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December 5th, 2012 MATTHEW SINGER | Featured Stories
 

Your New Friends

Five Vancouverites who are way cooler than you are.

couv_3905(erites)ILLUSTRATION: kungfutoast.com
Go ahead and laugh. Coolest Vancouverites? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Of course, being the smug elitists we are, the assumption is that anyone in Vancouver who is remotely hip would’ve moved to Portland already. The truth is, not everyone up there with creative ambitions packs up and moves south. Some actually stay and try to make cool things happen in their own hometown. Here are five people who’ve done just that.


Elizabeth Holmes

Who is she? Producer and founder of the storytelling series Anecdotal Evidence.

Why is she cool? As a regular attendee of events like Mortified and Back Fence PDX, where adults gather to share personal, often hilarious tales of embarrassment with a roomful of strangers, Holmes wondered why no one in Vancouver had tried to create something similar. Last July she decided to do it herself.

In the year since it started, Anecdotal Evidence has become a convergence point for the city’s creative class—many of the people mentioned in this piece have participated in the series—and, in some instances, has reversed the typical flow of traffic across the Columbia. For example, for the inaugural edition, cartoonist Matt Bors came up from Portland to discuss the time he participated in a ménage à trois.

Naturally, Bors set the bar pretty high, but Holmes is prepared to take the show a step further: Before the Nov. 6 election, she got ordained as a minister—just in case any same-sex couple wants to book a wedding for an upcoming installment. 

What makes Vancouver cool? “What’s cool about Vancouver is we don’t know we’re cool. We’re not smug about where we live. We’ve fought against that prejudice that we’re not cool for so long that it somehow evolved to where we’ve got this whole strata of cool people who’ve moved over here and kind of found each other.”


Beth Harrington

Who is she? A Grammy-nominated documentarian. 

Why is she cool? How about because, for the past decade, she’s been working on creating the definitive film about the Carter-Cash family?

That project, which is finally entering the last stages of production, spun off from her 2001 documentary, Welcome to the Club: The Women of Rockabilly, which contended for Best Long Form Music Video at the 2003 Grammys. Having struck up a friendship with Roseanne Cash, who narrated Welcome to the Club, Harrington gained unprecedented access to country music’s greatest dynasty, and conducted some of the last interviews with Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Other than that, Harrington’s résumé, which stretches back to 1977, includes segments for Frontline and Nova, movies about the Aleutian Islands and Portland’s craft-beer scene, and OPB’s first high-definition television program. Oh, and for three years in the early ’80s, Harrington, a Boston native, sang backup in Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers. The Modern friggin’ Lovers. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

What makes Vancouver cool? “I find it kind of scrappy, and it has these parts of it that are just great. And I think that Portland has such a high opinion of itself that I find that amusing, too. So the two things combined are funny.”


Scott Poole

Who is he? In-house poet for OPB’s Live Wire! Radio.

Why is he cool? Normally, artists in Vancouver are forced to travel to Portland in search of outlets for their creativity. In Poole’s case, Portland came looking for him.

The first director of Wordstock and the Get Lit! book festival in Spokane, Wash., with three published collections of poetry to his name, Poole was a frequent guest on Live Wire! in the early days of the weekly OPB variety show. Eventually, the producers asked him to become a fixture on the program, capping each episode with a piece usually written on the fly. 

What makes Vancouver cool? “When I was a kid, I wanted to get out of here as quick as I could. But now that I’m back, I have a lot of adult reasons why I like living here. I like the schools for my kids; I like my neighbors.”


Temple Lentz

Who is she? Creator of the satirical news blog the Daily ’Couve.

Why is she cool? Two years ago, Lentz, a self-described “hardcore progressive,” got so fed up with the “wingnut voices” dominating Vancouver’s political discourse she decided to do something about it. She started the Daily ’Couve as a localized version of The Onion, skewering former Vancouver mayor Royce Pollard (Lentz managed current mayor Tim Leavitt’s successful 2009 campaign against him) and traditions like the Clark County Mayors’ and Civic Leaders’ Prayer Breakfast, “where most of our elected officials get together to bridge the gap between church and state.”

Initially posting anonymously, Lentz revealed her identity earlier this year with the intent of closing down the site. But the outcry from readers—she has about 5,500 Facebook followers—convinced her to bring it back in time for election season. Lentz remains a thorn in the side of the Vancouver right: Her first post back, a fake press release announcing David Madore’s withdrawal from the Clark County commissioner’s race, briefly fooled area media—including conservative radio host Victoria Taft. 

What makes Vancouver cool? “It’s a lot like Portland without the skinny jeans. It reminds me a lot of the town I grew up in, in scenic Ohio. Except, nobody in Vancouver knew me when I was 16, so that’s a bonus.”


Brett Allred

Who is he? Owner and “Hair God” of Beigeblond Hair Salon and the “Mayor of Main Street.”

Why is he cool? With his trademark handlebar mustache, long goatee and glasses, which he’s branded into a logo plastered on event fliers all over the city, Allred has earned his unofficial political appointment by being a highly visible (and easily identifiable) member of the Vancouver cultural community. Not only has he operated his salon for 17 years, he also produces fashion shows with Project Runway winner Seth Aaron Henderson, emcees for the Ooh La La burlesque troupe and is a fixture at Vancouver Downtown Association meetings.

Next year, he and Beigeblond stylist Katie Willard are launching a restaurant-review blog called Cussin’ Critics (“When food is really good, we tend to cuss a lot about it,” he explains), and on Dec. 15, he’s organizing the city’s first SantaCon. Allred is so ubiquitous he’s inspired doppelgängers: On Halloween weekend, his friend, DJ Dirty Harry, spun a set at downtown bar Dublin Down wearing Allred’s signature facial hair and glasses combo, while Allred stood next to him onstage, acting as his hype man.

What makes Vancouver cool?  “People just have a great soul. I’ve never been in a community that absorbs everybody. They become instantly involved. Vancouver would be like Hawthorne or 23rd Street [in Portland], but it’s just Vancouver.” 

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