Café Raoul, A Lukewarm Chamomile & My Friend Tony Ricci
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Yesterday I was at the No. 5 Orange on Powell and Main visiting with my friend Tony Ricci. While he was not the owner of the place when I was first there in the late 70s (the Brandolini brothers were in charge) the venerable place, in spite of new carpeting and re-laminated tables still looks as I first remember it. The girls look more 21st century but their moves on the stage are not new. At age 70 watching the girls take it all off for me resembled the act of drinking lukewarm chamomile tea. In the past I might have indulged in Harry Brandolini’s special Cafés Raoul.
|Tony Ricci, January 18, 2013|
Perhaps the girls were too young as in fact I am too old. The girls, very pretty, looked unfinished in their youth. They did not have (and why would they?) the depth of my own Rosemary and of other women of her age.
There was an old, distinguished gray-haired man sitting at a table who clapped with enthusiasm and called the short order cook of the establishment (the hamburgers are quite good) the chef.
I spoke with the DJ who happened to be a former resident of Mexico City. He has been working at The Five, four months, and told me he still had some of the ropes to learn. One might scoff at the idea of someone working as a DJ at a strip bar. And yet I remember several including one who ended up going to Carlton, working as an arts reporter (a very good one) for the Globe & Mail and is now an established trial lawyer for a good local firm.
Those who work for Tony (an American, a Canadian, an Armenian, a Greek), all, smiled at me. They remembered me from my ventures the North Burnaby Inn, the Marble Arch and The Five. All who work for Tony have done so in time periods measured in several decades. The perks must be good, the working conditions, excellent.
Taking pictures of Tony and of the newbie (just a few weeks) Crystal Lee in one of the original dressing rooms was a spooky treat. I had taken pictures there years before. It seemed like the ghost of one of the dancers from my past, Portia Winters
was hovering as I took my pictures.
I used film in my big camera but what you see are some Fuji Instant prints which I think add a nice quality that does justice to a Vancouver institution that will long live in my memory knowing that Tony’s smile will keep on and his establishment will, too. And that, in spite of the lukewarm chamomile tea is comforting.
Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. - A Surrogate Father
Friday, January 18, 2013
|Lauren, Brother Edwin & Rebecca|
My biological father, George Waterhouse-Hayward
was a flawed man whose alcohol addiction finally led him to leave our Buenos Aires home. During the almost 14 years that I did not see him I felt a love and respect for him that my mother
never quite understood. She often told me, “Alex you will never understand because you will never be a mother.” I was too polite and naïve to even imagine what I would answer now if she were to say that to me in my dreams. “I would say, “Mother, you will never understand why it is that a son loves his father without reservation because you were never a son nor will you ever be a father.”
I saw my father for six months on weekends in Buenos Aires until he died in mid 1965. Of our conversations, warm ones, I cannot remember a word and his very image is fuzzy. I remember him as the younger man who looked and sounded like David Niven. The very thin, white haired old man, leaning against a Siam di Tella with a belt attached to the innermost belt hole is real only in the photograph.
|Right, George Waterhouse-Hayward|
I never did tell him that in the interim, when he was in Buenos Aires and had no knowledge of where I was, and I was in Mexico and in Texas I had vowed to somehow return to Argentina to find him. I did not tell him that I had been under the benevolent and inspired influence of a slew of surrogate fathers
, all Brothers of Holy Cross, in a Roman Catholic St Edward’s High School in Austin Texas.
I had yet to meet my next surrogate father, the multilingual, and highly educated Raúl Guerrero Montemayor
who introduced me to the films of Fellini, Antonioni and Buñuel, nurtured and promoted my courtship of Rosemary Healey (and was witness at our Coyoacán, Mexico wedding). It was Raúl who always gave me the advice I needed (wanted). “You really want that Alex? Then get it. It’s good.” Raúl died on January 9th but I had managed to visit him in mid December of last year.
For a while in the late 50s I had a Basque surrogate father. His name was Daniel Guridi Árregui
. He was a retired Jai-alai player married to a Filipino woman Lillian Guridi Pardo de Tavera. Lillian had been a student of both my mother and grandmother in the Philippines. For a while Daniel had a gun shop right next door to the Avenida Insurgentes Sur apartment where I live with my mother and grandmother. Daniel showed me beautiful Italian pistols and engraved shotguns from England and other European countries. He taught me well as I have never wanted to own a gun. He taught me literature from books he had read in the daily insomnia of his hectic seasons at the frontón until early hours of the morning. He was a self-educated man who had been plucked from his town of Mondragón before he had ever finished secondary school because he was a fenómeno of la pelota
. He was gifted player of pelota vasca
In the mid 80s Rosemary, our daughters and I went to Spain and we visited Lillian and Daniel in Málaga. I showed up with a bottle of Manzanilla and two Montecristo claros. We sat on the porch overlooking the sea while Lillian and the rest of the girls went to the beach. Of the conversation (as the one with my real father) I remember nothing except I can sense that it must have been a warm one in which he might have even been proud to admit that his surrogate son (he had a daughter, also Lillian who now lives in Barcelona) had not turned out too badly in the end.
I have one surrogate father left. He is Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. He taught me religion, forced me to learn to play the alto saxophone, taught me to read music (I was lousy) and told me that a cornet blended better with a b flat clarinet than a trumpet. I can repeat hours of the wisdom he imparted to us in class. I have been lucky enough that he has not only met my wife but my two granddaughters. Who could have guessed as this pimply nerd, sitting in Brother Edwin’s religion class sometime in 1956 would one day return with granddaughters? Who would have even known then what Brother Edwin revealed to Rebecca and me in a drive around Austin that he had wooed an admiral’s daughter, and that the admiral had prepared to waive the height rule of Annapolis (Brother Edwin is exactly five foot one) and get him into the academy. But Brother Edwin saw a stronger calling and became a Brother of Holy Cross.
Brother Edwin has been my most favourite person in the last five years and I have managed to see him almost every year. Not only that, but I have been allowed to stay at St. Joseph Hall (I affectionately call it St. Joe’s Hilton) for a few days in a Spartan room where I have the pleasure of sharing meals, Holy Mass, and very good conversation with Brother Edwin and the rest of the Brothers of Holy Cross. They live there on the campus of St Edward’s University (our high school is long gone).
But even the above is topped by the fact that a couple of years ago Rebecca, 13 then, was also given a room and she may have been one of the few women to ever stay at St. Joe’s. I cannot but believe that some day Rebecca will understand and appreciate her great luck.
Rebecca is not behaving these days and our every day is full of the stress of worry over her and trying to placate the nerves of her mother. Every ringing of the phone adds to our nerves. A 15-year-old teenager from hell is heavy duty baggage.
But there is some temporary relief in store for me. Mid February I am going for a four-day stay at St. Joe’s. From the 15th to the 17th there is a High School and University reunion. I will see Brother Edwin and Brother Nick and the many others whose smiles in my memory instantly convert the melancholy gloomy days of our Vancouver January into sunny ones.
But it is all not rosy. Brother Edwin has a rare form of leukemia and his medicines were not working well in the fall. He had to stop working (he is 81) his full day and only work one half of it. He had undergone heart surgery a year before. Then the chemotherapy began to work its miracles and he got well again. But his immune system, not being up to par, meant that when a flu virus hit the campus he got it. Since Christmas Brother Edwin has not gone to work and he has stayed in his room. But he seems to be recovering. In a short missive he told me he looks forward to seeing me soon.
I will oblige, after all I have but one surrogate father left.
Diestra Y Siniestra
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Nikon FM-2 50mm lens, Fuji Superia 1600
Ryan Beil - Vancouver's Funniest Man
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
While I was born in Argentina, because I have lived in Vancouver since 1975, my porteño nostalgia is diminished. As a Canadian citizen I feel sort of Canadian. But since, besides Argentina, I also lived in Mexico and in Texas (an ancillary subtext of the United States of America) I feel other “things”.
Humor (and the Canadian version humour) is supposed to be pretty well universal I believe that humour can be local, national and subject to race perception.
As an example Mexican humour often includes making fun of a person’s flaws. A fat person will be called gordo. My Yorkshire friend Andrew Taylor (he lives in Guadalajara) back in our days at the University of the Americas, in the outskirts of Mexico City was called Helena (Helen!). It was a joke that played on the words el enano or dwarf.
My years in Mexico did not serve me well last night at the opening to Neil Wedman’s opening at the Charles H. Scott Gallery on Granville Island’s Emily Carr University of Art & Design.
I saw many people of Vancouver’s stratospheric art scene to whom I am a polar bear in a white in an arctic white out. There were also people I had last seen 20 or more years ago. One of them was saxophonist Dennis Mills who played for an angry avant-garde band in the early 80s called AKA. He was accompanied by his lovely partner who always had premature white hair which she always wore very short. But I put my Mexican humour foot in my mouth by saying that I had always seen her as Might Mouse’s girlfriend, Pearl Pureheart who had ears that were nicely upturned. I made it all worse by pointing to the lovely woman’s ears that in fact are upturned. I left in a hurry not knowing how to apologize.
My Latin American roots prevent me from completely understanding that people might pay to get into a bar where someone will be making Surrey, racial and sexist jokes. The concept of going into such a place to laugh is alien to me. Also alien to me (as much as that North American institution the roast/retirement bash) is the humiliation some of these comics go through when nobody laughs.
What this means is that I am no expert on North American humour, and in particular the tamer (my personal and most amateur perception) Canadian variety.
So my assertion that the funniest man in Vancouver, one I would pay to get in to listen to him talk, is Ryan Beil has to be taken with caution.
Portrait Of A Woman Revealing Her Breasts
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Completion Date: c.1570
Style: Mannerism (Late Renaissance)
Dimensions: 61 x 55 cm
Gallery: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Photographer: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
Completion Date: January 13, 2013
Camera: Nikon FM-2 50mm lens
Film: Fuji Superia 1600
Dimensions: 944 pixels by 1415
Veronica Vex - Burlesque Dancer
Monday, January 14, 2013
My Mother's Red Shawl - El Rebozo Colorado
Veronica Vex - Burlesque Dancer
When I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a showgirl, an actress, a star. I remember telling my grade school friends that I wanted to be a Las Vegas showgirl. They laughed and ridiculed me. They thought I was joking. I was hurt by their reaction because I knew it was my truth however it didn’t fit in with everyone else so I suppressed my desires and went along with the masses.
I remember being drawn to everything and anything sparkly (I still am), pink, frilly, poofy, and princess-like. I remember one Christmas I refused to wear what I was supposed to wear because I wanted to wear my big white poofy crinoline and camisole and already wanting to wear undergarments as an outfit at age 8.
At 10 I told my parents that I wanted to be an actress and asked if they would enroll me in acting classes. My mom pooh-poohed the idea and encouraged me to find something more realistic or go to school and study for a real job. My dad’s response was even worse, one that stayed with me for years and inevitably became my belief about myself. He said that I didn’t have what it takes to be an actress; I didn’t have the right personality for it. I had to be more like my cousin Stephanie who was incredibly outgoing and a total attention seeker. Basically in a nutshell ‘you are not good enough’. I was crushed.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents are wonderful and have supported me in all my choices as an adult. I don’t blame them for anything for they were only doing what they thought was best for me not realizing that those five words affected my self esteem, my confidence and stunted my ability to accept myself for who I was.
As I grew into my teens and then twenties and now thirties I struggled with my identity and was always seeking approval from outside sources. I would take on other personalities and wished that I were something else or somebody else because I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t think I was good enough, taking on other personalities, trying to be someone else. The irony does not escape me. I am two different people. I am Michelle Miguez; massage therapist, Reiki master, chartered herbalist, hippy healing, nature loving intuitive, sister and daughter. I am Veronica Vex; burlesque sex kitten, classy broad, dancer, performer, pin-up model, artist. These are two personas that share one body. Two personas that differ in lifestyles, but share the same desire to express oneself, to love, to be free, to help and to inspire others on their life journey.
Burlesque found me during a time of chaos and turmoil. It was a time where I had no idea who I was, consumed by fear and completely disconnected from myself, from Source, God, I AM presence. I was heartbroken and had endured a severe blow to the ego. I also became very ill. I suffer from a genetic illness called cystic fibrosis. CF affects all the organs predominantly the pancreas, lungs and digestive system. I’ve lived very well and healthy with this illness my whole life until the summer of 2009. I experienced an exacerbation caused by pneumonia. I was hospitalized for two weeks and on IV antibiotics. I had two very important and challenging tasks ahead of me; heal my body and heal my heart.
I persevered and shortly after my recovery I stumbled across Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society. Thus began my giant leap into the burlesque world. I graduated from Screaming Chicken’s burlesque class in 2010. I am so grateful to Screaming Chicken for taking an insecure, timid, lost little girl and helping her blossom into a powerful, creative, confidant woman. I am grateful everyday that I have the opportunity to express myself through this amazing art form and share my talents with Vancouver and internationally. I have made the best friends I’ve ever had through burlesque and continue to be inspired by all the talented performers in Vancouver, old and new.
Burlesque allows me to create, dance, be imaginative, express myself, to laugh, to dress up, be beautiful, be sexy, be funny, be anything I desire, it is my opportunity to be larger than life. This was my dream as a child. I am finally living it.
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
Homero Aridjis's Female Angels
Sunday, January 13, 2013
My friend poet and novelist Don Homero Aridjis has consistent obsessions. He believes that Mexico city no longer has four seasons or even a rainy season or a dry season. He notes that sometimes birds fall from the sky when they breathe the city’s toxic air. He is obsessed with angels and suns and equates or finds parallels between suns and human, animal and reptile irises. Don Homero believes in spirits and in ghosts particularly when he walks the center of Mexico City where the Templo Mayor, shares ground with the Catedral Metropolitana and with more contemporary buildings. It seems one might cross with the ghost of Moctezuma or a Zapatista soldier. Without too much persuading on his part I believe all that, too.
|Homero Aridjis, Catedral Metropolitana & Templo Mayor|
In 1910 dictator president Porfirio Díaz presided in the unveiling of El Ángel de la Independencia
, officially known (very important!) as Monumento a la Independencia
, the inhabitants of Mexico City call it El Ángel. The beautiful monument is on one of the glorietas (turnarounds) of the beautiful Paseo de la Reforma. The structure faces in the direction of la Catedral Metropolitana and the Templo Mayor at the city’s centre, el Zócalo.
On July 28, 1957 I was not far from El Ángel and there was a massive earthquake. The angel came tumbling down (the great noise, nor the earthquake woke me up) and broke into several pieces. It was then that we all noted that El Ángel was a she. She had prominent breasts. The angel was soon restored and she is still called El Ángel even though we should know better as she is Winged Victory.
Buried in the monument are:
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla: Chief instigator of the Revolution and "Father of the Nation".
José María Morelos y Pavón: Skilled general and leader of the independence movement after Hidalgo's execution.
Ignacio Allende: Lieutenant general of the insurgent army and later rebel leader.
Juan Aldama: A rebel captain and conspirator.
José Mariano Jiménez: Hidalgo's lieutenant colonel.
Guadalupe Victoria: Commander of the insurgent army and first President of Mexico.
Vicente Guerrero: Insurgent general following the death of Morelos and second President of Mexico.
Nicolás Bravo: Commander of the rebel army and later President of Mexico on three occasions.
Mariano Matamoros: A priest who served as Morelos' lieutenant general.
Andrés Quintana Roo: A prominent constitutionalist.
Leona Vicario: Active supporter of the rebel movement and wife of Andrés Quintana Roo.
Francisco Javier Mina (Xavier Mina): A Spanish officer who joined the rebel cause against the absolute monarchy of Ferdinand VII.
Pedro Moreno: Insurgente
Víctor Rosales: Insurgente
I have no idea where Don Homero was living at the time or he noticed the breasts of the fallen angel. In 1995 he wrote a novel, ¿En quién piensas cuando haces el amor?
(the novel has not been issued in English but that title would read What do you think about when you make love?). It is a remarkable (one of my favourites) novel about apocalyptic times in a Mexico City of the future (some would say the novel is firmly embedded in a hell of the present) and the protagonists are a set of gnomish twins and a set of female twins (one dead) and a woman, a theatrical lighting technician called Yo Sánchez whose mind wanders when she makes love but dances the tango exquisitely even the city is shaking in its last throws of destruction.
The book has been in my mind for a couple of reasons. It was in Sanborn’s in December that I purchased the lastest Arturo Pérez-Reverte novel, El Tango de la Guadia Vieja
whose main protagonist is an on board luxury liner of the 50s taxi dancer who happens to dance the tango superbly. Pérez-Reverte’s description of his tango dancing made me want to remove the dust from my now retired tango dancing shoes but I would have to find a woman who matches Pérez-Reverte’s story or is as tall (and flat chested, a vivid description of her breasts is in Don Homero’s novel). Don Homero writing as Yo Sánchez sashays with one Baltazar in the tango club Salón Buenos Aires.
Later in a hotel, Hotel Madrid, our shy lighting woman is undressed by the gallant Baltazar and they make love. But she does not concentrate and Baltazar demands to know what she is thinking about as they make love and insists that she should be thinking about him. Yo is trying to find the spider near a spider web in the corner of the ceiling. He gets angry.
Atenazados mis brazos por sus manos impacientes, recordé que en el pasado algunas místicas encerradas en sus celdas habían pensado que fornicaban con un santo, y hasta con Dios, y de esos pensamients había nacido una criatura. También rememoré a las brujas que mediante conjuros se ayuntaban con criaturas maléficas y a veces parían monstruos. Entonces temí concebir la figura de mis pensamientos y decidí concentrarme en la imagen de un ángel. Pero de inmediato me di cuenta que no podía hacerlo, porque los ángeles no estaban sexuados. Finalmente, todos los machos, tantos los del espíritu como los de la carne, me parecieron desfloradotes, desgarradores, despanzurradotes, despeinadotes y desvalorizadotes, y no quise demorarme en ninguno, vivo, muerto, perteneciente al cine o a la ficción, arrodillado en la cama o fotografiando mujeres desnudas en un estudio pornográfico.
¿En quién piensas cuando haces el amor?
My arms were tightly held by his impatient hands and I recalled that in the past, mystics locked up in their cells thought they might have been fornicating with a saint or with God Himself, and from those thoughts a baby had been born. I also remembered those witches who through spells mated with terrible creatures and sometimes bore monsters. It was then that I feared conceiving the very figure of my thoughts so I decided to think about an angel. But I immediately I realized that I could not as angels were sexless. Finally all males, not only those in spirit but those in the flesh, seemed to me to be deflowerers, grabbers, crushers, hair disarrangers and browbeaters and I did not want to delay myself in any of them, alive, or dead, belonging to the movies or fiction, kneeling on the bed or taking photographs of naked women in a pornographic studio.
¿En quién piensas cuando haces el amor?
When I went to this passage a few hours ago I thought of Don Homero’s latest book of poetry Tiempo de ángeles – A time of angels
(English/Spanish version by George McWhirter) and his glorious female angel!
La ángela dormida