Friday, November 16, 2012

The House that Herman Built

Herman's House, Canada 2012, 82m, Angad Singh Bhalla

This very important film was seen at this year’s Montreal International Documentary Festival / Ce film très important a été visionnés lors des Rencontres Internationale du Documentaires a Montréal de cette année CLICK HERE FOR COVERAGE / CLIQUER ICI POUR COUVERTURE
 In 1967, Herman Wallace along with fellow Black Panthers Robert Hillary King and Albert Woodfox, were sent to Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana after being caught robbing a bank. They became known as the Angola 3. In 1972, during a series of prison strikes, 23-year-old guard Brent Miller was stabbed to death. The 3 were put in solitary confinement as a result. In 2001, a young activist artist Jackie Sumell, outraged by the apparent cruelty, got into contact with Herman and asked him to participate in a very ambitious art project. What would be your ‘dream house’ after being in solitary confinement for nearly 4 decades?
What follows is a heart-wrenching portrait of how one man can survive physically, emotionally and spiritually despite being subjected to a cruel and barbaric punishment. What struck me as most amazing is that Herman, despite being in such an exceptionally bad situation, was the one who provided the strength to continue not only to Jackie but also to his sister and many others with whom he has come into contact with over the years.
En 1967, Herman Wallace ainsi que ses compatriotes des Black Panthers Robert Hillary King et Albert Woodfox, ont été envoyés à l’Angola, un pénitencier de l'État en Louisiane après avoir été arrêter pour un braquage de banque. Ils sont devenus connus comme les Angola 3. En 1972, au cours d'une série de grèves prisonnier, Brent Miller, un gardien de 23 ans, a été poignardé à mort. Les 3 ont été mis en cellule d'isolement par conséquence. En 2001, un jeune artiste activiste Jackie Sumell, scandalisé par la cruauté apparente, prend contact avec Herman et lui a demandé de participer à un projet très ambitieux. Quelle serait votre «maison de rêve» après avoir été en cellule d'isolement pendant près de 4 décennies?
Ce qui suit est qu'un portrait déchirant de comment un homme peut survivre physiquement, émotionnellement et spirituellement malgré une punition cruelle et barbare. Ce qui m'a frappé comme la plus étonnante est que Herman, malgré dans une telle situation exceptionnellement mauvaise, était celui qui a fourni à la force de continuer non seulement à Jackie, mais aussi à sa sœur et beaucoup d'autres avec qui il est venu en contact avec au fil des ans.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nancy Snipper's letter to Pauline Marois:


Je vous déteste. Vous m’avez enlevé tout mon amour pour la langue française que j’adorais - dans mon enfance et à l’université;  c’était ma matière principale là. C’était ma vie. J’ai été au pair en France; j’ai passé des étés à étudier la langue à Québec au Collège Laval. En plus, les livres que j’ai écrits pour les enfants étaient en français. J’ai  même déménagé de Toronto à Montréal pour être plus avec les francophones - pour vivre avec les canadiens francophones qui partagent notre pays, tellement riche et divers -  respecté pour ses  politiques démocratiques.

Nancy Snipper

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Agony of the Artistic Temperament

                                                          by Nancy Snipper

Have you ever been told you have an artistic temperament?

Vincent Van Gogh, Schumann, Beethoven and poet, Sylvia Plath (top to bottom).
Is this a compliment or a softly delivered insult? I can remember being told by my mother that I was different, that I didn’t see the world as others did, that writing poetry at the age of nine was not an activity most pursued with élan, even if it would earn you a gold star from your teacher.
The fact is, I was kind of a word nerd, a dreamy escapist who felt my way as the only way, and the condition worsened when I discovered Herman and the Hermits. Great! Now I could travel across the Mercy, get inspired write poetry and then put the words to music. I could become a lyric goddess, inspired by the water under the ferry I was riding!
My imagination seemed to control most of my life. Even when I had my tonsils out, I woke up and began writing a poem about darkness. Heavens to Betsy, what was happening to me?
One day when my turtle died and I cried for a week, my mother sat down to explain that I had an artistic temperament. I felt rather happy to hear this, because I didn’t understand what this meant, but I found the phrase to be poetically pleasing to the ear. I immediately began writing little verses whose words rhymed with ‘ment’ – ‘bent’, ‘lent’ and ‘sent‘could fit nicely into a 4-line verse. Then I became really excited with the word ’resent’. It was secretly aimed at people in my teens who did not accept my ‘artistic temperament’.
Later on in life, I began to see that I was overly sensitive to people’s joking about me. In fact, I was an emotional dragon, spewing out invectives against the world in my poetry and the world.not even a diva. I had achieved nothing, so there was no justification for that title. I just had a lot of ideas that wanted to be expressed in poetry and music.
Now decades later, I am proud to say I no longer have that artistic temperament, where the universe where my feelings and thoughts were all that mattered.
Working with other artists as an interviewer and collaborator on projects I began to see that some artists lack a connection to the real humdrum very necessary aspects to daily living. Many of the people I interviewed seemed to live in an altered state and in a different reality from the one I and most other face every day. Getting up, feeling aches and pains, going to work, struggling with traffic, getting annoyed by a co-worker who did not want to do his fair share of a teaching project, even feeling bored and turning on the sleep tube (TV).
So what was it that changed me?
Maturity I hope, and the fascination I have with others rather than myself as a writer, observation is tantamount to the craft. Meeting a new person or catching up with a friend you haven’t seen for a while is like unwrapping a new gift - surprises galore. Everyone is an exclusive package, and even if they have that artistic temperament which to me translates as picky-picky, inability to laugh at one’s weakness, sensitive to every comment made or dodgy in responsibility (this may not be your take on the term), I find this über fascinating.
Take the composer Mahler: he totally disallowed his wife to pursue her musical career as a composer. He insisted that she must remain subservient to him and that, as his muse, her role was to be present and supportive of his moods. He guarded his artistic temperament, putting his creativity above his marriage.
Plato said that artistic temperament is divine madness. Freud called it a dark angel of destruction. Psychiatrists have noted that many great artists suffer from a deep neurosis that can result in self destructive behavior: Vincent Van Gogh, Schumann, Beethoven and poet, Sylvia Plath.
                                                                   Sigmund Freud
An artistic temperament can work for you though. It is the driving force behind all those obsessive creative ideas that won’t leave you alone until you make them real. So next time someone tells you that you have an AT, say thank you and get on with that new thing you want to bring to life.

Also posted on / Aussi attesté sur : SMR Cultureplus

Thursday, August 2, 2012

moved to another site / déplacé vers un autre site


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Verdun’s Smoking Gun

                                                               by Nancy Snipper

 Tobacco kills. We all know that. Imperial Tobacco should be called Perilous Tobacco. Regardless of our government’s massive campaign warning us all of nicotine’s lethal effects, and doctors’ stern words to quit smoking, it seems to be going up in smoke in Verdun, Montreal. Having recently moved from NDG, I am appalled at the sea of smokers striding Verdun’s sidewalks. The area is congested with coughers at almost every corner! Some look as old as 14. The stench of cigarette smoke in the air is pungent. Our downstairs epitomize what goes on here - in their backyard from 10 a.m. - stopping at 8 pm. Forget about opening the windows of my walk-up one floor above. Much as I find Verdun, colourful, friendly and full of outdoor recreational facilities, I think a more fitting name for my newly adopted neighbourhood would be Vraidumb!

Friday, April 13, 2012

L'intimidation: Il est temps de prendre une position

Version Français de:
                                                                           Bully (cultureplus)
                                Bullying: it’s time to take a stand (Culture Plus / Matters of Personal Interest)

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Le dernier film «Bully (Intimidation)» réalisé par Lee Hirsch est un documentaire ou «le moment est venu de s’exprimer». C'est un film provocateur et très important sur un sujet qui est en train de crée beaucoup de tumulte dans le monde entier. L'intimidation est un problème universel qui touché un grand nombre. L'intimidation peut se produire dans les écoles, au travail et même sur l’Internet (cyber intimidation). Elle transcende toutes les frontières, y compris géographique, raciale, ethnique et statut sociale. Ainsi, il peut avoir un effet dévastateur sur ceux qui en ont été victimes. Elle a mené beaucoup à s'isoler de la société du à la terreur d'être intimidé. Certains se suicident (appelé bullycide); d'autres deviennent des tyrans eux même ou se déchaîne violemment, habituellement pars la vengeance. Les victimes ont tendance à être exclus de la société, incapables de s’intégré, tandis que le tyran est souvent une personne anxieux, il se sent qu’il doit «prouver» quelque chose. Au fond le tyran se sent menacée par sa victime.
L'intimidation existe depuis le début de l'homme mais aujourd'hui du à les progrès technologiques dans les communications, les effets peuvent être plus dévastateurs souvent due a l'affichage sur les réseaux sociaux tels que Facebook et You Tube.
Ce documentaire très important, qui, à mon avis, devrait être visionnée par tous (malheureusement il a reçu un classement de ‘R’ au États-Unis, qui signifie que l'auditoire auquel elle est principalement dirigée, les jeunes moins de 17 ans ne sera pas admit pour le voir), suit les histoires de cinq élevés du secondaires qui sont (ou on été) des victimes d'intimidation, les effets sur eux même et sur leurs familles. Il documente également les réactions des professeurs, administrateurs, la police, la communauté et la société dans son ensemble. Il est temps de résisté et de décrier cette forme de violence et de réaliser que le cliché «les enfants seront les enfants» est dépassé, usé et carrément dangereux.
Les cinq histoires sont :
Alex 12 de Sioux City en Iowa, qui doit endurer les insultes, les malédictions et les menaces tout en voyageant dans le bus à et de l'école. Il dit à ses parents qu’ils sont ses amis et ils sont simplement «déconner» comme il est si désespéré pour s'intégrer.
Kelby 16 de Tuttle Oklahoma, qui, avec sa famille, a été traités comme un paria dans cette petite ville profondément dans la Bible Belt des États-Unis depuis qu’elle a admis qu’elle est gay. Elle a dû faire face à la haine non seulement de ses camarades de classe, mais aussi de ses professeurs.
Ja'Meya 14 comté de Yazoo en Mississippi a dû endurer d'être harcelé chaque jour, le matin et l’après-midi sur le voyage de bus aller-retour de l'école d’une durée d’une heure. Le premier jour de septembre, elle avait eu assez. Ja'Meya, calme et modeste, a pris le pistolet de sa mère dans une tentative de faire peur a ceux qui la tourmentait. Elle a été en suite accusée de plusieurs d’infractions majeures.
David et Tina Long, comté de Murray en Géorgie, sont en deuil. Leur fils Tyler, âgé de 17 ans, s'est pendu après des années d’avoir endurer des comportements abusifs envers lui. Ils se sentent coupable à être incapables de le protéger et de colère envers le système scolaire qui a échoué lamentablement en lui offrant un refuge.
Après que Ty Smalley a l’âge de 11 ans s'est suicidé en raison de l'intimidation, ses parents, Kirk et Laura a lancé une organisation contre l'intimidation, appelée «Stand for the Silent
On a tous besoin de s'impliquer et de crier à haut voix «L'INTIMIDATION: IL FAUT C’ARRÊT».
Lee Hirsch

Bullying: it’s time to take a stand

Bully by Lee Hirsch (cultureplus)
L’article Français sur Culture Plus / Matters of Personal Interest

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The latest film “Bully” directed by Lee Hirsch is an 'it is time to speak out' documentary. It is a provocative and very important film about a subject that is currently creating a lot of uproar worldwide. Bullying is a universal problem that affects many. Bullying can occur in schools, at work and even on the Internet (cyber bullying). It transcends all borders including geographic, racial, ethnic and social standing. As well, it can have a devastating effect on those who have been victimized. It has led many to isolate themselves from society for fear of being bullied. Some commit suicide (called bullycide); others become bullies or lash out violently, usually out of vengeance. The victims tend to be social outcasts, unable to fit in, while the bully is often an insecure individual who feels he / she has to 'prove' something. Deep down the bully feels threatened by his / her victim.
Bullying has been around since the dawn of man but due to today's technological advances in communications the effects can be more devastating often due to postings on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube.
This very important documentary, which in my mind should be viewed by all (unfortunately it received an ‘R’ rating in the United States which means that the audience to which it is mainly directed, youth under 17 will not be able to see it), follows the stories of five high school students who are (or were) victims of bullying, the affect on themselves and their families. It also documents the responses of teachers, administrators, law enforcement, the community and society as a whole. It is time to stand up and decry this form of violence and realise that the cliché "kids will be kids" is passé, worn out and downright dangerous.
The five stories are:
Alex 12 from Sioux City Iowa, who must endure slurs, curses and threats while traveling on the bus to and from school. He tells his parents they are his friends and that they are just ‘messing around’ as he is so desperate to fit in.
Kelby 16 from Tuttle Oklahoma, who along with her family, has been treated as a pariah in this small town deep in the bible belt of the United States since she has admitted that she is gay. She has had to face hatred not only from her classmates but from her teachers as well.
Ja’Meya 14 from Yazoo County Mississippi had to endure being picked on every day, morning and afternoon on the one hour bus ride to and from school. On the first day of September she had had enough. The quiet and unassuming Ja’Meya took her mother’s handgun in an attempt to scare those who were tormenting her. She was subsequently charged with multiple felonies.
David and Tina Long, of Murray County Georgia, are grieving. Their 17-year-old son Tyler hanged himself after years of enduring abusive behaviour towards him. They feel guilt at being unable to protect and anger towards the schooling system that failed miserably in providing him with a safe haven.
After 11-year-old Ty Smalley committed suicide due to bullying, his parents Kirk and Laura launched an anti-bullying organization called “Stand for the Silent.”
We all need to get involved and shout out loud “BULLYING HAS TO STOP.”
Lee Hirsch

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Most Creative Hairdresser in Chapala, Mexico

                                                            By Nancy Snipper

Her name is Karla, and I discovered her by chance. I had just climbed down the mountain leading off the main street in wonderful Chapala. The view from the top gave me a 360- degree vista of Chapala’s stunning enormous lake that is the focal point of this city in Jalisco province.
Estetica Karla’s is just on the main street that ascends up to the base of the mountain.
She and her daughter have been working together and their combined experience offers more than 22 years of cutting, styling and colouring hair.
I walked in and told Karla to give me something funky, fun and lively.
She began mixing colours using at least three different bowls and after two hours, my dark drab hair was no longer. I was full of golden streaks, strategically placed to give me a wow effect. It was a 240-karat job as far as I was concerned. Then, Karla told me she couldn’t let me leave without applying makeup. This was on the house. Oh my God, I felt like a movie star. I must have looked like one too, for when I left; a woman on the street was staring at me. I asked her in Spanish why she was staring at me. Her reply was simple: “Eres Bella.” That made my day. I was “beautiful” according to this lovely-looking lady who was at least 20 years younger than me.
Karla was not only fun, she laughed a lot, danced to the music after my hair was done, and generally made me realize that joy resides in her ‘estetica’ ( beauty salon).
She is a beauty. So next time, you need a hair fix, a face “lift” and a smile at your lips, you just poke your head in and say: “Karla, I need you.” The cost for all of this was $25. In Canada, it would have cost close to $250.00! Just ask for Karla’s Estetica. Her address is: Lopéz Cotilla #361-A; her cell is 333-506-34-13.
Karla (left) / Nancy (right)

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The Best Doctor in Chapala

                                                                  by Nancy Snipper

He does acupuncture, manipulations of the spine, holistic treatments, consultations and tests and readings of lab results.
In fact this doctor is so well trained and knowledgeable, I would move down to Mexico just to be treated by him. His name is Dr. José Ricardo Heredia Granados. He has trained in Beijing and North America. I didn’t even have an appointment. I walked into his “office” and he appeared from his inner office. Hand-made wooden furniture designed by him warmed me up to the place.
Dr Granados immediately welcomed me and read my lab reports ordered by another doctor who was not available to read the report.
Not only did he call the lab for further testing, but wanted me to stay one day longer in order to prescribe appropriate treatment after all tests were completed. He could do this in a few hours the next day.
We began to talk about the body and healing. At this point I asked him if he would like to listen to a song magnificently sung my Georgia. It is called “Who Wants to Live Forever.”  The late great Freddie Mercury of Queen also performed it; in fact one of his band members composed it. Thank God for You Tube.
Dr. Granados didn’t hesitate. Together we listened to it, and he commented how much he admired Freddie Mercury of Queen. This was a cool doctor who truly understood the value of a moment and to go with it. He suddenly asked me if he could do some manipulations on my back. It was killing me, and I had been suffering for several months. “There is no charge. I need to help you.”
He gently manoeuvred my body into various positions and made the comment that he does not wait until he hears a crack of the spine. He feels this is not necessary. Nonetheless, he did realign me as several ‘cracks’ came out, including those painful kinks that we all have in the neck and back.
The cost for the 2 hours I spent with him was a mere $17. He also handed my friend several tablets of cipro, a powerful antibiotic that alleviates infection. He did not charge him, and this drug is very expensive. Dr. Granados’ office is on Flavio Romeo #453 in Chapala. He is right beside the lab. Please visit him, even if you feel well. Phone: 376 765 22 33, Cell: 331 408 18 32.

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