Friends, Enemies, and Internet Losers: I have returned.

Posts tagged “contrarian

George Stroumboulopoulos: The Truth on TV

Since there’s been television sets to complain about, parents have been warning their children that they “can’t believe everything [they] see on TV!” I would agree that this is very often the case, but when it comes to George Stroumboulopoulos, I’ve decided he can be trusted.

*This next bit is going to read like a second introduction and I’m pretty sure it is.

It irritates me when people talk about hating people they have never met. You can hate Lady Gaga’s music all you want or hate Charlie Sheen’s lifestyle, but you really can’t hate a person you don’t know. So whenever I hear people talk that way about George Stroumboulopoulos (which is rare but it does happen), I feel the need to defend him, having met him three times now.

The first time I met Stroumboulopoulos was in April of 2007. I was in Toronto to visit my sister and do the usual Toronto stuff: The Hockey Hall of Fame, The CN Tower, and the Allied Beauty Association’s convention and trade show (Yes, there’s a whole different story there.).

 

 

 

 

 

I also made plans to go to a taping of The Hour. It was really my main reason for going, next to seeing my sister, of course.

It was Tuesday, April 3, 2007 and his in-studio guests were James Bartleman, then the 27th Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario and Neil Sedaka; if you don’t already know who he is (shame on you), I won’t bother having to explain. But it wasn’t his interview style or the the guests that got me. It was how he dealt with the audience. During one of the breaks he started talking with someone in the crowd about hockey goaltenders. The conversation lasted the whole break. The floor manager gave him the 30 second sign. Stroumboulopoulos acknowledged it and kept talking with the audience member. At the 20 second warning, he began walking backwards to his chair, never breaking eye contact or conversation with the audience member. At 10 seconds, he was sitting in his chair still conversing with the audience member until he put his finger up for a pause, said, “Just a second”, then turned to the camera, “My next guest…”

After the show he stayed to meet every person who stayed to meet him.

 

 

 

 

 

The second time I attended a taping was November 30, 2009. His guests that day were Patrick Trahan, a motorcyclist from the Dakar Rally (who almost killed my friends and I when he arrived on his bike at the CBC, bumped into a cab, then lurched up onto the sidewalk), and Shawn Ashmore, the actor. My sister, her boyfriend, my friend Lori, and I sat front row. It was cool. At the time, I was doing my own interview show online and had a picture of Stroumboulopoulos out of sight, down by my knee. If an interview was going a little awry, I’d look down and think, “What would George do?” He signed the picture for me that day.

 

 

 

 

 

I hate Metrotown. I hate everything about Metrotown. In fact, the last time I was there was for this, five or six years ago:

Now hanging around all day making snide remarks about Canadian Idol is a great way to spend your day in the mall. Standing in line? Not so much. This past Saturday, Metrotown played host to a CBC Live event. I went to check it out. One “Lucky Facebook Winner” was given 20 or so minutes to ask Stroumboulopoulos questions, interview him. One of the questions was “Why the CBC?” Stroumboulopoulos responded that he didn’t even return their call the first time. It wasn’t until it dawned on him that there were no investors, no bottom line, at the CBC that he wanted to go work there. The CBC existed to program for a nation, not make investors rich. I decided to stay afterward to see if I could get signed posters for a couple of friends.

 

 

 

 

 

After almost two hours, and tweets like, “If I don’t get a @strombo poster b/c the line was too long, next person to walk by with a Heartland poster is getting punched on her 14yr old tit!”, I finally got a chance to meet him again, shake his hand, and get a couple of personalized autographs for my friends. Standing in line makes you punchy, I know, but I really wasn’t worried. Just as I figured, he stayed. While the Dragon’s Den guy was long gone with the cast of The Republic of Doyle, Stroumboulopoulos, “George” as he always introduces himself, was still chatting wildly with the first two people in line.

He is the real deal, Truth on TV. If you don’t like his show, fine. But if you’re going to slam him, shake his hand and look him in the eye before you do. It’s not being star struck either. Stroumboulopoulos is no star; he’s Canada’s boyfriend.

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This is NOT a pub crawl

Okay, maybe a little. I prefer to think of it as a “leisurely cocktail walk“.

I have been blessed with many things in this life; a good cocktail bar was not one of them. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the Squarerigger Pub, my “local” (Crystal and Scott pour a mean “dirty”), and I will still go to pretty much any venue to see/hear good music but I wanted a cocktail bar, somewhere hip and cool and ridiculously overpriced. So last night, I started holding auditions.

5:30 pm – The Squarerigger Pub, 150-1425 Marine Drive, West Vancouver.

Beer. A pitcher of Sleemans Original $9.99. $13 after tax and 16% tip.

I like the Rigger. Anyone who knows me knows I spend most of my time out here. It’s a great place to watch a game and the downstairs section is just itchin’ to host your party. I recommend coming down during the day for a cup of coffee and annoying the manager, Scott, while he tries to get some work done. It’s my new favourite thing.

7:30 pm – George Ultra Lounge, 1137 Hamilton Street, Vancouver.

Aviation: Beefeater gin, maraschino liqueur and fresh lemon juice, served up and finished with violet liqueur. $11. $15 after tax and a 22% tip.

Essentially a Mike’s Hard Lemonade made with Gin. It is simple but good. It was also my server’s favourite.

I have no idea what an Ultra lounge is but whatever it is, I have a sneaking suspicion that George is it. The lighting is at the perfect setting for apres-business or pre-sex. Take your pick. The staff are all beautiful (women and men) and clad in black. It’s definitely Yaletown in here. As I continue to sip my cocktail (apparently in places like this, sipping is appropriate – not a lot of beerpong going on in here), it actually gets better. My heartburn doesn’t but that’s not the cocktail’s fault. The lovely Alexandra brings me my bill and I am off. I am coming back to be sure. George also gets an extra point because it is a chip shot away from my lawyer’s office. Always handy.

8:10pm – The Morrissey Pub, 1227 Granville Street, Vancouver.

Classic “dirty” martini. $12.05.

1516 beer. $5.50 (after tax)

$25 after tax and a 31% tip (and a free beer).

This one was a bit of a cheater. I’ve been here before and really quite like it. It really isn’t a cocktail place either. But that doesn’t stop them from serving some of the best martinis I’ve ever had. According to the bartender, they are more of a “beer and scotch” type place. And they’re pure rock and roll. You’re going to find more lip piercings and plaid in here than you would suits and Italian shoes. The stereo sounds like my iPod and the bartender is a slightly shorter, bearded version of Graham Myrfield in appearance and attitude. This is a good thing. I get the impression that a lot of the customers have forgotten more about Vancouver’s music scene than I’ll ever know and I have to stifle a sigh as the two lovely young ladies beside me drink Jameson’s with beer chasers… Honey, I’m home!

9:45ish pm – The Keefer Bar, 135 Keefer Street, Vancouver.

I don’t know. I just said “Dealer’s Choice” and got this: Famous Grouse scotch, sweet vermouth, artichoke vermouth, maraschino liqueur, with Peychauds and Angustura bitters. $12.50 after tax. $15 with 20% tip.

Now THIS is a cocktail. Plus service with a smile.

Now, for starters, the Keefer Bar is small. It’s cozy and great, but it’s small. If you plan on going there, go early. I meant to be there around 9:30 but the bartender at the Morrissey Pub queered the deal by comping me a beer. So I pour myself in at around 9:45ish and the place is packed. The burlesque show starts at 10. There is one empty stool at the bar. I asked if it’s being used and the woman kindly responds that she’s pretty sure it is but she’s not sure by who.

The MC takes to the stage. She cracks wise and plays some tunes to get the crowd primed. Lola Frost does her routine to Mancini’s “Pink Panther”. It’s killer. I think this is the third time I’ve seen Lola perform. The other two times, she was dancing with Villainy Loveless (as “The Switchblade Sisters”) as part of Shiloh Lindsey’s stage show. There was a routine with a wind-up doll that made me happy in all the right places. Good times. Great hootch and pasties? How can you go wrong? After the set, the woman I spoke to about the stool earlier comes over and tells me the stool is free. I thank her but tell her I’m quite enjoying being in everyone’s way. It was standing room only and the ladies on stage deserved it. So did the Wee Keefer for that matter. I chase my nameless-but-awesome cocktail with a Blue Buck lager and hit the streets once more.

11:05pm – Bus.

11:20pm – The Squarerigger Pub, 150-1425 Marine Drive, West Vancouver.

Beer. Sleemans Original. $6.15 with tax and 15% tip.

So I’m back at The Rigger for about five minutes when the wild & wonderful Miss Lori Roberge comes rumbling in. After surviving her harrowing drive across North America, she has returned to Vancouver only to have someone swipe her glasses. So if you know someone who frequents Darby’s Pub (2001 Macdonald Street, Vancouver) who suddenly has a new pair of glasses that look like these:

Kick some ass WITHOUT breaking the frames and let me know.

All in all it was a fun night. I’ll let y’all know when the next round of auditions is being held and we can go for a “leisurely cocktail walk” together.


Baron S. Cameron, thy name is vanity [and unemployed]

Dear Friends, It has come to my attention that having money and a legal source of income is somewhat of a necessity these days. To that end I have decided to promote and sell action figures. Please browse the catalogue below.

University Grad

BA Literature and History, UBC 2001 Model shown.
Advanced Professional Communications, Capilano University 2007 Model also available
Construction Worker
Rivendell Dreamworks, Courtenay, BC, Model
Wakefield Millworks, North Vancouver, BC, Model available
Gardener / Landscaper
Home Model shown.
Documentary Filmmaker
The Poetic Voice (1999) Model shown here.
Video and Sound Editing Models not shown but also available.
Writer
Short Story Model shown.
Screenwriter, Research, and Editing Models also available.
Culture Warrior and Social Commentator
Radio BSC/BSCTV (Interviews) Model shown.
Hey, Dumbass! (Social Commentary) and The Aging Rockstar Reviews (Local Music) Models also available.
Photographer
Musician
Other models include:
Home Depot Hardware Dept.
Safeway Meat and Fish Depts.
Karaoke Host and DJ
and Just All Around Swell Guy.
So, if you or someone you know is interested in purchasing one of the above action figures (more of a rental actually, 9-5, Monday to Friday… that sort of thing) please feel free to contact me.
If you have a sense of humour and don’t mind helping a guy out, please repost this blog.
Cheers,
BSC

A Fond Farewell

Last Friday at The Anza Club was a fitting send off for Vancouver’s SWANK! and the second of three of the Sound Lounge Presents Concert Series.

Let me start by saying this: Jonathan Todd is why I go to shows. When SWANK! played their first show ever, this troubadour was yet to be conceived, let alone born. I wouldn’t be surprised if told his frame is as big as it is to hold the heart that beats within. If you can imagine Gary Farmer with Bob Dylan’s hands and Rufus Wainwright’s voice, you’d be getting close. He plays a mix of originals and covers, covers which include a show stopping rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that I have no problem telling you actually brought me to tears.

Listening to Jonathan Todd progress through the opening set was like finding a $20 bill in the pocket of a pair of jeans and then realizing it’s actually a cheque from Lotto BC for a couple million dollars.

Next to take the stage that evening was The Jardines. The Jardines are a country/folk outfit made up of the mother/daughter duo of Cherelle and Ajaye. Cherelle Jardine, along with Kirk Douglas, is one of the organizers of the concert series.

This is the first time I have seen The Jardines with the full 8-piece band. I had previously seen them perform as a duo at West Vancouver’s Harmony Arts Festival this past summer. My two favourite songs that day, “Addicted to the Burn” and “Neptune’s Daughter”, transform seamlessly into ballads adapted for the full band and are easily my favourites again. There was perhaps a bit too much chatter about the songs between the songs (I always prefer to let the song act as stories in and of themselves without added preamble), but the banter between Cherelle and Ajaye is also largely due to Cherelle and her daughter being able to share moments [on stage] that very few mothers/daughters can.

Finishing the evening (literally), Swank took the stage for their last show. After 18 years they’ve decided to go out on a high note. When not every heart beats in unison, it can only throw the music off, eventually. Swank are too good of musicians, too good of friends to ever let that happen. Thankfully Swank has left us with a lot to remember them by. In fact, the song, “Donkey Cart” off Campfire Psalms is on my shortlist of Best Songs of All Time, sharing shelf space with The Who, Judy Garland, and Kermit the Frog.

Swank’s stage persona always feels relatively light; they are all accomplished and serious musicians but Swank shows are/were always an equal mix of sheer talent and sheer joy to perform. That night was no different. Except for one thing… when it’s the last song, everyone dances just that little bit harder. During Swank’s set, Douglas Liddle and Dave Badanic carved into their guitars with no mercy. On the faster, “rockier” songs, I was transported to all the indie, all ages, church basement shows of my youth, when at 17 years old, I’d watched many a beaten, second-hand guitar hammer out the West Coast Garage sound with the fury of an avalanche.

Swank are just damn good and there’s no two ways about it or super-poetic way to put it otherwise.

Spencer McKinnon (vocals/harmonica) led the band through the set like a Southern Minister possessed by fire and brimstone, his pulpit a stage, his sermon a rock and roll revival meeting that had us all speaking in tongues. You can’t have fury without the thunder, supplied in abundant surplus by Phil Addington (bass) and Kirk Douglas (drums).

After the show, I grab the couch in the Sound Lounge’s control room for a quick nap. Douglas takes a moment to sit down before heading back next door to finish packing up the gear and Swank.

“That was a hard show to play,” he says, a wistful smile creeping up on his tired face.

I bet it was at that. It’s sad to see you go but it was indeed my pleasure to watch you leave.


Hair-brained Year-long Project #18284-F: The dress

Okay.

I have decided I am making a dress (not for me, thx).

I’ve always liked fashion. But I can’t sketch, stitch, cut, or sew.

I am starting from scratch. But with my library card, my passion for ridiculous ideas, and my mom’s sewing machine, I’m giving myself one year, 365 days, to design and make a dress. Why? Why the fuck not?


Repost: “Leave the Gun; Take the Cannoli”: The fun and foibles of live music

This entry was originally posted on the Baron S. Cameron Blog 13/11/2008. I was just giving it a read and thought I’d throw it back out there. BSC.

“Leave the gun; take the cannoli” is possibly the greatest throwaway line ever. Delivered beautifully by Richard S. Castellano, as the affable but deadly Peter Clemenza in The Godfather, I consider it to be one of the best lines in the history of American Cinema. But what does it mean, and, perhaps more importantly, why would I bring it up in an article about live music?

When Paulie, Vito Corleone’s ex-driver, is murdered, Clemenza and his cohorts don’t dwell on it. Paulie is never mentioned again except when Clemenza lets Sonny know that the job is done: “Paulie? You ain’t going to see him no more.” Essentially, the dirty work is behind them; they move on. The gun is the awfulness of the immediate past. The cannoli is the anticipation of a sweet future.

As a medium, live music can be as exciting as it gets. There is a thrill of instant creation, a rush. It may not easily liken itself to skydiving or bungee jumping, but there is still the anxious possibility of a moment of glory and, equally, of a mistake. Luckily for musicians, such mistakes are rarely physically fatal. The death of one’s career, however, is sometimes a very real possibility. Unlike NASCAR though, very few people attend live music shows just to see if someone fucks up; they go to see a performance. And, provided that the mistakes are small enough, people rarely notice them. It is usually the solo burden of the musicians who are often the only ones in the room who know that something has gone awry. They should never be too hard on themselves though. We, the audience, are waiting for the next note, and, perhaps more importantly, we are waiting for the musicians to supply it, which they won’t if they are dwelling on the note that didn’t quite make it.

It is physically impossible to play the same song twice performing live; humans are not exact enough to do it. Even if a song could be perfectly replicated, the live moment originally accompanying it would be gone. The art of creating is fleeting. The effect or result of the moment of creation can be recorded in some fashion (tape, canvas, ink) but the actual moment is gone forever. It is a point in a dynamic process that exists for an instant and is then disappears to whatever realm it was pulled from in the first place. Creation moves forward. Where we were is not as important as where we are going and this is why live music forgives our little mistakes: what’s done is done and rarely remembered as it actually happened. Humans are also pretty lousy recorders of history, especially when our passions are aroused. So unless the DAT’s rolling, don’t sweat it. This of course is not to say that a musician doesn’t need to try on the previous note, only to make it up to us with the next one – we’re talking about small mistakes here, not shoddy musicianship. Also, if you really can’t play, you’re doomed. “They suck” is a pronouncement more difficult to revise than “murderer” or “whore.” Changing a crowd’s mind is simple enough with some practice but getting a crowd out to see a band that “sucks” is nigh on impossible.

But the mistakes can be glorious too. Most scientific discoveries don’t happen with a “Eureka!” but with a “How the hell did that happen?” Take Radiohead’s “Creep” for example: the seemingly out of place guitar crunches before the chorus are, as guitarist, Ed O’Brien, explains, “the sound of Jonny [Greenwood] trying to fuck the song up.” In the final cut, however, it is Jonny Greenwood’s “fuck ups” that end up being the most memorable part of a very memorable song.

So here is wisdom: If you flub a note, don’t sweat it. We’re waiting for the next one. In short, “Leave the gun; take the cannoli.”


Design V. Documentation: "What Is Art?" and my problems with photography

Every society and culture that I am aware of, has garnered my awareness through their desire to be remembered. Those who want to disappear, persons or societies, often do so. But I believe that we can logically assume that most would like to leave some type of legacy or, at least, a dent in the wall somewhere to show they existed.

A classical studies professor I had at UBC once suggested the reason we have the ancient literature we do is because it was popular and mass produced thereby greatly increasing its chances of surviving the ages. Does this mean that our society will be thought of as a society of Dan Brown readers and Justin Bieber fans? Well, truth be told, we are a society of Dan Brown readers and Justin Bieber fans, but we are also much much more. Unfortunately, that “much much more” is rarely as well documented as the other. When was the last time you saw major media outlets spend a week discussing the latest tattoo acquired by the lead cellist in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra?

So, my contribution to pot is documentation.

I review, promote, provide, and take pictures. But are the pictures art?

A lot of photojournalists have had their pictures declared “art”, won awards, etc… But are photographs always art? No. Where is the line? What is a good picture?

We (well anyone with a Facebook account) know what a bad picture looks like: over exposed, poorly framed, out of focus, poor use of subject… But what about a picture that is perfectly exposed, framed, focused, representing the subject as intended but the subject is a printing press you’re photographing for a technical manual? Is it art?

Another problem very evident in the world of Facebook and MySpace is the word “photographer”. I have owned cameras for over 20 years, but does the mere fact that I take pictures make me a photographer? According to a dictionary, yes. A quick glance through 99% of Facebook albums and the answer is “no”.

So let’s look at these:

Click me; I get bigger.

The Olympic torch bearer running through West Vancouver. I was prepared for him to arrive. I was able to run along side. I like this picture. If my flash had gone off, as I had intended it to, the picture would have been ruined. So… means, opportunity, and dumb luck. Am I a photographer yet?

Click me; I get bigger.

Serena Ryder, arguably the most famous person I have photographed. People see this pic and recognize her, see her. Is it well framed, exposed, focused? This was also the first time I was told by a stage manager that I had three songs to shoot before I had to pack it in. Other people were shooting pictures, flashes popping on their little palm cameras… The stage manager thought I was a professional: Three songs. No flash. Am I a photographer yet?

Click me; I get bigger.

Jeff Myrfield of The Stumbler’s Inn. I love to photograph these guys and have a lot more access to them than most. I like this pic. I was trying to take it. However, it is very dark. Jeff is backlit. To get this shot I needed to ramp up the ISO and got “noise”. I shot this with an f1.8 lens. If I had a lens with a bigger aperature, would this be a better photo? Could I have brought the ISO down and decreased the “noise”? As a non-professional, despite my desire, I can’t afford lenses that won’t eventually pay for themselves. Also, I’m asking a lot of questions about technical aspects of shooting. This time I had a plan, access, but wasn’t entirely sure if I was using my gear to the best of its abilities. Am I a photographer?

Click me; I get bigger.

Walking back from a live show, I stopped to take a picture of an escalator being repaired. As I turned, I saw this. Click. This picture led to this:

Click me; I get bigger.

This picture is an interesting one. It is the first time complete strangers have let me pose them so it is a step, for me personally, towards taking the kind of “people” pictures I’d like to. But this picture is also a big disappointment for me.

I shot it in black and white. I didn’t think to switch my camera back to standard. That graffiti is vivid and amazing. In this picture it is dull.

This picture isn’t in focus. I suck at manual focusing and the autofocus on my 50mm is sometimes worse. Plus, I’d been drinking, which is never conducive to focus… heh.

Here’s the thing. Could I have kept my subjects there while I changed lenses and reset my camera? A fun idea can become an imposition pretty quick sometimes.

Art cannot be dumb luck but dumb luck can contribute to art. Art is talent but cannot be restricted to only trained thought. Art is knowing your tools but not confined by them…

So what happens with a guy who just wants the world to know how cool his friends are and how much fun this city still has? I don’t know if I’m a photographer let alone an artist.