Friday, January 28, 2022

Invisibility Under Threat of Erasure


On January 22th the Vancouver Sun published (online) a 1500 word Page Four article by John Mackie called "Old Kingsway Versus New". The inspiration for the piece appears to be Heritage Vancouver's recent addition of Kingsway (the entire 8-mile stretch of it, from 7th and Main in Vancouver to the Burnaby/New Westminster border) to its Top 10 endangered heritage sites.

Nice to see the word "heritage" extend beyond the Edwardian to include semi-feudal, post-war immigrant working class racialized neighbourhoods like Kingsway. Not so nice to see Kingsway once again defined by what it is not, as evidenced by Mackie's don't-think-of-a-purple-pony lede: "Kingsway will never be confused with the Champs Elysees in Paris or Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles." Also, what happened to the Sun's fact checkers? It's New Sam Po Meat & BBQ, not New Samo Meat & BBQ.

SFU's Andy Yan is quoted at length throughout the article. He talks of "the invisible manufacturing that goes on" along Kingsway, particularly in the food industry and "in terms of  ... production, distribution and repair elements." And later, how that production is "in danger of being systematically erased," how this "erasure is stemming from its invisibility" (great line!).

Mackie's Strathcona neighbour and Vancouver Councillor Pete Fry concludes the article with his amendment to the recent 1265 Kingsway development proposal that has the new building's retail floor plate sectioned into smaller spaces, as opposed to a single unit. Would that discourage private developers from the common practice of writing off the loss of (deliberately) un-leased premium priced ground level retail spaces for the first three years after the completion of what is largely a market housing project? No. That's another article that is not in any rush to be written, one that begins: "Vancouver will never be mistaken for a city that puts public housing before private profit."

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Fight Club, Tiger Lily?


VOICE #1: This is Sheppard Wong's home.

VOICE #2: He lives in that piece of paper?

Much ado about state officials from the People's Republic of China changing the ending of Fight Club (1999) -- without touching its beginning and middle!

Back in 1965, Woody Allen purchased the rights to a Japanese film, removed the sound and replaced it with a new sound design, score and English language dialogue.

Here is Allen talking about What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), along with its trailer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Turner Creative Artists


Gorgeous Prose is a fictive online musical group of fortysomething incels who were Zooming before the pandemic and are talking about meeting in RL. They are available to novelists and short story writers for passing mentions ($25), dead-end subplots ($100) and activities of your own invention, like the name of a flower shop or a cleaning service ($1000). Those interested in a complete profile, please contact me at this address and you can tell me how much you are willing to spend. All monies raised will go into gardening supplies.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The World's Most Expensive Camera As a Weapon of Mass Creation


There were over 300 things that could have scuttled the "installation" of the $10-billion (USD) James Webb Space Telescope as it unfurled ("like origami," reporters kept saying) in its L2 orbit of the Sun, roughly 1.5 million kms from Earth.

Launched on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), the telescope is now capable of looking back (and more clearly than Hubble) into the history of our 13.8 billon year old universe. All but the first 100, 000 years will be revealed, presumably because those first 100, 000 years, like the best lots in La Jolla, have been held back by investors.

To cover themselves, NASA will concoct a conspiracy theory that suggests the People's Republic of China had already discovered these first years, found that they bore a striking resemblance to the pantings of Ferdinand Leeke (1859-1923), and had a scrambling device installed that has turned them into analogue "static".

For those put out, NASA has suggested that if other signs of life exist in our universe, the JWST will provide conclusive proof. Yet another instance of the camera standing in as an arbiter of truth.


Monday, January 24, 2022

Bus Stop Topics


Among the recent bus stop topics: Art isn't very interesting these days, is it? Following that, Covid has made a mess of everything and Is this what happens when you're in your fifties? Topics not of my raising, but offered up like a piñata, sans blindfold. (And no, I don't condone the masklessness above.)

Art is always interesting, isn't it? It is the is it and the isn't it that isn't very interesting, is it? Add-ons turn statements into questions and become conversations unto themselves, that don't require participation -- do they? Yes, art is always interesting, and what is most interesting lately is what we are willing -- and unwilling -- to settle for in an art experience. 

Last November the Vancouver Art Gallery announced an update on its design of the Chan Centre for the Visual Arts mall it is trying to build and one day move into. Gone is the wooden exterior, and in its place, a "copper-coloured metallic weave" arrived at in conjunction with representatives of the Lower Mainland's Coast Salish nations.

But why "copper-coloured" and not real copper, like the (painted-over) copper roof of the Hotel Vancouver? I want the Chan Centre for the Visual Arts to have a real copper exterior, and I want Teck Resources to pay for and maintain it. Mine the roof of the Hotel Vancouver, if you have to. That's what people want these days in an art experience -- they want the truth and they are willing to accept it in recycled form. So truth to materials, I say. Stop pretending something is what it isn't. We are living in a literal era; it is time we start reflecting that. 

As for Covid, have we assigned to it the appropriate metaphors? Just what is it if it is making "a mess of everything"? We are fond of saying Covid has highlighted the contradictions in the structure of our society, but as what? A spotlight? A magnifying glass? A pick axe hammering at fissures? Or is it a scrim that has made shadows of our lives? A restraint? A constraint? Is there a Zen approach to Covid? All religions ask us to take refuge in ourselves, swaddle ourselves in faith. Maybe that's what's inside that piñata.

Those born in my birth year are turning sixty now. Those born after February 5 are Water Tigers, and I am one of those, too. Looking back on my fifties is not something I have done much of, and won't likely do more of until the summer, when I turn sixty. But one thing I will say of that decade is that it is, perhaps even more so than my forties, the decade when I had the clearest idea of my adult life in relation to my parents when they were in their fifties. At least once a day I find myself counting backwards to compare what my parents were up to when they were fifty-nine. I have never felt closer to my parents than I have when in my fifties. Everything, as always, in relation? 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

My Childhood (1913) 2


Here, the young Maxim Gorky sits with his storytelling Uncle Grigory in his grandfather's dyeing workshop:

"I loved listening to those kind words and watching the red and gold fire flickering in the stove and milky white clouds of steam rising over the vats, leaving a dove-coloured crust, like hoar frost, on the sloping rafters of the roof, where jagged chinks let through blue patches of sky. The wind died down, the sun came out, and the whole yard seemed sprinkled with ground glass. The screeching of sleighs came from the street, light blue smoke curled up from the chimneys, and soft shadows glided over the snow as if they too had a story to tell." (56)

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Woke Up It Was Healthy Morning and the First Thing That I Saw


Nice and orange-pink out there. Almost a spring morning, until you step in it. (Brrrrrrrr!)

Spring for what's poking out of the ground (the new snowdrop, crocus and narcissus bulbs I planted late-September), and really spring if you look at the hydrangea, whose buds are leafing early. Will have to trim their branches today, maybe take out some laurel shoots before the hedge (out of frame, to the left) gets ahead of me, like it does every year.

And the birds. The robins and chickadees have started up again. The plastic lid on the lawn chair is where I put their seed.