Page 1

FREE | FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

Volume 55 | Number 2766





MEASHA’S MUSE Prior to a VSO gala, opera star Measha Brueggergosman shares her passions for singing, spirituality, and Black jazz legends



Economist says immigration will miss feds’ 2021 target


February 18 – 25 / 2021



Soprano Measha Brueggergosman discusses faith, courage, and some career highlights before appearing on the Orpheum stage for a VSO fundraiser.

by Carlito Pablo

By Charlie Smith Cover photo by Lisa MacIntosh



Vancouver housing societies have asked a B.C.–based advisory panel to call for the creation of a new Registered Family Home Savings Plan. By Carlito Pablo



The Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival is all in the family this year, and for reasons that the director never anticipated would transpire. By Charlie Smith


The pandemic has reduced applications for permanent residency. Photo by Maxime Doré/Unsplash.

BC Economics sees Canada welcoming 275,000 new permanent residents in 2021. If this forecast is on the mark, the number will fall short of the country’s target of 401,000 arrivals this year. Permanent residency provides a path to citizenship for immigrants who have been approved to settle in Canada. A report by RBC senior economist Andrew Agopsowicz notes that immigration in 2021 will look more like last year. In 2020, Canada saw 184,000 new permanent residents enter the country. The number is just over 50 percent of the 341,000 that was targeted at the beginning of 2020. Agopsowicz recalled that in response, the federal government announced new targets for 2021 through 2023. The targets could see more than 1.2 million new permanent residents during this period. “However, announcing these targets, especially for 2021, may be putting the cart in front of the horse as strong headwinds

limiting the number of newcomers are still in play,” Agopsowicz wrote. Agopsowicz’s paper, titled “Canadian Immigration Interrupted: A Look Ahead Into 2021”, was released on February 16. The paper cited a number of factors behind the decline in the number of new permanent residents to Canada. One is border restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Another factor is that there are “significant” delays in processing applications by the federal government’s agency responsible for immigration. Although processing capacity by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has “improved since the beginning of the pandemic, results are not promising”. Third, the economist wrote that applications for permanent residency are down. “Coupled with processing delays, this implies that even if borders open up soon, it will still take time to increase the flow of new immigrants back to pre-pandemic levels.” g

Antimaskers will converge on downtown once again


by Charlie Smith

pponents of public-health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 are planning to hold one of their largest rallies yet in downtown Vancouver. The B.C. Grand Freedom Rally is scheduled to take place on Saturday (February 20) from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., including a one-hour dance at the end, on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Like other similar events, it will be launched with the national anthem, sang by Mark Donnelly, who used to do this for the Vancouver Canucks before the team severed ties with him for attending rallies like this. A poster on Facebook advertising the rally



states that “Real Medical Experts” will unveil truths about COVID-19 and vaccines. To date, Vancouver police have declined to fine organizers of antimask rallies, unlike the RCMP in Kelowna. On February 10, 604 NOW reported that 377 fines adding up to more than $352,000 have been imposed under provincial legislation or the federal Quarantine Act. By the end of January, only 12 percent were paid and slightly more than half were being disputed. Anyone ticketed for unsafe COVID-19 behaviour has 30 days to pay or give notification that it will be disputed. ICBC sends unpaid fines to collection after the 30-day period expires or the dispute period ends. g

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021



Vancouver’s Missy D fell in love with hip-hop after one of her music teachers complied with students’ demands to change the curriculum. By Steve Newton

e Start Here 8 15 14 10 6 5 6 11 2 12 14 8


Vancouver’s News and Entertainment Weekly Volume 55 | Number 2766 1635 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C. V6J 1W9 T: 604.730.7000 F: 604.730.7010 E: gs.info@straight.com straight.com

CLASSIFIEDS: T: 604.730.7060 E: classads@straight.com

DISPLAY ADVERTISING: T: 604.730.7020 F: 604.730.7012 E: sales@straight.com

DISTRIBUTION: 604.730.7087

SUBSCRIPTIONS: 604.730.7000

EDITOR Charlie Smith SECTION EDITORS Mike Usinger (ESports/Liquor/Music) Steve Newton SENIOR EDITOR Martin Dunphy ASSOCIATE EDITOR John Lucas (Cannabis) STAFF WRITERS Carlito Pablo (Real Estate) Craig Takeuchi SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT Jeff Li ART DEPARTMENT MANAGER Janet McDonald

e Online TOP 5

Here’s what people are reading this week on Straight.com.

1 2 3 4 5

Tesla’s move into Bitcoin could have ripple effects on startup community. Police seek info about unprovoked West End assault by a stranger. B.C. food recalls for smoked salmon, salad dressing, and palm oil. Reality TV star and realtor Layla Yang selling $17-million home for $38 million. COVID-19 in B.C.: New variant from Nigeria detected. @GeorgiaStraight


PETER WALL’S YALETOWN 1310 Richards Street, Vancouver • 604.261.0732


SAT & SUN 9AM-5PM Amazing Rental Incentives!

YALETOWN’S FINEST LIVING Studio ■ 1 Bedroom ■ 2 Bedroom


Located in the heart of Yaletown, overlooking English Bay and False Creek, Peter Wall Yaletown is a rare residential leasing opportunity www.pw-yaletown.com | suites@pw-yaletown.com

PETER WALL’S SHANNON MEWS 1515 W. 57th Avenue, Vancouver • 604.261.0732


SAT & SUN 9AM-5PM Amazing Rental Incentives!



1 Bedroom

2 Bedroom


Stunning, historical neighbourhood with many urban amenities. Close to shopping. www.pw-shannonmews.com | suites@pw-shannonmews.com FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021




Affordable-housing options getting political heed


by Carlito Pablo

eal estate has made millionaires out of many people, at least on paper. Even on the less ritzy East Side of Vancouver, a typical detached home was worth $1,546,700 in January 2021. The appreciation of property values has contributed to a widening gap in wealth. This, in turn, breeds elitism among some. As a housing advocate, Edgardo Sabile is keenly aware of such snobbery. According to the acting president of the nonprofit One Housing Society, some property owners view mass-housing models such as cooperatives and public housing “like a ghetto”. “Some people think that only poor people live there,” Sabile told the Straight in a phone interview. “It’s not true.” Sabile said that lawyers and doctors also live in housing cooperatives because they like the sense of community found in these places, where people know each other. He speaks from personal experience. He and his wife and their two children live at the Killarney Gardens Housing Co-operative, a multicultural housing co-op in East Vancouver. “In our co-op, we got engineers; we have professionals,” said Sabile, a night manager at a Vancouver hotel. Sabile’s family pay market rate at Killarney Garden. Some of their neighbours pay subsidized-housing fees. In public-housing developments, such as those owned by the Metro Vancouver regional government, a number of residents also pay market-level rents. One Housing Society is formally known as the Fil Co-operative One Housing Society. The housing nonprofit is an offshoot of the One Filipino Co-operative of B.C., a credit cooperative. Both are pioneering organizations in the province’s Filipino Canadian community. On January 29 this year, the two groups wrote to a B.C.-based panel created by the provincial and federal governments in 2019. One Housing Society and One Filipino Co-operative of B.C. submitted a letter as their contribution to the second phase of public consultation by the Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability. The panel, led by ICBC chair and former B.C. NDP MLA Joy MacPhail, is scheduled to make housing-policy recommendations to the two levels of government this spring. In their letter, the two community organizations made two proposals. One is the creation of a Registered Family Home Savings Plan (RFHSP). An RFHSP could help “lower to middle income level Canadian families…accumulate a fund specifically dedicated to the purchase of an affordable housing where 4


Edgardo Sabile (left), acting head of a nonprofit housing society, says cooperative housing attracts all types of residents, and NDP MLA Mable Elmore welcomes his input into housing-policy dialogue.

the homebuyer and his/her family will live, thrive, and contribute to the local economy and social fabric”.

non-housing purpose) of the Registered Retirement Savings Plan”, or RRSP. The second proposal is also a type of

Some people think that only poor people live there. It’s not true...We got engineers; we have professionals. – Edgardo Sabile

Moreover, the savings plan can be “modeled after some or all relevant features (for example, cumulative roll-over of ceiling amount, non-taxability of interest or other earnings, unless withdrawn for another

savings plan but designed for new housing co-ops and housing nonprofits. It is called a Registered Members’ Fund for Affordable Housing. An RMFAH will encourage groups to save for a down pay-

H ome sale OF THE WEEK

The listing by Sutton Group–West Coast Realty describes the 2,385-square-foot residence as “not livable”. An October 27, 2020, report to city council by Marina Marzin, collector of taxes with the City of Vancouver, noted that the city auctioned the property as part of its annual tax sale on November 13, 2019.

A bidder made $1 million over a tax-sale price for the property shown above.

d A DERELICT HOME with a bit of history with the City of Vancouver recently changed hands. A buyer purchased 3469 Arbutus Street for $2.5 million, which was over the property’s listing price of $2,395,000.

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

“The Owner has not paid any City taxes on the Property since 2016,” Marzin related. “The Property appears to be abandoned. The Owner does not reside at the Property.” At the 2019 city auction, a “tax sale purchaser bid the minimum upset price, $4,373.74, plus $1,400,000.00”. g

by Carlito Pablo

ment for their affordable-housing project. According to the letter, middle-class people organized into housing cooperatives or nonprofit housing societies have the “potential to pool their financial resources into a housing fund that will strengthen their eligibility for government and financial institution financing of their affordable housing project”. “In addition, to incentivize initiatives such as this, we propose for the government to endow this registered fund features such as a grant contribution as well as tax shelter (similar to the Registered Education Savings Plan),” or RESP, the two community associations wrote to the panel. One Housing Society’s Sabile signed the letter along with Roel Gumboc and Jojo Palencia, president and general manager, respectively, of One Filipino Cooperative of B.C. B.C. NDP MLA Mable Elmore represents Vancouver-Kensington in Victoria. She is also the only member of the provincial legislature with Filipino ancestry. Elmore said that she is impressed with the submission made by the two organizations. “They made a couple of very concrete and clear policy recommendations, which will contribute to the dialogue on the complex area around housing supply and affordability,” Elmore told the Straight in a phone interview. Last summer, the expert panel on housing released an interim report about what it heard during the first phase of its public consultation. One theme that emerged was “diversity” in housing. Diversity, as the panel heard, has three aspects. One involves a mix of housing tenures that does not favour ownership over rental, or vice versa. The second is diversity in housing types, with an emphasis on lower- to middle-income levels. The third is the “need to diversify the delivery of housing allowing more organisations (i.e. non-profits, social REITs [real estate investment trust], co-operatives, etc.) to participate in the supply of housing”. The B.C. NDP government has pledged to invest $7 billion in affordable housing over 10 years. In 2018, it announced a plan to work with partners in delivering 114,000 affordable homes over a decade. On the part of the federal government, Ottawa has launched a national housing strategy. It involves a 10-year, $55-billion plan to build 125,000 new affordable housing units, repair 300,000 existing ones, and reduce chronic homelessness by 50 percent. According to Elmore, groups such as Sabile’s One Housing Society would make a “good partner” for the provincial and federal levels of government. g


Never Alone serves up hoodies with mental health by Charlie Smith

also had, and facilitated, extremely caring and even healing sexual experiences. I made enough money to buoy my finances, pay for laser eye surgery in cash, and fund a really beautiful trip with my partner for his birthday.” Marlow said he understands how privileged he is as a tall white male. And to him, “it sucks” that people who look like him are the ones doing the most harm in the world. “I don’t want to take over from people’s voices,” Marlow emphasized as the interview drew to a close. “I want to bring them alongside me as I grow. Then it’s a win-win. I can use my privilege as a good thing.” g

a different person,” Marlow declared. He’s also eager for his platform to be a home for those who feel marginalized by mainstream society. In the “Never Alone Stories” section of the blog, Toronto-based mental-health advocate Asante Haughton wrote a piece called “Dear White People…Why Is Your Mental Health So White?” “What you do with your answer might save me,” Haughton declares at the end of the post. “It might save us all.” In another post, a gender-f luid artist named Em shared her experience as a sex worker. “I never felt in danger, I did have to navigate toxic masculinity and misogynist behaviours,” Em writes. “I


Former university athlete Paul Marlow has created a brand and online platform that aim to create connections for those hoping to improve their mental health—while also selling some casual attire.


all Paul, as Paul Marlow sometimes calls himself, seemed to have it all in his early 20s. At 6-7, he played basketball and baseball at Louisiana State University in Shreveport and was even drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. In a phone interview with the Straight, Marlow said he didn’t have trouble attracting female attention and even did some modelling for a while. But in 2018, a decade after his university career ended, the Vancouver entrepreneur was afflicted with serious depression. It came after a difficult breakup with a girlfriend and his father being diagnosed with both Parkinson’s disease and then cancer, which claimed his life the same year. “It affected me greatly once he passed away,” Marlow revealed. “I decided to open up about what was going on on my social media and to my family and friends. And with people reaching out to me, saying, ‘Thank you for saying these things,’ and, ‘Thank you for being honest and open,’ I realized there was an area that wasn’t being hit.” It gave birth to the Never Alone project, which he described as the “first mental health brand”. It’s a web platform that allows people to share their struggles and observations about mental health, and it’s combined with a clothing line offering hoodies and caps that celebrate the value of forging connections. “The Never Alone vision is to help the regular person just understand that it is okay to feel anxiety; it’s okay to be depressed at times,” Marlow says. The blog posts on Weareneveralone.co include tips on everything from getting motivated in the gym to how to write entries in a diary. There’s also advice on what to say when someone dies. Marlow said that when he was in the throes of depression, he visited other

Until all this happened, I was quite a different person. – Never Alone founder Paul Marlow

online sources, including government sites, that had many good quotes and stories. “But I didn’t find a lot of actionable content that could help my day-today life long-term,” he added. He also feels that many mental-health sites are a “little safe”, whereas he wants to push the boundaries of public discourse. As an example, he wrote one post revealing how he tried MDMA therapy. He took the psychedelic treatment in his 10th session—a six-hour experience that helped him understand why his childhood led him not to accept himself for who he is. Marlow said that prior to this, he never realized how fearful he was of not living up to others’ standards. That would occur even when he was standing in line, going to a restaurant, or spending time with friends and family members. “I was worried of being judged in a situation where no one would judge me,” he disclosed. Marlow noted on his blog that he took MDMA in the presence of an “underground psychedelic therapist” with extensive background in this area. And he said that prior to this experience, he never would have such an open conversation with anyone, let alone a reporter. “Until all this happened, I was quite

Mutation Case No. 16908 Village: Cansaulim.


Mr. Aires Presentacao Antonio Das Dores Carvalho alias Aires Carvalho, Mr. Vila Nova Jose Estevao Antonio De Spirito Santo Carvalho alias Vila Nova Carvalho, Mr. Lui Tolentino Assumcao Antonio Carvalho alis Lui Carvalho and Mr. Raul Anotonio Joseph Eleuterio Carvalho alias Raul Carvalho through their POA holder Mr. Lester Agnelo Vicente Barreto r/o H. No. 237/A, Tontem Morod, Cansaulim, Goa .....Applicants

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Mr. Darrel Carvalho,-. Mr. John Petrovic,-. Mr. Ligorio Viegas,-. Mr. Rufi no Cordeiro,-. Mrs. Alice Vitoria Carvalho,-. Mrs. Benardine Mercie Carvalho,-. Mrs. Blanche Antonieta Carvalho Petrovic,-. Mrs. Christina Carvalho,-. Mrs. Lira Antonieta Cordeiro,-. Mrs. Renee Antonieta Carvalho,-. Mrs. Sheila Carvalho,-. Mrs. Violeta Antonieta Viegas,-..




To, The above name Opponents/Legal heirs if any/interest parties if any. The applicants Mr. Aires Presentacao Antonio Das Dores Carvalho alias Aires Carvalho, Mr. Vila Nova Jose Estevao Antonio De Spirito Santo Carvalho alias Vila Nova Carvalho, Mr. Lui Tolentino Assumcao Antonio Carvalho alis Raul Carvalho through their POA holder Mr. Lester Agnelo Vicente Barreto r/o H. No. 237/A, Tontem Morod, Cansaulim, Goa had applied for mutation to include their names in the occupants’s column as occupants after deleting the name of existing occupant, Irineo Carvalho as they had acquired right to entire property admeasuring an area of 3625 sq. mts., under survey No. 100/1 of village Cansaulim of Mormugao Taluka. The right acquired by virtue of Judgement and Order dated 13/01/200 passed by the Court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division at Vasco in Spl. Inventory Proceedings No. 19/92 and supported by Notarized copy of last Will and Testament of Irineu Caitan Antonio Carvalho dated 27/07/1967 and Notarized copy of English Translation of the Public Will of Marja Zelia Das Augustias Carvalho dated 30/12/1980. AND WHEREAS, the notice in form X were generated to be served to the party by registered A/D party was unserved with postal remarks, as unserved, insufficient address, party expired, etc, hence to be served by way of publication in local newspaper. AND WHEREAS, the applicant has prayed vide his application for sub substitute service, by publication of public notice in any one newspaper as required under order V Rule 20(1A) of C.P.C as the applicant does not know the legal heirs and the addresses of the interested parties. All the interested parties are hereby given notice of the said mutation entry and called upon to submit to me their objection if any to the mutation entry with in 15 days from the date of publication of this notice failing which the suitable order under the provision of LRC shall be issued by the Certifying Officer. Place: Vasco de Gama. Date: 25/01/2021

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021




Champagne cocktails don’t stop at the French 75


by Mike Usinger

bottle of Champagne Krug Clos d’Ambonnay says “I’m a keeper” in the same way a six-pack of Baby Duck screeches “run for the door”. And there’s seemingly a scientific reason for that. Australia’s Dr. Max Lake deduced that scents of dry Champagne can replicate female pheromones—the subtle scents that attract suitors. (For the curious, men’s pheromones have been linked to the scents of red wine). Sooo, for a certain segment of the male population, bubbly is basically the scent of bottled-up sex appeal. And for women, it’s a sign that a suitor’s Champagne tastes don’t stop at, well, her. So what to do after you’ve popped the cork? No one’s going to do anything but applaud you for drinking things straight up. But playing liquor nerd with Champagne can also be stupidly easy, as anyone with a Mimosa (equal parts Champagne and fresh orange juice) addiction is well aware. Flavoured simple syrups—which we’ve discussed previously as being stupidly simple to make—instantly make a great thing even better. For a herbal flair add thyme, rosemary, or sage syrup. Ginger, lemongrass, or galangal syrup give things an exotic kick. Take the sting out of the fact you’re

cocktail of his own creation. Dickens proved something of a pioneer in more ways than one, because pretty soon the idea of mixing gin and bubbly became a thing, most famously at the beginning of the 20th century. As the First World War raged on, the French 75 (named after a high-calibre French combat cannon) came into being. Concocted at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, the cocktail eventually took root in America after becoming a favourite at the Stork Club in the Big Apple. And it achieved immortality after making a cameo in Casablanca—not only one of the greatest movies, but also one of the greatest love stories of all time. Here’s how to make what might be the Queen of Champagne cocktails. Although no one will judge you for drinking your Champagne straight up, simple syrups, lemon juice, and hard liquors like gin can take things to new heights. Photo by Getty Images.

not going to Mexico any time soon with a tamarind chipotle syrup—making sure, as always, the chipotle doesn’t sit in the tea water for longer than a couple of hours. Unless, that is, you want the full-on Mexicanvacation, “¿Dónde está el baño?” experience four or five hours after consuming. One of the first Champagne cocktails

dates back to the middle of the 1800s. Barkeeps placed a sugar cube in the bottom of a chilled glass, splashed it with a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters, and then filled with Champagne. Flash forward a couple of decades and Charles Dickens was using world book tours to sing the praises of the “Tom Gin and Champagne Cups”—a

FRENCH 75 1 ounce gin 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1/2 ounce simple syrup 3 ounces Champagne (or other sparkling wine) Add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a Champagne flute, top with the Champagne, and garnish with a lemon twist. g

A taste of Burma in Vancouver in troubling times


by Charlie Smith

ecently, I dined at Amay’s House (5706 Victoria Drive), which offers authentic Burmese cuisine in a casual setting. One of the first things you notice in the room is a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s only Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She was once seen as an icon of democracy for standing steadfast against the military dictatorship in Burma, a.k.a. Myanmar, during 15 years of detention. However, Suu Kyi, the country’s state counsellor, has come under severe criticism during the past three years for not publicly condemning genocidal attacks on the predominantly Muslim Rohingya minority. But not long after my visit to Amay’s House, Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were under arrest. This came after the armed forces again took control of the Southeast Asian country, which is home to 54 million people. The military has justified its coup by claiming fraud in a November election that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won. The losing party, the USDP, was backed by the military. It’s sad to think of how this news is being received by Burmese expats, including staff at Amay’s House. During my recent visit, I ordered chicken 6


Beef rendang is a popular curry dish in Southeast Asia, often coming with lots of coconut milk; at Amay’s House in East Vancouver, it includes Indian influences. Photo by Getty Images.

biryani, which was Indian inspired but differed from this dish as served in South Asian restaurants. It was warm, savoury, and cardamom-scented, and it had its Burmese styling, with the chicken on top. But it was mellower and simpler than the more heavyhanded Indian chicken biryani, which is a fiery mix of rice, chicken, and spice. I also ordered beef rendang, a classic

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

curry in Malaysian and Indonesian culture, originating in West Sumatra. At Amay’s House, the beef rendang is light, tender, and aromatic, with Malaysian and Indian influences. In between bites of the plentiful portions, I sipped on steaming-hot jasmine tea, which is provided for free. The connection to India shouldn’t come

as a huge surprise, given the country’s history. Although only two percent of the Burmese population traces its roots back to India, there were much stronger links during colonial times. In the 19th century, the British East India Company took control of Burma. Over several decades, Indians came to the country in substantial numbers as soldiers, workers, and traders. In the Second World War, the Japanese Army and Burmese nationalists pushed British and Chinese forces out of the country. Suu Kyi’s father, Aung San, was a student activist when he was recruited by the Japanese to aid these efforts. He played a key role in Burma achieving independence from the U.K. after the war ended. Historian Thant Myint-U’s outstanding 2011 book, Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia, described how this Southeast Asian nation fell increasingly into China’s orbit under the military dictatorship in the 1990s and early 2000s. The Indian influence, once such a hallmark in the colonial era, has diminished considerably. But it lives on in Burmese cuisine in restaurants in the West, including Amay’s House. g


Family stories run through Jewish book festival


by Charlie Smith

his year’s Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival is shaping up as a family affair. That’s because in some cases, local authors are related to others who are speaking on the same day or evening. And in other presentations, authors are dealing with wrenching family-oriented issues. “It was not planned as such but it became such,” festival director Dana Camil Hewitt told the Straight by phone. For example, on Monday (February 22) morning, Bonnie Sherr Klein will discuss her children’s book, Beep Beep Bubbie, with students at two Jewish day schools in a virtual presentation from her home. It features a grandma who gets a new scooter, which concerns her granddaughter, Kate. But after a while, Kate realizes that the scooter enables them to have fun shopping at Granville Island. Klein is also a documentary filmmaker who has relied on a scooter herself since suffering a stroke many years ago. The evening of that same day, her son, Seth Klein, will be interviewed by political scientist and climate-policy expert Kathryn Harrison about his book A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, in a separate virtual presentation. A Good War delves deeply into Canada’s remarkable effort to ramp up military production during the Second World War. This enables Klein, former B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, to offer valuable lessons for how governments in the 21st century can

Almost all the events are…‘pay what you can.’ – festival director Dana Camil Hewitt

Clockwise from left: The Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival features Myla Goldberg (photo by Richard Avedon), Seth Klein (photo by Erica Johnson), and Myriam Steinberg (photo by Diane Smithers).

take giant leaps in a short period of time to stave off a climate breakdown. “We’re very excited to have him in conversation with Kathryn Harrison from UBC,” Camil Hewitt said. Also on February 22, Calgary author Naomi K. Lewis joins educator Abby Wener Herlin in conversation about her

Festival TIP SHEET

Omer-Sherman, “rapidly evolves into a disquieting examination of the protagonist’s soul as one disturbing revelation leads to the next”. Moderated by the Globe and Mail’s Marsha Lederman.

THIS YEAR’S VIRTUAL Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival features international authors from several countries. Here are three top picks.

c ESHKOL NEVO (February 20) The festival will open with bestselling Israeli author Eshkol Nevo (photographed), whose newest novel, The Last Interview, reads like a structured interview but, according to Jewish Book Council reviewer Ranen

c NORMAN LEBRECHT (February 21) British historian Norman Lebrecht, author of Genius and Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947, describes how Jewish visionaries such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, and Albert Einstein left an indelible mark. Moderated by musicologist Richard Kurth. c CARLA GUELFENBEIN (February 21) Chilean novelist Carla Guelfenbein’s newest book, In the Distance With You, revolves around an 80-year-old ascetic woman’s impact on those around her, taking readers through Chile’s history from the 1950s to the present day. Moderated by festival director Dana Camil Hewitt. g

well-regarded memoir, Tiny Lights for Travellers. Nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction in 2019, Tiny Lights for Travellers explores her Jewish identity while retracing her grandfather’s escape from the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Two U.S. authors, Myla Goldberg and Ilana Masad, are scheduled to speak together on February 23 at an event entitled “On the Mothers and Daughters Spectrum”. Goldberg, a Brooklyn-based novelist and banjo and accordion player, is the New York Times bestselling author of Bee Season, which deals with family breakdown. Another of her novels, Wickett’s Remedy, takes place during the Spanish flu pandemic at the end of the First World War. Her latest novel, Feast Your Eyes, features a narrator describing how her mom juggled a photography career with parenthood. Lit Hub has described it as a “mother-daughter story, an art-monster story, and an exciting structural gambit”. The other author that evening, Masad, tells a tale in All My Mother’s Lovers about a queer, pot-smoking daughter’s discovery of five sealed envelopes that her recently deceased mother had addressed to five men. This event will be moderated by the Globe and Mail’s Marsha Lederman. The family theme will be featured again on February 24 when Carleton University political science professor Mira Sucharov will launch her new book, Borders and Belonging: A Memoir, which delves into

childhood phobias triggered by her parents’ divorce and the challenges of writing and teaching about Israel-Palestine relations. This event will be moderated by Vancouver psychiatrist Max Sucharov, who is her father. That evening, another event will have a family theme. Entitled “Creativity Runs in the Family”, it will feature two Vancouver sisters, Naomi Eliana Pommier Steinberg and Myriam Steinberg, each discussing their books. Naomi Steinberg’s Goosefeather: Once Upon a Cartographic Adventure is both a memoir and a travelogue. It details how she spent 382 days travelling around the world by road, rail, land, and sea, performing her one-woman show. She begins in a French town where her non-Jewish maternal grandfather saved her Jewish grandmother from the Nazis. Sister Myriam Steinberg’s Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of (In)fertility chronicles her decision to become a mother after turning 40, relying on the support of family and friends, as she didn’t have a partner. “They have a joint moderator [Lani Brunn], a very good friend of theirs, who knows both very well and read the books,” Camil Hewitt said. “Each book is outstanding. They are fantastic personalities.” The final event at this year’s Cherie Smith VCC Jewish Book Festival, featuring Jewish actor and author Tovah Feldshuh, was originally scheduled on February 25 but was recently postponed until April 15. Feldshuh, who has portrayed former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir and former U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has written a new memoir, Lilyville: Mother, Daughter, and Other Roles I’ve Played. “Almost all of the events except for Tovah Feldshuh are ‘pay what you can,’ ” Camil Hewitt said. “This means there’s a free option for everything.” g The Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival runs from Saturday (February 20) to Wednesday (February 24), with the closing event featuring Tovah Feldshuh taking place on April 15.

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021




Unique collaboration brings Frequencies to life


by Charlie Smith

ormally, a B.C. writer stands atop the Association of Book Publishers of B.C.’s weekly bestsellers list. But as the Straight went to the printer, a novelist from the other side of the country—Halifax’s Francesca Ekwuyasi—held that position for Butter Honey Pig Bread, a phenomenally successful debut novel about three Nigerian women. Ekwuyasi, who was born in Nigeria, achieved this distinction because Vancouver-based Arsenal Pulp Press was smart enough to publish it, so it qualified as a B.C. book for that list. That’s not the only accolade for Butter Honey Pig Bread. It’s also part of this year’s CBC Canada Reads series, and it was longlisted for last year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize. Before Ekwuyasi became coast-tocoast-to-coast famous, she was like any other struggling novelist, ready to accept a writing gig when it was offered. So she eagerly responded to an invitation from Heist theatre cofounder Aaron Collier to help develop a new multimedia storytelling show called Frequencies. “Aaron had created these sounds,” Ekwuyasi recalled in a recent phone interview with the Straight. “It was pretty wild.” She and multidisciplinary artist Stewart

Halifax writer Francesca Ekwuyasi’s novel, Butter Honey Pig Bread, has been a B.C. bestseller, but before it was published, she coauthored an innovative theatre project incorporating virtual reality.

Legere, were asked to write something in response to these noises, which included the sounds of a forest. In addition, Collier had a series of podcast interviews about his experience of childhood loss following the death of an older brother. “And, again, he invited us to write in response to that,” Ekwuyasi said. “They were really incredible prompts.” The overarching storyline was Collier’s,

but the show included elements written by Ekwuyasi and Legere in this very unusual collaboration. This month, Vancouver’s Pi Theatre will livestream Frequencies with Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg and Theatre Outré in Lethbridge. In the version that Ekwuyasi saw in the first iteration, a river and forest were personified, something that’s quite common in Nigerian literature. “It definitely

exists in Ibo folk tales and folklore, same as [with] Yoruba folklore,” she said. Frequencies is part of Pi Theatre’s Provocateurs Presentation Series, which was launched in 2017 to bring innovative and incendiary artists to Vancouver. The company’s artistic and producing director, Richard Wolfe, told the Straight by phone that the pandemic made it impossible to attract touring shows, so he went searching for productions that could be livestreamed. The first two in this year’s series are Heist’s Frequencies and Montreal-based La Fille du Laitier’s Macbeth Muet. One of the innovations in Frequencies are the different camera angles during the livestream. Viewers have the option to look from the main camera angle, but they can also choose other angles from cameras shooting the production from behind the stage. In addition, Heist has included a virtual-reality component, enabling the audience to see what a character is viewing through a headset. “It’s a very cool company and a very cool project,” Wolfe said. g Pi Theatre will livestream Macbeth Muet on Thursday and Friday (February 18 and 19) and Frequencies on Saturday and Sunday (February 20 and 21) as part of the Provocateurs Presentation Series.

Digidance ushers performing arts into the home


by Charlie Smith

or decades, Canada’s dance companies have been bringing artists and audiences together for shared experiences. So when the pandemic arrived last spring and people were being told to stay away from one another, it created a conundrum. How could this cherished art form continue? One response has been various livestreamed solo performances in Vancouver. Then there was the livestreamed Idan Cohen–choreographed duet between real-life partners Brandon Lee Alley and Racheal Prince at the Chutzpah! Festival. The really big shows, however, have been forbidden due to physical-distancing requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But recently, four of Canada’s most important dance presenters—DanceHouse (Vancouver), Harbourfront Centre (Toronto), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), and Danse Danse (Montreal)—unveiled a new initiative, Digidance, to bring large-scale productions to a computer screen near you. “There’s been a lot of discussion about the arts moving into more of a digital form of distribution,” DanceHouse artistic and executive producer Jim Smith told the Straight by phone. “And with Canada



Hopefully, this is a way to broaden out the conversation… – DanceHouse’s Jim Smith

DanceHouse’s Jim Smith says that innovation can be complicated. Photo by Rebecca Ross.

Council investments in digital funding, this moment became a catalyst to sort of advance that conversation.” Digidance’s first show, an 85-minute filmed version of Vancouver choreographer Crystal Pite’s Body and Soul with 36 dancers from Paris Opera Ballet, will be livestreamed from Wednesday (February 17) to next Tuesday (February 23). Smith pointed out that a live show like this—created on the 350th anniversary of the Paris Opera Ballet company in 2019—would

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

never be presented in Vancouver, but the film can be seen in small and large centres across the country. “I don’t want to sort of speak out of turn in terms of our upcoming programming ideas,” Smith said. “But…there are iconic Canadian choreographers whose work or whose influence has completely informed the current generation of dancemakers.” Smith acknowledged that this raises questions about whether there’s any chance to present some of these older shows in future presentations. He added that the documentation would have to be of a sufficiently

high calibre so the artists themselves would feel that it properly reflected their work. In addition, Smith noted, there’s a growing Indigenous creative voice in dance as the country comes to terms with historical truth and reconciliation. “Hopefully, this is a way to broaden out the conversation of bringing some potential iconic historic works in the past,” he said. After theatres across the country shut down due to the pandemic, Smith said that there was a desire for a “startling innovation” to respond quickly to this situation. “That all sounds really great, and yet you realize innovation is actually very complicated,” he stated. “It takes time and it takes experimentation and it takes patience.” He also emphasized that Digidance shows will never replace the experience of going to see a live dance performance and all that this entails. However, he thinks Digidance will introduce a new level of convenience and affordability for dance lovers. “Showing up to the theatre is a big commitment in itself, because there’s a big ticket price,” Smith said. “But choosing when you can watch something at your leisure in front of your computer—it comes with a lot more flexibility.” g


Diva’s wide-ranging approach expands her reach Measha Brueggergosman sang the “Olympic Hymn” and embraced jazz, spiritual, and Joni Mitchell music


by Charlie Smith

anadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman has no desire to be typecast as only being an opera singer. She certainly ranks among the Canadian greats, having performed in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and Wigmore Hall in London. Along the way, she’s worked with several of the top symphony orchestras in the world. In addition, the Fredericton, New Brunswick, native won several awards for her critically acclaimed Night and Dreams album, which features the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, and other legends from the past. But last year, in the midst of the pandemic, Brueggergosman decided to release Measha Jazz, a tribute to legendary 20th-century Black vocalists such as Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone, who were denied opportunities due to racism. “They would have had a career in classical music if they hadn’t been Black,” Brueggergosman tells the Straight by phone from Fredericton. “Nina Simone graduated from the Juilliard [School] as a pianist and couldn’t get a job until she started singing, to put it bluntly.” Brueggergosman, on the other hand, gained entry into the classical-music world as a Black singer many years later. “Now, I’m singing a jazz album as a reverse homage to these women,” she says. On Thursday (February 18), Brueggergosman will be one of many high-profile musicians appearing in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Resilient Symphony virtual gala concert. While other music superstars—including k.d. lang, Geddy Lee, violinists Itzhak Perlman and James Ehnes, trumpeters Jens Lindemann and Bria Skonberg, and pianist Stewart Goodyear—will participate remotely, Brueggergosman will sing from the Orpheum stage into people’s homes via their computer connections. In addition to performing Mozart’s aria “L’amero saro costante” from Il Re Pastore and selections from Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn, she plans on showing off her jazz chops. “So people are going to get a lot of Measha,” she says with a laugh. So why go with Mahler? “The short answer is because Mahler is never wrong, and you never have to have an excuse to perform Mahler,” Brueggergosman replies. As for Mozart, this offers her the chance to collaborate with other musicians, including Nick Wright and Amanda Chan.

My faith makes me brave. My faith makes me fearless. – Measha Brueggergosman

Soprano Measha Brueggergosman struck up a friendship with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra president/CEO Angela Elster over their shared love of music education. Photo by Lisa MacIntosh.

“We’re looking for as many ways as possible to employ as many musicians as possible in as many circumstances as possible,” Brueggergosman declares. Her appearance at the Resilient Symphony virtual gala reflects her deepening ties to the VSO under its president and CEO, Angela Elster, who was hired last year. Last November, Brueggergosman hosted the VSO’s presentation of Americana: Walker, Montgomery & Copland. She’s also an international master teacher in the VSO School of Music. “If you know what motivates you, you’re going to be such a better singer,” she advises. Elster and Brueggergosman have been friends for more than 20 years and both share a passion for music education. When Elster was senior vice president of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, she launched an initiative whereby community artists worked with classroom teachers or subject-specialist teachers. Together, they delivered the core curriculum through music and other art forms. “This fascinated Measha, so she became

a champion of learning through the arts,” Elster tells the Straight by phone. “And, in fact, we went to her elementary school in New Brunswick…and she taught math through singing to fourth graders.” Elster says that while her friend’s operatic career has reached great heights, she remains eclectic in her commitment to the power of music. “Her spirituals are amazingly moving,” Elster notes. BRUEGGERGOSMAN ALSO stunned the world when she sang the “Olympic Hymn” at the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. “I’ll always associate one of my career highlights with the West Coast,” she says. Another highlight was singing “Both Sides Now” in a 2008 televised tribute to Joni Mitchell. It was a masterful demonstration of Brueggergosman’s soaring vocals reaching an emotional crescendo in ways that the audience could never have imagined beforehand. Brueggergosman says she can still recall these events perfectly, saying such moments are rare indeed. But she also

keeps things in perspective, saying these memories are not any more special than the births of her children. She’s also a devout Christian—and she’s eager to discuss how her faith is manifested in her singing. “My faith makes me brave,” Brueggergosman states with confidence. “My faith makes me fearless. My faith makes me not care what anybody thinks but for my Lord Saviour Jesus Christ. “That’s what my faith does, because I’m serving Him,” she continues. “Like, that’s why I’m so happy, because I do everything in service to Him. So then why would I be sad or negative or backbiting or jealous, when everything I am doing is what He intends for me to step into. So I have to be bold and I have to be strong and have good courage so that you can be too, because this life is not about us.” That said, she doesn’t want to be mistaken for somebody who is “effortlessly positive”. It’s been tough for her to learn new things during the pandemic after working so hard to achieve success. Plus, like many others in the arts, opportunities to perform have evaporated along with the spread of COVID-19. That’s to say nothing of the more than two million people who have died from the disease around the world. “I don’t want anybody to not understand that I am in mourning too,” Brueggergosman emphasizes. To her friend Elster, she’s “beautiful inside and out” while remaining “such a good human being”. “Measha is a perfect fit, a beautiful fit, for the VSO because we are the only orchestra in Canada with our own music school,” Elster says. “So that nexus where artistic excellence and educational excellence overlap—that’s where she feels really comfortable and she feels she can contribute tremendously. I agree with that.” g The Resilient Symphony: VSO Virtual Gala Concert takes place on Thursday (February 18).

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021




Journey from grief inspires new Vancouver ballet


by Charlie Smith

n advance of the world premiere of Coastal City Ballet’s newest production, Whispers of the Soul, choreographer and former dancer Justine Fraser isn’t shy about spreading the credit around. Because of the pandemic, this ballet is being released on a video—a first for her— as part of this year’s LunarFest celebrations in Vancouver. Over the phone, Fraser tells the Straight she now understands that even the act of filming a theatrical ballet production is an act of choreography. She also credits the Coastal City Ballet staff and LunarFest organizers for pulling this off in the midst of a pandemic. “The dancers were amazing,” Fraser says. “We actually ran the full-length ballet three times to get as many different shots as possible. They worked so hard.” Whispers of the Soul was inspired by family tragedy. Last May, in the midst of the pandemic, her mother died of cancer, and the ballet represents her personal journey through grief. “The storyline is really about a young girl who feels lost,” Fraser explains. “She knows that she’s surrounded by people who love her but somehow she doesn’t

Gabriela Mores (left) dances the lead character in Whispers of the Soul, which choreographer Justine Fraser imagined after the death of her mother.

really feel like she knows who she is.” This girl, played by Gabriela Mores, falls asleep while reading a book, at which point she’s greeted by butterflies that lead her




FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

along a path. She sometimes feels fear, but the butterflies encourage her to continue even though she’s sometimes alone. “As the girl meets these different imaginative characters, she learns more about herself through learning about and accepting different lands, different cultures, different people,” Fraser says. To her, this represents how it’s still possible to find joy and connections in the wake of personal hardship. “It is the most meaningful piece I’ve ever created—the most collaborative piece—which, I think, makes it extra special,” Fraser says. One of her most important mentors when she was a dancer was Vancouver choreographer Wen Wei Wang, the founder of Wen Wei Dance. “He had a way of really making me feel seen and collaborated really heavily with the dancers in the room,” she recalls. Fraser studied under Alonzo King, founder and artistic director of San Francisco–based Alonzo King LINES Ballet. That marked the first time she was able to fuse contemporary and classical ballet, which she has also done in Whispers of the Soul. Fraser also mentions that she’s a great admirer of Kidd Pivot founder Crystal Pite because of how the Vancouver choreographer embeds strong storylines into her productions. “This is one of the first experiences I’ve had in having to deliver a storyline through movement,” Fraser states. She confesses that while choreographing Whispers of the Soul, she thought a great deal about Pite’s storytelling, lauding her as a “genius and a master”. “I didn’t realize how difficult that can

The storyline is really about a young girl who feels lost. – choreographer Justine Fraser

be,” Fraser says. “With COVID, we don’t have the ability to use props or sets.” Moreover, the dancers weren’t able to have any physical contact, so there’s no partner work. That means dancers had to focus on their own artistry, including their facial expressions, to convey what was unfolding in the story. During rehearsals, eight-foot squares were placed on the floor and no more than 12 dancers could be in the space at one time, each remaining in their own areas. But with editing, she believes that the film will make it seem like there are large group pieces, even though they weren’t choreographed in unison. “This experience has been incredibly exciting and moving because I personally witnessed what happens when a group of people really come together to make something happen in a time where it’s difficult,” Fraser says. g Coastal City Ballet’s world premiere of the Whispers of the Soul video will be presented on Monday (February 22) as part of LunarFest.


Vancouver director finds his last place on Earth


by Charlie Smith

ancouver documentary maker Carter Kirilenko says that unlike many other directors, he often doesn’t begin a project with a story in mind. Nor does he start with the characters and then build a story around them. “This might be a bad thing,” Kirilenko concedes in a phone interview with the Straight. “But I start with the impact I’m trying to create or the problems that I’m trying to solve. “Then I reverse-engineer that and I look for what stories exist within this field—or this problem—that could evoke empathy and inspire people or highlight a solution to that problem.” This approach is what led the 23-year-old filmmaker to create “Leuser: The Last Place on Earth”, which will have its world premiere at this year’s virtual Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. This deeply personal 15-minute documentary is intended to educate the public about how to prevent large-scale deforestation to produce palm oil on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Kirilenko reveals in the film that he has consumed palm oil, which is used in countless products, almost every day for his entire life. And “Leuser: The Last Place on Earth” is a follow-up to his earlier short documentary, “In Your Palm”, which outlined the problems associated with this industry. “There’s so much opportunity to look for solutions to very complex, pertinent environmental issues today through filmmaking,” Kirilenko says. “These can be very powerful tools of inspiration.” The University of Waterloo environmental-studies grad explains that the Leuser ecosystem is one of the world’s most ancient and life-rich ecosystems, covering 1.7 million intact hectares—and more than 2.6 million in total, according to Global Forest Watch. That makes it more than 6,500 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver. It remains home to the last 14,000 Sumatran orangutans, elephants (1,100), tigers (600), and rhinos (80). In the film, Kirilenko and cinematographer Godfrey Cheng are seen trudging through old-growth forests with Goldman Environmental Award winner Rudi Putra and a team of park rangers to learn how they’re combatting poachers and building community support to protect this natural wonderland. So was Kirilenko ever scared being in an area with hidden wildlife traps left by hunters, not to mention the presence of tigers and elephants? He lightheartedly replied that the worst fright for him and Chang were the cockroaches and bats near their beds when they were sleeping in the forest. “Also, there were leeches,” Kirilenko recalled. “Every time you went into the forest, you were guaranteed to come back

“Leuser: The Last Place on Earth”, directed by Carter Kirilenko (right), shows how conservationists are saving a species-rich ecosystem on Sumatra.

with at least six leeches attached to you, which was fun.” The park rangers ensured that he felt safe—in fact, he likened visiting the Leuser Ecosystem to entering their home, because they knew it so well. “It’s definitely not a place we should be afraid of,” Kirilenko emphasized. “It’s more of a place we should want to explore more of and learn about.” Even though he didn’t launch the film with any characters in mind, Putra and his team members fill these roles admirably.

“They were just really open to showing their work and showing most of the value of this place because I think they understand this ecosystem, this rainforest, better than anyone,” Kirilenko said. “And they understand that if more people can really get a grasp and develop empathy for it—and understand its value—that increases the chance of it being protected in the long term.” Kirilenko also interviewed widely heralded Indonesian activist Farwiza Farhan, whose words “blew him away”. “We will not protect something that

V IMFF TIP SHEET Rock climber Harvey Wright is featured in Casey Dubois and Zac Hoffman’s Crux.


Mountain Film Festival will host three live virtual panel discussions this year. c MENTAL HEALTH IN THE MOUNTAINS (6 p.m. on February 19) WIRTH Hats founder Ben Miller will moderate a discussion over Zoom with rock climber and spiritual seeker Harvey Wright, bikepacker Sarah Hornby, ultrarunner Patrick Vaughan, and psychiatrist Dr. Colleen Froese.

c CLIMATE CHANGE IN COLD AND HIGH PLACES (6 p.m. on February 23) SFU professor of ecology David Hik will moderate a discussion on Zoom with SFU earth sciences professor Gwenn Flowers, University of Alberta Canadian Ice Core Lab director Alison Criscitiello, and MétisCree filmmaker, educator, and writer Gregory Coyes. c INDIGENOUS IDENTITY IN THE OUTDOORS (6 p.m. on February 25) Moderated by Myia Antone and Sandy Ward of Indigenous Women Outdoors, this event will also feature, among others, Tahltan Nation member Curtis Ratray of Edziza Trails, Shíshálh (Sechelt) member Candace Campo of Talasay Tours, and photographer Micheli Oliver, who traces her ancestry back to the Piikani Blackfeet and Absentee Shawnee, as well as Italy and Ireland.

by Charlie Smith

we will not love,” Farhan says in the film. “And we could not love something that we don’t know.” “Leuser: The Last Place on Earth” is one of four environmental films being screened at this year’s virtual Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. The others are The Return, about salmon spawning in Metro Vancouver (covered last week in the Straight); Maybe Tomorrow, about vanishing sea ice off northwestern Greenland; and Falling Mountains, about disappearing glaciers in the European Alps. Kirilenko wanted to tell a story that respected local norms on Sumatra while still capturing the narrative and driving engagement with the audience. He hopes to do the same with what he hopes is his next project: a film advocating for the protection of old-growth trees under threat in Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. “There are a couple of things I’ve learned [from the Leuser ecosystem] that I would like to apply here,” Kirilenko said. “One is, I think, approaching the First Nations community and really trying to understand what is the value of this place…through their lens. At the end of the day, it is their land.” Secondly, he wants to emphasize the value of the Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park forests beyond the price tag on timber sales. That includes cultural and spiritual values, mental-health benefits, their role in carbon sequestration, and the usefulness of medicinal plants. “I think it really needs to be showcased and really put forward on a wider scale,” Kirilenko said. g The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival takes place online from Friday (February 19) until February 28.

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021




Missy D on a mission to make a global impression Vancouver is now home to the emerging hip-hop artist, but the plan is to conquer the world after COVID-19


by Steve Newton

issy D remembers well the day her love affair with hiphop started. She was an 11-year-old schoolkid in Zimbabwe, and her class was preparing for the year-end talent show. But they were learning to play the recorder, which isn’t the most thrilling instrument in the world. “We pretty much sucked,” the 29-yearold rapper recalls on the line from her East Van home, “and we were all complaining to our music teacher, ‘Hey, you should be teaching us music that’s relevant to us.’ Hip-hop was a big thing at the time, and he somehow changed the curriculum for the next three months in preparation for that big talent show and was like, ‘Okay, you guys wanna study hip-hop, so we’re gonna study the history of hip-hop, from deejays to dancing to instrumentals to rapping.’ “And one of the assignments was to write a rap and perform it at that talent show. So we dropped the recorder—although I still have mine to this day—and I wound up writing a rap with one of my best friends. It came easy because I used to write poetry as a kid. I just fell in love with hip-hop that day.” It was at that point that the budding rapper, born Diane Mutabaruka, transformed into Missy D. Missy Elliott was big at the time, and because of her look and how she performed at the talent show, people started to compare her to the American superstar. Before long, Mutabaruka’s new nickname, Missy D, had stuck. Ten years ago, the Rwanda-born, Ivory Coast–raised artist moved to Vancouver to study at UBC and earn a bachelor of science degree. Since then, she’s worked to develop a musical style that fuses African flavours with hip-hop, rap, and R & B.

One of the assignments was to write a rap and perform it. – Missy D

Born in Rwanda and raised in Ivory Coast, Diane Mutabaruka now perfoms as Missy D, a Vancouver rapper who draws on the best parts of old-school hip-hop, rap, and classic soul.

“I call it ‘rap & soul’,” she explains, “and the reason I say that is that I think it’s a fusion of hip-hop, rap, neo-soul, and soul music. That’s what you usually get when you’re coming to watch my band.” Missy D has performed with the likes of Maestro Fresh Wes, Jully Black, Nomadic Massive, and Busty and the Bass. On Friday (February 19), she will take part in Winter Jazz with a show streamed live from Performance Works on Granville Island. She’ll be accompanied by her band— guitarist Vinay Lobo, bassist Dave Taylor, and drummer Ian Cardona—on a bill with DJ Kookum and dancer Sierra Baker.

“We’ve shared a few stages over the years,” Missy D points out. “I’ve had the chance to open up for Snotty Nose Rez Kids—they’re a hip-hop Indigenous group—a few times, and DJ Kookum usually deejays with them. She’s opening up, so it’ll be awesome to see this femme/ woman energy from the start to the end of the show. I think she’s gonna play some EDM, some hip-hop, some fusions of music that she enjoys, and then you get me in the second half, where I’m giving you the soul, jazzy, hip-hop, reggae, live-band aspect to the show.” Last March, Missy D released the six-

song EP Yes Mama, which opens with the track “Paint”, an exploration of intergenerational “pain, trauma, catharsis, and healing through creativity”. A video for the song, compiled and edited by Gavin Hartigan, features contributions from visual artists Kimmortal, Matt Hans, Michele Jubilee, Samaneh, Kafiya Mudey, and Corrina Keeling. Missy D reveals that a second video for “Paint”, featuring the art of Sofia Shamsunahar, will be released the day before her Winter Jazz gig. She hopes it will help cement her status as an emerging artist on the Vancouver music scene. “The current goal I have this year is just grounding myself and ensuring that people know who I am and know what my music is about,” she says. “And the goal post-COVID is just to do more shows and to tour and to share the music with more people across oceans and across continents.” g Missy D performs on February 19 as part of the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society’s free online Winter Jazz program, presented in association with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Crosby takedown of Bridgers proves truly pathetic


by Mike Usinger

t what point do you go from being one of America’s most idealistic original hippies to a miserably intolerant old fart? That’s a question Phoebe Bridgers might be rightly asking this week since David Crosby reminded the world he’s still using up valuable oxygen. Folk music’s most famous mustachioed portable sperm bank was asked on Twitter what he thought of Bridgers’s February 6 appearance on Saturday Night Live. Before we get to that, a quick recap. The 26-year-old Bridgers finished off her second song on SNL, “I Know the End”, by doing her best to smash the living shit out of her Danelectro Dano ‘56 guitar. Said 12


FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

demolition, which included piledriving it into a dummy amp that shot fake sparks, wasn’t the result of her blowing a line on national TV, having her Sportsheets Unity Vibe Mini Vibrator malfunction, or being pissed that the bread on the backstage deli tray was two sizes too small for the imported European salami. How to explain it, then? Um, have you been paying attention to, well, everything that’s gone on in the world over the past couple of years? Donald Fucking Trump. Black Lives Matter. COVID-19. #MeToo. California wildfires. And Vladimir Putin arresting Pussy Riot—again. Who in their right fucking mind isn’t motherfucking angry? When Bridgers went full-on wrecking ball on her

guitar, she sent a message to all of us: you are not alone. It was as inspirationally cathartic as it was beautiful. Unless, evidently, your name happened to be David Van Cortlandt Crosby. The 79-year-old has been around long enough to remember when Pete Townshend was making Leo Fender weep on a nightly basis. So somebody asked him on Twitter what he thought of Bridgers channelling the spirits of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Courtney Love. His response was swift and blunt: “Pathetic”. And then, in case the message was somehow not clear, he followed that up with a series of double-down tweets. see next page

Whether or not Phoebe Bridgers was successful in her SNL guitar demolition isn’t really the point. She’s suggested that we should expect a sacrificial burning next. Photo by Phoebe Bridgers/Instagram.

Some were of the mildly illiterate semiconfused variety: “They are not toys ...or props ...we who’ve played them for our whole lives try to treat the with respect.” Others left one wondering not only if Crosby dreamed that he saw the whole thing, but weirdly had little idea what he was weighing in on. And also that he’s a hard-core Halloween hater: “I am told that wasn’t a very good night for her and she’s really quite good ...I could not see it or hear it then ...the skeleton costumes were kind of distracting as well ....the guitar thing was old , wrong , copy cat, looks angry , destructive , wasteful , pointless.” Melissa Etheridge’s personal baby batter dispenser also seems somewhat chuffed that Bridgers had chosen to play punisher to a Danelectro Dano ‘56, as opposed to a 1958 Gibson Explorer: “Wasn’t even that good an axe,” Crosby tweeted. “It’s the Staged part that leaves me cold.” That was followed up by a couple of digs at Bridgers’s work: “It’s [smashing guitars] what you do if you can’t write” and “I didn’t like it when men did it either ...it’s stupid drama ...poor substitute for talent .....” Looking at things charitably for a second, one might suggest that Crosby’s disdain for guitar demolitions is rooted in deep-seated and miserable envy. You know what would look inarguably stupid? Crosby smashing a guitar in the middle of the Sleepy Time Tea anthem “Guinevere”. Or the sunsets-andSominex classic “Music Is Love”. But you know what? Fuck that guy. Crosby’s primary reason for existing at this

point in his life seems to be getting irate at everything from the goddamn kids swimming off the bow of his boat to the fact that Neil Young is spending his golden years plugging Daryl Hannah. So, instead, let’s pull things back to Bridgers. The unofficial narrative on her Saturday Night Live appearance is that the 26-yearold was plucked out of nowhere for the night, which was hosted by Canada’s newest national treasure Dan Levy. That slant isn’t entirely accurate—Bridgers has two critically acclaimed albums on her résumé and four 2021 Grammy nominations. But what’s more important is where she’s come from. As the previous decade drew to a close a new wave of young female artists began taking root in the American underground, Bridgers on the frontlines along with the likes of Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, Soccer Mommy, and Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner. At the risk of over-generalizing things, said artists tend to find a sweet spot between DIY folk and lo-fi rock. But what’s truly made their movement so vital and important is what Bridgers and her fellow warriors are saying in their songs. Think sonic exorcisms where every raw emotion, dark thought, and painful memory is there to be dragged into the light. Given the shitshow that this world has become, ask yourself who you can relate to more. Someone from a world where privileged boomers sit on their private yachts writing lines like “When I awoke this morning/Dove beneath my floating home/

Down below her graceful side/In the turning tide/To watch the sea fish roam.” Or a resilient broken-home byproduct whose breakout song, “Funeral”, had her confessing “I have a friend I call/When I’ve bored myself to tears/And we talk until we think we might just kill ourselves/But then we laugh until it disappears”? And who, without coming across as self-pitying, sounds like she means it when singing “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time”? But back to what got us here: the guitar demolition. The Who’s Pete Townshend used to liken his destructions to an exorcism— a way to vent his frustrations with, well, everything. But he was never so disingenuous to suggest that his guitar sacrifices weren’t great publicity, especially during the band’s early years. Even if the demolitions themselves happened on the spur of the moment in a given show, in the larger picture it was calculated showmanship that got people talking. Given what we’ve learned from his Twitter feed, before Saturday Night Live, Crosby didn’t know Phoebe Bridgers from Regina Phalange. Bridgers’s career trajectory is headed in the opposite direction of Crosby’s, but she’s not quite a household name. Saturday Night Live is changing that. If you didn’t know who Bridgers was before her appearance, odds are pretty good you did afterwards. Only Bridgers knows for sure what her motivations were for trying to send her

Danelectro Dano to a better place. (Suggesting that she’s the kind and caring sort who—like any good person—worries about the feelings of others, she reached out to the guitar manufacturer before her performance. Danelectro gave her their blessing, along with a warning that the axes embraced by everyone from Jerry Garcia to King Buzzo are notoriously hard to break.) And the great thing about where we find ourselves in 2021? She doesn’t have to answer to or explain herself to anybody. Not us. Not the thousands of Internet trolls who weighed in with comments where the weirdly sexist subtext was that breaking guitars is and should remain a man’s game. And certainly not David Fucking Crosby and his stupid fucking moustache. But as much as she doesn’t have to answer to or explain herself to anybody, that didn’t stop her from doing so on Twitter. When Crosby tweeted “Pathetic”, Bridgers responded with two words: “little bitch”. She might have added “miserably intolerant old fart”. But as sure as, Jesus Christ, we’re so blue all the time, Phoebe Bridgers needs zero advice on how she could be doing things better. And to prove that, consider her post-SNL performance words on Instagram. Bridgers put up a shot of her in mid-demolition, captioning it with “got some really great feedback from my performance ! next time I’ll just burn it and it will be more expensive”. The world’s no longer a boomer-run boy’s club. And it’s about fucking time. g

FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021




No easy answers for a collapsed COVID libido by Dan Savage

b I’M A GAY guy living in New York in his late 20s. My boyfriend has really been emotionally impacted by the pandemic, having been a frontline worker. I think he is suffering from some mild depression or, at the very least, some intense anxiety, so I just want to preface this by saying I completely sympathize with what he’s going through. Before the pandemic, we had a really good sex life, but lately he hasn’t been interested in sex at all besides a few assisted-masturbation sessions. While I know that these aren’t usual times, I can’t help feeling rejected. Normally, I would suggest opening up the relationship, for the sake of both myself and him, and I think that he might

Scan to conffess

benefit from having sex with some guys where there isn’t an emotional investment. Of course, right now that isn’t an option. I want to be there for him, and we otherwise have a solid relationship, but this issue has been making me feel hurt. I’ve encouraged him to masturbate without me, but I do wish he could include me more in his sexual life. Do you have any other thoughts or advice? - Thanks For Reading

I hate to give you an unsatisfactory answer—you aren’t satisfied with what you’re getting at home and you’re not going to be satisfied with what you get from me, either—the only way to find

As much as

The Georgia Straight Confessions, an outlet for submitting revelations about your private lives—or for the voyeurs among us who want to read what other people have disclosed.

Losing friends to covid. Thank goodness not becoming sick and dying, but losing long time friends because I don’t strongly agree that covid is some scheme developed by the uber rich to control the population. covid has been exhausting for everyone, I don’t feel the need to eat, sleep, and shit conspiracy theories. Everyone runs their own race I guess.

Reciprocation Why is it my Mom only calls when she wants something, I am the one always initiating contact. I’ve invited her to our home and she always has excuses, but will go places with my brother. So, I have stopped asking and the contact has just become an obligation instead of a relationship.

Our rst Valentines together I wanted it to be special. I made a reservation at the restaurant where we had our first date. But when I told my gf, she told me that she and her friends had a tradition of a non-romantic get-together on Valentines Day. So I cancelled the reservation and we went to this non-Valentines Valentines - us, her best friend and her bf, and my gf’s best guy friend. After we broke up, I found out that my gf was actually in an open marriage with this “best guy friend”. I was the only one not let in on the secret. The non-romantic get-together was so that he didn’t feel left out on Valentines Day.

No Valentime I really can’t handle thinking of all the people having sex. It’s been a year for me because of this situation...

Visit 14


to post a Confession FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

Frontline workers have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s no big shock that the fallout has included depression and anxiety. Photo by Mulyadi/Unsplash.

out whether his loss of libido is entirely pandemic-related, TFR, is to wait out the pandemic and see if your sexual connection doesn’t rebound and/or if opening up the relationship is the right move for you guys as a couple. But if you suspect the collapse of your boyfriend’s libido has more to do with what he’s witnessed and endured as a frontline worker than it has to do with you or your relationship, TFR, therapy will do him more good than sleeping with other guys or masturbating without you. Urge him to do that instead. b MY DAD IS dying. He had a stroke two days ago and is in a coma with no brain function. My aunt (his sister) is trying to make me feel guilty for not traveling to see him. Even though I’m pregnant and high risk. I would have to take an airplane across the country and multiple public buses to see him. I would have to risk my baby’s life to say goodbye to a man I love with all my heart. She insists that if I don’t, I didn’t love my dad. I’m heartbroken. I keep calling his hospice and they set the phone next to his head so I can talk at him. He was so

excited about my pregnancy, and I know he would not want me to risk it. But now not only am I grieving my father, I feel guilty and selfish. Am I right to be angry? My aunt’s brother is dying. She’s sad. Everyone is sad. But this is not the first time she has used guilt to try and control others in moments of trauma. - Crying On My Abdomen

There has to be someone in your life who would be willing to step in and tell your aunt to go fuck herself. If there isn’t, COMA, send me your aunt’s phone and I’ll do it. P.S. I’m so sorry about your dad—who is already gone—and I’m sorry your kid won’t get to meet their grandfather. And you have every right to be furious with your aunt for giving you grief when you have all the grief you can handle right now. Don’t get on that plane. And if your aunt never speaks to you again, COMA, just think of all the guilt trips she won’t be able to drag you along on in the future.

b I AM A 26-year-old heterosexual girl. After four years with my boyfriend (and

see next page

with the pandemic on top of it), we started to experience sex issues. It is mainly from my side; I (almost) never get satisfaction out of sex. I’m always enthusiastic about having sex but I don’t feel “involved”, and I could literally be solving math problems in my head while we have sex. As the situation is frustrating, I talked to him and suggested that more foreplay could help me stay engaged and enjoy the sex. He was puzzled by my “need for foreplay” to reach orgasm but committed to trying. However, after minimal initial effort, he stopped trying and the limited foreplay ceased. He probably got frustrated by the amount of time I require to “warm up”, and his efforts dried up and he began rebuffing me whenever I attempted to initiate sex. Recently, after he turned my sexual advances down yet again, I decided to masturbate. The result was him being upset and taking offense at my “unpleasant behavior”. Should I feel guilty about masturbating when he turns me down? I am hurt and I very frustrated by this situation. - Masturbation Alone Turns Harsh

Allow me to decipher the message your pussy is desperately trying to send you,

Exotic Mature Filipino/ E Indian Massage! Coquitlam

Live-in Caregiver/ Personal Assistant

for an elderly lady. Must be adept at Computer and Mobile phone skills. Must be able to compose correspondences as required. Basic accounting, record keeping an asset. Furthermore, must be able to speak Tagalog and be able to cook Philippine food and assist as a family companion. Pls. contact Filomena on 604-945-5006 between 10am and 4pm.


Totally Renovated! Welcoming Old & New Clients!

604.568.5255 3-3003 KINGSWAY @ RUPERT NEW MANAGEMENT! $180 / 7 HRS (Only $25/HR) $67 (Tip inc.) 2 for 1 Free FR EE


$10 Of f

with this ad!

8642 Granville & 71 Ave., Van.


Abby's back! Time to relax! Magic Touch Massage Sun-Fri 10am-7pm.



30 min / $30

75 MIN

Reg 130






3272 W. Broadway (& Blenheim)

604-558-1608 WWW.


a couple weeks. Is it safe to suck someone’s dick who has also had the vaccine? Everything I found on google only talks about how the vaccine may affect pregnant women. What about us cum whores?

b I WANTED TO second something you wrote about kinks last week. You said—I’m paraphrasing here—that kinks are hardwired but some people do manage to acquire




- Restrictions Of Pandemic Enables Development

P.S. I would’ve called in to share our “pandemic sex success story” for your podcast but my mom and both sisters all listen to the show and they really don’t need to know. g Thanks for sharing ,


Email: mail@savagelove.net. Follow Dan on Twitter @ FakeDanSavage. Website: www.savagelovecast.com.

ATTRACTIVE PETITE 42YR OLD for Ultimate Escape...... D/Town 11am - 9pm. 7 Days. By appointment.

Hailey 236-777-6661 Tantra



them. My husband is into rope bondage. I gave it a try a couple of times at the very start of our relationship, and for whatever reason, being tied up didn’t work for me. We had great vanilla sex and he had a small stable of bondage boys on the side. A few months after the lockdowns began, he started to worry about getting rusty. I offered to let him practise on me. I don’t know what changed, Dan, but when he tied me up for the first time in a decade, I was so turned on! At first I thought it was the pot edible, but we’ve done it a bunch of times since, times when I wasn’t high, and I’ve enjoyed it just as much or more. Now I’m the one pestering him to go get the ropes. I somehow acquired his kink and he couldn’t be happier!


604-568-0123 straight.com

- Got the Fever for the Flavour

been? I predicted at the beginning of the pandemic—based on what little we knew about transmission at the time—that we were entering a new golden age of glory holes. Two months later, the New York City Health department was recommending “barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close faceto-face contact”, a.k.a. glory holes—and that was the harm-reduction advice given by health professionals long before vaccines became available. Seeing as you’re vaccinated, your risks are going to be lower. But to play it safe, build your own glory hole, invite a guy over, tell him to keep his mask on, and avoid close face-to-face by staying on your knees on the other side of that barrier. Where have you


White Rock 604-317-9119

(Incl. 45 min. Hot oil massage)



Mall area. In/Out calls & all Hotels.

Mina 604-512-3243 No Text!




b I’M A 53-YEAR-OLD gay man and I’ve never been hornier in my life. I really need to guzzle about a quart of jizz right now. I haven’t been dating anyone, and the COVID isolation has intensified my loneliness, but it’s the lack of D that’s driving me to distraction. The last time I sucked a dick was the afternoon Los Angeles began its first shutdown. Here’s the thing. I just had the first dose of the vaccine and the second is scheduled in



$28 /

MATH, as you lay there doing math problems while your boyfriend treats your body like it’s a Fleshlight: “Wouldn’t you rather masturbate alone and in peace than ever have to fuck this asshole again?” Everyone requires a little foreplay; women require more than men do; it takes women longer to get off than it takes men (five minutes, on average, for men; 13 minutes, on average, for women); and very few women can climax from vaginal intercourse alone. Any straight guy who isn’t willing to do the work—provide the necessary foreplay and come through with the nonPIV stimulation or concurrent-with-PIV stimulation required to get a woman off— doesn’t deserve a girlfriend. DTMFA.

Awakening Your Bliss Tantra Massage Somatic Sexologist Zara 604-222-4178


10am m - 10pm


5-3490 Kingsway, Van. NEWLY RENOVATED! ESTABLISHED 1993 HIRING: 778.893.4439





Stay Connected @GeorgiaStraight


Chinese Meridian Massage Relaxation Massage Body Scrubbing GRAND OPENING! Reflexology Cupping Pedicure • Manicure Facial Waxing Eyebrow Tinting Eyelash Tinting #201 – 1789 Davie St. | 604-423-5828





VANCOUVER. Our city is facing an unprecedented health crisis. We’ve lost loved ones, jobs, and community connections. Many have suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19. Please stay strong and follow the recommendations of our public health officials.

Vancouver’s News & Entertainment Weekly

Find the Georgia Straight in print throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, online at straight.com, or on your favourite social media channel @georgiastraight. MURAL BY JOCELYN WONG




FEBRUARY 18 – 25 / 2021

Profile for The Georgia Straight

The Georgia Straight - Measha's Muse - February 18, 2021