Friday, March 17, 2006

Samuel Palmer, In a Shoreham Garden, 1829.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Making pictures of flowers, even those on private property, provides loads of camera-club style verbal outs:

[CJB conspicuous in the middle of a vacant lot on Point Grey Road. The lot's owner unexpectedly materializes in an expensive late-model SUV and executes a slow circle around the startled photographer]


CJB: Just taking a snapshot of this tree.

SPO: Snapshot, eh?

CJB: Nice saturated colors today...rain...leading lines..."18% grey", check it out. [Proffers camera]

[Digital-playback mode]

SPO: Why is there only one picture of my tree, and sixteen-odd pictures of logging slash and construction debris?

CJB: Um....
Awesome amphibious Japanese robot snake -- play the accompanying video clip! (thx WG blog!)
My pal James recommends Derek Kirk Kim's fine 1-new-panel-a-day-probably-forever digital graphic novel, Healing Hands.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What's up with all the magnolias?

An ancient genus of flowering trees. Magnolias predate bees! I like their strange bullet-shaped flowers, the best of which remind me of 1930s lamps. A tree that lays Art Deco bulbs!

Early flowering plants call attention to themselves in spring; all that pink and white froth is like turning a spotlight on a thing which, for the remaining 11 1/2 months of the year, disappears from view. Think of Carrie White arriving at her high school prom, or the scent of Proust's madeline. Latency.

I wanted to make a picture of a young tree that was still getting used to flowering. I found it on 8th Avenue in New Westminster, on a walk with my friend and bookseller colleague John Preston, and made its portrait over three consecutive days (A Young Magnolia in Spring, March 14). I like that its flowers are present, but unopened. When they are it will be a very different-looking tree. But I prefer to remember it this way, slowly changing from one thing into another.

The plan is to make four to six images of magnolias over the next week to ten days, and to collect them as a portfolio, a sequence of trees. Though as I hope is evident from today's pictures, the photographs are only nominally about the trees they depict, and more about flowering in place, under pressure.

Magnolia Flowering on Point Grey Road, 2006

Coming soon! John Tweed dropped off a CD-R last week of "rough" studio demos: fuzzy guitar, Wayne yowling, not much else. Where, I wondered, did all the Atari noises and the strings get to? Not far, apparently. ("Finished" evidence courtesy Tolagson and Unnamed Illicit Audio Trading Site).

Q: Why are you posting at 9:35am? Aren't you supposed to be in Squamish today?

A: Grapuel, sleet, etc.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Young Magnolia in Spring, 2006


"A vast, ghostly cat-thing descends on New York City, bestowing on its citizens a kind of rapture."

Morph The Cat
Words and music by Donald Fagen

High above Manhattan town
What floats and has a shape like that
Fans like us who watch the skies
We know it's Morph the Cat

Gliding like a big blue cloud
From Tompkins Square to Upper Broadway
Beyond the park to Sugar Hill
Stops a minute for a latte

He oozes down the heating duct
Swims like seaweed down the hall
He briefly digs your wiggy pad
And seeps out through the wall

It's kind of like an arctic mindbath
Cool and sweet and slightly rough
Liquid light on New York City
Like Christmas without the chintzy stuff

What exactly does he want
This Rabelasian puff of smoke
To make you feel all warm and cozy
Like you heard a good joke

Like you heard an Arlen tune
Or bought yourself a crazy hat
Like you had a mango cooler
Ooh -- Morph the Cat!

He's all the talk in shops and schoolyards
Sutton Place -- the Automat
Players playin' in the Bronx
Respect to Morph the Cat

It's kind of like an arctic mindbath
Cool and sweet and slightly rough
Liquid light on New York City
Like Christmas without the chintzy stuff

So rich is his charisma
You can almost hear it sing
He skims the roofs
And bells begin to ring

Chinese cashiers can feel it now
Grand old gals at evening mass
Young racketeers
And teenage models
Laughing on the grass

Blessed Yankees have an ally
When this feline comes to bat
Bringing joy to old Manhattan
All watch the skies for Morph the Cat
Monday, March 13, 2006

Robert Charles Wilson, Spin:

"There is a predjudice imposed on us by our brief window of consciousness: things that move are alive; things that don't are dead. The living worm twines under the dead and static rock. Stars and planets move, but only according to the inert laws of gravitation: a stone may fall but is not alive, and orbital motion is only the same falling indefinitely prolonged.

But extend our mayfly existence, as the Hypotheticals had, and the distinction blurs. Stars are born, live, die, and bequeath their elementary ashes to newer stars. The sum of their various motions is not simple but unimaginably complex, a dance of attraction and velocity, beautiful but frightening. Frightening because, like an earthquake, the writhing stars make mutable what ought to be solid. Frightening because our deepest organic secrets, our couplings and our messy acts of reproduction, turn out not to be secrets after all: the stars are also bleeding and laboring."

Little blue books, from an estate collection we bought last week. "The Library of Useful Stories," c.1901. Including such fine titles as, The Story of a Grain of Wheat, The Story of Ice (pictured), and The Story of the Wanderings of the Atoms. I suspect the titles are more impressive than the actual fact-content, but still....
Sunday, March 12, 2006

You'd never believe it
But once there was a time

When love was in my life

I sometimes wonder

What happened to that flame

The answer's still the same

It was you, it was you

Tonight you're still on my mind

An independent station
With jazz and conversation

From the foot of Mt. Belzoni

Sweet music

Tonight the night is mine

Late line 'til the sun
Comes through the skylight

My pal Steve refers me to, the self-proclaimed "electronic fishwrap of the applicance industry." I love trade journals, especially muckraking ones with a good sense of humor.

Sample news item:

"Electrolux to open laundry factory in Juarez, Mexico.

In related story, 700 families in Webster City, IA are kicked to curb.

An $100 million factory for laundry products should be in full operation by the end of 2007, replacing a big chunk of a factory already in existence in Webster City, IA.

What will 700 workers do without work in Webster City? That wasn't in the press release.

Electrolux said:

'Front-load washers and companion dryers are a high-growth segment of the North American market, and the Webster City factory doesn't have the capacity needed to meet anticipated demand.'

No space to expand in Iowa?

Wouldn't it be nice to see an honest press release such as:

'We attempted in good faith to negotiate with our Webster City workers, now paid $18/hour, by offering them the more globally competitive $20/day, but they refused. Obviously the choice was theirs.'

Isn't Free Trade fantastic!!!"

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