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Volume 54 | Number 2721
What’s really going on inside the brains of panicked shoppers?
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The COVID-19 pandemic is causing heartache around the world as well as some strange behaviour in stores. By Charlie Smith Cover illustration by Matt Mignanelli
Loosening rules around weed has potential to inject life into Canada’s flagging, coronavirus-plagued economy.
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B.C. declares publichealth emergency due to COVID-19. Ryan Reynolds gives a million to food banks in wake of pandemic. RCMP seeks info about woman who left playground with kids. B.C. union calls for freeze on rent and mortgage payments. Granville Island Public Market remains open for grocery shopping.
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Pot perestroika can revive B.C. economy Coronavirus causes some agents to rethink strategy
by Charlie Smith
very day, there’s more awful economic news related to the novel coronavirus. Concerts are being cancelled. Professional sports leagues are on hiatus. Airlines are warning of staff layoffs. Restaurant managers are seeing more empty tables than ever before. Cultural industries and tourism have been hobbled. Universities have become ghost towns. And real estate may be in the doldrums for a while. We’ll see the impact on transportation authorities as they experience lower revenue from fares and gas taxes. This economic contraction will likely leave federal and provincial governments awash in red ink. It could even delay major infrastructure projects, like rapid-transit lines along Broadway in Vancouver and the Fraser Highway in Surrey. So why not look at cannabis as a way to address this malaise? More weed freedom could bring oodles more money into government treasuries—especially when so many British Columbians have so much more time on their hands. According to the federal 2019 National Cannabis Survey, only 29.4 percent of cannabis users relied exclusively on legal sources for their pot. Part of the reason is that the price is significantly lower on the black market, according to Statistics Canada. Another factor is B.C.’s large number of craft cannabis growers. They have their own distribution networks operating outside of the legal framework. The provincial government estimates that there are 2,500 illegal weed growers in the Kootenays in southeastern B.C. Who knows how many more people without federal licences are growing on the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island? These craft growers produce popular cultivars that aren’t available through corporate cannabis giants.
by Carlito Pablo
B.C. could go further in promoting weed freedom. Photo by Manish Pangal/Unsplash
These strains can offer tremendous relief to medicinal users. Yet more than a year after cannabis was legalized in Canada, there are still no opportunities in B.C. for farmgate cannabis sales, where consumers can sample and purchase pot directly from these craft producers. This is permitted with wine but not with weed. It has been promised but not delivered. That’s not all. Last September, the B.C. government banned any promotion of cannabis at liquor-licensed venues and events, including small gatherings. The B.C. government’s modus operandi has been to shut down the illicit market—especially if anyone has a rap sheet for illegal weed sales—rather than making a higher priority of integrating these cannabis experts into the aboveground economy. Choosing the latter route would boost tax revenues to pay for better health care, including for those who contract COVID-19. The euphemistically named “Community Safety Unit”—the government’s cannabis enforcement arm— has reportedly visited more than 250 unlicensed retailers. Its investigators have seized huge amounts of weed, edibles, concentrates, and extracts. Billy clubs rather than carrots seem to be the preferred option.
The recent provincial budget revealed that the Liquor Distribution Branch generated $10 million less income this year than was predicted in the Finance Ministry’s second quarterly report. According to the budget, it’s “mainly due to delayed rollout of cannabis stores and lowerthan-anticipated demand”. In the spring session of the legislature, NDP politicians have introduced 13 government bills. Not one loosens access to cannabis. Most galling, there’s nothing curbing local governments’ efforts to tie this industry up in red tape through zoning restrictions and by delaying building permits. Imagine how much economic activity Destinations B.C. could generate if it promoted weed tourism in the same way that it promotes wine tourism. After the COVID-19 crisis subsides, wouldn’t it be wonderful if visitors from Alberta and Saskatchewan could check out craft growing operations in the Kootenays to sample authentic B.C. bud? Here’s the root of the problem: most politicians treat cannabis like a coronavirus, a dangerous substance that must be isolated to protect the public. In light of a global pandemic, hasn’t the time come to end the moral panic once and for all? g
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February sales were also 36.9 percent higher than the number of homes sold in January, when realtors with the REBGV sold 1,571 homes. That was 42.4 percent higher than January 2019. REBGV president Ashley Smith noted that even early numbers for the month of March this year suggest a “strong direction as well”. However, with the spread of the novel coronavirus, Smith noted that something else has emerged. “Anecdotally, over the weekend, we’re hearing kind of both sides of the story,” Smith related in a phone interview with the Straight on March 17. “We’re hearing about good activity in some cases, and, again, multiple offers in some cases,” Smith continued, “and then another side has some, you know, natural response to things like this, where people are cancelling showings, cancelling open houses.” Smith said some people have turned to private showings instead of open houses. She also talked about hearing of realtors asking people who come to home showings if they have recently been out of the country, in order to make sure that they are “healthy”. “So how this will all play out, I think it’s still unknown,” Smith said. Realtor Adam Chahl’s recent experience reflects much of what Smith related. According to Chahl, his open houses got visits from serious buyers, with the scare over COVID-19 keeping out a “lot of the lookie-loos”. On the other hand, Chahl noted, he has had a couple of clients who put their plans on hold. “I think, going forward, people are going to be more cautious about who they’re letting into their homes or if they even want to do open houses,” he told the Straight by phone. g
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he housing market could be in for a rough ride because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s according to Brendon Ogmundson, chief economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association. Ogmundson stressed that it depends mainly on what’s going to happen to the economy. “What we know is that we’re going to get kind of like a sudden stop in economic activity for the next couple of months,” Ogmundson told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “So I think what we’re looking at for the B.C. economy is a couple of pretty, pretty lousy months for March, April, May, maybe extended to the summer.” But Ogmundson qualified that real estate is a “face-to-face kind of business” and it’s “hard to gauge how the impacts of people staying home may impact the housing market”. “So if we just get kind of a sharp kind of decline in the next couple months but things rebound in the second half of the year, I think that we’re going to end the year down but healthy,” Ogmundson said. However, Ogmundson said that it will be different if things get “a lot more serious”. “When the economy goes into recession, then we come across a situation where we’ll see sales decline for the year and then probably a bit of a decline in home prices as well,” he said. Based on figures so far this year supplied by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the real-estate market is trending up. According to the REBGV, home sales in this region totaled 2,150 in February 2020, which was a 44.9 percent increase from the transactions made in February 2019.
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Panic buyers feel fear, sense danger The human brain can work in mysterious ways, particularly when there’s a global pandemic
by Charlie Smith
hree days after the World Health Organization characterized the spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic, Costco’s underground parking lot in downtown Vancouver was jammed with vehicles. Just a half-hour after opening, one man could be seen emptying a huge shopping cart full of toilet paper into his trunk. A few minutes later, a seemingly endless parade of exiting customers whizzed by with more shopping buggies. They, too, were laden with monstrously large packages of toilet paper. When some were approached, their fear was palpable. They were in no mood to be interviewed. That’s because they were in too much of a hurry to reach their vehicles and get the hell out of danger. A few hours later, in a London Drugs on the West Side of the city, the toilet paper had already disappeared. Two days later, in a Safeway on West 4th Avenue, customers were being limited to one package. The pandemonium in grocery and drugstore aisles suggests that something quite unusual is going on inside people’s brains. Elisabeth Zoffmann, a retired UBC clinical associate professor of psychiatry, described the mass buying of toilet paper across North America as “the most lemminglike behaviour I’ve ever seen”. Zoffmann, who has a keen interest in the behaviour of crowds, sees parallels between this activity and how people lose their “thinking brains” in sports riots. A similar phenomenon also occurs during massive and emotional religious events in other parts of the world, where some have been crushed or killed in the bedlam. “The hysterical purchasing of masses of toilet paper defies logic,” Zoffmann told the Straight by phone from her home on Vancouver Island. “Nowhere has anybody said that the illness [COVID-19] is a diarrhea illness. It’s not marked by diarrhea. That’s the only reason why you would want toilet paper.” She added that this isn’t the only “instinctive, impulsive, and overwhelmingly irrational” act associated with the pandemic. There’s also the run on paper masks, which public-health experts have repeatedly advised people not to wear. It’s still necessary to use hands to adjust and take off the mask. And if the person’s hands aren’t clean, Zoffmann said, those wearing masks are more apt to contract the virus. “If there is a droplet spread and it stuck to your mask, one moist breath is a great medium for it to keep going into your body,” she noted. Zoffmann attributed the panic buying of hand sanitizers, masks, and canned food to evolutionary
The concourse at Costco on March 14 featured a procession of shopping carts carrying massive amounts of toilet paper.
biology. She explained that the forebrain developed long after other parts of the brain. The forebrain includes the cerebral cortex, which is associated with complex thinking and voluntary motor activities. This part of the brain is engaged when people are reading information distributed by health organizations outlining the importance of keeping a distance from others, frequent handwashing, and not touching one’s face to prevent contracting COVID-19. As the Straight went to the printer, there were 186 positive tests in B.C. The forebrain also processes comments by experts who say that about 80 percent of people who develop the disease will not get very sick. That can alleviate some of the conscious fears, though it’s worrisome that a smaller percentage become gravely ill. As of this writing, there have been 7,961 deaths in the world. The country with the highest prevalence, Italy, has 0.005 percent of the population infected. Moreover, when experts note that the vast majority of those who die are elderly, one might assume that it would also diminish the personal fears of millennials—if not their worries about friends with compromised immune systems or their parents and grandparents. Similarly, the forebrain can process broader information about the pandemic, such as the success that Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and
South Korea have demonstrated in preventing the catastrophes that have unfolded in Italy and parts of China. A negativity bias, however, leads human beings to fear the absolute worst scenario, even though COVID-19 is not affecting each country in the same way. That bias was reinforced by one particularly frightening interview.
The hysterical purchasing of masses of toilet paper defies logic. – retired psychiatrist Elisabeth Zoffmann
On Joe Rogan’s podcast, the University of Minnesota’s director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Michael Osterholm, predicted 96 million cases of COVID-19 during the next three to seven months. Osterholm also forecast 48 million hospitalizations and more than 480,000 deaths, which would be a 60fold increase over the number to date.
ZOFFMANN POINTED out that many people actually don’t use their forebrain very often. Instead, they do things without deliberating, relying instead on their intuition. “There’s a perfectly functioning brain underneath the forebrain, which immediately takes in visual, auditory, and other such clues, knits them together—makes sense of them—and, if necessary, directs an impulse of action,” she insisted. “It’s heavily influenced by other brains around it doing the same thing.” Mass behaviour isn’t uncommon in the animal kingdom. Schools of fish, flocks of birds, and herds of mammals suddenly dart in the same direction when a predator is in their midst. Zoffmann said humans don’t have to be in proximity to respond in a similar manner to perceived threats, especially when their senses are being overwhelmed, inhibiting their forebrain from functioning properly. Constant television news coverage of the pandemic, for example, can elevate stress. “You can create mobs through social media,” she emphasized. In the meantime, the mass buying of canned goods isn’t making life any easier for food banks. In Metro Vancouver, Backpack Buddies, which feeds 1,300 low-income schoolchildren on weekends, has issued a plea for people to think of their neighbours. That’s because it’s no longer able to receive the food that it has ordered.
“It’s of utmost importance to the community that we don’t lose sight of the most vulnerable and we need to keep them at the front of our minds when we’re buying on the shelf,” Backpack Buddies cofounder Emily-anne King told the Straight. “Maybe buy an extra can that you can donate somewhere.” But what accounts for the fear on the faces of some panic buyers leaving the Costco store in Vancouver? One of the world’s leading authorities on the neuroscience of fear is Joseph LeDoux, the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at NYU and the author of several books, including The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains. When contacted by phone in Callicoon, New York, LeDoux confessed that, just like everyone else, he’s “scared shitless” by the novel coronavirus. That’s due in part to his age: he’s 70 years old, elevating his risk of mortality were he to contract COVID-19. For almost 40 years, he’s been studying the amygdala, an almondshaped part of the brain where neural activity increases in response to threats. That, in turn, leads to body responses, such as an increased heart rate. He explained that this occurs beneath the level of consciousness. “The amygdala is not a fear centre,” LeDoux said. “It’s a system in the brain that detects and responds to danger. But fear is our awareness that we’re in danger.” In a 2016 paper, “Using Neuroscience to Help Understand Fear and Anxiety: A Two-System Framework”, LeDoux and Daniel Pine maintained that “research on threat processing has not led to significant improvements in clinical practice.” They used the term fear to describe feelings that occur when a threat is perceived to be immediate or imminent, such as with the novel coronavirus. Anxiety was defined to describe feelings “when the source of harm is uncertain or is distal in space or time”. In the paper, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, LeDoux and Pine argued that there is little understanding of the “twosystem framework”. On the one hand, they stated that there are behavioural responses and accompanying physiological changes in the body, which largely occur unconsciously. Then there are conscious, self-reported states of fear and anxiety. “You have these prefrontal circuits,” LeDoux said. “They are able to conceptualize that you are in danger. The harm is going to happen to you. If you don’t know the snake is going to bite you, then you’re not afraid. see next page
MARCH 19 – 26 / 2020 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 7
CHFCA helps bring zero-emission hydrogen vehicles to Modo’s fleet (This story is sponsored by the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.)
he reasons to carshare with Modo are abundant—it’s convenient, affordable, and has recently become even more sustainable. The B.C.-based co-op has not only helped fill some of the gaps left behind by car2go’s departure, but the member-owned cooperative has also been busy building an eco-friendly fleet. Modo has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by partnering with the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA). With assistance from the CHFCA and Hyundai Auto Canada, Modo has welcomed two Hyundai NEXO fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to its fleet, making it the first carshare in North America to offer a hydrogen option to members. These zeroemission cars are a step in the right direction when it comes to combatting climate change. Opting to share a vehicle is already a more sustainable mode of transportation compared to private car ownership, with Modo’s round-trip service proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 percent. But add to that zero-emission vehicles like the NEXO and the benefit is even greater. This sleek hydrogen fuel cell vehicle emits only water vapour, while not compromising style, comfort, or performance. The NEXO even purifies the air as members drive—so you can feel even better about using a shared vehicle when your bike or the bus just won’t do. “Sustainability and the environment are high on Modo’s list of from previous page
Fear has to be that involvement of you as part of the experience.” This is, in fact, a reflective awareness of oneself, something that retired University of Toronto cognitive neuroscientist Endel Tulving called autonoetic consciousness. That involves a higher level of brain calculation. “It’s not just the past and the future but your personal past and your personal future,” LeDoux said. “That’s a very complicated thing.” His research builds on that of 19thcentury English naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin, who pointed out that humans inherited ancient
These zero-emission, hydrogen-powered Hyundai NEXOs are part of Modo’s carshare fleet, which also includes electric cars.
strategic priorities,” says Kathrin Kilburn, marketing and communications manager at Modo. “We see our purpose as creating healthier, more livable communities.” Modo’s 23-year commitment to providing an affordable and convenient alternative to private vehicle ownership has paid off, with roughly one-third of its members shedding their own car since joining. Independent research concludes that for every Modo vehicle added to a community, nine to 13 personal cars are removed from the road. “Currently one in five vehicles in Modo’s fleet is hybrid, electric or hydrogen,” says Kilburn. “But vehicles are only part of the solution. We are collaborating with our municipal partners to address much needed EV charging infrastructure, and with the CHFCA, which is leading the way on hydrogen refueling stations.” systems from animals. LeDoux and Darwin part ways, however, over Darwin’s conclusion that because an animal and a human being behave in a similar way, they must share the same feelings. Darwin’s viewpoint has contributed to others concluding that the ancient brain circuit makes people feel fear and drives the response. But LeDoux said that this overlooks the role of conscious experiences, including working memory, which holds diverse pieces of information. “Bacteria don’t have any fear when they detect and respond to danger,” LeDoux declared.
The association focuses on promoting the adoption of innovative hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and advocating for more hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to support FCEV roll-out. Its work has already led to the opening of Canada’s first two public hydrogen refueling stations in British Columbia and four more on the horizon. “The CHFCA’s ambition is to pave the way for a clean, low-carbonintensity hydrogen production facility here in the Lower Mainland,” says Mark Kirby, president and chief executive officer at the CHFCA. “In addition to supplying the retail stations, it will provide hydrogen to decarbonize our residential and commercial heating systems, our local industries as well as supplying fuel for clean hydrogen buses, commuter trains, trucks, ferries, and even aviation.” There’s growing awareness of
If you don’t know the snake is going to bite you, then you’re not afraid. – neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux
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vcc.ca/ut 8 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT MARCH 19 – 26 / 2020
conventional electric vehicles among consumers, yet surprisingly, little has been shared about their innovative hydrogen counterparts. Like the fact that hydrogen is the most abundant element in our universe, and the simplest element—with only one proton and one electron—hydrogen has no harmful carbon atoms and offers two to three times more energy than any fuel in use today. Add to that the fact that hydrogen’s unique characteristics make it one of the safest energy sources when compared to flammable fuels such as gasoline, diesel, or natural gas—the potential uses for this fuel source seems limitless. But understandably, Modo’s Kilburn acknowledges that new technologies often come with a certain amount of apprehension and notes that her team is helping mitigate this by ramping up member education and awareness. “When it comes to “They’re just protecting themselves and surviving. The same thing with our amygdala. It allows us to detect danger and to stay alive. But fear is a much more recent thing in our brain.” That leads to the obvious question: why are so many people loading up on toilet paper? “I don’t mean this in a dismissive or demeaning way, but it’s all in your head,” LeDoux said with a chuckle. “It’s how we understand what’s going on.” Moreover, he said, a sense of peril can be generated top-down from the conscious mind. “Once that thought is there, we’re running with it. That stuff fills your mind and you can’t get it out. It’s contagious. Fear is very contagious between people.” LeDoux and Pine aren’t the only researchers to advance a two-system framework for understanding how the human mind functions. Princeton University professor emeritus and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman has long maintained that there are two modes of thinking, which he describes as “system one” and “system two”. In his 2011 bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman described system one as “intuitive”, performing automatic activities. System two is deliberative and involves the exertion of effort, which can be impaired when there are too many stimuli. People who develop a great deal of expertise in a subject, such as practising anesthesiology or playing chess, develop intuitive responses to a set of circumstances, based on past feedback. Things that might involve deliberative thought for most of the population become effortless and automatic for them. The same can be said of driving. Over time, a motorist learns intuitive responses to situations that would cause a novice to respond with a great deal of deliberative thought. In a videotaped message to Google employees on YouTube, Kahneman noted that there are certain situations, like turning left into traffic,
hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technology, I think there’s a misconception that it’s complicated,” says Kilburn. “Which is why we’ve put considerable effort into member education around the new technology, how it works, what to expect, and how to refuel.” In addition to being surprisingly easy to operate, the vehicles are also a dream to drive. Modo members who’ve booked the NEXO are excited to make the switch from gas combustion engines, and have only positive feedback to share. Long-time member William Azaroff had this to say: “The hydrogen-powered NEXO left me feeling like I was driving in the future. It is so quiet and smooth, totally comfortable, and has every amenity I can think of, including a convenient self-parking feature. It’s now my new favourite Modo and book it first where I can.” Booking this futuristic vehicle with Modo is as low as $6 per hour, including fuel, insurance, and loads of free parking—only $2 per hour more than their regular vehicles. Spending the extra toonie is worth it—you will find peace of mind knowing that you are helping curb the impending climate crisis and you’ll look cool while doing it. g Modo members who have not yet booked the NEXO will get $30 off their NEXO booking before May 31, 2020, compliments of the CHFCA. If you’re not already a Modo member, to join today with the promo code NEXO50 for $50 in free drive time on any one of Modo’s 700 plus vehicles. To learn more about clean energy visit the CHFCA website. For updates, follow Modo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux says fear is contagious. Photo by Diemut Strebe
that should never be done intuitively. One of the drawbacks of intuition, Kahneman says in the video, is that people’s conclusions in system one are not necessarily true. They are also often confident in judgments that are not necessarily true. “Subjective confidence, which is closely related to the probability of being correct, is actually not a judgment at all,” Kahneman says. “It is a feeling.” But if the mind constructs a coherent story, he adds, confidence remains high. “Now, this is disastrous in some ways because you can make a very coherent story out of very little information and out of information that is not reliable.” Like emptying store shelves of toilet paper because of a pandemic that will not give people the runs and has so far infected a very small percentage of Canadians. Retired psychiatrist Elisabeth Zoffmann said that Kahneman’s book encapsulates her ideas about the biological basis of mass behaviour by human beings. “I’ve always said it should be required reading for anybody who can read,” she said. “It is a biological reality that we have a new brain that has the capacity to stop and think. But mostly what it does is play catch-up to the instant decisions made by the older brain.” g
MARCH 19 TO 25, 2020
by Rose Marcus
hat do the stars say about the pandemic and when it will be over? Dear friends, in one form or another, COVID-19 will continue for some time to come. This is especially so while planetary transits move through Pisces, the sign that rules the immune system, the masses, and global exposure. Mercury, a transmitter influence, continues its tour of Pisces to April 10. Mercury is also the ruler of Gemini, the sign that rules the lungs and respiratory system. The peak is happening right now. I consider the recent super full moon in Virgo (March 9) as the launch of the full-scale outbreak. We’ll be in the thick of it until the next super full moon, which arrives on April 10 (in Libra). Having said that, can we flatten the curve? Yes, we can. Border closures, government measures, and businesses shutting down all fall under the rulership of Capricorn. Self-isolation, a measure that came into wider adoption while Mercury toured Aquarius earlier in the month, will begin to show its benefit soon enough. The spring equinox happens on Thursday (8:50 p.m. PDT). The sun’s entrance into Aries is immediately followed by a domino of action transits: Mars in Capricorn conjunct Jupiter on Friday; Saturn into Aquarius on Saturday; Mars conjunct Pluto in Capricorn on Sunday; and a new moon in (Marsruled) Aries on Tuesday. In combination, these transits can prove to be chain-breaker influences. (Either that or they’ll produce a next hard hit!) While the prospects are good for an upswing of progress, know that Saturn in Aquarius, a cementing influence, now provides an introduction to the shape of things to come—that of a radically altered world reality. This is a test run. COVID-19 is but one threat to our existence. Stringent climatechange action is absolutely essential.
March 20–April 20
You’ll gain an energy boost from Mars in action with Jupiter on Friday and Pluto on Sunday. Mars is also on a two-year wrap-up and starting the next two-year build-itbetter agenda. The equinox (Thursday), the new moon in Aries (next Tuesday), and Saturn in Aquarius (starting Saturday) put better timing on your side for reconnecting and seeing or making improvement.
April 20–May 21
Finishing off something official or long in the works? Whether you have something actual to pin it on or it is an evolving consciousness, Mars/Jupiter and Mars/Pluto place you at the end of a two-year growth cycle and at the start of a new reality base line. Giving you a jump-start or preview, Saturn in Aquarius supports a significant lifestyle change or new career trajectory.
May 21–June 21
A big decision or plan weighing on you? Now through new-moon Tuesday could bring matters into sharper view and/or settle it for you. To Sunday, Mars is on a big push. Take advantage of time and opportunity. Tackle it head-on; stay practical on the important stuff. Through mid–next week, you can get the job done and move on in short order.
June 21–July 22
You have no choice but to stay ambitious and to go at it harder. Mars is on a major push through for the weekend. Sunday/Monday, the going is good. Tuesday’s new moon in Aries can light a fresh fuse or kick it up a notch. While added strain or challenge is in the mix, know you stand poised on the brink of a major breakthrough.
July 22–August 23
Work, school, or COVID-19
may have scheduled you for time off, but Mars in Capricorn wants you/ pushes you to keep going strong. Stay ambitious. Don’t waste your time; use it, instead. Finish off what you can. Starting Saturday, Saturn enters Aquarius. Through July, Saturn will introduce the lifestyle changes and social norms that will progressively overtake your/our everyday reality.
August 23–September 23
As of Thursday/Friday, Mars/ Jupiter gets you/it moving in the right direction. Through Sunday/Monday, Mars/Pluto keeps you resourceful. Mars will continue to provide good traction through to the end of the month. Through the start of July, Saturn in Aquarius prompts out-of-thebox thinking. Regarding work, health, and working it out, the transit can help you to discover better solutions and avenues. September 23–October 23
Through next Tuesday keeps it/you in full swing. On lockdown or simply carrying on, you’ll have no trouble putting your extra time to good use this weekend. Saturday/ Sunday, there’s no better place to be than right where you are. Monday to Wednesday, tackle it fresh. Over the next couple of months, Saturn in Aquarius will assist you to break important new ground. October 23–November 22
Friday, do the extra to keep yourself well-protected, on track, and/or up to speed. The weekend is well spent on rest and catch-up, to finish off or to get better organized. Sunday/Monday, the flow is good. Freshly into Aquarius, Saturn will spend the next couple of months helping you to break through whatever is standing in the way of personal progress and/ or necessary reinvention.
November 22–December 21
Go the extra mile and give it the time it needs. The job will get done right and you’ll also set yourself up for greater reward and personal benefit. Sunday, you can get lost in it. Time evaporates. Monday continues the good flow. Now and in coming months, Saturn in Aquarius will stimulate fresh insights, ideas, avenues, and conversations. Tuesday/Wednesday, dive into something fresh.
December 21–January 20
Despite the limitations you may face, Thursday/Friday’s Mars/Jupiter sets you/it on go. Will into action; you are a powerhouse when you want to be. Mars/Pluto keeps motivation going strong through the start of next week. Saturn in Aquarius is good for a personal breakthrough, creative solution, and outside-of-the-box thinking. Sunday/Monday, go with the flow.
January 20–February 18
Top Chef Stowe talks food and memory
by Gail Johnson
s executive director of culinary for JOEY Restaurants, chef Matthew Stowe is charged with coming up with dishes that will satisfy diners from Kelowna to Toronto to L.A. The Surrey native studied at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, then worked at Lutèce, a French restaurant in NYC, before returning to B.C. His CV includes positions at Sonora Resort, Cactus Club Cafe, and Joseph Richards Group; another key highlight was competing on Top Chef Canada in 2012, beating out 16 competitors from across the country to win. Having just introduced new menu items to celebrate the launch of the company’s flagship location in North Vancouver, JOEY Shipyards, Stowe took some time to chat foodstuffs with the Straight. GOING WAAAY BACK, WHERE DID YOUR INTEREST IN COOKING COME FROM?
My mother was a great cook. I am the oldest of six, so she cooked for eight people every night. I remember her roasting whole ducks, making curries, doing roast beef dinners with Yorkshire pudding. Dinner was a big deal in our house, and seeing the look in my family’s eyes as dinner landed on the table gave me a lot of joy. I definitely saw at an early age how food can bring people together. WHAT IS IT ABOUT COOKING THAT YOU LOVE?
I love the fact that when people go to a restaurant, they are trusting you with a memory. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or important business meeting, it’s something that they will remember. Being able to cook and be a part of that, especially when you may not even know the person, to me is very cool.
Book a reading or sign up for Rose’s free monthly newsletter at rosemarcus.com/.
moment are top secret! Some new additions to our menu that I can tell you about are our ceviche [Japanesestyle, with prawns, lightly marinated salmon, soy yuzu dressing, mango, and serrano chili]. It’s light, fresh, and I love the flavour of yuzu. It’s definitely something I could eat every day. Our new oven-roasted wild Pacific cod is great as well. It has a delicious aromatic curry broth, coconut rice, snap peas, and cauliflower.
have a different climate and customer base, which we take into consideration. Our locations in Seattle are more similar to Vancouver. As we move across the USA, cultural influences and portion size are things we will need to take into consideration as well. What we may consider a ceviche here on the West Coast might be very different than what someone from Miami might look for, as an example.
DO YOU NOTICE DIFFERENCES IN WHAT VANCOUVER DINERS WANT COMPARED TO THOSE IN OTHER CITIES LIKE WINNIPEG OR SEATTLE?
WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, YOU’RE…?
There are definitely some geographical influences. I notice it more down in the U.S. than in Canada. We have two restaurants in California, for example, that obviously
My wife, Amber, and I spend most of our time driving our two boys, Gavin and Benjamin, to sports. They play hockey, soccer, and baseball, so it keeps us on our toes! It’s fun, though. I played lots of sports growing up, so I’m getting a taste of what my parents went through. g
WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE ON TOP CHEF CANADA?
My biggest takeaway is having relationships with chefs from across this country. I had never been to Toronto before going on the show. I didn’t know any chefs from Newfoundland or Montreal. It was a great networking opportunity, and it was amazing how close you became after a short period of time together. The final four of us (John Goodyear, Danny Smiles, Dennis Tay, and I) had been through a lot and we grew pretty close during that time. Sharing bunk beds also helped, ha! ANY LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS ABOUT TOP CHEF CANADA YOU CAN SHARE?
When I arrived in Toronto, the first thing they did was take away my phone, wallet, identification, everything! We were completely secluded from the outside world. We were allowed to call home, usually once a week, but they would monitor the phone calls. We weren’t allowed to have any books or recipes. Everything had to be in your head. I was given a notebook after I unpacked. After I met everyone, I went back to my room, sat on my bed, and wrote down a bunch of pastry ratios, simple recipes, and stuff like that. I was able to bring that notebook into each challenge. I still have it seven years later.
Whether you need to selfisolate or not, Mars/Jupiter and Mars/ Pluto will keep you going strong this weekend. Take it one step at a time and watch for potentials to prove themselves. Giving you a heads up through July 1, Saturn in Aquarius will introduce you to a timely change WHY JOEY? or necessitate the undertaking. Our aggressive USA expansion I PISCES thought was exciting, and I loved the February 18–March 20 idea of working on multiple brands. Stay goal-oriented. Friday I like being able to work on a globally through the weekend, Mars/Jupi- inspired menu because it means I ter and Mars/Pluto help you make can cook whatever flavour profile a good turnaround and/or get more I want! There are no limitations or than the usual sorted out and accom- restrictions. We have an exciting plished. Sunday is easygoing. Soak up year coming up with new locations on the good stuff. Your creativity is in Manhattan Beach, Houston, and at peak. Saturn in Aquarius stirs up Miami. It’s a very exciting time, with fresh incentive. Tuesday/Wednesday, lots of new dishes on the horizon. take on something fresh. g
As executive director of culinary for the JOEY restaurant chain, stretching from Vancouver to Miami, Matthew Stowe needs to take local tastes into account.
WHAT NEW DISHES ARE YOU ESPECIALLY EXCITED ABOUT?
The dishes I’m working on at the
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3195 OAK Street, Vancouver | 604.880.9156 MARCH 19 – 26 / 2020 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 9
Keep calm and carry on supporting arts by Janet Smith
After a B.C. health advisory banning gatherings of 50 people, clockwise from left, the Vancouver Art Gallery joined area museums this week in shutting its doors. Another Brick in the Wall was supposed to be Vancouver Opera’s big hit of the entire season (photo by Yves Renaud), and DanceHouse had to cancel the historic visit by Spanish flamenco superstar Rocío Molina and her Caída del Cielo.
n times of crisis and overwhelming anxiety, art has been what has helped us through. Sometimes that’s by taking issues head-on, as mezzo Joyce DiDonato did with a transcendent Vancouver Recital Society performance of “Lascia ch’io pianga”, in which she reflected on the Paris attacks, or Alannah Mitchell’s use of a simple chalkboard to synthesize the meaning of the death of our oceans in Sea Sick at the PuSh festival. Sometimes it’s by offering an escape, whether that’s through a dazzling production of The Marriage of Figaro, or seeing Takashi Murakami’s kaleidoscopic pandas and jellyfish at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Now, paradoxically, we are faced with a situation that threatens to torpedo those rituals on a large scale. As Leila Getz, founder and artistic director of the Vancouver Recital Society, puts it: “What we do and what everybody in the performing arts does is bring people together for a collective experience. And now we’re doing the opposite.” Suddenly, thanks to worldwide concerns about COVID-19 and the way it might be spread through public gatherings, arts groups are having to ask people to stay at home for a while. The effect on the thriving local scene, at this point in the season, could be devastating. On Monday, B.C. health officials put the stop to any public gatherings of more than 50 people. That was the final blow to the smaller companies holding shows of under 250 seats that had persevered through the weekend. The fallout includes Mine at the Cultch and Trans Scripts Part I: The Women at the Firehall Arts Centre; the Vancouver Art Gallery and Museum of Anthropology have now also shut down until further notice. Having to axe shows that have been in the works for months or years, companies big and small are making a humble plea to those who are able to donate the price of their ticket for a tax receipt. And they’ll be looking for help in the coming months—whether that’s by way of volunteer hours or fans investing in subscriptions for 2020-21.
We’ll get through this now and carry on afterwards if our public comes back strong—that’s the way we’ll regain our strength. – Leila Getz, Vancouver Recital Society
“We will need the support of our patrons—and kindness, whatever form it takes, from the community,” said Carole Higgins, artistic director of Carousel Theatre for Young People, which has just cancelled the run of its The House at Pooh Corner. “This is a time for the community to reflect about what is important to us, because this is… Wow.” Higgins’s account of the shutdown gives you some indication of the emotional side behind the economics of the situation. “I called all our actors in last night and we all just sat on the stage together hugging the puppets and saying goodbye to this beautiful show they created,” she recounts. QUANTIFYING THE COSTS at this stage is a bit more difficult. To give some indication, Carousel expects to lose somewhere near $80,000 from cancelling the remainder of Pooh’s run. The effects will be greater at big companies paying touring artists. For her part, Getz felt it was important to offer British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor the fee for his efforts this week, which included flying from Germany to Santa Barbara before coming to Vancouver on Sunday, only to find out all his North American dates were off. “We’re hemorrhaging money by giving refunds,” explained Getz. “We don’t have enough inventory in the rest of the season to offer people the opportunity to come to a future concert.” The fallout from the B.C. health advisory banning gatherings of more than 50 people has sent shock waves through the arts community, and the
10 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT MARCH 19 – 26 / 2020
trouble continues with cancellation after cancellation. The mass-gathering ban could be devastating for Vancouver Opera, which stages one of the most expensive art forms and has gone through upheaval and format changes in an attempt to build new audiences in the past few years. Another Brick in the Wall was the organization’s hugely anticipated show of the season, and now it’s cancelled, along with the entire upcoming Vancouver Opera Festival. For just a hint at the financial hit, consider that good seats for the show at the spacious Queen Elizabeth Theatre were running from $116.75 to $186.75 each. VO interim general director Tom Wright issued this statement to the Straight: “At this time we are looking at all available options through government agencies but have no other information to provide. As we communicate with our patrons regarding show cancellations we hope many will donate their tickets to the organization in exchange for a charitable tax receipt to continue to support the organization.” For its part, Early Music Vancouver has just been forced to shut down the rest of its 50th-anniversary season. In his announcement, executive and artistic director Matthew White also made a plea for people to donate the price of their ticket for a tax receipt. “This generous gesture will help us weather this crisis and support the gifted artists that make our lives so much richer. As I have often said, the musicians who grace
our stages could have chosen to do many other things with their extraordinary intelligence, discipline, and commitment. Instead, they have committed their lives to the creation of beauty. In many cases, they have done so at the cost of financial stability and other professional benefits that many of us take for granted. In fact, they are among our most generous and important donors.” DanceHouse has just announced the cancellation of two major shows, Montreal’s RUBBERBAND dance troupe and what was destined to be a historic appearance by renegade Spanish flamenco megastar Rocío Molina. Earlier this week, the Straight talked to Molina in Seville just minutes after she had heard all American dates had been cancelled due to Trump’s travel ban. Around her, Spain was shutting down too, and, like any artist, the rising star was worried about the massive implications. The impact on managers, tech people, and everyone behind the scenes will be just as devastating. Meanwhile, the Arts Club announced the cancellation of at least two shows, including the postponement of the much-anticipated Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave, saying, “It is imperative that we act on the advice of government officials, public health authorities, and medical professionals. Of course, the impact of lost performances on the Arts Club, a not-for-profit theatre company, is enormous. These cancellations affect all the artists and staff, both on- and off-stage, who bring our shows to life. However, the safety of our patrons, our staff, and our artists remains our top priority.” Amid all the aftermath: the cancellation of the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival, the Sonic Boom music festival, Gateway Theatre and Ruby Slippers’ From Alaska, Studio 58’s FourPlay, and UBC Theatre and Film’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. STILL, AGAINST THE odds, there is hope to be found. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra raised spirits by live-streaming Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Pastorale”
symphony from the Orpheum on March 15, the final concert in this month’s BeethovenFest. “As we begin to come to terms with the immense impact this will have on our sector we are committed to identifying creative solutions. Music and the arts are the heart of our community. We are facing unprecedented times and we need music now more than ever,” the company said when it announced the broadcast. “It’s precisely in times of crisis that the human spirit is compelled to come together. The word Symphony in fact means coming together.” There were also hints that some shows could reemerge later this year, or whenever the world returns to its axis again. On March 16, Urban Ink made the difficult decision to postpone but not pull the plug on SEDNA, a massive new Inuktitut musical that features huge lantern puppets. Created by Corey Payette, Reneltta Arluk, and Marshall McMahen, it was scheduled to run from April 22 to May 10 at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. The Vancouver Recital Society’s Getz feels like her organization can weather the storm. She hopes, for instance, that pianist András Schiff will reschedule his monumental recital of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations. “I have to see it before I die,” she quipped. Getz’s biggest concern is that subscription sales for next year will fall off amid all the fear and distraction. Now, more than ever, is the time to support our beleaguered arts organizations. “We have to weather this— we have too much wonderful music we have to book into the future,” she says. “We’ll get through this now and carry on afterwards if our public comes back strong—that’s the way we’ll regain our strength.” Higgins, too, has been seeing a bright side to the situation. Along with donated tickets, she says she’s getting more unsolicited testimonials about Carousel than ever before. “One said what we do made them far richer than any refund could do,” she said. “It’s interesting,” she observed, “because in this the whole thing is social distancing. But the natural inclination is to come together.” g
Trans Scripts ends up an act of resilience THEATRE
TRANS SCRIPTS, PART I: THE WOMEN
By Paul Lucas. Directed by Fay Nass and Cameron Mackenzie. A Frank Theatre and Zee Zee Theatre production. At the Firehall Arts Centre on Friday, March 13. No remaining performances
REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.
By Alice Birch. Directed by Sloan Thompson. A Department of Theatre and Film at UBC production. At the Frederic Wood Theatre on Thursday, March 12. No remaining performances
d WHAT IS IT like for a woman living in a capitalist patriarchy? In the experimental work Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., playwright Alice Birch creates various scenarios in which women confront the imbalances in their lives and challenge the status quo with their need for autonomy. With a progression that becomes increasingly radical in form and content over four acts and 13 vignettes, the play reaches a crescendo of revolution, rising up against systemic inequity. The play begins with a dialogue between a man and woman (David Volpov and Ava Maria Safai) over sexual primacy, exploring the inversion of expectations as she takes control of his seduction.
Next, another couple (Pamela Carolina Martinez and Aidan LeBlanc) meditate on the concept of marriage after a botched proposal. In other segments, a woman and her employer (Shannon Poole and Drew Ogle) joust over work obligations; a shopper (Hana Cripton-Inglis) strips naked in a supermarket aisle after a sexual assault; and a woman and her daughter (Laura Grace Reynolds and Holly Collis Handford) accost the woman’s mother (Charmaine Sibanda) about her absence in their lives. Although these are stand-alone stories, Birch’s play is a bricolage of related themes that link said narratives together around the notion of misunderstanding. In an early vignette, both man and woman misinterpret the other’s essence, as the former concocts a rigid fantasy of her and the latter skims his mere persona, neither fully representative of who they are. Likewise, fundamental differences in the perception of social order distress those in later plots, from the
value of marriage to the negotiation of workplace well-being. In many of these segments, capitalist tendencies are conflated with stability, which enforces repression, as in the case of the violated shopper, whose presence in protest is gauged only so far as her inconvenience to other consumers. Director Sloan Thompson teases out the systemic quality of these encounters through the contributions of scenic designer Emily Dotson and costume designer Sherry Yang. Dotson’s imposing, cubelike structures are grey, nondescript, institutional. While it’s not flawlessly executed, as transitions between stories appear more laboured than necessary, Thompson by and large delivers a staging of Birch’s bare-knuckle piece with an attentiveness to its import, steering actors into a deliberate discomfort that connotes an abrasive reality. By its penultimate act, it is clear that Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is not a euphonic integration of ideals, but the cacophonous stirring emblematic of vital social movements. by Danny Kai Mak
MARCH 6 –28
2020VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL DANCEFESTIVAL
by Janet Smith
d THE AIR OF DOOM surging outside the Firehall on Friday night gave extra and profound meaning to an already moving performance going on inside the 150-seat arts centre. Before Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women, codirector Cameron Mackenzie acknowledged a valiant show-must-go-on effort by saying, “We made it!” Then someone from the audience yelled, “We survived AIDS! This shitty little virus isn’t going to get us!” Sadly, it may have—indirectly, at least, with word that B.C. health officials now want all venues that hold more than 50 people shuttered. (You can watch a recorded performance of the show through Zee Zee Theatre’s social-media channels at 8 p.m. on Saturday night [March 21].) Still, on a Friday the 13th of travel alerts and social-distancing measures, Trans Scripts, Part I felt—all too fittingly— like an act of resilience. A diverse cast of seven trans or gender-nonconforming performers gave voice to Paul Lucas’s verbatim play, culled from more than 70 interviews with trans women worldwide. And what made the work resonate was that the actors here clearly brought their own experiences and emotions to the stories being told. Lucas knows that it’s the specific details of each story that speak the
loudest. When Eden (Amy Fox) recounts the meaning, even at 42 years of age, of her mum buying her an icecream cone after years of separation, it’s devastating. The beauty of Trans Scripts’ curated accounts is the way they capture diversity—from a gynecologist in her 60s to a young, politically active sex worker to someone forced to work in her dad’s auto-repair business. The approach offers a range of experience over generations. One person is told to get married and have kids to solve the problem (“It ruined both our lives”), another former boy’s mother admonishes him with “Everybody’s going to blame me if you don’t behave right.” The voices here are refreshingly frank and bitingly funny. For those who don’t have trans friends, it’s an education—on stealing hormoneboosting birth-control pills, on genital scarring, on illicit silicone-pump parties, and on what it’s like to drive a car in high heels for the first time. The women don’t agree on every topic, but that’s the point: some can’t afford or don’t want sex-reassignment surgery. Perhaps the most amazing thing is the way the performers—almost all of them nonactors—owned the stories they told. They included activist, and surprisingly natural presence, Morgane Oger, who appeared as a funny and brutally honest British-Australian gynecologist who transitions late in life. And mental-health worker Carolynn Dimmer played an Aussie who skydives and hunts (“I’m about as feminine as Jabba the Hut”). By the time the show ended, they felt like friends, confidantes, and probably the bravest people you’ve ever met. And not just because they chose to leave the house last Friday.
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We regret to inform you that the City of Vancouver is shutting down all of our venues for at least the next two weeks to help mitigate the COVIDF-19 crisis so we are postponing all of our shows and classes until further notice. Patrons with ticket reservations for cancelled shows have the choice of getting refunds or supporting the VIDF by giving a donation for the value of the returned ticket(s) and receiving a tax-deductible receipt. Please email email@example.com or call our box office number 604-662-4966 to request your refund or tax receipt. We thank you for your support of the VIDF and trust that we will see you again when when this pandemic is over.
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MARCH 19 – 26 / 2020 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 11
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In response to concerns around COVID-19, The Cinematheque has made the extraordinary but necessary decision to close the theatre and cancel upcoming screenings through to and including April 15. The safety of our patrons and our wider community are our top priority at this time. Up-to-date information will be available online at thecinematheque.ca Film still: Tokyo Twilight (䩚Ղุᜋ , 1957
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Work by two of the Burrard Arts Foundation’s resident artists: at left, Cara Guri’s startlingly realistic oil-on-panel Looking Glass; at right, Sandeep Johal’s pigment-on-paper Beast Study. The pair was named along with six other emerging talents.
he Burrard Arts Foundation has announced the list of emerging artists who have won a place in its annual residency program. Eight talents will take turns in the two 12-by-12-foot studios over the course of four 10-week season-based sessions in the coming year at the foundation’s False Creek Flats location. A gallery exhibition is the culmination of the residency, although it is now on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The residency is seeing increased demand in a city where artists’ space is disappearing because of the development boom. BAF also provides an artist’s fee and a budget for materials. The residents for 2021 are photo artist Jackie Dives, illustrator and tattoo artist Katie So, hyperreal painter Cara Guri, abstract-experimental painter Russna Kaur, digitalmedia artist Michael Edward Miller, multidisciplinary artist Eli Muro, media artist Annie Briard, and Sandeep Johal, who’s known for works ranging from murals to drawings. Genevieve Michaels, BAF program manager, told the Straight that common themes in the work selected
this year include identity and mental health. “This year our roster has been more painting-focused than in the past, which is pretty exciting,” she added.
There seems to be a confluence that just comes from working side by side. – Genevieve Michaels
Michaels said the dual-studio system allows for interaction and inspiration between the pair of artists assigned to the spaces each season. “In my experience there seems to be a confluence that just comes from working side by side,” she said. “In the past, they’ve been incredibly prolific.” BAF has also announced the commission of five artists to create instal-
lations in the Garage, the gallery’s street-facing exhibition space at the foundation’s headquarters at 258 East 1st Avenue. They are Caitlin Almond, Olivia di Liberto, Haley Bassett, Josephine Lee, and Pippa Lattey. The Garage work, programmed through an open call, is viewable 24/7 from the street, and is meant as an entry point into BAF’s programming for artists who are earlier in their careers than those in the residency. Along with its studio and residency space, BAF runs high-profile publicart projects in the city. The biggest is the biennial Façade Festival, when the foundation commissions 10 local artists to produce projection-mapped video artworks screened over the entire northern façade of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Through both the public art and the residencies, the foundation’s aim is to boost the accessibility of art and foster the creativity of emerging artists. BAF moved into its purpose-built space in late 2018, after operating for five years in Mount Pleasant. The new location doubled the capacity of its residency program and added the Garage exhibition space. g
Binge viewing: it’s your citizen’s duty
by Adrian Mack
12 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT MARCH 19 – 26 / 2020
he world has hit the pause button, meaning it’s time to grab the remote and press play. Stock the pantry with peanut M & Ms and other immuneboosting foods and sit back: here’s what’s coming to the streaming platform of your choice in the next couple of weeks. Rather thoughtfully, March has already provided an endless array of shiny new releases, with Netflix offering the Mark Wahlberg–Winston Duke action-comedy Spenser Confidential and veteran documentarian Alex Gibney’s takedown of Jared Kushner in Season 2 of Dirty Money. Thursday (March 19) sees the arrival of Altered Carbon: Resleeved, with the third seasons of both Black Lightning and Ozark following a little down the line, on March 26 and 27. Hang in a few days longer for two of the most enduring goofball comedies in recent memory, Step Brothers and Pineapple Express (both March 31). Things are already swinging over at HBO Canada/ Crave with the much anticipated third season of Westworld sucking up most of this week’s attention. But don’t miss out on The Plot Against America, which debuted on March 16. Based on the Philip Roth novel, this six-parter takes a Man in the High Castle approach to U.S. history, imagining what fascism would look like under President Charles Lindbergh. Winona Ryder and Zoe Kazan star, with Wire creator David Simon producing. Crave-wise, the rest of the month includes Friday’s debut of The Dead Don’t Die. The film was met with puzzled indifference on its theatrical release in 2019, but that’s because people expected a zombie movie, not a Jim Jarmusch zombie movie, which is a very different thing. Bill Murray and Adam Driver star—laconically. Canadian PM William Lyon Mackenzie King is a chronic masturbator with incestuous feelings for Mother in The Twentieth Century (March 26), one of the most artfully twisted Canadian films we’ve seen since Guy Maddin was running the show. And hippie 9/11 (a.k.a. the Manson killings) gets a rethink when Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood finally hits the small screen on March 27. Stick with Crave for the four-part Unabomber: In His Own Words (April 3), which uses writer Theresa Kintz’s extensive taped interviews with Ted Kaczynski for its insights into the killer. (Hear his glib chuckle when he describes “trying not to get blown up”.) Even more astounding is actual audio of the Harvard/CIA depatterning experiments
“Get used to it, Rick, you’re a TV actor now.” Coming to HBO Canada/Crave this month: Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood.
that a 16-year-old Kaczynski volunteered for. Amazon Prime opened the month with Todd Haynes’s glorious Carol (2015). Less auspicious (but still fun) are recent adds, including 2019’s Child’s Play remake (with Aubrey Plaza and Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky) and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot—courtesy of newly anointed Vancouver Film School creative ambassador and Rio Theatre fan Kevin Smith. Renée Zellweger’s Oscar-winning turn as Judy comes to the streaming service on March 27. Finally, if all you have is a laptop and wi-fi, a deep dive on YouTube can yield all kinds of public-domain pleasures. The channel Flick Vault offers hundreds of intriguing titles in HD, mostly with a Brit bent, including Alan Clarke’s classic 1979 juvie drama Scum, Derek Jarman’s wild take on The Tempest from the same year, and Norman J. Warren’s deliriously stupid Alien rip-off, Inseminoid (1981). The latter stars onetime ’60s starlet Judy Geeson as a space-station worker impregnated by one of the worst-looking special effects in screen history. In other words: a stone classic! But here’s an even better recommendation. From 1973, Horror Hospital stars Michael Gough and permanently horny Mick Jagger look-alike Robin Askwith in one of the bloodiest U.K. horror films of the period. Director Antony Balch was previously known for his film collaborations with William S. Burroughs, no less. Campy ’70s thrills from slumming avant-gardists? There couldn’t be a better time for it. g
Vancouver’s lié is aiming to empower by Mike Usinger
With You Want It Real, Vancouver agitators lié have made an uncompromising record that manages to balance fury-road anger with forward-thinking positivity.
ike pretty much everyone on the planet, Vancouver’s lié is in a state of limbo at a time when it should be ramping things up for its uncompromisingly savage new album You Want It Real. When singer-bassist Brittany West is reached by phone at home, she’s watching the end of the world as we know it unfold in real time. Lié singerguitarist Ash Luk (who identifies as nonbinary) is currently based in Berlin, which isn’t a problem except for the small matter of America closing its borders to nonnationals during the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s gotten uncertain is that, along with drummer Kati J, Luk and West were making plans for a run down the American coast, with shows in Europe scheduled to follow. “Our issue was that Ash was going to fly here, and then we were going to go to the States,” West says. “With the passport saying that they’ve been in Berlin and travelling all over Europe, there’s a chance that they won’t even let us cross. The other thing that’s happening is we’re having shows cancelled. That’s just happened with L.A.” If everything somehow seems like the end times right now, You Want It Real makes a perfect soundtrack— striking a great balance between fury-road anger and forward-thinking positivity. Lyrically, the record aims to challenge as much as it hopes to inspire. Quite intentionally—and more than on past lié records—listeners are encouraged to bring their own meaning to lyrics like “Self-indulgent, so righteous/I’m not blameless,” from “Digging in the Desert”. And to consider how “Good Boy” flips the script on relationship power dynamics with “I can make you fetch for it/You’ll beg for it/You’ll crawl for it.” The members of lié aren’t, however,
above empowering themselves, and West singles out “You Got It” as a good example. She acknowledges that, in her 20s, she struggled with body-image issues, which explains such lyrics as “Abandon shame/Abandon guilt/ Abandon thin/Abandon flaw.” “While it’s still there sometimes, more so than ever I feel like I’m breaking out of those mentalities and fixing what needs to be fixed,” she says. “I’m moving into a place of being content with who I am. And then also being able to vocalize things with other people, whether it’s setting up boundaries or letting them know where I’m coming from. It’s empowering when you’re together with a group of women, putting out music, and getting a really positive response. I’ve had people tell me how important our music is for them, and that helps me feel like ‘Okay—what I’m doing here is valid.’ ” With the ever-busy Jesse Gander in the producer’s chair, lié hits the ground in incendiary attack mode on You Want It Real. “Digging in the Desert” is three minutes of thunderrumble bass and razor-slice guitar laced with vocals that prove anger is indeed an energy, while the redlined hardcore of “You Got It” finds J putting in a superhuman performance behind the kit. The trio shows it understands the power of restraint with the cancer-black postpunker “Drowning in Piss”, but is just as likely to go rogue with the spin-art thrash of “Bugs”. “We’ve always been lucky to work with really good people, and I’ve liked how all of our records have sounded,” West says. “But with this one, working with Jesse, I really feel like we captured the live feel that we’ve tried to harness whenever we write songs. Nothing is dampened, but at the same time everything is
really clear, so you can hear the kick drum and you can hear the bass. Everything has its own separate frequencies, but it’s also all really heavy. It’s something that we’ve all really been working up to.” Luk grew up in Winnipeg, and J is from Seattle, but the roots of lié can be traced back to East Van’s nowshuttered Renegade Studios, which served as an arts hub for both bands and theatre groups. “I was jamming there, and I met Ash in the bathroom,” West recalls with a laugh. “And then again at a show. And then they came to my house to take photos of a project that I was in and we kind of hung out. Kati and Ash had a band called No LA Kill, and I had a band called Koban, and we decided to all go on tour together. When we came back, their bass player moved to Montreal, so they said it might be fun to jam together. It was really casual and fun, but then it grew legs and became this serious thing we all really committed to.” West, who was raised in White Rock, learned bass by playing along to the giants of heavy metal: Megadeth, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath. “When I started playing music in White Rock, it was all men—actually boys, because we were teenagers,” she recalls, laughing. “I was always in projects with them and it was great— I learned a lot. But at the same time I was always concerned that I would be tokenized, put almost as a standin in the background. Like, ‘You play bass and do these three chords that I showed you.’ So I fought really hard to have my own place in bands. I’d learn to play the higher-up notes on the bass, so when they’d be playing a lower chord I could noodle something that would stand out. It was a way of carving out a place for myself.” That would eventually play a big role in shaping the aesthetic of lié. Even as her tastes evolved, leading to postpunk, noise, and no wave, West remained committed to the idea that there was no reason for a bassist to remain in the background. So, in the tradition of acts ranging from local legends like NoMeansNo to international trailblazers like Shellac (whom West loves), lié is very much a band of equals. From 2014’s debut, Consent, to You Want It Real, the power of lié is in the way West’s distortion-bombed bass lines are every bit as much at the forefront of the songs as Luk’s angular guitar wizardry and J’s endlessly inventive drumming. That idea of pulling together hard on the same rope dates back to the beginning of lié—all three band members put a premium on the value of community. “For the longest time we did everything ourselves,” West remembers. “We booked all our own tours, we
didn’t have a label, we did all the artwork ourselves and made our own posters, and put on our own events. That was the whole joy of it all. We got to do everything we wanted to and be creative in the way that we chose to be. “When I look back,” she continues, “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I don’t have a lot of time for another project, but I’ll do this because it will be fun to be in a band with other women.’ Then suddenly we were jamming a couple of times a week, making records, and doing music videos and social media and photo shoots. We just jelled—we like writing songs together, we travelled really well together, and we all
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You Want It Real by lié is out now on Mint Records.
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.
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brought different strengths to the group that helped us stay focused, but still have fun.” For the immediate future, having fun is going to be the challenge. With the world in massive upheaval that now changes hourly, lié announced the cancellation of its North American tour late last week, just hours after this interview was completed. Still, there’s a silver lining to a grim situation: You Want It Real might not help you make sense of the apocalypse-now chaos, but it makes a pretty great soundtrack. g
Scan to confess What’s Happening To Me I usually don’t lose my temper in public. But I got yelly this morning on the bus, triggered by a perceived violation of transit rules by fellow passengers. It was silly of me. I think the real reason I lost it is the stress of seeing people out there not being safe, not following the rules so to speak. I am really sorry, but I guess I’m anxious and need to stay home and chill. Damn.
Self Isolate and working from home Almost seems synonymous in today’s workplace, but doesn’t apply to administrative staff. I miss hearing really good bullshit, like the almost believable stuff where you don’t realize it until after they left. Man/womansplaining is the refined word for good ole bs.
I Hate This I’m so embarrassed to admit this but I am head over heels in love with my partner. We are married and this person loves me to death, and I feel the same. But part of me wonders how I could get by alone if something ever happened to them. By this I mean emotionally. We are both so connected and have almost become one. I mean this is over years and years and years of being together. Sometimes I wonder how I could survive without someone so wonderful. Ok, now I’ve written this all out. It sounds absurd!
Love and marriage I really miss Married with Children, the TV sitcom. It was super popular because it hit home with a lot of people. I feel like if they made this show today, it would be the same result. Everyone knows this is wrong, but the jokes and plot resonate with so many people.
to post a Confession
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Anorexics & Bulimics Anonymous 12 Step based peer support program which addresses the mental, emotional, & spiritual aspects of disordered eating Tuesdays @ 7 pm @ Avalon Women's Centre 5957 West Blvd - 604-263-7177 ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION Looking to start a parent support group in Kitsilano. Please call Barbara 604 737 8337 Battered Women's Support Services provides free daytime & evening support groups (Drop-ins & 10 week groups) for women abused by their intimate partner. Groups provide emotional support, legal information & advocacy, safety planning, and referrals. For more information please call: 604-687-1867 Distress Line & Suicide Prevention Services NEED SOME ONE TO TALK TO? Call us for immediate, free, confidential and non-judgemental support, 24 hours a day, everyday. The Crisis Centre in Vancouver can help you cope more effectively with stressful situations. 604-872-3311
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Talking dirty needs no introduction by Dan Savage
DEAR READERS: I live in Seattle, the U.S. epicentre of the novel coronavirus epidemic, with my family. A lot of my readers wrote this week to wish us well. We are fi ne— scared, but fine—washing our hands compulsively and staying close to home. I’m going to keep churning out the column and recording my podcast while being careful to maintain a safe social distance from the tech-savvy, at-risk youth. I’m hoping the column and podcast are welcome distractions. Please take care of yourselves, take care of the people around you, and wash your damn hands.
say: “I’m someone who needs to feel a strong emotional connection before wanting to fuck someone.” So leading with “I’m a demisexual” seems like a waste of time to me. But it does extend the amount of time the speaker gets to talk about him/her/themselves…and who doesn’t love talking about themselves? Anyway, DT, you’re someone who enjoys dirty talk. There isn’t a special term (or pride flag) for you that I could find—I did a little half-hearted googling myself—and I don’t think you need one. You can get by with, “I’m someone who enjoys dirty talk.”
b I’M WONDERING IF you know of a word that describes the fetish of getting off from talking dirty. I’ve searched a lot, and I can’t find a label for this kink or fetish. While googling around, I did learn some new terms, like katoptronophilia (being aroused by having sex in front of mirrors) and pubephilia (being aroused by pubic hair), but I can’t seem to find one that describes my kink.
b MY WIFE AND I have been married for a little over two years. We both have demanding jobs, but she admits to being a workaholic and spends almost every night on the couch answering emails and binge-watching Bravo. I’ve resorted to getting high most nights to cover up for the fact that I’m very unhappy. Despite being overworked, she’s started a side hustle selling skin-care products to her friends, most of whom she rarely sees in person. Bottom line: I didn’t sign up for this. I’m beyond bored and want to travel and explore. But she refuses to give up the side hustle and dial back her work or her drinking. We both earn comfortable salaries and we don’t need the extra income. Would I be justified in leaving because of her newfound hobby?
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no, BORE, you aren’t happy, and that’s reason enough to leave. And while you won’t (or shouldn’t) be doing much travelling anytime soon, you can find a lawyer,
Side hustle or
to remember when people who needed to feel a strong emotional connection before they wanted to fuck someone got by without a word or a pride flag of their very own. They just said, “I’m someone who needs to feel a strong emotional connection before wanting to fuck someone.” But now they can say “I’m a demisexual,” a five-syllable, vaguely scientific-sounding term that first popped up in an online forum in 2006. Unfortunately, when someone says “I’m a demisexual,” the usual response is, “What’s that?” And then the demisexual has to
I’m old enough
BEAUTIFUL ASIAN GIRL in /out calls
search for a new apartment, and initiate divorce proceedings while your wife sits on the couch answering work emails and pushing skin-care products to her friends. I would typically encourage someone in your shoes to risk telling the truth before walking out—you’re unhappy, you’re bored, you don’t want to live like this anymore—but it sounds like your mind is made up. So use your time at home over the next couple of weeks to make your escape plan. b I’M A YOUNG white woman, and my last boyfriend, a black man, left me two weeks ago. Ever since, I have been masturbating only while thinking about black guys. My question is: do I have a “thing” for black guys now? I’ve accepted that our relationship is over, but it was really intense. I feel disgusting after I masturbate, because it feels gross and not respectful toward my ex somehow. What do you think? - Desperately Horny For Black Men Masturbate about whatever the fuck turns you on, DHFBM, and if you’re worried someone would find your masturbatory fantasies disrespectful…don’t tell that person about your masturbatory fantasies. I suppose it’s possible you have a “thing” for black guys now. (What’s that thing they say? Actually, let’s not say it.) Unless you are treating black guys as objects and not people, or you fetishize blackness in a way that makes black sex partners feel degraded (in unsexy, nonconsensual ways) or used (in ways they don’t wish to be used), don’t waste your time worrying about your fantasies. Worry about your actions.
- Wanna Be Ethical Golden rule this shit, WBE: if your FWB got engaged, would you want to find out via social media or would you want him to tell you personally? I’m guessing you’d rather hear it from him. You’ve known your FWB for only five months, it’s true, and other five-months-or-less friends don’t rate hearing it from you personally. But you aren’t fucking your other fivemonths-or-less friends. A little more consideration for your feelings is—or should be—one of the benefits.
b I USED TO live in a college town. While there, I hooked up with a gorgeous guy. He had an amazing smile, a nice body, and the most perfect natural dick I’ve ever seen. (Can we please stop saying “uncut”? It’s so disgustingly plastic surgeryish.) We hooked up a couple times, and he was so much fun. A couple of years later, in another town, he showed up out of the blue at my new job. It was awkward at first,
but it got better over the couple of years we worked together. I always wanted to just sneak him into the bathroom and give him another blowjob. He still lives in the same town, and I want to message him to see if he’s up for some more fun. We haven’t spoken in years—and last I heard, he was still not out. I want to message him, but I’m wondering whether there’s a time limit to reconnecting with someone? Fuck, man, he was so hot, and his natural, big, veiny dick was maybe the most perfect cock I’ve ever seen. - Big Ol’ Dick Seeing as you haven’t spoken to this man in years, BOD, I’m going to assume you no longer work together. And seeing as you hooked up more than once back in that college town, I’m going to assume he liked your blowjobs. And seeing as there’s a worldwide pandemic on, and seeing as life is short, and seeing as dick is delicious, I’m going to give you the okay to send this guy a message. Social media has made it possible for people to reach out to first loves, exes, and old hookups. And so long as the reacher-outer is respectful, has reason to believe their message won’t tear open old wounds, and instantly takes “no” for an answer (and no response = no), there’s nothing wrong with reaching out. And while social-distancing protocols will prevent you from sucking that gorgeous natural dick anytime soon, BOD, who doesn’t need something to look forward to right now? g On the Lovecast, love drugs! How therapeutic are they? Listen at savagelovecast.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dan on Twitter @fakedansavage.
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b I’M A 35-YEAR-OLD woman in a longterm cohabiting relationship with a man. We opened our relationship about six months ago, and it’s going very well and we both have FWBs. My primary partner and I are going to be getting engaged soon, and I’m wondering what my responsibility is to my FWB of five months. Do I make a special effort to tell him about the engagement—on the phone or in person, like I plan to tell family members and close friends? Or is it okay if he finds out via social media like other people I’ve known for only five months or less would? My getting engaged (or married) won’t prevent me from remaining his FWB.
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