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




 

Bronwen Marsden - Madame X
Saturday, August 25, 2012


I often tell people who ask me why I became a photographer, that even though the money was never that good (plumbing would have been a more lucrative choice) my present and almost extinct profession does have its moments.

Consider that some years ago when I was part of a group that met at the Railway Club for lunch on Thursdays we were fascinated by a beautiful woman who liked to dress in black. She had obviously bleached blonde hair but every thing else about her was a delight. We made up all kinds of stories as to what she did and why she dressed so elegantly in little black dresses. Fortunately my friend John Lekich (one of the habitués of our Railway Club group) had a sturdy heart so he was able to take the blonde vision in black with a studied and casual aplomb. Lekich is the kind of man who will associate little black dresses with deftly made martinis and instantly transport you to some bar in Manhattan or Paris.

Since I was not a plumber or a carpenter I was able (after one more fortifying Tío Pepe) to go up to the blonde and say, “I would love to photograph you undraped.” She looked at me and said, “Fine.”

No, I never charged her for my pictures nor did she invoice me for posing. This sort of thing is simply the bonus that we photographers have to compensate for the low returns on services rendered.

In a few days I will hit that barrier that is 70 years. It was only a few weeks ago that when I was chatting with my rheumatologist Doctor Alfonso Verdejo that I told him that I had to get up three or four times every night to do my business. He smiled at me and in his wonderful Mexican Spanish he said, “La enfermedad de los viejitos.” (the disease of little old men).

And yet I am still able to conjure beautiful women to pose for me and help me satisfy an impulse which I no longer fight and just accept. Artists since art began have delighted us, shocked us and in some cases repelled us with their visions of the erotic. While I do not consider myself to be an artist (in Vancouver that is a dangerous folly) I do accept my imperative to photograph beautiful women.

I have photographed many of them undraped and at my age it is almost (not quite!) boring. I prefer the clothed woman with just the right look and then with light, a camera and silence (or a little talking) to collaborate in making an image that convinces me that gaskets, faucets and copper pipes are stuff that I should leave to professionals. They make the money but I have the fun.

When Bronwen Marsden posed for me on Wednesday night and when I took the picture you see here (a preliminary Fuji Instant b+w print) I immediately thought of Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau otherwise known as Madame X. Madame X is a portrait of her painted  by American  John Singer Sargent. Madame X and Bronwen Marsden probably have nothing in common for anybody who might compare my poor photograph to the lustrous and almost shocking Sargent painting.

I would disagree. There is something internal (not seen in Sargent’s painting as Madame X is in profile) in Marsden’s direct gaze that is unsettling and to me most erotic. She is a Madame X for the 21st century.

Bronwen Marsden - Actor



James G. Kulleck's Curiosity
Friday, August 24, 2012

Alex W-H, Brother Thomas Frey, C.S.C. & James Kulleck
June 2009
For many years I have been telling anybody and everybody how my education at Steward’s High School in Austin in the mid 50 gave me an edge that might have contributed to my moderate success as a photographer and writer here in Vancouver. I am proud of having been there and I look back on all my teachers there (mostly Brothers of Holy Cross) in which I cannot find one who was not an excellent teacher and mentor. I now make it a point to visit St. Edward’s (The high school is long gone. It is now a most reputable small Roman Catholic university) and linger in conversation and meditation with the last of my teachers, Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. and a few other brothers there at St. Joseph Hall who are literate, practical, intelligent, gentle and I could go on…

This is why I like to write about how they and the liberal Roman Catholic education that I received there (I have no idea why so many of my classmates are now gun-toting rednecks from my Canadian viewpoint) are an inspiration every day of my existence. Recently I wrote about my former classmate Howard Houston. I am sure that his four years at St.Ed’s made him the dashing pilot he became.

It is now that I would like to proudly mention another from our class of 1962 who until this June (he has retired) worked for NASA. I fondly remember watching James Kulleck in a NASA website featuring a video camera inside the premises where they put together all the Mars Rovers, including the latest Curiosity,  in ghostly whites including hood and gloves, tinkering here and there! Recently when I emailed him to enquire about his contribution to the latest NASA success in Mars he wrote:

Quite a few things have transpired since our last communication. First of all, thank you for your acknowledgement regarding the Mars Science Lab landing. I made various small contributions to that effort verifying material properties and the electrical integrity for portions of the descent stage and on the rover itself. Some single point failures are present in that system but they obviously functioned properly in spite of the lift-off and thermal stresses associated with the flight and landing. The rover is quite complex and I expect that some failures will occur but there is a reasonable amount of redundancy designed into the system to minimize those problems.

Since June, I have been trying to sort through and eliminate 20 years of accumulated paperwork and repair a house that has seen more than its fair share of neglect. Right now I'm trying to get the old galvanized piping replaced. Then there are the bureaucracies related to retirement and the medical side of getting older which are consuming much more time than I anticipated. Most of that has to do with correcting problems that are generated by those systems.



Rebecca Stewart & Mars image at the Vancouver Planetarium, August 2012

I just got back from an extended stay in Arizona with my son's family. I went there to celebrate my grandson's second birthday. My son's stepdaughter is about the same age as Rebecca. You sent a photo of her quite a few years ago so while I was scanning your blog, I noticed the announcement of her return to your photo gallery. I concur with your lament regarding the proclivity of young ladies of that age. They seem intent on hiding their inherently youthful charm.

Thanks for the contact.
Jim




Combing The Galaxy At The Planetarium
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guest Blog by Michael John Unger aka Johnny Tomorrow





Combing the Galaxy with Johnny Tomorrow



I am a collection of molecules called Johnny Tomorrow, and I am a traveler of space and time.

This is the 4th and final installment of this blog to celebrate the introduction of movies into the planetarium. Previously I’ve talked about the Star Wars Generation. I define it as those that would have been kids and seen any of the three Star Wars films in theatres. For them the biggest most exciting moments of their childhood in large part probably came from some sort of entertainment, and back then there was nothing bigger than Star Wars. Sure perhaps the specific movie for that individual may differ, but Star Wars whether you liked it or not was a huge part of this generation upbringing. Seeing Return of the Jedi in the theatre started my love for cinema that was furthered by the age of VHS. My parents worked together at a store and would often bring me with them in the summer instead of getting a babysitter. Their store was right next to a video rental place and they had arranged with them that I could rent movies for free if I returned them immediately afterwards. I devoured those VHS tapes, especially anything that was in the Sci-Fi or Action categories. Unfortunately relative to some other genres there isn’t a large catalog of high quality Sci-Fi or even action films. Usually we are relegated to liking a film for its kitsch factor, but usually there aren’t even many of those films that have high re-watch-ability. For me Star Wars was a step above every other Sci-Fi film from the 80’s, so it was hard to compare. Since Sci-Fi films also tended to be on the kitschy side, they were ripe to be made fun of, so in 1986, master comic Mel Brooks released Spaceballs, his Star Wars parody. With characters such as Lone Star, Barf, Dark Helmet, Yogurt, and Pizza the Hutt, it’s a screwball parody that has tickled my funny bone almost as many times as I have been mesmerized by the actual Star Wars films, and in fact it is probably a more important movie to the Star Wars universe that any of the other films that came after it.

On Friday August 24, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre will be presenting Spaceballs in the Planetarium Star Theatre at 8pm. We will be combing the galaxy with our Rat Tail Combs in search of who really does have the biggest schwartz.

The Right Stuff at the Vancouver Planetarium
The F-104 and The Right Stuff at the Vancouver Planetarium
Spock meets Harold
2001:A Space Odyssey at the Planetarium
Dilithium crystals at the Planetarium
2001:A Space Odyssey -An Appreciation of Sorts

Addendum by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
Technical info on photograph: I used a Mamiya RB-67 Pro SD and a 90mm lens. My film was Fuji b+w instant film 3000 ISO. I scanned the negative. Because I slightly over-exposed the negative, it manifested the Sabatier Effect (it was solarized) when I reversed it in Photoshop. I then increased the contrast and used Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 Time Machine on the cyanotype setting. I thank the Vancouver Planetarium, Michael Unger and specially Harold for access into the inner sanctum.



Howard Houston - More Right Stuff From Texas
Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Howard E. Houston, 2nd Lt., USAF

Just got your video of The Right Stuff   [I won the DVD at the Planetarium after answering a skill testing question] that you recently saw at the Vancouver Planetarium. I started to watch it at once. The first few minutes brought back many long lost memories both of the movie and of life.

One in particular was of soon-to-be astronaut Gordon Cooper driving to Edwards with his wife and two girls in a car like mine (see attached picture of my first car).


Houston's first car a 1954 Chevy

Astronaut Cooper's Chevy in The Right Stuff

Other things remembered included the scenes of flying through the clouds as we did many times on our training flights in the T-38 (F-5). Attached are two pictures taken at about 35,000 feet over the Philippine Sea from a KC-135 in 1970.




The scenes from the pilot's perspective of the instruments: The altimeter rapidly rotating down past the 10,000 level where the crosshatches appear in the warning window reminded me of our spin training in the T-37. If those crosshatches appeared during a spin, you were in deep doodoo and immediate action was required to recover! Two pictures of the T-37 and T-38 are attached. They are in a tiny museum at what used to be Webb AFB, in Big Spring, Texas where I went to flight school. I may have flown one or both of these at one time or another. They were never retired, they just keep maintaining them.


I, too, have flown faster than the speed of sound, for about a minute. They let us go through the sound barrier once in the T-38 so we could say we did it. The locals around Webb did not like the sonic booms. They said it scared the chickens and the cattle and they would file a claim if it went on too long.

There was no sensation at all - no vibration, nothing except the movement of the mach meter. Such is the difference between 1952 and 1969, a mere 17 years.

Regarding the Lockheed F-104, I found this interesting:


"The T-38 is of conventional configuration, with a small, low, long-chord wing, a single vertical stabilizer, and tricycle undercarriage. The aircraft seats a student pilot and instructor in tandem, and has intakes for its two turbojet engines at the wing roots. Its nimble performance has earned it the nickname white rocket. In 1962 the T-38 set absolute time-to-climb records for 3000, 6000, 9000 and 12000 meters, beating the records for those altitudes set by the F-104 in December 1958. (The F-4 beat the T-38's records less than a month later.)"


T-38

We always took off in the T-38 at full burner. Note the rate of climb set out below: That's 6.36 miles per minute -- It would climb almost straight up. Breathtaking!


Performance
• Maximum speed: Mach 1.3 (858 mph, 1,381 km/h)
• Range: 1,140 mi (1,835 km)
• Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
• Rate of climb: 33,600 ft/min (170.7 m/s)
• Wing loading: 70 lb/ft² (340 kg/m²)
• Thrust/weight: 0.65


T-37

Life - long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Howard


Addendum: Howard Houston and I began our friendship (we did not know this then) as freshmen at St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas. I was a boarding student (my home was in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico) and Houston lived in town so he was a day student. I did not begin to know him until grade 11. He was one of those very smart enough students who knew just how little to study to get by and somehow get a decent grade. In grade 11 (now that I am a Canadian I resist that very American 11th grade) I was extremely jealous of his ability to not only speak intelligently but to write brilliant essays with all kinds of humour and style. It seemed to be effortless for him.

Upon graduation, the only pictures I have of my graduation must have been taken by Houston’s dad, we were friends and somehow when I invited him to visit me in Mexico City he took up the offer (his parents obliged) and he showed up with a brand new Miranda reflex camera that had all kinds of features that my Pentacon-F did not. Houston dedicated much of his time to photograph Mexican built American cars. In particular he had a fondness for the Dodge Kingsway that had a Dodge grill but Plymouth fins.

Thanks to the web, to email and Skype we are now good friends and we keep in touch and tell each other about favourite books (mostly of the historical kind) and films. We avoid politics. He is a gun-toting Texan, enough said!

Houston is a quiet man not the type to boast about anything but in bits and pieces I found out that when he knew he was going to be drafted around 1964/65 he did not in any way attempt to avoid it. He was concerned that he might have to spend a couple of years walking as a grunt. He did not want to walk. With the ease of someone who can write intelligent essays in his sleep he became an officer and went to flying school. His desire had no aspect (from what I can tell) in a love for airplanes or a desire to fly. It had to do with not wanting to walk.

In Vietnam I 1969 he piloted a KC-135 (a military tanker based on the Boeing 707) and routinely fueled B-52s, F-105 Thunderchiefs, F-4s and F-100s and a few more he forgets. There is one plane of which he says he did not quite refuel but does write that he piloted the planes that did. This was the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Of that experience he wrote me one sentence:

I flew their refueling aircraft, a specially configured KC-135, many times out of Kadena AFB, Okinawa and was privileged to see several SR-71 takeoffs up close and personal from the runways there.) I can’t really describe it. You have to have seen it and heard it to believe it. He elaborated on that later:

Alex: A friend of mine asked a question regarding my previous email on the blackbird. I thought you would be interested, so here is my reply.

Were the wing-leading edges glowing cherry red during refueling on occasion?

Cherry red is perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but the boom operators did say that the leading edges and other such surfaces would glow a dull red. I do know that when they took off, they were towed to the end of the runway with an entourage of fire trucks, crew vehicles, and ground power units and that they started them there just prior to takeoff.

I will try to describe the takeoff as I remember it. It started with a low growl and then built to a truly god awful roar. A B-52 was also loud, but the noise was different - the B-52 sounded powerful and loud, but the SR-71 sounded like an enraged T-Rex after something had bitten his tail. Two humongous engines in full burner will do that.

It would roll down the runway (This is a BIG plane, by the way, 108 ft long) not too far, then the nose would come up slightly, then it would lift off, the gear would come up, it would rotate up to at least 45 degrees, it would climb up a few thousand feet, then it would disappear, almost straight up! Incredible!There are some videos on youtube but they don't do it justice.

Their KC-135s were specially equipped to handle their fuel because the fuel was supposedly some sort of jellied kerosene (Napalm??) and a regular jet engine would not burn it. The tankers had a fuel control panel in the cockpit that the co-pilot operated. We had six wing tanks, two main body tanks and a couple of other small body tanks. All were controlled by switches on the panel and we could feed our engines from any tank or combination of tanks. On the SR-71 tankers the two main body tanks were equipped with red safety covers that would be wired shut when there was blackbird fuel on board. Their purpose was to keep stupid co-pilots from choking the 135 engines to death by accident. In addition, the blackbird tankers had strobes at the wingtips and tail to be used in radio silent night-time refueling rendezvous. This was very handy with regular night time refuelings and should have been on all the tankers.

I did not ever refuel a blackbird, just flew their tankers which were a part of the normal fleet of 135's at Kadena. They had specially trained crews for those missions.

The Blackbird was super secret, so they always closed the curtains on the window wall across the front of the civilian terminal building at Kadena when a Blackbird was going to take off, everyone knew what this meant, so everyone ran out to the full balcony that ran across the building in front of the windows to watch! (Kadena AFB was also the Okinawa Civil airport - USAF on the West side, civilian on the East) .

Of Chuck Yeager the real hero of the film The Right Stuff,  Houston wrote this:

 Chuck Yeager is one of the greatest pilots who ever lived. There are several reasons why but, to my way of thinking, his eyesight was probably the most important (After his attitude). From an interview online:


Chuck Yeager: I always had 20/10 in each eye. That's twice as good as normal, from eight inches to infinity. I'm sixty-eight on February 13, and I still have that sight. I'm very lucky.

With that kind of vision, you can see into the next dimension! And a ME-109 at 10 miles.

HH
Howard Houston
A Canticle for Leibovitz
The Dam Camel
Melanie Malibu,Chicken Fried Steak & No Peach Cobbler In Burnet,Texas
Potential energy - the human kind
Waiting for the real thing with Howard



Beastly Things
Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beautiful (beef)! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful (beef)?
Pennyworth only of beautiful (beef)?
With my apology to Lewis Caroll




My monthly naval pay came in an IBM envelope with sprocket holes (it was 1965 Buenos Aires). In it were two crisp one hundred peso bills which at the time were not worth more than one dollar on the black market on Calle Corrientes. My military pay was based on a pay schedule introduced in 1906 and it had never been changed.

With those two crisp bills I would often search for a corner boliche (a sort of restaurant/coffee shop/bar) and order a bife de chorizo (a very thick strip steak) a caballo (with a fried egg on top). Since I have never really indulged in wine I would order a Coca Cola with my ensalada mixta (lettuce, tomato and onion salad). In most cases I had to search my pockets for that extra money for the tip. The two crisp bills were never enough for a bife de lomo (tenderloin) but I never grieved as the taste of the bife de chorizo (nobody knows why chorizo is part of the name as there is no chorizo involved) was just fine.


I must obviously confess that as an Argentine it would be sheer folly for me to try to pass as a vegetarian. Many years away from the pampas have dampened my taste for meat and I can easily skip a week or even two between exercising my molars with the much tougher Canadian beef.

As a young boy, when my birthday came around my mother would ask me what I wanted for birthday dinner. Because in Argentina not eating beef was an occurrence of great irregularity I often asked for chicken or what then to me was a real treat, a pork chop.

Several trips to the estancias on the pampa or in the Province of Corrientes taught me to shun freshly slaughtered beef. In one particular instance at my first cousin’s aunt’s ranch, Santa Teresita near Goya in the Province of Corrientes, Tía Raquel gave a party to her peones. They slaughtered a steer and a sheep and put them on spits near large coals. I asked Tía Raquel if I could have some. She said that was impossible as the meat was uncommonly tough as it was fresh. We were given cuts from meat that had been aged. She didn’t have to tell me what I already knew about carne cansada (tired meat) where cattle were not taken in trucks to graze. That meat was tough, too.

One lingering memory of my youth was being in a train that was running on that flat pampa where the horizon surrounded us in 360 degrees. I could see cattle grazing and their mouths were blood red. I asked my mother who told me that in that year there had been an abundance of strawberries so fruit farmers had gotten rid of part of the crop to push up the price. Ranchers had taken the opportunity to buy the fruit at bargain prices to feed the cattle.

We Argentines pretty well never marinate anything. The famous Argentine salsa called chimi-churri is put on the meat after cooking. We believe that only coarse salt is needed as an addition to meat on the grill or pan.

Thanks to my mother’s persistent schedule of taking me to the dentist I conserve my original teeth at this later date as I look forward to my 70th birthday not far from the feast of St. Rose of Lima. I just might cook some chewy meat (as my Lauren, 10) calls what is one of her favourite meals. I must admit that I marinate the skirt steak in oil, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and soy sauce for a whole day. I have lost some of that Argentine sense of propriety in things beef.



Luckily by the time my birthday arrives my memory of Donna Leon’s latest Commisario Guido Brunetti (set in Venice), Beastly Things will have faded for me to enjoy that skirt steak without much trace of the horror. The horror is a visit by Commisario Brunetti and Inspector Vianello to a slaughter house in nearby Mestre on the mainland. Of beef and cows Vianello comments:

Vianello picked up his second pastry, a dryish-looking thing covered with fragments of nuts. “The days of Heidi are over, Guido,’ he said and took a bit.

‘Which means?’ Brunetti asked, his own second pastry poised in the air.

‘Which means that there are too many cows, and we can’t afford to keep them or raise them or eat them any longer.’

‘“We being?’ Brunetti inquired and took a bit.

‘“We” being the people in the developed world – is just a euphemism for a rich world – who eat too much beef and too many dairy products.’

As Brunetti and Vianello arrive at the slaughterhouse Leon writes:

Brunetti opened the door. As soon as he was outside, he heard the noise: a distant growling sound that might have come from New York’s noisemakers or from the exultation of passionate lovers, or even from a badly played oboe. Brunetti, however knew what it was, and if he had not, the iron-strong smell would have told him what went on behind those gates.

Then she writes when Brunetti, Vianello and their escort Bianchi enter the actual facilities:

Bianchi turned away from him and pushed down on the bar, swinging open the door. Sound, cold, and light spilled over them. The cries and howls, whimpers and thuds mingled in a modern cacophony that assaulted more than their sense of hearing. Most sounds are neutral. Footsteps all sound the same, rally: the menace comes from the setting in which they are heard. Running water, too, is no more than that. Bathtub overfilling, mountain stream: context is all. Unweave a symphony and the air is filled with odd, unrelated noises that no longer follow one another. A howl of pain, is always that, whether it comes from a beast with two or four legs, and a human voice raised in anger causes the same reaction regardless of the language in which the anger is expressed or whit it is directed at.

The stimuli given to the other senses did not permit a pretty word or thought games: Brunetti’s stomach contracted away from a smell that was as strong as a blow, and his eyes attempted to flee from red in all its varieties and all its striations. His mind intervened, forcing him to think and in thought to find some escape from what surrounded him. He thought it was William James: yes William James, the brother of the man his wife loved, a half memory of something he’d written more than a hundred years ago, that the human eye was always pulled to ‘things that move, things that something else, blood’.


It gets much worse, a lot worse as Leon describes cows and half dead pigs attempting to escape their fate.

For a while I will indulge and enjoy the last of the wonderful crop of Manila mangoes and I will savour my grilled corn on the cob (with lots of piri-piri). But meat will have to wait for Santa Rosa.

In Argentina we like to go to Punta del Este for a vacation rest. They say that meat in Uuguay is not as good. I would strongly disagree.

Bife de chorizo - not



Abraham Darby Corrupt
Monday, August 20, 2012

Rosa 'Abraham Darby'  August 19 2012

Yesterday my daughter’s mother-in-law made a statement that startled and made me think. She was saying that all the fresh beauty and good looks, his manly ones, of Robert Redford have been obliterated by age. “There is nothing left in his face of the man I so admired when he was young.” I made my calculations and figured that in 6 more years I can either look better than he looks now or much worse.

On the other hand my daughter’s mother-in-law could look at herself in the mirror and perhaps might feel kinder. We all live in an age of youth and yet in the 19th century a 40-year-old man was old and a woman of the same age in her dotage.

It is only now that people are living with more regularity (particularly in developed nations) to a riper 80 plus.

It was approximately 15 years ago (I was 55) that I was taking pictures in my studio of an undraped  woman who was around 30. She was telling me how a Brazilian made those areas of the body that are so sensitive (and which for some reason our godly designer decided then to protect with pubic hair) even more sensitive. I watched her as she told me. She stopped and then added, “You wouldn’t understand as you are much too old to know about these things.” She did not say but I could hear her thinking, “It must be truly disgusting for Alex to have sex with his wife. They are too old.”

I said nothing and some day, from my grave, I will have my revenge! She will eventually find out the truth.

Perhaps only the lucky ones (or are they not?) die in their prime and never have to experience the body as it slips into that downward spiral that ends in death and corruption.

It reminds me of going to the VW dealerships in Mexico City to pick up our VW beetle. A white smocked German would show me a computer print out (these chaps at VW were early with this technology) that showed the performance (God knows what form of measurement, kilos per square cm perhaps) of my cars four cylinders. There was a graphic showing four curves going upward with a slow turn towards the horizontal. When those curves were no longer all the same and one or two went beyond horizontal you knew that you might have to spend a lot of money on a ring job.

We now live longer. Some of us ignore going bald others wear hats or get transplants. Women and some men tighten up with Botox and others lose weight to find out that skin becomes loose.

My eldest daughter, Rebecca now 15 has been going to intensive exercises twice a week but sometimes she skips. Rosemary has suggested that she go to Rosemary’s Aquafit classes. To which Rebecca loudly said, “I don’t want to be with all those old people with loose skin.” She is 15 but has to yet master diplomacy, good manners and to learn to show a bit of kindness.

While I don’t generally gain weight I have a small paunch (and my face is not as narrow as it was then)  but I am comfortably telling anybody who might criticize me that at my age is it is unimportantly irrelevant.


Rosa 'Abraham Darby' June 10 2012




It was sometime around 15 years ago that I would walk our fall garden and notice  how our perennials were collapsing and how my hostas had yellow edges (not because of variegation) because they too get fall colours like deciduous trees. I began to appreciate this impending corruption/decay and thought, “I will go to a woman of a certain age and tell her, ‘I would like to photograph you undraped in my fall garden and you will be part of the exquisite corruption towards death and winter.’” And of course my thoughts are shattered by the knowledge that I would be instantly and summarily slapped for the insult.

These days that idea is still in my head and I just might search again for a woman ready to bare it for my cause. There is a particular beauty in imperfection that for me (at age 70) trumps perfect beauty at age 20.




Tres Tristes Libros
Sunday, August 19, 2012


Page Turner, aka Barbara Hycroft (the young lady in red) is a friend of mine in facebook (note no caps).Today she posted the picture of the woman on the left side of the triptych seen here. When I clicked on the picture it took me to one Robertino Fonseca (a facebook friend of Page Turner) who on his facebook page lists himself as writer/director and lives in Los Angeles. He attributes the photograph to Tres Tristes Libros.


Tres Tristes Libros was the first successful published novel by Cuban born Guillermo Cabrera Infante. It is a novel of three young men’s lives in 1958 Havana nightlife. The novel was deemed critical of Castro’s regime (even though Cabrera had been a firm apologist of the revolution). Cabrera left Cuba. He died in 2005.

I did not think that Guillermo Cabrera Infante had much to do with the arresting picture of the nude woman and her bowl so I searched further and found a “literary” facebook page by that name (all in Spanish). Its mission is:


Bienvenidos a Tres Tristes Libros, espacio de convivencia literaria. Tres Tristes Libros es un sitio cultural cuyo único objetivo es el fomento de la lectura en los países de habla castellana. Nos interesa que los NO LECTORES empiecen a leer y que los LECTORES de hoy sean un instrumento importante en la conversión del no lector a la lectura. No somos parte de ninguna casa editorial ni nos dedicamos a la distribución o venta de libros. Este sitio esta en construcción y GRACIAS POR SU APOYO.

And my translation:

Tres Tristes Libros, a space for literary sharing. Tres Tristes Libros is a site that promotes reading in Spanish-speaking countries. We are interested that those who do not read begin to do so and that today’s readers become important promoters in converting non readers to reader. We are independent of any publishing house nor do we distribute or sell books. This site is under construction, thank you for your support.

Like other literary sites, those who participate in Tres Tristes Libros post favourite literary quotes which they illustrate with images that are either photographic or are illustrations. The site’s photos section contains 323 photographs which are mostly high quality sensual, erotic or otherwise arresting images of mostly women. I am happy to report that most of these photographs and illustrations have some sort of attribution and identification. There are many Modiglianis and paintings and photographs of nude women reading. I did not find the photograph of the woman in the bowl.



One picture drew me. It was a photograph of Kristen Stewart with no attribution. I was immediately drawn to a quote by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar that seems to have no connection to Stewart’s photograph.

Página asesina de Julio Cortázar
En un pueblo de Escocia venden libros con una página en blanco perdida en algún lugar del volumen. Si un lector desemboca en esa página al dar las tres de la tarde, muere.


The Killing Page of Julio Cortázar (my translation)
In a Scottish town they sell books that have a blank page randomly lost somewhere inside. If a reader lands at that page at precisely three in the afternoon he dies.

That made me very curious so I searched and found this in the Julio Cortázar web page:


Instrucciones-ejemplos sobre la forma de tener miedo

________________________________________

En un pueblo de Escocia venden libros con una página en blanco perdida en algún lugar del volumen.
Si un lector desemboca en esa página al dar las tres de la tarde, muere.

En la plaza del Quirinal, en Roma, hay un punto que conocían los iniciados hasta el siglo XIX, y
desde el cual, con luna llena, se ven moverse lentamente las estatuas de los Dióscuros que luchan con sus caballos encabritados

En Amalfí, al terminar la zona costanera, hay un malecón que entra en el mar y la noche. Se oye ladrar a un perro más allá de la última farola.

Un señor está extendiendo pasta dentrífica en el cepillo. De pronto ve, acostada de espaldas, una diminuta imagen de mujer, de coral o quizá de miga de pan pintada.

Al abrir el ropero para sacar una camisa, cae un viejo almanaque que se deshace, se deshoja, cubre la ropa blanca con miles de sucias mariposas de papel.

Se sabe de un viajante de comercio a quien le empezó a doler la muñeca izquierda, justamente debajo del reloj de pulsera. Al arrancarse el reloj, saltó la sangre: la herida mostraba la huella de unos dientes muy finos.

El médico termina de examinarnos y nos tranquiliza. Su voz grave y cordial precede los medicamentos cuya receta escribe ahora, sentado ante su mesa. De cuando en cuando alza la cabeza y sonríe, alentándonos. No es de cuidado, en una semana estaremos bien. Nos arrellanamos en nuestro sillón, felices, y miramos distraídamente en torno. De pronto, en la penumbra debajo de la mesa vemos las piernas del médico. Se ha subido los pantalones hasta los muslos, y tiene medias de mujer.

My translation:

Instructions-examples on how to be afraid.

In the Quirinal Place in Rome, there is a point known by the initiated until the 19th century and from where during a full moon one can see the slow movement of the statues of the Diosuri (also known as Castor and Pollux) who are fighting with their bucking horses.

In Amalfi on the end of the coast zone, there is a seaside boulevard that fingers out into the sea and night. You can hear a dog bark somewhere beyond the last street lamp.

A man is squeezing toothpaste on his brush. Suddenly he sees a reclining and very small figure of a woman made of coral or perhaps the white of the bread painted.

Upon opening an armoire to take out a shirt, an old calendar falls, it breaks apart, the pages unbind and the clothes become covered by dirty paper butterflies.

It is known that a traveling salesman suddenly had a pain in his left wrist, just below his wrist watch. When he tore out the watch, blood spurted from a wound that had signs of the bite of very thin teeth.

The doctor has finished examining us and he comforts us. He has a serious but cordial voice tells us of the needed medicines and he writes our prescription, sitting behind his desk. Every once in a while he lifts his head and smiles. We feel assured. Not to worry in a week we will be okay. We sink into our chair and we feel happy. We look around in distraction. Suddenly under the dark of the desk we see our doctor’s legs. He has lifted his pants up to his thighs and he has women’s stockings.




I have a small contribution here to Julio Cortázar's penchant to scare us with brief statements. He was a friend of my father's. In the late 40s Cortázar would visit my father. They would chat in the warm kitchen (the only warm room in our frigid Buenos Aires home). One day I slid down the banister. I was perhaps 8. Cortázar beckoned to me and whispered in my ear, "One of these days, without warning that banister is going to change into a Gillette blade."

Las Balas del Diablo
Chips and Roast Beef
La Noche Boca Arriba



     

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6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17