Kept Firm & in Contact With the Floor
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Procuro que mis
pies se conserven firmes y en contacto con el piso.
I make sure my feet are kept firm and in contact with the floor.
Jorge Luís Borges
As I age I can boast that while I may look my age if you were to see my feet you would suspect they must be the feet of a much younger man. I did not inherit my father's full head of beautiful grey hair nor do I have any memory of what his feet or legs looked like. But I do remember my mother's fine feet and beautiful legs. I inherited both. She used to tell me that my feet were swimmer's feet. Perhaps she was right as they are beautiful and free or corns. But at the most I am an efficient swimmer. I could never swim on my back and do that backstroke that my mother must have learned in Manila. She could swim it without a ripple on the water. The lovely piece by Borges below is a fine acceptance of a man growing old without any real complaint that he was becoming blind. To celebrate my own acceptance of my aging I will place here a few pictures of feet. None of mine. That will be a future project.
pie – Jorge Luís Borges
siento, a estas alturas de la vida, casi igual que cuando era joven. Mis
propósitos, afanes, preocupaciones, planes, ilusiones, temores, limitaciones,
aspiraciones y aficiones tienen, en lo general, las mismas características que
en aquellos tiempos.
muy lejos de plantear mi felicidad en base a los bienes materiales y sigo
siendo capaz de disfrutar lo que tengo sin caer en la desesperanza por obtener
aquello de lo que carezco.
fortuna de apreciar y dimensionar lo que me rodea y vivo en armonía con lo que
soy capaz de generar por medio de mi trabajo diario.
esforzándome diariamente por ganarme el cariño y respeto de mi familia, amigos
y compañeros de trabajo, pues siempre he sabido que los amores se mantienen y
crecen a la luz de la devoción y cariño con el que se cuidan y bastante bien
les hace regarlos frecuentemente con agua del corazón.
vivos mis amores, los pasados y los presentes, porque ellos me dan la energía
para seguir caminando.
los afectos de mis amigos en el reducto interno que para cada uno he ido
formando a través de los años y lo cuido como un espacio que a perpetuidad y
por derecho a cada uno corresponde.
un especial agradecimiento a todos aquellos que han aportado con generosidad un
pedacito de su alma y su corazón contribuyendo a hacer de mi lo que soy ahora y
lo que seré mañana.
energía pura la confianza que tuvieron y tienen en mi quienes me han ayudado a
formarme durante todos estos años. Esas personas que estuvieron conmigo durante
mis años niños, mis años jóvenes y mis años adultos, y que, en conjunto me han
preparado, espero, para vivir bien mis años viejos que pronto habrán de venir.
presente a mis antepasados quienes me ofrecieron sus hombros para que mis pies
comenzaron su trayecto y ahora cuido que mi par de piernas sean fuertes para
que se apoyen en ellas los pasos de quienes de mi nacieron. Procuro que mis
pies se conserven firmes y en contacto con el piso, aunque es frecuente que mi
imaginación se de el lujo de volar y de soñar con un armonioso hoy y un mejor
en mi existe frío, producto de las lejanías, desavenencias y desencuentros con
mis semejantes, llamo a la hoguera de mi corazón para que me fortalezca, y le
pido que me de el calor que me permita asumir mis culpas para saber pedir
recibo por cualquier motivo la disculpa ajena, trato de ser de fácil perdón y
olvido. Bastante penitencia paga quien asume su culpa como para se cometa el
exceso de hacerle el momento más difícil.
vivir en paz conmigo mismo, pues se bien que no se puede ofrecer tranquilidad
cuando uno mismo no la tiene para si.
para volar solamente se requiere dar fuerza a las alas de nuestra imaginación y
tomar rumbo hasta donde la nada existe.
con una vejez acompañada en donde la acompañada, mano de ella sea mi guía y
donde la mía sea su sostén.
repetirme en cada acto de quienes buscan una forma digna de vivir y que sus
afanes impregnen mi alma para seguir adelante y vivir cada día como manda Dios.
tener algún día el privilegio de llegar hasta lo más alto donde el espíritu
alto, tiene su fortaleza y nuestra fe su razón de ser.
Cinderella is Filed with the Cs
Friday, January 24, 2020
In this 2020 I have vowed to get rid of stuff. This is
difficult, particularly with my photo files which are very large.
Today lawyers were on my agenda for the trash. Singleton
Urquart, followed Thorstensen’s and a few more law firms that I photographed in
the 90s. In order to take my equipment downtown
purchased a municipal plate that allowed me to load or unload in loading
zones or back alleys for 30 minutes. I had a dolly that helped me move the
stuff to the buildings and up the elevators.
There were other firms I worked for. One in particular Roberston Pick was an ad
agency that specialized in real estate and I believe built homes. Most of
Roberston Pick went to my oficina trash basket. There was one envelope that
included b+w negatives and an 8x10 print with fixer stains as the Ilford
plastic coated paper of the 90s was not archival. The envelope is titled
Cinderella and I have no memory of the assignment or who the little girl was.
The date on the fax is 1994. This would make the little girl be in her 30s.
I wonder who she was? She will survive in my files. The little girl is now in the Cs as Cinderella.
Circling the Wagons & Facing the Zulus
Thursday, January 23, 2020
|Olena, January 22 2020 - Rollei Infrared Film|
I am not sure if I can see myself inside a circled wagon
situation that old American West of film or in that 1964 Cy Endfield film Zulu
the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in January
1879, during the Anglo-Zulu War. It depicts 150 British soldiers, many of whom
were sick and wounded patients in a field hospital, who successfully held off a
force of 4,000 Zulu warriors.
Most of my mentors are gone. I have four first cousins left
and all their parents (my uncles and aunts) are all dead. My American
classmates from my years in a boarding school in Austin, Texas are dead or
A very good friend who some years ago moved to Memphis and
we suffered a bit of distancing I called up a few months ago. I called him to
apologize and he told me that he had one of his daughters visiting and that he
would call me. He has not. His phone is no longer in service. His tweets and
Facebook postings are at least 8 years old. Is he dead?
Here in Vancouver former friends like Associate Vancouver
Magazine Editor Don Stanley cannot be reached. He ditched his landline and does
not participate in any social media. Is he dead? The last time I saw him he
rang the bell at our former Kerrisdale home and handed me an annotated version
of Nabokov’s Lolita. If I were to find him he would represent one of the few
that I know who reads and with whom I could discuss my plan to read Julio
Cortázar’s Rayuela (Hopscotch) in both Spanish and English this month.
The few people that may know me when I run into them in the
street they invariably ask me, “Are you still…” It would seem that a
photographer has to stop clicking while writers can continue to write and
lawyers to practice law.
Many of the few of my contemporaries are happy to shoot
sunsets or night cityscapes with their smart phones and will write in their
social media postings, “Shot with my iPhone10 without a filter. Isn’t it
Most would understand and know that modern phones have built-in
programming that includes those filters not used.
|Olena, January 22 2020 Fuji X-E3|
I have found the delights of using an iPhone3G (without aSIM card)
. It has a look that when properly used produces results that cannot
be readily mimicked by “better” phones or by resorting to Photoshop. My
argument to the latter is that you have to see an iPhone3G image before you can
imitate it with your advanced Photoshop.
Recently (just a few days ago) I presented a local darkroom
club with a personal take
(via Powerpoint) on the now discontinued Kodak Black
& White Infrared Film. Because I wanted to be thorough I tested a Rollei
brand film called infrared that really isn’t so the club members could decide.
In testing that film I discovered a film with an extended
red sensitivity that when mated to a deep red filter in the front of my camera
produced extremely clean and luminous skin. And best of all when this film is
overexposed it shows an aura or halo around portraits and body that looks much
like the Kodak film. This is because my friend, Portland baroque bassist,
Curtis Daily who came for this weekend’s lecture found out that the Rollei film
does not have an anti-halation coating (just like that Kodak film).
I am excited and I will soon buy rolls of this film in 35mm
and 120 format. I must repeat, “I am excited.”
What person in my tightened circle can I share this with? - Nobody.
My contemporaries have long abandoned film. They might even attempt to convince
me that an MP3 file listened through earbuds is much more immediate and wonderful
than my CDS played through my JBL Studio Monitors.
The colour picture you see here of Olena is a deliberate and
massive underexposure with my Fuji X-E3 digital camera. I take these calculated
errors with a magical f-stop, f-7.1. And here
there is another of what I call the f-7.1 effect!
Some of my contemporaries would look at the photograph and
the effect and say, “If you shot RAW and not JPGs you would not have those
problems.” It seems that they are blind to anything that is not conventionally
What is there to say?
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
|Olena - January 22, 2020|
Guillermina Van Der Linden - Elegance in Buenos Aires
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
In many respects it is good to live in a third-world
country. Consider my native Argentina and its cosmopolitan Buenos Aires.
In the 60s when I was living there I would tell my friends
from Mexico and the United States that Argentina was one of the first countries
in Latin America where women were using the brand new contraceptive pill in
spite of their, in some cases, extreme allegiance to the Roman Catholic church.
It was Juan Domingo Perón in the early 50s who ushered in
the idea that Industria Argentina could compete with imported products. I
remember avoiding anything with that on the label in those 50s, desiring always
to secure a bootleg pair of Levis and Double Bubble chewing gum to go with them.
Eventually Argentine manufacturers saw the light and
produced wonderful leather and wool products. The wine industry became
important. Perón attempted (a futile gesture) to build an Argentine car and fighter
jet. But their atomic power research did in the end produce viable reactors. If
they wanted my Argentina could build an atom bomb.
|Photography - José Carlos Romero Vedia 2019|
It is this kind of protectionism that is now so much in
vogue in the rest of the world.
Argentina is still a third-world country with massive
problems in the national debt and a political polarization the rivals that of
the United States.
But in our last trip to Argentina last September I did note
some of the advantages. In any evening there are hundreds of bookstores open.
The newspapers are still relevant although newsstands now carry toys, lapel
pins and football club T-shirts.
The transport system in Buenos Aires is first class. Only my
wealthy relatives, the O’Reilly’s boast that they have not been on a train, bus
or subway in more than 30 years.
But there is one item, a throwback to that last century that
keeps me smiling when I visit my native city. This is that while Argentine
women are as feminist as any in other countries (they have their own Me-too
movement and a woman vice president who at one time was president) they have
not lost their sense of elegance which their sex represents (I am reluctant to
use the word I wanted to use, femininity).
The Argentine tango is perhaps the last remnant (besides fly
fishing) where man can boast that he is in control. There is an active movement
in the Argentine tango society trying to change that. Anybody who has dance the
tango know the man leads and that the woman (her job is much more difficult)
has to be in a constant moment of unbalance where she must anticipate what the
man will do but not entirely as she cannot lead. There is a tradition of men
and women across a dance floor and how it is the man who indicates he may want
to dance with her.
My proof of all of this is my new friend Guillermina Van Der
Linden, who taught in an Amsterdam university until she visited Buenos Aires,
fell in love with tango and stayed. She speaks several languages and dresses
elegantly at all times. She has the presence of a woman who in other countries
might make a successful entry into acting. Her partner José Carlos Romero Vedía
makes a quiet foil for Van Der Linden’s sensual elegance. They dance and fit
Imagine this man being able to easily lure the couple to
pose for me in one of the ballrooms of our Hotel Claridge (a block away from
where Van Der Linden and Romero Vedía dance every day on the corner of Florida
My photographs were successful. But there was more. Romero
Vedía offered to take some pictures of Van Der Linden with this photographer. I
I wonder how the folks in my now first world country of
Canada and my city Vancouver opine of these Galaxy 5 photographs?
There is this curious fact. Vancouver might have E-scooters soon. They have been available in downtown Buenos Aires since last July.
The Shoemaker Looked Back
Monday, January 20, 2020
In 1966/67 as a conscript sailor in the Argentine Navy in
Buenos Aires I was an aide and translator for the Senior US Naval Advisor,
Capt. USN Onofrio Salvia. I refused to carry an order (to show up very early to
do some translations)) to an Argentine Lieutenant Commander. He told me that in
a time of war I would have been shot or sent to Antarctica where the only
females would have been penguins. I was given a week’s arrest in the brig.
had enough time to walk to Pigmalion Bookstore on Calle Corrientes (Borges
patronized it) and purchased Dag Hammarskjöld’s Markings (Faber and Faber-
1964) translated into English by Leif Sjöberg and W.H. Auden. In it I read:
He was a member of the crew on Columbus’ caravel – he kept
wondering whether he would get back to his home village in time to succeed the
old shoemaker before anybody else could grab the job.
Since then I have always tried to look ahead at
possibilities and to take chances. I have looked back enough in 2019. This 2020 is one of many possibilities
And if I am where I am today, in more or less pretty good health, and with no financial worries, it is all because my Rosemary never ever did look back.