I was in a bus shelter last night, trying to stay out of a mini-deluge, after hearing a staged reading of Jordan Hall's Travelling Light. (I may have more to say on this later. I found it interesting, though it mostly dealt with physics on a Popular Science level and the main characters' motivations were a bit unbelievable. It also seems impossible to stage. I didn't think the jumping around in time really helped matters, and it sort of seems like a blatant rip-off of Dr. Manhattan in The Watchmen to have a character skip around in time simultaneously. I did like the riff on the joke "A particle physicist walks into a reactor," however. I thought the treatment of time in Penny Penniston's Now Then Again was actually more in line with scientific theory.)
In any event, there was a young woman in the shelter talking excitedly on the phone about some place she had scored. She said something like "It's got a stove, so all we have to do is find someplace to shower." And I thought, 'Ah, the romance of loft living or even near-squatting. I sure don't miss those days.' After some further discussions with the friend, including chiding her for not going in for a job interview that the woman had set up, it became clear that she and some friends had actually purchased a camper of some type. She started talking about interior design possibilities and asked the friend to bring her some cloth swatches. The discussion switched to whether they needed to retrofit it with seat belts in the back and thus whether it was street legal in Washington and Oregon. She was quite excited about this adventure, almost like the Edward Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang but without the environmental angle (she didn't make this connection), and was particularly psyched that they already had "growlers" to drink out of. So they were pretty much set for the road...
A sketchy character joined us in the shelter. I tuned him out and kept waiting for the bus. It was a fairly long wait. A black man came in out of the rain, and within a minute the two of them commenced a drug deal of some sort (I think it was just marijuana but had no interest in getting too involved). There are quite a number of things I don't like about Vancouver, and the willingness to let the Downtown East Side sink into a total cesspit in order to maintain the mayor's liberal cred is in the top 5. As it happens, I can't wait for the day they go ahead and legalize weed, just so the ridiculousness around it can cease (and not because I have any intention of partaking). It's de facto legal in Vancouver, but there is still all this legal limbo around it. Even if the U.S. drags its feet for another 20 years, Canada can and should legalize it in 2015 (assuming the Liberals finally kick Harper out of office). However, even if it were legal, have a little respect for others and don't deal under our noses. (I will admit I was glad that the deal took a little while -- the Black guy actually had to roll up a joint -- and they ended up not getting on my bus after it finally arrived.)
Anyway, I just find it so f'ing depressing when people live up to or down to their stereotypes. I still recall taking a Metra train out to the North Shore suburbs. There were two young Mexicans on the train (indeed the only Latinos that I saw). They began chatting and one admitted he had been exiled to the suburbs to keep him out of trouble. While it took them a bit longer, dancing around the subject, they too were doing a drug deal within a matter of minutes, without any concern of being overheard and certainly not being arrested. How refreshing it would have been if one of these people had said: "Why do you think I deal drugs? Just because I'm Black/Mexican?" But no, the signifier was quite accurate in both cases. Sigh.