Andrea Stefancikova Did Not Smile
Friday, August 21, 2015
|Andrea Stefancikova, Milano Roasters, August 20 2015|
Yesterday morning I parked my Malibu in a back alley (I have municipal plates)
behind Milano Roasters on 8th
Avenue. As I walked to the street a young
woman in a red/orange skin-hugging long skirt sashayed past. She had a beauty
spot on the right hand side of her face, under the nose. I am 72. Had I been 40
I would have unfurled my matador cape and performed a veronica, ¡Óle! Alas! I am not
But I am young enough (my memory in any case) to have noticed that this woman had more
curves than the Czechoslovakian Tatra (named after the Tatra Mountains between
Slovakia and Poland). The car made in the 30s and 40s was the most beautiful
(and curvy) car ever made.
Coincidentally I had a coffee date with a Slovakian woman (who had contacted me for photographs). She was a lovely woman a
bit over 30 who was born in Bratislava. My date was at Milano Roasters. Because of my
advanced age I did not feel uncomfortable when she offered to pay for my Americano.
There are two anomalies here.
1. I grossly underexposed my photograph as I forgot to set the camera on automatic. This is something I do in bathroom selfies (Milano Roaster bathroom). I have corrected the photograph as best I could but you cannot see the beauty spot underneath the nose on the right hand side of her face.
2. Ms. Stefancikova looks very sad. During our spirited conversation she was the opposite.
Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll' August 20 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.
|Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll' August 20 2015|
If you look closely you might note that this bloom is a bit past its peak. The edges are going brown. I find a spent rose as beautiful as the glorious one before it begins to fade. This English Rose has immense perfume. Because are scent nerves seem to have a direct path to the brain my memory can remember and in late May or early June when Gertrude blooms and when I place my nose near the scent it is so familiar and warm to the soul. Because she is Gertrude Jekyll and because to me roses are female I have a problem with roses like the Gallica Charles de Mills. My guess is that in this 21st century of ambiguous, undetermined sexual persuasion it is not important at all.
Sukie- The Last To Leave Eastwick
Sunday, August 16, 2015
was the last to leave Eastwick; the afterimage of her in her nappy
suede skirt and orange hair, swinging her long legs and arms past the
glinting shopfronts, lingered on Dock Street like the cool-colored ghost
the eye retains after staring at something bright. This was years ago.
The young harbormaster with whom she had her last affair has a paunch
now, and three children, but he still remembers how she used to bite his
shoulder and say she loved to taste the salt of the sea-mist condensed
on his skin. Dock Street has been repaved and widened to accept more
traffic, and from the old horse trough to Landing Square, as it tends to
be called, all the slight zigzags in the line of the curb have been
straightened. New people move to town; some of them live in the old
Lennox mansion, which has indeed been turned into condominiums. The
tennis court has been kept up, though the perilous experiment with the
air-supported canvas canopy has not been repeated. An area has been
dredged and a dock and small marina built, as tenant inducement. The
egrets nest elsewhere. The causeway has been elevated, with culverts
every fifty yards, so it never floods — or has only so far, in the great
February blizzard of ‘78. The weather seems generally tamer in these
times; there are rarely any thunderstorms.
The Witches of Eastwick — John Updike
En Casilla Tumatae & Pauline Kael
Saturday, August 15, 2015
My mother was born in Manila so I have some smattering of Tagalog.
En casilla tumatae
(variant in casillas tumatae
) is how some Filipinos say in Tagalog, “donde el rey va solo
”(where the king goes alone). In short tagalog borrows a Spanish word for little house, casilla
, and tumatae
means to poop.
In our guest bathroom, one of the few bathrooms in our house where the toilet works I have five books.
1. Recollections of Great Gardeners – Graham Stuart Thomas
2. The World’s Worst Aircraft – From Pioneering Failures to Multimillion Dollar Disasters by Jim Winchester.
3. Dogfight – Air Combat Adversaries – Head to Head – Robert Jackson & Jim Winchester.
4. A Guide for the Curious Film Lover – The New York Times – The Best DVDs You’ve Never Seen, Just Missed or Almost Forgotten. Edited by Peter M. Nichols with Introduction by A.O. Scott
5. Pauline Kael 5001 Nights at the Movies – A Guide from A to Z
When I sit I like to leaf through the above. Last night I randomly opened by dog-eared Pauline Kael. It opened on page 506.
This is what I found:
Ruggles of Red Gap
US (1935): Comedy
92 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc
Charles Laughton starred in this justly honored version of the venerable comedy by Harry Leon Wilson. (There were two earlier versions--one in 1918, and one in 1923 with Edward Everett Horton--and a later version in 1950, called FANCY PANTS, with Bob Hope.) The Laughton film, directed in a calm, restrained style by Leo McCarey, is just about irresistible, even with its big scene--Laughton, an English valet in the Old West, reciting the Gettysburg Address in a saloon, as the camera pans across the awed faces of the cowhands. It's a bit much, but it works like magic. The cast could hardly be better: Roland Young is the Englishman who loses the valet in a poker game, Mary Boland and Charlie Ruggles are the rich American couple who win him, and ZaSu Pitts is the widow the valet courts. With Maude Eburne, Lucien Littlefield, Willie Fung, Libby Taylor, and Leila Hyams. Paramount.
As soon as I was finished I went to my computer and looked the film up in Limelight Video
. They had a copy in VHS (my machine has been operational and installed for some time now).
Today Saturday I fetched Ruggles of Red Gap and my Rosemary, daughter Lauren and my granddaughter Lauren, 13, laughed through all of it.
I explained all the above to Lauren including the reference to Tagalog. I also added that as a little boy my mother often talked about Zasu Pitts. When she did I always laughed.
My friend Mark Budgen
(a very serious man) a few years ago gave me the statistics on how many books one can read in a lifetime. He mentioned that with the fewer years we had left we had to be very choosy about the books we read as time was running out. I understand today, more than ever, how true that is. This also applies to films not seen. Making a list is much too complicated.
I think that using randomness is the best way.
Charles Laughton delivered in spades.
Sukie - Hair of Plangent Color
Friday, August 14, 2015
Sukie sprinkled powdered nutmeg on the circular glass of her hand mirror until there was nothing left of the image but the gold-freckled green eyes or, when she finally moved her head, her monkeyish and overlipsticked lips. With these lips she recited in a solemn whisper seven times the obscene and sacred prayer to Cernunnos.
Sukie undressed, first slipping off her low-heeled square
toed shoes, and then removing the hunting jacket, and then pushing the untied
suede skirt down over her hips, and then unbuttoning the silk blouse of palest beige,
the tint of an engraved invitation, and pushing down her half-slip, the pink
brown of a tea rose, and her white panties with it, and lastly uncoupling her
bra and leaning forward with extended arms so the two emptied cups fell down her
arms and into her hands, lightly; her exposed breasts swayed outward with this
motion. Sukie’s breasts were small enough to keep firm in air, rounded cones
whose tips had been dipped in a deeper pink without there being any aggressive jut
of buttonlike nipple. Her body seemed a flame, a flame of soft white fire to
Alexandra, who watched as Sukie calmly stooped to pick up her underthings up
from the floor and drop them into the chair that was like a shadow materialized
and them matter-of- factly rummaged in her big loose flapped pocketbook for
some pins to put up her hair of that pale yet plangent color called red but
that lies between apricot and the heart of yew wood. Her hair was this color
wherever it was, and her pinning gesture bared the two tufts, double in shape
like two moths alighted sideways, in her armpits. This was progressive of her,
Alexandra and Jane had not yet broken with the patriarchal command to shave
laid upon them when they were young and learning to be women. In the Biblical
desert women had been made to scrape their armpits with flint; female hair
challenged men, and Sukie as the youngest of the witches felt least obliged to
trim and temper her natural flourishing.
John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick
Thursday, August 13, 2015
In the early 70s a dearest friend and mentor, my Spanish
grandmother, María de los Dolores (Lolita) Reyes de Irureta Goyena traveled
back from Cairo to my mother’s home in Veracruz. I looked into her once lively,
happy and intelligent eyes and saw that nobody was home. It was my first
perception of dementia.
Until then my abuelita,
who was a coloratura soprano and a fine pastel artist had been my stalwart defender.
In my childhood she prevented me from getting chinelazos (spankings with
Filipino slippers) from my mother. She defended my quirks and misbehaviour by
declaring that like her I, too was an artist.
In fact until the mid 90s I never acknowledged to myself
that I was an artist, in spite of my abue’s affirmation.
Since my entry into Vancouver, via Mexico City in 1975 with my wife and two daughters I
have been a fairly successful commercial and magazine
photographer. Some 20 years ago I began to write, too. Perhaps I had inherited
the journalistic talents of my father George who worked for the Buenos Aires
Herald in the 40s and 50s.
But it wasn't until the mid 90s that I branched into photographic
art (but preventing criticism by stating that I was no artist but an efficient
technician). The bulk of this so-called art was my frequent (I started around
1977) interest in the undraped female human form. Since 1977 I have taken
hundreds if not many thousands of them.
In this age of pornography I define it as an attempt at art that is done
in bad taste. I must confess that I tried shooting pornography a few times but I was
always thwarted by good taste (not political correctness) and a built-in filter
in my head prevented me from pressing the shutter.
In the early 90s on a trip to Buenos Aires I was involved in
heated arguments with my very Argentine cousins and nephews. I asked them how a
toothpaste company could justify an ad featuring a female in a skimpy bikini. I
told them that no such ad could ever be seen in my now home of Canada. They
attacked my manhood telling me that I was “afeminado” (they used a much
stronger word that I will not place here).
When I see pictures of women (buxom or not so) posing by
Mustangs, Ferraris or by Harley Davidsons I see these as pornographic in that
they objectify women as accessories no different from side mirrors.
In my winter of life with my body not reacting to the calls
of the wild I find that my thoughts on beauty, women, the human form, not to
mention such bits as cleavage, thighs, etc are more cerebral. I think that this
cerebral (literally in my head with fond memories of below-the-belt rumblings
of a distant past) point of view is helping me take some of the most erotic
photographs of my life.
I will acknowledge that I appreciate my wife Rosemary’s
long suffering tolerance on the matter but I have to report here that another member of my
family without ever having said it out loud considers me to be a pornographer.
would often state “Nadie es profeta en su tierra.”
Years later I figured
out it came from Saint Luke, 4, 24 “Nobody is a prophet in his own land.”
Norman Baldwin, A Manhole Cover & Sean Rossiter
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
|Norman Baldwin - Water Street, circa 1984-85|
Today has been a day of coincidence. My Rosemary asked me to
explain to her what is an algorithm. She read this
in the NY Times. Coincidentally there
was in the editorial section of the NY Times this
I started with face recognition squares that appear in her
IPhone 4 and told her that soon we will be able to place a picture (any of her)
on the web, press search and all the pictures of her on the net will be
retrieved. I also told her that any day now her fridge, when she walks into the
kitchen will remind her, “Dear you are running out of skim milk. It’s time to
get some more at Shopper’s Drug Mart." Which is where Rosemary gets her milk!
And coincidentally Rosemary had no more of her skim milk so
she asked me to drive her to the Kerrisdale Shopper’s. I told her that I would
park on a loading zone (I have municipal plates) and that I would walk around
while she bought her milk.
I looked through the window of Kerrisdale Cameras. It was
empty of patrons. I moved over to Hager Books and noticed a book that at one
time I would have purchased: Sargent – Portraits of Artists and Friends. I then
sat down on a very uncomfortable bench donated in memory of a Mr. Runciman by
Hill’s of Kerrisdale.
A tall slim, man wearing semi-transparent sunglasses, arm
and arm with an elderly woman in white hair, walked by.
I got up and tapped the man on the shoulder. I asked him, “Did
you ever work for the city?” He answered, “Yes.” I then told him, I photographed you sometime
in 1984 or 1985 with your head coming out of a street man-hole cover.” He
smiled and said, “You are Alex Waterhouse-Hayward.” I now live in Curitiba,
Brazil so I am usually not in town. I am here to visit my mother.”
Norman Baldwin was my subject for a Sean Rossiter, Twelfth & Cambie column in Vancouver Magazine.
It took a while to get the city to authorize us to open the
manhole cover on what was the Woodward’s parking lot on Water Street. Because the street was one-way and most cars
turned to park I positioned my camera past the parking lot so I was (and so was
Baldwin) safe from run ins with a car bumper.
Since I noticed that Baldwin's mother was tiring I was not able to have him remind me what he did in the city and why Sean Rossiter had written about him. Why I photographed him popping out of a manhole cover will remain a mystery to me. But I do remember using my large medium format Mamiya RB-67 and that it was connected to a not that portable Norman 200-B mated to a softbox. Baldwin's 6x7 cm transparencies were filed under Baldwin, Norman.
It seems that Baldwin is the president
of the cricket club in Curitiba, Paraná State.