scamcouver

fear & loathing in Lotusland

Category: Warped Geography

The Sound of Music

by Zbigniew

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在迎接中华人民共和国成立67周年之际,9月30日上午11时(北京时间10月1日凌晨2时)加拿大华人社团联席会联合大温各侨团,在温哥华市政府大楼前举行庆祝中华人民共和国国庆升旗仪式。

11时正,在嘹亮的《歌唱祖国》的乐曲声中,护旗手护送五星红旗步行至市府大楼前广场旗杆处,温哥华代理市长郑文宇拉动绳索、中国驻温哥华总领事刘菲、国会议员苏立道(JoePeschisolido)、加拿大华人社团联席会执行主席王典奇牵起国旗,在庄严的《义勇军进行曲》歌声中,大家怀着无比激动的心情目视五星红旗在温哥华市政府大楼前冉冉升起,这是第一次鲜艳的五星红旗在中国国庆节期间升起在温哥华市政府,升起在加拿大华人华侨生活并热爱的这片土地上!

Translated (poorly) via Google:

On the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, at 11:00 on September 30 (Beijing time at 1:00 on the morning of October 1) Canadian Chinese Association joint Dawen all overseas Chinese mission, held in front of the Vancouver city hall to celebrate the Chinese National Flag Raising Ceremony of the People ‘s Republic.

11 am, in the loud “singing the motherland,” the sound of music, guarding the flag hand escorted five-star red flag to walk to the front of the mansion flagpole, Vancouver Acting Mayor Zheng Wenyu pull rope, the Chinese Consul General in Vancouver Liu Fei, (Joe Peschisolido), Canadian Chinese Association Executive Chairman Wang Qiqi pull the flag, in the solemn “march” song, everyone with great excitement in the visual five-star red flag in Vancouver city hall building before rising, this is the first A bright five-star red flag was raised during the Chinese National Day in Vancouver city hall, raised in the Canadian overseas Chinese life and love this land!

Images: VanPeople.com

Archive Maroc

Fantasy City

by Zbigniew

“Fantasy City is solipsistic; isolated from surrounding neighborhoods physically, economically and culturally. As such, it is the epitome of what Christine Boyer has termed the ‘city of illusion’ -a metropolis which ignores the reality of homelessness, unemployment, social justice and crime, while eagerly transforming sites and channels of public expression into ‘promotional spaces.'”

John Hannigan, Fantasy City: Pleasure and Profit in the Postmodern Metropolis

*

That’s Entertainment (January 20, 2014) considered Vancouver’s historic function as an entertainment venue, a betotemed urban playground of bars and parks, vaudeville and mountains.

Almost four years on, with the city’s economy firmly attached to global capital flows, this role is taking on mass. The ground is buckling, deforming, and adapting: space and view turn private, trees are uprooted but live on as decoration and marketing, homes mutate into hotels -all in the service of a growing wave of short- and long-stay tourists sharing a taste for corporate-circumscribed distraction.

The $600 million Parq Vancouver casino is scheduled to come online in the Fall of 2017. “An international destination,” with an “architecture inspired by mountains, escarpments, gorges and valleys” and its own private park six stories above grade.

 

Vancouver-based Reviver Sport proposes CitySurf, a wave pool to be located in False Creek. Quarantined by a giant membrane, surfers nose ride their boards in peace, secure from “Shit” Creek’s notoriously E. coli-rich tides.

citysurf

Vancouver City Council removes Park Board oversight of the PNE -and any hope of achieving the expansion of green space in Hastings Park- then approves $1.5 million for detailed designs of a $120 million, 10 year, expansion of Playland and its transformation into a “world class theme park.” Led by Forrec, developers for Universal Studios, Legoland and Six Flags, design elements will include a “Main Street,” graffiti stations and a “narrow green strip called ‘The Park.'”

So, a city-themed theme park -a corporate fantasy built on a civic illusion.

hasting-park-fantasyHasting Park/PNE Master Plan (2011)

 

 

Smells Like Teen Sauce

by Zbigniew

Synergy Logo

As I drop below street level –my last glimpse of the surface is a flash of orange and brown. I take 20 minutes for the trip from Waterfront to Marine Drive; stepping outside, I am greeted by the same colour scheme.

I stop to consider this curious set of bookends, a geographic/temporal dysphoria usually reserved for malls and airports, when I catch the whiff of kitchen grease.

*

A&W was founded in 1923 in California; the first Canadian venue opened in Winnipeg in 1956. The Canadian division was sold to Unilver in 1972, and then purchased by the food company’s senior management in 1995. Although the companies share most branding and product lines, Canadian A&W has no corporate connection to its U.S. counterpart. A&W Food Services of Canada is headquartered in North Vancouver.

While the company ditched its drive-in service years ago, it continues to flog a vaguely “‘50s diner” orientation via a loud colour scheme, cutesy bear mascot, and a nuclear family of products (Baby, Mama, Teen, Papa, burgers etc), augmented and updated for the 21st century through a commitment to market “healthier” toxic quantities of sugars and saturated fats. Industrial foodstuffs, shilled the corporate way, with a generous squirt of “Teen Sauce.”

It’s the second largest fast food chain in Canada, with about 850 outlets and a “strategic thrust” to keep growing.

*

Exiting the Marine Drive Station into the shadows of Marine Gate, and A&W’s local growth strategy becomes apparent. It’s a player in the public-development-service complex that continues to transform the physical, social and economic space of the city.

Transit hubs are dramatically rezoned, enabling massive residential construction -a giant reef that attracts a supplementary round of deep pocket corporate capital to provide the punters with goods and services, those that can extract enough value to justify the substantial investment and rents.

In addition to outlets at Waterfront and Marine Drive, you can have your notional diner experience at Granville (Dunsmuir exit), Commercial-Broadway, Metrotown, and, Oakridge, with Main Street –and presumably others- coming soon.

That greasy odour? It’s merely the exhaust of the synergistic machine pumping out its special sauce. It’s the smell of money, lining some faceless shareholder’s pocket.

Signage

by Zbigniew

Semlin & Franklin

For 90 years a foundry stood here. In 2001 the fabrication of iron fire hydrants and manhole covers made way for Hollywood product of questionable value and limited durability -eg. Catwoman.

And then, nothing at all.

What will bring life back to this neglected corner? What will encourage pedestrians to j-walk with impunity? What will attract the wonder of both cyclists and the owners of expensive automobiles and yet respect zoning restrictions?

Signage.

Signage 1

Signage 2

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.

 

Exposed

by Zbigniew

Bill & ErniePhotograph: Brian Kent/Vancouver Sun, PNG

My memories of the opaquely sanctioned dog & pony show -destined to remain dormant in some atrophied cluster of neurons but reanimated by the hullabaloo of the 30-year anniversary- are not very coherent:

  • a giant hockey stick
  • an undulating highway cum hazardous concrete playground for kids of all ages
  • being coerced by a monarchist into an up-close viewing of the Prince and Princess (Too much Prince, too little Princess, from my vantage)
  • a Psychedelic Furs concert
  • a CPR exhibit that employed a mime to enthusiastically illustrate the decline in passenger rail service
  • a presentation on British Columbia’s mining industry, complete with a chorus of singing puppet minerals -featuring Molybdenum as the basso profondo (sic)
  • the Power Plant studio, where we recorded a not-too-nuanced cover of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” after a piss-up at Club ’86
  • the Philippines Pavilion -essentially a front for the sale of imported rattan furniture
  • Canada Geese in high fidelity 3D
  • gondolas
  • monorail
  • McBarge

All in all, nothing, with nightly fireworks.

*

“The urban recession of the 1980s was still closely linked to the slowdown in the lumber industry, even if its most obvious symptom was a rapid decline in real estate values. But since then, there have been clear signs that the Vancouver economy is both uncoupling from the rest of the province, and becoming more dynamic … it has uncoupled from its interior and become more of a Pacific Rim city, drawing nourishment from its direct links to such centres as Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo.

“Looking at less tangible factors … we could argue that that Vancouver’s recent growth has come from a self-reflexive belief in itself; it succeeds, postmodern style, more because of its image as a place ‘where the action is’ than because of any evident material cause.”

Paul Delaney, “Vancouver as a Postmodern City,” Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern City

*

By 1986 the Lower Mainland was no stranger to foreign capital induced megaprojects –witness the Guinness Family development of the British Properties.

Expo brought this dynamic in from the sticks, to the city’s industrial heart, wiping the economic and historical slate clean -a six-month psychic bulldozing by circus. Beehive burners and Sweeney Cooperage were obliterated by a giant watch and a corkscrew rollercoaster. The world was in motion and the motion was up, an elevator to an eventual stop at a circa 40th floor luxury penthouse.

So cleansed, the site’s 83 hectares were sold in bulk to Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing at the wholesale price of $320 million dollars. But wait! If you buy now, the Province will throw in soil remediation, netting the good citizens of BC a scandalous $145 million. And so: “Li Ka-ching!”

Grotesque spectacle as marketing strategy, bulk foreign capital dictating urban development and redevelopment: these are the obvious Expo legacies.

But other nasty seeds were planted in the lead-up to the World Exposition on Transportation and Communication (Class II). In the intervening 30 years these have yielded a bumper crop of bitter fruit.

*

In May of 1986 I was halfway through my undergraduate degree.

I paid my own way, thanks to an affordable tuition -about $1,000 a year for a full coarse-load- and a union job. At Vancouver General Hospital I distributed meals, collected the remains, and operated an industrial washing machine, among other tasks. If there was any “fat” in the system, I didn’t see it. The work was sweaty, dirty, odorous and honest, with daily exposure to the worst a malfunctioning or injured human body can offer, but the best of grace and resilience.

I worked full-time in summer and on-call the rest of the year to focus on my studies. I didn’t exactly live high on the hog. I earned enough to keep my 1977 Volkswagen Sirocco –no functioning heat, radio, or sex appeal- on the road (for extended periods, anyways), graduate debt-free with the vague impression that I had possibly learned something, and scrimp together enough to backpack across Europe -on the cheap.

While the Reagan-Thatcherite dogma was only recently installed by the early 1980s, in BC the neo-liberal agenda was in full tilt under the Social Credit Party and Bennett fils. Having already beaten-up the working public with its proto-austerity “Restraint” regime, Expo opened up new opportunities for the Socreds to dismantle the social safety net and pave the way for dispassionate markets.

In the immediate lead-up to the exposition: six hundred people -mostly poor and elderly occupants of Downtown Eastside SROs- were displaced to make room for tourists, the provincial government having refused to outlaw evictions; university tuition climbed dramatically, as the circus’ deficit grew from $6 million to more than $300 million; and, both against a backdrop of an on-going cold war against organized labour.

These are the other legacies: widespread housing unaffordability and insecurity, massive and debilitating student debt loads, and low-wage employment.

My old union job? Outsourced to an international conglomerate that maximizes shareholder value by limiting wages and providing the worst of goods and services; food is now prepared in Calgary and trucked to Vancouver hospitals, while the poor schmuck that took my place makes less now in relative and absolute terms than I did 30 years ago.

*

On a late summer night in 1986, I’m ‘where the action is,’ patiently enduring the overture that announces the imminent start of the nightly fireworks display.

I am obviously oblivious to the good fortune of having caught the tail end of a social economy that gives a working class kid some opportunities, but I am uneasy. My delicately balanced world of work, study, and rudimentary independence is starting to slip. I’m in the the hole for my suddenly expensive fall courses, and a pocketbook-destroying job action looms on the horizon.

The elaborate and forgettable configuration of ignited powders builds to a crescendo, accompanied by a hysterical chorus that demands, insists, “Something’s Happening … Something’s Happening … SOMETHING’S HAPPENING … SOMETHING’S HAPPENING HERE!” I look up at the tracers fading away, and as the echoes of explosions diminish and the crowd starts its cheering, I think, “There goes my tuition.”

*

It is the 40th anniversary of Habitat Forum.

Tagged

by Zbigniew

 

Corbie Fieldwalkers’s hauntingly beautiful vignette on the disintegrating remains of a Point Grey home whets my appetite for a first hand investigation.

On this weekend afternoon the sky is luminous, milky white, and smooth. It looks solid, manufactured, an artifact. On the slow cruise west my mind wanders into the biospheres of 1970s science fiction films: Brave New World, Logan’s Run, THX-1138 –where The Man wears a creaseless jumpsuit and tolerates no gaps between economic and religious dogma.

*

West Point Grey is bounded by Blanca, 4th, the UEL, and the water.

While there’s a good number of older homes still standing, hiding behind hedges or thick stands of trees, the usual indicators -orange meshed trees, cleared lots, grotesquely oversized new houses- are all present and accounted for.

Short of my destination I parked the heap and get on the hoof.

It’s quiet; very quiet. The local population seems comprised mostly of grounds keepers and construction workers. I attract looks equal parts curious and suspicious. A couple of noncoms laying paving stones stop their labours to watch my progress down the street through narrowed eyes. And a good day to you.

I come across an abandoned home. It’s not the one I seek but … a coming attraction?

This one’s not yet decayed, but gone to seed: overgrown lawn, untended fruit trees, an abandoned garden. The air is saturated with the scent of magnolias and cherry blossoms.

If the house itself has any historic architectural significance, it’s lost on me: I classify it as Big, Old & Beige.

A flier advertising the City’s new glass recycling program hangs from the mail chute. I peer inside at the early 1950s -for the moment still secure behind locked doors and intact windows.

West 2nd Derelict

I move on to the primary target, just down the street. A hedge/chain-link tag team secures its perimeter, but this gives way to a gate encrusted with ornamental padlocks. I lift the latch and stroll.

Into a memory of a field trip, to a forest. This forest, maybe, of silent giants and wet green air. I fell for the dream. This dream of a wet coast wank cum quintessential Terminal Garden City fantasy: the private urban forest.

A long, curving roadway framed by mature evergreens leads to the remains.

It’s unexpectedly modest, right down to the one-car attached garage.

It’s in rough shape: windows smashed, a sagging roof-line, a thick carpet of moss covering the shingles.

The door stands open. Glass crunches underfoot as I wander inside. Thoroughly trashed and tagged -it’s ultimate décor.

Tagged

The trees have been tagged, too. However, this vandal has been sanctioned.

Diamond Head Consulting integrates “environmental features, creating great places”; that is, they “distill the relationships between natural and urban systems”; that is -goddamn it- they cut trees.

These trees. As far as I can see, they’ve all been tagged.

Dead trees standing. Their fall marks the end of this fantasy. It’s making way for another that will happily exchange a quiet forest retreat for the ostentatious display of wealth.

Like the one down the road being constructed by the suspicious bricklayers: an outlet mall-inspired palazzo, with a garage that could sleep six comfortably. Oh, and an ornamental tree or two.

Palazzo Nouvea

Our Speculative Future

by Zbigniew

Sea levels are rising, but the flood is already here.

It’s a tidal wave of cold, hard, dirty cash, a roaring, murky confluence of loose policy and looser barriers. The floodgates and sewers have been opened wide and the custodians have abandoned their posts, leaving us to the Fates.

It’s trashing everything in its path and the signs of its passing are everywhere: a local daily, wrapped in an ad hustling concrete and glass; the ass of a bus, adorned with a rictus smile eager to primp and pump or dump your home in a landfill; on Commercial Dr. street lights, usually reserved for notifications of flea markets, concerts, and burlesque, invaded -like a rash- by Boffo’s snake oil shill; the trees wrapped in orange mesh; the trees disappeared, for nothing more than being at the wrong place at the wrong time. As the deluge reaches 12th and Cambie, it turns into a 12% pay raise.

I seek refuge –the high ground- but it’s not safe: I find is another whirlpool of filthy lucre ready to swallow me whole.

The Museum of Vancouver’s Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver claims to engage “visitors with the bold visual language and lingo of real estate advertising as it presents the visions of talented Vancouver designers about how we might design the cityscapes of the future.” Or, to put it succinctly, “FOR SALE!”

Bought and paid for by Marcon Investments Ltd., Wesgroup Properties LP, Macdonald Development Corporation, Glotman Simpson, Henriquez Partners Architects, Adera Development Corporation, BTY Consulting Group, Brooks Pooni Associates etc etc etc, it’s a vision oblivious to the tsunami, unruffled by a spike of deaths among those sleeping rough, the young people living in vans, money laundering, corruption, empty homes, disemboweled communities, or the loss of canopy.

But hey, it’s nice and quiet here; have a look through the showroom and help yourself to the spec sheet:

Vancouver Spec Sheet

Dream Kitsch

by Zbigniew

East Van Attenuated

My thinking about art and life comes largely out of growing up in a quiet but skittish Vancouver, which has since transmogrified into something I barely recognize as my own. An immense influx of capital has transformed the city into a spectacle that engenders in its visitors feelings akin to the discovery of the secret of poetry, unaware that it is misrecognition of depth for surfaces. Vancouver has become adorned in what Walter Benjamin called dream kitsch, ‘the last mask of the banal, the one with which we adorn ourselves, in dream and conversation, so as to take in the energies of an outlived world of things.’ It is not just things that become outlived but the people for whom the city is no longer a possibility.”

“Ken Lum on Canada vs. the USA”, Ken Lum, Canadian Art

Strictly by the Numbers

by Zbigniew

1884-east-end-priv-subdivHistoric Atlas of Vancouver & the Lower Fraser Valley (Douglas & McIntyre, 2005)

1897-1901 - Key Map AKey Plan to the July 1897 Fire Insurance Map of Vancouver (updated to 1901)

406ldff4a-1926-4573-8c0e-63065e3fc0c6-MAP343City of Vancouver Archives, AM1594-MAP 343-: MAP 343.01

CFD_NGwW0AETW31.jpg_large_aBrewery & China creeks, source unknown

bab1d482-5b72-4aa3-893a-c2c9ab241fed-MAP420City of Vancouver Archives, AM1594-: MAP 420

Postal Zones

Vancouver Postal CodesSarnia Flowers

STC94-943_Vancouver_map2aCensus of Canada (1981) Geography Files

Vancouver_Transit_Network_Map

districtsVancouver Police Department, Patrol Districts

map01

CVAGzbNUwAAFxal.jpg_large1988 Electoral Boundaries Commission

vancouver-in-the-21st-century-49-638

dcldistrict

map5a

king_edward_village_zoning_map

west-end-plan-panel-13-4-april-2013-tower-height-zones-proposed3

MarketTrends-Residential-Detached-Homes-Vancouver_AUGUST-2015Urban Vancouver Properties, Market Trends

B1xXoJTCEAATWdn.jpg_large