Les Wiseman & His Argentinian LensmanSaturday, February 01, 2020
Perhaps my only moment of fame or, that very least to feel important, (and so important these days if those moments are seen in retrospect) is when I went to Acapulco to photograph and interview the Chief of the Federal Police of the city for Vancouver Magazine. Was this a Vancouver Magazine kind of story? Editor Malcolm Parry was much less insular that magazine editors of his time. The slim connection with Licenciado Felipe Ferrer Junco was that he and I had been neighbours in Mexico City and when he lived in Veracruz he took me on a tour of the brothels where I met the Veracruz Police Chief. At the time Ferrer Junco was not involved with police matters. He was a good government lawyer. It was his wife who carried a Smith & Wesson in her purse. She was a body guard for politicians.
When I arrived at the Acapulco airport the custom’s officer told me I could not bring in the professional photographic equipment I had without a government permit. I told him I did not need such a permit. The man got surly. I told him to turn around. Behind him was Felipe Ferrer Junco accompanied by a plainclothes man holding an AK-47. The surly man did not apologize but let me pass. I felt like king of the world.
Now our (not mine) idea of feeling great is to have gone to some concert to see a band in which one of its members has died. And you post on social media how this person was a fave. Or you might point out that you were once served at a Dairy Queen by a woman who in later years was murdered. Fame is now latching on to ambulance chasing. And the best is when you win out over the local media (obituaries appear late or not at all) and post in Facebook, “So and so died today!”
In today’s February 3 2020 New York Times I read that Andy Gill died on Saturday. I did not have a clue who the man was until I noticed that the title of the obituary included “Gang of Four guitarist”.
In the late 70s writer Les Wiseman (he was hip then when the word hip meant something) worked for Vancouver Magazine. He also wrote a monthly column about local and international (if they happened to come to perform in town) rock bands called In One Ear. My knowledge of rock was as detailed as Wiseman’s was of Argentine (where I was born) history. But I was assigned to him and was instantly dubbed by him as “This is Lenso my Argentinian lensman”.
So widely read was his rock column that he had credibility supreme with the then all-powerful record reps. We soon figured out that shooting bands while performing at the Commodore produced boring photographs. There was only one way to inject a visible difference. This was to photograph the performing bands with studio lights backstage. Wisman demanded this (diplomatically) and we were always given the green light. We almost had to wear sunglasses so we would not be recognized in the street. We, or at the very least Wiseman) were important big fish in Vancouver's small pond.
One of the bands that posed for us and followed my instructions was the Gang of Four.
I have no memory of the concert. I have no memory of their accents or what anyone of them told me. If you put one of their records on, I know I would not be able to identify them. Perhaps, a maybe, as the NY Times obituary is very detailed about Andy Gill’s guitar playing as is Wiseman's in the link above..
And since I never went to Manchester I was never able to spot Gill in a bus and tell you now how he was one of my favourite rock performers and how sad I am that he is gone.