Paul Contino | Photographs - Photoletter 34

Paul Contino | Photographs

Photoletter Issue No. 34


Quite some time ago I fell for an Argentinian named Mafalda. A precocious six year old surviving the 60s in politically charged Latin America. Her personage and posse a counterpart to the Peanuts gang and their youthful perspective on life in the United States during a similar era.

The comic was published in various editions of small landscape books on the order of a digestible 100 pages. Starting with book 0 and ending at 10 (though I just read that the sequencing depends on the country of publication), I’ve been collecting them along various travels.

My first encounter with one of these books was most likely in Madrid, at either the Librería San Ginés (around the corner from the capitol’s most famous chocolate and churros joint), or most likely the strand of booksellers lining the pedestrian path Calle Claudio Moyano connecting La Reina Sofia, where Picasso’s Guernica is housed, to El Retiro, Madrid’s version of Central Park.

Since that initial rendezvous, I’ve serendipitously come across editions 0, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7. All in countries where, not surprisingly, Spanish is the official and dominant language.

Until yesterday.

A local cafe that specializes in affordable (by today’s prices) coffee drinks, delicious baked goods, and weekly evening jazz jam sessions by local students, additionally boasts a well-curated collection of used books. One large section adorning the wall to the right of the entrance - floor to ceiling containing cookbooks, non-fiction topics, classic literature, and religious works. A second bookshelf stationed across from the checkout station with two rows dedicated to further fiction and children’s interest. And a third small bookcase ensconced in a back room offering a selection of hardback books.

While waiting for a rooibos tea to heat up I decided to kill a moment and run my fingers along the spines of books opposite the barista bar. Wealth management, Wimpy Kid diaries, Jane Austen, and … three Mafaldas!

If you were there you’d have witnessed a silly scene with a grown man excited by three little comic strip books, unknown to the majority of Americans, this guy reacting in surprise with a glance left and right and a face of “Can you believe they have her here!”. And in Spanish, no less. All in pristine condition (one of my volumes has no front cover, and a couple of others are holding onto dear life by the seams of their binders). What are the chances!?

Anyhow … after composing myself to a more mature state … I investigated which of those volumes I already had in my possession. I found I had two of the three … but Number 9 I still needed!

So I picked her up and checked her out for a morning of tea and comic relief.

That’s my Mafalda story. Thanks for reading and welcome to Photoletter 34!


Jazz on the Palouse

Friday evening begins with a (trumpet) blast!

The Palouse Jazz Society, a collaboration between the University of Idaho and Washington State University, take center stage in downtown Pullman every month or two.

An ensemble of 20 or so college musicians (and a talented local high school pianist) come together to jam out on a mixture of jazz classics and student-created compositions.

The musical affairs are upbeat and melodic, infused with playful banter between performers to keep the vibe light - music lovers sharing what sparks joy in their lives with an appreciative audience.


A postcard depicting a winter view of the Norwegian town of Sakrisoy on the island of Lofoten

Ted Dawson, a friend from the Vermont days, recently returned from a Lofoten Winter tour to capture the aurora borealis over stunning Norwegian mountainscape. He sent a couple of postcards from this picturesque haven.

These beautiful postcards were curated by the town of Sakrisøy and proffered at a local seafood spot named Anita’s, which comes highly recommended by Ted.


Heading southward towards warmer climes we arrive in Portugal, where a pair of Gallegos (folk from Galicia in the northwest Celtic corner of Spain) were vacationing.

Their choice in sharing a postcard moment was a quintessential scene from Lisbon, one of a yellow streetcar climbing a steep cobbled incline winding through the center of the capitol. Appropriately printed on a thin slab of cork (of which Portugal is the world’s largest exporter).

Obrigado amigos … very thoughtful!

Print Shop

Images are printed and sent to you directly from the professional print company I work with. If you are interested in different size or material options (e.g. canvas, metal, acrylic) send me an email and we can discuss what may work best for you.


Reading: Solar Eclipse 2024 (and Mafalda, of course!)

Awaiting: the release of the debut novel by a relative …

Listening to: Etta James melodically belting out At Last

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