Monday, 27 August 2012

Visiting Gabriel Gonzaga in Guarulhos

On a Sunday morning I take the bus towards the Armenia Underground Station to go and visit my friend Gabriel who was staying with his mother Gislaine in Guarulhos. There are two churches on the corner of Avenida Santos Dumond and Rua dos Bandeirantes. Igreja Metodista da Luz [Methodist Church] and Igreja Apostólica Armênia do Brasil.

Just across the street on the other side of Armenia Underground Station there is another Armenian church... a protestant one for that matter. It's called Igreja Central Evangelica Armênia and it's on Avenida do Estado, 1.191.

Surprise! I found this beautiful bottle-brush tree right next to the Memorial for the Armenians fallen during the Great War (1914-1918).
'Monumento erigido em memória de 1.500.000 de mártires armênios massacrados pelos turcos em abril de 1915'. The other writing says: 'Mesmo que acorrentem meus pés, amarrem minhas mãos, tapem minha boca, meu coração gritará por  liberdade'.
When I finally got to Armenia Station around 2:00 PM who do I see in the queue waiting for the Guarulhos inter-municipal bus? None other than Sidney Canela who was obviously going the same way... 
waiting in the queue for the 111 to get on the road to salvation...
it's municipal election time in Guarulhos... and there's a chance of Elvis being elected to the city council...
there we are... on Gabriel's street... (listen to 'On the street where you live' from 'My fair Lady').
Gabriel & Sidney ready to bop... Sunday, 26 August 2012.
Gislane looking ahead...
Gabriel in the car... bound for glory...
'Pesqueiro' is a place by the road where they breed fish in a pond for people to 'fish'...
Gislane, Lauro, Thiago & Gabriel drinking a few beers and waiting for their fried fish.
Sidney & Gislane just being cool...
Gabriel playing 'Chegou a hora da fogueira'...
there was a lot of chooks around...

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Paulo Tyba in Curitiba

Paulo Tyba and I had been close friends as of 1967. Then at Christmas 1973, we saw each other for the last time. I went my way and he went his. I only found Paulo again around 2007, when I was surfing the social network Orkut. Paulo was living in Curitiba-PR with his wife of 30 years. He was already sick with kidney problems.

These are the photos Paulo Tyba had in his Orkut album. As Orkut is shutting down I transfered Paulo's last images on earth to this page.

you don't look much older than all those years ago... 14 October 2008. 

It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught his band to play; they've been going in & out of style but they're guaranteed to raise a smile, so may I introduce to you... Paulo Tyba.

...while my guitar gently weeps... 

Paulo & his beloved Minduim... or Johnny & the Moondogs.

Now, sing after me: Mr. Moooooonlight... 14 October 2008. 

You haven't changed much... I lost my hair, you have not. 13 September 2008. 

Some of the scraps I wrote at Paulo's page at Orkut. Paulo had already died in 1 January 2013:

Hello, Paulo!  Even though you have been gone for so long I still think of you sometime. Every time the bus goes past the apartment-house you used to live your auntie on Rua Theodoro Sampaio, I remember you and old times. Suddenly I'm thinking about Trio Los Panchos' 'Esperame en el cielo'... that's tacky, I know. You would laugh so much. I miss you. Paulo Naoto Tyba, all the best, LCA.

9 November 2008 - oi Paulo, olha aí o pessoal da Turma do Pateo, depois do ensaio. Da esquerda p'ra direita: Gabriel, Thais, Nenê, Milton, Sirlei (com meu chapéu lilás), Mara & Myself.

Beto Abrantes & Myself sitting on the stairs of Theatro Municipal in São Paulo - 2011.

Ricardo Santos, Carlus Maximus, Sidney Martins & Beto Abrantes on Avenida Paulista - August 2012.

Gabriel, Beto & Sidney at Beto's 15 May 2013. 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Ben Grieve 1995

With The Big Blue Crush Club trio Ben played the guitar and sang the most beautiful harmony with the brother-and-sister duo.

1 9 9 8 

a card-letter from Ben sent from Berlin on 31 May 1998.

Luiz, hello.

I'm sorry I haven't replied to your letter for such a long time. There's a wee card tho.

I don't seem to be writing to anyone very much at the moment. I think of things to write to people but I can't sit still long enough to get through a whole letter or even a postcard so I have a bunch of half-finished letters and cards from a month out of date that I can't send now cos nothing means anything after that amount of time in Berlin. Are you still singing in the choir? Did you get a job with St. Vinnies? Howz Annandale? Blah blah. Have you got a copy of 'Bella ciao' lyrics? Have you seen Bondi waves recently? Wann kommst du in Berlin an? Sprichst du ein Bischen Deutsch? Auf wiedersehen. Ciao Bella x x.

Benjamin Grieve
c/o Martin del Amo
Johanna Stegen Str. 16
D-12167 Berlin

P.S.S. I'm really just trying to fill the last bit of space now. Did you see the Eurovision song contest? Germany goes wild over this competition which was fun. Dana International was the winner, an Israeli trans-sexual. I liked her, even tho her voice was only so so, she was pretty stunning. She attracted the wrath of Israeli religious fundamentalists so she must be doing something right! Berlin is being taken by ManhattanersI fear, but is full fo little places behind closed doors. X

Friedrichshain - Lenindenkmal, Berlin 

Luiz Amorim, my dear. Hello from Berlin.

I got your letter a while back and I started a reply the same day but never got back to it. I have been a terrible correspondent while here but what can I do? I am a slack tart. I have also been so overwhelmed by everything with so many new impressions and new people, friends to meet (Martin’s friends) language etc, etc.

I am doing a German course 4 days a week which is so much fun even if it’s a bit hard. Around 20 students from: Poland, Turkey, France, Morocco, Canada, Angola, Zaire, Brazil, USA, Mozambique, Argentina and of course this little Australian. The German we speak is very funny… actually I forgot Itally as well. There’s a spunky funny Italian boy in the class who just keeps talking in this weird combination of Italian, Spanish and German which of course has us all falling around laughing in class. Unfortunately the Canadian and American team is (English speakers) the one I am stuck with too often. Debra from Boston and Barry from Halifax. I spend a reasonable amount of my time trying to get rid of them.

Martin is also very busy with his performances and stuff. It has been so lovely to meet with him again and in his place, his life, his Berlin.

This statue in Friedrichshain doesn’t actually exist any more, but the suburb is actually just about my favourite part of Berlin so far. Mitte (which means middle) is the suburb where all the squatters took over after the Wall went down but is now slowly being taken over by tour buses and boutiques. Friedrichshain on the other hand is not so close to the business centre and is being colonised by Punks instead, as well as still inhabited by its old East Berlin residents. If I can come back to Berlin after my tour (I start work in Amsterdam in one month) I would love to live in Friedrichshain. The only problem is the time of year. If I live there I’ll be cold, cos they don’t have central heating, you have to use coal.

Anyway, I’d better go now. Thank you so much for your lovely letter and article (strange to read Australian paper in Berlin) and thank you too for the send off you & Peggy gave me . Your little dictionary has been very handy and reminds me of your generosity of spirit each time I look up a word. Bye for now. Lots of love, Ben xx.  

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While Ben was in Berlin, Germany, he wrote his first ever e-mail to Peggy Giakoumelos who was living in Tokyo, Japan.  

Pegs Pegs Pegs

Berlin, 23 July 1999, Friday

Hey Peggy,

I’m on-line honey. How the fuck are you? I’m very, very extremely embraced humbled ashamed and sorry to have been such a bad correspondent since last saw you running off down the old King St. as I was about to leave the country.

I am not sure this e-mail will make it to you though cos Martin (he is my boyfriend) says that it is unusual to have an e-address with a capital at the start which is what you gave me in your last card. Also this terminal has been a little temperamental of late, so we'll just have to see, I suppose. Your card was as lovely as I have come to expect of your communications. Hey, are you UTS (University of Technology Sydney) graduate or something or does communication just come like totally natural to you like ‘oh naturel, n’est ce pas? … chou chou… sorry I am getting ready for a bit of French speaking soon but more on that later, love And it all sounds as if you’re having the right kind of time for this time of your life. 

I am also still enjoying the feeling of anonymity that is so possible in a new place but I must admit it sounds like Tokyo is a kind of anonymity on overdrive. Sounds fantastic. I almost feel like coming to see you over Christimas instead of the other way round. Speaking of which, I don’t know if I’ll be here at that time cos I am doing a show in Belgium starting in about 2 weeks which will be touring through the winter. But I will keep you posted on my whereabouts so you can make plans and if you want to visit, you will be more than welcome of course. If I am in Berlin then it is easy but I might be somewhere else exciting with a flat all of my own like Luxembourg (which is probably as dull as dish water but it sounds so nice, deLuxembourg living darling) and you might be able to stay there. Who is to know?

Anyhow, that is where the French comes back into the story. I am in Belgium for 3 months of rehearsals and I can do some visits to the French sectors quite easily apparently and I can’t wait, I really can’t wait, Pegs, I can’t wait… I’m wetting myself as I write at the very prospect of another new place but a new place that I already have a linguistic connection with this time… and maiteete, I can’t fucking wait, maieete.

Germany is still pretty German and hey, don’t knock it, scheethart. I got a job with a jerk with a twerp or a turd – how absurd that it scans and it rhymes but it does. But I did and he was, all that and more as well as being vaguely talented in a psychopathic kind of way. I was working on a show as a performer and ended up as the choreographer and assistant-director which would have been nice but I didn’t get the pay rise that I should have and the director was impossible to work with but it is all just a very depressingly familiar story really and I am glad it is all over. I feel that the next phase in Belgium is very crucial. I must save money in order to fund myself to go and meet some French work and 1 director in particular either in the breaks that I get on tour or early in the new year when we finish and then I am back in Prozac City (Sydney) to rehearse Burn Sonata before it comes to Berlin baby. What a fucking whirly gig and I forgot to mention that the Belgium piece goes to Adelaide Festival in March if all goes according to plan just before I start on the Burn Sonata saga… 

Mind fucked am I? Well, yes… and as for that Brazilian tart, how is she? I owe her a letter or 23 I think. What kind of book was he featured in? Your card was a bit smudged on arrival, my dear. What did you get up to with it, pet, or was it smudged en route so to speak. These posters they get up to some monkey business, you know. 

I miss the beach too and that is about the size of it, and I miss some special people like you of example and Luiz. But how cool and strange is that when you consider that not one of us is there right now, that we are on 3 different continents, not one of which is where we met in the 1st place. But most of the people I love just don’t belong, they just don’t and I love them all the more for it. 

But listen, love, I have to be off now like an old cheese as they say cos it has taken me 2-and-a-half weeks to type this and I need a break (my typing is improving). I’m up to almost a word a minute. Drop me a line or 2 to say this e-thing is working and also does Luiz have e-access and address? If not I guess I’ll have to post something soon. Martin says herro back to you and I send you a big squeeze with lots of love and fond regards. 

Bye for now, love Benoula X.

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The disappearing dancer 

He was at the height of an avant-garde dancing career, having just returned from Europe, but Benjamin Grieve has been reported missing earlier in suspicious circumstances.

The 38-year-old, who had been living in Newtown for 3 months, was last seen by a taxi driver who dropped him off in Bondi on 2 October 2003.

'He is very well known in the circles he moves in,' said Benjamin's brother, Stephen Grieve, who asked anyone who may have seen his brother in the last few weeks to contact police.

'He is very energetic and very fit - he has given his life to performing,' his brother said. 'It's been very difficult for the family. You spend half your time thinking the worst and the other half hoping he is still alive.'

Mr Grieve vanished on Thursday, 2 October 2003. That morning he left a friend's home in Enmore and was later seen walking along Parramatta Road, Lewisham.

A taxi driver who was the last to see Mr Grieve told police he dropped him off on the corner of Campbell Parade and Ramsgate Avenue in Bondi just before 2 pm.

A day later, his black backpack was found in the water at Little Manly Cove on 3rd October 2003.

Detective Senior Constable Virginia Gorman said divers searched the area from the Spit Bridge to North Head and found no sign of a body.

Mr Grieve was working as a carer at the time, but did not turn up to work that day. 'He called in sick,' Senior Constable Gorman said. 'It's uncharacteristic of him not to let anyone know where he is.' 

If you know anything about where Benjamin Grieve may be, please contact Newtown police station on 9550-9199. 

The Daily Telegraph, October 2003

Ben Grieve was an astonishing artist and a dear friend.

He was raised in Canberra, lived a long time in Sydney, then in Berlin for 5 years before returning to Australia May 2003. On 2 October 2003, he went missing. His body was found on 14 November 2003 at Manly. He was buried in Canberra in December, at a ceremony attended by his partner Martin Del Amo, his family and friends. Nobody knows of his last hours. We do know he’s gone.

Benjamin Grieves was an actor, dancer, performance maker, musician, singer, writer and thinker. All these skills coalesced in an idiosyncratic and utterly memorable marriage of physicality, musicality and intellect. It made him a wonderful artist. In performance, Ben was electric, elastic, alert. He had a kind of jerky elegance, an ability to move in multiple directions simultaneously, unwinding minute gestures to reveal an endless array of tiny narratives across his body.

Ben began training and performing in Canberra in 1983 with Canberra Youth Theatre’s Troupe. He went on to perform with the Ensemble Theatre Project, Fortune Theatre and People Next Door. In the late 1980s and early 90s he worked with an incredible range of artists and performance makers, including Sydney-based companies Death Defying Theatre, Entr’acte, One Extra, Stalker and Nikki Heywood. He performed at Performance Space, in schools and outdoors, in international festivals, in Europe and with his band, The Big Blue Crush Club, in pubs, clubs and at parties.

In the late 90s Ben’s desire to train, rethink his practice and broaden his professional horizons took him to Europe. He freelanced in Germany, Belgium and Holland with small ensembles and premier companies such as Schauspielhaus Hamburg and Company Felix Ruckert.

Most recently, in Sydney, Ben performed exquisitely in Rosalind Crisp’s tread at Performance Space, reminding Australian audiences of what we had missed during his 5 years away. He also worked as the physical trainer on The Living Museum of Fetish-Ized Identities, generously offering his skills and encouragement to his peers. Around this time he also worked as a community carer.

I’m lucky to have worked with Ben in the early 90s. As with many of his colleagues, we became friends. We’d spend intense times together, then stay in irregular contact, but were always able to pick up where we left off, with one intimate detail or another, sitting in the kitchen chatting, gossiping, giggling into the night about recent exploits and dilemmas—personal and professional. We’d compare work experiences and aspirations, our states of hair, insomnia and relationships.

Ben was unencumbered by worldly possessions—though he was in his own way extremely stylish in his endless collection of midriff tops. He was encumbered with enormous desire. Desire to participate in our world meaningfully but lightly. Desire to make great work. Desire to critically unpick his surroundings, himself, and all that makes up this complex culture.

He interrogated life in general through his performance work and learnt much about his own life through performing. He was always interested in work with political and emotional depth. Making work was serious business for Ben. He gave it a lot. He was wickedly funny and could make tragedy, confusion or loss seem hilarious on stage, in the dressing room, at the after party, even at 6 AM boarding the minibus as it began its trip to Penrith for an 8.30 AM school show.

He was simultaneously generous and demanding of his collaborators. Demanding in the sense that he wanted to collectively crack it, to break through a work to create heart and intellect. He wasn’t petty or sycophantic. He wasn’t interested in industry success or recognition or a cosy career path. He was driven to make great, urgent and beautiful work. And he often did.

Many of his collaborators and friends gathered at Performance Space at the end of 2003 to farewell Ben and engage in a collective act of remembering. While mostly Sydney-based people were able to attend, the event reminded us of how many worlds Ben inhabited over time. He passed through many people’s lives but always with an intensity that was unforgettable. Perhaps Clare Grant put her finger on it when she described the effect of Ben’s reflexivity on his collaborators/ mates: “He watched what he made through a lens that was so complex you found ways of seeing you didn’t know you had.” There’s no doubt this was hard work for him.

A few days before he disappeared, Ben joined the closing night party of The Living Museum. He was elated and as usual, wickedly funny. He was wearing a pink wig, dancing around the space, giggling as he sang cheesy pop songs. He said goodbye at least 17 times.

When I spoke recently with Jane Packham, a very old friend of Ben’s, I asked her the name of a show that she and Ben were making in the late 80s which I never saw but heard so much about at the time. She laughed and said, “I don’t remember, and if you’d asked Ben he probably wouldn’t have remembered. All I know is that I loved him with all my heart.” For many of us whose relationships with Ben began through making work but extended into intense and enduring friendships, this is our experience also — we know we loved him and we know we miss him.

Fiona Winning

The photograph of Benjamin Grieve by Heidrun Löhr was taken at Rosalind Crisp’s tread, Performance Space in May 2003, his final performance.

article published in RealTime -  issue #59 - Feb-March 2004 - pg. 11