David Radler - John Cruickshank & Brian Evans Sings O CanadaWednesday, April 25, 2007
I have never understood dishonesty. It was my grandmother who used to tell me, "Piensa mal y acertarás." (Think the worst and you will be right.) She was very Catholic and was a firm believer in the concept of original sin and how we humans had a propensity for evil. Only grace through the Catholic Sacraments could save us from ourselves. I chose to disagree with her (not openly) and I always expected the best of people. When they did wrong it was always a surprise to me but I tried not to let it bother me.
While in the Argentine Navy I understood the corrupting influence of power and ambition. We used to joke that the next promotion for a four-star general or admiral President. Most of the ills of my country came about because of power and ambition.
I was once robbed in a Mexican bus and I was powerless because I had my two-year-old daughter in my arm. It happened a few days before Christmas. While delivering our Christmas presents on another year someone broke into our VW and stole the presents that had yet to be delivered. But somehow Rosemary and I never remained bitter for long.
The first and last time that I was ever treated somewhat hdishonestly by anybody was recently in 1997. I had photographed Sinatraish crooner Brian Evans (Michael Bublé was mostly unknown then) for Vancouver Magazine.
I had picked the New York rail car of BC Rail as a location and Ann Murray, the lovely daughter of a friend of mine had been thrilled to pose with Evans. As he posed for me Evans kept singing O Canada. He was to sing our anthem that evening at a BC Lions Game. I was charmed my his romantic patriotism even though he had been born in Massachusetts. A few weeks later he asked me if he could use the picture for his CD cover. We arrived at a fee and I billed him. I was never paid.
All this brings me to my photographic relationship with David Radler. I first photographed him for an early 80s article by Valerie Gibson for Vancouver Magazine about all the up and coming powerful people of Vancouver.
I photographed him for magazines three more times and then Radler hired me to take pictures for an annual report. My dealings with him were always pleasant and cordial. We once spoke about Malcolm Parry. Of Parry he told me, "I really like his gossip column and if it were up to me I would make him write it every day." He was obviously a fan. We chatted about other things but when I would ask about his family he always told me that he guarded their privacy and would never allow a photographer in his home. Radler was extremely proud of his Cadillac. He asked me to photograph him with it for one of the shots for his annual report.
The colour photograph of him standing in his office I took in 1994 for an article that John Lekich wrote for the waning business magazine Equity. I was present for the interview and it was funny how Lekich and Radler talked about their love for baseball.
Radler was a man who loved baseball and as boy had a paper route. That did not prepare me for what is currently happening with Radler and Lord Black. He has bargained with the prosecution and will serve less time in jail.
I never saw this in the man I photographed so many times. He even posed for me in the b+w photos for Business in Vancouver which certainly don't show him in the best light. Perhaps I never gave it a thought that they reveal him as a very powerful man and that once you have a few million dollars only power can make more money any sweeter.
In 1995 John Cruickshank became Editor-in-Chief of the Vancouver Sun. I immediately saw sweeping and positives changes in our city paper. Cruickshank hired David Beers who created in Mix the best Saturday Magazine the Vancouver Sun ever had.
One day late in 1997 Cruickshank spotted me in the lobby and asked me to accompany him into his office. It was there that he revealed to me that he was going to have Beers "Mix" the rest of the paper and that he saw my photography as playing a part in it all. Soon after David Radler made one of the smartest decisions of his life in promoting Cruickshank and sending him to Chicago to the Sun Times where Cruickshank is now the publisher. Beers was left in an office with little to do and Mix soon lost its life force. I regret to this day Radler's smart move.