i wrote this.

BeatRoute Magazine


White Lung were born out of Vancouver’s “weird punk” scene, and cut their teeth alongside arguably weirder and punk-er bands like Nu Sensae, Twin Crystals, Shearing Pinx, and the Mutators, playing in meat lockers-turned-music venues like Emergency Room Strathcona and other now-defunct art and music breeding grounds once tucked in alleys and behind padlocked doors throughout East Van.

The band is a far cry from the rats and doorway-hookers of Vancouver, and with a new album set to drop June 17th, and a world tour already underway, White Lung are well on their way to shedding any vestiges of “weird” or “punk” as they loosen up their tightly wound, strangled vice grip-sound, coax out a few melodies and move out to L.A. all in the upcoming months.

Their new album Deep Fantasy is the stuff you’d…

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Collisions: Langara Design Formations grad show

Langara Design Formations finishes the year with ‘Collisions’

‘Collisions’ brings 2D and 3D designs into perspective

What does it look like when a 2D object hits a 3D one? You can find out at the Langara’s design formation grad show,Collision, which will show at Langara starting April 3.

The title Collision hints at the multidisciplinary format of the program, in which students create pieces that run the gamut from 2D prints to 3D sculptures.

Design formation program head Marcela Noriega said the show draws inspiration from the cube. “You can see [the cube] as a 2D form or you can see it in perspective, inside or out. The idea behind it is the collision of these two worlds, 2D and 3D.”

Langara’s main foyer will ‘Pop’ during grad shows

The show will be held in Langara’s Pop gallery, a temporary gallery that will be in the main foyer of Building A until the end of May.

These kinds of pop-up galleries are the industry standard for accommodating travel and dwindling gallery spaces, said Tomo Tanaka, chair of creative arts.

Bridging the gap between students and employers

Collision is the final school exhibit for these students before graduation.

“The idea is that [it’s an opportunity for] people from the industry get to know the grads, and some of them get contacts later and get to go for jobs,” Noriega said.

Mostly though, Collision bridges the gap between study and practice, Noriega said. Students show their work in a professional gallery setting that is student-driven from concept to fruition.

Everything from the theme of the show to the works included – right down to the curtains and carpets used on opening night – is a culmination of planning and design by the students themselves, said Noriega.

“The exhibit is completely conceived and produced by them and that gives them the confidence that they can do it.”


Drunk on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day booze: festive or excessive?

A selection of St. Patrick's day's finest on tap at Shebeen in Vancouver. (Photo: Notable/Notable.ca)

A selection of St. Patrick’s day’s finest on tap at Shebeen in Vancouver. (Photo: Notable/Notable.ca)

A frosty pot of gold at the end of a rainy day

Every year, St. Patrick’s Day blows into town like a drunk in an old Western film, bawdy and ready to fight.

But the holidays have simply become an excuse to drink the mid-March blues away with very few people actually celebrating the holiday for what it’s really about.

We all want a day off come mid-March. It’s cold, rainy and, aside from the odd cherry blossom, it’s a grey month for Vancouverites.

We’ve long forgotten our Christmas cheer and summer seems like a distant, unattainable daydream.The calendar seems rife with income taxes, end-of-term assignments and final exams for the foreseeable future.

Once March 17 hits, it seems like everyone is long overdue for some fun.

And this year was no different.

St. Patrick’s Day leads to hangovers and regrets 

Throngs of people put on their green outfits as if they’re invincibility cloaks. The guise of a holiday, a tradition, that must be treated with respect and celebrated dutifully, allows folks to pound back countless pints.

And when March 18 rolls around, the bleary-eyed masses feel no shame despite the fact that they’re nursing a mind-bending hangover on a Tuesday morning.

Most St. Patrick’s Day partygoers would be hard pressed to come up with the holiday’s origins or meaning.

It’s a holiday from Ireland. The Irish like to drink, right? It’s a holiday about drinking!

Break away from the (six) pack next year

St. Patrick’s Day is less a holiday and more a get-out-of-jail-free card for anyone over 19.

A walk down Granville Street the next day is more than enough evidence of what the Feast of Saint Patrick really means to us: drinking, drinking and more drinking.

In the clamour of it all, people forget that just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you should too.

Next year, take it easy on St. Paddy’s Day. If you need a day off, just wait for the weekend. Throw back a pint of Guinness, just one, and relax.

And if you need a break from the stresses of the season, find a friend or a professional to hash things out with. Your liver will thank you in the long run.

NYC Field Studies at Langara

Langara’s NYC Field Studies program

Previous NYC Field Studies students pose in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York City, NY. (Joanne Horwood)

Previous NYC Field Studies students pose in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York City, NY. (Joanne Horwood)

Not just for theatre students

Students are invited to take a trip to New York City this summer to experience world-class theatre and innovative performance as part of Langara’s External Studies program, taking place May 11th – June 1st, 2014.

The entire 3-week long trip costs $2,599 – which doesn’t include airfare. Anyone who meets Langara College’s entrance requirements is welcome to apply, and an additional loan funding may be available for those in need of financial aid.

Langara College instructors Joanne Horwood and Jill Goldberg will take students  to Manhattan, where they will live, learn and experience live theatre, art, poetry and performance in a fun, hands-on environment that is almost completely classroom and textbook-free.

“It’s like learning in a way that is memorable,” said program founder Joanne Horwood. “And that is something that is really special to us, as teachers.”


Unique and flexible learning experience

Langara’s Field Studies program is also unique in it’s flexibility and curriculum – which incorporates English 1191: History of Drama and Theatre II coursework with New York City’s diverse selection of on and off-Broadway plays, poetry slams, and filmmaking events.

Possible performances this year include Of Mice and Men starring James Franco, A Raisin in the Sun with Denzel Washington, and an adaptation of TV’s Dexter starring Dexter himself, Michael C. Hall.

The wide range of performances also includes a day trip to Philadelphia and poetry slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café, giving students a learning experience that would be hard to recreate anywhere else.

Life-changing experience

“We had one girl who told Jill (Goldberg) that she came back feeling more confident, like she could do anything. She just gained so much confidence just being there.”


For those looking to explore New York, but lacking theatre experience, don’t fret – the program is tailored to include Studio 58 theatre buffs and theatre newbies alike.

“My goal is to get as many students experiencing live theatre as possible,” Horwood said.

Previous NYC Field Studies students pose outside a theatre performance on Broadway. (Joanne Horwood)

Previous NYC Field Studies students pose outside a theatre performance on Broadway. (Joanne Horwood)

Click here for an interactive map of the stops along the New York trip.

The Addict Next Door

Junkies are alive and living next door (to your West Village condo)

Addiction is a painful, overwhelming secret for a lot of people, and I think that the world finally has a chance to clue in on the fact that there are dudes, successful, family men and women, housewives, teenagers…that drift away quietly, unseen, towards a point of no return. Who shoot drugs or take pills and die facedown in the bathroom.

There needs to be another tier to the whole recovery/harm reduction system – one that catches people who haven’t hit rock bottom, yet.

Waiting to hit rock bottom

Rock bottom is a pretty harsh, life-and-death place to be, yet there isn’t anything besides AA meetings and t’ai chi for addicts with jobs, mortgages, kids, sunny dispositions, brushes with happiness, anything to suggest a comfortable life.


In the end, unfortunately, junkies are all the same. They live and die and use drugs and whether or not it’s a secret or an obvious truth, whether it exists in a piss-stained alley or cozy West Village apartment – it’s all the same. Until you enter the weird, weird world of recovery.

Recovery: bottom out or die trying

The process of getting clean is a strange beast, that has yet to evolve from ye olde lock-up rehab clinics and ‘i feel’ statements in group therapy, to something inclusive, or at least familiar with people that don’t fit into the ‘junkie’ stereotype, physically, mentally, in terms of lifestyle, whatever the situation may be.

Nobody really needs the rehab spas and the Dr.Drew crowd hugging it out until probation ends. And not everybody needs the intensive, 72 day hospital-style rehabs and detox clinics. There is little in between, at least in Vancouver, and at least if you are looking to get well within the public healthcare system.


Sadly, aside from a few street detoxes and shelter-cum-sober living operations in the DTES, an addict’s health concerns must fall in the ‘post-treatment, group meetings and therapists’ category or the ‘intensive, long-term rehabilitation’ one. There is no grey area.

Rehabs wait for you to hit rock bottom, but some people don’t want to, or can’t wait to bottom out. There is a lot at stake for many people, too much to risk losing. Treatment almost seems like a jail sentence, one that you must impose upon yourself. That’s a lot to ask from anyone, nevermind the commitment-phobic, constantly running, drug addict tiptoing around the rocks beneath them.

 Rehab isn’t real life

Even when you get in, most inpatient rehab/treatment centres do little more than tossing as many addicts as possible into the temporary, mindless bliss of AA/NA meetings, breakfast, activities, lunch, one-on-one, meds, dinner, bedtime.What the fuck is that? Senior living? Summer camp?

Recovery often means another role, illusion, faking-it-till-you-make-it as a clean, happy person.

There needs to be a place to get help, get sorted, in a way that will be somewhat applicable to real, stressful, chaotic as fuck, life.

Cambie West gets rezoned for condo development

Vancouver city council rezones Marpole property for high-rise development

By Hannah Myrberg

Langara grad and NPA city councillor George Affleck (foreground) attends a public hearing where a developer’s application to rezone a property in Marpole was approved unanimously. Photo by Hannah Myrberg.

South Vancouver will be the home of two new towers after Vancouver city council unanimously approved a developer’s rezoning application for a property in Marpole.

Following a Jan. 21 public hearing at city hall, council voted in favour of Wesgroup Properties’ plan to develop a 28,000 sq. ft. property at 8175 Cambie St., the former site of a Petro-Canada gas station.

The plan includes 368 condo units in 12- and 31-storey towers, 15,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and a 37-space childcare centre, to be built near the Marine Drive Canada Line station and Marine Gateway development.

The developer also secured $2 million for a 4500 sq. ft. space that is expected to become the home of Marpole Oakridge Family Place, which is still closed after it flooded in December.

Oakridge and Marpole residents speak out against project

Tracey Moir of the Oakridge Langara Area Residents group was the only speaker to voice opposition to the project at the hearing, while three others spoke in favour of it.

“This undermines the Cambie Corridor,” Moir said of the development. The Cambie Corridor plan is part of city hall’s goal to create sustainable urban neighbourhoods.

Marpole resident Janet Young raised questions about the development in a letter to city council.

“This development brings around another round of change to our neighbourhood, and it is difficult to envisage what it will look like and how it will impact our lives,” she wrote.




SALOME patients prepare for a legal battle against Rona Ambrose, the health minister who effectively ended an opiate-based treatment that saved their lives.


A rain-soaked man sits, sweating, eyes watering, clothes soaked, in an alley somewhere in downtown Vancouver. He wraps a tourniquet tightly above the crook of his elbow, clenches his fist, and pushes a needle up and inward, plunger pulled back. A flash of blood appears and he knows he’s hit a vein. Success. He pushes the plunger down, sweating, shaking, then bites down on the loose end of the tourniquet, snapping it off with his teeth. The body that was wracked with pain just moments ago falls away in one fall swoop – like a heavy coat, down the shoulders and onto the ground. This is heroin.

And that was the life that Larry Love lived for twenty years. For him, the constant struggle to find and use drugs was as close to a living hell as you can get. Heroin withdrawal felt like an agonizing, itching death – you feel it the bones, the tendons in your back. When you throw up it pulls at the inside of your stomach so violently you feel as though you’re being turned inside out, stomach first. It wraps itself in the roots of your teeth. You don’t sleep.

The site of SALOME's clinical trials administering legal heroin to high risk addicts in downtown Vancouver.

The site of SALOME’s clinical trials, where opiate-based treatment – including “synthetic heroin” was tested as a harm reduction and recovery strategy for high risk addicts in downtown Vancouver. (Providence Healthcare)

For people like Love, whose long history of failed attempts at recovery had made him an unsuitable candidate for rehab  – where spots are limited and even then, only become available after 2 weeks of clean urine tests – there was no middleground.

It was a choice between using heroin or getting sick, really sick – and then, inevitably, using heroin anyway.

Love, like many other high-risk, street-involved heroin addicts, had the odds stacked against him – whether he continued using or not.

The retention rate for heroin addicts who enter treatment is dismal on all counts, and the risk of overdose doubles if an addict relapses.

In Canada, the only legally viable heroin substitutes are methadone and suboxone, and both are long-term, extremely structured regimens that require refrigeration, carefully measured doses, and close contact with a prescribing doctor at all times. Those that need it the most, are often unable to maintain a methadone-based program until they find housing and adequate stability both mentally and physically.

A New Treatment Option

The SALOME project and it’s predecessor, NAOMI, attempted to fill the gap and catch the at-risk, street-involved heroin addicts that methadone and suboxone had not helped. The average SALOME client had around 11 attempts at treatment under their belt before entering the program and were the most costly individuals: requiring countless tax dollars as they routinely encountered hospitals, police, and income assistance.

Diactylmorphine, one of the opiate-based compounds tested during the SALOME clinical trials in Vancouver. (Nick Procalyo/Vancouver Sun)

The SALOME project, with it’s high success rate and retention of patients beats methadone, suboxone, and all other currently available treatment options in terms of lowering crime involvement, dependency on hospitals, jails, and quality of life. Most importantly, it works, dramatically, at giving the most hard to treat addicts a path out of addiction and street life.

The catch? SALOME’s treatment involves administering heroin, to heroin addicts. And is now tied up in moral red-tape, most recently from health minister Rona Ambrose, who effectively shut the SALOME clinical trials down in November of 2013.

In an effort to save the program, SALOME clients and doctors, backed by Providence Healthcare, have taken Ambrose to court over a charter violation. If they succeed, clinical trials of heroin-assisted-treatment will continue in Vancouver for the next two years.

Canada is currently the only first world country without a heroin-assisted-treatment (H.A.T.) program in place for at-risk addicts.