Sunday, February 28, 2010

hey, mr harper.........

............ don't think you were singing the national anthem at the beginning of the closing ceremonies. Looked like you were faking it. That or you don't know the words. What's with that? Not good PR, you know. Not good PR as Prime Minister of the Olympic host country. Likely it could bring a whole new bunch of negativity your way. 'Tis possible your skin is thick & you won't give a damn. But it's not good for us, you know. To dislike our lead guy's attitude & inaccessibility. I want to like you but you piss me off so easily. Me & a lot of other people. You're running out of time. Time to loosen up, fella.

Friday, February 12, 2010

bad boy........

Standing at the curb on Queen's Quay. At the foot of Yonge street.  Was debating whether to take yet another shot of the iconic CN tower which was beckoning to me from across the street, its grand position between 2 high-tech highrise buildings, periwinkle blue sky as backdrop, making a startling demand for attention. Nah !!!.Turned around. Oh!!!! He was this close, sitting on a parked motorcycle , leaning on the handlebars. All I saw was the tattoos & the hand rising to the mouth. Lifted my camera. Click. Reflex action. No thought. Uh oh! Knew instantly that I'd just clicked my way into candid street photography's potential trouble zone. He was mad. His back straightened. His face changed. The  easy countenance of an uneventful but pleasant Sunday afternoon hanging out with his biker buddy, gone. The eyes narrowed as the hand ripped the cigarette out of the mouth, freeing it for verbal attack. "Who gave you permission to take my photo?" "Sorry! Sorry! Didn't get your face. Just the tattoos & the cig" "You did NOT have permission to take my photo" he virtually spat. I clutched my camera tightly & started to back away. Was he going to tell me to delete it ? Demand that I do it right there & then & show him the proof ? Was that in fact his right? But the frame I'd seen in the viewfinder in that split second of spontaneous shutter clicking had excited me, crammed as it was with the hand to mouth cigarette action, the dense blue-inked snake-like tattoos & the barbed chain he'd chosen to indelibly & to his dying day strangle himself with.  Only got that one shot. No way. He's not getting it. Backing away further, staring down his glowering eye contact, I make my escape. With my shot intact. Downloading when I got home...aha.....audentes fortuna iuvat!

The bad boy! All women know them. Many are attracted to them. The ones with "trouble" stamped on their foreheads. The ones who take you for a ride on their motor-cycle. The ones who take you for a ride.  Sean Penn? Jack Nicholson? Robert Downey, jnr?  James Dean, oozing both  rebellion & vulnerability....the quintessential bad boy ? They came into my life. I let them in.  First boyfriend at 15. Brooding & charismatic. Was smitten the moment he strutted into the youth club for the first time. ( Do kids today still have such a social life or is 'the mall' their club ?)  He was 14. Was in my life, on & off,  til I was 18, til I sailed away to a new life in Canada. Saying goodbye on deck of the transatllantic Cunard liner that would take me there in 6 days & 6 nights, he said "I'm not worried'll be back in 6 months." Cocky as ever. As irresistible as ever. But I wasn't back in 6 months. And I never saw him again. Age 23, I married one. The classic Prince of Darkness / King of Light. A lot more than just 'trouble' stamped on his forehead. Talk about roller-coaster. What is it about the bad boy that both fascinates & terrifies women? Attracts & repels. Not the tattoos. The bad boy can reign supreme without a jot of ink on his body. Inevitably, charisma  is an ingredient. And barely disguised vulnerability..... brazen self-confidence...... gall.  A wild quality. Perhaps therein lies the power. Deep down we want to be wild like that too. We're hoping some of it will rub off on us. That we'll get to bury the good girl. For awhile anyway.

The guy on the motor cycle......his charisma evaporated the moment he opened his mouth. A pretty fierce response. Less aggression might have made me less determined to keep the shot. He did have a point worth consideration. Though street photography is not against the law. He chews his fingernails. Anxiety-ridden? Insecure? Or is this particular bad boy a fuse ready to blow? That's no fun! Damnright dangerous, in fact!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

it's raining, it's pouring......

It's raining, it's pouring,
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed with a bump on his head
And he couldn't get up in the morning.
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day.

A traditonal nursery rhyme, first published in 1939, though believed to have been written in the 1800's. Not much known about its British origins  .....or the origins of any nursery rhymes for that matter.Though Brits do say "It's pouring!" meaning it's pouring with rain. They also say "It's pissing down" & " It's raining cats & dogs".....possibly a reference to the extremely poor sanitation of 17th / 18th century England, causing dead animals as well as debris to be swept along the street gutters during heavy downpours.

This thought conjures up dire imaginings of what the rainy season will bring to the people of Port-au-Prince. Current reports on the relief efforts in Haiti are not good. How can more than a billion donated (US) dollars worldwide be so, apparently, ineffective still ? Disorganization & lack of co-ordination among the now over 900 NGO's operating in the most severely affected  zones seems as catastrophic as the disaster itself, the sheer numbers a root problem. We see food still being dropped from helicopters as if feeding wild animals, in a devastated urban jungle were only the fittest, the strongest, are going to reap the benefits. Surely, a month & many millions of dollars later, a more workable & humane plan should be in place. As jot said, a marshall plan is desperately needed.

But I digress, from the old man who snored while it poured with rain! Musings here were initiated when I found the above pic in my files. It was taken the day I wandered the wet downtown streets of Granada, Nicaragua, in a tropical depression rainstorm. The sidewalk on this section of El Cazada is sheltered by an avenue of great trees, name unknown. Nature's leafy umbrella kindly protected my camera. The briskly striding yellow-raincoated pedestrian flashed in my peripheral vision. Another beat & he was gone. Only got one shot. Without giving up the tree as frame, anyway.*~* Remembering that day of pouring rain resurrected the sing-song nursery rhyme of childhood and laid it, unbidden, into the soundtrack of the photograph. When I was a kid I used to wonder what happened to the old man & why he couldn't get up in the morning. Now I imagine he had a concussion & couldn't get up because he died in his sleep. So many nursery rhymes do, after all, have morbid or violent intonations. The farmer's wife cut off the tails of the 3 blind mice who chased her. Goosie Goosie Gander threw the old man down the stairs because he wouldn't say his prayers. Sounds like Goosie had anger management issues. The farmer's wife? Let's say she was the prototype hysterical woman suffering musophobia whose irrational fears drove her to cut off their tails. But what of the lullabies ? Some are anything but soothing. "Rock-a-Bye, Baby" has the cradle & the baby crashing to the ground when the wind blows. Perhaps coined by a vindictive nanny not happy in her work who released her frustrations by directing her young charges into the sleep of nightmares!  That it could have been the nanny was suggested to me via google. Her mean character traits came out of my own heart. *~*

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


The simple catapult. Or slingshot as you non-Brits call it. It conjures up memories of childhood... a forked piece of tree branch, a strip of rubber, a stone .....and warnings to "be careful". Well, mostly my brothers were getting that warning. I was too much of a scaredy-cat for brash behaviour. The catapult. The most basic of toys, or assault weapon, depending on one's intentions for its use. Its beginnings were not innocent. In 339BC, Dionysius 1, tyrant ruler of Sicily, urged the country's craftsmen to construct new weapons for military use. The invention of the catapult, and its concept of propulsion, changed the face of warfare forever. Hey, wait a minute. What about David? Biblical stories tell us that 17 year old pipsqueak David slew the 9 foot tall Goliath with a single pebble & slingshot. And that was around 1024BC, 700 years earlier. Too bad young David didn't patent his simple weapon before those wily Spartans stole his invention centuries later. And I hear tell that Dionysius rewarded his inventors with untold riches & accolades. Sure pulled the wool over his eyes, didn't they?

The photo was taken in Nicaragua. A little boy & his sister who would sit on the front steps of the house where I was staying in Granada. And get chased away by the woman who owned the house. She didn't like kids hanging around. Said she felt threatened. He was 7 years old! He gave me a demonstration of his catapult prowess, in the middle of the street. A most compelling performance he put on. His whole body became a part of the action of pull & release. Like a dancer. Streamlined.....pebble bullet going forth as if it was an extension of his lithe body. A bow & its arrow.

I was in Granada specifically to meet, get to know & take photos of the children of Villa Esperanza, a poverty stricken barrio of Granada. In the 2 weeks that I spent time with the kids each day, in the barrio, I did not see one single toy, a manufactured buy-it-in-the-store toy, that is. The children ran, they climbed trees, they played in the mud with empty tin cans & bottle caps, they did handstands & jumped off walls & chased each other. You know, all the stuff our kids used to do before they got lost behind screens of varying sizes. But no toys. With an average family income of less than $2 a day, the order of the day is food to feed the family, not toys. A few balls. And lots of catapults. All home-made, of course. And so proud of them, they were. A couple of the boys asked me to take photos of them posing with their catapults. Rubber band pulled taut for maximum effect, of course. *~* When was the last time you tucked a catapult, or slingshot if you prefer,  into your back pocket? Or took aim at a tin can?