The Polka Dot Dress
Saturday, July 05, 2008
In late 1989 Art Bergmann and I went to the Number 5 Orange
for a beer after having seen one of the worst films we had ever seen in our lives. We had gone to a pre-screening of Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders
. We had a mutual friend Michael Metcalf who was a PA and had a bit part playing a real turd. His character's name was Chief Diareah. To get rid of him and his evil associates, Bill and Mary Turd and Little Poop they were fed Exlax.
We quickly ran out of money and when our sassy, but attractive waitress, asked us if we wanted more beer I told her we had no more money.
She was wearing a white dress with black polka dots that was tight in the right places. The sight of her reminded me of the most erotic scene in films. In John Huston's 1961 The Misfits
Marilyn Monroe walks into a cowboy bar and grabs a man's paddle ball and plays it expertly as all the men go wild and count, "35, 35, 36,..." and she does not miss. The polka dots resembled the physics experiment where you draw dots on a balloon and then blow it large. The polka dots had a life all their own. So did Kelly's (our waitress).
With a sneer she asked us, "Go into your pockets and bring out what you've got." We pulled out quarters, dimes and nickles. Triumphantly she picked it all up and said, "Just enough for a pint. You boys can share it," and plunked it in the middle of our table.
I did get Kelly to come to my studio and pose for me in her polka dot dress. At the time, 1990 I was obsessed with the idea of taking pictures of women with them upside down and hanging from my studio couch (a $100 bargain from a retiring psychiatrist who even included the delivery for the price.)
I believe that the truly sophisticated would never think of turning such a picture in the other direction! Pictures that are taken upside down should be seen that way. This blog post shares a similarity with the previous one in that both feature a woman lying on her back and photographed upside down. But there is also a difference. While I met only two Tanyas I did meet four Kellys in all.
Two Tanyas & The Pastel Balkan Sobranies
Friday, July 04, 2008
I met two Tanyas in my life and both were voluptuously beautiful. The first, was called Tanya do Nascimento and I met her one evening in Santos Brazil in 1966.
The second Tanya was Tanya Blake and she posed for me in my studio and then in room 615 of the Marble Arch around 1988. The second Tanya suffered through my photographic uncertainty and a lack of purpose. How was I suppose to photograph a beautiful woman in a cheap hotel room? I was experimenting with glamour lighting. My guess is that if she suffered fools she did so silently and through her I eventually found my way.
I knew the first Tanya even less. The two young officers of the ELMA (Empresa Lineas Maritimas Argentinas) motor vessel Rio Aguapey had gone on shore leave when their ship docked to load coffee beans and machinery in the Brazilian port of Santos. I was the only passenger so I was invited to go along. We three were Argentines and thought ourselves superior to all Brazilians. We felt we were better at futbol, in sailing ships and in the conquest of women. We went to a cafe. We were soon joined by three delightful and beautiful women. The most forward of them was my first Tanya. We three looked at each other and simultaneously thought, "We are so handsome and manly that we are getting the pick of the lot." Tanya went into her handbag and produced what looked like a solid gold cigarette case. She opened it and offered us what I immediately recognized as pastel coloured , Balkan Sobranies made to order. My two officer friends were in their glory. The three ladies suggested we go dancing at a nearby cabaret. We arrived and we compared notes on our money situation. We were going to order rum. Rum is cheap in Brazil. The ladies ordered Scotch. At that point I told the two smiling officers, "We have been had, let's go before we lose all our money."
As we left we decided that Brazilian men were more worthy of our respect.
The Roof - 1205 Richards Street- We Were Young & Fun Was Fun
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I first met Malcolm Parry, editor of Vancouver Magazine
sometime in 1977 when the office was on 1008 Hornby Street. His office, on the second floor, was the largest. It was on the North West corner of the building. Looking west Mac would pick up a monocular and look into the rooms of the Century Plaza on Burrard. Sometimes he would just play a bent soprano saxophone. Looking west was a messy scene that one day was transformed when I watched James La Bounty photograph a good looking architect in a trench coat. The messy scene behind him became the Law Courts and Robson Square and the architect was Arthur Erkikson.
But later in the 70s the magazine moved to 1205 Richards corner with Davie. Across the street facing East was an industrial laundry works. The building was gleeming white. I believe that corner now houses a Choices and large condo.
Ten zero eight Hornby Street was famous for the monthly "pissups". They happened a few days after the magazine made it to the newstands. Contributors (writers, photographers and illustrators) would show up and the magazine would provide cheap vino verde, cheap beer and munchies (terrible munchies). It was here that I met writers who became better known later. Max Wyman, Ben Metcalf, Bob Hunter, Garry Marchant and a young Les Wiseman are examples.
Twelve Zero Five Richards was famous for more parties. It was here that I saw my first alcoholic punch fountain and came to understand that the Christmas issue Playboy
cartoons of office orgy parties were not all that off the mark. In one memorable occasion Mac went out to the street (in the early 80s prostitutes worked the area) and invited several ladies of the night to the festivities. I distinctly remember jumping into Mac's WV camper to go to La Bodega. One of my friends was holding hands with a prostitute. At la bodega he was sitting to my right and a another friend to my left. I told the friend on my left, "He is holding hands with her but he is much too drunk to realize that she is a man. Should I tell him?" His answer was short, "No, it's none of your business."
On Friday afternoons often some of the freelance writers would show up with beer. Sometimes this also happened on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. When Garry Marchant, the travel writer affectionately called the Gaz, visited, his pal Les Wiseman, we would go to the Blackstone (on Granville and Davie) to buy beer (it was the cheapest place). If the day was sunny the beer party would move up to the roof. On this particular day (see photographs) the party had begun at the Cecil Hotel and Wiseman and Marchant had brought back a couple of the dancers back to the magazine. Tiffany is wearing a striped top that sort of hides her extra special measurements. I had a weakness for her mouth since it reminded me of Leslie Caron's. The other dancer (who under the influence of beer did not seem to be afraid of heights and somehow could maintain her balance) is Ruby. She was friendly and efficient when she danced and Les one day told me, "She is so pleasant and nice but I think she is fated for tragedy." Perhaps he was right but we will never know. I never heard from her again. Only a week ago I was invited to a birthday party (Tiffany's) in Mapleridge where I would have met her husband and children. But I did not want to go. I did not want to tamper with my memories of that day. As we went up to the roof I took a quick picture of Mac in his office with a woman I cannot identify.
In these pictures you can see Richards street, which runs north/south. Marchant is wearing the darker shirt, Wiseman has the beard and the then brand new art director, Chris Dahl is the man in the light shirt. And that's me in the dark sunglasses.
Chantal Somebody. French name. From Quebec. One our advertising sales
representatives. Location is an advertising sales office.
Rebecca, Steer Manure, Alfalfa Meal & Magnesium Salts
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Rebecca came back from Toronto today at 10am. I had to find a reason to go and see her. My Rosemary (very Canadian) said, "She is probably too tired. We should let her be." Why must Canadians be so correct, so thoughtful and so right? And why is it that just in a situation like this can they not be just a little bit daring?
I mixed a bucket with well aged steer manure and a few handfuls of alfalfa meal mixed with a touch of epson salts (magnesium sulphate) and suggested to Rosemary that we go to Rebecca's. We did. Rebecca and I mixed in the stuff into her roses and then watered them. The manure will do its thing. The epson salts will make the plants digest the manure more easily and the alfalfa meal will promote healthy new shoots which will become next year's canes. I lent Rebecca my secateurs and warned her to be careful as she deadheaded her plants.
Rebecca's beautiful curly hair had been made straight by her Toronto aunt and she had lots of makeup. She looked lovely. After a week she looked a year older. Rosemary commented, "Why must you grow up, Rebecca?"
The secret is that both her mother (Hilary) and her father (Bruce) have already seen the latest Harrison Ford film. "Let's all go to see it I said." Hilary looked at me and said, "Yes let's all go, but if you want to take her Papi you may."
A White Rose & A White Boeing 727
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
White is not my favourite colour. Perhaps it has all to do with having had to dress in sailor whites for two long summer/springs in Buenos Aires. I had to look crisp and clean all the time. When I took the train or bus I never sat down. Buenos Aires car pollution not to mention that from the Mercedes Benz diesel buses added to the seat grime. Luckily the blue sailor collar prevented ring around the collar. I swore that if I ever survived the ordeal I would never wear bell bottoms, white pants or white shirts. During the late 60s I must admit I wore a few semi-bell bottoms. But none were white.
In photography, white shirts and dresses are a problem particularly when the resulting photograph will be reproduced in a newspaper or a magazine with lower reproduction standards. White shirts and a caucasian man's white face don't mix well and look terrible in newsprint. I invariably ask the businessmen and lawyers that I photograph to wear blue shirts. I ask the women to try not to wear white bloused but I do recommend pearls. Pearls will make the toughest female lawyer look approchable and femenine.
In my garden I have several white roses. I have Rosa
'Fair Bianca', Rosa
'Blanc double de Coubert', Rosa
'Mme Alfred Carriere', Rosa
'Gruss an Aachen' and the lovely one seen here Rosa 'Margaret Merril'. She is not an old rose but a 1978 Harkness floribunda with a very sweet smell. I have purchased three and two have died in the same spot that I insist on planting her (not very sunny). I thought I had finally lost her but today she appeared with this one bloom. I gave gotten the message and in the fall I will move her to a sunny location.
When I first saw her today I remembered many years ago (at least 32) when I had gone to the Mayan ruins of Palenque
in Chiapas, Mexico. I had spent a whole day in stifling humid heat and was attacked by mosquitoes which I kept almost at bay by constantly smoking some Flor de La Costa cigars from Veracruz. That evening I had stayed at a cheap hotel. I asked the man at the front desk to wake me up in the morning so I could take the bus to Villahermosa and not miss my Mexicana plane. The man told me he could not assure me that he would wake me up as he had nobody to wake him up. I had a wrist alarm watch but I did not trust it. I kept awake all night and took my third class bus with chickens, pigs, turkeys and native Mexicans that reeked of smoke and sweat. The bus had something like 10 forward gears. Every time it stopped to pick up a passenger (and this happened so many times I was in fear of missing my flight). Then the driver would engage all those forward gears until he reached some sort of cruising speed.
I finally arrived at the airport with a few minutes to spare. I was soothed and refreshed by the sight of the all white Mexicana de Aviacíon Boeing 727. I have never been so happy to see white. Almost as happy as I was today to see Margaret Merril.
Monday, June 30, 2008
My favourite writing pathologist, F. González-Crussi begins in The Flowers of Evil in the Garden of Biology
, a chapter from his 2004 book of essays On Being Born
Consider a man's beginnings. Before his father and mother are joined in sexual embrace, he is nothing: he does not exist. He has never been, throughout the eterniy prior to that moment. Never. But this thought, that a whole infinity had to pass before he was rescued from naught, scarcely troubles him. What he is aprehensive about, if not terrified, is death. Most of us are to a certain extent. Presumably, our fear arises from the awareness that we are to return to the nothingness whence we came. What troubles us is the going there, not the coming therefrom.
Why would it be that non-existence weighs more upon our hearts when regarded as future, than when evoked as past? It can only be because life is unidirectional, and we, who are immersed in its current, feel for what lies ahead only, not for what is left behind. We are creatures of the vital flow, which runs forward without pause, remitment, or reversal. Were it not so, we would feel appeased by considering the two immensities as equivalent: the infinite time that ran its course before my birth, and the eternity that shall flow after my death.
Sad consolation: try to soothe ourselves of the infinite time after death, with the thought of the infinite time before birth!
And yet, theoretically, we must admit that the equivalent is perfect. As Schopenhauer pompously put it, "the infinity a parte post without me cannot be any more feerful than the infinity a parte ante without me," the reason being that the two infinities are absolutely identical. If they seem distinct, he said, it is only because of the interposition of "an ephimeral life dream."
The above words hung heavy in my mind in a conversation yesterday afternoon when the fine hot day had become a cool and more pleasant one in a garden where the smell of roses wafted from all directions. Two men were talking to each other in my presence. One of them, a younger man had been at death's door and by a miracle of medicine he was alive with a future in front of him. The other talked of his long past and how he was making preparations to get rid of material posessions because of the inevitability of a soon to come death. The latter even told us of having cradled in his arms a dying artist. "His death was not a pretty sight,"
After they left I noticed how many of my pristine roses, which had given my garden visitors and I so much pleasure during the day, had faded. Petals were falling as death was setting in.
Here you see three gentlemen who have left no trace in history except their name on a rose. Below right is the gallica rose Charles de Mills
. Above and right are two Alain Blanchards
also gallicas. Top left is a fading moss rose, Rosa
The three gentlemen are fading. The originals are long gone and forgotten. They live on as roses that fade, and die too. To me these three gentlemen are maidens. Roses are all women. I would say of my modern gallica Rosa 'James Mason'
, "She is a lovely rose."
As for the two gentleman visitors to my garden I can only hope that they both live long and prosper.
The Naked Rosarian
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Today Rosemary and I have opened our garden for the Vancouver Rose Society. Lauren will be holding court from 1:30 on (she had to go to a birthday party) and we will miss Rebecca who is with her other grandmother in Toronto visiting her aunt.
When I go to the garden I feel naked unless I have my Felco (Swiss) secateurs (rose clippers) in my back pocket. It helps when I also have the new-fangled green Velcro tape, a glove for my left hand (with which I hold a thorny rose cane) and some green bamboo stakes with which I prop up the rose branches that might flop because of wind or heavy flowers. Since we rose enthusiasts are called rosarians I would say that I am a naked rosarian unless I have that Felco in my back pocket.Vancouver Rose Society