December 6, 2010
We went to the movies yesterday afternoon, to see the latest Harry Potter film. I am not a big Potter fan; I’ve seen a few of the films and read none of the books. But the Boss has read them all and seen every one of the movies. She loved it, thought it was just great. It certainly was well made, but I would have had no idea of the plot without having at least seen the first couple of films. As it was a lot of the background story passed me by. Still, it was good to be out together.
We went to the Rio at Commercial and Broadway. The last time we were there was ten years ago when we went to see a documentary about the D’Arcy Island Leper Colony, and the seating was fold-up chairs. Now, I am happy to report, the Rio has wonderfully comfortable seats, perfectly good for a nap if your mind wanders.
I was also very impressed by the efforts they have made to get local small business to advertize between shows. The Van East Cinema could learn some useful lessons from them.
September 25, 2010
I have lived on Commercial Drive for twenty years, and I’ve been a member of the People’s Co-op Bookstore almost as long. Local bookstores, well-run, add depth, freshness and a certain intellectual frisson to any neighbourhood. The collectively operated People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial has done all that for decades.
Although I have been a member for a long time, work and life commitments have previously kept me from being involved in any way other than the occasional purchase. Now that I have more free time, I thought the least I could do was attend the store collective’s Annual General Meeting last night, and I was glad to find that about 30 other people had been willing to come out on a chilly evening to support the store.
Like many businesses, the last few years have been tough, but the bookstore — supported by a tiny staff and a core of dedicated volunteers, and specialising in social justice, environmental issues and local authors — has survived and there is hope for the future. The store has become a centre for book launches in Vancouver, they are active on Facebook and Twitter (@coopbooks), and have become involved in a number of outside events — good for PR and fund-raising, including Word On The Street tomorrow.
I’m glad I went to the meeting and hope to stay more involved. If you happen to be on the Drive anytime, stop in the bookstore and take a look around.
July 31, 2010
Today we had the 7th Annual Dykes on The Drive Parade. There seemed to be about 50% more marchers this year than last, and an excellent turnout for the Party at Victoria Park (Grandview Park was supposedly “closed” this year for maintenance, though you could have fooled me). The hot sunny day no doubt helped.
Here they come …
It takes all sorts to make a parade …
Kim Kuzma played at the Party in the Park …
December 12, 2009
Lina Delano is an odd bird. In her late 80s now, she has been a colourful character on the Drive for many years. I used to see her in Bukowski’s Bar when that watering hole was at its busiest back at the end of the 1990s. But mostly I knew her as the grumpy old woman who scrapped other people’s posters off street lamps. This was serious business for Lina and she kept up her cleaning work for hour upon hour, unimpressed with any interuptions, a cigarette dangling.
Once, late at night, feeling powerful from my poetry performance at Bukowski’s, I saw Lina scrapping away at some band’s poster. After a moment’s hesitation, I approached her and asked — pleasantly enough, I thought — why she was doing what she was doing. She spun around and, brandishing the little scraper, roared at me in a voice that could be heard blocks away: “Fuck off! Fuck off!” My relationship with Lina has never really developed beyond that point, although my wife has a chatting relationship with her whenever they meet.
I haven’t seen Lina on the Drive for quite a while; and I had never known what she did beside scrapping posters. It was a surprise to me, therefore, to learn that she was an artist, having shared a studio for many years with her sister Dita Arntzen, and that Havana Gallery was holding a show of the sisters’ work. I saw that show today. It was, by a country mile, the best show I have ever seen at Havana.
Lina’s work consists in assemblages of wood, furniture parts, doll’s heads, beads, small items. They are large and bold pieces that strike the eye first and the brain soon after. They are beautiful objects. Her sister created interesting and attractive collages. I can’t find any images to share and can only urge you to rush to Havana Gallery on Commercial before the show ends on the 19th.
A small book of Lina’s works printed to coincide with this exhibition included a picture of the artists at a show of her work in New York back in 1966. She was a striking looking woman then, and she has retained a deal of that power to this day. As I mentioned above, I haven’t seen Lina for a while. I sure hope I get to see her again soon to congratulate her on these wonderful works of art.
August 1, 2009
Tomorrow, in the blistering heat of this extraordinary Vancouver summer, hundreds of thousands of folks will line the downtown streets to see the boys of Davie Street strut their stuff in the annual Gay Pride Parade. Today, as they do every year the day before, a few hundred people enjoyed themselves as the Eastside girls came out to play in the Dykes on the Drive March.
The march seemed bigger this year, much bigger than last year (I note that I said that last year too, which is a good sign that progress is being made) and much happier, lively. The Dykes on Bikes group led the parade out of the park as usual:
And everyone had a great time in the sunshine…
My favourite look of the day? Easy choice:
December 29, 2008
In 1977 there was a long bread strike in England. In some parts of the country one could pick up an expensive loaf from free-lance bakers; but I lived in a small town in Somerset and there was no alternative but to learn how to bake my own bread. I remember the first few times being serious disasters with an inedible product, but I eventually got the hang of it. Still, I was relieved when I could just pop down to the local store and get what I needed.
Fast forward thirty years. We live on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, home to a number of bakeries that are well-known and popular across the city — Fratelli’s, Uprising, Strawberry, Aran Spelt, and Pane Vero to name just a few. We’ve enjoyed bread from many of them over the years. But a few months ago, my bride started to bake her own version of Tuscan bread; most of the time we eat just that nowadays. It tastes good and the process makes the whole house smell magnificent.
Last week I came across the world’s most simple bread recipe — flour, yeast, salt and water. And best of all, no kneading is required! A lazy man’s dream. Last night I made the dough and this morning I cooked the loaf. It is great — very crusty on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, and with a clean straightforward taste. I’m pretty pleased with myself to be honest.
September 16, 2008
The house across the lane from us is being demolished. It may well come down tomorrow as they have an expensive piece of heavy machinery sitting in the yard. Yesterday, a crew came and pulled out the fixtures and fitting, appliances and the like. Today, workers laboured to strip the interior, and pull the front from the house. This evening came the “salvagers”.
An ineffective temporary fence has been thrown across the back yard, but it doesn’t stop anyone. One of the neighbourhood’s local binners came by and confidently went through the junk in the yard, finding a bonus of a dozen bottles. He was clearly pleased.
Later, a couple of women came by. In the end, they carted off about a dozen or more slats from the old wooden fence, but they searched around for a long time. They also briefly went into the open back door of the house and their body language was illustrative. You may notice that when anyone is entering a place where they shouldn’t be, they tend to try to act overly casual. A common thing is to see both hands behind the back, and the head thrust high. And sure enough, both women put their hands behind their backs and extended their necks as they entered the door. Classic stuff.
And as for salvaging, I found a perfectly good heavy ax in the lane this evening.