Saturday, October 24, 2020

Provincial Election

Election day in Canada's colonial province of British Columbia. Currently, the Liberal Party has 43 seats, the New Democratic Party has 41 seats and the Green Party has 3 seats. The NDP/Green coalition has held power for the past three years, but the NDP are tired of it. 

As expected, a debate between the three parties was arranged. But rather than breeze through it, the NDP leader, on the question of "white privilege", claimed "colour blindness", while the Liberal leader, who is a medical doctor, boasted of having babies named after him in some of northern B.C.'s Indigenous communities (nations). For her part, the Green leader led off with an equally frightening line -- "All people are not equal" -- but quickly qualified it by acknowledging systemic racism and what steps need to be taken to dismantle it.

Tone is everything at a time of extremes, and the B.C. Green leader's tone was, in contrast to her barking male counterparts, slow, soft and steady. Just how many votes her debate performance will earn her party will not be decided by tonight's vote but by the 478, 000 ballots cast through the mails (B.C.'s total population is 5.071 million). A pencil sketch, with colours to come. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Grease Lightning


Last week it was the Copa Cafe on Cambie. Yesterday it was Frenchies on Main. Covid has wreaked havoc on restaurants. I'm surprised more of them aren't catching fire. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020


 This is the ERA we are living in.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Poem by Bertolt Brecht (H.R. Hays, trans.)

The Mask of Evil

On my wall hangs a Japanese carving.
The mask of an evil demon, decorated with gold lacquer.
Sympathetically, I observe
The swollen veins of the forehead, indicating
What a strain it is to be evil.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Anti-Immigrant Bear Suspected in Killing of Saanich llama

Don't let the sad eyes fool you -- this bear is believed to be a cold-blooded killer! Officials insist it has lost its fear of humans and will return -- to potentially kill again!

Monday, October 19, 2020


Haircut for Stan’s Birthday


Elizabeth arrives

the girls behind her

they enter the kitchen

Stephen behind them -- “Michael,”

he says, “you look like Himmler!”

all whites look like Nazis now

Sunday, October 18, 2020


Last week I went to the pharmacy at the northeast corner of 1st and Commercial to get my flu shot. I was given a slip of paper and told, "Here's the address. You have to book online now." I thanked the clerk and left the shop.

"No!" I was told back at the house. "There's a pharmacy at Fraser and King Ed, next to Lee's, that does walk-ins." So off I walked to Fraser.

Funny all the signage on Fraser Street, instructions on how to wait before entering buildings. The one up top caught my eye: 2 metres is not 6 feet, nor are they 11 inches (the length of the paper these numbers are printed on). But that's just me being literal.

More than ever people reserve the right to take things literally, if only to vent. In 2006, Canadian Art sent a Canadian art critic to Antwerp to review a show of Canadian artists and, not surprisingly given the Belgian's acceptance of complex emotions, the critic's rage cleared customs.

What followed was a critique that began with the customs officials and only amplified once the critic was met by the exhibition curator who, sensing the critic's indisposition towards the art and its artists, toured him through the show in a manner most facetious. The critic's response was to take the curator at his word, as in literally. The result was a piece of writing that had more in common with the petulance of the critic (and the curator) than an assessment of the exhibition on the terms it set out for itself.

Last week it was announced that the critic has been missing since Monday. I admit, when I first heard the news I did not take it seriously. For here is someone who is as fond of pushing borders as he is of maintaining them. For example, in 1998 the critic crossed the doctor-patient line when he and his psychiatrist began a two-year affair, only to publish an article about it once the relationship ended. An example of border maintenance can be summed up in a line from the critic's Canadian Art review, where, in assessing the work of an artist who uses garbage not as an example of waste but of excess, declared: "Garbage is garbage." 

But now, with the critic missing for more than a week, I am taking the news literally. I am concerned about him and I ashamed of my initial reaction. I continue to google his name, clicking optimistically, yet with overtones of dread. It was trouble that led this person to a psychiatrist, that led him to write about their affair, and it was trouble that seasoned much of his criticism. More and more we are surrounded by trouble, infected by it. Literally.