Now a tradition, my one concession to Halloween. Five minute Super 8 film that I shot in the 1970s in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village. Inspired by its music, a great tune by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. Click the pic and booga booga.
Set back from the street, this antique store is the next point of interest in Manitoba’s only designated Heritage District.
In 1931, Alf Lounsbury came to Carberry and worked as a mechanic alongside Pa Tuckett. Pa has fond memories of Alf. “He was ambitious, you know, he could see himself standing in the middle of his own garage with big showroom windows and every car part you would ever need. And that’s where Alf wound up, in the middle of his dream. He was a success.”
Alf Lounsbury, the real guy, operated the first Bituminous Paver in the area which was used on old Hwy #1 from Carberry to Brandon. Today we call the road PR 351. Alf later worked for Manitoba Hydro. Alf rented the B.A. Service Station next to Barrister’s Garage in Carberry. Then he bought the building, tore it down and built his dream garage. That was 1949. Alf ran it for 33 years before selling it to Sid Parker, when it became Sid’s Texaco Service and garnered its new and present name.
This early picture of the garage shows its basic utilitarian design: two large service doors and two large showroom windows bracket the central entrance. It appears Alf sold White Rose gasoline.
In the post-war years, people gained personal mobility and the age of the automobile began changing the landscape, not the least of which were filling stations and garages to feed and service the growing number of cars and trucks. Alf’s low-slung, one-storey building suited this purpose well as did hundreds of others of similar design across the country.
Adaptable, today Sid’s Garage houses a very good antique store called Off Beat n Antiques that’s worth the 3 km drive off the Trans Canada Highway to visit.
It’s buzz buzz buzz all the doo-dah day here with three more short videos squirted out and now uploaded to YouTube. I always take lots of pictures at heritage sites, especially churches because they are particularly photogenic – must be their aura. Since I can only use a few pictures in my blog posts, I’ve made short videos using pictures from three Manitoba churches. You get to see contextual views of how and where the building sits, shots of it from many different angles and some sound to accompany the vision. I have featured all three churches in blog posts. Click on the church name to read my blog post. Click picture to watch the video.
St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, near Gardenton, 2:39
Union Point United Church, Hwy #75, near Ste. Agathe 2:07
On Sunday, October 21, 2012, the Catholic Church will canonize to sainthood Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Mohawk converted to Christianity by the Black Robes. She will be the first North American aboriginal to attain such eminence.
Clueless as ever, our mainstream media is making claims that she was “Canadian” while US media claim her “Americanism.” Both wrong! Neither Canada nor the United States existed in 1680, the year of her death. Her nation was and is Mohawk. Besides, she has already been canonized!
Huh? Yes, canonized in Canadian literature by no less a figure than Leonard Cohen. Kateri Tekakwitha is one of four central characters in Leonard Cohen’s second novel, Beautiful Losers, published in 1966. In addition to Cohen himself, the book’s characters include Cohen’s wife Edith, a native of the same tribe as Tekakwitha, his radical friend F and our martyr, Kateri. Revolving around a statue of her Cohen sees in Montreal, Kateri’s life and martyrdom are described in graphic terms.
Cohen retreated to Hydra, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, for two eight-month periods in 1964 and 1965 to write the novel, largely inspired by fasting, amphetamines and hashish. This is a shot of Leonard at his Olivetti writing Beautiful Losers.
In retrospect Beautiful Losers is the first truly postmodern Canadian novel. History, culture, sex and politics commingle in an uneasy relationship topped with large dollops of absurdity. I read this as a teen and have lived with its images ever since. Particularly memorable are the indoor fireworks scene and the scene where Cohen and F masturbate in the car while driving to Ottawa after F gets elected to Parliament. The novel hasn’t, as yet, been made into a movie but its time is right!
Full of grace and humility, this is the preface Cohen wrote for the Chinese translation of Beautiful Losers in 2000. He describes how the book feels to him forty years after its conception.
Thank you for coming to this book. It is an honor, and a surprise, to have the frenzied thoughts of my youth expressed in Chinese characters. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of the translator and the publishers in bringing this curious work to your attention. I hope you will find it useful or amusing.
When I was young, my friends and I read and admired the old Chinese poets. Our ideas of love and friendship, of wine and distance, of poetry itself, were much affected by those ancient songs. Much later, during the years when I practiced as a Zen monk under the guidance of my teacher Kyozan Joshu Roshi, the thrilling sermons of Lin Chi (Rinzai) were studied every day. So you can understand, Dear Reader, how privileged I feel to be able to graze, even for a moment, and with such meager credentials, on the outskirts of your tradition.
This is a difficult book, even in English, if it is taken too seriously. May I suggest that you skip over the parts you don’t like? Dip into it here and there. Perhaps there will be a passage, or even a page, that resonates with your curiosity. After a while, if you are sufficiently bored or unemployed, you may want to read it from cover to cover. In any case, I thank you for your interest in this odd collection of jazz riffs, pop-art jokes, religious kitsch and muffled prayer æ an interest which indicates, to my thinking, a rather reckless, though very touching, generosity on your part.
Beautiful Losers was written outside, on a table set among the rocks, weeds and daisies, behind my house on Hydra, an island in the Aegean Sea. I lived there many years ago. It was a blazing hot summer. I never covered my head. What you have in your hands is more of a sunstroke than a book.
Dear Reader, please forgive me if I have wasted your time.
Los Angeles, February 27, 2000
Hear Leonard read from Beautiful Losers
One of the oldest businesses in Brandon is Christie’s, now known as Office Plus but over the decades has served varying needs related to
education and books. The 1906 Henderson’s Directory lists the business, located at 830 Rosser Avenue, as Christie Books, Stationery, School Furnishings and Wallpaper and their phone number as 133. The business was started in May 1885 by Ernest Lisle Christie, an Ontario native who came west in the early 1880s. In my youth, the store was called Christie’s School Supplies. It has been said that
Recently I found an early promotion item created by Christie’s that allows a glimpse of Brandon as it looked a hundred years ago. It’s a packet of six postcards with scenes of the city, packaged in a folder with Christie’s name on the front and published about 1910. Each card has a brief description and tinted image. I also came across one other postcard of Brandon churches from the same era. It’s the last image in this nostalgic collection. Please enjoy!
“There are equivalent things to watching this 5:30 video that you might consider like being deep-fried in GMO canola oil, getting waterboarded while skydiving, eating Alberta beef. Beyond a waste of time, it’s a waste of body heat,” tempts Toonsis Crimped on the YouTube critic’s site http://www.clickscratchchewclickscratchchew.com
“Now that masturbation has gone out of style, this is an adequate alternative,” crows Daniel Palmdamp on his blog How Salmon Do It.
“Its awfful an ugly an vera long so youll probaby artch it hatever I say,” pouts Marky ‘Take a deep breath’ Highlighter having a bad day on his flashblog I Spelt It Rong On Perposse. The W fell off his keyboard. Nothing’s right for poor Marky.
Those are just critics. Now the real test begins, when You, the real people of the world come face to face with the latest spawn of my imagination. Get ready, world, here comes
Our motto is “Something free by the side of the road.”
It’s a simple idea: I describe stuff I’m going to leave somewhere along the road then I leave it somewhere along the road then show it to you this how. Don’t be swayed by what you hear, watch the video yourself. You decide what percentage of your time you wasted watching it.
Be warned: It IS a time waster, tried and true, through and through, in the dreaming up, in the capturing, in the denouement, from its moment of mental conception to you clicking away from it in disgust, futility and lost precious moments…gone, all gone. Can you handle that? Find out! Click on any red lettering to start the video.
Our stroll down the main drag of Carberry in our hunt for heritage goodness arrives at the Waters Block.
This unpretentious workaday building came into view on Carberry’s streetscape in 1901. The Waters Block is a two-storey commercial property that has housed more than two dozen businesses over the decades. Its rectangular form, enclosed in brick walls and with a flat roof, is wide and deep, substantial and practical.
The simple facade has corner pilasters that frame the face. The lower level divides into two separate storefronts, each with large welcoming display windows and its own indented entrance. Between them is the second floor entrance. Three symmetrical windows open from the second floor. I couldn’t locate any earlier pictures of this building so one is left to wonder what brick delights are hidden beneath the metal cladding on the second floor.
On this side view you can see the original two bay design of the side walls with small windows which are repeated on both sides. The visible wall, on the south side, has been altered so as to obscure the pilasters. You can see the building steps down into a one-storey at the rear. The place’s simple and humble design features are appropriate and make their own quiet contributions to the designated heritage district.
It was built by James Wellington McCrae to house his implement dealership which he’d opened in Carberry in 1882. A native of Ontario, McCrae had homesteaded nearby before changing occupations. He served on Carberry Town Council and was reeve of the R. M. of North Cypress. Though the place no longer bears his name, it stands as one of James McCrae’s more durable contributions to the growth of Carberry.
In its century plus of housing local business, the interior of the Waters Block has been frequently modified to accommodate numerous uses. Among its residents have been car dealers, hardware merchants, clubs, residential tenants, farm implement dealers and numerous shops and services.
In 1961, a chap named McRorie opened a Macleod’s Hardware Store in the building, which it remained for several decades. In 1963 William Waters bought the hardware business and ran it for 17 years, thus the building acquired it current moniker.
Pa Tuckett does not have fond memories of the block, he tells me as a tear rolls away from his right eye. He remembers back to 1918 and the Spanish flu epidemic. People were warned to stay indoors and avoid contact with others. The first flu wave in late summer hadn’t been as dangerous as expected in the Carberry area. Sure, people died but not like was predicted. The second wave in the fall posed even less danger. Pa celebrates again the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. “Armistice Day! Everybody was real happy the war was over and won. People just wanted to celebrate despite the warnings to stay at home. The town had a big party and most everyone showed up, thinking the worst of the epidemic had passed. Well, most of it had passed,” says Pa. “But for one couple who’d come from away. They infected half the folk at that party including my beautiful Amelia. She died three days later.” At the time, Bloomingfield’s Mortuary was located in the Waters Block. Pa’s last mental picture of Amelia is of her laying in her coffin, her ashen face against a shiny blue pillow. “We hadn’t even been married one year.” Another tear.
What’s this Carberry series all about?
Gloria, the suicide blond waitress at the Moondance Diner, calls out to Wilf, the cook who hasn’t shaved in three days, “Angels on horseback, two bloodhounds in the hay, one cowboy with spurs, Adam and Eve on a log and wreck ’em, Bossy in a bowl and give her shoes, one jack mouse trap, zeppelins in the fog, walk a cow through the garden and pin a rose on it and Eve with a moldy lid on wheels. Got it?” “Got it,” Wilf snarls back.
Obscure and/or arcane forms of communication have always had a place on my blog. I’ve posted about languages specific to certain needs from a symbolic hobo code used in the early 20th century to obituary euphemisms to reports on my personal experiences with human/spirit communication. All of them provide a new way of experiencing the world, of describing what we see and getting the job done.
Recently, as I listened to some of Tom Waits early material, I realized he was using diner phrases that I didn’t understand like “Adam and Eve on a log.” I started researching diner slang and found a delightful and fresh language that’s been in use for over a hundred years in diners all over North America.
Starting in the early 1900s, diners were originally railway dining cars, no longer used by the railroads, that were parked on a street and opened to the public. Their basic design persisted long after the last railroad dining car became, simply, a diner. In that same spirit of transformation, diners were places where salt and pepper became side arms, coffee became java, mud or joe, sugar was sand and the works meant the works! Edward Hooper’s iconic 1942 painting Nighthawks depicts a late night diner.
Online I discovered hundreds of phrases used in diner lingo. I enjoyed
the metaphorical leaps, witty playfulness and simple appropriateness of the terms, the constant forward movement of the message and the
quaint, rather silly sound of it all, like delicious gibberish. Some diner lingo has found its way into our everyday speech, giving us BLTs, mayo, cow juice, moo juice, sunny side up, over easy – bland terms compared to the wild richness of waitress-to-cook communication required for clarity and sanity in a small, smoky, noisy tube at three in the afternoon or three in the morning where over easy becomes kiss the pan.
Here’s what Gloria actually ordered:
Here are a few more I find especially evocative:
Spend 51 seconds in a modern diner from the plate’s point of view by clicking the word cackleberries
For clarity the term “suicide blonde” means a woman who has dyed her own hair, punning on “died (dyed) by her own hand.” The term certainly predates INXS’s song of the same name. My friend Steve Black suggests it originated in the 1940s.
Gloria offers a third refill. I decline. She takes my ten to the till and slides four-eighty to me in change. I leave her a dollar tip. Blondes can always get a buck out of me. I reach for some lumber. Wilf nods good night. The glass door squeezes shut behind me as I step out of the din into the cool night air, my burp echoes long and loud up and down the street.
The road is long. In fact, it cannot be stopped. Sometimes, across open prairie, the road is obvious with lines and arrows; sometimes the road disappears into the bush or grass but it’s always there, unstoppable. The road possesses the souls of those who travel it in a particular way, not as a path or a conduit but as a Holy Mile, The One Mile, The Only Mile, Unending, Endurably Far, Replicating Itself to The Vanishing Point.
Yet, beside the road, the haunted souls of the long gone find solace and sanctuary in the tumbledowns, the neglected and abandoned places that once danced with the rhythms of lives but now succumb and succumb. Visit six lonesome places by clicking on the pic.