George McWhirter - Poet
Saturday, January 05, 2013
My Mother's Red Shawl - El Rebozo Colorado
George McWhirter - Poet
After the war
He was a barrel with fists that flailed
at your face for even a sideways look:
a tough egg, whose appearance
gave the expression meaning.
Five and furious at something mysterious
every one of his friends and foes had
or done. He pushed kids off kerbs
as if they were cliffs, elbowed them
into brick walls. A dig was his
how-do-you-do. His mother’s eyes
smouldered with the same familiar fury
at him or us for infuriating him.
Holding the ends
like a knitted wool rosary
she kept her arms folded
under her shawl, her breasts mounded
like our dark, night-time fires,
damped down with slack so the burn
would last. One day they came to check,
line us up, strip us, listen to our chests
for TB. Some shed shirts and vests
like childhood afflictions they were glad
to be rid of from around their ribs,
but he peeled his off, one after the other,
as carefully as scabs, down to a liberty
vest, and stood beside those underthings
in a pile, this thin white scar, too frightful
for his classmates to show pity.
Raúl Guerrero Montemayor
Yeva & Thoenn Glover
André De Mondo
Johnna Wright & Sascha
Director/Mother - Son/Dreamer
Decker & Nick Hunt
Cat & 19th century amateur
Vancouver Sun Columnist
Statesman, Flag Designer
Vancouver Sun Columnist
Lauren Elizabeth Stewart
Veronica Vex - A Perfect Platonic Form
Friday, January 04, 2013
|Plato's Cave from Great Dialogues of Plato translated by W.H.D. Rouse 1956|
It was sometime in 1964 in my class of philosophy at the University of Americas in Mexico City that I first heard of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
. My professor Ramón Xirau
, cigarette in mouth told the class the story as if he were telling us a ghost story or story for children. It was intimate, so intimate that even today I think I can remember that very day and his gestures and his half smile as he told us the wonderful story that has been within my soul all these years. Below you will find part of Book VII where Socrates tells Glaucon the story of the cave.
Socrates talks to Glaucon
And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
That is certain.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow it' the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
True, he said.
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
Not all in a moment, he said.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
Certainly, he would.
And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?
Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
Imagine once more, I said, such a one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?
To be sure, he said.
And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
No question, he said.
This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
|Veronica Vex - Burlesque Dancer |
My memory of Plato’s allegory while always in the back of my mind, suddenly was there in front of me via José Saramago’s novel La Caverna,
translated from the Portuguese to Spanish (Pilar del Río) in 2000. I read La Caverna in 2001 and it has become my favourite of all his novels (I have read all but one).
I will keep the suspense up (on why I am writing about Saramago's novel) a bit by turning those who are reading here to the English edition (I took it out of the Vancouver Public Library a few days ago, and translated by Margaret Jull Costa) to a funny section of the novel where Saramago writes of a shopping mall, called El Centro, which might resemble our very own Canadian West Edmonton Mall:
Now, in a way, the Center is all his, it has been handed to him on a plate of sound and light, he can wander about in it as much as he likes, enjoy the easy-listening music and the inviting voices. If, when they came to visit the apartment for the first time, they had used the elevator on the other side, they would have been able to see, during the slow ride upward, as well as the new arcades, shops, escalators, meeting points, cafés and restaurants, many other equally interesting and varied installations, for example, a carousel of horses, a carousel of space rockets, a center for toddlers, a center for the Third Age, a tunnel of love, a suspension bridge, a ghost train, an astrologer’s tent, a betting shop, a rifle range, a golf course, a luxury hospital, another slightly less luxurious hospital, a bowling alley, a billiard hall, a battery of table football games, a giant map, a secret door, another door with a notice on it saying experience natural sensations, rain, wind, and snow on demand, a wall of china, a taj mahal, an egyptian pyramid, a temple of karnak, a real aqueduct, a mafra monastery, a clerics’ tower, a fjord, a summer sky with fluffy white clouds, a lake, a real palm tree, the skeleton of a tyrannosaurus, another one apparently alive, himalayas complete with everest, an amazon complete with Indians, a stone raft, a corcovado christ, a trojan horse, an electric chair, a firing squad, an angel playing a trumpet, a communications satellite, a comet, a galaxy, a large dwarf, a small giant, a list of prodigies so long that not even eight years of leisure time would be enough to take them al in, even if you had been born in the Center and had never left it for the outside world.
Saramago’s The Cave is a wonderful book about a 65-year old obsolete potter (that reminds me of my own obsolete profession) a found dog called Found, a Center that has everything and which ultimately in its basement this is found:
There was a poster, one of those really big ones outside the Center, can you guess what it said, he asked. We’ve no idea, they replied, and, as if he were reciting something, Marçal said COMING SOON, PUBLIC OPENING OF PLATO’S CAVE, AN EXCLUSIVE ATTRACTION, UNIQUE IN THE WORLD, BUY YOUR TICKET NOW.
The novel alludes in growing but slow detail of the discovery of the cave and Saramago explains how those who live in the Center are the chained inhabitants of Plato’s cave. Our obsolete potter, new soon-to-be wife, his pregnant daughter, his son-in-law and Found the Dog leave their brand new apartment at the Center to explore (an taking a big chance without any promise of financial security) the world, the real world where when it snows, it snows because it is supposed to.
Since I first heard from Xirau of Plato’s cave, and of Plato’s theory of forms or essences, perfect forms of hazy visions we see while chained I have come to realize that in my portrait taking I attempt to show my subjects as perfect forms, as essences of who they are (at the very least, the essence that I am able to discern). And only in the last few months have I come to understand that my present project of taking pictures of people I know wearing my mother’s red Mexican rebozo (a shawl representing the perfect form of our idea of the colour red) involves the capturing of the essence of the professions my friends represent. Thus here, is Veronica Vex who represents the perfect form, the very essence of what is a burlesque dancer. She represents her kind.
For the first time, after so many photographic projects in my past, I see a vision without shadows, hazy outlines, unclear concept, but a project that puts me outside the cave into the light of a real day.
Colin MacDonald's Baroque Saxophone
Thursday, January 03, 2013
While I never did learn to properly read complex music I did learn to play the alto saxophone. This was not by choice but by the strong urging (an offer I could not refuse) from Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. back in Austin, Texas in 1957. One thing going for me was that I had a very sweet tone. I attempted to imitate the sound of Paul Desmond. I, of course loved the sound of Stan Getz’s tenor sax and especially Gerry Mulligan’s baritone. I could never appreciate the playing of Charlie Parker because I could not stand the raw sound of his alto sax. But of all the saxophones my least favourite is the soprano (both the straight and the bent kind, like the one that Malcolm Parry used to play). I never appreciated; in fact, I loathed Sidney Bechet’s vibrato sound and just tolerated Wayne Shorter’s soprano sax in Weather Report.
So why would my friend Graham Walker and I go to the New Westminster campus of Douglas College to listen to a free concert featuring the soprano saxophone?
The concert, the first one of a series of the free afternoon concerts at Douglas College for winter 2013 was organized by sax player/composer/teacher Colin MacDonald. The concert was called The Baroque Saxophone: Music from the 17th Century Venice.
Anybody, just about anybody knows that the saxophone was invented by Belgian Adolphe Saxe in 1846. So the title of the concert had to be some sort of a joke. When the trio, MacDonald, cellist Stefan Hintersteininger (a very serious man) and harpsichordist Christina Hutten (a very serious woman) appeared from our vantage point at the front row we knew we were into a serious afternoon of serious music.
What we did not know was that the concert with the music of Vivaldi:
Concerto in F major, RV 455
Sonata VI for cello, RV 46
Concerto in E minor, RV 484
Trio Sonata in G minor, HWV 387 attributed to George Frideric Handel (the Largo was played)
was to be a sweet and most wonderful concert in a very long time. MacDonald made his soprano sax sound like a flute, on the lower register and his baritone saxophone, played on the higher register, like a bassoon and sometimes even as an oboe. At times MacDonald used the baritone to play in tandem with the harpsichord as continuo for the Sonata VI for cello, RV 46.
MacDonald’s sound with both his saxophones was spectacular. My idea of the sound, the terrible harsh sound of the soprano saxophone, was obliterated in one 50 minute afternoon.
And this was not all, MacDonald composed (it was a world premiere) something called Folie à Deux which was a modern composition of variations to renaissance melody (the Louie Louie of the period and of the later baroque) called La Folia in versions by Arcangelo Corelli and Francesco Geminiani. MacDonald’s piece was very modern and yet I could easily discern that tune that some people call a tune of madness. In fact one of the movements resembled an early 20th century Argentine milonga with its accelerated ¾ time.
There are those who say that Vancouver is boring and by extension, the whole of the Lower Mainland. There are those who say nothing happens in our Lower Mainland. There are even those who attribute to our fair city the moniker of “no culture city”.
And yet, MacDonald’s concert (and I must say I did discern smiles in Christina Hutten and Stefan Hintersteininger’s faces) is ample proof the innovation, expertise, wonder, virtuoso performance are alive in our city and if we would only know how to look for these events we would be most pleasantly surprised as Graham Walker and I were today in New Westminster. And my very Scottish friend would add, “The price was very Scottish, too.”
Addendum: Why were the pieces not kept in baroque tuning? Colin MacDonald’s writes:
As for the modern vs. baroque tuning issue, it was really just a case of it being the easier choice. If I had to tune my saxophones at A=415 Hz, the instruments wouldn't play properly as they are designed with the best acoustic response at the more modern A=440 Hz. Also, I would have to pull out my mouthpiece so far to tune it down to that level that it would probably fall off of the instrument.
The other option would have been to transpose the music down a half-step, but that just changes everything from relatively easy key signatures to more difficult ones, and all of the music would have been harder to play. Since the modern harpsichords can transpose between the different tunings by a simple mechanical shift of the keyboard, it was much easier for the modern instruments to play where we were used to and have the keyboard accommodate our tuning.
Colin MacDonald - Saxophonist/Composer
The Laughing Musketeer
The Pocket Orchestra
Sasha Minx - A Presence In Grain
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Sailors, who are away on land, after a time, lose their sea legs. To regain them they must ship out and after a few hours they get them back and their sense of balance is restored. Their feet adjust to a constantly shifting deck.
The same applies to photographers. They have and lose “sea legs” except that I would call them “camera legs”. To keep your camera legs you must be constantly taking pictures.
Some months ago I told my wife I was going to go backstage at a Neverland Burlesque performance to shoot pictures. She said nothing. By the time I told her I was going to my third performance (Neverland Burlesque has a show on the third Saturday of every month) she grew alarmed and I had a hart time explaining my justification. Imagine her face when I told her that I was going to the fourth one back on December 15 and that I was taking along our 15 year old granddaughter and the former Canadian Poet Laureate, George Bowering.
I had a hard time justifying the four times in plain language except to say that it meant I would be clicking the shutter of my camera back stage to keep my camera legs.
Each time I used a different camera scenario and varied the kind of lighting I used. The first time I only relied on my 3G iPhone but resorted to a good compact studio light for the other occasions.
The second time I was privy to the first burlesque performance (and simultaneously singing with the Blood Alley Quartet) of a young Russian girl by the stage name of Sasha Minx. I caught her again in the third outing but she was not around for the fourth.
I have photographed many people in Vancouver since I first arrived here in 1975. I have photographed pretty girls, lovely girls, beautiful girls, ugly girls, attractive girls, striking girls, thin girls, fat girls, curvy girls, flat-chested girls, tall girls, short girls and girls of all nationalities and sexual preferences. I can assert here that I can note when a subject of mine, in this case the Russian girl of this blog, has a particular kind of presence that makes her special and different.
I remember some years ago when I was present at a beauty pageant at a strip bar (the Drake Hotel) and the girl I thought would win did not. She
was in tears. I went up to her and tried to console her by saying, “The girl that won was very pretty. You lost because you are beautiful.” And that was indeed the case. The judges (idiots in my opinion) had voted safe and pretty.
When I first saw Sasha Minx she was all nervous. I enquired why this was the case. She bluntly answered, “ I have to sing with a live band while I am taking most of my clothes off and I don’t want to trip over the microphone.” The impresario was worried that Sasha Minx, at age 21, looked a lot younger. Neither should have worried as Sasha Minx was a success even though as a newbie she really did not have a proper outfit or the “correct” pasties. In fact she used a criss-cross of black electrical tape. I believe this is to become a trademark, a part of her show, as she always dresses in black. She has a strong voice in the lower register.
But, I must add she has a sort of presence (a presence that as a photographer I can sense, firsthand) that has nothing to do with her looks. It is not important if you find her pretty, beautiful or not. She has a presence.
This presence is in evidence in a long suit of spades in the few photographs I have taken of her back stage, before she does her act, and right after when most of the clothes are off.
Part of the reason could be the use of film and lighting which is my particular technique. Two of the pictures here were the result of a roll of Kodak T-Max 400 which I shot at 1600 ISO but inadvertently processed at 800 ISO. The negatives are under exposed (they needed one more minute in the developer). The underexposure amplifies the grittiness of the film grain and makes Sasha Minx look like perhaps a cross between the regal Anastasia and a down-and-out former courtesan of the Czar’s court. In a film she could play the daughter of the Czar or a lowly prostitute.
The look of the pictures here comes from over-manipulation of the scanned negatives with Photoshop’s shadow/highlight setting. When abused the green tone seeps in. The fake 35mm film edges (even though my shots are indeed genuine 35mm film shot with a Nikon FM-2 and a 50mm lens) come courtesy of Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 frames.
My iPhone 3g at the Neverland Burlesque
The Mason and Hamlin Organ at the Russian Hall
A Newbie and a Seasoned Performer
Neverland Burlesque at the Russian Hall
Cute, dainty and sexy
Pushing The Decisive Moment
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
|Salem at the Marble Arch|
One of the pleasures of reading a daily delivered NY Times
is reading the Sunday edition, in bed on the Saturday night that precedes Sunday. That’s when my paper is delivered. Rosemary and I wait for that crash at the door, sometime around 8 pm. The first section of the paper I read is the Sunday Review. It is full of opinion columns by the likes of Maureen Dowd and Frank Bruni. Bruni, used to be a food columnist but he now writes about serious matters with enough humor that makes me recall that fantastic former columnist Frank Rich who I enjoy as a guest in the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC.
The Sunday December 30, 2012 Sunday Review was a disappointment. There was one column by Nicholas D. Kristoff and another by the mildly entertaining conservative Ross Douthat (who in the secret confines of his inner being must be a liberal wanting to be outed). There was a beautiful ode to sound in comparison to the ubiquitous nature of snapshot photographs by Verlyn Klinkenborg but the rest of the Review consisted of pages and pages of the best news photographs of the year.
These pictures were all very good but I know that if I were in a lecture where these and one hundred more were to be projected I would have nodded off as quickly as if the pictures were close-up shots of roses.
The NY Times’s Sunday Review always gives me food for thought. This one, so sparse in column inches of opinion, made me think, too.
Go back in time to Paris in the late 40s and picture Henri Cartier-Bresson sitting at a table of a Paris café. Under the table he may have been holding his Leica which some say had black tape to make the camera less obvious. Cartier-Bresson would be waiting for the couple across to finally kiss. When they did he would snap his Leica and capture the decisive moment. For many Cartier-Bresson is considered the father of photojournalism.
In today’s 2013 if Cartier-Bresson could transport himself via a time machine to a Starbucks on Robson and Thurlow and if he were to take pictures, those pictures would be no different from the millions taken by photographers with their digital cameras and phones. In fact Cartier-Bresson’s might not be sharp enough or use film sensitive enough to capture the low light of a Starbucks in a 2013 Vancouver gloom.
My guess is that Cartier-Bresson would have to find another area of occupation. He would not shine in our city.
Every one of those Sunday Review pictures was perfect in exposure, sharpness and all were ultimate capture of decisive moments. The bulk of the photographs were taken by qualified, certified and accredited photojournalists representing prominent newspapers, magazines and other news services. All the photographs were accurately and intelligently cropped (probably at the moment of their taking) for maximum impact.
Without any attempt to deprecate the talent of the photographers chosen for the NY Times Sunday Review I can assert that all the pictures were taken by photographers waiting for decisive moments who ultimately chose to take their picture when their past experience told them that the moment had arrived.
In February 1865 Scottish-born photographer Alexander Gardner snapped portraits of Abraham Lincoln. Gardner chose a location, a camera, a pose, and probably instructed Lincoln on how to stand or sit. Unlike the photographs of the Sunday Review where the photographers were faced with a situation in which they were looking for a photograph, Gardner had created the situation. But we cannot dismiss here the idea of Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment at Gardner had to choose his decisive moment, the moment when he thought Lincoln was projecting the very image that Gardner wanted to take with his large camera.
Ever since I started taking pictures I soon suspected and came to know that photographs can be divided into the grab shots of being at a place at the right time with a responsive camera in hand, and those taken by a photographer with a pre-planned purpose in mind. I call this pre-planned purpose that of creating or pushing the decisive moment to happen.
As a retired (via obsolescence) photographer in 2013 I can no more retire than a painter can stop painting. A lawyer might stop lawyering and a teacher, teaching. A stock broker might stop stock brokering, but some of us, photographers I would think, cannot retire. We cannot suddenly stop snapping. Perhaps we continue with less frequency from those times of assignment and commission. But we continue.
As I ponder on the possible purchase of a digital camera (the only one I would consider would be the Fuji X-E1) I weigh in my mind if the camera would modify my method. Tools, powerful tools, can suggest a method. A hammer in hand will push you to hammer a nail, a screwdriver to screw and tighten or to take apart. Would a Fuji X-E1 make me walk the streets in pursuit of decisive moments about to happen? Would the ease of use, even in extreme low light situations, make me snap with less thought? I could take pictures in RAW and then opt for turning them into black and white, or into punch colour, or I could solarize them and modify them to my heart’s content.
My film cameras give me fewer choices. To shoot in colour and in b+w it is best I use two cameras, one with b+w and the other in colour. I can always scan a colour transparency or negative as black and white. I sometimes do this. But I prefer the purpose driven single camera in hand with one type of film. Is it comfortable habit or is it my method?
I have been approaching some of my subjects (persons) with multiple cameras. In one case I used five cameras. The pictures are similar but all subtly different. I like that. Are they a multiplicity of decisive moments? Are they a multiplicity of steered decisive moments?
The pictures here I took about 15 years ago. I photographed many women in a room of the Marble Arch Hotel. I would place a scantily clad or nude woman on a bed and then suggest scenarios. The results are files and files of photographs, most which I cannot show here without offending somebody.
These should not offend. To me they seem extemporaneous, candid. They seem natural. Perhaps it is so because of strong rapport. Or perhaps, because my cameras, familiar cameras to my hands, were and are tools that I am not beholden to. They react without protest within the limits of what they are able to do.
I like these results and I see many more like these in my near future.
A Melancholy December 31, 2012
Monday, December 31, 2012
|Rosa 'Coverdale', December 31, 2012|
Good things seemed to have happened in 2012 for my wife Rosemary and her husband. But bad stuff happened, too so if I look at the year with objectivity and aided by the wet and gloomy weather of late I would assert that in the balance it was a lousy year.
That would not be a good way to end 2012 with this blog which I started in January 2006. I wasn’t too sure what blogging was all about then so I plodded for a while until I came to realize that a blog is nothing new. It is simply a “Dear Diary”
without that endearing and old-fashioned beginning.
Strictly speaking my blog has not been a true diary in the absolute definition of what is a daily diary. I have missed days to go back at later date and fill in the days. And in many cases I have written blogs well in advance to the date of the day.
A blog then, or my blog, then, is my stream of consciousness but those who read must understand that I cannot be completely candid. There is such a thing as too much information or TMI as my friend Robert Blake calls it. I am not going to reveal to you if I pick my nose with my left or with my right index finger. I could be really candid if I did, but I do not think that such information would be of importance or relevance to my life as thrown over to you to read. If anything this idea of throwing over my life in your direction is but my attempt at looking back through the imaginary eyes of those who read this so that I can tell myself that I am being objective. In fact I have always thought that Shakespeare’s heroes and villains who speak in stream of consciousness do this so that the audience can weigh in and help relieve the stress of guilt or decision.
Today is a cold, gloomy and melancholy December 31st. I can remember other Decembers that are full of heat, a lovely humidity and the noise of ships in the port of my mother's Veracruz all sounding their ships’ whistles at the stroke of midnight. I can remember my dear Rosemary giving me 12 grapes, after our stroll on the Malecón, the boulvard by Veracruz's port, which I was to eat, one at a time as, the clock struck 12 times. This is a Spanish custom that is supposed to guarantee 12 good months in a coming year.
I can remember being at Gary Taylor’s Rock Room facing the singer that used to go by the name of Bim reading the lyrics (he did not know them) of Auld Lang Syne. After this, since Rosemary and I were up front he sprayed us with Moët & Chandon. Three Polish sailors came up to me and told me I was the double for Roman Polanski. They demanded my address. For years I received a Christmas card from them congratulating the Roman Polanski who lived in Vancouver.
It was not too many years later that I began to think that I did not want to go to a loud place where people I did not know congregated. I did not want to hug people I did not know and wish them a happy new year.
A good new year’s evening is one that I share with my wife in bed. We read, discuss this and that and as soon as we feel sleepy, not matter if it happens to be 10, we turn off the lights.
And that’s it.
A little trip around my garden today found a bloom of English Rose, Rosa
‘Coverdale’ and some sprays of a China rose hybrid from Brentwood Bay Nursery. I placed them on my scanner and over them one of my mother’s Mexican rebozos. I think that this particularly blue one does wonders to bring out the lovely beauty of a rose that once was and that if things happen to go our way will result in the appearance of the same rose, in all its glory come June, 2013.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
|Christian Chávez Rodríguez|
Biarritz y Hamburgo
México DF, 18 de diciembre, 2012
When I turned from Biarritz to Hamburgo, in Mexico City's Zona Rosa I saw this pleasant gentleman, part of a crew of sanitation department workers standing by their truck having their lunch. I went up to this man and touching him on his chest I said, in Spanish, "I am from there." We chatted and Christian Chávez Rodríguez consented to pose for me.
Further down the street behind the window of a travel agency I found out how exotic we in Canada seem to Mexicans.