fear & loathing in Lotusland

Month: February, 2013


by Zbigniew

“Vancouverism” is a city planning pharmaceutical comprised of a downtown core of high-density residential towers, developer-funded amenities, extensive street level commercial activity, and public transit, parks and other infrastructure. Proponents claim the drug will make the subject Sustainable, Diverse, and Vibrant.

It’s popular. San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne, Dubai and a host of others are all “Vancouverizing.”

However, there are reports of consistent and serious inflammatory side effects that have collectively been labeled “Vancouveritis”. Symptoms include: a speculative mania leading to gentrification; a widespread blandness due to reduced economic and social diversity; a community amenity discharge that tends to disappear permanently into civic coffers; fissures erupting along an overburdened public infrastructure; an uncontrollable urge to destroy anything of historic or cultural value. While symptoms may be limited to the core for a time, repeated use will result in their inevitable spread to the extremities. Tissue damage is severe and irreversible.

Attempts to mollify symptoms tend to make the subject more susceptible to further inflammation. While negative effects can be contained through withdrawal, a prolonged state of depression is likely to follow.


The Cringe: Vancouver Nights

by Zbigniew

“Vancouver Nights”, from The British Columbia Suite (1969)

Stereo, Capilano Records CAPS 701, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Gatefold sleeve album within, with 8 pages of color photographs of Beautiful British Columbia. Notes to rear by then BC Prime Minister W. A. C. (Wacky) Bennett. The British Columbia Suite, composed and conducted by Nelson Riddle

Seen in Passing: Commercial & 12th

by Zbigniew


Burning Down the House

by Zbigniew

Where once I went to openings, now I’m more likely to attend a closing: the Granville 7, the Centre ‘A’ Gallery’s BC Electric Building venue, The Waldorf. It’s a decidedly odd way to spend a weekend evening, the aesthetic equivalent of chopping up the living room furniture to fuel the fireplace.


The lobby is tall, but incredibly narrow. As the ceiling drops, the path narrow some more to accommodate the long concession on the south side of the building. It’s like being in a tunnel.

Turning north and entering the theatre proper, it all changes dramatically -like suddenly stumbling on a clearing in a forest. I’ve never been able to enter this space without pausing for a moment: the undulating ceiling, the hardwood floors that swoop gently down before turning up again at a screen flanked by giant clam shells. Taking its cue from the wilderness that once stood here, a church oriented to the cardinal directions and dedicated to the celebration of the moving image.

Beautiful. Too beautiful to be likely.


Far from the Granville crowds it was quiet, almost bucolic. A great place to bring a date to see a classic; something romantic, something with Bogey.

Alternatively, a sanctuary where a long drive yielded rarefied pleasures -a visual tone poem of sacred practice, or the profanity of Willem Dafoe’s self-decapitation with a shotgun.

No surprise: the Film Festival was born here.


It’s a big crowd tonight, a sell out.

I’m here with my special lady friend, a dozen years after a date to watch Casablanca.

The Impresario takes the mike. He’s smiling, in the manner of one accustomed to the inevitable: business-like. But I find it a bit disconcerting, like a happy priest at a Catholic funeral.

He talks of the distribution of relics: the projection equipment, the seats, the doors, the wood flooring. At the mention of the sign to be preserved in the new development, a loud chorus of “boos.”

The Impresario pauses for a moment. Then continues, and concludes –ever smiling.

Being as we are on the West side of things, a standing ovation leads to Auld Lang Syne.

The lights dim. Somebody near the back mutters something extravagantly unflattering about condominiums.

Without the preamble of trailers, the film starts: Midnight in Paris, wherein a romantic writer losses himself in a Golden Age populated by Hemmingway & Fitzgerald, Dali & Picasso. Scratch lines run stage left through most of the film, until reality takes hold.

No sooner are the lights up then the cameras are out and the patrons pose amongst the relics.

I shoot a few myself, but quickly give up at the futility, the sheer impossibility of capturing the sense of the place -the smell, the light, that subtle lift in my heart that greets me as I enter.

We sit for a while and watch the photographers at work, building their tower of pale reflections: the latest addition.

Corporate Battle Cry

by Zbigniew

Going Down

A detail from Solterra’s full-page Georgia Straight advert for its Keefer development. Freudian slip? Or corporate battle cry?

Clearing the Brush

by Zbigniew

The media-sanctioned speculation strongly suggests that the squatters were responsible for the blaze. The cynical rumbling -that seldom seems to make it through the concrete walls and minds of the National Broadcaster- is that fire is entrepreneurial in nature, a savvy business move to speed various processes along.

But whether careless short-term resident or jerrycan wielding contractor, is beside the point. The real culprit behind the conflagration that destroyed the derelict North West Produce building at 730 Terminal on January 27th is a cold, unyielding equation. The arsonist is a cash flow statement that quickly and efficiently sublimates the utility of any activity falling outside its shiny speculation/consumption axis.

You could make the case that food distribution is a basic economic activity supporting fundamental needs, but it looks ridiculous next to a new Porsche dealership.

One way or another, it has to go.


Refuge: PuSh

by Zbigniew


After the cold water bath, light deprivation and heavily-structured seasonal gaiety of early winter, a restorative tonic comprised of human libraries and real-time narratives, winners and losers, photogs and cyclones, and a dram of single malt magic in the form of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart.