Randy Rampage - 55 - February 21 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Today, February 21 is Randy Rampage’s
birthday. He was born
55 years ago at St. Paul’s Hospital.
The first time I saw him, up in the air, legs wide open,
bass guitar in his arms I saw a wonderfully scary and angry man who was one of
a few very good reasons why I would want to go to a D.O.A concert. I could have
never ever guessed at the time that a friendship would grow between us and that
it did not take long to find out that Rampage was not scary, not angry but a
gentle and kind human being.
And so there I was tonight at his party enjoying SusanneTabata’s
cooking, a fine fireplace and a friendly crowd of people with
interesting things to say.
goes to a lab for a blood test. In the waiting
room there is a tall burly man (“He must work out,” Zippy said). He stares at
me. I may have seen him five or six times. He could not place me but somehow he
recognized my face.” When I left I said to the man, “Goodbye Bruce
Ferris Jak, the man with the pork pie hat in the group
picture looked awfully familiar to me.
Sometime in the 80s I photographed the
punk group Dayglo Abortions (formerly the Sick Fucks) in my Hamilton Street
studio using black lighting. It seems Jak was their manager.
One of the women at the party, Renee Tabata, beautifully
dressed in a low cut blouse and legs arrayed in fishnets, had photographed nude
men for many years. Since I did this for a while in the late 70s we compared
With Rampage, we shared our preference for the Rolling
Stones over the Beatles. We discussed Robert Frank’s seminal 1972 documentary Cocksucker
With the appropriately-named virtuoso guitarist Duane Chaos
we exchanged notes on our friends who owned strip parlours in the 80s.
, only a few months older than I am (he is 73 I
am 72) was hustling me about two fabulous bands he is promoting. He was
wondering if either of them were blog material.
On my part I told my Zippy
story. Many years ago I was with
him at a Western Music Award ceremony at the Bayshore Hotel. We were indulging
in some punch when a beautiful woman came up to us. She noticed Zippy’s filthy
hands and said, “Your hands are filthy.” Zippy explained, “I fix cars in a
shop. I put my hands into car engines. This is grease.” She then said, “What is
your phone number?”
When I left, I left feeling a nice glow (I did not drink)
of satisfaction that indeed while I am an old man I can enjoy an evening of
guilt-free time with old friends.
Talking Stick Festival - And The Tree Of Life
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Talking Stick Festival
Feb 17- Mar1, 2015
When I met my Canadian wife to be Rosemary Healey in Mexico
City in 1967 she told me that in all her time in New Dublin, Ontario and even
when she went to Queens she had never noticed any “Indians”. In fact, she
further informed me the Canadian totem pole in Chapultepec Park was the first
time she had ever seen such a thing.
When we came to Vancouver in 1975 I was astounded to see
what I thought were Mexicans in the streets of Vancouver. Such was the level of
bad information in those years of my youth that I truly thought the Japanese
were yellow and the North American Indians were red. It was in 1975 that I
learned that native Canadians looked very much like the natives of my Argentine
homeland and of Mexico. I was perplexed that the Canadian Natives I attempted
to talk to did not speak any Spanish.
In my first job working at Tilden Rent-A-Car then on Alberni
and Thurlow I was told not to rent cars to anybody with the surname of John or
George. I soon found out what they meant. A man called Moving Rock came to rent
a station wagon. I gave him one on the spot and almost lost my job! In my years
as a still photographer at the CBC the only Native Canadian I ever noticed was
the one who was part of the cast of the Beachcombers.
Now in 2015 I feel that I know a bit more about the original
inhabitants of my adopted country. But for me, living in the city, driving on
Marine Drive through the Musqueam Nation, on my way to a UBC concert at the
Chan, Native Canadians are almost invisible. I rarely find information in our
local media. In fact my Vancouver Sun seems to have no information on this
February 17 to March 1 Talking Stick Festival.
I can assert that the many Chinese immigrants that now
surround me in my neighbourhood are not in any way as exotic as my concept of
the Native Canadian.
At the opening gala ceremony yesterday of the Talking Stick
Festival I listened to the golden voice (not loud but with perfect diction) of Shane
Pointe the master of ceremonies. I particularly liked how he gesticulated with
his hands as he spoke. It seemed that everything he said was in a story form.
He mentioned how the local cedar trees are universally
appreciated, loved and used by the Coastal First People. At that point I knew I
had to meet up with the man and share my thoughts on the cedar.
Anybody who is a keen gardener (I am one) will know that the
true cedar or Cedrus is a tree
indigenous to Europe and the Himalayas. What here in Canada we call a cedar is
in fact, botanically Thuja plicata or
Western Red Cedar.
My Mexican poet friend Homero Aridjis says that Canadians
never knew where the Monarch Butterflies wintered. He told me that he and the
Mexicans of his home state of Michoacán knew this but did not know where they
came from. In the same way the Coastal First People knew all about their “cedars”.
It was an Englishman, William Lobb who “discovered” the Thuja plicata,.
Explorer David Douglas who had “discovered” the Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, had somehow
overlooked our Thuja.
Shane Pointe in his talk mentioned that the Thuja plicata is
called the tree of life by his people. I had to tell him that another name for his tree is Arbor vitae (Latin for tree of life). I
did not want to further complicate the matter by telling him that arbor vitae
is the cerebellar white matter, so called for its branched, tree-like
appearance in the human brain!
For me the paradox of this wonderful tree, Thuja plicata
is that nothing underneath will grow. The tree defends its territory with a
root system that has a caustic substance that kills many plants. If you rub your
face with a thuja branch you will get welts. This tree, so lovingly and
efficiently used by Native Canadians has to be treated with caution and
respect. Perhaps there is in this a lesson that many of us might consider.
For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again
Living Edward Curtis Photogravure
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
|Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun - Shaman Coming to Fix the Dying Land|
Acrylic on Canvas 2015 60" x 72"
One of the most pleasant surprises for me at the gala was to find that not only was there lots of traditional art and dance featured but also there was a contemporary take to aboriginal art. Dancer Nyla Carpentier accompanied by an electric guitar performed not only with skill but with a humour free of any ceremonial seriousness. I was delighted by Lawrence Paul Yuxwluptun's two works. One was a 3-D piece devoid of colour and the second one shown above made me think that I was looking at the surrealist art of Ladislav Guderna
. There was more fine work by other artists on thee wall of the Roundhouse. My only regret is that the absence of my favourite male dancer, Byron Chief-Moon
was probably due to his increasing bad back problems.
Grant Strate - That Elegant Man
Monday, February 16, 2015
Grant Strate 1927-2015
I had the certain privilege of taking the portrait of
dancer/choreographer Grant Strate twice. The first time it was in September
1998 and the second time it was December 2007. My one regret considering the
pleasure he gave me in sitting for me is that I never saw him dance.
But I could almost imagine. This man, Grant Strate was the
only man I ever met in Vancouver who could match the grace and laid back
demeanour of Arthur Erickson. For many years I played the imaginary game of
being given the task of making the invitation list for a reception for a visit
by the Queen of England. Always, Strate and Erickson were first on it.
Since 1998 until almost recently, at dance performances, I
would notice the (always) elegantly dressed man sitting at the back of the
dance hall - invariably it was with his partner and friend choreographer/dancer Wen Wai Wang. It was not coincidental to me that the latter also had (and has) elegance
(an understated one) in spades. I always stopped to enquire what he (Strate)
thought of the performance. He was always kind in his answers.
It was sometime in November of 2007 that I asked Wen Wai
to bring Strate to my studio on Robson and Granville. At first it seemed odd to
me. Wen Wai deposited Strate on the street entrance of the building and left,
but not before telling me that he would be back as soon as I finished.