RAISING KIDS AMID THE YUPPIES, HIPSTERS AND FLAKES IN VANCOUVER’S TRENDIEST NEIGHBORHOOD
(A response to Mike Comrie: “Raising Kids amid the hookers, junkies and drunks of Vancouver’s worst neighbourhood”, National Post, April 20, 2012 To read original article click on http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/04/20/mike-comrie-raising-kids-amid-the-hookers-junkies-and-drunks-of-vancouvers-worst-neighbourhood/ )
Main and 14th Ave. Otherwise known as Mount Pleasant, in the heart of Vancouver’s newly affluent east side. I’m walking home from the Library with my two sons Tylerdurden and Dolemite, aged 6 and 3. As we approach, a yuppie makes an awkward attempt to parallel park his orange SUV with “HIS” on the personalized license plate. Across the street is an identical orange SUV with the license plate reading “HERS”. All the while he is listening to Maroon 5 at full volume.
I hope my kids don’t see, but they can certainly hear “She Will Be Loved”.
For the past 6 years our family has lived in an over-priced one-bedroom apartment in the midst of condos that seem to be springing up like toxic mushrooms. The condos are all themed with bland names like “DoMAIN” and “DWELL” and my favorite “SOMA”, presumably named after Brave New World’s drug that dumbed-down the sexless, self-hypnotized masses.
Another of these condo units has sprung up, almost overnight. I distract my kids by pointing at a huge piece of dog shit, hoping they’ll remember that instead of the flake-itorium on the corner. If there’s one thing I can count on, it’s dog shit on the sidewalk. At least the yuppies haven’t taken that away. As long as there’s dog shit on the sidewalk, I know I’m in East Van. I imagine in the future they’ll have shit-free dogs, but not yet. Not yet.
We walk down Main past a rash of faux diners. Could I ever explain to my boys that 15 years ago these used to be real diners? Affordable “greasy spoons” once lined this street. I would eat there daily, at a real bar on a real stool eating real apple pie with real human beings. What’s the sense in knocking down actual diners and replacing them with fake ones that look like they were designed for an episode of Smallville?
They have names like “Cafeteria” and “Lucy’s Eastside Diner”, 15 years ago they were called “All Day Breakfast” and “Chinese Canadian Food” offering cheap eats for the working class. Tylerdurden looks up at me with his giant curious kid eyes and asks “Daddy? What’s the working class?”
I answer “You remember those dinosaurs from your colouring book? That’s the working class, kid. They all went extinct because it was more cost-effective.”
We walk past another coffee shop. Two yuppies slurp sushi-flavoured lattes while whining about the price of their condo units. How does one wind up in a condo? A series of increasingly poor decisions, I imagine. While every yuppie’s story is sad one, I must shield my precious offspring as long as possible.
Housing prices are what they are in Vancouver. Not that I’m even remotely aware how much a condo would cost because I rent, and will rent until my dying day, and then I will rent my coffin.
Once, I watched two yoga enthusiasts comparing apple iphones in front of the playground where my kids eat their liverwurst sandwiches! I threw their lunch bags over their heads, raced home and forced them to watch “Manufacturing Consent”, but the damage had been done.
Sooner or later these ipeople will be crushed by their immense debt load and wind up right back in the same apartments they presently disdain. The global economy will collapse and we’ll all be back to wearing barrels as clothing and balancing on stacks of chairs for entertainment. As a life-long broke person, my life will be pretty much unaffected. My lower-class kids will be well-prepared when Mount Pleasant returns to its original working/lower-class roots. I’m betting on anti-gentrification. Hoping. Praying. Pleading.
And then, god-willing, the yuppie pricks who write Op-Ed pieces in the National Post will wind up sleeping under their own newspapers.
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