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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
All the lonely houses stand like monuments / To thieves
— Neko Case, Tightly
February 28, 2010

Countdown to the end of Olympictown

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here in Vancouver—or, as I’ve taken to calling it, Olympictown. In so many ways the city since February 1st has been an entirely different city that it has ever been. Amongst the important questions being asked is: what will it become next?
Olympic Cauldron, Vancouver 2010

Without a doubt the games have brought Vancouver to life: streets downtown have felt, more or less, like a 24 hour party zone, and its been quite a change from the normal routine of rolling up sidewalks in the early evening on weekdays. Bars and restaurants on Granville and Robson Streets have been overflowing, even those of dubious quality.

Granville Island was a focal point for quite a bit of activity, to say that its been busy is an understatement. It’s been a different kind of busy though: while the prepared food vendors and coffee merchants have been quite happy, the others have—in many cases—seen a dramatic drop in business: up to 40%. The impact of an exorbitant and sudden parking fee, no doubt. To say that there are many Granville Island merchants who are counting down to the end of the games is an understatement.

Our great experiment with short streetcar line provided (at no cost, it must be noted) by Bombardier has been very popular. People want to keep it. The line needs to be longer, but it would be nice to see something similar stick around. It probably won’t. It will take decades for there to be enough traffic on that line to justify the cost to Translink.

The Canadian flags being worn as capes all around town will come to an end in about two hours, with the end of the Men’s gold medal hockey game. A shame, as the bright red of which many of us are proud all year round does a nice job of punching out against the cloudy grey backdrop the weather has provided us for much of the last two weeks. The public outpouring of patriotism has been remarkable. Vancouver is not a town that feels much like it’s part of Canada most of the time. This is us, out here on the raggedy edge: a long way from an Ottawa that feels (too often) like it ignores us altogether. Perhaps that will end, thought I doubt it: we still don’t vote Conservative in the city, and the Liberals like Quebec too much.

For all the talk about Vancouver as Canada’s future—it’s been a topic of conversation before, and it will come up again—I’m not sure that this has marked any kind of substantial transition. A two week party amongst our glass towers does little to repair the economic fragility of a town lacking in head offices and sizable employers, where the cost of purchasing a house vastly exceeds the reach of the average income. It remains to be seen, of course, and its been an interesting ride.

I, for one, can’t wait to get my city back.

Posted by skooter at 8:01 PM This entry is filed under .

Dan Mangan at CBC Studio One

CBC Radio 3 likes to present and broadcast live concerts from the famous and historic CBC Studio One, deep in the underground of the building. I’ve seen some artists here for the very first time, and gone on to become a fan of them. This time, they were presenting one of my favourites artists of the last couple of years: Dan Mangan with Mint Records’ Fanshaw as an opening act.

Fanshaw was entertaining, playing guitar and accompanied by bass and drums. It was when Dan took the stage that things got very interesting. Instead of his regular band (which included Laura Smith on keyboards, an acoustic double bass, and a full assortment of percussion) the stage was set with three horn players, a cellist and two violinists. No percussion at all, and the only amplifier in sight was eventually plugged into Dan’s guitar (a Fender, I think.)

Calling the night of music that followed magic doesn’t do it justice, really. The sound was beautiful, and so totally different from anything else I’ve seen live lately. Some photos are below, with more on my Flickr page and a podcast will be made available soon that will be a must download. If you have any doubts about the value the CBC as to the country’s arts and culture, nights like this make an easy and compelling argument that it is, simply, irreplaceable.

Cello bow at work

Patience on the Flugal Horn

Dan Mangan

Posted by skooter at 7:41 PM This entry is filed under .
Tags: CBC, CBC Radio 3, Concerts, Dan Mangan

February 26, 2010

The 70s Were So Surreal

Posted by skooter at 12:10 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Inanities.
Tags: Videos

February 21, 2010

Ski Jumping at the Winter Olympics

I remain surprised and a bit disturbed by the fact that women’s ski jumping wasn’t included in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The New York Times is covering it as well.

In essence, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the IOC was not subject to the Canadian constitution, and that VANOC is not responsible for the content of the games. A political ruling if I’ve ever heard one.

The fact that the IOC hasn’t yet committed to include women’s ski jumping in Sochi in 2014 isn’t promising either. Perhaps an announcement is imminent.

Posted by skooter at 5:48 PM This entry is filed under Sports.
Tags: 2010, Vancouver Olympics

Peter Gabriel: Shaking the Tree

Posted by skooter at 5:27 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Music Videos, Peter Gabriel

February 10, 2010

Edmonton, Baby!

I’m in Edmonton for work and—to answer the question, occasionally unspoken but always considered—I didn’t lose a bet. I actually volunteered, in part so that I could reconnect with friends.

It turns out that the only part of Edmonton I know is Whyte Avenue. It could be worse: it’s a pretty good part of town, with interesting sites to see. Of course, I’m hanging out in a Starbucks at Chapters with some free Wi-Fi. These are the compromises we make for connectivity.

I was last here in the summertime, about nine months ago, and things have changed. A nice small used bookstore I tried to spend some money in is closed. With Pages having closed in Toronto and Duthies closed in Vancouver, this is a trend that is becoming problematic for those of us who like the printed page.

I turned a TV on in a hotel room last night and lasted about a minute and a half. I haven’t had one for the last nine months or so, and the commercials and barrage of noise grate on me. The longer I stay away from it, the more annoying it gets. Back to CBC.

It’s snowy here, which is something I haven’t seen very much of this year. It makes me think that they maybe should have held the Winter Olympics here. In two days, Vancouver’s going to get crazier than it’s ever been. I fly home tonight, and I’m looking forward to it—and not just because of this Saturday night’s Wilco show.

Posted by skooter at 8:23 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Vancouver.
Tags: 2010, Edmonton, Vancouver Olympics, Wilco

Best Road Trip Song Ever

Posted by skooter at 8:17 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Dan Mangan, Music, Videos

February 2, 2010

Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris: Waterfall

Posted by skooter at 4:43 AM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris, Grammy Awards, Music