Saturday, November 18, 2006

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (38), 2006

Jeff Wall, In Front of a Nightclub, 2006. From a new exhibition of photographs at Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris. Exhibition available online through 9 December 2006. Rear View, Open Air Theatre, Vancouver, 2005, and the underutilized bus stop directly in front of 1082 Granville, above, are pretty useful, but the best pictures are Basin In Rome #1, 2005, and A Woman Consulting a Catalogue, also 2005. The low-rez thumbnail images on the Marian Goodman site enlarge nicely when clicked.

Untitled (Meter), 2006
A Tsunami in the Coast Range

Someone writes to accuse me of dramatic exaggeration.

Via brother dru the geoscientist and industry professional [italics mine]:

"MoFR [BC Ministry of Forests staff] told me Foley Creek was really hit hard by the last storm. Landslides came down into Foley Lake and made a tsunami (!) and Foley Creek jumped its banks below Airplane [Creek] and now runs where the Foley road used to be. Airplane bridge is completely washed away. No access to Foley Creek above Chilliwack Bench turnoff for the foreseeable future. Ling Lake, Welch Peak, Williamson Lake etc. will all be more difficult to access for the forseeable future. This will be an expensive road to reconstruct."

Via BCMoFR website: "Chilliwack-Foley Creek FSR [Forest Service Road]: This road is closed at 0.0km due to flood damage."
Friday, November 17, 2006
Today's soundtrack: Talking Heads' Stay Hungry, all jittery guitar and Eno keyboard flourishes...

Here's that rhythm again.
Here's my shoulder blade.
Here's the sound I made.
Here's the picture I saved.
Here I am....
Two Million Told: Don't Drink the Water (Vancouver Sun headline)

Rain (surprise!) again, this morning's deluge turning the West End's slippery back lanes into a maze of irrigation canals. Yellow leaves reflected under a foot and a half of rainfall. Lane Lake's placid surface punctured by raindrops punching into the water like bullets. The parking lot at Main and Broadway just one big sheet of liquid, draining sideways into a new storm drain, around which the city crew's recently and loosely packed gravel has eroded and been unceremoniously dumped out onto Broadway, an alluvial plane crisscrossed by tire tracks and sodden pedestrians leaping into the road to avoid the white sluice of run-off toward the distant drain.

A bad smell in the bathroom. The water in the toilet bowl brown and rank. I held my nose and flushed, and an even stinkier sample came swirling in to replace it. I took the lid off the tank and gagged, thinking someone had shat in it. But no: just "turbidity" caused by landslides, tsunami waves, etc. unfolding in the drenched mountains. Reliable reports of fish exiting the local mocha-colored rivers ASAP, willing to learn to fly and take their chances overhead.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Recent reading:

Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9-11
Christopher Browne, The Little Book of Value Investing
M. John Harrison, Nova Swing

Working late, copying out paragraphs of Nova Swing in longhand, trying to slow the sentences down far enough to see how they're constructed. Eg.,

"A sun-diver like the Saucy Sal was more mathematics than substance. It didn't really know what to be, and without an active pilot interface would revert instantly to a slurry of nanotech and smart carbon components, a few collapsing magnetic fields. It was in the class of emergent artifacts, a neurosis with an engine. You don't so much fly your hyperdip as nurse it through a programme of dynamic self-reinvention. You have to tell it a story about itself."


"The call was short, and it prompted Vic to open a drawer from which he took out two objects wrapped in rag. One was a gun. The other was harder to describe -- Vic sat by the window in the fading light, unwrapping it thoughtfully. It was about eighteen inches long, and as the rag came off it seemed to move. That was an illusion. Low-angle light, in particular, would glance across the object's surface so that for just a moment it [would] seem to flex in your hands. It was half bone, half metal, or perhaps both at the same time; or perhaps neither.

He had no idea what it was. When he found it, two weeks before, it had been an animal, a one-off thing no one but him would ever see, white, hairless, larger than a dog, first moving away up a slope of rubble somewhere in the event site, then back towards him as if it had changed its mind and become curious about what Vic was. It had huge human eyes. How it turned from an animal into the type of object he finally picked up, manufactured out of this wafery artificial substance which in some lights looked like titanium and in others bone, he didn't know. He didn't want to know."
Bookstore cliche city: my charcoal grey zip-up turtleneck sweater mirroring the morning sky and the black trees along the North Shore slopes; Chet Baker on the deck; little whorls and eddies of steam from the surface of my cup of jasmine tea.

Evidence of Christmas approaching: the once-or-twice-a-year-every-November-and-December-like-clockwork call: "Any signed Tolkeins?"

A line-up of vendors six deep at the counter.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dario Robleto, Texas sculptor, "neoconceptual artist" and material poet. The Nascanti would love this guy!

"So far to date, amazingly, there’s never been a material that I haven’t somehow been able to track down. It’s a really strange process because - swamp root, cramp bark, white willow - it just has to sound right. It has to work on the page first. The chain of reasoning will often lead me to find things I hadn’t thought of before like the trinitite glass led me to other forms of really strange glass. Certain meteorites have led me to extraterrestrial lava. Some asteroids are large enough that they produce some internal heat which produces an active lava system. If they’re not big enough to form a legitimate atmosphere, when those volcanoes erupt, it just spews out into space, there’s nothing to hold it back and it can eventually find its way onto earth. It’s lava from another world! I couldn’t even imagine that such a thing existed until I had done the research on other things. 'Extraterrestrial lava,' the way those syllables work next to each other has to satisfy me as much as the material itself."
In a strangely typo-filled review (Tefahuchi?), the Guardian's John Clute nails the conceptual motor behind M. John Harrison's intricately constructed sentences:

"There are moments of high science fiction action, beautifully sustained by Harrison through the side of his mouth; and when we gain access to the interior of the site, we begin to get the point of Harrison's sometimes stiff style - a gnarly clarity of diction as much like 'ordinary' science fiction writing as the language of Peter Carey's The Unusual Life of Tristram [sic] Smith resembles a travelogue - because that style is deeply devotional to the perceived world."

(Alternate by-the-numbers Independent review here, either machine-written or transcribed from dust jacket copy, noting but not further explicating the trademark style, its "precise images...")
OK, more complaining about the apocalypse outside:

Dark by 3:20 p.m. Gusts of wind stripping the last few leaves from Main Street's trees. Solid, steady rain soaking the awning and bargain table. The lights continuously flickering but not actually having the courtesy to go off and let me leave for the day. Sporadic customers, 100% saturated and alternately grouchy or shell-shocked. Stunned-looking crackheads, shopping cart trundlers, and fake $20 passers streaming up the hill, toward higher ground. I draped my soaked canvas coat over the office radiator, where it promptly formed the indoor equivalent of tule fog.
Anodyne, Inc.

Cash distribution today!

Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN) : .20/unit x 746 units = $149.20.

Cash balance, $529.61.

I am tagging all the Anodyne, Inc. posts with Blogger's new labels so value-minded readers can find them without having to wade through weather reports, bad science fiction, mountaineering trips, stuffed animals, manic-depressive behavior, tales of retail hell, and weird-ass photographs of West Coast garbage.

[Prompt edit: No I'm not. The Blogger labels look like visual Tourette's on the current layout. Punching "Anodyne Inc." into the searchbox at the top of the page seems to work just fine, though]
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

This morning's surprise: approximately 600 missing email messages. Scheduled on my own for six hours and unable to lock myself in the office with the misbehaving box, I gamely reinstalled Thunderbird, built a new user profile, stewed all afternoon, and then, at 8:01 p.m., with the door locked against the wind and intermittent rain, sat down and tried to puzzle out the problem:


Where were the reams of pithy correspondence from collaborators, interlocuters, photo critics, muses & long-suffering editors?

C:\Documents and Settings\user\ApplicationData\Thunderbird\Profiles\[HIDDEN VALUE].default\Mail\Local Folders

Create folder. Select all. Copy to. Move to. Uninstall Thunderbird. Reinstall. Create new user profile. Migrate data. Repeat, repeat, repeat.


All the old folders simultaneously blinked back into existence.

A rare moment of pure satisfaction, the coach class passenger who got called up to the cockpit when the pilot and co-pilot died and everyone else on board came down with food poisoning, the mechanically clueless critic who piloted the lumbering plane down the Fraser Valley through the clouds, out over the ocean, dumped fuel, banked the plane, dropped the wheels, hit the glide path at the right angle, put the plane on the runway, and didn't even graze the terminal as he brought the aircraft to a gentle, graceful stop.

In the event that this fantastic voyage

Should turn to erosion and we never get old

Remember it's true, dignity is valuable

But our lives are valuable, too.

We're learning to live with somebody's depression

And I don't want to live with somebody's depression

We'll get by, I suppose....


Via Environment Canada:

"Tonight another strong but complex storm system will sweep across the south west corner of BC. Southerly winds will increase this evening. South or southeast winds will likely continue to increase to 50 to 80 km/h in the Greater Vancouver area early on Wednesday morning. Winds will likely ease somewhat later on Wednesday morning and then shift to northwest winds of 40 to 60 km/h during the afternoon. During this time, rain, heavy at times, will begin to fall late this evening and then ease off late on Wednesday morning. The highest amounts will be along the mountains with 24 hour rainfall amounts of 60 to 120mm."
Monday, November 13, 2006

Packing Internet orders late into the night, Tennant & Lowe keeping time. A cold front moving through, a brief respite from rain. Wind, too, enough to make me turn up my collar and join the big brass buttons that fasten the collar's canvas ends together. pictures: digging out a car in Coquihalla Pass; snowshoeing up Seymour; carrying a pair of ancient skis up the McKay Creek trail through dark trees; through vertical sleet; through snowflakes floating down like splotches of paint on a Sigmar Polke photograph. Winter's here!

Neil Tennant sings:

And clumsy as I felt

At stumbling on this theft

To save further embarrassment

I made my excuses and left

and I pull another packslip from the printer, pop it in the front of the book, swaddle it in bubble wrap, seal the envelope, attach the postage label, the customs label, complete the customs manifest, and drop -- gently place! -- the parcel alongside its outbound sisters and brothers. Grab the next book, repeat...

(Grouse Mountain snowpack courtesy legendary coastal hardman Ted Oliver)

Porn Set Diary

Livejournal kept by one of the shop's regulars, Robin Bougie, publisher of Cinemasewer magazine, and (more recently), producer and jack-of-all trades on a low-budget, Biblically-themed porn film, The Cumming of Jizzus. Ultra low-budget set dec by Robin's talented cartoonist wife Rebecca Dart (q.v. numerous previous entries on Rebecca's Rabbithead, one of my favorite comics ever and the subject of my most recent attempt at "comics criticism"). Not work safe, but deeply fascinating, particularly for its weird pictorial juxtapositions, ie., multiple cock shots vs. Rebecca's little white paper cutout nursery-school clouds.
Sunday, November 12, 2006

ART (Aesthetically Rejected Thing): The VIP line

Late night Main Street, renewed monsoon outside, Mr. Petty on the deck....
It's good, folks!

"Liv Hula sometimes watched the rockets too.

Near dawn, you got her and the fat man standing by the window together as two tubby brass-looking freighters lifted from the corporate yard. Then a K-ship exited the military pits on the hard white line from its fRAM engine. In the backwash of light a warmer expression came on her face than you would expect. By then the Kefahuchi Tract had begun to fade from the sky, which was tilted like a lid to show one thin eastern arc of pale green, false dawn. Offshore winds would come up soon and, forced along the narrow pipe of Straint Street, churn the low-lying fogs of the event site."

Live From the Sea of Stone (via WG Blog)

"A desolate ocean, grey now under a deathly white, rolling with enormous force, but still with no life upon it apart from these two ships, now dismasted and tossing like paper boats on a millstream. They were at some distance from one another, both apparently wrecks, floating but out of control: beyond them, to windward, a newly-arisen island of black rock and cinders. It no longer shot out fire, but every now and then, with an enormous shriek, a vast jet of steam leapt from the crater, mingled with ash and volcanic gases. When Jack first saw the island it was a hundred and eighty feet high, but the rollers had already swept away great quantities of the clinker and by the time the sun was clear of the murk not fifty feet remained."

(Image: crew of the yacht Maiken; text Patrick O'Brian, The Wine-Dark Sea)
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now -- well, I was, up until 10:19 a.m., when someone started repetitively knocking on the (locked) front door.

Customers? The bailiff? Nope, just a soaked Canada Postperson, with a special express air parcel delivery from the UK (4 copies, hardback), a nice jumpstart to this rainy grey Sunday.

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