Seem Real Land
Food, Travel, Literature, Art, Architecture, Gardening and more Food
Monday, May 30, 2005
Sunday, May 29, 2005
The North Shore (West Vancouver, North Vancouver City and North Vancouver District) is holding an "Art in the Garden" tour this weekend. A good excuse to shlep the XL1S around town. This should happen to all pillars.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
TV, or not
I may or may not be on TV. This evening, I attended the monthly meeting of the Vancouver Video Production club and discovered it was being recorded for a CBC TV show called On the Road Again which unfortunately isn't Kerouac returning from the grave, even more thirsty. The show was doing a segment about the club's founder (?). It apparently will be on in the fall. That may or may not be me in the background.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
A few weeks ago, an artist I know told me to visit the Rhododendron Garden in Stanley Park. I'd never been there before, so I went there today. Most of the flowers were gone but I got a few good shots. Link
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
The Blog Ate My Homework
First I couldn't get into the blog. Then I could only post part of it.
A conspiracy of the forces of darkness (notice how the word "force" contains the word "orc"?) determined to bury awareness of the possibilities and long histories of our relationship to plants? Who would believe it. Let's see if this works....
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
From Darkness Back to Light
Entheogenesis 2 was a 3-day conference just concluded in Vancouver. Scholars from near and far congregated at the ridiculously comfortable Wosk Centre to shed light on the long history of entheogenic plants (what used to be called Psychedelics) in human culture, information that has long been hidden, and many would prefer to keep hidden today.
The discovery of cannabis resin in Shakespeare's pipes did make the news a couple of years ago, but the discoverer himself, Prof. Francis Thackeray of South Africa illuminated his discovery by showing the hidden cannabis references in Shakespeare's sonnets., and wondered if the bard's "Dark Lady" was in fact, cannabis. Although hemp (now the Afrikaans word for "shirt") was a crop that landowners were required to grow, the psychoactive properties of the plant were considered "witchcraft," and so Shakespeare had to hide his real meaning, just as Rabelais (the son of a hemp farmer) did in his book Gargantua and Pantagruel.
The next speaker, Rev. Demuzi gave a history of witch hunts, where mostly women were persecuted and murdered by the millions for their plant lore. Prof. Susan Boyd brought us up to date by showing how women are punished far more severely than men for "drug crimes."
Martin Lee (the author of Acid Dreams) gave a rivetting talk on the effect of mescaline on European literature in the half century before Huxley supposedly popularized "psychedelics." His talk was interrupted by a fire drill- perhaps a metaphor for the way all this knowledge was periodically lost, or interrupted. Chris Bennet's talk on the 19th century hash loving French and occult English segued perfectly with Martin Lee's talk, as did Michael Horowitz's talk on the feminine experience in drug history and Greg's talk on drugs in literature. Enemies of entheogens who often say that no great literature has ever come out of entheogenic drug experiences would be hard pressed to say that after attending this conference.
The history of medicinal and religious drug usage was wonderfully detailed in lectures by Alan Piper on Islam (where hash was banned for entertainment, but was embraced as medicine); Dr. Michael Aldritch on Indian, Asian and African experiences with drugs and finally Prof. Blaise Staples and Carl Ruck on how a mushroom turned into a mermaid and influenced hundreds of years of European history.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Taking a break between inspiring talks at the Entheogenesis Conference on Hastings, I walked a mile or so over to Savoury Coast on Robson. It had been lovingly reviewed in the previous week's Georgia Straight, an entertainment weekly that used to be the fountain of counterculture in Vancouver. Would it be worth the rain-soaked walk? I climbed the stairs to find out.
I expected the place to be packed- 7:00 on a Saturday night in the trendiest part of town, but it was oddly empty. Well, more service for me. The Straight review had revelled in the potato and octopus appetizer so that was the first thing I ordered.
I'm learning things about potatoes I never knew. Soy beans slither curiously around my mouth like just evolved fish species. It tastes like octopus. It looks like octopus, but I'd never have guessed it was octopus. And the olives, like Lafayette joining George Washington to liberate the taste buds.
However, along with the bread (so cake-like, I longed for the years in the far distant past when I enjoyed sweets), the potatoes were just too filling, so I finished them not. The recommended wine, a Marcello Canyon Cuvee 03 which intertwines nicely with the octopus but runs into resistance with the olive oil.
I inquire about the Dungeness but cracking your own crab is hardly the reason to go to a restaurant. The crab risotto? Just what I don't need- more starch. Surely the tuna. It says rare but I tell the waiter I only eat fish that have been incinerated enough to appear on 6 Feet Under. I am promised a suitably seared tuna. Some sort of lentil thing comes with it. I await filled with anticipation, and the glass of Cuvee that was really too much for a tidbit of crab and a lot of swimming other things (the basil adds a nice faux seaweed touch) and the Blasted Church Rose, the somellier recommends for the Tuna, arrives far too soon. It and the Cuvee trade nasty glances. A cold wine does wonders for a hot piece of sea food. A room temperature whatever rockets away from its flavour potential, and you're left with dashed posibilities, and for an instant, an impoverished life. Yet they are attentive here. The chef checks in regularly to make sure each bite is to my liking. The waiter, and some other guy who flits in and out of the kitchen, are constantly seeking my approval. I await the tuna. It arrives.
Remember the old (?) Charlie the Tuna ads? Not a tuna with good taste, a tuna that tastes good? This is good tuna. It rolicks in my mouth like a small child in a large fair. Not a hint of sashimi. The truly dead salutes me. The lentils however, seem to have acquired a tank. They invade my tuna-trance like Patton invading the German fashion district. No pattern is spared. After the bread-cake flash to french toast last enjoyed when I was 12, to the potatoes smothered in oil of pressed mystery to the tuna of uncharted realms of goodness, although they mean well with their carefully chosen spices and ingredients and all, the lentils thrash about my tuna appreciation like a jilted Gulliver at a Liliputian wedding. The tuna is topped with 3 shiso leaves, one of my favourite Japanese edibilities. I tell the chef 6 would be better. Particularly with the highly flavoured tuna, not to mention its muscular lentil neighbour, something light, to extend the top note of the fish would be a good direction to consider going. The Blasted Church, which had a strong aftertaste of cognac, and thus a valiant fighter for priority in possibility with the tuna-lentil onslaught, was a worthy suggestion and the somelier is be congradulated, if I didnt do so already. I discussed my displeasure with the lentils amongst the chef and chief server and was told that the taste mix was for the rare tuna, not the severely seared sea creature I requested. The server assures me the tuna is of the highest quality, "used in sashimi" as if this were a category unfamiliar to me. For desert, I have a glass of sangria, which is essentially a glass of pineapple juice, with red wine implied. A sad concoction, but it reminds me of how I cook ahi. A combination of a Kettle of Fish (very good Vancouver fish restaurant) recipe, the Joy of Cooking and Fumiyo's old bbq pit we used to enchant our neighbours with in our home in rural Tokyo. Marinate Ahi in pineapple juice, soy sauce and oil in the fridge for 2 days. Grill. We've been doing that for 30 years. Ahi is not a stranger. It hangs with Don Ho.
I stroll the 2 km back to the conference leisurely and pleasureably sated.
There are more restaurants in Vancouver than anyone could possibly review but this is a start.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
My first trip east in 41 years. Hopefully the next trip won't be another 41 years in the future.
Elayne has even more pics from the NY part of my trip, including my meeting with her comic book people, at her blog in the May archives. From the exquisite veal, duck and pork the Petries prepared until the well-limed Grouper at TGIFridays in the Dallas airport on the way back to Vancouver, and the Manhattan Clam Chowder in Penn Station awaiting my train back to DC, I ate well. Also read a hilarious book Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson, while on the train. I found Bill's latest book A Short History of Nearly Everything in the Dallas Airport bookstore, and although it lacked the comedy of the Small Island, it had a passage about Mason and Dixon, whom I discovered in the Pyncheon novel I acquired in the LA airport last month. Unexpected continuities are usally a good thing, in travelling and in stillness.
Friday, May 20, 2005
The Rose Centre with Elayne and our Connecticut friends Doc and Lili. The most 3-dimensional planetarium show I've seen. The chicken at a nearby restaurant was pretty good too (I wonder if Elayne remembers its name? Perhaps its on her blog), but not as good as the cauliflower in tomato sauce at Haveli that Dex turned us on to.