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FREE | OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020 | Volume 54 | Number 2752

PROMISES, PROMISES When it comes to housing in the B.C. election, all three party leaders are acting like circus barkers in their pursuit of votes

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CANNABIS

Cannabis cultivation carries on family farming tradition

CONTENTS 9

COVER

October 22 – 29 / 2020

The NDP, B.C. Liberals, and B.C. Greens are all trying to entice voters with lavish housing promises, but will these pledges amount to anything after the election?

by John Lucas

By Charlie Smith

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EDUCATION

Cover illustration by Andrew McGuire

A former longtime chair of the Vancouver School Board examines what the party platforms say about K-12 education in B.C. By Patti Bacchus

17

ESPORTS

One of the world’s most recognizable athletes, David Beckham, is lending an air of legitimacy to a booming gaming industry. By Mike Usinger

M

Marc Geen’s family grew tree fruits and ginseng in Rock Creek, but he’s switched to cannabis.

arc Geen’s great-grandfather arrived in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley at the turn of the 20th century. Growing tree fruits in the area around what is now the Kelowna Airport, he became one of the pioneers in what would turn out to be one of the region’s defining industries. His children carried on that agricultural legacy, and so did theirs. As for Geen, he’s a farmer too, albeit a different type. He got into the family business in the early ’90s, when his father was moving away from tree fruits and harvesting ginseng instead. “Ginseng was the hot new trend, a wild craze at the time,” Geen tells the Straight. “The Okanagan tree-fruit industry was going through some transitions. Washington state was pounding a lot of fruit up and depressing the prices. It was costing us more to harvest than the crop was actually worth, not taking into account any of the other expenses of growing a crop. A lot of farmers at the time were looking for other alternatives.” Ginseng seemed like a good option, but the demand for it soon petered out. “Ginseng died a very quick death, and we got back into cherries,” Geen recalls. “With cherries, it’s like Russian roulette for farming. I mean, most farming is risky, but cherries is extremely risky. You get a cloud on the wrong day and your crop is gone.” These days, Geen grows neither cherries nor ginseng. Instead, he bought a portion of the family farm in Rock Creek and started a cannabis-growing operation, which he calls SpeakEasy. When the Straight connects with Geen via telephone, he’s in the middle of harvest season, but he’s happy enough to explain how he got into the weed business. In 2013, a newspaper article caught his eye. Health Canada, he read, was launching a program that would allow for the commercial production of cannabis for the burgeoning medical market. Geen sent in an application and waited. And waited. Then waited some more.

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“We were the 45th application for the MMPR [Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations] program in 2013, in midAugust,” he says. “It took us six years, nine months, and a few days to finally achieve our licence. We went through different regimes of rules and regulations and the Cannabis Act and finally received our licence…last year on November 8. “We immediately put in our application for our 60-acre [24-hectare] outdoor,” Geen says. “We received that in the spring, and that allowed us to start harvesting now. And this morning we received our latest amendment, which includes 60,000 square feet of indoor and another two acres [0.8 hectares] of outdoor cannabis land.” As he speaks, SpeakEasy’s first harvest is still in progress, but Geen says the total yield will be in the neighbourhood of 70,000 kilograms. That’s the type of number you can really only achieve outdoors. Geen notes that outdoor growing yields quantities suitable for the production of extracts and concentrates, while indoor cultivation produces high-quality flower. “They do work together; they’re not competing against each other,” Geen says. “They compete against greenhouses, though. And greenhouses lose both times.” It may be a new world, but Geen chose a moniker that looks back to an earlier, less enlightened time. The name SpeakEasy is a reference to the Prohibition era, sure, but it’s also meant to honour those who laid the groundwork for today’s cannabis industry. Chiefly, those who were working in the biz when it wasn’t quite legal yet. g

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COVID-19 in B.C.: 21 new exposures in Lower Mainland schools. Record $500,000 bonus awaits realtor of person who buys $13.8-million condo. Human remains found in recycling bin off Kits Point in Vancouver. CBC’s Dragons’ Den launches Season 15 in glamorous new digs. A COVID-19 vaccine could conceivably kill up to a half-million sharks. @GeorgiaStraight

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5


EDUCATION

B.C. parties’ education platforms fail to impress

Why do we treat our public-school system like a failed project when it should be the envy of the world?

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by Patti Bacchus

.C.’s public schools suffered years of budget cuts under the B.C. Liberals. They lost teacherlibrarians, counsellors, specialeducation teachers, janitors, music programs, and junior kindergarten for the most at-risk kids. Hundreds of schools were closed. The Liberals crowed “more funding than ever!”, failing to acknowledge that funding didn’t keep pace with inflation or even the costs of provincially negotiated employee salary and benefit increases. That usually meant cuts to jobs and programs, putting off building maintenance, or lowering the heat on cold days to save a few bucks. Little to none of that has been restored since John Horgan formed a government in 2017. Education funding increased, however, when school districts had to hire more teachers after the Supreme Court of Canada decided in 2016 that the B.C. Liberal government had violated teachers’ constitutional rights to bargain class size and composition. Horgan responded to the

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Ex-trustee Patti Bacchus says some teachers are buying hand sanitizer for their classrooms.

decision by saying that “public education is now the number-one issue for me in the [2017] election”. Aside from teachers who had to be hired

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

due to the BCTF’s court victory, and some progress on the backlog of seismic upgrades and replacements, not enough has changed since then in B.C.’s public schools. That’s despite audacious claims to the contrary from the NDP camp. The K-12 section in the NDP education platform opens with a debatable claim: “Under our approach, schools—and the people who work and learn in them—are now getting the support they need.” The reality is school counsellors still have massive caseloads, while rates of anxiety and other mental-health issues are on the increase in children and youths. Many schools lack a full-time librarian, this when learning to discern credible information from fake and misleading stuff is more critical than ever (see the USA, for example, to know how important and urgent this is). Kids with special needs are still getting sent home due to a lack of support and are given sporadic support for their learning programs. When teachers are absent, there often isn’t a substitute to cover for them, as many

retired teachers who used to sub are steering clear due to COVID-19. This is exacerbating the preexisting teacher shortage, yet I don’t hear anything from any of the parties to do something about it or to make teachers’ wages more competitive with those in other provinces. Teachers still pay out of their own pockets for classroom supplies, and parents fundraise for basics that used to be covered out of school flex budgets. In the middle of a pandemic, teachers tell me they’re buying hand sanitizer for their classrooms because districts are rationing it. Good grief. When I was elected to the Vancouver School Board in 2008, the district had an early kindergarten program for kids identified most at risk of not being ready to succeed in kindergarten. It had an award-winning elementary band-and-strings program in dozens of elementary schools. It had high school transition programs that enabled struggling grades eight and nine students to stay in small groupings to help them move successfully from elementary to secondary see next page


school, instead of falling through the cracks. All those programs are gone, along with much more. They didn’t come back under the Horgan government, and after looking at what’s on offer in the NDP platform this time, they won’t be coming back at all. An NDP government will invest in more computers and tablets, according to the platform, and provide more training for teachers and support staff and new ways to improve “social e-learning that promotes group interactions between students and teachers�. They’ll continue the “largest modernization of schools in B.C.’s history� instead of promising to get rid of portables in Surrey. (They promised that last time but there are more of those now than there were when Horgan became premier in 2017). There’s a promise about food programs that sounds similar to what already exists in many districts, and once again a promise to take “the fundraising burden off parents� by funding more playgrounds. That’s good, but parents will still be fundraising for many other school necessities. They’re pledging to “deliver targeted investments� in school supplies so parents and teachers don’t have to cover those. They promised that last time but didn’t deliver. That’s some pretty weak sauce overall, but not as weak as the B.C. Liberals’ nothingburger of a K-12 education platform. It’s hard to get excited about a “province-wide framework for hybrid and online learning options, and promoting distance-learning options� when parents have been asking

Many parents were distressed about the state of B.C. public schools before the pandemic, and the arrival of COVID-19 has only heightened anxiety. Photo by Dan Gaken/Wikimedia Commons.

for local hybrid options that keep their kids enrolled in local schools. The B.C. Liberals are also promising to restore public funding to private online-learning schools, which is a terrible idea. Public funds belong in public schools, period. Buried in the 47-page Liberal platform document is a promise to build new schools and “upgrade K-12 facilities and

ensure they are properly equipped�. I choked on that gem, given that the B.C. Liberals brought in the miserly “area standards�, otherwise known as the formula for building new schools that results in too-small buildings with no auditoriums. And let’s not forget that this is the party that pledged to have all at-risk schools seismically upgraded by 2020 and later pushed

that date back to 2030, leaving thousands of students and their teachers at risk of injury or death should a serious earthquake strike in the next decade. The Green party is a little bit like Forrest Gump’s mom’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. If all the Greens could sound more like new leader Sonia Furstenau, however, I’d be giving them some serious consideration. They pledge to fund all school districts based on last year’s enrollment, to ensure districts don’t lose funding for students not enrolled this year due to COVID-19. They say they would ensure that all districts have resources to develop “credible and robust remote learning and hybrid learning options� and they would add $24 million for more school counsellors. I like that. The Greens are also promising a $25-million nutrition fund to support districts in developing food programs. A Green government would also look at wage and class-size-and-composition disparity among school districts and increased access to speech-language pathologists and school psychologists. As well, it would develop new resources for students with special needs and a new funding formula. I’m impressed by how the Greens prioritize public education. Unfortunately, they have no chance of forming a government this time. Maybe they’ll have another chance to have an outsized influence on one. That’s about the most we can hope for this election, sadly. g

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7


POLITICS

Real election issues lost in social-media wrangling

T

by Charlie Smith

his week, I did something rather unusual (for me). In the midst of a CBC Radio One panel discussion on the provincial election, I switched the dial to the Lynda Steele Show on CKNW. It was because the NDP partisan on CBC, Maria Dobrinskaya, was talking about star candidate Nathan Cullen’s disparaging comments about an Indigenous leader running for the B.C. Liberals. I felt that this would inevitably be followed by the B.C. Liberal partisan’s view of Chilliwack-Kent candidate Laurie Throness’s decision to “resign” as a B.C. Liberal candidate. That would naturally flow into talk of North Vancouver–Seymour candidate Jane Thornthwaite’s nasty comments about the NDP’s Bowinn Ma. It struck me as just more “he said, she said” from the campaign trail. Cullen and Thornthwaite have both apologized and are likely feeling humiliated by what’s happened. Their reputations have been sullied after many years of public service. And even though Throness is a political dinosaur, his presence on the B.C. Liberal slate would never result in changes to the LGBT-friendly SOGI 123 approach in B.C. schools. The B.C. Liberals introduced this progressive measure over the objections of people like Throness. But this is what political campaigns have become—an endless litany of he said, she said stories. I’m not saying that there is no significance to these comments made on social media. They are worth covering because they provide a window into the character of politicians and party vetting processes. But the pendulum has swung too far. The sheer magnitude of coverage has

B.C.’s NDP premier, John Horgan (left), and B.C. Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson have spent much time during this 2020 campaign dealing with candidates’ social-media missteps.

diminished discussion of topics that will have a profound impact on British Columbians. Like structural issues dogging the K-12 public-education system. Thank goodness for Patti Bacchus for shedding light on this area. Like the $12-billion Site C dam, which likely faces higher costs due to geotechnical issues. Like the two major parties’ willingness to truly adhere to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Like monumental funding challenges facing colleges and universities due to declining tuition revenue from international students. Like whether we truly need all these costly new hospitals and hospital expansions being promised, or whether some of those funds would be better spent on

community care. Like the opioid crisis, which has claimed thousands of lives, and the housing shortage, which has left thousands living in the streets. Like the looming climate catastrophe, which will have a profound impact on the finances of corporations that employ so many B.C. residents. Like sustained low prices for natural gas and liquefied natural gas, which the province is banking on to pay its bills. Like the rich getting richer, due to passive income, while so many others face a higher cost of living due to diminished employment incomes. Like whether the B.C. Liberals would abolish the B.C. Human Rights Commission for a second time in the 21st century. There’s been less serious exploration of policy differences in this campaign than

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I can ever recall because of the obsession over the he said, she said stories. It’s almost as though we’re experiencing de-evolution, from the point of view of political discourse. I’m old enough to remember the 1983 election, where the public fully understood there were two choices forward: Bill Bennett’s Socred vision and Dave Barrett’s NDP vision. The public went with Bennett’s vision, though not in an overwhelming way. There was a similar debate in 1996 between the visions of B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Campbell and NDP leader Glen Clark. A majority of voters preferred Campbell’s vision, but Clark won the election because of the distribution of seats. Campbell didn’t reach enough people in enough places. Campbell subsequently modified his pitch to voters and won in a landslide in 2001. Now the two major party leaders are competing to bribe us with our own money. Citizens are being treated like consumers. It’s B.C.’s version of Let’s Make a Deal as front-running candidates go shopping for votes (to borrow a book title by the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt). One pledges to give people $1,000, freeze their rent, and offer $400 annual rent subsidy if his party is chosen. The other will abolish the provincial sales tax for a year, draining the provincial treasury of $7 billion. And media outlets dwell on what was said on social media because that’s what generates the highest audience numbers and most page views, which can be monetized in tough economic times. There’s little in the way of vision. It’s all so depressing. g

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REAL ESTATE

Promises, promises—the inside dope on housing

E

by Charlie Smith

arly in the B.C. election campaign, the leader of the B.C. Greens expressed concerns about her rivals’ propensity for making promises. In an phone interview with the Straight, Sonia Furstenau questioned whether it is appropriate for leaders to visit different constituencies and announce what goodies they’ll deliver there. “I think we should really question this notion that political campaigns—that election campaigns—are times when leaders go into ridings and suggest that this is the time that you’re going to get the infrastructure that government owes you,” Furstenau said. “I think that we need to be better than that.” Try telling that to NDP Leader John Horgan or B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, who have each made billions of dollars of campaign promises. Like carnival barkers, they’re making bold pitches to voters practically every day. More recently, Furstenau has joined this chorus, albeit with a more tempered platform. Horgan’s target is tenants, long a crucial part of the NDP’s base. For them, he has promised to freeze rents across the province to the end of 2021. This comes after a sharp increase in sales of multifamily apartment buildings in the first quarter of 2020. According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the total sales of these properties reached $623 million in the first three months of the year, up a stunning 904 percent over the same quarter in 2019. Yes, the REITs—a.k.a. real-estate investment trusts—have discovered the joy of owning rental housing in Vancouver and life will never be the same again for tenants. Unless, of course, politicians like Horgan cap their profits.

B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau’s housing policy includes means-tested grants to tenants and a housing office to help youths aging out of government care. Photo by Derek Ford.

In addition, the NDP has revived its 2017 promise of a $400 annual grant to renters, but it won’t go to those in households earning more than $80,000 per year. It’s a clever election pledge because the B.C. Greens, then under Andrew Weaver, kiboshed the $400 annual grant to renters promised by the NDP in 2017. By reviving the renters’ grant, Horgan is reminding people that the B.C. Greens haven’t always been tenant-friendly. Horgan also reinforced his brand as the renters’ premier with a pledge of new rent supplements for residents of supportive housing. That’s designed to encourage them to move into independent-living units, freeing up supportive housing for others. Furstenau responded by promising a means-tested grant to tenants. In addition,

the B.C. Greens have declared their support for a new housing office to help youths aging out of government care, as well as people with disabilities. To boost their appeal to the NDP base, B.C. Greens also pledged to extend leases for co-op housing projects, accelerate investments in social and supportive housing, and establish a capital fund to support nonprofits that want to buy and maintain rental housing. Horgan’s party, on the other hand, is promising low-interest loans to nonprofit and co-op-housing providers. Meanwhile, the B.C. Liberals are bragging about their plan to “dramatically increase affordable housing and supply across BC with the most comprehensive housing strategy of any jurisdiction in North America”. Whew! There are new

ideas, such as creating a new residentialproperty subclass for rental housing with three or more units. In addition, Wilkinson’s party has promised to create an incentive fund to reward municipal governments that “enable demonstrable increases in the construction and supply of new housing”. The B.C. Liberals also appear to think that keeping citizens out of public hearings can be beneficial. That’s reflected in the party’s promise to waive hearings for projects that are compliant with official community plans. Moreover, the B.C. Liberals have proposed “a digital tracking tool to allow municipalities and applicants to track the progress of individual applications and identify roadblocks”. On top of that, the B.C. Liberals intend on replacing the NDP’s vacancy tax, a.k.a. the speculation tax, with a condo-flipping capitalgains tax. The NDP, on the other hand, has claimed that this speculation and vacancy tax has brought $115 million into the treasury and led to the occupancy of 11,000 previously empty condos. And Horgan’s party has claimed that if Wilkinson were leading the government, he would roll back protection for renters, leading to higher shelter costs. All in all, it adds up to a whole lot of promises. Wilkinson appears most eager of the three to force municipalities to facilitate the development industry’s wishes, whereas Horgan seems determined to cap rent increases to please his core supporters. Furstenau is choosing a middle path, minus rent freezes and minus provincial government sticks that will be used against mayors and councils. Don’t forget to vote on Saturday (October 24). g

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9


ARTS

Tremors Festival challenges colonial notions of art

Rumble Theatre artistic producer Jivesh Parasram serves independent creators by focusing on process

H

by Charlie Smith

ere’s how the performing arts have mostly been presented over the past century in Vancouver. A theatre, music, or dance group conducts rehearsals. People with specialized expertise in acting, singing, directing, playing instruments, lighting, stagecraft, costumes, makeup, and other areas ensure that the production reflects their highest standards. Then an audience shows up, watches the show unfold on-stage, and leaves feeling either satisfied or dissatisfied. The artistic producer of Rumble Theatre wants to shake up this hierarchical paradigm. “I’m not a big fan of highly delineated roles in a creative process,” Jivesh Parasram tells the Straight by phone. “I understand why they have to be there sometimes. But those are all things that I think we wanted to actively be working on changing: to up everybody’s agency in what they could be bringing to the project, whatever the project might be.” Parasram, who arrived at Rumble from Toronto in 2018, points out that publicfunding cycles have shifted, offering more opportunities for independent creators. “So, I wanted to focus on supporting that community by kind of giving them as many skills as possible and equipping them to be tapping into that funding structure so that they would have a bit more autonomy in how they were doing stuff,” he says. In short, Parasram wanted to get “more art happening” at Rumble Theatre. He also aimed to implicitly decentre its work from the traditional “North Atlantic triangle”— i.e., the United States, Great Britain, and, to a lesser extent, Canada. In addition, Rumble Theatre’s vision embraces cross-sectoral discussion, alternative models of presentation, and building solidarity “within an artistically driven, disruptive, and decolonial perspective”. According to Parasram, decolonialism as it pertains to the arts remains an evolving concept. “So that makes it exciting in its own right,” he says. This approach manifests itself in Rumble Theatre’s multidisciplinary Tremors Festival, which runs from October 28 to 31. It will showcase eight new works in development. They include theatre, dance, music, video, and virtual reality. Parasram said that Tremors is “lightly inspired” by Toronto’s Rhubarb Festival, which also places a premium on developing new artistic works. “It allows us to show a bit of a piece and get immediate audience feedback on how that’s landing so the artist can continue to develop it, or maybe not develop 10

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Jivesh Parasram has relied in part on Hindu traditions as he’s steered Rumble Theatre’s Tremors Festival toward nurturing independent, diverse artistic production. Photo by Graham Isador

it further,” he says. “Or decide that maybe the piece fits a smaller time frame. So we were looking at that and asking pieces to be about 30 minutes of material.” Prior to the pandemic, his team was hoping to present two of these productions simultaneously in separate rooms at the same location. That would have enabled audiences to move back and forth, taking in parts of both. However, in response to COVID-19, Rumble Theatre ended up working with Progress Lab to videotape the new works from different camera angles as part of what will now be a virtual festival. Parasram’s thinking about colonialism has been influenced by Empire, a 20-yearold book by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt that examined the hierarchy of global power and the influence of so-called knowledge machines. This term was a shorthand way to describe how the arts, universities, and education systems can help re-create society in ways that might go some way toward levelling the playing field for the oppressed “global multitude”. “Whatever we do starts to be reproduced in society to a certain extent, according to our reach, according to our resonance,” Parasram explains. “So that’s part of it. The other thing is I actually draw quite a lot on mystics and mystic philosophies.” They include what he describes as “questionable gurus from South Asia”.

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

Parasram was born in Nova Scotia to Indo-Caribbean parents, and his approach to producing multidisciplinary theatre emerges—in some respects—from Hindu traditions dating back centuries.

Hinduism places a great focus on process in the belief that if this is done properly, the outcome will take care of itself. Hinduism also teaches the value of detachment, which Mahatma Gandhi defined as “skillfulness in action”. “It is only when we want nothing for ourselves that we are able to see clearly into other’s needs and understand how to serve them,” he wrote. Parasram’s family embraced the monkeygod Hanuman, who was a selfless servant to Lord Rama. In fact, Parasram even has Hanuman’s image tattooed on his body. He points out that Hinduism is an informal faith: some adherents pray fervently at community gatherings whereas others are far less religious and just wander over to the food area to grab a bite to eat. Parasram sees parallels between Hindu traditions and the theatre, in which performance can be highly spiritual, whereas other aspects are not. And the Tremors Festival’s focus on process rather than the outcome is one way to upend the traditional approach to performing arts in Vancouver. “We’re trying to focus less on the individual shows rather than what the amalgamation of them becomes,” Parasram says. “It’s about kind of creating a kaleidoscope of this meeting place.” g The Tremors Festival takes place online from October 28 to 31. To obtain a festival pass, visit rumbletix.org.

Tremors FEST TIP SHEET

c DANCEBOY: FIRST DANCE The first 30 minutes of Munish Sharma’s solo show integrating poetry, story, and dance. c LOW GRADE EUPHORIA The Public Swoon’s series of short videos on selfcare and companionship in the era of COVID-19. c ORIGINS V Immigrant Lessons produced this interdisciplinary exploration of identity, colouorism, and intersectional oppression.

THIS YEAR’S Tremors Festival is showcasing eight works in development. c 100 YT GUYS IN AN HOUR Rage Sweater Theatre Productions’ musical comedy about BIPOC history. c ATTACHMENTS Dusty Foot Productions features six queer characters engaged in intersectional polyamory.

c THE FIRE THAT RUNS THROUGH Queer filipinx immigrant Joshua Ongcol’s delves into the dichotomy of revolution and appeasement. c THE TIME IT TAKES ME TO GET TO YOU Subjects of History’s response to the rise of fascism. c UNDERGROUND ABSOLUTE FICTION Anais West (photographed above) explores of queerness vis-à-vis western imperialism. g


Vancouver Moving Theatre with the Carnegie Community Centre and the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians with a host of community partners presents

17TH ANNUAL DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE

HEART CITY FESTIVAL

2020

OF THE

OCTOBER 28 TO NOVEMBER 8 live & online info: heartofthecityfestival.com

OVER 100 EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE AND ONLINE

40TH ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE TO CARNEGIE

featuring special guest LIBBY DAVIES

Join us in paying tribute to the most extraordinary community centre in Canada! Wednesday October 28 | 7:30pm Online | registration available

AN EVENING WITH DALANNAH GAIL BOWEN: Looking Back & The Returning Journey Blues Hall of Fame Inductee performs two sets featuring her powerful voice, original songs & poetry Thursday October 29 | 7pm Online | registration available Post-event Q&A with Dalannah

GROUNDS FOR GOODNESS DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE: ADVENTURES IN DIGITAL COMMUNITY ART MAKING COVID-19 PROTOCOLS IN PLACE

Virtual residency artfully exploring why and how people sometimes do good things towards others Produced by Toronto’s Jumblies Theatre + Arts in partnership with Vancouver Moving Theatre

Friday October 30 to Thursday November 12 Online | registration required for some events

SURVIVORS TOTEM POLE

IN THE BEGINNING: A CULTURAL SHARING

0RYLQJoOPE\6XVDQQH7DEDWDIROORZVWKHMRXUQH\ of carver Skundaal Bernie Williams and the DTES community to create and raise a totem pole paying tribute to survivors of systemic racism

Local Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and artists share stories and history of local Indigenous peoples prior to and during colonization

Friday October 30 | 7pm Online | registration available Post-event Q&A with Susanne and Skundaal

Firehall Arts Centre and Vancouver Moving Theatre co-production

Wednesday November 4 to Saturday November 7 Firehall Arts Centre Advance sales or tickets at the door oUHKDOODUWVFHQWUHFD

SPOTLIGHT ON THE EAST END Featuring Khari Wendell McClelland, Rup Sidhu, Hannah Walker, Geoff Berner and Son of James (Shon Wong) Friday October 30 | 8:30pm Online | registration available

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

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ARTS

Downtown Eastside shows off its heart to the city

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by Charlie Smith

erry Hunter has been a witness to history in his 45 years living in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood. The artistic producer of the 17th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival has seen his neighbours cope with devastating overdose crises at different times, the tragedy of missing women and girls, growing homelessness, and increasing inequality. He’s also seen many positive things, including an Indigenous and artistic revival. And Hunter vividly recalls when a former Skid Road alcoholic with a brilliant mind—Bruce Eriksen—rallied the neighbourhood in the 1970s to advocate for a community centre. This story is told so eloquently in a memoir by Eriksen’s widow, former Vancouver East MP Libby Davies, who also joined the fight as a young social activist.

Oh, my God, which child do I like best? It’s really hard. – Terry Hunter

James Pau, Sam McKay, Marr Dorvault, Mike Richter, and Leslie Nelson demonstrate physically distanced DTES pride inside the historic Carnegie Community Centre. Photo by David Cooper.

So it seems fitting that Hunter and his coproducer, Savannah Walling, would invite Davies to play a prominent role in this year’s festival, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Carnegie Community Centre at the corner of Main and Hastings streets. Davies will host an online workshop on how to drive change through existing political structures. In addition, Davies will read sections from her book, Outside In: A Political Memoir, at a livestreamed tribute to the Carnegie Community Centre hosted by Am Johal, director of SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. These are two of about 100 events taking place at this year’s Heart of the City, which continues for 12 days, starting next Thursday (October 28). But it almost didn’t happen, thanks to the pandemic. That’s because Hunter and Walling considered moving it to the spring of next year. There was even talk of reducing it to three or five days. “We even played with the idea that we could move it up into August and do it during the summertime as an outdoor festival,” Hunter told the Straight by phone. “But all those ideas had complications to them.” 12

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So they stuck to their traditional schedule of holding Heart of the City in the last week of October and first week of

November. And much to their surprise, the Downtown Eastside community was incredibly enthusiastic, notwithstanding the

Heart of the City TIP SHEET

Hall of Fame member involved in socialjustice battles for decades.

c THE ART OF WATER SLEEVES (online October 29) The Vancouver Cantonese Opera will present a virtual party with a live performance, which will be led by Rosa Cheng.

THIS YEAR’S Heart of the City Festival

includes more than 100 events taking place throughout the Downtown Eastside and online. Here are a few highlights: c CARNEGIE’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY (livestreamed October 28) Back in 1980, the Carnegie opened its doors as a community centre after a lengthy struggle by neighbourhood activists. Former MP and ex-Downtown Eastside Residents Association activist Libby Davies will share her memories with Am Johal. c AN EVENING WITH DALANNAH GAIL BOWEN (online October 29) Through song and poetry, the festival honours Bowen (photographed above), a Blues

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

c SPOTLIGHT ON THE EAST END (online October 30) Five culturally diverse artists and groups with deep ties to the neighbourhood—Khari Wendell McClelland, Rup Sidhu, Hannah Walker and friends, Shon Wong and friends, and Geoff Berner—will perform in an event prerecorded at the Afterlife Studio. c SURVIVORS TOTEM POLE (online October 30) The festival will screen Susanne Tabata’s film documenting the creation of the Survivors Totem Pole, which was carved by Downtown Eastside resident Skundaal Bernie Williams and erected in Pigeon Park in 2016. That will be followed by a livestreamed question-and-answer session with Tabata and Williams. g

COVID-19 outbreak. This year’s program guide is 56 pages, the exact same length as last year’s. “It’s been a really difficult process because everybody is working differently,” Hunter conceded. “Everyone is working on the phone or via Zoom. And then everybody has to shift to different platforms.” He and Walling were also saddened by the death of a former president of the Carnegie Community Centre Association, Bob Sarti, shortly before the program went to the printer. Walling rushed a tribute to Sarti into the document, including a photo of the former journalist and playwright with Bruce Eriksen, along with this Sarti quote: “I began to understand what Bruce was driving at. He wanted to force the city to extend its own laws in the neighbourhood and respect the people in it.” Hunter said that Sarti refused efforts to hold a going-away party for him when he was about to move to the Gulf Islands. Rather than standing on-stage and hearing tributes, Sarti preferred to spend his final day at the Carnegie Community Centre in the kitchen, cooking a huge vat of chilli, which he served to local residents. “When the mockup [of Sarti in the program guide] came to me and I looked at it, tears welled up in my eyes,” Hunter said. This is really what Heart of the City is all about—celebrating the generous spirit of the neighbourhood and honouring its pioneers. Among the elders being recognized this year are blues singer Dalannah Gail Bowen and longtime head-tax, antipoverty, and environmental activist Sid Chow Tan. When Hunter was asked which events are his favourites at this year’s festival, he responded: “Oh, my God, which child do I like best? It’s really hard.” Then he expressed excitement about a group of musicians with ties to the Downtown Eastside who were videotaped at Afterlife Studio. Hunter is also thrilled that Heart of the City will present a screening of Susanne Tabata’s 25-minute film, “Survivors Totem Pole”, followed by a questionand-answer session. “The short story is it was created and carved in the neighbourhood and raised in Pigeon Park at Carrall and Hastings streets in 2016,” Hunter said. “It was a huge community effort.” Heart of the City helped the residents and the carver, Skundaal (Bernie Williams), obtain support for this initiative from the city. “The film really needs to be seen by the wider public,” Hunter said. “It’s a really important story and a really important achievement that this community has been able to realize.” g


ARTS

Veda Hille invites you into her Bach-laced bubble The Vancouver musician and theatre artist’s piano-driven songs and stories fuel her Little Volcano by Steve Newton

Straight reached her there, her hubby had Grace Jones on the turntable. Turns out she’s a vinyl fan, which might have had something to do with the fact that a recording of Little Volcano—taped half at the PuSh fest in January and half at the Cultch in July—is set for release on gold-coloured vinyl this month. “My husband is an audiophile,” she said, “so I’ve been sort of following him along. What is life without good music to listen to, right?” (Hille noted that the last LP she played was the new Phoebe Bridgers album, Punisher. “She’s young and new. She’s

great. You should check her out.”) With that recommendation in mind, the Straight signed off, but not before asking Hille what she’d most want readers to consider in advance of her shows. “Well, wouldn’t it just be nice to be together?” she offered, laughing again. “Come and hang out with me. Be in my bubble.” g Veda Hille performs Little Volcano on October 22 at 5 p.m., October 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m., and October 25 at noon. The show will be livestreamed from the Cultch’s Historic Theatre.

Veda Hille has gotten tight with the Cultch’s Baldwin grand piano while serving as the venue’s “pandemic artist in residence” during the coronavirus lockdown. Photo by Matt Reznek.

A

fter playing a concert in Hamburg, Germany, in 1996, Veda Hille read a review of the show in which the critic dubbed her a “little volcano”. Fortunately, he was making a comment on her volatility, not suggesting she was full of hot air. “I took it as a positive,” Hille told the Straight, laughing on the line from her Commercial Drive home. “I was called an explosive, very dynamic performer. I don’t actually speak German, so I might have missed some subtlety. But particularly in the ’90s when I was touring, I was very active at the piano. I slowed down a little bit now.” Almost a quarter-century later, the singer-songwriter, keyboardist, and theatre artist has a solo show called Little Volcano that infuses storytelling with her own music and that of her fave composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. “I played Bach when I was a kid, like classical lessons,” Hille related. “But I was in this residency in Scotland a few years ago and I was getting over a pretty serious illness, and I needed something to anchor me, you know. I was supposed to be writing music, but on my way to the residency I just grabbed a copy of [Bach’s] The Well-Tempered Clavier—which are songs I played when I was 16, maybe—and that ended up being a real centre of what I did there in this little hut in Scotland for a month. I got my Bach in order.” When she returned to Vancouver and learned that Theatre Replacement wanted her to create a show with directors James

Long and Maiko Yamamoto, she told them about all the Bach she’d been playing. “They were like, ‘Well, let’s use that’. So it’s become a show about practise and recovery and trying to do something as well as you can—even if you can’t do it perfectly.” Hille weaves bits and pieces of Bach throughout the show and includes many of her own songs. She also tells lots of stories. “I tell stories from my life, but I also talk about arts and science in the 1700s and 1800s and spontaneous generation and the mating cycles of frogs and, you know, a lotta stuff about nature and about other artists who hold me up.” Hille premiered Little Volcano at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival last January, so one wonders if, in the meantime, the shadow of the global pandemic has stolen some of its light. “It has not darkened it,” she stressed. “The show is also about wanting to connect with people, so I think it’s really quite timely ’cause—my god!—I’ve always wanted it. And I want it even more now, right?” As the Cultch’s “pandemic artist in residence”, Hille was given access to the East Van venue to practise her material during lockdown. She developed a tight relationship with the grand piano there, which was owned by the Vancouver Symphony before being moved to the Cultch in the ’90s. “It saved me from murdering my family,” she joked of the time spent alone in the shuttered arts palace with the three-metre Baldwin. “We live in a small apartment.” Speaking of Hille’s home, when the OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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ARTS

Vancouver Writers Fest lures twin indie-pop superstars by Charlie Smith

Tegan and Sara are among an all-star lineup of authors at the Vancouver Writers Fest, which also includes Emma Donaghue, Marilynne Robinson, Wade Davis, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

D

espite a pandemic that has cancelled nonessential international travel and grounded flights around the world, the Vancouver Writers Fest is still taking place this week. “I think we had a bit of luck there because our festival, of course, happens each year in the third week of October,” artistic director Leslie Hurtig told the Straight by phone. “That gave us many months to figure out how to present a virtual event properly.” The festival, continuing until Sunday (October 25), includes a mixture of podcasts, Zoom-style one-on-one conversations, panel discussions, and events livestreamed from theatres with professional camera operators and proper lighting. As in past years, the fest is offering up a who’s who of local and international writers, including, for the first time, Tegan and Sara Quin. The Juno Award–winning twins will discuss their memoir, High School, with Baharak Yousefi, coeditor of Feminists Among Us: Resistance and Advocacy in Library Leadership. Another festival highlight will feature Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, author of Jack, the fourth and final book in her Gilead quartet. The festival has already videotaped her discussing her new novel with UBC creativewriting associate professor Ian Williams, who won last year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Reproduction.

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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

“She and Ian had a remarkable conversation that I’m really excited to share with our audience,” Hurtig said. “Just beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes.” B.C. writers at the festival include Annabel Lyon, Wade Davis, Caroline Adderson, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Nancy Lee, Aislinn Hunter, Charles Demers, Shaena Lambert, Lorna Crozier, Cicely Belle Blain, Seth Klein, and Tanya Lloyd Kyi, among others. There are also several Indigenous writers at this year’s Vancouver Writers Fest, such as poet and Indspire Award winner BillyRay Belcourt of the Driftpile Cree Nation and Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer and musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Prominent authors at the fest from outside B.C. include historian Margaret MacMillan, Room author Emma Donaghue, Ireland’s David Mitchell, and PEN America Lifetime Achievement Award winner Walter Mosley. All the events are being offered for free or for “pay what you can”, according to Hurtig. “They’re very accessible,” she said. “You can sign up last-minute, if you like.” She added that it’s possible to become a member and get access to all the events or choose just one or two off the website. “These conversations that we’re presenting make one feel better about being a human being,” Hurtig said. “I feel proud about that. We may be able to offer a bit of an escape—and insight into this world that we live in.” g


FOOD

Ipoh Malay Cuisine brings Malaysia to Marpole

F

by Charlie Smith

or countless Vancouverites, the pandemic has ruined their international travel plans. As a result, one of the few ways to experience faraway lands is through local restaurants. In that spirit, I recently paid two visits to Ipoh Malay Cuisine (1316 West 73rd Avenue), a family-owned eatery tucked away on a side street in Marpole. What lured me here? In part, because it’s the closest thing to a Malaysian museum in Metro Vancouver. The entire restaurant pays homage to Ipoh, the Malaysian hometown of co-owner Michelle Liew. Her husband, Sam Chan, hails from the national capital, Kuala Lumpur, which is 200 kilometres to the south. A century ago, Ipoh was one of the wealthiest cities in Southeast Asia, thanks to tin mining. Some of the photographs on the western wall of the restaurant attest to that, including an image of a spectacular colonial-era railway station in the city, which is the capital of the northwestern state of Perak. There’s also a photo of a British tin magnate’s half-completed castle. He died before it was finished, and to this day, it remains in this state. On the south wall, Liew and Chan display colourful kites and other Malaysian artifacts, including the flag. And near the front door is a large picture of a typical village house, which stands high above the ground on wooden legs. These elevated attap dwellings with thatched palm roofs enable owners to place their farm equipment, chicken coops, and bicycles below. This architectural approach is handy to avoid flooding, which isn’t uncommon in this part of the world. There are also Malaysian architectural touches inside the restaurant. They include two ornate Malaysian-Chinese windows, each with hand-painted f loral motifs surrounding vertical wooden poles that are part of the shutters. And wall hangings display batik, a technique that originated in Indonesia to dye cloth to resist the elements. The east wall is filled with photographs of colourful Malaysian dishes. On the opposite side are gorgeous images of the fruits of Malaysia, including durian, papaya, and jackfruit. Malaysia is highly diverse, with the majority being either ethnic Malay or Bumiputera (Indigenous people). About one-quarter are of Chinese ancestry and another seven percent trace their roots back to India. And this diversity is ref lected in the food. My first dish at Ipoh Malay Cuisine was roti canai, a buttery flatbread brought to the country by South Indian immigrants. It was accompanied by delicious rendang lamb. This curry-infused meat was in-

The kari ayam (above left), a curry-infused chicken dish, packs a powerful punch at Ipoh Malay Cuisine; owners Michelle Liew and Sam Chan have decorated their restaurant with Malaysian windows, batik, and various artifacts, including a kite (bottom left) commonly flown in their homeland.

It’s the closest thing to a Malaysian museum in Metro Vancouver. – Charlie Smith

credibly tender as a result of being stewed slowly in spices and coconut milk. Rendang originated in West Sumatra and has since spread across Southeast Asia. The meal was topped off with chicken satays, which weren’t as succulent as those at a much better known Malaysian restaurant chain, Banana Leaf. On the first visit to Ipoh Malay Cuisine, I also sampled the curry laksa, which was truly slurp-worthy with its coconut flavouring. The food here is authentically Malaysian and not tempered in any serious way to suit the western palate. That was most apparent on my second visit, when I ordered Malay mee goreng and kari ayam. The mee goreng was spiced so well that none of the noodles remained on the plate by the end of the meal. The kari ayam, a chicken dish, was more heavily seasoned than what I was used to eating at Kalay Malay Bistro on West Broadway

before it closed permanently. Malaysians, like many who live in countries with long coastlines, love their seafood. So, naturally, there are many choices available at Ipoh Malay Cuisine, including signature dishes such as claypot fish head and kim heong clam (often referred to as kam heong clam elsewhere). There’s also a variety of colourful Malaysian beverages on the menu, including mango, tropical pineapple, and strawberry smoothies. A Malaysian-born friend who grew up in Singapore has told me that there are many arguments between these two neighbours over which country owns certain dishes in the region. For example, the Singaporeans use the term roti prata to describe their f latbread, whereas the Malaysians claim roti canai as their own. Similarly, they bicker over which country can lay claim to Hainanese chicken rice. Of course, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s no longer possible to zip over to Singapore and then up to Ipoh to determine which cuisine is superior. Instead, diners will have to satisfy themselves with what’s on the menu of local restaurants, including Ipoh Malay Cuisine, found deep in the heart of Marpole. And for those worried about the pandemic, this one comes with a instant-read digital thermometer near the door to ensure that nobody enters the premises with a fever. g

Authentic Greek Food Extensive Wine & Bar List

23RD Annual

2020

1830 Fir St. Vancouver 604.736.9559 apolloniagreekrestaurant.com (CLOSED MONDAYS) DINE-IN SERVICES • THE PATIO IS OPEN 4:30 - 9:30PM TUESDAY – SUNDAY

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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LIQUOR

Dark ’N Stormy a drink that requires the right rum

H

by Mike Usinger

ere’s something that no one tells you when you start home-bartending: sometimes that outrageous disaster of a drink isn’t your fault. Especially when rum is involved. On my personal liquor-nerd journey, that important bit of information came via Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s essential Sippin’ Safari. Written as a guide to creating authentic tiki drinks, the softcover is also a great primer to cocktail-making for novices. Consider, for example, Berry’s advice on the essential ingredient that is lime juice: “Always, always, always squeeze your own juice from fresh limes. Bottled lime juice is going to ruin your drink, no matter what

the label promises. There is no way around this: If you’re making drinks for 200 guests, you’ll have to squeeze 200 limes. We don’t like it any more than you do, but there it is.” By the way, while Berry references bottled lime juice, now’s also a good time to throw away the RealLime in that plastic container designed to look like a real lime. Where Sippin’ Safari unlocks one of the keys to bartending is on the most essential of tiki-drink ingredients: rum. Remember that pre-pandemic time you muled back those three bottles of Trois Rivières Rhum Blanc Agricole from Paris? And how, after dutifully mixing up Mai Tais with your own house-made orgeat syrup, 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.

Scan to conffess FML

Some people are skinny, and if they want to improve their physique they can lift weights. Some people are overweight, and they could focus on losing weight. Me? I am both skinny and fat at the same time! What the hell am I supposed to do?

Is baseball good for my health? I started playing it during the summer and I am pretty sure I put on weight. I don’t think this is a sport.

Before my partner freaks out... I rush home sometimes, because I forgot to do a simple task she asked me to do before we leave for work. I’ll even leave work early to do the dishes before she steps through the door. She has a huge OCD about cleaning, and she’s been under a lot of stress. So I try and make sure there’s one less thing at home to freak her out . Funny thing is, no matter what, there’s always something else I forget to do. (why won’t you write it down?) Because I forget where I write things down. Meet the human goldfish.

Nice I shrunk enough to fit back into my pants from two years ago.

I have a dirty secret. I’ve been stealing the occasional rice crispy squares from my kids lunches for the past 4 years,and I’ve pitted them against each other in the blame game.

Visit 16

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to post a Confession OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

simple syrup, fresh lime, orange Curaçao, and Appleton Estate Extra, you ended up with something that tasted like an agaveflavoured tire fire? That wasn’t your fault— it was the rum’s. More so than whiskey, vodka, and gin, rums can be wildly different in their flavour profiles. So while an authentic Mai Tai calls for agricole rum (which remains maddeningly impossible to find in British Columbia—thanks, government monopoly!), you also have to pay attention what kind of agricole rum. Because Trois Rivières Rhum Blanc Agricole has an almost tequila-like, vegetal earthiness to it, it’s absolutely no substitute for Rhum St. James Hors d’Age or Rhum Clément VSOP (all of which are impossible to find in stupid British Columbia— thanks, government monopoly!!). Berry sums up the importance of rum like this: “Tropical mixologists did not capriciously call for different types of rums in their recipes. If they specified a particular brand or rum-producing region, it’s because that brand or region gave the drink its unique character. We feel your financial pain, but urge you to honour the recipes: A drink that sings with a Haitian rum will likely croak with a Puerto Rican.” There are drinks so specific that only one kind of rum will do if going the liquor-nerd purist route. Consider the Painkiller, which has been trademarked by Pusser’s Royal Navy Rum (a brand which is impossible to find in British Columbia liquor stores— thanks, goddamn government monopoly!!!). Today, however, we’re going to talk the Dark ’n Stormy, which originated in Bermuda but, come the fall season around these parts, might as well be British Columbia’s national drink. Like the Painkiller, the Dark ’n’ Stormy has been trademarked, in this case by Gosling’s. Periodically, blogs, restaurants, and competing rum sites have suggested using a dark rum other than Gosling’s in the cocktail, only to receive a letter from the company’s corporate lawyers. You either use Gosling’s in your Dark ’n Stormy or you call the drink something else. Like a Grey Skies, Blacker Moods, and SoulSucking Angst. Or Dear Christ Jesus Will It Ever Stop Pissing Buckets? The Gosling’s version of a Dark ’n Stormy calls for just two ingredients: 1.5 oz of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum topped by 4 to 5 oz of Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer in a tall glass filled with ice. A lime wedge is optional. At the risk of enraging the lawyers at Gosling’s, there are a couple of easy ways to make a good drink brilliant. Start with making your own ginger simple syrup by taking a 4 oz chunk of fresh ginger, cutting it into slices, boiling with one cup of water for 10 minutes, and then adding a cup of sugar. From there, the right ginger beer is the

While first concocted in Bermuda, the Dark ’N Stormy could easily be B.C.’s official drink.

key. You’ll have as much luck getting hold of Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer in these parts as you will Pusser’s Rum or Rhum Clement VSOP at a government liquor store. Steer clear of Canada Dry, President’s Choice, or Schweppes ginger ale, all of which fall under the umbrella of Bland Enough for the Masses. What you want is a ginger beer with a bit of kick, bite, and burn. Reed’s will do in pinch, but spend some extra money and upgrade to Fentiman’s Botanically Brewed Ginger Beer—usually to be found in the aisles of your friendly neighbourhood food co-op. Even better, and available at big-barn outlets like No Frills, is Old Tyme’s Great Jamaican Ginger Beer. Like wasabi, it’ll clear out your sinuses and make your eyes water if ingested quickly enough. Finally, at the risk of offending purists, juice a lime. Then grab a glass and sit back. Watch the black fall skies of the West Coast burst open wide; marvel at the way the rain falls with a relentlessly grim, Seven-like ferocity; and think about how—against all conventional thinking—the October and November monsoons make you glad you live here. DARK ‘N STORMY (B.C. EDITION)

1.5 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum 1/2 oz ginger syrup 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice 3 oz Old Tyme ginger beer 2 dashes Angostura Bitters Add all ginger beer, bitters, lime, and syrup to a tall glass filled with ice. Float rum on top and garnish with a lime wedge. g

Mike Usinger is not a professional bartender. He does, however, spend most of his waking hours sitting on barstools.


ESPORTS

Beckham brand takes a big risk with Guild Esports One of the world’s most recognizable athletes lends an air of legitimacy to a booming gaming industry

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by Mike Usinger

hen it comes to branding, never underestimate the importance of a highwattage celebrity. There are reasons—which, admittedly, start with winning LottoMax—that you reach for the Casamigos or Santo Fino Blanco tequila when you’re in the liquor store. Those reasons have the names George Clooney, Sammy Hagar, and Guy Fieri. And who needs heritage offerings like Maui Wowie and Acapulco Gold when you’ve got Willie’s Reserve and Leafs by Snoop straight from the greenhouses of the Red Headed Stranger and Calvin Broadus Jr.? Assuming the face in question doesn’t belong to Carrot Top, Eric Trump, or Vince from the Slap Chop infomercials, having a celebrity on-board means instant cred. The best way to get out-of-the-gates awareness for a new endeavour? Hook up with someone who can’t walk down the street without being pestered for a selfie. In a best-case scenario, a celebrity believes in a project so passionately that they will put themselves on the frontline as a partner, not a shill. Nothing says, “I’m all in on the brand,” like writing a cheque and then making your more-beautifulthan-the-rest-of-us visage the official face of a brand. This brings us to David Beckham, who, earlier this year, gave the already thriving business of ESports a major awareness boost with mainstream audiences. Flash back to June and you might remember the man sometimes known as Mr. Posh Spice making a large splash in the sporting world. (And by sporting world, we’re not talking soccer, which for some reason is referred to as football in every other part of the world not familiar with America’s most popular sport.) In June, Beckham made headlines thanks to a newly minted relationship with a fledgling United Kingdom organization known as Guild Esports. The news was that one of the biggest and most recognizable soccer players of all time had signed on as a frontline partner. The key word there was frontline, because a celebrity investing in ESports is hardly stopthe-presses news in 2020. From Drake to Steph Curry to Tony Robbins, there’s been no shortage of rich and famous folks who recognized the growth potential of the industry early on. Michael Jordan, for example, sank US$26 million into aXiomatic Gaming back in 2018, making him a backer of the vaunted Team Liquid Squad. Scooter Braun owns a sizable chunk of the gaming and lifestyle behemoth 100 Thieves.

David Beckham has been wildly successful as a soccer player with the LA Galaxy and England’s Manchester United. He’s now the face of Guild Esports. Photo by Kunal Shah/Wikimedia Commons.

Where Beckham’s involvement with Guild Esports was different was that he committed to being the face of the franchise—in the same way that he was once the high-powered drawing card for Manchester United, Real Madrid, and LA Galaxy. In June, he made this statement: “Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with players at the top of their game, And I’ve seen first-hand the passion and dedication it takes to play at that level. I know that determination lives in our esports athletes today and at Guild we have a vision to set a new standard, supporting these players into the future.” To make it clear just how all-in he was, Beckham sank what was said to be a large amount of money into Guild. That provided important leverage for the company’s goal of raising $US31 million in financing. With a high-profile name like Beckham on board, Guild proceeded to dredge up US$25.8 million from outside investors. Then, at the beginning of this month, it made history by becoming the first-ever ESports franchise to enter the London Stock Exchange. Call it a testimony to the power of the

Beckham brand. And perhaps just as importantly, consider Guild Esports playing a big role in the advancement of ESports with mainstream audiences. Ask nine out of 10 post-millennials about which sports they watch, and odds are good that hockey, baseball, and Turkish oil wrestling aren’t on their lists. As the same time, those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more than familiar with the name David Beckham but have zero interest in spending 14 hours per day playing Overwatch, League of Legends, and CounterStrike: Global Offensive. The Beckham brand is strong enough to bring those different generations together. And as a soccer legend, the 45-year-old lends a instant air of legitimacy to a sport and industry that has, in some ways, existed in shadows—even while building a global audience of almost 500 million. That legitimacy is important, because there are many who’ll argue video gaming is no more of an actual sport than checkers, walking, or feverishly watching Yoga With Adriene on YouTube (as opposed to, you know, actually doing yoga with Adriene). The involvement of one of the world’s most

successful athletes bolstered the argument that not all sports need protective gear or running shoes. Beckham, meanwhile, not only offered up his likeness for Guild Esports but, more importantly, put his money where his mug was. Or at least is seemed that way until last week. That’s when news broke that maybe reality wasn’t exactly as depicted. On October 13, the Esports Observer dropped a news story that recast Beckham’s Guild venture. The site reported that, back in May, Guild Esports forged an influencer deal with the Beckham-owned Footwork Productions. That company exists for “the exploitation of David Beckham’s name and image rights”. For becoming the “face of Guild” for five years, Beckham was guaranteed almost US$20 million. Mr. Spice’s responsibilities include yearly photo shoots for Guild as well as video segments, 12 social-media posts, and public appearances. Under the terms of the contract, payment is due at the beginning of the year. So, yes, Beckham ploughed a good chunk of his own money into Guild. But that cash outlay, evidently and ironically, came from the folks at Guild Esports, funnelled through Footwork Productions. However he ended up on team Guild, Beckham is taking a risk here. Up until now, his brand has remained a solidly gold-chip one. On the positive side of things, never underestimate the importance of a highwattage celebrity. As for the negatives, remember that for every Casamigos tequila, there are a half-dozen Kardashian Kards. And PonoPlayers. Not to mention practically every business—including the business of being president—ever undertaken by Donald J. Trump. Ironically, Guild Esports might be one of the biggest gambles of his life. No successful icon wants to fail when stepping outside their comfort zone. Only time will tell if Beckham is truly into ESports because he has a vision to set a new standard. Or if he’s in it for the paycheque. And even if the latter is the case, whether he still has the ability to put a team on his worldfamous back and take it to greatness. g

MORE ESPORTS ONLINE AT ECENTRALSPORTS.COM

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

17


SAVAGE LOVE

No takers for asexual queer who wants romance

Also, lonely bisexual finds life depressing, and straight cheater now wants to dump her Trump voter by Dan Savage

b BORROWING GEN Z’S love for labelling everything, I’m a 46-year-old homoromantic asexual Canadian faggot. For me, that means I’d like to love and be loved by another man but I’d hate having sex with him. To add a vexing complication, I also need some sort of power imbalance. Ideally, I would fall somewhere between being a man’s sub and being his slave. I’ve been searching for this since I came out in my early 20s. I’ve tried everything. Online, bars, hobby groups, friends, hookups. Vanilla relationships, single Masters, dom-

inant couples, sex workers. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on both men and therapy, but here I am, busted, miserable, and alone. The point is that no one—and I mean absolutely no one—wants what I want. My dream dude doesn’t exist. It’s easy to tell someone to move on, that there are other fish in the sea, etcetera, but sometimes your sea is a puddle and you really are the only guppy. I’m considering ending my life before the end of the year. I can’t shake the deep sadness and disappointment and misery that I feel—and this isn’t even

> Go on-line to read hundreds of I Saw You posts or to respond to a message < I FIXED YOUR CAR

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 19, 2020 WHERE: Burnaby Kay - you’re a welder. You were at my shop and we chatted about your dogs little short legs among other things. I should have asked for your number - coffee? Dog walk perhaps?

DREAMY EYES

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 18, 2020 WHERE: Storeys You were a paramedic named Shane who attended to me when I had a medical emergency on July of 2017, at my former residence on Burnell St. in Richmond. You had dark eyes which were dreamy... you said u liked me as u looked into my eyes... I never forgot u Shane. Your kindness, and gentleness, and friendly demeanor... if you see this can u contact me please? I’m single...

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 15, 2020 WHERE: Abbott Mainland I walked by you two,and you complimented me twice. I was smiling underneath that mask ;) I wanted to say the same about you as well ;)

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 12, 2020 WHERE: SkyTrain You got on the train with your bike around Royal Oak, got off at Commercial. Tall in a green hoodie, medium length dirty blonde hair and Red Racer hat, I believe. We kept making eye contact and you were making me blush under my mask. If you read this and remember me message me something about myself.

CUTE LADY ON 99 B-LINE

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 12, 2020 WHERE: 99 B-Line Eastbound You got on the B Line at Alma and got off at Granville. You were wearing a lovely yellow and white floral jacket. It was super cute. So are you! I was the bearded fella dressed in black that couldn’t stop checking you out.

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 13, 2020 WHERE: Kitsilano Foreshore at Point Grey & Trafalgar We crossed paths on the seawall at the top of Trafalgar off Point Grey. You... brunette, pony tail, black vest, blue hoodie, burgundy backpack and a yellow phone case... You were walking your black and white Collie or is it an English Shepherd? You stopped beside me to film the waves crashing into the seawall. Me... blue hoodie, black pants, camera and headphones... in my photography zone and focused. It wasn’t until you spoke to me that I realized I had the most beautiful woman standing beside me. You asked about my camera and totally threw me offguard. Breathless and speechless, I tried to carry on a conversation without exposing my nervousness. It ended with you saying we’ll probably see each other around... I don’t even remember how I responded to you but I’ve since thought of a million responses like “only in my dreams”, “only if I’m lucky”... but I really should of asked you out to dinner so we could talk some more! Watching you walk away and the bond you have with your dog really stirred up a lot of emotions. How sweet you are. If the “I Saw You” gods are out there, you’ll be guided to see this message and respond to me with a “Yes... YES” Abracadabra Kalamazoo *POOF*

SEXY SALT AND PEPPER COSTCO SUNDAY OCT 4

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 4, 2020 WHERE: Costco Downtown This is the second time I saw you at Costco and I am pretty sure we are checking each other out. I went back today hoping you would be there around the same time. The first time I saw you we were all over the store at the same time. I had my wagon and you noticed I put flowers in it. This time I was with my friend and again we were all over the store at the same time. You are probably in your mid to late 30s with salt and pepper hair. Even with the mask I can tell you are super cute. I am hoping you find me, but if not, I will continue going around the same time (even though I hate Costco on weekends) with the hope I will run into you again and make some sort of conversation. If a miracle happens and you find this post, tell me something about myself that isn’t in here.

HANDSOME IN GLASSES

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r

I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 9, 2020 WHERE: Uncommon Cafe I noticed you sitting in a wing chair waiting for your lunch. I definitely peeked over my shoulder a couple of times lol. I wondered who you are and what you do after you walked out. You had sweet glasses.

CUTE TOUQUE, GREAT SMILE

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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: OCTOBER 8, 2020 WHERE: Oak Street You were on your phone while walking up Oak street, and I backed up as my vehicle was blocking your path. Just wanted to say you have a lovely smile. Perhaps we could go for coffee sometime?

Visit straight.com to post your FREE I Saw You _ 18

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

OCTOBER 22 – 29 / 2020

Dan Savage advises a seriously depressed, middle-aged asexual gay man who still has erotic interests to think about taking an antidepressant to lower his libido. Photo by Katy Blackwood.

touching on my current unemployment or newly chronic health issues. What would you do if you were in my shoes? How does one switch off the built-in romantic drive? - Sought A Dom Accepting Sad Singlehood

I’m sorry you haven’t found your ideal man,

SADASS, or the right dominant couple or a vanilla guy you could love and a dominant sex worker you could see on the side. Not everyone finds their ideal mate/position/ situation, despite our best efforts, which is why it’s important that we build lives for ourselves that are rich and rewarding while we look for our dream dude(s). Because then even if we’re unhappily single—or we find ourselves unhappily single again—we would still have meaning and pleasure in our lives. And that makes it easier for us to live in hope that, should all the planets align, it could still happen for us or happen for us again. (Please note: I’m qualifying “single” with “unhappy” here not because all single people are unhappy—which is absolutely untrue—but because this single person, SADASS, is unhappy.) I have to assume it has happened for you once or twice, SADASS. While none of your relationships with any of the vanilla guys, single Masters, dominant couples, or sex workers you’ve met along the way turned into long-term connections, there had to have been some good times and real—if not lasting—connections over the years. Instead of seeing those relationships as a string of failures because they all ended, SADASS, you should see them as a long series of successful short-term relationships. And while you may regret that none lasted for years or decades, there’s nothing about being partnered that immunizes a person against regret. If you were still

with one of those vanilla guys, you might always regret not meeting a Master; if you were with a Master or a dominant couple, you might regret—from time to time—not having a more egalitarian relationship. Although you say not be interested in having sex, SADASS, your interests are erotically charged. If your erotic-if-notsexual fantasies are causing you distress— if you want to switch off your built-in romantic/erotic drive—antidepressants often lower and sometimes tank a person’s libido. For most people, that’s an unwelcome side effect, but you may find it a blessing—at least for now, SADASS, while you’re dealing with your health and employment issues. It’s an extreme move, but it’s far less extreme than the one you’ve been contemplating, so it might be worth discussing with a sex-positive, kink-positive, reality-aware therapist. Finally, please don’t end your life. The world is a far more interesting place with you in it. And although finding a romantic partner is never the solution to our problems—it’s only the start of a whole new set of problems—I’ve heard from countless people over the years who found something close to what they were looking for in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s. But it can’t happen for you if you aren’t here for it. Crisis Services Canada maintains a 24hour suicide-prevention hotline: 833-4564566. In the United States, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800273-8255. b I’M A BISEXUAL man who works on a military base with so many hot men. But how the hell do I even get a quick cock to suck without getting fired for coming on to the wrong guy? Or beaten up? How do I see next page


- Basically I’ve Got Unfulfilled Yearnings

Totally gay guys get blown off on Grindr and Sniffies and Recon all the time. Totally straight guys get blown off on Tinder and Farmers Only and Christian Mingle all the time. I’m not minimizing the unique challenges bisexuals face by bisexual men and women—biphobia is real—but everyone faces rejection, BIGUY. And while some gay guys don’t wanna date bi guys, you aren’t looking for a date. You’re looking for a dick to suck. So get back on Grindr. When you see a hot guy on the street, on the subway, or your military base, quickly open Grindr—

or Scruff or Sniffies or Recon or all of the above—and if they’re on there too, send ‘em a message. If they’re interested, they’ll write back. If they aren’t, they won’t. And if you’re worried a guy won’t let you suck his dick if you tell him you’re bisexual and you don’t mind blowing guys who might be biphobic, don’t disclose your bisexuality on your profile and stick to “Sup?” and “Looking?” when you message them. And you know—back when men picked each other up in bars—you had to make eye contact with a lotta guys before you locked eyes with the right guy. If you made eye contact with a guy who wasn’t interested—if you weren’t his style or his type—he wouldn’t make eye contact with you again. That’s essentially what a guy is doing when he “blows you off” on Grindr: he’s taking a quick look, deciding you’re not for him, and looking away—the exact same thing you’re doing to guys who aren’t your style or type. Guys who

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blue Washington state and all our electoral votes will go to Biden, but I’m not sure I can fuck someone who voted for Trump. But if I end things with him, there’s a good chance I’ll never have sex again. I don’t think there are many opportunities for 65-year-old average looking women, even ones with healthy libidos. Thoughts? Update: Before I could even hit send on this email, Dan, I found out that, yes, he voted for Trump. I’m sickened that this person I care for voted for Trump! Do I end it?!? - Oh Fucking Hell

Yes you do, OFH, and you tell him why: elections have consequences. Better a trusty vibrator than an unworthy Trump voter. g Email: mail@savagelove.net. Follow Dan on Twitter @ fakedansavage. This week on the Savage Lovecast, Andrew Gurza on sex with disabilities: www. savagelovecast.com.

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