Sunday, November 28, 2010

The International Police of Solemnity

It is such a satisfying feeling when a band that you have been following for years discovers their true sound and fully exploits their strengths. I felt this way when I listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeah's It's Blitz! last year, and I felt the same way two weeks ago when my earholes were first filled with the melancholy rock of Interpol's recent self-titled album.

Interpol has always been on my radar, since Turn on the Bright Lights in 2002. The band's taut bass throb and snare-happy drums have consistently contrasted harmoniously with Paul Banks' English-twinged baritone. Banks' deliberate and troubled vocals have coated Interpol's catchiest hits (such as 'Obstacle 1' and 'Slow Hands') with a dusting of pessimism and cynicism. Sometimes this worked (see: Turn on the Bright Lights), and sometimes this resulted in songs peppered with inauthenticity and clashing aesthetic systems (see: Antics). Interpol has often tried to fight their dark edge, especially with Antics, but they simply embraced it with their most recent release. They seemed to publicly (and perhaps subconsciously) acknowledge this fact by choosing not to title their most recent work. The guitars and keyboards reflect Banks' style on this album, and while this does make for an oft-dispiriting outing, one can clearly identify that the band is finally clicking on all levels: musically, intellectually, and emotionally. Good riddance, Carlos Dengler.

Interpol will be at Vancouver's luxurious Orpheum Theatre on January 27, 2011. I snagged some pre-sale tickets, but - like most everything in Vancouver these days - it is now sold out. Craigslist?

Keywords: "Vancouver blog", "Vancouver concert listings", "Alex Dawkins"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Confit in a Community Centre

This little French bistro has been in my neighbourhood for more than ten years, yet I have never found a time or excuse to dine here in the past. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I have subconsciously avoided it because the idea of enjoying a competently prepared calmars frits or salade de chevre chaud in a community centre is not at all appealing. Salade de Fruits is located in Vancouver's French Cultural Centre, and many people enjoy the unpretentious, authentic feel of the restaurant.

I finally managed to dine here last week with my co-workers. It is funny how my opinion of the meal has evolved over the past few days. During dinner, I was impressed with the unrelentingly French servers, the table d'hotes options, and the casual atmosphere of the space. Of the ten entrees that were ordered, I only heard negative reviews for one of them. I ordered the large duck confit, which consisted of two legs atop a subtle cassis sauce, mash, and a tiny vegetable tipi composed of crisp asparagus, snap peas, acorn squash, and broccoli. Although I am obsessed with duck confit and would probably order this as my last meal on death row, the asparagus almost stole the show. It was cooked (blanched) perfectly. I should note, however, that I did like the confit at Les Faux Bourgeois and Jules more when considering portions and flavour.

A day or two after dinner at Salade de Fruits, I kept thinking about how odd the dining room at the Cultural Centre was. Once the Centre shuts down for the day, tables are simply put out into the lobby. I was the furthest one can get from the kitchen, at the head of our table, and I was practically sitting in the dark library of the Centre, which connects to the lobby. In hindsight, the idea of consuming $20-$25 entrees in a québécois community centre just isn't as appealing as enjoying a meal in a cozy, hip restaurant such as Les Faux or Jules. I went from loving the Salade to liking the Salade. So sad.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Terry Would Agree

A few weeks ago, BC's Pavilion Corporation announced that the Terry Fox Monument at Vancouver's distinctive BC Place Stadium will be destroyed as part of the renovations that are taking place at the venue.
I am surprised by my happiness over this destructive decision, for I have a nostalgic side that is comforted by the preservation of monuments and heritage structures. However, I always thought that the BC Place Terry Fox Monument clashed with the stadium, reeked of Eighties imprudence, and did very little to  celebrate Terry's life.
I visited the BC Sports Hall of Fame about a year ago because a friend of mine was working there with the Marketing department. It was the first time I had been, despite growing up fifteen minutes away from the attraction, and I was surprised by some of the items that they possess. They have Rick Hansen's original Man in Motion wheelchair, and the artificial leg that Terry Fox so depended on during the Marathon of Hope. I am not a very emotional person - I didn't cry during Life is Beautiful and I've been told I have "intimacy issues" more than once - but I did get teary-eyed over the Terry Fox display at the Hall of Fame.  As mentioned, this display is built around Terry's prosthesis. I suppose my reaction was primarily due to the fact that Terry's courage, persistence, and unnatural determination were transferred from Canadian legend and historical fact to a single, tangible object that was then right in front of me. Terry Fox is the Chico Mendes or Clara Barton or Sadako Sasaki of Canada, actively working towards improving the world in the obdurate face of pain, and death. He deserves more than a cheesy, small, narrow, tiled archway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bentwood Boxes for Charity

Get the holiday season kick-started with a visit to Lattimer Gallery's Open House. For over twenty years, Lattimer Gallery has welcomed clients and the public to swing by in early December for some festive refreshments and a browse of the new trends in Northwest Coast Native art. This year, the Open House is on December 3rd between 5pm-8pm. This is a great opportunity to meet some of BC's top First Nations artists, catch up with old friends, see new faces, and maybe even start some of that Christmas shopping!

This year, the Open House will coincide with a charity event that Lattimer Gallery is hosting in cooperation with BC Women's Hospital. 20 artists will be donating 20 different and original steam-bent boxes for sale via silent auction, and Lattimer Gallery will be donating 100% of the generated funds to charity. The auction will run from November 27th to December 10th, and all of the boxes will be posted on the gallery's website if you can't make it in person.

Keywords: 'Lattimer Gallery', 'Alex Dawkins', 'bentbox Vancouver'