Friday, July 29, 2005
Everyone who mourned the demise of the "independently funded nonprofit art space" this page takes its name from will be pleased to hear that I'm involved in opening a somewhat similar space in Mount Pleasant. No name yet. Shared curatorial responsibilities amongst 3 collaborators -- me, Steven Tong (Centre A, Gallery 69), and Adam Harrison. More details, including address and exhibition announcements, in due course.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Stones Throw Records DVD/CD compilation, videos and live TV appearances by MF Doom, most of the Madlib aliases, etc., plus a 74 minute, 43 track mix CD by Peanut Butter Wolf featuring all of the above and more. Recommended to me by fellow digger and Pulpfiction regular Moka Only.Posted by Picasa

Crowds of hollering drunks, sidewalk vomit, knife fights, screeching cars, clouds of acrid grey smoke....must be time for this year's Celebration of Light!

(Off momentarily to the late screening of Hustle & Flow, which will hopefully get me home about an hour after the crowds empty out of the neighborhood)Posted by Picasa
Charles Stross' Accelerando -- available free for download under a Creative Commons license, my pick (having already read about 3/4 of the text) for best science fiction novel of the year.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Madlib is Not Himself Today -- LA Weekly profile

"He’s not even someone else, but five different people: vibraphonist/psychiatrist Amhad Miller, guitarist Malik Flavors, bassist/physicist Monk Hughes, pianist Joe McDuffrey [sic] and drummer Otis Jackson Jr., together known as Yesterdays New Quintet (YNQ).

This latest bizarre brainchild was inspired by one of Madlib’s great loves, jazz, as the Quintet updates the funky fusion sound of the 1970s with a touch of hip-hop aesthetics. Unlike rap artists who merely sample jazz songs, the YNQ project has pushed Madlib to become a musician himself by learning how to play keyboards such as his original Rhodes electric piano and then using synths to add instrumentation as varied as kalimba (thumb piano), electric bass and guitar. Adding to the challenge was the fact that Madlib had to compose each track one element at a time. 'Sometimes I’d start with the drums, sometimes the bass lines, and just try to improvise,' he says, and then he’d return to the beginning and layer the next instrument, rewind and repeat until 'it sounded complete to me, and I was satisfied with it.'"

The Sounds of Saturn

NASA records gas giant busily channelling Sun Ra (amazing 1 min. sound file)

"Saturn is a source of intense radio emissions, which have been monitored by the Cassini spacecraft. The radio waves are closely related to the auroras near the poles of the planet. These auroras are similar to Earth's northern and southern lights. This is an audio file of radio emissions from Saturn.

The Cassini spacecraft began detecting these radio emissions in April 2002, when Cassini was 374 million kilometers (234 million miles) from the planet, using the Cassini radio and plasma wave science instrument. The radio and plasma wave instrument has now provided the first high resolution observations of these emissions, showing an amazing array of variations in frequency and time. The complex radio spectrum with rising and falling tones, is very similar to Earth's auroral radio emissions. These structures indicate that there are numerous small radio sources moving along magnetic field lines threading the auroral region.

Time on this recording has been compressed, so that 73 seconds corresponds to 27 minutes. Since the frequencies of these emissions are well above the audio frequency range, we have shifted them downward by a factor of 44." (thx dru)
Monday, July 25, 2005

Stevie, by Yesterdays New Quintet. "Malik Flavors -- percussion. Monk Hughes -- bass. Otis Jackson Jr. -- drums. Joe McDuphrey -- keys. Ahmad Miller -- vibes. All songs written by Stevie Wonder." Googling each "individual musician" yields surprising (but not entirely unexpected) results. Posted by Picasa
ART (Aesthetically Rejected Thing): Truck Nuts. America is not the world? Thankfully.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
"Can I turn my trade slip into cash? I keep coming in here, but you never have any new books."

Reality check: 6000 new books in since last weekend (count 'em!). Complaint delivered to a clerk whose neck and upper torso was completely obscured behind new paperbacks stacked twenty high on the counter.

Other delightful requests:

National Geographic magazines

Babysitters' Club and Goosebumps (wretched kids' series)

• "Where's your 8-track section?"

• Irving Stone (early 60s potboiling bestseller, a staple of every thrift store in North America)

Full moon city in here this afternoon!

EK Modernism: SGB checks in from Scotland with a new portfolio of pictures. Posted by Picasa
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Morrissey's America Is Not The World

Steely blue eyes with no love in them scan the world, and a humourless smile with no warmth within greets the world, and I, I have got nothing to offer you. No-no-no-no-no, just this heart deep and true, which you say you don't need..."
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Stinky Rodent

Whiffs of some putrifying substance in the office these last few hot days. Equal parts dog urine and maggoty restaurant debris.

Culprit #1: the office fridge.

Exhumed: orange juice tetrabrick (1 April 2005 expiry; solid jello-textured block of mold, clear liquid above); plastic tub of the substance-formerly-known-as hummus (coal-black; sparse green beard).

The odor persists.

Culprit #2: boxes of unsorted and forgotten junk.

Exhumed: stinky old sneakers (x2 pair), stinky socks, stinky climbing gear, stinky bag of rancid trail mix, newspapers, Kleenex, men's stick deodorant.

Waves of corpse-smell persist on into mid-afternoon.

Arm & Hammer Pet Deodorizer is sprinkled into the carpet, left to sit for twenty minutes, vaccuumed up.

The vaccuum bag splits up the side and sprays Pet Deodorizer, dust, human hair, & etc. all over the carpet.

"What the heck are you doing in there, anyway?"

Multiple phone calls.

Books arriving like planes out at YVR.

Off to Hellsgate (Kingsgate Mall).

Spray Lysol, "A" size vaccuum bags.

Re-sprinkle the carpet. New vaccuum bag. Suction like the vaccuum hasn't sucked in months.

Lovely clean carpet, nap visible once again.

Stinky computer chair Lysoled into submission.

Stack of books ready to be added to the online listings.

Two ISBNs in, and...

...wave after unrelenting wave of putrification and rot!

Up the ladder to investigate the ceiling.

"Keith called," says Chris Clarke, poking his head in the door. "He and I think this smell of yours is psychosomatic."

Down to floor level, sniffing like a bloodhound.

Nickels and dimes. Several loonies. Pens and pencils. A wrapped peppermint candy. Electrical cords.

Over to the fridge. Smell stronger now.

Wrestling the fridge out of the way.

Grey fur.

Someone's lunchbox fruit from January?

No, this furry object has a tail.

A very dead, decomposing, and ripe little mouse.

Mr. Mouse is carefully interred in a transparent Slurpee cup and transported to the garbage can up the block by the bus stop. Of course the transparent coffin and its resident arouses the interest of everyone waiting for the bus.

"You're going to throw him out? Just like that? You're not even going to bury him?" (Little kid at the bus stop)

" bet I am."
Thursday, July 21, 2005
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): organ break, 16 sec./1m 30 sec. marks, Yo La Tengo, Let's Save Tony Orlando's House

"Watch him burn
He's dropping to his knees
Watch him burn
A medley: hits from Grease
Watch him burn
He never fails to please

Meanwhile in Tahoe outside Casa Tony
Wetting rags in gasoline
A jealous Frankie Valli says
'Dawn, I want you back'
Lights a match and counts to 3"
Sun hanging hot in the sky all day, beating relentlessly through my front room windows from 3pm to 5pm. Try pricing books with sweat rolling down your forehead and into your eyes! Blinking away salt, wiping sweat-splashes off the covers of mass market paperbacks by first time authors I've never heard of, the cool-looking surplus 50s-style wire cage fan Dadabase sold us last year whirling on the far side of the room, not so much cooling the store as moving superheated air around, and even that ghost of a breeze blocked by customers who invariably move the wooden stools dotting the shop directly in line of the fan, cooling their backs nicely and the baking, sweating clerk behind the desk not at all.

Many staff out on vacation; my next day off is August 8th, for which I predict torrential rain, hail, or freak flurries.

Off down the hill momentarily with Mr. McCarthy and my backpack. Secret destination in mind, located in the warehouse district just south of Skytrain, open until 11pm. 60+ flavors, the Cola Float and the bitter orange my favorites.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Happy birthday, Cormac McCarthy!

Anyone seeking my whereabouts is directed to the above, Mr. McCarthy's first new novel in seven years. Posted by Picasa
Monday, July 18, 2005

ACTs (Aesthetically Claimed Things): Brillo Boxes, by Andy Warhol Posted by Picasa

Ben Folds' first solo album, home of In Love, the sublime duet with William Shatner. This thing hasn't budged off the desktop since I first downloaded it six weeks ago; its pulsing strings strike a deep chord somewhere in the back of my reptilian hindbrain. Some of the lyrics are reproduced below, and bear no resemblance to any persons living or dead, & etc.

"So now you have me
completely figured out!
You feel sorry for me!
I can't 'express my feelings';
I can't tell the truth:

We are all alike

At puberty I was sworn to secrecy
by the international brotherhood
of lying fickle males.
I can't tell you anything
and I can't commit!

You're right!

I can't you!

I will always treasure
our time together.
I don't feel enough of anything
to harbor the kind of disdain
That you maintain..."Posted by Picasa
Buying Votes in Iraq -- the New Yorker's Sy Hersh gets the goods:

"Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State under Colin Powell, put an end to Warrick’s efforts in the early fall. Armitage confirmed this, and told me that he believed that he was carrying out the President’s wishes. 'There was a question at a principals’ meeting about whether we should try and change the vote,' Armitage recalled, and the President said several times, 'We will not put our thumb on the scale.'

Nonetheless, in the same time period, former military and intelligence officials told me, the White House promulgated a highly classified Presidential 'finding' authorizing the C.I.A. to provide money and other support covertly to political candidates in certain countries who, in the Administration’s view, were seeking to spread democracy. 'The finding was general,' a recently retired high-level C.I.A. official told me. 'But there’s no doubt that Baghdad was a stop on the way.'"
Sunday, July 17, 2005

Installation view, Richard Pettibone retrospective, ICA, University of Pennsylvania. Pettibone makes miniatures and mash-ups of works he admires; thus the tiny Warhol Brillo Boxes (foreground), which I saw several years ago in an expensive (hence unpurchased) Pop catalog at the Whitney. I apparently absorbed more from this terrific little painted sculpture than I thought I did at the time. Roberta Smith, writing in the NYT, correctly nails Pettibone as an exemplary minor artist, invoking almost the exact same criteria Greenberg used years ago to describe the significance of Paul Klee's practice. I don't think this judgement is as harsh as it first sounds; it indicates technical skill, perserverence, and conceptual originality, if not "reach." And Warhol Brillo Boxes is an excellent work, playful and modest in turn. In the imaginary collection I carry around in my head, it sits in the same room as Johns' Painted Bronze and Nauman's Pay Attention -- pretty good company for a "minor artist"!

Roberta Smith:

"Mr. Pettibone's work has always been vulnerable to some of contemporary art's most popular pejoratives: cute, twee, teensy and craftsy; minor; unoriginal. It is also called 'art about art,' which probably hasn't helped. It can't be said that these adjectives don't sometimes apply. But with large quantities of his work, something else prevails: formal rigor, the personalizing effects of scale and touch, faith in materials as carriers of artistic meaning and, above all, hard-nosed, even hypercritical reverence.

In addition, under cover of cuteness and pitch-perfect downsizing (note the infinitesimal nails on the plain wood strip frames), Mr. Pettibone has persistently asked some nagging questions. Who owns artistic ideas? And what have materials and craft got to do with them? What, really, is originality? Why does so much art have to be so big? And tangential to this: What is the essence of miniaturization? What happens to visual experience when previously large, famous paintings are reduced to the size of the viewer's face, while, at their best, looking mind-bogglingly like the real thing? An answer that touches on several of these questions is: A new, transformative, maybe original sense of intimacy and ownership that is unusually empowering. It is rather amazing to see art cut down to size with its integrity intact. In most cases cuteness gives way to an unsparing yet radiant sense of craft."Posted by Picasa
Thursday, July 14, 2005
We just purchased the inventory of my defunct former employer, the Granville Book Company, in partnership with another old employer, Book & Comic Emporium.

Presently moving 7500-odd new books from downtown to Main Street. I will probably be scarce here for a day or two; yesterday was the 8am-midnight shift, and both today and tomorrow look like more of the same.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005

$125USD. Or as Mad magazine used to say, "$" Posted by Picasa
Juan Cole neatly encapsulates my thoughts on Bush apparatchik Karl Rove:

"Ambassador Joe Wilson, who once dared Saddam to hang him while wearing a rope around his neck while acting ambassador in Baghdad in fall of 1990, was the first to let the American people know that the Bush administration lied about Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger. Wilson went to that country, investigated the structure of the uranium industry (which is mainly in French hands anyway), and concluded it was impossible. Bush and Cheney had believed a set of forged documents manufactured by a former employee of Italian military intelligence. (In the US, the only major public intellectual with close ties to Italian military intelligence is pro-war gadfly Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute).

In revenge, Rove tried to discredit Wilson and perhaps also punish him and his family. The purpose of such punishment is always to bully and terrorize other employees, as well as to shut up the whistleblower. Since the Bush administration has done so many illegal things, if Washington insiders started blowing the whistle, there could be a hundred Watergates. Rove let everyone in Washington know that he would destroy anyone who dared step forward. The White House also dealt with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill when he blew the whistle on the Bush planning for and Iraq War in January of 2001 (look at the date). They threatened O'Neill with jail time for revealing classified information, even though O'Neill had never been given any. He subsequently fell quiet. It is also said that the Bushies tried to prevent Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine Corps general, from getting any consulting gigs in Washington because he opposed the Iraq war.

But Rove's revenge on Wilson was the ultimate. Plame was undercover as an employee of a phony energy company. She was actually investigating illegal proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. When Rove blew her cover to the US press, everyone who had ever been seen with her in Africa or Asia was put in extreme danger. It is said that some of her contacts may have been killed. Imagine the setback to the US struggle against weapons of mass destruction proliferation that this represents. Rove marched us off to Iraq, where there weren't any. But he disrupted a major effort by the CIA to fight WMD that really did exist.

Moreover, the whole thing only makes sense if Rove is a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist to begin with. Why would it matter that Valerie Plame suggested to the CIA that they send her husband Joe Wilson to Niger? Wilson had excellent credentials for the mission, which the CIA immediately recognized.

Rove can only have thought it would discredit Wilson to associate his mission with the CIA if he viewed the CIA as the enemy. This is the Richard Perle line. If Wilson was sent to Niger on the recommendation of a CIA operative, then he was not an objective ex-ambassador but a CIA plant of some sort, attempting to undermine the Bush administration and the military occupation of Iraq.

This theory is that of a crackpot. The actions are those of a traitor. What is the difference between Robert Hanssen revealing key secret information for money to the Soviets and Karl Rove revealing it to the proliferators for political gain for the Republican Party and the Bush White House? Both are traitors who traded secrets for gain.

A man who would do what Rove did should not be in the White House in any capacity. And no person who tolerates a man like Rove in the White House should be commander in chief of American security."
"I Didn't Do It, Nobody Saw Me Do It, There's No Way You Can Prove Anything!"

"Q : Scott, some Democrats are calling for the revocation of Karl Rove's security clearance. Does the President see any need for that?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I think there's a lot of discussion that's going on in the context of an ongoing investigation. This is based on some news reports that came out recently. I think you heard me talk about the importance of helping this investigation move forward. I don't think it's helpful for me from this podium to get into discussing what is an ongoing investigation. I think it's most helpful for me to not comment while that investigation continues. And these are all issues that some are trying to raise in the context of news reports. I don't think we should be prejudging the outcome of any investigation at this point.

Q : But the issues of security clearance and criminal investigations are often on very separate tracks. So does the President see any reason, any necessity, at least in the interim, to revoke Karl Rove's security clearance?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, the President -- first of all, let me back up -- some of you asked a couple of questions about does the President still have confidence in particular individuals, specifically Karl Rove. I don't want to get into commenting on things in the context of an ongoing investigation. So let me step back and point out that any individual who works here at the White House has the confidence of the President. They wouldn't be working here at the White House if they didn't have the President's confidence. And in terms of security clearances, there are a number of people at the White House that have various levels of security clearance. And I'm confident that those individuals have the appropriate security clearance. I haven't gone around looking at what those security clearances are.

Q: But, Scott, are you suggesting -- I think it's pretty clear to everybody at this point you don't want to comment on the investigation. But the President has also spoken about this when asked. So does the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: Spoken about?

Q: Well, he has spoken about these questions that have come up as part of a leak investigation. So does he retain confidence in Karl Rove, specifically?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Any individual who works here at the White House has the President's confidence. They wouldn't be working here if they didn't have the President's confidence. That's why I stepped back from this and talked about it in the broader context. Now, these questions are coming up in the context of an ongoing investigation, and I stated long ago, you all will remember, that the investigation is continuing, I want to be helpful to the investigation, I don't want to jeopardize anything in that investigation, and that's why I made a decision and the White House made a decision quite some time ago that we weren't going to get into commenting on questions related to that investigation.

Q: But isn't the difficulty that you have said to the public, dating back to 2003, affirmatively, Karl Rove is not involved, and now we have evidence to the contrary? So how do you reconcile those two things? How does the President reconcile those two things?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, if I were to get into discussing this, I would be getting into discussing an investigation that continues and could be prejudging the outcome of the investigation. I'm not going to do that from this podium. You do point out some statements that were made. I remember well the comments that were made. After that point, I also remember going and testifying in this investigation. I remember well individuals who are involved overseeing this investigation expressing their preference personally to me that we not get into discussing what is an ongoing investigation. I think that's the way to be most helpful as they move forward, and that's why I'm in the position that I am. I'm not going to get into jumping on every news report as the investigation continues and trying to comment on them, because I don't think that's helpful. So I think you have to step back from any individual news story or individual reports. Let's let the investigation take place. I look forward to talking about some of these matters once the investigation is complete. I welcome the opportunity to talk about some of these questions, but I don't think it's appropriate to do so at this time.

Q: Let's just -- just one final --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I think the American people can understand and appreciate that.

Q : Well, we'll see. But I just have one final question on this. The question of whether a law has been broken, a crime committed, is a separate matter. You're not going to resolve that; that's for a grand jury to decide. But we know what the facts are. We know that Karl Rove spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife, referring to the fact that she worked at the Agency. You've heard Democrats who say that -- say today that alone was inappropriate conduct. What was Karl Rove trying to accomplish by having the conversation he did? And does the President think that it was fair of him to do that? Was it fair game?

MR. McCLELLAN: Now, that's a question related to an ongoing investigation. The investigation continues, David. I think you know that very well. I've responded to that question. And if I were to start commenting on news reports or things related to the investigation, I'm getting into prejudging the outcome of that investigation. I don't want to do that from this podium. Let's let the investigation take place, and let's let the investigators bring all the facts together and draw the conclusions that they draw, and then we will know the facts at that point.

Q: But, Scott, there's a difference between what's legal and what's right. Is what Karl Rove did right?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, you can state the obvious. I understand and appreciate that, and I appreciate you all. I know you all want to get to the bottom of this. I want to get to the bottom of it; the President has said no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than he does. We want to see it come to a successful conclusion. The best way to help the investigation come to a successful conclusion is for me not to get into discussing it from this podium. I don't think that --

Q: Well, wait, wait, wait --

MR. McCLELLAN: Wait -- I don't think that helps advance the investigation.

Q: All right, you say you won't discuss it, but the Republican National Committee and others working, obviously, on behalf of the White House, they put out this Wilson-Rove research and talking points, distributed to Republican surrogates, which include things like, Karl Rove discouraged a reporter from writing a false story. And then other Republican surrogates are getting information such as, Cooper -- the Time reporter -- called Rove on the pretense of discussing welfare reform. Bill Kristol on Fox News, a friendly news channel to you, said that the conversation lasted for two minutes and it was just at the end that Rove discussed this. So someone is providing this information. Are you, behind the scenes, directing a response to this story?

MR. McCLELLAN: You can talk to the RNC about what they put out. I'll let them speak to that. What I know is that the President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with that investigation, that means supporting the efforts by the investigators to come to a successful conclusion, and that means not commenting on it from this podium.

Q : Well, if --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I understand your question.

Q: Well, Fox News and other Republican surrogates are essentially saying that the conversation lasted for two minutes and that the subject was ostensibly welfare reform. They're getting that information from here, from Karl Rove.

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, you're asking questions that are related to news reports about an ongoing, continuing investigation. And you've had my response on that.

Q: At the very least, though, Scott, could you say whether or not you stand by your statement --

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I'll come back to you if I can.

Q: -- of September 29th, 2003, that it is simply not true that Karl Rove disclosed the identity of a CIA operative? Can you stand by that statement?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I look forward to talking about this at some point, but it's not the appropriate time to talk about those questions while the investigation is continuing."

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

"Q: Scott, can I ask you this; did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than we're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliott Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this" -- do you stand by that statement?

MR. McCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time, as well.

Q: Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --

Q: Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MR. McCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish --

Q: No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question. Go ahead, Terry.

Q: Well, you're in a bad spot here, Scott, because after the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said -- October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby, as I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this." From that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's not a correct characterization Terry, and I think you are well aware of that. We know each other very well, and it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation. And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this, because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point, I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I'm just not going to do that.

Q: Do you recall when you were asked --

Q: Wait, wait -- so you're now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore, and since then, you haven't?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation, and I'm just not going to respond any further.

Q: When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you peg down a date?

MR. McCLELLAN: Back at that time period.

Q: Well, then the President commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response."

Sunday, July 10, 2005
A new batch of books completed, with particularly notable titles in red:

Philip K. Dick, Valis
Philip K. Dick, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Pat Hobby Stories
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Ernest Hemingway, The Nick Adams Stories
Frank King, Walt & Skeezix
Reid Shier, Michael Darling, Kelly Wood, Jens Hoffman et al., Ron Terada
Jerry Zaslove et al., Jeff Wall 1990
Ethel Wilson, Mrs. Golightly & Other Stories
Douglas Fairburn, Shoot
Gilles Delueuze, Difference and Repetition

To Victoria yesterday, cold kicking up into high gear. On a whim, I decided to hike the Galloping Goose Regional Trail back to Swartz Bay (35km!). Made it 4.5km up the old roadbed and bailed out onto Victoria public transit, shivering and sweat-soaked despite the sunshine. Trip highlight: the long (.5km?) wooden trestle bridge crossing the neck of the Gorge.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Summer cold. Sore throat and slow head, as if someone wrapped my skull in damp flannel.

Off to copy-correct Michelina once again; back Sunday.
Coats 5-11. I tricked up a pretty good easel from the old aluminum stepladder the VAG prep staff gave me when I left to run Anodyne (the self-funded office gallery I operated for a year and a half while psyching myself up to open Pulpfiction v.1), a piece of cardboard, and a surplus Ikea wooden stepstool. A piece of styrofoam salvaged from the box the color printer came in doubles nicely as a "palette."

Marcia Hafif's comments, blogged yesterday, are ultra-pertinent. The "art materials," freely selected, establish basic limiting conditions of their own: the size of the canvas (purchased off-the-shelf from the local art supply store, so as to disguise my ineptitude at stretching and tacking); the size of the brushes (smallish; at first I thought to use a roller, then concluded that that choice was ethically suspect. Why? I didn't know yesterday, but I do today. The work is about submerging or effacing one's personality. A roller provides no challenge -- the paint goes on smooth and even, "as good as it was in the can," to paraphrase Frank Stella. Whereas a brush implies "personal" or "authored" touch, like handwriting. And this project largely consists of extinguishing that touch, of making one's self over, however briefly, into someone else); the number of tubes of paint (as few as possible); the number of coats (enough to eliminate all traces of the canvas' texture, to create a flat seamless plane of color).

So: modernism again, art's materials gently nudging "intention" sideways, like Luna the whale harassing fishing boats in Barkley Sound.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Juan Cole's Informed Comment -- my first stop every every morning, right behind the Times.

Shouldn't detailed critical commentary like this routinely appear in the Vancouver Sun or the Globe & Mail? Oh, wait -- that would mean eliminating the pictures of Hollywood celebrities accompanying "hard news" (a.k.a. verbatim wire copy), or "human interest" items like yesterday's story about the little Protection Island girl whose lemonade stand was shut down by an evil city of Nanaimo bylaw officer.
Coats 1-4 dried overnight. Not quite the "Bergen Blue Medium" I copied off the screen, but close enough, a steely blueish-grey.

The color of the morning's wet sky.
Agrippa: A Book of the Dead

An autobiographical prose-poem by William Gibson, originally published as an outrageously expensive "artist's book" with light-sensitive illustrations by Dennis Ashbaugh. The text was contained on a "computer diskette" -- remember those? -- and destroyed by a built-in "virus" as you read it for the first and only time.

WG read some years back at the Vogue Theatre, as a benefit for a Vancouver dance company. Agrippa was the last piece on the program. It took about twenty minutes to perform, and I don't think I've ever listened to anything more attentively.

The line breaks in the online version seem a little suspect to me. Try to approximate a slow West Virginia drawl and you'll be close enough.
Thursday, July 07, 2005

A late night shout-out to Ann Elizabeth in London, alive and in one piece despite the day's events.

The "Crusader army" pretext is racist bullshit of the highest order. The bombers and their theocratic pals are deathly afraid of cosmopolitan culture. Their targets -- Madrid, London and New York-- represent the best of world culture, places where ideologically disparate individuals meet and mix on common ground. Posted by Picasa

Ron Terada, Untitled (Ad Painting) Posted by Picasa
Marcia Hafif -- excellent artist's site, and an even better essay on the monochrome's relationship to contemporary art practice.

"The work is determined through the observation of the materials and techniques chosen for a given project or body of work. Rather than altering material to fit one's needs, material is left to a large degree integral and the art is drawn from it. The qualities of the materials and tools, and also the nature of the discipline, determine the choices made. Rules emerge derived from the material and methods in question, and results become the desired end product. The image searched for, more than simply what happened. With this integrity even the smallest decisions take on great importance, as an interrelated consistency is produced among all the elements off the work creating a meaning. The artist determines how, where, how much, and so on, while the nature of the materials is respected, playing its part in determining the final result. The artist works within the (chosen) givens of the materials.

Choices in these areas are made without reference to a known esthetic, each decision being weighed on its own, taking into consideration the material and the desired end in a specific process. Often these are traditional time-honed paint procedures being used, the artist restating, investigating, as though for the first time, the use of materials that have been long known to art. The difference is in the kind of consciousness focused on the details of these decisions. This is not necessarily a new focus, but one that had not been used for a while, that of seeing the material and its use more for itself than for what it can do."

The Granville Book Company closed today after a long slow decline. Anyone seeking the cause of the business' failure is directed to T.C. Boyle's terrific novel Drop City, which is far more eloquent on the subject than anything I could say.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Why Kids Love Roald Dahl -- thx Pete!

"The essence of Dahl is his willingness to let children triumph over adults. He is a modern writer of fairy tales, who intuitively understands the sort of argument that Bruno Bettelheim made in his 1976 book, The Uses of Enchantment. Children need the dark materials of fairy tales because they need to make sense—in a symbolic, displaced way—of their own feelings of anger, resentment, and powerlessness. Children also benefit from learning about violence and brutishness in fairy tales, Bettelheim writes, for it counters the 'widespread refusal to let children know that the source of much that goes wrong in our life is due to our natures—the propensity of all men for acting aggressively, asocially, selfishly.' Many fairy tales—and most of Dahl’s work—are complex narratives of wish fulfillment. They teach the reader, Bettelheim writes, that 'a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence—but if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious.' Or, in any case, this is a hopeful fantasy which sustains us all."
Self-Portrait as Michael Snow, as Rodney Graham, as Ron Terada

A 12" x 12" prestretched and primed canvas; several small brushes; painter's tape; three tubes of acrylic paint (Warm White, Prussian Blue Ultramarine, Carbon Black).
God's Little Toys -- new op-ed from fellow Vancouverite William Gibson, whose short fiction and nonfiction writing continues to exert a deep and permanent hold on me.

"In the early '70s in Jamaica, King Tubby and Lee 'Scratch' Perry, great visionaries, were deconstructing recorded music. Using astonishingly primitive predigital hardware, they created what they called versions. The recombinant nature of their means of production quickly spread to DJs in New York and London.

Our culture no longer bothers to use words like appropriation or borrowing to describe those very activities. Today's audience isn't listening at all - it's participating. Indeed, audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital. Today, an endless, recombinant, and fundamentally social process generates countless hours of creative product (another antique term?). To say that this poses a threat to the record industry is simply comic. The record industry, though it may not know it yet, has gone the way of the record. Instead, the recombinant (the bootleg, the remix, the mash-up) has become the characteristic pivot at the turn of our two centuries.

We live at a peculiar juncture, one in which the record (an object) and the recombinant (a process) still, however briefly, coexist. But there seems little doubt as to the direction things are going. The recombinant is manifest in forms as diverse as Alan Moore's graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, machinima generated with game engines (Quake, Doom, Halo), the whole metastasized library of Dean Scream remixes, genre-warping fan fiction from the universes of Star Trek or Buffy or (more satisfying by far) both at once, the JarJar-less Phantom Edit (sound of an audience voting with its fingers), brand-hybrid athletic shoes, gleefully transgressive logo jumping, and products like Kubrick figures, those Japanese collectibles that slyly masquerade as soulless corporate units yet are rescued from anonymity by the application of a thoughtfully aggressive 'custom' paint job."


Someone writes to ask about all the recent drug references.

1. Like 99% of my generation, I've inhaled, but came to the early conclusion that Mary Jane wasn't someone I wanted to ask out. Let's just say the getting-to-know-you dates were awkward and unrewarding and leave it at that. The plants are gorgeous to look at and smell terrific, like a sidewalk after summer rain, but I have a hard time untangling those things from the goofy economic libertarians masquerading as defenders of individual rights and free choice who come running, at least here in Vansterdam, behind MJ's siren call.

2. Being interested in hiphop and contemporary poetry means that drug references creep in almost by default. Qv. S F-J on Madvillain, blogged on June 28th.

3. That's Mount Shasta in the background. Courtesy the Weed Chamber of Commerce. Posted by Picasa

An Arundel Tomb
Philip Larkin

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd -
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly, they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

A copy of Larkin's Whitsun Weddings arrived yesterday afternoon in a batch of trade, and I re-read it for the umpteen millionth time in the slow wet dusk. Summer rain hammering on the roofs of all the parked cars, the street lights all on early, and the big silver fan ceaselessly spinning in the front room.

Larkin may be my favorite poet ever, arrived at as usual by unfashionable means: Grant Morrison's pilfering of the line, "A serious house on serious earth it is" as the epigraph for his "artistic" Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum.

"You've got to be kidding," said Bernadette when she found out. She sent me to the UBC bookstore to buy a copy of the Faber & Faber Collected Poems. Surprise: I liked almost everything I read, including some uncollected poems she'd clipped from the Independent or the Guardian. Even Andrew Busza's inclusion of Toads and Next, Please on the English 210 final exam didn't dim my enthusiasm.

What I admired then, and still admire now, is Larkin's unbeatable combination of lyrical imagery and emotional reserve, and those short, compressed lines. If there's a better line than

Rigidly, they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time

in modern English poetry, I don't know it. I admire that line for its concision; for the line break between they and persisted; for linked, which brings to mind a chain, and for the notion that time should not only be long, like a chain (and, hence, unmemorable on its own), but broad too. How is time broad? I have pondered that question every time I read this poem, and I am still not quite sure I understand what Larkin intends, unless he is suggesting is that each individual lifetime that goes to make up "time" is unique in its "breadth," in which case time is like a linked set of chains radiating out, interlocking & crisscrossing back and forth through memory.

I like, too, how the lines beginning Rigidly... seem to move the poem abruptly forward in time and sideways in tone. They make the theme of passing time explicit by radically compressing it (just as the tomb sculptor does, or just as Cormac McCarthy does in the last astonishing twenty-five pages of his Border Trilogy). You pay attention to the change but the change is not new information; it merely represents the foregrounding of material that has always been there, cast suddenly in sharp harsh light.Posted by Picasa

Spider-Man Reviews Crayons, submitted by Gwynedd Elaine Pickett as retribution for Canada Day's jet-powered sheep. "Ever seen this?" I can't believe I never have. Thank you, World Wide Web. Posted by Picasa
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Very Relentless

Another Tennant/Lowe namecheck, based on sitting down in the office this evening with the accounting program and an endless stack of paperwork to enter, organize, and file. This isn't remotely glamourous work -- in actual fact, given my druthers, it's work I'd rather not perform at all -- but it's neccessary. Kind of strange to discover that the least creatively satisfying and, in a sense, mechanical work that the job has to offer is the stuff that keeps the rest of the machine functioning.

Persistence. A funny kind of tool, blunt in the hand like a hammer. I may not be as skilled or genuinely talented or lucky as you are, but I'm sure as hell going to try and outlast you.
Monday, July 04, 2005

Frank King's Gasoline Alley, one of the most sublime comic strips ever published. Lately I've been working my way through Drawn & Quarterly Books' Walt and Skeezix, a collection of GA strips from the late 1930s. A long sequence in the center of the book depicts the Wallet family's summer visit to Yellowstone Park; the park's mountains, rivers and roads are drawn with such fidelity that I, who've only ever been to Yellowstone once, instantly recognized them.Posted by Picasa
Friday, July 01, 2005

Travellers overlooking a sea of fog. 6800' elevation, Mount Outram meadows, Seventeen Mile Creek below. Left to right: Q, cjb, dblair. Courtesy simonc. Posted by Picasa

Rose T. Cat, Mount Outram summit cairn. Courtesy simonc. Posted by Picasa
Mr. T Goes For a Drive -- low-fi Flash animation that definitely perked up the end of my dismal Canada Day.
Build Your Own Kit Kayak!

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