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December 14, 2017, 6:39 pm Advertisments

I Boomer





November 25, 2017

Beer Bikes - To Go!

Sad news out of Amsterdam: they have banned the city’s Beer Bikes. WTF!?

Beer Bikes, who knew? These are specially kitted out, pedal powered, rolling bars that were quite popular with tourists. No shit. Rows of bar stools on either side face inward to the central bar service area. Riders swill beer as the contraptions rolled through Amsterdam’s historic streets with all that unique, picturesque architecture and alongside those wonderful canals.

In your wildest dreams could you imagine something like this wheeling through Gastown or along Granville Street at 2:00 AM?

In some parts of Europe, “a couple of beers” are often two litres! One wonders if the Beer Bikes were equipped with on board catheters. Frequent pee stops HAD to be required. What did imbiber riders have to do, pull an overhead cord like on the streetcar? (Forgive an old TTC rider. You can take the boy out of Toronto, but you can’t take the latent Big Smoke references out of the boy.)
DING! Wizz break. Put out the yellow caution flag.

Those picture post card, scenic, streets aside, seated facing the bar did not allow for much rubber necking unless you have the spinal flexibility of Linda Blair in the Exorcist. But clearly, sightseeing was not the primary draw of this conveyance. Sounds like a party and it was. Too much, it would seem for the town Vaders.

Beer Bikes were often booked out to groups, like birthday celebrations and stag parties. Yeah. Can you say “recipe for rowdy?”

It is not surprising that Amsterdam would have something as crazy as Beer Bikes plying its streets. The city’s reputation for tolerance of what is outright banned activity in much of the world was well known. Back in the Day Amsterdam was among the primary destinations for the back packing Boomer. Some put post secondary education on hold, or simply postponed getting a job, or taking up anything resembling responsibility to follow in the footsteps of Kerouac, Cassady, Lord Byron, Burroughs and the Buddha seeking wisdom, perception and an answer to the great cosmic riddle.
One local Dharma Bum in the neighbourhood squirreled together what he thought was a sizeable sum intended to see him through several months of the late 1960’s version of Le Grand Tour.

Seeing him kicking around our local streets a few short weeks after departure for the Continent,
“I thought you were going to Europe,” I asked?
“I did.”
“Back so soon?”
“I ran out of money,” he said with a somewhat guilty, yet self satisfied look on his sorry map.
It turns out he hit Amsterdam and quickly blew his travel nest egg on late night ladies, hash and Heinekens.
One man’s enlightenment, huh?

Thank goodness for the foresight of a return ticket.

P.D. Taylor



Novembe3r 10, 2017

Ninety-nine years ago the Great War was still raging in France. It would be another year before the guns on the Western Front would fall silent. The so called War To End All Wars had to be re-classified a mere 21 years later with the outbreak of the greatest conflict the world has ever seen, World War II, which ultimately claimed an astonishing 60 million lives, most of them civilians, non combatants.
War has been a constant since the dawn of humankind.

Our family has a proud tradition of military service. My maternal grandfather was wounded in WWI. Pieces of German shrapnel worked their way out of his body up until he passed away in the 1950’s. My Dad was a fighter pilot in Europe during WWII. He flew the legendary DeHavilland Mosquito, a twin Rolls Royce Merlin engine powered hot rod that flew over 400 miles an hour. It was the fastest airplane in the world until the P-51 Mustang entered the war.

My nephew is a career soldier who first saw combat as a teenage reservist in Somalia, before Black Hawk Down. He was supposed to be a peacekeeper.
“Peacekeeper,” he told me. “I was in a firefight every day, Uncle Pete.”
With years of dedication and intense training he eventually became part of Canada’s elite Special Forces. While serving in Afghanistan he was wounded when blown out of an Armoured Personnel Carrier by an I.E.D.

Our family is proud and pleased that Regimental Sergeant Major Taylor is now out of harm’s way assigned to passing on his years of experience and expertise training the next generation of our Special Forces.
Each November we pause to honour the men and women standing firm on the thin camo line and those who have nobly served in the defence of all that we hold dear, especially the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But this year something sticks in my craw. It is the settlement paid out to Omar Khadr. It is, quite simply, a disgrace!
What if the soldiers killed and wounded when he threw that grenade in Afghanistan were Canadians and not our American allies? Would our government have been so eager to pony up the dough?
And what of our First Nations brothers and sisters torn from their families, bands and culture to be systematically abused in the Residential School System? When many of us were living the Boomer high life as kids, our indigenous counterparts were being screwed, figuratively and literally! Surely, their human rights were denied. WHERE IS THEIR TEN AND A HALF MILLION BUCKS!?
The Omar Khadr settlement will figure in the next federal election and just might cost Mr. Trudeau his residence at 22 Sussex Drive.

Like many of his friends and peers, our Dad was a teenager when he joined the Air Force. When RCAF Warrant Officer First Class Robert W. Taylor returned to “civvie street” he continued to fly and teach others out of little, grass airfield in Buttonville, Ontario just north of Toronto. He never spoke of combat. Not a Dickie Bird, as they say in Cockney London, not a word about his time in the air. All of his WWII anecdotes were of an amusing or humourous nature, like this adage on life in the military:

P.D. Taylor



August 05, 2017

Canada Is Over

The other day our granddaughter noticed the small Maple Leaf flag tucked into a planter outside the front door.
“Canada is over,” she stated in her customary emphatic style!
Understanding that she probably meant the July 1st holiday and not the nation as a whole…
“Canada DAY is over,” I said “but our country, Canada, is not over and is, quite simply, the best country in the world.”

“Poppa’s blast of jingoism was lost on her completely, but our darling little three year old was aware that something concerning Canada recently happened and it must have to do with this flag because there were a lot of them all over the place. People had it painted on their faces!
That something, of course, was the national holiday celebrating Confederation, when our beloved Home and Native Land became a country instead of a colony. This past July 1st marked the milestone 150th birthday, our Sesquicentennial, a big word for a big day.

Regular visitors to the White Rock Sun may recall Publisher Dave Chesney and myself writing of our (mis)adventures as “Promo Men,” record company promotion representatives in the heady music days of the 1970’s and ‘80’s. To borrow liberally from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times; it was the BEST of times.” It was a 24/7, 365 days a year shitraise of epic proportions. I’ll bet neither of us can remember the number of promos we designed and executed throughout those years. Time and detail get blurred when you’re having fun. These weren’t jobs, they were gifts from God.
Besides the lost brain cells and damaged ear drums one take away from those years in the Music Business was the ability to recognize a good promo, regardless of whether it was our idea, or not.
This Canada 150 thing is one of those warranting a tip of the old promo Biltmore. Helluva job! The government obviously launched this, but Canuckleheads from coast to coast grabbed the puck and deked off with it.

How well did this work out? Lemme tell y ‘all from the neighbourhood experience. Our little corner of Beautiful British Columbia’s Lower Mainland celebrates each Canada Day with a day long fete in Town Centre Park culminating with a fireworks display. It’s generally a pretty big event, but this year it ramped up about 150%!
We live a couple of blocks from the park and can view the fireworks from a west facing, second floor bedroom window. You can’t see the lower level, sparkling and sprays as these are blocked by houses and trees, but the high altitude, sky burst mortars and rockets red glare are glorious to behold. Prior to the light show’s kicking off we can watch neighbours as they move on foot towards the park. Non locals flood our warren of small streets, crescents and cul de sacs with overflow parking.

I generally do not take in the fireworks at the park. A retail worker on the graveyard shift, I’m usually getting ready for work when the show gets underway around 10:00 PM. I can floss the teeth, or drink a cup of tea while watching through the window as colourful explosions light the sky. The fireworks are wrapped up by the time I get into the vehicle for the roughly 10 minute, drive to work.
Clearly, I did not factor the impact of the Canada 150 promo. The neighbourhood was in total gridlock. It has never been like this for the past 17 Canada Day’s we’ve been living here. Main arteries were clogged and all residential streets near the park were bumper to bumper with vehicles literally inching along if moving at all. I tried a couple of what I thought were turns known only to those who lived in the area to find that the massive crowds attending the fireworks display totally nullified any inside knowledge of the lay of the land. I dutifully took my place in the traffic that was basically seeping along.
Moving along with the traffic jam I noticed lots of young people walking in celebratory groups along sidewalks many of whom were wearing Canadian flags like superhero capes. They were keeping up with traffic. There were lots and lots of them openly and exuberantly demonstrating their love for our fine land. These kids appeared to be in the tween and young teen demographic. Was it nascent patriotism, or did they all get caught up in the Canada 150 hoopla? Either way it warmed this old Canuck’s heart cockles.
I’m gonna be late for work.

I started donating blood with my Dad over 40 years ago, with a hiatus in the 1970’s for obvious reasons: the sexual revolution had broken out and I enlisted and volunteered for front line duty immediately! The hedonistic, rallying troika of the era was Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll. Keep in mind, brothers and sisters these are not in alphabetical order, but rather priority.
I kept my blood to myself for a number of years, but returned to donating after settling down, getting married and having kids.

As part of the Canada 150 promo we were encouraged to set personal 150 goals to mark the occasion. Pledge to do one hundred and fifty sit ups every day while wearing a Team Canada Jersey! Volunteer 150 times to shoo bees away from Don Cherry’s suit jackets.
“Geez, Grapes, could you lay off on the Old Spice. You’re not helping over here.”
My blood donations have been adding up. I passed the milestone 100 and got the gold card some time ago and wondered if I might be close to hitting a buck fitty this year and wouldn’t that be fun for the Sesquicentennial?

As of this writing I sit on 142 donations. One can give blood every 55 days and though scheduled through the end of the year the math is against me.
“The good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise,” as Hank Williams used to say, I’ll hit the 150 donations next year and stick the commemorative pin on my Canada Day hat.

While we’re on the topic of holidays, Happy BC Day.

P.D. Taylor



May 26, 2017


Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Andrew, who?

Yeah, that’s about it.

The recent provincial election and follow up dramatics of absentee ballot tabulations and recounts thrust Andrew Who into the harsh glare of the limelight seemingly overnight. If John Horgan was a relatively unknown entity despite years in the Legislature leading up to this race, Andrew Weaver was Casper the Friendly Backbencher, table for one.

Not so invisible anymore, Andrew Weaver sits poised to be a true difference maker despite his team’s falling one seat short of attaining official party status. Official, or not, the Greens are in the catbird seats representing the imbalance of power in British Columbia’s first minority government in 65 years.

Weaver is going to have to call up all the political acumen, communication skills and dealmakers dark arts he can. He might want to bone up on his Niccolo Machiavelli. It’s called The Prince, dude. You can find it in the library. And how Green is that, showing up at the Public Library? I smell photo op. If the Medici’s, consigliere is a tad too harsh for y’all, how about Von Clausewitz? One presumes you already have your own, well thumbed copy of Lao Tzu. It’s time to crack the books and cram like a freshman on Ritalin and Red Bull.

The three seats won by the BC Greens is the best showing to date for the environmentally focussed party making it the first Green caucus in North America. It is a high water mark for the movement that garnered just shy of 17% of the popular vote. The proportional representation thing is a discussion for another day, but if it existed in our province, the Greens would be sitting in 14 seats, not 3. Just sayin’.

Naturally, Andrew Weaver and his two, plucky sidekicks will need all the pluck they can muster to navigate the political white water they’re about to be thrown into without a paddle. Never mind the paddle. These three aren’t even going to get a boat.

Some would argue that Weaver has only one way to go. Work with the NDP to draft and move forward some meaningful legislation in keeping with the principles of the green movement. Can they in all conscience side with Pipeline Christy, or LNG Terminal Christy, or Site C Debacle Dam Christy and still be able to show their faces in daylight?

And Ms. Clark finds herself in probably the most challenging situation of her political life. Not only does her own career hang in the balance, but also that of her party and its greater support network in the business, commodities and high finance communities. It’s kind of like a champion snooker player plotting several shots ahead, or a chess Grand Master knowing where his Queen has to be four moves into the future. Whatever does, or does not come out of this minority government for Christy Clark personally, she has to manoeuvre the party into the best position possible going forward. Minority governments never last too long.

The only thing certain is another election is coming.

Here’s wishing Andrew Weaver all the luck in the world and Horgan, too.

Let’s see what kind of pie fight Christy, Larry and Moe can pull off in the coming days and weeks.

P.D. Taylor



May 14, 2017

Beer/Mother’s Day

P.D. Taylor

Okay. Clearly, I’m out of step with the Zeitgeist, but whose idea was it to put orange peel in beer?

Beer is beer. God bless her and all who sail on her. But beer doesn’t need zest or anything else excepting maybe loud music, crunchy snacks, pizza, and sloppy sex.
Or a shot of Irish sitting next to it.

Don’t get me wrong; I love oranges, eating one almost every day. Vitamin C AND killer roughage, kids, in its own, easy to carry in your pocket, bio degradable wrapping. Oranges taste sensational, too.
Ditto for beer, but when I’m eating or drinking one, I don’t want anything to do with the other.

Blame this citrus in beer trend on Knucklehead Zero, the first person to stick a slice of lime in a Corona. Yeah that’s what you want to do to a freshly opened beer; instantly kill all the carbonation. A bit of delicious lime on the side is dandy, but don’t actually stick it in the beer. If you wanted a margarita, you should have ordered a margarita, Homes.

Take it from a seasoned campaigner: there is no shame in ordering a margarita and a beer at the same time. Let your tummy be the mix master.
It would appear that travel agencies and breweries are very big on “finding one’s own beach” with, no doubt, the able assistance of their products. So, you and the crew take the cue and hike through forests boreal and tropical to your own private Playa del Paradiso.

“The sun, the sea, the beautiful white sand; we’ve definitely found our beach. It would’ve been an absolutely perfect day if the beer hadn’t been flatter than piss on a plate!”
Wherever you are and whatever you’re sippin’, here’s to a 2017 summer that’s clearly bitchin’.

Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world.
- Jack Nicholson


Like most, I’d be nowhere without the guidance of my Mom’s gentle, loving yet firm, Virgo hand.

Boomers, if your Mom is still with you, God bless you both. Take Mom out for a beer, or split a six pack on the patio. My darling departed Mom liked a beer when she was younger, then switched to gin and tonic later on. But her Mom, my British born (Tyne Sider) “Nanny” loved a brewski or two.

The drinking age was lowered to 18 in my native Ontario one month before the 21st birthday. I had beers chilling as my Grandmother Emma came walking up our little street in suburban Toronto to help celebrate what was then a big day for those of us who grew up with British roots. Mom was at work as Nanny and I got to toasting my “coming of age.”

When Mom returned I was summoned to the kitchen. While we weren’t yet belting out “Knees Up Mother Brown,” Ma knew something was up.
“How many beers has your Nanny had,” she asked with a furrowed brow that could freeze a charging rhino in its path?
“Um, a couple,” I said with all the sincerity of Eddie Haskell playing Huckleberry Finn in a school production of Tom Sawyer.

“No more for her,” said the only person whose opinion I ever gave a damn about.
Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers and Grandmothers young and old everywhere.

P.D. Taylor



P.D. Taylor


May Day for potheads is fast approaching with the annual 4/20 celebrations about to light up.

In a narrow 4-3 decision the Vancouver Parks Board drew some kind of line in the sand by rejecting an application to hold a sanctioned 4/20 gathering at Sunset Beach. Last year’s unsanctioned event there drew some 25,000 herbophiles.
It’s a perfect spot and has been for at least forty years that I’m aware of. Yeah, unbeknownst, it would seem to certain elements of the Vancouver Parks Board, people have been enjoying a toke or two at Sunset Beach for decades. Also at English Bay, Kits Beach, Jericho, Spanish Banks, Queen Elizabeth Park, the University Endowment Lands and pretty much every neighbourhood ball park across the city.
“Get a five run lead and we can crack some beers. Get a ten run lead and we can smoke a joint.”

Mixed recreational league softball was a serious business in the 1980’s, but not THAT serious.

I knew nothing of 4/20 until hipped to the concept by my son during his misspent youth. The Boy and his peers would skip school and/or take the day off work to smoke four foot joints, hang, commune and frolic at impromptu Renaissance Weed Fairs. It all seems rather quaint up against today’s deadly opioid crisis, huh?

By the time the so-called 1960’s Revolution made its way to our little corner of Metropolitan Toronto if it wasn’t D.O.A. it was definitely coughing up blood. Marijuana, the revolutionary sacrament, was scarce and low grade. When any did come our way it was mostly dry as dust, Mexican ditch weed. One didn’t so much catch a buzz because of the THC content, but rather the oxygen deprivation from holding your breath so long. And the ratio of seeds to actual pot was probably 60-40, which meant you were kissing shirts goodbye all the time. The more you liked an article of clothing the more likely it was to be burned by an exploding cannabis seed. It was a sub clause of Murphy’s Law.

In our teen years most weekdays at 4:20 PM we’d be in my best friend Tim’s family rec room drinking tea, rather than smoking it, and watching Star Trek re-runs. This was way before Cable. In Toronto our Big 3 American network programming beamed across Lakes Erie and Ontario from Buffalo, New York. We could watch two hours of Star Trek back-to-back from 4:00 to 6:00. The second hour had two competing stations each airing a different episode, so we had a choice. The debate ensued.
“Channel 7 has the one where Kirk is hustling that blue babe.”
“Those antennae are strangely hot, dontcha think?”
“Yeah, but over on channel 4 is the one where Spock gets horny and has to deedee to Vulcan to get laid or he’ll die.” (“Amok Time” Episode 30. It was the Season 2 Premiere,)
“I love that one!”
“I thought I was going to die if I didn’t get some action, but it didn’t happen.”
“The dying or the sex?
“Kirk has to disobey Starfleet orders to divert the Enterprise to Vulcan. He puts his career on the line to help Spock get some.”
“Is that a wing man, or what?”
“Literally, as they’re flying in a Starship!”
“’The City on the Edge of Forever,’ (Season 1, Episode 28 written by sci-fi legend, Harlan Ellison and, arguably, the greatest Star Trek ever) this is not, but it remains one of the best. Punch it up.”
“Why would the Vulcan lass T’Pring choose that goof Stonn over Spock, anyhow?”
“Love is strange.”
“And it’s stranger on Vulcan. Thinner air.”
“He’s right, thinner air.”

A further debate could easily break out whether sex would be better on a planet with less, or more gravity, which was funny because none of us knew what sex was like on Earth, yet.
We were a bunch of teenage guys in a suburban rec room, drinking tea and watching Star Trek. Not exactly chick magnets, y’know?

For us, HIGH School involved booze more often than not. The full on party that was the 1970’s was just around the corner. Post Secondary? Now that was a wholllllllllle different thang. I studied broadcasting (Ryerson University, RTA Class of 1973). Those writing sessions, radio and TV labs were way more fun with a joint or two. And with Ryerson’s being located a block off Yonge Street (that Fun Street) in the heart of downtown Toronto, there were scores of bars within a few minutes walk. Yeah, we alumni often wonder how we managed to graduate, too.

Do the anti 4/20 members of the Parks Board have any sense or irony? It’s as if the local politicians’ amateur theatre collective, The Stick Up Our Arse Players, was mounting a 1960’s retrospective revue for Theatre Under the Stars and the Director asked, “who wants the play THE MAN?” And the Parks Board are waving their hands shouting: “ME! ME!”

Don’t you get it? The very essence of 4/20 is defiance. You’ve completely played into their prankster hands. A doob on the beach is great no matter what, but a doob on the beach when some wanker of a single ‘A’ level politico says you can’t is even sweeter. Just like in high school, the 4/20 kids are sniggering at their non sparkin’ classmates. The 4/20 kids are high, so they’re just as likely to be sniggering about a caterpillar on a lilac bush.
“That caterpillar is dope, man. Check it out.”
“Beautiful plumage, the Norwegian Blue.”

Across the line in the Uptight States of America, a number of states have legalized marijuana. Did you ever in your life think they would do it before us? The Prime Minister of our Great Dominion is talking legalization by Canada Day next year, but here in La La Land, some minor municipal functionaries are making a personal stand. To what end? What do you possibly hope to gain from this move politically? That loud whooshing these Parks Board members are hearing is the sound of time and tide passing them by. Don’t look now, but your irrelevance is showing. And the cool kids are still sniggering at you, but not behind your backs. They’re doing it out in the open, en masse on the Beach where you said they couldn’t.

There was a hippie joke back in the day: Why did the short hair (read: straight) cross the road? Somebody told him to. Why did the long hair (read: counter culture) cross the road? Somebody told him not to.
The hair thing is no longer a symbolic identifier, but it would appear the opposing sides in the evolution of weed culture are still very much entrenched in their positions.
Old jokes and old jokers fade away. It’s inevitable. We tired ass Boomer farts have yielded the pub’s shuffleboard table to the younger generations. It is fun to sit back, nurse a pint and cheer them on from the sidelines while they try to figure out the game.

So, to those who celebrate the season, Happy 4/20, y’all. Please remember to clean up after yourselves, m’kay? Don’t leave those Parks Board humps with anything to get pissy about.

P.D. Taylor



January 15, 2017

Ice Ice Baby

P.D. Taylor

Born and raised in Toronto, I became a “born again” West Coaster when relocating to Vancouver in the fall of 1977. I found myself in a part of our Home and Native Land devoid of winter as we in the rest of Canada understood the meaning of the term.

The winter of 1969-1970 found your humble scribe working outside in the Northern reaches of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Can you say, “Uranium City?” This was an obscure, little outpost, way to hell and gone in Northern Saskatchewan accessible only by air. What do you think the town was famous for? I love legendary Canadian rock band, Trooper for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Ra and Smitty are two of the nicest guys that ever walked the earth, but they are Hall of Famers to me for actually working Uranium City into one of their songs: “Real Canadians.”

The bulk of that winter was spent schlepping the bush on snowshoes, living in a tent north of the top end of Lake freakin’ Winnipeg. Check the map, kids. Yeah, up there. It was Jack London territory and cold beyond imagining. Temperatures averaged 20 below on the old Fahrenheit scale with periods dipping to an astonishing 40 below and wind chills taking it to 74 degrees below zero. I shit you not. There were times some nights crossing frozen lakes with the Aurora blazing across the sky that I swore I could hear the distant ring of sleigh bells and look off to see Lara and Dr. Zhivago blasting by in a Troika. Cue the balalaikas, Comrade.
I have come to value the experience more with each passing year, but enjoyable it was not. While I cling to the memories I prefer to live here where snow and ice are more commonly dealt with by Zambonis, or Sno-Cats on the ski hills.

That first winter on the West Coast was an eye opener. A record promo man for Capitol/EMI I was heading out to drop off the latest hits to CFMI-FM when she and sister station, the venerable CKNW was housed in a re-purposed supermarket on McBride in New West. Pulling out of the Capitol office in the Century Plaza on Burrard Street a light snow had begun to fall. This was barely noticeable to a native Torontonian. It hardly warranted turning on the wipers. I had yet to acquaint myself with local highways and byways so took the seemingly most direct route along Kingsway. Kingsway has always been a trip to drive. For a relative newcomer it was a delight.
During the call at CFMI the snow had kicked up a notch. Again, no biggie. Visibility was fine and accumulation was still minimal.

Suddenly, traffic was a nightmare. It was the middle of the day. Where did all these cars come from? Unbeknownst to me, businesses across the region started closing up and allowing employees to go home early clogging the streets with vehicles that not only began turning the snow on the streets to glare ice but impeding any snow removal assets from doing their thing with the plows and the salt.
Cars and trucks were everywhere skidding, spinning, sliding and coming sideways at you from every direction. Even a seasoned, navigate the 401 at night in a blizzard driver knew enough to pull over. You gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to park ‘em.
Determined to ride this one out from the sidelines I sought out a medicinal pint and called my boy Dave Chesney, a native West Coaster for some advice. I was a little shook up from the impromptu, bumper car course the slippery streets provided.

“There are two things you have to know about driving here when it snows,” Dave offered. “If you’re going up hill tromp on the gas pedal; if you’re going downhill, jam on the brakes.”

Yeah, that about summed up what I witnessed picking the way back along Kingsway to Vancouver.
The irony of that day was the snow’s turning to rain around about 5:00 PM when most would have been getting off work to rainy rather than icy streets for the commute home.
In the ensuing years snow was rare and when it did appear generally, like another fine Trooper song, “here for a good time, not a long time.” That old Vancouver adage rang true: sailing in the morning, skiing in the afternoon. Want to play in the snow? Go up to Grouse or Seymour. We’re going to sit on Bridges Patio, nurse one and watch the Granville Island Ferry bob by. Bring the binoculars and watch skiers on the Cut. Winter on demand. That’s the ticket.

Standard Operating Procedure when snow does arrive is: wait ‘til it rains. Let Mother Nature clear the streets for us. Welllllllll, in case you missed the memo, Climate Change has thrown all that thinking for a loop. Make no mistake. Another Ice Age is coming, but not anytime soon. The odd twist of the tired old phrase, Global Warming, however, is that all the snow and ice covering the Lower Mainland is the result of Earth’s getting warmer, not colder. It’s a puzzler, isn’t it, but there you go.

During that initial snowfall at the beginning of December our son took three passes at the sidewalk and I did two. We live on a corner, so have a much longer sidewalk around the yard. No squawk, just stating the facts. We prefer living on a corner and always have. The snow was coming down, but I’m no zealot. Left to my own devices I tend towards sloth and inertia. The couch potato in me realizes that snow is so much easier to deal with in small doses spread over time, so hit it early; hit it often. Shovel some, go inside for a hot chocolate and throw the toque in the dryer. Repeat as needed. And here’s the secret, numbskulls: WHILE THE SNOW IS STILL SOFT AND MANAGEABLE! Was everybody asleep in high school Chem. class? Solid, liquid, gas, anyone? Anyone at all?

Every once in awhile you have to, as was often said in my family, “get out and blow the stink off ya!” Shovelling snow is a marvellous opportunity to do this. It is also a marvellous opportunity for one of those shared, neighbourhood experiences. In today’s fast paced, sometimes insular, tech focussed, often self absorbed society we don’t interact with each other in person as we once did. It is amazing to step outside on a snowy night to the sound of snow shovels scraping concrete here and there. Up the street someone pauses, sees you with a snow shovel, nods, bends over and the scraping begins again. It was fun to be out there and quite literally see who on the block gives a shit. Memorize those faces and those addresses. They’re going to come in handy.

The stuff that wasn’t cleared was sopping wet, heavy and a pain in the ass to get rid of, sure, but in semi liquid state still much easier to deal with than when frozen. Guess what happened when the temperature plunged below freezing? That formerly wet, slushy snow was now granite. Even snow shovel owning idiots like me don’t have the tools nor the desire for that. I already snapped one vintage, cast iron chopping bar during the first cold snap at the beginning of December.

Snow removal became an oxymoron. At best the general effort was a lick and a promise. Plows appeared to make one pass and one pass only down backstreets and major thoroughfares alike leaving ridges of ice forming basic slot tracks and reducing most side streets to one lane traffic. Outside our city hall there are still mounds of rock hard ice in the middle of the street. How can the Mayor look out at that and not feel like a hump?
You hear all the time about its being the law that you have to shovel the walkway in front of your business or residence within a certain amount of time after a snowfall. While it is the law, does it really have to be? Do you have to be threatened with fines to do your civic duty? Can you not look out at a snow covered sidewalk and imagine it is your own, beloved osteoporosis suffering Mom, or Grandma trying to negotiate her way along the path? One slip and she can shatter like a pane of glass. Would it kill ya to get off your sorry, self indulgent butt for a half an hour and burn some excess holiday calories making the walk past your house safe for anybody’s Mom? Do we really have to send the cops, Chester? Are you that big a jerk?

Throughout the entire month of December in our little corner of the Lower Mainland I witnessed only one city snow plow-salter truck. Many concerned citizens manned the shovels keeping the sidewalks along their property clear. Pedestrians then, however had to contend with the streets themselves clogged, icy, rutted, awkward and quite slippery. Many side roads and residential streets are still ice covered and treacherous.
As local bombastic entrepreneur, broadcaster and entertainment magnate Bruce Allen would have said back in our shared music business days: “SHITTY, SHITTY, SHITTY, SHITTY, SHITTY JOB!!!”
The response by local communities across the region warrants a big fat “F” for both fail and flail. It was a disgrace.

An economist I’m not, but what do you think the negative impact was on local businesses? December is the biggest retail month of the year. The one month when many make or break the entire year. With most curb lanes clogged by mounds of ice and snow and its spilling over onto sidewalks further impeding passersby, how much did free standing Mom and Pop retailers take the hit this past Christmas? Just getting from point A to point B was slowed immeasurably. For a month we got used to the ZZZZZEEEEEE sound as vehicles tried to get up the slight grade of our street.
So here’s the kicker: If local municipalities across the Lower Mainland cannot handle the simple task of snow removal from the streets and sidewalks, how are these same entities of governance going to deal with a sizeable earthquake? We live along “The Ring of Fire,” for cryin’ out loud! Since setting foot in BC almost 40 years ago I’ve been hearing about the so-called “Big One.” You know that massive seismic event that is not a question of if but when it will hit?

Are the local powers that be simply going to wait ‘til it rains and washes the quake away?
God forbid it snows during an earthquake.
Make no mistake. If December 2016 is any indication, when the actual Big One does come we’re all going to be on our own.

P.D. Taylor








How’s that earthquake kit coming along?

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