Showing posts from 2016

Well red!

Mars hung over the Crestwood shopping centre tonight. The pic doesn't capture the red tinge.

To the naked eye, the red was there.  And the app confirmed it.

                                     And then I started to see red everywhere: the stop sign,

                                                            The little red battery light,

                                                                   The stop light,

                                                                  The taillights,

                                                           The Christmas light, and,

                                                         At home, the vino tinto!

Leonard Cohen in Mérida

Oh, so long, Marianne
It's time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it
All again. Sitting in Santa Lucia park in Mérida last night I heard that chorus again, and it hit me new. Maybe it was being in Mérida for the first time, or at Noche Blanca, or, maybe, it was the novelty of +24 on December 10 with a beguiling espresso-mezcal potion in the books. But the passageways were open. For smells and sounds and sights and breezes—and poetry.

The Cohen tribute was offered by three players on bass, keyboard, and drums, joined by a kind of beatnik cantor. An enormous tree dripped its leaves over the stage. They sang Marianne.

Maybe the bittersweet rhythm of life (farewell and starting over) came through more clearly on that, the last evening of our holiday in a foreign country. I saw some things that I will try to use to make my life better when I re-attach myself to the machinery of the clock back home. There's the rhythm: a so long at the start of the chorus and a…

The Mysterious Case* Of The Bag On The Bike

The white plastic bag hanging off my bike's right handlebar was new. I was pretty sure of that. I hadn't pedalled to work with a plastic bag on my bike. Had I? No, no, I hadn't. It was a long day at work, and I was pretty tired, and now here was a mysterious bag on my bike in the bike cage at the end of day.

For some reason, my first thought was maybe not what everyone would have first thought: here, I deduced, is a bag with a corn cob in it.

But it was heavier. Different shape. No, not a cob of corn. Why was I being tested like this? (Actually, my first thought was it was bag of dog poo, but there's no use even mentioning that as part of the official story.)

I untied the loose knot and opened the bag and saw that whatever it was was wrapped again in paper towelling. Poking out was a red and white top with printing that said: New Belgium Brewing. This was a beer bottle, I concluded.

And there was beer in it. It was bottled beer. There was a bottle of beer on my bike. …

Late Thoughts Listening To Springsteen

This was U.S. President Obama today, the day after the Donald Triumph the night before, with a little bit of campaign theory. We try really hard to persuade people that we're right and then people vote, Obama said.  Salutary. Not quite true.

Not quite true if by persuade the president means the process of using reason to convince others of a particular position. This includes convincing others to change their minds.

I don't sense much persuasion afoot in our times. I don't know if there ever was much persuasion. Maybe there was, maybe not. But now what goes for persuasion is really engagement. And engagement has to do with likes and follows and friends. Social media in the time of engagement has no button that indicates Good Argument or Convincing or You Helped Me See Things Differently. Or, I Changed My Mind.

When engagement is the goal, holding a mirror up is more effective than risking original offence incurred by trying to change a mind. When engagement is the goal, p…

Edmonton For The Winter (FTW) #1

I wonder.

I wonder if part of the resistance to bicycle riding in the winter reveals itself in the last seven words of that sentence from Robert Hurst’s Machiavellian book, The Art of Cycling. I wonder if the backlash to riding a bicycle in the winter, the ridicule with which it is visited by some critics, the determinism it invokes, is, after everything else is stripped away, precisely that we don’t know how winter riding is good for the soul.

Or why the soul needs good. Or what the soul is. Or how there could be some kind of connection between the soul and, of all things, riding a bicycle in winter.

What exactly is going on in this explosive clause?

Hurst pulls the pin and drops the thought like a hand grenade right there, moving on in his account to more practical matters, including how to ride through public plazas and across curbs. We are left to make sense of the debris. As Strummer warns us, the soul is hard to find.

For me, the good news is I emerge from that sentence and realize…

Cubs Win!

(Editor's note: My friend Robin Stevenson is a Cubs fan. Not a bandwagon jumper, not a celebrity-watcher, but a fan who has from afar carried her share of the grief of more than a century—that now has vanished. Robin guest blogged at the beginning of the season and again at the All-Star break. I think she deserves some of the credit for the historic win. Here is her final post.) 

It has happened. Finally. The Chicago Cubs are World Series champions. They did it. We did it.

Grandfather Cecil Stevenson: the Cubs won in dramatic, epic style!

My first reaction was relief. That final out in the 10th inning meant no more bad things could happen.

Then it set in. What just happened was the best thing ever. My heart was pounding. I might have been in shock.

We busted some ghosts.

I have been cheering for the Cubs for most of my life. There have been some pretty bleak seasons in the 108 years the team has wandered in the baseball wilderness. You don't have to go back far for proof. Th…

This election call may be recorded

In these late days of the U.S. election campaign, Lev Manovich has been swirling around in my memory.

I met Manovich in print during my time in the University of Alberta's MACT (Master of Arts in Communication and Technology) program. I was intrigued by the way media made a generation ago, in my case, clips of the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, were brought back to a kind of life. Loveable video and audio of Cookie had been mashed together with infamous video and audio of Stephen Duckett refusing to talk to news reporters, and, voila, I had my research project, courtesy those remix artists. 

Manovich, a new media theorist and computer science professor at City University of New York, made a point about the avant-garde aspect of digital media's moment. In the original avant garde movement of the 1920s, artists sought new forms and new ways to represent reality and see what is out there. 

"The new media avant garde is about new ways of accessing and manipulating informatio…

Seamus and Shelagh

In a poem whose name I do not remember, Seamus Heaney corrects those, including himself, who would rush to write. The bastion of sensation, he says. Do not waver into language. Do not waver in it. 
For Heaney, the bastion of sensation, the room from which he built, was the scullery. Know it cold, he advised. 
In our house, the kitchen is the bastion of sensation, and Shelagh is its poet. She knows it cold. I try to protect it by recording her kitchen words. This is the collection to date. 
Nothing really smells like brown sugar. Is there anything better than a lime? Is there anything better than a lemon? Is there anything better than an orange? I love parmesan cheese. Look at an onion. Just look at it! I love the smell of cilantro. It's the smell of mushrooms. I have discovered the mushrooms are the key! I love mint. The smell of mint. That's it. Can you smell the squash? It smells great. Wow! Smell that! Fresh basil! It's so pretty. Flakey salt is the best. When you come upstairs you ca…


An 83-year-old woman was killed while walking in a crosswalk in west Edmonton last week.

For her efforts, she was rewarded with a couple of curious streeters in a first online  Edmonton Journal story. 

Streeters, in the reporting industry parlance, are quotes from people who don't know what they're talking about. Okay, that's the critics' view. But the truth is the critics are often the very same reporters assigned to get streeters to fill out their stories with quotes that can add colour and personality—and length—to their news accounts. Streeters can be entertaining and they can be informative and they can be startlingly out of context. 

Startlingly happened in the account of the woman's death. Here was the first reported fact in the story: 

An additional fact came next. The woman was not in the wrong place, according to police.

After the officials were interviewed for the facts known at the time, it was time for the streeters.

It's worth making an obvious point. W…

My Strange, Wonderful, Wonderful, Strange Bike Ride Home Today

What a collection of short stories I rode through today as I pedalled downtown Edmonton.

First, the very predictable blow-through-a-red-light move from the driver of a big shiny pickup. The prospect of obeying the law was simply too much:

The encounter at Jasper and 101 St left me with a few thoughts and questions. 

For those wondering what an Oregon Stop is, this was it—performed elegantly by a two-ton behemoth in front of a pedestrian. Those who would make the story as car versus bike are blowing smoke. It has always been a story of the unexpected consequences of overprotected vehicle drivers versus the law. Instead of a licence plate, or in addition to a licence plate, wouldn't it be neat if the postal code of the driver was visible? Does he live in the downtown neighbhourhood he's disobeying the law in?What, if anything, does Starbucks think about the infraction? They live right there. Do they live there?Would it be a good idea to have laws that permit the registered owner of…

Field of Memes, 2016

Buckle up, baseball fans. 

Last year about this time I filed a headlined image or two after  Blue Jays post season games. It was called Field of Memes, a nod, of course, to the now departed W.P. Kinsella. 

Tonight, the Jays hosted the American League Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles. Marcus Stroman cruised through the first three innings and then got roughed up in the fourth by a two-run shot from Mark Trumbo, which erased the 1-0 lead written by Jose Bautista's solo homer in the second inning. 

Defence by both teams was solid. Offense was provided by the Toronto fan who hurled a foaming beer can at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim as he corralled a fly ball in the seventh inning. Hey, tweeted, horrormeister Stephen King, whatever happened to polite Canadians? 

The Jays repeatedly refused to win, hitting into inning-ending double plays and demonstrating, as if fans needed more demonstrating, that small ball isn't how this team is built. That point was then driven home i…

True Grid

There is a proposal afoot to build what city hall transportation poets call the minimum grid for physically separated bike lane infrastructure. In translation, it's a vision for a humane way for bicycle riders to move safely in the downtown core. And a more rational way for automobile drivers to experience bicycle riders. My friend Sandra suggested that I speak at the committee meeting yesterday where city councillors took a first crack at it. This is what I said. 

I'm Glenn Kubish. I'm a lifelong Edmontonian. I learned to ride a bicycle in Delwood in the proud northeast end. I'm now a taxpayer in Parkview in west Edmonton. I still ride my bike. I commute downtown by bicycle through four seasons of Edmonton weather. That makes me a bit of a diehard, according to some critics who would have you believe that because we get some snow, we all have to go inside. But that's an issue for another day. 
I reject that label, diehard. I think on my bicycle I'm very much a d…