Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Children we have it right here
It's the light in my eyes
It's perfection and grace
It's the smile on my face. . . .

Monday, July 30, 2007

Off south for a while, cats, camera, and colleagues in tow. Back soon!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Waste My Time, Please

After a few peaceful weeks of nothing but polite articulate customers with cash, Sunday afternoon unleashes a torrent of goofballs:

LOST LITTLE KID: Where's your Harry Potter books?

CJB: Sorry, we're all sold out.

LLK: But where are they?

CJB: We don't have any, sorry.

LLK: I know that. But where are they?


GUY ON BIKE: Where's your Louis L'Amour?

CJB: Right here! [Shows shelf with 60+ titles]

GOB: How much are they?

CJB: Three, four, five bucks apiece. Depends on the title.

GOB [instant aggro]: I'm a-gonna show you this. [Proffers trashed L'Amour pocket book from his fanny pack, with a thrift store receipt for $1 sticking out of it]

CJB: What point are you making?

GOB: I'm just showin', is all.

CJB: I guess I could sell pocket books for a dollar, too, if I got them for free and didn't care about their condition.

GOB: You makin' fun of me?

CJB: Nope. Throwing you out.
Saturday, July 28, 2007

Courtesy dru. Punchline for non-BC residents here.
Awesome machine-translated interview from a Swiss newspaper (scroll, posted by "ark"):

"Q: And when does it give served a correct new Steely-album?

DONALD FAGEN: We already spoke about that. I work at my next solo disk. The collaboration with Walter is very special. We put together ourselves and tell ourselves jokes. Sometime a song develops from that.

Q: Walter Becker and you developed in the course of the years a collective personality, from whose viewpoint the Steely-served told become-songs.

DF: So it is. The Steely-served is-character a complicated personality: It is a man who has no woman at its side. Therefore it can express things, that one would not say in present of a woman. It expresses sometimes incredible things, that take place otherwise only in the subconscious."
Thursday, July 26, 2007

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Charts of Doom. Via the Heavy Rollers Tour Photo Diary
Some jackass not previously known to me writes (in part!) "...[N]ice choice of Report Date, Anodyne. Now the Market's crashing your Play Portfolio's probably dropped like a Rock...."

1. What's with the weird 18th-c. punctuation? Are you trying to emulate David Mamet? Dr. Johnson? Mason & Dixon?

2. Out of interest, I recalculated Anodyne Inc.'s performance using today as the "date of record":

TSE 300 index, 25 October 2006 - 26 July 2007: 12.18% gain

Anodyne Inc. 25 October 2006 - 26 July 2007: 24.69% gain

Relative result: 12.51% An improvement over the actual date-of-record performance, despite the Market Carnage.

3. Thanks for writing. Now please Fuck Off.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dancing With Demons

"My hand is outstretched to a true Diablo Rojo. My heart is pounding. Had this giant ever seen man before? What does he want to know? Why isn’t he attacking me repeatedly like others before him? For twelve incredible minutes we circle, reach out, withdraw, touch, and test each other. His color flashes are never the same twice and he shows no fear of me. By this time I am being surrounded by up to 100 very large Humboldt squid, but they all stay away. Scar seems interested in my camera housing so I show it to him. He comes up and spread his arms completely over it and bites the lens, making for a nice shot of his beak and radula (a spike covered tongue) in action. Scar is so huge his arms engulfs the entire camera housing and reaches beyond it to lays upon my hands, forearms, and head. Scar tenses his whole body instantly as he detects the difference between the housing and me. A second later he withdraws and stops cold. His eye stares at my forearm and camera housing as if he realizes the difference for the first time. He flashes a unique pattern I have come to know. He flushes deep red then blanched bright white and stays that way for several seconds. The blanched white pattern has preceded many a retreat after attacks on me. What does this revelation mean to Scar? Whatever the reason for his blanched white reaction, his behavior changed. He begins a more purposeful series of circling and touching. Touching my arms, CCR cover, legs, fins (which he bites) and finally, my face.

It occurs to me that this might well be the first encounter of its kind for both species. I can only describe it as a dance. A dance of peace, curiosity and discovery.

Scar and I have just completed a dance of such beauty that my words fall far short of explaining it. Two intelligent beings from entirely different worlds, separated by extremes of morphology, behavior, space and time."
Robert Horvitz's thorough analysis and documentation of some of Chris Burden's earliest sculptures and performances, including many pieces not contained in Locus+'s recent catalog:

"I think that to some extent Burden views his work as a means of pre-empting fate. The strategy is actually quite simple. By setting up situations that test the capacity of his will, there are only two possible outcomes: either he will emerge victorious, having affirmed his mastery over the situation, or, should it get the best of him (which it hasn't ever yet), he can still fall back on the knowledge that at least he created his predicament himself."
Square Job, 2007-2012 (est.)

Enrolled in a part-time post-graduate professional accreditation program offered by the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.

Five years of study, plus a one year apprenticeship.

Technically complex subject material. Economics, statistics, & etc.

Successful program completion by no means assured.

Upon graduation, a studio-style portrait of myself dressed in work clothes suitable to my new profession.


Offered at the inflation-adjusted total cost of my tuition, textbooks, and software.

[Compare with Dan Graham, Income (Outflow) Piece, 1969; Chris Burden, I Became a Secret Hippy, 1971; and Nikki S. Lee's whole career]
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Swingin' so hard
We burned right through the summer
Till the axis of pain/pleasure sheared the arc of desire. . . .

Anodyne Inc. Quarterly Report to Shareholders

TSE 300 index, 25 October 2006 - 24 July 2007: 13.99% gain

Anodyne Inc. 25 October 2006 - 24 July 2007: 27.28% gain

Relative result: 11.06%

Anodyne Inc. and the TSE 300 index have both been on a tear since my first attempt at public portfolio management toddled out into the world in late October 2006. For this first nine month period, Anodyne Inc.'s gain has significantly exceeded the TSE's.

The TSE figure is important because it shows what you could earn by passively investing your money in an index fund, thereby missing out on annual report reading, financial statement deciphering, and ceaselessly worrying when the CFO of one of your largest positions is dismissed just a week or two before the annual report's release. The index also serves as an objective benchmark of my investment decision-making. If Anodyne Inc. reports a 5% gain while the index gains 15%, Anodyne's gain sounds OK on its own, but actually represents poor relative performance. Similarly, if Anodyne loses 12% while the index loses 18%, the relative result indicates better-than-average performance, despite the objective loss.

I judge my performance as you should, over the mid- to long- term. I hope to consistantly beat the TSE 300 index over a rolling three year period, a benchmark that many professional Canadian fund managers find hard to meet. Over shorter time periods the portfolio may fluctuate in value, sometimes impressively. These fluctuations don't bother me, and they shouldn't bother you, either.

That said, I have certain advantages that most real fund managers don't. I'm running money for myself, as a purely didactic enterprise. Real managers have clients, and need to maintain a cash position to satisfy the needs of clients who, for whatever reason, need to cash out in a hurry. I am not constrained by investment "themes" or "styles" -- I don't have to buy "mid-cap growth," or "large cap value," or maintain a certain percentage of the portfolio in a number of different sectors of the economy in the name of "diversification." I don't have to buy the stock of companies I don't personally like or understand. And I don't have to trade like mad, with all the frictional costs that implies, in order to hit a quarterly performance target that benefits the marketing department more than the fund's investors.

Few readers seem to care about the portfolio, but those that do ask very focused questions. Each quarter, I briefly discuss some of the portfolio's holdings, and try to give some insight, however brief, into my decision making process. I've learned a lot from master investors like Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Martin J. Whitman, and Canada's own Irwin Michael, who have generously discussed their own decison-making in public, thereby enabling amateurs like me to learn from their example. Investing -- as opposed to day- or momentum trading -- is a craft, and, as with any craft, one learns best by watching, listening, and reading.

Today, I thought I might discuss some ideas that guide my security-selection process. Most of the portfolio's holdings carry lower P/E (price-to-earnings) ratios than that of the TSE 300 index.
The P/E ratio represents the price you have to pay to get your hands on $1 of the business' current earnings. Eg., if Company X sells at a P/E of 15, you're paying $15 for every dollar earned by Company X. And in my world (as opposed to the impenetrable and foolish worlds of momentum trading, "technical analysis," etc.) dollars earned by companies -- their operating results -- are the only way that you as an investor make any money, either because the company pays out earnings as dividends, or retains the money as "retained earnings," which will presumably either be paid out to you later on, or reinvested in the business to help it grow. (I am simplifying somewhat; change-of control and going-private transactions can also make you money, but the timing of these events is a lot harder to anticipate, and consequently riskier, than simply focusing your attention on basic business results).

[For detailed discussions of change-of-control, going-private, & etc., see Martin J. Whitman, The Aggressive Conservative Investor, and Joel Greenblatt's excellent, if goofily-titled, You Can Be A Stock Market Genius.]

A few other thoughts. I like companies that pay dividends. (Portfolio examples: Norbord (NBD), Loblaw (L), Amerigo (ARG), and the income trusts). Dividends are hard to fake; if the company is borrowing at the bank to pay the dividend, this information is easily divined from the financial statements. Steadily increasing dividends or cash distributions? (Hart Stores (HIS), Parkland (PKI.UN)) Even better.

I like companies whose basic business models are describable in plain English. I tend to get bored by or have very little patience with companies whose business models rely on industry-specific jargon. I'm sure that there are biotech companies and technology companies that are bonanzas for their shareholders, but with a few exceptions (ie., Microsoft (MSFT), in the Anodyne Inc. US$ portfolio) I lack the specialized skills required to evaluate them. I like industries I can relate to jobs I've previously held. I purchased Amerigo Resources (ARG) for the portfolio after realizing -- on the bus, on the way to work -- that Amerigo was, at heart, performing exactly the same job that my brother dru and I did as kids, hiking down to Thunderbird Marina every Sunday, sorting through the marina dumpsters, and retrieving cans, bottles, lead batteries, etc. from them. (Amerigo is recovering copper and molybdinum from a big pile of mine tailings in Chile, but the business model is identical in every respect).

I like companies that don't shower their executives with stock options. The old song and dance that goes, "We have to compensate our executives competitively, or they'll walk," is bullshit, if amusing bullshit. My favorite employee -- me! -- is motivated by a deep personal identification with his work that transcends financial renumeration. Sure, but you're an owner, says the counter-argument. Yes, and Pulpfiction's staff are workers, who were first paid minimum wage, then better-than minimum wage. Then came cash bonuses, and the health and dental plan. Would I -- and the staff -- have been better off if we were all showered with goodies on day one? Clearly not: better-than-average business productivity means better-than-average profits, which dictates better-than-average staff renumeration and benefits. But the business results dictate the compensation-and-benefits package; good things don't just materialize out of thin air.

More soon. I'm off to enjoy a celebratory g'n't next door.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Anodyne Inc.

World's stingiest dividend:

E-L Financial Corporation (ELF) .125/share x 7 shares = .88! (17 July)

Cash balance, $11.13
Sunday, July 22, 2007
"I want to land on that runway, right now."
Early review of Spook Country in today's Post:

"Despite a full complement of thieves, pushers and pirates, Spook Country is less a conventional thriller than a devastatingly precise reflection of the American zeitgeist, and it bears comparison to the best work of Don DeLillo. Although he is a very different sort of writer, Gibson, like DeLillo, writes fiction that is powerfully attuned to the currents of dread, dismay and baffled fury that permeate our culture. Spook Country -- which is a beautifully multi-leveled title -- takes an unflinching look at that culture. With a clear eye and a minimum of editorial comment, Gibson shows us a country that has drifted dangerously from its governing principles, evoking a kind of ironic nostalgia for a time when, as one character puts it, 'grown-ups still ran things.' In Spook Country, Gibson takes another large step forward and reaffirms his position as one of the most astute and entertaining commentators on our astonishing, chaotic present."
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Butler's Lost (1967-8) on high repeat on the deck, horns echoing in the rain....

KERMIT: Are we ready back there?

VOICE [off]: Who wants to know?

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Some cost-conscious individual writes to ask, "What's your cost to produce each Free print?"

About $150 for each lightjet print, plus GST & PST. Plus 8-10 hours of work in Photoshop, at $15/hour, divided among 10 prints. So, approximately $170-180.

An excerpt from that Simpleposie debate (below), just to whet the appetite:

"I think government does some things very well (health care, social services, etc.) and other things less well (environmental care and rehabilitation, urban planning, etc.) I'd put government involvement in visual art in the 'less well' camp. In general, I think government's involvement in visual art involves misallocating money in a fundamentally flawed way. It's hard to underscore the amount of revulsion I feel for this system, particularly the made-in-Canada-since-the-60s model. If you want me to start listing problems, I'd begin with the idea of 'artist-run culture' in the first place. According to its rules, I, as a much younger person interested in art, and curating art, could not find a place inside that system, because I was not an artist. My place, apparently, was to write reviews, or to buy art, but never to curate it or organize exhibitions or direct an exhibition program, because those jobs were performed by curators who were themselves artists. Back of the bus! Or, more accurately, a game of musical chairs, where everyone has to sit in a chair when the music stops. The people I always felt closest to -- Judd; Smithson; Dan Graham; Ian Wallace -- always did many things simultaneously; they were never content to sit in a single chair. So, the majority of my career has been spent building an alternative to the existing state of things, so I can perform the jobs which give me great pleasure and intellectual satisfaction, but which, in Canada at least, I was never 'qualified' to perform. So, your idea of objecting to [the Western Front]'s [whiskey] still, or Leonard [Cohen]'s Greek real estate, & etc., strikes me as kind of funny. I don't want to correct or fine-tune the existing system, I want to starve it, dynamite it, seed the smoking rubble with salt, and start over. I'll be a bit inflammatory and say that federally funded artist-run culture evokes the same feelings of moral revulsion in me as the current war in Iraq. I don't want to to adjust force levels, I want the troops home and the current Republican gang who got them there gone."

Free (98), 2007

Free (99), 2007

Free (100), 2007

Free (101), 2007

That's it for Free, with that Music in the Tuileries / Tattoos and Shadows chair and the frowning ghost formed by those two on-their-side tires and that munched tailpipe a nice note to go out on. Thanks to everyone who wrote with directions to free goods all over the Lower Mainland. I am going to spend August making the work's next incarnation: two largeish (24" x 30") "working" collages (lightjet prints on watercolor board, with additions of wax, gesso, acrylic, charcoal, coffee stains, etc.) "Unique, edition of two." Next up, a "cleaned-up" lightjet print made in Photoshop, edition 10 5, 2 AP, also approx. 24" x 30". The collages are already spoken for. The prints are $350 CDN unframed, first come, first served.

Q: Isn't it kind of presumptuous to flog your own work?

A: No, it's an important part of the work's transformation of "valueless" content into economic surplus. If the prints are given away, the project doesn't work. Free content plus unpaid labor equals negative surplus.

Q: Is this some sort of Marxist scam?

A: I'm reading Capital right now. But no, I'm not a Marxist. My personal politics, which I hope are separate from, or complicated by, my aesthetics, can be loosely characterized as small-L libertarian. (For an instance of my politics and aesthetics in action, see this debate with Simpleposie's Jennifer McMackon, on the role of government subsidies for the arts).

Q: Will you consider trades for prints?

A: That's interesting. An aesthetic IPO! So, even though I've fixed the work's offering price, trades would mean that I might receive additional surplus, or less, based on other artists' subjective assessments of my work.

Q: Are you ever going to quit making stuff?

A: Probably not.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
New Martin J. Whitman letter to Third Avenue Funds shareholders on line. Worth your close attention.

"[T]he vast majority of great individual fortunes built in this country [sic], especially by Wall Streeters and corporate executives, were not built by people who took investment risks. Rather, the secret to building a great fortune is to avoid, as completely as possible, the taking of any investment risk."
A conversation at the counter:

SIGN ABOVE THE TILL: Portugese Deli Sandwich (Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef), $3.99



IFC: You've overcharged me. This is $3.99.

LTG: [flustered giggle]

IFC: There's a sign. Look, right there--

LTG: --says "Bagel"--

IFC: No, below that. [reads] "Portugese Deli Sandwich (Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef), $3.99."

LTG: But computer says--

IFC: I don't care what the computer says. Your sign-- [to CJB] What do you think?

CJB: Your sandwich should be free, and her boss should be fired.
MORTGAGE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY. 12% INTEREST P.A., PAID MONTHLY, SECURED BY FOUR PRIME DOWNTOWN PROPERTIES. (Sign across the street, visible high up through the rain, umbrellas on the sidewalk, bus roofs running with water). Apparently everything is PRIME to a commercial leasing agent. That crack den on the corner, with the boarded-up windows, fire scars, and nagging piss-smell? PRIME! The "lower level" of the building on Sixth Street, which John and I investigated yesterday, only to discover that it was more accurately described as the "basement," windowless, invisible from the street, and reached by a narrow cattle-chute of stairs, also smelling of piss? PRIME! Those scrubby pines and muskeg by the side of the Duke Point Highway? LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! PRIME! The sad mall in Surrey, with the 1200-square-foot storefront tucked away behind the Cash Store, the Vietnamese grocery, and the shop selling Hindi karaoke discs? PRIME! Howard Ursuliak city, baby.
Raining and humid, like Toronto in September. Filmed-up windows of the bus, the Internet cafe. 80s electronica on the stereo, that track you've heard before but can't quite recall the name of, perfectly spaced computer drumming, electronic glitches and bleeps, the accidental static "texture" of the not-quite-perfectly-tuned FM channel. Incognito in my beige canvas Eddie Bauer ballcap, the perfect piece of fashion camoflage, so middlebrow as to be totally inobtrusive, like fabric that bends light. Outside, a Chinese couple dodge through the stalled traffic carrying red clay pots full of tall white orchids.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

They shifted the statues for harboring ghosts
Reddened their necks, collared their clothes
Then we danced the dance till the menace got out
She gathered the corners and called it her gown....
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sign In, Stranger

"Dear Mr. Anodyne,

Hello, my name is Sylvia. I'm a friend of James Nadiger's. A while ago he recommended me your blog and I've been enjoying it ever since. I was particularly taken by your recent post on The Sheltering Sky and off-ramp troubles - I am quite interested in Bowles and am partial to that ferry ride.

I came across the [attached PDF] on Bowles' work and earlier this year. I thought I'd pass it along as it seemed to me a particularly interesting take on the author, his art, and his place in American culture.

On a completely different note, thank you for recommending Ratatouille. My boyfriend and I caught it last night and we were delighted. We probably would have passed it by, but seeing as both you AND Robin Bougie had sung its praises, we figured we had to go.

Thank you for making the blogosphere a little more interesting.


Sylvia Marques"

Free (94), 2007

Free (95), 2007

Free (96), 2007

Free (97), 2007

I Saw Her in the Anti-War Demonstration
Words and music by Jens Lekman, apparently channeling Jonathan Richman

Strings, handclaps, the whole nine yards, turning the corner by the Bayshore to look back at the expansion's neo-Constructivist fretwork in the last light, seaplanes landing, electric candleflames leaping in the windows of Liz's shed, Raven's glittering eyes. . . .

You're looking for me in the demonstration
Well I have already lost patience
And you might find me sitting by the pavement
Or maybe not, 'cause I have shrunk
I fell in love with a punk and she took my breath

Now there's nothing left
Of blood enough to feed a family
Well I just wanna feed Emily
With lukewarm English beer and vegan pancakes

I saw her in the anti war demonstration
It was a sweet sensation of love

When I was sixteen I hang out with the kids who liked it
The kind of punks that were born in leather jackets
The kind of punks who placed themselves in brackets
And she was one of them, back then she was somebody's girlfriend
And I was no one, I had nothing

And the skies, were clear blue skies
And her eyes, were clear blue eyes
And her thighs were about the same size as mine
And we were walking in the anti-war demonstration
It was a sweet sensation of love, of love
It was a sweet sensation of love.

Sunday, July 15, 2007
Q: Did I really see you repeatedly walking in and out of the Fox Cinema?

A: Yes, in the course of helping an artist pal with her latest video project. But I'm "in character," not just idly checking out the show.

Fellow blogger, photographer, long-distance walker and occasional hiking pal Keefer accidentally took this shot last week in the middle of Howe Sound. Unremarkable, until you notice the seated figure reading The Sheltering Sky in the middle distance.

In Love
Words and music by Ben Folds. Guest vocal: William Shatner

I remember
The night we met
That night we sat
Under summer skies
I looked into your eyes
And you looked into mine

You said, "You’re not like the rest"
(Oleander holly)
And I nodded
(Crimson feet of Collie)
"No one understands me,"
You said
And I nodded once again,
(Beautiful and lovely)
As if to agree that all men
Are indeed the same
(My baby)
Somehow, you said,
(The only one)
I was different
(Who really understands me)

(Floating hand in hand we)
(Whisper in the moonlight)

(And say that I'm)

(The things you want to see)

(Coriander star child)

For months on end
I maintained
(Goddess of the moonlight)
A veneer of sincere interest
(Hold me in the morning)
As if I were listening
As you relived every page
(And tell me I'm)
Of self-help and new age
(The only one alive)
That you had read

And I went in for the kill
(Who really understands you)
I'd read the same books
(Tell me pretty stories)
I'd learned to ape the motions
Of a "sensitive" human being
(Say you understand me)
And we were "oh-so-happy,"
(My baby)
But you found things to fix
(The things you want to see)
And I knew it was time
To move on
(That I could never be)
(In love)

(In love)

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 commit...
To you!

(Hold me in the morning)
I will always treasure
Our time together
(Tell me pretty stories)
I don't feel enough of anything
To harbor the kind of disdain
(Say that you're the only one)
That you'll maintain
You painted me into what you
(My baby)
Wanted to see,
And that's fine,
(But I could never be)
But you will never know me
(In love)
(In love)

(Oleander holly)
(Crimson feet of Collie)
(Beautiful and lovely)
(My baby)

(The only one)

(Who really understands me)

Anodyne Inc. (USD)

A quick portfolio fix, based on setting up the initial portfolio on the laptop on the front desk on a 35 degree cloudless afternoon. Mea culpa!


The Kroger Company (KR): 500 shares at $28.81 = $14,405.00, less $25 transaction charge = $14380.00. Share balance, 250 shares.


Seaspan Corporation (SSW): 440 shares at $34.76 = $15294.40, plus $25.00 transaction charge = ($15319.40). Share balance, 740 shares. Cash balance, $353.60.
Anodyne Inc.

Sunday morning with my portable electric fan and pocket calculator:

Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN): 3510 units x .0967/unit = $339.42 (13 July)

TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 1109 units x .08333/unit = $92.41 (15 July)

Hart Stores (HIS): 1769 shares x .10/share = $176.90 (11 July)

North West Company Fund (NWF.UN): 600 units x .27/unit = $162.00 (15 July)

Cash balance, $2161.97

New acquisition: Amerigo Resources Ltd. (ARG): 695 units x $3.06/unit + $25 transaction charge = ($2151.72)

Cash balance, $10.25
Saturday, July 14, 2007

Evening, Agamemnon Channel, B.C.
Friday, July 13, 2007

Horseshoe Bay --> Langdale; Earls Cove --> Saltery Bay; Powell River --> Little River; Duke Point --> Tsawwassen.

"She gave up, and was lifted again to a sitting position, where she remained, her head thrown far backward. The sudden roar of the plane's motor behind her smashed the wall of the chamber where she lay. Before her eyes was the violent blue sky -- nothing else. For an endless moment she looked into it. Like a great overpowering sound it destroyed everything in her mind, paralyzed her. Someone once had said to her that the sky hides the night behind it, shelters the person beneath from the horror that lies above. Unblinking, she fixed the solid emptiness, and the anguish began to move in her."

Sitting out in the sunshine on the aft deck like Kit's idealist husband Port, with my backpack, camera, and Eddie Bauer cap. Low blue smudge of Texada Island to the south; tow boats and booms working mid-channel; the Forbidden Plateau's distant snowfields glimmering in the terrifically harsh flat light. Like Port, already dying of fever, conscious of something like "a cold piece of metal" high in his chest. Robert Stone must have looked carefully at Bowles' clear prose, Robert Bingham too. Those last eighty pages, with Kit wandering lost in the desert, no longer human but "an object," a reflexively registering machine, felt like being punched repeatedly in the face and head. Or at least this was my excuse when I drove off the ferry into oncoming traffic.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On the road. Back soon.
New work-in-progress Pulpfiction Books website, to replace the old, four-years-out-of-date one:


Books We Never Buy

Harlequins, Book Club hardcovers, textbooks, damaged books, highlighted or marked books, computer books, encyclopedia sets, kids' series (Goosebumps; Animorphs; Saddle Club), self-published poetry, 99% of all sports and business books, stolen books, books we already have too many of.

Books We're Always Interested in Seeing

Contemporary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, Beat writing, visual art and architecture, classic kids' books (Richard Scarry; Enid Blyton; Roald Dahl), science, travel, cultural studies and philosophy, etc. Our customers are well-read, unconventional, and bright."
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Strings and melancholy, keeping me company as I haul boxes in from the car through sundown, through superheated air....

Maple Leaves
Words and music by Jens Lekman

It's autumn in Gothenburg
I'm walking home to my suburb
Rain falls hard on the city
on every homeless kitty

Oh please God bring relief
even if it's only brief
that she says the dreamer just make-believe
but I thought she said maple leaves

So we talked for hours
and you cried into my sheets
you said you hated your body
that it was just a piece of meat, I disagreed

I think you're beautiful
but it's impossible
to make you understand
that if you don't take my hand
I lose my mind completely
Madness will finally defeat me

She said it was all make-believe
but I thought you said maple leaves
and when she talked about the fall
I thought she talked about the season
I never understood at all

I thought she said maple leaves
and when she talked about about the fall
I thought she talked about Mark E. Smith
I never understood at all
I never understood at all
I never understood at all

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (62), 2007
CJB is installing/reading/catalog essay writing/on vacation for the rest of the week. Sporadic updates as time and energy permits.

In process:

Ryszard Kapuściński, Travels With Herodotus
Linda Nochlin, Courbet
J.M. Coetzee, Foe
Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky


Home at Last

Some young Irish guy took his cameraphone along to his front-row seats at the Steely Dan Show and brought back footage. The sound's a little off, but the sight of Mr. Fagen crouched, grinning, over his Fender Rhodes, with his Ray Charles specs, seriously askew hair, and scraggly white goatee makes me smile. Not captured on cameraphone: Sir Paul and David Gilmour, only a few rows back from the stage.

A surplus of SD-themed bonanzas oozing through the interwebs' pipes at the moment, including surplus close-up footage from the same date, and an entire 2003 concert, shot on an in-house camera, complete with lap dissolves and soundboard-quality music (I linked to this concert's instrumental opener, Art Blakey's Cubano Chant, last week. Lots more since then, including Godwhacker, The Caves of Altamira, and the Walter Becker-sung Slang of Ages).
Verlyn Klinkenborg remembers writer/curator/photographer John Szarkowski:

"What he demonstrated, in fact, was the very thing that good curators are able to do. He remained himself, and yet he was changed by what he saw."

Recent Photographs
Mike Grill
July 13 -- August 26, 2007

CSA Space
#5 - 2414 Main Street
Vancouver, British Columbia

Opening Friday, July 13 7-9:30pm

Curated by Steven Tong and Christopher Brayshaw

Monday, July 09, 2007

Scenes around the bookstore. Above, the shop's much-loved plastic rats. Below, New Guy preemptively excorciates the senior staff's old-school fanboy taste.

Today's soundtrack: the Super Friendz' buzzing melancholic 10 Lbs.

But she doesn't come alone, she comes with a friend
And that means you, you've come around
So bells ring
And whistles blow
At least I'm alive, at least I'm alive

You take the highway in and you take it home
And I walk through pattern blocks kinda alone
You should never laugh at other people's jokes
'cause I fill up with pride
I live my life in the hopes
I live my life in the hopes. . . .

Sunday, July 08, 2007

CJB gestures dramatically; Fiona Forbes contemplates washing, having handled Robin Bougie's Cinemasewer; Michael Eckford squints at the studio clock, wondering, "Will this guy ever shut up?" Screen grab courtesy Keefer.

Can you hear the evil crowd
The lies and the laughter
I hear my inside
The mechanized hum of another world
Where no sun is shining
No red light flashing
Here in this darkness
I know what I've done
I know all at once who I am

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer reading. Full of the narative pull and finely planed sentences characterizing King's more realistic work. A book I've been waiting to read; a clear, lucid voice remembered from a long time ago that only emerges intermittently now: in the excellent autobiographical On Writing; in some of the short stories collected in Everything's Eventual; in Four Past Midnight's "The Sun Dog," and a few other places.

A sample of Blaze's plain clear prose:

"The Bowies watched him go over to the chopping block and free the ax. He looked at it, then stood in the dust beside the block. Dogs ran and yapped ceaselessly. The smallest Collies were the shrillest.

'Well?' Bowie asked.

'Sir, I ain't never chopped wood.'

Bowie dropped the zipper bag in the dust. He walked over and set a maple chunk on the chopping block. He spat in one palm, clapped his hands together and picked up the ax. Blaze watched closely. Bowie brought the blade down. The chunk fell in two pieces.

'There,' he said. 'Now they're stovelengths.'"

Free (90), 2007

Free (91), 2007

Free (92), 2007

Free (93), 2007

Winterwerk's Monstrance, all northern lights and glacial groanings, Mr. Andy Partridge visible behind those round smoked shades....
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Pete sends along Ultra Nate's stomping house classic Free, an anthem for sundown, long beams of light streaking the sidewalk, the BOOKS BOUGHT * SOLD * TRADED sign, the poolhall guys playing pass-the-blunt.

Free (86), 2007

Free (87), 2007

Free (88), 2007

Free (89), 2007
Five hundred degrees in the inferno of the sunbaked front room. Fortunately I have a Nalgene full of delicious free Vancouver tapwater. Tom Waits on the deck. And cold pears in the fridge.
Today's YouTube: Yo La Tengo, Blue Line Swinger, esp. the first three minutes, right up until Air Guitar Dude appears and starts posing. Germane to all the photographs appearing here lately, I think.

Free (82), 2007

Free (83), 2007

Free (84), 2007

Free (85), 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
The NYT's Frugal Traveler checks in weekly from the road; a journey I'd very much like to take with the cats riding shotgun.

Peter Culley, Free, 2007

A Letter From East Vancouver to Hammertown


Thanks for that; I put it up on the site with full attribution. In an ideal world I would have resized it, slightly degraded the image, and seamlessly inserted it alongside its brothers and sisters in the sequence, unattributed, as a kind of silent homage. Early on I entertained ideas of making one of my own to go incognito among the others, but all my attempts ended up looking either bad or wrong, or too glaringly like "art photography." I think your piece is an art photograph that reads the good stuff in the sequence back out of "amateurism" into art photography, if that distinction makes any sense; to me, your picture is a good art photograph whose artistry consists of successfully adopting the look of the "amateur"; it performs it, or puts it on like a comfortable set of clothes.

I hope it's clear from the sequence that Free is meant for you, as a kind of long poem, or a response to your poems and photographs. I thought very hard about the distinction you drew between "art photographs" in frames and galleries, and "photography" circulating in the world. In the end, I think I come down closer to the "art" end than the "circulating in the world" end, but that is neccessarily personal, subjective, and hard to explain. Maybe it has to do with context. I wanted to make a work that was right up against that art/world margin, right on the border. What I like most about your in-the-world photographs are the little bits of context that sneak in at the edges, the sort of things that are not neccessarily part of the subject, but which somehow inform your impressions of them. The stray leaks of light, fences, surprised animals, concrete barriers, etc. You see this quality sometimes in Evan Lee's work, in E.J. Hughes' work, and quite often in Brueghel: an acceptance of the world's plenitude, of its endless proffering of subjects. How'd you put it in The Provisions? "A scattering / of minor trash / loaded and sodden..." Nothing boring, or "beneath representation." This is a truly democratic idea, maybe even a revolutionary one. No hierarchy, only successive lateral displacement, endless proliferation of Gustonesque stuff....& of course, too, the notion that some of this stuff benefits from looking with eyes that have looked at Le Va, and Andre, and Judd, and the rest. If you can sustain such close looking in a gallery, and it's so rewarding with those guys, why would anyone ever want to switch off again outside? Maybe the lesson here is that everything should be scrutinized as art, or at least as potential art. I'm rambling. Thanks again for the photograph, I was surprised; a bit moved too.


Free (78), 2007

Free (79), 2007

Free (80), 2007

Free (81), 2007
Pulpfiction's Slightly Abridged Urban Rush Summer Reading List (in order of appearance):

Douglas Coupland, City of Glass / Bruce Serafin, Colin's Big Thing
John Armstrong, Wages
Richard Preston, The Wild Trees
Keith Maillard, Gloria
Robert Charles Wilson, Spin
Robin Bougie, Cinemasewer / Rebecca Dart, Rabbithead
Neil Strauss, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

Displayed but not discussed:

Catherine Millet, The Secret Life of Catherine M. / Pauline Reage, Story of O
Jorge Luis Borges, Book of Imaginary Beings / Collected Fictions
Matt Ruff, Fool on the Hill
Kem Nunn, The Dogs of Winter
Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
Don DeLillo, Falling Man
David Goodis, Nightfall / William Hjortsberg, Falling Angel (Millipede Press reprints)
Upcoming CJB appearance on Shaw Cable's Urban Rush, to plug the shop's idea of a summer reading list. Cormac McCarthy, Pauline Reage, Don DeLillo, Matt Ruff, Cinemasewer magazine, Keith Maillard, The Game, Zadie Smith, David Mitchell, Doug Coupland and Bruce Serafin, Bill Gibson, M. John Harrison, Connie Willis, Kem Nunn, Borges, yadda yadda yadda. Probably my first and last appearance on cable television. Anyone excited by the prospect of watching me discuss books about time travel, serial killers, BDSM, nanotechnology, and fictional worlds infesting our own with the show's "hip, urban" co-hosts is welcome to tune in at 5pm.

A young musician interrogates my taste at the counter:

YM: Some [musical] acts are just dealbreakers. If you like X, we're not gonna get along.

CJB: Like who?

YM: Kenny G.

CJB: Fair enough. That's not really music.

YM: Or Coldplay.

CJB: D'accord.

YM: Or Steely Dan.

CJB: Heh.

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