Bach on Amphetamines
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Some years ago Venetian cellist Claudio Ronco came to
Vancouver on a double purpose. Most think that 19th century Bohemian composer
David Popper is known best for his studies for the cello for beginners. Ronco
proved otherwise. Some of Popper’s works that he played, to me sounded like Bach
on amphetamines. The other reason he was in town was to inform us with alarm
that Venice’s Jewish Ghetto was being forgotten and it needed repair and
Rosemary and I plan to be in Venice on the 21 for an opening
of a show in San Marco of sculpture, video, painting and photography called Body Language. I am
going to have ten photographs up. I am hoping on meeting up with Ronco and
perhaps he will play some more Popper.
This photograph of baroque cellist Julian Soltis has the
look of speed to my eyes.
Tarren - Liquid Fire
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
As January loses the excitement and lights of the Christmas
season; as I forget putting out of my bedroom door my shoes on the eve of the Epiphany, with the
hopes that on the next day I would find toys, I have a few reasons to feel
optimistic for this year.
It would seem that my cameras will be having their shutter
buttons pushed and I will be having tea rests with beautiful subjects.
But it impossible to clean the slate, not only last year’s
but also all the preceding ones.
When I feel melancholy I don’t buy new shoes or slurp a
thick chocolate malt. I go to my oficina and under my section P to Z I extract
a thick file called Tarren.
On any envelope ranging from 1980 to about 2007 I can gaze
on extraordinary beauty that was not only that. I have photographer many
beautiful women. But Tarren had (and surely has) what I call presence. You can
be a magnificent ballerina with the best technique but without that almost
impossible to define presence she will only be a dancer. I saw the same in my
youth when I would go to Plaza México and indulge in my then interest in bullfighting.
Some matadors had presence. Others did not and did not interest me.
For me Tarren was (and surely is) that contradiction that I
define as liquid fire.
I may have at least 1000 photographs of her. There may be 10
that are not so good.
I believe that I am the photographer that I am today because
I met Tarren when there was little I knew about the photography of woman. With
an easy smile (and may I add sexy without being reproached?) she taught me and
How could I have been so lucky?
For those who may be curious here is an explanation of
the photographs. I photographed Tarren with a Nikon FM-2 using a small softbox
flash. The film was Kodak Black and White Infrared Film. I noticed that the
contact sheet has developed a nice colour as it has faded in my file. So I
scanned three from it, one at a time. With my 13 year-old Photoshop I joined
I Am Alone Here
Monday, January 07, 2019
|Niño & Christmas tree, January 7 2018|
Christmases are supposed to be happy events, particularly
when the family sits down for a Christmas Eve dinner. In our family that has
meant I cook and dinner is at home.
Not this year. We went to my daughter Hilary’s home in Burnaby
. I kept thinking about our own Christmas tree. It was alone in
Kitsilano. In some ways (for me) the living thing that is a Christmas tree, is
confirmed with tons of melancholy, when you see them discarded in our back
Taking down the Christmas tree
Today is January 7 which is really the day I have always
taken the tree down. Sometimes it has been exactly on the Epiphany of the day
before. Before I took down the tree (Rosemary is in charge of the lights) I
realized that the tree had not been photographed as our family shots happened
in Burnaby. I brought my camera and as I was about to take the picture Niño our
male cat appeared and looked back at me. This delighted me and put a bit of a
smile on my face on a day when sadness rules.
I found this very sad Christmas Eve very short story by
Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano. It is about loneliness. To me there is
nothing more lonely than a tree minus its ornaments when you decide for it that
it no longer has a role to play. My translation into English follows the
original in Spanish.
Nochebuena. Eduardo Galeano
Fernando Silva dirige el hospital de niños en Managua.
En vísperas de Navidad, se quedó trabajando hasta muy tarde. Ya estaban sonando los
cohetes, y empezaban los fuegos artificiales a iluminar el cielo, cuando Fernando
decidió marcharse. En su casa lo esperaban para festejar.
última recorrida por las salas, viendo si todo queda en orden, y en eso estaba
cuando sintió que unos pasos lo seguían. Unos pasos de algodón; se volvió y
descubrió que uno de los enfermitos le andaba atrás. En la penumbra lo
reconoció. Era un niño que estaba solo. Fernando reconoció su cara ya marcada
por la muerte y esos ojos que pedían disculpas o quizá pedían permiso.
se acercó y el niño lo rozó con la mano:
a... -susurró el niño-
alguien, que yo estoy aquí.
Fernando Silva is in charge at the children’s hospital in
Managua. On Christmas Eve he stayed late at work. The fireworks were sounding and illuminating the sky, when
Fernando decided to leave. They were waiting for him at home to celebrate. He
did one more round to make sure everything was in order. He heard some steps
that were following him. They were soft steps; he turned around and saw one of
the little sick ones. In the darkness he recognized him. It was a child that
was alone. Fernando recognized on his face, one marked for death, and in his
eyes perhaps asking for an apology or even permission. Fernando went up to him
and the child caressed him with his hand. Tell him, he whispered, tell someone
that I am alone here.
Gallic Connections @ The Patricia Hotel
Sunday, January 06, 2019
|Oliver Gagnon at the Patricia Hotel, January 5, 2018|
3pm Saturday January 5 Jazz @ The Pat kicks off the new year
- our eighth - with the wonderful Oliver Gannon 4tet. They'll be playing Wes
Montgomery tunes, some Horace Silver and lots of standards.
Oliver Gannon - guitar
Nick Peck - piano
Russ Botten - bass
Craig Scott – drums
In my quieter times dictated by my waning years in this
century the chance to listen to quiet jazz without reeds or horns can be a
distinct pleasure. That this can be enjoyed in a smoke-free (one definite
improvement of the 21st century) and clean joint (The Patricia
Hotel) amongst new friends and some old ones (journalists who now sleep late
without deadlines) is truly wonderful.
I will never understand why my dancer friend Noam Gagnon
pronounces his names differently from Oliver Gagnon. My friend Maurice Bridge (an
habitué of Jazz @ The Pat ) pronounces his name Morris. It was explained to me
that Bridge’s parents did not like the French so the name’s pronunciation was modified
to avoid any Gallic connections. Since I do not know Mr. Oliver Gagnon I will
There were four tunes (why is it that in jazz they are
called tunes? Is a tune once it gets lyrics called a song such as Airegin , The
Work Song and Goodbye Pork Pie Hat?) that I particularly liked. I was only able
to attend one set (at the Saturday Pat performances there are always three). So
the tunes, Jeannine (Duke Pearson), Jingles (Wes Montgomery), Goodbye Pork Pie
Hat (Charlie Mingus) and The Shadow of Your Smile (Johnny Mandel).
Even though I was interested in works by pianist Horace
Silver, which must have been played in the later sets I could not stay.
One of my new friends labeled some of the performances of
the above tunes as tasteful. As a photographer with expertise in images of the
undraped female I absolutely become most annoyed when they tell me how
tasteful. My friend argued (with a pleasant smile) that my preferring the use
of elegant was simply an exercise in semantics.
I don’t think that The Shadow of Your Smile, Lara’s Theme or
Around the World in 80 Days can ever be anything but nasty/tasteful. And yet
with my recent discovery that English piano player Nick Peck is an ivory wonder
I could not but point out here that the quartet’s version of that tune was most
elegant! And I could add that Andre Previn did wonders with I Could Have Danced All Night and Mack the Knife.
My fave version of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat is in my fave
Charlie Mingus album is Mingus Ah Um but I have a warm spot in my heart for
Joni Mitchell’s Mingus. Russ Botten’s stand-up bass was solid in the quartet's playing (and elegant!).
I loved Jeannine because I love jazz tunes named after
women. I like Paul Desmond’s Audrey (he did indeed carry a torch for Audrey
Hepburn). My absolute fave is Tina composed by Duke Ellington. Can a country be
a woman? Ellington must have thought so as he composed the tune for my mother
land (patria in Spanish is indeed of the female gender).
All in all my short afternoon at the pat was a pleasant one
and a cheerful one as drummer Craig Scott does forget about his long drive from
Chilliwack with a wide grin on his face.
I called up my friend Gavin Walker and stated that Jingles,
composed by Wes Montgomery sounded very much like the Work Song written by Nat
Adderley. His 1960 album by that name did have Wes Montgomery on guitar. Go
As for me the ultimate Work Song is this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoAhHMq88PE
As a dyslexic I like to find jazz tunes such as Airegin
that address to my reading woes. A week ago at The Pat I heard Miles Davis's Sivad
. Tina which is in Duke Ellington's album (1972) Latin American Suite
does include Oclupaca