Archive for February, 2010

Olympics, day 6

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

drum band in the sky

band on the ground

I was waiting on Granville Island for a friend so that we could go see some shows. I went to visit the CODE exhibits at Emily Carr. I didn’t have a long time to explore there because I heard some loud drumming outside. It was a drum band hanging in the sky!

After that we saw Karkwa:


Porn Flakes with a whole lot of guest singers that I didn’t recognise because I’m not a francophone:

Porn Flakes

After Porn Flakes our group had grown substantially and we were all freezing so we went and saw Radio Radio at Performance Works. I thought I took pictures of them but apparently I didn’t.


After that point it became one of those nights where you’re with a bunch of people who can’t make up their minds as to whether they want sausage and beer at the German tent or poutine at the opposite end of the downtown core, so a lot of wandering ensues and you don’t end up with either.


Sunday, February 21st, 2010

LiveCity Yaletown

LiveCity Yaletown

Attempt number two of getting into LiveCity Yaletown was a success! I don’t remember what time we got there but it was really early, enough for us to catch the entire set of the band before Malajube. I don’t remember what they were called – something Acadian.

In between sets they showed speedskating footage and the medal ceremony for Alexandre Bilodeau.

Alexandre Bilodeau

We moved up and there were some nice guys who let us in, but already the crowd was getting really rowdy. People had come to see Matisyahu afterward. They weren’t the least bit interested in listening to Malajube, weren’t listening and seemed to be more interested in smoking up and pushing eachother around.

One guy accused me of punching him and proceeded to get in my face. He was twice my size and had been stepping on and elbowing me for some time. It wasn’t really worth arguing about so we moved back. The crowd didn’t improve when Malajube started to play. They’re an awesome band. It’s too bad that no one was listening, and that really detracted from the performance.

Malajube @ LiveCity Yaletown

I’m all for diversity and stuff, but I’m I don’t see why they pair bands that are so different for a free show. People know that they have to arrive several hours early to be able to get in, so why not pair up bands that are similar that the audience is likely to like?

Day 4, in and out of pavilions

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Russky Dom

I dragged Abby downtown to see Malajube play at LiveCity Yaletown, but before the concert started we decided to check out a couple of the pavilions that have sprung up around False Creek.

The first we tried was Russky Dom, AKA Sochi House. It’s supposed to be the home of the Russian team and a showcase of the 2014 venue for the winter Olympics. The bottom floor had some interesting things in it, like a giant model of the venues and terrain in Sochi and some clowns doing some comically bad magic tricks.

giant model of Sochi's Olympic venues

Krasnodar Region

Russian clowns

playing hockey on the interactive floor at Russky Dom

While walking around on the first floor I realized that one of the floors was interactive, so I played hockey with some kids for a while. That was probably the coolest part in the entire pavilion.

Upstairs had a bunch of corporate displays staffed by bored looking hot models and a couple of very sleek, modern looking lounges and bars open to VIPs only.

empty bar at Russky Dom

Overall, not that exciting. I think the most interesting part of the whole thing was the way they had completely transformed the interior of Science World.

Next was Maison du Quebec, which was less exciting. Inside there was a restaurant that they were turning people away from. There was a stage that you could only really access from the restaurant. Outside of that there was a little booth serving $10 microbrewed beer from Quebec. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I kind of expected… more? It’s a huge province with a lot of cool stuff in it.

Abby wasn’t keen on Saskatchewan House so we skipped it. Unfortunately, I’m now hearing that it’s the most interesting one to visit so I may have to go back.

4D Ontario

Ontario House claims to have a 4D movie. I’m intrigued but we didn’t have time to check it out because there was a huge line. There was no line for the other half of the house though so that’s where we went. Inside they were serving Ontario-themed food. We both ordered some beers and then watched the huge LCD screens on the walls.

The three on the end showed the current weather conditions in Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara Falls with live webcams. It was pretty exciting to watch the CN Tower just sit there, doing it’s thing. Not to be outdone, the buildings in Ottawa were also pretty motionless. Not even a goose flew by. It was kind of like watching the film Caché, minus the dead roosters. Pretty riveting stuff.

On the adjacent wall, there was another screen showing medical breakthroughs made in Ontario. I must say that watching animated angioplasties and seeing pieces of diseased body parts in kidney dishes really added to my beer-drinking experience.

Misteur Valaire

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Misteur Valaire

Holy sheisse I’m behind already!

After our time in the Downtown East Side, we sprung my roommate Mye out of work early and headed toward Granville Island to see Misteur Valaire.

Mye talks about this band a lot. They’re her friends from high school, and she was a little disappointed when her work schedule wouldn’t allow her to see them play.

Somehow she managed to get a couple hours off for the concert, so my job was to meet her at work and make sure she actually got there. I had an ulterior motive though. I wanted to actually get in. Getting locked out of Wilco the night before was still fresh in my mind.

But it turns out that the concerts at Place de la Francophonie don’t have super long line ups. Either way I got to meet the band and that was pretty cool even if the language barrier was kind of an issue. They play a really fun concert so I would highly recommend seeing them.

One complaint about Granville island though. I hate that in spite of all the events and festivities happening down there, the Market still closes at 7pm, thus cutting off all access to cheap fast food. People really need more options than a hotdog stand and a bunch of crowded sit-down bars where you have to wait upwards of an hour for your food.

Misteur Valaire

Olympics, day 3 in the Downtown East Side

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

booth at International Village

Frances Lawson Gallery

We had gone down to Chinatown expecting a lot of festivities but didn’t find much exciting so we decided to check out some art galleries instead.

We ended up in Frances Lawson Gallery, one of the so-called “phantom galleries” in the Downtown East Side. Four flights of creaky, worn wooden stairs led up to a really airy, open space with a kitchen, couches and art on the walls. It smelled faintly of cigarette smoke.

“What is that thing going on outside, some sort of exercise thing?” A guy lounged on an old, beaten up couch, resting his feet beside an ashtray on a coffin that was serving as a coffee table.

“He’s been telling that joke for a week now,” said the woman beside him.

“Yeah, but you still laugh at it.”

He soon disappeared and we had a chat with the woman who gave us a bit of a tour. She said they were recovering from the World Club concert that had taken place the night before. We talked about the weird state of the streets outside right now and the protests and the crapshoot that is trying to get your message out when the media is so concentrated.

Interurban Gallery

Interurban Gallery

East Hastings garden

East Hastings garden

Afterward we checked out some other galleries in the neighbourhood and one of the gardens on East Hastings. Then we took part in the annual march for the missing women of the Downtown East Side, which happened to be the biggest ever.

march for missing women

march for missing women

march for missing women

Olympics day 2

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

repairing windows at the Bay

watching speedskating at the Bay

I was late. I was supposed to meet up with some friends so that we could go to the Decentralized Dance Party. Instead I wandered around for a while, checked out the windows that got smashed out at the Bay. The repair guys were working on getting the last two windows reinstalled. Beside them people watched short-track speed skating on one of the TVs in the store window. The Canadian tripped somehow. Everyone groaned.

I’ve said this before but being downtown is very strange right now. Sometimes the crowds are thick and claustrophobia-inducing. Thousands of people slip past each other, my hair gets pulled and I get disoriented on streets I know like the back of my hand. But a block or two away the streets will be totally empty like a bomb’s been dropped on them.

street performers

dancing under a snow machine

I headed to Yaletown to see if I could find my friends. The streets there were a microcosm of the same weirdness I’ve been seeing all over the rest of the city. On one block some people gathered around a singer I didn’t recognise. A group of performers with flaming nunchucks drew a crowd. The next block was empty. On the next a magician pulled a canteloupe from his hat. Further down a small group of people in wearing Korean flags danced under a snow machine. Beyond that, a lone DJ played to an audience of none.

I turned a corner and then there they were!

Decentralized Dance Party!

The Decentralized Dance Party was in full swing. Crazy outfits, boom boxes, trampolines, tennis rackets, scooters, skis and toboggans.

Decentralized Dance Party!

Decentralized Dance Party!

Decentralized Dance Party!

After that I headed down to LiveCity Yaletown to see Wilco play. I left the party late and somehow I got turned around and I didn’t get there until about 20 minutes before the show was set to start instead of the hour I had planned. I doubt the 40 minutes would have made a difference though. I arrived finally at the gates and saw that the line stretched out to the edge of the block. No big deal. I walked out to what I thought was the end, turned the corner and saw that it stretched down to the end of that block. The line stretched out much further than that. It took me a while to find the end.

It seemed to move fairly quickly though. I’d moved halfway up the line before I found out that the reason it was moving was because volunteers were telling people that the gates were closed and they weren’t letting people in.

watching Wilco from the outside

A bit of a crowd gathered outside the fence to watch what we could. The sound was pretty good. This was my view:

my view of Wilco through the fence

During the show it began to pour. The rain soaked through my jacket and trickled off my head down my neck. By the end of the show I was mildly hypothermic and just about every muscle I had had seized up and ached. I stuck it out to the end though. The last time they played here was 2007. Who knows when they’ll be back.

Yaletown fireworks

Afterward there were fireworks. I didn’t get many good pictures because my memory card was full and because by that point I was shivering uncontrollably.

Notes for Feb 13

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

A couple notes before I head out today:

RE: protests

The media has been reporting on the protests yesterday and today. The Tyee ran an article about the one I was at, which was really peaceful. The organizers stressed non-violence there, stating that there were elders in the crowd who could get injured.

I really agree with a lot of the issues and concerns people have with the Olympics. These games were supposed to have an important social legacy and pump lots of money into the economy. Instead costs have soared, social promises have been reneged upon, and the government is planning to cancel surgeries, lay off staff and close schools to pay for this, and deal with dissent through a 15,000 member police force.

That being said, I’m totally against the use of violence and vandalism in these protests. Breaking windows doesn’t accomplish anything other than getting bad press in the media and alienating people who may have otherwise listened and been supportive.

Olympics Protest

In the middle of the protest yesterday a group of black-hoodied masked people moved up toward the police line. They had stolen some pylons and barricades from the street. I remember seeing them and thinking that if something went wrong, it would probably be these guys stirring up shit and that things could get out of hand really quickly.

Unfortunately that seems to have been the case today. Protests turned violent. Charges will be laid.

RE: Photography

I’ve been having a lot of fun so far photographing the games as I see them. Corinna Gusgreeper has been nice enough to mention them on flickr.

Also, one of my photos has been featured on The Tyee today! I started squealing and jumping up and down when I found out.

RE: knitting olympics

According to Steve I am honour-bound to blog about this. I am attempting to knit a pair of knee socks during the duration of the Vancouver Olympics. Given that I seem to suddenly have a lot of exciting things to chase down with my camera, I’m not sure if I will finish. He told me that he is planning to knit an entire sweater in Jamaican colours in honour of the lone Jamaican athlete at these games. So cheer us on, if you wish.

I will upload some photos of this later.

A shout out goes to the lovely Beentsy, who is organizing this madness.

Olympics, day 1

Friday, February 12th, 2010

the words don't fit the picture

I do believe that this is the first Olympic games since 1968 to have an organized protest movement against it. Clearly this is history in the making so I headed out with my camera. Besides, I’m sad to say that I haven’t been to a good protest since the rallies to save the CBC Radio Orchestra, so that’s far too long.

There were people there to protest the crazy cost overruns for the games, government cuts to social services and Canada’s shortage of affordable housing. “Homes not games,” was chanted fairly often. Others marched in support of aboriginal groups that aren’t being represented in the ‘Four Host Nations’ or benefiting from that arrangement. And, as always, the tar sands, seal hunt and water privatization were thrown into the mix too.

It was fun and peaceful. There was music and it had a lot of good energy to it. Everyone behaved well, police and demonstrators, and I’m hearing from some friends outside of Canada that some of the issues raised there were covered in the news, which is good.

In the middle of it all there were three people dressed up like zombies looking a little out of place. “Huh, I thought there would be zombies here,” one of them said. It was dark by that time. I snapped a really blurry picture and one of them noticed me. She asked to see the picture. I showed it to her and she decided to pose so that I could take a better one, which unfortunately sucked too much for me to bother uploading.

Olympics Protest

Olympics Protest

It was my roommate’s birthday so she had a bunch of people over. We sat around and watched the opening ceremonies at home. I thought the show itself was impressive and I was glad that it showcased some talent that’s not usually put in front of a mass audience like opera, spoken word and tap dance. You have no idea how much I want a pair of those flaming tap shoes.

We watched in awkward silence during the cauldron fail. We talked about the crazy and outrageously expensive lengths they’ve been going to get enough snow on the runs. I partially won the bet that Rick Hansen would carry the torch. After Gretzky’s kind of long and not very exciting drive through the city to light the cauldron someone said “and that right there is why we have the HST.” It kind of summed up the general sentiment in the room.

I have resolved to take in as much of the entertainment and events as I possibly can over the next two weeks. Still, I can’t help knowing that this whole thing is going to have one hell of a nasty hangover.

Olympics Protest

Olympics Protest

giant protest salmon

Olympics Protest

I have a lot more pictures in my 2010 Olympics Flickr set.

Life with someone else’s cat

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Holt Renfrew window display

I love how Holt Renfrew always manages to dress up their windows for whatever occasion’s on. The displays are always so ridiculously over-the-top-bordering-on-tacky that they’re pure awesome. They’re totally not the sort of aesthetic that I would associate with high-end fashion.

The cat has reached an important milestone in her life. She has been growing rapidly and is now heavy enough to open the bathroom door by herself. I really should start locking the door, but I have a bit of a locked bathroom door phobia.

When I was really little I was pissed off for some reason, threw a tantrum and then locked myself in the bathroom. It was an old house and the lock was kind of sticky. When I decided that I wanted to come out, I couldn’t get it unlocked and there was no way to open it from the outside. I don’t remember how long it took me to get it open but it felt like forever.

It was a very traumatizing experience that burned deep into my psyche and now the cat is making me revisit it with her squawky whinyness and inability to give people bathroom privacy.

A week ago I got tired of her howling outside the door while I was getting ready to shower so I locked her in with me. She perched herself on top of the shower curtain rod and stared at me the whole time.

She has also developed an appetite for peanut butter, thereby increasing the chances that she will be climbing up my leg at all times.

Holt Renfrew window display


Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

lantern forest on Granville

I’m really liking the lantern forest that’s sprouted up on Granville near Robson. I’ve been through it a few times now just because it’s cool. It’s amazing how something simple like that can completely change the atmosphere of a place. People stop and linger, couples kiss, kids play. It’s just a pity that it’s not much larger than it is. It would be so much more magical if there was a solid block of trees.

I was all set to take a bunch more photos downtown but unfortunately the battery in my camera decided to die. I really should have known. The battery’s been hovering around one bar for months. It’s just that somehow plugging my camera into my mac uses up a lot less energy than plugging it into my old computer so suddenly I can go months without charging it. I was lulled into a false sense of complacency. It’s a good thing I don’t drive.

It’s just as well though. Today seemed to be spontaneous conversation day at home. We had one of those rare-ish evenings where all five of us spent time together in the livingroom talking. During this time it was decided that we will collectively write the musical score for a porn flick, have lots of couchsurfers stay with us and find Mye a boyfriend, though this was decided after she’d gone to bed. Much careful discussion went into the creation of a list of characteristics that we think that such a person needs to have and now Wesley and I are on the lookout. Is it you?