fear & loathing in Lotusland

perVerse II: The Transit Edition

by Zbigniew

A poem comprised of unsolicited Vision Vancouver mass email subject lines re: the transit plebiscite.

To wit:

Today is the Day

I’m voting Yes

A vote on Metro Vancouver’s future

Spread the word!

On transit, here’s what you can do!

Yes to accountability, yes for better transit!

Will you stand with us on transit?

Congestion is a safety issue

Have you voted yet?

Did you get your ballot?

Today’s the last day

Transit: Today is the day

Rapid Disenchantment

by Zbigniew


Excerpt: “Canada Gains A Noted Science Fiction Writer,” Michael Walsh, The Province, Monday, February 21, 1972

“[T]his year’s convention, held during the weekend at the Biltmore Motor Hotel, did not repeat that first jaunty display of nationalism. It did, however, attract an immigrant.

“Author Philip K. Dick, the gathering’s guest of honor and keynote speaker, has decided to stay in Canada. Although Dick had previously discussed the possibility of such a move with convention planners, the apparent abruptness of his decision was a surprise.

“According to Dick, he has been deeply impressed by this, his first trip to Vancouver. That, combined with a growing disenchantment with the United States, most forcefully expressed in his speech to the convention, led him to decide to stay.”


Excerpt: Chronology, from Phillip K. Dick, VALIS and Later Novels, Literary Classics of the United States, 2009


Visits Vancouver, Canada, SF Con in February, as guest of honor. Delivers well-received convention speech (“The Android and the Human”), and declares intention to remain in Canada. Rapidly becomes disenchanted with Vancouver and seeks another destination ….


The Cringe: Scenic Rush

by Zbigniew

The Whistler Experience

Drive 4 Exotic Cars | 7-8 hrs | 220 km | $1295

West Vancouver to Whistler (and return)

Our all-day luxury experience!

Take in the spectacular natural beauty as you command four exotic driving machines along the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.

Your journey will weave through forests, mountains, valleys and some of the most lush and spectacular scenery in all of Canada. This seven to eight hour day trip will satisfy your hunger for exotic cars and great food at North America’s premier resort destination.

Along the way, you will stop to switch vehicles with your fellow drivers. These stops will provide opportunities for spectacular photos with the stunning backdrop of the islands and mountain ranges of the Sea to Sky Region.

By the end of the experience, you will have driven all four exotic cars, including a Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari F430 Spider, Audi R8 and Nissan GT-R.

Seen in Passing: Terminal & Quebec

by Zbigniew

ApathyPhoto: @ingefinge

For the Birds

by Zbigniew

In recent years the City of Vancouver’s department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture has presented the Vancouver City Bird competition, wherein the public is asked to select a favourite amongst various feathered candidates.

The competition seeks to raise awareness about the importance of birds in Vancouver, including endangered species that were once common locally, and to promote the city’s Bird Strategy.
Past winners include the Black-capped Chikadee and the Northwester Crow.

There are four contenders for 2016: the Barn Owl, the Barn Swallow, the Peregrine Falcon, and the Western Grebe.

While the contest closes tomorrow (May 9th, 2015), I humbly advocate for a late entry: the Cooper’s Hawk. While a lowly common woodland hawk found in Mexico, the United States and southern Canada, a local representative enjoys a particular distinction: a Cooper’s hawk in Langley has been designated the most polluted bird on the planet, with a contamination level a whopping 105 times above average.

I propose that the selection of the Cooper’s Hawk would not only support the laudable goals of the City Bird Competition, but also appeal to that Vancouver desire to be “the most,” at both ends of the scale.


by Zbigniew

“[T]he High Line is now suffering from its own success: with more than 5 million estimated visitors to the site each year, this greening initiative has managed to transform the entire socio-economic character of the neighbourhood that surrounds it. Many small businesses and moderate-income residents have been forced to relocate due to rising land values, while even those who can afford it have begun to experience the downsides of living or working in an area that panders to tourists.

“The High Line is thus a perfect example of “environmental gentrification” – the growing phenomenon of rising property values in the wake of a large-scale urban greening project. It’s a bit like the introduction of a new transportation hub or other major infrastructure project: while intended to serve existing residents, in reality it tends to increase land values to the point that those who live there are forced to leave. This exodus in turn transforms the sociological contours of the area and, by extension, the spatial segregation of the entire city.”

The dangers of eco-gentrification,” Jeanne Hafner, The Guardian, May 6, 2015


by Zbigniew

May Day, May 1st,  commemorates the aftermath of a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on Tuesday May 4, 1886, in Chicago.

Grandview Park, Vancouver, May Day, 2015:

May Day

May Day

May Day

May Day

The Water Cure

by Zbigniew

Reeling from the psychic pummeling, the intricate combination  of frenzied speculation, corruption and dull gray skies, and I’m gone –for a brief interval, anyway.

Usually my escape route takes me to supposedly more sophisticated places of ancient/old/new structures and polished fine-grained customs. But when it comes, the call of the tropics –the simple pleasures of clear skies, turquoise waters, and fancy drinks garnished with little paper parasols- will not be denied.

I quickly devolve (evolve?) into some kind of a sea creature, sprouting flippers, employing the dolphin kick to swim for hours in rocky bays in search of exotic species, venturing into the crystal clear depths to brush the humbling immensity of the Pacific. Floating on my back in the shallows, bobbing with the little waves, I find a sea turtle on my immediate right doing the same. Is she also contemplating her good fortune?

The day’s rhythms carry me: up early, with the sun, hiking over lava beds in search of beaches with sand the colour and feel of talc or coffee grounds, to evenings of nothing more demanding than watching the ocean swallow the sun.

And with nightfall I slip into a happy exhaustion. Gently rocked by the physical memory of waves, an entourage of Achilles Tang, Moorish Idols and a dainty little puffer fish of white polka dots on cobalt escort me to a watery dreamland.

Black Sand Beach


The local water cure is both less exotic and pleasant an experience: bracing, particularly to the privates, with such poor visibility that it’s vast biology remains mostly hidden -to the casual observer, anyway.

Still, on a hot summer day -where the forest meets the sea- a commune is altogether possible and desireable.

Third Beach is my preferred locale to make the transition. Well, it was when I left.

Water Safety Notice


All Bodies Welcome

by Zbigniew


Recently, I came across an image of the Astoria Hotel -a little bit of local-referenced colour to brighten-up a shoebox condo or a dimly lit basement suite, maybe.

In the boom preceding the First World War, hotels sprang up around the city’s core at Main & Hastings. Many primarily catered to itinerant labour, those taking leave from logging, fishing, mining and the merchant marine, as well local stevedores.

By the late 1970s, as the consumer and entertainment focus of the city shifted to Georgia and Granville, many of the hotels came to serve as modest, and decrepit, long-term residences.

While many have been destroyed over time, a 1971 provincial government heritage designation for Chinatown and Gastown spared others, and under the auspices of the British Columbia’s 2012 Habitat Housing Initiative 13 provincially owned Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels are undergoing rehabilitation. Of course, the current building boom is putting pressure of those hotels that remain and lie outside of these schemes.

The Astoria Hotel is one that appears to have slipped through the cracks. Perhaps as a result of its interstitial location at the edge of the DTES at Hastings & Hawks, the Astoria –constructed in 1910, and so far neither rezoned nor scheduled for revitalization- carries on.

Keith “The Laughing Hand” McKellar’s description of the current iteration of the Astoria could have been written any time over the last 40 years: “a slumlord syndicate tenement, infamous for an ongoing record of lodger bullying, dilapidated rooms and plumbing, maintenance bylaw violations, infestations of rodents, cockroaches and bedbugs. Reputed to be a shill for drug-dealing, welfare fraud, and fencing of stolen goods.”

Aside from these charming qualities, the Astoria is primarily known for its basement boxing club, which has been in place in one form or another almost continuously since the mid-1960s.

Less well known is its role connection to serial killer Robert William “Willie” Pickton. According to Stevie Cameron’s On the Farm, in the 1980s and ‘90s the Astoria was Pickton’s preferred haunt. “He almost always parked his truck or his motorhome in front of the Astoria and would amble in to buy drinks for the girls that flocked to his side. Often he’d pick one to take home.”

Willie Pickton was charged in the deaths of 26 women, but is believed to have murdered 49, many from the Downtown Eastside. In 2007 Pickton was convicted of the second-degree murders of of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey and Brenda Wolfe. The remaining charges were stayed.

In recent years changes have come to the Astoria. It’s substantial neon sign was restored in early 2009, and its parking lot has been converted by the Sole Food social enterprise into an urban farm.

And in the bar where Pickton sought victims, there are DJs and live music. There’s also a “Rent Cheque” night: “all bodies welcome.”

Rent Cheque


Scat II

by Zbigniew

Scat Jagermeister