As Blond As A Zulu Under The Bleach
Saturday, September 29, 2012
There are blondes and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points, except perhaps the metallic ones who are as blond as a Zulu under the bleach and as to disposition as soft as a sidewalk. There is the small cute blond who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very very tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except that you are glad you found out about the headache before you invested too much time and money and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo's rapier or Lucrezia's poison vial.
There is the soft and willing and alcoholic blonde who doesn't care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Roof and plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pal and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde* with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can't lay a finger on her because in the first place you don't want to and in the second place she is reading The Waste Land or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Provençal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindemith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also. That makes two of them.
And lastly there is the gorgeous show piece who will outlast three kingpin racketeers and then marry a couple of millionaires at a million a head and end up with a pale rose villa at Cap d'Antibes, an Alfa-Romeo town car complete with pilot and co-pilot, and a stable of shopworn aristocrats, all of whom she will treat with the affectionate absent-mindedness of an elderly duke saying goodnight to his butler.
The dream across the way was none of these, not even of that kind of world. She was unclassifiable, as remote and clear as mountain water, as elusive as its color.
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
Bigotes, Bigots & Mustachios
Friday, September 28, 2012
"The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, père
|George Waterhouse Hayward|
This morning I tried to remember if my father wore a moustache. I wasn’t sure. It came to mind because of a wonderful story in my NY Times about men with moustaches, particularly those in American football and baseball teams.
I have to admit that I had to go to my blogger search engine (far faster than leafing through the family albums) and looked for George. I found my father and sure enough he did sport a moustache.
is the Spanish word for moustache. The on-line Diccionario de la Real Academia (RAE). My grandmother called it “el mataburros”
or donkey killer. A burro
in Spanish is anybody who might be dense or intelligence-impaired.
(Quizá del al. bei Got, por Dios).
The RAE, on the origin of the word, was oblique, uncertain, quite proper coming from a language in which the vague assertions of the subjunctive mood put into question everything except with the very Catholics, the very existence of God.
|Camerino Urbina aka El Borrado|
So bigot may come from the German expression bei Gott
which means “by God” and to some with historical memory a very important part of those who swore allegiance to Hitler. It is not difficult to see that the word bigot in English comes from the same route and one wonders if the original religious hypocrites, who were first labeled bigots, may have sported Rollie Fingers mustachios.
I am now trying to remember if my memory of feeling the sharpness of my father’s moustache when he kissed me is one that is real or now imagined. As one gets older, memories such as these are impalpable as the reality of a dream when one wakes up.
As for the quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the man, whose son became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, he, the father, has been much in my thoughts. I am reading Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club
(I have read his The Poe Shadow
and The Last Dickens
). In this novel Oliver Wendell Holmes, a poet, essayist and physician teams up with James Russell Lowell and Henry Wardsworth Longfellow to translate Dante’s Magnus opus into English. Longfellow, almost forgotten in this 21st century, is the only American (and non English) poet represented in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.
Such is the enthusiasm of Pearl’s descriptions of those Boston men that I am now prepared to tackle Oliver Wendell Holmes’s The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
|Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.|
Here then is a photograph of my father, Camerino Urbina, aka El Borrado, a Texas cowboy, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. As far as I know none of them were ever accused of bigotry. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the physician, never wore a moustache.
As for me I sometimes think I am an odd man. I have never grown a moustache, a beard or ever wanted to buy a motorcycle.
The Gentleman Wore Red Socks
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
|JJ Lee, Esq|
JJ Lee’s delightful book The Measure of a Man – The Story of a Father a Son, and a Suit
contains very small illustrations (by the author). One of them caught my eye the first time I saw it. It is of Beau Brummell (played so well by Stewart Granger, in the 1954 film and with a stunning Elizabeth Taylor).
Mr. Lee, who has an exquisite sense of style, has an attention for the details. Do not ever face the man with all three buttons of your three-buttoned suit done. He might have an apoplectic fit.
The illustration has the following cutline: Beau Brummell, with a simple tailcoat and ultra-tight pants, avoided extraneous details.
Today Mr. Lee, elegantly dressed, posed for my camera in my home studio.
I noticed he wore red socks.
Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick - The Architect & His Cane
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
|Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick|
It was sometime around 1994 that I met an old man who was stooped and walked with a cane. I was a youngish (youthful?) 55. The old man, Abraham Rogatnick died in 2009. I was at his bed the day before he died. He had given me an hour-long treatise on Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580) and the merits and wonders of his Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore.
It is 2012 and I am now that old man with the exception that my beautiful carved and colourful Apizaco, Mexico, cane
is behind my TV set in the den. I have yet no need for it.
I often think of how in just 15 years I have become a poor copy of the great old man that Rogatnick was when I met him.
At Rogatnick’s memorial service video artist extraordinaire, Clancy Dennehy showed us his take on Rogatnick. In a conversation with Dennehy just yesterday, he informed me he would post on YouTube a video about the late 90s tango band, Tango Paradiso. The video
featured a then Vancouver Ballet BC dancer, Acacia Schachte
, her father, another Ballet BC dancer, Rusty Toth and most improbably Abraham Rogatnick (who when not being an architect was a professional actor, Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick. Because we discussed Rogatnick, today I was delighted to find that Dennehy had posted the Rogatnick video. Here it is.
The Profane Urbanist's Home
Rogatnick's manifesto for not moving the VAG
Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick
Acacia Schachte - That Exquisite Singularity
Monday, September 24, 2012
|James Russell Toth & Acacia Schachte in a still from Clancy Dennehy's Tangere|
New York, USA
Works by Shechter, Ekman & Pite
Performance Dates + Times:
Friday, September 28 2012, 8:00 PM
Saturday, September 29 2012, 8:00 PM
Through their daring, athletic movement and integration of classical technique into contemporary and popular forms, the dancers of Cedar Lake take audiences on a choreographic journey that explores the infinite possibilities of movement and multimedia. The company’s emphasis on commissioning new works from the hottest choreographers on the planet has made it one of the most exciting dance ensembles working today.
These performances include three works: Violet Kid by DanceHouse favourite Hofesh Shechter, Tuplet by Alexander Ekman, and Crystal Pite’s Grace Engine; repertoire that shows off the company’s downtown edge and personality as featured in the film The Adjustment Bureau
Visit the Cedar Lake website
|Acacia Schachte & Terri Gardener|
You might not know about the above as our much reduced arts media does not seem to trumpet too loudly about truly significant events that connoisseurs like me (I will trumpet my elitism here!) are plainly aware of. Our much reduced arts media, if you consider the Vancouver Sun
as part of the paradigm, does not even have (any more) a full-time dance/visual arts critic.
My awareness of this Friday and Saturday night performance of the New York modern dance company Cedar Lake left me with insomnia last night. I dreamt of two names, Acacia Schachte
and Abraham Rogatnick
. I will explain the connection between these two names further down.
Ballet BC, since I began attending performances in 1992, has had as string of stellar performers. One cannot but think of at least two, Emily Molnar (the present Artistic Director) and that ex-Ballet BC dancer now artistic director and choreographer, Crystal Pite of Kidd Pivot
. The latter is one of the featured choreographers in the Cedar Lake program this Friday and Saturday at the Playhouse.
|Crystal Pite & Emily Molnar|
But there are three other dancers (all female, none of which are in Ballet BC’s company today) who in my amateur eye have transcended those stellar roles by being one-of-a-kind virtuosos so utterly different that they stand out almost in an awkward-from-another-world or planet way (while still being most graceful). I have been very lucky in having photographed all three, and two of them together. I have delighted in watching them dance.
The three are Lauri Stallings
, Sandrine Cassini
and Acacia Schachte. Schachte is in the Cedar Lake Company.
Lauri Stallings was so different that I could watch her from the ankles down and know she was the one. It took lots of effort to only watch her ankles. She had baroque, curly red hair. One of her most memorable performances involved the work of the then artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada; James Kudelka’s. His 15 Heterosexual Duets
made my head turn and finally made me an unabashed fan of dance. These duets (as danced by dancers of Ballet BC in several remountings of this work) featured 8 couples showing the variety, delights and conflicts of human love and interaction. One of the dances featured a woman with long hair (except once when John Alleyne cast Acacia Schachte, a short-haired woman, in the part!) who in her movements with her male partner magically swirled her hair swirled not unlike (but please discount my crass comparison!) a very good TV shampoo commercial. Kudelka in this particular duet had almost played God and choreographed hair to his bidding! Stallings was stunning.
Of French-born Sandrine Cassini I have written at length and many times in this blog. Even when she walked she was different. Both Cassini and Stallings somehow did not fit in to a local cookie-cutter conception of blandness and uniformity trumping virtuosity.
Acacia Schachte graduated from Arty Gordon’s Arts Umbrella and perhaps may have been the first of what now in retrospect has been an avalanche of talent from that school. Schachte was hired by John Alleyne, and he first time I saw her dance, my wife Rosemary who likes little fell for Schachte as I did. It took me a bit longer. Schachte can be as quick as anybody else but when she dances, time seems to slow down and the dancers around her are frozen in some sort of Einstein time warp
. It did not take long before she was whisked away by those crafty Americans who know something very good when it is very good. And she was gone. It was a Vancouver loss as was the loss of Stallings and Cassini.
It is now where I will connect Schachte to my friend architect Abraham Rogatnick via the Argentine Tango.
|Acacia Schachte, Edmond Kilpatrick & Sandrine Cassini|
When I was taking tango lessons with Carlos Loyola in the beginning of the 21st century one of the women I danced with (I never did have an official dance partner) was Vancouver Symphony string bassist Patricia Hutter. In those years Argentine tango was a phenomenon in Vancouver and Hutter joined a tango band which was briefly called Banda Paradiso and then changed to Tango Paradiso. It included bandoneon player Doug Schmidt, guitarist Budge Schachte
(Acacia’s father), and violinist (there were two in the two times I photographed them), Rebecca Whitling and Jessie Zobot.
|Abraham Rogatnick in Clancy Dennehy's Tangere|
Because of Hutter’s connection with the Symphony we were able to get permission to shoot pictures in the Orpheum. We did this with Argentine tango master Carlos Loyola and partner Yanina Perez.
|Tango Paradiso (1998) Patricia Hutter, Budge Schachte, Carlos Loyola|
Yanina Perez, Jessie Zobot & Douglas Schmidt
It was sometime around 2002 when artist videographer Clancy Dennehy made a video of the band playing one of Doug Schmidt's compositions (with assistance by Budge Schachte) called Tangere
. It premiered to critical acclaim at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. I may have seen a rough copy (a very good one is linked below and just posted by Dennehy in YouTube) before in which I noticed an old man in a bar. The old man was Abraham Rogatnick, a friend of Dennehy who had worked with the architect in various projects some of which included documentaries on Arthur Erickson.
|Budge Schachte & Patricia Hutter|
Clancy Dennehy's Tangere
The other striking fact of this exquisite video is that there is a narrative of a hooker and her john. The slim, short, cropped hair Acacia is she, and her john was Ballet BC’s James Russell Toth whom we all called Rusty.
|Chengxin Wei, Justin Peck &|
James (Rusty) Russell Toth
The video captures you see here, I took with my iPhone from Hutter’s TV monitor (she is a neighbour). But those reading this will now thanks to Dennehy be able to see the video here. I must warn you that in the performance Acacia Schachte never does wear a tutu and at one point even less of one.
While I am no dance expert, I do believe that Carlos Loyola must have indeed taught Schachte and Toth to dance the Argentine Tango very well. What the couple do in Dennehy’s video they do it with the kind of feeling that Spaniards call duende.
What do to this Friday? It should be evident.
|James Russell Toth & Acacia Schachte|
in Clancy Dennehy's Tangere
|Still of Acacia Schachte in Clancy Dennehy's Tangere|
|Acacia Schachte in Clancy Dennehy's Tangere.|
Clancy Dennehy's video on Youtube.
Budge Schachte's band, Van Django
A Lizard Visits Lillooet
Sunday, September 23, 2012
|Alexandra Elizabeth Waterhouse-Hayward, Lillooet, September 22, 2012|
I have to confess to you here that my recent 70th birthday has brought to light that I have devolved to becoming a lizard or a snake. I wonder what Charles Darwin would make of this. Or Paul Bettany the wonderful English actor (Dr. Maturin to Russell Crowe’s Captain Jack Aubrey in Master& Commander: The Far Side of the World
) who plays Darwin in the 2009 Jon Amiel film Creation.
Rosemary, my eldest daughter Ale, 44 and I watched it over the weekend in Lillooet.
|Our window in our bedroom|
I am a snake, or at the very least an aging Mexican iguana because all I want to do these days is soak in the sun (not for a sun tan) but to feel hot. Of late I have enjoyed getting into my Malibu and feeling the heat of the enclosed car. I am reluctant to lower the windows. I want heat. With Rosemary’s cat Casi-Casi we sit on our backyard bench, he, cat-like and me like that iguana or, could it be a Galapagos turtle?
|Ale's bedroom window|
Going to Lillooet can be a trying experience. I am 70 and very set in my ways. You might say I am inflexible before you even check my joints. And my 42-year-old single daughter who happens to be a teacher can be bossy and set in her ways, too, even though there is no lizard transformation in her near future.
|The kitchen window|
For our weekend trip to Lillooet, we drove on Friday morning and left for Vancouver on Sunday noon. It was uneventful, with no confrontation. A couple, Darlene and Bruce, friends of Ale, arrived on Saturday afternoon and we entertained them with fresh strawberries and a very cold bottle of prosecco that the Lillooet government liquor store stocked to my astonishment!
I even managed to take some Ektachromes (few of these left in my fridge and the film has been discontinued) of Ale that pleased me even though I had a little bit of slight friction from my subject when I suggested that the red, white and black polka dot halter straps on her shoulders clashed with her beautiful sunflowers.
Friday was almost hot enough for me (it was 29) but Saturday and Sunday were cool to my chagrin.
As we drove back to Vancouver, listening to Gore Vidal pontificate on how the United States became a security-based empire with an unconstitutional CIA in 1947 and how inept and corrupt President Jack Kennedy was, I knew that come next spring I can expect some more pleasant heat in Lillooet for the lizard in me and that Rosemary and I can bask, at least, in the furnace heat of our Vancouver home, knowing that our eldest daughter is a happy woman.
|Sunflowers & the Fraser Canyon|
|Rosemary and I picked tomatoes at the farm. She, unfortunately does not like these.|
Addendum: Even though Ale does not have cable we were able to enjoy our Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC streamed live on Rosemary's laptop!