Out & About
For some, driving is simply a way to get from points A to B; for others it’s a job and way of life. Some have grease permanently embedded under their fingernails; and many claim octane in their veins. Karl Benz’s 1886 Patent-Motorwagen led not only to automobiles as we know them; but would also turn wagon trails to expressways, and make getting there half the fun of going there.
The shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. However, unless you’re drag racing, it isn’t necessarily the most exciting way to get where you’re going. Those seeking the ultimate driving experience talk of the Schwarzwaldhochstraße in the Black Forest or the Autobahn, and seek out picturesque back roads, winding mountain passes and canyons to carve. If you’re last name is Hamilton, Vettel, or Alonso; you can tear up a track like Circuit de la Sarthe, Circuit de Monaco or Laguna Seca. Wish you could be like them? Then try track days at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, Silverstone Circuit and Autodromo Nazionale Monza; or race flat out on the salt at Bonneville.
Competitive racing events such as the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and World Championship Rallying look fun, but are among the most difficult of disciplines. The Targa Newfoundland mixes sport and scenery, but the Cabot Trail and Viking Trail also bring plenty of Maritime scenery to enjoy. Can the Icefields Parkway or Crowsnest, Okanagan, Sea-To-Sky and Pacific Rim Highways of the Canadian Rockies compare with Col de la Bonnette, Grossglockner, Klausen Pass, Hahntennjoch or Furka Pass of the Alps?
Clarkson, Hammond & May drove Ruta 40 and rave about Trollstigen, Stelvio & Transfăgărășan or the Amalfi Coast, Col de Turini and Route Napoleon; but it’s N-222 from Peso da Régua to Pinhão in Portugal’s wine region that took the top honor for 2015 – depending on who you ask. Dadès Gorges, Sani Pass and The Atlantic Road amp up the exotic factor and can take your breath away in more ways than one. Drifting was born on the Touge Roads of Mount Fuji, the Guoliang Tunnel Road and Karakoram Highway traverse China; while the Karamea Highway and Arthur’s Pass navigate New Zealand. Can you think of a more succinct name than Australia’s Great Ocean Road?
Speed might not be the point of Quebec Route 132 – Le Tour de Gaspésie, the Road to Hana, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway or even the Natchez Trace Highway, but you can’t ask for prettier places to putt along… except maybe U.S. Route 101 & California State Route 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway. Tail of the Dragon, Twisted Sisters, Going-to-the-Sun-Road and White Rim Road win best name awards, while U.S. 212, UT 163 and UT 80 tie for the "overwhelming roads with underwhelming names" title hands down.
Have all the time in the world? Then check out the Pan American Highway – the world's longest, connecting more than 20 countries; it stretches from Buenos Aries to Edmonton! Australia’s Highway 1 is the longest national highway, followed by the Trans-Siberian and of course our very own Trans-Canada Highway, which runs from Victoria to St John’s.
Wherever you decide to go, I just have one question: can I hitch a ride?
– CDJ –
As a long time appreciator of design, I was head over heels when PrevailPrevail was granted access to this year's Dinner By Design in Vancouver. Hosted and produced by The Social Concierge in league with G.E. Monogram, this event brings the best of design and food together under one roof. Leeta and Jim do a stellar job in interviewing not only the table designers, but also the staff and the producers, giving you full insight into this amazing event. I truly hope you enjoy it!
I was recently honoured by being asked to host Shuck It Forward, a fundraising oyster shucking competition for Bikers For Autism which was held at Chewies in Coal Harbour. It was awesome to see so many people come out to support a cause that helps individuals and families facing autism. The room, and the patio, were packed and the crowd was all over the silent auction bids, which raised a generous amount of money. The weather held up for us too and the soulful sounds of the Tim Sars Trio filled the air.
Now to the goods! This was the first annual competition and the groundwork has been laid for a stellar round of events for years to come. There were legends like Oyster Bob and Todd Macdonald. There were up and comers like Connor Roche and Nicky Annable. Everyone brought their A-Game and once the countdown resumed, the oyster knives were flying. A total of 6 heats lead us to our semi finals and eventually to our two finalists. Chewies, Boulevard, Blackbird, Bearfoot Bistro, Coast, Joe Fortes, Black&Blue, The Five Point and C-Prime Steakhouse all sent their top guns but there could be only one winner. The judges, Robert Clark and " The Moj, " had their work cut out for them ( get it ;), as hundreds of oysters were inspected. Shuckers were docked points for broken shell fragments or grit leftover. Oytsers that weren't fully seperated from the shell were also factored in with a loss of valuable points.
Every one of the entries did a fantastic job, but in the end, we were down to two. Todd Macdonald, formerly of Rodney's, and Jeff Knight of Chewies Coal Harbour took centre stage for the headlining battle. The crowd helped me countdown to a loud "Shuck It!" which indicated the clock had begun. Shells of Kushi and Sawmill Creek oysters were being flung at the judges and I even had to duck a few flying molluscs myself. All in good fun of course, but the $1000 prize was no joke and these guys both wanted it. After a furious pace that timed out at just over a minute and a half, Jeff Knight, the man with homefield advantage, pulled off the win.
He qauffed a cold Red Truck Lager from his newly won trophy and the crowd went wild. The crew from Bikers For Autism, whose slogan is "Look Bad Do Good", were jubilant. The Lords of Gastown were also in the house and there was a real community vibe present. The Tim Sars Trio chimed in and the party continued. For an event that was so much fun, it was amazing to see that people didn't lose sight of the main reason for gathering, which was, of course, to support those in need. Autism has no known causes or cures, two factors which deem attention. Through events like Shuck It Forward, hopefully we, as a global community, can help spur research that leads to positive results and, maybe one day, find a pearl of wisdom.
This year's installment of The Duelling Arts was a huge success and an absolutley amazing time. I had the distinct pleasure of co-hosting the event with Tyson Villeneuve of The Social Concierge ,and we had a great rapport, if I do say so myself. This event, held annually at the beautiful Vancouver Club, is always a unique experience. In one room you have a live falcon, a champagne sabering station, an orchestral duo featuring harp and vocals, and of course, real life duelling, compliments of the legendary Academie Duello. When my girlfriend and I arrived at the venue, we were all prepped to sit upsatirs and join the 40 lucky participants who booked the exclusive 3 course feast. Smoked Cornish Game Hen, Salmon Wellington and, Mint and Garlic rubbed Leg of Lamb made up the food program for the evening and it sounded delicious. Tyson was so hands on with the event that he was able to sell out the dinner and instead offered to treat us to food downstairs in the Club's lounge. No argument here. The masterful Chef Sean Cousins and his brigade had just gotten their hands on some of the first Spot Prawns of the season and we went to town on them.
After dinner we made our way upstairs, where people were already gathering around a royal throne, awaiting their moment to capture a photo with the Falcon. Classic. Devon Boorman, founder of Academie Duello, is not only a world class Swordsman, but also a world class gentleman. His explanations of the weapons and their history had the crowd wanting to learn more and his breakdown of what they were about to witness built an air of wonder. Daggers, Bucklers, Cloaks and Rapiers, a melange of deadly yet elegant weaponry were only moments away from answering their calling. A 'scoreboard' was being tended to by a pair of ladies in traditional garb and the spectacle added provenance to the soiree.
After Tyson paid it forward to the participants and sponsors, I riled the crowd into a chant of "3…2…1…EN GUARDE!" and the duelling began. The clanking of swords rang throughout the room, it felt surreal, as the audience cheered and hollered, some of them having wagered money on said competitors; the atmosphere became electric. The scoreboard was beginning to pile up with numbers that declared one of the duellists victorious, and the other, defeated. And so it went for the duration of the evening. Fighters of great skill, face to face in a room of anxious onlookers, parryied back and forth. At moments we were even treated to the folds of a cloak acting as a mechanism of detterment, its form like that of a peacock sporadically displaying its plume.
Devon was gracious in his introductions of each competitor: a truly dedicated stable of well studied individuals whose passions for the art form of swordplay and respect for tradition were clearly noticeable. Even with all the adrenalin pumping and the fact they all wielded weapons, there was a calming respect that emmited from the group. This truly impressed me. Some matches were clearly decided, others went the distance, even ending up in tiebreakers. More glancing blows, more striking of hardened steel and more thrusting of sharpened tips sent the onlooking crowd into an excitable frenzy. Once it was over and the winner was crowned, I felt my pulse settle back down to normality. Not to be left out of the sword-handling procession, my girlfiend and I each sabered a bottle of Chandon, it's effervescence was refereshing.
As the crowd made their collective way out of The Vancouver Club, I paused for a moment to take in the surroundings one last time. True masters of throwing events, The Social Concierge had done it again. They created an experience that made people think, that made people talk, that made people inspired. It was a throwback to the ' days of yore ', a connection to the vivid images of Knights and of Damsels in distress, I half expected to see a dragon rear its scaly head out of one of the arched porticos. The power to allow us a few hours of escapism is what The Duelling Arts is all about and each year I find myself counting the digits on the scoreboard until it chimes in the next round. Alas, until that fateful time, I bid you adieu!
Shout outs to the Swordsfolk of Academie Duello: Devon Boorman,Erik Hayden,Chris Richardson,Roland Cooper,Greg Yoshida,Adrian Jones,Matheus Olmedo,Greg Reimer,Walker Lunsford and,Jennifer Landels.
To each their own. You can't please all the people all the time. Don't worry be happy. Cliches and advice on how to live life are all around us and float through our daily lexicons. The Happy Show at the MOV urges us to question not only our input to the world around us, but even more so, it asks us what effect our output has on oursleves and others. Curated by Grammy Award-winning graphic designer, Stefan Sagmeister, the exhibit is an interactive Q&A for the individual.
The inviting yellow colourscape of the room instanlty wlecomes you into the fold, yet, once inside, you are faced with startling and surprising facts that are scrawled on the walls. Most of them appear to be directley recaptured from Stefan's journal, including omissions and scratched out words. It helps give the exhibit a feeling of the impromptu sources of happiness. With stats on the sexes and sex itself, the ratings of happiness for countries of the world and, a myriad of video installations, The Happy Show is a real eye opener. One room is even dedicated to a person powered bike that reveals a series of messages; depending on the cyclist's pace, the idioms flash with different tempos. The room is also home to video images cast onto the walls, almost as if to suggest it is "The Room of Illumination." Although initially an ocular contrast to the pop of yellow, this dark cavern is full of lumens.
I was honoured when I was recently asked by museum director, Myles Constable, to come to the MOV and parouse the over 70,000 items of the archive. The challenge of choosing one single item for the plethora of display cases in the foyer was indeed that: a challenge. The article that registered with my good vibe trigger, was a pair of fountain pens that had been used by many world dignitaries at Vancouver's original City Hall. With historic figureheads like Eleanor Roosevelt, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the pens themselves seemed to emit an air of importance. And this, to me, is the point of The Happy Show: how do you feel, why do feel that way and, what made you feel it? There are installments that ask you, mixed with ones that suggest the answers. It is truly well designed, but what do you expect from someone who has created some of pop cultures most impactful art? Wait, don't answer that, or do, the ultimate choice, as The Happy Show reminds us, is up to you.