Cameron Ward - Robin Hood, Not
Saturday, December 01, 2007
I write and take pictures for a local city magazine called VLM
(Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine). I can safely say that before Bob Mercer (both editor and art director) took over the magazine early this year, it was easily one of the worst magazines around. It is fun to work for an editor/art director as a writer photographer. Because of the space restrictions of emerging magazines (with no laundered cash stockpiles) Mercer and I have managed to produce one page profiles that seem to have a lot of content in few words. Here is an example from the current December/ January issue on lawyer Cameron Ward
Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward's office in the Dominion Building is tiny. The glass door makes one imagine that a woman in distress (with a .25 caliber automatic in her purse) might show up at any minute. A glance at the listings for the other occupants of the building (Green Party, etc.) suggests that the common thread is that many have a cause.
Ward, who is married and has two children and loves to play golf with a diverse group of friends ("We all love the game.") recently returned from his favourite course in the world, Royal Dornoch in Scotland. He rejects being labeled a Robin Hood lawyer.
"I don't steal from the rich, "he says. "I don't steal from anybody. I try to assist the poor whether it is working with disadvantaged people in the Downtown Eastside or Aboriginal groups, environmental activists and anti-war protesters. When these folks get tied up in legal battles and important legal principles are at stake, I try to help them because the legal system and process can be daunting."
Montreal-born Ward believes that the plight of the poor can extend to the plight of the Cambie Street Merchants. "They weren't poor when they started. I have one lawsuit pending and I am trying to work behind the scenes to try to achieve a political solution to their nightmare. It is outrageous that government [Federal, Provincial and City, or four levels if you consider Translink and Metro Vancouver] has not stepped in. It is outrageous that government officials who are building a multi-billion-dollar project [The Canada Line] have not set aside a fund that will help the merchants in their difficult time."
Ward is representing Hazel& Co. in the B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against the members of the public private partnership building the Canada Line, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for business disruption caused by the construction.
"This is truly a David versus Goliath situation. But when I think of that I always remind myself that David won."
© 2007 VLM/Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
Jane Rule - & Other Scary Lesbians Charmers
Friday, November 30, 2007
It wasn't too long ago that I wrote this. I put it here again in memory of a woman who charmed me and whom I will not forget. Rest in piece, Jane Rule.
Sometime in April 1991 the editor of Quill & Quire called me up and said, "Alex how would you like to photograph a 6 ft tall lesbian?" I was speechless, even after he said, "Your subject is going to be writer Jane Rule. The piece on her is that she is going to retire from writing because of her terrible arthritis which prevents her from articulating her fingers."
I did not know what to expect as I waited for her to show up.
In 1978 I had photographed a woman for a gay publication called Bi-Line.
She was extremely beautiful and she was a lesbian who was treated by other women as a queen bee. They vied for who would wash her car or clean her house. She was obvious royalty. We met for coffee to dicuss our photo session and decided on dressing her in her karate clothing and I would photograph her after her workout. As I listened and stared at the woman I felt this incredible relaxation that as a man I did not have to worry about my sexuality, to make any kind of passes and I could just be myself. It was a liberating feeling.
With that in mind I did not expect to be woowed and wowed by Jane Rule. I fell for her immediately as she posed for me with her owl glasses. She had a delightful dress and she carried herself well considering she was big woman. At the end of our session she said to me, "Alex, I will need your help to go down the stairs and I would like you to find me a cab." As we walked down the stairs hand in hand I thought of that cliche that applied so well to the situation:
A lady is a woman that makes a man feel like a gentleman.
Carmen Aguirre - Vancouver Bombshell, Actor, Director, Playwright
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It seems that it has been a long time since I last sat in a bar with friends Les Wiseman
and John Lekich and discussed our favourite topic, beautiful women. We would ignore the exotic dancers performing in such downtown bars as the Austin or the Cecil and write our top ten lists of the most beautiful women in the world or in Vancouver. More often than not Lekich would have a list of women of which the majority had been dead (Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck) for years. Wiseman, who was more into the media and esoteric magazines, would name unknown (to us) body builders and porn stars. We always had a fondness for our Vancouver Top Ten. If we were to repeat these sessions I would immediately place Carmen Aguirre on the top of the list.
I first wrote about her here
but on Monday when I wrote my blog on the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
I had a chance to look into my Carmen Aguirre files. I photographed her many times. The first time it was for the Georgia Straight in 1999 when Aguirre was directing a play she had written about Latinos ¿Qué pasa con la Raza, eh?
which was going to open at the Firehall Theatre.
I photographed her with actor Oparín Ortiz (right). After almost 24 years in Vancouver I had forgotten the sex appeal (a visceral impact) of a Latino (Aguirre was born in Chile) woman. Aguirre was wearing a killer mini skirt and had legs that kept me speechless for most of the photographic session.
Through our mutual friends, the Argentine painters Juan Manuel Sanchez and Nora Patrich, (one of the pictures here features one of Sanchez's murals) I photographed her many times. My favourite sessions involved pictures of her with the cast of the Electric Theatre Company's production in 2002 of Donna Flor and her Two Husbands.
Carmen Aguirre is an actor, a director and a very good playwright. My favourite play of hers was an adaptation of one of Argentine novelist Julio Cortazar's most famous short stories Final del Juego
(The End Of The Game) into a play in English which opened in Langara's Studio 56 in November 2003.
One of Aguirre's most endearing qualities after an infectuous laugh is her candor. During a cast shoot for one of her plays that I was shooting in my studio she said, clearly in her beautiful Spanish, "Size does matter." Whatever plans I might have had to divorce my wife and propose marriage to her were all but quashed
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Last night my wife Rosemary and I went to Kidd Pivot's Lost Action
at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. This was the first time Rosemary has ever seen dance that is not ballet and she was a bit overwhelmed. She is not a veteran as Rebecca is who would not have been fazed in the least by the almost brutal and constant movement of the 7dancers for one hour and twenty minutes.
We noticed among all the people that I know (many from the dance community ready to check out the latest from Kidd Pivot's Crystal Pite, left) Arthur Erickson (83, below) who helped by his driver Ray managed to find himself a seat in the balcony.
When I greeted him after the performance he gesticulated enthusiastically with his hands and said, "Wonderful!"
Because it was opening night there was food served. They had some special corn mufins that packed a bang as they had jalapeño peppers inside. But Rosemary, who noticed all the construction (part of the millions of dollars renovation of the old Methodist church) particularly in what used to be the parking lot (there is a big hole), asked me if the place would remain as it is. I asked Heather Redfern (top left), the present Executive Director who calmed us, "You won't notice anything but the toilets will flush!" This comforted us. The Vancouver Cultural Centre has entertained us, thrilled us, challenged us (just think of Chick Snipper's Slab
) all these years.
I particularly remember the Modern Baroque Opera's (please come back!)production of the 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade
which like last night's Lost Action was an ALCAN Award production. This opera had elements of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra playing on the floor next to the performers.
The theatre has no orchestra pit. This meant that not only were we able to see the singers but also musicians. It was a wonderful and intimate combination. "No, we are not going to put an orchestra pit," Redfern said to us. I did not raise the issue with Redfern as to how it felt being on the front row with a naked Marquis de Sade (Michael Douglas Jones with Christine Duncan as the Countess) swinging it back and forth not four ft away.
The second person I ever photographed inside the VECC (I photographed the first Executive Director Chris Wooten sometime in 1978, inside and outside as seen here) was a broadcaster who had just arrived to Vancouver via her old home in England. Her name was Vicki Gabereau.
Something very special about the VECC is that they are perhaps the only cultural institution (besides the Firehall Theatre) that features and caters to dance, theatre, music and the visual arts regularly. The lobby always has some sort of show of paintings or sculpture. I have heard many concerts of new music. It was here that I discovered the virtuosity of jazz man Brad Turner who in an avant-garde piece played his trumpet (accompanied by a percussionist) for almost 6 minutes without ever really playing a note. He made noises with the valves, etc while hiding his face with a brimmed hat.
I was in 2001 that the VECC started a tradition. The Electric Company Theatre's Dona Flor's And Her Two Husbands
premiered with Carmen Aguirre
, the extremly funny faux basoonist Don Adams and actor Ty Olsson who in all his time on stage (most of the time) wore absolutely nothing and dangled. Halfway through the production Aguirre made it equal time and shed her clothes.
True to this tradition, VECC features full nudity or partial nudity at least once a year. To this day when I cite Chick Snipper's Slab (2003)in the presence of Rebecca (she was 6 then) she says, "They wore nothing." In the photo below that's Kathleen McDonagh, Ann Cooper center back and Susan Elliott, centre.
As we went home last night I thought that Vancouver without the VECC would be a very poor place. And thanks to the VECC's existence it is that much better. I then caught another VECC memory, those four microphones decorated with pink ribbon. Does anybody remember?
Malcolm Lowry, Michael Turner & Tony Ricci All Drank At The NBI
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The only two things that people remember about Vancouver is that Malcolm Lowry lived and Errol Flynn died here.
The most important change that Expo 86 brought to Vancouver was a more realistic liquor law. Prior to Expo 86, La Bodega on Howe was the only restaurant where you could stare at a salad all day and drink yourself to oblivion, even on a Sunday. For years I had watched people get drunk on coffee at the Classical Joint on Carral Street. It took me a while to figure out that patrons would whisper, when asked what they wanted, "A dark coffee." This concoction people said had Irish whiskey. Before Expo 86, Tony Ricci
was sitting pretty with his Marble Arch Hotel. It had a liquor license that had the latest closing hours in Vancouver (2 am). Those who would fortify their evenings with High Test at the Smilin' Buddha on East Hastings and ejected by bouncer Igor at 1 am, would run to the Arch for more.
In 1995 the exotic dancer bar craze of Vancouver was beginning to wane. But again, Ricci was sitting pretty as the unsigned owner of the NBI (the North Burnaby Inn) on East Hastings. It had the largest and best liquor and off sale license East of Boundary. It had a huge room with a stage where the city's best strippers performed. It was the only strip bar in Burnaby (besides the Lougheed Motel on Willingdon). The NBI was doing just fine. But there was another room, sort of like a pub, that never had customers except terminal city alcoholics.
This is when a man who does not profiit from selling New York landmarks because he lives in Vancouver, poet Michael Turner
, went up to Ricci and suggested that the room be converted to a Mecca for poetry.
He thought that it should be called the Malcolm Lowry Room. And so it was. Malcolm Lowry Room opened its doors, prominently decorated with a beautifully framed portrait of Lowry by his shack on Cates Park on the other side of Burrard Inlet near Deep Cove. Turner then (I am almost sure) started rumours that Lowry (reported to be a fine swimmer) had braved the waters of Burrard Inlet, desperate for gin or two at the bar that was in the exact same spot where the NBI was.
At about that time writer John Lekich, no worse than Turner in his ability to persuade, pitched the story of the Malcolm Lowry Room to editor Charles Campbell at the Georgia Straight. I was dispatched to take the pictures and told it was a cover story.
I rounded up my equipment, and before I left, I went to my book shelves in search of my Book-of-the-Month Club copy of Lowry's Under the Volcano
. After taking my portrait of Ricci (barmaid behind him), Michael Turner (with the framed photograph of Lowry) I used the book for the cover shot involving Turner and a barmaid. We picked one who was not as well endowed as most of the others who worked there. We didn't want the picture to be rejected by the Straight which was beefing up its moral standards.
Before I left I went up to Ricci and told him, "Tony, here is Malcolm Lowry's famous novel. Keep it under the bar in case anybody asks." His reply was his usual one, "Alex, I owe you big." And he always meant that.
Don't Tell A Woman What To Wear
Monday, November 26, 2007
If you happen to see yesterday's blog
you might note the picture of rebecca that I repeat here (left). It almost didn't happen.
On Friday afternoon I asked Rosemary to call Hilary to ask Rebecca to wear black for our Ballet BC date that evening. She was to tell Hilary that I was dressing in black. When Rebecca goes to her Wednesday ballet class she wears a black leotard, a little dark purple (almost black) short skirt, a black top and she wears her hair up. I love her like that and that was what I wanted her to wear. That was not to be.
When I picked her up she was wearing a new dress given to her by her Nana (her other grandmother). Holding on to Lilly the cat she looked lovely. Because her digital camera was not working I was not able to take her picture with Simone Orlando back stage after the ballet. I decided I was going to photograph her in my studio the next day.
When a photographer uses more than one speed film at the same time, mistakes happen. I shot a roll (above) using the beautiful capabilities of the now discontinued Kodak Technical Pan in 120 which has a speed of 25 ISO. After I exposed the 10 shots (that's a complete roll with my Mamiya RB) I noticed that the roll was not Technical Pan but my usual Plus-X Pan with an ISO of 100. This meant that I had overexposed it by two stops. I took some pictures again with Technical Pan and tried to repeat the same poses. After that I shot a second roll of Plus-X (correctly exposed) of Rebecca doing other poses with Lilly and without.
I worsened the problem by putting all three rolls into my bag so that when I realized what I had done I could not tell which was the bad roll. Last night I played it safe and processed one roll of Plus-X. It was perfectly exposed. This meant that the second one was the one.
That roll I underdeveloped with a much diluted developer (HC-110) and the results were excellent, that's the second picture above.
Taking photographs of Rebecca, who is a veteran, is a pleasure. She must be older than her age when she asked me if she had beautiful feet. I had indicated to her to take off her shoes for the full-length shots. I told her that yes, and that both my mother and I had beautiful feet and that she had inherited from us.
I was charmed when she talked to Lilly, "I want some pictures without you so I hope you don't mind." Rebecca put Lilly on a table and posed for me. And from now on I will not tell Rebecca what to wear. I will let her surprise me.
Aldous Huxley, Simone Orlando & Lilly The Cat
Sunday, November 25, 2007
But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly to comprehend.
The Doors of Perception - Aldous Huxley
Friday Night Rebecca and I attended a performance of Ballet BC called Elemental Brubeck An Evening With Jazz
. It featured three works. The first was Serge Bennathan's In and Around Kozla Street
, the second was a premiere of Simon Orlando's Realm of Her Eclipse
. The third was Lar Luvobitch's Elemental Brubeck.
In and Around Kozla Street
I am unable to see this sad piece without thinking of two other previous performances, years back, by Ballet BC. One featured Crystal Pite and her beau Jay Gower Taylor. This is when I first noticed (hard not to!)an embrace where the couple kiss and keep dancing. I didn't time it then but it felt like two minutes. The second occasion, January 22, 1988, was my favourite as it featured red haird Lauri Stallings and the most electryfing man that ever danced for Ballet BC, Mirsoslav Zydowicz (below brushing artist Tiko Kerr).
As I watched Lauri Stallings and Mirsoslav Zydowicz twirl around and around - their lips seemingly glued together - I asked Rosemary how long she thought the kiss was and, I had a revelation, which I whispered to my wife Rosemary: "Ballet is about sex." She hushed me, pointing out that Stallings' boyfriend, Rick Carvlin, was sitting next to us. He had heard me. "They kiss for one minute and 58 seconds," he said. "I have timed them before." Lauri Stallings more so because of her red hair and a very prsonal style imposed a fiery passion.
Crystal Pite (left) had been more ethereal, more tender.
Friday evening's was different too. Alexis Fletcher (bottom, right, alumni of Arts Umbrella) danced with James Gnam. Because of Fletcher's youth it felt like a first time kiss.
It was wonderful to watch. And it was wonderful to watch (Rebecca commented on how she liked her) this dancer, who in spite of Makaila Wallace's performance that evening as the lead in Orlando's ballet, has to be the dancer to watch in Ballet BC.
At the intermission Rebecca wandered to a small table where ballet paraphernalia was being sold. I spotted Ballet BC Founding President Jean Orr (universally adored). She always greets me with her smile and I always want to embrace and kiss her. This I did. Meanwhile Rebecca asked if I would buy her a necklace. I said no. Orr looked at me and I had to change my mind. I asked Orr, "How long was it? (without having to explain anything.)" She answered, "It felt like a two-minute one."
Realm of Her Eclipse
When I first saw the sets designed and painted by Charles Forsberg, and the way dancers quickly appeared and disappeared by what seemed to be moving doors I thought of a book I had read in my not too psychedelic youth. I saw in my head the cover (even though Max Ernst's Cocktail Drinker
does not resemble Forsberg's sets) of Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception
and Heaven and Hell.
The work set to Maurice Ravel's Piano Trio in A Minor was satisfying to me in many ways. Back in the beginning of the year I had photographed two male dancers who had never danced together before. Edmond Kilpatrick (bottom, left), Ballet BC had as yet no connection to Arts Umbrella up-and-commer Connor Gnam (bottom, right).
And here they were dancing together and if that weren't enough Gnam's brother James was there too! It was almost impossible not to stare at every move Makaila Wallace made dressed in a wondrous red outfit except every once in a while I had to contrast and compare with Alexis Fletcher. The first the sophisticated prima-ballerina-to-the-max, the second an earthy and innocent young girl who will surely mature to my future delight.
During the second intermission we rant into people who we knew and all would ask about Rebecca's teddy bear which she tightly clutched with one arm. Rebecca kept correcting them that it was not a bear but Lilly the cat.
Both Rebecca and I have a soft spot in our heart for classy and elegant Jones Henry. His name confuses my dyslexic ways but Rebecca always remembers it as Jones Henry and not as Henry Jones.
Henry (left) did not disappoint. What did disappoint was choreographer Lar Lubovitch's choice of the wrong Brubeck selection. To me Brubeck (so famous for his quartet) simply did not make my grade as a symphonic composer. Rebecca, who knows her Brubeck, agreed as we thought of the possibilities of:
1. Paul Desmond's song written when he fell for Audrey Hepburn, Audrey
2. Three to Get Ready
or Kathy's Wal
tz from Time
3. Autumn in Washington Square
from Dave Brubeck - Jazz Impressions of New York
4. The Lonesome
Road from Gone With the Wind
5. And of course anything from Rebecca's and my favourite Brubeck Jazz Impression of Eurasia.
For me this was the only work of the evening that did not satisfy as much in spite of Jones Henry.
More on that first photograph, top left. I took it in May of 2000 when Ballet BC was saluting the work of its Founding President, Jean Orr. The Georgia Straight
was writing about her. I decided I wanted to photograph her with some dancers. At the time my favourites were Emily Molnar (left) and Andrea Hodge ( right, now Ballet Mistress and Rebecca's first ballet teacher, below, left at Arts Umbrella).
It was Orr with all her past experience who said to me, "We need one more. Let's get Simone Orlando, she is beautiful." I had never noticed Orlando's quiet beauty with that superstar that Emily Molnar was at the time (in all of her 6 ft). But as I posed the four women I knew Orr was right.
Rebecca has followed Orlando's career and I once photographed them together in my studio as seen here. On Friday night I was angry that Rebecca's digital camera had dead batteries and I was not able to photograph her backstage as she chatted at length with Orlando. So yesterday I photographed Rebecca in my studio with Lilly the Cat and wearing the wonderful white dress she wore the previous day. Also in the picture is the $12 little dragonfly necklace that I purchased from Jean Orr. All in all a nice tidy ending to a wonderful weekend.Simone OrlandoLauri StallingsThat humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradise seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor, and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul. Art and religion, carnivals and saturnalia, dancing and listening to oratory - all have served, in H.G. Wells's phrase, Doors in the Wall.
The Doors of Perception - Aldous Huxley