A new initiative from the Arts Club Theatre Company is providing jobs for artists who are out of work due to COVID-19.
The company has created 20 temporary full-time positions for what it’s calling Education and Community Outreach Specialists (ECOS). Filling the positions, which are made possible by the federal government’s emergency wage subsidy program, the Bill Millerd Artist Fund, and private donations, are artists and actors, many of whom were part of cancelled Arts Club shows. They are now tasked with creating digital content, hosting educational workshops online, and connecting with patrons and donors.
We talked to Arts Club artistic director Ashlie Corcoran about the initiative.
Q: You’ve been doing a lot of Zoom calls in your role as AD for the Arts Club. What have you learned about online conferencing?
A: If there’s a large group of people, I tell them they can turn off their camera if they need to, or get up and use the washroom or stretch. Giving people permission to do that is important. With smaller groups of people, I’ll say “Let’s keep this meeting less than 30 minutes, and we’re not going to multi-task, and that we’re really going to listen to each other and get off our screens.” With my artistic team, we’ve been listening to a Brené Brown book about leadership, Dare to Lead. So besides our tactical conversations, we’ve been having a little bit of a book club. That’s been great. She (Brown) gives you a lot of tools to use as a team. We’ve been trying to incorporate those tools to keep our meetings meaningful and communication open.
Shani Mootoo has never been to the Growing Room feminist literary and arts festival but the author is looking forward to seeing what other artists have to say at the March 11-15 event.
“It’s kind of a very interesting experiment … ” said Mootoo about the varied roster of participants. “There are a lot of writers here who are doing very different kinds of writing. Lots of young people who are putting into practice many of the political ideas that they’ve been sort of honing for the last several years as society has been really, really changing in terms of identity and stuff like that.
“I find that interesting and I would like to hear what people are saying and see how the literature is changing right now,” added Mootoo, once a Vancouver resident who now calls rural Prince Edward County, Ont., home
Mootoo, who wrote the Giller Prize-nominated Cereus Blooms at Night, is coming to the festival with a new novel. Polar Vortex is set in a bucolic rural Ontario town. In it we meet painter Priya who has moved to the boonies with her writer partner Alexandra. The pair has a comfortable life as artists. Priya, though, has threatened the couple’s bliss by inviting to visit an old friend with whom she has a very complicated and fraught emotional past. It’s a past that Alex knows very little about.
Mootoo’s novel makes you wonder about how much is too much information, and who decides that?
“What I really came to enjoy exploring was how much do you share,” said Mootoo when asked about revealing our personal histories. “How much do you hold back and the recognition that you don’t have to face everything and the other person cannot really know what you’re thinking. You also don’t know what the other person is thinking. When I realized that in a sense that’s what I was writing it just sort of just kept amplifying. It was making me uncomfortable to even write it.”
Also an acclaimed poet, Mootoo, who was born in Ireland and raised in Trinidad, will be taking part in a handful of events/panels at Growing Room.
“First of all she’s a wonderful writer. We were really excited about Shani’s upcoming work,” said the festival’s director, Jessica Johns. “She was a Vancouver resident, she doesn’t live here anymore, but it’s exciting to have someone kind of return, especially now with a new work coming up and with connections to the place.”
The festival, now in its third year, is showcasing 85 renowned writers, filmmakers, dancers, comedians and musicians from across Canada. The idea for the festival is to “celebrate inclusive storytelling in all its forms,” and allow people to proudly be themselves “through art.”
While that inclusivity of storytelling is the backbone of the event, the festival is still literary in nature. Some of the writers joining Mootoo at the event are: Griffin Poetry Prize-winners Eve Joseph and Liz Howard, and Gov.-Gen. Prize-winner Gwen Benaway.
“It’s a festival that celebrates the writing and artwork of artists, women, which of course includes trans and sis women, two-spirit, non binary and queer artists,” said Johns when asked to describe Growing Room. “It’s also a festival very focused in anti-oppression and trying to create as accessible a space as we can for as many folks as possible to be able to attend in some form or another.”
With that accessibility comes a wide range of events, panels and social opportunities. Key changes this year include the shortening of the festival from nine to a much-more-manageable five days. There will be online access for those who can’t get to the actual events, and a marketplace will be set up at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
“It’s doing really well. I feel like this is something that people really want,” said Johns when asked about how things were going leading up to the festival.
“It’s at a time where there’s a lot of political and social unrest for a lot of legitimate reasons and I think having a space that is very open about talking about those things, and the effect that that’s having on the art world is very (important). So we focus on that … It’s important to have a space like this when it seems like the world is going to hell, you know?”
Here readying an at-home dinner for 70 art collectors and professionals, Bob Rennie later addressed building contractors on the “demographic crunch” he said will add “another Vancouver, Burnaby, New West and Coquitlam.” Malcolm Parry / PNG
CRYSTAL BALLING: Realtor Bob Rennie and his Rennie Group’s intelligence VP, Andrew Ramlo, helped Independent Contractors and Business Association conventioneers digest their bacon and eggs recently. The association president, Chris Gardner, had already told breakfasting colleagues that trade workers’ wages will increase by 5.2 per cent this year, that 54 per cent of contractors can’t obtain enough workers, and that only the Slovak Republic is slower than B.C. among 35 jurisdictions issuing building permits. Rennie and Ramlo’s “demographic crunch” projections included Canadian immigration admissions surging to 350,000 by 2021 (B.C.’s share to be 15 per cent). An aging population and climate change will be the economy’s greatest challenges, they said. Meanwhile, housing the Lower Mainland’s one million more residents by 2040 will require “another Vancouver, Burnaby, New West and Coquitlam.” And though, in constant dollars, millennials’ median household after-tax income exceeds Generation X’s and Baby Boomers’ by 32 per cent, their debt-to-after-tax-income is almost twice as high at 216 per cent. Rennie’s problem: “Twenty years from now, who’s going to be my lawyer, bring my bedpan and pay my taxes?”
GIRLY RISER: After 14 years as a global art adviser, Krista Howard has launched a physical gallery and office, Howard495, in the Railtown district. Her debut show, titled Girlie Pics, Someone Else’s History, featured work — some of it a little spicy girlie — by mostly female artists familiar to her existing clients. Catriona Jeffries’ influential gallery recently located nearby on East Cordova’s 900 block. The Monica Reyes Gallery has long operated at Hastings-at-Princess. We’ll likely see more.
HIGHER LEAH: Raised in a socialist household, Leah Costello sang in a Salmon Arm-based Hawaiian band, sought North Vancouver’s federal Tory nomination, managed Fraser Institute events, produced policy-issue videos, and founded Curious Minds Productions and the Bon Mot Book Club. The latter’s readings featured such diverse authors as former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, U.S. vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Canadian media meteorite Conrad Black and John Cleese of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV series. After shelving that project, Costello married the Highland West Capital managing director and former Douglas & McIntyre book-publishing firm partner, David Rowntree. Now, as Leah Rowntree, she’s planning a podcast titled Hungry Mind, Open Heart to talk about current issues. There’s a Hawaiian song for that: I Hei Anau — How Far I’ll Go.
FREE-LUNCH DIVIDEND: Science World’s Lego-skyscrapers exhibition reminds architect Michael Green of his first job. Before designing and advocating mass-wood highrises, Green assisted César Pelli on Kuala Lumpur’s reinforced-concrete Petronas Towers. At 452 metres, the 1996 structures were the world’s tallest until 2004. Green recalls clients nixing Pelli’s original design because his tower cross-sections resembled the six-pointed Star of David. When redrawn with two more to suggest the Muslim Rub El Hizb symbol, and with further facets added, Pelli got the go-ahead. Green has given himself the same for a vegetarian-vegan book based on his lunchtime feeding of Michael Green Architecture’s 65 staff. Its second section will address how “serving food builds culture, connections and collaboration,” and a third “the financial benefits of all businesses giving lunch.” Have your cake and eat it, that is.
ART START: North Vancouver’s Polygon Gallery was packed recently when Laura Gildner received the fifth-annual Philip B. Lind Emerging Artist Prize of $5,000. “Being an artist is very hard; I admire you immensely,” Rogers Communications vice chair Lind said to prize contenders. Many feel that way about Lind, who survived a 1998 stroke to continue his 40-year guidance of communications entrepreneur Ted Rogers. Gildner’s work, Informer, contains eight life-size video images addressing viewers. Visit the Polygon gallery exhibition before March 16 to see how artists emerge.
GOOD ONE GOES: Hospital staff and patients will miss Dr. Dianne Miller who has completed 30 years as a gynecological oncologist and researcher. She received a Vancouver Coastal Health lifetime-achievement award in 2019 that recognized her “revolutionizing the care and prevention of ovarian cancer for women in B.C. and all over the world.” Miller will now spend up to three months a year teaching gynecological-cancer surgery techniques to Ugandan practitioners.
BOT BALL: Beaumont Studios founder-owner Jude Kusnierz’s recent Robot Dance Party drew participants attired in costumes that could hamper the actual dancing. Artist Noa Ben-Mazia — she goes by Noya — avoided that by creating a life-sized but inanimate robot named BroBot3E5 that, with further tweaking, may master a few dance steps for next year’s wingding.
NO DEER: Much-honoured animator Marv Newland won’t follow the Disney studio’s proposed remake of Bambi by updating his own Bambi Meets Godzilla. The Mayne Island resident and International Rocketship Ltd. founder-principal usually pooh-poohs talk of the 1969 cult-classic he made while studying at Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design. Newland does have a new movie, though. Containing contributions by 15 global colleagues, his Katalog of Flaws will premiere at the 20th annual Monstra Animation Festival in Lisbon, Portugal, on March 19.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: My next column will be published March 14.
Jill Killeen and Clara Aquilini chaired the Reveal gala in Rogers Arena that reportedly raised $1,022,000 to benefit the Canucks Autism Network founded by Clara and husband Paolo of the team-and-arena-owning family. Malcolm Parry / PNG
HOME ICE: Reveal gala co-chairs Clara Aquilini and Jill Killeen virtually skated into Rogers Arena recently and netted $1,022,000 for the Canucks Autism Network. “We both play offence,” fundraiser Killeen cracked during a VIP reception in the Vancouver Canucks’ dressing room. Singer-comedian Lady Rizo and local Underground Circus performers entertained 600 attendees.
Among them was city-based artist Athena Bax, who often concocts glamorous outfits from less than some spend on hairspray. For Reveal, she crafted a top hat from scrap materials, then glued glittering gewgaws to a $7.50 Value Village jacket she ripped apart and stitched to her dress. Countering such fiscal probity, Bax also donated a floral painting titled Love is a Garden that aided the network’s youngsters by fetching $30,000 at auction.
MERCHANT OF GASTOWN: Eighty-nine years have passed since steam locomotives hauled passenger and freight cars across the Hastings-at-Carrall intersection. Erected there in 1913, the Merchant Bank Building had its facade set back obliquely so trains could pass. The old railway right-of-way is now a triangular public space called Pioneer Place or, more often, Pigeon Park. Following years of decline, the neoclassical Merchant Bank building itself looks much as it did new, not that multicoloured nighttime floodlighting was common in 1913. Inside, following renovation by Peter Malek and brother Shahram Malekyazdi’s Millennium Development Corp., it has become technically current while retaining some marble-and-terrazzo flooring, moulded ceilings, iron staircase balustrades (there is a new elevator) and sash windows that actually open, albeit by the few centimetres now mandated. City hall wouldn’t renew the original design’s provision for four additional four storeys, but it did relent as regards a steel-and-concrete replacement for the mostly wood-framed top floor. Meanwhile, Millennium has begun a 37-rental-unit building alongside that retains the brick fascia of an 1880s structure. Oddly, the Merchant Bank building had a same-era predecessor that lasted barely 20 years. With several restaurant-bars nearby, another may occupy the street-level and lower floors. Colliers International realtors might welcome a tech firm leasing all 14,172 square feet. The peerless address — One West Hastings — would likely be an inducement.
SURGING FOR SURGERY: Pei Huang and Judy Leung co-chaired the Chinese Canadian community’s sixth annual Time to Shine gala that reportedly raised $3 million. That sum, including a $1-million donation from William Lin and An-Nien Lu, helped the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation close its $60-million Future of Surgery campaign, although a similar major fundraising will doubtless follow.
The happy occasion saw foundation president-CEO Angela Chapman wear a timely, shiny gown from Vancouver’s Vimo Wedding boutique. Other attendees bid on barely-there custom dresses by Beijing designer Guo Pei. Not that any wearer would feel chilled after sampling the gala’s complimentary Lion Way cocktails: brandy, rum, mescal, amaretto, red wine and five spices.
EVEN-BIGGER DEAL: A bullet wound to 10-year-old Ian Gillespie’s head put paid to his piano studies but didn’t impede his property-development career. Now aged 58, and often partnered by Peterson Group principal Ben Yeung, Westbank Projects Corp. founder Gillespie has completed many major developments in Vancouver and Toronto. Six are proceeding in Seattle and others in Tokyo. While checking on Westbank CFO Judy Leung’s co-chairing of the Time to Shine gala, Gillespie spoke about a bigger-still project. That’s a $10-billion, five-million-square-foot development of primarily office space on six sites in San Jose, California. With Silicon Valley giants Apple and Google nearby, the energy-net-zero scheme will approximate “half the area of downtown Vancouver,” Gillespie said. It’s as well that that bullet didn’t penetrate deeper.
PARRYNOIA: Rolls-Royce’s claim that its $500,000 Black Badge Cullinan model “delivers a theatrical dreamscape within the cabin of the motor car” may not imply that its drivers tend to fall asleep.
DOWN-UNDER ORDER: Australia’s 23-year honorary consul, Kevin Lamb, likely sensed the irony of rainfall when he and New Zealand’s five-month consul general, Matt Ritchie, jointly celebrated their national days. Getting to the reception obliged them and guests to slosh through cascades that caused much flooding and cut road access to Hemlock Valley skiers and residents. For want of rain that day, out-of-control bushfires threatened widespread evacuation of Australia’s capital. Canberra itself earlier conferred the Order of Australia on Edmonton-born Lamb for “outstanding achievement and service.” Following his posting to Kuala Lumpur, trade specialist Ritchie is vigorously seeking New Zealand-Canada benefits from the two-year-old Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
LIB AND LET LIB: One wonders whether B.C. Liberal Liberals would need to “bid for a political comeback” (Vaughn Palmer, Sun, Feb. 4) or practice lifeboat survival had Dianne Watts been elected leader Feb. 3, 2018. The former Surrey mayor and Tory MP led through four ballots until the lack of Liberal-caucus support, horse-trading among ballot losers and non-voting by her own supporters gave Andrew Wilkinson the win.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: The U.S. might lose it world’s-highest-imprisonment ranking if ordinary citizens faced trials comparable to their president’s.
Weighing 25 kg and standing 122 cm tall after a stroke and 10 brain-tumour operations, Casey Wright, 19, has had Ben Ratner incorporate his words and videos of his many activities into a play titled Casey and the Octopus. Malcolm Parry / PNG
SPEAKING UP: Casey Wright was 14 and had had 10 brain-tumour operations by 2015 when moviebiz veteran Danny Virtue announced he would executive-produce a film about him. Now 19, Casey weighs 25 kg, is 122 cm tall, and the movie has become integral to a play based on his own words that was written and directed by Ben Ratner.
Presented by East End Boys Club, the one-act Casey and the Octopus ran recently in Templeton Secondary School’s theatre. The club was founded by Octopus co-executive producer Jim Crescenzo who taught two generations of Templeton theatre students. One grad thanked him “for helping me stand on my own two feet, which are strong and no longer let me fall.” Casey Wright’s own feet can be shaky, courtesy of a 2013 stroke that paralyzed his right side and rendered speech impossible. Lengthy therapy restored the latter enough for him to advise audiences: “When you’re climbing that mountain and the clouds part to show you there’s still a long way to go, tighten your boots, take a deep breath, and keep climbing.” His father, Larry, says the “Octopus” in the play’s title refers to what the first brain tumour looked like in medical scans. Casey subsequently refused scar-reducing surgery. “I’m keeping ’em,” he said. “They tell the story of what I am and what I’ve been through.” That is a lot, with more perhaps to come. Nevertheless, he ends the play on his feet and telling audiences: “If I had been ‘normal’ I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you guys. And talking to you is what makes me feel alive. It’s what makes me get out of bed in the morning and keep going.”
Despite his enormous medical travails, natural-showman Casey has had many more life experiences, including sky-diving and honorary RCMP staff-sergeant-major status, than many of his contemporaries.
There’s a word for that: Outstanding.
NEXT: Danny Virtue says he’s negotiating a possible return of the 1990-95 Neon Rider TV series he and late actor-business-partner Winston Rekert created for shooting at the Virtue Studio Ranch that also supports physically, mentally and financially challenged children.
WHA HAE: Bard Robbie Burns’ Scots-dialect writings might have claimed that aipples fall not far from the crann. That certainly applies to Terry Lee who led the SFU Pipe Band to six world championships. At the band’s recent Burns fundraising supper, Lee and wife Nancy accompanied piper-son Alastair, 28, who won two gold medals at Kansas City’s recent Winter Storm tourney. Several world champions competed, too. The Lees’ daughter Fiona is a former world champion highland dancer. Terry’s brother Jack is a world’s-top-ten piper and the SFU band’s pipe sergeant. His sons Andrew and John are pipers there, too. Burns’ famed Tam O’Shanter poem had the devil, disguised as a dog, pipe for a witches’ dance. The SFU event saw nothing more diabolical than Kendrick Rutherford piping in the traditional offal-oatmeal-suet haggis.
SCRUMMIES: Culinary curiosities bacon sarnie, fly cemetery and sausage butty will accompany English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Manx, Cornish and ancient Celtic cultural performances at the British Isles Historic Society’s Heritage Festival on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza Feb. 22.
POTSHOT: Seemingly undeterred by hemp’s recent 75 per cent price plunge, cancer-surviving pop-punk singer Bif Naked (real name Beth Torbert) will launch an e-com boutique named MonaLisaHealing.com at this weekend’s Wellness Show. Extracted from marijuana-cousin hemp, the tincture of cannabidiol (CBD) is reportedly free of high-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Even so, pot activist Jodie Emery will join Naked and fellow singer Mary Zilba on a panel at the show. Naked’s next single, JIM, is due Feb. 14 with an 11th album following. She recorded her second, Superbeautifulmonster, at expat-to-be Calvin Ayre’s city-based Bodog Music where Nazanin Afshin-Jam would wax her debut single, I Dance For You (see YouTube). Iran-born global human-rights activist Afshin-Jam later launched her own foundation, married and had three children with now-Conservative Party of Canada leadership seeker Peter MacKay.
ANOTHER SEASON: Still no word on a luxury-hotel chain to succeed Four Seasons and renovate its leased Pacific Centre premises? Ritz Carlton backed out from what became the Trump International Hotel, but likely isn’t a contender. Marriott has reportedly looked aggressively. Ditto Hilton, where luxury-and-lifestyle global group head Martin Rinck oversees strategic development for Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and other growing divisions. Rinck may actually see the vacated Four Seasons locale from his West Vancouver home.
ELEVENTH HOUR: The 2003 SARS outbreak saw then-St. Paul’s Hospital emergency-medicine director Daniel Kalla write the bestseller Pandemic. Nine novels later in 2019, his We All Fall Down pictured a recurrence of plague, the medieval Black Death. Perhaps Wuhan, China’s coronavirus will inspire another of his medically incontestable blockbusters.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As ride-hail cars proliferate, real-life taxi drivers may be modifying movie-star Robert De Niro’s question to: “Aren’t you talkin’ to me?”
Time to Shine gala co-chairs Pei Huang and Judy Leung tasted the gyoza dish that will be modified by chef John Carlo Felicella and his team for February’s IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany. Malcolm Parry / PNG
CONNECTIONS: The VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation made quite a to-do of Willie Li’s Lion Way Properties becoming the sixth annual Time To Shine gala’s presenting sponsor (Sun, Jan. 20). Former gala chair Cecilia Tse, the Colliers International senior VP-Asia Pacific, staged a kickoff for that Feb. 1 fundraiser in her company’s downtown offices.
Colliers is the sales-marketing agent for hitherto-residential-developer Lion Way’s first commercial project, the 10-floor Landmark at Richmond City Centre. Meanwhile, the gala’s third-time co-chair, foundation board member Judy Leung, is the CFO of another development firm, Westbank Corp. At the foundation’s 2018 gala, Westbank principal Ian Gillespie donated $1.5 million toward the $4,343,552 reportedly raised. Leung hopes that this year’s event will raise $5 million to conclude the foundation’s $60-million Future of Surgery campaign.
Gillespie partnered on several projects (including Georgia Street’s 62-floor Shangri-La) with Peterson Group executive chair/CEO Ben Yeung, who is a former VGH & UBC Foundation board member. Peterson will be the fourth-time presenting sponsor March 7 when Yeung’s differently named daughter, Jane Young, co-chairs B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation’s 25th-annual For Children We Care gala. That Chinese-community event likely has a $5-million target, too. Supporters of both galas doubtless endorse Willie Li’s assertion to Sun reporter Nick Eagland: “That is the basic culture in Canada — give back.”
DOLCE E GIALLI: Founding co-curators Tom Charity and Giulio Recchioni kicked off the seventh annual Italian Film Fest in the Vancity Theatre recently. The Italian Cultural Centre, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Consulate General of Italy co-presented the weeklong program. Five-month Consul General Fabio Messineo attended the opening event. He returned later to introduce and discuss director Marco Bellocchio’s Il Traditore (The Traitor) that was shot in his home island, Sicily. Audiences appreciate the festival’s mix of new and old films, said Charity. The old included two screenings of La Dolce Vita by the late Federico Fellini who would be 100 on Jan. 20. Recchioni welcomed the festival’s new three-film component, Gialli (Yellow), “that is the Italian version of Noir with more sex,” he said. First-nighters thanked Museum of Vancouver CEO Mauro Vescera, who founded the festival when he was the cultural centre’s executive director.
PRO’S CONN: As usual, feted city jazzer Cory Weeds entertained Italian Film Festival first-night guests, backed by keyboardist Sharon Minemoto. Weeds’ much-vaunted Conn10M tenor sax looked and sounded as fresh as when new almost 80 years ago. Called the Naked Lady because of an engraving on its bell, the Indiana-made sax would be ideal to accompany a festival screening of Roberto Roberti’s 1922 silent film, La Donna Nuda.
BETTER BY ALF: Like Federico Fellini, Victoria-born Haida artist Bill Reid would have been 100 this month. The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art will stage year-long commemorative events. Master carver, goldsmith and writer-broadcaster Reid was also a dry humorist. At a retirement ceremony for Canada’s first Indigenous lawyer-judge, Alf Scow, Reid presented an artwork depicting his own wolf clan’s symbology. “I created this drawing at great expense and long labour,” he said. “I began it about 3:30 this afternoon.”
Scow topped that by smilingly telling his largely non-Indigenous well-wishers: “I’ve apologized to my brother Rupert for not keeping a promise to put all the white men in jail.”
CAN IT: Brewhall Beer Co. owner Daniel Frankel and brewmaster Kerry Dyson did just that after their Köl Story Bro Kölsch won the 2019 B.C. Beer Awards’ Pale German Beer category and Azedo Tropical Fruit Sour took the People’s Choice Award. Those beverages and others, including customer-favourite Neon Lights Pale Ale, went into tins for the first time recently at the 1918-built Second-off-Quebec facility. That once-derelict building was dismantled, renovated and reopened in 2014 as Steel Toad Brewing. Frankel acquired it in 2017. With an outlet of his Tap and Barrel chain two blocks away, he needed another name — ergo Brewhall — for the pub-restaurant and what he calls “an experimental, not a production brewery.” Born like Kiss bassist-singer Gene Simmons in Haifa, Israel, guitarist Frankel also played in a heavy-metal band, The Sabras. Maybe he’ll have Dyson concoct a version of Israel’s popular Dancing Camel beer that, once you’re filled, may need no top-up for 10 days.
DEJA WOE: Beset by today’s ICBC problems, Attorney General David Eby might endorse education-science-technology minister Pat McGeer’s 1976-new-year cheeriness. Money-losing ICBC’s under-$300 basic rate would rise by 300 per cent, McGeer announced then. Those who couldn’t pay should simply sell their cars. Motorists countered with: “Stick it in your ear, McGeer.” They might have said, “you know where, Rafe Mair,” had that then-consumer services minister handled ICBC.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Although “security concerns” kept North Saanich part-timers Harry and Meghan from sampling nearby Deep Cove Chalet’s noisette of lamb a l’Indienne and Laurent Perrier Rosé Champagne, the democratizing duo might slip in for turkey wings, poutine and beer at almost-as-handy Chuck’s Burger Bar.
With 2019’s imminent demise, we’ll check off another box among the 6,000 or so that constitute recorded history. The year’s delights, disasters, encouragements and letdowns will be remembered and possibly surpassed. From our own community, this column recalls some who contributed to it or otherwise sustained the character of the place we call home and that, troubled aspects notwithstanding, few would wish to forget.
Thoroughly vice-regal in red, B.C. Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin attended a B.C. Women’s Hospital Foundation benefit accompanied by ceremonial aide de camp and former Vancouver police inspector Bob Usui.
Malcolm Parry /
B.C.-native tenor Ben Heppner hosted the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s 100th anniversary concert at which an Orpheum theatre audience got the measure of Netherlands-born, nine-month music director Otto Tausk.
Malcolm Parry /
Actor-director Jason Priestley appraised a Jane Austen-style dress named Lovey when South Granville retailer and friend Julia Molnar launched a first-in-Canada satellite of the Paris-based La Maison Bonpoint store.
Malcolm Parry /
In the Macaulay Fine Art gallery, Cowichan/Syilx artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun exhibited a $45,000 sculpture titled Opioid Ovoid Humanoid that seemed to move every time viewers briefly looked away.
Malcolm Parry /
Actress Pamela Anderson struck a characteristic pose in the Vancouver Club where an art auction, including this $30,000 work by global photographer Raphael Mazzucco, benefited her self-named foundation.
Malcolm Parry /
At Manuel Bernaschek’s Stefano Ricci store, the designer’s son, Niccolo, showed a gold-buckled crocodile belt with 13.8 carats of diamonds that would hold a dapper chap’s pants up and maybe get him held up, too.
Malcolm Parry /
Returning to her Emily Carr University job after experiencing a tsunami in her native Indonesia, Diyan Achjadi wrapped an articulated city bus with artwork representing Dutch settlers’ fantasy views of that nation.
Malcolm Parry /
While the For Children We Care gala raised $4.1 million for B.C. Children’s Hospital, third-time presenter Ben Yeung checked out a $500,000 Roll-Royce Cullinan that Open Road dealer Christian Chia brought along.
Malcolm Parry /
Helping fund her Obakki Foundation’s sustainable projects in South Sudan, Cameroon and Uganda, Treana Peake welcomed former child soldier Emmanuel Jal to the White Envelope benefit at her Gleneagles home.
Malcolm Parry /
Toting an ultra-thick milkshake, chef Dawn Doucette opened North Vancouver’s 1950s-style Douce Diner in premises that husband Nino Giangrande built around Doucette’s sister Timi Fuller’s mosaic floor.
Malcolm Parry /
Sharing haircuts at a Canada Walk of Fame ceremony, mega-entrepreneur Jimmy Pattison may have appraised B.C. Premier John Horgan as a future employee as he did his NDP predecessor, Glen Clark.
Malcolm Parry /
With a poster of the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows aerobatic team behind them, U.K. High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque and Consul General Nicole Davison had just seen the real aircraft speed past them.
Malcolm Parry /
Polygon Homes chair Michael Audain accompanied wife Yoshi Karasawa at a Whistler gala that raised $450,000 for education, events and exhibitions at the $43-million Audain Museum he’d built and endowed nearby.
Malcolm Parry /
Cited for addiction recovery at the annual Courage To Come Back ceremony, Blackfoot Geri Bemister was accompanied by Ravenswood Consulting partner, spouse and Coast Salish member Celina Williams.
Malcolm Parry /
Having fought with other Canadian troops in the June 6, 1944, Normandy landings and the liberation of Holland, Master Warrant Officer George Chow was congratulated by China’s consul general, Tong Xiaoling.
Malcolm Parry /
Everything came up roses for Isabella McKinnon at the 11th annual Night of Miracles gala where she greeted South Asian community members who raised $742,495 for B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Malcolm Parry /
Lotte and John Davis fronted their fifth One Girl Can event to fund education for East African women and projects such as the rebuilding of Nairobi’s Ushirika School that collapsed, killing 11 of its 615 students.
ANOTHER JOE: As well as serving his Hawksworth and Nightingale restaurants’ affluent diners, David Hawksworth squeezed in a catering gig at Britannia Secondary’s east Vancouver campus recently. There he delivered a Christmas turkey-and-trimmings meal to Streetfront Alternative Middle School teacher Trevor Stokes and the sometimes-hard-done-by students he says “are worth investing in.” The event was staged by Vancouver Firefighters Charities members who partner the non-mainstream school through the Sports for Kids program. As usual, Dotty Kanke and husband Bud were involved.
That same day, the Joe Fortes restaurant that Bud founded in 1984 and sold in 2012 announced that it will launch a Whistler satellite in January. Perhaps the original Thurlow-off-Robson joint’s 1948 Chrysler taxi will trundle up the Sea to Sky Highway to park outside the new one.
TIED TO BE FIT: Like apples, accomplished parents’ children reputedly land close to the tree. The moviebiz equivalent is not being left on the cutting-room floor. That’s the case with Amanda Giannakos, whose mother, Gabriela Schonbach, is partner-executive producer at city-based Omnifilm Entertainment. At that firm’s recent 40th anniversary celebration, marketing-distribution director Giannakos said she founded the independent but related NM Media Co. in April. Its first 25-episode series, Strong By NM, will air next fall on the One Get Fit channel. It presently carries Omnifilm’s Namaste Yoga series that former lawyer Giannakos heads. Early-morning one-minute handstands may have concentrated (or frazzled) her brain to launch the 160-paper-page Movement by NM magazine that “explores the intersection of art, fitness and everyday life.”
DAMN RIGHT: Odlum Brown portfolio manager Martin McNish and others gave charity giving a new twist in 2016 by sparkplugging the Give A Damn program. At quarterly events, twenties-to-forties-aged members each put up $100 and vote on pitches by three charities’ representatives. In the Yaletown’s Earls loft recently, Fresh Roots (freshroots.ca) executive director Marc Schutzbank, 32, received a $13,000 pot swelled by attendees and McNish’s friend Martin Jones, the San Jose Sharks goaltender. Schutzbank, whose wife Ilana Labow co-founded Fresh Roots in 2009, said elementary and secondary students grow food at educational farms on several schools’ grounds, learn to cook it and see it go to cafeterias, food-access programs and suchlike. “When kids are outside and growing something, they also find success in the classroom, and their confidence increases,” said U.S.-native Schutzbank who came to UBC in 2010 on a Fulbright scholarship. “If they grow it, they will eat it,” he said of Fresh Roots’ students. Canada, he added, “is the only G7 nation without a federal school-meals program.” He and Labow have a first and presumably healthy-eating child due Jan. 11.
A TOAST: To furniture maker Kate Duncan, who launched her ever-growing annual Address show of talented young designer-artisans in 2015. Having gained a solid reputation, she’ll present 12 of them during Toronto’s DesignTO festival Jan. 14-19.
ABOUT TIME: Another fourth-decade landmark restaurant, Bridges, is due for a $15-million renovation. So said George Frankel, who built the Granville Island waterfront facility and, with son Daniel, bought out his surviving partners in 2018. A building permit arrived this week. Beginning in fall 2020, work will involve wraparound terraces on both floors. Daniel, who runs the family firm today, also owns all three Tap & Barrel pub-restaurants and Brewhall, the former Steel Toad Brewery. At the Omega boutique’s recent annual reception, Frankel pere greeted Matteo Escoto, 9, who appeared in past columns modelling the Swiss firm’s wristwatches. Frankel wore a competing Rolex Oyster that was a gift from Daniel but vowed to reciprocate with a like-value Omega.
DAY’S AHEAD: Victoria-born former logger David Day has written and helped provide paper for more books than many have read: 50 and counting. His Tolkien Bestiary sold a million copies. His Doomsday Book of Animals, with a foreword by the Duke of Edinburgh, sold 750,000. Pal Terry Jones, the Monty Python Flying Circus team member, wrote the introduction for his Decoding Wonderland. Three more in Day’s Tolkien series were released recently in North America, the UK and France. With wife Roisin, the long-time expatriate will soon occupy a former Day-family home in Victoria.
HI-YO SILVER: Further up-Island, Qualicum Beach’s Ceramics Artworks firm owner Chris Dahl has released the Silver Dagger title track of a self-produced world-fusion album titled Smoke + Shadows. Artist Dahl drummed with the My Indole Ring band that had its self-titled 1969 album re-issued 41 years later by a producer in then-psychedelia-crazy Germany.
AFTER TATS: Vince Hemingson pinpointed communities in Borneo, California, China, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Russia, Samoa, and other locales for a documentary titled The Vanishing Tattoo (vanishingtattoo.com). No cutaneous embroidery appears on the female subjects of his Nude In The Landscape photographs exhibited at 1725 West Third to Dec. 31, along with others of Asian locales and African wildlife.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: All bluster aside, modern-day “witch hunts” may actually identify witchcraft.
Dazzle-dressed Zynth & Co. dancers backed stand-up comedian Jon Gagnon in the Rocky Mountaineer station where he MC’d the hospitality industry’s 15th annual Golden Owl awards festivities. Malcolm Parry / PNG
CRYSTAL CLEARING: Jennifer Johnston chaired the Crystal Ball for the third time recently, benefiting the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. The 33rd annual event reportedly raised $3.8 million. Foundation president-CEO Teri Nicholas and board chair Lisa Hudson said that sum will help fund the hospital’s Next Generation Technologies program to study youngsters’ entire genetic makeup. Data thus derived should eliminate many painful, invasive tests while providing speedier diagnoses for hitherto hard-to-identify ailments.
A former Crystal Ball chair, Steph Nicolls, said the role entailed “three times the work I expected, but the result was 10 times what I expected.” Current chair Johnston would doubtless agree. So would Crystal Ball founder and honorary lifetime chair Isabelle Diamond, whose late husband Charles barely survived polio at age 15. That was in 1949, two years after Crippled Children’s Hospital was renamed B.C. Children’s Hospital, and 33 years before today’s 28th-at-Oak complex opened. Following Ms. Diamond’s impetus, the Crystal Ball has reportedly raised $38 million.
END OF SEASON: After three decades at the Four Seasons Hotel, which will soon vacate its Pacific Centre premises, the Crystal Ball will need a new locale for 2020.
WE FOUR: School students filled Rogers Arena recently for Craig and Marc Kielburger’s annual WE Day rally. The brothers also attended a 10th annual pre-event dinner in Lorne and Melita Segal’s home. Craig was 13 in 1995 when he founded the Free The Children campaign that became WE Day 12 years later. He is 37 now. Marc is 42. Many youngsters today have the Extinction Rebellion movement and fellow teen Greta Thunberg literally sailing the Atlantic to inspire them. The two-decade Kielburgers-Segal relationship include working on projects in Kenya.
Guests at the recent Segal dinner included pro basketball’s famed “sky hook” practitioner Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who retired in 1989 — before current WE Day celebrants were born. NBA stars Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal attended earlier dinners, along with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Virgin maestro Sir Richard Branson and assorted senior politicians. This year’s sole example, Kim Campbell, was Canada’s 133-day prime minister in 1993, two years before Craig Kielburger got the WE Day ball rolling.
DRESSING UPWARD: Some fashion designers and manufacturers have successfully tapped the mainstream market with garments featuring coastal First Nations motifs. Former international model Joleen Mitton took a broader and more politicized view when she founded Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week in 2017. Running again recently, it featured some 20 Indigenous designers in three differently themed events that featured glamorous garments, future streetwear, leather, etc. East Vancouver-raised Mitton, who is part Plains Cree, said that runway models and production crew were trained by the Pacific Association of First Nations Women’s Mentor Me program “that empowers Indigenous youth to see themselves represented in a truly beautiful and vibrant way.”
WHAT A HOOT: Vancouver’s hospitality industry rated its own recently when the 15th annual Golden Owl awards event (goldenowlawards.com) filled the Rocky Mountaineer station. Twenty-two category winners included The Parlour for atmosphere and Chambar for service. The Alibi Room was best pub, the Keefer best late-night lounge, and the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby best hotel lounge. Fortune Sound Club won for nightclub, Downlow Chicken Shack for food, and the Shameful Tiki Room for cocktails. Top Table was named restaurant group of the year, and Yuk Yuks won for comedy experience. Standup comedian Jon Gagnon deserved a trophy himself for handling MC chores with the precision and grace of girlfriend and Ballet B.C. dancer Emily Chessa.
HELLO SAILOR: He’s in hot water today, but Prince Andrew’s 2003 Vancouver visit was purely the blue-and-salty kind. And, like Yaletown’s Blue Water restaurant, dining was involved. As commodore of the 1775-founded Royal Thames Yacht Club (brother Charles is a patron), the sailor prince presented its burgee — royal crown on a white-on-blue Cumberland cross — to Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s then commodore, John Dew. That done, he cut a blue ribbon to launch the Point Grey club’s Star & Dragon family dining room, then vamoosed without tucking into fish and chips, still a relative bargain at $14.
KITCHEN HELP: Restaurant kitchen workers know that heat, pressure, hours and even remuneration can challenge their mental health. In response, 15 city chefs and four bartenders contributed to an inaugural fundraiser titled Kitchen Aide. Held in Richards Street’s Café Medina, it reportedly raised $15,000 for the Mind The Bar Foundation that serves those “dealing with thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety, and workplace harassment.” Admitting to being helped “when I was in a dark place,” Published restaurant’s Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson hoped Kitchen Aide will “support cooks who wouldn’t otherwise have the means.” Meanwhile, his cured scallop, kohlrabi kraut and XO sauce should comfort anybody.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Remember Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, also Ancient Greek historian-warrior Thucydides’ warning that humankind’s gravest failings include “want of sense, of courage, or of vigilance.”
Q: You are described as a feminist geographer. What does that title mean to you?
A: It means that no matter what kind of space I’m looking at, I’m always concerned with power. This includes considering how any space functions to uphold (and in rare cases, challenge) the norms, values, and beliefs of the society that created and maintains it. As a feminist I pay particular attention to how gendered norms are “built into” spaces such as cities, but I also think about inclusion and exclusion more broadly across a wide range of identities and differences like ability, race, class, and sexuality.
Q: How do cities continue to marginalize women and make their daily lives more difficult?
A: Women remain under-represented in the professions and positions that shape cities: municipal politics, policy-making, business development, real estate development, architecture, and urban planning. A lack of consideration for women’s needs and ignorance of their daily experiences means that women struggle with everything from getting a stroller onto the bus to balancing their safety needs with their needs for affordable housing and good jobs.
How many women turn down or ignore employment opportunities that would require them to work or travel at night or in unsafe areas? How much money do women spend taking cabs or public transit rather than walking or biking? How many women see their careers stalled because they can’t effectively juggle parenthood and work in cities with too few/too expensive daycare spots, unreliable and inaccessible mass transit, and a lack of affordable housing near places of good employment?
Q: How can we begin to change our cities into more gender equal places?
A: One top-down approach is gender-mainstreaming: making sure all policy and spending decisions are oriented toward gender equity. Cities like Vienna have seen enormous progress with this method.
Issues such as safety and freedom from fear must be prioritized; public space and services must be safe and accessible; there should be communal or collective options for responsibilities such as child care, cooking, and care of the elderly and sick.
In a more radical way, though, we have to challenge the structures that make women responsible for most of this labour. A more gender equal city would offer affordable housing that doesn’t assume or prioritize a traditional nuclear family, for example.
Q: What are the foremost signs of a city’s livability?
A: Most people would agree that factors like walkability, green space, and safe public spaces are hallmarks of livability. I don’t disagree, but I think we have to ask harder questions about who has the means and the perceived right to enjoy these factors; who is excluded by surveillance and over-policing; and who decides what the appropriate activities and behaviours are in such spaces.
Q: What do you hope the individual and groups (government, planning departments, developers) in charge of cities take away from your book?
A: That moves made toward gender equity in cities are about more than making women’s lives “easier.” They are about fundamental issues of economic and social equality. At the same time, the changes I talk about are also connected to wider issues such as accessibility and environmental sustainability, and have the potential to benefit everyone in cities, not just women.
Q: How does gentrification fit into this story, this issue?
A: Women continue to experience a wage gap, are more likely to be single heads of household, have higher rates of core housing need (such as living in unsuitable or unaffordable housing), and are more reliant on the close urban connections between school, work, and home. As gentrification pushes housing costs up, women are further disadvantaged in the market. As women are displaced out of central areas, they are stretched thin trying to juggle their already complicated routines around work, home, and family.
Q: What kind of affect has #MeToo had, or will have, on making cities more livable?
A: #MeToo is exposing the widespread nature of all forms of sexual harassment and assault, including those in the urban public sphere, and illustrating that these are not momentary experiences: they have profound effects on women’s ability to participate in public life.
#MeToo is also helping to illuminate rape myths, including those that suggest that women are responsible for avoiding certain places and staying out of the public realm at night. The more we can continue having this conversation, the further we can move toward creating a public realm where women are equal and unafraid.
Q: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has long been a place of marginalized people and great unease. What do you see as vehicles for change and what can citizens do to help support that change?
A: I think anti-gentrification movements and the push to maintain affordable housing and a locus of social services in the DTES are key to creating a supportive yet livable neighbourhood. When people are well-housed, have access to harm-reduction sites and services, feel connected to community, and have their basic needs met, the things that make people uneasy start to fade away. Citizens can support the work of the DTES Women’s Centre, safe injection sites, and affordable housing campaigns.
Q: Let’s talk about public toilets. Why are they so terrible?
A: Not only are they terrible, but true public toilets are almost non-existent today. As part of many cities’ rush to revitalization, toilets have become focal points for fears about things like drug use, public sex, sex work, and homelessness.
Getting rid of public toilets or severely curtailing access is not only a harsh punishment for homelessness. It also makes life much more difficult for people with illnesses and disabilities that lead to frequent toilet use, for parents and caregivers, and for those who don’t have the means to purchase items in stores and cafes that have washrooms for customers only.
Q: When did headphones become armour for women?
A: Probably when the first Walkman appeared! Headphones are a subtle, non-aggressive way to signal the desire to be left alone. They can permit women to ignore men’s comments and questions without seeming rude or angry. Given that women are often faced with verbal and physical assault when they “hollaback” or even just ignore men, headphones offer a line of first defence against unwanted intrusions.
Q: How do we women learn to reframe how we think about our choices and instincts? How do we go from: “that was a stupid thing to do. I’m so lucky I wasn’t murdered,” to: “That was smart. That was brave?”
A: The “I’m so lucky” response is the only logical one in a world where violence against women is normalized, and even expected. I don’t blame anyone for having that reaction. Moving toward the “I made smart choices” response requires a greater respect for women’s agency and intelligence.Ideally, however, we have to move toward a world where violence against women, against anyone, is so rare that neither response is needed.