By William Carter

Photographer, Author, Jazz Musician

Good Vibes

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Roger Glenn presents “Beware the Vibes of March”

 
Just when you thought jazz had lofted entirely up into the rarified air of college courses and elegant concert halls, it’s nice to recross the tracks — back to the face-to-face interactions and inspirations where America’s music came from. My definition of a great place to hear jazz, of whatever era, is when an audience member takes a short break, and returns to his seat — only to find it occupied by one of the band members sitting out that tune. Which is what happened to me last month at one of the most venerable and funkiest jazz institutions near San Francisco — the Bach Dynamite and Dancing Society at Half Moon Bay, California.

The style and attitudes of the highly acclaimed presenters fit that bill. Leader Roger Glenn, who plays as many vibes and more woodwinds than I can count, grew up literally crawling around the feet of folks like Louis Armstrong because Roger’s father, Tyree, was a major trombonist of that era who often worked in Louis’ bands.

Equally renowned were many of the performers at the “Beware the Vibes of March” gig. Way back, the multi-talented Rex Allen cut his teeth with the Bob Crosby band, and for decades Rex has appeared in countless festivals and solo spots — often as a swing trombonist fronting his own Big Band.

This was a vibrant LATIN JAZZ afternoon. The others were too many, and too talented, to cite beyond this stellar lineup: Charlie Barreda on vibes, Michael Hatfield on vibes, Smith Dobson V on vibes, Leon Joyce Jr. on drums, David K. Mathews on piano, Robb Fisher on bass, and Rafael Ramirez on congas.

With the sun gradually slipping into the Pacific, and folks schlepping munchies and wine glasses to and from the breezy porch, and old Pete Douglas, idiosyncratic and timeless patriarch of the period structure, happily lolling at the swirling epicenter his home, his ankles crossed atop his ancient desk, there were more multigenerational smiles all round than one would care to count. These afternoons are as much private parties as concerts. Still going strong (since 1964) in this former private residence, Bach Dynamite is a non-profit 501c(3), and you can get all the data at their website here.

By the way, no sign says: No Photography. But how is this enforced? Example: the conga player’s i-Pad rang in his pocket in the middle of the first tune. That helped loosen up the audience, if further loosening were needed.

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Photos: Roger Glenn (top) and friends, © William Carter, March 23, 2014
Nikon D-800, hand-held, no flash, processed on a Mac in Aperture.

Written by bywilliamcarter

April 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

History of a Cover Image

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Byways of Photo Memory

 
“One never knows, do one?” That famous quote, attributed to pianist Fats Waller, can be applied to photographs.

My day’s jaunt from Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Staten Island in November, 1962 was a fun journey with casual friends. Preserved on film, some of the moments are shown below. Fifty two years later, I have no idea of anyone’s name, but one of the pictures is being used on the May 2014 cover of Sun Magazine, as it was on the cover of my 2011 book, Causes and Spirits.

We stopped at the little girl’s house for an hour at most. We had taken the Staten Island Ferry, and later visited the Catholic Worker’s Peter Maurin House (but those are other stories).

I was using a Leica which was later ripped off my neck during a riot in Ma’an, Jordan (yet another story).

I guess we old folks are story tellers.

Here are scans of the uncorrected original shoot on 35mm Tri-X, dust spots and all. Do you know which became the cover image? Answer next time. The girl(s) must be around 60 now.

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Written by bywilliamcarter

April 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm

More Color from Florida

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From 2014, and also from 2007

The top two, below, are additional pictures taken from the Everglades boardwalks in February, 2014.

Plus, below those two, are five more abstract photographs (numbered 3-7) taken during our only previous visit to Florida’s wild places — in February, 2007, when we got our feet wet trudging through swamplands near the Gulf Coast.

All photographs © William Carter

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Written by bywilliamcarter

March 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm

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Thanks, Teddy

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Thanks for the Everglades

Having been preoccupied with other projects, I haven’t posted any new blogs for awhile. But here is a new one, signaling resumption of my blog series.

The photographs below are from our visit to the Florida Everglades  in February, 2014. With thanks to Teddy Roosevelt for having established America’s National Parks system, which preserves this and other wilderness treasures.

All photographs © William Carter 2014

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Written by bywilliamcarter

March 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Egypt Update 12/3/2013

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Text: Another dispatch from our friend and correspondent, Virginia Papadopoulo, living and teaching in Egypt.

Photographs: © William Carter 1964: Amid profound changes, has Egypt’s inner spirit survived?

Nile-(v)-2I wish I had good news for you from Cairo, but things just keep getting worse. The word is that the American School in Maadi, where I live, had  a number of students leave [see below]. Most of the U.S. Embassy families had to leave and they are closing the U.S. Consulate in Alexandria. Our school out in Sheikh Zayed did not suffer much of a loss, because most of the families are very wealthy Egyptians. Out by our school life goes on as usual – shopping malls are popping up like mushrooms, and the restaurants are open and full. The reason I left the desert [see below] after my first year was because It was not Egypt. Could have been any wealthy neighborhood I have visited in the world.

What does worry me is the incidence of attacks on fellow teachers. One wonderful Dutch couple were mugged twice in the last several months. They are now looking to leave, and they love Cairo.  Local Egyptian friends were stopped at check points  during the curfew and harassed, threatened, and taken to jail. Two teachers went through very humiliating luggage searches coming from the airport. Small incidents, but they end up being the topic of conversation. There are more demonstrations in my town, but I don’t usually go out on Friday. The town of Mohandiseen where a lot of teachers live is becoming unbearable for many because of the constant demonstrations, and they are moving out near the school and not returning next year.

I am sitting here in my apartment and there are horns blaring, gun shots, and packs of dogs barking, but it could be from a wedding — it is hard to tell.

I am not out and about at night unless with friends, and even that is pretty local. I walk to and from my bus on the same route every day and I know my neighborhood. I greet and am greeted every day and feel perfectly safe – maybe being 70 has something to do with that. Or, maybe I just want to believe everything is ok, to give me another reason to keep doing what I love so much, and to stay here.

later:

Just spoke to a colleague whose husband works at the American Embassy. She was told not to come back in September, but her husband stayed in Egypt. She had to put her three children into schools in the US, but finally returned this week. Her children go to CAC. Her words to me were, “The school had approximately 1,400 students before the first revolution, and they are down to about 900 after the 2nd revolution.” So somewhere between 1-2 hundred have not returned this year. There are several other international schools that have shut down completely, but to be fair, people are returning. Who they are I don’t know. The important thing is that these returns do not significantly improve the tourist trade—it is dying a slow death. It is absolutely the perfect time to “See Egypt” —no crowds.

When I say the desert, I am talking about an area called Sheikh Zayed, and it is in the larger area of 6 October. It is southwest of the pyramids, (which we see twice a day, and still bring tears to my eyes) and probably 25 miles out. Initially the drive was through farmland—beautiful. There were compounds near the school, but mostly sand four years ago. The view from the front of my school was truly nothing but desert. There were no restaurants in our area and only one huge grocery store to shop in a few miles from where we lived, which you had to take a taxi to. That was four years ago, and the reason why I wanted to get out of the desert and move into the life of Cairo proper. Today the sand is gone and all you see for miles and miles are huge walled compounds and shopping malls. The beautiful farmland is vanishing, and it seem the reason is because there is no control on building. I should have invested in cement and construction equipment four years ago!

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Above: Pharaoh-like statue of dictator General Gamal Nasser outside Supreme Military Headquarters, 1964: in six decades of change, does a need for strong-armed authority persist?

Written by bywilliamcarter

December 5, 2013 at 10:00 am

Dave, Mao, and Me

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Timing Can Be Everything

Politics — and photojournalism — make for unexpected relationships.

In 1956 the rulers of impoverished communist China tried something new. They suddenly announced North America was free to send its reporters into the insular nation. Wary of the gambit, the U.S. State Department refused to lift its own ban on Americans visiting this (then) arch-enemy. Canada, however, said okay. Quick to apply was David Lancashire, a bright 25-year-old working for an obscure provincial paper. After China accepted Lancashire’s application, the Associated Press, defying threatened U.S. sanctions, handed this Canadian photo-newbie a camera, wirephoto instructions, and a ticket to the insular Peoples’ Republic.

The first North American correspondent to cover the People’s Republic in the seven years since its birth in 1949, Lancashire travelled more than 5,000 miles across China in six weeks, producing a groundbreaking series of reports on life there — including a story on China’s Last Emperor, Pu Yi, living under house arrest. At Peking airport Dave gained unprecedented access to the makers of one of history’s most famous revolutions: his widely seen “radiophotos” featured Mao Tse Tung, Chou en-Lai, Indonesian ruler Sukarno, and associates (see below).

After that performance, the A.P. hired Lancashire permanently. In 1964 we met at A.P.’s Beirut bureau. Swapping stories of field assignments, Dave and I shared a strong side interest in jazz: he played trombone, and I played clarinet. We formed a little group rehearsing in one another’s living rooms, and even landed a theater gig as the pit band of a British musical comedy, The Boy Friend. Lancashire moved from Beirut to London about when I did, in 1966. Our friendship deepened over the years, and he became Best Man at Ulla Morris’ and my wedding in California in 1984.

Prior to Dave’s death in Toronto in 2007, he sent me some of his historic China negatives, which I hope to transfer to an appropriate institution. Below are highlights of his coverage of Mao, Chou & friends — followed by a photo of Pu Yi, the Last Emperor — then followed by one of us jamming in Beirut, and finally a 1985 wedding photo of best man Dave, bride Ulla, and groom Bill.

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beirut-jazzDavid Lancashire (left) and William Carter jamming in Beirut, c. 1965; unknown photographer

Lancs-CHINA-1956009Left to right: David Lancashire, Ulla Morris-Carter, and William Carter at Ulla and Bill’s wedding, San Marino, California, 1985. Photograph by Esme Gibson.

Update on this story from Les Daly, a friend and colleague of Dave Lancashire’s:
November 26, 2013

I am looking for the compliments desk and the complaint desk.

Compliments for the delightful report on our pal Dave. It really brought back a lot of good memories. Well done, my friend.
Which brings me to the complaint desk, and some memories of my own with Dave,
“a bright 25-year old working for an obscure provincial paper.”
Bright, yes. 25-year old, yes.
The “obscure provincial newspaper” was The Herald in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, which I believe was Canada’s largest city at the time, and may still be although of that I am not sure. The Herald was a feisty tabloid, one of three or four English language dailies, that gave young reporters like Dave and me a fair amount of latitude and excitement and an opportunity to learn the craft, as we would later like to think of it, from reporting right through to putting the paper to bed. It died, as did its broadsheet parent, not long after we left, although I doubt the events were related.

Why do I care?

Because Dave and I were working on the Herald together. I was a sportswriter, my first professional newspaper job. Dave was a city-side reporter. We used to hang around together, and ski together and think about girls together. Dave thought better than I did and was far more successful. Always. It might have been the trombone or the skiing, or both. Or just Dave. After he quit the paper and went back to Toronto, he called me one night (we worked nights) and said he was going to China and asked if I wanted to come with him. I told him I couldn’t do that because I am an American and we were, as you point out, still forbidden to travel there. Then, being a sportswriter and thus with limited worldly vision, I asked him, “Why are you going to China anyway?”
“Because,” he replied in his laughing way, “I like Chinese food.”
I asked him, “Can’t you get takeout?” At which point he said goodbye and hung up.

Later on I saw Dave in Beirut, where I believe I first met Ulla, and later in London after he left Beirut claiming he was tired of the Middle East where at press conferences he “was the only guy in the room without a gun.”

More relevant is that Dave and DeeDee stayed with us in Los Angeles when they came for your wedding. I saw them several times after that in Toronto when I went there on business, and followed DeeDee’s condition, and we talked often on the phone but not often enough to know what was coming for Dave. I regret that.

Anyway , you did a fine job and the photos were notable too. Thanks for bringing him back in a way.

Written by bywilliamcarter

November 21, 2013 at 10:00 am

The Kit Kat Club

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Google Announces New/Old Name for its Operating System

———————————————by William Carter————————————————————–

Every city has its seamy side. More so, perhaps, ancient Mediterranean ports long accustomed to serving a  variety of visitors — from circulating sailors, to Saudi sheiks, to sun-seekers, to sidewalk speculators.

When Google announced “KitKat” as the name for the latest version of its Android operating system, I thought both of the Nestlé candy bar and of a formerly well-known Beirut strip joint. That bustling city has always attracted a large supply of entertainers — featuring European blondes — to work at every level, from the posh Casino du Liban, on down.

The Kit Kat Club was on the waterfront not far from where I lived from 1964 to 1966. I photographed dancers there, and later in their apartments, as part of a wider magazine story — “Women of Beirut” — a multi-leveled portrait  of this tribal/sophisticated city which I never got around to finishing.

The bottom image. below, shows a larger, seamier section of town which appeared to feature brunettes.

A year later came the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, followed by Lebanon’s long, brutal internal conflicts —  but by then I was gone.

Fast forwarding 47 years, on November 6, 2013 I was heartened to note this passage by Walter Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal: “While the primary goal of KitKat was to run in a much smaller amount of memory, it has a few notable new features. The phone app now places recent and frequent callers first in its favorite call list and de-emphasizes the full list of contacts…”

photographs © William Carter 1966

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Written by bywilliamcarter

November 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

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