Vancouver Day 2 (or, the day I learned the East Hastings Shuffle)

After waking up to a long and glorious pass-out kind of sleep, it was time to start the day! Mike, Steve and I took the bus downtown to Robson. I couldn’t believe how fucking HUGE this city was in comparison to cowtown. Just the apartments probably take up more room that the entire downtown of my city. The transit system os about 10000% better in Vancouver as well. Who knew you could get from city hall all the way downtown in like 10 minutes?!
We ended up on Robson because we were going to the Art Gallery. We got to Robson a bit early, so we wandered down to the infamous corner street on Robson that has a Starbucks on 2 of the 4 corners. Sadly, I am not surprised by this, although you spin in a circle and bask in the irony.
Along Robson, Mike took us into a store he liked, and to my delight the theme of the store that month was Mexican Wrestlers. My boyfriend happens to have a wrestling mask he bought while on an exchange semester in Mexico, and they had an action figure with the same mask! Sadly, this action figure was pretty much a bazillion dollars, so I couldn’t buy it…

Le sigh…expensive action figures…

(Oddness outside the gallery…)
Anyhow, we eventually met Dusan and headed to the gallery! Outise the gallery, around 20 Chinese people were on a hunger strike to support the abolishon of Communist terrorism directed the population of China. Hundreds of photos were posted on boards in front of the protestors of the mutilation and torture that the Communists put these people through. Hollowed, pussing gaps in skin, people brittle and frail from starvation.
I signed the petition. It’s nice to see a politically active city.

The first floor contained an extensive collection of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures the museum has collected over its history. I saw a handful of paintings by the group of seven, and to my shock, two Andy Warhol paintings of Mao!

It’s extremely surreal to see a work of art you’ve been fascinated by. Even the shock of seeing such a culturally historical piece of art is enough to take anyone’s breath away, but to see Andy Warhol?! I think I spent the most time on the first floor standing in front of the Andy Warhol pieces because I’ve never been around a widely recognized piece of art before. I’ve spent many a day at a museum, but to be in the presence of something like this was refreshing to my artistic core.
The second floor was filled with works by Jungen. I can’t remember his first name at present, but here’s what his stuff was all about:

“Through the transformation of consumer goods and common materials into symbolic sculptures and installations, Jungen examines cultural norms and social issues. The artist is perhaps best known for his Prototype for New Understanding series (1998-2005), 23 startling simulations of Northwest Coast Aboriginal masks fabricated from disassembled athletic shoes. Through this ingenious manipulation, the artist collides two seemingly different commodities-globally branded footwear and revered First Nation’s artwork.”

Totally intense!!! I loved this stuff. I mean, to make a statement about Native culture and commercialism like that just blows my mind. He even made a teepee out of something like 11 leather couches! What the deuce?! And a whale skeleton out of lawn chairs?! This man is a testiment to contemporary art at its finest. Haunting and well-spoken, without using a single word…
The 3rd floor took us to Tanako Tanabe, a Japanese man who is speding his time living in Vancouver. This man’s work shocked and impressed me immensely as well.

Does the above painting even LOOK like a painting to you?! He uses canvas that is about 3 feet high and six feet long to create masterpieces that look EXACTLY like the landscape he is surrounded by. I’ve never seen anyone with this much acute attention to detial. He is completely in love with his craft.
The last floor was dedicated to my favorite Canadian painter, Emily Carr. After studying her work for many months in school, it was haunting to be in rooms where I was surrounded by her work. Being around an artist’s work that I’ve researched and admired to me is like going into someone’s bedroom and rifling through their things after they’ve died. I just feel like I’m trespassing on such personal memories and moments in their lives. I got a lot of that feeling when I was on the Emily Carr Floor. I was completely enchanted by the grand pieces she created. And to think that more than 50 of her works are buried in a Vancouver park!

One of my favorite parts about the museum was the part of the Emily Carr floor for kids. Someone had asked a child about where they get inspiration to be artistic, and my favorite quote was, “I think…then I draw a line around my think.” I think that’s what art is all about.

After all that art and no food, it was time to hit up one of the thousands of Starbucks for a coffee treat! We ended up in a Starbucks inside of a 3-floor Chapters! I felt so tiny!
When rejuvinated by caffiene, we decided we’d make a night-time treck to Chinatown! This required a lot of walking, but we were over confident and hyper, so we decided to do it.
We took a detour through Gastown so that I could see the infamous and not-so exciting steam powered street clock.

See how I made a grumpy Mike and Steve pose for a tourist picture?! Fantastic!
Anyhow, after a long, LONG walk Mike stated that we’d be going through East Hastings, notoriously the worst street for poverty in Canada. I was really interested to see what it would be like, because in a social work class last semester Steve and I had seen a documentary about a drug addict living on East Hastings.
You couldn’t possibly imagine what this place is like. not even the documentary did East Hastings justice. Obviously I have no photos, because taking out my $600 camera and snapping pictures of hobos and addicts wouldn’t have ended up well. In fact, you can’t even really find pictures on the internet! But to give a description…
The first thing that hit me was the foul stench of urine that coated the streets. Pieces of half-eaten, stale food lies scattered on the pavement and on the mailboxes. Needles are disgarded as wrecklessly as a piece of garbage. Needless to say, this is where I invented the “East Hastings Shuffle,” a dance strategically designed to avoid being stabbed in the foot by a used needle! As we walked through Hastings, I caught eye of a man running in our direction…FAST. I wondered if he was tripping out. He kept running…faster…and directly at us as we crossed a street.
I thought, holy shit, I am going to get stabbed by this man. This is it.
He didn’t stab me, but instead ran right up beside me, looked at me (okay, he had a lazy eye, so he didn’t so much look AT me as he looked AROUND me), said a nonchalant, “hey!” and ran off.
We end up walking through East Hastings for much longer than we should have, much later than we should have, but the odd thing is that no one harassed us. We passed a hooker, a man doing meth right on the sidewalk, and a variety of homeless people offering us any kind of drug we’d ever be able to think of. My favorite offer?

“Hey! I got what you need. Weed, rock, Helly Hansen pants?”

Well I don’t know about the weed and rock, but let’s see where you got those Helly Hansen pants!!! (no, we didn’t stop to look, but I still wonder where the shit he got the idea that we’d want to buy pants from him…)

After passing through another few blocks of Hastings, and strategically avoiding a large vomit puddle, we were out of Hastings.

Back to reality.

No litter on the streets. No homeless around…and yet, the worst poverty I’ve ever seen sits just a block or two from the bus stop back home…

I’ll never forget the pain and confusion that haunts the street there. I completely commend anyone willing to get right into the rough of it and help these people. for the first time I actually questioned whether I was strong enough of a person to put myself in such pain and poverty and work in an organization that assists these people.

I haven’t found an answer yet.

After returning to the familiar layer of Mike’s apartment, we settled down to watch some episodes of Dead Like Me (which is a really great show, if you haven’t seen it).

Worn out, I left Vancouver and entered the haze of slumber.

What could day three possibly hold for us?


6 Responses to “Vancouver Day 2 (or, the day I learned the East Hastings Shuffle)”

  1. 1 tjam March 1, 2006 at 6:02 am

    That shoe art is crazy!! I love the friendly lazy eye guy. I’d like to see you end up at Ronald McDonald house (no crazy drug addicts just creepy clowns).

  2. 2 Ultra Toast Mosha God March 1, 2006 at 9:48 am

    Maybe Helly Hansen pants is slang for Heroin.

    Mybe he just does a sweet line in pantalons. Who can say.

    The artwork you saw is fantastic.

    I especially like the quote from the child

    Truth and wisdom really do come from from the untainted minds of the innocent.

  3. 3 Okami March 1, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    The First Nations work is absolutely inspiring – utterly surreal. It treads that line between a culture on the brink of being lost and an attempt to adapt to its imposed and uncomfortable surroundings. (Still can’t believe those are lawn chairs!)

    I’m ashamed to admit that this is the first opportunity I have ever had to see Emily Carr’s work. I had no idea her colours were so vivid.

    And I agree with Ultra – the child’s quote was the highlight of the tour! What a joy!

    After sitting through that social work video not once, but twice, your descriptions of it gave me goosebumps as I could recall full portions of the film. I am now going to run at you full power and say “hey”…

    Can’t wait for day three!

  4. 4 Reeeeeens March 2, 2006 at 2:38 am

    Lauren, we saw a movie on east hasting Urban Sociology. It must have been so surreal walking down that street…eeep how brave you guys are! I remember in sociology we learned that most likely the homeless would be least probably to attack you in any way, cause they are so stigmitized against……..ANYWAYS i am glad you had such a good trip and i can’t wait to see more pictures!

  5. 5 Reeens March 2, 2006 at 2:39 am

    by probably i mean probable…errrrrr

  6. 6 Xrayeagle March 2, 2006 at 2:49 am

    Man, I blacked out the whole museum! Oh, his first name is Brian. Man, I remember his first name, but not seeing him! ha ha ha!

    Hastings was interesting.

    Little known fact, me and Steve are talking about pornstars in the picture. They frequent the starbucks in the background!

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March 2006
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262728293031 collective fashion consciousness.


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