Saturday, March 10, 2007

What Am I Doing Here?

No, it's not just the title of a song by Blue Rodeo, nor is it merely a product of boilerplate existential angst. It's a legitimate query, asked over brunch no less, so you know how seriously I'm taking it. What's at stake might seem minor now, but I'd rather have a little sense of the path I'll be taking before I invest several years' worth of time and energy into taking it.

Bloggers must read other blogs to decide what they want to become, in the same way children model on adults until they develop the qualities they prefer and that best suit them, so that's what I've been doing. Some of the blogs I regularly read (Towleroad is a good example) are trying to emulate the best news sites, albeit with a twist (ie: an entirely gay focus). Some are sheer entertainment (Lady Bunny is the best of these). The rest fall somewhere between these two, with greater or lesser success, and most are little more than an online diary (which can be just as revelatory or transcendent as the greatest works of art).

Naturally, providing information and entertainment are two of my earliest stated aims. My zeal to please will often lead me to be outrageous when I should be compassionate, and vice versa. Being a centrist doesn't mean I can't also be a reactionary, and my desire to be everything to everyone may end up making me nothing to no one.

I suppose it's a risk I'm willing to take, since most people don't find out what they really meant to others until they're being eulogised, at which point it doesn't matter. I am, as are most people, complex, subject to moods, and entirely a product of my past. That I can't change the past pisses me off; that I can change the present so that years from now I'm looking back on a more pleasant past is what keeps me going.

Part of this process of inquiry is designed to add efficiency to my ambition; if I disguise it as a tendency to kiss my readers' ass, that is my prerogative. Mostly, though, I am serious when I say that when I decide to do a thing I want to do it better than it's ever been done before. Otherwise, why bother?

After each new milestone like the recent one I go back to the beginning and reread the whole thing, every single word. I enjoy a brief moment in which I feel proud of myself for having done what others have done every two seconds for the past two years - that is, to start a blog. Then, before I start to get an ego about it (or worse, complacent) I set about how I can do it better, reach more people, and use this as a vehicle to achieve my own life's goals.

In some cases, I have already identified my niches. I may discover others, or tire of the ones I've got, but the time for change is now, at the start of the learning curve, rather than later, when the brand is well-established.

That means I've decided to stay in Vancouver. Not only is Vancouver underserved by things such as this, none of the ones I've read even bother to put Vancouver into its correct world context, which I am willing to do. Also, there's no other city in the world where I would be so ignored by so many people so much of the time that I would be able to sublimate myself to the degree necessary to make this undertaking successful.
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Congratulations Kenneth J. Harvey

The Newfoundland author recently won $15,000 from the Writers' Trust for his book "Inside".

This award is a marvellous vindication for Mr. Harvey's work. While other Newfoundland authors like Michael Crummey, Lisa Moore, and Michael Winter seem to scoop up most of the critical glory (not to mention hogging the limelight that glory gives off), Kenneth J. Harvey has been quietly and diligently surveying his corner of the CanLit landscape for the past 20 years.

"Inside" is a thrilling book, which I finished reading in about three sittings just after it came out in last fall's publishing cycle. It tells the story of a Donald Marshall-like man, wrongly imprisoned for years, and his struggle to cope with life (both his new one and the old one that got him there).

[S O U R C E]
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Meet Disney's Newest Princess

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And her name's Maddy!

And the story's set in New Orleans!

Oh yeah, and she's black!

[S O U R C E]
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Congratulations Anna Lo!

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Recently elected to serve South Belfast in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the first ethnically Chinese person elected to any such office in Europe.

[S O U R C E]
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Three Candles by Marc Chagall

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And three candles as well for the Pop Culture Institute! This is my 300th post. As for how I feel about that, ask me a couple thousand posts from now.

In case you missed it....

200th post (23 FEB 07)

100th post (03 FEB 07)
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RIP Harriet Nahanee

[In Memoriam]
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Follow-Up: Olympic Flag Stolen

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCredit for stealing the Olympic flag from in front of Vancouver's City Hall was claimed today by the Native Warrior Society. They did it, they said, to honour the memory of their elder Harriet Nahanee, who died shortly after being detained in the recent Eagleridge Bluffs fiasco that also saw warrior Eco-granny Betty Krawczyk sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Reaction to the theft was typically patronising. I say, let the Premier who is without criminal record cast the first stone.

[Reaction from the fascist media...]
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Jeff Wall Showing At MoMA

[Check it out...]

After my recent visit to the Fred Herzog show at the Vancouver Art Gallery I wandered into the gift shop, mainly because the two guys working there were so hot I wanted to get a closer look.

On the way in, though, I spotted a small book entitled "Unfinished Business: Photographing Vancouver Streets, 1955 to 1985". Since street photography is one of the motifs most recurrent in my work, I figured: "Why not pick it up?" So I did. Funny, when it comes to spending money I rarely need more encouragement than that.

The book was produced for a show at Presentation House in North Vancouver in 2003, a show which in a lot of ways created a debate about the past (and therefore the future) of Vancouver's streetscape, skyline, and other public spaces. It contains the expected amount of artspeak, so the reading was heavygoing in spots, but generally lucid. (All I need to do is see the word semiotics and my eyes lose all focus. See? There they go.)

Jeff Wall was one of the contributors to that show, and the one whose work impressed me the most. I also find his writing on the subject the clearest, though alas not entirely jargon-free. (Again, just a pet peeve of mine.) The book (as well as his work) is nevertheless a valuable addition to the city's emerging self-awareness. Hopefully, as this self-awareness creates a world-class city out of Vancouver, Jeff Wall will be here to ease our emergence with his insights.

(That is, if we can get him back from New York.)

[More about Jeff Wall...]
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