Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jul 18 2015, Page 87

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - July 18, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE D12 D12 left turn intersection CONTINUED FROM D11 SATURDAY, JULY 18, 2015 D RUGS, drink, sex and sudden, early death. In the music world, these are considered markers of emotional authenticity and creative genius. Unless you’re a woman, in which case you’re a tragicomic train wreck, unstable and out of control, your talent destined to be overshadowed by your pathetic private life. Molly Beauchemin recently wrote about “ the gendering of martyrdom” for the online music publication Pitchfork. Looking at cultural reactions to musicians Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse — both dead at age 27 and both the subjects of recent documentaries — she concludes that tortured, self- destructive men are revered, while tortured, self- destructive women are ridiculed. ( Neither approach to their suffering is particularly helpful, but the guys at least get some respect.) Amy , an artful and deeply sad documentary- collage from filmmaker Asif Kapadia ( Senna ), attempts to reclaim the singer from the tawdry, misogynistic narrative that circled her in the last months of her life. The film, which opened this weekend in Winnipeg, goes after the tabloid media, both its producers and complicit consumers. With sequences that are hard to watch but hard to ignore, Amy asks the question: what is it about the trajectory of “ the doomed female celebrity” that makes it such inevitable clickbait? The media celebrated the sultry, seductive perfection of Winehouse’s 2006 Back to Black success. But when this rush of fame meant that her private problems were being played out in public, the tabloids and talk shows pounced on her scary skinniness ( later revealed to be the result of bulimia), her drug use and her dysfunctional relationship with her waster boyfriend. Images of Winehouse lurching down London sidewalks with smeared makeup, ratty hair and blood- soaked ballet flats soon became pop- culture punchlines. If Cobain’s struggles were taken as signs of grunge purity, a refusal to submit to the star- making machine, Winehouse’s troubles tended to be viewed as spectacular personal screwups. Basically a jazz singer who seemed surprised to find herself a pop music phenom, Winehouse didn’t slot into any of the acceptable formats for female celebrity. As the documentary demonstrates, she remained gobby, rude and loud, rolling her eyes during inane interviews, being sarcastic about Justin Timberlake. Watching Winehouse wander through the media gauntlet, an unfiltered, overexposed disaster, is disturbing but instructive. Her desperately raggedy edges make you realize the calculated, laminated nature of most music stars. Taylor Swift is the relatable ( but glamorous!) girl next door. Madonna is the mistress of mid- life control. Beyoncé is simply the queen. Even a supposed wild child such as Miley Cyrus is a prepackaged commodity, her provocations gauged to provide maximum media exposure and a few bursts of conservative pearl- clutching. In contrast, Winehouse’s sailor- on- shore- leave heedlessness was genuinely unpredictable. Miley might look like a bad girl when she’s twerking in hot pants and nipple pasties, but think how much more radical it was for Winehouse to perform in a food- stained T- shirt, spilling her lager as she worked through the lacerating, self- aware irony of her hit song Rehab. In a man, this kind of don’t- give- a- damn- ness might have been seen as anti- corporate cred, but Winehouse was branded a hot mess, caught in the unforgiving crux of female fame. Winehouse’s fans craved outrageous rock-’ n’- roll behaviour but condemned it when the singer tipped out of control. They wanted “ realness” but felt embarrassed when she exposed too much. Winehouse was just too naked and needy, her excesses too wretched and wrecked. There are scenes in Amy that you feel you shouldn’t be watching, scenes that are too painful and unprotected. Winehouse’s utter lack of boundaries — all that mascara mixed with tears — made her the tragic test- case for the damaged female celebrity in the glare of the digital age. As the film details, Winehouse grew up in the generation that started to compulsively document itself, and her career arc coincided with the new 24/ 7 tabloid media cycle, fuelled by YouTube videos and leaked iPhone pics and even a reality TV show starring her horrible hanger- on father. Filmmaker Kapadia shows how this glut of visual material was used against Winehouse, turning her into a cautionary tale of doomed female fame. Kapadia also offers the most powerful retort to these sad and limited tropes, using extensive performance footage to remind us of the depth, range and sheer joyfulness of Winehouse’s musical powers. Amy functions as a damning deconstruction of celebrity, but its central achievement is to put the music at the centre again, in a profoundly poignant reminder of why the singer and songwriter became famous in the first place. BY ALISON GILLMOR alison. gillmor@ freepress. mb. ca DOC OFFERS NEW NARRATIVE FOR SINGER AMY WINEHOUSE SEKINE WHEELS KEEP ON TURNING RICHARD DeBernardis is the president and founder of Perimeter Bicycling Association of America, a non- profit corporation that, since 1986, has raised more than $ 50 million for a variety of charities in the United States. “ And it all started with a Sekine,” says DeBernardis, 84, when he is reached at his office in Tucson, Ariz. In May 1976, DeBernardis purchased a Manitoba- made Sekine bike from a dealer in Anchorage, Alaska. He spent the next 40 days pedalling it from Anchorage to the Mexican border in California. Two years later, DeBernardis set off on a trip billed “ around the U. S. A. in 180 days.” From Sept. 10, 1978, to March 8, 1979, the Brooklyn, N. Y.- born university professor rode the circumference of the continental United States on that same Sekine bike — a feat that earned him a spot in the Guinness World Records. “ Because the bike I used ended up in the Guinness Museum in San Francisco, the Sekine company in Manitoba invited me to the manufacturing ( plant) in 1981 where they presented me with a new Sekine to use on my next adventure — a tour of the perimeter of Japan’s four main islands,” says DeBernardis. “ I truly loved both of those bicycles. I could never find another one like them, especially my first one. “ In fact, I took that Sekine bicycle out of the Guinness museum some time ago and it now hangs above my desk in my office, where I am looking at it right now.” A few weeks later, an acquaintance of Eidse’s noticed the find leaning against the wall of the married father of two’s front porch. “ Sekine, eh?” said the fellow, making out the manufacturer’s name on the bike’s down- tube. “ You know this thing was built in Manitoba, right?” “ I had no idea,” Eidse replied. Besides being a teacher, Eidse is also the founder of Eyedz Productions, an independent video production company. Through the years, Eidse repeated the tale of how he found his bike and how he discovered it was produced in this province. Almost everybody he told his story to was surprised to hear about the local connection and was curious to learn more. Eidse began to think that perhaps he hadn’t just lucked into a reliable ride that afternoon in the back lane, but also the subject of his next documentary. . . . The Sekine bicycle company was established in Japan in 1912. By the late 1960s, the firm was exporting tens of thousands of high- quality bikes to Canada; so many, in fact, that home- grown manufacturers such as Canadian Cycle & Motor Co. ( CCM) lobbied the federal government to apply the brakes to their foreign competitors, including Raleigh, Peugeot and Sekine. In 1973, prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau imposed a 25 per cent tariff on imported bicycles. Not wanting to lose its share of the Canadian market, Sekine adopted an if- you- can’t- beat-’ em, join-’ em stance. In June of that year, the corporation set up shop at a former Canadian Forces Air Base near the Manitoba town of Rivers that had been converted into a training centre for indigenous people. The Manitoba Sekine Cycles plant, a job initiative program funded by the provincial and federal governments in conjunction with the Japanese parent company and a First Nation business group, closed in 1981. During Sekine Canada’s heyday, the factory wheeled out as many as 50,000 bikes a year. . . . “ Not only is Rivers a small town, but the base was located about eight miles outside of Rivers,” says Eidse, who, in addition to poring through hundreds of newspaper articles, visited the old site, dubbed Ooza- we- kwun, as part of his research. “ Workers were flown down from reserves in northern Manitoba and were put up in this old military housing.” Eidse found out that at any one point, there were about 25 managers living in Rivers, all of whom had been transferred there from Japan. For his film, Eidse interviewed a former Sekine manager who moved to Winnipeg after the plant closed, and now lives in St. James with his Rivers- born wife. “ We talked about the culture shock of coming to Canada from Japan, and a lot about the history of the Sekine company itself,” Eidse says. “ I also spoke with some bike- shop owners about the Sekine boom in Winnipeg during the 1970s, and with a couple of guys who used to work in the factory. One of them told me he still gets a sense of pride when he spots a Sekine on the road today.” There is also an amusing bit in Eidse’s documentary, which is still in the production phase, when he approaches people attending Ciclovia, an annual bike- oriented street fest in downtown Winnipeg, and asks them if they know how to pronounce “ Sekine.” “ I just walked along Broadway with an audio recorder. I think the best one I heard was Sea King.” ( For the record, it’s pronounced seh- KEY- nay.) . . . Tim Woodcock, owner of Woodcock Cycle Works at 433 St. Mary’s Rd., was 13 years old when he got a job selling and assembling Sekine bicycles at MGM Sporting Goods on Pembina Highway — and 14 when his parents took him to Rivers to compete in a 160- kilometre road race sponsored by Sekine Canada. “ The plant really wanted to promote its top- end racing bike — the PR- 10 — so they staged a series of races to raise that particular bike’s profile,” says Woodcock, who still races bikes competitively. “ It was one of the first bikes to feature Shimano components, before Shimano became one of the most dominant parts suppliers in the industry.” Woodcock says Sekine bikes didn’t only perform well — they looked sharp, too. “ They had really neat head- badges ( on the frames), some had super nice chrome on the front fork and back chainstay, there were some really wild colours. It was just a cool, iconic brand.” Woodcock’s shop includes a large service department. During the last several years, he has noticed more and more people bringing in old Sekine bikes to have them refurbished — a trend sparked, he says, by “ bike- courier culture.” “ Most of the couriers and younger university students in town commute on super durable, singlespeed bikes we call fixies ( for fixed- gear). They don’t want to have a drive train or any gears that can wear out, so we set the bikes up so they’re good for every ( weather) condition. “ A lot of them will bring in a ( Sekine) frame they picked up at a garage sale for $ 1. Most don’t know the history of what they’ve got and when I tell them the story, they’re blown away,” Woodcock says. david. sanderson@ freepress. mb. ca RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Tim Woodcock, owner of Woodcock Cycle, in his shop with a Sekine bike from the ’ 80s. The competitive bike racer recalls taking part in a 160- km race sponsored by the company. MONGREL MEDIA A fresh- faced Amy Winehouse, looking unlike a rock star. Go to winnipegfreepress. com to see Sekine video. D_ 12_ Jul- 18- 15_ FF_ 01. indd D12 7/ 16/ 15 6: 48: 58 PM

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