The Ghost of Simon Snotface At The Newly Renovated York Theatre
Saturday, December 07, 2013
|Friday night - Simon Snotface at the York circa 1978|
The scene in George Pal’s 1960 The Time
Machine where our time traveler (H. George Wells) sits in a marvelous Victorian
contraption and travels into the future has always been imbedded in my brain. In
the special effects of the time, the machine is surrounded by rapid flickering,
an appearing and a disappearance of trees, mountains, building, and an orange
glow that represents WWI. It would seem that those events occupied the same
place in physical time.
I feel the same as I drive through downtown
Vancouver and see Pier BC, as
a ghost of my imagination when I glimpse at Canada Place. Whatever is at Davie and Richards is for
me only the old offices of Vancouver Magazine. I feel much like Wells sitting
on my machine and recognizing the place for what it was and not for what it is.
It was with all that circulating in my confused
mind that I attended with my Rosemary the premiere of Charles Demers’s Jack & the Beanstalk: An East Van Panto (directed
by Amiel Gladstone and with music by Veda Hille) at the newly renovated (saved
is more like it!) York Theatre, on Commercial
Drive this past Friday.
|Firday night - Victoria Drive circa 1978|
The event brought to mind another Friday night sometime
around 1978 when I attended a punk concert at the York after having taken some
pictures of inhabitants of the punk quarters, a row of houses at the almost end of Victoria Drive, near East
Hastings. Former occupants were Art Bergmann and John Armstrong, aka Buck Cherry of the Modernettes.
Of the York Theatre I have two memories
that are indelible. One is of Art Bergmann sitting on the balcony of the York, his face in delight
while listening to The Scissors on stage singing his favourite punk song,
Wrecked My Car. The other one is of the Simon Snotface (with what
looked like a used Tampax hanging from one of the buttons of his black leather
jacket) in the lobby and standing by the most horribly
tacky wallpaper in Vancouver, the wallpaper of the York Theatre. It had a
passing resemblance to the one of the Commodore Ballroom of the time.
|Friday night - Victoria Drive circa 1978|
I am happy to report that the lobby of the
newly renovated York Theatre is not as tacky although while standing by the
brilliant blue tiled walls I told Malcolm Parry, “I feel like turning around
and having a piss. This wall resembles an airport bathroom.” Parry with a smile
on his face (the room was a din of people) answered, “You think I can hear what
you are saying but I can’t.” And I left it at that.
While I have known that C12-H22-O11 is the
formula for sugar and that U.S. Grant’s horse was called Cincinnati, I had no knowledge of what a
panto was. My head is full of useless facts surrounded by vacant holes of
Furthermore I did not know that the
Christmas pantomime was an English tradition in which a fairy tale was modified
and that di rigueur the play would have a man dressed as a woman and sometimes
a woman playing a man.
While I enjoyed all the goings on of the
co-production by The Cultch & Theatre Replacement, my pleasure was
increased only after I filled in the blanks of knowledge on what a panto really
was. I finally “got it”.
Of the production three things stood out.
One was that Allan Zinyk was so good as a woman that he could easily have sat
on Wells’s time machine and gone back in time to the 70s to work in the
original Hamburger Mary’s on Davie.
Two, Dawn Patten who can indeed carry a
tune and even play an instrument as she proved in the 2011 Arts Club Theatre
production of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad , sang wonderfully (if painfully)
out of tune while Veda Hille played her harp (for her) and the Cheese Song (I
could not find it in the program) was perhaps one of the few songs I have ever
heard in which almost no word (the name of a cheese) was ever repeated except
for a few at the end.
Third, the presence of the Cultch Executive
Director, Heather Redfern in a dress, very tight and very short, and stockings
with little black points that tickled the edge of the dress where it attempted
to hide, not too well, some nicely shaped thighs, shocked me, ever so nicely
and my delight was increased when I found out that Redfern is credited for the
costume design of the play.
Seeing Redferns's two-woman cow, Dawn Petten and
Patti Allan, is worth the price of admission for this hilarious play which
should be more so if you brush up on that very English Christmas panto
New York Interior
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
For years I have been an admirer of the
paintings of American Edward Hopper. I have been attracted to Hopper’s subtle
(but perhaps not) portrayal of our personal isolation (perhaps alienation is a
better word). Today I took this photograph of my friend Bronwen Marsden for a
project in which she is a woman out of a Raymond Chandler novel. But when I
saw the picture I knew I had an image that would go hand in hand with my
favourite Hopper, New York Interior.
Edward Hopper, New York Interior, c.
1921. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 × 29 1/4 in. (61.6 × 74.3 cm). Whitney Museum of
American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1200
© Heirs of Josephine
N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Pantera tigris 'Canuckus' & Ursus arctos
Monday, December 02, 2013
I photographed Vancouver Canucks player
Tiger Williams in his home in 1994 for Equity Magazine. The art director, Chris
Dahl liked the photograph so much that he put the b+w version on the cover. I never
bothered to do anything with the colour transparency until I saw my friend, Ian
Bateson’s artwork of a bear skull he photographed on a recent trip to Alaska. This is a work where he starts with the photographic image which
he then works on with an iPad application made famous by David Hockney called
Procreate. I decided to combine Bateson’s image with mine. I like it lots.
A Ballerina, The Répétiteur & Snow White
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Saturday Rosemary and I went to Granville Island’s Arts Umbrella for an open house
on our granddaughter Lauren’s ballet and modern dance classes.
No matter how many times, through the years
that I have gone to this sort of thing (we went for Rebecca’s classes until she
lost interest) I always leave with the certainty that there is no better dance
school in Vancouver
than the Arts Umbrella Dance Program run by Artemis Gordon.
A few people understand that many of the
graduates of the program have gone to some of the best ballet companies around
the world, not to mention our very own Ballet
BC. In fact Ballet
BC has an impressively long bench of stars
that I liken to a bench that runs the span from Granville and Davie (where the Vancouver Dance Centre is
located) all the way to Granville Island.
I particularly enjoyed today’s classes
because of the program’s répétiteur, Robert, who jazzed up (most skillfully)
Christmas carols or simply played beautiful jazz standards to accompany the
dancers. Lauren’s ballet instructor, Margaret Reader-Martin teaches with an
accurate and insisting style that she softens with most personal corrections. Lauren’s
modern dance teacher, London-born Claudia Segovia, gives her students lots of
room to create and innovate their own ideas. I find that these two teachers
become a fine balance of discipline with a let-loose policy that gives the
dancers lots of confidence.
Of particular note for me is the efficient
performance of my very own Fuji X-E1 digital camera which seems to take lovely
window portraits with a soft texture that I am warming up to.
Our afternoon after the dance was an
afternoon at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library. We went home with
a pile of Film DVDs and books.
After a dinner of barbecued vegetables and
flank steak with little potatoes baked in the oven with Parmesan cheese and
olive oil we retired to the den and watched Blancanieves which is a 2012
Spanish black-and-white silent fantasy drama film written and directed by Pablo
Berger. Since this circa 1920s Snow
White protagonist becomes a bull fighter (of the female kind) it gave me the
opportunity to explain to Lauren that bullfighting is not a sport but an art
form similar to ballet. The bullfighter (who most often kills the bull and the
bull most often does not reciprocate) has to be graceful in the path of danger.
How he (or she) twirls the cape or the muleta (a squarish cape held in place by
a sword) is poetry in motion even though Spaniards and most that are fans of
the art know that the bull does not have a chance.
Lauren did not question my explanation even
though I suspect she might in a few years. In Mexico City as a teenager and a young man I
often went to the bullfights and saw some of the best. I have no idea how I
would react to one now.
The film was enjoyable. I took a happy
mother and daughter home (the other daughter now works on Saturday evenings).
Looking back at the day I can consider it a
success. But I will have to come up with a very good encore for next Saturday’s
after dinner film.
Zephiro - Uccellini, Merula, Corelli, Frescobaldi, Marini & Enzo Ferrari
Saturday, November 30, 2013
On Thursday night I braved a chronic cough
(kept at bay with lemon-flavoured Fishermen’s Friends) to attend the inaugural performance
brand new small baroque group, Zephiro. The concert was held at the intimate
room of the museum of the Vancouver Italian Cultural Institute on Slocan Street. Since
I was on a budget I did not dine at La Piazza Dario Ristorante before the
concert as my friends the Bakers did.
|Zephiro, from left Michael Jarvis, Paul Luchkow, Arthur Neele , Natalie Mackie & an Enzo Ferrari|
ZEPHYROS (or Zephyrus) was the god of the west
wind, one of the four directional Anemoi (Wind-Gods). He was also the god of
spring, husband of Khloris (Greenery), and father of Karpos (Fruit).
Ζεφυρος (Greek) - Zephyros
(transliteration) - Zephyrus, Favonius (Latin name) - West Wind (translation into English).
Museum Collection: Museum of Fine Arts,
Catalogue No.: Boston
Beazley Archive No.:
Ware: Attic Red Figure
Painter: Signed by
Date: ca 490 - 480 BC
Period: Late Archaic
representing either Zephyros, the winged god of the west wind, holding his
lover Hyakinthos in a close embrace; or an allegorical depiction of Love (Eros)
desiring and seizing the beauty of youth.
The group Zephiro is made up of Paul
Luchkow and Arthur Neele on baroque violins, Natalie Mackie, viola da gamba and
Michael Jarvis on harpsichord.
I know and I am friends with all but the
new member, the Dutch gentleman Arthur Neele who is a compact violinist with
a catchy smile and has an imposing knowledge of musical history especially of the
I sat front row and the performers where a
mere two meters away. It doesn’t take too much imagination to make believe that
Zephiro was playing just for me inside my living room and that I was an Italian count. This is baroque music at
its most intimate which seems to be something almost unique to our city and
which thankfully for me (but not for the financially under-rewarded baroque
musicians of Vancouver) gives me the privilege of sitting close and knowing the
musicians and best of all I can leave my binoculars at home.
The concert featured Italian composers of
the 18th century but also quite a few who where at their best in the
earlier 17th century. I am no music expert but I can tell you that
the music of the 17th century was not as set down to ready rules as
that of the 18th century. These composers of what some call the
Fantastic Period experimented with the use of odd/dissonant notes (I waited and
was not disappointed with the last work of the first part of the concert, Biagio
Marini’s (1594-1663) Sonata #13 “Senza Cadenza”. On of my baroque friends,
virtuoso violinst Marc Destrubé
calls them blue notes. There were plenty of these in Marini.
The first part also featured
a harpsichord solo. I used to hate the instrument as a solo instrument, but
thanks to Michael Jarvis and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra’s Alexander Weimann I am warming up to it quickly. The second part had a lovely Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) Canzona for solo bass but played by both Jarvis and Mackie,.The last time I had heard Frescobaldi played in a concert was back in Mexico City in 1963.
Anybody who loves the
baroque will always anticipate with pleasure any music of Arcangelo Corelli. There were
two sonatas featured on Thursday night. The first, Sonata IV Opus 4 was, for me just a warm-up
preparation for the one moment of the night and this was Sonata III Opus 5 for
violin and continuo. I am sure that soloist Paul Luchkow must have spent lots
of money on baby sitters for his two young sons (or bribed his viola-playing
wife) to practice this most beautiful (and most difficult, but then what would
I know?) of all of Corelli’s sonatas.
If that was not enough
to please me for a long time Zephiro finished with a Ciaccona by one of the few
Italian composers whose surname does not end in, Tarquinio Merula (1594-1665).
|The Oxford Junior Companion to Music|
While I am no music
expert I know a bass ground when I hear one. My fave used to be (until Thursday
night, that is) the very famous La Folia made justly famous in by Corelli in his
Opus 5 Sonata No. 12 in D minor “La Folia”. I have written in these parts
before that La Folia was sort of the 17th and 18th century’s
version of Richard Berry’s Louie Louie. Everybody and his mother (but not Corelli’s)
wrote some sort of variation or version.
Tarquino Merula’s Ciaccona,
a true ground (see picture above), blew me away in Zephiro’s version. In spite of my virtuoso clapping
the group did not come back to play it again.
This was unfortunate as
I had the melody in my head all the way home. I told my wife that I was going to
see if I could find it in YouTube. I told her the chances were slim.
I was wrong. There have to be more than 20 versions played by small groups, large
groups, with pizzicato violin, with mandolins, with a trumpet, with recorders. There
are perhaps more versions of this lovely ground than those of Joaquín Rodrigo’s
Concierto de Aranjuez (including the one by Miles Davis). But then I did not
take my chances to count all the Louie Louies or La Folia.
There is still time
for anybody who just might be moved by my enthusiasm to catch this group this
Le Marché St.
4393 St. George at the corner of East
Meanwhile for anybody who wants to spend the rest of the night, as I am, listening to various versions of Merula's Ciaconna here are a few:
Art Bergmann - A Legend Right Now
Friday, November 29, 2013
In 1977 when I was 34 years old I would put
on a black leather jacket (purchased in un-hip Sears) and the rest of my
outfit, Big John boots, T-shirt and jeans were all black. Then with a Pentax MX
loaded with Kodak Technical Pan film and three lenses, a 120, a 50 and and a 28
I would head to the Commodore Ballroom or such places as Japan Hall, Russian
Hall, Wise Hall and a few more places that are long gone like the Smiling
Buddha. In these venues (most were joints) I would take pictures while my buddy
and Vancouver Magazine rock critic (In One Ear) Les Wiseman would listen,
discern as only he could.
In short order, Wiseman, with an ear that was highfalutin and snobbish, taught me, like the good music critic that he was, to
appreciate rock music at its best. He could quickly separate the wheat from the chaff,
are going to insist on listening to heavy metal make sure it’s Motörhead. Lou
Reed is God. I am proud to never have gone to a concert by Images in Vogue.”
some concerts where our interest was in the warm-up band we would leave right
after to ovoid the uncool headliners.
When most music critics of the conventional
media of the time (and still conventional as it fades away) were avoiding punk
concerts, proclaiming that they were violent and dangerous we went to as many
as we could.
I will never forget that first time I ever
heard and saw Art Bergmann (1977) fronting his K-Tels (later the Young
Canadians) at the Smiling Buddha. As soon as I could I found a corner in the
place to put down my camera so I could pogo (jump) with all the rest that were
there. What must be funny in retrospect was that I was the only one (dressed in
black) with an expensive briar pipe in my mouth!
Since 1977, while I am not a music critic,
but I have been taught by the best, Les Wiseman, I can state here that I know a
bit about music.
In those early years Art Bergman and his
band, the Young Canadians was one of the tightest (if not the tightest) three
piece band in Canada.
Yes they were a punk band in the beginning. But from there they progressed to a
minimal (and tight) music machine that played songs (composed by Bergman and
bassist Jim Bescott) that had unusually smart lyrics attached to guitar riffs
|Jim Carroll - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
In later bands Art Bergmann, who had some
addictions from hell, navigated this self-made hell in an almost auto destruct mode
so that his career when it was almost at the top (this happened many times) would
plunge by a simple insult, from Bergmann, to a record exec or business
His music was not the raw punk music of the
Subhumans or D.O.A. variety. It had strong melody and lyrics that someone only
like Jim Carroll of the Jim Carroll Band could possibly be compared with. And then
there is the humour, the bittersweet humour of Bergmann’s lyrics from one of my
Roulette + Design Flaw
Yes I know
What I've done
And I know
That it's wrong
Cuz I talked
To your mom
We watched you
All night long
I put a pillow
Under your head
Laid down some rags
Friends sent cards
Said they hoped
You got well
From your hospital bed
To my padded cell
There's not one thing
This is heaven and
We'll get together
Learn how to relax
We'll get together
And have a relapse
I watch you sleep
In your tubes
They kept your face
Would it seem
If I pull the plug
On your dream machine
Would I be
Or would we
How I wish
How to live
How I wish
How to live
Copyright © 2013
Theodore Stinks & Dr. Applefritter - All Rights Reserved.
Art Bergmann may be a
legendary punk, but I would amend that as a legendary former punk who was born February
8, 1953 he is much more than that. Now 60, Bergmann is a legendary singer,
guitar player, songwriter who does all that with passion (now) and is backed by
a band, Kevin Lucks, bass, Stephen Drake, guitar and Adam Drake, drums that for
me has moments of the K-Tels at the
Smiling Buddha, with only one difference they are now better.
Those lucky enough to
be present at tonight’s show featuring Art Bergmann and his band at the Pawnshop
should count their blessings. The former legendary punk has grown up.
Not Fading Away Gracefully
Thursday, November 28, 2013
In 1951 General Douglas MacArthur in a
farewell speech said:
I am closing my 52 years of military
service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was
the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over
many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and
dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the
most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that
"old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
And like the old soldier of that ballad, I
now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do
his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.
In many ways I think this also applies to
old photographers like this one. And the comparison seems to fit photographers
even better. We fade like a badly fixed photograph. They usually yellow and
develop spots and ultimately they are gone.
But like MacArthur, we might fade away,
slowly enough to make a bang here and there.
At age 71 I believe I am taking the best
photographs of my life. My film based photographs cannot be retro because I am
using film in a contemporary way. I make do with the best of two worlds by combining
my slides, transparencies, negatives and darkroom printed b+ws with my Epson
Perfection V700 Photo scanner. And on the rare occasion that the scanner will
not do I go to DISC Imaging in Vancouver
and Grant Simmons will expertly drum scan my stuff.
Working with both these worlds means that
while I can print beautiful 16x20 prints on very good photographic paper I can
also use digital files of my 6x7 cm transparencies (slides) to have DISC print
giclées that surpass even light jet prints (digital files projected on
photographic colour paper with a laser enlarger)in detail particularly in the
shadows. Until now conventional colour film (both negative and slide) had
awesome shadow detail that was limited in that they had to be printed in the
photographic products of their time.
But all the above does not mean I have
eschewed the use of digital camera. I have recently purchased a Fuji X-E1and I
am learning how to use it without allowing me to have it tell me what to do! This
camera has an available adaptor (which I purchased) which enables me to use all
my old style (non autofocusing) Nikon lenses. Until I can figure out this
camera’s eccentricities I use it just the way I use all my film cameras, with
an accurate Minolta flash/exposure meter.
Today, I was able to see my latest cover
for an arts weekly in Edmonton,
Alberta. I am particularly pleased
by the look that the designer gave to my photograph. This is, he did nothing to
it and kept it clean. In this age this is amazing.
For those who may be curious on how I
photographed singer/songwriter Art Bergmann here are the facts. I photographed
him in my studio (I had one then) in March 2009. I used a Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD and a 90mm lens. My
film was Ilford FP-4 which I rated at 100 ISO. I processed the film in Kodak
HC-110 dilution B.
For light I used a Profoto ring flash
modified to be plugged into a venerable (I purchased it in 1979) Norman 200B. I purposely
mounted my camera crooked within the hole of the ring flash so that the lens
would see the edge.