I talk often about the network of creative professionals I surround myself with – one of them is the incredibly talented Wendy D, a classical photographer who believes in content as much as I do. Much of the imaging on my Blog is her work (the good ones, at least).
I routinely trade labour with my core group. Yesterday I provided Wendy with camera assistant support on a photo shoot of hers for a couple of hours. I had no idea just how fascinating the photo shoot would turn out to be…
A French language school in North Vancouver was changing its name and Wendy had been hired to document the change and get the student group photo in front of the new signage.
We arrived mid-morning at the newly branded Ecolé Cousteau.
My first reaction was “Cousteau? As in JACQUES Cousteau???”
My mind raced through my limited French vocabulary to see if there was another possibility. The presence of the Vancouver Aquarium AquaVan suggested my suspicions were correct:
This school was indeed being renamed after my childhood hero.
I grew up 2600 kms from the nearest ocean in the Prairie city of Winnipeg, Manitoba in the 1970’s. Television back then was three Canadian channels in English, one in French and three American networks. Quite a change from today’s viewing choices.
Every Sunday late afternoon around supper time, my family would gather around the 26″ console television in our living room and watch The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.
Many of the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau full episodes are available on YouTube. I will refrain from linking to those directly as I believe in Intellectual Property rights and cannot verify that the poster is entitled to post them. I will however point you to The Cousteau Society’s Channel post of The Silent World Revisited.
This was an absolute world away from anything I could ever imagine. I was a small city boy, born into a family without a lot of money in the days when people were born, lived and died in Winnipeg, having seen little of the world.
I remember watching the entire hour without so much as a peep. I was transfixed by the imagery and the beautiful storytelling. You actually felt as if you knew the crew of Calypso.
I have long argued that I am not a filmmaker but that I revere the highly informative documentary news style. I often say that BBC documentaries are my “high water mark” or “gold standard”.
I had forgotten what interested me most nearly 35 years ago. I didn’t realize until yesterday just how much Jacques Cousteau and his crew on the research vessel Calypso had affected who I would become later in life.
A representative of The Cousteau Society presented the school with a piece of wood from The Calypso, mounted on a plaque.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to hold it briefly and Wendy was kind enough to take a couple of photos of me with it.
My life’s work has taken me to some pretty strange places to a child born in a small city in the prairies back in the 70’s. I’ve touched the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Oceans, The Caribbean Sea, The Bay of Bengal. But this piece of wood, located in a rebranded school in North Vancouver only a kilometre from the Pacific Ocean and a short drive from my new home in East Vancouver brought me back to those landlocked days as a child when the world was a place I never thought I’d get to explore.
I was wrong.
It has been an interesting life.
In this world of Britain’s Got This, America’s Greatest That and Celebrity The Other Thing vying for airtime alongside Real Walruses of the Hinterland and Ice Hole Diggers, are we actually generating video content that will stand the test of time? Are we telling important stories anymore?
Or will viewers on YouTube twenty years from now wonder what was so interesting about a Korean popstar riding an invisible horse and what people dancing around like the Peanuts gang suddenly had to do with Harlem.
Pop culture will always exist: I remember EVERY WORD of Vanilla Ice’s hit single Ice Ice Baby but I couldn’t watch Rob Van Winkle on that show about life being surreal. I think he was an absolute icon of the times who received some very bad career advice. But the contributions of pop stars turned reality show guests pale in comparison to those dedicated souls who have tried to leave a legacy and to leave the world a little better than they found it.
I think it might be time to pack my bags again soon and see more of this planet again.
Thanks for reading!