Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Palace of the Legion of Honor

Madame Le Chef and I usually visit the beautifully situated Palace of the Legion of Honor on weekends. We never fail to see at least one wedding party having their pictures taken with the museum as the backdrop. We visited the Palace the day after Thanksgiving to see "Japanesque", a wonderful show of nineteenth century Japanese  prints and the Impressionist prints that they influenced. Perhaps because it's the start of the holidays and wintery there were no wedding parties, but our expectations were not disappointed because there was a fashion shoot with a cold looking model.

At last, some warmth.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Animals of all types

I've found a photo where the little girl with the monkey on her head looks happier (the monkey hasn't budged).

Monkeys were not the only pets in the village.

When the bureau chef was a kid, back in the Pleistocene Era, itinerant photographers used to come around to neighborhoods with a pony and child-sized cowboy outfits in hopes of convincing parents to pay for having their darling child photographed looking like a pint-sized Roy Rogers.

Below is the Ecuadorian version, circa 1979, except with a mariachi theme and a wooden pony. I find this creature's painted eye disturbing.

The chief and some fellow travelers walked by this stand just as the butcher had hung the pig up. He had a knife and a stack of plastic bags and a line was forming. We went off for beers (SOP) and when we walked by again, maybe 45minutes later, all that was left on the hook was the head. Unfortunately I did not take an "after" picture.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Cockfight

As bureau chief I must apologize to my faithful readers for taking so long between posts. I just didn't have anything I wanted to comment on. But now the second set of negatives and slides from my 1979 trip to Ecuador has traveled to Bangalore and back, by way of Burlingame, and I have the scans from them in hand. I realize now that I lucked out with the technician who scanned my first set of photos. He or she was an artist. This time I got a journeyman although, in her or his defense, a lot of these photos were more marginal in terms of exposure than in the first batch.

Cockfighting was legal in Ecuador in 1979 and I think still is. These photos were taken in a small cockfighting arena in the jungle town of Puyo. The owners show their birds before a match so the crowd can decide which one to bet on.

The birds wear sharp metal spikes over their natural spurs.

The handlers exploit a genetic tendency of gamecocks to become extremely aggressive just at the sight of other males.

When the fight begins the birds meet in a blur of beating wings, pecking beaks and kicking feet. They actually rise a foot or two above the dirt but can only sustain this level of activity for about a minute. If neither bird has mortally wounded the other they settle into a avian Sumo match where they circle, facing each other and trying to get their head under their opponent's wing so that they can flip him onto the dirt and finish him. This can go on for tens of minutes as they weaken from their wounds. Finally one prevails.

An owner with his losing bird. Hardly any of them recover so it's most likely the stew pot.

Much more direct and human-scale than OTB.