A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Jurgen Gothe, Good To The Last Drop, Eric Friesen Stammers
Tuesday, March 04, 2008

When I first came to Vancouver from Mexico some 38 years ago my knowledge of Canada was limited to having seen the totem pole in Retiro Station in Buenos Aires and the one in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. From my New Dublin, Ontario wife Rosemary I knew all about an exciting man called Pierre Trudeau. According to her the most beautiful city in Canada was Quebec City. She didn't think I could cope with the snow in those parts so we (she) decided on Vancouver for our family.

I was soon made welcome by the CBC in that my first job as a photographer was there. In that first year in Canada I had been a counter agent for Tilden Rent-Car on Alberni Street. Interesting men with longish hair and or beards came to rent blue Ford station wagons. They said they were from the CBC. They would rent them for months and money seemed to be no problem. They would stuff the wagons with all kinds of sound and TV camera equipment. I wanted a piece of that action so I made my enquiries and finally landed a job taking station ID slides for the new French TV station. From there I crossed that border that still seems to exist at the CBC from the French side to the English side. Through the years I have made lasting friends and I have been proud of whatever I did there. I am particularly thankful for having learned a lot about Canada by listening to CBC Radio or watching (not so much now as I watch very little TV) CBC TV. I was a fan of Wayne & Shuster. One of the most thrilling moments of my life was when cameraman Mike Varga took me to the trailer outside the Coliseum where a man directed all the cameras of Hockey Night In Canada. He sat in front of multiple screens and directed the show. In many ways I almost feel like I have always lived in Canada. The CBC helped me feel at home.

Part of it came from meeting the people of the CBC. I remember one day when I was driving down town and I was listening to Bob Kerr's program Off The Record. He was playing a version of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Vocalise. It featured many cellos. I stopped the car. Kerr said, "That was Rachmaninoff's Vocalise played by the Yale Cellos with Aldo Parisot conductor." I wrote it all down madly. I parked my car in a back alley (I had and have municipal plates) and bought the record at A&B Sound. I was thrilled to meet and photograph Kerr in his studio. I loved his fussy ways and his attention to detail.

I first met Jurgen Gothe in 1985 when he had just started with Disc Drive. We were in a train going to Whistler, I believe. He entertained me going and coming. I was charmed. I have been lucky to photograph him many times through the years. I have photographed him at home and met his wife and his dog. I have seen his CD collection. Gothe's address is...

I understand that his show is going to end in September. While I don't listen to him every day it is comforting to know he is there and that when I switch him on I will hear a voice with no speech impediment, lisp or mannerism. I will listen to intelligence and good English. This is rare in radio today.

For a long time I suffered a bit (but I liked the music he played and in particular the live concerts he hosted) listening to Eric Friesen. He has an attractive booming voice and perfect diction. Unfortunately he sounds a bit too serious sometimes. I remember listening to one of his former In Performance broadcasts and he was talking to a female string quartet backstage. Friesen made the mistake of asking one of them what it was like in the dressing room. The woman answered that they didn't wear much. Friesen stammered, uncharacteristically he had lost his cool! At that point I understood and began to appreciate the man and I have been a fan since. He came to Vancouver to MC a show and I met him. He did not look at all like the stuffed shirt I pictured him to be. He was tall, blonde and handsome and charming in a quiet way. I will miss him when he departs on December 31st. His "seriousness" had me fooled for a while.

CBC, here is a hint. Show the faces of those radio people more often. We will grow to like them even more.

The above photograph of Gothe ran in the Georgia Straight on March 18, 1999. Gothe wrote about his almost lifelong obsession with wine. His little essay is exactly like his radio show. It relaxes you. The world is just fine and here a sample:

...The best wine ever? I hope I haven't had it yet. The worst? Something pale and pink, made from nectarines, in a non-wine friendly area of Oregon.

And when the wine's all gone? Green tea, Red Zinger, expresso, a shot of cognac, some Aqua Libra, lots of bubbly water. And so to bed.

Once, I was driving over a mountain pass in Montana and stopped for lunch in a tiny town. Main-street bar, limited lunch menu, smell of grease, George Jones on the jukebox. I ordered the burger'n'fries and then asked - it is an obsession - "Have you got any wine?"

She said: "Yeah, but it ain't open."

So all's not all that bad in the world.


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