scamcouver

fear & loathing in Lotusland

Category: Scammers

Horseshit

by Zbigniew

In case it’s not already evident from these ramblings, I have a certain pessimistic disposition that rejects hullaballoo, whether its source is real estate agents, politicians, in-laws, or spectacle.

Cavalia produces spectacles. The brain-child of Normand Latourelle, a co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia mixes equestrian and acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts, live music, multimedia and special effects to realize “an equestrian ballet” that explores “the fundamental relationship that humans have developed with horses throughout time, a precious bond that enabled us as humans to build bridges between cultures” -discounting of course the Mongol horde, Cossack pogroms, US Cavalry-led genocides etc etc etc. Like I said: pessimistic.

For no good reason that I can discern, complimentary tickets to the opening night Cavalia’s production of Odysseo arrive in my in-box. Instinctively, I move to delete, hesitate, and succumb to a morbid curiousity. I offer the missus the gift of spectacle, and we have a date.

vancouver-b-c-january-16-2017-big-day-to-celebrate-asMark Manen/PNG

It’s hard to miss the venue. The show -billed as “the world’s largest touring production”- is housed in an enormous tent, itself part of a complex that includes smaller tents, trailers, a corral, gas generators, floodlights, and a harras of late model white automobiles. The compound takes up a good portion of the former city works yard –somehow undeveloped- between the Olympic Village and the Cambie Street Bridge.

As you would expect of such an event, it’s heavily branded and the branding is heavily Pattison: Save-on-Foods has top billing, along with Pattison Group subsidiaries Everything Wine, Sun-Rype etc. And, to mix things up, The Keg.

There’s a concourse, of course, featuring Everything Wine, Sun-Rype etc, windbreakers emblazoned with “Odysseo,” plush horse dolls and glossy $15 programs. Taped to my seat is an envelope stuffed with coupons for things I don’t understand.

I recognize a few people: artists. The lights dim.

This is opening night –there are speeches. In contrast to all the commerce, M. Latourelle pauses in the proceedings. He calls attention to the internationality of the cast, their diverse origins and religious practices. He addresses the violence at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. His speech is punctuated by at intervals by what sounds to me a cautious applause. Something like that.

Down to business: this production marks an unprecedented return engagement for Cavalia. Latourelle thanks the Vancouver audience and his local partners by relaying a long and not very interesting story of the business that closed the deal.

Out comes Jimmy Pattison. “Expo” Jimmy doesn’t look a day over 110 in his expensive Diefenbakeresque suit. Jimmy’s quick, and hands off to Darrell Whatisname, the beefy guy from the Save-on-Food commercials. He gets the biggest applause so far, so they’ve papered the house with more than artists. Reading from cue cards Darrel makes his way through his speech like an ox in Aisle 3.

Not yet the horses.

Because it’s election season Peter “the public school system can go fuck itself” Fassbender gets a kick at the can, too. He brings greetings from the Premier (Am I hearing groans?) He rambles on about the contribution the arts make to the economy, and all the jobs that Cavalia brings and whatever.

The horses.

They are beautiful creatures. Their handlers are attractive and talented, energetic and calm. The equine and human acrobatics are impressive, the projected images phantasmagoric, and the whole thing entirely pointless and repetitive. With so much galloping, trailing banners and shouting, I imagine myself watching a dress rehearsal for a Game of Thrones season finale.

By the time the interval comes I’m thinking about Fassbender but not just Fassbender. Peter alongside Jimmy and Normand, a confluence of oligarchs, of control, capital and spectacle; an unprecedented return engagement, in an undeveloped Vancouver lot just an aquabus ride away from the new casino.

I need air.

On my way out, past the stage, I witness one of those new creative jobs in action: shoveling horseshit.

The Squids Among Us

by Zbigniew

“The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone


 

Goldman Sachs’ kind walk among us. They’re definitely smaller, a little less conspicuous, but every bit as bloodthirsty. The Beedie sub-species are on display at the 105 Keefer rezoning application open house at the Chinese Cultural Centre. They’re here to observe and spin, in the face of community opposition, a positive impression of the latest iteration of their Chinatown condominium project.

Of course they’re playing the game, making revisions, changing designs. They’re all too willing to shave off a floor, reduce the number of social housing units, and plop some art, somewhere.

But it’s their forth kick at the can. They’re not here to engage in some kind of public dialogue about the cultural life of Chinatown. This is America: time is money. It’s the square footage they want and they’ll take it anyway they can. This is going to happen, by hook, crook, and campaign donation. Patience is running low. The beast must feed.

The tension level is set by the rent-a-thugs at the front door. Beedie’s security drones are thick of limb, thicker of skull, and dead of eye. I saunter past a lunk watching me with all the sentience of an upended chesterfield. Clearly, I’m too legit. With others they take a more hands-on approach.

I enter on a demonstration already in progress: a phalanx of placarded youth are rallying against. Meanwhile, community organizer Melody Ma is being harassed by the aggressively incoherent marketing subordinate Renu Bakshi.

A few City of Vancouver flunkies decorate the periphery, trying their best to blend into the displays. They’re doing well.

Judging by the architectural drawings, Beedie & co. are definitely not wedded to an idea, a “vision.” The concept, if we can call it that, is an out-of scale lump, sporting a few Chinese characters and staggered setbacks.

105-keefer-version-4

A street-level passage will invite porousness. It’s fun trying to locate it in the renderings.

And there will be retail and restaurants, if not exactly those depicted.

retail-restaurant

I thought myself early, but the intrepid Kevin Harding is already here the better part of an hour. He reports a large crowd of very-unlikely locals filling out comment forms and promptly leaving. Stooges, more like, of the lower company echelon variety.

But senior management, the squids proper, remain. In this crowd of the unfashionably but comfortably attired they stand out like highly polished carbuncles – artisanal warts. It’s mostly white male gym jockeys, in form-fitting suits and Italian shoes. I suspect they have lines of credit to accommodate their obviously intensive grooming regimes.

Perusing the bumf, I wander into earshot of well-articulated concern about the private wealth these projects produce for a few and the negative consequences they bring to many others. Bravo.

In response a little company twerp wannabe – sporting a tight suit, a tighter haircut and a flag pole stuck up his ass – offers, “Well, there’s the Community Amenity Contribution.” I snort so hard that I involuntarily power eject a glob of winter mucus out of my left nostril. Not very classy, I know, but I would argue a fitting contribution, given the circumstances.

I wander over the scale model. This is how they see Chinatown: a bland undifferentiated collection of beige polygons begging the gift of their cynical capital.

beige-polygons

Squids drift into view. They hover over Chinatown like a pair of outsized, well-healed, coldly calculating aliens, contemplating the lifeforce to be sucked dry. And if its blood they need, the empty lot at Keefer and Columbia is a bulging artery, all too exposed to the funnels that are steadily probing.

squids


Epilogue

Outside, beyond the models and the thugs of various description, in the cold, some other ideas.

keefer-park


Postscript

joe-wai

Joe Wai

1940 to 2017


Post-postscript

SaveChinatownYVR

Some Inappropriate Posing

by Zbigniew

An advert offers money to stand in line for a condominium sales offering. Said line-up is reported in the presse faux as evidence of ongoing exuberance in Greater Vancouver’s real estate market, and pretty much ignored by the presse vieux. Apparently, there’s nothing to see here, folks, except maybe a display suite and some floor plans.

Still, I’m curious. Who’s the crowd wrangler? Who is Shannen Carlson?

Appropriately enough, Carlson has a long history of flesh peddling. As the “owner and operator” of Calendar Girl Productions, she oversees such diverse activities as the Whistler Exposed calendar, the Men of Whistler Exposed calendar, and the Bamff Exposed calendar. Fun fact: the inaugural Whistler Exposed calendar won bronze as the Best Wall Glamour Calendar in the 2011 National & World Calendar Awards. “[It’s] like receiving an Academy Award for a calendar,” said Carlson.” It’s a classy calendar; there’s no nudity or inappropriate posing of any sort.”

Marketing one’s goods comes naturally to the native Winnipegger, as evident in her star turn in low budget Cancon feature  Scalpers. That’s Carlson in the trailer, being serviced by the pool boy.  No nudity, but possibly some inappropriate posing -depending on how such things are defined.

Shannon & Ronald

 

 

Spin Cycles

by Zbigniew

Slow

adjective | \’slõ\

  1. naturally inert or sluggish
  2. lacking in readiness, promptness, or willingness
  3. having qualities that hinder rapid progress or action
  4. not acute

Every time Our Illustrious Mayor mentions the federal government, Justin Trudeau, or the province, we slow things down.

 

An Exceptional Shill

by Zbigniew

In a recently received Telus bumf:

an-exceptional-shill

Fair Market Doublespeak

by Zbigniew

MakeAnOffer

“Vancouver app lets renters pitch ‘sealed’ offers,” 24Hours

*

“It connects landlords with tenants in hot, low vacancy markets.”

“What we want to do is give tenants a voice in this market, because it’s a competitive market, they need to stand out. And they really need to be able to … uh … impose what they feel fair market value is.”

“We want to give tenants the ammunition they need to compete in these type of markets.”

“We’re really trying to create an environment that’s fair for tenants –that currently doesn’t exist.”

Jordon Lewis, Co-founder & CEO, Biddwell, on CKNW

*

“Through YVR4Sale’s partnership with Biddwell, our investor clients are able to use this revolutionary tool that connects renters and landlords for fair market value rent. As an investor, you are able to post a listing to Biddwell and potential renters will bid on your property. Set your minimum monthly rental return and voila! Matching begins. Many investors achieve higher rental returns as the demand in Vancouver is high and inventory is low.”

YVR4Sale

 

Idle Pleasure Acting

by Zbigniew

In the early 2000s, when the capital inflow from the People’s Republic was but a trickle, Vancouver served as production hub for number of locally set, Mandarin language soap operas, including Farewell VancouverJade Buddha, Love Memories, and no one cares.

And as the trickle has swollen into the mother of all rivers, the productions have grown larger, too, and moved onto the silver screen.

Curiously, this new round of Mainland-financed content is linked (economically? psychically? harmonically?) to the main focus of all that capital: real estate.

The popularity of Finding Mr. Right -a Vancouver shot, Seattle-set morass of treacly meaninglessness- drove a sharp spike in PRC demand for Seattle property.

In contrast, the real estate connection in Love Lasts 《余温》is built into the narrative.

While yet to be released, the trailer for Love Lasts includes none other than Layla Yang, the local real estate agent that has been accused of uttering threats to a prospective client in connection to property transaction. (Ms. Yang is challenging the mob allegations in in court.) Busy and swanky lifestyle aside, Greater Vancouver’s Top 1% Realtor has enough time and artistic drive to express thespian ambitions. In Love Lasts, Ms. Yang stretches to play a real estate agent in a maudlin tale of long distance love, set over there and over here.

Ms. Yang’s approach to the material is explained in her introduction to the trailer: “My pleasure acting in this movie as an Realtor, who just the person who I am. We will do our best in the movie and the real estate industry. Stay tuned.”

Enjoy.

 

If you’re like me, and prefer your schlockfests best when they go unviewed, here is some dialogue:

“I’m going back to China. That’s the place young people should stay. Here, too many looters, such a place for retirees. I don’t want to rot here.”


“I want to discuss with you about something: I want to get a job.”

“Ah … are you okay, mom? Are we broke?”


Layla Yang, playing a realtor: “I’m telling you, you are lucky to have me. Real estate in Vancouver is really popular … Vancouver is filled with faineant* women, and they are not attractive.”

 

 

 

*faineant

Noun: an idle or ineffective person.

Adjective: idle or ineffective.

 

Sales

by Zbigniew

Real Estate Yard Sale

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hi Team:

I was hoping against hope when my lovely old landlady died, but her kids want to unload the house and cash in big.

Anyways, here’s me with a disposition towards collecting antiquated technology -rotary dial phones, turntables, transistor radios, VHS players and the like- and literary works from James Elroy to a First Folio. To say nothing of all the odds and sods and memories a divorced fella on the bad side of 50 will accumulate situated comfortably in the same locale for dozen years or so.

Anywho! Garage sale! June 4th, that’s perfect –it’ll give me a jump on the end of the month, it being my heave-ho date.

So, how do we close the deal, as it were? And when you say refreshments, what kind of range are we talking about?

Yours,

Zbig

*

Thursday, May 26

Hi Zbig,

Thank you for your email about our garage sale! Its really simple to sign up. I just need your name, phone number and address. From your email I got an idea of what you will be selling and I am sorry for your loss. I will also need to know where on your property that you will be located so we can put up signs to direct people to the right direction. Refreshements will include some coffee, tea, water and we will bring around some doughnuts and possibly muffins as well. I hope this email helps you out a bit more.

Thank you …

*

Friday, May 27

Hello:

Sounds good, although I was hoping for beer!

Would you happen know of any rental opportunities in East Vancouver? Of the affordable sort, I mean. It’s a tight market out there and finding something affordable, livable and secure is proving a tall order, especially with all the property changing hands.

Anyhow, I’m glad you’re organizing a community event, given how much of a beating the community has had, with all the evictions and such.

Regards,

Z.

*

Friday, May 27

Good Morning,

I will keep my eye out for any rental opportunites (sic) that come along and I will pass this onto Wendy as well. Do you own the place that you are in now? It is a challenging task especially in todays (sic) market but I will keep you posted.

Real Estate Yard Sale 2

Sleeping Rough, with Marmalade Notes

by Zbigniew

Okanagan RV

Unknown RV

Chinook RV

It’s difficult to say exactly how many people are being turned away from Vancouver shelters, as those numbers are no longer collected.

It’s difficult to say how people many are turning to vans, trailers, and RVs for affordable housing.

And its difficult to say “Langereis”: Lang-er-ays? Lang-er-ees?

Bruce Langereis is the local factotum of the Delta Group of Companies, an international property development, investment blah blah Ltd., and the co-owner (sic?) of the up-to-$6,000-a-night Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

But for four nights earlier this month -in the midst of the Welfare Food Challenge– Langereis slept in the parking lot of the BC Liquor store outlet at 39th & Cambie. His objective: the acquisition of the only 50 year-old bottle of Glenfiddich available for sale this year in Canada. Langereis’ single-minded perseverance, and $36,000, yielded him that reputable object of desire.

For expenses both physical and financial, Langereis consoled himself with a holiday in the Bahamas. And, a taste of the veritable Scotch of Christ: orange marmalade with a faint wisp of smoke, and a velvety, self-involved finish.

His other compensation will be a solid return on investment: Langereis plans to sell the rarefied ambrosia to patrons of the Rosewood’s bar at $2,000 an ounce. With a guess of two ounces consumed, 24 ounces less investment costs yields $12,000; or, $3,000 a night.

Bailout-D0150080Wally Oppal, Bruce Langereis, and Uwe Boll on the set of Boll’s Bialout: The Age of Greed (Photo: Chris Helcermanas-Benge)

 

Dîner en Douche

by Zbigniew

It is a truly remarkable sight, the exceptional sophisticate and occasional socialite, standing stoically at the edge of their penthouse balcony / apartment window / town house fence / flat door, with a glass of champagne / scotch / wine / baileys / beer loosely in hand, gazing philosophically across the most beautiful city in the world, contemplating the disconnect from their peers. Vancouver, it has: culture, romance, flair, charm, and an essence of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. But as that elegant citizen, who, let’s face it, is you, scurries around the city, you always find time to lament that Vancouver is just too much amalgam of difference. For sure difference breeds splendid variety and unique fusion: however it prevents the manifestation of a clear Vancouver spirit – which you lament. With a population so diverse it is a challenge to unite the citizens of this glorious city for even a single occasion (Canada Day withstanding). Truth be told, there is nothing that brings the different people of Vancouver together particularly well …..

…. Or is there?

Dîner en Blanc Vancouver

*

It’s a late capitalist pseudo-event par excellence: the status hungry scramble to be invited to pay a fee to dress in uniform and adhere to a strict set of rules to feed themselves: picnic extrapolated into a consumerist public spectacle.

Of course, it’s possible for those of lesser means to demonstrate their innate elegance. Gentlemen can get by with an entry-level Indochino White Cotton suit, you say. But that’s the wrong attitude altogether -so demi-douche, really. Why stop on the ground floor when Premium, Essential and Tux versions offer so much more … blanc?

And because concepts themselves are so passé, Dîner en Douche has its own Dîner en Douche. The truly ambitious and/or socially insecure can opt for le douche-plein, the riff-raff-free Hawksworth-Restaurant catered option.

The “manifestation of a true Vancouver spirit”? It’s de rigeurmortis.

Douche en blanc