Living in Vancouver is kind of a weird thing. I am constantly being told by friends and acquaintances from elsewhere how much they would love to settle down here. Frankly, I don’t see it. It rains, it snows, it rains some more, and booze is way too expensive. Maybe I am just snobby. At least, that’s what Shadi Bozorg believes. What is the problem with Vancouverites, anyways? Why can’t we just be happy living in a small city with poor transit and a lot of tourists? To be completely honest, I am down with that. But a lot of people tend to want to believe that Vancouver is much more awesome than it actually is.
Which is the problem with the following piece: most people are just too stubborn to accept the fact that the whole “Vancouver is great” discourse really shouldn’t be a discourse at all.
The Vancouver Complex
SOCIAL COMMENTARY | JUNE 18, 2013 BY SHADI BOZORG
Oh yes. I’ve got the bourbon out *cracks knuckles*, it’s time for a rant. (Fucking ouch, I really shouldn’t have done the knuckle-cracking thing.)
When I relaunched my blog, I was fully intent on staying away from the jaded-teenager-I-hate-the-world type rants and instead put up a drunken facade and talked about sex and general douchebaggery. But as the abovementioned piece is a completely inaccurate depiction of the place I have called home for the past fifteen years, I could not help but feel as if the author of this piece has fallen into the trap that is “alright team, let’s figure out how to get more viewers!”
And before I even start, let two things be known. The first thing being I do not hate Vancouver. I love living here. But not because of the reasons the piece above is suggesting. In fact, I love Vancouver for all the reasons she does not suggest. All the shitty little things about Vancouver that I fucking hate on a regular basis: that’s home, and that’s what I love.
Secondly, let it be known that this is not some cheap below-the-belt shot to Miss Shadi Bozorg. I am not picking apart what is meant to be a obviously partial “social commentary” piece because Miss Bozorg is probably more successful a writer than I getting published regularly while I am stuck doing editorial bitch-work, or because the photograph in that piece makes no sense and does not contribute in any way, shape, or form to the point she is trying to get across. I am picking it apart because it was poorly written, in that it represents the narrow-minded experiences of a small minority of the populace (which include bougie hipsters/yuppies, people who agree with other people who have such opinions because all of their friends on Facebook do too, or because HOLY SHIT there’s a piece about MY city published on a local website!).
I am picking it apart because to have any real supposed snooty superiority “Vancouver Complex”, one must first accept the premise that there is something about the city that makes it better than all the others to begin with. And anybody with half a brain knows that this is not true. Which effectively means Vancouverites who think Vancouverites have a superiority “Vancouver Complex” are really just delusional, and those are the type of people that we should be worried about, and not the guy flying sixteen Canucks flags on his truck so everybody on the way to Tim Horton’s can see that he is a proud Vancouverite.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that this city is really fucking spectacular. Gorgeous is often an understatement. It’s a land of majestic wonder and exquisiteness. On any given day you can look out your window and find something to be in awe of. It seems that there’s beauty in every single corner.
Great opening, but uh, fuck no. I do not know what you have been smoking (hook. that. shit. up.) but I do not look out my window every morning and think I am living in a wonderland. On my one day off a week (Sunday), I am usually woken by the sounds of renovations or by the Korean family next door that let their kids out to play in the yard at nine-in-the-fucking-morning, where they will run around and scream and I will get fed up and scream at them from my bed and they will scream back and it is like a game to them and I am dying inside. On all other days I wake up with a cramp and go work ten hours a day to support my interests and lifestyle, and usually get so stressed out by the end of it that taking a look around for something magnificent and inspiring is not the first thing on my agenda, going home to get toxic and take a massive shit is. That’s right, Vancouverites have regular jobs and regular lives, just like the inhabitants of every other fucking city in the world that are supposedly second-tier to us. We do not live in a city of (much less “a land of”) majestic wonder and exquisiteness snorting pixie dust and hanging out with unicorns. Having to go to work fucking sucks!
We consistently rank high up on the list of most beautiful cities on earth. We’re known worldwide as one of best places to live. People travel across the globe to check out our mountains, our legendary parks and beaches – even our steam clock. We hosted one of the greatest Olympics of all time. Oh, and what’s that about Hollywood North? Fuck Hollywood. Hollywood wishes it was Vancouver.
The first time I read a piece saying that Vancouver was voted the most beautiful city to live in, I was standing at a grimy-looking bus stop getting cigarette smoke and cold air blown into my face waiting for the bus, which drove straight through without stopping and I had to walk down two blocks in the pouring rain to catch another one. This pretty much sums up most Vancouverite commuters’ morning experiences living in the most beautiful city in the world.
So, we have a couple of nice green parks and a nude beach or two. You can find that shit in Guatemala. And of course people travel across the globe to take pictures of a stupid steam clock that bums regularly pee on. They’re fucking tourists, it is literally what they do. It is the same thing as traveling to Hawaii to meet people who are not really locals but (seasonal) migrant workers and take pictures of stupid exotic-sounding-rainbow-colored booze that the natives there have never even heard about.
Also, our Olympics was a’ite. It was mostly just about more tourists taking pictures all over downtown and being told to go down another direction when they ventured a little bit too far into Hastings. The only thing it really did for me was give me two weeks off from classes, which was awesome because I just spent the time boozing up, having sex with my ex-girlfriend, and not really watching the games. I think our hockey team won though so Go Canucks Go!
And yeah sure, we have a view of the mountains, temperate climate, killer weed, and all that other good stuff. But we also have a way-below-par transportation infrastructure, so you cannot actually get to any of those great locations to do those great things before it gets dark and rainy and miserable out. Our bridges and roads are old and narrow, and our dickhead tree-hugger city officials are flirting with the idea of further narrowing the bridges for a “green way”. The most recent bridge we had rebuilt had like two weather-related closures within the first month of operations or some shit like that. Also, I would like to point out that our “it costs $80 million to run annually” skytrain system runs its last train from downtown at 1:16 AM, including on Friday and Saturday nights. People are always bitching about the economy, well keep the trains going for another hour and keep the fucking restaurants and bars and entertainment open for another hour. Am I seriously the only one who has thought of this?
Lest this piece turn into a political rant (which are really fucking boring because I did four years of that shit and I would know), for the sake of argument let’s just say our politicians do dick-all. Which is really only marginally important as an impartial statement because only about a quarter of our residents actually bother voting. And also, the free healthcare thing? My friends south of the 49th, you aren’t missing out on all that much. It becomes increasingly evident the longer you have lived here that the only reason our healthcare is “free” is because the services are so awful that nobody would pay for them if they weren’t. Also, our citizens trash the city whenever we lose a hockey game.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there aren’t tons of rad people to meet in Vancouver, because there are. There are millions. Meeting them is the issue. Vancouverites tend to be unapproachable. This happened when we let our city overcompensate for our communication skills. Everyone feels inclined to stay within their tight-knit circles. We’re more of a meet-people-through-friends-of-friends rather than a meet-people-through-random-interactions kind of city. Making eye-contact with strangers in public will usually get you a “What the hell are you lookin’ at, weirdo?” response rather than a “Hey, neighbour!”
Also, Vancouverites tend to be unapproachable? No. People with smartphones tend to be unapproachable. It does not take a genius to figure out that when you have a (substantially large) population who would rather be taking pictures of food to put on Instagram or playing Words With Friends with the person sitting across the table from them as they wait for the food to arrive, than have an actual conversation about something, that people tend to be a little hard to approach. It is not rocket science. When was the last time you saw two complete strangers (homeless people do not count) strike up an interesting conversation about anything that is too long to put into 140 characters? NEVER. Because nobody gives a shit about what anybody else around them is doing because they are all busy scratching their balls or looking at their phones. This is not a Vancouver thing. Thanks for pointing out the most obvious trend in the past five years EVERYWHERE.
Long story short, people who believe there is this intangible “Vancouver Complex” probably just watched too many Molson commercials. Or they are just really proud of the weed they are selling. Either way, it is stupid and slightly degrading to the city I call home. I would like to think that my neighbors and I know something sucks when we see it, and that we choose to live in Vancouver despite of that. Because despite having to tread through some form of precipitation ten-plus months a year to get from place to place on a shitty transit system and having those stupid fucking five-year-old kids next door that I will probably snap and beat up one day, I put up with it because it is what it is.
As I have said. I love living in Vancouver. And I for one, can say that I do not have some snobby superiority complex as a Vancouverite. Nor does your average Vancouverite. And you know why? Because Vancouver fucking sucks. This city sucks in just as many ways as other cities suck. And it is constantly finding creative ways to suck. But it is home, and if home happens to have blue skies and green mountains (and delicious weed), then that’s cool. That’s wonderful. But it does not change the fact that having to shovel the driveway is a fucking stupid exercise that should be abolished by law altogether. The government needs to just give us all snow blowers. Fuck yeah!
Yeah, I am probably drunk.