Buck Cherry , John Auber Armstrong & A Philistine
Saturday, August 13, 2022
|Buck Cherry & Mary-Jo Kopechne- Top left Alexandra and right Hilary - Circa 1986|
The philistine in this blog’s title is yours truly. Until
1975 my knowledge of rock ‘n roll was limited to the little that was being
broadcast in our Mexico City radio stations. I knew of the existence of the
Beatles. And that was that.
At an American school, where I was teaching, my students
asked me one day, “Mr. Hayward what do you think of Alice Cooper?” My answer, “Nothing,
who is she?” was met by tons of laughter. They invited me to a party to
introduce me to their music. I was told to dance (I did the best I could ) to a
band called Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I had never heard of them not
knowing then that someday (now) Neil Young’s Ohio would be one of my all-time
Around 1977 a young man in an ill-fitting new suit showed
up at Vancouver Magazine and asked the receptionist Maja Grip if he could see
the editor. I guess he expected to be asked if he had an appointment. Grip just
said, “Go up the stairs and turn right.”
I suspected that something interesting was afoot so I
followed and (yes) I eavesdropped outside Malcolm Parry’s office whose door was always open.
The young man said something like this, “My name is Les
Wiseman and your magazine should have a
rock column.” Parry replied, “Go home and write it.”
That was the beginning of Wiseman’s monthly column, In One
Ear. Since I was pretty well the de facto staff photographer I was instantly
attached and dubbed by Wiseman, “This is Lenso my Argentinian lensman.” He had to
explain to me who Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson were.
As we worked more and more, the record reps (they were
powerful in the 80s) gave us access to visiting bands back stage or in their
hotels. Wiseman was educating this parvenu on what this music was all about. He
told me once, “Lou Reed is God and if you are going to like a heavy metal band,
it better be Motorhead." It was then that I learned that good rock critics were snobs. I became one, too.
|Motorhead & Les Wiseman|
For an article that Wiseman was to write about live music in
a town, where piped disco was the rage, one of the places I had to go was the Smilin’ Buddha.
I had read scary articles in the Vancouver Sun about violence in that den on
West Hastings near Main.
The band playing was a band with the curious name of K-Tels.
The front man was Art Bergmann. Within minutes I put my camera gear in a corner
and did the pogo with all the other punks. I had never seen anybody play an electric
guitar with such passion.
It seems that Bergmann inspired John Armstrong who started
the band The Modernettes and went by the name of Buck Cherry. His friends to
this day call him Buck. I cannot forget when in an interview at CKVU of the Modernettes Mary-Jo Kopechne was asked why she had adopted that name. Her answer was a brutal,"Because I don't know how to swim."
My daughter, Alexandra and Hilary (in the Polaroid here) by
the beginning of the 80s would note that I would put on black jeans, a black
T-shirt and a pair of black Big John ankle boots. They knew I was off to see D.O.A., the
Subhumans or perhaps The Wankers. What was odd is that I would sport an expensive
Irish (Peterson) pipe and smoke it while most were drinking O’Keefe’s beer. We called it High Test as it had more alcohol.
Gary Taylor in his Rock Room on Howe would have battle of
the bands on weekends. He needed judges. I was often called as I was the cheapest. I did
not demand white powder or alcohol, just soda water.
One evening the band in question was the Modernettes. I
thought they were awful as the singer (Cherry) decidedly sang off-key. It was
only later that I learned that it took talent to sing off-key on purpose and
that Cherry was inspired by his idol
Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls.
|Johnny Thunders at Gary Taylor's Rock Room 1981|
One of the charms of the Modernettes was their lovely motto,
“Get Modern or get Fucked”.
|Dishrags at the Smilin' Buddha & Modernettes motto Circa 80/81|
I photographed the band often so we became friends. During
one of our Thursday gatherings at the Railway Club (journalists, writers,
illustrators, poets, strippers, politicians, etc) Cherry said, “I am a has been
rocker with no education. What am I going to do with my life?” I instantly
suggested, “Go to the Bay, around the corner and buy a Harris Tweed jacket, a
shirt and tie and go and see Charles Campbell at the Georgia Straight."
So Buck Cherry the rocker was now John Auber Armstrong the writer and his
first assignment for the Straight was to interview a visiting Vincent Price. I
accompanied him to take the photograph.
|John Armstrong's Vancouver Sun - Saturday Review cover article on Johnny Thunders - June 8 1991|
His next assignment had the both of us driving to Seattle to
interview and photograph Dennis Hopper.
The rest, of course is history, and thanks to Les Wiseman I
am no longer a philistine.
Rolf Maurer of New Star Books is republishing in a handsome new
20th Anniversary Edition, Armstrong’s Guilty of Everything.
Small & Dainty - Rosemary's Clematis
Friday, August 12, 2022
|Rosa 'Abraham Darby', Clematis 'Violet Stardust' & Clematis integrifolia 'MongolianBells' - 12 August 2022|
|Rosa 'Betsy Sinclair' & Clematis tanguitica 'Little Lemons'- 12 August 2022|
Sometime in the summer of 1966 in Buenos Aires, my Argentine
nephew, Georgito O’Reilly and I were having a discussion. He was doing his
conscription in the army and I in the navy. It was a weekend in a house with a
pool in the outer neigbourhood of Pacheco, that his family rented to get away from the stifling and humid heat of
We were talking about what we were going to do when our
conscription was over. We had no idea. Our future was definitely and undecided
unknown. We told each other that it was almost comforting, while in the armed
forces, that we could not make important decisions and that our life was at the
mercy of a Marine Corps corporal (his name was Cabo Moraña and that applied to me) or in his case a sergeant.
I can safely point out here that those two years for me were
unique in that my only obligation was to obey orders.
As my magazine photography and writing jobs disappeared a
few years ago with the demise of magazines and newspapers, I found myself gardening
all day with Rosemary in our Kerrisdale garden. On Saturdays we had the
obligation to baby sit our two granddaughters, Rebecca and Lauren. This was a
mutual pleasure. We also travelled all over the world with the two.
Now as a grandparent empty nester, and with my Rosemary gone
on December 9 2020, I have no obligations except the daily one of feeding Niña
and Niño, taking Niño for his daily walk, shopping for food and cleaning the
When my daughter Hilary visits (about once a week) I make
sure to shave and look presentable and of course the house is spotless.
But not considering any of the above, I live day to day on a
lifeboat without a compass. I used to tell Rosemary a couple of years before
she died that I was WTD. She knew that was waiting to die.
As most of my friends and family are dead it becomes
patently obvious, that I was wrong when I was a little boy when I determined that the only
people who died or won the lottery were always neighbours.
No matter that when my daughters tell me that I must make the
best of what is left for me or that when I feel grief over my loss of Rosemary
that I have at least my memories, It does not help in the least.
What does help is my knowing, that while my cats are not
human beings, they are very much alive, appreciative, caring, and affectionate.
It is almost as if perhaps I am not alone. And I must confess that I do talk to
them lots in Spanish.
And what does help is my perhaps aimless daily scanning of
my plants. In some cases I tell stories about them in my blogs in relation to Rosemary or
to a poem by Emily Dickinson or Borges on roses. But the two scan you see here
have only one real important connection with Rosemary.
She and I decided that in our little garden our potted roses
would share space with clematis. Roses and clematis get along fine as long as
you do not use one of the very large and very aggressive clematis. The small
dainty ones are just fine.
Sadly these small and dainty clematis remind of my small
and dainty Rosemary.
The Gentian - it tried to be a rose - Emily Dickinson
Thursday, August 11, 2022
|Gentiana asclepiadea & Rosa 'Winchester Cathedral' 11 August 2022|
“The gentian is a greedy flower,” Emily Dickinson wrote
to a friend in the autumn of 1859, “and overtakes us all. Indeed, this world is
short, and I wish, until I tremble, to touch the ones I love before the hills
are red—are gray—are white—are 'born again'!”
Today I scanned a white rose with my gentian. How was I
to know that Emily Dickinson had a couple of opinions on the gentian? And I
wonder if my nephew Georgito O’Reilly in Buenos Aires might have a poet in the
family? His name is John Boyle O'Reilly, and he wrote about a white
rose that breathes of love.
I adore combining my photographs, and in this case a
scanograph, with poems by my favourite poets (and this new to me Irish one) and writers like Jorge Luís Borges
John Boyle O'Reilly (1844-1890)
The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
.But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.
Nobody knows this little Rose by Emily Dickinson
Nobody knows this little Rose --
It might a pilgrim be
Did I not take it from the ways
And lift it up to thee.
Only a Bee will miss it --
Only a Butterfly,
Hastening from far journey --
On its breast to lie --
Only a Bird will wonder --
Only a Breeze will sigh --
Ah Little Rose -- how easy
For such as thee to die!
Fringed Gentian by Emily Dickinson
God made a little gentian;
It tried to be a rose
And failed, and all the summer laughed.
But just before the snows
There came a purple creature
That ravished all the hill;
And summer hid her forehead,
And mockery was still.
The frosts were her condition;
The Tyrian would not come
Until the North evoked it.
"Creator! shall I bloom?"
Bob Skelly - April 14 1943 - August 10 2022
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
|Bob Skelly - April 1985|
I have a lasting and very pleasant memory of an event
sometime in early April 1985.
At the time I was working as a freelancer for two city
magazines. One was Vancouver Magazine and the other was Equity. Both magazines
were published (and owned) by an affable lawyer, Ronald Stern.
He may have been approached by the scion of the Southam Publishing
Empire, Harvey Southam with the idea of launching a city business magazine. And
so Equity was born.
In that early April and in the morning Harvey Southam and I boarded
a helicopter to Victoria where he was going to interview the new leader of the
NDP, Bob Skelly. When we landed Southam insisted in carrying my very heavy
Ascor studio lighting.
Of the man faced I
now remember little except that he was handsome, wore a beautiful suit but
somehow was low key. This latter quality (a quality it must be) may be the
reason why he never became premier.
There is another reason why I remember that trip to
Victoria. Even though I was earning freelancer money (not the best) I told
Southam that I wanted to invite him and that I would pay high tea at the
Empress. This we did. I told him that someday I would boast about it as I am
|Yours truly & Harvey Southam|
I had a very pleasant and most interesting relationship with
this all-powerful man. He told me stuff that I believe he would not tell
anybody else. One day he said, “Accompany me to the Bentall Centre. I want you
to take a picture of the gathering. We are going to decide today who is going
to head Simon Fraser University."
On another day I told him that I had had lunch with Alderman
Bill Yee and that I thought that he would make a good and first ethnic mayor for our city. His
startling answer was, “Not while we are around.”
Ray Spaxman, Bill Yee & all those other fine men
In spite of his patrician ways, Harvey Southam was an authentic journalist. I remember that he hired Adrian du Plessis to write about the shenanigans at the Vancouver Stock Exchange. Duplessis, who was a top notch white crime investigative writer fed lots of information to David Baines at the Vancouver Sun. I believe that the Equity cover article and Baines in the Sun was the death knell for the notorious Vancouver Stock Exchange. One of my fave features of Equity were two pages. One was On The Left and the other On the Right. Good writers would write about the same topic from a different political perspective.
Du Plessis & David Baines
Southam died of suicide in 1991. I toyed about going to his
memorial service at Christ Church Cathedral. The night before I decided I had
to go for one reason. The reason was made evident from my back corner at the
end of the church. An Anglican pastor talked about summers in Qualicum Beach.
There was not one person in that congregation that was not white. For me that
day represented the time when anthropologists will determine that our city
changed. It was on that day.
But some things do not change. For this Argentine I
appreciate the low-level corruption of Canadian politics. I appreciate that I
have managed to meet and photograph so many of these politicians. Most I liked, even one I
was not prepared to do so.
Bill, Bob, Mike & Jack & The Boys From St. George
So today Ron Johnson of the NDP informed that Skelly died
today. I knew that I would have to write this. I really did not know that man
well but he did leave that impression that he was a cool
man with ethics.
Ethics, the good ones, are at a poor supply these days. We in
Canada and in Vancouver are lucky.
Ron Johnson's Shake 'N Bake Chicken
|Ron Johnson making Shake 'N Bake Chicken|