Thursday, February 28, 2019

Words, Ideas, Attitudes

Yesterday came and went quickly. I thought things might slow down for the testimonies (Cohen in the States, Wilson-Raybould in Canada) and their responses (Trump in Vietnam, Trudeau in Canada), but they didn't. Words dissolved into colours, gasses, atmospheres. Audacity trumped high-mindedness.

Laressa Dickey is a poet who was born in Tennessee and is now based in Berlin. Recently I came upon an interview she did with Dr. Caroline Edwards from the University of Surrey, UK.

Here is their beginning:

What is your understanding of American poetry in its broadest sense? How do you feel your writing takes part in that?
I’m not an expert on American poetry, but I’d say two aspects that come to mind are size of voice and sense of place. I grew up reading Emily Dickinson—thanks to my mother who gave me a book of her poems for my 10th birthday. In a broad sense, for me, the voice of American poetry ranges from Dickinson’s quiet, “nobody” voice to Whitman’s “let me take up all the space” voice. You realize this is a gross generalization. Somehow voice and place/space are related. But it’s possible this connection is also true in other countries. Turns out I’m not an expert on those either.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

3215 Kingsway

Another cinema-cum-church.

Below is a picture of the church when it was the Collingwood Cinema (2012-2013). Before that, the Raja (mid-2000s-2012). Prior to that, the theatre was owned and operated by Odeon, who opened it in 1939 and re-named it the Haida in 1966.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Prescience is valued in a culture partial to clairvoyance (astrology, tarot) and capital accumulation (speculative activities like real estate, bitcoin, block chains). Godard's films (like Le Petit Soldat, 1960, above) are full of insights into what's coming, what came and what's coming back (again).

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Bert's Automotive

Located at the 800-block of Kingsway, Bert's Automotive has been "serving the Pacific Northwest since 1957." Although I walk past Bert's all the the time, I had never noticed what's on the east side of its awning until yesterday. Not just the top part of the awning, but the bottom part, where the word "rear" is used a second time -- presumably to mean something different.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Third Friday Reading Series

Aaron Vidaver launched (for the second time?) his Counter-Interpellation, Volume One (Vancouver: CUE Books, 2018) at the People's Co-op Bookstore last night. Also on the bill was Natalie Knight, who was unavailable due to her commitment to social housing activism in Maple Ridge.

Standing in for Natalie was Third Friday programmer Danielle LaFrance, who explained Natalie's reasons for not taking part before reading some of her (Danielle's) correspondence with Aaron -- from a series of 2016 conversations related to library and archival work (Danielle is employed as a librarian, Aaron is an archivist) to her most recent reminder of the evening before us.

Rather than read from Counter-Interpellation, Volume One (a gathering of documents pertinent to Aaron's adoption and construction as a state subject), Aaron read from a recently (FOI-)obtained transcription of his uncle Matt's interrogation before a 1955 HUAC sub-committee in Los Angeles. Following that, a fascinating conversation about government records -- who has them, how to find them and, in some instances, which ones are for sale.

Friday, February 22, 2019

"And the winner is ..."

I remember watching this when it happened. I remember very clearly that it was not Brando's refusal of the award that caused the audience to react (with boos, first, then clapping), but his feelings towards "the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry ... and on television, in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee," as conveyed by the person he asked to decline the award on his behalf, Sacheen Littefeather, who is of White Mountain Apache and Yaqui ancestry.

While reading up on this event I came upon a 2012 article by Dina Gilio-Whitaker in Indian Country Today that includes an exchange between Tonight Show host Jay Leno and comeditarian Dennis Miller. The topic was Massachussets senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, but it quickly turned to Littlefeather.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Loaned Gift Returned

Back in October I posted on a piece of red (Wopila) cloth given to me by Hunkpapa Lakota artist Dana Claxton during her 2016 Belkin Art Gallery Follow the Red Sinew performance and, in October, lent to the VAG for her Fringing the Cube exhibition. Yesterday the cloth was returned, along with an exhibition catalogue. Nice. I look forward to reading the essays.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Harmony Holiday

Three days left before the Western Front closes its installation of Stan Douglas's Hors-champ (1992). Attached to the exhibition, though in what form I am not sure (a catalogue?), is a commissioned text by U.S. poet Harmony Holiday. Looking forward to that!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Le Petit Soldat (1960)

Byung-Chul Han begins Psycho-Politics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power (2017) with this:

"Freedom will prove to be merely an interlude. Freedom is felt when passing from one way of life to another -- until this too turns out to be a form of coercion. Then, liberation gives way to renewed subjugation. Such is the destiny of the subject; literally, the 'one who has been cast down'." (1)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Representations of Artists

A card from the To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) trailer. Rick Masters is played by Willem Dafoe, an actor I had not seen, nor was aware of, prior to the film's release, though I had seen an earlier film he was in, Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980), in which he had a small (uncredited) part as a cockfighter named Willy. (While re-watching the film I noticed him -- looking on.)

Here is Dafoe playing a larger part as a member of the Wooster Group:

Here he is playing another artist, a non-fictive one, in Julian Schnabel's At Eternity's Gate (2018):

Sunday, February 17, 2019

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.

Last week's snow flakes never reached beer coaster proportions, but they made for nice paper. Then the people came -- and they brought their scribbly feet with them!

Snow clears easier before it gets walked on, compressed, the overnight air turning it into sticky plastic tile. Left on its own, it will melt. It is a wonder the crocuses survived!

Friday, February 15, 2019

"the subject 'has a legal historical past'"

When a reporter has to "translate" what another reporter reported:


19 Stanley Park bus

She threw a chair from a tower!

People could have died.

That's what people do -- they die!

Cedar Cottage Pub

I think she's innocent.

She's not! She threw a chair--

Yeah, but no one got hurt!

They coulda!

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Famous Foods 

She has to live with her mother now.

Ha! Serves her right!

Her poor mom.

Who do you think taught her chair-throwing!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Heroes and Villains

Film critic Pauline Kael was at the peak of her popularity in the mid-1970s. At the opening of a long New Yorker article entitled "Cicely Tyson Goes to the Fountain" (January 28, 1974), she writes:

"At American movies now, black people are just about the only ones looking to find heroes for themselves. Films made for whites are curdled with guilt and confusion; the heroes are corrupted, they fail, they live or die meaninglessly."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Blank Cheque Press

Sites that display books and what they look like on the inside.

The picture up top is from Jacquelyn Ross's Black Cheque Press site: a book she wrote, designed and published called Mayonnaise (2016).

I don't think it is Jacquelyn's intention to relate the form her hand takes to the contents of these pages, but to my mind this hand acts as more than just a opener.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


My respect for the Vancouver Art Gallery staff who stood for what they believe in -- many of whom caught colds in the process! Hopefully this latest settlement will mark a positive shift in labour relations at this notoriously stressful workplace.

Monday, February 11, 2019


A busy weekend, capped off with snow.

On Friday, a preview dinner at the new Catriona Jeffries Gallery, followed by a marauding afterparty.

On Saturday morning, a skate with Amy and Brian at Robson Square.

After that, some time on the VAG staff picket line. (That's Rebecca Belmore giving her art away in the form of nine screams for fairer wages.)

Still later, a walk through Polygon Gallery's A Handful of Dust exhibition before a dinner with its guest curator, David Campany, in advance of his excellent talk. (I agree with you, David -- too many exhibitions have too much stuff in them. But this light beam stays!)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

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.

The window is a single pane structure. I know this not from looking but from the structure's effect on my body. I am shivering; it is cold; the cold is coming through the window.

Mine is a structural problem. Something fundamental has to change. I can't live without a window, nor with one. A second window immediately before or after the first one.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Trendy Life

Ah, "The Trendy Life." Following trends, setting them, living amongst them, degraded by them, cast aside because of them.

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Thin Edge of the Wedge

Democracy is full of contradictions. Yet when it comes to an alternative (I live in a democracy), what is acceptable? Would things be better under an absolute monarchy, with a king or a queen ruling by decree and Dukes and Duchesses, Marquises and Marquesses, Viscounts and Viscountesses doing their bidding? Imagine a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, where we are met by its director, the Baroness of California, Kathleen Bartels. Or the Amazon head office, for a lecture by King Bezos.

Back in the deregulating 1970s, one got the feeling that private corporations were evolving into feudal manors, and that it was only a matter of time before their regulation of our bodies was official, as depicted in period films like Rollerball (1975) and Logan's Run (1976). I never for one moment thought that a parliamentary democracy might be breached by the electorate's preference for a member of that country's royal family as its prime minister.

Thursday, February 7, 2019


The above was taken at the end of January, when I though for sure the lobelia I planted last March would survive the winter and, like a violet from years before, become an annual. Then the temperature fell, and the flowers closed up. If they open again, I will let you know.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

State of the Union Response

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams followed last night's psychotic collage with a heartwarming picaresque.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Christ on a Bike!

First it was Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield's January 3rd tweet and subsequent article (her "willful misunderstanding of [Marie] Kondo's statements here to suit her own narrative" -- Ellen Oh), now it's Northern Ireland's Liam Neeson's recent revenge confession

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way. But my immediate reaction was... I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody. I’m ashamed to say that -- and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some black bastard would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.

It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that. She would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk’. You know? ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No no, nothing’s wrong.’

It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that. And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.

It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing,’ you know?

I come from a society -- I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles  -- and, you know, I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that.

All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know. But that primal need, I understand.”

Monday, February 4, 2019

Support CUPE Local 15

"No ideas but in things," said Williams Carlos Williams. To which I say, No new art gallery without a Vancouver Art Gallery board and management respectful of staff who work hard to deliver exhibitions and programs relevant to the contemporary life of our city.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Super Bowl Sunday

These photos were taken during Y. A. Tittle's last year of pro ball. I am never sure of their order. The New York Times used the second picture for Tittle's obit.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Outside a Bay Window

An Edward Hopper (conté) drawing in advance of his Cape Cod Morning (1950).

Friday, February 1, 2019

Castle Oakridge

While killing time at Oakridge a couple months ago I wandered into Westbank's medieval city promotion and saw an area plastered floor-to-wall (there was no ceiling) with local concert posters from the 1980s to today.

"You're interested in the posters!" said the young, well-dressed Australian woman walking towards me.

"Yes," I said. "I was at some of these shows. Though most of the venues are gone now."

"The completed Oakridge Centre will feature four concert stages of various sizes," said the staffer, automatonically.

"How did you come upon these posters?" I asked.

"The posters came from the Vancouver Museum and were curated by local writer and musician Aaron Chapman."

The thought of Aaron patrolling the battlements, bow over his shoulder, peering between the crenels.