The Black Celica
Saturday, October 09, 2010
My Argentine countrymen are supposed to be polite and the men are gentlemen. So wrote my mother in her nostalgic poems
about the Buenos Aires she loved. But she did reveal to me that she used to wear a girdle when she rode the Buenos Aires colectivos (buses). This was an astounding revelation as my mother had a beautiful body and legs to kill for. She confessed to me that the purpose of the girdle was to thwart the Argentine gentlemen who would pinch her bottom while standing in the full bus.
A La Nación
Newspaper census in the middle 60s revealed that there were more Argentine gentlemen in the summer than in the winter riding buses. Well, anad most were standing up. The incidence of men ceding their seats to young ladies who would be standing in the summer was overwhelming. The census revealed that in the summer, Argentine women were especially noted for wearing little because of the extreme humidity and heat of a city so near to the River Plate. These women would wear dresses that showed lots of cleavage and many forfeited bras to the heat. This explained why men stood up. From up there they could look down there.
In this age of pornography I bask in the idea that straight eroticism has its place. With my body’s plumbing system and associated works not working all too well at age 68 I would like to point out that the ancillary nervous system that sees to those functions is working properly. My imagination is just fine, thank you.
I remember that in kindergarten, the famous Argentine Dilligenti quintuplets were in my class. They were two boys and three girls. I liked the girls a lot and I can distinctly remember, at that tender age, of lifting up their skirts to peek. I was never caught. I wonder what would happen in the atmosphere of Vancouver’s school system right now if a kindergarten boy were to repeat my lapse into curiosity of the sexual kind.
In Mexico City in the mid 50s and later in the early 60s it was pleasant to sit by the window seat in buses and to look down on cars being driven by women. I could peak at their legs, and more so, when in the 60s the miniskirt came into vogue.
I would sometimes ride the bus with my grandmother who upon spying some young woman with crossed legs in the bus or on a park bench, showing more leg than what was considered decent she would say to me, “Fíjate, esa mujer esta fotografiando,” “Look Alex that woman is photographing.”
In this 21st century where you can think of any person, animal, place or thing and realize that there will be a pornographic version of it, I glory in my own realization that pleasant cleavage, nice legs, an arresting face, a nice turn of neck, beautiful hair, can all be much more satisfying than the stuff that demands one check in one’s credit card.
As proof of it I display here some of the many pictures I took one lazy and hot summer afternoon in Queen Elizabeth Park of a young lady and her black Toyota Celica.
I am almost sure that I have posted some of these pictures here in one of my blogs. My blog has a most efficient search engine but even though I inserted, black car, Toyota, Toyota Celica and the woman’s name I was not able to find that post. If any of you out there do remember, just ignore this one, although I would like to point out that, this time around, there are more images to peruse and to enjoy. And you can keep that credit card in your wallet.
Since there is no way of contradicting my statements here, I assert that these images are in extremely elegant good taste. The world needs more of this. And would you know that the Sunday New York Times
had an article in its Style Section that precipitated this blog. It is Sex on the run? No, We parked
Facebook - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's Noosphere - Not
Friday, October 08, 2010
Photograph at right by Philippe Halsman
In 1969 I read Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man
. It pretty well changed my life as this man’s thinking, as complex as many would say it is, is far more accessible than for example, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media
or Herbert Marcuse's One Dimentional Man
. Teilhard de Chardin’s argument of the onward an upward complexity of evolution towards thought meshed with some of the wonder I had experienced when years before I had understood the calculus and thus whence the volume of cone (Chardin uses the slicing of a cone to demonstrate the upward path of evolution toward thought) or the development of ballistics had all come from. The calculus and Teilahard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man
gave me those indelible moments in one’s life that we call an “aha!” moment.
In the chapter, the Birth of Thought, Teilhard de Chardin writes:
There can indeed be no doubt that, to an imaginary geologist coming one day far in the future to inspect our fossilized globe, the most astounding of the revolutions undergone by the earth would be that which took place of the beginning of what has so richly been called pyschozoic era. And even today, to a Martian capable of analyzing sidereal radiations psychically no less that physically, the first characteristic of our planet would be, not the blue of the seas or the green of the forests, but the phosphorescence of thought.
This phosphorescence of thought Teilhard de Chardin dubbed the noosphere and he defined it as “thought enveloping the world.”
Many now believe that the French Jesuit, who was told by the church that he could not publish any of his works until he was dead, predicted and defined the world wide web.
The portrait you see here was taken by the great Latvian photographer Philippe Halsman. Of the portrait Halsman wrote in his book Halsman – Portraits:
In 1950 a woman phoned and asked me to photograph her friend, a Jesuit priest; she wanted to offer him his portrait as a present. Thus, without realizing it, I met one of the most important persons of our time, the brilliant scientist/priest who strongly influenced the ecumenical change in the Roman Catholic Church.
Aristocratic-looking and exuding intelligence, he made an indelible impression on me with his brilliant Cartesian logic and the precision of his speech. Many years later when I read his books, I was surprised to find instead of the clarity which I remembered, a poetic and metaphysical labyrinthine prose, which nevertheless had a profound influence on the thoughts of millions of people.
In light of my daughter Hilary’s difficult effort to arrest her eldest’s daughter’s addiction to Facebook I wonder what the Jesuit priest would say of those who say he predicted the moments that we are living in this 21st century. Is this enveloping world of thought not one of banality if seen through the pages of Facebook?
I have a woman friend who lives in Madrid. We met some 8 years ago on the net through an intelligent essay she wrote about being a model and how to deal in a preliminary way with photographers. We compared notes and I immediately was struck by her narcissistic, almost obsessive way of having her picture taken by many photographers and not only by the one who was her current boyfriend. Since she was around 24 she sill had to live with her parents. She marveled that I would have an exclusive and unshared garden. She sent me pictures of herself in her bathtub (beautifully taken self-portraits) and I was amazed as to how small bathtubs are in Spain. Her pictures came to me fast and they were all expertly taken and they showed to perfection her extreme freckled complexion.
Then she joined Facebook and started posting pictures of herself that suddenly had gone down in quality. They were terrible. There was one in which her friends commented on how lovely she looked. The photograph had terrible lighting and did nothing for her beautiful body.
Without thinking I posted a comment where I mentioned that her would-be photographer should try other professions and I clearly explained the photographic mistakes. I was instantly flamed by her and all her friends and told I was out of turn in my remarks and besides who was I to determine what was good and what was bad. I retreated without any defense. I came to understand that Facebook is a rosy and wonderful world where everything is o.m.g fantastic and most are blown away by everything and anything. It is world-wide Disney Fantasyland.
Since then I have limited my Facebook contributions to postings of my blogs and to their immediate content. I occasionally get one of those thumbs-up sings “I like it” which seems to me to be inconsequential. They are about as depersonalizing and cloaking of oneself in a sea of a crowd, very much like one that would have gesticulated, in safe unison, with their thumbs up (but more often with their thumbs down) to save (in a populist demand to the emperor) the skin of a valiant gladiator.
As I study Facebook I notice that it is becoming "Twitterized". By this I mean that those who post comments or “what’s in their mind” do so in an extremely brief manner. In fact my granddaughter Rebecca protested, “Papi the messages you send me are much too long!”
The contributions by most people to Facebook rarely involve the making of something. This could be an original thought, a poem or an emphatic paragraph of researched opinion backed by researched facts. The bulk of the contributions is of the “I like this… or “I read this… and I like it,” or “There is this YouTube video that is interesting.”
To me Facebook has become the air guitar of the net. Not being able to play a guitar we live the artificial world of watching the celebrities and commenting on what they do or not do. Most participate in a passive way.
I wonder if Pierre Teilhard de Chardin might not remove that smile from his face and frown, just a bit.
Jorge de Irureta Goyena
The Real Life Of Mario Vargas Llosa
Thursday, October 07, 2010
The Real Life of Mario Vargas Llosa
The Peruvian novelist turned presidential candidate talks about his books and his country.
By Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
Books in Canada, May 1990
“I am a novelist who, in a transitory manner, is engaged in politics.”
As we went to press, Mario Vargas Llosa, born in Arequipa in 1936, was leading in the first round of presidential elections I Peru. He has written nine novels: The Time of the Hero
(1963, translated 1966), The Green House
(1966 trans. 1968), Conversation in the Cathedral
(1969, trans. 1975), Captain Pantoja and the Special Service
(1973, trans. 1978), Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
(1977, trans. 1982), The War of the End of the World
(1981, trans. 1984) The Real Life of Aljandro Mayta
(1985 trans. 1986) The Storyteller (1988, trans. 1989), and In Praise of the Stepmother
(1988, trans. 1989); a collection of short stories, The Cubs
(1967, trans. 1979); and a critical study of Gabriel García Márquez: Historia de un Deicidio
(1979). He was interviewed in his home in Barranco, in Lima by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward.
BiC: In The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta
you write: “We Peruvians lie, invent, dream, and take refuge in illusion. Because of these strange circumstances, Peruvian life, a life in which so few actually do read, has become literary.” Can you explain?
Mario Vargas Llosa: It is a fragment that, if I remember correctly, refers to how information in Peru is so lacking in objectivity. How difficult to believe it is and how, therefore, people tend to lend more weight to what they fantasize: what they want to happen as opposed to what really does happen. Life has become more literary in that one lives fiction. The borders of objectivity and subjectivity have faded. What is objective and what is fantasized or invented merge. I have the impression that’s what I meant.
BiC: Faulkner was a big influence in the structure of your novels. I had a hard time unraveling The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta
and Conversation in the Cathedral
. The science fiction writer William Gibson says, “”Vargas Llosa uses that structure to force the reader to participate.” Do you agree?
Vargas Llosa: He is absolutely right. One of the thinks that I learned from Faulkner is that form could be character, a subject, or a theme in a work of fiction. The form in itself could become and attractive and intriguing element within a novel and as interesting as the characters. The sense of wonder that I feel when I read Faulkner is not only because of the things that happen in his novels but also because of the way they are revealed to the reader with an extreme complexity of language and time structure. The complexity enriches the story and obliges the reader to participate. It forces the reader to invest in imagination, fantasy, and invention. The reader then shares in literary creation with the author.
BiC What can North American readers gain from reading Latin American writers?
Vargas Llosa: The same thing that Latin American readers have gained from reading North American authors. I believe that good literature enriches readers, regardless of where it might come from. It enriches those who are especially sensitive, restless, and not readily satisfied. Literature, by being universal is an extraordinary door to the perception and understanding of other cultures. This is one of the big contributions of literature towards universalizing life itself.
BiC: Can you suggest a short list of Latin American novels for Canadian readers?
Vargas Llosa: A contemporary one? Five novels? One Hundred Years of Solitude
, by Gabriel García Márquez, The Lost Steps
, by Alejo Carpentier, Hopscotch
, by Julio Cortázar, Ficciones
, by Jorge Luís Borges, and I the Supreme
, by Augusto Roa Bastos.
BiC: You have not mentioned any of your books.
Vargas Llosa: If it were a novel about my country I would say Conversation in the Cathedral
, and if not only about Peru it would be my favourite novel The War at the End of the World.
BiC: The women in your books: Have you been influenced in any way by Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude
Vargas Llosa: I don’t know for sure, but I did read it when I was a university student. I remember that it did impress me. I believe it is one of his more stimulating works.
BiC: In Conversation in the Cathedral
you write, “She talked about books and she wore skirts, she knew about politics and she wasn’t a man, the Mascot, the Chick, the Squirrel all faded away. Zavalita, the pretty little idiots from Miraflores melted away, disappeared. Discovering that one of them at least was was good for something else, he thinks.”
Vargas Llosa: Laughter.
BiC: You mentioned the Machiguenga Indians in your famous televised speech in San Martin Square two years ago, when you launched your political career. They are central to The Storyteller
. You write in that novel that the Machiguenga has to be left alone. In Canada, Native Indias were persecuted, almost exterminated, and put into reservations. Many have lost their sense of identity. You are always saying that Peru is a backward third-world country. What can Peru learn from more advanced nations like Canada in its treatment of native populations?
Vargas Llosa: Within a country, the relations between a westernized society and a more primitive or archaic one is always difficult and harsh. Unfortunatly this almost always involves the oppression or extermination of the more primitive culture by the stronger one. This is an inescapable reality with almost no exception. What we must learn I don’t think any modern nation has yet been able to solve. This is to allow progress, development, and equal opportunity to those primitive cultures in their own terms without letting go of their language and tradition, and preserving within their culture all that which can be adapted and modernized. I am sure there is a lot that can be. But I don’t think that any country has found the answer that could be used as an example. Both Canada and Peru have to find a creative and just solution to this problem. By this I mean a democratic solution.
BiC: What emotional link exists between you and the Machiguengas?
Vargas Llosa: They represent many things to me. They are the very picture of the injustice that has ruled life in my country. They have been mistreated and discriminated against throughout our history. They have to be respected. Respected, because they have won the right to exist through their skill in surviving adversity. Primitive in ways that could be modernized, they have to be respected for what we can learn from them. For example, their intimate relation with nature. The relation that the Machiguengas have with nature is healthier, more intelligent, and more visionary than the usual one of far more advanced societies. These democratic societies have been the great despoilers of our environment. It is amazing to see the sense of preservation and coexistence that these so-called “more primitive” cultures hae with their natural environment. We westernized societies must learn from them.
BiC: In Praise of the Stepmother
, the innocent young boy, Alfonso, seduces his stepmother. Is there something of the Machiguengas in the boy’s sense of wonder?
Vargas Llosa: I am not too sure. But subconsciously, this could be. I wrote In Praise of the Stepmother right after The Storyteller and the Machiguenga experience was still very vivid in my mind.
BiC: Two characters, Don Hilario from Conversation in the Cathedral
and Moises Barbi Leyva from The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta
. The former is the quintessential government bureaucrat, the second the pragmatic an who adapts. Does Peru need more Moiseses and fewer Hilarios?
Vargas Llosa: Moises is an opportunist of great genius. He is a a chameleon-like character similar to Woody Allen’s in Zelig
. This is a character that can be often in our society. In economic terms we could call him the perfect mercantilist. He lives off his rents and deals. But at the same time this man can be efficient and do things even in a system like ours. Perhaps, he is Peru’s only answer – and that certainly does not point our system as good one.
BiC: You describe Moises as “The typical example of the revolutionary who got sensualized.” What do you mean by this?
Vargas Llosa: This was a very popular expression that was used in Peru when I was a young student of the left. We spoke of those who lost their purity of purpose as “sensualized.” They would succumb to certain material appetites that we thought were despicable. They were losing their commitment. They were losing their sense of sacrifice to the revolutionary cause.
BiC: There’s a popular Mexican expression – “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.” Peru is farther away. Is that an advantage?
Vargas Llosa: I think that systematic hostility towards the United States, in order to affirm one’s own national identity, is something that belongs to the past. It makes no sense today.
BiC: Canadian readers read a lot of American literature. Your latest book, the erotic novel In Praise of the Stepmother
, is on the bestseller list in Germay. It’s difficult to imagine that happening in Canada.
Vargas Llosa: I think that the identity of a country, of a culture cannot be the result of an artificially imposed system like nationalism. Hostility and animosity towards what is foreign have never created rich cultures. The rich and strong cultures are those that have been willing to exchange and compare theirs with others. They must avoid and inferiority complex. So many small countries that do business with the world, in cultural terms, manage to keep their culture without feeling it may be diluted or lost. This attitude, this hatred of the United States, which has been almost a political profession in Latin America and still very much alive in certain countries, has not brought us many gains. There is a lot that can be criticized in the culture of the United States, but there is a lot that is laudable, as in any other culture. The reality of the times we live is that there is an exchange, a globalization of ideas. This has advantages that far outweigh the disadvantages. To try to re-establish petty 19the century nationalism in cultural terms would have no positive effect for either Canada or Peru.
BiC: Politicians can often deny what they said or explain that they were misquoted. Are people going to reread your novels for insight on what you are like now that you are an important political figure as well as a writer? Will anything you have written come back to haunt you?
Vargas Llosa: No, I stand by everything I have written. It doesn’t mean that what I wrote years ago is what I believe in today. I have changed my views. My books are proof of that. My books are out there and they form part of what I am, and perhaps they are what best expresses what I am. I will not deny what I have signed.
BiC: Two years ago, to the question, “What are you?” you might have answered, “I am a novelist.” What would you answer now?
Vargas Llosa: I am still a novelist who, in a transitory manner, is engaged in politics. I think of myself as a writer.
Mario Vargas Llosa
More Mario Vargas Llosa
And More Mario Vargas Llosa
And even more
And if that were not enough
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
I photographed April sometime around 1977 and she became my first nude. Since then I have taken thousands of nudes, all of which are in a tidy and rather large metal filing cabinets. They are in alphabetical order so I can find anything I can remember. Sometimes the names fade and I have to hunt around. Occasionally I display some of those nudes in this blog but I make sure that bits do not show. In the last couple of years, whenever I shoot nudes (this activity has been in the wane) I make sure I take a few that will fit my self-imposed blog censorship. I don’t want to shock anybody out there.
In the last 10 years body painting has become very popular. I loathe it. There is nothing chintzier than one of those airbrush body paint “artists” who will place strategic Brazilian blue butterflies on a woman’s chest or paint a skirt and thus sort of hide the lower countries. Because body paint hides I have noticed that even our morally conservative Vancouver Sun
considers body paint to be like clothing. Gossip columnist Malcolm Parry inserts body painting pictures in his column with lots of regularity.
It was about 6 years ago that I collaborated with Argentine painters Juan Manuel Sanchez and Nora Patrich and we even had a show called Nostalgia. The Vancouver Sun asked me for some images for a write up and rejected outright a drawing/photo combination (seen here) by Juan Manuel Sanchez and myself. I remember the photo editor told me, “We cannot use it because it shows the slit.” I was shocked and furious. It had been years before when Georgia Straight
editor Charles Campbell asked me to review a show of the photographs of Mexican artist Manuel Álvarez Bravo. My essay was all about a particular nude in the show (the Presentation Gallery). Campbell was not able to convince the publisher and the photo mentioned in my piece was pulled.
I am always appalled at the fact that in many ways our city of Vancouver exists firmly in some Puritanical century of the past. A picture that in other countries would be seen as art, here is labeled with that one-size-fits-all epithet that I loathe, “It is inappropriate.”
But I am going to test the waters here with these pictures which I think are beautiful. Juan Manuel Sanchez, his wife Nora Patrich and I embarked on a project that we called Cuerpos Pintados
or Painted Bodies. There was a difference here from other body painting projects I had observed in the past. In most of those the human body was the canvas for the artist. In our case, an in particular with Juan Manuel Sanchez’s work, the body was not only the canvas but also the work itself as he painted his models exactly as he would paint them on a flat canvas. The body was no simply a surface for something to be painted. The surface became the person twice. For years Juan Manuel Sanchez has been simplifying his paintings of nudes. One day he told me, “If I could reduce a woman’s body to one line, I would do it.”
When I photographed his finished and living art I felt that I was doing more than recording it. In many ways they felt no different than any portraits that I took in the past. My subjects could never return for me to take exactly the picture I had taken before. In the same way Juan Manuel Sanchez’s painted women were just as ephemeral.
Live Art- Acto Vivo
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
I have a beautiful and particular collection of what must be probably worthless books. They are red “leatherette” with gold trimming hard covers of Raymond Chandler novels. They were printed by Heron Books in 1981 and I purchased them at W.H. Smith (now, alas part of our forgotten Vancouver history) as remainders around 1983 for $6.00 each. They have yellow ribbons to mark your place and illustrations by Paul J. Crompton.
Those who know a lot more about Raymond Chandler have told me that of all the novels he wrote his last Marlowe novel Playback
(1958) written one year before his death was Chandler in decline.
Yet it is to Playback
that I often go back every couple of years and in particular to Chapter XII
At half-past six the Fleetwood purred up to the front door and I had it open when she came up the steps. She was hatless. She wore a flesh-coloured coat with the collar turned up against her platinum hair. She stood in the middle of the living-room and looked around casually. Then she slipped the coat off with a lithe movement and threw it on the davenport and sat down. 'I didn't really think you'd come,’'I said. 'No. You’re the shy type. You knew darned well I'd come. Scotch and soda, if you have it.' 'I have it.' I brought the drinks and sat down beside her, but not close enough for it to mean anything. We touched glasses and drank. 'Would you care to go to Romanoffo for dinner?' 'And then what?' 'Where do you live?' 'West Los Angeles. A house on a quiet old street. It happens to belong to me. I asked you and then what, remember?' 'That would be up to you, naturally.''I thought you were a tough guy. You mean I don't have to pay for my dinner?' 'I ought to slap your face for that crack.' She laughed suddenlly and stared at me over the edge of her glass.'Consider it slapped. We had each other a bit wrong. Romanoffs could wait a while, couldn't it?' 'We could try West Los Angels first.' 'Why not here?' 'I guess this will make you walk out on me. I had a dream here once, a year and a half ago. There is still a shred of it left. I'd like to stay in charge.' She stood up quickly and grabbed her coat. I managed to help her on with it. 'I'm sorry, 'I said, "I should have told you that before. She swung around with her face close to mine, but I didn't touch her. 'Sorry that you had and dream and kept it alive? I've had dreams too, but mine died. I didn't have the courage to keep them alive. ''It's not quite like that. There was a woman. She was rich. She thought she wanted to marry me. It wouldn't have worked. I'll probably never see her again. But I remember.' 'Let's go’,'she said quietly. 'And let's leave the memory in charge. I only wish I had one worth remembering.' On the way down to the Cadillac I didn't touch her either. She drove beautifully. When a woman is a really good driver she is just about perfect.
Playback, Chapter XIII, by Raymond Chandler
In the last couple of weeks I have taken the book out of its bookcase twice. The first time happened when I read the above chapter to my granddaughter Rebecca. It was my effort (perhaps a futile one) to get my granddaughter Rebecca to become interested in reading as we all watch her increasing addiction to Facebook and texting.
I explained how the novels of Raymond Chandler inspired great movies including The Big Sleep
(1946) with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Rebecca seemed to have heard of the film but it quickly “degenerated” into the question as to who was more beautiful, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn or Lauren Bacall.
I attempted to whet her interest by playing Charlie Haden’s Quartet West – In Angel City
. I explained how the CD has an excerpt from Chandler’s The Little Sister which describes Chandler driving east on Sunset. I explained that one of the pieces, The Red Wind was about Southern California’s infamous dry and hot wind, the Santa Ana which comes in from the desert and blows all the Los Angeles smog out to sea. I played my favourite tune, First Song (For Ruth)
which to me is a song that is pure Marlowe driving East of Sunset during a hot summer evening.
But it was to no avail. She got up and told me that there was not one book in my library that she was interested in. I told her about Paradise Lost
by Milton and how, “water, water everwhere and…” now had a Rebecca variation all about books. But I do not despair as I know that sooner or later she will return to books. After all I did not start reading Chandler until 1983 when I was 41!
The second reason for taking Playback
from the bookcase was to scan it as I write this Tuesday blog on late Wednesday evening. Playback
came to mind because of the last sentence in the above chapter which reads:
She drove beautifully. When a woman is a really good driver she is just about perfect.
I had a visitor on Wednesday afternoon. It was photographer Allan Jacques. We discussed the state of photography today in the living room over tea, freshly baked bread, cultured/unsalted butter and apricot jam. I told him about this and how I equated the rise and fall of photography as we know it with the invention, rise and now almost certain demise of the halftone process
which enables photographs to be printed in books, magazine and newspapers.
We talked about the pristine, flawless and perfect digitally stitched panoramic photograph prints that are sold at a framing store on the corner of Robson Street and Seymour in Vancouver. We talked on how these panoramics are done in a technique called HDR which stands for high dynamic range. This digital technique enables photographers to capture details in the shadows of evening takes without overexposing the highlights of bright skies and street lights. These pictures are perfect. We talked on how after viewing no more than five it would amount to eating sugar in heaping spoonfuls. We could not look at any, anymore.
The reason is that perfection is boring. Flaws make photographs interesting and quirky. Those photographs of mountain landscapes reflected on perfectly calm lakes so that you don’t know which is the real thing and which is the reflection are a dime a dozen in current photography magazines. These landscapes have bright and saturated colours. There is no real English equivalent to the Spanish verb empalagar.
The word means that you might eat something so cloyingly sweet that you cannot proceed any further. The photo magazine landscapes are empalagosas
(fotografía is feminine).
Alan Jacques and I believe that the next big thing will have to take into consideration the beauty of the flaw. And of course Chandler knew this, and told us so via Marlowe. That fine Cadillac driver was just about perfect, but not quite. And not quite is where it all is.
The Charlie Haden Quartet West - In Angel City version of First Song (for Ruth) is not available in YouTube but there is that other beautiful one by Stan Getz and Kenny Barron here
The Little Sister
Dulcinea, Oclupaca, Duke Ellington & The Rocket At The Farm
Monday, October 04, 2010
I do not have the routine of sitting down at a particular time of the day to write for this blog. In some cases I write a day late or in this instance I am writing for tomorrow Monday my feelings on this weekend which had been a good one.
On Saturday when the girls showed up at noon, we drove up to the farm in Richmond. It is right by 99 on the East side of the Steveston exit. We parked the Rocket by the farm equipment, far from all the crowded parking lots which would be potential hazards for The Rocket’s pristine paint job. The girls and Rosemary spent some time peeling back corn to find ears that they thought would be sweet and tender. We bought fruit and vegetables and had a great time. I took some pictures of Lauren and of Rebecca by an ancient wooden wagon. The light was low in contrast so I was happy with the results.
At home the girls sat down in the garden, under the thuja, and worked on getting at a pomegranate. Lauren had never had one so I watched her in delight. Some day I will tell her that there is only one way to eat one. It consists in taking every little red gem and putting it in a large cup. Then, when they are all in the cup, you pour them into your mouth in one swoop!
Via Facebook I had invited Rebecca to accompany me on Saturday night for a performance of ”external”>Don Quijote
at the Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island. I had seen the show a few days before on opening night with Rosemary. I had the idea that Rebecca would find it funny. In my Facebook communication I told Rebecca I was going to dress up and that she just might want to do so, also. I told her we would go for hot chocolate after the performance.
In the afternoon I watched Lauren tie one of Sparkle’s (her stuffed cat) to a chair rung. I asked what was happening and Lauren told me, “Sparkle has broken a leg so she has it in traction. I am her nurse.”
Rebecca and I went to the theatre while Lauren stayed with Rosemary. We had invited her for a sleepover. She likes sleepovers at our house as we always have breakfast in bed the next morning.
Rebecca wore a beautiful black dress and she had her hair done so that she looked absolutely glamorous. She laughed and laughed at the play. I was astounded to find that the almost full house may have had only one person under 18 and that was Rebecca (13). I wonder what it will take before parents in our city realize that taking children to the theatre does not have to be only to a children’s play. It is for this reason that I almost always avoid children’s festivals.
We went to Death by Chocolate on Fur and West Broadway and our Ghirardelli hot chocolate was a thin concoction that barely tasted of chocolate. This, our first time at Death by Chocolate will be our last. I took Rebecca home and when I got to my own, I found Rosemary and Lauren fast asleep.
On Sunday morning my wife dispatched me to Hilary’s house to deliver Lauren. On our way Lauren was loudly stomping her feet against the back of the car seat. I asked her why she was doing this. “I like the music you are playing.” This proud grandfather was beside himself, after all she was in delight of Duke Ellington – Latin American Suite
, and the tune in question was Oclupaca
(Acapulco backwards!) which has some very loud and wonderful jungle drumming.
When we arrived, Rebecca’s other grandmother commented on our evening out to the theatre and she told me, “I cannot remember the name of Don Quijote’s girl.” “Ask Rebecca,” I told her. And, of course, Rebecca said, “Dulcinea.” At age 13 I wonder how many of her generation know that?
If It's Difficult It Must Be Worth Doing - Malysheff's Tintypes
Sunday, October 03, 2010
When I came to Vancouver in 1975 with the object of becoming a photographer I made four decisions in relation to what I was not going to do. The first and foremost one was that I was not going to see the world upside down. So I eschewed 4x5 and bigger view cameras (the ones with bellows) in which a photographer has to observe and focus on an image that is upside down and quite dark. The other three determinations, I may have ultimately reneged on some of them, were that I vowed not to do babies, weddings or pornography.
I came from an old-fashioned society that dictated that anything worth doing was complicated and took time. To a point I did take some shortcuts but I learned to print colour negatives and slides and took my time in perfecting lighting techniques. I avoided posterization or anything that involved making negatives that were at least 8x10 inches in size (one of the requirements for posterization and the rather complicated platinum print process).
I have been fascinated by early photographic processes and in particular the Daguerreotype. This process is most complicated. And not only that as the photographer is forced to use mercury and may inadvertently breathe in mercury fumes which will subject the photographer to premature loss of hair and impotence!
In short I limited my photographic craft to learning how to print my b+w negatives on to photographic paper with a relatively high level of skill.
We now live in a world where the mantra, what’s worth doing takes time, has been reversed by, if it’s easy to do then it’s worth doing. This has subjected us to all black canvases that are art and in photography with an inundation of eminently forgettable images that lack style in spite of the digital special effects available to anybody.
It is in this milieu where someone like Kimberly Malysheff stands out for her determination to pursue photography far from the crowds of Flickr and Facebook through the use of the mid 19th century process called the tintype. This process is laborious, and worst of all it is highly unpredictable. And yes, Miss Malysheff has to see the world upside down on a dark ground glass screen. The ISO of her colodion emulsion, which is laid wet on a metal plate (not tin!) is 3 so she is obliged to take exposures that may exceed one second. This means that portraits may have the arresting look of milky eyes which is caused by the opening and closing of eyes during the long exposures. Her subjects might move and have ghostlike and streaky hands.
I went to her opening night show this last Friday at the Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street on Granville Island. The show is on until November 21. I strongly recommend my readers to see this show as they will marvel at what photography used to look like and how in many ways it changed and not all for the better. Be prepared to see pictures that are no bigger than 4x5 as that is precisely the size of the metal plates that Miss Malysheff fits into her camera. For bigger pictures she will have to invest in larger format view cameras in 8x10 or even 11x14. Until she does that, enjoy the intimacy of getting up close and stare at pictures that look old enough that you might suppose that some of her subjects died long ago.
As a teaser here I am including one of Miss Malysheff’s works and one of mine. The last picture I took (of a person who got tired of being on the wrong end of a camera) and it is the product of scanner and computer manipulation. So easy to do, and so far from noxius chemical fumes! Best of all the process is predictable. I think I need to go back and look at those tintypes. I have to again consider that if it is difficult, it must then be worth doing.