From This Side Of Death, Deadness Is More Final
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Rosemary says we should be brutal in our family picture filing.
consider the two pictures here. The negatives plus many other pictures I took on the same day are all in negative sleeves. A couple of them from this date (sometime in 1971 in Arboledas, Estado de Mexico) are in our family album. We have three family albums. One incorporates the old pictures of my family beginning around 1878, Rosemary’s picture of her family and then the pictures of us together wich span from the beggining of our relationship to our marriage, Mexico and our drive to Vancouver. There the album stops. Ale, our oldest daughter has an album as well as Hilary and both of theirs also finish in Vancouver. From that point on we live in shoe boxes and a few, the really good ones in pewter frames on our piano or framed on the wall. But the negatives and slides are all carefully filed under years in my multiple metal cabinet filing system.
Rosemary says we should pick one or two of a session and throw the rest away. I am not sure she is right. On the other hand there is a tintype of some late/middle 19th century relatives of Rosemary. She has no idea who they are. At that point we could throw it away (except for the intrinsic value of the original tintype it is). I feel that after about 100 years (and that span is getting compressed) most of us lose sight and memory of old pictures. In a not too far future, pictures in CDs might not be viewable and even if they are who will know who the people in them are?
Is it worth filing family pictures as Rosemary and I are? When we both go will our daughters chuck them into the Straight of Georgia or burn them in a fireplace? Does it matter?
As it stands here are two that I placed in our album long ago and even then I was undecided which one was the better one so I put both in. I cringe at the idea that we wore his and her identical shirts. I remember that we both wore white jeans and had some white leather high top shoes with a rubber sole that was about four inches thick. I also remember that I was the one who helped Rosemary pluck her eyebrows!
The “art work” behind I made out of lacquered wood mounted on clear Lucite. The colours were white; the bottom bar was orange and the vertical one red. I used very expensive car lacquer and I sprayed it on with a little hinged double-tube mechanism that I used to fix the pastels I made many years before when I painted and had yet to buy a camera. It was my 1970 attempt at modern art.
It is sobering to understand that my archivaly processed prints from which I scanned the images you see here will, if they survive a dunking in the Straight of Georgia or a fire, will perhaps be seen by a descendant who will stare at us, not know who we are and just throw them out. Just like perfect cannot be made more perfect, our deadness will not be more so. But from this side of death it seems even much more final.
Donde El Rey Va Solo
Friday, May 15, 2009
One of my earliest memories as a child is the bathroom. It was a large bathroom in our Buenos Aires house on Melián Street. It was a very old house shaped like an L. The short part of the L connected to the main house (living room, dining room and my parent’s bedroom began with our kitchen and beyond it was the bathroom. Since the kitchen with it old black gas stove was the warmest room in the winter I can see why the bathroom would be right next to it. It had a bidet. I did not have any idea of its purpose except at least twice I played with it and a very high pressure jet of water hit the ceiling and destroyed the plaster. I have no memory of the toilet or ever sitting on it. It could have something to do with the fact that children in school and as late as a conscript in the Argentine navy I was called Watercló. The English had left their mark in Argentina with their futbol, their tramways, trains and waterclosets. In an attempt at independent sophistication Argentines had their very English tea at Frenchified Salons de Thé
I remember being in the tub and watching my mother using an eyecup. It was a strange sort of semicircular glass device with which she cleansed or rinsed her eyes. She would look down into the device and then throw her head back. I was convinced that my mother could pop her eyeball in the cup and wash it all around.
I may have been around 8 when I began to read Pato Donald comics in the tub and discovered the only two really good places to read which is the tub and one’s bed. The toilet should never be used for reading pleasure. It is best used to rid oneself of constipation by sitting down with something very difficult to read. The distraction and concentration of reading loosens up the works.
The tub or the shower is a godsend for the gardener particular this one. I never use gloves. After a few hours of digging and putting my hands in dirt or mixing the manure with compost, my finger nails get filthy. This is when washing one’s hair is most useful. I have several good nail brushes, including a fine nylon one from Lee Valley Tools but none of them work as well in cleaning under my fingernails as washing my hair vigorously with a shampoo.
It was my Manila-born uncle, Don Luís Miranda who always seemed to have more fun than anyone else in the bathroom. He liked to work on the New York Times crossword puzzle “en donde el rey va solo
” (where the king goes alone) and he was a legend in our family for singing Gilbert & Sullivan or Puccini while showering. He sang complete arias while showering. He was thorough in his bathing procedure. This was the man who had once told me that he hated going to the beach because sand got into his shoes.
He would have been shocked to find out that I have a fondness for cold breakfast pizza in the tub. As summer approaches I know there will be some special afternoons where the sun will be just right and fracture light as it goes through our glass bathroom door knob. Rosemary prohibited me from hanging towels (especially wet ones) behind the bathroom door as in the picture here. She says that the nice white paint will peel. Luckily I took this picture. I had filed it away and discovered it yesterday. That’s Mark Budgen’s friend Aja (pronounced Asia) in Mark Budgen’s tub. I may have taken that picture about 15 years ago.
1986 Was A Good Year For Snaps & Growing Hedges
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Of late Rosemary and I have been filing our family pictures. Until Rebecca was born 11 years ago our files were loose in groups called "early 70s" or "early 80s". But as soon are Rebecca came along and then Lauren I began to take so many pictures that we have now filed them under spicific years. As we file we find pictures that I took that I forgot I took, or I simply never had the time or inclination to go down to the basement to my darkroom to print. Some of those pictures are a revelation and a joy to me.
In 1986 business was good for me. I was working for tons of magazines and there were tons of business magazines across Canada. I was working for all of them. My shrewd wife decided we should move from our comfortable townhouse in Burnaby that had a little garden. “I want to live in a nice house with a real garden,” she told me. She made us move to our present location on Athlone Street in Kerrisdale in 1986. In 1986 I was yet to be jaded by the idea that I should only take pictures for money. So I took quite a few pictures of my daughters Hilary and Ale. The picture of our house shows it in a very early stage when we still had not worked on the garden. We were completely ignorant. Ale had a boyfriend who had a farm in Ladner. He brought us a pile of horse manure one day. I actually, in complete ignorance, manured the laurel hedge you see here not knowing he work that lay ahead to prune it. That hedge wraps around on the right and goes halfway down the boulevard. As my Spanish grandmother would have said, “Ignorance is daring.”
The picture of Hilary (in b+w) has her on the wooden floor of the living room. Next to her was our first Canadian cat, Gaticuchi. Hilary looks beautiful and relaxed. I photographed Ale in Hawaii. We seemed to have some extra money to travel there.
The two girls are gone. Many of the conifers in the picture died of root rot and old age. One thing has not changed. Even though I am now smart enough to never fertilize that laurel hedge, it grows! I will have to tackle it in about a week and it will take about three days using hand sheers. Electric hedge clippers leave a mess as the laurel hedge’s branches are tough and the cuts are not true. The result is messy. I hate the job but I don’t think I would want to return to Burnaby. Rosemary has always been right.
From The Left & From The Right
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Warning! What is below could be seen as a mild political rant. Do not proceed unless you are partial to rants from citizen/amateur nonentities.
A day after our provincial elections I was lucky to find a photograph sent to me by writer Kerry McPhedran in 1986. The photo, taken by Glen Erikson is of your blogger with the founder and editor of Equity Magazine
, Harvey Southam. I have written about Southam before here
. But I simply had not pictures of him. He asked me to photograph his mother, his wife and even one of his children but I never pointed my camera at him.
When I went to his memorial service (he died by his own hand in 1992) at Christ Church Cathedral I went for one single reason. I wanted to be present at a place that I thought would represent an end of era. Most of those in the church were white and the minister spoke of summer holidays at the Southam house in Qualicum. Even today a visit to Qualicum is a visit to what now seems to be an uncomplicated past.
There are some of my friends who did not get along with Southam. There are some who say he was nasty to them. I never saw that side of the man. He was always kind and pleasant to me and he indulged me when I wanted to take unconventional photographs for his business magazine. With Southam I met the real decision makers of our city and province. He had access to all of them.
An event in 1991 should have given me an indication of things to come. NDP MLA candidate David Schreck defeated Liberal Floyd Sully in North Vancouver-Lonsdale. In 1992 the Liberals were liberals in the real meaning of the word. Few now will remember or realize that the BC Liberals are really a re-named Social Credit Party. Our Provincial Liberal Party is a conservative party but few will point that out.
I had an admiration for Southam because as a man who had all to gain by keeping the establishment as it was, he had a couple of columnists write on the same theme every month. On the left page was Floyd Sully’s From the Left
and on the right there was From the Right
with George Froehlich. I do not remember the name of the conservative writer. In those years, the late 80s I would turn to Vancouver Magazine’s
last page to read Sean Rossiter’s 12th and Cambie
. It was all about city politics but also of subjects dealing, as an example, the engineer who was designing left turn bays at traffic lights or what it was like to check in at the venereal disease clinic. From Vancouver Magazine
I would then go to Equity
and read From the Left
and From the Right
. It was always entertaining.
It was also Southam who started the strings of articles that eventually did in the Vancouver Stock Exchange. He hired Adrian du Plessis to write a cover article on the dubious shenanigans of the exchange.
Southam was a man of his times. When I told him that Alderman Bill Yee would make an excellent ethnic city mayor he told me, “Not while I am around.”
A few weeks before he died in 1992 I went to Toronto to look for work with national magazines. I called up Southam’s company around 6 in the afternoon. He answered the phone. We had a couple of cokes near his office and he was as gracious as ever with me.
As I look back to the man, I realize that journalism’s strict sense of ethics has been in a decline. It was only three or four weeks ago that an “entertainment/arts” article in our local big daily had an article in which the executive director of a theatre company interviewed a theatrical director of the company. There was no byline and no explanation. Most of those who are under 30 would perhaps not catch the lapse in journalistic ethics. I have heard rumours of other publications that strongly suggest that buying an ad will guarantee editorial content. Times are tough but there is such a thing as right and wrong. Southam knew that difference and his magazine, gone all these years, looks better and better to me.
When our Liberals are really conservatives how is a voter supposed to know how to vote? A solution is to distance oneself from the “center/right/from left/ but not so much to the left as to the right of the centre” and to clearly call a spade a spade. The NDP could do worse than:
1. A gutsy renaming of the party to the NLP (New Left Party)
2. A milder renaming to The Canadian Democratic Party or CDP. There is absolutely nothing new about that N in the NDP.
With the Commies now the most avaricious and nasty capitalists (we are living the new Dickensian times), what is wrong with being from the left? There is a newness there!
Equity art director, Randy C Pearsall did not want to have any problems with the police. We did not paint the nearby wall to the Vancouver Stock Exchange. He had some transfers made. He carefully stuck them on the wall, I took the picture and we left with no incident.
I Conversed With You In A Dream
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I consider myself to be both priviledged list and extremely lucky to get the occasional invitation to watch a choreographer's work in progress. It is interesting to see the beginning and intermediate steps (in some cases raw steps) that lead to a finished and polished choreographic work. These works in progress come with explanations, reasons and what inspired them. In the case below choreographer Simone Orlando's talk (she was elegantly dressed to kill!) was preceded by high praise from Ballet BC Artistic Director John Alleyne who also explained how the grant in question works. There was an additional surprise. Her name is Jocelyn Morlock.
Dear Ballet BC Supporter,
You are invited to attend a FREE, informal showing of a new work by Ballet BC member and choreographer Simone Orlando created through a Fellowship Initiative Grant from the New York Choreographic Institute.
The process, which began on April 20, culminates with this post-work presentation at the Scotiabank Dance Centre on Monday evening. This innovative new work features Ballet BC company dancers Makaila Wallace, Jones Henry, Connor Gnam, Maggie Forgeron, and Leon Feizo-Gas.
WHEN: MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009 @ 5:30pm
WHERE: SCOTIABANK DANCE CENTRE - THE FARIS STUDIO
677 Davie Street Vancouver
This is an open-invitation event, so please feel free to bring and invite friends.
"Ballet BC has been awarded a Fellowship Initiative grant from the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of New York City Ballet, to support the development of new choreography in a studio setting. The choreographer will be Simone Orlando. Peter Martins, Founder and Artistic Director of the Institute states: 'The Fellowship is meant to help ballet companies to create an environment in which a choreographer can develop ideas without the pressure of stage production. The Institute is committed to classical choreographers who will be creating works for the future."
Lauren, Rebecca and I arrived early so that we could sit up front centre. At the Farris Studio this means that your feet are on the dance floor. Rebecca no longer has to explain to anybody, as I do, that we like to hear dancer's gasp for air and see the sweat on their bodies. We did manage to sit in that front row but not before I greeted young Vancouver new music composer Jocelyn Morlock. I could not figure out why she was there. Then I spotted trombonist and co-director of the Turning Point Ensemble, Jeremy Berkman and in another area of the studio composer Owen Underhill who is the musical director of the Turning Point Ensemble
. I was intrigued. Lauren was dead serious staring at the five Ballet BC dancers who were warming up (one of the nice extras of being in a work-in-progress situation).
, above centre, set us straight when she mentioned that her ballet was based on two pieces of music. One was Antonin Dvorak's Piano Trio in E Minor, Op 90 "Dumky" (1891) and the other (aha!) Jocelyn Morlock's I Conversed With You In A Dream. Morlock's work is inspired by Sappho's fragmentary poems. It is a duo for flute and piano. The version we heard was with pianist Rachel Iwaasa and flutist Mark McGregor, below right.
The Dvorak piece had lots of classical ballet which contrasted so nicely with Morlock's music as Orlando incorporated more modern ballet into her dancer's movements. Complicating matters rather nicely, Orlando could only use five dancers, so many of them (in a work full of Greek gods and godesses) played more than one god. Jones Henry
seen here with Rebecca and Lauren played both Zeus and Hephaestus (god of fire and especially the blacksmith's fire).
My girls behaved. The afternoon was most pleasant. My only regret, while watching dancer Makaila Wallace, was to wonder why I have never had the opportunity to photograph her. She is Vancouver's epitome of the classical ballerina (but so sumptuously well shaped, nonetheless!) now that Andrea Hodge has retired from active dancing.
Cocktails For Three & Bananas At The Dinner Table Part II
Monday, May 11, 2009
My godmother and first cousin, Inesita O'Reilly Kuker has been in my thoughts of late. I wrote most recently about her here
She has been in my thoughts for several reasons. One of them is that she did get the audio book I sent her mentioned in the above link. She was delighted and it seems she has listened to the book twice.
The whole odyssey of trying to solve my godmother's reading problem began a few months ago when she went on a vacation to her apartment in Punta del Este, Uruguay. She returned and soon after her son Georgito arrived to pick her up to take her for a weekend family gathering. He was shocked. Her face was all black and blue and her eyes were bloodshot. The independent soul that Inesita (she is 85) is prevented her from telling anybody that she had fallen in Uruguay. Her son took her to see a doctor who confirmed that she had a blood spill in her eyes. He injected her eyes and told her it would take at least 6 months to regain her full vision.
Most of my other cousins told me I should mind my own business and that Inesita did not need to read. It would seem that even though they live in the same city with her (Buenos Aires) they don't know how important reading can be for someone, or how important it is to read in one's chosen language. One of my cousins told me to get her a subscription to a large print Reader's Digest
. For once diplomacy ruled and I did not bother to tell her that Inesita would never read Reader's Digest
in any form be it small or large print.
As I have often written here Inesita would have been categorized by my mother as "gente fina". It is as difficult to translate as the Spanish word educación
. The primary meaning of this word is a combination of well-mannered/good upbringing and poise. Gente fina adds to the mix a bit of knowledge of the arts and the person would have to be well read. Inesita, as gente fina
would never acknowledge liking or reading the Reader's Dige
st. And that was exactly the case when I told her, jokingly, that I might get her that subscription. "Don't even think of it."
In Vancouver I admire those in the modern and ballet dance community because I can say with almost no exception that the majority that I have met have this poise, this presence that my mother so often told me was a rare thing. I would have liked my mother to notice that I am trying to make Rebecca and Lauren, gente fina
. So we go to dance and theatre and I coach them on table manners!
Today I went to the main post office and mailed Pride and Prejudice
read by Jenny Agutter, Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn
read by Samantha Bond (Pierce Brosnan's Miss Moneypenny) and Angela’s Ashes
read by the author, Frank McCourt. I wish I could be there when they get to her.
The other reason that I have been thinking of Inesita is that this Friday I will have Willoughby Blew and his wife Chris for dinner. They live in Florida and they are going on an Alaska Cruise. Willoughby Blew is my first cousin. As a young man in the Argentine navy I had a crush on his sister Elizabeth. Rebecca has met my three Buenos Aires cousins, Inesita, Diane and Elizabeth. With Willoughby the list will be complete (there were four more but they died) and when she grows up she might remember enough to keep our family story going.
I told Willoughby I was going to make a cheese fondue. This was his reply:Dear George,
As you can well imagine we are in your hands when it comes down to deciding where to eat in Vancouver. Either the restaurant (Next) you recommend or the fondue dinner at your home are fine with us and we will leave the final decision up to you. Whatever is easiest and best for all is OK with us.
I'm assuming your fondue is made with equal parts of Gruyere, Ementhaler and Appenzeller cheeses complemented with Neuchatel wine, kirsch, black pepper, nutmeg and garlic. I remember eating cheese fondue practically on a daily basis when I lived in Zurich back in 1969. I just could not get enough of it.
How on earth do you know it will be a rainy day in Vancouver on Friday, May 15? I know that the law of probabilities says it will probably rain but then "the exception makes the rule".
Rosemary is in a bit of a panic as she thinks Willoughby is some sort of perfectionist. Consider what he said of the wine I was planning to serve:Dear George,
The Hayward "bug" is among us but has never deprived me from enjoying a good glass of wine. Moderation is the word.
The taste of "green grapes" you refer to when you drink a Torrontés is exactly what makes this wine similar to a Gewutztraminer from Alsace. Some people love this flavour and some hate it.
Bodegas Etchart, also from Cafayate, Salta makes a very good Torrontés called "Etchart Privado". I have not seen this wine in the US for some time now. This may be the "reserva Especial" you referred to.
Given that you will drink wine in moderation if it is a Torrontes and given that we have now settled on having your famed fondue would you like me to bring a couple of bottles of whatever Torrontés is available at your local Government store.? A simple yes or no will do.
Manzanilla of course is a sherry and therefore somewhat higher in alcohol than most still wines. I was rather shocked to read (three times) that you pour your half bottle of San Lucar de Barrameda Manzanilla into a soup bowl to drink. Most folks find that a small glass of this sherry makes for a good aperitif. I have never heard of anyone drinking it by the bowlful but then, cada loco con su tema. So much for the Hayward "bug".
Rosemary's Pavlova with dulce de leche sounds wonderful and dietetic to boot.
We are also looking forward to our reunion.
Because I insist in calling Willoughby by his middle name, James, he calls me by my first name, George. I look forward to our family dinner. One of the toasts will surely be to another "gente fina" and that's Inesita our first cousin.
The James Bond Girl
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I have not always succeeded in maintaining a distance with my students but I try very hard. At a couple of schools where I teach photography I tell my students that if they want to communicate with me they can forward me e-mails through the school administrator. Only last week a female student asked me if she could address me as “Sir Alex”.
In years past phone numbers were either more difficult to get or easier. Most people were in the phone book unless the number was unlisted. Now, with many having cellular phones, that phone number is hard to get. But if one has a web page (and I have one) my students can find either my phone or a method of e-mail communication called contact submission.
I would further define our age of instant communication as an age of quick intimacy. I blog and in it I write personal stuff. Students call me Alex instead of Mr. Hayward. For years in Mexico I addressed my students as Mr. or Miss. This idea is pretty well gone unless you are in a Canadian Armed forces boot camp.
So I had to give it much thought when a part-time student (over 20) waited until the last class to ask me if I would photograph her. I run photography as a business and I cannot reject work simply because I might have an over-sensitive concept of what a teacher student relationship should be. Technically when she came to my studio she was no longer my student.
My James Bond girl was a European woman who lived in Vienna. She sat in the front row of my photography class and I don’t think she ever wore the same pair of exquisite shoes twice. In my mind she was a James Bond girl. She looked like a James Bond girl, she dressed to kill and seemed to live a jet-set life (I define here jet set in the old term when flying was exciting and sexy). To top it all she was a good photographer.