Having visited quite a few botanic gardens at this point in my life I can say that the Botanic Garden of São Paulo is one of the "wilder" parks I have been to. Due to its location next to the São Paulo Zoo and it being situated on the edge of the city where the urban part of São Paulo starts to enter into a more improvised organization interspersed with large swaths of semi wild Atlantic Rain Forrest the botanic garden sort of melds right into that surrounding greenscape and therefore contains a quite a bit of local wildlife and a more rough around the edges feel and look.
The surf world, and especially the San Fernando Valley surf world, lost a true legend this July, Glen Kennedy.
I got to know Glen like so many others. I was just a Valley kid bit by the surf bug early on and there happened to be a shop in my neighborhood, but little did I know how lucky I would be to have that shop in my neighborhood, Kennedy Surfboards. I don’t remember when I first walked into Glen's shop but I did know that I had stumbled onto something special when after visiting over the years I started to feel like I was part of the family, and I didn’t have to prove that I was anybody special. Glen and his son Lee let me into their world of surf, stoke, and extended family. Now as a grown man living far away from my hometown and the shop, I realize again just how lucky I was.
I was lucky again in 2007 when I had just finally eeked out a bachelors degree and when I decided that I would take up Glen on one of his offers to come stay with him in his second home of Margaret River West Australia. Back then I was young and hungry for adventure, and I thought Glen had to be joking when he said that I could come stay with him out there whenever I wanted. When I realized that this humble man, this legend in my eyes, was serious, I had to go. So I flew out there to meet Glen just as the southern hemisphere winter was beginning to rumble and when I showed up at the bus station in Margarets, Glen was there to pick me up. The first thing we did was go straight to the local reef for a late afternoon surf. I had heard of some recent shark activity so I was not about to just run out into this people-less lineup with the setting sun, but sure enough, Glen with his calmness and reassuring demeanor, thought it would be all good, and he said that we just had to get wet. From that point on throughout the next 4 weeks as I stayed there with him, I got to know GK; the man, the shaper, the surfer, the fisherman, and the kind and easy going human we all came to love.
GK charged open ocean swells out there while I was just trying to keep up, and keep down my nerves. The waves were big, but to Glen that’s just the way the waves are out there and he surfed them like he did most things in life; with grace and courage and style. Fortunately for me, he had a stash of big wave boards there under his house that I could sometimes borrow, seeing as the biggest board I brought was a 6’8”.
Needless to say that I had the trip of a lifetime, and when I came back to the Valley I was forever changed and forever awed by the presence of GK. I got to know the Kennedy's more over the years and as us young men all started to grow up and shift around the world, the shop and GK were still there. We went in for a new pair of booties or for the latest Surfers Journal, yes, but really we went in there to enter into a little world beside the pink building on Ventura Blvd. that seemed oblivious to the time outside. Glen would often have smoked fish that he made at home after one of his off shore trips to catch big tuna. And he would offer it to just about anybody who came into the shop, along with a cold beer and a warm smile. And that’s why so many of us kept going back. To have a connection in this increasingly crazy world, and to hear stories from Glen and Lee, or whoever else was in there, sharing their latest journey. Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, some big Tuna off the coast of San Diego, the Lobsters, the local channel islands, the recent run of swell up the coast, the golf game, the grandkids… life, our little universe.
I miss you a lot already GK. Thanks for everything you did for so many of us, for always being kind and generous, for the beautiful 7’2” that you shaped for me after our trip to WA when I realized that I didn’t actually have a proper big wave board, a board that I will carry with me forever. And for all the smoked fish and cold beer. And most importantly for showing us all how to live like an honest man, for setting the example. I always thought that it was kind of ironic that one of the most hardcore surfer, shaper, and waterman that you could find was our own GK, from right there in the Valley.
Walking around my new city of São Paulo I find art everywhere. The architecture, the graffiti, the people, the way the city is organized, and the actual "art" found in the many cultural institutions spread throughout the city.
Pictured above is some of that art recently encountered on my many walks taken on my way to work or just for pleasure. There is some street art encountered while walking to a gallery in Morumbi. The front page of the Folha de São Paulo describing how the exhibition of one of Brazil's most cherished native painters, Tarsila do Amaral, is drawing record crowds to the MASP, and an actual image of those crowds gathering for that show before it soon closes. Also, an overview shot of the Avenida Paulista (where most of the best cultural institutions are located in SP) taken from the mirador at the SESC Paulista, which is now displaying a very cool show focused on one of the mos famous projects of the most famous Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. A post to come on that soon following this one.
And a very cool building, called 360 degrees (Edificio Trezentos Sesenta Graus), near my home that was designed and built by architect Isay Weinfeld.
Getting back into the film groove I wanted to try and use my Holga camera that I have had for many years, so I brought it with me to Rio in May for my first visit to that famous city by the sea. I was there for the National Association of Interpretation'sInternational Conference, more on that later, and as part of the conference I was able to attend a couple of field trips to the natural and protected areas around Rio. I brought my modified Holga with me on those trips. I had modified the cheap plastic camera to shoot 35mm film in a camera made to shoot 120 or medium format film. It is made possible by adding a couple of custom pieces (that I bought from randy at Holgamods) that hold the 35mm film canister in place. This allows you to expose the entire film width, including the area around the sprockets, and allowing for a sort of panoramic capture as well. However, like any shot with a Holga you have to guess the exposure and with this particular set up you also have to count the number of clicks or turns of the film knob in order to advance the film and expose the shots evenly.
This was my first time using the Holga in many years, and the first time with this 35mm adapter in place. The results were not groundbreaking in any way but I would give it another try one day for sure.
I visited the Serra dos Órgãos National Park in Teresópolis as well as the Urca Hill and Pão de Açucar in Rio.
How fortunate I am to be living in a city with an institution that provides a free museum and photographic library for free, free! The IMS Paulista is that place, and I have been visiting it frequently now that I am based in São Paulo Brazil. Located on the famous Paulista stretch in the always something happening part of the city is where this place can be found. And even more fortuitous has been that the current exposition up now is a truly fascinating one full of amazing black and white silver prints along side some classic infrared color images of the Amazon.
The show, A Luta Yanomami (The Yanomami Struggle) by photographer Clauida Andujar, is displayed on two floors showcasing the artists work in the 70's and 80's when she was working on projects documenting the tribe for magazines working with health advocates and missionaries to gain access. The images are some of the only ones I have seen from that time period and today that seem to be taken with the tribe and not of them. Claudia talks about her work throughout the show on panels besides the images, about gaining trust slowly, and being invited to witness hunts and ceremonial dances, and one of the more interesting stories is about the time when she contacted Malaria and had to spend a year back in her São Paulo apartment. However, she took the time to learn more about the Yanomami culture and experiment with low light situations where she could test out exposure and developing techniques before returning to work with the tribe many more times.
Her work is being shown at a time when indigenous peoples all around the world are fighting to preserve their lands and keep their traditions and languages alive. Even here in Brazil with the well known indigenous rights government agency FUNAI set up to protect the tribes, there is new political and populist agricultural interests cutting away at the power of FUNAI and its ability to protect the tribes. The biggest threat to their sovereignty is the approach of armed 'wildcat' loggers looking to lop off the lands inside the reserves to sell to farmers. In this Reuters article you see some powerful images and can read a recent report about a recent standoff inside of a tribal reserve that had armed warriors with their poison tipped arrows pointed at armed intruders. The intruders left, but have vowed to return, and under the ascent of President Bolsanaro and his remarks, rural peoples have become emboldened to strike deeper into the reserves seeking to exploit the natural resources there.
The fight to maintain indigenous lands and the people who have cared for them in a symbiotic way for thousands of years is ongoing, but necessary. As I once heard my favorite film maker Werner Herzog remark, that so many people speak of the loss of whales and species, but what about the languages, and the cultures that everyday we are loosing?