Nicholas von Hoffman and the Baby Goat
Saturday, February 03, 2018
|Hilary Stewart & Rebecca on Bowen Island many years ago|
When I married my Canadian Rosemary in Mexico City in 1968 we
had the routine when driving our VW Beetle to listen to a local radio station
that was in English. There were a lot of ads for moving companies and pest
removal. My favourite was the nasty sounding Ratex.
On the hour the station would connect with American CBS and
we would have news in English in which our stellar favourite was Dan Rather. I
particularly remember a broadcast on October 2 1968 in which CBS went live to a
reporter on the Plaza de la Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco in Mexico City. The
reporter said that the army and the police were shooting and killing the
students. I could distinctly hear the gun fire. Suddenly during all this there was a loud click and, “The baseball
scores are as follows.”
All the other stations had music and CBS was censored for
On another occasion I remember distinctly my favourite
left-wing guy on one of the on the hour broadcasts, Nicholas von Hoffman who was
talking about the looming problem of over-population. This is what he said:
“If you really want to have a kid, buy a baby goat.”
Yesterday my NY Times
had his obituary: this one
. On YouTube
I was able to find a video where he talks. It was most pleasant to listen to his
voice again after all these years.
There is no record that I could find of the name of the
English language radio station in Mexico City.
Dave Barrett - October 2, 1930 – February 2, 2018
Friday, February 02, 2018
I photographed Dave Barrett five times. The first time was
when he was a radio commentator for a local radio station. The second time I
photographed him with his beloved Volvo in Grandview Park which was in his
riding. The third time was when he became premier and my photos were used for
political publicity. The fourth time happened when he was about to publish his
autobiography. I was hired to shoot the book’s cover.
The fifth time, in fact, was my favourite. When
it dawned on me that lefty (politically) Barrett was living in Victoria I
decided it was time that lefty (politically) writer Ben Metcalf who lived in
Shawnigan Lake should meet. At the time Mecalf drove a Cadillac. I had Metcalf
meet me in Victoria in his land yacht and we picked up Barrett and had lunch at
the Bengal Lounge at the Empress Hotel.
I do not recall the details or their names but next to us there was a
table with two or three political columnists for the Vancouver Sun and
Province. They kept staring at us wondering what was afoot.
My memories of both men is that they were extremely
intelligent but most importantly shared a wonderful sense of humour.
like she'd jumped Into bed, not the seat of a car
Thursday, February 01, 2018
bug or a berry got stuck in my hair
my head was buried in leaves
and eyes uplifted for the ripe
but recondite fruit of the raspberry
The tickly, little thing slipped
and stalled between my neck and
I reached back over my shoulder
and squeezed it, expecting a crushed
spider or mosquito, where her finger
landed to tap me for a long-
ago dance in the ladies’ choice.
squeezed to avoid a splash of blood
berry juice on my shirt from the slap
to drive away her attention,
too well-endowed and much too soon
her to press against me
nubile dolt ready to burst
the feel of her fingers on me.
Was it fruit, lush with the sugars
of sunshine, I touched
or bug, flush with the blood and
sweat of my own skin?
“Don’t stop. Just throw me out,
here,” she said in order not to be heard
being left off closer to home. She said it
like she’d jumped into bed, not the seat of a car,
and woke up to her
body beside me,
just as I woke up to hers, having squeezed
at the fatness between my fingers,
and thrown it
out into the raspberry patch, where,
when I looked
to see what it really was, I
couldn’t find it.
Buzzed, crawled off it had, and what
if it were
a pure emission of afternoon sun, a
gob of Helios,
throbbing raspberry red on a
and her whole body,
shrunk to a plump
raspberry rube, too defective
a detective for this obese mystery
or eviscerated berry), I picked through the white
kitchen colander I collected the raspberries in —
perhaps it was in there, there? —
as these red-faced gods
still wreathed in leaves, watched
me, saying nothing
about the incapacity of a prude like
me to deal with
what I felt too fat and sweet, who
believèd not that
a little divinity tapped me on the
shoulder and still
drops the fruit of her finger down
the back of my neck,
and at night, shocks me with the
feeling of a squeezed
nipple everywhere I lie.
George McWhirter is a Irish-born poet. He was Vancouver Poet Laureate (2007-2009). He taught literature at UBC for many years. He has translated Mexican poet and novelist Homero Aridjis into English.
The Railway Club - Kitty Corner to the St. Regis
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
The Railway Club for me and my friends was a refuge in
Vancouver for at least 20 years. We had a noon-on-Thursdays get together lunch
where photographers, writers, illustrators and the occasional ecdysiasts would
converse in leisure.
The group finally dissolved (all good things do) and I never
returned. But recently I became curious. The club is no longer run by the
children of former NDP Minister Bob Williams
. Whoever has purchased the club
has renovated the place.They removed the ratty carpet and and cleaned it all
up. One element of the former club has not changed. Food is good, especially
One of the extras we had at the Railway Club is that we were
kitty corner with the St. Regis which had a Grade–B calibre exotic dance club.
It was in one occasion when I saw a dancer that had very
long hair. I persuaded her to pose for a shoot involving Randy Rampage (on
bass) and Doug Bennett of Doug & the Slugs fame. She said yes and best of
all I managed to have Vancouver Magazine pay her an honorarium. I have
forgotten her name. During the photo session she confessed that her long hair
was an extension.
In those days of competition between magazines and
newspapers the photographs had to be spectacular. You may note that for this
shoot I had to rent two smoke machines.
Traveling in Time With Sylvia Plath
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula
As it was in the beginning, and now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
The above was my first philosophical look into time. Before that,
I suffered as a young boy that interval between Christmas Eve (practical
presents) and the Epiphany (El Día de Los Reyes Magos when we children in
Argentina received our toys) on January 6. That segment of time that breezes
past one now, was an eternity of wait.
Closer to my maturity in high school, a boring class before
the lunch recess, was another eternity and more so if the classroom (like many
at St. Edward’s High School had a prominent clock somewhere in the room.
Most anybody my age (75) will tell you that time flows (the
correct word if you consider Heraclitus) much more quickly and we keep telling
our younger relatives, “It seems only yesterday.”
In Vancouver this specifically applies to those who may have
visited Expo – 86. Was it only yesterday?
Sometime in the late 80s after I had purchased my Philippines-made, titanium Timex, I noticed a singular and most unusual quality. The watch (still at my wrist
at this date) was and is completely waterproof. I never take it off.
I was in my tub and I was staring at the watch. I liked to
immerse it in the water and by flicking my wrist the glass top would reflect
the light of the bathroom. While doing this I noticed that the second hand
stopped and began to go backwards. I have seen this more than once. I believe
my Filipino Timex is special. It is a time machine. It stops time and goes
Recently I have discovered an revealing description of how
time works. The NY Times
has started a new series they call Overlooked
women who deserved an obituary in The New York Times at the time of their death
but did not get one. A very good one was one about Sylvia Plath
. The writer
Anemona Hartocollis wrote a further essay
on the subject in which she explains
that when Plath died, her most famous work The Bell Jar
was virtually unknown. It was my mother's interest in Plath's Bell Jar that led me to read it.
Plath died on Feb. 11, 1963, at the age of 30.
It quickly became apparent to me that I would have to
look not only at her past, but also at the future that had not yet happened. It
would be something like time traveling, only — unlike time travelers in the
movies — I would know the future without having a chance to change it.
The point was that the obituary I was going to write
would be very different from the obituary we would have written when Plath
died. In some ways, I think, it turned out to be more true to who she really
I read the above and placed the paper on the floor by my
bed and turned off the lights. Going to sleep seemed to be an eternity.
What this means is that as an old man I can travel in
time with my memory (a very good one). But since I am alive (unlike Plath) I
have the ability to change my future.