Tag Archives: Vancouver

The Deeper Reasoning Behind My Going

I wrote 1,300 words earlier but they don’t feel right after coffee. So, let’s try this again. [deep breath] Om…

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My Friday post about leaving Vancouver is inspiring a lot of discussion, and I’m thrilled for the comments. So much is being said. I plan to mine the comments for posts in the coming weeks, because I think what’s going on in Vancouver, how the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” has become an anthem for a select class of Vancouverites, deserves a lot of discussion.

[If you’ve discovered my blog by way of others, hiya, and thanks for visiting.]

I’ve grumbled for a while that the cost of living is just ridiculous in Vancouver. Through an unfortunate series of events — bad vehicular accidents, stupid injuries, illnesses, victim of industry slowdown, over eight years — I’ve had one financial hit after another in recent years, like a boxer who keeps taking blows when he’s struggling to his feet. Well, when you’re down so long, it’s hard to see what way’s up.

I was an early financial canary in the recessionary coalmine and I’ve been hurtin’ in the bank for a long time comin’ now. The question of “how much is too much” when you’re throwing money at a way of life that leaves you an observer always on the flipside of the action starts to get a little old after two, three years of serious cutbacks and struggle.

There comes a day when there’s a line in the financial sand you can’t get over anymore, and if you don’t get gone, you just might get swallowed up. I have worried that if I stay in Vancouver much longer, that line in the sand will be crossed and I’ll no longer be able to get myself out of this situation. I’m not planning to stick around and find out.

I’ve said before about life that sometimes we just need to be uninvited from the party. Well, after so long of just getting by, and seeing my ability to afford even the meagre indulgences in life dwindle, I’ve taken the hint.

#OccupyWallStreet really amped up my thinking about what quality of life means, and what I’m willing to accept in life.

I don’t need a lot, you know. A good computer, a nice apartment, some comfortable belongings. I love the stuff  I own. I want to replace very little of it, actually. And I’m grateful for what I own, too. Then there’s cooking — like the ability to use good ingredients for cooking, that’s important, and is something I can’t always do these days. Wine two or three nights a week, also important. I’d like some more kitchen gadgets and a whole enameled cast-iron cooking set, but that’s a whole ‘nother matter. Aside from that? Pretty content on the possessions front.

So, there’s not a lot I really “want” in life. It’s not about that, and never was.

I don’t feel entitled. I don’t feel ripped off. I feel occasionally bitter that simple things I used to enjoy — dining out, concerts, games — are out of my means now, because life keeps getting more and more expensive but my salary stays the same, a common theme I hear from others. But, then, I don’t think often about restaurants, games, or concerts anymore, so they’re not really a factor any longer, either.

So, if I’ve made my peace with the idea that I don’t go out, and that’s sort of my level of expectation in life, and I’ve lowered my standard of living and simplified my expenses, and I’ve caught up with all my bills, and I’m on top of my finances that way, and I still can’t live “up” to my now-adjusted-and-simpler standard of living, well… something has to change.

Other people don’t have the same connection to place. I understand this. Some thrive to pick up and go. But I’m a sticker. I love my home. I’ve lived in 5 places in 38 years, with two of them alone compile more than 30 years of my life — my first home and my most recent apartment. I don’t like being in places for a short period of time. I want to know people, haunts, secrets, and more.

But it’s really hard to look around this place — a rainforest with world-class mountains, the Pacific Ocean, culture, great food, rivers, and more — and think “Yeah, I can do better than this.” Leaving doesn’t exactly sound like a step up when looking at everything around me here in Vancouver.

Then I remember it’s all dragging me down ‘cos that awesome comes at a price, a price too high for the payin’, and leaving’s the only thing I can do to break my  downward spiral.

So, it’s a really heavy heart that has made these choices.

But now that the choices have been made, I’m excited about the change. This is gonna rock, you know?

I love “learning by experiencing” in a new place, just like getting to know a lover. Every day it seems there’s some new thing to discover, and that’s just a fantastic way to live.

As a writer, I’ve long since lost my fire within. There’s something missing inside me, and I think being able to get up and see Difference around me every morning might be the thing to fire me up again.

Besides all that, it’s a monumental time in my life, and I’ve known that  as I’ve waded through the deciding of late. It’s the fork in the road — do I choose a city career or do I roll the dice on my writing dreams?

By choosing to get out of Vancouver, I’m telling myself I deserve more, I’m asserting that I won’t settle for less. I’m putting a value on my time, what I’m willing to waste on a commute, versus giving back to myself via writing and other passion-based endeavours.

I’m proving that I’m meant to live a slower life. I’m living up to my ethics and finally making the switch to a lifestyle where I can mostly walk and cycle, and stop leaving a big-ass carbon footprint.

I get to continue being surrounded by arts, culture, and open-minded people. I’m affirming that a life spent pursuing greater creativity, and living closer to people who inspire it within me, is something that’s critical to my nature.

I know, down deep, that acting on all those values in this way is something that will resonate and ripple for me, and for a long time to come.

I’m being forced to move by today’s economies, but that doesn’t make me a victim. It makes me someone with my eyes wide open, who’s choosing to turn it into a opportunity for positive change.

I might still be on a tight budget as I make my way to where I’m going, since most of the costs of living are somewhat similar to hear, save for rental and the ridiculous commutes, but it’s a really exciting time to be running down a new dream, whatever the price.

And so it begins.

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Yes, I plan to continue blogging in Victoria. Yes, I will write about the experience of moving toward the big day. Yes, some will be panicky and insane. Yes, I will address some of your great comments in postings to come. Yes, my head may explode before Christmas at this rate. And, yes, it’s kinda fun. Stay tuned for more. Thanks for reading.

Vancouver: I Love You, But I’m Leaving

This is my first piece on my decision to leave my hometown of Vancouver and head for Victoria, off the coast, the southernmost point of Vancouver Island. (Vancouver is on the Mainland, not on the island that bears its name. No, that’s not confusing at all. God.)

Because it’s the first time I’m letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot of simmering anger in me. I feel I’ve been forced to this decision by a city that has become a place where much of the 99% can barely get by. Like so often is the case, my anger’s finally making me act, and I’m picking up my first moving boxes this weekend.

As time evolves, I’ll look at this shift in my life with a more tempered, mellow view, but today I’m embracing the anger and the Dark Side for this posting.

The Breaking Point

It’s quittin’ time, Henry.

Gettin’ while the gettin’s good.

Hasta la sayonara. Change of address. Forwarding my mail.

All this and more, soon. Outta Vancouver, man. Into the fray. I’m a goner, Ma.

Some might think I’m crazy. “HEY, leaving the most liveable city in the WORLD? Are you NUTS?”

No, man. I’m just real fuckin’ broke, and real fuckin’ tired. File me under “Can’t give a shit anymore.”

For two years, I’ve been growing weary of Vancouver life. I’ll always love this town. It’s my home, but it’s now become my burden.

I didn’t come on some vacation, fall in love, and move. I’m not some foreign investor who’s decided to throw his wad at the town. I’m not some keenie who thought the Vancouver future was so bright, they came packin’ shades for life in a rainforest.

No. I was BORN here. This is my HOME.

Urban Undone

Most “born” Vancouverites I know — they’re really, really chill, down-to-earth people. The transplants? Depends. Many, not so much. It’s messing up the mix, and what was once a really laidback city often feels pretentious, overpriced, and pretty shallow. Maybe I work downtown too much.

I’ve been employed in the heart of Yaletown off and on for 12 years. Love the office I work in, hate the neighbourhood.

Every day, I show up to a job where I barely scrape by because it’s not a lucrative industry but it’s a great office, and I work in a neighbourhood where I find Ferraris parked, toy dogs, and plenty of ridiculously plastic people. Seriously, I think a Yaletown shop should open offering the service of extracting people’s heads from their asses. If one more asshole with an umbrella walks under an awning hugging the building in a rainstorm, I’m gonna slap someone.

After work a couple weeks ago, I went out for a BEER in the hood and had to pay $9.50. Before tip. For a SLEEVE, not a PINT. Metric THIS, baby. I don’t know what fairy godparent pays your tab, but I can’t do $10 not-a-pints. I buy a bottle of wine for that, for crying out loud, and at least that can put me out of my misery if I drink it fast enough. Let’s get real here. I fuckin’ hate Yaletown.

The class divide? I WORK inside it. While I’m so over it, I’m totally not, because it’s in my face daily.

But not for long.

When I grew up, Vancouver had under a half-million people. It was some quaint pint-sized version of Seattle-meets-San Francisco, but we liked it.

Now? It’s some gleaming pearl in the world and everyone wants to live here. Thanks, Hollywood people.

The average Vancouver-city home now sells for 11x the average family’s income. Compared to that income, Vancouver’s property values are a ridiculous 56% higher than NYC, & even stacks up 31% higher than the great city of London, England. It’s a bitch-slap to renters, too, because we have to absorb both land and tax costs, but we’re also the people least likely to afford to do so, leading to people having roommates as they’re pushing 40 and beyond now. Then there’s the lack of new rental opportunities because developers only care to sell, not rent. No one has a long-game in the providing-homes-business anymore.

Add to that the fucking ongoing three-plus-year recession and that most small biz has frozen wages for most of that time, if not longer, and renting in Vancouver is a real conundrum.

LIVEABLE? SURELY YOU JEST.

Where the 30% Can Afford to Play

Like this brilliant Vancouver Magazine article reports, I know more and more people in their 30s and 40s looking for second jobs, but most of them are secretly thinking there’s got to be a better life where we don’t need to work 60-hour weeks to be stuck in traffic only to pay exorbitant prices as premiums for the location — be it in dining, rent, clothing, or whatever. (Or $10 draught sleeves of local beer.)

This will always be my home, but I wish to hell so many people hadn’t found out about it, because I’m REALLY not digging the company.

Every day, I’m tired, I’m annoyed, I’m broke, and I’m left wondering when I’m gonna bloody stop feeling like this.

And then I realized: I’m not. It won’t stop.

It’s not me, Vancouver. It’s you.

For all your positives, there’s all these downsides that no one wants to talk about.

You’ve got a lot of people who don’t smile on streets, who look like they’ve been slapped if you say “hello” (if they look at you at all). You’re expensive. Your traffic is often at a crawl. You’re filled with “scenes.” And, because you’re so expensive, everyone’s so primed to get by and get ahead that socializing seems more about business than making friends.

God, you’re SO expensive.

I just can’t pay the price anymore, not literally or figuratively. It’s eating at my soul.

I have a Virginia Woolf quote on a memento at home. It says: “If you are losing your leisure, look out, for you may be losing your soul.” One day recently, I dusted it, read it, and I realized I’m absolutely losing my soul.

While I love Vancouver’s setting and its diversity, the truth is, I’ve seen far too much of the same for 37 years. The newness here all looks the same — glass and concrete. I need a more soulful newness, and Victoria’s close yet far… and looking to me very much like what Vancouver was 30 years ago.

Making the Working-from-Home Switch

In this town, I’m an unlucky girl who landed a serious back injury and is struggling to get by. On top of my full-time week, I’m rehabbing an injury, and even though I live inside of city limits, the 10km I travel to downtown takes me about 40 minutes each way, and when you factor in all my appointments, getting around, and more, it’s adding up to a crazy 15-20 hours a week I’m spending on transit. It’s soul-sucking.

Right now, I can’t work from home because I hate my home, since my landlord has dreams of achieving “slumlord” status. To rent a new place in a better neighbourhood, I’m looking at a 50-60% rent increase, and nothing in this city remains for what I pay now. There’s co-op housing, which would be affordable, but it needs a 5-year commitment, and the idea of committing to this city another five years has churned my stomach of late.

I have no interest in being in this craptastic apartment all day every day. My at-home workstation sucks, and I’ve fallen out of love with my apartment since the cockroach episode of ’08-’10. My desk is too high. At the real office, I’m simply at my desk too long. I hate leaving work and returning because my days are long enough as-is, given my back-injury needs, so I generally work straight through my days. It’s not ideal, but it gets my day over faster, and me home sooner.

In the end, I spend lots of weekends keeping to myself to recharge and house-clean, because I’m too weary after work with my wonky body to be doing that crap on work nights. It’s an unsatisfying and even depressing balance that’s the only thing I can make work for city-life these days. It keeps me antisocial, and I hate that my life has become this. I don’t hate people, I’d like to see them, but I also need a certain amount of time to myself, and that’s how it’s achieved in long-term injury rehab when one’s stuck in the urban rat-race.

Moving to Victoria, my rent’ll be about the same price but my home and neighbourhood should be better, and possibly with utilities included, lowering my expenses. I’ll be close to the downtown core AND the ocean, less than 20 blocks from each, and could ditch a bus-pass in favour of walking 80% of the time — great for my body. I can work from home and keep my antisocialness to a practical level, then escape to see the world because I’ll be living in the mix, not stuck on the inconvenient busing-to-every-place outskirts like I am now. I could write in cafes with my soon-to-be Boxing-Day-Special laptop, work out more regularly, keep my work-seated hours to smaller chunks for better back health, and maybe, just maybe, have more fun.

The discipline required to work from home will be hard, but the soul-suckingness required to work in the heart of Vancouver is a far higher price to pay than the task of making myself become disciplined.

Quality of Life

Vancouver Island is almost self-contained. As a foodie, this is kind of awesome, because so much is grown and produced there, and the profit margin is much higher for vendors to use sustainable practices and sell close to home. I’ve been checking out grocery prices, and finding that locally-raised unmedicated chicken sells at prices lower than mass market meats here on the Mainland do.

All things considered, for me, moving for “quality of life” makes a lot of sense. I’ll be able to balance the demands of working for a living along with the living I’ve not seemed to get around to doing a lot of over the last couple of years. I’m imagining a Steff who likes to walk and explore, who feels relaxed enough to finally focus on reading and writing again, who’s out rediscovering her love for photography, eating less processed food and taking the time to cook healthily at home. I’m imagining a Steff I used to be, a Steff whose soul got lost a while ago.

And then there are the pubs. Real British pubs. Fan-fucking-tastic. Maybe they don’t charge $9.50 a sleeve. (Motherfuckers!)

Being the heart of a ferry system for both the province of BC and an outcropping of the Washington State ferries, Victoria offers far different weekend-traveller options that include crazy rainforests, other islands, and Canada’s only surfing spots, and other great haunts, all for far cheaper than Mainland travel spots.

Will I stay there forever? Unlikely. Stay for five years? I think so.

The Last Word (For Now)

Sure, it’s a drastic — and considering I have to pay to move my belongings by weight on the ferries, expensive — move. And it seems surreal to be so excited (yet still sad) to be leaving, knowing all these organizations claim Vancouver is the most liveable city in the world, something that makes my jaw drop every time I hear it.

Vancouver Island in the distance, from UBC's Fraser Outlook.

Maybe it used to be, but with bad civic policies leading to exorbitant and insane real estate prices, the day-to-day here remains out-of-reach for most of the 99%.

A lot of us single folk in our 30s and 40s, who are tired of barely getting by, let alone not getting ahead, can assure you these ranking folk are misreading their data. Very unscientifically, about one in three people I talk to who are in my age range have considered leaving Vancouver, and their options are still open. Most people I know dine out less, have less time for leisure activities, and are feeling more stress than ever. At this rate, soon, this town will only consist of white-collar workers and upper-management, unless expensive rental conundrums are solved, and fast.

I can either cough up the 50-60% more for rent now for the delusion of living the good life while killing myself to make my ends meet, or I can admit I’ve lost the battle, but that the battle’s no longer worth the fight, pick up, and leave. And leaving brings a quieter, simpler, closer, more convenient, healthier lifestyle, for the same price as I pay now, or maybe less.

Hmm. Yeah. Doesn’t sound like such a tough choice now, huh? So, 10 more weeks, then.

It’s a drastic change, but my gut says a great one. Buckle up. This’ll be a fun ride.

***

I’ll definitely be blogging about everything coming down my pipes — from moving ideas, planning, to the simmering excitement of not knowing where I’ll be or what’s gonna happen, for the next three months of my life. Yep. 2012’s gonna be a good’un. I just need to remember to stop and breathe a few times between now and March.

Riot Report? Fuck the Report. Charge Someone.

This riot report business, man, I don’t know.

You want to know what it says? Go ask someone who cares.

Important facts are pretty simple: Here in Vancouver, we had us a little hockey riot. Everyone made a big deal about it, ‘cos it IS a big deal. We’re civil Canadians, we don’t do that shit. Want to do that shit? Hand in your Canadian passport at the door. You ain’t Canadian enough.

Well, cue the UK riots. That brought a lot of perspective to Vancouver folk.

All our hockey-riot hullabaloo passed — millions of dollars in damages, people injured, and all those things that come with mass destruction unleashed by drunk assholes — and not one charge has been laid. Not one.

In the Queen’s realm, not only have charges been laid, but people are already doing HARD time for their actions! Our riot was a couple months before theirs, and much easier to dissect, being all of 3.5 hours in Vancouver, versus four DAYS in the UK.

What happened in Canuckistan?

The same thing that always happens in North America, but that BC politicians have perfected.

The relevant happenstances get forgotten. All the players turned the riot chaos into a political free-for-all ‘cos there’s an election in five months. Next thing, everyone’s pointing fingers about whose fault the thing was.

Maybe these guys didn't burn this car, but they're celebrating it, so that makes them assholes too.

“I didn’t do it. You did it! It’s your fault! Hey, people, blame him! And, psst… vote for me!”

No. You know who fucking did it?

Assholes who got loaded and trashed our city. Young, angry, stupid people who deserve to be in jail, on probation, or doing civic service to atone.

It’s not THE MAYOR’S fault. The city wanted public parties and viewing in the streets. We were longing for the communal bliss of the Olympics, and a little recreating didn’t hurt.

More than 150,000 or so folks convened downtown to watch the games. They thought it was a good idea. Those who didn’t go down mumbled thoughts that Vancouver would riot no matter how the game transpired, because some folks just look for the excuse, but I didn’t hear many of them saying “don’t do the public showings,” because they figured riots would happen with or without public events.

Still, there were plenty of politicians and would-be candidates in the mix, wearing their jerseys, cheering like it was the best thing since Oprah handed out hams.

Public parties are an awesome photo op, it would seem. “I’m a good citizen! I like hockey too. Look, I bought a jersey!”

The riot ain’t the chief of police’s fault. Our fine officers stopped the riot without firing a weapon, without using rubber bullets, and when it was all said and done, the citizens were so impressed they literally wallpapered a department squad car with THANK-YOU notes.

When you cover your face, you know you're a thieving fuck and should be ashamed of yourself, so that makes these guys fucktards.

In 3.5 hours the riot was done and dusted, honey, ‘cos our boys & girls in blue ate their Wheaties before the shift.

The fault of the great Hockey Riot was simply people who wanted to kick the shit out of things because… who the fuck knows why, “BECAUSE”? Because they did.

Why doesn’t matter.

The problem we have here is, the citizens don’t CARE about the mayor or the cops, and antagonistic media DOESN’T GET IT. We don’t care about the politics! SHUT THE HELL UP. Stop sensationalizing! Contribute to the solution! PLEASE.

We understood what happened THAT DAY. We didn’t need any fucking inquiry. The increase in cops wasn’t enough, the confiscation of liquor wasn’t consistent enough, the ability to get alcohol downtown on the day of the game was a part of the problem, even with sales ending at noon. The sunny weather brought out even more people. We got it. It was booze, numbers, and shitheads. Pretty simple.

How do we prevent the next riot? Well, we don’t. It’s always a possibility. Our riot response just needs to improve even more. The response improvement from 1994 to 2011 was impressive. Continue that.

In the meantime, we want justice. We want these punk-ass bitches, many of whom were caught IN ACTION, to be punished!

And if they’re NOT punished, FIX THE GODDAMNED LAW so they can be charged NEXT time. Get us some fucking politicians in chambers who execute new legislation that makes it possible to prosecute for incitement and agitation when it’s not related to a political protests. Those get a different measuring stick.

Seriously, write a law that escalates punishment if in conjunction with civic celebrations. If a riot happens within a day of a sporting finals or major sporting event, or public celebration like The Symphony of Fire, have it be a charge of hooliganism.

Or something. My University of Phoenix correspondence law degree ain’t done yet, so let’s not make me think so hard. Write somethin’, lawmakers.

But stop the fucking finger-pointing. If leaders weren’t so damned afraid to bust out a dance in this province’s political scene, we might actually have progress happen and effect some real change. God knows we need it.

That’s fantasy thinking, there. Here, in Lotus Land, everyone’s prepared to play the blame game before the record even starts to spin.

I’m tired of it. Guess what? Most taxpayers are tired of it.

Assholes that are “the future” went out there and tore my city apart, assaulted my police officers, broke our hearts, AND THEY’RE GETTING AWAY WITH IT.

They’re on TAPE! We have photos! There are witnesses!

AND THEY’RE GETTING AWAY WITH IT.

I’ve never considered politics in British Columbia to be more pathetic than it is now, and any politician campaigning with “riot speak and blaming” as a major part of their platform will not get one damned bit of support, or a vote, from me.

It’s time to grow up, BC politicians. And grow a pair.

Shut up and solve some problems that need solving. Get these punk-asses charged and answering to society.

If these jerks can’t be prosecuted, then I want laws in place by June 1, 2012, that make it simple to lay charges and have them stick, when it comes to wanton sports-hooligan violence like this.

Because right now the legal system and political system in British Columbia is an embarrassment. An EMBARRASSMENT.

People wrecked our city. We know who to blame. Prosecuting them is just not brimming with enough political cachet.

Well, we, the people, we don’t need politics.

We want justice.

Now give it to us.

Round Up: The Week That Was

I have worked every day for eight days, writing for a few hours on all my off days, so, the blogging force is not strong in me right now, Young Jedis. This may be the way of the Steff world for a while, but after so long running the financial tank on half-empty, I’m trying not to gripe about the opportunities coming my way. It’s a great change. Right? Sure.

But… there’s a lot going on in my/our world, and if I don’t stop to take a writing break, none of it will ever get my attention.

In such a blah news week, why not a quirky old picture? Celebrating what it is, a Beetle reportedly crossed the Irish Sea from the Isle of Mann in the '80s(?). Apparently sailed by Malcolm Buchanan.

So, the week that was, then, except for Norway because I’m still processing this because I’ve been working too much to follow it. It deserves more than a passing comment.

Amy Winehouse, Forever 27

I don’t know what it is about that age. Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Cobain, Janis Joplin, Basquiat, and now Winehouse, all dead.

I’ll confess I’ve never really listened to her. I have a hard time getting into people I fear won’t be alive long, since this reputation long preceded Winehouse’s death.

Russell Brand really said everything that needs to be said about Amy in this shockingly good blog post.

And I promise to spend a rainy night sometime learning about her music, thinking about the prices paid for having an artistic predisposition — since artists are more likely to overdose and/or commit suicide than most. Just another brilliant mind gone far too soon.

Jack Layton, Cancer

I’m much more upset by the news of Jack Layton’s second instance of cancer, a new kind too, than I thought I would be, and angry he’s so gaunt so soon. The Left needed a more energized and optimistic voice in Canada, and despite how badly the recent national election went, I was optimistic that Layton could bridge the divide between all the left-of-centre voices in this country for a stronger political opposition as time goes on.

And maybe he still will. But let’s be real, it’s cancer, and they’re not saying what kind. That’s probably not a good sign.

This itself is becoming a controversy. Are we, the public, entitled to know what the opposition leader’s specific cancer is?

You know what? No. Fuck it. Why? Why do we need to go there? We don’t. It doesn’t change anything. He’s stepping aside. Shut up and let the man fight his fight.

The media’s prying because they want the meaty story. What about all the stories on X-cancer and Y-treatment options? How in god’s name will the networks ramp up their viewership if they don’t have specifics?

Well, fuck you, media. I don’t want the specifics today. I want Jack to get well. I don’t want the public jumping to conclusions on treatments for X-cancer when others’ cases might be different. I don’t want cancer sensationalised or peppered over the news yet again.

Layton’s shooting for a return date of September 19th. With everything I have, I hope it works for him. I didn’t vote for him, but I greatly admire him, and he’s a great Canadian.

Yo, Vancouver, What’s the 311?

If you live in Vancouver and you haven’t discovered the 3-1-1 City Services number, it’s among the best “service-related things a civic government has done for this city in my lifetime, I would say. Put down the blue pages, don’t dare Google that number — if you have a problem with ANYTHING the City has a department for, call 3-1-1 and report it.

One number, every solution. It makes every corporation in Canada look like an asshat for making phone customer service so onerous (I’m looking at you, Telus and Fido).

Every time I’ve called, I’ve been helped in 5 minutes or less. In the last month, I’ve called about:

  • tubs of black mystery liquid abandoned in my alley (picked up by sanitation next day)
  • an eroding bike lane (fixed later that week)
  • a small “pocket” city park whose lights had blown out (called to say wiring had shorted, it got repaired that weekend)
  • finding a cockroach in my apartment (I called on Saturday, city inspector called me for details Monday, by noon)
  • an injured, possibly rabid urban coyote in a cemetery (they said a conservation officer would see if he could heal & carry on with life, or not)

So, when they say it’s a one-stop dial-in shop for civic services, the City of Vancouver doesn’t lie. Stop thinking it’s impossible to affect change at an on-your-street level because, clearly, them things they are a-changin’.

Pride Week

Here, in Vancouver, it’s Gay “Pride Week.” Click here for events scheduled.

While I’m not gay, I think it’s a great opportunity to remember that being yourself makes living your life a lot easier. Be honest about who you are, what you want, what you love, who you love, and how you want to live.

Life spend half-honest, or full of compromise, is a life left unlived.

For every person I turn off or push away by “being my blunt self,” it’s one less person I need to worry about pleasing in the future, and those who remain are further proven to be the ones I need be concerned with keeping.

  • Celebrate who you are.
  • Celebrate who others are.
  • Embrace diversity.
  • Encourage individualism.
  • Don’t apologize for being different.
  • Don’t tone it down.

And keep on keepin’ on, my fine, diverse brothers and sisters. You make life more fun, and you’re welcome in my world.

Big Brother & Vancouver: My Thoughts on Crowd Surveillance

As the dust settles from Vancouver’s riots, a controversy brews.

Public shaming is Vancouver’s new favourite past-time. Know a rioter? Expose that ass!

But should we be doing this?

Some folks have very different opinions, and the loudest voice one hears on the matter is by local professor & author Alexandra Samuel, who explains her opposition very well in this piece, where she says “We have seen Big Brother, and he is us.”

While Samuels has great points, she is not in the majority on her opinions.

My position on public shaming shifting slightly. I worry about the severity of public outing right now because of the passion with which the entire city has jumped on these guys.

I loathe the extent to which some are taking the public shaming, via printing phone numbers and addresses of parents of rioters, contacting employers, and things like that. (Not cool, people. Don’t be an ass and do that, or initiate contact that way.)

We live in an era where the saying “Pics or it didn’t happen” is ubiquitous. Everything gets caught on video. If you had a camera on me 24/7, you’d find some real good footage for upending people’s thoughts on the person I am. This is true of all of us.

You’d sure as hell never catch me damaging public property, harassing or assaulting others, or flying into physical rages, though. You’d never catch me vandalising, shouting down a cop, shoving a citizen, or even littering.

That’s my ethos, and a lot of citizens share it.

We citizens are tired of the permissiveness with which people litter, vandalise, and generally abuse public spaces. We’re tired of people who get away with acting like assholes.

Maybe it’s time public shaming come into vogue.

Maybe it’s time we stop worrying about politicians with prostitutes, and start worrying about punk-assed people who treat cops like trash, who burn our city up, and who generally don’t seem to contribute to where we want to go as a society.

Destroying their lives, though, may do us more harm as a society than good.

In this instance, I believe we need to offer first-offense rioters a chance to redeem themselves. We need to give them an opportunity to give back instead of destroying. We need to allow them the chance to not throw their lives away over a stupid night in which they maybe chose to embrace a mob mentality when they might have never done otherwise normally.

Then there’s the part of me who feels that there are people on those videos doing heinous, awful things — beating people, blowing shit up. That side of me feels those people don’t get the benefit of the doubt. They don’t deserve it, they deserve to be outed.

In the end, my ambivalence on meting out justice the old-school way, in a court of public opinion, is tempered by the thought of living in a world where everyone felt accountable for their actions.

If people realise that being a jackass for 15 minutes on Youtube can have real long-term life effects, maybe then we’ll see people acting like citizens, not hooligans.

Actions should have consequences. Good citizens should be angered when hooligans act this way. Thugs who attack our police and other citizens deserve to be exposed for who and what they are.

However, just being present at the riot doesn’t mean one is complicit in it. Jumping on a burned-out car isn’t the same as burning it. There are levels of asshattedness going on here, and painting them all with the same brush of ostracism isn’t ideal.

So, I’m still at a loss. To some degree, this public shaming of thugs is long overdue. Hooligan behaviour needs to be seen as unacceptable, not “fun”. We need youth and others to understand that we expect more of citizens.

At the same time, lives can be destroyed by this process, and while I trust my own judgment in reading facts and situations in an equitable manner, I do not trust that others can or will do the same. My ethos is liberal and open-minded, which isn’t always the case with others, so whose idea of “wrong” is right?

The only thing that isn’t questionable for me is, if one is celebrating that kind of destruction, if they’re contributing to it in any way, if they’re cheering it on, then it makes them a douchebag, and maybe it’s in everyone’s interest to know that about ’em.

Beyond saying “Hey, this guy is a rioting douche,” I don’t think we should be doing anything. It’s not up to us to contact their employers, their schools, their family. We don’t have that right, and anyone who does it should be reprimanded.

In the end, Alexandra Samuels has a very valid point — it’s a really slippery slope. It’s a worrisome possible trend when one thinks of ways it might be misused.

But I don’t like the society we’ve become. I don’t like the lack of social responsibility so many show. If this is what it takes to have a society where everyone cares about how the street looks, respects others’ belongings, and treats each other with dignity, then maybe it’s time to stand atop that slippery slope and see if it leads us to a better place.

The Day After

Photo by Steffani Cameron.

Wow. What a difference 24 hours makes.

There’s something about hundreds, maybe thousands, of drunk-assed fuck-faces rampaging through your city, breaking glass, burning cars, and hurting innocent civilians that makes one go, “Hey, you know what? I love this place. And you just PISSED ME OFF.”

One of Vancouver’s finest somewhat-under-the-radar bloggers (bookmark that shit, yo) is Kimli. She has deliciously turned her snark on to these three asshatted rioters. Based on the strength & zeal of this piece, I think she should embrace her angst and do an entire series on these jerks (and out-of-towners!) who thought they’d try messing up Vancouver, and tarnishing our reputation worldwide.

I love my town, man.

I love my town with its disparity of lives, rich-versus-poor, plastic-ass districts like Yaletown, through to hard-ass hard-luck big-art cultural-love-in ‘hoods like Commercial Drive on the East Side.

I love my town with its ludicrous concrete jungle in the middle of a temperate rainforest at the bottom of big-ass mountains on the coast of the wide watery world of the Pacific.

I love my wickedly multicultural once-upon-a-world white-folk sushi-capital crazy-ass side-of-Little-India jumble of a town.

And these guys picked the wrong fucking day to toy with us.

We were gonna take it all, win the Cup finally, and instead of just losing The Cup, we lost our reputation and our self-respect.

A sick billion dollars will be pumped down the drain because of these asshats. Some will be getting in trouble with the law for stealing a Big Gulp or Pringles, and I hope the insignificance of their theft does not diminish the extent of punishment they receive.

Principles, baby. Gotta have ’em.

Because the world is hurting, because the economy has been gutted like a fish, because there are better things to do than coddle these spoiled drunk punks with incarceration, I would hope the City of Vancouver will solicit “alternative punishment” ideas from the public.

Whether it’s making rioters clean up inner-city elementary schools, ridding beaches of trash, doing clean-up after civic summer events, working for the employers whose businesses they damaged, being forced to talk to high schools about why they regret doing the criminal acts they did — I think there are two things we can’t really do; We can’t run up taxpayers’ tab with jail time for all these assholes, and we can’t cripple them too far into their future with huge reparations fines, thus escalating their angst.

But they need to pay with their time and their physical labour. The city and Mayor Gregor Robertson should let the public speak as to how that should happen.

Photo by Steffani Cameron.

Last night, I was embarrassed. I was hurt. I was angry. And I would have beat the living shit out of someone who was guilty of crimes against this city if I could have.

This morning, I got up, I did my social-media-woot thingie of informing the locals and world at large about Douchebaggery Central as the morning unfolded more and more. Then I decided that, back instability or not, I just had to get my ass downtown to experience the “Day After.” I couldn’t let the asshats win.

And I’m so very, very, very glad.

Tonight, fueled by the clearly mad-deep-true love most Vancouverites have for their city — because, after all, more than 18,000 people signed up on Facebook to do clean-up today and, as a result of those who honoured that commitment, the biggest riot in almost 4 decades was cleaned up before lunchtime.

During the clean-up, hundreds and perhaps thousands of people wrote on the boarded-up windows with markers left by every pane, messages of everything from apologies to the hockey team, testimonies of love for the city, through to rightful damnation of the rioters.

As the city was literally swept up in a wave of awesomeness, people’s angst turned to pride and love for their fellow citizens. Friendships formed, people shared and laughed. It was a really, really awesome experience to be there even for just an hour.

Photo by Steffani Cameron.

Now, people have turned their attention, like Kimli, toward trying to expose all these assholes for who they are. They need to pay with their friends, their schools, their jobs, everything.

We cannot abide this behaviour.

If the government cannot punish them, then we must socially ostracize them.

There is a code. You do not fuck with another man’s home.

This is our home. This is our town.

Whether local or not, that behaviour will never be tolerated in Vancouver at our public events.

You’re on notice, asshats. We have smartphones. You’re on video. And it ain’t the 15 minutes’ fame you’d hoped for.

Everyone else, we got your back. Get here, have fun with us. We’re good people. We’re not gonna let these chumps wreck our party.

We’ll see y’all same time next year, man. Without the losers.

See below for TIJANA MARTIN PHOTOGRAPHY's link. Photo by Tijana Martin.

Visit http://tijanamartinphotography.wordpress.com/ for more heartwrenching riot (and pregame fan) photography.