Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Strict Law Bids Us Dance (1975)

I am not certain if the above is all of Dennis Wheeler's film A Strict Law Bids Us Dance (1975) or an excerpt. The film I think I saw as a teenager (on a field trip below the sidewalks of Gastown) seemed longer.

Dennis Wheeler has been dead 35 years now. I never met him but I admire what he accomplished in his short life, and what he contributed to. His name still comes up in conversation.

I first knew of Dennis as the recently-deceased uncle of my high school friend Karen McKenna, who had moved with her family from Halifax in 1978 or 79. Later, in the early-80s, I came upon a poem about him by Tom Wayman, a writer who encouraged me when I was starting out.

In the early 1990s, while passing through Toronto on a reading tour, Karen, who had by then moved there and was working at TVO, introduced me to her mother's sister, Susan, who, at the time, was living in Montreal. Susan told me how unique Dennis was, how there was no one like him.

Susan moved back to Vancouver in the early 2000s. Sometimes I see her at openings and readings. Sometimes she is by herself, sometimes with her sisters Judith, Marian and occasionally Karen's mom, whose name slips my mind.

I love seeing the Penner Sisters together. There is so much life there.

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