Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

What a week for glorious creature sightings… the snowy owl is apparently visiting too.

“Birdwatchers are flocking to Boundary Bay in Metro Vancouver to catch a glimpse of snowy owls, which migrate south only once every four or five years.

…Two feet tall, 60 centimeters, the biggest of the North American owls.”

They are popping in from the arctic. V impressed with their size. We could probably share jumpers since they’re about the same size as my upper body.



Cupan Stanley/ Cupan Annette

For all the good feelings, excitement, fervour and civic pride over our current major sporting endeavour — attainment of the Cupan Stanley — I was startled and perhaps should not have been to see a higher level of aggression out of the street today. In one incident, for no explicable reason whatsoever, a cyclist took extreme umbrage at a car turning right. The car arrived at the light before the cyclist and so there was no way the stationary car tipped the cyclist or cut him off. He launched into an extraordinary and threatening tirade at the driver, coming close to her window, blocking her path and shouting cunt, cunt at her.  His issue seemed to be the fact she was turning right. He was going straight ahead. I did not understand it.

Shortly afterwards another altercation with another man, same language, different tongue, different target. He was refused service in the liquor shop, as he’d been abusive earlier to staff. Two security guards were present, not aggressive, just present. Strangely after an outburst that was high voltage, the angry man resorted to asking the security guard to come outside with him because he would show him something PLEASE. This please had a bit of reverb to it. The something likely being a box in the ear.

Perhaps it was co-inincidental these outbursts, but there were a slew of them. People seemed either deliriously happy or tense, tense, tense like they were going to blow if a sparrow flew near them. The audio of the match follows us almost everywhere while it’s on and I’ve noted a resurgence it older tellies being wheeled out in public places, which I find kinda moving. Groups of people gathering in a community centre, to look at a twenty year old TV, has a refreshing Spring like feel to it. Aside from the aforementioned aggression, I am enjoying the public and animated nature of the hockey. Reminds me a bit of the quarter-final, World Cup match with Italy, in, was in 1994?

My in-house males are, to use the local vernacular, stoked on it. Also, I am having fun with work colleagues in Boston over the pairing.

Sports-wise I am currently more interested in aerial hoop and swimming (the incredible Annette Kellerman has captured my gaze) and plan to watch a genre of film I knew nothing about from the 1940’s with women diving and swimming in them, when I have a bit of time.

Annette Kellerman

Grim, still and foreboding outside.

1 Vancouverite meets 100% Vancouver

Yesterday, thanks to the kindness of a friend, I experienced (attended doesn’t quite suffice! since I found myself narrating through out it), a piece at the Push Festival called 100% Vancouver. The piece was a form of statistical social anthropology combining mapping, movement, questions, truth, but centrally 100 local citizens selected in a (sorta) chain reaction and within that, representative demographics of all who live in Vancouver. (sorta)…

The participants were brave to stand up there, endearing, engaging, moving and very funny. Their individual stories, many of which were hinted at, I’d like to have heard more of.

Experiencing the piece there was a sense of being “inside” the city. I’d speculate other pieces in the Push fest will form an external looking on, or at, even while attempting to be within because of the instruments and techniques they employ to try to capture or understand who and what we are. The mirror rather than the tunnel or well. So in this regard 100% Vancouver offered something unique. Then we factor in the truth of what the people are telling us about what they live or feel and things become hazy. What’s said inside the tunnel may not be what is reflected in the mirror?

To put aside the respect I have for the bravery of those who participated (these people are not performers and their willingness to tell us something of what they think, live, have lived, is to be admired and appreciated) later I began to contemplate the bigger canvas of what the project attempted and where it might go next or where it could have gone further.

The reality of living in this city became obscured somewhat by the rising wave of civic pride (within the piece and audience) that inevitably takes place when we, visually and emotionally, connect with familiar sounds (names, areas, addresses, points of reference, the I live here geddit sense of being one of all these people before me and identifying with them — especially the most endearing characters). And I’d add when the Mayor is sitting in the back row, along with other civic celebs.

The optimism of the 100% surprised me and I wondered of the contagion factor.

Three neighbourhoods were missing: curiously close in geographic area (Oakridge, Shaughnessy and I think the third was South Cambie (or Fairview?). I think what’s absent should somehow be addressed within the piece and the difficulty of why no one could be found who met the demographic requirement because that also tells us something about where we live.

I’d love to see a further interrogation of the idea behind the piece. Something that would dig beyond the census box ticking. Perhaps something riskier, that said I recognize the barriers and reasons why that might be difficult within what was a “theatrical” and performative framework (is that the best medium?)

My friend Lori pointed out in a post discussion that the most compelling moments were when something visually engaging was happening within the piece, or when the people were doing interesting things with their bodies. There was one example that stood out when all 100 individuals physically acted out in gestures what they usually do at every hour of the day. The time was projected behind them and they’d mime their activities. It provided us with a wealth of contrast and actions and individual lives to examine and again put us “inside” the city.

I’ll upload some of the questions later to give you an idea of what was posed to the participants. The most invigorating events are those you leave and think more on or think out from. Departure points to further inquiry. This was one such event.

Taxi! intervention (not hailed cabs) @ Not Sent Letters

On Friday evening I, alongside my generous and esteemed collaborator Lori Weidenhammer, undertook my first experiment in what will be a series of experiments and ongoing interventions (“Transactions”) around Helen Potrebenko’s 1975 novel Taxi!

Thank you to everyone who engaged with both Lori and I. Lori was deployed as Security Guard (Insecurity) and as you’ll see from the photo documentation (again thanks to a varied bunch of snappers) I was installed in the Taxi! rank. It was an embodiment piece that sought to recontextualize the experience of reading and being read to. It also was an inquiry into the conditions by which we read and how might we read a forgotten text over an available and advertised text.

I have more to write about this intervention. I was grateful to Helen Potrebenko and her husband Earl for turning out and supporting the piece. Also a huge thank you to Charlene Vickers for hosting the event at her studio space and Jeremy Todd for creating space for it. It was a fascinating experience to have such an engagement with readers. And as usual within performance art offered surprise, learning and took me in directions I could not have conceived of.  For now I offer some photos of what took place.

(Also thank you to Jeremy Isao Speier for his precise, diligent work on the sign)




Tonight between 12 midnight and 5.59 there will be patches of fog… (sorry I can’t be more specific so fog lovers can set the alarm & head off for a tramp about)

Last night we had a most Pineapple storm. It reminded me of the time I attempted to wash my sister’s hair in hospital, having no control over the handheld shower yoke over the sink, I didn’t pay attention and near drowned the poor creature.  In the light of the lamp posts the rain was being blown circular like the roll of a wave. It was also being blasted from a Southerly direction into percussive splattering on the window and roof. Hours and hours it went on. Lightning too. Thunder maybe.

Today we had a revisit from the particular light I mentioned previous, except this time it had a new added particular about it.

Firstly I witnessed it above/on an expanse of road, rather than a street corner. The particular light was sneaking over and across a bunch of sunken grey cloud. The added particular was this masking of grey that reminded me of the smog when Burns Bog caught fire.

I ended up viewing the light high up in a building half an hour later east rather than west. It had acquired a Turkish pink hue.

That’s actually two new particulars. I am live in the act of misremembering, which segues nicely to a radio piece I heard not long after clocking the light(s).

It was a discussion about the dehumanizing aspect of certain technologies, specifically recording technologies that indicate every interaction with every single person we meet must be documented by these technologies. (They were originally designed for military purposes) The woman interviewed described how this robs us of forgetting, misremembering or embellishing memories so they take on whole new extras. She pointed out that the act of failing etc to remember is important to us. What a relief to hear this, since I have been concerned at recent inability to remember certain things and my increasing preponderance to misidentifying people. (is that failure to identify and encroaching visual blindness?)

We have just had a particular light, on a particular street corner, for a particular time of year.

It was the light of dusk falling, without rain to blemish it, the air so cold but the street lights and people sat in the window bounced off each other and the sky, in compliment.

I wonder of the particular light in other places at this hour of the day. (4.17 pm precisely)

Hauled & Shawled

The mystery of the postboxes is unravelling. Today I discovered talking to the shop owner where one of them has disappeared from that…. hark … it had moved across the road and gained an unsightly pattern around it like a shawl.

Another citizen I talked to suggested all post boxes where now moved to the right hand side of the roads.

The first shop owner told me to call the post office and give them some “boom boom” about the moving and disappearing postboxes, which made me chuckle.

I also learnt from my friend’s 16 year old son last night that there is a postbox just around the corner I had never ever sighted. If the topic of postboxes had never come up I would not have encountered these three snippets.

My friend’s 11 year old also improved my vocabulary by adding the term “trash talking” in news unrelated to post boxes.

Had an inspired visit to the Mountain View Cemetery this evening. I’ve been trying to persuade a few folk to accompany me there, but no takers. Unfortunately I did get a bit confused and somehow thought there’d be a car park and ended up driving in, then panicking I wasn’t supposed to drive in, then got myself trapped trying to find a way out.

When I finally found an arrangement and re-entered the place I looked at two parts on either side of the road. I don’t entirely know what I expected to find in there, but it wasn’t what I found. I left with a bunch of questions, which is always very satisfying.

One of which was if your house or childhood home backs on to the graveyard do you wander over and ride your bike or play hockey in it. I noticed a couple strolling through and two adults skateboarding.

There are also great big patches where no one seems to be buried at all and they’re constructing some strange, unattractive breeze block structure whose purpose is unclear. The sign says Mountain View where Vancouver Remembers. But I misread it at first as Mountain View where Vancouver Remains .. and I keep thinking it would make a better sign.

Education cuts: act now

This is what’s going down with education cuts in BC:

With just one week until the 2010-11 BC Budget is presented on March 2, parents and education advocates around the province are busy writing, calling, rallying, petitioning and emailing local MLAs and the BC Premier to stand up for our K-12 students! The message is simple: Last year, while campaigning for re-election at the height of the 2009 global recession, Premier Campbell promised to protect public education despite the tough economic times. British Columbians expect him to honour that promise in his upcoming budget, by covering some $300 million in unfunded new costs and demands that Victoria has imposed on local school boards for 2010-11

Visit BC Education Coalition, write to your MLA before next week’s budget.