The Thing I Like Most About Twitter …

August 30, 2011

… is the fact that I know, for a certainty, that no-one on the planet sees the same Twitter as me. Not a single one. It’s like snowflakes and fingerprints: no two instances are the same.

The Twitter that I see is a timeline created by the sum of the decisions I have made to follow and/or unfollow and/or re-follow certain tweeters over the entire time I have been on the service, say a couple of years; plus the decisions taken by an unknowable  number of those I follow to re-tweet an unknowable number of my and other people’s tweets. That’s the whole sum of it — and it cannot be repeated.

Sui generis, my timeline is unique.

That’s what I like most about Twitter.

“Water’s Edge”

August 30, 2011

“Water’s Edge” (2008), acrylics, plastic shoe, on canvas, 18” x 36”

Great Day For A Heritage Walk

August 27, 2011

It was beautiful weather in Vancouver today; perfect weather for a walk around Grandview east of Commercial courtesy of Vancouver Heritage with the always-fascinating Michael Kluckner.

There were perhaps 40 or 45 of us in the group, and Kluckner led us from Victoria Drive and Pender up and around to Lakewood and then down to Charles and Salsbury.  On the way, Michael discussed how Grandview’s failure to comply with the standard Vancouver grid back in the 1880s, 1890s and 1900s has created distinctive and unique lots and streets — half-lots, extended lots, streets without lanes — throughout this part of the neighbourhood.

He also noted that the rampant and unregulated capitalism of Grandview — so unlike the covenanted CPR lots of Shaughnessy and the regulation streets of Kitsilano — has given us a wide variety of house types.  Moreover, this lack of regulation worked in favour of workers and middle-class houses (of which there are many) as well as the mansions of the rich (several of which still exist, though usually in a different form or usage).

One of my favourite houses on the tour is this one with the very unusual upstairs balcony which I think is on Ferndale.

We were also lucky to have the cooperation of James Evans who is working to preserve and restore the Jeff’s house on the south-east corner of Charles and Salsbury.  James was happy to allow the whole crowd of us into the building to see the interior.

A long walk in the sun, but worth every step!

Grandview Sniveller

August 26, 2011

Just last night I discovered the existence of the “Grandview Sniveller” published by Kevin Potvin (formerly of Magpie Magazines and “Republic of East Vancouver“). I wish I had seen earlier editions.

This is a truly local four-page newspaper available only in print and is only distributed inside the area bounded by Powell, Commercial, Kingsway and Clark. As they proudly proclaim they are “not online” there are “no comments, no forums, no links.”

It’s great to see Kevin back in print, and I’ll be looking for future editions.

Wave 2

August 26, 2011

Wave 2

Update On The Shelly Sign

August 24, 2011

A little while ago, I reported on the finding of the Shelly Baking Products sign on the side of the old Victoria Drive Grocery that is being converted to a pizza restaurant plus apartments.

The good news is that the new owners have agreed to preserve the sign. The less than good news is that they are reported to be removing it from its place on the lane wall and intend to display it inside the restaurant.  That is a shame for several reasons.

  • First and most importantly, I hope we can all agree that heritage is best left in situ.  The sign inside the building is not the same thing as the sign where it belongs;
  • Second, as local historian Bruce Macdonald has pointed out, the sign doesn’t look very good close up; it is hard to read and has the natural gaps of the boarding on which it was painted.  It needs a certain distance to be properly appreciated. Macdonald has suggested that a high resolution photograph would be a far better alternative for interior use;
  • Third, the sign has already proven a draw to bring folks to the building (as the owner agreed on a recent CBC interview) and moving it inside removes that “tourist” value.

The following sequence of photographs taken by Penny Street of the Grandview Woodlands Heritage group shows the changes to the sign over the last couple of weeks.  The top two images, taken on August 11th and 15th show the sign being revealed. The lower two, taken on August 18th and 23rd show it gradually disappearing once again.

The assumption, now, is that the owners want to put a window into the lane wall and the sign is in the way.  Given their progress on the site, this sign in its original spot is already toast.  That’s a great shame but perhaps we can learn from this to better protect similar artifacts that may be found in the future.

RIP Ashford and Lieber

August 23, 2011

It has become a sad week for the music industry with the deaths of Nick Ashford (of Ashford & Simpson) and Jerry Lieber (of Lieber & Stoller).

Between them these guys helped create a lot of the music that was my youth, everything from “Hound Dog” and “Stand By Me” to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “You’re All I Need To Get By.”

Sad to see them go. They’ll be long missed.

Vancouver Taxi Companies Oppose Free Enterprise

August 22, 2011

Why do we have so few cabs in Vancouver?  Because the four taxi companies in the city enjoy a monopoly that serves their purposes.  Why does the City allow this to happen?  Beats me but I’m guessing that if we follow the money we might find out.

Why can’t we have as many cabs as the market will support?  Why can’t we have free enterprise on the streets?

We don’t limit the number of hairdressers or butchers or auto mechanics, do we?  No we don’t.  You want to set up a beauty salon, a meat market or a garage — just rent a space, put up a sign and open for business.  The market will decide if you are one too many; not a bureaucrat or a monopoly company owner.

But not for cabs.  That’s really odd to me.

Arrow Lake From The Leland Hotel

August 22, 2011

Restaurant Notes

August 21, 2011

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been enjoying the food along Commercial Drive even more than usual, and we’ve tried a few places that were new to us.

On the breakfast front, I have made a couple of trips to Sorry Babushka which is on the Drive opposite McSpadden (where the never-successful Me & Julio’s was). Both trips were for breakfast (still my favourite meal to eat out) and I can report really good things.  The atmosphere is light-hearted, the coffee is strong and tasty, and the breakfasts are very good indeed. So far,  I have had their basic “classic breakfast” and this morning I tried the Mediterranean Benny with spinach, feta and ham.  Both were delicious and served with a good amount of varied fruits; today’s plate had pineapple, strawberry, grapes, apple, melon and watermelon.  Herself had the chorizo omlette which looked wonderful and which she declared was fabulous.  Service is friendly and I am glad to report that they were very busy with a heavy turnover.  Their evening menu looks interesting, too, with eastern European favs such as perogies, cabbage rolls, beef stroganoff, etc.  We’ll be back for sure.

I have also made a couple of trips to the upstairs balcony at Falconetti’s Grill.  A wonderful place to sit and their home-made sausages are to die for.  Years ago I promised myself that I would open a restaurant that served only sausages; now I don’t have to: I can just sit on Falconetti’s balcony instead, enjoying a wide range of sausage delights, good beer and a unique view down onto Commercial and 2nd. I understand that the old family storefront that used to be Falcone Bros. is to be turned into a deli that will sell, among other goodies, their various sausages. I can’t wait!

Last week I also tried Theresa’s for breakfast.  I really want to support this place because it is an employee-run co-op, is “fair trade and organic”, it has just re-opened after a disastrous fire, and it is well positioned opposite Grandview Park.  The folks are really friendly and the prices are reasonable. They also serve a good range of teas which makes a nice change. I’m pretty sure they are vegetarian-friendly, too, if you need that.  However, the breakfast I had just didn’t cut it when there are so many other great places nearby.  The sauce on my Salsbury benny, for example, was thin and insipid, and the home fries were definitely organic if earthy tasting is what counts. Perhaps I just visited on a less than perfect day for the kitchen. I’ll give them another shot soon.

Finally, as some readers will know, Fets is still my usual hangout; and the owners’ son Travis has recently added a real flair to their plating.  On a recent visit for lunch I had the poached pear and cheese tartlette from their fresh sheet. I really wish I had had my camera with me because when it arrived on my table you could believe it came from a Michelin-starred kitchen. Beautifully prepared, cleverly garnished with proscutto and red cabbage, and with a creative drizzle around the plate, it was a wondrous sight. It tasted fabulous too. No wonder I like it there!

Motion #1

August 18, 2011

Motion #1

25 Years A Full-Patch Canadian!

August 18, 2011

Twenty five years ago today I took the oath, sang the anthem and became a Canadian citizen.  It remains one of the proudest moments of my life and I haven’t regretted it one single minute.

I love this place, warts and all. Thank you Canada!

A Sign Of Our (Old) Times

August 16, 2011

The old Victoria Drive Grocery at Victoria and William has been a bit of a wreck for the last twenty years.  The folks who used the letters from the old board to make “Dr. Vigari” added a certain something, but not much.  Now, the owner of the building has decided to develop the property into a pizza restaurant with attached apartments.

During the early part of the development they stripped off the old stucco and, on the lane side of the building they revealed this wonderful old sign.

It is a marvelous example of the old art of painted advertising display. It is also a reminder of a fascinating character — William Curtis Shelly.   He came to Vancouver from Ontario in 1910 and within a dozen years had made a fortune consolidating bakeries to serve all of Western Canada.  In the late 1920s, with a group of partners, he developed the first road up Grouse Mountain and built the original chalet, eventually sinking the then-enormous sum of $800,000 into the project.

I have also learned from Michael Kluckner that Shelly was ” the person who bought the piece of Stanley Park in 1925 from Aunt Sally, the only First Nations person able to prove residency and thus squatter’s rights in the park; Shelly, who was chairman of the Park Board, bought the property from her so that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of an apartment developer. The city eventually reimbursed him the $17,500 of his own money.”

He had indeed a truly fascinating life.

Now, if we can just save this sign somehow …

Riot Aftermath: Slow and Very Slow In Vancouver

August 15, 2011

The riots in England  have already resulted in 1,600 arrests, more than 1,000 people have been charged and scores have already been sentenced.  All this just one week after the events.

Here in Vancouver, more than two months after the Stanley Cup affray  — far less violent and more geographically restricted than the events in England — not a single charge has been laid.

There is that old saying that justice delayed is justice denied.  Usually this refers to the defendant.  But in this case it is the victim, Vancouver, for whom justice is being denied.

What’s going on?

Public Dreaming

August 15, 2011

At lunchtime today I was invited to chat with the Public Dreams’ folks to discuss my concerns over the moving of the Illuminares Festival from Trout Lake (see various posts below).  Through the agency of Skype (doncha just love it!), Laura Grieco, PD’s managing director, PD board member Todd Sieling and I reviewed the issues that had caused the move.

Costs, of course, are the key problem. Trout Lake is a perfect location (even without thinking of the history of the event) because it has the beautiful open space and it has the lake which is simply magical with the latterns floating at night.  However, putting on a grand show at Trout Lake where upwards of 25,000 people will attend involves large expenditures on street closures, permits and portapotties.  And that brings into focus two major problems.

One, like many arts organizations, Public Dreams is great at the creative level but just no good at public fundraising.  PD admits that they have not, to date, made contact with some of the organizations and community groups that might help them in their task.  And they have been notably absent during such events as Italy Day and the No-Car Days on the Drive where fundraising buckets might have been a useful idea.

But we can’t blame PD entirely for their lack of resources, which brings us to the second problem:  You and I who rush to attend the event have seen it as a midsummer gift from on high, and we have failed to put our hands in our pockets to help defray the costs of our own pleasure. We have failed to appreciate that this is not a taxpayer-supported event but one that needs our help if it is to survive.

I suspect that PD recognizes that this year’s event in the  concrete and glass of Canada Place did not match the quality achieved in an outdoor space. As I understand it, the location for the 2012 Illuminares Festival is not yet set, and we could still save it for the east side.  But a number of things have to come together if this is to happen.

(1)  Public Dreams needs to do a far better job at connecting with the community, both the community at large and the organizations within it who might help them;

(2) This improved connection needs to include a discussion about whether a scaled down event — perhaps one that could fit into a park closer to the main areas of Drive and, maybe, include a lantern parade along the Drive — might be a better idea. at least until finances improve;

(3) The community needs to show that we really want this event back in our own neighbourhood.  We need to connect with PD when they approach us and we must be willing to put a few dollars into the pot when asked.

I sure hope we can pull this off because I really miss that midsummer magic!


August 12, 2011

I love blackberries, and I am shocked to be listening to Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio right now describing them as dirty and horrible tasting.  Oh well, more for the rest of us.

The only really good thing about working at my old company in Richmond was that the office was surrounded by wild blackberry bushes.  I used to take containers to work just so I could fill them up on the way home every night.  God they were good.

As write this, the best local place I know for berries is at an old house just a block away from my place.  The house is currently being demolished and the ample bushes are not yet quite ripe. I have my fingers crossed that we can harvest the berries before the developers rip them out!

Hopeful Sign

August 7, 2011

After a delayed start to the growing season, this little precocious baby gives us hope for the harvest ahead.

Wisdom We Should All Remember

August 7, 2011

The Guardian this morning reminded us that:

“the plural of anecdote is not data.”

This is Democracy For You

August 2, 2011