Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sunday @ Broken City.


Sunday was pretty quiet at the Epcor Center. It was the second morning I woke up in my new apartment in the Plus 15, and I had a good sleep. I got moving slowly but made my way down to an Apartment Block Yard Sale. Where I found some good deals, including a sweet matching green vest, to help me tackle the chilly streets. I also lucked out and used Anthea Black's shower. What a sweet heart.

I stopped by the mall on the way back and found the looney store. I forgot that Dollar Store's in Calgary are mostly filled with Items above the price of a dollar. They will hear from my lawyers.... (empty threat). I also stopped in at a costume store and tried out a few disguises.

Who's that guy? Yep. It's me. These frames are doing nothing for me, but the card board tagge hides a good amount of my face. "Final Grade: F+"

I spent the afternoon, crafting and getting aggrivated as I attempt to update my last few days on the blog. My original plan was to update my blog every day so that people could read up fast on what i was doing. But my MacBook is nearing the expirary date so it really wasn't working out managing my files. Urrg... Any way, I'm updating my blog now (incase you were wondering what you are reading, its the memoirs of Citizen Justice. More specifically Justice in Calgary, attempting to do good.)

I crafted together a "bat-signal" for my living space.

Its getting late, I head out.
Destination: Broken City.
Reason: Karaoke.
Community Research.

"With the direction I'm going, I can walk about three blocks indoors using the Plus 15"

Walking the streets of downtown Calgary on a Sunday night, I notice the absolute lack of people. With the exception of Friday and Saturday nights, Downtown Calgary pretty much shuts down after six. The lack of night life Downtown seems to be a problem with location.

I read on the City of Calgary website that 30 people live downtown. Strangely most of the pedestrians I see, unfortunately live on the streets. But they are huddled in small sections of downtown. The C-Train runs on 7th Avenue and dumps people off ever 3 blocks, but they don't have many places to go.

Stephen Avenue (8th Ave) has some restaurants, bars and some theaters and two artsy cinemas. But there I feel an elitism as these places seem to market to the business people who densely populate the area in the afternoon. But by now they are watching tv in Suburbia, and they sure don't want to get in their cars after spending an hour or more in traffic to get home.

17th Ave seems like an ok place, if your looking for a pub or restaurant any night of the week, but the ten block stretch between there and the c-train is a graveyard with 30 story tombstones.

Luckily, small pocket communities exist. One for example is the tight crowd of Karaoke Enthusiasts for come out weekly to the Broken City. I'm sure there must be communities like this huddled in corners all over Calgary, but you might never know about them, this Karaoke scene however has some good word of mouth.

The tedious selection process has ended.The Tedious task of flipping through the song book, trying to find a song that both fits my frame of mind and my vocal range. Luckily a beer will help me delude myself into believing I have a vocal range. I think society needs more chance takers.

I look through the book three times before I finally decide to take on the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

I am about to fire the Boss.
Thanks to Sarah Adams-Bacon for posting this Photograph.

Here is a montage of some of the hits of the night, notice my performance is strategically cut short. But don't worry, it was awesome.

Citizen Justice, Ben Jacques, Ryan McLure
This is a picture of me hanging out with Karaoke wizards Ben Jacques and Ryan McLure.

After the fun was had, I went outside and caught some air while simultaneously conducting a verbal interview with Bo, who works at Broken City. Eventually it turned into an interview with Clay, the head-door-man and karaoke host at Broken City... here's what they said....

So... Bo, what's the deal with Calgary? What do you think needs to be fixed?
Calgary? Definitely start with the fucking infrastructure. Driving in this goddamn place is a hell hole.

You drive a car?

Do you ever ride a bicycle?

Any problems with that?
No, not at all?
Infrastructure? Can you elaborate.
Sunday! Just the way the city was designed. It unfortunately wasn't geographically intended to grow up, which it should have, instead it grew out... like a Cancer on the ass end of Alberta.
Red Deer? (says Clay who aproached our conversation midsentence)
No Calgary? how it grew out instead of up...
We are still alot prettier than Edmonton.
I don't know if you've ever seen the Edmonton River Valley in Bloom... it's Fucking Beautiful.
I have to say, this time of Year in Calgary is pretty nice with all the leaves changing colors.
It is, it is, it is nice.
Thank you, we have alot more greenery downtown than most major cities in this Country.
That's true. I'll support you on that.
Hey man I'm in love with the Praries, I don't want to be in a metropolis that looses edge of where it came from.
I grew up in Red Deer, Parkland... It gorgeous. I wouldn't go to the bars, but...
Well Red Deer is still small town Roots.
Is there anything you would like to see changed for the Better in this city?
Our downtown needs to be more Vibrant.
I appreciate what they are trying to do by building condos and office buildings, but it doesn't bring people down town. If you wanna bring people downtown you let restaurants and nightclubs be successful, and maintained. And you encourage people to come shop, and eat and drink and hang out downtown and try and vacate your homeless. Instead of scaring people out of downtown, encourage them to come down town.
Which is what happened here on 11th and on 1st, its why all the bars are closing and they are building condos. Sure people want to live downtown, but give them a reason to stay down town, they shouldn't have to go to the boonies to find something to eat and hang out and feel comfortable.
What do you think about the current anti-homeless ad campaign downtown?
I think it works perfectly, I lived in Las Vegas for a long time, and their down town core is beautiful, their surrounding core is beautiful and I don't know what they did to get rid of the homeless? But you would think in all places, Las Vegas would have a vibrant homeless population. But they don't, you really have to look for homeless people in Las Vegas. Here they will find you. It's sad because this is a beautiful city and we don't need to be overrun by that. I don't know what they did to fix it in Vegas, I don't know what there plan is to fix it here. It would be nice to walk down the streets downtown and know that I'm ok, with out getting asked for change or smokes every fifteen feet.
But beyond getting harassed by the homeless... what could else could be improved in the downtown core?
I wouldn't say its harassed. It just make you uncomfortable...
But in the downtown core, if you got rid of the sketchy people, by any means necessary, the other problems will follow. You could set up programs for homeless people, and down on their luck people and their are several programs in the city that deal with that very nicely, its just a matter of reaching out to them and getting them to do it.
Aside from that we have a beautiful down town, two major rivers very close by, there's a lot of park space, its a beautiful town.

Also.. what are you recording this for?
Uh... I'm gonna use it, to write on my blog...
Cool. Well I love this town I think people give it a bad rap. I grew up here and its still a small town, Everybody knows what the score is in the flames game. Everybody knows its stampede and they are happy to help you out. Their are a lot of good things about this town.
Well thank you, Clay. Have a good night.

Well... that interview took a surprising twist. Being in somewhat of a non-confrontational mood I thought I would save my opinions for my blog.
For the record, I would like to see Homeless people given the help they need. I'm gonna suggest that when Clay said to Vacate the homeless... he really meant House the homeless... but I don't wanna put words in his mouth.

Examples of Ads produced by the Calgary Downtown Association.

I'll admit to baiting him into admitting he liked the Calgary Downtown Association's terrible ad campaign that I personally find offensive. It basically dehumanizes homeless people into a stereotype to raise public apathy towards the problem. "I got mine, Jack." It asks you to give to agencies not panhandlers so that the can help. That's a good premise, and early on many groups were involved with the CDA, helping the homeless, but since this ad campaign began using grossly offensive imagery and stupid slogan "you're sympathy is killing me", most organizations that programs that help have been alienated and asked to be removed from their website.

Further more, Calgary is a big city... so its going to have to get used to weird stuff going on. That's the nature of high population living. I assume also getting asked for smokes is more annoying if you smoke, but really is that going to stop you from going to where you want? Show some courage, Dammit.

These public art sculptures are rumored to affect wind speeds on Stephen Ave.
On my way home to the Epcor Center, I stopped on Stephen Ave to take a picture by these public art things... I was slowly approached by a young man who asked me for some spare change to buy some food. I wan't carrying any money on me, but I offered to buy him something. I was a little tipsy and feeling self righteous after mentally disagreeing with Clay, so we walked about four blocks in the opposite direction to "the Sketchy Mac's." A convenience store located right off the C-train, often populated by "sketchy folks" and one might assume you could buy all sorts of drugs there too... but I wouldn't know for sure. Anyway, on the walk over he explained that he was from Saskatoon and had been traveling with some friends who ditched him in the city, now he was waiting for his Auntie to get paid to buy him a bus ticket home. Being from Saskatoon myself I connected with this story, so I asked him what the City of Saskatoon was like these days? He said "it was getting crazier. There's a native gas station (Creeway gas) that started selling cheap cigarettes on 20th, and now the gang activity is getting out of hand." I asked him if he knew about the Drop-In center where he could probably sleep for the night and he said he already tried going there and got beat up, and the same at the Mustard Seed. He said he didn't realize at first people were using the codeword food for drugs, so when people asked him if he had any food and he had a sandwich he was in trouble. Regardless, I bought him some legit food at the Mac's, some chips and pop and bananas, and gave him ten bucks to hopefully be spent wisely... On my way home, I patted myself on the back and thought, "man... I can't afford to keep doing that every day..."

Citizen Justice exorcising the drunk demons.

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