Laura Kramer and her Baroque Cello
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Laura Kramer is my favourite Vancouver cellist. She is the only one I know that holds a doctorate in the historical performance practice of the cello from Cornell University. While she plays the modern cello very well, I like her best with her baroque instrument (no spike is one way to tell the difference). She performs in the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. Laura is very shy and quiet spoken but when she sits to play she is rock solid. I always wait for those virtuoso moments. With my eyes closed she sounds amazing. With my eyes open it seems effortless for her. And in the difficult parts she always smiles. A few years ago, a full church in West Van (including me) waited a full 45 minutes before the Pacific Baroque Orchestra could begin the concert. It seems that their rock solid cellist was stuck on the Lions Gate Bridge.
Pacific Baroque Orchestra
Tamsin and Gerry Again
Friday, February 24, 2006
Gerry Gilbert's Bicycle
Sometime in 1980 they sat at a Railway Club table one Saturday night, oblivious to a loud band playing on the stage. As I watched the pair of them, the music faded for me, too. She had this nose and the gaze - piercing for a long time, then remote almost diffused.
I had seen him a few years earlier at the Italian Cultural Centre. Gerry Gilbert had read his poetry after Allen Ginsberg's rather tedious singing and melodeon playing, and had revived all present. I spotted Gerry often, riding his Chinese bicycle downtown, and caught glimpses of Tamsin as she worked in a shopping mall restaurant.
Carole Taylor, Art Phillips and the three Russians
Thursday, February 23, 2006
This week when talking to my friend John Lekich he suggested I blog about Carole Taylor considering that she had just introduced the new Provincial budget. This would be a good excuse to post one of your many lovely portraits of that lovely woman.
When Kerrisdale hair wizard Richard Jeha was cutting my hair yesterday I had a Bill Richardson/Bunny Watson moment. I spied Jeha's three Russians conspiring in a corner. With beautifully shaped and deft hands the poker-faced Sergei cut off Paulina's folksingerish long hair while Svetlana watched the master who had represented Belaurus in recent World Cup Hairstyling Championships. In about 15 minutes Paulina emerged as a Russian femme fatale to die for.
For years I had faithfully followed a personal hairdresser who would change venues once a month. There were days when she would tell me, "I am not in the mood for cutting your hair." So I searched for a less stressful replacement. About ten yeas ago my wife Rosemary suggested, "Try Richard, if he is good enough for Art Phillips, the ex-Vancouver mayor, he should be good enough for you."
While pleasing John by posting a picture here of our Finance Minister I can satisfy my own train of thought by showing her with her husband Art Phillips. Richard Jeha and his staff (including the three Russians)are not only good enough for Art Phillips but for Canada, too! They have swept Canadian hairstyling competitions with many firsts in the last few years and they are poised to represent us in world competition.
Billy "Bud" Cowsill 1948-2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
One of the great but mostly unsung bands of the 90s in Canada may have been Vancouver's The Blue Shadows
. When I was hired to photograph them I knew three of them. Jeffrey Hatcher, Elmar Spanier and J.B. Johnson. I knew Hatcher through his connection with the Odds. Spanier and Johnson had been members of my favourite 80s pop band Maurice and the Cliches (Goodbye Mr Bond!).Taking photographs of he Blue Shadows gave me the opportunity of meeting the legendary Billy Cowsill. I instantly liked him and I will never forget his speaking voice similar to my alto saxophone playing friend Gavin Walker. In recent years I have run into J (pronounced Jay) a lot and I have marvelled at his intricate mechanical devices which he exhibits in such Vancouver galleries as Monte Clark.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
In 1992 when John Alleyne became the artistic director of Ballet BC I swear I might have seen some ballet version of the Maypole dance. I was appalled. Soon after, Alleyne would mix more contemporary stuff with classical ballet and I could see the elder patrons leave the Queen Elizabeth Theater in a tiff. But Alleyne stuck to his guns (quietly) and now we have a cutting edge modern dance company in which ballet really only exists in its name. Going to an Alleyne, Ballet BC performance is always exciting. Part of the attraction is that Ballet BC, and much of the independent dance scene of Vancouver feature new music. Alleyne has commissioned local composers to write music for many of his ballets. There are few venues for this kind of music and hearing it while watching dancers dance is a double delight.New MusicBallet on a Streetcar
Captain Schork's Intruder
Monday, February 20, 2006
It was about 10 years ago that my writer friend Sean Rossiter and I drove to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington State. We figured that an air show at a military base would be a tad more authentic than our Abbotsford Air Show. We also figured that pilots flying for fellow pilots would do more daring maneuvers. We weren't exactly right. This was a military base and safety seemed to be paramount. But the American "junk" food was specially good. Sean and I got to see two of our favourite military airplanes. One of them was the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom. Writer Bill Sweetman wrote of the Phantom, "Malevolence expressed in aluminum." I am a peaceful kind of guy but I have always been a fan of war movies and a military airplane buff. I have some internal guilt on this. But guilt goes out of the window when I can see my favourite airplane of all and this is the Grumman A-6 Intruder. An airplane that can hug the ground and evade trees at night, in any weather, while carrying a bomb load second only to Boeing's B-52, is a very special plane. Sean and I talked to pilots who told us that that A-6 was being phased out for the F/A-18 Hornet. They told us that they were going to miss the thrill of flying the Intruders and that in their opinion the Hornet was not a better plane for the job. I was able to photograph the base commander, Captain USN Schork next to one of his beloved Intruders. It was a cloudy day and the light was much like perhaps on a carrier. Captain Schork looked into my lens and when I pressed the shutter I wondered if a man who showed such equanimity was capable of letting loose the destructive power at hand.
the weight of absence
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Last night Rebecca and I went to a Ballet BC performance that marked Acacia Schachte's last before she goes to fame and fortune. For Rebecca and I the occasion marked another important one. It was in October of 2001 that both of us met choreographer Dominique Dumais. It was Dumais's (left) the weight of absence (she spells it in lower case) that Rebecca saw at age 4 and was her first full length ballet. And we saw it again last night. We enjoyed the evening but we missed the spirited presence of a former Ballet BC dancer, Sandrine Cassini(right). We only wonder what Sandrine and Dominique might be plotting together since both are now at the National Theater Mannheim. The former Paris Opera Ballet dancer is dancing there and Dominique is an Associate Artistic Director.