Sunday, December 16, 2007

1st Postcard from Berlin: Greetings from Deutschland

wie geht´s,

i don't know how long I have been here in berlin, only that I have been
either sleeping, smoking, or drinking. mostly in that ascending
order. I came to hang out with my old friend claire, who decided to stay
on after this past year abroad, and i realized on the flight over here
that it was mostly with claire and her former roommate kyla that my
dialogue in art began. we also played hell of a
lot of yahtze. it really could have gone either way.

it's only been few a days, maybe a week, I can't seem to keep track of
time here, but
I completely forgot just how much ms. claire can
drink. as requested, i brought a six pack of bad canadian beer for the
housemates, a case of Wildcat, but claire being claire, drank them all
the first night.
I have also forgotten how I
cannot actuallz keep up with her and
how ridiculous I can get. so the
first night out
already resulted in one bar in which i cannot return. it was mostly due
to unforeseen circumstances, but the beer didn't help. but it's not all
debauchery; I am learning important life skills while in deutschland,
like how to
open beer bottles with a lighter. I also learned that smiling for
reason is taken as a sign of simple mindedness. hilarious.
I am
staying on warschauer straßer (east berlin) and it is über deutsch. but
i am picking things up and speaking in a garbled english, fake deutsch
and french (it just comes out)
accent and not smiling. but I think I would like to learn detusch, as
the language is verz beautiful, all staccato and tumbling, and not at
harsh or gutteral as I had once thought. the housedudes all talk away
and I hang
drinking and smoking and listening and it's good. I was warned to bring
slippers, and that warning was much needed, but I had stayed in a
full of dudes once before and this is far better. not much
cleaner, but much more civilized--they have ashtrays everywhere.

as expected, berlin is chalk full of art and dance and all that
goodness, but I am taking a break even from that. I also have no idea
what day or time it usually is so I am missing quite a bit. but claire
took me to this winter festival thing which was ridiculous, but they had
some serious meat on sticks. seriously, it was like a small broom. a
weapon. but a weapon of deliciousness. then after, we went to this squat
house that she likes to hang in. it is exactly what it sounds like, an
abandoned building where a lot of people squat. only her friends, some
swedish punks, live in the wagons outside of the squat, which is
essentially like the slums, no running water, or hygiene, pitch black
and with large dogs running wild. I can't say it was my scene, and at
one point, there were five people and two large dogs in this wee wagon,
and all we were missing was a large bird and maybe some heroin. there is
to be a large swedish christmas dinner there this week, with all the
trimmings that can be stolen, but I don't know if I can do it. not much
else, just came back from this punk bar and I have met my quota of beer
today. life here is much slower, simpler, with a very high unemployment
rate (16 - 20%), but it means everybody is also more relaxed and happy.
also because the poor can survive here--everything is still very cheap,
so no body is left in the dust which is a nice change of scenery.

okay, I hope everyone has a nice holiday and if there's anything worth
mentioning, I will write again,


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HIV Then and Now, AIDS Awareness week, Hulbert's Cafe

I came to support Alfredo as he gets back into the lounge singing swing of things, but I stayed for a panel discussion that spanned almost 25 years. Summed up into one sentence: Not much has changed. Drugs are more available, but tolerance is still the biggest hindrance. HIV drums up all the fears of society: otherness in poverty, queer identity, racism, and DEATH. In this disease hides all of humanity's anxieties and skeletons and it's a shame that the awareness is but a week, not a month, or always.

Though the discussion was mostly based around HIV from the queer perspective with some insight from drug use, the fact that today's perception that HIV is an issue in a lesser developed nation (and not an issue for your friends and neighbors) is the largest problem in reaching today's youth. Everyone knows what HIV is now thanks to media, but not everyone still thinks that they can get it. that deathly message is what's still being hidden in mainstream media, as HIV is a disease that's plaguing communities elsewhere without clean drinking water or education. But what needs to hit home is that HIV can infect anyone anywhere and that we each have to take responsibility for our own bodies.

On the way home, Alfredo, who has been living with HIV for 20 years, felt out of place tonight. He had one more song, but it was too late. He was active in home care for his community and awareness, but as he says, that was so long ago, it seems like another life . . . I don't doubt the truth in that statement. He lives his life, openly as a mature gent with HIV in a prominent professional position, HIV activism is not in his life, but in his being, the subtleness in the way he can live his life, that might be the biggest change we've seen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pina Bausch, Tanztheatre Wuppertal, NAC, Ottawa

okay, so this isn't what I saw, bausch herself doesn't dance anymore, but this is far more apocalyptic and enchanting, but what I did see, "Nefes", was gorgeous nonetheless. I couldn't just include a still, as you need to see the movement. this piece, which was inspired by Bausch's trip to Turkey, surrounds itself with water (much like Turkey is also). Obvious images of servility, the city/bazaar/bathhouse, and a magical roaming carpet sequence (text encrypted light?) filled in between moments of pure exhaltation and moments of trickery.
Far less ironic than the works I've only read about, there was certainly more colour than what I was expecting as well. the beautiful tapestries that were the costumes, the music that was everything from modern berlin electro to turkish to tom waits, this was a very elaborate and theatrical piece with a string of solos, the whole show lasted close to three hours in length (I am use to 50 minute pieces, so this was a treat and an endurance test). the surrounding comments I overheard were about how grey everything was, how the set needed colour, how this is boring compared to la la la human steps, and some actual overheard comments included: "their physicality reminds me of circus de soleil." (maybe in the second half, but this comment was made during intermission) / "I love all that combine fever with jazz!" (they didn't actually) / "If I see that move one more time I've going to scream!" (what move, not sure, but it was a treat to see some of the world's best dancers like Rainer Behr, Daphnis Kokkinos and the others who I can't match a name to their static photographs.) for dance of this calibre, especially since it's a restaging of a 2003 production, I don't want to critique, but just enjoy. you can't just think about dance, but settle into your body and feel it.
beautiful, exhiliratng, the accumulation of sound-image-movement-in presence, it's all there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writing in the city . . .

Maybe this should be called writing in the city, but then writing and walking seems intrinsically linked activities. Yes to Rebecca Solnit.

Had a meeting with the AFA on Monday about community presenting, another hat I may try on this year, but while talking to the appropriate program officer, the issue of multidisciplinary activities came up. As a non-fiction writer (and non creative in the traditional 'biography' sense), there was no other category but multidiscplinary that I could apply for. A catch all, I was discouraged from applying for this program again as it was too hard to fit this time around. Because the field of art criticism has commercial appeal, same with graphic arts, no support has been provided for someone like me who falls through the cracks (their words, not mine). Only, looking at fellow freelancers both text and graphic, especially those with roots in the weeklies and dwindling funding of arts magazines, do the morsels of change in the commercial realm really count for sustainable income? are not these underfunded artistic pursuits also contributions to the vitality of the arts? I am forced to sound utopic, a voice I often discourage, but the sting of being displaced from the system (shrug, what you do just doesn't fit in) is making me ponder about my place in this city. This just all continues to reaffirm my thoughts on the future of corporate funding. As it snowed on Tuesday, new beginnings. Fresh start.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's been a while . . .

Not that I haven't been walking, but mostly writing, and working, and forgetting. Prairie Artsters has taken up almost all of my online writing time, and my misadventures across the city are lacking.

As an update, I am leaving the ranks of the day job once again. The point of getting a job is to secure credit, obtain a house, and all of that, but it's now done, why am I still doing it? Maybe I have yet to recognize that you need to do keep doing something you don't enjoy to obtain material possessions you don't necessary want. So we will see what happens now.

As part of looking into my independent career, I had asked Pamela Anthony for advice. In turn, she invited me to her 'Art Babes' potluck. Very gracious and a good point of reference for contacts. A beautiful house just off 99 St on the southside, the main floor with a major grouch living below. Brought Gerry and Nutto and some stinky cheese, ital bread and grapes that I don't think anyone remembered to eat. ladies can get pretty raunchy after a couple bottles of vino, so yes, it was fun. Saw a lot of faces that I never knew the names to, but gathered together, there was an immediate bond. But one of the older women (whose birthday it was) who I gave a lift home had very pessimistic feelings about going back to the arts. But was burning out from working 5 jobs at a time. My future? Not how I wanted to cap off the night, but it's not stopping anything. Not yet.

Hope to check in more often than not.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A man at the bus stop

On Sunday as I was walking towards the bus stop near the giant aluminum bat, there was an older man sitting near the bus shelter with his belongings near him. It's been pretty common this summer to see homeless men perch out at bus stations and curb sides, and for the most part, I haven't paid much attention.
As I was about to walk by him, something flew out of his hand and bounced onto the road, a plastic bottle cap or a rock? He quickly and stiffly got up to cut off my path, said a greeting of sorts, and picked up the lost object as I continued passing on.
Standing there for another few minutes, someone else was coming towards the bus stop. this time, I saw that the man was shooting something out of his hand on purpose, that he cut off this other person in the exact same manner and timing.
Confrontational yet not aggressive, the man demanded to be noticed. he forced a casual interaction beyond being invisible. and for once, I did pay attention to this other person living and sleeping in the same neighborhood and city.

As an afterthought: I couldn't help but think this would be great performance art.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Last Friday and a Sunday

Can-Can Canada Day

On Canada Day, Ted and I went for a stroll across downtown to catch the fireworks. A stop was made at Concrete for Jazz N'Art, put on by The Works and SAVA/CAVA. Everyone was speaking french, everyone but us, and after some cheeseballs, we kept on our way to the square for green onion cakes. The best spot to view the fireworks, I deemed, would be on the patio of the Hotel MacDonald. Unbeknowst that there would be a wedding taking up most of the patio, as well as the fireworks being stationed to the west more so than I recall in former years, the fireworks down in the valley appeared far away and tiny. People looked on in wonder, but I wasn't moved.
The surprise of the night was running into our friend Trevor and his ladies, Tash and Tandie, all who were dining in the Confederation Lounge before heading for The Roost. Sunday night drag show, Canada Day style. Ted and I were graciously invited and tagged along as so, before running into more folks on the patio and outside, where the drunkard revelers had quickly climbed up from the valley and were not finding ways to keep drinking and celebrating something.
Inside the Roost, it would be a completely different atmosphere. Everyone stood around waiting for the drag show to start. Being maybe the third of fourth one I've ever seen, the ladies put on a good effort and shilled out canada day swag like pros. The night was made when they did the can-can, all that Trevor wanted to see and poof, the night was over.

Eartha Shit (Photos courtesy of Ted Kerr)

What can I say? After a dismal evening watching Feats Dance Festival in a heated tin can, KO showed us what was what in a northside Boston Pizza.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Trying it out (on 97 St)

this one's for vince:

for as long as I've lived in edmonton, which counted recently, has accumulated to 19 years, I had always passed the BBQ house on the SW corner of 118 Ave and 97 St, now sitting cozily next to Big Daddy's Tats Parlour. Never knowing what to think, I finally went on in one day after getting off a stop too early and passing a window full of people milling about. your typical combos, bbq duck or pork with rice or noodles ($6-7), three egg rolls for $2, even wonton noodle soup. I loved this stuff when I lived or visit Hong Kong, but no place here or Van or even San Fran ever really matched that same flavour. I was hoping the place on 102 Ave just further south on 97 would do, but two words: fatty duck. True that this place doesn't match my nostalgia either, how could any place match the immediate freshness of eating in those busy filthy streets, but I'd say this is as close as I've found anywhere. and the fact that's within walking distance, well, it's trouble.

on the road up 97 the other day, garden errands abide trips to la rona, I stumbled upon sprawling parking lots that led me to Shumka: Ukrainian Foods Restaurant. a small take out and eat in place, also a place in kingsway mall, the snack plate consisting of perogy, cabbage roll, nalysnyky and kobassa, one each, $4, hit that spot that only a perogy can hit. and I should have known what-was-what when the lady ahead of me ordered two dozen nalysnykies to go. that one--it wasn't enough, but enough for me to go back. "Traditional Quality and Original Recipes since 1975". Bacon, ya know I love ya, but until you make me some nalysnyky, I have found another.

and on the same day as discovering shumka, I pulled off 97 St at 127 ave, behind the toyota dealership, to check out that Italian grocery store I had only ever heard about. I believe there was a write up about it in the paper not too long ago, as one of those secret town favorites, and I can see the charm. like a small scale Ital Centre meets Sceppa's, tried the cannelloni and veal parmigiani ($13) that fed me twice. charming that nobody spoke english either. actually, also at shumka's, the bbq houses, and this place, of which the name eludes me, all give the impression of a small family run affair. whatever it is, it makes the food taste better and the days just a little bit brighter.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Frank O'Hara

Peering into the postcard shop on granville island yesterday, after a fruitless day of walking around downtown Vancouver as I always do when I arrive, and when I leave, who is looking back out from a black and white portrait in a wicker chair and tight long sleeve black shirt than none other than heart of all hearts, Frank O'Hara.
A true flaneur of the 20th century, like no other writer who wrote simultaenously with heavy and light heartedness to dear beloved friends about friends, movies, lunch, and art, oh, need I say more.

this reminds me, I must take a photo of City Trust for Daniel, who I also picked up a copy of the postcard for. all for his wedding gift, reminders of the city he left, he once roamed, as mummified mementos that can now just hang on his wall rather than in his heart.

this blot should really be accredited to him, as he is one of the wo walkers in the photo in the original post, and probably someone who has walked this city on all levels more than any other person I know. To find Frank in a postcard, for some reason, really bookends a certain era that never really began, but certainly faded.

Friday, May 11, 2007

older men

on tuesday, I took up tish's offer of going to see a death metal show. she's not a metalhead (per se), but loves music and a good spectacle. the first two bands, devil driver and unearth, didn't do much for me. hair whipping, insane drumming, testosterone fuelling; trash metal is what I would call it. there was no drama, no sport, no tension with the audience. that all changed when dimmu descended upon us. I didn't expect the members of dimmu to be so old, and I wonder if that was his real voice after 20 years as a norwegian metal god, but they had more stage presence than any one of the raging young men from their opening acts.

on wednesday, I took up ted's offer of free dinner and drinks and a lecture by cbc's daily planet host & producer, jay ingram. starting the evening off was a live 3D animation that put ted to sleep--and he's enthusiastic about everything. the tour through the galaxy was great, but was rushed because of dinner.
the dinner and lecture itself wasn't much to talk about, being lectured to about how we as a society don't have the vocabulary for science, about how teenagers aren't developed in the frontal lobe yet, and how adult-to-adult conversations rank just higher than a farmer talking to his cow. ingram told us young folks (referring to the city of edmonton's nextgen group that co-presented the lecture with which I sat with) should start thinking critically. a nice sentiment, but no breakdown of the complexity of this idea came through.
it was a strange mix of business men and politicians, scientists from around the world, and a mishmash of Edmontonians who may also have stopped by for the freebie chicken. the one interesting point ingram made was that there was a large and growing disassociation between the general public and the knowledge and language of science. we can't critically think about anything if we do not understand what is being discussed, but I guess that's what happens when we sepearte the Science world from the Art world. Eg. the young man who tried asking about buckyballs is just one immediate reminder of how a modern mind, probably fluent, cannot put together enough words to ask a coherent question to a man he probably quite admires, and who in turn, could not sympathize with his audience in that awkward moment, and feel (critical or otherwise) for that poor and shamed young man.

and on thursday, I went to see paul-andré fortier dance a new solo work. one of the pioneers of modern dance (quebecois), he moved with power, grace, and a coldness that kept the group talking well into our pints. fortier, at 59(!), held an all-knowing power over his objects, moving through a landscape as he called it, and not a set. the lighting design was pristine, exact, very much like his movements, genius in all its greatness and alienation. boiling it down to the human body versus (and why does it have to be versus) light, fortier arguing that the human body is the strongest force, where as afterwards argument goes that light is always the strongest force. a beam of light eventually ends, much like any other energy, man or otherwise, and I suppose in common, neither force can feel or see itself fade as it stretches on in continuity.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the more the merrier

The first time I had heard about this film was in Telluride, in '03. They were showing it several times as one of their classics, the same year Budd Schulberg was there. I was there as part of their student symposium, and the two prominent american scholars who ran our symposium, would literally wrap up our discussions, and run, really sprint for it, to the theatre where the film was showing.

I never saw it in the mountains, more interested in seeing the mountains then, but the film played at the edmonton film society last night and I stopped by. every monday the royal albeta museum, the soceity plays classics from the lost golden age of hollywood. the first screening I ever saw there was Douglas Sirk's "Written on the Wind." Magic. Almost everybody in the theatre had seen it already, knew when they were going to laugh, or weep. they had seen it first with dates, some still with their original sweethearts probably.

the film, to say the least, was a hoot. the acting by the mains weren't great, but that didn't matter, I guess. it was a classic, for reasons that classics just aren't made anymore. the film, the grandeur of details, situations, impossibilities, and imagination, hinged upon a direction and timing that today would be hokey and campy. Somewhere in the 70's, "realism" took over Hollywood. Some could pull it off. Cassavettes comes immediately to mind. But others continue to fail miserably. In Hollywood, realism just doesn't work. it's all a fairytale, a fairytale told in any other fashion, loses its flair, its mystique, that makes it special in the first place.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

bacon goodness

tuesday was the first movie night at bacon. 'Big Night' was shown, the screening went late, and technical difficulties will have to be overcome. but sitting outside on that new beautiful bench, hidden away so long in julie's garage, you could feel it was a neighborhood.

the combination, or communion, of food and people, brings out something, the basics, out of all of us.

1800 pergoies and counting.

arar, art, and water

last night was the mahar arar lecture at the winspear. I didn't know about it at all until mm informed me. part of the poli sci department's annual lecture, the main focus of the evening was our fundamental concept of human rights as Canadians with an emphasis on the idea of torture. I can't say the evening was insightful, but it was certainly powerful and emotional. something more tied to the body, than to our ideas of laws and rights.

afterwards, with the streets still wet with the first rain of the season, the locus suspectus 4th issue launched at harcourt house. ran into mco and ted outside, but ted came back upstairs to schmooze the night away. no art was discussed, nothing memorable was said, but faces were seen and hands were shook--all in the name of art.

tonight, mile zero dance begins its last three day run for Water's Edge, the most insane performance I have seen anywhere. inside the black box of the PCL theatre, I didn't know where I was, or when, but dance does that, it still grounds you to your body, heightening that awareness, while lifting your thoughts and emotions elsewhere.

and the fact that it was a "political" piece through modern dance--so insane.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

some new thoughts

walking home yesterday along 97th street, I walked past several groups of young teens strutting down the street. crowding the sidewalk, the worrisome sentiments of nervous individuals ringed in my ears. only as I watched them walking towards me, after passing ten blocks of really broken people, I was reminded of being young and walking around with friends, crowding the sidewalks of our neighborhood and hanging out on the streets. We would have been between 12 and 16, too young to drive but too old to stay home. We wandered. It was a way of getting around and also exploring, almost claiming the areas we passed. that's why we use to walk. but those I use to walk with would never consider a middle of the night stroll from Londondery to Northgate again. everyone drives now. there's no more exploration--just destination points we have to be at certain times throughout the day. walking up 97st or 95st isn't the greatest trek, but navigating the space in between is a small way to reclaim something long lost.

sidenote: this morning waiting for the bus on 118 ave, I heard my first heckle. little boys in cars drive up and down streets, from 109st, whyte, 97, and certainly 118 to yell remarks to women walking or standing on the streets. whether the women are prostitutues or not, I think that's beside the point. many people I know have been yelled at by cars full of guys saying ridiculous and obscene things to pedestrians who happen to be women. I couldn't make out what the guy said, but it was a bizarre encounter as it would never happen face-to-face on the sidewalk. the remarks, no matter what they may be, are violent in nature. directed at women, these cars should be reported along with prowling johns.
I've only known one guy who was heckled, but he also had a perogy thrown at his head. is it just a small town mentality, to go pick a fight from your cruising car? also, in my heavy winter overcoat, leather gloves and shoes, looking more like a groomed bolshevik than a lady of the night, I feel more baffled than ever as to what this guy was thinking, or have been taught to think, when he opened his mouth this morning.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

walking in the city part 2

on sunday of the first nice weekend, it snows again as I write this, I slept in till noon. with the spring jump in time that throws me back into my winter light-depraved slump, I rose technically at 11am and awoke at 8am. grabbed an apple and some bottles of water and drove over to acd's. now that she's in the hood, hadn't seen her house yet. the men of the house were doing construction and acd, baby bell and I set off for the rivervalley. a short messy walk to the train station, anxiety leading up to whether the train was coming or going, a quick ride to churchill, and getting out to walk down bellamy and across the low level and up on fort saskatchewan for a late brunch at NY bagel. my favorite. and there's nothing like walking your way to a great eggs benedict.
wandered around, same old, only there's a baby, but running into one of acd's old classmates, nothing really had changed. same clothes. same girl. just with a baby. outside of planet organics. with a discounted bag of cosmic cookies. before navigating to the LRT. brief hi and bye at the cafe select, to my future roomate, back on the train, rumbling north. a day that passed by all too quickly. just in time to get to metro for a volunteer shift. ukranian rock festival. it was in ukranian. Are you Ukranian? Could be.
Back at home, grocery shopping, by 8pm. ACD dropped off Remi, her cat, who's been upsurped by Bella, and now, at least someone gets to enjoy the house all day long.

walking in the city

First nice weekend of the year and woke up Saturday morning needing to walk. Well, needed breakfast, caught Julie in time and off we went to IKEA for 99cent breakfast. OPening a restaurant sure keeps her busy, but it's fun to do little errands every now and then. Picked up a couple copies of the journal on the way, had a preview on bacon, good article, I think it made her day. 2 bucks later and some savvy navigation, I was dropped off on 118 and strolled my way home.
Restless, I called up MM to meet downtown. deciding it was nice enough to walk it, three blocks down 101 st and I knew I should have at least brought my mitts. it was warm, sure, but lakes had formed all along the sidewalks and the trot was a soggy trot filled with jumps and splashes. Once I passed 111 ave, there were people again and the sidewalks seemed drier. it was an ugly walk, one of the ugliest I've taken in the city along a path I have only ever driven. the sidewalks were crumbling and littered, but those on it were serious pedestrians. news of the james macdonald bridge closing off its sidewalk wasn't surprising. walkers are expected to navigate through trash and uneven barely paved streets that bleed into 6 lane traffic intersections.
getting into the core, I thought about stopping at snap, but I didn't know if MM was waiting. she needed to read and I had to stop by the Free for All at AGA. Meeting up at l'espresso, it was closed, but I found a scrawled note on the door outside and soon saw her walking back across churchill square. can't believe you found the note. can't believe I found it either. strolling through the Free for All, this was the most aptly titled show of the year. Decade. too much, will get back to it at some point. overload of senses. and not in a good way.
heading back up north, we wanted coffee, good coffee, so triamici it was. saw the new cover of city palate with our friend ted illustrating. went back south to the italian bakery for cheese sandwiches and olives. back to the valley for an impromptu dinner party with those heading west for rumblefest on granville island. stopped at the mzd salon on the way back. filled to capacity tonight. again. only stayed briefly. always seems so sleepy in there. riding back with Nutts, early night, a full day though.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

hot tamales

went for a weekend shopping stroll for my living room picnic last weekend and stopped off at the chiracunese deli first. had the strong scent of oiled cod, one of my portugese favorites, but nothing that I would be preparing for the picnic.

kept walking east to paraiso tropicale, this little salvadorean/mexican grocer that I first heard of when I worked at blue plate. lots of wholesale pableno and corn tortillas, but on the weekends, they have hot eats to go, including mexican and salvadorean style tamales, this fresh yucca salad, and other assorted treats. this weekend in particular, they had this special roasted pork that was so specially, refreshing and sharply seasoned. I wish I could remember the name, but alas, it was all hand-written and quickly said and it all eludes me.

had to stop at the popular bakery on the way back, the new location of popular that's pretty fancy, and picked up two dozen crusty buns and another dozen of the egg tarts.

poked my head into the balken deli before crossing the street, and it smells so good in there. all their meats are smoked in house and the aroma is unmistakable. also on the weekends, though unadvertised as the girl behind the counter told me, they roast whole pigs and sheeps and customers call in to pre-order their sections. I got away with a bit of the left over lamb ribs, along with some nitrate-free all natural smoked pork tenderloin, this macedonian vegetable spread that's similar to the eggplant/red pepper mixture I normally go for, but a bit spicier, and will be back to get one of their frozen feta cheese pies that would probably stop a whole village from pooping ever again.

the picnic was under attended, the tamales didn't even come out until after midnight, and let's not forget the authentic pork rinds and black bean dip, but I didn't mind eating tamales and awesome sandwiches all week.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"take a right at the bat"

I like this photo because a) I didn't have to stand on the corner and take it b) it really captures the feeling, my feelings, towards the bat.

This is right down the street from me now, and so the way I find home is to "take a right at the bat."

as far as public art and sculpture goes, I don't think this counts. It's supposedly a symbol of sports championship in a city that doesn't even have a professional baseball team, erected on an avenue that has seen its glory days long gone, and in a district known more for violence towards women and homelessness than anything else. A baseball bat to symbolize all that? We can make it fit, I guess, but really? what is this bat engaging the city with? seems to me more of an excess of materials that luckily found a home and tax payer's money to pay itself off.

Fun fact: the 15m bat rotates at a push of a button. why you need to rotate a giant bat on the corner of a busy intersection, I don't know. but at least it works, unlike that phoney windpipe on the last corner I lived by. what is it about giant steel and aluminum corner sculptures that draws me to move near them?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Farewell, Grandin.

You've always been the soft spot in my heart, from the first time we came to sit in your gazebo, one late night eating watermelon and pizza and driving around until we found you, us unknowing young suburbanites. then it was all through university, where I would park at the mezzanine, second floor, and walk down through the park and house lined street, through the gazebo in the park and across the highlevel to be at the foot of humanities. every morning and every night, for four years, at best. and worse. meeting up with friends in your park, where neither of us lived, to start our sojourn across the city. then, moving in, at last, calling grandin home, with the light filtering through your large aged elms and a certain beauty in your street scape. trolley train running past underneath my windowpanes as well as 109 St brouhaha. living close to martini's and zuppa's was charming for a while, late night/early morning stumbles were easy, but maybe not altogether necessary. the petite elderly woman behind the tailor's desk never did warm up either. fire alarms in the building, awkward elevator rides, and creepers left and right have soured my feelings for you, grandin. in time, I will of course meet up again in your park in your gazebo. see that light again through your elms early in the morning and just before evening. but for now, I bid adieu and farewell, grandin.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

an early darkness

I've joined the ranks of the 8 - 4:30, waking at 6 every morning and getting home by 5 in the evening. I leave on foot in complete darkness and I return on foot in darkness. I normally take the sidestreets, but going up to Jasper to mail a letter, I was too distracted by the thickness of traffic zipping in every single direction to be annoyed that the post offices weren't even open until 8am.

I remember briefly walking around one summer at 7am, whether it was at the beginning or the end of a very long day, I no longer remember, but I recall thinking how busy and alive the city felt. Constant traffic, people waiting in crowds at corners, and line ups forming at coffee shops.

Deciding to walk right down Jasper from 112 to 124 St, it was a completely different city. I could only imagine if more stores and restaurants were open and other people were walking back and forth enjoying themselves. A lot of pedestrians truck it along in the mornings, whether to the bus stop or getting a jump on daily errands, but where are do these people go at night? It's a question I've been asking myself for over ten years, and though the idea of a night life in downtown Edmonton is now fathomable, maybe I should just resign myself to the fact that it's just not that kind of town. Morning life north of the river, Night life south of the river. Just like it always was, I suppose.

I am seeing the tremendous morning life of downtown Edmonton as the healthier of two concepts.
time to just put on the ol' cardigan and stay in the for the night.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Dog Park afternoon(s)

I once railed against the grid system of city planning and favoured a free-for all trek that can only seemingly be found in fields, gravel parking lots, and dog parks. but as winter time comes, we can see the tready footmarks and paths and naturally fall into the line (and prints) of those before us.

that argument never led anywhere, but maybe it's about why you're walking and what you're doing -- and not where you're going -- that has to be reconsidered. that's a primary rule, but how we walk through the environment is relatively new territory.

the laurier dog park, which connects up to valleyview and down to hawrelak, was a favorite path of mine years ago. I always had a dog, but that's another point. walking around the park with friends, whether as a shortcut or just to span time, was a favorite route of mine. once clamouring down to the river, I don't remember why we went down, but I do remember being right up to the rushing of the river, which has never seemed so big (even counting when I've paddled down that sucker). the park consists of a large open field that leads to various forks and paths that lead you around to where you started or across the river if you'd really wanted. walking around with Nutters and Manitoba (owner and dog, respectively), you saw more people than you would on city streets. nice view, cloistered down in the valley, the pace of dog park walking neither begets sidewalk rage or disdain. lots of eye contact, stopping and chatting, even if Manitoba is a menace, with no clear direction of where you must walk, the atmosphere is to enjoy.

getting back on the sidewalk, with Manitoba in tow, pedestrians leapt out of the way with scrunched up faces and little pad-coated dogs cowered in fear.

I still favour the free-for all trek over the city grid, but maybe only those I meet in gravel parking lots and empty fields will agree with me on this. someone told me that how you spend the first day of the new year reflects how the rest of the year goes, and I knew I wanted to go for a walk. of course, we must still drive to the park, which I still think is hilarious, but with the choice of walking through grey-lit downtown or driving and then walking through the glistening white (and splotchy yellow) dog park, I have chosen the latter for this year.