Archive for June, 2011

Peter Zumthor’s Serpentine Pavilion opens

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Thanks to Dezeen for this video interview with Swiss architect Peter Zumthor on his pavilion at the Serpentine (a previous ouno post on Zumthor, on the occasion of being chosen to do the pavilion, is here). The pavilion opens tomorrow, July 1, and closes October 16. Zumthor is a winner of the Pritzker Prize, the world’s top architecture award. The garden itself was designed by by celebrated Dutch landscape gardener Piet Oudolf.

“My name is Peter Zumthor, Zumthor meaning “by the gate,” a nice name for an architect I think. I started out in my father’s shop as a cabinetmaker, and slowly slowly … now I’m an architect. I’m a passionate architect, and I think it’s a beautiful profession. I do not work for money. I don’t go for commercial projects, I go for projects where I can put my heart into it, and which I think are worthwhile doing.”

“Gardens have become more and more important for me, working as an architect. When I was young I enjoyed them but not really consciously. The older I get, the interest becomes more keen and I want to be close to gardens, and I want to be into the gardens, so my work reflects this kind of desire to know more about it, and to integrate the garden or maybe even make the garden as a centrepiece and the architecture just a frame.”

“I make a building which acts as a stage. The garden is in the centre, and not you, not me, and not anybody else, we are around the garden, not in the garden. I think everybody understands right away what this would mean, and many of know, have some vague knowledge that an enclosed garden — there is something beautiful about it.”

“I made this frame and asked the landscape architect Piet Oudolf to do this, and he did a marvellous job. So there was no concept discussion of “what are you going to do” and “I want to see this” and so on. I trusted him. He surprised me with this wonderful wild garden with a lot of beautiful flowers you would find on the edge of a field or the edge of woods and so on. So there’s a statement I think, or maybe there’s no statement. It depends.”

“This garden is a typological piece; it’s a type. It’s not a context piece. So in a way this kind of garden, this kind of viewing, this device, can be anywhere. Somebody buys this and puts it up somewhere else, so it cannot be a piece of the place. So this piece is sort of a more eternal piece, it comes from afar. And if you put it up somewhere else, it would have other plans, other sky, and another climate. So let’s see what happens. I think chances are good it will be put up again, and I will see then what’s in it.”


Via Dezeen . Or directly on Vimeo. Official photos via dezeen here.

Kenneth Frampton on Aalto, Corbusier, detached houses, the suburbs &c.

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The video below, produced by Slow Home Studio in Calgary, Alberta, is a short, brilliant, unrehearsed lecture by renowned architect, architectural critic and historian Kenneth Frampton on the history of the detached house in our era. Worth watching the whole thing – but the complete transcribed text is below.

“First of all, you know the pathos of each little box being isolated from the next in many cases, particularly as the time goes on and new subdivisions are made I noticed as athe plane landed that these boxes are placed ever more closely together. And so there is a pathos of the individuality – the question of what choice do people have. And that’s one of the paradoxes of the market society I think. Because in many aspects the market is rigged and the people don’t really have a choice, right? The market is rigged by the combination of the banks and the mortgage companies and the building regulations and the home-building industry and it’s all symbiotically connected . Why is it that Germans and Austrians and Swiss are willing to live close together, the middle class I mean, and the Anglo-American middle class are generally speaking not willing to live close together. I mean but they do of course end up living close together, it’s an absurdity, because they’re living close together anyway! But their houses must not join…”

“I remember you know looking at the suburban house and it struck me even then, and subsequently I’ve often thought about it, where the front garden and it’s not so true in N. America actually, but in England the front garden is treated like a kind of parterre, then there is the house and the back garden is where people grown vegetables or did at that moment. In a way it’s a sort of filtered down, 18th C sort of gentry model. The front is the kind of classical garden in front of the villa, and the back is the farmland. It even goes back to sort of Palladian roots. That I think is connected probably to the first shocks of industrialization. I think that the whole Arts and Crafts movement was in a sense an attempt to compensate for the ruthlessness of the initial industrialization.  I think that’s even true in the New World so to speak, in the Americas, this idea of this uprootedness is sort of by definition you could say. We forget I think they extent to which in Europe the agrarian populations were also uprooted and packed into workers’ towns and used in relation to industrial production and so on. And that internal migration in Europe to do with industrialization also had a sort of psychosocial impact on society. And in a way I think that’s the kind of issue that architects ought to try to confront or recognize.”

“I think  it was easier for, say, the Scandinavians to make this transition because they weren’t so heavily industrialized in the first place and they didn’t have such huge populations, so that the scale… there wasn’t the same level of uprootedness I don’t think. It seems that Aalto is one of the few architects that was really able to address this issue, was able to produce a kind of warmer residential fabric accessible to the society.” [See earlier blog post on Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea. Photo of house below]


“It’s very hard to find the ground in which to produce an alternative discussion, to raise another kind of consciousness – it’s hard.

[Frank Lloyd Wright’s] Usonian house is an astonishing thing and I’ve said for a long time I think the Usonian house is the last time anyone tried to render the suburb as a place of culture. The invention is astonishing and the number of Usonian houses he was to build… but in a way they’re all very modest compared to today’s extravaganza. They’re very beautiful places to live in but they also mean you’d have to be prepared to live a relatively modest life, a very comfortable life but a modest life. And well it’s amazing the Usonian house I think, and in a way I think Wright is undervalued I think in general. And there of course the question of the image of home is right there, if Aalto is one case, Wright would be the more pertinent case to give as far as North America is concerned.”

Above is Frampton’s own modest house in Pennsylvania, where he lives with artist Silvia Kolbowski, an editor of October magazine for many years.

Look at Frampton’s ideas in Modern Architecture: A Critical History (Fourth Edition) (World of Art)
and a collection of decades of his writing: Labour, Work and Architecture.

Thanks to my friend Jonathan M. for tipping me off to this video.


Berber rugs from the Beni Ouarain region

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The impulse in Berber rug-making to both interrupt and also loosely maintain a pattern seems unique in traditional textiles. If not unique, then it’s hard to name a tradition that equals Berber mastery of this particular tension. In Berber carpets, especially those produced in the Beni Ouarain region, this semi-controlled disorder is said to function as a talisman against evil and as a promoter of  fertility. But it also seems to emanate from the nomadic culture’s more general tolerance of uncertainty, nothingness and change. For example, as mentioned in a previous post, the name of one Berber tribe translates roughly as “a people between somewhere and nowhere.”

As far as the rugs’ characteristic broken line goes, it’s interesting to imagine a force of evil thwarted by this disordered pattern or unruly line and then just wandering off elsewhere. Makes sense, if you think of trying to navigate rural Wales, say, where no signage makes sense. But this is a gross simplification of a sophisticated philosophy. As Paul Valery said “Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder” and perhaps setting those forces against each other in our objects is a daily philosophical exercise in avoiding either. The aesthetic restraint of these textiles is strikingly different from the tightness and horor vacui of many traditional textile designs, not to mention the off-putting tendency of modern hand craft or commercial carpet design toward the overdecorated, the overly tight or the meaninglessly ‘expressive.’

I think what you can feel in these carpets is a a design rationale containing philosophical and cultural depths we just don’t expect of commercial textiles.

These images are a small collection of photos from the excellent Berber Arts site. Directly below, a Berber house in a more permanent settlement.


One more thing

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

“There’s not enough psychedelic stuff on TV. I want the world to be a bit weirder than it is. I hate reality, so I hate reality TV. But I love Columbo.”
— Noel Fielding (of the BBC’s The Mighty Boosh – image of Columbo from a Boosh animation below) & more tributes here.

“I can just imagine Columbo walking through the pearly gates, turning to St Peter and asking “Just one more thing...”
Quote from here, screenshot above from clip here.

“Endgame Strategy” by Pulitzer Prizewinner Chris Hedges

Friday, June 24th, 2011

“We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out.”

If you think the essay below is apocalyptic raving, remember that Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer prize winner and former New York Times political journalist. He has also taught at Princeton and Columbia. His essay “Endgame Strategy: Why the revolution must start in America” was published June 16, 2011. Listen to it read aloud by George Atherton here.

The unrest in the Middle East, the convulsions in Ivory Coast, the hunger sweeping across failed states such as Somalia, the freak weather patterns and the systematic unraveling of the American empire do not signal a lurch toward freedom and democracy but the catastrophic breakdown of globalization. The world as we know it is coming to an end. And what will follow will not be pleasant or easy.

The bankrupt corporate power elite, who continue to serve the dead ideas of unfettered corporate capitalism, globalization, profligate consumption and an economy dependent on fossil fuels, as well as endless war, have proven incapable of radically shifting course or responding to our altered reality. They react to the great unraveling by pretending it is not happening. They are desperately trying to maintain a doomed system of corporate capitalism. And the worse it gets the more they embrace, and seek to make us embrace, magical thinking. Dozens of members of Congress in the United States have announced that climate change does not exist and evolution is a hoax. They chant the mantra that the marketplace should determine human behavior, even as the unfettered and unregulated marketplace threw the global economy into a seizure and evaporated some $40 trillion in worldwide wealth. The corporate media retreats as swiftly from reality into endless mini-dramas revolving around celebrities or long discussions about the inane comments of a Donald Trump or a Sarah Palin. The real world – the one imploding in our faces – is ignored.

The deadly convergence of environmental and economic catastrophe is not coincidental. Corporations turn everything, from human beings to the natural world, into commodities they ruthlessly exploit until exhaustion or death. The race of doom is now between environmental collapse and global economic collapse. Which will get us first? Or will they get us at the same time?

Carbon emissions continue to soar upward, polar ice sheets continue to melt at an alarming rate, hundreds of species are vanishing, fish stocks are being dramatically depleted, droughts and floods are destroying cropland and human habitat across the globe, water sources are being poisoned, and the great human migration from coastlines and deserts has begun. As temperatures continue to rise huge parts of the globe will become uninhabitable. The continued release of large quantities of methane, some scientists have warned, could actually asphyxiate the human species. And accompanying the assault on the ecosystem that sustains human life is the cruelty and stupidity of unchecked corporate capitalism that is creating a global economy of masters and serfs and a world where millions will be unable to survive.

We continue to talk about personalities – Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama or Stephen Harper – although the heads of state and elected officials have become largely irrelevant. Corporate lobbyists write the bills. Lobbyists get them passed. Lobbyists make sure you get the money to be elected. And lobbyists employ you when you get out of office. Those who hold actual power are the tiny elite who manage the corporations. The share of national income of the top 0.1 percent of Americans since 1974 has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 percent. One in six American workers may be without a job. Some 40 million Americans may live in poverty, with tens of millions more living in a category called “near poverty.” Six million people may be forced from their homes in the United States because of foreclosures and bank repossessions. But while the masses suffer, Goldman Sachs, one of the financial firms most responsible for the evaporation of $17 trillion in wages, savings and wealth of small investors and shareholders in the United States, is giddily handing out $17.5 billion in compensation to its managers, including $12.6 million to its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

The massive redistribution of wealth happened because lawmakers and public officials were, in essence, hired to permit it to happen. It was not a conspiracy. The process was transparent. It did not require the formation of a new political party or movement. It was the result of inertia by our political and intellectual class, which in the face of expanding corporate power found it personally profitable to facilitate it or look the other way. The armies of lobbyists, who write the legislation, bankroll political campaigns and disseminate propaganda, have been able to short-circuit the electorate.

Our political vocabulary continues to sustain the illusion of participatory democracy. The Democrats and the Liberal Party in Canada offer minor palliatives and a feel-your-pain language to mask the cruelty and goals of the corporate state. Neofeudalism will be cemented into place whether it is delivered by Democrats and the Liberals, who are pushing us there at 60 miles an hour, or by Republicans and the Conservatives, who are barreling toward it at 100 miles an hour.

“By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes that it can make their interests a priority,” Sheldon Wolin writes, “the Democratic Party pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system.” The Democrats and the Liberals are always able to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism.

It is not that the public in the United States does not want a good healthcare system, programs that provide employment, quality public education or an end to Wall Street’s looting of the U.S. Treasury. Most polls suggest Americans do. But it has become impossible for most citizens in these corporate states to find out what is happening in the centers of power. Television news celebrities dutifully present two opposing sides to every issue, although each side is usually lying. The viewer can believe whatever he or she wants to believe. Nothing is actually elucidated or explained. The sound bites by Republicans or Democrats, the Liberals or the Conservatives, are accepted at face value. And once the television lights are turned off, the politicians go back to the business of serving business.

Human history, rather than being a chronicle of freedom and democracy, is characterized by ruthless domination. Our elites have done what all elites do. They have found sophisticated mechanisms to thwart popular aspirations, disenfranchise the working and increasingly the middle class, keep us passive and make us serve their interests. The brief democratic opening in our society in the early 20th century, made possible by radical movements, unions and a vigorous press, has again been shut tight. We were mesmerized by political charades, cheap consumerism, spectacle and magical thinking as we were ruthlessly stripped of power.

Adequate food, clean water and basic security are now beyond the reach of half the world’s population. Food prices have risen 61 percent globally since December 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund. The price of wheat has exploded, more than doubling in the last eight months to $8.56 a bushel. When half of your income is spent on food, as it is in countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Somalia and Ivory Coast, price increases of this magnitude bring with them widespread malnutrition and starvation. Food prices in the United States have risen over the past three months at an annualized rate of five percent. There are some 40 million poor in the United States who devote 35 percent of their after-tax incomes to pay for food. As the cost of fossil fuel climbs, as climate change continues to disrupt agricultural production and as populations and unemployment swell, we will find ourselves convulsed in more global and domestic unrest. Food riots and political protests will be frequent, as will malnutrition and starvation. Desperate people employ desperate measures to survive. And the elites will use the surveillance and security state to attempt to crush all forms of popular dissent.

The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators. But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the wider society, denounce the orthodoxies peddled in our universities and in the press by corporate apologists and construct our opposition to the corporate state from the ground up. It will not be easy. It will take time. And it will require us to accept the status of social and political pariahs, especially as the lunatic fringe of our political establishment steadily gains power as the crisis mounts. The corporate state has nothing to offer the left or the right but fear. It uses fear to turn the population into passive accomplices. And as long as we remain afraid, or believe that the formal mechanisms of power can actually bring us real reform, nothing will change.

It does not matter, as writers such as John Ralston Saul have pointed out, that every one of globalism’s promises has turned out to be a lie. It does not matter that economic inequality has gotten worse and that most of the world’s wealth has become concentrated in a few hands. It does not matter that the middle class – the beating heart of any democracy – is disappearing and that the rights and wages of the working class have fallen into precipitous decline as labor regulations, protection of our manufacturing base and labor unions have been demolished. It does not matter that corporations have used the destruction of trade barriers as a mechanism for massive tax evasion, a technique that allows conglomerates such as General Electric or Bank of America to avoid paying any taxes. It does not matter that corporations are exploiting and killing the ecosystem for profit. The steady barrage of illusions disseminated by corporate systems of propaganda, in which words are often replaced with music and images, are impervious to truth. Faith in the marketplace replaces for many faith in an omnipresent God. And those who dissent are banished as heretics.

The aim of the corporate state is not to feed, clothe or house the masses but to shift all economic, social and political power and wealth into the hands of the tiny corporate elite. It is to create a world where the heads of corporations make $900,000 an hour and four-job families struggle to survive. The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions. Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, feed the corporate beast at our expense. The decimation of labor unions, the twisting of education into mindless vocational training and the slashing of social services leave us ever more enslaved to the whims of corporations. The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest.

Many of us are seduced by childish happy talk. Who wants to hear that we are advancing not toward a paradise of happy consumption and personal prosperity but toward disaster? Who wants to confront a future in which the rapacious and greedy appetites of our global elite, who have failed to protect the planet, threaten to produce widespread anarchy, famine, environmental catastrophe, nuclear terrorism and wars for diminishing resources? Who wants to shatter the myth that the human race is evolving morally, that it can continue its giddy plundering of nonrenewable resources and its hedonistic levels of consumption, that capitalist expansion is eternal and will never cease?

Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation. This is why these apologists for globalism continue to find a following. And their systems of propaganda have built a vast, global Potemkin village to entertain us. The tens of millions of impoverished Americans, whose lives and struggles rarely make it onto television, are invisible. So are most of the world’s billions of poor, crowded into fetid slums. We do not see those who die from drinking contaminated water or being unable to afford medical care. We do not see those being foreclosed from their homes. We do not see the children who go to bed hungry. We busy ourselves with the absurd.

The game is over. We lost. The corporate state will continue its inexorable advance until two-thirds of the nation and the planet is locked into a desperate, permanent underclass. Most of us will struggle to make a living while the Blankfeins and our political elites wallow in the decadence and greed of the Forbidden City and Versailles. These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word: more. They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes. Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves.  It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and former international correspondent for the New York Times. His latest book is The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.

Photos above from Inhabitat via GlobalPost are of the dwellings of the Hakka people of Fujian province, China:

“War and conflict often bring about the destruction of architecture, however these forces can also result in new constructions that define a cultural identity and place. Stressed by China’s growing population, the Hakka people have been confronted with armed warfare for local resources since the 17th century. To remedy their situation the Hakka began building massive structures that could not only stave off intruders, but would also form amazing self-sustaining micro-communities complete with food storage, space for livestock, living quarters, temples, armories and more.”

PS It now looks as if “food security” may not necessarily mean that metropolitan areas produce all their own food inside city limits, however. Read this.


“We are all Canucks” until we riot, apparently. Then it’s the work of a “handful.”

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

BC Lottery Corp ad, Canucks monster

“Hockey’s over-the-top fandom (and the same could be said for the Olympics) seems a frantic expression of what the post-modern metropolis and its high-rise ghettos lack and even deliberately negate — a human-scale community in which individuals feel purposeful and acknowledged.”

“In the absence of any shared collective progressive principles, the BC elite longed for a new solidarity forged from of this “fighting collectivity” of Canucks fans. You could not find a politician that didn’t reinforce the jingoism, not the least with Premier Christy Clark speaking exclusively in hockey metaphors. But grounding social solidarity in competitive spectacle is a risky wager, as the solidarity can be wiped away by a 0-4 tally.”

Excerpts above are from “The Canucks’ Cup run, like war, has brought us together” by Lee Bacchus and “Spectacular Vancouver conquers itself” by Tristan Markle. Also see The Stanley Cup riot shames Vancouver by Matthew Good in The Guardian, Please Stop Saying You’re the ‘Real’ Vancouver by Professor Jon Beasley-Murray in The Tyee; The myths of Vancouver’s superiority do the city a disservice by Dave Bidini in the National Post; Busting myths of Vancouver’s destructive Stanley Cup riot and The sad, painful truth about the rioters’ true identities by Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail,  Dear Hooligans by Morgan Brayton, and other commentaries from Politics ReSpun and here. Great piece on the growing culture of citizen surveillance here. And on the other side, I disagree with this and most other media reports which seem to share in the collective denial that this is widespread and has anything to do with hockey.

I live blocks from the brute architectural atrocity that is Rogers Arena. It wears an enormous corporate banner declaring that “We are all Canucks.” The thing is, we are not all “Canucks,” and I’m irritated every time I go past the stadium. For some of us hockey is just a blood-sport corporate franchise that whips people into a frenzy without outlet and that does nothing real for community. Meanwhile it saps community energy from everything else, for months on end, including and especially all those things that don’t end in riots. (Like music, arts and culture, for starters. Just try to have produced anything non-hockey for an audience in Vancouver these past many months. And hockey will probably dominate the key months of next year, too. The season is far too long, and no one and nothing can compete with the corporate marketing and broadcast budgets involved.)

On the night of the Stanley Cup final, I went with two friends and a young child to the CBC fan zone. We arrived around 5:15, just minutes after the game had started. We mainly wanted to witness the phenomenon downtown. Even at the very beginning of the game the mood was tense and unpleasant, with lots of drinking and pushiness. We walked our bikes past a man covered in blood but sitting quietly next to a police officer, almost as if this were normal. My friend took her child home after fifteen minutes, and I left thirty minutes later. There was no actual joy I could identify anywhere, very little real creativity, and no sign of what I’d consider a happy carnival atmosphere. It felt sharp-edged and desperate. Everyone knows what happened three hours later.

Aquilini, the developer who owns the Canucks, should answer for some of this. So should the rest of the NHL ownership, with its aggressive advertising and increasing tolerance—or let’s face it, encouragement—of violence in the game. I’m really surprised that anyone can honestly believe that the game’s violence doesn’t set an answering tone amongst spectators.

Meanwhile, Vancouver (not to mention all of British Columbia) needs to look to itself. Whatever hockey fans may wish to believe, this riot was not the work of an isolated few people. I was there, having cycled back to the edge of downtown around 9 pm with a friend to make sure the crowd hadn’t smashed the windows of the gallery I work with, which is located half a block from the riot site at the Main Post Office. Even from a safe distance we could see thousands of young people—who were clearly fans—cheering on the violence, every explosion met by widespread cheers. People seemed fuelled by a kind of fatal exhilaration. Many hundreds if not thousands were involved in the smashing and looting. It seems obvious that no matter how the police had responded, the night would have gone badly; there was nowhere else for the deliberately engineered fan frenzy to go. Aggressive energy has an ecology or economy that our uniformly pro-hockey politicians simply don’t seem to understand. And to those saying Night 7 was different than Nights 5 or 6, I’d say to you that it’s simply not true. Monday and the previous Friday felt exactly the same. Each night the fans mirrored the games themselves – scrappy, restless, and aggressive. On night 5, drunk fans from the Blarney Stone bar crashed an opening at Artspeak Gallery across the street, drunkenly manhandling artworks and intimidating the guests.

All those wishing to say that last night’s riot signifies nothing about our city nor about hockey and its fans, but should just be written off as the work of a handful, need to get more realistic quick. The way hockey is managed is a serious problem, and so is the fact that this region produces so little else in the way of widely accessible culture, thanks to the government’s aggressive anti-cultural stance and its radical, unique-in-Canada slashing of cultural budgets. The riot just revealed in a more tangible way than usual a structural lack of cohesive community fabric. Manufactured hockey “solidarity” is not real. It produces no solid identity nor pride in one’s own environment. There are cultural and socioeconomic problems at work here, and the hockey machine—with its ramped up fandom—is undeniably amplifying them.

Canucks fans

Canucks car with anti-Boston sentiments

Rogers Arena - Canucks

Rogers Arena - Canucks

Canucks fan. Wearing AXE body spray.

Two addendums on the topic of urban and social planning:

Canucks owner The Aquilini Group has built perhaps the ugliest stadium in North America smack in the middle of Vancouver’s downtown. (2 stadiums side by side near a beautiful waterfront—a travesty of urban planning.) Now we hear that Aquilini is involved in the development of more infernal cookie-cutter condo highrises. How many more concessions will we give to these people? Aquilini Sr. made his money as a slum landlord—why are his aesthetics now to be ours? On top of which his hockey franchise has teamed up with the government’s BC Lottery Corp to market online Canucks sports betting to a young male market, which happens to be the fastest growing gambling demographic of gambling addicts in Canada, a statistic highly correlated with teen substance abuse and suicide. Look at the remarkably aggro ad at top, and take a stab at which target audience it wants to attract. Should we not aggregate all of these things and ask ourselves who we really want to build our community with, and how?

From Ian Reid’s article Not your mother’s brand of anarchist in the Vancouver Observer:

“If you think about it, since 2001 – and under the direction of the BC Liberal government – Vancouver’s spent a lot of its money and most of its energies building a city that’s dependent upon short lived spectacles and mass gatherings.”

We have largely failed to produce the sort of long-lived, stable cultural life that makes cities successful. The current City Council has actually been doing a great job of trying to build stable cultural life here, but given the BC government’s unreasonable cultural cuts, the City must swim against a strong current. And add this to rampant property speculation, insanely high housing costs, bully boy developers, and a city demolishing its history and identity as fast as it can to build a condo-ridden mediocrity in the image of pure capital—it’s a hard city to love right now, let alone helm. The harshness of hockey mirrors the harshness of the current political economy. I’m hoping for a hiatus from hockey, a property speculation tax, hockey fans who spend as much on arts and culture as they do on hockey, and a summer of love.


I got to spend several hours chatting to Gordie Howe at a party in Vancouver last August (this is the sort of thing that can happen if you’re a hockey hater). He complained about pain in his elbows and I told him it was his own fault. He laughed good-naturedly and agreed.