Spook Country

I recently bought and read seminal Vancouver author William Gibson‘s latest, Spook Country. Gibson is one of the few authors i make a point of following. S.C.’s a good read, if a little gearhead and plodding — the man’s a fanatic for detail, too much detail. But he still has a hawk’s eye for the telling social insight and the signature ideas of the time.

I always collect quotes from books i read (that’s why the pages are always turned down) and here are a few that imrigued me — especially the “cold civil war” and the “fuckedness index.” Emphases mine.

  • He’d once dated a woman who liked to say that the windows of army surplus stores constituted hymns to male powerlessness. (p.19)
  • Alejandro looked over his knees. “Carlito said there is a war in America.”
    “A war?”
    “A civil war.”
    “There is no war in America.”
    “When grandfather helped found the DGI, in Havana, were the Americans at war with the Russians?”
    “That was the ‘cold war.'”
    Alejandro nodded, his hands coming up to grip his knees. “A cold civil war.” (p.47)
  • The most interesting ways of looking at the GPS grid, what it is, what we do with it, what we might be able to do with it, all seemed to be being put forward by artists. Artists or the military. That’s something that tends to happen with new technologies generally: the most interesting applications turn up on the battlefield, or in a gallery.
  • A nation … consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual’s morals are situational, that individual is without morals. If a nation’s laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn’t a nation. (p.139)
  • Cities, in Milgrim’s experience, had a way of revealing themselves in the faces of their inhabitants, and particularly on their way to work in the morning. There was a sort of basic fuckedness index to be read, then, in faces that hadn’t yet encountered the reality of whatever they were on their way to do. By this standard, Milgrim thought, scanning faces and body language as Brown drove, this place [Vancouver] had an oddly low fuckedness index. (p.262)

Waterfront Schmaterfront

False Creek mapUkee, Toff … don’t let those developers snow you into letting go of the waterfront as a public resource. I spent about two hours walking the shores of False Creek, ALL of which is public walkway.

The land must be worth bazillions, and developers must have lusted after it and lobbied for it like crazy. But the zoners stood firm in Vancouver, and they should stand firm on the West Coast. There’s no need to pander to these people and their pocketbooks.



Below, a public walkway on the south side of False Creek. Cambie St. Bridge in the background.

Public walkway

Here’s the Olympic Village construction, south side of False Creek. How ’bout that sexy footbridge, huh? The Olympic committee ain’t sparing our taxpayer dollars on this project. I counted ten giant construction cranes. After 2010 it’s all slated to become housing — 250 units (out of 1,100) designated “affordable,” whatever that’s going to mean.

Look at the density in north False Creek. Is this gettinig to the “too much” stage?

High density in north False Creek

They’ve done some model projects in reclaiming some of the industrial land.

reclaimed and filled land in False Creek.

In the city (Burrard St. here), both density and construction are going through the roof. Again, when is enough enough? Many of my friends now say the condo market is going soft.

Density in north False Creek