Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This Day in History

On June 27th 1905 Russian sailors mutinied against their oppressive commanders on the Battleship Potempkin, which some say was the first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.
On June 27th 1884, Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in a jail in Carthage, Illinois. If only their religion had died with them.
On June 27th 1893, the New York Stock Exchange crashed.
Other events can be read about at
I share my birthday with Charles Stewart Parnell, Captain Kangaroo, Emma Goldman, Helen Keller, Paul von Mauser, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Spider-Man. (aka Tobey Maguire)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Super-Developed British Columbia

CD in Play: Stereolab, Oscillons from the Anti-Sun (Disc 1)

Growing up in British Columbia we are constantly bombarded with how beautiful our province is. BC, we are constantly told, is the most beautiful place on Earth. Picture perfect post cards depict snow-capped mountains, the deep greens and rich browns of the temperate rain forest, rugged coastlines with crashing waves, the long winding rivers of the Interior. For decades our tourism slogan has been Super, Natural British Columbia. At one point BC saw it self as a diamond in the rough - a bit provincial, not so cosmopolitan - just in need of a bit of work get the right shine. But if I may say, we are no longer that diamond in the rough. Rather, British Columbia has become a diamond that is being overly roughed up.
I have hit on this theme before in this blog, over-development and the loss of natural spaces are a serious concern for me. Chalk some of it up to sentimentality if you will, but there was something to be said for the British Columbia and the Lower Mainland that I grew up in. My hometown of Port Coquitlam is a particular sore spot for me. It started as a farming community in 1859 and incorporated a little over 50 years later. As developed as PoCo was when I was growing up there, it was still easy to find a lot of natural beauty in the area - from tall, dense stands of trees to wetlands flourishing in the now fallow fields to the east by the Pitt River. The trees are disappearing and strip malls and townhouse complexes are taking their place. The fallow fields have been bought up and dug up and replaced with big box retailers, big brand coffee shops, fast food and suburban tailored eateries.
Some would argue that land unused is land wasted. But the bigger waste to my mind is to build the big expansive retail lots that provide a short lived boost for the local economy and then become concrete, asphalt, wood and aluminum sided ghost towns. Those fallow fields and stands of trees gave Port Coquitlam character, made it look like a desirable place to live - made it look like it was a part of "Super, Natural British Columbia". It gave wildlife someplace to be other than in our dumpsters and backyards.
I also don't think it is good for human beings to be so removed from the natural environment. The human environment is seldom designed for the preservation of mental health. It is designed to accommodate the concerns of revenue first and foremost. Pack in the people, pack in the services and damn the repercussions. Sure, cities and municipalities plug in some parks every once and a while, but there is nothing quit like natural space unattended and "uncrafted" by human beings. One of my complaints about Montreal is the lack of accessible natural space. I started to feel claustrophobic, trapped between the endless parade of human enterprise. Friends would tell me to hang out on the "mountain" - meaning Mount Royal, a very tall hill with a park in the middle of the city. It is a nice park, but not what I would call natural space. True urbanites don't comprehend this, having known nothing but designed space. (or have been out of touch with natural space for too long) Some are jaded when it comes to wilderness or natural space. I was referred to as a naturalist by some aspiring Montreal writers - it was a term of mild derision.They could not relate to natural space or the need to be in it. For some of these people, everything natural was alien.
There is a whole generation of Lower Mainlander that is becoming exactly like this. They live in city or the suburbs, but nature is something akin to drapery or window dressing. Most of their interactions with "Super, Natural British Columbia" is what they see on television, in glossy picture books, calenders, online, or out their windows in the distance. (assuming, of course, they can afford to have a view)
Maybe this view of mine seems quaint to some of you? It seems to me though, that in our rush to generate revenue that we have been destroying and losing touch with the very thing that makes British Columbia so worth living in.
Photo by Bobanny

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Geek Mythology

CD in Play: Wilco, Sky Blue Sky

I have had a reoccuring dream ever since the age of 11, back in 1981, about my classmates and I becoming the embodiment of the Greek Gods. I was living in Mission, BC at the time and had always been fascinated by Greek mythology. I still recall the dream in both conscious and unconscious states to this day. Some of the classmates remain in tact, others become hazy. In the dream I always assume the role of Prometheus, always at odds with my classmates who revel in their apparent godhood. I suppose I should have paid closer attention to the dream as a kid. C'est la vie...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ever Heard of This?

CDs in Play this Weekend: Andy Summers and Robert Fripp, I Advance Masked. Praxis, Sacrafist. Deconstruction, eponymous.

June 18th is Austic Pride Day. Not to denigrate the austic in anyway as my Mum used to work with them, but this day really isn't about the "autists" as such. Let's face it: is an autistic person going to feel pride in anything at all, let alone his or her own condition. It has to be tough on people who live with autistic persons, but this day sounds dumb. Call me insensitive (most people have at one point or another) but Autistic Pride Day sounds too touchy-feely, too politically correct. What about Austic Awareness Day/Week?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Here Cookie!"

I laughed so damned hard when I saw this. A riff on The Shining.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ashes of Hometown Flags

CD in Play: The Police, Regatta de Blanc

This is the flag of my hometown, Port Coquitlam. Coquitlam is a derivation of the native term Kwikwet'lam which either means "little red fish", "smells like fish", or "smelly red fish": I have heard all three offered up as the definitive definitions. Can't explain why I am so passionate about my hometown - it ain't anything special. But I do still care about what happens there. Note to city council - you fucked it up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Facebook's Popularity Explained?

CD in Play: Matthew Sweet, Altered Beast

I was thinking about the whole Facebook phenomena and I think I may have latched onto something. Facebook is a surrogate social life. News outlets are always on about how Canadians are working more and have less time to spend with family and friends. Facebook is a way of spending time with your social circle without actually spending time with them. Hell, Pete Chattaway pokes me constantly on Facebook so his presence is a constant factor in my life these days and I maybe see Pete twice a month.
I prefer Blogger as a means of communication since it requires time and thought, but I don't have internet at home at the moment and blogging ain't easy at my place of work. Facebook is. Aside from Facebook addicts who spend oodles of time obsessively pouring over that system, Facebook is easy to use in quick bursts throughout the day. Maybe if people had more time to themselves and were still able to stay afloat financially, Facebook might not be such the phenomena it is at this time?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Crackbook, Surely

CD in Play: Andy Summers and Robert Fripp, I Advance Masked

I started a Facebook account. It is kind of like Myspace but it looks better and isn't choked up with web-ho's and spambots. Amber Hark was the first person I know to call it Crackbook and it truly is. Less cumbersome than email, easier to work on than a blog (especially at work) : Facebook is growing and many of the people who use it are hooked. I will walk by a computer lab at work and see at least 80% of the students on-line on Facebook. Every single co-worker I have has an account and they check it periodically throughout the day.
When people stated their fears of how the internet could become virtual life, maintaining relationships online rather than in person, those fears were never more fully realised than on Facebook. Some of it is self-deception: people collecting as many "friends" as possible so they can say they have competitively collected x number of "friends". For me it has been a good way to track people down with whom I had lost touch. Amber and Alex Hark were two such people and, apparently, they had recently been wondering what became of me too.
Still, crackbook it is and as I write this I realise that I have been away from it for far too long... excuse me.