Cloud Atlas

February 4, 2014

I finally finished David Mitchell’s novel, Cloud Atlas.  It took me longer than usual because life kept getting in the way.

I enjoyed the writing immensely, but I can’t say I entirely enjoyed the book.  I kept thinking I was reading a series of writing exercises in which a very talented student was required to demonstrate his skill at genre- and dialect-switching.  Most of the pieces were highly accomplished (I especially enjoyed the chapter called “Sloosha’s Crossin’ and’ Ev’rythin’ After“) but, while I understand most of the links, it just wasn’t a satisfying whole for me.

We have the movie on the PVR queue. I’ll be interested to see how they handled this.

Transit, History and Culture on Venables

February 4, 2014

About three dozen hardy souls braved the frigid temperatures last night and came out for the GWAC February meeting. I think they had a fun and though-provoking evening.  The theme last night was the revival of Venables Street, and I quickly disposed of a few housekeeping items at the beginning of the meeting to get to the programme that had been arranged by a few other Directors.

We began with a prose poem by local writer John Roberts about the #20 bus  — our one and only bus — that was pointed and funny and very well received.  This was followed by Director Tom Durrie circulating his flyer protesting the current state of transit on the Drive, a good debate about transit in general, and a report from Director James Taylor Irvine on the progress of the Powell Street overpass.

Local historian Bruce Macdonald then regaled us with an illustrated history of Venables Street that included fascinating diversions into the history of Ireland, the cedar tree business, and Okanagan horticulture.  That was very well appreciated.

After that came what was the centrepiece of the evening, a discussion about the Venables Greenway project that won a design prize in 2005 for its plan to develop Venables as a quiet, tree-lined street servicing low-rise retail, light-industrial, park and cultural spaces.  We were privileged to have Emily Chu to speak with us.  Emily had been one of the primary designers of the Greenway which she described as both an entrance way for Grandview but also a living link between Grandview and Strathcona.  It was agreed that a high-rise at Commercial & Venables as proposed by Boffo Properties did not fit in this design concept and would do nothing to improve that part of the neighbourhood.

The main presentation was completed by Mina Matestinic who talked about the East Van Culture Crawl and, more generally, on the difficulties that artists and musicians have in finding work and display spaces, and how the Venables Greenway could be very useful in this regard.  I suggested that arts groups and artists lobby hard with both the City and the Cultch to preserve the Green House which could provide a wonderful space.

It was agreed that we will set up a Working Group to push for the reinstatement of the Venables Greenway project into the Community Plan and beyond.

A very good night indeed!


February 4, 2014


A thousand million slow revolutions

Of our solar mother were just enough

To crystalize genetic confusions

And bring forth the dandelion. The rough

Panache of some designer’s shifting thought

— To sort the ribonucleic mixtures

Into those filigreed patterns which haunt

The wide fields and are the meadow’s fixtures —

Allows us, squinting though we be, to see

Within the window of God’s drafting house;

Or, perhaps better, his fine bakery,

Where are made the visual cakes that rouse

Our souls, the baguettes of youthful romance,

Bread sticks, rolls and sweet buns which fire our dance.