Saturday, January 16, 2016

Trois Morts / My New Coat

First, David Bowie died. I was shocked when I read the news, but not emotionally affected until I watched a YouTube video of him singing with Tina Turner that made me weep. He was hugely influential, and incredibly stylish; I think he made a lot with a rather limited talent. In interviews he seems bright and funny. I feel so sad for his bereaved friends and family. What a sad day it was that day. Remember “the day the music died?”

Then Alan Rickman and René Agnélil on the same day.

I greatly admire Alan Rickman and his career; he is the consummate gentleman’s actor. I have not seen a wide range in his roles but reading Daniel Radcliff’s eulogy to him, I despaired over the loss of a magnificent, old-school, British, capital-A acting giant.

Mr. Agnélil’s death really saddened me as I am a Québec-o-phile and he featured so large in the careers of Ginette Reno, René Simard and Céline Dion.

I had the good fortune to be exposed to a curated vision of la culture musicale Québécois through l’Hibou, a cabaret in Ottawa that was my cultural centre when I was working for the government. There, I succumbed to singers such as Edith Butler, Pauline Julienne and the spectacular McGarrigle sisters.

Once smitten, I started watching local talent on TV and I melted at first sight of two kids who were introduced to Québéc audiences on TV: René Simard and Céline Dion.

They sang hymns and folksongs from Québéc. Everyone in Québéc fell in love with them and René Agnélil was behind them both. Céline enraptured me with her mixture of incredible talent, awkward shyness, bad teeth and big, big dreams. Mr. Agnélil mortgaged his home to advance her career.

I am not as much of a fan of Céline’s music since she has became a megastar, but I still love the woman to bits. And sometimes I cringe in her interviews. Still, I am committed to her, especially when she sings in French. Her brother, Daniel, is also dying of cancer right now. I feel for her and her family. 

I listen to a radio station all day based in Lyon, France. They have been playing Céline non-stop. France is grieving for Canada’s greatest musical ambassador, whereas here in Vancouver there is greater pain evident for the dearly departed Mr. Severus Snape.

Okay, I may be wrong, but I believe it’s the coat.

On this blog I wrote a post last summer about how creepy it is walking on the seawall due to the psychopaths who ride in the pedestrian areas and because everybody is wearing their (what I call) their “fuck you” face. I found it much friendlier in the trails inside the park where people seemed more inclined to nod or say “hello.”

Well today was overwhelming. Everybody was smiling at me and saying hello. It was the salesperson in the bakery who that she “liked my style” that made me think it was the coat.

“My style?”

“I love your coat.”

I suspect the coat gives me a veneer of gentility. I think it makes people feel safe. I suspect my appearance is equated with my ethics. Regardless of the reason, I love it. It changes my landscape very much for the better and it encourages me to dress well.

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