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.
January 31, 2011 | Categories: Art, Fellatio, and Other Heady Subjects, Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary), The Loudmouth Bear Reviews (books, music, movies), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 15 minutes, Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, contrarian, fame, George Stroumboulopoulos, humour, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, photography, vancouver, west vancouver, writing | 18 Comments
After the way Gonch Messiah polished off Friday night, I knew Saturday would be insane.
The room filled quicker; the familiar faces were everywhere; it was insane.
The evening started with Mark & John (from The Get Down) playing a wonderful set that too many people didn’t see. This is why you come early to shows people.
Next up, JP & The Black Sheep got the room spinning with a high energy set.
Filling the middle slot for the evening was I’m Not Frank. At this point, I officially lost count how many bands Jon Fredriksen and Hamish Thomson play in together.
As Upper Levels took the stage, you could feel the room buzz. I’d spoken with all of them earlier and they were nervous. Nervous that they should have rehearsed more. Nervous that they just couldn’t cut it any more. Nervous. My response? “Fuck you. You’re Upper Levels.”
Ian Fergusen, sound man from The Sandy Cove introduced them. And then it started, the audio mindfuck that was, is, and always will be Upper Levels… all cranked to 11, of course. I snapped some hurried pics of the first bar of the first song because I wasn’t going to spend this set snapping pics. No sir. The time machine had cranked up to full power. Stephen Hawking says you can’t go back. I’m sorry sir, but you’re wrong. Almost two decades disappeared in an instant. Gone. Washed away by music that hasn’t aged a day. They just opened the bottle and it poured out from where they had left it.
Hamish Thomson has never made a bad decision about music. Until now. Whatever possessed him to ask a reeling, long-winded drunk to introduce them is beyond me. However, I was flattered by the request and graciously accepted.
In my introduction, I said that even with all the years I’d known them and all the years I’d been writing, I was still at a loss to describe Big Tall Garden. I still am.
They simply are the best. Even that isn’t good enough for them.
November 30, 2010 | Categories: Art, Fellatio, and Other Heady Subjects, Musician profiles, Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary), The Loudmouth Bear Reviews (books, music, movies), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 15 minutes, 2010, Baron S. Cameron, Big Tall Garden, British Columbia, Canada, fame, music, photography, Unison Music Fest, Upper Levels, vancouver, west vancouver, writing | Leave a comment
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.
October 19, 2010 | Categories: Art, Fellatio, and Other Heady Subjects, Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary), The Loudmouth Bear Reviews (books, music, movies), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 2010, Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, contrarian, humour, loudmouth bear, music, photography, vancouver, west vancouver, writing | Leave a comment
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:
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?
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?
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?
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:
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.
August 26, 2010 | Categories: Art, Fellatio, and Other Heady Subjects, Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 15 minutes, 2010, art, Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, contrarian, fame, loudmouth bear, music, photography, vancouver, waste of resources, west vancouver, writing | Leave a comment
August 9, 2010 | Categories: Art, Fellatio, and Other Heady Subjects, Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 2010, Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, fame, food, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, photography, vancouver, waste of resources | Leave a comment
I wish I could tell you I’ve been really busy but, truth be told, I’ve just been sluffing off, watching TV, and gaining weight. Joy. The last two weeks have actually brought a few things that I should have been writing about so I will do that now.
Thursday before last (June 3rd), I was at the Railway Club for the opening party of Femke van Delft’s exhibit, “The F-Stops Here”. If you couldn’t figure it out from the clever title, it’s a photography exhibit, specifically concert/live shots.
Femke is the first to say hello when I get there. We take a moment to remind each other where we know each other from (standing too close to the Railway Club stage on a few occasions) and she thanks me for coming. Femke works the room, saying hello to anyone and everyone who doesn’t say hello first, with the self-deprecating yet strangely confident air of an artist. Later on, she sits with me (while her salmon burger gets cold), flipping through a portfolio of her work. Her photos require little or no explanation but the little stories behind the photos are great. These are the pictures I want to take. They are not just a case of access; she certainly has an eye for this. Paparazzi in LA get paid for badly framed pictures of Jennifer Aniston buying sandals whereas photogs like Femke don’t get paid for taking amazing shots of not-so-famous people doing what they do best. It is a real shame. That’s why it is so good to see local talent have nights like this. It’s a chance for friends, acquaintances, and strangers to get a first hand look at how good they really are. A friend had gone to see Ricky Powell at the Fortune Sound Club the night before and said he was a drunken, stuck up mess. Femke is by no means sober; this is her party and she enjoys it. Unlike Powell, however, when she gets up to address the crowd, she is funny, welcoming, and above all gracious.
Femke introduces the first musical act for the evening, Alexa Bardach (who also plays guitar for the East Vamps). I have no idea what to expect when the music starts and my first reaction is, “Oh… Okay.” To me it’s not so much music in the “record store section” sense; it’s more of a sound poem or picture. It’s about choices: why this sound with that effect. If you surrender to it, and just let it be what it’s going to be, it washes over you like a warm wave and is nearly trance inducing. I would be very interested to watch (hear) the process of putting this piece together. I assume it might be like my afternoon sessions in my kitchen, playing with tastes in a dress rehearsal, a week or so before the dinner party, finding what does or doesn’t fit together. It’s cool stuff.
Friday (June 4) finds me sucking back cheap cans of PBR at The Biltmore Cabaret waiting for The Pack AD to take the stage. The Biltmore is sold out tonight and slowly begins to fill. For those of you who still haven’t made it out to The Biltmore for a show, for gawd’s sake, go! It’s still dark and downstairs but by no means the cesspool dungeon it used to be. It is a venue with a bar, not a bar with a stage.
The Pack AD start their set around 9:45. They’re awesome, okay? I’ve seen them play a few times and they keep getting better, closer, tighter. I know what you’re thinking but your wrong. The more a band plays is not always a guarantee that they’ll get better. I’ve actually seen bands that get worse the longer they play. I once said before that where most people eat, sleep, and drink, “The Pack AD tour.” It’s true and their stage act has been honed into a well-oiled but thunderous Rock ‘n’ Roll machine. They have a new album out, We Kill Computers, and the new songs are awesome.
Watching these ladies play live is something of a marathon. Maya’s kick drum and snare work alternately as artillery and infantry and get right into your skull. And I’m still trying to imagine how such a large sound (guitar & vocals) manages to erupt from such a slight package as Becky Black. Becky, I’m certain, is the reason sound guys/gals bolt their gear into racks. Every compressor in the room wants to run for cover when Becky leans into the mic and gets ready to let loose. The Pack AD slay and there are no two ways about it.
Again, I have to ditch before The Sadies play. It’s nothing personal of course. If it weren’t for my ongoing battle with North Shore buses, I’d of stayed to catch what I’m assured would be an awesome set.
After a less-than-entertaining downtown footrace, I manage to catch my bus at the last possible stop because a couple of tourists don’t take the driver’s word for it that the fair box doesn’t accept bills. My favourite part of the night? Sprinting, two steps at a time, up the immobile centre escalator at the Granville Skytrain station (yeah, that one) and still missing my freakin’ bus by 30 damned seconds.
The next few days pass uneventfully except for painting a bar one night. Let me tell you: beers, shots, and wood stain make for one hell of a hangover.
Eldorado kicks off the evening with a great set. I’ve missed seeing them by five minutes a few times. Tonight I arrive early enough to make sure I see the whole thing. I’m glad I did. The music is fun. Now, I don’t mean “fun” in the “church groups wearing matching shirts singing Jesus camp songs” fun. I mean put a smile on your face and enjoy your life fun. The bass player is so relaxed he reclines on a stool. That’s what it looks like until I kick myself for not noticing he’s got a broken foot. Yay me. By the end of the set I have convinced myself I’m in love with Angela Fama.
SWANK! takes the stage as The Swank String Band. Kirk Douglas makes his way out from behind the drum kit and joins the rest of the boys of the front line. It’s a loose but energy packed set. Swank are incapable of “phoning in” a set; they’re too good to be bad. But with all the smiling and impromptu banter going on, one soon gets the impression that The Swank String Band are here tonight to have a great time with their friend Shiloh on her big night. If you’re looking for one hell of a party, make sure SWANK! rsvp’s. If you’re looking for the best damn campfire sing-a-long known to human existence, invite The Swank String Band. Also, for the record, Bone Rattle Music is not the place to go to swipe sunglasses if you’re so inclined.
Earlier in the evening, I hear Shiloh discussing “the dress” and whether or not she’s going to wear it tonight. She wears it. It’s a beauty and a throwback to the days when Country & Western music had royalty, unlike the jesters that seem to be holding court these days. Shiloh’s set is the best I’ve heard from her, and that is saying something. Shiloh’s voice has always been able to cut through me and tonight is no exception, but there is a point in “Figurines of Faith” where her voice takes a tone I haven’t heard before. One name jumps to mind: Melanie Safka. Yes, she’s the one who sang that ridiculous “Rollerskates” song, but I’m thinking more of the deep tones of “Candles in the Rain” here.
Up until tonight, I would never heckle Shiloh onstage, but after watching how a rowdy “fan” was wrestled into submission by The Switchblade Sisters (burlesque performers Villainy Loveless and Lola Frost), I’m seriously considering it. Shiloh uses the comedic interlude to change into the more recognizable jeans and western dress shirt. She apologizes that the costume change took longer than expected and explains, “There’s boys in there,” with a nod over the shoulder to the backstage area.
The rest of the set is pure Western romp. James Wood and Graham Myrfield join Shiloh on stage to sing background on “Tired of Drinking” and Chad Taylor lends his trumpet (which any Ennio Morricone fan can tell you most certainly is a western instrument) to add the ghosts to “Head In My Grave”.
The Switchblade Sisters make another appearance and I can’t figure out why, as I look at the rear display on my camera adjusting the settings, my auto-focus servo continually whines as it locks and unlocks, until I look up and see two sets of pasties swirling in front of the stage. I can understand why the camera can’t focus as I seem to have the same problem at the moment. I think I just fell in love again. Sorry Angela.
I hit the road after Shiloh’s set (apologies to Rich Hope). Us West Vancouver boys don’t turn into pumpkins at midnight but our buses sure as shit do. As I walk down Main Street towards the Skytrain station, I ask myself the same question I always ask on this particular and all too familiar walk: Why the hell don’t I just bite the bullet and move out here?
It is certainly food for thought.
Read more music related posts HERE.
June 16, 2010 | Categories: Art, Fellatio, and Other Heady Subjects, Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary), The Loudmouth Bear Reviews (books, music, movies), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 15 minutes, 2010, Alexa Bardach, ANZA Club, art, Baron S. Cameron, biltmore cabaret, blue buses, British Columbia, Canada, contrarian, Eldorado, fame, Femke van Delft, Lola Frost, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, music, photography, Railway Club, Shiloh Lindsey, SWANK, The Pack AD, vancouver, Villainy Loveless, writing | Leave a comment
Name: Kirk Douglas (SWANK, Shiloh Lindsey Band, The Jardines)
First instrument? Guitar
First public performance? Sherwood Heights Jr. High School, May 1983, Sherwood Park, Alberta
Stage fright? Not normally, but my first show I was terrified.
Favourite show? hmmmm… Very Hard to say but 1982, Kingsman Field House, Edmonton Alberta… Girlschool, Iron Maiden, The Scorpions…. the Scorpions were in “Pods” at the beginning of the show…. just like Spinal Tap. I can’t remember if the show was any good, but the dry ice and “Cocoons” were very memorable.
Least favourite music story? Van Halen, 1984…. I was wondering why I spent the money on the ticket…. they were awful.
Favorite band/musician (at the moment)? Too many to single out just one… love local music.
Favorite band/musician (all time)? Les Paul…. he still blows my mind.
Ten years from now, where will you be (perfect answer)? Making, playing, recording, and producing music.
Ten years from now, where will you be (probable answer)? Making, playing, recording, and producing music.
Next gig? June 10th, Anza Club, Shiloh Lindsey CD Release show, with Rich Hope, Eldorado and SWANK.
View more music related posts HERE.
June 8, 2010 | Categories: Musician profiles, The Loudmouth Bear Reviews (books, music, movies), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 15 minutes, 2010, Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, fame, Kirk Douglas, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, music, photography, Sound Lounge Productions, SWANK, vancouver | 1 Comment