Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Manning Park Marmot. Left to right: simonc, Q, cjb, dblair. Larger version available by clicking the image. Rose T. Cat does not appear in this picture, perhaps intimidated by our big friend. Photo courtesy simonc and Q's camera.Posted by Picasa
RIP William Hoffer, the most professional antiquarian bookseller Vancouver has ever known. Found this quote today in one of his catalogs, kindly provided gratis by our regular customer Wes Hartley:

"This morning a bookscout called the shop to ask whether I had read the Globe and Mail. I don't read the Globe and Mail, I told him, it reminds me of Toronto. On page nine there is a story about the cutting of Oberon's block grant, in which the usual greased pigs of CanLit/CanCult are quoted in the usual ways. I don't collect this stuff, I told him, I'm not interested in what happens to them blow by blow. I just want them to fuck off and die. It is a simple enough desire, however hard to explain it sometimes is."

I'm frequently accused by unhappy pseudo-customers of "having a bad attitude." Anyone is welcome to compare the late Mr. Hoffer's legendary crankiness and bad attitude to my own and draw their own conclusions.
100K Club -- cjb & Team Cat -- Mount Outram
(lightly reformatted and annotated trip report originally posted to

I posted this trip [solicited participants online] for "either Tuesday or Wednesday," based on the smiling cartoon sun on the Weather Channel's Vancouver webpage. Signed up [ members] Q & DBlair, and received lots of email from curious folks asking what was up with this "weekday hiking" thing, any chance of rescheduling to, say, Saturday morning at 6am...

Wednesday at 6am the sun was nowhere in sight, hidden behind a layer of thick grey cloud. Q collected me from the bookstore and we booted out to Surrey to collect DBlair. The trip organizer then provided Q with bad directions to the Park 'n Ride where Dennis was waiting (foreshadowing!). At one point it looked like we were stuck heading back into Vancouver on the Port Mann bridge, but we managed to hold it together and finally picked up Dennis.

Out Highway 1 to the Manning Marmot [see below]. The lurking highway cops didn't see Q's little Honda, just a lot of anime-style speed lines.

Lifting clouds. Higher grey above. Light drizzle. We suited up and started up the washroom loop under dripping trees. Up to the Engineer's Road, ten minutes along to where the Outram trail forks off, then up, up, up. The trail is billed as super-steep but is actually pretty reasonable, cut at a Parks grade, with generous switchbacks. It climbs steeply to avoid bluffs, then cuts back into the Seventeen Mile Creek valley. Across Seventeen Mile Creek, and then steeply up back east, into meadows full of purple lupins, pinkish-purple thistles, lots of plants I couldn't identify, and lots of mushrooms I could. Q indulged in macro botanical photography. The clouds slowly lifted, revealing occasional glimpses of the Silvertip Group to the southwest.

Up to Seventeen Mile Creek's headwaters. Rolling meadows, Outram looming above, coming in and out of the clouds. A pretty little tarn, a BC Parks sign requesting campstoves only, and a fire ring right beside the sign.

"These guys weren't hardcore. If they really were, they would have used the sign as kindling."

Up the scree. Mr. Marmot let us get close enough to take some good shots before wandering away over the rocks.

Higher and higher. At some point the convenient red paint and flagging disappears. We fumble up endless scree through the clouds, cross a snowfield, veer back and forth, and finally pop up on the summit ridge. Approximately 5 hours up.

Just as we are congratulating ourselves, [ resident speed demon] SimonC pops out of the clouds with the peak relay can [ game involving moving a plastic container containing a camera, chocolate bars, and a written log from obscure peak to obscure peak] and a stopwatch that says he's just climbed the same trail as us in two hours and twenty-some minutes.

We pop up onto the south summit, then work our way across the exposed gap to the slightly higher north summit for foggy hero shots with Rose the lucky stuffed cat. Visibility = < 10m.

As we re-descend the gap between summits, a hummingbird zips up out of Ghost Passenger (the east couloir, first ascent [brother] dru), hovers above us, and then disappears down the west face.

Down the scree in the fog.

"Do you guys know where we're going?" asks Q.

"Search me," says the trip organizer.

"Nope," says DBlair.

"No," says SimonC.

The scree steepens. A massive gully looms beside us, one we certainly didn't run into on the way up. Maybe we are not where we think we are.

Down again. The clouds lift, revealing a slope that steepens into green cliffs. No sign of Mr. Marmot, nor the tarns.

We've descended too far to the west. We sidehill across the slope and up onto a forested rib, on the other side of which are the tarns, the trail, and red-ribboned trees.

Down to the meadows, where we make short work of Q's Dare Fruit Gums and practice peak identification. The sun comes out. The trip leader falls asleep. Isolillock Mountain's double-headed summit pops out of the clouds to the west.

Down through the meadows, the clouds still rising, the flowers open now in the full sun. Down and down and down to Seventeen Mile Creek.

A little grey frog bounds across the trail as we stop to adjust ourselves on the other side of the creek.

Down again. A BC Parks sign appears on a tree. "4.5 km." What the hell? How can we still be this far from the cars?

Down and down and down. Toenails protest. Knees protest. Poisonous mushrooms are ID'ed during enforced recovery breaks.

Down once more. The Engineer's Road pops into view. Another twenty minutes and we are laughing in the parking lot, changing in the parking lot, kissing the Manning Marmot [huge, 6' carved and painted wooden marmot marking the entrance to Manning Park, once pilfered by the UBC Engineers].

A stranded hitchhiker is rescued near Herrling Island. [Car out of gas]

SimonC: "Can we go to dinner now, or is there anyone else you'd like to save?"

To dinner at Rosedale's Wildcat Grill with dru. Dinner is slightly complicated by the trip leader's placing the restaurant on the wrong side of the river.

Despite these tribulations, Team Wednesday plans a second trip for next week.

Thanks everyone; a great day out in the mountains.

...and to everyone reading this far...

While napping in the meadow just below Mr. Marmot's den, I accidentally left a men's XL North Face shirt with orange and black checks behind [see photograph below]. It was only $4 at Value Village, but I'd grown attached to it. I will happily pay a booty bounty to anyone who can reunite me with it. 12-pack of tasty microbrew sound about right?


Mount Outram summit (8100') in a sea of clouds. Left to right: members simonc, Q, Rose T. Cat, cjb, and dblair. Larger version available by clicking the image, which appears courtesy Q and her digital camera.Posted by Picasa
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
One last piece of multimedia for tonight: the collage video for Rappcats Pt. 3.

Gone climbing. Back Thursday!
Speaking of Otis Jackson Jr., here's another free hour from his apparently endless catalog of pseudonymous side projects, remix and translation courtesy of DJ Troubl. Give it up for Lord Quas...

(Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, and others will be playing Vancouver's Richards on Richards on July 7th)
The New Yorker's excellent S F-J ponders the enigma called Madvillain:

"Most of Madlib’s beats are made from samples of records, though it is hard to say which ones, even in a general way. Is the lovely, decaying piano figure in 'All Caps' from a jazz record? An English skiffle record? A documentary about whales? 'America’s Most Blunted' begins with a sample of Steve Reich’s 'Come Out,' and then stumbles into a swaggering funk pattern. The three instrumental tracks are some of the album’s best moments, brief as they are: 'Do Not Fire!' could be the theme of a Cuban kung-fu movie, and 'Supervillain Theme' sounds like the work of an accomplished rock band from a country that the United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with.

After a few repetitions, a sample becomes known but doesn’t necessarily stop being strange. The imperfections in whatever is being sampled are retained, the stresses and flaws and cracks. There is a tactile quality to 'Madvillainy,' which leads us to the smoking gun of the record, if there is one: marijuana. There are repeated allusions to weed and several samples of a 1971 record called 'A Child’s Garden of Grass: A Pre-Legalization Comedy.' The key sample: 'In fact, everyone finds that they’re more creative stoned than straight.'

For most of us, this is poppycock, but Doom and Madlib succeed in translating the heightened physical sensitivity and associative facility of the stoned mind into concrete sound. Madlib, especially, seems able to hide music inside other music. His samples lie on each other like double exposures, or like a cassette tape that allows the previous recording to bleed through the new one."
Light rain last night from flat grey sky.

Cool air through the crack in the balcony door.

Birds talking at 5am, a six-month Vancouver Jazz Fest improv residency in the tree outside my window.

BTK confession in the New York Times:

"Jeff Davis, whose mother, Dolores, was Mr. Rader's final victim, likened the killer's emotionless display on Monday to someone 'reading out of a phonebook,' and denounced him as 'a rotting corpse of a wretch of a human hiding under a human veneer.'

'He was putting on Serial Murderer 101 for us,' Mr. Davis said."

Exactly. Thomas Harris' excellent Red Dragon punched Mr. Rader's ticket way back in the 80s.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Katie Has A Blog -- big shout out to neighborhood regulars Katie & Alex's collaborative experiment. These kids make me feel old!
Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

In your mind you have capacities you know
To telepath messages through the vast unknown
Please close your eyes and concentrate
With every thought you think
Upon the recitation we're about to sing

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft

You've been observing our earth
And we'd like to make a contact with you
We are your friends. . . .

Klaatu, memorably covered by the Carpenters (& the Langley Schools Music Project!), in honor of Gwynedd Elaine, who I haven't heard from in approximately fifteen years, emerging today from the woodwork thus:

"Been reading Anodyne for a couple of months. It felt slightly voyeuristic, not letting you know I was around - but then, blogging is public, kinda the point. And I wasn't entirely sure what to say or how to say it - my writing these days is almost entirely along the lines of 'Stereotactic brain biopsy as an outpatient procedure' or 'Long-term radiographic results following cervical laminectomy and screw-rod lateral mass fixation in the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy,' although I did just get a poem published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal - but finally decided to come out of the shadows. I'm surprised that I wasn't driven out earlier by everything I wanted to say about Michelina (like, oh *yah* Tove Jansson was one of the best when it came to odd, ethereal, spookiness that I knew at age 9 was slightly beyond my comprehension, but made my mind, my whole inside space, feel stretched. . . ."
Sunday, June 26, 2005
ART (Aesthetically Rejected Thing):
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Mount Fromme, Lynn Peaks, and Dog Mountain from Burnaby, B.C.

The image should be complex (its pieces should form a complicated relationship; it shouldn't be 'schematic' nor 'topographical,' nor neccessarily deadpan, like a real estate ad).

The image should invite explicit comparison with another (the 'quoted' or 'bitten' work) but should stress qualities which were 'defects' or 'throwaways' in the original. Mistranslation or dub remix, not literal recreation.

A photographic sequence structured like a musical score or comic strip composition, to provide moments of alternate tension and release (comparison with Chopin or Bach?) Ebb and flow. Organic metaphor: Active Pass tides. Easy rhythm -- the eye drifting in and out, first expansive, then micro-detail. Cumulatively undermining single point perspective, its implication of a static or fixed point of view.
Madlib Live @ Chocolate City -- free 65-minute live set. Bumpin' my speakers!
Friday, June 24, 2005
Phone call:

"Which Chris is this? Ferlinghetti Chris or modern art Chris?"
Gilles Deleuze, from Difference & Repetition:

"Repetition appears as the logos of the solitary and the singular, the logos of the 'private thinker.' Both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche develop the opposition between the private thinker, the thinker-comet and bearer of repetition, and the public professor and doctor of law, whose second-hand discourse proceeds by mediation and finds its moralising source in the generality of concepts (cf. Kierkegaard against Hegel; Nietzsche against Kant and Hegel; and from this point of view, Peguy against the Sorbonne)."
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Alison Yip @ Blanket -- review from this week's Straight. If you're in town and have the chance, go see this show. (Blanket is my new upstairs neighbor).
Grouse Mountain Resorts, Inc. -- trail maps (PDFs) and assorted publicity bumpf, so that non-Vancouverites can follow along with Team Cat's adventures.

As I came out of the chalet last night, heading for the tram with my coffee, a woman was climbing into the back of a pickup with something large on her (gloved) hand. This something turned its head as I walked by, and I stopped to pay closer attention. A falcon. A foot and a half high, off-brown and white feathers, long hooked beak, two incredibly bright black eyes. Its friend or mate sat, hooded, in the bed of the pickup beside it.

A strange feeling to see such intelligent and precision-built animals up close. I was perhaps fifteen feet away, but felt myself registered and tracked even at that distance.
100K Club -- cjb & Team Cat

Up Grouse late yesterday afternoon (5pm start from Seabus!) via the by-now well-known combination of Lonsdale Avenue, Prospect Road, Baden-Powell Trail, the Cut, Simic's Trail, BCMC Trail. My painter/printmaker friend Arnold Shives was a little surprised to see me slogging past his front door at 6pm, so a little bit of art criticism was worked into the day, too. 1128m of elevation gain, the last few hundred meters in the clouds. Descending on the Skyride we dropped back out of the clouds above Capilano Lake, half the lake smooth as a mirror, full of inverted clouds and the green gullied side-slopes of Hollyburn Mountain, the other half spontaneously generating clouds, which would rise up off the water and drift up-valley, so that by the time we docked the entire lake was covered in a thin layer of white cloud.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
The Buffett Partnership Letters

A few outstanding requests for these, complicated by last week's hard drive failure. Everyone who is in the queue, please be patient for another day or two until I can forward the documents on to you.

More response to this than any other post, ever. The files have gone to Spain, Switzerland, both coasts of the USA, and Hong Kong. But not yet to Nebraska.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
100K Club -- cjb & Team Cat

Not really a Team Cat outing; I only decided to go walking at the last minute, having spent the morning at work fighting with my newly-reinstalled accounting program. So Rose spent the afternoon at home, on guard against the mailman and any supernatural intruders.

Up Lonsdale Avenue in 90% humidity and steadily darkening sky. Over the Powerline Trail to the Skyride parking lot, and bus home, just as the first drops began to fall.

A nice high-level route just above the highest subdivisions, salmonberries, blackberries, and other assorted "greenbelt" shielding you from backyards and pools. A little black bear futzing around in the foliage just off the trail, and a big snake and a little alligator lizard soaking up warmth side-by-side on somebody's stone driveway marker, lazy in the heat and politely oblivious to curious me.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Hanne Darboven -- another favorite of mine, and the highlight of a 2003 visit to Beacon, NY.
Please Pay Attention Please

Conceptual Art: a historically delimited period style (Following Lucy Lippard and LAMOCA's Reconsidering the Object of Art I'd go with 1967-1973, as opposed to Wikipedia's 1967-1978, but internal disagreements exist).

Conceptualist: a creator of conceptual art. In wide use, and practically interchangable with the more awkward "conceptual artist." Equally employed by artists (qv. Mel Bochner's June 2005 Artforum review of Donald Judd's collected criticism), critics and art historians.

Neoconceptual: "Works which include the concept (idea) as an element in the realization of the work, and work with existing forms of behavior, pictorial presentation or culturally coded signpictures. Three approaches characterize the neoconceptual procedure: (1) the readymade strategy of taking over existing (finished) 'representations of a culture' as the signifier of art, (2) the use of presentation media as a 'generator' of meaning, and (3) a parallel presentation of different forms of representation, which means that the work is not being shown in order to tell a story, but in order to denote representative synchronized media differences, schisms and break-ups in presentation." (My slight abridgement of a definition originally proposed by Misko Suvakovic)

Neoconceptualist: a creator of neoconceptual art.

Sunday, June 19, 2005
Still pouring over Tate magazine. Specifically, a competently written but poorly argued article by Christy Lange called "Bound to Fail," which makes extravagant and goofy claims for the work of neoconceptual artists like Annika Strom, Jonathan Monk and Sean Landers. Lange begins with close readings of works by Walter De Maria, Bruce Nauman, and Bas Jan Ader, then concludes her historical exegesis as follows:

"Taken in earnest, Ader's and Nauman's insistence on trying to perform physical impossibilities and then document [sic] their shortcomings, seems to have been a test of the impact of their own human and artistic failings on the world. But they attempted their feats knowing that these minor failures bore only minor consequences on the world itself. Why not set themselves a task they could deftly and triumphantly complete? Perhaps they sensed that if their systems functioned efficiently or successfully, they would be indistinguishable from 'ordinary work,' and could no longer be called art."

There's a lot of rhetorical equivocation in this passage (seems to have been.../perhaps they...) and a gaping logical flaw. Lange's argument presupposes that the goofy, irrational, or self-defeating systems of Ader, Nauman, de Maria, et. al. are art precisely because they are neither efficient or successful; they invert the criteria by which useful work is judged (Thus de Maria's claim, 'Filing letters in a filing cabinet could be considered meaningless work only if one were not considered a secretary, and if one scattered the file on the floor periodically so that one didn't get any feeling of accomplishment'). Lange unquestioningly accepts that irrationality and self-defeat are essential ingredients of conceptual or neoconceptual art. "[T]he secret of meaningless work: even frustrated art making itself can be successful artwork if it acknowledges its own failings. Better still, if it acknowledges this fact, but also acknowledges the irony of it."

This is totally ass-backwards. Duchamp definitively proved that you can't object to art on morphological grounds alone; anything can, at least in theory, "come up for the count" as art. Language; a chopped-up shark in a tank; "oral communication"; inert gases; a urinal; an oil painting on canvas; sunlight; meaningless work. It doesn't matter. Lange's claim that, "even frustrated art making itself can be successful artwork" seems profound, but isn't, because it simply reiterates what anyone who's thought carefully about contemporary aesthetics already knows. And the recognition that some successful artworks have been made from "frustrated art making" doesn't extend a free pass to the category of "frustrated art making". Art's success or failure can't rest on morphology, because if it did, it would be possible to specify art's contents in advance, just like the ingredients in a readymixed cake. Which to my mind is what the work of artists like Landers and Jonathan Monk really is, the artworld equivalent of Betty Crocker.

Lange: "In Return to Sender (2004) Monk co-opts On Kawara's series I Got Up (1968-1979), in which Kawara sent postcards to friends and colleagues systematically reporting his whereabouts. Tearing the pages out of a catalogue that documented the work, Monk dutifully sent the pages back to the original addresses, hoping for responses, yet knowing Kawara had long left the location. 'That's something where the possibility of failure is there before you start,' says Monk. Using Kawara's own system as a point of departure, he created another, more illogical system, resuscitating a work from the past."

Lange gives Monk's effort a free pass by failing to ask just how this hypothetical resuscitation is performed. Kawara's work is not unknown to the contemporary artworld (Phaidon monograph, major collections, reproductions in October, etc.) so she can't mean that Monk's work resuscitates Kawara's reputation. Kawara's rigorous, elegant work needs no help from Monk nor any other young artist, and it would be a weird project indeed that based its own success upon the deliberate "resusciatation" of older artists' reputations.

Maybe Lange actually means that Monk has created a system more illogical than the one which his is based upon. Fair enough, but this doesn't tell us anything about his project's aesthetic success. How could it? It's just another description of Monk's project, disguised as a judgement and analysis of it.

Elaine Sturtevant's and Sherrie Levine's practices convince me that aesthetically successful artworks can be made from the appropriation, recycling, and re-presentation of preexisting images, styles, and aesthetic programs, but as a critic, I see lots of distance between, say, Sturtevant and Jonathan Monk. Formal or stylistic emulation doesn't constitute successful artmaking on its own, much as Monk or Lange might apparently wish otherwise.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Jeff Wall in conversation with Tate chief curator Sheena Wagstaff:

"Evaluation of quality is the core of the pleasure of the experience of art; the simultaneous pleasure of enjoying something immensely and of recognising that it is a good work. I always judge my pictures -- daily, hourly, all the time. Even though it's disappointing to have to say 'that one is not good' or 'not as good as that one,' it is still a pleasure to go through that process and experience a work afresh. Nothing has been as destructive to the condition of art as the idea that qualitative judgement is unimportant, and that art is important for cultural reasons. Art can only be important if it is good, because if it is good, it pleases us in ways we don't anticipate and don't understand, and that pleasure means something to us even if we can't specify what, exactly."
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Back from Seattle with a rental car packed with books, two inquisitive stuffed animals, and the animals' hard-working co-owner. Some highlights:

Bay View State Park, low sunlight flooding in under clouds above Padilla Bay at 8:59pm, mucky spume-capped waves lapping in along the oozy tideline.

Baby rabbits on the lawn, hip-hopping through the dusk.

Hip-hopping down I-5 the following grey morning, that overplayed Madvillain disc on frantic repeat:

"Since New York plates were ghetto yellow with broke blue writing."

A stroll around Green Lake in the sunshine.

That lovely strong face I would recognize anywhere.

An embrace at Seatac Gate Eight.

Clouds coming and going above Seattle Harbor. A parking attendant on a roof.

Test print for 100 Views of Mount Baker on Rainier Avenue, late afternoon. Trying to get the hang of the medium. Rush hour traffic and the new digital camera not cooperating.

"But that's not Baker, it's Mount Rainier."

"You can put it in parentheses later."
Monday, June 13, 2005
To the USA for a few days with the rental car, Incredible Talking Cats and a whole assortment of gas station maps shoved into the glove box. Also: Live From Planet X (MF Doom), Pop Art (Pet Shop Boys), Madvillain (MF Doom and Madlib), and the new Quasimodo.

Not quite sure of a destination yet, outside of SeaTac tomorrow evening. Corporate Thrift Store for sure, maybe even Powells if I make it that far south. Back Friday.

(Yesterday's lacuna: I turned 35, and the store turned 5. I had originally not wanted to open on my birthday, in case of early failure, in which case, I somewhat woozily reasoned, I'd be reminded of my ineptitude once a year for life. But the shelves were built and full of stock and my two weeks of free rent were coming to an end, so eventually I kicked the door open, put out the sandwich board, sold $73.55 worth of books in 6 hours, and attracted a free review from the other bookseller in the neighborhood. "You'll never last," he sniffed, snaffling up my H.P. Lovecraft pocketbooks at a 20% discount. He's still here. So am I.)
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
A Farewell to Arms

After all the unkind statements made here in the past about Mr. Hemingway, you'd think this an unlikely choice. Nonetheless, depressed and poverty-stricken, there I stood in Suburban Corporate Thrift Store last night, only to be accosted by a slightly unbalanced self-styled "book scout."

"What are you doing here?" was his opening line, followed by, "This is my turf." Followed by following me around, offering up books off the shelves:

"Do you need this one?" (Prince Charles: Portrait of a King-In-Waiting)

"No thanks."

"How about this one?" (Raise Your Puppy Right)

"Naw, that might take a while to sell."

"How about..." But I'd grabbed A Farewell to Arms and fled.

Not as manneristic as I'd imagined, with a few straight forward scenes that I want to later go back and carefully dissect (the awkward retreat from the front lines; some of the unvarnished descriptions of the mountainous Swiss landscape & etc.) and some more self-consciously "writerly" passages that quickly ripened into the "style" -- breathless purple prose -- clogging The Garden of Eden and Islands in the Stream.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Ben Folds' and William Shatner's In Love, played repeatedly on Sunday until customers and Mr. John Tweed physically repossessed the deck. No autobiographical subtext implied; if I could simply quote the drums and keyboard riff in place of the lyrics, I would.
Unreal City

New Westminster's deserted Front Street swept by grey June evening rain. Tide high in the river. Wet black driftwood bumping along toward the distant sea. A troller working downriver, a guy in a yellow rain slicker smoking on the back deck, mechanically tending his lines.

A fisherman on the public pier reeling in, then carefully wrapping his wet Thermos in a Safeway bag.

"Get off at the next stop."

"I'll get off where I want," says the rough male voice beside me. "That's why I'm standing up."
Two wasted goth-chic junkies, guiding portable IV drips on poles, cross Davie Street near the hospital in the thinly falling rain.

"Does anyone know what day it is?"

"It's Thursday."

"Did I pick my cheque up yesterday?"

"No. Yesterday was Monday."

Heroin's insidious counter-circadian rhythm.
Monday, June 06, 2005


7am's commute interrupted by Charles Manson's shambling half-brother at the corner of Broadway and Granville. This clown, regular readers will recall, is a guy who typically picks a small and defenseless person -- in my neighborhood, a Chinese or Vietnamese grandmother -- and stands right in front of them, blocking their path till they cough up enough for their release. He's also a raging racist and homophobe, "chink" and "faggot" being two expressions that regularly pass his lips when someone refuses to empty the contents of their purse/wallet into his grimy hands. There are some truly hard-luck cases on Vancouver's streets who have received coins, food, or books from me (on occasion, all three), but Manson isn't one of them.

So, accosted this morning, I respond just as I always do: "Fuck off, Manson."

Today's delightful wrinkle: a young man on a bicycle, who overhears and proceeds to curse me out as follows: "Hey asshole, poor-basher, that's not cool, dude! Betcha voted for Gordon Campbell, didn't you! Randite!"

Fortunately the express bus comes, preventing further escalation.


Books arrive at work in the middle of a The customer proceeds to take each item out of the box in turn and talk it up, as if flogging knives on late night TV.

Most of the books are either very old and battered, or remainder-table favorites. One, an art catalog, is passable. Our last copy moved at $12.95. My offer: "$5 in cash on this one and no thanks on the rest."

"Hah! Asshole! This was $85US on the Internet this morning," says the vendor, confusing, as amateurs typically do, his paperback reprint with an original. "Richard Nixon's honester [sic] than you! Fucking ripoff jerk! Fucking ASSHOLE!"


Sharpie Book Scout arrives. Bleached-out Andy Warhol hair, bleached soul patch, cloying hail-well-met-my-brother attitude covering previous ethically sketchy behavior. Showed up last week with boxes of mostly manky trade paperback bestsellers: Snow Falling on Cedars, etc. I combed through, bought about 5% of them. "Gee, should I take these to your other store?" wondered Mr. Bright-Eyed Innocent. "No need," I replied, "If we've seen 'em at one, we've bought for both the stores."

"Oh, okay," said Mr. SBS, who then proceeded to break all speed records between Main and Kits, arriving less than 15 minutes later, only to be shut down by my crack staff. Undeterred, returned 3 days later with the same manky books. So today I thought a subtle word was in order, re-iterating that there was no need to walk his boxes down the road. On any other day, things would have ended there. Not today!

"Hey, man, what's with all the passive aggression?" (Probably the first time in my life I've been accused of being "passively" aggressive) "You need to get laid, dude, you're bein' an asshole."

"You're outta here," I informed him. "Good luck selling to some other gullible sap."

"Fucking ASSHOLE!"

Rinse 'n repeat....
Saturday, June 04, 2005
"I remember seeing this in my parents' bathroom forever when I was growing up."

Bored young hipster, shown Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude (Nobel Prize! Oprah's Book Club!) by a friend this afternoon in the front room.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Windows 2000 and the "G" drive packed it in about an hour before closing. Full on blue screen of death.

Anyone needing to get in touch in a hurry should call the shop.

I will still be answering email, etc. while the machine is repaired, but not nearly as quickly as usual.

Yesterday's research on virtual land has a title, now -- Eden -- and an opening line:

"In July, Lionel and I went to Grand Island, Nebraska, to fight the Martians."

Tonight's crash obligingly took out the 1000 words of manuscript I wrote last night, which was just fine with me, as the printout I took home at midnight didn't stand up to daylight scrutiny.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Mr. John Latta in conversation, his Hotel Point up on the office monitor five days a week.

"Working in a library, I 'literally'—as Ron Silliman likes to say—'check out' a lot of poetry. Meaning either contemptuously or flirtingly ('recklessly') eyeballing it, or dragging it home to meet the dog."
Virtual Power Brokers -- from the LA Times

"In some games, such as Second Life, however, entrepreneurs are sought out by other players.

Take Ailin Graef, who supports her aging parents and sends two children to private school with the money she makes selling virtual land.

Graef leases 224 acres of virtual land in "Second Life" — enough to occupy 14 servers — at $12.19 an acre. Graef develops the land by adding terrain features, zoning restrictions and other amenities, then sublets slices of the land to others at about $25 an acre a month. Much of her property is sold out.

Graef, whose online name is Anshe Chung, gave a tour of her virtual empire. First stop was a winter wonderland of gently swaying snow-tipped pines and ski cottages. Next was a wedge of land with soothing minstrel music and dotted with 19th century English cottages. Across the pond lay a plot of land leased by a group of Quebecois who have built chateaux and speak only French within the game.

Graef, 32, has a keen grasp of what people will buy and for how much. Climate, neighborhood makeup and proximity to roads and water are some of the factors that feed into her calculation of what kind of terrain to develop and how much to charge. Parcels in tropical climates are easier to sell, even though there is no such thing as temperature online."
Good news (well, okay, partially good news) from my favorite living fantasy novelist, Mr. George R.R. Martin.

A well-written blog about Second Life's evolving social structure. -- online clearing house for virtual currencies, real estate, & etc.
Own Your Own Virtual Island!

Second Life, a privately owned virtual world you can play in for a monthly subscription fee. The Polar Express-style graphics mean I won't be signing up any time soon, but I'm captivated by the idea of buying and developing virtual real estate, as outlined in this recent NYT article about folks who've turned such speculation into a booming part- or full-time job.

From the NYT:

"Mr. Ainsworth, 36, was not a fan of online games until his 10-year-old daughter became interested in The Sims Online. He then noticed that a large number of simoleans were for sale on eBay. 'I started hearing about players leaving the game who were selling their assets,' he said, 'so I figured, buy low, sell high.'

But Mr. Ainsworth found his moneymaking options in The Sims 'very limited'; he switched to Second Life, a virtual world that is less a game than a three-dimensional environment in which players can do whatever they choose. There, he has leveraged his real-life experience - he is a developer and contractor - into an online business. In 14 locations in Second Life's virtual world, he owns enough 'land' to rent space to nearly 50 retailers, who in turn earn virtual money selling everything from jewelry to clothing to art (all nonexistent, of course). Mr. Ainsworth converts his game profits into real money on sites like eBay, Ige and gamingopenmarket, which charge a small fee, and he includes that income on his tax returns."

Grist for the science fiction novel writing mill? You bet!

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