Posts Tagged ‘Broadway’

Explosion

February 14, 2008

Early yesterday morning an arsonist made a mess of torching a taco restaurant and blew up several businesses, badly burning himself in the process.  Half a dozen stores were damaged on West Broadway, just past Cambie.  Two were destroyed.  An office above them was also damaged.  Across the street, the windows of the London Drugs that supplied just about every thing I use in my apartment were blown in.  Most of the block is now boarded up.

I heard about it on the early evening news, just before I headed out to a seminar at Biz Books, a book store for the entertainment industry.  I’d spent the morning teaching online then reading and responding to all the comments on this blog and the de-conversion blog I posted on.

The number of readers I get has soared this week.  I wasn’t quite ready for it.  I almost doubled my previous best day.  Then I almost tripled it.  Then I did triple it, and today was quadruple.  I’m a hit!  This week’s total is already more than last month,  my first month, and I thought I wasn’t doing too badly before.

There’s a downside to the new attention, however.  It takes up a lot of time and energy, and many of the commenters on the de-conversion site are rather logically challenged Christian zealots who ramble all over the place and change the subject in desperate attempts to prove the bible is THE TRUTH, and the only truth.  I wasted my time responding to people who seemed so naive I wondered if they were children.  Maybe they are, or maybe they’re seminary students practising on me.  Hey!  I get paid for that and these guys are using me for free!  They should pay me to read and reply to their poorly formed arguments.

What I really wanted, and needed, was to sleep.  I’d taught late the previous night, too, and did some other stuff afterwards I probably shouldn’t have.  The end result is that when the alarm blasted in my ear at 5:30, I’d had two and a half hours sleep.  I’d still had two and a half hours sleep when I was listening to the soft spoken producer in the cozy environs of the book store, resting my eyes occasionally.

They said on the news that the explosion was so powerful it could be felt two kilometres away.  I live about two kilometres away.  But, I didn’t feel or hear a thing.  I was deep in the midst of the only two and a half hours sleep I would get.

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A Vancouver Moment

February 11, 2008

One night some time ago I was in Seb’s, a nearby bistro on Broadway.  It’s actually called Seb’s Market Bistro, but the market part consists of a single column of shelves with baked breads and a few organic looking products.  It has a Montreal atmosphere, I’m told.  I’ve never been to Montreal, so I take their word for it.  Recently, it has been closed part of the day for want of a sous chef or line chef.  That’s Vancouver these days.

I went there that night for a few drinks and to catch some live jazz, which they have every weekend.  The music was nice, the lights were dim, and the candles were lit.  The patrons were dressed for a night out, generally – not formal, but they made an effort.

I noticed a couple ride up and lock their bicycles outside.  Then they walked into this nice bistro wearing their helmets and bicycle gear.  They navigated the slim space between the band and service area and then the narrow aisle between the tables to find one that was available.

Everyone else had dressed up, but they were dressed for cycling.  They thought nothing of riding their bicycles to a restaurant on a weekend night, and dressing for the ride rather than the destination.  It didn’t even occur to them to take off their helmets until they reached their table.

Just another Vancouver moment.

Eating Out Is Getting Dangerous

February 1, 2008

There is a gangland style killing for every wallet.  It doesn’t matter where you eat or socialize, you may be a witness to – or victim of – the latest episode in the gang wars that have broken out in greater Vancouver.  These killings could have been lifted straight out of the movies or the Sopranos finale.

A few months ago, just four blocks from my home, gunmen walked into a Chinese restaurant on East Broadway, approached a table, and opened up.  Two people were killed and others were wounded, including young girls.  I assume they were the girlfriends.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed that restaurant.  I used to be a regular customer at a bakery directly opposite it, before it closed, and have used the bus stop outside the former bakery many times.  The bullet hole in the window of the restaurant is enough to make you think about the possibility of innocent victims of stray bullets.

A few weeks later, gunmen fired shots through the window of a more upmarket restaurant on West 4th.  It has a reputation as one of the more romantic restaurants in town, I believe, but love wasn’t in the air that night.  A known gangster was killed.  It was only by luck that no one was killed by stray bullets, again.

A few weeks ago, a man with a past was gunned down outside a well known downtown steak house that’s so expensive I had to win a contest to eat there the one time I did.  It happened in full view of other diners inside, including the rest of his party who were waiting for him.

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or how much you can afford to spend, there’s no guarantee you can escape it.  You’re not safe anywhere.

What are restaurants supposed to do – screen customers to keep out the targets?  How?  Should they ask customers, “Are you now, or have you ever been, involved with a criminal gang?”  I don’t think they’ll volunteer that information.

There is talk of the police working with restaurants as they did with nightclubs.  They visited the clubs, identified known criminals, and made it clear they were not wanted there.  I don’t know how they’ll adapt that to restaurants.  There are a lot more restaurants than nightclubs.  Maybe they’ll just distribute names and pictures of criminals so the restaurants can refuse entry.  That would take a pretty brave Maitre d’.

Whatever they do, I hope it works.

God’s Free Gift

January 27, 2008

A couple of years ago, on my way to the supermarket one Sunday, I was walking along East Broadway and passed a church.  There was a man standing just inside the church’s property line facing a couple of young girls, who were probably about twelve or thirteen years old, standing on the sidewalk just outside the property line.  As I approached, I heard one of the girls say something like, “So, if we come in, do we get to keep the presents?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Had the religious really stooped to such new lows?  Luring unaccompanied children – without parental consent – into their churches with presents?  I glanced at the man.  Incredibly, HE shot ME a dirty look.  I guess I offended him by catching him doing what he must have known was wrong.  If he didn’t know it was wrong, he would have carried on nonchalantly and wouldn’t have noticed me passing.  Couldn’t he hear his own conscience?

Imagine there wasn’t a church behind the man.  You see a man offering young girls presents to come inside.  What would you think?  Utterly abhorrent, predatory behaviour.  For some reason, religions get away with things we would otherwise find offensive, or even criminal.

Although this was the first time I’d ever seen such blatant and crass religious marketing, I later found out it was by no means an isolated incident.  A Korean student told me last summer that it’s common in Korea.  Christian churches routinely offer children presents to come in and join a mass.  Korea and Asia are ‘growth markets’ for Christianity.  Make no mistake, they’re in the god ‘business’.

Looking back, the guy standing just inside the property reminds me of the legal fine line the girls standing in the doorways of the ‘hostess’ bars in London’s Soho district tread.  Now there’s a comparison to be proud of!

I feel a little ashamed that I didn’t do anything about this guy.  I wish I’d called a cop.  But, being the nice, tolerant Canadian that I am, I didn’t.  We have to respect religion, after all.

Why?