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Posts tagged “waste of resources

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.


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?


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.


Ain't no party like a rooftop party


The History of the Hipster

The common mosquito, in its current form, is over 95 million years old. Despite its many eons of bothering the hell out of others and the sad truth that it probably isn’t going to go away any time soon, we still feel the need to complain about it, them. This is not hard to believe of course; they are annoying as hell and generally don’t provide a whole lot in return. Some would argue the same could be said of hipsters. I’m deciding. Granted they haven’t been around for 95 million years. Contemporary hipsters can be traced back a decade or so. But, as I will explain, there have always been hipsters, the parasitic culture gentrifier.

A Time article, written almost a year ago to the day, outlines the modern hipster. Dan Fletcher describes them as “smug, full of contradictions and, ultimately, the dead end of Western civilization.” This may be a bit harsh, but it’s not the first time it has been said.

Herb Caen, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, coined the term “beatnik” in 1958. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were not amused. If you read the Beat writers’ work, you’d know they almost always had jobs and worked very hard to play very hard. Kerouac was admitted to Columbia on a football scholarship, a strange crossover for the King of the Beats. They did not create a scene, but drew attention to it. This is the invitation, the opening of the door that beckons to all the hipsters. In a letter to the New York Times Ginsberg wrote, “if the beatniks and not the illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash men.” When Ginsberg wrote of “Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,” I suspect he was referring to those who came before, those who were the scene, not the ones who made it. Even the French Revolution was going along swimmingly until Maximillien Robespierre hijacked the Committee for Public Safety and kind of ruined it for everyone. Hipsters have existed everywhere.

The term “hip” is from the jazz clubs of the 30s and 40s. Before that, the etymology becomes a little hazy. Suffice it to say, to be “hip” meant that you were in the know. To be “in the know” now is not very difficult, especially in the digital age, when music and image are swapped like so many hockey cards. I think what angers a lot of people is that the hipster culture isn’t a culture; it’s a flea market where culture is bought and sold. Fletcher writes, “…instead of creating a culture of their own, hipsters proved content to borrow from trends long past.” Indeed. I once had a 15 year old kid tell me that I was responsible for Kurt Cobain’s death because I “didn’t appreciate him.” I didn’t have a calendar on hand, but simple math revealed that he would have been two years old when we killed Cobain and not even an egg-seeking sperm when “Bleach” was released. That’s probably why I don’t remember seeing him at a show.

You would never go to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. dressed as a veteran if you were born in 1987. The Black Label Society had to cancel a show in Manchester because of threats of violence from a local motorcycle club. The club argued that BLS’s use of “rockers” on their jackets was an insult to any 1%er who’d actually earned them.

So is there anything actually wrong with a parasitic subculture intent on the lifelong search for cool? If there is, I blame Henry V. His Saint Crispin’s day speech called out all the “gentlemen in England now abed” and called their “manhoods cheap.” Essentially, if you’re not at the party, if you’re not hip, you suck and should think yourself “accursed.” Maybe that’s a bit of stretch. We are a society of consumers, of course, but cultures are supposed to produce as well. The true danger of a parasitic culture is not what it feeds on but how it feeds.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a sentiment first expressed in the 3rd century BC by some Greek guy, then it doesn’t actually exist except in the abstract. We must see it for it to exist. This would also imply we should look for it. But if our search only extends as far as what someone else has told us is beautiful, the buck stops at the “industries of mass communication” Ginsberg railed against.

Candace Pert was responsible for discovering the opiate receptor in the human brain. In a 1981 interview with OMNI she stated, “Heroin bludgeons the opiate receptors into submission, functionally shrinking them.” In other words, if we keep outsourcing our opiates (she also stated that most drugs have less potent, natural analogs within the human body) our bodies can lose the ability to use our own; if we never leave the house, we become dependent on the deliveryman. This is the danger of the cool-seeker who doesn’t actually look. Hunter S. Thompson takes a similar stab at Leary’s Acid Culture in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, calling them “a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture.”

I too am a cool seeker. I too am a hipster in some aspects. But I want to believe that I replace that which I mine from the depths of culture in equal measures. I write about culture and society not to hand down truth from on high but to inspire you to take up the search as well. As Shakespeare wrote in Love’s Labour’s Lost, “Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye, / Not utter’d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues.”

So we continue to swat at the hipsters buzzing around us. They’re not going anywhere though so get used to them. As for yourself, art can be art for art’s sake but cool shouldn’t be cool for its own sake. Cool is the blind faith of the unoriginal. At least that’s what I heard.


Shiloh Lindsey, James Wood, and The Devil Falls @ Cafe Montmarte, May 20, 2010

The tables don’t match. The chairs don’t match. Three tricycles, a pram, and an old-school banana bike hang from the ceiling. The Cafe Montmarte (4362 Main St. (@28th), Vancouver) is an anti-Starbucks. The absinthe posters covering the one wall are perhaps a tad obvious, but hell, why not eh? I don’t actually eat, not wanting to interfere with the buzz I have going, but they have a full menu starting at $5.95 and topping out at $13.95. Appies, salads, crepes, gourmet pizzas, and a couple of entrees fill the menu (along with deserts, specialty coffees, and two pages of hootch). There is one salad, “La Parisienne”, that I’ve decided I’m coming back for: grilled sweet peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs and cubed mozzarella w/ balsamic vinaigrette. Sounds delish.

The Devil Falls (Chelsea Wakelyn)

Over from Victoria, James Wood introduces her as one of his “favourite song writers.” She is unassuming in her presence but her songs will work you over if you let them. She sings the songs a bird would sing if it wished it could walk like us, while we all dreamt of flying like it. They are beautiful in their search.

James Wood (w/ Murray MacDonald)

It is really good to hear James play again. It is the first time I’ve heard the Hotel Lobbyist’s songs played in their original form. Afterward, Wood asked me what I thought of the raw songs. I couldn’t help but answer, “Weird.” Wood cannot be continually defined as the “friend we almost lost”, but he left a lot back on that Manitoba highway and he’s come a long way to reclaim it. My favourite of all Wood’s songs is a bona fide heart breaker but the intro always gets a laugh. “The Letter Never Written” is, as Wood puts it, “the prettiest song written about suicide.” He quickly adds, “I had to tell my wife not to worry.” It is the prettiest song written about suicide. Wood’s songs are some of the prettiest songs about a lot of things and his accoustic set is not one to be missed.

Shiloh Lindsey

Okay, there are 1001 things I can say about Shiloh Lindsey; however, I said 1002 things about her in a feature article that I will run in ten days. Suffice it to say, her set (minus a patch cord that was acting up) was nearly as wonderful as the way I feel when she and I share a laugh. She has a new album, Western Violence and Brief Sensuality, coming out on June 10. You can catch her at the album release show that night at The Anza Club.

Wood finishes off the night by reminding everyone that this is hopefully going to be an ongoing thing, once or twice a month. I’ll be sure to keep you posted. He thanks the owners of Cafe Montmarte for the venue to play. Referencing No Fun City, Wood reminds us that too many live venues in this town are closing (an all to familiar refrain) and it is always great to find people with the courage to provide a home for the many talented performers and artists this city has to offer.


PCAHA Scholarship Awards

When a kid does something wrong, it’s news for days if not weeks. If they do something really bad, after week two of unending “coverage” we start seeing pieces about “What’s Wrong With Society?” and “Will Your Child Murder You Tonight?” If you’re lucky, they’ll tell you who is to blame for all this; chances are it’s video games or tv or music. What about when kids do something right?

Tonight, I find myself in the “Captain’s Club”, a lounge on the 2nd floor of GM Place. I’m here to take photos. Over the past 33 years, the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association (PCAHA) has given away more than $380,000 to 687 players. I’m willing to bet the $10,250 they give away tonight that you have never heard a thing about it or the kids who win. Despite several invitations, no major news provider in the Lower Mainland has ever mentioned it, let alone attended. Even the power of the Vancouver Canucks, who present five scholarships, can’t sway the media to pay attention.

However, get one of these to kids to throw a brick through a window instead of excel in school (coach and referee sports, work with special needs children, be camp counselors, produce films about sustainability, raise money for Third World nations, volunteer for the Red Cross, save a school from closing (yeah, he did), tutor, play an instrument, volunteer with Big Brothers/Sisters, work at the Food Bank, bring Palestinian and Israeli children together (no, I am not making this up), act in school productions, write for the school paper, be on the Grad Committee and/or Student Council, raise $70,000 for cancer research, work at a Mexican orphanage, prepare and serve food in a soup kitchen) or play a damn good game of hockey on top of it all and it makes it to the papers.

The list above is a short cross section of the accomplishments of the winners tonight. The ceremony usually lasts about 30-45 minutes and is a generally tame affair. One year Brian Burke scared the hell out of some kid by yelling out, “Smile! They’re giving you money!” just as I was about to take the picture. Burke, for the record, stayed for the entire ceremony that night, despite his aides constantly tapping at watches. He even stayed afterward to take pictures and sign autographs for anyone who wanted them. He knew how important nights like this were. Small and quiet as the ceremony is, it’s special for the kids and parents (and coaches and teachers and principals) to know that there are rewards for hard honest work, and hockey.

Slate.com ran an article about positive peer pressure. Surround children with smart, achieving classmates and your child is likely to rise to the occasion. This makes perfect sense to me. So why do we rarely hear about the kids who do well? If children are our future, maybe it would be a good idea to remind them now and again that there is still a future worth having. Just a thought.