Saturday, April 30, 2011

The opening of William Gaddis's Carpenter's Gothic (1985):

The bird, a pigeon was it? or a dove? (she'd found there were doves here) flew through the air, its colour lost in what light remained. It might have been the wad of rag she'd taken it for at first glance, flung at the smallest of boys out there wiping mud from his cheek where it hit him...

Friday, April 29, 2011

A small room above a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

This morning I awoke to a crack in the window. I stared at it long enough, wondering what happened.

After breakfast I stepped outside, still in my dressing gown, to see if I could make sense of the crack from another perspective. There between my feet was a dead thrush. A bird did this, I said to myself. As if the window had nothing to do with it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An overtime goal!
The hometown crowd takes a breath
Sore throats tomorrow

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Less than a hundred metres from the Helen Pitt Gallery is Rogers Arena, site of tonight’s showdown between Vancouver’s National Hockey League team and last year’s playoff champs, Chicago. This will be the final and deciding game in a best-of-seven first round playoff series, with the winner advancing to the second round, with two more rounds after that before the league championship is once again decided.

There are many stories attached to this series, a number of which began when the two teams met in the playoffs in 2009, then last year, with Chicago winning both series four games to two. This year, the league-leading Vancouver team was up three games before losing three in a row, adding a tension to the city as palpable as cream is to a coffee.

Whatever happens tonight I expect some form of public catharsis, be it an overturned car, a smashed storefront, or a cop pushing someone to the ground. Back in 1994, when the Vancouver team lost the final game of the playoffs, Robson Street erupted, an event that found its way into a single-channel video installation by Vancouver artist Roy Arden.

Supernatural (2005) is notable not only for its use of CBC footage, and the content therein, but Arden's decisions on when to enter and exit that content, and how long to hold onto the intervening black spaces he provides between clips. More than a reading, Arden's piece is a compelling mix of redaction, monochrome and collage.

As curious as I am to see what happens tonight, I will not be entering the fray, having made plans to dine with someone for whom hockey is, as he put it, “a game of increasingly high velocity in which death during play is inevitable – and who wants to patronize that?”

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Rolling Stones Trilogy: An Inadvertent Opera in Three Acts, at Once is now down from the Waldorf's Hideaway room and will be remounted (from projections to monitors) this Wednesday through Saturday at the Helen Pitt Gallery, 15 East Pender. Saturday will also mark the launch of two related publications, Free Concert and Rock Lore: Acts of Persuasion and Perversion, co-published with Publication Studio Vancouver.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Saturday, April 23, 2011

A light standard at the northeast corner of 19th Avenue and Inverness Street. Attached to it, about five feet up, a sheet of A4 paper held in place by 2" wide pieces of transparent tape; a piece at the top and a piece at the bottom. Near the top, boxed and in bold caps: MARTIN HANDY MAN. Below that, unboxed and in slightly smaller print: YOUR FAVORITE NEIGHBOUR (the word "Windsor" in parentheses, with something following that, torn away).

MARTIN promises "Basic home repairs," which include "(tiling, basic plumbing, locksets)/ Good woodworking/ Furniture repair/ Space organization/ Scraping, patching, sanding, painting/ Gardening (weeding, triming [sic], planting)/ Help packing/ unpacking, loading, unloading." MARTIN also has "Construction & renovation experience/ Genera (sic) labour work/ Etc."

Despite the date, MARTIN tells us "It's summer: if you need a hand, let me know....I have the tools." MARTIN also has "solid references + [is] Super reliable." He offers "Free estimates ($20 X hr.)."

"Always happy, friendly and clean."

And below that: "Cell: 604 789 8586/"

Spanish speakers I know use the word "ambientes" to refer to what English speakers call the "environment".

The Spanish pronunciation of MARTIN is Mar-TEEN.

Friday, April 22, 2011

According to Wikipedia, XXX may refer to:

*The number 30 in Roman numerals

Especially applied to:

A year AD or Olympiad (or, by extension, another sporting event) - as in

The year 30 AD

Games of the XXX Olympiad, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England

Super Bowl XXX, held on January 28, 1996

*A mark indicating "extra strong"

Especially applied to:

Alcoholic beverages

Traditionally applied by brewers to barrels of full-strength beer

A designation for an alcohol concentration in moonshine, sometimes used as a generic depiction of distilled spirits


An identifier for pornography, especially X-rated movies

.xxx, an approved top-level domain intended as a voluntary option for sexually explicit sites on the Internet

Mommy XXX, a porn reality show featuring Demi Delia

Other items, products supposed to be especially strong or effective

A brand of laundry soap in India

*A warning or danger signal

As in

An indication of urgency in radio communication, less urgent than SOS

In computer programming, XXX is a comment to warn other programmers of problematic or misleading code

xxx (usually lower case), as often used at the bottom of affectionate letters or emails

Three kisses, three loving words I love you (each denoted by an x, often used with 'o' to mean a hug: e.g. xox, oxo).

The number 666 in Pythagorean numerology

*And also:

XXX, a 2002 action film starring Vin Diesel

XXX: State of the Union, the 2005 sequel starring Ice Cube

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, the 2011 sequel of xXx starring Vin Diesel

XXX (album), a 1999 album by the rock band ZZ Top

XXX: Exklusibong, Explosibong, Exposé, a Philippine current affairs television show

XXX, the ISO 4217 currency code for "no currency" e-print archive, formerly known as

XXX Cantos, a poem by Ezra Pound

A symbol of the straight edge lifestyle

A shortened version of "XXXL", a plus size clothing size

A reference to Amsterdam, after the three crosses on the Coat of arms of Amsterdam

A flavor of Vitamin Water

Agent XXX, the code name for Anya Amasova, a fictional character in the James Bond franchise

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Despite efforts by the City of Vancouver and community groups, the Fantasy Factory at Kingsway and Fraser remains open for business, pending the outcome of their latest appeal. Although I have no problem with people exploring their sexuality at the retail level, I did object to the store’s use of sexist material in their windows and am thankful they removed those objects from public view.

Apart from the glowing XXX sign, the store’s only other source of onsite advertising is a changeable letter sign that runs along the south end of the building. For the past three months this sign has read HUGE ADULT TOY SALE, and I have thought nothing of it.

Last week, while travelling west with one of our city’s more senior artists, I had occasion to pass Fantasy Factory, and the artist, who is by nature a quiet person and had said little since I picked her up five minutes before, recited the sign like a child who had just learned to read. I was about to fill her in on the controversy, when suddenly she turned to me and shouted, “Ouch!”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From Walter Benjamin's 1928 essay "One-Way Street":

The "unclouded," "innocent" eye has become a lie, perhaps the whole naive mode of expression sheer incompetence. Today the most real, the mercantile gaze into the heart of things is the advertisement. It abolishes the space where contemplation moved and all but hits us in the eye with things as a car, growing to gigantic proportions, careens at us out of a film screen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This paper was first presented at an international Islamic conference on terrorism held in Geneva in June 1987. It was published in the journal of Islamic thought Al-Tawhid Vol 5, No.1, 1987 and reproduced with due acknowledgement by JUST Response on July 25 2002. Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri is Director of the international relations department of the Islamic Propagation Organization.

"Towards a Definition of Terrorism"

Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri argues that acts of terrorism are linked with inhuman and corrupt objectives in a wider sense than has generally been admitted in the West and that they include the violation of rights which are acknowledged by religion and mankind.

Resolution 20/5-P (1.5) of the Fifth Islamic Summit supported the idea of an international conference to be convened under the aegis of the United Nations in order to discuss the subject of international terrorism and to differentiate it from the struggle of peoples for their acknowledged national causes and the liberation of their territories.

This means that we should, at this meeting, take into consideration the following steps:
(i) To refer, first of all, to Islamic sources in order to set the major criteria, to identify the principles according to which human aims and actions are to be assessed, and to make such principles the basis of our judgement in the various cases.
(ii) To examine genuine human nature unblemished by any considerations of narrow interests, in order to identify human rules that can be put forth at the international level as a general human criterion. For this purpose, the results of our studies must cover the various fields of the international scene and constitute a general action framework.
(iii) From these Islamic and human principles, we deduce a general comprehensive and exclusive definition, i.e. encompassing all the real attributes of terrorism and excluding the alleged criteria of terrorism which cannot be treated as such by lofty principles.
(iv) Then, we should apply the criteria set forth to all the national and international instances of alleged terrorism. We should examine each of them closely in the light of the results, then put forward an appropriate and precise judgement which is free from any ambiguity or connivance and to confer on each act its true adjective.
In the light of this introduction, we shall confine our study to the following points:

First Point:
It goes without saying that every international bloc, every State or indeed every community has enemies and opponents that seek to eliminate it, and, as the conflict becomes violent, each party tries to undermine the reputation of the other by attributing to it repulsive epithets, such as "anarchist", "criminal", "outlaw", "inhuman", "terrorist", and the like.

We may even find that each of the two parties indulges in such allegations in order to carry out a plan which involves the deprival of the other party of its rights on the pretext of collaborating with the enemy or plotting against lawful interests.
To materialize this process, each party uses its international influence in order to win other parties over to its side either in action or in terms of support in international forums. The issue thus assumes a public character and the victory in a case is a matter of pressure, influence and the power of persuasion rather than a matter of sound logic.

Accordingly, feelings are influenced and sentiments are exploited for the implementation of such plans motivated by self-interest, under the banner of "anti-terrorism" for instance. To be sure, terrorism is humanly reprehensible (if we disregard its motives and objectives), and no one in his senses would accept any threat to human dignity, freedom, property, honour, security, work, etc. This feeling is instinctive, genuine and incontestable.

Second Point:
If we consider the meaning of the word "terrorism" on the one hand, and its fallout and traces left on human life on the other, we note that terrorism may be carried out on different levels. There is a terrorism which threatens security, honour, property and the like; there is a cultural terrorism which tears human identity apart, and leads to the abyss of perdition and aimlessness; there is an information terrorism which deprives man of his freedom to breathe in an unpolluted atmosphere. We can cite other types of terrorism such as economic terrorism, scientific terrorism, diplomatic terrorism, military terrorism, etc.

There exists, however, a division based on the type of perpetrators, which must be taken into account. It is the division into official and unofficial terrorism. Official terrorism - which is the more dangerous - consists of all acts that are supported by an internationally recognized quarter or State, whether by the army of that State or individual elements or in the form of an operation for the benefit of the said quarter. Opposing this type of terrorism is unofficial terrorism.

Third Point:
We may focus, in any act or conduct, on two determining factors:
1. The motives of the perpetrator.
2. The human acceptability of the act itself.
These are not inseparable aspects. The personal motives of the perpetrator may look humane to him but not so to the public. Conversely, the perpetrator may have no human purpose in mind or may indeed have a purpose that he perceives to be inhumane but is considered from the public point of view to be a humane act.
Therefore, viewpoints may differ in the judgement whether such an act is good or evil (usuli jurisprudents have done a great deal of valuable research on the rational basis of differentiating between good and evil deeds, but this is not the place to go into it). What must be stated here is that neither of the factors, taken separately, is sufficient to determine the acceptability or the reprehensibility of an act or to judge such an act positively or negatively. A positive assessment in regard to both factors must be carried out in order to judge and act.
Consequently, we have to ensure objectivity in our investigation in order to find a criterion for identifying the acceptability and humanity of an act from the standpoints of both Islam and mankind in general.

As regards the Islamic standpoint, we have to refer to the principles, concepts and judgements which relate to the question of terrorism - in its literal sense - to give a general definition of condemnable terrorism, i.e. the terrorism that is rejected by Islam as contrary to the process of the human being's perfection determined by God Almighty for mankind through human nature and prescribed through revelation.
When referring to Islamic teachings, we find that Islam is very rich in this field, and we notice that Islamic jurists have delved into the various aspects that relate to the subject.

We have the judgements on al-baghy, i.e. armed revolt by a group against a just and legitimate government, intimidation of the general public, and pursuit of divisive political goals that damage national unity.

We also have the judgements on al-harabah, which is defined as "the use of weapons, on land or sea, by day or night, to intimidate people, in a city or elsewhere, by a male or female, strong or weak." God Almighty declares in the Qur'an:
This is the recompense of those who fight against God and His Messenger, and spread corruption in the land. they shall be put to death, or crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the next awaits them a mighty chastisement (5:33)

As may be noticed, the verse mentions the subject and the purpose, namely war against society and spreading of corruption in the land. It has also mentioned the severe punishment to be dealt out to the perpetrators, which points to Islam's concern for the subject.

There are also the laws about theft and murder which can be mentioned in this regard. Likewise, we come across in Islamic texts terms which relate to the matter at hand, such as homicide (al-fatk), deceit (al-ghilah), and seditious conspiracy (al-'i'timar). There are also texts which stipulate utmost respect for covenants and treaties even if it is discovered later that they favour the other party. As long as he adheres to their provisions, these must be observed.

Furthermore, we have the requirements of the Islamic ethical system which consists of concepts unknown to positive law yet are deeply-rooted in this system. Lying may, for instance, reach the degree of a major sin and so may calumny. We thus find that Islam seeks earnestly to protect all kinds of true human freedoms, and to defend the dignity of the individual and society, as well as the cohesion of society and integrity of the family, considering any attack on them to be an atrocious crime liable to the sternest punishment which may go as far as execution, crucifixion and the like.

Islam upholds the principle of personal responsibility and considers any attack on innocent people as a major crime. It focuses on the defence of the weak, the humble and the oppressed and enjoins jihad for their protection:
And why should you not fight for the cause of Allah, and for the helpless old men and women.... (4:75)
The Muslim is required to always stand up for the oppressed until they get their rights. Imam 'Ali (A) gave this advice to his two sons:
Be opponents of the oppressor and defenders of the oppressed.
He also said:
To me the lowly are noble until I get their rights for them, and the powerful are weak until I get such rights from them.
Perhaps the mention in the Holy Qur'an of the blessing of security "And hath made them safe from fear" (106:4) is the best proof of the importance it attaches to security.
However, it would take too long to elaborate on all the related matters. Nevertheless we wish to state that the first criterion for identifying humaneness is the intention of the perpetrator and the general acceptability of his act is Din with all its spirit, laws and concepts.

Turning our attention to the second framework, namely the general human framework, we can accept those principles that are unanimously respected by mankind as represented by its official organs, its popular organizations, its conscience and sentiments, as another set of criteria to determine the presence of humaneness or its opposite in the intention of the perpetrator, and of the above-mentioned general acceptability (although we believe the two criteria to be mostly overlapping).

As an example of the foregoing, we may notice the present unanimity of mankind in considering the following as inhuman:
prostitution and the disintegration of family relationships;
narcotics and the disintegration of individual's rational personality;
colonialism and the undermining of peoples' dignity and plundering of their resources;
racism and the disintegration of human brotherhood;
violation of all recognized rights and the breaking of covenants:
bombardment of populated areas, use of chemical weapons. attacks on civil aviation, national railways, commercial and tourist vessels, and similar methods which are universally condemned in war.

There is no divergence whatsoever as regards the anti-human nature of the above instances. Therefore, these and similar violations suggest the acceptable criteria which should form the basis of our definition, and any act to eliminate and oppose them is a human act which must be supported if itself not accompanied by violation of other human values.

Fourth Point: Definition of Terrorism
In the light of the above, we can arrive at a comprehensive definition of terrorist acts, a definition which is unanimously acceptable and on which we can base our positions. Yet before putting forth our suggested definition, we may recall that we should note therein the following elements:
intimidation and violation of security of any kind;
presence of inhuman intention and motive;
unacceptability of the end and purpose and the act itself by humanity.

Accordingly, our definition may be as follows:
Terrorism is an act carried out to achieve an inhuman and corrupt (mufsid) objective, and involving threat to security of any kind, and violation of rights acknowledged by religion and mankind.

For the sake of clarity, we may add the following points:
1. We have used the term 'human' instead of 'international' for the sake of wider consensus, official or otherwise, so as to emphasize the general human character of the statement.
2. We have introduced the epithet 'corrupt' (mufsid) to connote the attribute accompanying inhuman objectives, i.e. the spreading of corruption in the land, and to include the imperative to avoid such objectives.
3. We have referred to various types of terrorism with the phrase; "security of any kind".
4. We have mentioned the two criteria, i.e. religious and human, first to be consistent with our belief and then to generalize the criterion.
5. As may be noticed, the fact that an operation is violent does not constitute a condition for considering it a case of terrorism.

In the light of the above definition, we shall be able to ascertain the nature of one act or another and determine whether it is a case of terrorism. We shall confirm that the definition does not apply to the following:
a. acts of national resistance exercised against occupying forces, colonizers and usurpers;
b. resistance of peoples against cliques imposed on them by the force of arms;
c. rejection of dictatorships and other forms of despotism and efforts to undermine their institutions;
d. resistance against racial discrimination and attacks on the latter's strongholds;
e. retaliation against any aggression if there is no other alternative.

Similarly, the definition does not apply to any democratic action unaccompanied by terrorism even if it does not have a humane objective. Nor does it apply to individual destructive acts if they have no social effects.

The above definition, however, does apply to the following:
a. acts of piracy on land, air and sea;
b. all colonialist operations including wars and military expeditions;
c. all dictatorial acts against peoples and all forms of protection of dictatorships, not to mention their imposition on nations;
d. all military methods contrary to human practice, such as the use of chemical weapons, the shelling of civilian populated areas, the blowing up of homes, the displacement of civilians, etc.;
e. all types of pollution of geographical, cultural and informational environment. Indeed, intellectual terrorism may be one of the most dangerous types of terrorism;
f. all moves that undermine adversely affect the condition of international or national economy, adversely affect the condition of the poor and the deprived, deepen up nations with the shackles of socio-economic gaps, and chain up nations with the shackles of exorbitant debts;
g. all conspiratorial acts aimed at crushing the determination of nations for liberation and independence, and imposing disgraceful pacts on them.
The list of examples that fit in with the suggested definition is almost endless.

Fifth Point:
Although many meetings have been held and many attempts made to combat terrorism, they have generally failed because of the following reasons:
- They were not based on international human considerations but were aimed primarily at achieving narrow interests.
- They did not deal with the circumstances that generate terrorism, nor did they seek the real motives of terrorism. It is indeed comical that the United States of America, which is the mother of international terrorism, and the author of all the circumstances of oppression and subjection of peoples, by strengthening dictatorial regimes and supporting occupation of territories and savage attacks on civilian areas, etc. should seek to convene symposia on combating "terrorism", i.e. any act that conflicts with its imperialist interests.

Killing a person in a forest is an unforgivable sin,
But the massacre of a peaceful nation is a debatable question.
At any rate, the real cure of terrorism - acts of individual terrorism in particular - consists, in our view, in removing the conditions that have brought it about.

Islam, in its treatment of all cases of deviation, strongly stresses this aspect. It seeks first to reform the social atmosphere and eliminate all inducements to crime. It also emphasizes self-restraint through education of the innermost soul and through giving the latter a unique human mould that causes it to spontaneously shun any transgression of prescribed human norms and rules by the Shari'ah. In addition, Islam does not omit to lay down a comprehensive, realistic and flexible code of sanctions that deals with facts according to their social effects.

Going back to our current reality, we must seek the prevalence of a just system and prevent aggression and encroachment upon other peoples' rights. Under such circumstances when a person allows himself to be induced to commit terrorism or aggression, the whole of mankind will stand up against him. If, however, we fail to fulfil this standard, all our treatments will be local and palliative; though they may alleviate pain, they will not eradicate the cause of the disease.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The opening line of William Carlos Williams's "Jacataqua" chapter, from his impressionistic In the American Grain (1956):

"Terror enlarges the object, as does joy."

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Friday, April 15, 2011

According to Wikipedia:

"The Tomahawk is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile. Introduced by General Dynamics in the 1970s, it was designed as a medium- to long-range, low-altitude missile that could be launched from a surface platform or a submerged submarine. It has been improved several times and, by way of corporate divestitures and acquisitions, is now made by Raytheon. Some Tomahawks were also manufactured by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security)."

According to

The average unit price of a Tomahawk missile is $600,000.

According to Wikipedia:

"During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, more than 725 tomahawk missiles were fired to key Iraqi targets."

According to my calculator, that is 435 million dollars in missiles.

According to Siewierska's book Functional Grammar, the proper usage is "fired at," not "fired to."

According to Wikipedia, these were "key" targets.

According to definition 3.a in the Free Dictionary by Farlax, "key" means "A vital, crucial element."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The fado below was recorded by Amalia Rodrigues.


Fado was born on a day
When the wind barely stirred
And the seas elongated the skies.
On the main rail of a sailing ship
In the chest of a seaman
While sorrowful he sang.
While sorrowful he sang.

Oh, what imense beauty,
My land, my hill, my valley
Of golden leaves, flowers and fruits
Do you see lands of Spain,
Sands of Portugal,
Vision blinded by tears.

In the mouth of a seaman
In the fragile sailing ship
The hurtful song fading
With the piercing of desires
From the lips burning with kisses
That kiss the air and nothing more,
That kiss the air and nothing more.

Farewell mother, farewell Maria,
Keep this well in mind,
That I make this vow:
Either I will take you to the altar,
Or it was God who was served instead
Give me my rest at sea

Now, on another given day
When the wind barely stirred
And the seas elongated the skies
At the bow of another sailing ship
Another seaman sailed

While sorrowful he sang
While sorrowful he sang.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A frightening item in the Los Angeles Times this week concerning the United States Navy's recent "laser ray gun" test off the California coast. Aimed at a small motorboat, the craft burned up before it could it sink.

According to Rear Admiral Nevin Carr, "This is very important to the navy's future weapon systems." Clearly. But this is the line that haunts me: "By turning energy into a weapon, we become more efficient."


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Monday, April 11, 2011

A small room above a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

I am still reading Light In August, having taken a break after returning from Portland, when things got busy and reading for pleasure was work. Last night Christmas was caught in Mottsville, and the person whose husband wanted him dead is his granny.

But the section I keep returning to concerns Christmas and the woman from the cafe, his attraction to her. I remember that kind of attraction. I remember being Christmas's age.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First published in 1916:

(Carl Sandburg)

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Last month, while walking west on Robson Street, I passed the Chapters/Indigo “book” store and saw in its windows a large number of toys to go with the ongoing avalanche of pictures frames and candles, that which is made for pennies in poorer countries and marked up twenty-fold by retailers here.

Two blocks later, while passing the HMV “music” store, I saw that their windows were filled not with CDs and DVDs but with books. Behind these books, a more startling display: what had once been rows CDs was now accessory stations for PVRs, some of which looked like the toys at Chapters/Indigo.

Should I be surprised? Given the emergence of online delivery systems, no. But to see it from the street, as opposed to reading about it. A Benjaminian moment, to be sure.

Yesterday, while walking east on Hastings, it happened again, only this time outside one of our city’s longest-serving independent music stores, Scratch Records. What might I find in her windows? Certainly not CDs.

Indeed, if the windows of Chapters/Indigo and HMV provided a view to the future, what I saw in the window of Scratch was the past -- and that was vinyl. Lots of it. I felt thirteen again, when I bought records at A&A, or used ones at Ernie’s Hot Wax.

Which brings me back to Chapters/Indigo and HMV. Where are they headed?

Today’s Globe and Mail suggests that Chapters/Indigo will turn into a department store. But was that not already attempted? As I recall, the big box book stores were designed to lease window space to publishers, as opposed to independents like Duthie’s, whose windows were “curated” by staff.

Maybe the only difference between now and then is, like the window versus the wall, a greater degree of transparency.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Thursday, April 7, 2011

For years I thought the word "train" was related to connectivity, a series of vehicles linked together. Not so. Train is derived from the Old French trahiner, which in turn is from the Latin pull, draw.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

IMDb's one-line description of Konchlovskiy's 1985 film about the effects of government deregulation:

Two escaped convicts and a female railway worker find themselves trapped on a train with no brakes and nobody driving.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A small room above a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Before me is a box filled with eighteen plastic pieces. When assembled, these pieces will look like a water tower (HO scale).

Seventeen years ago, when I was living at the North Burnaby Inn, I began buying train set models that I would paint and position on a table not much bigger than the one I am sitting at now.

After a year I had everything but the train. It was then that I lost interest.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Sunday, April 3, 2011

From Robbie Robertson's 1994 album Music for Native Americans, a song arranged by Rita Coolidge:


A we n' de Yauh ho
A we n' de Yauh ho
A we n' de Yauh, we n' de Yauh
ho, ho, ho, ho
he yauh ho, he yauh ho
ya ya ya

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On the front page of this morning's Globe and Mail Arts section a profile on 67-year-old guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson. Below his mug, this quote:

"I want to be clairvoyant. If I could see around the corner, I could get ahead a bit quicker. It's a practical thing, but it comes from spirituality."

Talk about ends over means. As for the last line, I see the ghost of Max Weber, but also L. Ron Hubbard.

If I were to rewrite this quote for a younger generation, those with the same ends in mind, it would look like this:

"I want to be autistic. If I see a corner, I cross the street. It's a practiced thing, and it comes from a fear of engaging on terms other than my own."

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Rolling Stones Trilogy: An Inadvertent Opera in Three Acts, at Once will be up at the Waldorf Hotel's Hideaway two days early, running from 7PM to 10PM, in addition to its scheduled run every Sunday in April from noon to 6PM, before moving to the Helen Pitt Gallery in a more compact form, where it will run daily from April 26 to May 1st.

The installation is comprised of three films -- Godard's Sympathy for the Devil (1968), the Maysles and Zwerin's Gimme Shelter (1970) and Frank's Cocksucker Blues -- projected side-by-side. Laid before each projection is my written synopses of the film, as if it were an act in an opera. These synopses combine to form a new narrative.

In addition to the exhibition, Publication Studio Vancouver and I have produced a limited edition book based on everything said from the stage during the Rolling Stones' performance at Altamont. The publication is called Free Concert and will be available at the Helen Pitt Gallery.