N O U N : A design blog by Oliver Oike

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A T-bone steak, three double scotches and a pack of Chesterfields.

February 21st, 2010 · No Comments

Photo by Wade Andrew.

Douglas Coupland handed me my degree at the convocation for the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design (as it was called back then) Class of 2000. He, along with Lynn Johnston and Japanese-Canadian artist Takao Tanabe, were honorary graduates (pretty great, no?). Whenever I feel homesick for my five years spent in Vancouver, I dust off one of his books and flip to my favourite parts. No doubt it’s all the beautiful images of Olympic revelry spilling out of there that finds me with Vancouver on the brain…

From “Polaroids From The Dead”:

The man with the horn was Frank Baker, a restaurant owner of that long-vanished era when “fine dining” meant a T-bone steak, three double scotches and a pack of Chesterfields.

Mr. Baker, who died in 1991, had onced owned a “swinging” kind of restaurant in West Vancouver where your parents would take out-of-town guests, but only after first getting themselves all revved up with Herb Alpert records.

Mr. Baker was always, to younger eyes, the embodiment of a certain type of cool, so cool that he had even bought the original Aston Martin DB-5 used in the James Bond movie Goldfinger. He was certainly a character, and his restaurant was an occupational puppy mill for a good number of friends during high school who bussed there and diced the vegetables and did food prep on weekends. pg 72


In late 1986 I arrived back in Vancouver after living abroad for a year. On that first evening back I looked down at the bridge and saw that it had been garlanded with brilliant pearls of light along its thin parabolic lines. I was shocked – it was so beautiful it made me lose my breath.

I asked my father about these lights and he told me they were called “Gracie’s Necklace,” after a local politician. In the almost five decades since the bridge had been built, the city had been dreaming of the day when it would cloak its bridge in light, and now the dream had become real life.

Now, whenever I fly back to Vancouver, it is Gracie’s Necklace I look for from my seat, the sight I need to see in order to make myself feel I am home again. We often forget, living here here in Vancouver, that we live in the youngest city on earth, a city almost entirely of and only of, the twentieth century — and that this is Vancouver’s greatest blessing. It is the delicacy of Gracie’s Necklace that reminds me we live, not so much in a city but in a dream of a city. pg. 73

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