fear & loathing in Lotusland

Month: October, 2012

The Eyes Have It

by Zbigniew

“The preliminary map that we created, based on the data that we collected …. It indicates the places where surveillance cameras could be found prior to the installation of extra cameras for the Olympics. [Emphasis added]

“In all, the map represents the locations of 1500 of the 2000 cameras we found; the remaining 500 have been difficult to assign geographic coordinates to based on their addresses and must be done manually.”

Vancouver Public Space Network


The Artificial Snows of Mt. Olympus

by Zbigniew

Richmond City Council has approved the Richmond Olympic Experience at the Richmond Oval. The $6 million project “will showcase the legacy of the city’s role during the 2010 Games, including the many incredible sights and sounds when the Olympics came to town.”

We humbly propose the inclusion of a Wipeout-style amusement ride to provide patrons with a distilled and unforgettable evocation of 2010.

After paying your $150 entrance fee and clearing a security perimeter patrolled by a phalanx of VPD, RCMP and private security officials, you are strapped into a zipline, while the unmistakable sound of a mindlessly cheering crowd grows in volume. A replica of the Olympic Clock counts down the seconds … ready … go!

A spring loaded hypodermic needle sticks you full of performance enhancing drugs while a powerful vacuum sucks away your wallet and/or purse and loose change.

The line releases and you are whisked past a diorama of the Vancouver skyline comprised of condominium towers and construction cranes.

The zipline brakes and you are dropped onto a high speed revolving platform surrounded by television screens blasting a hyper-kinetic montage of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s ads interspersed with text reading “Best Place on Earth.”

The spinning platform suddenly tilts, throwing you into a chute. As the grade increases, you pick up speed until coming to an abrupt stop against a column -padded for your safety, of course.

Just as you regain your senses, you are buried under a pile of artificial snow.

Digging your way out, you are helped to your feet by a life-sized Quatchi, who -along with his plush, rictus-smiling flunkies- pummel you mercilessly with their red-mitted fists. They beat you in the direction of a long corridor featuring  Olympic champion product endorsements. This leads to the gift shop.

As you stumble towards the exit, Gordon Campbell gives you a high-five and a brochure for the Olympic Village complex, which includes a bill for $494 million. John Furlong plants a sharp kick to your ass, knocking through the exit proper and into a pit full of dead canines.

You scramble out and find yourself by the side of a brand new highway and try to thumb a ride.

Did I miss something?

The Mother Corpse

by Zbigniew

It’s best to avoid the consumer lifestyle audio magazine disaster that is CBC Vancouver’s The Early Edition, unless of course you’re a mini-van driving, hockey jersey sporting suburbanite mortgaged to the eyeballs and enjoy mindless blather to serenade your drive-thru pick-up of a complicated latte on your way to acquiring a 50-inch plasma screen from the mall and think that guy from the Fraser Institute has a point.

The National Broadcaster blessed Toronto’s morning program with Matt Galloway. We got armchair sports aficionado Rick Cluff, who can only be roused from his near catatonia, although not his chair, by the presence of foodstuffs or some random factoid concerning the Lions.

One of the many social ills that plague this burg might actually get an airing, but no perspective is too conventional for Cluff, no question too soft. No issue so important that it can’t be interrupted and truncated by -yet another- traffic update, or drowned in a sea of corn pone: “MOOsic to their ears: happy cows make more milk and we’ll tell you about an UDDERly intriguing contest.” (Sic)

And there’s the laughtrack, the light-tone forced cackle that concludes this dawn miasma:

Cluff: “Well, I went out for dinner last night … “

Flunkies: “Hahahahahahahhahahahahahahah!” etc

Square The Early Edition may be, but it’s also the most popular morning programme in the Lower Mainland. The squares can have it: De gustibus non est disputandum.

Understandably, the power structures that dominate city hall may be beyond the grasp of reporters better suited to chasing fire trucks and hosts that prefer detailed recitations of hockey statistics; nonetheless, the Mother Corp’s Pacific flagship programme is criminally lazy, negligent in the extreme in its duties of informing the citizenry.

For reasons too unnecessary to explain, this week your humble blogger found himself listening –enduring- Cluff and co. for the better part of an hour. In that time each of the five or six traffic reports took note of a public demonstration at 12th & Clark -newsworthy only for its impact on the morning commute, pertinent only to those planning their route from a mini-van, idling by a Starbucks, in the sticks.

Right in the Jewels

by Zbigniew


“We believe that all worthy investments encourage hope for a brighter future, yet only the Crown Jewels make dreams come true. Our mission is to offer precious investment opportunities to realize the incomparable value strived from our unique projects.”

Seen in Passing: Bridgeway & North Skeena

by Zbigniew


Playground City

by Zbigniew

Refuge: Dumbstruck

by Zbigniew

Rain & Other Inevitabilities

by Zbigniew

“Vancouver is the Canadian city with the best climate and the worst weather.”

Allan Fotheringham


The driest September in 116 years led to a Fall marked by unusual sights: fire warnings poised at “Extreme”, tomatoes still on the vine, douchebags still on the beach.

Summer lingered, then lingered some more, disturbing the psychic balance, feeding collective delusions of grandeur and banal urban playground economics. Greenest City? The sunlight reflected off still vibrant deciduous trees and the warm, marijuana-scented autumnal air argue strongly in favour. Summer turned endless and reality took on the appearance of a glossy postcard.

But the rain forest will have its reign. Trees roots are burrowing down and drinking deep. Streets are being washed clean of hydrocarbons and hubris.

Our constructs are buckling under the weight of all that water. Lakes are forming on roads and roofs and the integrity of pressboard is being called into question. Buildings are collapsing, the victims of decay -or soggy wills and leaky imaginations.

Keeping time with the pooling rain, other inventories are accumulating, threatening overflow, seeking the lowest point.

And they will find their way.

The Streams-that-used-to-be

by Zbigniew

Vancouver’s Old Streams


More than 120 kilometres of streams once flowed across Vancouver. Something like 50 mouths emptied into the sea or the Fraser, supporting runs of coho, chum and pink salmon, and rainbow, cutthroat and steelhead trout. “Even after European settlement, two or three dozens salmon could often be seen in a pool at Third and Burrard, working their way up [the] creek … when that branch became a ditch beside Third Avenue, salmon still congregated under the electric street lamps.”

In the 1920s stream beds were used as garbage dumps until they were culverted and incorporated into the growing sewer system. Swampy headwaters disappeared under parks and golf courses, streets and homes, their contemporary locations reflected in off-kilter fences, lumpy roadways and the Parks Board budget line items dedicated to filling slumps in soccer fields.

A few post-colonial creek names survive: Brewery, China, Macdonald; fewer still can be heard under select manhole covers or glimpsed in Renfrew Ravine or Tatlow Park.

Almost lost amongst the golf courses, residential developments and roadways is the last salmon stream, Musqueam Creek. Once 300 coho were thought to return here annually; as the city grew these dwindled to less than ten.

Four thousand years of Musqueam stewardship lives on via the Musqueam Ecosystem Conservation Society. Now the salmon count reaches up to 50, depending on the distinctly urban challenges posed in any one year: garbage, broken water main induced mud slides, and lifestyle.

In late September a contractor drained a Southlands swimming pool into a storm drain that in turn empties into the Creek. The chlorinated water killed -bleached- more than 1,000 fish, including a precious three spawning coho.


Of an early morning with the forest of concrete and glass shrouded in fog, I was drawn by the sound of rushing water.

Nature had given way to “nature”, a sanctioned amenity, one of the ubiquitous artifacts of congealed sand and stone aggregate shaped to evoke impressions of stream, ravine and estuary. But even as a simulacrum it lacks. Grievously misaligned, oblivious of the stream that once flowed nearby, through what is now David Lam Park, to empty into False Creek.

I close my eyes to shut out the distorted geography, but it’s still all wrong. It sounds too fast -far too smooth and efficient- like a sewer.

And then there’s the smell. Not the stink of waste but its inverse, the mask, the hallmark of urban hydrological sterility -chlorine.

Seen in Passing: Welwyn & Kingsway

by Zbigniew