An Unexpected Revelation
Saturday, January 27, 2024
|Rosemary and Casi - Kerrisdale - Photographs - Amy Chin
|Alex & Paul Leiz - Plata - Kerrisdale - Photographs Amy Chin
Few of my contemporaries would understand what it is like to
live in a house full of framed pictures on the wall which I all took. And most
are family portraits that parade in front of me the passage of time (55 years
of which 52 I shared with Rosemary). Many of my subjects are long dead and yet
the smiles of my mother and grandmother appear in my memory.
Rosemary for years had a tocador (dresser) with an oval
mirror. She never ever sat in front of it to apply makeup. She always preferred
to sit on the floor in front of our closet mirrors.
This dresser contained lots of intimate belongings of
hers. She kept copious notes of all our trips abroad and had many notebooks
where she jotted about her life in Mexico before she met me. Some of her notes
make me blush. With her gone I feel it is okay to intrude on her privacy.
Yesterday in one of the little notebooks in the center (seen
here) I found four photographs taken by my friend Paul Leisz’s partner Amy
Chin. The pictures she took before we moved to Kitsilano from Kerrisdale some 6 years ago. I
know this as one of the cats was my Polilla who died just before we moved and I
buried her in our Kits garden. The other cat was Casi. He died of diabetes in
our new house before we left on a trip to Buenos Aires. When we returned we
went to the SPCA and adopted our orange and white siblings, Niño and Niña.
It is virtually impossible for me to explain the emotion I
experience last night when I saw the portrait of Rosemary that I had not taken.
It was almost like seeing somebody for the first time. I stared at it and
immediately thought, “She was alive.”
Staring at Casi and Polilla was different. I have written
many times here how cats have a Platonic essence I call catness or (new just
now) felinity. It seems that as soon as a cat dies and one adopts a new one the
essence of the former live cat is transferred to the new live one. I see in
these portraits (I would never call them snaps) the souls(spirits?) of my present Niño and Niña. That is comforting.
And thank you Amy for this late in acknowledgement gift.
Grasshopper Hill - Tchaikovsky & Richard Chamberlain
Friday, January 26, 2024
|Mexico City - 1969
I have yet to find anybody to understand my point that
Artificial Intelligence is a stupid algorithm used (we hope) by an intelligent
While there are some who are hypercritical of Twitter/X I
enjoy it because their algorithms have put me in touch with writers and others
who write in Spanish and may be from
Argentina, Mexico or Spain.
In one such tweet I saw a photograph of a movie house in
Mexico City (the photograph was circa mid 50s) called the Chapultepec (below). It was
on the corner of the fashionable Paseo de La Reforma bordering the Chapultepec Park (the grasshopper hill is the
meaning of the word).
In 1970 Rosemary and I had been married since Feb 1968 and
we lived around the corner from the movie house on Herodoto Street. We wanted
to see a film called The Music Lovers directed by Ken Russell, staring Richard
Chamberlain (he played Tchaikovsky) and Glenda Jackson.
When we got there we were asked for our IDs. I was 27 and
Rosemary was 25. I remember that Rosemary smiled and told me we could go back
to our apartment to retrieve our IDs.
Some years later I photographed Richard Chamberlain in
Vancouver. To break the ice I told him two stories. One was the one of The
Music Lovers and the other as to why there is a famous brand of Havana cigars
called Montecristo ( I smoked the Claro which cost 15 dollars in Vancouver for
the foot long that it was). Cuban women rolled cigars leaves on their thighs
while being read. Their fave novel was El Conde de Montecristo. Chamberlain was in the 1975 film.
The Montecristo Claros and two forestry barons
|Richard Chamberlain - April 1998
The Finality of Nevermore
Thursday, January 25, 2024
|Corvus, curva - Juan manuel Sánchez & Alex Waterhouse-Hayward 2001
I am not going to dispute if the big black birds that
compete with the smaller birds in my deck garden for the bird seed I put out
are crows or the bigger ravens.
In our Kerrisdale home in the late 60s, our neighbour Mrs.
Alm, who lived across the street, would come out on hot summer afternoons and
clap her hands in a futile hope the crows would stop making noise and go away. They
One time I found a dying little crow on the street and I
picked it up. Later in the day Rosemary and I went to vote for federal
elections and we were swooped by what must have been the angry parents.
In 2001 my Argentine painter friend, Juan Manuel
Sánchez worked on what we called
colaboraciones that mated my photographs with his drawings. The one here we
called Corvus (the Latin name for the crow) curva (in relation to the nice
curves of our model and friend Nina Gouveia.
Why is this bog about crows/ravens?
In this other blog I wrote about
Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee. Poe has been in my mind. While nevermore is
nunca más in Spanish there is a finality of the English word probably because
of our knowledge of Poe’s poem The Raven. The protagonist of the poem is going
mad in missing his Lenore. The raven shows up pecking at the window. Ravens can
talk so we find out he is called Nevermore.
A Stream of Consciousness to Annabel Lee & James Mason
Everything in my life, post
Rosemary’s death on December 9, 2020 makes me think of the finality of that
word and how my memories will remain so and will never happen again.
It would seem after her death that she was what bound our
small family together. It is now crumbling before my eyes and I think “never
Donde La Espalda Pierde Su Nombre
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
|Karen Gerbrecht - violinist
It was during a Buenos Aires carnaval in 1950 when I noticed
something that began my confusion on sexuality. I was with my parents in the Buenos Aires Subte (subway).
Leaning onto the back of the car in front of us was a naked back. It was
supposed to be a woman but it did not look like one. How was I to know at age 8
that it was a man dressed as a woman?
the backs of people, especially that of women, have been in my mind when I pick
up a camera.
grandmother Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena was born in the 19th
century and lived in Spain. Her vocabulary was full of cautionary euphemism of the Victorian kind.
is Spanish for the back of the person from shoulders to waist. Thus a person’s back
is not necessarily a clear term. My grandmother would say “donde la espalda
pierde su nombre”. The expression plays on the exclusivity of the word espalda
and it translates to the back of a person before it loses its name. This was
her way of saying bum without using the word bum.
of the Vancouver Symphony (she may be semi-retired now) was a dashing readhead
that I photographed many times. Here I will feature her back.
Monday, January 22, 2024
Today Monday is a day when I saw nobody and the phone never
rang. My two cats, with their humane felinity, kept me company and prevented me
from suffering soledad which in my books has an even more melancholic sound
My youngest daughter has advised me that she might visit me on Friday. This solitude to me is so
desperate that I am wondering if I might not go somewhere abroad to escape it.
Yesterday I followed on my Rosemary’s obsessions. She had one that involved taking out a mop
and bucket and doing our kitchen floor. The tiled floor goes as far as the
entrance in a corridor. She would annoy me by finishing and then leaving the
bucket and the mop by the fridge for days. I only now wish she were around to annoy
me. My version is to get a large bowl with soap and water and with a brush I go
at the tile grout. Only then with a large rag do I wash the floor which I have
previously vacuumed well.
No matter where I move in this house her presence is
I was reading an interview with Julio Cortázar who stated
that the key to his writing was to use his imagination. My imagination these
days seems to be a one-trick pony all about my missing my missing wife.
I am not sure that any of my relatives understand how terrible solitude and grief can be. Perhaps soon I may find something else in
the corner of my imagination.
I fished out Rosemary’s wedding band which was badly
repaired (it had originally baked blue enamel) and mated it with the iconic
Polaroid portrait that I took of her in our early years in Burnaby sometime
between 1975 and 1977. I chose it because she is wearing the ring.
I cannot use the word icon without remembering the first
time I heard the word. Author William Gibson sometime in the 80s told me that he liked the Apple computer because it had easy-to-use icons.