Saturday, September 22, 2018


I remember our Literature 12 teacher Mr. Jim Satterthwaite screaming at us over our misuse of the semi-colon. "Don't even go near it!" he said (screamed). "Not until you understand it -- what it is, what it does, and why, when you don't use it properly, it makes you look pretentious!" Then he picked up a copy of Strunk and White' s The Elements of Style (1959) and read to us what it was that we weren't doing.

Of Strunk's rules of usage, the one that impressed me most was his suggestion that for shorter (independent) clauses we forgo the semi-colon for the comma. I still hold to this. So imagine how I felt a few years ago when TL;DR entered the lexicon.

Too long; didn't read is immune to Strunk's suggestion, leading me to think that people like this barbed thing, this tick ("on a dog's belly") as Donald Barthelme once described it. So rather than argue over it, I suggest a variant on TL;DR: NLE;HTRT:

Not long enough; had to read twice.

But even here Strunk would suggest a comma, no?

Mr. Satterthwaite? Are you still out there?

Friday, September 21, 2018

There's No Accounting For Misleading Names

I know it is someone's name, and they are proud of it, but mis- is a suffix with connotations, and to trust your taxes with a company that might mis-file them, well, the Misfeldts are proud for a reason.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Yesterday Was a Travel Day

Yesterday was a travel day that had me up at 5am to catch a 7:45am flight to Kelowna to speak with Matt Rader's CRWR 381 poetry class at 12:30pm and to read at Milkcrate Records with dia kabunda the following day, before returning to Vancouver tomorrow.

I was assigned a window seat for the fight, which I didn't contest because it was a clear day and I like to sight-see.

The image above is a landscape with two clusters of tall buildings -- Metrotown to the left and the junction of Willingdon and the Lougheed Highway to the right. Between the two, a little closer to us, is Deer Lake Park. What I thought was fire smoke was probably fog.

Lots of new buildings on the UBCO campus since the last time I walked it. The greenhouse below is new:

These signs seem old though:

Ah, the perils of a research university.

FINA Gallery has an exhibition up of FCCS faculty and staff. Below is a suite of pieces by Eric the Red descendent Shauna Oddleifson:

Matt has eleven in his class. Most shared their work, all pitched in on the discussion. One of them, Dawn Petrin, is partial to that most miniature form of poetry known as the haiku, which she used to construct her ten stanza poem "about" what is now referred to as the "fire season" (formerly summer).

Here is the poem's fourth stanza:

We watched from afar
fancy house -- pool and all.
This place burned before.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


A couple weeks ago the Globe ran a "First Person" piece entitled "Why everyone should write their own obituary" by Penny Lipsett. After reading the piece I thought of artist Ken Lum's recent obituary paintings, but also Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology (1915), and then a social media declaration heralding a new book of poems by Tess Liem called Obits. (2018).

For fun, I began my auto-obituary, but without the usual places, dates and times, and in the third-person, no less. This is how far I got:

On everyone's payroll, yet devoted to a life of poverty -- if he was not invented he would have to have been born. And he was, years ago -- long enough to have learned how to even think such a thing, grow into his subjection. As he once said. As he once wrote. As he carried on, carried, a carrier who cared.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Behind the fireplace in the lobby of the brand new UBC Alumni Building (see yesterday's post) is its library. On its shelves, not books but mid-century objet, arranged accordingly. Same could be said of Canadian Art's retro re-design of its magazine -- a time when white middle-class men ruled the roost. What is the message these two are sending? (Translation: a fetish.)

Monday, September 17, 2018


A long walk with my old pal Lisa last Thursday. Down Commercial to Venables, west to the community gardens at Strathcona, returning via Charles. Lisa and Paolo have built something beautiful in the Echo Park Film Centre.

Another long walk on Friday, this time with Amy. Down Bute to Pacific, along the water to Second Beach, north to Lost Lagoon (where the above was taken), returning east on Haro.

More trees on Sunday, this time at UBC, where Esther Shalev-Gerz and the Belkin Art Gallery unveiled The Shadow (2018), a public artwork made of slightly darker bricks than those beside it.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Wil Aballe has re-opened WAAP at the 1100-block East Hastings. Outside, where one might find a business sign, another sign -- a diptych of Downes Point, Hornby Island resident Anne Ngan, as photographed by Evann Siebens.

The opening exhibition is entitled Myths. For more on the exhibition and its participating artists, see Lauren Fournier's exhibition text.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Veils of a Bog

Vanessa Brown's right-angle-based assemblages turn from the ceiling to the chirps and groans of Michelle Helene Mackenzie's Post Meridiem score.

Friday, September 14, 2018


Re-enforcements were called in to the site of the former Burritt Bros Building at the NE corner of Main and 20th. Not sure what the plan is here, if these supports will be visible to those parking underneath or if they will be buried.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

"The event had begun before the decision to enact it"

Deborah Edmeades scheduled her Wednesday Western Front performance Monologues: patriarchal traditions and the New Age at 6:45 pm so that we could be with the setting sun as it streamed through the Luxe's five west-facing windows. Each window features an element (metronome, human figure, music stand, etc.) related to her lecture.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Massy Books Gallery

Massy Books has an art gallery upstairs in the back. Kennedy Telford has a work there (above), entitled Gothic (tribute to Grant Wood). No date attached, only a price: $250.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A small room behind 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.

Yesterday was mostly just me computtering around, picking from the interweb things for my academic c.v. (I had forgotten that I moderated a panel for the Shaq’sthut: Gathering Place Colloquium at UBC in 2008 -- but I had not forgotten the great circle around us, where everyone introduced themselves, the laughing and the joking, particularly at the expense of the chatty Tsimshians!)

When not doing that, I was flipping through my new book trying to decide what to read at its launch tonight. Launches aren't readings -- they're launches -- so I don't want to go on too long.

Come to the launch: 7pm at Massy Books (229 East Georgia Street).

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Poem by Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)


We knew.
    Anne to come.   
    Anne to come.   
    Be new.
    Be new too.
    Anne to come   
    Anne to come   
    Be new
    Be new too.
    And anew.
    Anne to come.   
    Anne anew.
    Anne do come.
    Anne do come too, to come and to come not to come and as to
and new, and new too.   
    Anne do come.   
    Anne knew.
    Anne to come.   
    Anne anew.
    Anne to come.   
    And as new.
    Anne to come to come too.
    Half of it.
    Was she
    Was she
    Or mine
    Was she
    Or as she
    For she or she or sure.   
    Enable her to say.   
    And enable her to say.
    Or half way.
    Sitting down.
    Half sitting down.
    And another way.
    Their ships
    And please.
    As the other side.
    And another side
    Favorable and be fought.
    Adds to it.
    In half.
    Take the place of take the place of take the place of taking   
    Take the place of in places.
    Take the place of taken in place of places.
    Take the place of it, she takes it in the place of it. In the way   
of arches architecture.
    Who has seen shown
    You do.
    If can in countenance to countenance a countenance as in as   
    Change it.
    Not nearly so much.
    He had.   
    She had.   
    Had she.
    He had nearly very nearly as much.
    She had very nearly as much as had had.
    Had she.   
    She had.
    Loose loosen, Loose losten to losten, to lose.
    If a little if as little if as little as that.
    If as little as that, if it is as little as that that is if it is very nearly all of it, her dear her dear does not mention a ball at all.
    As to this.
    Actually as to this.
    High or do you do it.
    Actually as to this high or do you do it.   
    Not how do you do it.
    Actually as to this.
    Not having been or not having been nor having been or not
having been.   
    All of this makes it unanxiously.
    Feel so.
    Add to it.
    As add to it.   
    As add to it.   
    As add to it.   
    As he
    As he as add to it.
    As he
    Add to it.   
    Not so far.   
    Constantly as seen.
    Not as far as to mean.
    I mean I mean.
    As far.
    So far.
    He forbore.   
    To forbear.
    Their forbears.
    In so far.   
    For instance.
    In so far.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

David Clayton Thomas & the Bossmen "Brainwashed" (1966)

I've been brainwashed
I've been brainwashed
I woke up one morning and I took a look around
found myself sleeping in the city dog pound
told myself this just can't be
in the home of the brave and the land of the free
I finally found my voice and I began to shout
I got to got to tell you what it's all about
I've been brainwashed

Now it pours from my papers from my radio
telling me what to do and which way to go
white knight charging down at me with a lance
drives in my belly I don't stand me a chance
stem the over population take a walk in outer space
I got to got to tell you what we all got to face
We've been brainwashed

Down with the hangman
rather fight than switch
public insulation gotta know which is which
we won ourselves a victory the casualties were light
judging by the news machine it ain't much of a fight
60 million people reading all about Viet Nam
85 percent of them don't give a damn
They've been brainwashed
They've been brainwashed

Friday, September 7, 2018


Just because someone is known to have recently spoken a word that appears in an anonymous letter doesn't mean that the person who spoke that word is the author of that letter. Could be that the person who wrote that letter might be counting on those watching to make that connection. Could be that the person who wrote that letter is counting on those watching to think that the person who recently spoke that word would be careful about using it in an anonymous letter.

Prior to this letter, someone used a word to describe the editor who cancelled their on-stage interview. A few days later another someone used that word to describe the author of the anonymous letter. If there is a connection, it is the connection that is intended to distract from that which passes from shadow to shadow.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Anonymous Op Ed

"To be clear, ours is not the popular 'resistance' of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous."

Okay Anonymous (Corey "Let Trump Be Trump" Lewandowski?), I hear you -- loud and clear. But I want to be clear too. I want you to know that I fear and loathe you more than I do your boss. Because in saying what you're saying, you're trying to make me feel better knowing that your boss is being managed; that as long as you and your fellow "senior officials" are minding things, everything is going to be alright.

Yours is not a false premise/true conclusion proposition but another distraction masquerading as a disruption. I am not fooled by your ploy, nor do I feel "safer," "more prosperous." Gun violence continues unabated, economic disparity continues unabated, and your boss continues to turn public and political space into a torture chamber of misogyny and racism. Where is the safety and prosperity in that? Where is the safety and prosperity in a feudal mode of production and a medieval Supreme Court?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

"all man's miseries"

"I've discovered that all man's miseries derive from a single thing, which is not being able to sit quietly in a room." -- Pascal, Pensées, 94 (Massis ed.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The New Yorker Festival

"The latest issue of Texte zur Kunst focuses on Amerika (U.S. America principally): the land, the idea, and all that seems to come with it. What is Amerika today other than a contradiction between brute political reality and a largely fictional self-image, where fiction says as much about fact as “alternative facts” say about the truth? Within this contradiction, this issue tries to imagine modes of engaging with the current political machinery without opting for the one-dimensional dive into micropolitics that has plagued much recent activist discourse. The Trump regime has introduced a new form of politics whose tactics are closer to artistic practice—inventing parallel truths and questioning facts—than anything like traditional governance. As such, those familiar with art are in a unique position to offer an analysis of the specific forms that define contemporary politics in Amerika. We have thus commissioned artists and critics to come up with new strategies for analyzing the rampant barbarism, resisting the urge to sink into paralysis and defeat in the face of the endless onslaught."

How intriguing to read Texte Zur Kunst’s editorial note for its new “Amerika” issue (above) in light of the New Yorker Festival’s announcement that its editor, David Remnick, would be conducting an on-stage interview with “Trump regime” curator Steve Bannon. And then, just like that (that being social media’s ability to teleport ideas faster than any sit down festival), Remnick announces the cancellation of his on-stage interview in favour of a “more traditionally journalistic setting.” (Like what, on the phone? In a newsroom? Over lunch at OneDine?)

Was the New Yorker Festival right to cancel this event? Yes, because the event was never going to be a mere “exchange of ideas,” as advertised, but a spectacle animated by a militarized police force and a U.S. Customs-style pat-down of everyone entering the room. This is what terrifies me more than anything Bannon might have to say (we know what he will say, just as we know what Remnick will ask him). Yet another instance of the apparatus that, like Bannon’s hate and Remnick’s disgust, has everyone feeling even shittier than how they felt the day before.

Monday, September 3, 2018

A Man is Not a Bird (1965)

The scene where Jan receives a medal for installing factory turbines "in reduced time."

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Serpentine Path

A couple weekends ago a group of us took a day trip to Bowen Island for the opening of The Serpentine Path, a group exhibition curated by Patrik Andersson at artist Scott Massey's Terminal Creek Contemporary studio/gallery. After the opening, resident/collector Maryon Adelaar kindly invited us back to her clifftop home, where I caught what I thought was Patrik taking a selfie, only to zoom-in later and find that the image on his screen is not one person but two.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Innocence Unprotected (1968), Pt. 2

As with all good party members, the bedroom (reproduction) and the factory (production) are spoken of on equal terms.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Fine Art

After Wednesday's dinner I took a walk through the neighbourhood to see who is still watering their garden. Eventually I ended up at Fraser Street, where I headed south to Kingsway and saw that the doors to the Hungarian Cultural Centre were open, with two signs outside advertising FINE ART.

I had never been inside the Hungarian Cultural Centre before, but it is not unlike most cultural centres I have seen, with a stage at one end, wainscotted walls and a high ceiling. The wood floor was new, which told me the centre is doing well as a rental venue.

But the artworks! Mostly painting, mostly figurative, with a couple of sculptors working in marble and granite. Not quite the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but not what we think of when we think of contemporary art, either.

A portrait by Zámbó Katalin:

A drawing by Jávor István:

An acknowledgement of sponsors:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Innocence Unprotected (1968)

My Makavejev film spree is coming to an end. From early films like Man is Not a Bird (1965) to Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967) to Innocence Unprotected (1968).

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Book Launch

Robin Mitchell Cranfield's cover for 9x11 and other poems like Bird, Nine, x and Eleven, to be launched September 11, 2018, 7 pm at Massy Books in Chinatown. On the back, some context from Dodie Bellamy:

Reading Michael Turner’s extraordinary 9x11 I was reminded of Christa Wolf’s Accident, how global crisis intensifies the daily—except that in Turner’s/our current state disruption has become the new norm. Disruption both terrifies and excites the poet—the stacked monotony of skyscrapers is broken both by the horror of people leaping out of buildings and by Mallarme’s thrilling abandonment of vertical structure in “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (1897).  All the reflections and contemplative rhymes add up to a holographic text that begs repeated reading.  “9x11” is a date, a disaster, and the measurements of the poet’s room.  For Turner architecture is a form of poetic divination, and poetry is a form of architecture.  Living in a city, community is inevitable—coffee house/apartment building/poetry peers—and despite his caution, Turner’s tense heart proves very big.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"Mark its container: X/ Two intersecting lines,/ A lattice point/ Of time"

I was reading up on the poet Pat Lowther when I came upon the house she lived in at the time of her death in September, 1975. No, let me try that again. I was reading up on the poet Pat Lowther when I came upon the house she lived in with her husband Roy and their children -- the same house where Roy, in a fit of rage, beat her to death before driving her body to Furry Creek in an attempt to hide it. Okay, one more time: I was reading up on the poet Pat Lowther when I came upon the house she lived in and noted, with much sadness, how similar it looks to my own.

Here is a poem from Pat Lowther's Time Capsule (1997):


Before the wreckers come,
Uproot the lily
From the hard angle of earth
By the house.
Crouch by the latticed understairs 
Rubbish and neglect
(The sudden lightning
Of sun
On your back
Between the opening
And shutting
Of the March-blown clothesline,
Rise and fall of the swift light
Like blows.)
Here a lifetime's
Slimy soapsuds
Curdle the earth,
In this corner
Under the stairs,
But have not killed
The woodbugs
Nor the moths' pupae
Which brush your fingers
As you dig
For the round, rich root,
The lily root
Which has somehow, senselessly,
Not been killed either
But has grown every year
An astonished babyhood,
An eye-struck Easter.
Pack it among the photographs,
The silver polish,
And the last laundry
Which will not again
Lift and shutter
For the shattering sun.
Mark its container: X
Two intersecting lines,
A lattice point
Of time
And the years' seasons.

Before the wreckers come,
Carry away
The lightning-bulb of sun.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Children and Dogs

While waiting for my banh at Kim Chau I noticed the above in a planter by the cashier. Where had I seen that before? Ah yes, the Coppertone Girl!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Rilke Poem

In his Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (1905), Rilke writes:

I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Rilke Letter

On August 3, 1907, Rilke wrote to the countess of Solms-Laubach:

For weeks, except for two short interruptions, I haven't pronounced a single word; my solitude has finally encircled me and I am inside my efforts just as the core is in the fruit.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Amy made over 30 jars of peaches, apricots and plum jam. The left over peach mash was shared with the chickens, who devoured it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

"Don't panic... we have bannock!"

We stopped for gas at Merritt on Sunday. Not much open, but lots of people wandering the streets, looking for brunch. The Kekuli Cafe was open, and we were thankful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A small room behind 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 slept late this morning, awaking this way, then turning that way; awaking that way, and this went on for some time.

The first time I awoke the room was bright, and I stared at the towers beside my table: one tower of novels, the other of non-novels, I guess.

This summer has been a summer of reading novels; or if not reading novels, then listening to them discussed on CBC radio, where the interviewers only want to talk about novels that parallel the life of their authors.

The author's novel. The novel's author.  Has someone tracked the passage from ficto-criticism to criti-fiction to autofiction yet?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Public Space

Some nicely-stencilled 11x17" graffiti going up at Broadway and Main these days. A welcome relief from those building-sized, up-with-people murals compliments of that mysterious organization known as Create Vancouver Society.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


Your sudden urge to buy a turntable is your body's way of saying you need to get out of your chair more often.

Friday, August 17, 2018

VAGue Notions

Can you hear it, the tolling of that bell? Slow and solemn, it is less a tolling than a knell.

In a city where everything appears to be temporary except for poverty and wealth, Vancouver city council has voted to allow the B.C. government to build 98 "temporary social housing" units on its Larwill Park property -- the proposed site of the new Vancouver Art Gallery.

Not sure what your experience has been with temporary social housing, but once a site is established, closing it can only come with conflict. Suddenly, the VAG is no longer a gallery waiting to quit its current building for an unbuilt one, but a gallery whose move will inevitably be linked to an eviction.

Can you imagine what the VAG's ground-breaking ceremony might look like, if indeed it raises the money for its new home?

Is this recent council decision payback after VAG director Kathleen Bartels's comment to the Vancouver Sun about never expecting to meet council's 2015 funding deadline

Dong ... Dong ... Dong ...

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Spent all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday applying the proper MLA style to my thesis project. At 4 p.m. yesterday I clicked the COMPLETE SUBMISSION button and, for the third time this month, await word on whether my formatting will be accepted or rejected.

It was while reading through my bibliography that I came upon the English publisher of Nathalie Sarraute's Tropisms (1963) -- John Calder. A moment later I was on the Web checking the spelling of "Sarraute" when I saw that a John Calder had just passed, and it was him!

Sarraute was 99 years old when she passed, Calder 91. Conclusion? Experimental writing is good for you!

Someone else has just passed -- Aretha Franklin. Here she is singing about a doctor who, as she tells us, helps her with her laryngitis -- but not before she thanks her accompanist, the band conductor and the band. Ever gracious, ever honest, forever in our memory. It is not the songs we sing, but the way we enter and exit their performances.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lloyd's Got Came

Yesterday's haircut at Amir's (5175 Victoria Dr.) was followed by a visit to the thrift store down the street. A couple of rare DVD's, including Sitting Bull (1954), which is noted for its "sympathetic" portrayals of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and the usual list of resisted purchases, stuff that makes better pictures than objects.

The image above is of Lloyd's "Came Calculator", a game from the looks of it -- and if that's the case, a misspelling, too. I am posting its image because I tried finding more information online but couldn't -- there is nothing.

Sitting Bull was the first independent film to be shot in Cinemascope. Lloyd's was among the first calculator-makers to use the LCD interface.

That's all I got.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Publicity Trumps Journalism

The Sun Wah Centre is now open for business(es). To celebrate, news services are running property manager B.C. Artscape's press release verbatim, as if it were their own.

Here are the opening two paragraphs of the CBC's July 29, 2018 story:

Here are the opening two paragraphs of the Toronto Star Vancouver's July 29, 2018 story, as attributed to Spencer Harwood:

It is not enough that agencies like B.C. Artscape are brokering studio and administration spaces for artists and galleries and related arts organizations, not when news of this venture is being "reported" identically in both public (CBC) and private (Torstar) news agencies.

As usual, it is a disregard for the way things happen in favour of them happening (regardless of the means) that saddens me. Shouldn't it be the way things happen, in the way a snowball rolled over grass and gravel contributes to our cultural experiences? By grass and gravel I mean the conversation that is inextricably part of these experiences, as criticism is to art.

What is B.C. Artscape's Sun Wah Centre, then, if it is going to permit itself to be spoken of in its own words? Where is the community dialogue in that?

Not a good start, B.C. Artscape. As for Sun Wah tenant Centre A, good for you for holding out and cutting your own deal with the landlord.