Sunday, October 31, 2004

Wheels and Cogs Turning Dept.

Q: Are you saying you want him dead or alive, sir? Can I interpret --

THE PRESIDENT: I just remember, all I'm doing is remembering when I was a kid I remember that they used to put out there in the old west, a wanted poster. It said: "Wanted, Dead or Alive." All I want and America wants him brought to justice. That's what we want.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Fungi of British Columbia -- large web database with loads of detailed color pictures

A Failed Presidency

The New Yorker's editors weigh in

"The damage visited upon America, and upon America’s standing in the world, by the Bush Administration’s reckless mishandling of the public trust will not easily be undone. And for many voters the desire to see the damage arrested is reason enough to vote for John Kerry. But the challenger has more to offer than the fact that he is not George W. Bush. In every crucial area of concern to Americans (the economy, health care, the environment, Social Security, the judiciary, national security, foreign policy, the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism), Kerry offers a clear, corrective alternative to Bush’s curious blend of smugness, radicalism, and demagoguery. Pollsters like to ask voters which candidate they’d most like to have a beer with, and on that metric Bush always wins. We prefer to ask which candidate is better suited to the governance of our nation."
Dear Limey Asshole...

Friday, October 29, 2004
Just now back from Seattle. Boxes of books everywhere.

William Gibson's a/ still alive, and, b/ blogging again, which makes me very happy indeed.

Two short clips of a much younger President Dubya here, courtesy WG Blog.

(Both links dead, originally available at Might be worth checking to see if they rematerialize. Link 1: Dubya offering the camera the finger as the countdown to airtime begins. Link 2: drunk Governor? Texas Rangers manager? Dubya swaying on his feet, offering all-too-candid assessements of acquaintences as the camera rolls)

Note (plea?) to my American readers: on November 2nd, please vote the Kerry/Edwards ticket, and send Dubya back home to Texas.

Newsflash: link #1 back up!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
From Yahoo news:

Campaigning Bush puts focus on economy

"'We're on the move. We're going forward. We're not going to go back to the days of tax and spend,' said the president. "We're headed in the right direction in America.'"

News story directly above previous news story:

Bush Could Seek Up to $75 Billion in War Funding

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration, faced with a growing insurgency and record fuel costs, plans early next year to seek $50 billion to $75 billion in emergency funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, administration and congressional officials said on Tuesday."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Hyde Brothers Books, Fort Wayne, Indiana, a huge sprawling open shop and one of the highlights of my cross-America drive last summer. Reminded now of Sam Hyde's kindness (Dealer discount! Storeroom in the next building over promptly unlocked! Ethel Wilson American PBO with a racy cover, and stacks of Charles Williams crime fiction!) and the incredible maze of traffic I had to navigate to find the shop in the first place, by this Jack Spicer letter, which I just found on line:

"Fort Wayne, Indiana, is the capital of Nitrogen. All streets end there. No buses arrive there except those that carry direct mail or cargoes of Negroes en route on the Underground Railway. There has never been a city made up of so many arms.

You can see Troy, New York in the distance.

Christmas poems and lovers' holly branches grow there in the winter as well as stuffings of turkeys, memory pie, and little droppings of passing angels. It is not reached by air.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, has industries and tournament golf, and blocks and blocks of weeping buildings. It is built on high ground above the slough of utter unwinding. The birds which all look like seagulls or cormorants in its artificial sky finish singing when the day is over. At night they look like elephants. People watch them with telescopes as they hover.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana the trees are dying and you can see footprints in the rather wet snow. People take their motor scooters to bed with them. Come back to California, come back to California every map-maker, every map-maker is pleading to James Alexander.

'What do the sparrows eat in the winter?' I asked someone once in Minneapolis. He replied, 'They eat horse turds if they can find them.'

There are acres of cold snow.


John Latta, again -- Pete to thank I think for this link to Hotel Point, though I found Samizdat magazine all by myself last night, desperately trying to to avoid editing the as-yet embargoed art review I've been postponing for days.

Both Samizdat poems make landscape-minded me happy, the lines below especially so.

I love something enough to make it
Into something else, to pull its own

Peculiar shapliness into a kind of helplessly writ cloud-
Bundle of my own, it always comes out like this.
Because the sky is always more

Than grammar and the clouds
That stipple it do so
To appropriate, willingly or un-"
The Mushroom Show

was lots of fun. Gene and I collected a bag of samples on the walk up. Lots of fruiting bodies on lawns and public greenways.

Mushroom people look a lot like comic book people. "Great -- another hobby full of freaks and weirdos," said Sylvia, only partially kidding, upon receiving the full report.

Elderly Chinese couples, elderly Russians, Hungarians, Dutch and Poles, guys resembling Mr. Letcher, my high school biology teacher ("See this preserved locust? Watch what happens when I hit it with this hammer!"), lonely middle aged public library newspaper readers, wandery bookstore dudes, baby hippies in afghans and flip-flops, hardcore university mycologists, Kits yuppies, little kids....

The mega-shrooms I spotted in the Anderson River Group in July are King boletes. Edible and valuable!

Sunday, October 24, 2004
Bitter Critic vs. 30 Seconds on Google

Bitter Critic:

"There's a fine essay by R.C. Harvey, who's always worth reading. Then there's a babbling, pretentious and insight-free analysis of the formal aesthetics of Kirby's work by Christopher Brayshaw. TCJ seems to have a blind spot about the size of Jupiter for this kind of garbage, and Groth just can't help cluttering up his coffee-table masterpiece with a few pages of it here."


"Rob Salkowitz is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, Washington. His business, Rob Salkowitz Associates, Inc., provides strategic marketing and communications services for technology companies, and is currently engaged with Microsoft to develop a vision around the future of information work. Rob also writes reviews for Comic Buyers Guide."

Game set and match!


It's the Vancouver Mycological Association's Annual Mushroom Show! (details to follow) Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Forest litter, Kanaka Creek Park, Maple Ridge, B.C.

That Ruskin picture, right at twilight? Don't ask. Posted by Hello
Friday, October 22, 2004
Three new John Latta poems here

"Gap-tooth’d and blue, I
Dive the slurry stretches of
Sky, sky myself and goatish.
I want a minstrelsy wench.
I want a slender Russian
Apple-picker to chuck green
Granny Smiths at me, beginning
With a zhili byli, one
Way to momentarily lock up
A sizeable piece of continuum..."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Lawrence Weiner, As Long as It Lasts (collection: public freehold)

Some more useful thoughts about producing and disseminating artworks digitally
, courtesy the Guggenheim's Jon Ippolito:

"Digital watermarks are a bit harder to see (and easier to rub off), which makes it very easy for unscrupulous artists to download someone else's photo and pass it off as their own work. How is the artist of the original photo to prevent the public from destabilizing the market for her work?

"Again, the answer may be not to fight such destabilization but to encourage it. In the 1960s and 70s artists explored many relationships with their audience that were a lot more interesting than simply 'I make, you buy.' Since the 1970s Sol LeWitt has created a series of 'democratic drawings' made from folded paper and altered maps whose price is permanently fixed at $100 (take that, art market). While most of Lawrence Weiner's ephemeral language-based installations can be bought and sold via certificates of authenticity, he has entrusted his piece BROKEN OFF to public freehold--thus 'breaking off' any claims he or anyone else might have to future ownership of the work. Robert Morris was ticked off at a collector who had never paid for his art work Litanies (1963), so he created a new work (Statement of Aesthetic Withdrawal, 1963) that includes a notarized statement in which Morris claims to withdraw from Litanies all aesthetic quality and content. (No doubt this act brought a shudder to all those who place artistic intent paramount among the sources of aesthetic meaning.) In one of the most elaborate examples of a Conceptual artist provoking a new relationship with his audience, Douglas Huebler announced in 1969 that he was adding $1,100 to the reward for the capture of outlaw Edmund Kite McIntyre, who was already wanted by the FBI for bank robbery. Any collector who bought the piece acquired not only the wanted poster with Huebler's affidavit, but also the responsibility for paying the reward. (One can only assume that Mr. McIntyre would have been less than pleased to learn of Huebler's latest innovation in artist-public interaction.)"
Coming Attractions

I've been making pictures for a while, first with a manual focus camera and then, when my (never substantial) patience ran out, with a tiny 35mm autofocus I bought for $50 at a Wal-Mart in Butte, Montana. The camera used to just go on book scouting and mountaineering trips, but, lately, I've found myself returning to places I had initially wandered through, with the idea of trying to recreate feelings or sensations I had when I was first there. I think this impulse might be art, or something close to it, in that it seems planned, more made than taken. Often this process involves thinking about landscape, something I seem to have been doing for as long as I can remember.

Anyone who has ever seen Clement Greenberg's paintings will have at least one good argument for why critics shouldn't make art of their own. Still...

Editions of 5, mostly smallish c-type prints, 8 x 10" or 11" x 14". First of each edition's free, just r.s.v.p to First come, first served. All the others are $50CDN each including mailing.

(I think this might be an experiment with "alternative distribution systems." Back when I was running Anodyne, I was always amazed at the number of people who expressed interest in buying the art on display but wouldn't for one of two reasons: either they genuinely couldn't afford it, or they wanted the reputation of a "real" (e.g., for-profit) gallery to certify it. I was also amazed by how many of Jason McLean's friends seemed to own his work, and how his freely given or budget-priced objects were always proudly displayed by their owners, instead of being squirreled away in storage or in some dealer's back room. And I have always admired Lawrence Weiner's designating certain of his works as "public freehold.")


Kanaka Creek, Maple Ridge, B.C. A toss-up yesterday between a return visit to Larabee State Park -- with photo gear this time -- or Ruskin, B.C. (pursuit! fear! catastrophe!) Woke up at noon, too late for morning light on that special sandstone cliff, obtained car at 2pm, drove out Highway 7 watching light leak steadily out of the day, and got as far as the Maple Ridge Value Village, where the rain started in earnest.

Several hours spent on Kanaka Creek's winding trails and at the hatchery, fish-watching and mushroom photographing. Great downed snags in the creek. Veils of waterfalls along the steepest parts of the canyon. Mist dropping down through the trees. The showers cleared, briefly, and Golden Ears and Edge Peak rose out of the clouds to the north.

A brief visit to the fish fence at 240th Street. Pissed-off huge salmon, their bodies cut and bruised in countless places, leapt shivering from the river, knocking against the bars of the counting cage. You could hear them very clearly from the parking lot -- bong bong bong, ringing against the metal like a distant cowbell, then the gunshot slaps of their weight hitting the water.

One picture of Ruskin, right at twilight. Grey lake, grey parking lot, grey mist rising off black hills, grey pickup in the grey gravel parking lot and an aircraft warning buoy on the overhead wires, bright orange, the only real color at all in the picture. When the disk comes back from London Drugs I'll post it here.Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Jeff Wall -- new (at least to me) short interview

"I can’t explain why I want to make this or that picture except to say that I never have an idea for a photograph. I have a subject, which derives from my experience, and some sense of a picture that might be made with that subject. I wouldn’t like to have an idea for a picture, or in relation to a picture. As for ideas, I might develop some in the process of analyzing the subject, or the mood or feeling suggested by the subject, and seeing if I sense that it can become a good picture. That’s a complicated process and I can’t explain it, but what’s important is that I have an intuition that what I consider a good picture might be possible starting from a certain subject."
Every Bus Stop in Surrey, B.C. -- web archive and slideshow!

Monday, October 18, 2004
Rackstraw Downes on Robert Smithson (among many other things)

"Smithson was a very brilliant polemicist for what he was doing. He died very young, and that was very sad because obviously he was an extremely daring and free-spirited man. He was not held back by any constraints; he tried all sorts of wild things. That’s very important, to have such people around. He broke a lot of ice, and I have a great deal of respect for that. My connection to Smithson came when I started working in New Jersey, where Smithson came from. In New Jersey you see what he would have called entropy very much at work with things which he considered wasted or used up. I have a slightly different idea: I think there’s a certain hypocrisy in our attitude to landscape. We give it a role in our mental construction of the world, that it is somehow pure and outside us and separate from us and over there, and we’re over here, and what we do is impure compared to nature, or dirty, or somehow that we’re not worthy of nature. Alternatively, there is a view that man is the center of everything and measure of everything and therefore we’re greater than nature. For me, we’re part of it. I can’t paint a landscape without some notion of man being in there."

Rackstraw Downes, Three London Plane Trees Near the Track in Red Hook Park (2002)

"Oh, realism," said an artist friend who should have first looked and then spoken. Downes' paintings are concerned with how perception organizes itself, and in translating this organizing process into paint. In practice this means multiple points of perspective; objects wrap and bend and warp around his canvases in ways that can probably only ever be accomplished with brushes and pigment. And so the landscapes depicted in these reticent pictures -- Texas irrigation ditches; East Coast parks; desert suburbs -- are inner landscapes, too, maps of how the eyes and mind (to say nothing of the heart) translate sight into knowing.

Great Peter Schjeldahl review and color illustration in this week's New Yorker, interview and more pictures from the current show here.

From Schjeldahl:

"Philosophically, “realism” is the doctrine that things exist independent of our perceptions of them. In art, it names any effort to square perception with what is perceived—a project long ceded, in modern times, to photography. There is an existentialist, not to say quixotic, flavor to Downes’s insistence on realizing the real by hand. Such is the case with his five-canvas study of the Rio Grande flood-monitoring station, an accumulation of views of an antennaed metal shack above a tire-tracked floodplain, red aerial markers on an overhead cable that stretches to a distant bluff, prickly brush, sun-soaked concrete, umber shadows, and burning blue sky. The result is a sense of place overwhelming in its very banality. Downes likes jam-ups of culture and nature, where practical human uses overlap with indifferent geology and shaggy flora—he is the bard of weeds."Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 17, 2004
Why are you posting at 5:24 am? (instant replay in bold)

Great big book sale (this year they advertised "120,000 books," which, based on previous years, is probably accurate) in Undisclosed Location (Fraser Valley) at 7am! (already underway when we arrived; probably 80,000-85,000 books, not counting kids' books and series romance)

The Pulpfiction All Stars: Chris B., Chris C., other Chris C. the bookscout, Chris C. the bookscout's friend (didn't show), Abe, Keith and Gavin from Book and Comic Emporium (slept in -- forcibly rousted from bed and packed into the car).

Hopefully the sight of so many intensely focused, hyper-caffeinated men at the head of the lineup will instantly put every less commited dealer off their game.

(This roll call all the more amazing considering that prompting used booksellers to do anything as a group before 9am is like herding cats)

Q: Why so much overkill?

A: Unnamed Local Competitor, who, for several years running, hired what seemed like every kid from the local high school, stuffed them all into fluorescent yellow t-shirts bearing his business' name, and parked them at the head of the line. Dealers arriving more than 5 minutes after the sale started were able to spot every good book in the sale -- stacked up in the 18-24 shopping carts up by the cash desk, wrapped up with yellow crime scene tape and a handwritten note reading, "[Unnamed Local Competitor] -- SOLD." (1 VW Jetta of books returned to Vancouver through pouring rain, old Smiths tunes accompanying us through showers and snow up on the Cheam Range).

Saturday, October 16, 2004
Paperback Exchange Stamps -- Benjamin's "just past"

Better Buy Book Exchange
50% Trade -- Used Pocket Books
4393 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver 8, B.C.

144 East Broadway
Vancouver, B.C.
V5T 1V9
Science Fiction
And More
Ph: (604) 872-2939

3621 West 4th Avenue
Phone REgent 3-1711

PHONE: 731-9642
We Buy -- Sell & Trade
Pocket Books, Magazines & Comics

Friday, October 15, 2004
Cheerful, slightly tipsy customer who didn't get into the Annie Sprinkle show at the Western Front shows off her skull-and-crossbones-emblazoned mittens to me:

"So I figure, pirates are the bad guys, right? So I'm gonna stitch P-I-R-A-T-E on these knuckles, and R-A-D-I-O on these ones."


"They're really warm. Here, try this on."

(pause while my size L hand works its way up into a size S-M mitten, prompting the evening's final brilliant thought):

"It's like putting your hand inside a cat."

Thursday, October 14, 2004
A mostly busy day spent listening to Pet Sounds and cleaning and pricing the stacks of new books that wouldn't stop pouring in.

Cool puffs of air through the open door, fog drifting up and down the street all day, haloing the streetlights.

Days like today I could almost conceive of this as a career.

Deep into David Searcy's amazing pseudo-horror novel Last Things.

From an interview with the elusive Mr. S:

"Pretty much everything I write (and am likely to write, I think) derives from ideas in a long and probably fairly muddled essay I wrote in the eighties, itself inspired by the Pogo character Howland Owl's determination to visit the sun equipped with space faring gear assembled from simple household odds and ends. This seems to be my essential fable - the idiotic exhilaration of that (the watering can for a space helmet especially nice, his having to peek out through the sprinkler's perforations). So, anyway, whatever I write, I'm afraid, can probably trace itself straight back to that. The fundamentally helter-skelter, pots-and-pans-like clatter of even the most exalted intuition."

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Customer, picking up her hold, asks Keith and I a series of intricate questions crafted like a Russian nesting doll, designed to elicit our opinion as to the most famous living English-language short story writer.

Our double-barrelled answer, "Alice Munro and Stephen King," with Harlan Ellison suiting up in the dressing room as a possible third choice, pleases no one: not the customer, and definitely neither of us, who feel like vulgar popularizers under the weight of her (largely) incredulous gaze.

Still, a defensible choice, given that Haruki Murakami, Denis Johnson, Ursula K. LeGuin, Don DeLillo, & etc. are primarily known as novelists, not short story writers. And Faulker, Chekhov, RaymondCarver, Katherine Mansfield, O. Henry, Saki, V.S. Pritchett, and old gibbering crepulous H.P.L. are dead, hence off-limits.

Leaves changing in force now, big drifts along the sidewalks.

A few days spent obsessively typing 2003 & 2004 sales data into my new accounting program.

A surprise visit from Mr. Yuxweluptun, one of my favorite local painters. "Got any books with pictures of white Christian halos?"

Off for a day-off walk in the late fall light.

Sunday, October 10, 2004
A little experiment -- playing around with the CSS settings again. The links on this entry have been picked more or less at random for experimental purposes, and will be up and down for the next day or two.

Testing, testing.

Saturday, October 09, 2004
Those Cat & Girl links are back up (thx everyone who wrote)

Deep into Caro's Means of Ascent, v.2 of his remarkable Lyndon Johnson biography.

"As the helicopter charged across the vast plains of West Texas, in particular, anything moving on the flat, featureless brown landscape below could be seen for miles, and Lyndon Johnson sometimes seemed to be following the rule that if it was moving, he shook its hand. The pilot, asked once how often Johnson made him land for a handshake, replied: 'Whenever we saw more than two people and a big dog.'

Nothing in his path could escape. Was there an isolated farmhouse ahead? Into the midst of a peaceful farm setting -- wife in her kitchen, baking, perhaps; farmer milking under a tree -- the S-51 would suddenly swoop with the Pratt & Whitney roaring. 'The chickens thought it was a bird coming down to get them,' Busby recalls. 'They would go berserk, flying up and hitting the fences.' Cows would gallop awkwardly away in panic to the farthest end of the pasture, the milk bucket having been kicked over. Horses would squeal and rear in their stalls. And there in the front yard, broad smile on his face, campaign brochures in hand, would be a man saying: 'Howdy, Ahm Lyndon Johnson, your candidate for United States Senator. Just droppin' in to say good mornin'.'"

Philipsburg, Montana -- apparently not that terrible after all

Friday, October 08, 2004
Richard Hugo -- his unimitatable statement-lines in my head all day in Bellingham, still knocking around in there today.

Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg

You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn't last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he's done.

The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can't wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs--
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won't fall finally down.

Isn't this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn't this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don't empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I'll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You're talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it's mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

Thursday, October 07, 2004
Blogshares -- insanely complex mash-up of fantasy sports stat-keeping, Internet traffic tracking, and fundamental security analysis. Note the home team's attractive P/E and healthy prospects.

Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam

"Q: Is the camera broken?

A: Mount St. Helens is located in the Pacific Northwest where is has either just stopped raining, is currently raining, or is getting ready to rain. The elevation of the camera site is approximately 4,500 feet, is located approximately 5 miles from the volcano, and looks across the North Fork Toutle River Valley. This is an area which gets over 100 inches of rain a year. Most likely, you are looking at rain, clouds, fog, and/or a combination of the three."


Lateef, Gift of Gab and DJ Shadow the highlights of this terrific 22-track 2-CD compilation which I found totally by accident waiting to secure the rental car.

Surrey backroads to the US border, through sun showers and rain. Orange pumpkins left to rot in trampled fields. The leaves changing along the Chuckanut Drive.

Downtown Bellingham deserted on a weekday.

Sour Mr. Henderson scowling as usual as he inspected my purchases, making sure an autograph or a $100 bill wasn't hidden in the hardcover first of Caro's Means of Ascent that I found in his stacks.

show, of all things, at the Whatcom County Museum, about sixty photographs in all, including many "experimental" collages and images made with distorted plastic and/or kallidoscopic lenses, which I had never previously seen or heard of, Rocket Ship Hitting Empire State Building my favorite of these.

Larrabee State Park empty in the late afternoon. I scrambled the scooped-out sandstone cliffs down by the shore, ID'ed mushrooms (16 varieties, in a 40- or 50- square foot radius under the salal bushes along the clifftops!) with one of my new guidebooks.

Grey sheets of rain moving across from Orcas Island.Posted by Hello
Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Downtown Bellingham, WA -- home of strong coffee, cheap used & remainder books, and miles of walking trails. See y'all Thursday. Posted by Hello

Monday, October 04, 2004
Another box of annual reports arrived from the Globe and Mail's free service. Half a dozen went to dinner with me at the terrible bargain sushi place on the corner. There's something appealing about investigating businesses more or less at random, trying to quickly grasp the economic characteristics and core competencies of each new business and group of managers. In this, I think I was far better served by my English lit and art history classes than my contemporaries were by UBC's commerce department. Annual reports are, after all, popular narratives, and can be evaluated, often usefully, on rhetorical or stylistic grounds. (This isn't to say that I don't pay close attention to financials, but it does mean that if I judge a company suspect based on how its managers represent their performance in the MD&A, 9 times out of 10, I won't bother with the financials. There are too many alternatives out there. To paraphrase Warren Buffett, a basketball coach doesn't waste time with five foot prospects; he looks for seven footers).

Ladies and gentlemen, Royal Host Hotels and Resorts!

(note to MD&A): "Royal Host's financial statements for the years ended December 31, 1998 through 2002 overstated other hospitality revenue and net earnings, resulting from the misinterpretation of documentation pertaining to the complex calculation of a priority return Royal Host receives in relation to its 50% interest in a co-tenancy hotel operation. The miscalculation has been corrected by recording a prior period adjustment with retroactive restatement."

Subtitle #1: We lost money, and vaporized owners' equity

Subtitle #2: Strangely, the adjustment and restatement did not include management salaries or bonuses

Your Sky -- brilliant constellations above the fog

No Love Lost

• The heavily medicated man who, unblinking, started counting out the 423 pennies he needed for his Richard North Patterson pocketbook, excavating lint-covered handfuls from the torn inner lining of his coat. Then the phone rang somewhere in the low 100s, breaking his concentration, and he started all over again.

• Gladhanding sharpie book scout with endless trunks of marginal material (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Detective magazine, & etc.) and Rolls-Royce taste. Actually asked how many paperbacks he'd need for the hardcover Kerouac 1st in the showcase. Variation: your mom, with stacks of Anita Shreve, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, & etc. That is, until the trade slip is written, at which point, instant morph into SBS. "That Kerouac in the showcase..."

• "What I really like about this place is that I never have to buy anything, I can just come in and read whenever I want." (verbatum; ejected)

• Foreign exchange student who stood for an hour opposite the desk, going through the wall of Taschen erotica page by page, his tongue making slow orbits of his lips.

• The new parents with the $400 stroller and the Jack Russell terrier, whose baby shrieked for 45 minutes while mom and dad built a little tower of kids' books on the floor, and the high-strung dog nipped a customer.

• "I'm looking for this book. There's this guy who's mining on the asteroids, only he's a robot, and, uh, I think it has a blue cover. I read it years ago. Man, what a great book!"

Variation 1:

"So, where's your books with robots?"

"The science fiction section's down there."

"I know that. I mean, where's the books with robots?"

Variation 2:

" he goes to the asteroids, see, in a little red spaceship. And what's realistic is that there's no oxygen on the spaceship, because, being a robot, he doesn't need oxygen, which humans need to breathe, but he doesn't know he's a robot, so of course he wonders, hey, where's all the oxygen..."

(Much-needed) day off tomorrow, far from people!

Moon Cornering

Theodore Enslin

How the corners of the moon
replace themselves.
It is difficult to see
or if I see to say
that this is what I have
seen. Many chances in the lattice
of the winter branches.
Well I've said it and
perhaps there were no corners
after all.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Sunday afternoon live: Mr. John Tweed on the deck, and the Rheostatics' Whale Music Soundtrack's harmonies percolating up and down the aisles. Posted by Hello

The Poem That Took The Place of a Mountain
Wallace Stevens

There it was, word for word,

The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactness
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

(photo by dru, as usual. Anderson River Group, B.C.) Posted by Hello

Fall leaf-litter, orange and yellow scraps at the feet of the sharks smoking out in front of the pool hall.

Pale white three-quarter moon.

Blue October sky.

The Lions, Coliseum Mountain, and Mount Bishop all visible from Main and Broadway, their bare grey summits free of snow.

Once or twice a year the wind will rise, bringing the utterly clear scent of the alpine -- sun-baked heather; glacial melt -- down into the city.

Memories rise, unbidden, behind.

(Opening the swinging garage door, the big metal bolts cold on my hands. The cidery smell of Saltspring Island apples laid in boxes by the car. Outside, cold stars, dark trees, and that same sharp smell. It's October -- 1979? 1980? -- 4am, and I'm about to leave our house in West Vancouver to climb the Black Tusk with my dad)

Writing this down so I remember.

Friday, October 01, 2004

ART (Aesthetically Rejected Thing): the new Canadian $20 bill

Two problems:

• The portrait of the Queen really does resemble a shapeshifting alien lizard. Stare long enough at those heavily lidded eyes and you half-expect a forked tongue to flicker out from between her lips

• "Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?" Not quite the worst sentence in Canadian literature, but pretty close. Courtesy perennial New Canadian Library remainder table favorite Gabrielle RoyPosted by Hello
Announcement on BC Ferries' 7pm Nanaimo to Vancouver sailing, 26 Sep 04:

"Would the people smoking pot on the upper deck please step away from the air intake. Thank you."

(thx Republic of East Vancouver!)

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