Saturday, November 29, 2008

Retail Fail


followed by:

SWBWD: Where's your books on anti-colonialist action?

followed by:

SWBWD: Where's your negritude?

[Books located and brought to the counter]

PAYMENT TENDERED: Starbucks Duetto Points Visa
Thursday, November 27, 2008

WGT just came back from The Lab. Anyone who wants to weigh in on print quality should drop into the shop.
Friday, November 21, 2008
George Soros on the credit crisis and the so-called "efficiency of markets."

"This remarkable sequence of events can be understood only if we abandon the prevailing theory of market behavior. As a way of explaining financial markets, I propose an alternative paradigm that differs from the current one in two respects. First, financial markets do not reflect prevailing conditions accurately; they provide a picture that is always biased or distorted in one way or another. Second, the distorted views held by market participants and expressed in market prices can, under certain circumstances, affect the so-called fundamentals that market prices are supposed to reflect."
The Rising Tide

Grey late November sky, light leaking through in the west.

Clive Barker pocketbooks. The Marx/Engels Reader. Bukowski's Tales of Ordinary Madness. An Alice Munro collection. A Richard Woodman collection. Minima Moralia. Stephanie Meyers' teen vampire books. Van Halen: A Pictorial Biography. The Red Pony. The Bell Jar.

Wired-up old alkie, grey hair slicked back in a duck's tail -- probably the same haircut he wore at nineteen or twenty -- with some suspiciously recent books and a few Sally Ann purchases scattered on top, like cupcake sprinkles.

New father wasting time by repeatedly wheeling his baby stroller round and round the stacks, as if completing laps on an outdoor track. So far as I can tell, this guy hasn't ever bought -- or even looked at -- a book in what by now must be several hundred kilometers of circuits.

Good books offered for sale.

Good books offered for trade.

Middle-aged English man with an ostentatious wristwatch and a big box of garbage (Grisham; Cornwell; Richard North Patterson hardcovers).

MAEM: I can't believe you don't want these. What kind of shop are you running here? [ACTUAL QUOTE]

CJB: A successful one. Good day!

Guy looking for Raptor Red.

"It was common knowledge among his commanding officers and fellow soldiers, the document states, that Specialist Marko, who is being held without bond, believed he was an 'alien dinosaur-like creature, and that he would transform from his human form into his Black Raptor form on his 21st birthday — 13 Oct 08.'"

Thousand Splendid Suns in paperback.

Donald Allen's New American Poetry, including Spicer's Imaginary Elegies I-IV.

The sense of being human.
Thursday, November 20, 2008

The author examines CSA's next show -- water jet cut shag carpet letters; shiny white powder-coated aluminum -- and confesses his bafflement. Photograph by Adam Bruce Abram "Stretch" Harrison.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Untitled (Evergreen), 2008

Stopped-in-traffic street photograph and another digital study for WGT. Late in the day to obtain raking light. Yesterday's crow and friends dipping in and out of the branches and wires, refusing to perch long enough to have their portraits made. Next door neighbor mowing her lawn, the summery smell of cut grass a bit incongruous in the chilly late fall afternoon. Beep-beep-beep of a rental van backing down the lane.

Someone writes to ask why I'm making WGT, what relation it has to its source. I admire the source. I haven't been to art school. Pictures are a form of specialized knowledge. Knowledge's transmission through canny emulation is a legacy (qv. many previous entries and photographs) available, at least in theory, to everyone. (The didactic and pedegogical aspects of modernism).

And the 120 format contact sheets look great.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Production still and a digital study for War Game Tree. Extraordinary light. The crow at right was very curious about me, swooping in several times for a closer look.

A Composition in a Lightbox, Ballard, WA, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008

A book more important to me than almost any other. On a par with the Jeff Wall catalog raisonne, Yoshitoshi's 100 Aspects of the Moon, and MJH's Light.
Sunday, November 16, 2008

This just in from the national desk:

Donald Fagen Defends Steely Dan to Friends

"Though Fagen remains loyal to Steely Dan and more or less has reverence for the band's entire catalog, he said that he is the first to admit the shortcomings of the music.

'No one knows better than I do that this stuff can get extremely self-indulgent,' Fagen said. 'And, yes, I realize that all the preciousness and apparent awe at its own cleverness can be a little too much to stomach sometimes. Hell, some of Gaucho is even too goddamned smooth for me.'"


"Fan Sees Chunk of Wellmont Fall on Vocalist

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Interesting tidbit this morning from a tipster who attended the Wolf Parade concert last night at the Wellmont. Apparently, a chunk of the massively renovated building's ceiling fell during the performance ... on the stage, no less.

In the middle of Wolf Parade's performance, a small chunk of the ceiling fell on the lead vocalist, Spencer Krug, and his keyboard. It didn't hurt him, but his keyboard was a mess. Dan Boeckner, the main guitarist, responded: 'If we don't die tonight, Steely Dan is dying tomorrow.'

Steely Dan plays the Wellmont next Monday and Tuesday. . . ."
Saturday, November 15, 2008

To the polling station in the retirement centre lobby, to do my civic duty. Long line-up. Total confusion. Peppy university-age kids, each equipped with a POLL CLERK nametag, attempting to explain both sides of the 8" x 14" ballot to folks with limited problem-solving skills.

BALLOT INSTRUCTIONS: Elect 1 Mayor, 10 Councillors, 7 Park Commissioners, 9 School Trustees. . . .

LOST WOMAN [gesturing at her entire ballot]: So I elect one of these people mayor?

POLL CLERK: No, just the names listed under "Mayor." These folks [indicating prospective "Councillors," "Park Commissioners" etc.] aren't running for mayor.

LOST WOMAN: Don't get snippy with me!

Line-up to receive a ballot and a special marking pen. Line-up for the flimsy cardboard "voting booths" that supposedly protect one's privacy and independent judgement.

CJB: Look, can I just mark my ballot in line and get out of here?


Argument between two guys marking their ballots ahead of me in the line-up:

OLD MAN [of younger man's choice for mayor]: He's a communist!

YOUNG MAN: Who asked you? Mind your own fucking business.

OLD MAN: I'm going to have you removed!

CJB: Sir. Could you dial it down, please? I'm trying to mark my ballot.

OLD MAN: You too! You...communist!

Vision Vancouver candidates. An NPA candidate. A Green Party candidate. Work Less Party candidates. COPE candidates.

Lineup for the automatic ballot-counting machine, currently DOA. Think R2D2 or a high school library photocopier, with various drawers opened, rollers rolled, circuitboards exposed, etc. Several POLL CLERKS hover anxiously nearby while a RETURNING OFFICER makes a frantic how-the-hell-do-I-fix-this? cell phone call to Election HQ.

GUY IN LINEUP: What do I do with my ballot?

POLL CLERK [indicating dark slot in defunct ballot-counting machine]: Just shove it in there.

CRANKY OLD MAN: This reminds me of the US of A! Dick Cheney's gonna steal this one for Peter Ladner! Just you wait!

IRATE LINEUP GUY: I'm not leaving until my vote is properly recorded!

CRANKY OLD MAN: Florida vote fraud. . .black helicopters...New World Order...barcodes...9/11...AntiChrist.

PREVIOUS OLD MAN [in background]: Communists!

CJB's SWEETIE "L." [waiting patiently, at the car]: So did you have fun voting?

CJB: What a gong show. The stuffed pussycats could run an election more effectively than the City of Vancouver.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

John Divola in conversation with Jan Tumlir:

"I was a student at UCLA, living in Reseda. I was studying with Robert Heineken. At the time, nobody in the UCLA photography department had a camera, or if they had one, they didn’t use it. Everyone was doing gum-prints and blueprints, and so was I initially, and I remember looking at this gum-print I’d just made—it had this fetus floating in air along with elephants and so on, and I thought to myself, 'Why should I care about any of these things?' I didn’t have any answers for why I had chosen this iconography other than that it was vaguely fantastic. So I decided that I would start photographing my neighborhood because at least it had an immediate connection to me.

Initially, I thought up the conceit that I’d been dropped from outer space, that I would be completely objective. But, of course, I had no criteria for this objectivity, and I wound up being formal. I made photographs of abstract garage-door designs, bushes next to other bushes that made interesting formal patterns. Then, at some point, I became interested in images of women watering their lawns; I gave up on objectivity and totally dove into subjectivity. . . ."
Monday, November 10, 2008

(via a FB friend)
Monday Morning, Vancouver

Two Yaletown women walk a wee white wooly accessory dog on a very long leash, like tugs towing a barge. They pass a young bearded Quebecois guy sitting crosslegged on the sidewalk, brown felt spare-change hat upturned on the ground before him. No eye contact, no recognition. They walk on. The dog trots up, sniffs the Quebecois guy. He smiles, ruffles the dog's head. Visibly pleased, the dog scrambles into the guy's hat. Squats. Shits. You fill in the rest.
Sunday, November 09, 2008

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Per Kirkby's "moving picture" chapter heads, from Lars Von Trier's Breaking The Waves. Seeing them strung together like this blunts their impact; they're really meant to be seen on a big screen, seperated by fifteen or twenty minutes of gruelling handheld video. These had an enormous effect on me when I first saw them, easily equal to The Crooked Path or to Rackstraw Downes' paintings.
CJB: "Art is a social construct, one with its own history of judgment, with which any artist worthy of the name must be intimately acquainted. Thierry de Duve, the best living art critic I know, calls this history the 'jurisprudence' of art, and suggests that, just as lawyers study the structure and logic of historical judgments, artists must familiarize themselves with the evidence and decision-making processes by which a work like Duchamp’s Fountain was first accepted as art. For artworks, at least ones that participate in the modernist tradition, are experimental propositions that put the whole concept of art into question."
"She said, 'We're alike. We weren't before, you were holding back, but now we are. You and I.' She said, 'Could you pass out complimentary tropical punch in little plastic cups? That's my alternative and it's unacceptable.'"
Today's soundtrack: Spoon, Rhythm & Soul

Light rain, diffuse grey light, yellow leaves.

Writing: Aesthetic Judgement and The Representation of the Everyday, for Jen.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Lloyd Charmers, Darker Than Blue
Thursday, November 06, 2008
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Jeff Wall, Basin in Rome 1, 2005. On display at the VAG through January, along with several other pictures I've only ever seen in reproduction, including War Game, 2007 (qv. numerous previous entries). I spent fifteen or twenty minutes with Basin, which tells me that art isn't for everybody, but it is for everyone. And inexhaustible.

Jurassic Park (& Jasper Johns) Author Michael Crichton Dies

...of embarrassment.

Via L., via Best of Local Internets Buy and Sell:

"Seeking a sexual tyrannosaur for a romp in the park - w4m

I am a very career-focused, attractive, 5'9, 120lb woman who is seeking a man who is willing to fulfill my ultimate sexual fantasy. I am an executive with a very successful corporation that keeps me very busy and I sometimes have difficulty finding men who share similar interests to my own in the bedroom.

Nothing turns me on more then Jurassic Park themed role play. You must be the animatronic dinosaur, and I must be the helpless child (Tim or Lex) stuck in the park at your mercy.

You will growl mechanically into my ear and stare threateningly. I will feign panic and search for the flash light in the back seat of the visitor jeep. You will sniff at the window slowly and then release a robotic roar into the night air. I scream for Alan Grant, but your over sized robot jaws come crashing down through the overhead window, pinning me to the floor.

I cannot stress this enough however, you must play as a ROBOTIC dinosaur. This is very specific, my interest lie entirely in animatronic dinosaurs, not real ones. I thought I should mention this as there have been unfortunate miscommunications in the past, leading to performances that have left me without an orgasm.

Other situations could include you being the dilophasaurus and spitting in my face and then going for my jugular. Or you could be the ill and moaning triceratops, and I would be Ellie Sadler, digging through your stool to find the source of the ailment. More or less any scene from the film involving a mechanical dinosaur interacting with a human will do fine.

I don't like wasting my time, so make sure you do your homework and watch the film and make sure you can fully embrace the mindset of an animatronic dinosaur. I am an incredibly sexual person and I would make it a blockbuster night that you would never forget."

Ballard's bookstores and cupcake cafes pinch out southwest of town. Past Archie McPhee's red blinking neon sign, low-rise residential slides past in the twilight.

The locks' $5 parking is deserted, save for an idling police cruiser, interior light on. An illuminated cop does paperwork, occasionally sipping from a thermos or flask.

Huge masses of disturbed black air linger over Lynnwood. (The sense of looking deep into Mordor).

The Ship Canal's smooth surface flecked with raindrops. Wet salt-smell in the air.

The rail bridge's elevated trestle descends through the falling dark, silently at first, then settles, creaking and groaning, into place.

A ragged line of seagulls flies fast and low upstream.

Rain, heavier now.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The World-Eater

Via Jamie Tolagson:

"Dan Dunlap (AKA Dragon Dan), cartoonist and Bolen Books employee, shows off his Hallowe'en costume for the cameras.

He worked the floor in it on Hallowe'en day, stopping occasionally to have his photo taken with starry eyed kids. It's all cardboard and he made the whole thing in one night.

I thought he should have had little popcorn balls in his pocket that had been painted with food colouring to resemble planets, so he could snack on worlds throughout the day."

Via the New Yorker's George Packer:

"In The Audacity of Hope [Obama] quotes the investor Warren Buffett—who’s since become a[] supporter and adviser—saying something similar in a comment about his fellow billionaires:
They have this idea that it’s “their money” and they deserve to keep every penny of it. What they don’t factor in is all the public investment that lets us live the way we do. Take me as an example. I happen to have a talent for allocating capital. But my ability to use that talent is completely dependent on the society I was born into. If I’d been born into a tribe of hunters, this talent of mine would be pretty worthless. I can’t run very fast. I’m not particularly strong. I’d probably end up as some wild animal’s dinner. But I was lucky enough to be born into a time and place where society values my talent, and gave me a good education to develop that talent, and set up the laws and the financial system to let me do what I love doing—and make a lot of money doing it. The least I can do is help pay for all that.
What this suggests isn’t socialism, but wisdom."

When The Fog
by August Kleinzahler

When the fog burnt off this morning
Outsize JumboTron screens were hanging off the clouds,
Scores of them, huge, acres and acres of screen,
Images trembling,
Pixels the size of wagon wheels, damaged, flickering
Off and on, red, blue and green;
Faces, flags, county fairs — like pointillist cartoons,
Melting away, reconstituting,
A continuously mutating liquid crystal montage:

The old warrior’s frozen grin,
The popped, saffron Star Trek collar,
Critter lipstick,
Kawasaki 704 eyeglasses,
Disembodied, like the Cheshire Cat’s smile,
And there, the golden one, the adored, in silhouette,
Drinking it in behind bulletproof glass;
Crowds, crowds in hats, t-shirts, delirious,
With drumsticks and banners —
Galvanically us,
Us whom we’ve been waiting for,
All of it smearing into vibrating puddles of color,
Then dissolving, like jet exhaust, into the air.

While outside the streets were empty.
Who is to say where everyone has gone?
Only the occasional sound truck, its barked entreaties
Too garbled to make out.
Then quiet.
Two scrub jays making a racket in the honey locust.
Sky darkening as weather gathers off the coast.
Quiet as an abandoned summer playhouse.

MR. OBAMA: What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.

And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let's remember that it was a man from [Illinois] who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House -- a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. (Cheers, applause.)

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, 'We are not enemies, but friends -- though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.' And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too. (Cheers, applause.)
Monday, November 03, 2008

Stan Douglas, Abbott and Cordova, 7 August 1971, 2008

Stan Douglas, Hastings Park, 16 July 1955, 2008

Two new Vancouver-themed photographs, usefully compared with each other. Abbott and Cordova's overt digital manipulation (punched-up lighting; the three figures forming the triangle in the center of the picture that are literally cut-and-pasted into the intersection's deep space) is an aesthetic error, an unneccessary attempt to undercut the naturalism of the figures' gestures and poses by foregrounding them as "elements in a composition." This is a "strategy" that the Metro Pictures crowd tried out in the 1980s, and one that Gregory Crewdson -- the worst living artist-photographer I know -- has built a whole career around. But pictorial representation itself provides plenty of tools to undercut the artifice of representational illusion. Theatrical lighting gels, digital "seams", "the representation of representation," etc. just get in the way. And Douglas knows this. Just look at the man with the shades at the upper left hand corner of Hastings Park. He's a spectator, just one of the crowd, but he's not following the horses, he's watching us watch the photograph. The medium is studying us, like the planet in Lem's Solaris.


RIP: Wallis Warfield Simpson Windsor Helps-English, honorary Team Cat member and ace Pulpfiction rodent eradication specialist (scroll, 22 April 2007). A tiny little talkative cat whose self-image was always Buffy, Boudica, Joan of Arc, & etc. That pink catnip mouse has no idea that it's momentarily going to be chewed and kicked to pieces, though its startled eyes do betray some subconscious awareness of Nemesis looming nearby, clip-clip-clipping her shears. . . .
Sunday, November 02, 2008

Deep Sea? More like Back Lot or Hard Drive. Still pretty impressive, even if it's all just blue-screen magic, the light from the diver's lamp tracing the length of that scarred and muscular hide.
Saturday, November 01, 2008

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