Busy Days Ahead

May 30, 2013

The next few weeks are jam-packed with stuff to do in and about Grandview:

  • Saturday 1st June:  Community Plan Open House, WISE Hall, noon-4pm
  • Sunday 2nd June: Heritage Tour, 1517 Kitchener, 10am-5pm
  • Sunday 2nd June: East Feast Art Funding Event, Britannia, 2pm-4pm
  • Monday 3rd june:  GWAC Public Meeting, LRC, Napier Street, 7pm-9pm
  • Tuesday 4th June: Community Plan Open House, Tangent Cafe, 5pm-9pm
  • Thursday 6th June:  Community Plan Open House, Princeton, 5pm-9pm
  • Friday 7th-Sunday 9th June: In The House Festival, various places & times
  • Sunday 9th June:  Italian Day on the Drive, noon-8pm
  • Tuesday 11th June: Public Hearings on the RSC, City Hall
  • Sunday 16th June:  CarFree Day on the Drive, noon to 7pm
  • Sunday 16th June: Private Gardens Tour, 10am-4pm. Tickets: Britannia
  • Sunday 23rd June: Shelly’s Sign Street Party, Victoria & William, 1pm-4pm

I’m sure I’m missing a lot of other worthy events in the neighbourhood, but this seems quite enough.

Wave 2

May 30, 2013


“All Over The Map”

May 29, 2013

This month’s book has been a collection of essays by Michael Sorkin from 2001 to 2010 brought together in All Over The Map: Writings on Buildings and Cities (Verso, NY 2011).  Most of these pieces appeared first in the “Architectural Record,” and they cover urbanism in general, along with sequences of chronological essays on subjects such as the design of the Ground Zero site, and the land use issues associated with the failed 2012 Olympics bid.

These are highly New York-centric stories, in general, seen by an active participant in the New York architecture business, but Sorkin manages to capture the broader issues that expand beyond his chosen specific examples.  Very useful, real time experience.  Highly recommended.

Award Winners!

May 28, 2013

Last night’s event — the one without many neck ties — was the City of Vancouver 2013 Heritage Awards gala.  My pals and I won a great award, about which we are pleased and proud.

What we’d really like that award to achieve is to encourage every other neighbourhood in Vancouver to form their own Heritage Groups, groups that will track down information, educate their own local residents, and improve the life of Vancouver by letting us all access the stories that are found.

Glad Not To Be In The Neck Tie Business

May 27, 2013

tieThis evening I attended an Awards bash in the City, the details of which I’ll write about later.  But the thing that caught my eye was the fact that almost none of the men wore ties.

I know that just twenty or thirty years ago, attending a similar event, every man would have been wearing a collar and tie.  Not now.  Many of these were senior architects and developers and historians and City staff, but only a very small percentage had neck wear.

This kind of casualness seems to be standard now, at least here in Vancouver.  Good thing, too, as I couldn’t find a tie to wear and so just skipped it.

Thank goodness I didn’t inherit a tie shop!


May 26, 2013


Streamers“, May 2009, TIFF, 60″x40”

News Addiction Anonymous

May 26, 2013

The always useful No Tech Magazine led me to Rolf Dobelli’s “Avoid News” essay in which he declares that the instant overwhelming availability of news leads to terrible evils for the mind and the body of the ordinary human being.

He proves to my satisfaction that the regime of news misleads us systematically, is irrelevant, limits understanding, is toxic to the body‘s limbic system, increases cognitive errors, and inhibits thinking.  It also changes the brain, is expensive and manipulative, makes us passive and decreases creativity.  He ends by describing a regime of news abstinence in which the body is gradually cleansed of the news disease.

I believe it all.  He’s nailed it.  I urge everyone to read it.  But I still can’t live it.

My name is Jak and I am a news junkie. I used to abuse news through every source, but now I’m mainlining it via Twitter and the radio.  TV is still useful for non-news material, but I don’t get any news from it any more.  The revolution is being tweeted. CNN and Fox are irrelevant, replaced by individuals using instant alerts with links to dozens of stories and broadcasts and background, expanding outward as far as the market will handle.

I accept Dobelli’s conclusions about the addiction’s negative effects. And I will stop.

But not  just yet.  Please.

Lunch With Royalty

May 25, 2013

Earlier this week I had a delightful lunch with JoAnn Bufton, granddaughter of Catherine Bufton who was such a force in the development of Commercial Drive. The Buftons, through three generations, operated a highly successful florist shop on the Drive from the 1920s to the 1980s, and were thoroughly engaged in the social development of our neighbourhood.  If the Drive had royalty, it would be the Buftons.

JoAnn Bufton grew up in the neighbourhood in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, living for some time with her family above what is now Havana’s and was then Fera’s Heating.  She attended Templeton and Britannia School and was a genuine local girl.

0111-1She and her younger brother Hugh would go to the Grandview Theatre where a ticket cost 15c and popcorn was a dime.  On other days, between the time Grandview School of Commerce at First & Commercial was closed and when it was demolished in the early 1950s, they would play in the empty old “eerie” building.  JoAnn told me that the ice cream at the Crystal Dairy (where Wonderbucks is now) was just as good as they promised, and she remembers the horses that delivered milk who were stabled behind the Dairy.

In an earlier book I had written about how she took a long trip with her grandmother, the “formidable” Catherine. I had assumed they travelled together but, in a sign of the times, I guess, old Mrs. Bufton travelled first class on the boat to Europe while JoAnn was in economy and had to get special dispensation to visit her grandmother.

It was a marvelous lunch, at Fet’s of course, and we talked for a couple of hours, full of questions. The joy of being a historian!

The Past As Future

May 24, 2013

Here is the article based on the interview I gave yesterday morning.

It is well done and I thank the Courier for their feature coverage of our neighbourhood this week.

Red Tulips 2

May 24, 2013

red tulips II

East Feast 2013

May 23, 2013


Here is another excellent event for your calendar, an event on June 2nd that can directly assist artists in our neighbourhood.  As the Britannia notice says:

The EAST FEAST is a community meal that raises funds through ticket sales to the event which in turn directly funds an artist or artist group.  The decision on the distribution of funds is given to the community through a democratic voting process.  This FEAST is grassroots micro-funding at its best, relying on community engagement to be successful.

I’ll be interested in looking at all the artists seeking funds but, to be honest, I’ll be leaning toward a piece called “Three Rings: An East Van Big Top Extravaganza” produced by Trish Mitchell with the support of Famous Empty Sky and Avenue for the Arts which recently put on the fabulous “Clockwork Universe” event last month.

Hope to see you there!

Busy Morning

May 23, 2013

bread2Well it has been a busy and productive start to the day.

I baked bread, did laundry, handled a dozen emails, and conducted an interview with the Vancouver Courier about the Grandview Heritage Group.    And all this before 8:30!

I clearly deserve breakfast out today — Skylight here I come!

A Brief Hiatus

May 22, 2013

There I was, blogging madly day after day and suddenly I stopped!  Well, I have been working hard on an important historical project that hasn’t gone public yet.  While the ever-loving is visiting family, I took advantage of the batch lifestyle to spend countless hours day and night pounding material into this project.  I have come up for air now, and it is still raining!

I did take time out to be at the latest Grandview Heritage Group meeting which was fun and highly informative.  In particular, Michael Kluckner gave a long presentation on the evolution of house styles in Vancouver that was absolutely fascinating.  We are working on ways to make that kind of material more readily accessible (see project mentioned above).

I’ve also been busy with GWAC activities, pushing forward the work of the new action-oriented committees we have put in place, and talking to the press about arson in the district.  I spent last evening at the first meeting of our Planning Committee and it was remarkably energizing to be in a room with folks who are keen to get things done and support the community.  I also spent some time last week meeting senior City staff along with members of the Strathcona Residents and the RayCam Centre group.  That, too, was usefully productive in helping the neighbourhoods work together as a group toward common aims.  I will have a lot more to say on that when the time comes.

Busy, busy times — thank God I am retired!

The Big Bang

May 18, 2013

Thirty-three years ago today, early on a Sunday morning, I was in North Vancouver at a friend’s house with a bunch of other folks recovering from what had been a major party the night before.  My eyes hurt, my head hurt, and I was sure that the big bang I heard, and the small tremors that swept up my legs, were all part of the painful recovery process.  But I wasn’t the only one to hear and feel those things, and we began to wonder.

There was no internet or 24-hour news stations then, and it was probably a while before we learned what had gone on south of us.


Mount St. Helens had blown its head off, and for hours we sat around watching KOMO or KING, gazing in awe as dust settled on towns for miles around, gazing in awe at the power of the mountain.

This was not a day to easily forget.

Regional Context Statement Open House

May 17, 2013

I attended the so-called Open House on the Regional Context Statement (RCS) at City Hall yesterday afternoon.  It was as disappointing as any other “public engagement” exercise that the Robertson regime has undertaken.  The RCS is a document of vital importance to the future of Vancouver — it will govern all planning decisions for the next thirty years or so — and it is being pushed through without any serious public discussion.

The Open House consisted of a dozen or so display boards showing information that has been available for a while, staffed by junior officials who were not in any position to debate points of interest.  It was, quite frankly, a complete waste of time, but this is what passes for public engagement under this Vision Vancouver Council.

Also of note, there has been virtually no media coverage of the RCS which, considering its importance, is mighty strange.  A few bloggers, like me, have mentioned it, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any discussion of it elsewhere.  What’s with that?  Is it too complicated for mere reporters to handle?  The lack of such coverage is as disturbing and disappointing as Vision’s arrogance in pushing through so much change without a mandate.

My Loan Application

May 16, 2013

If you have been following the Mike Duffy affair in Ottawa, you will understand why I emailed the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff today and applied for a forgiveable loan.

You should too.  His email address is wright@pm.gc.ca.  Good luck!

New Record For Richter

May 16, 2013

It seems like — and probably is — a dog’s age since I wrote about the art market;  been too busy with other stuff.  However, I could not pass up notice that a work by one of my favourite painters, Gerhard Richter, has been sold for $37 million, making it the highest price ever for a living artist, breaking his own record.



As the Guardian writes:

At almost 3 metres by 3 metres, Domplatz, Mailand from 1968 is one of the German artist’s biggest works and, with its look of a fuzzy black-and-white photograph, is instantly recognisable as Richter.  It was bought by a Napa Valley vineyard owner, Donald Bryant, who punched his fist in the air after successfully buying the Richter at Sotheby’s big contemporary art sale in New York. The work “just knocks me over”, he said, although when told it was the most ever paid for a Richter he laughed: “I’m not sure I should be breaking those kinds of records.”  The Milan painting was sold by the Hyatt hotel group – it hung in Chicago – achieving a price 10 times higher than they paid for it in 1998.

The other good news from the same auction was that a typically unneccessary work by Jeff Koons failed to raise a single bid.  Even the extravagantly rich aren’t that daft!

Flower Offering

May 15, 2013

Flower Offering_blog

BC’s Record of Wackiness Kept Intact

May 15, 2013

So the Liberals won, eh, confounding all the pundits, the commentators and, most of all, the pollsters.    Our record of goofy politics remains unmatched.  With the polls saying they would lose by 8-9%, the Liberals didn’t just survive by the skin of their teeth, they actually increased their number of seats and the percentage of the popular vote.

What is truly disappointing, though, is the reaction of the NDP supporters who inhabit Twitter.  First, unlike their leader, they did not run a “positive” campaign.  Many of their tweets were as low as anything the fundie right in the States could dream up.  Now, many of them are blaming the pollsters for their loss because they provided the party with a sense of over-confidence.  Worse, a number of them are blaming the people of British Columbia, calling them stupid and complaining about the 48% turnout.

Anything but blame themselves and their party, I guess.

Two weeks ago I remarked that this was an election that suffered from a double problem:  most BCers really did not want to vote for either party.  Neither party provided the kind of bold and exciting policy challenges that might have brought the people to the polls; neither party provided any excitement at all.  That’s why the turnout was so low.

Voting Day — Part 2

May 14, 2013

One thing is absolutely clear from tonight’s stunning election results:  the BC pollsters must be clear favourites to win next year’s Governor-General’s Award for Fiction!