NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 | FREE
Volume 53 | Number 2706
What’s different this year
WHISTLER FILM FEST B.C. in the spotlight
NDP delegates push decriminalization
Becoming Handel Ivars Taurins, one of the world’s masters of early music, channels the baroque composer to conduct the massive Messiah
2 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 â€“ DECEMBER 5 / 2019
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NOVEMBER 28 â€“ DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 3
November 28 â€“ December 5, 2019
For an authentic Messiah, Tafelmusikâ€™s Ivars Taurins steps into Handelâ€™s billowing blouse. By Alexander Varty Cover photo by Will Oâ€™Hare
Unifor has played hardball with TransLink, which could have a long-term impact on the transit system. By Charlie Smith
From mini Dutch pancakes to turkey legs, there are many good bites at the Vancouver Christmas Market. By Tammy Kwan
From anarcho-punks to time travel, B.C. holds its own at a talent-studded and always cool Whistler Film Festival. By Adrian Mack
For Daughters frontman Alexis Marshall, itâ€™s all about the exorcisms, be they on-stage or in the studio. By Mike Usinger
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e Start Here 24 THE BOTTLE 13 HOROSCOPES 36 I SAW YOU 34 MOVIE REVIEWS 6 NEWS 8 REAL ESTATE 39 SAVAGE LOVE 28 THEATRE 31 VISUAL ARTS
e Online TOP 5
e Listings 32 ARTS 37 MUSIC
e Services 37 CLASSIFIEDS
Vancouverâ€™s News and Entertainment Weekly Volume 53 | Number 2706
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Hereâ€™s what people are reading this week on Straight.com.
1 2 3 4 5
VPD wants more than one-fifth of cityâ€™s 2020 operating budget. Molnar Group offers modest rents in Vancouver project. Professor claims to have found â€œproofâ€? of insect life on Mars. Beach House reopens in West Vancouver with new look. Motorcyclist dies after crashing into tree in downtown Vancouver.
GeorgiaStraight @GeorgiaStraight @GeorgiaStraight
The Georgia Straight is published every Thursday by the Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp. Copies are distributed free every week throughout Vancouver, Burnaby, North and West Vancouver, New Westminster, and Richmond. International Standard Serial Number ISSN 0709-8995. Subscription rates in Canada $182.00/52 issues (includes GST), $92.00/26 issues (includes GST); United States $379.00/52 issues, $205.00/26 issues; foreign $715.00/52 issues, $365.00/26 issues. Contact 604-730-7087 if you wish to distribute free copies of the Georgia Straight at your place of business. Entire contents copyright ÂŠ 2019 Vancouver Free Press, Best Of Vancouver, Bov And Golden Plates Are Trade-Marks Of Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp. SUBMISSIONS The Straight accepts no responsibility for, and will not necessarily respond to, any submitted materials. All submissions should be addressed to email@example.com. Canadian Publications Mail Agreement #40009178, return undeliverable Canadian addresses to The Georgia Straight, 1635 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C, V6J 1W9
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B.C. NDP delegates push for decriminalizing drugs
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embers of the B.C. NDP adopted a resolution at their recent annual convention that puts the party at odds with British Columbia’s NDP government. “The B.C. NDP will urge the B.C. government to work with the [B.C.] Solicitor General to immediately decriminalize personal possession of drugs to reduce the stigma of substance-use disorder,” the motion begins. “The B.C. NDP will urge the B.C. government to call on the federal government to change Canada’s drug laws to decriminalize personal possession of drugs.” That resolution received unanimous support from the B.C. NDP members who gathered in Victoria on November 24. Last April, however, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth stated that neither of those things is going to happen. “Possessing these substances is still illegal under federal law,” the NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam said. “No provincial action can change that….It’s not appropriate for me as minister to be directing police on how they conduct their operations.” Farnworth made those comments in response to reporters’ questions about a B.C. provincial health officer plan to decriminalize drugs as a means to reduce overdose deaths. “There is widespread global recognition that the failed ‘war on drugs’ and the resulting criminalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs has not reduced drug use but instead has increased health harms,” reads the document drafted by Dr. Bonnie Henry. “Prohibition-based drug policies have not only failed to reduce supply or demand for illegal drugs, they have impeded public health initiatives to reduce harms related to substance use,” her report continues. “Some people in possession of illegal drugs will not seek out supervised consumption, overdose prevention, or treatment services for fear of being arrested; instead, they will use drugs alone, increasing their risk of dying from a potential overdose. In the context of the toxic street
drug supply in B.C., this is being witnessed with alarming frequency.” In addition to recommending that B.C. decriminalize drugs, the November 24 resolution also suggests that provincial authorities expand access to prescription opioids to see people addicted to drugs minimize their dependence on illicit markets and instead receive a regulated supply via the health-care system. “The B.C. NDP will urge the B.C. government to work with the [B.C.] Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, drug users and drug-user groups, and community-based organizations to support and provide additional funding for the distribution of safer, legal forms of opioids for those who are at high risk of overdose death,” it reads. Access to prescription opioids has expanded in B.C. since NDP premier John Horgan assumed office in July 2017. But the provincial government played little role in making that happen. So-called safe-supply programs that have expanded in recent years exist largely thanks to just two health-care professionals: Dr. Christy Sutherland, who pioneered a prescription-hydromorphone program for PHS Community Services Society, and Bobby Milroy, director of the Downtown Eastside’s Pier Health Resource Centre. For years, critics of the NDP’s response to B.C.’s overdose crisis have argued the province could be doing much more to help people addicted to street opioids gain access to a regulated supply. There were some 700 registered NDP delegates in attendance on Sunday, and the resolution, “Safer Supply and Decriminalization”, passed without a single vote against it. The second half of the B.C. NDP’s resolution could be called legalization but is more accurately described as “regulation” or “medicalization”. It would see people who previously purchased unknown substances on the street instead receive pharmaceutical opioids with a prescription from a doctor. There were 690 illicitdrug overdose deaths in B.C. during the first eight months of 2019. g
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Have you been forced to switch your medication? • BC PharmaCare announced on September 5, 2019, that patients using Remicade for inﬂammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis) will have to switch to a biosimilar medication (Inﬂectra® or Renﬂexis®) • PharmaCare claims it is because the biosimilar is cheaper, but the manufacturers of Remicade® have agreed to match the lower price, and PharmaCare refuses to allow patients to remain stable on their original biologic even though there is no ﬁnancial beneﬁt to the province • If you are one of the affected individuals, we want to help you, but you need to contact us ASAP Since 1976, we have been providing educational resources, funding medical research, and advocating for GI and liver patients. We believe that your gastroenterologist should be allowed to prescribe the medication you need and that the government should not force you to switch. For more information, go to www.badgut.org/biosimilars. ®
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Rising rents affect more than residential dwellers
by Carlito Pablo
esidential dwellers are not the only ones hurting from rising rents in Vancouver. Small businesses, nonprofits, and the arts and culture sector are also reeling from increasing costs of leasing spaces. According to a City of Vancouver November 11 staff report, rent for retail spaces has increased 12 percent over the past four years. During the same period, though, rents for office and industrial spaces rose 21 percent and 46 percent, respectively. “Affordability challenges are impacting many aspects of Vancouver and job space affordability is a major concern for many organizations in the city,” Chris Robertson, assistant director for citywide and regional planning, wrote in the report. The report covered a broader topic: the city’s ongoing review of employment lands and the economy. The document noted that small businesses, nonprofits, and arts and culture organizations are “particularly vulnerable” to rising rents. As part of the review, the city conducted a business survey and received responses from 684 owners and operators representing 860 locations. About 95 percent of the respondents were small businesses or those employing 50 or fewer people. Almost 85 percent of the businesses occupy spaces that cover less than 5,000 square feet. Seventy-one percent of the respondents identified lack of affordable space as one of the top three challenges. Respondents indicated that they plan to expand or update 34 percent of all locations surveyed. Also, 10 percent of locations are expected to
be either closed or downsized. Of those planning to close or downsize, 61 percent were doing so because of high costs for spaces. “Small independent businesses maintain a local culture of entrepreneurship and innovation that often provides support to other businesses and enhances economic capacity and competitiveness,” the report said, noting the importance of this entrepreneurial activity. The report also noted the lack of affordable spaces for Vancouver’s nonprofit organizations. “Their in-person services require proximity to the local community making affordable spaces further away untenable,” Robertson wrote. High rents are also taking their toll on arts and culture. “For example, over the past year, more than 16 studios in industrial spaces, with approximately 300 artists, have either closed or have been under threat of displacement or closure,” Robertson’s report stated. The report noted that the Eastside Culture Crawl Society has documented that 400,000 square feet of visual-art studio spaces in inner-city neighbourhoods have been “lost as a result of residential or commercial conversions and redevelopment over the past 10 years”. The review also did a separate survey among workers, and 27 percent of artists in this poll indicated that they were looking for new space because their studios were being sold, demolished, or redeveloped. According to the report, affordability issues mean Vancouver is losing not only businesses relocating to other cities but also “social and cultural assets and vibrancy”. g
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8 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
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Unifor plays hardball with TransLink
by Charlie Smith and Carlito Pablo
s this week’s edition of the Georgia Straight went to the printer, the union representing 5,900 workers at Coast Mountain Bus Company was still at the bargaining table in what it called a “final” attempt to avert a three-day systemwide shutdown starting on Wednesday (November 27). This time, Unifor’s national president, Jerry Dias, was participating in the talks. Chief union negotiator Gavin McGarrigle said at a November 25 news conference that Dias is determined that locals 111 and 2200 obtain a “fair deal” or else workers will walk off the job. If a settlement is reached after the Straight is printed, it would still need to pass a ratification vote. The union has also planned a large rally outside the TransLink Mayors’ Council meeting on Thursday (November 28) in New Westminster. The West Vancouver Blue Bus, Expo Line, Canada Line, Millennium Line, and West Coast Express will continue operating. At a November 25 news conference at Waterfront Station, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond painted a dire picture of the impact of a full-scale shutdown at Coast Mountain Bus Company. He pointed out that 350,000 people rely on bus and SeaBus service every day. Of the 160,000 who take the bus to work every day, 60 percent do not have a driver’s licence or own a car. More than 100,000 students rely on buses to get to school. “Make no mistake: this work stoppage, especially if it comes to a full-on strike after this three-day planned action, will have an impact on the region’s economy,” Desmond said. It would also make life more challenging for low-income residents of the region with disabilities. Justina Loh, executive director of Disability Alliance B.C., told the Straight by phone that people are stocking up on food and trying to get appointments out of the way in advance of any job action. That’s because so many of those with disabilities rely on transit and don’t have access to a car because of the cost. “Caregivers also use public transportation to see their clients, to help them get out of bed, and, you know, feed them and dress them at times,” Loh said. “So, people are quite concerned and quite anxious.” COQUITLAM COUNCILLOR Brent Asmundson recently retired from Coast Mountain Bus Company after driving transit vehicles for 33 years. He has tremendous sympathy for his former colleagues.
“Drivers do not get any breaks,” Asmundson told the Straight in a recent phone interview. “They get no coffee breaks. They get no lunch breaks. They work on straight time.” They might get a chance to go to the bathroom or grab a bite to eat at the end of the line. But he said because of the way bus routes are scheduled, they get nowhere near the National Safety Code requirement of a 15-minute break for every two hours of driving. Another problem is split shifts, in which seven-and-a-half hours of work can be spread over 12 hours. The Coquitlam councillor said he can understand why this occurs on weekdays, but he believes there’s no justification on evenings and weekends, apart from TransLink wanting to save a couple of dollars here and there. “It makes for a long day for drivers,” Asmundson said. TransLink CEO Desmond claimed at the news conference that he’s “extremely sympathetic to our operators getting break time”. “Coast Mountain put a good proposal on the table, in good-faith bargaining, by the way, with the union,” Desmond said. “We have to find a balance of affordability. How do we fairly compensate 5,900 people while still being able to address the needs of the region and use taxpayer dollars wisely? You have to find that balance.” Moments later, Desmond went further by claiming that Unifor’s wage demands “threaten to put that balance out of whack”. “Something will have to give,” he added. “If our operating cost rises too fast, too steeply, we might have to consider more taxes, more fees, more fare increases, or cutting back—or some combination in between. I hope we don’t have to do that because in the long term, that undermines our ability to grow the system. The demand for our services is insatiable.” Desmond’s decision to wade into discussions about the union’s demands drew an angry response from Unifor’s McGarrigle less than two hours later. “We have seen today TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond saying, on the one hand, he’s not part of the bargaining. Then, on the other hand, he’s briefed with all the details of the bargaining.” McGarrigle also took a poke at TransLink’s executive salaries. Desmond collects more than $400,000 per year and the board allowed that to increase sharply earlier this year. The comments were made in front of a room of Unifor picket captains and the bargaining committees for locals 111 and 2200. “You gave us all a 99.3 percent strike vote,” McGarrigle said.
Unifor members gave the union a strong mandate in contract talks. Photo by Unifor
Yet he insisted that the union is doing everything it can to avoid a strike, even after it rejected a wage hike of 9.6 percent over four years for transit operators in Local 111 and 12.2 percent over four years for skilled tradespeople in Local 2200. Mark Thompson, a labour-relations expert and professor emeritus at the Sauder School of Business, told the Straight that the members are now supporting McGarrigle. But Thompson isn’t sure this support will remain as strong if the workers go on strike for three days. The last lengthy bus strike in the region occurred in 2001, when workers were off the job for four months. They were legislated back after the B.C. Liberals won a landslide election victory. “My recollection was that the union members were delighted to be legislated back to work,” Thompson recalled. Thompson predicted that Unifor may not fare so well if there’s another long strike this year because Premier John Horgan has already said that he won’t allow it to fester for four months. In the meantime, Labour Minister Harry Bains had declined to appoint a mediator by the time the Straight went to the printer, despite being urged to do so by B.C. Liberal MLAs. “No one likes to see disruption in our public transportation system,” Bains said in the legislature on November 25. “More and more people rely on public transportation. That’s why I have been encouraging both parties to get back to the bargaining table, because that’s where the deal will be made. That’s where the problem, the issues will be solved.” HERE’S A KEY issue dogging Unifor: it withdrew from the Canadian Labour Congress last year, so it’s not a member of local and district labour councils or the B.C. Federation of Labour. The
ER O F FD I N G PEN
10 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
split with the CLC came after Unifor conducted a raid on a Unite Here local in Toronto representing hotel workers. That led to scathing public statements by other unions, including the United Steelworkers. “Unifor’s decision to pit union against union in an attempt to increase its membership is a central breach of the commitment that each CLC affiliate makes in solidarity with the rest of the labour movement,” the Steelworkers said at the time. “A union cannot in good faith be a committed member of the labour movement if it ignores that movement’s central rules when it suits its purposes—and that is what Unifor is doing.” Unifor, on the other hand, claimed that it was trying to certify a local that had unfairly been placed under trusteeship by the international parent organization. Thompson said that the rift between Unifor and the labour movement could possibly lead the NDP provincial government to be less sympathetic than it might be with other unions inside the “house of labour”. “The pressure the labour movement might exert on the government is going to be less, I think,” Thompson said. Moreover, a transit strike would affect a huge number of people and the NDP is clinging to power in a minority government. “If you’re looking at the big picture, as it were, squeezing an extra increase out of an employer—if it embarrasses the party—is not a good policy to follow,” Thompson said. “I mean, you want them around for a longer time. And I wonder if Unifor sees it that way.” SFU labour-studies lecturer JohnHenry Harter, on the other hand, told the Straight that he expects workers from other unions will support transit workers if Unifor picket lines go up.
He said this while acknowledging the rift between the leaders and Unifor’s weakness in not having the backing of other unions. “On a worker-to-worker basis, I think that we recognize that Unifor is an actual union,” Harter said. “It’s not like they’re an employers’ union or anything like that. So I think there will be support.” Unifor differs from many other unions in another key respect: its tentacles are spread throughout the economy rather than being confined to one or two industries. In B.C. alone, Unifor members work in hospitality and gaming, aerospace, food and beverage, fabricated metal, chemicals, plastics, electrical, retail and wholesale, health and social services, vehicle services, and media. The Straight asked TransLink’s Desmond if he thinks Unifor is using the bus system as a “pawn” to help its organizing efforts in other sectors. “Honestly, I can’t nor would I speculate as to Unifor’s own strategic objectives,” Desmond replied. “That’s a question you need to direct to Unifor. I’m focused on trying to keep service upgraded.” McGarrigle did not respond to an emailed request for an interview. SFU’s Harter sees this as a dispute between the transit workers and the employer, rather than being about Unifor’s overall position within the house of labour. “The key is they want concessions,” Harter said. “They have demands from the Coast Mountain Bus Company and I do think that’s what it’s about.” Thompson also expressed doubts that Unifor’s actions in the transit dispute can be linked to a grand strategy to raid other unions, notwithstanding its willingness to engage in this activity. “They’re pretty much a bottom-up union, by and large,” the retired UBC professor said. As an aside, he told an amusing story about a transit dispute in 1984 in Toronto. Union leaders tried to discourage the members from going on strike during a papal visit because that would turn the public against them. The angry drivers responded by picking up glass ashtrays on the tables and throwing them at the union leaders on the stage. “These guys ducked for cover,” Thompson said. That led the union leaders to make all meetings non-smoking so there were never any ashtrays in the room in the future. “Bus drivers are tough guys,” Thompson said. “You don’t mess around with them.” g
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12 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 â€“ DECEMBER 5 / 2019
by Rose Marcus
NOVEMBER 28 TO DECEMBER 4, 2019
hursday (U.S. Thanksgiving) coincides with Mercury/Neptune and Venus/Uranus hitting it just right. The smooth pace continues through Friday. Time is pleasantly spent; plans and intentions fall into place naturally and well. Saturday/Sunday, the Aquarius moon stimulates more get-up-andgo. Something fresh hits the spot. Monday begins a full-to-the-brim but mostly smooth-running week. For the past five months, Neptune retrograde has been working to strip away illusion and to realign us with what is in our highest and best interest. Having just now completed retrograde, Neptune will now assist us to tap better clarity and more worthy potentials. As of Tuesday, Jupiter advances into Capricorn. For the next year, Jupiter aims to take the reality and make it bigger in scope so that we don’t miss our opportunity. Jupiter, which spends one year visiting each zodiac sign, revisits the same place of your natal chart every 12 years. Think back and you may gain a clue to the matters of life that Jupiter plans to expand upon. This time around, you’ll feel the increase more significantly as Jupiter is onboard with Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. Saturn comes full circle with Pluto every 33 years; Jupiter meets Saturn every 20 years. It is rare for all three to tenant Capricorn, the reality archetype, at the same time. In fact, this is only the third time it will have happened in 2,000 years. Important? You bet. Repeating the wisdom of scientists and sages from all walks of life: this is no ordinary moment along the time line. Time is precious; don’t waste a minute of it. Roll up your sleeves and get to work; build it better for yourself, for your loved ones, for all of us. (Stay tuned for more info on my January 8 public lecture.)
March 20–April 20
What you expect is pretty much what you get Thursday/Friday. For the most part, that’s a good thing. Saturday/Sunday, aim for a fresh diversion. At work or making the most of the moment, time and intention can be put to good use. Jupiter’s oneyear tour through Capricorn puts career, reputation-building, and personal-life ambitions on the clock in a significant way.
April 20–May 21
If it feels good, say it, do it. Go with the inspirations of the moment. Thursday/Friday, it’s as good as it gets. Venus in Capricorn boosts confidence and opportunity for the next couple of weeks; Jupiter in Capricorn does so for this next year. Both transits, especially Jupiter, set the future on its course in some real, cementing, and time-is-right way.
May 21–June 21
It’s a simple fact that sometimes gets lost along the way: the best value is found not in how much money you spend but in the spending of quality time, the attention you give, and what you learn through the process. Jupiter’s one-year tour of Capricorn puts a higher premium on quality over quantity, your plus-one relationship, and folks who matter most.
June 21–July 22
A good idea is worth putting into action on Thursday/Friday. Venus/Uranus makes for good rapport, easy conversation, and lively social flow. Jupiter out of Sagittarius and into Capricorn on Tuesday sets you on a shortened time line to a meet-up with your future. Line up your ducks. Here, now, and next is your gift. Don’t waste the time you are given.
July 22–August 23
Thursday/Friday, Venus/Uranus (trine) can set you onto an upswing or a breakthrough regarding problem-
solving, work, a personal relationship, or a health-related matter. Saturday/ Sunday, a change of pace hits the spot. Joining the chorus of planets in Capricorn, Jupiter’s one-year tour there increases the desire and/or need to roll up your sleeves regarding health, wealth, and improvement initiatives.
August 23–September 23
Hitting the refresh button on connecting, socializing, and future prospects, Venus/Uranus (trine) and Mercury/Saturn (sextile) bring the week to a feel-good end. Saturday/ Sunday, try something new on for size. You stand to gain by Jupiter’s one-year tour through Capricorn. One of your better transits, Jupiter highlights all matters to do with career-, respect-, and reputation-building; love; and those dear to your heart.
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Venus has recently entered Capricorn, and as of Tuesday Jupiter will do the same. Apt for the time of the year, both transits put an added spotlight on home and family. Venus stays for only a couple of weeks, but Jupiter will spend the next year winding up the past while also assisting you to get a better foundation laid for the future. October 23–November 22
Plans, intentions, and scouting missions are well executed Thursday/Friday. It can be easy to hold their interest—to get a conversation started and to keep going. Keep your time open and take it as it comes this weekend. Jupiter’s one-year tour of Capricorn favours writing, teaching, or marketing projects; professional development; certification; citizenship undertakings; licences; parenting; counselling; or working toward some other official status. November 22–December 21
Working it out can be smooth going Thursday/Friday. Saturday/Sunday, something fresh added to the mix does the trick well. Jupiter leaves Sagittarius for Capricorn on Tuesday, but it may do you better good. Once it gets up and rolling, Jupiter can help you to gain more substantial ground regarding finances, career- and reputationbuilding, a professional relationship, parenting, and future plans. December 21–January 20
The moon and Venus in Capricorn keep you making the most of it Thursday/Friday. It’s been 12 years since Jupiter gave its gifts to your sign. Off with the old and on with the new reality. Over this next year, Jupiter in Capricorn joins forces with Pluto and Saturn. Your time-has-come moment now knocks at your door. January 20–February 18
Joining Saturn and Pluto already logged on to the bigger-picture agenda, Jupiter’s one-year transit through Capricorn labels the year ahead as “one in the works”. These transits put the finishing touches on a long process or chapter while at the same time the new reality (professional and personal) builds more identifiable and tangible definition. February 18–March 20
Meeting obligations or on your own time, the week ahead sets a smooth-running backdrop. People keep you busy; Venus/Uranus keep you upbeat. A change of lifestyle is well in the works. In recent years, Saturn has pressured you; Pluto has stripped it down. Jupiter’s one-year tour through Capricorn now helps you to gain better footing on the future. g
What does 2020 hold for you? Book a reading or sign up for Rose’s free monthly newsletter at rosemarcus.com.
NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 13
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Jenny Yen, owner of Two of Hearts in Kitsilano, is hoping the public votes with their pocketbooks to support local indie businesses on Black Friday. Photo by Lucy Lau
est 4th Avenue boutique owner Jenny Yen decided to launch her Black Friday sale a few days before some big-box retailers. At Two of Hearts, she’s decided to offer a third item free to anyone who buys a combination of clothing, scarves, or gloves. And she’ll keep offering this deal until Monday (December 2). “That includes our in-house madein-Vancouver label along with some international brands that we carry as well,” Yen told the Straight by phone. Although she’s hoping to sell more products, she’s especially interested in encouraging consumers to support independent businesses during one of the biggest retail blowouts of the year. “If we want to have any unique shops left or anything that supports local [suppliers], the public has to vote with their dollar,” Yen said. “They have to keep that in mind.” It’s a sentiment shared by Jane McFadden, executive director of the Kitsilano 4th Avenue Business Improvement Association. She told the Straight that there are tons of deals in the trendy shopping district extending from Fir to Balsam streets. While there may not be any Black Friday discounts at the Tesla dealership on the east end of the strip, there are serious bargains ranging from 20 to 60 percent off at nearby ski and snowboard shops like Comor and Pacific Boarder. “A lot of my retailers will do it for the whole weekend, not just the Friday, including the ski shops,” McFadden said. “They’ll go to Sunday and then back to regular prices again on Monday.” The West 4th Avenue retail strip resembles an outdoor shopping mall in the range of goods it offers. But unlike any mall in this region, West 4th Avenue also has 30 restaurants, ranging from affordable spots like Tacofino, Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe, and Noodlebox to higher-end establishments like Bishop’s and Au Comptoir. According to McFadden, outdoor stores account for about 20 percent of the retail outlets. About a quarter of the stores offer clothing and about 20 percent offer services, including gyms and health and body shops. Plus, there’s lots of footwear, anchored by gravitypope. “So there’s a lot that can be applicable to Black Friday,” McFadden commented. “This year, I’ve
got more participants than ever.” Independent retailers are also gearing up for Black Friday in other neighbourhoods. John Fluevog Shoes, for instance, will likely be packed with shoppers at its flagship Gastown location. And furniture retailers like Moe’s Home Collection, INspiration, and Möbler are also offering bargains. David Ian Gray, founder and strategist at DIG360 Consulting Ltd., told the Straight by phone that the marketing push for Black Friday came later this year because American Thanksgiving, which precedes the blowout sales, won’t take place until Thursday (November 28). Gray pointed out that many retailers actually don’t like offering big price reductions earlier in the month because that erodes the margins on products that they might sell anyway.
A lot of my retailers will do it for the whole weekend, not just the Friday. – Jane McFadden
“It’s kind of funny,” Gray noted. “It’s like a monster that’s been created. They’re trying to contain it.” In recent years, DIG360 has teamed up with the polling and market-research company Leger to survey consumers about their shopping behaviour in the wake of Black Friday. Last year, their “Black Friday & Holiday Shopping Report” found that 34 percent of the 1,540 people surveyed bought items from Black Friday sales promotions. That was up from 31 percent in 2017. Another 20 percent of respondents said last year that they browsed Black Friday sales promotions but didn’t find anything they wanted to buy. This means that more than half of the respondents—54 percent—either browsed or bought items. Gray said that last year, online see page 17
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We all want BC’s natural treasures to be here forever. That’s why, since 1971, we’ve saved over 175,000 acres of ecologically important land. Places like the Salmon River estuary with its abundance of fish, birds and elk. But protecting the province’s critical habitats is an urgent task. If you have a passion for BC, you can help. As a non-profit organization, we will use your donation wisely to preserve these special places for future generations. To learn more about us, or make a donation, please visit naturetrust.bc.ca or call 604.924.9771
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Make your gift today at decoda.ca 16 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
Giving Tuesday spreads the wealth
by Charlie Smith
lack Friday caught on in the United States long before it became a major retailing event in Canada. The term was used in the early 1950s, sometimes to denote when a merchant’s annual sales first generated a profit. In recent years, Black Friday has spawned two companions: Cyber Monday in 2005 and Giving Tuesday in 2012. Whereas Cyber Monday is all about consumption—online, of course— Giving Tuesday aims higher. Cofounded by several tech companies, including Mashable, and launched by the United Nations Foundation and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, its objective is to promote an international day of charitable giving. And, yes, it’s a response to the commercialization that runs rampant the weekend following U.S. Thanksgiving. In 2018, Facebook and PayPal announced that they would match up to $7 million in donations to U.S. nonprofit organizations on Giving Tuesday. There’s also a Canadian movement with a website, givingtuesday.ca, that encourages law firms, chambers of commerce, and other organizations to contribute. There’s also a tool kit for charities to help them use Giving Tuesday, which falls on December 3, to acquire new donors, strengthen relationships with existing donors, drive incremental donations, recruit volunteers, and build awareness. The tool kit includes best practices, such as setting specific, tangible goals and underlining the impact
Vancouver Opera teamed up with the Kettle Society on Requiem for a Lost Girl.
of achieving them. As an example, it cites the Montreal-based charity Dans la Rue’s plan to raise $1,500 in 24 hours, which would purchase the equivalent of 500 pairs of new socks for at-risk street youths. “Using a simple landing page, a video, and social media to spread the word, they raised over $2,000 in 2 days,” the tool kit states. “This was enough to fund 650 pairs of socks, allowing them to be much more prepared for the cold season.” Food Banks Canada figured out how to attract contributors by encouraging them to share budget-friendly family recipes. It added this clever line in its pitch: “Add the missing ingredient to your recipe—a donation!”
Last year, Vancouver fundraising consultant and author Harvey McKinnon told the Straight that there are two types of donors. One group focuses all of its contributions on one area, whereas the other group is more “promiscuous”, spreading the gifts to many causes. “I, as a lapsed Catholic, am in the latter category because there are lots of things I care about,” McKinnon said with a laugh. There is no shortage of deserving charities in Vancouver in a wide range of areas that are worthy of public support. Those participating in Giving Tuesday and appearing in this week’s edition of the Georgia Straight include Canuck Place, the Nature Trust of British Columbia, Decoda Literacy Solutions, the Kettle Society, and Variety B.C. As retired boxer Muhammad Ali once said: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” Anyone interested in learning more about registered charities can visit the website of the Canada Revenue Agency. It lists organizations that can issue tax credits for donations, as well as their directors and areas where the money is spent. On the Canada Revenue Agency website, it’s possible to see salary ranges for the organization’s highest-paid employees. There’s also a charitable-donation tax-credit collector, which enables people living in different provinces to learn how much they’ll get back for their contribution. g
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shoppers “really got spooked” by the Canada Post strike. And he pointed out that the North American retail sector is still not set up for massive online deliveries. “Every year at this time, the system really strains and cracks a little bit,” Gray noted. When online sales spike, he said, shipments are more prone to errors. He also hears anecdotal reports about incomplete shipments with the wrong items. And then there are delays, with deliveries not coming on schedule. “Last year, I think what happened is there was this real advantage that started to appear for bricks-andmortar retailers,” Gray said. He expects this trend to continue, with retailers encouraging online buying but suggesting picking up the products in stores through the holidays. That way, consumers can feel more confident that they’ll receive what they bought. Back at Two of Hearts, Jenny Yen feels she has a competitive advantage by being on the street. That’s because her customers can enter the store, try on the clothes, feel the fabrics, and see what they look like in the mirror. “That’s my goal with having the sale: just to draw people in to actually be in our physical location,” Yen said. g
gift giving & festivities straight.com
NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 17
CounsellingMatch website pairs people with compatible mental health practitioners in area
(This story is sponsored by CounsellingMatch.)
t’s a Wednesday evening and you rush out of the office since you have plans to meet somebody in half an hour. You’ve seen a photograph of this person before and have read a few paragraphs about them—all of which was provided through a website. From what you’ve read online, they seem like a good fit for you. As you ride the bus to the nearby meeting location, you wonder what the two of you will talk about. You arrive right on time and you’re greeted with a friendly handshake and a professional introduction, but you feel like you already know them. They politely invite you to take a seat on the couch across from them and the initial appointment begins. CounsellingMatch, headquartered in Vancouver, is a free website that matches users seeking mental health support with qualified and compatible professionals. In a similar way to how dating apps work to reduce the “blind date” anxiety of meeting someone new, CounsellingMatch aims to make it more comfortable to connect with a counsellor or therapist to confide in. CounsellingMatch uses the Multimodal Structural Profile Inventory (SPI) as the basis of its personality matching system. Developed by psychology researchers Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus and Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus, the SPI measures various aspects of an individual’s personality. Their research showed that therapeutic outcomes could improve when there was similarity between counsellor and client on certain of
CounsellingMatch cofounder Yarko Petriw says there’s a visible increase in demand for services during the winter months.
these personality elements. CounsellingMatch applies this principle to the search phase of an individual’s journey to wellness, in hopes of giving them the best possible start to their investment in a professional therapeutic relationship. Visitors to the site are asked to complete a 35 statement questionnaire, which then generates their profile. Once the personality profile has been completed, users are able to filter their search results by other important factors such as location, treatment modality, and hourly rate. The list of suitable mental health professionals is then ranked based on the user’s profile and preferences. Similar to doctors, mental health
professionals can specialize in specific issues and disorders. For example, CounsellingMatch users can find practitioners who specifically deal with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, LGBTQ+ issues, and more. “There are some people that are fortunate to have strong circles of friends, where they might feel comfortable reaching out and saying ‘I’m really struggling, do you know somebody I could talk to?’ It can be a word-of-mouth referral process,” says Yarko Petriw, cofounder at CounsellingMatch, “but there are a lot of people who either don’t have that support network or are uncomfortable discussing their issues publicly, so we hope our site helps reduce
the anxiety of finding help for them.” With Vancouver’s high housing costs and rainy weather, counselling and therapy services are in high demand. But detailed statistics regarding users will remain a mystery as CounsellingMatch prefers not to gather personal information from its users. This ensures client confidentiality. By tracking site activity, the company has noticed a visible increase in users during the winter season. “It’s a bit of a truism but people say there’s a lot of depression around the holidays and our database confirms that,” says Petriw, “We see more traffic in the winter months.” This could be caused by family challenges at holiday dinners,
overspending on Christmas presents, or loneliness. All of these triggers, and more, can be discussed with a professional. “For example, there’s a stigma toward men showing any sort of weakness, let alone weakness in terms of mental health,” says Petriw, “so CounsellingMatch can reduce one potential barrier, whether it’s just a perceived barrier or otherwise, it can help men reach out.” “We are really trying to open doors for all people so that they can access the help they need,” he adds. Not only can finding a well-suited match be beneficial to the patient, but it can also reduce the likelihood of practitioners experiencing burnout. On a daily basis, mental health professionals have to tackle emotionally charged and difficult topics. “Counsellors have told us that if the relationship with the client isn’t working as well as it could be, that can weigh very heavily on them,” says Petriw. “We are hoping to reduce that burnout and help counsellors, psychologists, and therapists end their day feeling as invigorated as they did when they started it,” says Petriw. Accredited and qualified mental health professionals can also sign up for free (for the first year) to offer their services through the website. After one year, professionals can pay a monthly or annual subscription to maintain their profile on the site. g For more information, visit www. counsellingmatch.com/ or you can follow CounsellingMatch on Facebook and Instagram. To register as a mental health care provider on the website, please visit www.counsellingmatch. com/counsellors-create-your-listing/.
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NÜTRL Vodka makes refreshing beverages and sells ugly Christmas sweaters for charity (This story is sponsored by NÜTRL Vodka.)
tarting on December 1, Goodridge&Williams Craft Distillery, the makers of NÜTRL Vodka will release a sensational lineup of seasonally inspired apparel. This includes NÜTRL holiday onesies, mittens, and everyone’s favourite—ugly Christmas sweaters. NÜTRL holiday fashions will have everyone walking with a little extra pep in their step for more than one reason. Despite looking ridiculously cool, individuals with NÜTRL holiday apparel can feel good about contributing to a worthy cause. The entire retail value that NÜTRL receives from clothing and mitten sales will be donated to Covenant House Vancouver to support local at-risk street youths. This will help meet the immediate needs of homeless youth in terms of food, a warm bed, and counseling. entire retail value of the clothing NÜTRL understands that ugly The sales will go to Covenant House. Christmas sweaters have become an important facet of the holiday season, as they are both functional and trendy (despite what your grandmother says). The sweater is perfect for work parties, first dates, Santa If we sell $10,000 photos at the mall, and evenings worth of these fine, spent caroling door-to-door. For those who prefer a more fun items, we will understated approach to winter personally match fashion, the NÜTRL mittens are an excellent option. Purchase a the amount. few pairs to give away to import–G&W Distilling Principal ant friends and family members. Of Melissa Meehan course, keep a pair for yourself too. NÜTRL mittens come in handy while you wait at the bus stop, when your to-go coffee cup is painfully hot, and during snowball fights with friends. after wearing the NÜTRL onesie will Then there are those cozy evenings be no easy feat. Not only is it exceedat home. Returning to normal pajamas ingly comfortable, but its cheerful
holiday design will turn a bad day to good in a matter of seconds. The NÜTRL onesie pairs well with hot chocolate, snowy nights, and Christmas morning. For the month of December, Goodridge&Williams will be releasing a limited amount of holiday merchandise on its online store. The company estimates that these sales will raise a minimum of $10,000 for the important cause. “If we sell $10,000 worth of these fine, fun items, we will personally match the amount”, says Goodridge&Williams Distilling Principal Melissa Meehan. “We feel that as a leader in the industry, it is our responsibility to give back,” she says. “NÜTRL has always embodied Canadian values of inclusion, respect, and challenge.” Winter months are often jampacked with snow festivities, holiday shopping, and celebrating with loved ones, but it is important to remember that it can be a difficult time for many. It is for this reason that everyone should try to make contributions to improve the community in one way or another. “We want to raise awareness of what businesses can do to help people in need,” says Meehan. The team at NÜTRL hopes to inspire others to give this season. By purchasing an ugly Christmas sweater or by volunteering time at a local charity, individuals can make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate over the holidays. g The Christmas sweaters ($50), onesies ($45), and mittens ($15) can all be purchased at store.gwdistilling.com/. Additionally, donations to Covenant House Vancouver can also be made through the online store. For updates, please follow @nutrlvodka on NÜTRL on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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THE 22NDAnnual 18
by Tammy Kwan
e might be biased, but one of the best parts of frequenting festive events around town is getting to indulge in great food. The 10th annual Vancouver Christmas Market is in full swing, and the German-inspired fete doesn’t disappoint with its roster of delicious bites. We’ve curated a sampling of truly tasty eats from the Canada Place market that will get you into the holiday spirit if the market’s massive walk-in Christmas tree, 40-foot light tunnel, and roaming gingerbread duo don’t do the trick. From smoked turkey legs to raclette platters (or a combination of both), and from piping-hot apple cider to mini puffed pancakes, here are seven things to eat and drink at the Yuletide event.
Find poffertjes at this year’s Vancouver Christmas Market. Photo by Tammy Kwan
SMOKED TURKEY LEGS
A newcomer to the 2019 Christmas market, these smoked turkey legs (which may or may not remind you of similar ones served at Disneyland) are a great way to kick off your appetite. Our top tip to enjoy this dish, made with locally sourced turkeys, to the fullest is to get the raclette combo—a thick layer of hot, melted cheese is the perfect topping. Find it at Turkey Haus.
HOT APPLE CIDER
Besides mulled wine and hot chocolate, we really enjoy the hot apple cider at the Christmas market. A little tart and a little sweet, it’s a great beverage to warm up your interior and your hands (woe to those who forget to wear their gloves/mittens) at the outdoor attraction. You’ll also find other apple-themed treats, such as candy apples. Find it at Das Apfel Haus. BRATWURST
German-sausage purveyor Freybe has returned to this family-friendly event and will be serving up its German-style bratwurst, Das Brat, to hungry visitors. Load it up with plenty of sauerkraut and mustard for the full experience. Other traditional sausages, dried pepperoni, and landjägers (semidried sausages) will also be available. Find them at Freybe Brat Haus.
Another popular addition to this year’s food huts at the festive market are poffertjes (tiny pancakes). These treats originate from the Netherlands and are characterized by their bite-sized, circular shape with a puffy interior. Flavours include butter and sugar or Nutella with strawberries and whipped cream. Don’t expect to share your order with anyone else, CHIMNEY CAKES because they disappear in an instant. Traditionally known as kürtőskalács, chimney cakes have been a popular Find them at Two Sweet Elves. sweet treat from Hungarian-speakSCHWEINSHAXE ing regions for centuries. The spiralMany consider this savoury dish to shaped pastry is roasted on a spit be the star of the show every year, before being cooled off and coated and for good reason: this German- with sugar. Crunchy on the outside style pork shank is roasted to per- and fluffy on the inside, this dessert fection on a special rotisserie until will satisfy your taste buds. Choose the skin is golden brown and crispy from fillings like custard, Nutella, while the inside is moist and tender. and more. Find it at Transylvanian Listen carefully and you’ll hear the Chimney Cakes. g
B.C. wine country bolsters its profile
The Swiss tradition of indulging in melted cheese over proteins and veggies is, frankly, a genius idea. It’s mesmerizing to watch staff scrape freshly melted cheese from the wheel onto a plate of meats, pickles, potatoes, and bread. Be sure to eat quickly, as the cheese will harden fast in the cold weather. Find it at Cheese Me Raclette.
crackling sounds made by this cultfavourite item while it slowly turns. We suggest ordering the full size and sharing with friends; be sure to get extra mustard and napkins. Find it at Haxen Haus.
by Kurtis Kolt
Golden Plate Awards Best Vegetarian 20 years running Restaurant for Winner Best a 3am meal Kitsilano Winner Best Restaurant Runner-Up Most Vegan Friendly Runner-Up Best Vegetarian
Market offers festively delicious fare
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Extensive Wine & Bar List 1830 Fir St. Vancouver | 604.736.9559
www.apolloniagreekrestaurant.com C L O S E D M O N D AY S L U N C H • W E D N E S D AY to F R I D AY 11:30A M ͳ 2:30 P M D I N N E R • T U E S D AY to S U N D AY 4:30 ͳ 9:30 P M 24 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
ritish Columbia’s wine industry has seen incredible growth during the past couple of decades in both quality of wines and quantity of producers. With about 90 percent of the province’s vineyard acreage set in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, and the number of wineries now in the hundreds, the tourism draw continues to grow while local amenities and services occasionally struggle to keep up. And with many people ditching the quicker pace (and higher prices) of Vancouver and other large cities in favour of wine country’s elbow room, the push to bolster both those amenities and regional profile continues. Recently, we’ve been seeing these needs being met by local visionaries, with many of them exceeding local expectations due to their experience, savviness, and quality standards. About a year ago, local chef Derek Uhlemann opened Oliver Eats in the South Okanagan, a culinary hub featuring well-pulled espresso beverages and a good array of pastries, snacks, salads, and sandwiches made from wholesome regional ingredients. Although locals appear to enjoy having a place to stop for a quick bite that’s not in the fast-food realm, it’s the retail aspect that sees a constant refrain of “Oh, we really needed something like this down here.” In the deli case and on shelves are an array of artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, imported pastas, olive oils, condiments, and more. Let’s just say you can pick up way beyond what’s stocked at the local No Frills. Back in May, former Acorn chef Brian Skinner and his wife, Christina, opened Frankie, We Salute You! in Kelowna. This is the first time the Okanagan has seen a restaurant wholly devoted to his style of elevated plant-based cuisine, and people have been flocking to the place since the doors opened. Although it was a slight gamble to open an all-out vegetarian joint in a small city with rural surroundings, it’s from those surroundings that seasonal ingredients are sourced. Think things like shiitake Bolognese pappardelle, or the highly addictive “sweet-corn queso” with charred poblano peppers and house-made chili-lime chips washed down with local craft beer, cider, cocktails, and wine. Meanwhile, there’s a palpable buzz in Cawston in the Similkameen Valley these past few months about Row Fourteen, the new restaurant at Klippers Organics that is situated, literally, between rows 13 and 15 in one of their orchards. Chef Derek Gray, formerly of Savio Volpe here in Vancouver, helms a kitchen with a wood-burning stove and a wealth of local produce right outside the doors. My wife and I ate there a few weeks back and were blown away by the food, the rustic and open handsome interior, and the impressive selection of Similkameen wines, along with a generous number of craft beers and made-in-house Untangled ciders. It’s not just a place that’s “good for a Cawston restaurant” but one that could be plunked down in Vancouver’s downtown or Gastown and be a ringing
District Wine Village will be a hub of small-scale wine, craft beer, and cider producers in Oliver, British Columbia.
success. Dishes like slow-roasted celeriac with caramelized whey, leek oil, and crema or lamb-and-pork sausage with stewed chickpeas, lamb jus, parsley, and roasted-garlic sauce prove that their winter fare is every bit as tasty as what’s on tap in the heart of the summer. That’s a good reminder that wine country is indeed open for business in the winter; there’s plenty of touring and tasting that can be done when a break from holiday preparations is in order. Finally, District Wine Village in Oliver, a project dubbed “Canada’s first wine village”, has just been announced by the folks at Greyback Construction, who are behind the ambitious venture. The team, which was behind the development of flashy destinations like Painted Rock Estate Winery, Black Hills Estate Winery, and Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek, aims to break ground in early 2020 on what will be a hub of small-scale wine, craft beer, and cider producers. They’ll have 16 production facilities with tasting bars for those who aren’t able to have their own brick-and-mortar operations. Director of operations Michael Daley—formerly of Vincor and the B.C. Tree Fruits Cidery—will be overseeing this venture, which will also house a multipurpose amphitheatre (with a 600-person capacity), an on-site vineyard, culinary outlets, and more. The goal is to have five producers in-house and able to crush by next year’s harvest. Although developments this bold often suffer from tangles of red tape and potential NIMBYism, word is they’re all-systems-go after unveiling the project to residents and industry at recent community meetings. There’s a general feeling of excitement and anticipation—a rising tide floats all boats, and all that. This is just a handful of the latest developments. Great strides have been made around local wine country during the past year alone; the future certainly looks bright. g
Taurins crafts an early-music Messiah
by Alexander Varty
eorge Frederick Handel will not be making an appearance in Vancouver this winter. Nor will he grace the stage in West Vancouver or Maple Ridge. But when Ivars Taurins joins the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Cantata Singers for three local performances of the great German composer’s Messiah, he’ll bring with him the knowledge gleaned from being Handel for 34 years running. As choir director of Toronto’s pioneering Tafelmusik ensemble, Taurins is undeniably one of the gods of early music in Canada. And in that role he’s presented annual sing-along Messiah concerts in which he takes to the stage in a towering powdered wig and full 18th-century regalia, leading audience and band in a close approximation of the work’s 1742 debut. But there’s more to these perennially sold-out events than a bit of theatre and a fundraising opportunity. Taking on the role of Handel himself, Taurins explains in a telephone interview from his Toronto home, is a natural outgrowth of the “historically informed performance” aesthetic that has fuelled the rebirth of early music for the past several decades. In fact, Taurins might have taken that notion further than any other musician. Not only has he embodied Handel for some 220 costumed performances of Messiah (plus many more in mufti), he made the billowing shirt, formfitting breeches, and elaborately buttoned and braided coat that allow him to effect that transformation. For Tafelmusik’s first costumed performances, Taurins borrowed his garb from the Canadian Opera Company. “It would be something that looked great from two miles away, right?” he says. “But because of my sense of authenticity, I said, ‘No, I want to have something that really speaks to me in terms of what Handel wore, and how it would look.’ My father, in his teens, was a tailor’s apprentice, and he passed on his knowledge of tailoring to me, and so I was able to then use that to create the costume. I started with the shirt, and then I went to the vest, so it was done in stages, and I also used 18th-century construction techniques. So the shirt, for instance, is entirely done by hand. There’s not a sewing machine around.”
Arts It was this massive undertaking, hardly eating or sleeping, and then it was done.
– Ivars Taurins
Ivars Taurins becomes Handel in a historically informed concert. Photo by Will O’Hare
For some, this dedication to authenticity might seem excessive. But Taurins points out that 18th-century formal attire was designed to help its wearers cut an elegant figure at the expense of upper-body mobility. Feeling the same limitations that Handel felt when he was conducting, he argues, helps him to understand how the music was originally heard— even when leading untheatricalized and nonparticipatory renditions of Messiah, as he will do at his three Lower Mainland appearances. “When you put on a period costume, you have to stand differently,” he says. “You react differently in terms of your movements, and it helps magnify the character that you’re portraying. So becoming Mr. Handel has been a wonderful journey, fed by
my interest in period costume.” Taurins has also taken a scholarly interest in how and why Messiah came to be. He backs up the legend of the lengthy work’s hurried genesis; having examined the manuscript, he confirms that it was, in fact, the product of a few days’ white-hot inspiration. “You can see it,” he says. “He couldn’t write down the notes fast enough. When you see his manuscript, the musical ideas are just flowing forth. So it was this massive undertaking, hardly eating or sleeping, and then it was done.” The conductor also points out that there was more to this blaze of energy than Handel’s need to fill a year’s worth of concerts at Dublin’s Great Music Hall. Somewhat lost in
Messiah’s modern-day status as a seasonal favourite is that it was also a piece of religious propaganda, hotly espousing one side of an argument that was raging in the theological circles of the time. This, admittedly, has as much to do with Handel’s librettist, Charles Jennens, as with the composer’s own beliefs. “The interesting part of it [the libretto] is that it isn’t taken from the New Testament, so it isn’t one of the Gospels. It isn’t St. Matthew or St. John,” Taurins says. “Jennens tells the story of the life of Christ obliquely, through Old Testament scripture. And what he’s doing here is countering a movement that was raising its head in England, called deism. And the deists didn’t believe in the idea of prophecy and revelation. “They thought it was all hocuspocus, this idea that you could prophesize something decades or centuries before it would happen,” he continues. “They said this is all too Catholic, too popish, and they were against it. And this worried the Anglican Church, so you had this whole antideist movement as well, and Jennens was part of that. So he used the libretto to prove a point. ‘You want to see proof of prophecy? Here’s a prophecy from the Old Testament, and here’s what happens in the life of Christ to prove it was a revelation.’ And he, of course, wanted to have the best composer to put forward this argument.” That Jennens chose well is evident in the fact that, centuries after the deists and their opponents have been forgotten by everyone except religious scholars and Handel specialists, Messiah continues to speak to large and enthusiastic audiences. Taurins has no doubt about why.
c THE MAGIC OF YULE (November 29 and 30 at Canadian Memorial United Church) More than 70 voices converge to blow the roof off as the Universal Gospel Choir holds its annual concert. The community-based chorus mixes it up with carols, gospel hits, and pop songs, all performed with extra soul. c YULE DUEL (December 5 at the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza) Wear your woollies and bring your holiday spirit as the carolling competition moves to a new location, raising funds for May’s Place, a Downtown Eastside hospice. For a $5 donation to the family-friendly outdoor event, spectators can vote for a choir to make it to the finals. Returning fan favourites include Notre Dame Platinum Girls and MomChoir. g
“Even though it is a specifically Christian story about the life of Christ, the message that it gives us through its words is universal,” he says. “Everyone comes away from Messiah saying ‘This has been a cathartic experience.’ And I think that is a tribute not only to Charles Jennens’s very, very careful use of Scripture to present a contemporary message—whether contemporary in his day or ours. And for me, the overarching thing is the message we hear during the Nativity, when the angels come down to the shepherds: ‘Peace on earth; goodwill towards all men.’ ” g Vancouver Early Music presents Ivars Taurins with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Cantata Singers at the Kay Meek Centre on Friday (November 29), the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday (November 30), and the ACT Centre in Maple Ridge on Sunday (December 1).
Cellist comes home with Elgar concerto
by Alexander Varty
ary Hoffman left the Lower Mainland, reluctantly, at the age of eight, but he still has warm feelings for his birthplace. “Vancouver has something— soul, I guess is the best word—that remains, and that’s something I’m happy to come back to,” the cello virtuoso tells the Georgia Straight, in a telephone interview from New York City. “There’s a special energy in Vancouver. I always felt it when I was a kid, and I always feel it when I come back. I always had the feeling that there’s a basic sense of optimism, and a sense of how things can be—an idealism, let’s say. A sense that something can happen.” Of course, part of any interpretive artist’s skill set is the ability to find the best in what’s in front of them, and in the case of the concerts he’ll play with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra this week, he’s enjoyed plenty of time to think about his material. Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto is one of the benchmarks of cello repertoire, and Hoffman has had almost five decades to acquaint himself with its outer forms and inner meanings. “I certainly was familiar with the piece before I started working on it, and I guess I started working on it in my teens,” he says. “I
It feels like one of those pieces I’ve known all my life. – Gary Hoffman
Cello star Gary Hoffman still has warm feelings for his hometown. Photo by William Beaucardet
couldn’t tell you exactly how old I was, but I’m guessing 15 or 16 or something like that, and then performed it not too long after that. I’m not the only cellist who would say this, but it feels like one of those pieces I’ve known all my life, although that’s technically not true. But
certainly all my adult life, for sure.” Most recently, Hoffman has recorded the Cello Concerto for the La Dolce Volta label, pairing it with a lesser-known early-20th-century masterpiece, Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo. For the cellist, both works speak eloquently of their era—and yet their significance hasn’t dimmed, a century or more after they were written. “Composers are people, too,” he notes. “We’re all affected in some way or another by
things that are happening in the world around us, of course, and something as significant and as crucial as the First World War no doubt had an effect on those people. “I’ve always felt that the Elgar concerto was very much a product of his time—the end of the Victorian era, the end of the war, and the death of his wife,” he continues. “And yet for me it’s always been relevant. I don’t think that it’s stopped being relevant. No doubt, today, in the world, one senses that the times are a bit troubled. There’s a bit of a sense of ‘What’s next?’ and there’s something about this piece that has that as well. But there’s also some curiosity, a sense of optimism, in the sense that no matter what, our spirit lives on, and there’s always something to look forward to.” There’s no telling whether that future will be bleak or bright, Hoffman adds, but there’s no better balm or bolster than music. “Things happen as they happen,” he says, “and we have to find a way to cope.” g Gary Hoffman joins the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum on Friday and Saturday (November 29 and 30).
NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 25
BAH HUMBUG! An Eastside Christmas Carol
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Starring Jim Byrnes as Scrooge Featuring Margo Kane, Tom Pickett, Sam Bob & Kevin McNulty
DECEMBER 5 – 21, 2019
EVENINGS & MATINEES
SFU’S GOLDCORP CENTRE FOR THE ARTS 149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
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26 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
Bach Choir gears up for seasonal extravaganzas
by Alexander Varty
an you have too much of a good thing? Well, yes and no. On the occasion of his 10th anniversary as music director of the Vancouver Bach Choir, Leslie Dala is reflecting on the superabundance of excellent choral ensembles in our city, and how that poses problems as well as opportunities. “It can be a little tricky at times, when we’re… Well, ‘competing against each other’ are the wrong words, but we all have events going on, and people who come out to events have to choose sometimes,” he explains. “This is not the most affordable city to live in, so people have to plan their expenses carefully. So all this is to say that this is a great city for choral music and for music in general, but that makes it tough for everybody to thrive.” The need to clamour for an audience’s attention is especially vital during the Christmas season, traditionally a time for choirs to dust off the most beloved works in their repertoire, whether they be familiar carols that have endured hundreds of chilly European winters, or massive liturgical works of similarly antique provenance. In the case of the VBC, Dala is especially concerned with how many renditions of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah the city can support.
After 10 years with the Vancouver Bach Choir, Leslie Dala knows his holiday fare.
of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, alongside soloists Eve-Lyn de la Haye, Stephanie Tritchew, John Tessier, and Neil Craighead. When it comes to the concert version, Dala says, “We’re taking an approach that really brings out the dance in all of the movements, whether it’s the slow, solemn ones or the quicker, sprightly ones. It’s something that you cannot deny about the music of the baroque era: it really was about the dance.” The conductor adds that the VBC has another holiday event on offer: this weekend, Christmas With the Bach Choir will showcase more specifically seasonal fare, in conjunction with the VBC’s various youth and young-adult affiliates. The concert will also feature the world premiere of the main choir’s 2019 Choral Competition winner, Nicholas Ryan Kelly’s “Wild Bells”. “It’s a setting of the Tennyson This is a great city poem ‘Ring Out, Wild Bells’, which for choral music, talks about ringing out the old and ringing in the new, and all things and for music in that are foul going away, and posgeneral... iting goodness and light,” Dala says of the Kelowna composer’s score. – Leslie Dala “It’s a very energetic piece, with organ and choir—and although it’s just over four minutes long, you feel like it’s a very well-put-together musical journey.” What could be more appropriate We’re not Toronto, he points out, which regularly embraces several for this season than that? g sold-out, fully professional stagings of Handel’s greatest oratorio. But can The Vancouver Bach Choir presents Christmas With the Bach Choir at the we support two, or even more? Dala thinks we can, and he’s got Orpheum on Sunday (December 1). Singable a pair of them to promote: a sing- Saturdays: Messiah Edition takes place along take on Handel’s classic, fol- at First Christian Reformed Church next lowed by a full production in which Saturday (December 7). Handel’s Messiah the VBC will be joined by members takes place at the Orpheum on December 14.
PHOTO BY EMILY COOPER
On stage now!
“Every year [East Van Panto] gets bigger and funnier”— Vancouver Presents
TICKETS FROM $26
Written by Marcus Youssef Directed by Stephen Drover Music by Veda Hille
Nov 20, 2019– Jan 05, 2020
A HOLIDAY TREAT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY! NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 27
Imagination makes this Peter Pan fly THEATRE
By Florian Zeller. Translated by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Mindy Parfitt. A Search Party production. At the Vancity Culture Lab on Thursday, November 21. Continues until November 30
By Fiona Sauder and Reanne Spitzer. Directed by Deb Williams. A Bad Hats Theatre production, presented by Carousel Theatre for Young People. At the Waterfront Theatre on Saturday, November 23. Continues until January 5
Image: ceramics by Logan Kenler (BFA ’19) at the 2017 Student Art Sale.
d THE STORY OF Peter Pan has captivated the imaginations of children for generations. And despite the many different interpretations of J.M. Barrie’s story over the years, Carousel Theatre for Young People has found a unique and refreshing way to tell this beloved tale. This version impresses with its creative staging by director Deb Williams, and with its contemporary flair, thanks to a modern pop/folk–style musical score by Landon Doak. In CTYP’s version of Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan, written by Fiona Sauder and Reanne Spitzer, we’re taken to a playful space where theatrical magic happens right before our eyes without the use of extravagant sets or effects. Actors transform into different characters in front of us, props are resourcefully pulled out from treasure chests, and instruments such as a piano, ukulele, and guitars are used as needed by the cast to provide accompaniment and sound effects. And whenever you think “How can they pull that off?” (such as flying), Williams and choreographers Wendy Gorling and Amanda Testini cleverly make things work through the creative movement of the actors, and using the resources available on-stage. With a few quick adjustments of Kiara Lawson’s functional costume, we see Marlene Ginader effortlessly transform from Mrs. Darling into
Kaitlyn Yott as Peter and Michelle Bardach as Wendy in Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan.
Tinkerbell. Later in the show, she puts on a striped sweater, hunches her posture, and becomes the pirate Starkey. It’s all great fun to watch. Doak’s contemporary score, which evokes shades of Mumford & Sons, adds to the show’s unique flavour. From the sultry tango “Hook’s Lament”, to the audience-participatory “Do You Believe in Fairies”, to the soaring “Flying Home”, Doak’s songs are wonderfully catchy. Leading the way as Peter Pan is the fierce Kaitlyn Yott. Fearlessly flying across the stage, sword-fighting with pirates, and dealing with the emotional complexities of newfound love, Yott is a strong balance of moxie and vulnerability. As Yott’s villainous counterpart Captain Hook, Josue Laboucane is a ton of fun. He brings cheeky, confident swagger in “Hook’s Lament”; I’ve never seen Captain Hook dance so well before. Ginader is fabulous in her triplecharacter performance of Tinkerbell, Mrs. Darling, and Starkey. In fact, make that a quadruple-role performance, as Ginader pulls out a violin during the show and
becomes a musician. In each of her roles, Ginader skillfully shifts her physicality and vocal delivery—from prim and proper as Mrs. Darling, to bratty and mischievous as Tinkerbell. The heart of the Peter Pan story is its celebration of imagination— something that this production nicely embodies, as it guides audience members in using their own imagination to complete the experience. The show makes no attempt to disguise the fact that John and Michael are played by females (Tessa Trach and Paige Fraser). And at one point, with the clever use of a cloth sheet, we see an underwater battle between Peter Pan and Captain Hook take place. In the question-and-answer period that followed the opening performance, a little girl in the audience asked about the ball that Ginader uses to symbolize tiny Tinkerbell flying about the stage. When asked by an actor if she thought Tinkerbell was real, the little girl responded “Yes”—proving this production’s imaginative qualities will take many children to Neverland this holiday season. by Vince Kanasoot
HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND!
d THERE WAS AUDIBLE weeping at the end of The Father, and not just from actor Kevin McNulty, in character as André, an elderly man with dementia. The tears flowed and our noses ran, and as an audience we learned new ways to be devastated in public together. Such is the power of McNulty’s jaw-dropping performance; it’s a singular achievement in a long and still-vibrant career of memorable and award-winning turns. The audience’s heartbreak is a real testament to McNulty, because André has become, in part, a jerk with a persecution complex. He’s also a slippery character and a deeply unreliable one. His memory is faltering, failing, and fracturing, and playwright Florian Zeller does an incredible job of conveying André’s illness through repetition, time jumping, and double casting. (Almost every character is played by at least two actors at varying moments.) This helps the audience experience firsthand André’s confusion and frustration, his paranoia and vulnerability. But it also makes his prickly humour and his penchant for cruelty all the more dangerous. He lashes out at the daughter looking after him, and his caretakers have all quit because he’s so verbally abusive and physically threatening. But what is real and what is just in André’s mind? Zeller’s script keeps the audience guessing until the very end. Director Mindy Parfitt has an incredible command of the material.
The Father marks the debut of Parfitt’s new theatre company, the Search Party, and what a gutsy, brilliant choice it is. The play isn’t just emotionally complex, it’s also structurally complicated. The Father comprises many scenes and vignettes. It’s a clever means of further communicating André’s disorientation from dementia, but it’s also a potential pacing nightmare. Not so in Parfitt’s hands. She has a deft touch and decades of experience, an important combination. The slow stripping down of the set throughout the play, until it’s just an empty white room, is another thoughtful way to depict André’s deterioration. Not that McNulty needs any help. The whole ensemble is fantastic, particularly Jillian Fargey as André’s long-suffering daughter, but this is McNulty’s show and it is a master class in acting. The room is intimate enough that you can see how his eyes darken as André pivots without warning from seemingly genial to emotionally abusive. The fact that we can weep with André, and for him, is a testament to McNulty’s genius. by Andrea Warner
EAST VAN PANTO: PINOCCHIO By Marcus Youssef. Directed by Stephen Drover. A Theatre Replacement production. At the York Theatre on Sunday, November 24. Continues until January 5
d EAST VAN PANTO has always been hypercaffeinated, but perhaps never more literally so than in a number this year, where the Drive’s numerous coffee outposts battle it out for superiority. Just when you think Joe’s, Continental, the Calabria, and the rest of the old-schoolers have finished with their feud, newcomers
see page 30
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28 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
Music By Andrew Lloyd Webber Director: Barbara Tomasic Choreographer: Nicol Spinola Musical Director: Christopher King
ELGAR CELLO CONCERTO PLUS SIBELIUS 5 AND NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN
THIS FRI/SAT, 8PM | ORPHEUM
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Maestro Otto Tausk is joined by Vancouver-born cellist Gary Hoffman, son of the late Maestro Irwin Hoffman, for the gorgeous Elgar Cello Concerto, plus the orchestral ecstasy of Sibelius. OTTO TAUSK, Music Director
THE BEAUTY OF SIBELIUS
NOV 28, 6:30PM | ORPHEUM
John Fluevog Shoes VSO Afterwork Come to the Orpheum at 5:30pm for happy hour cocktails and then enjoy a condensed, no-intermission concert with Sibelius’ 5th Symphony.
STRAVINSKY & SHOSTAKOVICH
DEC 5, 7:30PM | PYATT HALL DEC 8, 2PM | PYATT HALL
VSO Chamber Players Trios by Stravinsky and Shostakovich stand alongside a Meditation, Rhapsody and Bacchanal by the late American composer Jeffery Cotton.
NOV 28 VSO AFTERWORK SERIES SPONSOR
A EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS: HANSEL AND GRETEL & TCHAIKOVSKY’S FIFTH
DEC 6, 8PM | BELL CENTRE, SURREY DEC 7, 8PM | ORPHEUM
Surrey Nights / Musically Speaking Operatic excerpts from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale plus Tchaikovsky’s splendid 5th Symphony will make this concert a festive treat. Constantin Trinks returns to Vancouver to let the drama of this music shine.
A TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS
DEC 10–22 | VARIOUS VENUES
The VSO Holiday tradition returns with singing, storytelling, and plenty of holiday cheer. Join host Christopher Gaze and a multitude of special guests for this festive favourite. See myvso.ca for dates and locations of Christmas concerts.
NOV 29/30 MASTERWORKS GOLD SERIES SPONSOR
NOV 29/30 MASTERWORKS GOLD RADIO SPONSOR
“My main goal is to share classical music with as many people around the world as I can.” — Sheku Kanneh-Mason
THE ANNUAL HOLIDAY TRADITION Vancouver Bach Choir performs
December 14 | 7:30pm | Orpheum Theatre Featuring Leslie Dala | Conductor Eve-Lyn de la Haye | Soprano Stephanie Tritchew | Mezzo soprano John Tessier | Tenor Neil Craighead | Bass-baritone With members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION VISIT:
SHEKU KANNEH-MASON CELLO ISATA KANNEH-MASON PIANO
YOUTH TICKETS JUST
SUNDAY DECEMBER 8 at 3pm | ORPHEUM THEATRE One of the hottest young talents in the classical music world! Sheku skyrocketed to global fame after his memorable performance at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Don’t miss the ONLY Canadian performance on his North American tour!
BEETHOVEN | LUTOSŁAWSKI | BARBER | RACHMANINOV TICKETS: 604 602 0363 | VANRECITAL.COM MEDIA SPONSOR
NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 29
“Awwwwws” out of the audience. Overall, the show doesn’t quite reach the demented pitch of Youssef’s Wizard of Oz—which, to be fair, ranks as one of the best in a strong Panto history. And the stage never seems quite as full and crazily Technicolor as past productions, with Cindy Mochizuki’s painted backdrops not popping as much as the wonderfully warped East Van streetscapes by artist Laura Zerebeski. Still, you’ll feel surprisingly good emerging onto the Drive from this Amanda Sum in the chaotic East Van Panto: Pinocchio. Photo by Emily Cooper two-hour escape from Insta likes. Just be careful which flavour of gel100,000 followers on social media— ato you get on the way home. by Janet Smith and the whole show playfully pushes us to look at what makes us real these days. At one point the Fairy deadpans, FADO: THE SADDEST MUSIC IN “You haven’t posted in more than 15 THE WORLD minutes—I thought you were dead!” By Elaine Ávila. Directed by Pinocchio’s “conscience consultant” Mercedes Bátiz-Benét. A Puente Jiminy Pattison (Amanda Sum) tries Theatre and Firehall Arts Centre to counteract the bad messaging, but presentation. At the Firehall Arts “Canada’s wealthiest man-cricket” is Centre on Friday, November 22. so busy buying up grocery stores and Continues until December 14 car dealerships he’s rarely around. More insanity ensues, with vil- d IT’S A PLEASURE to see new works lains Mademoiselle Fox Cabaret that centre immigration stories and (Shawn Macdonald’s demented cre- homecoming stories on Vancouver ation, a drag spin on Cruella de Vil, stages, and playwright Elaine Ávila, if she were more into red and white) who’s of Azorean Portuguese descent, and jazz crooner–impresario Mi- shares her cultural background with chael Bublé (Naik again), running Fado: The Saddest Music in the World. Fado is the music of Portugal; its songs some kind of cheesy puppet ring. Amid it all, though, Pinocchio are heavy with melancholy, as beautiprods us to reconsider what’s im- ful as they are mournful. Ávila’s Fado focuses on Luisa portant—namely, real connections with real people; families, no mat- (Natasha Napoleao), an aspiring fado ter how dysfunctional or nontrad- singer whose parents fled fascist Poritional; and the kind of whacked-out tugal for Canada, settling first in Vancommunity Theatre Replacement’s couver and then in Surrey after her father’s death. Years later, Luisa and annual gift celebrates each year. Music maestra Veda Hille (on her mother, Rosida (Lucia Frangione), keyboards, with Barry Mirochnick are mourning the death of famed on drums) mixes it up with the usual fado singer Amália Rodrigues, whose eclectic abandon, her score reimag- guitarist, Antonio (Judd Palmer), was ining everything from Hamilton Rosida’s childhood friend. Luisa consongs to smashes by Lil Nas X and vinces Rosida to travel to Portugal in Billie Eilish. The highlight is a take the hope that Antonio will help her beon Andrea Bocelli’s pop-opera bal- come a great fadista. Once they arrive, lad “Con Te Partirò”, which Mac- Antonio and Rosida consider picking donald’s Italian gelato man pulls up where they left off, Luisa falls for off with tenor-iffic splendour, a poet, and both women struggle to stopping to weep quietly, and wring figure out where they belong and who they are. There’s also a subplot about homophobia, a recurring question of J PRE whether Rosida has fascist sympa-CO OIN US NCE F thies, and the ghost of Amália RodO R RT T ALK A rigues (Sara Marreiros). AT 6 There’s too much packed into Fado’s :45P M 85 minutes, and yet also not enough. There are no consequences for the homophobic character, Rosida’s possibly fascist inclinations are laughed off as a joke, and the ghost of Amália is never fully integrated into the narrative. In fact, the play barely mentions Amália by name once it’s invoked her death and its impact on Luisa and Rosida. There are moments that drag and others that speed by too quickly, and all of it is strung together between songs, most performed by Marreiros, with a few by Napoleao. Fado’s music is gorgeous, but by cramming in so many plot points between tunes, the play begins to feel like a jukebox musical rather than an engrossing story about a daughter and a mother and their connection to the saddest music in the world. There’s no space to breathe. I’d love to see another iteration of this production that edits down some of the subplots and keeps the fado music OWEN MCCAUSLAND central to the mother-daughter relaEVANGELIST tionship, and the attendant familial and cultural complexities that accompany a search for “home”. 7:30PM | FRIDAY, DEC 6, 2019 Marreiros and Napoleao sing with THE ORPHEUM, 601 SMITHE ST AT SEYMOUR ST gusto and passion, and it’s particularly rewarding to hear Napoleao convey WITH OWEN MCCAUSLAND, EVANGELIST Luisa’s deepening connection to the PACIFIC BAROQUE ORCHESTRA music as her character finally stops trying to intellectualize the songs and Three festive cantatas from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio just experience them. Patricia Reilly’s (I, III and VI) with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra on impressive set—a large wooden stage with white and blue tiles covering its period instruments – what could be a better way to front as well as the entire backdrop— open the festive season? With soloists predominantly provides the perfect foundation for Marreiros’s and Napoleao’s numerfrom within the choir and the softer tone of the period ous performances. Spending time instruments, this aims to be a leaner and lighter with these songs and reading Ávila’s generous lyric translations in the proreading of this great classic. gram are two experiences I don’t take for granted. But the play feels like it’s struggling with its identity, just like 1.855.985.ARTS (2787) Luisa and Rosida. The answer, though, vancouverchamberchoir.com can be found in the title. Fado: The Saddest Music in the World works best when it stays true to its name.
from page 28
A FAMILY FAVOURITE
CHRISTMAS WITH THE BACH CHOIR December 1 | 2:00pm | Orpheum Theatre Featuring Leslie Dala and Marisa Gaetanne | Music Directors 400+ singers of the Vancouver Bach Adult and Children’s Choirs Michael Dirk | Organ Laine Longton | Cello A Touch of Brass Quintet
FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION VISIT:
Prado and Moja join the action. Yes, this year’s version, the second in a row written by Marcus Youssef, is peak Drive. Even the title puppet, Pinocchio, hails from a box of refuse in the back of Beckwoman’s—a “hippie emporium” run by a woman who, we’re led to believe, has a pathological aversion to customers. Instead of Geppetto, we get Gelato (Shawn Macdonald), a lonely ice-cream vendor who can’t figure out why his eco-friendly recycled flavours (used chewing gum and frozen baby diapers, anyone?) don’t sell. But as much as the playwright loves the Drive, the subversive scribe is not afraid to send it up; one zinger refers to “property-rich, old, white hippies who really hate residential towers”. Youssef’s latest is also even more full of political barbs than his The Wizard of Oz was last year. (Everyone from Andrew Scheer to Justin Trudeau gets their digs, and wait till you see the surprise villain in Act 2.) This Panto knows instinctively what the strong contingent of kids in the audience will like: namely, the odd fart joke and characters who detest kids. “They just play Fortnite, dab, and eat Tide Pods all day,” Naomi Wright’s scarf-bedecked Beckwoman bemoans. And some of the show’s biggest laughs come when a villain cooks up the “Kids Only” Hastings Racecourse, complete with slot machines and Monster energy drinks on tap. With all that in mind, the biggest surprise may be that Pinocchio carries deeper messages than usual, slyly reaching for meaning amid the chaos. It can do this, in large part, because Pippa Mackie brings such huge heart to the show as the innocent puppetboy, coming to life with wobbly hinges and bouncy knees. Watch her “I flip it, I flop it, I pop it, I lock it” in a hip-hop ode to “7 Rings”. (Shout out to choreographer Amanda Testini.) In this retelling, the Fairy Instagram Mother (Chirag Naik, perched on a hoverboard, in a pink wig and size11 purple patent boots) tells Pinocchio he won’t be “real” unless he gets
30 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
by Andrea Warner
Show blows away ceramic stereotypes by Robin Laurence
At Playing With Fire, Ying-Yueh Chuang addresses migration and inequity in Cross Series #3, a garden of tiny ceramic “plants”.
VISUAL ARTS PLAYING WITH FIRE: CERAMICS OF THE EXTRAORDINARY
At the UBC Museum of Anthropology until March 29
d PLAYING WITH FIRE challenges the formal and conceptual boundaries of that most humble and earthy of materials—clay. Subtitled “Ceramics of the Extraordinary” and curated by the Museum of Anthropology’s Carol Mayer, the show features sculptures and installations by 11 British Columbia artists across three generations and an abundance of art movements. Themes range from colonialism and materialism to childhood memories. With this show, Mayer is determined to wipe away any craft-based, littlebrown-pot stereotypes that might still adhere to the ceramics medium. Still, there is plenty of technical facility on view, usually in the service of a compelling message. Look for Brendan Lee Satish Tang’s glossy and somewhat sinister robotics being birthed out of blue-and-white Chinese vases, Alwyn O’Brien’s impossibly filigreed vessels and towers, and Jeremy Hatch’s ghostly white birch tree with a derelict tree house cupped in its branches. As for challenging stereotypes, we have the examples of Gathie Falk and Glenn Lewis, two ground-breaking senior artists who, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, employed clay to wed conceptualism and serialism to pop art and funk ceramics. Lewis’s Artifact is a wall-sized installation of 30 white ceramic tiles bedecked with phallic “salt shakers”, its diaristic text and grid format conveying the overarching idea of a calendar. Falk’s Bootcase With Nine Black Shoes uses multiples of the same unprepossessing form—a man’s well-worn ankle boot sculpted in clay—to invest the work with emotional resonance and symbolic power. Made in 1973, this Bootcase is already a classic, exemplary of Falk’s acclaimed ability to bestow wonder and delight upon the ordinary and the everyday. Repetition, popular-culture forms, and the minimal-conceptual grid are used strategically by a number of other artists here. Ian Johnston’s Antechamber, its four walls filled with row upon row of vacuum-formed ceramic tiles, is excerpted from an installation he first created in 2013. Antechamber celebrates significant inventions, such as the telephone and the incandescent light bulb, that have hugely benefited society. At the same time, it laments their absorption into a system of mass manufacture and waste. Ying-Yueh Chuang uses her exquisitely wrought ceramic forms to examine both cultural migration and class inequity. Her Cross Series #3 is a colourful kind of garden, consisting of hundreds of small ceramic “plants” on Plexiglas stems, mounted on a cross-shaped wooden base. Each plant is a simultaneously beautiful and unsettling combination of different forms found in nature, from
seed pods to crab claws. This curious hybridity symbolizes the artist’s upbringing in Taiwan and her gradual adjustment to western ideas since settling in the Lower Mainland. Judy Chartrand’s hand-built ceramic vessels and mixed-media installations often employ repetitive motifs and elements, too. Multiple images of bedbugs invade her series of large, lustrous bowls while alluding to deteriorating conditions in Downtown Eastside hotels in If This Is What You Call ‘Being Civilized’, I’d Rather Go Back to Being a ‘Savage’. Four shelves of Andy Warhol–esque ceramic soup cans, with critically altered wording on their labels, top an antique wooden cabinet in The Cupboard of Contention. Chartrand’s art is, at first glance, so visually appealing and formally accomplished that it draws us in before confronting us with its social and political messages.
She implicates us even as she condemns racism and negative cultural stereotypes, deplores the history and legacy of colonialism, and mourns lost, missing, and murdered Indigenous women. In a sense, Debra Sloan also employs repetition as a strategy, her recurring form being a mould-made baby-doll figurine, altered or decorated in response to historical pieces in the Koerner Ceramic Gallery at MOA. As an artist in residence at the museum in 2018, Sloan mused upon the histories embedded in the 17th- and 18th-century European wares in the Koerner collection. Her paradoxically chubby and cherubic dolls bring themes of religious persecution and forced migration forward to the present day. As with so much of the work in Playing With Fire, viewers are reminded of the immense expressive potential that lies within a lump of raw clay. g
NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 31
ARTS LISTINGS The Cinematheque European Union Film Festival Until December 2
November 28 (Thursday) 6:30 pm
November 28 (Thursday) 8:40 pm
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26
A Picture with Yuki (¨¬ª ±ª¨)
A maelstrom of moral uncertainty and ethnic conflict permeates Bulgarian director Lachezar Avramov’s striking debut feature.
Racial profiling and bureaucratic ineptitude are satirized aplenty in Adolf El Assal’s rollicking misadventure about an Egyptian DJ detained in Luxembourg.
November 29 (Friday) 6:30 pm
November 29 (Friday) 8:50 pm
Me, Myself and My Dead Wife (Yo, mi mujer y mi mujer muerta)
The Dead Queen (Pedro e Inês) The legend of a Portuguese king who exhumed his beloved’s corpse is atypically imagined in António Ferreira’s inventive, time-bending romancer. November 30 (Saturday) 4:00 pm
A dying wish just won’t stay dead in the latest cockeyed comedy from popular Spanish director Santi Amodeo. France
November 30 (Saturday) 6:30 pm
LUZIA Cirque du Soleil presents a poetic and acrobatic ode to the culture of Mexico. To Dec 29, Under the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top), Concorde Pacific Place. $39-270. THE SOUND OF MUSIC Romantic musical about a young woman who takes a governess position with a large family and falls for the widowed father. To Jan 5, Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. From $39. EAST VAN PANTO: PINOCCHIO When a lonely old ice-cream vendor is given a puppet by the mysterious Beckwoman of Commercial Drive, his dreams of having a child suddenly come true. To Jan 5, York Theatre. From $26. THE FATHER Western Canadian premiere of French playwight Florian Zeller’s work, starring Kevin McNulty and Jillian Fargey. To Nov 30, 8 pm, Vancity Culture Lab. $25-40. SEMINAR Alex&Main presents Theresa Rebeck’s comedy about four aspiring young novelists who sign up for private writing classes with an international literary figure. To Nov 30, 8 pm, The Nest. $25. PETER PAN Adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale reimagines Peter Pan for the new millennium. To Jan 5, Waterfront Theatre. $18-35. FADO: THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD The story of a young woman confronting her country’s fascist past and her own identity is interwoven with the heartbreaking national music of Portugal. To Dec 14, Firehall Arts Centre. From $25. IT’S A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS-ISH HOLIDAY MIRACLE Canadian comedy about a blended family during a complicated season. To Dec 22, Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre. From $29. MERRY KISSMASS: A ROYAL ROMANCE Vancouver TheatreSports presents improvised romantic holiday comedy Wed-Sat. To Dec 24, Improv Centre. From $10.75. VANCOUVER CHRISTMAS MARKET Authentic German market features more than 80 huts stuffed with sweets, treats, and treasures. To Dec 24, Jack Poole Plaza. $15. MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY AT UBC aIN A DIFFERENT LIGHT: REFLECTING ON NORTHWEST COAST ART to summer 2020 aPLAYING WITH FIRE: CERAMICS OF THE EXTRAORDINARY to Mar 29 MUSEUM OF VANCOUVER aHAIDA NOW: A VISUAL FEAST OF INNOVATION AND TRADITION to Dec 1 aTHERE IS TRUTH HERE to Dec 31 VANCOUVER ART GALLERY aVIKKY ALEXANDER: EXTREME BEAUTY to Jan 26 aROBERT RAUSCHENBERG 1965–1980 to Jan 26 aTRANSITS AND RETURNS to Feb 23 aCINDY SHERMAN to Mar 8
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28
Something is Happening (Il se passe quelque chose)
Welcome Back Mr. President
A sun-kissed road trip through provincial France parlays into a transformative journey of female friendship.
This sequel to the Italian box-office smash of 2013 sees Giuseppe Peppino Garibaldi (a loveable Claudio Bisio) again facing the challenge of living up to his name!
November 30 (Saturday) 8:30 pm
December 1 (Sunday) 4:30 pm
VETTA PRESENTS: ART OF THE TANGO FUGUE Jonathan Goldman guides a unique exploration of Bach and Piazzolla. Nov 28, 2 pm; Nov 29, 7:30 pm; Dec 1, 2 pm, West Point Grey United Church. $20/25. NASTY WOMEN COMEDY: THE NOVEMBER AWARENESS SHOW Feisty Vancouver women perform a standup comedy show. Nov 28, 7-10 pm, Biltmore Cabaret. $10/15. SAVE THE BAGS: A MULTIDISCIPLINARY ART FUNDRAISER Fundraiser for Spec Theatre’s new play Stuffy the Whale features film, theatre, and song. Nov 28, 8-11:55 pm, Havana Theatre. $12 or a bag of bags.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29
Kurier (The Messenger) Polish genre-hitmaker Władysław Pasikowski creates a white-knuckled espionage thriller inspired by a real-life war hero who couriered intel across enemy lines in WWII. December 1 (Sunday) 6:30 pm
When Tomatoes Met Wagner (ȩĲĮȞȠȕȐȖțȞİȡıȣȞȐȞĲȘıİĲȚȢȞĲȠȝȐĲİȢ) Marianna Economou’s wonderful documentary is about a small Thessaly village cultivating world-class tomatoes. December 1 (Sunday) 8:15 pm
The Mover (Tēvs nakts)
Winter Brothers (Vinterbrødre)
The valorous efforts of Žanis Lipke, known as “Latvia’s Schindler,” are compellingly rendered onscreen in writerdirector Dāvis Sīmanis’s haunting Holocaust drama.
A major discovery at film festivals, the debut feature of artist-turned-filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason is a daring feat of aesthetic immersion and brazenly askew storytelling.
December 2 (Monday) 6:30 pm
December 2 (Monday) 8:50 pm
TOQUE CRAFT FAIR Community event and fundraiser showcasing a selection of designers, artists, and makers. Nov 29–Dec 1, Western Front. By donation. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE Back by popular demand! The wild rumpus starts again with the return of PHT’s beloved Where the Wild Things Are. Jump in and help Max transform his bedroom into the many landscapes of his adventures. Sail along together to the land of the Wild Things! It’s a highly interactive, guided play experience. Ages 3-6. Nov 29–Dec 15, Presentation House Theatre. $22/18/12.50. HANDEL’S MESSIAH Guest director Ivars Taurins leads soloists with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Vancouver Cantata Singers. Nov 29, 7:30 pm, Kay Meek Arts Centre. $68/64/29. MUSIC ON THE POINT Flutist Paolo Bortolussi and Fringe Percussion perform works by Reich, Telemann, and Mozart. Nov 29, 7:309 pm, Roy Barnett Recital Hall. $20/10. GRAHAM CLARK’S 24 HOURS OF STANDUP Comedy marathon with all funds raised donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Nov 29-30, 8-9 pm, Havana Theatre. $10-50. A CHRISTMAS CAROL Ron Reed embodies Scrooge and 43 other characters in Dickens’s Christmas story. Nov 29–Dec 21, 8 pm, Pacific Theatre. $20-36.50.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30
The Resistance Banker (Bankier van het Verzet) Joram Lürsen’s engrossing WWII drama holds rank as the most nominated picture ever at the country’s film awards.
A Wedding (Noces) Cultural and generational discord drives Stephan Streker’s sobering drama, a commanding 2016 festival presence inspired by a true-life “honour killing” in Belgium.
Europe without the jet lag! Screenings at 1131 Howe Street | eufilmfestival.com
32 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
SHIP’S COMPANY: THE ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY AT WORK & PLAY Photography of Kathryn Mussallem that celebrates the diverse humanity of Canadian naval forces. Nov 30–May 10, Vancouver Maritime Museum. $13.50/$11. TEATRO INTIMO DEL FLAMENCO Karen Flamenco presents a one-hour production featuring live traditional flamenco music, dance, story lines, and magic. Nov 30, 5-6 pm, Improv Centre. $12. HANDEL’S MESSIAH The Capilano University Festival Chorus, Capilano University Singers, soloists, and professional orchestra perform under conductor Lars Kaario. Nov 30, 8 pm; Dec 1, 3 pm, BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts. $35/30/10. REVIVE: A CODA GUEST PRESENTATION AI performs new work of deceased composers. Nov 30, 8 pm, Performance Works. $15-$20.
ART OF THE TANGO FUGUE
(November 28 to 30 at West Point Grey United Church, and December 1 at Pyatt Hall) Bandoneon virtuoso and arranger Jonathan Goldman (shown here) joins the Vetta String Quartet in what promises to be an atmospheric journey through not only the works of Astor Piazzolla but also The Art of Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach. In other words, it’s a chance to hear the intricate baroque and the passionate tango in a single, fascinating recital.
EMILY CARR UNIVERSITY STUDENT ART SALE
(November 29 to December 1 at the Michael O’Brian Exhibition Commons) Think far beyond painting and sculpture for this annual extravaganza, now celebrating an unbelievable 46 years. Homewares, handmade cards, ceramics, photos, prints, and much, much more make for easy pickings if you have an art fan on your holiday list. g HANDEL’S MESSIAH Guest conductor Ivars Taurins leads the seasonal favourite. Nov 30, 8 pm, Chan Centre. $18-80. BECHDEL TEST BURLESQUE Nerdy feminist burlesque pop-culture commentary. Nov 30, 9 pm, Rio Theatre. $25/30.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1 CHRISTMAS AT THE CHAN Trinity Western University’s beloved Christmas event brings together four of TWU’s choral ensembles—Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Chamber Singers, and Masterworks Chorus—and full orchestra under the direction of Dr. Joel Tranquilla. It is made possible through the generous assistance of the Chan Endowment Fund of UBC. Dec 1, 2:30 pm, Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. $25.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 THE TRAGIC COMEDY OF MACBETH A comedic look at Shakespeare’s tragedy, partially scripted and partially improvised. Dec 4-15, 7:30-9:30 pm, Jericho Arts Centre. $25/30.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5 MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY A comic holiday play with classic Jane Austen charm. Dec 5–Jan 4, 2020, Granville Island Stage. From $29. UN FIL A LA PATTE Le Petit Théâtre presents a classic French vaudeville play. Dec 5-7, 7:30 pm, Alliance Française. $20. O CHRISTMAS TEA: A BRITISH COMEDY Off-Broadway comedians James & Jamesy present their Christmas comedy. Dec 5-7, 7:30 pm, Vancouver Playhouse. $19-44.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6 THE POSTMODERN CAMERATA’S CHRISTMAS SHOW: MY WISH TONIGHT Carols and songs from the golden age of American songwriting. Dec 6-8, Canadian Music Centre. $35. ALTERED CURRENTS SSNWC presents Altered Currents, featuring neon works by Cameron Clow and guest artists, 35mm film by leeaiko, and musical performances from Necking, Passive & Pudding. Sponsored by Good Company Lager, ABC & Greenhill Cider, hosted by SSNWC, The Ellis Building & Owens Oddities. Tickets available at Red Cat Records, Beat Street, and Eventbrite. Dec 6, 7:30 pm, The Ellis Building. $12 advance/$15 at the door. VANCOUVER CHAMBER CHOIR: CHRISTMAS ORATORIO The choir is joined by Owen McCausland, the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and artistic director Kari Turunen. Dec 6, 7:30 pm, Orpheum Annex. $15/21-55.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7 THE CHRISTMAS STORY—VIVALDI CHAMBER CHOIR Vivaldi Chamber Choir presents The Christmas Story, with narration from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. Beautiful choral music, with pianist Gabriel Landstedt, describes the story further. Veteran actor Bernard Cuffling is narrator. Post-show reception. 604-221-0665 for info Dec 7, 7-9:30 pm, St. Helen’s Anglican Church. $25/22. ARTS LISTINGS are a public service provided free of charge,. Submit events online using the event-submission form at straight.com/AddEvent. Events that don’t make it into the paper due to space constraints will appear on the website.
Stars shine at UBCP/ACTRA awards
(This article is sponsored by UBCP/ACTRA)
t was her third honour in four years, but Camille Sullivan was still surprised by her UBCP/ ACTRA best actress win. “I’m really honoured and thrilled— and a little shocked,” stated the film and TV veteran after picking up the trophy for her role in Bruce Sweeney’s feature, Kingsway. “UBCP/ACTRA has been hugely supportive. And God, they help with everything.” At a red carpet event held Saturday (November 23) at the Playhouse in downtown Vancouver—the eighth in UBCP/ACTRA history—Sullivan shared the honours with Ben Cotton, voted best actor for his work in the feature film, Crown & Anchor. UBCP/ACTRA recognition is uniquely significant for Sullivan, Cotton, and the other 7,000-plus film and TV professionals who call Vancouver home. An autonomous branch of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, it’s the second largest ACTRA branch in Canada, furnishing its members with competitive wages, health and retirement benefits, and improved work opportunities. Added to all this; UBC/ ACTRA knows how to pay tribute to the phenomenal talent it represents. Nominees for this year’s awards were chosen by a 35-member committee, who winnowed 256 submissions across five categories, for best actor (male and female), newcomer, voice, and stunt work. A short-list subsequently went to the 51 peer members of the adjudicating committee. Scores were then tallied by the accounting firm of Baker Tilley. And at the end of that busy process: a gala among the stars. On the red carpet, host Sabrina Furminger welcomed an array of familiar faces, from Lorne Cardinal to Sonja Bennett,
Camille Sullivan receives her third UBCP/ACTRA best actress award for the feature film Kingsway. Photo by Geoff Howe
Gabrielle Miller, John Cassini, and a leather jacketed Aleks Paunovic—who would later present the best actor prize to his friend and colleague, Cotton. Inside the theatre, guests mingled before Scrubs-star Tom Cavanagh took up hosting duties onstage, inaugurating the proceedings with an acoustic singalong to “Oh Canada”. An engaging, sometimes salty host, Cavanagh was a credit to show producer-director Jay Ono, who kept things moving with a Prince-inspired musical number and an in memoriam segment—accompanied by D.G. Adams on guitar—that included the first of two poignant tributes to recently
UBCP/ACTRA has been hugely supportive. And God, they help with everything. – Camille Sullivan
departed actor-musician John Mann. But this was first and foremost an awards show. In the category of best voice work, Erin Mathews was first to be honoured for her performance in the animated feature Super Monsters Furever Friends—a prize that the seasoned actress accepted on behalf of her “inner green cartoon child.” “UBCP/ACTRA supports us all, keeps us safe, and keeps this industry moving for all the talented people who live here,” Mathews would later remark. After only nine months as a member, actor Steven Roberts was especially moved to be recognized by UBCP/
ACTRA as this year’s best newcomer for his work in the feature In God I Trust. Rounding out the prizes, Stunt coordinator Eli Zagoudakis was honoured along with performers Nathaniel Shuker and Marshall Bingham for their work on the Arrow episode, “The Slabside Redemption”. “Arrow just came to a wrap,” noted Zagoudakis, of the long-running series. “So this is really special. Nathan and Marshall did an amazing job on this stunt so I’m really happy to see the award for these guys.” “It’s my first award since I’ve been in the industry,” added Bingham. “It’s pretty awesome.” “It’s amazing to be able to do what we love, make a living from it, and stay safe,” chuckled Shuker, in tribute to the union. The most bracing moment of the night was provided by veteran actress Lesley Ewen, clutching her Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award as she described the obstacles she’s faced as a woman of colour. “It’s taken about 45 years but, finally, okay, I’m ready now,” Ewen joked after the ceremony. “This feels like it’s the end of—not a chapter— but a volume.” Finally, as the recipient of the John Juliani Award of Excellence, legendary theatre pioneer and acting coach Mel Tuck echoed Camille Sullivan when asked about the honour. ”This is huge. I was very respectful of John, he was an amazing man, and it’s been a long journey, 56 years, so in that respect I feel very honoured—and also kinda humbled.” A triumph for all the winners, but also for the industry at large and UBCP/ACTRA in particular, the evening ended with yet another tribute to John Mann as Spirit of the West boomed across the Playhouse auditorium and a satisfied crowd made their way “Home For a Rest”. g
B.C. keeps it cool at Whistler film fest
by Adrian Mack
ith 86 features and shorts on the schedule, and guests including Simon Pegg, Joe Pantoliano, and Chelsea Peretti—each presenting their newest work—the Whistler Film Festival gets bigger (and cooler) every year. An array of networking and learning opportunities is only further inducement. If that’s not enough, check out the scenery, goddammit. It all opens on Wednesday (December 4) with a screening of Katharine O’Brien’s Lost Transmissions—starring Pegg as a schizophrenic ’90s rock star—and wraps four days later with Vancouver’s alleys are occupied by Aadila Dosani, (among other things) the second of two chances Andrew Dunbar, and Jacky Lai in Fall Back Down. to catch The Irishman on the big screen. Among the goodies in between are some of the B.C.– living by their own compass. That’s definitely in my roots. These are entirely the things that made delights we’ve picked out below. interest me, and these are my politics.” Edwards ruefully concludes that carving FALL BACK DOWN out a career in film has made her “more bord IT TOOK 10 years for S.B. Edwards to make ing”, though her feature debut provides pasa movie that captures the essence of a certain sionate and unhinged evidence to the contrary. Vancouver subculture right now. It’s a strange, cheerful, quixotic little film that Shot in the well-worn back alleys and honours the filmmaker’s goal of representing unreno’d homes of deep East Van, Fall Back “my people in the noble light I see everyone Down is populated by a nonbinary rainbow in”. Certainly, Edwards was adventurous (i.e., of anarcho-punks, fringe artists, and undocu- not boring) enough to let the screenplay take mented immigrants scrambling their way its own eccentric narrative journey, peppering through the gig economy. By the time black it with non sequiturs like one character’s brief bloc activist Nick (Andrew Dunbar) and fiery detour into—of all things—Neil LaBute. sweatshop seamstress Reena (Aadila Dosani) “I indulged myself with one meta moment,” find themselves inside a murder mystery, Fall she says, explaining that it harks back to her Back Down has outpaced the viewer with days pounding the pavement looking for film curveballs including a Bollywood dance num- work in L.A. An interview with LaBute was ber and Joe “Shithead” Keithley’s cameo as a going swimmingly up until Edwards casually thug for hire. (He gets the best line when he used the phrase “110 percent”, triggering a exits the film, fuming, “Fucking millennials!”) diatribe from the apparently somewhat pedan“If it took much longer it’d be behind the tic filmmaker. “It was like Seinfeld,” she says. times,” Edwards jokes, confirming that Fall “Like this Costanza thing. ‘I lost the job over Back Down is a love letter to her own youth- 110 percent. It was fucking 110 percent!’ So I ful experiences. “I wish I was still more in the just put it in the film, in case I only ever get to community. When I was younger and just make one movie.” loose, it was fantastic. The queer community, The Straight is 110 percent sure that S.B. Edthe traveller community, the activists. On one wards will make more than one movie. end black bloc, who I hugely respect, and then also the anarchist variations, a lot of people Fall Back Down screens at the Village 8 Cinemas next who are just carving out their own values, and Thursday and Friday (December 5 and 6).
PROMISELAND d FOR ITS entire 80 or so minutes, Promiseland plunges the viewer into a cold-blooded underworld of sex work and human traffickers, punctuated by jolts of gunplay and hand-tohand combat. And then, about halfway through, a killer with a taste for point-blank head shots is asked to name his favourite movie. His reply, after a thoughtful beat: “Death Wish V.” Kirk Caouette chuckles as he recalls, “Yeah, that was kind of thrown in on the day,” but the laughs end there. Shot in the Downtown Eastside, the rain-streaked, neon-daubed world of Promiseland is a hellish place, relieved only by the growing relationship between jaded sex worker Velvet (Andrea Stefancikova) and the postmilitary avenging angel Victor, played by Caouette. It’s a mood piece that the filmmaker himself struggles to describe, part Taxi Driver and part Wong Kar-wai, but with the superior action sequences you’d expect from a veteran stunt professional like Caouette. His charming debut as a writer-director with 2012’s Hit ’n Strum came about due to career fatigue. “After doubling the lead in Elektra,” he says, “I was like, ‘I’m done. I’m making a musical.’ ” His second feature seems more like a full-on confrontation with the meaning of his work. Victor is the kind of PTSD–suffering super soldier Hollywood loves to elevate into an action hero, a morally corrosive cliché that’s almost invisible because it’s ubiquitous. “Eighty percent of television and movies involve murder,” he says. “In stunts that’s pretty much all we do. We create violence and death on-camera, we simulate killing or hurting people badly. I guess it’s kind of an escape. It’s like watching sports or whatever, two warriors going into battle. We’re fascinated by it. I don’t understand it, but I do know it all ends up leaving you with a hole in your soul. Almost all of my colleagues, everyone has an existential crisis after about 10 or 15 years, and a lot of people get into writing or acting or poetry or other things that provide relief from that feeling.”
Promiseland fascinates because these worlds are in collision. Caouette’s Victor maintains a darkly poetic internal monologue. The violence—sudden and explosive—is purging. “I don’t think there’s anything less understood than the human pain behind these action scenes,” he says. “I got married a couple years ago and my wife didn’t really believe that stuntpeople existed. ‘You’re not really doing those things!’ ” Chuckling again, he affirms: “Yes, we are.” Promiseland screens at the Village 8 Cinemas next Thursday (December 5) and the Maury Young Arts Centre next Friday (December 6).
CLOSING THE GAP: HOCKEY IN NORTH KOREA d EXTRAORDINARY AS it seems, a small production unit from Vancouver spent two years travelling in and out of Pyongyang to make Closing the Gap: Hockey in North Korea. Perhaps even more extraordinary: while the crew worked extensively with the Ministry of Sports, director Nigel Edwards tells the Straight that they experienced virtually nothing in the way of official interference. “There was nobody looking over our shoulders, none of our footage was reviewed, none of the filming was censored,” he says. “I think the North Koreans already do enough selfcensoring as it is.” Getting its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival, Closing the Gap offers an invaluable perspective on a country met with suspicion and fear in the West. Players are uniformly polite but circumspect when they speak to camera, always pledging their on-ice efforts to honour “Dear Marshal”. When the DPRK national men’s team travels to Auckland, New Zealand, for an IIHF tournament, its Soviet-era style of play and failing equipment speak to North Korea’s painful isolation. UN sanctions, healthinsurance issues, and cultural barriers create further havoc for the tournament organizers. But the Gap being closed here is human. see next page
NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 33
from previous page
Ideological differences vanish inside the joys and disappointments of the game. Gradually, the film brings us a little closer to these men, while Edwards assiduously steers clear of the propaganda spilling from both sides. “I think there’s maybe two shots of the giant statues of the Kims at Mansudae,” he says, “but there’s not a lot of western rhetoric. What we really tried to do is just highlight in the most delicate way a few individuals among a group of people where it’s not common to be an individual.” In its poignant closing moments, the tables are reversed and the filmmakers are asked, “What do you think of our country? What do you think the people of the world are going to say?” Edwards wisely cuts before we hear an answer. “I remember coming back the first time, and I was so incredibly humbled by these people that we met, and the vulnerability they shared with us, and the conversa-
Team spirit thrives (and then some) in Closing the Gap: Hockey in North Korea.
tions that we had,” he says. “North Korea’s a bit of a black hole, in the sense that the deeper you go, the more questions you have. For me to sum up North Korea in a digestible sound bite for people back home— it’s really difficult to do, but also, it’s not my place.” Closing the Gap: Hockey in North Korea screens at the Village 8 Cinemas next Thursday and Friday (December 5 and 6).
d SURELY, IT’S rule number one for any screenwriter: no time travel! “We were warned!” groans director Tony Dean Smith, who penned the Vancouver-shot mindbender Volition with his brother, Ryan. “The joke was ‘I wish we had a semblance of the clairvoyance James did.’ We’d have known not to tackle this material. It was really difficult. A real puzzle piece of a script.” Played by Adrian Glynn McMorran, James is Volition’s antihero, a man whose unfortunate gift for precognition has consigned him to the margins of society. When he’s tapped to handle a lucrative job by a local crime boss played by John Cassini, James’s misadventures lead to the source of his unwieldy talent—and that’s where the time travel comes in. Eventually, the fast-paced romp has multiple versions of James observing each other and trying to correct their mistakes. Says the Vancouver-based director: “We had such a long prep; we ironed out a lot of the issues only to be surprised in postproduction, when those issues just popped up somewhere else.” Reshoots took care of that, and Volition went on to score the best-feature award at the 2019 Philip K. Dick Film Festival—a nice parallel, since the sci-fi author was stricken by his own precognitive abilities. Smith was already a fan and dived into Dick’s thousand-page Exegesis after wrapping the film. “It’s my favourite of his work because it’s him talking about this process of discovering stories that the universe had already finished and was sending back as messages through time,” he enthuses. “I think science is still maybe catching up. I think we don’t have the tools to measure what Philip K. Dick was suggesting—that there is something to time and perception that we’re not quite aware of.” Indeed, one of the pleasing things about Volition is the commitment to its metaphysical premise, coming off
as something more than a writing team reaching for an off-the-shelf angle. Smith cagily mentions his own experiences with clairvoyance—“I come at it from a very honest place,” he says—but it’s probably enough at this point to simply record his feelings about the finished product. “We’re so proud of the film, that it was all locally made and that we tried to do something that was deeper for us, and not just a science-fiction adventure film,” he states. Volition screens at the Village 8 Cinemas next Thursday and Friday (December 5 and 6).
THUNDERBIRD d IN ONE of Thunderbird’s many striking images, a woman’s body is discovered in a forest with what looks like a mask of congealed red wax covering her entire head. Within minutes, we know that we’re in for a better-than-average ride, in this case a superb low-budget film that falls somewhere between True Detective and the Canadian
Something very weird is going down outside of Port Hardy in Thunderbird.
environmental thriller Clearcut (1991). Like that much-admired (if little-seen) movie, Thunderbird borrows from First Nations legend to leave the viewer unsure if the membrane between material reality and the spirit world has been breached. “I remember, as a kid, meeting some elders and hearing them tell
stories as if they were factual truths, like these were real creatures and that our world intersects with the supernatural world,” says writerdirector Nicholas Treeshin. “That always stuck with me.” The roots of the film, shot in Port Hardy, can be traced back to Treeshin’s experiences growing up in Yellowknife and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. There, he says, “I saw firsthand the worst of the worst prejudice and racism and how it divides people.” Thunderbird doesn’t play coy with this. Its principal character (played with remarkable assurance by newcomer Colten Wilke) is a troubled white loner whose relationship with the Indigenous community is mutually hostile. “If the character would have been some super good-looking Hollywood guy, I don’t think I could have done it,” says Treeshin. “He’s not really an antihero, but we’re following a character that we’re not really sure that we like right away.” He’s aided by a cop (Natalie Brown) dismayed by the racial tension on all sides. Meanwhile, she’s not sure if she’s tracking a ritualistic serial killer, something much weirder, or both. Fearing charges of cultural appropriation (“It kept me up many a night”), Treeshin turned to the Coast Salish for guidance with the script and production. The narrative risks he takes are equally bold, with all departments (art direction in particular) rising to the standards set by its first-time director. Too much Canadian film feels like a race to the finish line. Thunderbird’s attention to craft and detail sets it apart, along with Treeshin’s storytelling confidence and comfort with ambiguity. “There’s a whole lot of shit in Blade Runner that’s never explained and I just kinda like that,” he says. “To me, tone is everything. If the tone is great, as a moviegoer, I’m along for the ride.” g Thunderbird screens at the Village 8 Cinemas next Thursday and Saturday (December 5 and 7).
Pleasure meets pain in Marriage Story by Ken Eisner
REVIEWS MARRIAGE STORY
Starring Adam Driver. Rating unavailable
34 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
d MARRIAGE STORY is an obvious passion project for Noah Baumbach, who has focused on fragmented families (resembling his own), from The Squid and the Whale to his recent Netflix outing, The Meyerowitz Stories. Here, he boils marital life down to Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as Charlie and Nicole, a New York couple with everything going for them—it seems. Charlie’s a successful experimental-theatre director about to make his Broadway debut with a modernist version of Elektra. (Talk about daddy issues!) And Hollywood is headhunting Nicole, his muse and rising star. They have a cute, not overly precocious eight-year-old son (Azhy Robertson) they both dote on. And when we meet the couple, each reads long, highly detailed descriptions of what they most love about each other. Unfortunately, these letters are part of the divorce mediation they’re going through. Rather than show us what led up to their untimely split, Baumbach moves forward, through Nicole’s relocation to Los Angeles, to work on a sci-fi series, with both parties caught up in separation woes usually reserved for the very wealthy. She hooks up with a go-for-the-throat divorce lawyer, played by Laura Dern, who appears to have driven down from the Santa Barbara of Big Little Lies. Charlie feels pushed to find his own shark—Ray Liotta, so what could go wrong?—although he settles for a more humanistic type (Alan Alda). The split is almost as tough on friends and family, with Nicole’s
The pillow talk gets a tad uncomfortable for Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in writer-director Noah Baumbach’s searing (if very entertaining) latest, Marriage Story.
mother (Airplane’s Julie Hagerty, in a terrific screen return) having a particularly hard time picking sides. This may sound like anguished stuff, but while the stars provide enough searing emotion to moisten even the driest eyes, Baumbach finds raucous humour and wry insight throughout. Happily for the two-and-a-quarter-hour running time, he keeps a sharp eye on entertainment value. Near the end, both parties—still on opposite coasts— perform one-take, complete songs from Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Nicole’s is with her family; Charlie does his alone. In the end, there’s a sense that this Story is weighted towards Charlie’s POV, especially when you know that it covers some terrain of Baumbach’s own rough break with Jennifer Jason Leigh, with notable ellipses. But Johansson, at her mature best, doesn’t let anyone else totally dominate the proceedings. Her essential truthfulness, like the movie itself, gets under your skin.
Starring Mark Ruffalo. Rated PG
d MORE THAN THE waters are dark in this timely, meaningful, but ultimately soft-landing environmental drama. For some reason, director Todd Haynes and cinematographer Ed Lachman (who helped him achieve stylish greatness in Carol and Far From Heaven, and did the same for Steven Soderbergh in the similarly themed Erin Brockovich) couldn’t be bothered to turn on the lights for this one. Superficially, it’s appropriate that a fact-based tale bent on illuminating dirty secrets DuPont kept from the public for eight decades be shot through a lens bleakly. There’s no sun in the skies of 1998 West Virginia, scene of devastating pollution, and Cincinnati, Ohio, home of Robert Bilott, the corporate lawyer played well by Mark Ruffalo (who also helped produce). And things see next page
Daughters remain fiercely original
by Mike Usinger
onsidering his reputation for putting on the kind of live show where blood flows, clothes end up discarded, and public decency laws are occasionally violated, it’s a little surprising to hear what Alexis S.F. Marshall has been up to as he readies to hit the road with Daughters. “Oh shit, I missed my turn,” the engaging frontman says, speaking on his cellphone via Bluetooth while navigating the streets of Providence, Rhode Island. “We have a band meeting in a little bit, so I’m in transit trying to get back to the house where it’s at. I was just at an antique store and I lost track of time. “Because I’m 40, I antique,” he continues with a laugh. “I collect old photos of people—things like the 13th Regiment, or the Men’s Polish Club of Tahoe and shit like that. Weird, old blackand-white photos of people in large groups.” His fascination with such finds is multifaceted. “First of all, everyone looks great,” Marshall says. “Everyone will have fantastic hair. But there will be some guy missing an eye, and someone who’s pigeon-breasted—hard living, and it really shows. At the same time, no one’s wearing fucking sweatpants. It’s when picture-taking was very much a formal thing. I’ve got pictures of the Knights of Columbus in some weird American town I’ve never heard of. They’re shots from a different time when people were cut from a different cloth. There’s a wonderful charm to these kind of photos because they tell stories that you don’t know.” What he likes is that the more you use your imagination to flesh out things, the more fascinating they become. That works as a description of Daughters’ most recent record, last year’s essential You Won’t Get What You Want. Continuing a legacy that dates back to the band’s formation in 2002, the full-length’s brilliance is in how Daughters belong on the same record shelf as trailblazers like Nick Cave, Dead Can Dance, Cop Shoot Cop, Big Black, the Locust, and every pioneering band that’s ever distilled Swedish death metal or American hardcore down to brutal basics. That’s another way of saying that Marshall— look even grimmer on the farmstead of the perfectly named Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), who has lost his livestock and more to the seeping landfill next door. Bilott’s outfit specializes in defending chemical companies, but he reluctantly takes Tennant’s case, with ambivalent support from his silver-fox boss (Tim Robbins). He soon makes enemies of his former friends, who attend social events with white ties and black servants. And it takes a crash course in chemistry to unearth exactly what unbreakable string of carbon molecules DuPont came up with, with its human costs now literally buried in the ground and (gulp) in our bodies. Attacks roll off the Tefloncoated behemoth, and most of the film’s two hours plus is devoted to lawyerly strategies to at least chink that armour. Especially now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a front for the worst polluters, this material—taken from the New York Times Magazine and other reportage—is inherently compelling. It’s not automatically cinematic, however, and that makes the director’s anti-aesthetic particularly frustrating. The grungy ’70s look of his own Safe tackled enviro-paranoia at just the right distance. But Haynes is a hired gun here, working from a connect-the-dots script that dutifully keeps tacking back to Bilott’s dull suburban home life, primarily to give some busywork to a wasted Anne Hathaway, sporting a wig that’s halfway between sassy and Stepford. In the end, the movie’s grim look, with its parade of grey silhouettes and murky shadows, feels more like a cop-out than a choice. When Bilott decides to go through boxes of DuPont evidence in a windowless storage room, he moves a desk lamp to the floor to sort papers, without flipping on an overhead light. That seems silly. But maybe he’s just being green.
along with guitarist Nicholas Sadler, drummer Jon Syverson, and bassist Samuel Walker— does grimy industrial clatter every bit as effectively as coffin-dirt goth, tribal postpunk, and road-rash noise rock. More importantly, they do so in a way that’s fiercely original. Right from You Won’t Get What You Want’s postapocalyptic opener, “City Song”, Daughters not only set an oppressively chaotic mood, but take listeners on a journey. Pick apart the album’s 10 tracks and you’ll find sprawling treatises on everything from ideological extremism to religion to suburban ennui to the character-testing trials and endless tribulations that mark the lives of most of us on this planet. As a lyricist, Marshall—who is also a published poet—has a flair for near-genius lines like “That bastard had a head like a matchstick/ Face like he was sucking concrete through a straw.” He’s also smart enough to know that things can have the biggest impact when they’re left up to interpretation rather than laid out in black-and-white. “I think the record is dark, in that a lot of the material is obviously about mental illness and so on, but there are also certainly moments where things come out the other side,” the singer says. “So I don’t think that it’s all horror. There’s goodness stored in there somewhere, even though it might seem few and far between. But that’s my take on things. What it means to me doesn’t really matter a lot, because everything is open to interpretation. “What’s nice about art in general and as a whole is that there’s no definitive way to listen to this record or interpret lyrical content, or the themes, or the aesthetic, or really anything,” he continues. “It’s up to the listener to decide where they stand and how they feel. Something that to me might be tragic might have a positive lining for someone else.” It’s no accident, then, that the shadow of religion hangs over sonic night terrors like “Satan in the Wait” and “The Lords Song”. “People want an answer for comfort, and to help explain things that are absolutely without explanation,” Marshall says philosophically. “So
Daughters probe ideological extremism, religion, and suburban ennui on You Won’t Get What You Want.
what do you do? Everyone can’t be a scientist, but everyone can have faith. You don’t have to be educated to believe in something, and I find that exciting. I was not brought up religious at all. I was baptized—but only because my mother thought that’s what you were supposed to do when she had me. I never went to church. It never made a lot of sense to me, and it never appealed to me spiritually. But I’m a fan of stories and literature and song, and religion lends itself very well to all of that.” Marshall acknowledges that he spent more than one lost weekend staring into the void. That’s made him philosophical, and in some way weirdly inspired by past life decisions. “As a former—actually, forever I’ll be an alcoholic, I did have my moment of clarity, as most alcoholics have,” he says. “There was that external, or internal, realization of ‘All right, this is not working.’ And I hold on to that during those times when I think, ‘Man, I should get drunk as shit right now because it could be a lot of fun.’ But I don’t think that there’s anything
Marshall Willams and Laura Slade Wiggins star in the Canadian musical Stand!
Starring Laura Slade Wiggins. Rated PG
d CANADA IS USUALLY seen as the Good Guy (pronoun optional) on the world stage. But you don’t have to go back very far at all to find bad behaviour regarding its treatment of minorities, Indigenous people, refugees, and even naturalized citizens. The turning away of Jews fleeing Hitler’s Europe and the maltreatment of Japanese Canadians during, and after, World War II are familiar black eyes. The 1919 General Strike in Winnipeg is a little more mysterious, though, and this ambitious musical attempts to redress that with a few songs and some period dress and choreography. Written by Rick Chafe and Danny Schur, and based on the latter’s musical-theatre piece Strike!, the movie wears some West Side Story influences openly, centring its slice of social upheaval, labour unrest, and intra-ethnic tensions on the Romeo and Juliet–lite story of handsome Ukrainian steelworker Stefan Sokolowski (Glee’s Marshall Williams) and the Jewish suffragist Rebecca Almazoff (Laura Slade Wiggins), who lives next door. If not quite Sharks-versus-Jets material, the immigrants don’t get along that well, but they have a common enemy in the form of Anglo
soldiers, recently returned from the First World War and understandably disgruntled about the lack of work awaiting them. Industry captains, happy to have a huge pool of foreignborn workers willing to work for pennies, and genuinely freaked out by the Bolshevik upheaval in Russia, would rather fuel local resentment than accommodate anyone. That’s when unions step in, intersecting with other social demands. Consequently, it’s not hard to get ex-soldiers—who here tend to call anyone from Eastern Europe a “bohunk”—to march with a banner reading “To Hell with the Alien Enemy”. They say history doesn’t really repeat, but it does rhyme. Director Robert Adetuyi, a Canadian who works in Hollywood, makes a strong impression on a low budget, and marshals large groups of people in dynamic ways. The tale also offers a more widely representative view of who lived on the Prairies back then. But he’s less secure with smaller groups, especially with uneven acting talent; most players are speaking English with fake accents, and there’s a lot of stunted dialogue, along the lines of “Father, can’t you see that we’re all the same?” The songs are pleasant, if sparse and not that memorable, and Stand! seems more likely to end up with viewers sitting in classrooms, not movie theatres—which, by the way, are rarely unionized. g
spiritual that I cling to otherwise when things are unravelling. Everything is always unravelling—my life right now has been unravelling in a very large way these past few months. It’s more important to seize on and embrace those moments when you realize ‘You know what? This is a beautiful world, as bad and shitty as it sometimes is. There’s goodness beneath the dirt.’ ” And that explains why he’s able to see that even the most hopelessly black times were a blessing. “A few years ago I was prescribed some antidepressants, and I didn’t want to take them because I wasn’t sure what they would do to me creatively,” Marshall says. “Like, if they alter my mood, am I going to be able to write if I’m not unhappy? Maybe it was also that I didn’t want to get better at that time. We all know what it’s like to suffer—we’ve all been through something. And it’s not hard to tap into that. There’s a willingness that I have to kind of go into unpleasant places that I’d rather not go back to. But it has to be done. That I can sometimes get some good out of that justifies the means.” And getting something good out of the pain is sometimes the best one can hope for. For Marshall, that’s as true in the studio as it is during Daughters’ infamous live exorcisms, where the singer is as likely to be losing his shit, and clothes, in a sweaty lather with fans on the dance floor as he is to be bruised and writhing about on-stage. Perhaps his ultimate goal is to guide his fellow travellers through the darkness, knowing that the point of the journey is not only to use your imagination, but also to end up in a better place. “It doesn’t all have to be misery, but I find we learn the most about ourselves in moments of tragedy rather than joy,” Marshall says. “When we’re happy we don’t really question the world around us and the point of life. But when you fall down hard, you begin to question everything. That, unfortunately, is of great interest to me and has been since I was a kid, and I don’t think that will ever go away.” g Daughters play the Rickshaw Theatre on Sunday (December 1).
NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT 35
Close Talker is going nowhere
Despite its growing success, the Saskatoon band has no desire to relocate ORGANIST HAZELTON TAKES HIS FUNKY JAZZ TO CHURCH
The members of Close Talker grew up in Saskatchewan. Photo by Nicole Marie
> Go on-line to read hundreds of I Saw You posts or to respond to a message < COMMERCIAL DRIVE: YOU WITH HUSKY, ME WITH FRIDA KAHLO BAG.
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 18, 2019 WHERE: Liberty Wine Merchants, Commercial Drive Inside the wine store, you: tall & handsome. Your equally handsome Husky tried to eat the smoked salmon out of my Frida Kahlo bag. Wanna go for a dog walk together sometime?
TALKING ABOUT PLANTS - BUS STOP AT TURKS CAFE
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 16, 2019 WHERE: Bus Stop Commercial Near Turks Cafe I pulled up next to you on a bike as you were waiting for the bus on Commercial near Turks on a rainy Saturday afternoon. We talked about plants that you bought until my friend showed up. There was certainly a spark in the air and I so wished I would have asked for your number before the bus took you away. Let’s meet again and go plant shopping!
FUSE ART GALLERY
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 22, 2019 WHERE: Art Gallery We were at FUSE. Made eye contact a couple times as I walked by in the Art Bar. Both busy in conversation with friends but should have spoken up and at least said hi. Hope to see you around other art events.
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 22, 2019 WHERE: North Vancouver You were the driver of the 240 to Vancouver I got on at Lonsdale in North Van. I was surprised to see such a good looking driver and I looked a bit rough as I was just getting off work... Couldn't help but stare felt like I caught you looking too, maybe we can do it again?
RAILWAY CLUB, SITTING AT THE BAR
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 23, 2019 WHERE: Railway Club, Vancouver I was with a group when I looked down the bar and saw you sitting with your male friend. I think you may have noticed me staring, because you came and hovered behind me by the window while waiting for your friend in the bathroom. You have a long dark peacoat and medium blondish hair. I think I detected an accent? By the time I worked up my courage to talk to you, you left. I’d love to grab a drink with you sometime.
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 22, 2019 WHERE: Glow Gardens You were dressed as the princess in blue (working for Glow), @Glow Gardens Vancouver, walking around getting photos taken. I asked you if I could take a photo with you in the proposal stance. I was down on one knee and I had asked if you would look surprised. I didn't think until afterward; if you find this message, go for some drinks? If you can remember what I was wearing, I‚'d know for sure it's you.
SMILES AT YVR
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 16, 2019 WHERE: Vancouver International Airport We were on the same flight from Minneapolis. I accidentally opened the door on someone in the bathroom and had a little giggle. We exchanged smiles several times after that... I was too shy to say hello. You seemed intrigued with me too but you were with a group. I think I over heard you were there with you mom (very cute). I also overheard that you were staying at the Hyatt. Not going to lie, I thought I might go grab a coffee in the lobby but thought that might be a bit weird. Hoping that you make the next move and ask me for a drink before you leave?
WALKING WITH YOUR DOG
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 20, 2019 WHERE: Nelson Park You were walking your dog with another girl on the street by Nelson Park and smiled and then said “Hi” to me as I walked by you and I said “Hi” back. Then as I walked up the stairs to my building you looked back at me. You were a brunette wearing a black coat and I was wearing glasses and black backpack.
BABE WITH THE INFECTIOUS LAUGH
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 17, 2019 WHERE: The Birds and the Beets You were sitting at the table next to mine in the corner chatting with a friend. I wanted to say hi but I didn’t want to interrupt either. You were wearing a red top with jeans and your smile was second to none. Would love to get to know you more.
PARK ROYAL WINDOW SHOPPER IN THE RAIN
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: NOVEMBER 16, 2019 WHERE: Park Royal Near Whole Foods I crossed paths about three times on Saturday afternoon. Tall, dark, and handsome, and I should have rolled down my window as you passed in front of me with that giant smile. I drove a Navy Blue car and was wearing my favourite coat. If you find this ad and want to have coffee at Park Royal sometime, send me a note. To test your memory, what colour coat was I wearing, and what model of car was I driving? You had a black umbrella and a navy blue quilted jacket.
WEST COAST EXPRESS GIRL OF MY DREAMS
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Visit straight.com to post your FREE I Saw You _ 36 THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT NOVEMBER 28 – DECEMBER 5 / 2019
d DON’T MISINTERPRET THE title of Close Talker’s new full-length, How Do We Stay Here?. One can read it as the kind of question asked by creative people who end up stuck in Nowheresville. Think redneck-outpost Alberta, Barkerville, B.C., or anywhere in Manitoba not named Winnipeg. Close Talker comes from Saskatoon, which is often overshadowed by more celebrated cultural hubs like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. But as anyone who’s ever been to the city will attest, it has no shortage of charms, from the picturesque bridges over the winding South Saskatchewan River to the boozy minivillage that is Broadway Avenue. Small though Saskatoon sometimes seems, the members of Close Talker have never thought about relocating. “It’s so community-driven, and that’s why we love it and why we’ve probably stayed,” drummer Chris Morien says, speaking on his cell from a Toronto tour stop. “It’s a place where you really feel at home and connected to people. I haven’t really spent enough time in other cities to say that wouldn’t happen elsewhere, but bigger cities seem a little more disconnected.” It hasn’t hurt that, since forming in 2012, Close Talker has been gushed over by heavy-hitting outlets like NPR, Interview, Billboard, Spin, and Q. Albums like Lens and Timbers have been celebrated for a strain of meditative indie rock often injected with doublefuzzed distortion. That’s helped build a base on both sides of the border. “Being in Saskatoon has afforded us a lot of comforts, even financially, because it’s so cheap to live here,” Morien says. “But also being here maybe forces us to get out of the city and tour. In Toronto, you can be a band that plays a lot and do quite well even if you’re almost unknown outside of the city. Then you reach a point where you’re so big everyone sort of catches on. Because of where we started and grew up, we were forced to tour. We can play Saskatoon twice a year at this point. Otherwise, we’re saturating the market. So if we want to play shows, we have to go somewhere else.” If this makes Close Talker sound like a band that realizes smart planning and hard work can be a career substitute for blind luck, that’s definitely the case. When it came time
to begin work on How Do We Stay Here?, Morien and his bandmates— singer-guitarist Will Quiring and guitarist Matthew Kopperud—drew up a carefully thought-out blueprint. The result was a decidedly downtempo record made for walking the long, grey beaches of Tofino—a place that Close Talker has not only spent plenty of time in, but also used as a backdrop for numerous videos, including the new “Half Past Nine”. The trio sets the mood with the ghost-town chillwave of “Void”, and then holds steady right until the cello-laced closer, “Refuge”. Even when taking mild sonic detours— as with the ’80s-flashback synths in “The Change It Brings” or the incandescent guitars in “Pace”—How Do We Stay Here? is about as perfect a rainy-Sunday soundtrack as you’ll find this fall.
It’s a place where you can really feel at home and connected to people. – Close Talker’s Chris Morien
“With every record, we’ve had a different approach,” Morien offers. “After you tour and go through an album cycle, you sometimes have this pendulum swing. I don’t know whether it’s just getting sick of the songs or whatever, but it’s like, ‘Okay, we tried that—let’s do something new.’ One of our goals was longevity—trying to make music that we’d still be in love with five, 10, or 20 years from now. Sometimes you get fatigued with songs when you play them a lot. We wanted to challenge ourselves on that front by creating an album that we’d be proud of. And not just today.” by Mike Usinger
Close Talker plays the WISE Hall next Thursday (December 5).
d CHRIS HAZELTON leads at least a couple of bands, books shows for touring acts, and operates his own independent record label, Sunflower Soul—but don’t call the Hammond organ specialist Kansas City’s answer to local impresario and saxophonist Cory Weeds. “That guy’s basically the hardestworking dude in jazz!” Hazelton says with a laugh, when the Georgia Straight runs the notion past him during a telephone conversation from his Missouri home. Sunflower Soul has only a couple of full-length albums and a handful of vinyl 45s to its credit, he points out, as opposed to the 100-plus CDs Weeds’s Cellar Live imprint has issued. Still, the two musicians are on the same page when it comes to jazz—they both love organ trios, swinging beats, bebop solos, and the bluesier side of the music. After hearing Weeds’s 2006 release The Many Deeds of Cory Weeds on a Kansas City radio station, Hazelton knew that he had to bring his Canadian counterpart stateside for a show or two. Weeds quickly reciprocated, and now the organist is returning to B.C. to play an opento-the-public birthday party for the promoter at Frankie’s Jazz Club, and to headline Weeds’s latest off-piste venture: the Shadbolt Jazz Walk, a daylong mini-festival at Burnaby’s Shadbolt Arts Centre. Appropriately enough, the two gigs will let local listeners hear at least three sides of Hazelton’s talents: playing funky party jazz, backing singer Alyssa Allgood with sensitive accompaniment, and roaring over Jill Townsend’s all-star big band in a tribute to Hammond pioneer Jimmy Smith’s Christmas Cookin’ album. “It’s kind of a timeless sound that takes you in a lot of different directions,” Hazelton says of Smith’s 1966 classic, which gives 10 holiday standards a bluesy, bossa-nova-inflected spin. “I remember buying it on a CD as a gift for my dad, and we listened to it as a family, sitting around at the house on Christmas Day. So it kind of holds a sentimental place in my heart, and getting to play the music is really pretty amazing—like, ‘Oh, man, I’ve been listening to this for so long, and now I’m performing it!’ ” Apart from that, Christmas Cookin’ is a natural outlet for the organist’s talents, as he’s already accustomed to mixing a spiritual message with a good-time vibe. Until recently, Hazelton was the organist at Kansas City’s Centennial United Methodist Church, and he admits that blending the sacred and the secular comes easily to him. “On Sunday morning, I often got the comment ‘Did you forget you weren’t in the club?’ ” he says, laughing. “And on Saturday night it would be ‘Did you forget you’re not in church?’ But I think it’s all related. If we think of music as a spiritual thing, it doesn’t really matter where it happens. We’ve had church moments in jazz clubs, where the audience maybe had an encounter with God, and vice versa. And I’ve had moments in church where I’ve felt like maybe the secular side of my playing got people to moving in a way that they didn’t think they would be on Sunday morning.” It all bodes well for Hazelton’s upcoming Vancouver performances. After all, what’s not to like about having a funky good time with perhaps just a hint of something more? by Alexander Varty
Chris Hazelton plays Cory Weeds’ Birthday Bash at Frankie’s Jazz Club on Saturday (November 30), before headlining the Shadbolt Jazz Walk on Sunday (December 1).
CONCERTS JUST ANNOUNCED SOUND HOUSE: NÊHIYAWAK Cree rock band from Edmonton. Dec 5, 7-9:30 pm, Museum of Anthropology at UBC. $15. CHANTAL KREVIAZUK Canadian pop singer-songwriter performs on her Christmas Is a Way of Life Tour. Dec 5, 7-10 pm, Centennial Theatre. $49.50. CLOSE TALKER Indie-rock band from Saskatoon, with guests Nature Of from Alberta. Dec 5, 8 pm, WISE Hall. $12. JOHN REISCHMAN & THE JAYBIRDS Bluegrass band blends original songs and instrumentals with Appalachian old-time music. Dec 5, 8-10:30 pm, St. James Hall. $28/24. ELEVATE MUSIC PROJECT NIGHT THREE Performances by the Broken Islands, Matt Storm, Michaela Slinger, Sound Cinema, Ben Cottrell, and Shiloh Lindsey. Dec 6, Biltmore Cabaret. $5. CAVALCADE OF STARS Performances by Pointed Sticks, the Modernettes, Eddie D and the Sex Bombs, and Strange Breed. Dec 6, 8 pm, Rickshaw Theatre. $15/20. JOEP BEVING Dutch pianist and composer. Feb 21, 9 pm, WISE Hall. $30. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS Southern rockers from the States play tunes from new album
The Unraveling. Mar 17, 9 pm, Commodore Ballroom. $35. PINK MARTINI Portland orchestra blends classical music, classic pop, Latin music, and jazz. Apr 13, 7:30 pm, The Orpheum Theatre. Tix on sale Nov 29, 10 am, $89.50/69.50/45.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27 THIEVERY CORPORATION American electronic-music act featuring Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. Nov 27, 9:30 pm, Commodore Ballroom. $65. KING DIAMOND Heavy-metal act from Denmark, with guests Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats and Idle Hands. Nov 27, 7 pm, Queen Elizabeth Theatre. $89.50/79.50/59.50/45. DANIEL CAESAR Grammy-winning R&B singer-songwriter. Nov 27-28, 8 pm, Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28 GATECREEPER Death-metal band from Phoenix, with guests Judiciary. Nov 28, Fox Cabaret. $16. TONYE AGANABA Vancouver-based soul/ neo-folk/hip-hop artist. Nov 28, 8 pm, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. $36. ROGER HODGSON Former member of Supertramp. Nov 28, 8 pm, River Rock Show Theatre. $99.50.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29 ELEVATE MUSIC PROJECT NIGHT TWO Performances by Meltt, Porteau, Noble Son, CamBlake, and ursidae. Nov 29, Biltmore Cabaret. $5. HILLTOP HOODS Australian hip-hop group, with guest Adrian Eagle. Nov 29, 8 pm, Commodore Ballroom. $32.50. HARLEQUIN GOLD Vancouver-based indiepop band. Nov 29, 9 pm, WISE Hall.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30 HANSON Pop-rock band from Tulsa, Oklahoma, with guests Joshua & the Holy Rollers and Paul McDonald. Nov 30, Vogue Theatre. $39.50. DANIEL WESLEY Vancouver beach-rocker performs with his band. Nov 30, 6:30-10 pm, Blue Frog Studios. $47.50. PARK SOUND PRESENTS Monthly musical showcase features performances by Here North There, Abraham, and G. Deep. Nov 30, 7-11 pm, Park Sound Studio. $8-10. MOSAIC The North Shore Celtic Ensemble performs fiddle music from Canada and Europe. Nov 30, 7:30-9:30 pm, Centennial Theater. $25/15.
ZAPPOSTROPHE PLAYS ZAPPA Eightpiece Vancouver band plays all Zappa and nothing but Zappa! From familiar tunes like “Peaches en Regalia” to the odd-metered madness of “Echidna’s Arf”, this band will be a treat for both Zappaphiles and music lovers. Performing selections from different eras of Frank’s career, the music is played with excitement, precision, and humour. Nov 30, 7:30-10:30 pm, Fox Cabaret. $15. THE MINT RECORDS RIDICULOUSLY EARLY XMAS PARTY Indie rock and punk rock by Tough Age, Dumb, Necking, Supermoon, Kellarissa, and Jay Arner. Nov 30, 8 pm, Red Gate Arts Society. $10/15. SHE PAST AWAY Postpunk/darkwave group. Nov 30, 9 pm, Rickshaw Theatre. $22. SHOW ME THE BODY New York hardcore band, with guests Urochromes. Nov 30, 9 pm, WISE Hall. $15. SEQUENTIAL CIRCUS—LIVE ELECTRONIC MUSIC SHOWCASE Vancouver’s premier live electronic music series, Sequential Circus, returns for its 25th iteration on Saturday November 30, 2019 at The Beaumont Studios (326 W. 5th Ave). Expect to hear from Vancouver’s best live electronic music talent performing entirely their own artistic compositions. Nov 30, 10 pm, The Beaumont Studios. $20 Pre / $25 Door.
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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 THE TENORS Classical-pop vocal group performs a Christmas show. Dec 3, Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 THE DANDY WARHOLS Alt-rock band from Portland, Oregon, with guests Mother Mariposa. Dec 4, 8 pm, Commodore Ballroom. $35. MUSIC LISTINGSare a public service provided free of charge, based on available space and editorial discretion. Submit events online using the event-submission form at straight.com/AddEvent. Events that don’t make it into the paper due to space constraints will appear on the website.
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AL-ANON FAMILY GROUPS Does someone else's drinking bother you? Al-Anon can help. We are a support group for those who have been affected by another's drinking problem. For more information please call: 604-688-1716
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How to deal with sex-vetoing spouse by Dan Savage
b I’M A HETEROSEXUAL cis woman in a monogamous marriage. My husband and I have always struggled to connect sexually, mostly because he has extreme anxiety that makes doing anything new or different difficult. He’s been in therapy since before I met him, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. His anxiety has caused him to shut down every sexual ask I’ve ever made because he’s afraid he won’t “do it right”. He’s a PIV-and-nothing-more kind of guy, but I’m not asking for varsity-level stuff, just boring things like talking about fantasies, a little role-play, staying in bed on a Sunday just to have sex, et cetera. All of it is off the table. I understand he has a right to veto sex acts, but isn’t this all pretty basic, run-of-the-mill stuff ? He’ll still get his PIV; I just want there to be other elements before the PIV starts. It’s still a no. Talking to him about this sends him into a depressive episode where I then have to spend hours telling him he’s not a bad person, so I’ve stopped bringing it up. I’ve tried to talk to therapists about navigating this issue, but most change the subject. One actually told me that it was good that we don’t have good sex, because if we did, we wouldn’t have good communication in other areas. (I never went back to that one.) This has gone on for so long that I’ve lost all interest in sex. My libido, which used to be very high, has vanished. Whenever he wants sex, I do it—but I dread it. Do you have any ideas on how I can navigate this topic with my husband so he doesn’t shut down? How can I make him understand that it’s okay to Companion
And when he shuts down, LASS, it experiment sexually and it will be will be his therapist’s job to pry him okay if it’s not perfect? - Lost And So Sad back open, not yours. And the sex you’re currently havYou’re going to have to call your hus- ing? The sex you dread and don’t band’s bluff, LASS, and power through enjoy? The sooner you stop having it, the predictable meltdown. That means LASS, the sooner your husband will raising—again—your unhappiness come to understand that he’s going to with your sex life, explaining your have to give a little (so very little!) if he need for some pre-PIV intimacy and wants to have sex at all. If and when play, informing him this is no longer a he does, then you can borrow a page desperate request but a non-negotiable from the varsity-level kinkster handdemand, and then refusing to shift book: take baby steps. In the same into caregiver mode when his depres- way people who are turned on by, say, sive episode starts. more intense bondage scenes (suspenI’m not suggesting your husband’s sion, immobilization, et cetera) start anxiety and depression are an act, with lighter bondage scenes (hands LASS, or that being made aware of behind the back, spread-eagled on your unhappiness isn’t a trigger. But the bed, et cetera), you can start with if depressive episodes get your hus- something small and easy for him to band out of conversations he’d rather get right, like 20 minutes of cuddling avoid—and if they allow him to dictate in bed together on a Sunday morning the terms of your sex life and treat your before progressing to PIV sex. pussy like a Fleshlight—then his subconscious could be weaponizing those b I’M A BISEXUAL trans woman living depressive episodes. And if you shift to in Europe. A couple of months ago, caregiver mode every single time—so I began an amazing relationship with long as you’re willing to spend hours a woman who works as an escort. For reassuring him that he’s not a bad per- a while, everything was as good as it son—then your grievances will never gets, until I said something inconbe addressed, much less resolved. So siderate about her job and she took ofeven if it means spending an extremely fence. We were having a conversation unpleasant evening, weekend, or few about “what we were” (girlfriends? weeks with him, you’re going to have lovers? partners?) and any rules we’d to raise the issue and refuse to reassure like the other to observe, and I said I’d your husband. Line up whatever sup- rather not see her after she’d been with port you think he might need before a client; I’d rather wait until the next you make your stand—you could also day. She took this as me thinking her make your stand during a couples job was “dirty”, which was absolutely counselling session—and give him not my intention. I explained that I’d maybe one “You’re not a bad person, spent 10 years in open relationships really!” and then refuse to back down. and it was just a habit I was used to. (If
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you sleep with someone else, go home, take a shower, sleep off the emotions, see you tomorrow.) She said that her clients were not lovers, it’s completely different, and it would make seeing her complicated, as we work different hours. I immediately realized how she was right and said so. She was aloof for a few days afterward, and she eventually told me that she didn’t feel like she could be with someone who understood so little about her job. I pleaded with her to give me a second chance and told her that I’d never even met a sex worker before, so there was a learning curve for me, and she agreed that we could carry on seeing each other. But she remained distant, cancelling plans and not replying, until she eventually told me that she was just too scared of getting hurt, because it’s happened so many times before. I was absolutely shattered. I spent the next few days drinking in bed and licking my wounds. I was falling in love with this woman, and I ruined it with my big mouth. After a couple of days, I started going about my life again. And soon enough, she started texting me, asking me how my day was, casual stuff, and it’s just really painful. I don’t know how to reply to her. If she has changed her mind, then I’ll date her again in a heartbeat, given how freaking amazing she is. But if she’s just (kind of inconsiderately) making conversation, then I can see myself getting my heart broken all over again. I’m torn between asking her to stop texting me and carrying on with the casual texting to see if anything comes of it. Any advice?
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If you two couldn’t handle a simple misunderstanding, TEEGRL, how are you going to resolve a serious conflict? Or forgive a profound betrayal? You know, the kind of shit people in LTRs do? Actually, I’m being unfair: you seem perfectly capable of handling this misunderstanding, TEEGRL, it was your ex-whatever-she-was (girlfriend? lover? partner?) who wasn’t able to handle it. But in fairness to her—I need to be fair to everybody— sex workers are often shamed by romantic partners who pretended, at the outset of the relationship, to be fine with their jobs. Your comment about not wanting to see her after she was with a client could reasonably be interpreted as whorephobic. But your explanation—it was a rule in all your past open relationships—was reasonable, and your ex-whatever-she-was, if she were a reasonable person, should have been able to see that. Perhaps she is reasonable, TEEGRL. Maybe she started texting you about casual stuff because she feels bad about pulling away and sees now that she overreacted. To determine whether that’s the case—and to determine whether she’s still open to dating you— you’ll have to risk asking the dreaded direct question: “Hey, it’s great to hear from you! I’d love to pick up where we left off, if you’re still interested. Are you? Please let me know!” g On the Lovecast, shy lady doms rise up! With Midori: savagelovecast.com. Email: email@example.com. Follow Dan on Twitter @fakedansavage. ITMFA.org.
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