THINGS were said in 2012 willy nilly.
Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore, one of director Satyajit Ray's favourites, talked about working on set with the great film director, Heart of Dankness author Mark Haskell-Smith told us about the state of global cannabis culture, Village Voice writer Vince Aletti discussed the magic of Frank Horvat's photography, Pico Iyer elaborated on his lifelong fascination with the life and work of Graham Greene, etc.
Below are excerpts from some of the articles published in the North Shore News over the past year (written by Erin McPhee, Jeremy Shepherd, Jen St. Denis, Nicholas M. Pescod and John Goodman) with links to the full stories on our website.
North Shore News: You worked on several films with Satyajit Ray over the years. What was a Ray set like? Sharmila Tagore: There is perhaps no filmmaker who exercised such total control over his work as Satyajit Ray. He was responsible for scripting, casting, directing, scoring, operating the camera, working closely on art direction and editing, even designing his own credit titles and publicity material. His films come as close to complete personal expression as may be possible in cinema. Ray's style grows out of the material itself and from an inner compulsion to express it clearly. Although Ray continued to experiment with subject matter and style more than most directors, he always held true to his original conviction that the finest cinema uses strong, simple themes containing hundreds of little, apparently irrelevant details, which only help to intensify the illusion of actuality better. - from July 6: Bollywood legend Sharmila Tagore visiting Vancouver for Indian Summer fest (nsnews.com/ entertainment/Bollywood+l egend+Sharmila+Tagore+vis iting+Vancouver+Indian+S ummer+fest/6892125/story. html#ixzz2EnHYk9Tn)
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North Shore News: There's a lot of grey areas involved in the various cannabis cultures. Different levels of government all have their own ideas about how to handle things.
Mark Haskell Smith: Everywhere you look there's some grey area. It's so interesting - like in Oakland, California - it's zoned where there are certain areas where marijuana use is the lowest priority for law enforcement and then the Feds swoop in and say, 'Hey, it's our highest priority. Everyone's under arrest.' We'd go to these places in Oakland and people would be pretty much openly smoking. They're medical patients - that's what makes it legal there - but not legal for the Feds. You get all these problems you know where someone is legally growing something in California or Colorado and under federal law it's got mandatory minimums of like 10 years in prison. - from July 27: Cannabis cultures: High times in the Heart of Dankness (nsnews. com/entertainment/books/Can nabis+cultures+High+times+H eart+Dankness/6998538/story. html)
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One of Horvat's Calcutta photos, titled Beggars Assembly, seems meticulously staged. His first fashion photograph, taken in Florence, Italy, appears to have been interrupted by an inquisitive horse.
"In a lot of those pictures there's a face or a figure in the foreground that's slightly or almost completely out of focus, and you're looking past that person to his real subject, which is usually a woman in a dress," Aletti says.
Horvat's ability to incorporate the unexpected is a skill that was likely developed as a street photographer, according to Aletti.
"It's also something that I think comes from street work and from photojournalism, where you're dealing with people in motion and people who are not entirely in your control," he says. "So I think there's a really nice sense of spontaneity in the work, no matter how much that had to be planned."
While a more rigid photographer's composition would be compromised by an intrusion or an accident, Horvat's photos seem to be enhanced.
"What I think makes all these pictures work is that he has this great sense of balance. So that even when you're looking at something that is deliberately askew, the picture still feels complete and right." - from Oct. 19: Frank Horvat fashion photographs on view at Presentation House Gallery (nsnews.com/news/Street+s mart+fashion+photographs+Fr ank+Horvat+view+Presentatio n+House+Gallery/7415169/ story.html#ixzz2EnNuvFbI)
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North Shore News: We all have contradictions but they seem to have been a major driving force in Greene's life. The word "escape" is used a lot in describing his world.
Pico Iyer: He titled his second evasive memoir Ways of Escape. He felt this obscure sense of being a fugitive and always in flight but I think he was always in a quest too in trying to come closer to belief or come closer to goodness, and at some level knowing that if he ever did find them he wouldn't really be comfortable. He didn't really fully want to be settled. He was on a quest that I think he hoped he would never complete.
North Shore News: You say you are quite happy to be in one place but it doesn't seem like he was happy to be anywhere.
Pico Iyer: He had a great curiosity which I think is the driving force of so many writers, myself included. At the end of his life he said he wasn't rootless but he was restless and I think that may apply to me also. I think if you ask my friends they would say that I am somewhat restless. Even when I think I am staying in one place by my friends' standards I'm still moving around a lot so I think I do have that hunger to see something that I haven't seen before to look around the corner even if it's just in my hometown. But I do feel very rooted and I think it's the rootedness that allows me to be an explorer and I think it was the same with him. - from Feb 19: Pico Iyer: Stranger in a strange land (nsnews.com/travel/Pico+Iyer+st ranger+strange+land/6177326/ story.html#ixzz2EnDqyMW2)
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"I think conservatives tend to be much more adept at embracing and absorbing populist movements," he says, discussing the Tea Party's integration into the Republicans and the Canadian Alliance melding with the Progressive Conservative Party. "I think it may be kind of a sociological thing where liberals have a tendency to have an antipathy or a suspicion about populism, and I guess what I'm saying is you shouldn't."
As for the Liberals and the NDP, Kinsella believes their choice is simple: they can cooperate or they can lose.
"I don't care if it's a merger, or coalition or just some riding by riding co-operation, you've got to do something," he says.
Harper's success was contingent on uniting disparate conservatives, according to Kinsella.
"It was a mathematical analysis: if these various warring conservative factions remain apart, Liberals will continue to win . . . and if I bring them together, I will win," Kinsella says of Harper's strategy.
But while many countries have gravitated to what Kinsella calls, "a binary political universe," the Liberals and NDP remain divided.
"They feel that their party has a tradition of its own and a history of its own worth preserving, and I understand that. It's powerfully emotional stuff for a lot of people, but I guess what I'm arguing for is for people to be a little bit more clinical in the way that the Prime Minister was," Kinsella says. - from Oct 26: Warren Kinsella takes on conservatives (nsnews.com/entertainment/ books/Warren+Kinsella+takes +conservatives/7450990/story. html#ixzz2EnQPxhyb)
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Emily Perkins doesn't focus on milestone events like first kisses, weddings, or births. Instead, each chapter tells the story of a seemingly random chunk of the characters' lives, with months or years elapsing between each section.
Perkins says she was intent on "focusing on a particular moment, a particular kind of mood or experience, almost like a short story, and then discovering in that how it connects up with the other parts of the life."
Change and transformation - in personalities, relationships and financial and social status - is a central theme.
"Dorothy asks . . . 'Do you think people can really change?' and I think that's one of the questions of the book," says Perkins. "Are we living one existence that could be combined into a single narratives, or do we experience life as lots of miniature narratives? Are we different selves at different times?" - from Oct 19: Time plays significant role in Perkins' work (nsnews.com/news/ Time+plays+significant+role+ Perkins+work/7415171/story. html#ixzz2EnMIW8jh)
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Working on Hope in Dirt City, Pemberton wanted to create a set of tracks unique in their own way.
"I wanted to do something more organic and have more of a natural feel to it. Everything I had done had been highly electronic up until then," he says. "I was very influenced by a mix of '60s and '70's classic pop music. Particularly the early '80s, and late '70s disco music I would say - anything from Grace Jones to the Talking Heads. I wanted to have a mix of all these ideas and influences. It's a mix of all the kinds of music I am into." - from Oct 26: Cadence Weapon talks in dirty verse and possessive pronouns at Fortune Sound Club (nsnews.com/Cadence+Weapon+talks+dirty+ verse+possessive+pronouns+Fortune+Sound+Club/7 440562/story.html#ixzz2EnWi5iTk)
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Ameila Curran has been releasing albums since 2000's Barricade.
"It's been a long time but not that I'd consider myself alumni of any sort but I've certainly been around long enough to see a number of changes in the music industry," she says. "And I can pretend to be older than I am and say, 'Oh, it's not like it used to be back in my day' and things like that. I made my first album when lots of people were making their first independent albums because it was suddenly easy to do and now it's easy to do so much more than just make an album, which I think is amazing and excellent. Music has changed so much faster than the years I've had in it. I can be mistaken and feel quite a bit older than I really am." - from July 13: Stellar East Coast singer/ songwriter Amelia Curran performing at Folk Fest (nsnews.com/entertainment/Stellar +East+Coast+singer+songwriter+Amelia+Cu rran+performing+Folk+Fest/6927854/story. html#ixzz2EnIfFhrS)
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North Shore News: What was it like working with Selwyn Pullan on a photo shoot? Barry Downs: As Fred Hollingsworth says he was fast. He usually came out on a surveillance trip first and he would rumble around with me and not say too much and have a look at the house and experience the house and was very observant. He was looking at where the right light would be at certain times of the day and what he would photograph first and foremost and then what would be secondary views. He would arrive a week or two later after surveillance with his equipment. Set us all up, rumpled up some paper and threw it in the fireplace, and put my favourite books on the table and the furniture that I had built. He had a knack for capturing the essence of the design. It was a unique skill. He had an intuitive way of capturing the emotional qualities of a space - from Oct 19: Revisiting the modern in Selwyn Pullan's photographs (nsnews.com/ entertainment/books/Revisiting+modern/7415 182/story.html#ixzz2EnFwK0xM)
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Spx calls it "doom soul." "It began as a joke but it stuck," says Spx. "I guess it's because the album is hard to categorize, people find, but doom soul seems to be a term that's stuck around. It's obviously ridiculous but I think it makes sense because it is full of doom, but it is also soulful." - from May 11: Cold Specks fills out sound on new album (nsnews.com/entertainment/Cold+Specks+fil ls+sound+album/6604027/story.html)
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In May, Charlotte Gill was awarded a B.C. Book Prize for her non-fiction account of one of the province's dirtiest and hardest jobs. It's a subject she knows well: for 20 years, Gill planted trees in every nook and cranny of B.C. She began writing the book in 2006 at the beginning of her second-to-last year on the job.
"I knew that it was going to be a really incredible year," says Gill. "I knew that we would have all kinds of really wacky adventures. We were living on a barge (that) had berths for 14 people and there were 20 of us living on it, and we were going out to these really amazing, remote places. Almost every day there was something unexpected happening." - from June 1: Tribal tales: Charlotte Gill's Eating Dirt wins B.C. Book Prize for non-fiction (nsnews.com/entertainment/Tribal+tales+Charlott e+Gill+Eating+Dirt+wins+Book+Prize+fiction/671 2349/story.html#ixzz2ExqUhXvc)
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Reaching further back into Canadian history, Richler sees other deliberate distortions.
"The current fuss about the war of 1812 is the nearly comic extension of that idea.
We're spending tens of millions of dollars to commemorate a war fought between the British and the Americans," he says. "The British don't say the Canadians sacked the White House, they say they did. But it's tremendously useful to this ongoing conservative endeavour to have us regard ourselves as tough guys not to be pushed around." - from June 8: Noah Richler talks about war (nsnews.com/entertainment/books/Noah+Richler+t alks+about/6749821/story.html)