Fútbol & Figuritas
Sunday, July 15, 2018
As a 75 year-old Buenos Aires born man fútbol is supposed to
be in my blood.
By the time I was 8 or 9 I was playing with the circular figuritas or estampitas that featured players from the professional football clubs of Buenos
Aires and the provinces. We played a game with them. We would throw them to the
edge between the sidewalk and the house walls. The owner of the estampita’s that
was the closest to that edge would win all of them. Or we traded one of these
for four of those when the player was especially famous and valuable.
My neighbours were fans (called hinchas in Argentine
Spanish) of Club Atlético Boca Juniors and fanatically followed the loud
speeches of General Juan Domingo Perón and his wife Eva Duarte de Perón. The
radio was played loud and my father cringed.
Because we were snobs of English origin, fútbol was the
sport of the lowly masses and we followed the more “elegant” rugby particularly
since my first cousin Rollo Barber played for the Club Atlético San Isidro as still do
his cousins, nephews and grand-nephews.
But I do remember my father taking me to one Buenos Aires
classic, Club Atlético River Plate against Boca Juniors. The best part of the
match was drinking the ice cold chocolate milk Vascolet.
Once we moved to Mexico City my mother was the fútbol fan
particularly when the Argentine selección would come to town to play the
Mexican side. Invariably the Argentines would lose and they would blame the
city altitude. My mother called the Mexican sports announcers “buitres”
(vultures) as they were obviously partisan.
In the middle 60s when I was a conscript in the Argentine
Navy one of the few privileges of the uniform is that I could go to any fútbol
game for free as long as I wore my uniform. In that uniform I saw Pelé at his
best when he played for Santos.
But by the 60s the fans of the sport had deteriorated the
conditions of going to a game. Women were not to be seen anywhere. Cans and
bottles were banned so those in the upper stands would piss into paper cups
and pour the contents down on the fans below. The boundary between the standing only
cheap places and the rest of the stadium was a tall metal fence with spikes at
Going down the spiral ramp of the River Plate Stadium (the
largest) was an excruciating experience as one would walk on inches of urine.
Fans would piss on the wall.
I remember being on a colectivo (bus) on my way to the Boca
Juniors bombonera (stadium) for a River/Boca classic. From the bus I could hear
a loud roar. The game had already begun and half of the stadium was loudly
screaming at the referee, “Hijo de puta, hijo de puta!” (son of a whore).
Now in this century the previous president of Argentina to
Presidente Macri (who at one time was the director of Boca Juniors) Cristina
Kirchner, by presidential decree, banned the fans of Boca from going to River
Plate Stadium and vice versa.
What is strange is that across the charco (pond) that is the
River Plate, football matches in Uruguay are perfectly civilized.
I can now report that somehow my two daughters (both born in
Mexico City) Alexandra and Hilary are fans of fúbol and have been avidly
watching the world cup.
I cannot bear to watch the final today as Ale keeps me
posted and we are depressed that Croatia is losing. But there is one thing that
makes me smile. Somehow Ale watching the game on TV reminds me of my mother. It
would be my mother who would remind her that up to 1970 the trophy cup was
called Jules Rimet.
Marina Hasselberg - That Foolproof Muse
Saturday, July 14, 2018
As a working commercial photographer I rarely made mistakes
or had a situation where I would go back to Vancouver Magazine, and other magazines to tell them
that the big fish had gotten away. The reason is that I had two of everything
in my studio or on assignment. As a photographer I was aware of Patterson’s Law
that stipulated that Murphy was an optimist.
Now in the waning days of my life when I work in my little
Kits studio I trip over cords and have a hard time finding stuff. I keep two
flashlights so that I can look into my Mamiya lens to adjust the f-stop.
Anybody watching me in action would use that that wonderful
word shmuck to describe me.
Yesterday the indomitable and glamorous cello player
Marina Hasselberg posed for me. The reason is that I had requested her to come over as my previously good shots (see here
) were suddenly out of date as right after I took them she went for a severe Marlon Brando as a peroxide SS Officer in The Young Lions.
The idea that a musician should look calming and boring is an item of the past century. Perhaps in that past century Pinchas Zukerman changed that idea by posing in a jean jacket which is the cover of his fine rendition of Hayn's Symphony 21
Hasselberg cannot be pinned down for doing this, or that in our Vancouver musical scene. She uses a baroque cello (no end pin) a modern cello and often she plugs it in to pedals and amplifiers.
Thus I do not know of any musician in this city who has the power to inspire not only with her music but with her look and presence.
I managed (with her around it is impossible to fail) to take
many wonderful photographs until I indicated to her that I wanted to use my
ring flash. This was a total disaster as the two-prong flash cord very quickly
failed and it was impossible to make the unit flash. And I had no Plan-B. I was
disappointed. We celebrated with a spritzy ice cold Argentine rosé.
This morning I looked at all those black rectangles of
pictures that represented the ring flash failure.
But behold! I tweaked here and there and the result amply
proves that some accidents happen for good reasons.
Love & Those Fishnets
Friday, July 13, 2018
In the field of textiles, fishnet is hosiery with an open,
diamond-shaped knit; it is most often used as a material for stockings, tights,
or bodystockings. Fishnet is available in a multitude of colors, although it is
most often sported in traditional matte black. Fishnet is commonly worn on the
legs and arms by practitioners of goth and punk fashion, but is also commonly
worn by the mainstream as a fashion statement. Generally considered to be a
sexy garment, it may serve as a component of sexual fetishism. Fishnets are
used mostly as a type of undergarment, and in as much as it defines curves by
applying a grid close to the body it generally accentuates the wearer's
On Thursday, July 13, the sports section of my daily
delivered NY Times featured a large photograph of Serena Williams defeating Julia
Görges at Wimbledon. In the photograph Williams was clearly wearing fishnet
Anybody who may have been following my blog in the last few
years might know that I have a special fondness for this item of hosiery. I
have written about fishnets many times (above links).
I immediately went to Google and punched in Serena Williams,
fishnets and found this
. The latter essay explains that her fishnets
might have a health purpose.
It was in 1996 (here) that I first went to a Pacific Baroque
Orchestra concert. The cellist (I have forgotten her name) was wearing
exquisite black pumps and fishnets. It was then and there that my interest in
them became a full blown fetish!
I am happy to report that cellist Marina Hasselberg is
continuing this fine tradition with fierce enthusiasm.
A Portrait of a Lady
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
When I opened the door today for Astrid I was taken aback
not only by her very English accent but also by her quiet elegance. It struck
me that here was a lady and that I was back in that century when the word “lady”
was not seen as an insult or a deprecative and sexist epithet.
After taking one single photograph I thought of a poem by
my fave American doctor/poet.
William Carlos Williams, "Portrait of a Lady"
(first published in the Dial, August 1920)
Your thighs are appletrees
whose blossoms touch the sky.
Which sky? The sky
where Watteau hung a lady's
slipper. Your knees
are a southern breeze -- or
a gust of snow. Agh! what
sort of man was Fragonard?
-- As if that answered
anything. -- Ah, yes. Below
the knees, since the tune
drops that way, it is
one of those white summer days,
the tall grass of your ankles
flickers upon the shore --
Which shore? --
the sand clings to my lips --
Agh, petals maybe. How
should I know?
Which shore? Which shore?
-- the petals from some hidden
appletree -- Which shore?
I said petals from an appletree.
|Fragonard, “The Swing,” 1767. Oil on canvas. Wallace Collection|
That Tina Modotti Mug at MOMA - Not
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
when Rosemary and I visited New York City we bought a couple of enameled pewter
mugs at MOMA with Frida Kahlo’s image on them. They were made in Mexico. We
bought them as pasalubums (Tagalog
for gifts you buy abroad to bring back to relatives and friends) for one of our
that by now we should find other Mexican female icons with feminist views. One
I have written about is Nahui Olin. Another is Italian-born Tina Modotti. The
latter singlehandedly photographed in the 20s the murals (and sometimes
including the muralists) of Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco and David Álvaro
Siqueiros. These photographs made the Mexican muralists known to Europe and the
rest of the world.
Modotti became the lover and model of Edward Weston during his stay in Mexico
when they lived on Calle Veracruz in what is now the Colonia Roma in Mexico
City. In his diaries Weston wrote longingly and with affection of his
sentimental and photographic relationship with Modotti.
Modotti had leftist tendencies far to the left she was deported from Mexico in
1930. Somehow she turned up fighting against Franco in the Spanish Civil War
and returned to Mexico where she died in 1942 (I must find out where she is
write here on how my Argentine friends who do not speak or read English miss
out on wonderful literature that is not translated into Spanish. On the other
hand I tell my friends here in Vancouver (they have no idea of who the man is)
that I have read the complete output of Alejo Carpentier whose books I found in
Spanish at the UBC Library.
Here is an
example of a book that as far as I know has not been translated into English.
Perhaps if it ever is, I might then find some mugs with Modotti’s face on them
If you have
gotten this far then I dare reproduce here a photograph I took a year after I saw the cover of Modotti’s book. It is by
San Francisco artist Ottis Oldfield dated 1933. I was inspired but tried to put a modern twist to it.