A Fading William Shakespeare
Saturday, July 01, 2006
For two days the subject here has been death and the celebration of life. Today I will celebrate death, the slow fading kind. With some roses, particularly with old gallicas. this fading is most beautiful with the crimson and crimson/red ones. As they age they go purple and sometimes they bleach into metalic gray. Rosa
'William Shakespeare' is an English Rose that was introduced by Shropshire rose man David Austin in 1987. For most, this gallica type (unlike gallicas it repeat blooms) was a poor performer and disease prone. In the year 2000 Austin introduced an improved but odd-named Rosa
'Shakespeare 2000' and took the 1987 version out of the market. In my garden the original William Shakespeare is a terrific survivor and is one of Rebecca's favourites because of its sweet old rose perfume and its startling rich crimson colour. The blooms persist and the petals seem to be almost indestructible. Here is proof that in fading, William Shakespeare is more than Gertrude Stein's, "A rose is a rose is a rose."
Cirque du Soleil, Rebbeca & A Handsome Young Man
Friday, June 30, 2006
Wednesday I went to the Cirque du Soleil with Rebecca. We parked far and walked. It was a warm evening so it was a pleasant stroll through a neigbourhood that thanks to Concord Pacific is transforming the area. I played the game of telling Rebecca that we would leave at the intermission because I was bored. She didn't buy it. We both had a good time and walking back we passed ex mayor Philip Owen on Pacific Boulevard. Across the street I spotted what at one time was the headquarters of the Vancouver Indy. I remembered taking portraits there of a gracious and handsome young man, Greg Moore who posed for me in his brand new Mercedes SLK 230. That was in June 1998. Moore died the next year. I looked at the empty parking lot where Moore's car had been parked and I held tight to Rebecca's hand and walked on.
Elizabeth Aird & Her Fishnets
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Today I read John Mackie's obituary. Sun reporter and columnist Elizabeth Aird is dead at 50. Of her, editor-in-chief Patricia Graham says,"Elizabeth was quick-witted and clever. Often frustrating but always endearing, she was a marvellous writer who had a sweet nature but wrote with the stong voice of a truly independent thinker."
I don't know of anybody who would find fault with that. I would only add that Elizabeth was the sexiest reporter that ever worked for the Vancouver Sun
. Not only that, she had the finest legs, too! One of reporter John Armstrong's first pieces for the Sun, in the middle 90s, was one on the vintage furniture store on West Pender (now gone) Metropolitan Home. To illustrate the article Armstrong convinced Aird to pose in fishnets on a swank lounge chair. That photograph refreshed my libido for weeks.
It was at the end of March 2000 that I received a phone call from Jim Sutherland, then editor of the Vancouver Sun's Saturday magazine, Mix
. He had written an essay in defence of Vancouver Magazine's
annual restaurant awards. He wanted me to take a picture to illustrate the concept of an anonymus restaurant critic. I thought I heard wrong when he told me that Elizabeth Aird had volunteered for the shot. I asked him to repeat that. When I showed up at the Sun newsroom Aird looked at me and told me, "I only found out about this this morning. There is no time to buy fishnets." I could only stare at her black stockings and pumps as we went downstairs to Aqua Riva.
Sometimes my filing system works and sometimes not. I found Elizabeth's picture and article under Restaurant Critic
but there were no slides or negs in the folder. But this will do even though I recall that the racier ones were vetted by the Sun photo editor. If anything (if you notice she is writing in a notepad under the table) this picture to me conveys Aird's joy for life.
The Editor-In-Chief & The Articulated Bus
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
A couple of thrilling things happened to me yesterday. One of them was in a B-Line 98, articulated bus. When I got on Homer and Davie on my way home, I spotted a handsome Japanese woman with gray hair. I removed my sun glasses and stared at her. Then she remembered the connection and said, "Ramona." I had photographed her and composer director Ramona Luengen for the Straight as a preview to the young person's opera Naomi's Road
based on Joy Kogawa's (the woman on the bus) experience with her family in a Canadian internment camp during WW II. The opera was comissioned by the Vancouver Opera and it was a smash hit last year. I had met Kogawa socially before so I used the opportunity to chat with her and entertain myself on my way home. I brought up the subject of being typecast (to my wife's perennial distaste I am known by many in Vancouver to only photograph the opposite sex sans clothing even though in my past I did once specialize on sewing machines) and how it affected her. She told me she was trying to do this in a current book project. I told her about writer/artist Michael Kluckner who specializes in documenting historical locations and heritage structures in British Columbia through his watercolour paintings. He also provides historical background context. His latest book Vanishing V
ancouver was very well received. Rosemary and I visited Kluckner and his wife rosarian and author Christine Allen in their Langley rose farm, Killara Farm on Sunday. They have sold it (and the sheep, the ducks and the geese) and all of Christine's old roses. They are moving to Australia. Both Kagawa (when I told her) and I understand their motive. They want to start somewhere where they are unknown. Kluckner wants to paint with oil and go abstract. He believes that he could not go to a Vancouver gallery and have his oil work judged objectively. As heart wrenching as it might be to leave their beautiful farm they are young enough to enjoy the thrill of change and adventure. "I want to go to an Australian gallery and have my work rejected (or accepted)without them knowing who I am," he told me as we sipped lemonade under an oak tree. I wonder what Kogawa has in mind and what her next book will be?
And something else happened yesterday that thrilled me, too. There is nothing like going through the length of the Vancouver Sun newsroom with the Editor-in-Chief, Patricia Graham (above right), into her office. You are noticed when you leave.
Miss Willmott's Ghost
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
There are some skills that cannot be learned. My daughter Ale can take cuttings in our garden and all will survive. You would think that pouring water into a gourd with mate would be an easy task. Yet few can "cebar" a mate. Wealthy families in Argentina in the 19th century would have a special servant whose task it was to cebar the mates. My wife Rosemary, who can remove a delicate flan from its pan without fuss (I cannot do it), has never been able to make me a good cup of tea. Years ago when we brought our housekeeper Clemen from Mexico I pointed out to Rosemary that Clemen could make the perfect cup of tea. This was the case until I discovered that she had been re-boiling old tea! But then Clemen can make tortillas from scratch which is another one of those skills which is an either you can or cannot mystery. Marion McDonnell, the Blue Poppy Lady, grew Meconopsis betonicifolia and Meconopsis grandis
. These legendary Himalayan blue poppies are impossible to grow in Vancouver (even though ourcity has the climate that can provide the constant moisture and dappled shade that this plant loves) unless you have that touch that Marion had. In fact whenever you do spy one of these blue poppies in a Vancouver garden you can bet it came from Marion's.
Ellen Ann Willmott (1858-1934) was and English lady of "independent means". She was a keen gardener and friend of Gertrude Jekyll (rhymes with treacle!). Miss Willmott had a way with plants and many of them have the Willmott epithete atached such as Rosa willmottiana
. But my favourite is Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Willmott's Ghost. Legend has it that Miss Willmott in her frequent garden visits would surreptitiously sow sees from this handsome biennial (it shares this frustrating quality with the blue poppy). Garden owners would then be startled by the greyish ghost apparitions of the plant a couple of years later as the plant will not flower on the first year.
Both Rosemary and I simply do not have the touch for the plant and our specimens are puny when and if they do flower. Perhaps I will ask Ale to give it a try.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Through the years I have had the opportunity to photograph people smoking and I never gave it a thought. At the time is was seen as glamorous or part of intellectual brilliance. The first two cigarettes I ever smoked in high school exploded in my face and my classmates thought it was very funny. By the time I was 20 I was smoking pipes and trying every aromatic blend I could find including Middleton's Cherry Blend (ugh!) and Sugar Barrel. I was more discerning when I was 25 as I had settled for Edgeworth which came in nice blue tins. If I had kept the tins I would be quite rich now. Before I stopped the habit some 16 years ago I was smoking stuff like Balkan Sobranie. Journalist Les Wiseman said it smelled like Doberman droppings. But my favourite tobacco came in tight little round slices. It was Bell's Three Nuns. I had been attracted to it ads, "Three Nuns Pipe Tobacco, None Nicer."
From top to bottom: Dennis Hopper ( smoking a Kool), Leslie Phillips (smoking an H. Upmann), Robbie Robertson ( smoking an H. Upmann) and Clive Barker (smoking a Cohiba). Had it been me I would have been smoking a Montercristo Claro which was my brand of choice when I smoked cigars in my youth.
Smokestacks & Progress
Sunday, June 25, 2006
The image of progress fades and changes. As a boy when my British made electric train took me to the Buenos Aires suburb of El Tigre I would always watch for the tall smokestack that was attached to the Nestle plant that hugged the tracks. It was very tall and made of brick.The best part was that I could smell burning chocolate. In the 19th century a English cityscape full of smokestacks and smoke loudly proclaimed the age of coal.
Some 17 years ago the Georgia Straight ran an article on cuts at the Vancouver General Hospital. Things have gotten a bit more complicated since then. Try to figure out the current name of this hospital facility. It will be as difficult as trying to tell the difference between Trans Link and Coast Mountain Bus Company. The days of VGH and BC Transit are gone. That's called progress. Gone, too is the impressive smokestack of my picture. I remember that my subject was a mentally unstable patient who volunteered for the cause of showing what hospital cuts did to health care. I remember, too, that a hospital guard tried to throw us out even though we took the picture on the city sidewalk.