Saturday, October 27, 2007

the slowpokes and the pompous

I suspect that a lot of what I write here may not make a lot of sense, n'or even seem contextual. I tend to think in very broad swathes, and pick up little pieces of information, and junk thought, and imagery, and so on, and try to build a diorama of sorts to understand the world at large. This is a part of trying to understand myself, and my own place in the big picture. Writing is a kind of leavening of all that disparate noise for my own understanding. Ultimately, it is a kind of Unified Theory, and as such, the ideas are ephemeral, and building of that understanding is very slow going.

It is something that I think that we all do, on different levels, and in different ways. How can the RE market reach such unbelievable levels of stupidity? What is really behind it all? How do we end up with the governments that we end up with - who implement legislations so contrary to what we, the people, are really aiming for? Why do people prefer granite countertops and stainless steel appliances? What makes people think that Vancouver is the Best Place on Earth(TM)?

I think that maybe people want Vancouver to be the Best Place on Earth, because they came here, and would not want to think that they had made a mistake. Maybe that is where all the comparisons to NYC, London, Paris, etc., come in. But we are none of that, and ironically, we have destroyed the Vancouver that we loved when we came here. High class in borrowed shoes, but still an unsophisticated street urchin. It amuses me to read on some fora the views of the newly escaped from the Big Smoke called Torrono, who want to turn Vancouver into the very thing that they have fled. Handles like "The604", and such, bely the origins of their holders. As do their writings.

Kevin Potvin, over at The Republic of East Vancouver, posited that;
We tend to think here, in chronically self-congratulating Vancouver, that everyone who comes here was motivated to come to this place rather than to go away from another place. The truth is Vancouver is a refugee camp for dissociated, abused, and discarded people from all over Canada
, and being one of those "dissociated, abused, and discarded people" myself, I would tend to agree somewhat. I never really had an interest in Vancouver until I came for a two week sojourn in 1988, and once here, I liked what I found, and never left. That was 20 years ago though, and that Vancouver is gone. Now, the "dissociated, abused, and discarded people", are looking to Grand Forks, Castlegar, Roberts Creek, etc., for what they once found here.

I lifted the above image from here, because it just seemed so pertinent. The Cafe Pompous - situated at the corner of Malaise and Ennui - where the observation is: Everything is so banal. It makes my lack of context somehow...contextual.

I also just had to lift this quote from the same place:
The name “Slowpoke” comes from an appreciation of the need to slow down to appreciate life. Slowpokes, according to the author, “value quality over quickness” and so don’t always fit into the modern world. The four-panel strips elaborate on that theme, whether presenting personal character insights or larger cultural commentary.
I would have approved more of a quality evolution of Vancouver over a quick one, myself.



I remember when I came to Vancouver just to get married (15 years ago) from Paris. They were blasting the mountains to build big ugly monster homes.

We were appalled but everyone I spoke to was giddy with excitement as their property was going up and up and I got a sense that not one really cared that the landscape was being destroyed. it was very sad.

A friend was visiting from France. She said she thought Vancouver was a big built-up city with no character or soul.

Anonymous said...

I just recently flew over Vancouver via Harbour Air.

The sight that sticks out most in my mind (even more so then the downed trees in Stanley Park) was the rows upon rows of cookie cutter houses climbing up the hills. I couldn't even see one tree in a yard.

My idea of hell to be truthful.


fish10 said...

Nice post.

I agree Vancouver is losing it's soul. We are all to blame the old-comers and the new-comers. It happens to all cities once they transition to 'world class cities' means that things more pricey, more polluted and crowded.


Anonymous said...

It is not a mecca for history, art, culture or even big business and certainly not architecture.

When I think of world class I think of Chicago, New York, Paris, London, Milan, Tokyo etc. etc.

Vancouver is what it is and people should accept that. As I said before it does not even have an opera house.

solipsist said...

Even Torrana - the city we "love to hate" has Roy Thompson Hall, The Hummingbird Centre, Massey Hall, the New Massey Hall, The National Ballet, TSO, the Skydome, Queen St. W., Yorkville, Rosedale, Forest Hill, Woodbine, the ROM, AGO, The McMichael, the CN Tower (the second tallest building in the world) and on and on. Even it does not stack up against NYC, etc.

Do we still have the Lux? Is the Orpheum open again (since the strike)? What ever happened to the Ford Theatre? Is the roof safe on the Bennett Burger? VAG? Hrrmph.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Toronto and loved it but it was never a world class city. They wanted to think it was. All the Toronto hype eventually died down.

It all started when it was voted number 1 city (or number 2) for business in the "whole wide world". They even had posters all over the place. Now I think it is 25th or something like that and they don't talk about it any more.

si fu said...

That cartoon is such a slice of Yaletown! Except the characters should be carrying yoga mats.

As a Tranna refugee I have to add that this town has become positively hostile since I moved here in '89 (of course we all rode dinosaurs back then). Does anyone remember that cars used to stop when people crossed the street?

It's hard to remember what brought me here. Nostalgia aside, I remember that this place had lots of rough edges back in the day, so in reality things have gone from one flavour of bad to another. At least the city was greener and friendlier before...

But hey we're getting the olympics, and houses cost a million bucks. That's what we all want, right?

DaMann said...

As my wife says
"Vancouver is so busy trying to be relaxed that it's uptight"

I have lived here all my life, it has certainly changed. It's uptight, arrogant and pretentious. Everything that the "west coast" was not supposed to be.

Not sure when or where it started but the latest and worst catalyst was the RE boom and Olympic announcement.

Jim said...

Born and raised in Vancouver but now I've had enough. With 2 kids and no way to ever buy something decent it's time to move along unfortunately. Slowing down fits with what I'm currently feeling but the question is where to go. The rising property prices province wide have pushed up across the board. The Sunshine coast seems nice but they seem to be asking a lot for whats available. Any other quiet places on the coast looking for skilled people that are nice? Frustrated in Nvan

Patiently Waiting said...

I was born and raised in urban Vancouver area too. Based on a couple news stories this past week, I'd say the good, decent people now live in suburbs like Poco and Abby.

I loved the Poco story about the community pulling together to fix-up the house of a family that had been down on luck after their son was murdered. This is so wonderfully against all the twisted values we see in Vancouver these days. Its a home not an investment...and we can help other, not screw each other.

Then there was Ed Schelleberg's funeral. An ordinary, working guy who was also a widely respected pillar of his community. Thousands of people came from miles around. Someone from his family talked about how we must not forgot the other victims who the media was portraying as deserving of their tragic deaths. Evil, evil Vancouver media IMHO. Those young, troubled men had feelings too...and families. The Schellenberg family really showed themselves as true Christians. Even as someone who is non-religious, I have to respect that. Maybe I need to find religion again.

Anyhow, I never go into downtown Vancouver anymore. I don't feel comfortable there, and I don't like everything it represents. Don't like the greedy yuppies, don't like what's happening to the poor, and don't like the way things have changed. That's the honest truth.


People think things can't happen here. Read this. It is about Brits spending too much money on property.

oooops. and London actually is a world class city.

patriotz said...

I have lived here all my life, it has certainly changed. It's uptight, arrogant and pretentious. Everything that the "west coast" was not supposed to be.

Yep, and Joni Mitchell saw it coming decades ago.

"They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot".

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

i left vancouver after 7 years, and during that time, i saw the city become more and more obsessed with its own image and how other cities perceive Vancouver.

imagine a person acting this way, and you would probably not want to associate with such a self-centred, self-absorbed and insecure person.

i moved Dublin, a city with all the same problems (affordability, housing bubble, drug gangs). it's not better or worse than Vancouver, but Dubliners just get on with it, and don't really care what outsiders think.

it has theatre, opera, "world class" (i hate that term) poets, writers, playwrights, musicians,whatever,but no one is busy worrying if anyone else is judging them.

you can get a lot more done when you stop worrying about what others think.