27.5.11

Doot dootle oot doot.

Vancouver is a wonderful city, but it's one with a very different attitude than your standard metropolis. For example, look at the superheroes different types of cities attract. In a place like Gotham City, only a grim and implacable crusader can bring fear to the criminal element. In a shining gem like Metropolis, its lustre attracts criminals of a magnificent yet terrifying scale, and it requires an equally powerful hero to answer these challenges. In the deafening crowd of New York City, too real to suffer cosmic threats, and too vast for any one hero to ever hope to tame, its ideal heroes are those with a human nature, those whose lives are as much of an adventure without a costume, who illustrate the countless number of stories within every block.

So what of Vancouver? Only a magical being would do, one which seems to live in a multitude of worlds simultaneously. One who could confront the most unimaginable things in the universe with a warm and effortless smile.

And also... he wouldn't necessarily be a hero. He'd be an adventurer and a merry soul, but he'd be too much of a chaotic thrill-seeker to ever shoulder any burden of responsibility.

In other words, he'd be someone like Mr. Mxyzptlk. Or possibly Ambush Bug.


Or, more accurately, Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

Indeed, Nardwuar is a legend in Vancouver for his uproarious antics and irrepressible spirit. His fearlessness in confronting celebrities has left him notorious in the stories they tell each other, in the comfort of their retreats. It might be tempting to dismiss him as a vapid self-promoter, constantly desperate for attention, but you would do so at the risk of joining the legions of people who have underestimated him, for he's an incredibly intelligent man with unwavering determination and a keen understanding. For example, let me tell you the tale of Snoop Dogg.

Snoop, as you may have guessed, wasn't particularly impressed with Nardwuar -- or Vancouver in general, I assume. But in an effort to connect with the rapper, Nardwuar showed him a friend's prized possession: a "Superfly" doll from the 70s, an icon with no small amount of influence on Snoop's character. He was indeed impressed, and offered to buy the doll outright, while the camera rolled. Nardwuar apologised, and explained the doll wasn't his to sell. Snoop persisted, until finally he just took the doll and left the interview, while the cameras rolled.

(Yep, he stole a doll from a grown man. Classy guy.)

Undeterred, Nardwuar interviewed him again another time, now trying to bond with Snoop by giving the rapper a tour of his record collection. In particular, there was one rare album by a blues musician named Blowfly who was a huge inspiration to Snoop. Once again, he saw something he wanted, and proceeded to steal it.

You have to admit that despite a less-than-optimal response, Nardwuar was certainly well-versed in Snoop's character. The third time Nardwuar interviewed him, Snoop was curious to see what he'd be shown this time. It was a VCR cassette, which they watched together.

...It was footage of Nardwuar sitting next to Blowfly himself, admonishing and shaming Snoop Dogg, and exhorting him to give Nardwuar his album back. Mr. Dogg, rebuked by his idol, had no choice but to comply.

Make an enemy of Nardwuar, and you will discover exactly how you can be defeated.


In addition to being a television and radio personality, he's also been a punk rocker for the last 25 years, and "Gassy Jack" is the most recent album by his band, The Evaporators. This time, he's turned his boundless energy and resources to his hometown of Vancouver, and almost every song is a loud, flamboyant celebration of the city. From Gastown to float planes, from Sasquatch to landscape painter E.J. Hughes, he compiles a history of the lower mainland, supported by the history of his many years in the B.C. punk rock scene.

Only Nardwuar would make an album like this... Only Nardwuar would dare. It would be lunacy to suggest that his howling could compare to the artistry of Daniele Luppi, but nonetheless it's a remarkable album - a mystical artifact which can summon the very soul of Vancouver. You don't have to be a fan of his, but you'd do well to know he exists. Because even though you'll never be able to predict what he'll do... at least you'll be ready for it if you ever do meet him.

(Also, try to get him to say his name backwards. I don't know what will happen, but it couldn't hurt to see what happens.)

1 comment:

The Capillary said...

You know, you've always sort of reminded me of Narduar.

About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.