Climbing Black Mountain

In a world of technological blips and computer-manipulated voices, Black Mountain just seems to want to go back. The Vancouver quintet gained notoriety for their 2005 self-titled debut, as part of the 21st-century prog movement that eulogized an era when the smoke was thick and the tracks were heavy. But rather than stare at the past, Black Mountain always looks forward.

Flash forward to the release of their sophomore LP, appropriately titled In The Future. Full of dense grooves and keyboard solos, it harkens back to the glory days of King Crimson and Rush. But keyboardist Jeremy Schmitd maintains that Black Mountain has more than one sound.

“[In the Future] builds on what we established with Black Mountain,” he says, “but it doesn’t stick to any one genre. We have denser arrangements, and the songs are more fleshed out.”

Schmitd is wary of the post-prog label. “I like the tenets of prog rock that were established in the ’70s,” he admits. “I like the wealth of ideas going on then—stretching out the length of songs, divided into more than just verse and chorus.” Still, Schmitd is uncomfortable being grouped in the same genre as other prog-influenced groups like Tool and The Porcupine Tree. “I don’t like contemporary prog rock,” he says. “A lot of bands that have taken on the prog torch are into the virtuosity of it, the busy playing. We aren’t inclined that way.”

The diversity on In The Future proves Schmitd’s point. While the initially murky “Tyrants” is as prog as it gets, vocalists Steve McBean and Amber Webber jerk up the intensity with battled vocals. The stripped down “Stay Free” appeared on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack. Back in 2005, the band was selected by Chris Martin to open for Coldplay.

“We felt a bit out of our element,” Schmitd admits. “It was fun, but it wasn’t our world.” These days, Black Mountain is comfortable playing smaller gigs for an active audience. Their live shows have garnered widespread acclaim, and the band always makes sure to enjoy themselves. “There’s enthusiastic crowds at all our shows,” Schmitd says.

Yet despite their onstage energy, Schmitd claims that overpowering the audience with wicked solos was never their goal. “We never set out to be a heavy rock band,” he confesses. “I think of us as more ambient, with melodic moments strewn through. Heavy music doesn’t always have to be muscular.”

The diversity of the band’s musical taste has also influenced their unclassifiable sound. Schmidt, a fan of everything from Pink Floyd to Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood duets, tries not to get boxed in by genre.

“There’s a wide range of musical influence among the five or us that gets filtered into the mix,” he says. “I do like a lot of old prog and psych stuff, but sometimes I want to hear some disco or Sun Ra.” As for current artists, he cites chanteuse El Perro Del Mar, and new wave kids MGMT.

And while Schmitd and his bandmates are flattered by comparisons to legends like Yes, they try not to take it seriously. “We could never be as technically skilled as Yes,” Schmidt admits. “We’re more like No.’”

Whatever they are, critics are eating In the Future up with a spoon. The hype for tracks such as the almost 17-minute-long “Bright Lights,” led to a rush for tickets to their soldout March 5 gig at Lee’s Palace. Next up, the band will continue their tour across Canada with folkies Bon Iver. While they are on their way to rock stardom, Schmidt admits that they are still a bunch of music fans who travel in a van and get excited about highway deer sightings.

If the cost of their buzz has them on the road for a while, Schmidt isn’t complaining. “It can be arduous, moving around a lot,” he admits. “But I’d rather be doing this than working behind a counter.”

Hot Ironside strikes Blues

The Varsity Blues took home the silver medal at Varsity Arena as the powerhouse Laurier Golden Hawks defeated the home team 1-0 in the OUA women’s hockey championship. The Hawks, losers of only two regular season games, needed two games to clinch the title in the best-of-three series, beating the Blues 2-1 in overtime in the opening game. Third-year forward Andrea Ironside was the hero for the Hawks, netting both game-winning goals en route to Laurier’s fifth consecutive women’s hockey title.

No one should be surprised to see these two teams in the final. They finished 1-2 in the regular season standings and went undefeated in the playoffs until the championship. “We’ve had lots of U of T-Laurier finals,” said Blues head coach Karen Hughes. Both squads boast potent offence, tied for a league-high 3.59 goals per game, while allowing very few goals thanks to strong defence and goaltending. A combined total of four first and second team all-stars were dressed for the final.

OUA first team all-star goaltender Stephanie Lockert had another outstanding game for the Blues in the final tilt, and faced almost twice as many shots as her Laurier counterpart, second team all-star Liz Knox. The only goal came in the second period when a Toronto defender blocked a shot by OUA player of the year Lauren Barch and Ironside picked up the loose puck, firing a high shot past Lockert.

The Hawks carried the play for most of the game, allowing few scoring opportunities. It didn’t help that the Blues were handed almost twice as many penalties, which Hughes felt was a trend in home games. “We get all the penalties here,” she says. Toronto did not allow a power-play goal in eight times shorthanded, but it’s still difficult not to be hurt with so much time spent in the penalty box. Forward Annie Del Guidice had a few breaks, but there were no other Blues players to pick up the rebounds. Rookie Amanda Fawns set up some scoring chances but the Blues couldn’t bury them. The team’s best opportunity came late in the third period, when the puck squeezed through Knox’s legs and dribbled towards the goalline, but the Hawks’ defence scooped it away.

Laurier was able to stifle Blues offence in both games, allowing only one goal in the series. “They’re pretty aggressive and physical so that worked well for them,” said coach Hughes about the Hawks’ ability to shut down her team.

While an enthusiastic crowd equipped with noisemakers made for an exciting atmosphere in the final game, Hughes was disappointed in the behaviour of a few rowdy Laurier fans who taunted Toronto’s players from behind the bench. “That’s pretty bad sportsmanship,” she said. “It’s unfortunate to have that in a university game.”

In game one, played at Laurier, Brenley Jorgensen opened the scoring for the Blues in the second period from Laura Foster and Emily Patry, but Kaley Powers evened things up in the third period. Ironside potted the overtime winner 2:16 into the extra frame, assisted by Barch and defenceman Kate Psota. The shots were nearly even in periods one and three, as each team registered only one shot in overtime, but Laurier outshot Toronto 13-6 in the second and held a 34-14 edge overall.

While the Blues would have liked to claim the top prize, their season has still been a success. “[It was] a good season as a whole, so I think there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We did well,” said the coach, who also had praise for Lockert, graduating forwards Laura Foster and Emily Patry, and rookies Lindsay Hill, Karolina Urban and allrookie team defenceman Kelly Setter. It was also a good year for Janine Davies, who won the OUA scoring title. “It’s great for Janine Davies to win the scoring. We haven’t won the scoring in years,” said Hughes.

Lockert, who played her final game on Friday, also had a positive assessment of the season. “As a whole, what you want in a season is to peak at the right time, and I think we did… We were always making progression,” she said. “I thought we let [game one] slip away, but I went home and I thought about what I wanted to end my career on, and that was a good game as a team. We struggled putting a team game together in our game one, but we accomplished that today,” she added.

Next year’s edition of the Varsity Blues won’t look a lot like this year’s team, since a number of the team’s core players are graduating. Coach Hughes is hoping that younger players who showed improvement this year will be able to continue to progress next season. “The younger girls are going to carry the team,” said Lockert.

Stop the presses?

McGill university has forced its student newspaper, the McGill Daily, to defend its existence, asking students whether they want to continue supporting the paper financially. The Daily and its French-language counterpart the Délit receive a student levy that accounts for roughly 56 per cent of their funding. Though the levy has existed for years, the university’s board of governors is enforcing a three-year-old decision that all such student fees need to be “reaffirmed” by the student body. If students vote not to continue paying the $5, the school will scrap it.

“The Daily is independent of Mc- Gill as a corporate body and independent of McGill’s administration, faculty, and staff, but it is not independent of the students,” said Morton Mendelson, the school’s deputy provost of student life and learning.

The Daily operates independently of McGill, under the terms of a fiveyear memorandum of understanding, which is set to expire June 1. Other independent, levy-supported groups at McGill include the Quebec Public Interest Research Group and campus radio station CKUT. Only these institutions are being required to reaffirm their levies.

“McGill will renew [our agreement] with a campus-wide student activity only if students indicate that they want the group to continue and that they are willing to continue paying for the service,” said Mendelson.

“If students really have a problem with the newspaper, there are [mechanisms] in place that allow them to bring this to referendum. It’s a little presumptuous and petty of McGill to force this to happen,” Drew Nelles, the Daily’s coordinating editor, told the Montreal Gazette.

The Daily’s demise is by no means immanent, as the paper has widespread support throughout the Mc- Gill community.

First-year biology student Aaron Esterson said he can’t imagine life without the Daily. “I’ve read just about every issue since September,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere though.”

Mendelson agreed, telling the Montreal Gazette he “couldn’t imagine students would not affirm their interest in maintaining the Daily.”

Event listings for week of March 3

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Celebrate the U of T arts festival by channeling your inner Picasso.


Symposium sponsored by the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies.


Interactive cooking demonstrating with practical tips.


Free film screenings all week long!


Learn from leaders about how to find your career path.


Music, dance, and food from around the world, presented by New College.

  • Sat. March 8, 7pm. Free!

  • William Doo Auditorium (45 Willcocks Ave.)



Soulful reggae with a relaxed, positive spirit.


Renowned filmmaker launches the U of T Festival of the Arts.

  • Tues. March 4, 7-10pm. Free (tickets required).

  • Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St.)



1995 Scorsese masterpiece about mobsters and greed.



Over 500 Canadian bands in 4 nights. Can you do it?


Silly readings in front of complete strangers.


Guerilla artists promoting women and people of colour.

Sex and religion come together

The Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre has teamed up with the Multi-Faith Centre, Hillel of Greater Toronto and the U of T Pagan Society. Now, what sort of event are you picturing?

The fruit of their collaboration is “Faith, Food & Fornication,” a panel discussion on the relationship between spirituality, sexuality and food this Tuesday from 4:45 to 6 p.m. at the Multi- Faith Centre.

According to Rachelle Pascoe- Deslauriers, SEC executive director, the talk is intended to show those who are already religious, as well as those who aren’t, that issues around sexuality can be questioned and explored.

“In establishing that this event is sexpositive, inclusive and multi-faith, we’re creating a safe environment to be able to discuss any issues—contentious or otherwise—as it relates to a relationship between spirituality and sex,” she said.

Panelists will include U of T Ecumenical Chaplain Reverend Ralph Carl Wushke, U of T Pagan Chaplain Catherine Starr, and Shabir Ally, president of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International Toronto.

Pascoe-Deslauriers said that the diversity of religions represented is an important aspect of the talk. “The panelists are from different faith-traditions, and I think that ‘contentious issues’ may not be the same across faith-traditions.”

Although the panelists will lead the discussion, the event is focused on student participation and questions.

“These are all expert people, but there’s no prescriptive solution,” Pascoe- Deslauriers said. The main goal is having a forum in which to talk about it,” she added.

There will also be strawberries and a chocolate fountain.

The rest of the lineup for Sexual Awareness Week features everything from a workshop on flirting to a “Hentai & Sushi” evening to the annual “Porn & Cookies” open house, where students are encouraged to eat freshly baked cookies, peruse a selection of pornography, and mingle in a relaxed environment. For more details, visit the SEC website at

Buy into Bubble now or pay later, admin warns students

On March 4 to 6, U of T will hold a plebiscite asking students if they want to continue paying to maintain the Varsity Centre. The facility was constructed in 2006 using university money and outside donations, but last year a temporary fee of $9 per term was added to each full-time student’s athletic fees. If students vote Yes this week, the $9, plus an additional $2.29 to account for in ation, will be made a permanent part of the athletics fees, bringing student athletic fees to $125.81 per term.

Bruce Kidd, dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, explained that the new stadium and bubble have proved very popular among students. According to Kidd, use of the Varsity field has increased 15-fold since the construction of the new facility. In addition to maintaining the facility, the $9 will help ensure that the facility will be scheduled for student use 75 per cent of the time. The rest of the Varsity Centre, including renovations to Varsity Arena and a new Centre for High-Performance Sport, will be built using university money and outside donations.

The proposed fee change has, however, met considerable disapproval among student activists opposed to rising non-tuition fees. The Council on Student Services rejected the plan last year, but temporarily adopted it pending this student vote. Athletics fees have risen sharply in the past several years, and many students insist that the existing fees should be enough to fund the Varsity Centre.

If students vote No, the $9 fee may still be implemented on a temporary, three-year basis. Other proposed options for funding the facility include charging students with user fees and renting the facility to outside groups.

Kidd points out that similar facilities at other Ontario universi ties were built using student levies, not outside funding. At U of T, student leaders had input at every stage of planning, and were aware that a fee increase would be needed to maintain the facility. Although the university built the stadium without student money,

Kidd says that it is “only fair that students pay their fair share of the operating costs of the new facilities.” He also added that if students vote not to pay the fee, the decision will likely discourage the university from raising outside money for future projects.

Voting takes place Tuesday through Thursday at polling stations throughout campus. See www.utsu. ca for times and locations.

Mercy or murder?

Robert Latimer, convicted murderer and self-proclaimed mercy killer, has left prison after serving seven years. Still unapologetic for having filled his truck with exhaust fumes, thereby killing his disabled daughter, Tracy, Latimer holds that his act was no crime, but euthanasia.

Opinions range from support for the decision to sheer rage. Latimer’s wife has stated that she’s excited to have her husband home, while various advocates for the disabled protest against his release, which they take as a sign of indifference towards a morally reprehensible act of murder. Craig Langston, president of the Cerebral Palsy Association of B.C., believes that Latimer’s release sends the message that taking the life of a disabled child is an appropriate action. This argument is accurate. There should be a limit to the amount of power a parent has over their child’s mortality.

As Latimer showed no remorse for the killing, Marie White, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, believes his lenient sentence is unfair. “Due process was followed and no one can argue with due process,” says White. “I question if this issue had come up before the appeals board and it involved someone who didn’t have a disability, whether the same decision would have been rendered.”

Tracy Latimer was profoundly crippled with cerebral palsy, exhibiting the mental capacity of a three-yearold and living life, according to her father, in a devastated condition. In a letter written to the Canadian Press, Latimer claimed that his daughter had been suffering for far too long. She required excessive amounts of surgery, and could only take Tylenol to lessen the excruciating pain of her disease. Robert’s sister, Pat Latimer, believes that her brother never should have been prosecuted for the killing, but is happy nonetheless for his release. It is not altogether clear how much participation the family had in Robert Latimer’s freedom, but both Latimer’s wife and sister support the decision of the courts to let him out of prison. The legal process has been a tedious journey, dragging Latimer through a series of paroles, exemptions, and even a visit to a halfway house. Kelly Keyko, one of the jurors in the trial in 1997, said that he would not have voted guilty had he known Latimer would spend seven years in jail.

Cases of euthanasia are commonly hidden under a thick layer of discretion and clinical privacy. What we can know, we understand from the facts—moral complications fall under speculation and uncertainty. Was this euthanasia? Sources do not report Latimer’s daughter pleading for her death. But then again, she was under no mental condition to do so. The severe and debilitating circumstances of the disease itself could represent a silent plea to be released. Is it right to take another’s life into one’s own hands, no matter how shattered or compromised that life may be? Now that he’s free, it gives the appearance that Latimer may have been selfishly releasing himself from the burden of Tracy’s illness.

Admin strives to woo athletic supporters, with Bubble vote near

In 1998, the century-old and crumbling Varsity Stadium was nearly turned into a hotel in the hands of private developers. With its mind set on keeping the space for students, the university came up with several different plans to rebuild the site. In 2002, the Faculty of Physical Education and Health proposed an elaborate new stadium that would be partly funded by a student levy. The project was rejected by students in a referendum, and FPEH went back to the drawing board.

The current phase of the project was first put before Governing Council in 2005, according to FPEH’s dean Bruce Kidd. The committee that considered the proposal included representatives from the Graduate Students’ Union, University of Toronto Students’ Union, and Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students.

“All their representatives signed the report which included a business model that called for a $10 per term per full-time student fee,” said Masha Sidorova, co-chair of Council for Athletics and Recreation.

The report in question states that: “There will be no student capital levy for Phase 1 and only a modest increase in student operating is proposed (under $10 per term, to begin in 2008-09).”

Fast forward to 2008: none of those student unions have offi- cially endorsed the proposal. “My understanding is that [the signed document is] not binding,” said Rini Ghosh, then-president of UTSU (at the time known as SAC). “Considering our ideological beliefs, I don’t think Howard Tam [SAC’s representative on the project planning committee] would have committed students to pay the extra levy.”

In March 2007, the fee increase was taken to the Council on Student Services, where all the students on the board opposed it. UTSU members maintained that such an increase in fees could not be implemented without being first taken to the students. That was that—or so they thought.

“At the March 2 COSS meeting, we were under the impression that we had to come to a final decision at that meeting,” said UTSU president Andréa Armborst, who was then UTSU’s VP internal and non-voting chair on COSS.

In the meantime, FPEH had raised $24 million to build phase one of the Varsity Centre and the Bubble. Some criticized the university for building the facility without ensuring students would be willing to pay to use it.

“The university’s new strategy is to build something and then use the threat of it being taken away to force us to shoulder the costs of operating it,” said Arts and Science Students’ Union president Ryan Hayes. “You can expect to see the same thing happen with the Centre for High Performance Sport.”

Armborst disagreed. “The FPEH has been very straightforward with us. I don’t believe it’s a threat. The fact that students are having to pay for student space is not something the student union agrees with, but it’s an unfortunate reality,” she said. Armborst added that, while she trusted the FPEH, she was accustomed to taking the university administration’s word with a grain of salt

“Quite often what we hear from the university is contradictory to what actually happens in operational matters,” she said.

While plans for the CHPS are a long way from being finalized, a May 2007 preliminary project proposal presented to the university’s Planning and Budget Committee stipulated that students would pay 75 per cent of the annual $2.8-million operational cost. “We will be asking students to pay for their use,” said Kidd.

Kidd has taken the position that student fees for athletics are a regrettable necessity.

“I wish there could be another model. I wish that the province would fund both capital and operating [costs] for these important programs,” said Kidd, “but I just don’t see that happening.”