Friday, 2 December 2022

Terminal City @ 30

It was thirty years ago today that the first edition of Terminal City hit the streets of Vancouver.

Dave Holden and I drove around the city in his mighty Subaru on Dec 2, 1992 delivering 16 pages of alternative newspaper awesomeness, shoving the paper into eager if bewildered hands of twentywhatevers at gigs throughout the night.

If you had asked 24 year-old me then what I thought Terminal City would be like in 2022, I think I would have gone with either success upon success, with 100 page editions each week, and finally – FINALLY – the mainstream media stranglehold of information would be broken OR I’d be still living in one of Vancouver’s many cheap apartments, keeping our small office alive to put out the next Quixotic edition.

I would not have thought that the last edition would be 18 years ago.

There are so many people who made the Terminal City story happen, hundreds really, and if I can’t name them all, I’m not going to try aside from Dave, Josie Ochej for without whom it never would have started, and my brother Graeme for without whom it would not have had its second and more prosperous life.

I loved working with everyone that came through: kids on their way up, starting in journalism; pros from elsewhere whose spiked stories found a home; and, probably the largest group, just brilliant people who wisely didn’t want journalism careers but wanted to write their specialities. Plus we brought in Savage Love, Real Astrology, Maakies.

Dave and TC also made the most important part of my life happen. Dave had an appointment with the president of Community Box Offices, then at 1234 West Hastings, to book an ad. I didn’t want to be there but Dave was my ride, and I hung out at the back of lobby. Out of the front office came one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. I decided then that Dave needed my help at the desk. But she kept on walking and Dave had his meeting with the president.

Back at the office, directly over the Town Pump, I asked Dave, ‘When’s the next meeting with Community Box Offices? Shouldn’t we discuss more advertising with them, there?’ Dave, of course, already had his contracts signed and didn’t need to go anywhere.

Days later, the miracle. Dave got a call. ‘Hey Darren, Community Box Offices has leased the whole floor. They want to know if we are interested into moving into a cheap office.‘

Martha and I were married in 2012.

Most Vancouverites know that Terminal City is an old nickname for Vancouver, referring to the Western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

But people, usually those unfamiliar with the nickname but even some in the know who hoped for something deeper, asked me all the time: ‘What does the name Terminal City mean?’

I think there are three answers.

The first was a hint that the old ways were past and we were on the edge of an atomised, databased future. In 1992, the Internet was first opened to the public – even if most of us didn’t know that yet.

The second was just a straightforwardly cynical and nihilistic understanding of ‘Terminal’, and I can’t say that the deadpan 90s Terminal City never leaned into that.

But I always liked the third answer best: This is it. It’s the end of the line. Forget what was past, make peace with yourself, thrive with what you’ve got.

- 30 -

Sunday, 2 May 2021

A rare interview with ‘Trots and Bonnie’ creator Shary Flenniken

Shary Flenniken was one of the main reasons that I bought the National Lampoon in the 80s.

“Trots and Bonnie” became a sensation, a kind of “Calvin and Hobbes” for adult audiences. Readers bored with the antiseptic, overly merchandised funny pages of the 1980s were eager to follow Flenniken’s so-called “dark little feminist monster” around the suburbs, offering wry commentary on sexual harassment, vapid narcissism and the roiling emotional turmoil of children.

Trots and Bonnie is being reprinted by New York Review Comics this week. The Paris Review has a great overview of what looks like a gorgeous edition.

How to explain Trots and Bonnie to the uninitiated? It’s a bit like Little Nemo, if Little Nemo had been drawn for and by pervs. The titular characters are a girl in early adolescence, Bonnie, and her wry, horny dog, Trots. Bonnie stands as a kind of wise-fool character, observing the often hypocritical, sometimes hedonistic world around her with the candor and freshness of a child and the lust of a dirty old man

In the 80s, Trots and Bonnie was National Lampoon worthy, in 2021, it’s New York Review of Books and the Paris Review worthy.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

True crime books from every Canadian province and territory

I checked out this story: 50 States of True Crime – Every state has an infamous crime — and a book about it (Thanks, and wondered if there was an equivalent list of true crime books for Canadian provinces and territories. I couldn’t find one, so here it is.

What I discovered is that BC, Ontario, and Quebec have a wide selection of horrible crimes to choose from, going back literally centuries. The northern territories have very little murder literature, and more than one murderer (and his unfair acquittal) has something to do with the quest to assert sovereignty by court house.


Thou Shalt Do No Murder: Inuit, Injustice, and the Canadian Arctic
By Kenn Harper
Nunavut Arctic College

In 1923, fur trader Robert Janes was tried for the murder of Inuit leader Nuqallaq on Baffin Island. Could it be that the Canadian Government, in an attempt to demonstrate its sovereignty over the Arctic, was assured of a guilty verdict? Perish the thought.


Mad Trapper of Rat River: A True Story of Canada’s Biggest Manhunt
By Dick North
Lyons Press

A gripping manhunt through the wilderness, after Albert Johnson – nobody knows if that is his real name, nobody even heard him speak – shot a Mountie who had travelled 100 km through the woods to serve a search warrant. Poorly filmed as the Charles Bronson vehicle, Death Hunt.


Dying for Gold: The True Story of the Giant Mine Murders
By Lee Sellick and Francis Thompson
Harper Collins

Nine miners were killed underground in the maze of the Giant Mine, with Roger Warren, a longtime mine worker left to take the fall and convicted of second degree murder. The authors discover the real story.


On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women
By Stevie Cameron
Vintage Canada

Stevie Cameron is the rare writer who can turn this lurid tale of botched investigations of North America’s most prolific serial killer into a compelling tale. Cameron brings out much of what the contemporaneous media missed.


Runaway Devil: How Forbidden Love Drove a 12-Year-Old to Murder Her Family
by Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose
McClelland & Stewart

A twelve-year-old goth girl is manipulated by her 10 years older boyfriend into killing her parents and brother in Medicine Hat.


A Canadian tragedy: JoAnn and Colin Thatcher : a story of love and hate
By Maggie Siggins

Colin Thatcher, millionaire rancher and son of a Saskatchewan premier, spent the time after divorcing his wife JoAnn by harassing her and (probably) hiring an assassin, while he runs and wins a seat in the legislature and a position of Minister of Energy. Then he killed her.


Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story
by David Alexander Robertson and illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Highwater Press

In this graphic novel, Betty Osborne has left home to attend residential school and high school in a bid to become a teacher. Her murder by four men was met with indifference by law enforcement and prosecutors.


Deadly Innocence: The True Story of Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka, and the Schoolgirl Murders
By Scott Burnside and Alan Cairns
Grand Central

The perfect couple lure three teen age girls, including Holmolka’s sister, to their deaths. Then the prosecutors really botch up the trial.


Marc Lepine: The Montreal Massacre
By RJ Parker

Misogynist shooter invades Montreal university and murders 14 female engineering students. It takes decades for the country to process where hatred lay.


The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery
By Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James

Bill James, of baseball stats fame (He was featured in Moneyball) thinks he has solved the mystery of families bludgeoned to death between 1898 and 1912 by using stats and train tables.


Mr. Big
By Colleen Lewis and Jennifer Hicks
Flanker Press

Two young girls drown at the local lake and the Mounties think their father did it. In an attempt to get a confession, they let him rise the ranks of the fake criminal syndicate they have created.


Shadow of Doubt
By Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon
Goose Lane Editions

Two and a half years after Richard Oland, a member of the Moosehead Brewing family, is murdered in his office, the police finger his son.


The Betrayer
By Michael Hennessey
Acorn Press

Two PEI men were hanged for the murder of a shopkeeper, yet they claimed that the crime was done by a third man. Who was he?

Any money from affiliate links go straight to the mouths of my cats

A relatively rare interview of Chris Ware on his new Rusty Brown book

Friday, 30 August 2019

Montréal in the style of the New Yorker

This isn’t new, but it’s beautiful. A Montréal collective has created a series of magazine covers in the style of The New Yorker reflecting the city in the 21st century. I’d buy these magazines.

See also: the real Montrealer Magazine from 1969

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Finnish radio has broadcast its last news bulletin in Latin

The rise and fall of

Great story on where our media are by Allison P. Davis at The Cut

I would find out later that most of that day had been carefully calibrated to impress me. “You know how a teacher decorates the classroom on parents’ visiting day?” Bines said recently, laughing. “It was like that.” The Rihanna poster, the framed enlargements of highly trafficked articles on the wall, even the “What the Fuck is” sign on the archway had all been hung just for my arrival. The U.S. staffers, who shared the office with, had been told to go work at another location for the day. Pitches for the features meeting had been prearranged, and my one-on-one meetings with the writers had been so heavily coached Mitzali and Ross could have been producers on The Bachelor.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

The New York Times has open-sourced their in-house data journalism course

Sunday, 9 June 2019

A Seattle Man Discovered a Trove of Long-Lost Weegee Photos From 1937 in His Kitchen Cabinet

The making of a YouTube radical