Be Wary of Praise

When I asked my mom if she liked anything about my first book, she said “the copyright page.”

Neighbours

Great footage. The wolf watching in the background makes it perfect. God bless British Columbia!

“Good for pictures”

The Vancouver Art Gallery solo exhibition of photographs by Fred Herzog, who died a few days ago, was perhaps the biggest art event of 2007 in my city. It was a revelation, nothing less. Christopher Cheung’s retrospective essay in The Tyee is a wonderful introduction as well as memorial to Herzog’s work.

This passage struck me:

“I don’t think we can have a photographer like Fred Herzog now,” wrote photographer Jeff Wall in Vancouver Magazine. “In order to have that affection, there has to be something to have it for… those objects of his affection no longer exist. Or if they do exist, they are just vestiges of what they were in 1957 or 1961, when he captured them perfectly.”

[David] Campany [in his book Modern Color] adds that Vancouver “had been physically transformed in ways that were unconsciously cynical and dispiriting. The kinds of architecture, informal social spaces, and layer of material history to which Fred Herzog was drawn had been swept aside. In their place came a dense and homogeneous landscape determined by raw capital, and insensitive to its inhabitants.”

Herzog himself has said that the downtown is boring now, lacking the “disordered vitality” he was used to. But he admits that what might have made for good images could be bad for people. For one, Vancouver used to have a lot more smog, in part from burning garbage, that was good for pictures, but not residents.

“In order to have that affection, there has to be something to have it for… those objects of his affection no longer exist.” This sentence evokes time, so beautifully.

Photograph “Man with Bandage, 1968,” by Fred Herzog, courtesy of The Equinox Gallery.

Used with permission.

kat

My late friend kat kosiancic and I shared a devotion to the art of Andy Warhol. (I remember how angry she was when I attended a Warhol exhibit in North Van without finding her and taking her along.)

I found these self-portraits on my computer this morning. She made them in the summer of 2013 – kat was living in my apartment while I had a temporary spot in Olympia, Washington for the season. You can imagine how moved I was to see these for the first time, my friend’s charisma and beauty so fully there. I miss her every day.

These days I am working on adding some of kat’s correspondence to katsvox.com. It is a delightful and important project, though it’s been slow-going. My friend’s letters and emails and cards are enthralling, and I can’t read them without great & halting emotion.

Simpleness: A Sequel

Last week before I headed off to teach back-to-back classes at my university, I stopped off at a McDonalds for a breakfast sandwich so that I wouldn’t faint in front of my students; it was gross but I was starved and I gobbled it down. I sat on a stool that faced the sidewalk on Davie Street; a bedraggled fellow was fiddling with his bike in front of me.

When I was done with my sandwich I walked to the bus stop. The fellow was on his bike riding toward me in the lowest gear. He was laughing but in a growling timbre.

As he passed by, he said this to me: “Look at how fat you are – and now look at me! Eat a salad, motherfucker!”

I had stuffed my face in front of a homeless man.

Simpleness

My recipe for making people happy:

  • Tell parents that their infant is beautiful.
  • Tell neighbours that their dog is beautiful.
  • Tell children that their bikes are fantastic.

Facebook friends append some ingredients to my recipe:

  • Little kids also like to know that you love their sneakers.” (thanks to S.M.)
  • Also, tell them their lemonade is good. Buy a second cup.” (thanks to @bfwriter)

Portrait of an artist