fear & loathing in Lotusland

Month: September, 2012

Here Was Man

by Zbigniew

To mark the occasion of this blog’s 50th posting, a peerless oddity from our the past: the monograph of John Poole-West’s long forgotten gallery presentation Here Was Man.

“Grandiose” would be a kind description. Highlighting human evolution and speculating on humanity’s future trajectory, the 50 images that comprised the 1962 exhibit represent a heroic quantity of sepia-toned cheese. Nonetheless, this atomic age cri de coeur from the land that spawned Greenpeace anticipated current concerns of environmental and social degradation, such disparate cultural fare as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Omega Man, Zardoz, and The Turner Diaries, and even the “do-it-yourself” cultural production aesthetic.

Questions abound. Where was the exhibit held? Why would Sabena Belgian World Airlines, Belgium’s then national air carrier, sponsor such as bizarre presentation? And, in particular, who the devil was John Poole-West? The answers, like so much in our ever-changing psychogeography, lie buried.

Thanks to the perspicacious Sarah for disinterring this rarity.


“An exhibition of paintings posters and sketches illustrating the story of man’s incredible journey through time from his beginnings to the present day – followed by a thought-provoking and frankly imaginative preview of his hypothetical but possible future.”

Designed and Painted by

John Poole-West

Vancouver, B.C., January 1962

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From the Museum of Vancouver catalogue:

Artifact History

Donor Saw exhibit of Poole-West’s prints/pictures in 1962 (probably at UBC), and purchased this booklet afterwards. Have not been able to locate any other work by John Poole-West.

Physical Description

Booklet/catalogue; red cover done in lighter and darker vertical red stripes; foreground has beige line-drawing of globe with blank beige circle at the centre inscribed with “119” (done by hand using black pen) and large brush-font title in black announcing “Here Was Man”; authors name appears in bottom right corner “John Poole-West” in similar, smaller font; back cover is blank, manila coloured; 1st facing page blank; inside pages are all in sepia-tone; 1st inside page explains, in calligraphic script, the narrative format of this collection of “paintings, posters and sketches”; bottom of page informs that exhibit is sponsored by Sabena Belgian World Airlines; each following page has at least 1 image and calligraphic caption consisting of musings on accomplishments of man and, eventually, on his possible demise as result of nuclear war; 50 images in all; no index, table of contents or publication information.

Seen in Passing: Union & Raymur

by Zbigniew


by DJKlueless

Introducing intrepid contributor and “clueless emigre” DJKlueless.

The debris field of the Japanese tsunami is estimated at the size of California. While artifacts have begun to wash-up on British Columbia’s coast, the bulk of detritus and human remains is not expected to hit for another two to three years. Relief can be gleaned by the fact that much of the matter (boats, homes, shoes, toothbrushes) will come to rest in the ever-expanding Pacific Trash Vortex (aka the Great Pacific Garbage Patch).


I’ve been to more than my share of aquaria: Montreal, Orlando, Hong Kong …. I wasn’t particularly interested in visiting the Vancouver Aquarium. I know what awaits –the same kind of feeling I get when I’m in a mall, but with more obligation.

The ordeal begins in the parking lot. From a distance the pay stands are unremarkable. Not until I am within a few metres of the device am I made aware of the necessity of inputting my vehicle’s license plate number -up to now a completely useless piece of information that I have not bothered to memorize. I’m not alone: a growing crowd, all expressing confusion. We dutifully march back to our vehicles to play the “who gets to the meter first” game. The process is slowed down by a nonstandard keypad with a less than sensitive touch. All in an effort, I imagine, to prevent the marginal revenue loss from the reallocation of unused parking time. Doesn’t seem worth it. Annoyance grows.

We line up to pay admission and are forced to proceed by a “green screen” where we are told that we are having our pictures taken. What? Why? Ah, so you can pay $20 later for a print of you and yours confusedly grinning amongst the penned porpoises or bored belugas. “No,” I say. “I don’t want my picture taken.” A large, hirsute, olive skinned man is put out. “Alright,” he says impatiently, “you can say no.” Annoyance spikes. Admission: just shy of $50 for two adults. Sinking resignation.

Fifteen-month-old Sam toddles about, less interested in the contents of tanks than the faux ‘environmental’ features that surrounded them. I remark on how small and disproportionate the display of jellyfish is. As the oceans become overfished, more toxic, and foodchains are increasingly disrupted, these curious invertebrates are expected to eventually dominate. Up, up he wants to climb, mostly unaware of the fish and sea mammals inches from his face. Developmentally these visual displays are of marginal use, but I knew that going in. Exotic birds pique some interest while a hermitic sloth remains beyond focus. At least Sam is enjoying himself.

Lunchtime. The concession stand is supposed to open at 11:00 AM: it doesn’t. While a small army of uniforms scurry about, looking busy, the place is apparently short staffed. The “flow” of the concourse dining area is fractured by a tarped-off cubicle, which opens promptly at 11:00. Anything to eat for a small and weary land mammal? An abundance of chachkas, knickknacks and schmatas for your consumption. Eat! Eat!

It’s hard not to remark on how small the pens are for the belugas, porpoises and otters. Okay: we are raising awareness. But there is a show starting soon. Not only are these highly intelligent creatures (perhaps more so than us, we don’t know and are likely afraid of knowing) corralled for our indiscriminate gaze, they must routinely entertain us, perform the equivalent of mundane and repetitive parlour tricks for our gratification. This sucks. We couldn’t watch even if we wanted to, as diminutive types like us lose the battle for the glass when pitted against meat and dairy fed goliaths. Time to go. A nap awaits.

The final assault: I should have seen it coming. I’ve been through airports and DisneyWorld and I know that rust and retail never sleep. The sanctioned and sanctimonious exit to this strange place is -of course- a gift shop featuring more made in Asia trinkets -the only striking feature here being the jarring and uninspired lighting. The forced meander of the path serves only to delay freedom.

That floating tide of garbage? It’s already here.

Seen in Passing: Crowley & Aberdeen

by Zbigniew


Seen in Passing: Boundary & Central Valley Greenway

by Zbigniew

Refuge: Blackberries

by Zbigniew

“Blackberry vines are one of the first plants to appear when soil is left uncultivated or is exposed by clearing. Left alone, they form thick evergreen mats along the edges of fields, streams, power lines, railways, parkland, and highways. In dense urban areas, they may find space in cracked pavement, along fence lines, or in untended gardens and back lanes. Their strong, barbed canes will grow to reach several meters long, arching over fences, walls, and small buildings. The surfacing of Rubus ursinus in Vancouver is an example of real wild.”

Stacey Moriarty, “blackberry”, Vancouver Matters


A cluster of malls are nearby, but this is the antipode of greasy food courts and ready-made goods. At this confluence of stream, railway, highway and park, cash and credit have no force but a bounty of sweet fruit is on offer for no greater price than a little labour. A refuge marked by stained fingers, and the odd -if vicious- scratch.

The days shorten, the air cools; the quiet blackberry harvest underscores the change.

Something Happened

by Zbigniew

“ … I had a really nice part in [Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains]. I mean, I have, like, one second in the final-cut version, where I say “You’re fired” to Diane Lane. That’s about all you see of me. But I actually opened the movie with a hilarious scene, and .… You know, show business is bizarre, the things that happen. I was in New York doing a play at the time, and I auditioned for this part for Lou Adler, who directed the movie. He flew me to Vancouver, back in 1981, I guess, when Vancouver was unbelievably beautiful. They hadn’t done the whole high-rise rape of the city, as they’ve now done in Toronto, too, where everywhere you look, it’s steel-and-glass high-rises instead of the beautiful city it was. So I was thrilled to be there, and then I had this really funny, great scene. It took place in a McDonald’s, where Diane was employed by me, but I was being interviewed by a TV station and ….  Well, I won’t go into what the scene was all about, but it was a really fun scene. But somewhere, something happened.”

Brent Spiner