Rebecca at Nitobe
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Last Saturday Rosemary and I took Rebecca and Lauren to the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia. Lauren is still at that stage where she is uncooperative for photos or she will more likely make a face. So Rebecca is still my usual subject. They ran around and Rebecca climbed as many trees as she could. I cannot believe we were not ejected. Tomorrow Rebecca and I will line up at VanDusen at 8am for the 10am opening of the annual VanDusen plant sale. I have promised Rebecca a rose bush.
Fleetwoods, Guy & The Marble Arch
Friday, April 28, 2006
At half-past six the Fleetwood purred up to the front door and I had it open when she came up the steps. She was hatless. She wore a flesh-coloured coat with the collar turned up against her platinum hair. She stood in the middle of the living-room and looked around casually. Then she slipped the coat off with a lithe movement and threw it on the davenport and sat down. 'I didn't really think you'd come,'I said. 'No. Your're the shy type. YOu knew darned well I'd come. Scotch and soda, if you have it.' 'I have it.' I brought the drinks and sat down beside her, but not close enough for it to mean anything. We touched glasses and drank. 'Would you care to go to Romanoffo for dinner?' 'And then what?' 'Where do you live?''West Los Angeles. A house on a quiet old street. It happens to belong to me. I asked you and then what, remember?' 'That would be up to you, naturally.''I thought you were a tough guy. You mean I don't have to pay for my dinner?' 'I ought to slap your face for that crack.' She laughed suddenlly and stared at me over the edge of her glass.'Consider it slapped. We had each other a bit wrong. Romanoffs could wait a while, couldn't it?''We could try West Los Angeles first.' 'Why not here?' 'I guess this will make you walk out on me. I had a dream here once, a year and a half ago. There is still a shredd of it left. I'd like to stay in charge.' She stood up quickly and grabbed her coat. I managed to help her on with it. 'I'm sorry, 'I said, "I should have told you that before. She swung around with her face close to mine, but I didn't touch her. 'Sorry that you had and dream and kept it alive? I've had dreams too, but mine died. I didn't have the courage to keep them alive.''It's not quite like that. There was a woman. She was rich. She thought she wanted to marry me. It wouldn't have worked. I'll probably never see her again. But I remember.' 'Let's go. 'she said quietly. 'And let's leave the memory in charge. I only wish I had one worth remembering.'On the way down to the Cadillac I didn't touch her either. She drove beautifully. When a woman is a really good driver she is just about perfect.
, Chapter XIII, by Raymond Chandler
I felt like part of a Raymond Chandler novel once when I went to the front desk of the Marble Arch Hotel and Guy (above), the man behind it, told me, "Alex, the young lady is waiting for you upstairs. You will not need a key." I had been attempting to do my own Helmut Newtons. Twice difficult, since not only am I not Newton, but I also don't have access to expensive Paris hotels. The Marble Arch worked out just fine.
In Praise Of A Gastropod's Good Taste
Thursday, April 27, 2006
When Aristoteles came up with the "unmovable mover" as a proof for the existence of God I would say he had probably not had a gastropod infestation in his Helenic garden. For me the snail and the slug (and the cutworm) are my proof to the contrary. Or at least that Noah was much too patient. I have always considered my taste for garden plants to be impeccable. The fact that slugs and snails love my hostas and ligularias, suggests that perhaps the devil himself has impecable taste. My mother would go into our Buenos Aires garden in the evening with a candle and scissors to control the slug population. garden. She got too close to a palm tree with her candle and the flames leapt up to the top in seconds. By the time the firemen arrived the fire was out. And the palm tree survived to see many summers more. Not too long ago my Rebecca came in with this ....in hand and said, "Papi, scan it." Unlike my mother I did not use scissors. My shoe sufficed.
Jane Jacobs & Viveca Lindfors
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
A few months back I received a request from an under 30 female lawyer I had photographed. She wanted to know if I could "fix up" the "marks" under her eyes. Fortunately for her I had taken a course in Photoshop CS and I knew all about the Patch Tool. Her marks were history in seconds.
In 1992 I got to photograph Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors (below). She was thrilled to know that I had seen her in The Adventures of Don Juan
with Errol Flynn and that I remembered her. The movie had been released in 1948 and I had seen it as a boy in 1951 at the General Paz on Cabildo in Buenos Aires. We walked together to my nearby studio from the Hotel Vancouver where she had been interviewed by John Lekich. She faced my camera and said, "Make sure every detail of my face shows. I am very proud of it." In November 1995 I received a call from writer Sean Rossiter who told me, "Jane Jacobs (above) is in town. I strongly recommend you take her picture. Let me arrange this for you, if you are interested."
The softspoken urbanologist knocked on my door and stepped in. She stood where Viveca Lindfors had stood and told me, "Don't try to soften up my face, this is who I am."
Viveca Lindfors died in October 1995 and Jane Jacobs died yesterday, April 25.
The Adventures of Don Juan
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
We moved into our present house in 1986 and we immediately noticed the regulars. One of them was this kindly gentleman we always called Russell's father as that was his dog's name. He would walk on our boulevard on the way to the park with Russell every day around 5 in the summer and earlier in winter. Russell's father always carried the leash in his hand but I never saw him attach it to his dog. In 1996 Russell died and soon after his master moved out of his house on Cartier Street. A few years later Rosemary spotted his picture in the Vancouver Sun's obituary and she said, "Look Russell's father died." When I mow the lawn on the boulevard I often think of Russell's father. What comes to mind is Mexican poet, Homero Aridjis's (right) words:
walk with us
through the back streets
the stares of children
young girls's bodies
cross through them
Weightless and vague
we travel through them
at doorways that no longer are
on bridges that are empty
with the sun on our faces
move toward transparency." Homero Aridjis - Letter From Mexico
Monday, April 24, 2006
Sunday was a work in the garden day and my roses are leafing out and already giving me the promise of blooms to come. Roses are very much like babies and cats. They don't perform on demand. So I prune them; fertilize them; spray them with copper (which I believe is allowable) to prevent some black spot and then I just hope. Few of my roses get black spot as I have chosen varieties that are resistant. Ferdinand Pichard (above, right) and Reine Victoria get the spot no matter what I do. But I will not trash them since they are too beautiful and fragrant. In May and June, when most of my roses really perform, I invite friends for tea. When they go to the guest bathroom I always wait for that slight opening of the door and the question, "Can I flush this?"
Vancouver Rose Society
The Crouching John MacLachlan Gray
Sunday, April 23, 2006
I know him as John Gray even though most know him as John MacLachlan Gray, newspaper columnist and purveyor of gritty Victorian era novels set in London. Last Friday he sat on the other side of the table at dinner at the Opus Hotel and I was reminded how he was instrumental in helping me achieve some sort of longevity in a profession (photography) that is more fleeting than permanent. I first met him in August 1982 on the set of Billy Bishop Goes to War
at the Vancouver Playhouse. I photographed him and Eric Peterson in front of a corrugated wall that was supposed to evoke a WW-I fighter plane hangar. Through the years I followed his career as a musician, composer, entertainer (with a piano he is dynamite). He has been a columnist on several local and national newspapers and made wonderful and caustic skits for CBC's The Journal
. Then he kind of disappeared and suddenly I started reading about a John MacLachlan Gray who was a novelist. The Georgia Straigh
t asked me to photograph him at his home in April 2003.
Back then (the fax era before the email era) when we all seemed to have more time I used to call John at home and we would talk. I once cried the blues to him on how my photographic career was languishing and nobody called me anymore. "Alex, he said, "disappear for a while. Crouch, is what I call it. Then come back with something completely different."
Crouching has served me well and I hope John lives long and that I am around to see what he is up to after his next crouch. Meanwhile I am going to open his novel White Stone Day
and enjoy myself.