Thursday, April 29, 2004
Jeff Wall, new photographs at Marian Goodman, NYC. Pipe Opening in the North Gallery sticks with me the most, at least on first sight, another almost-"diagonal composition."
.bomb city -- the offering prospectus for, filed with the SEC but soft-pedalled by Alibris to its dealers. This document is fascinating reading. A few things that made the seasoned value investor in me sit bolt upright:

• The risks outlined in the first few pages, of which complete loss of invested capital barely even makes it onto the charts;

• The "dilution" that investors will immediately experience upon purchasing Alibris securities, much like driving a new car off the lot;

• The "poison pill" provisions which, in event of a hostile takeover, work to common shareholders' disadvantage;

• Fat stock options for senior management, accompanied by the lame old .com excuse, "If we don't compensate key staff, competitors will hire them away!"

• Continuing losses, 79 million to date and counting;

• "Class F stock," its myriad advantages to insiders, and disadvantages to retail investors;

• The %ages of revenue derived from the Amazon and Barnes and Noble contracts, which can be scrapped by both on short notice, and Alibris' admission that both Amazon and B&N are, in effect, competing with Alibris' own services;

• The proprietory "pricing service," designed to trim dealers' margins while enriching Alibris' bottom line;

• The previously undisclosed relationship with selected Goodwill stores disclosed in a footnote;

& etc.

To quote Jason Zweig, I wouldn't touch this one with a ten foot pole and a Haz-Mat suit.

Worst chips ever, from
22,000-odd books in the house. So many hardcovers stacked in the side office that the floor has gently bowed.

Lots of nice stuff, the highlight so far being the limited version of the Underwood-Miller Philip K. Dick bibliography signed by PKD.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Moving 35,000 books from East Hastings to Main Street with a rented mini van.

Details here soon!
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Show Biz Kids, making movies of themselves
Cheakamus Lake, near Whistler, first hiking trip ever, age 5, overnight with my dad
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Someone asks why previous entries keep changing.

I write quickly, but not very well. Anything worth keeping usually takes 10+ drafts to emerge. The right words are usually there from the start, but never next to one another. And web writing inspires a concision that other genres (like, oh, say, art criticism) don't neccessarily require. Everyone's familiar with the sinking sensation occasioned by reading previously published works whose flaws, now public, are all too glaringly obvious. Part of writing in public is the obligation not to be sloppy, to choke off glaring instances of overwriting and adverb abuse as soon as recognized, which in my case unfortunately means hours if not days later.
We just bought the contents of another Vancouver bookstore, after a month of intense negotiations. About 35,000 books in all, which Chris and I will begin to move on Monday morning with a rented panel van and lots of patience.

In my 15+ years of experience, no used bookseller will ever confess to having steady sales or being profitable, at least not with another dealer in earshot. But spring 2004, at least on the West Coast, has been particularly bad. Lots of shops on semi-permanant sale, and lots more not buying at all, or being very selective, so there's plenty of stock to choose from. "I like bookstores that are in the habit of having new arrivals," says legendary Berkeley bookman Peter Howard. I agree. Nothing turns me off a shop faster than the exact same -- invariably overpriced and/or overgraded -- stock I saw when I was last in.

Lots of new shops in the Lower Mainland, too, though I wonder how long some of them will last. In one, an otherwise well- laid out and designed- room, I saw the proprietor hesitating over a spined paperback copy of Thomas Harris' Hannibal, and then, as if to compound that error, actually checking the publication date of DOS For Dummies. The scout, no slouch, smelled blood, and moved in for the kill, offering J.D. Robb pocketbooks, ex-library Stephen King novels, and hardcover biographies from the same box. $40 changed hands. John and I headed quietly for the door, aghast, feeling like we'd just witnessed a mugging in the park.
System Mechanic, one of the few pieces of software I've purchased online. The office computer was crawling like a slug and crashing, and all the defragmentation utility included with the box could do was tell me that a full system defragmentation would take approximately 18 hours to complete. System Mechanic took 12 minutes to fix the same problem. I registered my evaluation copy the same day.

SM also comes with a robust antivirus/firewall utility, Panda, that found and killed several viruses on the machine that our previous virus product (Norton), though regularly updated, couldn't find or fix.

Friday, April 23, 2004
McLean's Brain -- tons of 2D, 3D and polydimensional artwork by my friend Jason McLean. Check out the detailed colored drawings in the 2D section of the site, and their sizes. Them's feet, folks!
This Time, from Suede's Sci-Fi Lullabies, a soundtrack for this day of high wind and billowing blues and greens:

Oh day after day every morning
The city sighs and cars collide
Oh we take the train through the winter hinterland and garage bands
And we wash it away we wash it away this grey wash it away

Oh 'cos this time is yours and mine
Oh hear the city sound see the lonely crowds
This scene is you and me
Oh in the lazy sun we're the only ones

Oh day after day every morning
The roundabouts will take us south
Past every train in every station
Traffic signs and circle lines

'Cos this time is yours and mine
Oh hear the city sound, see the lonely crowds
This scene is you and me
Oh in the lazy sun, we're the only ones

This time is yours and mine
Oh, we're the city sounds, we're the underground
This scene is you and me
Oh, we're the lazy suns, we're the only ones
Tableau at the mall, supremely bored-looking security guard and scrawny young guy with no shirt, boxers protruding an inch and a half out of the top of his pants, goofy-looking Tupac-style crucifix around his neck, and an electric guitar slung over one shoulder.

"Yeah, man, I know I'm not allowed in Kingsgate Mall, but I forgot what this place was until I came inside."
Rain through overnight, noticably cooler, breaths of moist air knocking against my face all the way down Davie Street. The young green trees on the corner of Davie and Howe, an afterthought of "landscaping" designed to sanitize and humanize the streetlevel profile of an otherwise unremarkable residential tower, bending and tossing their fresh crop of leaves in the wind.

Steel-grey clouds moving across the face of the North Shore mountains. Sunlight and washed-out blue sky off to the west, sunny in Nanaimo definitely, hell, maybe even sunny on Passage Island or around Cape Roger Curtis. But not at Main and Broadway, where little flurries of showers keep coming through, blue skies, then spatters of rain.
Glamour Profession, by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, my favorite SD track ever, absolutely:

6:05 outside the stadium
Special delivery
For Hoops McCann
Brut and Charisma
Poured from the shadow where he stood
Looking good
He's a crowd pleasing man
One on one
He's schoolyard superman
Crashing the backboard
He's Jungle Jim again
When it's all over
We'll make some calls from my car
We're a star

It's a glamour profession
The L.A. concession
Local boys will spend a quarter
Just to shine the silver bowl
Living hard will take its toll

Illegal fun
Under the sun

All aboard
The Carib Cannibal
Off to Barbados
Just for the ride
Jack with his radar
Stalking the dread moray eel
At the wheel
With his Eurasian bride
On the town
We dress for action
Celluloid bikers
Is Friday's theme
I drove the Chrysler
Watched from the darkness while they danced
I'm the one


I know your middle name
Who inspires your fabled fools
That's my claim to fame


Jive Miguel
He's in from Bogota
Meet me at midnight
At Mr. Chow
Szechuan dumplings
After the deal has been done
I'm the one

Thursday, April 22, 2004
Just a sliver moon & Venus bright in the western sky tonight at twilight

More than I ever wanted to know about toilet construction & repair, occasioned by a broken hose and water spurting everywhere when the lid was removed at 1:30 a.m. this morning.
Just announced -- Tijuana Straits: A Novel, by Kem Nunn. 10 August 2004. Don't expect to see me for a day or two.
Quantifiable economic benefits of online bookselling, courtesy MIT.
Cates Park, North Vancouver, B.C., near the former site of Malcolm Lowry's shack house. I took the train along the opposite shore of the inlet a week or two ago. Still surprised by how fast signs of civilization disappear east of the Ironworkers' Memorial Bridge.

Multiple greens on the West Coast in springtime. Light, almost lime-green salmonberries and alders, darker, jade- or spinach- green skunk cabbages and salals.
Bad Sneakers, alternate version from the Katy Lied sessions. Slow download, but worth it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
The Steely Dan Dictionary, new expanded edition. Not quite sure now how I first stumbled across this, till I hit the entry for "cutouts."

What a shame about me, indeed.

Monday, April 19, 2004
Philip Fisher R.I.P.

Philip Fisher's writings, along with with Warren Buffett's, David Dreman's, and Irwin Michael's, are pretty much responsible for any investing success I've had to date. I never thought of writing to Fisher while he was alive, to express my thanks for making fundamental analysis comprehensible to a 25 year old bookseller, so this belated shout out will have to do. Thanks, Philip!

(from the New York Times)

Philip A. Fisher, Author of Key Investment Book, Dies at 96

Published: April 19, 2004

Philip A. Fisher, who wrote one of the first investment books to appear on the New York Times best-seller list, "Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits," a 1958 guide to growth-stock investing that the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett has cited as a major influence on his career, died at his home in San Mateo, Calif., on March 11. He was 96.

His death was reported by his son Kenneth L. Fisher in a column in the current issue of Forbes magazine.

Still in print, "Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits" outlines Mr. Fisher's buy-and-hold approach to investing and his method for identifying stocks that have a strong potential for long-term growth. In the book's "15 Points to Look for in a Common Stock," he advised readers to invest in innovative companies that are world leaders in their field, have a commitment to research and development and are led by executives of unquestioned quality and integrity.

He also told readers to limit the number of stocks in their portfolio and to limit turnover even further. "If the job has been correctly done when a common stock is purchased," he wrote, "the time to sell is almost never."

Following his own advice, Mr. Fisher invested in technology companies like Texas Instruments and Motorola for the long haul. He bought Motorola stock in 1955, when the company was still a radio manufacturer, and held its shares until his death.

Philip Arthur Fisher was born in 1907 in San Francisco. A graduate of Stanford with a bachelor's degree in economics, and a veteran of the Army Air Corps, he started an investment counseling firm, Fisher & Company, in 1932. He retired in 1999 at 91.

Mr. Fisher's books, which also include "Paths to Wealth Through Common Stocks"(1960) and "Conservative Investors Sleep Well"(1975), influenced generations of investors, including Mr. Buffett.

"I sought out Phil Fisher after reading his `Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits' and `Paths to Wealth Through Common Stocks' in the early 1960's," Mr. Buffett wrote in a 1987 article in Forbes. "From him I learned the value of the `scuttlebutt' approach: Go out and talk to competitors, suppliers and customers to find out how an industry or a company really operates."

In addition to his son Kenneth, of Woodside, Calif., Mr. Fisher is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; his sister, Caroline E. Fisher of Belmont, Calif.; two other sons, Arthur of Seattle and Donald of Lakeside, Ore.; 11 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Fisher also offered readers suggestions on finding a portfolio manager. In a 1987 interview with Forbes, he said that he always urged investors to ask for detailed transcripts from prospective advisers to scrutinize their record.

"If they take losses and small losses quickly and let their profits run, give them a gold star," he said. "If they take their profits quickly and let their losses run, don't go near them."

Sunday, April 18, 2004
Tumbo Island (foreground), Cabbage Island (middle distance), & Saturna Island (rear). Some of the happiest days of my life, & etc. I once piloted a small rowboat all the way from Saturna to the long harbour in the middle of the photograph. Slack tide, obviously, makes a project like this much easier. Try it at the wrong time of day and you find yourself drawn down the channel to East Point's lighthouse and Boiling Reef, whose massive tidal rips, whirlpools, and standing waves are best experienced from the shore.

Sunflower starfish are amazing animals. I saw my first non-aquarium sun stars in the deep, clear waters off Tumbo's rocky eastern shoreline.

Saturday, April 17, 2004
Hardly slept last night. Up until midnight rough sorting the most important collection in the shop's history, home in cab, then back at 7am to pick up right where I left off, worrying nonstop about how I'm actually going to pay for it.

One item heading home with me: legendary West Coast antiquarian bookman William Hoffer's privately printed pamphlet Cheap Sons of Bitches: Memoirs of the Book Trade.

Once, while a charmed undergraduate enrolled in a graduate course on Malcolm Lowry given by one of the more gruesome members of the UBC English department, I attempted to weasel a discount out of Hoffer on a F+/F+ first UK edition of Lowry's Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place, priced then at around seventy dollars or so. My friend and part time boss Gavin took me down to Hoffer's shop on Water Street and made the neccessary introductions. I remember dark wooden shelves ascending all the way to heaven, low light, thousands of Brodarted spines, countless titles by major Canadian authors I'd never heard of before, let alone ever seen.

I don't remember what Hoffer looked like, but I do remember what he had to say on the subject of a discount, after considering my claim of poverty for about three and a half seconds.

"If you're not willing to pay what that book is worth, you obviously don't want it badly enough," said Hoffer, then proceeded to ignore me and engage Gavin in small talk.

From ABE:

Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place
London: Jonathan Cape, 1962. First English Edition. A fine copy in a very lightly rubbed dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory #7447
Price: US$ 100.00

Hoffer was right and I was wrong. I should have bought that book, which now probably lurks somewhere in Peter Howard's stacks in Berkeley, where I will never find it.

From Hoffer's pamphlet:

As I said, a beginning bookseller must find ways of buying books cheaply (or obtaining them with something easier to get than money), and selling them for more. Most rigorously, he must manage these two things within clear limits of propriety. This is to say that ignorance is almost a defense, but that creative ignorance is wicked. The limits of this notion are the pessimism one adopts when buying books, and the optimism one must show when selling. The gloomy buyer and enthusiastic salesman are not new characters to the stage, and bookselling is finally just another version of the human drama.

Friday, April 16, 2004
Margaret (Mrs. M.O.W.) Oliphant:

Oh, never mind the fashion. When one has a style of one's own, it is always twenty times better.
On the office speakers this rainy Friday morning -- Star Eyes, Marian McPartland solo piano, Donald F. and Walter B. listening along in the studio, just like me.

Star Eyes
Jimmy Dorsey
Music by Gene De Paul

Star Eyes,
That to me is what your eyes are,
Soft as stars in April skies are,
Tell me some day you’ll fulfill
Their promise of a thrill.
Star Eyes,
Flashing eyes in which my hopes rise,
Let me show you where my heart lies.
Let me prove that it adores
That loveliness of yours.
All my life I’ve felt
Content to stargaze at the skies.
Now I only want to to melt
The stardust in your eyes.
Star Eyes,
When if ever, will my lips know
If It’s me for whom those eyes glow?
Makes no diff’rence where you are,
Your eyes still hold my wishing star,
Oh, Star Eyes, how lovely you are.

Vancouver Public Library booksale today. I stopped going to these free-for-alls years ago, but there's still good stuff to be had if you don't mind going toe-to-toe with pushy grannies, stroller moms, broke voracious students, and every self-proclaimed "antiquarian book dealer" in town.

Last sale's prize: a nice clean first edition of Naked Lunch. We didn't see it, but every scout through the door claimed to have been standing right behind the lucky guy who did.
Paul Krugman, New York Times:

Vietnam shook the nation's confidence not just because we lost, but because our leaders didn't tell us the truth. Last September Gen. Anthony Zinni spoke of "Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies," and asked his audience of military officers, "Is it happening again?" Sure enough, the parallels are proliferating. Gulf of Tonkin attack, meet nonexistent W.M.D. and Al Qaeda links. "Hearts and minds," meet "welcome us as liberators." "Light at the end of the tunnel," meet "turned the corner." Vietnamization, meet the new Iraqi Army.

Some say that Iraq isn't Vietnam because we've come to bring democracy, not to support a corrupt regime. But idealistic talk is cheap. In Vietnam, U.S. officials never said, "We're supporting a corrupt regime." They said they were defending democracy. The rest of the world, and the Iraqis themselves, will believe in America's idealistic intentions if and when they see a legitimate, noncorrupt Iraqi government — as opposed to, say, a rigged election that puts Ahmad Chalabi in charge.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
Monte Clark Gallery, more than a few of my friends' images here
Shaky Plans Dept.:

"So I'll take the casino bus," says Abe, plotting budget transportation to the Seattle Public Library sale without a car. "Then I'll run away from the casino, and walk out to the highway, and catch a ride--" And breaks off, because John and I are laughing at him.
"Well, you made my day, sir," says the young woman recently back from India who just found not one, but two copies of the uncut version of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, and one of them a hardcover, too, in our stacks, which in bookselling terms is a bit like hitting a royal flush with your last $2 bet.
Mail run to the mall after rain, the smells of water and oil off pavement hit now by the hot sun.
Michael D. Swaine, letter to the editor, New York Times:

On Tuesday night, the president offered what he has offered in the past when much is on the line: a carefully crafted speech designed to appeal to the most basic emotions, not reason or logic; a total unwillingness to contemplate error or to recognize that events have not proceeded as expected and thus require a change in strategy; and a rambling, unintelligent handling of unscripted but obvious questions that undermines confidence in his ability.

It is unnerving to watch an American president's expression turn blank in response to a question as his mind gropes for a scintilla of an idea other than the bumper-sticker phrases that seem to constitute the only thoughts he can muster.
To Tinseltown late last night, for the 10:20 show of Touching the Void. Climber friends had praised the film for its accuracy. Accurate it was, and enjoyable too. A strange sense of deja vu in parts, the clink of gear on rocks or the clang of an ice axe's tip on moraine debris bringing back memories of my own climbs. Also accurate, the "oh shit" sensation of already being overextended and then encountering a new problem, eg., the Peruvian ridgecrest's steep little ice step, or the pleasant slope that suddenly turns vertical as the light runs out of the day. The bowl below the west face of Knight Peak, where I pushed through a thicket of mountain blueberry bushes, only to see, very clearly, the tops of the trees two or hundred feet below, swaying in the wind.

Accurate, too, the sense of being dwarfed by a big face, which in the film is accomplished by optical trickery that makes the face shimmer in and out of focus, like the air above a fire. This isn't visually accurate, but is totally psychically or emotionally accurate, the substitution of visual illusion for an unreconstructable mnemonic trace.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Nick Drake's voice in my head this evening, wandering the West End under thunderclouds, a cold front through recently and rain that knocked petals down from all the trees.

Hazey Jane II

Dave Pegg, bass
Dave Mattacks, drums
Richard Thompson, lead guitar

And what will happen in the morning when the world it gets
so crowded that you can't look out the window in the morning.

And what will happen in the evening in the forest with the weasel
with the teeth that bite so sharp when you're not looking in the evening.

And all the friends that you once knew are left behind they kept you safe
and so secure amongst the books and all the records of your lifetime.

What will happen
In the morning
When the world it gets so crowded that you can't look out the window
in the morning.

Hey, take a little while to grow your brother's hair
And now, take a little while to make your sister fair.
And now that the family
Is part of a chain
Take off your eyeshade
Start over again.

Now take a little while to find your way in here
Now take a little while to make your story clear.
Now that you're lifting
Your feet from the ground
Weigh up your anchor
And never look round.

Let's sing a song
For Hazey Jane
She's back again in my mind.
If songs were lines
In a conversation
The situation would be fine.

Not quite sure what I'm doing at the store at 3:42am.

Oh wait -- browsing threads on Sad!

Shamelessly cut-and-pasted, a priceless Squamish trip report by cc.poster "Uncle Trickey." Most climbers, even rank amateurs like me, will have their own version of UT's blind-date climbing partner "Elmer." Big shout out to Don and Alvin, two "climbers" I happily haven't seen in over a decade.

6:00 AM Myself and a first (and last) time climbing partner I'll call "Elmer" met up at the parking lot in Squamish to climb Diedre, a classic 5.7 on the Apron. He is a lurker who said he is a "safe, all around 5.10 leader" who's been dying to climb this route forever. I've climbed the route before and led all the pitches, so I agreed to let him do the leading.

7:00 AM We arrived at the base of Diedre. The approach took somewhat longer than usual because Elmer insisted we rope up for the steep approach through the trees. There was a festival-like atmosphere at the base of the climb, with people of all ages from around the world. We found ourselves waiting for the party ahead of us, which was waiting for the party ahead of them, who was waiting for the party above them, who was waiting for the party above them--who was apparently superglued to the rock. Or perhaps they were just a pair of immobile manniquins that some jokers hung from the anchors of the fifth pitch to create a traffic clusterfuck.

8:00 AM After an hour, nothing had changed, and I suggested we climb a different line up the Apron. "Hell no!" said Elmer, "I've wanted to climb this route forever!"

9:00 AM The top party showed some signs of movement, thus proving they were, in fact, not manniquins. Elmer started taping up (?) and racking his gear, which included a double set of nuts, a double set of cams to 4 inches, 4 tri-cams and 7 hexes.

10:00 AM The sun cleared the top of the Chief and the day turned HOT. Elmer set off on the first pitch up to the little tree.

11:00 AM Elmer arrived at the tree and put me on belay. I walked up to the tree.

1:00 PM We reached the belay at the base of the corner. Elmer was--as advertised--a very safe leader. I returned the 11 pieces of gear I cleaned on the pitch leading up to the corner where the fifth class climbing starts.

1:30 PM The parties ahead of us had moved up sufficiently that we were clear to climb with no one slowing us down. Elmer started up the dihedral. Judging by the severity of the sewing machine leg he had going, he appeared to be a little nervous. But he protected the pitch very well.

3:00 PM Elmer arrived at the belay. Shortly thereafter I arrived and handed him back the 19 (!) pieces of gear he placed on the pitch. The insufferably slow parties ahead of us had by now left us far behind. We had clear sailing ahead all the way up to Broadway! However, now we appeared to be slowing down the pack of anxious climbers below us.

4:00 PM The scorching day got hotter. We drunk all our water. Elmer was showing signs of physical and mental strain after leading the first three pitches of 5.6 or 5.7. A noticable tick has developed in his left eye. I offer to take a lead or two, but he responds with surprising vigor: "No fucking way, I've wanted to climb this climb forever!"

5:00 PM Elmer is still within spitting distance of the belay, swearing and sweating as he tried to fiddle in an RP, his 6th placement on the pitch thus far. There were approximatly 8 frustrated parties jammed up beneath us now. I was starting to feel like the stubborn turd that's clogging the toilet.

6:00 PM Elmer arrived at the fourth belay. The climbing was taking its toll on him. Our water long since gone, I started to wonder how long it takes an average person to die of thirst. After resting for a half hour, his twitching had subsided somewhat and Elmer started up the next pitch.

7:30 PM Inexplicably, Elmer was building a gear belay 3/4 of the way up the pitch instead of continuing on another 40 feet to the bolted station. Gently, I queried him about his intentions. All I heard is a stream of angry profanity echoing across the valley and something about running out of gear. "I'm fucking leading this fucking climb...blah...gear...blah...fucking forever blah...blah..." I wondered to myself how it would be physically possible to place all the gear he was carrying (enough to stock several small retail shops) on one 5.7 pitch. And as the sun cooked me like a worm on pavement, I wondered idly if he was afflicted with Tourette's or perhaps some sort of degenerative brain disorder like Mad Cow disease.

8:00 PM Elmer finishes building his anchor and brings me up. The tick in his eye has deteriorated noticably and his pupils are dialated in a worrisome way. I can't help myself and comment on his anchor, which is clearly a work of art--if you're a Celtic knotsmith or some sort of mad engineer. The anchor consisted of 4 cams and 3 nuts each qualized with double clove hitches and backed up with a secondary anchor composed of two tricams, a hex, two RPs, a cordellete and four slings. Granted, I'm a fan of bombproof anchors, but this one could have survived a direct napalm airstrike followed by a nuclear holocaust and still held a factor 5 fall. He didn't appreciate my kind comment. "Are you questioning my fucking abilities you goddamn pissant?" Judged by his full-body spasms and the way he kept grinding his teeth, he was physiologically unstable and psychologically unbalanced.

8:30 PM After his outburst, Elmer calmed down a bit and started apologizing profusely, weeping and blubbering like a schizophrenic on a bad acid trip. I didn't want to say the wrong thing, so I just wrung out my sweaty shirt into our empty nalgene bottle, took a swig and offered him a drink, which he accepted gratefully.

9:00 PM We were still hanging awkwardly from his armageddon-proof anchor. Elmer had stopped crying and appeared to be in some sort of meditative state, perhaps visualizing the sequences or protection on the pitch above. An angry mob of climbers hoping to get off the Apron before nightfall had gathered below us, wondering what the delay was. (I'm sure they were also curious about all the yelling and wailing.) While we hung stationary at his gear belay, several parties simply climbed by us, including a grandmother in flip flops who was soloing with her grandchild in one of those kiddie backpacks, two hikers who apparently got lost on the Stawamus Chief trail, and a surprisingly speedy team of quadriplegics who were aiding the climb by placing gear with their mouths.

9:35 PM I was hesitant to disturb Elmer while he was concentrating on preparing mentally for the next pitch. However I was getting concerned about our pace--we were only about halfway up the 7 pitch climb, and I had to be back in Washington by tomorrow afternoon. I nudged him and once again I casually offered to lead a few pitches for the sake of efficiency. This threw the previously-peaceful Elmer into a blind fury: "No fucking way, I've wanted to fucking lead this goddamn climb for fucking forever! What the fuck do you think I am, some sort of fucking incompetent?! If you ever again try to take one of my fucking leads on this fucking climb I will take this fucking knife (brandishing his Swiss Army knife), saw your fucking ears off, then cut you loose to plummet to your death you fucking miserable condescending piece of shit!!!!!!" He emphasizes each word by puching the rock until his knuckes bled. One of his eyes rolled eerily back in his head. He was foaming at the mouth.

9:36 PM Hmmm. Fight or flight? That was the question. I figured pacifying this maniac was perhaps the best approach to the situation--or at least preferable to brutal hand-to-hand combat while tied in to a common belay 500 feet off the ground.

9:37 PM I put on my most sincere smile and said "Sorry, Elmer--you're the leader, you're on belay, climb when ready!" I said as cheerily and nicely as possible. Meanwhile I casually repositioned my nut tool on my harness for easy access in case I needed to kill this raving lunatic before he killed me.

10:00 PM It was getting quite dark. Elmer was finally ready and headed up the next pitch of dierdre. I breathed a sigh of relief as the rope ran out (very slowly) and he put some distance between us.

11:00 PM Elmer finally reached the next set of bolts. Once I saw he was safely anchored, I yelled up "You're off belay!"

11:01:30 PM In the fading twilight, I untied from the rope, tossed the free end into space, waved up at a perplexed Elmer, turned and ran down the Apron (roughly along the line of Sparrow) as fast as I could.

11:15 PM I reached the parking lot, quickly disabled the alternator on Elmer's car, gunned my van towards the border and never looked back.

Epilogue: "Elmer" apparently survived, because he is back in the Partners Section looking for another poor sucker to attempt one of Washington's classic routes. The moral of the story? You never know what kind of psychotic you might get hooked up with when browsing for a climbing partner on
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, namechecked in both of today's entries.
Supernatural -- Neil Campbell and Beau Dick at the Contemporary Art Gallery, curated by Roy Arden. Forthcoming review in the Georgia Straight:

At the Contemporary Art Gallery until April 25


“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” goes the old saying, and nowhere is it more apt than in the heavily bureaucratized world of Canadian art, where artists who expect to accelerate their careers must devote time they’d usually spend in the studio to completing Canada Council grant applications or duplicating résumés and slides destined for curators’ desks. Comparatively less public attention is paid to those artists who, either by temperament or independent financial means, work around or outside the public- and commercial-gallery systems.

Curator Roy Arden’s new project at the Contemporary Art Gallery pairs two local artists, Neil Campbell and Beau Dick, in what Arden calls a “celebration” of the work of two men who, one suspects, would continue to make work even in the absence of any kind of established gallery system. The show’s title, Supernatural, refers to the B.C. tourist industry’s employment of iconic local artists like Emily Carr and Bill Reid to promote a sense of place. In Arden’s eyes, Campbell’s and Dick’s reluctance to hype themselves and their work makes them emblematic of a West Coast counter-tradition, one that, while just as rooted in place, doesn’t consciously seek public acceptance or fame. This doesn’t mean that either artist is a rube, uncritically churning art out of a cloud of feelings. Campbell was shown, for a while, by a leading New York commercial gallery, and demonstrates a sophisticated grasp of contemporary abstraction. Dick is a well-regarded Kwakwaka’wakw artist equally admired for his work’s formal innovations and his refusal to confine himself to any fixed style.

Both artists, then, are united by not only their dedication to their undeniably idiosyncratic careers but also the similar effects their objects have on viewers. Campbell’s wall paintings and relief sculptures create an almost visceral response, just as Dick’s masks do in those who experience them either as static sculptures or as accessories to dance performances.

I once saw one of Campbell’s huge wall paintings, composed of two floor-to-ceiling shapes that resembled fluorescent-pink pieces of macaroni or the tentacles of some creature out of horror novelist H. P. Lovecraft’s imagination, induce an epileptic fit in a viewer, which still strikes me as one of the highest compliments his work could ever receive. (A sketch for that painting, titled Howdy, is included in a group of studies in the current show).

Campbell’s pieces are large geometric shapes, flatly painted on walls or computer-cut from steel. These works are optical puzzles that play with illusion and perspective; things pop out of space, or bend and warp like objects in a sideshow mirror. The wall painting Saskatchewan’s fluorescent-yellow dots seem to leap off the wall and fly straight into viewers’ eyes. Dog, a computer-cut piece of painted steel, either looks like four black arrows or four white circles. Both patterns are present simultaneously, yet the eye and brain seem unable to resolve things in favour of one or the other.

Drawings and notebook sketches pinned to the wall beside the larger pieces suggest ample historical precedents for Campbell’s work: Op art, Pop art’s garish colours, Elsworth Kelly’s shaped canvases, the optical games of James Turrell, as well as M. C. Escher and Henri Matisse. Campbell blends his knowledge of these and countless other sources in a unique way, one that does not interpret the history of abstraction as a linear narrative, but rather skips lightly over history, drawing parallels between art movements and cultures that most historians would probably not dare mention in the same breath; i.e., op art and tantric art, Yogic chakras and neo-geo. I should also add that most of Campbell’s works are very funny; their manic slapstick energy owes something to Japanese cartooning and underground comics.

Campbell’s pieces are so visually distinctive that they are impossible to misidentify. Beau Dick’s masks, on the other hand, look nothing like one another. It is a tribute to Dick’s skill as a sculptor that the first impression his room of masks conveys is not that of a solo exhibition, but a group show. The two versions of the Pookmis Mask on display, for example, are “roughly” carved and finished with dry, scabby applications of white and green paint. In this way, Dick indicates both the supernatural origins of the Pookmis character and the limitations of the swelling, smoothly painted style popularized by Kwakwaka’wakw artists in the 1950s and subsequently misidentified by non-Kwakwaka’wakw artists as the preferred style, instead of one of many. Similarly, Dick’s Ghost Mask seems to nod in the direction of both Japanese anime and the look of the Scream trilogy’s psycho killer.

Associations like these show how contemporary Dick’s art really is, and how historical and modern techniques dance side by side within it, to the point where, like Campbell’s work, it becomes impossible to distinguish them, so that the only thing that remains to do is to applaud Arden’s thoughtful celebration of the “supernatural” parallels between Dick’s and Campbell’s creative indpendence.

Tales of the Plush Cthulhu -- just about what you'd expect. Thanks Dru!
Monday, April 12, 2004
Earth Impact Calculator -- lob asteroids at your favorite metropolis or other North American landmark
Are You An Artist? -- nope! Neither, by the look of things, are the guys who cooked up this site and endearingly low-fi "multimedia presentation."
Sunday, April 11, 2004
For those without an emulator, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Moon Patrol, Tetris, and other 80s Arcade Favorites. Thanks Dru!
MAME32 -- old arcade favorites live again, thanks to this handy downloadable emulator. Snow Bros., anyone?
Tove Jansson in conversation:

"Most of the people are homesick anyway, and a little lonely, and they hide themselves in their hair and are turned into flowers. Sometimes they are turned into frogs and God keeps an eye on them the whole time and forgives them when he isn't angry and hurt and destroying whole cities because they believe in other gods."
Comet in Moominland -- the best example of Tove Jansson's watercolor work I know; this picture's weird combination of menace and surrealist charm has haunted me since childhood. Lots of other Moomin-themed work by Jansson and her sculptor companion on the same site.
Deltron 3030 -- back on the shop playlist
Tove Jansson R.I.P. -- detailed obituary and bibliography of one of the 20th century's greatest author/illustrators. The first paragraph's comparisons to Carroll and Tolkein are by no means overstated.
Moomins redux -- still photographs? screen shots? Can't be sure. Wish there was a way to dial that soundtrack down, though.
The Little Trolls and the Great Flood -- the first Moomintitle, no English translation. Aaaargh!
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Road trip near Chernobyl. Go slow. Lots to see here.
Robert Adams, Colorado series and some others
"Boy, what a great job," says an unthinking bookstore visitor almost daily. "You must have lots of time to read!" Well, not really, as this all-too-brief list of recently completed titles should show:

Peter Rabe, Kill The Boss Goodbye. The German psychologist-cum-noir-novelist's best known book, originally issued by Gold Medal in 1956 and reprinted by Black Lizard. Gang boss Fell is sprung from the private hospital where he's been recovering from a psychotic breakdown, only to find himself falling apart all over again as he tries to piece his empire back together. . . .

Rabe's my favorite non-canonical noir writer; his stories are distinguished by their constantly shifting points of view; spare syntax; and dry, coal-black humor. Much admired by major crime novelists like Donald Westlake and John D. MacDonald, Rabe is almost unknown today, a situation I hope to fix by compiling a critical bibliography of Rabe's twenty-plus novels, to be posted on the store's website sometime soon. . . .

Georges Perec, "The Winter Journey." Borges? He loved him madly.

Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron. Recommended by Warren Buffett in Berkshire Hathaway's 2003 annual report and, sure enough, a thoroughly detailed and entertaining account of American capitalism run totally amok. Very much in the spirit of a late Shakespearian history play set in 20th century Houston. An entire chapter is devoted to a play-by-play reconstruction of Enron's power traders busily scamming the state of California. Highlights here soon!

Friday, April 09, 2004
Just published a slightly revised version of this short piece on Patrick McDonnell's comic strip Mutts in the pages of the new Vancouver Review:

Christopher Brayshaw looks at the best comic strip since Peanuts

Every morning, when I open The Vancouver Sun to the comics page, I read the same two strips. The first is Lynn Johnson’s For Better or For Worse, which I've been following since elementary school. Part of checking in with the Patterson family is simple nostalgia; I'm just plain curious to know how the fictitious characters I’ve grown up with have changed along with me.

Patrick McDonnell’s Mutts is the second, and my motivation for reading it is something else entirely. If you don’t already know, the strip is about a little spotted dog, Earl; his friend and next-door neighbour, the little black cat Mooch; Earl’s owner, Ozzie; Mooch’s owners, the retired couple Frank and Millie; their pet goldfish, Sid; the watchdog chained in the backyard a few houses down; the stout man behind the counter at the Fatty Snax deli; and the neighborhood tomcat.

But Mutts is also about the caged strays on death row at the local animal shelter, just waiting to be gassed; the penned-up chimps at the medical research lab; the crated pigs at the fattening facility where the lights are always on; the circus elephant chained outside the tents on the edge of town, dreaming of Africa; and finally, the African animals that once visited Mooch and Earl in their dreams to report, “We’re scared.”

Mutts is impossibly large. Its subject is the world, all living beings in it, and their relationships with each other. Yet the strip never reads like a PETA or Earth First! tract. Its touch is incredibly light and gentle, which explains how it alights in your mind and rests there. Most of the strips found on today’s daily comic pages are founded on an unwritten pact between cartoonist, syndicate, and creator. Syndicates hire cartoonists to target to specific demographic niches: the young single women who read Cathy, say, or the latte-sipping intellectuals who head straight to Bizarro. We know, instinctively, that none of Cathy’s friends will ever have an abortion or contract herpes from a one-night stand; the strip’s simple focus on relationship- and work-based comedy precludes such “reality” from intruding. Mutts, like all truly great comic strips, makes no such promises, and the way that McDonnell’s stories oscillate between gentle comedy and understated pathos is the strip’s greatest strength.

When I first read Mutts, I thought it was a second-rate strip: gorgeously drawn but kind of aimless. McDonnell’s jokes never really cohered, and his characters spent most of their time wandering around in a wide-eyed fog, gazing out at the world. Then, sometime in the strip’s second year, everything locked into place. McDonnell’s deliberate, almost meditative pace, I realized, allowed him to notice things that other cartoonists, in their haste to be funny or “relevant,” miss. I finally understood that McDonnell was refusing to accept the customary contract between creator and reader. He was refusing to perform, to debase his characters in order to come up with zingy or poignant punch lines day in, day out, 364 days a year. He let Mooch and Earl and the rest evolve at their own pace--incrementally, like the seasons.

Mutts is an anomaly among the current funny pages, which are by and large a wasteland of stilted, inexpressive drawing and sitcom-style dialogue. Fat, lazy cats and neurotic young professionals may shift a lot of greeting cards, coffee mugs, and black-and-white reprint collections. But they look awfully thin and unappealing compared to the great newspaper strips of the past: Frank King’s Gasoline Alley, George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, and E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre. These strips are still loved and studied today, and have inspired contemporary cartoonists as otherwise diverse as Chris Ware, Sherry Flenniken, Joe Matt, Kaz, and Gary Panter.

Yet purists who advocate a return to the lush production standards of classic newspaper strips like Gasoline Alley and Little Nemo In Slumberland are living in dreamlands of their own. The rich colors and gorgeous linework of a Lionel Feininger or Windsor McCay strip are impossible to reproduce today, given economic realities like shrinking newspaper comics sections and relatively impoverished printing and colouring technologies. Those who knock Scott Adams’ Dilbert for the jaw-dropping crudity of its linework fail to recognize that his supposedly poor drawing skills are perfectly suited to the high-tech yet raw mechanical systems that enable the strip’s reproduction and dissemination.

McDonnell’s artwork is, in its own way, as “spare” as Scott Adams’s. His lines is busy, quick, abbreviated; they lift and flick and dart. Earl’s wagging tail is a flurry of strokes, the visual equivalent of a fencer’s assault. Mooch’s fur is all fat black brushstrokes; the little cat looks like he only takes four or five strokes. But, as Charles Schultz proved years ago with Peanuts, in modern comics, visual economy is often more. Charlie Brown looks awfully easy to draw until you actually try to duplicate that staggeringly simple bald head. The same is true of Mooch, Earl, Sourpuss, Jules, or any of the other Mutts regulars. Behind their apparent visual simplicity lies McDonnell’s imagination, which draws upon great comic art of the past not merely to reproduce it, but to reinterpret it.

The stylistic homages that lead off each Sunday strip (to Mondrian; to Charles Schultz; to Dalí; to the anonymous designer of a 1930s biscuit tin) are a case in point, evidence of McDonnell’s vast, democratic interest in every kind of art. Other strips--including one in which a wild deer crops grass in front of a vast, snowy expanse of suburban tract houses, or the ones that feature Mooch and Earl talking to squirrels, birds, and Africa’s most endangered creatures--are evidence of an equally deep interest in the natural world and all living creatures. At the midpoint of these abiding interests, McDonnell creates his moving, authentic art.

The Secret 3 show was good but short, a single slot on what looked to be a six band lineup.

I've had the site's other live track, Brokaw, on any number of compilation discs, so often, in fact, that hearing it now brings several different places to mind. Skirting the edge of Nevada's Walker Lake at dusk, for example, the big rigs rolling south past my rented Echo with their lights on.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
My painter neighbor upstairs, Kevin House, dropped a copy of his new CD by. Kevin's self-described "sideshow banner art" doesn't do that much for me, so I was a little unsure of what the CD would sound like. Having had it on all day now, I think it's terrific, full of tasty, Nick Drake-ish acoustic guitar and warm, understated vocals. John & Chris also like it, probably the first time in the store's history that the three principals all agree on the same CD.

CD release party: Friday 15th April, @ the Anza, 8th and Ontario

Off to the Anza right now, to catch Brady Cranfield and his friends in The Secret 3, the only local band I've seen live more than once this decade. That's me lurking somewhere in the background of their amazing cover of Cortez the Killer at the Patricia Hotel, drinking Kilkenney, smiling, and nodding along.
Retrospective -- photographs by my friend Evan Lee, including some new ones
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
A free afternoon. Can't think of anything better than soaking up Vitamin D in the warm spring sun. Off to my favorite park bench in New Westminster, a quiet place overlooking the Fraser River and a few bridges, with my backpack, the New York Times, and Maggie Mahar's Bull! : A History of the Boom, 1982-1999: What drove the Breakneck Market--and What Every Investor Needs to Know About Financial Cycles.

Driving to Squamish tomorrow, for the year's first conditioning hike and some summit bouldering. Back Thursday!

Monday, April 05, 2004
Steely Dan Live At Roseland '95 fills the office speakers:

Bad Sneakers

Five names that I can hardly
Stand to hear
Including yours and mine
And one more chimp who isn't here
I can see the ladies talking
How the times are getting hard
And that fearsome excavation
On Magnolia Boulevard
And I'm going insane
And I'm laughing at the frozen rain
And I'm so alone
Honey when they gonna send me home
Bad sneakers and a Piña Colada
My friend
Stompin' on the avenue
By Radio City with a
Transistor and a large
Sum of money to spend

You fellah, you tearin' up the street
You wear that white tuxedo
How you gonna beat the heat
Do you take me for a fool
Do you think that I don't see
That ditch out in the valley
That they're digging just for me

Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, the best non-specialist account of pre-911 Afghanistan I know
Can the Market Add and Subtract? -- persuasive evidence that tech investors can't
Trapped in a plastic display bubble at Kingsgate Mall -- Hamtaro finger puppets
A young guy arrived in front of the store with a placard. I wandered outside with memories of the Joe's Cafe boycott fresh in my mind, wondering what I'd done to attract my very own protester. False alarm -- just local indie rap artist Wojack plugging his website and new CD to passers-by.
Sunday, April 04, 2004 -- the graveyard of American capitalism. No Dismal Swamp Co. certificates in evidence, but lots of defunct industrial giants and flighty .coms.
Saturday, April 03, 2004 -- thousands of live BitTorrented concert sets, including The Flaming Lips, the hard-to-find Miles Davis/Prince sessions, 14+ hours of live/unreleased Neil Young, Elvis Costello, and (downloading right now), early-90s Steely Dan.
The first really warm day so far this year, the air thick with pollen and the scents of grass and earth.

Out most of the day in my friend John's battered white van. We made a few prearranged house calls and collected the remains of a garage sale, up Main Street near Riley Park, a pleasant half hour spent pushing moving dollies stacked with boxes of books back and forth to the van. Birdsong, young couples and their dogs, a few people dropping in to haggle over stemware, CDs, or an electric kiln.

Then, later, down by English Bay, 127 boxes of hardcover drek in a parking garage, not really my kind of deal at all, but I went along with John to make the insulting lowball take-everything-and-make-it-disappear offer customary in such circumstances. The books were described as "the remains of a private library," but looked more like "the remains of a church bazaar." The collection's owner, a strappingly hale-and-hearty guy in his early 60s who might have been a retired stockbroker or a motivational consultant, beckoned us inside to make our pitch. While John talked, I eyeballed the widescreen plasma-screen TV, the wet bar, the huge billiards table, the ostentatious chandeliers, dripping with cut-glass jewels, and the expensive couch, from the end of which protruded an elderly female hand.

John made his offer. Phone numbers were exchanged. The hand and its unseen owner didn't stir the whole time we were there.

Friday, April 02, 2004
Like motor oil in a bottle -- St-Ambroise McAuslan Oatmeal Stout, courtesy the Kingsgate Mall BCLDB outlet.
Sadly sold -- Marc Bell
Just finished writing this review of the work of Quebecois photographer Alain Paiement, the first really pleasant surprise of the 2004 exhibition season:

New Cartographies
By Christopher Brayshaw

Walter Benjamin, writing in the late Thirties on Karl Blossfeldt’s close-up studies of plant anatomy, famously remarked that Blossfeldt’s pictures had brought a new kind of aesthetic perception into being by presenting tangible evidence of a world that, while continuous with our own, had previously lingered just beyond human perception. In Benjamin’s opinion, one of the most powerful arguments in favor of photography’s precarious status as an independent art medium, and not merely a novel technology, was the ease with which it sharpened and focused aesthetic perception, training it on subjects that had never previously basked in its gaze.

Standing in Presentation House Gallery before Montreal artist Alain Paiement’s huge tiled architectural photographs, Walter Benjamin came immediately to mind and refused to depart. Paiement’s photographs are large – some are very large, eight or ten feet high and more than fifteen feet long – composite images of habited spaces – a bakery; the second-floor residences and offices above it; a squat; an urban apartment, and so on. Most of Paiement’s images are shot from above, looking down, as if a roof had been peeled back like the lid on a sardine can or blown away by a storm, so that you look down into the messy space beneath, as if from on high.

As Presentation House curator Bill Jeffries writes, “Paiement seems to say, ‘Let’s look closely at the world upon which we walk, sleep and eat, but not as the eye sees it, rather as an all-knowing mind might see it’; rather than looking up at the ceiling to see the gods, he gives us the view of the gods as they might peer down upon us.” Perspective is unfixed in Paiement’s pictures; the finished images are composites of many different exposures and conceal multiple vanishing points. Walls bend in and out a la a funhouse mirror, and objects appear and disappear in a complex dance of interlocking planes and textures. Looking at Paiement’s pictures is not like looking into a Renaissance perspective box, a shallow, illusionistic 3D space in which objects are variously dispersed, but is rather like gazing into a vortex that draws both eye and body in. The sense of falling down into a scene spread horizontally on a wall is a very strange one, and one that evoked, at least for me, a brief moment of nausea and fear. I felt myself rock, very gently, on my heels as I approached one of Paiement’s larger pictures, then those first disagreeable sensations slowly gave way to surprise and finally to elation as I oriented myself and began to navigate the picture.

Paiement’s images demand a specific kind of attention, a light scanning motion, similar to that of a diver moving above a seabed, or a pilot flying over a landscape. There is no horizon in the photographs to orient you, just an endless proliferation of details – a couple bathing together in a milk-white ceramic tub, an colored afghan flung over a chair, its contours skewed into a bright pinwheel of shapes -- the tattoo on a baker’s arm, a crowd running by in the street outside with flags, the circular staircase at the back of a building that looks as complex an ammonite’s spiral shell. You could spend hours, if you liked, counting the individual rolls in a bakery case or the dirty dishes in an apartment sink. This knowledge is dizzying at first – the implication that, if you wanted to, you could really hold all these things together in your head – then sobering, as you realize how long it would actually take and how much you would necessarily forget in the process. Paiement’s pictures invoke, then disclaim, any utopian claims to deity-level comprehension. This deadly serious philosophical task, and the humor and abundant technical skill Paiement brings to bear on it, reminds me of Georges Perec’s great novel Life: A User’s Manual, which anatomizes, room by room and floor by floor, each inhabitant of a Parisian apartment block, beginning with their physical surroundings and moving on to their personal histories, their inner lives, and their dreams. If I say that Paiement’s art stands comparison with Perec’s, I mean no hyperbole, but merely want to show how much the works on display at Presentation House Gallery surprised and moved me. It is rare these days to encounter artworks that are truly technically innovative, rarer still to encounter works in which technical and conceptual innovation float in such perfect, precarious equilibrium.

How to draw a dragon. Flash, and a little slow to load, but worth the wait.
Some helpful business advice, sourced off the Net and about as reliable and accurate as a cynic might reasonably expect advice from such a source to be. The business equivalent of the kid in the back row of your high school chemistry class who kept daring you to put that stick of phosphorus in your pocket and take it home.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year) by Donald Fagen, from The Nightfly, a favorite tune of mine for decades:

Standing tough under stars and stripes
We can tell
This dream's in sight
You've got to admit it
At this point in time that it's clear
The future looks bright
On that train all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
Well by seventy-six we'll be A.O.K.

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

Get your ticket to that wheel in space
While there's time
The fix is in
You'll be a witness to that game of chance in the sky
You know we've got to win
Here at home we'll play in the city
Powered by the sun
Perfect weather for a streamlined world
There'll be spandex jackets one for everyone

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

On that train all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
(More leisure for artists everywhere)
A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
We'll be clean when their work is done
We'll be eternally free yes and eternally young

"Smashed in the yellow Jag / I've got my life and laundry in a Gladstone bag--"

High-quality MP3 version of Steely Dan's most famous unreleased tune, The Second Arrangement, destined for the Gaucho album and accidentally erased by an unthinking studio engineer. Slower piano-and-vocals version on the same site, along with numerous hard-to-find demos, soundtracks, interviews & etc.

Unexpectedly, on the Cuppa Joe sound system, The Eurythmics' SexCrime, from their terrific 1984 soundtrack, all flurrying keyboards and synthetic drums alongside Annie Lennox's lovely spooky voice, which soars and drops abruptly, like a plane in turbulence.

I loved this album in my twenties, playing at least one vinyl copy and one cassette to death. Found another tape at Charlie's Music City downtown, then destroyed it in the deck of a rented Toyota on the way down the almost 4-wheel drive road from Hickman Pass to Bella Coola.

Nothing but clear sky this morning, snow on all the North Shore peaks and sunlight, hard blue April glare.

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