Friday, April 03, 2009

Cool grit! Victoria, BC

Death by Bunnies and Rainbows. This is what I expected when I went to Victoria, BC, last November to install a show at Open Space Gallery. I had no idea what to expect besides squeaky-clean streets and lawns, and general British-colonial WASP-ness. Of course it was all that, but with a lot of neat surprises too - many of which I can't remember, unfortunately. I'm beginning to think it's time I start keeping some sort of travel diary as the ol' memory doesn't quite fire up like it used to.

Take for instance Fan Tan Alley, a wonderfully bizarre, barely noticeable, super narrow, winding alley packed with great shops and restaurants (deke left after the post-office box). It seems to go on forever at first, unveiling one interesting store after another, and mercifully isn't overrun with over-priced touristy gew-gaws.

One favourite: Heart's Content. Great shoes (I couldn't resist a pair of FLY London ankle boots)

Just knock on the door and place your take-out order of noodles from the back lane behind this restaurant.

This Coke machine on Pandora street just before you reach Fan Tan Alley, generously offers the cheapest cans in town from behind its otherwise forbidding cage.

A delightful juxtaposition of genres:

The completely unique and intriguing Ministry of Casual Living artist-run exhibition/residency space.

View of previous installation thanks to

Sands Funeral Chapel - We Love Our Hearses

One of the artists in the show (and Victoria resident) Marlaina Busch took me to the legendary Big Bad John's at the Strathcona Hotel, for a rather raucous round of pints. A bit of a rough-and-tumble place but still rather harmless if you can put up with a bit of leering. Oh, and they'll take your bra if you want to add it to their collection.

Worth the visit:

Habit Coffee and Culture, 552 Pandora Avenue
Read review here

Rebar restaurant. Canada's answer to the legendary Moosewood Restaurant and cookbook empire. 50 Bastion Square (off Langley St.)

The Bengal Lounge at the Fairmount Empress Hotel, 721 Government Street. I can't vouch for the food, but the décor is classic grand hotel ostentatiousness!

Sidewalk cafés

I can really be an irascible crank when it comes to the otherwise very enjoyable things in life. I was reminded of this recently, since spring is upon us (sort of) and the city's restaurants have begun to unfurl their sidewalk cafés. My neighborhood of Little Italy is particularly rich in restaurants, but seemingly every summer, getting poorer in pedestrian space. By the time the sandwich boards, planters, chairs, tables and parasols have been set up, some don't leave more than one person's width of space between curb and table, and this is on a very busy street, meaning that when encountering oncoming pedestrian traffic, I either have to lean on an icky-gross SUV, or I've got my butt in somebody's fazzoletti. Every summer I wonder how long before I completely lose it - 'Jesus in the money-changers temple' style - and find myself on the other side of normal. The gall. THE GALL!!!
Surely there's gotta be a law...

New York City has one

On penmanship

My grade 6 teacher sometimes kept me in at recess because I had terrible penmanship. She would make me practice my cursive writing until she was satisfied it measured up to all the other kids' and we could all write in perfect aesthetic harmony. However irritating that was at the time, something stuck with me, and that minor punishment in the name of legibility and propriety has probably contributed to my love of typography. (More on that some other time.)

But instead of forcing me to conform to a soul-less standard of straight-backed Ls and the perfect 35 degree slant, she should have read this book. Published in 1923, Handwriting and Character is a great example of how a person's individuality, psychology and even pathology can be analysed through a mere sample of their writing. Not so long ago, graphology was an essential practice and part of certain job interview processes. In absence of that, I've put my own scrawl (which varies from barely-legible slopfest to somewhat flourishy script) to the test and profiled it against the various samples found here. According to this book, I possess the following characteristics: Affection, Coarseness, Constructiveness, Cunning, Decision, Intelligence, Jealousy, Resourcefulness, with just a touch of Manic Depression with Excitement. Although my T cross-bars can be brutal and tyrannical, and show various degrees of anger, temper and irritation. I may one day steal an automobile in revenge.

Click on the images to enlarge.

And this last one, just for creepy kicks: (not to worry - my "I"s are nothing like this. And I know how to spell "writing")

Read all about it: Graphology