vancouver blogger

Alfred Drinking Coffee and Chatting with VanIsReal

Alfred Zagloul loves coffee. This simple premise was used as the inspiration for his incredibly popular account (Alfred started his Instagram on September 1st, 2016 and he’s already up to 2397 followers as of January 17th, 2017) and it’s worked out swimmingly.

Even if you don’t love coffee (I’ve been off it for 2 weeks, but I’m sure my addiction will rear it’s ugly head again soon enough), I think his account is worth following if you use IG because his expression makes me laugh and without Alfred using any words it’s like he’s letting people know, “I feel ya”. Life ain’t always easy, but the best thing we can do is laugh at ourselves, and that’s why @alfreddrinkingcoffee is such an impactful account!

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Alfred at Revolver on Cambie.

It was my first time at Revolver and the music was my favourite part of the coffee shop: old school U2 and the War on Drugs were playing while we were there.

In addition to how amazing he is on IG, Alfred was kind, interesting, and easy to talk to in real life, so I give this “Accountant by day/Coffee Drinker also by day” (the tagline on Alfred’s IG) two thumbs up!

What do you love about Vancouver?

“Obviously, the biggest thing for me is the coffee culture in general. So, I love how everywhere you go in Vancouver, 90% of the people love coffee. Every shop that you go to has a different vibe, has a different flavour, so you get a real taste, a huge variation of tastes and flavours around Vancouver, which is really rare to see in some cities, so I love that about Vancouver.”

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If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?

“Ok, so I had to really think about this. So, there’s been a couple times where I just felt like an outsider here and there, and I, honestly, the reason why I love coffee so much is because of the coffee shops themselves. So I’d go to a coffee shop, sit down and you feel like you’re a part of a group, even though you’re not really. You can just sit there and enjoy, hear some random conversations, hear what is going on around you and just enjoy the atmosphere of a good coffee shop. Usually, that’s my go-to if I ever do feel like an outsider or anything like that.”

Where did you come up with the idea for your Instagram?

“Honestly, a lot of my co-workers noticed that I’m obsessed with coffee before we did this. And they’re like, “Alfred you need to have an account.” So, we started pitching ideas and thinking about what we should do, and next thing I know here I am with colourful shirts, staring deadpan into the camera, and drinking coffee. Thought the most simple idea was the best way to go, so that’s where the idea came from basically.”

Kevin’s Key to Being an Outsider: Own It!

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Kevin Wolfhard (@kwolfhard) knows what’s up!

If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?

“Always…and essentially, I mean it took me quite a lot of time to sort of figure this out, but if you don’t own being a dork, being a weirdo, being a misfit, being an outsider…it’s, you can’t live life like that.

So if you just own it, it’s the best thing in the world. It’s who you are, right? This is why I dance at the Fox. It’s the ultimate expression of who I am as a person.”

I was feeling super crappy today (damn you PMS and a lack of sunlight), so I am so thankful to Kevin for his unbelievably wise words, because they boosted me up and reminded me of what’s important in life.

Owning who you are (which I find challenging to do all the time, but it feels so good when I do own who I am) is the best way to cope with feeling like a freak!

If you want to look at some gorgeous photos, please follow Kevin on Instagram: @kwolfhard. 

Fleabag: Funny Feminist Television

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If you’re into TV shows about confused, messed-up, funny, thoughtful, complicated and endearing white women in their early 30s then the show Fleabag might be for you.

The site Jezebel.com had a review of the BBC series Fleabag up a few weeks ago, so I downloaded the 1st season. There’s only 6 episodes and I burned through them right away. Then I watched them all a second time over because of how comforting and entertaining I find the series to be.

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Writer and star of FLEABAG Sophie Waller-Bridge

The series protagonist is Fleabag played by the outstandingly talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge is 31 years old in real life and she is responsible for writing all 6 episodes of the first season. Fleabag, the televisions series, is the end result of a fringe play that Waller-Bridge originally performed in Edinburgh.

Anyways, while I now feel like my life is coming together (I’m 32) in terms of having a satisfying relationship with my boyfriend and a new job that I feel passionate about, most of my 20s (after I broke up with my first serious boyfriend in 2006) were spent binge-drinking alcohol and smoking tons of weed, and hooking up with random men who either weren’t interested in me, or if they were, then I immediately became repulsed by them. Once I quit drinking I continued to pursue womanizers who’d bounce from female to female and insult my physical appearance…and just generally contribute to why I felt like a piece of shit.

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Due to my own history, which was mostly spent as a single female looking for and rejecting any chance of finding love, I gravitate to stories about women who are going through similar experiences to what I went through for so long (editor’s note: That is not to say my relationship is perfect, and it started off in a highly dysfunctional manner, but I am much happier at this point then I was 2 years ago when I turned 30…I hate when people are in a relationship and present their lives as free of problems).

Anyways, Fleabag has an on-off boyfriend named Harry. During the 1st episode Harry and Fleabag are in bed. Harry wakes up to Fleabag masturbating to a video of President Obama she’s watching on her laptop, and he is offended and disgusted. The sensitive and giving Harry stuffs a few of his things into a bag and breaks up with Fleabag. Fleabag assures the viewer (she regularly speaks directly to the camera/viewer to give us the inside scoop…and while this approach is at first slightly disarming, it eventually made me feel like Fleabag and I were tight) that Harry will be back. Since Harry is fully into Fleabag, she tramples all over him and uses their short-term break-ups to fuck some real douchebags.

This show made me (and my friend and my boyfriend when I showed them some episodes) laugh a lot! I don’t want to spoil all the hilarious moments, but some of them centre around sending out mass vagina-shot texts to try to find a date, Fleabag discussing how heavy her period flow is when she randomly runs into a hook-up while shopping for tampons, and uncomfortable anal sex. I’m not expecting you to laugh here, since any of these situations could end up being written and portrayed in a way that is stupid and offensive, but in my opinion, these situations made me crack-up without brushing off the underlying emotional desperation Fleabag is experiencing to say and do the things she does.Image result for sophie waller bridgeFleabag operates her own tiny cafe, and she is heavily in debt. Once upon a time she ran it with her best friend Boo, but I can’t share anything more without giving away too many good plot details to ruin your viewing of the show (if you so choose to watch it). I think that Fleabag is a feminist show because Fleabag aims to be an independent, confident business woman who has a loving partner and a positive self-image, but the sad events that have occurred during the last few years of Fleabag’s life (some of which might be partially due to her own making) are causing her to harm herself, and lash out at everyone around her.

The show makes some very accurate feminist observations about how women are sexualized and treated as sexual objects, without ever pretending that women don’t often do the same thing to men. Fleabag favours the good looking guy over the man who will support her, and this is just one example of how Fleabag is a highly imperfect protagonist. Since all people are imperfect, I think this also makes her relatable. Feminism can take many forms, and while I don’t have much fun reading feminist theory, I do enjoy seeing a female try to figure out how to balance wanting to be desirable with respecting herself and chasing her ambitions.

Fleabag’s relationship with her older sister Claire (played by Sian Clifford) reminded me of my own relationship with my sister. It’s hard for us to open up about personal topics with one another, and sometimes it’s even awkward for us to hug, but Fleabag also captures the undeniable and unbreakable bond that exists between sisters since nobody knows you better than your own sister. Claire is married to a lecherous man named Martin (played perfectly by Brett Gelman), and Claire’s dedication to a man who treats her poorly, but who makes her laugh, is an issue between the sisters.Image result for sophie waller bridge fleabagFleabag and her sister Claire (played beautifully by Sian Clifford)

Fleabag and Claire’s father is in a relationship with a woman they despise, and the
“stepmom” character (though their father is not actually married to her) who is only referred to as “Godmother” (played by Olivia Colman) is the only character in the series who is presented as one-dimensional: she is threatened by Claire and Fleabag’s relationship with their father, and “Godmother” constantly makes passive aggressive jabs at Fleabag and Claire. The one-dimensional nature of “Godmother” allows the actress playing her to go wild and take her artsy-fartsy character all the way to the top.Image result for sophie waller bridge

Olivia Colman as “Godmother”

By the final episode of the series it all becomes apparent why Fleabag is so screwed-up and why she is struggling to like herself, let alone love herself. The show is dark, sick, twisted, and so very special. If you’re looking for something to watch this weekend that isn’t mindless entertainment, give Fleabag a try!

Paul’s Not Afraid Of Getting On His Soapbox

Some friends took my boyfriend and I to a weekly event (once a month on a Saturday night) at a closed coffee shop on Commerical Drive called SOAPBOX. The premise is that you go up and take the microphone (there is no actual stage though) at the front and talk about whatever issue or topic you want to (I was told there is usually a theme each night…I’m not sure what the theme was last night, but unsurprisingly most of the debate centred around Black Lives Matter for good reason).

Anyways, I really enjoyed it, because I don’t feel comfortable getting into arguments on Facebook. I love arguing with people though (I am still very proud–and inclined to show off at any time I can work it into a conversation–of getting 99% in grade 12 philosophy), so I enjoy being able to discuss my viewpoints with people face to face. I think it leaves less room for unnecessary misinterpretation, and it requires a certain level of accountability, since you’re not “hiding behind a screen” as they say…even though your name is attached to your comment on Facebook…Soapbox felt more personal to me in a good way. Yes, I am veering into that annoying real life is so much better than social media cliched argument that I hate, so I apologize for that.

Paul stood out because he shared some insightful points and he was really funny too. His style is very fun and very rock!

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New Music: All Failures by Isomers

Artist: Isomers. Song: All Failures.

This is the first video I’ve directed, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The Furniture’s Aramis Starfish

I consider myself a onesie-connoisseur, so it is no small feat that Aramis Starfish (far right) was wearing the best one I’ve seen so far last night…and yes that is a challenge to all you onesie-wearers. Aramis on bass and her bandmates-Lana on the drums, and Johnny Wildcat on guitar-took over the stage as The Furniture at Lana Lou’s and the crowd went wild (almost everybody was up and dancing to the music).

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The Furniture‘s songs are so much fun, full of unbridled energy, and raw. One of the people who watched the show with me said his favourite thing about Aramis’ stage presence was that she totally relished in being the frontwoman…complete with sexy eye rolls, intense stares and tempting smiles for the audience.

If you’re going to ask for people’s attention, you gotta offer them up something special (I think) and Aramis and the rest of The Furniture surely did. Check out Aramis’ interview below:

I love the diversity of Vancouver. I love that anyone is everyone. Everyone is anyone, and, I don’t know, I’ve always really loved the inclusiveness of the neighbourhood. Especially the Downtown Eastside, which I’ve been a part of for about 15 years.”

“I’ve always felt like a freak and an outsider, which brought me to Vancouver which made me feel included in the beautiful world of freakdom that is here. Let your freak flag fly. I think music is probably what has gotten me through all of my weirdness. I’m not sure why but people seem to be open and responsive to us individuals sharing their uniqueness or their weirdness or whatever. I’ve always had a pretty positive response.”

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Sydney Knows A Thing Or Two About Freaks: FREAKAGENT.com

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On this gloriously sunny New Years Eve day, I got shut-down by the first five people I asked to interview for VANISREAL.com. Thankfully, I continued to search, and I kept walking around looking for an interview subject. When I saw Sydney Gregoire, I thought her unconventional style was interesting and attractive, so I asked her if I could interview her.

The beautiful Sydney agreed. When I told her that my second question is, “If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?”, she informed me that she owns an agency called FREAK (amazing) for local artists, and DJs. The website for the agency is FREAKAGENT.com.

As they say, great minds think alike!

These are some of the things Sydney said:

“I think meeting other freaks and outsiders in the city is probably the way to feel most normal in Vancouver, I think. There’s a lot of fun, creative people over here, so it’s nice.”

“I do actually run an agency called FREAK. It has local artists, visual artists, DJs, that sort of thing, so it’s all like the weirdos in the city. We get together and kind of make art together.”

Thanks to Sydney…it felt really nice to not feel like a freak while asking people if they’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider (if that makes any sense)!