Sunday, March 3, 2013

Commercial Drive

The sun is magnificent. We've driven through town with the top down on the Miata. Gilbert has been styling!
Now he's lying down outside Joe's where I'm having the first food of the day, one of Joe's fabulous sandwich "the works". I used to bicycle here when I first came to Vancouver in 1987 to work at VGH psych emergency. The Aids Epidemic was peaking. Friends were dying. I was working with Aids 'biters'. The virus invaded the brain causing dementia. Maybe some of it was the dissolution of drugs and threats to others to 'bite'. The last vestiges of control. "Leave me alone." I remember my first Karposi. Chairs is a wonderful play about the dying, produced here at Pacific Theatre years later. I remember the movie Philadelphia with the courageous moving performances of Tom Hanks and Denzil Washington. That put mainstream human faces to the terrible disease. A turning point had occurred.
I was anxious back there, bicycling long distances across a city, overwhelmed in the emergency, living on the edge, knowing the dying. Joe's was an old world European place of reprieve back then. People played pool and chess here. The owners spoke Italian and soccer was the sport of Commercial Drive. . Later the cyclists came regularly. Now I have Gilbert tied to a cyclist bar for locking bikes. So much has changed and yet little has.
We used to come here for a meeting in the morning a decade or more a go. After we'd shop. There were fascinating bookstores, great little restaurant places and always shops for buying European fare.
There's all kinds of funky little stores with fashions that change daily. Spank Shoes. My Sister's Closet. A great little Kitchen store with everything anyone could want for that room of the home. Actors and actresses live here. Lots of students. There's poetry nights at the night clubs. I've come to them and heard Polka Rock. It's avantegarde. Some time the lesbians moved in. They brought Womyn Ware - a sextoy shop catering only to women. Word had it that the cost of living on Davie Street, the traditional gay Vancouver street, had risen and those who could had made the move to the Commercial area. More upscale fashion followed. Students and communists moved in with lots of Vegetarian food. The Grandview Park was improved on. I have swum occasionally in the Britannica pool. There's alot more community happening there too. Great little children activity places. There's even a bowling alley. I bowled here once. I used to go to the theater but don't even know if it survived the development of the sky train station at Broadway. First Nations folk congregated around the Hastings end where the cultural centre developed.
Comedy has come to the drive with regular comedy shoes. I like the dog friendly stores. The Hardware store is one of the best with everything for the urban person.
Commercial Drive. Joe's is central for me. But there's so much I've enjoyed here. More and more I'm enjoying the fish store with its fresh catch and the Market near by where I often stand in line to get cold cuts. It's a special part of Vancouver. Distinct.

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