Friday, May 24, 2019

Dispensaries



Wakenbake is the first  cannabis dispensary you see heading south on Westside Road. Less than 100 metres later, Top Hat Cannibas.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Vernon Value Village



Ah, a Willie Nelson memoir.


And inside -- a signed and dated drawing by its author!


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Pattern and Recurrence



Here is what Mike McInnerney had to say about his album cover design for the Who's Tommy (1969):

"I had been exploring ways of creating images that could picture my pre-occupation with spiritual ideas. I particularly liked the patterns and rhythms of Op Art and its concerns with perception and illusion and the language of Surrealism - not for its subversive qualities but rather its transcendental possibilities - like finding poetry in the ordinary."

Here is a southwest view from the top floor of the New Museum that I took in New York last month:



Here is Christopher Brayshaw's view of the Vessel (TKA) at Hudson Yards (NYC) that he took on a more recent trip:




Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Presences



This Wednesday at 6pm I am hosting Footsteps at an Exhibition at the Kamloops Art Gallery.  For this iteration (the concept originated at the Kelowna Art Gallery on 2017) I will combine a conversational walk-through Samuel Roy-Bois's Presences exhibition with a reading from my recent book 9x11 and other poems like Bird, Nine, x and Eleven (Vancouver: New Star Books, 2018) which, like Samuel's exhibition, is interested in our relationship to objects, space, structure and time. (Last month I mentioned Samuel's exhibition in my contribution to Ottawa Poetry Newsletter (#161).) This is a free event; all are welcome.

Monday, May 20, 2019


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.

"The Page", "The Bed", "The Bedroom", "The Apartment" -- the first four chapters of Georges Perec's Espèces d'espaces (1974), also known as Species of Spaces (in English).

Perec likens a page to a bed and a bed to a page. The epigram for the "Bed" chapter is a play on Proust's A la recherche de temps perdu (1913): "For a long time I went to bed early." But instead of Proust, it is Parcel Mroust: "For a long time I went to bed in writing."

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Felines



This cat lives in the neighbourhood and eats out a lot.

As for this "Kitty", it belongs to Mary Kelly and has toured the world many times over.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Sequoia Later



At the centre of this picture is a brown square. Look closer and you will see that it is a tree stump. Before that, a towering sequoia that, had it not been cut down earlier this year, would have extended beyond the frame of this picture in height and width.


Taped onto the window of the health food store behind the stump is a page of information ("90-year-old Kerrisdale Sequoia tree will be turned into benches for Arbutus Greenway").


I can't say I have a memory of this sequoia when I was growing up. Nor do I remember what was around it, apart from the China Inn, where a request for ID when ordering beer was met with sheepish shrugs on our part -- until Tim Bailey offered his Grade 11 student card and that was enough!

Below is a picture from the Herbert Elwyn Addington's photography collection. The occasion is the May 24, 1980 opening of the new B.C. Telephone Company store at 2307 West 41st. (Prior to that, telephones remained the property of B.C. Tel and were rented to customers for a couple dollars a month.) To the left is the sequoia.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Colour, Line and Form



With the Carolina Hurricanes on the verge of elimination from the NHL playoffs, I thought it time to hold up their new alternate logo (above), which the team debuted last summer. The alternate uses the hurricane warning flags (the previous alternate was a "storm warning" flag), while the negative space between the flags is the shape of the state of North Carolina, where the team's home rink is located (in Raleigh).

“We’re excited to introduce our new third jersey for the upcoming season,” said Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell in the media release. “We wanted to modernize our old alternate uniform while incorporating a sense of regional pride, and we feel we’ve done that with this design.”

Modernize is right. While the team's principal logo (below) is an expressionist form of abstraction intended to represent hurricane force winds, the new alternate, despite its Looney Tunes feel, is closer to Modernism's early years, with a flag in league with the paintings of Malevich and Albers.



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Film Forum



The April 19th Images Festival Research Forum at TPW is now online. I watched it last night and there were only two edits, one at 1:00:19 (followed by a huge, unexplained sigh) and again near the end, at 1:19:34.

Below is the 8:50 minute opening scene of Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (1970), where there are many edits and many more camera positions. I am never sure if this scene was an actual off-campus student forum led by Kathleen Cleaver, with scripted dialogue added after, or if it was scripted from the start.


The Images Festival Research Forum was designed to invite feedback on the festival's program and its behaviour as a social enterprise. One of the more resonant issues raised (by someone who told Images programmer Steffanie Ling "We don't care about your festival") was "radical friendship". In Zabriskie Point, the issue is how Blacks and whites can work together as revolutionaries to shut down the school as a next step in overturning the larger social structure.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

House Plants



Two glass shelves set in a frosted window "looking" west onto a five foot wide easement. The Asparagus continues to struggle, but the Crassula is doing better.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A Goodbye



Before Amy and I left town over Easter, cheyanne gathered a group of us together to say goodbye to our beloved VAG cafe patio, which was scheduled to close on April 30th. We assumed the cafe was closing because of the gallery's move to Larwell Park. But that could take years, if it happens at all.

Yesterday, while walking on Robson, I thought I would take a peek at the patio and see what -- if anything -- is up. Sure enough, iron bars, a thank you and mention of its renovation.


Renovation is a loaded word these days -- with "-ovation" more often than not implying an "-eviction" (it's been how many years since renoviction entered the lexicon?). The cafe patio had a nicely-priced menu. If another cafe should take its place, I would hope that it keeps its prices reasonable -- and removes that bloody gate!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Easter Weekend



By the light of the Guggenheim.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Surprise!



On Thursday Skeena hosted a surprise party for Dana at Lawrence's studio. There was food and booze and a jar with a slit in its lid to off-set the cost.

Shortly after Dana arrived -- SURPRISE! -- Skeena presented her with a blanket she made, at the centre of which is the Lakota star. Dana moved through the room and acknowledged each and every one of us; Skeena said a few words and sang a few songs. At one point we all joined hands and danced clock-wise while someone's dog stood in the middle and barked.

There was more, of course, but that's enough for now.

On June 27 Skeena's Surrounded opens at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Portraiture



Tess Durbeyfield at this time of her life was a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience. The dialect was on her tongue to some extent, despite the village school: the characteristic intonation of that dialect for this district being the voicing approximately rendered by the syllable UR, probably as rich an utterance as any to be found in human speech. The pouted-up deep red mouth to which this syllable was native had hardly as yet settled into its definite shape, and her lower lip had a way of thrusting the middle of her top one upward, when they closed together after a word.

-- Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles (51-52) 



She mimics the speaking. That might resemble speech. (Anything at all.) Bared noise, groan, bits torn from words. Since she hesitates to measure the accuracy, she resorts to picking gestures with the mouth. The entire lower lip would let upwards, then back to its original place. She would then gather both lips and protrude them in a pout taking in the breath that might utter some thing. (One thing. Just one.) But the breath falls away. With a slight tilting of her head backwards, she would gather the strength in her shoulders and remain in this position.

-- Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee (3)

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Paragraph from Pitch Dark (1983) by Renata Adler




One morning, in the early nineteen-eighties, Viola Teagarden filed a suit in a New York State court against Claudia Denneny for libel. Also named as defendants were a public television station and a talk-show host. Viola Teagarden's lawyer, Ezra Paris, had been, all his life, a civil libertarian; in every prior suit, he had been on the side of the right to speak, to print, to publish. He was embarrassed by Teagarden v. Denneny et al., which, as he knew, had no legal merit. He justified it to himself on grounds, of which Viola had persuaded him, that she was sad, hurt, pitiable, distraught. He also thought, in friendship, that he owed her something. Her current book was dedicated to him. But his province had always been the First Amendment, and he preferred not to think about who was paying his rather considerable legal fees, Martin Pix, a young, immensely rich, vaguely leftish media executive, who had recently come, yacht and fortune, into Viola's special circle. That circle, as I gradually came to understand, was one of the most important cultural manifestations of its time.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Interview with a Bonfire



An excerpt from Rachel Cooke's April 28 Guardian interview with a white fifty-five year-old well-born homosexual who writes novels:

As he notes, the world then [1970s] was built for adults rather than children – something he experienced as freedom, and on which he looks back with gratitude. And here, perhaps, he places his finger firmly on one of the primary causes at the heart of the war of words that rages between his generation and that of his boyfriend of 10 years, the musician Todd Michael Schultz, who is 22 years his junior (yes, he lives with a millennial). What it comes down to is a question of timing, and of upbringing.

“I thought it was rather exciting,” he says, of a childhood that enabled him to see the films he wanted to see, and to read the books he wanted to read, unbridled by anxiety on the part of his carers (thanks to this, he developed as a teenager a passion for the films of Brian de Palma, the director of CarrieScarface and The Untouchables).

“This is not a blanket statement, but…” He guffaws, knowing full well that it absolutely is a blanket statement. “What I’ve noticed is a kind of helplessness in millennials. I didn’t realise this until lately, but I was on my own. My parents were narcissistic baby boomers, more interested in themselves than us [they would later divorce]. Not that they didn’t love us, but they were very wrapped up in their own lives.

“I do remember floating on my own. I had to grow up on my own. I had to figure things out for myself. I had some help. I’m not saying that I didn’t. But certainly, there wasn’t the overprotective bubble that so many of my friends raised their children in. Growing up, I didn’t know a single person on medication. None. On my boyfriend’s side of the aisle, though, there wasn’t anyone who wasn’t on something, including him. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who wanted to [be] victimised either; we wanted to be affected by stuff.” He emits a hammy sigh. “I don’t care if I sound old any more. I haven’t changed at all. I was the old man at 15.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

On the Main Street Side of Gene



Bracken muralized Gene a couple years back. Was it part of the Mural Festival? I guess so. Regardless, I am not wild about colouring-in already diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods, but I respect and appreciate Bracken and his work -- and I like it that he honoured Yuxweluptun, who often sits where these ovoids stand.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Tess of the D'Urbervilles



Up until yesterday I had never read a sentence by Thomas Hardy. There were reasons for this. First, our English 11: The Novel course focused on Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), and because I found the cover creepy, I did not make it one of my three (out-of-five) picks for my high school English requirement.


Second, the 1979 trailer for Roman Polanski's screen version of Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) was even creepier. This is a film whose whispering yet insistent voice-over ended with the line: "Tess: a victim of her own provocative beauty."

Brrrrrrrrrrrr!

And so it was yesterday evening, while walking back from Save-On (three 750ml bottles of San Pellegrino for $5), that I stopped at the second-hand store on the 1300 block of Kingsway and saw a relaxed cover of Tess of the D'Urbervilles and thought, I need to spend more time looking into what ails me. A dollar-fifty and four blocks later I was sipping vodka sodas to lines like:

On this board thirsty strangers deposited their cups as they stood in the road and drank, and threw the dregs on the dusty ground in the shape of Polynesia. (63)

"And we'll all go and see her when Tess has gone to live with her; and we'll ride in her coach and wear black clothes!" (65)

Abraham talked on, rather for the pleasure of utterance than for audition, so that his sister's abstraction was of no account. (69)

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Greg Younging



Greg Younging was the external examiner on my graduate committee. When I first read his name many years ago it was Young-Ing -- as in the poet Greg Young-ing. Then one day the hyphen disappeared; the upper-case "I" sat down, dotted itself and, as it grew closer to the first "g", pulled the "n" and the second "g" with it -- making it Younging, as in Greg Younging, or Dr. Greg Younging at the time of his passing last Friday.

RIP Greg!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Relational (Political) Economics



Huawei is a Mainland China-based multinational telecom manufacturer supported and promoted by the Chinese government. Last December, Canadian customs officials arrested the company's CFO, Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the U.S. government.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former People's Liberation Army officer who started the company in 1987. She is accused of defrauding a number of financial institutions in violation of U.S. government backed sanctions against Iran.

The Chinese government asked the Canadian government to release Meng, and the Canadian government refused. The Chinese threatened "severe repercussions," and a short time later detained two Canadians who have been living and working in China. Shortly after that, a Canadian meth dealer had his sentence "upgraded" from imprisonment to death.

In March, China announced that it will no longer purchase canola from Canadian farmers, based on "pest infestation."

Most Canadian canola is grown on the Canadian Prairies, which is also a producer of NHL hockey players and home to many more hockey fans, all of whom tune-in to the Canadian Broadcasting Company's Hockey Night in Canada, especially now that the playoffs are on.

A major advertiser for Hockey Night in Canada is Huawei, whose name is featured prominently during broadcasts (see above).

When I first noticed this I thought, Why hasn't Huawei pulled its sponsorship? Then I thought, Why would they when what it is paying is but a pittance when compared to the return it is getting for showing Canadians who's boss? The U.S. government showed Canada who's boss when, in an effort to destabilize it or as a condition of the free trade agreement renegotiations (or both), it asked Canada to detain Meng next time she passed through Vancouver.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Did She, or Didion't She?



"At no point have I ever been able successfully to keep a diary; my approach to daily life ranges from the grossly negligent to the merely absent, and on those few occasions where I have tried dutifully to record a day's events, boredom has so overcome me that the results are mysterious at best.
                                                      -- Joan Didion, "On Keeping a Notebook"

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Yard Work



There is no better return for me than to spend the first morning back doing yard work, noting the passage of time in new growth, trimmed hedges and changing colours.

The Lily-of-the-Valley (Piers japonica) is among the most dramatic garden performers. When I left on my trip, the bush had bright red leaves at its extremities; now those leaves are yellow.

As for the Miss Kim (Syringa pubescens subsp. patula), it blooms later than most lilacs, and is at least a week away.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MOCA



All this talk of Toronto's new MOCA site and not once did I ever hear anyone say anything about having to walk through Nestlé to get there.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Keiko's Defense



Keiko Hart's defence generated great discussion and she passed without revisions. I was happy to spend time with Jeanne Randolph, who I first saw back in the 1990s when Lorna Brown brought her to town, and my own grad committee supervisor, Ashok Mathur. Soyang Park is a new face, while committee chair Andrea Fatona is a friend from 1980s Vancouver.

Jordan Abel's Cartography (12) (2017) Polygon Gallery installation came up in the context of Keiko's in(Living)between (2019) performance and support paper. But where Jordan's text was applied to a vinyl transfer system and installed by a contractor, Keiko applied her text "live" and stream-of-consciously.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Exhibition



You can't really call it a seascape, but this retail window is close: an ice beach populated with dressed-for-dinner fillets.

We were in Oakville on Saturday for Rebecca Brewer and Rochelle Goldberg's Waves and Waves exhibition. Most notable with both artists -- what they share -- is a restraint uncharacteristic of more recent work. Rebecca has introduced a deep dish framing strategy for a new suite of ground-friendly paintings, while Rochelle's confident handling of clay is almost lost (submerged?) in her navy blue glazes.

Here is a framed painting by Rebecca:


Here is a framed assemblage by Rochelle:


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Local Kitchen & Wine Bar



Last night's view of a candle through a wine glass containing dregs from a 2009 bottle of Macchiona La Stoppa.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

One and More Chairs



Two exhibitions that feature works made with chairs. Nari Ward's Savior (1996) at the New Museum (above) and something more recent by Jessi Reaves at Bridget Donahue (below).


Friday, April 26, 2019

Judy Linn at MBnb



The south wall of MBnb's current Judy Linn exhibition. Entitled Splay, the exhibition features 16 pictures of various sizes and croppings, none framed.

The picture below is one we are accustomed to seeing on the Pacific northwest coast. But in this instance, Linn has chosen a different view. The usual view is behind (underneath) the overturned tree(s), yet like Beau Dick's masks (currently on display at White Columns), that view is hidden from the public.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Photo Prose



A simple idea. The ICP Museum invites eight writers to select and respond to a photo from its current Portraits from the ICP Collection show, and Diane Exavier selects a photo from Alonzo W. Jordan's Glenn Beatty's Funeral (1965). However, in the middle of her reading/description, Diane realizes that the picture projected is the wrong picture, which, given her description of what we thought we were seeing, makes sense. After a long pause she says, "This is the wrong photo. I mean, it's the right funeral, but it's the wrong photo."

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

MOMA



A self-portrait by Brancusi that had me blurting to the nearby gallery attendant, "That's looks like Dan Graham!" To which the attendant said softly, "Do you know, Dan?"

Upstairs, in the Museum's Long Run exhibition, Miró's Hirondelle Amour (1933-34) with the word "hirondelle" in the painting (detail at bottom).

Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill once told me that all L'Hirondelles are related. I entered "hirondelle" into my French-to-English translator and what came up was swallow.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Against the Grade



Hilma af Klint is known for her spirals. What better place to see them than at the Guggenheim in NYC. R.H. Quaytman has done more than anyone to bring HaK's drawings and paintings to life. For the Guggenheim show, which closes today, HaK curator RHQ positions her own white and black paintings so that they appear on a straight line, not the line of the Guggenheim's sloping ramp.