Habana Vieja: street scenes

There is more to Havana than just Habana Vieja: and there are a lot more images to process and – geez, if I were more pretentious than I like to think I am – ‘curate.’ But before I move on – to art deco suburban architecture, 50s cars and cinemas, the melancholy drama of the…

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Habana Vieja: looking in

You visit Havana, you don’t want to be just a nosy outsider, a tactless tourist, a peeping voyeur – and yet, the place is so different, both in the world that you see before you and in the things you can’t see, but know or imagine are there, that your senses stand on tiptoe to…

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Habana Vieja: two murals

Cuba’s history, of course – by which I mean only its modern history, which we can date back to the first Spanish warships, sailing off the island in the late 1400s – long predates the Revolution. As Richard Gott explains, in his dry but absorbing Cuba, A New History (published in 2004) there has always been…

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The dark side of Havana

Once more to Havana…. So far, I’ve tried not to fall into the trap that the English novelist George Eliot described more than a hundred years ago: seeing other people’s misery as ‘picturesque.’ I’ve described, and shown, the Hotel Inglaterra, posted images of the magnificent Grand Theatre and other architectural triumphs, monuments and renovations, and avoided…

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Dateline Havana: Hotel Inglaterra

You stand in the grand lobby – gilded, ornate – waiting for the lift-doors to open. Off to your right, behind the wrought-iron grille, a pair of well-heeled diners sip at their coffee, eyeing the menu, while an unctuous waiter in starched shirt glides by. At any moment the lift will arrive and Bogart will step out, a laughing…

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Glass Staircase, Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

One of the things you are entitled to when you become a Canadian citizen, along with the right to vote and a Canadian passport and, let’s face it, the privileges and benefits of being a Canadian, is a Cultural Access Pass – a ‘passport’ of sorts to all kinds of cultural spaces and places and travel…

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Hiatus

For the rest of this week I will be working on a big project proposal; next week I will be attending a course at Ryerson, run by the Canadian Evaluation Society. Then back to the proposal, which is due in mid-October but will absorb a good deal of time from a team scattered across Spain…

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Second High Park capybara recaptured

A couple of enterprising capybara made headlines a few weeks ago, here in Toronto, by escaping from the High Park zoo and disappearing into the surrounding greenery. My theory is that they simply dressed up as tourists and mingled with the crowd, and ambled out of the zoo enclosure unchallenged and unspotted. One of the…

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On photographs and writing

One of the things one tries to do with words, I think, when writing fiction, is to convey a sense of a world – of many worlds, perhaps – behind the immediate reality, or surface meaning. A gesture towards the immanent rather than the obvious. This is something that distinguishes the great photographs, too, I…

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Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison, Artistic Giants of Postwar Harlem – The New York Times

I’ve been fortunate to see a number of photos by the wonderful black American photographer Gordon Parks, earlier this year at the ‘Outsiders’ exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario – the AGO – and this weekend at the University of Toronto’s Art Museum. Park’s images of African American life in the forties and fifties have…

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