Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018

Granville Signs

Strange to see the Movieland sign on Granville Street's booze-fuelled "entertainment district" -- especially when there are no longer any "shooting" games inside. Fantasy Factory doesn't really have a sign anymore, only this in the window:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bastille Day

Yesterday was Bastille Day. Vancouver celebrated at the Yaletown Roundhouse. But the blue in the bunting above -- not the blue I think of when I think of France's flag. More like the blue below: two tablecloths over a wheeled whiteboard, the kind used in seminars and retreats, wherever "blue sky" sessions are sold.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

VAG Openings

Cheryl L'Hirondelle shared with us two songs to open Ayumi Goto and Peter Morin's how do you carry the land? exhibition at the VAG last night. Before starting, Cheryl responded to exhibition title by repeating it, then replying, "With language -- that's how."

After the performances I saw Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill and asked if she and Cheryl are related. "All the L'Hirondelles are related to each other," she told me.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mattie Gunterman

The VAG's Dialogue with Emily Carr is an on-going program that has the paintings of Carr (1871-1945) displayed with another artist or artists, living or dead. The current "pairing" of Carr and Mattie Gunterman (1872-1945) is my introduction to the photographic adventures (adventures in photography?) of this Wisconsin-born, Kootenay-based artist.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Wednesday, July 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.

Tomorrow is a travel day, so I am gathering a few things for my trip. On the radio, a phone-in show focused on Greyhound's cancellation of routes west of Sudbury, save the route that links Seattle and Vancouver.

It is rare to see more than a couple of hitch-hikers on my drives between Vernon and Vancouver. I will keep that in mind on my drive west tomorrow.

Monday, July 9, 2018


The architects of this year's subsistence garden have forsaken rows for hugelkultur, a horticultural system based on raised beds of rotting wood.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Picturing Mirror Image Texts

A mid-morning drive down Westside Road to Kelowna. Olivia Whetung's exhibition of framed beadwork/loomwork "reflections" at Alternator, a visit to Milkcrate Records, with its U-shaped sofa system before its paisley-carpeted stage, then a stop at Lake Country Art Gallery for Here > Over There.

A work by Hanss:

Followed by another -- this one bigger:

Saturday, July 7, 2018


UK-born architect Peter Cardew (b.1939) spent a year in Stuttgart, Germany, as part of his schooling. This was in the early 1960s, when he was barely in his twenties. In 1966 Peter came to Vancouver, where he took a job with Rhone and Iredale (he led the 1978 Crown Life Plaza project above), before going out on his own in 1980.

Stuttgart-born Fred Herzog (b.1930) left Germany in the early 1950s. He was well-established in Vancouver by the time Peter arrived, working as a medical photographer when not roaming the city taking pictures like this one at Nelson and Howe:

Fred loathed the rebuilding of Stuttgart along modern lines, preferring instead the vernacular city of Vancouver, with its Spanish Colonial, Edwardian and Deco architectures, its bouquets of neon and its burgeoning diversity:

Like many of us, Fred carries his own eccentric mix of modern and "traditional" sensibilities. One thing that both he and Peter despair is Vancouver's reduction of downtown Granville Street in the early 1970s to a "Mall", which Fred has likened to "something you might see in [Communist] East Germany."

Friday, July 6, 2018

East Vancouver

Late-May, 2016. Maybe 20th Avenue, the block east of Main Street. Maybe walking to Paul's studio, or to Organic Acres across the street from him, where I might bump into Rodney on his way to Exile, a music store on Main Street, where sometimes an autoharp sits in the window.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Peter Cardew Architects

Before driving to the Okanagan last Saturday I visited architect Peter Cardew's Railway Street studio to meet with him about his Reigning Champ store design(s) for a piece I am writing for Canadian Architect. The focus of my recent visit to Los Angeles was the R.C. store on South La Brea, which marked the debut of Peter's ceiling-tracked hanging shelves. The model to the right of Peter's in-progress mannequin model (above) is a hanging shelf. Below, a picture of the shelves themselves.

Wednesday, July 4, 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.

Time to re-paint.

Same colour.

A couple months ago I was told of a retailer who could match any chip of pant to its catalogue number. Curious to see such a machine, I took in my chip, gave it to the salesperson, and he said he would be right back.

"Can I watch?" I asked.

The salesperson looked uncomfortable. "Well, sure, I guess."

Into the back we went.

At a small desk beside the rear exit sat a young woman. She was playing computer solitaire. To her left was a steaming bowl of Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup. The salesperson handed her the chip; she took it, glanced at it, handed it back. "f4f3ef."

"Same sheen?" the salesperson asked. "Eggshell?"

Monday, July 2, 2018


Malcolm Island, June 2016.

Memories of a sunset.

I was staying at the hotel above the bar beside the ferry terminal. Part of my research into rural art spaces, residencies... BC Ferries representatives had come for the day (and night) to look around. They had chosen to promote Sointula in its literature.

Do you get sunsets like this every night? one of them asked the proprietor.

Oh yes, said the proprietor. Every night the sun sets.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


The creek is a good two feet lower than it was in May, when the cottonwoods were shifting and the bridge was threatened. Always unsettling to think back on how close things come.

On the bright side, I am happy to see that the mallow I pulled has not grown back, and that there is less of it than I thought when I left. Although it all looks like the same patch, I remember areas where it came out easily and more stubborn areas where it grows through tightly-packed rocks.

Eleven days before another trip to Vancouver. Hopefully this time I can leave with seeds in the ground and a sprinkler watching over them.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

East Window

Where did the colour go?
The golden sun, the bright green leaves?

Lifting yourself into human form,
waiting for the wind to blow.

Whose fun are you having now?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

English 9

The post at bottom was sent to me by someone who sends me things he thinks will make me uncomfortable, and he's right every time -- his preoccupation with my discomfort is unsettling.

The poem Amolak Nijjar refers to in his assignment for his English 9 class is from my first book, Company Town (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1991).

Thank you, Amolak, for taking the time to write this, and for posting it.

Michael Turner is born in 1962 North Vancouver according to Wikipedia.According to Wikipedia he is a writer, musician, and opera librettos. He graduated in 1982. After he graduated he went to Europe and North Africa to study about poetry. When he came back he started a band called “Hard Rock Miners” “a post modern jug band.  Later he left and started to write poetry and one of his poems, “Hard Core Logo” became a film and a comic book and a t shirt. His music work was in some movies and television shows. The most popular poem is the, The Pornographer’s Poem. He won most of his awards because of the Pornographer’s poem. He uses different styles like diary enters and constructive narrative and many more. This is Michael Turners story. One of Michael Turners poems is My Job. I picked this poem because I get what he meant when it said “so don’t got running to the foreman” (6th line) “I’m your boss I’ll do that.”(Last line) When he meant that he was trying to say that don’t go to my boss tell me and I can tell him. When he wrote this he wanted the people to go to the person not to go to the person in charge to go to the person that is in charge of you and he can tell the boss. He writes this poem in first person.  In the first three lines he talks about himself and then the rest he talks about what he can do for the people so it seems like he has nothing to do at the job because in he says (first line) “I’m paid to watch and work.” So it seem like he wants something to do.  In line three and six he says foreman I think that means he doesn’t like the foreman or he doesn’t want people going to the foreman. This is one of my favourite poems by Michael Turner.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ragtime (1975)

My mother read E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime (1975) when it was first published. She never thought to recommend it to me, as she did with Stephen King ("You'll like it, it's scary!") and Erma Bombeck ("You'll like it, it's funny!"), but I read it anyway and have little recollection of doing so. (Maybe she thought it was neither scary nor funny.)

Ragtime comes in four parts (I-IV). As of this writing, I am fifty-eight pages into Part II. I enjoyed and appreciated the first part, but it is the long paragraph that kicks off Part II that blew my mind, when the "Father" returns from Peary's North Pole Expedition in 1909 only to find that the world has changed. From there, evidence of change through subtle mention of duplication, replication, multiplication and repetition, and then that amazing passage where high-minded financier J.P. Morgan invites lowbrow assembly-line specialist Henry Ford to dinner.

In a section relevant to what is happening in America today, Doctorow writes of striking mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and the strike committee's decision to send the children of these workers to board with families in Boston, New York and Philadelphia until the strike is over. "The mill owners of Lawrence realized that of all the stratagems devised by the workers this one, the children's crusade, was the most damaging." Following this, a harrowing scene where police show up at the Lawrence train station and endanger strikers and children alike.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

East Van Dan

A black-and-white ad near the northeast corner of Main and King Edward. What's it selling? Well, it's selling Dan!

Who is Dan?

Dan masquerades as a realtor for a large and long-running real estate company. He has made a small pile moving properties west of Main and is now turning his sights east. But how to do that?

To do that, Dan deploys intimacy. He tells the second-person pronoun how hard that pronoun works and assumes that those going by "You" possess unceded Coast Salish land in need of motivation. Dan has opinions on how hard that land should be working and is willing to sit down with it.

Dan is a Land Whisper. He talks to the land, reminds it of its commodification, and from there he builds it up, encourages it, and the land delivers -- to "You", first, but always through Dan.

Remember the boy in D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner" (1926)? Dan is not the boy who, while rocking his horse, predicts race horse winners to keep his family in the lifestyle it has grown accustomed to, but the reader of that story who wishes there were such a horse, and that he is the one who "bets" on it.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Self-Portrait with Highball Glass

We drank to many things that night -- civility, protocols, Plato, Mourning Dove...

Back in my trailer I read a few more pages of Doctorow's Ragtime (1975), fascinated by the story of Evelyn Nesbit and her friendship with Emma Goldman.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Saturday, June 23, 2018


A "log cabin" made from cut-ends (2x4s). As a shed, it had a number of jobs, but for most of its life it stood around gathering cobwebs, not rot. Recently it had a concrete pad poured for it. A new roof was added, and a second-hand door. Now it is in the recycling business -- a transfer station for paper, glass, plastic and metal. It is guarded by a four-legged creature, also made from cut-ends.

Friday, June 22, 2018


No one cares much for my poncho. When I purchased it, I announced boldly that I am "bringing back the poncho," so I think that sealed it.

I like my poncho. I like its adaptability. It is a blanket, but it is also a blanket to be worn when standing.

I also like its story: how I saw it at a thrift store in Kamloops, but when I went back to buy it, it was gone. A month later I saw it at Erin Templeton's Vancouver shop (I had bumped into Erin in Kamloops at an exhibition opening). I told her my story, and she laughed, said it was our story now, and offered to split the difference.

So the poncho is not simply a garment purchased at a shop, but an emblem, a story on which its relationships are carried.

Thanks, Brian, for taking its picture. And for last night's bison (wieners).

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Work Day

The pitch fork hits the ground (and slides in) or it hits rock and I wiggle it (in). Once under, I lift, turning the fork this way and that before kneeling down and pulling up stuff like mallow, mustard...

Into the cart they go.

Then it's off to the next square foot.

I have done this at least a thousand times over the past three days, and it is something, but if there is a contraption that removes weeds without taking too much topsoil with them -- great! I want one!

Lunch now. On the deck under the gazebo. The towering clouds and blue patches have given way to dark twisting shapes. I hear thunder, but I see no lightning.

Part of me wants to see a lightning strike, like that Earle Birney poem,

He invented a rainbow but lightning struck it
shattered it into the lake-lap of a mountain
so big his mind slowed when he looked at it

but that would mean fire. The forests are tinder dry, and if they catch fire, then we catch fire too.

Wednesday, June 20, 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.

Last night's dream was slept on. When I rolled over, there it was: a genre that reflects and accelerates (the times); an assertive genre that, in its listing, celebrates, admonishes; a prayer that clears as much space as it takes -- a litany.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Westchester Loyola Village Library

After dropping off my rental car to avoid paying for a day that would end six hours later (or two hours before my 8pm flight back to Vancouver), I walked to the Westchester Loyola Village Library to work on the piece that brought me to town: 800 words on Peter Cardew's design of the Reigning Champ store on South La Brea.

The person sitting next to me was also at work. You can't see it from the photo (taken surreptitiously), but to his left is a small keyboard, which he tapped away at, sometimes furiously.

I would love to have heard what this person was composing. The style of music, the samples he was using, whether it had anything to do with him writing and recording it at a library.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dog Star Orchestra

A group that meets. The Dog Star Orchestra.

On Thursday night at Coaxial, three pieces: the first we missed; the second, a floor "mounted" score for group movement; followed by music -- someone blowing tone clusters through a melodica while a voice, a voila, a trumpet (and more) take turns pulling from these clusters individual notes and, as angels do, holding them.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Made in L.A.

The Hammer has added a bridge since my last visit -- not to the wider community, but within itself. No more going down stairs to climb up those on the other side of the courtyard.

The piece on the wall belongs to MPA. The other half of these glasses can be found on the floor at the start of the Made in L.A. exhibition.

Following MPA is Charles Long's installation based on the sectioning of the human penis. Equal parts classical ruin, scrimshaw assemblage and art historical index (penile cross-section as Munch's Scream and South Park's Cartman?).

Neha Choksi contributed a very watchable video installation (three projections, one monitor). Choksi's is one of five or so works that feature dance or dance artistry.

taisha paggett contributed a video installation that alludes to the dancer's body as bellows. Between its two monitors, at the base of an "open mic" that invites viewers to share our breath(s), are the artist's post-it-notes, recipe cards... Note the filters.

James Benning presents a spare room with sculpture, wall works and projection. This pairing of the U.S. flag and a textile portrait of the assassinated Che Guevara caught my eye. Thank you, James. I know where I am now.

One of the highlights of the exhibition was the work of Luchita Hurdado (b. 1920), in particular her painting Encounter (1971). Vancouver has seen a lot of recent work by painters working with textiles (from the sewn, intricately puckered sheets of Colleen Heslin to the droopy "hard edge" weavings of Brent Wadden to the woven strands of acrylic in the paintings of Angela Teng); but in Hurdado's Encounter, it is the weave that is applied to the surface (with paint).

For me, the Hammer galleries provide the perfect length of space for an exhibition. As for Made in L.A., as much as I enjoyed the first half (Galleries 4 and 5), the second half (Galleries 1 and 2) wobbled due to this recent institutional pandemic known as the overhang. Yes, I understand the desire to overwhelm the viewer after we emerge from the sea change that is SunĂ© Woods's undersea world, but surely it was not the curator's intention to hit us with this terra-wave of decorative, if not juvenile work. That would be, as they say in the biz, disingenuous. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Subject to Edward Hopper (South La Brea).


Subject to Dirck van Baburen (Wilshire).