BEEMER TEAMING: BMW dealer Brian Jessel and managing partner Jim Murray cleared all but one vehicle from their Boundary-off-Lougheed new-car showroom to stage the 14th annual Cabriolet gala. Previous runnings reportedly raised $2 million. Staged by Diana Zoppa and sponsored by ZLC Financial chairman-CEO Garry Zlotnik, the recent one benefited Pancreatic Cancer Canada by netting some $525,000. The sole car left standing beside a spotlit stage and dining tables reflected the ever-more-elegant gala’s name. It was a just-introduced BMW M850i Cabriolet tagged at $145,000. Figuratively donning his dealer hat, Jessel compared it to a certain $350,000 British sportster, “But this is a nicer car.” As for other BMW introductions, half-year Cabo San Lucas resident Jessel said: “We’ve got a lot of new product coming this year. I won’t have to marry for money after all.”
BETTER WORLD: Operatic soprano and graduate biomedical engineer Isabel Bayrakdarian sang at the Elektra Women’s Choir’s recent benefit-banquet in the Sutton Place hotel. Elektra honorary patron Bayrakdarian also performed at the choir’s 30th anniversary concert in 2017. At the hotel, co-founder Morna Edmundson conducted the 53-voice ensemble as she did in January at East Hastings Street’s Oscar’s Pub. That Elektra Uncorked fundraiser followed the release of Elektra’s 15th album, Silent Night. No repertoire stick-in-the-muds, the choristers are heard prominently on Gibsons-based progressive-metal musician Devin Townsend’s Empath album that released March 29 to seven-figure YouTube hits. Such musical genre-bending aside, few would dispute Schubert’s An Die Musik that Bayrakdarian sang to Elektra patrons: “You, lovely art, in how many gloomy hours of experiencing the turmoil of life have you ignited love in my heart and transported me to a better world?”
OVARIAN OVATION: With Franci Stratton chairing for the third time, the recent Love Her gala reportedly raised $225,000 for Ovarian Cancer Canada. The lunchtime event included a fashion show by West Vancouver retailer Marilyn Diligenti-Smith. Local volunteer models hit the catwalk as singer Amanda Wood belted out Girl On Fire. Ovarian cancer, however, is a murderous fire that researchers and practitioners yearn to put out while striving to discover how its starts. Back at the gala, attendees applauded when an annual award commemorating business and community leader Virginia Greene went to Christine Coletta and cousin Lisa Konishi who have jointly lost eight friends and family members to ovarian cancer. More cheerfully, Coletta donated and served much wine from her 45,000-cases-a-year Okanagan Crush Pad operation.
PAUL’S LETTERS: Paul Wong’s year-long artist in residency at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden ended with a reception at his Keefer Street studio. Fifty-five arts-related tenants reportedly pay $2 a square foot to occupy the building’s lower, third and fourth floors. A Korean restaurant and Scotiabank branch are conveniently located at street level. Meanwhile, Wong’s now-concluded exhibition of 700 letters to late mother Suk Fong has received a reply. The Canada Council for the Arts reportedly offered $54,500 to fund a related book. “We’re trying to get the money as soon as possible in case there’s been a mistake,” Wong cracked while admitting, “It was more than I asked for.”
POST PAST: B.C.’s early 20th-century South Asian pioneers were the subjects of a recent Vancouver Sun article. Now, moviemaker Baljit Sangra wants to portray their second- and third-generation descendants. To open the DOXA Documentary Film Festival May 3, Sangra’s 85-minute Because We Are Girls examines three Williams Lake sisters who concealed their shared sexual abuse for almost 25 years. She hopes that her next, and bigger, project will be a feature-film drama. “I would love to do a coming-of-age narrative of South Asians growing up in the 1970s,” Sangra said. “The fashion, the music, what they thought.” That might cost $5 million. Let’s hope she raises it.
NEW LEAF: Simon Fraser University chief Andrew Petter presented the President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award to Mike Harcourt recently. The latter’s merits aside, the Four Seasons Hotel ceremony echoed Petter having been in 1991-96 NDP premier Harcourt’s cabinet. No such gender or partisan links occurred in 2010 when the honour went to Petter’s decade-later successor as B.C. Liberal finance minister, Carole Taylor. Her co-awardee, since-deceased husband Art Phillips, was Harcourt’s predecessor-but-one as Vancouver mayor. Soon after her award, Taylor was named chancellor of SFU where, vis-à-vis president Petter, she said: “My job is to protect him.” In his early 20s, lawyer Harcourt counselled Kitsilano-based Cool-Aid youth social services’ clients, some of whom were jailed for possessing marijuana joints. Today, he chairs Lumby-based True Leaf that plans to produce 2,500 kg of cannabis annually.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: A century ago, satirist Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary contained: “Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” Also: “Conservative: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.” Finally: “Liberty: One of imagination’s most precious possessions.”