Holly Suicide in Red
Saturday, February 17, 2018
I can go to a slide show of old and perhaps deal with 50
projections of roses. I might be able to handle the same amount of street
shots. My tolerance level decreases if the projections are fireworks, city
scapes (at night or day) and no more than 10 slides of caverns.
But I can look at portraits all day and I will never tire of
taking them. Here is Holly Suicide (AKA Daniella Ciccone) fanning herself.
To get this look I scan the b+w negative (a 6x7cm one) as if
it were a colour negative. The Epson includes that orange mask of all colour
Then by abusing the
shadow/highlight tool of my 13-year-old Photoshop with a bit of contrast
tweaking you get what you see here.
Holly Suicide by the bay window.
Holly Suicide by the Bay Window
Friday, February 16, 2018
Holly Suicide (AKA Daniella Ciccone) was a young woman who
was a habitué of the Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret on West Hastings, not far from Main.
It was the best place to see and listen to very loud punk bands. It was there
where I first saw Art Bergmann and his K-Tels, 50% Off and The Wankers just to
mention a few.
I befriended Holly and I was able to photograph her twice.
For the first session (the picture you see here) she was living at an old building
(it is still there) on West Georgia and Bute. It had bay windows and I took
these pictures using the beautiful window lighting.
Holly Suicide in Red
Carmen Aguirre - La Militante Sinuosa
Thursday, February 15, 2018
|Pedro Chamale & Carmen Aguirre - February 14 2018|
This past Wednesday February 14 I attended the opening of
Carmen Aguirre’s Broken Tailbone at the Historic Theatre of the Vancouver East
This 80 minute performance featuring Carmen Aguirre as La
Jefa and Pedro Chamale as the the DJ El Jefecito was directed by Brian Quirt.
If you were not a 75-year-old failed Argentine Tango dancer
and arthritic grandfather (me), you would have emerged as a
pretty competent salsa, cumbia, candombe, bugaloo, merengue (and more) dancer
of that diverse music called música tropical in my Latin America.
The dance lessons came with a message. While Aguirre and Chamale may have been smiling the message was a serious one.
If you did not understand any Spanish you might have missed
the several moments when Aguirre painfully paid homage to her Uncle Nelson, a
man of strict political ethics who squandered (perhaps?) a life with alcohol
Broken Tailbone is an actively wonderful lesson in
dance with lots of information that might have slipped past you if you did not
know Aguirre as well as some of us do.
|With Celso Machado|
While younger than this man, Aguirre is a product of the
last century, a century that was less politically correct. For anybody present on
Wednesday you would instantly know that Aguirre likes her men unabashedly and
honestly. In fact some of the Spanish swearing (lots of it of the Argentine variety)
made me blush and to find out how it was that she broke her tailbone (this
happens at the end of the show) was as off-colour as the night could get!
Beneath this beautiful, curvy woman with big black eyes
there is a lot more. She is what we in
Latin America call a “militante”. This is a person who has sound beliefs (beliefs of which Aguirre was willing to forgo her own safety and life many times) on
what they consider to be the only valid social structure. This social structure
is a leftist leaning one. In Latin America there has been a long list of
right-wing dictators and military dictatorships that killed and disappeared
many. And of course, Aguirre reminded us of lots of instances in which entities like the United Fruit Company and shadow versions of the CIA meddled in bringing down governments or training the Bolivian troops that placed Che Guevara on that infamous slab in the mountain town of Vallegrande.
While Aguirre and family might have escaped the clutches of
the Pinochet regime in Chile to find refuge in Canada, the fact is that Aguirre
and her mother went back to Chile (and Argentina and Bolivia) to practice what
was pleasantly preached in song and dance this last Wednesday.
|With Isabel Allende|
In 2013 I was one of the judges for the BC Non-Fiction
prize. I was sent 100 books which I was supposed to read in under two months.
One of them was Aguirre’s Something Fierce - Memoirs of a Revolutionary
I left reading it to the bitter end suspecting the account
would be an angry and depressing one. I was completely wrong! The story was
full of humour and some of the passages (we know Aguirre likes men) made me
At perhaps a half a century of existence Aguirre may have
reached a period of her militancy where she might be pondering on a poem of
Uruguayan Cristina Peri Rossi from her works State of Exile:
I said to you:
“One needs a lot of courage
for so much useless death.”
You thought I was referring to Latin America.
No, I was talking
About dying in bed,
In a great city,
At eighty or ninety
In Julio Cortázar’s story Reunión in which the narrator is
Che Guevara, after a bloody landing in a Cuban island, Che under a tree and
friend Luís recall:
I stayed with Luís leaning on the trunk of a tree, smoking
and looking at the drawings of the leaves against the sky and we told each
other of all that had happened to us since our landing, but above all we talked
about the future, of what was going to begin on the day when we would have to
transfer from the rifle to the office
with telephones, from the sierra to the city…
I am sure that the ever fruitful Aguirre will find a
solution to all that. And she will thoroughly entertain us while at it.
One of my memories of Carmen Aguirre is indelible. In February of 1999 at the Stanley Theatre, Carmen Aguirre played Frida Kahlo in Susan Astley and Steve Petch's Tribute to Frida Kahlo.
Aguirre was Kahlo. Another memory is Aguirre's modification of a Julio Cortázar story "Las Reglas del Juego"
into a play that I saw at Studio 58 (her alma matter).
|Homage to Tío Nelson|
Joseph Desiré Charnay at Uxmal
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
In our recent trip to Mérida, Yucatán we went to the Mayan
ruins of Uxmal. With Rosemary it was our second time. I had been there before
on my own in the late 70s.
When in any of the Mayan ruins of Yucatán I feel the
presence of explorers and archaeologists who have been there before. They would
have arrived on horse or mule back through spiny land in terrible dry heat or
rain in the rainy season.
Opinion With Qualification
Sunday, February 11, 2018
I have some
friends who write this sort of stuff:
I went to see the Isle of Dogs. It was great.
Two presidential busts of JFK arrived in the mail and he isn’t even an interesting
to have opinions. They voice them but they don’t qualify their statements. I do
I was at
Starbucks this afternoon.
I want to
ask, “Why were you at Starbucks? Was it memorable? Who did you have coffee
One of the photographs
illustrating this blog was one I meant to take and did. The circumstances that
allowed me to shoot it are not likely to occur in this 21st century (
I no longer teach). Two of my favourite models were hired by the now defunct
Focal Point Photography School on 10th Avenue for one of my classes.
students were taking photographs (following my instructions) I noticed the bare
feet and the patent leather shoes. My only regret is that I did not give the
photograph more of an exposure so I could notice detail on the shoe on the
right. The shoe on the left was too close to the edge. With Photoshop I have
shot was an accident. All the photographs on that one roll of film I took with
a Canon Pellix (I have used it only once). It was given to me by Abraham
Rogatnick’s lawyer after Rogatnick died.
One of the
maxims of photography is to never use a new camera or one you are unfamiliar
with on a job. Luckily I was not on a job. Before the shoots with the two
models I went to a tea shop across the street from the school. I was not too
sure how to load the camera. I tried several times. Somehow when I snapped a
couple of shots (in the tea shop and at my table) so as to advance the film in
the just loaded camera there was an unintended double exposure which I really
like. It was an accident.
For me the
shoes and the bare feet have enough information to intrigue. But there is not
enough information to figure it out. Why are those two women there? I find the
I have explained and qualified why I like the two photographs I took with that vintage Canon Pellix.