Leonard George & the Flying Saucer
Saturday, November 11, 2017
|Leonard George - 1995|
In 1995 I photographed Leonard George
a many faceted gentleman who was a psychologist
and, a lot of other things.
In those days editors sent me the manuscripts either by fax
or by courier. In the manuscript I read that Mr. George had seen a flying
saucer in his youth. I decided then that one of my photographs for the Georgia
Straight would include a flying saucer in some way. At the time (and especially
now) there was a very active film industry in Vancouver. I went to William F.
White and found a stamped out metal gobo (go between in film lingo) that
featured a flying saucer.
Around 1958 when I was a 9th grader at St. Edward’s
High School in Austin, Texas I was a real geek. I believed in flying saucers so
I made (from a magazine article) a flying saucer spotter. It involved buying a
good compass and putting to contacts on either side of North. These contacts
were connected to a buzzer and battery. When you had the compass pointing North
any object that would modify the magnetic field would shift the needle to touch
one of the contacts and the buzzer would sound.
For the first couple of nights my device buzzed. My fellow
classmates (it was a boarding school) objected to the noise. I was instructed
to stop my experimenting.
I found out that the magnetic field was affected by tractor
trailer rigs passing by nearby South Congress Avenue. There was heavy traffic in the evening.
I switched my interests to Wham-O blow guns.
The Last Rose of Summer
Friday, November 10, 2017
|Rosa 'Abraham Darby' November 10 2017|
This is a scan of the last rose to bloom in our
Kitsilano, BC garden. I scanned it today. It will not open further but the
strong fruity smell of this English Rose, Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’ is in evidence
as it says goodbye to me. It will bloom again next spring and I hope (you never
know)that I will be around to greet it.
Tis the last rose
All her lovely
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her
Or give sigh for
I'll not leave
thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the
Since the lovely
Go, sleep thou with
Thus kindly I
Thy leaves o'er the
Where thy mates of
Lie scentless and
So soon may I
And from Love's
The gems drop away.
When true hearts
And fond ones are
Oh! who would
This bleak world
"The Last Rose
of Summer" is a poem by the Irish poet Thomas Moore. He wrote it in 1805,
while staying at Jenkinstown Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland, where he was
said to have been inspired by a specimen of Rosa 'Old Blush' The poem is set to
a traditional tune called "Aislean an Oigfear", or "The Young
Man's Dream", which was transcribed by Edward Bunting in 1792, based on a
performance by harper Denis Hempson (Donnchadh Ó hÁmsaigh) at the Belfast Harp
Festival. The poem and the tune together were published in December 1813 in
volume 5 of Thomas Moore's A Selection of Irish Melodies. The original piano
accompaniment was written by John Andrew Stevenson, several other arrangements
followed in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Es la última rosa del verano,
que solitaria queda floreciendo;
Todas sus adorables compañeras
Han marchitado y se han ido;
No hay flor de su linaje,
reflejen su rubor,
devuelvan suspiro por suspiro.
dejaré que tú, solitaria!
en el tallo;
las adorables duermen,
Ve tú a
dormir con ellas.
hojas sobre el lecho,
tus compañeras de jardín,
sin perfume y muertas.
pronto como pueda seguirte,
las amistades decaigan,
el círculo brillante del amor,
gemas caigan alejadas.
los corazones sinceros yazcan marchitos,
bondadosos hayan volado,
¡Oh! ¿Quién habitaría
Este mundo sombrío en soledad
The Messiah - A Roasted Chestnut to Perfection
Thursday, November 09, 2017
|Alexander Weimann & Charles Daniels|
It is 1733 in Venice and a Mexican dressed as Motezuma with
his black servant Filomeno are looking at sheet music:
But now the clerk was extolling the merits of Messiah, a
very well-known oratorio.
‘No less!’ exclaimed Filomeno. That Saxon doesn’t work
small.’ He opened the score. ‘Whew! This is what you call writing for the
trumpet! That’ll be the day when I can play it!’ And he read and reread with
admiration the aria for basso written by George Frideric to two versicles from the Epistle to the Corinthians. ‘And underneath the notes which only a top
player could produce from the instrument, there are words that look like a spiritual
The trumpet shall sound
And the dead shall be raised
And we shall be changed,
And we shall be changed!
The trumpet shall sound,
The trumpet shall sound.’
Barroco – Alejo Carpentier – translated by Asa Zatz
Anybody who may be a stickler for facts and dates might
note a few discrepancies. For one, Mexicans call their last emperor Moctezuma
and the Americans Montezuma. Motezuma is
the title of Antonio Vivaldi’s opera. Handel did not write his Messiah until
1741. It just so happens that the writer of Concierto Barroco (its title in Spanish
and in its English translation) was Cuban novelist and music critic Alejo
Carpentier who coined the term realismo mágico. He loved to move with time at
My first awareness of Handel’s Messiah
happened in 1979
at the gay Vancouver club, Luv-a-Fair
. At the time I was working for a gay
weekly called Bi-Line. When I entered the club I witnessed a dense dance floor
of men dancing with their arms up in the air to a disco version of the Hallelujah
A second more serious version of the Handel oratorio was
in the sometime around 2002 when I took my young granddaughter to a dress
rehearsal at the Orpheum performed by the Vancouver Symphony.
I do not know soprano Yulia Van Doren but since Early Music
Vancouver’s Artistic Director is former countertenor Matthew White, we all know
that he has the contacts and the knowledge of the best possible singers.
But there is some backstage humour to the Messiah as this
work is an indestructible chestnut.
In 2015 I had the pleasure of being invited to have a
craft beer, after a performance at the Fox Cabaret
with Charles Daniels and Matthew
White. Over beers they compared notes on their performances of the work (it
escapes me how the countertenor Matthew White knew the stuff unless he had been
part of the chorus) which were funny and bordered on the unbelievably silly. I was
very much entertained!
Baritone Tyler Duncan is my Facebook friend and before
and after his manyMessiah performances I have seen him write stuff such as the perfect food
to eat before or after. His jokes and puns almost mask the fact that this
baritone has presence, a voice like few others and a diction that is only
matched by that of Daniels’s.
Any tenor who loves craft beer and can act (I have seen
him mimic drunkenness on stage with perfection) like Charles Daniels when
combined by the lovely voice and presence of mezzo Zsabó
pretty well makes this coming Messiah a sure
thing. That it is directed by Alexander Weimann
surely must roast this chestnut
Bowering, Baseball & Burlesque
Wednesday, November 08, 2017
My friend architect Abraham Rogatnick
died 28 August 2009.
Perhaps a month beofore he died (Rogatnick had decided to abandon further
treatment of his prostate cancer) he held court in his home on West 10th
Poet George Bowering,
a friend of his lived across the street. Noted
Vancouver architect, Bruno Freschi also a friend of Rogatnick had been
discussing and idea on how to keep the Vancouver Art Gallery where it is. Both
men were there. For reasons I have forgotten I was also there with my
granddaughter Rebecca Stewart who was 12 at the time.
We were sitting on one end of the living room and Rogatnick
was slouched on a divan wearing an English smoking jacket like Noel Coward
might have worn.
The conversation was pleasant, happy even though we all knew
that the man was not going to live long. Somehow the conversation was steered
by George Bowering, the first Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate (beginning in 2002) into questioning who was
the first in England. Rogatnick kept telling Bowering he was wrong on the name.
We fetched an Encyclopaedia Britannica and with a loud little laugh Rogatnick
verified it had been John Dryden from 1631 to1700.
While most of the conversation has slipped from my memory I
relish in the thought that someday when I am long gone, my Rebecca will
remember that occasion with wonder.
The relationship with the Canadian Poet Laureate and my
granddaughter did not end there. In December 2012 I was to go to a burlesque
show at the Russian Centre on 4th
Avenue that featured the terrific
live band, the Blood Alley Quartet
that had a lovely singer (she could really belt it out), called GoldieMonroe
who was also a burlesque
I decided to invite Bowering and Rebecca. Both accepted.
Bowering is an exceptional writer and poet but he lacks
(very pleasant that is) the stratospheric and snooty attitude of many of his kind. He is
ready to smile, he is accessible and you would never suspect how much he knows
and how much he reads, and, (very important) how much he writes.
Not only all that, he is obsessed with baseball and in
particular with the Mexican Baseball League. His fave team (perhaps it is the name)
are the Xalapa Chileros.
The three of us had a great time. Because of my RHIP (rank
has its privileges) we watched it all from back stage.
Again I can only wonder how my Rebecca will someday brag
about all this!
Today, November 8, 2017 I visited Bowering. We had a long
conversation that was all over the map. We have a little project going which
will see the light of day in a week.
Una Perla Para Jorge Luís Borges
Tuesday, November 07, 2017
muchos años (1980) una recepcionista de la revista Vancouver Magazine me pidió
directamente que quería que la fotografiara en desnudo. Me dijo que ya
anticipaba la gravedad de Newton y que afectaría desfavorablemente su lindo cuerpo. Como yo no
tenía la menor idea del procedimiento fotográfico tomé muchas fotos incluyendo
ésta con perlas.
ocurrió que sería buena excusa para incluir esta nota de homenaje de Susan
Sontag al desaparecido Jorge Luís Borges. Mora Torres en este enlace ha inventado
para Jorge Luis Borges
el 31 de Mayo de 2007 por Mora Torres
nota de la norteamericana Susan Sontag, escrita en 1996, cuando se cumplían
diez años de la muerte de Borges. Está redactada en forma de carta. Copió uno
de sus párrafos:
tener que decirle que la suerte del libro nunca estuvo en igual decadencia. Son
cada vez más los que se zambullen en el gran proyecto contemporáneo de destruir
las condiciones que hacen la lectura posible, de repudiar el libro y sus
efectos. Ya no está uno tirado en la cama o sentado en un rincón tranquilo de
una biblioteca, dando vuelta lentamente las páginas bajo la luz de una lámpara.
Pronto, nos dicen, llamaremos en ‘pantallas libros’ cualquier texto a pedido
(…) Este es el glorioso futuro que se está creando -y que nos prometen- como
algo más ‘democrático’. Por supuesto usted y yo sabemos, eso no significa nada
menos que la muerte de la introspección… y del libro” (revista Proa; Argentina,
“Querido Borges”, 1996).
Sontag, la maravillosa y renovadora escritora con quien en este tema estamos en
desacuerdo, también murió, y estará discutiendo con Borges la carta que le
envió en homenaje. Por eso, del mismo modo que ella a nuestro autor, nosotros
podemos escribirle unas líneas:
Susan Sontag: lamentamos tener que decirle que poco puede apreciar su
descontento por la desaparición del libro como objeto físico Jorge Luis Borges.
Con toda seguridad no ignorará que él, en esta vida, era ciego, y a partir de
los cincuenta años debieron leerle los libros en voz alta. Acordará con
nosotros en que esa función bien puede actualmente cumplirla cualquier
a la conclusión de que sea cual fuere el futuro soporte del libro (y esta
afirmación puede sonar irreverente, lo sabemos), la misma es una curiosidad
bastante menos trascendente de lo que parece. Que dentro de algunas décadas no
exista más el objeto de papel y cartón o cuerina llamado libro sólo puede ser
desconsolador para bibliófilos y especialistas en antigüedades, no para los
The Challenge of Words
Monday, November 06, 2017
|Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena|
While watching the last few minutes of Chris Hayes on MSNBC
and the first few minutes of the Rachel Maddow show, Hayes used the expression casus belli and Maddow interregnum.
I knew instantly what those expressions from Latin meant, not a priori but a posteriori.
Much is said these days how journalism has been stultified.
I am happy to see that the prediction of an end of days for words has been not entirely
For me my venture into knowledge of words paradoxically came
when I taught high school in Mexico City. I wrote about it here
. Since then I
can thank reading as having helped me along to increase my vocabulary.
My Rebecca who is now 20 and is living through a not too
good post teen existence always asked me the meaning of any word I might have
used that she did not immediately understand. She had this curiosity that
excited me and I constantly would bring up not usual words knowing she would
I hope that when her issues are resolved that this curiosity
for the meaning of words will come back.
My grandfather Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena was a member (one
of a very few) of the Real Academia Española who was from the Philippines.
When I was a young boy his wife, my grandmother Lolita,
me a Spanish dictionary in which she challenged me to follow the direction of
my grandfather into a better knowledge of my Spanish language. I hope that my
grandmother from wherever she may be now will appreciate that I have not
forgotten that challenge.