Friday, August 31, 2018

Fine Art

After Wednesday's dinner I took a walk through the neighbourhood to see who is still watering their garden. Eventually I ended up at Fraser Street, where I headed south to Kingsway and saw that the doors to the Hungarian Cultural Centre were open, with two signs outside advertising FINE ART.

I had never been inside the Hungarian Cultural Centre before, but it is not unlike most cultural centres I have seen, with a stage at one end, wainscotted walls and a high ceiling. The wood floor was new, which told me the centre is doing well as a rental venue.

But the artworks! Mostly painting, mostly figurative, with a couple of sculptors working in marble and granite. Not quite the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but not what we think of when we think of contemporary art, either.

A portrait by Zámbó Katalin:

A drawing by Jávor István:

An acknowledgement of sponsors:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Innocence Unprotected (1968)

My Makavejev film spree is coming to an end. From early films like Man is Not a Bird (1965) to Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967) to Innocence Unprotected (1968).

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Book Launch

Robin Mitchell Cranfield's cover for 9x11 and other poems like Bird, Nine, x and Eleven, to be launched September 11, 2018, 7 pm at Massy Books in Chinatown. On the back, some context from Dodie Bellamy:

Reading Michael Turner’s extraordinary 9x11 I was reminded of Christa Wolf’s Accident, how global crisis intensifies the daily—except that in Turner’s/our current state disruption has become the new norm. Disruption both terrifies and excites the poet—the stacked monotony of skyscrapers is broken both by the horror of people leaping out of buildings and by Mallarme’s thrilling abandonment of vertical structure in “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (1897).  All the reflections and contemplative rhymes add up to a holographic text that begs repeated reading.  “9x11” is a date, a disaster, and the measurements of the poet’s room.  For Turner architecture is a form of poetic divination, and poetry is a form of architecture.  Living in a city, community is inevitable—coffee house/apartment building/poetry peers—and despite his caution, Turner’s tense heart proves very big.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"Mark its container: X/ Two intersecting lines,/ A lattice point/ Of time"

I was reading up on the poet Pat Lowther when I came upon the house she lived in at the time of her death in September, 1975. No, let me try that again. I was reading up on the poet Pat Lowther when I came upon the house she lived in with her husband Roy and their children -- the same house where Roy, in a fit of rage, beat her to death before driving her body to Furry Creek in an attempt to hide it. Okay, one more time: I was reading up on the poet Pat Lowther when I came upon the house she lived in and noted, with much sadness, how similar it looks to my own.

Here is a poem from Pat Lowther's Time Capsule (1997):


Before the wreckers come,
Uproot the lily
From the hard angle of earth
By the house.
Crouch by the latticed understairs 
Rubbish and neglect
(The sudden lightning
Of sun
On your back
Between the opening
And shutting
Of the March-blown clothesline,
Rise and fall of the swift light
Like blows.)
Here a lifetime's
Slimy soapsuds
Curdle the earth,
In this corner
Under the stairs,
But have not killed
The woodbugs
Nor the moths' pupae
Which brush your fingers
As you dig
For the round, rich root,
The lily root
Which has somehow, senselessly,
Not been killed either
But has grown every year
An astonished babyhood,
An eye-struck Easter.
Pack it among the photographs,
The silver polish,
And the last laundry
Which will not again
Lift and shutter
For the shattering sun.
Mark its container: X
Two intersecting lines,
A lattice point
Of time
And the years' seasons.

Before the wreckers come,
Carry away
The lightning-bulb of sun.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Children and Dogs

While waiting for my banh at Kim Chau I noticed the above in a planter by the cashier. Where had I seen that before? Ah yes, the Coppertone Girl!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Rilke Poem

In his Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (1905), Rilke writes:

I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Rilke Letter

On August 3, 1907, Rilke wrote to the countess of Solms-Laubach:

For weeks, except for two short interruptions, I haven't pronounced a single word; my solitude has finally encircled me and I am inside my efforts just as the core is in the fruit.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Amy made over 30 jars of peaches, apricots and plum jam. The left over peach mash was shared with the chickens, who devoured it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

"Don't panic... we have bannock!"

We stopped for gas at Merritt on Sunday. Not much open, but lots of people wandering the streets, looking for brunch. The Kekuli Cafe was open, and we were thankful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A small room behind 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.

I slept late this morning, awaking this way, then turning that way; awaking that way, and this went on for some time.

The first time I awoke the room was bright, and I stared at the towers beside my table: one tower of novels, the other of non-novels, I guess.

This summer has been a summer of reading novels; or if not reading novels, then listening to them discussed on CBC radio, where the interviewers only want to talk about novels that parallel the life of their authors.

The author's novel. The novel's author.  Has someone tracked the passage from ficto-criticism to criti-fiction to autofiction yet?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Public Space

Some nicely-stencilled 11x17" graffiti going up at Broadway and Main these days. A welcome relief from those building-sized, up-with-people murals compliments of that mysterious organization known as Create Vancouver Society.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


Your sudden urge to buy a turntable is your body's way of saying you need to get out of your chair more often.

Friday, August 17, 2018

VAGue Notions

Can you hear it, the tolling of that bell? Slow and solemn, it is less a tolling than a knell.

In a city where everything appears to be temporary except for poverty and wealth, Vancouver city council has voted to allow the B.C. government to build 98 "temporary social housing" units on its Larwill Park property -- the proposed site of the new Vancouver Art Gallery.

Not sure what your experience has been with temporary social housing, but once a site is established, closing it can only come with conflict. Suddenly, the VAG is no longer a gallery waiting to quit its current building for an unbuilt one, but a gallery whose move will inevitably be linked to an eviction.

Can you imagine what the VAG's ground-breaking ceremony might look like, if indeed it raises the money for its new home?

Is this recent council decision payback after VAG director Kathleen Bartels's comment to the Vancouver Sun about never expecting to meet council's 2015 funding deadline

Dong ... Dong ... Dong ...

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Spent all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday applying the proper MLA style to my thesis project. At 4 p.m. yesterday I clicked the COMPLETE SUBMISSION button and, for the third time this month, await word on whether my formatting will be accepted or rejected.

It was while reading through my bibliography that I came upon the English publisher of Nathalie Sarraute's Tropisms (1963) -- John Calder. A moment later I was on the Web checking the spelling of "Sarraute" when I saw that a John Calder had just passed, and it was him!

Sarraute was 99 years old when she passed, Calder 91. Conclusion? Experimental writing is good for you!

Someone else has just passed -- Aretha Franklin. Here she is singing about a doctor who, as she tells us, helps her with her laryngitis -- but not before she thanks her accompanist, the band conductor and the band. Ever gracious, ever honest, forever in our memory. It is not the songs we sing, but the way we enter and exit their performances.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lloyd's Got Came

Yesterday's haircut at Amir's (5175 Victoria Dr.) was followed by a visit to the thrift store down the street. A couple of rare DVD's, including Sitting Bull (1954), which is noted for its "sympathetic" portrayals of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and the usual list of resisted purchases, stuff that makes better pictures than objects.

The image above is of Lloyd's "Came Calculator", a game from the looks of it -- and if that's the case, a misspelling, too. I am posting its image because I tried finding more information online but couldn't -- there is nothing.

Sitting Bull was the first independent film to be shot in Cinemascope. Lloyd's was among the first calculator-makers to use the LCD interface.

That's all I got.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Publicity Trumps Journalism

The Sun Wah Centre is now open for business(es). To celebrate, news services are running property manager B.C. Artscape's press release verbatim, as if it were their own.

Here are the opening two paragraphs of the CBC's July 29, 2018 story:

Here are the opening two paragraphs of the Toronto Star Vancouver's July 29, 2018 story, as attributed to Spencer Harwood:

It is not enough that agencies like B.C. Artscape are brokering studio and administration spaces for artists and galleries and related arts organizations, not when news of this venture is being "reported" identically in both public (CBC) and private (Torstar) news agencies.

As usual, it is a disregard for the way things happen in favour of them happening (regardless of the means) that saddens me. Shouldn't it be the way things happen, in the way a snowball rolled over grass and gravel contributes to our cultural experiences? By grass and gravel I mean the conversation that is inextricably part of these experiences, as criticism is to art.

What is B.C. Artscape's Sun Wah Centre, then, if it is going to permit itself to be spoken of in its own words? Where is the community dialogue in that?

Not a good start, B.C. Artscape. As for Sun Wah tenant Centre A, good for you for holding out and cutting your own deal with the landlord.

Monday, August 13, 2018


This firehose has been outside Amy and Sylvain's apartment for years, yet it looks brand new, like it was just unwrapped. Every time I leave their apartment I commune with it, count its folds, sometimes touch it. (Does someone dust it?) Amy told me Hannah has a similar response.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Colours of the Day

After how many days, it rains.

Someone texted earlier and described the light as "odd." It is odd. In a camera resistant, Agnes Martin kinda way.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

"Sitdown strikers in the Fischer body plant factory number three, Flint, Michigan" (1937)

Came upon this Sheldon Dick photo yesterday.

Phones were so much larger then.

Friday, August 10, 2018

"Leave Heaven Alone" (1989)

A song about Heaven, and leaving it alone, by my old friend Exene.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

War Than You Bargained For

Joseph Heller's Catch-22 was published on November 10, 1961.

James Jones's The Thin Red Line was published September 17, 1962.

Both are dreamy books (and movies, too), but Catch-22 is absurdist, while The Thin Red Line, though full of its own circularities, is closer to realism

I wonder if it were the other way around -- if The Thin Red Line was published (and read) first, and Catch-22 was published (and read) second. Realism followed by Absurdism? The realist would say that's not how life works, while the absurdist would say a realist would say that.

Here is a paragraph on Pfc Doll from Page 14 of The Thin Red Line:

Doll had learned something during the last six months of his life. Chiefly what he learned was that everybody lived by a selected fiction. Nobody was really what he pretended to be. It was as if everybody made up a fiction story about himself, and then he just pretended to everybody that that was what he was. And everybody believed him, or at least accepted his fiction story. Doll did not know if everybody learned this about life when when they reached a certain age, but he suspected that they did. They just didn't tell it to anybody. And rightly so. Obviously, if they told anybody, then their own fiction story about themselves wouldn't be true either. So everybody had to learn it for himself. And then, of course, pretend he hadn't learned it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Grete Stern

Grete Stern was a German-born Argentinian who studied at the Bauhaus and was partial to photo-montage. The work above recalls Sisyphus; yet unlike Sisyphus, who was condemned to forever roll a boulder up a hill (only to have it roll back down upon arrival), Stern's subject has it harder, for she is before her boulder, not behind it -- pulling it, not pushing it. Not only that, her boulder is square!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tea Light Holder

We were at IKEA on Sunday looking for kitchen utensils when we saw a tea light holder whose design includes a miniature Polygon Gallery and an out-sized version of Brian Jungen's Upside Down Flagpole (2018).

Monday, August 6, 2018

Two Line [Concrete] Poem

Literally, right?

I agree with Adorno: Popular culture (PC) infects -- and destroys -- everything it touches. Angela Carter alluded to this in The Sadeian Woman (1978), where she discourses on that popular (cultural) genre known as Pornography -- how it performs a burlesque of all it rubs up against (namely, the Mainstream). The Trump presidency is similar. As an emblem of popular culture (television personality), Trump is another nail in what is for some that coffin called Politics.

For years, popular culture maintained an embassy in my brain. At some point in my early-30s I came to my senses and gave its ambassador 24 hours to leave my body. The results took awhile to measure. Then measurement became a distraction, a market tool.

Just when did finance trump politics? That took awhile too. The 1970s? The Carter Administration's Transportation Deregulation Act? The 1980s? The Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk?

Ugh, it's early. How come I can't sleep at night?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Leaf Guard? Grate Protector?

It's not hard to figure out. Leaves fall, rains come, and our sewer grates get covered. As if that's not enough -- water pools, cars race through them, and people get splashed!

On Friday I noticed the City of North Vancouver is using the same device I saw the day before on Vancouver's Commercial Street (above), making this a provincial issue.

Is there something we don't know? Are rains coming? And if so, how hard?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Susan Hiller: Altered States

Finally made it to to the Polygon Gallery to see Susan Hiller: Altered States. A highlight of the exhibition is Hiller's Psi Girls (1999), which is described neatly here, compliments of Tate Modern.

Yesterday's visit was followed by a talk by LAXART director Hamza Walker, who used Psi Girls as a point of departure for a journey that took us from Raymond Petition to Miles Davis to his daughter's interest in a particular book that took them to Barnes & Noble's "Teen Paranormal Romance" section -- hence the name of his 2014 Renaissance Centre exhibition.

Friday, August 3, 2018

"That's what makes me sad: Life is so different from books."

The conversation begins with small talk before Marianne acknowledges their past. “Funny, our meeting like this again,” she says. In response, Ferdinand gets the years wrong since the last time they were together -- not “four years,” as he says, but “five-and-a-half,” according to Marianne. After that, Marianne asks if he is married, and Ferdinand says he is, but that he has “lost interest” in his wife. When Marianne asks why he doesn’t get a divorce, he replies that he is “too lazy.” Then Ferdinand utters the hinge line: “Like you pointed out once: To want something, you have to be alive.” More small talk, with Marianne providing a couple of lackluster responses, after which Ferdinand says, “You don’t feel like talking about yourself,” and Marianne says, “No.” Once Ferdinand establishes that Marianne is single, he shifts the conversation. “Mysterious as ever, I see,” and Marianne, though she never said it (Ferdinand did), replies, “Like I said, I just don’t like talking about myself.” Ferdinand says “Very well. Silence, then,” and Marianne turns on the radio.

I turn on the radio and, as in Pierre le fou, what comes out is a news report. But instead of a Viet Cong attack on a French garrison, it is a rolled over camper van on the Coquihalla.

“Awful, isn’t it? It’s so anonymous,” I say, like Marianne says to Ferdinand of the Viet Cong attack.

“What is?” says the hitcher, as Ferdinand says to Marianne.

“They say four passengers, and it means nothing to us,” I say, paraphrasing Marianne. “But each is a human being, and we don’t even know who they are. If it is parents and children, grandparents and children, a touring band or a carpool of cowboys. If they prefer books or video games. We know nothing about them. All they say is four people pulled from the wreckage.”

In Pierre le fou, Marianne follows her commentary with a discussion of photographs. “You see this frozen image of a guy with a caption underneath. Maybe he was a coward. Maybe he was a nice guy. But at the moment it was taken, no one can say who he really was, what he was thinking about. His wife? His mistress? The past? The future? Basketball? No one will ever know.”

“That’s life for you,” says Ferdinand.

(It is here that we see Ferdinand coming to life again. Just as Mona came back to life when she stepped from the ocean and said to the truck driver who picked her up -- “I am”) 

“That’s what makes me sad: Life is so different from books,” says Marianne. “I wish it were the same: clear, logical, organized. Only it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is. Much more than people think.”

“No, Pierrot.”

“For the last time, my name’s Ferdinand.”

“I know, but you can’t sing ‘My Friend Ferdinand’,” sings Marianne.

“Yes, you can. You just have to want to, Marianne.”

At this point we hear the first notes of the song that introduces the transition to the next scene -- the daylight on Marianne’s face, and then her and Ferdinand/Pierrot’s lives as impoverished apartment-dwelling revolutionaries. But in the meantime, Ferdinand/Pierrot and Marianne remain in the car...

“I want to,” says Marianne in response to Ferdinand/Pierrot.

Like the song, Marianne’s “I want to” indicates the verbal transition, with Ferdinand/Pierrot’s return to life, replying “Me too, Marianne” to everything Marianne desires. Not Ferdinand/Pierrot’s return to life in the singular sense, but a life in relation (to another).

Of course no such transition is available to the hitcher and me. And it is in this recognition that my reference is no longer toPierre le fou, nor Vagabond, but the “No” that periodically punctuates Sophie Calle’s commentary in Double Blind (No Sex Last Night) (1992): the story of another driving trip, this time across the United States, with Calle seeking her own relational transition, which her younger travelling companion, Greg Shephard, continually denies her -- until one night he doesn’t, and the tone of the work, like the car’s transmission, shifts.

I want a similar shift with the hitcher, but without the eros of Pierre le fou and Double Blind, and without the existential exasperation of Vagabond. Something closer to two artists moving through an art gallery, looking at the world through Art’s eyes, but who happen to be in a car driving up an old country road. “To want something, you have to be alive,” says Ferdinand, and I want to be alive right now, too, only it appears that in wanting to be alive I have to want something else, first, and that is a condition to which I have no control over, a condition that I alone cannot change.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

"Prelude and Fugue No. 20 in A Minor"

On Tuesday night Mark and I attended an on-stage talk and performance at the Chan Centre by pianist Angela Hewitt (who turned 60 last week!). I had never seen Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier (Book One) performed "live" before, so this was a treat.

"Most of Bach's music is 'dance music'," says Hewitt. Here she is performing the "Prelude and Fugue No. 20 in A Minor":

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"Where you from, man?"

We pass a farm house. In the driveway a middle-aged woman and a teenager play catch with a soft ball, while a middle-aged man and another teenager unload groceries from a red Ford pick-up.

The hitcher sees this too. She turns to me and I feel her stare. “Where are you from?” she asks, and I am reminded of that scene in Easy Rider when Luke Askew, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are sitting around a campfire smoking pot and Hopper asks Askew, whom Fonda and Hopper had picked up hitch-hiking earlier that day, where he is from. 

“It’s hard to say,” I tell her, like Askew told Hopper. Because it is true -- I am still trying to figure that out. Not so much where I am from but what I am from.

“What do you mean ‘It’s hard to say’?” she says patiently.

“It’s hard to say because,” as Askew told Hopper, “it’s a very long word.”

Still staring.

“A city,” I tell her.

“Which one?”

 “All cities are alike,” I tell her, as Askew told Hopper.

Unlike Hopper, she says, “No they’re not.”

And like Askew I tell her: “I’m from the city. A long way from the city. And that’s where I wanna be right now.”

She returns to the window. “Next left.”