Thursday, November 29, 2007
Posted to


Vancouver artist-photographer seeks half a dozen individuals for paid participation in an upcoming public performance. Any regular reader is welcome to apply, with the following provisios:

1. Performance will take place in downtown Vancouver on six successive Mondays. If you are not available mid-day on Mondays in December and January, please do not apply. (Each individual will only perform once; you do not need to be available for six weeks in a row).

2. Performance will consist of reading a book of your choice outdoors in a busy public place for sixty minutes. The performance location is sheltered from rain and/or snow, but I cannot guarantee balmy weather. If you will be uncomfortable standing (or sitting, in the case of mobility-impaired individuals) outside for sixty minutes, please do not apply.

3. Your performance will be surripticiously photographed by someone previously unknown to you. Your image will subsequently appear in a sequence of photographs presented in a contemporary art context. If your representation in an art context concerns you, please do not apply.

4. Each participant will receive $40 for their sixty minute participation, and, if requested, a proof print of the final photo sequence.

5. If you are still interested in applying, please respond to this ad in writing. Please include your name, contact details (phone, email), age, the titles of the last two or three books you've read or are currently reading, and any other information you think is important. The objective here is to ensure that the final "cast" is as diverse as possible, in reading taste as well as in age, gender, ethnicity, etc.

Thanks for reading; I look forward to hearing from you.

Jeff Wall, Cold Storage, Vancouver, 2007

Jeff Wall, Tenants, 2007

"Hi Christopher.

Lee Bacchus signing in again. Can I ask where you're finding these latest J. Wall shots? I realize [where] you found Searching, but the Fortified Door and another (not sure I saw it on your blog or another), which depicts a '60s or '70s era townhouse complex that you might find in the cold shadows of the Metrotown towers, are both news to me.

I really like Searching. Talk about disarming! Following the cool elegance of After Spring Snow this cell phone shot sent a shudder though me. Wall seems always to be turning things on their head (formally and conceptually), so here instead of technology delivering stock quotes or text messages the artist and his phone act like a contemporary colporteur, hand-delivering images of the destitute instead of bibles or newspapers. I think Searching works both on this level and on another, which speaks to the 'searching' of those emptied people (like me at times) who find themselves both addicted and dominated by technology and its searching behaviors. There are probably ten more layers to excavate within this modest-looking photo, but this is as far as I got. Sorry for the long winded addendum."

All the Wall images posted to Anodyne have been found lodged in the internets' tubes. Fortified Door, for instance, is available on White Cube's website as a teaser image for an upcoming London show.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jeff Wall, Fortified Door, 2007

Still Life for Adam and Steven, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Q: Eno's name came up earlier. Someone wrote in and asked 'What exactly did Eno do on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway?'

TONY BANKS: It was really more like gimmicky effects on a couple of things. He used that Echoplex and he just wiggled it on the introduction to the whole album. He did the vocal effects on Grand Parade and In the Cage. But he didn't play anything, it was just effects. And it all happened the day I wasn't there. I was ill.

PHIL COLLINS: I got sent upstairs as payment (laughter). Because Eno was bigger than we were, you know with Roxy Music, and so Peter must have said to him, 'Well, thanks for doing this, how do we pay you?' And he said, 'I need a drummer,' and I was sent upstairs and he was doing Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, so I played on that track."
A woman walks out of the budget smokes-and-novelty shop opposite my front window with a package marked FANTASY WINGS.

Still on the deck: Ellington's great New Orleans Suite (1970). Music as old as me!
The two-land road descends plumb-straight through trees, traversing the side of the hill. Roofs flash by: small houses; sloping yards. Past the yards' low ends a salt marsh stretches west to a narrow spit where even smaller houses -- shacks, really, some not much larger than RVs -- sit facing the low grey surf. Clabbered sky, the peninsula's distant mountains remote behind curtains of snow.

A dogleg curve. The road runs perpendicular to the ocean, marshes stretching off on either side. Russet on brown on gray. Birds lighting and flickering and lighting again in the shallows, the water's surface pushed here and there by the wind.

Out of the car. The wind slaps against my canvas coat like a solid hand. Rolling green "lawn" pockmarked by rabbit shit and thistles. Along the cliff-edge. Heaving breakers on the narrow cobble beach below. Out in the channel the passenger ferry explodes through clouds of spray, narrow vees of white foam cleaving off its blunt wedge-shaped bow. A bulk carrier executes a slow turn on the horizon, its squat grey presence brooding at vision's edge like an Imperial Star Destroyer or the military bulk lifter that executed its final approach above the Taurus' roof, making me think I'd blown a tire.

Unmade photograph: the consonance of the turnaround's green grass oval against a bulge of silver sky.
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Via New Guy -- James N. -- who clearly understands how my mind works:

"Tyrone: Robot overlords don't give Scooter Libby pardons. No rich man can bribe his way out of the robot overlord court. You telling me you don't want to see the robot overlords kick in Dick Cheney's door --

John: I would buy that DVD. The two disc box set, with robot overlord commentary."
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
On the deck: He Loved Him Madly, the full 30 minute suite

Tonight's soundtrack: Duke Ellington, New Orleans Suite, esp. Thanks For The Beautiful Land On the Delta

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Stephen Hickman's Great Cthulu

A Colder War

Charles Stross' extraordinary Mythos pastiche. My favorite piece of his writing, a perfect balancing of tongue-in-cheek homage and genuine air of supernatural menace.

"Roger shakes himself. Remembering time-survivor curves, the captured Nazi medical atrocity records mapping the ability of a human brain to survive in close proximity to the Baltic Singularity. Mengele's insanity. The SS's final attempt to liquidate the survivors, the witnesses. Koschei, primed and pointed at the American heartland like a darkly evil gun. The 'world-eating mind' adrift in brilliant dreams of madness, estivating in the absence of its prey: dreaming of the minds of sapient beings, be they barrel-bodied wing-flying tentacular things, or their human inheritors. . . ."

Someone writes to admit that they've never read HPL.

Start here.

"The last lap of the voyage was vivid and fancy-stirring. Great barren peaks of mystery loomed up constantly against the west as the low northern sun of noon or the still lower horizon-grazing southern sun of midnight poured its hazy reddish rays over the white snow, bluish ice and water lanes, and black bits of exposed granite slope. Through the desolate summits swept ranging, intermittent gusts of the terrible antarctic wind; whose cadences sometimes held vague suggestions of a wild and half-sentient musical piping, with notes extending over a wide range, and which for some subconscious mnemonic reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimly terrible. Something about the scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich, and of the still stranger and more disturbing descriptions of the evilly fabled plateau of Leng which occur in the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. I was rather sorry, later on, that I had ever looked into that monstrous book at the college library."
Al Swearengen counsels my depression
Sharp winter light on the trees across Main Street, door open, cold air curling in, Hank Mobley sizzling on the deck, someone -- Philly Joe Jones? -- all animated on the drums, Wynton Kelly and Grant Green adding accents and curlicues. I'm not a fan of "jazz guitar" by any stretch of the imagination, but this is awfully tasty stuff that must have been lots of fun to play. Microeconomics handed in yesterday afternoon: the long express bus ride out to the university and back, with HPL for the journey there and Philip Roth's Everyman for the journey home. HPL's a weird one. A genuinely great writer who produced some awfully purple prose. The book fell open on my lap to an account of winged bat-creatures bearing human brains across the cosmic aether in magical metal jars. But then you get a description like this: "A mountain walked or stumbled. God!" (Great Cthulhu, monstrous green octopus-bat-deity, emerging from his drowned crypt somewhere off the coast of Tasmania). Or, a sentence or two later, this astonishing account of a seaman's death: "Parker slipped as the other three were plunging frenziedly over endless vistas of green-crusted rock to the boats, and Johansen swears he was swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn't have been there, an angle which was actute, but behaved as if it were obtuse." (The fantastic rendered in laconic just-the-facts-ma'am prose, the mystery of how a human could be swallowed "by an angle of masonry" left unresolved, the alien city leaning out to casually devour him, just as a carnivorous plant might close around an unsuspecting fly).
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Brilliant blue sky, crisp sunlight, the mountains white with snow

Q: Why are you posting at 4:30am?

A: Just finished my microeconomics term project!

(The mice can't figure it out, either)
Monday, November 19, 2007

On the deck all day: Copland's Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra
So Many Times It Happens Too Fast

Anodyne Inc. distributions:

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

TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 1109 units x .041667/unit = $46.21 (15 Oct)

Cash balance, $2466.36

The markets are holding a pre-Christmas sale. The USD portfolio looks like it was hit by a falling 747, and the Canadian portfolio isn't that much prettier. Fortunately I judge my performance over a rolling three to five year period. A medium- to long-term holding period is a blessing for anyone with legendarily short patience; it removes a lot of doubt and anxiety. It's bizarre to me that, say, Loblaw Companies, Canada's largest grocer, is valued today by the market at 18% less than it was on Thursday, and is essentially selling for the value of its real estate, with the grocery business thrown in at no charge. The bookstore had a slow day today, with lots of crabby people and negligible sales, but I don't think it's worth 18% less than it was yesterday, with the aisles packed and a lineup of folks waiting to buy things.

Owning and operating a business is good preparation for investing; it teaches patience in the face of adversity. "Rising up to the challenge of our rival" & etc.
Tonight's Youtube: Rikki; Green Flower Street; Any Major Dude. All from the same epic 1996 tour date, which -- in memory serves -- also features a live version of Donald's IGY, a peerless pop song whose droll faux-optimism lifts me every time.

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): The Record Store Cats

Not depicted: a Dan-admiring feline, head bobbing back and forth like a pigeon's.

Email over the weekend from several folks, some friends, some strangers, wondering about this page's descent into endless Youtube links and cryptic one-liners. Some miss the photographs, some the crabby loquaciousness, some the value investing advice, and just about everyone waxes nostalgic about the lack of trips to interesting places.

In my defense: it's winter in Vancouver, with all the precipitation and low light that implies. My seasonal affective disorder is kicked up into high gear, and simple procedures -- remembering to wake up; tying my shoes; successfully negotiating ten hours of public service without completely melting down -- have assumed a difficulty out of all proportion to how hard they actually are. On top of spending more than sixty hours a week in the shop, I'm completing a university level microeconomics course I don't feel particularly at home in, and trying to finish several pieces of overdue art criticism. The camera's battery charger is still lost (a replacement, ordered off Big Electronic Garage Sale a month ago, is also MIA), the stock market is tanking, and I can barely summon the energy to watch Deadwood in the evening, let alone to consider field trips to greener pastures. While animated cat GIFs and endless Steely Dan reruns may tax everyone's patience, these things are real to me, harmless anodynes that keep me sane and functioning.
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Last night I ran into my old life
Still waiting for someone at the station...

Saturday, November 17, 2007
Tonight's Youtube: Pretzel Logic
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
In The Falling Dark

Cold grey twilight. Metallic snow-smell in the air. Light breeze stirring bare trees, a premoniton of the gale force winds scheduled to arrive after dark. A friend phones with good news, another drops by for coffee, and I'm amazed at the sound of my own voice, like rusty cogwork starting up somewhere deep in my chest.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
So You Want to Be the Next Warren Buffett? How's Your Writing?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Overheard at the desk:

"She's my favorite author, but I don't like anything she's written except my favorite book!"
The NYT rightly indicts the Democratic leadership's refusal to contest Michael Mukasey's AG nomination:

"On Thursday, the Senate voted by 53 to 40 to confirm Mr. Mukasey even though he would not answer a simple question: does he think waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning used to extract information from a prisoner, is torture and therefore illegal?

Democrats offer excuses for their sorry record, starting with their razor-thin majority. But it is often said that any vote in the Senate requires more than 60 votes — enough to overcome a filibuster. So why did Mr. Mukasey get by with only 53 votes? Given the success the Republicans have had in blocking action when the Democrats cannot muster 60 votes, the main culprit appears to be the Democratic leadership, which seems uninterested in or incapable of standing up to Mr. Bush.

Senator Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat who turned the tide for this nomination, said that if the Senate did not approve Mr. Mukasey, the president would get by with an interim appointment who would be under the sway of 'the extreme ideology of Vice President Dick Cheney.' He argued that Mr. Mukasey could be counted on to reverse the politicization of the Justice Department that occurred under Alberto Gonzales, and that Mr. Mukasey’s reticence about calling waterboarding illegal might well become moot, because the Senate was considering a law making clear that it is illegal.

That is precisely the sort of cozy rationalization that Mr. Schumer and his colleagues have used so many times to back down from a confrontation with Mr. Bush. The truth is, Mr. Mukasey is already in the grip of that 'extreme ideology.' If he were not, he could have answered the question about waterboarding."
Friday, November 09, 2007
Effective immediately, all new books bearing a US$ price sold at Pulpfiction Books will be sold at par. Books bearing a single Canadian price, and books bearing a dual UK/CDN price will, as always, remain priced at 20% off the Canadian price.

This seems to me to be a more reasonable solution than the strategy employed by many of my larger competitors, a very Canadian solution, which involves posting a sign -- 40% exchange rate, many complexities, "our publisher partners," Canadian cultural industry, national survey, letter-writing campaign, close our doors, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, yak yak woof -- and then abandoning the front-line retail staff to irritated customers who aren't stupid.

I was recently in an [LOCAL SUBURBAN NEW BOOK CHAIN] outlet in the White Rock mall. The mall was packed. Not a single soul disturbed my twenty minute browse in the shop. Everything was full price, hardcover bestsellers included. This policy was defended by large signs posted front and center, crying the blues. LSNBC's management is, of course, free to set whatever price they like for their books, just as I am equally free to conclude that they have never studied the price elasticity of demand and might as well replace their signs with a simpler phrase: GOING OUT OF BUSINESS, EVERYTHING MUST GO.

Frederick Horsman Varley, Misty Day, West Coast (North Shore from Point Grey, Vancouver), c. 1928
Thursday, November 08, 2007

Now I regret the times I've spent
In your towerblocks and tenements


Dark now at four thirty, late leaves wet and slippery on the sidewalk. Moist ghost-patterns of recently kicked leaves shining in the lamplight. K.'s betta thrashing last night in his bowl, the most active I'd ever seen him, thrusting his face up and again to break the water's skin. In the morning, the little horizontal corpse suspended among the bamboo's roots. Long magenta fins gathered in a soft heap. Out into the morning, Kingsway raked by rain. Hitting red light after red light. Edmonds cranes hammering new monoculture up into gunmetal sky, the portrait photographs on the new condos' hoardings like Ken Lum photographs drained of all irony, all "aesthetic efficacy," and flaunted for display. Water everywhere. Mist filming the Taurus' back windows and side mirrors. Wet footprints on the shop's front room carpet. A parade of the new people moving into the neighborhood, young affluent go-getters, all ready to describe to me with pride their latest crushes: Michael Ondaatje, Audrey Niffenegger, the Hundred Mile Diet, Douglas Coupland. There's something really peculiar, almost pathological, about the assumption that Douglas Coupland is a Major Undiscovered Talent. "I'm looking for this book? You probably won't have it. It's a cult novel! Generation X?" Two ways to take this, neither palatable: either the interrogator thinks I'm a total moron who's spent the last decade cut off from the CBC, Vancouver magazine, and the Globe's weekend books supplement, or, pricy hipster-chic to the contrary -- man-purse, tweed hunter's hat, stylish quilted jacket covered in enigmatic Japlish -- he isn't actually from Kitsilano or South Main at all, but from some tiny northern community where Coles clerks have never heard of the Poet Laureate of Yaletown.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Dear Christopher, somebody canceled his reservation for the Jeff Wall edition, and since you were the first one on the waiting list, you can now have no. 41."
Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Q: Are there big trees on Grouse Mountain?

A: CJB (left) poses with three meter wide Western Red Cedar (right) above the western bank of Mosquito Creek Canyon. Photo by Mick Range.

My first day out in the mountains since I trashed my right knee earlier this spring. A warm day spent wandering up the canyon on an assortment of flagged trails, overgrown once-trails, and full-on bushwhacking straight up the creek. Rose T. Cat (bashful as usual, lurking in my pack's top pocket) found a nice patch of Pacific Golden Chanterelles in a secret spot, which made a nice meal dry-sauteed at home with a little dab of butter.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Team Cat, creaky trashed knee finally healed, is presently lacing up its hiking boots, strapping its poles to its pack, and heading for the Seabus to rendezvous with a pal.

Pale blue sky, light wind, sunshine: a fine day to stagger up the local slopes.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saddening glissando strings, featuring ace pianist Mike Garson

(& this little gem, too, same old thing in brand-new drag)


(2005 prequel here)

Press conference from the Porri Jazz Festival, summer 2007. Donald's expression identical to mine when confronted by a deadbeat with a box full of John Grisham and Nicholas Evans pocketbooks -- "I don't need's fine..." -- who promptly sidles toward Beats & Counterculture.
Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Resurrection Fern
Words and music by Iron And Wine

In our days we will live
Like our ghosts will live:
Pitching glass at the cornfield crows
And folding clothes

Like stubborn boys across the road
We'll keep everything:
Grandma's gun and the black bear claw
That took her dog

When sister Laurie says, "Amen"
We won't hear anything:
The ten-car trains will take that word
That fledgling bird

And the fallen house across the way
It'll keep everything:
The baby's breath
Our bravery wasted and our shame

And we'll undress beside the ashes of the fire
Both our tender bellies wound in baling wire
All the more a pair of underwater pearls
Than the oak tree and its resurrection fern

In our days we will say
What our ghosts will say:
We gave the world what it saw fit
And what'd we get?

Like stubborn boys with big green eyes
We'll see everything:
In the tender shade of the autumn leaves
And the buzzard's wing

And we'll undress beside the ashes of the fire
Our tender bellies are wound around in baling wire
All the more a pair of underwater pearls
Than the oak tree and its resurrection fern
Friday, November 02, 2007
Via Craigslist:


A shout out to Pulp Fiction Books on Main Street for selling their books at US prices. They are a small company but they clearly love their customers. Pay attention Chapters."
Thursday, November 01, 2007
"My despair has long since been ground up fine and is no more than the daily salt and pepper of my life."
“If You Want to be an Icon of Virtue, This is the Moment Because You’ll Stand Out"

(via Jen)

"I am bored with giant cibachrome photographs of three Germans standing behind a mailbox."
Tonight's Youtube:

Everyone's Gone to the Movies


Both live in '96 at Manassas, VA. Lots of other high-quality clips available from the same user.
Tenants, 2007; War Game, 2007; Cold Storage, Vancouver, 2007

Melting Glacier Reveals Ancient Tree Stumps

"Melting glaciers in Western Canada are revealing tree stumps up to 7,000 years old where the region's rivers of ice have retreated to a historic minimum, a geologist said today.

Johannes Koch of The College of Wooster in Ohio found the fresh-looking, intact tree stumps beside retreating glaciers in Garibaldi Provincial Park, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Radiocarbon dating of the wood from the stumps revealed the wood was far from fresh—some of it dated back to within a few thousand years of the end of the last ice age.

'The stumps were in very good condition, sometimes with bark preserved,' said Koch, who conducted the work as part of his doctoral thesis at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. Koch will present his results on Oct. 31 at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Denver.

The pristine condition of the wood, he said, can best be explained by the stumps having spent all of the last seven millennia under tens to hundreds of meters of ice. All stumps were still rooted to their original soil and location.

'Thus they really indicate when the glaciers overrode them, and their kill date gives the age of the glacier advance,' Koch said. The age of the newly revealed ancient trees also indicates how long the glaciers have covered this region."

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