Nobody Sang For Adam - God Did
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Malcolm Parry, former editor of Vancouver Magazine,
during its golden age in the 80s, Vancouver Sun
gossip columnist and also my friend has often defined for me what he calls the privileged position. Anybody can buy tickets for a play and sit smack in the middle of the front row. If lucky you can also buy tickets for a theater-in-the-round experience and get the action from all the angles.
But only a few can get the next best thing, that Parry-Privileged-Position of looking down when everybody is looking up. In November of 2008 I saw Bill Dow in a Main Street Production of David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross
at the Little Mountain Studio on East 26 Avenue at Main Street. I was in a room in which the chairs were lined up against the walls. The actors would stomp around us, just about stepping on our feet and the action, loud, was jarring, in our face and wonderful.
|Gabrielle Rose & Meg Roe|
Since then I have been to very good theatre in Vancouver but that Glengarry Glen Ross has lingered in my memory.
I have seen lots of very good avant-garde, most of it courtesy of the Electric Company Theatre. No Exit
, Eadweard Muybridge - Studies in Motion
and Tear the Curtain
come to mind. The latter was a co-production with the Arts Club Theatre as Bill Millerd knows what’s good when he sees it.
Yesterday at noon my wife and Rosemary were privy to a theatrical co-production between the Electric Company Theatre and The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company called All The Way Home
. It is a play written by Tad Mosel (slightly modified to make the geographical place names Kamloops and Merritt, BC). It had virtuoso acting and most pleasant singing. It is directed by Kim Collier.
That would be enough to signal for a long lineup to buy tickets (the shows did sell out). But there was more. There was more that would get an approval from the finicky and demanding Malcolm Parry.
The show was at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Entrance to this show came via the back stage entrance on Beatty Street. Why? Because we the audience sat on, around and in-between the set, smack in the middle of the stage.
For most of us (although I have been back stage many times) the stage can seem smaller than it is. But once you are on it you can understand why Emily Molnar, Artistic Director of Ballet BC
would be reluctant to save money by moving to the Playhouse. The stage is huge and most appropriate for a modern ballet company. I can see why the Vancouver Opera
would never move to the Orpheum. The Queen Elizabeth stage is a cavern and with the few lights that were on it seemed to me like I was about to cross the River Styx to Hades.
This play features a ghost but there were many more that I could sense all around me. We were sitting on low benches, others at a kitchen table or in cushions by the living room. There was a mat by my feet. It was during the play that Rosemary and I discovered we were at the entrance to the house. Actors would pass us by (inches away) and they would wipe their shoes.
|Kim Collier & Jonathon Young|
The ghosts I could sense were the ghosts of performances past. Chrissie Hynde would have stood “there” and Evelyn Hart would have tiptoed backwards from her poison in Romeo & Juliet “here”. Was I sitting in the very place were Cio-Cio goes behind a screen, cutting her throat with her father's hara-kiri knife?
I do not want to reveal much of the plot, which is about a family sometime during or right before WW-I. The mother, Mary Follet (played by the inimitable Meg Roe) is a devout Catholic, her husband Jay is a gentle atheist who just might fall off the wagon. Jordan Follet plays their young son Ivan who is the cement that binds the family. There are too many surprises which future playgoers will discover. It is only at the end that we the audience watch the curtains go up and look into an empty theatre. The feeling is one that left me satiated but empty at the same time. We quietly left without wanting to speak to anybody we knew. It is that kind of a play. It is that kind of a play where the avant-garde is not really in the production, the special effects or anything else. It is all internal, put there by a cast that knows what it is doing. Sitting in the round I don’t think I have ever seen more tears.
I don't think that sitting on that other side of the Queen Elizabeth stage will ever be again the same for me.
I am illustrating this blog with some iPhone pictures I snapped of the set during the intermission. The other photos are of the actors which I have taken through the years. If Alessandro Juliani looks like Henry V it is indeed the case! The picture of Tom McBeath I took for his role in The Caretaker
a production of the The Playhouse Theatre Company in 2003. I believe that Bill Dow was the director.
|Jonathan Young & Meg Roe|
Photo courtesy of the Electric Company Theatre
The Phone Rang & She Never Undraped
Friday, January 13, 2012
In the early 80s I was sunning myself sans clothing on Wreck Beach when I spotted a couple nearby. They were both handsome (he, was at least). She was what in Spanish we would describe as monumental (pronounced with an emphasis on the a). While her breasts were as perfect as I had ever seen it was the combination of breasts, red hair, white skin, wide hips and an extremely narrow waist that would have made me tongue-tied to reply had she even said, “Hi.” Her companion went to the edge of the water and placed two portable tape recorders about 10 ft apart. Years later when we became friends he told me he had attempted to record the sea noises in stereo.
Somehow I did get to talk to her a few years later and I photographed her many times both clothed and unclothed. I was even fortunate enough to photograph her sister Julia
a few times, too.
In those 80s and 90s when my photographic hormones were raging, my single ambition was to photograph women in situations where they would part with their clothes as quickly as possible.
In those 80s and 90s Vancouver, did not have agencies in which you could casually call and ask for a model who would pose in the nude. There were no on-line modeling sites like One Model Place or Model Mayhem where you could instantly communicate your needs and even be able to choose between the “Brazilian” or “non-Brazilian” hirsuteness in those areas called Flandes (the lower countries) by Spaniards. At Emily Carr where I taught occasionally in the 90s the models in the life drawing classes looked like unemployed babushkas.
Those were the days when photographers would lure women into their studios (I must clarify here that I was not one of those) with the idea (a mistaken one) that if you offered the girls (we could call them that then) wine, pot and played loud heavy metal music they would go from two straps on that bathing suit, to one and from there to no strap. If you were really good the top would fly (if the girl were wearing a bikini) and the bottom soon after.
My technique worked well for me and still does. I just put my cards on the table and ask.
Sometimes I did not need to ask. I would get calls from women I did not know who would tell me they wanted me to take pictures of them. I would answer that I was expensive and that they best go to Sears or to Sooter’s Studio for portraits. It was at that point when these women would say something like, “No. I need special photographs.” I knew exactly what it was they wanted but most times I would not answer and allow the silence to become pregnant. The women would stutter and gasp and finally they would blurt out, “I want to be photographed in the nude before gravity takes its toll.”
Since the late 70s I have indulged in this favourite pastime of mine which is to photograph the undraped female figure.
The young lady shown here is called Virve
. My wife was usually quite silent of these particular photographic pursuits of mine. Perhaps she was silent but seething inside. She is reserved so I might never know. But I do know that when Virve came to my garden on sunny afternoon in late summer of 1988 and she posed in the garden that things were going to be different. Every few minutes Rosemary would open some window and call out to me that there was a phone call for me. The interruptions were numerous.
I will never know what it was that made Rosemary act like this with Virve, who if you note here kept most of her clothes for the whole afternoon. No, let me clear this up here. She never did remove her clothes.
Looking at this file I was struck the fact (and I have to bang on my own drum here) that as good as I think I might be in the photography of the undraped female, I am not all that bad with them draped.
And consider that in many of the pictures here I discovered the technique of using a mirror as a reflector.
Through it all Virve was patient, flexible and if any insects or spiders where in her close proximity she never did say.
When Virve talks, and particularly when she talks to men, she tends to go an octave higher and the sound of her voice resembles that of a cat lady talking to her cats. It is that cutsy, sort of sexy tone that is why I may have had so many phone calls on that sunny, summer afternoon.
Addendum: Looking at the Professional Colour Print proof (they drew over the proof with a ballpoint so that one could not use it) I note slight differences. I believe that that original negative has been lost and the one I scanned here is a close second.
From A Descent Inspiration
Thursday, January 12, 2012
| El Descendimiento - Rogier van der Weyden |
I was standing in front of an oil on oak panel 220 x 262 cm. I was at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid in the mid 80s. The painting had the title Rogier van der Weyden – El Descendimiento.
It was breathtaking. I knew this because I had done my homework. Before my wife Rosemary and my two daughters, Ale and Hilary, and I had gone on our trip to Spain I had read James A. Michener’s Iberia
. Of the painting he wrote:
The most important picture in the Flemish section
[of the Prado Museum], however is of quite a different kind. Many critics have held it to be one of the four or five most significant paintings in the world, and I know two experts who deem it the best canvas ever painted. It is of particular interest to anyone visiting the Prado, for it illustrates better than words can explain the peculiar quality of this collection.
Early in his life Felipe II heard that in a small chapel I Louvain, dedicated to the Confraternity of Crossbowman, there stood an altarpiece by Roger van der Weyden (1400? – 1464) depicting the body of Christ being lowered from the cross. Visitors familiar with the marvelous painting reported to Felipe, ‘It is the greatest in the north.’ In vain the king tried to buy it, and when this proved impossible he sent a court painter to copy it, and with the copy he was content for several decades. Later his aunt, the Queen of Hungary, succeeded in acquiring the painting for her collection, and remembering how much her nephew desired it, gave it to him as a present.
In this depiction of the ten differentiated figures, in their placement, in the use of color, design and space, and above all in the symbolization of religious emotion, this marvelous stark painting is one of the major accomplishments of western culture. The best painting in the world? That is too strong. One of the four or five best? Without question.
That painting and many others as well as a myriad of photographs are stored in my brain’s hard drive. They lie dormant until a scene, a model, models, or a situation draws them into my consciousness.
|El Descendimiento - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
It was a about 8 years ago when I was doing a series of ethnic Madonnas. I photographed nude women in Russian iconic gestures and I called them by their place of origin I was evoking, such as Santa Conchita de la Cochinchina (Vietnam), Santa Conchita de Valparaiso, etc. In one of those occasions there was a young man present and I immediately connected to that day at the Prado. While my photograph does not in the least resemble van der Weyden’s I took it in the spirit. My version incorporates the idea that Mary Magdalene helped in the lowering of the body.
This blog did not come out of the blue. Today Rosemary and I went to the Vancity Theatre on Seymour and Davie to see Lech Majewski’s film The Mill and the Cross
with Rutger Hauer, Charlotte Rampling, Michael York and what looks like a cast of thousands who have lingered in time after having been unemployed when Cecil B. DeMille stopped making biblical extravaganzas.
This film is no extravaganza. It is a film with lots of sound but little dialogue. It is a fictional (with lots of facts thrown in) story on the background to the painting The Road to Calvary
by Peter Bruegel the Elder ca.1525-1569. Rutger Hauer plays the painter, Michael York his patron Nicolaes Jonghelinck and Charlotte Rampling is the Virgin Mary. Her son, is promoting the Reformation in Antwerp which just so happens to be occupied by the very Roman Catholic mercenaries of Spain. This is Flanders in the mid 1500s. This is the Flanders where Spain would ultimately squander all the gold of Peru and of Mexico. But it is also the Flanders of Breda (the birthplace of Peter Bruegel) where the Spaniards won their most important victory in 1625 which was an event that was immortalized by Diego de Velázquez between 1634 and 1635. I particularly enjoy the fact that I remember that the painting has thousands of lances but in fact Velázquez manages to create that idea with only 30!
|The Surrender of Breda - Diego de Velázquez|
The Mill and the Cross is a film of a painting that moves. This is slightly different from Carlos Saura’s Goya in Bordeaux
(one of my favourite films of all time) in which movements become Goya paintings. In The Mill and the Cross every background, every foreground, is a Flemish painting. Every closeup is of a face that is exquisitely beautiful or interestingly horrible as if the Polish director, like Bruegel found inspiration in Hieronymus Bosch.
|The Procession to Calvary - Pieter Bruegel|
And of course, the pièce de résistance for me is Charlotte Rampling. The film has no subtitles and when the Spanish soldiers under the cross yell at a beautiful, richly dressed young woman, “Puta!” I knew she was a very familiar Mary Magdalene. It is one that Rebecca and I saw some 6 years ago in a very large painting in the Church of La Valenciana in Guanajuato Mexico. The mob is about to stone a beautiful and very blond woman. But Christ stops them by scratching something in the dirt. “Why is she blonde?” Rebecca asked me.
The descent from the cross in The Mill and the Cross is beautiful in a most un Flemish way. Perhaps because it is full of light. The agony on Rampling's face is excruciatingly beautiful.
|Charlotte Rampling as Mary in The Mill and the Cross|
Julia Reid - The Perfect & Patient Muse
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
A constant theme in my photography classes is the idea that most photographers go through a predictable flow in approach. If the interest lies in taking pictures of people the difficult barrier is the one between taking pictures of people in the street unawares and that of talking with the person you are about to photograph. Another barrier is the one between taking pictures with existing light (sometimes called environmental photography) and that of modifying it, combining it with additional artificial lighting or simply eliminating it altogether and using one’s lights.
Before I had a good studio I used to shoot environmental portraits. Some of these I would combine with portable lights. Once I was ensconced in that studio I tended to ignore all existing light and use, exclusively my own. Obviously the best route is to go back and forth and work with all the elements at one’s disposal.
The pictures you see here are a combination of all the above elements. In particular the grainy infrareds involved only the lighting in a bathroom that came from a window.
But what really stands out for me is that 18 years ago when I took these pictures, my emphasis was on the nude aspects of photography. It didn’t take long before my subjects were wearing nothing and these were the pictures I would print in my darkroom. I would ignore all the preliminary stuff I shot. Now all these years later I look at the contact sheet and notice some very nice shots I simply ignored in my race to photograph bits and parts.
Julia Reid and her sister Virve were some of the best subjects I ever had face my camera. They were flexible and took directions without protest.
As I look at the pictures here I long for going back to taking pictures like that. It involves not using a studio and moving my subject around in a place they find comfortable which is their home. I hope to do more of this year if I can find the appropriate and willing subjects.
The hot black sands with Virve Reid
A Measure Of A Man Lapsed
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
|My mother, and I wearing a brand new Argentine bespoke gray flannel suit|
Mexico City 1966
I remember days before Christmas Eve 1987. I was at the Bacchus Lounge of the Wedgewood Hotel. I was there having drinks with Malcolm Parry and his wife Nancy. They were in town. Mac, as we all knew him, had pretty well revolutionized and then invigorated the magazine industry in Vancouver with his Vancouver Magazine
and many others that at one time or another he was editor, not only in BC but in Alberta. I remember that he made fun of Western Living Magazine
, on the bottom floor of a building that it shared with Vancouver Magazine
. It was on the corner of Davie and Richards. Mac said that the magazine below was all about empty bathrooms. He soon became its editor and brought in essays and poems by Peter Trower
into the bathroom mix.
Mac had left the local magazine scene, hired to improve a startup magazine with lots of ambition (it was financed by Frank Stronach) called Vista
Mac was a man that I then admired and admire to this day. While there are no obvious mutual overtures, there are signs and feelings of affection between us.
|Malcolm (Mac) Parry and the Bentley|
That evening at the Bacchus Mac told me he had bought suits that day at Holt Renfrew.
In the latter part of 1988 Mac offered our mutual writer friend Mark Budgen and me to travel to Buenos Aires and Uruguay to write and photograph two business stories. Sometime in late November or the beginning of December Mac was fired. We still had our assignment so Budgen and I flew to Toronto and we had a day before making connections via Aerolíneas Argentinas to Buenos Aires. We visited the Vista office and Mac’s name was nomen non grata
. We were given Mac’s now empty apartment for the night before our next day’s flight.
|My father George|
Budgen and I found ourselves in the apartment and I made it my goal to find some remnant of Mac’s presence. In the kitchen we looked everywhere, looking for a bottle of Scotch. All we found was a half empty box of sugar coated breakfast cereal. There was nothing. Then I went to the bedroom and opened the closet. It was there that I found three Holt Renfrew wooden hangars and I remembered. I was left with a strong feeling of melancholy. Budgen and I successfully went to Argentina and Uruguay but only managed to do a piece on Montevideo.
Today I was reading J.J. Lee’s The Measure of a Man –The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.
In it I read this:
There is a suit in the back of my closet. Over the years dust has gathered on its shoulder. I own other better suits but I hold on to this one because, for me at least, it is special…
What do I want from my father’s suit?...
Standing between the hamper and the foot of the bed with his jacket in my hands, I sink my face into the wool and breathe I his scent for the first time in years.
I feel jealous as Mr. Lee has far more objects owned by his dead father. I have a few photographs and his King James Bible. There is no scent of him except the one in my memory of his Player’s Navy Cut Cigarettes, Old Smuggler Scotch, and his tweed jackets. There was something else, perhaps an after shave but I never asked him what kind it was.
|Bill and Jack Wong, Modernize Tailors|
Like most Argentine men who dressed well he liked nicely ironed flannel slacks and blue blazers with metal buttons. He wore Harris Tweeds. I don’t remember his suits but I know he wore his half Windsor knot ties askew. He had lovely wavy silver hair and a small moustache. He looked like a handsome David Niven and sounded like him except for a slight Manchester accent.
My father, while not exactly British, since he had been born in Buenos Aires would have never worn his shoes without socks which seems to have been all the rage with young men (and men who think they are young) in Buenos Aires. The unsocked look goes with a deep blue shirt, the blue blazer, the gray flannel slacks and, very important, penny loafers (brown if you please) without them (the pennies).
My first fashion statement began when I was around 8 and I made my First Communion. I had inherited my first cousin’s (Robin Tow) black suit. I refused to wear long pants so I forced my mother to have them converted.
My fashion sense did not improve nor was it ever important in my life until I went to St. Edward's, a Catholic boarding school in Austin, Texas.
We did not wear jeans as we were not allowed. We wore khaki pants and they came back from the laundry with extreme starch and razor creases. While I did sport a minor duck cut I decided that I needed long and black pointy shoes if I was going to look at all like a Pachuco.
|Ivette, my Puerto de Liverpool pinstripe|
& my Fraser Institute tie
This phase did not last long. By grade 10 I had a friend Stephen Burdick who instilled in me the wonders of wearing Bostonian cordovan loafers. We began to visit the very expensive haberdashery Reynolds Penland on Congress Avenue where I bought my first ever button down shirts and slacks that did not have belt loops that were called continentals. It was at Reynolds Penland that I bought my first and last (I was never able to afford another) Hart Schaffner Marx suit.
Burdick and I weren’t the only ones who dressed well. There were three classmates of ours who made it a hobby to walk out of Reynolds Penland wearing more clothes than when they had gone in. They also had that habit of hailing a cab and taking it almost to our school. Two would get out and disappear while the third made like he was going to pay the driver and he would then bolt.
In Buenos Aires in the mid 60s I decided I would have my first (and it was my last) bespoke tailored suit. I went to an Austrian tailor and chose a thick Argentine gray flannel. It was to be a three-piece suit. At the time I was smoking a pipe and I used (I was not quite a purist yet) a Zippo lighter instead of wooden matches. My tailor measured it as he made a special pocket in the vest for it. He was scandalized when I insisted that my pants have no pleats and no cuffs but he put his foot down when I demanded a zippered fly. "If you want that I will not make your suit
." I relented. I was very proud of this suit and wore it often until my body changed and the suit disappeared from sight and from my memory.
I have managed to dress well for most of my life as I have a poor man’s body. By this I mean that I can wear a suit off the rack that will fit me well. I have poor man’s feet and it is easy for me to find shoes that are comfortable. While I am 69 I can proudly show you my feet that look like that of a younger man’s. They are smooth and free of all calluses. They are narrow and quite beautiful as I inherited my feet and shapely legs from my mother.
|C Valparaiso in my Puerto de Liverpool pinstripe & my |
Sears Roebuck black brogues
Confusion began to sneak in to my dressing habits about 15 years ago when I was going to some formal party and I was adjusting a bow tie. I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that the tie did not look right with my Brooks Brothers light blue, button-down shirt. I called my friend John Lekich who immediately said, “Don’t!
My dressing habits have deteriorated as I have grown older and go to fewer formal events. Mr. Lee would be shocked to know that I have a handsome Oscar de la Renta black blazer that is made, nonetheless, in Romania. He would not be impressed.
The low point of my dress up career happened a couple of months ago. I went to the screening of a Marv Newland short film at the Pacific Cinematheque. I spotted artist/painter Neil Wedman and illustrator/designer Deryk Carter. Both were splendidly dressed. Wedman was wearing a beautiful suit a vested sweater. After the viewing they and Newland (who was wearing what looked like a very expensive and dark three-piece suit) suggested that we go over to the nearby Bodega for tapas. This we did. I sat facing the two suits (Carter was handsomely dressed but was casual). Wedman observed me and said, “Where did you get
that (pause) sweater?” I told him it had been given to me by my older daughter who had bought it at a Lillooet thrift store. “It shows,
” Wedman said. Then he added with an extremely loud guffaw, “At least you are wearing a shirt with a collar!
” and began to laugh. I felt embarrassed and decided that both Wedman and Newland were right and that I would inject better dressing habits in the future.
|Leslie smoking an H-Upmann cigar, wearing my |
Puerto de Liverpool pinstripe
I began by telling my eldest daughter Ale that for Christmas she was to buy me nothing and in particular no clothing. I have been discarding my torn jeans with holes in the right knee (a photographer’s malady) and before concerts and the theatre you might have spotted me using spray starch on my shirts and carefully removing cat hair with a sticky roller from my black jackets and my Hudson’s Bay Company, off-the-rack Bill Blass pinstripe suit. I now even carefully polish my beautiful black leather brogues which I bought at Sears Roebuck Mexico back in 1972. They are still good.
Of late I have been going more often to select a tie from my considerable tie collection. It has been fun. I tip my hat to Mr. Wedman and Marv Newland. And yes, Mr. Lee, dressing well might indeed be the measure of a man.
Postscript: Last night I went into my oldest daughter’s former closet and took out my mother’s Pieles Weinburger seal fur coat. I put my nose to it and I could smell (or was it my imagination?) hints of Chanel No. 5 and Jean Patou’s Joy. But I will not be wearing the coat any time soon. Perhaps Rebecca or Lauren some day.
A Master Class With Corey Cerovsek
Monday, January 09, 2012
|Corey Cerovsek, January 9, 2011|
Fuji Instant Colour Film FP-100C
Since violinist Corey Cerovsek
was 15 when I photographed him with f holes on the palm of one of his hands we have been regularly reprising those shots. He is now 40. Cerovsek was in Vancouver, from his home in Paris, for a weekend concert with the VSO. We agreed that the series would continue when possible until inevitably one of us will no longer be available due to circumstances beyond our control.
Trying to figure out when I could get him to my home studio was complicated as Cerovsek was busy with rehearsals and finally ended up with a terrible cold that him playing Korngold’s lone violin concerto tonight virtually deaf. I found this out when my daughter Hilary and I visited with Cerovsek after the concert.
It was on Sunday that Cerovsek had told me that he was teaching at UBC on Monday in the morning. He was giving a master class. I thought of asking him if I could attend as I could then drive him back to town via my studio. But I was embarrassed. Those who attended such a thing would probably be paying lots of money.
I was wrong. I looked it up on the web and found that the master class, held at the recital hall as the UBC School of Music was free! It was funded by the VSO, UBC Music, Vancouver Academy of Music,Telus and the Gemini Foundation. And so I went.
The format was that in the two hours (10 to 12) four different top notch violinists (two from UBC and two from the Vancouver Academy of Music) would play works lasting about 15 minutes. Then Cerovsek would go on stage and give pointers and (so I found out) extremely kind criticism).
Attendance was sparse. This surprised me and even more as by noon I felt I had been privy to two delightful hours of wonder and this un musician had come out a winner of all kinds of knowledge.
The program featured four young musicians (one was a male) who had close to unimpeachable technique. They played Sonata in a minor, Op. 105 I – Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck by Robert Schumann, Carmen – Fantasie brillante for Violin & Piano, Op.3, No r by Jenö Hubay (the violinists who played duos or sonatas came with a pianist), Adagio & fugue in a minor by Johann Sebastian Bach and Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28 by Camille Saint-Saëns.
To help Cerovsek not cough I was passing him my personal stash of Fisherman’s Friends Lemon Flavoured drops. The performances, to this Philistine were very good. Then Cerovsek would take out his Stradivarius from its case and he would hop on stage. In most of the cases the problem at hand was less of technique and more about feelings and intentions. Later Cerovsek explained to me how the exhuberance of his youth that converted him into a boy-wonder of heart stopping technique had morphed to something that included much more.
It was then that I realized that I what I try to teach my photography students is less about photographic technique and more about how photographic ideas are generated in my head and how after years of experience I have thrown out of the window all those superfluous dazzling lighting styles and that I have come to discover the merits of communication between myself and my subjects.
Cerovsek kept telling the students how their gestures, their swagger would indicate to the audience their intentions in playing. He urged them to check out for patterns in the chords to see what the composer was up to. He was quick to point out, ever so gently, some of their flaws in technique such as not using a pinky in holding a bow or the proper way of achieving a variation in vibrato.
It soon became most evident why it is that dancers and musicians (in my experience) seem to be uncommonly intelligent and are good conversationalists. There is so much thought involved in the playing of music or dancing in front of an audience. Communication is the key. This communication pretty well involves having a good “degree” in psychology. “You have to indicate by your gestures what your intentions are and what you want the music to communicate to those who are listening,” Cerosek said repeatedly.
There were other delightful moments of wonder. For one there was listening to a good violin and then to listen to another, Cerovsek’s, play the same passages with a Stradivarius. The comparison was quite shocking. The Stradivarius was a lot louder and its lower registers somehow reminded me of a viola. It was fun to watch Cerovsek sight read (he was not familiar with the particular Bach piece) and to share his delight of never having heard what seemed to be a new-found arrangement of Carmen for piano and violin.
Then there were interesting factoids. I asked Cerovsek why it was that one of the performers had brought music to read and did not memorize her piece. His answer was illuminating. It seems that there is a tradition in the playing of sonatas (Robert Schumann’s in the morning’s program is one example) that you have two instruments of equal importance and it is not a situation of a pianist accompanying a violinist. So, both are allowed to have sheet music.
In the end the perfect violinsts warmed up to Cerovsek and smiled and probably went home having learned lots of stuff. Gathering from what I learned I would say it was more than lots. And Cerovsek in the car told me something like this, " I was worried that teaching at a master class would be something of no importance and with no challenge. I was afraid it would be just about technique. But I have found out that it involves the teaching of feelings and what is inside me. And that's fun!"
A Murder That Never Was?
Sunday, January 08, 2012
A few sleepless nights ago I finally did what of late has been my only solution. Instead of obsessively trying to sleep by moving my body in one direction and then to another I now get up and do something. On this particular night I went to my photo files to look for a folder I knew I had filed in the Ms as Murder. Inside the folder were two envelopes. One had the title Murder in Haney
and the other Murder Article – Vancouver Magazine
– Blood at the dam in Maple Ridge – Colour. In those days Vancouver Magazine
Editor Malcolm (Mac) Parry would run a crime story every once in a while.
My memory of the pictures is sparse. I cannot recall the name of the writer, nor the sex of the person who was found murdered on a parking lot outside the Haney Mall Safeway. The body had then been dumped in the Stave Lake Dam a place in which to get there I remember I had to cross an iron bridge with an iron deck.
I know that I worked on this story twice as the parking lot picture is of a rainy night while the pictures in the dam I took during the day and it does not seem overcast. But then it seems I must have lingered at the dam as there are pictures of a fading sky and ominous lights shining out of the windows of a structure that resembles a long ago closed down maximum security prison.
I place the date of the photographs between 1979 and 1981. I had purchased a Mamiya RB-67 with a 6x7 cm film format. I had only money to buy one lens so I had obtained a 65mm wide angle. The colour pictures are all in that focal length. I took pictures I b+w using Kodak Technical Pan Film and mostly with a variety of wide angles including a 20mm rectilinear wide angle.
For some of the colour pictures I had lit the gushing water with a portable flash (a Norman 200B) to which I had taped a deep read gel. I had then, with my camera on a tripod, flashed the water but I had kept my lens open to incorporate the dam. I must have used a very slow shutter (perhaps ¼ second) so that the gushing water would look blurred.
There is a possibility that this may have been some of the first pictures I had ever taken for Vancouver Magazine
. As soon as my Mamiya had arrived from New York via the post office I had shown it to Vancouver Magazine art director Rick Staehling. At the time the magazine’s photographers shot only with 35mm cameras and the only exception was the 4x5 format camera used for the food articles.
I remember that Staehling called me one day with an assignment in which he stipulated I use that, “new-fangled camera you showed me the other day.” This crime story may have been the one.
What I do remember vividly is that Staehling thought my blood-gushing out of the dam pictures as over-the-top and opted for a 35mm b+w that looked eerie and gothic. Included in my display of the pictures is one that I colourized to blood-red that I rather like.
What is interesting is that while I have not exhausted all my sources, as it stands now, the only proof of the story and of that murder in Haney can be found in my photo files. No number of search engine variations has led to any information on any murder by a Safeway lot or of the dumping of a body into the Stave Lake Dam.
Some might say that if something is not on the internet it does not exist or never existed. I would not agree.
Addendum: January 10 11:40 pm
Would you have any more facts about this?
Date: March, 1984
Title: Father's Night
Writer: Don McLellan
Murder Victims: Denis LaCoursiere and Yvon Gariepy
Addendum 2: Malcolm Parry sent me copies of the article by snail mail from his very well organized collection of Vancouver Magazines. The frontspiece to the article is below as the photograph picked by art director Rick Staehling.