My Sword Excalibur Cameras
Friday, October 06, 2023
|My Mexico City Cameras - scanned 6 October 2023
Going to Mexico DF (CDM) on 12 October will be a journey
that will expose me to the ghosts of my mother, grandmother and my Rosemary. Rosemary
and I lived there from Dec 1967 until we left for Vancouver with our two Mexican-born daughters in 1975.
Because I am not too swift it was in the late 90s of the
last century when I understood that to have nostalgia for a place you had to be
not there. Since then I have taken many photographs to link my nostalgia for
Argentina, Mexico and Texas with what I remember of those places.
There is no doubt in my mind that my career in photography
both in Mexico City and here in Vancouver came with the backing of Rosemary who
pulled strings with our finances so that I could have the equipment I needed.
It was on Thursday, August 15 2013 when my life as a
photographer changed for the better because of my Rosemary telling me I needed
to buy a digital camera as I could not keep bribing Brazilian, Mexican and
Argentine folks at the airport not to X-ray my film.
Because of the intelligent and practical help from Jeff Gin
I purchased a Fuji X-E1.
Yes I shoot film all the time but my X-E1 and newer X-E3
have given me an opening to a world that would have been hit and miss with a
In the last 10 years I have pushed my style by using slow
shutters and getting what I called swirls. I started with photographs of
dancers at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company and from that point on I have not
looked back. I am especially happy with my photographs of Art Bergmann’s
concert last Friday at the Rickshaw Theatre.
Arts Umbrella Dance Swirls
Art Bergmann Swirls
Those ghosts in Mexico City I will somehow record with the
four cameras I am taking.
The Asahi Pentax S3 (it was used and 2 years old) I
purchased at Foto Rudiger on Avenida Venustiano Carranza in Mexico City in
1962. It was my principal camera in Argentina and Mexico until we came to
A month and a bit more ago the shutter button of the Pentax
fell out. This involved a complex fixing by Horst Wenzel. To my dismay after he
fixed it he died shortly after.
I see the taking of the Pentax as King Arthur returning with
Sword Excalibur Camera
The Widelux will enable me to take interesting swivel-lens
panoramics. The X-E3 will be my principal camera for taking portraits of
And what of my X-E1? I am a firm believer of Patterson’s Law
of Photography that states that Murphy was an optimist. It is my backup.
Question not Asked
Wednesday, October 04, 2023
|Rosemary & Rosa 'Ebb Tide' 4 October 2023
With today's visits by my friends Art Bergmann and Dave Chesney I was nicely distracted until
they left. Alone with Niña and Niño melancholy set in.
This happens every day, no matter how busy I may try to be.
I find myself on the bed with my two cats and suddenly grief befalls me.
I know that I may have just a little relief by going to
my oficina and writing about Rosemary in a blog. She is almost with me as I write.
It works. It is satisfying. But by the time I turn off the
lights in bed the sadness sets in.
I have often written here that when we are curious enough to
ask those important questions, those who can answer them, are invariably dead.
From my diploma on my oficina wall, I know that I crossed the
equator in the Río Aguapey on 11 December 1966. It was a slow boat so by the
time I arrived at Veracruz it may have been early February of 1967. By then I had
shoulder-length hair. I began to tell people (in Veracruz few understood)
that I was a hippie.
I decided I was going to visit my friend Robert Hijar, who
at the time was living in the Haight/Ashbury neighbourhood in San Francisco.
There I read Ramparts Magazine, bought a ceramic peace
symbol, and played being a hippie but rejecting all requests I toke up.
|Nevado de Toluca - 1968
Ceramic Peace Symbol in this blog
I returned to Veracruz and went to the Mocambo beach. My mother was
worried so she suggested I go to Mexico City and look for a job.
Once there my friend Raúl
Guerrero Montemayor told me he was going to teach me the Berlitz
Language system so that I could work out of the school he was employed by. The
school sent teachers to instruct Mexican executives in American companies in
English. We were also sent to American hotels to teach their employees to deal
with American tourists.
And so it was that sometime in mid-December 1967, as I was
leaving the school, I saw a young woman walking away from the school. I saw her
from the back and she had straight and long blond hair, she was wearing a dark
blue miniskirt, and her legs were divine. From that point my memory is blank
and I have no idea how I approached her.
Within a week I took her to visit my mother in Veracruz for Christmas
and by February 8 1968 we were married.
How did I approach her? What did I tell her or ask her?
What did she tell me?
I have a memory (the only one) that in the front seat of my
VW Beetle, a few days later, she had her legs up and she began to tell me something
about relationships. And that is it.
Now with her gone, I will never know how it was that I
connected with the woman I lived with for 52 years.
The Chac-mool - Rosemary & Me at the UNAM Botanical Garden
Monday, October 02, 2023
A chacmool (also spelled chac-mool or Chac Mool,) is a
form of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican sculpture depicting a reclining figure with
its head facing 90 degrees from the front, supporting itself on its elbows and
supporting a bowl or a disk upon its stomach. These figures possibly symbolised
slain warriors carrying offerings to the gods; the bowl upon the chest was used
to hold sacrificial offerings, including pulque, tamales, tortillas, tobacco,
turkeys, feathers, and incense. In Aztec examples, the receptacle is a
cuauhxicalli (a stone bowl to receive sacrificed human hearts). Chacmools were
often associated with sacrificial stones or thrones. The chacmool form of
sculpture first appeared around the 9th century AD in the Valley of Mexico and
the northern Yucatán Peninsula.
Aztec chacmools bore water imagery and were associated
with Tlaloc, the rain god. Their symbolism placed them on the frontier between
the physical and supernatural realms, as intermediaries with the gods.
Sitting at my dining room table, opposite the wall that is
full of Mexican objects and framed photographs of Rosemary and me, I noticed
this today. If anything is shows how my Bunny Watson connections enable me to
think of links that may not be obvious.
The photograph in the scanograph here, which I have placed often in these blogs,
was taken by my Yorkshire compadre Andrew Taylor in 1968 at the Botanical Garden of the
University of Mexico. Of why we posed with a Mexican paper flower, I have no memory.
But I do remember that Andrew used my Asahi Pentax S-3 with the 50mm f-2 lens
loaded with Kodak colour negative film.
My Sword Excalibur Cameras in Mexico
While I was staring at this photograph, my thought process
immediately took me to the sad understanding that both of us were alive for
the photograph but now only I exist. This concept is a hard one to
digest when I see photographs of Rosemary all over the house. I think, “She is
not here.” This happens all day. I cannot escape it.
As I looked at the photograph I was struck by how my
pose resembled a Mayan chac-mool.
The human mind is such an extraordinary and complex
mechanism. If only I could now reconcile and accept Rosemary’s nonexistence and go on
with what is left of my life.
Aaron Copland - El Salón México & My Rosemary
Sunday, October 01, 2023
|1969 with Alexandra by the American Embassy
In these blogs I have written frequently on my feelings of
nostalgia for countries I have lived in. I have also mentioned how I discovered
late in my life that to have nostalgia for a place one cannot be in that place.
Canada brings me memories of Neal Young singing Ohio or Art
Bergmann singing Hawaii.
Texas has to be Willie Nelson singing Blue Skies and
Argentina (particularly Buenos Aires) has to be any Astor Piazzolla.
What of Mexico a place I lived from 1943 to 1964 and from
1967 to 1975?
In the early 30s Aaron Copland was taken to a nightclub of
ill-repute, El Salón México, by Mexican composer Carlos Chávez. There at a
table Copland saw taxi dancers in an atmosphere that he liked so much he
returned often and finally completed his El Salón México in 1936.
In the years 1967 to 1975 in Mexico City I shared my life
with my Rosemary and two daughters. Particularly from 1967 for a couple of
years we lived near a movie house called Cine Chapultepec on the lovely
boulevard Avenida Reforma. We had two choices when attending a film. One was to show up
just before it began. When this happened the movie house was full and we could
not sit together. The other option was to go 40 or more minutes before. In our
comfortable seats together we were subjected to PRI (Partido Revolucioario
Intstitucional) propaganda that featured
the presiden cutting ribbons at hospitals, etc. More often than not the music
in the backround was Copland’s El Salón México.
There are authentic Mexican composers like Carlos Chávez and
Silvestre Revueltas but to me (and obviously for the makers of the PRI
propaganda, Copland was the most Mexican sounding one. I agree.
In Youtube if you know the existence of a favourite piece of music you can usually
find it. That is how I found a terrific video in b+w, with a luxury of multiple
film camera work probably shot at Carnegie Hall that features Leonard Bernstein
introducing Aaron Copland on his birthday who proceeds to conduct El Salón
view this video without thinking of my Rosemary when we were young and living
on Calle Herodoto. Just like Herodotus wrote that you could never touch a spot
on a river twice, I grieve but still remember fondly those days that now seem
to be so much simpler and rosier.
And to finish with a smile I remember once when Rosemary and I were sitting far appart watching an English film with Peter Sellers that often had bathroom scene jokes. In this one a bidet was mentioned. Mexicans did not seem to know what a bidet was so heard Rosemary laughing on the other side of the movie house.
El Salón México