Lady Jo Osland.
She was a tricky one. If you weren't paying attention or chose to dismiss her as a hot mess it was your loss. LJ was a pirate queen in disguise, on a secret mission from the universe to royally stir the pot. Anyone who spoke her language, loved her and was lucky to know her.
I met LJ for the first time at a party at the Sunset, but I don't remember it that way. She was my boss in the Channel Rock kitchen and I worked with her and Elvis, an intro to really knowing either of them. My first impression was she had mettle. A workhorse in the kitchen, on her feet for 12 hours straight, fuelled by red liquorice ropes and the constant loving banter with her son who worked with the same intensity cooking up dish after wicked dish. There were very clear opinions about the quality of how things should be done and she mentioned that it had something to do with being Dutch. That was one side to her.
A couple of weeks later I was at their house, looking at a bulletin board full of art and writing and wondering which one of her kids was the artist. Among the photos, I recognized a cd jacket from a Nigerian funk compilation often played in the kitchen at Channel Rock. It showed a man wearing knee-high white patent leather platform boots. It had been pinned on the board prominently. I assumed it was Elvis who put it there. Assumed wrong. It was LJ who declared it to be too cool for words.
She had a bottomless pit of love for the funk and for art and storytelling and whimsy and adventure and comics and soul music and fashion and irreverent humour and cooking and dancing and film and anything that had something interesting to say. She didn't just like these things. She did these things. She made these things. She participated. It always felt to me that she was expanding, multiplying, doing something new, never not working. Her stamina could be categorized as above average.
She was an Enfant terrible. Credential-less artist of the highest order. Mom to four of the kindest, most loving and talented humans the future of the planet could hope for. Subgenius improv master of the Situationist International. Card carrying anarchist with excellent enunciation, manners and style. Bake sale goddess of scandal. Sufi interventionist. Matriarch of Ozlandia. Liked sour keys.
Unabashedly frank, shamelessly bombastic, over the top generous, down to earth I-don't-give-a-rat's-ass what you think boat rocker. Always up for a hoopla. A frustrating and unstoppable force of nature. Both a shelter in the storm and a harbinger of it. A powerful friend and ally to all young people. A devoted friend to her inner circle.
Oozed every flavour of creativity. A lack of cash did not equal a lack of action. Her roots of resourcefulness stretched down down farther than can be measured by human hands. Five bucks could build an empire.
She delighted in the smallest details. I remember her once taking me through a labyrinth-like tour of little India in Van city, up and down aisles until we found what she was looking for. A small flat packet of edible silver leaf. A confectionary decoration. The kicker: it was wrapped in discarded newspaper marriage want ads from Mumbai. Single female, 35 year old Brahmin professional seeks CLEAN male no older than 40 years old for suitable union. Of course she made a gift of it, laughing all the way to the checkout.
Sparkle turquoise green liquid eyeliner, reading from a stack of books on her couch bed, wrapped in some big beautiful piece of fabric art thing, bangles jingling as she turned the pages, laughing out loud her gold pirate tooth glint glinting in the firelight. A benevolent kitchen witch who always wanted to know if you were hungry and would you like to stay for dinner? Never did you leave her house gift less - a bag of scones, a hand-drawn comic, a coat, some hello kitty makeup shoplifted from the London Drugs, a book of stories, it was always something.
Totally completely wild about her kids. Genuinely interested in who they were as people, she projected a deep respect and love for them. Warmth and hilarity and the smell of something cooking made hanging out at their house the best time EVER.
LJ was real and unvarnished and she didn't shy away from this messy soup of a world we live in. She dove in (naked) and swam with great courage and kept going. She had guts and zeal. For this reason (among countless others) her light shines a rapturous henna red. And it will not go out.
..And so, the pirate queen has passed over to the other side. And I wish her much beauty and wonder and love as she continues on her way. Long live the pirate queen!
Sarah B https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfQrJ9UjhY