Randy Rampage- A Passionate Gentle Soul
Saturday, December 17, 2016
It was almost exactly around 1978, when I was 36 years old
that I discovered that beyond Bach and Vivaldi, Miles Davis and Gerry Mulligan
there was something called Punk Rock. It happened at a Vancouver, BC dive
called the Smilin’Budha. The band that removed the scales from my eyes and the
wax from my ears was a band called the K-Tels with an electrifying guitar player called Art Bergmann
. From the K-Tels I explored other Vancouver punk bands. My
two faves were D.O.A.
and The Subhumans.
D.O.A. besides its lead singer, Joey Shithead featured an
astounding guitar player, Dave Gregg
, and a bass player who defied gravity
called Randy Rampage.
Now we all know that rock ‘n’ roll like photography only
pays good money to a few in some upper stratosphere of fame. I often wondered
why Art Bergmann had fantastic biceps and Randy Rampage looked tough in his
leather jacket and motorcycle.
L to R
Sonny Dean, Grant McDonagh, Zippy Pinhead, Doug
Donut, Chris Walter, Lynn (McDonagh) Werner, Randy Rampage, Susanne
Tabata, John Tanner
While shooting photographs for Canadian Pacific Limited
in the 80s I found out that many in rail maintenance crews were Hells Angels. I
often had to ask out loud, “I am going to take some photographs now. If you are
wanted by the police please stay out of it.”
Likewise honest punk musicians had day jobs. Bergmann
nurtured and improved his biceps by digging ditches; Rampage worked that tough
zone of Vancouver’s port as a longshoreman.
Besides doing an honest day’s work Rampage and Bergmann
share a gentleness that belies their rough outer shell. And yet I know that I
could walk the darkest and most terrible back alleys of the Vancouver Downtown
Eastside with Rampage and nobody would touch us.
To this day I can remember and savour those nights when I
was up front in very loud circumstances watching Art Bergmann, the Subhumans
and D.O.A. Watching Rampage jump and play his (I believe indestructible bass).
The electricity in the air was no less so than listening to a cellist play Bach’s
Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.
Passion may come in different disguises but in the end
passion is passion.
|Book signing at Grant McDonagh's Zulu Records on 4th Avenue|
Whenever I decide about buying a book I go to the last
page (except of course with mystery books). In Rampage’s I Survived D.O.A. written by dictating to
prolific writer Chris Walter (who looks like Patrick Stewart’s double with the
addition of tattoos).
This is what I found:
Rock n’roll will
never die, but everything exciting is over and done. Myself, I listen mostly to
classical stuff these days. I’m really into Bach and Vivaldi – dudes like that.
You just can’t beat that shit. Those old masters were fucking geniuses.
Now if I can introduce Rampage to Tarquinio Merula, Miles
Davis & Gerry Mulligan…
Friday, December 16, 2016
noun: junket; plural noun: junkets
1. a dish of sweetened and flavoured curds of milk, often served with fruit.
an extravagant trip or celebration, in particular one enjoyed by a government official at public expense.
Thanks to Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII (one Italian
in cahoots with a Roman) we have a calendar in which in December we all reflect
on the past year and think of the future one.
Becasuse I am 74 and many of my younger contemporaries are
dying of known and unknown diseases I think a lot about what my friend Abraham
Rogatnick used to tell me when he was ailing with arthritis and prostate cancer
in his early 80s, “I am not long for this world and I am glad of it.”
I concur and in this coming AT 2017 (Anno Trump) I feel that
while I live in the horror and an anticipation of terrible events with that man
in charge I find that comfort that soon it will mean nothing to me. I worry a
bit about my daughters and granddaughter but at least there is the fact that
they live in Canada and perhaps things for them will not be as bad.
I watch those who like me (I wanted to and became one)
wish to make money from photography. I am saddened by their shrunken
possibility and I would give them the advice that plumbing might be a better
profession to pursue.
While not exactly patting myself on the back (I had
little to do with that good fortune that came my way) I realize that I lived a
time when photography was a legitimate and paying profession. It was a
profession fuelled by the money that magazines and newspapers made before their
bottom fell out in this 21st century. This money enabled these
periodicals to second me to exotic locations around the world. The only
commitment on my part was that I had to produce useable images. We called some of these trips in which everything was paid for as junkets.
As the 20th crept towards the 21st
stock photography killed the paid trips.
Today (December 16, 2016 I looked into my Yugoslavia files.
I went to Yugoslavia for Vancouver Magazine and a few travel magazines with a
then prolific travel writer called Gary Marchant. In fact there were just a few
places around the world (and it did not include Antarctica as he had been
there) where he had not gone for pay. We flew from Toronto, first class (even
though Yugoslavia was nominally a communist and thus classless society) in
Yugoslavia Airlines. True first class is when you are drinking Champagne before
you take off and you are drinking the same when you are landing.
I am enclosing three special photographs here of a
lifestyle that did not pass me by. I lived it and I am glad for it.
Gary Marchant took the snap at a ferry in Split that was
taking us to Hvar. I remember that it was 8 in the morning and a few minutes
before we even left both of us were drinking Heinekens.
The photograph of Tito for me is a warning of what
celebrity cult is doing to world leaders and that includes that man down south,
R.d. Cane & Betty Bathory Ring Flashed For Me
Thursday, December 15, 2016
I first met Michael R., A.K.A. R.d. Cane in the late 70s at
the CBC. He was a young CBC PA who specialized at the time in huge CBC variety
shows that brought all kinds of celebrities into Vancouver. He was low key and
friendly so he had many friends and was respected even if he was a young guy.
I have re-connected most recently (you do the math). He now
wears a beard and besides working on videos in LA and New York he takes his
unassuming Sony digital camera out to the streets and photographs what he
likes. He seems to like some of the edgy inhabitants of our city. As an example
in these pictures which I took today December 14, 2016 they include his latest
friend Betty Bathory who has more metal in her lips that I do in my belt
buckle. But she is not scary in the least and she smiles often.
I took exactly three photographs today after having a
longish reconnect talk of the good old times when the CBC was hugely relevant
to Vancouver and to Canada.
For these shots I used my Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD loaded with an
old Polaroid back. I used two sadly discontinued instant films by Fuji. One is
their 100 ISO colour and the other their remarkable 3200 ISO B+W. I scanned the
prints but forgot to scan the last one where R.d. is taking a picture of Betty.
For the three photographs I used a large ring-flash with my RB and a 90mm lens
(a normal lens in this 6x7cm format). I purposely placed the camera crooked so
that the lens would “see” the edge of the ring flash.
The odd looking
photographs are the parts of the instant film that you peel (and we idiots used
to throw away). I rapidly air dry them with a hair dryer and then after
scanning them I reverse them in Photoshop. I then play around with contrast
levels until I get the right look.
I look forward to taking more pictures of Cane with more of
his unusual friends.
And if you look here
you will find out that even around
1980 he was already a lady’s man. Teresa Brown was one of his girlfriends whom
I happened to photograph.
Teresa Brown -- Discovered - Revisited
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Teresa Brown had one of the most arresting faces I ever saw.
Until a couple of days ago (I am writing this December 13, 2016) I had long
forgotten her name. In fact I had lost the negatives. I could not find them
perhaps because of the forgotten name. But I did remember that I had blogged
about her some years ago. I could not find the blog because I did not known her
name and I had no further references except that I might have photographed her in
West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park
. In my Blogger blog search engine (it is
excellent, Lighthouse Park did not bring up her blog.
I have never understood how a painter can produce a magnum
opus and then see it sold to someone. We photographers (or at least this one)
value our original negatives and slides. The loss of negatives is traumatic.
And more so, as tomorrow December 14 I am going to
photograph her ex beau from 30 years ago (when I took the photographs of Teresa
Brown). Her beau, a former PA at the CBC in the late 70s and early 80s now goes
by the name of R.d. Cane. Hew is a very good photographer. He has a large beard and he is coming with a young
friend with very short hair called Ripley. I wanted to show Cane those
In a conversation Cane told me that the woman’s name was
Teresa Brown. That did not help but yesterday December12th when I went to
Vancouver’s Granville Island to pick up my youngest granddaughter Lauren, 14,
from her ballet and modern dance class I remembered.
In the very early 80s I was the stills photographer for a
CBC drama show that was being shot in a lovely place called Egmont in BC. My
shoots happened on weekends during a long summer. The show featured a de
Havilland Beaver which would pick me up Friday afternoon and bring me back
Sunday evening. In one of those returns I spotted what I thought was a hallucination.
It was a Greek temple on a rocky promontory in West Vancouver. I asked the
pilot who told me it was called Parthenon Place. A very rich Greek business man
had built the small replica of the Parthenon for his homesick wife.
And it was there where I photographed Teresa Brown. I
punched in Parthenon Place and found this
Now Parthenon Place is long gone and probably a
multi-million mansion now sits there. But it existed and the proof can be seen
in my pictures and another blog here
I thought I would give Teresa a second go-around and I
re-scanned and re-interpreted them.
Tomorrow, when Cane and Ripley show up I will show them
this. As for Teresa Brown we have no idea where she might be. I remember that I used a Pentax Spotmatic and a 20mm lens. The film was Kodak S0 115 which had an extended red sensitivity which made skin especially luminous.
April in December
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
In 1975 when my wife, two daughters and I moved from Mexico
City to Vancouver it was a shocking new territory for us. We adjusted little by
little to life here.
Because we had little money we rented a town house in the
Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. It had a large basement with a garage. I converted
the basement garage into a studio and the rest of the it into a very nice dark
room. In Mexico I had a darkroom in a bathroom. Here I had a darkroom with a
To no avail was I able to find a job as a photographer so
for a couple of years I worked at Tilden Rent-a-Car on Alberni Street in
A Filipino friend told me that Vancouver had a clothing
optional beach called Wreck Beach by the University of British Columbia. I
decided to explore it.
My wife did not approve of the fact that I seemed to waste
my spare time at the beach in the summer. I could not explain to her that my
menial job with its revolving shifts left we wasted.
It was in Wreck Beach that I discovered a liking to taking
pictures of unclothed women. I watched photographers do it and how their models
were willing subjects.
I was befriended by a few souls who said they lived in a
nearby area called Kitsilano. They told me this is where Vancouver’s hippies
hung out. In fact there was a hippy publication called the Georgia Straight
that had its headquarters on 4th Avenue which was the core area for
hippies who liked to drink their red zinger tea at the Soft Rock Café.
My first willing subject for the kind of photography I was
keen on was a lovely woman called April. I took many photographs of her and I
must stress here that I had no idea of what I was doing. I used my screw mount
Pentaxes loaded with Kodak B+W infrared film or with a then experimental and
very sharp Kodak b+w film (designed for solar flare photography) called Special
What you see here is a scan of three frames from a
contact sheet in which I used that infrared film. The reason for my placing it
here is that I have to mention how time has a way of becoming a loop.
My youngest daughter, her husband and two daughters have
moved to Burnaby and this 74 year-old man and his Rosemary are now living in
Kitsilano. I have Kodak B+W Infrared Film in my fridge. I wonder where April is
April in October at the Safeway counter
The Rapid Demise of Conceptual Portraiture
Monday, December 12, 2016
In the late 70s I asked Vancouver photographer (but an
American) James La Bounty what he did. He looked at me (and because he is tall) it seemed his
nose was up there in the air when he answered, “I do conceptual portraiture.” I
thought he was a superior type out to belittle me. I was completely wrong.
James La Bounty
was the first magazine photographer to bring
the crooked horizon (called the Dutch Tilt) into popularity.
And if some guy with a heavy DSLR hanging from his or her
neck were to ask me what I do I would answer exactly like La Bounty.
In this 21st century I see a decline in
original portrait photography that has the stamp of a particular photographer’s
style. I see too much point and shoot and very little thinking of the
possibilities before clicking.
In the case of author Gail Anderson-Dargatz I used
conceptual photography to hide the fact that at the time she was a tad heavy.
The Canadian National newspaper The Globe
had hired me to take her portrait for an interview essay by my now
friend Christopher Dafoe
. Dafoe was the arts reporter for the Globe, a very
fine writer who saw what was happening in journalism. A few years later he went
back to university and is now a very good lawyer in Vancouver.
The Globe & Mail in those days had stories prepared
in such a way that I was given a few days for shooting plus having my 6x7 cm
Ektachromes processed and then scanned to send to Toronto by what I sort of
understood to be called a cable modem!
I had a friend who had beehives and I thought the idea of
using them in my photograph would be just right for the Anderson-Dargatz’s
novel called A Recipe for Bees.
I photographed her with b+w film with heavy shadows on
one side in a cropped in the camera photograph. I then made an 8x10 print. I
went to my friend’s beehives. He suggested we first wear protective clothing.
He further suggested we slap some honey on the photograph. I then took the
picture with my Mamiya RB-67 loaded with Ektachrome.
The Photographer Photographed
Sunday, December 11, 2016
|Photograph - Nora Patrich|
photographer I do not understand these selfie times. I hate having my own
photograph taken but when I do allow it I find it almost liberating not having
to think how to compose the photograph. I just sit there but I am willing to
take the instructions of the photographer. I do enjoy including myself sometimes when my subjects look into a mirror.
early 90s I received a phone call from friend writer William Gibson. He was all
excited about a porn magazine called Future Sex. He told me that few could
object to it at the editor was a woman and that her name was Lisa Palac. It
seems that her boyfriend was the editor of a well regarded mens’style magazine.
In short order I sold a portrait of Gibson for Issue 4 of the magazine for a story called Test Dicking the
Force Feedback Vagina. I thought that would be my first and last contribution
to a porn magazine. I received a phone call from Palac telling me that Gibson
had informed her of my penchant for erotic photographs. She asked me to submit
one. So, yes I have contributed twice (Issue 5) for that short-lived porn
|Future Sex - Issue 5|
As I get
older I have not changed my focus on what I photograph. There is rarely a what and most often it is a who. My game is the photography of
lived in Canada since 1975 and because of it I find that I am politically
correct when I can and when I shoot I think of the possible repercussions of my
click. As an
example of this Canadian attitude I can cite my trips to my native city of
Buenos Aires and arguing with my nephews as to why there are still ads for
toothpaste featuring young women in bikinis. The scoff at this and question my
2000 I participated in a three-person show featuring the female nude. Unlike
the other two photographers my photographs showed the faces of the women. In
Vancouver there is a tradition (I am ambivalent on it) of having a guest book
for comments. I received several, “Thank you for showing us the faces.” It
seems that many of the women of the time objected to the idea of objectifying a
woman’s body by showing parts.
the fierce advent of the internet and social media posting a nude on line and
showing a face can have dire consequences. In the past those nudes ended up as
contact sheets, slides or negatives in a file in a dark corner of the
photographer’s home. That is now history although as I write this I am surrounded
by many all-metal and old-fashioned file cabinets full of the photographic
output of my life.
|Photograph - Juan Manuel Sánchez|
curiously thought of how as human beings we are wired for certain tendencies.
Our built-in self-preservation makes suicide a difficult task for just about
anybody. One must think what will push someone into that corner. The same goes
with the idea of a man my age, 74, to look at anybody under 20 with Jimmy
Carter’s lust in my heart. The body rebels on that.
this age of mine I am interested in the faces and bodies of women much older
and closer to my own. It must be built-in, I believe.
I have as a
man never understood fully man’s (as in the male of the human species) our
almost obsession with a woman’s breasts and particularly with the empty space
between them. I have cited before in other blogs that American photographer
Bert Stern pioneered a special lighting combination to enhance cleavage for
|With Juan Manuel Sánchez - Photograph - Nora Patrich|
never understood and more so now social media’s disapproval in showing female
nipples while ignoring that of the male’s.I have
explained before my suspicion that many men (as many as women) have or not have
sensitivity in that area.I have a Vancouver friend, Vince Hemingson who places photographs of undraped women in Facebook and has a special tool he invented that whisks away those nasty nipples.
|Acapulco, Guerrero - Photograph taken by Acapulco Chief of the Federal Police Licenciado Felipe Ferrer Junco|
down to the paises bajos (the Lower
Countries) as my grandmother called that body area below the belt I must
confess that I don’t think I am the only man (as in the male of the species but
at the same time understanding that a gay man may object) who sees the male
sexual organ as something lacking in total beauty.
healthy male who admires beauty and elegance I think that one of the most
beautiful objects is the ancient Chinese spoon. When I look at one now, I think
that a Swedish designer might have gone back in time to create that marvelous
streamlined shape. I think of the same of the female nether parts. I think that
when swimming under water the woman presents a sleeker, less prone to water resistance
than a man, particularly if the woman in question is daintily equipped above