Flying on Other Vectors with Lou Bourgeois

Mark, Ms. Modigliani, and Lou at Il Paridiso
Mark, Ms. Modigliani, and Lou at Il Paridiso in Oakville, Ontario.

Lou Bourgeois sent me a kind email in response to Café Mouffe’s John Arpin edition. I pull it out to re-read whenever I need a lift. A retired Canadian Army general, Lou was chief spokesman for the Ministry of Defense in the Pierre Trudeau government. He can turn a phrase, and he has the charm to back it up. Many thanks, Lou!

Dear Mark,

Sorry for the delay in replying to your most welcome message but I was flying on other vectors last week and was more or less divorced from my computer. Now things are back to normal, or as close to it as I can hope for — or, probably, deserve.

I’m pleased that you enjoyed John Arpin and that Charles A brings warm memories of Paris.

I must tell you that your blog took hold of my life last night and wouldn’t let go. I sat down and took aim at just after seven o’clock and didn’t get up until after nine. I played each Arpin session at least three times (awestruck all the while) and then I tasted morsels from the other pianists. By the time I staggered out of my den, ragtime was thundering in my head.

You may be amused when I tell you that Arpin for me ,and for friends who are Arpin fans, is not thought of as a ragtime pianist, but rather as a combination of a fine classical accompanist for one of our Canadian icons, Maureen Forrester, and as a wide-ranging pianist in the pop field. My Arpin CDs are Gershwin, Cole Porter and other composers of the great standards.

I don’t even have an Arpin ragtime CD, but I’m ordering one today. I believe, incidentally, that there are only one or two in his output of some 60 LPs and CDs. I still remember fondly sitting in the piano bar of the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto, in the late 70’s when he was playing there. No ragtime then, but I would have loved it.

After my session with Arpin, I turned to your delightful piece on Georgia O’Keefe. My wife was an artist and both she and Elspeth worshiped O’Keefe’s work. Through the years one of the books on our coffee table has been book of O’Keefe paintings In fact, after reading your piece last night, I went into the living room and browsed once again through the book. I find her work exciting.

When I think about O’Keefe I inevitably think New Mexico and invariably it brings to my mind Willa Cather’s great classic, Death Comes for the Archbishop. So, again, your blog triggered a reaction. Before retiring for the night, I read the first chapter again and savoured the simple but elegant prose. So thank you for that..

Sorry for the rambling,Mark,but, of course, it’s your fault for putting fascinating items on your blog.

Belated best wishes for a sparkling and bright 2008.

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