Thursday, May 31, 2007
Anodyne Inc.

Distribution today:

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

Cash balance, $669.58

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Recent reading:

Richard Preston, The Wild Trees
Don DeLillo, Falling Man
John McPhee, Assembling California
Fusilli with Sardines -- cjb "loose adaptation" of a Jamie Oliver recipe, well worth trying

Saucepan over low heat. Olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Roughly chop two small onions, 1 fennel bulb. Into pan, along with three small hot red Thai peppers, also roughly chopped. Lid. Stir occasionally. Twenty minutes.

Lid off. 1 cup Sandhill chardonnay, or other similar white wine. 1 cup water. Big handful pine nuts. Half handful raisins. 1 tin water-packed sardines. Heat up. Salt, pepper. Mash repeatedly with wooden spoon. Ten minutes, or until liquid is reduced in volume by approximately 50%.

Boil salty water. Pasta in, several big handfuls. Seven minutes exactly. At the same time: 1 more tin sardines, laid on top of sauce, skin side up. Lid on. Also seven minutes.

Drain pasta, dump into saucepan, stir. Big chunks of sardine will be distributed throughout pasta and unappetizing greyish-looking (but delicious) sauce. Chop fennel tops, stir into pasta/sauce mixture. Olive oil on top, plus fresh lemon juice, plus shavings of lemon zest. Makes four roughly equal portions. Serve with crusty Italian bread and remaining chardonnay.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Untitled (Fields), 2007. My latest contribution to Four.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
In across the desk, and promptly taken home: Wendy Walker's The Secret Service

"It begins:

I am a mousseline goblet, upside-down, set aside to dry, the banquet done. Some daggle-tail scrub-girl has cleansed me. I am also the lacy midinette, binding the bouquet for the courtly gentleman come to purchase camellias before the party, at my aunt's flower shop; I count the change, he glances at my petticoat, ready to turn me upside-down and ring me like a bell

Both complex assertions are literally, manneristically, true. Polly, narrator of the moment, is shopgirl by day and mousseline goblet by night. She is a member of the Secret Service, and the 'Service' is both a government agency and a table setting. Literalizing still further, the closely observed-and-observing gentleman will in fact soon ring Polly-the-goblet like a bell.

An explanation can quickly be cobbled together from jacket-copy or contents. In an imaginary England half-Regency, half-Edwardian, a means of transforming oneself into any non-conscious object has been discovered. This would be an incalculably harmful weapon if it fell into the wrong hands, but, by definition, the English have the right hands.

The plot which necessitates the weapon's deployment is too obvious to even make for good slapstick: a shell game of infant girls which will supposedly create a scandal capable of destroying the British royal family. Only the Service stands between the kingdom and certain doom..."

Friday, May 25, 2007
From Richard Preston's endlessly fascinating The Wild Trees:

"He was a man who could find beauty in the small, hidden places that still existed on earth, the lost places that nobody had ever noticed. Michael was the stubbornest person she had ever known. He bore a resemblance to the explorers who had lived in earlier ages, and had been convinced that there was something wonderful still to be found on the earth."

"Cat tree," Second Peak, Stawamus Chief Mountain

Looking southwest down Howe Sound across Second Peak's slabs. Compare with 6/16/6's view from the same location.

Looking down the North Gully to Valleycliffe and Mount Garibaldi in the distance. A thousand feet of air below.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Potential Names For Evan's New Band -- quickly-fabricated "content" to tide everyone over while Team Cat and Keefer are off climbing tomorrow:

• River Road

• The Mission Ferry

• Sex Law Under Fire

• Atlantic Goth Anniversary

• Degrassi Null [<--- !]

Exhibition featuring new drawings by my friend Mohamed Somani opening tonight at the Roundhouse in Yaletown

Anodyne Inc.

3-for-1 split of perennial Anodyne Inc. favorite Parkland Income Fund effective this morning:

1170 units (pre-split) x 3 = 3510 units

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Received Wisdom Dept.

HIPSTER NOT BOTHERING TO THINK THINGS THROUGH [to girl, viz. Afghanistan]: I hope every Canadian soldier over there takes a bullet in the fuckin' head!

St. Christopher. Courtesy Jen. I can live with the dog's head, but the bald-on-top, mullet-down-the-back look has gotta go.

Biomorphic abstraction is alive and well and living underwater, reports today's NYT:

"On page after page, it is as if aliens had descended from another world to amaze and delight. A small octopus looks like a child’s squeeze toy. A seadevil looks like something out of a bad dream. A Ping-Pong tree sponge rivals artwork that might be seen in an upscale gallery.

Interspersed among 220 color photographs are essays by some of the world’s top experts on deep-sea life that reflect on what lies beneath. For example, Laurence Madin of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution notes the violence that air and gravity do to creatures without internal or external skeletons when they are pulled up to the deck of a ship, obliterating their varieties of form and function.

'This unattractive jello-like mass,' he writes, 'is the unfair land version of amazing and delicate creatures that can display their true beauty only in their natural watery environment.' The photographs in the book right that wrong, and not just for jellyfish."
Monday, May 21, 2007

Show Biz Kids

"So here we are at the Brill Building, it's the late 1960s, and these two sullen, nondescript youths, fresh out of college, are hustling their songs around the various music publishers in the building. One has wire-rimmed spectacles, shoulder-length blond hair, and looks a bit like River Phoenix. The other is thin to the point of emaciation.

They troop into an office. The thin one sits at the office piano and opens an exercise-book of songs. Together, they sing one for the man behind the desk. It's about androids discovering they're alive, a bit like in that Philip K. Dick book. They sing another. It's about Charlie Parker, and is full of odd, show-offy changes. A third, a put-down of some place called Barry Town, makes good use of the spiteful undertone in the thin one's voice, but is too nasty. A fourth appears to be about a dildo -- it even mentions that Japanese one from the William Burroughs book. The man behind the desk sits there, nonplussed. What are these two kids thinking of? No-one wants to hear songs like this. Do they?

They troop out of the office, up the stairs and into another office."
The Union Street Design Kids -- passing by out on the sidewalk with their scarves and weirdly fitted jeans. Light grey overcast, leaves stirring in the wind.

Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, The Priest Sogi Responds to the Two Ghosts, from the sequence, New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts (1889-92)

Stan Douglas' Pursuit, Fear, Catastrophe: Ruskin, B.C. (1992), a portfolio of ten photographs installed for a long time on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery, where I used to visit it religiously every Thursday night. Pictures #8 and #9, in particular, are directly responsible for making me think about picking up a camera, however far removed they might seem from my pictures of street debris and my manky old car. There is a pretty great Robert Linsley painting, also of Ruskin, a small community on the north side of the Fraser River about an hour's drive east of Vancouver, permanently installed above the bookstore's till.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind The Curtain -- yet another depressing installment, as Mr. Accountability once again ducks, weaves, and fails to take anything resembling responsibility for his subordinates' tightly scripted behavior. Worst US president ever, as Jimmy Carter charged a day or two ago? You bet. Richard Nixon looks like Cicero compared to W.

MSNBC REPORTER KELLY O'DONNELL: There's been some very dramatic testimony before the Senate this week from one of your former top Justice Department officials, who describes a scene that some senators called "stunning," about a time when the wireless -- when the warrantless wiretap program was being reviewed. Sir, did you send your then Chief of Staff [Andrew Card] and White House Counsel [Alberto Gonzales] to the bedside of John Ashcroft while he was ill to get him to approve that program? And do you believe that kind of conduct from White House officials is appropriate?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Kelly, there's a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn't happen; I'm not going to talk about it. It's a very sensitive program. I will tell you that, one, the program is necessary to protect the American people, and it's still necessary because there's still an enemy that wants to do us harm.

And therefore, I have an obligation to put in place programs that honor the civil liberties of the American people; a program that was, in this case, constantly reviewed and briefed to the United States Congress. And the program, as I say, is an essential part of protecting this country.

And so there will be all kinds of talk about it. As I say, I'm not going to move the issue forward by talking about something as highly sensitive -- highly classified subject.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
One More Reason Why Lame Duck US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Should Resign ASAP

"Mr. Comey said that on the evening of March 10, 2004, Mr. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., then Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, tried to bypass him by secretly visiting Mr. Ashcroft. Mr. Ashcroft was extremely ill and disoriented, Mr. Comey said, and his wife had forbidden any visitors.

Mr. Comey said that when a top aide to Mr. Ashcroft alerted him about the pending visit, he ordered his driver to rush him to George Washington University Hospital with emergency lights flashing and a siren blaring, to intercept the pair. They were seeking his signature because authority for the program was to expire the next day.

Mr. Comey said he phoned Mr. Mueller, who agreed to meet him at the hospital. Once there, Mr. Comey said he 'literally ran up the stairs.' At his request, Mr. Mueller ordered the F.B.I. agents on Mr. Ashcroft’s security detail not to evict Mr. Comey from the room if Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card objected to his presence.

Mr. Comey said he arrived first in the darkened room, in time to brief Mr. Ashcroft, who he said seemed barely conscious. Before Mr. Ashcroft became ill, Mr. Comey said the two men had talked and agreed that the program should not be renewed.

When the White House officials appeared minutes later, Mr. Gonzales began to explain to Mr. Ashcroft why they were there. Mr. Comey said Mr. Ashcroft rose weakly from his hospital bed, but in strong and unequivocal terms, refused to approve the eavesdropping program.

'I was angry,' Mr. Comey told the committee. 'I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me.'"

Blinking lights and a creaking Gilliamesque system of bellows and blowers labor mightily at Anodyne HQ, transferring a May 17 concert with a completely different setlist -- Godwhacker! Gaslighting Abbie! -- through the Internets' pipes. BitTorrent is a terrific digital crockpot: push a few buttons, sit back, and wait 8-12 hours while a live set seamlessly coheres on the storage drive.

"Sparky," LLB. writes,

"[Thanks] for your unravelling of Divisadero. I was so turned off by the first few chapters, I had to go back and haunt myself with passages from Billy the Kid and Cinnamon Peeler's Wife. I also intend to re-read Coming through Slaughter as I thought it was a masterpiece - I also cannot reconcile the man who [wrote] this...

The nuns were moving towards a thirty-yard point on the bridge when the wind began to scatter them. They were thrown against the cement mixers and steam shovels, careering from side to side, in danger of going over the edge.

Some of the men grabbed and enclosed them, pulling leather straps over their shoulders, but two were still loose. Harris and Pomphrey at the far end looked on helplessly as one nun was lifted up and flung against the compressors. She stood up shakily and then the wind jerked her sideways, scraping her along the concrete and right off the edge of the bridge. She disappeared into the night by the third abutment, into the long depth of air which held nothing, only sometimes a rivet or a dropped hammer during the day.

Then there was no longer any fear on the bridge. The worst, the incredible had happened. A nun had fallen off the Prince Edward Viaduct before it was even finished. The men covered in wood shavings or granite dust held the women against them. And Commissioner Harris at the far end stared along the mad pathway. This was his first child and it had already become a murderer.

...with the man writing either Anil's Ghost or Divisadero.

In throwing Divisadero across the room, I almost hit the cat."

Then You Love a Little Wild One and She Brings You Only Sorrow

Left open overnight, the internets' tubes slowly spill a May 11th concert onto my hard drive. Rain before dawn, birds racketing in the green trees outside the window, Don DeLillo's excellent Falling Man on the floor beside the futon. An excellent epigraph for the ghosts there, about midway through the text: "[S]omething that belonged to another landscape, something inserted, a conjuring that resembled for the briefest second some half-seen image only half-believed in the seeing, when the witness wonders what has happened to the meaning of things, to tree, street, stone, wind. . . ." And, too, a little earlier, a paragraph that perfectly encapsulates all the difficulty I've had with Ondaatje's Divisadero:

"'People read poems. People I know, they read poetry to ease the shock and pain, give them a kind of space, something beautiful in language,' she said, 'to bring comfort or composture. I don't read poems. I read newspapers. I put my head in the pages and get angry and crazy.'"

Tolagson writes in agreement: "[Your] Ondaatje disses are spot on. I have a theory that that mannered style of writing -- where everything is about scent and touch and earthy tactility ('memories drenched in the scent of cedar boughs') -- originated in that damn WCW poem about the plums. You know the one I mean. That poem should be removed from the curriculum. A hiatus on that poem."

I met Ondaatje, once. I was bartending at a Robin Blaser tribute at UBC's Freddy Wood Theatre. Send the fox to guard the henhouse, har har. Ondaatje sidled up to the bar and I pounced, full of rabid fan enthusiasm for Rat Jelly and Coming Through Slaughter and the rest. He was friendly, gracious to a fault, full of the shy lanconic humor so sorely lacking in Divisadero. Did Linda Spalding write half the book? It sure seems like it. The coked-up paranoid gamblers disappear about two-thirds of the way through, leaving the cliche-o-matic chattering away: "[T]hey knew each other's truthful desires. And what they discovered was not only conjugal love, but the quick danger of life around them. They were caught in the attempt at survival among strangers, these two who were strangers to each other. And they saw that anything, everything, could be taken away, there was nothing that could be held on to except each other. . . ."

This is tripe, so full of unnecessary modifiers ("truthful" desires) and mawkish sentimentality ("anything, everything could be taken away...") that my first instinct was to assume that Divisadero was a parody of middlebrow lit, a winking piss-take on Fugitive Pieces and Snow Falling on Cedars, and maybe The English Patient too. Apparently not, and this knowledge makes me sad, for the loss of the sharp intelligence of the Ondaatje who talked to me at the Freddy Wood bar over gin and tonic, and for the lack of the cutting wit that shines through Secular Love, Elimination Dance and The Conversations like the bright edge of broken glass.

Comparing Divisadero with Falling Man is instructive. DeLillo trafficks in cliches, too, but every one of them appears as if set off in quotes, or at the very least acknowledged as a cliche: "In the movie version, someone would be in the building, an emotionally damaged woman or a homeless old man, and there would be dialogue and close-ups."
Friday, May 18, 2007

ACTs (Aesthetically Claimed Things): Crassostrea gigas, horseradish, and delicious Propeller Bitter
Why ABC Funds Bought Playmates

Sounds NSFW, but actually an investing entry, right out of the Graham-and-Dodd playbook. Lots of similarly well-reasoned detective work on Irwin Michael's consistantly useful and amusing site.

"To reduce the volatility of its toy business, in 2001 the Company decided to gradually deploy its excess cash into Hong Kong real estate. The first purchase was its headquarters, The Toy House, located in Kowloon, Hong Kong for roughly HK$520 million. This transaction was followed by the purchase of its factory in 2002 and apartment buildings in 2005 and 2006. The timing of these purchases was fortuitous. The Toy House, purchased during a time of depressed rental rates, is now a retail landmark. Lease rates across both apartment and retail assets are being raised to take advantage of tight occupancy rates. Since 2002, the portfolio’s value has increased by HK$420 million. At the end of 2006, the Company’s real estate had an appraised value of HK$1.2 billion."
If Someone Wanted to Publish My Blog Entries for Money, I Wouldn't Say No

"My blog is more of a hobby than anything else, something to do for fun when I get home from my bookstore job. I've never dreamed of making a living from it. Though hypothetically speaking, if The New Yorker—a publication that I'm sure pays top dollar—wanted to publish my August 9, 2005 post 'Creative Thinking Spots' in its 'Shouts And Murmurs' section, I'd consider it. Didn't cross my mind when I wrote that post, and that's certainly not why I wrote it, nor why I have a Google news alert set up for New Yorker editor David Remnick, but I can understand how someone on their staff might think the piece is a good fit for that section."

[Drawn to my attention by the staff and repeatedly forwarded by so-called "friends," even more often than Turtle Vs. Cat]

An anonymous bookseller spins a tale about the employee he inherited and later fired. Much funnier if you know the Lower Mainland; the links below should fill in the neccessary geographical context for outsiders.

BOOKSELLER: Please take the van to Victoria on the ferry and pick up a load of books.


[Tempus fugit]

PHONE: Ring!


FIRED GUY: I'm gonna be awhile.

BOOKSELLER: Where are you? On the island?

FIRED GUY: I haven't left the mainland yet.

BOOKSELLER: What? You left at 6 for the 9 o'clock ferry. Where are you? What's going on?

FIRED GUY: The Victoria ferry hasn't come in yet.


The same boat keeps arriving.

BOOKSELLER [slowly]: Where is that ferry going?

FIRED GUY: To Fort Langley. Why?

Via local writer and photographer Lee Bacchus:

"Enjoyed the reading by both Stuart and Clint. Here's one of many shots I'm sure you'll receive. Excuse the quality; it's from that great camera manufacturer, Nokia."
To an undisclosed Pacific Northwest location, to look at the largest collection of books I've ever seen. No further details right now, but in a week I hope to be able to post a picture here.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
In on my day off to straighten the front room in the aftermath of Clint Burnham and Stuart Ross' big reading, pack away the unsold beer, and vacuum the floor, a task begun yesterday morning and promptly aborted as the machine swallowed a yard and a half of unravelled carpet, overheated, and caught on fire. "This place smells," said yesterday's first customer, stalking out. Well no shit. Burning machine-woven plastic stinks. I stood out on the street with the still-smoldering vacuum turned upside down, hacking away at the blackened threads wrapped around the brushes. Snip, snip, went the shears, as if gently extracating someone from bondage gone awry. Just cut the ties, don't nick the $500 custom corset or the wedding dress. . . .As if on cue, the vacuum exhaled a stinky fog of dirt, pet fur, and blackened carpet into my face. A new low in an ongoing series of lows, the kind of experience that only an owner-operated small business provides. That said, the staff got fully-paid extended medical and dental coverage this month, so things are slowly looking up, despite the daily gong show of crises here at Main and Broadway.

"She slept against him with her young secrets and her senses doubled by substances that constantly waved their arms, so he could not look at what was behind them." A line from Ondaatje's Divisadero, emblematic of the contradictory styles at the heart of this maddening and deeply flawed book. On one hand: the nebulous bullshit of "her young secrets." I don't know what this phrase means, and doubt that Ondaatje does, either. The words just float along in the air, as pleasant and meaningless as Zamfir's flute. And they have lots of equally vacuous friends: "the truth of her life," "this man's life seemed innocent," "he had been able to witness her more clearly," & etc. On the other hand: the second half of the sentence, written as if by another man, the Ondaatje who wrote Billy The Kid, Elimination Dance, and the amazing introduction to Paterson Ewen's AGO retrospective catalog: heroin and coke personified as Gustonesque caricatures, the phrase's nervy energy capturing both the addict's hyped-up personality, and also a sense of black amusement at something that is definitely unfunny. A sensibility akin to that of Ken Lum's early text-and-image diptychs: realism tempered by detached black humor.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
At the local cafe:

SIGN ON COUNTER: Lobster Bisque. Oven Roasted Lobster, Star Anise, Flat Parsley....[many other ingredients]

GIRL IN FRONT OF ME IN LINE: Are the lobsters really oven-roasted?

LOST BARISTA: I think so.

GIFOMIL: 'cause I've never heard of oven-roasting lobsters. You boil them. Alive.

LB: Eeew!

GIFOMIL: The air in their shells fills up with steam, and they scream, y'know, they're all, Eeeeeee!

LB: Eeew!

[to CJB] Did you want the soup?

CJB: Not any more!
Recent reading:

Robert Dallek, Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power

Michael Ondaatje's Divisadero still in-process, with varying degrees of patience. Hilarious chapters about coked-up, Philip K. Dick-reading, conspiracy theory-endorsing Nevada cardsharps who could have stepped directly from Gaucho's lyrics lie sandwiched in between slabs of "writerly writing" aimed squarely at the CBC crowd. "Could you waste your life on a gift? If you did not use your gift, was it a betrayal?" Endless pages of rugged inarticulate men with "musical fingers" and "no darkness in them," the scent of lime trees, pigeons' rustling wings, sex in the rain. This execrable stuff is just misty-eyed fantasy, and hard to square with Ondaatje's more familiar encyclopedic catalogues, sly humor, long run-on associative chains:

"[A] many-headed civilization arrived. Gamblers, water entrepreneurs, professional shootists, prostitutes, diarists, coffee drinkers, whisky merchants, poets, heroic dogs, mail-order brides, women falling in love with boys who walked within the realm of luck, old men swallowing gold to conceal it on their return journeys to the coast, balloonists, mystics, Lola Montez, opera singers -- good ones, bad ones, those who fornicated their way across the territory. Dynamiters blasted steep grades and the land under your feet. There were seventeen miles of tunnels beneath the town of Iowa Hill. Sonora burned. Weaverville burned. Shasta and Columbia burned. Were rebuilt and burned again and rebuilt again."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Via "Snap" Tolagson

Quick Response to Fire Saves Tire Store Inventory

"DAYTONA BEACH - A blaze erupted in the rear of a Holly Hill hubcap and tire store, sending plumes of billowing smoke across busy Nova Road.

Firefighters from several agencies were called to the Hubcap House just north of 15th Street shortly after 7 p.m., said Ed Brown, Holly Hill fire spokesman. Employee Dennis Bragg could only shake his head and snap photos with his cell phone as flames spewed from the roof of the building.

'The owner hadn't taken a vacation in two years,' he said. 'Tonight, he goes to Orlando to see a Steely Dan concert and this happens.'"
Anodyne Inc.


Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN): .24/unit x 1170 units = $280.80
TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): .08333/unit x 1109 units = $92.41

Cash balance, $546.12
Monday, May 14, 2007

Tonight's unhappy task: fishing Acorna The Unicorn Girl (above) out of Erotica and refiling her in Science Fiction/Fantasy where she belongs.

Food for thought from the 2007 Berkshire Hathaway AGM:

Q [from 17-year-old shareholder]: What is the best way to become a better investor? Get an MBA, is it genetic, read more Poor Charlie's Almanac?

WARREN BUFFETT: Read everything you can. In my own case, by the time I was 10, I read every book in the Omaha public library that had to do with investing, and many I read twice. You just have to fill up your mind with competing thoughts and then sort them out as to what makes sense over time. And once you've done that, you ought to jump in the water. The difference between investing on paper and in real money is like the difference in just reading a romance novel and…doing something else. The earlier you start the better in terms of reading. I read a book at 19 that formed my framework ever since [Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor]. What I'm doing today at 76 is running things in the same thought pattern that I got from a book at 19. Read, and then on small scale do some of it yourself.

CHARLES MUNGER: Sandy Gottesman runs a large and successful investment operation. Notice his employment practices. When someone comes in to interview with Sandy, no matter his wage, Sandy asks, “What do you own and why do you own it?” And if you haven't been interested enough in the subject to know, you better go somewhere else.

WB: If you buy a farm, you'd say “I'm buying this because I expect it to produce 120 bushels per acre, etc…" from your calculations, not based on what you saw on television that day or what a neighbor said. It should be the same thing with stock. Take a yellow pad, and say, I'm going to buy GM for $18 billion, and here's why. And if you can't write a good essay on the subject, you have no business buying one share.

You are the light by which I travel into this and that
You are the light
You are the light by which I travel into this and that
You are the light light light light
You are the light....

Katie D. helpfully loads 60 minutes of Mr. Jens Lekman's sparkling orchestral pop onto the deck, lifting and lightening this long slow Monday afternoon.

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (58), 2007
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Top 20 Losers

A statistics collection published weekly in the Globe, listed in order of greatest share price percentage drop. There must be a pony in there somewhere, ne? Not this week. Nothing but twisted smoking wrecks as far as the eye can see: perpetually money-losing XS Cargo Income Fund, owner of a chain of bargain stores; Liquidation World, ditto; gold miners and biotech, which in my world means an automatic pass; Fairfax Financial Holdings, with its byzantine financial statements and penchant for legally harassing its critics; IAT Air Cargo Trust, owner of buildings leased to airline companies, freight forwarders, etc., which looks pretty attractive until you run across this interesting statistic: 52 cents earned per unit, 67 cents distributed per unit. What does Dickens say? "Annual income one pound, annual expenditure nineteen shillings and sixpence; result happiness. Annual income one pound, annual expenditure one pound and sixpence; result misery."

Of the twenty companies on the Losers list, there's only one that seems even remotely suitable for a rational investor: metal building product maker Vicwest Income Fund (metal roofing; "steel containment products," etc.), which appears to be marginally profitable, and to also be involved in a stable boring industry unattractive to the gold-and-biotech crowd. So, not a total washout, but close.

I learn a lot from plowing through the annual reports of business failures like XS Cargo Income Fund; the red flags come fast and furious, like cattle flushed into the open from under the trees. Another worthwhile exercise is to read the annual reports of two businesses in the same industry side-by-side, eg., XS Cargo and Liquidation World, with an eye to determining which is the better business, and why. A no-contest decision in favor of Liquidation World, with the proviso that both businesses seem to be suffering from poor economic conditions, which show no sign of improving soon. Why is this? I don't know, but it would, at least superficially, seem to contradict the received wisdom that liquidation retailers and dealers in secondhand goods' sales improve when the economy tanks. Food for thought.
Saturday, May 12, 2007

Moments in Love (Live 1986)

Do It Again

Much web discussion of the apparently disappointing 2007 Heavy Rollers tour setlist. So, here's Steely Danodyne's contribution to the burgeoning genre of "fantasy setlist," featuring a smattering of deep cuts and solo material:

[Re-edited Sunday morning in response to email from fellow Daniacs]

Band Only Jazz Intro: St. Thomas (Sonny Rollins)

The Boston Rag

The Caves of Altamira
Do It Again
The Nightfly (Donald Fagen)
Bad Sneakers
Green Earrings
Mary Shut the Garden Door
(Donald Fagen)
Jack of Speed
Don't Take Me Alive


The Steely Dan Show
(fun participatory audience sing-a-long)
Here at the Western World
Book of Liars
(Walter Becker)
The Old Regime
Glamour Profession
The Second Arrangement
What a Shame About Me
Tomorrow's Girls
(Donald Fagen)
Razor Boy
Reelin' in the Years



Encore #2

Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me)

Band Only Jazz Outro: Last Tango in Paris (Gato Barbieri)
When I Die, I'm Going to Haunt the Fuck Out of You People

"[D]on't even get me started on what's going to happen if family members take pictures of you when they visit. Those pictures are going to have some weird discolorations, you can bet on that, and some of them may even contain forms that look sort of like faces. Whose face? Yours truly: Byron, avenging spirit from beyond the grave."
Peter Halley interviews Sturtevant, Index magazine, October 2005:

HALLEY: Would you go back to the work you were making in the mid-60s and describe how you came to those decisions?

STURTEVANT: Well, that work was the result of some very long-term thinking. It was not something that just popped into my head, that's for sure. See, in the 60s, there was the big bang of pop art. But pop only dealt with the surface. I started asking questions about what lay beneath the surface. What is the understructure of art? What is the silent power of art?

HALLEY: How did you translate that concern into making, say, your Johns Flag?

STURTEVANT: If you use a source-work as a catalyst, you throw out representation. And once you do that, you can start talking about the understructure. It seemed too simple at first. But it's always the simple things that work.

And, later on:

STURTEVANT: [T]he reviews for that show were the same as always -- that I was reviewing history, or that the pieces were all copies, blah blah blah. I realized that if I continued to work and get that kind of critique, then the work would get diluted. So I decided to wait until the mental retards caught up. And indeed they did.

HALLEY: What were your concerns during those ten years?

STURTEVANT: Oh, I played a lot of tennis, Peter.

Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo, B.C. Depicted: garry oaks, common camas, dappled sunlight, the blue mainland in the distance. Not depicted: mule deer, rabbits (lots!) and a little stuffed cat, ready to pounce.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Pulpfiction Books presents

An Evening With Clint Burnham and Stuart Ross

Wednesday 16 May 2007, 8-9pm
2422 Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Admission free. Everyone is welcome to attend.

(Co-presented by Anvil Press)
Today's soundtrack: [old] New Order, "Bizarre Love Triangle," all stuttering keyboards and brief orchestral flourishes
Someone writes to ask if the plant photographs are art. Short answer: no, they're representations of things I've seen, which I'm trying to learn about by photographing and IDing back at home. I hope they are good likenesses of the plants in question, but they definitely lack art's conceptual, self-reflexive dimension, and are largely engendered by simple curiosity. A walk in the woods, or above treeline, or through a warm West Coast spring afternoon is a good reminder of the limits of one's knowledge. That brown bird on the powerline, the one going too-whit, too-wee? Not a clue. Those huge green leaves in the drainage ditch, the ones that look like a cross between rhubarb and a triffid? Dunno. Why are there four...wait, six...eight...twelve rabbits on that farmhouse lawn on Hammond Bay Road? Je ne sais pas. Are those really oysters just below tideline all along Departure Bay's western edge? And why are they scattered loose in among the rocks, instead of being attached to them? "I don't know, but I should try to find out" is a powerful phrase in the mouth of anyone willing to risk briefly looking like a dumbass. And in my experience, people typically ask fewer questions than they should. I see this all the time behind the desk at the bookstore, folks who expect that I'll just magically know what they're talking about.

CUSTOMER: Do you have anything by Oscar Eckenstein?

CJB: Never heard of him, sorry. What can you tell me about him?

CUSTOMER [theatrical sigh]: You don't know.

CJB: Nope! What can you tell me about him?

CUSTOMER: He climbed K2 with Crowley. . . .

CJB: Really! What else can you tell me about him?

Which, if applied consistantly, and in good faith, and with a certain wide-eyed Platonic sincerity, produces one of two responses:

CUSTOMER: He was a railway engineer for most of his life - well educated, and insufferably arrogant (some said). He was not one to mince words, and a long feud with the Alpine Club caused many of its members to denigrate him. Nevertheless, he was a brilliant technical innovator and laid the foundation, with his love of bouldering, of modern British crag climbing. He is credited with designing the modern crampon and developing a short ice axe, as well as analyzing both knots and nail patterns for climbing boots.

Or, rather more often:

CUSTOMER: I dunno. My friend just said I should check him out.

The psychologically interesting response is the long theatrical sigh from the mouth of the guy who, two or three sentences later, turns out to not be fully dialled-in, either. I think this has to do with socially distinguishing one's self, and probably with insecurity, too. I used to encounter this response all the time in the Vancouver art world, most memorably at a Dan Graham lecture at SFU Harbourside:

DAN GRAHAM: Any questions?

MUCH YOUNGER CJB: Yes. That slide of the stack of red plastic chairs that you showed...looked like a "found" Judd or Lewitt sculpture. In making that slidework, did you mean to establish a critical relationship between mass-produced commodity objects and American minimal sculpture?

I remember the words "mimimal sculpture" dropping off into a huge silent void. I had just fucked up, though it was not immediately apparent how. The audience's silence was a collective version of my customer's contemptous "You don't know." Dan Graham, on the other hand, took my ignorance completely seriously, and delivered an arresting and uninterrupted six minute monologue on minimalism, amateur photography, his friend Sol Lewitt, the John Daniels Gallery, & etc.

Charles T. Munger: "Rationality is not just something you do so that you can make more money, it is a binding principle. Rationality is a really good idea. You must avoid the nonsense that is conventional in one's own time. It requires developing systems of thought that improve your batting average over time. . . ."

Amen, oh yeah, says CJB, looking up vascular plants with multi-leaved purple flowers on E-Flora BC, and learning, among other things, that camas bulbs taste like pears when slowly roasted over a charcoal fire.

Two Figures, 2007

Camassia quamash, common camas, Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo, B.C.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Sunlight slanting in through the blinds, cats awake and blinking at the racketing birds and green leaves moving in the wind.

Day off today. So I thought, do something different: something that you don't have to do, but that you want to do. Something you've never done before.

So I'm going here. See ya!

[UPDATE: Within 2 minutes of posting the above, an out-of-town pal writes in part: "...the same old thing...[you're going to] walk, take pictures, and read on the ferry."

Heh. Busted. So, for the record, accompanying me on the ferry as ballast in my backpack:

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Robert Dallek, Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power
Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero
Dominion Citrus Income Fund 2006 Annual Report
Robert Bolaño, The Savage Detectives
Perennial hiking partner Rose T. Cat
and the Nikon

Someone else writes to ask what's become of all the mountaineering posts. The short answer is that I have badly trashed my right knee, and have been taking it slow for a few months of what coincidentally has been the coldest, wettest spring in years. Team Cat's regular schedule of relentless latte-fuelled elevation gain should resume mid-next week, once the "new old car" is in house, and my new mountaineering boots are broken in.]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Legacy Supplement, 2007

5:39 a.m. on Glen Drive. Steve helpfully intervenes with the VPD, who, true to form, arrive like clockwork at the sound of the Nikon powering up:

YOUNG OFFICER: Oh, "art"! No problem. We thought he was praying.

STEVEN TONG: You could say that, I suppose...

Source images here and here. Legacy is a sequence of five 11" x 14" pictures arranged in a column, like a Judd stack. LS is a slightly off-size "addendum" meant to be displayed alongside the column, or in place of the picture you like the least.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Yesterday's Lepiota rhacodes, plus butter, garlic and low heat, courtesy Chef Jeff at Aurora Bistro (above right).
Astonishing warm wind, kicking up leaves off the sidewalk, sending gum wrappers, cigarette butts & etc. bowling through. Warm slant sunlight falling on the plastic rats in the window, on my hands, mirrored in the laptop's screen as I type.

"Chain Lightning"'s sly rolling blues beat.

Thousand Dollar Car

Yesterday evening I bought a new car, a silver 1989 Taurus Wagon, to replace the ailing Legacy, which, at 352,000 km., has finally had enough of life and is preparing to settle down for a long, well-deserved nap. The upside of the purchase is no longer worrying that my principal source of transportation will spontaneously burst into flames in traffic. The downside is that the new car's arrival will mark the end of a photographic project that's occupied me since October 2005. So, it should be pretty easy to figure out where I'll be at 5:38am tomorrow morning, and at 5:37am on Thursday.

Mike Grill, Firewood, 2003
Monday, May 07, 2007
Occasional role model Hank Garfield gets it:

"People will put you down for being into what you're into. They want to stop you. They just want to talk about it, talk about it, talk about it. But when someone 'does it,' then it's bad news."

Professional 'shroom rustler Gene displays a very tasty Lepiota rhacodes, shamelessly pilfered off some citizen's lawn

Inland Empire's at the Vancity Theatre on Seymour until Wednesday, coincidentally one of my rare nights off. Warm grey mist this morning, smell of the sea and of off-Broadway gardens: compost, cut grass, cedar chips. Someone spreading manure. Rain beading on the tiny red leaves of the Japanese maple on the corner. Crows in the tree outside my window, short fluttering branch-to-branch hops. Charlie Munger's advice to systematically reduce risk, to think rationally about one's business, to take long-term debt off the table. All those plants and flowers? "Vaster than empires, and more slow."

"Joy before the object," 16th & Carolina
Sunday, May 06, 2007
IGY Unplugged

24 year old Swede delivers a sensitive, swinging version of this long time favorite
Through the open door:

"I didn't blow you off! I left you."
"He who lives for an encounter with the unseen becomes an instrument of the seen: he who would quarry the earth becomes the spokesman of its surfaces, the surveyor of its shades."

(Paul Auster, "Pages for Kafka")
Saturday, May 05, 2007

Rhododendron, 10th & Ontario

Run, don't walk. Fine early versions of "Brooklyn," "Do It Again," "Boston Rag" & etc., with "Skunk" Baxter on guitar and Michael McDonald on piano.

Tinkling keyboards, rumbling synth bass and wide drums in what could just as easily be an aircraft hanger or a cathedral. Meanwhile, down below, on street level, our man plows through his 2006 fiscal year end, sifting through stacks of mis-labelled receipts, runny invoices that survived the washer and the dryer, crucial capital additions expensed in previous years, source payroll deductions made from subsequently closed accounts. . . .

The office looks like a Cruikshank sketch of a lawyer's cubicle. Papers cover every conceivable surface, interspersed with books borrowed from friends and never returned, toothbrushes, shaving gear and assorted camping supplies, a can opener, anti-fungal powder, clean socks, artworks (mixed-media collages; c-prints; pencil drawings), emotionally tumultous letters from folks I no longer speak to, the same from folks that I still do, tent pegs, climbing guidebooks, topographic maps, loose CDs, bottle caps, rubber bands, mouse turds, an annotated list of income trusts worth less than 25% of their original value, carabiners, an empty Glenlivet bottle, Benjamin Buchloh's collected writings, a signed copy of The Climax Forest, loose Gasoline Alley dailies, a facsimile edition of Graham and Dodd's Security Analysis, photocopies of the Buffett Partnership letters, comic books, Barron's back issues, Nevada pebbles, oil pastels, eraser shavings and pushpins.

& etc., as they say.
Via Morningstar, live from Omaha, NE: Warren and Charlie on deck, answering 6+ hours of questions at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual General Meeting.

"A shareholder asked Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger how to become a better investor, and their advice was timeless. First, Mr. Buffett said to read everything that you can get your hands on to help fill your mind with competing ideas and viewpoints. He went on to say -- and this is important -- think about what makes sense over time. What I think he is getting at here is that investing is a process of continuous learning, and then having the discipline to think rationally when analyzing an investment. Mr. Buffett also suggested that, when contemplating a stock purchase, investors should consider if or why they would purchase the whole business, not just the stock, as this will give them a better understanding of the opportunities and the risks of a particular investment."

"What if lolcats had a TV channel? What kind of shows would be on it?

The answer is clear: they would show Star Trek."
Friday, May 04, 2007

Anodyne Inc.

Three-for-one unit split announced today by perennial Anodyne Inc. favorite Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN). Also a distribution increase, to 29 cents/month (pre-split). Most of the good news has already been factored into the units' market value; while I wouldn't neccessarily want to load up at today's quoted price, I'm more than happy to hold...and hold...and hold.

And if we break before the dawn
They'll use up what we used to be
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Deep ache: my bad teeth.
Haven't slept with anyone
yet. Hullo Rachel!

(Martin Amis, The Rachel Papers)
Wednesday, May 02, 2007

John Latta quotes Robert Bolaño usefully if fatalistically:

"For a while, Criticism travels side by side with the Work, then Criticism vanishes and it’s the Readers who keep pace. The journey may be long or short. Then the Readers die one by one and the Work continues on alone, although a new Criticism and new Readers gradually fall into step with it along its path. Then Criticism dies again and the Readers die again and the Work passes over a trail of bones on its journey toward solitude. To come near the work, to sail in her wake, is a sign of certain death, but new Criticism and new Readers approach her tirelessly and relentlessly and are devoured by time and speed. Finally the Work journeys irremediably alone in the Great Vastness. And one day the Work dies, as all things must die and come to an end: the Sun and the Earth and the Solar System and the Galaxy and the furthest reaches of man’s memory. Everything that begins as comedy ends as tragedy."
Every Full Moon for Two Years (via dru)

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (57), 2007

Now and Next Minute
Jennifer McMackon

5 May 2007 -- 3 June 2007

Curated by Christopher Brayshaw

Please join us for an exhibition reception on Sunday, 13 May 2007, 11am-2pm

CSA Space
#5 - 2414 Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V5T 3E2

Grace James, Wedge III, 2007

One of an occasional series of pictures made with a collaborator under a shared alias.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Via Akimbo:

"Sleepwalker is a contemporary art space which encounters the viewer at night. Sleepwalker presents newly commissioned artworks to the evening public of Toronto, through an experimental window space on Queen St. West. Since November 2006, Sleepwalker has connected late-night wanderers with emergent Canadian and international artists like Fedora Romita, Jen Hutton, Oscar Guermouche and Karl Larsson.

For the final Sleepwalker exhibition, the window space will host a guest curated group show entitled Private Viewing, calling into question the location and role of the window itself. After dark, storefronts are transformed into theatrically lit consumer narratives for people to push their noses up against, without risk of being seen. Mannequins, signage, multi-media display, and props both domestic and industrial, collide in a competition to gather our attention. The commercial strip along Queen St. West becomes a window shopper’s dream: a comfortable space from which to gaze. Strolling along the darkened streets, pedestrians have an excess of solitary space and time among shop windows, intensifying their fantasies.

Private Viewing is scheduled to run nightly from May 4th – May 25th, 2007. We are inviting artists to submit ideas for site-specific gestures, experimental projects, small works, process pieces and unusual initiatives in any media.

Sleepwalker is a space for creative exploration that operates with no funding. Sleepwalker events and programming are publicized, installed and documented by a staff entirely of volunteers: artists, educators, programmers, curators and designers with diverse experience with experimental projects. Artists are encouraged to consider that we cannot provide artist fees, shipping or materials when formulating their proposals.

Proposed works must fit in the window, which measures 18” wide by 9’ tall by 2’ deep. The window is outfitted with one light (anchored at the top in the centre) and one standard electrical outlet. We also welcome performance or sound pieces that may happen in front of or around the window space."

Proposal for
Sleepwalker, 2007

I am an independent Vancouver-based curator, critic and photographer who has never previously exhibited work in a gallery. I am currently making and presenting an interlinked series of digital photographs of recorded lived experience in the form of portraits of trees, street debris, and urban details at

I propose a two-night performance titled, Nomad, 2007. I will travel to Toronto at my own expense with a single backpack full of clothes, reading material, in-process critical writing, & etc. On the first night, I will arrive in front of the window at dusk with my backpack, dressed in ordinary street clothes, and will carry out my usual evening routine – reading; writing; eventually packing up, settling in for the night and falling asleep – on the street in front of the window. I will not directly engage with passerby, but I hope that the sight of me on the street (slightly disheveled, inwardly-turned) will cause bystanders to question my presence there.

My photographs are made with a small digital pocket camera, which I will provide to one of Sleepwalker’s organizers, or another individual of their choice. This individual will make a number of photographs of me over the course of the evening as surripticiously as possible. It is essential to the performance’s success that I not be overtly aware of the photographer’s presence, and that bystanders not be conscious of me “performing” for the camera. The digital camera will be returned to me by the photographer on the morning following the performance. I will select a single image from those taken by the photographer, and produce an approximately 11” x 14” black and white print from it. This photograph will be exhibited unframed and unattributed in the window on the second night of the performance.

Christopher Brayshaw
Vancouver, 2007

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