Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Encore," Encore

One discovers all kinds of things while travelling, including books one spent time with, lined up on thrift store shelves.

I have read most of the stories in the Anguses' 1967 Contemporary American Short Stories, one of which is James Purdy's "Encore" (1957).

Upon my return I removed from "Encore" everything but the attributions, a "subtracted" work that behaves more like a poem than a story.


"Encore", Encore: Attributions, Adverbs and Attitude from James Purdy's 1957 Short Story

Merta told her brother

Spence said, wearily attentive

she said

her brother said

she continued, anxiously stepping in front of him to detain his going

Spence said, a kind of cold expressionless tone in his voice

she repeated, almost without emotion

Spence said

she cried as though seeing something from far back of dread and ugliness

Spence said

she accused him

she returned to the only subject which interested her

she said urgently again

Spence said

she said

Spence said, the irritation growing in his manner

she said vaguely, as though it was Spence who himself had mentioned him and thus brought him to mind

he paused on the word

she said

he said irritably

she said coldly angry

he told her

he said and he put on his hat now, which she looked at, he thought, rather critically and also with a certain envy

she forced herself to say at last

he said, and then winced at his own words

he hurried on with another speech

Merta said, pretending to find humour in his words

Gibbs said, putting down some books

she said in a booming and encouraging voice whose suddenness and loudness perhaps surprised even her

he told her

Merta said, trying hard to keep the disapproval out of her voice

Gibbs said, sitting down at the far end of the room and taking our his harmonica.

she said

she smiled, closing her eyes.

he wondered

she replied laughing

Gibbs said, and while she was saying Tommyrot! Gibbs went on

Merta said

he said with sudden fire

she began, white, and her mouth gaping a little, but Gibbs started to play on the harmonica again, cutting her off

Merta said above the sound of harmonica playing

he cried

she repeated, a little embarrassment now in her voice

he asked, putting down the harmonica with impatience

she said, a touch of sophistication in her voice, as if the coffee here were unusual and exotic also

he said

she said, her bitterness returning now against her will as she stood in the kitchen

he said belligerently

she feigned sweet casualness

Spence said loudly and indifferently

he told her

she cried. Then, catching herself, she said

he suddenly turned on her, and taking the dish of jello from her hand he put it down with a bang on the oilcloth covering the tiny kitchen table

he said in his stentorian voice

she said weakly

she said eating

Gibbs snapped at her

she wondered taking her spoon out of her mouth

she countered

he said, a bit weakly, and he took out the harmonica from his pocket, looked at it, and put it down noiselessly on the oilcloth

she said gaily

he said

she told him suddenly again with passion, forgetting everything but her one feeling now, and she put out her hand to him

she said

he said

she said

she said, and she brought out her handkerchief and wiped her eyes, making them, he saw, even older and more worn with the rubbing

he said, picking up the harmonica again

she said laughing a little. Then understanding his remark more clearly as her weeping calmed herself, she said, commanding again

she said hurriedly

she said

she said

he said, bored

she said

she said, suddenly very white and facing him

she said

she hurried on as if testifying before a deaf judge

she said now as though powerless to stop, words coming out of her mouth that she usually kept and nursed for her long nights of sleeplessness and hate

she said

she cried

she told him, quieting herself with a last supreme effort

he said

she said suddenly wiping away the tears, and tensing her breast to keep more of the torrent from gathering inside herself

she said

he said, and he got up and as he did so the harmonica fell to the linoleum floor

she said tightening her mouth

he began

he began again

she said, struggling to keep the storm within her quiet, the storm that now if it broke might sweep everything within her away, might rage and rage until only dying itself could stop it

she said

she said desperately

he said, deathly pale

she suggested

she said beating her hands with the heavy veins and the fingers without rings or embellishments

she said

he said

she commanded

Friday, August 29, 2014


Yet another picture taken through the window of a moving car, this one of a friend's 200 acre ranch at the northwest end of Lake Okanagan. To the left (southeast), desert hills; to the right, those associated with the Pacific coast.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


While driving west of Lillooet, I had time to reflect on the many wineries that line the highway between Osoyoos and Oliver. With all these wineries, and relatively few varietals, things are bound to get competitive. In an effort to get a leg up, some offer fine dining; others, such as Rustico, a no less market savvy form of hokum.

After purchasing bottles of their Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and Meritage, Rustico's cowboy-proprietor (and former Jim Pattison Group marketing executive) suggested a visit upstairs, where he operates a gallery -- "home to over sixty artists, most of 'em local." The painting below is my favourite.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Like Vernon (versus, say, Kelowna), Lillooet is a town that has more in common with what it was than what it wants to be. An example can be found in the building above: a stuccoed-over structure that, through a careful application of paint, attempts to revive its past.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Not sure what motivated this YouTube post. Nor am I sure the person who posted it is bothered by his discoveries.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Burrowing Owl

Like many established wineries, Burrowing Owl, located between Osoyoos and Oliver, has a restaurant and a retail outlet. While driving towards it, I was reminded of a similar structure, this one from film:

Saturday, August 23, 2014


The Last Vegas of fruit stands.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pink Moon (1972)

In 1999, Volkswagen announced they would be using Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" to "drive" their Cabriolet marketing campaign. Although I am not sure how this translated into Cabriolet sales, it did wonders for the Drake catalogue.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pink Poem

At bottom is an excerpt from a text by Karen Henry on the artist Kate Craig, where mention is made of Mary Ready, singer.


These performances took place during the height of the sexual revolution: for the first time, the pill provided women the opportunity to enjoy sex without the natural consequences of pregnancy. Along with the empowerment of sexual freedom came the renewed politics of feminism. The ethos of the time encouraged participatory action and women were working together to organize political and social activities. This new stridency was often “anti-feminine” in an effort to distance women from the overly acculturated terms: pink for girls, blue for boys, dolls for girls, guns for boys. Kate, wryly contrary and ever the individual, turned her collecting interests to an exploration of the colour pink. She collected pink household and fashion items and made her own pink clothes. At one point she had her hair cut in a spiral around her head. Though this was not a performance character, it was a sustained activity in line with the simple Zen performances of the Fluxus movement and French artist Robert Filliou who spent time at the Western Front during this period. Kate was not a performer who loved the stage. Kate was more comfortable integrating performance into her everyday life. It was the context in which she lived, and performance represented a deliberate lifestyle choice. The “pink poem” culminated in 1980 in the videotape Straight Jacket. In the tape, Kate models an intricately tailored straight jacket that she made of pink satin. The soundtrack, a sing-song performed by Mary Ready ( written by Kate with music by Hank Bull) revolves around the theme of “inside-out.” Given the constriction of the garment and its sensual surface, itʼs hard not to see this reflection on the significance of pink in a feminist context, though the tape and the ongoing work ultimately associates the colour with a female sensuality that is bound by social constraints not limited to heterosexual politics. For one thing, Kate had spent the last ten years surrounded by a creative cadre of gay men that practiced its own forms of misogyny 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Plastic Amp

Yesterday, while shopping at Famous Foods, I bumped into Annastacia McDonald (fourth from the left; or middle, if you count the reflection), a member of an art gang that co-curator Allison Collins and I have spent the past year researching towards an exhibition this January. The name of this gang (to paraphrase Talking Heads) is Mainstreeters.

Although Annastacia has refused our request to take part in an on-camera interview, she is generous when it comes to informal, and indeed spontaneous, meetings. On this occasion, she told me about the origin of Plastic Amp, a project she was part of in the mid-1970s.

According to Annastacia, she, Mary Ready and Paul Wong were hitch-hiking to a party in North Vancouver (after having dropped acid at Robert's Creek) when they found themselves inside a drugstore. It was while floating through the aisles that they came upon a selection of small plastic toys; and near these toys, a supply of name-tag pins.

Moments later the three were in the parking lot, where they heated up the toys and affixed them to the pins. Once assembled, they pinned the toys to their garments and, upon entering the party, Syd Morozoff shrieked, "Oh my god where did you get those I want one!"

From that night on, whenever Annastacia, Mary or Paul went out, they brought with them their pins, which they would sell under the company name Plastic Amp. For the longest time Allison and I did not know what Plastic Amp stood for, until yesterday, when Annastacia told me that the "amp" part stands for their names -- Annastacia, Mary and Paul.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Boyhood (2014)

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in an air-conditioned movie theatre in Chinatown.

The film was Richard Linklater's Boyhood, and true to the style of the writer-director's earlier generational films (Slacker, 1991 and Dazed and Confused, 1993), it moves slowly, undramatically, closer to the lives of those who keep the world at bay than those who use it as their trampoline

Most remarkable about Boyhood is that it was made over a twelve year period. Throughout this time we see the "boy" grow from a first-year-of-school six-year-old to an eighteen-year-old on his first day of college, one whose "real life" self is as evident to us as the fictional self he has grown to occupy.

Although I have a number of positive things to say about Boyhood, it only became of interest to me around the 145th minute (the film is 170 minutes long), when it appeared that this "real life" boy was as indifferent to the film he had committed to twelve years earlier as I was to sitting there watching him.

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Rainy Summer Days

Summer rains move us indoors. Or they keep us there. For those who find air-conditioned movie theatres too cold, there are art galleries, where the temperature remains constant because their insurers insist on it.

The Vancouver Art Gallery currently has an exhibition that should appeal to those interested in moving pictures -- Lost In the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. Above it, a floor of recent acquisitions. Below it, a fifty-year-old boy's bedroom.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"The moon is no door"

In "The Moon and The Yew Tree", Sylvia Plath writes:

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.

The other night, while staring at the moon, I saw an elevator button, the one I press to take me to my dentist. Or years earlier, the one that connected me to my father's apartment, when he lived at the west end of Nelson Street

and I would call on him on Saturdays, to play tennis, or as the years passed, to walk to the Denman Place Mall, where we would sit inside the cafe's fenced-in patio and smoke cigarettes at a table round enough for others to join us

that imperious older couple from Vienna, who strolled in so tall and well-dressed, their blonde hair greying at the same rate, or the loud-mouthed tanned couple in sporting gear who ended most conversations with the insistence that their detractors be "taken out and shot"

or the woman who sometimes served us, whom I came to know outside my visits, Heather, who was nice to me in ways that suggested the man I would become --

all gone now, dead or moved on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How High the Moon

Before rock 'n' roll, the electric guitar.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Last Night's Super Moon

My favourite of last night's time-lapsed super moons, courtesy of Visual Impact Studios.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hot August Night(s)

One of popular music's great "live" albums.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Corn Harvest (August) (1565)

If the year begins again, it is for me the day after Labour Day, not January 1st, that marks this new beginning.

Perhaps this is why August has always felt like a month of Sundays, even though we count Sunday, not Monday, as the first day of the week.

Thursday, August 7, 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.

Summer heat is cumulative: today's temperature is 23-degrees, but it feels as hot as it was last week, when it was 24.

As for the source of that heat, the sun, it is lower, and its glow over that which is green is more golden than it was in July.

A couple days ago, while walking in the neighbourhood, I spoke with Martha, sitting in the shade of her front porch.

We spoke about all sorts of things, but she noted the difference between the last day of July and the first day of August.

I agree -- the transition is dramatic. Maybe the greatest transition of the year.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Composition V (1914)

An early Mondrian, from the first year of the First World War.

Monday, August 4, 2014

"It's no big deal"

Yesterday's video features an image grab of Elton John before a Mondrianian grid, but with intermediate colours, not primaries. (If Mondrian loathed green, imagine what he thought of chartreuse!)

Today's image is a still from Katy Perry's visual art-themed video for her current single,  "This is How We Do."

Here is the video.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


An artist wins her party's nomination for public office.

Shortly after, a blogger posts a video she made to promote a play she created for the Fringe Festival, but under a banner that focuses not on the play's larger theme (being single) but on an ostensibly singular activity (masturbation).

Shortly after that, the artist withdraws her candidacy, claiming that the media attention would distract from her party's attempt to elect its members.

What is key here is the conversation between the artist/candidate and her party, a party that, according to the artist/candidate, told her in great detail of the consequences of her remaining in the race.

When asked just now -- just this minute by CKNW -- if she would run as an independent, the artist/candidate spoke of setting up a series of public forums based on issues of individual agency, adding at the end that she was, at this moment, undecided.

As to the question of the artist/candidate's suitability for public office, I would say yes, she is, based on her decision to step down, which is a pragmatic decision, and pragmatism is the dominant political philosophy of our time.

Would I vote for this candidate if she were to run as an independent? Yes. Not because I prefer independent candidates, but because I favour politicians with the fortitude to take on that which has been dealt them. Because life -- and politics -- is like that, and who doesn't want their politicians to be amongst the living?

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Be a mind-sticker"

Before the introduction of Diet Coke in 1982, Coca Cola's diet cola was called Tab.