Budstock, Nancy G, Zippy Pinhead, Art & Bud Luxford
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Sometime soon after August 31st 1982, I went to an "alternative scene" rock band concert at the UBC Sub Ballroom. A couple of guys in front of me where whispering. In spite of the loud band, I was able to hear what they were saying. "These guys look like they all went to the same hair stylist," said one of them. The other guy countered, "They do." He was right. Anybody who was anybody in the alternative scene (those bands that you could not listen to on commercial AM or FM radio except in UBC's CITR Radio) went to Nancy Gillespie (we all called her Nancy G). Why do I know this happened right after August 31st 1982? I remember telling my wife Rosemary, "I am going to get my hair cut by Nancy G. I am getting one of her asymmetrical cuts." I want to do something different to celebrate my birthday. Rosemary cautiously(she made me feel so old!) said, "Be careful, remember you are going to be 40."
On July 30, 1981 I attended Bud Luxford's record release party held at the Commodore Ballroom. It was called Budstock and he advertised it as: $5 for 10 bands (That's 50c per band not counting calories).
Anybody who was important in the alternative scene played that night in what were called "Fu--Bands". These were bands made up from members of well known bands who switched instruments or in some cases drummers became singers, etc.
I had given myself one mission that night. I was going to take a group shot of all the participants and organizers. Here it is. Smack in the middle you have Bud Luxford. To his left that's Art Bergmann. At the bottom, centre it's Pointed Sticks's lead singer Nick Jones. On the extreme right that's Nancy G. In one of the few other shots I took that night you can see a very drunk Art Bergmann. In the third shot Nancy G is working on Zippy Pinhead, back stage. You can notice in this picture Nancy G's strange but beautiful eyes. We all had the hots for Nancy.
Many women in Vancouver had the hots for Zippy. In a Western Music Awards night I was standing with Zippy. His hands were filthy. A woman came up to him and asked, "Why are your fingernails so dirty?" Zippy explained, "I work in a garage and I put my hands in car grease. What do you expect?" The immaculately dressed woman then said, "What's your phone number?"
Kathleen In Red and Blue
Friday, October 27, 2006
I have never really thrown any of my old pictures away. The ones that do get lost are usually the valuable ones that are valuable, only, in that the subject of the picture is not around or dead. Kathleen is alive and well. The last time I located her she was working as a most efficient accountant for Sam Feldman and Associates on Granville Island. When I photographed her many years ago in my Burnaby basement garage studio I was fascinated by red hair. I am still fascinated by the complexity of rendering a realistic skin colour which eludes most film cameras when faced with redheads.
At the time I thought I could colour print from colour negatives. I wasn't too bad except with red heads. To make it worse I decided I was going to photograph Kathleen with a "blue" rose. I left the white rose soaking in Parker Pen royal blue ink for a day. This is as blue as it ever got. But I am happy with the look of the b+w portait. Kathleen had and has a face that could launch ships.
With A Rose - Reprised
If that previous picture of Kathleen with a rose failed, it failed not because of Kathleen, but because I have since found out that photographs of people, and women in particular, with roses, cherries, strawberries, etc displayed on their faces or in other parts of their anatomy are most often doomed to failure. There have been a few, for me, recent exceptions. This photograph of dancer Sandrine Cassini with Rosa
'L. D. Braithwaite'is one of my favourite atttempts.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
A nice foil to a good mystery is a book of essays. In recent years, Henry Petroski has expounded on ferris wheels (Remaking the World - Adventures in Engineering
), Stephen Jay Gould has shown how natural selection has prevented anybody from batting 400 over a season since Ted Williams in 1941 ( Full House
)and I have learned all about the Swiss Army in John McFee's La Place de la Concorde Suisse.
For essays on food (and chewing gum), nobody tops South African-born Toronto/Barcelona/South of France resident Margaret Visser. In her 1994 book The Way We Are
, I found out why Pythagoras commanded his vegetarian followers, "Abstain from beans!" And in September of that year I had the good fortune of taking Visser's photograph in her room at the Hotel Vancouver.
We discussed her mention in her book of the first sunbathing scene in French Literature. In 1902, the hero of André Gide's book L'Immoraliste
took off his clothes and lay down in the sun.
This made me remember the first recorded incident in history of someone taking a sun bath. I had learned of this from my wonderful teacher, Brother Hubert Koeppen at St Edward's High School in Austin, Texas. Brother Hubert had instilled a love of history in me that had all started with such facts.
I asked Visser if she knew of that mention in ancient history involving Alexander the Great and Pindar the Poet in Thebes. Visser answered, "You have it wrong - It was Alexander and Diogenes the Cynic in Corinth." We made a $10 bet.
She wrote her address in my copy of The Way We Were
and it was an address on Euclid Street in Toronto. I also noticed that the book's dedication was in classic Greek. I knew I was in trouble.
A few weeks later, a neat handwritten letter arrived from Euclid Street. Included was a copy of a page from Plutarch's Lives
in both English and Greek. It read,
"....a vote was passed to make an expedition against Persia with Alexander, and he was proclaimed their leader. Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to him with congratulations, and he expected Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. But since the philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb of Craneion, Alexander went to see him; and found him lying in the sun. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked him if he wanted anything, 'Yes, 'said Diogenes, stand a little out of my sun.'" I sent Visser a cheque for $10.
I am about to re-read one of my favourite books. This is Visser's The Geometry of Love - Space, Time, Mystery, and Meaning in and Ordinary Church.
This beautiful book about Sant'Agnese fuori le mura in Rome is a biography of a church that is not all that ordinary. One of the floors in the canonry of the 1,350-year-old building collapsed on April 12, 1855 and 105 people, including Pope Pius IV, fell through to the floor below. No one was injured.
For me entering a synagogue, a mosque, a Buddhist temple or my neighbourhood church will never be the same after having read this book. But Visser was up to her old tricks (Brother Hubert would have approved) in gently teaching us Greek and Latin and how they have put an indelible stamp in our language Would you ever guess that it was the virtuous St Peter who was the source of the word scandal?
Simon, son of Jonah, himself nicknamed Peter, "the stone, "was later to comment on the relationship between the crucifixion of Jesus (his "rejection") and his status now as "the corner stone" of the new view of the world. People who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ foretold will not think him a "cornersone" at all, Peter wrote; they will find him a "stumbling-block." The latter expression in Greek is petra skandalou
, the origin of the English "scandal"; it means a stone that people fall over. Page 83, The Geometry of Love.
A Heart of Jade - Corazón de Piedra Verde
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Salvador de Madariaga's Corazón de Piedra Verde
(1942), published in English in the 60s as The Heart of Jade
was the first novel I remember reading in Spanish. Around 1959 when I read it, it was my first glimpse on how the Spaniards conquered Mexico. Only later did I read Bernal Diaz del Castillo's Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España
. While The Heart of Jade was labeled as innacurate by Homero Aridjis ( a Mexican poet who wrote his own and wonderful magic realism version of the conquest of Mexico, Memorias del Nuevo Mundo
, 1991) I still re-read it, often. I am a sucker for the romance between the dashing Spanish Manrique and the lovely Mexica
princess Xuchitl. It was in 1966, in Buenos Aires, when I first read Argentine author Julio Cortázar's stories Ceremonias
which in one volume compiled his Final del Juego
and Armas Secretas
. It was here that found my favourite Cortázar short story, La noche boca arriba
, The Night Face Up
. A young man riding his motorcycle on a busy street somehow daydreams and almost runs over a woman. In avoiding her he crashes and he finds himself in traction on a hospital bed where he suffers terrible dreams. He is a prisoner of war of the Aztecs and he is being led to his eventual sacrifice (the tearing of his heart with an obsidian knife on the top of a Mexica temple). He manages to wake up in his hospital bed every time things get bad. Until the moment his heart is about to be torn does he realize that the motorcycle and the accident are the dream and that he is about to die.
To the ancient Mexicas, the heart or yólotl
was the vital organ in the creation of our universe. It generated ideas and feelings. For them the human heart transcended all things material and became the symbol of the intangible and of the powerful. Through human sacrifice the Aztecs gave to their gods their most precious possession in exchange for good fortune or to placate the bad.
Jade has always been part of my life. I remember my mother asking me to help her with her Chinese jade and gold earings and necklace when I was a little boy. When I married Rosemary my mother Filomena gave her the complete set that also included a bracelet and a ring.
My latest connection with jade was in 2003 when I photographed sculptor Lyle Sopel in his North Vancouver studio with a giant jade Buddha he had just finished. All I can remember of the jade octopus is that I photographed it at least 20 years ago in Spanish Banks at about the same time that I photographed the lovely Anette with a jade screen (mined by Mohawk Petroleum) and a jade pendant.
Kathryn Ricketts, Edmond Kilpatrick & Pale Dry Sherry
Monday, October 23, 2006
On Friday I went to La Bodega with my friend Paul Leisz. Hector, our Guatemalan barman, poured me the last glass from a bottle of La Gitana Manzanilla. This is a pale and extremely dry sherry that James Michener described in his book on Spain, Iberia
as, "...for Manzanilla is one of Spain's noblest wines, a sherry so pale and dry that it seems hardly to be a liquid but rather a delicate spirit." Spanish Sherries use a system called a solera.
A very old cask of sherry is on the top of a row of casks with younger and younger wines. Small quantities from the old are poured into the newer ones. My Gitana manzanilla had elements from a sherry hundreds of years old; diluted, perhaps, but still there.
It ocurred to me that when I photographed Sandrine Cassini a few years ago, since she had danced at the Paris Opera Ballet that there were elements in her of Marie Van Goethem Degas' little ballerina. And now I find that two of Rebecca's dance teachers at the Arts Umbrella are dancers I have photographed before and who bring with them their own version of the solera
method. Kathryn Ricketts, who teaches Rebecca Pre-Character dance, I photographed with Grant Strate, the grand old man of dance in Canada who was one of the original dancers and choreographers of the National Ballet of Canada. Ricketts studied modern dance at Simon Fraser University when Strate was director for the Centre for the Arts there. She is now the Artistic Director of Vancouver's Main Dance. Rebecca's other teacher (jazz) is Ballet BC's Edmond Kilpatrick seen here with his ex-wife Victoria.
An Englishman once described the solera
principle: "Young unblended wines are the letters from which words are formed, while the solera represents a completed word. Sherry, then, is the poem made from these words." I only wonder what Rebecca will become some day with a solera background that is in spades. Main DanceArts Umbrella Ballet BC
Daryl Duke - The Sun Sets In West Vancouver
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Perched on his diving board at his West Vancouver home in June of 1995 Daryl Duke looked to me like a cross between Joseph in his many-coloured coat and John Cheever stepping into his own story The Swimmer
. It didn't take long to convince the man (a TV and film legend in Canada) since I had the pursuasive influence of writer John Lekich. We had been assigned by Equity Magazine
to do a story on him. The experience was specially pleasant as Duke's wife, Anne-Marie was a good host.
Writer John Lekich can make even a stone sound eloquent. In this case Lekich did not have to push hard, since Duke always liked to talk. I read countless essays and letters to the editor in the Vancouver Sun in which Duke lamented CBC's lack of local programming, specially the multi-ethnic kind. My favourite quote in Lekich's Equity article:
I (John Lekich) ask him what he thinks about when he sees the setting sun from his window. "Travel has really broadened my horizons," he says. "While my parents tended to think of Vancouver as the last stop on the railroad, I've come to realize that a setting sun here is really just the beginning of the day for most of the world's population."
Daryl Duke (77) died this weekend.
or ostrich fern is not the only "weed" fern in my garden. Onoclea sensibilis
grows in the deep shade bed with some of my largest hostas and it manages to hold its own. This fern is called the sensitive fern because as soon as you get the first frost or sign of cold in the fall this deciduous fern dies off (but it resurrects in the coming year). As it dies it turns into a rich brown. Here you see the pinnae or the primary leaflets of the delightful fronds that seem to stick out randomly between my hostas. If I only look at them, or slightly touch them they break off. Some 12 years ago I bought one. I may have more than 30 that spread. I break off the ones that intrude (very rarely do they do this) on my hostas. As Vancouver is now a pesticide free city I have increasingly found extra charm in those plants that don't get diseases or get eaten by bugs and slugs. My ferns, and Onoclea sensibilis, in particular
excel with benign neglect.