Image: Rope Metal Wood Water

March 21, 2016

rope metal wood metal

Poem: Dead Heroes

March 21, 2016

Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, Brian Jones
And all those Grateful Rolling Mothers
Taught me that play is serious business

That play lives in the moment
That play is life

That an extended bluesy riff
If infinitely more important than a timeclock

That a jiving rolling rock tune
Weighs so much more than a brand new car each year
So much more than a mortgage
And a closet of three-piece suits

That Janis Joplin was more beautiful than Ally MacBeal

That Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix
died for our sins;
that their deaths preceeded ours by just a blink
in geological time

that if music be the food of love
I am obese with passion

That a great rhythm guitar is better
Than bad sex
And that great sex is even better with rock and roll pounding in your head.

Play on, dead heroes
Play on and on and on ….

Night Music: Broken English

March 20, 2016

Welcome To Spring!

March 20, 2016


Image: Kansas Sunset

March 19, 2016

Canvas2_Kansas Sunset


“Kansas Sunset” (2009, acrylics on canvas)

Night Music: Mali Music

March 18, 2016

Relish Burgers

March 18, 2016

This has been a miserable month, to be honest, with a two-week flu followed by a week’s break and finished off with another week suffering under a very heavy cold.  Miserable, indeed.  So, when this morning found us both feeling a lot better, we needed to treat ourselves. So, we went for brunch again, taking the #20 to the south end and visited Relish Burgers at 2290 Commercial.

Relish Burgers is a small New Brunswick outfit that decided to expand into Vancouver — and very welcome they are too.  As the name states, they make burgers and — other than fries and cole slaw — that is all they make. And they are good. No, they are superb and memorable.



I had the Nordique (shown above) which had brie cheese, back bacon, grainy mustard, and carmelized onions. There were lots and lots of carmelized onions which is perhaps why I didn’t taste the bacon. That notwithstanding, these big juicy patties, requiring an inexhaustible supply of napkins, were a delight.

What’s more, their fries were perhaps the best restaurant fries I have ever eaten; they were well-cooked, crispy on the edges; perfect.  And their complex “cool slaw”, with an apple and ginger dressing, was an excellent surprise.

Now, this doesn’t come cheap. You can get a pretty good burger and two sleeves of beer at the Dime for about what you pay for a burger alone at Relish, with fries etc extra.  Also, the post-industrial food court ambience, all concrete and chrome bars, might not be for everyone. Still, they are delicious, satisfying burgers so once in a while, why not?

As an aside, sitting in the window seat at Relish allowed me to see just how much walking traffic now uses that block; I was impressed by the volume.  The development of the Marquee certainly helped and that has encouraged other businesses on both sides of the Drive, including the repainting of the Legion.  Good to see this evolutionary change happening.

How Trickle Down Economics Works

March 17, 2016


trickle down.jpg-large


I wish I had someone to credit for this illustration. Found it on twitter unattributed.

The Design of 2001: A Space Odyssey

March 17, 2016

Back in the late 1960s, I began work at MGM’s Borehamwood studios as a studio runner. These days, that position is usually called a Production Assistant or PA.

I was employed by the studio rather than a production company, and I was assigned each day or each week to work on whatever film shooting in the studio needed an extra body.  My main task, as I recall after these 50 years, was to run off call sheets each night and deliver them to departments around the studio. The call sheet is a vital document on a production, letting everyone know what is to be shot the next day, and detailing everything that is needed for the shoot and when it is needed.

This was in the days before computers or even word processors were everywhere.  Instead, the Production Coordinator for each production typed the document on a Gestetner stencil (hands up all those who remember that) and the stencil was run off on a small hand-cranked printing drum.  It was messy, tedious, slow, and the stencils often ripped, requiring repairs using, usually, nail polish to stick it back together.

I don’t remember too many of the productions I was assigned to, but I was lucky enough to see many of the action sequences filmed for Where Eagles Dare, and there was always the closely-guarded and then-unnamed Stanley Kubrick project to intrigue.  Kubrick’s production took up a great deal of the studio and its lot, and was, of course, the talk of the commissary each day.  As a studio runner, I was dispatched to numerous 2001 departments and got to see much of the art work and special effects being created.

Construction of the lunar monlith set (when the monolith design was still a pyramid)

Construction of the lunar monolith set (when the monolith design was still a pyramid)

This is all a very long prologue to draw your attention to a really excellent piece in Creative Review which examines the work of NASA visualizer Harry Lange whom Kubrick hired as designer for the show.  If you enjoy the movie and/or are intrigued by what were cutting edge designs, do take the time to read the article.


Image: 54 Stories Of Old Ireland

March 17, 2016

54 stories of Old Ireland_small

Night Music: Still Crazy After All These Years

March 16, 2016

Image: Duck In Blue

March 15, 2016

Duck in blue

Night Music: Desperado

March 14, 2016

Poem: The Last Playboy of the West End

March 14, 2016


He stands erect

his jacket checked at the door.

Surveys the floor

where dancers more or less perform

to an MTV norm

writhing and circling by.

With his casual clothes

and his casual attitude

to casual sex

he is already a casualty

rushing headlong for an accident

and it meets him tonight in the form of


a Barbie-doll beauty with C-cup breasts

and a heart full of

barbarous revenge.

She picks him

she tricks him

she licks

his ego

until he stands tall and hopeful.

He buys her a drink and engages in chat

while he makes sure that

he doesn’t smell too bad.

“Come back to my pad

and fuck me,” she croons

He swoons and tries to play it cool

but his head bobs up and down

like a fat man on a trampoline.

She drives

he strives to keep it in his pants

tries to make small talk

but just kind of rants

about nothing in particular,

his cock bent reticular in anticipation.

She parks and barks,

“We’re here.”

In the condo

he tries to fondle her charms,

but she wriggles from his arms.

“Show me what you got to arouse us.”

So he drops his trousers.


His flagpole slowly wanes in the breeze of her

obvious indifference.

Less than impressed

she refuses to divest

the clothes from her blessed


Instead, like a cat, she screeches,

“Whaddya call that?

Some kind of bonsai?

I’ve had 12 year olds bigger than you, boy,

and 70 year old royals making me come.

So I’m not gonna sleep

with some self-absorbed creep

with a prick the size of my thumb.”


He went home by bus

didn’t make a fuss

just pulled the trigger

gave a small shiver

like the third orgasm of the night

It was the first thing he’d done right

all day.


Happy Pi Day!

March 14, 2016

pie 201


For math wizards this is a particularly special Pi Day as the rounded up first four digits read out 3/14/16!

People’s Co-op Bookstore is Open Again!

March 13, 2016

I just got a very welcome email from the People’s Co-op Bookstore on Commercial announcing they have re-opened (at least in part) after fire damage closed them two months ago.

They will be open Thursdays through Sundays to start, with Monday to Wednesday as maybes.

“There’s plenty to choose from too.  The gods may be vexatious, but they aren’t any more effective than anybody else — only about fifteen percent of the store’s stock was lost.  The firefighters truly did a remarkable job of containing what was by all accounts a fierce blaze.

Now that we are open again, we’re ready, willing and able to accept your donations of used books. Drop them by if it’s convenient, or give us a call to organize matters if it’s a bigger donation.

And don’t forget that APRIL is POETRY month, thus poetry books (and plays as well) are 30 percent off the marked price for the entire month.

Great news!  Glad to have them back in operation.

Image: Lines & Shadows #2

March 13, 2016

lines and shadows 3_small

Night Music: Bamboleo

March 12, 2016

Brunch at Mezcaleria

March 12, 2016

It’s been a long time since we were at Mezcaleria on Commercial Drive.  So yesterday, just because we wanted to, the ever-loving and I went there for brunch.  We got there about an hour after opening, and we were the only diners, which is a great shame because we really enjoyed ourselves.

The service was delightfully friendly, and the food was delicious.  She had Huevos Rancheros, and I had the daily special which was Huevos al Abanil — eggs scrambled in an abanil salsa, served with fijoles, toast, and a wonderfully assertive jam made from tomate de arbol.  Wow, it was delicious!

It was made even better by careful use of the taster tray of three different salsas — a mild salsa verde, a rich tomato salsa, and a yellow arbol salsa with a genuine kick.  I usually find refried beans somewhat boring, but the selection of salsas made every bite different.  Good stuff.

Mexican food often lacks texture, I find.  But the Mez’s use of crispy grilled toast made up for the that and more.

Two not so good points:  the music tended to be Spanish covers of English pop, not great and a bit too loud. And the coffee was dreadful.

However, those last matters did not spoil an otherwise excellent brunch.  Very glad we went.

Why Are We Building So Much So Fast?

March 11, 2016

We assume — or at least I hope we should assume — that the development of our City is being conducted along some kind of reasonable prediction regarding growth rates, of population, say, and thereof of housing units required. After all, it would be madness just to build stuff with public funds — roads, infrastructure, amenities, etc — that wasn’t needed, right?

Growth projections for the City and the Metro Region from 2006 through 2041 are officially contained in the Vancouver Regional Context Statement (RCS) which was adopted in April 2013.  For purposes of this review, the relevant estimates are found at page 9.[1].

Table 1

These estimates project a need for 97,500 new housing units for an additional 163,800 population during the period 2006-2041. We now have ten years of data to work with (2006-2015), so how are we doing?  The following table shows the housing units approved in that period [2]

Building Stats


That shows that Vancouver City Council has approved a net increase from 2006-February 2016 totaling 32,849 housing units.

Now, a little math (can’t be avoided, I’m afraid).  For the period 2006-2041, the official projection was for an increase of 97,500 units.  With 32,849 already approved, that leaves 64,651 to approve in the period 2016-2041 – a requirement of 2,586 per year for the next 25 years.

However, we are approving far more than 2,586 a year.  The average over the last five years is 5,068 per year, and that rate is increasing so fast that the average for the last two full years (2014, 2015) is 5,984 building units per year – just about double what we actually need according to the City’s own estimates.

Approved Units

What does this mean?  It means that we will build the number of housing units we need in 2041 considerably in advance of that date.

Building Timeline

This graph shows the actual housing approvals through to 2016 (red), and the light blue shows the rate of building approvals we need to meet the RCS target.  The green line shows the projection of housing units if we continue to build at the average of the last five years, while the purple uses the average for the last two years.

The green line meets the RCS requirements by 2028 (13 years early).  The purple line meets RCS requirements by 2026 (15 years early).

Continuing to build at the rate set in 2014 and 2015 will create an additional 195,059 housing units by 2041 – almost 100,000 more units than the projections say are required.

What’s the rush?  Why are we building way beyond – in fact, almost double — what we officially claim are the requirements to meet our growth projections?  Right now, we are on track to meet the housing needs of 2041 by the mid-2020s; what are the developers and builders going to do then?

Clearly we need to slow down the approval process.  However, the graph of housing approvals from 2006 to 2016 indicates that the rate of approvals is actually accelerating rapidly, with 2016 already rushing towards another 6,000+ total.

If City Planning and City Council choose not to slow down the amount of building in the future, it is surely incumbent on them to explain who these extra housing units are for.  Moreover, I hope the development and building industries are chatting amongst themselves, deciding who will survive the big mid-2020s shake out and who will fail.

I guess, as a final thought, that the City could simply announce that their projections were wrong and the building approval rate is necessary.  However, then they would have to explain why – just three years ago – they got their sums wrong by 100%.

So, Mr Mayor, what is the reason we are building so much and so fast?



[1]  The Regional Growth Strategy is at

[2] All housing figures are from (2011-2016) and (2006-2010).