Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category


Whistler Film Festival is here.

December 3, 2010

This column first appeared in Whistler’s Pique Newsmagazine

Whistler Film Festival part 4

By Feet Banks


It happens to me every year –I draw up a list of all the cool movies I want to see, then strategically plan a schedule with no overlaps. The perfect Whistler Film Festival timeline with room for fresh turns on the hill.

And then I go to the Whistler Creek Productions party on Friday night and hobnob it up with industry pros, longtime locals and the occasional starlet. Except by ‘hobnob’ I mean pound shots of Jack Daniels chased with double Salty-Dogs. It’s always a fantastic night but my first flick on Saturday afternoon inevitably becomes more of a movie/nap.

The amazing thing is that the programming directors somehow account for this when they build their line-up and always present a movie that’s intense and engaging enough to entertain but also paced and quiet enough to sleep through. Last year that film was Nurse Fighter Boy. This year it’s Jo Pour Jonathan, which plays at 4:30, Saturday Dec 4th at the Village 8.

Don’t take that the wrong way– Jo Pour Jonathon is not a bad movie by any means. It’s gritty and raw and a bit heartbreaking– a brotherly love drama with a seedy streak told in a patient, sparse manner full of small-but-real truths.

Made in Quebec, and competing in the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature, Jo Pour Jonathon is very visual, with minimal dialogue and long moody shots and stretches of near silence. It’s win-win really, depending on your energy levels you can either rest up or catch an interesting flick, or both.

Speaking of staying awake, it’s worth it to hit the special Late-Night screenings for the weird, cool, off-the-beaten track stuff you might not get during “decent-person” hours.

Thursday Night, Dec 2nd, at 11:15pm is a 10th anniversary screening of Ski Bums. This is a film with many fans in Whistler, not just because it was made here, stars people we know, and also the first movie ever shown at the first Whistler Film Festival, but because it totally justifies the local character and lifestyle. Who knew we all had a little Johnny Thrash in us? Doors open at 10 pm for this one, at the Conference centre, and it’s a free screening. Show up in your best “Gaper” outfit and enter to win free beer, potato chips, and ski and snowboard gear. Doors open at 10pm. This is gonna be a party.

Friday late-night is no slouch either, starting at 11:30 pm with Early Evening of Meth Head Hipsters, a Vancouver-made short that took grand prize at the Heavy Hitting B-Grade Horrorfest this year. Bicycles, disembowelment, wet t-shirts, meth and trucker hats don’t get better than this.

The feature presentation is Beyond the Black Rainbow, a crazy, visual big-brother acid trip of a movie with a soundtrack draped with big, heavy sci-fi bass hits. This one also plays at the Conference centre

Late-Night Saturday goes down at the Village 8 with Vanishing on 7th Street, a nifty little end-of-the-world film starring Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo, and Thandie Newton as survivors of the day the lights went out.  I haven’t seen a screener but this one looks like creepy B-grade fun. It starts at 11:45.

Ski Bums director Johnny Zaritsky has another film playing this weekend. Leave Them Laughing is about a terminally-ill woman’s refusal to go down without some comedy. It plays Sunday afternoon and then the Fest closes that night with 2 Frogs in the West, a coming of age feature filmed right here in town that should also speak to more than a few Whistler locals.

The screens are full of film and hills are covered in pow and the Whistler Creek Productions party is Friday night at the GLC. Does it get any better than this?



Fort Knox Five SHIFT video

July 29, 2010

this music video is my kinda crazy spaced out shit. fantastic work by all involved. too bad i couldn’t get the embed to work. hit the link instead.


Angelina’s new Video!

June 20, 2010

Angelina Jolie is still the best and here is a video she did about World Refugee Day, which is today so if you see any refugees hitchiking, offer them a ride.

Learn more about World Refugee Day and/or donate some money here


New Salt Trailer

April 1, 2010

Angelina Jolie is fantastic. And I’m all about the mother-of-six, the saving of the children, the helping those who so often get forgotten or ignored, but this is my favourite Angie- the hot, ass-kicking Angie that takes no prisoners (or shit.) Salt is set to drop this July, summer blockbuster season, and so a new trailer has just been released ad here it is. Oh Angelina.


Whistler, our shit don’t stink

September 23, 2009


With the 2010 Winter Olympics just a few months away Vancouver and Whistler are working overtime to either sweep all their social problems under the rug (ie. vancouver’s zombieland drug fiend/mental illness/homeless problem) or solve them. The new Whistler sewage plant is supposed to be finished soon so for the first time in 20 years or so it might not smell like shit the next time you drive into town. In memory of that peculiar odour here’s an old piece originally printed in The Vice Guide To Whistler, April 2007. Photos by Mark Gribbon And give it up for the hot blondes who rolled into various rooms full of open sewage and started shoveling ice cream into their faces while the dudes that work there strongly advised against it, “We don’t even chew gum in here.”

Whistler- our shit don’t stink. (wait, yes it does.)

by feet banks

photos by Mark Gribbon

Driving up, the smell hits just as the ‘Welcome to Whistler’ sign comes into view. That pungent, gag-inducing reek of shit and rot hangs thick, as if the entire south end of town itself has just laid down a monstrous fart. It’s the Whistler Sewage Treatment Plant, and it’s working overtime.

“There are times when the smell gets pretty distasteful,” says Operations Manager Ron Sander. “When you don’t want to be chewing gum while you work.” Sander explains the foul stench is a result of the technology they use but also depends on how much crap they’re actually dealing with- the ‘flow.’ And that’s what makes Whistler’s shit unique and interesting- sometimes we have a ridiculously heavy flow.

With a permanent population of about 12,000 (including the people living in closets and attics that don’t make it into any official census) Whistler is a small town, but on high season weekends there can be as many as 40,000 tourists here- everyone eating rich foods, pounding stiff drinks, and laying down massive holiday dumps. Our small-town sewage plant (built in the ‘60s, upgraded once) routinely deals with 4 or 5 times it’s regular amount of shit. Don’t worry, we can handle it, but what really happens to all that poo?

First it enters the headwoods area, Sander explains as we tour the 5-acre facility, basically a moving grate that separates any ‘foreign solids’ like condoms, tampons, credit cards, rolled up money, sex toys, golf balls and action figures. Anything even half-cool is fished out and saved on a ‘Wall of Fame.’

Next the flow is slowed down, allowed to settle, and the grease, hair, corn and peanuts get separated and pasteurized at 550 degrees and introduced to oxygen and organic organisms. Once the water is removed the dry sludge gets tested (in Europe they can test an entire community’s cocaine usage through its shit) and chemistry takes over on the liquids as ferous-chloride and chlorine gas do the final cleaning before Whistler’s shit enters the Cheakamus river and heads off (fittingly) to Squamish. It all takes about a day.

While the system works fine right now, it does get challenging. Removing dental floss or say, a tattered gortex ski jacket strand by strand from the pumps is dirty, meticulous work and plant supervisor Andrew Tucker and his staff of 8-9 brave souls have to stay on their toes to maintain and test the system daily. The good news, Sander tells me, is that construction is set to begin this summer on a brand new, cutting edge, $30-40 million system that should be completed in 2009.

“Whistler has lofty environmental goals and this new Biological Nutrient Removal process will use natural bacteria and organisms rather than chemicals,” Sander adds. The new plant will be a top-of-the-line, enviro-friendly facility integrated into the surrounding neighbourhood. And, perhaps most importantly, it will eliminate that tell-tale shit smell just in time for about a zillion people to arrive for the Olympics and flush, flush, flush to their heart’s content. Of course, we still have to deal with the fact that there’s only one public washroom in the entire village, but that’s another day’s problem.


Shit tells an interesting story. In Europe they can determine and entire town's weekend cocaine consumption just by testing the sewage on monday morning. Shit really is a log of life.

Shit tells an interesting story. In Europe they can determine and entire town's weekend cocaine consumption just by testing the sewage on monday morning. Shit really is a log of life.

The Wall of Fame. Did a kid throw these things in the toilet? Or did they fall out of someone's ass?

The Wall of Fame. Did a kid throw these things in the toilet? Or did they fall out of someone's ass?

Shit-eating grins

Shit-eating grins. That's raw sewage in the lower right corner.


Whistler Local heads to Finland for the World Air Guitar Championships

August 15, 2009
Whistler's Johnny Utah at the 07 national championships, after smashing a beet bottle on his head. see video below.

Whistler's Johnny Utah at the 07 national championships, after smashing a beet bottle on his head. see video below.

Whistler Local Repeats at Canadian Air Guitar Championship, Heads to Finland for the Worlds.

By Feet Banks

This is the Olympic year and the pressure is on our local athletes to perform this winter but amidst all the Olympic hype and controversy, lets not forget the Sea to Sky’s other athletic champions, those in so-called “fringe sports” that may not gather the media attention and sponsorship dollars of the 2010 spectacles but are probably more fun to watch, compete in, and win.
I’m talking specifically about Air Guitar and, for the second consecutive year, Whistler’s Cole Manson is Canada’s National Air Guitar Champion.
Manson, a local Capoeira instructor, competes under the name “Johnny Utah” and in Early August he traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba and wailed away on the imaginary fret-board to bring home another national title.
On August 19- 21, 2009 Cole will be back in Oulu, Finland for the third time to compete in the 14th annual World Air Guitar Championships. Last year he brought home a Bronze medal, and while being the third best person in the world at imaginary-rocking-out might be good enough for some people, we know it isn’t for Johnny Utah.

Feet- Congrats on the Victory. How did the Winnipeg Championships compare to the ones held in Toronto?

Cole– It wasn’t as hard of a competition, the calibre was a bit higher in Toronto, where there were 5-6 other provincial champs last year. What happened was the guy who started the Canadian Air Guitar Championships in Toronto merged his company with LiveNation and moved on to other things. Air Guitar was kind of a backburner thing for a while and this year’s event wouldn’t have happened but then the guy who organized the Manitoba provincials last year bought the rights to Canadian Air Guitar at the last minut so there wasn’t time to get all the other Provincial Championships going in time to make the worlds.

Feet- How many competitors were there?

Fifteen– Two ex-provincial champs, a couple of veterans and a handful of amateurs. It was a big night though. It was at the Royal Albert Arms Hotel, a pretty historical joint– Green Day and Nirvana have played there before– an dit was packed, it went on for quite a while. A real party.

Feet- Now that Whistler is preparing to host the world, do you think the National Air Guitar Championships are something that would fit in up here?

We’re actually working on that. I’ve teamed up with the new organizer and I’m supposed to set up the BC and Alberta Provincial Championships next year and we are gonna have the BC championship in Whistler right here in Whistler. So we’ll see how that goes.

Feet- What strategy and training regiment did you undertake this last year to ensure a re-peat?

I got together with DJ Rob Baanks and it was all about putting together a good track. I didn’t train that much, I rode my confidence to victory.

Feet- Now you’re off to Finland to battle it out with the best in the world. You’ve been before, and Europe seems to be the epicenter of Air Guitar. How are you preparing for this challenge and this trip?

This one I am putting some effort into. I have a lot of wardrobe ideas and have been spending a lot of time on my tracks. I have a new instrument I’m gonna unleash that has never been seen before.

Feet- Is it strictly rock and roll at these championships or do competitors mix in some Flamenco guitar or Chet Atkins tracks to keep people on their toes?

They do, the guy that got second place last year, his song was entirely flamenco guitar and he was handing out roses to the judges and stuff, it was great. There’s been air banjo, air ukelele, air stand-up bass, everything. Almost everything.

Feet– With all the hype and ruffled feathers surrounding the 2010 Olympics, do you feel like Air Guitar and other culturally important sports like Rock-paper-scissors or Table Hockey, get the respect they deserve?

In some circles they do but a lot of outsiders still see it as a joke. But within the circles of each of those sports people get it, and respect each other. I’m an air guitarist but because of that I have a lot of respect for a Rock-Paper-Scissors specialist. People may laugh at all those things but these are sports that everybody does, and probably, given the chance, would love to compete at.

Feet- These sports really bring nations and people together don’t they? More so, I would say, than Olympic sports because the fun level seems higher and the stress seems lower?

It’s so true. In Finland we even do a flag-bearing parade where we all carry our nation’s colours. Everyone has accomplished their goal to get to the World Championships and once you are there it is all about fun and good times and putting on a good show for your fellow competitors, inspiring them and entertaining them. Over there it is not about winning at all. The first time I went over to Oulu I was worried about winning but then I realized we were all winners already and it was time to have fun. After the comp we all went downstairs and did Air-eoke.

Feet- If you could Air Guitar for the entire world, one song, with everyone on earth watching, what song would you pick?

If it’s on that kind of World Stage I would have to go with the World Air Guitar theme song, the one that we all go up on stage and rock out together after the comp, and that’s Neil Young’s “Keep on Rocking in the Free World.” Anyone, anywhere in the world can rock out to that song.

Feet- Thanks Cole, good luck. All of Canada will be Banging their head and throwing the horns for you on the 21st.


2007- Johnny Utah Smashes Beer Bottle on own Head…

2009- Kick-starting Winnipeg en route to second National Title.