The Scope’s critics pick their favourites from what this summer has to offer.
Water fight and water balloon photos by Ryan Davis
Big thanks to Steve Pike, Mark White, Mike Worthman, Meghan MacNeil, Sarah Rowe, Hilarie Vatcher, Sherri Levesque, Charlotte Reid, Kira Sheppard, Kaya Anderson Payne, Bryhanna Greenough, and that one guy whose name eludes me who held up the “visual art” balloon for being in the photos.
For more water fight photos, see the gallery.
Sarah Smellie with her picks for this summer’s big festivals
BLUE + GRASS = GREAT
Let it be known: The Mount Pearl Bluegrass Festival is a kickin’ good time. Trust me on this one and head on out to Glacier Arena in Mount Pearl, August 17th to 19th, for the third annual Mount Pearl Bluegrass Festival. This year’s festival features Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, from Texas, the Bluegrass Diamonds and True Blue, from New Brunswick, and St. John’s own Crooked Stovepipe. Truth be told, I don’t know any of these bands either, but the fact is bluegrass music, whether you like it or just tolerate it, is a whole lot of fun – stomping, clapping, whirling about and singing at the top of your lungs are all expected forms of behavior. The festival also features bluegrass workshops, which are free for everyone. Festival passes are 10$ a day or 35$ for the whole weekend. Past attendee’s tip: Bring your own lawn chairs. Check out www.bluegrass-nl.ca for information.
For a more eclectic mix of music, the 31st Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, in Bannerman Park, is scheduled for August 3rd to August 5th this year. The full line-up for this year’s festival is being announced tonight at the Crow’s Nest at 7:30pm, and our only insight so far is that acts will be coming in from as far away as Australia. Expect good things. Information about ticket sales, festival schedules and volunteering information can be found at www.nlfolk.com
BLUE + BERRY = GREAT
For some downhome, good old fashioned fun, the Brigus Blueberry Festival, voted a top insider spot for Canada by travelocity.ca, is celebrating its 20th year from the 9th to the 12th of August. This year promises to be just as big an extravaganza as last year, with a two day folk festival, pie eating contests, comedy dinner theater, moose burgers, craft vendors and raffles – a fine excuse for a weekend road trip. Check out details and pictures of the massive swarms of people at last year’s festival at http://www.brigus.net/blue.htm
Erin McKee draws on this summer’s artistic offerings.
Do you sketch your waitress on napkins with your morning coffee? Build robots from plumbing supplies? Make mobiles from seeds and leaves? Assemble little pinecone people? This summer is your chance to shine: there’s still plenty of opportunities for artists—amateur and professional alike—to get involved in many of the events happening around town.
pARTicipACTion in your Environment
The 3R Recycled Art Exhibition will showcase creatively transformed trash. The show will be on display for one short week, June 30 – July 7, at the Eastern Edge Gallery on Harbour Drive. On the afternoon of June 26th, the gallery will host a (free!) hands-on workshop on recycling materials into art; this is a great opportunity for creative types to liberate their apartments of items that can be refashioned into something more compelling. Are you saddled with a stack of old love letters, a broken can opener, and a surplus of plastic bags? This is your big chance! Open to everyone, the deadline for submissions to the art show is June 27th at the Eastern Edge.
The 3R show and workshops are part of a new, larger arts and environment festival – pARTicipACTion in your Environment – which is the result of a Voltron-like affiliation of several local arts and environmental organisations: the NL Environmental Network, Anna Templeton Centre, Sierra Club, Eastern Edge Gallery, the Craft Council, the Clay Studio, and St. Michael’s Printshop. Events will be happening all around town.
Garden and Nature Art Exhibition
Another kind of green art will be on display at the MUN Botanical Gardens from June 29 to August 26th. The 30th Annual Garden and Nature Art Exhibition started as a space for emerging, non-professional artists to exhibit their work non-competitively, and to increase awareness of our natural surroundings. All kinds of submissions are accepted, with one catch: all pieces have to represent “all-natural” subjects only: that’s flora specifically, and fauna not so much. (No pets, man-made objects, or people.) In the past, in addition to paintings, drawings, and photographs, they’ve had everything from quilts, facemasks, painted rocks, a really big kite, and a child’s wood scene of twigs ‘n’ glue on display. Some people have been submitting artwork to the festival for its entire 30 years – Mary Kelly, a former hiker of the trails at Oxen Pond, has displayed her embroidery work at the show nearly every year.
For the 30th anniversary, they’ve framed newspaper clippings from over the years. At one of the opening receptions the lights went out, leaving everyone to peer at art in the flickering candlelight. So come prepared. The deadline for submissions is June 21st; application forms are online at www.mun.ca/botgarden or you can contact email@example.com for more info.
24-hour Art Marathon
On August 18th-19th is the annual Eastern Edge 24-hour Art Marathon, where you may notice someone contemplating a giant canvas of inky squares or stumble over a girl tucked into a corner of a hallway writing in a tiny notebook. The performance events that become the stuff of local rumours and legends happen late into the night, so don’t miss it. Volunteers, participants, and sponsors are still needed. Contact Michelle at the gallery for more info: 739-1882.
The Victoria Park Lantern Festival
This annual festival is always a flurry of kinetic art activity – it’s one of the few events that completely transforms a tiny park in west downtown St. John’s into a magical, ethereal landscape for an evening. Bring a child and a camera on July 28th, or get involved in one of their upcoming lantern-making workshops. They’re also looking for volunteers and donations of glass jars: email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
Leyton Gallery Summer Show
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out The Bonnie Leyton Gallery Annual Summer Show, showcasing work by artists represented by the gallery. The Leyton Gallery is a small, intimate space with a wonderful storeroom where you can lose yourself for a short while among the prints and canvasses. The show takes place from July 28 – September 2nd. Selected artworks of gallery members can be seen online: www.theleytongallery.com.
What’s an artist anyway?
Last but not least, don’t forget your art event! Grab some friends, raid your closet for art supplies, hit up thrift stores for things to use, and stage a guerrilla art event of your own! Get outside, bring a picnic, and make zines in the sunshine. Take your watercolours and pencils out on the East Coast Trail and paint icebergs and imaginary monsters in the sea… the best part about many of the visual arts events happening around town this summer is that you can get involved, or create your own.
Shalon Butt boxes up some box office offerings.
The Cask of Amontillado/ The Rats in the Walls
For the love of God, Montresor! go see these praeternatural productions. Shakespeare by the Sea presents two classics of horror back to back, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and, a first for the company, H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls.” They’re creepy enough in their own right, but to see them by candlelight in the Newman Wine Vaults should be outright phantastic. And who better to direct than Dale Jarvis, of Haunted Hike fame? So go and be transfixed. Just don’t get too close to the walls. July 18-August 20, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm. $10. www.nfld.com/~sbts/
To further indulge your macabre appetite, Shakespeare by the Sea invites you to meet Scotland’s most ambitious social climbers, the Macbeths! In this updated production, however, they rise through the sound, filth, and fury of the punk scene. Featuring original punk music by Sean Panting and actors trained in stage combat, Macbeth promises an evening filled with punk grime and gore. No one born of woman should miss it. Directed by Jennifer Deon. The cauldron bubbles Fridays and Saturdays at 6pm, July 20-August 18. Tickets are $15 general and $12 for the unwaged. www.nfld.com/~sbts/
When Larry met Sally
Spirit of Newfoundland productions offers a night of “high energy, comedy, and surprises” in “When Larry met Sally,” a tale of unlikely love straddling home and away. Spirit of Newfoundland is out to entertain (and feed!) locals and tourists alike. And they know how to do it. Delighting audiences over the last decade with their famous dinner and show events, they’ve put together 39 different shows and gained a loyal following. Directed by Peter Halley, “When Larry met Sally” features a talented and well-known cast of local performers. It’s sure to be another spirited success. The show opens June 27 at the Majestic Theatre. Tickets are $54.50 plus tax and gratuity. Doors open at 6:30. www.spiritofnewfoundland.com
The Nobleman’s Wedding
Rising Tide Theatre is back once again in Trinity this summer to tell Newfoundland’s favourite stories to rapt audiences. One to look forward to is “The Nobleman’s Wedding,” a folk opera by celebrated Newfoundland musician Pamela Morgan. It tells a tragic love story through traditional song, invoking the rich oral heritage of the province. Melody meets landscape to conjure Newfoundland’s past in the present. Directed by Charlie Tomlinson. “The Nobleman’s Wedding” starts July 10 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20. Check box office at 1-888-464-3377 to confirm times. www.risingtidetheatre.com
The Pirates of Penzance
Who doesn’t love pirates these days?
This summer, Rising Tide brings back the Gilbert and Sullivan classic “The Pirates of Penzance.” “Pirates” stands out from the Rising Tide summer line-up as the only show not about Newfoundland or by a Newfoundlander. Still, the story and its characters should feel right at home in the Trinity landscape. Rumour has it that Calvin Powell, the operatic rising star, will reprise his role as the Pirate king. Get ready for a rollicking lark. Directed by Petrina Bromley. The show starts July 28 at 8:30pm. $20. Check box office at 1-888-464-3377 to confirm times. www.risingtidetheatre.com
Jonathan Adams takes a gander at this summer’s picture show offerings.
This year’s Snakes on a Plane—naturally there’s going to be one every year from now until the end of time —is about maniacal killer zombie sheep ravaging the scenic New Zealand countryside. In fact, I don’t know why they didn’t use “Maniacal Killer Zombie Sheep Ravaging the Scenic New Zealand Countryside” as the title. This seems to be a coming-out year for totally weird Kiwi exports, as also attested by the offbeat romantic comedy Eagle vs. Shark, which is being touted as this year’s Napoleon Dynamite.
Nothing new under the sun, saith the Preacher.
This historical drama, which has already become a thorn in the side of Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential campaign, is centered around one of the most controversial events of 19th century American history, the Mountain Meadows massacre. In 1857, during a period of acute hostility between Washington and the still young Mormon population centred in Utah territory, a group of emigrants from Arkansas were crossing Utah territory on their way to California when they were attacked and slaughtered by a band of Mormons disguised as Paiute tribesmen. The enduring controversy is whether the killings were ordered or condoned by Brigham Young, who was at that time both Governor of Utah and leader of the Mormon Church.
Since the Mormon Church’s official position differs from that of many disinterested historians, the fairest way to tell this story would probably be Rashomon-style. But word on the street is this film—which stars Jon Voight, by the way —does for Mormons approximately what Deliverance did for hillbillies.
Hungry for even more divisive political shenanigans at the theatre? Hop in line for Michael Moore’s exposé (and/or fantasia) on the present state of U.S. health care, Sicko. Supposedly it makes the Romanow Report look like a slow ride to grandma’s house.
Nostalgia never goes out of fashion, which is why the latest summer blockbuster from renowned prostitute Michael Bay (Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, The Rock, The Island) is based on a cartoon from the 80s that was designed to brainwash little boys into bugging their parents to buy expensive action figures.
In case you misspent your youth some other way, I’ll just reveal that the mythology of this universe involves cars and trucks that turn into giant robots and beat each other up.
In a startling display of marketing restraint, the producers have announced there will NOT be a new line of toys to sell to today’s generation of mini-consumers. (Admit it: I had you there for a second, didn’t I?) So if you have children, you’ll probably have to sit through the Bratz movie instead–unless you don’t really love them, that is.
THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS
Sicko and Arctic Tale (this year’s March of the Penguins with a polar bear and a walrus) will be the most publicized documentaries of the summer, but there are a couple smaller ones coming in under the radar that promise just as much fun ‘n’ laffs.
One is The King of Kong, about a group of men who have dedicated their lives to Donkey Kong, reputedly the most difficult coin-operated video game ever designed. Later, be on the lookout for My Kid Could Paint That, a profile of Marla Olmstead, the six-year-old child prodigy who has been making complex abstract paintings since she was two, some of which have sold for as high as $24,000. Filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev prods the controversy surrounding speculation that Marla’s father, an amateur painter, secretly has a hand in creating Marla’s paintings.
Both these films probably won’t make it to St. John’s till later in the fall, but keep your eyes, ears, and other orifices peeled just in case.
Andreae Prozesky with a list of five 5 things to do with people under 5 for 5 dollars or less.
Sure, there are lessons and camps and road trips, but for the downtown parent (or child-minder) there are a few essential summer experiences that shouldn’t be overlooked. You won’t need a car, you don’t have to stick to a schedule, and you won’t go broke.
1. Water Fights
Water fight! But say you’re a peacenik kind of a parent who can’t cope with the image of your precious child as a gun-wielding maniac. Even if the gun she’s wielding is a water gun. What do you do on water fight day? Do what my mother did: fill up empty dish detergent bottles with water and hand them out to the youngsters. You can get some pretty good distance with a detergent bottle, they hold lots of water, there’s nothing on them that can break, and you get bonus points for recycling. Kids love recycling.
You know what else kids love? Snails. They can’t get enough of them. The stone wall that wraps around The Kirk (Queen’s Road at Long’s Hill, near Livingstone Street) is, as my daughter says, “the whole big snail wall with millions and millions of snails!” Maybe not millions and millions, but we did count two hundred one day last August. There were tiny baby snails, too, which is something that will totally blow the mind of any preschooler.
3. Nighttime Walks
Before too long we’ll be getting those too-sticky-to-sleep nights, when sweaty children will be cranky and exhausted and so will everybody around them. Since nobody’s sleeping anyway, grab your sandals and take the kids on a nighttime walk. Most children are in bed while the sun is still up from Victoria Day to Labour Day. The dark is a whole other world to them. If you take them out in their pyjamas, that’s extra cool. They’ll still be talking about it twenty-odd years later.
4. The Park at Night
While you’re out for your nighttime walk, why not take the kids to the park and let them stick their feet in the grass? Little feet need to feel cool nighttime lawns, perhaps even more than big feet do. The front parts of Bannerman Park (the sections along Military Road) are fairly free of dangerous debris, plus there are flowers there. Kids associate flowers with sunshine, so seeing them in the dark is yet another mind-blowing experience.
5. The Rooms
Nobody appreciates the architecture of The Rooms quite like a three-year-old does. Shiny floors covered in squares! Stairs that even the wobbliest toddler can climb! And that elevator shaft! Kids five and under never have to pay to get in, and even if you’re shelling out 5 bucks yourself, it’s worth it for the view alone. You’ll need to keep an eye out to make sure nobody’s leaving gummy fingerprints on the artwork, but most kids are surprisingly well-behaved in art galleries. They pick up on the sober atmosphere and act like wee little critics. And if it’s all too much to handle, the little V-shaped hillock on the Rooms grounds (facing Sobey’s) is excellent for climbing up and rolling down.
Sarah Smellie with some active summer suggestions
Running is easy. All you need are shoes that look like space-insect larvae and a goal. The Tely 10, St. John’s most popular (and notorious) road race, is the holy grail of running heroics. Sponsored by the Telegram and the Newfoundland and Labrador Athletics Association, the 80th Tely 10 Mile Road Race takes place on July 22nd. Along with 1,000 or so others with similar footwear interests, you can run or walk the 10 miles from Octagon Pond, in Paradise, to Bannerman Park. Check out www.nlaa.ca/tely10/ for information and a very helpful training schedule.
If 10 miles seems a bit daunting, the HBC Run for Canada, taking place on July 1st in Bowring Park, is a good start. This 10k run is held to raise funds for $5,000 bursaries for young Canadian athletes. More information can be found at www.hbcrunforcanada.ca
Should you prefer your outdoor activity to be a bit more rugged, the mighty East Coast Trail can provide. The Outfitters, on Water Street, have just started a Trail Running Club which offers weekly Sunday runs for beginners to experts, and provides a great opportunity to get out, explore different parts of the Trail and meet other Trail enthusiasts. The runs are free and carpooling is available if you provide advance notice. Each run covers 7k to 10k (with breaks!) in about an hour and a half. Visit the Outfitters’ website at www.theoutfitters.nf.ca for more information.
The East Coast Trail Association organizes Hikes of The Week, another great way to get out and explore. There are typically 2 hikes per weekend, with up-to-date information posted weekly on the bulletin board in the entrance of Outfitters.
To help encourage the growing interest in road cycling in St. John’s, Canary Cycles organizes four different group rides a week, whose difficulty levels range from beginner to advanced, with beginners meeting on Mondays. You can phone Canary Cycles at 579-5972 or head down to 294 Water Street for the week’s ride information.
Canary Cycles, in conjunction with Bicycle Newfoundland and Labrador, is also hosting their annual Canary Road Race on July 15th, starting in Pouch Cove, which covers a 30k loop around Marine Drive and the Bauline Line. Beginners do one loop, intermediates do two and experts do three. Last year, about 30 people participated in the race and great fun was had by all.
For more excitement on wheels, the 2007 Tour De Shore, recently designated as the 2007 Atlantic Road Championships, is being held September 1st to 2nd. This is the second run of the Tour De Shore, running around the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula. The first run was so successful it was voted the 2006 Cycling Event of the Year by Atlantic Pedaler Magazine. The two days of festivities include workshops, live music, and races for everyone from families and kids to professional riders. All the information can be found at www.tourdeshore.ca
Jonathan Adams with some of his picks for summer reading
GOING AROUND WITH BACHELORS
by Agnes Walsh
Time to find out what sort of poetry your tax dollars have subsidized! (Well, that’s probably an exaggeration.) St. John’s Poet Laureate Agnes Walsh’s first collection since her appointment to that post last year is just her second book, joining her well-loved 1996 volume In the Old Country of My Heart. Her new book, Going Around With Bachelors, prods many of the same themes–of place, family, language–that occupied that earlier collection, with the same mixture of plainspoken humour and lamentive joy. Walsh is a poet who writes more for the voice than for the page, and happily her new book comes with an accompanying audio CD featuring readings of selected poems.
Another local work that’s likely to be in many summer reading lists is Joel Hynes’ latest catalogue of depravities, Right Away Monday. I’m not sure who keeps track of these things, but I think the book gives Trainspotting a serious run for its money in terms of capturing the title “novel with the most instances of the word ‘fuck.’”
THE IRON WHIM: A FRAGMENTED HISTORY OF TYPEWRITING
by Darren Wershler-Henry
If quirky non-fiction’s your bag, Canadian experimental poet Darren Wershler-Henry’s “fragmented history” of the typewriter serves up a plethora of interesting facts and trivia concerning an object that has lately gained as much fashionable retro cachet as record players. (In fact, the entropic process by which technological artifacts become receptacles of nostalgia soon after they’re rendered obsolete is the more abstract underlying subject of the book.) Wershler-Henry offers many examples of how the typewriter shaped creative and public life for much of the twentieth century. The book also includes a discussion of the mathematical formula that disproves the spurious idea that a roomful of monkeys typing away in a room would eventually reproduce the works of Shakespeare.
THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION
by Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon’s last novel, The Final Solution, recast the living trauma of the Holocaust as a surreal, but highly affecting, Sherlock-Holmes-style detective story. In his new book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, he continues to have fun playing around with genre and Jewish identity, imagining an alternate history in which the Zionist movement has had to be reversed: in 1948, the Republic of Israel collapsed, and its population is lifted up and plunked down essentially wherever there’s room–which happens to be an isolated area of Alaska (whence they’re dubbed the “Frozen Chosen”). The novel takes the form of a hard-boiled crime novel, paying homage most directly to the works of Dashiell Hammett. If you’re a superficial dandy like me, you’ll buy the book just for the wonderful dust jacket (one of comics artist Chris Ware’s finest designs).
THE DREAM OF THE POEM: HEBREW POETRY FROM MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN SPAIN, 950-1492
by Peter Cole (tr.)
It might look awfully obscure or academic, but don’t be put off: this anthology of medieval poetry is not just historically important and beautifully translated, it’s also as accessible as any of the more literary parts of the Bible. The poets included (Shelomo Ibn Gabirol, Yehuda Alharizi, Shmu’el HaNagid, etc.) might never be household names, but their works are inviolately beautiful reflections upon life, nature, sensual pleasure, and the absolute. Take a day off to read through this book in a quiet place where no one can reach you and it’ll be like giving your brain a full-body massage.
Everything’s political, says Elling Lien, but here are a few particularly political things you can do or take part in this summer.
There are lots of things happening this summer, but one very notable thing that will not be happening is a certain youth-run festival of music and social justice.
“Theres not going to be a Peace-a-Chord this year,” says Hollis Harding, a member of the board. “The financial strains are too much and it’s just not doable this year.
“It’s unfortunate, but true.”
She says she and Graham Case, this year’s chair, both realized that with it being June already and still trying to pay off last year’s festival, trying to fund one this year was totally out of the question.
This summer will be only the second time since the festival began that there will be a year without it.
But hey, with enough public support, who knows what’s can happen? You can reach them at email@example.com
Pride Week’s back July 23-29, and their theme this time is “One.Together.”
Pride Week is St. John’s only celebration for LBGT people, and the organizers are getting excited about making this one a great event. They haven’t announced their complete schedule, but so far I hear there will be a flag rising at City Hall, a harbour cruise with Pier 7 cruises, and, of course, lots of dancing and having fun. Stay tuned to their website at www.stjohnspride.net.
STAND WITH THE FIRST NATIONS
June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, and the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre is organizing an open house at the centre from 9am to 5pm with aboriginal art and crafts, and some traditional foods. They’re located at 716 Water Street. The Assembly of First Nations have called a National Day of Action for Friday, June 29.Call or drop by to find out how you can offer your support. As Newfoundlaners, we’ve got a lot of history to make up for.
“Let’s stand together to put an end to First Nations poverty as the greatest social injustice in Canada,” the AFN’s website says.
You can reach the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 726-5902.
WORLD REFUGEE DAY FESTIVAL
The Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council and the local Amnesty International chapter will be hosting the 2007 World Refugee Day Festival here in St. John’s from June 20th to June 22nd,
It will have already kicked off by the time you read this, but on June 21 you can grab a nibble and write a letter with Amnesty International at 5pm at the MUNSU Council Chambers at MUN, or catch a film screening at 7pm that evening in the Engineering Building.
Letter writing is fun and all, but the real party begins on June 22 at 7pm when Multicultural Night kicks off at the MUN Music School. Performers include The Idlers, Mopaya, Oxfam JamBand, The Neighborhood Strays,Tim & Roma, The Philippine NL Women’s Club, Deneen Connolly and Lauren Buick and Dan Ficken. Tickets are 7 bucks.