Friday, 23 July 2010

Vancouver day 8

I check out of my suite this morning. Diana, the owner, says the weather has been unfortunate. She tells me that last year, or the year before, it rained non stop for 5 months then was a great summer. Maybe they will have a great summer this year!
I head over to Jane’s (where I’ll be staying my last 2 nights) to drop off my bags. Then I head off to the Skytrain – my first trip on the train which rides above the city and has many stops downtown.

On my way along the drive to the Sky train station there is a guy wearing an oversized American football t-shirt walking in front of me. I notice his t-shirt has holes in it and he has tattoos down his arms. He stops to get a light from someone sitting outside at a cafe and tells them “It’s my birthday today.” “Oh, happy birthday, “ drawls the guy at the cafe.
He then stops briefly to look at his reflection in mirror windows at the top of a shop, spiking up his hair some more. He stands looking at himself too long.
He continues walking down the street, starts talking to another random guy beside him. “It’s my birthday today.” “Oh swell,” is the reply. He starts to tell the guy about his son, something about getting to see him, but I guess he doesn’t get much response to this story because the next I hear is him ranting “Loser” Then he storms off.

Outside the Sky train station a man lays out lots of books for a ‘Book Sale’. There are also signatures on the pavement, like a Vancouver hall of stars, but I’m sure this is just the signatures of average joes.

The Sky trains have no drivers and an automated voice announces the stops. I get off at Burrard Street (this sounds strange pronounced in the automated Vancouverite accent). I manage to navigate my way to the Art Gallery which I’m quite proud of seeing as at home I get lost pretty easily.

I am soaked when I arrive so head to a cloakroom point to drop off my raincoat and umbrella. The woman at the desk makes a comment about the rain. She says when she visited Glasgow it was very rainy and she bought a wax raincoat which was great. At the pay desk I’m informed only 2 floors of the gallery are open because of renovation.

I head up to the cafe first and buy some peppermint tea and a slice of cranberry loaf. This loaf which is sold everywhere is great!

After my breakfast I head to the Fiona Tan exhibition first. Her exhibit is about the ‘Play of memory across time and space.’ I sit down to watch a video installation, ‘The Rise and Fall’. The screen focuses on an old woman sleeping and then splits into two, a young woman appearing on the right hand screen. Contrasting images of them dressing and putting on make up play out. There is always a clear full shot of the old woman but only fleeting glances of the young woman- probably because the young woman is a memory?

The image of them both sitting in the garden makes me think that the old woman is more content and more ‘knowing.’ I get the impression the young woman is more apprehensive and looking at the image of the old woman makes me want to tell her not to be, that life isn’t worth getting apprehensive about. The old woman looks almost relieved that she has lived but is having fleeting moments of being wistful about her lost youth. Images of the sea are interspersed with their story – I find these very calming.

My favourite part of the exhibit is when the screens are aligned so that it looks like the old lady is walking out of her garden, and walks in to the right hand screen a young woman.

I move along to watch another video installation which shows a remote field with trees blowing and clouds moving slowly across the sky. A lot of things I’ve seen on this trip remind me of the film My Own Private Idaho and this scene especially makes me think of this film.

I walk upstairs to see some photo exhibits. One features photographs by Robert Frank, a notable photographer and film maker who documented the optimism of the 1950s and the realities of the race and class divide. He also documented Beat Culture and befriended Kerouac and Ginsberg. There are other photographs by Larry Clark, one titled ‘Accidental gunshot wound from Tulsa 71.’ The blurb says he captures raw, violent images. I remember watching a film he co-produced, 'Kids'; raw being a good way to describe this.

After the gallery I venture back outside and head down Robson Street, on the hunt for a place to have some lunch. I decide I fancy a hamburger and a place across the road called the Cactus Club catches my eye. It’s a good choice as I am served the most amazing hamburger ever – the burger is clearly homemade and has really thin tasty mushrooms, cheese and bacon, accompanied with very tasty homemade chips.

After lunch I set off in search of the big bookstore, Chapters. I soon find it with the help of my guidebook which helpfully tells me what street number it is. It’s massive inside. Floor upon floor and row upon row of books. It’s really airy and new looking. I’m here to find ‘City of Glass’ by Douglas Coupland. I decide to check under Fiction and Literature first – I come across his other books which have different covers or are shaped differently (smaller and boxy) from the ones I own back home. I soon realise his non fiction book is not going to be amongst these so I use one of the public computers set up which allows you to check if your book is stocked here. It also helpfully tells you which section of the shop it’s shelved. So I head off to ‘Local’ and soon find City of Glass. I get a copy for Jane and myself.

A perfect little momentum of my trip as it is Coupland’s view of Vancouver. I’m looking forward to seeing if any of his observations of the city match mine.

I leave Chapters and call in to the Rocky mountain chocolate shop to buy some cookies and chocolate nut/caramel goodies for later back at Jane’s. I then have the task of finding Burrard Skytrain to get home. I only take one wrong turn and one proper look at my map to find it which is pretty amazing for me, my sense of direction is normally so bad.

Back at Jane’s I let her hear my dodgy Nirvana covers on myspace page ‘Bleached’. She reckons this would go down a storm in Vancouver. Maybe I could come back and do a tour.

That night Jane’s neighbour, Cindy the hairdresser and her daughter, Cherish, play their music loud. One song repeats over and over. They’re like a Vancouverite version of my neighbours back home...

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