Sunday, December 30, 2007
Neutral Milk Hotel's bombastic Holland, 1945 on the deck:

But now we must pick up every piece

Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on. . .

Friday, December 28, 2007

Anodyne Inc.

Various envelopes stuffed with dollar bills:

Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN): 12,346 units x .01/unit = $123.46 (28 Dec)
Norbord, Inc. (NBD): 1208 shares x .10/share = $120.80 (21 Dec)

Cash balance, $470.71

Farewell monthly Dominion Citrus Income Fund distribution. It probably bears repeating that the distribution cut, in and of itself, should not concern unitholders with a medium- to long-term investment horizon. DOM.UN's corporate precursor, Dominion Citrus, Inc., paid -- if memory serves -- a .05 dividend on earnings of .08-.10/unit. Given roughly stable earnings over the next 12-18 months, I'd anticipate the re-implementation of a dividend of some kind, and, hopefully, reasonable share price appreciation. I have approximately $7500 of my own (eg., real, non-Anodyne Inc.) money in this medium- to long-term process, so it's not like I'm a totally uninterested bystander.

In other Anodyne Inc.-related news, someone previously unknown to me, a high school student from New Brunswick, writes to ask about "learning about investing."

• Read everything. I started in 1985 with a Self Counsel Press book -- Chuck Chakrapani's Financial Freedom on $5/Day -- and never stopped.

• Question everything. Don't rush out and buy DOM.UN just because I labelled it a screaming buy. It was for me, but your mileage may vary.

• Read as many annual reports as you can. I read between 100-150 in the course of a year, and if you really want to learn about investing, you should, too. If you run across a paragraph (or paragraphs) in an annual report that you can't parse into standard non-technical English, ask yourself what that rhetorical equivocation might signal or conceal. The Globe's Annual Reports Service will send you a big box of reports free for the asking. When I began to seriously study investing, I ordered a few reports from each industry, and compared them with each other.

• Learn from people who are smarter than you. Warren Buffett's Chairman's Letters are up on the Berkshire Hathaway website. Marty Whitman's semi-annual commentaries are available on the Third Avenue Funds website. Irwin Michael's (great; lengthy) ABC Fund Commentaries are up over at

• Get your feet wet. Seriously research a few ideas. Buy 100 shares of something affordable. Get used to the idea that you are now the part owner of a business, as opposed to, in Warren Buffett's words, a price that squiggles around randomly and is a candidate for sale whenever its gyrations make you nervous.

• Keep reading. Keep questioning your motivations and judgments. Take pleasure in being alive -- a gift given to you gratis (H. Arendt) -- and being able to reason and think. Drop me a line, and let me know how you do.

Genius; deep humility; an unmatched warmth and generosity of tone. A long-ago recommendation of Bob Bell. Right up there with Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel and Duke's New Orleans Suite. Thanks, Bob!
Monday, December 24, 2007


Spencer Hot Springs, Big Smoky Valley, Nevada


Readers, 2007-8. Panel 3 of 6.

Merry Christmas from me and the Incredible Talking Cats!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

When you see me workin' all night long
Workin' till my stress was gone
It's for you, oh listen dear--


A Quandry

You're the editor of a major industrialized nation's visual arts magazine-of-record. Your nation has a lively cultural economy, with more participants, exhibitions, and events than you could ever hope to cover. Your Winter 2007 issue will soon be out. Given a limited page count, should you:

1. Ask your writers to produce long (2000 word) reviews and essays on works and artists that they personally feel to be worthy of coverage, or,

2. Ask your writers to produce medium-length (1000 word) reviews and essays on works and artists that will appeal to the broadest possible group of readers, or,

3. Run a limited number of short (200-500 word) blurb reviews, two and three sentence capsule reviews of recent art books and previews of upcoming exhibitions, and full page after full page of Vanity Fair-style group photographs of artworld insiders lurking shiftily about, frowning at the camera?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Proposal For a Transglobal Highway
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Anodyne Inc.

Acquisition: Amerigo Resources (ARG): 1200 units x $2.27/unit + $25 transaction charge = ($2749.00)

Cash balance, $226.45

Current Portfolio

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): 3510 units
TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 1109 units
Amerigo Resources, Inc. (ARG): 1895 shares
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My personalDNA Report

Anodyne Inc.

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

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

Cash balance, $2975.45

Star performer Parkland recently declared a special distribution of .77/unit payable in early January, and also hiked the regular monthly distribution effective with the January 15th payment. Parkland is far and away Anodyne Inc.'s largest position, one I will be happy to hold semi-indefintely.

The cash balance has been creeping up as of late. Not neccessarily a bad thing, what with all the ongoing Market Carnage, but I'll be redeploying the funds soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Readers, 2007-8. Panel 2 of 6.

And We Got Nothing to Be Guilty Of

Pete contemplates last Monday's irony-free musical disclosure and raises me:

Emotion, 1978

Carried Away, 1979

But the shop's MP3 player already has the Sang and an acoustic Barry-and-guitar demo of Carried Away in high repeat. (Also Guilty and What Kind of Fool). So here's a great mid-70s performance of Nights on Broadway, whose massive bottom end is rattling the windows as we speak.

I.G.Y., live in 1996. My favorite pop song. Stuffed with irony -- spandex jackets for everyone! -- but the horns and the Rhodes make me feel better every time I hear them. A lovely Cornelius Bumpus solo about halfway through.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Long interview with kindred spirit Tino Sehgal:

"Q: You once said that the museum introduces visitors to their role within the market economy. Can you elaborate on this?

TINO SEHGAL: It's very simple, actually. 250 years ago, in economic terms, we were in a society under the premise of lack, meaning the supply side had the power. Today we are in an affluent society, where the demand side has the power. The political sphere is now less important than the economic sphere in creating and producing reality and we, as consumers, are at our most powerful. That's why there is so much advertising, consumer polling and market research. Now, the museum is a ritual place where citizenship is reflected. The notion of the individual is celebrated both through the works of individual artists and by the fact that you can walk through freely on your own or however you wish. But in its classical form, the museum viewed you as a subject. There was a democratic process that constructed culture and when you entered the museum, you received this culture, just as you would receive orders from the king. I don't think that's the case in our society anymore. We are constantly constructing reality. So when you enter my work, you are also constructing it."
Friday, December 14, 2007
WIDE-EYED YOUNG WOMAN: Do you have The Way Of The Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Woman, Work, and Sexual Desire?

CJB: I don't think so. But I'll check. [Retrieves cover image from Amazon]. Sorry, I've never seen this book before in my life.

WEYW: It's a great book! Have you read it?

CJB: I've never seen it. Reading it without seeing it would be a bit of a stretch, wouldn't it?

WEYW: What's that supposed to mean?

From an enthusiastic Amazon fan-review:

Not only does [the author] unravel the mysteries of women, he has a profound and ancient knowledge of how men function on their deepest levels. He answers so many questions, I truly felt more enlightened in regards to relationship and life issues.

What is a man's highest priority?
When should you start to enjoy your life? Is the time now?
Are you willing to do what it takes to stay on the edge?
How can fear become your friend?
Why you should allow yourself time to discover 'the unknowing.'
How a period of unknowingness can lead to knowing your purpose.
What makes a man more attractive to a woman?
Why do women love it when a man takes charge on a date?
Why do women refuse to surrender? What does surrender really mean?
Is she just a woman to you? Or do you want to change her?"
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Pretzel Logic, from the same New York Rock & Soul Revue date, with perennial Gerry Todd Show favorite Michael McDonald on keys and (what else?) guest vocals.

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Erotic Macrame
Anodyne Inc.

Perpetually unloved fund holding Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN) suspended its monthly distribution today, effective January 2008, and plans to convert from an income trust back to a regular corporate structure by mid-2008. The unit price will likely tank tomorrow morning, and remain tanked for the near term.

I will acquire additional units tomorrow, at whatever irrational price the market serves up. My thinking is as follows:

1. I estimate DOM.UN's liquidation value at between .28-.39/unit. This is what unitholders would receive if the company closed down, blew off all the assets, and distributed the proceeds to the owners. But DOM.UN isn't closing down. It's a viable business that has repeatedly generated earnings of .08-.10/unit. 2007's earnings look worse than this medium-to-long-term average, because of a massive goodwill writedown in the second quarter. But a goodwill impairment (an accounting term) does not neccessarily indicate an economic impairment of the business' operating results. Dominion didn't invest in a new warehouse, new packaging equipment, new climate control facilities, etc. because its managers think it's going out of business any time soon. The company's intensive capex ("capital expenditures") is a signal that the business is relatively healthy and growing.

2. DOM.UN has been squeezed by its biggest customers: major grocery chains in Ontario and Quebec. The company has reasonably responded by shifting its business model away from supplying carrots, potatoes, and the like, and toward manufacturing and distributing higher-margin products ("fresh-cut" fruit and veggies, smoothies, etc.) for which there are fewer available substitutes, and less customer sensitivity to margins.

3. DOM.UN is an attractive buy for anyone with a patient, rational 3-5 year investment horizon. Do the math. At .08/unit earnings, and a (conservative) .50 unit price, it's trading at a PE of 6.25. If the units really tank tomorrow -- say, to .40 -- the PE could drop as low as 5. Most food retailers trade for a PE of 10-12, which in DOM.UN's case would imply value of .80-.96 unit, instead of an "irrational" current market value of .50 or lower.

Perfect Conditions Yield Remote Ice Climb

My brother, Drew Brayshaw, breaks into Alpinist, the NYT of the world climbing community, with an account of a 23-hour round trip first ascent of an unclimbed 1000m (3000 foot) face in the headwaters of the Skagit Valley.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Act natural, like you don't care. A much younger melodica-tootling Donald, with the New York Rock and Soul Review, Cornelius Bumpus on (one) horn. A great performance.

Aesthetically Claimed Thing (ACT): GLO(L)CATS

"SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday.

In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams. . . ."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Read last night (cover to cover, in the tub): Cabinet Books' terrific Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark's Fake Estates. Studs Terkel-style multiple first-person point-of-view narrative; wildly contradictory testimony; retroactively assembled conceptual artworks (which, at least in the view of historian Pamela M. Lee, aesthetically improves them), and some unexciting contemporary proposals to mount new artworks (relentlessly earnest and dull artworks, with the exception of Sarah Oppenheimer's terrific Contract for Renovation, 2005) on the original Matta-Clark sites.

Says one interviewee:

"It was [...] artwork, but [art] that may have been recognized as such by only a handful of people. Therefore, it was of questionable value. You must understand that, at that time, most people didn't know what to make of Gordon's art. Even his friends weren't sure if Gordon was making art or just fooling around. Gordon always thought he was making art, but he had no idea if such art would one day be worthwhile, if it might have a value beyond the moment. I was so daunted by trying to make any sense out of the contents of the box that I stuck them away in a closet. . . ."
Monday, December 10, 2007

"Lisa accuses Homer of feeling schadenfreude when Homer gloats about Ned Flanders being on the verge of bankruptcy. Lisa asks Homer, 'Dad, do you know what schadenfreude is?', to which Homer replies in a sarcastic tone, 'No, I do not know what schadenfreude is. Please tell me because I'm dying to know.' Lisa then explains 'It's a German word for shameful joy, taking pleasure in the suffering of others.' Homer responds, 'Oh, come on, Lisa. I'm just glad to see him fall flat on his butt! He's usually all happy and comfortable, and surrounded by loved ones, and it makes me feel...what's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?' 'Sour grapes.' 'Boy, those Germans have a word for everything.'"

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Love Is (Thicker Than Water), esp. 2.28-on

That funny thumping sound? Hipsters bailing off the bandwagon in droves.

I guess my simultaneous note-taking from Linda Nochlin's Realism, Walter Benjamin's "The Storyteller" and that new Gordon Matta-Clark catalog doesn't cut any ice. Now that I've shown my colors.

Jeff Wall, Dressing Poultry, 2007

"'I think of my work as sober, but I don't find it sad or melancholy,' Wall says. 'I try to contemplate things that happen, whatever they happen to be. And I like to work with commonplace material because I think there's nothing as complicated as the commonplace. It's magical to be able to make a picture that imparts a strong aesthetic experience in spite of unprepossessing subject matter. It's much more interesting to conjure something out of nothing."

Nightwork, 2007

Stephen Waddell, Shade, 2005

Stephen Waddell, Man With Red Sash, 2006

Readers, 2007-8. Panel 1 of 6.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Today's soundtrack: Jerry Butler, Lost
Friday, December 07, 2007
Anodyne Inc.

Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN): 12,346 units x .01/unit = $123.46 (30 Nov)

Cash balance, $2589.82

Q: Why'd you act like such a colossal asshole this afternoon?

A: Panic attack; bad self-esteem; inability to completely verbalize feelings; boundary issues; complex remorse.

Joe Meek, composer/producer of the Tornadoes' visionary Telstar, electronics wizard, apparently kindred spirit:

"Swing Out Sister include[d] a short instrumental named 'Joe Meek's Cat' on their 1994 album Shapes and Patterns, inspired by Joe's 1966 ghost-hunting expeditions to Warley Lea Farm during which he allegedly captured recordings of a talking cat channeling the spirit of a former landowner who committed suicide at the farm."
Sign In, Stranger

From Alex Morrison:

"Read your blog often and thought you might like this if you hadn't already seen it."

I hadn't and I do, especially the close-ups of Tenants and Cold Storage. Thanks!

From Pat St-Arnaud:

"Re: DOM.UN. It has been on my watch list for about at year. At the current return rate of 20.33%, I was hard pressed to think of a negative - even if they cut down the distributions dramatically, as long as it's not zero - it beats any bond of the same risk level.

I agree with you on the market's bad evaluation. Since I'm buying this with little regard to capital variations -- income, please! -- and since the underlying assets of the company AND their business strategy are sound, AND the US$ is showing signs of mid-term rebound vs $CAN, at 0.57 it's one heck of a deal.

Only wish I could buy even more than what I did without being irresponsible vs diversification."
Thursday, December 06, 2007

Test print for Readers. Performer: my curatorial colleague Steven Tong
I'd Rather Be At Home With Ray

K. swears by the voice and the band. And the horns, croaking away like horny bullfrogs.

Also on tonight's playlist:

Josie, live in 1995 on the Late Show

Ellington's East St. Louis Toodle-Oo, live in 1996

Hank Mobley, I Should Care

Wilhelm Kempff, Schubert Piano Sonata D664, 1st movement, 1968

King Crimson, The Night Watch, 1974, one of my favorite songs

Christopher Brayshaw, Readers, 2007-8
Scenario for performance and street photography
Burrard Street and Robson Street, northeast corner
6 successive Mondays, 12 noon -- 1pm
December 10, 17, 24, 31, 2007; January 7, 14, 2008

Deus Irae

Writing a three hour long woefully-unprepared-for microeconomics final at noon under Canada Place's great white sails.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Recent reading:

Philip Roth, Everyman
David Michaelis, Schultz and Peanuts: A Biography
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The River Cottage Meat Book
Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mike Grill, Haystacks, 2007

Philip Guston, Prospects, 1964

On a Picture
Mike Grill, Haystacks, 2007

By Christopher Brayshaw

The haystacks in question are behind a wire fence, and bound with lengths of baling twine. At some point they might have stood upright, piled symmetrically at the field's edge under the pale white sky, but gravity and time have worked against them, and now they sag in place. The bales closest to the ground have disintegrated. The twine that once held them together is still intact, but the straw has trickled out in little dribbles of chaff, indistinguishable from the stubble covering the foreground grass.

When I look at this lopsided spectacle, I think of the top-heavy mesas dotting the backgrounds of cartoonists like George Herriman and Chuck Jones. Or – more to the point -- Philip Guston's endless accumulations of lumpy piled-up stuff, picture frames and paintbrushes and sweaters and bricks and shoes.

The great theme of Guston's late work is the conceptual and ethical bankruptcy of the gestural abstraction that “made” his mid-career. Devoid of figurative content – reduced to fields of thick, muddy color – Guston's brushstrokes churn impotently in space. Pictures like Fable I (1956-7), or Prospects (1964) are best understood as allegories of a creative process at war with itself. Only when Guston violated the laws governing his initial departure from figuration – "opticality"; "all-over-ness"; Greenbergian "unique and proper area of competence," etc. – was he able to abreact the tensions that permeate his abstract paintings.

Guston's "cartoon paintings" don't exorcise these tensions. Instead they treat them allegorically, taking them as the subject and central theme of the work. The abstract pictures' cluttered paint handling is sharpened by its containment in things: in shoelaces, or cigarette ashes, or the stubble on the knuckles of a knobby cartoon hand. And so Guston's cartoon paintings are animated by a paradox: they acknowledge representation's belatedness in the face of abstract art, conceptual art, performance, land art, installation art and every other movement of the moment, but they persevere.

Photography is a depictive medium; it cannot dispense, as Guston did at times, with things. Even a photogram or cliché-verre print is an indexical trace of something, even if that thing is as insubstantial as sunlight, or the sharp point of a stylus moving across a smoked glass plate. Very early photographs – William Henry Fox Talbot's pictures of lace, for instance, or his studies of leaves – are animated by their extraordinarily clear-eyed study of things. Early photography slows things down, so that common objects – the edge of a tablecloth, say – assume a visual "stickiness" out of all proportion to the hold that they exert on us in person. A real tablecloth is worth a half-glance, maybe less. We think that we already know it. Fox Talbot's pictures question the arrogance of such assured "knowing"; they uncover worlds of hidden visual complexity in common things, analogous to those that Karl Blossfeldt found in his close-up studies of plant anatomy, or the ones Alfred Stieglitz documented in his Equivalents, his great studies of mackerel-colored skies.

Representation, which modernist painting proclaimed disposable some time around 1900, proved to be an essential piece of luggage that photographers could not casually heave overboard. Unable to dispense, as could painters, with depiction, photographers eager to prove their "modernity" seized upon two solutions: on one hand -- as in the work of Charles Sheeler -- compositions built of flatly overlapping planes whose arrangements superficially emulate the stylistically up-to-date "look" of proto-Cubist, Cubist, or Futurist painting. On the other hand -- a view outlined by Greenberg in his great essay on Edward Weston, "The Camera's Glass Eye," but probably more accurately applied to the work of Walker Evans – photography turned toward the "literary," toward narrative, photojournalism, and "factography." These two solutions still persist today. Dan Graham and Ed Ruscha emulate the "look" of different photographic genres -- amateurism, photojournalism, commercial architectural and real-estate photography, etc. -- while Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff strive – to my eye, unconvincingly -- to imply connections between their compositions and the similar formal solutions of modern abstract art.

Grill's solution is different. Like Guston, he works with a medium whose belatedness he takes for granted. Haystacks is as plain as any of Guston's figurative pictures. It depicts a structure under assault from the weight of its past. The image is a depiction of real haystacks in a real field, and also an assessment of photography as Grill finds it, weighed down by history, and embarking on a period of slow internal decay. Just as Guston's piles of cartoon stuff are simultaneously representations of objects and uneasy meditations on the shortcomings of the representation process, Grill's picture explores depiction’s place in a world in which photographic meaning is increasingly tied to context, not content.

Grill calls attention to this process without passing judgment on it. Like Guston, he recognizes that his place in history is more accurately represented by images of decay or "belatedness" than by the rigidly enforced hierarchies of today's micro-genres, the market forces that bind young artists into "groups" and "movements": terms that have more to do with branding and economic necessity than with the actuality of lived experience.

Charles Baudelaire once ambiguously complemented Edouard Manet on the "decrepitude" of his art. Baudelaire recognized that the unresolved air of Manet’s pictures, with their abbreviated brushstrokes and quickly filled-in forms, was "bad" by the standards of academia and the salon, but accurately expressed the disintegration of the genre forms Manet had inherited from the past, which were now under fierce assault from new kinds of mass communication like photography and lithography. Painting no longer held a privileged place in French visual culture, and Manet's "bad" paintings were news of this decline. Grill's photographs are news, too. Like Guston and Manet before him, Grill is skeptical of the usefulness of the medium he has inherited from history. But working in a “belated” medium, with all its flaws and contradictions, is still preferable to surrendering to a historical situation like the one we find today, one in which all aesthetic criteria have been suspended, a post-medium phase in which Duchamp’s injunction to “Do whatever” has been universalized and codified as law. Grill summarizes his dilemma with an image of fragments, held terribly and precariously together.


A copy of Deutsche Guggenheim Magazine arrived in the mail today, with a Jean-Francois Chevrier text and good reproductions of Men Waiting and Tenants. That's a white Subaru Ford wagon in the lower left corner of Tenants: I actually got out a magnifying glass and studied the little cartoon-stars ornament Ford ornament on the grille. Not a Legacy, but beggars can't be choosers. That said, a dinged-up Subaru wagon "of a certain age" is a pretty safe bet if you want to photographically represent a beater, and there are plenty of them in the Valley.

LOGICAL Q: The Valley?

A: Five-digit address on the side of the apartment. Surrey, Abbotsford, or Chilliwack.

[Edits after receiving the Guggenheim catalog in the mail, whose sharp, full-page enlargement of the front of the car convincingly proved its Fordness. Sigh.]

Benjamin H.D. Buchloh gets several interrelated concepts right and wrong simultaneously. Text: "Gerhard Richter: Cologne Cathedral," Artforum, December 2007. Colored annotation -- signifying vehement agreement or disagreement -- by cjb:

"Under present circumstances, it could only be expected that serious professional artists, progressive or conservative, would become increasingly desperate to find alternative institutional and discursive spaces to shelter their work from the violent impact of three forces that have dramatically altered every facet and fraction of artistic practice in the last ten years: digital electronic technology, the globalization of capital, and the monolithic power of an institutionalized art market that aspires to a fast and final merger with the music and fashion industries. A market that seems to have turned Joseph Beuys's prophecy that 'everybody will become an artist' into a travesty with calamitous consequences. How is a traditional artistic subject with its latently aristocratic or manisfestly bourgeois ego formations to respond to a situation in which locust swarms of international mediocrities claiming the status of 'artist' emerge now in greater numbers in a month than the total number of artists recorded in an entire decade up until the 1980s?"
Monday, December 03, 2007
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Smack The Pingu

(CJB's high score: 319.8)
Dan Clowes knows the score
Sunday, December 02, 2007

Rackstraw Downes, Two Untended Palms on a Pipeline, Galveston, 1997
Bookworms Storm Mt. Pleasant -- nice plug for (& picture of) the shop, courtesy Beyond Robson

At work. Photograph by Nathaniel Ozunko.

Dinner, largely improvised with a copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 500-page River Cottage Meat Book in hand:

Olive oil in pan. Hot. 4 organic lamb kidneys quartered, tough white centers removed. Into pan. Salt (handful), cracked black pepper (lots). Quick toss. Cider (organic). Splash of white balsamic vinegar. Tablespoon of honey. Tablespoon of mustard powder. Cayanne pepper flakes (lots). Stir with wooden spoon until sauce cooks up thick and glossy. Tablespoon of cream. One last stir, pour onto plate. Pepper. Serve with whole wheat pita bread, to mop up excess sauce.

Lots of snow here, cats peering out through the blinds.
Snow Ghosts -- from my friend Bruce Serafin's new collection of essays, Stardust:

"Tak said, 'The snow ghosts are gonna come out tonight.' He nodded and took a drink.

Bella, who had a big round nose, said, "What are snow ghosts, Tak?'

'You don't know that? Snow ghosts? They live in the walls of old buildings. Where people have lived and died. Probably lots in this building.'

Harry said, 'Old Arlene died last year just above Amir's shop.'

'Well, then her ghost'll be out tonight. When the snow is falling hard like this, snow ghosts feel at home.'

'Tak, what is this horseshit you're talking about,' Harry said. But Pauline smiled. 'Let him talk. I'm curious. So, Tak, do they do anything when it snows?'

'Sure they do. They go out on the street. They move in the air. They go by the sides of buildings, down alleys. They go up stairs and fire escapes. They sit on the tops of telephone poles and whisper your name. You can hear them when you walk out in the snow, in the sound of the snow falling.'"

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