Monday, May 30, 2011
@ PFB, on the desk solo.

CUSTOMER:  Do you have any books on social anxiety disorder?

CJB:  Probably not. They're all at my house.
Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nothing but blues and Elvis and somebody else's favorite song
Friday, May 27, 2011
Day Glow Freaks, makin' movies of themselves
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

elBulli 1983-2005 General Catalogue

"The 1,214 photographs which are included in the complete Catalogue are shown year by year in menu order, and within each block, by family."

Depicted: Sea cucumber bundle with Mexican sombrero of chickpeas and black truffle, 2005
Tuesday, May 24, 2011


"[H]ere was a first for me. Otherwise known as 'insect caviar,' escamoles are a Mexican delicacy of ant larvae, typically harvested from the base of maguey or agave plants. The examples here, taken from Oaxaca then brought Stateside through Tijuana (at $67/lb I'm told), weren't offensive at all, but rather quite tasty. The larvae were fairly mild on their own, with a slight earthy relish that went beautifully with the citrus and veggies, and I especially liked the tang from the nasturtium and how that played against the tortilla."
Monday, May 23, 2011

Frederick Horsman Varley, Bridge Over Lynn Canyon, c. 1932-5
Friday, May 20, 2011
Last night's dinner: hot salty water.  De-podded fresh favas, 45 seconds.  Into cold water.  Shell. (Fingernail pricks shell, squeeze between thumb and forefinger, extract the bright green beans.  About 20 minutes for a heaping plateful of beans).  Shelling accompaniments: crusty bread; Farmhouse Brie; kombucha tea.

Beans on plate, a little green heap.  Olive oil, lemon juice, touch of salt, shower of parmesan.

This was entirely improvised, pleasant to look at, and delicious.  And the crusty bread made short work of the leftover sauce.
Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Large-format version of Boy Falling From Tree, plus a really extraordinary photograph by Heinrich Zille.
Saturday, May 14, 2011

Moving day.  500 pounds of cookbooks + 21 pounds of sandy grey Maine Coon.

(courtesy L.'s cell phone)
Friday, May 13, 2011
Breaking News

We just bought the best collection in Pulpfiction's history.  If you're not in every week, this weekend might be a good time for a visit.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Phoebe Snow, 1950-2011 by Donald Fagen

"Like a lot of ultra-talented singers, Phoebe was subject to bewildering mood swings. She had a rocky childhood, and the fact that she could wipe out everyone else on the stage with one number didn't make her any less insecure. She was the most energetic hypochondriac I've ever come across, searching out alternative doctors and gurus, traveling to Mexico to receive sheep embryo injections, all that stuff. Certainly, she had to deal with some bona fide ailments. But her frequent disquisitions on her medical condition left no doubt that she felt herself to be a prisoner inside her own body, a predicament she usually bore (in public, anyway) with cheerful stoicism. Some years ago, she was staying at our house in the country where we had to rehearse something or other. One morning, she came down the stairs, smiled, pulled up her shirt to expose her abdomen and announced in her knife-edged contralto, 'Mold Spores!' For her, that was fun."
Friday, May 06, 2011
Rodney Graham anticipates my whole career:

"Here's a story [...] that might serve as a cautionary tale for emerging artists: after an expression of interest by a European curator who wanted to include a version of [a] work in a group show in Vienna, I crated the piece myself (an architectural model, a large framed photograph, documentary material), drove it to the airport, shipped it to the museum in Vienna - I believe it was the Wiener Secession Museum - and waited for the stunned response of the art world to this startlingly original addition to the canon. After several months - nothing. I knew the show was over and wrote to the museum to enquire about the return shipment. I received a very harsh letter from the museum director informing me that I had never in fact been invited to exhibit in the exhibition, that the work was never shown, and that they were unwilling to pay for the work to be shipped all the way to Vancouver, only as far as New York. Which they did and this is where it languished in some customs warehouse because I couldn't afford a broker, and where it languishes still as far as I know. How could such a thing happen?"
Thursday, May 05, 2011
"The rules I've made, or the categories I've made, just apply to me.  They're not necessarily for anyone else."
"If I remember correctly we had a huge fight in the middle of that hike; weren't we always having huge fights? You are a romantic, or getting old. But yes, good times."

Jeff Wall, Boy Falling From a Tree, 2010
I don't often post about food -- zero interest in turning Anodyne into a cranky "food blog," and I enjoy eating with L. more than pointing a digital camera at my plate -- but I like eating, reading about cooking, cooking for myself and others, and turn out to be pretty good at it.  Not "professional" by any stretch of the imagination, but, as Larry says, pretty, pretty good.

Here's a few places where I've had great meals.  Not a greatest-hits list, and not inclusive by any means, but if you live near any of these, go now, while you can.

Laurent Quenoiux's Bistro LQ, Los Angeles.  Probably my favorite restaurant ever.  French-California fusion.  Like the French Laundry, but affordable, and weirdly unfussy.

Portland's Cocotte.  French-influenced bistro in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  Three owners, all in their late 20s.  Assured cooking; feels like it's been there forever.

Bo Laksa King, East Hastings Street, Vancouver.  Three words: fermented fish ovaries.  Thanks, D.!

Daniel Humm's Eleven Madison Park, New York City.  If I ever proposed, I'd do it here, in this big mirrored room full of light.  The staff were absurdly generous and welcoming to the shy Canadian gastrotourists in the corner.
Tonight's dinner: fresh shrimp, 45 seconds in microwave.  Toast sunflower bread.  Mix shrimp w/ a generous dollop of Hellman's mayonnaise, a tiny bit of grainy French mustard, some spinach leaves.  Lift cat off kitchen counter, spread shrimp mixture on toast.  Eat on the couch, big rumbly grey cat on lap, while reading Frederick F. Reichfeld's The Loyalty Effect (Harvard Business School Press, 1996), the best recommendation a customer has made to me in 11 years of business ownership.

Last night's dinner: Pot.  Butter.  Arborio rice.  Turn frequently to coat.  BC white wine.  Fresh English peas, shelled.  Wine, fine YVR tap water, salt and pepper slowly.  Shelled peas in.  5 min. Big handful of fresh pink shrimp in.  Slug of cold gin from the freezer.  2 min.  Remove from heat, knob of butter in, lots of fresh chopped dill stirred through, garnish of dill & fleur de sel.

I know it's de rigeur to make risotto with chicken or vegetable stock, but in my judgment these powerful flavors would have killed the more delicate flavors of the shrimp, the peas, the gin and the dill. 

Good last night, and even better reheated today.

CULINARY INSIGHT:  If I make this again, I'm going to squeeze half a cut lemon over the salt and dill garnish.
Man is Who He Hears He is At Keyhole

GOOD CUSTOMER:  Still making photographs?

CJB:  You bet!  I'm going to show some upstairs in November.

GC:  You know, I don't think I've ever seen one of your pictures.  What do you shoot?

CJB:  Uh.  The everyday.  People working.  Trees.  Cactus!  [INSPIRATION]  Want to see one?

GC:  Sure!

CJB [swivels desk monitor around, shows Thicket, 2011, below]

GC:  Huh.  It looks a lot like...

CJB:  Atget? Evans?

GC:  That guy who shot his nude son in the forestWynn Bullock!
Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Thicket, 2011
Critter photos.  Some pretty amazing ones halfway down the page.
Yesterday afternoon, on foot: PFB to Seabus to mid-Lonsdale to Edgemont Village to the Cap River highway bridge to Whole Foods, Park Royal at dusk.  With Steven Tong.
Monday, May 02, 2011

Under Harper, Canada has become a meaner, smaller, less welcoming place. Please do your part by voting for the non-Conservative candidate of your choice today and showing "our #43" the door.

(Image: your taxes at work. Downtown Toronto, summer 2010)

The New Yorker's excellent Steve Coll and Lawrence Wright on UBL:

Coll: "[T]he million-dollar, heavily secured mansion where bin Laden lived was constructed in 2005. The maps I looked at had sections of land nearby marked off as 'restricted area,' indicating that it was under military control. It stretches credulity to think that a mansion of that scale could have been built and occupied by bin Laden for six years without it coming to the attention of anyone in Pakistan’s Army.

The initial circumstantial evidence suggests the opposite is more likely—that bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control."

Wright:  "[W]ith bin Laden gone, we will be able to test the truth of the observation that radical Islamist terror is a manifestation of the repressive governments that dominated the region.

Democracy and civil society are the cure for the chronic misery of Muslim countries that has fed the rise of Islamic extremism. The death of the most notorious terrorist the world has ever seen, whose mission was to create a clash of civilizations, will allow the door to open more widely to the tolerance, modernism, and pragmatism that is so badly needed and so long awaited in a part of the world where despair, corruption, brutality, and fanaticism have laid waste to so many generations."

(Coll's Ghost Wars and Wright's The Looming Tower are models of modern investigative journalism, and important antidotes to the ahistoricized spin of the Bush-Cheney-Fox axis).

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