Tag: British Columbia

Lyrics of the Month: November 2015 – Geoff Berner

My city has been in a housing crisis
For fifteen years or more,
Middle class families can’t afford to live here,
And there’s a ten thousand dollar fine
For being poor.
They said if we let them build all these condo towers,
The market would pull down the rent,
Now we’ve got the most expensive city
On the whole damn continent.
Our Mayor says he wants Eco Density,
And of course it’s a sin not to be Green,
But when Mayor Happy Planet says Eco Density
What does he really mean?

He means
Sunday, condos
Monday, condos
Tuesday and Wednesday
Thursday, Friday,
A few more condos,
Saturday, for a change,

What happened to a thousand culture buildings and counting?
They knocked them down to build some condos.
And the social housing on Little Mountain?
Get rid of it!
(We need more condos.)
The Ridge, Richards, the Capital,
That’s a special kind of condos—
The kind of condos that you call
After the thing that you knocked down to make the

Sunday, condos
Monday, condos
Tuesday and Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday,
A few more condos Saturday, for a change,
Townhouse condominiums.

What’s the plan for the Georgia Viaduct?
Well, they’re gonna knock it down and build some condos,
And why’s the city four hundred million dollars on the hook? —–They’re fucked!
They paid some guys to build Olympic condos.

And what about the sacred burial site?
Not as sacred as condos,
Till the Musqueam Nation actually put up a fight,
And that’s how you stop the condos.

So what’s going to happen now, for God’s sake?
Are we just going to let them build more condos?
Or could there be a time when we finally put the brakes
On Vancouver’s mad sickness for

Sunday, condos
Monday, condos
Tuesday and Wednesday Condos,
Thursday, Friday,
A few more condos,
Saturday, for a change,
Market artist live/work studios.

Geoff Berner, We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians, Condos


Photo by Eric Goud

Bigfoot is real. I saw him, his pecker in his hands, last week at Big Sur.

I was eating a breakfast burrito on the coast, overlooking the mist-covered cliffs and crashing Pacific waves, when several kilometers in the distance, there he was, squatting on a rock with his back-end hanging over the ocean. The Pacific Ocean, Bigfoot’s toilet. I was far away, so it could have been a walrus, a sea lion, a humpback whale, a rogue sequoia tree, or beach trash. Or, as I prefer to believe, Bigfoot relieving himself.

When I told a friend of my sighting, she scoffed and told me what I saw was just an amalgamation of seaweed and driftwood, propped up by high tide and made look real through morning haze. She proceeded to show me a very recent UFO video from Kazakhstan. Real, undeniable proof.

Another friend told me to watch out. That the wormhole of bigfoot and UFO videos is a dangerous place for people already uncertain about reality, which is a common symptom of anxiety. She then proceeded to tell me about the peaceful tenets of Buddhism.

Begrugingly I have recently come to admit that what I saw was not, in fact, Bigfoot taking a shit. But rather, simply, my desire to see Bigfoot exposing himself to the endless wonders of the bright blue ocean. But if someone sitting next to me, looking at the same cliff at the same time, believed that they saw him, truly believed that Bigfoot was there, I would support their belief. The reasons they believed with conviction could have something to do with their eyesight, their hunger levels, the animals they saw in the forest when they were children, the movie they watched the night previous, the TinTin yeti episode they saw as kids, or previous sightings of Bigfoot himself. Their previous life events made them more likely to believe, and since Bigfoot’s existence is still truly an unknown, this does not make them any less rational.

Most people’s beliefs are based on secondhand accounts, old books, or internet video footage. Stories told by credible friends over a bonfire. A belief based on a feeling they have that they cannot explain. The same for belief in ghosts, or the resurrection, or of yoga, or in science, or in nothing.

Some create elaborate hoaxes—a tall hairy figure with massive strides saunters towards a body of fresh water to wash his/her own personal holes—but their commitment to false evidence does not disprove the existence of a bipedal woodland creature. Some, presumably most, film what they believed to be the outright truth, an accidental stumbling across the unknown. Discussions of incredulity of people’s beliefs, denouncing what some hold true, break down any level of human connectedness. But people’s absolute conviction in the existence of Bigfoot, or their utter insistence on the excessive nature of his legend—people’s certainty and what they will do in its name—will forever impress, entice, and scare me.

Their desire to be part of something, whether it is the glorious triumph when scientists find the first Bigfoot skeleton in northern B.C. or by pointing and laughing when it is proven to be an elaborate folktale, is the same unexplainable, at times unproductive desire that is a side effect of the destruction of real communities, the same desire that concretes people to a sports team, a country, a tax bracket, a t-shirt company, that is, the human desire—opposite of Bigfoot’s desire to be solitary, separate, unseen, anonymous—to be part of a greater whole.


I visited the Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. Wandering around, haggard and tour-worn, I noticed the disproportionate number of attractive women aged 20 to 25, the flags of their home nations pinned to their blouses, welcoming wayward, lonely travellers in dozens of languages into the many ornate buildings of Mormon history. I was drawn to the domed Tabernacle where an organ rehearsal boomed triumphantly, peacefully. There I sat, recent non-believer, truly thinking how lovely it would be to fall in love with a Mormon girl, accept the general tenets of her faith, and start a simple carefree life as a closet Mormon in some foothills town in Utah, the ‘Life Elevated’ state. Sometimes, like this time, I would be elated to hand in my anxieties, loneliness, my overthought, for the absolute certainty that some can hold, and the happiness and joy that comes with being part of the greater whole. But in order to do that, one must believe.

Norwood KnowMag Spotlight

A version of the following article was released in the Volume II Issue II edition of the KnowMag. An online version of the magazine can be found here.

Norwood Shop

Also check out NorwoodShop.ca, Hansen Leather Goods, Norwood TumblrNorwood Instagram, Benedict Moyer, Norm Rockwell.

If you were to take a step out of the door at 2401-11th Avenue in Regina, Saskatchewan, turned left to face west, and walked until you reached a rise or fall in elevation greater than a metre, you would likely arrive in the Rocky Mountains. If, instead, you were to walk directly north on Smith Street, the cross-street of 2401-11th Avenue, you would end up walking for three straight days until you reached a heavily forested area with naturally growing trees, as opposed to the wind-breaking hand-planted farm trees in the south. It is in the flat and the barren where real strength is gained. Extreme meteorological conditions can (and will) lift and drop a human being’s spirit daily. When you come from a place where you must walk a minimum of several days to reach the luxuries of natural shelter provided by trees or elevation, you will become innovative and resourceful in many ways. You will because you have no choice. Some born into these conditions take to building structures, some learn an instrument, some read books. Some collect antiques and vintage trinkets to fill the voids. Others sit in basements drilling holes through pressed-steel handsaws to make display cases. The latter is Norwood. A softly-lit amalgam of pine, fir, and birch that brings back warm memories of your grandparents’ basement, or the family cottage at the lake when the leaves have fallen off the trees.

When Noel Wendt, proprietor of the staple Canadian skateshop the Tiki Room, asked me to help him brainstorm names for the new shop he was opening, I was living in Montreal. I hadn’t seen the space and hadn’t been back to Saskatchewan in nearly a year. I didn’t understand his vision. So my list included generic gems such as The Cabin, The Workshop, as well as moronic suggestions such as Grime and Punishment, The Brothel, or Blown Hips (it has recently been given the nickname the Gnarbar, or Gnarburator by the few workers that spend too much time there). For some reason, none of my brilliant suggestions caught wind. Instead, just weeks before the shop opened, someone noticed a rusted iron cap with the diameter of a pasture fence-post inlayed in the concrete at the corner of Smith and 11th. The cap read ‘Norwood’, an old Canadian iron foundry that buried their caps in the sidewalks of cities across the prairies. The name fit the aesthetic. Norwood was born.

The 1000-square-foot storefront is filled with household and industrial items from the days of old, when purchasing something meant a life-long commitment. When objects were built well, with proper materials, and purchased only upon necessity. Norwood carries brands that reflect this mentality. Simplicity, quality craftsmanship, responsibility. Pendleton pillows and blankets sit upon a modified bakery rack against the building’s eastern-most column. Belts, lanyards, and accessories from local leather-maker, Hansen Leather Goods, adorn a vintage hand dolly. Ray Ban sunglasses boast their attractiveness from the previously mentioned glass-case made up of six rusty handsaws. Red Wing Shoes stand proudly under the spotlight on a massive chopping block. Mens coats hang from a coat rack salvaged from a church foyer, and another rack created and designed in-shop, made up of one-inch iron pipes threaded and fitted for the space. Norse Projects hats and sweaters rest comfortably on wooden milk crates and wooden toboggans next to the door. The Levi’s denim decorates the west wall, hanging from a John Deere truss taken from a torn down barn at a sheep farm in Cupar, Saskatchewan. The barn was an acquisition specifically for the creation of the shop–an ad was posted on the internet that Wendt would pay $50 if he could tear down a barn and keep the lumber–the weathered planks from the prairie structure are the appropriate backdrop to the hand-drafted map of Regina from 1957 that hangs as a centrepiece to the entire shop. The barn was torn down in the middle of February in the unforgiving winters of Saskatchewan. The pine floor was milled in Love, Saskatchewan, and the counter top is made of reclaimed fir beams of an old swimming pool, both made and installed with the DIY-values upon which Norwood was founded. The creative balance between product and prop makes for a relaxing visit, no matter the mood you’re in, the time of day, or the type of weather you may see out the North and East windows. An honest, agrarian cabin in the core of a prairie city.

And that’s only half of the space. When the hand-made drawbridge (yes, there is an actual drawbridge) is drawn, one can meander downstairs, into the workshop-dungeon where so much of the work was done for the upstairs shop. A miniature woodworking shop, a small photo studio, a desk made of plywood and paint cans, and soon to be a darkroom for the developing and printing of film photography, the basement is the creative workspace where artistic ideas come to life, where the skeleton of Norwood is pieced together, joint by joint, limb by limb.

In just over one year of existence, Norwood has grown into its own as a fine vendor of classic goods to serve the growing city with increasingly diverse demands. As it gains notoriety and evolves in its design, and as it grows into a community of people committed to quality, Norwood will only become greater through the strength of many, staying true to the motto of the province in which the shop was proudly established.

Small cities may not possess the attractions and allure of larger metropolises. In small cities the pace is slower, the streets are quieter, the people are usually friendlier. Norwood Shop cozies right in with the themes and values of a prairie town, but boasts the ability, know-how, and craftiness to contend with any shop in any major city.

If you were to walk directly south on Smith Street past the windows of Norwood, past the city limits, and through the farmers’ fields, stepping over newborn calves, hurdling barbwire fences, again you would not soon reach a change in elevation that would make your legs ache. If you were to walk straight east on 11th Avenue until you found a shop that better embodied the values of the people whom it serves, you’d likely end up chin deep in the salty Atlantic Ocean.