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FREE | APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021 Volume 55 | Number 2773

AGENT OF CHANGE

SIZZLING MARKET

Mortgages drive housing sales

PATIO PICKS

Pandemic dining options

D.O.A.

ARTS UMBRELLA

Vancouver branding expert Mo Dhaliwal found himself in the midst of a major Indian media controversy after creating an online toolkit to empower protesting farmers

GODZILLA VS. KONG

MASKS IN SCHOOLS


CONTENTS

COMMENTARY

Criminal harassment victims can ask police to investigate

T

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By Charlie Smith Cover photo by University of Fraser Valley

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Arts Umbrella is celebrating the opening of its new building, which includes six dance studios, a 132-seat theatre, and much more. By Charlie Smith

e Online TOP 5

e Start Here Criminal harassers are usually men and victims are usually women. Photo by Marlo 74/Getty.

women. We all know the uneasy feeling of walking alone after dark. Many of us have been taught to keep our phones near, to clutch our keys between our fingers, and to check behind us regularly—without making it too obvious. These stories are so common that our laws have developed in response to them. In 1993, our criminal laws were amended to create the offence of criminal harassment as we know it today. This offence was introduced as a specific and purposeful

Criminal harassment differs from most criminal laws… – Vancouver lawyer Sarah Leamon

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COVER

Branding specialist Mo Dhaliwal ended up in the midst of a national controversy in India for creating an online toolkit to amplify the voices of protesting farmers.

by Sarah Leamon

here has been a disturbing increase in the number of women being followed by menacing strangers in our province. First, the cellphone video captured by a woman in Vancouver’s Chinatown took social media by storm. It depicts a woman walking through the streets in broad daylight, with a man following closely behind her. He’s dressed in black clothing with no identifiable features. At first glance, a viewer might think that it’s a coincidence that the man is walking the same route as her, but the longer the video goes on, the more obvious it becomes. He is following the woman. After hitting the news, other women came forward, recounting similar stories of being followed by a menacing stranger. One recalled being terrified after being followed by a man on a trail in Burnaby Lake Park for nearly 30 minutes. Another incident happened in Victoria last week, after a woman called police to report a man aggressively following her and wielding a knife. Stories like these are not unfamiliar to

April 8 – 15 / 2021

response to violence against women. Although domestic violence was a particular concern, the law was crafted to cover a broad variety of behaviours, including what we popularly refer to as “stalking”. Criminal harassment differs from most criminal laws as it does not prohibit the outcome of the conduct—take, for example, murder—but the psychological harm done by it. It is defined as knowingly engaging in behaviour to harass or cause a person to reasonably fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them. Examples of prohibited conduct include repeatedly following a person from place to

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

see page 4

9 15 2 12 10 8 13 12 6 14 13 10

BEER CLASSIFIEDS COMMENTARY CONFESSIONS DANCE EDUCATION MOVIES MUSIC REAL ESTATE SAVAGE LOVE TELEVISION VISUAL ARTS

Vancouver’s News and Entertainment Weekly Volume 55 | Number 2773 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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EDITOR Charlie Smith GENERAL MANAGER (ACTING) Sandra Oswald SECTION EDITORS Mike Usinger (ESports/Liquor/Music) Steve Newton SENIOR EDITOR Martin Dunphy STAFF WRITERS Carlito Pablo (Real Estate) Craig Takeuchi SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT Jeff Li

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

1 2 3 4 5

Home in Cambie Corridor sells for almost $1 million above assessed value. Nut butters, frozen meals, meal kits, cheese, cookies, and candy all recalled in B.C. Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys played Vancouver in a band 25 years ago. Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccinations begin in British Columbia. City of Vancouver suspends two restaurants’ business licences. @GeorgiaStraight

ART DEPARTMENT MANAGER Janet McDonald GRAPHIC DESIGNER Miguel Hernandez PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Mike Correia ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Glenn Cohen, Catherine Tickle, Robyn Marsh (On-Leave), David Pearlman (On-Leave) CONTENT AND MARKETING SPECIALISTS Alina Blackett, Rachel Moore CREDIT MANAGER Shannon Li ACCOUNTING SUPERVISOR Tamara Robinson

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COMMENTARY

Toolkit creator Mo Dhaliwal enrages India’s elites

M

by Charlie Smith

o Dhaliwal has been called many things over the years— a B.C. cultural navigator, arts aficionado, bhangra lover, PuSh festival supporter, and the founder of the Skyrocket digital branding agency in Vancouver. He could add the term antiracist media activist to the list in 2019 when he exposed how Global News B.C. covered up a blackface joke by one of its employees. But it wasn’t until this year that he was accused of being a “terrorist” in the Indian media—an allegation that he adamantly denies. And it arose over a couple of tweets by two of the most famous women in the world—Rihanna and Greta Thunberg—who questioned why there wasn’t more global attention on farmers’ protests in India. It’s been a painful ordeal for Dhaliwal, who shared his experiences with the Straight of repeatedly being defamed in his ancestral homeland after he delivered a short speech in January in front of the Indian consulate on Howe Street. In an hourlong phone interview in advance of Vaisakhi, Dhaliwal talked about how he and others in the Indian diaspora are being victimized by “psychological warfare” from India’s neoliberal government and its allies. It came as

When Vancouver arts entrepreneur and digital-branding expert Mo Dhaliwal applied his expertise to amplifying the voices of Indian farmers, he found himself at the centre of a media controversy.

a result of him publicly questioning why the country is oppressing farmers, journalists, women, minorities, Muslim refugees, and those from lower Hindu castes. “India is exacting a lot of violence against dissenters within its own borders,” Dhaliwal

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APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

said. “But that violence actually extends beyond its borders now because they’ve got these kind of cybercells set up to engage in things like doxxing—and [engaging in] the degree of trolling that happens.” He also thinks that India mostly gets a free

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place, repeated and unwanted communications with them, and watching their house or workplace on an ongoing basis. In short, criminal harassment is behaviour that does not necessarily result in any actual physical harm or injury but is troubling enough to warrant legal intervention, as it could be a precursor to violence. Although most cases of criminal harassment are carried out over a long period of time, shorter bursts of behaviour—like the ones recently making the news—could also amount to harassment. Authorities are required to consider the totality of the circumstances in deciding whether to lay charges and whether to proceed. If it can be established that the person was engaging in conduct that could cause their victim to reasonably fear for their safety, then the foundation for criminal harassment could be established. However, each situation will be somewhat unique. One thing that is not unique, however, are the types of people who fall victim to criminal harassment. Statistics Canada reports that more than three-quarters of all victims in these cases are women. In comparison, women comprise only about half of the victims of violent crimes like robbery and assault. And although women are overwhelmingly more likely to be harassed, men are statistically more likely to do the harassing. In 2009, men accounted for 78 percent of

pass from the West, unlike China, because its government is democratically elected. Dhaliwal came to the Indian establishment’s attention when Thunberg tweeted a link to an online “toolkit”. It was created by the Vancouver-based Poetic Justice Foundation, which he cofounded with arts and nonprofit advocate Anita Lal. Dhaliwal described the toolkit as an “innocuous PowerPoint deck”. It showed how to contact politicians, sign petitions, and use hashtags—including #AskIndiaWhy—to condemn state violence and demand that the Indian government listen to protesters. “We had strategy documents,” Dhaliwal explained. “We had all sorts of stuff that was being worked on in plain sight. The encouragement to everybody working with us in the diaspora was, ‘Share this far and wide. Get this into the hands of whoever needs it.’ ” He felt that this was the best way to reduce the likelihood of security forces in India from using more violence against farmers, who’ve already faced some attacks. And he emphasized that this is a national movement taking place in many states, even though it appears to the world as mostly see next page

those who were accused of criminal harassment. Many of those who were accused were also known to the victim, whether they were an ex-partner or an acquaintance. Those who are convicted of criminal harassment could face a maximum penalty of not more than 10 years in jail. But more importantly, perhaps, are the protective conditions that can be ordered by the court. These conditions do not need to wait until there is a finding of guilt, which could take months or even years. They can be imposed upon the arrest of an individual, and they normally include a ban on contacting the victim either directly or indirectly or attending anywhere they are known to live, go to school, work, worship, or otherwise be. In cases of stranger harassment, they may include conditions not to be found in the area where the alleged stalking incident occurred or not to be in possession of weapons. These conditions can be specifically tailored to suit the alleged offence. They can have an important chilling effect on an accused while simultaneously making the victim and the community feel more at ease. And although these laws may offer little in the way of comfort to those who have already become stalking victims, it is somewhat reassuring to know that these offences will be investigated and that the perpetrators could be charged and brought to justice once identified. g Sarah Leamon is a Vancouver criminal lawyer.


Sikh because Sikh farmers tend to live much closer to the capital of New Delhi. “What we were trying to do is make sure any protests happening in the diaspora in support of the farmers were really well equipped with good fact-checked messaging, good-looking assets, easy-to-replicate graphics, all that sort of stuff.” After Thunberg disseminated the toolkit, Indian media outlets attempted to discredit its authors. That helped shield the government at home from high-profile international criticism. And because Dhaliwal had expressed sympathy on his Facebook page in 2020 for the idea of “Khalistan”—an imaginary Sikh independent state in northwestern India—this received wide attention in the Indian media. Dhaliwal provided commentators with more ammunition when he delivered his speech on Republic Day in downtown Vancouver. He pointed out that the farmers’ way of life was under threat in India. And he felt it was imperative for those in attendance to open their hearts and minds to understand each other. That’s because many of the younger people were dismissive of the Khalistan movement, not realizing that older Khalistanis in the crowd had been trying to protect that way of life for 50 years or longer. “That video got picked up, projected, and played in India repeatedly and was referred to as hate speech,” Dhaliwal said. This was despite him not saying anything critical of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, his Bharatiya Janata Party, or India in the video.

Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg both came under criticism in India after tweeting messages expressing sympathy for protesting farmers—Thunberg was even burned in effigy.

“I’ve never been down to that hateful rhetoric,” Dhaliwal insisted. “I would only want to speak for the change that we want to see.” He readily joked that if you ever want to see a group of Punjabi people scatter, just say “Khalistan” in any setting. That’s because it has become such a loaded word. He believes that the media referred to the farmers’ protest as a Khalistan initiative to drive a wedge within the movement. But Dhaliwal argued that Khalistan is not an “inherently negative term”. In fact, he suggested, the first maharajah of the Sikh Empire, Ranjit Singh, was an enlightened ruler who oversaw a “golden period” in the early 19th century. During his 39year reign, Muslim and Hindu centres of worship actually flourished. “That’s sometimes forgotten,” Dhaliwal said. “Any land that’s operated under these ideals will have to ultimately answer to the Guru Granth Sahib.”

The Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious text of the Sikh faith, is often referred to as the “eternal-living guru”. The founder of the faith, Guru Nanak, was actually hundreds of years ahead of his time by promoting equality in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. “He was so universally embraced and his revolution was so universally embraced because it’s hard to argue with wanting to be in service to humanity and wanting to be in a remembrance of the oneness that all of creation—not just humans but all of creation—is a part of,” Dhaliwal said. He described Sikhi (as it’s often called) as a “nonproselytizing religion” with a “baked-in ideology of living in a constant state of revolution and being in service to humanity”. This is part of the reason why Dhaliwal remains open to the idea of an independent state of Khalistan, founded on these ideals. He thinks it has genuine potential to be

far more progressive and open to diversity than India, which is riddled with inequality and increasing intolerance of minorities. That’s witnessed in the so-called cow vigilantism, where Muslims, in particular, are attacked by Hindu extremists. “They are kind of constantly projecting this soft power in this world as a place of deep and ancient spirituality and all these things, and that’s definitely a part of the India story,” Dhaliwal noted. “But the contemporary, modern story of India is far more complex than that and actually far more violent.” The Poetic Justice Foundation takes its inspiration from a wide variety of activists and change agents, ranging from Malcolm X to Sufi mystics to Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh to Indian independence leader Bhimrao Ambedkar. Prior to becoming a centre of controversy on Indian talk shows, the Poetic Justice Foundation focused its efforts on engaging the diaspora in difficult conversations, including about how anti-Black racism is sometimes manifested in Punjabi culture. Dhaliwal said that he’s never been a vocal proponent of Khalistan, so it’s odd to him that he has been launched to the forefront of this issue in India. “I’m in some ways appropriating the efforts of so many people who have been working on this for so many decades—and continue both through research and scholarship and in their discourse in the diaspora,” Dhaliwal noted. “Because we know that we can’t have that discourse in India because you’ll be jailed, or worse.” g

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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REAL ESTATE

Overheated market raises fears of a correction by Carlito Pablo

A

realtor fears that the Canadian housing market is so overheated that it could burn the whole thing down. Adam Major, managing broker with Holywell Properties, says that what led to the U.S. housing crash in 2008 might be happening now in the country. Major believes that the government “probably should have done something already”. “I do hope they can come up with a way to cool the market rather than letting it burn too hot for too long, because it could create more problems in the long run,” Major told the Straight in a phone interview. Major is also the CEO of Zealty.ca, a realestate tracking site operated by Holywell. The realtor recalled that one of the causes of the U.S. housing crash were “teaser”, or adjustable-rate, mortgages. “In the U.S. in 2005 to 2006, somewhere between 30 percent to 40 percent of all mortgages sold were ‘teasers’, where the rates started out low but went up after two years,” he explained. Buyers then found out that after their rates went up, they could not afford the payments. With the value of their houses going down, they could not refinance their mortgages. Here in Canada, many home buyers are currently getting mortgage rates at 1.5 percent and below. “We are now in a position where nearly 100 percent of the mortgages being sold in Canada could be ‘teaser’-rate mortgages,” Major noted. He pointed out that if one has a 1.5 percent fixed-rate mortgage and rates increase to 3.5 percent, payments go up 30 percent. Major recalled that about two or three years ago, Canada had mortgages of 3.5 percent. In 2007, the rate was almost six percent. He said that if a mortgage increases to 5.5 percent, payment goes up 63.5 percent compared to a rate of 1.5 percent. At 7.5 percent, the payment more than doubles, Major noted. “I don’t think mortgage rates are going to 7.5 percent, but they could easily go back to 3.5 percent,” he said. “Could they go to 5.5 percent? That would mean someone paying $3,000 per month now will have to cough up $4,905 per month on renewal.” Major said that what worries him are Canadians currently “stretching” to buy homes at 1.5 percent mortgages. “What’s going to happen in five years if interest rates are 3.5 or 4.5 or 5.5 percent?” he asked. “They’re going to have to pay a lot more just to maintain their houses.” Meanwhile, a lot of aspiring buyers will not be able to afford mortgages “if interest rates go to 5.5 percent, which is not that far

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Holywell Properties managing broker Adam Major thinks the government needs to intervene to cool the market. Photo by Paul Kapischka / Unsplash.

What’s going to happen in five years if…rates are 3.5 or 4.5 or 5.5 percent? – realtor Adam Major

out of reality”. “There are going to be no buyers at the current prices,” he said. “Nobody will be able to afford anything at the current prices.” What’s going to happen next is that “people will just sit on their wallets”. “If you can’t afford your mortgage payments, nobody else is going to be able to buy that property,” Major said. This then “creates a downward pressure on prices when people need to sell but there are no buyers”. “If the average mortgage rate gets to 5.5 percent in Canada in five years, we could see house prices fall 40 percent,” Major said. In some hot markets like Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland, resulting house prices could be “half of what they are now”. Major noted that Canadian housing is

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

more overvalued than U.S. properties were before the 2008 market collapse, which cut American home prices by about 34 percent. “We could see a bigger housing-price correction than what the U.S. experienced,” he said. “If U.S. housing fell 34 percent, how much could Canadian housing fall?” The Bank of Canada dropped its interest-setting rate to 0.25 percent on March 27, 2020, to ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. The central bank has maintained that rate, which is its lowest, and indicated that it will stay at that level until 2023. However, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem has observed “excess exuberance” in the country’s housing market. “What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we’ve seen recently go on indefinitely,” Macklem said at a February 24 meeting with Edmonton and Calgary chambers of commerce. But Macklem also said that the market, at the time, was still a “long way from where we were in 2016-2017, when things were really hot”. In March 2021, the market in Metro Vancouver got even hotter. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has reported that March 2021 sales were the “highest monthly sales total ever

recorded in the region”. A total of 5,708 homes sold last month, a 126.1 percent increase from the 2,524 sales in March 2020. Last month’s transactions also represented a 53.2 percent increase from the 3,727 homes sold in February 2021. Home buyers are subject to a mortgage stress test in which they have to qualify for a higher rate. Major said that although this stress test offers “protection”, he doubts whether it’s enough. “One of the big trips with mortgages and renewing them is what if your house goes down in value in five years? Is the bank going to renew at the same rate if the amount you owe is more than the house is now worth? That’s potentially challenging.” Major noted talk about the anticipated easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which will open the doors again to foreign buyers of Canadian property. “You hear all these buyers are coming from Hong Kong, and that might be true. But is it enough to…keep inflating the housing prices here? I’m skeptical that it is.” Major noted that there is a saying that goes, “never catch a falling knife”. “If you can buy for less in six months’ time, you’ll wait six months,” Major said. “So that’s the same way for Canadians and people coming from wherever else in the world: they’re going to wait to buy if prices start to go down.” g


REAL ESTATE

Council split over rental rules in commercial zones

A

by Charlie Smith

mong many voters, there’s a tendency to look at Vancouver city council through the lens of a right-left ideological divide. But a vote on the evening of April 1—going into the Easter long weekend—revealed that things aren’t quite that straightforward. Six members of council from four parties voted to amend the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan so that it now applies to four commercial zoning categories. This affects 3,050 rental units in 380 purpose-built rental buildings. Most of these units were built before 1975 and rent at substantially lower amounts than units in new rental buildings, according to a city staff report. Green councillors Adriane Carr, Pete Fry, and Michael Wiebe joined OneCity Vancouver’s Christine Boyle, COPE’s Jean Swanson, and the NPA’s Colleen Hardwick in voting in favour of requiring one-to-one replacements for any rental units demolished for redevelopment in these areas. The five who voted against this motion included three NPA councillors—Melissa De Genova, Lisa Dominato, and Sarah KirbyYung—along with independent councillor Rebecca Bligh and Mayor Kennedy Stewart. The plan to extend the one-to-one replacement in commercial zones was opposed by the banking and development industries. They warned that this would amount to a mass downzoning, which would cause property values to decline in these areas. The chair of the Urban Development Institute, Beau Jarvis, told council last month that the amendments to C-2, C-2B, C-2C, and C-2C1 zones could wipe out $500 million in equity, forcing major chartered banks to adjust lending practices in Van-

NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick (above) voted with three Green councillors and councillors with COPE and OneCity in extending rental protections to four commercial zoning categories.

couver. He based this figure on a figure in a report for the city by Coriolis Consulting. A city staff report noted that 81 units have been lost in these areas over the past decade without the one-to-one replacement rule. That contrasts with 691 new rentals being constructed over the same period in the four commercial zones. That led the staff to argue that although there would be fewer evictions as a result of the amendments, there would also be fewer total rental units built in these zones in strata projects if the motion were approved. The views of developers, landowners, and bankers did not sway the majority. “This is one of those ‘whose side are we on?’ moments,” Swanson said during the debate. “Should C-2 tenants have the same protection as other tenants? Or should we prioritize the wants of developers to keep

their property values escalating—unearned escalating—year over year over year?” Swanson answered her own questions by declaring: “Tenants need to have stability more than banks need to have stability and developers need to have stability.” Moreover, she added: “There is no stability for tenants and we need to do everything we can to create it.” The NPA’s Hardwick noted that most “affordable housing” is that which has already been built. She added that this one-to-one replacement rule has existed for decades in apartment-oriented zones without any problems. “I highly question whether this will have a large effect on land values,” the NPA councillor said. “This is a modest rental protection that we owe existing rentals.” Opponents raised several concerns.

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Bligh noted in the debate that she wasn’t seeing any “hyperfocus” on redeveloping commercial zones and evicting tenants. “Revaluing land and downsizing these sites, I think, is a much bigger risk to the city as a whole,” she said. De Genova and Kirby-Yung talked about unintended consequences. For De Genova, this concerned the financial ramifications of financing social housing on 14 sites owned by the city. Kirby-Yung said that it was important to make room for new renters. She insisted that it was false to suggest that about 3,000 people would lose their homes if the amendments weren’t approved. “That is a red herring,” Kirby-Yung said. The apartments are in commercial zones in many areas of the city, including along most of Kingsway and parts of West 4th Avenue, West Broadway, Victoria Drive, 41st Avenue, and East Hastings, Main, Fraser, and Alma streets. A majority of council also voted in favour of an amendment by Fry directing staff to report back on methods to allow for the transfer of density to another site or density offsets in the four commercial zones. These, he stated, would be intended “to support rental replacement” and could include “requesting a change to the Vancouver Charter as necessary”. In advancing this idea, Fry pointed out that Burnaby “has embarked on this exact same process”. “What’s happening is the developers are relocating tenants into similarly priced units elsewhere because they’re being given an offset of density that they can then move from that existing location to another location close by,” Fry said. g

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APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

7


EDUCATION

School mask mess emphasizes lack of leadership Mixed messages, poor communication the norm as province continues to gaslight teachers and critics

W

by Patti Bacchus

hat a fustercluck. For a moment or two on March 29, it seemed that B.C.’s increasingly beleaguered provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, was coming around to what her colleagues across the country, and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, have acknowledged for months: masks are a key layer of protection in K-12 schools. I watched that media briefing she did with Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix where she appeared to choke on her words before saying, “We’re going to be updating our public health guidance to support mask-wearing for all students down to Grade 4, across the province.” Wait, did she just say “support”? Weren’t we doing that already? Outside B.C., it’s widely accepted that students from Grade 4 and up should wear masks at school, except for when eating or drinking, and younger kids should be encouraged to wear them as well. Exceptions can and should be made for those who have difficulty wearing masks. It was a disaster of a media briefing when Horgan blamed people in their twenties and thirties for the climbing COVID-19 case counts and alienated a generation of voters who have been working frontline jobs in healthcare, retail, firefighting, policing, and all those other essential services while often sharing homes with multiple roommates because of B.C.’s high housing costs. Heck, a lot of them have young kids who go to mask-optional schools in a province that doesn’t like to test kids without COVID-19 symptoms, while we know kids are often asymptomatic and can spread the virus. Never mind that Horgan has been ignoring pleas to make schools safer for months while WorkSafeBC quietly approved teachers’ and education assistants’ claims for catching COVID-19 at work, or that he refuses to require those coming from out of province to quarantine on arriving in B.C. Horgan is also the genius who let ski resorts stay open through spring break, with entirely predictable results. Sure, blame the young folks and not your own lack of effective leadership, Mr. Premier. Alas, the hopeful bit of mask news— which implied that B.C. might finally catch up to other jurisdictions and require students in Grade 4 and up to wear masks, something teachers and many parents have been pleading for since the start of the school year—seemed to be not quite that, unfortunately. Or did it?

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Dr. Victoria Lee, the president of Fraser Health—the worst-hit B.C. health region in terms of COVID-19 cases and school exposures—defied the province and decreed a school mask order.

[Dr. Bonnie] Henry refused to follow suit despite thousands of COVID-19 “exposures” in schools… – Patti Bacchus

It seemed not on March 29, when B.C.’s deputy minister of education, Scott MacDonald, sent a bulletin to school superintendents and school principals saying public health guidance was being amended to only “support and encourage” grades four to 12 students to wear masks at school. Yet the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) insisted it had been told, in no uncertain terms, that masks would be required for Grade 4 and up, and they were not going to accept another bait-andswitch like the one last July, when government changed the back-to-school plan at the 11th hour, and without informing the teachers’ union before making a public announcement. I emailed the Ministry of Education on Tuesday morning (March 30) to ask for clarification on what the new mask rules for schools were, and it took 12 hours to get an answer that should have been simple and quick, given the new health orders went into effect at midnight on March 29.

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

Then I heard Henry on CBC radio’s Early Edition show on March 30 say she was revising “guidance that includes maskwearing down to Grade 4” and that it was not an order, just guidance. Oh. Kay. The rest of that day was communications chaos, with school staff meetings scheduled and cancelled as everyone tried to figure out if masks would be required, recommended, supported, encouraged, or included. It was as clear as mud. It took until just after 9 p.m. to get confirmation by email from Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside’s staff that masks would, indeed, be required for students Grade 4 and up, even while seated in class, with exceptions for those who have difficulty wearing masks, although the B.C. Centres for Disease Control site was updated to say “should”, not “required”, causing even more confusion. Good grief. It was a master class in how not to communicate during a public health crisis, and

it left school districts scrambling to figure out if “guidance” was different from “mandate” or “order”, and, honestly, how much are we paying these “leaders” to screw up something so simple? This school mask fiasco has been mindboggling. I know a lot of folks are tired of the term gaslighting, but that’s exactly what government and health officials are doing to those who have been raising the alarm about airborne-virus transmission and calling for stronger school safety measures. Instead of acknowledging the concern and the science, they’ve dismissed it with virtual pats on the head and assurance that schools are magical places where viruses don’t transmit like they do in other workplaces, homes, or restaurants. Government and public health officials backed themselves into a corner on the issue by insisting schools were safe, with almost no viral transmission, yet they won’t release data to prove that. Clearly, WorkSafeBC acknowledges education workers are catching it at work or they wouldn’t be approving their claims. If there truly has been little to no transmission, why support masks now? That’s the uncomfortable corner Henry and company have wedged themselves into, which may explain why she choked on her words March 29. If it hadn’t been for Fraser Health president Dr. Victoria Lee having had enough of the mealy-mouthed provincial “guidance” last weekend and breaking ranks by going it alone and issuing a mask order for Surrey schools, I doubt we would have finally gotten movement on the B.C.-wide school mask mandate at all. Sure, health officials have been learning as they go, and they know a lot more about the COVID-19 virus now than they did a year ago. Yet for some reason, almost every other province’s health officials and governments knew it made sense for kids from Grade 4 and up to wear masks at school. Henry refused to follow suit despite thousands of COVID-19 “exposures” in schools and more contagious variants of concern rampaging through communities. I don’t know any other employee group that’s had to plead so hard for better safety measures. Lots of people face risks: healthcare workers, first responders, and those who work in grocery stores and other frontline jobs. As far as I can tell, they get as much in terms of safety measures as is possible while still doing their jobs, but people who work in schools are told it’s safe to spend hours a day indoors in crowded classrooms, where masks were optional until recently. g


FOOD / BEER

Prime patio picks for dining during the pandemic

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by Craig Takeuchi

and gratuities) of between $150 to $300 (depending on the time and day of the scheduled visit) is required for each dome. Reservations can be made online. The Secret Garden continues until May 2. Meanwhile, the establishment has also temporarily expanded its outdoor patio to offer more seats with views of Coal Harbour and the North Shore. These are available on a drop-in basis and depend upon weather conditions.

cross British Columbia, food and drink establishments have been busy shifting gears over the past few days to adapt to the new provincial health orders announced on March 29, which mandate the closure of all indoor dining services. With outdoor patio service still permitted (in addition to takeout, pickup, or delivery), numerous establishments were already prepared. Others have quickly adapted. If you’re considering dining out on a patio in the coming weeks, here are some fresh-air options to consider that you may have not been aware of.

EARLS POP-UP PATIOS

THE ROOF AT BLACK+BLUE

Black + Blue’s third-floor outdoor dining room and lounge The Roof (1032 Alberni Street) first opened in 2013. But on March 18, it reopened after a West Coast–inspired makeover that transformed the rooftop dining space and lounge into a gardenlike setting. With a palette of natural earth tones, the new design features warm millwork, wood-plank flooring, curved cedar booth seating, and integrated lighting. There are also greenery and floral accents, custom planter boxes, a grand garden pergola showpiece for both shade and style, suspended foliage, and a wooden feature

Earls has been busy transforming outdoor spaces into dining areas, such as the parking lot at its Fir Street location, which is now Tanqueray Terrace, complete with greenery, picnic tables, and a tent.

wall mounted with floating candles. The menu has also undergone a refresh, with grilled items such as beef, chicken, fish, and seafood, fresh oyster platters; a seafood tower; and salads. H TASTING LOUNGE’S SECRET GARDEN

We’ve been asked to stay in figurative social bubbles. But why not be in literal physical bubbles? That option is available at the H Tasting Lounge (1601 Bayshore Drive) at the

Westin Bayshore, Vancouver hotel, which launched the Secret Garden this month. Guests can dine in one of five translucent garden domes from noon until 10 p.m. every day for lunch and dinner service. Each dome, accented with floral touches and greenery, seats up to six people. Diners can order from a menu that spans octopus salad ($19), vegan burgers ($18), mushroom linguine ($29), and miso ling cod ($31). A minimum spending (before taxes

Three Earls locations are adapting to the current health orders by creating new outdoor patio spaces. At the Fir Street location (1601 West Broadway), the restaurant has transformed the parking lot into Tanqueray Terrace, with greenery and picnic tables. A tent will be added for rainy weather. And as an added bonus, it will have its own Tanqueray cocktail menu. In South Surrey, the newest Earls location, at 16071 24th Avenue, opened a new patio called Cornerside Patio. Meanwhile, Earls Bridge Park in Burnaby (3850 Lougheed Highway) already has a sizeable patio. But it’s also expanding its outdoor seating capacity by launching a new Backyard Patio next week, which will be located on grass facing Lougheed Highway. g

Astilleros Hibiscus Gose an unexpected favourite

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by Mike Usinger

Expect soft f loral notes and you won’t be disappointed, as La Cerveceria Astilleros’ Mexico-indebted Agua de Jamaica is delicate without being cloying or perfume-y. As an added bonus, it looks great, pouring a vibrant ruby red that will remind you of that time you spent a night drinking Blood of Christ cocktails at the fabulous El Garlochi bar in Seville. Interestingly, that establishment doesn’t serve beer. One might wonder if that’s only because the staff has never heard of La Cerveceria Astilleros Hibiscus Gose.

s a valuable public service, we taste the latest in Lower Mainland beers and then give you a highly opinionated, pocketsized review. ON TAP

La Cerveceria Astilleros Hibiscus Gose THEIR WORDS

“A bright and lively gose, with a gorgeous colour and aromatics of hibiscus leaves. ‘Agua de Jamaica’, which translates to ‘Water of Jamaica’, is a fresh, sweet, rosecoloured, hibiscus infused drink that is as common to Mexicans as Root Beer to Canadians. This beer will hopefully give you a taste of that culinary tradition.”

DEEP THOUGHTS

TASTE TEST

Well, one truly does learn something new every day. Past trips to Mexico have led to discovering the magic of chilaquiles, Tajin, and “Mal Hombre” by Lydia Mendoza. Not once did anyone ever hip us to the fact that hibiscus is good for something other than tea time at your neighbourhood retirement home. Like, for example,

Hibiscus Gose is great enough that it’s worth dealing with the hell of North Shore traffic.

making beer. In addition to Saaz hops, a good amount of hisbiscus flowers go into this refreshingly bright and lemony—but not overpoweringly so—gose.

Sometimes you discover a new favourite thing entirely by accident. Confession time: when it was time to leave East Van for the first time in four months, Hibiscus Gose wasn’t on the shopping list. Instead, it was La Cerveceria Astilleros’s yummy-sounding Acan “Chufa” Horchata Porter that made braving the bridge seem worth it. And, after stepping into the North Van brewery— where, as God is our witness, someone who looked like Bryan Adams was laying into a house-made taco at a table—the Salted Lime Lager became an instant must-have.

Anything horchata-related is a nobrainer, but why the Salted Lime Lager? Easy—in Mexico, you can’t swing a piñata pole without hitting limón-f lavoured potatos chips, limón-infused salt, and, most delicious of all, Sol Chelada Limón y Sal beer. In Canada, however, none of that is available no matter how much you’ve begged the staff at Los Guerreros Latin food products on Kingsway to help a hermano out. Anyhow, thanks to the endless traffice snarls on the North Shore, it took so long (as in a good half-hour) to get from the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to La Cerveceria Astilleros that something extra had to be done to make the endless journey worth it. So a four-pack of Hibiscus Gose joined the stack of Salted Lime Lager and Acan “Chufa” Horchata Porter. The gose instantly became the favourite and remains so today. How good is it? Sometimes when you’re crawling along a North Van arterial route, managing a quarter-block every three traffic-light changes, you need the promise of something special to help keep your eyes on the prize. Hibiscus Gose is that prize. g

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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ARTS

Mozaico’s fancy footwork makes virtual transition

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by Charlie Smith

lamenco is hot and unpredictable. According to the artistic director of Vancouver-based Mozaico Flamenco, Kasandra “La China”, that’s because it’s a live art form that thrives on the interaction of a guitarist, singers, hand clappers, and the dancer. “A lot of it is improvised in the moment,” she told the Straight by phone. “The audience is a huge part of what we do.” But when there’s a ban on live events and audiences are forbidden from attending venues due to the pandemic, this entails improvisation of a different form. And “La China” is hoping that her solution—a prerecorded production of three celebratory solos offered through the Dance Centre—will still bring her fans to their feet, albeit from the comfort of their own homes. “La China” stressed that she stayed away from the deeply profound numbers that flamenco is famous for. “I thought it would be too depressing,” she said. Instead, she will open with “Tangos del Titi”. For this cheeky performance, she will don a bright yellow dress and an equally bright red hat. “Titi” has many meanings in Spanish, “La China” said, but in this instance it refers to a person’s aunt. Next, she’ll perform an allegria from the beach town of Cadiz, which is often the first port of call in Europe for cruise ships. “Allegria means joy and happiness,” she noted. Both of these performances will feature Peter Mole on guitar and Maria Avila as the singer. Her final number will be an original composition by

Kasandra “La China” normally dances in front of live crowds, but nowadays her performances are virtual. Photo by Sanka Dee.

Cuban-born musical artist Josué Tacoronte, who has been playing for “La China” for years. She said that this will be a “Colombianas”, which is inspired by Colombia and tells

the story of Spaniards who travelled to and from that part of the world. “We usually don’t do it in Vancouver because it requires expertise from Latin American countries,” she explained. “I have a piece from him that’s four minutes.” “La China” revealed that this one will feature her rapid footwork along with percussion and a big Chinese fan belt. So it will be up to videographer Chris Randle to pull all of “La China’s” moves together in the editing bay. “This is going to be more of a technological feat, because I cut multiple versions of myself dancing,” she said. “La China” is grateful that the Dance Centre, the Shadbolt Centre, and Small Stage have continued supporting f lamenco performances despite the pandemic. She contrasted this with the situation in Spain, where COVID-19 has delivered a devastating blow to this art form. “I actually think the industry is quite decimated because they’re in the third wave there,” she said. “And the government ceases to support it in any way.” That has resulted in the closure of famous Spanish flamenco venues, which means some of the world’s best musicians and dancers are now unemployed. “So we’re seeing a lot of them turn to carpentry and trades now, which is quite depressing,” she said. “Here in Vancouver, I feel like the dance scene is trying to maintain a sense of vibrancy as much as it possibly can.” g The Dance Centre will stream Mozaico Flamenco on demand from April 15 to 28 as part of its Discover Dance! series.

Five gallery picks for Capture photography fest

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by Steve Newton and Charlie Smith

THINGS MY DAD TAUGHT ME

.C.’s art galleries and museums are among the few public spaces currently open under the latest provincial health guidelines. Here’s a roundup of five exhibitions currently showing or opening soon as part of the Capture Photography Festival.

To May 15 at Gallery Gachet (9 West Hastings Street) This exhibition features 12 images created by photographer Jackie Dives in response to her father’s death from an accidental overdose. “Since his death, I have been visiting places that remind me of him,” she says on the Capture Photography Festival website. “I go to the housing co-op where I grew up, to the swimming pool we used to go, to his old apartments, and the last place I saw him alive. Along the way I stop to take photographs of things that resonate with me as I reflect on our relationship, my childhood, and the things he taught me.”

FEAST FOR THE EYES

To May 30 at the Polygon Gallery (101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver) This visual feast features photographs of food like you’ve never seen before. Curated by Susan Bright and Denise Wolff, it includes the work of Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Nobuyoshi Araki, and more than 50 other lens-based artists. No wonder it’s one of the featured exhibitions at this year’s Capture festival.

EXCLUSION ACTS

STILL VANCOUVER

April 15 to 29 at Kurbatoff Gallery (2435 Granville Street) Photographic artist Gregory Geipel sees fixtures in Vancouver’s urban landscape that are often overlooked by the rest of us. As we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of a growing city, his images are a reminder that some things remain timeless. 10

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Check out art that’s good enought to eat, including Sharon Core’s Early American—Still Life With Oranges, at the Polygon Gallery. C-print courtesy artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

SOON

April 22 to May 29 at Monte Clark Gallery (53 Dunlevy Avenue) Artist Vilhelm Sundin’s work relies on sound, computer-generated graphics,

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

and lens-based media to explore how photography intersects with cinema. Some of the images also convey the feeling of living in the midst of dizzying technological change.

To May 29 at Centre A (268 Keefer Street, #205) Hong Kong–born, Toronto-raised artist Will Kwan examines some bizarre and systemic ways in which beliefs and social relations are shaped by economic ideology. This includes works exploring how neoliberal rhetoric reinforces the racialization of low wages. Curated by Henry Heng Lu, it’s timely, given how the pandemic has exacerbated the divide between rich and poor. g


ARTS

Arts Umbrella ups its game with dazzling new digs by Charlie Smith

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Arts Umbrella’s new building has 50,000 square feet for artists between two and 22 years old; CEO Paul Larocque sees its completion as a testament to the community’s commitment to arts education.

here’s a new cathedral of arts education in Vancouver—and this one is for children and youths. On Tuesday (April 6), Arts Umbrella held a virtual grand opening of its 50,000-square-foot new home in the former South Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design on Granville Island. And it has undergone such an extensive renovation that former students of the university would barely recognize parts of the interior. “In the first three to five years, we anticipate more than 15,000 people per year coming to this building for a variety of programs, including performances in our new theatre,” Arts Umbrella president and CEO Paul Larocque told the Straight during a recent tour of the facility. “So I think it’s pretty amazing.” Architect Richard Henriquez, husband of Arts Umbrella cofounder Carol Henriquez, redesigned four storeys to include six spacious dance studios as well as a 132-seat theatre, 10 art and design studios, and four theatre, music, and film studios for students between the ages of two and 22. According to Larocque, Arts Umbrella has already surpassed the $35-million mark in a $37-million capital funding and endowment campaign. “That means a lot of individuals, families, organizations, and corporations have all stepped up in very significant ways to realize the vision for this,” he said. “It’s something that we do not take for granted. This is something that happens to an organization once every few generations.” In particular, Larocque credited the federal government for providing $7 million from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. He described this as the largest contribution from that pot of money to any individual project in B.C. In addition, the City of Vancouver has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure funding.

And the B.C. government stepped up, too. “The province saw to it to transfer this building from Emily Carr to Arts Umbrella,” he added. “That was just massive. It’s a $1.4-million gift.” Arts Umbrella has come a long way from its humble origins. Back in 1979, five artists and some parents with a passion for arts education launched the school, initially accepting 45 children. Four years later, it moved to its permanent home, a former nail factory on Granville Island that underwent two renovations, in 1990 and 2000, as enrollment grew. “To say that we have long grown out of space in that building is an understatement,” Larocque said. “This is such a huge opportunity for the community. We intend to fill this new space with activity.” Only six percent of Arts Umbrella’s $8-million operating budget comes from governments, he added. “This is truly an organization that has been built by the community for the community.” THE INSIDE OF the new building is spectacular. The theatre features a 1,500-squarefoot stage with a sprung floor, enhancing safety for performers. Seating for 132 was created by eliminating a studio directly behind the theatre, lifting the floor, and placing a new audiovisual booth in the rear. Larocque said that this space could be used by school groups throughout the year as well as by the Vancouver Fringe Festival and Vancouver Writers Festival, which are both based on Granville Island. “There’s a large screen that drops down,” he noted. “We’ll use it to show student work in the area of animation and in filmmaking, and we’ll have speakers’ series. It’s just such an incredible asset for the community.” The six dance studios on the fourth floor

It’s life-changing. It takes a lot of courage to be engaged in art. – Arts Umbrella CEO Paul Larocque

are equally dazzling. The largest is 2,500 square feet with floor-to-ceiling windows, and each studio has a sprung floor as well as a piano. Larocque said that as part of the construction project, a column was removed and replaced with a truss, opening up more space and ensuring acoustical buffering. In a theatre rehearsal studio, the roof was raised by three metres. “This was a major piece of structural engineering,” Larocque said. That’s not all. There’s a room with many pottery wheels in a ceramics studio. That’s new to Arts Umbrella. As well, students will be able to print graphic novels, something that Larocque described as being as important to them as being able to complete a painting or a piece of choreography. Plus, in addition to learning about digital photography, there’s a darkroom for students to practise analogue photography. “You’re not seeing a lot of darkrooms in postsecondary education,” Larocque commented. Then there are partnerships with Microsoft and Electronic Arts to ensure that students learn a variety of animation skills. The building was originally designed by Patkau Architects. One of its features, which the Arts Umbrella CEO appreciates, is a glass ceiling that automatically opens up if there’s a fire, ensuring that smoke will be released outside. But as impressive as all these features

might be, Larocque remains firmly focused on the experience of students. To enhance their education, there’s a large green room, which enables them to hear a performance as it’s underway so they’ll know when to go onstage. In addition, there’s a student lounge with a microwave oven and refrigerator, which is ideal for the dance students who spend half their days at Arts Umbrella and half their days in regular secondary school. On the main floor, students’ artwork can be displayed so it can be seen by Granville Island visitors walking by the building. To Larocque, arts education is so much more than learning about performing arts or painting or moviemaking. He thinks that it also helps students build many skills that can enhance their education and help them become better citizens. Foremost among them is empathy. “It’s life-changing,” he said. “It takes a lot of courage to be engaged in art. It’s such a direct thing because it’s coming from within you. It’s the instructor— who is able to unleash that creative spirit—who is so important.” A former Arts Umbrella student and instructor, Kate Henderson, is now the interim curator and visual arts manager at Art Gallery at Evergreen in Coquitlam. In a phone interview, she told the Straight that Arts Umbrella is where her passion for art began. She started in the dance program before studying painting, drawing, and sculpture. She described Larocque as one of the warmest and most generous people that she’s ever met. According to her, Larocque always remembers people’s names and enjoys celebrating others’ successes. “He really cares about children and youth and puts them first,” Henderson said. “This move to the new building is such a huge thing for these students.” g

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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MUSIC

Animated “It Was D.O.A.” an ode to life on the road

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by Mike Usinger

alk to anyone who’s ever hit the road in a van with dreams of rock ’n’ roll glory and it soon becomes obvious there’s perception and reality. To those who’ve never been there, four-month tours are an endless rush of packed houses, frenzied crowds, free beer in the green room, and mega sales at the merch table. What no one ever tells rookie musicians is that few things in this world are more unpleasant than the drive from Thunder Bay to Toronto. And that no one ever got a good night’s sleep on the floor of a van in the middle of a Minnesota winter. And that Mike Watt’s “Piss-Bottle Man” might as well be the only thing playing on the van stereo, because no one is stopping at a rest area unless you’re legitimately touching cloth. You know who can vouch for all of the above? That would D.O.A.’s Joe Keithley, who’s been piling into tour vans since Ronald Reagan was first making plans to move into the White House. In case that doesn’t

Scan to conffess

No one is stopping at a rest area until you’re legitimately touching cloth.

Joe Keithley gets the cartoon treatment in “It Was D.O.A.”, which might make your back hurt.

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.

I’m a straight guy And what with the creeps & stuff nowadays.....I don’t bother saying hi to any women I don’t know nor do I even look at them, in fact I hardly go out anymore, it’s just not worth it (btw I don’t even say hi to men or look at them either)

People think I am smart but I know I am stupid. How do I let them know and get away from the expectations? I was always a good kid with straight A’s at school but since i started university, i cant study at all. I dont want to. I feel depressed and stupid all the time. But my family and friends think i am the same smart kid at school. I am barely passing school with a 2.2 gpa. I dont know how i ended up here. I feel i am living a lie. I just want to let them know that i cant do what they want me to do.

Bored with money... I’ve never had money before now suddenly I got a chunk of change and no idea what to do with it. Not enough to buy a house, but enough that I don’t gotta work for a bit if I don’t wanna. But what do I do with it? Should I invest? Put it in an RRSP? GameStop stock? Lol jk... Just use it to live? I don’t really want a vehicle as I hate driving and there’s no other bigger items I really need since I rent. I also don’t wanna waste it...

Visit 12

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

to post a Confession APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

paint a clear enough picture, that means over 40 years of touring not just Canada and the United States, but nearly every corner of the world. Think five continents, somewhere around 50 countries, and a staggering 4,000-plus shows. While Keithley has always been the main man at the mike, the support cast behind him has revolved over the years to the point where tracking who’s been in and out now requires a massive family tree. So what’s life been like in D.O.A.? Well, you can ask someone who’s been there. Or, in the event that you don’t know how to work the messaging part of Facebook, you

can hunker down, hop onto YouTube, and watch the new video for “It Was D.O.A.”, from the band’s 18th album, Treason. With Reid Blakley taking care of the animation, things start out with the question “Hey, Man, you ever work for D.O.A.?” And from there, in a ripping and concise two minutes and 38 seconds, everything is pretty much laid out. There’s the five-dollar per diem , with a two-buck raise being a possibility but not necessarily guaranteed. And the roadside breakdowns, bottle chucking, and battles with the skinhead nation. And confirmation that, should you have to take a leak on the Interstate, you’re doing it in a beer can, probably while “Piss-Bottle Man” blares on the stereo. So what is the most lasting memory for those who’ve spent endless hours in the van with Keithley? Hint (as stated in the song): “My back still aches when I hear that name.” That’s right, no one ever tells you that human beings weren’t expected to spend 10 hours a day in a sitting position in a van unless their life goals include having to gobble Robax, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and Tylenol like they are Skittles. You’ve been warned. g

Music TIP SHEET

$25, and bundles include a post-show VIP solo set and Q & A with Nebeker and a limited-edition silkscreen poster illustrated by drummer Ryan Dobrowski. For more information, visit boxofficemandolin/com.

JUST BECAUSE LIVE events have been cancelled doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some musical thrills. Here are two upcoming highlights this month. c BLIND PILOT (5:30 p.m., April 8 and 15) Timbre Concerts has announced that it is partnering with Blind Pilot (photographed above) to bring fans of the group access to two livestreamed performances this month. The Oregon indie folk-pop band—led by singerguitarist Israel Nebeker—will perform live from the Liberty Theater in Astoria, Oregon. Single-ticket options start at

c SKY STREAM (6 p.m. to 8 p.m., April 16, 23, and 30) The Whistler Ski & Snowboard Festival has just announced the musical acts for its Sky Stream online concert series this year. The event will feature performances by SkiiTour, the Hairfarmers, Case of the Mondays, DJ Foxy Moron, tyMetal, Bangers & Mash, and the Prophet. “The Whistler Ski & Snowboard Festival has always been part of our end-of-season ritual and a much-anticipated event for our community,” Whistler mayor Jack Crompton said in a news release. For more information, visit wssf.com. g


MOVIES / TV

Godzilla vs. Kong is a titanic battle of the beasts by Norman Wilner

MOVIE REVIEW GODZILLA VS. KONG

Starring Alexander Skarsgård and Millie Bobby Brown. Available on digital platforms and at drive-in theatres

d THE TITLE SAYS it all. The culmination of Warner’s “MonsterVerse” series—which began in 2014 with Godzilla and quickly gave us Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla, King Of The Monsters—is a battle royale between two of cinema’s greatest battle beasts, scaling things up in every way from 1962’s pleasantly cheesy King Kong Vs. Godzilla. Adam Wingard works the same trick he pulled with You’re Next, The Guest, and even his Blair Witch sequel, taking a genre apart to remind us what we love about it. It may not come as a surprise that the thing we love about kaiju movies is giant monsters punching each other, but there you go. Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t change things much from Michael Dougherty’s 2019 Godzilla, King Of The Monsters, which also worked to deliver supersized monster fights while a handful of puny human scientists ran around the periphery trying not to get squished. This one just delivers a more satisfying version of that premise, paring down the monsters to a couple of primary combatants with very basic motivations: as “alpha titans”, Kong and Godzilla just want to crush one another on sight. (Screenwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein also offer a decent explanation

Godzilla vs. Kong takes the premise of 2019’s Godzilla, King of the Monsters and pares things down to the two titular alpha titans who simply want to pummel the daylights out of each other.

for Kong’s absence from the last picture: Monarch, the supersecretive global organization that monitors monster activity, has been keeping him isolated since the ’70s.) As for the human characters, they’re still in the way. King Of The Monsters costars Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown are back as the remaining members of the Russell family: Mark runs Monarch these days, walking around with a clipboard looking important, and Maddie is in high school, listening to conspiracy podcasts about a sinister cybernetics company. Science has really levelled up in these movies: in the eight years since Godzilla first made landfall, we’ve gone from Windows 10 to antigravity ships, underground mag-

lev trains, organic AI, and more. We also meet obligatory fringe scientist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård), who has expanded on the Hollow Earth theory first put forward in Skull Island and who also has theories about genetic memory that could allow Kong to find his way back to his ancestral homeland. This gets him recruited by an industrialist (Demián Bichir) who happens to run the aforementioned cybernetics company and is looking for a fabled power source that might help him with… something and who reconnects with Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), a Monarch scientist who has been working with Kong for the past decade. She has a foster daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who is deaf and communicates in sign language.

This will be important later. Meanwhile. Maddie and a nervous pal (Hunt For The Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison) track down her favourite conspiracy podcaster (Brian Tyree Henry) who has some ideas about why Godzilla attacked that cybernetics company. Those of us who grew up on the original Godzilla movies might have some ideas about that too, and the movie knows it: Godzilla vs. Kong is structured to deliver a series of nostalgic spikes, building their narrative from Toho’s greatest hits and all of the previous King Kong movies, including Peter Jackson’s epic 2005 remake and the regrettable King Kong Lives. (It also manages to fit in elements of Conan the Barbarian and, somehow, Lethal Weapon 2.) There’s an undiscovered world where nature has run wild, kids running around solving problems the grown-ups can’t, technology creating more problems than it solves, the lyrical image of a giant ape on a big boat… And, of course, full-on furious combat between giant monsters. It’s all played on the razor’s edge of straight and silly, with action sequences that are beautifully lit, convincingly choreographed, and genuinely spectacular. As in all of these fi lms, the monsters are allowed to fight strategically, displaying some level of intelligence and even character. And in Godzilla vs. Kong, there’s a genuine thrill in realizing a fi lmmaker is playing with almost nine decades of cinematic history and having the very best time. g

Kim’s Convenience cast get their own TV shows

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by Kevin Ritchie

he popular TV show Kim’s Convenience might be coming to an end, but one of the characters will live on in a spinoff series. CBC has announced that Nicole Power will reprise her role of Shannon Ross in the situation comedy Strays. The show, developed by Kim’s Convenience cocreator Kevin White, will follow Shannon “as she embarks on a new career in Hamilton”, the network said. The ensemble cast includes Frank Cox-O’Connell, Tina Jung, Nikki Duval, and Kevin Vidal, among others. The spin-off has been in development since July 2018 and is currently in production, suggesting that perhaps Shannon was destined to say goodbye before Kim’s Convenience showrunner and cocreator Ins Choi decided to leave, precipitating the sitcom’s surprise cancellation. Meanwhile, another Kim’s Convenience star has landed a new gig on a CBC series. Andrew Phung, who plays Kimchee, has

Andrew Phung, who plays Kimchee on Kim’s Convenience, is cocreating Run the Burbs, while Nicole Power will continue in her role as Shannon Ross in the new ensemble sitcom Strays.

cocreated the comedy series Run the Burbs with fi lmmaker Scott Townend. The series is about “a young, bold Canadian family taking a different approach to

living life to the fullest in the suburbs”, according to a show description. Phung plays a stay-at-home dad with an entrepreneur wife and two kids.

Both shows are slated to air on CBC during the 2021-2022 season. “Both of these series were planned to join Kim’s Convenience on our comedy lineup this upcoming year, to reflect how many young Canadians are forging new lives outside of urban centres in Canada,” CBC’s general manager of entertainment, factual, and sports Sally Catto said in a statement. “We look forward to watching Andrew and Nicole as they explore these new stories.” In early March this year, CBC announced that Kim’s Convenience would conclude in April after five seasons. “Our two co-creators confirmed they were moving on to other projects. Given their departure from the series, we have come to the difficult conclusion that we cannot deliver another season of the same heart and quality that has made the show so special,” the network said. The show has since been nominated for 11 Canadian Screen Awards. g

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

13


SAVAGE LOVE

Partner might use past cheating as control issue by Dan Savage

b I’M A 29-YEAR-OLD straight male. I’ve been with my 25-year-old partner for six years. I love her and think that we are perfect for each other. We have all the things that make existing with someone wonderful. But about two years into our relationship I had a two-week-long affair while I was out of the country. I fucked up. I came clean to my partner and we’ve done our best to work through this over the last four years, but it has obviously caused some trust issues between us. I’ve never cheated it again and I try every day to work through these issues I caused in our relationship. There’s also been two recent instances of me breaking her trust. On a particularly stressful day I was caught sneaking a cigarette—the sneaking part is the issue—and on another occasion I did drugs in our communal back garden with a friend after she had gone to bed. I owned up to both straight away. I view both of these as being a symptom of the lockdown/pandemic prompting me to break with my “normal” behavior. But partner is no longer comfortable allowing me to have the freedom to go out with my friends and partake in drugs without her express permission, which she already said she’s unlikely to grant me. The other element to this is, we want kids in three years. We’ve agreed that I will fully abstain from all drugs after we become parents. My problem is that I am trapped between a desire to meet the wants of my partner while also maintaining a degree of autonomy. When we discuss these matters—which we’ve been doing frequently lately—her argument boils down to this: “You did a bad thing; you need to make concessions so that I feel safe; you having to seek my permission makes me feel safe.” It’s coming to loggerheads, and I don’t know if I’m the unreasonable one here, especially since I’m arguing for the freedom to do an illegal drug. I would appreciate your external, outside, drug-positive perspective in this. - Don’t Really Understand Girlfriends Sentiment

I had some emergency dental work done this morning and I’m a little strung out on… what are those things called again? Oh, right: drugs. Last night I selected the letters I wanted to respond to in this week’s column and I really didn’t expect to be on powerful painkillers when I sat down to write my responses today. In all honesty, I probably shouldn’t be operating advice machinery at the moment, but deadlines are deadlines. You should take my advice with a grain silo or two of salt, DRUGS, and everyone else should just skip this week’s column entirely.

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Dan Savage advises a cheater who came clean and took responsibility to be wary of a partner’s seeming attempts to use the issue for future control purposes. Photo by Antonio Guillem/Getty.

You had an affair…and you made the mistake of telling your girlfriend… – Dan Savage

Okay! Drugs! Here we go! My outside, external, drug-positive-but-with-caveats (see below) perspective on your dilemma boils down to this: do not make babies with this woman. Don’t scramble your DNA together with hers—not unless it makes your dick hard to think about begging this woman for permission every time you wanna smoke a little pot with a friend or take a fucking shit for the next 40 years. (And, trust me, you’re still going to want to smoke pot after the babies come.) If that kind of begging excites you, great. Have all the fucking babies. But if that doesn’t excite you… Dude, run the fuck away. Yeah, yeah: you did a bad thing. You had an affair four years ago and you made the mistake of telling your girlfriend about it even though 1. she most likely was never going to find out about it, and 2. you quickly came to regret it. Your regret wasn’t instantaneous—like you, DRUGS, your regret took a couple of weeks to come—but the fact that you haven’t cheat-

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

ed on her since is a pretty good indication that your regret was sincere. And now here you are four years later, DRUGS, waking up every day and getting back to work on those trust issues. Because you’re still in trouble. Because you made the mistake of telling your girlfriend about an affair she would never have known about if you had kept your mouth shut. But, you know, come to think of it, maybe it was a good thing that you told your girlfriend about the affair, DRUGS. Not because honesty is always the best policy. The famed couples counsellor, author, podcaster, and Ted Talker Esther Perel urges people who’ve had affairs to consider the “burden of knowing” before they disclose. If you sincerely regret the affair and it’s not going to happen again and your partner is not in any physical risk and is unlikely to hear about the affair from a third party, sparing them the burden of knowing is the next most loving thing a person can do. (Not cheating at all would, of course, be the most loving thing a person can do.) So to be clear, DRUGS, I don’t think telling your girlfriend was the right thing to do because all affairs must be disclosed. I think telling your particular girlfriend was the right thing to do because she’s telling on herself now. If she doesn’t feel like she can trust you ever again—and if she’s constantly on the lookout for new reasons why she can’t trust you—then she needs to end this relationship. But she hasn’t ended the relationship, DRUGS, and you need to ask yourself why she hasn’t. I have a hunch: she hasn’t ended it because she likes it this way.

Someone who cheats and gets caught and discloses and wants to make it right can expect to spend some time, well, making it right. They should expect to spend some time in the doghouse and, to extend the metaphor, they should expect to spend some time on a short leash. But a person can’t spend the rest of their life in the doghouse. A cheater has to take responsibility and be considerate about insecurities that the affair may have created or worsened. But if a cheater has done all that and years later the person cheated won’t let them out of the doghouse—or is constantly finding new reasons to keep the cheater in the doghouse—then the doghouse is where the cheated wants the cheater. Forever. Which means instead of being angry you cheated on her, DRUGS, on some level your girlfriend is delighted you cheated on her. Because the wrong thing you did allows her to control you for the rest of your life. But it shouldn’t. And if she insists it does or that it should, DRUGS, you should leave her. About those caveats: you don’t specify the drug you used in the backyard with your friend but I’m gonna assume it was weed, which is legal where I live but not where you live. There is, of course, a big difference between stepping out to smoke a little pot after the girlfriend has gone to bed and sneaking out to smoke a lotta meth. And if you’re an addict and a little pot has led to a lot of harder drugs in the past, your girlfriend’s zero-tolerance policy might be justified. But if we’re not talking about hard drugs and you don’t have addiction issues, DRUGS, you shouldn’t have to beg your girlfriend’s permission in advance—which she’s denied in advance—to smoke a little pot with a buddy. b I’VE BEEN LISTENING to old episodes of the Savage Lovecast while working from home. Yesterday I heard you explain to straight male listeners that their straight female partners would say “yes” to sex more often if “sex” didn’t always mean the woman getting fucked. That really resonated with me, a straight woman with a male partner. When my husband came onto me the next night and I didn’t feel like opening up to get basted, instead of saying “no” I offered to jerk him off while he sucked my tits. It was great—for both of us! Total win! Thank you, Dan Savage! - Joyfully Enjoying Relevant Knowledge

You’re welcome , JERK! It’s always nice to hear from folks who’ve taken my advice and didn’t regret it! g Email: mail@savagelove.net. Follow Dan on Twitter @ FakeDanSavage. Website: www.savagelovecast.com.


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JUNE 25 – JULY 2 / 2020 THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT 3 APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 15


WE’RE HERE

FOR YOU,

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

Vancouver’s News & Entertainment Weekly

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

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

APRIL 8 – 15 / 2021

Profile for The Georgia Straight

The Georgia Straight - Agent of Change - April 8, 2021  

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