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Vancouver Travelogue: Day 3: We Gets Some Culture

Sunday morning we had to return our vehicle to the rent-a-car on Georgia street. The day was hot again and we thought that a great place to hide from the sun would be in a museum! We dropped off the car and then headed up to the Vancouver gallery area. Outside the denizens sought shelter underneath the beautiful trees and took up friendly games of chess or ambled on the the terraces of the nearby cafes.

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We too decided to have a tasty break fast at Cafe Bellagio. We had their special of two eggs of choice, bacon, and toast.

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Thus fortified we were ready to tour the “Krazy!” art exposition. “Krazy” was a comics retrospective starting with “Krazy Kat”, whence the naming adjective, which covered “The delirious would of art + comics + anime + video games”.

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It was a really interesting retrospective. Having discussed the matter recently with comics authority, The League of Melbotis, I have learnt that comics of the superhero mold can trace their ancestor back to Superman who was the consolidated product of detective comics, pulp-y writing, true crime comics suddenly taking a supernatural leap, if you will. Contrary to this is the more explorative, personal, psychological comics ( R. Crumb, et. al. ) that can be defined on a more microscopic level.

This seems to be the lineage that this exposition was tracing. Starting with “Krazy Kat” we are given the tale of a love triangle ( albeit interspecies ) and efforts to thwart and transcend other suitors and “The Man” as iconified as “Officer Pupp”. From this, therefore, it is not too far of a leap to get to the personal / psychological exploits of Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary in which a frustrated, guilt-burdened Catholic boy enters a cycle of loving God, having evil urges, trying to fight urges to please god, and when bubbling over, hating self for being so impure. It’s profoundly personal and sexual ( but not erotic ) and marked the initial staking of the fearlessly honest autobiographical comic. From this genre “comix”, the following efforts of Daniel Clowes (“Ghost World”, “David Boring”) seem a natural progression.

The next set of artists were all part of the ACME books series.

I particularly enjoyed the work of Chris Ware, whose art I first came to know by picking up a New Yorker around Thanksgiving time on a trip back from SJC to ATX. The composition of his work is absolutely sublime. Thanks to the work of Khoi Vinh and Marc Boulton, I was introduced to the graphic artists' tool The Grid, at SXSW 2006 and have now started seeing irtually all graphic work in terms of its power as a space dividing implement. Ware’s work makes a great demonstration of these techniques. The world inside each frame is so precise and deliberate, it’s a real joy to observe.

And while I would love to dissect this work, ad nauseam, it speaks so well for itself, I shall simply let it:

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The next area was to transform the transform the personal experience to the inter-personal, the historical. Here Spiegelmann’s “Maus” is the gold standard: it depicts Jews living as mice ( “maus”, of course being German for mouse ) under a Nazi regime ( felimorphized ). Adjacent was a lovely reading area where you could sit and read some of the comics that were on display: Maus, Binky Brown, et. al. Lauren and I both happened to be attracted to “David Boring” which we read.

I suppose stopping for a reading break was the natural desire after all the time we had spent walking the previous days.

We then continued into the manga / anime section which covered a lot of the standard elements of manga / anime: mechs, big-eyed girls, lasers, computers, etc.

Continuing upstairs was a section on video games and their influences.

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There was a huge display of several machines playing Quake, there were several sets of TV’s playing the Grand Theft Auto titles, and several displays of the intentions and works of Will Wright’s achivements: Spore and the Sim City games. I had a flashback when I saw hoary old Civilization being played as I had spent oh so many hours learning about history and conquest through that simulator ( result: then as know the key to a powerful civilization is science, the product of education and inquisitiveness ).

Also upstairs we saw a wonderful exhibition by Chinese artist Zhang Huan whose explorations in the concept of “The Body” present interesting challenges to the Western conception of what the corporeal frame really is.

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Afterwards we made a slow amble southeast towards the False Creek. Upon arriving at the creek we sat a while before taking a water-taxi across to Granville island.

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Granville island is a bit of a cross between a giant farmer’s market + fisherman’s wharf. Along the creek-side there were many restaurants with outdoor seating. The main establishment on the island would be the sizable warehouse where any and every type of vegetable / fish / or candy you can imagine is sold.

While there we found a very cute little stuffed bear who we bought and added to our collection. I can see that being a “thing” many years from now, our absurdly huge collection of bears.

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While over we stopped and listened to a harpist ( until his string broke! ) and then took the taxi back to the mainland. Thence we walked home and relaxed a bit. We then headed over to the Safeway and got bread and cheese for a sun-down picnic over at English Bay. We missed the sun going behind the mountains but we still got to enjoy the gauzy pink and orange highlight as we watched the bay.

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Being the day before Canada Day, I mention this to bring in some explanatory alcoholic reference, some yahoos thought it would be a good idea to swim out to a buoy and proceed to rock it back and forth. I must credit them with strength, endurance, and fortitude in that they were able to swim that not-inconsiderable distance and even ballyhoo an occasional “Whoo” to their colleagues on shore. As they stood out there rocking on the buoy, I was wont to think: “Man, it would be great if someone were to totally come by and arrest them for being such jackasses”. This also did not jibe with my impression of Canadians from my friend Patrick’s “favourite” Canadian Joke:

How do you get a bunch of Canadians to get out of a swimming pool?
Say: “Hey, Canadians, get out of the pool.”

And sure enough, but moments later, the marine guard came by and promptly made them get off the buoy and into the boat. I don’t know what the content of the conversation was from that point, but I do know, all the way on shore, we were able to make out the word “Sir” an awful lot; that is usually an indication of something formal and legal being under way.

The evening’s entertainment concluded, we headed back to our suite and packed, for the next day we were to depart to Vancouver Island.

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