Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dispatch 8-22-2005 -- Strathcona Hotel

“Where’s my wife and family? What if I die here?” -- Paul Simon

Monday night at the Strathcona, temperature dropping outside and the place is empty -- the crowds out there in the floodlights and vendor-glow of the Fringe Compound aren’t like gas molecules; they’re not Brownian Moving their way into this low-pressure area. Well, most of them aren’t; a screech from the direction of the north entrance calls our attention to the arrival of a pussy posse of slumming glittertrash:

“What did you say, bitch?!” It’s the unmistakable ear-pierce of the affronted Young Woman of Today; not even three steps in the door and a girl acting on behalf of the punkrock pool party in back had already cracked wise over the sequined tops and shimmery handbag trim making the scene. The scene escalates, people are rising from their chairs, the duly deputized representatives of barroom order show up... and the slummers get bounced right back out into the night.

“Are we seriously getting kicked out of the Strat?!”

Believe it, sugarpop; lines are being drawn all over this neighbourhood, and even the most arbitrary of boundaries’ll turn your average human animal into a territorial beast. Check out how the Fringe Fortress got fenced off like a fucking refugee camp, eh? This side/that side is a sign of the times, and some hoody-wearing rockin’ girls decided a line needed to be drawn right at the doorway to this ancient tavern, the ol’ Maginot of snobs-vs-slobs. Sorry your buzz had to be killed for the sake of homeland security.

That grass is always greener, isn’t it? I’m feeling it now... talk about demarcation lines, it’s like there’s an invisible forcefield in here keeping the bustle and bubble of the back from spilling into the dead n’ empty Old Man Bar where we sit, staring hopelessly into that Promised Land of pretty young things, draining draught as if it’s not going to give us the shits. A freelance photographer who’s paying for his drinks out of a Ziploc of loose change he scavenged from his dying grandmother’s house, a legacy rocker who’d be looping down some deep dub all over town if only drummers would return his phonecalls, and... me. Look out, ladies!

Jesus, is this how it’s gonna be? Is this it? I just came up from a weekend down in southern Alberta with my mom, my dad, my cop brother, his beautiful bride and their new baby... two middle-class mainstream married couples and myself. After a disastrous stab at having an actual discussion -- ever try to engage in the old give-and-take with a police officer who knows he’s correct? -- I just kept quiet ran the clock out with reading while babyshit and shopping and the weather and real-estate prices mingled with the gabble of the everpresent television. And damn me for a hypocrite, but I was jealous.

Not jealous of the giant mom-mobile or the faux-wholesome Pier One decor or any of the things... jealous of home. Jealousy’s a terrible enough emotion when you just unconsciously go with it, but when you stop and reflect and look into the heart of it, when you see that sick system of doubt and regret and shame and fear and embarassment that keeps the green slime flowing... And jammed in there like shrapnel, jagged chunks of every sweet chance I blew to fucking pieces.

It’s cold, and I’m drunk, and this place stinks like someone ate a urinal cake, shit it out, then ate that shit and threw up. I don’t want a home to go to; I want a home I never wanted to leave.

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