Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

De-ludy

In the realm of active delusion, very little beats the kind of language and artifice employed in Vancouver real estate condo names and on bilboards advertising the life that awaits, inside, between those light switches  Tonight, on an adventure up Kingsway I noted one of the most ridiculous ones I’ve seen since that nutty billboard that promised its occupants would live in “the highest point on Main Street” (Main St is hardly Mt Kilimanjaro of heights) … Today I actively groaned at the stupidity of “Corum: where worlds converge.” or perhaps I misremember the spelling, but I read it as the word quorum meaning sufficient people to vote.

I offer in response: Ghost Estate!  Service drought! Pop up – mash down housing!

I recall the rush to occupy that occurred in Ireland during the boom, especially in Dublin, and the intense condification that took place there. This idea that if you didn’t hurl yourself at the train, you had no hope of a seat. Now the train is full of seats and there’s little chance, maybe, of getting off it. Well you can get off alright, if you surrender your keys. And as every good trainspotter will tell you: the identity of that train now is negative equity.

My condo post yesterday if actually read is clearly something of anti-developer position and certainly anti-the-city being beholden to and essentially run by developers, thus it was amusing to see it being scooped up by condo blogs and essentially lifted as content! Do these peeps cease at nothing? What are they drinking? It’s a delusional blend right down to the google alert.

*

I have thought more about the Zadie Smith’s quote included in my other post On reading better and at 5.30 am I was struck by a reservation around this (in bold) part of it

“…When I write about books I’m trying to honor reading as a creative act: as far as I’m
concerned the job is not simply to describe an end product but to
delineate a process, an intimate experience with a book which the
general reader understands just as well as the professional critic.”

It’s the choice of the word honor, a tad precious, a tad careful. I was struck instead by an image of the reader at the coalface mining and how we enter an engagement with reading that should be perhaps mucky and challenging and muscular. That said the raw material must be at that coalface for us to dig in and dig at and dig out.

I’ve noticed this preciousness also creeping in around the aesthetics of the physical book amid the yawning insistence that the physical book, by virtue of being tactile and rectangular, (in contrast to a zillion pixels) is therefore an art object. Speaking as someone who co-habits with a visual artist, I find this notion bunkish and dislike this cloying romanticism that’s creeping in with the advanced pre-bemoaning the death of the book.  Hang on a minute there with the funeral garlands and elevation… Books aren’t all beautiful objects far from it. There’s also a long history of them being dog eared and abandoned and lifted (in my case) from the side of the road. I don’t want my books to become reverred, sacred icons. They are as practical to me as a set of buckets. We have a working relationship. Yes there are some I am a bit soft hearted at the sight or lift of them, but they are mostly late 1960’s Grove Press (typographical cover) ones and they certainly possess a utlilitarian look to them.

I would be keen to acknowledge reading as a muscular act, one that takes places in all kinds of conditions and circumstances. Nor is it a singular act. One reading bleeds to and from and back to another.

Condos rise along with daft name quota

There’s a building that’s risen below Main and 2nd Avenue that entirely changes a view I’ve been familiar with since I landed in Vancouver. Yesterday the building that has been promising to rise up there has finally risen and reminded me of a filing cabinet. It has these odd slitty windows up and down the side facing you as you pass it (going North on foot or on wheels.)

Beside it, more such condo buildings are promised changing the corridor there from fast food outlets and so on. The one outlet I’d be glad to see removed because of its garish dominance remains and looks likely to. Strange that.

As you drive the other direction along Kingsway you have the sense that we may need to do visits to Kingsway to be reminded of the City say 12 years ago. Then you keep going up Kingsway and bam! Sure enough a similiar building, with surely one of the worst names so far, promises to rise: Charm, she’s called this one.

Last week around Main & 30th my son and I were laughing at yet another condo building which was decorated with hanging pictures that read “ACTUAL VIEW” and showed a mountain range and what have you. Except the side of the building were they hung actually looks out on a hoover shop and a faded travel agents. There’s absolutely no sign of a mountain at all. The building also promised itself as “the highest point” on Main Street, which again, seemed a little lavish, since generally Main Street is not exactly the Kilamanjaroo of heights.

We are living now in the time of buildings with ridiculous names and embellished features. Charm takes the biscuit but OnQue is a close second. But it’s not even the names, it’s what they promise, it’s what they suggest might be waiting in store for you when you move into these places. (I am reminded of the building with the Churchill quote on the side and the people who were (accidentally) floating above the pavement in one advert for example). They also now include the terms “living and retail experience” on their holdings.

And finally in my housing reflections I was out for a light run yesterday and marvelling at the sky and general shape of the weather (crisp about the fingers, but oh so fresh) when hark disappointment ladled as I noticed they’ve torn down one of the last few interesting houses in our neighbourhood. OK I admit it was a hoarding enclave, but it fascinated me because of what was piled in the windows and the back garden. Now the land is bald with a plywood hut emerging and the only defiant gesture is a binner, who has used the new space to park his shopping trolley. Fair play to him/her on their initiative!