Aja in Mark Budgen's Tub
Saturday, October 06, 2018
|Aja in Mark Budgen's tub|
A bathtub in Spanish
is a tad more complex. In Mexico you have tinas de baño but in my native Buenos
Aires it is called a bañadera. In Spain they opt for bañera.
In my youth in Buenos
Aires there were some roofless tourist buses that were call bañaderas. I never
had the opportunity to ride in one. The classic Buenos Aires bañaderas had curved
sides so that they indeed resemble fat tubs.
From the moment I arrived in with my family in Vancouver I
started taking photographs of women in tubs. Obviously there was no reason to
have them clothed in them. Because of that and especially when the tubs had no
water the resulting photographs would not meet the cautious standard of my blog
or pass muster with social media.
It was in the late 90s that one of my first gallery showings
had 13 different women posing (with water) in tubs.
But I think that these photographs of Aja (she pronounced
her name Asia) were really the first ones where the idea gelled in my head. I
had met Aja on Wrech beach were I took some photographs of her. But later on I
found out that she was a friend of my now departed friend, writer Mark Budgen.
I do not remember the exact circumstances but I photographed Aja in Budgen’s
When people are alive you sometime do not ask them questions
that you later regret not having asked. I regret now that I never did ask Aja
or Budgen what her surname is.
One of the delights to taking photographs of people is to be
able to photograph them more than once and especially when years have flown by.
For me the bathtub is a place for reflection and thought.
It is a place to read the NY Times editorials. Unlike Jorge Luís Borges who
liked his tub baths in the morning. I do
not find inspiration (in the morning, that is!) to figure out if the previous
evening’s dreams are worth pursuing for a story or, as would be in my case, to
use that dream as a direction for a photograph.
A Microcosmos String Quartet Ear Cleaning
Friday, October 05, 2018
Back from a two-week trip to my native Buenos Aires a huge
city with a transportation system that Vancouver could not possibly have but a
bank interest lending rate of 60% that thankfully Vancouver does not have I am
having a bit of trouble adjusting.
At my age of 76 I can look back at the decade of the 80s
when I would dress in black and wear my Big John boots and go to punk concerts
at the Smilin’ Buddha and then for High Test beer at the Marble Arch. Those
days are gone and they have been replaced by gentile evenings at Early Music
Vancouver/Pacific Baroque Orchestra concerts.
But at my age of 76 I find it difficult to remove myself
from our comfortable Stickley bed to go
anywhere, be it the theatre, dance or concerts.
My Manila-born grandmother (but very Spanish) would have
said to me:
“Ante pereza, diligencia.” That translates to “When lazy
practice due diligence.”
Before Rosemary and I headed for Buenos Aires I made sure I
had reserved two tickets for last Friday’s Microcosmos Quartet
To be frank if I were to move to a desert island the program
for Friday (see below) would certainly not be on my agenda. My friend ex-music critic Les Wiseman would differ, He once told me that if he were alone on a desert island he would take Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica
as it would take many hours and more to figure out the complexity of the album.
But very important, with my friend Graham Walker (the only
person I know willing to go to concerts of the Microcosmos Quartet or the
Turning Point Ensemble
) these concerts challenge our status quo, clean out the
wax in our ears and make us sit (but still stand to attention) in an effort to
understand music that may not be to our understanding.
Sitting on the first row of people’s living rooms, the sound
is intimate (loud, too) and the smiles on the faces of the quartet can be contagious.
It is educational to have the musicians explain the history behind the music. And
sometimes like this past Friday, it is exceptional to have a live, contempory
composer right there to explain the composition. That the live composer
happened to be the very funny (serious he would make a scary high school
principal) Bradshaw Pack was a bonus.
That the Microcosmos Quartet pursues composers that are
such as Erich Korngold
or commissions living composers makes Vancouver, sometimes seen as a cultural
backwater, a winner when compared to my staid, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, stuck
in the 19th
century both in music and in dance.
Y tiene medias de mujer
Wednesday, October 03, 2018
sobre la forma de tener miedo – Julio Cortázar
|Palermo, Buenos Aires, 29 de septiembre de 2018|
pueblo de Escocia venden libros con una página en blanco perdida en algún lugar
lector desemboca en esa página al dar las tres de la tarde, muere.
En la plaza
del Quirinal, en Roma, hay un punto que conocían los iniciados hasta el siglo
cual, con luna llena, se ven moverse lentamente las estatuas de los Dióscuros
que luchan con sus caballos encabritados
al terminar la zona costanera, hay un malecón que entra en el mar y la noche.
Se oye ladrar a un perro más allá de la última farola.
está extendiendo pasta dentrífica en el cepillo. De pronto ve, acostada de
espaldas, una diminuta imagen de mujer, de coral o quizá de miga de pan
Al abrir el
ropero para sacar una camisa, cae un viejo almanaque que se deshace, se
deshoja, cubre la ropa blanca con miles de sucias mariposas de papel.
Se sabe de
un viajante de comercio a quien le empezó a doler la muñeca izquierda,
justamente debajo del reloj de pulsera. Al arrancarse el reloj, saltó la
sangre: la herida mostraba la huella de unos dientes muy finos.
termina de examinarnos y nos tranquiliza. Su voz grave y cordial precede los
medicamentos cuya receta escribe ahora, sentado ante su mesa. De cuando en
cuando alza la cabeza y sonríe, alentándonos. No es de cuidado, en una semana
estaremos bien. Nos arrellanamos en nuestro sillón, felices, y miramos
distraídamente en torno. De pronto, en la penumbra debajo de la mesa vemos las
piernas del médico. Se ha subido los pantalones hasta los muslos, y tiene
medias de mujer.
Buenos Aires - la ciudad junto al río inmovil
Tuesday, October 02, 2018
For reasons that I will explain in a further blog our
last night in Buenos Aires was spent in the Hotel Lancaster on Córdoba corner
with Reconquista. Rosemary asked for a room with a bathtub. There was no room
available that night with one (17 young boys and girls from Pernambuco, Brazil
perhaps had all asked for those rooms ) so we were given a lovely suite. When I
moved the curtains to one side I saw a narrow bit of space between two dark
buildings. There before my incredulous eyes was my first andonly glimpse of the Río de
La Plata in our two week trip to Buenos Aires.
Perhaps as an old man of 76 and a wife of a few years
less when we fly we pick aisles seats. In an almost 10,000 Km flight if we had
been sitting by the window (coming back it was all in daylight) we might have
seen the Amazon jungle the Orinoco and the River Plate which Jorge Luís Borges
in the poem below calls “el río inmovil” or river that is still.
Curiously I believe that there is a parallel between the
very large Buenos Aires of my birth and the Vancouver that is my home now. From
our former home in Kerrisdale or now in Kits I never have the impression that I
am by the sea. In Buenos Aires one rarely remembers that the river is right
there. Just like many who live in Surrey have never been to the Vancouver Art
Gallery and vice versa, the Surrey Art Gallery, those who live in the greater
part of metropolitan Buenos Aires never see the river.
To me that narrow view of the Río de La Plata was magical
in that it brought a childhood nostalgia of fishing in it or seeing it from the
train that took me from Coghlan, where I lived to the Retiro train station in
One of the first names for the river was mar dulce (the
sweet river) as that is how in Spanish we describe water that is not sea water.
In the exquisite poem by Borges Juan López y John Ward
(translated into English after the Spanish one, the author again makes
reference to the Río de La Plata as the rio inmovil. Whoever translated the
poem was innacurate in translating inmovil (does no move) to tawny. The poem is
about two young men, one Argentine the other British who both fought and died
on the Malvinas. Of them Borges writes:
each one of them was Cain, and each was Abel.
G. A. Bürger
No acabo de entender
por qué me afectan de este modo las cosas
sucedieron a Bürger
fechas están en la enciclopedia)
de las ciudades de la llanura,
río que tiene una sola margen
que crece la palmera, no el pino.
de todos los hombres,
traicionado y fue traidor,
de amor muchas veces
la noche del insomnio,
cristales grises del alba,
mereció la gran voz de Shakespeare
que están las otras)
y la de
Angelus Silesius de Breslau
falso descuido limó algún verso,
estilo de su época.
que el presente no es otra cosa
partícula fugaz del pasado
estamos hechos de olvido:
corolarios de Spinoza
magias del miedo.
ciudad junto al río inmóvil,
mil años después de la muerte de un dios
historia que refiero es antigua),
está solo y ahora,
ahora, lima unos versos.
LÓPEZ Y JOHN WARD
en suerte una época extraña.
planeta había sido parcelado en distintos países, cada uno provisto de
lealtades, de queridas memorias, de un pasado sin duda heroico, de derechos, de
agravios, de una mitología peculiar, de próceres de bronce, de aniversarios, de
demagogos y de símbolos. Esa división, cara a los cartógrafos, auspiciaba las
había nacido en la ciudad junto al río inmóvil; Ward, en las afueras de la
ciudad por la que caminó Father Brown. Había estudiado castellano para leer el
profesaba el amor de Conrad, que le había sido revelado en una aula de la calle
sido amigos, pero se vieron una sola vez cara a cara, en unas islas demasiado
famosas, y cada uno de los dos fue Caín, y cada uno, Abel.
enterraron juntos. La nieve y la corrupción los conocen.
que refiero pasó en un tiempo que no podemos entender.
Juan Lopez and John Ward
It was their luck to be born into a strange time.
The planet had been parceled out among various countries,
Each one provided with loyalties, cherished memories,
a past undoubtedly heroic, with rights, with wrongs, with
mythology, with bronze forefathers, with
anniversaries, with demagogues and symbols.
This arbitrary division was favorable for wars.
Lopez was born in the city beside the tawny river;
Ward, on the outskirts of the city where Father
Brown walked. He had studied Spanish in order
to read Quijote.
The other one professed a love for Conrad, who
had been revealed to him in a classroom on
Viamonte Street. They might have been friends,
but they saw each other face to face only once,
on some overly famous islands, and each one of
them was Cain, and each was Abel.
They were buried together. Snow and corruption
The incident I mention occurred in a time that
by Jorge Luis Borges