Dust Gathered on the Glass
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
|Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
I proudly remember changing the sparkplugs on my Mexican VW
Beatle when we were living in Burnaby in the late 70s. I would then turn the
distributor a bit to the left or right and go up a hill until it was in the
Because Mexican gasoline had so many impurities, before we
moved to Vancouver I would remove my VW’s gasoline tank and clean the sludge
with paint thinner. The sludge was there even though I had an additional gas
For many years I repaired many of my cameras and I feel that
I am not all that mechanically uninclined. All that changed in the 90s when I
started using computers. For a few years I wrote articles for the Vancouver Sun
and a garden column for Western Living using email since I did not know how to
In this March, 2019 my monitor is a Dell Cathode Ray Tube
unit and my Photoshop is 14 years old. Six years ago my Rosemary urged me to
acquire a digital camera (a Fuji X-E1). I now also have an X-E3. Whenever there
is something about my camera that is beyond my comprehension go to Jeff Gin at Leo’s for help (a good reason
buy a digital camera there if you are a Luddite as I am).
In that last century I was a good photographer because I was
“cutting edge” with film cameras and lighting systems.
In this century all that is very old hat.
That brings me to this!
My eldest daughter Ale left for Puerto Vallarta/ Guadalajara
yesterday. I sent books, films and music CDS to her godfather (and my friend
since 1961) Andrew Taylor. I vowed three years ago to no longer buy books but
get them at our excellent Vancouver Public Library.
While in Venice I found out that Donna Leon had just
published her 27th Commissario Brunetti novel, Unto Us a Son is
Given. To read it I would have to put my
name under a long list of others clamouring to read it. Then I had an idea. If
I bought it Saturday and read it on Saturday night and Sunday night I could
send it to Andrew with a smile on my face!
But there was this:
Gonzalo appeared a few times in magazines like Chi and
Gente, but as time passed, the photos grew fewer and smaller and moved further
towards the back of magazines. When Brunetti thought about the photos that
accompanied the articles, it seemed to him that Gonzalo had grown not only
older, but paler and less vibrant.
This, Brunetti knew, was what happened to people who
retired. Like photos left too long on the wall, their colours began to fade. Hair
followed life and began to grow dim, the brightness of their eyes diminished. A
strong jawline became harder to see; skin dried and grew more fragile. They
remained the same people, but they began to disappear. Certainly, others no
longer noticed them, nor what they wore nor what they said or did. They were
there, hanging suspended, washed out and considered useless, trapped behind the
glass of age. Dust gathered on the glass, and one day they weren’t there on the
wall among the other fading photos, and soon after that people began to forget
what they looked like or what they said.
‘Oh how very clever you are,’ Brunetti said to himself.
Edith Iglauer - March 10, 1917 – February 13, 2019
Monday, March 18, 2019
On February 12, Edith Iglauer died. Obituaries appeared in
BC Bookworld and the Globe & Mail.
Since I spend upwards of $1600 per year on my NY Times
subscription I am not subscribed to the Globe&Mail in spite of the fact
that my Times is delivered by the Globe folks. The Globe has an insurmountable
pay wall so I was not aware of her death until I read the fine obituary in
today’s (March 18, 2019) New York Times.
While it is understandable that our Vancouver Sun is
moribund (who will write their obituary when it finally succumbs?) I have not
been able to find any indication in that newspaper (I am subscribed) that this
great American writer is dead.
But I feel no anger. If anything I feel lucky to have had
the pleasure of working for magazines (in the example here, Western Living) who
gave me access and connections to so many great people, mostly who because I am
about to be 77, are all but gone.
I can still find pleasure in being able to spot Jay
Hamburger (one of Eglauer’s two sons) at the theatre or at a restaurant and to
be able to loudly exclaim, “Hamburger!”
The last time I saw Iglauer it was at Arthur Erickson’s
garden home. She had that patrician (to me) gray hair and that charm that I so
When I scanned this Western Living frontspiece today I
became aware of something I had forgotten. If Eglauer looks so special it is
because for many years my editorial secret weapon was makeup artist Inga
Carlo - the soon-to-be- famous Florentine Tenor
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
In the past when my Rosemary and I traveled abroad we always
had our granddaughter Rebecca in tow. This time around she refused to budge
from her home in Burnaby. Alas! How would I be able to
take photographs in
Venice or in Florence that would be different from the norm?
I found a beautiful young Venetian woman with blue hair who
was going to pose for me. At the last moment she cancelled and I was in Venice
with an efficient portable studio light and no subject to photograph. This to
my dismay did not last long as I photographed my friend, period cellist Claudio
Ronco and his wife Emanuela Vozza with that light by a canal right outside
their home. In a soon-to-be blog I will write about them.
In Florence chance brought us in contact with a handsome
rickshaw (electrically assisted) driver. A few days later, and after a haircut
and with his sunglasses he greeted us and I did not recognize him.
I knew that
this was an opportunity that I had to take advantage of. Carlo Eugenio Raffaelli (born in Edinburgh,
Scotland) was a too good of a subject to ignore. I asked him about his plans
and it seems he is studying to be a an opera singer at the Conservatorio di musica Luigi Cherubini. He is a tenor. He was willing to pose for me to get a free headshot!
He came to our hotel room (I thought the drapery would make
a good background) and he posed. The chair photos you see here involve a
purposeful camera failure where I drastically underexpose my Fuji X-E3 and use
a magical f-stop, 7.1.
While I was taking his photographs I was nagged by a memory.
When we got back to Vancouver and only a few hours ago I figured he had a
passing remsemblance to Austrian actor (The Red Shoes) Anton Walbrook.
I have a feeling that I have photographed a future excellent
, soon-to-be-famous tenor!
The Two of Me in Dishonour
Consider the following varied facts:
Rosemary and I went to the UBC Downtown Campus last night, (a moribund
kind of place as UBC has virtually killed the once popular city centre).
We were in the now UBC Theatre (once part of what was called
the Robson Square Media Centre). Few in the jam-packed audience might have
connected the comfortable theatre to its builder, Arthur Erickson.
We saw a film, Dishonour, directed by Terry Turner and produced by his
twin brother Timothy Turner.
How could a film (a short one) about Female Genital
Mutilation (FGM) have been a delightful one in spite of its horrific (sonic)
Rosemary was reluctant to go when I told her the subject of
At the gathering I ran into the Turners’ older brother Rob Turner.
I did not ask him what most people ask me when they meet up with me after years
of not having seen me, “Are you still…?
” Why is it, I asked him that lawyers are never asked, "Are you still lawyering?"
|Terrence Turner, Timothy Turner, Chris Bowell and Rob Turner at Circle Productions, circa 1987|
The fact is that the Turners represent a talented bench (and
active one) of persistent talent in a city where people (and talent) disappear
from one day to the next.
It may have been sometime around 1986 that I first rant into
the Turner twins. They were elegantly dressed and they had the then just
discovered CBC radio personality Vicki Gabereau.
|Vicki Gabereau at the Culch circa 1986|
Shortly after I went to
Editor Malcolm Parry and told him, “I want to do a picture
story about twins and I want my family doctor Elliot Mintz to write it
answer was an efficient, “Do it
From that first instance of the twins posing for my
photograph, they have persisted in our city as a fountain of talent that
continues. Rob Turner’s company (videos and commercials) Circle Productions
also perseveres and is doing just fine, thank you.
I would have never suspected that when Tim Turner called me
early last year to enquire about lighting that he was doing this for this film
(must I say a “cutting edge” film? Must I say a “sensitive and important film?”).
The Turner’s, in order to make this film, decided on one
actor who would play all the 6 parts in a darkened studio with one light and
three props, an on-air sign, a pair of glasses and a child’s doll. Searching
for that one actor took them from Vancouver, to Montreal and finally to London
where the 61st of 67 persons who came to the casting session was Mimi
Ndiwen. She is formidable.
It is not always that I see my Rosemary smile. This she did
last night. She thoroughly enjoyed the evening even though the ending of
Dishonour is one that we will surely not forget for a long time. Amazingly (in
a horrible sort of way) FGM not only affects 200 million children around the
world but it is also happening in our own Canada and here in Vancouver.
It is our obligation to somehow remove this tradition
(mostly one to keep women as virgins in preparation for giving pleasure to men)
and replace it with another.
After arriving home I perused my NY Times and found this
Who would have known that there are other forms of surgical procedures that
affect the rights of women?
Where to start? Tell people about this film.
I cannot dance upon my Toes
Monday, March 11, 2019
On Sunday March 10th my Rosemary and I attended
the Arts Umbrella Dance Company’s There and Back Again – Travel through the
history of ballet at the Scotia Bank Dance Centre.
The principal reason why we went was to see our
granddaughter Lauren Stewart, 16, dance the first part of the program. We
stayed, as anything having to do with the Arts Umbrella Dance Company will
always be refreshing and thrilling.
In a later blog I will post the photographs that I took of
the dance involving our granddaughter and the rest of the program.
During my long career as a magazine photographer I had the
obligation to deliver photographs that went hand in hand with the copy of the
essay or magazine article. As an obsolete, redundant & retired kind of guy I
can now do stuff in which if I fail I will not have to answer to anyone.
So this blog and the photographs are all about the feet and
legs of dance. Without them there cannot be any dance. That is not quite true
as I have in the past witnessed modern dance performed on wheel chairs! Some years back Max Wyman, the almost retired renaissance man and former dance critic and I worked on a photo essay about dancer's shoes for the Vancouver Sun
. A blog that is similar is here.
This lovely poem by Emily Dickinson is the reason for the blog's title.
I cannot dance upon my Toes - Emily Dickinson
I cannot dance upon my Toes—
No Man instructed me—
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,
That had I Ballet knowledge—
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe—
Or lay a Prima, mad,
And though I had no Gown of Gauze—
No Ringlet, to my Hair,
Nor hopped to Audiences—like Birds,
One Claw upon the Air,
Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,
Nor rolled on wheels of snow
Till I was out of sight, in sound,
The House encore me so—
Nor any know I know the Art
Nor any Placard boast me—
It's full as Opera—