Notebook

Things, articles, pages that have inspired my writing. Over 2010, this section will also include short pieces and pictures about artists that inspired my new novel The Blue Light Project.

They're Everywhere

 

Holy stickers Batman. These things have hit Toronto, New York, Halifax... everywhere.

Now they've reportedly crossed the pond. They're going up in the UK now.

Move over Banksy. Or whatever. I have no idea what this means.

Posted: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 9:47am

Igloolik Dubai

My third novel The Blue Light Project was published in March/April and book business, touring etc, consumed most of those two months.

In May I had to get back to work. That means magazine work. And that means travel. I still very much enjoy this aspect of my freelance life. This time around in particular, I had an unusual schedule that took me to Igloolik, in Nunuvut, which is in Canada's arctic...

...and then to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, 9000 kilometers away in one of the hottest desert areas known to man.

The experience generated plenty of stark contrasts, as you might imagine. -40 C versus +40 C is perhaps the most obvious. Ditto the landscapes of frozen snow and hot sand. But there's also the area of wealth and development, where Dubai's skyline seems to grow while you watch it and Igloolik is a clutch of low buildings along a remote stretch of beach in the Canadian high arctic. An international hub in the middle east versus an isolated hamlet in the frozen north. What two places could be more different?

And yet a couple of things struck me powerfully as being shared by these places. Both the Emiratis and the Inuit are ancient people, whose entrance into post-modernity has been relatively sudden. And in both places I was there to interview people whose lives are crucially connected to the project of staying in touch with ancient ways.

In the north, that person was Zacharius Kunuk, the legendary Inuit filmmaker who brought us the films The Fast Runner and The Journals of Knud Rassmussen.

Kunuk is a fascinating individual, whose committment to Inuit tradition comes paired with a fully post-modern engagement with technology and global thinking. I look forward to writing a profile of him and his work for an upcoming issue of Canadian Art.

In the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, I was there to write several pieces that will run in Spafax Canada publications. But one of those assignments allowed me to meet Peter Bergh, one of the best known falconers in the world.

Falconry is a 2500 year old tradition in the middle east, and in a culture that isn't easy to penetrate for western outsiders, it offers a fascinating window into the history of the region. I'll be writing about Peter and the experience of working with his birds in an upcoming issue of Fairmont Magazine.

 

Posted: Tuesday, May. 24, 2011 10:10am

Chef Mavro Interview 2010

 
For the essay series Global is the New Local published in EnRoute Magazine in September, October and December 2010, I visited Hawaii and ate my way around the island of Oahu. One of the best meals, of the trip and probably my life so far, was had at Chef Mavro's, where extremely high-end does not mean pretentious. And where I didn't feel like keeling over after our eight course meal (like I did after eating what Tom Aikens had to offer, for example).
Here's the transcript of our conversation, which touches on his idea about "regional", the technical reasons his cuisine is so approachable and paradoxically light, as well as his creative process in creating a new menu item.
ON REGIONAL CUISINE
Chef Mavro: When I arrived in Hawaii it was just starting. You maybe know this story. When I arrived, many restaurants were doing “continental cuisine”. Mahi mahi with beurre blanc, even though Mahi Mahi wasn’t from here, it was frozen from Mexico. Everyone was doing a Caesar salad and a shrimp cocktail. But there were already a group of chefs Roy, Alan Wong, Sam Choy, and we say: we don’t do Caesar salad. So we created Hawaii Regional Cuisine. And we started of course to work with farmers who were doing specific ingredients just for us. Nalo farms was one of them.
Posted: Thursday, Sep. 2, 2010 11:02am
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The Blue Light Project - The Canadian Cover

The Canadian cover of my new novel has been finalized. Scott Richardson is the designer and I think he's done a great job. The flying man is doing a parkour stunt. Wonder what he's running from? I bet it's really tense. I bet there's danger involved.

I'd buy it. Of course, I am biased.

Posted: Monday, Jun. 21, 2010 9:01pm

V-TARP: The Vancouver Transit Adspace Reappropriation Project

So Banksy declares street art dead and apparently nobody was listening. JermIX certainly wasn't. Working with UK import Vegas - a stencil artist of remarkable skill - Jerm has launched what many consider his most aggressive campaign ever. VTARP, it's called. Vancouver Transit Adspace Reappropriation Project. Which sounds like a black line item in the DND budget. But which is actually a guerilla program involving dozens of artists who are putting up art on public transit vehicles in empty ad space.

That's right. The white space between McDonalds and VanCity ads is being filled with art. And Translink is greatly annoyed, although also a bit impressed judging from their very formal, though very cordial letter sent to the two organizing artists.

Posted: Thursday, Jun. 3, 2010 12:01pm

Rabbit Receiving his own Information

On a gig for Western Living Magazine, I toured the Willamette Valley recently. Lots of gems to discover there, like Whole Hog Wednesdays at the Dundee Bistro. And of course several hundred small, high-craft wineries that produce the amazing fruity, farmy pinot noirs of the region.

But I particularly enjoyed "meeting" the mascot of the Scott Paul Winery. He's a rabbit. And the painting of him, which Scott Paul used to inspire the rabbit on their label, is by Oregon artist Cody Bustamante. The painting is called "Rabbit Receiving his own Information", and it shows the animal with his head cocked to the sky, as if listening to a timely bit of advice.

The story behind the painting is a good one.

Posted: Monday, May. 31, 2010 10:58am

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

Notebooks: The Blue Light Project - Take5

Take5 was one of the first street artists I became aware of, during the writing and researching of The Blue Light Project. He was doing a serie of these beautiful chief's head posters and stencils in the neighborhood around my office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were many more than the map shows, but this reflects my dawning awareness that right in the streets around my building, there was this artistic project going on.

Posted: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 8:36am

Notebooks: Stanley Park

Sometimes your notebooks surprise you. Here I discover that my character Trout (a kid) from my novel Stanley Park, was originally conceived as a Manchester United fan.

The horror.

Posted: Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010 9:15pm
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Notebooks: The Blue Light Project - JermIX

JermIX is one of the artists that inspired me during the writing of my new novel, The Blue Light Project. It's possible to know about JermIX (aka Jerm, aka Jerm9ine) and not even realize you know about him. That's because he is one of the most prolific and dedicated street artists I've encountered. I'll be posting lots more about him and other street artists over the next months, but for now, just check out this image.

Posted: Monday, Dec. 21, 2009 11:26am
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