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Fine02_Philip_Moussavi_ForDiscorder_April2017

fine.

author
Ivanna Baranova
photography
Philip Moussavi
illustration
Roz Maclean

Since moving to Vancouver seven years ago from small-town Alberta, Cole Nowicki has devoted himself to various literary and creative realms throughout the city comedy, poetry, design, and plenty of work in between. It’s no surprise that Nowicki’s most recent project, fine., has generated such well-deserved enthusiasm from the get-go. The monthly event, distinct in its emphasis on storytelling, has drawn an audience from every corner of the city a reach that has extended well beyond just the literary community. With performances from a diverse pool of local comedians, poets, writers, and musicians like hazy, Mourning Coup, and Milk fine. offers a story for every listener. “There’s a lot of cool stuff happening in Vancouver, but I wanted to get a little weirder, so I set up a platform for myself and other standups and storytellers and writers. There are a lot of talented folk,” says Nowicki.

Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Illustration by Roz Maclean for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Illustration by Roz Maclean for Discorder Magazine

Moving onto its fourth event, fine. has pulled in a full crowd each night, with transfixed listeners leaning in from floor seats, couch corners, and clustered chairs, slunk back among friends and plenty of beer. Nowicki explains, “It’s a good atmosphere. It’s cozy. In terms of a storytelling event, it’s a comfortable space, [and it’s] where my friends and I go hang out regularly, so it’s familiar.”

Despite the Lido’s centrality and treasured appeal, fine.’s popularity transcends familiarity by breaking unique ground. “I think the reason why it tends to be popular is that there are people from all different realms,” Nowicki concedes, “comedy people, people coming to see the stand up acts, the writers, the bands that play … That’s what helps with having a diverse group of performers: they’re gonna invite their friends, their friends are gonna invite their friends.”

Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine

Beyond the charm of fine.’s always-eclectic lineup, it’s Nowicki’s allowance for spontaneity that imbues the show with palpable authenticity and ease; there’s never a sense of urgency, nothing formulaic or prescribed. At fine.’s January event, Nowicki and writer Ben Stephenson both shared stories which pivoted thematically on the taboos of gay skate culture. When asked whether it was by design or sheer coincidence, Nowicki recounts that the correspondence was totally unplanned, explaining that the two pieces just “dovetailed into each other.” He insists, “One of the things I really like about doing a show, is that when I get to do my piece, I’m doing whatever the hell I want, so I like to give everyone on the show the same opportunity … to branch out and try something different.”

Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine

Nowicki kicks off each show with a piece of his own, setting the bar for anything goes. “I had this story … where I found out a couple years ago that my dad’s cousin is a New York Times best-selling romance novelist.” At my confusion, Nowicki clarifies, “She writes erotic novels. [She’s] sold like, millions of books … I was inspired, because I wasn’t really getting anywhere with my personal writing, so I thought, ‘I’m gonna try to get into the erotic novel realm, and I wanna write what I know, and what I know is skateboarding,’ so I read a piece of skateboard erotica.”

Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Illustration by Roz Maclean for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Illustration by Roz Maclean for Discorder Magazine

While charming and casual in his role as host, Nowicki is nonetheless staunchly committed to cultivating a sense of community: “I have a bit of a particular vision, but storytelling is pretty universal in its appeal. People like to share in others’ shared experiences, people like to laugh. And I’m pretty happy that people are coming to the show … and enjoying it.” fine., it would seem, is on its way to big things: “I bought a standing lamp, so it’s not gonna be that weird stacked light anymore. Three shows in proper lamp. Yeah, we’re getting legit,” he laughs.

Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine

When he’s not skating, writing, or picking out light fixtures, Nowicki dips his toes in other creative realms, like designing an illustrated short story project, Portraits of Brief Encounters, and working on short story submissions. Reminiscing on his first brushes with the Canadian literary community, Nowicki shares, “I would write poems and submit them to little journals that I’d find online, magazines I would get in the mail. I was probably 17 or 18 when I first got published … I had to get rejected [a lot, but] I’ve been skateboarding since I was 11 or 10, so I’m used to not getting things very quickly. You know, you fall down and eat shit, and then just keep trying until you get it.”

Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine
Fine. || Photography by Philip Moussavi for Discorder Magazine

Looking forward to fine.’s next events, Nowicki raves that “everyone has killed it so far. I’m just grateful that most of the people who’ve been on the show and performed do not know me. I just out of the blue ask them to take a chance and be on the show, and they do, and I appreciate that. I’m grateful to be able to do something that I wanna do, and that other people seem into it.”

 

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fine.’s next installment takes place April 24 at The Lido, and won’t be one to miss. For more information, visit afineshow.com or follow @afineshow on Instagram.

Gone Til November_Olivia_Diliberto_ForDiscorder_Month2016

Boredom and frustration: two emotions both Lil Wayne and the reader experience during the course of Gone ‘Till November. Written during his 2010 prison sentence on the infamous Rikers Island (New York City’s main prison complex), this Lil Wayne memoir aims to detail the pains of incarceration. Chapters like “Still Trying to Believe That It’s Real” and “More Frustration” act as a window into the world of an imprisoned Weezy.    

Given Riker’s notoriety as a nasty and abusive place, one would expect a base level of reflection or anger from Lil Wayne. Before reading this memoir, I held in my mind a certain image: Lil Wayne burrowing deep into his soul as he fills with rage over the faulty drug and gun laws that imprisoned him. Hell, I was even up for some loveable jailhouse drama à la Orange is the New Black.

But unfortunately, fame destroys any possibility of reflection, friendship or even rage. Incarcerated at the peak of his career, Lil Wayne’s time in prison is dictated by the brightness of his star; a fact driven home by a host of high profile visitors (Diddy, Kanye and Nikki Minaj to name a few). Though Captain attests that Lil Wayne “definitely won’t be getting the celebrity treatment” (4), he is handled with a delicacy and respect afforded to none of the other inmates. On Weezy’s first day, for instance, two female guards are suspended for trying to visit him. Ever the optimist, Wayne remarks, “Maybe there will be some groupie in this bitch, after all” (6). Similarly, the other inmates are eager to please. They ply Wayne with gifts and praise. In a desperate attempt to gain his respect, some inmates even offer up fake back-stories of gangster glory. Even Riker’s top brass are swayed by Wayne’s fame and wealth. When ants invade his cell, Wayne complains to the Captain and is given a new one (75). And in moments of conflict, when Wayne finds himself in a yelling argument on the yard, the offending party is simply transferred to another prison. Weezy is never made to feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. Fame can penetrate any wall.

Gone 'Till November by Lil Wayne || Illustration by Olivia De Liberto for Discorder Magazine
Gone ‘Till November by Lil Wayne || Illustration by Olivia De Liberto for Discorder Magazine

Insulated from true torment, Lil Wayne is left only with boredom. Days begin to lengthen. Whole pages are filled with descriptions of movies. “We watched Shutter Island,” Wayne comments, “It was cool!” (75). His only qualms arise when someone is watching Tyler Perry or if it’s raining outside and he is stuck indoors. “I can’t even see the laziest motherfucka on the planet liking jail” (81), Wayne bemoans. He is far from content, but still okay. The only time he seems beaten and dejected is in a seven-word chapter entitled “Bad Day,” in which he states on page 83: “No writing, prayer, bible, sleep. Another one.” For a mere moment, things seem to have taken an interesting turn. What has devastated Weezy? Is it another inmate? Maybe a fight? Or perhaps a degrading trip to the prison psychologist? But no, the source of his misery comes from outside the prison walls. As Wayne writes in the following chapter, “I’m used to arguing with my girl on a daily basis… but finding out that she fucked Drake was the absolute worst” (85).

Wayne, however, is still desperate to take a lesson away from his months in monotonous purgatory. This urge to reflect probably arises from feelings of guilt. How can he possibly leave his adoring fans feeling so unfulfilled after reading his memoir? So, just as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his novel A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich attempts to describe the perseverance of the human soul in a Stalinist Gulag, Lil Wayne looks towards the inspiring: “I’ve always thought I needed things like being high with my niggas, a buggati [sic], a dope-ass crib or some big booty bitches to be creative. But once that was taken away from me, my creativity was put to the ultimate test […] and I passed like a mothafucka” (157).