City Of Industry

GastownPhoto

Gastown today, 8am. Pretty fog over Coal Harbour with mountains and stuff. Latte steam spills out from smokestacks, where hipsters are communing. “Dude, how was your show last night?” they will ask one another. Massive shipping container cranes, a.k.a. The Giraffes, poke through the fog, as if to ask “what cargo are we moving today? iPad Mini’s? Cans of lichee fruit? Maybe some more of those Nike Air Force 1’s and pirated Tyler Perry DVD’s? We would just like to know.” They are as inquisitive as they are hardworking – but also majestic.

Beware IT Vikings

Viking
Viking

 

I was just eavesdropping on two rad bros with matching cardigans, specs and Macklemore haircuts (I think that’s what you call them anyway), sipping lattes, and heatedly discussing “API’s” and their “next round of funding”, which is pretty normal fare for Gastown, except for the part where one of them checked their phone and quickly packed his Macbook while saying, “looks like I gotta go crack some skulls.” Somewhere a Viking is turning over in his grave.

Healthy Choices And Positivity In 2015

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Happy New Year, u guys. Let’s make 2015 a great one. If you’re like me you’re not wasting any time and starting the new year off with a lot of positivity and healthy choices and you’re currently dining at the Fort Lauderdale Airport chapter of Chili’s.

Did you know Chili’s’ slogan is “Licensed To Grill”? Do you get it? There’s a sign that says that right above my table. It’s a playful nod to James Bond and also to state-sanctioned murdering, which is pretty heavy considering this is a family restaurant.

If we’re being fair I guess you could say Chili’s *is* in the murder business, but only to “murder” their competition with their superior offering of reasonably priced and delicious entrees – not to mention their friendly staff, who really seem to go the extra mile. Frankly, if you ask me, these guys are so far ahead of the game it’s not even fair.

Holiday Bonding

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Merry Xmas gang, hope you’re having an awesome day with your families. I’m spending the afternoon with my dad, both of us laid out on couches by the TV. We’ve got pretzels and Sam Adams and I thought we’d probably watch some of the ESPN “30-for-30” marathon. But the old man pulled rank and insisted we instead watch a Guy Fieri cooking show and then “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”. He fell asleep 5 minutes into the movie and now I can’t find the remote. Dad is probably sleeping on top of it. This is basically what inspired that “Cats In The Cradle” song.

Let’s Be Civilized, Like Cavemen

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Here’s a crazy fact about our ancestors that you probably remember from History class: we used to live in tiny houses. Whole families shared huts that were basically drafty broom closets, because “small” also meant “warm”, and staying cozy in the Stone Age hacienda was a top priority, along with evading woolly mammoths and things with sabre-teeth.

Small homes also meant no privacy. Everything you did – eating, sleeping, whittling, sexing – was to an audience. It must have been awkward pretty much always, yet on the plus side there was, literally, no room for fighting.

If you suspected Cousin Thag of stealing your favourite sharp rock, you couldn’t passive-aggressively ignore him because he slept two feet away from you. You couldn’t slip an herbal laxative into Thag’s food because you all ate from the same clay pot. You couldn’t even libel Thag in the press because there was no press yet and you were not a wizard.

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Conflicts, then, needed swift resolution, which meant talking things out ASAP. Sure, you could escalate to wrestling or maybe trading blows with a club until one of you bled a lot, but neither of those options was really popular.

So talking things out became the ultimate problem-solver, and not only for settling arguments but also for keeping the day-to-day stuff running smoothly. (“Carl, whose turn was it to lay out the mammoth trap? We need to figure that out before everybody goes to bed. Also we need to deal with that draft in the hut, before the Great Long Freezing Time comes – also you should maybe bathe again. Alright, good talk.”)

We got to be great talkers, and it was good.

And then a funny thing happened: as we evolved and technology progressed; we harnessed the power of fire, modern science, naked selfies, etc.; we began to devolve as communicators; we got less good at the “talking” thing.

Fast forward to today and, at least in the First World, things have become too good and easy – to the point where we no longer need to constantly talk things out in order to survive, and our conversational muscles have atrophied.

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People point to social media and video games as examples of how bad it’s gotten. It’s true that it’s probably not healthy to only communicate via Twitter or to go on a 30-hour World of Warcraft bender, occasionally barking at Mom for more nachos while your online avatar idly threatens other avatars with rape. But those folks seem more like outliers than the norm.

Air travel is the way better example; the ultimate indicator of how the most affluent and educated of us – that is, those who can afford a plane ticket – are behaving and, at the risk of stating the obvious, it’s fucking horrible.

It’s perhaps best embodied by the recent saga of the Knee Defender. This, of course, is the infamous air travel gadget that’s quietly been on sale for about a decade, but only recently made international headlines.

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Available for purchase online, for the sociopathic air traveler in your life, the Knee Defender comprises a pair of plastic claws that attach to an airline passenger’s seatback that, once in place,  restrict said seat from reclining in front of you, preserving your own knee room. The Defender is selling well because it’s cheap and evidently effective at its intended purpose, which is to incite a riot at 35,000 feet.

See, it turns out passengers don’t like being tricked into keeping their seatbacks un-reclined: so much so that there have been numerous reported in-flight violent incidents related to the Knee Defender’s use, even resulting in flights being diverted to eject those unruly passengers.

Obviously starting a fight on an airplane is idiotic, but there could be no other outcome with the Knee Defender. It would be like sitting at a bar, pulling out a slingshot and firing it at a fellow patron, and then acting surprised when he, in turn, knocks you out. (In my defense I had just bought the slingshot and could not wait to use it. But lesson learned)

Or perhaps imagine looking for a seat on a crowded bus and seeing an otherwise empty chair being occupied by one of those “fake vomit” novelty gags, because a passenger placed it next to his own seat to free up more space for his elbows. You don’t question the vomit’s veracity because you’re a reasonable person, who understands sometimes vomit happens, especially on buses. You move on your way, but you’ve been had – bamboozled by a jerk with rubber puke and boundary issues. Not a nice feeling — actually that may not be a perfect analogy, because there are obviously times when fake vomit is absolutely called for, whereas there is never an appropriate occasion for the Knee Defender.

To wit, the gadget has since been banned by most Canadian and American airlines, which is as it should be. But it does beg the question, how did we even get to the point were people thought the Knee Defender in any way resembled a “good idea”?

The answer is, of course, we’re sadly at the point where we’d prefer to use an absurd gadget rather than talk things out, like our cave-dwelling ancestors.

Sure, pre- Knee Defender, air travel etiquette wasn’t perfect – once in a while an irate man-child would refuse to turn off his smartphone during takeoff, or a crazed zealot would try to ignite a bomb he hid inside his underoos, but at least you were assured no one would use  a pair of plastic hair clips to sadistically lock down their neighbour’s seat, like a true psychopath.

So that’s the takeaway here, for all of us. Talk things out. It should apply at 35,000 feet and on terra firma. Don’t resort to using passive-aggressive gadgets; don’t be a sociopath with air miles. Let’s go back to using our mouth-holes, like reasonable communicators; let’s get back to talking things out and being civilized, just like the Caveman ancestors.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

urban archery

FYI just wanna send out a big Thank You to my nameless upstairs neighbour, who, early this morning, heroically took it upon himself to confirm what we had all perhaps assumed, but were never 100% clear on: if you and your associate decide to get black-out drunk, grab your old-timey bow and quiver of arrows, and threaten to shoot said arrows from your 30th floor balcony, then the SWAT team will definitely come and take you away.

Airport Nachos + Skinny Jeans

I typed the words "nachos airport skinny jeans" into Google and this is the photo I got. No idea.
I typed the words “nachos airport skinny jeans” into Google and this is the photo I got. No idea.

I am currently eating at a T.G.I.Friday’s, located next to my gate at Dallas/Ft.Worth Int’l Airport, enjoying the hell out of something called “Loaded Skillet Chip Nachos.” I am sad because I don’t think I will ever eat anything this delicious again.

Also, how’s this for weird: Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” is playing on the stereo. At a T.G.I.Friday’s. In Dallas. I mean it definitely sounds like Arcade Fire, but it could just be a chipotle-fuelled hallucination. It also begs the question, how many servings of Loaded Skillet Nachos could I safely put away before I tear my skinny jeans? I intend to find out.

Rock Violin or: Things You Shouldn’t See At A Boxing Match

I am occasionally asked if we have a distinct style in Quebec – a unique sensibility that permeates how we present ourselves and what makes us tick. Beyond the obvious bilingualism, what else separates us from the rest of the country; from BC’s unhurried coastal cool, from Albertan cowboy oil-&-gas swagger, from the quaint modesty of the Prairies, and the seafaring bonhomie of the Maritimes?

The answer is yes, we Quebecois have our own style. It’s called “One notch too far” or alternatively: “the result of overfunded arts programs.”

It’s the bad-ass looking biker dude who sewed “flames” onto his leather jacket. It’s the businessman who chooses to unicycle to work. We take a delicious char-grilled rib steak, and smother it in macaroons. We like to take things too far and ruin them, is what I’m saying.

We are indeed a “distinct society” – one that is distinguished by its lack of taste, tact, and…cool. We just aren’t inherently cool. The latest version of homegrown stylistic sadism reared its bedazzled head the other night, at a boxing match of all places. In fine Quebecois form, the mid-bout entertainment wasn’t the expected rock band or hip-hop DJ. No, it was option # 3: leather-clad rock violinist. Obviously. What, were you expecting something…cooler? Not here homie.

Apologies for the low-quality photos – I was shaking in incredulity throughout the display and couldn’t keep my camera steady.

 

 

Monsieur “Rock Violinist” flounced and fiddled his way through 10 minutes of  “Le Violon Roquant!” – delivering the whole arena to a dark, awkward place. Why did he have to leap around so much? Why a leather suit?? How many boxing fans were digging this?? (immediate anecdotal evidence at the venue suggested a roughly 0% take rate).