fear & loathing in Lotusland

Category: Found & Lost

The Enduring Hustle

by Zbigniew

“Bob Fosse’s Vancouver is a distant suburb of Los Angeles, on the periphery of wealth and fame; a grey and gritty expanse of working class neighbourhoods, strip joints, and fast food outlets.”

Elvy Del Bianco, “Star 80”, World Film Locations: Vancouver


The closure of the Dairy Queen at 2109 East Hastings Street represents no aesthetic loss: the pseudo-milk/sugar product dispensary franchise’s primary features include an interior colour scheme last updated in 1976 and a pervasive stench of rancid oil and low-wage desperation.

Innocuous and quotidian but infamous.

Working a shift at said DQ in the late 1970s, a very young Dorothy Stratten (nee Hoogstraten) is discovered, or targeted, by local hustler/pimp/sleaze/business type Paul Snider.

The encounter is depicted in Bob Fosse’s mostly true-to-life Star 80, filmed at the same location with Mariel Hemmingway and a greasy-perfect Eric Roberts:

Stratten quickly moves from Playboy centerfold, to B-movie maven to aspiring serious actress, but it doesn’t end well. Sratten’s “wholesome, fresh, young and naïve” rising star is utterly destroyed by Snider’s emotionally stunted, cash-and-status-hungry monomania. A loser relegated to the sidelines, he kills her and himself, interfering with her body in the interval.

Star 80 is presented non-linearly, flipping back and forth in time and space, between the Los Angeles fleshpot spectacle and a soggy Vancouver backwater of scumbags. These transitions make for some strange juxtapositions. In particular: a dissolve that takes the story back from the aftermath of Stratten’s murder in LA superimposes Snider’s bloodied face on the Vancouver skyline.

That’s all in the past. The sleazy hustle is upscale. Paul Snider’s ilk have moved on to bigger stakes and ditched the Trans Am for something German, while the humble franchise yields to “secure market rental.”

Paul Snider

Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity

by Zbigniew

Promotional Verse

by Zbigniew

Vancouver: A Pacific Celebration

Source: BC History Channel


And that’s
probably the key
to appreciating Vancouver
that intangible element of change
in season
in elevation
in style of architecture
in people and
their pursuits and
work and seeking

Life is very full
in this city a unique
of outdoor freedom and
naturalness with
civilized sophistication
a seaport
and crossroads of the Pacific Rim

a city with its own
distinct identify and its own
sense of being Vancouver
where you will enjoy
year round
a Pacific Celebration

Elect Barrett

by Zbigniew

Elect Barrett

“The Agricultural Land Reserve, ICBC, the most progressive labour code in North America, the best consumer protection legislation in Canada, the most far-reaching human rights code anywhere, with full-time human rights officers, rent controls, a Rentalsman, Mincome, Pharmacare, raising the minimum wage by 67 per cent, neighbourhood pubs, provincial ambulance service, the Islands Trust, independent boards of review for WCB appeals, Robson Square, preserving Cypress Bowl, B.C. Day, removing the sales tax from books, community health centres, B.C. Cancer Control Agency, buying Shaughnessy Hospital which became B.C. Children’s Hospital, the SeaBus, banning the strap, scrapping a proposed coal port at Squamish, the Royal Hudson and Princess Marguerite, saving Victoria Harbour from development, the B.C. Energy Commission, purchase of Columbia Cellulose and Ocean Falls pulp mills, providing full bargaining rights to provincial government employees, an end to pay toilets, to the relief of all, and on and on.

“The Dave Barrett government (1972-1975), RIP.”

“The last of Barrett’s electioneers: B.C.’s nasty 1975 campaign,” Rod Mickleburgh,, January 4, 2016

Disaster Island

by Zbigniew

Mystery of Disaster Island cover

“This was not his room. He was not in the house in Winnipeg where he lived all his life. He was in some strange place on the British Columbia coast – and even before he saw the place, before he found out anything about it, he knew he didn’t want to be there.”

Mystery of Disaster Island, Ann Rivkin

Good Luck City

by Zbigniew

From National Geographic, “Vancouver – Good Luck City,” April 1992:

Good Luck City 1

Good Luck City 2


by Zbigniew


“The World Soundscape Project (WSP) was established as an educational and research group by R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It grew out of Schafer’s initial attempt to draw attention to the sonic environment through a course in noise pollution, as well as from his personal distaste for the more raucous aspects of Vancouver’s rapidly changing soundscape.

“The project initiated the modern study of Acoustic Ecology. Its ultimate goal is ‘to find solutions for an ecologically balanced soundscape where the relationship between the human community and its sonic environment is in harmony.'”

The World Soundscape Project


Excerpt from “harsh noise” performer The Rita’s response to Pietro Sammarco’s Vancouver Noise & the Harmoniously Productive City, December 9th, 2015:

Klap pee tsolo, Chinook Wawa

by Zbigniew

“Why is some of the Pacific Slope’s tenderest 19th century love poetry hidden away in Chinook songs[?]”

Charles Lillard, in Terry Glavin’s A Voice Great Within Us


Cultus kopa nika.

Cultus kopa nika. Nika switat.

Ah, nika switat, pee kahta mika klatawa kopa town.

Cultus kopa nika.


Chinook Jargon - Hibben

Nothing Unique

by Zbigniew

Directory of Member Businesses

In MacLeod’s I came across a “Visitor’s Guide to Metropolitan Vancouver, B.C.” There’s no publication date, but I figure the early 1960s, given a photo of the B.C. Hydro Building and -sandwiched between aderts for the Hawaiian lanai style accommodation of the Delport Inn and Yeoman’s, “The Oriental Store”- a business directory employing the “2L-5N” telephone exchange regime. Need a taxi? Call B.C. Radio Cabs Ltd. at MUtual3-6666.

This brought back memories of playing with my father’s telephone index, with its endlessly fascinating Star Trek-like movable tab, spring loaded cover, and curious contents: CY9-9030, TR2-9600 etc. Misdialing the code linked to my uncle, a recorded baritone highlighted my error on behalf of the “Alpine” exchange.

Each exchange took its name from the first two letters corresponding to a number on a telephone dial. Each exchange served a specific geographic area. I grew up in HEmlock, a wilderness compared to the action over in ALpine. REgent was another world altogether.


CYpress, LAkeview, and WOodland suggest something of the local ecology, but who were WEstmore, WAverly and WEbster? Local personages lost in the sands of time? CPR or BC Tel mandarins. Heroes? Villains?

Neither: in the mid-1950s AT&T produced a recommended list of exchange names for both U.S. and Canadian systems, carefully designed to avoid misunderstandings when voiced. All of Vancouver’s old exchanges, replaced by a seven digit system by the mid-1960s, adhere to the AT&T list. Nothing unique here.

Never Say Never

by Zbigniew

Beneath the colonial motion picture economy, there’s another narrative, sub rosa, virtually invisible, revealing itself only in glimpses. What characters and conflicts populate that world, I wonder?


Vancouver Sometimes Plays Itself: Vancouver as Vancouver on screen,” Craig Tekuchi, Georgia Straight, April 8th, 2011