The Ormsby Review is a treasure house for anyone interested in books about British Columbia and written by British Columbians. A work of love and dedication by publisher and editor Richard Mackie, it attempts to review almost every book published in and by BC authors, covering history, fiction, poetry, and essays.
I was honoured that they reviewed my “Battleground: Grandview” last year, and I was privileged to be asked to write a review for them of Eric W. Sager’s “The Professor and the Plumber: Conversations About Equality and Inequality.” The review has just been published.
The Ormsby Review is well worth supporting and I encourage all my readers to add it to their reading (and hopefully donation) lists.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, I had been running a few BBS systems, both for myself and for a couple of organizations I was involved with. Looking back on it, they sure were primitive compared to what we have today.
Later in the 1990s, I was heavily involved in some early online communities — Utne Café and Howard Rheingold’s Brainstorms in particular. They were great fun and of immense value in opening up channels of intelligent communication. I also met people there (including the Everloving) with whom I am still in touch.
Finally, in 2001, I discovered Blogger and jaksview v.1 was born. A couple of years later I switched to Typepad for v.2 in which my entries were heavily weighted toward international politics. Unfortunately, I ran into some heavy-duty far right SOBs who started threatening me and my family and in February 2008 I felt it was the better part of discretion to scrap version 2. I started again with WordPress for version 3 — and here we are today.
I have been a writer in one way or another for most of my life and having a blog has allowed me to inflict my views, my poems, my art on a much wider audience than I might have had in any other way. Thank you for reading and for continuing to visit jaksview.
Jennifer Chutter has written an interesting review of Battleground: Grandview for the always useful Ormsby Review.
She notes three over-arching themes in the book: Who is the city for? What is a neighbourhood? and What is an expert? For the first, she writes that:
“From the City of Vancouver Planning department’s perspective, the city is for the future residents and not for the current ones. It is clear throughout King’s work that current residents are disregarded as having any sort of role in creating the current vibrancy and functionality of the city; furthermore, the poor are unacknowledged … King’s argument challenges the reader to think through the larger political machinations that are guiding urban growth and the impact it has on smaller neighbourhoods.
As for the neighbourhood:
“King does a strong job emphasizing the difficulty of defining what constitutes a neighbourhood … According to King, City planners misunderstand the complexity of planning for urban growth because they don’t account for the interconnectedness of people and structures. The problem with the initial Community Plan was that it homogenized the entire area and flattened out the distinct features that make the neighbourhood unique, and there appeared to be little understanding that changes to one area would impact the whole.”
And as for the role of “experts”:
“Despite hundreds of residents giving up their time to participate in events hosted by the Planning Department, their expertise from living within the neighbourhood for years was denied as having any value.”
In conclusion, the review says:
“In Battleground Grandview, Jak King presents a strong call to action: it is time for the City of Vancouver to take into consideration the needs, wishes, and desires of current residents to maintain the vibrant areas of the city, rather than persistently planning for future urban growth in the form of tall towers.”
I want to thank Ms. Chutter for taking the time to study and understand the book, and to the Ormsby Review for sponsoring the review.
Copies of Battleground: Grandview are still available at People’s Co-op on Commercial Drive, direct from me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and from VPL.
In the 1980s and 1990s I ran a number of BBSs (you have to be ancient to even remember what they were), and I opened my first actual blog in September 2001. This version (v.3) of Jak’s View from Vancouver is 13 years old today.
Over all that time, the top five posts (by view) have been:
One of the long term effects of the corona virus pandemic in Vancouver is a whittling away of good community reporting. We saw this with the closure of the Vancouver Courier and with significant reductions in local TV newsrooms. Luckily, we still have the Georgia Strait and its fine correspondent Carlito Pablo.
I was fortunate enough to be invited for an interview with Carlito at the end of last week and we discussed Vancouver politics in general and my book in particular. He has now published an article that captures many of the items we discussed.
If you are interested in Vancouver politics and urban development — and the future of Commercial Drive and Grandview — this book takes you into the nitty-gritty of how City of Vancouver Planning Department and the Vision-majority City Council ran rough-shod over a community, pushing through major changes in the look and feel of a successful and well-loved neighbourhood against the wishes of a significant number of residents.
It describes how public “consultation” was corrupted into nothing more than a public relations exercise, ticking all the progressive boxes while actually delivering the pre-determined outcome preferred by the Planners and Vision Vancouver’s financial backers. CityHallWatch calls it “an X-Ray into the City’s planning” process.
The 288-page book includes detailed coverage of the 2014 civic election, and shows how the Grandview debacle fits in to the trajectory of similar anti-community planning exercises in Mount Pleasant, Norquay, Marpole, Downtown Eastside, the West End, and Oakridge.
Battleground: Grandview retails at $25.00 and is available at:
People’s Co-op Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive
SuperValu, 1st & Commercial
You can also get a copy direct from me at email@example.com — $25 including postage — via Interac Email Transfer, adding a mailing address to the message.
Ten years after I did the index to “The Drive“, I had forgotten just what a tedious chore indexing can be. But I do think that indexes are an important addition to a non-fiction work, and so I hope it is worth the effort.
On 18th May this year, I wrote the first notes about a book I wanted to write. Today, on 5th July, I finished a good draft, 110,000 words. I had forgotten how very satisfying it can be to have completed a long story from beginning to end.
Lots of work, yet, to improve the manuscript, but I am satisfied I have the bones of a decent book.
Perhaps now I’ll have time to put more interesting stuff on this blog?
We are probably all aware that books by some authors — Clancy, King, Rowling, Martin, Patterson, etc. — sell in the millions of copies. However, there are authors, and publishers, who aim for a very different market. Hyperallergic.com has a delightful piece this week about writers and presses that limit their editions to a few hundred copies, and some even reduce their output to single figures.
The main section of the article deals with poet and artist Margaret Galey who published a book of 38 poems, all using only the letters from a sign “Hello, Please Remove Shoes”. The book had a run of just five copies.
The article’s author also contacted Happy Monks Press who limit their editions to 25 copies, of which 10 are for the author. Others really are one-offs:
“For Alternative Press, which was run by Ken and Ann Mikolowski for more 30 years (1972–2004), Robert Creeley handwrote a poem on each of the 500 letterpress postcards he was given and made no copies. This means his “Collected Poems” will always be incomplete. Creeley’s postcards were put in mailers, along with bumper stickers, bookmarks, and other goodies, and sent to subscribers. The content of every envelope was unique.
Having consciously self-published my own books in very limited editions (though one of mine did break the 1,000 copy barrier), I’m glad to see that writing just for the sake of writing (“borderline invisible”) can still be fashionable.
The latest survey on incomes by the Author’s Guild makes sorry reading. The median income for all authors in 2017 was $6,080 a fall of 42% since 2009. Median income for all authors claiming it as their full-time work was just $20,300.
Income from book sales seems to have tumbled the most, and most especially for writers of literary fiction.
When I published “The Drive“ some years ago, a number of local bookstores helped me sell the volume, and I thank them for all their assistance. However, the largest single seller of the book — and they sold several hundreds — was SuperValu at First & Commercial. They put up a display stand near a cashier, sold the book at full price, and people bought it as an impulse buy (I’m guessing) while they waited their turn in line. I don’t believe they had sold books of any kind before and it was a positive experience for both the store and me.
Today when I was in the store, they were eager and proud to tell me they now had a whole display of locally written and locally published books.
As a Board member at People’s Coop Bookstore, I guess I should be nervous about yet another competitor. However, I really appreciate the efforts the owner and managers of the supermarket are doing to further the careers of our local authors, and I applaud and thank them!
I believe in totally free speech. Everyone has, or should have, the right to say anything they want on any topic without sanction. That includes comments on this site, no matter how bizarre or off-base they may be.
However, I also believe that right comes with an equal dose of responsibility — that one own one’s own words.
It is not OK to hide your statements behind fake names. It is not OK to pretend to be someone else when making statements. It is not OK to give phony email addresses. Only cowards and deliberate provocateurs do that.
Too often lately, commenters here have hidden their identities, clearly unwilling to be responsible for their own actions. That stops today. I have been persuaded that some people really need or prefer to use a pseudonym for their own safety (or whatever) and while I disagree with that, I will allow it. But there is no reason whatsoever to give a false email address, and I will check every new address that tries to leave a comment. Those that fail that simple test will not be posted.
If you don’t like the new rules, don’t leave a comment. Your right to do or not do is completely unharmed.
Well, my hope that I would get back to posting in real time foundered on some major infections and a week in Mount St Joseph’s Hospital who discharged me today. At least I can now add their wonderful staff to my praise of the BC Medical profession.
And thank goodness for the images, music, poems, and certain celebrations that I tend to pre-schedule sometimes weeks in advance for keeping the blog ticking over.
Finally back at home, I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Here on the blog I have a great time publishing my photographs, playing music, beating up on senseless developers and crony-politicians, talking about art, celebrating the odd anniversary, and whatever else comes up. It’s play time.
But each day, whether it is for a long time, or just an hour, I work on my history projects; and this is the real work on which I am engaged. To me, it is a bit like playing the piano — you have to practice every day to keep the muscles limber and the mind sharp.
Much of this effort goes into the Grandview Database. I am currently working on the next version which will be published on 1st April. There are several lifetimes of material still available to be loaded into the database and by that means made easily available to anyone who wants to look. If anything is to be my legacy, I suspect that is it.
But I am also keen to produce another book, this one covering the birth of Grandview from 1860 to 1935 (which will tie in with my earlier book, “The Drive“, which starts in 1935.) To that end, I wrote a book-length series of essays last year, but it didn’t work for me (or my readers), as the book tried to cover the entire period from 1900 to 1970 and there was significant overlap with the earlier book. So, I have begun to rework the material into a more focused and recognizably narrative form, and my plan is to publish drafts of it serially at Grandview Heritage Group as I complete sections The first part was published today.
In the end, the entire work will be produced as a book. But I hope both those interested in the subject and I will gain something from the serial publishing idea.
My writing here has been a little less than usual these last couple of months. That is because I have been working on completing my new book: “Grandview: Collected Historical Essays.” The main draft is now complete and I have this week sent out the manuscript to selected professional readers for critical comment. Given that the readers don’t tell me to rip the whole thing up and start again, the plan is to have this in stores by the end of January.
For those interested, the Table of Contents looks like this:
John Mason’s House (1891)
Creating Grandview (1900-1907)
A Little Church In The Stumps (1904-1909)
Crime Story I: Wild West and Big City (1910)
Boom and Bust (1907-1913)
Early Retail on Commercial Drive (1905-1915)
Demographics of Commercial Drive in 1910
Grandview’s Parks (1890-1930)
The Bufton Family (1923-1985)
The Viaduct That Saved Grandview (1938)
Lawn Bowling Leads to Rock and Roll (1930-1965)
Crime Story 2: Just Like In The Movies (1949)
The Fight Over The School Site (1940-1955)
The Library Saga (1929-1975)
Crime Story 3: Robbery Central (1940s, 1950s)
The Acronyms of Activism (1907-1967)
Getting To Today.
When it becomes available, I will post another notice.
On 23rd September 2001, I started my first blog. It was on Blogspot. In 2004, I switched to Typepad, and in 2008 came to rest at WordPress (thus, the v.3 in the title of the blog).
Before that, from the late 1980s through the 1990s, I had operated a number of Bulletin Board Services (BBS) both for myself and for others, and had then been active with some of the early online communities (UTNE Cafe, Brainstorms, etc).
So, today is the 15th anniversary of me on blogs. I’ve had a lot of fun and hopefully, if only for a moment or two, I have managed to reach out and touch someone.