Monday, March 29, 2010

Snapshots of Granville Street

Vogue Theatre

Thank you Bill Bennett...

I miss you McBarge...

Granville Street

It's just one of those Mondays...

...a KatKam time-lapse of a Vancouver monsoon. 15 minutes of torrential downpour, then sun! Then downpour. Then sun! Repeat. /end

p.s. Thanks KatKam! I love you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun artist talk at Emily Carr on March 24

I went to the Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun exhibit opening last night around 8pm and stuck around the Contemporary Art Gallery for half an hour sipping wine and viewing the art. Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun was there (with his signature 2 eagle feathers in his hat) in addition to many people involved in the Vancouver art scene, including my former UBC art history prof John O'Brian. Lots of beautiful people and obvious art students, but for the most part it was a nice low key event. The artwork featured was Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun's studies on paper - his preparations for his large scale paintings. I recognized many of them, including The Universe is so Big, White Man Keeps Me On My Reservation.

I also found out that Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun is doing a talk at Emily Carr University on Granville Island next Wednesday, March 24th at 4:30pm in room 410B. It's open to the public. He's such a passionate speaker who has no problem talking about the ugly harsh truths of colonialism over BC's aboriginal peoples - one of the many themes he explores in his art. Definitely worth going to if you want some insight on such topics. Once you hear him speak, his already-powerful artwork becomes all that much more. In fact, it was hearing him speak in Charlotte Townsend-Gault's First Nations art history class back in 2005 that I became an immediate fan and could never look at his artwork the same way again.

I couldn't really find any info about this talk online, but it is mentioned on the exhibit poster which you can download as a .pdf here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun art exhibit opening at the CAG

Red Man Watching White Man Trying to Fix Hole in Sky, 1990
Artist: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

Tonight is the opening for Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun's show "Neo-Native Drawings and Other Works" at the Contemporary Art Gallery on Richards and Nelson in downtown Vancouver. The opening goes from 6pm until 9pm. This is one of BC's most exciting contemporary artists, and if you're available to go, do so! And if you can't make it, his exhibit goes from March 19th until May 16th of 2010.

Yuxweluptun takes Aboriginal political issues and voices them passionately, angrily and frustratingly in surreal paintings using Coast Salish cosmology and iconography. I've been a fan since I was introduced to him back in a UBC art history class (he came and did a guest lecture), and I even wrote a research paper on some his works.

Learn more about him and his art from his website, here:

Taken from the Contemporary Art Gallery's website:

Guest-curated by Petra Watson
Opening Thursday March 18, 6 - 9 pm

Neo-Native Drawings and Other Works features three decades of drawings extending from 1980 to 2009. Yuxweluptun refers to his drawings as 'preliminary studies' serving as 'background work' and the 'measuring-stick' for developing the forms and ideas that have come to identify his style and reveal his pictorial inventiveness. These works on paper are often visual notes for his paintings. In addition, his most recent tree studies (2004 - 2009), as well as ovoid portraits (2002 - 2005), figurative works (1985 to 2009), etchings (1993 - 2009), watercolours (1980 - 1993), and a number of sketchbooks make up the first exhibition to focus on Yuxweluptun's works on paper.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In the name of St Patrick's Day, my favourite pubs in Vancouver

Today is of course St. Patrick's Day, and for the past 5 years or so Vancouver celebrated the event with a weekend parade. However, due to the Olympics and Paralympics, they decided to cancel it. Apparently everyone who organizes and coordinates the parade is too busy organizing and coordinating the Paralympics right now. Fair enough!

So what's going on in Vancouver tonight for St Patrick's Day? Well, the same ol' debauchery... people are heading to any fake Irish pub (and yes, they're ALL fake, except for the Irish Heather) and drinking loads of cheap green beer to commemorate. And they're going to get stupid drunk, you know it.

But you know, honestly? Despite my teenage obsession for everything U2 and all things Irish, despite the fact that the U2 plane (as in, the plane that the band U2 flies around in, not the spy plane) has been parked at YVR for seemingly weeks, or that Bono's in town (apparently) recording a collaborative version of K'naan's Waving Flag as a tribute for Haiti relief... or that, heck, even my eyes are green! Well... I've never celebrated St. Patrick's Day, ever. Not once. I don't think I've ever deliberately gone to the pub to drink beer in the name of St. Patrick's Day.

Today at work we were supposed to dress up in green. For a girl whose wardrobe has a significant green hue, I forgot to wear green. I wore grey. Is that telling? I don't know.

So what do I recommend doing on St. Patrick's Day in Vancouver?

Rule number one:

Avoid fake Irish pubs on Granville Street like Ceili's like the plague.


Run fast!

Instead, the only two Irish pubs I'd even consider venturing into would be The Irish Heather or the Shebeen Whiskey House, the two legitimately Irish venues in the city. They're as authentic as they come. Owned and operated by an Irish couple, but where else can you rock out to Pride (In the Name of Love) in front of a collection of retro Guinness knick knacks while drinking a McCallan's fine aged 12 year scotch while chowing down some curry chips and mushy peas while contemplating a Guinness braised pot pie, bangers and mash, or a Black Velvet? Where else do your waiters often speak to you in real Irish accents?

And if that doesn't work, I've always been a fan of The Morrissey. It's on Granville Street downtown, but it's not representative of typical Granville Street establishments, if you catch my drift. While not claiming to be Irish, they're certainly a legitimate pub for good beer, good food, and ultimately great music (an important element in any of my nights out). The atmosphere and layout is fantastic, especially since they've renovated with a much more stylish interior. They have a great import beer list. I am a fan.

If those won't do, the Alibi Room on the outskirts of Gastown would make a great retreat, if you don't mind wedging yourself on a picnic table bench. It has the best collection of local beer out of any pub, or so many people claim. It's for serious beer connoisseurs, of which I'm not, but I try. I try hard. Way back in the late 90's I used to come here for martinis and edimame with my fellow CDIS colleagues, back when edimame was exotic and learning Photoshop was cutting edge. Gillian Anderson partially owns it, and it was a popular hangout for film types way back in the 90's, when Gillian Anderson was actually relevant and Vancouver was the home of the X-Files. Holy, that seems like Vancouver of a different era now, doesn't it? But the Alibi Room is still very much relevant and hot on Vancouver's pub map.

If those three establishments won't do, find your way out to Stella's on Commercial for your Belgian beer fix. A nice cozy but lively environment with your favourite Belgian beer poured in their appropriate goblets. The food can be hit or miss, but it's often a hit, especially the duck confit and duck sausage with white bean. But if you're going to go, you have to eat. Belgian favourites like Gulden Draak and Piraat are so dangerous at 9+% alcohol, but so tasty and so delicious. And after three bottles of the stuff, you may start to forget where you are. But it's somehow okay because you're on Commercial Drive!

And finally, if all else fails, head back downtown to the Railway Club upstairs from the 7-11 on Dunsmuir and Seymour. This place has been around since forever. Literally, since the early 1930's - an impressive feat in No Fun City! They've got a great list of local brews, plus a serious import list which still surprises me every time. I mean, I don't have to go to Stella's for my fix of Gulden Draak? It gets me every time! Live bands, model trains, and 3 separate bars. Pretentiousness-be-gone, which is rare for Vancouver these days. Could life be any better? Well, yes... if they only reopened their patio.

King Crab Season

Alaskan king crab is the largest crab of these local waters and right now, for a few short weeks, it's in season. I have no idea how expensive it is typically, but if its current price at $8-10 a pound is considered  a bargain, I can only imagine what it would normally cost.

Eight of us got together last Friday for a king crab dinner at Sun Sui Wah Seafood restaurant out on Main Street. It was my first time there and one of those restaurants that always gets recommended to visitors seeking a good, authentic Chinese seafood experience in Vancouver. I had always been meaning to visit, so it was a great excuse to go.

View Larger Map

We arrived for our 7:30pm reservation but didn't get seated until after 8. As we stood at the entrance waiting, waiters would rush out of the kitchen carrying live king crabs the size of small children. They'd carry them over to the tables for the guests' approval. Did I mention the crabs were still alive? We gasped. The crabs were massive. The crabs were alive. And all of a sudden, we kind of felt sorry for them but at the same time, were quite excited for our dinner. But seeing all this food go back and worth made us get all that much hungrier.

When we eventually got our table, we ordered some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in addition to some Chinese rice wine apératif (that tasted like beef bouillon) and immediately ordered a 10 pound king crab. At $13 a pound, it was an ideal size for feeding 8 people. There were various ways of having it served, but we opted for part of it steamed in garlic and butter, and another part in a cream and butter sauce. We decided against having it deep fried, although there's always next time.

A short while later, our future king crab dinner arrived at our table, very much alive, with its feelers flickering around. We erupted in cheers. The waiter prompted us to take out our cameras. Foolishly, I forgot my camera at home, but the iPhones were snapping away. After the obligatory photo op, the crab got carried away to the kitchen. Poor thing. Poor tasty thing.

Back in our menus, we ordered other dishes - a spicy ginger rice noodle dish with prawns and chicken, steamed gai lan, beef in a deep-fried taro nest, fried rice, and scallops. But it was the crab that came first to the table. Drizzled in butter and covered in steamed garlic, the crab legs were broken down into 4 inch pieces and were lavishly eaten by us all. Everybody had 5-6 pieces each. Next came the secondary crab dish, where the joints of the legs had been cooked int a really glutonous cream sauce, perhaps the least memorable preparation, but still tasty nonetheless. The other dishes were tasty, but despite all the food, despite the succulent crab, we still craved something with substance. We craved more beef. So we asked our waiter if they could make a beef dish that was spicy, but dry, without sauce... something crispy, perhaps. He smiled and knew exactly what we were seeking.

Did I mention that we managed to drink 5 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc by this time? Our waiter reminded us with a nervous laugh. Totally normal for our crew... our international crew representing Vancouver, Montreal, Saskatchewan, Croatia, Jordan, and France.

Our waiter came back shortly after with a large plate of Szechuan-style "popcorn" beef covered in fresh green chilis. Everyone reached for a piece, popped it into their mouths, and started to ooh and ahh. Chinese families sitting around us leaned over and peered over our shoulders to see what the fuss was about. "What is that?" one guy asked us. "Oh, it's sooo good! It's a dry beef with chilis!" "Aaaaaah, it's Szechuan". Or white people Chinese food. ;) Either way, it hit the spot.

For dessert, since it was almost 10pm, they were almost closed, and most of everything was sold out, we were given complimentary jello cubes. Our friend ordered another dessert for everyone to share, and it turned out to be one of my favourite highlights of the meal. Imagine golf-ball sized soup dumplings filled with a sweetened roasted black sesame paste. Now imagine them served in a bowl of pungent but sweet ginger soup. And that was the Chinese dessert from the gods!

It was almost 11 by the time we left Sun Sui Wah, and our tummies were full. The crab was certainly an experience, but our excitement for our experimental beef dish was what really satisfied everyone's cravings. We of course headed back into downtown and somehow, mysteriously, ended up at Section 3 for a night of debauchery. But all I know is that the next time it's king crab season, I know where I'll be heading back!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's a rainy day for a Paralympic torch relay

The Paralympic torch relay arrived in Vancouver today. Today being the first day of 2010 that it snowed

In Vancouver. 

It actually snowed in Vancouver!

Yeah, I know.

Don't worry. 

It quickly melted.

But for the first time in 2 weeks, I heard hovering helicopters over downtown. You know? I kind of missed that sound. Alas, looking out the window, there wasn't the same kind of city-wide captive audience vibe as there was during the Olympics, but you could tell something was going on. Despite the rain, I decided to go for a walk and check out the Paralympic torch relay for myself.

It was 5:30pm and rush hour was well under way. It looked like any other ordinary March day in Vancouver. Rain. Overcast. Dull grey. Pedestrians walking home. Smeared dog poo on sidewalks. Buses with steamed-up windows. Stop and go gridlock on the street. You know, kind of uninspiring. Not too cold but not exactly pleasant, with exception to the splashes of the pink cherry blossoms just passing the peak of their bloom. Vancouver was socked in by a cloud.

I took Granville Street because it tends to be one of the more lively and interesting streets for a northbound pedestrian to walk down, versus, say Richards or Seymour, which can be downright dull. And noisy and car-exhausty during rush hour. But again, it was just like any ordinary rush hour, and if somebody said the Paralympics were happening, nobody'd believe you.

It wasn't until I arrived at Granville and Smithe when I caught sight of those orange pylons. Like an old friend, I welcomed their presence. My favourite block of Granville Street, between Smithe and Robson, was once again free to roam as a pedestrian, without any traffic allowed. But where were all the people? I was the only person walking down the center of the lane.

Granville Street appeared to be closed to traffic all the way to Georgia, but it was without the Cultural Olympiad art exhibits or any of the photo-snapping crowds. I rounded the corner at Granville and Robson and was surprised to find limited traffic being allowed to trickle through. They could only go as far as Howe, however, before being detoured back south.

But the endless crowds? That's what was missing. Perhaps it was the rain. 

There was a massive TV screen set up on Robson and Howe, but really not a whole lot of people were watching. I then noticed that everyone was crowded underneath Robson, under the roof of Robson Square. 


That explained things.

I had no intention of making my way through the crowds downstairs, and I knew the torch was on its way over, so I decided to go for a walk one block further down Robson to see if I could maybe catch up with it. 

Beyond Hornby Street I finally saw some tents and TV station trucks. And one guy dressed in his white 2010 Vancouver Olympics white jumpsuit was standing around with his once-used Olympic torch, but nobody was paying attention to him. Maybe he thought he'd hang around in case somebody wanted to take his picture? It wasn't clear.

And once crossing Burrard Street, I noticed a large group of people clustered around something.

But still, despite the road closures, Robson was empty.

I made my way closer to the cluster of people and realized I was about to witness somebody passing the torch.

... and it didn't even occur to me that it was Roberto Luongo until he passed a few feet in front of me a few seconds later!

As Luongo walked back down Robson toward Robson Square, crowds gathered around and snapped photos.

... and then he made his way downstairs and walked back and forth through the Robson Square crowds, to everyone's shrieking delight!

It was great to see such a good turnout at Robson Square. Seriously, I don't even think there was standing room, so people were hovering around at street level trying to look in. But as I stood there snapping blurry photo after blurry photo, the rain started to fall with a fury, it took me by surprise. As the crowds wedged in for a better look with umbrellas flailing seriously close to eyeballs, I decided it's probably best that I step back and seek refuge from the rain.

But at least I saw it with  my own eyes. There was clearly a lot of support for the Paralympics in Vancouver after all. It's just a shame about all that rain. But this is Vancouver, after all. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beautiful March 2nd sunset over downtown Vancouver... with rainbows!

2010-03-02 Sunset 005

2010-03-02 Sunset 049

2010-03-02 Sunset 022

2010-03-02 Sunset 057

2010-03-02 Sunset 059

A taste of Granville Island

Some of you may know that I'm taking a weekly intro photography class. Back during the Olympics, on February 21st to be exact, our class met up early Sunday morning at Granville Island for a composition photo shoot. We started the class outside together but then split up to explore Granville Island on our own.

I spent most of my time inside Granville Island Public Market. Here are a few highlights of that morning:

Seagulls at Granville Island








Granville Island Public Market

onions & potatoes



Raspberries and Blueberries


photographing the photographer


Granville Island Stiltwalker

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunset on snowy mountains

Oh, the irony. If a blanket of fresh white snow had fallen on Cypress Mountain *last* Monday instead of today, it would have been a hilarious send off to everyone leaving Vancouver post-Olympics. You can't see the fresh snow on the mountains in this photo, but here's KatKam's webcam screen capture of the sunset this Monday at 6pm... a few minutes ago:

p.s. I know I still have a lot to update on my blog. You will see massive updates in the next few days. I have not forgotten about you!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Drunkest Games Ever

Time Magazine has designated the Vancouver 2010 Olympics as the Drunkest Games Ever. The following article is quite hilarious, and in all honesty, one of the most accurate depictions of the atmosphere of the Olympics:,8599,1968544,00.html

I know what you're thinking:

"Robyn, it's Thursday. The Olympics ended last Sunday. You haven't updated your blog yet. In fact, the last post was from a week ago Wednesday. What gives?"

I know I have a LOT to update. I'm still suffering from Olympics withdrawl.

The good news is that it's the weekend soon, and come this weekend, you'll see a recap of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics through a local's perspective.

Until then!