To everyone upset about The Vancouver Playhouse, The Ridge, Book Warehouse, and all of the other culture that is evaporating in Vancouver:

To everyone upset about The Vancouver Playhouse, The Ridge, Book Warehouse, and all of the other culture that is evaporating in Vancouver:

I agree that Vancouver has a long way to come in developing a system that supports cultural endeavours. It would be great if The City or The Government or other Institutions could sweep in and save everything. But what can we do about it? How can we work together to create a sustainable artistic community?

Recent history and research about cultural non-profits has suggested that previous models of aiming for continued growth and reliance on granting bodies (often at the expense of depth, meaning, and lasting intellectual relevance) may have created a bunch of giant Jenga towers on top of a rug that can be pulled out from under them at any time. More and more cultural non-profits are realizing that it is about creating and mining niche markets, not creating cultural monoliths.

In Vancouver (and elsewhere), these institutions are falling—often in part because of funding cuts. However, at least from where I’m standing, small but vibrant arts and cultural communities are abundant (I’m tempted to say “flourishing,” but, really, financially I don’t think they are flourishing. They’re facing the same challenges everyone else is).

But we can’t ignore the culture in Vancouver of not wanting to pay for things. All of the arts and culture in this city costs something—whether grants pay for it, or fundraising, or money directly out of the pockets of the people who work and/or volunteer for these projects.

Regardless of what’s happening with funding, we need to develop a culture where audiences are eager to pay for things. For subscriptions, for tickets, for memberships, for events. We have ended up with a culture of wanting to consume arts and culture but not always wanting to pay for it, but then we are upset when it all starts falling apart because there is not enough money to support it. How can we rally for The City or The Government to find the funds to sustain these projects when we’ve rarely opened our own wallets to do the same?

I encourage each of you to look at your own participation in these situations. You know that theatre you love? Buy a subscription to their season, encourage your friends to do it with you or even buy them their first ticket. Go to more individual shows if you can’t commit the time or funds to a subscription. That magazine you love to read? Subscribe to it. Buy a second subscription for your friend who would also love it. That art gallery you love to visit? Become a member. Find out when their next fundraiser is and be there. At their art auction buy a fantastic piece of art for a ridiculously low cost compared to what the work is and what it is worth. That book you’ve been meaning to buy, the one you can’t find on Amazon or at Chapters? Go to one of the independent shops that carry it and buy it. That music group you love to listen to/see perform? Buy a subscription to their season, buy their CD, go to their concerts, go to their fundraisers. Go to an independent record shop to buy their work on vinyl.

I know, you’re probably a creative too in this expensive city. You probably don’t have the money to spend on these things as a result. But what would it look like if you made room in your budget for arts and culture? If you really look, there are often things worth sacrificing (coffee out, food out, drinks out, cabs, etc.). And if I’m wrong, if you really can’t afford to do this, can you afford to volunteer some time? No? Well, then, are you able to support these organizations by simply helping to promote their efforts on your blog, your social media, via word of mouth?

It’s easy to demonize The City and Developers. And, I’m sure there is a very complex and logical reason for why doing so is not a bad idea. However, in the long run, what will create a more vibrant, sustainable arts and culture community? I imagine that even if we pull together our modest disposable incomes, volunteer power and word of mouth we still might not be able to create ongoing support for big organizations like The Playhouse. But if we each become ambassadors for the projects closest to our hearts, we can likely sustain a number of smaller organizations doing extremely meaningful and innovative things.

 

Photo by Bronte Taylor

Here I am!

I’m assuming you were wondering, because it’s been ages and ages and when did I get so old that I’m so busy all the time? But it’s good busy, productive busy. Happy busy, and work is good and writing is going and I applied to go back to school and I’m all over the Internets for various foodly things, and every so often when I have a moment of quiet, I think about that little restaurant idea I had going on two years ago, and it’s getting closer all the time – I have a little bit of catering work – and except for this weekend when Nick and I had a fight over a Justin Bieber song after karaoke and it was raining and we were both seething as we stomped to the bus stop and furious for some reason neither of us is particularly clear on, almost all thoughts are happy thoughts.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hello. I haven’t forgot about you, wherever you are. Where are you? And how are you? I hope you’re writing.

Today I flirted with a man with one leg and he flirted back

It was one of those situations you find yourself in where you’re walking in the opposite direction of someone and are about to pass them and neither of you know which side to take, so there’s an awkward dance before one of you plows through, forcing the other to whichever side is left open.

Except for his dance, he popped a wheelie using his wheelchair. And it was so incredibly hot (and so was he, which helped).

He looked up at me and we both smiled; after passing, both of us looked behind us and I managed to get a wink from him as he turned the corner, one leg of his jeans tucked under his butt. It made my day.

Actually, it was one of two things that made my day.

After I left hot amputee boy, I jumped on the skytrain and ran into a friend of a friend. She has a craniofacial disorder and can’t see out of one of her eyes. We chatted from uptown through to downtown. She bitched about her partner; I beamed about mine. We parted ways and I headed to another train bound for home, where I got a text from our mutual friend telling me that the woman had called her after she got off the train to tell her how incredibly nice I was, but more importantly to me, considering the day, how hot she thought I was.

I don’t brag. I’m writing about this because shit like this never happens to me. I got hit on by a boy with one leg and was admired by a girl with one working eye, and I feel so fucking sexy…

Actually, does that ever happen to anyone?

I’ll admit. Amputees are a bit of a turn-on for me. Legs only though. And oddly enough, boys only. Hot, buff, athletic boys only. It all started one hot summer day about eight years ago in August, where I was spending the day with my then girlfriend and caught a glimpse of this strikingly attractive man learning how to roll in a kayak. The instructor wasn’t sure how to deal with this man’s bionic leg, but said man was confident – wearing shorts showing the full gear (a plus!) – and had a fuck-it-I-can-do-what-everyone-else-can-do attitude that was such a turn on that I didn’t want to leave the lake.

I joke about it all the time: Just think of the positions you could do it in! But in real life, I like women with two legs (and preferably two working eyes).

I’m lucky to have just that, though with how hot I was feeling about myself and the fact that she is away, I didn’t really know what to do with myself when I got home and had the evening to myself. Well, I knew, but, you know…

I’m chiming in a little late on the sex topic posts. And I think that’s about all I’m going to say. That’s what one-legged kinks and cross-eyed fantasies are for now, aren’t they?

“Have you ever been mistaken for a man?” “No. Have you?”

This is who I want to be when I grow up.  I want to wear tight black pants, knee-high boots, a corset and carry around huge fucking guns.  And I want to wreck havoc on all the bad guys of the world.

I’m not exactly sure what it is about hot chicks and firearms that do it for me.  It’s not a sexual thing.  As much as I can appreciate Ms. Jovovich, and I most certainly do, as she both kicks major ass and designs the one and only lipstick I ever wear, I am more so resigned to the fact that if and when the Kinsey scale can be trusted, I’d probably rate somewhere between 0 and -67.  It’s more of a, “I wish I could actually do something tangible to help the world and by Jove, exploding the shit out of the living dead (and those who’ve introduced them upon the world) is pretty much the closest thing you can get to achieving that aim.”  Plus, I really, really do like tight black pants and knee-high boots.  While I may bemoan the fact that my body is in fact ¾ legs to ¼ torso, I do know what looks good on these proportions.

Moreover, with closer examination, I think my attraction to the Resident Evil franchise, may have a deeper meaning that just OHMYGODGREATFASHION!

While the introduction of Alice in the first film may be dripping with gratuitous sexuality (she is found lying nude in a shower), the film quickly begins to explore the thematic conceits of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (watch for reoccurring references to Chess, as well as the overarching idea of madness, and the fact that the Umbrella corporation’s computer is named the “Red Queen.”)

Through her rebirth (by both literally and metaphorically falling down the rabbit hole) Alice learns not only that she is stronger and smarter than both her male counterparts, but also her male adversaries.  The film’s depiction of patriarchal attitudes (embodied by Umbrella’s fierce dedication to the perfection of the T-virus and its never-ending number of faceless, male captains of industry) is unflatteringly relentless.  It is a perfect representation of engrained social patriarchies and the supreme difficultly a lone female has in subverting this status quo.  Alice is a violent, active agent in the fight against this historical institution, this machine.

Yesterday I went to see Resident Evil: Apocalypse with my husband.  I turned to him mid film and asked, “Why do these idiots keep trying to perfect this virus if humanity is all but gone?”  I didn’t understand why it would be so important to control something that no longer existed.

And then I realized that like the T-virus, certain socially proscribed narratives are consciously propagated and sustained every day, whether we think about them or not.  More to the point, they continue to subsist even when we think they have been defeated (or at least convince ourselves that they have.)  Dallas police chiefs, under the strain of skyrocketing rape cases, encourage women to stay together and watch their drinks, instead of just telling men to fuck off and stop raping.  (P.S. Is that message really so hard to endorse?  Parents, reach out to your children!  Tell your boys JUST SAY NO TO RAPE.)  I, unlike Alice, do not consistently fight against engrained sexism, and yet I rail against it whenever I am confronted with ugly and sometimes violent misogyny.

I may not be able to walk around with gigantic shotguns filled with quarters, but I can remember, can believe that I can make a difference as long, as I do remember.  Resident Evil reminds me of this.



After the fire.

Driving, post-sunset, with a wet wind whipping my hair into tangles and snares.  Your fingers resting on the nape of my neck, slow circular motions that leave gooseflesh, not fingerprints.  My dress, hiked above my knees, my heels digging into the carpeted floor, foot on the accelerator.  I am literally shifting gears while we are metaphorically doing the same.

We will arrive home, my shoes clacking against the cobbled pavement, hand in hand, stopping to kiss, only once, and closed mouth, but hard.  The door opens, so we kiss again, and our mouths follow suit, though much softer now.  My gooseflesh returns.

I have been fucking the same man for seven years.  Sometimes I wonder if I am, in fact, any good at this game we silly and simple humans have fashioned for not only ourselves, but one another.  How well do I kiss?  How thoroughly and fantastically do I stimulate?  Can I turn others on?  Do I turn others on? 

Do I turn you on?

Before I die I would like an annotated, yet succinct list of every person who has ever fantasized about me in bed with them.  On many levels I understand that this is but one manifestation of my over-rampant and highly destructive vanity.  But I honestly can’t help being curious.  I have spent so much of my life with the same man (a loving, beautiful, exquisite man) I fall into extended periods of time where I forget that I even exist as a woman to the entirety of the world’s opposite-sex population. 

But on the occasion that I remember, it hits me hard.

And during these times I fuck my husband with an almost maniacal ferocity.  As if I believe I could exorcize my lust-stained demons the more I bite and scratch, and banish all manner of my narcissistic character through missing strands of hair and my aggrieved and red swollen lips.  I want to be ravaged as much I want to ravage.  Lay waste to our bodies, my sexuality and his.  And I imagine every single male I’ve ever found attractive sitting in the room watching me, in my savage, erotic fury.  I want them to digest, but never comprehend, what they are missing, what they could have experienced, in another age, on another planet, had I not met, loved and viciously fucked, a loving, beautiful, exquisite man.

I strip the sex off of me, out of me.  So that I will forget, for some period of time, what I think I may be truly afraid to acknowledge, afraid to know.

Sexy Times

Lately, my thesis work has got me thinking about sex. Oh, who am I kidding? I have always thought about sex. I should say: lately, my thesis work has provided a conduit for my preoccupation with sex.

The working title is Wicked Little Girls. It’s a sort of subverted dystopian feminist critique of the medical/psychiatric field’s co-optation of, and profiteering off, female sexual abuse narratives. Evolutionary biology and psychology, in the hands of the patriarch, have distorted these narratives, repackaged them, and sold them back to a generation of women in a box marked Survivor’s Guide to Recovery. Caution: Will Take A Lifetime to Complete.

Throughout my research and writing, I’ve been imagining an alternate universe. One where a woman (now comprehending, emotionally, the violations against her as a child) turns to an ‘expert’ and says: my father raped me. In this alternate universe, the expert does not begin listing, ad nauseam, the boatload of symptoms accompanying childhood sexual abuse, like PTSD, low self-esteem, dissociation, sexual deviance, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, etc. In this alternate universe, the expert does not go on to exploit implore the woman (‘patient/layman’) to recover more memories, darker memories, the most disgusting acts she’s surely repressed for the sake of her own survival.

Instead, in this alternate universe she says: WHAT THE FUCK? ARE YOU SERIOUS? SOMEONE CALL THE COPS, THERE’S A PERVERT ON THE LOOSE. In this alternate universe, instead of focussing on what is wrong with the woman, we turn with indignation to the perpetrator and ask what the hell is wrong with him.

“I believe child sexual abuse and violence against women are an integral structural part of patriarchal society and culture. They are how we–especially, but not only, women–are socialized to accept powerlessness. If this were any other issue with such a devastating effect, we’d have a massive mobilization of resources, we’d have comprehensive programmes, we’d have a blank cheque to enable us to do the work that needs to be done. If any other sort of plague or virus than the one called child abuse ravaged the children and left them crippled or destroyed, we’d find the resources to stop it.” — Elly Danica

Lately, I have been thinking about sex. Oh, who am I kidding? I have always thought about sex. I should say: lately, sex has been thinking about me. Sex wants to get to know me. It keeps asking me questions and stripping off its own layers to reveal more. It whispers words like ‘feminist’ and ‘patriarch’ and says: Hey, don’t run! You’ve always said you’re up for trying new positions!

A poem for all my girls (and you know I fucking hate poetry but I’ve been listening to way too much Patti Smith so I figured, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.)

Each one of us is silent
and brilliant

as light on the water.

only the modern click clacking of keys
makes elegies
on computer screens

of times right now
of times gone by

of the pain in our hearts
and planes in the sky

the things that make us laugh
and the things that make us cry

a screen is a blank and empty place
(like distance)
a screen is a canvas
for wisdom unborn

for wisdom that ferments like wine
then open and drunk
sweet to our lips
when we casually dine

with the spouses we doubt
or the jobs we despise

or the friends we hide
or harbour inside

or all the blank pages
we can never seem to fill…

just remember

that we are a legend

we wrote together

we have our own song
to sing each alone
in the attics of our minds

but each voice echoes
twists around corners
navigates, negotiates

and together makes chorus

resonating
reverberating
reuniting
online.