June 17, 2017

Battle of Ballantyne Pier ~ the pitch at In Tune 2017

On this day, one day short of the anniversary of the Battle of Ballantyne Pier, Sherry MacDonald and Earle Peach pitched their new musical at In Tune 2017, a showcase of new Canadian musical theatre, and its a presentation of Touchstone Theatre in Vancouver.

Sherry MacDonald, Earle Peach,
Kevin Armstrong & Jeff Hoffman. Waiting.

First of fourteen presenters, Sherry and Earle presented the opening number in their musical: The Battle of Ballantyne Pier. Called Life on the Hook, it's a loud and raucous number that celebrates men on the docks, in the middle of the 1930s: lifting, hauling, pulling, and all for scandalous pay and terrible working conditions.

Sherry introduces the musical's opening number

In 1935 the men on the docks had been striking for several weeks. They were being replaced by scabs, and on June 18, two thousand members and supporters of the fledgling union peacefully marched down Hastings. They were met by mounted police, teargas, batons and live ammunition. While The Battle of Ballantyne Pier, the musical, is not a historical piece, the events of this day in Vancouver's history provide the context for a powerfully dramatic story.

Earle Peach, Jeff Hoffman & Peter Boychuk

Performing with Sherry and Earle were Kevin Armstrong, Jeff Hoffman and Peter Boychuk. Sherry is writing book and lyrics for the musical, Earle is the composer. Local 500 of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada, the ILWU,  have expressed interest and support for the project.


Composer, Earle Peach

Sherry MacDonald is a writer and playwright, most recently having her work, The Seduction Theory, produced at FemFest in Winnipeg. Earle Peach is an activist, composer, musical director, and leads the musical group: Illiteratty.

Earle Peach & Jeff Hoffman

Photos by Jeem.
Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

June 11, 2017

The balloon incident ~ April 15

It was the annual Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver. About 250,000 people attend every year. During an election year, this event is a grand opportunity to meet people, introduce yourself and your candidate, and possibly discuss issues of the day. Or so it seemed to me. Boy, was I surprised.

We showed up early in the morning to set up. Signs, banners, leaflets, and of course: the bright orange helium balloons for which my party is famous. Since Jeem was very early indeed, he got to put up his candidate's signs in the most prominent places.

It turned out we were too busy to talk with anyone. It was a non-stop balloon-making hullabaloo. Instead of engaging with voters, we had an assembly line trying to keep up with the frenzied demand for balloons, from thousands of people

And, how many volunteers does it take to blow up one balloon? I've often wondered about that question, and now I know.

Madeline Lalonde
 Candidate for Vancouver-Quilchena

We went through two tanks of helium and hundreds and hundreds of balloons. Several thousand in fact.

The candidates who showed up, including the leader, were enlisted to make, and hand out, balloons.

Kelly Green
Candidate for Richmond-Steveston

Long after our candidates departed Jeem was pulled aside by some official event organisers who reminded him (he appearing to be the official representative for the BC NDP at this point) that we had been told a number of times over several years that balloons were not to be used at the Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver. "We want to be environmentally responsible, and helium and plastic balloons are not being responsible," they said with slightly raised voices. "Oh, I didn't know," was Jeem's reply, and that didn't go over too well. So...

"I think the Liberals are giving out balloons too," Jeem said. "Their tent is over there," as he pointed vaguely, in a westerly direction.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

June 08, 2017

Haultain Fish & Chips in Victoria

Recently we were in Victoria for a brief visit and found a great little diner. You've seen its adverts on the ferry and in the guide books; it seems to be a Victoria institution, and it's certainly a throw-back to a different time.

Haultain Fish & Chips has been in business since 1924, and current owner Mary Schmidt continues a neighbourhood tradition that appeals to locals and tourists alike. When we arrived, a few minutes before it's Sunday lunch-time opening, there were already people waiting.

While there are several things on the menu, it's mainly fish and chips and basically cod or halibut, with frozen fries. The fish is mostly okay, though ours, on this day,  was a wee bit over-cooked.

Haultain Fish & Chips Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nothing fancy here. Simple surroundings and simple food. If you're okay with a strange kind of 1960s vibe, and a greasy spoon sort of atmosphere, this could be your kind of place.

Well worth a visit. Once.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

Campaign Office Opening: Cake, coffee and a crowd ~ April 8

Jeem had little to do with the selection of a campaign office for the candidate. In fact, none of us did in the end. Not even our friend, and lawyer (disbarred) to Jeem y Sherry: B.T. Mendelbaum.

The busy intersection of Cambie and 41st was too good an opportunity to miss, and the candidate had made his decision. The fact that it was also a block away from the Liberal candidate's office might have been a factor too; the "my office is bigger than your office" kind of thing. The street-side visibility was fantastic. Unless you were in the office and then you couldn't see out at all, as the windows were completely covered in an expensive and scenic plastic wrap.

Mendelbaum thought it seemed a bit too much like a political massage parlour inside, but that was their opinion.

The riding association did a traditional campaign office opening: Cake, balloons, notable guests, speeches (with translation provided). We invited the membership, along with some notable guests. The candidate arranged for a multitude of seniors to come by bus. Or so it seemed. "Not that there's anything wrong with that," offered B.T. Mendelbaum.

The crowd was amazing. In fact the crowd showed  up before the candidate arrived, and ate all the food without him getting a morsel.

Jill Marzetti, Campaign Manager

Gordon August with Sherry

Jill Marzetti, from Toronto, was the day's host. She was also our candidate's hardworking, devoted, dedicated and determined Campaign Manager.

The gathering was honoured to have Gordon August, Sechelt Chief, give a welcoming blessing. And Stefan Nielsen introduced our candidate.

Stefan Nielsen

The last piece of cake

Akeena Legall, office staff, & Bruce Ross, long time member

And as quickly as they arrived, the seniors, and everybody else it seemed, climbed back into their buses and headed home. Campaign volunteers, including your faithful scribe, ventured into the neighbourhood for some door knocking. The campaign was underway.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.