Night Music: Walk On The Wild Side

October 28, 2019


October 28, 2019

Some of the best times of my life took place in Morocco.

I was there for 6 months as a hippy at the end of the 1960s, and then as a contracted worker for another six months in the mid 1980s. On both occasions I was fortunate enough to visit and stay for a while in many different places right across the country: And the experiences were vividly memorable. It is still a place of wonder for me.

So I was interested to come across an article about Hassan Hajjaj, a Moroccan visual artist, and his new show in Paris.

Carte Blanch a Hassan Hajjaj is truly immersive. Bags of couscous cover benches at the entrance like cushions, street signs are used as tables, and cans are used as light fixtures. However, the focus is on Hajjaj as a photographer,  In the 1990s, Hajjaj was an assistant to stylist … for a photo shoot set in Marrakesh. He expressed his frustration at seeing Morocco being treated … as merely a backdrop for the shoot. He decided to plan an imaginary fashion shoot to celebrate Morocco and its people. Veiled women are dressed in djellabias, caftans, animal prints, and counterfeit brand logo styled to resemble traditional motifs. These audacious women are in poses typical of those in fashion magazines, offering a whimsical reflection on the image of Muslim women in Anglo-European societies, as well as Eurocentric codes of beauty.”

Here are a couple of my favourites:


Neither of these images are recognizable as artifacts of the time I spent there, but they are evocative of something (in colour and form) and I like them very much.

A Fortune In Plain Sight

October 28, 2019

An art dealer was hired to assess the contents of an old client’s home.  Most things in the house were expected to go to the garbage dump.  However, in the old woman’s kitchen, she happened to notice a small painting hanging on the wall.  Looking at it more closely, she was sure it was an old pre-Renaissance Italian work that might have some value and he forwarded it to experts for analysis.

The experts determined that it was indeed an original work called Christ Mocked by Cenni di Pepo, known as Cimabue, the teacher of Giotti.  As noted in the Smithsonian Magazine:

“Based on their assessment, the researchers suggest the panel belongs to a polyptych created by the Old Master around 1280. Today, just two other sections of the work are known to survive: The Flagellation of Christ, purchased by New York’s Frick Collection in 1950, and The Virgin and Child With Two Angels, acquired by the National Gallery in London in 2000 … Speaking with the Art Newspaper’s Scott Reyburn, Turquin says a key piece of evidence supporting the attribution is a trail of centuries-old tracks left by wood-gnawing larvae. All three boast comparable worm hole patterns. “You can follow the tunnels made by the worms,” Turquin says. “It’s the same poplar panel.”

Its importance was highlighted in an article in The Art Newspaper:

“The Paris-based dealer Giovanni Sarti [said] “It’s very important and Cimabue paintings are so rare—this is the beginning of modern painting. People say Giotto was the father of modern painting but really, it’s Cimabue.”

It was sent for auction this past weekend with an anticipated value of $6 million.  However, interest was so great that the final winning bid was for an incredible $26.8 million!  The price makes it the eighth most expensive Old Master—and the most-expensive pre-1500 painting—to be sold at auction.

Poem: Canada

October 28, 2019


Big in size

but with a squeaky little voice,

Canada is like

an effeminate linebacker

facing the south-of-49ers

across the goal line of an undefended border.


We have steroids without strength

mass without muscle.

We are

a huge collapsable shell of a country.

We survive

because the Americans cannot be bothered

to deal with the

PR flak

that would inevitably follow

the easy pushover.


Could Celine Dion save us?

Or Bryan Adams or Margaret Atwood?

Or even Douglas Coupland, Tony Onley and the Bare Naked Ladies linking arms?


Not even the whole mess

of Canadian culture

— bilingual and multicultural —

could save us

if the Americans put their minds to it.


The manifest destiny

of globalization

ensures that it will happen

one day, some day.

And then many of us will become

marginalized Americans

like Idahoans or Puerto Ricans.

Maybe we’ll qualify for grants

and affirmative action

as the third largest minority


blacks and hispanics.

Maybe we’d alter American politics

for ever

with our semi-socialists

and our semi-fascists

and our quaint idea that government can occasionally

be a good thing.


More likely, we’ll become

a minor market for Wal Mart

an inconvenience for weather forecasters

and a fiscal drain

on southwestern startups

and other entrepreneurs.

If there’s a futures market for snow, native land

claims and Gallic intransigence,

Maybe they could sell us

to Norway

where benefits are better.