These are the things we saw and shared on Instagram this month. Favourite moments from the road include camping at Diamond Lake and Big Sur, exploring the rim of Crater Lake, being dwarfed by Coastal Redwood trees in California’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and watching Humpbacks feed off the coast of Carmel. Closer to home, we dug the new brunch program at Bestie, the gyozas at the newly opened Gyoza Bar, and returning to Bufala for one of our favourite pies on the planet — their disc of ham, pea, taleggio and truffle oil. Oh, plus the rain. Always the rain.
by Grady Mitchell | A short story collection is a tough enough test for a new writer, but author Michael Christie added to the challenge by centering much of his first book, The Beggar’s Garden, around the Downtown Eastside, where he had worked at an emergency shelter for six years. ”It was a place where you paid with a bad story,” Christie says. Nobody who came up to the counter was ever having a peachy day. The stories he encountered there inspired the book.
The dichotomies at play in this city make for rich storytelling. “What’s the difference between Vancouver and Victorian England?” the author asks. “Not much. We’ve got the highest echelons of society bumping right up to the lowest. It’s such a dramatic situation, and I realized I wanted to write about it.” Spinning nine different (but interrelated) stories with as many protagonists – from a Riverview patient with delusions of royalty to a computer programmer struggling in the dating world – allowed him to explore the shared traits among all facets of society, no matter how dissimilar.
“Literature can level the playing field and humanize everyone. I wanted to portray people on all levels of society struggling, being lost and trying to find connection with one another. That’s what I love about literature: it can encompass larger ideas than a simple view of poverty, or a simple view of class.”
Christie’s empathetic approach is key. He never finger-wags at his characters, nor does he romanticize their plight. While a disgruntled banker and a struggling addict face very different day-to-day challenges, they still grapple with the same issues of connection. The author tackles the intricacies of the neighbourhood with eloquence, tact, and enough skill to get the book long-listed for the 2011 Giller Prize, alongside writers like Michael Ondaatje.
Before he was a writer, Christie was a professional skateboarder. Although they seem worlds apart, he sees writing and skateboarding as similar activities. “Skateboarding is totally self-directed; there’s no coach. It’s just you, your skateboard, and the city,” he says. “Writing’s the same thing. No one tells me what I should do next.”
Although at first he faced skepticism as a skater-turned-writer, he won a spot at UBC’s MFA program, where he wrote The Beggar’s Garden as his thesis. “Now I’m a working writer,” he says. “I know it’s a luxury, and I try to remind myself everyday.”
His followup book, a novel titled If I Fall, I Die, is now done and awaiting release in January. It centers on the lives of an agoraphobic woman and her ten-year-old son, following the boy as he leaves home for the first time ever and gets enmeshed in the long-cold mystery of another missing child. To learn more, visit Mike’s website.
Local firm Peter Cardew Architects just sent us an email and video link countering the already accepted and established plans for the new Vancouver Art Gallery. “How can we ensure the public supports a new VAG? Ask them.” Food for thought:
In the search for alternate sites on which to construct a new Vancouver Art Gallery there was little public participation to ensure the best site was chosen for a major public building in the city. Also, in an economic climate that is far less robust than when the idea of a totally new gallery was first proposed, it is critical that public money be seen to be wisely spent. Only through actively encouraging open dialogue about such issues can governments, the public and potential donors be assured of enthusiastic public support. This video is intended to stimulate that dialogue and that enthusiasm.
by Ken Tsui | “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” says Sundance award-winning filmmaker Julia Kwan about her new documentary, Everything Will Be. Playing at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, the film focuses on the past 3 years of Vancouver’s evolving Chinatown and the diverse collage of people who now call it home.
Julia grew up in Chinatown. Her parents found work folding linens at the Keefer Laundry and waiting tables at restaurants like Foo Ho Ho. “My mother was always nervous outside of Chinatown,” Julia lamented, “but put her in Chinatown and she’s in her element.” She remembers the strong sense of community when her family hopped from grocer to grocer on the weekends, shopping for provisions and running into friends along the way.
For Julia, the transformation of her childhood Chinatown is a personal ache; where the film’s inspiration finds its ignition. The documentary is a time capsule; it’s a process piece that studies the pivot when tradition meets change.
Julia was drawn by the resilience of the people in her neighbourhood, but she also acknowledges that her film captures the end of an era for Chinatown’s traditional shop culture. Some of the businesses featured in the documentary have already closed, even before the film’s release. “I really wanted to document the shifts in these people’s lives”, she says. “I wanted it to be an immersive experience and give people a feeling like they’ve been sitting on a stoop in Chinatown.”
Everything Will Be moves beyond the streets and gives the audience a unique look within the guarded cultural enclaves of Chinatown. The access and requisite trust didn’t come easy. Local Chinese herbalist Mr. Lai, whose storefront sits on East Hastings, initially refused to be featured in the film. And there were others, too. They were afraid that “it would effect their livelihood”, Julia recalls. Even the decision to hire Mr. Lai’s own daughter to work on the documentary didn’t sway him. It took more tenacity, not to mention months, but Mr. Lai finally agreed to let Julia document him and his business. “That’s the difference between fiction and documentary,” Julia says. “I feel like I’m constantly begging and asking for more.” The process was ultimately rewarding, and not only for the sake of the film. Genuine friendships have bloomed as a result.
The film also challenged Julia to work outside her comfort zone. She learned to relinquish control as a director and to recognize that amazing things happen if you are open to them. Throughout the film-making process, Julia learned how to better recognize authentic moments that will speak volumes in what audiences will surely view as an elegiac snapshot of the collective memory and legacy of Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Everything Will Be screens at the Vancouver International Film Festival September 29th, October 1st and October 3rd.
Reader M.B. | 2:30pm | Port Kells, BC | SHARE YOUR VIEW
We love posting the photographs that reveal the views from our reader’s windows. Whether it’s a back alley in the fall or a sandy beach in high summer, we’re always stoked to see what you see from home, work or while on the road. What does your view look like right now? Take a snap of it and send it in. Check out the gallery of reader submissions below… Read more
It’s been tough to officially say goodbye to summer this week, so to ease our pain we’ve combed Scout’s photo archives for some of our favourite Fall photos, which we’ve arranged below for your therapeutic perusal. Too further (musically) moderate your mood to be right as rain, we recommend either Il Giardino Armonico’s treatment of Vivaldi’s L’Autunno or Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.
by Grady Mitchell | ”Light is the most important thing,” says Jennilee Marigomen. “Light is everything.” The Vancouver photographer has masterful control over that most ethereal substance. She combines her deft hand for light with a love of colour and coy dashes of humour to create work that celebrates the routine miracles of everyday life. She’s happiest, she says, when she finds “something that shouldn’t really be there.”
The core of the humour in Jennilee’s work revolves around the often clumsy interaction of manmade objects with nature, something especially abundant in a city like Vancouver. “Nature always finds its way.” Another key feature of her work is Vancouver’s unique light. “It’s actually more the lack of light,” she says. The familiar overcast of the city’s misty winters create a soft, diffused tone. The short days and capricious weather are both a gift and a curse. It makes light difficult to catch, but also precious. “You feel like this is a really special thing happening.”
Jennilee has collected one of her most beautiful series, Window Seat, into a book that will be released on September 26th at Make Gallery. The photos were taken on a trip through Mexico, a place with very different light. Its intensity and heat were a challenge, but one she embraced. The light is more direct, the colours more vibrant, but the images still bear Jennilee’s meditative and revelatory approach.
The title, in a direct sense, refers to the book’s opening photo of an airplane window rimed with frost, but it also embodies the way Jennilee works. Shot in the coastal towns of Sayulita and San Francisco, Jennilee operates as an observer, not an active participant. It’s as if she quickly came across these scenes, snapped a photo, and just as quickly vanished without a trace, content with the record of a brief moment that will never come again. You can grab the book for $35 at Make Gallery on September 26, and see more of Jennilee’s work on her website.
(via) Fall officially arrives tomorrow. If you want to understand the chemistry behind the imminent turning of Vancouver’s leaves, study this handy chart by Compound Interest. Short version: “Leaves are green because of chlorophyll, yellow because of a combination of carotenoids and flavonoids, red because of carotenoids combined with anthocyanins, and orange when only carotenoids are present. The chart is presented with detailed explanations of each of the different pigments.” The more you know…
The GOODS from The Biltmore Cabaret
Vancouver, BC | The Kopecky Family Band isn’t a family in the traditional sense – rather than being bound by blood and heritage, this band of six young musicians is connected by circumstance, miles on the odometer, and the songs they have crafted over the years. It is the Kopecky Family Band’s music that has brought them widespread attention and critical acclaim – the New York Times giving the recommendation that “If You Like Fleetwood Mac, Try the Kopecky Family Band”. (This is a great reminder to both check out KFB and give Rumours a spin on the turntable tonight).
Original founding member Kelsey Kopecky is also bringing something non-traditional on tour with the band – her love of yoga. Vancouver has (of course) been selected as a city to be a part of “Yopecky,” Kelsey’s pre-show, mixed level vinyasa yoga class! Just bring a mat and a spirit of adventure for some heart opening and movement. Kopecky Family Band and guest Avid Dancer play the Biltmore Cabaret Friday September 26 – advance tickets available online, at Red Cat, Zulu Records & the Biltmore. Learn more about the Biltmore after the jump… Read more
Local writer Stevie Wilson, the very same who pens the popular DIG IT and YOU SHOULD KNOW columns on Scout, has been busy contributing to a new book of local history called Vancouver Confidential. It’s a “collaboration of artists and writers who plumb the shadows of civic memory looking for the stories that don’t fit into mainstream narratives …. [shining] a light on the lives of Vancouverites that have for so long been ignored.” Within its pages, you’ll read…
Tom Carter on Vancouver’s Entertainment Czars, Aaron Chapman on Vancouver’s WWII Towers and our “Fear of the Outside World”; Jesse Donaldson explores the case of the Lovers’ Lane Marauder, James Johnstone revisits old Strathcona through the eyes of long-time resident Lucille Mars; Lani Russwurm investigates the “Red Shadows” and the 1930s communist scare with a spy’s eye view of Vancouver; Eve Lazarus probes the 1928 Lennie Commission into police corruption and all of its ensuing ramifications; Diane Purvey addresses the strange case of Viola Woolridge and how the mores and legal system of 1947 resulted in Viola (or at least her character) being put on trial for her own murder; Catherine Rose takes us back to the Dirty ’30s and shines a light on the “unholy trinity” of Police Chief John Cameron and gangsters Joe Celona and Shue Moy; Rosanne Sia looks at a 1931 Pender Street café murder/suicide that resulted in a ban on the hiring of white waitresses in Chinatown restaurants; Jason Vanderhill reveals the little-known story of Joseph Kennedy Ltd. and the liquor interest in 1920s Vancouver; Stevie Wilson on the staggering unemployment, relief camps, and Hobo Jungles of 1931; Will Woods on Mayor Gerry McGeer’s transformation from iron moulder and labour activist to controversial mayor and reader of the Riot Act; Terry Watada on Etsuji Morii, the “Al Capone of the Japanese community,” and the Black Dragon Society of Japantown, and John Belshaw pays tribute to early Vancouver street photography and the work of James Crookall.
Vancouver Confidential was made available at bookstores on Monday, September 15th. The official launch goes down at 6pm this Sunday, September 21st at the Emerald Supper Club in Chinatown.
The GOODS from Cavalier
Vancouver, BC | Ready or not, Fall is here! Sapphires are the birthstone for September as well as the traditional gift for 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries. While blue is the gemstone’s traditional colour, they also come in stunning hues of pink, yellow, orange, purple, and even green. So if you’re in the market for a memorable gift, or just want to treat yourself to a fall statement piece, stop on by Cavalier to check out offerings from our handcrafted, ethically sourced sapphire collections. We are also featuring an exclusive Foe and Dear Sapphire Collection. Featuring rough blue sapphire gemstones set in 14K gold fill. Not only is each piece affordable, they are also unique and handcrafted by Vancouver’s own Katherine Huie. Read more
The GOODS from Rowan Sky
Vancouver, BC | We’re looking for a fashion savvy part-time sales associate who is detail-focused and passionate about footwear, bags, and jewelry. The successful candidate will be a self-starter who is motivated to achieve sales goals and has the capacity to work one on one and successfully in a team. Dedication to being on time and working efficiently are musts, as is computer experience (Mac OS, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) and the ability to further our social media presence. You will also need to climb ladders and lift up to 25lbs. Extra languages spoken will be helpful. We can offer proper training to excel within our company and in the fashion business, sales incentives after probation period, employee discounts on all merchandise, and education on maintaining our blog and website. Pay negotiable based on experience. Send resumes to info [at] rowansky.com. Read more
The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is holding it’s annual Midcentury Modern Residential House Tour this weekend. Participants get to tour the interiors of five “significant” West Coast Regional Style Modernist homes in Vancouver. Architecture wonks will appreciate that this year’s tour includes homes by architects such as Ned Pratt and Barry Downs, plus there’s a Duncan McNab home with landscaping by Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. Expect a post-tour reception at Vancouver Maritime Museum where tour participants will be invited to listen to Professor Sherry McKay talk about the history of Modernism in Vancouver over refreshments. A little bit of post-and-beam appreciation, a little bit of wine and cheese – sounds like an exceedingly civilized Saturday!
Saturday, September 20th | 1-5pm | Various locations | $85 | TICKETS & DETAILS