Friday, August 21, 2009

Dear fuckin' city... (re: Cobalt closure, Olympics)

The hull of Noize to Go, by Allan MacInnis

Hi, Vancouver. Anyone in office ever check in with this blog? Anyone connected to this ongoing Olympics shitstorm? ...Tune in for a minute, okay?

More Noize to Go damage, by Allan MacInnis

I just wanted to mention that I FUCKING HATE the direction this city is going in. I hate that long standing Vancouver establishments are being demolished as property owners go for the Olympics cashgrab. I hate that Richards on Richards is being turned into more fuckin' condos and that Noize to Go, a record store whose ownership can be traced back into the history of the Vancouver independent music scene through Track Records, Collectors RPM, and even Quinetessence - where Dale worked - has been forced to close, so the people who own those buildings can get ready for whatever new club or whatnot is going to open in that location (presumably the one with Richards' liquor license - though not with its history or unique charm). I hate that Granville Street, now that you're half-done with it, looks like a street in another city, where shitty vulgarian drinking holes for jocks, tourists, and suburbanites are flourishing and protected (the so-called "Granville Entertainment Zone" is more like the "Granville disaster zone" for people who live nearby)...
Granville Street signage, by Allan MacInnis

...while elsewhere in the city, underground venues that support REAL, living Vancouver culture are being harrassed with noise complaints, shut down for infractions or liquor license violations, or being forced out into the street like so many SRO occupants because the slumlords in charge sense that there is more money to be made elsewise by building a condo, a sportsbar, or otherwise "going Granville." The newest spot to "go Granville," by the way, is a place I had no fondness for - the Atlantic Trap and Gill, where I've had some very bad service and mediocre food; but it was still better, more real, more true to the spirit of this city that the crass-looking Lynxx atrocity that has replaced it, catering again to meatheads and tourists and other people with more money than taste. Americans, maybe.
The interior of Richards on Richards a few days after it closed, by Allan MacInnis

...and while you may think, now that The Cobalt faces the same fate as so many other Vancouver cultural institutions, that all the city is losing is a scummy bar for punks and weirdos and otherwise disaffected types who don't make you a lot of money, anyways, what you have to realize is that it's locations like The Cobalt that put Vancouver ON THE MAP for a great many people, outside Vancouver as well as in. I had an article last year in Britain's prestigious Wire magazine about the Fake Jazz Wednesdays' scene there; Femke and I made a point of taking an outside shot of Ejaculation Death Rattle so The Cobalt sign would be visible (this involved Fem setting up a tripod in the rain and nearly getting bumped into by some street person - but it was an important shot!).

Vancouver development, by Femke Van Delft

Jeremy Van Wyck, Shearing Pinx drummer and Fake Jazz co-curator (along with Stamina Mantis' Bill Batt and Ahna's Anju Singh) tells me that the Fake Jazz scene is known internationally; when he tours with the Pinx the name comes up all the time - and Fake Jazz has only been in existence for three years! In terms of the punk, metal, and experimental music scenes in Vancouver, no single location is as important, or as likely to give a developmental showcase to the next band that puts Vancouver on the map (and I mean the "art and culture map," not the "commerce and music industry map" with the big Nickelback and Bryan Adams dots on it; we're talking about REAL culture, not money culture here. I hope y'all know what I mean). Bands that play The Cobalt tour all over Canada and North America, and speak to the people there, and have opinions about what you're doing to this city, which they often share with others. The place is a cultural hub in more than one way (thanks, Jeremy, for the word "hub" in this regard).
Oppenheimer Park: still open, if you're a seagull - by Allan MacInnis

Now it IS true that punk venues can also be a hub of dissent - see my old Skinny interview with Todd Serious of The Rebel Spell, a great local punk band that plays The Cobalt frequently, if you're not sure what I mean, there. But y'know what, this actually makes a really nice opportunity for y'all to step in and do something for the community that might be in your long-term best interests and very beneficial to your big Olympics money-party. Would you like to avert Riot 2010? I bet you would. Installing security cameras, hiring rent-a-cops, and designating Free Speech Zones won't really help you very much on that count; if anything, things like this are adding to the fuming mood of disenfranchisement, displacement, despair and impending doom that one finds underneath the surface of this city, sending the message that we're expected to bend down and spread our asscheeks for you, and prompting people either to apathy or rage (or flat out making them leave town). You can stop all that, though, in one swoop. Are you listening, Vanoc?

Do you want to avert Riot 2010? Do you want punks in the city who are cursing the Olympics and planning to Fuck Shit Up to suddenly sing pro-Olympics anthems and contentedly find a comfy corner in your pockets?

Save The Cobalt. Buy the property off the fuckin' Sahotas and turn it over to Wendy to manage, as a city-supported cultural institution. Suddenly a whole bunch of people who count themselves as your enemies will start singing your praises.

Opportunity is knocking, you assholes.

The old A&B Sound doorway, by Allan MacInnis

7 comments:

Stephanie Smith said...

Right on. More righteous rage, people.

Anonymous said...

fuck...thanx for this

Anonymous said...

"Do you want to avert Riot 2010? Do you want punks in the city who are cursing the Olympics and planning to Fuck Shit Up to suddenly sing pro-Olympics anthems and contentedly find a comfy corner in your pockets?

Save The Cobalt. Buy the property off the fuckin' Sahotas and turn it over to Wendy to manage, as a city-supported cultural institution. Suddenly a whole bunch of people who count themselves as your enemies will start singing your praises.

Opportunity is knocking, you assholes."

This is laughable, and it's not that I don't identify with your viewpoint but nothing is going to happen during the olympics because the only people with balls to riot in this city and drunken, concert-going hockey-luvin suburbanites. A few punks here and there? no chance.

ammacinn said...

You're rather literal-minded, aren't you? Whether there's actually going to be serious protests or riots or so forth has pretty much *nothing* to do with the above piece of writing. You may well be right, but... so what?

Blake said...

A rant after my own heart.

Venues come and go. I'm sure a new one will make itself known, although its always a shame to loose places for bands to play.

The City has been selling itself out for the last decade, breathlessly addicted to a get rich housing boom and wanker retail gentrification, which has brought with it a knocking down of all the old stuff, only to be replaced by pressboard veneer shit that will show its dullness in a handful of years.

That applies to the culture of the city as well...
Although I suppose drinking buckets of corona, listening to AC/DC on a jukebox, and watching Ultimate Fighting with the sound turned off is pretty "world class" as far as a cultural experience goes. Its certainly popular in every part of the world I've been in. Admittedly, I have not traveled anywhere near as much as I would like.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that the GVRD has been chasing its young people out for a while, the demographic becoming overwhelmingly aging baby boomer... and I don't see the average 60 year old being the driver of "indie culture".

I see a future for Vancouver of becoming a Palm Springs with shitty weather. The main attraction being a wet day on the ski hill before a run to the pharmacy for dirt cheap medication.

Not that cheap meds are bad...

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

I will long remember my last visit to Noize. Bought an Enigmas record I was not sharp enough to have bought decades ago; an Ed Sanders record about drinking beer on the moon; and some stuff I do not remember. Dale was playing T Rex's Tanx record on the turntable. Tanx was one of the first used records I bought when I began collecting records as a teenager.

I hate it when record stores close. I have lost a great many of them. Long gone are the days you could get on the bus and spend all day getting stoned and visiting record shops. Employees as sharp as Dale would tailor reviews to you. A review something like, "It's not as good as Skrewdriver's first record but you might like it anyways," was usually enough to interest me.

Anonymous said...

Yes. The Olympics will not be stopped.
This is a city that voted Campbell in for a third term; unless the disenfranchised rebel-faction is too adept at hiding themselves, a few smashed windows and quickly-vanished sprayed slogans here and there are all that'll be said about it.
For whatever reason, us frustrated Vancouverites can't seem to grasp a binding element to group together to fight... well, much of anything, really.
All services to anyone needing them are shit-canned for a few weeks of rich kids throwing/passing things or sliding down hills, and - as Celine put down in Death On the Installment Plan, "The last one... hadn't done anything but screw up small businesses by making a lot of damn fools spend their money in the wrong way...".
A molecular portion will see the 'economic benefit' of it all, and we'll be left with the largest strip-mall in the western world and strip-mined benefits for all our future health needs.

Fer chrissakes people - VOTE next time, willya? And AGAINST Campbell.
For the party that actually has a chance of winning.

Nice post - came across it while searching for info on the old Odyssey Imports shop.
Thanks!