OpHippie: the shopping situation

Well, I went and did it. I didn’t mean to, but I did it.

I spent the bus fare home.

How? One “buying pizza for a friend” and one trip to Army Navy for supplies. That’s all it takes to zero out the bank account lately: a pizza with wine and a months worth of batteries.

Well, actually:

4 D batteries for LED lamp
The cheapest LED lamp they had
4AA batteries for the headlamp, making midnight firewood runs with the wheelbarrow much, much easier
A paperback on living off the sea by a local fisherman
Three space blankets to use as wallpaper to keep the heat in
One fluorescent poncho
One fish grilling basket
Three candles
A lighter
Garden trowel for clam digging

And that’s it. That’s all it takes. $85.81. So I emailed my ex-boss to see if he could pay the remainder he owes me tonight or tomorrow instead of month’s end. Wish me luck!

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Operation Hippie Update

Soon to be me. Titania, queen of hippie fisherpersons

Soon to be me. Titania, queen of hippie fisherpersons

So, preparing to move from a nomadic, cat-sitting existence to a geostationary one, and one in a vegan ecovillage at that, is proving to be somewhat of a bigger shift than even I realized.

For starters, there’s the busfare to get there, which I do not have. Nor will I have it until one of my clients pays me, and I just split from the biggest-paying one by mutual consent. Yeah, I sent in The Last Invoice, but it’ll be Monday before it’ll be paid, and then it’ll be paid in Paypal, so to get it to the bank will be no sooner than Wednesday, probably Friday of next week and that’s IF it gets paid Monday. And once the money is there, if I’m there also, there’s nothing to buy up there but nights in a B&B and whale watching tours.

So I made Mine Hosts Metro and Mrs Metro an offer they could refuse, but fortunately they didn’t. I will give them the money that would go for bus fare if they will drive me. They can then use this to get a night in a swanky B&B or hotel. This guarantees that I get the back seat of the car, but oh well, it also guarantees I don’t have to sit beside a random homicidal maniac who will hog the armrest. It also means they can drive me to the actual site instead of dropping me off where the highway meets the road and I get a nice long walk down a gravel shoulder before turning up a dirt road in the middle of the rainforest, all while toting three heavy suitcases filled with everything I’ve been wearing for the past nine or ten months.

My footwear collection, also being ported around all over BC in said suitcases, consists of one pair of metallic wedge sandals, one pair Doc Marten Mary Janes, and two pairs of Brooks running shoes made of mesh. Absolutely nothing of the rain boot gum boot variety. And that is the single most necessary type of footwear when approaching an ecovillage on the west side of Vancouver Island in the dead of winter.

When I show up to the ecovillage, I am expected to be self-sufficient and bring food. They have kale; anything else, I’ll have to lug in. Since I am not and do not wish to become a Kaletarian, this means I have to buy food (too busy to catch my own, and the hunting is atrocious in downtown Victoria, although I hear at certain bars it’s easy to catch crabs).

And I have $1.90.

So, being me, I bitched about this on social media.

And, my friends being my friends, one of them sent me $100 so I could buy some goddam boots, two offered to mail me their boots (postage is $40 or so from Vancouver, though), and one offered me a job doing copywriting for his companies. He asked if I needed an advance, and told me to name my own rate. He trusted me to do that honestly in part because when my friend, who is between jobs, offered me the $100 I posted about it and asked my friends if I should take it or turn it down.

As it turned out, I turned down the mailed boots as the postage was truly extravagant and I could buy boots at the end of the month anyway, and accepted the money on the advice to pay it forward.

Then I went to LL Bean and found out the boots I wanted were 37% off, but they were also sold out until April 22, and a fat lot of good that does me. MOST of their boots are sold out, which means everyone is having a pretty shitty, slushy winter. So tomorrow I’m off to do some shopping in downtown Victoria.

My shopping list is a bit different now. When I lived in Vancouver’s Chinatown my shopping lists looked like:

  • sambal oeleck
  • udon noodles
  • bean thread noodles
  • peanut butter (the universe’s most perfect food)
  • prawns
  • salmon
  • chicken
  • soy sauce (you could always tell when I was “rich” because then I’d have three kinds: Indonesian, Japanese for sushi, and Chinese for rice)
  • bok choy
  • onions
  • makeup
  • nail polish in outrageous colours
  • antique or collectable cocktail accoutrements
  • gin

My shopping list for tomorrow reads:

  • gumboots
  • keeper cord for my $150 Akubra hat so the wind doesn’t blow it away
  • crab trap so I can catch my own food
  • fishing rod
  • bean thread noodles
  • peanut butter
  • sambal oeleck (some things never change)
  • bag of oranges in case of scurvy or some goddam thing
  • coffee and GOD I HOPE THEY HAVE A COFFEE POT IN THE COMMUNAL KITCHEN

It would be nice to get some glasses before I leave (the kind for your face, not the kind for your cocktails) so I could actually SEE the view, but maybe I’ll squeeze in an eye exam at least. Metro and Madame Metro have promised me glasses for Christmas. If not, once I’m paid I can just wander into town and I’m sure there’s a doctor there who can write a prescription that Clearly Contacts will mail.

So, basically, gasp in wonder at my steez. My swag. My YOLO. My command of buzzwords.

And my D*CK!

Party On, Rude!

And fuck your manscaper too!

And fuck your manscaper too!

spend more time on your eyebrows bro

fuck you too

Those are the immortal words of the unnamed shutterbug behind my new favorite Tumblr, “FuckYouPartyPhotographer.”

In an effort to appear badass, and perhaps attempting to top their appearance on DouchebagsLoveGreyGoose, douches and douchettes all over the Vangroover club scene are begging someone to take their picture, only to flip them off when they do.

Yes, I said “Vangroover.” Never was a more perfect coinage minted, for that is where these people live: a strange, ill-lit land where everyone is desperate to give the impression they’re not actually from Surrey.

White Rock means never having to say you're Surrey, Simba

White Rock means never having to say you’re Surrey, Simba

Now, one man is striking back. One man, alone, armed with nothing more than an apparently eye-catching and high-quality photo rig, and a permanent place on the VIP list. And it is glorious.

Fuck you, Combover Boy

Fuck you, Combover Boy

FUCK YOU TOO

who are you, Prince William, duke of assholes ;)

If you go out clubbing in this city and fly the colours for the party photographer, and the colours read “Fuck You,” you can be pretty sure that, sooner or later, you will end up on this Tumblr, and NO, he will not take it down.

What are you gonna do, swear at him?

PS I’m pretty sure that on a lot of those tongues flapped out, Miley-style, that bump isn’t a tongue stud, it’s HPV.

Art for Christmas!

Copper Painting by artist Marilyn McKee

Copper Painting by artist Marilyn McKee

How’d you like to get a $1,200 work of art for ten measly bucks? You would, wouldn’t you (you cheap-ass art-lover, you!)? Well here’s your chance to really stun someone on Christmas morning with an extravagant present that says more and better things about you than, say, an Ed Hardy nightie and a bottle of Malibu.

Haida artist Marilyn McKee, the same woman featured in this article I wrote for the Daily Dot last year, has turned to Facebook once again, raffling off this impressive copper painting. A jeweler by trade, McKee is branching out and doing more painting this year. This is the largest, most complex piece she has done yet.

Tickets are $10 and you haven’t much time. The draw is in 11 hours, 9am Friday morning. To purchase tickets by electronic transfer, message the artist on Facebook directly or email or phone. Here is what she posted on Facebook a few days ago, and there are still tickets left (two fewer if I can get the transfer done in time!):

The piece is signed by Haida artist Marilyn McKee.
The piece comes with authenticity
and has been painted on a metal canvas 2 feet across.
EMT will be accepted and cost of shipping will be incurred by myself.
Again only 94 tickets are left @10 each. so if only 50 sell your odds increase.
Draw will be Friday morning, Dec 20th @9 am or sooner if sold out.
Thank you
marilynmckee at hotmail.com
778-709-7461

Support a local artist and get yourself some swank wall swag at the same time! By tomorrow lunchtime it will be too late!

The End

Stephen Hill

Stephen Hill by April Smith of AHA Media

The world has lost a great man. Well, two counting Nelson Mandela, but you’ve already read his obituary somewhere, so there’s no need to review.

I’m talking about my friend Stephen Hill.

When I was 16 my sister burst into my bedroom first thing one morning and announced, “Wake up. John Lennon and Grandpa are both dead.” This feels much like that day.

You most likely don’t know Stephen. Yet. And if you don’t know Stephen, there’s one thing I know about you: You are not from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

Neither was Stephen, actually, as you can tell from the below video, where he introduces the film With Glowing Hearts (of which he was a major financial supporter) to an audience comprised of motley crew of digital rock stars, renegade filmmakers, citizen journalists, activists, and the homeless (dress code the same for all of the above, except the activists are the ones wearing Blundstones). He did make it his own. He was One of Us.

Sounds like Alan Fucking Rickman addressing Noah’s Ark.

Only in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside could a white heckler interrupt a white speaker in front of a 90% white audience in a university named after a Scot to insist that the speaker acknowledge the speech was taking place on stolen First Nations land, and only Stephen Hill could roll with it like that.

Speeches are not easy to write or deliver, and very difficult to write and deliver well.

Eulogies are harder.

Here’s a good one. Stephen wrote it.

Here is another, about a different man. Stephen‘s brother wrote it. Stephen would expect me to snark at the fact that it’s not on WordPress; he’d be disappointed if I didn’t. I don’t like to disappoint Stephen, so: Blogspot? Really???

To get to know Stephen on paper, which is where he’d be more comfortable being known, is impossible now thanks to disposability, but you can come to know him in pixels, which always made him nervous, by looking through his CV, which he made in the (telling) form of a Community Walk map, a format which combines spatial relationships with textual and visual context. He believed very strongly that we exist at all times in intimate relation with our surroundings, and that our physical paths and environments are our life’s journey in more than merely the mundane way. His bone-deep connection to the concept of community was apparently nurtured in his school; they were both lucky to find one another.

On the Downtown Eastside Stephen worked as an employment counselor in his official capacity, and as an inspiration, firebrand, organizer, activist, and icon in his real life. He was everywhere, behind the scenes, generally helping those behind the scenes prevent the scenery from falling over. If I was at a protest or large event and I couldn’t find him, I’d just ask if anyone had seen “the posh Englishman,” and they’d all go “Oh, Stephen‘s over there!” and there he’d be, directing a crew of neophyte sound engineers plucked from the lunch room of the Carnegie or listening to an Elder tell stories of her childhood in a residential school, stories she’d never told a white man before.

Speeches are hard. I’ve made many speeches myself, often about the successes of my students from the Downtown Eastside, but I have a confession to make: they were all Stephen‘s protegees first. Citizen journalist April Smith was part of the Fearless City project which Stephen more or less badgered me into joining (so blame him, Irwin!). Henry Doyle the poet was a regular at Gallery Gachet, and a client of Stephen‘s at the Job Shop. All I did was provide a sort of finishing school for the forces of nature which they are, and which Stephen had helped them to recognize and harness. He was the one picking winners or, to be honest, building them seemingly from scratch sometimes, and convincing them they could win if given the right tools, which he taught them how to build or obtain for themselves. Not for nothing did he win Mentor of the Year from his peers.

He was also a terrific music snob, and I mean that in both senses of the word. No matter what your insidery music story, he could generally casually top it, trying not to show that it mattered to him, but the stories were so good they simply mattered intrinsically. The time Elvis Costello played an acoustic set in his living room, for instance. One wall of his office was covered with a web of steel wires and in this web hung a grid of albums: vinyl only, of course, for visual impact and also because vinyl > CD 4 eva. I knew I’d registered with him in more than a dutiful counsellor way when I rambled on about Year Zero in a meeting and the next week he had removed an old Blues album and put NIN in its place.

He hated NIN, really. That’s how I knew for sure.

In his eulogy for his friend Nigel he said:

Half my vinyl record collection is still made up of often obscure titles which Nigel liked and therefore I did too.

I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many of my albums were given to me by Stephen, who would not rest when he found out I had only Elvis Costello’s Greatest Hits and not Spike or any of the other “good ones, the ones you can’t buy here.” Or how many I bought because he’d mentioned the bands and how many hours I spent on YouTube particularly, trying to do my musical homework before the next meeting. He supplied the best songs on the Soundtrack for Occupy Vancouver, and I know that he donated at least two tents and two sleeping bags, which he’d gone out and purchased new just for Occupy.

God damn him, he even made me like twee hipster troubadors Arcade Fire, although it was their acoustic version of Guns of Brixton, and of course he told me all about the concert hall it was recorded in, as he probably spent more time there than at home for much of the 70′s. We spent a good hour or so discussing this song in the context of Boris Johnson‘s previous essay in which he pined for actual riots instead of quiet ones, now that BoJo had become mayor of London and had gotten (got?) his riots after all.

This, though. This is the most typical Stephen Music Story. It comes from the eulogy that he wrote for his old school friend Nigel Graves.

Then new wave appeared just before we began to part – a Christmas Eve Roundhouse concert featured ‘Eddie and the Hot Rods’ and we were so drunk and otherwise empowered by ‘Do anything you wanna do’ that on the way home we gave all our money to the striking firemen; working class politics indeed.

Here’s his musical scrapbook for July of 1969 alone. God, doesn’t that look exhausting?

This way of being we were creating included embracing contradictions and not toeing any one line. It was indeed possible to love Beowulf and Steppenwolf at the same time and with the same intensity.

You didn’t have to believe that you had to be this or that, you could be this and that. I carry this catholic view of passions, beliefs and ideas with me still, and in a world with increasing pressure to conform I will always be well pleased and plain relieved that early in our lives, with each others help, we were able to be true free thinkers.

I suppose one thing we learned together was to be ourselves; it’s funny how you often need someone else to help with that.

And that’s what he made his life’s work: to help others to find, and be, themselves.

I’m tempted, very tempted, to make a comparison between the Old Boys of his school, who are called Old Gowers or OGs for short, and the more widespread contemporary understanding of “OG” but I won’t, because it is just one of those overreaching, ridiculous, vulgarly amusing things that would bring the familiar pained, forbearing expression to Stephen‘s face and the eyes rolling heavenward, and we all do hate to disappoint Stephen.

He knew. He knew and he didn’t tell us, any of us.

He left Vancouver a year and a half ago, saying that he was going back to London to be with his mother while she was still here, and I had a few email conversations with him after that: he was living on a converted barge, tied up on the Thames somewhere far out of the centre of things for cheap moorage, which was the only way civilized people Bohemians could afford to live in London any more. I saw him just before he left, running into him at the Waves which served as a sort of community centre for everyone who was just well off enough not to have to hang out at the Carnegie, or on the sidewalk. We talked for a bit, and although we never talked about trifles (we usually talked about music, literature, politics, or other people) just what we talked about escapes me, but there is one thing I remember. He was silent for a moment, which is how you knew something big was coming, and then he looked at me and said, “There are a lot of people who you meet, and you get on fine and eventually go your separate ways, and that’s that. You don’t think anything about one another after that. But there are some people who go further. Some people who really care. People who give you the sense that you really matter to them, they’ll remember you, and you them. They stick with you. And that matters.” And then he couldn’t say any more but just hugged me. And I thought he was just going back to London and I’d see him for the Million Mask March on November 5.

I wonder if he made it to the march.

He died of scleroderma at the end of November.

Now is the time for that overreaching, ridiculous, vulgarly amusing thing without which this eulogy would not be complete. Because I could never stand to leave a meeting without giving Stephen a chance to show off his long-suffering basset hound look (it was a thing of beauty and a joy forever, and that’s another thing we took great pleasure in disagreeing about; my persistent dismissal of Byron and Shelley as second-rate pained him, but he had to admit he couldn’t trump my pair of Wordsworth/Keats).

This comes from a letter from the American political prisoner Jeremy Hammond, imprisoned for the next ten years for performing the Stratfor hack, releasing to WikiLeaks thousands and thousands of emails which came to be known as the Global Intelligence Files, and shining a light on the dark underbelly of the for-profit infosec world. It reminds me of Stephen for many reasons. He knew I drank coffee, he knew that I loathed the standard weak, cheap office coffee that his office supplied, and he believed, as all Englishmen do, that all right-thinking people should drink tea, preferably without milk. Stephen‘s esteem mattered so much to me that in meetings with him over the years I must have drunk enough black tea to float the Bluenose, even though black tea without milk gives me nausea. I never mentioned it. I would never have disappointed him by asking for milk. Four years, five years, how many years, and I never mentioned it.

Here is the kicker, courtesy of Jeremy Hammond, Prisoner #18729-424, MDC Brooklyn. In the last email exchange we ever had, I told Stephen that when he was being sworn in at his plea hearing, Jeremy had raised his hand in a power salute instead of laying it on the bible. And at roll call at lockdown, when his name was called instead of saying “Yes” or “Here” or whatever people in prison usually say, Jeremy yelled out, “LET MY PEOPLE GO.” Got solitary for it, too. I bet Stephen liked that story.

Come to think of it, I wonder if my Julian Assange crush springs from the fact that for years he had exactly the same hair as Stephen. Hm.

But to the punchline!

Why do anarchists drink instant tea?

Why do anarchists drink instant tea?

Actually, I think I heard that from Stephen first.

Stephen Hill doesn't let it get him down

Stephen Hill doesn’t let it get him down