Time warps can be fun, especially when they take you back to your formative years. It's also interesting to see those times recreated by a younger generation. Who would have thought that attending an indie gallery opening in Puerto Vallarta in March 2013 would find me contemplating the ghosts of 1978 as rendered by six visual artists, some of whom were not even born then? But there they were, lingering on the walls and in the corners of the Starving Artist Studio Gallery. This was not just a slavish recreation of an ethos, however, but an unofficial reinvention of a controversial period in art, one that's not easily refined, like putting boulders in a blender and expecting them to come out smooth and polished. Yet here was Keith Haring revisited, with traces of Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Wojnarowicz reflected back in thoughtful, intriguing ways, photographic images that Cindy Sherman or Robert Mapplethorpe might have contemplated in the aftermath of punk's corrosive vision. Here, too, was Pop art without all the irony, and layered over with a queer twist. Even the casual, seemingly artless approach to appending work to the gallery walls (here sometimes painted directly on the walls in DayGlo colours or projected onto a loosely blowing screen) speak of punk and Pop's disdain for things too refined or carefully considered. Not quite as transgressive as the originals, still it's a brave choice amid all the decorative elements Vallarta churns out endlessly. If you missed it back then, here's your chance to see it now.

The Starving Artist Studio Gallery, Aldama #209, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico



Wow, it was quite a day. First off came news of my Lambda Award nomination for Lake On The Mountain. (Yay, thanks!) Ceremonies in New York in June. Then I met up with poet/novelist Jim Nason at a fun and funky west end bar, No One Writes To The Colonel, for the launch of The Acrobat, an online zine from the hard-working folks at Tightrope Books, promising fabulous visual, aural and written art, and put together with a lot of love and enthusiasm. As if that weren't enough, writer Keith Garebian and I took in Mary Walsh's bombalistic Dancing With Rage at the Panasonic. All Canadian, All The Time, this is comedy at its best, as Mary tromps through her favourite characters and gives Canadian politics its comeuppance. ("I don't like political jokes anymore," Marg Delahunty laments. "I've seen too many of them elected.") Marg's search for the love child she gave up decades ago takes her to Ottawa, where she faces her fears that it might just turn out to be that "crypto-nazi" Stephen Harper. I'm with Marg when she laments that things get soft in middle age. Marg is referring to her body; I'm referring to my cultural heroes. I doubt Mary Walsh will ever get soft. As we say in the Maritimes, "She got some mout' on her, that girl!"


Seems to be my week for being coaxed out of the house to see things I might otherwise not experience. First up, with writer Farzana Doctor, I attended artist and agitator Gita Hashemi's fine piece of political dialogue at the A Space Gallery, Time Lapsed, about the British-US derailing of Middle Eastern democracy when the legally-elected Iranian leader Mossedeq was ousted in what was to become the blueprint for American political interventions that continues to this day. Then, no less trenchant, last night I went with friend David Tronetti to the Hart House production of Martin Sherman's epoch-making play, Bent, to see our friend Edward Karek as a very unpleasant Nazi. Edward, we hereby crown you The Queen of Nasty.


Attended Gita Hashemi’s Time Lapsed at the A Space Gallery last night with Farzana Doctor. It was a last-minute invite from Far Out Farzana, so I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out it’s a performance work-in-progress about an important period in history that I’ve been writing about tangentially in a book that deals with, among other things, American intervention in the destinies of other nations. Iran, 1953, was the first time the US government, with help from Britain, removed a democratically elected leader from office in what would become a blueprint for interventions that continue to this day: first comes the financial and political destabilization of the country, followed by the demonization of the leader, and ending with his ouster. Sound familiar? When America complains bitterly about the current Iranian monster-president, Ahmadinejad, it strikes me as ironic since their interruption of the democratic process is the reason he’s there now.


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