An intimate night in the world of Red

girl in red was impressive from the moment she got settled on stage

The first time I experienced Marie Ulven – who goes by the artist name ‘girl in red’ – was in the early spring when she played at the Scandinavian showcase festival by:Larm, in Oslo. At her home field show, we were being introduced to a young and fairly confused girl serving us heartbreaking stories with the attitude of Joan Jett and the humour of Will Ferrell. I was excited to see how 2019 had formed the up-and-coming artist, and I must say that at the end of the night I was very pleased by her progress.

Ulven is 20 years old, and produces all of her charming lo-fi pop songs from her room. Her bedroom-pop reaches out to all of the misfits of the competitive generation Z, and tells us it’s okay to be more into girls than boys or vice versa, and that you are allowed to feel down or depressed, even though the sun is shining outside.

Thursday evening, Le Ministère on St-Laurent St. was completely packed with young fans with sparkling eyes and lots of excitement. As girl in red entered the stage, the crowd exploded in high pitched cries and shrieks from the female-dominated crowd.

The show opened with the latest released single “bad idea.” Even though people were ecstatic by her appearance, it was a bit of a wobbly start for Ulven and the band – an unbalanced sound level made it almost impossible to hear the detail-oriented production, especially because of the dominating lead vocals volume being way too high.

You could tell that Ulven was affected by the technical bothers, stuttering through the introduction. She told us she had a sore throat and couldn’t hear anything through her in-ear monitors. A lot of warning signs made it a bit hard for me to believe that she would be able to deliver as convincing of a performance as she had the first time I saw her.

Luckily, I was wrong.

Even though Ulven didn’t seem to be catching either her breath or foothold until the fourth song of the gig, “summer depression,” the crowd was positive and uplifting. Ulven and the band were finally past the sound difficulties, and they could finally open their eyes towards the big and warm Quebecois welcome that was facing them. This included both pick up-lines from the girls in the front rows, and a beautifully handmade fan art portrait.

Last but not least, the whole crowd singing “O Canada” at the top of their voices when Ulven complimented them for speaking French, which according to her is “the most sexy language ever.”

The national anthem really reached both Ulven and the audience, and hearts were being stolen from both sides of the stage.

The show reached new heights when “forget her” was flowing out of the speakers. Ulven was finally ready for takeoff.

We were already halfway through the show, but Ulven was relaxed and actually present with the packed venue. A lot of chit-chatting with the front row and storytelling came between absolutely banging and impressive versions of “we fell in love in october,” “watch you sleep,” and “girls.”

Finally, we got to see Ulven in her element. She demonstrated the perfect balance between being an absolute performer on stage, with her long hair surrounding her like a blond tornado, and a charming conferencier in the breaks, with blushed cheeks caused by the compliments and cheering from the “woo girl” crowd.

The show ended with a singalong of “say anything,” closed by the debut single “i wanna be your girlfriend,” when the band was playing in all their glory. All in all, girl in red was just as adorable and vulnerable as I remembered her; but this time, she was a little more hyped, although cold-infected, and professional. It took her a while to reach people’s hearts, but as she got comfortable and warmed up, she had all of us under her thumb.


Photo by Jonathan Vivaas Kise


So what’s up, docs?

A scene from Håvard Bustnes’ Health Factory.

The 1980s may be remembered for Madonna, Tom Petty and Phil Collins—or are those the the Superbowl halftime shows of the past decade?—but it was also a turning point for the perception of government in both the United States and Britain. As the great (sarcasm) Ronald Reagan said, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
This ushered in a new paradigm of absolute and obsequious commitment to the market. America was built on competition, it was said, and its improvement was dependent on unfettered capitalism.
The market is a brilliant tool and an important facet of good democracies. But the overzealous commitment to wholesale privatization is deeply flawed. Competition amongst retailers and car makers forces innovation because these industries are based on consumer desires, and providing excellent products is a powerful incentive. These tenets are absent in other fields, the most obvious of which is health care, an industry based on need and trust.
The idea that government-run health care is a bloated bureaucratic mess comes from this era (which also brought us shoulder pads, big hair and Sixteen Candles), and it was the decade in which Britain and Norway partially privatized their health care systems, exemplified by Margaret Thatcher’s famous “hospital of my own choosing” speech.
Håvard Bustnes’ Health Factory documents the effects of this pseudo-privatization,where government funds create a faux market. In Norway, the state pays hospitals by the procedure; birthing a baby, for example, nets a Norwegian hospital 18,000 kroner. But should a slow-paced birth require a vacuum, the hospital pockets an additional 10,000 kroner. Needless to say, the threshold between “normal” and “requiring expedition” starts to wane fairly fast.
According to nurses in Norway, hospitals go as far as to chastise employees for an abundance of “normal births” in a given month.
A prominent Norwegian doctor sums up this state of affairs deftly: paying by the procedure incentivizes quantifiable items, shifting focus away from improving health. A hospital would rather treat 10 easy patients as opposed to five difficult ones, since the former has a better ratio of time to value. It also discourages the human side of health care. What value is there in holding someone’s hand who is in deep crisis, he asks, and how long do you hold on before it becomes unprofitable?
The obvious ethical issue of ranking patients by profitability aside, a hospital market isn’t feasible because healthy markets require informed consumers. Consumers chose VHS over Betamax because they could easily deduce the former’s cost-benefit superiority. This choice eventually drove Betamax out of existence (to the dismay of many picture-quality purists). But making this kind of decision about your health care provider requires knowledge of a much more esoteric nature. And, as is argued in the film, consumers don’t necessarily want choice when it comes to which hospital to go to; they just want good care. Competition, it seems, is not the golden goose the Iron Lady made it out to be.
Obviously, public health care has its own major flaws; Canadians know this well. The Big Wait addresses one of these: the inability of international medical graduates to practice medicine in Canada. IMGs, be they from Kenya or Serbia or India, arrive in Canada hoping to benefit from the country’s need for doctors. Owing to their degree and, for most, their experience, they can skip medical school but must pass the same licensing exams as new Canadian graduates. Then they must go through our residency program before becoming certified doctors, but this step represents a major bottleneck. All Canadian medical school graduates are guaranteed a residency; IMGs must fight for a handful of these positions. If they don’t snag one, they must wait an entire year before reapplying. Many languish in stopgap jobs for years before finally setting foot inside a Canadian hospital.
This logjam is driving many of these would-be doctors southwards, because the American private system is better equipped to offer a wealth of residency positions. For communities like Midland, Ont., where family doctors are rare and the walk-in clinic recently closed, the idea that trained doctors are being turned away is justly frustrating. Wait times are a national problem and more doctors are needed. Turning away potential fast-track doctors seems ludicrous.
The question, however, is whose warts are worse? Is inefficiency a worthy price to pay for a system incapable of prioritizing anything but need? Or is expediency something to covet above the risk of monetizing patients, which in itself may not be endemic to privatization?After these two films, you can at least say you’re informed enough to make an intelligent decision and, hopefully, have a healthy discussion. Just don’t pay by the word.

Health Factory and The Big Wait are showing on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in H-110. Visit for more details.

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