February 01, 2016

Human Library at the PuSh Festival

Human Library is an experiential work that began in Denmark 15 years ago when a group of young people created a project to promote dialogue, following a hate crime against a friend. Today there are Human Libraries in 65 countries and thousands of people around the world have engaged in conversation with strangers.

Two years ago The Murray Chronicles visited The Human Library at Vancouver's annual PuSh Festival when Sherry was a "book." The Vancouver event has grown significantly since. Located in the Vancouver Public Library's main branch downtown it's attracting more and more "borrowers" every year.

Under the thoughtful direction of Dave Deveau and Zee Zee Theatre, Human Library in Vancouver is gaining attention within the community, and the PuSh Festival itself, as a way to connect in ways beyond the capability of our digital devices. These are real conversations with real people. It can be uncomfortable for some, and rewarding for all.

Up the escalator to the third level, then to your left ,is where you can check out your "books." And it's at this point you begin to realise that it's all about having a conversation with a stranger, without any filters. It's twenty minutes of getting to learn something about someone you might otherwise never meet, and to breaking down the assumptions that limit your view of the world. It's not so much about the "book" as it is about you: the reader.

There are over twenty titles this year, including The Upside of Depression, Life in a Pinball Machine, Single Mom of 3 Boys, Pill-popping, Prostitute, Psychotic…Politician,  Letting go of Letting go, and Gay Teen at the Height of AIDS. And Sherry is back too.

Human Library runs on weekends through Sunday, February 7th. Like public libraries everywhere, it's free and highly worthwhile. No late fees.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

January 16, 2016

Misty for me... in Gastown

After our chicken and waffle feast at Tuc, we went to a musical event at the Firehall Theatre. Something about Leonard Cohen...

By the time we left the theatre, it was dark and a gentle mist covered the downtown.

It's beautiful in this city, at night, in winter, when a fog-like mist chills you to your very bones.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

January 15, 2016

Tuc Craft Kitchen in Gastown

What is a tuc I wonder?

In Gastown, apparently it's a fabulous restaurant called Tuc Craft Kitchen.

We had been here before one early afternoon during a recent rainstorm before Hogmanay. Then, the place was almost packed. This time we called for a reservation before arriving and that was a good thinking on G. G. Bylnn's part because Tuc certainly isn't flying under the radar anymore, if ever it was. On our most recent visit the estimated wait time without a reservation, was well over one hour.

Everything about Tuc is good. Service is warmly attentive and professional. Our server offered thoughtful suggestions and informed answers to our questions, which mainly involved the impressive cocktail list. All the drinks appear to be well prepared and nicely presented, and priced reasonably; something that isn't always the case in this city.

Jeem tried a Jaral Caesar, which features mescal, jalapeño and cilantro. It was so good he had to have another to confirm matters. Sherry and Susan had Sunrise Mimosas, which was evidently delicious (Summerhill organic Cipes, Grand Marnier and cherry herring) and not as sweet as might have been expected.

We were here for brunch, before a show at the Firehall Theatre a few blocks away. The menu is inventive yet familiar too. What many people have discovered about Tuc, and one of the reasons we're here on this day, is the Crispy Chicken Waffles. Generous portions of local, free-run chicken breast done in a thoroughly crispy manner, reminiscent of that bucket of chicken we sometimes enjoyed as children. Tuc's version uses less salt and better chicken obviously, and it shows in the taste. The waffles are savoury and the toppings are sublime.

Jeem, remembering his family roots, had a dish named Okonomiyaki, which is a variation on the traditional Japanese pancake, with shredded pork, cabbage, barbecue sauce, kewpie mayonnaise and bonito flakes. It was pleasing in every way, but not in the same way as the fried chicken.

So. To recap. Tuc is fantastic. Make a reservation. The chicken can sell out, so ... don't dawdle.

We're coming back for dinner one night. It's the kind of place that offers great service, some wonderful mixed drinks, wines at reasonable prices and authentic food. Taken all together, those ingredients make Tuc Craft Kitchen a rare find indeed: locally owned and inspired, unpretentious and good. It's a place to come with friends and family because that's the way Tuc feels, and isn't that what dining is all about?

Tuc Craft Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
The coffee is damn fine too.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.