Saturday, March 31, 2007
And a Strange Dust Lands On Your Hands
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): a confident white skirt, the color of cloud.

Anodyne turned 3 yesterday, and I, as usual, was too busy with book-buying and photographs and reading to mark the occasion. Thanks to everyone who wrote last year, and to the geographically dispersed crew of Constant Readers: Vancouver, Chilliwack, South Wellington, Victoria, Toronto, Ann Arbor, NYC, London & etc. I had not expected to find a public form that would contain all the things in my head, nor to find real people emerging from cyberspace to discuss them. And the Incredible Talking Cats never expected a fan club, let alone one whose membership includes friends, total strangers, and several internationally exhibiting artists. "Much about this life is strange..." To those whose day jobs apparently consist of reloading Anodyne over and over again, and writing to complain each time a day passes without comment, sorry for the (subjectively) glacial pace of updates. Some days there's only so much to say. I know the stats would explode if I'd ever settle down and focus on one thing (bookstore staff-customer exchanges; art criticism; cryptically moping over girls). But as Olson says,

Around an appearance, one common model, we grow up
many. Else how is it,
if we remain the same,
we take pleasure now
in what we did not take pleasure from before? love
contrary objects? admire and/or find fault? use
other words, feel other passions, have
nor figure, appearance, disposition, tissue
the same?

Friday, March 30, 2007

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (52), 2007
[PULPFICTION REGULAR] DOUGLAS WONG: You are so incredibly annoying! You know who you remind me of?

CJB: No, who? Please don't say a Star Trek character.

DW: Dr. Rodney McKay!

CJB: Who?

DW: He's on Stargate: Atlantis.

WIKIPEDIA [condensed]: Parents blamed McKay for their problems. Though he comes across as pompous and rude at times, he has proven himself to be courageous in the face of danger. Others have noticed his propensity to come up with brilliant ideas while under threat of death or impending doom. He tried marijuana in college, with disastrous consequences. There are four known alternate-timeline versions of him. McKay seems to have the interesting psychological quirk of creating hallucinations of people he knows in order to deal with harsh emotions.

CJB: You win!

Split, 2007

Another "graphite rubbing of a landscape," this one just northwest of Cedar Bridge. A pretty busy road maybe a hundred and fifty feet away: cement trucks, dump trucks, 1-800-GOT-JUNK, big yellow School District #68 buses, etc. trundling by.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Recent reading:

Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
Jeff Wall, et al., Jeff Wall: Selected Essays and Interviews

Both completed on the ferry to and from the island. A 16km. walk, in flat grey light, from Duke Point to Departure Bay with the camera, with a brief stop in downtown Nanaimo to correct a striking pricing decision by one of my competitors. On up the road, framing Stewart Avenue magnolias, backpack about fifteen pounds heavier. "Ka-ching," says perennial hiking companion Rose T. Cat, delighted to be out again after months in the house. 248 pictures taken, 220-odd promptly trashed on the ferry on the way home. Survivors: two cedars, two ghosts, one magnolia.

The uncanny sense, the whole day, of stalking through the background of one of Pete Culley's pictures: drainage ditches, skunk cabbage bright and pungent at the water's edge. Gravel trucks, landfills, condos hammered up out of the forest. Beer cans, plastic bags, toilet-paper streamers. A rabbit bounding along the side of the Duke Point Highway. Sawdust, plywood stacks. The sad Arbutus Book Exchange, its proprietor snoozing away on the couch with a paperback propped on his chest. Magnolias, cows. Trailerparks. Blossom. Subway, Tim's, $1.149 gas.

"Fuckin A!" shouts a baby wigger in a frayed Bulls jacket, spraying spit in a long continuous downward stream.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Odd Pair, 2007

Magnolia at Noon, 2007

2007's first keeper. Omitted from this image: the extremely pleasant French Canadian nature photographer with the gigantic barrel lens, crouched just left of the frame's edge. Also omitted: the three or four folks who wandered up, digital pocket cameras at the ready, to capture 10th Avenue's huge pink blooms. Admitted: feeling like a dumbass, being sadly and baldly unoriginal. A Flickr search on "magnolia" returns approximately 35,000 images, but at least those photographers are not all standing around the same tree.

Extremely Pleasant French Canadian Guy had a bunch of questions for me, which of course I couldn't answer. Which aperture are you using? What paper do you print on? He might as well have been asking in French for all the sense he got from me. I just like them, you know. . . .Distressed, as usual, at having to talk while locked in some deep and private headspace. The sense of dredging each word up in a bucket from somewhere as remote and cold and still as the Mariana Trench.

How do you say, they're portraits of people I'm too shy to photograph in person, so I wait until a tree reminds me of someone, then make its picture, but only for three weeks every year? Try translating that into coherence, let alone French.
Monday, March 26, 2007

"Art nerds." Courtesy dru. Steve tears into a new bucket of drywall mud, while yours truly slopes around uselessly with his hands in his pockets. Putting this view together with yesterday's provides a pretty good mental map of our little art space. The top of the cherry tree outside the shop's front door is just barely visible through the gap in the blinds.
Sunday, March 25, 2007

"A triangle of different concerns." Left to right: Pulpfiction regular Douglas Wong ponders aesthetics; Steven Tong contemplates hanging Untitled (Shit-Stick); yours truly eyeballs the lighting and wonders whether his credit card will be declined at the liquor store. Photograph by "Snap" Tolagson.
Scattered sunlight and cloud, dappled patterns on the fresh-cut park grass and on the snowline laid like a ruler along the North Shore mountains' 750m contour. The sudden relevation of a horizon other than that gunmetal one formed where the sea and rainclouds previously met in the harbor. Islands rising in the distance, ragged peaks and ridgelines brought closer by some peculiar trick of the light. Big freighters riding at anchor in the bay. Stray pink cherry petals floating in the breeze: spring snow!
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Wet pink petals on the little tree outside the front door.

Sky clearing, sun going down, deep grey-blue above the rooftops shading incrementally up to night. A plane's lights glittering up there, blinking, a little last sunlight silver on the wings and the belly of the fuselage.

Mojave 3 on the deck.

The crossbraces of the electrical tower in the alley, a vast constructivist silhouette against the sky.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Via my pals at Environment Canada:

"An additional 120 mm of rain expected for West Vancouver Island through Saturday. An additional 50 to 110 mm of rain expected for Greater Vancouver. Western Fraser Valley and Howe Sound through Saturday. A strong front will remain stationary over southern British Columbia through Saturday. The front is expected to bring an additional 50 to 110 mm of rain over Greater Vancouver, western Fraser Valley and Howe Sound. An additional 120 mm of rain can be expected over West Vancouver Island. The rain should ease early Saturday evening as the front moves into Washington state.

In addition to this rainfall warning there is also a High Streamflow Advisory issued by the BC River Forecast Centre for the Greater Vancouver area, Lower Fraser Valley and Howe Sound. Rivers such as the Nicomekl River and the Serpentine River will experience a rapid increase in water levels today after low tide at 4pm and peak after high tide at 11am on Saturday."

"How I dearly wish I was not here." (Stephen Morrissey)

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (51), 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Via the big renovation sale down at Macleod's Books:

Art in Theory 1648-1815 (Ed. Charles Harrison)
Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism v.3, Arrogant Purpose (HC/DJ, signed by editor John O'Brian)
Theodor Adorno, Prisms (UK HC 1st, 1967)
Henry Green, Pack My Bag: An Autobiography
Italo Calvino, The Uses of Literature (US HC 1st)

Torrential grey vertical rain. About to take my life in my hands and drive out to the ferry to collect Tolagson , his filmmaker friend Kyath, and his photographs:

CJB: The Subaru's kind of a wreck. I hope Kyath won't mind.

JT: No worries. She's easy-going. She won't care.

CJB: She will if the wheel falls off in the tunnel!

A great exchange overheard yesterday in the course of a wander through three or four of my downtown competitors:

IRRITATING MIDDLE-AGED GUY: Where's your business section?


IMAG: Oh. Is that all you have. Where's your classics section?

BP: Right over there.

IMAG: Not so big, is it?

BP: [bites tongue]

IMAG: I love bookstores. And browsing. I have a whole room full of books at home! But I can't buy anything today. The wife says she'll kick me out if I bring any more books home!

BP: [thoughtfully] Oh, I'm sure she'll have lots better reasons than that.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Coming out the woodwork, through the open door
Pushing from above and below
Shadows but no substance, in the shape of men

Round and down and sideways they go

Adrift without direction, eyes that hold despair

Then as one they sigh and they moan,

"Help us someone, let us out of here

Living here so long undisturbed

Dreaming of the time we were free

So many years ago

Before the time when we first heard

'Welcome to the home by the sea."'

(Another context for ghosts. Synthesizers, smoke show, and Dr. Evil notwithstanding. Scenes of unimportance, photos in a frame...)

CJB puts his new VPL card to good use.
Monday, March 19, 2007
The middle-aged guy whose only monotonous topic of conversation is the circus, magic tricks, clowns, carney freaks, etc. just produced, a propos of nothing, a grubby Polaroid of him seated in a sideshow tent with a big-ass snake draped around his neck. Not an image I was really expecting, and one that, like the proverbial elephant, is going to be hard to forget.

Recent reading: Plato, "Greater Hippias." Via The Collected Dialogues of Plato, eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Socrates vs. a professional speaking coach on the nature of beauty. Interesting to note that Socrates, like Duchamp, immediately intuits that aesthetic beauty cannot definitively inhere in any material or thing:

Hippias: [I]f you reply to him: “This that you ask about, the beautiful, is nothing else but gold,” he will be thrown into confusion and will not attempt to confute you. For we all know, I fancy, that wherever this is added, even what before appears ugly will appear beautiful when adorned with gold.

Socrates: You don't know the man, Hippias, what a wretch he is, and how certain not to accept anything easily.

Hippias: What of that, then, Socrates? For he must perforce accept what is correct, or if he does not accept it, be ridiculous.

Socrates: This reply, my most excellent friend, he not only will certainly not accept, but he will even jeer at me grossly and will say: “You lunatic, do you think Pheidias is a bad craftsman?” And I shall say, “Not in the least.”

Hippias: And you will be right, Socrates.

Socrates: Yes, to be sure. Consequently when I agree that Pheidias is a good craftsman, “Well, then,” he will say, “do you imagine that Pheidias did not know this beautiful that you speak of?” “Why do you ask that?” I shall say. “Because,” he will say, “he did not make the eyes of his Athena of gold, nor the rest of her face, nor her hands and feet, if, that is, they were sure to appear most beautiful provided only they were made of gold, but he made them of ivory; evidently he made this mistake through ignorance, not knowing that it is gold which makes everything beautiful to which it is added.” When he says that, what reply shall we make to him, Hippias?

Hippias: That is easy; for we shall say that Pheidias did right; for ivory, I think, is beautiful.

Socrates: “Why, then,” he will say, “did he not make the middle parts of the eyes also of ivory, but of stone, procuring stone as similar as possible to the ivory? Or is beautiful stone also beautiful?” Shall we say that it is, Hippias?

& etc., until Mr. Self-Confident Professional Speaker blows his stack -- "But now, Socrates, what do you think all this amounts to? It is mere scrapings and shavings of discourse" -- and Socrates concludes, reasonably enough, "So it has come about, as I say, that I am abused and reviled by you. . . .But perhaps it is necessary to endure all this, for it is quite reasonable that I might be benefited by it. So I think, Hippias, that I have been benefited by conversation with. . .you; for I think I know the meaning of the proverb 'beautiful things are difficult.'"

(Image: Sam Kieth's and William Messner-Loebs' Epicurus The Sage, a terrific ancient philosophy-themed graphic novel)
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Photographs by Jamie Tolagson
CSA Space
#4 - 2414 Main Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Opening Friday 23 March 2007, 6-9pm. Y'all come!
Saturday, March 17, 2007

Torrential rain all day, on into the wet grey evening, yellow lamps glowing like fireflies across the street in Architectural Antiques' big barred windows. Beth Orton on the deck, her "Anywhere" just beginning, all horn section, strings, and softly ticking drums. And I'd do anything to see you smile again... Plangent? Weepily sentimental? Amen, oh yeah.

[Update, Sunday morning: "'Anywhere' is on Daybreaker, not Central Reservation," some smartass informs me. "You better change that picture!'" As above, humongous JPEG by request].
Farewell to an Idea

Someone writes to ask where and when the photographs are going to be shown. I don't know and don't particularly care; I'm more interested in making them, and in trying to figure out which ones are good, which ones are less good, and why. This seems to me the foundation of any artistic praxis. I published my first paid writing when I was nineteen or twenty, but had been writing steadily since age five or six. So, using that timeline as a guide, "some time in late fall 2021." Which sounds really strange on the face of it. But in general, I think a long time horizon is a useful thing. Warren Buffett talks about investing like a punchcard with twenty squares on it. Once you've punched all twenty, you're done: no more investing for life. So imagine a one-man (or woman) show in October 2021. What would be in it? What would you make in the interval if you knew that whatever you did could not be exhibited, purchased, written about or publicly admired/reviled for fourteen or fifteen years? Or, alternately, if you knew that you could only show fifty, thirty, or even ten artworks in your lifetime? (Goodbye, ghosts, goodbye). I think your work could not help but improve as you came to fear your own judgement more than the crowd's.
Waste My Time, Please

CJB: Two 16-oz. coffees, please.

COFFEE GUY: There ya go!

IRRITATING DUDE: [cutting in front of me] This coffee's cold!

COFFEE GUY: Sorry, man. I'll replace it. How's yours, Chris?

CJB: [tastes] Hot!


One Hundred Famous Ghosts (50), 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007

Revolution Blues

The only song I've ever sung on stage in my life. At the old New York Theatre on Commercial Drive, c. 1990, backed by a pickup band composed of CITR radio personalities and hangers-on. Probably only briefly on key throughout, but that's a "rock gesture" of its own, ne?

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Philip Taaffe, Cape Vitus, 2006-7. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Lots of famous ghost friends, relatives, siblings, exes, "business associates," etc. in this huge, colorful, riotously funny painting!

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (49), 2007

For Aaron Peck. Shinrei shashin city, baby! I thought I was making a location study of a bus shelter for a future project, but this sleepy-eyed guy had other ideas, and materialized in the thumbnails overnight. Tolagson might object that #49 isn't "conditioned by use" like the other ghosts, but it seems to me that #49 still responds to another series criterion; namely, that the otherwordly manifestation is connected to an specifically photographic way of seeing. And in this case I think the camera's peculiar way of pushing planes together -- eg., the glass back of the shelter and the road's painted lines -- definitely manifests a "personality."

I'm being coy about #49's whereabouts for the moment, because posters with my email address on them are up around a nearby location in the hope of finding commuters who won't mind being, a/ observed; and, b/ rearranged, and, c/ digitally recomposed.

Recent reading: Plato, "Socrates' Defense (Apology)," "Crito," "Phaedro." (All three via The Collected Dialogues of Plato, eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns)
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Email from Tolagson in Victoria:

"Big sign in front of the church by my house this morning says: 'THE ONLY GHOSTS AROUND HERE ARE HOLY.' This just ain't your town dude."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Anodyne Inc.

Two distributions tomorrow, recorded today as I may or may not be around in the morning:

Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN): 770 units x .24/unit = $184.80
TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 309 units x .08333/unit = $25.75

Cash balance, $770.39

Kind out-of-the-blue email from veteran Vancouver journalist Lee Bacchus, a byline I read with pleasure as a teenager in the mid- to late- 1980s, when he regularly appeared in the Vancouver Sun:

"Read that Wall quote on your consistently interesting blog today.

A book you might find helpful (perhaps you've slogged through it already) is Terry Eagleton's The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Blackwell, 1990) , in which he traces the aesthetic realm (and its evil twin — hegemony) from Shaftsbury through to Adorno and then the post-modernists. It's dense in parts (Kant, as always, is a brick) but it shines some lights in new places (at least for my tiny brain).

Wall, I think, is closest to Adorno in spirit."

Aaron Peck writes from NYC to draw my attention to shinrei shashin.

Via an exellent Japanese ghost website: "Shinrei shashin are snapshots taken by amateur photographers (while out with friends, on vacations, at school events, etc.). After the pictures are developed, the photographer notices that some kind of inexplicable, spectral image has been captured by the camera. The specter was not visible to the naked eye when the picture was taken. With the wide distribution of disposable cameras and the ubiquity of camera-cell phones, the shinrei shashin phenomenon has gained new life, with photographers posting their mysterious images on the internet."
More shock-of-recognition, this time via Marya Hornbacher's splendid memoir Wasted:

"In the therapy charts, my parents are quoted as saying that they felt a need to 'scale down my expectations.' They apparently mentioned, not once but four times in a single session, plans I made when I was three for a birthday party that was, admittedly, a bit elaborate. Their 'scaling down' of my expectations, which seemed too me more like an abiding doubt in my ability to do so much as blow my nose properly, would continue from early childhood until, oh, last year. It had an interesting effect: My behavior became even more grandiose, while I myself became progressively less certain that I could accomplish even simple tasks, let alone achieve significant success. My parents, I sense, thought I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Who knows? Maybe they were right. They say, in the charts, fears, nightmares, too much fantasy."

Magnolia on Renfrew, 2006-7
Portraits of friends, coming soon.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Latenight Glenlivet downtempo.

A funny day spent dealing with a variety of folks, most pleasant, some noticably less so, and attempting to trace the historical lineage of the following passage:

"That universe is something akin to to the mainstream of idealist and Romantic aesthetics of modern art. On this highroad, the work of art tends to be composed as an expression of the dynamic unity of nature. In this perspective, a work whose theme might be the conflict between its elements formulates that disunity on the basis of a rhythmic ground which binds, stages and contains the conflict. The work is thus a transcendental ground of a disunity that does not envelop it, but which, on the contrary, is recovered from its potential formlessness and brutality by the dance of its own rendering, composition, and expression. This allows us to claim that, in a work of art, nothing is destroyed, even, and especially, that which is depicted as being or having been destroyed. This is the basis for the idealist tradition's claims for the healing and redemptive character of art." (Jeff Wall, "An Artist and His Models," in, Roy Arden (Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 1993)).

Fair enough, and well articulated, too, but from whence does the passage spring? Coleridge? Schelling? Hegel? Orsini thinks so: "After Schelling, Hegel definitely affirmed (in 1838) that organic unity was the basic characteristic of a poem: 'Every genuine work of poetry is an essentially infinite organism... in which the whole, without any visible intention, is sphered within one rounded and essentially self-enclosed completeness.' (Philosophy of Fine Art, Part III: 'Poetry'). From Germany the idea spread to other European countries where it found support in native traditions."

Why should I care? Well, because I'm currently writing something akin to one of Greenberg's Seminars, a text that begins from my own experience, then slowly works its way into critical philosophy. And here I feel at a definite disadvantage; my shopkeeper's mind isn't really oriented to the abstractions that philosophy requires; I'm a much more nuts-and-bolts kind of guy. Six cents tax on that table book; no thanks to your boyfriend's manky marked-up Barthes text; fuck off to anything vended door-to-door or by telephone (beanbag Spider-Man dolls; a "comprehensive employee health benefits package.") Although maybe I protest too much; I remember hiking with a pal last fall, who at one point snapped something along the lines of, I give up. On 99 of 100 topics, you claim, 'No opinion,' but then on the 100th, one that no one cares about, you deliver an impromptu non-stop 35-minute monologue. Whoops. Which is maybe a roundabout way of saying that the transitions from shopkeeper -- a Yaletown resident's term, based on his sneering assessment that, given my position behind the till, and my round, bald, prematurely middle-aged face, I must have fucked up badly, must have repeatedly failed -- to critic to photographer are only growing more pronounced as I age.

You Are The Weather

Risk of wet flurries at higher levels. Risk of a thundershower with small hail. Down below, in the city, rain stipples the concrete pad by the driveway, where my building manager is slowly and laboriously dismantling the homeless squeegee kids' makeshift camp: syringes, condoms, Lucky Lager empties, and styrofoam takeaways half-full of last night's curry chicken and sweet-and-sour pork. A wet stack of wrecked cardboard boxes by the back door, and a bedbug advisory in the elevator. It's as if Jack Womack and J.G. Ballard are lurking in the wings, planning the next plot development. Suitcase nuke in the stairwell? Cholera? A giggling Gage Creed, all yellow eyes and mossy white face? Meanwhile, the Lower Mainland continues to arrive with books, overflowing the New Arrivals cases by the desk. Tottery Dr. Seuss towers of interesting stuff all up and down the aisles, with more piling in the door hourly. I sit on the bus with Marya Hornbacher's memoir, Lefebvre, and Plato, trying to puzzle out the answers to some fundamentally simple questions. But the origin of the concept of the organically unified, self-contained work of art is going to have to wait until after 8pm Pacific time, because the book-unloading public is already rattling the front door like Romero zombies.
Sunday, March 11, 2007

"She said that in her dream you were sitting at the kitchen table and your eyes were open, but she knew you were dead."
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It

(via my pal Neaera H.)
Constant rain. Little streams sluicing off the awning, off the cherry tree, off customers' hoods and jackets. A totally saturated Australian Blue Heeler casts a last despairing look inside as its owner leads it back out into the deluge.

What did I do today? Bought books, sold books, vainly tried to corral the piles of new stock that have grown like kudzu on the floor. Paid the natural gas bill. Started writing the lecture-cum-performance-cum-first chapter of the theoretical book on photography that I've been promising for many moons. Sang (By myself, first thing in the morning, lights on, door locked). Collected my VPL holds. Carried boxes of rejects to someone's car. Chatted, informally, with one of my favorite living artists. Read and re-read a paragraph of Lefebvre, which I still don't fully understand. Studied the list of new TSE lows printed in the Saturday Globe and Mail. Felt, momentarily, a sense of loosening, of lifting. Of "dailyness." Of something like life.

(Special thanks to poet and critic Nancy Shaw, for arriving with boxes of books to sell, including -- sweet Jesus! -- The Collected Books of Jack Spicer, and Rock My Religion: Dan Graham, Writings and Art Projects 1965-1990, which I purchased as if from another dealer, titles I had long ago given up any hope of ever seeing anywhere in my travels, let alone arriving across the counter)
Friday, March 09, 2007
Sunset aboard the MV Queen of Oak Bay. Through the forward lounge's big windows, the dim black bulk of Bowen Island's Cape Roger Curtis emerges from the gloom. Far ahead, the winking lights of Passage Island, West Vancouver, and, nine miles distant, the bridge and city, rising as if suspended in dark blue air. Heavy turbulence. The huge vessel shakes and slides in the foaming, steep-sided swells, judders like a loaded 747 on approach to LAX. I'm reading Lefebvre and making notes for a public lecture on emulation and neo-avant-garde, and my pen keeps slipping sideways on the page, adding long gestural slashes to my y's and t's. The lights flicker. Lots of nervous chat in the forward lounge, the bang of the bow against the waves clearly audible from five floors up.

Via the same vendor. "Unbelievably handy, incredibly useful."

Doppelganger, 2007


A dark, ominous version of the Great Northern. Everything in black and white, including the checkboard floor. Cooper turns a corner and starts towards us, moving cautiously, glancing in all directions.

Looking ahead, he sees someone approaching him. He moves closer and realizes it's a version of himself, dressed identically, identical in every detail, but upon closer scrutiny realizes the figure's face is smooth and blank, his eyes gleaming, lifeless and black as ebony, no white cornea visible."
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
To Burnaby, to make a picture called Doppelganger. Prompted by something I saw in the dark on my way to the Mountain View Pub for the Search and Rescue fundraiser a few weeks ago. Bright spring sun, surprising warmth in it, blossoms out. Recent reading: Robert Macfarlane's Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination, the last few pages on the Skytrain, spring sunlight through the high, canted windows, illuminating the profiles across the aisle.
Anodyne Inc.

Special distribution from the North West Company Fund (NWF.UN), dated 23 February 2007, but only recorded today:

600 units x .10/unit = $60.00

Cash balance, $559.84

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Henry Wessel, Santa Barbara, 1977

Wessel's current retrospective at SF MOMA reviewed today by the Times. I admire Wessel for his acute sensitivity to the endlessness of Western light, and for his amazement before nature, which I take in his case to mean even things which were imposed upon it (signs; electrical wires; telephone booths), then visibly changed by that contact. I like the unspecifiable arrangement of birds above, but I love how the observer's pose suggests his mental abstraction from himself in the face of the event. Not "joy before the object" -- Wessel's too American for that, too reserved -- but something close.
Ten degrees celcius, March light edging the trees, birdsong floating down. An unhappy car whooping and booping its way down the hill behind a wrecker. Ten minutes later, a solid and disturbing crunch, the inevitable result of reversing up a one way street. Great dollops of profanity. Fire truck, ambulance, the shush of the rescue crew's push broom shifting remnant metal and broken glass.
Monday, March 05, 2007

Words and music by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

When you get out of the hospital
Will you let me back into your life
I can't stand what you do
I'm in love with your eyes

And when you get out of the dating bar
I'll still be here to get back into your life
Well I can't stand what you do
But I'm in love with your eyes

Dear, I can't stand what you do
Sometimes I can't stand you
It makes me think about me
That I'm involved with you

...but I'm in love with this power that shows through in your eyes

I go to bakeries all day long
There's a lack of sweetness in my life
And there's pain inside
You can see it in my eyes

Dear, there's been pain inside
You can see it in my eyes
It makes me think about me
That I've lost my pride

...but I'm in love with this power that resides in your eyes

Now you live in modern apartments
Now I even got scared once or twice
Last time I walked down your street
There were tears in my eyes

And these streets we all know
They help us cry when we're alone late at night
Don't you love them too?
Is that where you got such eyes?

Dear, I can't stand what you do
Sometimes I can't stand you
It makes me think about me
How I'm involved with you

...but I'm in love with this power that shows through in your eyes

Now your world is beautiful
I'll take the subway to your suburb sometimes
I'll seek out the things that must've been magic to your little girl mind

Now as a little girl you must've been magic
I still get jealous of your old boyfriends sometimes
And when I walk down your street
There'll probably be tears in my eyes

I can't stand what you do
Sometimes I can't stand you
It makes me think about me
That I'm involved with you

...but I'm in love with this power that shows through in your eyes

So, dear, when you get out of the hospital
Will you let me back into your life
I can't stand what you do
But I'm still in love with your eyes

(Updated to reflect Roadrunner's splendid live delivery)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

"From this angle we are looking across to a deadfall--a tangle of weather-whitened old dead branches at the back of the graveyard. It's maybe twenty-five feet from side to side and about nine feet high. At either end are thick tangles of underbrush that look impassible.

AS MAIN TITLES CONCLUDE, THE CAMERA MOVES SLOWLY IN on the deadfall. And as it does, we realize that there is a horrible snarling face in those branches. Is this an accident? Coincidence? Our imagination? Perhaps the audience will wonder."

(From Stephen King's screenplay adaptation of his disturbing and well-written novel, Pet Sematary. Another important source for ghosts.)

Grey spring light on Main Street, door open, breeze curling through. Neil Young on the deck ("Captain Kennedy"), my trademark grey cable turtleneck traded in for the more causal (& perennially unfashionable) blue and orange plaid. Big green buds on the little cherry tree outside. A jet droning overhead in the clouds, engines in reverse, flaps down, the eee-urk! eee-urk! of hydraulics echoing down below. In dailyness. In "mental routines." In the wash basin's green soap, in the razor blade drawn smoothly over the nape of my neck, in the curly black thickets marching north up my shoulder blades. Change for the meter, for laundry. Russell Banks on Kundera as the proponent of a resolutely European "antimodern modernism," a kind of ironic realism (Banks names Broch, Kafka, and Musil as other practicioners of the form; I'd add J.M. Coetzee, Thomas Bernhard, and the Melville who wrote The Confidence-Man, emphasizing Banks' term's utility as an index of a kind of mental, and not purely geographical, origin).

Hey, break it up!

Singapore Fried Rice Vermicelli, please...

Object in a Driveway, 2007

"A pictogram (also spelled "pictogramme") or pictograph is a symbol representing a concept, object, activity, place or event by illustration."
Saturday, March 03, 2007

Surefire hangover cure: Singapore Fried Rice Vermicelli, with shrimp, garlic, BBQ pork, bean sprouts, curry powder and red bell peppers, plus copious glasses of hot brown tea.

Q: What caused the hangover in the first place?

A: "A delicious mix of vodka, triple sec, Rose's® lime juice and cranberry juice."

Q: Carrie Bradshaw's favorite?

A: The same.

Q: Don't you ever learn?

A: Apparently not.
Friday, March 02, 2007

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Scrabble For Alpinists, courtesy dru.

Study After Jeff Wall, Men Waiting (2006), 2007

First "cinematographic" photograph. A collaboration with a loosely directed performer. One of my regular haunts visible above that corrugated roll-up door. After the light faded I walked over and scored a backpack of books for the store, including a seriously mispriced hardcover from a long-OP UK psychoanalysis series. Degas' Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (1878-81) somewhere in the back of my mind, too, and promptly registered by S., who saw it with me in the Norton Simon Museum four or five years ago.
Thursday, March 01, 2007

The artist knew their faces well
The husbands of his lady friends
His creditors and councillors
In armour bright, the merchant men
Official moments of the guild
In poses keen from bygone days
The city fathers frozen there
Upon the canvas dark with age....

Anodyne, Inc.

Cash distribution yesterday:

Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN) 12,346 units x .01/unit = $123.46

Cash balance, $499.84

And for those readers who care, Warren Buffett's new annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders is now online.

Someone wrote yesterday soliciting my opinion of the S&P's recent drop. I didn't reply at the time, but today, just for interest's sake, I sampled the current P/E ratios of a few major US companies that I have some kind of casual intellectual interest in. This is by no means a list of recommendations or stock picks; I don't own any of these companies and don't plan to any time soon:

Starbucks (SBUX) 41.63
Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFMI) 33.30
Campbell Soup (CPB) 21.86
The Proctor & Gamble Co. (PG) 24.12
Google, Inc. (GOOG) 45.09
The Coca-Cola Co. (KO) 21.54

& etc.

The P/E ratio represents the price you have to pay to get your hands on $1 of the business' current earnings. And even at these "recently corrected" prices, I'll pass. I wouldn't be at all surprised if North American markets tank this year. That said, I am perfectly content with Anodyne Inc.'s holdings, and am planning no major portfolio changes in the forseeable future.


An inrush of arctic air. Crystalline sky, an almost-full moon riding whitely above the mall. Huge purple lenticular clouds, lit from below by the descending sun, like James Blish's huge city-machines, ready to torch up the gravity well and quit the scene:

"What'd you see down there?"

"Not much to see, nope...."

Cars with their headlights on. A honking chorus as a trolley bus executes a slow clattering turn against traffic.

Too cold for photography; I stood on 16th Avenue near twilight, shivering, bare hands red with chill. The iron tang of snow in the air. Words stripped away by the cold. Owen came for lunch; we sat in the bakery just around the corner, observing the sandy March sunlight out on the sidewalk. Recently returned from NYC, Owen described working, for a week, in the same high-walled, light-drenched room as Matisse's The Piano Lesson (1916, above). I don't have the skill to adequately describe this painting: what can you say, really, faced by that green slice at upper left, or the similarly-shaped wedge that scars the young boy's face? Passages of "abstraction" that refuse any definitive phenomenal identification; the compression of a host of feelings into shapes that refuse to be sorted back out into their component parts: into light, into exterior foliage, into floor, into skin. I find myself at a loss for words. Oh, yeah, uh-huh, I dunno...."I was out with the Nikon yesterday." As if this statement could somehow encompass a wider spectrum of emotions, or all the things I saw. A tray of apples red with sunlight through a window. Cloud-shadow on car hoods. A tall African woman in a long quilted jacket, her hands hooked through two heavy white plastic shopping bags. And the soft grey fuzz on the magnolia buds by the hospital.

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