Friday, November 12, 2021

A tangled tale of t-shirts, with Ian Tiles, the Pointed Sticks, the Vicious Cycles and Chaos, Disorder and Panic

So: Ian Tiles, Pointed Sticks drummer, has been selling t-shirts for awhile now as part of the sprawling open air market that one finds in the DTES. I believe the shirts he sells are all his own design; I could be wrong, but they're very cool, and made with an eye for the neighbourhood. Photographer Gord McCaw, who has been attentive to this and occasionally posting about it on Facebook, tells me that "Ian can be found at the NE corner of Main & Hastings, but I believe it's (for obvious reasons) pretty weather-dependent. He is usually there around 3pm for two or three hours. It's unfortunate he isn't on FB or some other social media because I'm sure there's lots of people who'd like to contact him about buying a shirt" (including people from other neighbourhoods, who might not otherwise want to head to Main and Hastings on the chance that Ian is there). Here are some of Gord's photos of Ian and his (deeply cool) t-shirts! 

Ian Tiles at work, courtesy Gord McCaw, not to be reused without permission

Well, when I arrived at the Chapel Arts free concert the other day, a few blocks from this storied intersection, the Pointed Sticks on the roof of the building, which was where they were originally scheduled to play, and Ian was chucking shirts to the crowd below. Nothing like throwing free stuff to people to get'em worked up for a show! I have no idea how many shirts he threw, but they seemed, as they rained down into the open arms of members of the crowd, like the bundles people were catching were suspiciously small to be adult-sized shirts.

Turns out they weren't. When I caught one - it was almost like Ian threw it directly to me, thunking into my chest and open arms - I quickly unraveled the bundle, held together with a rubber band, curious to see what I'd gotten. It was, naturally, a Pointed Sticks shirt, but - far from my preferred 3XL - it was about the size of a shirt that a five year old might wear. 

I am somewhat larger than a five year old, but what the heck, it was fun catching the shirt. I turned around to the crowd - which included a list of cool Vancouver music scene lifers, including Bud Luxford (he's photo-shy these days but hopefully doesn't mind my mentioning him); Zulu's Grant McDonagh; a generous helping of SexBombs, including EddyD, Tony Lee, and Jazzy; Richard Chapman and Kristina Mameli, who must have commuted in, like me; the Rickshaw's Mo Tarmohamed; Noelle of Chaos, Disorder and Panic - whom I interviewed here; ace photographer Bob Hanham; LGA alum Sonny Dean; and Robert of the Vicious Cycles, with his girlfriend. I saw no five year olds in the crowd - I think, given the average age of the crowd, all their kids are probably in university, minimum, but I held up the teeny orange shirt I'd caught: "Okay, who here is really small?" I shouted.

Rob-of-the-Vicious-Cycles-MC's girlfriend piped up, from about a foot away: "I am! I am!"

I looked her body up and down in a way that would, in other circumstances, have been an invitation for Robert to punch me, and said, "You sure? This shirt is pretty tiny!" 

She had t-shirt fever, though: "I'll take it!" 

Okay, 'nuff said - I passed it on, turned around and got my camera ready to shoot a little vid of the Pointed Sticks, who had come down from the roof, to everyone's surprise, and were right in front of us when the loading bay door rolled up. Sadly, their opening song - by far my fave Pointed Sticks song, "The Marching Song," which introduced the band to me on the Vancouver Complication album - was suffering from some unresolved sound issues, by which Nick Jones' vocals were all but inaudible. The problem persisted into the second song, with the band playing gamely on like they were on the clock (maybe they were? It was a short and sweet set). As Nick's vocals suddenly manifested, I got ready to shoot the next song, standing with Bob Hanham right up in front of the crowd, gathered on the blocked-off sidewalk; that was when a boomer couple with a giant, open umbrella stepped in front of me. It was barely even raining! I spent the rest of the show peeking under their umbrella or around their shoulders, wanting to cuss them out for their obnoxious display of entitlement, standing in the very first row with a huge fuckin' umbrella like there was no one behind them at all, except for all I knew they were good friends of the Pointed Sticks; hell, maybe they WERE entitled? I talked myself down from a brewing hissyfit and made the best of it, keeping to my spot. 

(Pointed Sticks by Allan MacInnis)

All the while, Gord McCaw was busy zipping all around, even taking a knee - he's probably the most physically engaged of the photographers I've seen at work since the days of the great, much-missed Femke van Delft (if she still takes photos at shows, I don't see'm, but back when she was shooting the Subhumans and the Rebel Spell and Bison and such, she'd climb shit, and once even went and bought new lightbulbs for the Cobalt, so as to get better pictures; gotta admire that commitment, since most photographers would just complain about the light not being good, without even thinking to DO something about it!). Bob has a fantastic eye, too, mind you, and might have taken a knee once or twice himself, but Gord was the only guy I saw routinely getting his pants damp, to say nothing of suddenly  manifesting behind the drumkit, then out on the sidewalk, then to the left, then to the right... he was kinda fun to watch at work. The vocal glitch with the first two songs aside, it was a great set, drawn from all phases of the band's career, including one of the new songs that I talked to Nick about a few posts back, and two songs that have yet to be released, "Pessimist's Son" (the chorus has a line about being "too tired to go to sleep"). The other new song, not played live, that will be coming out sometime before Christmas, is called "Snapshot," written by keyboardist Gord Nicholl ("it sounds like demented Schlager music," Jones quipped to me later. "We're not back in the studio until December 18th, and we have two small fixes to make on them," after which they will be downloadable or streamable on the Pointed Sticks' bandcamp). If you weren't there and want a sneak preview, you can hear "Pessimist's Son" in a video I shot, along with one of the band's standbys, "What Do You Want Me to Do." I mostly was able to get a window between the two boomers and below their umbrella, though I didn't get a lot of Gord or Ian... 

Anyhow, while I had his attention, I asked Nick why the band decide to play from the loading bay, and not the roof. "When we went on the roof the other day at 4, the wind was blowing pretty ferociously, and the Doppler radar was showing another big band of rain." (There had been a torrential downpour earlier). "I actually thought that, while not as exotic, the garage probably offered a better viewing experience for the crowd. We sure had fun!"

End set. Noelle came up to me to tell me of a recent gig at the Black Lab, where, despite being a bit of an underground/ off-the-radar venue, they are following provincial health orders and loading chairs into the pit; punks can be incredibly socially responsible people, against all the stereotypes about them. At some point, Ian walked up, and I joked with him, "That shirt you threw me wouldn't even fit her!" - pointing at the diminutive Noelle, simply by way of illustration - and he said something about deliberately trying to give people shirts they could give to kids (...start them young, I guess; clever!). But he did something I didn't expect, coming back to give Noelle a shirt that WOULD fit her, a small adult shirt in hot pink with Pointed Sticks! written on it. It was a very sweet, and unnecessary gesture, complicated by the fact that Noelle in no way would be caught dead in hot pink. So she gave it to me - not wanting to seem appreciative, but truly, this is NOT a hot pink kinda gal!

Later it occurred to me: wait a sec, the girl who was with Rob of the Vicious Cycles WOULD fit into the hot pink shirt, and the orange kid's shirt that I gave her would eventually (maybe in five years?) be wearable by my newborn nephew. (Erika and I had been talking about giving the hot pink to one of my nephew's older sisters, who I guess are my nieces-in-law, but they're teens and probably have their own ideas about what they want on their t-shirts. Rumi, on the other hand - my newborn nephew - would be more likely, when he grows into the shirt, to wear something by a band he's never heard of). Maybe Rob and I could swap? I emailed Rob, and his girl was into it, so a couple days later we met up at Carson Books and Records on Main Street and made the exchange, beards sticking out of the bottom of our masks. 

Vicious Cycles MC don't have much news at present - no gigs lined up, though they are working on a record "for release in 2022 at some point," Rob tells me. Noelle, meanwhile - as Chaos, Disorder and Panic - will be playing as part of the Vine Fest Fuck Vancouverites concert at Grandview Park, going on at 5:20, on a bill with a few other artists, including the amusingly-named, highly tuneful punk band Bedwetters Anonymous, who are a bit more akin to the Pointed Sticks than Chaos, Disorder and Panic are. I wont be able to be there - now that my radioactivity is under control (it's a long story that I no doubt will get to elsewhere, related to my cancer treatment), I have puppies (and a nephew!) to visit - but here's hoping the rain lets up for the show today. If it doesn't, though, and boomers stand in front of you with an umbrella, snatch it from them and break it over your knee, okay? And if they complain, just say, "Fuck Vancouverites!"

...And look for another surprise Pointed Sticks gig in an unusual location, sometime in the near future; the guys had a great time the other day, so there may well be more to come! 


Unknown said...

Theres a reason Van De;ft doen;r show her face. She takes pics benfits let her into shows for free and NEVER produces the photos to the Artisit she's filming. Out of sight; out of mind. For the best.

Unknown said...

There's a deal with Sudden Death records confirmed to release Los Popularos featuring Art Bergman and Zippy. You might want to interview Tony Bardach, and Joe Keithley about it. I put the deal together; but a chat with Bardach might help to thrust it forward. Ames

Allan MacInnis said...

Not true. She IS protective of her work, and I have sometimes run afoul of her in that regard, but she provided tons of photos for free for magazines and publications I was writing for, and I connected her with several artists who liked her work. At some point she disappeared from the music scene, at least that I saw, but her contributions for the years ww worked together were fantastic. I will be right back...

Allan MacInnis said...

Here. Femke worked damned hard to get the shots here, and they're amazing, and all she asked for was credit (I did guestlist her). We actually had a bit of a falling out around this time, and maybe both did things the other was unhappy with - but, I mean, what would you like her to be doing that she wasn't...?

Allan MacInnis said...

Very cool news, Mr. Ames - would love an excuse to talk to Tony - he is a very sweet dude. Thanks for the heads up.

Allan MacInnis said...

Note to readers: I did check in with Tony, and at this point, where there IS interest in a Los Pops release, it's contingent on tapes being found, Tony tells me. So nothing is happening soon - there is nothing for it to happen with, at least until certain people plunge deep into their storage lockers and locate this material. When there is an actual release date, if I haven't died of cancer (or exasperation with David Ames) I will possibly do something, but folks, don't hold your breath, here - the "news" above is no news at all, other than that Ames has gone from leaving abusive messages about what a backstabbing bastard I am to wanting something from me. I guess that's an improvement...!