Sunday, January 23, 2011

PuSh Festival's La Marea

I accidentally stumbled upon the surreal film set-like performance, La Marea, on Water Street Thursday night. As explained by the Georgia Straight:
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival presents nine stories imagined through pictures of the inhabitants of Water Street. The show is called La Marea, and along the street, in the trendy heritage storefronts and upstairs windows, a series of vignettes plays out, with live actors and surtitle screens that reveal their stories and innermost thoughts.

More information at
Needless to say, it made Gastown even more photogenic than it already is...











Sunday, January 16, 2011

Brian Eno in Vancouver

March 1993 - the month I discovered my taste in music. I listened to U2's Achtung Baby and my life changed forever. Cliches aside, Achtung Baby made me into the music geek I am today. But despite all my music geekdom, I never considered myself a fan of Brian Eno, mostly due to ignorance. I mean, I knew his more accessible projects - Roxy Music, U2, Passengers, collaborations with David Byrne, etc. - but never felt the urge to, say, discover Music for Airports. Ambient music, despite my love for more obscure ambient shoegaze crap (Ulrich Schnauss, anyone?), just never appealed to me. 

My loss, I suppose.

Despite all this, I jumped at the chance to see Brian Eno do a lecture at Vancouver's Vogue Theatre. He was in town by coincidence. The Vancouver Art Gallery managed to snag him for their Culture Series before his 4am flight to Brazil. He was in Calgary the night before because his art installation, 77 Million Paintings, is at the Glenbow Museum. ("That doesn't seem to be somewhere one would associate with Eno", an acquaintance of mine suggested.) In any case, if one's flying to Brazil, I suppose Vancouver's where you get your connecting flight. How fortunate for Vancouver!

So I sat through 2 hours of Brian Eno speaking that night and it was not unlike my art history lectures at UBC. It was all very geeky and academic and scientific and right up my alley. But rather than review the lecture here, I figured I'll link to the site I wrote it for:

Sun goes down on 2010

The last few minutes of sunlight over Vancouver on December 31, 2010

Just going through my photos from 2010 and realized that I never really wrote the travelogues I anticipated I'd be writing. I started to write about my Kootenay journey back in August while I was in Creston, but I realize I have photo galleries of Rossland, Kaslo, Fernie, Prince George, Prince Rupert, and Haida Gwaii - some of which are now up on my Flickr account, but never did I write about my journeys. Nevertheless, we're still early enough in 2011 that I can safely post a few reflective entries in the near future without it seeming out of place.

In other words, be forewarned - travelogues ahead!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Corner Suite Bistro closed? Yup. And Sweeney's and Fiasco.

Vancouver foodies were shocked to learn on Twitter yesterday that Corner Suite Bistro, a popular and hip French bistro in the West End, had closed its doors permanently without warning. This is just after many local journalists were touting it as one of Vancouver's best restaurants of 2010.

Rumours were spreading on Twitter that they had a failed negotiation with their landlord. Others speculated that it was simply due to them having the wrong location or inconsistent staff. It was even suggested that BC's tougher alcohol penalties have threatened the restaurant industry as a whole.

While people were speculating the closure, others were commiserating their Groupon and gift certificate losses. Groupon was active on Twitter today saying that once the closure has been confirmed,  they'll get in touch with people about reimbursement. I'm just glad I used mine when I did back in October but I feel bad for those who have to deal with this aftermath.

On a similar note, I was saddened to learn that Sweeney's of Yaletown - a gourmet, slow-food cafe where I ate many a delicious lunch this past summer - has closed its doors. Apparently they just weren't getting the dinner crowds, despite their popularity at lunch. Imagine a restaurant where the food is organic, most items are under $12, you can buy wine by the glass, and there's a new fresh feature every day - the pulled-beef tacos with mango and chipotle were to die for! The only catch is that you order at the counter, but they'll bring your food to the table. That's not really a catch for the Yaletown lunch crowd - most of us don't live in Yaletown, but we work here. The Yaletown dinner crowd? That's a different story. People come to Yaletown looking to be spoiled, to be wined and dined in luxury, and unfortunately, it seems that Yaletown wasn't the appropriate niche for Sweeney's. It's a shame, but at least they're spending the next few months finding a more appropriate location. May I make a suggestion to them? South Cambie needs you. So does Commercial Drive. So does Riley Park.

Unsurprisingly, Fiasco shut its doors the other week. "Fiasco? What's Fiasco?" Exactly. Formerly Amacord, they reopened as what I'm guessing was supposed to be a typical Yaletown loft space, but it was stark, dark, and lacked an inviting atmosphere. The tables, for example, were naked. The lights? The lights were lacking - the place looked closed from the outside. The bored-looking waitstaff didn't help. It simply felt unfinished from the get-go. Always empty at lunch, we decided to check out their $10 lunch specials regardless. The food was always tasty (steak sandwich with goat cheese and roma tomatos for $10?), but being served a lipstick stained water glass when we were the only patrons in the restaurant was, in retrospect, a bad omen. Upon the next visit, they told us they were changing chefs and menus - a new chef from NYC would be arriving soon. When we came back a few weeks later, gone were the $10 specials and the lunch menu consisted of overpriced pasta dishes. Two weeks later? They were closed. In this case it wasn't the closure that surprised me, but at the haste of which it was done. Wow.

We're 5 days into 2011. I wonder what other restaurant surprises lurk on the horizon?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Here's to 2010: the year I discovered the 90's

I was having a conversation with VanMusic's Oswaldo Perez Cabrera the other day about my favourite local bands of 2010. I was having a hard time coming up with results because more often than not, I'm often spending the year discovering older music, or music by bands outside of Vancouver. I mean, there were some gems, like Hannah Georgas and the pack a.d., but I honestly couldn't provide a credible list.

Looking back, 2010 was the year I discovered "new" music that I somehow bypassed in the nineties. Despite how music-obsessive I was in my teens; how many David Hawkes Modern Rock Circuses, Vans Warped Tours, and (cringe now) EdgeFest's I went to; despite how plugged into the radio I was or how many Nirvana albums I owned, I completely bypassed a whole genre of music when it was at its height.

I mean, how did I miss Guided by Voices and Superchunk? And while Pavement, Sebadoh, and Liz Phair were on my teenage radar, I was so deep in a U2 phase that anything I deemed less-than-serious wasn't worth exploring further by yours truly. At least, that was my music snob mentality back in the mid-90's. As one person said to me, "Somehow you got into industrial when you should have been listening to Husker Du and the Replacements, but oh well."

So here's to 2010 - the year I finally gave the nineties a chance.

The whole reason I mention this is that it's really interesting to see what I was actually listening to in 2010, thanks to my Last.FM account. I have no shame about my music geekdom, but part of the findings below should be able to be explained by the above.

My top 50 most-listened-to bands of 2010:

1.     Guided by Voices
2.     Deerhunter
3.     The Besnard Lakes
4.     Hannah Georgas
5.     Florence + the Machine
6.     Bear in Heaven
7.     Elvis Costello
8.     U2           
9.     White Rabbits
10. Bat for Lashes
11. French Kicks
12. Sound Team
13. Spirits
14. Anna Ternheim
15. Caribou
16. Elvis Costello & The Attractions
17. The Depreciation Guild
18. The Ruby Suns
20. Beach House
21. Pinback                       
22. Matthew Dear           
23. Massive Attack
24. National Skyline                       
25. TV on the Radio
26. High Places
27. Band of Skulls
28. Girls
29. Shearwater
30. Department of Eagles           
31. Pavement
32. Animal Collective
33. The Mountain Goats
34. Wye Oak
35. My Bloody Valentine
36. Yo La Tengo
37. Menomena
38. Boston Spaceships
39. The National
40. Local Natives
41. Pixies
42. Superchunk
43. A.C. Newman
44. Jenn Grant
45. Volcano Choir
46. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
47. The Reivers
48. Red Riders
49. Midnight Juggernauts
50. Young Galaxy

My top 50 most-listened-to songs of 2010:

1.     Elvis Costello – Beyond Belief                       
2.     Guided by Voices – Surgical Focus                       
3.     Deerhunter – Never Stops                       
4.     White Rabbits – Percussion Gun                       
5.     Florence + the Machine – Dog Days Are Over                       
6.     The Besnard Lakes – Glass Printer                       
7.     Deerhunter – VHS Dream                       
8.     White Rabbits – The Plot           
9.     French Kicks – Over The World           
10. Bear in Heaven – Lovesick Teenagers
11. UNKLE – Natural Selection (feat. The Black Angels)                       
12. The Besnard Lakes – Chicago Train
13. Deerhunter – Fluorescent Grey                       
14. Florence + the Machine – Cosmic Love                       
15. National Skyline – A Night at the Drug Store                       
16. Anna Ternheim – China Girl                       
17. Midnight Juggernauts – Shadows                       
18. The Depreciation Guild – Dream About Me                       
19. French Kicks – New Man                       
20. Spirits – Forbidden Flame                         
21. Caribou – Odessa                         
22. Sound Team – Your Eyes Are Liars                       
23. The Besnard Lakes – Albatross                         
24. My Bloody Valentine – Sometimes                       
25. The Reivers – Keep Me Guessing                       
26. Units – High Pressure Days                       
27. Anna Ternheim – Bridges                       
28. Bear in Heaven – Wholehearted Mess                         
29. Guided by Voices – Everybody Thinks I'm a Raincloud (When I'm Not Looking           
30. Deerhunter – Little Kids                       
31. Bear in Heaven – You do you                       
32. Florence + the Machine – Hurricane Drunk                         
33. Hannah Georgas – Chit Chat                       
34. Guided by Voices – I Am a Scientist                       
35. Guided by Voices – Tractor Rape Chain                       
36. Volcano Choir – Island, IS                       
37. The Besnard Lakes – And This Is What We Call Progress                         
38. The Ruby Suns – Closet Astrologer                       
39. Califone – Funeral Singers                         
40. Pinback – Loro                       
41. Guided by Voices – Hot Freaks                       
42. Autolux – Here Comes Everybody           
43. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – The Loved Ones                       
44. Hannah Georgas – All I Need
45. Balam Acab – See Birds                       
46. Department of Eagles – Sailing by Night           
47. Caribou – Melody Day           
48. Matthew Dear – Good to Be Alive           
49. Girls – Lust For Life                         
50. Cold Cave – Love Comes Close

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

A scene from the Polar Bear Swim this morning at English Bay. I wasn't there, but Venture Vancouver was, and the photo above is thanks to them.

Myself? I started it with a brunch at BierCraft (formerly Stella's) on Commercial Drive and coffee from Prado. Sure, not as adventurous as an ice bath on the beach, but on such a beautiful sunny day, it was the perfect start to my new year.

Bring on the 2011!