Nakba Day 2022

May 15, 2022

On Nakba Day — the day of the catastrophe — we remember the millions of Palestinians violently displaced from their homes at the creation of Israel in 1948.

We remember this year with especial importance as the carnage continues in full force this week and every week, and celebrate the Palestinians who have survived almost 75 years of State-sponsored apartheid, genocide, and general brutality at the hands of a regime financed and supported by almost every Western government. and media organization


Snacks Tonight #50

May 14, 2022

Tiramisu for the weekend!


Britannia Renewal Open Houses

May 14, 2022

Getting to the nitty-gritty of renewal issues. If you are interested …

There is more information at https://britanniarenewal.org/


Rally At City Hall

May 3, 2022


International Day of the Worker

May 1, 2022

 

In most parts of the world, May 1st is recognized as the International Day of the Worker and we celebrate it as such. Labor Day in September is a North American tradition, encouraged by President Grover Cleveland so as to distance American labour from socialists and anarchists.


GWAC and CoV’s Head of Planning

April 26, 2022

..


A New Socialist Party

April 25, 2022

.

On May Day, at Grandview Park at 12:30pm, yet another civic political party makes its entry onto the stage. This time it is a new party with an old name, Socialists.

Everyone is invited to their founding launch.


Deconstructing Constructivism

April 24, 2022

Christie’s online magazine has a useful guide to the movement that began in revolutionary Russia and swept across the world with far greater success than the politics of the same origin.

“As supporters of the political ideologies propagated by Russian revolutionaries, Constructivists imagined art as an active agent in the Socialist cause. Art should reflect the modern industrial world, and, above all, be accessible to the masses. Members of the group strived to make art that was relevant in a rapidly changing world, that was free from academic tradition, and devoid of any emotive or subjective properties.”

“Constructivists considered their art a product of an industrial order, rather than a unique commodity, and a precursor to the factory-produced mass-made object. They often explored collective ways of working, and regarded the object-maker as a builder or engineer rather than as an individual artist … Many of their works, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional in form, are characterised by their austere, angular geometric shapes.”

Their influence in early Soviet life was profound.

Textile designs by Varvara Stepanova

However, after Stalin suppressed the Constructivists, the movement moved abroad influencing the Bauhaus, De Stijil, Zero, and Geometric schools through the 1980s.  The precepts of the movement has inspired artists such as Paul Klee, Piet Mondran, Vasily Kandinsky.

Peter Struyken, “Structuur II” (1969)

Does Constructivism survive today?

“Absolutely. Constructivism has influenced many contemporary artists making art with computer programmes, with a lot of today’s abstract art having roots in the Constructivist movement of the 1970s.”

A useful article.


Night Music: Talking About A Revolution

April 22, 2022

Black Dog Video Closing

April 14, 2022

.

I am old enough to remember when there was a video rental store on every street in virtually every city, town and village. Now, they are nearly all gone.

I mention this having just read a newsletter from Black Dog Video, 1470 Commercial, announcing that they too will be closing after more than 16 years on the Drive, driven away by high rents and competition from streaming services.

To be honest, I am one of the reasons they are closing — it is a very long time since I rented a video, content to consume my movies through the internet and the streamers. However, it is always a shame to lose a long-established business from the Drive and I am sure they will be missed by their loyal clients.


WE Should Decide On An Olympics Bid

April 9, 2022

.

Next Tuesday, Councillor Colleen Hardwick’s motion on getting voter approval for any new Olympics bid will come before Council. Mayor Kennedy Stewart has intimated that we should have no say in the matter even though it will likely cost Vancouver tax payers billions of dollars, and remembering that we still have no idea what the 2010 Olympics cost because of a secret deal to hide the figures until at least 2025.

Hardwick’s motion is simple: She asks that we all get a chance to have a vote on the matter during the October civic elections. The question she wants on the ballot paper is equally simple and neutral:

“Do you support or do you oppose the City of Vancouver’s participation in hosting the 2030 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games?

_ YES, I support the City of Vancouver’s participation.

_ NO, I oppose the City of Vancouver’s participation.”

The full text of the Motion is here:

 https://council.vancouver.ca/20220412/documents/b4.pdf

Given the Mayor’s opposition to public participation in this decision, there is a chance that even this motion might not be allowed to be discussed. That is unless we the public make sure the Council know that we want and need to be consulted on how our money is spent.

Therefore, whether you support the Olympics or not, I urge you to email City Council demanding that we have a say in this decision during the next municipal election and supporting the Motion. Your email must arrive before Council starts to sit on Tuesday 11th April. Please copy it to:

kennedy.stewart@vancouver.ca; CLRbligh@vancouver.ca; CLRboyle@vancouver.ca; CLRcarr@vancouver.ca; CLRdegenova@vancouver.ca; CLRdominato@vancouver.ca; CLRfry@vancouver.ca; CLRhardwick@vancouver.ca; CLRkirby-yung@vancouver.ca; CLRswanson@vancouver.ca; CLRwiebe@vancouver.ca


Dinner Tonight #77

April 5, 2022

Pork chops with brandied cherries (actually I ran out of brandy so used rum).


How Bloated IS Vancouver City Hall?

March 24, 2022

.

The always excellent CityHallWatch has published the latest “sunshine” list of Vancouver City staffers. Almost 1,800 of them make more than $100,000 a year, and 19 make more than $200,000 a year. It is no wonder they seem tone-deaf to the needs of residents for whom the median income is closer to $50,000.

The publication of the list prompted me to compare Vancouver’s civic staff and costs against those of Toronto which has a population of almost 2.8 million, many times larger than the 663,000 in Vancouver.

  • Toronto’s staff costs for 2021 were $883,546,834 or about $317 per resident.
  • Vancouver’s staff costs for 2021 were $586,049,613 or about $885 per resident.

Toronto’s civic staff totals 7,239 employees, while Vancouver is budgeting to employ 8,798 in 2022.

Who do you think is getting a more efficient service for your tax dollars?


A Record for Chardin

March 24, 2022

.

When I was a boy, one of the first artists who’s work I fell in love with was Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, master of still life and portraiture. I saw his work in the National Gallery in London and the Louvre and was enchanted by his style.

However, to be honest, I haven’t thought of him in years. So a flood of great memories overtook me when reading today that his wonderful 1761 painting of a basket of strawberries …

…. had sold this month for €24 million: a record price for a Chardin or, indeed, for any 18th century French artist, and way above the €15 million pre-sale estimate.

It is good to know that such splendid workmanship never goes out of style.


Snacks Tonight #49

March 23, 2022

.

I’m not sure what call these — apple slices? — but they were so easy to make that I got it done before 8 this morning.


Translink is Tone Deaf

March 22, 2022

.

I’ll state my position right up front: public transit should be a free service.

I’m certainly not alone in that belief. There are hundreds of transit systems around the world that operate without fares because the benefits are so obvious: increased ridership, reduced dependence on fossil fuels , faster and more efficient service, reduction in operating costs, decreased congestion on city streets, decreased air and noise pollution, and the social benefits that low income accessibility gives to those seeking work. The list goes on and on.

There are several free transit systems in Canada, particularly in Quebec and Alberta. And larger systems, such as the TTC in Ontario, have frozen their fares for a second year. Transit systems in Ireland, New Zealand, and elsewhere have significantly cut fares in recent times to encourage greater usage.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Translink in the Lower Mainland. Rather than follow the global and environmentally sound global trend, Translink increased fares last year and propose to increase them once again this year, while maintaining the unfair three-zone system that has Vancouver commuters subsidizing those from the suburbs.

Not only that: more than 50 bus routes have had their services reduced or eliminated completely in the last two years while all other big city systems in Canada have returned to pre-pandemic levels of service.

The unelected Board of Translink is well aware that living costs in Vancouver are sky-rocketing and they choose to do nothing but add to the burdens faced especially by lower income workers. They are tone-deaf to the needs of Vancouver’s residents, preferring to spend our money on hugely-expensive and unnecessary Sky Train extensions to nowhere rather than fixing the bus system.

What can we do? We can let them know in no uncertain terms our concern with their lack of proper focus. Call Brad Monette at ( 775) 375-6784 or ( 604)306-7182, or send an email to board@translink.ca and/or brad.monette@translink.ca with your comments.


Dinner Tonight #76

March 16, 2022

.

Chicken caramel by Chef John.


Looking For Love With The Oxford Comma

March 16, 2022

Image: from Reddit

I have always used the Oxford comma. Because of it, I have been abused by grammar “purists”, marked down in school, and “corrected” by copy editors all my life it seems, but still I am happy to cheer lead for it. The battle for and against the Oxford comma is deeply divisive but limited, or so I thought, to those who write a lot. No more, according to an article in GQ:

“Recently, the Oxford comma has found a spot on the Bingo card of online-dating profiles, alongside mainstays like “no hookups,” “no drama,” and “420 friendly.” Whether you’re mindlessly grazing on Tinder or Bumble, OkCupid or Match.com, you’re now as likely to learn someone’s thoughts on the Oxford comma as you are their job title or their penchant for tacos. On the Tinder subreddit, which has 1.8 million subscribers, one user lamented that the Oxford comma features in “like a quarter of bios ’round my parts.” Another said, “It’s everywhere.” Even a journal entry on Tinder’s own blog mentions it: “Honestly, I’m not sure how compatible I can be with someone who is anti-the Oxford comma.”

I sympathize with that final cri de coeur.  However, is it really so important that it can affect your love life?  According to GQ, it is a reliable class signifier:

“The blue-blood punctuation mark, named after the Oxford University Press, acts as a social signifier, a sieve for the bookish and studious (and, perhaps, pretentious). It suggests personality traits that extend far beyond punctuation preferences …  I think it suggests care. It suggests somebody who’s structured and disciplined and not a slob … Somebody who’s into detail, who likes precision. Somebody who has standards.”

Gosh. Who knew?


Kluckner on Hippies

March 15, 2022

.

This evening I ZOOM-attended a Vancouver Heritage Foundation presentation given by Michael Kluckner on Vancouver in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a marvelously fluid talk, brilliantly illustrated with art, photographs, newspaper clippings and magazine covers. Michael is not only a fine artist and heritage writer, he was also involved in many of the events that he discussed.

The range of topics from the 1965-1975 period that he covered was broad and varied: hippy culture and lifestyle; music; publishing (Georgia Straight etc); the politics of the freeway, the Stanley Park entrance proposals, and False Creek, the development of Granville Island; the introduction of strata title and condos; civic and Provincial politics; and much else including the early careers of people well-known today.

One of the key take-aways is that little has really changed in terms of development pressures and affordability. He quoted a 1967 report that only 40% of residents could reasonably afford the housing available, and that the vacancy rate in Vancouver in 1971 was almost exactly the same as it is today.

It was particularly gratifying for me to better understand the earlier lives and deep involvement in important issues of several people I have come to know quite well here in Grandview.

Much of this will, I gather, be captured in Michael’s new book The Rooming House: West Coast in The 1970s which is soon to be published.

An evening well spent.


Data Mining With Andy Yan

March 15, 2022

.

At 6:00pm on April 19th, Andy Yan will be chairing SFUData 4.0.

Presenters will delve into the ground-breaking work they’re involved with, provide a deep dive into the methods and tools they used and discuss implications of their findings in their respective studies. A brief five-minute Q&A period will follow each presentation. Presenters and topics include:

  • How BC Rent Bank’s Data Reporting Tool is Helping to Keep People Housed, with Melissa Giles
  • Understanding Evictions in Canada through the Canadian Housing Survey, with Craig E. Jones
  • Scanning B.C.’s Housing Needs Reports: What We’ve Learned So Far, with Andres Penaloza
  • 2021 Census of Population: What’s old, what’s new, and everything in between, with Stewart Deyell

Registration and attendance is free and details can be found here.