Duke Ellington, The Palmolive Boy, Zombies - Just Some Facts @Cuffed
Saturday, March 12, 2016
|Daniel Tessy at Cuffed Festival, March 12 2016|
On my second day attendance to Cuffed Festival
Performance Works on Granville Island I again learned that I should pay closer
attention to Marilyn Statio’s now a tad more infrequent column on mystery books
in my Sunday’s NY Times Book Review
When you hit over 70 (I am 73) I seem to thrive on comfort
music (Gerry Mulligan) and comfort crime writers like Colin Dexter, Reginald
Hill, P.D. James
, Michael Dibdin
and Arthur Upfield. The problem with those
writers is that they will not be writing any more books. But I do enjoy some of
the still alive ones like Ian Rankin, Jerome Charyn
and that now almost
forgotten Canadian treasure J. Robert Janes
. Unfortunately that other fave of
mine Paco Ignacio Taibo II
(whom Alma Lee brought to Vancouver some years ago)
no longer writes crime novels. So I depend on Donna Leon, Arturo Perez-Reverte
and of course Andrea Camilleri.
But until now I never got to know or meet brand new (and
very exciting) crime writers and particularly a large crop of Canadians. Many
of these writers have been recommended by Marilyn Stasio but I have to confess
that in the last few years I avoided the names of authors that I did not know in her
column. Obviously I have been an idiot and I can now correct my ways.
And that is going to happen thanks to the Cuffed Vancouver
International Crime Writers Festival.
In today’s program in Event 3 – Take Us Away
pleasantly surprised by Caterina Edwards (she is married to a Sicilian) who
writes about mafia doings on that island as they relate to (!) Edmonton, Ian
Hamilton (the yet to be outed spy) whose protagonist is a Canadian/Chinese forensic
accountant who happens to be a lesbian and third in that list is my
/swordsman C. C. Humphreys whose latest novel is about a
serial murderer during London’s plague. Globe & Mail
Correspondent, Marsha Lederman was a most efficient moderator who ran
everything like clockwork in a busy newsroom.
The second event of my day was New Sisters in Crime which
featured four female writers Kristi Charish, Claudine Dumont and Rachel
Greenaway (a first novelist) and Ausma Zehanat Khan whose Middle Eastern
heritage has now brought us one protagonist a Muslim policeman. This is a nice
contrast to Greenway’s experience in telling us about BC’s North from her point
of view of having been a court reporter in Nelson and beyond. Claudine Dumont,
who writes her novels in French (she is from Quebec) but has English
translations spoke in a beautifully evocative English. I also know she is a
photographer and has just started a café in Montreal. I have a special affinity
to Dumont because I too, get very dizzy in anything that moves and if I don’t
drive the car I am in I would coat the interior. Kristi Charish writes
something (new to me!) called urban fantasy that features zombies, ghosts and
vampires in real cities. She has impressive diplomas in esoteric and difficult
sciences but I was also impressed by her brilliant red hair (and alas I was not
close enough to notice if I could have admired her freckles). But salient in
the too short one hour session was their urbanity and intelligence. Moderator
(also an author) Robin Spano was effusive in her enthusiasm to question and
contribute to the session.
William Deverell was the moderator of two journalists (Terry
Gould a freelancer) and Kim Bolan (a Vancouver Sun reporter) who specialize in
investigative reporting. Both journalists have received death threats and Gould
has traveled to places where his life could have been sold for next to nothing.
Impressive for me (Bolan’s slide presentation was brutally effective) was Bolan’s
feeling that investigative journalism is here to stay and Gould seemed to have
an almost permanent smile of enthusiasm for what he does. In different ways
both writers showed a passion for getting the story. In Gould’s case there was
that extra question to find out, the why people who are bad may do good things
and why good people will do bad things. Deverell (why has nobody seen the
connection between this man who shares those manly qualities that Norman Mailer
had but with much more understated elegance) made the session seem to go much
too quickly. I wanted more. I proudly told Bolan that I have been subscribed to
the Vancouver Sun since 1975 and no matter what others might think about the
decline of Vancouver’s journalism standards, Bolan is ample proof that good
things happen in our city papers.
The last session of today Saturday featured three men with style who
(because of my above mentioned ignorance) were completely new to me. These are
Linwood Barclay (who could easily have a career in stand-up comedy), John Farrow
a man of perfect diction who could have lectured me about economics for hours
and I would not have fallen asleep, and Zagreb-born Alen Mattich who just may complement
that investigative book Balkan Ghosts by Robert D Kaplan.
If anything this crop of Canadian and writers from other
countries is proof that books are not moribund. It is much too easy to think
that all the above were lucky in finding publishers and agents and to be given good
contracts. The reason has to be that quality must rise to the top and every one
of these writers is a testament to this. Alma Lee is correct in thinking that Vancouver is a sophisticated enough city to have room not only for a Writer's Festival but one dedicated exclusively to crime.
During the morning and afternoon I kept hearing, before and after the sessions one of my
desert island jazz records, Money Jungle
featuring Duke Ellington on piano,
Charles Mingus on bass and Max Roach on drums. I had to enquire who was in
charge of the sound. One of the sound men is Daniel Tessy. He chose the record
and I was astounded to find out he is under 30! Yes, God exists!
Few would know that C.C. Humphreys
wrote his swashbuckler
Jack Absolute while crashing for the duration in Alma Lee’s house. And even
fewer would know that Terry Gould’s teeth are perfect because he was a poster
boy (and TV) for Colgate Palmolive toothpaste in his pre-teens.
Cuffed Festival - William Deverell - A Spy & A Dry Martini
Friday, March 11, 2016
Good books and good writers can turn a terrible Vancouver rainy day into a sunny one in the heart. This
is what happened to me today at Alma Lee’s new Cuffed Festival
crime writers from Canada and abroad. They are here for three days (Friday,
Saturday and Sunday) at Performance Works on Granville Island. For an hour
these intimate lecture/readings involve you into intelligent conversation and
illuminating stories on why writers and crime writers write and particularly
why the latter tend to write series.
Tonight’s program labeled Series Stars featured Gail Bowen,
William Deverell and Ian Hamilton. The night was moderated by author/actor
Stephen E. Miller who reminded me of Will Rogers.
All three writers were superb but
for me it especially applied to William Deverell. Perhaps it has to do with the
fact that I have a long photographic relationship with him that started in
1979. Or perhaps it has to do that on assignment for Saturday Night years later
I went in my maroon coloured Maserati Bi-Turbo to Pender Island where he lived.. I
promptly got it into a ditch on my way to his house. Deverell was helped by fellow neighbour Mike
Harcourt and they managed to un-ditch my car.
But the real reason I am writing
in relation to the Cuffed Festival is that Alma Lee and her new
baby have managed to inject excitement into my winter blahs. It is an
excitement generated by being with people who converse and who write well.
Deverell read from his new novel
Sing a Worried Song with that baritone voice of his that could have made him a
lot of money (less perhaps that as a
criminal lawyer) in the CBC.
He read about his protagonist
Arthur Beauchamp (pronounced with a French accent if you read the novel in Quebec) an alcoholic criminal lawyer who has perennial horns on his
forehead because of a wayward wife.
This fragment that Deverell read
sucked me into the realization that good writing matters to the point that a
drink, as Deverell’s fellow author on the stage, Ian Hamilton (a former spy not
ready to admit it yet) told me that a martini will have, henceforth, a special
remembrance for me that will be invariably linked to that of William Deverell.
“Thank you, Pierre. A martini. The usual. Two pearl
“Maybe this is not wise, if…how long are you sober now,
“It’s Day Twenty-Five. It’s time.”
“Just one, maybe, yes?”
After that just one it would be too late to call Bill
Webb. At any event, it wouldn’t be right to rouse him from his bed. He wasn’t
going to get drunk. Just one martini to lighten the mood.
The first teasing drops rolled across his tongue and
caused an agreeable jolt of recognition: the taste of juniper and dry vermouth
and freedom from care. Welcome back, old friend. Another sip, and he could feel
the desolation and bleakness start to fade.
Tinas - Bañaderas - Bathtubs - Full Immersion
Thursday, March 10, 2016
“I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath. I
lay in that tub on the seventeenth floor of this hotel for-women-only, high up
over the jazz and push of New York, for near onto an hour, and I felt myself
growing pure again. I don't believe in baptism or the waters of Jordan or
anything like that, but I guess I feel about a hot bath the way those religious
people feel about holy water.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
|Alexandria & her barquinho|
I am inseparable from my bathtub. I wrote about my first
memory of one here.
But reflecting on it I also remember my mother washing me
while I was in the tub. There is also a persistent memory that not only did I
sing My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean
my father in bed but at least once with him in the tub.
The tub became irrelevant in the late 60s in my mother’s
house in Veracruz. Perhaps she did not have one. I do know that my Rosemary
took frequent showers to escape the tropical port’s heat.
Tubs have been so important that I even had a show in 1989
where I had portraits of 13 women (one at a time) in a tub. That show was
preceded by many failed attempts in which I wanted to rationalize why I wanted
to photograph beautiful women in them.
It was with Alexandria (a lovely black-haired angel) that I
finally found my way. The two pictures here are where I began to use that
spotlight. In the end I mounted my tripod on either side of the tub and shot
down. I used a technique of having a slow shutter which in tandem with my
subjects moving the water with their feet I obtained swirls of light.
In our old Athlone house we had three tubs. The one in the
cold basement was a lovely old one where I photographed Gillian – she-of-the-Calvin Klein-perfume
. The other two tubs came with leaky baggage. The main bathroom
leaked onto the living room ceiling. After realizing this we stopped using it
and its shower, too. The second tub (an Ikea bathroom courtesy of the house
flippers who sold us the home) had (it took me years to figure this out) a
severe over-flow connection that to repair meant the wall in our
bedroom had to be torn down. We lived with
the technique of never filling the tub over the over-flow. This meant I could
never enjoy and almost full inversion (Baptist style).
In our new home the tub has a Jacuzzi and I can now immerse
myself to my neck. I read the NY Times
in it and I am constantly wetting the
bottom part of it. I must confess I enjoy the paper with a large mug of strong
tea. What I need now is a tray (like the ones they have in-your-car hamburger joints
that I can strap on one side where I can place my mug and novel.
The high point of every morning and evening for us is that
hot tub bath.
A Tall Glass Of Ice-Cold Horchata
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
Such is the world we live in that now men (those who need
inspiration) cannot have a muse and much less call a woman one.
Those who might object to the term and pronounce it sexist
might not understand that the Greek muses were all women. Some say there were
three others that there were nine. I am sure that women artists be they
dancers, musicians or visual artist can and could seek the inspiration of a
man. But these men could certainly not be called muses. That would be a drag.
One of the most important muses of my life has been my
Rosemary. She has found flaws in my photographs and questioned my intent.
Thanks to her I have (in most cases) been very careful in my framing, lighting
My granddaughter Rebecca now 18 was my inspiration for most
of her life. She is now separated herself from this old man (I hope this is
provisional) and I am now depending on her sister Lauren who is 13 for
Sometimes inspiration comes with a change of climate and
locale. While in Mexico in 1968 blondes with beautiful legs shown off with a
miniskirt were a rarity. When I spotted one (Rosemary) I married her.
Now in this incessant rainy and cold Vancouver I long not
for the blondes (I will keep my options open for red hair) but for the Latin
woman. I long for a throaty voice and a persistent gaze. I long for spoken
Spanish so direct as it is impossible to speak it with mouth half closed (as is
the case with English).
I have not seen Ivette Hernández now for quite a few years.
I long for having a café con leche with her and perhaps discuss Mexican
literature or a future shoot in my little Kitsilano studio.
She was my muse and her memory keeps me inspired.
When I stare at this portrait I can smell freshly made tortillas, I can imagine the cinammon in a hot cup of Mexican chocolate, I can savour a mango de Manila from Veracruz, I can see the ochre mountains of Mexico in the dry (very dry!) season and I can imagine Ivette flipping open and closing with that flick of the wrist one of my mother's Spanish fans.
I long to sit with her in the portales of Veracruz and slurp a tall glass of ice-cold horchata. That and more is what a muse is. And I am sure that Rosemary would say something like, "You have forgotten to mention the tropical humidity of Orizaba."
My new muse?
The Spirit Lasts
Tuesday, March 08, 2016
I could convince the gullible that my Basque grandfather Don
Tirso de Irureta Goyena who practiced law in Manila in the beginning of the 20th
century was an amateur photographer. I could further convince the gullible that
Don Tirso had a fondness for musicians and in particular violinists. I could
state here that he photographed this young violinist in his home studio on M.H.
Del Pilar Street in Manila.
Or I could tell you that these pictures bring to mind Emily
Dickinson’s famous poem on the violin.
I decided on the latter ploy and so Googled “violin, Emily
Dickinson”. To my surprise this
was the first hit.
Monday, March 07, 2016
|Hilary Anne circa late 1980s|
A couple of days ago I made a concerted effort to embarrass
my granddaughter in front of her ballet friends between classes at an open
house at Granville Island’s Arts Umbrella. But it was to no avail. My granddaughter
Lauren will have a splendid future in milking people of their money should she
decide to play poker. She is unflappable. I showed a picture of her mother
as a baby and tried to pass it a picture of her. With that card-sharp
face of hers she simply said, “That’s not me. That’s my mother.”
In our recent move to our new home in Kitsilano I found lots
of stuff and threw a lot of it. But I kept a cache of colour negatives which I
may not have taken. I believe my oldest daughter Ale took them. We had moved to
our new house on Athlone Street from Burnaby. Two of these photographs were in
preparation for Hilary’s (Lauren’s mother) high school prom. I hired make-up
extraordinaire Inga Vollmer
to do her hair and makeup.
I wonder if Lauren’s mother will be as unflappable
she sees these pictures?