Saturday, July 28, 2012
Incredulous client can't believe that she has to read "six novels...and three William Shakespeare plays" for a class over the next 9 months. First up: James Frey's Million Little Pieces.  Client wonders: Can they make me do that?  Our man wonders: James Frey? On a post-secondary reading list?
"Both women started crying.  Ms. Ruffolo said, 'John is dead, he overdosed, we didn’t know he did heroin.'  They told Mr. Johnson John was over by the car.  The women wanted him to help put the body in the car and hide it.  Mr. Johnson wondered why they needed him, if they had already gotten the body out to the driveway.  Neither said how the body got to the driveway."


"Mr. Murray and Ms. Kirkland tried to load the body into the back seat of the red car, but encountered difficulties as a result of its stiffness.  Since they were unable to bend the legs, Mr. Murray rolled down the driver’s side window and put the legs through."

"[T]he effort to remain complex in the face of the decohering and literalising forces of the universe."  (M. John Harrison, Empty Space: A Haunting)

Photograph: Abandoned Airstream, Salton Sea, CA via flickr's slworking2
Thursday, July 26, 2012
8am Thursday, dusty pre-August sky. Sun rising through enamel haze.  The flat light picks out imperfections in the world: gum globs; sidewalk cracks; a scar on the face of a woman waiting at the light, troweled over with foundation and half-hidden beneath the thick black arm of her D&G glasses.

Last night's dream: looking in the fridge, among the bagged spinach, blueberry tubs and wrapped cheeses, for a letter.

The cats' reproachful black eyes.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Brother Dru, recently engaged, busts out some Zen wisdom over on

"If who you are is single, and you want to change that, then there is something wrong with being yourself that needs to be changed.

The Navajo, for instance, didn't try to change the world to make it what they wanted. They tried to change themselves to be in harmony with the world.

If being single is a reflection of who you presently are, and you are sure you are awesome the way you are, then you better get used to being single.

Take Kevin Bacon, for instance. He is an actor, so he can pretend to be anyone. His name is Bacon. He has been married since 1988. Clear correlation between bacon, changing yourself, and not being single."

Work photograph, shot to show a client what "VG+ slipcase, light edgewear noted to slipcase fabric" looks like.  Not art.  But I like this one.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Donald Fagen, Sunken Condos, 16 October 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012

I Am in Blood Stepped in So Far That Should I Wade No More

"Any push for meaningful restrictions on the gun trade will demand the full and vigorous support of the President. Rather than refusing to say 'James Holmes,' Obama would surely be doing the victims’ families, and the rest of us, a much greater service if he seized upon this terrible story and used it to educate Americans about the consequences of statutes that allowed a twenty-four-year-old graduate-school dropout to order, online, some three thousand rounds of ammunition for his Bushmaster AR 15 assault rifle, another three thousand rounds for his handgun, and three hundred and fifty shells for his shotgun. Such an exercise on Obama’s part would befit the word 'Presidential.'"

Naturally the cowards over at the National Rifle Association have no comment on Mr. Holmes, perhaps correctly intuiting that their hands are as bloody as his own.

Farewell Herbert Vogel, husband; cat owner; postal clerk; contemporary art collector.

More than any other living collector(s), Herbert and Dorothy Vogel's fine example not only encouraged me to buy difficult works by artists I admired, but also served as a useful counterpoint to the sometimes widely disseminated notion that contemporary art collecting is a activity only pursued by the 1%.

The Vogels, along with other idiosyncratic autodidacts like Donald Judd, Ian Wallace, and Dan Graham, convinced me early on that contemporary art is a field in which one can participate in multiple ways, sometimes simultaneously, however much that might confuse or upset people used to more straightforward labor/class divisions.  Thus, multiple hyphenation, eg., critic/curator/bookseller/photographer.  And as Ed Ruscha might add, & etc.
A Full and True Account of a Terrible & Bloody Fight Between Tom. Brown, the Poet, and a Bookseller (via J. LattaPlus ca change, & etc.)

"On Tueſday laſt Tom Brown’s paſſive Valour being rais’d above its ordinary pitch by a large Doſs of Brandy, and meditating a dire and bloody Revenge againſt a Bookſellor that had ſpoke a few Words to his diſadvantage: In all haſt he runs to a Cane-ſhop for an Oakenplant, but for want of Two-pence to purchaſe that dead-doing Weapon, or ſo much Credit as to be truſted for it, for he was forced to leave it behind him. Non habit quo Reſtim emat ad Suſpendium. However this diſappointment of a Weapon was no abatement to his Fury. He immadiately marches to the Bookſeller’s Shop. Charges him with ſlandering and diſſhonouring a Perſon of his Quality, and Swagers about the Shop like a Bully in a Brandy-Cellar. The Bookſeller juſtifies himſelf; ſays, ’twas no Injury to call a Spade, a Spade, nor Tom. Brown a Rake-hell, that had Trickt him of Three Guineas, in palming a falſe Copy upon him for a true one. Theſe bitter Words put Brown, and the Bookſeller to Logger-heads helter-skelter. To Brown’s immortal praiſe be it ſpoken, he gave the firſt Blow, and ſtrated back with ſo much Celerity and Conduct, that the Bookſeller, who was immur’d behind the Counter, was not able to reach him a Rowland for his Oliver. Whilſt daring Tom. made uſe of this Stratagem, and fought at a diſtance, the Fate of War enclin’d to the Poet’s ſide; but at the beſt form’d Deſigns are liable to Accidents and Mutabilities, ſo the Bookſeller by ſurprize, catching hold on the Poet’s Sleeve with one hand, ſo Batter’d his Chops with the other, that quite turn’d the Scales, and ’twas Whether for a Groat which would have the Victory. A Gentleman in the Shop taking away the Poet’s Sword, gave the Bookſeller the advantage of leaping over the Counter; which amaz’d the Poet perceiving, he Scours off into the Back-ſhop, in hopes of a Reinforcement. The Enemy with all ſpeed purſues him, and renews the Engagement. Brown, like a Gib-Cat, fighting upon his back, and the Itch, or his Fears, rendring him unable to clinch his Fiſts, he faught open-handed, and claw’d and ſcratch’d the Bookſeller’s Face, till the Blood run down his Fingers, and forc’d our Poet to wink hard, or he had Sounded at the Fight thereof.

This, with the Loſs of a Old Cravat, was all the damage the Bookſeller ſuſtain’d in a bloody Rencounter, that laſted thirteen Minuits, and twenty Seconds. Tom. Brown, of the two, was the greater Sufferer; for wanting Eyes to ward off the Blows, the Bookſeller ſo unmercifully belabour’d the Poet’s Lockram Jaws, that put his Phiz quite out of Countenance, and his Face was ſo ſwell’d and begrim’d with a mixture of Blood, Sweat, Snot, and Tears, that wou’d have pierc’d a Heart of Stone, to ſee what a frightful Figure he troop’d off in.    

This is inſerted in Vindication of Tom. Brown’s Honour, and to prove, tho’ he is not fond of Fighting without great Advantage, he can Claw and Scratch like a Tyger upon occaſion; tho’ ſome have been ſo bold to affirm, he does neither."
Saturday, July 21, 2012

Uncle Zip:

"Harrison is often called a 'writer's writer,' a compliment that can cut both ways. How does he feel about this? In reply he describes the 'practice crag' found in almost every Peak District town or village. 'It may not be much higher than this room,' he says, 'but every single way of getting to the top of it will have been worked out over 50 or 60 years.' At the same time, there will always be 'some last great problem that nobody's solved. The guy who will solve it may not be the best climber in Britain, but the best climber in Britain will turn up one day in the summer to watch the local guy who can do it. And I always wanted to be that local guy, as a writer. To be that technical, that familiar with a certain locality, and within those terms, able.'"
Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Mavis Beacon's neck gets long & she bursts out of her clothes. She was a bronto all along. 'Type my new name APATOSAUR,' she thunders."

(thx suz h.)
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
"Book Condition: Used: Acceptable. This is an acceptable looking ex-library book. Besides the usual labels and stamps this book also has a thrown around look and feel making this a good cheap reading copy.  Book Price: $169.95 USD."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): These strings
Monday, July 16, 2012

Kris Taeleman, The Northern Lights from Pitt Meadows, 15 July 2012
Saturday, July 14, 2012
What are Booksellers Reading This Summer?

"Chris Brayshaw [of] Pulpfiction recommends Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Brayshaw describes the husband and wife team's co-translation of the novel as lyrical and transparent, providing lucidity to the oft-translated classic."
Friday, July 13, 2012
Horse Falls Seriously Ill on Vancouver Island After Eating Caterpillars

Best local headline in recent memory
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Climbing Ball's Pyramid

"Bryden at base camp wielding the centipede deterrent spray. Centipedes had been a big problem for the previous party, who were using Alpine style assault and had to bed down wherever they found themselves at night. In consequence they had nocturnal sagas where centipedes emaerged, were despatched with piton hammers, then torches grew ever dimmer until centipede bites and contact led to swollen body parts. We were overequipped and never used the deterrent as we were able to choose our bivouacs on open, debris-free ledges free of centipedes. X marks the summit. The more prominent spire from this angle is Winklesteins's steeple."

The Lion in Winter

"Another must on a Johnson-chauffeured tour was the family graveyard, a few hundred yards from his home. 'Here's where my mother lies,' he solemnly declared. 'Here's where my daddy is buried. And here's where I'm gonna be too.' Then, a sudden acceleration and the white Lincoln Continental would roar to the cow pastures."
Contra Homo economicus (my italics)
"In our main experiment, each toddler received treats and gave them away, under conditions in which giving was or was not personally costly. The experiment began with a warm-up phase designed to acclimate toddlers to the experimental situation. Each child was introduced to several puppets who 'liked treats' and watched the experimenter give each one a treat (either Goldfish crackers or Teddy Grahams; one kind of treat was used in the warm-up and the other in the main study, with treat type counterbalanced). Puppets 'ate' the treats placed in their bowls, by making 'YUMMM' eating noises and pushing them through the bowls’ false bottoms. In addition, children gave treats to the puppets and received treats themselves (additional details in methods summary). We assumed that children would believe that the puppets ate and enjoyed the treats because previous research has shown that infants and toddlers attribute perceptual states, goals and desires to non-human agents [25,27–30] (cf [31]). Indeed, research suggests that toddlers can distinguish between individual puppets’ preferences for different kinds of treats [32].

After the warm-up, participants moved to the testing phase. Children were (a) introduced to a new puppet ('Monkey'), encouraged to touch it, and told it liked treats. The experimenter said 'Both you and Monkey have no treats right now,' to draw children’s attention to the limited nature of this resource. The experimenter then (b) 'found' eight treats, said they were all for the child, and placed them all in the child’s bowl. Next, the experimenter (c) 'found' a treat and gave it to the puppet, (d) 'found' another treat and asked the child to give it to the puppet, and (e) asked the child to give the puppet a treat from the child’s own bowl (see Figure 2). Participants’ happiness during each phase was coded by the same research assistants using the same scale as in the preliminary study (average alpha = .84)."

Secret project in a borrowed kitchen, "assistant" constantly getting in the way.

Foie, North Arm fiddleheads, violets?  Kidney, eel, mustard gel? Liver, Banyuls, candied ginger?  Donuts?


E.J. Hughes, Comox Valley, 1953


Thanks for the kind words.  I am still feeling my way through these new black and white pictures, trying to learn how to compose with deep space.  There has been a very split response; some people really like them, others have a reflexive black-and-white = "conservative" response and don't look any further.  I think of them as abstractions, in which every part of the picture is significant, even the apparently meaningless ones.  Hopefully the tensions of the barely hung-together pictorial spaces imply the social tensions implicit in the real places they depict.

The pictures are made along the Fraser Canyon highway, the former route from Vancouver to points east.  A high-speed bypass was built in 1986 and the canyon road communities are now gently dilapidated, populated mostly by German tourists in rental RVs, First Nations reservations, mountaineers and white-water rafters, meth cookers, laid-off mill workers, etc.  The Canyon seems like the "just past."  I feel at home there.

Another impetus for these pictures is the work of painter E.J. Hughes and novelist/short story writer Ethel Wilson: regional modernists whose respective output is not well known outside BC, but which has been very valuable to me.  Wilson is a full-blown modernist who is often represented as "gentle" and "comic"; her best work is neither.  q.v. Swamp Angel; Hetty Dorval.  George Bowering's very thoughtful Afterword to the New Canadian Library reissue of Swamp Angel has a lot to say about what I think I might be up to.

I wish you would start making (or posting) photographs again; I learned a lot from them.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


"There was another matter Johnson mentioned, and Oltorf did not allude to it in the oral history he gave the Lyndon Johnson Library, although he included it -- or at least part of it -- in his interview with the author.  'Then he asked me did I ever see Alice [Glass].  That was something he very seldom asked me.  And I said [I saw her] off and on.  He said, "How is she?" and I said all right, and then he said something I didn't tell you and I don't think I'm going to.'"
Monday, July 09, 2012

Via @bruces: Asian Smoke Reaches the Pacific Northwest

"The NOAA Air Resources Lab has a wonderful facility online-their HYSPLIT model in which you can compute air trajectories in time.   Well, I tried this for a point over Seattle at 5000 meters...and traced back the air parcel trajectory back in time over the past 180 hr.

Here is what I got using HYSPLIT.   The air over us can be traced back to Asia at low levels. (Think about that when that next coal-ship leaves a Northwest port to Asia--we ship the coal one way and pollution comes right back!)"

Sounds of the Seventies (Special LA edition)

Holdin' On to Yesterday (w/ a bassline that sounds suspiciously like The Bear; compare from 1:29-on)

Livin' On My Own
Sunday, July 08, 2012
"In quite a clever but subdued way, this work seems to speak directly to Benjamin’s idea of modernity and fleeting social interaction, being able to travel without having to travel."
Saturday, July 07, 2012
"Book Description: Ballantine, 1971. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Book is square and solid with perfect spine and shiny wraps, unread; hints of edge/shelfwear. Protected by archival mylar bag. You'll leap in the air, click your heels, and summon wild magic when this beauty arrives at your door!"
Friday, July 06, 2012


ACTs (Aesthetically Claimed Things): Ball's Pyramid; Tree Lobsters

"Will ordinary Janes and Joes, going about their days, agree to spend a little extra effort and money to preserve an animal that isn't what most of us would call beautiful? Its main attraction is that it has lived on the planet for a long time, and we have the power to keep it around. I don't know if it will work, but in the end, that's the walking stick's best argument:

I'm still here. Don't let me go."
Thursday, July 05, 2012
"Frankly—and I’m saying this as someone who is generally invested in the more ineffable vectors of individual well being—it would serve you well in today’s market to accept that the form of the book is changing, and, having accepted this inevitability (which is already upon us)—to allow your borderline irrational attachment to this particular form—which is, you have to admit, almost fetishistic at this point—to fall away from you in flaming sheaves. Just drag all of that old haptic data to the trashcan icon on your mental screen."
Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Work-life balance: I haz it

(Kato Cat via L.)
Monday, July 02, 2012
Jan Zwicky:

"These views, I believe, commit me to an unfashionable realism: there are better and worse ways of saying things, meaning exists and is neither simply a projection of the human mind nor the exclusive province of an activity the Western world calls science.  I believe such realism is the foundation of the possibility of witness, and further, that the possibility of witness is one of the cornerstones of a just politics.

What then is lyric philosophy for?  I believe it is a necessary part of the attempt to discern the nature of the good life: how to be fully human in the larger human and nonhuman world."
Sunday, July 01, 2012
"More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary."

Lytton, 2012

Jan Zwicky: "Loss of the world involves relinquishing control over the world, the recognition that some things (phenomena) are beyond one. (They open on a track of their own.)

To 'lose the world' is, in one way, to adopt the view that the human ego does not comprise the totality of what is real; that the human ego does not have or even permit access to all that is real.  Even in human experience."

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