People’s Co-op Bookstore

September 19, 2019

The most interesting bookstore on the Drive is the People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial. They have been a vital part of our community since 1983.  Next week is their AGM, which takes place in the store at 7:00pm, on 26th September, and the following is from their latest newsletter:

“Each year, the AGM offers an opportunity to learn about the store’s operations and the events of the past year. The community’s decision to rally behind the co-op and keep the
doors open was nearly two years ago and since then we’ve been hard at work to stabilize the finances, keep the shelves stocked with new and exciting materials, and host intriguing
readings and daring discussions. The Annual General Meeting also represents a call for members to become active in the life and direction of our bookstore. If you want to get more involved in this coming year, we invite you to put your name forward for membership on the Co-op’s board.”

Joining their Board and/or volunteering in the store offers a great way to help one of our neighbourhood’s treasured institutions.

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Image: Hangers On

September 19, 2019


Diaries As History

September 19, 2019

Dr. Irving Finkel is one of my favourite scientists. He is an Assyriologist and a senior curator at the British Museum. His daily work involves the translation of 5,000 year-old cuneiform tablets from ancient Iraq. He is an elegant, impassioned, and amusing speaker, helping to popularize what might otherwise be a rather mysterious period of history. He is perhaps most famous for having found and translated a Sumerian text detailing the Flood story written thousands of years before the same story was adopted in the Bible.

Following another of his interests, in 2007, Dr. Finkel founded the Great Diary Project which collects, preserves, and publicizes diaries of all kinds.

“Diaries are among our most precious items of heritage. People in all walks of life have confided and often still confide their thoughts and experiences to the written page, and the result is a unique record of what happens to an individual over months, or even years, as seen through their eyes. No other kind of document offers such a wealth of information about daily life and the ups and downs of human existence. The Project’s idea is to collect as many diaries as possible from now on for long-term preservation. In the future these diaries will be a precious indication of what life, in our own time, was really like.”

Dr. Finkel can explain the importance of diaries to the historian better than I can:

 

As a social and cultural historian, I would be ecstatic to find the diaries of one or more of the characters who have enlivened Commercial Drive over the last 120 years.  In some ways, the Highland Echo which thrived on the minutiae of local activity acted as the diary of our neighbourhood. But to read the actual diaries of the local players would be so much more valuable in understanding, for example, motivations and prejudices.  I live in hope that some may eventually emerge.


Night Music: Let’s Go Away For A While

September 18, 2019


Surviving School In America

September 18, 2019


High Rent Project On Grant Approved

September 17, 2019

The current Vancouver Council continues to disappoint those who worked hard to rid us of Vision Vancouver.  In their latest pro-developer action tonight, they voted 6-3 to approve the highly contentious rental project in the 1500-block of Grant Street. Councillors Carr, Fry and Swanson voted against, while Hardwick and Bligh were absent.

As will be clear from my earlier posts on this topic, I was generally supportive of this project but strongly opposed to the rents proposed, all of which are unaffordable to the majority of Vancouverites. With this approval, tax-payers are subsidising rents for households making well in excess of $100,000 and more a year.

How can that be right?


Adrian Mole: Sociology In The Raw

September 17, 2019

I have just finished reading the entire Adrian Mole series by Sue Townsend. These eight hugely funny books purport to be Adrian’s diaries and correspondence beginning when he is a 13 3/4 year old schoolboy and ending as he reaches forty, a disappointed failure.

This is neither high art nor great literature but is a work of sustained comic genius, following the life of a wannabe literary intellectual against a period of British history that encompasses both Thatcher’s Falkland’s War in the early 1980s, the emergence of Blair’s New Labour in the 1990s, and the involvement of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s.  While Mole’s thoughts often involve these larger issues, his actual life is lived within the bitter constraints of Tory (and Labour) austerity and the growing inequalities that those policies generated.

He fails at all sorts of jobs (celebrity chef, author, environmental welfare officer, bookseller), grossly fails at consumerism, and invariably gets the wrong girls pregnant.  Moreover, his family is the oddest collection of characters since the Gormenghast dynasty, even though their reality is drawn so well that many of us will recognize individuals of the types involved.

I suspect that future historians may use the Mole series to better understand the sociology of England in these decades.  In fact, the humour is so interwoven with the intimacies of daily life in the Midlands I wonder whether anyone outside of England (not even, perhaps, the other parts of Britain) will fully grasp the subtleties of the comedy.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the entire series, I would recommend either Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years or Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction.