Welcome to Genericville
They came, they saw, they took fashion advice
from Loverboy. In most cases, the city was the same again.
Way back in the '80s, before Kurt, Hole
and superstardom, little Courtney Love had another career - also in
the entertainment field - as a stripper in local clubs. That much is
well-known. What isn't as widely publicized is the genesis of her
nose job. According to Love herself, at age 15 she was up from
Portland with some groupie girlfriends when drummer Matt Frenette of
the local hair band Loverboy spotted her and called out "Hey, you'd
be a fox if you got your nose fixed." Love took the advice to heart
and got the surgery done as soon as she could.
The Pelvis set a record for his
shortest-ever appearance right here in Vancouver, disappearing just
five songs and 15 minutes into his September 3, 1957, Empire Stadium
concert. Fans complained that the $2 admission charge was a scam.
"Well, suh, those five
songs were some of my best."
Although in political disfavour and
semi-exile, the British statesman was asked to speak to the 60th
Annual Provincial Exhibition on September 3, 1929. In his address he
commented that the decision to hold the fair despite the grounds
having burned down six weeks earlier was "the culmination of a
courage that does not know defeat." There was no mention of blood,
toil, tears and sweat, however.
Winston Churchill rallies
the troops fighting valiantly to put on a good
THE SULTAN OF BRUNEI
His Highness Paduka Seri Baginda
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Wadaulah, often described as
the world's second wealthiest person, stopped by in 1995 looking to
find a waterfront pied-à-terre in West Van. Sadly, local Nimby
opposition to his wild parties and helicopter pad scared the poor
En route to EXPO 67 in Montreal, the
emperor of Ethiopia and living Jah to millions of Rastafarians
worldwide set down with his pet chihuahua, Lulu. During his brief
stopover he was entertained by Vancouver mayor Tom "Terrific"
Campbell, who a few months later would try to have all of
Vancouver's hippies rounded up and placed in detention in a single
central location - with gassing presumably to follow. Selassie would
have approved of this, of course, for 'tis a little-known fact that
the Lion of Judah hated his dread-locked followers with an abiding
In the 1920s the illusionist and escape artist
was hung upside down in a strait- jacket from the Sun Tower on the
edge of Victory Square. Thousands of bowler-hatted Vancouverites
turned out to watch. The Vancouver Sun even managed to send a
photographer. Of course, it did happen on their doorstep.
Storming the vaudeville circuit with buddy
Zeppo Marx in 1922, comedian Jack Benny swung by Strathcona's
Ferrera Court apartment building (504 E. Hastings St.) to visit one
of Marx's friends. There he met a local rabbi's daughter, Sadie
Marks, soon to be renamed Mary Livingstone, but later to be known as
Mrs. Benny, or just "Oh Mary." The romance didn't exactly bloom
right away, however. At the time, she was only 12.
On his way to Alaska in 1947, the animation
tycoon stayed at the Hotel Vancouver for a few days, revealing plans
to local reporters to ease out Mickey Mouse and replace him with
rising-star Donald Duck.
The blonde bombshell and future
presidential playmate arrived in Vancouver in 1953 to promote her
latest movie. In a single day she posed for 373 photographers and 32
"newspaper men" (though only 11 had actual assignments). Her
reception was a bit surprising, since the only really notable thing
Monroe had done at that point was pose for some "calendar art," as
the Sun judiciously put it. All that was about to change,
however. From here, the starlet boarded a train for Jasper to make
River of No Return. While there, the movie she arrived in
Vancouver to promote, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, became a huge
hit, turning her into Hollywood's brightest star.
Hold that pose. More than
300 photographers showed up to shoot Marilyn
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
In May 1914, the creator of
Sherlock Holmes had already come and gone from these parts (passing
through to lecture on his pet subject, spiritualism) when the
Komagata Maru sailed into Vancouver crammed with 376 Indians,
mostly Sikhs. Bitterness and scandal - some would say shame - ensued
when those aboard were refused admission to Canada and forced to sit
in the harbour for two months before finally sailing away. Hearing
of the event, Doyle cleverly deduced the Moriarty-like force
responsible. "The whole incident seemed to me to be so grotesque -
for why should sun-loving Hindoos [sic] force themselves upon Canada
- that I was convinced some larger purpose lay behind it. That
purpose was, as we can now see, to promote discord among the races
under the British flag. There can be no doubt that it was German
money that chartered that ship."
Before the knighthood, before LiveAid, even
before the Boomtown Rats, Bob Geldof held the position of
entertainment editor at the Georgia Straight. By all
accounts, the expat Brit liked the job, which he held from 1974
through 1975. Indeed, had it not been for Immigration Canada's
eventual insistence on a work permit, Geldof might be toiling there
That's not to say he wasn't even then thinking of bigger things.
In a review of John Denver's Back Home Again, Geldof had the
following telltale nuggets to share: "He's charming, has that
ultra-bright smile, wholesome features, and the all-important
boy-next-door quality, but if that's all it takes, why ain't I a
star? I'd love to be a star. I think I'd be an excellent star."
In 1969 the Apollo astronaut was a hero.
Untold millions tuned in to watch as he sprang about on the surface
of the moon and spoke some immortal words having to do with small
steps and giant leaps.
Eight years later, only a handful showed up as Armstrong made
another small step - into some wet cement, so that his footprint
could be recorded on the occasion of the grand opening of the
Harbour Centre observation platform. Fortunately a visual record of
the occasion still exists. A photograph hung by the deck's bar shows
Armstrong, flanked by a pair of Herb Tarlick characters, pulling his
booted foot from the gunk. A shoeshine boy awaits by his side.
The cement impression has also been preserved. It sits alone,
unmarked and unloved, in the stairwell by the emergency exit. No one
can figure out exactly what to do with it, according to the Harbour
Centre spokesman. They had to move it to the stairwell because
tourists kept tripping over