Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Greetings and salutations loyal readers, it has been some time since last I posted anything. This is mainly due to a lack of inspiration and a general malaise. But why now? What has caused me to make an Ali like return to the blogosphere? Well today I come to you with a news alert/warning/revelation, people are having sex on our city streets.
Okay, maybe not so much a revelation as a theory of mine and not just some pie-in-the-sky theory either but the only conclusion I could come to after weighing all the evidence. What evidence is that you ask? Well I’m basing this entirely on the relative frequency with which I come across used condoms and empty condom wrappers while walking the city streets.
I would think many of you have seen similar sights in your life and, like me, usually carry on as you would if these discarded prophylactics were any other piece of trash. However last week while on a long walk for the sake of walking (something I will discuss at a later date) I spied one of those now familiar torn shiny wrappers resting snugly up against the curb. As I had no aim in my stroll I was able to devote my powerful intellect and imagination to this junked jimmy hat.
My first thought as usual was “eww gross” followed by “well at least somebody is getting laid.” It was this second thought that put me on this meandering muse. Naturally the torn wrapper suggests someone had sex, but I began to wonder as to where they were doing it that would result in the packaging being left on the ground.
A simple answer would be that this was just a byproduct left behind by a member of our economies prominent nocturnal workforce. But this was a relatively quiet neighbourhood far from the glamorous lights of downtown or the dimly lit street corners of our more eccentric neighbourhoods. So as I continued to walk I pondered further as to the source of this Durex dilemma.
I thought perhaps it was merely an escaped piece of garbage, spilled from a can by some raccoons then carried away by the wind or possibly fallen off the back of a garbage truck. This theory didn’t hold water in its reservoir tip as I’ve encountered to many rubbished rubbers for it to be that simple.
My next thoughts were maybe someone had been revving it up in their car, certainly not a novel idea. This thought also bothered me, as it would suggest a certain level of carelessness in throwing garbage out the window. Which I guess is understandable in the heat of the moment. Actually I suppose it would have to be thrown out the window, because the logistics of a package tear, pinch and roll down before getting in the car are a little confusing. Suggesting to me either a very eager young man or a rather presumptuous one.
It also crossed my mind this discarded baby dam was simply the result of unbridled passion perhaps a couple stumbling home from a party too hot’n’bothered to wait for the privacy of a closed door. Or maybe a teenage couple saddled with parents unwilling to have such activities take place under their roof.
There is even the possibility that the commercials have it right. That this was truly a Cialis moment and the time was right. Or maybe just an exhibitionist couple enjoying the fresh air. There is also the chance that I am just not living an adventurous enough life.
Another facet of this Trojan trivia is that I’ve seen used condoms and many a torn wrapper but very rarely have I seen the two in close enough proximity to suggest there were from the same event. So with all these possibilities I was unable to come up with a solid explanation as to the source of that particular procreation protector. The one thing I was and am pretty sure of is that somebody was having sex near by.
At some point everyone has heard the expression ‘if these walls could talk.” Well I can’t help but ask, if these Lifestyles could talk what story would they tell? No matter what the answer is I’m sure it would be a doozy and one I would surely like to hear.

Monday, 23 April 2012

An Instant Classic?

            It’s the classic line, repeated now so many times as to become a joke – the old timer telling a youngster “When I was your age…” I have vivid memories from my childhood hearing this all the time from various sources. With that refrain constantly rattling around my head I always looked at things with a certain curiosity, wondering what around me would last and how the world might change.
            I always new at some point in my life I would become that old timer, prattling on about the glories of yesteryear. But I didn’t expect it at the age of 27. The reason I bring this up is due to a phrase I overheard the other day. A discussion was being had over that latest must see YouTube video when an older video was referenced and then referred to as on of the classic Internet videos.
            Upon hearing this phrase I had to a pause a moment. Has the web now been around long enough that these often shameful clips of stupidity are now classics? Are the so ingrained in the culture, so widely seen and recognized that the early examples can be thought of as the forebears to today’s unlimited stream of viral clutter? The video in question was “Star Wars Kid”. Is that video so groundbreaking, so seminal in the annals of Internet videodom that it’s now the ‘Citizen Kane’ of web videos or I suppose more aptly the ‘Star Wars’ of web videos?
            It just seems strange to me to label a viral video a ‘classic’. In years to come will people analyze YouTube in classrooms and lecture halls? Will some bespectacled overeducated professor tell a room full of young minds that “everything changed after Star Wars Kid. If it wasn’t for that we never would have had Chocolate Rain.” Or will tomorrow’s youth have no idea about it, because of the ever-increasing amount of new content?
            If it is indeed a “classic” will they one day say “Oh yeah, Star Wars Kid. I’ve heard of it, never seen it though”, as so many today refer to Casablanca or Hitchcock or anything to do with John Wayne. That does seem pretty unlikely if for nothing else than the fact it’ll always be on the Net somewhere. But will people take the few minutes to view “classic viral videos”? It’s that last notion, of people talking about the videos that were so prominent to me as something to know of but not actually know which makes me feel like that Old Timer.
I suppose some of these feelings stem from being part of the last generation to straddle the advent of the Internet. I can still very easily recall the days before computers and the web, but young adults just half a dozen years my junior aren’t so familiar with those times. Which may not be that remarkable a concept, but it does feel weird to feel old or I should say to feel of a different time when talking with those who are considered in my age demographic. I never thought that I would be able to date myself so easily at the age of 27, but when say I’m at a party and spill a drink or step on a foot and then respond in my best Urkel voice with “did I do that?” and draw nothing but blank stares it’s hard not to notice.
It is no secret that today’s youth are over inundated with media from multiple sources, altering the way they are growing up and the experiences they have. What hits home for me are the specific encounters I’ve had that illustrate this point and usually result in me shaking my head. On the rare occasion I find myself talking with a teenager or more commonly having to listen to them on the bus, I often find myself wanting to interrupt and tell them something that starts with “Well when I was your age…”
The idea of a ‘classic’ Internet video may have got me thinking about it but that phrase is by no means the only instance of generational shift. Not so long ago I was strolling through a park when I was passed by a mob of 10-year olds. One of them had come to the park with his nanny but wanted to run off with the other kids and do whatever it is they do these days. So off he ran yelling back over his shoulder at his nanny that he would text her when he was ready to go home. That’s right text her. He was 10.
There was another time last summer I was going up the Grouse Grind. There were three or four early teen boys ahead of me. As I caught up to and them passed them I heard a snippet of their conversation. They were discussing so video game and how to get to a certain level. One of them, when pressed for information, revealed that he had beaten some wizard/giant ape/terrorist by Googling some game codes. At the moment I so wanted to lean over and tell those kids “you know, when I was your age we used to have to buy books that told us about the secret codes and levels of video games.” I didn’t. In part because I was on the Grind and not exactly full of wind to lecture some kids and also because I was afraid of getting tangled up in a discussion about the laziness of using Google to pass video games or having to explain what I meant by ‘books’, because that really would have dated me.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Here We Go Again

            It is the Playoffs.
Let me start by apologizing to all of you non-hockey fans because today is the beginning of what will hopefully be two months of endless stories about the Vancouver Canucks. Not just from me, but from all corners of the media world - radio, television, newspapers, Twitter and Facebook. Not to mention conversations to be overheard at the water cooler, on the bus, Skytrain, restaurants, elevators and my personal favourite source – politicians.
            Yes it’s true. At some point there will be some shameless pandering via the donning of team jerseys at various photo-ops. Because apparently the great-unwashed electorate cannot make decisions based on political platforms or policy but a jersey makes the difference. “Well I don’t really like some of the things her party is doing and it seems like scandal after scandal, but she does like the Canucks so she can’t be all bad.” Or conversely “He says he’s all about the province and doing right by B.C. but I don’t know if I can really trust a guy who doesn’t even support the ‘Nucks.”
            There is also the fact that thanks to the very long and slow process in prosecuting last year’s rioters, the ghosts of playoffs past still hang over the city. Giving strong legs and multiple sidebar stories to the news media. This means that along with the usual stories of school children making some team art, bars and pubs doing great business, local residents vying for most outrageous fan - there will also be a plethora of stories concerning the city. What preparations is the city taking? Do the police have a better plan? Will fans be more respectful?
            So why all the hoop-la? How come the city loses its mind over what is just a game, right? Well for me it breaks down to the fact that people are essentially a tribal animal. Humans have always divided themselves into groups, but as the world or at least this part of the world becomes more diverse these division no longer fall squarely on country, religion or colour. For whatever reason there has always been a mentality of us against them, if you’re not with us you’re against us. That my side is better than your side, whether it be Coke vs. Pepsi (Coke) or Kirk vs. Picard (Picard). When you add all that to a natural desire for competition, a want to be the victor, to be better than the other guy and toss in a healthy dose of wanting to be entertained you get this hectic sports mania.
            Since it is no long acceptable to join together in roving bands of looters and warriors, to go from town to town and pillaging to satiate a thirst to be number one – professional sports seems a great way to appease that yen.  It is just a way to unite people, to bring them together to cheer for a common cause. That’s why it doesn’t matter whether you’re from a family of long time hockey players, sports fanatic, new immigrant falling in love with the game or even a politician trying to curry favour with the voters.
            It is in the vein that I along with so many thousands of others have bent a knee and sworn allegiance to banner Canuck. To cheer loudly for our armoured champions as they head out to battle the enemy. To prove that our city is better than your city because our local sports team beat your local sports team.  Which to me is a whole lot saner than any actual war.
            So to those non-hockey fans I mentioned earlier be warned, the playoffs are here.  Allow yourselves to be swept up in the wave. At the least you must have a friend or two who are fans, so go and join them for a game. Gather in a crowd at a bar or a room full of people to share in the joy and excitement of playoff hockey. Wave a towel and lose your voice cheering for our chosen champions as they battle these invading men who would call themselves Kings.
            Nucks be with you.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Get On Your Bikes And Ride

            I did it.
            I learned to ride a bike…thank you thank you. You’re far too kind, please take your seats – what? Roses? For me? This is all too much to handle at one time. I mean this was really a labour of love, something I’ve been working at for 20 years now. So to finally see it come to fruition and be greeted with such a warm response is a little overwhelming.
            Now that I’ve ‘mastered’ the art of cycling I look back and wonder what A) took me so long and secondly what all the fuss was about? I spent maybe an hour or so practicing in an alley before feeling ready to hit the streets – well the side streets, I don’t know why anyone would dare try riding in traffic. I really don’t know if this is a lot of time or very little when compared to the average learning time. Although I’m also not sure there is an average learning time for 27-year old adults.
            Having skipped the whole classic childhood memory thing of first getting your balance and taking off down the street I don’t know how my experience stacks up, but I can say for sure there was more cursing. I have to give many thanks to my teacher Pietra for her kindness and patience. There is no doubt in my mind that holding on to the seat of a person who outweighs you by 100 pounds is much more difficult than steering a child.
But her efforts were not without reward albeit not the same as that parental pride at seeing your child learn and grow or whatever schlock parents feel. I like to think I provided a serious level of amusement. There has to be an entertainment value in seeing a longhaired lout violently swivel his hips in some misguided over compensatory attempt at keeping his balance. I also believe that amusement was provided for any of the residents living in the houses bordering my learning alley.
With my newfound skill acquired the day of my promised public ride had arrived. Although I was able to ride I realized that my goal of riding along the Seawall was a bad idea. I am able to stay up but the steadiness of my riding leaves something to be desired and I figured the Seawall would be awash in too many other bodies. So I decided to take my ride along the beach path at Jericho.
Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with my intended goal. The rain was pretty heavy on my birthday limiting my public debut and when I say public I mean Pietra and Waterman. I still managed to go for a short jaunt and I must say it was awesome. Cruising along the path with the rain falling on my shoulders from above and the ocean and mountains to my right I couldn’t believe how civilized a pastime this cycling thing is.
            Now, the trick will be to not become one of the very individuals I called out in my earlier bike riding post. That is to say now that I have this skill I cannot let it go to waste and I have no intention to. I admit it - riding a bike is really fun. It helps that I chose the beginning of spring to learn this new craft. With the weather supposedly getting better I will now be oft presented with a chance to head out and ride.
I’m not sure how often I will ride and I’m pretty sure I’m still a long ways away from using it as my chief mode of transportation for any of the cross town trips I have to make (for me the automobile is still the best way to get around). But the prospect of taking some sunny summer leisure rides has me quite enthused. I will finish up by yet again calling on those who learned how to ride long ago, but have shelved that skill for years. Get out and ride.
Next up – skating.

Monday, 27 February 2012

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

            I have a confession to make. I do not know how to ride a bicycle.
Now that the gasps of shock and mockery have subsided, allow me to explain. Yes it’s true, in my nearly 27 years on this planet I have somehow avoided learning to ride. I have traveled by three, four and five wheels but never two. Somehow I managed to avoid that classic childhood moment of figuring out that secret balance or whatever it is that one needs to ride a bike. And when I say I somehow avoided it, I mean that I might have tried once without training wheels found it very hard and so vowed to ‘never learn this stupid thing, because who needs to ride a bike anyway.’
            More often than not when I reveal this fact to somebody I am greeted with a wide-eyed look of bewilderment, followed with some sort of query as to how this can be. Which I always find somewhat amusing as it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. Bikes and bike riding just never figured into my life. People are aghast that this most basic of skills has eluded me all these years.
            I suppose that I can sort of relate to this level of shock. Indeed I find myself filled with similar feelings when someone informs me that they have never seen ‘The Godfather’ or eaten some good slow cooked pork belly. Some of you might find that comparison ridiculous, but for me it makes perfect sense because those are things that to me seem like fundamentals for anyone going through life. Fundamentals may seem about strong of a word but I think that just goes to show that everyone has a different take on life and how it should be lived.
            Each and every person leads a different life and it’s when commonalities are found that we find connections to others. And it’s through those connections that we are able to build a fuller and richer existence. It is with that thought in mind that I have now determined to learn the art of the bicycle. Now and then I do find myself thinking that ‘yes, it is a travesty that I can’t ride.’ Especially when I consider the culture of the city in which I have grown up and live. Vancouver is striving to be a green city and is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery to be found. Not to mention the glory that is the Seawall. A wonderful feature of the city that I have never been able to fully enjoy as walking the entire length is a time consuming yet rewarding task. It also makes perfect sense for me to take up cycling as I do not own a car and grow weary of public transport.
            Many of you have heard me profess my intent to learn how to ride before so this might seem like a load of hogwash. But with the warmer weather fast approaching I think I am long overdue and I do relish the chance at proving the naysayers wrong. I have gained a dedicated teacher who thinks it silly that I have no riding ability and is determined to see me ride, even providing a loner bicycle. Perhaps one of the strongest points in favor of this teacher is that she actually rides on a regular basis.
            Many of the peanut-gallery who have expressed shock in the past over my apparent shocking inability, do absolutely no riding of their own. This fact always strikes me as mildly hypocritical. Being mocked and jeered for never learning a skill that my detractors themselves never use seems unfair. Yes, they may have already gained this skill and I have always been told that one never forgets (it’s like riding a bike) but they never use it. I on the other hand am almost always willing to sit down and re-watch The Godfather and am constantly on the look out for my next chance at a decadent pork belly dinner.
            I have no idea how long the learning process will be. It might only be an afternoon or a couple of days or perhaps weeks due to the impending falls and subsequent scraped knees and childlike whimpering – I don’t bounce the same way I used to. But the process starts this week.
            It is now one month till my 27th birthday and although I have no doubt it should not take me that long to learn, I have chosen that day (weather depending) to make my debut. And so, loyal readers, I propose to you that on that day you join me for a tour of the aforementioned Seawall. This call goes out especially to those of you who in the past have scoffed at my lack of ability and yet cannot yourselves remember the last time you went for a ride.
            Finally I will add that if indeed I am successful and do achieve my goal of a birthday ride – of course to be followed by champagne and balloons – that those of you out there should follow my lead and take the time to enjoy one of those things that somebody has once expressed shock you have not done. And should it be watching The Godfather or any other such essential cinematic work I will gladly join you. I’ll even bring the refreshments and to me that sounds like an offer you can’t refuse.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentines Shmalentines

            Love is in the air. Romance is flowing along with plenty of wine. Couples everywhere are rejoicing while single folks are pretending not to care while weeping in there frozen dinners for one. Somewhere a sadistic little toddler is sniping people with arrows and cash registers are exploding at every florist, chocolatier and card shop. It must be Valentine’s Day. Which in my opinion is the worst of the non-holiday event days.
            Other similar non-holiday events are St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. The major difference with these days is that both of them are used as excuses for unnecessary partying and mass consumption of alcohol. Not to mention the less than conservative attire to be worn, particularly on Halloween. Where as this day of love is not used as an excuse to have fun, but instead is a day of forced guilt and affection. A day when we are told how to act and what sort of mood to be in and what to buy, all under the guise that it’s about love.
            Now I don’t want you to think that I’m am anti-love or have some sort of hate-on for Valentine’s Day. It is indeed quite the opposite. I’m all for love and romance, especially of the hopeless kind – you know grand gestures and magical moments and all that other mushy stuff. It’s just that on this day it is forced upon us. To me the idea of a romantic obligation seems like a bit of an oxymoron.
            Also wrapped up in this notion of obliged romance is that it’s all on the men. Over the last few days everywhere I turn I see warning signs to men not to forget the big day. Open the funny pages and all the male characters are fretting because they have to find the perfect gift for their girlfriends/wives/sweethearts. All the while the women are adding more pressure with hits and jabs, while waiting to be swept off their feet.
            It’s not just in the comics where this idea prevails. Flip through the rest of the paper and you can find many other articles telling guys what the perfect gift is and what women really want for Valentine’s Day. And it’s not limited to the print media either. I must have seen half a dozen TV ‘news’ stories in the last week with lead-ins along the lines of  “Well Valentine’s is just around the corner and one local resident is helping out all those guys who haven’t got a clue what to get” or “OK fellas, not sure what to get your special lady, well here is dating advice columnist such and such to tell you what to do and how to do it.”
            I just don’t see how bombarding someone with the notion that if they don’t shell out big for V-Day they’re a lousy partner. I fail to see the romance in a man showing up, gift in hand and saying “Here Sweetie. I got you this and I know you’ll like it because I read all the advice columns, articles, wish lists and even the consumer report on most popular Valentine’s gifts for women…so…sex please”.
            Again I feel I should mention that I am not anti-love or romance, I’m just not a fan of a large build up and emphasis on a single day. I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t do something nice for that special someone today. In fact I think you should, but don’t let it be because you feel obliged. Do it because of the caring and love you may have for one another.
            I also feel that by going to all the trouble of some elaborate dog and pony show to display your love on this single day it diminishes all the other days. It’s as if by going all out on V-day you can slack off all year. But why does it have to be today? Why not three days from now? Or three weeks? What’s wrong with showing up with flowers and making dinner just because it’s a Wednesday or meeting your guy/gal at the end of a day to walk home with them or what have you?
            It just seems to me that if you have a special someone why wait for one day to be outlandish. Why not spread it around all the time and not force each other into spending huge amounts of cash and effort into one day. Anyway I’ve got to go because the stores will be closing soon and I just realized I don’t have the perfect gift yet…Oh God, Oh God, I’m screwed what am I to do. I should have listened more to all those advice columns. Looks like I’ll be sleeping on the couch. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bathroom Poetry

          On a recent night out at the Biltmore I noticed something on one of my visits to the facilities – and no this has nothing to do with dicks or dick jokes. What caught my eye was the vast amount of graffiti on the walls. I have been to the Biltmore many times before but this is the first time I really thought about the ink that covers the bathroom walls so completely. I guess the main query I had was, who wrote all this stuff?
            I found myself wondering several things about these authors. The thing that stuck out the most was my curiosity over who brings Sharpies or big fat permanent markers to the bar? I suppose it would be the same type who carries one around so they can mark-up mailboxes and bus stops. At least I hope it’s the same type, it would be even stranger to me to be leaving for the bar and make sure to grab your marker so you can tag the bathroom. That sort of action shows a level of forethought towards bathroom artwork, which I find to be curious/creepy.
            Something else I couldn’t help but muse on was that despite so much writing on the Biltmore walls and that of many other establishments, I’ve never seen anybody writing on the walls. Which filled me with questions over wall writing etiquette. Are you supposed to wait until the room is cleared before you start? Was the stuff written above the urinal done whilst peeing? Does that ever result in awkward moments with other patrons? See, now I kind of want to catch somebody in the act. I think I would get a modest chuckle walking into the loo to see a guy, junk in one hand and Sharpie in the other leaving his mark.
            I suppose a large part of my interest also goes to the mentality of bathroom tagging and I guess tagging in general. I fail to see the drive behind it. If, indeed it is some sort of turf thing or an ‘I was here’ feeling, then wouldn’t – if caught in the act – the writer turn to me and pump his fist with a little ‘Fuck yeah and shit!’ so I knew it was him. So I knew that I was in the presences of greatness, that I actually saw ‘Stumpy’ or ‘Togsoner’ or ‘FilthBomb’ in person.
            This phenomenon of bathroom tagging is not contained solely within the lavatory of the Biltmore. It is something I have seen at dozens if not hundreds of establishments, as I suspect you have as well. Which means you should be familiar with the two basic types of privy prose. The first being the simple ‘tag’, which when I think about it is most fitting for the bathroom as ‘tags’ tend to be heaping piles of shit. The second form encountered is the small poem or comment – things such as ‘Becky Winston is a bitch’ or ‘for a good time call 778-995-5789’ - at least in the men’s room, not so sure about the other side.
            It’s actually what is written in the ladies room that caused me to dwell so much on the washroom scripture. A day or two before that I was with a friend who told me of some truly great conversations she read written on the stall door of the washroom. They sound very much different than what I am used to reading in the men’s room. This particular conversation started with a girl complaining how fat and ugly she thought she was or something to that effect. As it turned out the response was all positive, several comments left behind reassuring this initial girl that she was wrong and that she was beautiful and other such comforts.
            My friends informed me that this sort of thing is not uncommon, that girls will often write nice things to each other and try and be helpful to the strangers who had previously popped a squat in that particular stall. Again something I found fascinating. This concept opened up a whole new dimension to the bathroom writing mentality that just leaves me with more questions.
            So, I will put those questions to you. If you, loyal reader, can shed any light on the practice of bathroom tagging, poetry, conversations and any form of stall messaging please do. If you have engaged in this practice yourself then help me understand why? If you have ever caught somebody in the act of writing on the walls/stalls of a bathroom please share. Lastly, if you for some reason can recall a particularly memorable piece of writing you’ve read then share that story.