Saturday, February 28, 2015

Queen Noor

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan was born Lisa Halaby in Washington, DC, in 1951. She attended Princeton University, where she played ice hockey and received a Bachelor of Arts in architecture and urban planning. While working for Royal Jordanian Airlines as the company's Director of Facilities, Planning and Design she met Hussein of Jordan, and in 1978 became his fourth wife and queen consort.

Friday, February 27, 2015

"No Prisoners!"

One hundred years ago, when the oil-thieving English lied to the Arabs in their quest to push the Ottoman Turks off the Arabian peninsula.

And now England's up in arms about a guy its media have dubbed "Jihadi John"?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"

I don't remember Yusuf Islam performing this song during his Cat Stevens days.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Western Dissidents

In October, 2014, CNN asked, "Why is ISIS so successful at luring Westerners?" and proceeded to give us five reasons why -- none of which include a dissatisfaction with Western life.

When will the West's big media outlets make Western malaise the focus of their coverage? But if one or more of them has -- and if you, dear reader, have knowledge of this -- please provide me with links, and I will post them.

Monday, February 23, 2015

North Main

The Mainstreeters roamed the southern part of Main Street. At the north end was Chinatown, Hastings Street and Japantown.

In this 1975 National Film Board documentary we meet Vancouver Police Sergeant Bernard "Whistling Bernie" Smith, whose beat was a two block stretch at Hastings and Main.

Note the red-and-black checked work shirt at 4:34.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Gangs of Vancouver

In 1972 the Rolling Stones announced that their North American tour would begin in Vancouver. As we learn in Robert Frank's film Cocksucker Blues (1973), fans were upset with the high ticket prices the band was charging, and "riots," such as the one pictured above involving members of the Clark Park Gang (notable for their red-and-black checked work shirts), were common.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Gang Colours

Annastacia McDonald (who made the above garment) and Paul Wong will lead a tour of Main Street today. Interested parties will meet at 2PM outside Helen's Grill at the SE corner of Main and King Ed.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I Am Woman (1971)

Australia's Helen Reddy was a huge presence on the pop charts in the early 1970s, only to be eclipsed by another Australian singer, Olivia Newton-John, as the decade wore on.

In researching the chart success of these artists, I became distracted by a string of Dutch bands who had North American hits. Not just hits, but songs whose structure, instrumentation and arrangements differed wildly from your standard 12-bar blues-based fare.

The first is George Baker Selection's "Little Green Bag" (1969), a song revived by Quentin Tarantino in his film Reservoir Dogs (1992). The performance below (likely a promotional film put together by the band's record label) is just as hostile.

The second is Tee Set's "Ma Belle Amie" (1969), fronted by the good-natured Peter Tetteroo. Here, the band performs on an Italian variety show (only the vocals are "live") whose dance floor looks like it was painted by Peter Schuyff.

My third and final selection is Mouth and MacNeal's "How Do You Do? (1972), a song that was all over the radio when I was a nine-year-old summering at Camp Elphinstone. If aired today, this performance would have its producers arrested for child abuse.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Soy Cuba (1964)

Russians playing pre-revolutionary WASP yanquis on the rooftops of Havana in one of the finer continuous shots in modern cinema. Also notable is the musical transitions, from joyous big band swing to discordant bop to something altogether underwater.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Je suis une image (2014)

Valérie Blass: My Life at Artspeak is among the more engaging exhibitions currently up in Vancouver. Lots of relationships at work, some more than others. Here is my review.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Propositions on Public Space

The decreasing presence of pay phones is explained in relation to the increasing consumption of relatively inexpensive mobile phone packages. A similar thing began to happen to pornographic movie theatres in the early-1980s, after the introduction of the VCR.

The decreasing presence of public benches is a question that does not get asked enough -- at least not enough to have an answer handy. Nowadays, if you want to sit down in downtown Vancouver, you have to buy something.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Anti-Sitting Devices

Designed to prolong walking, non-stopping.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tales from the Market State

The item below ("Vancouver homeless man gives reality check on shelter, hunger") was part of yesterday's CKNW news cycle:

Liza Yuzda

Vancouver homeless man gives reality check on shelter, hunger
We hear so many calls to help people living on the street in Vancouver.
But one local man, who’s been homeless for years, says there is already so much assistance available, and no one’s taking advantage of it.
“People who say they are hungry down here are crazy. They are lying. I can’t walk 10 feet without somebody offering me food.”
Bill says he thinks many people standing with their hands out are playing the hungry, helpless act, and it frustrates him.
“The supposed homeless on Robson street are begging for change. (A guy) makes enough to go do his drugs. He does them and he comes back and sits there again.”
Bill says his same feeling of frustration led to the recent incident on Robson Street where a Tim Horton’s owner poured water on a homeless man and his belongings.
Bill says that was wrong, but he gets it.

While I appreciate CKNW giving voice to the "homeless," this item does not sit well with me.
Why are we not given Bill's last name? If Bill did not want it used, why are we not told this?
Are Bill's "years" of homelessness enough to make him an expert on homelessness?
As for the timing of this item, it was obviously brought on by the Tim Horton's incident. But was it brought on simply to soften what happened there?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Food Whisperer

I have contacted Gordon Ramsey and asked him to help with the re-opening of Liberty Bakery.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sunday, Sunday

The sun made a rare appearance yesterday. In celebration, I drove to the Belkin Gallery, where I took in the Tom Burrows exhibition.

The exhibition display -- at least the work in the Belkin's largest (partitioned) gallery -- takes place over three movements: Tom's earliest projects, some of which were realized at the Maplewood Mudflats; more expressive sculptures from the 1970s; and the work he is perhaps best known for, his polymer resin panels.

Here is an attempt to represent one of Tom's earliest works, entitled Mud Ring (c. 1960s):

Here is a link to that same work at the Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties website.

The remainder of the exhibition can be found in the aisle, where archival materials concerning Tom's squatters shack at Maplewood and the home he built at Hornby Island can be found; in the print gallery to the north of it, evidence of a commissioned study Tom undertook on global squatter culture.

From the Belkin, I returned east to Main Street to shop for my supper. Because the sun was still out, I parked some distance from my destination and walked south.

In the windows of the still-un-re-opened Liberty Bakery hang a series of condensation paintings:

Across the street at Smoking Lily, a video loop of the Mainstreeters at Wavenrock:

And finally, Ye Olde Real Estate Office Shoppe:

Once home, I pruned the mulberry I purchased fifteen years ago this spring from Glenn Lewis's Flagrant Flora:

And that, apart from a quiet supper and a few more pages of Bachelard's The Poetics of Space, was my day.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Western Front (1973-)

A rather odd 2013 news story that confuses the age of the Western Front building (completed in 1922) with the age of the artist group who purchased the building in 1973 and renamed it. Odder still is that the artist speaking on behalf of the building is not one of the remaining artist-landlords, but a water colourist who paints "heritage" buildings in the romantic tradition.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Holy Hum

On June 13, 2014 Holy Hum performed at Kingsgate Mall as part of Casey Wei's Kingsgate Mall Happenings. The video above is from a Holy Hum soundcheck. Not sure where the performance took place, or when, but it preceded Holy Hum's Kingsgate Mall performance by at least a year.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Scrivener's Monthly

Next week at the Western Front Casey Wei will screen a video she made of her Kingsgate Mall Happenings project, with a "response" by yours truly. The event is framed within the open ends of the Scrivener's Monthly series -- "public presentations that explore the space between material practices and spoken words: a periodical that talks."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"You Don't Own Me" (1963)

This song could have been written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Nice that the set design for this performance features a fire escape (0:59).

Monday, February 2, 2015


Once upon a time photographer Patrick Cariou published a book called Yes, Rasta (2000) that features photographs of Jamaica's Rastafarian community. In 2008, artist Richard Prince mounted an exhibition entitled "Canal Zone" that includes alterations to thirty of Cariou's photographs. Cariou sued for infringement, Prince countered with "fair use." The 2011 case ruled in Cariou's favour, but Prince appealed. The 2013 case decided that Prince's works were indeed "transformative" and overturned the original decision, save for five photographs, which were remanded to a lower court. In 2014 Cariou and Prince settled.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

40 … 30 … 24 ...

"I hope Janet Cardiff has a good lawyer," tweets Jason Farago in response to Björk's upcoming MoMA exhibition, which features a "new commission" that Farago believes to be an infringement on Cardiff's Forty-Part Motet (2001).

Here is how the MoMA (?) describes Björk's commission:

Yet as Björk recorded the album, "Black Lake" took careful technological shape. Along with "Stonemilker," it is part of a "new commission" of the MoMA exhibition. At the sessions, each of the 30 string players was individually miked; MoMA is building a room with an array of speakers that will allow visitors to approach each track separately for a spatial experience of the music.

Not sure I agree that Cardiff has a case against Björk, no more than I believe that Kandinsky owns the triangle or that Albers owns the square.

Seems a better case might be made for (or against, in this instance) Douglas Gordon's treatment of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).