Thursday, August 28, 2008

The World Goes 'Round review

My review appears in this week's WE.

The World Goes 'Round

By Andrea Warner

Responsible for some of the naughtiest musical theatre of the 20th century (Cabaret, Chicago), as well as some of the most poignant (Flora the Red Menace, The Happy Time), John Kander and Fred Ebb’s songs are the perfect fodder for a musical revue.

Debuting off Broadway in 1991, The World Goes ’Round comprises a liberal cross-section of Kander and Ebb’s songs, jazz-handing with easy grace between sassy and sad, wise-ass and wistful. It’s a marvelous match for some of the big voices behind Another Musical Co-Op, the young talent pool responsible for this invigorating and inspired staging.

The opening number and the revue’s titular song, performed by Sarah Gay, starts off with quiet restraint and crescendos to a bold, breathtaking finish, and it serves as a preview of the unintended gender war among the cast, which the women win hands down. (This might be due to Kander and Ebb’s proclivity for writing songs suited to their muses, Liza Minelli and Chita Rivera.) The men, Jeremy Crittenden and Timothy Gledhill, though funny, charming, and blessed with pleasant pitch, can’t quite keep pace.

Gay has been saddled with the majority of the torch-burners and ballads, and her voice shakes the small room. Some of Gay’s best moments permit her to flex her comedic chops (mostly opposite the wonderful Alison MacDonald), particularly during “Class.” MacDonald, a playful pixie with brilliant timing and a troublemaking twinkle in her eye, opens the second act with a rooftop-raising “Ring Them Bells.” Jennifer Neumann does sexy and sweet with a pro’s approach to swingin’ hips, but her quiet voice can’t meet the demands of “All That Jazz,” faring better during “A Quiet Thing.”

Some of this revue’s strongest moments are the ensemble ones, which is a testament to the cast’s kinetic chemistry. The choreography is inventive, owing much to the great Bob Fosse, but also updated by director Shane Snow and Melissa Young, and staged with clever props (rollerblades, bells, some cute advertising) to beautifully meld past and present. A great world to watch go ’round again and again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pride scam story

My story about a possible "Pride" scam appears online at Xtra!

Possible Pride scam
Imperial Cruise Vacations allegedly misrepresenting itself as Vancouver Pride

By Andrea Warner

People who signed up to win a free vacation at the Vancouver Pride Festival Aug 3 received phone calls Aug 12 from a group that identified itself at least once as "Vancouver Pride."

Representatives of Imperial Cruise Vacations then asked Pride goers for their credit card numbers to charge a $299-per-person promotional fee to secure a luxury trip to the Bahamas.

A google search on the company's telephone number uncovered hundreds of complaints from other people who had received similar calls from Imperial Cruise Vacations, including people who had attended Toronto Pride in July.

When contacted by Xtra West, representatives from the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) launched an immediate investigation.

Within a few hours, the VPS received three additional reports from people who received similar calls, and posted the following advisory on its website:

"It has come to our attention that 'Vacation and Cruise' or 'Imperial Cruise Vacations,' one of the Pride Festival Vendors, offered a chance to win a free vacation by filling out a form. This information is now being used as part of a telemarketing program to offer a trip at a reduced cost and are asking for credit card information," the VPS website states.

"We have been told that this group is representing themselves as being from Vancouver Pride but the Vancouver Pride Society has no affiliation with this group known as 'Vacation and Cruise' or 'Imperial Cruise Vacations.'

"For your protection and security, the VPS highly recommends that you do not give out your credit card information to this organization," the advisory concludes.

Despite repeated calls, no one from Imperial Cruise Vacations could be reached for comment.

Mark Fernandes, a communications person with the Better Business Bureau in Vancouver, confirmed that Imperial Cruise Vacations, also known as Imperial Majesty Cruiselines and Ramada Plaza Resorts, has received 1150 consumer complaints in the last three years. The BBB in Florida, where the company is based, has given it a failing grade of F.

"Sometimes what seems like a great free promotion isn't necessarily free at all," Fernandes says. "If you're supposedly winning something for free, why would you have to provide your credit card information or any kind of billing information?"

Fernandes encourages the public to take the time to read the fine print, even at something fun like Pride.

VPS treasurer Ken Coolen contacted Imperial and says the company maintains it's running a legitimate business and that there is nothing criminal about making phone calls. Const Jana McGuinness of the Vancouver Police Department warns that the police department's hands are often tied in these situations where a company has secured private information from willing participants.

"If a person gives their number out voluntarily then it becomes much harder to prove a fraud," McGuinness says. "Best advice is to not give your credit card number out online or over the phone unless you can be absolutely sure that the organization you are dealing with is reputable."

As for Imperial Cruise Vacations allegedly misrepresenting itself as Vancouver Pride, Coolen admits, "It becomes a situation we can't really control."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tift Merritt interview

My Tift Merritt story appears in this week's Charleston City Paper.
At home in New York, the Carolinas, or Paris, songwriter Tift Merritt expands her repertoire from her country-rock roots to a more sophisticated pop sound

At home in New York, the Carolinas, or Paris, songwriter Tift Merritt expands her repertoire from her country-rock roots to a more sophisticated pop sound

Tift Merritt
By Andrea Warner

She's a simple alt-country singer who hails from North Carolina and lives in New York, but moved to Paris for a while. Got all that?

The last few years have been critical ones for Tift Merritt. In the late '90s, she collaborated with N.C. alt-country band Two Dollar Pistols and formed her own country-influenced pop-rock group called The Carbines with three Tarheel scene vets — drummer Zeke Hutchins, guitarist Greg Readling, and bassist Jay Brown. She won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at the 2000 Merlefest Music Festival in N.C. Her 2004 album, Tambourine, was nominated for a Grammy. She released Home Is Loud, a live album, in 2005, and appeared on a round of late night talk shows with the big two, David Letterman and Jay Leno. Not bad for a Texas-born woman who never had any real plans to be a songwriter and admits to wearing out her 45 of the Beach Boy's "Help Me Rhonda."

Merritt's also expanded her repertoire to include journalism. She considers her new monthly radio show The Spark with Tift Merritt "an excuse to corner people I admire and ask them about their lives." The show debuted this past January and airs monthly. It is available as streaming audio on Marfa Public Radio's website ( and as a podcast.

Earlier this year, Merritt released her new album, Another Country, which she wrote during her sojourn in France. Anyone who wants a glimpse inside Merritt's temporary relocation need only press play on Another Country. It's not much of a map of gay Paris, but it hints at the powerfully haunting beauty that comes from isolating yourself away from the comforts, and trappings, of home.

Merritt checked in from New York before embarking on a tour that keeps her on the road until mid-October. But she still longs for Paris.

"Paris is definitely an art city, and it's a place where people are working very hard on caring for the small details, the nuances," Merritt says. "I think sometimes in the U.S., we get carried away with mass media and mass marketing, and it was just really nice to be a part of a feeling in a city where taking the time to do something small and worthwhile is absolutely legitimate."

Merritt's love for the Most Romantic City in the World dates back to her days as a student there. But even she admits she was unprepared for the torrent of songs that flowed from her when she arrived for this last stay.

"A lot of people go as a romantic getaway with their husband, or go shopping, or eat at a particular restaurant," Merritt laughs. "I sort of had this nice, romantic, bohemian adventure by myself, which is really a writer's paradise."

Merritt's reluctant to give away any secrets about her approach to songwriting, but she admits that she uses her eyes to take in the world around her when she writes. She's also reluctant to name a favorite song off Another Country.

"That's like asking me which of my kids is my favorite!" she says. "I feel like the French song is particularly about that time. I loved writing the translation and the nuances of language. That's part of the reason I loved being in France and trying to speak French."

With her feet firmly back on U.S. soil, she's been able to focus her attention on prepping for her tour and trying her hand as an interviewer for The Spark. This is where her diverse tastes are truly on display: her interview roster begins with novelist Nick Hornby in January and continues to July with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein. Merritt recalls how her frustration was the "spark" that got it all started.

"Sometimes I'll fall in love with an artist's work and, like we all do, I'd go and Google them, and I was really sad sometimes by the very commercial publicity speak. Or very gallery-minded art speak," Merritt says. "There was very little that was really emotional and spoke freely and truly about the struggles that an artist has."

Another part of her motivation was her desire to educate up-and-coming young artists.

"They need to know that we are not perfectly formed people, sprung forth with perfectly coiffed hair and clothing," Merritt says. "The spotlight is really artifice and making good art is not really about that."

But there's also that slightly indulgent part where Merritt gets to stalk artists she admires — and fingers crossed — she gets to fulfill her own Christmas wish.

"I have this idea, and I shouldn't tell you, but I will," she giggles. "I really want to interview Santa Claus about the art of delivering all his packages. I think Tom Waits would be a great stand in for Santa Claus, don't you?"

Review of the Rocker

My review of The Rocker appears in this week's WE.

Rainn Wilson, of TV sitcom The Office, makes his debut in a lead big-screen role in The Rocker.

Rainn Wilson, of TV sitcom The Office, makes his debut in a lead big-screen role in The Rocker.


By Andrea Warner

2 stars (out of 5)

How is it that five of the funniest lines to come off of the big screen this year could occur in the midst of such a woefully limp rock-out-with-your-cock-out Peter Pan comedy? (Example: “You’re like Vin Diesel wrapped in a Jeremy Piven pie.”)

The Rocker is Rainn Wilson’s first chance to prove he can move out from behind Dwight’s desk on The Office. Here he plays Fish, the rocker in question, who has never been able to get past being ditched by his hair-metal band, Vesuvius, 20 years ago. Wilson does a nice job conveying a seething stockpile of regret and blame, and he’s also game to prance around naked or in his underwear at every opportunity, proudly showing off his paunch. Matt (the sweetly affable Josh Gad) recruits his uncle Fish to join his teenage band, A.D.D., to play the prom. Next thing you know, the band is a YouTube sensation and an overnight success, and so must overcome the usual rock-movie clichés: growing up, selling out, teen angst, and insecurity. A.D.D.’s music is featured prominently throughout, all but defying the film’s title. (To be fair, High School Musical was already taken.)

Unfortunately, the laughs are few and far between, and the credit (and the blame) has to be spread equally between writers Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky, and director Peter Cattaneo. Each of their resumés is chock-a-block with great hits (The Larry Sanders Show, The Simpsons, The Full Monty) and sweeping misses (The Naked Truth), and each seems to fall for the misguided notion that it’s important for a comedy to wave its lessons around like football fans with foam fingers — and then beat us to death with those fingers.

Neil Halstead interview

My interview with Neil Halstead appears in this week's WE.

Neil Halstead on bands, Brushfire, and beards

By Andrea Warner

Neil Halstead’s been around long enough as a working musician — almost 20 years now — to see his whole world come full circle: His first band, Slowdive, which broke up in 1995, was one of the prime exponents of the early-’90s “shoegazer” movement, whose neo-psychedelic sound is currently enjoying a revival among a spate of up-and-comers. Taking a break from current band Mojave 3, Halstead’s latest solo disc, the folky, acoustic-based Oh! Mighty Engine, was released by Brushfire Records, Jack Johnson’s label. Halstead’s taking the opportunity to play a few solo shows while opening for Johnson on his North American tour, and he checked in with WE from Kansas.

Do you remember the first music you heard that really inspired you to write songs?

Well, I suppose from a really young age I was a huge Beatles fan; from 12 or 13, I would just play Beatles records over and over again. The bands that really captured me as a teenager were the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Smiths, the Cure, and then, later on, bands like My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr.

I’m always interested in hearing about people’s reactions when they first picked up a guitar or sang in front of people.

I was always really shy and still am, I suppose, but it was always a bit of an effort for me to get on stage and play guitar. I would imagine the first time it was probably a very uncomfortable experience — probably for me and for everyone else.

A lot of the interviews I’ve been reading about you lately have been asking you about the re-emergence of shoegazer, but a lot of music tends to borrow from each other and influence other sounds. How do you feel about that?

Well, uh, I don’t really care. (laughs) I think it’s great if people are influenced by Slowdive or whatever. I mean, it’s nice if we’ve influenced some bands that are around today. And the stuff I’ve heard sounds great. I like it, but it’s not something I’m keeping a close eye on, I have to say.

How is touring on your own different than being part of a band?

To be honest, it can get quite lonely. The last solo [album] I did, I did three tours in America, and I think if you are completely on your own, I found it a bit depressing. I try to make sure I go out with at least one other person now. Oddly enough, it was different in Europe: I did a tour by train in Europe, on my own, and it was sort of more romantic rather than depressing. But there’s a fine line between the two.

Are there a lot of differences being on Jack Johnson’s label, compared to what you’ve experienced before?

I guess the main difference is that you’re on a label with friends, whereas before it was just kind of a business thing. With Brushfire, we’ve known these guys for a long time and are basically buddies, and it feels more low-key but more fun.

You’ve been called one of Britain’s greatest songwriters. What do those kinds of accolades mean to you?

Um, well, I always get weird ones. Like, one I got was “Britain’s best-kept secret,” and I just kind of think, well, why write that about someone? It’s kind of nice, but I’d prefer not to be a best-kept secret, you know? It’s nice if you get good reviews and stuff, but I feel like I’ve been doing it a really long time, and I’ve always just done it because I can’t do anything else.

I was looking at pictures of you from a few years ago versus now, and the most prominent feature that seems to have changed is this beard. I was wondering what your beard says about your record.

(Laughs) I don’t know. I’ve just let myself go, basically. For me, beards are like a seasonal thing — it’s a winter thing, and this one just strayed over to summer, and I’m at that point where I can’t really shave it off right now because I’ll just look silly, because it has a big white patch under it, so I’ll have to see it through for a while. 

Grimm Tales

My review of Grimm Tales appears in this week's WE.

‘Grimm Tales’ mines the macabre in children’s lit

By Andrea Warner

They say youth is wasted on the young. Try telling that to the innovative crew behind Grimm Tales, a loved and lauded play from Victoria, who are now chasing each other from scene to scene through one of Vancouver’s most challenging new “venues.” Perhaps only a fledgling theatre company like ITSAZOO would be so ballsy as to stage a two-hour walking play through the manicured but steep terrain at Queen Elizabeth Park. (Word to the wise: wear comfortable shoes to fully embrace this wacky forest of fun.)

Grimm Tales, written by Sebastien Archibald, who is also part of the ensemble, revisits the most traumatic, familiar, and eyebrow-raising of fairytales. The tales on their own are often macabre and scary — complex lessons in morality, ethics, and evil. It’s like CNN, but with better writing.

In Grimm Tales’ twisted take, Hansel and Gretel are tour guides through the Enchanted Woods, a dark place that’s home to a multitude of strange people, all of them looking for a happy ending. Funny, cute, and nicely paced, it works like a well-oiled machine, entertaining adults and kids alike. Under Chelsea Haberlin’s direction, the talented cast keeps everything moving at breakneck speed.

Ryan Hesp’s Prince craves adventure and has an insatiable eye for the ladies, constantly finding himself engaged to needy princesses. Hesp brings great moments of humour to his arrogant and entitled alter-ego. Peter Carlone is suitably creepy as Fred, the sinister fellow based on the story of Bluebeard, who warns his ladylove not to look inside his secret room. Carlone also plays band member Donkey with a gleeful dazedness. Ingrid Hansen’s physical transformation into the Cat is a neat combination of hands curling into paws and long legs moving with feline agility.

If watching Colby Wilson and Katie Hood interact as German siblings Hansel and Gretel doesn’t bring a smile to your face, check for a heartbeat — their enthusiasm is contagious. Wilson’s comedic timing and off-handed improv style elicit bursts of unrestrained laughter, particularly when catching the small bits he mutters offhandedly. His wide, innocent eyes and loose attachment to his accent are incredibly charming. Hood is a tiny terror, and she perfectly captures the older-sister vibe, half-heartedly attempting to reel in Hansel’s impulsive whimsy, playing the perfect straight woman. She gets to show off her kick-ass girl power as well, as she questions why only pretty girls get happy endings before facing off against her evil stepmother in the candy-coated gingerbread house.

Some of the fairytale adaptations are particularly ingenious: The Princess and the Frog is given a modern twist to mock society’s predilection for reality television — it’s knowing and clever without being too moralistic. The Bluebeard adaptation is a curious inclusion, since it’s unlikely to ring familiar to most people, but it’s so supremely creepy and dark that it stands out as one of the play’s most memorable moments. Plus, some of the female characters that get short shrift in the original versions of these stories are now empowered 21st-century types. (But only some. Others are firmly rooted in a permanently shallow state.)

The ragtag group of musicians that follows the action of each vignette make for a great addition to Grimm Tales. The band is composed of animals casually referred to as Puss, Buns, Cock, and Ass (though not credited as such in the program), and it’s this sly combination of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll that glides over little ones’ heads and right into the heart of the dirty 12-year-old inside us all.

That lack of finesse sometimes extends to Grimm Tales’ unsubtle social commentary, which needs more refinement so that the play feels less like a PSA. Set in a war-torn Enchanted Woods, the peasants are starving while the King feasts. The King has also paved over nature, reared a shallow and shrill daughter, and boasts a Southern accent. And the band’s politics, while funny, segues into a ‘Don’t Do Worms’ (which is to say, drugs) campaign that feels a bit tired.

Grimm Tales is an eventful walk in the woods, made far more interesting by its myriad moments of magic and malice — a welcome end to the summer theatre season. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


My review of Metamorphoses appeared in last week's WE.

By Andrea Warner

Based on Ovid’s poem of the same name, Metamorphoses packs 13 myths into 85 minutes — an infinitely more entertaining and intelligent approach than your average copy of CliffsNotes. It captivated New York audiences with its modern adaptation of classic stories, winning a Best Director Tony award in 2002.

It’s a tough and challenging play, but director Christine Willes gets the majority of her young cast to meet the challenge with the ferocity of a scorned Aphrodite. That is to say, these kids are kicking ass and taking names — and they mostly do it all soaking wet.

It’s impossible to talk further about the actors’ portrayals without first discussing the inventive and seemingly impossible requirement of a medium-sized, freestanding, three-foot-tall kiddie pool at the centre of the raised wooden octagon that serves as the stage. The pool is filled with real water, and the actors move in, out, and through it with gusto, so keep in mind that there is a general splash zone of the first two rows on either side of the room. The presence and utilization of the water never feels gimmicky, either; it’s a dynamic force that adapts with remarkable ease to every myth.

Tasked with the challenge of bringing iconic characters to life, sometimes in as little as 45 seconds, the cast is composed of recent grads of the William Davis Centre. There are only 10 actors for 85 parts, so there’s a minimal amount of time to make an impact with the audience, yet several performances resonate deeply.

Of the actors who show the most promise, Chris Ireland proves he’s far more than a pretty, chiseled face within the first five minutes, as his brooding and greedy King Midas storms the stage. Robert Tadashi is magnificent as Cinyras, father of Michelle Kim’s Myrrah, who is punished by Aphrodite to lust after and seduce dear ol’ dad. Kim delves deep to bring Myrrah’s conflicting sides out under the magnifying glass of human judgment — she knows her desire is wrong, yet Kim brings such sensuality to their love scenes, one can’t help but be lost in the uncomfortable moment.

Metamorphoses’ own Achilles heel is the amount of time spent on Orpheus and Eurydice, the couple who must battle the underworld — and trust — to be reunited. Whereas most of the other segments breeze along with little dawdling, this myth gets treated to two interpretations, and it stalls the momentum. At times, the line deliveries also feel rushed, like perhaps the actor reading the material doesn’t fully understand the impact a pause or even a gesture would make in manipulating the dialogue’s context.

Think of Metamorphoses as Speed Greek, brought to you by the next generation of Vancouver theatre stars. These are mere mortals disguised as gods, and the transformation is almost flawless.

To Aug. 16 at Pacific Theatre (1420 W. 12th), 8 p.m. (Thurs.) and 7 & 9:30 p.m. (Fri.-Sat.). Tickets $18-$25 from Biz Books (302 Cordova) and

Friday, August 15, 2008

Out on Screen Turns 20

My interview with the founders and current Out On Screen staff appears in this week's Xtra! West.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 20 MORE YEARS. Out on Screen's programming director Vanessa Kwan (right, with executive director Drew Dennis) says she's thrilled with the growth of The festival. (ANDREA WARNER PHOTO)
Originally just three days long and managed by a half-dozen volunteers without any funding, Vancouver's Queer Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year when it opens Aug 14.

Though it scarcely resembles its humble origins, the festival has continued to thrive by staying true to its film fest roots while expanding its role within the queer community.

Out on Screen (OOS), the society that produces the annual festival, now boasts paid staff, year-round programming, and over 250 volunteers.

Even its modest headquarters on Hastings St are a long way from the West End living room where the original board members gathered to hash out everything from the festival lineup to gender politics.

Conceived as a cultural component for the 1990 Gay Games, OOS held its first film festival in 1989 as a trial run and is now the second oldest festival of its kind in Canada. Louise Pohl, one of OOS' founding board members, recalls some of the initial challenges.

"I hadn't done anything like this before, and then before I knew it I was president of the board," she laughs. "We had no money. In the first year we did a 24-hour Worst Movie Marathon and used the money from that for the first festival."

Chris Adkins, also part of the founding festival board, recalls the challenge of finding films for the first festival.

"There were a lot fewer outlets then," Adkins says. "It was tough finding out about films and where to get them. Now there's a huge circuit of queer film festivals."

That first festival showed just four features and a couple of short films; the first film the festival screened, Salut Victor, offered a rare glimpse of two men falling in love in a nursing home. This year, there are 110 features and shorts in the festival lineup.

Pohl says she was particularly drawn to volunteer with Out on Screen as it offered her a chance to work with both gays and lesbians towards a common goal: finding films to reflect as many queer realities as possible.

"It was lesbians and gay men working together for the first time, and I think there's a lot of polarizing that goes on in the community," she says. "I wanted to do something that would cross that divide."

Another founding member, Graham Peat, recalls the difficulty in uniting these voices under one festival.

"It was a challenge because there were never as many films made back then for women or by women about lesbian issues as there were about gay men, who had more power, more cameras, and everything else," Peat says.

As the community became more united in its efforts to promote the arts, there was also an internal shift towards stabilizing the administration, taking OOS to the next level by providing more opportunities for community involvement and engagement. Having survived its first five years without funding, OOS received its first grant in 1993, beginning its gradual evolution into a multi-faceted arts and culture organization.

Vanessa Kwan, OOS' current director of programming, says she's thrilled by the festival's expansion into workshops, master classes, performances, parties, visual arts shows and musical events.

"Film is a really great medium, and we kind of treat it as a gateway to all the other things that artists are doing in tandem with their film practices," Kwan says. "In terms of pushing the medium forward, we're really interested in seeing all those other art forms that intersect with film in a meaningful way."

In 2004, OOS launched the Out in Schools project, bringing independent queer film into high schools. The Queer History Project started in 2007, commissioning works that will help document local queer voices and their stories. On Aug 14, the history project's online component will launch as an interactive website where queer people will be invited to share videos, audio, photos, and other art forms.

"It's the idea that the community will be able to recreate, recapture, re-imagine, and explore queer histories," says Drew Dennis, OOS' executive director. "[The community] doesn't really have an oral history that's passed down from generation to generation. Very rarely are we born into queer families."

Pohl too is grateful to see OOS continued expansion. "It just makes my heart warm getting the program every year," she says. " It was all so grassroots compared with how it is now. It was a lot of hard work and a very steep learning curve. We were there because we really wanted this to happen."

Dennis and Kwan are equally committed to making it happen, and neither wants to dwell too long basking in the glory of OOS' 20th anniversary. It's "important to think about the next 20 years now," says Dennis.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What does the rainbow mean to you?

My streeter at Pride appears in this edition of Xtra! West.

Interviews and photos by Andrea Warner


What does the rainbow mean to you?

It makes me crave Skittles... No, it's a symbol of Pride worldwide, and a symbol of diversity.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

I wouldn't like that. I like that we have a section where everyone knows that's the gay area of Vancouver, but where everyone is welcome.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

Diversity. I used to live in the West End, and I think it's a very good community here. Lots of possibility.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

It's a little bit of a shame.

We came over here, and it's the best feature of Davie St.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

Sienna: It means Kaleigh!

Kaleigh: She's my straight supporter.

Sienna: I have a lot of gay friends, and I just support them all.

Kaleigh: The rainbow —it's such a bright, not easily unnoticed symbol. It's almost like the symbol itself is refusing to stay in the closet.

It's out there, it's a proud colour, it's there! The flag means being out there with who you are, not caring what anyone else says.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

Sienna: I'd be very upset, I'd be confused. Why would they bring them down? Would they not want to support it?

Kaleigh: Why don't you just rename the street and change all the stores? It wouldn't be Davie. Come on.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

It's a lively sign of integrating people. When I see it, I know it expresses fairness.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

It really doesn't worry me too much, just as long as we know what Davie St's about.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

By the end of Pride season, if I see another rainbow flag, I want to scream. That being said, if they were to come down from Davie and all the other streets across Canada, it would be like taking away our sense of belonging. It says this is our place, this is our space.

It's hopefully a safe, open, accepting community.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

Ziad: Multiculturalism. Everybody getting together, literally all the colours.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

Ziad: That would be a bad thing. It really tells people, when they're walking up the road, that they're in the Village as opposed to any other part of town. It would be no different than having BC Place remove all the sports stuff, same with Chinatown, same with Main St. Get rid of one sign, get rid of them all, otherwise there's no distinction. It's just greater Vancouver.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

Marlas: Diversity, different flavours, different cultures, different colours. Not just straight or gay but all different types of people.

Shannon: It means unity, diversity and harmony for all people, all colours.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

Marlas: I love them up there.

I think it's great for when you walk into a new city it tells you right away that it's a gay-friendly community, and I would find that very welcome if I wasn't from here.

Shannon: I would be really sorry if the rainbows came down. I like that they create an identity for the community as a gay-friendly and distinct neighbourhood. I also think that this makes a city culturally rich.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

It means all queer people together in solidarity.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

I like that they're there, but I don't mind if they're represented in a slightly different way. I think they should be there frequently, but I don't think we own the neighbourhood. I think we need to live along with everyone who lives there.


What does the rainbow mean to you?

To be proud, and it actually makes me smile every day.

How would you feel if the rainbows came down on Davie St?

I think it symbolizes the community, so I think it would detrimental to the community. I feel that if people come down here, they know that they're in somewhat of a safer environment than travelling in Burnaby for instance, where there is no rainbow flag.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


My review of Amal appears in this week's WE.

By Andrea Warner
4 stars

The warmth of the lovely Indian fairytale, Amal, floods out from every corner of the screen. The natural light, a beautiful song of lament, the kind eyes of it’s titular hero—this is a film that hugs you with virtually every frame.

Less a man than a tall, bearded saint, Rupinder Nagra’s Amal is a simple auto rickshaw driver in New Dheli who’s carrying on his father’s legacy of hard work for a fair price. His work ethic and character impress the an old stodgy grump disguised as a vagrant, played with delightful vigor by Naseeruddin Shah, who is secretly a very rich man looking for a single shred of humanity to believe in. His chance meeting with Amal has the effect of a butterfly flapping its wings—soon everyone is affected.

Amal’s stubbornly strong principles keep him chastely admiring his beautiful customer, Koel Purie’s Pooja, a no-nonsense businesswoman who could learn a thing or two about kindness. When Amal is involved in an accident where a young girl is involved in a hit and run, he begins working overtime to afford her hospital bills. This sets off Amal’s own unusual journey as he tries to find a way to keep up with the expenses.

There’s something very special about a film that celebrates values over money without succumbing to preachy rhetoric. Amal takes plenty of sharp left turns in its story, but the surprises are miniature studies in sociology and the goodness of people. It’s Chai for the tortured soul.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

My review of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 appears in this week's WE.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
By Andrea Warner
3 stars

Gasps, groans, and collective “awwwwwwwws”—these are the sounds of tween girls hearts alternately breaking, bursting, and ballooning with love at the infectiously fun and flawed return of the four best friends who magically fit one pair of truly hideous looking but downright durable jeans.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 picks up the summer after the girls first year of college. Each one has gone on to great schools, living out their dreams—these are the role models every liberal parent dreams about. Almost.

Alexis Bledel’s Lena is trying to deal with love trouble (a decidedly grown-up trouble, so parents of young kids be aware) while Blake Lively’s Bridget is dealing with the ramifications of her mother’s depression and suicide. Amber Tamblyn’s Tibby is saddled with the most ridiculous storyline (again, parents, if you don’t want to address birds and the bees, see something else) whereas America Ferrara’s Carmen is facing the bigger reality of the loneliness and insecurity that often shapes one’s first year away from home.

The actors are a charming group, and surviving the bridge between high school and college provides material that’s emotional, funny, and sweet. But, the film goes on forever, and some of the plot points (going back and forth to Greece is as easy as going to the store for milk) stretch the already thin confines of believability. But, one thing is clear—magical pants, boys, even dreams may come and go, but best friends are forever.