A Perfect Day With W.P. Kinsella
Saturday, September 16, 2006
On June 18, 1999 I drove to Abbotsford to photograph W.P. Kinsella for Saturday Night. In previous shoots Kinsella had been really nasty to me so I didn't look forward to it. But this time around he was courteous and pleasant and gave me lots of time to take colour and b+w photographs. The magazine ended up using the less interesting colour ones. I like this one where he is playing Scrabble. Kinsella was also watching a baseball game so I tried to get his attention every once in a while as I did here. I asked him if the game was interesting. He answered, "This is a game of no consequence between the Montreal Expos and the New York Yankees." I turned around to watch and perhaps two minutes later New York pitcher, David Cone pitched his last of 88 pitches, a pop up by Orlando Cabrera. New York won 6-0.
It was a perfect game.
Don Larsen, who pitched a perfect game in 1956 was in attendance.
Karissa Barry - Short, Compact & Wonderful
Friday, September 15, 2006
For many years I have thought of female ballet and modern dancers much in the same way as most other people do. They are are supposed to be slim, tall (or look tall) with slightly remote expressions that would suggest that at any given time they are channeling a white swan. This vision is difficult to sustain when one sees the voluptuous Cori Caulfield, the incredibly tall and muscular Emily Molnar and for those who thought that ballerinas never had cleavage, I still miss (as does Christopher Dafoe, the former Globe & Mail arts critic, turned lawyer) Ballet BC’s Gail Skrela.
I first noticed this revolution (a strong and compact one) when I saw Amber Funk for the first time. Funk even accentuated her short, muscular legs by dancing with work boots. With a smile on my face I watched Max Wyman’s puzzled look during a performance. He did not know what to make of this kind of dancer and of her dancing. I am positive that Funk has turned on many a young person to dance as many of the new breed of compact dancers have. A second compact dancer of note is Jennifer Clarke. In a shoot in my studio with Christopher Gaze she did not think twice about picking him up for the photo.
One compact dancer I did not get enough of is Sandrine Cassini (the perfect Ballet BC Carmen) who left town for Mannheim, Germany a couple of years ago. Fortunately I will see her on Saturday with my granddaughter Rebecca. She is in town dancing in the Alberta Ballet production of Romeo and Juliet.
There are two others that I first discovered a few years ago at Arts Umbrella
where my Rebecca is on her third year of the dance program. Lina Fitzner is a gorgeous red-haired woman who is all curves. She taught my Rebecca when her other teacher, Andrea Hodge would go on a Ballet BC tour. I have seen her dance with Mascall Dance, with Amber Funk and in her own choreographed works. The other Arts Umbrella dancer I first saw four years ago at a year-end presentation of the school's dance program. She was a girl with sleepy eyes that smiled all the time.
It has been my pleasure to photograph Karissa Barry twice (once with Lina Fitzner and Amber Funk, Fitzner is top right and Funk bottom right) and most recently for this week's Georgia Straight
cover with Farley Johansson. I told her (consider that it was a hot day and she was posing in a tiny bikini with Farley Johansson) that in the last century I would have seen her in a beach movie. She is that kind of girl- one you would have wanted to ask to the prom.
But when she dances, that’s another story.Karissa Barry
Cruel To Be Kind
Thursday, September 14, 2006
In mid November when I partially prune my roses and in March when I really go at them I hum along Nick Lowe's Cruel To Be Kind
. It was in the late 70s, when Nick Lowe came to Vancouver with his band Rockpile, that I first saw him perform and I enjoyed his songs. I instantly liked Cruel To Be Kind even though I tried to ignore the lyrics which sounded a lot like S&M.
You've gotta be
Cruel to be kind in the right measure,
Cruel to be kind it's a very good sign,
Cruel to be kind means that I love you,
Baby, you've gotta be cruel to be kind...
But now I know that the song is the perfect song to prune roses by. In the past I have been reluctant to be as coldly vicious as Brad Jalbert (from Select Roses in Langley) taught me to be when pruning roses. And, every time, the roses did not perform as well. I learned my lesson and my roses have performed well after heavy pruning.
I am tempted to fertilize my roses in mid September. One thinks that after the wonderful display they gave me this year I should reward them with some food. But this is not so. If I fertilize them now they will grow and as soon as the early frosts hit Vancouver the new and tender growth will not be hardy and it will wither. Such kindness could even kill them. Nick Lowe is right.
The Lynch Mob
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I have never understood hockey. Imagine me in Mexico City or Buenos Aires explaining the game.
You see, in this game if you hit someone hard with the hockey stick after pushing him into the boards they tell you, "You have been a nasty boy and you will not be allowed to play for 4 minutes." Then during the exciting moments of the game they have someone on a Hammond organ playing the Mexican Hat Dance.
In my first years in Vancouver, 30 years ago, I found myself watching the Montreal Canadiens while not understanding what the heck habitant
s meant. But somehow I could connect with Guy Lafleur's windswept long hair and I could almost imagine him as an Argentine centro de
lantero in a final between Boca and River Plate. It was my Hungarian/Canadian friend Paul Leisz, who took me to a game when I suddenly appreciated the game, in spite of that Hammond organ. The sounds of the game, the noise of the puck and the hits with the sticks were lost on TV. But what finally convinced me that this was a wonderful game was when Hockey Night In Canada
and CBC cameraman supreme, Mike Varga took me into the CBC trailer outside the Coliseum to watch the director direct his cameramen on a huge multiple screen wall. That job has to be as exciting and stressful as that of a flight controller's.
In May 2002 I was called by Surrey's The Hockey Shop
owner Rod Bolivar for a project dear to his heart. It seems that four brothers Lynch had been buying equipment at his shop for years and he felt he owed them something in return for their patronage. By some quirk of events all 4 brother were going to play professionally that year and 3 or 4 of them were going to play in a game together. Mr. Bolivar wanted me to take individual portraits of them and a group photo (above). I was immediately charmed by these handsome brothers who helped each other in the session. For the individual shots we played the game of showing a hockey stick, but not obviously, as seen here with the oldest brother Doug.
I was paid well but somehow the pleasure of the moment has remained in my memory long after I spent the money.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
My photo files are arranged in alphabetical order so there are strange and disparate situations of people sharing space because of it. I have a separate section for writers and dancers. Consider the Cs in writers:
But sometimes in the middle of the night I think of odder link patterns. There is one here:
1. Jim Bescott, the bass singer for my favourite Canadian band ever, Young Canadians
( Art Bergmann, left, Jim Bescott, centre and Barry Taylor).
2. Jean Lyons piano teacher and owner of Vancouver's oldest music school on 7th and Granville.
3. Britt Hagarty, who did lots of stuff including heroin. Here he posed during his Jean Vincent era in the early 80s in my Simpson Sears
leather jacket. At the time he had written a biography on Jean Vincent called The Day the World Turned Blue.
All three were run over. Bescott died in a parking lot, Hagarty on the street and and Jean Lyons (84 and the last to die last year) was run over on Granville.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I remember even the smell of the eucalyptus trees on the Boulevard of the Bebederos near our home in Arboledas, Estado de México 32 years ago. That day has been poignant in my memory. We had gone for a walk with Ale, our eldest daugther and with Hilary who was 2. I saw this (note photograph) and watched as Hilary became aware for the first time that she had a shadow. She would move her foot to one side and the other. In fascination she watched her shadow follow every move. I sometimes wonder why it is that such decisive moments in our life are blurs that can only come back if a photograph proves it all happened. I despair that so many moments shared with Rebecca in Washington DC, in Argentina (in years past) will someday become lost shadows in her memory.
While I don't remember discovering my shadow I did have a road to Damascus moment inside my parent's armoire. I may have been 4 or 5 but I am not sure. My mother had brought a package of American candy corn. In Buenos Aires they were better than real gold nuggets. My mother rationed them a bunch at a time. Sometimes I tried to prolong the pleasure by eating one kernel at a time. Or I would push them all into my mouth for one flavour burst. It did not escape me that my mother would return the package to her large armoire, which had two mirrored doors. I decided I was going to have my fill of candy corn one afternoon when my mother was away teaching at school. I walked into the armoire (it was that big). I found the bag and began to have my fill when I suddenly spied my image on the mirror. I watched the little boy as I moved my arm this way and that way. It was then that I was filled with the understanding that the little boy was me.
Hilary's Shadow - A Postscript
I felt immediately guilty for going into my mother's private space. But such is the memory of that event that I have long forgotten the whipping I surely received when I was caught out.
Marilyn Chambers - Behind The Coach House Door
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Sometime in the early 80s Les Wiseman and I went to the Four Seasons Hotel to photograph porn queen Marilyn Chambers. She was in town fronting a country and western band that was going to play at the Commodore. On the strength of her musical contribution to our city's culture, Wiseman was able to convince Vancouver Magazine Editor, Malcolm Parry, that Chambers was the genuine article. It was during my photo session with Chambers that I noticed her husband Chuck Traynor. It was this man that Linda Lovelace ( of Deep Throat
fame) had acused of forcing her into making the film under gun point in her autobiography (written with Mike McGrady)Ordeal
. It is the only time in my life that I have ever felt evil in a room.
Going down the elevator I asked Les if the star of the 1972 film Behind the Green Door
really "did it". Les looked at me with an expression that seemed to say, "Alex how can you be so naive?"
It was about 10 years later that in one of my visits to Les Wiseman (when he was living in a coach house near city hall) that I experienced an event I will never forget. Les let me into the living room and said, "I want to show you something." He opened a TV cabinet and pushed in a VHS cassette into the recorder. Pointing at what I was watching he said, fast forwarding through 10 years, "See, Alex, they really do do it."