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

Posts tagged “west vancouver

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.


UNISON Music Fest – Night #2

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.


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

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?


SWAN[K!] Song

When I was 15, I went to Europe with my parents. We took the “Grand Tour” and I found myself face to face with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I also found myself in another of my bell-ringing arguments with my father. At the end of it all, stubborn and moody, I refused to climb the tower with the other tourists. A couple of years later, the tower was closed to the public for safety reasons and I had missed an opportunity that was truly once in a life time.

Twenty years later, I was at a sold out show at the Commodore. The Town Pants were having their first Boozapalooza to celebrate their 10 year anniversary as a band. I didn’t miss SWANK! that night; I kind of got so drunk that I forgot them. Unlike Pisa’s stone banana, however, it was an omission I could rectify.

Boozapalooza

The release party for Campfire Pslams remains the best album release party I have ever attended. The Railway club was filled with well wishing friends and partiers who got exactly what they came for. SWANK! played an acoustic set, followed by their friends singing karaoke versions of the songs from the new album (the karaoke disc came as an extra with the actual CD). The evening was capped off with SWANK! blowing the doors off the club in all their amplified glory.

SWANK! circa 1996

Why the nostalgia?

This Friday (Oct 1, 2010), SWANK! will play their final show. After 18 years of wearing out dancing shoes the world round, SWANK! are powering down the amps for the last time. They’ll be closing the second of the Sound Lounge Presents Concert Series with The Jardines and Jonathan Todd.

The Jardines will be playing with the full 8-person compliment on stage and Jonathan Todd, a stranger to me, who managed to wow the socks of Kirk Douglas recording at the Sound Lounge; not an easy task to be sure. It is destined to be an evening of Vancouver music legend.

In Ireland 2006

I lost my only chance to see Pisa from her leaning tower. I’ll be damned if I miss my last chance to see SWANK! perform as a band. For those of you who find this the first, last, and only chance to see SWANK!, do yourself a favour and head down to the Anza Club this Friday and write yourself into legend.

The Sound Lounge Presents

SWANK! w/

The Jardines & Jonathan Todd

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Anza Club

3 W 8th Ave
Vancouver, BC
(604) 876-7128

Tickets: $10


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.”