Wild Palms & 220 VoltageFriday, December 28, 2018
As I look back on the 20th century and what remains of this year, 2018 I know that the word that most defined my life as a magazine photographer was the word access. Access gave me entry into politicians, film stars, film directors, writers, painters, hoods, policemen and women of all kinds. Magazines and companies paid me to go to foreign countries to take photographs and or to write about them.
I would say that kind of life, with few exceptions is gone now.
Every once in a while things do happen to this obsolete, redundant & retired photographer that remind me that surprises may still be in store for me, although at a frequency of a much slower pace.
In September my Rosemary and I went to Buenos Aires to attend the opening of a joint show I had with Argentine artist Nora Patrich. Since I have family there I saw plenty of them and even photographed them with a special flash unit I purchased here in Vancouver that could handle the 220 Buenos Aires voltage.
But something happened that was most unusual, almost surrealist. With a few days over I received a communication from a nephew of mine who lives in Miami requesting I photograph (“in my style,” he wrote) a friend of his. I told him this was impossible and that we had just few days left in the city. He insisted.
And so I met up with a tall, almost 6ft tall Brazilian in our hotel lobby. I agreed to show up in her apartment (in the most fashionable Palermo district) the next day.
I rang the bell. The door opened and she was only wearing some body fishnets stockings.
She was easy to photograph in “my style”. My fave photographs happened when she was taking me back to the hotel. I noticed we were passing by the former zoo. In the mid-60s I would go in my navy whites and sit by the tiger cage. I have always loved tigers. I did not know then that Jorge Luís Borges also liked the animals and sat on the very bench I sat on. I also knew that Borges had translated into English in 1940 Faulkner’s The Wild Palms.
Palms (large ones) are ubiquitous in Buenos Aires since the city is at the same latitude as South Africa. Near the zoo I spotted some palms. It was raining. I went outside and shot my Brazilian through the windshield.