Smiling with Niño & Niña
Saturday, February 25, 2023
|Niño & Niña 26 February 2023|
On October 1996 I was In P.D. James’s hotel room taking her
portrait. She was curious as to the planes outside her window were. Luckily
I knew a lot about the De Havilland Beaver thanks to my friend and writer Sean
After the portrait we chatted and I asked her why it was
that so many of the crimes and murders in her novels were due to family
squabbles and last will testament disagreements. Her answer was simple, “That’s
the way it is.”
It is only after my Rosemary’s death on December 9, 2020
that I have begun to understand Baroness James of Holland Park's point of view.
It is obvious now that Rosemary was the Rock of Gibraltar,
that kept our family (two daughters and two granddaughters together). Since
then, my relationship with all four has been kind of iffy. With Rosemary alive
we saw our granddaughters at least once a week. They now seem to have outgrown
As my friends die or die because they ditch their land line
or simply our friendships fade, I find myself isolated.
But I have seen the light.
My two cats, Niño and Niña, give me attention and affection.
They listen to me talk to them in Spanish and do not seem to object, even when I may rant.
Rosemary is with me when I clean or empty their litter box,
add fresh water to their drinking bowls and especially when I take Niño for his
walk around the block taking the same route Rosemary did.
And like Rosemary around 7:30 in the evening I loudly say,”Treats,
treats!” and they rapidly get on the bed and I feed them, one at a time, just
like Rosemary did.
I believe that the cats find me necessary so I do not feel
irrelevant. I am useful to them. I have the clear idea that I must stay alive as nobody I know would
take care of them.
But at age 80, for the first time in my life, I am wondering
who will outlive whom.
What is important to me is that after 78 years of never
having lived alone, learning to live alone, while not understood by family, is something
that I can learn to do, even with a smile.
I loved Rosemary. I love Niño and Niña.
Let Us Not Be the the Reason - February 24 2023
Friday, February 24, 2023
|Olena Kuzyk posing as the long suffering Virgin Mary of Kiev|
It would be difficult to figure out a place in our world
today that does not have the knowledge that February 24 marks the anniversary
of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia’s Putin.
My friend Graham Walker and I attended a most unusual
concert today that marked that anniversary with spare but avant-garde sounding
music that was not all that sombre but that did inspire us to think about the
state of our world, and to try and feel the suffering in Ukraine.
It is often said that no-fun Vancouver in its attempt to
be “world-class” fails particularly in the arts; and more so, with preview
publicity and post event criticism, appearing in some form of credible city journalism.
With ad revenue down our city’s newspapers are mere shadows
of what they once were.
The one media organization that does not need ad funding,
our National and Vancouver CBC could step in. Unfortunately while I am a fan of
CBC Ideas, Tom Allen’s CBC Music, and CBC Reclaimed I am not interested in
finding out the state of traffic in our city bridges.
It is because of my graphic designer friend Graham Walker
that I was alerted of today’s concert at the Canadian Memorial Church and Centre
for Peace on the corner of Burrard and West 15th Avenue.
One of our city's admirable concert promoters, is stand-up
bassist Mark Haney. Few might know that he is the Composer-in-Residence at the
Mountain View Cemetery. Graham Walker and I have attended many concerts there
in their lovely and acoustically splendid, recently built, hall.
Mountain View Concert of Note
In the beginning of the pandemic Mark Haney initiated, with
his Little Chamber Music organization, something called Isolation Commissions.
There were 130. Local performers were paid a nominal sum of money by sponsors.
My fave in the list is Number 81 featuring Jeremy Berkman playing his trombone
in an underground parking lot.
Isolation Commissions (all 130)
While tonight’s concert was brought by Little Chamber Music
it was a huge string orchestra with 8 cellos and many violins and violas.
The music played (three local
composers- Robyn Jacob, Rita Ueda & Jordan Nobles) was in honour of the bloody
anniversary. The concert opened with Arvo Part’s Cantus in Memoriam of Benjamin
My fave was Robyn Jacob’s A World
in Each that had the unusual sight of the string instruments having the bows
silently play on the wood edge and not on the strings. For me it reminded me of John Cage’s 4’33” as I listened
for any ambient noises present in the church hall.
The ever busy Leslie Dala was the musical director. We were unable to chat with him after as he was off to a meeting at the Orpheum. This man is a Vancouver treasure. He is an excellent pianist and this past summer he directed the Santa Fe, New Mexico Opera. Take that, "world class 'Vancouver!
I regretted not to have brought along my silent Fuji X-E3 camera so the bad quality of my photograph here taken with my phone will have to do.
|right - Mark Haney |
A Universal T-Shirt & a Photograph From the Heart
Thursday, February 23, 2023
There are few people I know now who might be impressed if I
told them that Johnny Thunders had snapped my photograph. And fewer may understand my owning a White Light/White
Heat – Velvet Underground T-shirt.
When writer Les Wiseman and I covered the goings on of the
rock scene in Vancouver for Vancouver Magazine we had a snobbish code on what we wore to concerts. I
must state here that good music critics (and Les Wiseman was of the best) are
inherently snobs. Because I was his constant companion for interviews and concerts
he illuminated me on who to listen to and who not to. I became a snob. I remember him telling me in the beggining of our partnership something like this,"If you are going to listen to anybody it has to be Lou Reed. He's God."
If you happened to go to a Ramones concert at the Commodore
it was not hip to wear a Ramones T-shirt. It was better in a case like this one
to wear a local punk group’s T like D.O.A.
I am not sure if we ever discussed what would be the
ultimate T-shirt that could be worn for any concert. I believe that my Velvet
Underground T, given me by a lovely stripper with very good taste, is the one.
Besides Les Wiseman (who pointed it to me that indeed Johnny Thunders had snapped my portrait in the basement of Gary Taylor’s Rock
Room in 1981) few would understand how hip it is for me to have that memento.
Johnny Thunders - From the Heart
Lord, I was born a ramblin' man
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
|Béatrice Larrivée - 20 August 2022 - 19:33|
|Béatrice Larrivée - 20 August 2022 -19:40|
Lord, I was born a ramblin' man
Tryin' to make a livin' and doin' the best I can
And when it's time for leavin'
I hope you'll understand…
Allman Brothers Band
This blog is going to ramble lots.
In 1972 I was teaching at a high school in Mexico where
my students were mostly Americans from the US Embassy and children from fathers
who worked for American companies.
One day someone in my class asked me, “What do you think
of Alice Cooper?” My answer was met by guffaws. “Who is she?” The class then
decided on a pact. I would take them to listen to my music (this I did to a
baroque concert at an old Mexican Churrigueresque church.
They then invited me to a party where they played Crosby,
Stills,Nash & Young and a band called The Allman Brothers from a just
released record At Fillmore East.
Thanks to them I received the beginnings of an excellent
Of late I have been thinking lots at night about words in
the two languages I speak, Spanish & English.
I have written here before how there are words that exist
in English but not in Spanish. It is virtually impossible to say in few words
in Spanish, “I was being tailgated & I was rearended”.
More than ever before, I have become aware on how our
language and its structure, grammar, affect (and limit?) how we think and look
at the world.
As an example one of my favourite compositions by Ástor Piazzolla is
Oblivion. Piazzolla lived for many years in New York. He knew of the
intricacies of language and even spoke good French. When he called his work Oblivion he chose a word in
English that has no close translation to Spanish. Olvido (to forget is not
right). Amazingly in English there is a close synonym, nothingness. Nada is not
I wonder how then we of Latin upbringing consider life
after death. My Rosemary and I both believed in oblivion after our deaths and
we knew we would never see each other again.
More complicated is our concept of time. We are all aware
of the expression, “It is water under the bridge,” which may have been
influenced by Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus that you could never place
your hand on the same water of a rushing river. What if you jump your finger from here to there? Can that instant be twice?
With the advent of the focal plane shutter for cameras,
speeds rose to 1/1000 second and beyond. What is then an instant in one of
those wonderful photographs by Harold Edgerton taken at super high speeds?
A client of mine some years ago jokingly asked me what my
bill for services rendered was. I quoted my day rate of $3500 (what it was back
in 1987). He then computed how many pictures I had taken and the speed of the
shutter speeds I had used and offered to pay me a third.
When we think of time we think of before, now and a
future after. I think that language limits our understanding of time
and especially when we consider now.
The two photographs of Béatrice Larrivée that I took back in
August 2022 were shot with a shutter speed of ¼ second. I have even taken
pictures with much longer exposures. How then can both these photographs
represent an instant in time?
You can look at these two photographs and think how nice
they may be and how they are. But how does that include a period of time that
was not an instant?
Yes I am a ramblin’ man.