Tag Archives: celebrity

One Love

“One Love” by Bob Marley (RIP)


The Douglas Coupland School of Marketing

What the heck is this box doing at the corner of Carrall and Cordova, next to an old disabled couple camped out on the stoop of the empty Rainier? What is “House in a box”, a new form of housing for the poor? Is some charity collecting appliance boxes and giving them to homeless people? Is this so crazy that I should visit the website, or drop by the address on the box to check it out?

Well, it was only a block out of my way, so I walked by, and it was a bloody “concept” furniture store having a grand opening, and this box in the street was their cynical little marketing ploy to generate foot traffic on a block where there generally isn’t that many pedestrians owning new condos that need professional design and furnishings, if you know what I mean…

I found this marketing ploy to be totally disrespectful and sickening (and I fully realize that I’m playing right into their hands by posting pictures), but unless the owners were just simply too clueless about their new neighbourhood to see why this was not ethical advertising, they should be ashamed of themselves. Then again, if they knew the neighbourhood and the high rate of business failures in Gastown, especially since the recession, well, they probably wouldn’t have moved here in the first place….

As if that brush with guerrilla advertising wasn’t enough, I was walking along later that night and there appeared to be another opening at the old kicks store that just went belly up on Powell after 3 years. When I saw the sandwich board with “RootsxDouglasCoupland” in black and white beside a rainbow banner, I thought, hmmn, maybe he’s launching a new book.

Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship to Douglas Coupland as a writer. On the one hand, I thought Generation X was boring as hell when it first came out, and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. This is supposed to be the defining novel of my generation? Compared to Trainspotting or Fight Club or American Psycho, Generation X was embarrassingly cute fluff. Pffft. I could write a better novel than that, no sweat, and I have a drawer full of unpublished fragments to prove it!

But on the other hand, Coupland is only a few years older than me and grew up just up the mountainside from where I did. His locally-set novels and non-fiction reflect an eerily similar geographic perspective on the city to the one I grew up with. Vancouver is one of those places where geographical location can play a big part in shaping your psyche, and Coupland has captured that sense of ironic distance to the city one gets from growing up across the water and high up on the side of the North Shore mountains. As Rudyard Kipling once mused, “Vancouver is a beautiful but fickle woman, best admired from afar….” Well, the North Shore mountains are an ideal place to admire her from.

Coupland’s writing grew on me over time, as did a shared fascination with historical minutae. And then, about ten years ago, I went to a VIWF event featuring Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and local boy Douglas Coupland in an intimate conversation. I thought the foul-mouthed, hard-living Scot would make a meal of Coupland, but it turned out to be the other way around. Coupland disarmed Welsch immediately by taking off his sweater to reveal a Hearts jersey, and then proceeded to have everyone laughing and enthralled for two hours, including Irvine. Since then, I’ve gained a definite appreciation for Coupland’s work. Although I still don’t like everything he creates, there’s no denying there’s a certain genius at work behind it.

Well, the small group of smokers and texters milling around on the sidewalk outside the store looked just like the impeccable hipsters on the rainbow RootsxDouglasCoupland posters I had seen in a couple of places around town earlier in the week. In contrast to the fashion slaves, I was three days unshaven, flying the flannel, and sporting twelve-year-old Docs worn razor thin at the sole – clearly a local and not on the guest list.

One of the chics rolled her eyes at me as I walked up and poked my head in the door just to see if Coupland was actually there. He was talking to a small group, the last few left in the store, which I now noticed was full of Roots clothes that I would never wear, mainly because I couldn’t afford to these days, but also because if I were to buy some new clothes, it wouldn’t be these ones, yunno, cause they looked kinda touristy. Though I might have gone in and dropped $20 on a book…

But oh, Doug, you can’t be serious! You designed a clothing line for Roots? And you’re launching it here in Gastown because, what, it gives you some kinda cred? You make me wanna puke! And so does your technicolour yawn of a marketing campaign, complete with the obligatory photo collage (like Rennie’s Woodwards ads) and the flurry of canned tweets it links to. I dare anyone to view the RootsxDC splash, marketing video and click through to the collage and not feel immediately nauseous and the need for a hot shower.

I’m sorry, but I’m not sensing any irony here, just a pure, unadulterated shill.

Thankfully, it was a one-off event, and Roots isn’t opening a store permanently on Powell. I guess they have a little more business sense than MAD, no matter how questionable their latest clothing line may be.


Sarah Shahi Brings Out the Paparazzi

Gastown is a favourite location for film shoots, and it’s pretty common to see crews set up and shut down streets. From Brad Pitt back in 1993, to Twilight stars, to B-grade movies of the week, locals are somewhat immune to the sight of film crews. There are so many distractions in this part of town that I wonder if Gastown residents aren’t a somewhat jaded bunch? Crack whores, Jazz Fest, protest marches, shunting trains, clubbers fighting over girls, celebrities — we hardly bat an eye.

But it was somewhat amusing to see the paparazzi out when the crew for the new pilot of “Facing Kate” rolled onto Alexander Street recently. The crew members didn’t even seem to know who the star of the show was, yet there was a little band of photographers with giant lenses hovering around waiting to storm the set. As me and kiddo munched in the craft tent, I overheard someone say it was an actor from “The L Word” that had brought the vultures out. Security and police were both called into action to chase off the paparazzi in what can only be described as scene from a bad movie.

Well, after I did a little Googling to try to put a name to the face of the star, I found that not only had Sarah Shahi been in “The L Word”, but a fan site rated one of her lesbian scenes as #6 in the all time sexiest sex scenes in the history of prime time television. But I think what really brought out the paparazzi might have been the fact that she was also a Maxim girl once upon a time. Hmmmn, she sure looks different here, eh?

My apologies if posting these photos seems gratuitous or unnecessary, but blogs are often condemned for not getting the facts straight, so I posted the Maxim shots solely in the interests of accuracy in reporting.

*   *   *

Hank, meet Art!

The Canucks have been in the NHL for 40 years, and for the first time in franchise history they have the league’s scoring champion. Henrik Sedin broke Pavel Bure’s old team mark of 110 points to claim the Art Ross Trophy this season, getting 112 points to beat out mega-stars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin (both with 109) for the scoring title. Congratulations Hank!

Back in 1970, the Art Ross Trophy went to Bobby Orr, the first and only defenceman in league history to win the Art Ross Trophy. Check out the impressive list of Hall of Famers who won it in the years leading up to 1970. Check out also the incredibly lucrative prize money the NHL used to pay out to the trophy winners! Even in 1970 dollars, it’s pretty laughable…

1970 OPC hockey card #262.

*    *    *

Sedins Work their Magic

It’s not often one gets to meet the NHL’s leading point scorer. But yesterday, my son went to a friend’s birthday party at Douglas Park and, when I went to pick him up, the birthday boy’s dad took me aside and, in a hushed voice, said, “Don’t tell anyone, but one of the Sedin kids is having a birthday here in an hour. You want to hang out and see if the kids can meet some Canucks?” We’re both hockey dads, so the answer was obvious.

About an hour later, Daniel Sedin and family pulled up, followed shortly by Henrik, Kevin Bieksa and Mikael Samuelson. They all had little kids in tow, and were all happy to sign autographs for the little group of kids who had gathered in the parking lot outside the gym. Needless to say, my son and the other kids were on speed wobble they were so excited, and the smiles were a mile wide. It was quite a thrill for them to meet these guys.

Interesting to note that, rather than play floor hockey for his kid’s party, the Sedin troupe were playing soccer in the gym. Ah, Europeans…

(Henrik’s auto at top — not even sure if it’s the right way up, the two squiggles are his number, 33. Next one is Bieksa, and below is Samuelson. We didn’t get Daniel’s, unfortunately.)

Anyway, this all reminded me of back when I was a wee tot and hockey-crazed youth about the same age as my son is now. My father was returning from a business trip in Toronto and, whenever he returned from a business trip, always brought us kids a little gift, usually some airport gift shop thing. This time, however, he handed me a sheet of paper with all the Boston Bruins’ signatures on it, including my (and every other kid’s) hero of that era, Bobby Orr. Wow, I was over the moon! He had happened to be on the same flight as the Boston Bruins on their way into town to play the Canucks and managed to get most of the team’s autographs, including, yes, Bobby Orr, as well as Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Carol Vadnais, Gary Doak, Al Sims, Andre Laval and Dave Forbes.

Of note, the year was 1975 and, for those who know hockey, that happened to be the same road trip when Phil Esposito, while in Vancouver, got told he had been traded to the New York Rangers in what was one of the biggest trades of all time. Bobby Orr went on to win the scoring title one last time that year, but his knees finally gave out and he never regained his magic, eventually getting signed by the Black Hawks (thanks to some shenangigans by his agent, the much-hated Alan Eagleson). Orr played a handful of games over the next two years and then was forced  to retire at the young age of 30. The Big Bad Bruins would never be the same without Orr and Esposito….

Colbert’s Gold Medal Performance

Well, I just had to go check it out. Stephen Colbert’s last day of filming down at Creekside Park. And he didn’t disappoint. It was a good time, started off with a Dutch brass band and a singing of Oh Canada, and the show’s opening line, “I’ve been here a week, and I’m still the whitest thing on the ground.” Sure, but look at the Lions up there behind you, in all their glory today.

As I rode in on the seawall, I was pretty amazed at just how many people were there. The Goodyear folks were so impressed with the turnout yesterday that they did a fly-by today to film the crowd from above.

One of the funniest, and more boundary-pushing segments was his take on the long-running segment, “Better know a District.” Today, it was “Better know a Riding,” and Ujaal Dosanj was the politician being roasted today. As usual, Colbert twisted his words and made him look silly, but old Ujaal acquitted himself well, and even came out onstage for a cameo. Would have loved to have seen him roast Campbell or Robertson, but this was still good.

At the end of it all, folks were all smiles, and why not? It was a gorgeous day and lots of laughter to be had. And what better way to end it than by riding the moose and waving our flag!

And finally, before the show ended, we got taken off the On Notice board. I guess we’re no longer iceholes in his mind. Thanks for coming, Stephen!

Stephen Colbert in Vancouver: A Sign of the Times

I have to admit that I am almost as big an aficionado of satire as I am of hockey. In fact, I did my undergraduate English thesis on postmodern parody, an offshoot of traditional satire. So this week has been sort of a dream week for me. First, on Tuesday the men’s hockey tournament kicked off with an 8-0 shutout by Canada (Loooouu!!!). And today, perhaps the best television satirist of our time, Stephen Colbert, landed in Vancouver to tape segments for his Colbert Report.

While most news and blogging surrounding the Olympics has been nauseating — either absurdly unnatural boosterism, or overly negative and depressing criticism — very little in the way of good, old fashioned parody has emerged. Judging by the popularity of my two Olympics-related parody posts (“Embracing the Olympic Spirit Can Be Unpredictable” and “Going Green: Vanoc Releases Staff/Volunteer Training Video”) I would say the general public is crying out for some Olympic satire.

Well, if anyone can deliver on this account and get us laughing at ourselves, it’s Stephen Colbert. He’s already called us “iceholes”, and last week he unveiled the above poster, which he is urging everyone to plaster around the city.

If you don’t know the story, in a stroke of inspiration a city worker emailed Colbert and invited him to come to Vancouver after he started slagging Canada on air over the allotment of practice time at the Richmond Oval to the US speed skating team — hence the “iceholes” comment. Colbert accepted, and this serendipitous invitation will undoubtedly prove to be a far better marketing event for the city than anything our billion dollar VANOC marketing team could ever dream up, stuck as they are in the tiny box of possibilities presented by a slavish pandering to corporate sponsorship and a simultaneous fear of anything with a free, creative mind (and mouth).

Colbert will, for sure, take the piss out of both us and them. And it’ll be a blast!

He’ll be filming again tomorrow morning at 9:15 at Creekside Park if anyone wants to go have a look. I can’t wait to see the shows when they air next week!