Archive for January, 2012

Photography of Phyllis Christopher

“Manchester, England, 2010”

I had the most wonderful Christmas and holiday vacation this year, visiting friends and family in the United States as well as in Canada. I was given some wonderful presents, including a Buffalo Sabres jersey from my son and a framed print of this beautiful image above from a friend down south. “Manchester, England, 2010” is by photographer Phyllis Christopher.  I love all of her work. It’s so charming and alive. (I must have spent an hour and a half, when I first visited Christopher’s website, just mesmerized by her portraits of … food!) “Manchester” is part of her amazing Editorial portfolio.


My willingness to apply the Golden Rule = My wish not to be struck by lightning.

Kwantlen Distinguished Alumni Award Finalists

Two of the three finalists in the Business and Industry category this year have a basil.CA connection: Jack Fox is a long-time friend with whom I’ve worked on a number of projects, including some ground-breaking publications distributed by his company, T-Bodies Productions. Another finalist, Gozde Hilmi, is the most recent winner of the Maureen and George Basil Award, given to a Kwantlen Polytechnic University Human Resources student who achieved notable success in the program’s arduous HR practicum. I’ve never met the third nominee, Shane King, before, but I am looking forward to shaking his hand at the Award Ceremony, which is being held at the River Rock Casino on March 2 as part of the university’s 30th Anniversary Gala.

Watching America

Compared to how much I study it — a pretentious phrase, I know! — American political culture is something I almost never write about online … or anywhere else, for that matter. It feels too personal, like one’s love life gone awry.

And there are fine folk out there, like my former mentor and NYU professor Jay Rosen, who write about such things so well and speak for me, as it were. His piece today, Agnew’s Resentment Machine: Six Data Points About Culture War and The Campaign Press, is marvelous:

“Here we have one of the most under-covered stories of the 2012 campaign. If the Republican candidates believed the culture war wing of their own party, if they credited it with any genuine insight, if they respected its critique of the journalistic profession, if they thought there was a solid core of truth there, they would not have agreed to participate in debates where the questions are asked by such ideological opponents as Wolf Blitzer and Jon King of CNN, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos of ABC, David Gregory and Brian Williams of NBC, John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times and on and on. As Hewitt said: Hey, these guys are left wing! It doesn’t make any sense!

“Unless… the candidates see the culture war wing of their party as a useful idiot– wrong about what journalists are up to, but valuable for keeping the press in line. Then the debate thing does make sense. The candidates participate because they can predict the questions. They know they’ll be able to get their message out and reach people who don’t watch Fox. And the resentment machine is right there at their fingertips: just attack the questioner and score some points. Notice, then, how conservative culture warriors wail about it, but don’t try to explain this basic weirdness: candidates vying for the title of head conservative voluntarily submit themselves to questioning from the enemies of the conservative state!

“My view: even Newsbusters knows their critique is a joke. They’re just working the refs, and raising money off their Agnewisms. And it’s a pretty sweet gig. Brent Bozell’s 2010 salary: $423,000. He should be raging at the Republican candidates for legitimizing the David Gregorys and John Harwoods of the world. That’s what a real activist would do. Instead we have Hugh Hewitt whining to a New Yorker writer: It’s absurd!!

“Don’t you see the comedy? This is why I say it’s a great story going uncovered. Conservative candidates treat their culture warriors as know-nothings: fools and tools.”

Food Chains

During my recent visit to Spartacus Books, I was able to get caught up with the literature of my favourite Trotskyists, the folk who publish the Workers Vanguard newsprint magazines (still just 50 cents) and the Partisan Defense Committee and Spartacist pamphlets (two bucks at the most). One doesn’t have to be a revolutionary communist to appreciate the unsparing analysis of national and world economies found in these publications. (I especially like its scathing pieces on women’s issues.)

I also picked up the 30th anniversary issue of “World War 3 Illustrated,” which features a few dozen comix-art pieces on the theme of “the food chain.” Most of the work is beautifully illustrated and smart. I recommend you pick this up if you can find it. (Try these cool places.) Some of the art:

Outlook TV

Outlook TV’s 2nd program is available on YouTube: Watch stories about the Diorama Party, Art for Life, Kate Reid, Tops and Bottoms, Rainbow Band, Movember, and the ‘Gay Agenda.’ The Shaw TV producer of this wonderful magazine show is my friend Michael P Keeping; my buddy Jack Fox contributes some reporting and editing.

Nifty Audience Analysis

Hunter S. Thompson’s 1958 cover letter to “The Vancouver Sun” is so beautiful I could cry.

Birds and Man at English Bay

Buffalo Landscapes

East Side Buffalo Scene, December 2011

A big theme of book “Quotable Buffalo” is the city’s everlasting beauty that is hardly diminished either by its shrinking population or by its homely reputation. I find my old city everywhere enthralling, full of history’s odds and ends and of nature’s strength and beauty and, indeed, its indifference to us when it comes right down to it.

Quotable Buffalo

When visiting my old stomping grounds of Buffalo last week, I purchased a wonderful book edited by Cynthia Van Ness called “Quotable Buffalo” at the landmark Talking Leaves bookstore and took it back to me to Vancouver and read it twice: Boy, for a “little” book, it is redolent of so much history and culture … and the whole “vibe” of the city I adore. What astonishes is how consistent, over literally hundreds of years, the city’s themes have been. Here’s a favourite:

“If you ask a Buffalo man what is the matter with his city, he will, very likely, sit down with great solemnity and try to tell you, and even call a friend to help him, so as to be sure that nothing is overlooked. He may tell you that the city lacks one big dominating man to lead it into action; or that there has been, until recently, lack of cooperation between the banks; or that there are ninety or a hundred thousand Poles in the city and only about the same number of people springing from what may be called ‘old American stock.’ Or he may tell you something else. If, on the other hand, hyou ask a Minneapolis man that question, what will he do?He will look at you pityingly and think you are demented.” – Julian Street, “Abroad at home,” p. 27. New York: Century Co., 1914

Beef Noodle + Great Old Kodachromes

Miles Basil at the Albright Knox

My son and I had a wonderful visit in Buffalo this week. A highlight was visiting the Albright Knox Art Gallery (that’s Miles, above, standing next to Andy Warhol’s “Beef Noodles” lithograph). We both fell in love with the photographs from the “Full Color Depression: First Kodachromes from America’s Heartland” exhibit. It was astonishing!

Jack Delano (American, 1914–1997). C. & N.W. R.R., Mrs. Elibia Siematter, working as a sweeper at the roundhouse, Clinton, Iowa, 1943. Digital file from original transparency (LC-DIG-fsac-1a34803). Collection Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.