Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'
Saturday, November 24, 2018
|Photograph -Gregg Kulick|
|Photograph - John Filo|
A few weeks back I did my usual search when I passed by a
Vancouver Public Library branch. I went in to check out the reject books they
sell. This one, Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young (2012) may have been a reject
as it has a note on the first page that reads: food stains f. 9-73 JM/SHL.
When my Rosemary and I moved from our big Kerrisdale house
now almost three years ago to our small Kitsilano Duplex I found myself with
the problem of having to deal with 4000 books. I soon learned that finding
homes for some of my books was an impossibly stressful job. I gave some to my
friend Don Stewart a Macleod’s Books and some mystery books to shop in East
Hastings in Burnaby. But I believe that I loaded my Malibu with perhaps 800 books
and went a couple of blocks from our house where there was a large metal bin. I
threw every one of the books. I was too shocked to cry. I remember that the
first book I threw, Dostoyevsky’s short stories was, one that sailed while I
loudly said, "Goodbye Mr. Dostoyevsky”.
I vowed never to buy any more books so I would not have this
problem again. But then there are those fifty cent or dollar books at the VPL
that cry to be liberated in the same way those sad pooches and cats look at you
behind their cages at the SPCA.
I saw the Neil Young book and I knew I had to buy it because
I was sure I would find particular information in it from the horse’s mouth,
how was it that he came to write Ohio, which happens to be my favourite Canadian
The citation I was looking for I found in Chapter 33 but the
frosting was Chapter 21 where he explains how he writes songs.
As I have written before. Leonard Cohen is beyond being
Canadian. He is of the world. Perhaps the same applies to Joni Mitchell. But
Neil Young to me is Canada. The chords he plays are uniquely his and thus
uniquely a Canadian sound that has no parallel anywhere.
When I write a song it starts with a feeling. I can hear
something in my head or feel it in my heart. It may be that I just picked up
the guitar and mindlessly started playing. That’s the way a lot of songs begin.
When you do that, you are not thinking. Thinking is the worst thing for writing
a song. So you just start playing and something new comes out. Where does it
come from? Who cares? Just keep it and go with it. That’s what I do. I never
judge it. I believe it. It came as a gift when I picked up my musical instrument
and it came through me playing with the instrument. The chords and the melody
just appeared. Now is not the time for interrogation or analysis. Now is the
time to get to know the song, not change it before you even know it. It’s like
a wild animal, a living thing. Be careful not to scare it away. That’s my
method, or one of my methods, at least.
I was just thinking that I am putting a lot of pressure on myself
to write a song. That never works. Songs are like rabbits and they like to come
out of their holes when you’re not looking, so if you stand there waiting they
will just burrow down and come out somewhere far away, a new place where you
can’t see them. So I feel like I am standing over a song hole. That will never
result in success. The more we talk about this, the worse it will get. So that
is why we are changing the subject.
Chapter 21 – Waging Heavy Peace – Neal Young
So anyway, we are in Butano Canyon at Steve [Stephen
Stills] and Leo’s place, and the tragedy of Kent State had just happened. Time
Magazine had a picture a picture of the girl, Allison Krause, after the
National Guard had killed her and three other victims. We were looking at it
together. She was lying there on some pavement with another student kneeling
down looking at her, as I remember.
These people were our audience. That’s exactly who we
were playing for. It was our movement, our culture, our Woodstock generation.
We were all one. It was a personal thing, the bond we held between the
musicians and the people of the culture: hippies, students, flower children,
call them what you will. We were all together.
The weight of the picture cut us to the quick. We had
heard and seen the news on TV, but this picture was the first time we had to
stop and reflect. It was different from the Internet, before social networking
to say the least. So full of this feeling of disbelief and sadness. I picked up
my guitar and started playing some chords and immediately wrote “Ohio” four
dead in Ohio. The next day, we went into the studio in L.A. and cut the song.
Before a week had passed it was all over the radio. It was really fast for
those times; really fast. All the stations played “Ohio.” There was no
censoring by programmers. Programming services were not even around; DJs played
whatever they wanted on FM stations. We were underground on FM. There was no
pushback for criticizing the government. This was America. Freedom of speech
was taken very seriously in our era. We were speaking for our generation. We
were speaking for ourselves. It rang true. The U.S. government has still not
apologized to the families of the fallen four of Ohio.
Chapter 33 – Waging Heavy Peace –Neil Young
Cam Wilson, Allen Stiles - White Album Revisited with a Little Help From Their Friends
Friday, November 23, 2018
|Cam Wilson, Allen Stiles, November 22 2018|
Yesterday, November 22, my Rosemary and I attended the one-of
(alas!) presentation of The Beatles –White Album – Revisited
at the St. James
Community Centre on West 10th
What follows will be a long winded semi-review (semi because
I am an obsolete, redundant and retired photographer and not a music critic)
that will bore many.
|Cam Wilson's music stand|
When my Yorkshire-born friend Andrew Taylor sometime at the
end of 1962 ( we were both in Mexico City) played me Love Me Do (he was all excited) I was not. The song did not affect
me one way or another. I was listening to 50s and 60s West Coast
Jazz and the remarkable at the time release of Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd’s Jazz
Samba. During those early moments of my darkroom endeavours in the middle of the night at Mexico City College, I listened to Stan
Getz with Eddie Sauter in the marvellously dissonant Focus, or Gerry Mulligan and Miles Davis.
While in the Argentine Navy as conscript in 1965, 1966 I
worked translating sensitive documents for the US Senior Naval Advisor. Because
I was a hopeless typist (dyslexia) I had an Argentine/Irish secretary who was
crazy about the Beatles. I disagreed and told her I opted for Andre Previn’s
jazz piano or Astor Piazzolla.
|November 1998 - Photograph Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
But I did succumb. It happened when a lovely girlfriend, Suzy,
(my second ever) insisted we go and see the Richard Lester Beatles film Help!
The title song was so extraordinary to my ears and I was so mesmerized by Suzy
that to this day it is my favourite Beatles song.
I was never a screaming fan of the Beatles and preferred rock'n roll of the punk kind.
With that out of the way I can now proceed to my take on
last night’s concert.
Jack Moore was a Vancouver journalist who famously wrote (I
remember) that when the Queen Elizabeth liner sank in Hong Kong Harbour on
January 9 1972, “The Queen Elizabeth liner sank today in Hong Kong Harbour.”
And that was the extent of his piece.
Of last night’s concert I could write: Wow, or Wow! Or Wow! Wow!
I am not Jack Moore. He was a journalist.
But after experiencing a nicely long and complete rendition
of the The Beatles (White Album) I was astounded by the level of excellence,
virtuosity, humour and skill of our
Sometimes I believe that Vancouver (the NoFun City
say) is full of mediocrity. I tell my foreign friends that Vancouver is
beautiful in spite of its architecture. But this is not so if one thinks of the
music and dance culture of Vancouver and this exciting exception.
Vancouver has a poor memory for what came before and
particularly for all the excellent events of our past.
Few might remember that on November 29, 1998 The Little
Chamber Music Series that Could
(headed by Allen Stiles and Cam Wilson paid
homage (on its 30th
anniversary) to the Beatles album at the
Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
I remember because I attended the performance with my
Rosemary and the Georgia Straight had assigned me to photograph Stiles and
Wilson. The preview by Douglas Hughes is reproduced here.
Last night’s concert made visible the long bench of musical
talent in our city.
I must begin with Cameron Wilson, the composer. Few might
remember his lovely composition for a Pablo Neruda poem The Sea
that was commissioned
by the then musical director of the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra. I know it
was lovely because I was there with my wife.
What is particularly singular about Cam Wilson who plays a
very good violin is that he has a dry humour (a poker-faced dry humour) which in
many ways was palpable last night.
I didn’t recognize guitarist Ron Samworth whom I enjoyed in
a Turning Point Ensemble
Concert dedicated to Frank Zappa
because his hair last
night was shorter. But he dazzled me and the audience with some flashy electric
guitar riffs and his arrangement of Glass Onion
and Wild Honey
Pie was music to
my ears particularly Wild Honey Pie that had a few inclusions of Thelonious
Hard Rubber Orchestra John Korsud (I am able to write his
name correctly because I do not use auto-correct) trumpet player’s
baroque-influenced Sexy Sadie for strings was lovely and much too short for me.
During the whole concert his trumpet (muted or not) in conjunction with
trombonist Rob McKenzie and French hornist Nick Anderson gave the orchestra
directed by Les Dala a solid and very live sound.
Clarinet player Mike Braverman was superb in his arranged Balkana
Birthday. It is not often that one gets to hear an all-metal clarinet.
I must insert here a musical joke. No musical review ever
spares the bassoon player. We know that we use a viola to start a bassoon fire.
But the fact is that the evening not only featured four superb bassoonists of the BottomsUP!Bassoon Quartet
(Rebecca Norman, Isaac Bull, Michael Berton & Vladimir Konieczny) playing
AK Coope’s arrangement of Why Don’t We Do it in the Road, but also a viola
(Lowyn Ball) and drummer Allan Dione who played two numbers with his accordion.
The accordion is no bandoneón to this Argentine but it did very well in Sandy
Fiddes’s (a violinist with a lovely ear in my ears!) tango influenced Mother
Composer John Oliver's Pig Planet/Piggies proved that Vancouver's avant-garde new music composers (like Cam Wilson) do smile, do have fun and do charm us. I had no idea that Oliver could sing!
There were a few arrangements by Bill Coon that I enjoyed. The one I liked best besides his influence in Kate Hammett- Vaughan's Cry Baby Cry, was Blackbird which feautured vocalist Steve Maddock.
The singers (one long bench is not enough to seat them all)
were superb in their variety. We were all charmed by the very young Duncan Bain.
Kate Hammet- Vaughan was very funny in her rendition of Cry Baby Cry.
I had never ever heard Marin Patenade. I was slightly
distracted from listening to her soaring high notes because of her tight
rubberized pants. Her costume was the most noticeable one of the evening. And one of the best compositions of the evening (with Patenade as vocalist) was Cam Wilson's arrangment of While My Spanish Guitar Gently Weeps on the Set of a Spaghetti Western that puposely made it sound like a composition by Ennio Morricone.
The men singers where all just right and I was particularly
fascinated by Dave Gibbons (he of the tobacco and whiskey voice) who in Honey Pie
(another Sandy Fiddes arrangement) his use of a small electric bullhorn made
his voice sound like that from a 30s record.
I don’t ever go to see rock concerts of aging rock stars. I
avoid them and prefer to play their CDs. But I cannot not mention that
white-haired guitarist Ed Henderson in Everybody Got Something to Hide Except
for Me and My Monkey
and in Daniel III (Rocky’s Legacy
) played one hell of a
mean electric guitar (while standing and singing).
Fine electric and standup bass player Laurence Mollerop was omitted from
the night's program.His electric bass was especially good when it was
mated to Ron Samworth and Ed Henderson's electric guitars.
Of a most special note was Cam Wilson's arrangement of Revolution in Memorium: John Lennon
which featured Andrea Minden on musical saw. What was so special is that Wilson connected it to one of my fave musical works of the 20th century, Olivier Messaiien's Quartet for the End of Time.
It was the presence of that young Duncan Bain (and his
obvious excitement) surrounded by old coots like me and most of the audience that
gave me the hope that what we experienced last night will not be a one-of
That this 2018 The Beatles- White Album – Revisited will
only will have been heard once and not in a venue like the Queen Elizabeth or
the Orpheum is a shame and a disgrace for this city.
We need more PALs.
Armonía y desarmonía - Harmony & disharmony
Thursday, November 22, 2018
In the late 70s I photographed Jill in her kitchen and in her tub. Somehow her kitchen became perhaps the first place where I photographed a woman completely undraped. I look over these negatives every once in a while and I note that I like them lots. I would probably not return to a kitchen to take photographs like these. But they do remain in my memory and especially those dimples.
Cada cuerpo tiene
su armonía y
En algunos casos
la suma de armonías
puede ser casi
produce algo mejor
que la belleza.
Every body has
its harmony and
In some cases
the sum of its
can almost be
Once - The Eleventh Commandment
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
|Lisa Taylor - Photograph by Helmut Newton - 1975|
Being a product of the 20th century and having been born in
Argentina and having lived for years in Mexico I was exposed to a lot of machismo.
My father left home when I was 8 so I was raised by my
mother and grandmother. I complained to my mother that I did not like the yolk
of my fried eggs to be broken. She told me, “Alex if you don’t like how I fry
your eggs fry them yourself.” And so I learned to fry eggs.
When I married my Rosemary
I told her that I wanted her to
sew some buttons and to hem my jeans. She told me to do that myself. And so I
learned to sew.
In Mexico the culture of machismo taught men that a wife was
the mother of your children and if you wanted to have fun you needed a
mistress. At one time the Mexican Social Security system accommodated both.
As a person who was raised in the bosom of the Mother Church
I learned that the Virgin Mary was a virgin and that I had to believe that
under the pain of mortal sin and an eternity in hell.
With all that out of the way, I have to explain as best as
can how I became a feminist.
My first glimpse into the idea of feminism happened when a photograph
by Helmut Newton for Vogue US, May 1975 shot in Saint Tropez of model
Lisa Taylor caught my eye. The photograph fundamentally changed how I saw women.
That photograph was my first inkling that there was no
difference between women and men except for some organs here or there. The
woman in this photograph was looking at the man in just the same way that men
(or at least this one) look at women.
In 1975 when Rosemary decided that we should move to
Vancouver from Mexico City, I really had no say. She was the one who made the
decisions in our family. She particularly made all financial decisions. I
remember that for our first daughter she told me, “I am going to work until
Friday and then I will have the birth induced (in those days it was the way to
go) and then I will go back to work on Monday." This she did.
In 1986 Rosemary told me, “I don’t want to live in Burnaby
in a small house without a garden anymore. We are moving to this house we are
going to buy in Kerrisdale." We moved and I remember that our monthly mortgage
was $3500. She gave me a weekly allowance.
Perhaps it was some sort of feminism that made this man take
our two daughters (at different times) to buy their first bra at Sears!
Through the years I have photographed many women in various
stages of undress. In all those years I have discerned that women and men are
not the same. I have found out that in photography, particularly of the erotic
kind women have a far finer and elaborate imagination. I soon learned to take
Never have I put a woman in my studio in a situation that
was not by her choice or in a position that I myself would not take. I think
that I have always shown respect in my photography of women and taken into
consideration their dignity as a human being.
With all that out of the way, imagine my glee at reading this
short little essay by the Uruguayan Mario Benedetti (I will put the Spanish
version and then translate it into English). It would seem that there are (were
as they are both dead) two men, Newton and Benedetti who were feminists in
their own time.
padre de la iglesia
ordene a la mujer
codiciar al hombre
de su prójima.
No father of the church
has been known to explain
why a commandment eleven
does not exist
that would order the woman
to not covet her neighbour’s man.
They were all him.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
|Geraldine Chaplin & Carlos Saura (no credit found) |
As a little boy in Buenos Aires in the late 40s one of my
heroes was Charlie Chaplin. His name sounds a lot more delightful in Argentine
Spanish as we called him Carlitos Chaplín. Perhaps because Chaplin’s early films had no
sound he was that more appreciated. His films did not need subtitles.
In later years I transferred my interest to Chaplin’s daughter and since
I am an admirer of Carlos Saura I have seen all the films she made with him and
in particular with his 1976 film Cría Cuervos. It is only now while researching this
blog that I have found out that Chaplin and Saura have been partners for a long
When I saw this lovely short essay (below) by Eduardo Galeano on
Geraldine Chaplin I smiled. I also believe that these little essays from a book
called Bocas del Tiempo (Voices of Time) which he wrote in 2006, with another
book Mujeres that Galeano wrote before he died in April 2015, somehow reveal an
idea, a method of counteracting our smartphone-generated short attention span.
I have read at least four of these Galeano books with short essays as well as
those of Mario Benedetti. Of course both Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luís Borges
excelled at short stories.
Movies - Eduardo Galeano
Geraldine estaba empezando a trabajar en una película, en una aldea perdida en las
montañas de Turquía.
primera tarde, salió a caminar. No había nadie, casi nadie, en las calles.
Pocos hombres, mujer ninguna. Pero a la vuelta de una esquina se topó, de
sopetón, con un enjambre de muchachos.
miró a los costados, miró hacia atrás: estaba cercada, no tenía escapatoria. La
garganta se negó a gritar. Sin palabras, ofreció lo que tenía: el reloj, el
gestos, los muchachos le dijeron que no, que no era eso. Y hablando en algo más
o menos parecido al inglés, le preguntaron si de veras ella era la hija de
atónita, asintió. Y recién entonces advirtió que los muchachos se habían pintado
bigotitos de carbón y cada uno tenía una rama a modo de bastón..
Geraldine was starting
to work on a film in a lost village in the mountains of Turkey.
On the first
afternoon she went for a walk. There was nobody, almost nobody around on the
streets. Few men, no women. But upon
turning a corner she suddenly ran into a swarm of boys.
She looked to the
sides and behind. She was surrounded. She could not get away. She could not
scream. Without words she offered them her watch and money.
With gestures the
boys signalled that was not so. And then in speaking in something that
resembled English they asked her if she really was Charley Chaplin’s daughter.
admitted so. And it was only then that she noticed that they boys had painted
on themselves little moustaches with charcoal and they had sticks that were
The show started.
They were all him.