The Original Tourist Destination

Would You Walk 500 Miles?

This month in EnRoute Magazine.


The place has a gravitational pull all its own. Just passing Amenal, 10 kilometers east, walking through a light rain, before I even glimpse the tips of its famous cathedral spires, I feel Santiago de Compostella like a spinning vortex just over the green rim of the Galician horizon. It moves people.

The Spanish town has had this effect for a long time. Consider that it was way back in the ninth century when the Apostle James’ tomb was reportedly found on a hill nearby. Word spread; people began to arrive. On foot, on horseback. Alone and in caravans. So many people that by the 12th century, an ambassador for Emir Ali ben Yusuf wrote back to his master, “So great is the multitude that comes and goes, that there is barely enough space on the pavement.”

Posted: Monday, May. 17, 2010 6:25am

Ladies and Gentlemen: Kevin House

The title of Kevin House's new show - tonight, that is May 6, 2010 at the Red Gate Gallery at 156 West Hastings Street at Cambie - is telling. It's the grouping title, you could say, of a whole group of strange and wonderful pieces that House has done about Vancouver at some unspecified point in its just-pre-Modernity. What House has going on here are a number of developed back stories - of singers, performers, side show freaks and assorted other demi-tragedies of a more innocent era - that have been extruded through his imagination and into his latest (greatest, weirdest) form: the painted and miniaturely sculpted 78 record.

Posted: Thursday, May. 6, 2010 6:01am

Launch Party for Darwin's Bastards

Fun launch party planned for the anthology of speculative fiction Darwin's Bastards, to which I contributed the story Sunshine City.
I quote from the D&M website: "Are you one of Darwin's Bastards? There's only one way to find out. Join the stellar cast of contributing writers at one of two great events we have planned to launch Darwin's Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow. We're in Vancouver and Toronto wearing some cosmic costumes, performing some psychedelic shows, and having some futuristic fun. All with the amazing emcee stylings of Zsuzsi Gartner, who edited and compiled the collection."
I'll be reading from the opening of Sunshine City.
Friday, April 16
The Wise Hall, 1882 Adanac Street
doors at 8 pm
Also featuring: Laura Trunkey, Jay Brown, Paul Carlucci, Adam Lewis Schroeder, Annabel Lyon, Oliver Kellhammer, Lee Henderson


Posted: Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 8:54pm

The Tiger Trap

From The Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine April 2010
In December, a pair of UC Davis economists estimated that Tiger Woods's off-course philandering managed to wipe out about $12 billion (all currency in U.S. dollars) market value for his sponsors. It wasn't long before experts were speculating that the whole celebrity endorsement market was headed for a crash. One fallible human could not be relied on to personify a whole brand, was the suggestion from at least one consultant. And the sports attorney who writes the excellent blog Sportsbiz pragmatically pointed out that insurance costs were sure to rise for endorsement deals, driving down any hopes of profitability.
Posted: Thursday, Apr. 8, 2010 9:54am

The Wilde Room: Chapter 5

Cillian Foley greeting Jeremy at the door to his den, after Jeremy had been shown down a labyrinth of halls by the Foley house manager. Martine’s father, it was clear even before Jeremy arrived, had serious matters in mind. That much Jeremy gleaned from Martine’s manner in setting up the meeting up in the first place. A seemingly spontaneous idea, although Jeremy realized it had been much more deeply considered. In this case, she’d woken up that morning after the news of Jeremy’s father’s death, and the idea of a summit meeting between the chef and his lords was fully planned in her mind, something necessary before he left and dealt with things back in Canada. But as soon as she said it, her head leaned in close to him, her morning smell reaching him – fabric softener, peppermint, organic fair trade medium roasted Columbian beans – Jeremy knew the idea had gone to sleep with her and taken shape, her mind gently at work as her slender hands lay weightless on the light blue sheets.
Posted: Thursday, Mar. 25, 2010 9:46am

Notebooks: The Blue Light Project - A01

A01 is one of the artists I followed around during the writing of my new novel The Blue Light Project. His work impressed me hugely in a number of different ways. The first and most obvious way related simply to how prolific he was. The photo above is from a series called Local Photo Posters. At the time I met him, he estimated he'd put up 200 of these in Vancouver and was plannng 300 more. He has since done a similar series in Toronto, although I don't have pictures of any of those.

Some of these photos are from A01's website, by the way, which you should check out. He's an artist of super-charged intensity and complex idea.

Posted: Friday, Mar. 19, 2010 7:59am

Darwin's Bastards

A collection of speculative fiction written by writers who (mostly) aren't known for their speculative fiction. You might have wondered how Zsuzsi Gartner and D&M's project could possibly work. I'm biased. I have a story in the collection. But I love the results. Great contributions from Adam Lewis Shroeder, Elyse Friedman, Lee Henderson, Sheila Heti, Anosh Irani, lots of others.

A strong dystopian fragrance hangs over these stories. But the stories suggest in total that we've arrived at a particular point in history when it comes to speculation. We're past shiny optimism. But we tend to roll our eyes at romantic depression too. Characters in these stories may hope reflexively, without much obvious justification for doing so. But they do hope, do aspire. They don't despair. Go bastards. 

D&M has published this book, and made a funny video too. I'm really proud to be part of this one.

Posted: Thursday, Mar. 18, 2010 7:44am

Going to Mecca, or its near equivalent

When I was writing my architecture novel, Story House, I had a small library of images that I used to shape my sense of Packer Gordon, the senior architect in the story. It's no secret that Arthur Erikson was one inspiration, particularly his wooden houses. And especially the beautiful Filberg House.

But Vladimir Ossipoff, the Hawaii based modernist, was another inspiration.

And now, after all these years, I'm finally going to see his work in real life. I'll be in Hawaii for 10 days, mid March, working on a number of stories. But a piece for Western Living (guided so creatively by Charlene Rooke over the past few years) will be about Ossipoff. I'll be touring various buildings of his, including the famous Liljestrand House and the Goodsill House.

Amazing. Thanks Western Living. This is going to seriously rock.

Posted: Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2010 1:09pm

Age and Innovation

From the February 2010 Report on Business Magazine
You may have heard rumours that the Mayan calendar forecasts the world will end in 2012. However, the Mayans missed a lesser milestone: In two years' time, fully half of all federal government employees will be eligible for retirement.
Yes, the work force is aging. There will soon be fewer young people entering the work force than there are older people leaving it. The demographic shift has Stanford economist Paul Romer worried. "Young people, I think, tend to be more innovative, more willing to take risks, more willing to do things differently," he said in a recent interview, "and they may be very important, disproportionately important, in this innovation and growth process."
Posted: Monday, Mar. 1, 2010 9:48am

The Wilde Room: Chapter 4

Shrewsbury Road
Ollie called Monday of the following week. Jeremy’s oldest friend in the world had turned his own life upside down since those long ago Vancouver days. Sold his company and started the fund. Let his marriage dissolve. Relapsed hard into booze as best Jeremy could make out. Now, among all those many other things, Ollie seemed unable to phone at anything other than a bad time. Ollie thought of Jeremy whenever there was no deal left to be done, or no guests left awake. He called whenever the action had temporarily subsided wherever he happened to be, and these were always straining, in-between times.
Posted: Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 11:05am
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