marianela were fabulous. Of course, had I flown to London to see Swan Lake, I would have opted for Natalia Osipova’s interpretation of Odette/Odile or a partnership wherein Steven McRae danced Prince Siegfried.

Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor, United Kingdom - 19 May 2018

One of the things that Lucian and I also do when getting together for tea, entity mates as we are, is we delight in looking at the recent royal wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex. When initially her overleaves were channelled as requested by moi, she was said to have had two prior lives as a high ranking member of the British Royal Family. Naturally, as I was completely taken with the sweeping theatricality of their wedding, I had those past lives explored and was not surprised in the least.

Margaret Beaufort

Back in 1995 whilst living in Vancouver, I spent a glorious weekend with a friend who had moved from Toronto at least a decade earlier. A great cook and marvellous raconteur, he also happens to be an artisan entity mate. In among his stellar library was a book that he highly recommended; he devoured biographies with true relish. The book was a favourite of his, The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby – it proved a most fascinating portrait of someone whom I had never before heard of. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a phenomenal woman without whom there would have been no House of Tudor.

Margaret Beaufort Portrait

Cousin to King Henry VI, mother of King Henry VII, grandmother to King Henry VIII and great-grandmother to Queen Elizabeth I, here was the most sweeping portrait of a life lived in full and of a truly remarkable woman. Not surprised was I then to learn that the soul now incarnate as Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex was in that past life, Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. Indeed, there sat Meghan, holding hands with her beautiful-of-spirit husband, HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex with the black marble tomb of King Henry VI behind them in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Furthermore, like true Queen and Mother of the House of Tudor returned, Meghan on entering St. George’s Chapel was greeted by fanfare, which is reserved for the arrival of the Sovereign.

Lucian and I have spent much time, trying to spot as many persons who attended the wedding beyond the usual fare: Oprah Winfrey, Amal and George Clooney – whom I thought were both sartorially off. One does not wear a hat on the left side of the head anymore than one would a medal on the right breast as David Beckham did at the royal wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. I loved every shot of Emilie van Cutsem; she looks like a real tough broad who is definitely got a goal of dominance. Of course, there she sat in the quire next to Jack Brooksbank in her ruby brooch to match her monochromatic outfit. By far the most handsome of her four sons, is Hugh van Cutsem who sat two rows in the nave behind royals, Cleopatra and Franz-Albrecht zu Oettingen-Spielberg; a baroness at birth, her husband is a Bavarian prince and friend of HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex. Hugh van Cutsem also sat two rows ahead of Chelsy Davy and her brother Shaun.

So many persons seemed to have gotten it wrong, claiming that Chelsy looked glum whilst being simply focussed and meditative – I rather suspect that she is either a scholar or warrior soul, which would give her that singleness of focus. There was a beautiful moment, one of my favourites, where whilst chatting with two ladies, she and one of the other women silently break open their faces in spirited laughter – it was one of the more memorable moments. At the time, they stood next to another troika Jake Warren father of bridesmaid Zalie Warren and HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex’s goddaughter as he chatted with Marcus Mumford and his wife the actor, Carey Mulligan.

Edward van Cutsem is, of course, married to another the late Gerald Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster’s daughters, Tamara, older sister of Dan Snow’s wife, Lady Edwina who sat directly ahead of Adam Bidwell – a man with a most sexually dynamic face – who entered the chapel’s south door in a cluster of males which included Jake Warren, Mark Dyer, Thomas and Charlie van Straubenzee, Arthur Landon, Hugh – the current Duke of Westminster – and Jack Brooksbank.

One of the more beautiful intimate moments between the Sussexes went unnoticed by 95 per cent of persons watching the ceremony. Yes there was that beautiful moment during the Kingdom Choir singing Stand by Me when the camera cuts to an adoring HRH Prince Henry as he taps on his beloved’s fingers and she turns and smiles into his familiar soul, being the only sunshine that lights his world – this is the 21st time that these two souls have met during the course of reincarnations. As he slipped the golden ring onto her finger in movement that was sexually charged, HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex then winked his left eye at his ravishing bride – sly, intimate and subtle, most persons would not have noticed the wink as it happened.

Margaret Beaufort Ascension2

Veiled, I love this photograph of Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex as the veil represents the vision of Lady Margaret Beaufort having a lucid dream of herself into the future where she is being crowned, as it were, at a wedding in Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. How like a true queen, Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex appears as her train is carried by the Mulroney twins, who along with the other eight pages and bridesmaids beautifully fulfilled their tasks. The dark and umbra lighting also suggests the past and that soul, having been the mother of the House of Tudor coming through to claim her reward as a member of the House of Windsor, which would not have been Anglican, indeed might have gone the way of so many other monarchies were it not for the shrewdly calculating and indomitable Lady Margaret Beaufort from whose womb like an acorn indirectly passed two of the greatest of the United Kingdom’s sovereigns, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

Margaret Beaufort Ascension3

Theirs was a truly remarkable and beautiful wedding. Here’s to TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex and their tasks ahead as Commonwealth Youth Ambassadors, charter members of the Royal Foundation, the driving force behind the Invictus Games and strongly bonded entity mates who have found each other anew. Hip! Hip!

For now, I have returned from the emergency at St. Michael’s Hospital after being thrown from my chromium steed by rain-smeared steel crating. As ever, I got up and after a vituperative bouquet, I resumed singing and scatting my heart out as it is the only way to stay focussed when bike-riding in this town. Though it has done my arthritic right knee no favours, my laptop survived unscathed.

As ever, thank you for your ongoing patronage. Don’t ever forget to deeply breathe in, plié then push off because life is but a most glorious of dreams and right here is where it’s at. Sweet dreams as ever.  

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

Here’s to Life! A celebration of the 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth.

 

On this the eve of the July 21, 2017, 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth, I am still over the moon and greatly inspired for having travelled to London, England, Paris and Versailles France and Amsterdam, the Netherlands in June.  I wanted to take in the pomp and pageantry of trooping the colour, revisit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern… and did!  I really loved my visit to the new wing of the Tate Modern and the beautiful panoramic views that it affords of the north bank across River Thames.

Staying in the beautiful SW10, I had a great place to stay and had a marvellous time.  Great it was to revisit Westminster Abbey, feeling the sense of history and the grandeur of the abbey.  Every moment of being in London was sheer magic.  This city, more than any other, readily evokes a sense of home –- somehow, in its magical agedness, there vibrationally is something perfectly harmonised about London with aspects of the West Indies into which I chose to reincarnate and where my sense of ‘home’ is grounded.

The LGBT exhibition at Tate Britain was a bit underwhelming; however, I enjoyed being exposed to the many female artists and their Lesbian-themed art, which heretofore I was not cognisant of.  Naturally, the male perspective has always been prominent in homoerotic art.  Without doubt, the best exhibition was at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and the Crown’s exhibition of aspects of the Canaletto collection.  Naturally, I did have to return to the National Gallery to take in my favourite Sir Anthony van Dycks in their collection; among them, that ode to sage essence grandeur, King Charles I’s Equestrian Portrait of Charles I.  The Rotunda at Ranelagh remains my favourite and most moving Canaletto; of course, it did prominently feature at the end of a flying dream, during early pubescence, that had me dreamquest to a past life in London, England.

That past-life was shared with Merlin when we were musicians at court in late 18th century London.  During that lifetime, we knew 1st Duke of Brontë, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Apparently, Viscount Nelson was a great raconteur and it was likely his tales of his love of Nevis which proved the seed that eventually led to my choice at the level of soul to have reincarnated into Nevis –- which incidentally Canadians are wont to mispronounce as Knévis…  Sorry, the third world natives are not wrong; besides no one in London would ever think to say, Knévis.  The correct pronunciation is Kneevis… Knévis is no more correct than is Kanarda the correct pronunciation of Canada.  Enough about the risible ignorance of elitist petit bourgeois Canadians and their need to forever condescend.

So, there was I arrived in London with umbrella, pea coat, raincoat and it was all hotter-than-hell climes for the two weeks!  After trooping the colour, I decided to escape the heat of London and decamp à Paris… what was I thinking; goodness, it was at least 5 degrees hotter there!  Alas, Paris has become an armed camp -– I suppose this is what Paris during the Nazi occupation in WWII was like.  Either way, I could not wait to hightail it out of there.  Firstly, though, I had to head off to Versailles where previously I had not been.  Goodness, what grandeur -– the scales are truly phenomenal.  If I had ever had a dream set on the grounds of Versailles, it is highly likely that I would have awakened and assumed that I had just dreamquested to a marvellous world where the architectural scales surpass anything witnessed here on Earth.

In all that heat, I was told it was just a stroll away from the entry gates of Versailles to Grand Trianon to take in the Pierre Le Grand exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of Peter the Great’s trip to Paris.  Finally, after 50 minutes in my brand-new Crockett & Jones wellingtons, I arrived to what was not an especially impressive show.  However, the last piece — a beautiful bust of the Tsar — made my sweaty and blistered foot ordeal worthwhile.

After having been quite underwhelmed by Paris –- save of course my visit to Père Lachaise cemetery where I left pine cone tributes to Marcel Proust, Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Honoré de Balzac –- it was off to Amsterdam.  Finally, I had escaped hellish climes!  Amsterdam proved the most gloriously idyllic experience.  With a cool welcome breeze off the North Sea, the temps were in the low 20s and, of course, everywhere just about everyone rode a bike.  As I made the pilgrimage to the Rijksmuseum to be richly inspired, I was warmed as passing cyclists called out to me in my white panama hat that I purchased at Chateau de Versailles to beat the heat, “Hello!”  “Hi there!”  “Hi ya!”  This excursion to Amsterdam was truly soul-warming.  Nothing was more glorious than entering that salon and seeing Night Watch and the Meager Company.

Whilst browsing, I thought of George Hawken and wondered if ever he had made it to Amsterdam.  Just like that, on coming around the corner, the first painting I noticed in the salon which contains Jan Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, was an exquisite, stunning still-life of white asparagus.  The one legume that George considered the perfect signature to a fine meal -– cooked by himself -– was asparagus.  His most memorable meals ever featured asparagus coated in the most sublime sauces made from scratch.  I was truly warmed on seeing the still-life seconds after nostalgically thinking of him.  Yet another moment of synchronicity.

On preparing for the video to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth, I decided last week to head off the costumer, Malabar on McCaul Street where George lived in the late 80s to early 90s.  Inspired by the first dream of Merlin had 39 years ago in July 1978, I decided to get a cowl as a tribute to the cowl Merlin wore in the inaugural dream encounter with him, four years before having met on Friday, October 1, 1982 in New York City.  So, there was I at Mount Pleasant Cemetery last Saturday, July 15, 2017 in my cowl and the panama hat purchased at Versailles to escape the heat.  I thought it fitting as Merlin always loved wearing panama hats.

My trusty friend, J.J. who happens to be an artisan entity mate whom I have known in 20 past lives –- which is a high incidence of contact -– was the director.  Initially, I had hoped to throw a white party on the lawn to the southwest of the chapel at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and have a drone film the event where a gathering of friends would raise a glass to Merlin on the anniversary of his ennobled birth.  Merlin always threw a white party each year for his birthday at his parents stunning backyard in north Toronto’s Servington Crescent.

The plan was not approved by the cemetery and thus, one had to improvise.  I got my panama hat and my cowl and together, we proceeded with a dozen long-stem white roses to visit Merlin’s resting place.  I had a pretty good idea what I was after.  With the matching white cowl, I wanted to evoke the magic of meeting Merlin in that initial dream which is shared in volume one of the dream memoirs which is already published: Merlin and Arvin: A Shamanic Dream Odyssey.

Get your copy!  Thanks as ever for your support!

In the hardcover edition of human civilisation’s first dream memoirs, the initial dream encounter with Merlin is shared.  The dream begins on page 110 in the hardcover edition.  I wanted the same sense of wonderment and magic that I felt for having met Merlin in that first dream four years prior to having met reflected in the video.  In that dream, Merlin’s appearance was preceded by a white totemic creature which seemed, in its astral plane outréness, to be part Russian wolfhound, part alpaca, part dog.

So, moving to the lawn, having descended the steps of the chapel, I began walking across the open lawn towards the statuesque lion festooned mausoleum with the five remaining white long-stem white roses.  Seven roses, of course, were left at Merlin’s grave -– one rose for each of our seven glorious years together.  As I stepped onto the lawn, it seemed magical… timeless even.  Slowly, confidently as I approached the filmmaker at the other end of the lawn, I thought of Merlin and that initial dream.

Just then, I very distinctly thought of Merlin greeting me by purring, “Hello Lambs.”  As if right on cue, from off stage left, an adult deer came from behind the bushes and tombstones that line the far edges of the open lawn.  Never before had I seen a deer at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  Indeed, the good burghers of Forest Hill who clearly regularly jogged in the park-like setting stopped and were overheard remarking that they had never seen a deer in the cemetery before.  All that I could do was tear up and continue walking as the deer then bolted and ran from stage left to right as I continued my stride uninterrupted –- unfazed by the appearance of an adult deer on the grounds of the cemetery.  What is more astounding, is that J.J. at the time was filming my walk; at the last minute, I decided against a run-through as I was concerned about the natural light possibly changing if we were to rehearse the shot.

Unbeknownst to me, the deer after having made it to stage right, then returned to the centre of the lawn and stood there perfectly still whilst observing my progression across the lawn.  J.J. who was astounded by the occurrence remarked that he had just witnessed a miracle.   There is no doubt in my mind as I tried to recapture the magic of that initial dream encounter that there was a subtle validation of that dream from the magical shaman himself on the other side by having had Merlin’s spirit step in as director emeritus and had the deer enter the shot as validation and a token of his appreciation of the love that we shared and my steadfast loyalty to him.  After crossing the lawn and turning to watch the deer stand there, looking down the lawn at me, I felt such utter peacefulness and abandonment of spirit — just as when alone and intimate in the dark with Merlin.

Yes, I believe in magic as did Merlin and as though an appreciation of having stridently done everything to fulfil his mandate to me, Merlin’s astral body conjure up the same magic here and now as he had in July 1978 –- four years before slipping inside a Hell’s Kitchen walk-up and readily winning me over with his sexy elfin charm, magic and sex that proved the most grounding shamanic passion… every time.

All the music chosen for this 13-minute video is music that Merlin loved whilst incarnate and to which he returned time and again -– whether at Joe Morton’s tiny Upper West Side apartment in autumn of 1983, Toronto’s 20 Amelia Street in tony Cabbagetown.  From Glenn Gould’s mastery of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, to Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick singing That’s What Friends Are For –- in that segment of the video, I included friends whom Merlin valued: Kareem Benezra, myself, Wayne Robson and his oldest and most loyal friend, the ever-gracious, Maxime Gascoigne-de Montigny.

Of course, for Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely, I exclusively included photos of Merlin and his very handsome and gracious father, David Ben-Daniel.  Whereas I favoured Sir Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude, Merlin ever loved George Harrison and especially My Sweet Lord.  Of course, one Saturday, whilst staying at actor, Joe Morton’s Manhattan apartment, when Merlin and I secretly committed to being together, we slow-danced to Supertramp and Roger Hodgson’s unmatched magical vocals on Supertramp’s Breakfast In America.

Additionally, Jeffrey Osborne’s On the Wings of Love which was one of Merlin’s favourite ballads is also included.  Merlin loved Black male soul singers: Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Jeffrey Osborne –- most especially –- George Benson, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Donny Hathaway, Barry White.  Most of all, I am especially proud of the video that J.J. and I have created; I think that it masterfully captures the depth of my love and fealty to the most fabulously magical shaman encountered on this incarnation’s spiritual odyssey.

Naturally, before having left for Mount Pleasant Cemetery, I had flooded my apartment with the music that appears in the video.  Perhaps, unwittingly by so doing, I was evoking Merlin’s spirit which later joined us when he played ultimate director and pulled off the most magical bit of stage direction –- an adult deer in the middle of a cemetery in the heart of mid-town Toronto.  Lastly, I played the sublimely soulful Shirley Horn’s interpretation of, Here’s to Life!  Whilst raising a glass of coconut water, I had forgotten to pick up some champagne the evening prior and it was too early in the morning to find champagne anywhere –- the lighting was way too good.  Besides who knows if that magical deer would have been anywhere about.

Here’s to life… most of all, here’s to Merlin… here’s to dream shamans everywhere!

Merlin & Arvin 1987

Going forward, please know that this wordpress joint: http://www.dreampoetica.com is being synchronised with my author page: http://www.arvindabrgha.com  Everything that’s appeared here over the years, now can be found there.  In coming weeks, there will also be other links to other sites associated with this celebration of Merlin and his mandate to me:

“Please my darling, I want you to write about our lives together.  I promise you, however possible, I am going to send you dreams to include in the story of our love… our lives together.”

Of course, there is my Instagram account:  Instagram Arvin da Brgha

The YouTube channel is:  Arvin da Brgha YouTube

Do please be patient and stay tuned as there will be a site where one can purchase merchandise that’ll greatly assist with the costs of having overleaves channelled that will yet appear in the five volumes of human civilisation’s first dream memoirs to come.  Also, there will be a podcast link.

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For now, here’s to life, here’s to you and thanks so much for your ongoing support all these years!

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

In Memoriam: George F. Hawken

gh1999

(George F. Hawken – February 5, 1999, Montréal, Québec)

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This past Friday, December 23, 2016, I went to my doctor’s to get my test results for HIV.  The doctor whom I had not seen in long ages was unusually engaging.  When he finally cut to the chase, never had he announced that my test result was HIV negative with so much pleasure; I thought it odd at the time.  Brushing past all that, I then inquired of him how George Hawken was doing; after all, George years earlier on my return to Toronto had insisted that I have the handsome Sino-Canadian for a GP as well. 

Marta 74 George Hawken Intaglio on Paper

Marta.  Intaglio on Paper. 1974 George Hawken  

 

As he paused, I told him that I could appreciate his patient-client confidentiality considerations; however, forging ahead, I told him that I had sent George an email more than a week earlier and had not heard back from him.  Pressing on, I inquired if George was doing well of late as I had last been in touch a couple of months earlier.  In that way that the good doctor had mastered, he haltingly stammered back that yes, George was doing well…  We then left it at that as clearly he did not want to pursue the matter further – he had actually stood up to conclude our visit.   

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Pink Chair 1992 George Hawken  (Arvin)

 

About a week earlier, I was feeling especially uneasy about not having had a reply from George to my last email; he would always answer within 36 hours at the latest.  By then, it had been about a week; we hardly ever spoke by phone on my return from Montréal.  Previously, when we spoke by phone our conversations back in the late 80s and through to mid 90s resulted in an invitation from George to immediately get together where our passionate physicality was intense beyond the norm. 

Gordon and Janet, in their garden

Gordon and Janet in their Garden.  Lithograph 2009 George Hawken 

 

To still my worrisome mind, I began playing Joseph Haydn’s Paris symphonies; George favoured the Paris symphonies where I favoured the London Symphonies.  George  had actually introduced me to Haydn’s music; he insisted that I become better acquainted with the 18th century composer’s works.  When first I sat for George in 1986, at his Brock Avenue loft in the Queen Street West neighbourhood, he always played Haydn…  I would always love the way, he would play imaginary keyboard whilst enjoying a cigarette break as I privately sat for him. 

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Franz Kafka – Kafka Suite. Intaglio 1982 George Hawken 

 

One of the funniest memories of George is lying in bed with him after passionate play at the Brock Avenue loft and laughing hysterically whilst we listened to CBCFM and a Florence Foster-Jenkins performance.  Afterwards, we indulged another round of Rottweiler style passion that was part Greco-Roman brawn.  On my return to Toronto, George and I never resumed our physical relationship; though, I had at least hoped that I could serve as muse to him again.  Alas, it was not to be. 

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Book Cover Illustration. 1980 George Hawken 

 

One morning after work, with Haydn symphonies swirling about my mind as my apartment was sodden heavy with the Paris symphonies, I suddenly made a right whilst coming up Yonge Street and headed along Adelaide Street East.  Then, I went one better and hung a left up Sherbourne Street for the morning ride home; never had I done this.  Riding up Sherbourne, the familiar strains of Haydn’s Symphony No. 85 B flat major ‘La Reine’ spirited me along as I leisurely rode up the moderately icy, dedicated bike lane. 

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Fly. Etching. 1976 George Hawken 

 

Just above Shuter Street, George suddenly fell into my mind and I crouched forward towards the handlebar to best face into the cold winds barrelling down the avenue.  Whilst coasting up the bike lane opposite Allan Gardens Park, my mind as I whistled Haydn’s symphony began recalling moments of passion with George long years earlier.  I thought of those glorious nights of noisy, sweaty passionate play at his McCaul Street loft; I crouched forward even more as my face warmed into a smile at pleasurable memories. 

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Beethoven Asleep.  Etching. 1975 George Hawken 

 

If only, I still had George’s numbers, I would call him on getting home; it was so unlike him not to have responded to the email that I had sent him on December 13, 2016.  Peddling harder up the tough stretch of bike lane between Carlton and Wellesley Street East, I suddenly began slowing down as a large black hearse slowly negotiated its way from the Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home & Chapel property at 467 Sherbourne Street; it waited in the middle of the bike lane for northerly flowing traffic to ease up. 

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Pink Chair I/III AP. Lithograph. 1990 George Hawken  (Arvin)

 

I rolled up and paused looking squarely into the hearse where a cardboard coffin was bound and en route to the St. James Cemetery and Crematorium over on Parliament Street.  This was the same route that my father’s cadaver had taken after his funeral in August 2008 which George had attended.  I was so appreciative of the fact that he had asked if he could attend my father’s funeral.  After the lovely service, I had approached George and we hugged and he seemed really pleased to have made the outing. 

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Woman. Lithograph. 1980 George Hawken 

 

Moments afterwards another of my lovers, Owen Hawksmoor came by to start lecturing me about the importance of having many friends; after all, said he, look at all the people who had turned out to my father’s funeral.  Then said, Owen, as can ever be expected of him, “you should at least have six people who would be prepared to pall bear for you.”  Brushing him and his big sex cockiness aside, I rebutted, “trust you to always make for a bitter after taste.  What’s it to me, I’d be dead; it really wouldn’t matter anymore than it does now.” 

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Yonge Street Mask. AP Etching. 1971 George Hawken  

 

I broke and hopped off the bike and intently looked inside at the brown cardboard coffin; it seemed an eternity waiting for the hearse to finally make it off the bike lane and into traffic.  In those moments, I again thought of George and that was when it suddenly dawned on me that I was never going to hear from George again.  Further, I had the distinct impression that what had prompted me to route-change for the first time, to be humming and whistling one of Haydn’s Paris symphonies: symphony No. 84 in B float major is because George’s corpse lay in the hearse before me en route to St. James Cemetery and Crematorium. 

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Myself  (Self-portrait) AP Etching. 2008 George Hawken 

 

Without doubt, this was why I was in this place in this moment before an austere black hearse straddling the northbound bike lane on Sherbourne which I had never used before en route home from work.  With that, as the hearse slowly pulled out onto Sherbourne and then made a right turn onto Wellesley Street East, the traffic in the icy snowy street was sufficiently slow that I rode alongside the hearse along the side of the cardboard coffin and accompanied all the way to the black wrought iron gates of the cemetery on Parliament Street. 

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Baudelaire II. Etchin. 1975 George Hawken 

 

After I got in, had a shower and had my lovely home infused with Hoju incense, Haydn’s symphony No. 104 in D major ‘London’ played on repeat as I grounded anew.  Though it was not especially windy out, there was a loud noise on my balcony and wrapping up in my lovely woollen pea coat, I took to the balcony to investigate.  The first sight that greeted me was a heavy plume of sooty black smoke from the crematorium’s chimneys as they were being swept southerly in the cold wintry morning air.  I lost a tear and on returning indoors, though my Google search on coming home produced nothing for ‘George Hawken Obituary’ I still felt firmly that there was no coincidence to the sequence of events and synchronicity of the past several days which culminated in the black hearse across the bike lane. 

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Colin Campbell. Etching. George Hawken 

 

As it is always tough to close shut, I gave the door to the balcony a bit of encouragement by heaving my right shoulder into it.  On turning away from the door, I noticed one of George’s gifts to me “Woman” was titled off its hook on the cement wall where moments before taking to the balcony it had sat perfectly aligned.  Yet another sign indeed.  Finally, today at work, as I kept checking the folder which bore all George’s email correspondences, then did a Google search for ‘George Hawken Obituary’ alas there was confirmation.  George had died the day before I had sent him my final email; it was one in which I offered to buy a copy of an illustration which he had done for an anthology of emerging Canadian authors. 

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George Hawken, 1970s.

Again, today after work, I rode up the Sherbourne Street bike lane and it all fell into place.  Almost always when I went to our shared doctor, there would George be.  Finally, when I saw him after a long spell of not having been in touch, he sat birdlike in the doctor’s office and he was just as stunned to have seen me walk in as I was to have seem him looking so gravely ill.  George had said that it was cancer; we there and then made arrangements to get together and did.  I was so pleased that he had finally met my lovely sister, Pandora and it was lovely going to George’s Camden Street penthouse suite for dinner with my lovely sister when she was in town from Ottawa. 

Self Portrait 5. Etching. 1984 George Hawken 

Today, whilst riding up the bike lane on Sherbourne Street, the doctor’s excitable congratulations to my testing HIV negative made so much sense.  Too, his response to my query how George was doing of late and his response that he was doing well, indeed, made perfect sense.  By Friday, December 23, 2016, George was doing well and in a better place no longer suffering from the wear and tear of his end-of-life monadal illness.  Ours was a very private relationship and there were only two persons in George’s life with whom I enjoyed cordial relations: his son and his lover, Colin Campbell.  I rather suspect that Colin is George’s task companion. 

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Grete.  Etching. George Hawken 

 

I will ever be proud of having been an inspiring muse to George and for having facilitated the energetic work that he did in the late ‘80s to mid ‘90s.  Our passion fuelled his creativity; what’s more, our passion kept me focussed and grounded in this life as Merlin and his ravaging illness and the hideous ghouls who betrayed him in his illness made life at times more harrowing than already the illness made it.  George and his compassion and support were invaluable for me and Merlin was aware of it and openly and unselfishly encouraged it; he knew that I needed that support as with his passing the vipers in his circle would readily dispense with me.  Alas, all things being mutual, dispense with the ill-evolved lot I gladly did. 

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Hearts and Flowers. Intaglio. 1976 George Hawken

Sweet and blissful dreams my darling ennobled George; I am honoured to have fostered and enabled your creativity to have lotussed into greater flower.  Yours was a most rare and beautiful spirit and yet again our love shall dance and soar to higher octaves.  My heart centre is wide open to facilitate your journey in whatever capacity of our choosing in the dreamtime.  Ever, will I love you more. 

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