December 2012

Home Again Home Again Jiggety Jog

I set out to find wild elephants. That was my big idea. I pitched the story that way. I left on the plane with only that in mind.

I got much more.

In a couple months, the article about my trip to the Yunnan Province in southern China will run in EnRoute Magazine. I don't want to give anything away. But let me quickly hit a few of the highlights.

We started in Lijiang, in the long cool shadow of Jade Dragon Snowy Mountain, holy peak of the Naxi people. Yulong, as it's locally known, has never been climbed to its summit, though legend has it that many star-crossed young lovers have lept together to their deaths from its cliffs, diving into the third kingdom to gain acceptance for the love forbidden them in this world.

In Lijiang there are roof cats, who draw wealth and fortune into their mouths.

There's gorgeous food:

And then there are these, which are marble and expensive, or I might have taken some home.

From Lijiang we moved on to Shangrila, where a Tibetan woman named Sanam showed us around. She brought us to the Songzanlin Lamastery.

To the market.

She took us to the house of friends of hers, who sat us down around the blackened stove and gave us fresh yak's milk cheese, yak butter tea and tsampa.

We sat in their living room under amazing carvings.

We said goodbye to Sanam and travelled down into Xishuangbanna. We went to the Mekong, where a woman with a pink umbrella sang by the shoreline.

We went up the river, past a large pagoda on the far shore.

We went into the jungle.

We saw gibbons and hiked past tea terraces.

Later, in town, we ate 1,000 year old eggs and roast chicken at a restaurant where they played MahJong for what appeared to be large amounts of money.

And the elephants. Did I see any?

The whole story runs in EnRoute early next year. Let's just say for now that it ended up being bigger than the animal, that story.

Bigger, and weirdly better, than I could have expected.

 

Posted: Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 1:18pm

The Way Things Are: Fred Herzog's Art of Observation

First published in Canadian Art Winter 2013

By Timothy Taylor

At 82 years of age, photographer Fred Herzog doesn’t move quite as quickly as he used to. But then, few people ever did. In his younger days, Herzog was the kind of guy who’d jump on his Norton motorcycle after lunch and ride back roads to the top of Mount Baker, 180 kilometres south in Washington state, then motor home in time for supper. “Not always at the speed limit,” he says now, with a sly smile.

When he wasn’t making a literal blur across the landscape—and when he wasn’t working full time as a medical photographer at the University of British Columbia (UBC) or raising his family—he shot pictures on the streets. And rather a lot of pictures, we now know, as a result of a series of high-profile solo shows in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, New York and Berlin over the course of just the past five years. Asked to estimate the total number of pictures he’s taken in his life, Herzog will admit to more than 85,000. Of course, those are only the ones he’s kept.

“I suppose I’m a bit of a workaholic,” he says, with a self-deprecating chuckling and a glint of mischief in his eyes. But then, immediately, he’s back to scanning the world around him. “Here,” he says, voice low. “Let’s look up this alley. There are often things here.”

We’re in Strathcona, Vancouver’s oldest residential neighbourhood, just east of the downtown core...

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Posted: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 9:35am