Upside Down LogicWednesday, January 26, 2011
I think that when one has been married since 1968 it is difficult to make someone change if they haven’t yet. I am absolutely sure that Rosemary calls our daughters to complain about the piles of negatives by the computer in the living room or about the piles of old photographs, negatives and slides which I say, every day that I am going to file. If anything complaining to our daughters is a sort of venting.
But there is one line of logic that escapes me. I am told that I cannot tell or mention to my oldest daughter that she should stop smoking. I am not to correct my granddaughter when she loses her temper and shouts because I do the same thing.
The line of logic is that even if you no longer smoke (I haven’t for something like 14 years), you cannot tell anybody not to do it.
One would stretch this logic to the point of stating that murderers should not tell us not to kill or that reformed criminals should act as advisors and help youth avoid a life of crime. Experience of this sort is to be shunned.
There are many bad habits that began, in some cases relatively recently if you consider our time as bipeds on the planet. It was Christopher Columbus in 1492 who spied on some “Indians” in what he called San Salvador inhaling smoke directly through their noses from some strange longish cylinders of something we now call tobacco leaf. He observed and as an “intelligent” Western European decided this habit could be improved if the mouth were used instead of the nose.
By our conventional logic, even if Columbus’ “Indians” were smoking before Europeans happened upon them, the habit did not exist as such. And we can now predict that the habit will all but be gone in a few more years.
There are some that think that Gutenberg’s invention, another recent one if we look back at the history of our species as bipeds on this planet, is about to be superseded. They maintain that the very act of turning pages will soon be as much a memory as tying shoe laces and having sex with someone we know.
In the 80s, both Kodak and Fujicolor came out with colour negative film and transparency film that had a built-in sun tan. I kid you not as I used to purchase the film. The men in white smock who were doctors on TV and who said they opted for Lucky Strikes also spoke of healthy looking tanned skin.
I remember coming from Mexico in 1975 and going with my wife and daughter to the Stanley Park Zoo. It was there that I saw a family whose skin looked liked translucent pre-Gutenberg parchment. How could these people parade around the park showing off such unhealthy skin is what I was thinking about.
For at least five years I frequented Wreck Beach and acquired a pretty good tan. I did not go to the extreme of twisting my arms so as to sun tan my armpits. It was later in the 80s that we photographers would go to weekend photography seminars at the Four Seasons that were organized by then highfalutin advertising photographer Derik Murray. I always made it a point to sit behind beautiful photographer Heather Dean. She was an expert in taking photographs from helicopters and she had the most perfect suntanned armpits I have ever seen. Since she had become engaged underwater to her beau (who pulled the ring near a reef) on the Cook Islands I was convinced her tan was a perfect and honest one.
My wife is now sporting a painful tan on her chest and we have not even gone to Mexico or enjoyed piña coladas with a straw from a coconut. Her sunburn is the result of 24 sessions of cancer treatment radiation. Her affliction (the cancer is gone), the sun burn, simply reiterates in my mind that the concept of healthy Lucky Strikes and a healthy tan are a thing of the past.
I tell my students that American photographer Paul Outerbridge pioneered in the 1930s a form of colour photography called the color carbro process. Outerbridge’s nudes are a fantastic example of the wonders of the real colour of human skin, especially when it is of that awful-to-me Stanley Park pallor that I noted back in 1975. In fact Outerbridge’s cabro nudes were never improved by anyone, no matter what form of colour film was used until the advent of the modern digital camera with its custom white balance. If I could now I would pursue the redhaired nude, and would even buy a digital camera, if the right kind of redhead came along!
I am sure that few remember that built-in sun tan film that Kodak used to sell. While I tanned my skin to perfection (and I never did use sun block but opted for baby oil!) I will be the first to advise you that this is a bad thing. And I will tell you this, even if while at Wreck Beach I did take my first nudes, and from there, to make that form of photography important to my life.
Deborah, the beautiful woman hanging upside down from a log at Wreck Beach had a perfect tan and beautiful hair. She had an English accent and a very gentle demeanor. I only photographed her once. I hope that like me, touch wood, she has not developed any kind of complications which are the result of having acquired such a healthy tan.
But then you should not be listening to me because, I did smoke and I did sun tan.