Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Not Gabrielle Rose or Meg Roe!
Saturday, February 12, 2011
|Gabriel Rose & Meg Roe on set.|
On Wednesday Rosemary and I will be attending the opening night performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
? at the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage. It stars Craig Erickson, Meg Roe, Kevin McNulty and Gabrielle Rose. It is directed by John Wright.
Our only other exposure to this play was Mike Nichols’ film starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sandy Dennis and George Segal. We saw the 1964 film at the Cine Chapultepec in 1968 (American films took a while to get to Mexico City) shortly after we had gotten married. We purchased our tickets and the man at the door demanded an ID to prove we were over 21. I was 26 and Rosemary was 24 but this made no difference to the man. We showed him our brand new wedding rings. That made no difference. Luckily we lived nearby and I ran back for our passports and we got in.
All I remember of the film was that it was in gritty black and white and that the camera sometimes got close and you could almost see the spit coming out of Richard Burton’s mouth when epithets began to fly.
This time around Rosemary and I will be prepared. I have rented the DVD from Videomatica and we are going to watch it Sunday night.
But there has been another preparation, and I would add that it is unusual.
On Thursday I had the pleasure (in only 30 minutes) of taking portraits of Gabrielle Rose (who plays the Elizabeth Taylor role of Martha) and Meg Roe (Sandy Dennis’ role of Honey) on the set at the Granville Island Stage. In retrospect I deplore my decision to use the part of the set featuring the 6's era record turntable! I also was able to take portraits of John Wright the director and patriarch of one of Canada’s most prolific thespian families. His portrait will appear here in a very near future.
and I are no strangers. I had photographed her three times before. But Meg Roe had never faced my camera before. It was a three years ago that when taking the portraits of Arts Club Theatre Company Director Bill Millerd
and Bard on the Beach Director Christopher Gaze
, that I first heard of Meg Roe. The two gentlemen were full of praise for the young woman and I remember Gaze telling me, “Not only can she act but she directs and is also an expert on theatre sound design.”
My first awareness of her directorial skills was the Playhouse production of William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker
in 2009. I saw the play twice
as after seeing it with Rosemary I took my granddaughter Rebecca to see it, too.
It was in 2010, also at the Vancouver Playhouse in Joan MacLeod’s Toronto, Mississippi
that my initial confusion led to sheer amazement. Rosemary reads her program before any play begins. I choose to be surprised. There was this young girl on stage (Meg Roe looks a lot younger than her 30 years) who seemed to be speaking with a speech impediment and acting strangely. Was she on drugs I wondered? Rosemary explained that she was playing an autistic teenager. That is when my confusion became amazement at what was a virtuoso performance. It was a virtuoso performance no less a one than the one I had come from Gabrielle Rose in the 2008 performance of Doubt
at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre.
As I photographed the two women individually and together I enjoyed my sheer luck at being so close to an art form that is mostly an alien one to one who does not practice it. To watch a good actor or actress (I am old-fashioned) is no different to watching a virtuoso violinist or listening to a good writer how it is they write.
Judging from what I already know about Meg Roe and Gabrielle Rose, the opening of Who’s Afraid of
will be a sonic fireworks of words in which the acting by Craig Erickson and Kevin McNulty will be icing on the cake.
The Miracle Worker
The Great Expectations Of Judy Brown
Friday, February 11, 2011
Neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive by any random means, as a parasite, a moocher or a looter, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment - so he is free to seek his happiness in any irrational fraud, any whim, any delusion, any mindless escape from reality, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment nor to escape the consequences.
Ayn Rand – The Virtue of Selfishness
In 1964 I was madly in love with a 5ft tall reddish blonde girl from California called Judy Brown. Her ancillary claim to fame was that her father often played tennis with Charles M. Schulz.
It was tonight when Rosemary, Rebecca and I went to the Gateway Theatre production of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations
(adapted to the stage by Vancouver’s own Errol Durbach) that I finally figured it all out.
I had met Judy Brown at the University of the Americas by way of my friend Robert Hijar who was studying fine arts while I was attempting to figure out the difference between resistance, capacitance and induction. Hijar was in the art department and girls (as we called them then without any guilt) gravitated to him perhaps because of the exotic smell of Liquitex.
Robert, Judy and I would go to Jazz Mondays at the Benjamin Franklin Library (it was run by the USIS). The three of us would listen to Gerry Mulligan and Lenny Tristano. Robert would sketch cars that resembled (how did he know then?) shoes while I sipped on my strong Nescafé and stared at Judy who I thought was as lovely as a woman could possibly be. She might have been reading Salinger, but I am not that sure.
Behind us were (they were there almost every Monday) a couple of Mexican gentlemen who always seemed to wear pastel colour shirts. They looked queer and I suspect that by being so obvious they could practice their trade of spies for the US Government unimpeded. Reason compels me to believe they may have simply been Mexicans who like us liked jazz.
Mondays at the Benjamin Franklin Library were followed by frequent visits to our Filipino Doctora who worked for the United Nations. We would go to her apartment on Tamaulipas Street and played mah-jong while eating Filipino food.
The first time I showed up with Judy Brown in tow everybody who knew me was astounded. Up until that time I had never ever showed any outward desire for women. Word quickly spread and when my mother who was teaching at an American school in Veracruz found out she invited me immediately to visit with the new girlfriend.
This I did and I remember the pleasant night trip (there were others) on an ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) bus to Veracruz. I would lay my head on Judy Brown’s lap. She was reluctant. She kept telling me she had a boyfriend in California called Allan. She did not speak much of him, but just enough to unsettle me.
It was on that first bus ride that she unleashed on me her belief that we humans were inherently selfish. Even dying for someone else, the supreme sacrifice I thought, was instigated by the sacrificer/hero’s desire for personal pleasure and happiness. No matter how hard I tried Judy Brown was adamant. She kept quoting a woman called Ayn Rand I had ever heard of.
This “relationship” dragged on and one day Judy Brown told me that she did not have the capacity to love anybody because she rejected it as just another manifestation of her selfishness. How Judy Brown disappeared from my life I cannot remember to this day. I sometimes wonder if she allowed herself to be latched on to me so that she could go to beach in Veracruz or to practice her Spanish.
While as a young boy I had met my first Estella (Isabel Opisso) who was an icy and haughty Castilian Filipina in a suburb of Buenos Aires called Anchorena I had not realized yet the power of the icy woman who ignores all (or at least this one) men. I was around 6. It took two or three more years before I read Great Expectations and fell in love with Estella who even then looked exactly as that Isabel I had met a couple of years before.
To prepare Rebecca for tonight’s performance we watched the David Lean Great Expectations
with Jean Simmons as the young Estella. She liked the film and insisted we got back to the part where Jean Simmons allows the young Pip to kiss her and later when she slaps him. After the second viewing Rebecca asked me, “Why is it that boys fall for women who are cold and torture them?” I could not answer but to say, “Men like women who are hard to get.”
After the first act it seems that during the interval Rebecca and I had an altercation. She raised her voice and told me I was selfish. At that point I lost my temper and gave her the Judy Brown spiel on how we are always selfish even when we think we are not. I told her that I was tired of being called selfish by a young girl seeing that I was her grandfather. We patched up.
It all came back today after a pleasant afternoon of Toy Story 3. The word selfish was used again.
But I understand a bit more this time around. I get it thanks to Mia Ingimundson’s icy but paradoxically understanding performance. I could sense some humanity and sadness at her inability to understand love and to give it back when faced with it.
Even though I may be Rebecca’s grandfather, could it be that Dickens may have had it right and that there is something of Estella in all women in much the same way that we men must be Pip, too?
Addendum: For those who might be curious about the photographs. I used a Pentacon F with 50mm f:2.8 Tessar and a 85mm Komura f:1.8. The film was Agfa Isopan Record pushed to 1250 ASA and processed in Agfa Atomal New. The light was the single candle.
Blowing In The Wind & Turkey Pot Pie
Thursday, February 10, 2011
|My mother at the piano|
Today’s blog begins sometime before Christmas 2010 with a turkey that my friend Paul Leisz brought as a Christmas gift. We had already planned for a ham and we had indeed bought one. We put the turkey in the freezer until we could figure out what to do.
It was around 1948, I was 6 years old and Monica invited me to her birthday party. She sent her father with a brand new 1947 Chevrolet with plush cloth interior. Until I was 11 or 12 I became motion sick in anything that moved, including trams, cars, swings and worst of all merry-go-rounds. Halfway to Monica’s house I threw up in the car. I made a mess. When we got to the party they were serving a wonderful Argentine pizza. I was hungry. I indicated I wanted a slice. There was silence in the room and they told me that I was much too sick to eat anything. In retrospect I must have left their brand new car a mess and they didn’t want me to make it worse. I have a vivid memory of the gray interior of the car. What I did in that car, resembled the insides of Rosemary’s turkey pot pie we had today, Thursday.
It was around 1948 that my mother and I would take tram 35 on Nahuel Huapí Street to town to visit my grandmother Lolita. The trip was sheer torture every time the tram would curve this way or that way. When we got to Abue’s apartment we would often find my Uncle Tony and my Aunt Dolly. Uncle Tony had a lovely tenor voice and he sometimes played a recorder. My Aunt Dolly played an efficient violin and my grandmother has a beautiful coloratura soprano. My mother accompanied on the piano. I was much too young to appreciate all this and I would sit on the floor quite bored.
The afternoon began with my mother playing Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven. I remember even though I was bored that she always gave us a wonderful rendering of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
After the piano solos the three of them (Aunt Dolly did not sing) would take out sheet music and play and sing music by Gershwin and many other songs from American musicals. Some of the songs were of Filipino origin and my Uncle Tony sang in Tagalog. Other songs were in Spanish and my grandmother sang a particular Ave María from a composer called Santiago.
I don’t remember if we ate anything after. My mother would then take me home in the meandering Tram 35.
Rosemary came up with the idea of inviting Paul Leisz and his girlfriend Amy for turkey dinner last Saturday. My eldest daughter Ale was going to be in town and we suggested that both bring their guitars to play. Rebecca is learning guitar at school and we thought she might learn a few tricks from Paul and Ale.
The three sat in the living room and Ale produced the inevitable addition to any modern home concert which is the laptop which can instantly show the lyrics and chords of just about anything.
Rebecca was soon slightly irritated in not being able to accompany the more experience duo and shifted her efforts to singing. Rebecca, I must assert here has a very nice voice and we were charmed by the trio while Amy suggested songs and at some points sang, too. Lauren (inheriting from her grandfather) kept telling us she was bored. She attempted to play two Australian aboriginal sticks but the noise drove me insane. I told her to going back to being bored.
Rosemary and I both enjoyed the evening and even more so when Amy pointed out that we had three generations at the sofa. When we first arrived in Vancouver, the first Canadian we met was Paul. Ale was only 7. With Rebecca as third generation this was special.
Every song I asked for they played. I asked for some obvious nuggets like Blowing in the Wind
and Leaving on a Jet Plane
. But they also played a more difficult California Dreaming
and Nick Lowe’s Cruel to be Kind.
We never did finish the turkey so we have been eating it ever since. Today Rosemary made a delicious turkey pot pie. As I looked at the inside (the pie crust was flaky and browned just right), I thought about a brand new Chevrolet. And…
Fred Herzog - Reading Pictures
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
|Photo by Fred Herzog|
While I have known German-born Vancouver photographer for some years I did not deal with him professionally until 1996 when a Memphis, Tennessee publisher commissioned writer Peter C. Newman to write a book about Vancouver and for me to be the its photo editor. I immediately called on Fred Herzog, already a legend then in his expertly taken street pictures that he captured with the colourful, but difficult to use (slow and you had to be extremely accurate with exposure), Kodak Kodachrome transparency film. Some of us were invited every once in a while for slide projections in his house. Even to this day of digital projection and huge flat screen monitors, nothing can top a properly exposed and focused slide on a screen courtesy of a good slide projector.
I asked Herzog to pick some of his favourite views of Vancouver and to go back to the same spot (that a German would know precisely what focal length of lens he would have used the first time around was a given!) and take the picture again. The book, Vancouver Living Well
was a pleasant and beautiful book, more so because of the considerable contribution of Fred Herzog.
|Photos by Fred Herzog|
Herzog's use of Kodachrome film to take his best pictures in the 50s, 60s and on, brought with it the limitation that while this film was excellent in every possible way, its reproduction onto paper, be it normal colour reversal paper or the more expensive Cibachrome, were not up to snuff. The reproduction of photographic slides that would show all the detail embedded in them had to wait until the beginning of the 21st century with the advent of the drum scan and the well made inkjet print, given the art speak denomination of a giclée. It is the giclée that graced the wall of the Equinox Gallery tonight.
When I saw Herzog’s giclées at his first big show at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2007 I was amazed at their quality. Finally, the medium of photography had caught up to the art gallery. Finally, the prints did justice to Herzog’s expertise in handling a small camera with slow film and being able to take pictures in low light, in some cases off the cuff, before the image changed or the people of his pictures moving out of frame. Herzog did not have such modern tools as the anti shake technology of the modern digital camera or auto focus. He had to make do with equipment that would now be considered as passé as the cars from the 50s and 60s that so often appear in his views of a Vancouver that was, and is no more.
In that splendid show at the VAG, there was one moment that pretty much broke my heart. Herzog, who must be at least ten years older than I am and looking pretty frail said something like this:
I am very grateful to the VAG for this show and all their efforts. I just wish I would have been discovered when I was younger and in better health.”
There are many who will accuse me of being a spoil sport and of sheer jealousy. They would be to some extent right. I have yet to be "discovered" and I do believe that my photo files might be as important as Herzog’s. I might complain and use as an excuse that while Herzog stuck to street pictures in colour I did all kinds of stuff and by not being pigeonholed I am less likely to be ever discovered.
While Herzog is now selling his prints for good money and is finally (ample proof that God indeed does exist!) paying off bills, I have had a bit of struggle through the years and even more so now.
With that out of the way here is my impression of his show at the Equinox: Fred Herzog: Reading Pictures
I was completely underwhelmed in the presence of overwhelmingly beautiful photographs. Some of them called Early Photographs
in an upstairs room had some especially arresting ones. These were particularly so because as a photographer I could see the difficulty of shooting late in the afternoon when neon light was beginning to bathe the sidewalks and Herzog captured a couple crossing the street with the man looking back. At best of times, even with a digital camera, this would have been a tough shot. Herzog got it, with no excuses. It is superb.
I was completely underwhelmed in the presence of overwhelmingly beautiful photographs.
I told my friend Ian McGuffie, who had a wide smile on his face as a result of the wonderful show, “Ian these pictures almost leave me cold. I think it is because I am getting old and I have seen too many pictures. I am cynical and jaded.” McGuffie was quick to counter with, “Do you feel the same about your photographs?” I just as quickly replied, “Yes.” But I may not have been entirely honest. My photography involves the portraiture of people I love or know. I like to reveal a bit of their inner being and this pleases me. Yes, I am satisfied with my pictures, because they satisfy me. That's what counts even if I will never be discovered as Fred Herzog has been.
But I believe there is more to this than just that. Like Cartier-Bresson, Herzog worked in a loneliness of one who had mastered the use of a camera in an era where few owned a camera or had the knowledge to go out and take pictures. I argue that if Cartier-Bresson came to Vancouver as a young man he would be on employment insurance in a short while. There are many more photographers out there shooting scenes in the street with cameras that make the task a bit less onerous. We see them everywhere, on facebook, of Flickr and even in large sections of the National Geographic
where if they use your picture you get photo credit glory and no more. We are inundated with colour, we are inundated with colour pictures. We are inundated with perfectly sharp, punchy and colourful pictures of India (taken by someone who lives on Sperling Avenue in Burnaby) or of grand pictures of monasteries in Tibet snapped by someone who hails from Surrey or the Westside. The exotic is commonplace. But paradoxically for Herzog, the commonplace of yesteryear is now the new exotic.
Few at Herzog’s show today might have appreciated the sometimes muted colours or the lack of punchy contrast. If anything the show was a photographer’s photographer show.
It is this loneliness of approach, of Herzog’s loneliness of approach, that finally did me in and I had to leave the great show with a tail between my legs. But my quick exit should not diminish my admiration for someone who justly deserves all the acclaim that has finally come to him! And my quick exit should not diminish in any way that this is a show that should not be missed.
La Noche Boca Arriba
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I was at a corner, exactly the one at the foot of Seymour and Cordova waiting for a bus. My bus was the Lomas Chapultepec that normally goes from the neighbourhood of the well off, Lomas de Chapultepec to downtown Mexico City. The route takes it through the lovely boulevard, Paseo de La Reforma.
I felt odd, not because I was waiting for the wrong bus on the wrong street corner, but because I felt unbalanced. I suddenly realized I was missing my right shoe so I was off balance for that reason. I looked around and could not find any traces of my right shoe. When I saw that my bus was coming I made the decision to take off my left shoe. But the sidewalk was filthy and full of gravel. I was uncomfortable. I wondered what the passengers might think of the fact that I was shoeless.
I woke up.
I went in through one of the side doors of the Drake Hotel. This particular door was next to the stripper’s stage and I saw a dancer on the floor who winked at me and said, “Hello, Alex.” I ignored her and went into the bar where I found my father. I sat down. He looked exactly as I remembered him in the early 50s when he took me to the movies to a película de c
onboys. “Alex, the place is closing down so we must leave now.” We got up and we left.
I woke up.
Since I can remember I have dreamt. My dreams have always been colourful. There are a few that put me into my St. Edward’s High School boarding school as a mature student in his late 20s who is simply going back to school because the school is so much fun. In many of these dreams I knock on the door of the inner sanctum where the Brothers of Holy Cross lived. We were never permitted to enter and I have never entered in any of my dreams. All the brothers look exactly as I remembered them and they have not aged. It is only in June 2010 that my granddaughter Rebecca and I spent a week in that inner sanctum. We both had individual rooms and we had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the brothers who all looked as they look now and not then.
When I first became interested in girls when I was somewhere between 7 and 9 I attempted to force my dreams into the direction of experiencing being with the girls that I had a particular liking for at the time. One was called Susan Stone and the other Mary Lou Chase. These forced dreams never went anywhere and I would invariably fall asleep. I learned then that I had to take dreams as they came.
I have been a fan of British writer Graham Greene since I read The Power and the Glory
many years ago. I have always been attracted to writers who in some way wrote about their personal doubts in their approach to God. I have been partial to Chesterton and Waugh for the same reason. When I found out that Greene had a little book by his night table in which he would write his dreams before he forgot them, I was charmed!
I have never gone that far but I do consider my dreams and give them much importance while discounting anything Freud or Jung might have said about their meaning.
The ultimate dream story is Julio Cortázar’s La Noche Boca Arriba
(the Night Face Up) from his book Ceremonias
. In it a man is having a particular nightmare on a hospital bed. He had been riding a motorcycle in a crowded city and was hit by a car. His dream is the same one except that it progresses. He is a captured soldier from a vassal tribe of the Aztecs and he knows he is going to be ultimately taken up a pyramid and have his heart torn out with an obsidian knife. He always manages to wake up in the hospital bed and tells himself it is only a dream. At the end of the story when the blood stained priest raised the knife to plunge it on his chest he comes to find that the strange place with vehicles that seemed to move on their own volition and the hospital bed are in a place alien to him and that the reality of the obsidian knife is the only one. He dies. He does not wake up.
Without having any scientific knowledge to back it up I find my dreams as real as my waking life. The difference is that I seem to have an apparent possibility of changing the course of the events that affect the life that I live awake. Asleep I can observe, suffer, worry but I cannot change anything. Events control me even in the one recurrent dream where I go to an airport (I do not know what country) with plenty of time to go through the boarding procedures. The airplane is a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 and for some reason I am going to Rio. No matter how many times I have had this dream (or at least in the versions I can remember) the airplane has never taken off.
While I dream I have never been much affected by drugs. In fact I remember once when Maurice Depas of the pop band Maurice and the Clichés, pretty well forced me to smoke some very strong has at Wreck Beach. He knew I never took drugs. He wanted to use me as his guinea pig. After a few puffs of it in my Petersen pipe (the pipe was ruined after that) I told Maurice, “This stuff has no effect on me except I cannot move any of my limbs. I am numb.” On another occasion in Mexico my English friend Andrew Taylor bought some peyote at the market. He and Raúl Guerrero Montemayor watched me as I ate the stuff. After a long while where they all stared at me and kept asking me, “Do you feel anything?” I threw up and that was it.
Another time at Gary Taylor’s a chubby woman came up to me and said, “I like you. Hold out you hand.” She deposited a mound of white powder. Knowing that there was not much I could do except to be curious I sniffed it up. The woman came back and with a smile said, “Well?” My reply seemed to confuse her. “I feel like I have gone up the stairs of the Buenos Aires subway and I am approaching the street. The hot stuffy air of the subway is now being replaced by a cold blast of fresh air.
In short I have never been affected much by drugs of any kind except until now.
My rheumatologist has prescribed powerful drug called Methotrexate. I take three pills once, once a week. The doctor says that after a couple of months I will feel relief in my joints and my pinkies might just not hurt so much. But I have to have a blood test every month to check what the drug might do to some of my organs like my liver. The doctor gave me a long list of web pages that inform me of all possible side effects, none pretty at all.
But none of the web sites list the one side effect that I am suffering but also in a way enjoying and which must be a result of the drug.
Because of my certain age and since I am a male there are some nights where I might have to get out of bed to discharge nonexistent liquids in the men’s room. This means that every time I wake up and I am usually dreaming I can now remember more of my dreams. Some of them like the one of the Mexican bus are vivid even days later. Going back to bed I feel the anticipation of feeling as if I were getting ready to read a new novel lying on my night table.
These dreams seem (I have no experience in the matter to opine) like dreams I might have from ingesting psychedelic products. As far as I can tell it must be the Methotrexate.
If I were less disturbed and more of a hypochondriac I might, just like that ancient captured warrior, feel fear at falling asleep.
Potential Energy -The Human Kind
Monday, February 07, 2011
Early in the morning of July 16, 1945 in New Mexico an explosion brought to light (literally) the full potential of Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc2.
With the use of statistics one can predict the possibility that the wrench you see here which is lying on my scanner glass could in a near or far off future, suddenly become heavy enough (or the glass become weak enough) the wrench would crash through. At the moment of my scan, gravity pulled on the wrench which reacted by exerting a force in the opposite direction and thus it stays on the glass without moving.
I have always been fascinated by potential energy. It is easy to understand that a piece of very dry wood has stored in it 8600Btus of chemical energy. All you need is a match to prove it.
The idea of potential energy has been in my mind of late as I attempt to find former classmates from my school years at St. Edward’s High School. The school (now only a university) is holding an all year’s reunion at the end of May. I am attempting to help to make sure that this event brings as many people as possible.
A few days ago I located a former classmate, Arthur Buell Hiatt. I was told that he likes to keep to himself. He is living in Austin and has not seen his former roommate from the University of Texas since the mid 70s. His friend (also a former classmate at the high school) and Arthur Hiatt spent almost two years as roommates.
Arthur’s former roommate explained to me that Arthur Hiatt was probably as reclusive as he himself is and he is not really interested in meeting up with him. I was left perplexed by the explanation.
If I were in Austin I would go to Arthur Hiatt’s house and ring the bell. I have not seen him since we graduated in 1961. I would say hi and then I would attempt to hug him. To date Arthur Hiatt has not returned my call. That perplexes me, too.
Why is this?
Consider this last incredible paragraph of a review of Stefan Kanfer’s (I was a fan of Kanfer in the 60s and 70s when he was a columnist/writer for Time Magazine
) biography, The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart
in this past Sunday’s New York Times
Book Review. The writer, Holly Brubach (writes frequently for the NY Times) says:
Bogart’s appeal was and remains completely adult – so adult it’s hard to imagine he was ever young. If men who take responsibility are hard to come by in films these days, it’s because they’re hard to come by, period, in an era when being a kid for life is the ultimate achievement, and “adult” as it pertains to film is just a euphemism for pornography
That paragraph is reinforced by the beautiful photograph of a young man. I showed it to Rosemary and I asked her if she knew who it was. She did not know and was surprised when I told her it was Bogart.
I would show the picture here but I am not in any desire to be sued by the folks of Getty Images who are currently attempting to secure all rights to the images of Jahweh, all the angels, the saints, including St. Augustine and even his mother Monica.
The lovely picture of Bogart does not reveal anything of the potential that was certainly in him to be whom he became and whom we love and respect now.
By a coincidence the three of us, Arthur Hiatt, his UT roommate Howard Houston and I are on the same page of our 1961 yearbook, The Edwardian.
If I could I would show you a picture of the dashing Howard Houston outside his F-5 fighter in which he trained to be a pilot and then flew many missions in Viet Nam as a KC-135 tanker pilot. You who read this blog know that I eventually became a magazine photographer. But what of Arthur B. Hiatt? What became of him? What was his potential? The three pictures of us in the yearbook are really no different than a picture of three pieces of firewood, all chemical potential energy in BTUs!
To me there must be a curiosity inherent in all of us to want to discover the potential that became a reality in those that passed through our lives and in some ways left us with something of themselves.
When I do go to Austin, Texas at the end of May, I willl go to Arthur Hiatt’s house and ring the bell.
Arthur B. Hiatt & Those Black Cordovan Chukkas
Sunday, February 06, 2011
I first noticed the young man when I saw his shoes.
It was 1960 and I was in the 12th grade at St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas. It may have been one of the first days of the school year or it may have been not. But I do remember that it was in Forrest Wright’s Civics class. I remember a lot about Mr. Wright's class because he wore shiny brown shoes that Americans call chukkas. He had been a soldier in WWII and he told us of a famous boulevard in Paris called Chance for an Easy Lay.
I first noticed Arthur B. Hiatt when I saw his shoes. They were black cordovan. They were scuffed just right. I had never seen anything like them before. I knew the story of the British Army desert boots (mostly hearsay in my opinion) that they were a bit higher in the ankle to prevent sand from seeping in. They originally had crepe soles and were brown or light tan suede. These were not suede they were black cordovan (a strip of leather from the upper back of a horse). They were beautiful. I looked at the quiet almost taciturn young man wearing and instantly had a liking for him. He rarely volunteered opinions in class. Like me he may have been a bit shy. But after a few conversations with him I knew he was just as intelligent as another friend of mine Howard Houston. Both were day students. We boarders tended to ignore day students and more so because they had the privilege of being able to have and drive a car. It was verboten to us even though Lee Lytton III had a 57 Chevrolet convertible hidden somewhere and he drove it on weekends. He took me for a drive once and he tried to make think that the automatic transmission was three on the floor!
Before Christmas, this past year I spotted a pair of these black desert boots (which Americans like to call chukkas) at my Oakridge Hudson’s Bay. They did not have my size as I now need a half size larger size to accommodate my orthotics. They promised to call me when they received a new batch. They never did.
But those black chukkas, and their original owner, Arthur B. Hiatt have been in my mind since.
After I graduated from St. Ed’s I never saw Hiatt again. Only recently I found out that he was a roommate with Howard Houston for a couple of years at the University of Texas. Houston, like Hiatt was intelligent with no need to excel or try too hard to get by. Perhaps that made them friends. In any case when I Skyped Houston he told me that he last saw Hiatt in the early 70s and that he had, “gone hippie on us.”
Now I have made it a pastime the last couple of years to find my fellow classmates from St. Ed’s and then convince them to attend our reunions in Austin. I have found many of my friends including John Ryals
who had been dead for many years.
But Hiatt has drawn a blank in all my search efforts. I found one Arthur B. Hiatt who was a crew member of the USS Sirago (SS485), a diesel submarine that was decommissioned in 1974. Arthur B. Hiatt, according to the US Navy registry had been an ensign, in 1949 and 1950.
I did not think that this was my Arthur B. Hiatt. But I did find Arthur B. Hiatt’s house in Austin and it was listed as a modern, 50s Austin house. I could not find anything more since obviously my fellow student would have moved out probably not long after he graduated in 1961. From Vancouver it would have been much too complicated to search Austin home records.
I told Howard Houston today about my find. He told me that the submarine Hiatt was the right Hiatt. It was Arthur B. Hiatt Jr’s father. He further told me that the B stood for Buell.
With that new information I went back to my search engine and located an Arthur B. Hiatt in partnership (kitchen cabinets) with an Antonius Kramer who have a business in Buda, Texas.
I left a message at the business number listed and it is my hope that the original owner of those flashy black cordovan chukkas will have been found at last.
St.Ed's Alumni Web Site
Addendum, February 7:
I talked to Antonius Kramer's wife who confirmed that Arthur (Art) Buell Hiatt is indeed her husband's partner and that they are in the cabinet business. She told me that Art and his wife, who live in Austin, rarely answer the phone. Mrs. Kramer gave me an address. I called up Mike O'Connell (Class of 1967) who has promised me that he will pass by and ring on Art's doorbell.