Rebecca & Lauren, Olivia & Joan
Saturday, July 06, 2013
|Lauren Stewart, 11|
Today Saturday not only did we have Hilary and her younger daughter Lauren (11) for an afternoon dinner but the older one Rebecca, 15, who against all predictions behaved most civilly. We watched a delightful film Closing the Ring
with Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine. I took them all home without any arguments or strain. It was a perfect summer’s evening.
|Rebecca Stewart, 15|
Lauren had come earlier in the day for her portrait in her Arts Umbrella costume from the end of the year program. Rebecca made her up and I took some pictures with medium format transparency film. What you see here are three Fuji Instant (3200 ISO) film.
In exchange for the tedious exercise in posing for her grandfather Lauren got her menu of choice. This was flank stake marinated all day in oil, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, pepper and brown sugar, barbecued corn on the cob, my mashed potatoes, my Hungarian style cucumber salad, and the Russian Caravan iced tea. For dessert we had assorted ice-cream and the girls had cherries.
While having dinner I told the girls (and of course Rebecca knew the facts of the warring sisters) that Lauren was Joan Fontaine and Rebecca was Olivia de Havilland.
Here they are.
Colleen Hughes - My Helga
Friday, July 05, 2013
At about the time that the
strange/wonderful/scandalous news broke about Andrew Wyeth’s artistic
relationship with Helga Testorf that even produced a Time cover in August 1986
I had my own Helga. I just did not know.
In the mid 80s I experimented taking
pictures of women attempting to disprove and shut up Vancouver Magazine editor,
Mac Parry who kept telling everybody, “Alex makes beautiful women ugly and ugly
women uglier.” I tried all types of techniques, with artificial light in a
studio and in plein air. I tested Kodak b+w Infrared Film and Kodak’s SO115 and
Technical Pan films with my 35s and all manner of medium format films with my
One of my best models was Colleen
Hughes. Without a shirt there was no way I could even compare to Hughes without
a shirt. But such was the personality of this woman who said little but looked
at me with her ambivalent smile, that I would have lost my shirt if we had played
strip poker. There was no telling what Hughes was thinking about at any given
Colleen was patient with my amateur
technique but such was her poise and her changing moods that my pictures of
her, at least 28 years old, seem to be fresh to me and I delight at looking at
them and noticing her wonderful freckles.
Twenty eight years ago the task at hand for
this photographer was to find out how quickly I could persuade my subjects to
cast off their clothing. I took pictures of them clothed or semi clothed almost
blindly as I awaited the moment when I would see all. It is only now that I
appreciate those preliminary shots that I took in perfunctory action. I was an
It was exactly today that I came to realize
well of what I write above. It came about because Hughes contacted me from her
present home in Edmonton:
hoping all is well for you & yours. I was looking through some of my
old...o.k. very old contact sheets, and came across a few that of course I
loved. My question to you is, would it be alright if you sent me a few photos
of the Lighthouse
Park photos of me on the
rocks with me wearing a long white cotton shirt dress?
As I scanned the pictures to send to Hughes
I was delighted to note quite a few treasures, not only from the Lighthouse Park session but a previous one at her
home. Here they are. And had I only known I would have taken many more pictures
of my Helga.
Recipes For Memories That Linger In The Heart
Thursday, July 04, 2013
My father George
was a journalist, a gambler, he was friends of hoods, he was a superb tango dancer but best of all he was a good cook. He told me only once, “Alexander if you want to learn you must know how to make sauces.” He never wrote down any of his recipes but I do know that he would score squeezed lemons and drop them into his iced tea (we had an ice box) the night before. To this day that is the secret of my iced tea
My mother, who taught physics and chemistry and spent most of her hard-earned money on my education which I just about squandered, did not know how to cook. When I complained that I did not want to eat her fried eggs because she had broken the yolks she told me to fry them myself.
I do remember that she did learn to make scrambled eggs a la Playboy. I had read in a Playboy that the secret to good scrambled eggs was to add butter at the end. She really could not cook and because we lived in Latin American countries we always had a live-in cook.
By 1964 when she was living in Veracruz, Mexico
she started using her 1953 edition of The Joy of Cooking
and following the recipes by the letter she made the best lemon meringue pies I have ever had in my life.
It was in 1968 when a couple of cook books, Recipes for Two
from my mother and The Len Deigh
a gift from my friend Raúl Guerrero Montemayor
. These books were gifts as Rosemary and I were married that year. They have been a constant reference since. A third book, The Southern Cookbook
my mother brought from North Carolina in 1971 when she came to live with us (Rosemary and our two daughters, Alexandra and Hilary). It was from that book that she cooked Adalyn Lindley’s Chicken a La Barbara
. We were delighted and with a big smile my mother told us, most proudly, “I have learned to cook well so that you, Alex, won’t make fun of me anymore.”
Some months back when looking for recipes for peach cobbler and rice pudding my granddaughter told me to forget recipe books, “The best are on the internet.” I could not explain the pleasure of opening a recipe book with yellowing pages, full of food stains and how memories of the original owners became magic in my nostalgic imagination. A brand new recipe book, unlike perhaps an Encyclopedia Britannica, becomes better with time like a good wine.
I am sure that my granddaughter will eventually come back to her grandfather’s way of thinking. She is a pretty good baker. Her pie crust is just as good as my mother’s and she can bake bread too. She learned how to bake bread at a weekend course a couple of years ago at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks on 1740 West 2nd Avenue.
I find it hard to believe that with eating out and all those cooking shows on TV that people do not have the gumption that my mother had. And that is to go to a good cook book store (naturally Barbara Jo’s) and secure a book that someday, with other cook books will linger not only in our taste buds but also in our memory.
Recently I received a lovely communication from Barbara -Jo's Books to Cooks. I was struck in the gut (most nicely) by this:
After a while, your best loved cookbooks develop a certain patina. Like a love note pressed between the pages of another time, they bear the happy scars of distant celebrations. A spilled dash of flower from a long lost Thanksgiving, the handwritten reminder that your old Valentine has an allergy.
I was compelled to write this blog because of Barbara-Jo's Mission (ary) Statement I have come to realize the importance of a cook book. Her statement is below:
Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks: Mission Statement
Our Mission(ary) Statement:
Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks began with the idea that cookbooks deserve a place all their own. A place where everyone from home cooks to international members of the culinary community could gather to celebrate the pleasures of the table. For 16 years, we’ve been a proud supporter of cookbooks and – more importantly - the people who continue to love them.
We believe in the tangible delight of turning a page. Just as we believe that a collection of recipes or a cooking class is a gift that deserves to be properly savoured. We believe that speed and efficiency can happily co-exist with a deeply felt sense of tradition. Most of all, we believe in the enduring power of the cookbook.
After a while, your best-loved cookbooks develop a certain patina. Like a love note pressed between the pages of another time, they bear the happy scars of distant celebrations. A spilled dash of flour from a long lost Thanksgiving, the handwritten reminder that your old Valentine has an allergy. A worthy cookbook has worked hard to earn a lasting place in your life. And, at Barbara-Jo’s, we like to think we have as well.
We’ve seen many changes over the years. Among them, a world where the lure of instant communication is constantly threatening to overshadow the power of true connection. Now, more than ever, we feel that making personal service a priority is the best way to do business.
We enjoy talking to our customers and getting to know them. Over the years, many of them have become friends and we’ve come to value their support beyond words. Together, we have made a pact to share our lives through the mutual love of books and food.
All of this takes time. And it has not been an easy journey. But every day is touched with a kind of magic. Here, we are surrounded by the cherished weight of ideas. The endless possibilities of a good book opened to thoughts of family, friends and the joys of celebration.
What have we learned? That an open cookbook demands an open heart. And an open heart is the best recipe of all.
Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks
1740 West 2nd Avenue Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6J 1H6
Telephone 604-688-6755 Fax 604-688-6759
Sundays and Mondays 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesdays to Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Copyright © 2013 Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks, All rights reserved.
If You Forget What You Read I'll Remember The Word
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
I have a teenage granddaughter who is able to find an interesting young man on facebook, make friends, and have a remote affair without meeting him. And then after an intense activity, perhaps a few weeks, of texting she will get bored, or he will, and the dumping will occur with a couple of thumbs surgically acting like a sharpened guillotine.
This sort of activity and with the addition of comments in social media will mean that should a student, my granddaughter as an example, want to change schools and make new friends, her reputation will follow and be made instantly available on line. What a young teenager writes into facebook becomes a file cabinet of information that will be part her life for as long as that cabinet is maintained.
These days I have been ruminating Art Bergmann’s wonderful melodic song Yellow Pages. Like his Hospital Song or Our Little Secret, lovely songs, too, it becomes horrific when you notice the lyrics, Yellow Pages is about a world, before social media, but where one’s reputation could suffer still from someone’s whim.
I have friends I first met when I was in my teens. We visit still. And yet now friends are made and lost with the frequency of young blonde singers that become famous and then disappear into oblivion.
There is that line in Yellow Pages that is so apt for our times.
When I see you again
We'll act like friends
And carry on
With the social pretence.
Bergmann’s lyrics are worth reading and happily I can report that this site
has them all! But it was not working very well tonight. It did open once and I was able to download Yellow Pages:
Album: Vultura Freeway + Poisoned EP
I used to work with someone
Me and Billy always got the job done
I thought this would last for years
The start of a promising career
All this was ruined at an early age
By distortion on the public page
Cuz I met this guy at a party one night
Don't know what I said
Didn't know he could write
He said "I've got some dirt on you"
All he wanted from me was the facts
The next day I read we were through
You know it said I stuck a knife in your back
I'll forget what you said
If you forget what I heard
If you forget what you read
I'll remember the word
I used to go with a girl
We're gonna go around the world
She said love
You know the one
Forever gonna be so much fun
I should have known this could never last
Now she's just a photograph
Cuz I met this chick at a party one night
Don't know what I said
Didn't know she could write
She said "I've got some dirt on you"
All she wanted was the facts
Next day I read we were through
Read that we were through
You know it said I stuck a knife in your back
Sticking knives in our backs
When I see you again
We'll act like friends
And carry on
With the social pretence
I want you
But all we see
Are the jaundiced little notes
Of the blind
Can you hear me
Through the din
And hope that nothing's lost in the translation
Every town's got a whore
And think they've got a saint
And if the two should ever meet
Who's gonna lodge the complaint
Art Bergmann & Viper Juice At The Wise Hall
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
|From left, Tony Bardach, Randy Rampage, Art Bergmann and centre bottom Zippy Pinhead|
Everybody who knows me, will know I am an absolute fan of Art Bergmann, the man, his music, his lyrics, his guitar playing and anything else not included in the above.
So after his concert this Canada Day Monday at the Wise Hall I received a few phone calls of protest from people citing articles about the concert that denigrated his artistic talents.
I would not even bother to mention the publications involved as most now routinely do interviews of city folk by phone or worse, by email. And in publications like the Vancouver Sun if writer John Mackie would stand up and randomly squeeze both triggers of a double-barreled shotgun he would not hit one single human being.
Nobody in this 21st century of whose mantra is, “The best price is free,” or “Good enough is good enough,” could possibly survive in this city as a rock critic. So I would take whatever such a rock critic said or wrote with an extremely teeny-weeny grain of salt. A rock critic in this city could not possibly make or break any musician, bad or good.
I am not writing the above alluding that indeed with handsome payment I would be a good music critic. That is not possible.
I write the above because if have had contact and indeed worked with very good rock critics. One of them was Les Wiseman whose In One Ear
column in Vancouver Magazine
was awaited monthly by a young man who now is in charge of rock music at a popular Vancouver weekly. Wiseman was uncommonly good. He almost was assigned work by Rolling Stone
(but did contribute to the legendary Trouser Press
) but suffered the indignity of having seen the folks in New York when the best Canada had to offer was Red Rider. In fact Esquire editor Adam Moss (now editor of New York Magazine
) told Wiseman, “I like your writing. Pity all you have to offer is Joe Clark.”
The other rock critics (not in reality just that) as they were arts critics were Globe & Mail
writer Christopher Dafoe and free-lance Globe & Mail
writer John Lekich. The excellence of all three blasts into a supernova with comparison to anybody who may be writing about what they wrote in our contemporary Vancouver media. Another great rock writer, Lenny Kaye even contributed to this model blog here
It seems that the music critic in question was critical of Bergmann’s supposed drunkenness while admitting that he himself was under the influence.
Since I happened to have been back stage for most of the show and hours before I can attest to a few things that might clear the air.
For one, this last week, Kevin Lucks (the band’s bass player and organizational genius who managed to get people to show up for practice six times) found a temporary fix for Bergmann’s severe arthritis, curvature of the spine and everything else that has the man in chronic pain. This elixir is viper juice (the real snake oil!) which energized Bergmann so unlike his last appearance in 2009 when he was unable to even pick up his guitar. This time he played it from beginning to end.
Before the concert, Bergmann and company had slices at a pizza joint. Back stage they had a huge tub of iced water bottles. I did not see Bergmann open any of the beer but he did want as soon as the concert began a can of cider. I know because I was standing (and you may have seen me in my poor choice of a white T-shirt of the Odds.) behind Adam Drake the drummer when Bergmann asked for the cider.
Backstage Bergmann and Stephen Drake (who played fantastic guitar ) conspired with glee to make an issue of tuning their guitars at length. If you had seen Drake’s fine sneer you could understand that this pair was on the same wave length. And indeed they made the issue of getting the right G something very funny only if you understood the mind of the man.
Anybody who has been to an Art Bergmann concert, and I am one of those, will explain that throwing stuff, breaking microphones (as far as I know he never broke a guitar on purpose) will know that his persona is just that. Drunk or sober, on stage he will always seem drunk. In normal talk, the very shy Bergmann talks with an almost-American-from-the-South slow drawl as if he were on constant downers. This is not the case. He talks like that. In a short chat I had with another virtuoso Vancouver guitarist, Colin Griffiths, he made the comment that Bergmann was uncommonly introspective now.
The duo of Kevin Lucks and Stephen Drake (with the help of his solidly solid drummer Adam) gave Bergmann and opportunity (which Bergmann immediately understood was an offer he could not refuse) to perform when the original plan to come to Vancouver with his wife Sheri was to visit her ailing father.
I had chats (on the phone) with Stephen Drake who said that he was able to play his guitar like Bergmann and that Bergmann had noticed that. Then Drake told me something that floored me.
It went something like this, “Art tries to hide all the theoretical stuff he knows about chords and notes. He tries to make us all think it is purely intuitive. This is not the case. He understands it all deeply and we were able to communicate musically.”
What this means, from my vantage point is that every movement, every chord, every note, every lyric, every gesture, every indication of apparent drunkenness (it was once true), his violence, it is all planned or preconceived if I may insist on clarity here.
There must be a clear idea in Bergmann’s head as how things should sound and play out. Few have ever risen to that task. With minimal fuss and his original three piece band, The Young Canadians
, of Jim Bescott on bass and Barry Taylor on drums was perhaps the most perfect and close knit band I ever heard. But with time things get complicated and suffer.
Monday night’s concert was none of that. Four very good musicians who have been playing for many years got together for two weeks. They played in rehearsal exactly six times. One of the players, Kevin Lucks told me, you won’t hear too much backup singing as we had little time to learn them.
Monday’s concert was one of sheer brilliance (from my amateur point of view). And specifically as I listened to most of it from very near and behind drummer Adam Drake on the side of backstage I had his precision drumming for the beat and I could hear both guitars and the bass loud and clear.
Of all the songs they played that night two stand out for me. I have always loved the whimsical lightness (until you really read the lyrics) of the Hospital Song.
The version I heard was the best I have ever heard. Another favourite is Remember her Name
. Because of Bergmann displaying some histrionics on the latter, it had one long and very wonderful beginning with bass and drums. It was a killer.
There are at least two thoughts I came out of after the concert. One was that the audience and Bergmann’s band have pumped him up with enthusiasm to come back and play at a larger venue. The other is that at 60 Bergmann has more brilliance to show us. I hope I am around to see and hear it.
And rock writers should realize that lucidity and listening to the music is paramount to good criticism. After all in spite of the snakes and blood good critics did note Alice Cooper’s brilliance.
Since I have yet to process all the film I shot during the concert (I still shoot film) a Fuji Instant snap that I took of the day before on Elliott Street will have to do.
Ophelia La Séduisante
Monday, July 01, 2013
|Rosa 'Ophelia' |
I have very few things in common with Bard on the Beach Artistic Director Christopher Gaze
. Obviously he is the better man. But we do share two loves (not including our two very lovely and patient wives). One is that we both have a copy of Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare – The Invention of the Human
on our bedside table.
The other is a shared passion, an admiration and appreciation of beautiful women. I hope that what I will write below will not besmirch Mr. Gaze’s impeccable reputation. If anything I will be the one that will be suspect.
Let’s get the matter of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
out of the way right now. The opening of this play on Saturday in which both my wife Rosemary and I were in attendance was a striking success re my wife. She does not like much. Of late, and only lately, after 46 years of marriage I have found out she doesn’t like parmesan cheese, scrambled eggs, my wonderful French cheese omelet, cucumbers, egg plant, and the list could go on forever. She will not watch films that have too much violence, over the top sex and or undue swearing. In the next few weeks I plan to surprise her with a DVD viewing of Hysteria.
But she loved Hamlet. A few years ago we saw a production of Sartre’s No Exit
courtesy of the Electric Theatre Company. She loved it, I was surprised and I am now to believe that neither Jonathan Young nor Kim Collier can do wrong.
Can you imagine if those purveyors of Shakespeare costume dramas were to hire out one of the Bard’s plays to the Electric Theatre Company? You do not have to imagine that. The reality is this year’s impossible-to-miss Bard on the Beach Hamlet in which Kim Collier directs her husband in Hamlet. My only comment is that somehow, and I am sure, this wonderful combination came courtesy of the vision of Christopher Gaze and his aide de camp Dean Paul Gibson.
I could impress readers here with my knowledge of the facts, via Harold Bloom that Shakespeare had a son called Hamlet (to be correct Hamnet which was the name in the English version of the Danish story). I could tell you that Shakespeare had a fondness for playing old men and that one of his roles was that of Hamlet’s father, Hamlet the ghost. Bloom writes much about this striking fact. Can you imagine what Shakespeare, in a time when there were few women playing female roles in his plays, would make of a woman directing her husband in Hamlet? Best you read Bloom's book yourself.
Kim Collier’s Hamlet, complete with panoply of devices designed in California, had both Rosemary and I riveted to our seats. In the past I might have criticized Young’s absolute mastery of diction (it distracts sometimes) but here it is perfect. Even if I were not familiar with the story, understanding this Hamlet was a piece of cake. Not only that Jonathan Young’s Hamlet looked exactly like my vision of Shakespeare Prince of Denmark, an intellectual nerd ( I did not spot a pen set on Young’s front pocket) who could not get himself out of a knife fight if he tried. Thankfully he had lessons when he disappeared in England and he almost mastered the use of a Smith & Wesson.
All of the cast are just right and I particularly liked Allan Zinyk in sun glasses. He could get a job with the American Secret Service. A standout for me besides Zinyk and Ophelia’s father Polonius played by the always funny (even when serious) Richard Newman is Bill Dow. In Twelfth Night
he almost competes with Jonathon Young (Feste) as Toby Belch and in Hamlet he is Claudius, Hamlet’s usurping uncle. Be aware, Mr. Gaze that Bill Dow is a very good director. It was in this
version of Glengary Glen Ross that I became a real fan of the man.
Here I must diverge into my fascination for Rachel Cairns as Ophelia who was Viola in Dennis Garnhum’s Twelfth Night that I saw a few days before.
I am in dangerous territory. If I were a youngish 30-year-old man my comments here would be seen as normal. But knowing that this blogger is a most mature 70-year old (a viejo verde in my native language) puts me in a questionable position. But Mr. Gaze would probably agree that our admiration for beauty and talent supersedes false or “improper impropriety”.
|Rosa 'Maiden's Blush' |
Cairns’s Viola was almost perfect (an alto’s voice might have helped a bit). Her body language in the way she reacted to manly embraces around her chest was just right. Her expression of repulsion to Jennifer Lines’s advances was real. And that Cairns is tall added to convincing me that in some parallel universe (very far from mine, I hope) she could be a man.
There was an added bonus to all the above (Twelfth Night). We were warned to expect some male rear end nudity and the possible appearance of woman’s bare back. This warning had me salivating as men my age are wont to do. My granddaughter Rebecca (about to be 16 and an expert on all things body/sexual) whispered in my ear from our vantage point seats on Stage left, “That’s a very nice glimpse of side breast.” Cairn's towel in the Turkish bath scene with the boys did not hide everything.
In Hamlet Cairns plays the sensitive and then fractured-falling-apart woman who cannot cope with another’s death or abject rejection from the man she loves. I preferred her to Kate Winslet in Branagh’s Hamlet. I thought that I wanted to see more character development but Collier had the difficult task of having to shorten a very long play. So I had to imagine a bit more. Or, if I can correct here, there was little left to imagine in Nancy Bryant’s (Costume Designer) choice of underwear that Cairns wears in the beginning.
I must end all this before I get myself into trouble. There are 8 bodies when Hamlet finishes. I will add two more and then add one Lazarus.
Body Number One:
It was on Saturday that I found out that my friend Bill Richardson is history at the CBC.
Body Number Two: My beautiful (one of the few hybrid teas in my garden) Rosa
‘Ophelia’ did not emerge this year. She is dead.
‘Maiden’s Blush’ which has struggled in deep shade and diseased with Botrytis cinerea somehow survived and is almost thriving. Why am I citing this rose? Maiden’s Blush is called by other names, Cuisse de Nymphe, Incarnata, La Virginale and La Séduisante. She could easily be named Rachel Cairns, too.
That Chandler Blonde
Sunday, June 30, 2013
“The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye