A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

That Di Quella Pira Moment In Great Expectations
Saturday, February 05, 2011

Love her, love her, love her!

Around 1973 my friend Jorge Urrechaga came to visit me in our home in Arboledas, Estado de Mexico, a suburb of the urban sprawl that Mexico City had already become.


Our daughters were 5 and 2 but that did not prevent Urrechaga from demonstrating in his fine tenor the finer moments of Italian opera. Urechaga adored Giuseppe di Stefano and had no time for the up-and-coming Luciano Pavaroti.

Urrechaga told me, “I want to take you to a performance of Verdi’s Il Trovatore at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. A fine young Mexican tenor is going to be singing Manrico and I want you to listen to his rendering of the ultimate high C in the aria “Di quella pira”. I had no idea of what he was talking about. Eearlier in the late 60s I had attended two ferformances at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires with my then new operaphile girlfriend Susy Bornstein. It was December in Buenos Aires. This meant that it was hot and I only had one suit a black wool one I had purchased in Austin, Texas many years before. Before the curtain went up for Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel I was on fire! Susy took me to another opera (without me knowing that the two operas I ultimately saw at the Colón were not really from the standard repertoire), Gluck’s Orfeo ed Uridice.

Urrechaga was telling me stuff that was over my head. He convinced me to accompany him as he had told him we would see the opera from three vantages points. The first was inside a TV van that was transmitting the performance, the second was a press box which he said he knew was always empty and the third up in what he called the gallinero (the chicken coop) were at one time patrons would have had to stand at heights that were extremely rarified in oxygen content when you considered that Mexico City was already 2240 meters!

This time I had a light gray pin-striped suit from El Palacio de Hierro department store. The young Mexican tenor was Plácido Domingo. Mexican considered him Mexican because he had moved when young to Mexico City with his family who had a zarzuela (Spanish light opera) company. In fact his mother sang with frequency at the famous review/vaudeville theatre, Teatro Blanquita.

When the time came I heard Domingo belt out the high C not knowing until later when Urrechaga explained it to me that Verdi had never written the note in question.

Still, anybody who ever goes to performance of Il Trovatore, anticipates with some pleasure ( a perverse one perhaps) the tenor in question might choke and not make it!

When my friend Paul Leisz and I had the distinct pleasure of watching a dress rehearsal performance of the Gateway Theatre’s ( A Blackbird Theatre Company co-production with Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon) of Dickens’ Great Expectations (adapted to a play by Errol Durbach) I waited for the “Di quella pira” moment. To me every film, every concert, every symphony, every play has a “Di quella pira” moment. We all may wonder how Christopher Gaze as Richard III might approach the Shakespeare play DQP moment when he says, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”

The DQP moment has to be the one I will note below in its entirety as it is extremely powerful and beautiful. I must report here that Susan Williamson’s (she plays Miss Havisham) rendering is passionate and just about perfect!


Then, Estella being gone and we two left alone, she turned to me, and said in a whisper,--


"Is she beautiful, graceful, well-grown? Do you admire her?"


"Everybody must who sees her, Miss Havisham."


She drew an arm round my neck, and drew my head close down to hers as she sat in the chair. "Love her, love her, love her! How does she use you?"


Before I could answer (if I could have answered so difficult a question at all) she repeated, "Love her, love her, love her! If she favors you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces,--and as it gets older and stronger it will tear deeper,--love her, love her, love her!"


Never had I seen such passionate eagerness as was joined to her utterance of these words. I could feel the muscles of the thin arm round my neck swell with the vehemence that possessed her.


"Hear me, Pip! I adopted her, to be loved. I bred her and educated her, to be loved. I developed her into what she is, that she might be loved. Love her!"


She said the word often enough, and there could be no doubt that she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate instead of love--despair--revenge--dire death--it could not have sounded from her lips more like a curse.


"I'll tell you," said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper, "what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter--as I did!"


When she came to that, and to a wild cry that followed that, I caught her round the waist. For she rose up in the chair, in her shroud of a dress, and struck at the air as if she would as soon have struck herself against the wall and fallen dead.




Posing Nude - My Experience
Friday, February 04, 2011

Guest Blog: Alexandra C.M.Norris
Posing Nude- My Experience

Preface: On October 1st, 2010 I was hit by a car on my bicycle. I then contracted flesh eating bacteria from the hospital, being stitched up from the ensuing injuries. I spent the whole month in and out of hospital, on pain killers, antibiotics and I was truly concerned for my life. I was called by Focal Point, a week after I was declared healed and healthy. I accepted the offer to pose nude for a class. I looked at it as an ode to my body. Its beauty, resilience and strength, a thing I love, and couldn’t possibly live without.

We are born naked, and in the end we also die naked. I have always been curious about the space between those two monumental life events, how nudity takes on different shapes throughout our lives. I am in my later twenties, and appreciate my skin with a balance of contented confidence. My skin, the wrapping to my bones, structure and spirit is my connection to others. It is for them it exists and I thought, it would be surreal and interesting to actually see myself through someone else’s eyes, or rather lens.

Growing up in Vancouver, I remember my first time at Wreck Beach with my friends. Naked people everywhere, if you weren’t naked you were the odd one out.

Entering the Focal Point studio the scenario was reversed, I was the only one who was naked. A flurry of snaps, flashes and movement. Alex Waterhouse-Hayward (the gracious instructor) eased me into the ultimate clothes-less state I was to be in, there were a few portrait shots fully clothed. We had a break and I came back with my blanket and skin.

Nudity is holding nothing back. No braces, tensors, spandex, slimming lines or black can shield or camouflage bare flesh. Nude is human in its animal state, and such, I believe it’s most powerful. As the class progressed, so did my comfort with being the only naked person in the room, all attention on my form, most people’s most feared nightmare. After seeing the results from ‘the night I first posed nude’ I was amazed. They were wonderful, but I could barely recognize the person staring back at me, I realized that we never look at the same thing the same way. We are all constantly changing, every moment. The photographer catches flickers of beauty in each of these moments.

A Felicitous Occasion



Betty Comden & Adolph Green At August: Osage County
Thursday, February 03, 2011

My wife and I love going to the theatre in Vancouver. The real reason is that we have a long memory to how bad Vancouver theatre was in 1975 when we arrived in Vancouver. Theatre, then, seemed to be no better than high school productions our daughters appeared in. We had to go to them, it was our duty. We suffered
Theatre here has gone a long way since.

I have seen the Sunday newspapers of my hometown of Buenos Aires and of that other city I lived in, Mexico City. They usually have two pages in the theatre section. Most of the plays seem to be old nuggets from the past and I see little experimentation. A company like the Electric Company Theatre and its co-production with the Arts Club Theatre of Tear The Curtain would be unheard of in my hometowns. Some, in complete ignorance, might say that the Arts Club has a history of producing long established “safe” plays. That is certainly not the case. Last year's  musical, Nevermore, based on the life and last days of Edgar Allan Poe was a surprising revelation on how even a musical could be avant garde and still please.

Thanks to the availability of multi stages, the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, and the two venues on Granville Island, the Granville Island Stage and the Granville Island Review Stage, there is always a variety of plays and musicals to satisfy anyone.

Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County which Rosemary and I attended last night in it inaugural performance in Vancouver at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage was a difficult play. It was difficult in only one way. By the end of the evening I had no idea how to pronounce Osage. Believe me it is not self evident!

I mulled how I was going to illustrate this blog as I make it my personal rule that I must do so with one of my file pictures of any of the actors, the director (alas I never did photograph the director and former actress Janet Wright). The lineup of actors for this play is long, 13 and yet I have never photographed them. In fact in the whole production the only person I have photographed is Fight Director Nicholas Harrison, who has a beautiful collection of ancient daggers and broad swords but who I must protest here and now for the unconvincing black foam frying pan wielded as a weapon by the almost always calm Quelemia Sparrow whose performance last night convinced me I want to see a lot more of her in the near future.

The presence of Betty Comden and Adolph Green here is my entry into this blog. Why? In Sean Allan’s (who plays Beverly Weston) bio he has a long list of people he appeared with, from June Allyson (and I am old enough to know who she is and her connection with another name, Van Johnson) to, would you believe, Ed Sullivan and André Previn. Smack in the middle of that list with a few that I too, have photographed I found Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Sean Allan’s performance in the play, while brief is a real pleasure. If I am to believe his bio and those over-six decades of acting I can only say that no matter what T.S. Eliot might have said in the Hollow Men, “life is very long,” this has been good to Allan and to his audience, us.

So I believe that I have some sort of a blessing to proceed here.

The play, from its very beginning (it is set in the almost south, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma) reminded me of a Tennessee Williams play modernized with a bit less booze and many more pills. That the play also reminded me of the novels of Faulkner. This was good, too. I like to read of situations that seem scary and alien and that somehow I believe (for personal comfort) can happen only in the US. We in Canada are exempt!

Rosemary read the program before we even sat down. I like to go for the surprise so I knew nothing of this play.

Curiously as action unfolded and the Sean Allen’s almost literate monologue became an no holds barred and vicious dialogue of insults (some extremely literary ones) I felt like I was watching a computer game where I could almost feel the controls in my hand. I felt as if I could advance the controls to even more action. Action proceeded to food being dropped and thrown and some attempting strangling.

I had this odd feeling of déjà vu. It came to me in a flash - Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs with Dustin Hoffman, Susan George and Peter Vaughan. I had seen the film with Rosemary in Mexico City in 1971 on a Friday. We had had a tough week of teaching English in American companies and we had driven miles of bumper to bumper traffic. We had both found the violence of Straw Dogs invigorating, justifiable and somehow soothing for us at the end of that terrible week. The Greeks had a name for this sort of thing, catharthis (κάθαρσις).

I felt the same last night as insults flew and relationships deteriorated. It almost felt good. It felt good because even though most families are dysfunctional (as mine is) none can possibly top the over-the-top Weston clan of August: Osage County.

It was in Joan McLeod’s (directed by Dean Paul Gibson) Toronto, Mississippi which Rosemary and I saw last year at the Playhouse that I saw a virtuoso performance by Meg Roe who plays an autistic young girl.

This mesmerising performance was equalled last night by Nora McLellan who plays pill-popping (and she hides her pills in unusual places!) Weston family matriarch, Violet Weston. The other actors were all almost as good and in particular Karin Konoval who plays her eldest daughter, Barbara Fordham. I absolutely hated Mackenzie Gray who plays Steve Heidebrecht who is Karen Weston’s (the younger daughter) fiancé. But I know why I hate him, his performance as a despicable vapid American, one of those each one of us gets to meet at least once in our life, is perfect.

The other surprise, which I would like to reiterate here, is the stabilizing presence (was it meant to be?) of the delightful Quelemia Sparrow.



Adapting Dickens’ Great Expectations
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Guest Blog: Errol Durbach



Mia Ingimundson as Estella
Adapting Dickens’ Great Expectations


Why translate one genre into another — in this case, a novel into a play? One reply might be because it has always been done, and that we would have no “original” plays by Shakespeare if we discounted his adaptations of Giraldi Cinthio, Holinshed, North’s translation of Plutarch and the many other sources he plundered for his plots. Another might be that Dickens himself was a stage actor of his own texts, and that his style (full of melodramatic action, all the techniques of the Victorian theatre, and a wonderful ear for dialogue) lends itself to drama like no other novelist’s.

But, above all, there is the chance to make the theme and ideas of the novel accessible to an audience that might not know Great Expectations, its social vision, and its analysis of economic ambitions (closely linked to our sexual desires). These themes are as pertinent today as they were in the 1860s, because they embody universal truths that need to be stated again and again. Consequently, Great Expectations is one of the few novels of any age that has acquired a “mythic” status; and readers are recommended to two modern offshoots of Dickens’ novel that corroborate this claim: Lloyd Jones’s Mr. Pip, and Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs.


Errol Durbach
Attitudes to money and sex are at the heart of the novel; and Pip’s assumption that money — no matter if unearned and undeserved — can transform us and realize our desires is scrutinized and finally exposed in all its fallibility. But, in my reading of the novel (and therefore my emphasis in this adaptation), there is also the conviction that society is held together not by the cash nexus, but by civility and compassion. What changes Pip and comes to define his “self” is not the money that drops so fortuitously into his lap, but his growing love for the person who has sacrificed himself for his well being. Money may buy your way out of social class but it cannot make you a gentleman, nor can it buy you love. Only moral transformation can give you a new identity and change your sense of self-worth.

And this simple ethic — naïve, maybe, but given tremendous force by Dickens — lies at the heart of this adaptation: that the road to social change is through the hearts of individual men and women. This, I think, is the “mythic” idea at its core. And my favorite line in the play belongs to Magwitch — the convict treated with such humane concern by young Pip on the marshes. “Why risk imprisonment and death for some chance encounter with a child in a churchyard?” asks the older Pip. And Magwitch replies: “No one ever saw me as someone with a little human worth, and you helped me, dear boy, to ask me’self if — p’raps — I might have been a better man under better circumstances.” This is as close as Dickens comes to articulating his sense of the transforming power of decency and compassion; and it is a piece of dialogue that, as adaptor, I have had to dredge out of the prose of the novel, fashion into direct speech, and put into the mouth of a dramatic character.

Adaptation, then, inevitably reveals the bias of the adaptor. And I can only hope that I have tapped into the deep structure of Dickens’ vision and represented his myth correctly. Of course there have been many other adaptations — for stage, screen, and television — the best known being David Lean’s movie of 1946, which some consider the definitive adaptation. But there is no artifact, however brilliant, which has any claim to be “definitive”. Lean’s movie was made to reflect the climate of expectation that prevailed in Britain after the War, and he read the Dickensian myth with an over-optimism that prompted him to provide a happily-ever-after glow of Romanticism to the movie’s final scene. But Dickens was in two minds about the way to end his novel — hence the two versions that he wrote: an invitation to all future readers and adaptors to make their own considered choice. I have exercised the adaptor’s prerogative in this version of Great Expectations and conflated the two endings to create a mood of 21st Century ambiguity; and I invite all theatregoers who see this play to return to the novel and decide for themselves the feasibility of their own expectations.

Errol Durbach


Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, adapted for the stage by Errol Durbach,
Feb. 3 - 19th. at the Gateway Theatre
A Blackbird Theatre production with Persephone Theatre Saskatoon

Errol Durbach on Falstaff



The Story Behind Estella's Icy Blue Look
Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Mia Ingimundson - Ektachrome 100G
When I posted today’s Wednesday blog I happened to then notice that I had not posted anything for Tuesday. I will attempt to correct that (instead of being lazy and making Tuesday my day off.

The theme will be to explain the photographs that appear in Wednesday’s guest blog by Errol Durbach on adapting Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

From the moment I read Great Expectations in my Buenos Aires American Grammar School (I was 8 or ) I fell in love with Estella. I must confess that she really was my first true love. I was attracted to the impossibility of having a any kind of contact. Like Pip I was attracted, not repelled, by her icy coolness and remoteness.

So when I had the idea of inviting Errol Durbach to write his essay I immediately came up with the idea of taking pictures of Mia Ingimundson who plays Estella in the Gateway Theatre/A Blackbird Theatre production with Persephone Theatre Saskatoon of Errol Durbach’s adaptation of Dicken’s novel into the play.


Mia Ingimundson - Fujichrome T64
Most of us (well, at least this man) think of Estella as the young Jean Simmons. For me when the icy-cold Jean Simmons Estella grows up and becomes the pleasant smiley-faced Valerie Hobson I am not convinced. To me Valerie Hobson was the wrong choice and is the  most salient flaw of David Lean’s wonderful film version of Great Expectations.

Having met, photographed and seen Mia Ingimundson a dress rehearsal performance today I can attest to the fact that here we have an Estella that is completely in character with the Dickens novel.

Without having yet met Miss Ingimundson I came up with the idea of taking her picture using the “wrong” film. In this case it would be Fujichrome T64 Professional transparency film balanced for Tungsten (3200 Kelvin). This meant that if I used a flash (daylight balanced to about 6000 Kelvin) I would get pictures with a blue-cast. Slight correction (slight warming) in the scanning process would make my Estella icy blue and remote.

There were a few factors that combined to modify my approach. One was that my 25 year-old Dynalite studio flash was being repaired in Calgary so I had to use a portable Norman 200B. This unit is efficient and quite powerful but it lacks the quartz (balanced for 3200 Kelvin) modeling lights that would have mixed with the blue flash to an interesting combination of cool and warm. So I brought along a very big and heavy (fortunately my friend Paul Leisz manhandled it for me) movie studio type Fresnel spotlight. I used the spotlight to cast a warm light behind Miss Ingimundson. But the effect was not as I wanted it because I had to take the photo in a cramped back stage corner. I picked the corner because it had Miss Havisham’s wedding cake table.


Errol Durbach - Fuji Instant Print Film
The other picture is of Errol Durbach. He came to my home for his portrait and I posed him by my antique book and bookcase. I took pictures in b+w but I also took one Fujiroid (Fuji style Polaroid) of him which we both liked. To me he could be Dickens himself!

In Durbach and in Estella’s blue portrait I further modified the picture using the Corel Paintshop Pro 12 vignetting tool. The other picture is of an Estella taken with my normal Ektachrome 100G which is balanced for flash. As much as any of you might prefer it, I like the icy blue one. That’s my Estella, the one I fell in love with so many years ago.

A Further Explanation on Degrees Kelvin and Colour



That Overflowing Scrap Wood Box
Monday, January 31, 2011

Ale and my soon to be lacquered sofa, 1971





A surprising way of celebrating a new year is losing all your email addresses. Let me explain.

In Mexico City this newly married man liked to spend his weekends in a makeshift shop where I had a very good bench saw I had purchased from a departing American executive. I also had a portable paint gun and a nice Black and Decker linear and orbital sander. With this equipment I made home furniture which I finished with a very smooth automobile lacquer finish. The shop had a little bathroom where I had my little darkroom. I soon found out that carpentry and photography where not compatible in close proximity. Saw dust and negatives seemed to attract each other.

In that shop I had a large wooden box where I kept pieces of precious wood I did not have the heart to throw away. I had Mexican pine, some Far East sandalwood and exotic woods that I did not know came from my future home of Canada. When the box was full I was told by friends that I would have to empty it out (throw it away is what they meant) and then I was to start all over again. I never did manage to follow the advice and my box was brimming with useless pieces of wood.

At my age of 68 I have thousands of books, bookcases, and stuff that has followed me (and my mother and grandmother, of my father only his King James Bible occupies any space) from Argentina to Mexico (twice) and from Mexico to Vancouver. Then there is the stuff that followed us from Burnaby to here and the closets have stuff that my daughters don’t want to take. Then there are 13, steel, four drawer filing cabinets filled with pictures and negatives and slides that are the only proof that I ever lived here. What to do with it all?

I have often harped here how I once considered becoming a Catholic brother so that I could be sent, at a moment’s notice to a mission in Africa. In a suitcase I I would have packed a couple of pairs of black socks, a an extra pair of black shoes and whatever clothing I would need. The Bible I would keep with me. I can imagine the relief and lightness of now really owning anything and being able to move without the burden of leaving something behind.

One solution that I have pondered (but not all that seriously) is to go with Rosemary and our cats (would arson investigators catch on to that?) to visit Ale in Lillooet for a weekend. I would make arrangements with a professional arsonist to burn my house down. Rosemary and I would come back to the tragedy of smoldering ashes. Would it be a relief of pressure of now knowing what to do with the stuff?

While my library has gotten very large, but stopped in its tracks in January 2010 when I vowed never to buy one more tome, the phone numbers of my friends and contacts in my hard copy diary has diminished alarmingly. I can now call Paul, and Ian, my daughters. I can call home and talk to Rosemary. Or I can call my first cousin and godmother in Buenos Aires. There is Juan Manuel Sanchez. But the rest of my friends and contacts have gone away to other places. They have gone to places that exist or to places that I believe do not. Some simply do not want to be called or I have lost touch with or they lost touch with me. The book is slim.

But not the 2000 emails in my in Thunderbird in basket. No matter how nasty I try to purge them, they seem to remain. I delete the sent messages and the trash. Then there are all those email addresses in my Thunderbird address box and that neat feature where you type in the first couple of letters  and like magic the rest of the name spits out in an accurate prediction of one’s wishes.

All that is gone. My computer’s hard drive packed in its registry and the drive is now corrupted. Fortunately I had learned my lesson from a past similar experience and every picture I had in my hard drive, every picture I have taken with my iPhone and every Word document I have written I had transferred months ago to an exterior hard drive (a mirrored one which is two hard drive in one). But I had never bothered to back up my addresses. It is sometimes difficult to print out that address book. One method is to screen capture from A to C and so on and then print those. I never did that.

So if you have gotten to here and you have written to me and I have corresponded back, chances are that I will no longer do so. Some of the addresses are attached to web pages. I can find those. Some I can get from a phone call. But there are some I may never retrieve.

But then I can retrieve them. John Chan at Powersonic Technology Inc in Richmond says he can get at my Thunderbird (and those two downloaded podcasts of Writers and Company which featured an extensive interview with John Le Carre, sorry no accent, no Spanish keyboard as of yet) addresses for $25. But I wonder if I should? Could this be but a small and perhaps satisfying immolation of things that matter but not so much when they are gone?

Time will tell.



That Elusive Phantom - Self Reliance
Sunday, January 30, 2011

Horst and my Mamiya back

In 1975 we lived down the hill where Springer Avenue met up with Lougheed Highway by Brentwood in Burnaby. I would tune up the VW Beetle the old fashioned way, by ear. I would clean the old spark plugs and then I would re-gap them with a very nice English gapping tool I had. Then I would turn the distributor around until the engine idle sounded right. The next step was to drive up the hill while flooring the gas pedal. If the car hesitated I stopped and would then twist the distributor one way or another. My Canadian friends told me that nobody tuned-up cars like that. I was better off buying a tuning light gun which you pointed at the distributor and it would tell you if the gap was just right.

I was proud that I could be self-reliant and that I could do a lot of the mechanical work on the VW even though the location of the engine’s plugs were situated in a way that no matter what I did I would invariably scrape off skin from one of my fingers.

In Mexico my neighbours laughed at my yearly custom of removing the VW’s gasoline tank. This was a almost easy. I did this so I could swish paint thinner inside the tank and pour out all the gunk that Pemex Super Mexolina gas put into it. Even though I had an additional gas filter between the tank and the carburetor my tune-ups did not last long before the carburetor was all stopped up.

I enjoyed my self-reliance in a world where I more or less understood how things worked.

It took slipping clutches and all kinds of other mechanical problems with two generations of Fiat X-19s to dampen my enthusiasm for mechanical self-reliance. In a snowstorm my first Fiat, a lemon-yellow lemon gave out. I proceeded to push it and to try to re-start it being unaware that my Italian mechanical marvel had a timing belt. It had broken and every time the wheels of the car turned as I pushed it a cylinder would damage yet another valve.

I lost my self-reliance in all things car and depended on my Italian mechanic, who like me liked to tune by ear. This meant that those two Fiats had recurring slipping clutches and all kinds of weird problems that defied my imagination. A trip to San Francisco resulted in a broken constant velocity joint. The one Fiat dealer in San Francisco offered to buy the car from me. Had I been my Calabrian mechanic I would have slit his throat on the spot.

Then it even got worse when my Italian mechanic suggested I sell my Fiat to my daughter (poor Ale!) and buy the people’s Maserati, the Maserati Bi-Turbo. I did just that and from the very first weeks the engine gaskets went and I had water in the gas, oil in the water and gas in the oil. The clutch slipped. The electric windows stopped working, the air conditioner needed new coolant gas, and several more etcs to innumerate here.

But I was not to know quite yet that cars had not advanced into the next stage when my Italian mechanic would not be able to repair a car unless he had the proper engine diagnostic tools (early computers) and the expensive special tools needed for their repair.

Not three weeks ago, Horst Wenzel opened one of my Mamiya backs (the jumble of springs, gears defied my comprehension). He took it all apart and located the problem which was a broken spring. He made a new one and he put it all back together knowing where everything went. He explained with a pair of tweezers how a push here made something there nudge which in turn, rotated this over there. He looked at me (a man who repairs Leicas and Hasselblads) and told me, “Your (whatever German expression for piece of excrement can be put in here) is made of soft metal. It is a mess. It is a miracle that you have kept it going now for 30 years!”

I look at Wenzel and he looks at me. We are almost the same age. I use mechanical cameras and he repairs them. It is inevitable that our time is almost up and that one of us will go first.

As I reflect on that sobering fact I notice how self-reliance has changed and in some cases it has become almost the norm in this day and age where few people know anything and the few that do so are not to be found if you look for them.

The chances of finding help at Google, at Blogger are much reduced if by help you mean a human being who will talk to you either in person or on the phone. Try calling Telus about the bugs in your phone or your intermittent DSL internet connection.

To be fair the folks at Telus now promise to call you back and actually do so.

But self-reliance has morphed to the expression, “Look it up on the internet.”

When I brought my new computer home on Sunday, alas I had lost the neat keyboard setup I had. Whenever I pressed the right Alt key I could put here all manner of upside down ?,! and accents on all my Spanish vowels. It took me three hours on Sunday night to achieve something like that until I realized that my keyboard had eliminated dashes and single quotations marks looked like stuff in Russian bibles. The instructions on the net ( I printed them out) seemed to be ambiguous and useless.

When my doctor told me I had psoriatic arthritis he gave me several web pages to look up that informed me if I took the medicine he had prescribed I might have problems with my liver, with my blood pressure and worse of all that my wife Rosemary might just get bored.

" Look it up in the internet,"  seems to be the cry in the wilderness now to those of us who want to feel independent and self reliant.

Wherever I go, when I take my camera bag, I go equipped with all manner of jeweller’s screwdrivers, needle nose pliers and plenty of gaffer tape. I can do on the spot repairs (loose screws are the bane of mechanical cameras) and more often that not, when I have camera failure there is always some sort of plan B within by camera bag. My Mamiya may not be a Leica or a Hasselblad but it does provide me with the comfort, that sometimes I don’t need anybody’s help and that I can fend for myself.

My friend Horst Wenzel, Paul Leisz, and Grant Simmons and others would just laugh at me. The illusion is far more comforting than the experience of having a Nikon D-300 Model V-8 with its double sensor stop working and knowing that there is nothing, no screwdriver, no plier, no gaffer tape, nothing that will make it suddenly work again. The only solution is one just like the one that does not work. The only other solution is one that I am finding much more necessary now.

One must rely on others.



     

Previous Posts
Mumbai's Zona de Tolerancia

An Encounter with the Exotic at the York Theatre

Lauren & Casi-Casi Met Up

Edwin Varney - Unstampable

Edward Clendon River - Michael Turner & Modigliani...

The Progression of an Idea.

Boeing 747 The Queen of the Skies

In Search of My Relevance With The Goblin Market

Marv Newland's Scratchy - Itching Us On

Rain



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4/16/06 - 4/23/06

4/23/06 - 4/30/06

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