Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the News

The story is told of how the Americans went to the zoo one day and, while watching the donald, its innocent, cynical, disaffected (take your pick) electorate fell into the donald's waters. Although the donald rescued the electorate, what happened next appeared as though it might not be in the interests of those running this zoo, and so, as one might expect of any unexpected situation that is taken advantage of until it is no long advantageous to do so (think of planes flying into buildings), zoo officials took out the donald as they had done in the past with the john, the malcolm, the robert and the martin.

Monday, May 30, 2016

"Rocket-bye Baby" (1956)

Another background layout by Ernie Nordli, this one from a Chuck Jones Warner Bros production of "Rocket-bye Baby" (1956). You can see it here. Watch for the drone at 4:45!

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Awful weather yesterday, but only because I was caught in it!

Too many days and nights indoors to not do anything about it.

Attended the Capilano Review AGM in the afternoon and an exhibition by Derya Akay and Anne Low at Lucien Durey's Haunt that evening.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


A nice line -- and image -- from a post by sitivi.blogspot.ca: "Here every child knows white ptarmigan hides spring feathers."

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Ptarmigan Vase

The Ptarmigan Vase was made in New York City by Tiffany & Co. head jewellery designer George Paulding Farnham in 1906. The vase, which was reported on here and here, is made of metals (copper, silver and gold) from a Selkirk, BC mine that Farnham had a share in. Five years ago the National Gallery of Canada saw enough narrative suet on this bit of kitsch to pay Sotheby's over five times its asking price.

For those interested, you can visit the vase at the Audain Art Museum, where it is on loan for the next three years. Whoever thought to place it next to a Bill Reid, well, the unruly side of me gets the joke (if it was intended as such, which it wasn't, I'm sure), while the compliant part takes issue.

Question: Now that the importance of mining, forestry and fishing have receded somewhat in our provincial and municipal economies, why is no one making art with or about our current engine -- real estate? Where is the real estate stage-play? Where is the real estate feature film? The novel? The song cycle? The visual art exhibition? Are commissioning agents so far up the ass of this current "freak show" housing market as to put a kibosh anything that might draw further attention to it?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

from Nathalie Sarraute's "Tropism V"

Underneath this heat there was a great void, silence, everything seemed in suspense: the only thing to be heard, aggressive, strident, was the creaking of a chair being dragged across the tiles, the slamming of a door. In this heat, in this silence, it was a sudden coldness, a rending.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I wish I could remember when it happened, though the date is unimportant. What is important is that it happened, and that I was with my friends, who were only just contracting their illnesses -- politics, economics, drugs, AIDS...

We had heard about the satellite, though it was no big deal. A broken Soviet (Russian?) satellite would be re-entering the Earth's atmosphere and, in doing so, burning up.

I am not sure if we had piled into R's car, or if we arrived in two cars. Again, it doesn't matter. Point is we were at the beach -- the one between Spanish Banks and Foreshores -- but not Tower Beach. We had made a fire, smoked some pot, and had allowed things to settle in, get dark.

O, who had a long lean body and who worked as a lifeguard at one of the downtown beaches, kept talking about the VPD's new hovercraft, how "incredibly quiet" it was, how they would be using it soon, while B, his life-long tormentor, kept doubting him, goading him.

P left the circle of our fire to rinse something out. On his way back I saw it. Over his shoulder. A long orange line in the sky. It was moving quickly.

"Look!" I pointed.

P looked over his shoulder. Then he said it, "The satellite!" and everybody looked.

Coming towards us -- the satellite behind them -- were four VPD cops. P was now facing them. He implored the cops to look, but there was no way these cops were going to turn their backs on us when it was their job to give us a hard time, put out our fire and sprinkle out our dope.

Later, in Bino's over coffee, I overheard O remind B for the twenty-second time how "incredibly quiet" that hovercraft was, and B just sitting there, looking sicker for the silence that engulfed him.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Main Street

When sitting before the computer is useless, for whatever reason, I go for a walk. And so it was that I set out yesterday for Main Street, where I walked up one side of it and down the other.

This pop-up was popular. Lots inside for the gentleman camper. Of course many of this shop's items will come in handy when most of Vancouver is living outdoors.

Book Warehouse got its start selling books that nobody wanted -- at least not for the 40% mark-up other bookstores were tacking onto them.

This unfortunately titled book is selling for less than the cost its publisher had sought for it.

A few weeks ago I saw in the book bin outside the bookstore across the street from this light post (just left of the green awning)

this book.

Further up the block, at the YWCA Thrift Store, someone with an eye for art, design, fashion and humour is dressing the windows.

At the most southernly point of my walk (Refind was closed) I passed Cottage Bistro, where a couple years ago I stopped late one Tuesday night in search of something to eat, only to find the sixty-something house band struggling to play a song based on a few bars hummed by a tipsy sixty-something patron while the rest of the mostly sixty-something crowd was trying to pick each other up. It was beautiful, man.

For a brief moment in 1981, most of Vancouver looked like this. It, too, was beautiful.

Here is a new statue outside a building whose upstairs advocates on behalf of burn survivors, and whose downstairs is still for lease.

Apart from its dedication, there is no text to accompany this statue. But if there was, it might read like this:

"I'm hungry."

"I'm sorry, Mr Firefighter, but my job is not to feed you but to appear thankful that you have saved me from someone's insurance scam."

And now back to work -- writing a text on, of all things, the Mainstreeters. Below is one of them -- Annastacia -- who, if I am lucky, will be at my local the next time I don't feel like cooking.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Filthy Cloth At Liberty Bakery

Does melancholy have a palliative stage?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Victoria Day Long Weekened

Yesterday I drove up to Victoria Drive, where my barber, Amir, has his shop. It did not occur to me that Victoria Drive might mean something different on the Victoria Day long weekend, nor was there anything going on to suggest such a difference.

After my haircut I walked south a few blocks and bought a banh mi ga at Saigon Banh and six plugs of lobelia for $1.99. On the way back, I stopped at a thrift store and purchased a DVD of Gavin Froome and Mike Bernard's Coast Modern (2012) documentary on modern west coast architecture.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


From the age of fourteen until I left home for good at eighteen I would awake most Saturday mornings at 9 a.m., have a quick bowl of Raisin Bran then walk northwest from my mother's house at 40th and Laburnum to the bus stop at 37th and Arbutus. From there I would catch the Number 16 that ran north on Arbutus, east on Broadway, then north again on Granville.

The first stop after crossing the Granville Street Bridge is Drake Street; the second stop, the one where I transferred to the Number 6, is Davie Street.

From the terminus of the Number 6 at Denman I would walk north to the Denman Place Inn, where I would meet my father and whoever he had gathered with at an Austrian-style cafe that had a curly white iron fence around it, as if its patio was outside, in the Alps, not inside, in a mall.

Whatever my father and I had arranged to do that day, it would begin at that cafe. Sometimes for a cup of coffee; other times for a half dozen cups. I learned so much about life and love and bullshit over these coffees, and met so many remarkable people, from Holocaust survivors to African safari guides, from rock 'n' roll singers to former Nazi paratroopers.

At the southeastern end of the Denman Place Inn is a pub that I visited recently. Comox Street Long Bar & Grill is due to close this November, to be replaced with who knows what. In the meantime, the pub continues to exude a strong neighbourhood vibe, a whole lotta love that, incidentally, was the biggest hit at karaoke that night. Unfortunately I do not have a recording of that performance, although the one posted below is close.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Black Lodge

At the confluence of 15th Avenue and Kingsway lies the Black Lodge, a real-life play on the "extradimensional" in David Lynch's Twin Peaks and a nice place to wind down at if the staff are not pushing too much 'tude. It's been what -- three years since the Black Lodge opened? -- and the only thing its operators have lost sight of is the audio, which, in the beginning, was kept behind the bar and thoughtfully woven into the fabric of its surroundings, but is now, at its worst, the kind of 30 watts-a-side, speaker-driven rawk music better suited to hurling one's body through space than relaxing over a bowl of chili and a mountain fresh can. * > *

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Names and Naming

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun is leading a drive to rename the province of British Columbia. Although I have not spoken to Lawrence about this, I have heard from sources that the most popular entry so far is Cactus Club.

Another instance of our replacement image-text economy concerns the Bank of Canada's competition to put a picture of a woman on a banknote. So far the leading candidate is activist Nellie McClung.

Finally, since some people cannot stop referring to the content of Stan Douglas's Abbott & Cordova 7 August 1971 (2008) as "the Gastown Riot of 1971," how about the more accurate, albeit more cumbersome, Gastown Police Action?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Fence

It is sad to keep seeing the destruction of so many well-appointed, architecturally unique buildings in Vancouver, just as it is sad to keep hearing about a lack of affordable housing for those who, because of the city's "freak show" housing market, can no longer afford to live here, let alone come here to take a job.

Though the destruction of some of Vancouver's housing stock allows for larger buildings, with more room inside them, this doesn't necessarily translate into an increase in affordable housing.

I am not saying anything new here, nor do I feel better for having said it.

The picture up top is of a structure -- a fence -- that will surely be torn down once the property on which it stands is developed. When that day comes -- when that fence is torn down -- I will miss it, for it is so much less than a fence to me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories has garnered quite a bit of publicity. On Sunday, the Globe and Mail published a piece that features an exchange between Yuxweluptun and reporter Marsha Lederman. The piece begins with Yuxweluptun grabbing the glasses from Lederman's face:

“Those are your glasses, right? I have them, they belong to you. I’m using them, they’re yours. They’re in my possession, you own them. I’m benefiting from it, but they’re yours,” he says, in a prolonged analogy where my glasses stand for the land, I am the First Nations and he is the government – the thief holding my property.
“I have it. You own them. I’m using them. I’m destroying whatever I want but you can watch. That is the usufruct. So every day that I have your glasses I am going to usufructure every right you [have]. I’m going to fruck you every day. I am the frucker that’s frucking you around. So what is your problem? You’re trying to get your glasses back. But if you go and get a lawyer maybe we can talk for the next 200, 500 years about your rights. Because I don’t recognize them.”

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Marguerite Duras

Early in Mark Polizzotti's translation of Writing (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), Marguerite Duras writes:

My room is not a bed, neither here nor in Paris nor in Trouville. It's a certain window, a certain table, habits of black ink, untraceable marks of black ink, a certain chair. And certain habits that I always maintain, wherever I go, wherever I am, even in places where I don't write, such as hotel rooms…

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Joe Fortes

Joe Fortes is an important person in the history of Vancouver.

In 1900, after years of voluntarily patrolling English Bay and teaching many of the city's children how to swim, local officials made him Vancouver's first lifeguard.

Prior to 1900, Fortes spent the warmer months of the year living in a tent.

Once he became a lifeguard, he moved into house at the foot of Bidwell Street at the 1700 block of Beach Avenue.

Friday, May 13, 2016


"Isn't" that where Ron "lives"?

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I was early for the People's Co-op Bookstore board meeting, so I wandered about the shop looking at what's new in new and used.

It did not take long before I came upon one of my favourite book covers of all time: George Clutesi's Potlatch (Sidney: Gray's Publishing, 1969).

As I often do when I come upon a book I like, I open it.

For those unfamiliar with the term, to "strip" a book refers to the return of an unsold trade paperback to the publisher. Rather than return the entire book, and accrue additional shipping charges, only the cover is returned (proof of non-purchase), rendering the remainder of the book unsellable.

Speaking of the People's Co-op Bookstore, on May 19th the shop will host a reading featuring two friends of the late Peter Culley -- Lee Ann Brown and Elisa Ferrari. For more information, call 604 253  6442.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


On Monday morning I walked down to the Broadway and Commercial Skytrain Station en route to the West End, where I would meet Amy and we would drive to Whistler to see the Audain Art Museum and get a tour of the just-completed upstairs.

Here is a very nice Rufino Tamayo (Sandias, 1955) from the Audain's Mexican Muralists exhibition:

I crossed 12th Avenue just as workers were bringing down the wall between Bandita's and the former Katmandu Restaurant. Bandita's is now twice as big. Hopefully the line-ups will be twice as short (if at all).

Yesterday I drove to the Museum of Anthropology for the opening of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territory, a survey show of the artist's work since the early 1980s. What a madhouse! I pulled into the Rose Garden Parkade and saw a very long line of very old people standing before the "automated" ticket purchasing machine. Resisted the temptation to think, This will take forever.

There could have been a thousand people at MOA. The closest I could get to Lawrence's speech appears courtesy of my phone's Edit-Crop function (had to zoom-in twice!).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

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.

The morning sun arrives on my west wall via a temporary metallic surface applied to the renovated north wall of the building across the street.

The walls of my room are white, but the colour the sun brings with it on this particular morning is transcendent, a cross between orange and gold.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother Maybelle Carter

Born Maybelle Addington in 1909, Mother Maybelle Carter was an innovative guitarist and one-third of the Carter Family, a band she formed in the 1920s with her cousin Sara and Sara's husband A.P.

Together with A.P.'s brother Ezra, Mother Maybelle had three daughters -- Helen, Valerie June and Anita -- with whom she performed until her death in 1978.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Honorary Doctorate Degree Program

Emily Carr University of Art + Design does not have a PhD program, but it does have an Honorary Doctorate Degree ProgramThis year, ECUAD is awarding Honorary Doctorates to an innovative artist, a generous gallerist and...the head of its capital campaign?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Field Guide

Flora verso, fauna recto
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines
Ding, ding, dong. Ding, ding, dong.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Gallerist

When I was younger (in high school) we smoked a lot of pot and played a lot of board games. If the pot was strong, we would skip Risk for something light, like Masterpiece, which bills itself as "The Art Auction Game."

The Gallerist is a new art-themed board game that uses a number of different "actions" to accumulate points. As such, it has more in common with Risk than it does with Masterpiece.

Here is a "rules overview" of The Gallerist that concludes with the line "The player with the most money is declared the winner."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Will I ever visit an art museum again and not hear someone suggest to someone else that Art and the Art World are synonymous, or are those days over? Is Contemporary Art now an atmosphere that exists independent of what we think of when we think of space and time? A Strictly Ballroom land mass, a Devil's Island of the mind?

"Again and again the same situation…"

During a recent walk through a large art museum I overheard a fifty-something woman tell her adult daughter that the Art World that administers Art -- that is Art -- is "sick. It's gross. It's just like high school."

Yes, the history of Art is full of cliques, movements and isms -- popular people and invisible people -- but divisions like these are endemic to any gathering, be it in politics or in economics, in churches or in moques.

But what if the Art World is high school, at least as middle-aged people remember high school? Are there equivalencies? Is it worth our while to go down that road?

In the high school that is the Art World, then, would the artists be the jocks?

 Would the curators be the cheerleaders?

And would the critics be the yearbook committee?

As for the gallerists, would they be the teachers?

 And the collectors -- would they be the substitute teachers?