Archive for July, 2010

I really liked Teno Kostopoulos

25 July 10: Another passing: Teno Kostopoulos, a good buddy of mine who managed my building for a number of years. During what turned out to be our final conversation, Teno told me how much he loved living here, in our building, The Vivian, and in Vancouver; how, despite his infirmities (he couldn’t walk up and down the stairs anymore), he would never retire. Teno could get cranky — the last time I woke him up because I had lost my keys and was stuck outside, he noted tartly, “Basil, this bullshit has got to stop” — but he made sure we had a friendly building. One way he did so, by the way, was by welcoming tenants who had pets. “Tenants who have pets are happier tenants,” he would say. “You come home and if your day’s been shitty, there’s your cat or dog waiting for you and you feel better already.” I will miss you dearly, Teno, and remember you happily.

John Fraser

18 July 10: My very dear friend, John Ross Fraser, died earlier this week. I loved him, as I do his wife, Monica, and two sons, Christopher and Patrick. With Monica’s help, I wrote his obituary:

“FRASER, John Ross Born June 27, 1942, in Vancouver, BC, and died July 13, 2010, at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, after a courageous struggle with tongue cancer, surrounded by his two beloved sons, Christopher and Patrick, and his wife of thirty-five very happy years, Monica. John was an esteemed exploration geologist who worked and won friends around the world. For those who worked with him, John set the highest standard of professionalism. He had a brilliant mind and a kind heart and treated everybody with warm consideration and dignity. He was a great mentor, in his industry as well as in his community. For the North Vancouver Minor Hockey Association, for more than ten years he managed teams, organized tournaments, and looked after visitors who came from other nations to complete with the locals. The family would like to thank Dr. Scott Durham of VGH and Dr. Peter Edmunds and the Peacock Group of North Vancouver for their help in this hard time. Services and a reception will be held at Boal Chapel, Saturday, July 17, 1:30 – 4:30 PM, at 1505 Lillooet Rd. in North Vancouver.In addition to his wife and sons, John is survived by his brothers Donald and Peter Fraser, their families, and his aunts and uncles and their families who live all over Canada. Another celebration of John’s life will be held by the Coast Mountain Group of Companies on September 9th in Vancouver. In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for contributions made to your local palliative care organizations or the Cancer Society.”

For the next month or so John’s friends and colleagues can sign his online guestbook here.

At his services yesterday my brother, Christopher, John’s long-time friend Tom Schroeder, and I spoke. I sure do wish I had the text of my brother’s beautiful series of profound, vivid, and spiritual vignettes, but I am sure these were composed without paper or pen, and the services weren’t recorded. My own remarks were very short, and largely taken from a piece included in a Festschrift I made, with his son Christopher, for John’s birthday last year. I needed a manuscript and something short, so that I neither wept nor fainted.

“For years John and Monica invited me into their art-filled home for their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I always came early and sat in the kitchen drinking fine Scotch, talking with them while they prepare their great Hams and Turkeys and their wonderful Finnish side-dishes. Their two sons, Chris and Patrick, then would show up, usually with spectacularly beautiful women by their sides, and with their bright and worldly wise friends. These holiday evenings always featured delightful and super smart discussion about everything. Sometimes people sang. We laughed our heads off! We typically ended these evenings with some shots of Finnish drinks made from tiny berries that provide unique hangovers. Lakka!!! I love John and Monica and these boys. Being invited into the Fraser family has been one of the most wonderful things that have ever happened to me.

“John and Monica had a great love affair – something we all aspire to, most never get. John woke up every morning thinking how lucky he was to have gotten the best girl. Monica, you woke up every morning and said the same thing to yourself, but in a lovely different language.

“John’s Coast Mountain family – Heather, Gary and Chris, and June, and so many – looked up to John, and in many ways were cut out of the same cloth. I have trusted them all with my life. And still do.”

This social media module turned out to be quite the bear …

4 July 10: I’ve been spending a fair amount of my “free time” preparing a two-day P.D. module on “social media” (not the most felicitous phrase) for faculty in Kwantlen’s Marketing Management department, which is launching its B-BAMM degree (Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing) this fall. I was honoured to be asked. I’m no expert on the topic, actually, in that I have not studied it systematically. Rather, I have long been happily immersed in certain zones of the social media-sphere: my website, Twitter-feed, Facebook groups, Tumblr and Flickr sites, and so on. Note to self: Make sure to to start with an arrogant “profession of humility.” (See post from 19 April 10.)