Espresso Street 

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Presumably while you sip your espresso: a combusting marshmallow, scenes from my refrigerator, a quick peck and another crustacean story.

MaikoPunk and I walked down The Street to find our own Espresso Stories.

In Vancouver there are a few other spiffy neighbourhoods.

Commercial Drive, or simply The Drive, is a busy place and the easternmost boundary of diehard Vancouverites. Parallel with Commercial are the dull bores of Nanaimo, Rupert and Renfrew. I've been told I fit in there most, out of all of Vancouver's nieghbourhoods.

Yet, The Drive is tainted in my eyes. A friend got the shit beaten out of her there and I've never entirely warmed up to the place afterwards.

Then there is Downtown. I lump Davie Street, Yaletown, Granville and Robson all together. Davie Street is a gay mecca and the best of the four, though parking is too much of a problem downtown to make it good enough for me. Yaletown is the most sterile reminder that this is Vancouver. I know Vicki Gabereau's hair dresser there and all she does in her spare time is flop her boobs out for the camera. Granville sucks, especially now that my favourite Brit Pop night is gone. Robson, that's where men with two-inch dicks turn their car stereos up to deafening.

The Downtown Eastside/Chinatown; what a hoot if you like the smell of fresh urine. I rather like Strathcona and it's cutesy houses, but I would hate raking the syringes from my lawn.

Gastown is my new semi-decent choice of a neighbourhood. Adjoining the Downtown Eastside, a junkie helped me look for what I thought was my stolen car last time I was there. I used to work nearby, for a wine-and-spirits company, and my lunch hour walks took me past discarded condoms and people who fancied my yellow umbrella. More importantly, Gastown has Sanctuary on Sunday nights. Still, that makes Gastown a one-hit wonder. You'll have to do better than that.

Then there is Kitsilano. I like it. Busy. Lots of people who say hi. The only problem is the stores are expensive. And the people who don't say hi have an annoying habit of just tanning on a really bad beach. They can't seem to be able to do anything else. Well, sometimes they play drums or pretend to throw around a frisbee until it hits some girl's dog. While I might consider living in Kits for the proximity to humanity, I would hardly be a model citizen of their bronzed numbers.

Lower Granville Street is too genteel for most of us - nice old apartment buildings; since my friend Sara moved away, though, the place has been lacklustre.

Now we come to Main Street. Usually referring as a neighbourhood to the bit south of Broadway, as opposed to the sketchy part in the Downtown Eastside, it's the already upped-and-comed neighbourhood of Vancouver.

Main Street was supposed to be my street. I have the designated parking spot, the sort of film experience I go for, the restaurant where I am such a regular they no longer try to pour tea on my lap, the collage mecca, the impromptu palm-readings at street corners, the people who like clouds and nod appreciatively when I mention Jan Svankmajer.

Somehow the dream went all wrong. Instead of busy and bustling, I got foggy and forlorn. It was like the set of 28 Days Later, only not perfect. That one morning ruined it for me.

Hastings Street - The Street - is a rugged loner. In the borders of Burnaby, the next city over from Vancouver, it is at the outer reaches of the true Vancouverite imagination, a frontier. Most Vancouverites know Hastings only from its inception at the epicentre of the Downtown Eastside. Even me, for the longest time, I only drove or bussed through.

MaikoPunk suggested it first for the site of our Espresso Stories. Though I thought of all the usual reasons nothing can happen outside of the borders of True Vancouver (bound by 20th on the south and Commercial on the east), I agreed to walk down The Street.

Busy enough for my tastes. People everywhere, not like my pot-busted neighbourhood. The stores were cheap; less than ten dollars for sweet woodruff, bitter melon, grapefruit mint, a strawberry plant, Thai basil and a book on terrariums (my soon-to-be new hobby - everyone, prepare to receive a terrarium). Friendly people too, the grocery store owner who took much interest in my plant-buying habit, the nice guy determined to help us find the coffee shop of our dreams, the bookstore clerk that offered to scout out for me books on Japanese vegetables. People who actually talk to you, not through you. And Mario. I've been to Mario's twice, both times presaged disaster. I am determined to change the curse of Mario's. Mario and I are going to be great friends.

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