Hacer Ventana Una Mujer
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Ponerse en ella para ser vista.
|Debbie by the window|
This expression from the Spanish is about a woman placing herself by a window so as to be seen.
I could not find any justification to post (so I have anyway) these photographs that I took so long ago but that to my eyes are exquisite even if I have to do what I call an unkind cut.
I may have taken these around 1977 and I used a couple of Pentaxes. One was loaded with Kodak B+W Infrared Film and the other with a very fine grained Kodak Special Order 410. The beauty of these images lies in the unsophistication and simplicity of a small hand-held camera and using only the light that was available at the time.
Now in 2015 if I had the opportunity of finding a Debbie N again to pose for me I wonder if I would not resort to the use of heavy lights and simply not get the results that I have here.
My Soon To Be Sturmey- Archer Bike
Friday, October 09, 2015
time I owned and rode a bike was in 1955. I wrote about it here. Not mentioned
is how that black Raleigh replaced my horse. This is funny as while in Mexico
City I was very good at playing bicycle polo on the fashionable street where we
lived in Las Lomas de Chapultepec. The street was Sierra Madre.
neighbours across from us were the high society Rincón Gallardos. They had two
sons. Their father and grandfather had been generals since the Mexican
Revolution. I played polo with the boys. They were pretty good as they also dabbled
in the sport on their very own horses. Every birthday some misguided soul gave
me a croquet set. I would not have been caught dead with it. But the mallets
did just fine for our brand of polo and the wooden balls were close to the real
In 1955 my
mother moved to Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico. It was a mining town run by the
American Smelting & Refining Company. We lived in the American Hotel in the
hill overlooking the town. Since we were part of the privileged (in spite of
the fact my mother was only the school teacher at the Company American School,
two rooms they were, we were all given a horse to ride. We usually went cross
country (it was a very dry desert with lots of thorny bushes) to visit Stephen
Frazier whose mother had a large ranch. My horse was a young guy who was as
stubborn as a mule. Leaving the stables he would refuse to gallop and only
trotted. I was told he disliked to be separated from his mother. Going with my
friends to the ranch was a chore. Returning home I was always first as my
horse/mule galloped to see mother.
gave up on the horse and accompanied my school mates in my black Raleigh. I had
purchased in Eagle Pass, Texas a special viscous liquid that I squeezed into
the inner tubes. This rendered my tires almost puncture proof.
started high school at St. Ed’s in Austin (the school in Nueva Rosita went up
to grade 8 and I had suffered a year with my mother as the teacher), my bike
disappeared from my radar and I never had one since then.
be remedied in a couple of weeks. I have ordered a bicycle from West Point Cycles. The folks there have measured me so that I will surely fit. At first I will be inflexible because of my arthritis. Should I purchase stirrups to get on?
Yorkshire friend and compadre (he is
the godfather of my oldest daughter) Andrew Taylor I received this
Buy the bikes. Among
the Cognoscenti, "Fixies" are
all the rage, but I think that having a few gears would be nice. Look into a
bike with themodern rendition of the old Sturmey-Archer 3 speed, with the
planetary gear in the rear hub; they are bullet proof, do not need adjusting
and look cleaner than the usual derailleurs.
Andrew’s advice is good as he is an expert biker who is one
of the oldest and best long distant cyclists in Mexico.
Why am I now buying a bicycle at age 73? Rosemary and I are
moving in a bit to a street in Vancouver that is two blocks from a very nice
shopping district with restaurants, tea rooms, sports bars, a very large and
new Safeway, Lens & Shutter, bookstores, a Macdonald’s, a Dairy Queen and
I must mention the Transylvanian Baker that I will bike to!
The bike will have that hub that Andrew has suggested, a
wicker basket for the front, two blinking lights, one for the front and one for
the back, a rear view mirror and I have purchased the cheapest helmet as it is
just plain functional and will not make me look like a praying mantis. I will
order some sort of rack so I can pick up my granddaughter Lauren, 13, and we
can bike to the nearby Kid’s Bookstore or the nice Macdonald Branch of the
Vancouver Public Library.
I cannot wait for my shiny new blue bike.
Ken Millard - July 10 1941 - September 27 2015
Thursday, October 08, 2015
I never met Ken Millard. I saw his obituary in my October 9 2015 Vancouver Sun
. But I knew who he was and I had listened to a concert at the Orpheum many years ago with my two young daughters in which his violin bows made a prominent aural appearance. I wrote about it here
The obituary mentions that Millard became allergic to the wood of the violin bows he made. My connection to all this is that I know the man whose violin bow made Millard allergic. It is my friend, the virtuoso violinist Marc Destrubé.
Ken Millard, the co-founder of the Galiano Conservancy
Association and a key figure in the land trust movement in BC and Canada, died
suddenly at home on September 27, 2015 on Galiano Island, at the age of 74. Ken
leaves behind a legacy of more than 500 acres of Galiano land protected
forever, and a strong organization dedicated to conservation and education.
Kenneth Young Millard, born on July 10, 1941 in Tacoma Park, Maryland, is
survived by his wife Linda Millard, and their two daughters, Beth (Reg)
Thiessen and Lisa Millard, and Lisa's five children; as well as Ken's older
brother John Millard, of Virgina, and younger sister Doris Spencer, of
Colorado. After achieving his PhD in physics from Case Western University in
Cleveland, Ohio, Ken taught in Missouri and at Simon Fraser University in
Burnaby, BC. Then he followed his love of early baroque music to a successful
second career as a luthier, studying in Salt Lake City, Utah and apprenticing
with luthier Anton Smith. He became one of the world's finest makers of baroque
violin bows, selling them to renowned musicians worldwide. Sadly, Ken developed
a sensitivity to certain kinds of wood and ceased his work as a luthier. Ken
first came to Galiano Island in the late 1970s, to perform in an early music
ensemble in which he played the viola da gamba. The Millards loved Galiano and
soon bought a 24-acre waterfront property on which the family camped until they
built a cottage with co-owner Dan Bloomberg. Ken and Linda became fulltime
residents by the late 1980s. Ken co-founded the Galiano Conservancy Association
in 1989, with a group of like-minded islanders who were concerned about
clearcut logging and sought to preserve Galiano's sensitive forest ecosystems,
watersheds and coastline. Ken volunteered the last 26 years of his life at the
Conservancy, achieving protection of hundreds of acres, including the 188-acre
Learning Centre site. Since 2000, the Conservancy has provided nature education
programs to 30,000 people of all ages. Ken fostered partnerships with
government, business and land trusts. He mentored hundreds of volunteers and
leaves behind a strong community committed to conservation, along with a
dedicated staff that has vowed to continue his work while deeply mourning his
passing. His grieving community of colleagues, friends and family will gather
at a memorial service for Ken on Sunday, October 11 at 1 pm, at the
Conservancy's Learning Centre land, at 10825 Porlier Pass Road, on Galiano. In
lieu of flowers, Ken's family requests that donations be made in his name to
the Galiano Conservancy Association.
Published in Victoria Times Colonist from Oct. 8 to Oct. 9,
Pricked & Prodded At The Waiting Room
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and
be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”
Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon
“I may not have all the time I thought I had...”
Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon
|Jonathon Young, John Mann, Matreya Scarrwener & Michael Wener - October 7 2015|
Tonight I went with my Rosemary to the opening of the
Arts Club Theatre Company production (at the Granville Island Stage) of Morris Panych’s
(Book and Direction) The Waiting Room
. The music and lyrics (and voice) were by
Anybody who has peaked into my blogs from time to time
must know that as the Latin American that I am I have never understood when
actors who are talking suddenly begin to sing (worse even when they danc, too). In short I used to hate musicals
but thanks to Bill Millerd (Artistic Director of the Arts Club Theatre Company)
I have come to tolerate them and (gosh!) even like some of them.
By the standard of whatever a musical is supposed to be
defined as, this collaboration between John Mann and Morris Panych is not (I repeat,
a musical. It is as theatre should be (for this backward Latin American).
The actors don’t sing, they act. The musicians back stage (seen behind a semi
transparent scrim, Brad Gillard, banjo, Eric Reed guitar, Allan Rodger,
keyboards and Sheri Ulrich on violin) play the music while John Mann sings and
stomps so dramatically on his feet. This is a “musical” for me.
|Morris Panych - Tired of waiting|
I don’t want to use the expression “as always” so I will
point out that Jonathon Young is superb and the accompanying cast of Jillian
Fargey as L, Bonnie Panych as Nurse (pleasant), Mrs. C and as the doctor from
hell Doctor F, Chris Cochrane as the X-Ray Technician (and strange to say a
born again at a hospital!) and Peter Anderson as Doctor D, and as Neil is as
happy as Don Quixote’s sidekick, are all up to par.
I have some inside knowledge that John Mann had a wonderful muse called Jill when he wrote song and lyrics for this play..
|Jill - John Mann's Muse|
But I must leave the rest of this story to the real
revelation and that is Matreya Scarrwener who as C is, and like a quark,
sometimes isn’t. That's charm.
For some time at Arts Club Theatre openings I have seen
this lovely girl with an uncommonly perfect complexion smiling and
gesticulating with a youngish man. I have wondered who she was. Now I know.
After the show I went up to the man and inquired. He is Mattreya’s dad. His
name is Michael. Before tonight he has seen the play twice and he told me that
the first time he cried for the duration. This is understandable as his
daughter’s performance is riveting, natural, funny and sad, all at the same
To Mr. Panych I must thank for coming up with a “musical”
that has content. It has content that is not American. It has content that
disturbs (a tad) and which just might make us all look up exactly what it was
that Epicurus wrote about death.
As for John Mann, I must thank him for having a small
band that played terrific music that did not sound like Broadway. Sometimes
(more often than) not we have to thank ourselves for being Canadian.
Ken MacDonald, the Set and Costume Designer I nominate to
be the Chair of the Board. I am jealous of Dramaturg Rachel Ditor
being paid to have fun!
I hope I am around (maybe not!) to see a performance by Mattreya Scarrwener (who is 17) wearing full adult makeup.
|Morris Panych's pleasure in Waiting for G|
Juliana Soltis In My Mirror Nevermore
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Of late I have been looking around my house for stuff that I
can say I have done for the last time and that soon whatever it was will be in
our new house.
I never thought that the Ikea-type mirror that has been in
our guest room since we
moved here in 1986 was especially beautiful. But it has served it its purpose
in providing me with the opportunity to photograph my subjects before or after
a formal session. Especially fun has been to include myself in the picture.
made the shooting of this convenient, effortless I would say, is the use of my
Fuji X-E1 digital camera which I purchased three years ago on the urging of my
more intelligent Rosemary.
of double selfies (as I call them) are of the Seattle baroque cellist Juliana
Facebook Event Invitations - Anathema to the Senses
Monday, October 05, 2015
I remember with some distaste browsing a Hallmark Card shelf
at a local stationery store. This may have happened about ten years ago. The
bulk of the cards were supposed to be funny. For me a Hallmark Card was always a reduced exercise
in the Cyrano de Bergerac syndrome of having someone else say what we could not
personally put down on paper. A nice
birthday letter for me always trumped a Hallmark Card.
Thankfully in this 21st century when Hallmark
Cards, like newspapers are moribund, and Christmas cards are almost forgotten
we need not trouble ourselves in going to that stationery store. We now have
the improvement of being able to text our greetings and even end relationships
via that smart phone.
Socially we are becoming inept as we increasingly rely on “Social
Media” to wish or friends happy birthdays. We no longer need to apologize for forgetting. Facebook gives us reminders.
But the worst aspect of this decaying social media is the
event invitation. They are now coming fast and plentiful. The appearance of
intimacy is only superficial. This is plain mass-mailing-without-stamps. Some of the mass mailings of the past at
least contained a personal signature in longhand.
I would like to find a Facebook tool or app that would
enable me to stop receiving event invites.
Disgraced - A Comedy - An Operatic Tragedy About Racism
Sunday, October 04, 2015
|Juan de Pareja, Diego Velázquez, 1650, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art|
On Wednesday, September 23d, my Rosemary and I attended the
opening of the Arts Club Theatre production of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winning (2013) Disgraced
. Disgraced was directed by Janet Wright.
I could write on how we enjoyed it or that the directing was
able and tight. I could use that staple expression of theatre critics (I am not
one of them, I am an amateur blogger) that Disgraced was “thought provoking.”
But I am not.
To anybody who has gotten this far I will forewarn them that
this will be long-winded and opinionated. The play is central to two facts and
one painting. Of the former it is about India before partition in 1947 and
about racism. The latter about Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar’s magnificent
portrait of his assistant/slave Juan de Pareja.
But let me digress first.
Since I was a little boy in Buenos Aires I was surrounded by
an awareness of social classes, religious intolerance and out and out racism.
Very much like in the United States and even Canada, Spanish
colonizers of Argentina and then the leaders of the young nation in the 19th
century pushed the native “indios” West and South with armies. The few that
remained became in the 20th century “cabecitas negras” or little
black heads. The upper social classes, traditionally the Catholic Church, the
armed forces and the wealthy landowners looked down on the working class.
My Spanish-born grandmother told me that the Jews had killed
Christ. I had a terrible time reconciling that with the fact that my best
friend, Mario Hertzberg, who lived across the street, was Jewish.
In one of my trips to Buenos Aires in the late 80s, one of
my nephews asked me if blacks (negros in Argentine Spanish) smelled differently. Much later he asked
me how I could tell the difference between the Chinese and the Japanese. I told
him (perhaps in jest, perhaps in my own confusion) that it was very easy and
you knew right away. When there was doubt the person was Korean. And since my
mother was from the Philippines I added that Filipinos and Malaysians were
Malays and not Chinese at all.
In my years in Texas in the mid to late 50s Latinos were not
yet Latinos. Texans who were not of that extraction simply called them spicks
or Mexcans (without that i). So people of that extraction would anglicize the
pronunciation of their names (much as they still do today with Latino baseball
players). Reyes was Reys. And none of the people of this extraction (particularly
my fellow students in my boarding school in Austin) would have ever been caught
talking Spanish or admitting they could speak it.
In Mexico, where I lived for many years we often read that
the biggest difference between pure blooded Native Mexicans and Spaniards was
the abundance of facial hair in the latter. Thus until most recently
dark-skinned Mexican policemen wore large moustaches and women sported unshaved legs
beneath very nice sheer stockings.
When my Canadian wife and two Mexican born daughters arrived
in Vancouver in 1975 I was astounded to notice that Native Canadians did not
have red skin and that they looked very much like the Native Mexicans but could
not speak Spanish.
It was later in the 70s when going to Saturday evening
parties seemed to be in vogue that my Rosemary and I would get into our Rabbit
and I would turn on the radio to a CBC Radio program that fascinated me. It was
called Our Native Land. The music was splendid country and western but when
that music “devolved” to chanting my wife seemed uncomfortable. Being a rude
Latin American (not yet a Canadian) I would tell her, “This is the music of the
people of your country. What is your problem? " This invariably made her angry
and she would turn off the radio. To the detriment of the CBC I have always
wondered why they canned this informative and entertaining program.
Also in the late 70s while printing in my Burnaby darkroom,
one of my fave radio programs was the CBC’s Doctor Bundolo’s Pandemonium
which starred two of the funniest men on earth, Bill Reiter
and Norm Grohmann. One routine that was outrageously funny (it could not
possibly run in 2015) was that of the Lone Deranger
and his Faithful Friend
. Toronto was played to perfection by Norn Grohmann with an extreme
Punjabi accent. At the time there was a large influx of immigrants from what we
used to call the Indian Subcontinent.
Stand-up comedians and jokes on the street made fun of the “Pakis.”
The jokes were no different and no less cruel that the Jew jokes of the past
centering on a perceived Jewish penchant for frugality. These immigrants became Canadians and one of them almost
became Prime Minister but did manage to be a Premier of BC and a Minister of
In the late 70s and 80s I took photographs for CBC
Television and Radio. I noted that the only Native Canadian within the
corporation was an actor in The Beachcombers. I never saw any as stagehands,
cameramen or anywhere else.
An early job renting cars for Tilden Rent-A-Car came with
instructions not to rent to anybody with the surname of George or John. When I
asked I was answered, “Don’t rent to Indians.”
By now you must be getting my drift about my exposure to racism
and my possible difficulty to be free of sin or able to cast that first stone.
When the folks from Hong-Kong started arriving in the 80’s
the East Indians were forgotten. This influx was different from others. In San
Francisco they called them Yacht people. That first wave was practical. They purchased
Volvos. Don Docksteader made a mint.
In the 90s and in the beginning of the 21st
century I noticed that the Hong Kong Chinese did not talk to the Taiwan Chinese
and that the Mainland Chinese avoided the Hong Kong Chinese and the Taiwanese.
I was clued in by an older Taiwanese neighbour that the Mainland Chinese
considered them unclean in that they had learned Japanese during the WWII occupation
This much newer batch of wealthy immigrants, simply because
they come to a new world where they can begin anew, puts them in a situation
where they are unlikely to want to communicate with their neighbours to which
they refer as Caucasians. To me that use is almost no different from that unsavoury
“Paki.” In my neighbourhood that is mostly populated by these immigrants I feel alienated. If it has taken me all these years to finally feel part of this city and this country I now have doubts about fitting in. As a joke (a terrible and perhaps even in bad taste) I tell my Argentine relatives that I want to go for an extended visit to Patagonia so that I will again feel at home, a home free of BMWs and Mercedez Benzes.
But there is hope. Hope must be assimilation. We all know that sooner or later a second generation will adopt some of the ways of the locals like Tim Horton’s
doughnuts and the clothing at Mark's Work Wearhouse. But until that happens I
believe that we in Vancouver are sitting on a smoldering and festering dose of
out an out racism that goes (is this a new feature?) both ways.
I remember taking photographs, many times of Lieutenant
Governor David Lam (1988-1995). We became friends. To me he did a splendid job
of doing everything possible to bring the Caucasians and the Chinese together.
I have not seen much of an attempt to keep working at that since. Articles on
the expensive real estate in Vancouver in our daily newspapers seem to fan
these flames which I believe will finally erupt.
All the above came to my head as I watched Disgraced. To
those who are under 30 they might not understand the protagonist’s problem. His
parents had been born in the Indian Subcontinent before 1947. They were Indian.
After partition (and many have forgotten) there was India which was separated
from the more Muslim population of West and East Pakistan. Can you imagine
creating a country that is divided by another? Have we forgotten that East
Pakistan became a hapless Bangladesh that seems to be at the mercy of monsoons,
storms, flooding and famine?
So our protagonist, who wants to be upwardly mobile and
mostly succeeds at it by calling himself an Indian even though he was born in a
contemporary Pakistan. India, East Indian, even Hindu (or that Kipling Hindoo)
has a better ring than Paki. And so Amir, played to perfection by Patrick
Sabongui, like a red-egged Humpty Dumpty has a great fall.
A similar watering down of one's perceived heritage, used to avoid typecasting, is the Iranian immigrants in our city who call themselves Persians. To my knowledge there is no such country as Persia.
The rest of the cast, Amir’s blonde wife, Emily (Kyra
Zagorsky dressed to perfection by Costume Designer Barbara Clayden), the
idealistic nephew Abe (Conor Wylie), Amir’s acquaintance but Emily’s artistic
consultant and art show organizer Isaac (Robert Maloney) and his really
upwardly mobile and black wife Jory (Marci T. House) is excellent.
I would like to congratulate Mr. Millerd, who is ahead of
the pack in choosing Disgraced. My NY Times has informed
me that his play will
be the most produced play in the US this year.
Disgraced is a comedy that ends in tragedy like a good opera.
But this is an opera with a biting reality that we who live in Vancouver should
take heed of and try and work at it so that we, too, might not, be disgraced.
Velásquez’s painting of his household slave, and helper Juan
de Pareja whom he freed is the inspiration for Emily who paints her Amir as
such a man. It is perhaps appropriate that while Juan de Pareja’s features are
negroid it is not known in fact if he was that or if he was a Muslim (was he a
mulatto or a morisco?) Why appropriate? Some in the audience might have opined
that Patrick Sabongui’s features weren’t …..enough. I am pleased his skin was
Doctor Bundolo was funny? Were many people offended? Is there an equivalent TV or radio show lampooning (Oh so gently! Please!) what is happening in Vancouver now? Would it make the situation worse?
I believe that we must learn to laugh together. I believe we must persuade Bill Reiter and Norm Grohman to unretire. I believe that Disgraced is a warning.