Tag Archives: Megaphone Magazine

Following a Paper Trail

Sorry about that whole unannounced three-week hiatus thing.

With the ever-stressful combination of final assignments, Ontario visits and a brand new apartment I thought I may never live to see the month of May—but here it is! In case you’re curious, I’m staying here in Vancouver for the summer, writing for both Megaphone and Adbusters. Despite my recent neglect, I hope you continue to visit and enjoy my weird little corner of the internet.

In other news, there’s an art show opening tonight at the Atsui Gallery located at 602 East Hastings. It is called Paper Trail: Serial Material, and it will be throwing all traditional notions of gallery practices to the wind, and instead presenting a whole bunch of fun but simple DIY treasures.

From party posters to zines to homemade tit pins, the exhibition has a distinct lo-fi alternative vibe, and should prove to be good times all around. The show begins tonight at 8 pm and runs until May 30th. Check out www.galleryatsui.com for the full list of details.


Quiet Riots

Photo by Stephen Connor.

Photo by Stephen Connor.

Police tell the Cobalt to turn down the volume


When it comes to punk and metal shows, there are few Vancouver venues as loud and proud as the Cobalt. Attached to a notorious Single Room Occupancy hotel, the hardcore bar is praised by fans as the last haven for underground and extreme music in Vancouver.

But after nine years of punk rock patronage, the Cobalt may have to shut its doors for being a little too noisy. Last month, three separate noise complaints brought Vancouver police to the bar’s doorstep within less than a week.

“We’ve been getting these weird complaints—after nine years of nothing,” bar manager Wendythirteen explained. She said Vancouver’s after-hours noise bylaws might put the Cobalt out of business.

Diane Shepard is a property use inspector for the City of Vancouver. She said bars with extended hours are subject to specific and testable noise requirements. “If we have complaints, we’ll go out and take readings. If they’re not in compliance, we’ll go from there.”

“The hoops they put you through are impossible,” Wendythirteen lamented about the city’s late night licensing restrictions.

To stay open past midnight, bars like the Cobalt must be equipped with metal detectors, security cameras, ID scanners and adequate soundproofing. Owners of the nearby Astoria Hotel bar recently spent $120,000 on a soundproofing upgrade, to comply with city standards.

Sound upgrades at the Cobalt will cost upwards of $50,000. Wendythirteen says she simply can’t pay for renovations. “I can’t afford it, nor am I willing to do it,” she said. “The slumlords won’t fix their shit—why should I put money into fixing their building?”

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Art and Anarchy

Downtown Eastside artists give the Cultural Olympiad the middle finger


There are many reasons to hate on the Olympics. Housing promises have been abandoned, the cost of living is rising, and millions of city dollars are being wasted—all for the sake of the 2010 Games.

Gord Hill's "Resist 2010"

Gord Hill's "Resist 2010"

So, if you like art, and want yet another reason to shake a fist at that hideous tooth-shaped Olympic countdown clock, mark your calendars for Friday, March 13. The unlucky night marks the beginning of an underground anti-Olympic art show called Art and Anarchy.

Art and Anarchy is the brainchild of 12 anti-authoritarian artists, who are concerned with the Olympics’ slick marketing and cultural appropriation. The show’s overarching message is pretty clear from its posters, which simply read: “Fuck the Cultural Olympiad.”

In the basement of the historic Tellier Towers (located at 16 East Hastings) Art and Anarchy will be showcasing a radical collection of sculptures, carvings, paintings, jewelry and video art. Pieces by Gord Hill—a well-known carver, illustrator and Olympic resistor—will be on display along with a barricade used during a tent city protest.

The artists, who do not receive any funding for their work, hope to show the Downtown Eastside’s creative community the perils of accepting Olympic money. From the use of aboriginal artwork in Olympic marketing campaigns to the use of state-sponsored art to block out scenes of poverty—Art and Anarchy aims to let local artists know they are being exploited rather than supported.

Street performer and anti-poverty activist David Cunningham is one of many Art and Anarchy members who believe community art in the Downtown Eastside is being used to disguise capitalist plunder. Cunningham has lived and worked in the Downtown Eastside for 10 years, and has avidly spoken against other gentrifying projects such as the Carral Street Greenway.

“We see this style of community art as an aesthetic of social cleansing,” he says. “The only opportunity VANOC has to represent itself in the neighbourhood is to give money to artists. This creates a façade of progressiveness, where they can claim to be investing in the community.”

Cunningham says community art is sometimes used as a physical barrier, to divide and disguise parts of the neighbourhood. “As we move closer to the Olympics, art is being placed over fences. Art is literally being used as walls in the Downtown Eastside.”

“We want to recapture what is now been exploited,” he says.

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Singing his praises

Bruce: The Musical celebrates Downtown Eastside activist


How do you pay tribute to the man who gave a voice (and a loud one at that) to Vancouver’s most disenfranchised neighbourhood?

Playwright Bob Sarti poses with an image of the late Bruce Erikson

Playwright Bob Sarti poses with an image of the late Bruce Erikson

Some visit Bruce Erikson Place—a social housing project on Hastings Street erected in his honour. Others have joined the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association—a charitable community organization Erikson founded in 1973.

But former Vancouver Sun reporter and long-time Downtown Eastside resident Bob Sarti had something different in mind when he wrote Bruce: The Musical. With the help of award-winning composers Bill Sample and Earle Peach, Erikson’s legacy has now been warmly commemorated in a two-act musical drama.

Bruce: The Musical premiered on Thursday Nov. 6 at Russian Hall, and plays every night until Nov. 16. The theatrical production brings to life many moments of Erikson’s remarkable biography. Complete with singing, dancing, and even a couple of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel cockroaches, the play is an enjoyable, albeit cheesy way to get acquainted with the Downtown Eastside’s colourful history.

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Healing the heart

Downtown Eastside festival showcases community’s talent


“Memory is the mother of community.”

Heart of the City Festival photo by David Cooper

Heart of the City Festival photo by David Cooper

These are the insightful words of Downtown Eastside poet Sandy Cameron and the mantra of the upcoming Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival.

Cameron is a social conscience within the neighbourhood and one of hundreds of artists and organizers participating in the 12-day arts celebration beginning Oct. 29. The Heart of the City Festival aims to give a creative voice to a diverse community that has endured many historical struggles.

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