The only urban planner on City Council, Colleen has been an active opponent of the City’s planning policies and processes. Moreover, against vigorous opposition from City staff and their minions, she recently managed to get Council to approve the establishment of an independent Auditor General’s office to ensure that, over time, that Vancouver tax payers get good value for the decisions made by Council.
Colleen is a keen proponent of a City Plan to rationalise development in our growing metropolis. However, she wants to make sure that the people of Vancouver have more say in the future than the tenured staff at City Hall. In furtherance of this,
“Colleen plans to visit every neighbourhood within the boundaries of the City. In each case, she will meet with organizations within neighbourhood boundaries including but not limited to residents’ associations, BIAs, community centers, heritage, and faith-based groups to take a detailed look at where to best accommodate growth of approximately 1,000 new dwelling units per neighbourhood over the next decade.”
Note that this meeting is scheduled to take place in the Activity Room above the Britannia Ice Rink.
Today would have been the 85th birthday of Richard Brautigan.
There were entire decades during which I read and re-read the complete Brautigan canon every single year. After Dylan Thomas, Richard Brautigan was my most important influence. He was especially valuable to me in giving inspiration and value to my flash fictions and poems.
I read and re-read the koans that are the stories in “Trout Fishing In America“, the utter tripiness of “In Watermelon Sugar,” the essential genre pastiches such as “The Hawkline Monster,” “Sombrero Fallout,” and “Dreaming of Babylon“, the straightforward vulnerability of “The Abortion.” And the poetry. Every year I read them, for decades.
He is sorely missed.
I know quite a few people who collect vinyl records. Some, at least, consider themselves on the green end of the ecological spectrum, I am sure. I wonder if they’ll continue their hobby after reading this disturbing article about the manufacture of PVC and the pollution that production causes.
“The process of producing PVC compound is complicated. There are numerous phases, a campus of buildings, tall silos, deep vats, busy machines, as well as many workers in hardhats, hairnets and safety glasses.
“PVC contains carcinogenic chemicals, and the operation produces toxic wastewater that the [world’s primary PVC production] company has been known to pour into the Chao Phraya River according to Greenpeace, which says TPC has “a history of environmental abuses” going back to the early 1990s.”
As in Thailand, the US has a bad history of PVC production:
“In the 70s, the Keysor-Century Corporation, located north of Los Angeles, supplied about 20m kilos of PVC a year to the US record industry. That amounts to about one-third of the total annual amount used in the country at the time. Keysor-Century was an illegal polluter. The corporation had been under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1977. It was revisited by the EPA in the early 2000s, this time with the FBI, which resulted in a $4m fine and public apology for lying about exposing workers to toxic fumes, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and dumping toxic wastewater down the drain …
“During the US sales peaks of the LP, cassette and CD, the US recording industry was using almost 60m kilos of plastic a year. Using contemporary averages on greenhouse gas equivalent releases per pound of plastic production, as well as standard weight figures for each of the formats, that is equivalent to more than 140m kilos of greenhouse gas emissions each year, in the US alone. Music, like pretty much everything else, is caught up in petro-capitalism.”
So, environmentally speaking, streaming seems the better choice.
Forbes online magazine has a good selection of the winners of the International Travel Photographer of the Year. The two I like most are these:
Continuing through my reading of the Best Novels of the 2010s, I have managed to get through Milkman, by Anna Burns. This is an extraordinarily intense work, shot through with wry black humour.
It is narrated by an 18 year old woman who lives in a nationalist “no go” area somewhere in Northern Ireland deep in the violent troubles of the late 1970s. She is considered “beyond the pale” by some locals — and some family members — because of her habit of reading while walking, and her disdain for the 20th century, preferring instead the world of 19th century literature. One of her brothers has been killed by the state forces and another is on the run. The narrative thrust of the piece comes from the fact that she is stalked by a much older man — the Milkman of the title — who is considered a heavyweight member of the paramilitary renouncers who control the district.
The novel is written in a style that I can only describe as being like the constant dialogues one has with one’s own thoughts. It is like a stream of consciousness though with more clarity. It does, however, mean that it is composed of long complex sentences, often in a shorthand, embedded within very long (sometimes pages long) paragraphs. Once you get used to it, it is a perfect form for this novel though it did mean it took a while to digest. It is replete with a raft of beautifully crafted minor players.
One of the shorthand forms is that there are no names in the book; characters are called what they are — “second sister”, “maybe-boyfriend”, “first-brother-in-law”, “longest friend”, “tablet girl’s sister” etc. The warring factions are also discussed by description rather than names — “renouncers-of-the-state”, “foreign soldiers”, “from over the water”, and the troubles are known as “the border issue” or the “political problem”.
The novel tells of many things. It is the story of a slow and unwanted seduction, of an unrecognised withdrawal from the rest of the community, of family dynamics in a dangerous era, of a failing relationship, More, it is a devastating portrait of a highly toxic masculinity and the ways in which women, both traditional and modern, deal with that. It is also helps explain some of the deep-seated tensions that living within a Troubled environment can bring with it. For example, residents of the neighbourhood would not call an ambulance or got to hospital if they were sick or wounded:
“Of course, she didn’t go to hospital because as with calling the police here – meaning you didn’t call them — involving yourself with medical authorities could be considered imprudent as well. One set of authorities, pronounced the community, always brought on another set of authorities, and should it be that you were shot, or poisoned, or knifed, or damaged in any way you didn’t feel like talking about, the police … would show up from their barracks right away” and try to turn you into an informer.
Perhaps most of all, Milkman shows the fatally destructive power of gossip within a closed society.
Well worth the read.
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison? Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another …
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “he who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is a nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
We begin our passage
through a passage,
the passing through of which
seems like a lifetime
to both passenger