Rosemary, Yorkshire Pudding & Napoleon
Saturday, March 04, 2023
There is a quote on the first page of Roland Barthes’s
Camera Lucida that is in my mind frequently when I look at my portraits or
those of others. And of late, when I look at my cats Niño and Niña that quote is there. They stare at me constantly. I can see in their eyes that they stared at Rosemary also. And I often wonder, "Do they remember her?"
|Niño & Niña|
|Niña & Niño|
One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of
Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with
an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: “I am looking at eyes that
looked at the Emperor.” Roland Barthes
While I do not believe in ghosts I do sense something that I
called an absent presence. I can feel Rosemary near when I walk Niño every
day (weather permitting) around the block taking the same route Rosemary did. I
can almost hear her say, “Alex, don’t shout at him and be patient if he lingers
in a garden.”
When I read poetry I also think of Rosemary. One
of my favourite ghost poems is one by my Mexican novelist and poet friend
Homero Aridjis. Here it is below in English and in Spanish:
Recommendations for a Ghostly Existence
When you walk on the street, don't kiss your loved one,
besides not seeing you, you might scare her.
When you are run over by a car in traffic,
don't worry, it will have driven over air.
In a room with a nude young woman, don't be anxious,
your desire will be the beating of an empty heart.
If at daybreak the cat is staring at you, don't pet her,
her flashing eyes are seeing nothing.
If your dog crosses you without knowing that you are
there, you don't
It will have seen a ghost calling it from the other side
of the light.
para la vida fantasmal
vayas por la calle, no beses a tu amada,
además de no verte, la puedes espantar.
en el tráfico un coche te atropelle,
preocupes, habrá aplastado aire.
cuarto con una joven desnuda, no te inquietes,
será un pálpito en un saco vacío.
amanecer la gata está mirándote, no la acaricies,
fulgurantes estará viendo nada.
perro te atraviesa sin saber que estás allí, no te
visto a un fantasma llamándolo desde el otro lado
de la luz.
poemas Solares, Homero Aridjis, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005 Mexico
Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik manages to say it all
in one sentence:
ciegamente mía. Sueño del cuerpo transparente como un árbol de vidrio.
de buscar tus ojos en el espacio lleno de gritos del poema.
A night, blindly mine. I dream of the transparent body
like a glass tree.
The horror to look for your eyes in a space full of the
poem’s shouts. (my translation)
All the above is to explain why today 4 March 2023 I
decided to make myself a Yorkshire Pudding. Rosemary did not really like to cook
so I did most of it for our 52 years together. But she had two specialties, she
baked good pies and her Yorkshire Pudding was legendary with our family. A nice
touch was that Rosemary’s recipe was out of my mother’s 1953 edition of Irma S.
Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker’s The Joy of Cooking.
I had the Yorkshire Pudding today because I live, when I
am awake, a sentence from St. Luke’s Gospel where he quotes Christ (parting the bread at the
And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said,
Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of
Only in my oblivion will I ever forget her.
The Children of the Mother Corporation Are Now Orphans
Friday, March 03, 2023
|Bill Richardson - a friendly face from the former Mother Corporation|
A lot of Hot Air on the CBC - A Vanishing Act
William Richardson & our Shameful CBC
An open letter to CBC's Catherine Tait
The Densification of Paul Merrick's CBC
is the head honcho of the CBC. She happens to live in the Boerum Hill
neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Does anybody know what she does? Has she ever visited Vancouver? If she has I never found out.
A couple of
years ago, Telus got rid of its Canadian servers and adopted and now uses Google
servers. Anywhere else in the world, that a national communications company
depends on foreign servers, would be a scandal. Telus bought up ADT a couple of
years ago. When I have a problem and I call the number a woman usually answers
and she asks me, “What is your zip code?”
coffee at J.J. Bean as it is North Vancouver owned. I never go to Starbucks. I
do not buy books from Abe Books as it is owned by Amazon. I never buy anything
on line that involves Amazon or their delivery.
that this Argie, at age 80, is no longer interested in driving to Seattle (as I
used to do with my Rosemary) to buy a Pendleton. I am a Canadian and I feel Canadian.
job as a photographer in Vancouver (we arrived from Mexico in 1975) was in 1977
when Radio Canada TV was coming on the air. They wanted station ID pictures
that were exclusively theirs and not taken by the English side of the corporation.
After that I was hired by the English CBC and worked there for many years.
It may have
been sometime around 1977 that I went home and told Rosemary, “Today, thanks to
the CBC I have found out that the province is pronounced nefun-land. I almost feel
often wondered the origin of the epithet (a nice one at that) The Mother Corp.
expression was explained by my longtime friend Michael Varga, who in his time
was the best hockey cameraman in Canada (making him the best in the world). He
told me that when he started working in 1973 at the old Vancouver CBC location
on Georgia he felt protected and nurtured in his job. From my job as a rental
agent for Tilden Rent-A-Car, on Alberni beginning in 1975, I was constantly dealing
with CBC folks who rented our station wagons. I asked them if they liked their
jobs and they invariably smiled. I was jealous.
It was as a
stills photographer at CBC variety shows and shooting their announcers for
magazines that I honed my talent in being a good commercial photographer. The
CBC was my very own Mother Corp.
March 2023 with the elimination of Hot Air all that remains that interests me is
CBC Ideas, About Time with Tom Allen, Reclaimed and (yes!) the Debaters.
Lister Sinclair died, I sent him an email telling him that his CBC Ideas needed
some Debaters humour. He answered me agreeing with me!
Gloria Macarenko’s radio voice. But Barbara Budd is gone. There are few good
journalism in Vancouver being moribund if not dead and the on-line cultural
magazines like Stir and Pancouver not stirring the pot we have The Tyee which
does have investigative journalism and opinion pieces. The pickings are few as
the audience is now fractured.
one simple solution. What organization does not depend on selling ads? That has
to be the CBC. Why can they not in Vancouver and nationally have radio and TV
programs with a couple of hours a week featuring critics, musician, artists,
dancers, actors, producers, architecture experts, etc?
do it. Is there a will? I have been told by the few I know that work still at
the CBC that producers are young and don’t know any better. And I have been
told that the corporation makes decisions from Toronto.
is this one. If Pierre Poilivre manages to become Prime Minister (he has
promised to defund the CBC) he will not have to defund the CBC as it will be a
corporation in which its children have no mother.
Catherine Tait what are you going to do about this situation that is getting worse
Two Alive & With Content
Wednesday, March 01, 2023
Everybody knows what a necrophiliac is. I would like to
modify the word to include people in social media who have their right hand index finger (if
they are right-handed) in preparation to press send the moment (almost instant
the ability of these ambulance chasers) they find out that Keith Richards has
gone to the other side. The blurb sent will be about that occasion, years ago,
when Richards dropped a cigarette on the stage floor and the writer of the
blurb picked it up and smoked it.
Then there are the odd people who celebrate and wish happy
birthday to people long dead. “Happy birthday Frank Sinatra!” and then add that he would have
been 83 today.
There are those who write how they miss their grandmother
who might have died 30 years before.
I would call this empty content.
As an example of content there are these two men, Gene
Simmons & Iggy Pop who are both much alive. Few will write about them. They are alive.
In 1983 when I photographed Gene Simmons I first understood
the difference between the actor and the person. Gene Simmons the actor posed
for me and scared me to death. He personified evil. Then with a smile in his
face he told writer Les Wiseman and me a curious story. While living in New
York City this scenario often repeated itself. The door bell would ring.
Simmons would open the door to face a couple of geeky teenagers with a question
in their face. Simmons would simply say, "Try next door," and would then
close the door. Simmons's neighbour for many years was famous science fiction
writer Isaac Asimov. The teenagers never suspected who the affable man without
makeup really was.
In 1989 I had the good fortune to photograph a drug free and
sober Iggy Pop at the Fours Seasons Hotel in Vancouver
I decided to use a dramatic spotlight low on him for my
picture and when I looked at him through my viewfinder I recalled a photograph
taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1939 in Geneva when he was covering the League
of Nations Assembly. His subject was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda
minister. In retrospect that photograph of the man with an annoyed and malign
expression proved all too prophetic of horrors to come. I mentioned this to
Iggy (it sounds odd to write Mr. Pop or even Pop) who immediately became very
excited and told me he had been to the very house in Geneva. He then posed for
me and gave me the closest malign expression he could muster. For a gentleman
like Iggy Pop this was hard to do but I appreciated his gesture.