Sunday 20 April 2014

RIP Frederick Peter Bacher (April 23, 1957 - April 16, 2014)

In 1974 All the President's Men, the Watergate tell-all, rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. In that same year two young journalists were escorted into a musty archive where they proceeded to go through the minutes of years of board meetings, looking for a scoop that would blow the town apart. And they found it – in spades.

"Satanic Invasion at Collegiate?

According to the Committee of Concerned Parents, Satanism is infiltrating the schools."

Yes Fred Bacher had convinced me to launch our high school's Back-to-School 1974 with hardcore journalism.

Fred Bacher passed away on April 16, 2014 at the age of 56. One week shy of his birthday. The news reached me coincidentally during a visit to the small city that he and I had become close friends in. One that we both left for greener pastures. And when I received the information of his passing it was like a taste of a Proustian madeleine. Suddenly wonderful memories came flooding back:
  • Certainly our crude attempt to emulate Woodward – Bernstein. I can report that there is a singular feeling when one opens the minute-books and starts reading between the lines. And the hours of dull boredom are worth it when the words “Satanic Invasion” leap off the page at you.
  • Wandering the downtown streets with cameras and audio recorders, crafting our first films
  • Hours spent in libraries and book stores
  • Disco dancing with our clique. On actual disco dance floors with those colored squares that light up, a la “Saturday Night Fever”. In particular a place “across the river” in another country which was basically a dance floor in a former service garage. (Although dance floors in former garages are hip again.)
I most vividly recall Fred as our social leader in Grade 13, a matriculate year that has fallen victim to triskaidekaphobia and no longer exists. Fred introduced me to Beethoven, Neil Diamond and, most of all, Leonard Cohen. We made short films together and submitted our literary efforts to the local journals. Fred won more prizes than I. Tho' not as many as my girlfriend of the time.

Then Fred and I both did our freshman year at the local college. I have no recollections of us from that time. Does this mean we reached “an end”? I assume we drifted apart. I don't recall a falling out. Although we disagreed about John-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin's Tout va bien. Did we lose contact because of creative differences? How wonderful!

And then a year later I was attending a prestigious film school in the big city. And then I would marry and start a family and become an award-winning filmmaker. And now I do something else.

And the last I heard of Fred Bacher he was on the faculty of a prestigious liberal arts college in a different big city. And that he had a son and was an award-winning filmmaker.

And now he is gone...

Leonard Cohen's Suzanne

My condolences to the Bacher family. Especially his son Bryan.

Sunday 13 April 2014

The American Anglophile, Downton Toronto edition

The popular TV program Downton Abbey is filmed on location at the estate of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon's Highclere Castle. Having just binge-viewed Season 4, I whimsically summoned Google and began a tour of the "Folly". At its simplest a folly is a purposeless architectural anachronism. A structure the laird constructs on a difficult patch of land so that weekend guests will be surprised and delighted to find a roman temple as they reach the far west garden. And something that blocks the view of the manure pile from the path.

My time travel through the Google-verse eventually led to a delightful page on Urban Toronto. Most impressively, the posting was rich with very rare mid 19th C interior photographs.

Here's what's on view:
  • Beverley House, (images circa 1911, just prior to the house's demolition). Situated at the NE corner of Richmond and John, and replaced by Ryerson Press. Now the CityTV Building.
  • The John Gordon House on the SE corner of Clarence Square and Wellington West, later inhabited by Sir William Mortimer Clark, L-G between 1903-1905. A mid-19th C Italianate pile.
  • Government House on the SW corner of King and Simcoe (1868-1912).
  • Chorley Park, the Lieutenant-Governor's residence (circa 1915-1937; demolished in 1960)
  • Most impressively, a series of views of workers residences during the same period. Touching.
  • Flavelle House on Queen's Park Crescent
  • Ermeleigh (SE corner of Sherbourne and Wellesley)
  • Culloden House, home of John Ross Robertson, East side of Sherbourne South of Gerrard (still standing)