Raúl's StaircaseSaturday, December 15, 2012
|Raúl Guerrero Montemayor & friend|
On Sunday I am off to Mexico City to visit my extremely ill friend, Raúl Guerrero Montemayor. He has prostate cancer and he is going to be 86 on Sunday.
Because my father left our house in Buenos Aires when I was 8, I was left without a father. In spite of everything I always had a very soft spot in my heart for him and when we reunited in Buenos Aires when I was 21 it was a happy occasion.
My cousin Roberto Miranda when he saw I was squandering my future in my early 20s asked me what I needed in order to become a photographer. With his American Express Card we went to American Photo Supply on Calle Madero in Mexico City and he bought all I needed to process and print b+w film. Without him I would have never become a photographer.
And then there was Raúl Guerrero Montemayor. When I returned to Mexico from my military service in Argentina I was floundering and confused. He invited me to stay with him in his apartment on Río Elba in the not-quite-yet fashionable Zona Rosa in Mexico City. He gave me a crash course on teaching English as a second language (the Berlitz method) and got me a job which paid well.
Guerrero decided I needed to be culturally improved and took me to see European films (¡Monica Vitti!! ¡ay, ay!), concerts and in numerous coffee shop outings taught me about literature and the culture of his favourite cities, Paris, Vienna and Budapest. Through him I met a Hungarian baroness, Filipino diplomats, French jazz players and quite a few writers and poets. It was during this period that I met my Rosemary Healey and Guerrero was a witness at our wedding. A few years later he was the godfather of our youngest daughter Hilary (the mother of Rebecca and Lauren).
For the pictures I used Kodak Tri-X, Agfa IFF and Ilford HP-5. I processed the negatives but was unable to print them until a bit later when I finally obtained my darkroom with the help of my cousin, Roberto Miranda. The soft focus effect I achieved by removing (unscrewing) the front element of a Komura 85mm F-1.8 lens.
The beautiful Filipino woman with Raúl is another blank in my memory. The close cropped pictures are of a Filipino friend of Guerrero’s, Nonong Quezon who was the son of the first president of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon. The young man with the cigarette was another Filipino friend. One morning he and I had a competition. We each had a bowl of cornflakes. I had mine with a spoon and he with a chopsticks. I lost as he finished them all in a few slurps and swoops. Andrew Taylor, the man with the pipe was and is my Yorkshire born friend. He was the one who probably took the snap of Rosemary and me. Shelley Humphrey is my first cousin.
|Andrew Taylor, Esquire|
|Rosemary & Alex|