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FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021 | FREE

Volume 55 | Number 2767

URBAN LIVING

CREATE AN OUTDOOR ESCAPE

COOKING CLASSES

A WORLD OF FLAVOURS

ROBERT CONNELY FARR

MISSISSIPPI MEETS EAST VAN

HUMAN CONNECTIONS

Former TV host Riaz Meghji hopes his new book will help Vancouverites beat back pandemic-induced loneliness

KINKY ADVICE • JOSHUA BEAMISH • ANTI-ASIAN RACISM • COVID LAWS


NEWS

CONTENTS

Anti-Asian hate crimes rise on both sides of the border

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

COVER

Former Breakfast Television host Riaz Meghji’s new book shows how the art of conversation can help address pandemicinduced loneliness and boredom.

by Charlie Smith

here’s a growing chorus of opposition to anti-Asian racism south of the border. The latest to speak out is Jeannie Mai, a California fashion expert and syndicated daytime talk-show host of Vietnamese and Chinese ancestry. Mai, who has millions of followers on her social-media accounts, delivered a lengthy blast on Instagram. In her post, she acknowledged that when she was younger, she felt she had to accept racist remarks as a first-generation immigrant to America. “Racism has no hierarchy!” Mai declared. “COVID-19 and the hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump have catalyzed a surge in anti-Asian violence.” Mai’s comments followed Gran Torino star Bee Vang’s op-ed piece denouncing the 2008 Clint Eastwood movie’s repeated use of racial slurs, as well as how audiences responded in theatres. Meanwhile, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned a surge in antiAsian racism after police reported 28 hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers since the pandemic began. In nearby Flushing,

February 25 – March 4 / 2021

By Charlie Smith Cover photo by Charles Zuckermann and Zenna Wong

6

URBAN LIVING

With a bit of sand, a patch of grass, and a ready-to-use canopy, you can transform your backyard into a place to escape the house. By Mike Usinger

10 FOOD

Home cooks seeking culinary inspiration can take virtual cooking classes to learn new recipes from Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa. By Craig Takeuchi

12 In 2020, the VPD reported a massive increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. Photo by Getty Images.

New York, actor Olivia Munn helped nab a suspect accused of shoving a Chinese woman to the ground. The Asian American Federation has described the spate of anti-Asian attacks as a “second pandemic” after logging more than 500 reports of “bias incidents and hate crimes directed at our community in New York City”. “On February 3, Noel Quintana was on his way to work when another subway rider slashed Mr. Quintana’s face from ear to ear, simply for asking the attacker to stop kicking his tote bag,” the AAF said in a statement. “Just a week earlier, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man, was shoved and killed while out for a walk in his San Francisco neighborhood. Another 91-year-old Asian man was violently pushed to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown.” In Vancouver, police reported that the 98 anti-Asian hate-crime cases last year amounted to a 717 percent increase over the 12 such cases in 2019. The Vancouver incidents included people being physically attacked for being of Asian ancestry. This prompted Premier John Horgan to promise on February 18 that antiracism legislation will be brought forward. Public officials have linked the rising number of hate crimes to the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China. But over social media, two Canadians of Chinese ancestry, former federal NDP candidate Victor Wong and occasional Straight contributor Ng Weng Hoong, have repeatedly asserted that distorted mainstream-media coverage of the housing market and money laundering are also contributing factors to anti-Asian racism. To date, there’s been no effort by B.C.’s human rights commissioner or provincial officials to determine if there’s any validity to these allegations. g

FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

MUSIC

East Vancouver musician Robert Connely Farr brings a genuine taste of Mississippi’s Bentonia-style blues to his Country Supper. By Steve Newton

e Start Here

11 4 15 14 11 5 10 13 2 8 14

ARTS BOOKS CLASSIFIEDS CONFESSIONS DANCE HEALTH LIQUOR MOVIES NEWS REAL ESTATE SAVAGE LOVE

Vancouver’s News and Entertainment Weekly Volume 55 | Number 2767 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: 604.730.7000 E: classads@straight.com

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

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Housing market crackles as buyers pay more than $500,000 over list price. Just five percent of provincial COVID-19 fines have been paid. Fraser Health responds after COVID-19 variants appear in seven schools. Brent Butt retweets Corner Gas clip where he kicks Tragically Hip out of garage. Demolition of North Vancouver underpass on Highway 1 continues.

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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

@GeorgiaStraight

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Miguel Hernandez PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Mike Correia PRODUCTION Sandra Oswald ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Glenn Cohen, Catherine Tickle, Robyn Marsh, David Pearlman CONTENT AND MARKETING SPECIALIST Rachel Moore CIRCULATION MANAGER Giles Roy CREDIT MANAGER Shannon Li ACCOUNTING SUPERVISOR Tamara Robinson


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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

3


BOOKS

Conversations that can forge human connections Author and former Breakfast Television host Riaz Meghji hopes that his book can help alleviate loneliness

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by Charlie Smith

his pandemic has taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and frustration are natural byproducts of stress caused by the deadly COVID-19 disease, which continues to stalk the population. Social isolation and loneliness have drained life of a great deal of meaning. Grandparents can no longer see their grandchildren. Office colleagues only connect via Zoom or email. Even walking the dog results in less chatter in the neighbourhood as others keep their distance to avoid being infected. Former Breakfast Television host Riaz Meghji has long been interested in countering the corrosive effects of loneliness. This was triggered while researching a TEDxSFU talk that he gave in 2012. “I got to looking at this notion of loneliness—and over the years, recognizing that this was a huge challenge that nobody really talked about,” Meghji told the Straight by phone. “Or they didn’t talk about it enough because pre-COVID, loneliness was a major, major health issue.” So when the pandemic arrived, Meghji decided to write a book, Every Conversation Counts: The 5 Habits of Human Connection That Build Extraordinary Relationships. And it offers a road map toward living a more fulfilling life, even in a pandemic, while countering one’s own social isolation and the loneliness of others. The SFU grad accomplishes this by highlighting a multitude of ways to forge stronger bonds with one another, whether it’s over Zoom, in regular conversation with friends and loved ones, or in everyday encounters with people while going about our business. “The big message of this book—and the objective and intention—is that I hope it encourages people to look at how they can intentionally connect with people in their lives versus relying on autopilot mode,” Meghji says. “This era we’re in, it feels like Groundhog Day.” Every Conversation Counts highlights academic research linking diminished social ties with diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and premature death. Julianne HoltLunstad, for example—a Brigham Young University psychology and neuroscience researcher—has concluded that social isolation is comparable to the risk of smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Meghji cites another loneliness researcher, Stephanie Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, who points out that people who are isolated perceive social threats twice as quickly. This suspiciousness leads them to further isolate themselves. 4

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Riaz Meghji liked asking guests what was on their mind before he would interview them during his 11 years hosting a morning TV show in Vancouver. Photo by Charles Zuckermann and Zenna Wong.

The act of listening is really about feeling what someone is saying… – author Riaz Meghji

“I was really watching this [loneliness] during the pandemic,” Meghji says. “Angus Reid [Institute] said two in five young adults—men and women—were struggling with loneliness.” FOR MEGHJI, one of the keys to making conversations count and enhancing connections is to listen to others without being distracted. “Active listening to me is not just hearing the words but listening to what isn’t being said,” he says. “One of the most important points of this book—that I hope people take away from—is recognizing how distractions get in the way.”

FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

Meghji has learned that the average person speaks at a rate of about 125 words per minute. But he adds that our brains can absorb 400 to 500 words per minute. That’s why it’s easy to multitask while engaged in a conversation, because we believe we’re hearing everything that’s said. “Meanwhile, there could be a greater issue at hand that you’re not listening to,” Meghji says. “Maybe they’ve lost someone in their life or they’re struggling with their relationship. That act of listening is really about feeling what someone is saying and asking the questions to allow them to selfdiagnose what’s going on and help them create their own breakthroughs.” The other four habits of human connection in the book are making small talk bigger, putting aside your perfect persona, being assertively empathetic, and making people feel famous. He learned this latter habit by watching how wheelchair athlete and motivational speaker Rick Hansen interacts with others. As the host of Breakfast Television for 11 years, Meghji also learned what questions elicited fulsome responses. In the green room before broadcasts, he would often simply ask guests what was on their mind. That

enabled him to “prioritize their priorities”. “The other thing is asking for stories and not just answers,” he adds. “Whether it’s on Breakfast Television or it’s in print, it’s emotion that’s going to connect people. Emotion is what’s going to move people.” Paraphrasing psychiatrist and bestselling author Gordon Livingston, Meghji says the happiest people have something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. He believes that by focusing on these three areas, it can lead to more positive conversations. “All of those have a high emotional quotient,” he says. Meghji appreciates it when people ask him how he’s coping during the pandemic. But he thinks an even better question is to ask people how they are taking care of themselves at this unique time in history. “It’s more empowering for people to say, ‘I’m in control of this. I’m not a victim of my circumstances. Here are some things I’m doing to take care of me.’ ” Meghji left Breakfast Television after his wife gave birth to their son. So how is he taking care of himself in the pandemic? “One of the things I started doing first thing in the morning was meditating,” he reveals. Meghji used to feel guilty about doing nothing, thinking he always had to be busy. But he has since learned from U.S. podcaster Tim Ferriss that “being busy is a form of laziness, because you’re just filling in the gap”. “It’s making a big difference to practise mindfulness to start the day,” Meghji says. Family is obviously important to him while he embarks on a new chapter in his life as an author and public speaker. When asked what impact his family had on him, he replies with word associations. “Brother: creativity. Mother: compassion. Father: how to compete. My wife: ultimate teammate. And my son: pure inspiration,” Meghji says. And the most important conversation of his life came as a 22-year-old man when an older family friend advised him that he had a gift for public speaking. This friend told him that it would go to waste if he became an investment banker. At the time, Meghji joked that he was South Asian, so if he didn’t become a doctor, lawyer, dentist, or financial expert, that might be a problem. “In that moment, he challenged me, like, ‘When are you going to stop playing safe and start living your life?’ ” Meghji recalls. “When he planted that seed, I started thinking about the potential that existed, because I knew in my heart that’s what I wanted to do.” g


HEALTH

Know your provincial COVID emergency laws

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by Sarah Leamon

t’s been nearly a year since a state of emergency was first declared in British Columbia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, countless public health orders have been made and a number of new provincial laws have been enacted to help keep the virus at bay. But with so much changing so quickly, it can be difficult to keep up. Here’s what you need to know about the existing laws, as they stand today.

MANDATORY MASKS

Masks are now mandatory in public indoor settings. Opponents believe that mandatory masks are a violation of civil liberties, but our lawmakers see things differently. Now, with more than just differing opinions at stake, anyone who refuses to wear a mask in public indoor spaces can be hit with financial consequences. Offenders will be ticketed and receive a $230 fine for noncompliance. There are exemptions to this rule, though. Those who are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons are exempt from the mandatory requirement, as are those who cannot remove a mask on their own and children under 12.

Individuals can also be ticketed for failing to comply with the direction of a law enforcement officer, including being asked to immediately leave a public space, and for engaging in abusive behaviour in relation to wearing masks in public.

there for work purposes, for providing assistance care or services, for tutoring or teaching an occupant, or are providing religious services. Emergency responders or those who are providing an occupant with financial or legal services are exempt. Finally, tasks such as housekeeping, gardening, maintenance, repairs, renovations, or moving are permitted and not subject to fines under the existing public health order.

PUBLIC GATHERINGS

Tickets can be issued to those who attend an event or gathering that is not compliant with public health orders. It is also an offence to be found on a party bus or in a limousine with other occupants. Above and beyond this, though, tickets can also be given to people who encourage others to attend such an event or gathering. The associated fine for all of these offences is $230. Similar to mask laws, refusing to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including when asked to leave an event or gathering, can result in a ticket, as can engaging in abusive or belligerent behaviour in relation to this order. PRIVATE GATHERINGS

Beyond public spaces, it is now an offence for a person to host an event or gathering in their home. Doing so can result in a

BARS AND RESTAURANTS

Criminal-defence lawyer Sarah Leamon says that abusive behaviour can also be ticketed.

ticket that carries a $230 fine. However, there are exceptions. For example, if a person lives alone, they are legally allowed to have up to two other people in their home for a social purpose, so long as they are in the same social bubble. There are also exceptions to allow for people to be in private residences if they are

Restaurant and bar patrons are no longer allowed to continue drinking alcohol on the premises after 11 p.m. Failure to comply with this order could result in a $230 ticket. Patrons are also required to ensure that they remain seated in the bar or restaurant at all times, other than while entering or exiting, going to the washroom, or using a self-serve food station or pay station. They also must ensure that they stay at least two meters apart from one another unless they are in the same party or separated by a physical barrier. Singing and dancing are also prohibited. g

Sarah Leamon is a Vancouver criminal lawyer.

FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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URBAN LIVING

Outdoor escape area can be easy to pull together

I

by Mike Usinger

n a truly admirable display of mental fortitude in trying times, you’ve somehow made it this far through the COVID-19 winter. But now that it’s painfully clear cabin fever is indeed a thing, enough really is enough. You need to get outside. And if you can somehow do that in a way that enables you to escape the house for a few hours at a time, that’s a gift that will keep on giving until this whole pandemic mess is over. The good news is that you don’t have to be David Hicks, Martha Stewart, Christina Anstead, Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos to create a backyard retreat that’s functional, funky, and budget-friendly. Of course, it does help to have a backyard. Not to mention some vague desire to peel yourself off the couch you’ve been glued to since October. Here are some tips on how to move things outdoors. Play things right, and you might even be able to have friends over for socially distanced cocktails. Hang in there. Not only is spring just around the corner, but the rains are almost guaranteed to stop—probably right around July.

BUILDING A BASE

If you’re lucky, the first step of this has al-

Paving stones, a firepit, outdoor furniture, and a backyard are all you need to put together a place to escape the house. Photo by Mike Usinger

ready been taken care of. Maybe a section of your backyard has been laid with imported Italian paving stones, high-end Spanish

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slate, or, um, good-old-fashioned blacktop or concrete. Having something other than grass to set up on is important for one reason and one reason only: it tends to rain a lot in Vancouver, especially during the fall and winter and spring (and sometimes summer) months. Even when the area is covered, setting a retreat up on grass will leave you looking like the Toronto Argonauts at the end of the 1950 Grey Cup. Or the Freeling family at the end of Poltergeist. Don’t have a paved area? There’s an easy fix. Start by laying out four 10-foot 4 X 4s—cedar if you’re feeling fancy, treated lumber if you want things to last. Using large screws, nails, Gorilla Glue, duct tape, or your imagination, fasten them into something resembling a giant square. (Excavating is actually a smarter option, but that’s permanent, not to mention backbreaking when dealing with the frozen West Coast tundra, so lay that square on the grass. Then kiss that grass goodbye—you can replant from seed when this COVID mess is all over.) Fill your new DIY box with play sand from the nearest hardware store— you’ll need about seven or eight bags. This is to ensure you’ve got drainage for your new raised patio which, no matter how much it’s sheltered, will get wet. The goal is to avoid water pooling where you’re sitting. To make sure your pavers sit evenly, you’re going to have to level the sand. Do that by either eyeballing things with a shovel or, for the anal-retentive, taking a 12 foot 2 X 6, and notching out both ends. (Measure two inches from the bottom at each side, and then make a horizontal cut one foot towards the centre, and then another cut from the bottom so you have a notch that looks

like half of a T. The notched piece of wood will rest on your 4 X 4s, enabling you to drag it back and forth until the sand is level, two inches from the top.) Next you’re going to need paving stones. Go for something square rather than curved, a good option being 7” X 3” X 2” Roman pavers so everything fits nicely into the structure you’ve made with no cuts required. These are widely available at most hardware stores. When your box is filled, pour a bag of sand over top the pavers, and then use a broom to push the sand into the cracks between the stones. Congrats—this is the hardest part of the project, and you’re done! COVER UP

Assuming you’re not a duck, Aquaman, or a little mermaid named Ariel, you’re going to have to protect yourself from the West Coast’s endless torrential winter (and spring, summer, and fall) rains. The easiest way to do this is to invest in a 12 x 12–foot collapsible canopy, which you can source yourself on the web. Go the bare-bones route and you’re looking at a couple hundred dollars; opt for the Mercedes or Porsche models and be prepared to spend $400 or $500. After a half hour or so of cursing the Ikea-like set-up instructions you’ll be done. For those on a budget a 12 by 12–foot tarp will also work, with the caveat that there will be less crying if you’ve something sturdy to tie it to—trees, a garage, house, basketball hoop, or Old Glory–adorned flagpole. The key here is the slope—make sure one side is raised a foot or so higher than the other so the water doesn’t pool in the middle. see next page


URBAN LIVING guests if you’re not in the mood. More importantly, they’re a heat source that’ll enable you to stay outside comfortably until the early hours of your morning—to the considerable consternation of your neighbours. Expect to pay as little as $200 for a nofrills workhouse like the Outland Firebowl 823 or around $600 for fancier fire tables, of which there are countless Google-able options. Pro tip: these require propane tanks, and because there’s nothing worse than running dry when relaxed, and half-cut, pick up two tanks.

Tension on whatever string, bungee cord, or braided organic yak hair you’re using is also your friend—you want that tarp taut for optimum drainage. Lacking for structures to use as anchors? Invest in telescoping tent poles (Google them for a myriad of options) which, along with stakes, strings, and tension, will enable you to set up a tarp anywhere, including the Sahara Desert, Arctic Circle, the Moon, or—about as exotic as you’re going to get these days—your backyard. TAKE A SEAT

Comfort needs to be king when you’re outside at a time of the year most sensible folks are taking root on the couch watching Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. Steer clear of anything metal when considering what to sit on—or stick your tongue to à la Flick in A Christmas Story. Luckily you have an endless array of materials to choose from for both benches and chairs—wicker, wood, Polywood, and budget-conscious plastic. With social distancing important, consider springing for two benches, and two chairs. And don’t underestimate the importance of removable seating cushions for each. They’ll not only keep you a little warmer while sitting, but you can bring them inside so they don’t get damp. Again—notice a theme here?—you’re encouraged to do your own sourcing. But as you do, think about the importance of shopping at locally owned and operated

The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is a budget workhorse with cool neon features.

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Because you’re not a polar bear, snowy owl, or Arctic hare, keeping warm while the weather’s still cold is crucial. Thanks to the tarp or canopy you’ve set up overhead, those restaurant patio heaters seen at every second place in Yaletown aren’t really an option. Electric blankets are an okay start, except for the problem of unsightly extension cords. Because your patio needs a centerpiece, firepits are a complete no-brainer. They’re something to fix your gaze on so you don’t have to talk to your spouse, roommate, children, iguana, or happy-hour

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SOUND OFF

The worst people on the planet are those who love the sound of silence. The rest of us understand that an easy way to make a cool space even cooler is to add music. Nothing adds atmosphere when you’re hanging by the fire in a rainstorm like a thoughtfully curated playlist—the kind where there’s room for Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile”, the Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”, Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta”, and Dan Mangan’s “Road Regrets”. Dragging the Sonos 5 out of the living room is an option when you want a little outdoor sonic ambience, but that seems like overkill. Instead, consider portable speakers that pack a lot of sound into small packages. Solid options that won’t ruin you financially include Soundfreaq’s Sound Kick 2, which is Bluetooth-friendly, carries

My business partner Bryson and I have been best friends since kindergarten. When we both eventually got into plumbing, we saw an opportunity to change the common stereotypes around the industry. Abe (pictured on our logo) is the original owner of Pioneer Plumbing, and started the company in 1976. Since we took over, we have modernized it and grown from one van to 30.

What do you think explains the fast and consistent growth of your company?

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EXTERIOR DECORATING

This is the one area where you hopefully need zero help. Got a tiki fixation? With an Internet connection you’ll have no trouble unearthing Easter Island Moai garden statues or Tiki God Kanaloa Teeth side tables. Bleed maple syrup and poutine gravy? Go rustic with tree stumps and a couple of potted Douglas Firs. Or let’s say that the happiest that you’ve ever been was on a long-before-the-pandemic trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia, where days were spent exploring ancient jungle ruins and nights kicking back at the Red Piano sipping Tom Raiders among the potted plants and geckos. A return trip to Cambodia isn’t happening anytime soon, but re-creating that vibe isn’t that hard with a couple of palm plants and a collection of Buddha heads. It will not only take you back to happier times, giving you a reason to live again, but more importantly might actually get you out of the house for an hour or two.g

READ SOME OF THE RESPONSES FROM OWNERS CURTIS & BRYSON: How did Pioneer come to be?

Pioneer Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling is becoming a favourite among Vancouver residents. What makes them stand out and why are more and more individuals & businesses catching on to their brand?

an eight-hour charge, and is splashproof— which means no worrying about the rain during monsoon time. Add some eye candy to the mix with the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 Bluetooth speaker, which delivers deephouse bass, 360-degree sound, and a neon light in the base that changes colour with the beat of each song. Cue up D.R.I.’s “I’d Rather Be Sleeping” and watch the purple, lime-green, and cherry-red fireworks.

When we grow ourselves, our skills, our knowledge, the company growth follows. To us, providing a 4 star experience is doing the job right. 5 star experiences are earned only when we go above and beyond with our service. In addition to this, I think that customers really appreciate the same day service.

actually using the pandemic as an opportunity to demonstrate our adaptability and level of care to our customers!

What kind of services do you provide? We provide residential and commercial plumbing, heating, cooling, and gas services. We service all of the Lower Mainland, whether it be your home or business. While we are mainly known for our excellent residential service, we are also skilled in installations, repipes, renovations, air conditioning work, and water main repair. There is so much that we can do for our community, all anyone has to do is pick up the phone and start the conversation with one of our lovely service representatives.

What has changed about your company since adapting to COVID-19? All of our technicians wear masks, sanitize the work space, and maintain social distancing with our customers. The world has changed, but something that hasn’t changed is plumbing and heating systems breaking down when you need them most. We are FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

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URBAN LIVING

Flexible space can transform small apartments

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by Charlie Smith

ancouver planner and developer Michael Mortensen knows that not everyone is a fan of small apartments. But the founder of Liveable City Planning Ltd. also insists that there are many misconceptions about this topic. “The biggest one is that more compact units are less livable,” Mortensen tells the Straight by phone. “I think that’s just a fallacy.” As a director of the nonprofit Small Housing B.C., Mortensen is one of the province’s foremost advocates for a looser municipal planning approach to allow for more bedrooms in smaller spaces. This can be accommodated by what he describes as “4-D design”. “We have to add the dimension of time to the design of more compact apartments,” he says. In a 2019 speech to a planning audience, Mortensen noted that 38 percent of the typical two-bedroom apartment unit is only used for about eight hours per day. He’s a fan of “flexible space”, in which rooms are reconfigured through convertible furniture to allow for different uses throughout the day and night. One of the early efforts at creating convertible space occurred at Bosa Properties’ Alumni Tower in Surrey Centre. Walls separating the bedrooms could be rolled back to increase the size of the living room, with the bed being folded back into a sofa. Nowadays, at higher-end home-interior shops like Resource Furniture in Gastown or even at IKEA, it’s possible to buy products that enable rooms to be transformed. A desk, for instance, can be converted to a bed “with your pinky finger”, Mortensen says. In fact, he points out that it’s possible to pull down a bed from a wall 628 UNION ST I $1,998,000

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In the above example of flexible space involving convertible furniture in a tiny apartment, a sofa and wall become bunk beds for a growing family.

unit to cover a desk without even having to remove books, a computer, or a glass of wine from the surface. Tables are also being designed for multiple uses. They can be lifted higher to convert from a coffee table to use as a desk or elongated to accommodate more guests for a postpandemic dinner party. “We’re seeing the furniture industry responding to consumer desires for more flexible, adaptable space,” he declares. Mortensen also wishes municipal planners would be more receptive to “inboard bedrooms” not adjacent to windows. He says that these interior bedrooms can be convertible as well, with a transom window bringing in “borrowed” natural light from the outside. The ability to add a third bedroom in a 5 bed, 4 bath, 2,385 SF Home Lovingly maintained and updated home in Strathcona. Has a gorgeous south-facing garden oasis. Full basement has separate entry, & could be a suite. Double car garage and storage Showings by Appt: THURS Feb 24th, 5 - 7pm SAT Feb 27th, 2 - 4pm SUN Feb 28th, 2 - 4pm 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,114 SF Co-op Bright open plan features two gas fireplaces and French doors leading to a large south-facing deck, that overlooks the garden. Pets OK. Storage & bike locker Showings by Appt: THURS Feb 24th, 5 - 7pm SAT Feb 27th, 1 - 4pm SUN Feb 28th, 1 - 4pm

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FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

900-square-foot apartment can save growing families vast amounts of money if it means they don’t have to buy a larger unit. Mortensen also thinks it’s possible to create an “eminently livable” two-bedroom apartment in 600 square feet—citing an Anthill Studio video showing off such a unit in Southeast False Creek. “As someone who has lived in the city centre with a family—in an apartment with his family—I know by experience what it’s like to live in compact spaces,” Mortensen says. “It has enormous benefits in terms of affordability and proximity to work.” He adds that too much emphasis is being placed on the number of square feet in an apartment as opposed to the “volume”, which can be boosted with higher ceilings.

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This can make it possible to make better use of space above or below beds. A 2019 report by Small Housing B.C. noted that the “cost of housing has outpaced incomes exponentially” in Vancouver in recent years. West Side condos shot up 100 percent in price from 2006 to 2017, whereas East Side condos rose by 116 percent over the same period. With the cost of land, construction, and government fees and taxes going up, Mortensen believes it’s imperative to be more imaginative about the use of space. “If you want more affordable units, you’re going to have to get much more creative with design,” he says. “And you have to make much more judicious choices about how you, in a sense, spend your space.” g

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URBAN LIVING

Decluttering helps you to reimagine home space

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by Carlito Pablo

eople collect things during the course of their lives. In many instances, people find it hard to let go of their possessions later. For some, and especially people prone to procrastination, they put off for another day the task of tidying up. As home-renovation specialist Brandy Kawulka notes, stuff takes up space. “It’s just a lot of clutter, things that we don’t really need,” Kawulka told the Straight in a phone interview. Kawulka and her husband, Paul Keller, are the founders of Wood Be Art Renovations, a home renovation company based in New Westminster. Kawulka has observed one thing as people started staying at home more because of the COVID-19 pandemic: they began to look for more usable spaces. That meant, among other things, having to deal with stuff that may have been accumulating in some corner of the house or in the basement or garage. “We had the opportunity to clear out our clutter and then reimagine the space we have at our homes,” Kawulka said. The mother of two can relate to this. “We just cleared our attic,” she said on the line. “I’m looking at a pile.” She and her family removed some luggage, an old guitar, some dishes that they never used, a motorcycle helmet, and other “random stuff” that they had stored in their attic. They will donate these things and be rewarded for it. “It basically created the ability for us to utilize some dead space in the attic that normally collects clutter,” Kawulka said. Decluttering does more than clear up space. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in 2016 noted that getting rid of clutter makes one feel more at home. “Instead of connectedness, clutter can create disconnectedness from important dimensions of at-homeness,” the paper, by American researchers Catherine A. Roster, Joseph R. Ferrari, and Martin Peter Jurkat, noted. The paper is titled “The Dark Side of Home: Assessing Possession ‘Clutter’ on Subjective Well-Being”. In the study, the authors noted that there is a “natural desire” by people to “appropriate their personal spaces with possessions”. Such possessions “reflect self-identity and remind them of important people, places, and experiences in their lives”. “However, when clutter becomes excessive, it can threaten to physically and psychologically entrap a person in dysfunctional home environments which contribute to personal distress and feel-

Home-renovation expert Brandy Kawulka says the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to look for more usable space in their homes because they are spending much more time there.

ings of displacement and alienation,” they wrote. Kawulka recalled that before the pandemic, many people were not really spending a lot of time in their homes. “We would go off to work, go out for dinner, go out and see a friend, take the kids to an activity, or whatever,” she said. Now people are demanding more of their homes. They have to work and do their workouts there—and share space with kids, who do online schooling.

I think that we need to feel good in our homes more than ever... – Brandy Kawulka

dow to bring in more light. Moreover, many homeowners want comforts like heated floors.

Kawulka likewise recalled that Wood Be Art got requests to make bathrooms more luxurious. Soaker tubs, which are deeper than normal tubs, were in demand. In addition, older clients or their adult children wanted to have tub-to-shower conversions as a safety measure for those aging in place. Clients also sought more outdoor uses. Wood Be Art received orders for decks, patios, and “she sheds”. She sheds are structures measuring 100 square feet or less. They are typically used for fitness activities like yoga, for arts and crafts, or for an office. They’re a woman’s answer to the man cave. “They’re a little retreat out in the yard so that we have a little bit more space to spread out,” Kawulka explained. Wood Be Art has been around for almost 20 years. As part of their mission to help people improve their homes, Kawulka and her husband host a podcast titled All Things Renovation. “For years, we’ve collaborated with our clients to make their houses feel more like home,” Kawulka said, “and I think that we need to feel good in our homes more than ever in this moment.” g

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“So we started getting a lot of people coming in and asking to help them reimagine their homes,” Kawulka said. She said that making homes more functional involves not only looking at unfinished or partially finished basements (a “dumping ground for stuff” ) but it’s about creating warmth. “We did this kitchen in East Van and opened up the space so that the dining room and kitchen were more connected,” she said. They also installed a bigger win-

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FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

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FOOD & DRINK

Local cooking classes offer a world of flavours

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by Craig Takeuchi

hanks to the cultural and linguistic diversity present in Vancouver, home cooks have a chance to learn how to make dishes and drinks from various parts of the world through locally based online cooking classes. Here are three upcoming sessions that will teach participants how to make dishes from Italy, Vietnam, and Senegal. ITALIAN FAMILY RECIPES

Although many people may know how to make lasagna, most probably rely on store-bought premade pasta and sauces. But if you want to make it from scratch, here’s a chance to learn how to do that using an Italian family recipe that has been passed down for generations. As part of Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2021, In My Kitchen is presenting Fiorucci Family Lasagne in two-part sessions from noon to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday (February 27) for $53.50 on Zoom. In My Kitchen founder Paula Mohammed will cohost the sessions and help answer your questions. This online cooking class will teach participants how to make and assemble the four main dish elements she learned from her grandmother: fresh pasta, traditional Italian ragù, béchamel sauce, and how to assemble it all. Due to the length of time it takes to make this dish, the first part will cover making pasta and its sauce, while the second half will be about béchamel sauce and putting it all together. For more information and to register, visit In My Kitchen. VIETNAMESE CUISINE AND COCKTAILS

In My Kitchen is also hosting a session for Dine Out Festival Vancouver to help celebrate the Year of the Ox. Although some people may associate the Lunar New Year only with Chinese New Year, there are numerous Asian countries and cultures that celebrate the occasion.

Virtual Vancouver cooking classes can teach you how to cook bún bò hué (spicy beef noodle soup) for Vietnamese Lunar New Year (left, photo by In My Kitchen) or how to make lasagna from scratch with an old family recipe. Photo by Getty Images.

In Vietnam, it’s known as Tết Nguyên Đán. A Lunar New Year Cooking and Cocktails Class will teach participants how to make bún bò hué, a spicy beef noodle soup drawn from the cooking style of the former royal court in the city of Hué. In addition, viewers will also learn how to make their own Mandarin Mojito. For this cocktail, Odd Society Spirits is partnering with In My Kitchen to offer participants a 10 percent discount on their East Van Vodka (and will provide a garnish for the cocktail). This class will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday (February 28) for $32.10. More information and registration is available online at the In My Kitchen website. SENEGALESE CUISINE

To celebrate Black History Month, Alliance Française Vancouver is presenting a free online cooking class en-

titled Let’s Celebrate Africa: En Cuisine! at 11 a.m. on Sunday (February 28). Madani’s Kitchen, a Vancouver gourmet catering service specializing in Senegalese cuisine, will present a recipe for Saint Louis–style stuffed chicken thigh in rougaille (tomato sauce), served with cowpea pancakes. A vegetarian option will also be presented: cowpea pancakes with rougaille served with beet mille-feuille and sweet-potato purée. The sessions will also be hosted by Madani’s Kitchen founder Rokia Koné, chef Ansou Sagna, and author and storyteller Wanda Jemly. Note that this session will be presented en français—so it may be an opportunity for some to brush up on their French language comprehension. To attend, RSVP online at the Alliance Française Vancouver website. g

Inniskillin turns Canadian winters into a blessing

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by Mike Usinger

niaow ma muang (go with Philippine mangos and don’t forget that you need sticky rice—not Thai, jasmine, or the fabled San Francisco treat known as Rice-a-Roni). For those on the savoury side of the vineyard, a sinfully sweet glass or three of Inniskillin will go smashingly with Nunes Farms’ spicy cocktail almonds from Gourmet Warehouse or a slice or seven of Roquefort Gabriel Coulet from Les Amis du Fromage.

e lovingly decant wines from the West Coast to Western Samoa and beyond, then give you a highly opinionated, pocket-sized review.

SPLASH DOWN

2018 Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Vidal Icewine THEIR WORDS

DULY NOTED

“Aromas of pear, lychee, mango, and citrus that carry through to the palate. It is well structured with great balance between acid and sugar, with a long-lasting finish.” SUGGESTED PERFECT PAIRINGS

Some people have an endless appetite for all things sweet: Seth Brundle in David Cronenberg’s The Fly; former queen of France and unabashed cake enthusiast Marie Antoinette; your six-year-old nephew with the three-pack-a-day Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip habit. 10

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Vidal Icewine will help you embrace the cold last days of winter.

For those folks, Inniskillin Vidal will go wonderfully with a Tropical Cloud cake from Cadeaux Bakery or homemade khao

FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

Assuming you’re not a block-heater repairman, snowmobile collector, or outdoor ice-hockey enthusiast, Canadian winters are only good for making us appreciate spring, summer, and the fall. Looking on the sunny side of the frozen street, they’ve given the world the golden elixir known as ice wine. You know the drill: grapes are harvested at about -8° C or lower after they’ve frozen on the vine. They are then pressed before

the crystallized water within melts. Think concentrated flavour bomb right off the starting line that turned into something sinfully honeyed and complex during the fermenting process. So despite coming from the frozen tundra of the Great White North (Oliver, B.C., for those keeping score with an atlas), Inniskillin explodes with tropical flavours: luscious Okanagan apricot, citrus-kissed peach, exotic lychee, and fresh-picked mango. All of which is to say that if another four weeks of Canadian winter make you want to burn your Canada Goose Snow Mantra parka and Pajar boots and light out for Mexico, there’s an alternative. Learn to embrace the cold with Inniskillin Vidal, which rightly bills itself as “ideally suited to our endless winter season”. A raging bonfire in the middle of nowhere— preferably up North—will make an already fantastically Canadian thing ever better, with the Lik-M-Aid optional. g


ARTS

Beamish explores pandemic fallout in PROXIMITY

In five short pieces, the Vancouver choreographer and dancer delves deeply into artists’ interactions

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by Charlie Smith

enowned Vancouver dance artist Joshua Beamish has thought a great deal about the differences between being a choreographer and a dancer. He finds choreography to be “really intellectually demanding” because it involves learning how to communicate with a dancer while learning how they work and what their body is capable of doing. “So there’s a lot of investigation,” Beamish tells the Straight by phone. “It’s like scanning. I feel you’re constantly scanning through material, seeking things that are resonant or vital.” He explains that dancers, on the other hand, “are kind of in an unknown state” as they set out to achieve the choreographer’s vision and decode certain requests. “It’s also physically demanding on top of that,” Beamish says. “So there’s the physical exhaustion and preparation for your body to be able to exceed what the choreographer may want.” To him, jumping back and forth between both roles is the most challenging because although dancers will get used to the routine, alternating between dancing and choreography makes him feel that he’s always having to get back into shape. “I need to have taken ballet class; I need to have done Pilates; I need to have done yoga,” Beamish says. “There’s just a different preparation, and when I’m dancing, I’m so tired.” Reflecting his dedication to his art form, he decided to embrace both choreography and dancing in his latest project, PROXIMITY—a collection of short works, which will be presented as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Consisting of five filmed pieces, each seven to 11 minutes long, PROXIMITY revolves around different encounters that he has with other artists. In the title piece, Proximity, he choreographs a duet

In Redemption, Joshua Beamish hands the choreographer’s storyboard to Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Photo by David Cooper.

between himself and Renée Sigouin. Inspired by the pandemic, they come close to one another at times but do not touch; on another occasion, there’s a gaping stage between them, with the dance set to the music from the outer-space film Interstellar. “That space can feel infinite when you can’t touch or be

close to people that you care about—or you can’t see them, or you’re near them but you can’t hug them,” Beamish says. In another piece, Lost Touch, Beamish choreographs a solo performance by Sigouin, inspired by the notion that people lose touch with one another for many reasons. And in Falling Upward, Beamish choreographs and performs by himself, with Scott Fowler codirecting the film. According to Beamish, Falling Upward was inspired by a quote from the Center for Action and Contemplation. He describes this as a moment in which pain, embarrassment, or failure cause a person to reevaluate their life and priorities as they move into the second phase of adulthood. Two other pieces, Ablaze Amongst the Fragments of Your Sky and Redemption, involve Beamish dancing solo for choreographers Kirsten Wicklund of Ballet BC and Colombian-Belgian star Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, respectively. Ablaze is the only one of the five short pieces that will be having its world premiere. There’s a reason why he chose Wicklund and Ochoa, beyond their impressive résumés. “Kirsten, Annabelle, and I all generate our choreography on our own bodies,” Beamish explains. “So we all dance in the room as choreographers and make phrases.” He adds that many choreographers he’s worked with prefer to create through theoretical ideas or tasks or have dancers generate movement. Then they thread that together into a coherent structure. “Whereas this time, I was literally watching Annabelle and Kirsten and learning steps from them that they were coming up with from their bodies,” he says. “That in itself is a really different experience.” g The Dance Centre will stream PROXIMITY—a collection of short works from Thursday (February 25) until March 11 as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Lunar New Year lanterns grace tiny Morton Park by Charlie Smith

An installation titled We Are a Family, six large and strikingly colourful lanterns, has just been erected in the West End’s Morton Park near English Bay as part of the Lantern City Project.

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he A-maze-ing Laughter sculpture has a new neighbour for a little while in Morton Park. That’s because on February 21, just west of the enormous smiling bronze Buddhas, six large, colourful lanterns were installed in the West End greenspace on the edge of English Bay. Entitled We Are a Family, this installation is part of the Lantern City project to celebrate Lunar New Year. The Society of We Are Canadians Too placed them in the park as a companion to the Coastal Lunar Lanterns installation, which is also part of Lantern City and is on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery. A diverse group of artists were involved in the We Are a Family installation to celebrate the Year of the Ox. Their heritage is highlighted in the park. From left to right in the photograph, these lanterns

are named The Sweet Buzz of Community, by Kent Chan-Kusalik (Chinese and Canadian); Coastal Memories, by Tierney Milne (Canadian); Waves of Culture, by Bert Monterona (Filipino and Canadian); Oxen, by Pierre Luigi Vassura (Italian and Canadian); Katribo, by Mario (MAYO) Landicho (Filipino and Canadian); and Salish Snowflake, by Cory Douglas (Squamish Nation). On the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery, four of the Coastal Lunar Lanterns were designed by three generations of the Musqueam band’s Point-Cannell family, including one by famed artist Susan Point. The other four lanterns on the north side of the VAG were designed by three generations of the Pavavaljung family, who are Paiwanese Indigenous artists in southern Taiwan. g For more information, visit LunarFest.org.

FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

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MUSIC

Farr brings Mississippi blues to East Vancouver

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by Steve Newton

hen Louisiana slide-guitar wizard Sonny Landreth played the Rio Theatre in August of 2019, those who arrived early enough to see the opening act got a real treat. It was a local Mississippi transplant—named Robert Connely Farr—who’d been blowing people away with his album from the previous year, Dirty South Blues. Turns out Farr had been contacted online a month earlier by the folks at the Canadian Pacific Blues Society who were promoting the show. They wanted their own copy of the album. “That was the thing,” Farr recalls from his home in East Van. “That album just kinda took off; there was so much happening with it. “You guys kinda set that off,” he adds with a laugh, referring to rave reviews by two Georgia Straight scribes, one of whom put Dirty South Blues on his list of the Top 10 Albums of 2018. After the release of that disc—and before the pandemic hit in March of 2020— things were going good for Farr as a working musician. That year, he played several sold-out shows, including one on Bowen Island opening for the Cave Singers. He packed ’em in with Trailerhawk at the WISE Hall. And in January of 2020, he was enjoying a Thursday night residency at the Heatley on Hastings Street in Strathcona. Farr moved to Vancouver 14 years ago and played his first local gig at the Cobalt in 2009 with Jay Bundy Johnson on drums and La Chinga member Ben Yardley on guitar. Since then, he has most often been accompanied by Johnson, multi-instrumentalist Jon Wood, and bassist Tom Hillifer. Farr’s music in recent years has been heavily influenced by 73-year-old Mississippi bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, whom he first met in 2017. Holmes lives in Bentonia, a town near Farr’s native Bolton, and he runs an old juke joint called the Blue Front Cafe that Holmes’s mother started in the 1930s or ‘40s. “It’s rooted in the Bentonia style,” Farr says of the music he picks up from Holmes. “I call it ‘deep blues’, just because in literature they talk about the deep blues as being blues that’s really rooted in some kind of obscurity. The only place that I play when I go home is that old juke joint, and the only person that teaches me is Jimmy. So that’s what’s been drivin’ this boat for the last few years.” Considering his Mississippi roots, you might think that Farr would have immersed himself in the music of B. B. King or Muddy Waters early on. But that’s not quite the case. “The first thing that got me excited was Kiss,” the 43-year-old says. “I’m not gonna

12

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Robert Connely Farr has been heavily influenced by the music of Mississippi bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes. Photo by Tyler McLeod.

Just get me down to the ol’ Heatley, buddy. I’ll play a set on that stage. I’d love to see my buddies, you know. – Robert Connely Farr

lie. I had a stack of Kiss tapes up to my waist. My mom was horrified and she suggested Bryan Adams, of all people. Maybe we can go ahead and make that connection with this article, ‘cause maybe Bryan Adams needs a southern-sounding fella for a song or two, and I sure could use some of his [Warehouse] studio.” Speaking of notable Vancouver recording facilities, Farr’s latest album, Country Supper, was recorded at Hipposonic Studios, home of the original Little Mountain Sound. It was launched last November to acclaim reminiscent of that bestowed on his previous platter, which had been released by Robert Connely Farr & the Rebeltone Boys. “The biggest difference between those albums, for me, was that the last one had my guys that I’d been playin’ with for eight years. For the Dirty South Blues album,

FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

that opportunity with [producer] Leeroy [Stagger] presented itself and I jumped on it as a chance to work with somebody different. But I was kinda torn on that album because I wasn’t workin’ the band that I’d been playin’ with for so long. So when we went on to do Country Supper, the biggest thing was it was my guys. “And another huge thing was, we had all just been down to Mississippi to play the Bentonia Blues Festival, and something happened there. I mean, my drummer and bass player were playing with R. L. Boyce and Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes. It was just amazing to see the band playing with these other guys for different sets in a festival, and when we got back, it was just like lightning, man. We went into the studio and came out with 24 or 26 tracks to choose from. It was amazing.

“And that was right about the time I got diagnosed with cancer,” he confides, “and found out I had to have the surgery. So there was kind of this element of, ‘We gotta get this shit done.’ ” A month ago, Farr underwent his third surgery in three years, and he has just been given a clean bill of health. “I feel pretty good,” he says. “I’m damn sure glad to be here, I tell you that much. And I’m grateful to be in Canada—I’ll say that on the record. I’m grateful for the healthcare up here.” Farr’s current outlook is echoed somewhat in the haunting Country Supper track “I Ain’t Dyin’ ”. “Don’t need nobody to tell me what’s wrong with me,” he croons over gritty, reverberating chords. “Yeah I got a few ideas of my own / Gon’ smoke and drink and have some fun / Until my day is done / Im’a sit and strum this here guitar.” Since Farr seems determined to live to gig another day, the question arises: if the pandemic were declared over today, where would he most want to play tonight? “Man…,” he ponders after a deep exhalation, “…like, if it was totally safe? You know, just get me down to the ol’ Heatley, buddy. I’ll play a set on that stage. I’d love to see my buddies, you know. See my friends.” g


MOVIES

Vancouver mountain festival names its top films

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by Craig Takeuchi

ue to avalanches and COVID-19 clusters at ski resorts, outdoor enthusiasts need to take extra precautions when planning to head out into B.C.’s winter wonderlands. But one of the safest ways to enjoy the great outdoors at the moment is to take it all in from the comfort of home. The 24th edition of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival continues until Sunday (February 28) with an array of streaming offerings covering everything from impressive physical feats to environmental issues to animated films. Meanwhile, the VIMFF announced its awards prior to this year’s festival. “Crux”, by B.C. codirectors Zac Hoffman and Casey Dubois, won the best Canadian film award for their profile of a recovering addict who faced mental-health challenges as pandemic restrictions separated him from the rock climbing that helped him rise out of his personal struggles. While many outdoor activities involve physical risk-taking, VIMFF 2021 jury member Pat Morrow cited the internal risks that both the filmmaker and subject took in making this film. “They say you can tell a climbing film

The documentary The Horse Tamer, which won the grand prize at the 2021 Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, follows a horseman chasing thieves across Mongolia.

is good when it makes your palms sweat,” Morrow stated. “Well, Crux made our palms sweat, even in scenes when Harvey Wright, the lead character, wasn’t climbing. The jury felt that both the filmmakers and their subject went out on a psycho-

logical limb to tell this difficult story, and their absolute trust in each other resulted in this fine film.” The top award went to the French documentary The Horse Tamer, in which director and ethnographer Hamid Sardar fol-

lows an intrepid horseman who pursues horse thieves across Mongolia. Jury member Peruzzo de Andrade explained the reason the jury chose this film for the grand prize. “It is clear that the production of this film required the director to seek meaningful relationships and act with integrity and cultural resonance,” de Andrade stated. “Folded into an examination of human limitations and possibility, Sardar achieved an outstanding production which the jury determined the recipient of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Grand Prize.” The other winners were: • best mountain culture film: “Irakli’s Lantern” (U.K.) • best climbing film: “Free As Can Be” (USA) • best mountain sport film: “Confessions of a Runner” (Lebanon) • best environmental film: “Echoes in the Arctic” (USA) • best adventure film: Wall of Shadows (Poland) • best short film: “The Great Milestone” (“El gran hito”) (Spain) • special mention: “Lost at Sea” (U.K.) g

Basement will make you miss the White Stripes

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by Mike Usinger

pend enough time pouring over old interviews, and one might conclude that the implosion of the White Stripes still hurts mightily for the legend born John Anthony Gillis. The singer-songwriter’s career has admirably been built on carefully controlling, well, everything—from the Stripes’ entire aesthetic to his Third Man Records headquarters in Nashville. Don’t just stop at image, sound, colour schemes, and the importance of making sure there’s lime juice on top of the guacamole—back in the day, even the White Stripes’ roadies were expected to dress like they’d just stepped out of a 1930s speakeasy. It was goddamn fantastic in the most retro-magical of ways. The one thing that Jack White wasn’t able to manage? Meg White and her tortured relationship with fame. By the middle of the ’00s the White Stripes were one of the most famous bands on the planet. And the notoriously introverted drummer seemingly began to realize it’s hard to hide from the spotlight in a two-person project. By the end of 2007—after the release of Icky Thump—the White Stripes were cancelling shows as Meg battled with acute anxiety issues. Four years later the band

The White Stripes always got the cutline jokes. Photo by Pieter M. van Hattem.

was officially done without ever having recorded another album. That Meg has disappeared from every radar—pop culture or otherwise—since walking away from the band speaks volumes about how much she doesn’t miss the White Stripes. And that’s what makes just-released footage of an unearthed studio performance by the much-missed group so fascinating. Part of a series called From the Basement, the session has been released on YouTube to help promote the new compilation The White Stripes Greatest Hits. From the Basement was shot live in 2005

at London’s Maida Vale Studios. In charge of the recording was the series creator Nigel Godrich, known for his production work with Radiohead and Beck. Behind the camera was director Sophie Muller, whose résumé includes videos for, in no particular order, The Kills, Gwen Stefani, the Dead Weather, and the Raconteurs. A number of things stand out. The Stripes were widely credited with sparking the great rawk revival of 2001, and indeed they totally kick out the jams with tracks like “Blue Orchid”. On that opening number Meg White doesn’t play the drums as much as beat the living shit out of them. But driven home is that the White Stripes were always just as potent when taking things down to a deep-country-atthe-Crossroads crawl, as evidenced by the bongos being hauled out for “As Ugly As I Seem”. Because of all that he’s done as a solo artist and a member of the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, history frames Jack White as the runaway star of the Stripes. But right from the moment that Meg walks into view—Jack greeting her with “Lady in red is dancing”— the two come across as a team. A team committed to wading into battle together, aware of the importance of being totally locked in, and grateful each has the other’s back.

The other revelation? At some point, before it all got too much, Meg looked like someone who was having fun. The White Stripes’ session was part of the From the Basement pilot episode. Godrich knew instinctively that he’d captured something special with their mini-set, parts of which first aired in 2007. “The dream of From the Basement is to capture great performances with the most direct and beautiful coverage possible, both sonically and visually,” he notes today. “We were so fortunate early on to have the support of Jack and Meg who instinctively understood the concept of the show and so came to be part of it. As a result we have this amazing snapshot of their fantastic energy and style.” He’s not the only one. Now that the entire From the Basement session has been released, Jack White remembers things as follows: “It was beautifully filmed and the sound quality makes a performance on a regular TV show sound like a wax cylinder recording. No host. Thank God.” If the implosion of the White Stripes still hurts, it’s because Jack White knows, more than anyone, how beautifully he managed to catch white lightning in a bottle. Watch on YouTube and be wowed. g

FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 4 / 2021

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SAVAGE LOVE

Antidepressants put the boots to reader’s kinks by Dan Savage

b I KNOW YOU and other sexperts say that kinks are ingrained and not something you can get rid of, but mine have all vanished! Ever since I started on antidepressants, my relationship with my body and how it reacts to pain, both physical and mental, has completely changed. I used to love getting bit and spanked and beat black and blue, but now all that just hurts. I used to love getting humiliated and spit on, commanded to do dirty things, but none of that holds much appeal anywhere. So what gives? Were these even kinks in the first place if they could vanish so easily with one little pill? Or were these coping mechanisms for emotional problems I no longer have? I know my libido is sup-

Scan to conffess

pressed due to the meds. Did my kinks just follow my libido out the door?

- The Missing Kink

kinks the door at the same time they showed your libido the door. Zooming out for a second: while some people find that consensual BDSM helps them cope with trauma and/or process their emotional problems—or work through the kind of traumas that create emotional problems—many people into BDSM have no significant history of sexual trauma, TMK, or whatever trauma(s) they may have suffered, sexual or otherwise, didn’t create or shape their kinks. And while consensual BDSM

Antidepressants showed your

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.

Tangled Knots I tied the knot with someone a few years ago, but the one I really want tied the knot with someone else.

Come down I decided to stop taking anti-depressants for good. I’m sure they definitely work for other people who really need them, but I realize that they’re not for me. When I first started going through withdrawal, I thought that I was on the verge of having a stroke. I haven’t taken any anti-psychotic drugs for a week now but it’s still in my system. Not sure how long it will take, but I hope to get back on track soon.

Waiting I’m wasting my whole life waiting. Waiting for my partner to come home on my day off so we can have yet another boring evening. Waiting until another shift at work starts, to make money that one day I can spend on travel. Finishing another worthless degree so that the future can be better. Waiting for my partner to realize I’m not feeling great so she can give me a cuddle and tell me it’ll be okay. Lying in bed waiting for the day to end hoping the next one will be better. What a pathetic life I choose to live.

My fantasy is messed up When I lay down for bed I secretly wish a women even an ugly one would sneak in my room and wake me up by lifting her dress and sitting on my face. I’ll never have this happen but it keeps running through my mind. I should get help but it’s embarrassing to talk about.

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If antidepressant medications have banished both your libido and your kinks, Dan Savage advises seeking medical help with a different dosage or a new drug. Photo by Artem Labunsky/Unsplash.

can provide therapeutic benefits to a person who 1. has a history of trauma and 2. has an interest in kink—by making them feel in control of their own bodies (even if they’re temporarily ceding that control)—not everyone who’s kinky can point to a traumatic event at the root of their kinks. And kinky people shouldn’t have to cite trauma to justify the pleasure they find in getting bit, spanked, beaten, bruised, bound, etcetera. “It’s become an oft-repeated narrative of many a wellness think piece that BDSM and freaky fetishes are actually okay because they help people deal with their traumatic past,” as writer, comedian, and self-described “Leatherdyke Muppet” Chingy Nea wrote in a recent essay about the creeping pathologizing of kink. “What gets you off is not inherently born of trauma or sign of dysfunction, nor does it require suffering to validate it. Being turned on by weird fucked-up things you want to do with another consenting adult is acceptable simply because it’s hot and sexy and fun.” Okay, TMK, back to your question: antidepressants—one little pill that can relieve mental anguish and disappear a libido at the same time—can’t cure kinks but they can suppress them. I mean, think about it… If you’re not horny right now because of the antidepressants, you’re not going to be horny for the things that get you off when you are horny because you’re not horny… because the antidepressants. If you miss your libido—and if you miss all the hot and sexy and fun and fucked-up things you used to enjoy with other consenting adults— work with your doctor to find a different med that relieves your depression without tanking your libido, TMK, or a different dosage of the med you’re currently on that provides you with emotional benefits without depriving you of your libido and the kinks that come bundled with it. Follow Chingy Nea on Twitter @ TheGayChingy.

b I’M A LONGTIME reader who appreciates the candour and insight you’ve offered since, what, the 1990s! Yeesh. With that in mind, I have a piece of advice I’d like to share with your readers. I’m a 56-year-old gay man. From my 20s through my 40s, I was as sexually active as often as it was possible for me to be. I loved sex and sought/had it every chance I got. It made me feel alive! Then just as I was about to enter my 50s, I started to have erection problems. I could still come, but a spongy dick is ego-deflating. Not wanting to accept what was going on, I talked to my doctor about it. I’ve tried Levitra, Cialis, and now Viagra, as well as a host of cock rings. Not much of anything seems to help. I miss my sex life, and I miss the confidence that came with it. I didn’t expect this, nor did I plan for it. It’s a lonely feeling. That’s why I think it’s important for your readers to understand the following: have all the sex you want and that you can while you can so long as you’re not hurting anyone or putting anyone at risk! Do this as often as you want to. Don’t put those sexual fantasies on the back burner. Don’t stay in a relationship that stifles you sexually! You owe it to yourself to experience what you want to experience today. Don’t take tomorrow for granted as tomorrow might have something else in store for you. - Guy’s Hard Off Seems Terminal

screw tomorrow what you can screw today—and I’m glad you didn’t pass on any of the opportunities that came your way back when you could still “obtain and maintain” a fully erect cock. But I worry you may be passing on all the sexual opportunities that are still available to you. Even if the rock-hard erections of your youth and early middle age are gone forever, GHOST, you can still give and receive pleasure. You can suck a cock, you can get your ass fucked,

Good advice—don’t

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