Mars Rover - Getty Images
Saturday, October 07, 2006
This photograph that the Mars Exploration Rover took of Cape Verde in Victoria on Mars was credited to NASA in today's New York Times. It is a beautiful photograph. But it does not have the emotional impact of that first photograph taken by the American astronauts of our Earth from the moon. When I look at that photograph I can think, "We, are from there."
Another emotional impact, rage, hit me when I saw this same Mars Rover image in the on line version of the New York Times. For unknown reasons the NASA credit is modified. At the present rate of the Getty Image acquisition of all of our memorable images, we will soon have to pay to be able to see any of them. Would it even be possible that even the mere thought of them might someday infringe on copyright?
This "state of the art" blog has an image width limitation of 5 inches so that I am unable to size this very wide picture and still make the credit visible. Here it is:
NASA via Agence France-Presse - Getty Images
Two Men With A Shoe & One With A Sword
Friday, October 06, 2006
I have only photographed two men with a shoe near their face in my life. One was the virtuoso Argentine tango dancer Carlos Gavito. I did not know how to get his patent leather shoe near his face without offending him. So I said, "It is such a pity that a shoe is so far from the face." Gavito looked at me, took his shoe off and posed." The other virtuoso, Lui Passaglia was another type of dancer but a virtuoso, nonetheless. Passaglia is receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (honoris causa) today at Simon Fraser University. This event gives me the excuse to not only post the two men with the shoe but a man with a sword. Christopher Gaze is also getting his degree today.
Dr. Simon Warner, Graham Walker & Lauren's Winking Eyes
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Dr. David Warner was our family ophthalmologist for 15 years. When he retired in 1994 his son Simon took up his father's practice. We have been getting our eyes checked by Dr. Simon (as we call him) since. I first met Dr. Simon Warner in 1993 at the VGH Eye Centre when I was taking pictures for a CNIB (Canadian National Institute of the Blind) fund raising brochure that was designed by my soon-to-be-friend Graham Walker (far right) at KARO Design. In the course of the shooting I met Dr. Simon and that's when I found out that his father was our doctor.
The brochure that Graham Walker designed was beautiful and the best part of it was that he asked me, "What do you think would make a good cover image?" I answered that since most people identified older people with being blind, it would be interesting to feature a young girl or boy. "And," I added, "the little girl or boy should be playing with old-fashioned wooden blocks." I was thrilled to see my idea as reality, a couple of weeks later.
As a photographer I consider my eyes to be extremely valuable. I would never think of seeing anybody but a doctor to check them out and prescribe glasses. While many Canadians do not know the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist I certainly do. The former is a medical doctor. Ophthalmologists are also surgeons. If someone is going to put something into my eyes (be it sharp or blunt) I want to make sure they know what they are doing.
It was thrilling (we photographers are thrilled easily!) to take Lauren Elizabeth Stewart (my 4-year-old granddaughter) for her first eye checkup. She had been blinking her eyes for a while and we were worried about her. By the time Dr. Simon checked her out the blinking had mysteriously gone and Dr. Simon told me that Lauren's were perfectly normal. Maybe not.
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow's form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.
Two Arthurs, Two Strings & Two Guitar Players
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
On August 11, 1984 Art Bergmann and his band Poisoned were the warm-up act for the Psychedelic Furs at the Orpheum. No band from Vancouver's alternative rock scene had ever before been invited to perform at the Orpheum.
In 1952, as a boy, at Buenos Aires' grand opera house, the Teatro Colón, I saw another Art play, amidst a chorus of winter coughs and sneezes. Pianist Artur Rubenstein got up, turned to the crowd, pen in hand like a baton, and shouted, "All together, one, two, three cough, cough." He sat down and began to play. He played terribly. It dawned on all that Rubinstein was drunk. He was instantly showered with coins, the Porteño
sign of disapproval. He left, and we waited patiently for an hour, when he returned to play Beethoven with consumate virtuosity and passion. Even I knew the night was special.
Art once sat down at my Chickering baby grand and played some amazing Bach. While the Orpheum is not the Colón and Bergmann is no pianist ( he is a virtuoso of the electric guitar), any performance of Bergmann I ever attended always held the promise for the kind of passion (and the kind of risk) I experienced back at the Colón in 1952.
At the Orpheum show (left), I was not disappointed. On a good night (by my measure), Art breaks a guitar string. On this one he broke two. And there was that additional guitarist. He was six feet tall; wore a Mohawk and knee-high lace-ups. His image of an undead was at odds with the map of Italy painted on the face of his guitar. None of us knew then that Ted Rich was Eric Clapton's half brother.
Todd, Lauren, Whale Tails & A Snub-Nosed 38
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Some of you by now, must know that I am crazy about women and specially my granddaughter Rebecca (9). But I must admit that Rebecca's sister Lauren (4)is doing a good job of confusing me. She is a delight. She is my companion on Saturdays when we drop off Rebecca at her Arts Umbrella ballet and dance classes on Granville Island. Lauren and I buy a plain croissant at he bakery that is across the butcher shop that features "dino bones" (I am afraid to ask). We then sit down at the Granville Island Tea Company for an hour. Lauren munches on her croissant while I drink a Rwanda Rukeri. Lauren behaves all the time like a little adult and she sometimes plays , "I spy with my little eye....."with the cute and friendly attendants at the tea counter. We know all the regulars who come for their tea. One of them is Todd Woffinden, dancer, actor, carver and sometimes singer.
I have to admit that while I really like women I have been afraid of male dancers particularly those that dance at Ballet BC. Some were intimidating (when I first started taking their pictures in 1992) others remote. But it was around 1994 that the Globe dispatched me to photograph Ballet BC's John Alleyne. I decided on a dancer couple for background. That's when I first met the easy going Todd and Crystal Pite. Todd in his quiet and most American drawl told me it was going to be easy. It was and the photo was very well received.
I had the opportunity to shoot with him again in November 1997 when I did a fashion spread for the Georgia Straight that featured a narrative involving three women (female Ballet BC dancers) being holed up in a cheap hotel (Room 615 of the Marble Arch, then owned by my pal Tony Ricci) who lure two men (Todd and another Ballet BC male dancer) and then dispose of them with a snub-nosed 38. In the photo from left to right, Andrea Hodge, Gail Skrela, Todd Woffinden and Lauri Stallings. During rest periods I was "shocked" (out of ballet character?) that Todd was watching American football in another room. It was then that I noticed that he resembled that other good old American and favourite actor of mine, Sam Shepard.
A few years later I was asked to photograph a dancer and a musician for a joint charity program involving Ballet BC and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Here's Todd with VSO violinist Karen Gerbrecht.
Two weeks ago Lauren and I ran into Todd on Granville Island. He was at his stall (not far from the Tea Company). Todd has stopped dancing for Ballet BC and has now gone independent in many directions. In 2004 I saw him in the Vancouver Opera production of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera. If any Vancouver Opera production features ballet, Todd will be on stage as he was for Aida. But the most striking talent Todd has are his carvins specillay his trademark whale pendants that he carves from 10,000 to 40,000 year-old Yukon mammoth tusks. Here you see Lauren holding on to Todd for dear life (and not knowing that one of Todd's specialties was to hold up women of any size back in his dancing days). His whale tail pendant and hand woven cord is hanging around his neck. Both Rebecca and Lauren appreciate Todd's quiet way of talking to them as little adults. I appreciate it and him, too.
The Modernettes, Three Canaries & Other Sweet Stuff
Monday, October 02, 2006
On Saturday I furthered Rebecca's musical education. In the car, when I was taking her home with her sister Lauren and mother Hilary, she said, on hearing what was playing on the car's CD player( Lonesome Road from Gone With The Wind
), " That's Dave Brubeck Papi, do you have any Gerry Mulligan?" It made me happy as she is now able to discern not only between instruments (be it baroque, classical or jazz) but also within the genres. Earlier in the afteroon we had been listening to 40s "canaries", Doris Day, Peggy La Centra and Helen Forrest. After all that sweet stuff we listened to the Modernettes's signature tunes, Barbara
and Rebel Kind
. When Randy Carpenter sang the ever so sweet Tears Will Fall
Rebecca commented, "That cannot be punk or is it?" I showed Rebecca the old Polaroid I took of Buck Cherry (aka John Armstrong), Mary-Jo Kopechne (aka Mary) with our daughters Ale (top left) and Hilary, top right) sometime in 1986 when they came home for dinner. While listening to more Modernettes, Rebecca sketched. From the Modernettes we went to The Subhumans - Incorrect Thoughts
. Lauren was happily dancing around to dead at birth
while Rebecca was listening, with care. "How come I haven't heard that four letter word?" she asked? "Because you haven't been listening as carefully as you think," I countered while making note not to play the other side's slave to my dick
Barry Lopez & Krauts in a Beer Hall
Sunday, October 01, 2006
When Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams - Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape
appeared in 1986 I remember Malcolm Parry telling me it was one of the best books he had ever read. Since I also read fiction (Mac doesn't) I was skeptical but upon reading Arctic Dreams I agreed with Mac. If I flew more often I would probably read more non-fiction. It was on board some airplane that I "discovered" an installment in the New Yorker
of John McPhee's wonderful La Place de la Concorde Suisse
. I had to read the conclusion of McPhee's account in which he watched and documented (in the admirable McFee way) Swiss Army "refresher" courses with soldier companion Luc Massy. I bought the book. It was around 1995 that I read a Barry Lopez essay in Harper's
(again some airplane) on being aboard a cargo Boeing 747 in a world-wide trip and where he wrote:
"In this world, `perishable' refers to more than flowers, food, and newspapers; it includes everything in tenuous fashion: watches, video games, shades of lipstick, a cut of trouser--objects for which a few days' head start on store shelves is crucial."
I was hooked to reading the occasional non-fiction book. With Mac I share a fondness for Henry Petroski's engineering books which include not only To Engineer Is Human
but his excellent autobiography Paperboy - Confessions of a Future Engineer
. My interest in "engineering" books began when Erich von Däniken published his questionable "non fiction" Chariots of the Gods
in 1968. He was hailed as the "father of the ancient astronaut theory". I preferred L. Sprague de Camp's The Ancient Engineers
where the credit for the building of all the ancient wonders was convincingly placed on the shoulders of von Däniken's inferior humans. The just released (and on my bed table right now) Mountains of the Pharaohs - The Untold Story of the Pyramid Builders
by Zahi Hawass (secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities) is no McPhee or Lopez but fascinating, nonetheless.
My friend John Lekich talked, for years, about his favourite non fiction writer A.J. Liebling, to no avail. It was in a copy of Liebling's Between Meals
which was on Vancouver Magazine restaurant critic Jamie Maw's living room coffee table when I became a Liebling fan. I read:
Mens san in corpore sano is a contradiction in terms, the fantasy of a Mr. Have-your-cake-and-eat-it. No sane man can afford to dispense with debilitating pleasures; no ascetic can be considered reliably sane. Hitler was the archetype of the abstemious man. When the other krauts saw him drink water in the Beer Hall they should have known he was not to be trusted
In 1990 when I photographed author Barry Lopez we found we had one thing in common. While I had been educated by Brothers of the Holy Cross and he by Jesuits we both agreed that our Catholic education had given us a more liberal understanding of the world which somehow gave us a competitive edge in some of our pursuits.
Liberal Catholic Education
Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam