The Superia - Four Door Convertible Soon
Saturday, July 21, 2012
|Lauren Stewart & Meredith Kalaman at the Firehall Theatre|
The most obvious similarity between film and digital is that those of us who have been accustomed to shooting transparency film (also called slide film) and serious digital photographers is the knowledge that the shared bête noir is that both slide film and digital cameras have poor tolerance (or margin of error) in handling wild differences between the very light and the very dark. We call this in film, film latitude, and my guess is that digital photographers simply call it latitude.
For those who shot slide film most of their lives and still do (me) I avoid pitfalls of exposure by trusting my very good Minolta V-F (it is both a flash and continuous light meter) and I have an almost identical IV-F just in case. Digital photographers use a method called Raw which is an exposure that is a very large file so that the photographer at a later time can correct if corrections are needed.
One of the reasons I shoot slide film now is mostly because of a lifetime custom and discipline. I do not like to guessimate my exposures and I pride in exposure accuracy. Another reason, and really the most important one is that until the advent of scanners and digital printing in the late 80s magazines (art directors and photo editors) demanded slides. Slides were originals. What was in a slide was the photographer’s intention. There was no room for interpretation, something that could happen in shooting with colour negatives. Printing that colour negative involved subjectivity.
I was smug in my shooting style which was always with transparency (when colour was needed) and I looked down on those “slipshod” photographers who played it safe with negative film. Two things changed my mind.
One was to find out from an article in a now old National Geographic
where the photographer took his/her usual slides but always carried an extra set of cameras (the very reliable Nikon FM-2) loaded with colour negative film for shoots in very remote situations (on top of Mount Everest or the Antarctic) where you knew you might not have a chance to return.
The second event that warmed me towards the colour negative was at trip to New York City in the early 90s where I saw prints from colour negative film (called C-Prints) at MOMA.
But I still shoot slide film and my film of choice is the now discontinued (but available for now) Kodak Ektachrome 100G. The colours are accurate and not contrasty (against most trends in digital photography). Since many who shoot digital see most of their images on monitors they are keen to look at very colourful, Lots of contrast which some call punchy. I may accept this soon but for the time being I am an old dog with few new tricks who understood that extreme contrast was difficult to reproduce in magazine and newspapers of the past.
A year ago a model friend of mine moved to Ottawa and gave me about 40 rolls of 24 exposure colour negative film. I almost threw it away when I noticed that it was 800 ISO President’s Choice No Name
. I tried a couple of rolls and when I scanned it I observed that the results seemed to imitate poorly restored Technicolor film. I was amazed and delighted. I liked the off colour that would not scan accurately.
Alas I used it all up and Fuji (the original makers of the No-Name) discontinued it. They have sort of replaced it with Fujicolor Superia (they promise to come out with a four-door convertible soon!) 1600 ISO film with something they call four layer technology. This is very good film and after about three rolls I have yet to get a handle on how to use properly (in my case improperly!). In the pictures you see here I was a bit too far so that the grain inherent to this fast film reduces the clarity. I have to get closer. I also used a Nikon FM-2 that had an architecture focusing screen that is very difficult to focus (I don’t own auto-focus lenses) because of my rapidly aging eyes. Since this last shoot I have found a replacement screen
for the Nikon that will make focusing easier.
A Case For Excitement
Friday, July 20, 2012
In 1956 an ASARCO (American Smelting & Refining Company) engineer drove around Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico in a brand new white Chrysler Imperial. This was the long land yacht that had those little lights sticking up on the tail fins. I thought this car was the most fantastic car I had ever seen. But then I was 14 years old. I particularly admired its pushbutton TorqueFlite transmission. The engineer (I have forgotten his name) told me I could take the car for a spin in the desert that surrounded the northern Mexico mining town where my mother taught school for the American children of the engineers.
It was a thrill that I will never forget since that Chrysler Imperial was the first car I ever drove. While I would look at a pristine restored Imperial with nostalgia I would know I would not want to drive the ungainly monster. Cars are far better now.
In the late 70s I could not afford the more expensive professional Nikons so I did all my magazine assignments in Vancouver with old Pentaxes. I lusted over those Nikons with their motor drives. In the late 80s I was bean bagged outside the main train station in Buenos Aires and all my equipment was stolen. Back in Vancouver my insurance company had to replace my stolen stuff with equivalent cameras. Most of those Pentaxes were not made so they replaced them with a Nikon F-3 and a couple of Nikon FM-2s. Twenty five years later I still use those Nikons and I even have a Nikon FM (a predecessor of the FM-2). They work just fine with their manual focusing lenses.
My main “battle tank” is my venerable Mamiya RB-67 but the Nikons keep on clicking as mopping up forces.
This last week I noticed that one of my Nikons was difficult to focus. The reason is that the focusing screen on that camera had a smooth ground glass with grids for architecture photography. Why I would have such a screen is beyond me. With my impending photographic dotage my eyes are not what they used to be. Since these cameras have been obsolete for years I had little chance of finding a replacement focusing screen that would cope with my deteriorating eyesight.
on Granville Street found me one in tucked away in an obscure drawer. As I was leaving I saw a black metal case that opened up like an accordion case. I immediately thought of my almost 15 granddaughter Rebecca. She could use it as a make up case because of all the adjustable compartments. On my way to her house I called her and told her I had a surprise. But just after I spoke to her I began to regret it. The case was really a good one.
Rebecca looked at the case as if it were a rotting fish. I left with the case.
I am ecstatic. It almost feels as I open it and look at all my equipment neat in its place as if I were driving that Chrysler Imperial for the first time. It is beautiful!
In the case I have my two Nikon FM-2s, one Nikon FM, a 50mm F-1.4, an F-2 35mm, a 24mm F-2.8, a 16mm full frame F-2.8 fisheye, an 85mm F1.4 and a 135mm F-2.8 lens. Over the Nikon FM I have a motor drive. In one of the other compartments I have a Minolta Autometer IV-F. And there is room left for film!
|Fuji Instant FP-3000B Film|
Camera cases and tripods are photographic devices that fit particular needs and after a few years they don’t seem to adapt to one’s needs. My very large soft camera case was useful for many years as I had to walk to locations with it on my shoulder. I don’t do this sort of work anymore. Having the black metal case that I can open in my living room or in the garden is perfect.
With those three Nikons in the case and that F-3 in a drawer I am itching to take many more photographs than I have been taking of late.
To Visit, To Browse, To Share
Thursday, July 19, 2012
My youngest daughter calls up my wife many times during the day for “updates on her status”. “We are on the Number 10 bus,” “We just got off the bus,” “We had bacon and eggs for breakfast.” Sometimes when I answer the phone and I am informed I have heard myself say to my daughter (I do believe I am being unkind), “Why am I getting this relevant piece of information?”
Rosemary, my wife, asked me why it is that our daughter does this. I reflected on it. I told Rosemary that if she were to have a texting phone our daughter would send the relevant information via text. Our daughter is simply being social in a 21st century way.
It was some years ago while in Texas that I first heard the expression, “We had a visit.” It was not, “She visited me,” or “I visited him.” I found the expression very American and quite odd. But I soon associated the expression as a warm visit in which fried chicken with biscuits was served and dessert was home-made pecan pie. “We had us a good visit.”
This expression to visit began to deteriorate in my view with the advent of commercial web pages in which a driver behind a bus would read on an ad, “Visit us at http://www.vancouvergarbabe.com. A perfectly straight and commercial enterprise wanted to suggest that one could develop a fair amount of intimacy by paying a visit to a web page. My Blogger stats tell me how many page visits I get per day, week and month. To me the verb to visit has lost relevance.
The same has happened to browse. I can remember being in some old fashioned (and they are more so now than ever) bookstore. An employee might come up to me with, “May I help you or are you browsing?” It seemed like the interjection of browse made the communication less aggressive, less pushy. It seemed like to browse in a bookstore or on a Granville Island gift shop was a warm experience.
Now we have web browsers and it becomes a bit difficult to use that overly hackneyed expression “to curl up with a good book” as we might be browsing pornography on Microsoft Internet Explorer or reading our Kindle in an uncomfortable and cramped airline cabin seat.
Just like John Le Carré said, “Alec Guinness took Smiley away from me,” modern technology in the 21st century has taken away the personal experience from visit and browse. It does not stop there.
If I bring my Rosemary’s cat Casi-Casi from the foot of our bed next to me, my cat Plata stares at me and she tries to snuggle next to me. She wants to share my attention. She is jealous. After a while Casi-Casi, who is not aggressive, in a wonderful example of feline selflessness, jumps to the foot of the bed so that Plata can have it all.
Share, as in to share has gone the way of browse and visit. I can never forget that to share in Spanish is compartir
and that it literally means to “break and share bread with”. Facebook offers us the experience of sharing links to funny YouTube videos or links to obituaries in the NY Times. I can acknowledge these links from my friend by clicking on a key “like”. And that’s it. There is no food, no bread changing hands. There is no eye contact or the warmth of a voice or the sound of my friend breathing.
I told Rosemary, that our daughter in calling her up repeated times with updates, is just exercising her right for the 21st century version of sharing. Enjoy.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
One very lonely Christmas Eve in 1966 I happened to be walking on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I was the only passenger on an Argentine Merchant Marine ship, the Río Aguapey. I decided that I would go into a burlesque bar and see what this was all about. I sat down; I was much too stupid to be ashamed or uptight, on the front row. A woman came in. She was chewing gum. She did not acknowledge me or the few patrons who perhaps not being from a ship had nowhere else to go on Christmas Eve. The woman went to the side of the stage and plugged in a jukebox. She selected her songs and began to dance. I ordered Bourbon; after all I was on Bourbon Street. The Bourbon was much too strong for me and I gagged. The woman danced with no feeling and emotion. She took most of her clothes off and left. I was disappointed.
Sometime in 1976 I went to the Drake Hotel on Powell Street in Vancouver. I sat down and watched a dancer called Emma Peel dance. She was tiny, cute as can be and she made eye contact with those around her stage. I was charmed. A few years later I got to know her a little better and found out most affectionately called her English Anna.
I was hooked. It may have been at this time that a now prominent Vancouver lawyer and former arts reporter for the Globe
worked there as a D.J. We would connect and become friends a few years later.
Because of my free lance job at Vancouver Magazine
I found out that a lot of very important magazine business happened at the Drake, the Marr, the Number 5 Orange, the Cecil, the Austin and many more Vancouver pubs that featured exotic dancers. It had been Gary Taylor who had gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to make it possible for us to eat a hamburger and have a beer while watching beautiful women take all their clothes off.
One of my most frequent companions to the ecdysiast afternoons (and evenings) was writer Les Wiseman. We had our favourites and we discussed their merits in great detail.
By the time the 80s came around exotic dancing in Vancouver was pretty famous abroad. Our city was known for having the most athletic dancers and liquor regulations (thanks Gary!) allowed dancers to take it all off. By picking relevant music and injecting humour into the mix these dancers brought the idea that we were watching an art (it was) and a sport (not sure). But they did manage to take some of the edge off the fact that we were watching naked women. Some of these dancers had interesting routines. One famous one performed the reverse strip. This was and is one of the Holy Grails of burlesque. She would appear with nothing on. To the stage she brought a cane back chair and clothing. She would then put her clothes on very slowly.
Another young lady I called the Watch Lady. She had very nice looking wrist watch. She would finish her act but that watch was on her wrist.
One very special one had a beautiful face, a long and supple body and very long hair. Her act was to lie on her stomach on stage and tickle and hide her bum with her long hair.
An amazing dancer, Princess Lilly was her name, was hearing impaired. She danced to the vibraions that she could feel with her feet. Her trick was to insert matches in her nipples and light the matches. She would then twirl her breasts around. If you think that is amazing, consider that she could make one breast go clockwise while the other turned in the opposite direction.
But soon men became bored and the bars tried to out-compete each other by pushing the liquor laws. Showers were installed on stage. Dancers took showers to our delight until we got bored. Tubs were installed. Dancers tried to compete with incredible pole heroics. They would swing down like airplane propellers.
One hotel, the Austin Hotel on Granville had raffles. The prizes included the best cuts of meat that money could buy. In fact I believe that Wiseman took a roast beef home at least once.
In order to create an air of legitimacy these dancers started associations that organized stripathons in which the money made during one day (dancers did not charge the pubs for their work on that day) was donated to charity. There were some would-be recipients of this hard-earned cash who demurred at accepting any of the cash.
Everything was pretty well as I relate above until Leanne, Lusty Leanne arrived on the scene. She was not going to swing around a pole too much or wear too elaborate or expensive costumes.
Until then dancers danced to three songs. By the end of the first song they might go topless. The second was topless and only in the last segment would all the clothes come off. Many opted for removing it all at the last possible moment and they would scurry away before you could focus your eyes.
Lusty Leanne changed the playing field. During her time of fame (she quit when she was ahead one evening in the Flamingo Room sometime in 1987) she could dance where she pleased and commanded fees that others could not even think of. What was her trick?
Lusty Leanne dispensed with her clothing as soon as she could. She had the longest legs imaginable and a round, firm and spectacular bum that she paraded to our delight. Her chest was just right. Not too big not, too small. Her trick may have included all those body features. But the greater sum of those parts were her eyes. She looked at you and her eyebrows went up. If you were like me you would blush and avert your gaze.
We all knew that not only did she have 20/20 vision (there was one very lovely dancer that I really liked lots who could not see past her nose) but that her ears were like a cat’s. She was alert, and to top it all intelligent.
Perhaps it was her smile, a swashbuckling pirate/Errol Flynn kind of smile that proclaimed to anybody who could notice (and how could you not?), “My act is all about sex.”
While Lusty Leanne was probably not the instigator of the personal towel or rug, dancers would place on the stage floor a rug (terry cloth, faux leopard, satin, Canucks towels, etc) for their third song act. This was usually a combination of moves on their backs and stomachs.
Lusty Leanne brought to the mix a move in which she had sex with the floor. While having sex with the floor, if you were anywhere near her field of vision, she would stare at you and give you that smile. Another move of her was a very quick whiplash movement of her head, back and forth, back and forth while the floor rumbled.
Ultimately (I have inside knowledge) it was Lusty Leanne’s whiplash move that affected her back and she had to quit when she did. Only at the last moment (“I didn’t want to be one of those girls who quit and came back,” she told a little bird who told me) did she announce that the dance she had danced had been her last.
My memory fails me in trying to recall if Lusty Leanne may have been the first dancer to adopt the Brazilian. I am almost sure. We had an expression for it that Leanne approved, "Think pink".
The strip joints are mostly gone and even if any of them became popular again I could not return. The times, those special times, cannot come back. Gary Taylor’s concept of munching on a hamburger and squirting catsup on fries, while watchng women taking it all off seems alien to me.
But I do miss Lusty Leanne and being able to go to any of those former joints, sit at the bar and have the bar men tell me, “Alex, your usual?” And they would place a glass of soda water in front of me. I had to make sure I was completely sober, just in case Lusty Leanne was to look in my direction.
Security At The London 2012 Olympics Solved
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
After having been married in 1968 and experiencing a summer Olympics (both in Mexico) I do not regret the first act but even after all these passing years my affection for the second has not been renewed. I actively dislike them and I will avoid watching the events, in particular the opening and closing ceremonies.
If it were up to me I would ban the games for half a decade and then make it a rule that all athletes must compete in the nude thereafter.
In particular I object to the seriousness of the event and the view of stinger type missiles on London rooftops is anathema to the idea of fair play. On the other hand it is difficult to forget the shooting rampage of the Munich Olympics. Security is therefore a necessity.
The recent scandal of private companies being paid very good money to cover the security of the London Olympics and to then find out that man power was lacking is unbelievable.
I offer here a solution. Manpower would not be lacking if more women were hired. And if these women were members of the London Metropolitan Police, all the better. Here are some that surely would bring humor and some order into an event that came into being in its present format at the end of the 19th century and should have not survived into the 21st.
The above pictures used to grace the now gone Cecil Hotel Bar. The group photograph was a very large framed picture that hung over the billiard table. The group photograph marked the first and last time I ever used a 4x5 camera. I have never wanted to view the world upside down.
Miss Mew Revisited
Monday, July 16, 2012
|Miss Mew at Gary Taylor's Rock Room|
In my years as a photographer in Vancouver I have been around film makers during film and TV serial shoots. I have noticed how many directors take many takes and in the end they have the look at the first take and they realize that it is the best. They see that the subsequent takes deteriorate as actors get frustrated, bored and tired.
The same thing happens to me with portrait photography. Last week I photographed my 14 year-old granddaughter. She asked me to take edgy pictures in the living room. For this she wore a sleeveless black dress that was quite short. When she arrived I was in the garden and on a lark I asked her to pose behind a miscanthus (ornamental grass) and I snapped a Fuji Instant Film picture. I immediately saw it as a first take wonder. Rebecca insisted in rearranging her hair and asked me to take a second shot. The moment somehow was lost and the picture had no impact. The later pictures taken with the black dress in the living room were not to my liking.
In a very distant past, 1982 to be exact Les Wiseman and I worked on a project for Vancouver Magazine that was all about the exotic dancer scene
in Vancouver. In order to convince Editor Malcolm Parry on their relevance Wiseman pushed the idea about writing the money/business side of it. What he really wanted to do was to interview all our favourite dancers and have me photograph them. We made a list. On that list was Miss Mew (that was my nickname for her). Perhaps by not revealing her real name she might be delivered from the embarrassment that some ex dancers must face every now and then.
With things as they stand these days with on-line pornography and racy movies that in comparison to anything back in the 80s seem more than racy I sometimes believe that having been a stripper in this city has a neat cachet. The whole business now seems almost innocently clean.
The fact is that few in my circles did not understand why I was a fan of Miss Mew. To me she had perfect white skin (I was not to find out until much later that she used lots of makeup to cover up delightful freckles) that resembled the best Devon cream. She had a dark side in that she danced to alternative scene music or stuff that other dancers avoided like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. In her choice of dance music Wiseman agreed that she was a star. Her movements when dancing were slow almost as if she were film projected in slow motion. These movements were supremely graceful plus she had a most pleasant smile. Her eyes seemed to be the lazy I-am-going-to-go-to-sleep-soon that Robert Mitchum had. But my imagination told me that her eyes were about a woman who had had a siesta in the tropics and was ready for her gin sling.
Had I been around (my relations with Miss Mew were always professional) she would have asked for that drink with a voice that resembled that of a good mezzo soprano.
My friend John Lekich used to enjoy accompanying me to the old Dianne Farris Gallery on 6th Avenue. A young lady who worked there was extremely beautiuful and Lekich one told me of her, "She
is the only woman I know whose chest blushes." It never occured me to tell Lekich that Miss Mew's chest was every bit as elegant as Grace Kelly's neck.
I have been looking at her pictures in my files and I could populate my blog for days with her pictures. I just might do that later in the week but meanwhile I will post these as samples.
There is an interesting paradox here that involves the naming of Miss Mew. Many of her pictures I cannot scan as they deteriorated and were ruined when our aging cat, Gaticuchi went on a rampage in my darkroom thanks to the fact that my wife did not close the door to our basement that led to my darkroom. Gaticuchi urinated over a huge set of negatives that I had yet to file that were in my darkroom floor. Many of those were colour negative versions of these that I took of Miss Mew dancing at Gary Taylor’s Rock Room. The paradox is that Wiseman’s article almost became a cover but the published had cold feet and opted for a picture of a cat. Writer Sean Rossiter had written and article “My Cat Has Cancer” and provided Vancouver Magazine with an excellent illustration. Editor Parr did not want to put the illustration on the cover and asked me to go home and take a shot of Gaticuchi and to make sure all his whiskers were sharp.
Time has softened my anger at the mess of those negatives and I can only guess to what extent so many pictures of Miss Mew and other dancers were ruined by the cat.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Now laughing friends deride
Tears I can not hide
Oh, so I smile and say
When a lovely flame dies
Smoke gets in your eyes
|At the Marble Arch|
On a lazy Saturday afternoon (yesterday) I began to think (it was a random thought) on how many photographs I had of people smoking. Since at one time smoking was considered to be a sexy endeavour I have many sexy women smoking. I find it very difficult that I would now photograph anybody indulging in the habit.
|Michael Turner at the Marble Arch|
The first Westerner to notice the use of tobacco was Columbus. Some reports had the Carib Indians (they were not Indians but then Columbus had many things wrong) smoking tobacco through their noses. You might wonder why it is that the etymology of tobacco is Arabic according to my wonderful (an extremely accurate) on line dictionary of the Spanish Language, RAE (Real Academia Española). The RAE states: Del ár. clás. ṭub[b]āq).
|Rakesh Saxena under house arrest|
The explanation for this is a roundabout one. The tobacco plant is in botanical nomenclature Nicotiana tabacum
. It is a member of the Solanaceae family which includes petunias, tomatoes, potatoes, belladonna, and all the chilies and pepper (but not pepper which is something Columbus got wrong when he call chilies and bell “peppers” peppers). This family is rich in alkaloids and humans in general cannot cope with its toxicity.
This is where the Arabs come in. They called all medicinal plants that tended to make people dizzy tabbaq. When Columbus watched the Caribs he noted this (particularly if you are smoking the stuff through your nose!) and tabbaq was the name used.
|R.J. Clarke & a Montecristo Claro|
My RAE states that cigarro
(in Spanish it can denote a cigarillo, or cigarette or if you qualify it with puro
as in a cigarro puro
it becomes a cigar. On the other hand even cigars not made in Cuba are sometimes called habanos
(Del maya siyar).
1. m. Rollo de hojas de tabaco, que se enciende por un extremo y se chupa o fuma por el opuesto.
Defined as a roll of tobacco leaves that are lit on one end and sucked or smoked on the other. The Mayan verb siyar means to smoke rolled tobacco leaves.
Somewhere the Spanish word cigarro
(which some say did not come from the Mayan but from the long cylindrical shape which is similar to a cigarra
or Spanish for cicada) became Frenchified to cigarette and by the time I was 9 when I read my Classics Illustrated
I was perplexed that the cute heroine was called Cigarette. When I saw the film I found it satisfying to note that Claudette Colbert was Cigarette and she was cute but, even then, not cute as a cigarette to me. I find it curious that there are two very melodramtic films with Ronald Colman that make a memorable pair , one Under Two Flags and the other A Tale of Two Cities
Under Two Flags was written by Ouida (how many authors are known by one name, only?) Ouida, is a pseudonym of Maria Louise Ramé, last name also spelled de la Ramée (born Jan. 1, 1839, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, Eng.—died Jan. 25, 1908, Viareggio, Italy), She was an English novelist, known for her extravagant melodramatic romances of fashionable life. Ouida’s father was a teacher of French, and the pseudonym “Ouida” derived from a childhood version of “Louisa.” So that might explain the little heroine called Cigarette.
My earliest memory, around 1948 when I was 6 or 7, of the cigarette is in the form of my father’s and my mother’s voice. Half a block from our Melián Street home in Buenos Aires there was a corner store. I had to carefully cross a street, Nahuel Huapí which was wider than Melián and had tram tracks as the Number 35 passed on them. My mother smoked an Argentine blend called Arizonas. So I was dispatched to get her a pack when her supply ran out. My father had a frequent visitor, Argentine writer Julio Cortázar who also smoked Arizonas. Cortázar did not like my father’s Players Navy Cut cigarettes (they came in a round tin) so I would have to go to the store to buy him his brand.
|At the Marble Arch|
People smoking cigarettes did not affect me in any way except for the lingering memory that I have of being embraced by my father who was a combination of the smells of tweed, tobacco, whisky and some bracing after shave. My mother pretty well smoked until she died but I do not recall any scent except her Chanel Number 5 or Joy.
|Robbie Robertson and his H. Upmann|
I had no curiousity to smoke. While in boarding school in Austin I was given a Winston by my friends. I gingerly attempted to draw in smoke and to my horror it exploded. My friends laughed and handed me another. I had passed the test. But my friends had other ideas as the second cigarette exploded, too. I lost whatever interest I may have had to smoke.
In my memory is riding the Coyoacán bus on Avenida Insurgentes on my way to home over Daniel Guridi Árregui’s gun store where I lived with my mother and grandmother around 1960-61. I always looked out of the window when the bus passed the corner with Avenida Chapultepec. There was an ancient and very large movie house (by then playing second tier quality films) and next to it a huge Raleigh Cigarette billboard that had a woman with a large mouth. A mechanical moving arm, holding a cigarette would swing to her lips. From her open mouth (very round in order to produce the resulting special effects) I would be amazed by the perfect smoke rings that were pushed out as her hand moved away.
|The Cine Insurgentes is on the right. The Raleigh ad was behind it|
and not seen in this picture.
It was sometime around 1963 that I decided to spruce up my nerdish image by making myself more of a man. I bought a pipe and a tin of Edgworth pipe tobacco. I amazed my mother and grandmother and they did not object. I began an experiment of trying every possible blend of pipe tobacco I could find in Mexico City. There was Middleton’s Cherry Blend, a terribly sweet Sugar Barrel, something called Mixture 70 and many kinds of Dutch tobacco. I tried English blends and Swedish ones, Borkum Riff but I always returned to the Egeworth blue tin. I occasionally would smoke thin and long cheroots from the state of Veracruz, a brand called Flor de La Costa. But cigars had a problem, no matter how many times you brushed your teeth the taste of them would persist in my mouth.
It may have been around 20 years ago that one evening while printing in my darkroom (I smoked a pipe there in what was and still is a poorly ventilated room) I suddenly became very dizzy. I went up, looked at my pipe and thought, “This is stupid.” I quit cold turkey.
Suddenly I understood all those mint rolls and chewing gum packages that Rosemary would place on my bed side table. Suddenly every time my oldest daughter Ale would come in through the door I would be repelled by the smell of cigarettes. I would tell her, and I tell her every once in a while but to no avail. She is the only member of my family that smokes.
But my sudden repulsion to cigarettes did not prevent me from stopping in taking pictures of women, mostly undressed, while smoking cigarettes.
But I must also assert here that I would not do that anymore as the idea of the image as a sexy one is not that anymore in the same way that tan marks on a nude body (that I used to think were sexy) are not to my liking either. Ditto for a woman or man that is sun-tanned. The image of a red haired woman with pristine, never-saw-a-ray-of-sunlight pallor is now my idea of the supreme turn on.
Then there is that unromantic story of the British social worker who visits Portland. While there with his American escort he spots a group of people outside a tall office building. The social worker asks, “Are they homeless people?” His companion answers, “No they are smokers.”
|Salem smokes an H. Upmann in my studio|
|Samuel Z. Arkoff|
|The Sophisticated Lady at the |
|Michael Guild at the Classical Joint|
|Smoking Marlboros at the Santa Fe Ranch|
|Clive Barker smokes a Cohiba|
|Portia at the Number 5 Orange|
|Dennis Hopper and his Kools|
At the Niagara Hotel with Patrice and Lulu
|Jim Cummins & Lulu|
You forgot one of the great cigarette smokers: Zappa.
|Frank Zappa & Les Wiseman|