The Order of Generals
Saturday, August 05, 2017
Sometimes one must look backward, at backward countries
like my country of birth Argentina to see where another country, in this case
the USA, is headed towards.
Because I am 75 I live my present with a rosy look at
memories of my past as when the man with the horse driven cart brought us ice for
our house on Melián Street in a 1950 Buenos Aires. My first use of a phone was
in 1954 and that is when my mother bought a TV for our little house in Mexico
City. In those days girls wore dresses and boys short pants.
Shadows and glimpses of that past came to me last April
when I visited Buenos Aires with my wife Rosemary and my youngest granddaughter
It was fantastic to see open bookstores everywhere and
even open at midnight. It was a treat to see people dining everywhere in cafes
and restaurants at that hour. Buenos Aires is the bustling city of my past
where books are still published and people read newspapers on paper.
I would call these the benefits of a third-world country
where unfortunately WhatsApp is queen and iPhones king. And there is a Burger King at the end of the fashionable Calle Florida.
But there are other areas of my past memory that are
jarring and scary.
On June 28, 1966 I was part of a contingent of sailors,
soldiers, marine corps and Argentine aviation conscripts that surrounded the
Casa Rosada (the Argentine seat of the executive). I was holding a
turn-of-the-century Mauser in my Navy blues as winter was raging at that time
of the year. A loudspeaker warned the president, Arturo Illia to leave the premises
within an hour. He left in a cab 45 minutes later and not a shot was heard.
The military junta took over headed by General Juan Carlos
The reason for the coup was to bring order to the
That order brought many more juntas and generals and a
terrible period which Argentines call El Proceso
. A young navy lieutenant I
knew, and handsome he was
, later confessed to have slit (or ordered that action)
the stomachs of political prisoners while still alive so as to make sure they
would sink when pushed from a Argentine Navy helicopters over the River Plate.
The idea that the generals like John F. Kelly, James
Mattis, and H.R. McMaster can bring order to the White House and to the chaos
in the US is scary.
During the Falkland's War when I was working for Vancouver Magazine
its editor Malcolm Parry ordered me to write something about Argentina. Then he came up with the idea of taking my photograph with my medium format Mamiya RB-67. I had part of the uniform but no mauser, bayonet or cap. The cap, a military collector's WWII German Navy was easy. The rifle came from a friend of Parry's who ran a place called Lever Arms
. Because of the strict Canadian rules of transporting guns, Parry took my portrait at Lever Arms. The worst part about all this was that I had to get a haircut. The magazine appeared in May 1982. Since magazines were important in Vancouver in those days I wore sunglasses for a month.
Planting Rice Is Never Fun
Friday, August 04, 2017
Because my mother was born in Manila and her mother moved
from Spain to the Philippines when she was a young girl I was raised with a
Filipino heritage for most of my life. One very particularly fond memory was
watching my grandmother dance to the lyrics below with other Filipino wearing
while wearing those conical rice planting hats.
Planting rice is never fun
Bent from morn till the set of sun,
Cannot stand and cannot sit,
Cannot rest for a little bit.
Planting rice is no fun
Bent from morn till set of sun,
Cannot stand, cannot sit,
Cannot rest a little bit.
Oh, come friends and let us homeward take our way,
Now we rest until the dawn is gray,
Sleep, welcome sleep, we need to keep us strong
Morn brings another workday long.
Oh, my back is like to break,
Oh, my bones with the damp still ache,
And my legs are numb and set
For their long soaking on the wet.
It is hard to be so poor
And such sorrow and pain endure,
You must move your arms about,
Or you'll find you must go without.
The Penitent Whore
Thursday, August 03, 2017
|Rosa 'Mary Magdalene' August 3 2017|
De María Magdalena, personaje de los
1. f. Mujer penitente o visiblemente
arrepentida de sus pecados.
The above is from my online Real Academia Española
It translates: as penitent woman or visibly regretful of
For me one of the most important and wonderfully written
novels of the 20th century is José Saramago’s The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. Because in the novel Saramago
expands on the idea that Christ is cared for (sores from walking) by a woman
who anoints him with an expensive perfume and shares a bed with Him. What is extraordinary is that this
incident (just the anoiting) is one of the few that is recorded by all four gospels.
He suspects the
woman is a prostitute, not because he is particularly good at guessing people's
professions at first glance, besides, not that long ago he himself would have
been identified as a shepherd by the smell of goat, yet now everyone would say,
He's a fisherman, for he lost one smell only to replace it with another. The woman
reeks of perfume, but Jesus, who may be innocent, has learned certain facts of
life by watching the mating of goats and rams, he also has enough common sense
to know that just because a woman uses perfume, it does not necessarily mean
she is a whore.
According to Jesus Christ
José Saramago translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni
Saramago goes on to write about how Jesus stays for a
while with Mary of Magdala and she teaches him the reality of the birds and the
I have no idea if English Rose breeder David Austin did
more than just name a lovely rose Rosa ‘Mary Magdalene’ or he knows something
of Mary Magdalene and her importance in the Apocryphal Gospels.
There may be a couple of attributes of this rose that may
suggest he named the rose for a good reason. For one the rose emerges a blush
pink and with age turns to white- the floozy turned penitent? And secondly this rose smells of what the
English call myrrh. This is a complex
scent (most un-rose-like ) that resembles hints of Pernod, lemon and Magnolia
grandiflora soap. Many who like roses
hate the smell as they say it is medicinal. I disagree and I love the scent and
more important Mary Magdalene is one of the strongest myrrh-perfumed English
Helianthus annuus 'Red Star'
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
|Helianthus annuus 'Red Star' August 1 2017|
Sometimes ordinary plants do extraordinary things. My daughter Alexandra who lives in Lilloet brings us small beginning sunflower plants. It is now a tradition that has happened for a few years. One of her plants on its own accord has sported into what you see here. So I have given it the name Helianthus annuus
Spent Sexual Parts
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
of a Magnolia grandiflora
'Alta' July 31 2017.
Art Bergmann - Remember His Name
Monday, July 31, 2017
file of negatives is not what many who might peek at my blog every once in a
while think it is.
file contains portraits I have taken since the late 70s of Art Bergmann. In many ways
I have begun to understand that we have a couple of things in common. A third
one is debatable.
Bergmann and yours truly have remained faithful to one woman (His Sherri, my
Rosemary). Both of us have had long careers where we have managed not to
disappear into oblivion.
cannot match Bergmann (my debatable from above) is that my love of photography
does not compare to his extreme passion for what he does. His passion may have
been compromised a few times (if not many) by substance abuse. But from his
fresh hell (as he might say and has) he has emerged somehow untouched and the
example I will place here three videos (not one of his earliest which is
available if you look for it). One is a video in which Bergmann incorporates
his wedding to Sherri in Mexico. It is this one.
Then there is a wildly
dissonant version of one my fave Bergmann tunes, Remember Her Name, at the Wise
Hall. I was present, back stage for that performance.
|Art Bergmann backstage at the Wise Hall with Stephen Drake|
The third one, quite
recent, shows him playing A Town Called Mean on acoustic guitar with Paul Rigby and he may be confused (am I? I am
not sure) as a folk singer.
consider that this man may have been playing a purist’s punk style by 1975 and
then you listen A Town Called Mean you have at least a 40 year career where he
has not banged on the old drum but emerged every time with something new. And at all times he has not sold himself to any industry and remained faithfully himself (as he almost said once).
people that I am taking some of the best photographs of my life right now. I
get no reaction. But at the very least I have a role model. His name is Art
For anybody who might not understand that second image, I used a Widelux swivel lens panoramic with very fast film and counted on the mirror's help.
Helen of Terpsichore
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
As a boy before the beginning of the mid-20th century I had heroes
who were either in comic books or on the radio. So there was, the Llanero
(the Lone Ranger), Roy Rodgers,
Gene Autrey, and Tarzan
(on the radio).
must have learned in school about the ancient Greeks because my other hero was
In 1956 I saw Robert Wise’s Helen of Troy and fell in love
with the lovely Italian woman Rossana Podestà who played Helen. I particularly liked
Stanley Baker’s Achilles.
Now at age 75 I can assert that I have read the Odyssey and
the Illiad a couple of times.
Inspecting some of my files today I noticed the file
called Christine Chipperfield. I wrote about her here
In the mid-80s she was
on my top 10 list of one of the most beautiful women of Vancouver. I met up
with her in 1995 when she was the cover photograph for an article in the
Georgia Straight of her battle with ICBC over a car accident that had crippled
her back and she was in constant pain.
When I looked the pictures today I noticed her hair and I
immediately thought of Helen of Troy having gone back to Greece with her husband
Menelaus (who had forgiven her for escapade with Paris) and aging into an even
more beautiful woman perhaps unleashing another fleet of ships.
For the cover of the Georgia Straight I worked hard because the editor Charles Campbell liked his photographers to try stuff that was different. In my studio I photographed Chipperfield with next-to-no makeup with a ring flash. I took 9 shots and I picked one where she was looking up (heroically or tragically, you decide). I then made a b+w lith film transparency that was 5x7 inches in size. I glued its corners to my living room window and re-photographed it with the same medium format camera (a Mamiya RB-67) so that the vegetation, sky and houses of my front garden would be rendered as blurs. The reason why this contact sheet scan is blue is that I improperly fixed (or did not wash the negatives enough) so they have a pink/brown town that reverses to blue when I scan it.
In an age before I even knew the existence of Photoshop it was elegant to try stuff that nobody had tried before. I used the same treatment of a portrait I had taken of Robertson Davies
A Jorge Luís Borges poem that mentions Helen of Troy
(alas only in Spanish)