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Editorial - 3 - Musing on a rainy afternoon.
Sam North - Editor

Summer finally ended in Vancouver and to compensate it has been voted ‘healthiest’ city to live in Canada. This is just as well, as anyone trying to contact the Medical Plan people in Victoria will know. Get ill here and you might as well turn up your boots if you aren’t on the plan and getting on the plan is like something from Franz Kafka. I still haven’t managed it.

I’m beginning to understand the rhythm of this town and just how exhausting it really is being ‘interested’ in culture. Having just spent three years in Cornwall, where there is the odd art opening and some local acting troupe putting on the odd show, being in Vancouver is a frenzy of activity.

The Film Festival has just ended, well covered by our correspondent Alex Grant and now we have the Surrey International Writer’s Festival and the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival. No doubt, lots of would be writers and earnest readers will be hanging on every word. I am not convinced they are of benefit. Meeting the writer whose words you respect can be a let down – particularly if they are drunk and hit you up for money or sex as happened to a friend of mine with a successful American author last year. Perhaps they sell books, but there’s always that stupid question ‘How do you get your ideas?’ Writer’s invariably lie or make something up, the truth is usually too mundane. I recall a writer friend stuck for a plot wrote about the objects on his windowsill and was astonished to discover publishers loved it.

We have Yo-Yo Ma playing in town soon, tons of new plays opening – openings at the galleries by the hundreds every Thursday, and films-last week eleven new films opened, this week nine. Then there are autumn garden festivals such as the Scarecrow Fest at Van Dusen Gardens and the Vancouver Symphony playing a new programme at the Massey and Orpheum Theatres. Bramwell Tovey and HK Gruber giving us Mussorgsky, Saint-Saens and more. On the 31st they are playing the soundtrack to ‘Phantom of the Opera’ the silent version. West Side Story opens at the Stanley Theatre on South Granville soon and right now you can see Women in Black starring Mathew Harrison and Kennedy Goodkey at the Terry Fox Theatre in Pt Coquitlam. Box office Tel 604 464 5550 It’s fun and a very well told ghost story, perfect for the season.

© Photo of Vancouver Library by Sam North

This is a city of just two million, taking in the suburbs, and yet it is rich in diverse culture, filled to the brim with aspirant actors, artists, musicians and writers. There is nowhere you can go without meeting someone creative, yet, it is also a hard to town to survive in as a creative person. Go figure. It might also be a tad over-confident and self-congratulatory, somethings that go over well here will not travel well and could use some critical input. That same over confidence manifests itself in sarcastic and self-important film reviews. Read the Georgia Straight (Vancouver’s Village Voice) and much like London’s Time Out magazine, whatever get’s a bad review will be brilliant and vice versa. A case in point is the Avary production of ‘The Rules of Attraction’ – a humourless reproduction of Brett Easton Ellis’s depressing book about college life. Here is is perceived as a ‘comedy’ yet the brilliant and witty ‘Igby Goes Down’, the best comedy of the year is dismissed. It is a clue to Vancouver’s psyche and love of ‘trauma’. Locally made feature films always seem to be about miserable people doing terrible things to each other. Oddly enough the short films made here are often comedies. I wonder what happens in between?

These are just quibbles of course. The locals are always putting this town down. ‘Oh it’s a no fun town’ well clearly that is just not true, and if they mean the clubs and pubs close too early, that too is changing (sadly reverting to the drunken days of old Gastown with Government sanction and no doubt kickbacks from the brewers). This is actually an all-fun town. Who has time for any work when there is so much to see and do?
This is a town punching will above its weight in cultural and other spheres. From eye cancer treatments from QLT, electric power for cars from Ballard, inspirational architecture from Ericson and Thom and others, and talented crews that keep the movies coming back here year after year, this is a town with style and poise. A city with a future.

I read somewhere that the average cruise liner passenger spends just 20 minutes in the city. Not only is that crazy, but what they should really do is get off the damn boat and stay here a week, a month, get to know a city that isn’t scared of dreaming. Sure you can come here for the walking and skiing, but if you really want to be exhausted, get involved in the Arts. It’s a killer.
Halloween is coming. See you the other side of October.

© Sam North

Oh yes you can read a feature by myself about Vancouver in November Elle Decor
(New York Edition) You see why it's such a fun town to visit.

There's lots of new fiction in Dreamscapes Take a look.

It’s Section 9 in
the N.Y. Sunday Times

Sam North
Previous Editorials:
The Kids stay in the picture
Hacks visits the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma
- August
Hot Sweats in a Cold Read at the Anza Club- August
LIFE ON FAST FORWARD - Vancouver on speed -September
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island -
Off Fringe
ROUNDHOUSE is celebrating its FIFTH ANNIVERSARY. - September
Arts in the Community is for real -
Time to enrol
Vancouver Film Festival Trade Show report

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