Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bad Year in Rehearsal

A BAD YEAR FOR JOURNALISTS as a play is really happening! Rehearsals are underway, with two fabulous actors Emily Pearlman & Tyler Seguin, direction by Bremner Duthie, and video & sound design by Craig Desson and my brother, Kit Pasold. Come see what we've been up to on Dec 20th & 21st at the Alchemy Theatre (133 Tecumseth, just west of Queen & Bathurst in Toronto; show starts at 8pm)

Here is some more info, taken from the press release:
With the assistance of the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council, Pasold's text hits the stage in a new multimedia creation. Developed by Toronto's newest little theatre companies: Skinny Legs Collective and Big Empty Barn--dedicated to invention, innovation and stealing the media's technology for our own audience. "There are two satisfactions: of looking without flinching, or else the satisfaction of flinching." How do we struggle with issues of place and truth in lands where both have been long since erased? Radio clips, ad jingles, newspaper reports, distorted snippets of pop songs and uploaded video from the web assist in a front-line confrontation with the "Disaster of the Day. Through a dynamic combination of sound and visuals A Bad Year for Journalists explores the catastrophe of going abroad with the best of intentions and a camera.
For more details, contact "big empty barn" (all one word) "at" gmail

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Spread the net - fight malaria

Spread the Net -

whatever you may think of Belinda Stronach as a politician (and whenever I get back to Canada, she always seems to be in the news, one way or another), she is making a difference for a serious cause: UNICEF's fight against malaria. In case you've never worried much about malaria, think about mosquitoes...the unofficial & much-despised national insect of Canada. Most of us Canucks grow up with a deep-seated loathing for the little it should be easy for us to put ten dollars into preventing them from biting somebody else. Because in the thirty second it's taken to write this part of my blog, another child has died of malaria. Click on the link; write a cheque. thanks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

at the Alchemy Theatre

This afternoon I met novelist Lauren Davis for tea, on the 43rd floor of the Sheraton, looking over Toronto's sci-fi City Hall...and we talked about zombies, writers, and other creatures of the dark. I'm in town for several weeks to work on creating a theatre piece based on my book of poetry, A Bad Year for Journalists. If you're in town on December 20th or 21st, drop by the Alchemy theatre (133 Tecumseth, one block SW of Bathurst & Queen) at 8pm to see what we've been working on--the workshop production will be practically free, and we're looking forward to getting your feedback.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

jazz & poetry

Went to see William Parker at the Black Rebels Festival up at La Villette, and I was AMAZED. The band he put together was stunning, AND it included spoken word by Amiri Baraka (who used to be Leroi Jones: Black Power/Beat poet extraordinaire). The premise was "The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield". Now, I bought a ticket because of Baraka, and it was great to see a the man in person, doing his thing (and though he's looking a bit like a Beat Yoda these days--he's 72 years old--he lived up to his fireball reputation). But the real thrill of the evening was the music. I like jazz, I appreciate technique as much as any layperson, but it's rare to see a band that's really on fire. And William Parker's musicians were exactly that. The sax and trumpet players, Darryl Foster and Lewis Barnes respectively, were the smoothest and most impeccably together players I've seen all year, and Dave Burrell on piano managed to sound delicate and insane at the same time (and when he plays solos, the man looks like he's wrestling a rhino). And the drummer, a guy named Hamid Drake, sounded like an entire samba band when he got going. For once poetry, pop, and jazz all mashed up together to create something fantastic. The rather, er, expressionistic photo shows a hat, which is Baraka, and a turquoise wristband, which is William Parker playing bass. All of this in the magical Cabaret Sauvage, which is an old dance "guingette" (a wooden circus tent, essentially) that was dismantled from just outside of Paris and installed by the canal in the Parc de la Villette.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Guimard's Mezzara

Managed to catch the last day of an exhibition in the rarely-open Hotel Mezzara (60 rue Lafontaine in the 16th arrondissement), designed by my all-time-favourite Art Nouveau architect, Hector Guimard--that's him there, in his "Castel Beranger" office around 1900. I'd never been inside the rarely-open Mezzara, and I was amazed to discover the soaring entrance lobby, with a stained glass skylight in the shape of a textile shuttle...because Guimard built the mansion for a textile magnate, who showed his products to clients who visited the mansion. All but the dining room furnishings have disappeared, but the building is in good shape and there's a small association petitioning to get a Guimard museum installed. They organized this recent exhibit around the postcards Guimard used to create to promote his architecture business.

It's worth walking past the outside of the Mezzara if you're in the neighborhood, especially since four other Guimard masterpieces are nearby: check out the Castel Beranger (nicknamed the "Deranged Castle") at 16 rue de la Fontaine, the apartment blocks at the corner of rue Agar and rue de la Fontaine, the Tremois at 11 rue Francois-Millet, and the house he built for himself and his wife, at 18 rue Henri-Heine (squeezed into a tiny triangular footprint of land!) I love Guimard's obsession with grillwork and his "organic" line.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Editeurs de la décoration

Back from the country...where I've been writing about Las Vegas. Slightly surreal to write about casino gambling when all I can see from the window are Charolais cows, munching grass in the greenest pastures this side of Ireland. My only complaint with coming back to Paris is that I've had to give up my wellington boots, because suddenly it's summer weather again & skinny dresses just don't look right with big green rubber boots (call me a slave to fashion). So I took off my boots & headed over to the opening of the Biennale des éditeurs de la décoration at the Carrousel du Louvre (it's on until the 10th, if you're tempted to go). No idea what to expect...but I had an invitation, so I convinced my sidekick to come too, and off we went. Mostly, the Biennale is a trade show--imagine an awful lot of curtain tassels, many many many chandeliers, and some unfortunate facelifts. But, the entrance was spectacular: a black tulle inverted pyramid, suspended from the ceiling of the labyrinthian conference space underneath the Louvre Museum. The pyramid is by theatre set designer Charlotte Villermet; I strolled underneath it to see if there was some hidden Da Vinci Code reference. After that, I spent some time in the Donatus Venetian Fabrics stand, admiring the glam skull art by a nameless Hungarian artist.

I found the press booth, got myself a plastic champagne glass, and my sidekick & I lounged on sofas and chairs by Maurice Renoma (hence, photo!)...good perch for people-watching. Oh, and I had a chance to meet the charming velvet-obsessed Serge Olivares, with his pug Josephine. All in all, quite a change from the country...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

La Samaritaine

A party on K's terrace last night, the gas heater on (because suddenly the weather has changed again & it's cold, standing there in our little summer dresses), watching the clouds rush over the edges of Paris. K mentions the Samaritaine department store that's still closed, one year later; it used to be a great place to drop into after giving a tour through the Louvre, you could browse through the perfume and handbags, or buy a pair of stockings. We compare rumours of what's happening to the building: was it really closed because it didn't meet the fire code regulations? Then why did the company spend so much money renovating the store two years ago? The main rumour persists, that the owner wants to turn the building into a five-star hotel--it's a nice location, smack in the middle of the city, overlooking the Seine and the Pont Neuf. But a hotel wouldn't be so good for the Art Nouveau interior of the store, gorgeously designed by Franz Jourdain in 1906 --the soaring 6-floor open atrium, with its painted turquoise peacocks under the skylights, may not come through a renovation intact. Same goes for the building's Seine-side facade, the 1928 Art Deco "cake" by Henri Sauvage (who so loved ceramic tiles on other buildings around Paris), along with the wonderful iron grill sign at the top of the building. No sign yet of any renovations to bring the building up to standard, so probably the sale/hotel theory is as good as any. I wonder if founder Ernest Cognacq's ghost is wandering through the empty shop, wondering what happened to the old water pump and Samaritaine sculpture that used to sit on the Pont Neuf?

In this great city, dark and silent in the rain, in this Paris of which she was ignorant [the department store] blazed like a lighthouse; it seemed to her the only light and the only life in th city. --Emile Zola "Au Bonheur des Dames" (1883)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Bad Year for Journalists

this is the cover of my new book of poetry, A Bad Year for Journalists, which came out this spring from Frontenac House. i had a great time at the book launches in Calgary and in Toronto (mucho thanks to all involved, especially to my great editor, Rose Scollard!)

the cover is a photograph by Neil Petrunia of a Chinese resto; he photoshopped it to get this nice eerie green colour.

i keep meaning to update my blog, come up with a witty new design, etc etc but life keeps getting in the way.and i can't complain, because some of the things in the way are pretty fabulous...including the astonishing news that The Globe & Mail reviewed my book (hence the brief excerpt below). and the plan to turn the book into a theatre piece seems to be gaining speed. we have funding from the Toronto Arts Council & the Canada Council--hallelujah! the theatre project is a collaboration with Emily Pearlman, Bremner Duthie, and Craig Desson, and i can't wait to get to Toronto in October to get our plans in motion. meanwhile, it is impressively hot in Paris, but there is a lot of cool jazz in the city to keep temperatures at bay (especially after the madness of the World Cup).

"By turns sympathetic, critical, darkly funny and painstakingly lyrical [...] Pasold's colloquial, cynical squint is refreshing, disarming and often funny (reporters making up guidebook titles: "Let's Go Mogadishu")... In an increasingly hyperbolic idiom where everything is so conveniently unspeakable, Pasold speaks up, conveying more than impressions or exaggerations; these poems "explain what it was/ not what it was like." - Katia Grubisic, The Globe & Mail (Toronto, July 8/06)