Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tonight's Youtube:

Green Earrings

Summer Wages

So What

Jack of Speed

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Pete's favorite musician joke:

A saxophone player has just finished playing in a tiny club and is sitting at the edge of the stage cleaning his sax. He is just about to put it back in its battered case when a striking young woman in a black sweater, tweed skirt, pearls, a beret and ballet flats walks over to him. "I hope you don't mind me bothering you," she says. He looks up but continues snapping the case shut. "I've been a jazz fan ever since I was a little girl," she goes on, "and the tenor is my favorite instrument." "Who's your favorite player ?" he says, testing her. "Well until tonight I would have said Sonny or Dexter," she says. "What do you mean?" "Well the way you played tonight was the best I've ever heard, on record or off." He's not sure if she's kidding. "And a man with a gift like yours should get more at the end of the evening than a spit valve and a subway ride home." He looks up again. "I would like to take to my apartment three blocks from here and give you the night of love a genius deserves. Certain skills taught to me by the nuns in the convent where I grew up enable me to give pleasure in ways almost beyond imagining, and I would like to use all of them on you. Let's go." She reaches out her pale hand to his shoulder. He puts his own hand on hers. "Before we go," he says, "I just have to know one thing--were you here for the first or second set?"
Friday, September 28, 2007
And from Dru:

Q: What's the difference between a large pizza and a musician?

A: The pizza can feed a family of four.
And yet more, via Jamie Tolagson:

"Two drummer jokes, supposedly told by Sting at the height of the infamous Sting/Stewart Copeland feud (circa 1982):

Q: How can you tell when a drummer is knocking at your door?

A: The knock speeds up.

Q: What has three legs and a cunt?

A: A drum stool."

And another, an oldie but a goodie, courtesy Constant Reader Rolf Maurer:

Q: What do you call a drummer who's just split up with his girlfriend?

A: Homeless.
More musician jokes, 'cause the readership keeps telling them to me:

Q: What do you call a beautiful woman on a banjo player's arm?

A: A tattoo.

Q: How do you get a drummer off your porch?

A: Pay him for the pizza.

Q: What's the difference between a viola and an onion?

A: No one cries if you cut up a viola.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tonight's YouTube: Jeff Young and fellow Heavy Rollers cover Babylon Sisters in a tiny New Zealand bar
Q: Why does the office "stink like ass"?

A: Dead mouse behind the fridge!

China stingily waters democracy's roots:

"'As a neighbor, China is extremely concerned about the situation in Myanmar,' the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said at a news briefing in Beijing. 'China hopes that all parties in Myanmar exercise restraint and properly handle the current issue so as to ensure the situation there does not escalate and get complicated.'"

(via the NYT)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Cool September evening, full moon adrift in a sea of mackerel cloud

Congratulations to Vancouver's Arabella Campbell, winner of the 2007 RBC Canadian Painting Competition. Longish essay on AC's work overdue on my desktop, and scheduled for publication here soon.

(Image: Arabella Campbell, Physical Facts Series #3, 2005-6. Courtesy Catriona Jeffries Gallery)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
From downunder: Jazz Champions Deliver, on the last night of the 2007 Heavy Rollers Tour

"After about an hour things started to stretch out, on Green Earrings and then Black Friday, and then a very funky Kid Charlemagne, and you could hear how the influence of this New York band of the '70s and '80s still comes through loud and clear today. . . ."
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Steph Abegg climbs the classic Northeast Buttress of Mt. Slesse, and brings back some amazing photographs
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Charlie Munger strikes a chord at the 2007 Wesco Financial Annual General Meeting:

"There's a poem by Burns, the great Scottish poet, where he urges Scots to work hard, even connive, to get a glorious independence. You don't have to listen to me very long to know my views wouldn't be welcome everywhere, so I decided I needed glorious independence, which required that I be a man of independent means. I didn't buy a new car until I was about 60 and I was very rich before then. I wanted independence for the same reason George Bernard Shaw sent his mom out to work: I wanted to make a mental man of myself. Warren kids me about this."

(Transcript courtesy Whitney Tilson)
Friday, September 21, 2007
Operation Orchard

Q: Sir, Israeli opposition leader Netanyahu has now spoken openly about Israel's bombing raid on a target in Syria earlier in the month. I wonder if you could tell us what the target was, whether you supported this bombing raid, and what do you think it does to change the dynamic in an already hot region in terms of Syria and Iran and the dispute with Israel and whether the U.S. could be drawn into any of this?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to comment on the matter. Would you like another question?

Q: Did you support it?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to comment on the matter.

Q: Can you comment about your concerns that come out of it at all, about for the region?

THE PRESIDENT: No. Saying I'm not going to comment on the matter means I'm not going to comment on the matter. You're welcome to ask another question, if you'd like to, on a different subject. . . .

Fortunately, the Observer has helpfully lifted the veil behind the Decider's stonewalling. A story that deserves everyone's close attention, one poorly reported so far by mainstream North American media.
Alan Greenspan and The Juice Discuss the Writer's Craft

GREENSPAN: —I couldn’t help but ask myself, How the heck did he come up with this? I mean, some of [your] stuff is really out there.

SIMPSON: I thought it would be interesting to put myself inside the head of a sociopathic killer—sort of like what Bret Easton Ellis did in American Psycho.

GREENSPAN: I love Bret’s work.

SIMPSON: When I was in the writing program at Iowa, one of my teachers—Raymond Carver, I think—said, 'Juice, write what you know.' But I think the only way to grow as a writer is to create a character who is the opposite of you, and ask, 'What makes that guy tick?'

GREENSPAN: I’m curious—if he’s the opposite of you, why did you name him O. J. Simpson?

SIMPSON: I have to admit I stole that idea from Martin Amis. . . .
Anodyne Inc.

An updated list of holdings, because someone asked:

Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN): 12,346 units
E-L Financial Corporation (ELF): 7 shares
Hart Stores (HIS): 1769 shares
Loblaw Companies (L): 217 shares
Norbord, Inc. (NBD): 1208 shares
North West Company Fund (NWF.UN): 600 units
Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN): 1170 units
TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 1109 units
Amerigo Resources, Inc. (ARG): 695 shares
"So, When Did You Finally Get Bored With Photography?"

The Nikon's battery charger is somewhere in Lund, B.C. Stay tuned!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Pulpfiction Books was selected today by the readers of the Georgia Straight newspaper as "Vancouver's Best Used Bookstore." Thanks to the anonymous readers who voted for us; to this year's staff and former staff (Chris Clarke; Keith Dunsmuir; Bonnie Jacques; Michael Young; New Guy [James Nadiger]; Katherine Davis); and to the customers and vendors who continue to arrive day after day, making this job the only thing outside of visual art and investing that's held my skittish attention for more than five consecutive years.
K. tells a "musician's joke":

Q: What good is a clarinet?

A: Wood for an accordian fire.

And another one:

The orchestra's second viola bids his wife and newborn child a fond farewell and hops into his Honda Accord for a quick trip to 7-11. While he's gone, the orchestra's conductor breaks into the house, shoots the wife, drowns the newborn in the bathtub, dismembers both of them, and scatters the remains throughout the house and across the front lawn.

Second viola arrives home to find police cruisers in the driveway and all up and down the block; yellow crime scene tape strung everywhere; and a gaggle of appalled neighbors held back by uniformed police. "You can't go in there!" say the cops. "Why?" asks the second viola. So they tell him.

Second viola ponders this news: "Maestro came to visit me?"
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Anodyne, Inc.

More distributions:

Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN): 3510 units x .0967/unit = $339.42 (15 Sep)

TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 1109 units x .041667/unit = $46.21 (17 Sep)

Cash balance, $1119.81

An art-world type made the assumption today that the Roger Lowenstein Buffett biography currently up as my staff pick was some exquisite form of irony, and was visibly discomfited to learn that its selection was essentially irony-free. Money doesn't really mean that much to me in and of itself; it's more like a score card. "The uniqueness of [Buffett]'s achievement is more significant in that it was the fruit of old-fashioned, long-term investing. Wall Street's modern financiers got rich by exploiting their control of the public's money: the essential trick was to take in -- and sell out -- the public at opportune moments. Buffett shunned this game, as well as the more venal excesses for which Wall Street is deservedly famous. In effect, he rediscovered the art of pure capitalism -- a cold-blooded sport, but a fair one." (Lowenstein). I have been trying to monetize the inside of my head for the better part of twenty years, not to Get Rich Quick, but to facilitate escape. I like the idea of being paid to think, minus the distractions of the tenure committee, Head Librarian, Chief Curator, Editor, W.H.Y. "Like Warren, I had a considerable passion to get rich. Not because I wanted Ferraris -- I wanted the independence. I desperately wanted it. I thought it was undignified to have to send invoices to other people. I don't know where I got that notion from, but I had it. I had lived way under my income for years, saving money." (Charles Munger).

If I vanish one day, please understand.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
CJB: That'll be seventeen seventy-five, please.


CJB [completely startled]: Are you OK?


Scrambling up a stack of papers directly behind me. Cute, but not cute enough to prevent me half-heartedly swiping at the little fucker with the broom, hoping for a clean kill with the first blow. But Speedy Gonzales jinked left around my half-assed shot and fled down the trade fiction aisle, little legs windmilling away like crazy.

TN-LW [pissed]: You need a cat!

CJB: Or a new career.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The Shutter Falls, You See It All in 3-D
Latenight YouTube: Duke's Mooche and its awesome clarinet solo (1:23)

RIP: Jim Willer, painter, sculptor, science fiction novelist, environmental activist, role model, friend: the first full-time artist I ever met, aged five or thereabouts, when he drove his youngest daughter Sophie down from Sunset Beach to my kindergarten classroom.

I wrote about Jim's work twice; once for Artichoke magazine, and once in an catalog for the Richmond Art Gallery (Out of The Garden: The Contemporary British Columbia Landscape, the first visual art exhibition I ever curated). I also commissioned a small watercolor from Jim some time in the early 1990s, thereby fulfilling a promise I originally made to him in grade 2 or 3. That painting, Very Like a Micro-Circuit #2, which depicts a fallen Haida mortuary pole slowly dissolving into organic computer circuitry, still hangs in my apartment's front hall, beside one of Sylvia's EK photographs and a Ron Terada painting of an Artforum ad for Thomas Struth.

Jim's obituary, from the Globe:

"WILLER, James Sydney Harold

Beloved father, artist, sculptor, environmental activist and writer, Jim passed away peacefully on Sept. 6, 2007 at St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver. Born in London, England in 1921, Jim studied at the University of Manitoba, the Hornsey School of Art in London and the Royal Academy of Amsterdam. His paintings are included in Permanent collections at the National Gallery of Canada, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Jim exhibited his work for the National Gallery Tour in both 1953-54 and 1970-71. He won the Canadian Overseas Award in 1967 and from 1973-96 showed numerous group exhibitions and one-man shows at the Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver. Jim's science fiction novel Paramind written in 1967 won the Canada 2000 Award. A celebration of Jim's life will be arranged and announced in the future. He is survived by his three daughters Kathleen Willer of Coleman, Alberta, Xanthe Charov of New York City, NY, Sophie Reen of Greensburg, Indiana, by Chris Cavers (first wife and mother of Kathleen) and by seven grandchildren."

(Image: Jim's drawing Autotem, 1980, an excellent example of his thematic concerns (man-made objects transforming into animal spirits; into organic circuitry; into "thinking machines" capable of reflection on their own place in the world), but not, unfortunately, of the peculiar Vermeeresque brilliance of his watercolors)
Friday, September 14, 2007
Via Matt Ruff: "The Urban Hunt: A Summer Spent Killing -- And Eating -- Seattle's Small Game"


Harvesting slugs is less hunting than gathering, and hardly bears mentioning, but here is what you do: The morning after a good rain, peek beneath the leaves, bricks, and wooden planks of a friend's garden and drop the slugs you find into any nonmetallic container. Allow them to fast for a couple of days, then feed them on sage or other savory leaves. Wash away the mucus—saltwater baths help—and sauté them in butter and garlic, like escargot. They are chewy."

Pete sends along this short, thoughtful assessment of consummate New Yorker writer John McPhee, lately improving, like his compatriot Alice Munro, from a good writer into a truly great one. McPhee's latest piece, an experimentally structured profile of his old editor William Shawn, kept me occupied on the ferries to and from Powell River; I'd laugh out loud; K. would ask, "What's so funny?"; I'd pass the magazine over; she'd guffaw; back the magazine would come & etc.

McPhee's best line, ever: his likening, in the Shawn piece, of durian to a "fecal tiramisu."

"[I]t’s not just McPhee’s indefatigable curiosity about seemingly everything -- exotic cars, cattle branding in Nevada, lobsters and how UPS plants in the east ship them -- that makes his writing so incredible. It’s that, at a sentence level, his is among the most pure writing in the language. I hesitate to use the term pure, just because its too loaded, carries so much baggage. The sensation most akin to reading John McPhee’s sentences is experiencing incredibly clear, clean water, and for the life of me I haven’t been able to nail it down much more clearly than that. I don’t know if it matters whether it’s like drinking the water, or letting it run over your hands, but there’s a cleanliness to his prose that’s almost startling."

Untitled x 3 from Free Archive, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007

Something I Can Dance To, A Song With Tears in It

To work under locked-down grey sky, cool wind, leaves skittering off the trees. Violin, handclaps. Dodge around the delivery guy unloading red plastic pallets of Pepsi and Sprite from the truck blocking the alley. "Assume Andrew splits his consumption between Pepsi and pizza, and that both are normal goods. Derive his rate of marginal substitution from the graph for the preference curves P and P1. Show your equations." No NYT in the rack. On down to the bus, and poor Skip Sands, shipped all over hell's half acre by his unhinged uncle, with his Psy Ops cardfiles full of Vietnamese monsters and fairytales. Work's blown ballast, wires dangling down, weird shadows from a temporary tube lodged sideways on top of the mass market mysteries. Nineteen boxes that just cleared the customs broker stacked in the front room by the plastic rat family, another half dozen boxes concealing Fred, the potted plant we rescued from the garbage can by the bus stop in the summer of 2005. Relentless anthropomorphisation! Animism, baby. And the reflex condescension of a "creative" young person exquisitely attuned to the minutia of his own subjectivity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Just back from two days of twenty seven degree smoky Seattle sunshine. Highlights from among the thirty-odd books meant for me and not the shop:

Robert Draper, Dead Certain: The Presidecy of George W. Bush
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke
Franz Kafka, Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors
D.M. Huffman et al., Mushrooms & Other Fungi of the Midcontinental United States
Knut Hamsun, Pan; Hunger; Wayfarers
Thomas Bernhard, Gargoyles; Correction
Turner and Szczawinski, Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America
John McPhee, The Control of Nature
Paul Stamets, The Mushroom Cultivator
Lawrence Kramer, Why Classical Music Still Matters (for K.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007
"I'm Embarrassed to Say That I Mis-read the Title."

New Guy James N. gets one for the ages.

Drew Brayshaw, Yummy, 2007. A photograph I wish I'd made. Something typically overlooked examined up-close, for its own sake.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Russian ASCII Goggles (via WG blog)

"Russian artists from Moscow presented in London the totally useless but somehow cool device -- goggles that you can put on and feel yourself like a robot from a Terminator movie or like somebody else from 'the cyberspace.'"

Watch the video!

RIP: Norm "Froggyman" Billion, Amazon penny book seller extraordinaire. Close to seven feet tall. Alternately bald, or with dreadlocks down to his ass. Not someone I'd ever want to work for, but one of the most amusing people I've ever met. Norm's oversized plans -- for world penny book domination; for a national chain of bookstores, supplied by railcars out of Abbotsford HQ; for better, faster Amazon price-altering software and for an endless succession of unheated industrial warehouses stacked floor to ceiling with mass market paperbacks -- often conflicted with reality, sometimes violently, but I always came away from my visits to Froggyman HQ alternately smiling and shaking my head. Norm's endless enthusiasm -- and boundless optimism in technology and capitalism's ability to make his Paul Bunyan-style plans a reality -- strangely moved me; I saw in them more than a passing resemblance to my own.

I can easily picture Norm in Purgatory, hustling up a few souls who'll work cheap, a spare tractor-trailer, a cut-rent industrial warehouse, and the local church and service-club sales. "Got anything left? I'll take 'em all!"

Norm's obituary, from the Abbotsford News:


Passed away August 24, 2007 in a tragic motorcycle accident while living in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was born in Floriana, Malta on April 5, 1962 and afterwards grew up in Windsor, Ontario. Norm's passing is a huge loss to those who knew and loved him. He was young at heart and full of character. He will be especially missed by his daughter Amanda. He will also be missed by his parents Patricia and Joseph Billion, brothers Chris and Steven and sister Juliette, as well as other family and friends. He was a great father, brother and son."
"So, How's it Going, Anyway?"

I think this is the last piece I am ever going to write to a deadline, and probably my last piece of "periodical criticism" ever. I keep reading it over and thinking, a/ this is not expressed very clearly, and, b/ the "insights" are neither insightful or clever, just a stale recycling of others' (better; more keenly felt) observations. It's like there's a scrim between what I intuit about [CONTEMPORARY ARTIST]'s work and any capacity to express that intuition in language. The old case of the middle-aged white guy with no sense of rhythm, timing, or pitch. All the sentences come out just fine, but the thing don't swing. D-E-A-D, like that mangy bearhide in the garage that gran-dad shot and tanned.
Back from the scenic upper southwest coast and straight into Retail Hell. Thousands of lost-looking first year university students armed with reading lists or the manky out-of-date textbooks that the university bookstore buyback service wouldn't take. Eighteen year old girl who wants to know where the "books by Jane Eyre are." Health care professionals-to-be who don't understand why we don't have a used copy of the latest edition of the $275 nursing textbook they need for school. Guy who prefaces his request for Martel's Life of Pi with, "I know you won't have this, but. . . ." (For non-Canadian readers, this is a bit like assuming that 7-11 will be out of Wonder Bread or eggs). And colossal dickheads like the following:

POMPOUS HIPSTER [holding scarce, ultra-low-print-run Takashi Murakami catalog, $79.95]: Where's your other books like this?

CJB: Other Murakami books?

PH: No, man. Y' package design...

CJB: Well, we do see that stuff, but it's pretty scarce.

PH: Not in Japan!

And, less than thirty seconds later:

PH: Where's your books on projection holography?
Monday, September 03, 2007
Kayne West, riffing over a more familiar voice

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