“Arrow Lake and The Beach At Nakusp” (2008), PowerPoint and photoshop, 20″ x 16″
“Count no day lost in which you waited your turn, took only your share, and sought advantage over no one.” — Robert Brault
I finally noticed today that Grandview Billiards (or Grandview Recreations) at 1816 Commercial has closed. Nothing unusual in that, I guess. Except that business started in 1926 and, until a couple of weeks ago, it stood as the longest serving business on the Drive. (Magnet Hardware and Blue Bird Beauty Shop were also founded in 1926, but they have changed location between then and now).
I’m not sure that Grandview Billiards was ever more than a working-class hangout, with a few tables in back and a lounge/snack area in the storefront. It was popular with Italians when I first came here, but in the 90s I noticed a lot more East Europeans, Serbs and such, looking surly and unapproachable in the front room. Recently it had become a genuine anachronism, becoming ever more rundown as the businesses around it were upgraded. It’ll be another restaurant, I bet.
So, that leaves Magnet Hardware (now known as Home Hardware) and Blue Bird Beauty Shop as finalists in the “last business standing” contest. Blue Bird has been at its current location since 1936, well before Magnet moved to the corner of Graveley, and therefore seems to own seniority right now.
One of the most popular articles in the New York Times this week was Eric Asimov’s excellent “Wine’s pleasures: Are They All In Your Head?” It is a well-written piece looking at recent work that seems to suggest wine drinkers are conned by price and status, but which, when looked at more closely, simply reveals differences between novice drinkers and experts. Well worth the read. Moreover, it got me thinking about suggestability and how it works in my own case.
From the early 1980s through to the spring and summer of 2000, my guess is that on average I drank one bottle of red wine every day — and much of it at lunch. It would not be uncommon for me to drink a full bottle at lunch, work through the afternoon, and then drink some more in the evening. It was one of my particular pleasures. But when my wife entered my life, she was concerned about how much I drank and so I consciously made an effort to cut down.
Now, less than 10 years later, I will enjoy the occasional glass of wine with lunch or dinner and feel fine about it. But if I have a second glass of wine, I will inevitably fall asleep and wake up with a thrashing headache. Obviously, I now avoid having a second glass on most occasions. But these effects show an amazing turnaround in my physiology in a relatively short period of time. Either my mind’s desire to please my wife has had a direct affect on the way my body processes certain chemicals, or the timing is just an astronomical coincidence. I’ll pick the power of the wife anytime!
According to the experts at the US Census Bureau, sometime earlier this morning, the world’s population was 6,666,666,666. I wonder how many of them will be on the Drive today?
the autobiography of a mayfly
would be as short as a page
and as dense as perfect memory
the madness of dashing hither and yon
across the summer’s blue distance
to seek the one mate of perfect desire
the need to avoid the bloodletting wars
of birds and trout at cool water’s edge
to arrive in one piece at the perfect place
the keenness of invention, of new hieroglyphics,
to tempt her away from the maddening crowds
to sing her, to win her with this perfect dance
the sense of fulfillment, slowly drifting to earth
with all power spent, all duty completed
to remember, to listen to the end of this perfect life
In another lifetime — or at least in an earlier century — when I lived on Graveley, I was an habituee of Lombardo’s Pizza in the Il Mercato Mall at the corner of Commercial & 1st. Every couple of weeks or so for a few years, I had to get my Inferno fix. The Inferno was my favourite pizza, with a fierce hot sauce at its heart. The chef, and I always assumed the owner, was Marcello and with his classic brick oven he made the very best pizza in Vancouver, recognized in the Georgia Strait‘s annual awards. I didn’t stay if I found that Marcello wasn’t cooking that night.
About ten years ago, a couple of rich westside kids poured a ton of money into a restaurant they called L’Impero at the southeast corner of Commercial and Kitchener. It was designed to attract dot.com yuppies and similar types. Its failure was spectacular and swift. Pretty soon thereafter, Marcello took over the space and named it for himself. It has been going strong ever since.
I never became a regular at Marcello’s as I had been at Lombardo’s. The atmosphere was set at a more refined level than at the earlier place, and certainly never seemed as friendly. Over the years, on our occasional visits, we have been put off more than once by some very arrogant take-it-or-leave-it service. However, their pizzas are pretty good and they have an inslata verde that my wife adores, so we tried again late on Saturday afternoon.
After a cold and wet start, Saturday eventually became a warm and sunny day. The Drive was bouncing with life, the patios were full, and we had enjoyed our leisurely walk. We entered Marcello’s in a fine mood and, praise the Lord, we were not let down. We were quickly found a table for two at the front window, and our waitress was as laid back and easy-going as we could hope for. The warm air and the soothing breeze through the open window made for an ideal atmosphere. Even the famously hard-shelled hostess was enjoying a brief smile or two.
The insalata verde was exactly as the boss ordered and we had fun trying to deconstruct the dressing. The pizza — half Marcello and half Palermo (the closest thing to the Inferno of old) — was good, too (though, heretically, I believe that Eric’s small pizzas at Fets are the now best on the Drive).
A good time and I’m glad we went back.
The book critics at the Telegraph have produced a list of The 50 Best Cult Books.
What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula “<Author Name> whacko”; books our children just won’t get…
Some things crop up often: drugs, travel, philosophy, an implied two fingers to conventional wisdom, titanic self-absorption, a tendency to date fast and a paperback jacket everyone recognises with a faint wince. But these don’t begin to cover it.
Cult books include some of the most cringemaking collections of bilge ever collected between hard covers. But they also include many of the key texts of modern feminism; some of the best journalism and memoirs; some of the most entrancing and original novels in the canon.
I find I have read 32 of the 50. Does that make me a cultist? And have I really missed out on the other 18 books? Most of all, I am astonishingly pleased to see “A Confederacy of Dunces” on the list. Years after we both read it, my wife and I still throw Ignatius-isms at each other on a regular basis.
Some while ago I wrote about how my wife and I like to look at other people’s houses. This week, Forbes takes us to the extreme — the two billion dollar home in Mumbai, India, that is now almost complete for Mukesh Ambani, the fifth richest man in the world. Yes two BILLION dollars. But you get quite a bit for the money. The 27-story skyscraper contains 400,000 square feet of living space.
From the article: “The home will cost more than a hotel or high-rise of similar size because of its custom measurements and fittings: A hotel or condominium has a common layout, replicated on every floor, and uses the same materials throughout the building (such as door handles, floors, lamps and window treatments). The Ambani home, called Antilla, differs in that no two floors are alike in either plans or materials used. At the request of Nita Ambani, say the designers, if a metal, wood or crystal is part of the ninth-floor design, it shouldn’t be used on the eleventh floor, for example. The idea is to blend styles and architectural elements so spaces give the feel of consistency, but without repetition. Antilla’s shape is based on Vaastu, an Indian tradition much like Feng Shui that is said to move energy beneficially through the building by strategically placing materials, rooms and objects.”
The first six floors are parking garages for family, staff, and visitors. “Hanging vertical gardens dot the exterior. While they make for good decoration, their key function has to do with energy efficiency: The hydroponic plants, grown in liquid nutrient solutions instead of soil, lower the energy footprint of the home by absorbing heat and sunlight and providing shade that helps keep it cool.”
I believe one might question how one man has amassed $43 billion in assets. But, once the guy’s got it, I can’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t spend it any way he wants. Looking through the pictures, I don’t much care for this place but if he and his family enjoy it then good for him.
It is incredible what some people will create from detritus, including, in this case, the detritus of bloody war. Complex engravings on everyday items, sugar scoops and delicate vases from artillery shells, embroidered postcards, and painted helmets are included in this marvelous selection of human ingenuity and creativity.
The vase shown here was made from a French 75mm shell and stands 12″ tall. It is described as “Floral motif with grapes and grape leaves. Top scalloped incorporating leaf patterns. Engraved leaves with embossed background. Shell dated 1916 on headstamp.”