Steve Whysall Impresses The Natives With MagicWednesday, April 14, 2010
It was sometime in mid 1962 that I first heard, on the radio, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s album Jazz Samba. The sound was as fresh, as new and as fantastic as I ever heard. I went to my local Mexico City supermarket (and yes, they sold not only records but had an excellent jazz section) and feasted my eyes on that beautiful record cover with the oranges the yellows and the whites. I bought it and took it home. I impatiently removed the cellophane wrap. Listening to it was complete and instant happiness. To this day I can still feel that thrill every time I play it.
In the late 70s I would tell Rosemary that I absolutely needed to buy a 140mm macro lens for my Mamiya RB. Rosemary without completely understanding my photographic needs was always supportive, “If this will help you in what you do, get it, by all means.” So I sent a money order (there was no international on-line buying yet!) to a New York camera store and I impatiently waited for weeks for my lens to arrive. I remember paying some sort of import duty at the main post office and then I was given a brown cardboard box. Inside was a beautiful and shiny box (as only the Japanese knew how to make) and when I opened it there was my lens in all its glory. I felt that excitement that now all was possible with my camera equipped with such a lens.
Now in 2010, on a Thursday, April 12 (I am posting yesterday's blog today) my cameras and my other photographic equipment show the signs of extreme wear. I can use them without even looking at them. They are part of me. But somehow there is no excitement. I own everything I need to take a good photograph. No new gadget will improve on what I know how to do.
It may have been about three years ago that Rosemary and I ran into Steve Whysall at VanDusen. He said to us, “I want to show you something.” He removed a device from his shirt pocket and on the small screen. An image appeared. He then magically made it bigger with the tips of his fingers and then made it go away to replace it with another brilliant picture of a plant from his garden. The show went on. We were mesmerized.
Rosemary’s mouth was open and there was a rare smile on her face. I felt like an Amazon jungle native with a blow gun in my hand watching magic. The device that Whysall had in his hand, held the promise of a Jazz Samba, a 140mm macro lens, a brand new Nikon FM-2.
I pay about $50 a month for my ancient cellular phone. It works as a phone and it even has a wire headset that in an emergency enables me to answer the phone in the car. I do not pay extra for call display and I ignore my primitive phones strange ability to connect into the internet and to accept and send texting. I do not even have the phone programmed for numbers that I call a lot.
I know that I can secure a three year contract with Telus, pay $99 to purchase an iPhone and still only pay $50 a month.
I am tempted. Do I need a gadget? Will it make my life a better one? It’s not like I am going to receive an anxious phone call from a New York City art director proposing to send me to New Guinea to shoot some portraits. If the phone rings it will be Rosemary or Hilary or my friend Ian.
I am tempted. I called up Whysall today and asked him what that device was that he was so proud of. “It was an early iTouch that I had purchased in Chicago. I now have the opportunity to get rid of my old phone and get an iPhone. If I do this I will not need the iTouch as the iPhone does have a camera which the other device does not. I don’t need two gadgets.”
Perhaps an iPhone is what I need to re-live that first moment when Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd played that magical Desafinado. And I can even find it in that iPhone on Youtube and play it and make believe I hear it for the first time. Is that possible? Will it work? Does a 67 year-old need a new gadget?