East Vancouver and Gastown have a long history of being ignored, stepped on, looked past, ostracized, diminished and forgotten. It’s a condition most Gastowners are used to. But a funny thing happens over time as one settles into life in the hood. All the insults, armchair social commentary, and uninformed opinions start to take on a life of their own.
Soon the more one hears of what our community is missing, the more one begins to realize what this neighbourhood has and is all about. Passion, love and character are important words to Gastowners. They represent the top shelf of living, high codes of conduct, and the dignity and respect we hold for each other regardless of station in life.
When we set about planning our first cover we looked for a concept that would represent “The New Gastown.” We wanted to celebrate Gastown’s successes, honour the past, and have some fun. Things really started to come together when photographer Philip Jarmain stepped forward and offered to shoot the cover for us. (Check out Philip’s “American Beauty” photo on the wall at Gastown’s Chill Winston or in this issue.) Then the entrepreneurial Glitterati Girls got involved (Jigme Nehring, Liz Rosa, Crystal Carson and Dani Kremeniuk).
In an ode to the original Gastowner, “Gassy” Jack Deighton, we received the support of three of the most respected bartenders in Vancouver: Buckie (The Irish Heather), “H” (Notturno), and Shoel (Gringo and the soon to be opened Dixies). These guys represent three generations of the best of Gastown’s saloon and socializing culture.
So now we needed a concept, a story and some ideas that would bind things together. After peeling-off yet another film location shooting notice from the front door of the Gazette office one morning, I had an idea. Why don’t we do an old Hollywood cover? Because if Vancouver is “Hollywood North,” then Gastown is surely “Little Hollywood.”
Rarely a day passes in Gastown without pedestrians having to step over some carefully placed lighting cables or walk around a production crew or a “circus” in an alley or parking lot. Besides, almost everybody involved in the Gazette has some ties to Vancouver’s rich film production industry. So some phone calls were made, and some ideas were tossed around, and within a week the creative magic of Gastown and her people took hold.
Overnight we had commitments from a world class photographer and his team, an amazing stylist, Crystal Carson, and her extremely talented hair and makeup team, a beautiful cast, and a cutting edge wardrobe department using clothes generously loaned by Blush and Holt Renfrew and the cooperation of Kate Marshall and all the good folks at The Settlement Building in providing a stunningly sexy location.
The day of the shoot was pure Gastown goodness enveloped in a blanket of love and professionalism. None of us had a clear idea whether we would get anywhere near the type of images we hoped for. But as the set was lit, and the cast were called to take their positions, and Philip began shooting with his state-of-the-art Epic-M RED Dragon camera, we all started becoming aware that we were deep in the process of creating something entirely new for Vancouver and Gastown. This wasn’t Vanity Fair or Vancouver Magazine. It wasn’t a big commercial shoot by some massive corporation selling us some stuff. It was purely about a group of young people showing we could achieve excellence on a small budget and on a tight timeframe, while representing our community on an international stage with dignity, class and style. This was the new Gastown in action before our eyes.
There was a sense we were creating an unforgettable cover for the first issue of Gazette Magazine that wouldn’t be ignored, stepped on, looked past, and forgotten. This Gastown ode to old Hollywood featuring the new Gassy Jacks and the entrepreneurial and stylish Glitterati Girls isn’t about gentrification, politics or a social movement. It isn’t saying this is the only way we see Gastown. This first cover of Gazette Magazine, to borrow a quote from John Fluevog’s interview in this issue, is about helping “to make people (Gastowners) dream.”
By Andy Patton