Christmas with a Mexican Fan Dancer in Rio
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Before the advent of commercial jets and long distance, non-stop
flights, those who knew could take advantage of the circumstances.
After a year in the Argentine Navy, in 1965, I swung a trip
on a US Air Force Hercules that took me from Buenos Aires to Panama. This
happened because as aide to the Senior US Naval Advisor in Buenos Aires they
did me the favour. They felt sorry for me considering that my monthly naval pay
was one dollar. From Panama I flew to Mexico for Christmas with my mother who
lived in Veracruz.
On return I did the same thing except the Hercules had to
stop for a day in Rio. I spent the day discovering the city. Brazilians can
understand Spanish very well but that does not work well in the other
direction. The fact was that I ended up in a low rate strip parlour near
Copacabana called Um Negro Gato.
The cheapest drink was rum so I had rum cokes while watching
rather nice Brazilian women take most of their clothes off. One in particular
caught my eye. I heard her speak Spanish after one of her performances with
feathers. She was what in North America we would call a fan dancer. I called
her in Spanish and she came and sat at my table. Her name was Edelmira Juárez.
She was from Monclova, Coahuila.
This immediately made our conversation a pleasant one as I
had lived for a couple of years in the mid-50s in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila where
my mother taught in a two room schoolhouse. I was in her 8th grade
class. We would often visit Mexico City so we would take a bus to Monclova
where we flew in a venerable DC-3 to Mexico City.
Both Juárez and I liked the heat but with the lack of
Mexican food in Rio she missed her home. She was also melancholy as this was a few days after Christmas. She was planning on returning to
Mexico and wanted to work in films there. She knew a young man called Arturo
Ripstein who had promised her some work. He was a young darling of the then avant-garde
We had a long chat about Mexican films and we both agreed we
liked Cantinflas but also the Argentine actress Libertad Lamarque who had left
Buenos Aires pronto when she had called Eva Perón (not yet Perón) a whore. She
was now becoming quite famous in Mexico.
As I left she gave me one of her photographs. I thought I
had lost it but just a few days ago while putting old negatives away there was
Ornette Coleman on Trumpet & René Worst Loves Milk
Friday, December 21, 2018
|Ornette Coleman at the Commodore circa 80s - Photograph Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
|Jazz & The Pat December 15 2018|
3 pm Saturday December 15 - Dan Gaucher makes the voyage
from Galiano Island to Vancouver to play the music of Thelonious Monk @ The Pat
with these wonderful musicians:
Dave Sikula - guitar
Dave Say - saxophones
Brad Turner - trumpet
James Meger - bass
Dan Gaucher – drums
|December 15 2018|
3 pm Saturday December 22 Jazz @ The Pat presents a Bill
Sample Christmas, proving once again that Christmas can be cool…
Darlene Ketchum - vocals
Marcus Mosley - vocals
Bill Sample - piano
Rene Worst - bass
Buff Allen - drums
3 pm Saturday December 29 - Electric Miles
Big Fun, Live Evil, On the Corner, Bitches Brew, In a
Silent Way, We Want Miles, Tutu…
Bill Clark - trumpet
Bill Runge - saxophone
Hugh Fraser - piano
Kerry Galloway - bass
Bernie Arai - drums
Ron Samworth – guitar
I have been attending some of the 3pm Saturday afternoons
of jazz at the Patricia on East Hastings. Music that to me was avant-garde when
I listened to it in my youth (18 onwards) in the late 50s has now become
comfort music much like mashed potatoes and stew are comfort food. What makes
it so darn comfortable is that many of the people attending the performances are
people I know. In particular the Thelonious Monk themed show of December 15 had
at least five former journalists (former because journalism is dead) and one
still employed, Ian Mulgrew who works at the Sun. It was most pleasant to chat
In my past of being a magazine photographer I never
really photographed musicians who were not rock or punk musicians and recently
new music and early music performers. As I photographed Brad Turner for a
second time on the 15 (I did predict that he would also play the piano as a
Thelonious Monk themed concert really needed some piano) I had a nagging
feeling of déjà vu. It has persisted and only today did I finally remember. I
did photograph another famous jazz trumpet player in my past. It was at the
Commodore sometime between 1982 and 1985. His name was Ornette Coleman. After
the performance I was able to ask him a question, “Mr. Coleman why did you play
on a plastic saxophone?” His answer was just a smile.
I have one very good reason to attend tomorrow’s December
22 session at the Pat. This is because in a distant past when I used to go to
Thursdays at the Classical Joint
, Rene Worst usually was the bassist playing with
Gavin Walker. And I have two stories involving him.
The first is that when I photographed 6 local jazz
performers at the original CP Train Station sometime in the mid 80s I asked
Worst to bring his bass. In my minimalist mode then (as now) I told him that
only one instrument would be sufficient to make them all musicians.
The second story involves my Rosemary and I (and perhaps
with our daughters) going to Victoria (also the 80s). When we boarded the ferry
we ran into Gavin Walker and his quartet.
They were going to perform at Herman's. I do not remember who the drummer was but Michael Guild (guitar) and René
Worst were there with Walker. Once we were underway they indicated that the
best stuff to be had on the ferry was the ice milk that was served from a
machine. Somehow it was whipped. So these jazz performers ( known for loving
stronger stuff) and we all indulged over and over!
Thursday, December 20, 2018
|Alex & Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena|
It is impossible for the man who does nothing to be happy.
El que nada
no se ahoga.
Spanish maxim often repeated to me by my grandmother
Not too long ago I had a chat with one of my granddaughters
at a Starbucks. Since I am an old man I think I may have an ability (not
proven) of being able to hand out advice. I told her that there were two approaches to her life. One
was to attempt to achieve happiness and the other contentment.
The difference, I told her, was that the first, happiness, was
more difficult and far more stressful while the latter was simpler. I then
asked her what she would eventually choose. I was happy to listen to her state,
Today I asked Rosemary when she had her last day of work.
She told me it was in 2007. This would mean that she has been retired now for
almost 11 years. As a freelancer I had no abrupt cutting off date. It was slow
and in the end when the Georgia Straight asked me if I would handle an
assignment, I told them that I was through.
So my cameras sit in my little Kitsilano studio mostly not used
and I putter in the garden. I cook for my Rosemary and scan my roses. I sit in
front of this monitor and write a blog. I have written now 4645 blogs. Many are quite long. A recent
one on Holden Caulfield’s Central Park Lake ducks had someone write, “Nice
As a freelance magazine photographer I used to compete with
writers for space. I was there one day when Vancouver Magazine art director
Chris Dahl went to editor Mac Parry and told him, “Alex took a nice shot and I
want to use it as a double-page spread. Can you axe some of Ben Metcalf’s
words?” Obviously I did not particularly care what happened to Metcalf’s fine
essay. My photograph was going to run big.
All that changed the moment I began to write stories to
which I also took pictures. Then I became ambivalent.
With my blog after so many of them I believe I may have
reached a point where my writing may be at least seen as efficient. And yet not
too many of my blogs ever get any opinions on the thoughts or opinions being
stated. Perhaps there is no time for reading and just looking and liking a
photograph is all but sufficient. But I must add here that my original blog gave me the opportunity to accept comments. I rapidly found out that there were too many people out there with plenty of time to write quite offensive comments.
In the last month I have been hit by terrible ennui with a
touch of weltzchmerz. My grandmother would have instantly told me, “Ante pereza,
diligencia.” This means that you must counter laziness with diligence. Or she
would have said, “El que nada no se ahoga.” This translates as, “He who swims
does not drown,” but there is a curious play of words in that nada not only
means swim but also nothing.
These days I wake up and have breakfast in bed with
Rosemary, the New York Times and our two cats Niño and Niña. I cook
lunch/dinner and we may go out shopping at Safeway or these days those last
Christmas gifts. By 6 it’s Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Then its bed with a novel or
Days zip by like an express train at the station it does not
I want to quit writing these. But if I do there will even be
less purpose for the day. What then?
There are the distractions of planning a trip or the problem
of getting someone to fix our kitchen after last month’s leak. There is the
buying of the ingredients for the dessert we must make for this year’s first,
Chrismas Eve not at our home, but at Hilary’s in Burnaby.
And before we know it, 2019 will be here. What then? How would I have ever suspected that life without stress would be stressful?
I wish my granddaughter would come to me and ask me, “Do
you want to be happy or is being content good enough for you?”
A Little Red Christmas Dress
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
curioso color del colorado.”
The lazy days before Christmas (if your shopping is done
and that is the case with us), is a time for relaxation and reflection. Deeper
reflection happens in the idle days between the day after Christmas and New
I have no idea why red is the colour of Christmas. Was that
the case before the concept of Santa Klaus came into being? I remember those
old Coca-Cola adds featuring Santa.
In Argentina we have an odd opinion on the colour red. Jorge
Luís Borges used the word colorado
in this poem
. Argentines, for reasons as
obscure to me as why red is the colour of Christmas, refuse to use the synonym
in polite company. They say that the word is ordinary. I would only concur
that colorado is a nicer word if you want to insert it in a poem.
As I look at these Ektachromes ( a word rejected by my Word
program) with glee I can only remember what my grandmother used to say about
good times had in the past, “Nadie te quita lo bailado,” which translates something
like, “Nobody can take away from you the memories of dances you have danced in
Katheryn came into my studio one day in the little red dress
and posed for me. Most of my pictures were in black and white. But I am glad
now that I did shoot 16 in colour.
A Bright Spot in This Gray Pre-Christmas Day
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
When we first purchased a Betamax machine there was a special thrill
to visiting video rental stores that suddenly cropped up everywhere. Unlike the
ones these days, the cannabis stores, they did not smell awful and you never
felt guilty about visiting them.
As soon as Betamax was gone, and VHS became the only game in
town, there was just a tad less of a thrill. But come Christmas, on those lazy
days after Christmas when we enjoyed leftovers, and I had whatever marzipan was
left, it was special to watch films. It was even more special to find some
classic film at Videomatica.
The thrill that is left in this age of Netflix for me is
randomly looking at the DVDs in my local public library.
There was one very special thrill (two in fact) in the late
80s and early 90s. This was going to the Rogers store on 16th and
Working at the store was the gorgeous (are we male sexist
pigs allowed to use that word?) Virve Reid, with her cutsy Marilyn Monroe voice
and flaming red hair beckoned only as she could. She was my friend so I did not
need to find a reason to communicate with her.
Reid posed for me many times. In this pre-Christmas lazy day
I found this colour negative that I never printed or scanned. It is gray outside
and raining. There is something grand in looking at a picture of our mid-summer
Athlone in Kerrisdale garden and feast my eyes on the glamour that Virve was.
can remember her voice as she posed, “Is this what you want?” and I snapped my
Mamiya shutter. With tons of black and white photographs of Virve I am so glad
that I at least took these to help cheer me up for the season.