A Well Dressed Mistake
Saturday, July 06, 2019
La explicación es un error bien vestido.
Rayuela – Julio Cortázar
The explanation is a
Hopscotch – Julio Cortázar
Because of differences between my Spanish and your English,
the latter part of Cortázar’s quote has a more direct secondary meaning. A
vestido in Spanish is a dress so the connection to the article of female clothing
is implied but not there in the translation.
In this 21st century it is easy to put dress, the
name of a poet or writer and you instantly hit poetic pay dirt.
I am neither a poet nor a writer. I am a retired, redundant,
obsolete & inconsequential photographer with enough savvy (experience) to
know that this photograph of Kathryn is special. It is highly erotic. In my
quest (many years of it) to pin down what exactly is eroticism I believe this
picture simply tells me, “You will know when you see it.”
Les Wiseman - Mentor - Friend
Friday, July 05, 2019
|Les Wiseman - 1989|
In my 77
years of existence on this planet I have been lucky (I am not going to use this
now hackneyed word “blessed”) to have had many mentors who pointed me in the
right direction. Most were much older than I was. Besides my father (who made
me a good cook) the Brothers of Holy Cross in Austin taught me history, music,
theology, civics and many lesson on how to survive this world with at least a
grain of sanity. Not all my mentors were men.
was one who sacrificed everything to give me an education. My wife Rosemary was
a pioneer in knowing when to leave a country or when to buy a house. My grandmother
Lolita gave me my first indications that I might someday be an artist.
Argentine painter Juan Manuel Sánchez made me an artist and convinced me from
his example that my obsession with the female form was not unsound and
Vancouver Vancouver Magazine's Mac (Malcolm Parry) gave me my chance to work for
a magazine and commanded me to write my first article (a cover one!), His two
art directors, Rick Staehling and Chris Dahl pushed me to be versatile and
never gave me jobs in fashion which was the kiss of death for most locals as
soon they were replaced by the new one on the scene.
Lekich with a simple sentence brought me into some sort of efficiency in my
writing. He told me, “Whatever it is you write about in your first paragraph
you should bring into the last one.”
writer Les Wiseman, (whom I met around 1977) were and are both much younger than I am. This confirms my
opinion that mentors can be of any age in relation to my own.
arrived with my wife and daughters in Vancouver, my knowledge of most things
involving Vancouver and Canada was minor. As soon as Wiseman becameVancouver Magazine's rock
columnist, In One Ear (and associate editor, etc) he had me firmly under his wing
with statements (I was totally ignorant of the man who had written Fear and
Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson), “As your attorney I would…” or “When
in doubt, drink heavily.” I never had a clue that Wiseman calling me "Lenso the Argentinian Lensman" he was associating me with Thompson's relationship with Ralph Steadman.
on popular music that he was (and is) would give me such advice as, “Lou Reed
is God, and if you are going to like heavy metal it must be Motorhead.”
order he made me a snob to good popular music and with his writing and my
photographs we became darlings of the local record reps (they were powerful
then). We were always granted exclusive access interviews like the Sting (and
later the Police) Police or Iggy Pop in their hotels.
invented the idea of making his Christmas In One Ear be about a local band and
we worked to make sure the photograph would reflect good Christmas spirit.
But of the
many things he taught me there was this, which may be self-evident to most (but
it certainly was not to me), “If you are going to write, write about that which
you know.” I soon learned that this meant also that when you didn’t know you
consulted someone who knew and then you did heavy research (at the library).
was one more thing, “Never start your writing in the beginning (implying that
Dickens’s David Copperfield was the exception). Start in the middle and then
work both ways."
coup de grâce (in a positive way) advice from Wiseman was in teaching me how to
write profiles. He would make piles of a information of the person to be profiled on the floor. These piles included quotes
from friends, enemies or family. He would add quotes from books about the person,
and so on. He would then start shuffling them around which gave his profiles
(he won many kudos and magazine awards) a lightly intended randomness.
Wiseman, thank you.
Thursday, July 04, 2019
|Rosa 'Buttercup' 4 July 2019|
My Rosemary has a peculiar (wonderful I would add) talent
for seeing and picking beauty in plants that some of us (me, specifically)
might not notice.
A few days while visiting Jason (he goes by a single name in
his website) at the Fraser Valley Rose Farm (beyond Mission) Rosemary spotted a
yellow rose. Here it is. It is English Rose Rosa ‘Buttercup’. Consider the
uncoolness (in my books) of naming a lovely rose after an insidious known weed.
There must be some sort of reverse-snobbish attitude that still makes my
Rosemary a loveable snob.
We were at the Rose Farm to see what good roses, grown in
our very own BC, that could shortly end up at the UBC Shop in the Garden where
Rosemary is a volunteer.
My guess is that come fall some of Jason’s lovingly propagated
roses will be for sale at the Shop in the Garden. I expect that Buttercup will
be there, too.
|With Centaurea cyanus 4 July 2019|
The blue flower in the second shot has the botanical name Centaurea cyanus and is commonly called cornflower
or bachelor’s button. My connoisseur wife knows that this, the annual version
of the perennial is far more beautiful. On a recent trip to visit family in
Prince Edward Island she bought the seeds. They grow tall in the pots with our
Wednesday, July 03, 2019
|Hosta 'Sum and Substance' 02 July 2019|
I wonder sometimes what the Pre-Socratic philosophers did
with their time. They did not have the “distractions” of books, films,
internet, newspapers or TV. My conclusion is that they spent a lot of time in
In this 21st century on July 2, 2019 I have no
job in sight, no financial worries and most of my preoccupation is spent trying
to solve with my Rosemary whatever problems our immediate problem might have.
Our communication is something like this, “Alex have you
seen Niño (our male cat)? Or I might say, “Rosemary Niña (our female) cat seems
to want to be fed.” I often ask Rosemary, “Do we have anything we have to do
tomorrow?” Her usual answer in the negative is always a relief.
We watch little TV and rarely go to the movies. We are not
stuck in any cable serial TV series. We eat twice a day of which one meal is
breakfast in bed over the NY Times and the Vancouver Sun.
While I am certainly not Epicurus or Democritus I do spend a
lot of time thinking. Not all of it is in deep thought.
|Hosta 'Sum and Substance' 18 June 2018|
Consider my going to the back lane to throw some of our
plant stuff into the green bin and observing the almost spent flowers on one of
the scapes (hosta nomenclature for stalk) of my Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’. This
is one of the largest of the yellow/gold hostas. Its leaves have thick
substance and they can take lots of sun. I cut the scape and here you can see
There is an elegance that I might not have noticed had I
been busy reading a novel or watching the news. I noticed the scape’s elegance
because of my idle time.
|Hosta 'Sum and Substance' 18 June 2018|
I have scanned this plant before so you can observe various
interpretations of a plant that I might not really have noticed in its details
had I had many roses to look at.
The roses today are all but gone. Those that
will re-bloom will do so in a few weeks. Meanwhile the erstwhile hidden grace
is something that gives me pleasure and no guilt in having been lost in thought
about writing this now.
Lee Iacocca - October 15, 1924 – July 2, 2019
Tuesday, July 02, 2019
When I photographed Lee Iacocca sometime in the beginning of the 90s
for the Vancouver business magazine Equity I had done my homework. In the early 80s Iacocca had
started the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation to raise funds to
preserve the deteriorated monument and its surroundings.
By 1982, a century's
worth of weather, pollution, and sightseeing had left Lady Liberty's crown,
torch and gown badly in need of a comprehensive refurbishing. So it was a great
honor for me to accept President Reagan's request that I lead a private sector effort
to raise funds for the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty
and Ellis Island.
Thanks to the generous
donations of proud American citizens - from grandparents to school children -
we were able to raise $500 million to restore these two great monuments to
freedom. I still remember the overwhelming feeling of pride that swept over me
when we unveiled the restored Great Lady in 1986. It was July 4th weekend, with
a gala three-day event attended by President Reagan and President Francois
Mitterand of France.
It has always been my goal to research my subjects before I
photograph them. In the 90s before the internet this meant going to the
Vancouver Public Library.
When Mr. Iacocca faced my camera I said to him, “Can you
give me, sir, a Stature of Liberty pose?”
His smile and loud laugh was all I
I have a second reason to remember that day. There was
another photographer taking photographs of Iacocca. It was Rosamund Norbury.
She came up to me and said (nobody has ever said it better or with more
honesty), “Thank you Alex for never taking bad photographs.”