Monthly Archives: October 2007

Gung Halloween Fat Choy: Gung Haggis dragon boat paddlers go to Parade of Lost Souls

Gung Halloween Fat Choy: Gung Haggis dragon boat paddlers go to Parade of Lost Souls

Dragon Heads hiding in the night at the Parade of Lost Souls event on Saturday Oct 27th in Vancouver's Commercial Drive neighborhood – photo Todd Wong

“Where are you?” I talked into my cell phone, as I wandered through Grandview Park's lower field.

“We are over at the 'Table of Plenty'” said Tzhe.

“Is that near the Fire Dancers?”

“Closer to the candle alter.”

It was Saturday night in Vancouver's East End, and the Parade of Lost Souls was taking place throughout Grandview Park, the Britannia Oval, along Commercial Drive and throughout the immediate neighborhood.

We were a band of dragon boat friends from the Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dragon boat team.  Some of us had adopted the theme of angel wings to
coincide with a “life-affirming” take on the “Celebration of Life”
theme for the event organized by the Public Dreams Society. 

some of us had adopted a “fallen angel” theme.  My wings were actually
irridescent purple bat wings, and I wore a black carnival mask. 
Cecilia was a punk gothic fallen angel.  Wendy was sweet with white
angel wings.  Tzhe had one red wing and one white wing – that he bought
at Value Village…

We wandered around seeing puppet shows, dragon heads, carved pumpkins and a carnival band. Along Commercial Drive, we saw many many costumes.


We bumped into an old lady who turned out to by writer/comedian Charles Demers with his french maid fiance Cara.  Charles and Cara belong to the Gung Haggis family because Cara's brother Jonas is a 2nd year paddler on the team.  Two weeks ago, many of the team members came down to see Charles's sketch comedy show at the Media Club with his partner Paul Bae, as their performing group “Bucket.”  They sung their “Happy Hapa Song” – perfect for the Gung Haggis crowd.

Afterwards some of us decided to go home, and some of us went to a house party filled with lots of incredible movie theme costumes…

I met Bat Girl, Audrey Hepburn's “Holly Golightly” from Breakfast at Tiffany, Hellraiser, and even an Optimus Prime Transformer.  I saw a yellow Wolverine from the X-Men comic book… but thought the Jean Grey/Phoenix was incredible.

Perfect for Gung Haggis paddlers…  we bumped into a kilted William Wallace, who looked at me strange when I shouted out the Robbie Burns lines from the poem “Scots Wha Hae' wi' Wallace bled.”

 and a female pint of Guinness “dark body with a blonde head,” she told me
Amazing, that none of our group wore kilts.  Heck we wear kilts usually at least once or twice a month for Kilts Night and for dragon boat races anyways….

The surviving Gung Haggis paddlers who made it to the party.  Todd with bat wings, Alf as That 70's Guy with handle bar moustache (it's real), Hillary as (Not an) Asian warrior princess, pirate Leanne, Spider Woman Julie, and Tzhe with angel wings.- photo Todd Wong

Check out my flickr photos.

Halloween 2007

Halloween 2007

THE JADE RUBIES, book launch by Valerie Wong Oct 28

THE JADE RUBIES, book launch by Valerie Wong Oct 28

My cousin Valerie Wong is having a Vancouver book launch this weekend.
It is an independently published work of fiction.

JADE RUBIES – book launch

Sunday, October
3 – 5PM
Saffron Fourth Avenue Gourmet Foods,

2836 West Fourth Ave.,  Vancouver, B. C. 

Valerie is a great-grand-daughter of Rev. Chan Yu Tan.  She grew up in
Vancouver and was childhood friends with Wayson Choy.  She has written
a fiction book titled “the Jade Rubies.” 

As a young girl, Valerie heard many stories about Chinese handmaidens in
Canada.  The topic was fascinating, at times bittersweet, but also oddly
literating to learn just how strong the human spirit can be. She lives in San Jose CA

Please come, enjoy good company, and the publication by one of our Chan Clan members,

Cheers, Todd Wong

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: What if Led Zeppelin went bluegrass?

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: What if Led Zeppelin went bluegrass?

I grew up on Led Zeppellin Music… particularly LZ IV with Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog and Rock and Roll.  Over the last 10 years, I have listened to a lot of Alison KraussI saw her performance in Vancouver two years ago with Union Station, and also her performance with the “Down From the Mountain” tour of the music and musicians from the movie soundtrack for “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” 

But Robert Plant, lead singer for Led Zeppellin with Alison Krauss, and produced by T-Bone Burnett?  Did somebody slip some magic mushrooms into the sweet potatoe pie?

This is definitely crossing musical boundaries, as well as both sides of the Atlantic.  Lots of blues and rockabilly riffs here.  I have been listening to it everyday since it was released on Tuesday Oct 23.  Check out this YouTube video:

YouTube – Alison Krauss and Robert Plant Duet for

A look at the making of Raising Sand, a duet collaboration
8 min – Rated 5.0 out of 5.0

Review: Gravity astounds the senses – Tricia Collins takes the audience on a journey into her past and across two oceans

Review:  Gravity astounds the senses – Tricia Collins takes the audience on a journey into her past and across two oceans

Chapel Arts
304 Dunley St.
Oct 25 – Nov 3, 2007

It seems like a very Vancouver thing to be from somewhere else, to live in two cultures, and to share your family story, and to do it artistically.  But Tricia Collins is all of this and more.  Both she and her self-penned one-woman theatrical show Gravity are “very Vancouver.”

Tricia Collins is “hapa.”  Her mother’s family came from Guyana, and from China before that.  Tricia is an actor, a  writer and an amazing performer/story teller.  She also does acrobatic work while hanging suspended from cloth draping… and speaking in a lucious juicy Caribbean accent.  This is one smart talented agile woman who can capture your attention…. and hold it for a long, long time.Gravity is a multi-media theatrical work based on similarities in her
family history.  But Collins takes it much much further.  While images of knitting or maps are projected onto the wall, Collins tells the multi-generational story of 4 women.  The stories travel through and co-exist in time… and fall through time. 

When you first walk into Chapel Arts, on Dunlevy and Cordova, it feels different.  The last time I was in the building had been for the funeral of my grandmother’s brother, at least 15 years ago.  The former Armstrong Funeral Home has now been converted to an arts centre.  My grand-uncle Henry had worked for many years at Armstrong, and the building was packed to over flowing.  He had been a well-known community figure and had played and important role of helping to bring up his 13 younger brothers and sisters.  They were all born in Canada, grandchildren of Rev. Chan Yu Tan. 

It’s fitting that I now back in this building where I am attending a theatre work based on the family history of Tricia Collins.  Hers is also a story about the Chinese diaspora coming to Canada.  But her story comes by way of Guyana on the Caribbean coast of South America, where the Chinese worked as replacement labourers after the African slaves had been set free.

The chapel has now been turned into a black box theatre room with chairs set up on two sides of the room.  White sand is in the middle of the stage floor, with small lights in a large
circle.  Theatrical fog hovers over the floor, as fish netting hangs beside one wall, and a large wooden box is in the back corner.  Calypso music plays faintly in the background.   I got the feeling that something special is going to happen.

The house lights dim and Tricia Collins walks to the centre of the stage floor.  She explains to
the audience that her name is Maya, and she is working on her Ph.D. thesis and trying to help
counter the flooding in her family’s ancestral home of Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana.  A screen projection shows on the wall her project, and a map of Guyana, showing its location between Venezuela and Suriname.  A voice whispers…. words appear on the screen… and the storytelling magic begins.

Tricia Collins has created a riveting piece of work that interweaves the tale of her mother, her Granny Ling, and her mother before her, who was kidnapped from China and sold in Guyana, after being shipped in a crate across the ocean.  We learn about the hopes and dreams of each woman, and how they deal with the challenges that they find themselves in. Collins plays each of the women, as she simultaneously tells stories about them, in an attempt to unravel the mystery that binds them together, while pulling them apart.

Gravity is what creates the dynamic tension as Collins tells her story as she twists around, suspended in the cloth drapes. It is a unique visual device that I am more accustomed to seeing in Chinese acrobatic shows, modern dance or Cirque Du Soleil.  Collins moves smoothly, her foot deftly wrapping the cloth around her calves or ankles, or her hands wrapping the cloth into a bundle that becomes a baby as she gently rocks it.

The lighting design by James Proudfoot, video and installation by Cindy Mochizuki, stage  management by David Kerr, and direction by Maiko Bae Yamamoto are fantastic.

“This was the dream team,” Yamamoto repeated several times during the opening night  reception as we talked about the production. “They created all lighting and projections  specifically for this space.  James just lets the space talk to him and tell him what it needs.”

Gravity has been developed in several stages, and this is it’s most complete.  At times Collin’s character Maya interacts directly with the audience, talking as if presenting a lecture or at point – touching the arm of an audience member.  Other times, she is acting out scenes while telling her stories, oblivious to the audience.  Sound, projection, lighting, and Collin’s expressions, voices and movements complement each other on cue. This is an exciting production and well worth seeing, and telling your friends.

see a promotional video of Gravity: an interview with Tricia Collins about Gravity


Here is what Colin Thomas wrote in the Georgia Straight about Gravity:
Heart of City finds centre of Gravity | Tricia Collins’s one-woman show Gravity explores ideas of love, poverty, and race through her own family history, which stretches back to Guyana and China.


Hip Hapa and Happening… Oct 25+ Heart of the City Festival

Hip Hapa and Happening… Oct 25th to…

Harry Aoki at St. John's College, UBC,
October 25, 2007
 5pm Fireside Chat + 8pm performance

I have known Harry Aoki since around 2002 when he Margaret Gallagher introduced us.  Harry is a walking encyclopedia of trans-migrational music history.  He has performed his harmonica or double bass with me, or for events that I have organized… as diverse as Joy Kogawa House, Canadian Club Order of Canada/Flag Day luncheon, or Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events in Vancouver or Seattle.  Harry organizes First Friday Forum, a musical cross-cultural and historical experience at the Nikkei Heritage Centre.

St. John's College
is delighted to host Harry Aoki for a talk and performance. He will be
bringing a special band to SJC and invites people to bring their
instruments and join in. For more information on how to participate,
please contact Prof. Chris Lee ( This event is part of a series at St. John's College on Asian Canadian culture. Free and open to all.  5:00 PM Fireside Talk and Coffee; and 8:00 PM Performance St. John's College Fairmont Social Lounge, 2111 Lower Mall, UBC.

The Heart of the City Festival has some great things happening this week and weekend!
I am particularly happy to see so many names and faces that I know, and call friends…

Gravity (world premiere)
Chapel Arts
304 Dunlevy Avenue
Oct 25 -27, Oct 31-Nov 3

Tricia Collins is hapa.  She shares her discovery of a historical family mystery through a journey from China to Guyana to Canada.  I first met Tricia in 2003 when she came out to paddle once in a dragon boat –  thanks to her hapa friend Adrienne Wong who was a team member that year.  Tricia is a bright light in the world who always brings joy and enthusiasm to her endeavors.

Maiko Bae Yamamoto does some incredible things in theatre, whether it is creating a small box to perform in, or outdoor theatre with Boca del Lupo or a large production like Concubine's Children.  Here she directs Tricia Collins.

• The Heart of the City Festival is thrilled to present the urban ink productions world premiere of Gravity, written and performed by Tricia Collins and directed by Maiko Bae Yamamoto. Chapel Arts, 304 Dunlevy Avenue Gravity
is an exciting new collaboration of theatre and video installation that
interweaves storytelling, memories and the stitching together of myths
and facts. , Free preview Wednesday
October 24, 7:30 pm. Thursday October 25 to Saturday October 27,
Wednesday Oct 31 to Saturday November 3, 7:30 pm. Pay what you will
matinee Sunday October 28, 2:30 pm. For more information contact

Sawagi Taiko
Carnegie Community Centre Theatre
401 Main St.
Oct 26 7:30pm

The Heart of the City Festival presents a number of special concerts
this year by some of Vancouver’s finest world artists and musicians,
including Canada’s first all-women taiko group Sawagi Taiko, co-presented with the Powell Street Festival at the Carnegie Community Centre Theatre (401 Main Street, Friday October 26, 7:30 pm)

Silk Road Music (Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault)

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens
578 Carrall St.

Sat Oct 27 3:00

Qiu Xia He and Andre have been friends since I got to know them in 2003 when they were featured in the CBC television performance special Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  The Silk Road duo has performed at Gung Haggis Fat Choy in 2004, 2005 and 2007.  And we also did a First Night Performance together at Library Square to welcome in 2006. Their concerts are always special and warm-hearted.

Silk Road Music (Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault)
at the beautiful setting of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.  This show is being taped for CBC Radio. 

CBC Radio 2 105.7FM
  (578 Carrall, Saturday October 27, 3 pm).

Riot in Vanocuver (best of the film series)

Carnegie Community Centre
401 Main St.

Sun Oct 28 7:30

Karin Lee is the Gemini Award winning documentary of Made in China, a story about Chinese babies adopted by White Canadian families. She has also made “Canadian Steel, Chinese Grit” and more recently “Comrade Dad.”  She is a great person, and it was a real pleasure to get to know her during the Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.

•  In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the anti-Asian Vancouver race riots, we present a powerful evening of short films gleaned from Riot in Vancouver
a four part program by Asian, Aboriginal and South Asian media artists
that confront and question notions of displacement, family, language,
race and culture. Riot in Vancouver Artistic Director Karin Lee, co-presented with Anniversaries of Change 2007. Carnegie Community Centre, 401 Main Street, Sunday October 28, 7:30 pm

How I spent my summer and fall during the Vancouver library strike…What did I do on the picket line?

How I spent my summer and fall during the Vancouver library strike…What did I do on the picket line?

 IMG_2219  2Rosanne, Peter and Todd - CUPE 391 on strike - photo Todd Wong   IMG_1325 3Tai Chi in the morning CUPE 391 on strike - photo Todd Wong    IMG_1335 4 IMG_1569 5IMG_1658 6IMG_1616 6bTrivial Pursuit CUPE 391 on strike - photo Todd Wong      IMG_1366
1) July 26th Strike begins. 2) Day 9 – I got to know my co-workers better such as Roseanne and strike captain Peter deGroot. 3) I learned tai-chi taught by Tim Firth. 4) August 4- I
walked with our union in the Pride parade. 5) I bring my accordion down to the picket line. 6a) Day 15 We share food for our 1st potluck.  6b) Playing Trivial Pursuit with Matt and Rachel

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 7) Knitting hats for the homeless – I take pictures of my co-workers Diana and Tanya. 8) Day 16 We go to City Hall for a rally. 9)  I played music with my
co-worker Ross Bliss 10) Day 20 – I invited author Terry Glavin to speak. 11) Dr. Fred Bass, former City councillor gave words of support. 12) We engage the public – Donald works in the Federal Building, and he thanked me for work I did over a year ago on the information desk directing him to head tax documentation. 12b) I hang with fellow library working dragon boat paddlers Harvey and Connie.

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13) August 24, I invite Stan Persky to read.  14/15) We meet and welcome CUPE 15 members.  16) Aug 21, Day 34 I invite writer Tom Sandborn to come speak. 17) We initiate “Grandeur on Georgia” and wave to cars on Georgia St. 18) We initiate “Flying pickets” and go picket at different library sites spending 1 hr at each branch such as Hastings.

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19) Day 35 – I invite World Poetry to come read.  20) Aug 22 I invite Ellen Woodsworth, former city councillor to give words of support.  21) Globe & Mail reporter Laura Drake writes a story featuring James Gemmil and me. 22) Aug 23 Library workers picket with pizzazz appears in Globe & Mail.  24) Aug 23  I invite Chuck Davis to come speak. 24) We initiate “Grandeur on Georgia” with CUPE 15 Vancouver inside workers at Vancouver Playhouse/Q.E. Theatre.

25) I decide to wear lots of Hawaiian shirts on the picket line. 26) Aug 24 I invite Stan Persky to come read.  27) Aug 27 I invite Daniel Gawthrop to come read.  28)  We go to City Hall for another rally.  29) Ellen Woodsworth introduces me to other union and community organizers.  30) I introduced city councillor Raymond Louie to my fellow library workers. 30b This picture of me, my accordion, picket captain Alexis Greenwood and city librarian Paul Whitney made it into the Georgia Straight article Boss and union tell different tales.
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31) Aug 30 – I invite Hiromi Goto to come read.  32) Aug 30 I hurt my back lifting a flat of water and have to use a wheelie-walker.  33) Sep 6- I invite poet Rita Wong to come read.  34) Sep 7 I invite Vancouver poet laureate George McWhirter to come read. 35/36) The media comes to film us doing “the wave” with our strike signs.

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37) I have to play accordion sitting down now.  38) Sep 14 CUPE 15's Theatre show comes to Library Square.  39) I take them to CBC studios and find somebody from the newsroom.  40) We are filmed for the evening news. 41) Sep 27  Back to playing accordion for Grandeur on Georgia. 42) Sep 29 – I emcee the inaugural music cabaret for Vancouver District Labour Council, organized by Earle Peach, and funds raised are giving to CUPE 391, by Bill Saunders VDLC president.

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43) Sep 30 – I play accordion for Word on the Strike, a parallel complimentary event to Word on the Street.  44) Author Jean Barman came to say Hi while I played accordion at Word on the Strike. 45) Oct 5 – Author Naomi Klein comes to read, invited by Craig Searle.  46) Oct 9 – Voting Day on the mediated recommendations, We visit with CUPE 15 who will be going back to work. 47) CUPE 391 votes 78% NO and rejects mediator's recommendations.  48) Oct 12 Jinder and I play chess.  49) I help with the information booth with Kristie and Angela.

October 21st, we vote 71% to accept new contract with changes to the mediator's recommendations.
October 24, we are back working at the library.
July 26 to Oct 21st – 87 days of strike action.
The first ever strike in CUPE 391's 77 years of union history.

Read Todd's stories about theLibrary Strike

See Todd's pictures at
Todd Wong's Flickr site


Vancouver library workers back at Libraries today: historic first strike is finally over

Vancouver library workers back at Libraries today: historic first strike is over.

No more enthusiastic pickets like this anymore….  CUPE 391 Vancouver library workers really raised the bar for creativity on the picket line. See Globe & Mail story: Library workers picket with pizzazz. This photo si from september 21, 2007. day 58. photo by rabidsquirrel

The historic first library strike is now over.  On Friday CUPE 391 voted 71.4% to accept the new changes in latest contract proposal with their employer the Vancouver Public Library.  The Library board ratified the contract on Saturday morning.  And just like that… all the picket signs were finally officially down. 

On Sunday, Branch and Division heads and seniors attended meetings to discuss re-opening the library for Wednesday.  Late Sunday afternoon I met our CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg, at the Dream Vancouver conference and we talked with some of Vancouver's community activists, leaders and city councillors.

I went to work at the Oakridge Branch Library today.  This is where I usually have a regular Monday 1-9pm shift.  Tomorrow I will work at Champlain Heights Branch.

Working with my co-workers, many whom I had last seen on the picket line at Library Square, or at the voting meeting on Friday… felt kind of comfortably strange.  “I'm so used to seeing everybody all bundled up,” I said referring to the cold wet weather that had marked the last month of the strike. 

The branch was closed to the public as we unpacked boxes of books, checked them into the computer system, revised them in order and shelved them in their places.  The feeling was generally jovial, as we worked fast and efficiently, taking pride in jobs well done and happy to be finding our groove.  I did raise a concern about RSI injury, because our muscles and joints are not accustomed to the book handling actions, after 3 months of not working.  We switched jobs every now and then, chatted about our strike experiences… the good the bad, the surprising.  It was fun to be back with my co-workers again.

There's going to be some time for reflection about our time on the strike.  There have been friendships and bonds created that will last a long time.  We have seen people step up, that we didn't expect.  We have thanked our committees and leaders, and extended our warm support to them.  But it's not over yet… there are plans to document our historic strike action, and a cook book on how to hold a strike CUPE 391 style!  With puppet shows, chili recipes, knitting for solidarity, author readings, bicycle pickets, bbqs and all the creative and unique things that our members did to engage the public and the media with our message, and to keep our spirits up and build solidarity on the picket line.

CUPE 391 president Alexandra Youngberg with job action committee leader D'Arcy Stainton, a former union president. August 16th, Day 22 on strike.  Who knew there would be 87 days on the picket line? – photo Todd Wong

Today, Monday morning, Alex Youngberg, CUPE 381 President was interviewed on CBC Radio's Early Edition by Rick Cluff.

Rick: “Happy to be back?”

Alex: “Most of our members looked eager to take on their duties again.  It's a mixed emotion of course, we are going back united to carry on our fight for gender discrimination in other venues.

Rick:  “However, do you feel you made inroads.  Because at least you brought the issue to the fore, the city recognized it, mediator recognized it, and they're working on it.”

“Yes, we've definitely raised our profile on this issue this round of bargaining.  The results aren't what we intended, but as you say, the mediator clearly indicated that pay equity is a problem at the City of Vancouver, or we wouldn't have gotten 14 wage adjustments.  That's rather a backwards way of doing it,  We should have established that there was a problem, and the wage adjustments would have been the result.

Rick Cluff: For a union that hasn't been out before… What was it like for your members?

Alex: “Catatonic…  To begin with… because, we are very much engaged with public service, and that direct contact.  The public and the staff tend to support each other in building community.  We take questions, We give answers.  We learn from them what they need, and we learn how to give better responses.  It's a very symbiotic relationship.  We had to learn other ways to engage with the public being on strike.

“It takes a lot for this group, after 77 years, to go out on strike.  So the issue of unfairness of not being paid for equal pay for work of equal value had been an issue for 26 years and it had to be finally dealt with on a different level.”

Rick:  “And for picket line rookies, what was it like when the inside and outside city workers went back a week before you?”

Alex: “Well actually, we had several projects in the pipeline to engage the public.  They hadn't quit at all at that point….

“We actually wanted to give the public back their space.  The public deserved to be back in the libraries and there were other places to take this issue now that we've raised our profile.”

Rick: “Now back to pay equity which was perhaps the major stumbling block, what do you feel you've achieved there?”

Alex: “Well, beyond the recognition… we do have a committee to discuss classifications. The employer has been very careful to keep that term “pay equity” out of the contract when it describes this committee but we will be meeting until 2009 to discuss these issues.  We have also done a great deal of networking across North America on this issue and there's many female-dominated work forces whose issues are similar to ours and they are engaging with us.  So this issue of gender discrimination has become a social justice cause that has gained recognition with a lot of groups and we are working together now politically and we will be seeing different ways to resolve this”.

Well done Alex!.

Listen to the full Rick Cluff – Alexandra Youngberg interview on CBC Radio Early Edition

AUDIO: CUPE 391’s Alex Youngberg reflects on her union local's first strike (Runs 4:50)

For information about the library hours, date due, no fines etc.

All branches will reopen on Wednesday, October 24 according to their
normal operating hours.

Full services, including complete electronic services,
may not be immediately available.

We are currently preparing the libraries to serve you and
look forward to restoring services in the coming week.

No late fees will be charged for the time the library was
closed or during the first week or reopening.

Items that were on hold when the labour disruption started
will be held for pick up for an additional week.
There will be no charge for holds that expired after July 25.

Loan periods will be extended for all materials checked out during the first week of reopening.

Items normally on loan for 21 days will be extended to 28 days.

Items normally on loan for 7 days will be extended to 14 days.

Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival delights with authors and intercultural insights

Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival delights with authors and intercultural insights

On Friday morning I listened to CBC Radio's Sheila Rogers interview with Jen Sookfong Lee as they talked about Lee's debut novel The End of East, which is partly set in Vancouver's Chinatown.  Lee is one of the many featured writers at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival this week.  She is featured in the program Fresh Faces in Fiction on Friday and GAWK on Thursday night.

The interview was pre-taped at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden.  Rogers asked Lee about the state of Vancouver's Chinatown, and what it meant to her, as well as what it meant to be a Chinese-Canadian author.  Lee, of course, said that there are many different views to Chinatown and she could only represent her own.  And in the same way there are many different types of Chinese-Canadians, but to be put in the same grouping as Wayson Choy was wonderful.

Dan Seto, Christine Chin and Todd Wong meet Jen Sookfont Lee in May 2007 – photo Julie Wong

Hearing Jen Sookfong Lee on the radio reminded me of
meeting her at the CBC Radio Studio One Book Club back in May.  She is lively, expressive and articulate.  She loved the SKY Lee book “Disappearing Moon Cafe” and would use that as a guide post for her own novel. “No incest – good,” she joked. 

The Festival runs until Sunday.  And many writers from around the world and from different cultures are featured including Helen Oyeyemi, Kiran Desai,

I would have loved to have seen Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who is hapa and the daughter of the famed Dr. David Suzuki, dicuss how youth can help change the world.  Vincent Lam won the Governor General's award for his novel Bloodletting and other Miraculous Cures – which I enjoyed immensely.

But somehow being on the picket line at the library seemed to deny me the usual connections with books, literary festivals and money.

If you can check out events for Sunday, October 21.  It includes the 11:30 Sunday Brunch at Performance Works  hosted by Gloria Macarenco  and authors Peter Behrens, Justin Cartwright and others.

Maritime Medley features author Alistair MacLeod and the Chor Leoni Choir, at 1:30 at Waterfront Theatre.

Paul Gran hosts the After Noon Tea at 3:30 at Performance works with Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Edward O. Phillips, and Célestine Hitiura Vaite – who comes originally from Tahiti and writes about frangipani.

The Bill Duthie Memorial Lecture is given by Eleanor Wachtel who will speak about her long friendship and communications with author Carol Shields. “Random Illuminations is Wachtel’s collection of
those discussions, which offer us an intimate portrait of a great
Canadian writer. Wachtel is widely admired for her contribution to arts
journalism and as the host of CBC Radio’s Writers & Company.”

Accordions, multiculturalism and the evolutionary psychology of Charles Crawford.

Accordions, multiculturalism and the evolutionary psychology of Charles Crawford.

I spent 5 years studying psychology up at Simon Fraser and I never took a course with Charles Crawford, known as one of the leading figures in evolutionary psychology. 

I was more interested in the relationship of psychology and health, so I took courses in health psychology, psychology of emotions, behavioral methods, mental health.  I was interested in humanistic and transpersonal psychology, so I took history of psychology, social psychology and I also did my own directed studies.

So I never learned that Charles Crawford played accordion. 

I learned that James Marcia played trombone, because I took his upper division course on Issues in Social Psychology which that year concentrated on Mythology.  Reading Joseph Campbell was great…  I even brought my accordion into class one time, when we did a presentation about creation myths.  I played J.S. Bach's Toccata in D Minor… because for me, it's all about the creative process.

Check out this story by Charles Crawford.

Charles discusses multiculturalism,  the brain drain and the accordion.  He inter-relates these seemingly different topics when the last accordion teacher registered with the BC Music Teachers Association leaves Vancouver for more work in the US. 

Charles cites the demise of the Bordignon accordion factory in Vancouver (formerly on Hastings St.) while in Seattle, the Petosa Accordions flourised.  Crawford writes:

“Vancouver was once a vibrant centre of the accordion. We had
outstanding accordion performers and teachers, such as Alf Carlson, Bob
Dressler, Joe Morelli, and Ernie Rilling. The Bordignon family built
accordions in Vancouver for 75 years. Their skill was such that they
repaired accordions and other free reed instruments for the
Smithsonian. Why had the Petosas prospered in Seattle while the
Bordignons faded in Vancouver?

“We had a rich repertoire of
folk accordion music brought to Canada from all over Europe. What
happened to it? We have modern composers, such as Barbara Pentland and
Murray Schaffer, who write for the modern art accordion. Yet, our one
remaining accordion teacher was planning to fly south.”

I can certainly attest to Seattle's vibrant accordion scene.  When I was still entering accordion music competitions, my teacher would always enter us in the local Vancouver Kiwanis and Coquitlam music festivals.  As numbers became smaller for these events, we would enter the North West Accordion Teachers Music Festival in Seattle.  It was huge.  You could enter your age class, and open division, and also the King or Queen division.  One year I played the 17 page Manhattan Concerto in my bid to become “King of the Festival.”

a) Bagpiper Joe McDonald (in Lion mask) and Todd Wong in 2005 rehearsal for Gung Haggis Fat Choy; b) Todd Wong filmed by CBC camera crew for the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy at the open house event for Joy Kogawa House; c) Todd Wong and his accordion on the picket line during the recent CUPE 391 Vancouver library workers strike d) Gypsy jazz guitarist Ross Bliss and accordionist Todd Wong trade licks for versions of Sweet Georgia Brown and O Solo Mio.

Maybe Charles Crawford and I will have to get together.  I have a Titano free bass acordion.  My repetoire includes Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Orpheus in the Underworld Overture, Puccini's Un Bel Dei from Madame Butterfly, and Scott Joplin's The Entertainer.

Maybe I will have to play some celtic jigs and reels.  I have played jazz, and folk tunes with Japanese-Canadian musicologist Harry Aoki.  I have played with gypsy jazz guitarist Ross Bliss.  I have even played the Chinese traditional song “Jasmine Flower (Mo-li Hua) on accordion for CBC radio while my friend soprano Heather Pawsey sang in mandarin Chinese.