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JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021 | FREE Volume 55 | Number 2783

SEEKING BUYERS

Region’s oldest house listings

MENOPAUSE MAVEN Dr. Jen Gunter shatters myths

JAZZ FEST The Vancouver-based Snotty Nose Rez Kids get personal; plus, Helen Sung, Alvaro Rojas, and Tonye Aganaba

ARITZIA TAKEOVER

VIFF BOSS

BRITANNIA’S FUTURE

CHINESE DINING


FINANCE / NEWS

Aritzia announces purchase of Vancouver’s Reigning Champ

CONTENTS

June 17-24 / 2021

7

COVER

Snotty Nose Rez Kids get personal as they ready themselves for a TD Vancouver International Jazz Fest show.

by Charlie Smith

By Mike Usinger Cover photo by Matt Barnes

4

HEALTH

Did you know that women can get pregnant after their final menstrual period? That’s one of the little-known facts in The Menopause Manifesto. By Charlie Smith

11

A

Aritzia remained profitable through the pandemic, unlike many other retailers. Photo by Ingfbruno.

Vancouver-based womenswear giant is expanding into men’s fashion. This week, Aritzia announced that it has a “definitive agreement to acquire Reigning Champ”, which manufactures premium athletic clothing. Under the terms of the deal, Aritzia is buying a 75 percent stake in the Vancouver athleticwear company for $63 million, with plans to purchase the remaining 25 percent in three installments between 2024 and 2026. The sale will close this month.

“Building on Aritzia’s strong start to fiscal 2022, this acquisition meaningfully accelerates our product expansion into men’s while bringing incremental growth to our already surging women’s ecommerce and U.S. businesses,” Aritzia chairman and CEO Brian Hill said in a news release. In 1984, Hill created Aritzia, which operates more than 100 boutiques. The company withstood the pandemic quite well, posting net income of $19.2 million on $857.3 million in revenues in the 2021 fiscal year. g

G ranville Island PROMOTED

In the last federal budget, the Liberal government provided $22 million for rent subsidies and infrastructure upgrades— thanks to the efforts of Vancouver Centre Liberal MP Hedy Fry.

Brenda Bailey, MLA for Vancouver–False Creek, wants folks to visit Granville Island.

d GRANVILLE ISLAND has been hit hard during the pandemic. That’s because this shopping, arts, and culinary zone is such a popular tourist destination.

The NDP MLA for Vancouver–False Creek, Brenda Bailey, has also stepped up. In a June 14 speech in the legislature, she urged people to visit. “The island is home to 275 businesses and facilities that employ more than 2,500 people and generate more than $215 million in economic activity in a normal year,” Bailey said in her speech.

by Charlie Smith

FOOD

Four new Chinese restaurants in Metro Vancouver that launched during the COVID-19 pandemic have been named Game Changers. By Craig Takeuchi

e Online TOP 5

e Start Here

13 15 14 2 12 10 12 2 14

ARTS CLASSIFIEDS CONFESSIONS FINANCE I SAW YOU LIQUOR MOVIES NEWS SAVAGE LOVE

Vancouver’s News and Entertainment Weekly Volume 55 | Number 2783 #300 - 1375 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6H 0B1 T: 604.730.7000 F: 604.730.7010 E: gs.info@straight.com 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 ART DEPARTMENT MANAGER Janet McDonald

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

1 2 3 4 5

B.C. home sales and prices fall for second month after market peaked in March. Antivaxxer prepared to die but says he’d “rather take all of them with me first”. COVID-19 in B.C.: Expanded gatherings, theatres open, and travel within province. Roger Waters angrily rejects Facebook’s offer to use his song in Instagram ad. RCMP draws attention to car stuck between boulders on Surrey beach. @GeorgiaStraight

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

THANK YOU FOR RECYCLING THIS NEWSPAPER. 2

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

3


HEALTH

Doc demolishes myths in The Menopause Manifesto

B

by Charlie Smith

estselling author, obstetrician, and gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter has a lot to say about menopause. In a phone interview with the Straight from her home in San Francisco, she discussed everything from bone health to bladder issues to brain fog—all of which can surface at this time of life. “Not everybody has a problematic menopause transition,” Gunter said. “Some people have very normal symptoms. I think it’s important for people to know there’s a wide range. And there’s lots of things you can do about it if you do have symptoms.” She’s distilled much of what she’s learned on this topic for her new book, The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health With Facts and Feminism. Then there’s the issue of pregnancy and menopause, which she also addresses in The Menopause Manifesto. “I think it’s just really important for people to understand that there’s always a potential pregnancy until you’re a year after your last period—until we know you’re truly menopausal,” Gunter said. “How badly someone doesn’t want to be pregnant is something that only they know.” As an example, she said there might be

Dr. Jen Gunter became a bestselling author with The Vagina Bible, but when she went on tour to talk about it, women bombarded her with questions about menopause. Photo by TED Talk.

47-year-olds who don’t care if they get pregnant. Then there are those who definitely don’t want this, so they should keep using contraception during the months after their final menstrual period. “You can only make an informed choice

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if you have all the information,” she stated. Gunter decided to write about menopause while on tour discussing her previous book, The Vagina Bible, which has been translated into 19 languages. She was surprised by the number of women who wanted to ask questions about menopause, convincing her of the need for an authoritative, reader-friendly book on the issue. When asked about the biggest misconceptions regarding menopause, she replied that too many people believe there are no treatments for women who are suffering with symptoms. Gunter cited another falsehood: that treatments are “overly risky”. Then there’s the belief—held by some doctors—that symptoms start after the final menstrual period; she said they begin years before, during the menopause transition. “The most common symptoms are hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and vaginal

dryness,” Gunter noted. “Some people have joint pain.” Other symptoms can include minor depression and temporary brain fog. There’s even a chart in the book that links certain symptoms to associated medical conditions. For example, hot flashes and night sweats could be connected to osteoporosis. Pain with sex might be related to Type 2 diabetes. And joint pain can be a sign of urinary-tract infections. The Menopause Manifesto also includes a stark warning about cardiovascular issues. A symptom of this might be abnormal menstrual bleeding, which can include heavy and/or irregular periods and bleeding between periods. “One in three women will die from heart disease,” Gunter said. “That’s not reflected in the headlines or in what we see. I mean, most women are shocked to learn that fact.” She also said that headlines about hormone therapy are much scarier than what people will learn once they “actually get the facts”. Th is is why she advises people to keep an open mind on this issue. Gunter noted that hormone therapy is not a cure but can help alleviate symptoms associated with the menopausal transition and stave off osteoporosis. She added that if women are not experiencing symptoms and have no concerns about osteoporosis, then they obviously don’t need treatment. “I would say, in general, for women who are under the age of 60 or less than 10 years from their final menstrual period—if they are otherwise healthy and not at a very high risk for cardiac disease or breast cancer—that menopausal hormone therapy is a very low-risk therapy,” Gunter said. g


HOUSING

Three of Metro Vancouver’s oldest house listings

R

by Carlito Pablo

Major noted that although the seller slowly reduced the price by almost $700,000, the house still hasn’t sold. The home’s 2021 assessed value comes to $2,269,000. “The list price is a relatively reasonable 32 percent premium to assessed value,” Major said.

ealtor Adam Major says he and his team often get calls from buyers asking if a house is still available. “For the last few months, whenever someone asks that question, the answer is usually, ‘No, the house has already sold,’ or, ‘The house already has an accepted offer,’ ” Major, managing broker of Holywell Properties, told the Straight. Major, also CEO of the company’s realestate information site, Zealty.ca, added that there are always exceptions. With that said, he shared some of the oldest Metro Vancouver house listings that have yet to find a buyer.

2037 EAST BROADWAY, VANCOUVER

7307 ANGUS DRIVE, VANCOUVER

This property was first listed on January 16, 2017, for $3,698,000. The price has been reduced to $2,999,000. The listing states: “Tastefully renovated English Rudor [sic] home located in South Granville area. 56 × 120 lot and over 3000 sq.ft. finished area with 3 bedrooms up and 2 bedroom nany suite down with separate entrance. Beautiful chef ’s kitchen completed with marble counter top, custom cabinets & stainless steel appliances,

The seller of 7307 Angus Drive has dropped the home’s asking price by almost $700,000.

remodelled bathrooms and built-in custom cabinets in master bedroom, leaded glass window and original oak hardwood floor. Beautiful West facing backyard with fruit tree.”

The home was listed on April 18, 2017. The asking price is unchanged at $3 million. The listing states: “FOR LAND ASSEMBLY. Please do not disturb the owners. The lot area/land size and finished floor area are based on BC Assessment; the room dimensions are approximate. All information, measurements and dimensions are to be independently verified by Buyer.” Major noted that the 90-year-old home features four bedrooms and two baths. The listing price is “only” 133 percent above its 2021 assessed value of $1.289 million. “On East Broadway, the seller is clearly hoping to capitalize on future development potential and ‘land assembly’, as there are two neighbouring homes listed for the same price, though they have only been active for a year,” Major noted. Major added that the home directly

across the street sold for $1.588 million in 2020. And with that sold price, Major noted that the seller of 2037 East Broadway may be a “bit optimistic in their asking price”. 9974 138 STREET, SURREY

The home was listed on August 1, 2016, for $1,350,000. The asking price has since been increased to $2 million. The listing states: “REIN’s [Real Estate Investment Network] No. 1 pick for BC real estate investment. In the CORE of Surrey City Centre, 3 blocks from the K/G [King George] Skytrain Station & CC [Central City] Mall/SFU, 1/2 block to the new 45-storey developing high-rises. Great location, current OCP design with 2.5 FAR, great potential for future rezoning. Clean and spacious rancher on the land makes this as a solid holding property.” Major noted that the current asking price is more than double the assessed value of $900,200. According to him, if a house doesn’t sell in Surrey’s Whalley area, the seller usually simply increases the price so it becomes “more desirable” and, “Bam, the buyers move in!” “For some reason, that hasn’t worked here,” he said. g

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5


REAL ESTATE

Britannia site may include homes, but how many?

T

by Carlito Pablo

he idea of building homes as part of the renewal of the Britannia Community Services Centre remains controversial as ever. This is ref lected in a call by the City of Vancouver for consultations about housing at the site. “Project partners understand that there is not consensus in the community regarding the addition of non-market housing through the Britannia Renewal,” the city’s advisory stated. Britannia opened in 1976 as an integrated hub of services in East Van’s Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood. The seven-hectare location hosts a community centre, childcare, public library, youth centre, swimming pool, ice rink, and public schools. In 2011, the Straight reported about the results of a local survey that favour Britannia continuing to serve as a community place. The poll did not support housing. It was then–Vision Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs who pushed for housing as part of the renewal. In 2016, the Straight reported that city council approved a new community plan for Grandview-Woodland. City planners suggested that council may want to consider mixed-income, nonmarket rental housing as one possible direction for Britannia. Meggs, now the premier’s chief of staff, proposed an amendment that was adopted. The final plan, as it pertains to Britannia, seeks to “mobilize air space parcels in the Britannia site…for social housing through co-location with other public facilities”. Later in the same year, the Straight reported about principles drawn up by the Britannia Community Services Centre

The city’s preferred Britannia master-plan option places most of the proposed community facilities along the Parker Street right of way cascading to McLean Drive. Photo by City of Vancouver.

You would lose most of us if they try to put market rentals in there. – community activist Jak King

Society (BCSCS). The nonprofit manages the site in collaboration with the city, school board, park board, and public library. The city and school board own the land. The principles laid out by BCSCS in 2016

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included one that seeks to prioritize “all parts of the Britannia site, including potential air space parcels, for community centre, school, library, and green/open space use”. The first round of consultations by the city happens on June 19, June 22, and June 24, 2021. A second round follows in the fall. The Straight spoke to Jak King, a local historian and community activist, in light of the city’s call for consultations. King said in a phone interview that he supports housing as long as it is done right. This means that 100 percent of the units would be nonmarket and affordable homes. “You would lose most of us if they try to put market rentals in there,” King said in a phone interview. The master plan approved by council in July 2018 for the Britannia renewal provides for 200 to 300 units of nonmarket housing.

“Three hundred is probably too many, because I think you have to put eight- or nine-storey buildings to accommodate those,” King said. Craig Ollenberger is the president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC), a grassroots organization. He also sits on the board of the nonprofit BCSCS. Ollenberger emphasized to the Straight that neither GWAC nor BCSCS has taken an official position on housing in Britannia. For the interview, he spoke in his capacity as GWAC president. He said there are strong reservations among neighbourhood residents about the impact of housing on the site. “People are concerned that if you put a large amount of housing on the site that that compromises the site as a community-centre site and makes it sort of a dual-focused site, where it may be quite overwhelmed by housing,” Ollenberger said by phone. He also cited concerns that if air parcels are dedicated for housing, then this would also “compromise the potential future uses of that space for an expanded community centre should the need arise”. Ollenberger said there are people who are set on the notion that Britannia should remain a dedicated community-centre space. There are also others, he noted, who are comfortable with the idea of a small number of housing units for individuals who need support from the community centre. However, Ollenberger added that these same people are “worried that if they say, ‘Yeah, we would take a couple of storeys, maybe 30 units, 40 units,’ whatever, that the city will take that and be like, ‘Okay, green light—let’s do 200 units.’ ” In other words, he said, “They don’t have a trust relationship with the city.” g

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JAZZ FEST

Snotty Nose Rez Kids make their politics personal

I

by Mike Usinger

f there’s been an upside to being stuck at home for the past year, it’s that Snotty Nose Rez Kids have kept busy. Haisla rappers Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce have pretty much completed a follow-up to 2019’s TRAPLINE—a culture-shifting triumph centred on the importance of respect: for the environment, for women, and for the history of Indigenous people in Canada. While there’s no title yet for the new record, there’s definitely a through-line connecting the songs. From the 2017 albums Snotty Nose Rez Kids and The Average Savage to TRAPLINE, Snotty Nose Rez Kids have tended to focus on the political. That’s continued with singles released during lockdown—the deliriously woozy “Something Else” was inspired by CNN labelling North America’s Indigenous people as, well, “something else” during the last U.S. election. “The Average Savage, self-titled record, and TRAPLINE were all so politically charged,” Metz notes. “With this one, there’s still some of that in there, but it’s not all political. We just felt like it was time for us to tell our story—the raw realities that we grew up with. For me, personally, growing up I was surrounded by alcohol abuse and drug addiction. “When I was growing up, surrounded by that environment, music was what I turned to,” he continues. “That made me feel like I wasn’t alone. The way that we’re looking at it, is ‘Yo, the way we’re feeling, or the way we felt, we can promise and guarantee there’s some other young ’un out there who is going through the same thing, if not worse.’ So they could use a big bro. And that’s what this record is going to be.” GROWING UP IN NORTHWESTERN British Columbia’s Kitamaat Village, Metz and Nyce oved hip-hop on all levels. But they didn’t finish high school with the goal of starting Snotty Nose Rez Kids. “My parents adopted a lot of kids when I was growing up, so we had a lot of kids coming in and out of the house,” Nyce says. “My dad always made sure there was food on the table, and that he could provide for his family. That was, to him, his job.” His proudly blue-collar father did that job well. That instilled in Nyce the importance of self-sufficiency, stability, and hard work. “He wanted me to take a trade,” he says. “But that wasn’t my thing, so I went to business school for two years. I wanted to start a clothing company, and still do.” After leaving school, Nyce did service work up north for companies like Ledcor. “Then I realized I wanted to be a rapper,” he says with a laugh. “Funnily enough, they were really supportive when I made

that gets engraved in their mind. Non-Indigenous folks will think ‘Oh, yeah—savages!’ It all becomes normalized.”

After going the political route with their previous releases, Haisla Nation rappers Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce have decided to get personal. Photo by Matt Barnes.

Each time my hair would get a bit longer, my lyrics would start to change. – Darren “Young D” Metz

that decision. My dad just wanted to make sure that I had a backup plan.” Metz’s mom was briefly less than thrilled when her son announced that he was leaving university—where he was studying accounting—to go into music. “I remember,” he says, “telling her ‘Mom—I’m not happy, and I can’t see myself doing this, sitting at a desk and counting numbers all day the rest of my life until I’m grey-haired. But I really love this music, and I want to pursue that.’ ” Metz eventually moved to Vancouver in the fall of 2015 to study music, reconnecting with Nyce, who’d landed in the Lower Mainland the previous year. “We formed SNRK a year after I moved down,” Metz says. “We’d already made music together in the past, but we weren’t SNRK yet. Q was basically the only friend that I had, let alone the only artist that I knew, down here. We had a mixtape, start-

ed going to open-mic sessions, and people really started to love it. The crowds got bigger and bigger and bigger to the point where it was like ‘Man, let’s do an album.’ And the rest is history.” ASKED WHY SNOTTY Nose Rez Kids connected with audiences right off the starting line, Metz offers this: “For a lot of people, it was something that they’d never really heard before. When you think of hip-hop around 2016 and ’17, what we were doing was really different. Not only that, but we were Indigenous. And we were starting to tell our story after years of being silenced. I think that was the biggest thing.” Indeed, rather than rapping about Gucci loafers and bongs the size of Stonehenge, Snotty Nose Rez Kids quickly established themselves as a group determined to shred all mainstream perceptions of what it means to be Indigenous. “At the end of the day, we just wanted to tell our story, whether it was what we’ve gone through personally, what our parents went through, or what our grandparents went through,” Metz says. “We can only speak from our story, and our family, and that’s all we ever wanted to do. We just wanted to let the young ’uns out know ‘you’re beautiful, you’re worthy, and you’re a shining light in this world.’ Because a lot of us grew up with self-hatred. “And a lot of that had to do with stereotypes the media would display us in,” he continues. “You see movies like fucking Pocahontas or Peter Pan and, to young kids,

BOTH MUSICIANS describe Snotty Nose Rez Kids as part of an ongoing journey— one where they both continue to grow, and heal. Nyce reveals he lost a brother, who took his own life about a decade ago. “The first album we wrote was a healing tool for us,” he says. “It gave us space to talk about what happened, and why it happened.” Some of the journey is marked by artistic achievements, with Nyce praising Metz for handling most of the production duties on the upcoming full-length. But perhaps more importantly, Snotty Nose Rez Kids have positioned themselves as hugely important voices teaching a new generation of Indigenous kids to be proud of where they come from. “When I first moved to Vancouver,” Metz remembers, “I had a clean, buzzcut fade. And that’s when I decided to grow my hair. That was, shit, 2015—going on six years now. As we started to grow and move along with SNRK, my hair slowly but surely just started getting longer. And longer, and longer. Each time my hair would get a bit longer, my lyrics would start to change. When I had a buzzcut I was on some partying bullshit. As I started to grow my hair and find myself, you started to hear the activist come out and the storyteller come out—the voice of my ancestors come out. And it’s been a journey and a half, man.” The pandemic break was tough. “I went through some dark times this past year,” Nyce acknowledges. “We were at a point in our career where we felt like we were at a peak: there was an American tour, and the feeling that we were finally going to start making some real money and have experiences we’ve never had before. Then it all got derailed due to COVID. “I’m an extrovert who lives through experience, and who writes through experiences—a night out, or being on the road. So for me it was really hard to find my creative fire, or the spark that ignited my flame. For the first six months I had writer’s block.” To get out of it, Nyce eventually realized he needed to simply put his head down and started working. As we return to normalcy, there’s no shortage of work still to be done for Snotty Nose Rez Kids. “We just want to do our part,” Metz says. “And if it comes down to exposing the harsh truths of what we’ve been through, so be it.” g Snotty Nose Rez Kids play Performance Works on June 25 as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

7


JAZZ FEST

Sung celebrates jazz music’s High Priest of Bebop

F

by Ken Eisner

or a relatively recent convert to improvised music, New York–based pianist Helen Sung has a notable zeal for paying tribute to the jazz giants who informed her art. At this year’s edition of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival (streamed on June 26), she’ll lead an online trio date with veteran bassist Lonnie Plaxico and Steps Ahead drummer Steve Smith. Called “Bouncin’ with Bud”, the concert will celebrate the music of pianist and composer Bud Powell, a key figure in the postwar movement known as bebop, associated with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. “People tend to associate this music with Thelonious Monk,” Sung says on the line from her home in Queens, “but Bud Powell is closer to the Charlie Parker side of things, with his radical reharmonization of standard tunes. They actually called him the High Priest of Bebop; he had a unique take on stride, with more bass notes, a lot of strength and accuracy, and a pure kind of textured sound.” Sung herself favours a light touch, delivering an endless cascade of ideas for an effortless effect that’s rhapsodic but also authoritative and playfully darting. Born in Texas to Chinese immigrants who had zero interest in jazz or popular music, she grew up studying classical piano and violin at a performing-arts high school in Houston. She only encountered the jazz tradition at the University of Texas at

Houston-born Helen Sung studied classical piano and violin in high school before falling in love with jazz music and touring with Herbie Hancock and other great musicians. Photo by Joseph Boggess.

Austin, where she had what she describes as “a lightning-bolt moment”. She transferred to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, part of the New England Conservatory of Music. (It recently changed its name to the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.) She later got to tour Asia with Miles Davis veterans Hancock, Ron Carter, and Wayne Shorter, and while in school she learned from the last row of jazz giants still standing in the early 2000s,

such as Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, and Barry Harris—all gone now but never forgotten. “I think of them as the mighty T-Rexes,” she declares with a laugh, “ruling their world. But then the environment changed, and we’re still adjusting. More than technical information, they shared their lives with us. I mean, they literally risked everything to play in the Jim Crow South. These old guys practised tough love and really cared about us and the continuation of the music.”

While starting to record as leader and sidewoman, Sung started teaching at the Berklee College of Music and other prestigious schools. She’s still trying to balance her street knowledge with academia, but the pandemic took away much of the conflict when schools shut down last year. “It was very disorienting. But I ended up finally having the time to consider what I really want to do.” She’s also manifesting deeper explorations she undertook in 2019 as artistin-residence at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute, dedicated to studies of the human brain. Like Monk, Powell had mental issues that both fed into and sometimes thwarted his career. (Powell’s problems might have come partly from a beating by police, and the pioneering pianist died at age 41, in 1966.) Sung is too modest to mention that she was just named a Guggenheim Fellow for 2021, which means she’ll have more resources available for her hands-on journey through the jazz encyclopedia. “I still have a long way to go,” she admits. “But I feel like I’ve already faced the hardest part just by getting here. I know that playing jazz has made me the best version of who I am.” g Helen Sung performs a livestreamed show with Steve Smith and Lonnie Plaxico on June 26 as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

Rojas’s music evolves by reconnecting with identity

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by Ken Eisner

fter almost a century of Charlie Christians, Jeff Becks, and Eddie Van Halens, what’s left to be said with the electric guitar? Plenty, if you ask B.C. guitarist Alvaro Rojas. Actually, you don’t even have to ask him; he’ll answer that question on-stage at two disparate but intimately related shows at this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Thanks to things going viral in all the wrong ways, he’s had plenty of time to ponder musical history, as well as his own, in the two eventful years since the last live version of the fest, at which Rojas staged a massively ambitious concert called Gran Kasa, employing strings and electric instruments to create a barrage of sounds that managed to be both daring and accessible—descriptors that sit usefully on most of his music. “I just had so much time,” Rojas explains in a call from his Port Moody home. “Time to get sick of the whole Zoom thing and sort-of playing with others! I grew a lot as a musician over the past year or so, and this is my COVID project, basically. I took

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

I grew a lot as a musician over the past year or so… – Guitarist Alvaro Rojas

Alvaro Rojas says that his solo guitar show may be stripped down but it remains very electric.

the opportunity to develop my solo repertoire. And then I suddenly started hearing a string quartet in my head, and then more instruments on top of that.” The end product of that process is Alvaro Rojas’ Music for 22, a free show happening next Friday (June 25) at the Ironworks at 4:30 p.m. and available online. (At deadline, event planners were still determining how many audience members could

JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

be allowed in the venue.) The guitarist will also appear solo the following Sunday (July 4) for free at the Western Front, likewise at 4:30 p.m. “The solo show is stripped down but still very electric,” Rojas says. “It’s the same material, just without the other players. A lot of these tunes are based on guitar effects to begin with, so I set up a whole bunch of pedals and get a whole lot of sounds.” This torrent of aural effect doesn’t come from just anywhere, or even just from the history of the amplified guitar. Rojas was born in Peru and still has extended family in South America. But it took some time for the music of his infancy to resurface.

“I was a real child of the ’90s,” he explains. “I was into grunge and stoked on all kinds of music. But also I grew up listening to my parents’ music in the background.” The guitarist has also executed a couple of small-film scores, went in various twangy and surfadelic directions on an earlier album called Gala, and went all metallic prog rock on Hellenic Dub under the pseudonym Big Buck. But it wasn’t until he bumped into Afro Peruvian singing star Susana Baca that Rojas found a way to reconcile his competing impulses. “I saw her at a music festival,” he recalls, “and somehow had the nerve to accost her after the show and ask Susana to appear on my next record.” The incantatory result, “Tu, La Tierra”, is available through Bandcamp. “Identity is a funny thing,” Rojas says. “It takes a while to find out who you are and what you’re made of.” g Alvaro Rojas performs on June 25 at Ironworks and July 4 at the Western Front as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.


JAZZ FEST

Aganaba overcomes pain through soulful sounds by Steve Newton

their latest album, Something Comfortable, with a stripped-down band composed of guitarist Thomas Hoeller, keyboardist Mary Ancheta, bassist JeanSe Le Doujet, vocalist Corrina Keeling, and drummerpercussionist Aaron Hamblin. “We’ve been playing in this configuration since 2018,” Aganaba says, “and it’s been a beautiful journey. We went from a 15-person to a five-person band, but I’m excited for the way that the music is transforming.” Throughout the pandemic Aganaba has been inspired by the work of local artists such as Kimmortal, OZtwelve, and Dawn Pemberton. But there’s one album that they’ve had on repeat the entire time. ”I’m throwing myself under the bus a little bit

here because it’s not by a Vancouver artist,” they say, “but I’m gonna go ahead and plug it anyway, because I need to. The album is called Joy Techniques, and it’s by an American artist by the name of Nate Mercereau. “The first single from the album is called ‘This Simulation Is a Good One’, and I just think it’s such an apt reflection of the times that we’re living in, like every single truth that we have been holding sacred is being shaken to its foundation right now, and—I don’t know about you—but I’m ready to get out of this simulation.” g Tonye Aganaba performs a livestreamed show on June 30 as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, with limited in-person seating.

Tonye Aganaba was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years before fracturing their spine in six places in a car accident, but when they perform, the pain blows away. Photo by Liz Rosa.

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hen you go on YouTube and search for Tonye Aganaba, the first video that pops up is for a song called “We Ain’t Friends”. It’s a live performance recorded in late 2018 at East Van’s Blue Light Studio, and it features about 15 performers crammed together on a stage. The group sounds soulful and funky as hell, thanks in large part to the vocals of band leader Aganaba. If you’re thinking Chaka Khan in terms of the style, you’re not far off. When the Straight calls the singer— who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them—at home in the Renfrew-Collingwood area, Aganaba calls Khan the biggest influence in their life. “I feel a lot of affinity with her for a number of reasons,” Aganaba says, “primarily because she’s kind of been, over the years, denigrated for the very public drug use. And as a former illicit-substance user myself, I feel an affinity to those of us who are out there doin’ this work and get caught up in the mess of it all. But she’s always managed to hold herself with such grace and class in spite of all of that, and I respect her so much.” Born in England to parents of Nigerian and Zimbabwean descent before moving to Canada at 13, Aganaba developed a love of music at an early age. They’ve been singing for as long as they can remember. “Music is in my veins,” Aganaba states. “We come from a long line of music lovers and music appreciators and my dad really made sure that all of us were exposed to as much music as possible: took us to a lot of concerts, introduced us to incredible artists from around the world.” Aganaba’s musical career was thrown for a loop when, in early 2015, they were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Yet they’ve managed to turn that discovery into a positive.

MS allowed me to renew my relationship with myself and the people that I love... – Tonye Aganaba

“Obviously, being diagnosed with an incurable disease is heartbreaking,” Aganaba relates, “but what it has given me is an abundance of community and an opportunity to connect with what is truly important. Before MS, that was being on the road, hustling every night, making sure I was on-stage, etcetera, etcetera. “[MS] put a halt to all of that, and all I had to do was just focus on, ‘Okay, how do I live in this new paradigm, how do I live in this new body, and how do I make music in a way that allows me to feel nourished and full instead of depleted and wasted?’ MS allowed me to renew my relationship with myself and the people that I love, and also to find a way to connect with music in a way that heals my spirit and heals my body.” To add to the challenge, two years after the MS diagnosis, Aganaba was in a car accident that fractured their spine in six places—although you couldn’t tell that from the fluid stage moves on display at the aforementioned Blue Light sessions. “I’m real good when I get on-stage,” Aganaba explains, “and the pain blows away because endorphins are rushin’ and serotonin is pumpin’. But it takes me a day or two to recover after every show.” Aganaba expects to blow that pain away during an online jazzfest performance on June 30. They’ll be performing tunes from JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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FOOD/LIQUOR

Plenty of opportunities to get saucy with Lunch Lady

Appleton makes memories without a visit to Jamaica

by Charlie Smith

by Mike Usinger

unch Lady on Commercial Drive doesn’t really need a review. The place is almost always full because its food is so delicious. So if you’re inclined to try the new version of Vietnamese cooking—mainly street eats with bold, bright flavours—you should make a reservation. For those interested in the history of Lunch Lady, it was inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s coverage of a food stall by the same name in Ho Chi Minh City. “My first love—a place I remain besotted with, fascinated by,” is how Bourdain described it. The original Lunch Lady in Vietnam, Nguyen Thi Tan, shared her recipes with the founding partners of the Vancouver restaurant, Michael Tran, his mother Victoria, and Benedict Lim. It was their bad luck to launch the restaurant last year in the midst of a pandemic, but they’ve survived. On a recent dinner visit, my dining companion ordered three things that screamed out at us from the menu. The first was the street-style caramelized corn. It was sautéed and succulent, with an unusual, tangy taste that transported us from Vancouver to the Mekong Delta. Next up were two char-grilled and fairly substantial pork-belly skewers, marinated with plenty of garlic. While the corn had a red-chili aftertaste, the skewers left me with a lingering sweetness on the palate, almost like a drop of honey. The final dish was the garlic-fried noodles. This, too, came well flavoured with garlic, as well as with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s clear that garlic is a mainstay of Vietnamese street food, something I never knew before my first visit. And the Calamansi Soda Chanh cost $4, which is nicely priced for Vancouver. The server, Dexter, was great, offering personal advice on what to order. On a side note, patrons’ temperatures are taken before they enter as part of the restaurant’s COVID-19

s a valuable public service, we crack open spirits from B.C. to Bahrain and beyond, and then give you a highly opinionated, pocket flask–sized review.

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TODAY’S FREE POUR

Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Black River Casks THEIR WORDS

“Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Black River Casks is a tribute to the Black River that is integral to Jamaica’s rum history and the source of the limestone-filtered water used to craft our rums. The rums that make up Black River Casks are hand-selected and crafted with Jamaican limestone-filtered water, with no added flavors, and have all been aged for a minimum of 15 years in the tropical climate of Jamaica. Our 15 Year Old rum is perfect for sipping neat or on the rocks.” Lunch Lady offers juicy pork-belly skewers as an appetizer for dinner. Photo by Lunch Lady.

My first love—a place I remain besotted with, fascinated by. – Anthony Bourdain

safety protocols. There’s also Plexiglas separating diners as well as those at the bar. A hallmark of a good restaurant is if you would return. On that score, Lunch Lady passed this test with ease. g

Come visit our new Downtown & False Creek market locations this summer!

Find out more at eatlocal.org

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

TASTING NOTES

Get ready for something so grandly transporting, you’ll do anything to avoid breaking the spell. That’s a heads-up that Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Black River Casks smells almost insanely wonderful—like freshly cut Blue Mountains sugar-loaf pineapple, grilled tangelo slices, and molasses-heavy ginger cake. What do all three of those have in common? They’re deeply woven into the fabric of Jamaica, a madefor-Instagram tropical wonderland that you’re unfortunately not getting to any time soon. So close your eyes, inhale deeply, and picture yourself lounging on the white sands of Seven Mile Beach. Or floating aimlessly in the turquoise waters of Blue Lagoon. Or tucking into a plate of jerk chicken and roasted breadfruit at Scotchies in Montego Bay. And, no, it doesn’t matter that the closest you ever came to Jamaica is Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Legend. What’s in the glass is no less heavenly once it’s sipping time. Silky, slightly viscous, and crushed-velvet smooth, Appleton Estate Black River Casks is a bold and complex rum, heavy with notes of fresh vanilla bean caviar, orange-infused molasses, and toffee-coated Indian almonds. If that sounds beautifully elegant, that’s not by accident. COCKTAIL TIME

There are two lines of thinking that apply here. You know how, when you’re cooking, you tend to avoid using the good stuff— sorry 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon—and instead reach for the Wild Irish

Appleton Estate Black River Casks is a bold and complex rum infused with elegant flavours.

Rose, Carlo Rossi, or anything that comes in a box from Kelowna. Anthony Bourdain would have argued that you don’t put anything in your pasta sauce that you wouldn’t serve Francis Ford Coppola. In other words, you can’t make a quality meal, or cocktail, without using quality ingredients. So you’ve got a choice with Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Black River Casks. Option number one is using it in a liquor-forward cocktail like an Old Fashioned. A great base, after all, makes for a great cocktail. Don’t forget to stir it up! Option number two is neat, or, if you must, pouring it over an oversize ice cube. Ahh, memories of Jamaica—even if they’re only imagined. OLD FASHIONED

2.5 oz Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Black River Casks 0.5 oz simple syrup One dash Peychaud’s bitters Two dashes Angostura bitters Two dashes orange bitters Orange peel garnish Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass with large, cubed ice. Stir quickly until glass frosts, then strain into an Old Fashioned glass, over a large block ice or ice sphere. Finish it off with an orange twist. g


FOOD

Four Chinese restaurants named Game Changers

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by Craig Takeuchi

lthough all food and drink establishments faced challenges during pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, Asian eateries had to contend with operating at a time when anti-Asian sentiment—and, in particular, Sinophobia—was at an all-time high for many decades in Vancouver. Last year, reported anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver shot up by 717 percent over the previous year. This led Bloomberg to describe Vancouver as the anti-Asian hate-crime capital of North America. Accordingly, patrons who supported Asian restaurants during this time period were not only supporting those specific businesses but also conveyed acceptance of Asian Canadian people and culture. A local awards organization is shining a light on some Chinese culinary establishments that forged ahead with opening up during this difficult time and made an impression with a stellar level of food and hospitality. Vancouver’s Chinese Restaurant Awards (CRA) have named four establishments as “game changers” for culinary excellence and perseverance during the pandemic. These special awards were launched not only as the CRA’s mid-year accolades to

Chef’s Choice Chinese Cuisine (left), with Hong Kong and Guangdong dishes, and Old Bird, with a laid-back menu, were named Game Changers by Vancouver’s Chinese Restaurant Awards.

honour newcomers braving the challenges of launching during the pandemic, but also to kick off the season for the 2021 critics’ choice awards. The organization’s critics’-choice awards judging chair, Lee Man, chose these restaurants as “the fiercest contenders in Vancouver’s highly competitive culinary scene”,

and “because they each have something unique to say”, according to a news release. One of the winners is Chef’s Choice Chinese Cuisine (955 West Broadway), which opened this past January. It was noted as serving a menu of classic dishes from Hong Kong and Guangdong, such as Gold Coin Roasted Chicken and Steamed Thousand

Layer Cake, which includes custard, candied winter-melon bits, and salted duck egg yolk. Another winner, iDen and Quan Ju De Beijing Duck House (2808 Cambie Street), opened its doors in February 2020 and is already “regarded by many as the absolute standard bearer of Peking Duck”. The third establishment, Old Bird (3950 Main Street), launched in January 2020 with a menu featuring “an easygoing late-night flavour profile, but is still confidently focused and executed” and reflects “a distinctly Vancouver point of view while not losing its sense of self ”. The fourth eatery is Uncle’s Snack Shop (8180 Westminster Highway, Richmond), which opened in March. According to the Chinese Restaurant Awards, it provides “just the shot of exuberant joyfulness we need” and a “sense of youthful playfulness and energy…underscored with sharp cooking, well thought-out flavours, and a deep knowledge of traditional Asian techniques”. The 2021 critics’ choice signature dish awards will be announced on November 16. Other members of the 2021 judging panel are broadcaster William Ho Wood Kuen and food writers Brendon Mathews and Alexandra Gill. g

vancouver house • fresh st. market • 1423 Continental St. dine-in is now available • Open Everyday 11am-6pm JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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MOVIES

Fostner appointed as VIFF’s king of the world

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by Charlie Smith

ne of B.C.’s largest cultural organizations has named a new captain to steer the ship. On June 10, the Vancouver International Film Festival announced that its board has appointed Kyle Fostner as executive director. He has been filling that position on an interim basis for the past 18 months, since Jacqueline Dupuis resigned. “It is a tremendous honour and a great responsibility to be offered the opportunity to serve as executive director of VIFF—an organization with whom I have a longstanding and deeply passionate connection,” Fostner said in a news release. “The events of this past year have shown us just how interconnected and interdependent we are. VIFF is an organization that celebrates and strengthens these connections, both globally and locally. “I am excited to continue to build—and make accessible—a platform for our community of creators and voices,” he continued.

Together, we look forward to redefining what a film festival can be. – Kyle Fostner

Kyle Fostner was the interim executive director of VIFF for 18 months. Photo by Rick Collins.

“Together, we look forward to redefining what a film festival can be.” VIFF board chair Lucille Pacey noted in the release that Fostner joined VIFF in 2014 and “astutely guided” the organiza-

> Go on-line to read hundreds of I Saw You posts or to respond to a message < JASMINE, HIKING WEST VAN, LIGHTHOUSE PARK SHORELINE

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: JUNE 4, 2021 WHERE: Lighthouse Park On the shoreline we chatted, and exchanged #’s - but I lost yours! Please give me a call!

WHISTLING “FLY ME TO THE MOON” ON HARWOOD...

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: JUNE 10, 2021 WHERE: Harwood & Burrard, Vancouver I was waiting by my car on Harwood (by Burrard) this afternoon and saw a VERY cute guy in funky glasses happily whistling away, listening to music walking towards me. We caught each other’s eye and smiled. I asked him what he was whistling, and he said “Do you know Oscar Peterson Trio? (I nodded) Well, it’s Fly Me to the Moon... just love this song.” As he spoke, I detected a gorgeous Aussie accent (apologies if it’s kiwi!) and immediately wanted to go to wine bar and listen to more jazz music over a few bottles with this lovely fellow ;) But of course, I didn’t act on it, probably because he was just being friendly (which is awesome) - and I was waiting for someone to bring down an item to me, so we just kept smiling and wished each other a great eve. If you, the gorgeous lover of Oscar Peterson’s music ever happens upon this “I Saw You”, know that you made my day and I hope you continue to be such a bright light in the world. Connect if you’d like to Jazz it up sometime! ;)

I SAW YOU AT THE PARK ROYAL WHOLE FOODS

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TWO FUN RETIRED POSTAL CARRIER FRIENDS

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: JUNE 11, 2021 WHERE: Park Royal Whole Foods

I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: JUNE 1, 2021 WHERE: Downtown Granville St. Winners

I’ve never written one of these but I feel compelled to. I briefly saw you in line at the Whole Foods. You were 2 people behind me. You have dark hair, and you were wearing a dress and a coat. I had on a jean jacket and yellow shirt. We smiled at each other (I think?? We had masks on so it was one of those “eye smiles” haha). I think you had a dog with dark fur waiting outside too, and you were with another woman. You could be married for all I know, but I would like to figure that out. And I really want to see your smile :). Please send me a message if you somehow see this.

I was trying on a pair of shoes. We had lot’s of fun as we shared common age stories. LOL. I regret not exchanging contact info. Let’s have more laugh!

ROUNDABOUT KERFUFFLEBLENHEIM AND 10TH?

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by Radheyan Simonpillai

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: JUNE 5, 2021 WHERE: Main and Pender Standing outside of Propaganda Coffee today. I noticed you a half block away walking towards me on Pender with a small infant in a carriage. Then, as you walked by me we made eye contact and smiled and it seems the moment has stuck in my mind.

JJ BEAN LASER BEAM

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: JUNE 3, 2021 WHERE: Blenheim and 10th Area

I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: JUNE 5, 2021 WHERE: JJ Bean W. Broadway

I was ignorantly crossing the street and didn't see you approaching on your bike. You stopped for me, then I awkwardly told you to go. You smiled and let me cross. As I walked away I thought about your smile and how cute you were. I looked back at you and it seemed like you just finished looking back at me. You weren't wearing a helmet (safety's overrated) and you had random tattoos on your arms. I had green hair and a white dress on.

Good lord where to begin... Never written one of these, but I think this calls for one: I am in a relationship. Looks like you might have been there with your partner, too? But you caught my eye, and once you returned my glance, I was done. I still feel high off our eye contact, which is probably why I am making the compromising decision to post this... but oh well I guess I was smitten. HMU if somehow you see this AND you feel the same way.

JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

Fairy tale nymph surfaces as German historian in Undine

NANNY IN KNEE HIGHS

Visit straight.com to post your FREE I Saw You _ 12

tion through the pandemic. That included shifting to a “hugely successful digital film festival” in 2020. Fostner oversaw the $2.8-million renovation of VIFF Centre, which houses the Vancity Theatre on Seymour Street. The centre includes a new 41-seat Studio Theatre for small-audience shows, with retractable seating and a removable wall. There’s also a New Media Lab and an education suite. In the past, Fostner has been a musician and owned a web-based platform. In

addition, Fostner was general manager of Montreal music venues Casa Del Popolo and Sala Rossa from 2006 to 2014. The Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society is VIFF’s reporting entity to the Canada Revenue Agency. The society has not yet filed its T3010 registered-charity information return for the 2020 pandemic year. In 2019, it listed total revenue of $5.47 million and expenditures of $5.36 million. The largest amount, $2.4 million, came from the sale of goods and services that year. Another $1.26 million came from governments, including $626,852 from the federal government. An additional $433,604 flowed in from provincial and territorial governments, along with $204,000 from municipal and regional governments in 2019. That year, the society had two staff members earning between $80,000 and $119,999, and another eight who were paid from $40,000 to $79,999. g

In Christian Petzold’s Undine, Paula Beer delivers a riveting performance as a modern-day lecturer who explains how history manifests itself in Berlin’s art, buildings, and museums.

MOVIE REVIEW UNDINE

Directed by Christian Petzold. Starring Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski. In German with English subtitles. Streaming at VIFF Connect to July 8

CHRISTIAN PETZOLD’S work, typically, explores Germany’s past through a Hollywood-genre lens. His last two films—2015’s haunting Vertigo adaptation, Phoenix, and 2018’s existential riff on Casablanca, Transit—were two of the decade’s best. Petzold’s latest is an uncharacteristically playful lark—more puzzling than haunting. He adapts the European fairy tale

Undine, which is about a water nymph rising to the surface in pursuit of romance. This eerie Little Mermaid tale stars Transit’s Paula Beer, whose Undine is a modern-day historian giving lectures on Berlin’s buildings and museums. She explains to the droves how history and its intentions reassert themselves in art and architecture. During one romantic and melancholic moment, those lectures about German history become pillow talk between Undine and a lovestruck diver (fellow Transit star Franz Rogowski). In such scenes, Petzold reasserts his mastery over image, subtext, mood, and feeling; and Beer’s intoxicating performance truly grips. g


ARTS

Irani’s Transcendence explores complexity of pain by Breanne Doyle

Irani, who says that self-evaluation comes with the territory of being a playwright and author. “It’s the sole purpose of the artist,” he says. “We can’t write until we examine ourselves. It can make you quite vulnerable. But you can’t write if you’re not vulnerable—at least not the kind of literature that I would hope to create.” Following the launch of Transcendence, Irani will join Sirish Rao (the founding artistic director of the Indian Summer Festival), director Anderson, and other guests to lead a panel about the act of transformation. Hopefully, Irani says, Transcendence will inspire an introspective conversation. “You know, sometimes we get trapped

in our own wounds, and we stay in that for years and years and years,” he muses. “How do we empower ourselves? How do we take control of our own healing?” While audience members reflect on their own paths over the past year, perhaps they will be able to recognize the power of healing within themselves, too. “In every character’s journey, much like in real life,” Irani offers, “we’re looking for that moment when we can transform from being wounded to healing.” g Indian Summer Festival takes place from June 17 to July 17. For more information, visit IndianSummerFest.ca.

Anosh Irani’s Transcendence, featuring performances by Laara Sadiq (above) and Munish Sharma and directed by Lois Anderson, is not quite a play and not quite a film. Photo by Gabrielle Morin.

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ince March 2020, the world has been turned on its head. Across nations, we’ve dealt with pain, loss, and isolation as the pandemic raged. In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve seen an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, anti-Muslim attacks, Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and a global understanding that the way we have been treating each other hasn’t been fair. As the world begins to find its feet again, people are reflecting on the past 16 months: how have we changed? And what will the world look like now? These themes of self-reflection, wounded spirits, and the healing power of change are explored in Anosh Irani’s new work, Transcendence. The two-time Dora Award–winning playwright wrote Transcendence with the intention of creating a space for conversation during this year’s Indian Summer Festival. Shapeshifting is the theme of this year’s event. Irani’s goal—recognizing that he’d be working in a virtual or online format— was to take that theme and present it as intimately as possible. After all, it is an inherently intimate and reflective subject. “At this point in our lives, transformation is so important because we’ve all been through such a difficult time, and we’re still going through it,” Irani tells the Straight over the phone. “There’s been so many people who are going through deep pain, and the question is, ‘How can we transform that pain into a higher nature? Is it even possible to transform pain into something else?’ ” Directed by Lois Anderson and featuring performances by Munish Sharma and Laara Sadiq, Transcendence is not quite a play and not quite a film. When Irani was conceiving the event, he was careful not to classify it in a standard art format. “It’s not pinned down; we’re not defining it, because that’s the nature of the piece

Is it even possible to transform pain into something else? – playwright Anosh Irani

itself,” he says. “In keeping with the theme, it’s fluid. It shapeshifts.” Quite consciously created as a “springboard for a conversation”, Transcendence is different from anything Irani has done before. “It’s a presentation of sorts,” he says. In Transcendence, we follow a spirit guide as she makes her daily rounds in the mortal realm, coming across human beings in pain. These characters are familiar faces taken from previous works of Irani’s. “It was really exciting for me to see characters from different works, different time zones, different cities…side by side, talking, in a way, to the audience,” he notes. “But they’re also in conversation with each other without knowing. I wanted to allow the audience to experience what the spirit guide is witnessing. You know, we’re right there in these rooms with these characters.” Irani hopes that audiences will be able to connect to the presentation on a profound level through witnessing the intimate monologues. “It’s about making it deeply personal,” he says. “We all look for things that give us some insight into the human condition. I think at this particular point in our lives, we really need to look at how we can change internally, heal the inner landscape of the human soul, so to speak. That’s what I’m really interested in.” Internal reflection is nothing new to JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

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SAVAGE LOVE

Having sex with 50 people is invitation for STIs by Dan Savage

b WE’RE A HAPPILY married couple from Europe, longtime readers, both in our 30s, and both interested in having sex sometimes with other people. Before the pandemic, we were invited to a private sex party in a major European capital. It was an age- and facecontrolled swingers night with background checks on every participant. It was our first experience and it was eye-opening, wonderful, and very sexy, even though we were too shy to fool around with anyone else. But we promised ourselves we would return and explore further. Then COVID-19 happened and we couldn’t travel. We decided to hook up with other people locally. We had amazing threesomes and foursomes, and it all went ridicu-

Scan to conffess

lously well, up until the part when we got herpes from another couple. This other couple didn’t know they had it or didn’t bother to disclose. It was a huge bummer, but after educating and medicating ourselves, we decided to continue having hookups with others. We tell everyone in advance because we believe it’s the right thing to do. Some cut us off; some don’t care; some admit they also have it. We are still part of the online community that organized that wonderful party, and with things opening up here, they are beginning to plan the next event. We would love to go back. My question is, can we? Should we? Should we tell everybody about the herpes? - Sincerely Wondering About Post-Pandemic Explicit Disclosures

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.

Being Ugly I was wearing a mask today and lots of women looked at me to check me out. I felt happy. I took my mask off for the rest of the walk home and I don’t think one woman looked at me. Attractive people have no idea how easy life is for them...

Modernity I wrestle with modern behaviour and sometimes don’t understand it at all. This guy has been messaging and commenting on my social media photos for *years*. He’s funny and quirky. But after I offered to meet him in a public park, radio silence. Apparently face to face contact is not the goal at all. Meeting a new friend was my goal. But he seems to prefer typing the alphabet to me on his phone. I honestly don’t get it.

Skinny Fat I like my partners tall & skinny with a tummy. Best of all worlds!

Is it mental health or real issues that anyone would feel? I’m stuck in a shitty job in Vancouver. I am severely underpaid for what I do. I look at the real estate situation and feel totally hopeless. My family lives here, but I know that I have to move away to afford any decent life without being up to my neck in a mortgage. I just feel so angry though! The lack of control at my job and in my renting situation makes me feel so angry, anxious, and so depressed. Is this normal? How do people deal with it? I want to know because it feels so bad. I don’t know if I can stay in this headspace.... and maybe that’s how humans were designed to think? Maybe it’s a signal to get out. How do people cope in the meantime though? How do you enjoy life?

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to post a Confession JUNE 17 – 24 / 2021

should disclose—because, like you, I think disclosing is the right thing to do—my unofficial position is that anyone who has sex with 50 strangers in a European capital, be it major or minor, has volunteered for herpes.

Dan advises a swinging couple to disclose their herpes status. Photo by Rock Staar/Unsplash.

think an invite-only swingers party with “age- and face-controlled” background checks (meaning no olds*, no uglies**) would also put a few questions to prospective attendees about sexual health. If the organizers of this party don’t require you to disclose that you have herpes or other sexually transmitted infections—because they enforce safer-sex protocols that minimize the risk of transmission and/or they quite rightly assume that anyone down to sex with 50 strangers in a single evening either already has herpes or is at least willing to chance it— then I don’t think you have to disclose. Don’t confuse “don’t think you have to” with “don’t think you should”. I think you should disclose—I think you should keep disclosing—and if disclosing gets you scratched off the guest list, SWAPPED, you will have other opportunities to fuck other people in other major European capitals. I mean, you’ve been disclosing to couples locally and haven’t exactly wanted for opportunities, even during a pandemic. (People who weren’t worried about catching COVID-19 during the pandemic—which isn’t over yet— probably weren’t too worried about catching herpes.) Yes, some couples ghosted after you disclosed, but it sounds like just as many or more weren’t scared off. And the couples who ghosted? Some already have herpes and don’t know it—and HPV as well, SWAPPED, as both of these very common STIs are easily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Anyone who wants to avoid contracting them shouldn’t have multiple sex partners— or, arguably, any sex partners at all, considering how common these infections are and, again, how easily transmitted they are. And anyone who attends orgies—anyone who’s sexually active at all—should get regular STI screenings, get treated for treatable STIs, and refrain from having sex (or attending sex parties) when they’re symptomatic or still infectious. (And everyone can and should get the HPV vaccine and people with herpes can take meds that make outbreaks less frequent and less intense and make them less likely to pass herpes on to others.) And while it’s my official position that you

Hmm. I would

b I’M A 24-YEAR-OLD heterosexual French man. (Sorry for my English.) I really love my girlfriend. Our relationship is deep, we listen and understand to other, and we take care of the other. The sex is great, truly great. We try many different things and we try to fulfill our common desires and the desires of the other. Long story short: everything with her and our relationship is perfect. The only thing is that she wants our relationship to be monogamous and I would like to have sex with 75 percent of the girls I bump into. Once I kissed another girl and the day after I confessed this to my girlfriend. Now every time I find myself attracted to someone else I immediately tell my girlfriend. She doesn’t blame me for finding other women attractive or even when I confess to flirting with another woman but I know she doesn’t feel good about it. If I have to choose I will always choose her but I love to flirt. I would also love to see how is sex with someone else, as I have never had sex with anyone else. But at the same time I don’t want to hurt her and I feel childish for not being able to control my instincts. How do people get out of these sorts of situations? - Diligently Escaping Sexual Intercourse, Relentlessly Excited

First… Your English is way better than my (nonexistent) French. No need to be feel bad about that. Second… If you wanna be feel bad about something, DESIRE, feel bad about being a jerk to your girlfriend. In other words: Oh, my god, dude, shut the fuck up. Stop running to your girlfriend to “confess” every time you have an impure thought about another woman. Constantly and needlessly reminding your girlfriend you would like to fuck other women is just cruel. She knows that, DESIRE, so you don’t need to tell her. You’re not being honest; you’re not being transparent; you’re being an asshole. This is a relationship, DESIRE, not a meeting of Reluctant Monogamists Anonymous. (“Hi, my name is Asshole Boyfriend and I’ve been monogamous for four years and each day is a struggle.”) If you don’t wanna be in a monogamous relationship with this woman, DESIRE, end this relationship. But if it is a price you’re willing to pay, DESIRE, then pay it and shut the fuck up about it. If you can’t shut the fuck up about it—if you can’t keep these thoughts to yourself and/or find someone else to confide in about them (a friend, bartender, or pompier?)—your girlfriend is going to realize she’s paying way too steep a price and dump your ass. g


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