scamcouver

fear & loathing in Lotusland

Month: April, 2015

The Water Cure

by Zbigniew

Reeling from the psychic pummeling, the intricate combination  of frenzied speculation, corruption and dull gray skies, and I’m gone –for a brief interval, anyway.

Usually my escape route takes me to supposedly more sophisticated places of ancient/old/new structures and polished fine-grained customs. But when it comes, the call of the tropics –the simple pleasures of clear skies, turquoise waters, and fancy drinks garnished with little paper parasols- will not be denied.

I quickly devolve (evolve?) into some kind of a sea creature, sprouting flippers, employing the dolphin kick to swim for hours in rocky bays in search of exotic species, venturing into the crystal clear depths to brush the humbling immensity of the Pacific. Floating on my back in the shallows, bobbing with the little waves, I find a sea turtle on my immediate right doing the same. Is she also contemplating her good fortune?

The day’s rhythms carry me: up early, with the sun, hiking over lava beds in search of beaches with sand the colour and feel of talc or coffee grounds, to evenings of nothing more demanding than watching the ocean swallow the sun.

And with nightfall I slip into a happy exhaustion. Gently rocked by the physical memory of waves, an entourage of Achilles Tang, Moorish Idols and a dainty little puffer fish of white polka dots on cobalt escort me to a watery dreamland.

Black Sand Beach

*

The local water cure is both less exotic and pleasant an experience: bracing, particularly to the privates, with such poor visibility that it’s vast biology remains mostly hidden -to the casual observer, anyway.

Still, on a hot summer day -where the forest meets the sea- a commune is altogether possible and desireable.

Third Beach is my preferred locale to make the transition. Well, it was when I left.

english-bay-oil-spillcbc.ca

Water Safety Notice

 

All Bodies Welcome

by Zbigniew

DSCN1791

Recently, I came across an image of the Astoria Hotel -a little bit of local-referenced colour to brighten-up a shoebox condo or a dimly lit basement suite, maybe.

In the boom preceding the First World War, hotels sprang up around the city’s core at Main & Hastings. Many primarily catered to itinerant labour, those taking leave from logging, fishing, mining and the merchant marine, as well local stevedores.

By the late 1970s, as the consumer and entertainment focus of the city shifted to Georgia and Granville, many of the hotels came to serve as modest, and decrepit, long-term residences.

While many have been destroyed over time, a 1971 provincial government heritage designation for Chinatown and Gastown spared others, and under the auspices of the British Columbia’s 2012 Habitat Housing Initiative 13 provincially owned Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels are undergoing rehabilitation. Of course, the current building boom is putting pressure of those hotels that remain and lie outside of these schemes.

The Astoria Hotel is one that appears to have slipped through the cracks. Perhaps as a result of its interstitial location at the edge of the DTES at Hastings & Hawks, the Astoria –constructed in 1910, and so far neither rezoned nor scheduled for revitalization- carries on.

Keith “The Laughing Hand” McKellar’s description of the current iteration of the Astoria could have been written any time over the last 40 years: “a slumlord syndicate tenement, infamous for an ongoing record of lodger bullying, dilapidated rooms and plumbing, maintenance bylaw violations, infestations of rodents, cockroaches and bedbugs. Reputed to be a shill for drug-dealing, welfare fraud, and fencing of stolen goods.”

Aside from these charming qualities, the Astoria is primarily known for its basement boxing club, which has been in place in one form or another almost continuously since the mid-1960s.

Less well known is its role connection to serial killer Robert William “Willie” Pickton. According to Stevie Cameron’s On the Farm, in the 1980s and ‘90s the Astoria was Pickton’s preferred haunt. “He almost always parked his truck or his motorhome in front of the Astoria and would amble in to buy drinks for the girls that flocked to his side. Often he’d pick one to take home.”

Willie Pickton was charged in the deaths of 26 women, but is believed to have murdered 49, many from the Downtown Eastside. In 2007 Pickton was convicted of the second-degree murders of of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey and Brenda Wolfe. The remaining charges were stayed.

In recent years changes have come to the Astoria. It’s substantial neon sign was restored in early 2009, and its parking lot has been converted by the Sole Food social enterprise into an urban farm.

And in the bar where Pickton sought victims, there are DJs and live music. There’s also a “Rent Cheque” night: “all bodies welcome.”

Rent Cheque

 

Exhibit ‘B’

by Zbigniew

Scat Jagermeister

Sunrise Gentrification Check

by Zbigniew

Curbed LA offers a helpful quiz to assess the relative gentrification of one’s neighbourhood. With a few additions and modifications, a checklist reflect local characteristics of The Boom.

The maximum score is 150, broken down thusly:

0 to 30: “Functionally dull”

31 to 60: “On the map”

61 to 90: “Tilt”

91 to 120: “Condos marketed in Guangzhou”

121 to 150: “No one actually lives there”

Now, to apply the list to Hastings-Sunrise -officially demarcated by Nanaimo to Boundary and Burrard Inlet to Broadway. The resulting score will serve as baseline for future progress (sic?) reports.

Item

Value

Score
Brunch spot acclaimed for its toast

8

0

Ballet-barre-focused workout place

4

0

Proliferation of backyard chicken coops

1

1

Highly specific record store with weird hours

2

0

Flipped houses with twin-peaked roof & external mood lighting

5

5

Inexplicable “general store”

11

0

Hipster “scat” (eg. discarded receptacles of PBR, Jagermeister etc)

2

2

Children’s clothing or toy store featuring hypoallergenic bamboo products

7

0

All-natural pet supply shop

3

0

Church converted to club/bar/hotel

8

0

Bar that takes 15 minutes to make a drink

4

0

Lost cat flyers clearly made by art students

3

0

Whole Foods, Urban Fare or Nesters

6

0

Specialty grocery store

10

10

Craft beer bar (3); if it has its own brewery inside, add 5

8

0

Coffee shop selling 12 oz of beans for $16 (8); if it roasts its own beans, add 4

12

0

Fancy developing world cuisine restaurant

7

0

Plans for a “high line style park”

5

0

Café with no-laptop/WiFi times

9

0

Store that sells olde-timey products for men

12

0

Neighbourhood re-branding

13

13

Think piece in a national print magazine

10

0

TOTALS

150

31

Let the record show that on Easter Sunday, April 4th, 2105, Hastings-Sunrise is officially, if unscientifically “on the map.”

Bike Culture

by Zbigniew

Vancouver Cycling Map

Evidence that Vancouver’s bike culture is taking hold abounds. Witness:

The general public

Vancouver Cycling, via 24HrsVancouver 24Hrs

The bike-friendly café

Tandem Bike CafeVancityBuzz

The transportation of goods

ShiftVancouver 24Hrs

Law enforcement

RCMP Bike SquadNorth Shore News

The criminal element

The real estate agent

Cycling Real Estate

The political element

Gregor CyclingThe Globe & Mail

 

Seen in Passing: Main & Terminal

by Zbigniew

Dick Goof

Suck your own dick, goof?

Suck your own, Dick Goof?

Suck your own “dick goof”?