Last Sunday, my esteemed colleague and I steeled ourselves and walked over to the closing event of the so-called Wade Toronto “festival,” in which twee artists do artistique things with wading pools. (Is this like making something postmodern by shoving a pyramid on top?) Nobody’s favourite publication, Xtra, bruited it thus:

Inspired by real-life penguins Roy and Silo, who partnered up at NYC’s Central Park Zoo [sic] in the late 1990s… filmmaker John Greyson and photographer Margaret Moores [are] planning a wedding ceremony for homo penguins. “Roy and Silo’s Wedding”…. In the pool… 100 balloon penguins… will float on the water’s surface….

Moores and Greyson also wanted to satirize companies “cashing in” on gay culutre, so they invented a Penguin Books series “100 Gay Classics” with titles like Virginia Wolf’s Orlando [sic]

[Carries on in this vein for some time – Ed.]

We had been fuming at the whole concept for days beforehand, but tried to calm down. We arrived to hear some kind of New Age music emanating from nowhere discernible and a foil- or Mylar-wrapped altar running a video that will surely, in the fullness of time, be played at YYZ or the National Arts Centre or on Bravo. Crinkly foil- or Mylar-wrapped arms of sorts extended out to the water’s edge, while untold paper plates carried balloon penguins and plastic-wrapped books on the current.

Paper plates holding model penguins made out of black, white, and yellow balloons float alongside other plates carrying a plastic-wrapped book and votive candles

Said current was largely counterclockwise when viewed from above, so John Greyson spent all his time repositioning the floating artworks.

A man and a boy lean over and move two books and a candle on a floating paper plate

John is the nicest guy in the business, whatever the business might be, and always says hello when I walk by him. Unfortunately, I always blank on who he is for two paces and have to whip around and yelp “John! Hi! Sorry!” or equivalent, making me look like a snob and a wanker. (I deny being both at once.) I have been unable to sit through the entirety of any of his movies. He’s so relentlessly positive (why shouldn’t he be? he’s a roaring success) that he even claims to enjoy the screenwriting “notes” generated by petits functionnaires, “editors,” and other interlopers.

Anyway, yes, Tschichold is spinning in his grave at seeing his Penguin cover structure reused in this way. (Phil Baines, what do you think?) And you simply couldn’t read the covers of the damned books.

The event – whose location Xtra also misrendered, but then again, this is a publication that bans italics because the publisher-for-life hates them and misspelled “transexual” thus for a decade – was populated by tons of bemused, perplexed kids and parents. Conspicuous knots of hateful leftist girls congregated at the periphery. One of them, decked out in savagely ironic Heidi pigtails, told her friend within earshot of my esteemed colleague: “You know, I think neighbourhoods like this one really turn in on themselves. They’re really insular.”

Now, honey, did you just move to this town? Because one of the highlights of our neighbourhoods is institutional completeness. You can stay right in your hood all day and all night seven days a week if you want, because it has everything you need.

Anyway, I viewed those remarks as a proxy for “I don’t like neighbourhoods that my friends and I can’t afford to live in.” Or “I don’t like neighbourhoods where everyone has a house and a car.” And we let you run your twee little gay art exhibit here.

I saw one gay male there apart from the aforementioned. One. And if you think the kids attending the event learned anything about gay penguins, you’re fooling yourself.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.07.14 15:00. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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