I live in East Vancouver, a district of Vancouver that encompasses a plethora of little villages with residential & business zoning closely tied together, intermingling on street parking, laneways filled with recycling boxes, garbage cans, graffiti, chicken coops and overhead electric wires, community gardens, greasy spoon all day breakfast diners, dive bars, overwhelming homeless problems, hipster joints, and all the cool kids.
It’s a beautiful place to live, for the most part a very friendly and pleasant community to hang out in with most people saying hello while out for a walk on a lovely Vancouver day.
But – yes, there’s a but – there’s a problem.
You see, whilst living here some folks develop some kind of weird pride that almost spreads like a viral infection. There’s a certain attitude that’s adopted here that drives me up the wall, and I’m fairly certain most cities with trendy areas like East Van have this problem. I like to call it high-snobriety, or more regionally accurate: East Van Snobriety. Sounds like an MC5 song, I know.
Anyways, some people seem to adopt this weird attitude of superiority that just shouldn’t exist at all. And it’s not just fucking hipsters. Blaming the hipster is an easy way out, and it’s not healthy to generalize like that.
There are a number of things that make me feel this, but first, let me explain my pride in East Van.
East Vancouver is a cultural and artistic hub of the lower mainland. Shit, probably Western Canada. Strathcona, Sunrise (or what they’re now dubbing East Village with hopes some of that NYC charm will rub off on it), Mount Pleasant, Commercial, Downtown Eastside, Main Street, even Chinatown is considered East Van, though technically it is West of Main St; all of these regions are down to earth areas of East Van. Everybody has their favorite hood generally dictated by where one lives, but each are both similar enough and much different than heading down to Robson Street, or Kits.
Why? Well, perhaps it’s because there’s less Lululemon Athletica re-useable bags, Starbucks paper cups, BMW SUVs and white running shoes seen, and more people wearing leather soles and belts and biking around. Maybe it’s the humbling feeling of walking side by side with humans that think nothing of picking up a cigarette butt from the side of the street, or the bottle collectors, or the hunched over mean Asian ladies trolling the markets like surveyors. Maybe it’s the markets themselves. The side by side grocers, open air fish markets, butchers and ginsing shops. Maybe it’s the graffiti down every alleyway that makes it so attractive, or the attitude it takes to allows that graffiti to stay there without immediately painting over it with beige or creame or tan or yellow or anything that will eliminate all evidence of character that exists around these corners.
Perhaps it’s my unending desire to find the comfiest and friendliest cafés that play – consistently – the best music.
I think there’s definitely a charm from all of these aforementioned things, but I think what makes East Van such a lovely place for me is the people and community, the culture of East Van that makes it so lovely. Like I’ve said, when I walk around the neighborhood on a sunny afternoon, old ladies say hello to me (the elderly Asian couples do their laps with stereos attached to their hips still don’t say hello to me), there’s parks with dogs that aren’t all wearing dog-jackets, and people hanging out on their blankets having a conversation. There’s young parents around, and young kids that stop punks to ask them to pick up the garbage they just threw on the ground. There’s coffee grind collectors at most cafés who use it to fertilize their plot in the community gardens. There’s little projects, workshops, art spaces, and galleries hidden in most neighborhoods that you usually only discover when you’re out wandering.
All of this creativeness and eco-centric living is beautiful, but there’s a line that gets crossed – frequently.
There’s a East Van snobriety that creeps into some people, and I don’t like it. It’s unfortunate that I have chosen to reflect upon this, that perhaps the few have ruined it for the many, but alas – I digress.
It forever befuddles me when I observe – or am the recipient of – people blowing other people off because they for some reason don’t think they’re… good enough? artistic enough? popular enough? cool enough? rich enough? I really don’t quite get it, but it exists.
My thought process is that if you’re doing something unbelievably cool, you should want to share that coolness with everybody, make everybody feel comfortable experiencing your cool, and do more cool. If you have a business you should want more clients, more customers, more patrons.
Instead, what I find is East Van snobriety. What I find is an attitude of: ‘I have never met you so you must not be doing as much cool things as I am, so we are going to treat you like the enemy and be short, cold, and for all intents and purposes above and annoyed by you and your existence in my place.’
(sidenote: this could all be just a horrible mixup and I am just misunderstanding some folks who are just socially awkward and compensate this with trying to put on the cool kids clothes and attitude they think exists from reading Teen Magazines recommended readings list.)
The unfortunate part of this whole ordeal – I believe – inlays on the cuff of segregation. When you turn a cold shoulder on somebody who is inquiring about your business, your club, your collective, you’re saying: “You don’t belong here.” And in my mind, that’s not right. You’re making a line that doesn’t have to exist, however bold or italic you choose to draw it.
It’s one thing to have savvy’er style, be more creative, or to work in a cooler place than somebody, but it’s another thing to treat them with contempt for it. Furthermore, all of society in all walks and corners of the world should seek to be more patient, considerate, polite, and kind. Not snobbish. Not East Van snobriety. Don’t be a snob, be cool man. If you don’t want to work there, if people bother you, if you’re not making enough money, if your girlfriend wears boxer briefs… is there any reason to bring everybody down for this?
And this is what I’m talking about when I say East Van snobriety, and it bothers me when I come into contact with this kind of shit.
No, it doesn’t throw me into a downward spiral of drugs and depression that I emerge from years later.
My art hangs on other gallery walls. My book gets publish by another publisher. I find better coffee elsewhere. I find cheaper and better tasting food from Michael at Hanoi Pho who greets me with the warmest smile and demands I take gum when I leave, every time! I buy cheaper and cooler clothes with triangles on it off Etsy then at your waxed canvas duffel bag store. I fine better bike parts for 1/3 the price from MEC, and I don’t have to feel like I’m doing it all wrong when you’re sitting there looking cool in East Van casting those judging eyes of judgement all around the room.
Yeh, I’m talking at you East Van Snobriety club.
I guess what bothers me about this whole thing is that I want to support the locally owned and operated and so close to awesome places I see popping up everywhere, and I want to see you succeed. But when you give me every reason to not want to support you, I have a hard time supporting you.