One more Month to Sample

Pam and I were walk­ing home from din­ner (we were hun­gry, so we feast­ed on the deli­cious All-you-can-eat Sushi, Kore­an bar­be­cue, tem­pu­ra and Ton kat­su at Shabusen, up the hill on Granville) when she point­ed out that we’ve been in Van­cou­ver every month of the year except for June. In a week and month ahead, we’ll have been in Van­cou­ver for at least some peri­od of time in every month of the year. (in mid July, we’ll have lived here a year — already!).

This is sig­nif­i­cant, because I’ve some­times remarked that this city does indeed have a Jekyll and Hyde per­son­al­i­ty; actu­al­ly it’s more an Apol­lo and Diony­sus dichoto­my. At any rate, what I mean is there is a brainy Van­cou­ver, and then there is a more lan­guid, epi­cure­an Van­cou­ver. These two faces make their appear­ance depend­ing on the change of the sea­sons.

Here’s how it goes: Half of the year, the city’s res­i­dents must duck into a dry library, con­cert hall, movie the­atre, book store or work­place to escape the con­tin­u­al show­ers. There, by the gas fire and sip­ping ser­i­al lattes and cap­puc­ci­nos, we hun­ker down at our com­put­er screens and note­books, write nov­els and soft­ware, think deep thoughts about cul­ture and phi­los­o­phy, lis­ten to count­less new music con­certs and go to doc­u­men­tary fes­ti­vals into the sun­set (which takes place at about 3 PM). In short, Van­cou­ver assumes the role of Seat­tle of Cana­da. Maybe with a touch of Prague and Cam­bridge (OK, OK, I’ll stick with Seat­tle).

Then in late April, the city under­goes some­thing of a meta­mor­pho­sis. Like those mousey librar­i­ans of those clichéd movies (and episodes of ‘Love, Amer­i­can Style’ ) who remove their cat’s-eye glass­es and with a twist of their head, unfurl their long, brown hair from the bun it’s been in since Novem­ber, the city mag­i­cal­ly trans­forms into a Par­ty Girl. Or, Surfer Dude. The beach beck­ons, and we leave work to take a long walk, or sip some Mer­lot (or beer). There are flow­ers every­where, and a book is OK, as long as it’s sur­round­ed by a pic­nic. The sun sets at 9 PM, so every day is poten­tial­ly a lit­tle mini vaca­tion. To be sure, it’s hard to sit inside at work when you real­ly want to be wear­ing sun­glass­es and saun­ter­ing down by the water. Van­cou­ver becomes Canada’s San Diego. Per­haps even a lit­tle LA and Cannes. (Oh all right. San Diego.)

In a lit­tle over a week, the Game­lan I play in, Madu Sari, is play­ing at Simon Fras­er Uni­ver­si­ty (where we usu­al­ly rehearse) in the after­noon, and then in the evening, we per­form at the In the House Fes­ti­val, where a series of peo­ple in East Van­cou­ver open up their homes and back yards for a series of eclec­tic con­certs and Bur­lesque shows. Well, maybe some of that Apol­lon­ian, intel­lec­tu­al side does last through in the Spring and Sum­mer months.

The most notable thing about the Game­lan rehearsals at SFU late­ly has not been the fact that my bus trips to Burn­a­by moun­tain are no longer into the dark, but that we seem to be com­pet­ing against the March­ing bands of Bag­pipers who are also prac­tic­ing on cam­pus (I assume for Grad­u­a­tion Cer­e­monies in month or so) . It is tru­ly a mul­ti-eth­nic Ivesian (and in fact, I’d ven­ture to say, typ­i­cal­ly Van­cou­ver) expe­ri­ence to hear the duel between Javanese Per­cus­sion and Scot­tish Pipes.

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