Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

The Gods Must Be Crazy was an independent cinema mainstay upon its release, but I rarely hear it spoken of these days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Workin' for the Yankee dollar"

The Barberettes' version of a song written in the 1940s by Lionel Belasco and Lord Invader.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The "Hilltop Ad"

In yesterday's post I linked Coca Cola to an ad the company ran in July, 1971. Known as the "Hilltop Ad", it features a crowd of teenagers, dressed in clothes that signify where in the world they are from, gathered atop a hill in Italy and lip-synching to a song co-written by the advertising company Coca Cola had hired to accelerate sales of its brown drink. This one-minute song proved so popular amongst Americans that radio stations were besieged with requests to "play the ad."

I remember seeing the "Hilltop Ad" as a nine-year-old. And though I too was drawn to it, I could never understand why, when the camera pulls back to show those gathered, they are not in the shape of the world, only a third of it. Years later my mother, who used to sing this ad to us on car rides, told me that it was not the incomplete world-shape people talked about back then, but that it looked like the place from which babies are born.

Monday, July 28, 2014

"It's the real thing/ (Coke is)/ What the world wants today"

A picture by Vancouver photographer Fred Herzog is now available as a postage stamp. The picture, entitled Bogner's Grocery (1960),  features no less than a dozen signs for Coca Cola products outside a long-gone corner store at 158 West 5th Avenue. A secondary narrative is a meeting of four boys under the age of ten.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Los Angeles Education

"It was the week after I tore up the linoleum."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Black Light Posters

None of the posters in the above collection were among those I stared at in the 1970s.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

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.

Last night's dream was hard and black, but it softened. The hardness gave way to froth; the blackness, purple.

At froth's edge -- lavender. Beyond that, what I took to be light.

Or was it white?

Now I remember where I was.

I was in a friend's basement. I was fourteen-years-old and we were listening to this under a black light, which in fact shines purple.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spanish Banks

The guy at the 1:10 mark.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra

Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra was a Spanish "explorer" with the distinction of having two last names, or two proper names united by a conjunction. I am not sure if La Bodega, which has a ground floor and an upstairs dining space, is named after him or what bodega translates to in English, and that is cellar.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

La Bodega (1971-2014)

Earlier this year we learned that the building that houses one of Vancouver's first tapas bars, La Bodega, was sold to a developer who presumably sees a need for more market housing and will be razing the building as soon as the development application is approved.

As for La Bodega, rumour had it that it would be moving to Yaletown, and then a couple months later, someone said Main Street.

Either way, tonight is La Bodega's last night (at 1277 Howe Street) -- after 43 year in business.

Con esta servilleta, agito adiós y buena suerte. Gracias por los muchos buen momento!

Friday, July 18, 2014

June Rebellion

Also in June, 1832, the anti-monarchist "June Rebellion", made famous by Victor Hugo in his novel Les Misérables (1862), and by those who adapted it to stage.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On Stendhal

Here is Doris Lessing's foreword to Stendhal's Memoir of an Egotist, a book that was written during a two week period in June-July, 1832.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Currently on the tank behind my toilet bowl is Marshall McLuhan's propositional tour de force, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964).

Leafing through this book I am reminded how important it was to this city's emerging interdisciplinarians (artists such as Iain Baxter), who were already familiar with McLuhan as a magazine essayist, but also to those critical of the culture industry (artists such as the Frankfurt School-influenced Jeff Wall), an industry that McLuhan took for granted -- when he wasn't taking money to advise IBM.

In a chapter entitled "Comics", McLuhan provides a quote from the French novelist Stendhal, who, when speaking of his characters, has this to say: "I simply involve my people in the consequences of their own stupidity and then give them brains so they can suffer."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Patricia Highsmith

Plein Soleil is based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955). From it, an observation -- on the topic of observation:

This is what I like, sitting at a table and watching people go by. It does something to your outlook on life. The Anglo-Saxons make a great mistake not staring at people from a sidewalk table.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Plein Soleil (1960)

A beautifully shot film, with many scenes at sea.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Marcel Broodthaers and Fleetwood Mac

I like the way the light falls today
Slow, too lazy for anything
And I see boats that are sailin' past me
You know, I wish this day could keep on goin'
and last forever

Forever and ever and ever and ever
(That's the way I feel)
Forever and ever and ever and ever
Forever and ever and ever and ever
(That's the way I feel)
(Feel )

You know I like the way the light falls today
Slow, too lazy for anything
And I see boats that keep sailin' past, but not too fast
You know what, I wish this day could keep on goin'
and last forever

Forever and ever and ever and ever
Forever and ever and ever and ever
Forever and ever and ever and ever
(That's the way I feel)

Don't fool around, please don't fool with my happiness
Please don't fool around, don't fool with my happiness
You know I like the way the light falls today
Please, please, please just let me stay that way
Too lazy, too lazy for anything

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Poem by Jack Spicer


Rest and look at this goddamned wheelbarrow. Whatever
It is. Dogs and crocodiles, sunlamps. Not
For their significance.
For their significant. For being human
The signs escape you. You, who aren't very bright
Are a signal for them. Not,
I mean, the dogs and crocodiles, sunlamps. Not
Their significance. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Poets Theatre

Next week, San Francisco writers Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian arrive in Vancouver for the Poets Theatre Festival, a series of readings, talks and workshops focused on just that: poetry and theatre.

I will be participating in the Poets Theatre workshop, as well as producing a reading of Jack Spicer's theatrical adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, "Young Goodman Brown" (1835), a play that was recently uncovered from the late poet's archives and, more recently, published in the Kenning Anthology of Poets Theatre: 1945-1985.

The Poets Theatre Festival is a joint effort of the Capilano Review and The Apartment.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

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.

A couple of days ago I purchased a used copy of a paperback book already in my possession. Unlike the one on my pile, this one had its cover attached. However, no sooner did I present the book to the cashier than it slid from its cover onto the counter between us.

Yesterday afternoon, with the skies grey and the wind wet, I read the essay entitled "Absence of Design in Nature -- The Prodigality of Nature and the Niggardliness of Man," which immediately brought to mind Poe's "The Domain of Arnheim" (1849). Here is the opening paragraph from "Absence":

In the parlour to which I have retired from the heat there is a chair and a table, and a picture on the wall: the chair was made for an object and a purpose, to sit in; the table for a purpose, to write on; the picture was painted for a purpose, to please the eye. But outside, in the meadow, in the hedge, on the hill, in the water; or, looking farther still, to the sun, the moon, and stars, I see no such chair, or table, or picture.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jerry Pethick

Regina Hackett identifies herself as "the former art critic for the Seattle P-I," a newspaper that left her, not the other way around. Now she publishes her reviews similarly to how the P-I publishes today.

Here she weighs in on a 2010 Seattle Art Museum retrospective by the late-Hornby Island artist Jerry Pethick. Included in her review is an image of one of Pethick's greatest works, Wheelbarrow & Cabin (1987-1988), a hinge work that links the lens-based practices that have come to characterize Vancouver art (Ian Wallace, Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas and Vikky Alexander) with the sculptural montage/installation works of more recent artists, such as Brian Jungen (see below).

Friday, July 4, 2014

Hornby Potters

Wayne Ngan, whose ceramics have recently found their way into the collections of some of the world's best-known contemporary art dealers, might be Hornby Island's most sought after potter, but it is Heinz Laffin's plates, bowls and cups that we break bread over.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Book of George

The Comox Valley Art Gallery's The Book of George: The Life and Art of George Sawchuk included a "Canada Day Potluck" at the home of Sawchuk and his long-time co-vivant, Pat Helps. The event included back porch readings by Elizabeth Bachinsky and Terry Glavin, with parenthetic remarks by the exhibition's guest curator, Grant Shilling.

In addition to Sawchuk's backyard forest sculpture garden, visitors were invited inside his studio/workshop.

The following day I paid a visit to the CVAG, where Shilling toured me through the exhibition, much of it taken up with Sawchuk's "portables"

but also photographs and drawings, some of which Shilling brought out from the back room. Like this one:

This weekend I will write my review of The Book of George for Canadian Art, which should be online  around the middle of the month.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Poem By Peter Culley

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Peter Culley is among the contributors to Jesse Birch's Black Diamond Dust exhibition. Culley is a South Wellington-based poet, photographer and blogger whose poem "Fruit Dots" is also the title of a book he published with Tsunami Editions in 1986.