Monday, November 20, 2017

Pierrot le fou (1965)

Such rains yesterday! No chance of getting any yard work done, and because there is only so much reading and writing I can do, I reached into that tub of DVDs and pulled out Godard's Pierrot le Fou (1965).

Here we are early in the film, with Ferdinand/Pierrot driving home the babysitter, Marianne, in his American friend's car. Marianne is introduced to us as F/P's American friend's "niece", but it is in this scene that we learn that F/P and Marianne share a past.

Shortly after that:

Except she never "said" she didn't like talking about herself.

Nor did he, for that matter.

In fact, she never said anything.

Have to check the translation again, whether F/P used a French word meaning "feel" and Marianne used a French word meaning "like". An important distinction.

Much later in the film:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sign of the Times

This morning I walked past this sign on Glen Drive, just south of Kingsway.

What is it? Well, it's a for sale sign, erected by the realtor, Sutton Westcoast Realty, on behalf of the seller.  But not a single seller -- "land assembly" implies the sale of multiple properties, usually towards their reconfiguration into a larger, multiple dwelling development. Sellers are told they can receive more money if they band together, given that the profits from a subsequent development are greater than those achieved from the re-sale of the individual (adjacent) properties.

Below the words LAND ASSEMBLY is a text in Chinese characters. I am not sure what these characters say, but it could be a combination of "land assembly" and the English text below:

"Call for details and Call for free evaluation."

Spray painted across the Chinese characters are two black lines.

What to make of this defacement?

To me, the lines across these characters read not as a redaction of the content but an attack on what these characters signify -- those who speak and read Chinese, but specifically, those of ethnic Chinese descent. Like the assigned realtor, Melissa Wu, who, though her hair is brown, her eyes green and her skin a pinkish white, carries a surname that is, in the Pinyin transliteration of its Chinese character, the tenth most common surname in Mainland China.

Equally disturbing is the line underneath Melissa's eye, which reads to me like a bruise, the result of a punch.

I am upset by this sign. I am upset by this sign because it, too, is a punch, a punch that carries with it the injuries of class, but also violence against woman and racism. Much of what ails me about this city -- and indeed our global culture -- is present in this sign.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Polygon Gallery

Last night's opening of Polygon Gallery's N. Vancouver exhibition was overshadowed only by the opening of the gallery itself. In addition to a display of gallery mandated lens-based media works were some intriguing sculpture and weavings.

The image up top is of a work by Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill. Entitled The Highest and Best Use (2017), it is one of four works from her Four Effigies For the End of Property: Pre-empt, Improve, The Highest and Best Use, Be Long (2017) series, all of which are included in the exhibition.

Oh yes, and Slow played -- appropriately enough in a room devoted to a screening of Jeremy Shaw's Best Minds, Part 1 (2007). The band hadn't played together in over 30 years. Amazing.

Here is Slow's gear having a smoke out back during the opening's opening remarks:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Al Neil (1924-2017)

"Right now I'm working with various instruments -- toy instruments and things I've torn out of children's carousels and so on and music boxes and the strings of the piano -- anything that will distort the sound of the tempered scale into something which is possibly unholy and possibly holy because everything gives out a sound, every molecular thing gives out a sound -- a plant cries, a vegetable cries, everything cries -- there's all these sounds -- we've proved that in this age of extended consciousness ... and I'm trying to get into these sounds which we don't hear but we know are there."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Some Final Questions" (1965)

Stopped by the People's Co-op Bookstore yesterday to revel in its ever-expanding poetry section. I don't think there is a Vancouver bookstore with a bigger new-and-used poetry section than the one at the PCB.

Years ago I had a copy of Phyllis Webb's Wilson's Bowl (1980) but lost it or gave it away. In looking for it at PCB I noticed a selected that Webb did with Talon in 1982 called The Vision Tree that includes a thoughtful introduction by Sharon Thesen who, with Erin MourĂ©, are launching books at the store tonight, 7pm.

Webb's Naked Poems (1965) is well-represented in The Vision Tree. Included is her poem "Some Final Questions". In this piece, which moves from questions concerning sadness, melancholy, pain and desire, Webb finally asks (herself?) "But why don't you do something?" To which she replies (after five carriage returns) "I am trying to write a poem". Following that:


Listen. I have known beauty
let's say I came to it

And following that, on the final page:


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"Epistle to Dippy" (1967)

A strangely beautiful, at-times disturbing lyric. Equal parts Lewis Carroll, Ezra Pound, Diane Wakoski and bill bissett, with some brilliant syllabic footwork (mehhhhhhhhhh-di-tat-ing rho-do-den-dron for-est).


Look on yonder misty mountain
See the young monk meditating rhododendron forest
Over dusty years, I ask you
What's it been like being you?

Through all levels you've been changing
Getting a little bit better, no doubt
The doctor bit was so far out
Looking through crystal spectacles
I can see I had your fun

Doing us paperback reader
Made the teacher suspicious about insanity
Fingers always touching girl

Through all levels you've been changing
Getting a little bit better, no doubt
The doctor bit was so far out
Looking through all kinds of windows
I can see I had your fun
Looking through all kinds of windows
I can see I had your fun

Looking through crystal spectacles
I can see I had your fun
Looking through crystal spectacles
I can see I had your fun

Rebel against society
Such a tiny speculating whether to be a hip or
Skip along quite merrily

Through all levels you've been changing
Elevator in the brain hotel
Broken down but just as well-a
Looking through crystal spectacles, ah
I can see I had your fun

Dum dum dum, dum dum, dum dum dum
Dum dum dum, dum dum, dum dum dum
Dum dum dum, dum dum, dum dum dum
Dum dum dum, dum dum, dum dum dum
Dum dum dum, dum dum, dum dum dum

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

American Foreign Policy

I don't know how many times I have heard the meeting of U.S. American Bob Dylan and Scotland's Donovan Leitch referred to as a "showdown," but a glance online has it in abundance and perpetuated of course by posts like this one.

In Don't Look Back (1967), D.A. Pennebaker's documentary film on Dylan's 1965 tour of England, we see the singer-songwriters sharing songs in a hotel room. Donovan sings "To Sing For You" (1965), while Dylan follows with "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (1965).

For those watching, the meeting seems friendly enough (Donovan initiated the song sharing to defray tensions over an argument between Dylan and a guest who threw a beer bottle out the window), but many continue to describe the event in adversarial terms, with Donovan challenging Dylan and the latter's song "trumping" the former's.