A Squeeze of Class
Saturday, January 13, 2018
|Katheryn Petersen & her 13 accordions, January 2018|
Within the modern symphony orchestra there are a couple of maligned
instruments that are the butts of many jokes. One is the viola and the other is
the bassoon. Some of these jokes are all about the usefulness of burning violas
in order to light bassoons and convert them into ashes.
But the very musicians who might make viola or bassoon jokes
are aware that Antonio Vivaldi wrote beautiful stuff for the bassoon and the
viola is prominent in his Four Seasons
The accordion cannot play second fiddle to any instrument in
the modern symphony orchestra because, alas! it is not an instrument of the
orchestra. Thus the accordion has suffered in the acceptance of its status as a
modern instrument of note.
It is only recently that violin virtuoso Marc Destrubé has
revealed that he too, enjoyed playing the accordion.
My personal beef about this bellows instrument is that I
detest the polka in whatever manifestation it might occur. I hate the Mexican
polka of the northern states, too. Perhaps somewhere in my memory is a
lingering awareness of the role of the instrument in my youth of having watched
(no excuses!) the Lawrence Welk Show.
As an Argentine I paradoxically admire, love and enjoy the
music of the bandoneón in tango and especially when it is a composition by
Astor Piazzolla who was a master of this instrument which I am told is far more
difficult to play that the accordion. And, I despise the chamamé, the folkloric
music of the Argentine province of Corrientes because it does feature the
So I am have great difficulty in accepting that one of the
most beautiful of women that I have photographed, now for 32 years, Katheryn
Petersen happens to be a virtuoso of the accordion. Not only that, she has
produced a yearly Vancouver extravaganza called Accordion Noir.
Obviously I am the one with the problem and I will readily
accept that I am in a squeeze.
New Music For Old Instruments: After Bach
Friday, January 12, 2018
|Rodney Sharman - Composer New Music for Old Instruments|
|Jocelyn Morlock - VSO Composer in Residence - New Music for Old Instruments|
|Bramwell Tovey - Artistic Director VSO - Composer New Music for Old Instruments|
|Alexander Weimann & Bramwell Tovey will be playing some variations together|
This coming Friday my Rosemary and I are going to a concert
of New Music for Old Instruments After Bach
at Christ Church Cathedral.
Yesterday Tuesday we went to the Vancouver East Cultural
Centre to a play Black Boys. One of the three performers was called Thomas
Olajide. His surname rang a bell in my memory as sometime in the 80s I
photographed a handsome and young boxer called Michael Olajide nicknamed The
Silk. After the show I approached Thomas Olajide to enquire. And “Yes,” he
said, “Michael is my uncle and his mom Olive is right here.”
To me our fine city has a very poor memory. Was I the only
one present who connected the two men?
It is the same situation for this upcoming concert of New
Music for Old Instruments. In the 90s when the Pacific Baroque Orchestra was
under the musical direction of violinist Marc Destrubé I went to several
concerts in which the Pacific Baroque Orchestra had commissioned local new
music composers to write stuff for old instruments. This is the list that
Destrubé recently sent my way that confirmed that my aging memory is still
The pieces of new music PBO commissioned and premiered in my
‘Not a Single Stone'
- Peter Hannan (he’s the composer who used to play the recorder (he hasn’t in a
long time; and long before that he was a horn player in the VSO)
‘Bloom’ - Linda
Catlin Smith (Toronto)
[these were the two that we did as ’solstice’ pieces in the
Vivaldi 4 Seasons program]
- Bradshaw Pack (not a version of a Brandenburg, but for the same
instrumentation as Brandenburg III, which was played on the same program). It’s
on his CD compilation ‘Alogos’
‘Golden’ - Jocelyn
Morlock. It’s on her CD compilation ‘Cobalt’,
in a version with oboe instead of soprano.
‘Looking East’ -
Amir Koushkani (concerto for tar and orchestra).
‘Making Kingdom’ -
Of new music I have
Béatrice Larrivée - A Presence in Spades
Thursday, January 11, 2018
In the earlier part of the 19th century when photography
began to compete with other forms of graphic impression there was an emphasis
and interest in the idea that photography was accurate (alas! Photoshop took
care of that in the 20th century). There were some photographers who
thought if they parked their cameras in front of a dying person they would be
able to capture (a term used a lot in this 21st century but with far
more relevance in the 19th in this instance) that precise moment when the soul (life
force?) left the body. Of course they all failed. They should have known of the impossibility simply
by thinking and applying Zeno’s paradox in conjunction with Newton and Leibniz’s
In Spanish we have the term “de cuerpo presente” which means
a funeral service where the dead person is present, usually in an open coffin.
But there is a secondary meaning that I like. It is applied to the strong
presence of a real presence. Think of Marlon Brando de cuerpo presente and you
will know what I am citing here.
I saw many bullfights as a teenager in Mexico City and I had
the good fortune of seeing Spanish matador Paco Camino. There was something
about him that I could only call presencia. It perhaps had to do with his
movements similar to that of a very talented ballet dancer. I never saw Manolete but even in his photographs you knew he had it.
And yet you can watch two ballet dancers, equally good and
only stare and be moved by the one that has that so difficult to define
In my years of going to ballet and modern dance performances
I noticed this intangible talent in Evelyn Hart
, Lauri Stallings
and at the
Arts Umbrella Dance Company the French Canadian Béatrice Larrivée and also there, Albert Galindo
and Nicole Ward.
And I could not possibly forget my friend, dancer/choreographer Sandrine Cassini.
graduated a couple of years ago and is now dancing in Montreal. She posted,
recently, this video
which is a genuine selfie video. I don’t quite understand
it but I know enough about dance that there is that exciting intangible there
that is presencia. And she has it in spades.
This is her video selfie
Donnelly Rhodes - December 4, 1937 – January 8, 2018
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Two thousand and eighteen is perhaps the best time to
think, talk and write about supremely sexy men.
Donnelly Rhodes, the Canadian actor who was total hombre died
I had the good fortune of being assigned, but did not know that then, to photograph the
man at a time when a dream assignment for me was to
photograph a s… woman. I have not changed much in this. The female editor of Western Living ran a series of
articles At Home With… I was dispatched to Rhodes’s house.
While there while I
cannot attest to the actual words said, the editor attempted to have Mrs. Rhodes
move her grand piano to a better “more photogenic” location. Perhaps the words
said were obscenities, perhaps not.
All I know is that taking pictures of Rhodes (and I took
many) taught me to understand that female side of me that could fathom what
it was that women see in men. I saw that and felt it, particularly every time
Rhodes would talk to me. He had an actor's voice something in decline these days.
He was the physical personification of the men I had
read about in the late 50s in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila when I was living at the
American Hotel with my mother who taught at the local American school for the
mining company ASARC0. A manly Juan Jaime would bring his already read copies
of Argosy, True and Esquire to the hotel’s magazine stand. I devoured them.
Rhodes was the kind of man that I am sure even to this day
would do us proud and make us realize that we men (and I am one) can still be
what we are and without any doubt of who we are.
Janet Wood - The Amateur Rose Lady
Tuesday, January 09, 2018
|Janet Wood, Dennis Yeomans and Dainty Bess|
The 19th century produced a multitude of rich idle men and not so old women like Byron's daughter Ada Lovelace and Fanny Burney who
believed that working and getting paid was anathema. They called themselves amateurs.
These amateurs became archaeologists, historians and of interest to gardeners
they were plant finders extraordinaire who were botanists in all but name.
Here in Vancouver in the 20th century we had such
amateur gardeners who did what they did for the love of it. We had the Fern
Lady, the Rhododendron Man, the Dwarf Conifer Man, The Daylily Lady and the
doctor who was the Clematis Man. Luckily we still have those amateur gardeners of everything, Pamela Frost and Alleyne Cook (and wife Barbara).
One of the last of those gracious amateurs we could call for
good (and practical) advice was our very own Rose Lady, Janet Wood. She died on
Before you would ever see her when you would ring the doorbell
at her Southlands home you would hear her say (very loudly), “And how are you?”
Her voice was similar to Patricia Neal’s perhaps caused by her intense smoking
Once you actually saw her in person she would welcome you in
and offer whatever including good whisky if she liked you.
In 1986 when we moved to our large corner property on
Athlone Street in Kerrisdale we knew nothing about gardening. We depended on
all our resident Amateurs for advice. Woods was tops.
My best memory of her is one day when I visited her and
spotted a bright yellow (a warm yellow) single rose. I instantly fell in love. “What’s
this rose?” I asked her. She answered, “Mrs. Oakley Fisher.” I have no idea
what it was that made me say, “I want to go home make myself a very strong mug
of Earl Grey Tea and have it with toast buttered (unsalted) and with apricot jam.”
To this day I cannot look at this beautiful rose and not remember Wood.
Watching her pile horse manure on her roses comes with the
perhaps apocryphal story on how she ended up living in Southlands. It seems she
went to Southlands (she was living elsewhere) to buy horse manure. She stayed.
One of the distinct pleasures of spring was to call Wood on
the phone and talk roses and compare notes.
My Rosemary and I will miss this amateur rosarian. Now when
I want advice on roses I look at myself in the mirror and I know I am wanting.
Monday, January 08, 2018
|Silvia Pinal in Buñuel's Viridiana|
en su inquieto modo de florecer
quemando la savia que alimenta su ser.
Using the words of the English language at the disposal I
can describe my present state of affairs as uneasy and restless.
That sounds bad and those that I know might ask me, “Are you
depressed? If so you might want to consult a psychiatrist or a therapist."
That is the vagary and limitation of words in any given
In Spanish to be inquieto and to experience inquietud
(notice the root of quieto which means not moving and the prefix in which
suggests that such a person cannot sit still) has another very wonderful
meaning. The term inquieto (feminine inquieta) is used a lot to describe film
Here is an example I have manufactured on the spot now, “La inquieta
Silvia Pinal dice querer colaborar con el cineasta Luís Buñuel.” This
translates to, “The artistically restless Silvia Pinal says she wants to
collaborate with filmmaker Luís Buñuel.”
Silvia Pinal, a noted Mexican actress (not actor as I am
old-fashioned) in her later years became a senator. And she did make three
films with Buñuel, El angel exterminador,Viridiana and Simón en el desierto.
Yours truly saw those three films not because I would have
been into art film but simply that as a young man I had the hots for Pinal!
I have brought up the subject of inquietud because I am
feeling wonderfully inquieto in this new year with my new photographic toys and
a new and intelligent subject with whom I will be collaborating as of tomorrow.
I wrote about all this here
. On inquietud I wrote before in
Sunday, January 07, 2018
|My Epiphany! January 6 2018|
A year that was and one to come has been in my thoughts these
days. It was
only during a bout
of insomnia on Friday that in desperation I
consulted Google in my Galaxy A5 (I have not taken one single photograph with
it since I obtained it a year and a bit ago). I looked up body cap pinholes for
Fuji cameras. I found a few sites. On the next day I called that Vancouver gem
that Leo’s Camera
on Granville is. I asked Jeff Gin if he had these bodycaps.
I instantly went to get one. This body cap is for Nikon
cameras. Because my Fuji X-E1 and X-E3 cameras can accommodate an adapter
(which I have) I am able to use that Nikon body cap. Here
is a look at
photographs I took some years ago with a Mamiya RB-67 body cap pinhole. My
exposures on 100ISO film were long. Using one direct Dynalite flash head I
punched it as many times as I could for one minute and fifteen seconds.
|Jonas at Leo's pinhole body cap photograph January 6 2018|
Now with that Fuji X-E3 and the Nikon body cap pinhole I
took a picture of Jonas hand held with my ISO rating at 3200. It is not all
that sharp as pinhole pictures are never all that sharp. But I might have
gotten a bit more detail if I had put the camera on a tripod.
I went home and I did put my camera on a tripod. I set it at
3200 ISO and my exposure was 8 seconds on bulb.
The image which I further “fixed” with Corel Paint Shop Pro
X2 on the cyanotype application is one that I like particularly as it all
happened within hours of thinking about it.
It was my Rosemary who almost five years ago urged me to buy
a digital camera and I did and with the help of Jeff Gin at Leo’s his
suggestion of the Fuji X-E1 was an intelligent one. That camera has taken me to
places unknown and I have been met with all kinds of surprises.
These Fuji cameras have the adaptor for Nikon lenses (and
others including the Leica and I have an adaptor for my Summicron 50mm F-2 lens
from my Leica IIIF). What these adaptors can do for me is that I can attach
that Nikon 50mm F-1.4 lens I have and when I use it wide open I get the beauty
of very shallow depth of field.
that combination that led to the photograph that I took of Itzel and her son
Elías in 2017.
|Itzel & Elías 2017|
2017 was also the year that I re-discovered the beauty of
the pictures I used to take with my iPhone3G. When it broke I bought the Galaxy
and forgot about it. When Benson at Richmond’s Powersonic Computers told me he
could fix it I took his challenge and now I have a capability to take pictures
with a look that is inimitable. There is a paradox here!
Benson charged me $50 to repair the iPhone
(and that included a new charging cable I had lost) but I spent $67 at Leo’s
for a good device which allows me to clamp the phone to my tripod for sharper
pictures in my little Kitsilano, Vancouver studio. Here
are some results.
|Olena - iPhone3G 2017|
All the above has happened with now with the phenomenal
entrance of an intelligent subject who is willing to go through a lengthy
photographic relationship in which we will collaborate the idea of eroticism as
seen by older people (me) and not quite that of my subject who is 47, more or
This all projects a creative year for this obsolete –
redundant & retired photographer who is hoping he will live long and
prosper so he can try out all those little tricks that came with 2017.
|The Mamiya RB-67 pinhole body cap and the Fuji pinhole body cap|