Canada is super chill about com­mercial drones

Unlike the US, Canada is pretty lax about commercial drone use. Wildlife scientists, filmmakers, and real estate photographers (to name a few) have taken advantage of these flying robots in Canadian airspace.

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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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

Canada’s first robocall rally unites generations and parties with comedy

If the Vikileaks debacle taught us anything about modern scandal in this country, it’s that Canadians enjoy a few laughs with our outrage. Amid the crowd marching from the Vancouver Art Gallery to Victory Square on Saturday March 3rd—a rally calling for a public inquiry into the growing robocall scandal—good-natured Canuck humour was out in full force.

Filmmaker gleefully reaches for once-forbidden fruit

Sometimes we want what we can’t have. For Vancouver-based filmmaker Katrin Bowen, these words have rang true for sex and television.

“I was raised very religiously and raised without much technology,” the director says of her Mennonite upbringing in rural Alberta. “I didn’t see a TV until I was about 12.” On set of her latest film Random Acts of Romance, Bowen feels she’s come a long way to the sharp-tongued social media jockey she is today.

Grimes: “It’s kinda psychedelic…”

It wasn’t so long ago that Claire Boucher—a.k.a. Grimes—released a miniscule run of 30 cassettes for her breezy electro-goth debut Geidi Primes. Just over a year ago, the Vancouver-born, but then Montreal-based artist played to a modest crowd at the Astoria with the help of local jack-of-most-trades, Cameron Reed.

“Cam set up my first show in Vancouver, which was really nice of him,” Boucher recalls of the de facto show promoter, who also crafts glitchy atmospherics under the banner Babe Rainbow. On the line from her parents’ place in town, Boucher reflects on how far she’s come.

Drag phenom Taylor Mac reclaims his image

It is possibly the first and only drag show born out of lazy journalism.

With sequin-encrusted eyes and a sharp tongue, PuSh Festival veteran Taylor Mac brings a unique musical mash-up to the Performance Works stage this weekend, called Comparison is Violence or The Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook.

The mouthful of a title arises from repeat descriptions of Mac’s larger-than-life persona. When Mac toured The Be(A) st of Taylor Mac – a solo piece he brought to Vancouver in 2009 – theatre writers across the globe seemed to be of one mind.

Vancouver’s newest record label skips CD format

Vancouver has a tradition of local forward-thinking record labels, from Nettwerk to Mint to Scratch Records. But the latest imprint to launch in this city has a new, untested idea: Sizzle Teen Records will forgo the CD format and focus on vinyl and digital sales exclusively.

“If you look at the big guys in the music industry, from Warner Brothers to HMV, they’re all pretty much failing,” says label founder Richie Fudalewski. “From our experience, CDs are not worth it.”

Vancouver’s “poster mafia” dominates a bizarre racket

Sure, Vancouver’s got a cut-throat real estate industry—we’ve heard that one before. But down below all the empty towers and backroom deals lies an even more mercenary racket: the fight for postering supremacy.

Yes, all those brightly coloured rectangles populating our city’s traffic poles and construction sites are actually pawns in a decades-long battle hidden in plain sight. And the hands-down winner of Vancouver’s visual real estate war, for the last fifteen years at least, has been a group known ominously as “the poster mafia.” Seriously.

B.C.’s five looniest liquor laws

The year is 1949. British reporter Noel Monks walks into the Hotel Vancouver and orders a pint. The barman turns him away — not because he’s intoxicated or even poorly dressed — Monks was bounced for standing on two feet.

The journalist later wrote Canada is “a tremendous, virile country… Yet you’ve apparently let yourselves be legislated into a state of adolescence when it comes to the use of alcohol.”

Monks had reason to be miffed. At the time, B.C.’s beer-serving establishments outlawed music, dancing, food of all kinds, unescorted women and standing upright with a beer. Wine or whisky weren’t on the menu, and mocking the rules by crawling from one table to the next was presumably more than frowned upon.

Best records of 2011

Nguzunguzu – The Perfect Lullaby. A labyrinth of stripped-down loops and beats referencing ’90s R&B chart-toppers and Angolan kizomba & zouk in equal measures. Truly the only possible way to enjoy eight hours trapped in a Mozambican airport.

MYTHS – MYTHS. Supercharged electro-noise with a semi-psychotic swagger. First caught them opening for HEALTH and they’ve been terrifying me ever since. “Deadlights” is basically Alice Glass squared.

Banning bikes on Broadway

What began as an election campaign proposal has since snowballed into a heated online debate. In an October 24 editorial in the Georgia Straight, newly inaugurated Green Party councillor Adriane Carr first suggested “bike-free routes” on Vancouver’s main arteries like Broadway and Hastings.

“I realized in the beginning that I wasn’t specific enough,” says Carr, who is now advocating dedicated bus-only lanes on major roadways—a strategy Carr says was successful during the Olympics. “I’ve been talking to transit drivers who say it worked,” she continues. “The buses moved much more rapidly, and there were more buses on the routes.”

Damian Moppett’s lessons in art history

On the floor of the cavernous exhibition space in Bob Rennie’s private Chinatown gallery, Vancouver-based visual artist Damian Moppett is assembling his latest work.

Red aluminum pipes and plates lie arranged in rows, while cables hang from the gallery’s 12-metre ceiling.

The massive site-specific piece makes a nod to art history — a hallmark of Moppett’s work.

PODCAST: Vacant State

It’s an unlikely home for a hardcore band. La Casa del Artista first opened in 2006 for the purpose of showcasing live mariachi music. A towering mustard-coloured building on the corner of Main and 3rd Ave, it’s on the back steps that I first meet three members of Vacant State: Terry Wilk (vocals), Adam Mitchell (guitar) and Chris “Gustav” Gustafson (bass). Relocating to their ground-floor jam space, we sat down (on the floor) to discuss Vancouver’s punk scene, all-ages venues and their debut long player Fill the Void.