Thursday, May 26, 2016

from Nathalie Sarraute's "Tropism V"

Underneath this heat there was a great void, silence, everything seemed in suspense: the only thing to be heard, aggressive, strident, was the creaking of a chair being dragged across the tiles, the slamming of a door. In this heat, in this silence, it was a sudden coldness, a rending.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I wish I could remember when it happened, though the date is unimportant. What is important is that it happened, and that I was with my friends, who were only just contracting their illnesses -- politics, economics, drugs, AIDS...

We had heard about the satellite, though it was no big deal. A broken Soviet (Russian?) satellite would be re-entering the Earth's atmosphere and, in doing so, burning up.

I am not sure if we had piled into R's car, or if we arrived in two cars. Again, it doesn't matter. Point is we were at the beach -- the one between Spanish Banks and Foreshores -- but not Tower Beach. We had made a fire, smoked some pot, and had allowed things to settle in, get dark.

O, who had a long lean body and who worked as a lifeguard at one of the downtown beaches, kept talking about the VPD's new hovercraft, how "incredibly quiet" it was, how they would be using it soon, while B, his life-long tormentor, kept doubting him, goading him.

P left the circle of our fire to rinse something out. On his way back I saw it. Over his shoulder. A long orange line in the sky. It was moving quickly.

"Look!" I pointed.

P looked over his shoulder. Then he said it, "The satellite!" and everybody looked.

Coming towards us -- the satellite behind them -- were four VPD cops. P was now facing them. He implored the cops to look, but there was no way these cops were going to turn their backs on us when it was their job to give us a hard time, put out our fire and sprinkle out our dope.

Later, in Bino's over coffee, I overheard O remind B for the twenty-second time how "incredibly quiet" that hovercraft was, and B just sitting there, looking sicker for the silence that engulfed him.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Main Street

When sitting before the computer is useless, for whatever reason, I go for a walk. And so it was that I set out yesterday for Main Street, where I walked up one side of it and down the other.

This pop-up was popular. Lots inside for the gentleman camper. Of course many of this shop's items will come in handy when most of Vancouver is living outdoors.

Book Warehouse got its start selling books that nobody wanted -- at least not for the 40% mark-up other bookstores were tacking onto them.

This unfortunately titled book is selling for less than the cost its publisher had sought for it.

A few weeks ago I saw in the book bin outside the bookstore across the street from this light post (just left of the green awning)

this book.

Further up the block, at the YWCA Thrift Store, someone with an eye for art, design, fashion and humour is dressing the windows.

At the most southernly point of my walk (Refind was closed) I passed Cottage Bistro, where a couple years ago I stopped late one Tuesday night in search of something to eat, only to find the sixty-something house band struggling to play a song based on a few bars hummed by a tipsy sixty-something patron while the rest of the mostly sixty-something crowd was trying to pick each other up. It was beautiful, man.

For a brief moment in 1981, most of Vancouver looked like this. It, too, was beautiful.

Here is a new statue outside a building whose upstairs advocates on behalf of burn survivors, and whose downstairs is still for lease.

Apart from its dedication, there is no text to accompany this statue. But if there was, it might read like this:

"I'm hungry."

"I'm sorry, Mr Firefighter, but my job is not to feed you but to appear thankful that you have saved me from someone's insurance scam."

And now back to work -- writing a text on, of all things, the Mainstreeters. Below is one of them -- Annastacia -- who, if I am lucky, will be at my local the next time I don't feel like cooking.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Filthy Cloth At Liberty Bakery

Does melancholy have a palliative stage?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Victoria Day Long Weekened

Yesterday I drove up to Victoria Drive, where my barber, Amir, has his shop. It did not occur to me that Victoria Drive might mean something different on the Victoria Day long weekend, nor was there anything going on to suggest such a difference.

After my haircut I walked south a few blocks and bought a banh mi ga at Saigon Banh and six plugs of lobelia for $1.99. On the way back, I stopped at a thrift store and purchased a DVD of Gavin Froome and Mike Bernard's Coast Modern (2012) documentary on modern west coast architecture.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


From the age of fourteen until I left home for good at eighteen I would awake most Saturday mornings at 9 a.m., have a quick bowl of Raisin Bran then walk northwest from my mother's house at 40th and Laburnum to the bus stop at 37th and Arbutus. From there I would catch the Number 16 that ran north on Arbutus, east on Broadway, then north again on Granville.

The first stop after crossing the Granville Street Bridge is Drake Street; the second stop, the one where I transferred to the Number 6, is Davie Street.

From the terminus of the Number 6 at Denman I would walk north to the Denman Place Inn, where I would meet my father and whoever he had gathered with at an Austrian-style cafe that had a curly white iron fence around it, as if its patio was outside, in the Alps, not inside, in a mall.

Whatever my father and I had arranged to do that day, it would begin at that cafe. Sometimes for a cup of coffee; other times for a half dozen cups. I learned so much about life and love and bullshit over these coffees, and met so many remarkable people, from Holocaust survivors to African safari guides, from rock 'n' roll singers to former Nazi paratroopers.

At the southeastern end of the Denman Place Inn is a pub that I visited recently. Comox Street Long Bar & Grill is due to close this November, to be replaced with who knows what. In the meantime, the pub continues to exude a strong neighbourhood vibe, a whole lotta love that, incidentally, was the biggest hit at karaoke that night. Unfortunately I do not have a recording of that performance, although the one posted below is close.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Black Lodge

At the confluence of 15th Avenue and Kingsway lies the Black Lodge, a real-life play on the "extradimensional" in David Lynch's Twin Peaks and a nice place to wind down at if the staff are not pushing too much 'tude. It's been what -- three years since the Black Lodge opened? -- and the only thing its operators have lost sight of is the audio, which, in the beginning, was kept behind the bar and thoughtfully woven into the fabric of its surroundings, but is now, at its worst, the kind of 30 watts-a-side, speaker-driven rawk music better suited to hurling one's body through space than relaxing over a bowl of chili and a mountain fresh can. * > *