Friday, February 08, 2019
Many years ago I was fanatical follower of ecdysiasts. This
was before feminism took hold and people smoked in bars and bragged about
driving home drunk.
One of these stellar dancers was Belinda Carr. In those days
I liked to find paying jobs for my dancer friends in magazines as models (in
one case for eyeglasses). Here I was teaching photography on a Saturday at the
now long gone Exposure Gallery on Beatty Street.
My students took the photographs and I only have this one to
show of the luminous Belinda Carr.
Medium, Jeff Bezos, Barack Obama & Me
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Every once in a while I feel the glee of having a commonality
that few would understand.
Consider that today I found out that I have three things in
common with the richest man on earth, Jeff Bezos. He is white, a man and writes
in the blogging platform called Medium. I write in Medium, too.
If that were not enough I have two things in common with
former American President, Barack Obama. He is a man and he writes for Medium.
Today Jeff Bezos posted this startling essay in Medium on a man called Mr. Pecker.
And as President, Obama wrote this:
While I have been blogging since Jan 2006 (4668 of them)
some years ago I read in my NY Times that there was an unusual blogging platform
called Medium that had been started by a former employee of Twitter. In fact
one of the requirements of Medium is to have a Twitter account. What makes
Medium and exciting and unusual blogging platform is its far more modern (than
my Google-owned Blogger) platform that provides analytics on how many people
look, glance, or actually write what you write in Medium. Notice in the link to
the Bezos essay that it has at the top left an indicator 9 Min Read. The
platform determines how long a possible reader stays on what you have written
and based on that you will know that while 50 people might have seen what your
wrote and the picture included but that in actual fact only 15 read it.
Medium has a handy
importing tool that means that I can import any of my Blogger blogs and then
modify it (if I want to ) once it is in Medium.
In the first year of Medium some of us could start a personal
publication. I have several. My most
popular one is this one:
Some people monetize their personal blogs. I don’t. Blogging keeps me safely at home
with my Rosemary and out of trouble.
But today I kind of feel happy that I share Medium with two
MacLeod Books - Librería de Viejo Supreme
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Vancouver, so they say, “no fun Vancouver
” is full of
treasures that would make any (I hate the term) “world class city” drool with
envy. We have an avant-garde new music movement (the Turning Point Ensemble
comes to mind, and a petit avant-garde
, too!), we have the Vancouver Symphony
Orchestra perhaps one of the last ones to have a health plan for its members,
we have an exciting ballet/modern dance culture plus more varied kinds of
ethnic restaurants than any other city on earth.
We might point out one negative point, the fact that we have
one big box bookstore in the city. But who will deny that our Vancouver Public Library
is a gem, a nicely cut diamond?
And then there is MacLeod Books. This bookstore on the
corner of West Pender and Richards at 455 West Pender ( Tel 604-681-7654) is like very few others around the world.
Its owner, Don Stewart can find you a book (more often than not he has it) as
he has an efficient card catalogue in his mind/memory. Stewart took over a bookstore that opened in 1964, on May1 1973.
I visit and have visited MacLeod’s often. Three years ago I
vowed to purchase no more books (as in new ones!). The vow does not prevent me
from saying, “hi” to Stewart and leaving the premises with at least one book
under my arm.
It was a few months ago that when I entered the place,
Stewart told me that a UBC Latin American Literature professor had retired. He
had acquired part of her collection. I was instructed to look through the pile.
One stood out immediately, Olores de Buenos Aires
by León Tenembaum. Almost in jest I told him, “I am not going to buy this book about the smells of Buenos
Aires if it does not cite the smell of a Buenos Aires pizzeria."
And so I was
gently obliged to buy the beautiful book. In it there is a fabulous
chapter on the smells of a librería de viejo
, which is the Argentine term for a used book store. I have translated it and you will find it
below. But the vivid Argentine description may be over the top as all I can
discern when I enter MacLeod’s is a wonderful smell of books. Tenenbaum’s
description of the piles of books from floor to ceiling amply describes MacLeod’s
with its over 100,000 book inventory.
I have purchased there many important books in relation to my
life. I knew that Charles Darwin had been a friend of 19th
Argentine strongman Manuel de Rosas. I was able to find a lovely edition of
Voyage of the Beagle
. From Stewart I added to my rose book collection, Roses,
Their History Development and Cultivation
by the Reverend Joseph H. Pemberton.
And because Stewart knows I am a Jorge Luís Borges fanatic he sets aside any book by
him for me.
The Library of Babel - In Hypertext
But it was recently that I found out that we are more than blessed to
have Macleod’s and our Vancouver Public Library.
There in the VPL travel section (Rosemary
and I are soon off to Venice and Florence) that I found Ruskin’s Stones of
and Charles Dickens’s Pictures from Italy
. The latter had its entire
lovely fold out illustrations intact. Could I possibly take both books to
Venice? Or might I find copies at MacLeod’s books?
I called. One of his young
but awfully erudite employee, Curtis, told me he had the Stones of Venice in a
pocket book edition. I told him that was impossible. I made a five dollar bet.
I lost and paid up!
When Stewart answered the phone on my query about the
Dickens, without any hesitation he told me, “I have two versions.”
One was the
library edition one, the other was a supreme surprise, it was an 1878 edition
of Pictures From Italy and American Notes.
MacLeod Books had a recent admirer in June, 2018. Look
below. Traffic to the store, increased for obvious reasons.
I propose here that MacLeod Books has to acquire Vancouver
Heritage Status. I wonder if its owner should not be part of it, the first
Vancouver Human Heritage? Or would Vancouver Monument do just as well?
In Spanish librería is a book store. A biblioteca is either a private library or a public library. Stewart calls his establishment an antiquarian and used book store.
Librería de viejo from Olores de Buenos Aires by León Tenenbaum - Ediciones Corregidor 1994
Humidity such as it is – water particles floating in the
atmosphere with minor or major density – does not have a smell of its own. The
smells we associate to it we attach to place, materials and places where we
find it. That identification comes from the fact that those particles attach
themselves and through a fixing process become evident to our senses through
time. Humidity then does not only intensify each smell but also it is
strengthened through the persistence of time. So it is most usual to be noticed
in corridors and basements with poor air circulation or in places with old
carpeting and old wood. Veterans as some might say of campaigns in wars that
“they” only know of.
From this varied account we want to rescue a memory that
Porteños [inhabitants of Buenos Aires] cannot forget which accumulated in its
interior to the point it was inseparable from the place. Had this place been
ventilated we would have never noticed this memory. Organic materials are
especially subject to the smell of humidity. And in particular this is true of
paper - and more so with the ink and in the multiplicity of the pages of a
book. This is further accentuated in used books that have been opened multiple
times and fingered by many people and left human grease. And the covers of
these books with their glue, the collected dust and even the appearance of
fungus will add to the smell.
A bookstore, with many more books, and if a library, or a
well-cared for personal library is not
figured in this, we end up with the used book store.
Few remain in Buenos Aires. An echo of some of them might
remain in the books stalls of Plaza Lavalle and Parque Lezama and Rivadavia, or
at Avenida Santa Fe en Plaza Italia. But since they are outside the smell is
dissipated and one might discount that memory of old books.
Once on the south sidewalk of Sarmiento at 1400 there was an
old books store that had the suggestive and defying name of “La incognita”. It
had its better days, much better than those after the 50s when we first met up
with it. It is a narrow and deep locale with a single narrow entrance door and
one display window. It was lit (so we might say!) by a single bulb in a glass fixture
that may have been transparent at one time and whose purpose was to shed light
on the installed darkness. Natural light was never evident in this interior.
One could guess that at one time there might have been some standard shelving
and large tables and perhaps even a counter. The place, like in Julio
Cortázar;s story was taken
La casa tomada in Julio Cortázar' voice
Books, simply books, were not there. The books were [in the
finality of the Spanish verb estar]. As if they were alive. The grew, they
multiplied, the climbed, they piled up until they formed a monstruous entity
that could easily have taken over the room. In that semi-darkness one could
discern all those animal and humid smells that had taken over each and every
book. It was sort of a cemetery in which all the bodies were unburied.
Everything there seemed like it had been thrown in any place without any order
or worry in the least. Thus these tall
piles of books seemed to defy all the laws of physics and gravity, not that any
of us would have accepted that those laws applied to the place. When the piles
collapsed here and there, indifference was the result. There were books on the
passageways that visitors had to gingerly avoid in order to enquire or find
someone about their book quest. There in the deepest corner, in a niche that
the books might have created to protect its owner you might find Don
Constantino Cal, who like a pope would answer the prospective buyers’ questions
with a nod of his head. No was no. If affirmative, he would get up, ever so
slowly, and he would go to a determined place, his fingers, snale-like, would
retrieve a book. It was the wanted book. Sometimes, I was told, he would look
at the book and with complete
indifference to the would-be buyer he would say, It’s not for sale.” He would
return to his rickity chair. He was found dead there.
La incognita was a bookstore in which novices would enter
timidly. Even if hey found their book they might exit as they entered. They had
the impression that something, seconds later, would result in its disappearance
after a collapse. For some reason the place had the name that it had.
Everything finally did disappear. But something remained,
that tell-tale scent which would never be erased from memory. La incognita is
more than a legend. It is a porteño myth. Almost not believable.
Arts Umbrella Dance - Sunday Feb 3, 2019
Tuesday, February 05, 2019
At the most my knowledge of dance is perfunctory. I became mesmerized
by dance in December 1995 when I spent a couple of days taking photographs of
. Since then I have photographed many dancers, females and males.
Most of these photographs were portraits in my studio.
It wasn’t until I started going to Arts Umbrella Dance
Company’s Sunday Performance Series that my photographs were no longer
portraits but something else. Not having to produce a photograph for
publication meant I could do as I please and to experiment.
That was the case this past February 3, 2019. In other
Sunday Series I always managed to witness practice sessions and thus know when
key moments in each dance would happen. On Sunday I had one obligation which
was to take photographs of my 16 year-old granddaughter Lauren who has been
dancing at Arts Umbrella since she was 7.
The real fun of taking these photographs is to download them
at home and see which ones meet my interest.