Vancouver Journalism - The Rampant Decline
Saturday, October 01, 2022
father was a reporter and a writer for the Buenos Aires Herald in the 40s I
believe I may have always had some black ink in my blood.
For about 23
years my Rosemary and I read the New York Times (hard copy delivered to the
door) for breakfast with the Vancouver Sun. I have now been enjoying the
NYTimes on my own since Rosemary died on December 9 2020.
the early 80s I started getting photographic assignments from the Georgia
Straight and contributed for many years to the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver
It was around
1994 that I started contributing both photographs with my essays for the Sun.
before Editor-in-Chief John Cruickshank left the Sun for the Chicago Sun Times
in 2000 I remember that he called me up and that he wanted to talk to me. I
knocked on the door of the newsroom and he opened the door. With his arm on my
shoulder he took me to his office. The next day many reporters and columnists
called to find out what had transpired.
time, former Mother Jones writer David Beers was editing and putting together the
finest Vancouver Sun Saturday section called Mix. I wrote quite a few articles
for Beers. Cruickshank told me that because Beers’s Mix was so successful he
was going to have him “Mix” the rest of the paper and that I would be getting
not to be as Cruickshank soon left for Chicago. It is my belief that the
Vancouver Sun started its decline then.
Now they do
not publish on Monday (that happened on October 17 but months before they had
stopped having an editorial page on Mondays). They unilaterally changed most of the comics. For me this means that a habit I had since 1975 is no longer one. I can now read the Sun in a record short time.
years the Sun and the Straight competed in having original illustration and
photography. With the Straight gone there is no competition.
since found out that in the summer the almost empty Sun news room has the air conditioning
turned off and in the winter ditto with the heating. This is to save money.
is on a digital wall that soon newsprint will be history and the sale of
budgies and canaries will decline.
there is a tad of hope. David Beers is the editor of an on-line newspaper with
lots of opinion and cultural essays called the Tyee. I have made a few
contributions. While I miss getting my
fingers dirty with black ink, the Tyee is a splendid newspaper.
The Essence of a Red Rose - The Essence of my Rosemary
Friday, September 30, 2022
|Rosa 'Darcey Bussell' 30 September 2022|
September 2022, the pickings in my garden for scanning are all but gone. But
there was this lovely red English Rose, Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’.
I decided I
would scan it and then find a poem that would accompany it. I placed in Google rosa colorada, Jorge Luís Borges.
the list was a blog of mine in Spanish. It is this one:
Las Rosas de las Rosas.
I do not
believe I can improve that blog with that lovely poem by Borges where he
indirectly states that a red rose is a Platonic essence.
believe I can add to that blog by bringing in the memory of my Rosemary.
moved to our Kerrisdale garden in 1986 she did not like a hybrid tea rose that was
there called Rosa ‘Alexander’ which was orange/red. It was named after the British general who was a hero in Africa in WWII. It did not make any difference to Rosemary that I was Alexander, too.
But years later she began
to appreciate red roses and we bought many varieties.
she died on December 9, 2020 she never saw, what is, now, one of the most
reliable red roses in our Kits garden. And that is Darcey Bussell.
getting darker earlier and my two cats clinging on to me all day I have this
melancholy of missing Rosemary every day at almost every moment. I take a plate
out to eat. She chose our Villerory & Boch set because she said our Mexican
dinnerware was losing its shine in the dishwasher.
bathroom I have a little soap dish. There are three that she brought from our
hotel in Buenos Aires. I look at my razor and I still have blade cartridges she
bought at our nearby Shopper’s.
When I look
at my cats I wonder if they remember her. Are they clingy because they miss her?
Am I the only human they have?
And so on
all day. In the car I feel that empty presence of that empty seat next to me.
And so I
look at this lovely red rose and it may have, as Borges says, that essence that
makes a rose more than a rose.
I would add
that this red rose also has in it the essence of my Rosemary who in the end
learned to love the colour red.
That Symbiotic Relationship Between the Rhinoceros & the Oxpecker
Thursday, September 29, 2022
The symbiotic relationship between the oxpecker (Buphagus
africanus africanus) and the hooved host is known as mutualism. The birds have
a steady supply of food and the host benefits from the removal of parasites
from its body. The tiny oxpecker is tolerated because of this win/win relationship.
In my career as a magazine photographer in Vancouver
beginning around 1977 and ending a few years ago when magazines and newspapers
in Canada all but died I understood that these publications were like the
People bought magazines and newspapers not only for the news
they contained but also for their cultural content. In Vancouver we could read
about dance, theatre, film and music in our dailies and in the (alas! now gone)
Georgia Straight - R.I.P.
I now understand that this was a form of symbiosis. Now with
little media coverage of cultural institutions it is my guess that these
institutions are hurting and not only because of Covid.
As endangered as all the above is the profession (once
ubiquitous and powerful) of the publicist.
Social media, TV and radio is what is left in our Vancouver.
I have noticed that the media like the CBC does not seem to understand its
power. I placed this old blog into Twitter in which Nini Baird explains that
densification in Vancouver is caused by the remoteness of access in the
interior to transportation. My tweet was seen by 75 people. I further placed it
into the CBC Vancouver & Vancouver Sun sites and viewers were no more that
3 or 4.
Would our Vancouver Sun gain lost readership with more cultural content?
Before the pandemic the audiences in theatre, music and
dance were aged like yours truly. How can youth become interested?
Perhaps our media and our cultural institutions should
ask a little bird for help
The Georgia Straight - May 1967 – 27 September 2022
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
The Georgia Straight - May 1967 – 27 September 2022
The paper was founded
as an underground newspaper in May 1967 by Pierre Coupey, Milton Acorn,] Dan
McLeod, Stan Persky, and others, and originally it operated as a collective.
In April 1967:
"The proposed paper was christened the Georgia Straight over beer at the
Cecil Hotel. The name aims to play on the fact that the weather forecasts will
offer free publicity: they're always issuing gale warnings for the Georgia
As a freelancer photographer and then writer in Vancouver
since 1977 I never felt that I was part of anything. The only job I ever held
was washing cars for Tilden-Rent-A-Car on Alberni Street from 1975 to 1976.
Both Vancouver Magazine and the Georgia Straight gave me a feeling
that I belonged. I started contributing to Vancouver Magazine in 1977 and to
the Straight from 1980.
Sometime in the beginning of 1987, punk rocker John
Armstrong (Buck Cherry of the Modernettes) showed up at our corner table at the
Railway Club where we had a group of writers, photographers, poets,
illustrators, publishers, exotic dancers, etc. We met on Thursdays at noon.
Armstrong did not know what to do with his life. The punk
era was over. I told him, “The Bay is
around the corner. Buy a Harris Tweed jacket, a shirt and tie and go and see
Charles Campbell (then editor at the Straight).” He did.
His first assignment was to interview a visiting Vincent
Price. I took the portrait. In his second job we drove to Seattle to interview
and photograph Dennis Hopper. From the Straight, Armstrong landed at the
Vancouver Sun. He has subsequently written novels and an autobiography.
In the beginning of April 1989 writer John Lekich and I
showed up at Campbell’s desk. Access to the Straight was easy and you never
needed an appointment.
We told Campbell that we wanted to do an Intro (a feature started
by Campbell that was about local people on their way up) on an intelligent and
beautiful woman. We were dispatched to work on Karen Campbell. I was never
given directions on how to take my portrait. But I did know that most had to be
Until the Straight became a square-shaped paper I
contributed. Then it all was evident that the weekly was moribund.
Thanks to the Straight I was pleasantly subjected to dance,
theatre and musical performance of all varieties.
The Georgia Straight has an incredible value in its name.
It has been purchased. The new owners say they are going to bring it all back to
its former glory. They must believe in Santa Claus.
I would only give them one piece of advice. If they are to
publish a hard copy they should switch from the Straight’s Thursdays to Monday.
As of October 17 the Vancouver Sun will not print their paper on Mondays.
Thank you Charles Campbell and Charlie Smith for all the
good times and the fact that you made us able to dream of something on one week
and see it printed on the next.