As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting at the corner of West Georgia and Bute in Vancouver, British Columbia. Yes, it’s true – I have moved across the country and left Halifax.
I planned on writing my “farewell” post to Halifax while still in the city but it felt a little too sentimental for my liking. In fact, even saying “farewell post” right now just made me throw up a little. I had been planning on moving for a while but recently the process was expedited and so here I am in Vancouver.
Poor, poor Barrington Street. So much potential yet so many empty storefronts. There is a lot I dislike about Barrington, and lot that I really and truly love. Freak Lunchbox is always a good time. Venus Envy has its charms. The Khyber and its Carbon Arc film series are injecting some cache back into the street (and they also let FPQT host the Oscar party this year). But I think my favourite spot, which comes as no surprise to my followers on Twitter, would be Obladee: A Wine Bar.
I have had far too many good nights at this establishment and the staff are unfailingly nice. There’s something about having a “local” where a few people recognize you and know your name. It’s kind of like the theme song for “Cheers” in that sometimes you really do want to go where everyone knows your name. Of course, when I want that to happen I go to Menz Bar which, lovely as it may be, is not Obladee in any sense of the imagination.
My friends and I were regular visitors to Obladee and if you haven’t been yet – GO. NOW. If you can find dissatisfaction in a place that serves wine, charcuterie and cheese by the board then I have nothing to say to you. All of that good stuff aside, I think my favourite thing about Obladee was the fact that I could write there instead of Starbucks and pay the same amount of money for a drink. Oh sure, sometimes you need coffee but that’s only sometimes; in my opinion you always need a glass of wine. Bonus points for Obladee: they’re active tweeters so follow them here.
So those are the highlights. Glimmers of promise and hope among a faded icon. I suppose you’re expecting me to write a list of what I would change about Barrington Street but I’m not going to do that for two reasons.
Number one: I live in Vancouver now. I’ve got enough on my plate.
Number two: There are far more capable people than myself like, for instance, the Downtown Halifax Business Commission (DHBC) who will champion the cause.
My only request to everyone is that you be open to any and all changes suggested for Downtown Halifax. The city has a lot of promise and even though I’ve only been in Van City for a few days, it’s amazing to note the similarities and contrasts between the cities.
But enough of that tripe – it’s time for the funny stuff!
Though my blog may not suggest that I am concerned with people other than myself – and let’s face it, generally I’m not – I do occasionally volunteer and try to make the world a better place. About two years ago, I volunteered with the DHBC and the Chronicle Herald Parade of Lights. I wanted to do something fun and local, and the parade is pretty high profile so it was a win-win-win situation. There were several positions you could apply for and being that I was in PR school, I was aiming for something communicative or organizational. You know, to prove myself or something. I indicated that I would take on the role of Route Supervisor (I can’t remember the actual title but that sounds close enough). So as I count down the days until the parade, I wait for the email with my job posting and think, “Oh this is going to be so easy”.
Easy would not be the word I would use to describe my experience. Perhaps the volunteer coordinator recognized something special in me because rather than filling the static role of supervisor, I was made a Parade Route Marshal. Sounds impressive, right? Well it was. Now my duties extended beyond standing in a fixed location, like I had planned, to walking the entire route of the parade and managing seven floats. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I took the neon vest and clipboard and owned that position. Have you ever come across a crossing guard who took their job a little too seriously? Maybe they brought their own stop sign from home? Or maybe they ran their assigned crosswalk with military like precision? Well, I’m mildly embarrassed to say that I was like that with my floats. The only saving grace I had to distract me from becoming the Il Duce of the Parade of Lights was the Z103 entry that was playing Daft Punk on a loop. If anything will soothe this savage beast, it’s the boom boom of some French electro house.
Aside from Z103, I was put to the test with my other charges. Between dodging questions about the true existence Santa Claus from the children in the Dugger’s car, tolerating the frustratingly loud band of musicians whose days in the sun are all but behind them and a group of surprisingly sassy library employees, I exercised every client service muscle in body that night. Finally the parade began and we set off from the dockyard to Barrington Street, spreading Christmas cheer and whatever else you may glean from a parade in November. As far as being a route marshal, I was doing a bang up job. I would even venture kick-ass but you all know me, I’m a modest sort of guy. Yes, all was going exceedingly well until the library folk started pandering to the crowd.
Now, when I’m in a position of authority, I can let a lot of things slide in the interest of maintaining harmony and productivity. As long as you do your assigned tasks and maintain a professional demeanour, I don’t see why you can’t have fun at work. That being said – when I’m your parade route marshal and you create a three minute gap in the flow of a parade, I’m cracking the whip. The library folks were dressed up as superheroes, villains and assorted characters so naturally the children LOVED what was happening. They joked, they played their characters, they brought life to the library association – it was a lovely thing to witness. However with a schedule to keep, I started to hurry them along saying that we can’t have gaps in the parade because it ruins the experience. Side note: I can sell ANYTHING.
Well, I met with some opposition to this initiative and a few snide comments from the library staff. If I may single two out: The Joker and Cruella DeVille. As a gay man, I love Cruella DeVille; she’s Disney’s first drag queen – come on. On this night, however, these two characters took their roles perhaps a little too seriously. Though, I suppose we were both guilty of this. At any rate while I was trying to maintain order among the walking floats, I neglected to notice the technical trouble the Dugger’s float was experiencing. Nothing too drastic but a few stalls are a red flag for any experienced route marshal. Despite flags of any colour being raised, I prioritized keeping the parade intact rather than checking out what was up.
The rest of the evening went on without any major hitches: the gap widened but then slowly closed, the band reliving their past droned on and on, I thought about lying in front of a truck to mercilessly end my tenure as most apathetic route marshal ever and the Z103 crew danced their collective pants off. Basically, it was shaping up to be a normal Halifax parade. Then we hit University Avenue.
In retrospect, I could/should have titled this last entry University Avenue but I feel the real drama started on Barrington Street with the library “float”.
Post script: You were a walking entry. Get your shit together and keep time with the rest of the parade. You knew what you were signing up for. Oh, and to The Joker, “The Dark Knight” was old news. “Why so serious?” Why so ridiculous? Hmm? Answer me that.
The Dugger’s car was nearing the top of University and suddenly those innocent stalls took their toll on the mini car leaving it dead on its feet…wheels…whatever. As the finest example of a route marshal EVER, I put these statuesque thighs to work and pushed that little Matchbox car to the end of the parade route. In fairness, that was about one city block which in Halifax consists of about eight houses. Regardless, I like to think I saved the parade. Children on the street were high fiving me. The kids in the car thought I was “really strong”. The driver kept apologizing as if I had any authority to punish him. I’m sure had Santa Clause witnessed my dedication, I would have been rewarded with what I’ve always wanted for Christmas – a sack of money with a dollar sign on it and my own HBO special. I left the car with the driver at Subway on the corner of Robie and Spring Garden after he assured me that my job was done and triumphantly walked back to Parade HQ to turn in my neon vest.
And that, my friends, is about as farewell as I will get. As you are reading this, I am exploring what Vancouver has to offer and accumulating stories of embarrassment that I will post on a new blog. When will that launch you ask? I have no idea but at any rate it will launch. Thanks for reading thus far and I hope you continue to follow my antics because I’m going to keep writing them down.
I just realized I haven’t seen the blue Dugger’s car since that parade…