The Lilies Of The Field
Saturday, April 11, 2009
The Elysian fields were the home of the blessed in the afterlife of the Greeks. These fields were carpeted with a type of flower the Greeks called asphodelos
. Some scholars believe that it is the origin of the English daffodil
. For me what is interesting is that the botanical name for the daffodil is Narcissus
. The story is that when Narcissus drowned while gazing at his beautiful countenance, daffodils grew near the spot. Certainly not in the water as daffodils hate to be waterlogged. The daffodil is supposed to have a powerful narcotic. Both narcotic and narcissus have the same prefix root.
Yesterday I tried to identify the origin of the biblical term “the lilies of th
In my Catholic The New American Bible
( The Rembrandt Edition, beautifully illustrated with Rembrandt’s paintings and sketches) I found this in Matthew 6: 28 – 34:
As for clothes why be concerned? Learn a lesson from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work; they do not spin. Yet I assure you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed like one of these. If God can clothe in such splendor the grass of the field, which blooms today and is thrown on the fire tomorrow, will he not provide much more for you, O weak in faith!
My father’s American Society King James Bible is more forthcoming:
And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
What is interesting is that both bibles mention the grass. We who are botanically literate know that corn, wheat, barley and most other grains are grasses in which man selected the plants that had the larger seeds or bred it for grain size.
We know the story of the angel “flying over” the homes of the Hebrews in Egypt in reference to the Passover. The Hebrews were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term "passover".
I found another relevant link. Pascua
is Spanish for Easter. The origin of the word is from the Latin pastus
or grass. My RAE (Real Academia Española) dictionary further explains that grass was used to break the fast. The Jews use unleavened bread (made from glorified grass?) during the Passover. Furthermore the Jewish feast of Passover is pascua
It is higher mathematics to try to explain to anybody as to how the Catholic Church determines when Easter falls each year. It is far easier to understand that the first Easter happened to fall in Passover. It was because Christ and His disciples had their last supper (not because they would not again break bread with him) but simply because it was the last supper before the Passover began. This was explained to me so many years ago by Brother Edwin Reggio CSC and I like the neatness and the order of that initial synchronicity.
As for the Easter lilies of the field it is mostly a marketing ploy as the original Easter lily is Lilium longiflorum
, native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan. The only lily-like plant that grows in the Holy Land is the narcissus. Thus I can safely illustrate this blog with a couple of very nice daffodils from our garden. Rosemary planted these around the early 90s in our outside back lane garden. This is the first time I have ever stopped to smell them. At first I thought they smelled like my kitchen spice drawer. Then I pulled spices out, one by one, and it was mace that most resembled the smell of our daffodils.
Sky Blue Over Rust - High Noon In Detroit
Friday, April 10, 2009
Hunter was in the blue Plymouth standing at the hospital entrance. He turned the key as Raymond got in…held the key, his foot pressing the accelerator, but the car wouldn’t start. It gave them an eager, relentless, annoying sound, as though it was trying, but the engine refused to fire… Hunter said, “Fucking car…”…"Drive this piece of shit, you know why they’re fucking going out of business.” The engine caught and Hunter said, “I don’t believe it.”
City Primeval – High Noon in Detroit, Elmore Leonard, 1980
Clement bought a ten-shot .22 Ruger automatic rifle, a regular $87.50 value for $69.95, and a box of .22 longs at K-mart in the Tel-Twelve Mall. He went over to the typewriter counter and asked the girl if he could try one. She said sure and gave him a sheet of notepaper. Clement pecked away for a minute, using his index fingers, pulled the notebook paper out of the Smith-Corona and took it with him. He saw a black cowboy hat he liked, put it on and walked out with it…down a block to Red Bowers Chevrolet where Sandy Stanton was wandering around the used car lot in her high-heel boots and tight jeans.
She saw him coming wit the black hat on, carrying the long cardboard box sticking out of the K-mart sack and said, “Oh my Lord, what have you got now?”
He told her it was a surprise and Sandy brightened. “For me?” Clement said not, for somebody else. He looked around at the rows of “Fall Clean-up Specials” and asked her is she’d picked one out. Sandy led him to a Pontiac Firebird with a big air scoop and the hood flamed in red and gold, sunlight flashing on the windshield.
“Isn’t it a honey? Looks like it eats other cars right up.” Clement said, “Sugar, I told you I want a regular car. I ain’t gonna street race, I ain’t gonna hang out at the Big Boy; I just need me some wheels in your name till things get a little better. Now here’s seven one-hundred-dollar bills, all the grocery money till we get some more. You buy a nice car and pick me up over there – if I can make it across Telegraph without getting killed – where you see that sign? Ramada Inn? I’ll be there having a cocktail.”
Sandy got him a ’76 Mercury Montego, sky blue over rust, with only forty thousand miles on it for six-fifty plus tax and Clement said, “Now you’re talking.”
A boy who was born on an oil lease and traveled in the beds of pickup trucks till he was twelve years old would be likely to have dreams of Mark VIs and Eldorados. Not Clement. He had driven, had in his possession for varying periods of time in his life, an estimated 268 automobiles, all makes and models, counting the used ’56 Chevy four-barrel he’d bought when he was seventeen and the used TR-3 he’d bought one time when he was feeling sporty; all the rest he stole. Clement said cars were to get you from here to there or a way of picking up spending money. If you wanted to impress somebody, open their eyes, shit, stick a nickel-plate .45 in their mouth and ear back the hammer.
City Primeval – High Noon in Detroit, Elmore Leonard, 1980
Thursday, April 09, 2009
When my Mexican painter friend David Merino visited me in the garden one long ago summer afternoon he was suddenly hit by sun from behind. I told him not to move and brought my large flash from the inside and adjusted it with a narrow grid. “You look like Moses coming down from the mountain after having seen God.” His expression was so out of character as Merino is so quiet spoken that he speaks in whispers. He is gentle. He paints with the ochres, browns, yellows and reds of his native Mexico. They are the colours of the mountains in the dry season. They are colours that I miss in Vancouver with all those greens, blues and grays.
But the picture also reminds me of a short story by Julio Cortazar called La Noche Boca Arriba
(The Night Face Up). This is the ending of the story in my loose translation:But he could smell death, and when he opened his eyes he saw the bloody figure of the sacrificing priest who came towards him with a stone knife in hand. He managed to close his eyelids again, although he now knew he was not going to wake up. He was awake. That wonderful dream had been another, absurd as all dreams. A dream in which he had been moving through strange avenues of an astounding city, with red lights and green lights which burned without smoke. He had been on an enormous metal insect that had buzzed below and between his legs. In the infinite lie of the story they had also raised him from the floor, and also someone had approached with a knife in hand while he was lying with his face up, to him face up with his eyes closed among the bonfires.
Lumps To The Throats Of Strong Men
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Down in Japanese town, you have to watch were you step. As you stand in a corner store at Powell and Dunlevy, waiting to buy a pack of cigarettes, a guy in navy blue eye bags and pinstripe nose will engage you in a one-sided conversation on the hopelessness of trying to get a job if you have been in the "joint" for the past six months. You offer him a couple of smokes, holding the door open as a long-haired fellow about 35 and legless, wheels his way past. Cheryl Ladd, peering up from the glossy cover of TV and Movie Star Parade
, smiles cleanly unaware of this side of the tracks.
Across the street, the amateurishly drawn green-and-orange silhouette of a woman beckons you through the Marr hotel's butcher block door. Inside, in the dark, Kiss's thunderous heavy metal music drowns out your depressed maunderings. In the center of the room, swathed in red and blue stage lights, a tall, slim woman with soft brown hair down to her thighs, sways and sashays about the stage. Her face: the fragile cheekbones of a high fashion model. Her expression: serene, with the frail ethereal melancholia that brings lumps to the throats of strong men.
You fumble for a seat, and a heavy pint glass of cold, frothing beer is set in front of you. Fishing a deuce from your pocket and waving the waiter out of your field of vision, you sip through the frosty foam, all thoughts of the ugliness beyond these walls a vaguely remembered chimera. You relax, and bless the day you were born.
Les Wiseman, Vancouver Magazine, March 1982
All I can add to the above is that Samantha Rae usually danced ever so slowly and she would look at you straight in the face with that unfathomable almost-smile of hers. And she made
Roxy Music's Avalon
all her own.
An Error As Creative Deliberation
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
There is an indescribable loneliness in not being able to find a kindred artistic spirit. At one time I could have called any number of people and asked them, “Let’s go and take some pictures.” Or I could count on my Argentine friends (now sadly gone) Nora Patrich and Juan Manuel Sanchez to participate in joint artistic projects.
When the urge gets unbearable, I break down and pick up a camera. I go out to take pictures. My swivel lens panoramic Noblex is a complex instrument. Because I don’t use it with regularity I forget the whole process of correctly loading it with film. The pictures here which I took on a cold winter morning in February at the CN Train Station are the product of such errors. One of the pictures is not the full sweep while the other shows a truncation caused by a flattening roller that was underneath as opposed to over the film.
I like the look. In photography it is crucial to know how an error was made so that one can then repeat it with all creative deliberation.
Portia Winters & My Head On A Platter No More
Monday, April 06, 2009
A rare arts assignment to photograph baritone Greer Grimsley who is to appear in the Vancouver Opera’s production of Strauss’ Salome had me thinking. I am to photograph the man in a special effects studio where they are going to make a life mask from which they will then model St John the Baptist’s ( Jokanaan in the opera) severed head. It would seem that since time immemorial man (as in politically incorrect “the male of the species”) has been ready to give up just about anything to see a woman undraped.
That the current play by the Electric Theatre Company
and presented by the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, Studies in Motion – The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge
has not created any obvious stir of shock or at least a stream of salacious blogs or letters to the editor (and it is a terrific play which I have seen three times) has something to say about the current state of affairs between man (the male of the species) and his forsaking of the enjoyment of the undraped female form. The play has a cast of 11 (about 60% men) and all undrape fully. If you sit on the front row you can dispense with the binoculars.
If anybody had told anybody in Vancouver that our fair city would one day not be known for its excellent strippers, its squeaky clean strip bars and that by 2009 there would only be three strip bars left within city limits they would have not been believed. But that is a fact that strip bars are all but gone and the B-lineup St Regis is now a luxury boutique hotel! Who would have known? I don’t frequent the strip bars. It is not really my sudden shame at liking something that is a bit frowned upon by civilized society.
It is more about being 67 and I am losing interest. The idea of a good book, a large mug of tea and bed in the evening is far more an attractive idea than lounging at a bar looking at women take their clothes off. But what do all those young men do these days? Watch pornography on their computers?
It will always be the same that things were better then than now. Punk music then was real punk music. Now it is derivative and imitation punk music. Strippers then danced. Strippers now take their clothes off, period.
I am sure that I am wrong on all counts and there must be many dancers of note. I know of one who was a ballet dancer before she switched to nude pole dancing. When I last saw her a couple of years ago she was the best pole dancer in the province.
Perhaps my lack of excitement is that the age difference between dancers and this old man becomes a gulf. It was in the late 79s that Vancouver Magazine
assigned me to take pictures of women wearing eyewear from boutique frame stores. The art director, Rick Staehling asked me, “The models you used are most unusual. Where did you get them?” I fudged the answer as I did not have the heart to tell him that I had picked my favourite exotic dancers and I had enjoyed giving them their checks for modeling with their clothes all on.
It was at Tony Ricci’s Marble Arch
that I could walk in and sit by the bar and talk in Spanish to Jorge the barman. He would offer free drinks but I always had soda water. I felt like Humphrey Bogart walking into a bar. Jorge and Tony made me feel special.
But it was at Tony’s Number 5 Orange in May 1990 that I felt king for a day. I had been assigned by Equity Magazine
to take pictures for an article called Sex Sells. Having been convinced through the years by Malcolm Parry to seek the privileged view in all things I knew what I wanted. Parry defines the privileged view more like what you see when you look down as opposed to what you see looking up.
Anybody (of the legal age) can enter a strip club. At the Number 5 Orange Street the tradition has been to see the fully dressed woman step down to the dance floor on a lit Lucite ladder that connects to the roof. As Mac would have said, “Anybody can watch her come down. But to be up there and watch her go down, that would be special.”
I asked Tony if I could take pictures in the dressing room. He smiled, “Anything you want, Alex and I’ll have Daniele accompany you up to make it easier for you.” Daniele was simply one of the most gorgeous women I ever met in my life. Up we went.
I decided I would photograph the whole routine of one dancer. I was in luck because Portia Winters was up there so I took many pictures of the process. I learned one interesting fact about strip bars of those years. There were traveling male hairdressers who did hair for the dancers. One was there to fix up Portia. Remembering Mac Parry I managed to photograph Portia going down the golden stairs.
The best moment of the day came when I finished and Danielle (Kimberly)
and I went down to the bar. Daniele had well toned arms and helped me with my heavy lights. My friend Sean Rossiter happened to be in the bar and when he saw me and my assistant and, where we were coming from he just about collapsed with wonder. He has never allowed me to forget the day. Not that I would.
Eberhard Heinrich Zeidler's Tension Cables
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Eberhard Heinrich Zeidler O.C., O.Ont. ( January 11, 1926 in Germany) is a Canadian architect. He studied at the Bauhaus, Weimar, Germany, and the Technische Hochschule, Karlsruhe, Germany. Zeidler immigrated to Canada in 1951 and formed his first partnership with Blackwell and Craig of Peterborough, Ontario. He later went on to create a new firm, Zeidler Roberts Partnership/Architects in Toronto, and offices in Washington, London, Berlin, and West Palm Beach, Florida.
I met up with architect Eberhard Heinrich Zeidler sometime in 1986 when I went to photograph him for Equity Magazine
. I was accompanied by editor Harvey Southam who told me, "You will like this man. He will remind you of Vernher von Braun. He is crazy about these tension wires that keep the roof of his new Canada Place up." I remember that lighting the man was a bit of a nightmare but he was pleasant and patient. Since 1986 I think that Zeidler's Canada Place has served us well. The "sails" became one of the symbols of our city. I believe that there is nothing iconic about the new Vancouver Convention Centre billed as the largest waterfront convention centre in Canada.
As I look back (people tell me that this has become an obsession) it seems to me that if one could transport the Vancouver Museum and Planetarium via the Star Treck transporter to the waterfront it would become a Vancouver icon with our sails. The new convention centre with its large green roof will add nothing memorable to our waterfront. They should have contacted Eb Zeidler. He would have come up with something that would have put us on the map. The new convention centre will just cement the idea abroad that we Canadians are boring.