Beans & Tortillas
Saturday, August 26, 2017
My eating habits are a product of my upbringing in Buenos
Aires. As a young boy I knew enough to accept that as Roman Catholics we could
not eat meat (a tough thing in Argentina) on Fridays. So my mother had our
live-in housekeeper Mercedes Bazaldúa cook either pejerrey (silverside fish) or
merlusa (hake). Mercedes usually cooked them breaded. Neither of these fish are
fishy. If anything with a bit of lemon and salt that’s about all you taste.
My mother used that old trick of attempting to feed me tuna
fish saying it was just like chicken. It wasn’t and I could always smell it
when she tried to hide it in some dish.
Seafood including shrimp was an expensive commodity so I
never ate it. It was an unpleasant surprise to suddenly be in Mexico City and
be exposed to fishy fish, including sardines and (ugh) anchovies.
Now in Vancouver I will eat scallops, shrimp, red snapper
and barbecued salmon. That is only a slight improvement according to my
Rosemary and two daughters.
Rosemary handles everything important in our life except for
the cooking. I am the cook. This is a tough job as Rosemary eats “como un pajarito”. Of late because of our advanced age into the
70s we go on binges and then we will no longer eat again those faves.
A year and a half ago we had a house warming and I ordered
many boxes of very good pizza from a store on West Broadway near MacDonald. I
have not returned since. Rosemary and I used to gobble up Mars Bars and
Butterfingers. Those have been gone for some years.
Rosemary was most keen on Manila mangoes. Now the desire for
them is almost controlled.
In our Athlone house I would get into bed in the evening
with a plate of Gruyere cheese dabbed with good mustard. I would pass through
my mind the savvy words of Les Wiseman, “Whatever you eat in the evening will
be with you in the morning.”
Finally the heavy move from Athlone to Kits had me go from
the first hole in my belt to my fourth.
I feel much better.
Part of this has to do with my daughter Hilary who will be
46 this December.
She manages the wellness department of the new Burquitlam
Safeway on North Road. She gives talks
on the subject every couple of weeks on Saturdays at 2. I have been learning
We now use coconut or avocado oil with a spare use of a good
Spanish olive oil. We no longer use grape seed or Mazola and God forbid canola!
Thanks to Hilary’s advice we eat a healthy diet and feel
better for it.
This is a long way from an incident many years ago at the
plush St.Francis Hotel in San Francisco. We had driven to the city from Mexico
City in our VW Beetle. We taught English at Camino Real Hotels in Mexico City
so we had a deep discount at the St. Francis. Hilary who was around 3 was
screaming. Our waiter in a tuxedo approached our table and asked, “How can I
help the little lady?” My Rosemary answered, “Only if you have beans and
Bless you Hilary.
That Pingüino in the Arctic
Friday, August 25, 2017
|Ivanova & Juan Manuel Sánchez|
In the 20th century my world included Kodak, Ektachrome,
Perutz, Adox, Ferrania, Agfa, Portriga; Mirandas, Konicas, and Steinheil lenses. I admired Pontiacs, Borgwards, Motorola radios, Shure
cartridges and jazz groups I loved whose members were all alive.
It may have ended for me when Ahmad Jamal came to rent a car
at Tilden Rent-A-Car on Alberni Street. I asked him if he was ever going to
switch to an electric piano. He swore he never would.
For me the beginning of the slide in my life began some
years ago when J.J. Johnson came to the Vancouver Jazz Festival. Jazz etiquette
would have dictated that as the eldest statesman trombonist that he was he
should play last. This would of course then include an encore. The powers that
be of the festival put singer Cassandra Wilson last.
Some years later I went to the Iridium Club in New York City
and I was able to invite Johnson and bassist Rufus Reid for a chat over drinks.
With a smile he did admit having been miffed at the Vancouver Jazz Festival. A
few years later having been diagnosed with a painful and terminal cancer
Johnson shot himself.
I felt devastated by this as he was a man of elegance,
brilliance and taste.
Elegance, brilliance and taste seem to be a rarity in my
world of 2017.
I constantly tell my wife and friends what architect Abraham
Rogatnick used to tell me a couple of years before he died (he opted not to
pursue treatment of his prostate cancer), “I am not long for this world and I
am glad of it.”
As one’s world fades and vanishes that word of the 60s, alienation,
comes back to haunt me. I feel alienated in my present world.
My father smoked as did my mother. By the time I was 20 I
was putting Edgeworth tobacco in my pipe. It may have been about 25 years ago
where I suddenly got the idea that smoking was stupid. I believe I stopped
because I lost interest.
|Tannia at the Arch|
This did not prevent me from taking the photograph of the
lovely woman smoking in bed. It was many years ago in some cheap hotel in Texas where I
found a sign in my room that indicated, “If you smoke in bed the ashes that
fall on the floor may be your own.”
So photographs of anybody smoking are verboten as are films that
show noir-like women doing it.
As a 75 year-old man who was raised with American Westerns
in which charging US Cavalry always saved the day, I believe I could never
again see any of them with people who are not my contemporaries. Would
Stagecoach pass muster? Would any films with John Wayne get a green light these
days? Would the stories of the American Civil War by Ambrose
Bierce be allowed in school?
My world is one that is shrinking and I worry how my
granddaughters will manage in this new world that I do not see as a brave one
but as a cautious one.
The other photograph here shows my former artist friend
(he died two years ago in Buenos Aires) Juan Manuel Sánchez sketching Ivanova
who was not wearing anything. For Sánchez this was a perfectly natural
endeavour. He told me it would be the same for me. I am not sure. But soon I
will no longer have to be concerned as the asymptote will finally touch the y-axis.
Before Sánchez returned to Buenos Aires he told me, "I feel like a penguin in the Arctic." I understood then and I understand now.
Art Nuko - He Told Us So
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Malcolm Parry as editor of Vancouver Magazine from June 1974 to December 1987 and August 1989 to September 1990 had the door to his office open at all times. People
from everywhere, be they painters, politicians, thugs, wrestlers, writers,
ladies of the night, etc and etc were ushered in with no, “Do you have an
appointment to see M Parry?”
Because in those days the magazine was thick with
editorial paid by advertising there were many photographers and illustrators
One of them was Carl Chaplin who was a master of the air
brush. Because of my receding neurons (none are being replaced) my memory for
the man is spotty.
He often talked on how we were going to be soon
obliterated by nuclear bombs. He told us (at the magazine) that he was going to
go to the Yukon Territory and live in an underground bunker. Around 1986 he was
known as Art Nuko because he published a series of postcards featuring major
cities (in brilliant, lurid colour) with an atomic bomb mushroom about to devastate
I have one postcard for which I paid $1.00. His webpage
will not open so I wonder if he is alive or perhaps smiling in his northern
bunker as we all wonder if President Trump is going to press a button.
I called up Thor Froslev at the Brackendale Art Gallery
and he told me Chaplin is alive and well and living in Chase, BC.
My Rosemary - The Plant Snob
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
|Hibiscus trionum August 23 2017|
My mother was a snob. She often would say to me in her
precise Castilian, “Hay poca gente fina
como nosotros.” This roughly translates as, “There are few as refined people as we are.”
When I married Rosemary my mother instantly loved her.
Perhaps it was because she was a quiet and introspective Canadian who happened to
also speak Spanish and French. With her wonderful slim body Rosemary always
I have no idea how a person not related by blood to another
could possibly inherit from her. And Rosemary did. Like my mother Rosemary has
always had beautiful legs. Rosemary also inherited my mother’s ability to
handle money under a strict budget.
But best of all like my mother, my Rosemary is a snob. In
particular she is a plant snob.
For many years while we gardened in our Kerrisdale home,
she eschewed plants that did not have blue or white flowers. It wasn’t until
around 1992 that she fell for my Rosa ‘Westerland’
(she of synthetic apricot jam scent). Westerland was and is a brilliant orange!
|Hosta 'Marilyn' August 20 2017|
A few years later as houses were being torn down right and left Rosemary and I
would “liberate” plants in the middle of the night equipped with a wheelbarrow,
a spade and a flashlight. One such liberation was a rose that came from the
nearby street of Cartier so we called the rose (that had yet to bloom) Rosa ‘Cartier’.
It bloomed a lurid orange/red. When Select Roses Brad Jalbert visited our
garden he looked at the red/orange wonder and said, “I never would have thought
that you and Rosemary would have Rosa ‘All that Jazz’ in your garden." Rosemary
came to love those two orange roses and her snobbishness declined a tad.
For years we had two different and small hibiscus trees that were both
blue. She would have never tolerated the red Hibiscus sabdariffay from
which its sepals contribute to make the wonderful drink (served ice cold) Agua
de Jamaica that is so popular in Mexico at children’s birthday parties.
But here we have my snobbish wife purchasing a small
Hibiscus trionum which has creamy yellow flowers. What is most unusual is that
the new flowers open in the morning and are long gone by the next. The plant
has the delightful popular name of Flower-of-an-hour.
Because or Kitsilano garden is small I have more time and
less area to observe my plants. One in particular is a little gold (yellow or
chartreuse, take your pick) called Hosta ‘Marilyn’.
|Hosta 'Marilyn' August 20 2017|
When our granddaughter Rebecca accompanied us to a hosta
convention in Washington DC (she was 8) we were taking a rapid transit train.
In our car was a woman that we recognized as being a person who was at that
convention. To brag Rebecca told the woman, "My grandfather has Hosta ‘ June’.
The woman countered with, “I have Hosta ‘Emily Dickinson’. From there to our
delighted horror the two went after each other with the names of female hostas,
Hosta ‘Janet’and Hosta ‘Marilyn’ and so on.
In the big garden Hosta 'Marilyn' was almost invisible in
little sun and surrounded by big plants. Here in Kits she is glorious in her
pot. Just a few days ago I spotted her elegant flowers.
A Pair of Good Razors & No Wedding Shoes
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Maxwell Davies, Peter
Miss Donnithorne's Maggot (1974)
Duration: 32 minutes
Music-theatre work for mezzo-soprano and ensemble
Text by Randolph Stow
football rattle/SD/bell tree/BD and cym with foot pedal/sandpaper/ glass wind
chimes/police whistle/bosun's whistle/chamois leather rubbed on glass/balloon
to pop/thunder sheet(tam-t)/glsp/marimba/crot
-pft(=balloon)-vln.vlc-4metronomes set in motion by the players.
On Sunday I attended a concert which was part of this
year’s Blueridge Chamber Music Festival. The one in question was a repeat
(first last week at the Orpheum Annex) called Let Them Eat Cake
soprano Dorothea Hayley and a small ensemble, Paolo Bortolussi, flute, Jenny Jonquil,
clarinet, Jasper Wood, violin, Rebecca Wenham (she of the baroque red hair),
cello, Jeremy Chalk, piano, Manuel Laufer, piano and Katie Rife, percussion.
The festival is co-produced by Dorothea (Dory) Haley and pianist Alejandro (my tocayo)
|Rebecca Wenham, Dorothea Haley & Diana Park|
The first part of the program was a palate cleanser before
the big meal. It was Joseph Haydn’s Adianna a Naxos Hob.XXVlb:2
. Haley was
accompanied by Jeremy Chaulk on piano. I found this wonderful
stuff on the
composition. Who would have known that it involved a couple of sharp razors?
The second work, Sir Maxwell Davies’ Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot
is a rare (from the point of view of this
person and short opera that
involves lots of acting and a few four letter words here and there including
. The work if you happen to be curious enough to read the above-mentioned
scoring included balloons and two (not four, perhaps to save a tad of money, but there could have been two more. From my vantage point I saw two)
metronomes.The work is about a real woman, Eliza Donnithorne who was born in South Africa but lived in Australia in the 19th century. It seems she was jilted by a British naval captain. Scholars are pretty sure Miss Donnithorne was the inspiration for Charles Dickens' Miss Havisham
in Great Expectations
To add to the drama of the jilted and now crazy spinster
was a dress designed by Diane Park, who also designed the dress for the Haydn. We had a tough time getting into the bathroom for the three shot. The dress hoop could not go through the door so Haley had to flip it up.
It is not often that one gets to listen to a modern opera
and much less sung in its original English.
When Haley came to my studio last week to pose for some
portraits she was apologetic about the fact that the concert was going to be
held at a church.
With the Queen Elizabeth a white elephant and the Orpheum
perhaps on its way in the same direction small venues are the future of music
in our city. Thanks to intelligent programming Matthew White of Early Music
Vancuver is able to fill the Chan Centre at least three times a year. It is the
small venue like the Orpheum Annex and Pyatt Hall
plus all those churches (in
this case the lovely modern Mount Seymour United Church in North Van) that save
the day for small ensembles who do their damn best to bring us stuff to push us
into an awareness the culture in small packages can be as satisfying as the big
Crazy Over Love
Two (almost) crazy women
A New Project For 2018
Monday, August 21, 2017
|Juan Manuel Sánchez & Nora Patrich|
Luke 4:24 -King James Version
And he said, Verily
I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
My grandmother often said it in Spanish, “Nadie es profeta en su tierra.”
Today I was contacted by the Georgia Straight and asked
if I was going to be available for my yearly (only one of) contribution as the
photographer for the Straight’s Fall Art’s Preview. I have been doing this for
at least 10 years.
I looked at my Rosemary and she nodded, “No.” At one time
when I had to do awful retirement ceremonies for Canadian Pacific Limited (held
at the Terminal City Club) I would look to her and her expression was a damning
one that said, “We need the money. You go.”
That is no longer the case. But it still hurts. It all
started with the debacle of magazines and newspapers going under and the
moribund state of journalism in Vancouver. Then I let go of my studio on
Granville and Robson as money coming in was less than money going out (a
classic case of the leaky tank problem). The phone stopped ringing and soon I
was aware that my career was as dead as that of DVD stores.
I held on to the Straight job with the idea that it made
me at the very least minutely relevant. But today I finally figured out
relevance, legacy and having a memorial park bench are three things I do not
need for contentment and perhaps (who knows?) happiness.
I believe that after having worked with some of the best
art directors of the magazine world not only in Canada but abroad that I am now
a much better photographer than ever. But my kind of skill is not needed. At
one time the Globe & Mail would contact me a week ahead to photograph some
visiting luminary to our city. This, gave me time to research and plan my
shoot. I compared notes with the then arts reporter Christopher Dafoe. We would
then tackle the assignment together.
Now those people do not come. They opt for phoners or
email interviews from LA and send a handout photograph. My kind of style is
The secret for survival in our beautiful city is to never
become bitter. If you are bitter you end up blaming others.
The secret (my secret and it is free for the taking) is
to continue with what one does best in some different way.
Paradoxically my different way is to go back to my roots
at around 2000 when I began exhibiting my photographs in local art galleries. I
did that for 10 years and my Rosemary complained of the framing expenses. But
she backed me up otherwise in an uncritical silence. Bless her.
Now my next project will be a joint show with Argentine
artist Nora Patrich which will be in a lovely downtown gallery in Buenos Aires
called Galería Vermeer.
The owner of the gallery, Enrique Scheishon is below centre, with artists Alfredo Plank and Juan Manuel Sánchez A lot of the work will include joint colaboraciones and individual stuff rich in eroticism. This is stuff I cannot place in my blog or otherwise show in any gallery in this city. It will be a relief to exhibit in a third world country's city, Buenos Aires (at least 15 million souls), where there is a tad more liberlism in how they view the arts. The word innapropriate is yet to enter their lexicon.
|Alfredo Plank, Enrique Scheinsohn, Juan Manuel Sánchez|
The show will combine our individual work and what we
called and called “trabajos conjuntos”
. For quite a few
years Patrich, her husband Juan Manuél Sanchéz and I worked on projects where
we would combine drawings, sketches and photographs on subjects that centered
on our longing for the nostalgic times of our pasts.
|Nora Patrich, Roxana & Alex|
Patrich will be in town, visiting from Buenos Aires where she now lives, this Saturday. On our agenda is
to look through hundreds of photographs (postcard sized) she took of our
colaborations with lovely models (of both sexes) in my studio, and other
locations. I must admit that I am a bit embarrassed about them as most of the
pictures have my rear end most visible as I stand behind my medium format camera. We
are going to scan the best and they will be on a computer for our opening in
August/September 2018 showing two artists and this photographer working.
Juan Manuel Sánchez died on October 6, 2016. I would
equate him as an artist of the calibre (in our Canada) Jack Shadbolt but would
add that Sánchez was an influential member of the Grupo Espartaco
, artists who
protested the governments of repression of Argentine military juntas through
their art and with a rich output of murals.
|Juan Manuel Sánchez 2016|
It is irrelevant if I sell anything. What is important is
that I am returning to my place of birth and perhaps both St. Luke and my
grandmother are wrong.