I’m happy to say that I’ve been accepted into the The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada a few days ago. It’s cool. I’m honored. I’m even listed on their site now, though I have yet to put my portfolio. Much like the much more massive AIGA in the States, the GDC helps represent designers, enforce standards, and promote ethical business practices. I’m in the mix—American, Canadian, designeran.

My Winnipeg.

I got to see an advanced view of My Winnipeg, last year’s biopic by the inimitable Guy Maddin, among friends this evening. It was a sad joy to watch.
Alternately claustrophobic and wide open, Winnipeg, the central character of the film, does a fancy dance with Maddin, its anti-hero. The film, constructed out of black and white, old and new, and real and unreal imagery, tells the comi-tragic life of the city as seen from a particularly wary set of eyes. The cold predominates throughout, snowflakes littering every scene and people (a.k.a. “sleepwalkers”) scuttle through the streets amidst piles of snow and ice, litter, and bright lighting from above. In almost every scene, a person inhabits the landscape, which is remote, flat, relatively ugly, and luscious at the same time.
Maddin describes my now almost-three-year experience here perfectly. It’s a pleasure to get out. Escape is nearly impossible but when it happens, a kind of weary joy sets in that is inexplicable. Yet, despite the grim complexity of leaving the city, it’s always a delight to come back to Winnipeg. Maddin implies that there is a double, magical set of tributaries beneath the main rivers, the Red and the Assiniboine, that cross near our home. The muddy rivers rock back and forth during spring, sometimes high and other times (like today) low, but they offer up a magic that’s hard to describe; perhaps Winnipeg’s being “Paris of the Plains” originates, in part, from the Seine-ish energy traversing the heart of the city.
And the city does have a heart or a few of them and I think Maddin showed this clearly. His city, and my adopted one, doesn’t wish to be anything other than what it is. It’s this lack of pretense, which can be found in other cities like Toronto or Los Angeles, that helps define Winnipeg for its inhabitants. Beyond friendly, Winnipeg lives as a place located, as Maddin indicates, in the center of the center. And like, Albany, where I lived many years ago, it’s close to everywhere but near nothing.
The movie, like all of Maddin’s movies, is romantically endowed and generous to those it critiques. The film goes so far as to criticize the city’s leaders and then wishes upon it a savior of sorts, a love for the world of which Winnipeg is a very small, cold part.
Oh, and the film is very funny, making light of the hard winters and the frozen landscape but also the odd, particular history of the city’s growth from places like Garbage Hill. It’s a loving tribute to a place that is easy to hate, easier to love, and humble to a fault.

Bush Not Golfing.

President Bush really is the Chance Gardiner of the 21st century. He spoke recently to Mike Allen, a writer for Politico, and, incredibly, it seems that the President has made golf a primary personal sacrifice during his war in Iraq.

For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families.
“I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said. “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
Bush said he made that decision after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization’s high commissioner for human rights.
“I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life,” he said. “I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, ‘It’s just not worth it anymore to do.’”

It occurred to me the other day that, with the war in Iraq now six years old, it’s lasted almost longer than the Second World War, during which over 70 million people were killed between 1939 and 1945. President Bush can kindly argue that at least that many people didn’t die on his watch because of this war.


I’m slowly but surely catching up on work lately. That does not mean that I’m at all caught up.
I attribute all of this to the dulcet-harsh tones of Amy Winehouse, who has just the most amazing pipes. Her “no, no, no” that greets me every time I start up Back to Black is reliably a “yes.”

Die Off.

Oil reached an all-time high today, at $122 per barrel, which is twice what it was one year ago.
A friend of mine introduced me to the unhappy world of Peak Oil and the suppositions that, soon, without oil, civilization will falter and fail. It’s a very unpretty picture that folks are painting but it’s not without its supporters (in government primarily) and those who believe it but can’t speak its name.
Anyway, if you’re at all curious, the one site that’s super gloomy but powerful is DieOff. I’m going to tread slowly on this territory but it’s interesting, to me, in particular because the signs of the related Olduvai theory are apparent. The bubble of reality that we all live in seems never so thin.
Postcript: I’m particularly curious about White’s Law, which Wikipedia argues:

For White “the primary function of culture” and the one that determines its level of advancement is its ability to “harness and control energy.” White’s law states that the measure by which to judge the relative degree of evolvedness of culture was the amount of energy it could capture (energy consumption). White differentiates between five stages of human development. In the first, people use energy of their own muscles. In the second, they use energy of domesticated animals. In the third, they use the energy of plants (so White refers to agricultural revolution here). In the fourth, they learn to use the energy of natural resources: coal, oil, gas. In the fifth, they harness the nuclear energy.