Saturday, August 03, 2013
|Raúl Guerrero Montemayor|
I am a creature that is a product of the mid 20th century. I can tell you about ice boxes, Henry Js, and I personally watched Eva Perón plant a tree near my school. I remember that a Turnpike Cruiser was a Mercury and when Raleighs like Model T’s came in one colour, black.
When I hear an airplane I look up into the sky and I could bore you with the delights of Pan Am gum-chewing stewardesses on board Lockheed Super-Constellations.
I still shoot cameras loaded with film and I can instantly describe to you the smell of fixer and the wonder of seeing a blank sheet of photographic paper, its latent image, slowly transform itself into a picture in what is still magic to me.
I cannot explain to you how a laser somehow reads a round sheet of pressed plastic and sends the sounds of Gerry Mulligan playing My Funny Valentine into my ears from that end of my living room to this end of it where I write on a keyboard that shows my tappings on a cathode ray tube monitor. In fact my Sony Trinitron is also a cathode ray tube device. The CRT and the laser in my CD player are both part of a fading 20th century that is sharp in my mind because I was born in 1942. It’s anybody’s guess which will go first my CRT monitor or me.
At this time phones and cars that are computers when my iPhone 3G is only a phone to me and as I advance the film in my Pentaxes, Nikons and Mamiyas I am mocked, ever so gently by four friends. They have phones that are computers and they treat them as such. Two live in Texas and two here in the Lower Mainland. The two in Texas can comprehend and even suggest ever so slight improvements to one of my Lower Mainland friend’s, Ian Bateson's project which is the electronic book, My Mother’s Red Shawl. These two in Texas are St. Ed’s High School alumni, Mike O’Connell and Howard Houston. North Vancouver resident Ian Bateson has designed my E-Book. It is a brilliant concept of which, its full capability I have yet to understand. You see I can explain how that compressor on the top of our new electric ice box would make the inside cold but I am unable to comprehend this book that has no paper (but I am told that it can). My other friend, Richmond resident Paul Leisz knows how to navigate Bateson’s magnum opus with ease but is too un-Texan to suggest and improvement.
|Mike O' Connell, Alex, Brother Edwin Reggio C.S.C.|
Howard Houston & John Arnold November 2010
Not that an improvement is in any way needed. Until I can understand better what this new creature, My Mother’s Red Shawl, truly is, I can at the very least point you in its direction. If you never had an ice box or remember the exact shade of blue of all Henry Js then you might, much more quickly see the excellence in My Mother's Red Shawl.
Eventually, before my CRT monitor gives out I, too will see the light.
Guaranteed Rugged - Lillooet
Friday, August 02, 2013
Tuesday and Wednesday Rosemary and I spent it with our eldest daughter Ale (Alexandra) in Lillooet. It was not as hot as we expected it to be. Thirty degrees was just fine for me. It is one of the most exquisite pleasures in life to sleep on a sheet with nothing on.
|Ale, Lloyd McNary & Rosemary|
I cooked except for breakfast on Wednesday morning. We had Thai Ketchup barbecued chicken wings and fresh corn (also on the barbecue) on Tuesday evening. Ale did not much like my bottle of sweet moscato that I purchased in Bellingham last week. Since I consumed most of the low in alcohol bottle I had a very pleasant evening. We watched The Jane Austen Book Club. I have a thing for Emily Blunt and I rather like Hugh Dancy who is charming and sort of makes me almost forget what his namesake, Hugh Grant did in a car with a prostitute in LA. And besides even my Rosemary who does not like much thought he (Hugh Dancy) was terrific in Hysteria.
Ten minutes into Hysteria I asked Rosemary if she liked the film. She nodded yes with a smile and it was only then that I revealed that Hysteria was about the invention of the personal and electric female vibrator. We had seen Melancholia the day before. Having managed to see those two films with Rosemary I left the Virgin Suicides (or Repulsion) for another day.
|Ale & her potato fork|
Before we arrived to Lillooet in our fantastic Malibu, we noticed a new sign that says Guaranteed Rugged – Lillooet.
Ale’s 84-year-old friend Lloyd McNary who has suffered all kinds of heart attacks (“I am at the end of the road,” he told us) came for Wednesday night supper. We had flank steak, small potatoes done in the oven with a bit of oil and parmesan cheese, and fresh sliced tomatoes and corn, of course. For drink I made my iced tea with Russian Caravan tea. Dessert consisted of very good Manila mangoes (Rosemary knows how to buy them) and we taught Lloyd to eat them Filipino style.
Lloyd told us he could not abide living in a home for old men and has moved back to his ranch in Texas Creek. He is being helped by a woman whom Lloyd has told us is a terrific worker. She cleans but I am sure that Lloyd still does the cooking. Like Lillooet, he is guaranteed rugged.
The two days went smoothly. We helped Ale in the garden and I weed eated (not weed ate!) part of her almost one acre property.
I particularly enjoyed a time free of electronic devices in which the only silence of the country was the frequent crowing of a neighbour’s rooster and of the many diesel-engine trucks that seemed to idle nearby at all hours of the night.
We drove back to Vancouver quite refreshed and almost felt cold when we arrived to the mid 20s Celsius city.
I think that my Fuji Instant FP-100C snaps pretty well capture the low-key fun of our two day stay with Ale. I am excited at some pictures I took with much sharper film in which I pose with Ale for a self portrait. These will have to wait to be processed as I shot them with Fuji Superia 1600 IS0 colour negative film.
The Only Ghost I Ever Saw
Thursday, August 01, 2013
The only ghost I ever
The only ghost I ever
Was dressed in mechlin, --so;
He wore no sandal on
And stepped like
flakes of snow.
His gait was
soundless, like the bird,
But rapid, like the
His fashions quaint,
Or, haply, mistletoe.
His laughter like the
That dies away in
Among the pensive
Our interview was
Of me, himself was
And God forbid I look
Since that appalling
That Whiter Ghost
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
One need not be a
chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a
The brain has
Far safer, of a
Than an interior
That whiter host.
Far safer through an
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one's
own self encounter
In lonesome place.
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our
Be horror's least.
The prudent carries a
He bolts the door,
O'erlooking a superior
Postcard From The White Hotel
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Postcards from the White Hotel
The White Hotel
A Japanese Maid:
Wonder to relate, my lovers (the moon couple) up at dawn's crack and out on a boat. It means I and my friend must make their bed all day, their bed is undescribable. I no time to write even haiku.
Belinda Carr & Rip Georges All Over Again
Monday, July 29, 2013
The blog below ran here
In the last year I have been very excited at the technique of using Fuji b+w and colour instant film with my Mamiya RB-67. I thought I was into something new. But looking back at these pictures I find that there is indeed nothing new. Except of course that when I used the Polaroid Type 50 b+w instant negative film (you had to process the negative in a bucket with sodium sulphite) there weren't any scanners like my Epson V700Photo available to consumers or someone like Grant Simmons to make high quality giclées. Giclées (art speak for well printed inkjets) had not been invented yet!
In the late 80s Malcolm Parry, editor of Vancouver Magazine
used to tell me, “The magazine downstairs (both magazines were in one building on Davie at Richards, a Blenz now), Western Living
is about photographs of bathrooms devoid of people.” And then with a gleeful grin he would stand up and drop large piles of book or magazine and books on the floor and say, “Chris Dahl’s office is downstairs; let’s shake him up a bit.” Chris Dahl had been art director of Vancouver Magazine
until then both he and Mac had won that prestigious National Magazine Award
for Vancouver Magazine.
Perhaps Mac had been miffed to have been abandoned by Dahl who moved downstairs.
(who had art directed Vancouver Magazine
for many years before Dahl arrived from Toronto fresh from big city experience with Maclean’s
) was hired back. Mac then decided that Vancouver Magazine needed a re-design so he hired a then highfalutin art director (and still highfalutin) Rip Georges to do some consulting in the re-design. Georges’claim to fame was that he had been the art director of the snazzy LA Style
and had moved from there to the highly regarded Washington DC magazine Regardie’s.
And before he had managed to warm up his seat in DC he had moved on to the more prestigious Esquire
Mac and Rick felt that there were only two photographers, from their stable of freelancers in Vancouver that they were proud enough (or perhaps not ashamed of) to introduce to the visiting Georges. They were fashion photographer Chris Haylett and me. The big day came and to our disdainful surprise we found out that Georges had recommended that Vancouver Magazine
(at the time there were next to no newsstand sales of the magazine as it was delivered to the “correct” homes) run big pictures on the cover with next to no copy to give readers and indication of what might be inside. He further recommended a Time Magazine thing called an ear on the upper right hand corned of the cover that would proclaim some special feature to be found inside. That was it! I remember Haylett looking at me and saying, “They have paid this guy all this money to be told what we would have told them for free!”
While I don’t remember having been rude, Mac was livid with us telling us we had treated the man ungraciously. I distinctly remember Mac looking at me and telling me, “You were rude.”
A few years later the folks at the Exposure Gallery on Beatty Street paid that rude dynamic duo, Haylett and me to give a figure photography seminar. This may have been the mid 90s and it was tough to find models that would undrape fully for the camera. I found a lovely one called Belinda Carr. I took three pictures of her in the presence of all those who had paid good money to see us work. I used Polaroid b+w instant negative and projected a Rosco cityscape gobo on the wall. After my pictures Haylett disappeared with Carr to another room. He said he wanted to tell her something. Even then Haylett had that pleasant way with women. They returned and he placed a large mirror on one side of the room. He pointed a quartz light on it and had the mirror reflect the warmish quartz light back to Carr who was leaning against the wall. It was then that Haylett told us, “This is how they achieve that late sundown light back in Hollywood.”
We all wowed and ohmygoshed.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
While I feel very American in many ways there is one element of American tradition that I do not understand all that well. This is the concept of the blues as music.
| Hydgrangea macrophylla 'Blaumeise' Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lanarth White' |
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blue Wave'
July 28, 2013
The blues entered my life when I was 16. Even though I was, at best a lackluster alto saxophone player (I did get a lovely soft sound out of it) Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. who was our school band leader at St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas asked me to be in the smaller jazz band. I learned to play Basin Street Blues. Because we played this during the football season, in late fall when it was very hot in Austin, I have always associated the blues with summer, damp heat.
|Hydrangea serrata 'Acuminata' &|
July 28, 2013
While I might enjoy our local Jim Byrnes sing his brand of blues in the summer I would feel alienated from his music in the deep of winter. It would be no different from listening to Vaughan Williams “Symphonia Antarctica” (Symphony Number 7). But the latter which is as cold and depressing as music can be can, would be a respite from the heat on a hot summer’s day.
It was when I was 16 when I bought my first jazz album (which I still have and is quite playable and which must have been used as on it says Dennis Bogue, De Paul Dorm, St. Edward’s High) The Magic Flute of Herbie Mann. In this album I heard my first not Dixie Land or Louis Armstrong, version of St. Louis Blues. Playing are Herbie Mann on alto flute, Jimmy Rowles, piano, Buddy Clarke, bass and Mel Lewis, drums. Mann’s first Verve album of which this one was is now seen as an early cool jazz. Somehow the blues as hot stuff from the Deep South passed my by.
Interesting, too is that this album has a very early version of Bossa Nova, Baia arranged by guitarist Laurindo Almeida who plays along with Tony Rizzi, also on guitar, Milt Holland on drums , Tony Reyes, bass, and Frank “Chico” Guerrero on percussion.
My next album (I never did buy Elvis or any rock of any kind since I was a late 50s version of an uncool nerd) was Time Out with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. I could not get enough of this jazz until I discovered Miles Davis. I liked the idea of a muted horn close to a microphone as opposed to open trumpets like Armstrong or Harry James. I liked cool. I did not really like the blues. My first Miles Davis Album, Kind of Blue I bought in 1959 and a couple of years later Miles Davis Live at Carnegie Hall.
I have never been able to escape my liking for a more restrained, cool type of jazz. While I now enjoy classic Argentine Tango I was first attracted to Piazzolla’s brand. To this day Piazzolla’s music transports me nostalgically to frigid and damp Buenos Aires winters.
|Gentiana asclepiadea, July 28, 2013|
But the blues, and in particular All Blues in Davis’s Kind of Blue, and Solea (solitude) in his Sketches of Spain I associate with the depressing goodbye to a girlfriend at the dock in Buenos Aires as she shoved off for London. I went home and immediately listened to Davis, not to cheer me up, but to take me into a deep melancholy that somehow made my loss bearable.
|Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Bird' , Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha' |
Gentiana asclepidea & Hydrangea serrata 'Acuminata'
July 28, 2013
The paradox is that whenever I listen to any of my jazz records, tapes and CDs I feel mostly blue. I feel sad because so many of those performers are dead and the friends I would have listened to the music with. A counter paradox is that of late, since I listen to this music alone I almost feel like I am hearing the music for the first time. There is a thrill that can only happen when one falls in love for the first time or discovers Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd playing Desafinado (and Baia) as I did in 1962.
My Rosemary’s concept of the blues is specifically about the colour. Until most recently she did not allow hot colours (red, orange, pink and yellows) in our garden. She wanted a garden that had strictly blue or white colours.
I have a theory about this. I believe that the further you move north from the equator, or south the less inclined you will be to like hot and warm colours. The Swedes, the Brits, and the New Englanders like sober colours. These grays, blues, silvers, blacks and whites are seen as sophisticated. I like the Spanish word sobrio. While a person who is not drunk is sobrio, it also has a strong additional meaning of low-key liking for stuff that does not stand out.
I remember teaching English to some marketing executives at Palmolive in Mexico City. They were complaining that their product Ultra-Brite (which in 1973 had real excitingly cool-in-the-mouth ether) was not selling as well as Procter & Gamble’s Crest. I performed an experiment on the blackboard with colour chalk. On one end I made streaks of dark blue, light blue, white and black. On the other I drew with pink, orange and red. I asked the executives what colours they liked more. They chose the hot colours which were the colours of Crest while the ones they disdained were of their own more sophisticated in northern regions (certainly not Mexico) toothpaste.
|Last year's Summer Blues|
With globalization this theory of mine is blurring. Vancouver streets are almost as loud in colour with cars that rival those of and Mexico City.
My compatriots, men in particular, in Buenos Aires now wear loud colours when at one time they would have dressed in gray flannels, blue sport coats, and blue shirts with subdued ties and brown penny loafers.
In our July garden the roses are resting before they come back in earnest later on. The hydrangeas, mostly blue are in control of colour. Many of the species hydrangeas like Hydrangea sargentiana are not really blue but a slightly hotter deep purple.
My favourite blue flowers in the garden are those of the very easy to grow Gentiana asclepiadea. Soon Rosemary’s own favourite blue flowered Aconitums will be out. Both Rosemary and I know that their blue is not only cool and sophisticated but deadly, too.
Thinking about my neutrality towards the American Blues, I may disdain them simply because I hold no nostalgia for them. They were no part of my youth and Austin at the St. Edward’s Hilltop was as far removed from the idea of the Mississippi River, Memphis and New Orleans.
One Christmas Eve in 1966, the Argentine Merchant Marine ship, Rio Aguapey had docked in New Orleans. I walked through almost empty Bourbon Street. I entered a strip parlour (I had never been in one) and watched a robotic stripper, as cold as the Mississippi River must be in December while sipping a bourbon. I did not like my bourbon or the stripper. I went back to my ship and alone and far away from my family I turned on my little record player and played Miles Davis’s All Blues.
We Latins opt for sad nostalgia as much as Brazilians have their saudade. We might not understand depression but it certainly is better than the blues.