Vancouver - The Death of Good Taste & Elegance
Saturday, July 28, 2018
|July 28 2018
|July 28 2018
For years I played the game in my head of writing up a guest
list for a reception for a Queen Elizabeth visit to Vancouver. First on that list was architect
For years I especially enjoyed taking portraits of Vancouver
architects for magazines. I found that they were elegantly well dressed, had
manners and good taste plus they were well-versed in almost any topic.
Another of my favourite architects was Ned Pratt whom I photographed many times. I regret I
never asked him the question, “What lad
did you send to our former Modernist style Vancouver Public Library on Robson
and Burrard to look up Piet Mondrian?”
The fact is that the lad came back with the goods and that
produced in 1954 the Dal Grauer Substation which is right next to the Electra
Bulding (previously called the BC Electric and then later the BC Hydro
Building) also designed by Pratt and finished in 1957.
"Ned" Pratt FRAIC (15 July 1911 – 24 February 1996) was an American-Canadian
oarsman and architect. Pratt competed in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los
Angeles where he won a bronze medal in double sculls. In 1939 he joined the
Vancouver architectural firm Sharp and Thompson, where he remained for the
duration of his career. During his career he played an important role in
bringing modern architecture to the Canadian west coast.
For many years, for those who noticed, the substation was a
living Mondrian monument with a lot more style than the many other buildings
around the world (look it up, I did) that mimic the style. In fact the
background of Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC Show is a Mondrian!
|Dal Grauer Substation - Photograph Art Jones
Sometime in the early 90s the city forgot the building and
placed an opaque (it has yellowed with age) plastic shield which would protect
pedestrians on Burrard from an electric explosion.
The substation is now in awful shape, grass and weeds grow
on the sidewalk and most in Vancouver would never suspect of the building’s
To make it all worse it seems that a yearly Vancouver photographic
exhibition and festival has placed something in front that defies the former
elegance of the building and its architect.
I have written about all this in how our city abandons the
designs of good architects from the past who are no longer with us. Paul
Merrick’s CBC on Hamilton won a Governor General’s Award. Ugly, neither here
nor there quasi tall buildings now hide the building. That most maligned Eaton’s
building designed by Cesar Pelli is now a (not even ugly) bland headquarters
Vancouver is a city in which elegance and style is firmly in
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel - Un Militante
Friday, July 27, 2018
|Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (born November 26, 1931) is an
Argentine activist, community organizer, art painter, writer and sculptor. He
was the recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to
Argentina's last civil-military dictatorship (1976-1983), during which he was
detained, tortured, and held without trial for 14 months; during that period he
also received, among other distinctions, the Pope John XXIII Peace Memorial.
The key word in the above reference from Wikipedia is
activist. In Argentina, my place of birth, we prefer militante. The word has no
connection with the more violent English equivalent militant. An Argentine
militant does not tote guns. An Argentine militant is steadfast in his/her
beliefs and acts but usually avoids violence.
Some years ago Pérez Esquivel came to town and I was able
to snap 10 exposures. My favourite had him smiling at my camera.
Yesterday was the last day for me to get all my
photographs ready and give them to Nora Patrich who was on her way to Buenos
Aires today. We are having a joint show at the Galería Vermeer on September 20.
Somehow my portrait of Pérez Esquivel was to wishy-washy. He doesn’t look very
militante in it. Then at the last possible moment, yesterday in the afternoon I
spotted the 7th exposure.
Now I feel that my photographs for our show will be
balanced and its Argentine contents just fine.
A Woman of Style & Elegance
Thursday, July 26, 2018
never had an arts education and I am simply an art enthusiast, I have no real
knowledge of the history of art. But like the amateur that I am, I tend to like
realist painting and have a few problems with Picasso’s cubist portraits and
I may be
part of a legion that admires and appreciates the Pre-Raphaelites. When I
photographed this apparition who posed for me for 30 years (and perhaps even
more) the apparition she was, and is, seemed to be firmly grounded and
particularly to my large (alas long gone!) studio on Robson and Granville.
But I was
much too ignorant to catch on that while I have admired a Waterhouse (John William
Waterhouse) that I am not related to, I did not see the contemporary (as in the
end of last century) possibilities of my apparition being photographed
in a Pre-Raphaelite setting.
A few years
ago a woman, a beautiful woman she was, looked at my photographs and said (the
ultimate insult beyond something like, “I think your nudes are tasteful
[ugh!]), “I don’t do boudoir.”
There is no
way these snaps (they are not exactly sharp) which I took with a Nikon FM-2 and
colour negative film could be deemed as boudoir. The light came from Eaton’s/Sears that was on
the other side of the street. It was a huge block of a white wall that reflected light
into my studio, went to the opposite white wall, and came back to lightly open
up the shadows of her face.
is not the failing talent of this photographer but the class and style of my
apparition whom I will name Tarren.
As I wrote
here and here about the lack of good taste, elegance and style, Tarren has style, elegance and good taste
A lucky man I have been and am.
Jerome Charyn's Marilyn the Wild Reprised
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
It is frustrating not to be a poet or a good writer. This photograph (even though I took it) is beautiful to me. It is full of an erotic tension (the hands inside the stretched body fishnets) which is ameliorated by the softness of the Kodak Black & White Infrared film I used. In my past as a photographer my favourite subject would come into my studio and I would shoot for hours experimenting with concepts. Now the few subjects I have left want a printed menu before the fact.
Twice divorced at twenty-five, she could
chew up husbands faster than any other Bronx-Manhattan girl who had bombed out
of Sarah Lawrence. Isaac had always been there to find husbands for her,
genteel men with forty-thousand dollar jobs and a flush of college degrees. Her
father sat at Headquarters behind the paneled walls of the First Deputy Police
Commissioner. He’s been invited to Paris,
she heard, as the World’s Greatest Cop (of 1970-71), or something close to
that. And Coen was Isaac’s fool, a spy
attached to the First Dep.
Coen spied an alcove about twenty feet
behind Marilyn. It was the entrance to an abandoned toilet. He picked up skirt,
blouse and suitcase. Marilyn carried her shoes. The alcove was narrow, and they
had nowhere to lie down. Marilyn leaned into a dirty wall. Coen’s pants dropped
to his knees. Their bellies met under the coats. “Blue Eyes,” she said. Soon
her mumbling was indistinct.
Marilyn the Wild, Jerome Charyn 1993
Read more »
Obama's Little Beast & Biden's Neon-Green Dodge Challenger T/A
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
For three nights I have had a pleasant companion in my bed
(besides my Rosemary). It has been Andrew Shaffer’s entertaining Hope Never Dies
(labeled an Obama Biden Mystery
so there are more to come) whodunit.
I do not want to be challenged for copyright infringement
nor do I want to reveal the plot. But that does not mean I cannot share with
you a few interesting (2) other protagonists besides Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
One of them is a black 2017 Cadillac Escalade called the
Little Beast (I will not explain the name here!).
A black Cadillac Escalade pulled up to the curb in front of
me. The truck-sized SUV sat there, idling. Was my ride [Uber] early? If there
was an Uber sign on the dash, I had no way of knowing – I couldn’t see anything
through the heavily tinted windows.
Suppose this wasn’t my ride. Suppose it was some enemy of
the state, some deranged lunatic fixated on a former vice president…
My heart rate began to ratchet up. I had no Secret Service
protection anymore. No private security. I didn’t even have my pistol, because
who brings a gun to a fueneral? The vehicle just sat there, towering over me.
There was nothing stopping a passenger from rolling down one of the windows and
poking me away. I inhaled sharply and squeezed the bouquet tight. Water dripped
out of the bottom and onto the cement.
The tinted back window lowered.
“Need a lift?”Barack Obama asked.
As for Joe Biden his car is a neon-green 2017 Dodge
I slipped into the driver’s seat and started her up. She
purred to life. A real beauty, no denying it. Over the sound of the engine, I
shouted, “3.6-liter Pentastar VVT V6 engine with an 8-speed Torque-Flight
automatic transmission that really gets up and goes.”
Do you wonder if Joe Biden plans to run for President of the
United States in 2020? The last few chapters of this book might give you
A would be detective running for President does have an interesting parallel:
Jerome Charyn Winter Warning
How to Have Sex in a Canoe
Monday, July 23, 2018
In my Sunday NY Times I magazine I read this delightful essay called How to Have Sex in a Canoe. Here it is.
I stopped and smiled when I read Pierre Berton's 1973 quote:
"A Canadian is somebody who knows how to make love in a canoe.”
Pierre Berton is special to me because his 1985 book Vimy
(many say this battle made Canada a country) was the first Canadian book I read. It took me (from our moving to Vancouver in 1975) eleven years before I touched anything by a Canadian. I have made up for lost time since. I especially adore poets George Bowering, Gerry Gilbert and Susan Musgrave.
Few in Canada might acknowledge American born William Gibson as a Canadian. I would.
Ektachrome, Oldsmobile Achievas & GPs
Sunday, July 22, 2018
|Colin Horricks, MD
Life at almost 75 is a life of less. Relatives and friends
die. I no longer have Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Polaroid pack film, wide track
Pontiacs or even Oldsmobile Achievas. And somewhere in my past they stopped
making bacon flavoured Eggo Waffles.
Life at almost 75 is more. It is more noise, more choices
(that should not be), more concerns and more health issues.
Of that latter I have been informed by our family G.P. Colin
Horricks that he is retiring on August 24.
My guess is that we will now be at
the mercy of walk-in clinics.
This leads me to reminiscing about our first family GD in
Buenos Aires (the type that went to my home). As a child when I liked something
I would eat it until more than full. I particularly liked apples. In Spanish when
you eat something as of there were no tomorrow the ill-feeling effect is call
an empache. My mother would call Doctor Imperiale and tell him, “Alex se
I remember that he had a thin moustache and wore dark-rimmed
glasses. His treatment was always the same. For breakfast it was Melba toast
and for lunch and dinner a soft cheese, soda water and (yes!) apple sauce.
The GPs that came after I have no memory of but I do
remember Eliot Mintz who was our doctor in Vancouver until he died.
Dr. Mintz was not your usual GP. He drove a Lotus and bred
blue Chow dogs. He had another special talent. I took my oldest daughter Ale
when she was around 12 to see him as she had a mass of warts on her knees. Dr.
Mintz sat her down and produced a penny. He told her to rub each wart with it
and then bury it in the garden and to make sure nobody saw her do it. Within a
week the warts were gone.
Dr. Horricks when I first went to him made me smile. For one
he is friendly. But his name reminded me of my Filipino
uncle, Tió Luís Miranda who would offer me (I was full grown adult at the time)
Horlicks telling me it was very good for me.
Horlicks - Wikipedia
Horlicks is a
malted milk hot drink developed by founders James & William Horlick. It was
first sold as "Horlick's Infant and Invalids Food," soon adding
"aged and travelers" to their label. In the early 20th century it was
sold as a powdered meal replacement drink.
No matter how busy Dr. Horricks might be Rosemary and I
could call him on short notice and he would see us. We will miss him.
Dr. Horricks wore my mother’s red shawl and wrote this
. Read it because it is lovely,