I can't remember how I got hooked up with The Georgia Straight, Vancouver's underground newspaper. There was a guy working there named Al Sorensen who got me to write a few record reviews, which appeared in August of 1969 (when I was working at The Vancouver Province) and January 1970 (when I was at UBC).
Two of the record reviews appeared in the January 7, 1970 issue as part of a pop supplement, where I reviewed albums by Steppenwolf and Jefferson Airplane in which I expressed pretty negative opinions about the hypocrisy of RCA Records for releasing them. (I was inspired by Gene Lees, a critic for High Fidelity magazine in the States who expressed similar feelings about "youth-oriented" music.)
This pop supplement had no name, and there was a contest for choosing a name ... but I don't have any copies of future such supplements, and there were none to be seen in the microfilmed holdings at the Vancouver Library. This is odd, because I reviewed Chicago's second album which was released on January 26, 1970, with exactly the same copy in The Ubyssey on March 13, 1970. This review, which wasn't entirely positive, was used by Columbia Records in their promotional material for the album.
Rick McGrath and I interviewed Chicago who appeared in Vancouver around this time, and that interview appeared in The Straight on April 15, 1970.
Following this, I wrote a brief news article about some efforts in Haney/Maple Ridge (my home town) about setting up youth facilities there. This article had the word "fuck" in it, and copies of it or the paper seemingly got back to Haney where my mother was very upset about this. What was funny, a few years later after my mother passed away, I mentioned this to my father, who said "You have to use words like that in your articles in order to get them published."
Some time after this and after I graduated from UBC in spring of 1970, I was hanging around the Georgia Straight office for some reason when one of the typesetters there, who had a drug habit, didn't show up for work. I mentioned to them that I could type VERY fast, and suddenly I had a full-time job in The Straight's production department. I was so happy I went out and bought a can of sardines from a nearby store, that was my dinner for the day.
Life as a typesetter continued on for about a year and a half like this. Because my reviewing duties at The Province had dried up, I also began to write a lot of reviews and articles for The Straight, mostly classical music as well as pop and jazz, both records and concerts. I didn't really understand why I could get away with writing about classical music which was sort of antithetical to the kind of material The Straight usually ran. I figured it was because they needed me more to do the typesetting.
In January of 1972, many members of The Straight had a major dispute with The Straight's publisher and started up their own newspaper, The Grape. I went along with them, continuing my double life as a typesetter and music (mostly classical) reviewer.
Click here to see a list of all the articles which I wrote for The Straight.
As of summer 2022, in consideration of the fact that the Straight is not accessible through the Internet (as far as I am aware), I was dithering about whether I wanted to put links to all the articles (from my own clippings) on the above page. Eventually I did all of them!
To get dates for these articles, since many of my copies did not have these, I spent considerable time downtown at the Vancouver Public Library where The Straight is available on microfilm of generally mediocre quality. Despite the fact that I went through the years when I worked at the paper at least three times, these are the articles I could not find:
- Chicago 2. See above. This is a Xerox copy of the review.
- Elton John 11-17-70. This album was released April 1, 1971. This is what is on the back of the review.
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