Urban Greenspaces: More Than A Nice-To-Have

It’s my assertion that public greenspaces should not be treated like nice-to-haves. They are essential,  reflecting our need for diverse landscapes and uses to add spice to life. Further, easily accessible greenspaces and parks add to our psychological well-being and overall health.

A part of this has to do with some of the obvious implications of this, which includes making the simple act of taking a walk somewhere close by a more attractive prospect. Add to that a place where one can walk while not breathing in the fumes from cars that certainly add to an overall better health quotient. There is also the mental, and dare I say spiritual, aspects to greenspaces and parkland in urban and/or suburban settings. A 2010 study has shown that there is less stress, less anger, less fatigue, and fewer depressive emotional states when interaction with natural environments are made readily available to citizens.

Studies aside, how good do you feel while in the shade of trees, with nothing but the songs of birds duetting with the chuckling ravine as your soundtrack? What about the very presence of other species of birds, small mammals, and even reptiles like turtles as a reminder that we live on a planet that is characterized by balance and diversity, and that we are a part of something much greater than what we ourselves can build up? Continue reading “Urban Greenspaces: More Than A Nice-To-Have”

Of Hero’s Quests And Yellowed Pages: My Life In Used Bookstores

Even when I was a kid, I loved used bookstores. I loved them in part because I’ve always loved stories, and storytelling. They are integral to the human experience. But I also loved them for the quest.

As we’ve learned from Joseph Campbell by now, so many of the stories we love share the same patterns. We can even pick them out as we read them. Yet they still seem to retain their power. We can all relate to the idea of the quest. I suppose that’s because, in the end, that’s what life actually is.

Buying books and comics is a pretty straightforward exercise these days. But those interested in the quest don’t much care for the straightforward. For me, the quest is where the magic can be found. I want the objects, sure. But as a kid and even now I wanted the adventure of finding them, too. In this way it’s not just about collecting objects. It’s about the idea that there is a hero locked inside everyone and that the purpose of life is to set the hero free somehow.

All of this wasn’t something I could put into those terms when I was in elementary school, learning to ride my bike, and then becoming curious about the world around me. But I understood it, and I aspired to be a questing hero anyway. Continue reading “Of Hero’s Quests And Yellowed Pages: My Life In Used Bookstores”

Walkable Cities: Can We Be Happier Than We Are?


There has been a recent study that says that walkable cities do not make people happier. According to that study, this is because in the most walkable North American big cities such as Boston and New York City, there is a huge wage gap relative to cost of living for many of those city’s residents.

You can see where this is going already. With so many people working multiple jobs and trying to feed children, doing so at wages that are not in keeping with their financial constraints, the issue of how many walking paths, green spaces, or bike lanes in a given neighbourhood isn’t likely to make much of a dent on the happiness front in relation to those harsher realities.

My response to that, of course, is just this: duh.

Continue reading “Walkable Cities: Can We Be Happier Than We Are?”

16 Easy Ways To Find New Music

Some people say  that music isn’t what it used to be. I know what some people mean when they say this. But, for the most part, the fact that music isn’t what it used to be is a good thing. Don’t be fooled; this is a golden age of being a music fan, where nothing is old if it is new to someone. The main trouble isn’t about the lack of good music. During time of fragmented media and the lack of trusted and official curators, it’s often about how to find the best of it. How do you find new music, then?

At the beginning of the year and in the season of resolutions to make positive changes in our lives, I’d like to offer a few starting points to this quest, this hero and heroine’s journey toward your personal musical golden fleece – or fleeces. Like in any journey like that, there are trials and challenges to face. But, these are fun trials and challenges to consider as you get your “find new music” game faces on. Continue reading “16 Easy Ways To Find New Music”

May 25 Uptown Live 2013: Music In New Westminster Streets Again!

Photo supplied by Hyack Festival Association
Photo supplied by Hyack Festival Association

Once again, music will fill the streets of New Westminster with a line-up of lower mainland indie bands of various stylistic stripes courtesy of Uptown Live. The event will also feature food carts, and family events for everyone’s enjoyment.

Starting at 1:00 on Saturday May 25th after the Key West Ford Hyack International Parade, a cross-section of local musical talent from all over the Lower Mainland is set to entertain crowds, touching on a rich spectrum of musical delights. The event is a part of the celebrated 42nd Hyack Festival, and presented by Royal City Centre and Westminster Centre. Continue reading “May 25 Uptown Live 2013: Music In New Westminster Streets Again!”

Music in New Westminster streets May 26 at Uptown Live

Uptown Live

We’re set to have music in the streets of our city with Uptown Live, an event to take place on multiple stages in uptown New Westminster on May 26, from 12PM to 5PM.

The performances will take place an on four sponsored stages, free to the public. This includes a “kid zone”, making this a family event for children and adult music fans alike. Entertainers Gary Oliver of Cinemazoo, Gina Marie Frazier, Clare Brett, and Keith Bennett will be on hand on the VanCity Kids Stage from 1-4PM.

On three other stages, nine Vancouver-based acts will entertain crowds with music that spans the pop/rock spectrum. This is a chance to discover some of the incredible and versatile talent this region has to offer. Check the Uptown Live map to see where the stages are to be set up.

Many local vendors and businesses will be out on the street too. This is a great chance to show local business your support as you take in the music.

Besides the wheres and whens of the event, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about the acts you’ll be seeing during Uptown Live, and to provide some links so you can preview some of the music you’ll be hearing, and plan out your day to catch each act.

Who: Dan Moxon Trio (1PM, CIBC Main Stage; 3PM River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: folk rock, baroque pop

Being a side project from his other musical outlet Bend Sinister, Dan Moxon Trio represents an earthy and melancholic side to Moxon’s songwriting, with a decidedly acoustic approach. Think Iron & Wine, and Elliott Smith for musical reference points here, and be prepared for a crystalline acoustic sound that will catch your ear for the unassuming, yet compelling melody.

Listen/buy: “The Corner”


Who: Earlstown Winter (2PM, CIBC Main Stage; 4:30PM River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: roots rock, country rock

Loose, free, and easy country-influenced rock which is not a million miles away from Blue Rodeo or Ryan Adams is what you can expect to hear from Earlstown Winter. The music suggests road trips taken in order to forget lost love, or the quest for one yet to be found.

Listen/buy: “Porch Lights”


Who: The Gay Nineties (3PM, CIBC Main Stage; 5:15 ,River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: post-punk, power pop

If you hear something of a Hot Hot Heat-style spiky-yet-sunny nu-new wave in The Gay Nineties, then it may be because this band follows a similar stylistic path. This is influenced in part by ex-HHHeater Parker Bossley who plays guitar and sings in this band, adding some joyous spiky sunshine that is unique to them.

Listen/buy: “Favourite Game”


Who: No Sinner (4PM, CIBC Main Stage)

What kind of music is it?: classic R&B , rock n’ soul

Sweet soul music mixed with rock sounds has been a potent brew for decades. No Sinner continues the sacred tradition with a phenomenal handle on the kind of music that is perfectly suited for open air performance; funky, physical, primal. Fans of Etta James, Susan Tedeschi, and Bonnie Riatt take note.

Listen/buy: “Call My Name”


Who: We Are The City (5PM, CIBC Main Stage)

What kind of music is it?: art rock, cinematic pop

We Are The City adds cinematic scope to texturally varied rock music along the lines of the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. The music from this band is in places hypnotic, lyrical, spacious, epic-scale, and is sublime all-around.

Listen/buy: “Mourning Song”


Who: The New Values ( 1:30PM, Safeway Main Stage; 3:45, River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: punk

Named (presumably) after an Iggy Pop record, this is the sound of energetic punk rock that changes direction at any moment, infused with the vigour  and spirit of early West Coast punk traditions for which this region is famous. The New Values continue in that tradition proudly, despite any misleading biographical information you might have heard about this band online.

Listen/buy: : “Axe On Your Doorstep”


Who: Fine Times (2:30PM, Safeway Main Stage )

What kind of music is it?: post-punk, new wave

There is something of ’80s post punk to be found in the music of Fine Times, mixing electronics, with jagged guitar, with big drums in the spirit of Echo & The Bunnymen, and Psychedelic Furs. Sonic contrast between light and dark will keep your musical ears interested.

Listen/buy: “Lions”


Who: The Left (3:30PM, Safeway Main Stage; 6PM, River’s Reach Stage)

What kind of music is it?: radio rock, anthemic pop

If you crave big, radio-friendly hooks on an epic scale to shout along to, then the Left will deliver. Taking their cues from classic traditions of melodically-driven pop tunes in a rock vein made for heavy radio-play, this band is ready to become a part of your mainstream.

Listen/buy: “Love Don’t Work”


Who: The Zolas (4:30PM, Safeway Main Stage)

What kind of music is it?: art pop

The Zolas musical home is held up by similar foundations to that of The Shins, mixed with the poptastic groove of Franz Ferdinand. A sort of Ray Daviesesque approach to songwriting that is laced with sumptuous irony are only one of the treasures to be found in the music of this band.

Listen/buy: “Cultured Man”


Music is an essential part of being human. It doesn’t matter who you are; you enjoy some form of music. It’s a necessity to life. Spiritually speaking, it’s how we nourish ourselves, and how we bring our communities together in celebration.

Music in the streets is how things should be, friends.

For more information about Uptown Live and the artists who will be playing, check out the Uptown Live official website. Also, don’t forget to investigate the individual sites of the artists above, and seek out their work to buy online!

See you all in the streets on May 26th!