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THE NAKED TRUTH
Various manifestations of nudity in society
// Gurpreet Kambo

TO BE A MILLIONAIRE
Arts Club's High Society provides window to the wealthy life
//Samantha Thompson



As I sat down in the ever-elegant Stanley Theatre, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would this portrayal of the classic musical cause me to bob my head along in time with the music? Or would it fall short, instead leaving me to flip through the program to find out when the intermission was? As the curtains slid back, revealing an illustrious stage, I had high hopes for this production. The first act opened with the elegant Lord mansion, illustrating the house help cheerfully introducing what exactly it means to be in a “high society”. The mansion and its gardens all encourage a theme of soft ivories and greens, with tasteful flowers and furniture pulling in each set to create an eye-pleasing scene. The Arts Club had really done it again in terms of visual production, leaving no cost spared in creating a true stage delight.

It isn’t long before the audience was introduced to Dexter (played by Todd Talbot) who promptly stole the show, and the audience's collective heart. You will no doubt find yourself hoping he and Tracy find romantic happiness, from the moment he invites himself to tea right up until the energetic finale. Talbot fills the stage with charm, and maintains strong chemistry with each of the actors in every scene. You can't help but cheer for him and everything he does, even though he does serve as a sort of antagonist for the plot.

The portrayal of each of the characters provided depth, so that it was as though you knew each one intimately, beyond what the script had given you. All of the actors were clearly passionate about their roles, which is what provided a certain level of realism to the story. Even though most of us are unable to partake in the life of a high society on a regular basis, this production provides a quirky and comedic window into that different, debonair way of living.

Fast-moving with a satisfactory combination of singing and dialogue - this is a musical, after all - this production of High Society will keep you engaged from beginning to end.  Every song was convincingly sung with the perfect emotion – energy where it was celebration, and sadness when it was about heartbreak. As a result, the performance will have you in both laughter and tears within mere minutes. The Cole Porter standards that got their name in the film musical pack just as much punch with today's live audience. You will reminisce with age-old classics like "True Love" and "You're Sensational!", and tap your foot along with "She's Got That Thing!" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Of course, there's also the hilarious "Say It With Gin" which could easily become your Friday-night theme song. Although it is certainly difficult to live up to the musical talents of Sinatra and Crosby, the cast stood on their own as an excellent musical ensemble. It has shown once again that the Arts Club has a phenomenal skill for producing top-notch musicals.

And as you exit the beautiful Stanley, you will travel home continuously humming the annoyingly catchy "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?", wishing you could return to the addictive world of High Society.


//Samantha Thompson, copy editor

COSTUMES, CRUMPING, CHEERLEADERS
Putting the gold in Santigold
//JJ Brewis

For those of us without the means to afford full stadium rock shows, we are often treated to the dive bar treatment, or a straight up four-piece band without any bells and whistles. For those in the crowd at the Commodore Ballroom's Santigold performance, the audio-visual masterpiece may have been a bit overwhelming.  

Santigold, or "Santi White" on paper, treated her capacity Commodore Ballroom audience to the most colourful club-sized show she could have possibly dreamed up, complete with a pair of mirrored dancers, elaborate costume changes, and an on-stage dance party featuring 50 or so of the crowd's most excited fans.

It was impossible not to want to dance to Santigold's high energy set, which was a great spin on her already captivating album tracks. The show was like a series of individualized live music videos, each catered to the specific song with specialized choreography, an intense and almost overwhelming light show, and the odd appearance by two band members in a giant pony costume. 

The songs themselves seem to be a witch's brew of old school hip hop, 90s R&B, some drum and bass, reggae, jungle, and anything else that can be crammed in. More interestingly, each song seems to be less than three minutes long, making the genre collisions all the more impressive. On the single "L.E.S. Artistes", White commanded the crowd with a big vocal that would easily be at home on American Idol or the like, a sincere technical range with a certain flavour that is certainly distingushable from any other vocalist out there. But she's not keen to just sit comfortably belting out big choruses, instead switching it up with the urban-tinged "Creator", even rapping on "Unstoppable". 

Meanwhile, Santigold's cheerleader-esque dancers mime sledgehammers in unison, shake their booty with rigorous speed, and deliver a stadium-ready routine complete with pom-poms and flips. The routine is matched by Santigold's entire band, outfitted in African hats and multicoloured striped outfits, adding to the international flavour of the show. The musicians only lose their costumes momentarily, when the white pony costume is paraded on stage, trotting around for an entire song. 

The set had a lot going on, but specific themes lasted for one song and then were quickly tossed out for the next, like the Bollywood-inspired "Freak Like Me" which had the dancers in full Indian motif, and the pulsating rave lights creating a truly cinematic experience. On the Caribbean and Calypso-flavoured take on her new single "Disparate Youth", dancers waved umbrellas behind an intense White who got up close and personal with her fans despite the massive barracade which only seemed to provoke her interaction. She them invited a massive chunk of the crowd onstage for "Creator", which led to a floodgate of on-stage sass, ass-shaking, and Facebook profile photo self-shots. Santi even got a bit Jay-Z with a cover of his "Brooklyn (We Go Hard", which seamlessly bled into her own "Shove It".

If anything, Santigold's show is ready for the big stage. With big hooks in the songs, flashy stage appeal, and a fan base growing at a rapid pace, don't be surprised if her return to Vancouver is at a much less intimate venue. Bragging rights for those in the house at this performance, naturally.


//JJ Brewis, editor-in-chief

IF IT AIN'T BROKE
Best Coast give Biltmore deja vu
//JJ Brewis





Bethany Cosentino and her Best Coast project were the biggest deal in muffled garage rock two years ago. I saw the band a total of three times within six months, yet for some reason kept coming back for more. The crunchy hazed out guitars and distorted lovelorn lyrics rode the wave that similar artists like Vivian Girls established, but capitalized on the niche with the concept album "Crazy For You" - that is if boo-hoo boyfriend-dumped-me guitar pop can be described as concept (I'm going with yes).

Needless to say, music fans are fickle as shit, but for some reason Cosentino has a certain appeal that drew in enough of a mixed demographic to sell out the show. The woman has so much charm that she's created a Twitter account for her cat Snacks and sells novelty plush recreations of him at her merch booth. That is only the quirkiest bit about her girl-next-door, which also includes a line of summer threads at Urban Outfitters and the fact that she somehow snagged Hollywood producer Jon Brion to work with her on much of the material on her new album "The Only Place". The last time I saw Best Coast at The Biltmore, a very supportive and warm Cosentino comforted my drunk ass and told me to chase after a boy who was obviously not the one for me. I may have been extremely wasted, but I'll never forget her taking the time to sit with me and attempt to cheer me up. Needless to say, her album became my heartbreak go-to, shelved tightly between "Jagged Little Pill" and "Tragic Kingdom" in my record collection. 

It's clear that I'm not the only one who has found some sort of personal connection with Best Coast. The album cover for "Place" depicts a brown bear hugging the state of California, giving the title specificity. And upon listen, the tracks on the album are almost a carbon copy of her first release, surf-infused sunny pop that sounds entirely vintage and charged with energy, until the downtrodden lyrics about bummers and shitty relationships set in, creating one of the most juxtaposed appeals in current music history. Given the material's shady core, it's no wonder that Brion signed on with Cosentino for this disc, given that his track record is a cornucopia of bleeding heart style artists like Fiona Apple and Rufus Wainwright. That said, the new record does showcase Brion's production values, a high budget treatment that sees Best Coast depart the garage and sit comfortably among music's A-listers. It's something to be said that the authenticity is still in tact despite such a significant production upgrade.

Yet, live, Cosentino and her well-rounded band still retain every last ounce of dive bar do-goodery that made them so great in the first place. "We played here once three years ago," she told the crowd. "A fight broke out while we were playing. We aren't really fighting music."

It probably didn't hurt that local openers Nu Sensae brought their blend of wacky punk to the much excited audience. By the time Best Coast's set arrived, it was nearly midnight, but the crowd was singing along and dancing to each lyric as if it was an excerpt of their own high school diary. Even with the new songs a bit more filled out, it was the classic break-up go-to tunes like "Our Deal" that had the couples in the audience swapping their PBRs for a soft hand hold, and the singles in the crowd clutching their newly purchased vinyl copies of "The Only Place", hoping for an answer within the tracks.


//JJ Brewis, editor-in-chief
//photos by Tom Nugent

SOUL SERMON
The church of Willis Earl Beal invites all listeners
//JJ Brewis

Fans of music could easily compare a live show to a Sunday mass. For Chicago soul star Willis Earl Beal, it's easy to make that comparison. Beal, on tour with his debut LP "Acousmatic Sorcery", hit the Biltmore stage in the least likely of ways. With a book of Bukowski poetry placed in his hand, he treated the crowd to one of his favourite poems before even introducing himself.


Beal is in flux here, early in his career. Self-admittedly, he loves writing and singing, but hates performing for crowds onstage. Yet here, in his showy singular leather glove, clearly authentic Ray Bans, and skull-emblemed t-shirt, Beal is half accomplished onstage impresario, yet retains an air of cool unmatched by most in his league. His first interaction with the crowd is when he announces, "This is a song about redemption. I wanna be redeemed. How do you be redeemed?"


After all, his brand of Chicago soul holds an undeniable appeal, with his a Capella vocals as an unreal platform for his charming tunes to reach countless demographics. Even though his career has gained momentum at a rather rapid pace, Beal's persona seems to retain his charisma. While other artists attend to big budget productions as public interest in them increases, Beal now uses his time with his audience for something a little more personal: "I used to read out of one book, now I read out of two." He then proceeds to read an extra piece of poetry for the crowd. 


Willis Earl Beal's backstory has been written about enough times to make the guy sick of his own history, and he often answers interviewers with a slight disinterest in the repeated tales. A quick online search of the man reveals a charming rags-to-riches archetype in which the once homeless Beal found a voice for himself by placing ads around town searching for a girlfriend. Recording music onto CDRs eventually got him off the streets and signed to a record label. He's modest about his past, but his path has informed him as a lyricist and artist. Despite seeming unenthused in interviews about his live show, this is what he calls "The Church of Willis Earl Beal", where the only choir is his voice, and the only accompaniment is an old school reel-to-reel player that he switches on and off at his whim. 



Yet everything about Beal-- no matter how calculated it is or isn't at this point-- comes off as cool. The toothpick he keeps in his mouth for half the performance doubles as a guitar pick when he needs one. He perches himself on a casual bar chair, leaning back with the guitar horizontally placed over his knees while he plucks away at the tune. The kid-drawing haphazard skull image on his shirt also displayed on a white flag becomes a cape halfway through the performance, as Beal's set takes itself to the iconographic pop level as possible that it may be for one man, unaccompanied onstage by any backing musicians. 


Even in his most theatrical moments, Beal breaks it down for the crowd putting it in context, finally bearing flag to his life. "It always amazes me how I get to get up here and play these long ass shows", he tells the audience. "I got into town [and] three people recognize me. We're talking about a guy working at FedEx a year ago."


But a true performer never lays it down for too long. Willis, a performer and musician at his core here, tells the crowd they're in for "something nasty". With the reel-to-reel back on, he begins a microphone stand straddling dance, and shouts "I ain't got no love" over and over, then removes his belt as a makeshift percussion instrument, slapping it against a chair until the song ends.


//JJ Brewis, Editor-in-Chief
//photos by Tom Nugent

6 BANDS, 6 VENUES, 6 DAYS
A musical endurance challenge for the ages
//JJ Brewis

M83 - Photo by Tom Nugent

For those who go to music festivals, three days in the hot pouring sun combined with as much drinking and live bands as possible is an easy formula because you're removed from your day-to-day life. For those who can't take the time off to go to such things as Coachella, we stay in town and work our jobs, letting those touring bands come through Vancouver on their way back from the festival and taking in as much music as we can on top of our 9-to-5s. And in my case, I challenged myself to take in six shows in a row, waking up at 7:00 AM each day, going to work, and heading to a show afterwards, on repeat all week, just because I thought I could. Results varied. It was like my own mini music festival week.


TANLINES
Apr. 23 at Fortune Sound Club

It's nearly midnight, and Tanlines still haven't hit the stage of the packed Fortune Sound Club. The New York City electro-rock duo, supporting their brand new debut LP, are also embarking on their first major tour. Following the group on Twitter has been a funny journey, watching as they inquire about where exactly the magic spot is to get a night's rest between Portland and San Francisco. Working out the kinks seems natural, and the band's debut Vancouver appearance was a surprising display of an ironed-out set, for the most part. After a live pre-show soundcheck, the group immediately just began their set without the usual over-the-top MC hyped intro that comes along with the average Fortune show. Drummer Jesse Cohen met the crowd with "Boy is my every thing possible that could be tired is tired. We drove from Minnesota, and we just got here." Opening their set with the Vancouver-appropriate "Rain Delay" was a good choice: the slow, bare bones track was an introduction to a set which would accelerate quickly. 



The set featured a tropical-infused blend of indie rock and electronic dance pop that had the room busting a move despite the late set time. Vocalist/guitarist Eric Emm's slightly pitchy vocals have found a nice groove placed among Cohen's computer bleeps and Frankenstein drum kit made of both regular percussion instruments and fancy computerized ones. Cohen does seem to do most of the legwork, including the in-between song banter, awkwardly addressing the crowd, "This is the part of the show where I mention Stephen Harper." A loud response of booing prodded Cohen to continue. "Not because I like him, but because I want you to know that some of us down in the United States know who your Prime Minister is!" The crowd's chanting of "USA!" prodded the duo to laugh and loosen up onstage. 


Tanlines are far catchier and dance-friendly as a live act, with Cohen looping drum beats and keys to sound like the duo is actually a full rock band, mixing hip hop, jungle, and tribal sounds. Ending their set with 'tour exclusive' "Board Slipping", the group even threw a touch of surf into the set. "We get to wake up with the knowledge that hip-hop was born in our city 30 years before hand," Cohen said. "You get to wake up in this beautiful city and look at that beautiful mountain.” Here's hoping the group will be back to stare at our mountains and pound out another set sometime soon.

SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
Apr. 24 at The Electric Owl

For those who missed out on the heyday of the '80s Industrial and goth music scene, School of Seven Bells are heavy in the renaissance of that era, capitalizing on the music which was a lifestyle to a generation of music fans. Clearly lovers of synth pioneers Depeche Mode and other similar artists, School of Seven Bells fuse pivotal aspects such as dreamy piano looping and hypnotic echo-heavy vocals into a dramatic blend that translates magically onstage. 



The ethereal stage show features band members Benjamin Curtis on guitar and Alejandra Hedeza on vocals, backed by some guest touring musicians. The result is a moody and introverted concoction, with a heavy percussion exo-skeleton that provides warmth to the tunes that may otherwise be a hazy blur of chamber choir melodies. In their all-black ensembles, the group look the part, with lace-up Doc Martins and flowy witch-like gowns adding a visual affirmation to the musical base. The songs are stylised perfectly as to solidify that everything is in place for a reason. There were no bells and whistles, and the minimal core works well for the group. Like a more focused Ladytron, the songs leave room for dancing, but have a hearty lyrical core, particularly in the aggressive "Low Times", in which Curtis wails on a crunchy guitar solo, and Hedeza spells out the word "predator" on repeat. It's slightly jarring to watch the crowd bopping along to a track that has such dark lyrical content, but the shift between the band's material and the social context is aside from the point. The eerie undertones are accompanied by grins all over the stage, though, a testament to the band's creation of the music as a sincere art piece, not a gloomy set of individuals. Sadly for the group, just as the set reached its pique, the show had come to a halt. "That's it," Curtis told the crowd. "Our songs just keep getting longer."


THE NAKED AND FAMOUS
 
Apr. 25 at The Commodore Ballroom

The first of two back-to-back performances at the esteemed Commodore Ballroom saw Auckland, New Zealand favourites The Naked and Famous completely overwhelmed by the response. After all, the first performance sold out in mere weeks, prompting the promoters to add a second date. Co-vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Thom Powers gushed to his adoring audience, thanking them: "We've been [on the road] for a long time. We don't have houses. We're homeless!" It's apparent why the group have continued their roadbound lifestyle, with the crowd faithfully bouncing to their songs, professing each lyric as if they were their own words. 



Powers' bandmate Alisa Xayalith shares vocal duty creating an interesting dynamic to their songs. In concert, the Naked and Famous are far more potent than on record. The group shines best during their pop-heavy tracks, like the MGMT-eque "Young Blood" with its catchy choruses. Deep album cuts are a lot different than the band's singles suggest, showing a less accessible, more post-punk side, like encore "Da Da Da". Accompanied by a flashy yet complimentary light show, the entire production was top notch. In total, the experience is a colourful one that has a little something for everyone. On "Punching in a Dream", Xayalith knocks it out of the park, and even the super-fans singing along halt in their tracks for a moment to hear her sing the lyrics. 


The Commodore's floor ripples with bass on the heavier tracks, causing the floor to get those legs moving, and they hardly stop for the rest of the night. When they slow it down for a moment on "The Sun", the speaking of the crowd takes away from the sharp intimate moment onstage. The performing continues to be passionate though, and when they bring it back to full blast on finale "Young Blood", the Phil Collins-esque drumming and snazzed LED lights are the perfect backdrop for both vocalists to belt this one out: a perfect middle point of aggression, passion, and chemistry. The Naked and Famous have done what they came for.

JUSTICE
Apr. 25 at The PNE Forum



Justice - Photo by Melissa Dex Guzman
"Justice are over," balked a friend who had seen their grandiose stage show back in 2007 at their 'peak'. But for those ready to write something off just because it's not brand new, I challenge you to check out even five minutes of Justice's present live show to make up your mind. Much of their set will look and sound familiar to anyone who saw them back when-- the massive light-up cross sandwiched between a too-tall stack of Marshall speakers, with the two French electro-DJs, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay, perched up top, nodding their heads. Yes, some things are best left untouched. They salute their fans like pilots before take-off, placed among a two foot storey high LED light setup, half of which is taken up by the speaker stack.  But the boys aren't content to just lay low. They'll have you think nothing has changed whatsoever-- but halfway through the set, during the group's biggest single to date, "D.A.N.C.E.", Augé leaves the massive podium for the first time, and as he enters the front of the stage, the cross slides to the right as the set splits to reveal a shockingly white-bright lit up piano and bench, leaving him to sit down and plunk out the tune's melody on the keys. 


The light production of the whole show drew from religious ceremonials, with rays of light shining down on the pair at opportune times. The set was a perfect mix of the genre-bending debut "†" and their tough follow-up, last year's surprisingly guitar heavy "Audio, Video, Disco". Just as the songs got more intense, the production matched it, like the speakers performing spiral light pulsations, then bleeding down like the brightest waterfall you've ever seen. On "Civilization", the sound goes quiet for just a few seconds-- long enough to make you scratch your head, and then like a tin can radio, it slowly creeps back in, and the hook blasts through those Marshalls louder than it was in the first place. 


Justice are not lazy. The show was like an ultimate mega-mix, and with too many songs to fit into one set, other tracks were not discarded, but used as sample loops to rile up the crowd like club favourite "We Are Your Friends" and the sing-along-friendly "DVNO" used as the lead-in for "Horsepower". While it's a bummer to not see the whole track live, it's nice to see it pave the way for something new.  In "STRESS", spinning red police lights act as an impromptu interrogation squad. As a finale, it is no shocker that the big guns come out: light-up organ pipes emerge from atop the speaker system, and the two musicians freeze for several minutes, letting the screams and cheers of fanfare wash over them. In this state, a minute feels like forever, and it's hard to wonder just what they're doing next. It's like a symbolic baby being birthed night after night for the whole tour. In the finale, for the title track from their new album, the solid light walls go dark for the first time and a combusting galaxy motif takes its place. We have arrived. It was elaborate as hell, but totally worth it. Not bad for two dudes who don't say a single word the entire time they're on stage.


M83

Apr. 26 at The Vogue Theatre

Last fall when Anthony Gonzales and his band of electro-oddball music makers brought the M83 stage show to town, the small stage of Venue felt nice and intimate for everyone in the room. But the songs may have been too anthemic for such a performance, and their comeback performance, this time at the much larger Vogue Theatre, gave a lot of breathing room for the group. Filling the space with lasers, neon tube lights, and some of the greatest electronic indie pop to sneak its way into the top 40 charts, M83 left a major mark on the Granville Street crowd. 



There were plenty of theatrics, such as the demon-masked mutant who dons the group's merchandise and music videos, reaching his hands out over the crowd like a weird prophet of misfits, foretelling the bizarre yet wonderful music about to fill the walls in mere moments. On top of sounding so intricately wonderful, M83 make it look good while they're at it, spastically beating drums from every angle, fiddling with knobs, and Gonzales getting down on his knees to slam through his guitar solos like a classic rock veteran. Amazingly, all of this happened with flailing pulsating lights commanding the stage like a Hollywood masterpiece. For "Let's have a party on this one", Gonzales professed to the crowd, before standout single "Midnight City" had everyone in the theatre, including those in the overstuffed aisles, hooting and hollering mere seconds into the song's intro. 


M83 have perfected an exact formula combining electro and rock elements. On "We Own The Sky", Gonzales and keyboardist/vocalist Morgan Kibby's voices create a unique sound together. The encore began with "Skin Of The Night", which focused on Kibby's outrageous vocal register, a testament to unique voices leaving their mark. On closer "Coulers", the entire band, including a special appearance by the saxophone player, showed a playful whimsy, as the track ends up a ten-minute long jam session, with everyone onstage smiling and laughing right until the last note.

NEON INDIAN

Apr. 27 at Venue

Saturday nights are interesting for club shows, because bands have to be on and off stage by the curfew. For Neon Indian frontman Alan Palomo, this is an excuse to squeeze in as much singing and dancing time as possible. In fact, he even left out the whole formulaic 'leave the stage for the encore' thing that has become a routine for literally every single show I've witnessed. "We only have about ten minutes left," he told the crowd. "We're not gonna leave and come back. We have a couple more tunes for you." The gesture was much appreciated as the clock raced against the chillwave act to the finish line. 



Most of the set blended together, but managed to sound quite good in spite of that. Many of the songs are quite samey, but as a live show, the group creates a whimsical and fun presence. Palomo thanked the "lively and spirited" crowd, dancing his feet-shuffling dance through the entire set, playing in front of a light up hexagon which blew smoke on-stage. In between sips of his Red Stripe, Palomo and his band managed to pack most of their sophomore "Era Extraña" into the set, encouraging the crowd to dance, cheekily asking them "It is Saturday night, right?" I mean this in the nicest way possible: Neon Indian were the perfect comedown for a week of so many musical highs. Ending their set with the Pitchfork favourite, single "Polish Girl", the band's electro-savvy grooves were on their best foot, with the crowd hanging on every beat, swaying in pure bliss.

  --
It surprised me that no matter how much I enjoyed myself, it was completely draining to just sit through these shows. Being the spectator is somehow tiring. 

I won't lie. My ears are ringing non-stop with tinnitus, the bags under my eyes are heavy, and I feel like I've been hit in the face with a brick. But would I do it again? Absolutely.


//JJ Brewis, Editor-in-Chief
//Photos by Melissa Dex Guzman and Tom Nugent



BLINDED BY SCIENCE
Thomas Dolby returns to his roots at Rio Theatre
//JJ Brewis

For someone who hasn't released a new album in nearly two decades, and best known for a weird hit from 30 years ago (1982's "She Blinded Me With Science"), Thomas Dolby has no problem charming his way through a full set. 

The London electronic pioneer has a full body of work behind him, working both his '80s revival niche as well as promoting his upcoming release "A Map of the Floating City". Though he hadn't been to town in several decades, Dolby was met with large fanfare and a legion of fans proving they were waiting for what was only a matter of time. Absence has served Dolby well, and his resurgence is a fitting one, given that his early work helped open the floodgates for what is now a full-blown genre in its own right. Though Dolby may have been an outsider when his massive 1982 hit "She Blinded Me With Science" took the airwaves by storm, the blips and bleeps lacing his records are now a commonplace mainstay for radio singles and indie markets alike. 

Dolby, above his work as a machinist and tinkerer, is a storyteller, something he admits freely. His songs, part diary and part fiction, are melded pieces of half-truths in which the listener submerges and makes up their own mind about where the borders of fact and fiction may be defined. That's where the electronics come in. Dolby still croons with a flowing glow, which perfectly juxtaposes the synthesizers and keyboards he stations himself for most of his set. The chemistry seems to work, guiding his story songs along in a set that feels like a sort of science-fiction book of short stories. 

On "The Flat Earth", Dolby samples the voice of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. saying "I still have a dream", yet Dolby himself seems just as poignant in his lyric, professing "The earth can be any shape you want it." The jangly tune of this song, in which Dolby builds an entire sound orchestra before singing, is a precursor to later tunes in the set and Dolby's career, which verge into world music and fusions.

Backed by only a guitar and a drummer, Dolby does most of the heavy lifting, constantly fluctuating between charming vocalist and serious button-presser, proving to his already-sold audience that he's still got more than a few tricks up his sleeve. Each song is preceded by a story of its own, such as new single "My Evil Twin Brother" in which he relays the story of being jet-lagged in New York City at 3 a.m., getting into a plethora of sticky situations. Between the heavy cocktail concoctions and the mistress taking him to the dance floor, Dolby perfectly bemuses his audience in what must likely be another of his storytelling tangents. 

Dolby's career has been an interesting one, if his tales are any account of it. Before playing a true-to-the-record version of his hit "Hyperactive!", Dolby told a story of how the studio he'd worked in was next to the one Michael Jackson was working in on "Billie Jean", and how the encounter led to Dolby giving Jackson the track to work on. Michael may have turned Thomas down on using the song, but it became a massive UK hit for Dolby in his heyday. 

For someone so steeped in electronics, Thomas Dolby has no trouble paying homage to other genres, such as during "Love Is a Loaded Pistol", a song which has lyrics almost entirely pieced together of old Billie Hollidays. During this rare moment, Dolby's keyboard is stripped down on pure Grand Piano mode, plunking away as a tribute to the jazz great. The great thing about Thomas Dolby live is that the set is so versatile which constantly keeps it refreshing.  On two tracks, Dolby's teenage son Graham sat in on drums. For the latter half of the set, a guitarist/violinist sat in, adding an extra juiciness to the tunes. 

As enchanting as some of Dolby's new work may be ("Toad Licker" for example, with its Imogen Heap joyharp sampling, keeps Dolby current), it was the rear end of the set, where Dolby stashed his '80s gems that kept the crowd screaming for more. On "Europa" and "Airhead", the storyteller and the electro-king merge as one where Dolby shines completely. But it was the closer "She Blinded Me With Science", that proves the power of a hit is an undeniable thing. Yes, there is a lot more to the man and the performer than the one track that still plays in '80s "One Hit Wonder" compilations. Although it may have been the only track that put Dolby on the pop music canon, it was also the reason we were all still there that night.

THE SPEED OF SOUNDS
Coldplay blow roof off Rogers Arena in full Technicolour
//JJ Brewis





Coldplay, riddled in duality. They take themselves very seriously, as well as know how to enjoy every moment onstage. For a band who enters the stage to the triumphant "Back to the Future" theme, they have a lot to prove. Before even stepping foot on the massive arena-sized platform, the backdrop shone in a cinematic glow, with black lights showing the rainbow graffiti motif which has accompanied the UK group on this, the "Mylo Xyloto" era of their monumental career. Where the band previously donned sophisticated military wear for "Viva La Vida" or the sombre all-black garb for "X&Y", this time they switched it up yet again. And props to whoever is responsible for the themes and art direction here, because the "Mylo Xyloto" tour shone in full neon colour, a spectacle unlike any I'd ever witnessed before. Just before the band entered the stage, the 20,000+ wristbands, which had been mysteriously handed out by the group's street team in the lobby, all started flashing every colour of the rainbow, matching the bright hypnotic lasers and backlights onstage. For a city that rarely gets a look at the stars in the sky, the moment was exhilarating for the crowd, bonded together in a flashing pulse: the realization that we were all part of the show was a special one.

The colour bonanza hardly stopped there. Within the first half hour, the crowd would witness no less than three massive confetti cannon blasts, a plethora of neon beach balls dispensed among the crowd, and two of the band's many top-ten smash hits, "In My Place", and "The Scientist". The customized Mylo Xyloto confetti, which mimicked the symbolic iconography of the band's latest disc and incarnation, would remain splattered among the arena, including the stage, for the remainder of the performance. While confetti is a customary arena show staple, most artists have it discarded off the stage by a leaf blower moments after it lands. Vocalist Chris Martin, on the other hand, chose to frolic in the yellow and pink piles, leaping through the air and rolling about like an excited child in a flower garden. 


Openers Metronomy managed to make an impression on the half-capacity crowd, who trickled in slowly near the tail end of the London act's set. The electro-pop quartet worked the room to the best of their ability, despite obviously more familiar with club sized gigs. "It's very nice to be in such a big room," proclaimed singer-keyboardist Joseph Mount. Aside from the crowd gaping in certain spots, the outfit captured the attention of those lucky enough to catch their performance. The set was a quick introduction into the group, highlighting their diverse catalogue. It ranged from electronic trumpet solos to the slow Calypso styled drum portion of "Everything Goes My Way" at the hands of percussionist Anna Prior, who also sang the track. A lot of the set was fused together in a dark electronic-heavy tone that read similar to a more lyrical Daft Punk, like a narrative-style video game, which had me visualizing the most fashionable chase scenes possible. Metronomy came across as a younger, more video-game influenced Bloc Party, with confessional lyrics reading "I hear she broke your heart again, so now you're gonna come and see me", from their single "Heartbreaker". The band show some clear influence from Coldplay's usage of stage light trickery, with each member of the group sporting a circular light-up oversized lapel which pulsated along to the beat of the songs, like light-up hearts feeling the sensation of the music within each member of the group.

Coldplay was set on giving the audience their money's worth, and the massive hockey rink was actually perfect for the show. The acoustics lent themselves well to the songs, in Coldplay's case, that would include a full spectrum with everything from anthemic ("God Put A Smile Upon Your Face") to ballad-like ("Fix You"). Early on in the set, right before launching into the band's breakthrough single "Yellow", Martin turned to his bandmates and said "We have the best fucking job in the world, you know?", a rhetorical question he likely spurts out at every show. But who cares? He does have a point, and at least the guys seem gracious, delivering a hell of a show that is not cheap in either the set list or theatrics.

Martin proved himself a jack-of-all-trades during "Yellow", moving from keys to guitar mid-track without a hitch. The flawless transition was a perfect response to those curious of the band's popularity. At this point, Coldplay are likely in the top ten most successful bands touring today. In a live setting, Coldplay make testament that some bands get famous and successful for a reason, that reason simply being that they are good at what they do. Martin as a front man is undoubtedly charming, asking the crowd at one point "Is it really true that right now everyone in Vancouver is stoned? That makes us the perfect band for today." While not precisely the champions of stoner rock, the band's psychadelic stage show would likely be a trip for those in the crowd who partook in the '4/20' daytime festivities downtown. The remark just came off as cute and witty, where as if someone else would have said it, it would likely seem obnoxious. The magic and charm of Martin and his bandmates just somehow manages to buy them a certain je ne sais quoi, backed by some of the best pop songs of the last decade. The group's newest single, "Princess of China", was performed with a video-screen version of Rihanna, dolled up like a geisha, harmonizing with the live-action Martin.

The show would be a testament that Coldplay are not a one-trick-pony type of pop-rock group. For a portion of the set, the band moved up to the front of their catwalk-style "B stage" for a mini-set that saw drummer Will Champion temporarily abandoning his drum kit for a Kanye West-style electronic drum pad for "Up In Flames", showcasing an urban sound that fit the group quite well. Afterward, Martin, in his mis-matched neon green and orange shoelaces, plunked himself on a miniature piano for "Warning Sign", whose "I miss you" sentiment brought more than a few crowd members to tears. But just as they may be capable of making their audiences a little bit weepy, the band followed up with a little remedy to any aching heart.

Before people had a chance to wipe their cheeks, large orchestral Timpani drums were being boomed back at the regular stage, just in time for some electronic violins to chime in for "Viva La Vida". Martin met with his crowd, reaching each corner of the stage, smiling the goofiest and most genuine smile you could imagine, at one point even twirling around a red bra that had been thrown on-stage by an admirer. By the end of the song, I think it's suffice to say there was not an individual who wasn't belting along the "Ooh woah oh" hook along with not only Martin but the entire band. At the song's close, Chris Martin himself dropped to his knees and then his back, as if wounded by the sheer power of his own song. Yet again, it's somehow endearing, not obnoxious, coming from him.

Considering the spectacle of the entire production, it should have been no surprise to see Martin show up in the bleachers during the encore, with only a spotlight shining down, with the audience members in that section nearly in tears of excitement. The acoustic version of "Us Against the World" was touching, as the band members each slowly joined in the stripped-down version. As the song came to a close, the band raced back to the stage for the bombastic "Clocks", which saw the light and laser show reach new levels as the lasers became full on clouds above the stage. Believe me, I was just as confused seeing it as you are trying to picture it!

During the show, when they performed "The Scientist", the Rogers Arena crowd showed the band that they were willing to compete for who could blast the lyrics louder. With black lights and juxtaposed neon lasers looming over the stage, and Martin tinkering away at the keys, the track's lovelorn lyrics only became even more immediate than the album version, which clearly everyone in the house was well versed in. But that was the thing about this show: nearly each track was sentimental to the crowd, and with the songs came droves of personal memories which have become imbedded in these songs for many of us. The band has reached heights unseen by most artists, because their music appeals to so many different types of people. They're accessible to a point; yet still leave room for heartfelt lyrics and an artful tone, a rare combination not often met with artists of this calibre, and this paradox was showcased well in their performance.


//JJ Brewis, Editor-in-Chief
//Photos by Melissa Dex Guzman

FROM THE EDITOR
The memory I wanna forget, is goodbye
// Samantha Thompson

When I graduated from high school, we were meant to do a little write-up for the yearbook that people could look back on years from now and think, “Oh, I remember her!” or, “Wow, I really didn’t follow my dreams at all!” Some of the entries said things like “penis!”, but others left quotes that were meant to be inspiring. I, myself, feeling particularly inspired at the age of 17, left words from the now over-quoted tale of the Lorax from Dr. Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better … it’s not.”

Many of my other editorials this year have tried to raise awareness about the important issues that are constantly occurring and developing in our society, because I believe that that Lorax quote is accurate. If we don’t start paying attention and raising awareness about issues that are going on in our world, things are only going to continue to get worse. As students, we should, every day, be challenging the opinions of those around us and the opinions that we ourselves hold in an effort to encourage ourselves to think critically. Many of us who have worked at the Courier over the past year have aimed to do this using the written word. Through our articles we have offered a different perspective, or even introduced a story that may have received very little attention because it was not covered by the mainstream media.

I am so proud of the Courier and all of our wonderful staff and contributors for being able to provide these services. This year, we have seen many changes to the paper, but we’ve still held true to our motto of “pushing buttons”. Our writers have been given national exposure, and we have been thanked by the community for showcasing stories that needed to be told. It has been a year of so many learning experiences, but one of the greatest things for me has been seeing each person on our staff grow into the strong, confident members of the student press that they are now.

One thing we have also learned this year is the value of teamwork. You and I are a team, as reader and writer, because together, we help to spread ideas. As well, the Courier staff has consistently worked together as a team, realizing all too quickly that to miss a deadline results in a pile-up of work for everyone the next week. Without teamwork, life in the newspaper industry is very difficult. There is a wrong perception that in order to be a journalist (in a “dying industry” no less), you must be cutthroat, pushing others out of the way in order to get the Big Story. Certainly, it may be like that for some papers, but what I have learned in my time so far is that you must be aware of how your actions affect others, because every action has a consequence.

This is my last editorial as Co-Editor-in-Chief, so I need to take some time to reminisce about what, for me, has been one of the most important years in my life so far. I’m not really ready to say goodbye. Some of us are leaving this circle of life and moving on to different schools, different activities, different goals. Some of us will remain to provide you with another year of articles that will both inform and entertain. At this time I must thank you all, staff, contributors, and readers, for the passion and love you have given to this publication. I cannot express to you how much your various contributions have meant to me, because wherever we end up, we were all able to spend some time together with this shared experience of reading and writing each other’s words. It is through this experience that we have proven that there is power in words, and strength in new ideas. When combined, these tools can allow us to change our society for the better.

As Lord Byron said, “But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think."


//Samantha Thompson, editor-in-chief

FROM THE EDITOR
Movin' on up
// Sarah Vitet

I was originally going to utilize this esteemed editorial space with a lengthy goodbye to my beloved staff, but a more thrilling event has recently come to my attention that I just must announce here instead.

The neighbourhood where I currently live has officially been renamed “The East Village”, which is perfectly delightful news for someone such as myself. The working-class people who dwell around me do not, to be perfectly blunt, help maintain the proper dignity that a madam of class truly deserves. The reputation of the area is clearly in shambles, beset by such dreadful eyesores as lowrent (sp?) apartment buildings and derelict public elementary schools.

"There's certainly a stigma with saying you're on East Hastings. People sometimes react to East Vancouver without realizing there's this eclectic bunch of neighbourhoods," said Patricia Barnes, the Executive Director of the Hastings North Business Improvement Association, in an interview with CTV.

I have always longed to experience the glamour of New York City, and the undistinguished Vancouver neighbourhood monikers held no flame to the romance of the Manhattan boroughs. While some plebs might say that “Hastings Sunrise” was a more humble title for the neighbourhood, they would be wrong. The East Village is a perfect name, as evidenced by no less than two artist studios in the area, and the voguish coffee shop that I rarely frequent but always mean to.

There is even a quaint “Chicken Processing Plant” that carefully wafts a mouthwatering odour throughout all of The Village, particularly on hot summer days. We, the more reputable residents, often send letters of appreciation to the Plant, as we could never imagine living in a part of town that wasn’t fragranced by rotting animal flesh. The residents of Kitsilano and Yale Town have been trying to get Chicken Processing Plants in their neighbourhoods for years, but alas, they just aren’t quite charming or eclectic enough.

Though “The Meatpacking District” was our first choice for the new neighbourhood moniker, in the end, City Hall said it sounded too much like a Gastown (<3!) boutique, so we decided on The East Village instead. Although in previous years the neighbourhood has been know to be a bit too proletariat to be truly fashionable, the revitalization of the area is clearly a priority for the city, as it should be. Once every borough of Vancouver has been cleaned up, the potential of the city will finally be seen. It’s time the poor stopped taking advantage of The East Village and found somewhere more appropriate to live.

I originally thought I would have to move to a different part of town to gain more status, as I am no longer going to hold the role of High Queen Empress of the Capilano Courier, but now I see that the world listened to my prayers, and sophistication has arrived at my doorstep. The “The East Village” banners are already up along all the promenades near my home, with a neo-art-nouveau-inspired design that I personally absolutely adore. I thought I would be sad to leave the Capilano Courier, but now I feel nothing but relief. Goodbye, inferior student clowns, I have no use for you anymore!

Sarah Vitet has been reading the Capilano Courier since she was 14 years old, when her mom started going to Cap and brought it home. Sarah immediately fell in love with the paper, not only because of the “cool college newspaper” appeal, but also because of the genuine campy journalism style, charming leftist editorializing, and experimental art direction. She used to dream of one day becoming the Editor-in-Chief of the Cap Courier, and when that day actually came, she couldn’t contain herself. This year has been a remarkable learning experience that she wouldn’t give up for anything, and she is so grateful for the three years she got to spend working at the best paper in the world. She encourages anyone and everyone to get involved with the Courier in some capacity, as it is a life-changing force of nature that she will miss so much she doesn’t want to think about it. She is bad with goodbyes, apologizes for this awkward third-person epilogue to a cop-out sarcastic editorial, and wishes everyone a summer full of responsible sun exposure, good sex, and bad recreational drug use.


//Sarah Vitet, high queen empress

THE VOICEBOX Vol 45 Issue 24



Look for the Voicebox on Tuesday afternoons in the Birch cafeteria, to anonymously “voice” your “opinion” on any “topic.” Introverted alternatives include emailing your opinion to voicebox@capilanocourier.com, or texting (778) 886-5070.

“How does someone write an entire article on the Zelda Symphony Concert and not once mention the original composer, Koji Kando?”

Hi, Koji, thanks for writing in. I found this question quite interesting for two reasons. First of all, you write in, and don’t even mention the composer’s name yourself. Believe me, I just spent six minutes Googling various endless combinations of “Zelda”, “composer”, “Music”, “symphony”, and the only thing that turned up was your letter! Weird, right, since it hasn’t even been published yet?! Anyway, more interesting is the fact that you assume I know which “Zelda Symphony Concert” article you are talking about, leaving me to think you’re a bit hypocritical not citing which specific article you’re dissing while simultaneously calling us out for doing the same thing. Nice try, Koji.

“Is it true that Australia is extremely racist?”

From what I hear, yes. But, I heard that from a Nonstralian, so it could potentially be blamed on them being AA (Anti-Australian). There’s actually a good rule in determining if anything/anyone is "extremely racist": If you have to ask, yes.

“Fun Fact: The music video for Sisqo’s 'Thong Song’, gave me one of my first and most uncomfortable erections. This was before I discovered masturbating.”

Wow. That’s a good share. I had a friend in elementary school, Timmy, who lived near this weird tunnel that had a stowaway of old Playboy magazines which he stashed away there. Except, just to "fool" adults like our parents, anytime we spoke about these pornos in public, we would call them “peebs”, as if we were really hiding anything. Hilariously stupid. He told me I could take one home, and I did. I don’t think I really understood what masturbation was. I went to a Catholic school! They didn’t teach us that kind of shit. Anyway, my friend demanded I take this magazine home. Little did he know I was a FH (future homosexual), and I  ended up trading the Playboy to one of my other friends for TLC’s Crazy Sexy Cool. My dad also tried to get me on to women by buying me the Drew Barrymore Playboy for my birthday one year – how mortifying. A few weeks later, he came home and asked me what I “thought of” the magazine. “Well, dad,” I told him, “I really enjoyed the interview with Jean-Claude Van Damme.” I was 11.

MEDIA + DEMOCRACY = HEALTHY SOCIETY
The mainstream press may not be telling the whole story
// Leah Scheitel

“It’s about the connection, the urgent connection between media and democracy,” explains David Barsamian, the founder and director of Alternative Radio, a well-known self-funded weekly radio program. “If the citizenry is not informed or does not have a broad range of perspectives and views to choose from or to be exposed to, then it is not in a position to be really an effective participant in democracy.”

Barsamian is an award-winning journalist who has worked closely with many activists, including noted writer and linguist Noam Chomsky. A part of the mandate of Alternative Radio is to provide “information, analyses, and views that are frequently ignored or distorted in other media.” Barsamian is coming to speak in Vancouver on Apr. 15 about media within a democracy, and the issues surrounding it.

“There is a growing audience all over the US and Canada for alternative media,” says Barsamian. He believes people are starting to notice flaws with the mainstream media, and a now looking for independent news sources.

“More and more the problems with the corporate controlled media have become all too obvious to many people. So, there has been a keen interest into independent media.”

Isaac Oommon, co-founder of the Vancouver Media Co-op, a reader-funded “grassroots media” network, echoes this sentiment, and credits recent social issues as the reason for the rise of alternative media in Canada.

“Alternative media has become more prominent, because in 2010 we had the Olympics and the G20 summit in Toronto … where alternative media really got to cut its teeth and show what it could do,” Oommon explains. “People wanted to get involved and get more people involved, and now I think more than the past decade there are avenues to which people can engage with alternative media.”

Oommon became personally involved with alternative media in 2009 in protest of the Olympics, and believes that they demonstrated why alternative media is important. “[The Olympics showed] why alternative media needs to exist. There was this overwhelming mainstream media emphasis on the games, and sportsmanship, and things like that. They covered less issues in Vancouver, specifically on the Downtown Eastside, poverty and homelessness.”

“It’s just a matter of going beyond the mainstream media to where the voices who are most disenfranchised can get heard outside the loudest ones, which are usually the ones that are on top of the power structure,” he concludes.

There are various independent media on the national and local levels. The VMC is a member of The Media Co-op, a network which connects local independent media. They are also active in Halifax, Toronto, and Montreal, and they produce The Dominion, a grassroots newspaper featuring alternate angles to news stories.

Alternative Radio has a strong connection to Vancouver as well.

“Co-op Radio in Vancouver was one of the very first radio stations anywhere to broadcast alternative radio, so I have that connection to Vancouver,” he explains.

“I have no training and I have no formal academic credentials. I was a volunteer at the local community radio station in Boulder called KGNU. That is where I learnt a lot about radio: how to produce, how to edit, how to narrate, how to write; all of the skills that are required. In 1986 I decided to take whatever skills I had learnt and start this one hour program.” Barsamian’s show can now be heard from coast to coast, and is aired on about 150 radio stations all over North America.

Barsamian has worked closely on issues that are often overlooked by other media sources. Most recently he has been banned from India for his work on the human rights violations in the state of Kashmir.

“Over 70,000 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian security forces, and over 10,000 have gone missing, and this is not reported on by the Western press. I was going to go back to Kashmir, but on Sept. 23, 2011, I was denied entry at the New Delhi airport, even though I had a valid visa in my passport. To this date, I have been given no explanation as to why I was banned.”

Despite his long roots in the media, Barsamian has never stopped to rest on his laurels, and is always engaging with people in whatever way he can. “I have a book coming out shortly on the economic collapse called Occupy the Economy, and I have a new book with Noam Chomsky called How the World Works.”

Before his forum in Vancouver, he is speaking in Nelson BC, at the Kootenay Co-op Radio benefit, and after he is headed to Eugene, Oregon to conduct speeches on uprising movements. “This is a constant part of my work. The outreach, to talk to community groups, to colleges, universities, churches, and others.”

David Barsamian is speaking at the SFU Harbour Centre on Hastings Street on Apr. 15 at 2pm. For more information on him or to hear podcasts of his radio program, visit www.alternativeradio.org


//Leah Scheitel, writer
//Photograph by Jason Jeon

HOME SWEET HOME
Rezoning of UBC's Acadia neighbourhood causes backlash
// Claire Vulliamy

Planned changes to one of UBC’s residential neighbourhoods, dating back to a Land Use Plan from March 2011, have evoked concerns from residents about the future of their community. In the Land Use Plan, a large portion of the Acadia neighbourhood on campus, which is currently student family housing, is designated to become "non-academic". Essentially, this changes it to market housing, open to anyone who can afford it.

Ashley Zarbatany has lived in Student Family Housing at UBC in the Acadia Park neighbourhood since 2009. She used to live in the Acadia Courts, a group of buildings in the neighbourhood, but had to leave when the roof collapsed and she and her family were exposed to asbestos. Zarbatany relocated to a townhouse, where she pays around $1,300 a month for a two-bedroom suite. “I love the townhouse, but it's so expensive for a student,” she says.

Sections of the Courts are now being taken down. Though they were originally meant to be 15-year temporary housing, they have been home to students for approximately 40, she says. The residents were given their notice of eviction last year.

Lisa Colby, the Director of Policy Planning for Campus and Community Planning, says that, “all eligible residents will be provided alternative housing options within Acadia Park by July 1, 2012." This is of concern to Zarbatany: “Who are they qualifying as "eligible" students?” she asks. “There are still many students who have not been given placing, and this is a serious concern, as many of them are not yet finished their degrees.”

These events led her to dig up the March 2011 Land Use Plan. A section of the plan explicitly designates specific areas of housing on campus for different purposes. Acadia Park is defined as providing “a range of rental and long-term lease housing to the broader community.”

Lisa Colby, the Director of Policy Planning for Campus and Community Planning confirms this: “A portion of the area that is currently student family housing will become a non-student family neighbourhood, creating a complete community with a variety of residents.”

Zarbatany doesn’t feel that this kind of community will work, when there are people who “paid over $600,000 for a condo or townhouse, to be situated beside student families who are being crammed into these small high-rises, who are paying much less,” she says. “I just don’t really see how that would foster a healthy community dynamic.”

Colby says the reason why they have chosen to develop Acadia this way is because it is a low-density area, and many of the buildings are older. “Over the next 30 years, it’s an ideal opportunity to renew and redevelop the neighbourhood at higher, more appropriate sustainable densities.” According to Colby, there will eventually be more student family housing in Acadia offered at student family rates.

She adds that the reason why the information on Acadia for the public is not developed is because they haven’t begun the actual planning process. “Before any development takes place in Acadia, a Neighbourhood Plan for the local area will be undertaken.” According to Colby, the planning process will take place later this year, or at the beginning of 2013, and will provide “numerous opportunities for stakeholder and community [to offer] input into the planning process.”

As for the release of the Land Use Plan in March 2011, Zarbatany says, “students were not properly consulted or engaged in this process. This change was not advertised widely and many students were upset to learn about it after the zoning had already taken place.” Her main concern is that when they rezone to non-academic, “they essentially guarantee that the housing market will determine the price of housing.”

Residents of Acadia who were concerned about the changes attended a workshop on the recently released Housing Action Plan (HAP), which took place on Mar. 29. The HAP was created as “a policy initiative to increase housing choice and affordability on the Vancouver campus for faculty, staff and students.”

Zarbatany found the information at the workshop lacking, especially when it came to providing solutions for students. “They seemed to be focusing more on faculty and staff housing shortages and how to develop that.”

What they did offer for students was that the University would work with the students’ society of UBC, the AMS, “to lobby the provincial government to increase our student loan so that we could receive more for our rental allowances per month,” she says. “Instead of solving the affordability issue, they’re saying that they’re going to make it so that we get more debt, which makes no sense.”

Zarbatany is also concerned changes to Acadia will compromise its suitability for families. “Something that makes Acadia so wonderful now is the green spaces … We have a lot of space here for the children so they often go out and play on the street, on the car-less roadways that we have,” she says.

According to Colby, green space will be discussed in the planning process, and the University is “committed to providing ample and appropriate green space and amenities to all its neighbourhoods.”

“Once the density is higher there will not be much that you can do to increase green space,” says Zarbatany. “All of the important decisions will have been decided before the neighborhood plan is even undertaken. … The neighbourhood planning process is meaningless unless it has control over rezoning."

"Affordable student family housing has a definitive impact on many students decisions to attend this school,” says Zarbatany. “We don't want to see student family's needs be prioritized last after real estate developers interests.”


//Claire Vulliamy, arts editor

PALM TO THE FACE
Indigenous right in Guatemala threatened by biodiesel industry
// Gurpreet Kambo

On Mar. 15, Capilano University’s Liberal Studies program played host to activist and writer Alicia Gladman for a discussion on the current political issues occurring in Guatemala. These issues include colonization, sustainability, and land struggles. While Gladman wasn’t in the country for very long, and makes it clear that she is not an expert on the area, her experience taught her a great deal, both about herself and about the world around her.

“It started with me wanting to learn Spanish. The organization I work for in Vancouver is called Our Community Bikes; we’re affiliated with an organization there that builds pedal-powered machines like water pumps and things like that in Guatemala. So, that was my initial interest - learning Spanish and doing bike mechanics,” said Gladman. “While I was in Spanish school, I encountered the organization I ended up going into the smaller communities with and getting involved with land rights.”

This organization, called the Guatemalan Solidarity Project (GSP) is an organization that “seeks to build relationships of solidarity with communities and organizations in the struggle for peace and justice in Guatemala,” as explained on their mission statement on their website. Their interests are in human rights and land rights, especially for the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.

A part of the GSP’s initiatives is what they call “Human Rights Accompaniment”, which is what Gladman was involved with. This project has foreign “tourists” observe and accompany indigenous communities during crucial times such as going into negotiations with the government.

“There’s a lot of political tension, and a lot of violence … but there’s a safety net that exists around tourists in that country,” said Gladman. “It’s a tricky thing when you’re travelling in a country that’s lower on the global hierarchy. I come from a country that has more clout than Guatemala, so I think there’s a fear of some economic retribution, or they’ll get bad PR [if a foreigner gets hurt] and that Canadians will be less likely to be tourists there.”

Indigenous peoples in Guatemala have long had conflicts with the government. From 1960 to 1996, the situation escalated to become a civil war: “The war started because there was no political room to move, no change happening, and a lot of indigenous people were frustrated at being enslaved by this rigid class and ethnic hierarchy,” said Gladman.

The war ended in 1996 with a “peace accord”, something that was a cause of much hope for the indigenous. “The peace accords were signed on the basis that they [the government] were going to redistribute land and start having conversations about land reform and indigenous rights across the board. It started to happen for a few years, but then things started to fall back to the status quo around Y2K.”

While the peace accord may have been a legitimate attempt by the government of that time to make reparations for abuses against the indigenous peoples, it was not a legally-binding document in any way – it was merely an agenda for what was going to be discussed. In the meantime, the burgeoning environmental movement provided an opportunity for the government to make massive profits by planting African Palm, from which biodiesel is produced.

“All of a sudden the government and the major landholders realized that they could do much better by removing people from their land and [replanting] it as African Palm instead of engaging in any kind of political dialogue,” said Gladman. “Just like any government, they end up having the trump card. You can compare it to the indigenous reserves in Canada: there’s an amendment to the Indian Act that says that the government has the right to expropriate this land at any time. [Only] until it’s convenient for the government, the people who live there can stay.” Some of the communities were successful, at least in getting the companies or the government to the table for discussion. Gladman acted as the “human rights accompaniment” during one of these negotiations.

“What [the indigenous groups] said at that meeting was ‘we want land,’ or ‘we need somewhere to farm and live.’ What the company offered them was temporary jobs. If they went quietly, they would be hired by the company to dismantle their villages, and then plant African Palm. Then their jobs would end quite quickly after that. The government representatives were incredibly evasive at that meeting.” She added that these negotiations can be somewhat lopsided at times, due to the lack of education, literacy, or money for lawyers among the indigenous populations.

Gladman believes that the situation may be becoming as bad as it was before 1996, as some groups have resorted to desperate measures: “It seems to me that they’re being pushed in the same direction of having no room to move politically … [One group] had taken a politician hostage, which actually started the negotiation, and they ended up gaining title to their land,” she said.

“I think it’s just that there’s nowhere else to go,” she said. She went on to explain how these groups had been working for such a long time to even get the government to listen: “March to September is a long time to starve. They’d had their crops bulldozed, and they had no resources at hand. There does come a point where you just need some leverage.”

As for the future, Guatemala has recently elected a militaristic former general as its President; however, as long as there is hope, people continue to fight. “My fear is that the African Palm plantations will deplete the soil, and then there’ll be nothing left. It’ll be really hard to scratch a living out of that,” said Gladman. “Hopefully things will turn around before then.”

As for reflecting on her personal experience of her time in Guatemala, Gladman recognized that it has made a personal impact on her as well, but she quickly brings the discussion back to the issue itself: “It was interesting for me because it’s not my life. I think it’s strange being a privileged tourist in a place that is facing a lot of struggles that I’ll never have to go through,” she said. “It’s all part of this system; this is how capitalism works. It’s veiled if you’re in Canada, but it’s not so much veiled there. We’re all participating in feeding into it.”


//Gurpreet Kambo, news editor
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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com