REVIEW: Else­things Festival with Raleigh, PrOphecy Sun and We Are Phantoms Again

While East Vancouver celebrated the demise of a beloved venue with abandon, a smaller gathering in the West End launched an unexpected new haven for fun-having. Though it certainly wasn’t the first show hosted by Googly Eyes Collective, Elsethings Arts Festival—a collage of performance, film, art, and cozy hangouts—was charged with expectation, light, and new beginnings.

Women-only recovery experi­ment: did it work or not?

For Sherri Johnstone, resident at the Rainier Women’s Treatment Centre in the Downtown Eastside, the last two weeks have brought on some tearful goodbyes. As Health Canada funding for the four-year pilot project ceased Dec. 1, Johnstone and the Rainier’s 37 current residents are adjusting to immediate cuts in staff and programming.

“It’s been hard,” says Johnstone, who struggled with crack addiction and failed at traditional treatment programs before she was referred to the Rainier in 2011. “We started to open up to these women and now they’re not here… Now we have to do that again with somebody else — it makes me feel like I’m almost back at day one again.”

Occupy Wall Street’s new job: disaster relief

Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, many New Yorkers are struggling to understand why parts of the city are still in crisis. By the time the lights in my East Village apartment returned, the citywide death toll had crept north of 40, thousands were still displaced and hundreds of thousands remained without basic utilities like electricity, water and heat.

Amid this darkness and uncertainty, a once-familiar movement reignited. Long before the first subway tunnels were pumped dry, members of Occupy Wall Street sprang into action, assessing the needs of people who lost everything in the storm.

Schooled in the rodeo

In her first semester at the University of Saskatchewan, Katie Dutchak missed barrel racing with her horse Rootbeer Kazanova. A competitive cowgirl throughout high school, she missed the type of community the rodeo had offered her.

Not anymore. Last January, the first-year arts and science student teamed up with fellow student and racer Shelby Clemens and brought competitive rodeo back to U of S.

Vancity screening ‘On Corporate Graffiti’

On Thursday, August 30, the Vancouver Public Space Network is presenting an awesome collection of short films about public art, advertising, city hacking and other urban public space issues. Not to ruin the surprise or anything, but one of those short films is my documentary On Corporate Graffiti!

VIDEO: A takeaway jam

For many of the musicians I know, band practice is an intimate weekly ritual. One member taps out a rhythm overheard on the bus, while another articulates some severely internet-centric lyric. Sometimes it’s all lighbulbs and fireworks. Other times ideas are ridiculed and abandoned as quickly as they’re expressed.

The Adulthood graciously shared a jam session with me, and even let me point a camera at their faces. When I stopped by, they were jamming out a new song called ‘Til Death do us Part. This is the resulting video/jam/document/thing.

Here Come the Video­freex

It’s a trailer for a documentary that aims to restore tapes from a countercultural video collective called the Videofreex. This gang of young New York artists was originally hired by CBS in ’69 to capture important moments in the youth movement. CBS didn’t like their stuff (too radical!) so they went on to start North America’s first pirate TV station.

Rerooting the Motor City

The Motor City was the first industrial boom town in America to experience massive corporate disinvestment. And in the wake of the global financial crash in 2008, two long-festering narratives went viral.

On one hand media makers relished in pornographic ruin, documenting empty factories and abandoned homes as a spectacle of urban decay. On the other hand Detroit was celebrated as a playground for young and privileged creatives to rebuild. Inclusionary, home-grown alternatives faded into obscurity.

Ban billboards, fund jour­nalism!

Scanning Monday’s headlines, you may have spotted Postmedia’s announcement that it will cancel its wire service and cut 25 jobs. The news comes less than a month after the Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen introduced online paywalls to combat a steep decline in print ad revenue.

We’ve known the financial picture for Canadian journalism has been in decline for a while. But one quick-and-dirty answer that has yet to be considered in Canada comes courtesy of a documentary called This Space Available, which is showing in Toronto for the first time today.

Indie theatres weather the liquor license storm

Following months of struggle with British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver will gradually return to the mixed programming it cultivated before 2012. For most of this year, the Rio operated under an imposed liquor licensing condition that prevented the venue from showing films.

Although the single-screen venue expects to make a full recovery, owner Corinne Lea says her company is not out of the woods yet. “Because our finances got depleted so badly, our biggest challenge is just digging ourselves out of the hole,” Lea says. “Now we’re creeping back.”

True Blood’s ‘Pam’ shows fangirl fangs

It’s one thing to earn millions of views, but the success of HBO’s True Blood is better measured by the lively, semi-religious devotion of its fans.

Not satisfied with watching the vampire drama alone, true “fangbangers” orchestrate screening parties, make webisodes of their favourite characters, write fan fiction or dissect series creator Alan Ball’s “anti-brunette agenda” online.

REVIEW: Oneohtrix Point Never live at W2

Trippiness is a strange musical currency; value is so often predicated on the mind-altering substances consumed by its listeners. Having arrived stone sober at W2 to see Oneohtrix Point Never (Brooklyn-based Daniel Lopatin), this reviewer admits she was only adequately captivated by the synaptic soundscapes on offer Wednesday night. But as someone’s grandma might say: better to be challenged than bored.

Is Vancouver’s public consultation process broken?

In the heat of debate over the Rize development in Mount Pleasant, residents began to question the entire public consultation process. “It is not the developers that are the enemy,” Annabel Vaughan told the council chambers on Tuesday, February 28. “The enemy is the flawed process that the City uses for rezoning large development sites.”

Standing before the developer, city council and a long list of concerned speakers, Vaughan said surrounding residents and businesses should have been more meaningfully consulted before the design process even began. “The current public process brings out the worst in everyone,” she observed. “Developers and architects design projects in isolation and then land ‘spaceships’ into neighbourhoods.”

Canadian-made video games recognized at Fan Expo

From coast to coast, Canada punches above its weight in cutting-edge video games.

“We’re the third largest superpower for developing them in the world,” explains Victor Lucas, creator and host of the television show Electric Playground. “Canada has a tenth of the population of the United States, but we’re not far off in cultural output within this sector.”

Artist prOphecy sun keeps a recording studio in her pocket

You might think it takes a lot of equipment to record and edit vocals, instrumental tracks, field recordings and music videos for half a dozen different bands. But for one Vancouver performance artist with a penchant for singing on her bike, all it takes is an iPhone.

Prophecy Sun is a singer, dancer and creator whose curiosity keeps her moving. “For me it comes down to accessibility,” she says of her pocket-sized piece of gear. “First and foremost, it’s so immediate. I don’t have to worry about getting someone else involved, I can just press record and start doing it.”

Homeless count sweeps Vancouver

For a third year in a row, Vancouver’s spring homeless count wrapped up late last night. Volunteers scoured alleyways, parks, shelters and hospitals to gather information about the city’s shifting homeless population.

“We ask where they stayed last night, what their age is, whether they’re with a spouse or child or other relative,” says Judy Graves, co-ordinator of Vancouver’s tenant-assistance program. Graves oversaw Metro Vancouver’s first homeless count in 2002. She says details like income, gender, physical disabilities and illnesses are also collected.

Red Gate petitions to rent city-owned building

Since the Red Gate artist studio was shut down in October 2011, former manager Jim Carrico has been busy looking for another affordable haven for artists.

“I’ve been riding my bike around, putting the word out,” Carrico explains, estimating that he’s researched between 20 and 30 new locations. “The main thing we’re looking for is studio space, rehearsal space, production space—a place where people can afford to make art.”

“Affordable” is not an easy thing to come by in Vancouver, says Carrico, but at 281 Industrial Avenue, the price was just right: $8,500 per month.

Director puts mentorship in focus

Tuning into the Oscars last week, you may have asked: where are all the women directors?

Filmmaker Tracy D. Smith asked herself the same question. Zero women were nominated for directing awards this year, and Smith says their absence leads to a glut of shallow, uncompelling female characters on the silver screen.

“It’s never two women talking about their own experience, only ‘what do you think about what he said or did?’ and so on,” she says of the widespread “male gaze” in Hollywood. “It’s very common and very frustrating.”

Tasting makes drams come true

Before I knew what a dram was, I’d already sat down to share one with local scotch educator Darryl Lamb.

“It’s funny, dram is a term the Scots use for a drink of whisky, but there’s no formal amount,” says Lamb, also the general manager of Legacy Liquor Store in False Creek.

“You can have as many fingers as you want.”

Residents of Asia Hotel asked to leave by summer

For two weeks of February, a notice posted in the Asia Hotel on Pender Street informed tenants they have to move out by the end of June. And while the announcement has since been taken down, pending building repairs suggest the 34 to 38 low-income, Downtown Eastside residents will still have to relocate in the coming months.

“We just found out our lease for the Asia Hotel will not be renewed,” read part of the notice, “and therefore everyone must be out of the building by the end of June this year.”