For the Georgia Straight’s 20th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team provides some insight into the irreverent details that make our city great. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2015.
Best news for our VFX and animation industry
Can you guess which city has the largest VFX and animation hubs in the world? Yep, you’re in it. After Sony Pictures Imageworks (shown above) relocated its headquarters to the newly renovated Nordstrom building in July here in our fair city, Vancouver became the city housing the biggest visual-effects and animation cluster on the planet. Among the other companies in the city are Method Studios, MPC, Animal Logic, and Industrial Light and Magic.
Best reason to stick with Fear the Walking Dead
If you’re like us, you’ll agree that Fear the Walking Dead has got off to something of a slow start. Instead of featuring flesh-eating zombies and enough gore to make Tom Savini puke, the Walking Dead prequel has played out like a slow-as-frozen-molasses family drama. But at least there’s an upside to things for those of us on the West Coast: Fear the Walking Dead has been partially filmed in Vancouver, which means Lotuslanders get to amuse themselves by spotting local landmarks.
The show’s Paul R. Williams High School, for example, is actually the former RCMP E Division Headquarters in Vancouver. Episode 2, “So Close, Yet So Far”, finds the bedroom walls of a teenaged character adorned with a poster for locally spawned power-pop unit Tough Age, while Eveleigh Street behind the Bentall Centre provides the backdrop for a massive confrontation between police and protesters.
The Surrey District Education Centre has doubled as the show’s Sisters of Mercy Hospital, while the barbershop riot scenes in the episode titled “The Dog” were filmed in an empty building at 346 Powell Street. If you missed all this, it’s probably because Fear the Walking Dead put you to sleep.
Best way to get Vancouver to remember Jon Bon Jovi exists
Best off-set drama on a film production
While Deadpool will be another action-packed superhero movie crammed with violence and explosions, the local shooting of the film proved to be unusually dramatic.
Richmond photographer Richard William Fedyck was arrested for allegedly hitting the film’s star and hometown boy, Ryan Reynolds, with his car as he left the Shangri-La Hotel. (Fedyck has denied the allegations, which have not been proven in court.)
Also, not everyone was happy with the production shutting down the Georgia Viaduct throughout April. The trailer, though, has offered plenty of recognizable scenes of Vancouver, so, hopefully, the end result will be worth all the drama.
Best East Side vinyl revival
First there was Horses Records, the cubby-sized and satisfyingly pretentious boutique vinyl/cassette/book store that appeared at 2447 East Hastings Street last summer as if a conversation between Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell finally manifested itself into three dimensions, 40 years later and 4,000 kilometres away.
Next came What’s Up? Hot Dog!, some five doors down on the same block (2481 East Hastings), where gourmet wieners were cooked up to a soundtrack of the Ramones and local diehards the Jolts. But things really started to cohere on this stretch of Hastings Sunrise when Hits and Misses Records (2629 East Hastings Street) appeared midsummer, offering vintage punk singles for shockingly low, low prices. From New York to London and on to Vancouver, punk rock was the mid-’70s answer to dramatic social decline.
Hastings Sunrise, on the other hand, is evolving from its working-class roots into the city’s newest refuge for the struggling middle class. You can write your own thesis on the bizarre sociological implications of all that, but know that there’s no better place in Vancouver to find a tatty used copy of Mikhail Bakunin’s God and the State, the Buzzcocks’ “Promises” in its original picture sleeve, or the most authentic cuisine the Bowery ever had to offer.
Best example of a CBC personality proclaiming that a music award ended systemic racism in Canada
Following a week of controversy about the maleness, whiteness, and indieness of the Polaris Music Prize jury, Grant Lawrence, a male, white, and indie CBC employee, took to Twitter after this year’s prize was awarded to Buffy Sainte-Marie.
“The #PolarisPrize is often called ‘too white’ and ‘too indie’. We now have very strong back-to-back winners that are Aboriginal women,” he wrote.
Lawrence later deleted the tweet after it received responses like: “Oh good, a white dude making a self-congratulatory dismissal regarding valid concerns about racism”, “problem solved”, and “the definition of missing the fucking point”.
Best latest celebrity visit to a local landmark
Lots of celebs have visited Ron Zalko’s Fitness & Yoga in Kitsilano—including Jane Fonda, Ryan Reynolds, Amanda Seyfried, two famous Jessicas (Biel and Alba), and Hugh Jackman—but owner Zalko might still have been a little surprised by the hour-plus appearance this past May 28 of superstar musical diva Lady Gaga.
He told the Straight that Gaga sang along to the music while she worked out and even signed a message in French and English on his wall before she left. “She kissed me on the cheek,” Zalko said. “I shouldn’t take a shower.”
Best way to get signed to 604 Records
When the gun goes off in Stanley Park, you know it’s 9 p.m. When Jonathan Simkin is spotted briskly walking down Main Street, you know it’s 3 p.m. As this fascinating, divisive figure makes his daily pilgrimage toward 604 HQ, he’ll most certainly be yakking on the phone. What he’s talking about, you’ll never know. But we strongly suspect he’s either making hit records happen or crushing the lives of his detractors, of which there are many.
Don’t worry if he’s midsentence: this is an opportune time to ambush him with a copy of your demo. (It’s precisely how Carly Rae Jepsen got signed.) However, if you’re not brazen enough to do that, simply add the music mogul to your professional network on LinkedIn, of which he is a huge fan, and send him an InMail with a link to your demo.