Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ski Bum Musical

Went and saw the celebratory screening of The Staff: A Ski Bum Musical the winner of this year's Telus 72 Hour Film contest.

The crew was predominantly made up of guys from our crew from Beast.
They were runners up last year, this year they rocked the house.

Congratulations guys!

Cross Posted on The Beast of Bottomless Lake blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Illiad over The Odyssey

An open letter to the Vancouver Mayor and Council,

RE: The Odyssey Night Club

I expect that City Council generally fields more complaints than commendations about their collective actions. This will be the latter.
For starters, in the spirit of full-disclosure; I am a former West End resident. I have not lived there for nearly five years; I am straight; my girlfriend, whose apartment I stay at regularly, lives within 100 meters of the former proposed future site of the Odyssey Night Club on Denman street; and you'll have to take my word for it that I'm not homophobic, though any thorough search of my past would certainly find the heavy balance of by actions to support that claim. I should also mention that while my girlfriend is my direct connection to this issue, what follows does not speak for her - it is my own frustration with a segment of an otherwise well self-representing community and their need to rely upon unsound argument and false premises that fuels this message, combined with a desire to commend council for seeing through the childish and unproductive politicizing being done by the side which feel wronged.
Thank you and congratulations for your recent decision disallowing the Odessey to re-open on Denman street.I have over the past five days heard an awful lot of outrage from within the gay community I am in touch with, and it disgusts me. What I am witnessing is a demographic who rightfully and genuinely feels persecuted, but that feeling of victimization is being irrationally applied in this case.
I've posted a few comments politely explaining the 'other' side of the argument in various locations - including blogs, forums and gay friend's outraged Facebook comments - and in all cases (most unfortunate in the latter case) they have been deleted, and if responded to at all, done so in a persistently hysterical manner. Hence I figured I should respond directly to you via email and publically on my own blog.
Apologies to council for much of what follows is information that you will already know as you are in the thick of it, I include it for the casual reader reading this as an open letter.
I will begin by stating that I fully support the effort to find a new home for the Odessey, but I stress the need to find a solution that will balance the impact as best as possible. I am convinced that the location on Denman was absolutely not the answer that would provide balance.
There is a common assumption in the pro-Odessey-on-Denman-camp, (I may regret this, but for Brevity I'll henceforth use the term "Prodcamp".) that being a vital part of the gay community - a gay-neighbourhood - that Denman street is an ideal place for the night club. I have lived a block off Davie street - behind a relatively quiet night club, but I'll get back to that - and spent plenty of time at my previously mentioned girlfriend's apartment, roughly the same distance from Denman. There is a world of difference in the neighborhoods. While both are rich examples of the gay community, comparing them to one another is not unlike comparing the entertainment district of Granville Street to Shaugnessy. One is where the younger crowd lives and goes to for their night-life, the other is where the married and older citizens settle. Do not be fooled by the propinquity of Davie and Denman compared to the other example. It's a smaller and more densely populated demographic thus the distance is less spread out.
Despite being a major street, Denman is not a 'party street.'
As mentioned above, I have lived behind a relatively quiet nightclub - a gay night club, so the comparison does bear a layer of correlation. Closing time was NEVER quiet, and occasionally I was compelled to call the police due to unreasonable noise from the patrons afterhours in the alley... yes, I am avoiding the gory details.For the most part though we did not complain about the noise - it was merely the few outrageous exceptions - but it needs to be stressed that we moved into that neighbourhood fully aware of both the general night-life along Davie and the specific from said club. It bears saying that this was in the days before smoking was pushed out into the street. That is not a judgement on smoking by-laws, simply relevant framing, as smokers would by necessity spread out along Denman street and ajoining side streets and alleys.Another aspect that the Prodcamp seems to have a tin-ear about is that if the neighbourhood is against the club in the first place that the number of complaints to the owners, council and the police are going to be magnitudes greater than would be experienced in a neighbourhood where the club is established. It's unwelcome nature (not for being gay, just for being loud) would NOT serve it's longterm health as a club - an for the most part, THAT is the crux of the problem, and where Michael Levy is actually being the short-sighted one, contrary to his claims about City Council. COuncil has recognized that noise pollution in the neighbourhood is the primary concern, and that is bang on. It's necessary to acknowledge with out predjudice the existence of largely anonymous, but more specifically spontaneous sexual activity that is ignited within a club. This can happen at straight or gay clubs, thus is not specific to the Odyssey. But when correlated to the proximity of the proposed 911 Denman location to Stanley Park - a known cruising location - it is unreasonable to suggest that couples and individuals would not leave the club heading west through a quiet residential neighbourhood - possibly making it to Stanley Park, possibly not waiting that long - and then have to make a return trip through the same neighbourhood. This is in addition to the expected and accepted diaspora along major thoroughfares at the end or even during a given night's entertainment.
Additionally, putting the club in a location better accessible to other clubs (gay or not) is to the advantage of both patrons out for the evening and to police patrolling. This latter point has little to do with responses to complaints or incidents and is primarily with regards to standard patrolling of night-life. The further the police have to travel, the more their resources are unnecessarily stretched. In the rare event that there is a need to respond to an incident the distance only exacerbates the problem.
There are a few more fallacies and mis-understandings I wish to address as they regularly come up as part of the argument:
Odyssey supporters claim that the noise can be controlled. This is a totally unsupportable claim. For starters the club cannot be actively responsible for revellers who have left the club, they can opnly take flack for it post-facto. Additionally, it is ridiculous to speak for future patrons five and ten years down the road, no matter how many current patrons swear that they themselves will be quiet as they gather and depart.
Council passed a motion to support the Odyssey in finding a new location, as motioned by Councillor George Chow. There seems to be great propensity for the Prodcamp to ignore this. This sadly strikes me as further evidence of an internal need to wield political weight by the demonstrating the false appearance of persecution.The Odyssey IS a cultural icon. Every resonable effor to preserve it should be made in a location where the impact will be less severe, possibly even predominantly welcome. Somewhere along the Davie corridor - not far from it's current location - is the obvious solution, if at all possible. Though if the gay community is prepared to venture out to other neighbourhoods, not specifically percieved as gay, it may be a good thing to break out into either the Granville entertainment district or Gastown. There is an acknowledgeable argument that this might not be as safe; but this should be explored as a counter to the equal an opposite argument that gay activity might be "ghettoized" in the West End, a circumstance that would be reprehensible in either an active or passive form. I believe this latter circumstance would be the opposite of councillor Woodsworth's intentions in her excellent public statements on the subject, and she should stand proud behind her comments and not listen to the ludicrous public attacks of the likes of Joan-E.
Contrary to many attacks, the Odyssey is NOT being forced to close. It is being forced to move by having their lease cancelled - which must happen in order for an AIDS hospice to be built on City land. To quote another public letter from the Prodcamp "Maybe you should leave the Odyssey where it is and try and find a new place for the Hospice." Ouch. This is from a letter within the gay community. I am certain it's not representative of the whole, but it does demonstrate the headspace of some of the Prodcamp, who are willing to throw some of the worst-off segment of their community under the bus for a place to party. It makes me sad. Though... if it is possible to extend the Odyssey's lease for a time longer as they search for a more reasonable location - without impacting upon the building of the hospice, I heartily support and recommend it. Today, April 14th council is to be meeting on exactly this matter, and as I write this I do not know the result.
Another mis-characterization by the Prodcamp is that the opposition is from the elderly. This is fundamentally not true. I happen to know a number of people in the neighbourhood who are not among the elderly who are not in favour of the club moving into the neighbourhood - and at this point, what is the point of name-calling?
I have thus far only managed to uncover one side's versiopn of the alleged "Chinese Restaurant" comment by councillor Chow. I suspect it is being mischaracterized. As it comes across - without ever a direct quote - from the Prodcamp is that Councillor Chow said that when his grandfather's favourite Chinese Restaurant was closed, he was disappointed but eventually he found another.As it appears - and quite possibly in actuality - it's an unfortunate statement. But what was the intention and context? When Councillor Chow's Grandfather was a young man the Chinese population of Vancouver was marginalized - nothing like the enormous and healthy community of today, quite possibly even more marginalized than today's gay community. That's the context. The point is that if the Odyssey closes it's doors forever there will be a void. It will fill. It will fill fast. That's a reality. Hopefully it won't come to that, but if it does, it won't take long before in all practical circumstances there is no difference between what exists today and what exists in the future.
Many of the Prodcamp are prone to making claims about the Odyssey's singular position on the gay community. To hear some, you might think it's the only gay-club in town. Others make the assertion that it's the only gay-club with dancing. Well, I think it's time that we turn to Joan-E for facts rather than hysteria: "Vancouver has Numbers, 1181, Pumpjack, Pulse, Celebrities, The Fountainhead, Oasis and Score. Of those, three have dancing for a combined capacity of around 1500 - all this for Western Canada’s largest gay population."
For those in the gay community who are taking up the stances that this is not a gay issue (or at least isn't until the currently fictional time council approves for a straight-club to open in the same premises); and those who are residents who would have been affected in their comfortable homes with their long-time companions off Denman street, I want to thank you too for being the reasonable people you are.
For those straights who opposed the club, and ever made any sort of assertion of evil in the gay community... please, we are not on the same side - or to the degree we are, you aren't helping.
Once again, congratulations to council for making a well reasoned and forward thinking decision, I'm sure you don't hear that often enough.

Sincerely, Kennedy Goodkey

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Best Chance We’ve Ever Had...?

All of five minutes ago – as I start writing this – the Canucks won the division title for the third time in five years.

Yes, it took until the last game of the season. Yes, it wasn't a particularly great game. So FUCKING what?

It brings up the question – what the hell happened last year? We didn't even make the playoffs – but we won the division in the bread years of that sandwich.

It's hard to forget that early in the new year we had a terrible losing skid of 10 games. It's been that ugly before, but this season did include a record home-ice losing streak in that period. And it needs to be pointed out that last year's Stanley Cup champs had a similar losing streak last season. Bus since then, we have been the best team in the league... bar none. That's a fantastic way to enter the playoffs. At the end of the losing streak it was dubious whether we'd make the playoffs at all – in fact a friend in Calgary stated in no uncertain terms that the Canucks would be lucky if we even made the playoffs. I'm trying not to gloat right now.

The Canucks have played in the Cup final round twice. I do vaguely recall both. The first I was a mere 12 years old, and not much of a hockey fan – it was merely geography that had me interested in that one. For the second they made it all the way to game seven of the final – and barely lost it. I watched that one from the same bar in Montreal where I'd sat out the Stanley Cup riot of the year before. In 1994, the Canucks played a spectacular playoff but only got to the final through character and grit.

Since then there have been some decent chances... 2002 (I think) Naslund was on the verge of winning the scoring title when he was injured for the remainder of the season... that was promising. But the REAL chance was 2003 when the infamous Bertuzzi incident arguably resulted in the Canucks losing game seven of the first round to the team that would lose the whole shebang in game seven. Todd Bertuzzi in his best season could have made that difference – to say nothing of Naslund being less shook up and healthier. It's a long and tired argument all around...

But here we are...

About to start a new playoffs... and to my own surprise – I really had little faith before the season started – we have one hell of a team. The Sedins are playing as well as they have ever played – better even. Luongo is kicking ass and had he not been injured for a good portion of the mid-season might have had a truly outrageous season. Hired gun Sundin is firing on all cylinders and has been for ages. And all of the 'young talent' looks more like they have arrived than they're about to arrive.

It's sixteen wins away and there are lots of great teams who need to fall by the wayside first, but since February there has been no team better than the Canucks.

There are some obvious bottom feeders still in the hunt, and a team or two who despite their position in the playoffs are there largely due to early season success – Calgary I'm lookin' at you.

I'm not going to get overly excited yet – we need to win the first round and prove our mettle to really be able to assess the real-world chances, but I think this may well be the most exciting playoffs for the Canucks since that 1994 run.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ten Alternate Realities I’d be Slightly Happier in.

You're probably at least slightly familiar with the Many Worlds Interpretation of physics. In it every possible variation of reality that could occur does occur. An infinite number of universes that are exactly the same except for "x" and the subsequent changes that naturally follow from the point of divergence. This was the essential plot concept of the TV Show Sliders. These differences could be as extreme as "what of the dinosaurs were never wiped out" to "what if I sneezed a nano-second sooner than I just did a moment ago?"

Anyhow... just for fun and a creative mental work-out, here are ten alternate realities of presumably slight variation that I would like more than the one I've been saddled with... WE have been saddled with. The only rule – no BIGGIES! It's too easy to pick a "what if Hitler died before 1935?" alternate history. Only nominal and frivolous alternate realities allowed.

10) "What if Split Enz were bigger than the Beatles?" Yeah, I could have picked The Clash, but that would be just too easy. And besides, I think The Clash would lose something being THAT big. Anyhow, back to Split Enz - I'd be happier in a world where "I Got You" received the air-play that "Yesterday" gets. Julie Taymor would have directed a cinematic opus called "Six Months in a Leaky Boat." Damn it. I'm already jealous of those alternate worlds and I'm just on #10!

9) "What if the unwashed masses had gravitated towards the far more clever 'Doubloon' instead of calling the 2$ Canadian coin a 'Twoonie?'" It'd be nice to live in a country that witty. I'm just sayin'.

8) "What if the 'space' key on my phone's texting-pad wasn't so sensitive to temperature?" In this universe it in explicably refuses to register when it's cold unless I press it about seven times. It's annoying. There is a universe where I text much less tersely in winter.

7) "What if I hadn't 'ignored' Nicole that summer on tour?" There had to be one of these. I didn't exactly 'ignore' Nicole. I could hardly take my eyes off her all summer, but I never acted upon it. It was totally obvious. Even if I had acted it would have just been a summer fling – she was going back to school at Mt. Alison University and I was moving to Vancouver. At the last night of her last Fringe – Saskatoon I think – that summer she came and hugged me goodbye and whispered in my ear "Don't ignore me next summer." That was my last summer touring. DOH!

6) "What if I'd been healthier upon my return from filming in the Okanagan in Spring 2007?" I had four days before the Vancouver portion of the shoot began. I HAD to rest up. As it was when the Vancouver portion was over I was as sick as I've ever been for a prolonged period of time. But in that window I turned down an opportunity that I really wanted to take. I DID make the right choice, but if I hadn't felt the desperate need to recuperate I could have been in the audience for the FIRST show of the Police reunion tour. That would have been cool.

5) "What if Disney stuck a little closer to the Brothers Grimm?" C'mon. It'd be far more fun if frog princes got thrown against the wall instead of kissed, and wicked step-sisters cut off toes to squeeze into shoes. Or perhaps I'm just a bit perverse.

4) "What if Episodes One and Two had been One and Episode Three had been Episode Two?" Not a perfect solution, but already its better story-telling.

3) "What of fog smelled like mint?" There'd be one more type of good weather – and it'd be radically different from the forms we are accustomed to. Just imagine. Perhaps I should add the clause that smog doesn't count. Who would need an incentive to breathe choking toxins deeper than they have to?

2) "What if the anti-Olympic lobby had the money that the VANOC-2010 committee had back in 2002?" You can't tell me there wouldn't be less headaches in Vancouver today... and over the past few years. Only eleven months 'til it's behind us... sigh.

1) "What if the Steve Moore never cheap-shotted Naslund?" This one plays out quite easily. For starters Naslund would have been in better condition for the remainder of the 2003 season and NHL playoffs. But more than that, the other half of that the truly talented two thirds of the Westcoast Express, Todd Bertuzzi almost certainly wouldn't have mugged Steve Moore (and I'm not going to get into that moral mine-field right now – it's enough to say it would not have happened) and thus would have been playing for the Canucks for the same period. Canucks lost game seven of the first round to the Flames – in overtime. Bertuzzi and Naslund WOULD have made the difference. The Flames went on to barely lose game seven of the final round of the Stanley Cup to Tampa. Do I need to make the implications of this any more clear? "

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Joe Bird Died

I've said that probably two dozen times today. Most of them it has been delivered with an incredulous tone that implies that the sentence begins with "I can't believe..."

I never hung out with Joe much. Some, on tour. But for the most part his company – Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie – ran with a different crowd than the Juanabees. There wasn't really any animosity between us (if one discounts the rumours that his main partner in crime had a small hate-on for me personally – allegedly over a girl, but none of that has ever been confirmed (EDIT: Debunked!!! See comments below.)) and the Juanabees even paid tribute to the Trolls in our third show by calling our show "Three Young Hitlers in a Baggie" – a title which melded the names of two of a previous seasons' top sellers.

The Trolls were top dog when we started touring, but they were in the process of transition so we only actually toured together once, before the torch was passed. We crossed paths numerous times though, and in a very real sense the Trolls were the Juanabees inspiration. Between the Trolls and the Flaming Idiots the Juanabees got the incorrect message that touring ALL the Fringe festivals was how it was done. It wasn't. But it would become that way after we did it.

My friend Brian – who was an original Juanabee – dragged me to the last Trolls show at their first visit to the Victoria Fringe. I had genuinely never seen anything like it. I'd seen and done sketch comedy, but the Trolls were pushing things to a new level. It was fast, funny, ridiculous and beyond just being funny had something very real to say. And the music... they were like a rock band that had gone wrong. It was great.

The next year Norm and I would see the Trolls again in Vancouver. It was IN LINE to the Trolls show that I had the conversation with Kevin from the Flaming Idiots that led me to the ill-met conclusion that touring all the festivals was the way to go. It was there that I first heard The Toronto Song. I STILL love the Toronto Song. According to today's Edmonton Journal Joe wrote it and it led directly to their short-lived CBC show. Note: Do NOT start your entire run with the announcement that you should 'lower your expectations.'

I do recall jamming with Joe... it must have been that first year on tour. I'm almost certain it was at one of the infamous 'Fuck Art' parties that became a Fringe staple for a few years. He was an outrageous partier. And part of his seemingly infinite capacity for glee seemed to be his bottomless stamina for being on the up-side of some form of high... though perhaps I mis-read him, but I doubt it.

Joe was always happy to see you, though he probably couldn't recall your name. One couldn't help but think that it was inevitable that he'd die young for that same capacity. I know... or rather, I've been told, that Joe's family was stricken with naturally short life spans. He himself expected to be dead before he was thirty. He was forty-one when he died yesterday. One can't help be struck by the irony – it was April Fool's day.

It's all just thought – random thought, but it's natural to reflect at a time like this. In the past week three acquaintances of mine have died. Joe is the most recent, so perhaps that's why I'm struck by pensiveness now... the dam has broken. But it may be affinity. Joe was born in the same hospital as I was. We have the obvious actor/musician & Fringe connection. It makes me project... both my grandfathers died young. Very different circumstances – I've already outlived the one who died by accident (as opposed to illness.) I suppose that the closer a person reflects ourselves, the more prone we are to consider our own mortality, whatever that results in.

Good journey, Joe. It was good to have travelled with you. Thanks for the inspiration.

More Trolls – that's Joe on guitar.