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Friday, 25 April 2014

It’s Time To Say Goodbye

For the benefit of the ones who can't come tomorrow to the farewell party, here's my attempt at speech making: they'll hear it live, you can stop any time you want and tune off…

This is a good time for giving thanks, like in the Oscars, except if you don’t want to hear it – well too bad, you can’t push me off my own stage.

I want to thank all of you for the outstanding support over the years.
This shop turned out to become what I wanted when I dreamed it. Except for the money part.

When it was clean and freshly painted and completely empty, in the spring of 2007 – I performed a purifying ceremony here, burning sage in olive oil and casting away the leftover vibes from the previous occupants, and telling my friend Janice what I want to do here. I think she filmed it on her video camera.
I told her I wanted a place for serenity, beauty, friendship, warmth, music, love and comfort. A place where people came in and felt welcome and wanted to stay. And low and behold – somehow it came to be.

It was not devoid of nastiness in between, not always pink bubbly. But the lessons I’ve learned here are going to last me a lifetime.

I have to thank all my friends for telling me I could do it and should do it, and for listening to my stories over the years, the nice ones and the not nice ones, and share in my deliberations, and their advice and condolences and efforts and of course for shopping here and loving it.

I have to thank Izzy for being the man he is, steady, funny and oh so patient, and for providing the counterpoint to my adventures: he’s been saying for years I should call it quits, and that kept me going just to prove him wrong.

I thank Amitai for the reluctant help over the years, specially the year after my father died and I went into a bit of a slump. He sat here and did his best and kept his mouth shut and his bitching to himself, mostly. I love you.

I thank the devoted shoppers, the weekly visitors, the ones who came once a year to stock up on clothes for the season, the ones who came from far away, other provinces and cities and even countries, the story-tellers, the lovers of fine clothes, the treasure hunters, the converts to second hand shopping, and of course the consignors. You made this experiment worthwhile. Not financially lucrative enough for me to retire in style, but the landlord sure did, and I’m sure he thanks you too.
You warmed my heart with your life stories, sharing with me things that I will never forget. To me money is sweeter when it comes with a good sentiment, a feeling something more valuable than bills has passed between the parties. Of course I continually wished there was more money in this business so I could stop worrying about the rent, but maybe there’s another lesson in there I haven’t figured out just yet.

I even thank the shoplifters and the burglars and the hard-nosed low ballers, who provided the contrast to all the good, and the opportunity to comprehend the desperation of some of us humans, to see face to face the misery of a life that has no capacity for compassion or reflection. I feel they too made the fabric of this experience richer. I don’t forgive and I certainly don’t forget the disappointment I felt, but I learned something from them, and everything you learn is valuable. No one should be walking around believing everyone is good, and be surprised when they meet the bad. Learning to watch out and be careful is one hard lesson to learn.

The most vital thing that I found here is that I learned to know and love mankind, and the man in me. I didn’t know men very well before I did this. I think some of the essence of men surfaced in me, and I like this resilience that I found and I like that I am able to use it when I need it.

And that’s about all there is, folks. I’ll be seeing you.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Saturday April 26 - Party Time

Come to say goodbye.
At the shop, 5-8 PM.
See you there.
RSVP any way you want.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Farewell Party

To all the wonderful people I met over the last 8 years in my little shop of pleasures:
A farewell party is in the wings on the last Saturday of the month of April, at the shop.
By then everything will be out, and we'll have a nice empty space to sip a glass of something and toast the past and the future and everything else we want to remember or celebrate.
So mark your calendars and don't leave town. You can come wearing something fabulous you purchased here or not, I leave that up to you.
Hours of the gathering will be posted at a later date.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Few Weeks Till Lights Out

By April 30 all will be gone.
There are 6 weeks left before our doors close for the last time.
Those wishing to purchase very good clothes for very good prices are encouraged to drop by.
Don't wait until it's too late.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The End

Renaissance Man is closing.

Your last chance to get fabulous for next to nothing.
Get dressed for the Oscars, or for your hot date, or just to be warm, stylish, cool, elegant - you name it.
All winter garments are at 50%, as well as many other items throughout the shop.
(recent arrivals excluded).

Friday, 14 February 2014

Love and Chocolate To All

And a nice romantic piece of music for the universal love sickened hearts out there - you are never alone:

Friday, 31 January 2014

Dead Beauties

From the AGO photography exhibit (shhhh, don't tell on me), inspiring images of faces long dead:
The first one is a painting of a newspaper clipping of a murdered girl, doesn't she have a ghost like quality?
The blur is in the painting, not my doing:

And this one, as classic as a Botticelli muse, 20'th century style:

From the Great Upheaval show, the one that stayed with me is this masterpiece by Picasso, called Moulin de la Galette.
It is difficult to say what attracts me in this image the most. Perhaps the delicate line of the chin of the woman who is whispering in her friend's ear, or is she leaning in for a kiss? to see the subtlety of that one brushstroke you need to get close, almost kiss the painting. It is a marvel.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Viewing - Chapter Two

I don't know why we're paying for cable. We get the basic 30 channels, and there is absolutely nothing to watch, most of the time. News? radio is enough for that.
Anyway - we rent TV series on dvd and gorge. It's so much better. Some are fluff, some are gruesome, some are pure gold.
The latest is Top Of The Lake - made by Jane Campion (she of the masterpiece The Piano), placed in New Zealand. We're not done with it yet but I can tell you now: the villain is a very very bad man. You want him dead from the get go. The detective is played by Elizabeth Moss, who we know better as Peggy from Mad Men. She's good - beautiful and talented, a pleasure to watch.
We always want a certain amount of quirkiness to hover around the story, and this is provided here by the sure hand of Holly Hunter. She is only a side character - a bit of a witch/sage/cult leader/nutcase, not an essential part of the mystery, but she is such a powerful performer that whenever she makes an appearance, you want her to stay and do more. She provides a layer of positive craziness that makes us hope for the best.

Another worthy series is from Sweden: Annika Bengtzon - a young and very hot looking investigative journalist who gets too deep and personal with her chosen subjects, very bad people who hide their dark side with money and/or glitz. The actress is a true beauty, in the same way Bergman's actresses were beautiful - you can't stop watching them. She gets results, she entices, we grow to like her a lot and we want her to get the bad guys, and she delivers. I admit it is a bit of a fluff, but it's satisfying fluff, and they speak Swedish which makes it exotic, to me.

Viewing Pleasures - Chapter One: The Past

This is cocooning time of year, as unspeakably low temperatures grow fiercer in the wind, when all you want to do is crawl under the covers, or into a dark theatre after a good warm meal, and allow your mind to wander the globe through the screen.
We've been watching stuff - lots of stuff. From Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, France. TV dramas that our dedicated crew at the local video shop are kind enough to bring in, and movies.

Lets do the latest movie first: The Past - the creator is an Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi. He places this story in Paris, not the Paris you see in a Woody Allen movie. Not the elegant chick Parisian glory saved for tourist, not the river and the churches. Instead we get the decrepit misery of the working class, but the crazy dramas that plague life for rich and poor alike are all there.
The theme of the story is the ripple effect our small personal choices have on the lives of everyone we touch. The ripples are more tsunami like than gentle waves: A displaced man riddled with depression leaves his family behind to go seek peace of mind in the old country. The end result is a woman he has never met and never will in a hospital bed in a coma. The trajectory of small seemingly unrelated actions people take that lead us there is the basis for this tragedy.
Don't expect laughs, there aren't any. Not a single smile crosses the faces of these people. They see no humour in their situation, because there isn't any. Love, passion, hope for something good is what these people want, they think what they do will get them what they want, but they make wrong choices, and others pay the price.
It's a good movie. Bleak but very good.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

August: Osage County - Movie Review (spoiler alert)

Who can resist a movie with Dame Meryl Streep? I know she hasn't been knighted yet, but it's gonna happen one day. Anyway, I couldn't resist, although I kind of knew what I was about to see was going to be unpleasant.
It's the type of movie I usually avoid - the Great American Family Drama, in the way Tennesee Williams used to write them. I lost the taste for these melodramas long ago. But Meryl Streep… so I went.
It is very well written. There are some lines there that should be put into a bible of the best lines in movie history, seriously killer lines. Not that I can repeat them now, but I remember thinking that while we were laughing.
It starts funny, but goes sour pretty fast. You know the way it goes in family gatherings - we start laughing and end up crying.
Naturally, the acting is beyond reproach, impeccable. I don't quite understand why the two English boys, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ewan McGreggor had to be brought from across the pond to play American guys - seems that Mr. Cumberbatch is a must in every production these days, but they took away his best tool, his fabulous English clip. Oy. Not terribly good use of his presence.
They make for a good looking crazy bunch, with a passion for what they call 'truth-telling' that gives truth telling a bad name. These are the kinds of truths you want to be kept buried for eternity, not splashed all over the old furniture and your face during lunch. They tell it to you regardless, and the results aint pretty.
Subtlety is not to be seen here. It is a brutal play, but a bit of holding back in the story line would have done it much good. Towards the end in particular, when everybody's guts are already slashed and bleeding, a little restraint should have been deployed. Since this is America everything is torn apart in the end, with no one left standing.
I see Oscar parties coming for these guys. They do love blood in America.

Here are some of these lines, for your pleasure:
BARBARA: What were these people thinking... the jokers who settled this place. Who was the asshole who saw this flat hot nothing and planted his flag? I mean we fucked the Indians for this?
BILL: Well, genocide always seems like such a good idea at the time.
BARBARA: Right, you need a little hindsight.
BILL: If you want me to explain the creepy character of the Midwest, you’re --
BARBARA: Please, the Midwest. This is the Plains: a state of mind, right? A spiritual affliction, like the Blues.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Last Day 2013 - Make it A Good Day

Every day counts, but lasts and firsts make us think about the passage of time more.
Every day we do small things that make us a little lighter inside.
For me it is a simple daily pleasure, my morning coffee in my kitchen, my quiet time. I don't rush it. I savour it and I know I am blessed to have it all - the kitchen, the good coffee grinds, the choice of a cup I like, the time - more than anything else - the time.
If I have companions for my little ritual I feel it's an extension of my privilege. It could be a cat, a child, a partner, a neighbour, a friend. Once in a blue moon, a sister - in the flesh or on skype from far far away. Every one of those is a welcome addition, never an interruption.
I wish you a year filled with the small things that make your own life a blessed life.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

It's A White Christmas

Fluffy snow drifting down on our quiet city this morning. The house is quiet too.
It will be a busy day once I get started. I offered to cook an impromptu holiday dinner for friends who lost power in the ice storm and don't have it back yet, and can't host their traditional festive one. It won't be as grand, but the house will be warm and there will be food.
Such beautiful devastation.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Old Man Winter

Has arrived, no question about it.
The myth that it can't be cold when it snows - where does that come from? It's bitterly cold, hovering around the -20 c, my frozen fingers after a few minutes of snow shovelling are hard proof, and snowing relentlessly. Even the cats don't want to be out today.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Night Train To Lisbon

A plug in for a very good movie that did not get the recognition it deserved:
With the fabulous lead of Jeremy Irons, his voice as deep, enticing and soothing as it ever was, and a supporting cast that is the best of the best. The backdrop story is of the darkest times in Portugal's recent political and social history, of which I'm ashamed to say I was completely ignorant. The intricate web of love and hate that happens between friends and enemies, and what time does to both is what makes this movie deep and thoughtful.
Based on a novel which I intend to read, of the same name.

All thumbs up for this one.