Sunday, December 31, 2017

Close-up (1990)



INT. PRISON - DAY

I read that you are interested in film, so since I’m a filmmaker, I wanted to talk to you.

And you are?

Kiarostami.

Ah, right. I am surprised. I’ve seen your films.

You have? Is there anything I can do for you?

You could make a film about my suffering.

I can’t promise anything, but let’s talk and see.

What did they write? That I am a con man?

I don’t know exactly. Did you confess to attempted fraud?

Yes, I did confess. But I’m not a con man.

You’re not? Then why did you confess to fraud?

Because what I did looks like fraud from the outside.

And what is it really?

I’m interested in art and film.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Art for...um?



The things people tell us when telling us about something else.

In her November 30, 2017 Los Angeles Review of Books article on her late-1980s/early-1990s relationship with Knight Landesman, UC Irvine art historian Catherine Liu tells us a little bit about herself and her relationships prior to meeting the former Artforum publisher, including her relationship with (to?) Sophie Calle. All this in a single (topic) sentence:

Rising art star Sophie Calle made me her best friend for a few months and took me all over town while she tirelessly hustled her work and climbed the ladder of fame. 

Is this an ouch? The consequence of a big ego (Calle's) or a wounded one (Liu's)?

A bit of both?

Speaking of Artforum and egos, in a November 1, 2017 L.A.Times article entitled "What sexual harassment at Artforum reveals about who holds the power in art (hint: not women)", Carolina A. Miranda shares what Artforum co-publisher Charles Guarino said in response to "a query about the art world boys club" at a 2015 talk at Art Basel Hong Kong. After "noting that the magazine had a strong presence of women in its editorial ranks, among its other departments," Guarino had this to say: 

A lot of women aren’t going to like this, but from experience, I can tell you that anyone capable of doing another kind of work usually does; to be an artist, you need a really serious case of attention deficit disorder, a little bit of Asperger’s, and you need what I can only describe as a man-sized ego.

Following this, Miranda writes (in a single paragraphic space):

Why are there no great women artists? A lack of ego, he surmises.

Just a "lack of ego" ("man-sized" or otherwise)? What about "attention deficit disorder" and "Asperger's"? Does Miranda disagree that these clinical disorders and syndromes (disabilities?) are advantageous when it comes to achieving "greatness"? If so, why doesn't she say so? But if not, why doesn't she include them alongside "ego" when speaking of the things that women artists ostensibly "lack"? Don't mean to get all Richard Prince about it, but, well, c'mon, right?    

Friday, December 29, 2017

Let's Go (1968)




Let's Go (1964-1968) was an after school CBC television show that broadcast five days a week from a different Canadian city each weekday (Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax). Although the show focused on popular (rock) music, this particular episode is dedicated to "Vancouver's psychedelic hippie scene," which in some instances (Pat Boone) is referred to as "a tragedy." Lots of insights expressed in this episode, some from unexpected sources (Pat Boone again), but not once do we hear from a woman.

Those who remember the late poet and activist Jamie Reid can find him in the 18th minute talking about "hipsters." Here's a snippet:

"With most hipsters, I find that the only subject of conversation is drugs. That gets to be a bore after awhile. Another thing that gets to be a bore after a while is their holier than thou attitude."

Haney's Susan Pesklevits was a frequent guest on Let's Go; first as a solo artist, then as a member of the Poppy Family (when she changed her last name to Jacks), and then as a "featured" member of the band. Here she is singing a song penned by her then-husband Terry Jacks, "That's Where I Went Wrong" (1969):

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Defining Vancouver"



For those who think Fight for Beauty is an act of aesthetic terrorism, here is picture I took of a 6'-high poster three weeks ago on Main Street near 20th Avenue -- further evidence of the corporate market culture's re-articulation of the city.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


A small room inside 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.

And so it was with these words that I began a long poem entitled "9x11" in 2009, when I was that school year's Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University. "9x11" is the basis for a book I have recently signed a contract with New Star Books to publish in fall 2018.

The manuscript I submitted is entitled 9x11 and other poems like "Bird", "Nine", "x" and "Eleven", though I am not sure that title will stick. The second choice is 9x11 and other poems, particularly since my friend the poet and scholar Jeff Derksen once told me how much he dislikes titles that have "and other poems" for a kite tail.

But I like my titles. Not in resistance to Jeff, who has encouraged me over the years and to whom I am grateful, but because they are closer to the truth of the book's composition. Indeed, if my past books have all been devised in advance of their realization, this one found itself from a file of discrete works, some of which, like the long poem "Avanti's", date back to BOO #5, which was published in 1996.

No pictures this time, though that could change, too. In place of pictures, some hybrid works of concrete and, because many concretists are polemicists, expression.

The poem "9x11" first appeared in West Coast Line #73 (Spring, 2012), a special issue edited by Jason Starnes and David Gaertner entitled "HERE COMES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD". Here is how the editors spoke of "9x11" in their Introduction "Encountering the Problem of the Neighbour in Space":

"As Turner described in correspondence with WCL, 9x11 works to translate time (the events of 9/11) into space (the 9x11 room occupied by the narrator of the poems) and form (the final work will include eleven poems each composed of nine lines). As suggested by the small space of the room (reflective of the diminutive floor plan available to most Vancouverites), the world of 9x11 is cramped, confined and claustrophobic. Relationships with the neighbours are simultaneously removed and intimate. On the one hand, private activities and communications are made public by the accident of thin walls, a shared toilet and a communal mailbox. On the other hand, the names of the people with whom the narrator is closest (physically and, perhaps, emotionally) are never identified; rather they are named by their spaces, represented by their respective apartment number. The neighbour who insists on candles in the bathroom is '5'; the one with the loud TV is '7'; the one he bumps into in the hall is '4.' The distant intimacy that Turner explores in these poems helps to further illustrate the uncanny relationship we have with the neighbour."

Monday, December 25, 2017

Needle and Thread



From a "Christmas Bunny" crochet pattern.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Manchester Rambler (1932)




Ewan MacColl wrote this song when he was seventeen-years-old.

I've been over Snowdon, I've slept upon Crowdon
I've camped by the Waynestones as well
I've sunbathed on Kinder, been burned to a cinder
And many more things I can tell
My rucksack has oft been me pillow
The heather has oft been me bed
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead
Ch: I'm a rambler, I'm a rambler from Manchester way
I get all me pleasure the hard moorland way
I may be a wageslave on Monday
But I am a free man on Sunday
The day was just ending and I was descending
Down Grinesbrook just by Upper Tor
When a voice cried "Hey you" in the way keepers do
He'd the worst face that ever I saw
The things that he said were unpleasant
In the teeth of his fury I said
"Sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead"
He called me a louse and said "Think of the grouse"
Well i thought, but I still couldn't see
Why all Kinder Scout and the moors roundabout
Couldn't take both the poor grouse and me
He said "All this land is my master's"
At that I stood shaking my head
No man has the right to own mountains
Any more than the deep ocean bed
I once loved a maid, a spot welder by trade
She was fair as the Rowan in bloom
And the bloom of her eye watched the blue Moreland sky
I wooed her from April to June
On the day that we should have been married
I went for a ramble instead
For sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead
So I'll walk where I will over mountain and hill
And I'll lie where the bracken is deep
I belong to the mountains, the clear running fountains
Where the grey rocks lie ragged and steep
I've seen the white hare in the gullys
And the curlew fly high overhead
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

"Ramble On"




A hotted-up, super tumescent version of the 1969 Led Zeppelin song.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Parties



I suppose it could be said that your rudeness and overall foul nature (unless you are talking to collectors) has less to do with me than your own self-loathing. If at any point you are interested in bottling that energy, I know of a weapons producing art collector who is looking to diversify beyond the usual troika of mustard gas, anthrax and brucellosis.

Then again, I know how you find my offers condescending, how my attempts at the humour you practice (so happily?) only annoy you further, leading me to wonder, Just what is it that makes me so heedful, so aggravating? I am prepared to listen to you tell me what it is that ails you, but I can't entirely take responsibility for it when I don't exactly know what it is about myself that has you so bothered. Not until you tell me, that is.

That last paragraph was added a couple hours after the first one. I think I shall continue to add to it for as long as I can, until I arrive at something helpful (to all of us). I am sincere in my quest. I have for too long pretended to not care what it is that I do to you and to others who scrunch up their noses in my presence, who behave so rudely. Perhaps the illusion that I can take it only contributes to that. I am British that way. Not in the You-love-everyone-you-love-no-one way, but that other Victorian adage: You can't hurt me. Not anymore.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

John Vanderpant (1884-1939)



Netherlands-born Vancouver artist John Vanderpant was photographing steel-enforced concrete grain towers as early as the mid-1920s, around the same time Le Curbosier (1887-1965) published Towards a New Architecture (1923, en français), which featured photos of grain towers, some of them hand-tinted with gouache.

The picture above is Vanderpant's Colonnades on Parade (c.1926); the one below, of an opened celery stalk, is his White Desire (1934).


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Untitled (Grain Tower) (2013)



The other day I received an email from Adele Weder, interim editor of Canadian Architecture, asking if I would be interested in supplying the magazine with a 400 word "Back Page" text to accompany an image of Greg Girard's Untitled (Grain Tower) (2013). I said yes. So now, if you will excuse me...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Man with Bandage (1968)



"A quiet belter of a photograph from 1968, 'Man With Bandage,' might justifiably be called Herzog’s signature shot — and not just because one of the many signs on view helpfully directs first-timers to the VISITORS BUREAU. Wires connect the heads of the titular man to the old lady behind him so perfectly that they serve almost as a perspectival diagram. The two are further associated both by his white bandage and her white gloves and by the way that his manly injury (wrist) is sympathetically echoed by her implied infirmity (legs, walking stick). Someone better acquainted with Vancouver’s geography and the picture’s orientation would know whether the long shadows are pointing toward evening or morning. The shaving cut on the man’s chin tends to suggest the hurry of a.m., but if this is rush hour, where’s the traffic? By the same token, if it’s happy hour, where’s the happiness? More to the point, where’s the bus? Each figure stares into the distance, straining to make out which of the buses routinely promised by the sign might be approaching. The light is hazy, but the man is squinting, as if staring into the face of divine radiance — a reminder that buses are anticipated as eagerly as the Second Coming and that timetables are best regarded as prophecies of dubious reliability. Who is to say that the bandaged hand did not result from a botched crucifixion served up by the serial obstacles of daily life, with the bloodied tissue paper on his chin covering a wound self-inflicted by safety razor (as opposed to a spear in the ribs) and the bus stop as a station of the commuter’s cross? The blob of blood on his chin is amplified, behind the old lady, by what I’m assuming is a mailbox — though the red is so featureless that, if painted, it would appear as a solid abstraction. Beyond that is a dense tangle of signage, which can be more fully decoded in a corroborative or Q.E.D. sort of way by reference to another photograph taken farther down the street."

The above is a paragraph from Geoff Dyer's December 14, 2017 New York Times article on the work of Fred Herzog. Entitled "The Odd, Otherworldly Glow of Fred Herzog's Photography", the article zooms-in on a couple of pictures when not making a case for Herzog as the missing link between Walker Evans and William Eggleston.

As for that "otherworldly glow," external factors (besides film stock) have to be considered. Part of this glow is due to the fog, when temperature inversions were more common to the port, but mostly it is related to the beehive burners that once dotted the region's shores.



Monday, December 18, 2017

Sugar Mountain (1965)



From Joni Mitchell's introduction to her song "The Circle Game" on the album You Can Close Your Eyes 

"In 1965 I was up in Canada, and there was a friend of mine up there who had just left a rock'n'roll band ... he had just newly turned 21 [20, actually], and that meant he was no longer allowed into his favourite haunt, which was kind of a teeny-bopper club and once you're over 21 [19] you couldn't get back in there anymore. So he was really feeling terrible because his girlfriends and everybody that he wanted to hang out with, his band could still go there, you know, but it's one of the things that drove him to become a folk singer was that he couldn't play in this club anymore. 'Cause he was over the hill ... so he wrote this song that was called "Oh to live on sugar mountain" which was a lament for his lost youth ... and I thought, God, you know, if we get to 21 and there's nothing after that, that's a pretty bleak future, so I wrote a song for him, and for myself just to give me some hope. It's called "The Circle Game".

Sunday, December 17, 2017

News



As I sit here surfing the previous week's news, the voices of the CBC's Sheryl MacKay and Brian Dance rolling over each other in the IKEA ball room that is my radio, rolling blithely if they were not in quiet competition with each other to see who could hit the most sonorous note, no longer conveying the news or the story of a daughter's father's letters sent to that father's daughter's son but the resonance of their instruments, as if that is why they are there, regardless of what they have to contribute to the conversation that is the story of our lives, not so much a Stradivarius in the hands of a macaque but a violin whose materials and construction are better suited to Bartok than bluegrass, more wind than weather these voices, resonant brushstrokes for the non-representational decoration centred above and behind the common room couch, I read of the firing of CBC legislative reporter Richard Zussman, who, according to CBC head of public affairs Chuck Thompson, "breached a number of our policies," a determination "based on the findings of a third party investigation." And what did Zussman do? He co-authored a yet-to-be-released book that wasn't about his happy West Vancouver youth, like another CBC employee, but events leading up to the May 2017 British Columbia provincial election.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Unit 17



Back in 1965, 18-year-old Gregg Simpson rented a 30' x 60' storefront at Bayswater and 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. Although intended as a studio for the young artist/musician to paint and rehearse with his band the Al Neil Trio (Neil on piano, Richard Anstey on bass, Simpson on drums), the space quickly became a hub for literary readings, dance performances and related multimedia activities.

As interest in the space grew, so too did the need for a larger venue. Soon enough the organizational energy behind what was now called the Sound Gallery begat Motion Studio, which in turn begat the Trip's Festival in 1966, and from there helped to shape what became known as Intermedia (1967-1973).

Sound Gallery was on my mind last night as we parked in front of its former location to attend an opening across the street at Tobin Gibson's Unit 17, which opened at its Kitsilano address (from its Main Street cubbyhole) this past summer. Entitled SOOT, the exhibition features work by Alexandra Bischoff, Gabi Dao, Julian Hou, Scott Kemp, Anne Low, Tiziana La Melia and Nicole Ondre.

Behind the exhibition is a small administration space/kitchen sink. Adjacent to that, an artist studio. Behind that, a door that leads to a long and large, southern-exposed backyard (pictured above) that Gibson has plans to turn into what he is calling Les Jardins. As a gardener partial to night gardens (pictured below is Unit 17's budding magnolia), I am excited about this space. Hopefully the neighbours will be too.



Friday, December 15, 2017

"The longer it lasted the more notes I found."




Karlheinz Stockhausen speaking on his composition Mantra (1973).

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Poem For the Reified Mind






hmm, well... (Stockhausen, 9/22/2001)
 in memory of Hannah Arendt

"My background -- in one sentence: Outlaw"
--Kenneth Goldsmith, in collaboration with sentence starter Campus der Künste, 2015 


what happened here is -- arm out, pointing, slowly scanning

lips flapping under a pow of silence -- is a work of art that

once upon a time never existed, that administrators produce

daily without practice, efficiently, showing up the next day

to repeat themselves, a work of art that until LeWitt never

existed, it is imaginable what happened here, these workers

absorbed in their tasks, taking orders, giving them, numbers

tattooed onto wrists, entered into boxes, for eleven-plus years

six million people driven into resurrection, not all of us can

do that, compare like that, we are nothing, as composers that is


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ganga and Uma "Joined" By Their Husband Siva



Sometimes it's the way things break that makes them what they are.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

1674 East 11th Avenue



I have a fondness for this house. Something about it. Last month I took a good long look, walking from one end of it to the other, taking in all its angles (without trespassing). Yes, I would repaint its wood (the turquoise was a popular Ted Harris colour favoured by cheapskate landlords in the 60s and 70s) and take down the gridded burgler-proofing in the living room and bedroom windows, but not much else. I would not remove the floral iron-work that supports the front porch awning, nor the rhododendron that blooms red in April, as these features, like the Dude's rug, "really tie[] the place together."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pierrot le fou (1965)



All anybody talks about anymore is prescience. Not foresight, clairvoyance, but prescience. The difference? Foresight is too responsible, too parental, while clairvoyance sounds like gypsies and scares away the money. But prescience -- now there's a market term.



Sunday, December 10, 2017

McAuley Park



Inside the triangle bordered by Kingsway (southwest), Fraser Street (east) and 15th Avenue (north) is McAuley Park.

Inside the park are two huge tulip magnolia trees, a dozen flag poles, three park benches and, as of October 8, 2017, the "Monument of Vietnamese Boat People -- Refugees from Communism", which includes figures (the heterosexual family), but also public and private sponsorship plaques.

Hard to make out the flag that one of the figures (the father) is holding forth. Here is that same flag with the sun behind it:


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Spelling Msnformaton



Steel magnet Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) believed that English was destined to be the "world language of the future" and for that reason it should be simplified (?). To help this along he gave an organization called the Simplified Spelling Board $15, 000 a year for five years.

English readers are familiar with some of these simplifications; the best known include "nite" for "night" and "thru" for "through". Lesser known suggestions had "-ed" endings replaced with "t", as in the suitably ambiguous "mist" for "missed".

As one might expect, a conversation got in the way of the Board's recommendations and, as the "nays" outweighed the "ayes", the world moved on.

Now the Board is back, and the latest proposals are intriguing. For gerund forms that consist of the same vowel ("i") repeated twice and separated by paired consonants ("ss", "tt", "dd"), it is proposed that the first vowel be dropped. Thus, "pissing" would be spelled "pssing" and "shitting" would be spelled "shtting".

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tales of Wage Work



I am never sure if Tod Hackett moves to Los Angeles to paint The Burning of Los Angeles, or if it occurred to him after moving there. Either way, Hollywood set dec keeps him busy. And when not hating his job, he is, like Bartleby's employer, distracted by humanity.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cartoon



As much as I don't mind you, as much as I can absorb your expressive tendencies, I would much rather take you down than have you hanging over me like that.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Vancouver Art Gallery



Pictured above: people on the steps, waiting for the VAG to move.

Sources intimated last August that the final piece in the VAG's funding puzzle has been located and the gallery would break ground on its new building at Larwill Park in November.


Well, November has come and gone, and with it the certainty that once shot like laser beams from the eyes of VAG director Kathleen Bartels, who has worked herself to the bone in an effort to give this city, this province and this country the gallery it deserves, but does not necessarily want.

Or maybe not. Maybe that's not it. Maybe its politics. Political economics. Finance.

If Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau does not stop in Vancouver upon return from his current trade mission to China to stand beside Bartels at a press conference announcing that the (Mainland Chinese) money is in place, and that the VAG has a detailed timeline, then the Larwill Park building is not going to happen.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Vampire State-Building/Sympathy for the Vampire?



The latest research spiral includes notes on vampire metaphors, from Marx ("Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour") to Michel Serres (The Parasite, 1982) to Jean Fischer, who writes in her "Introduction" to Vampires in the Text: Narratives of Contemporary Art (2003):

Periodically, the vampire has been resurrected as a popular villain for, amongst other 'delinquencies', an unbridled (usually 'feminized') libidinal energy, invasive viruses and, since Marx, the seductive, all -consuming drift of capitalism itself. I have at times used the figure in this sense, but it nevertheless carries a certain ambivalence that suggests other readings. If, for instance, one posits that western capitalism has turned us all into depoliticized, consumerist vampires, then among the strategies available to us for regaining a sense of subjective agency might be to use equally vampiric maneouvres to infiltrate and recolonize its hegemonic discourses [my bold]. I must confess therefore to some sympathy for Dracula, especially in considering contemporary intertextual practices, both in art and writing. Reading somewhat against the grain of attributes usually seen as malignant, one might say that the vampire destabilizes the apparent coherence of any rationalist discourse; he (sometimes she) is the undead element that, forgotten, annulled, or excluded from the discursive field, is nevertheless its invisible organizing principle. The vampire haunts the circulatory system of discourse.

As a means-over-ends type -- as a sun-lover! -- I don't "buy" the proposition that has me participating in a system that seeks to destroy that which sustains me. As for Fischer's "regaining a sense of subjective agency" motive, I am reminded of what Kaja Silverman says of the shifting nature of the subject and its "particularity" in her 2006 essay "The World Wants Your Desire":

In my opinion, the “subject” and the “self” are two very different things. The self or the ego is what Jean Laplanche brilliantly calls ‘an object masquerading as a subject.’ It is an object because it is one of the things we can love, one of the things in which we can invest our libido. This object is able to masquerade as a subject because it is what provides us with our sense of identity, and for most of us identity equals subjectivity. But identity is foundationally fictive; it is predicated on our (mis)recognition of ourselves first within our mirror reflection, and then within countless other human and representational “imagoes”. This fiction is impossible to sustain in any continuous way, but the subject classically clings to it anyway. Through a murderous series of incorporations and projections she attempts to close the distance between it and herself [my bold].But we are subjects not at the level of our identity, but rather at that of our desire. Desire is based upon lack – not the lack of any identifiable thing, but rather the lack of what Lacan variously calls “being”, “presence”, the “here and now”. Since we are all equally bereft of this same impossible non-object of desire, singularity would seem to be foreclosed at the level of subjectivity. We would seem to be exactly what Lacan describes us as being: nothing and nowhere. For me, this account of subjectivity has come to seem intolerable in its erasure of particularity. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

But You're from Canada



Correction: I am from B.C.

Yes, and B.C. is in Canada!

Like Québec is in Canada?

What, are you claiming district society status?

As a second-generation settler on the largely unceded First Nations territory known by the Canadian federal government as the province of British Columbia, I don't have the right to make that claim.

I'm a settler too. A Canadian settler.

You mean a settler in Canada, part of the colonial occupation.

Yes, on the traditional territories of the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation, Anishnawbe, Haudenosaunee, Wendat and Huron Indigenous Peoples, the original nations of that land, who continue to cry out for justice.

Since you put it that way, I am a second-generation settler of Anglo-Russian-Japanese origin living on the largely unceded First Nations territory known by the Canadian federal government as the province of British Columbia and an uninvited presence on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people.

You're forgetting the Sto:lo.

I stand corrected -- an uninvited presence on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Stó:lō people.

That's better!

Yes, much!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

"Dancing in the Streets"




The first Handsworth riot took place between September 9-11, 1985. The Number One song in the UK that week was David Bowie and Mick Jagger's cover of "Dancing in the Streets",  a 1964 song written by Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter and made famous by Martha and the Vandellas later that year.

Martha and the Vandellas' version entered the U.S. charts on August 22, 1964, the same day Mary Lou Hamer gave this speech at the Democratic National Convention:



Saturday, December 2, 2017

"The Privatization of Politics"




As the late Mark Fischer writes in his essay "The Land still lies: Handsworth Songs and the English Riots" (2011), "struggles are never definitely won."

So true, so true, as Trump would mutter sotto voce after one of his strategically inflammatory declarationsBut no -- we mean it! Like the handlebars on our bicycles, or their pedals.

In his essay Fischer recalls George Shire's contribution to the Tate Modern's 2011 post-screening discussion of the Black Audio Film Collective's Handsworth Songs (1986). Fischer writes:

"...many struggles have not been lost so much as diverted into what [Shire] called 'the privatization of politics,' as former activists became hired as 'consultants'."

Following this, Fischer cites Paul Gilroy, whom "Shire echoes":

“When you look at the layer of political leaders from our communities,” Gilroy observed, “the generation who came of age during that time 30 years ago, many of those people have accepted the logic of privatisation. They’ve privatised that movement, and they’ve sold their services as consultants and managers and diversity trainers.”

I came of age 30 years ago, and yes, I remember the UK Miners' Strike and the riots in Birmingham, Wandsworth and Tottenham. I remember Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, just as I remember its influence on the Bill Bennett-era B.C. provincial Social Credit government (1975-1991). I remember American economist Milton Friedman and his influence on the SoCred's think-tank, the Fraser Institute, and the Reagan Administration (1980-1988) and its president singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" with Canadian Progressive Conservative government prime minister Brian Mulroney, who held power from 1984 to 1993, and who sang it again -- solo this time -- for Trump at Trump's Palm Beach party house earlier this year.

I also remember former Greenpeace president Patrick Moore who, after leaving Greenpeace, went to work as a forest industry consultant, and who continues to chastise an environmental movement that he claims has, like Trump today, "abandoned science and logic in favour of emotion and sensationalism."

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pattern Recognition



The first three sections of the Wednesday November 29th, 2017 print edition of the Globe and Mail all lead off with a hug!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

From Ecology to Infrastructure



I was a young anthropology major in the early 1980s when I first heard the term cultural ecology. Later, as a writer interested in the symbolic production of the city (Vancouver), I noticed the Western Front included "cultural ecology" in its mandate: "To promote and encourage the role of the artist in determining the cultural ecology."


In the early 2000s, people began to speak less of an ecology than of economies.

Today, with the Canadian Federal Government budgeting money for "cultural infrastructure," I worry that artist-run centres will become less interested in "the role of the artist in determining the cultural ecology" and more accepting of the neoliberal state in the determination of the artist-run centre -- an artist-run centre reshaped by that state in its own image, to the point where the erasure of the artist-run centre -- its []termination -- can be justified in that most digestible of bureaucratic terms -- redundancy.


Tomorrow, Artspeak celebrates 30 years as a force in what I still refer to as the cultural ecology. For me, Artspeak and its collaborator the Kootenay School of Writing were important to my development as a thinker and a maker. Serving on Artspeak's board in the late-1990s was one of the highlights of my professional career.


Thankfully, Artspeak has retained its self-reflexive (and strategically ambiguous) sense of humour. In celebration of this, it is offering up an anniversary joke book, which can be had tomorrow (December 1st, 7pm) as part of its 30 Years of Laughs fundraiser at the Russian Hall. A membership will get you in, get you entertained and hopefully get you closer to an eccentric institution that always thought twice about joining a club that would have it as a member.