William Richardson & Our Shameful CBC
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Bunny Watson was a Canadian radio program, which aired
Saturdays on CBC Radio One and Sundays on CBC Radio Two.
Named for Katharine Hepburn's librarian character in the
movie Desk Set, the show was hosted by Bill Richardson and produced by Jennifer
Van Evra and Tod Elvidge in Vancouver. Inspired by the Hepburn character's
quote that she "associates many things with many things", Richardson
explored a particular theme each week through a free-association sequencing of
music, literature and film.
The show first aired in the summer of 2004. In one of the
show's most notable episodes, on October 2, 2004, the poet and performance
artist Meryn Cadell came out as transgender.
The program ceased to air on the full CBC network in
2005, although repeats continued to air for some further time in Nunavut to
fill a scheduling hole created by time zone differences, and on Radio One's
Sirius Satellite Radio channel to fill a scheduling hole created by the
satellite channel not broadcasting local programs.
Read today in the Globe and Mail that Bill Richardson is happily
stocking shelves, at Whole Foods. Yes he might be happy but I am not.
That Corporation that serves the people of Canada has a poor
memory except for telling us about traffic problems on the Second Narrows
It was Bill Richardson’s Bunny Watson that inspired me to
begin my blog in 2006 and to make it much like Richardson’s program in that my
now over 5500 blogs deal with free association.
I have fond memories of Richardson hosting a Western
Magazines Award evening (when we had really good magazines in Vancouver and in
Canada). A particular writer (I will leave him unnamed) kept winning all the
awards. After each award he gave long speeches and in one of them he even dealt
with Martin Heidegger. The last prize of the evening was a weekend-for-two at
the Empress Hotel in Victoria. And our winner was that winner. When the winner
went up to collect his prize, Richardson loudly said, “Congratulations and I
hope your butt falls off.”
From that point I became a rabid fan of Richardson and
appreciated that the Renaissance man had a very good foundation in music. His
Saturday Afternoon at the Opera was superb.
With that stellar CBC Radio arts reporter, Paul Grant
retired to Moose Jaw and with his position not having been replaced, the propagation
of culture news is pretty well gone from our local CBC stations. I can only
cite CBC Ideas and The Debaters as superb intelligent programs. Otherwise intelligence seems to be stuck on that Second
You all at the CBC should be ashamed. You are part of this
peculiar defect in Vancouver, a City with a poor memory for its past.
Argentine Nostalgia - The Austere Grays & Browns & Blacks
Friday, April 15, 2022
My Mother the Poet I
My Mother the Poet II
Even though 72 years have transpired since I last spent a Good Friday with my mother and grandmother in Buenos Aires I still await the day with a tad of depression on what is really a sombre day. No matter what your religious beliefs may be, a day about a death is a day that is one for darkish reflection.
In Spanish deep shade is sombra so the root to latin under/shade is much more obvious. And sombre in Spanish is sombrio.
The Argentina that my mother wrote about in her poem (below) Argentine Nostalgia has dramatically changed since she wrote about it in December 1956. But she may have been right about the sombre people she remembers. With terrible inflation and an uncertain future of monetary default there is little to be happy about in my Argentina of today.
Every time I read this poem I am hit with nostalgia for Buenos Aires. But this is complicated as there is the Buenos Aires before we left for Mexico in 1953, the Buenos Aires of my two years in the Argentine Navy in the mid-60s. A Buenos Aires I returned thrice in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s and then there is the Buenos Aires that I went with my Rosemary after that. And another, the one this last Decemeber without Rosemary.
With her gone my nostalgia, as I write this after midnight so it is now Good Friday, is a nostalgia that is sombre.
My mother writes of the austere colours that Argentines wore in her time so this nostalgia is more a sobering one where I reflect on the death of a man/God and the inevitability of my own.
The mate and bombilla in this scan is of a mate and bombilla that was my father’s circa 1940. It has always been with me and when I am visited by my older granddaughter Rebecca (not frequent these days) we share some yerba mate. While I am a purist and do not like to sweeten it I do accept her request for some sugar. After all she is the only person I know in Vancouver that likes to share a mate with me.
Rosemary's Little Things
Thursday, April 14, 2022
|Trillium grandiflorum - 13 April 2022|
grandiflorum (white trillium, white lily, wakerobin) flowers Apr-May in the
hardwood forests of western and central Québec and in the lower Ottawa Valley,
Ont. It has been the Provincial Floral Emblem in Ontario since 1937. The roots
were valued for their astringent and antiseptic properties.
The Canadian Encyclopedia
My youngest daughter Hilary tells me that just about now
I have the pleasant distraction of scanning my plants. It means I can sit
inside my warm, neat and clean oficina, at my desk, and go through the repeated
wonder (at least 2000 previous ones since 2001) of scanning a flower or plant.
What I would have a hard time explaining to her is the amount of intimacy this
I have written before that printing a portrait negative
in a darkroom and then spotting the dust specks of the dried print does not
compare to seeing the image on my monitor and going through details that even
any woman applying makeup in front of a mirror might not see. I feel privileged
but also like an intruder.
We men in the garden like big bold plants (at least this
one). That is what attracted me to hostas back in 1986. Somehow thanks to
Rosemary I noticed the charms of smaller ones. Consider the trillium seen here.
It is a small woodland spring plant with a very small
flower. We used to have many. Some Rosemary brought back from her mother’s garden
in New Dublin, Ontario. There are only two left.
Scanning this trillium is no different from me walking
into the guest bathroom that has many framed portraits of Rosemary.
This trillium is Rosemary’s face.
One & One are One
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
|Firoz Rasul - Ballard Power 1997|
Few remember this Crimean war.
The Crimean War was a military conflict fought from
October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russia lost to an alliance of France,
the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom and Piedmont-Sardinia.
But people remember the US Civil War.
Both wars were covered by photographers, but none of the
photographs were seen except in galleries. It wasn’t until the late 70s of the
19th century when the halftone process was invented that photographs
began to appear in newspapers.
The combination of photographs with writing began a mutual
process in which one helped the other. The process popularized magazines and
good newspapers. They all competed in having original photographs that would
not appear in competing publications. Money was spent to send photographers all
over the world to take these photographs.
This mutual process had its apogee in Vancouver in the 80s
and early 90s when city magazines
(Vancouver Magazine), shelter magazines (Western Living) and business magazines
(BC Business and Equity) ruled the roost. Even in the beginning of the 21st
century the Georgia Straight published original photographs and very few
provided by the organizations they wrote about. And in those beginning years of this century the Vancouver Sun and the Georgia Straight competed in wanting to have original photographs.
All the above has pretty well ended in our city. Now, in
my estimation, few photographers can make ends meet as photographers.
Many place their very good photographs in social media or in
whatever gallery may be open to showing them. But for me, since I was a
magazine photographer, photographs by themselves are only the half of it.
Those photographs (phones are extremely good cameras), as
perfect as they are, do not tell a complete story if they are not accompanied by
In those heady days of magazines and newspapers, I had to see
art directors who showed me manuscripts I had to illustrate with a photograph
or photographs. From Toronto, or other cities in the world, I was phoned or
sent instructions via couriers. Then when technology started, those manuscripts
were sent via fax. These were followed in emails. From there I witnessed a
problematic change. I would be told to take a photograph before the writer had
interviewed the subject or subjects.
And then all work stopped.
In this blog I show an elaborate photograph which without
the copy would have no meaning. I know I photographed my subject Firoz Rasul in
1997. He was the CEO of a Vancouver company, Ballard Power that was a pioneer
in hydrogen fuel cells. Currently Mercedes Benz, the largest truck maker in the
world is considering if it should produce electric or hydrogen fuel cell
trucks. It was Ballard that in 1997 had approached Mercedes Benz.
I took Rasul’s photograph with my medium format camera. I
then borrowed a blueprint of a fuel cell. I projected my b+w negative on 8x10
inch Kodalith film and processed it in photographic paper developer. What I had
was a large b+w slide. Since I was not adept yet at using a scanner I placed
the slide on the blueprint outside on a cloudy day and re-photographed it with
my medium format camera. I know this because I kept a b+w Polaroid that shows
my garden behind the photo. A bonus of the method is that by using my camera for the last shot my trademark filed-edged enlarger negative holder shows.
I know that there is a wonderful pleasure in taking a
photograph and looking at the result and liking the process. But to see one’s
photograph go hand in hand with copy is what I call "one & one are one".
Things and Thoughts
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
As devastated as I was at the death of my mother on her bed
in 1972 in Rosemary’s and my presence in Mexico City I was able to share my
grief with my life’s partner. I did not know or think then that on December 9
2020 I would lose that companion or that I would be writing about that today.
Who will be first?
Somehow I have now been thinking a lot about my mother. It distractd me from my daily and constant grief over Rosemary and
especially as the evening progresses.
I have been reading my mother’s poems daily. It is a sad
sight to see how her lovely handwriting begins to deteriorate in the few poems
she wrote in 1972.
But this writing is a happy one. I wrote in this blog that I
did not know why Rosemary and I gave my mother’s bound poetry book the title Things and Thoughts. Last night I read
the poem with that title that you will find below.
The three initials stand for Filomena de Irureta Goyena. When she married my divorced father she was not allowed to have his name. Only when she taught in schools did she add de Hayward skipping the complicated Waterhouse.
She mentions three objects. I never saw this poem while she
was alive and she never told me about that candlestick. But the shell with the two
embedded pearls I have had all these years. I gave it to my Lillooet, BC daughter
Alexandra. Of the fan I wrote about it here.
It is amazing how through reading a dead loved one’s poems, how much
I lost (but now gained) in not asking questions.
The Eugenie in the poem was:
Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena of Battenberg (24 October 1887
– 15 April 1969) was Queen of Spain as the wife of King Alfonso XIII from their
marriage on 31 May 1906 until 14 April 1931, when the Spanish Second Republic
was proclaimed. A Hessian princess by birth, she was a member of the Battenberg
family, a morganatic branch of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt. She was the
granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Unlike other members of the Battenberg family,
who were accorded the lower rank of Serene Highness, Victoria Eugenie was born
with the rank of Highness due to a Royal Warrant issued in 1886 by Queen
Where do I keep that fan?
My grandmother who lived in Valencia, Sevilla, Madrid, Manila, the Bronx, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Veracruz spoke of all those places with delight but I never had a sense that she felt she belonged to any of them. She had moved too many times. “Her two “camphor babies” were her home,” my mother used to say. These were intricately carved chests that traveled with her since the early 30s. The two chests are in my living room and they are a constant reminder of the only grandmother I ever knew and loved. Inside those chests are a collection of Spanish fans, shawls, my Mappin & Web birth spoon and other mementos of the life of my grandmother, grandfather, my mother and me.
Una Mujer Para Amarte
Monday, April 11, 2022
grandfather was a writer and poet as was my mother and her sister and brother.
My father was a writer and journalist.
seem that I did not inherit any of the rhyming and just a bit of my father’s
liked poetry because in school I was forced to memorize it and I could not. My
mother spent long evening hours making me repeat a homework poem I had to
memorize. It was only here in Vancouver that I discovered the beauty of poetry.
I read it and I love finding poems that I can match with my photographs.
while attending the University of the Americas in Mexico City in my literature
class I had a teacher who looked like Robert Frost and had been his friend for
years. I sat in the back row bored. Obviously I was more of an idiot than I may
It is my
pleasure to place here the only poem ever written to me. No passionate
girlfriend ever did. It was my mother.
I was doing
my military service in the Argentine Navy and she wrote Prayers from where she
was teaching in Veracruz, Mexico.
Here is my
To Alex – Prayers
be that you will return
perhaps you might not
want you to know
will be here waiting for
once in a while
for you the best
life may bring you
to love you
this I pray
may God bless you
little Virgin protect you
you will always have
and be good and fair
and much more I wish for you.
mother may not have gotten it all especially about my brilliant career but she
did get Rosemary right. Two years after this poem I returned to Mexico and
found a woman to love me
could not have ever guessed that there was also an instant love between them.
My mother was not that mother-in-law. They got along like mother and daughter.
|Rosemary, my mother and Alexandra - 1968 - Veracruz Mexico|
and I watched my mother die in bed and I will never forget that because we were
so broke, Rosemary's parents paid for the funeral.
I now have no memory of the story behind the title of my mother's book of poetry, Things and Thoughts that we had bound in Mexico City by a Frenchman called Millioud. Because my father was a divorced man and divorce was not allowed in Argentina my mother and father married in Uruguay. Legally she could not retain the Waterhouse-Hayward so all her documents had her maiden name Filomena de Irureta Goyena. I added "de Hayward".