Proust questionnaire 5.0: jake moore, one degree of separation, repeated many times

April 11, 2014

I don’t have to go all the way up to six degrees of separation between me and jake moore. More like one degree of separation that kept multiplying: We both, though years apart, spent summers on Lake Winnipeg. As a Winnipeg punk dabbler in the early 1980s (I went by the name “Isn’t that Richard Duguay’s sister?”), I’d marveled at her fabulous, terrifying (in fairness, everything terrified me) stage presence, fronting the band Ruggedy Annes. Later, when I was writing about television at the Winnipeg Sun, I watched the birth of a TV specialty network called WTN (Women’s Television Network, RIP) and saw her host the short-film showcase Shameless Shorts. More recently and unaware of our new proximity, I was a student and she a teacher at Studio XX in Montreal, a multimedia teaching and exhibition collective. Along the way, a growing number of Winnipeg friends, including Linda English, mentioned jake to me as a fellow Winnipegger who’d decamped to Montreal, she an artist in the fine arts world of Concordia University and me hunched over a computer in the newsroom at The Gazette. Nothing happened until Linda, visiting Montreal on a business trip, put us at the same lunch table, because, “you guys would really like each other.” A shy start pretty much exploded into friendship right then and there. So I bugged jake until she did my newly tweaked Proust Questionnaire 5.0. Here she is:

Since we are conducting this interview via email, the world is ours for the inventing. If, as I some day hope, money is no object, in what city and establishment would you like this interview to be taking place?
Sel Rrose, an oyster bar in the Bowery.

Who and what would you be wearing?
In my dreams the clothes I wish for have no brand affiliation but they are beautifully made, clean lined, exceptional materials. I am obsessed by quality of materials and construction.

And, most importantly, what would we be drinking?
If it is summer, gin, Hendrick’s with Q tonic.
If it is winter, either a deep red, or Lagavulin, neat.

Okay then. What are the qualities you most admire in others?
Vision, intellectual capability, and kindness.

What do you like most about yourself?
How I see.

My fear/self loathing. Likely the same thing.

What is your greatest achievement?
Hasn’t happened yet.

What are you working on (not to be confused with What is your job/work? Although… fill yer boots on that one if you prefer)?
Articulating just what it is that I do,
Continuing to do it.

What is your more treasured possession?
This is difficult to answer for I have many treasures, but they are not of capital value.
My Opa’s handmade flour scoop.
MOMA machine exhibition catalogue 1968.
Big blue, a sweater my mom made.

What is your present state of mind?

What is your first memory?
Being on the wrong side of the door to the basement in our house in [the Winnipeg neighbourhood of] Fort Garry and hearing my mother asking for me. I was exceptionally aware of the place I had gotten myself into, the kind of space – dark, slightly damp wood in humid Winnipeg summer, and the sound…. Spatialized and complex.
Her voice such comfort.

What was your worst job?
It might be my current one
As there is such a disconnect between its potential and its environment
Essentially anywhere you’re power doesn’t match your responsibilities

Your favourite colour?

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Warm light rain, mid afternoon, reading, he’s in the house but not necessarily right beside me, just in parallel, wine, (a very chilled sancerre), no plans for the evening.

Of misery?
When faced with overt cruelty.

If not yourself, who or what would you be?
A me with discipline and certainty.
I have no need to be other, just different.

If you could go back in time for one day, anyplace, but for just one day, when, where and with whom?
Paris, 1924, somehow I would know both Colette and Eileen Gray. Or maybe this is the answer to the last question – somehow I would be both Colette and Eileen Gray.

What is your favourite journey?
Summer, Manitoba, very, very, hot, midday heading to the water, either the pits or Whytewold.

What food, dish or meal takes you back to a special time?
Almost every one as I am cooking. Most things I cook are constructed from memories.

Name the person who influenced you most and how.
Overtly my mother Liz Moore/Elly Goring – she made me in so many ways.
But as far as someone changing you, Donald Lloyd McKinley.
 He was the studio master in the Furniture program at the School of Crafts and Design. He gave a 4 hour lecture on screwdrivers once that fascinated me.
Yes, screwdrivers. He talked about mechanical advantage, tools as an extension of the body, innovation, and nationhood all embodied in – or performed via – this everyday object. His ability to inform and expand on how our world has come to be changed my way of looking at every thing. He taught me to see that what is in front of us, is many things all together at once.

Name the film/song/book/art that influenced you most and why?
Just one? Impossible.
There have been so many and there continue to be new ones every year.
From my childhood, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew changed my world, but did so simultaneously to the Jungle Book soundtrack and Jesus Christ Superstar. I would perform special contemporary dance routines that involved the couch for especially gymnastic rolls, the fireplace used as a barre mixed with various floor routines. Anything that had a lyric I felt I could sing, was sung into this very large, blown glass, decorative brandy snifter, the kind of which was often filled with commemorative match books or a cork collection in the 70’s. That would produce the kind of reverb and resonance that made me certain I was an awesome singer.
I would pay money to have footage of any of those performances. (and there were many). I want to see and feel that joy again.

In this or any time, which real-life figure(s) do you most admire?
Virginia Woolf, Eileen Gray, every day people that make the difficult choices to stay true to what is right.

Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Franny in John Irving’s, Hotel New Hampshire.
Almost anyone written by Alyssa York in her short story collection, Any Given Power.

What fault can you most easily forgive?
Almost anything really, if one acknowledges it as a fault.
Though inflexibility is my least favourite thing.

Not forgive?
Knowing you have a fault and not working to change it seems unforgivable, though maybe it is admirable to fully embrace oneself. Though not if it involves cruelty.

What is your motto?
“There is no try, only do.”

How would you hope to die?
Quick and clean with no witnesses.

Anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to volunteer?
Not on paper, though feel free to ask me anything.

Deep dark secret?
Because I have told steve everything, I feel like I don’t have any secrets. No one else really needs to know.

Any last words?
Let’s do this in person soon, but you answer the questions : )

Admit it. You read those celebrity Q&As and you know you’re easily as worthy of being profiled. I know I do, but my friends are way more interesting. So, with nods to the “confession albums” of the late 1800s  made famous by the fabulous Marcel Proust’s answers, to French TV host Bernard Pivot who adapted the questionnaire, to Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton who gave it another spin and to Vanity Fair, which uses its own elegantly spun version to anchor the magazine’s back pages, I submit for your entertainment and enlightenment, my own version of the Proust Questionnaire, re-retooled for a blog age.


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