My Secret Ways- The Georgia Straight's Fall Arts Preview
Saturday, September 12, 2015
In what I believe is now an attempt at cruel and unusual
punishment the folks of the Georgia Straight via the conduit of its somewhat pleasant Arts
Editor Janet Smith have contacted me yet again to shoot the pictures for this
coming week’s (Wednesday September 16) Georgia Straight Fall Arts Preview. I
believe this may be my 15th year at working on this assignment. I have informed Smith that next year when she phones again for this my wife will answer and tell her I am dead.
If you consider that I am an aging, rheumatic, chronic
cougher, with an enlarged prostate, a heart that accelerates without notice and a mildly balding chap of 73 you might wonder if the folks on West Broadway
cannot find younger blood to draw on.
But that is not the case so I am currently not sleeping nights
while my brain whirs on photographs that would be easy if it were not for the
fact that Smith (as usual) asked me, “Alex what’s this year’s theme going to
Without unleashing the cat out of the bag the accompanying
selfie reveals (in a subtle manner) two items that are central to this year’s
theme. I will not make it easier for you folks by giving you two hints. These two items have (or perhaps not) ancillary
connections with Richard Widmark in a 1962 film called The Secret Ways and to Jimmy Stewart and a chap (also an actor) who was born in New
If you cannot figure it out (and I suppose you cannot)
you will have to wait until Wednesday to find out.
My Medium.com Rant
Friday, September 11, 2015
On November 9,
2013 I read this http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/business/a-founder-of-twitter-goes-long.html
in my NY Times. I was intrigued and I joined. By then I had written over 3000
daily blogs for my Blogger blog which I had started in January 2006. I would
modify some of my blogs and re-post them into Medium. Every once in a while I
did this backwards and wrote something in Medium and re posted it into my blog.
It was fun.
I particularly enjoyed Medium’s statistics which told you if people had only
glanced at your posting or actually read it. Like Blogger but much more
detailed you could see where people came to see your blog. As of late I have
noticed that entry to my Blogger blog is through Facebook and that Facebook is
also important with Medium. Medium makes it easy to post your individual essay’s
URL into Twitter and Facebook with two simple clicks.
I do not
in any way hope that Medium will give me fame and fortune. I do it for fun. It
gives my day and life as a retired magazine photographer a bit of a routine of
order. I believe that the photographs in my Medium essays are some of the best.
At the very least they are mine and I do not appropriate them from elsewhere. I
have done my best to not mimic the recent trend in newspaper headers for
articles that are questions such as, “Is Clinton now toast?” with the almost
universal equivalents that trend in Medium.
godsend was something called Import Story by which with the placing in a window
your blog’s coordinates it would magically appear in Medium and you are given
lots of control to modify it, change your pictures and move it around.
Sometimes this feature does not work too well but I have found roundabout ways
to do what I want in spite of the snags.
at Medium do not resist to attempt to improve your experience and tinker with stuff. In one of these
misguided (to me) bits of tinkering people who read your essay can now
highlight paragraphs and sentences. I have yet to attempt to remove this (to
me) defacement of my copy. I don’t understand this feature. That I am not
under 30 but over 70 (in fact I am 73) might explain this.
have 3600 Blogger blogs and you find that quite a few of these might be
modified to run in Medium you might happily take advantage of Import Story.
But no more
to the many Uh –oh! I get when I attempt to open my statistics (Medium cannot
seem to cope with my at least 150 postings) I now have one Uh-oh! that has been in
effect for two days. It is the image above that tells me that I am toast for
As to what a Medium day is I am in confusion. It's been two already.
Julie Menard - The Ice Queen
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
I may have been around 1982 when I first met Julie Menard. I
called her the watch lady. In her profession she divested herself of everything
within minutes of her performance. But she always kept her Cartier watch.
Menard reminded me of a sophisticated version of Susan Sarandon. Menard’s skin
looked like the coating on white Limoges china. She had a liking for red
lipstick that set off her unsaturated skin. Her choice of music, too, was
sophisticated. It was always obscure new wave that had to go with her sinuous,
slippery sort of dancing.
She was an ice queen, more so because of the contrast between
her stark white skin and her Revlon red lipstick. Her English was just about
perfect but there was just enough French in it to make her that much more
There was a streak of existentialist sadness in her
demeanor. But I was told she was tough. She had a little daughter and she did
her best for her. One day I asked if she would pose for me. I remember that she
lived right next to Grandview Park on Commercial Drive not far from where I was
to photograph Dave Barrett by his Volvo a few years later. I picked her up in
my yellow Fiat X 1/9 and we drove to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. We
walked to the cliffs where I took the pictures on a hot sunny afternoon in
I note that I used four film stocks. With my Pentaxes I
loaded one with Kodak b+w infrared and the other with Kodak Technical Pan. With
my Mamiya RB-67 I used Kodacolor in 120 and a Fuji HR- 100. The latter really
shows off Menard’s white skin but unfortunately the negative has stained in
places and you might note that there is some yellow in her white slip.
Shortly after I took the pictures she told me she was going
back to Montreal and I never saw her again.
Clammering For Attention - A Botanical Noah's Ark
Monday, September 07, 2015
|Rosa 'English Elegance' September 7 2015|
On this September 7, 2015 with the looming eventual parting
of ways with our house and garden from 1986 Rosemary and I look at each other
as we wander in our beginning to wane fall garden. We look at each other but we
don’t voice out loud what we are thinking. The big trees, the many roses, the
grasses in the scheme of life are they less important if we believe they have
My mentor and friend, religion teacher, philosopher, mathematician,
musician (could play every instrument of a marching band) Brother Edwin Reggio,
CSC once told us about life (he obviously agreed with the view of Darwin) that
in the scheme of things we had basic rocks that little by little became more
complex in their makeup. And somewhere something became organic (the chemistry
of old was divided into organic and inorganic). I may have been a primitive
one-celled cell that learned the process of mitosis. The one-celled and
multi-celled organisms became more complex. We had little sea creatures,
viruses amoebas which then in ever more complex mutations led to small fish,
reptiles, large reptiles, birds, mammals and finally apes of all kinds. Like
philosopher Erich Fromm, Brother Edwin gave us the more liberal interpretation of
genesis in which God intervenes and blows a soul into Adam and Eve. Brother
Edwin saw no conflict between Darwin and Genesis. He had obviously read Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man.
Brother Edwin then explained that man was a mating of
body and spirit. In fact he said that we were the ultimate combination of those
too. But then from body and spirit the next rung on his evolutionary ladder is
pure spirit. But even there, we would see an ever more route towards a
complexity to perfection. There were many tiers of angels and the top one included
the archangels of which one was the fallen on Satan. Ultimately pure spirit was
From this idea I look at my plants and wonder if they are
less important than I am in the scheme of life. My roses communicate to me by
performing for me or by urging me to take a whiff of their scent. I look at
some of my hostas and my mind remembers where they came from and of particular
human friends of mine who played a very human nature of mixing pollen from here
to put it there, just like bees but with more sense of purpose.
Just because a hosta is plain and green it does not mean I
am to ignore it for a more “look at me, I am variegated”.
The plants in my garden these days (in my imagination are whining,
barking and growling at me) are dogs in a cage at the dog pound or the SPCA.
They all want to be taken home. I can only take one of them as it was those
many years ago in Mexico City when we put down Antonio, our very old and sick
Boxer. I knew that the best cure to a dead dog and a sad state of affairs was
to instantly adopt a new one. The dogs at the pound were all barking. One wasn’t.
She was a rather ugly, fly-coloured gray that had some terrier in her. Rosemary
and I felt so sad for her we brought her home.
Our plants, my roses are like the dogs in that pound. They
are clamouring to take them, to play a sort of botanical Noah’s Ark where room
is limited. What am I to do?
The English Rose, Rosa ‘English Elegance’ has been
especially skillful at getting my attention. With Rosa ‘Wild Edric’, Fair Bianca
and Sweet Juliet she has been in bloom constantly all summer, including early
summer. For the first time since the end of May when the first bloom appeared
today there no flowers to be found on the sprawling and tall bush on my gazebo.
Because to scan the picture you see here I cut them all
leaving a few buds that will open in a few days.
How about that? Something positive on an otherwise
melancholy Noah’s Ark before the storm.
Another September 7 this one in 2013