Memo to Translink: Here's a quarter, appoint somebody who cares.

On January 1, Translink raised fares for the fourth time in five years. A regular one-zone (i.e. intra-urban) fare went up 12.5 % from $2.00 to $2.25. When I moved to Vancouver in 2000 it was $1.50. For those of you scoring at home outside of B.C., if you're making a return trip from Surrey (pop. appx. 350, 000, a good chunk of which commute to downtown Vancouver) during peak periods, it's $8.00 return.

What's the fare increase paying for? Translink claims it has a comprehensive plan, but elements of the plan (such as the new trolley buses) have been promised to Lower Mainland transit users almost as long as the promise of Christ himself descending from the heavens, getting behind the wheel, and demanding exact change.

If you can read between the lines , the fare increase (and discriminatory property tax increases) pays for Gordon Campbell's pet project, the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver (RAV) Line ($2 billion and counting), to do whatever it pretty much feels like, even it means lying to the public and/or taking apart Granville Mall and not necessarily putting it back together again, the kind of thing one can get away with in a "Public-Private Partnership".

Meanwhile, workers and students either jam onto the meagre fleet of buses that travel the Broadway Corridor from Commercial Drive to the UBC Campus, or just watch them roar by overloaded with stressed-out passengers. It's easily the heaviest used transit corridor in Western Canada and about a third of Translink's daily ridership.

Unfortunately, give or take the new Thunderbird Arena, the Broadway Corridor doesn't have enough 2010 Olympic bells and whistles for Translink and their BC Liberal puppett masters to install rapid transit that would actually help people. It's like they're looking more for a Montreal-type legacy than a Barcelona or Sydney-type legacy.

Oh, and the fact that the old money wastes of skin in the neighbourhoods en route, Point Grey and Kitsilano, think transit is for icky poor people who have business being anywhere near them. When it comes to "partnership", they (and the corporate sock puppets they vote for) love it private, and hate the public.


Aiko! Aiko!

Japan has convened a special panel to debate the possible acsension of Princess Aiko
(ie: a female) to the Chrysanthenum Throne.

Polls conducted on the issue show a 79 to 85% approval rating for a potential Empress. Princess Masako won't be producing a male heir due to a pronounced mental disorder. I 'm not sure which one, I think it's the one you get when the entire country wonders if you're late with your period. As it looks now, Crown Prince Naruhito and Maskao either adopt, start training Aiko (currently age 3) to assume her future duties, or drop the monarchy altogether.

That begs the question: does the overwhelming support for Aiko's ascension come from the general acceptance of a woman as monarch, or the fear that a royal tradition that survived 2600 years and a nuclear war will come to Masako's sudden, reclusive stop?

Either way, recent history proves when it comes to royalty, Japan could do a lot worse. At least Aiko has cleared the big hurdle to upward mobility in Japan, what with being born there and all.


The Nominees AREN'T.....

This morning The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 77th Oscars on February 27. After a quick glance at the nominees, I was disappointed that the two movies which generated the most notoriety, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" were left off the list.

This pretty much means I won't be watching the Oscars again this year. There are people who do, and claim that it's as much a TV "event" as the Super Bowl is. I disagree, in that unless you've seen the movies that are nominated, you can't have an emotional stake in the outcome. By contrast, even if you haven't followed the Philadelphia Eagles or the New England Patriots since training camp, at least the competition of that one game unfolds right before your eyes.

For the record, the only Oscar-nominated film I saw in the past year was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", which I enjoyed greatly, but only rated a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. I seem to have a different idea of what constitutes a good movie than the Academy does. I like movies that are honest, well-made, clever, and can draw a crowd. However, pretty much anything I enjoy is shunted from consideration because it's "genre" (give or take a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or a Lord of the Rings) or because it's funny. Maybe Woody Allen cursed movie comedies in general by beating out "Star Wars" (a movie which redefined the industry) for best picture with "Annie Hall" in 1978.

So why was I so big on "Fahrenheit" and "The Passion"? The culture wars, or course! Moore beat out Spider-Man for a People's Choice award: I wanna see how he'd do up against Jesus! Don't get me wrong, I like Mike, I have him as a link, but F9/11 is not his best film: it's a scattershot name-calling rant without the tight central focus of a "Bowling for Columbine" or "Roger & Me", but the man has unfinished business from the "Shame on you" speech! As for "The Passion", it's pretty much a slow, creepy fetishization of biblical violence, but I wanna see Mel Gibson's wacky retrograde Catholicism laid out in his acceptance speech for all to marvel!

Of course, the part that would have generated a record TV audience for the Academy would be the reaction of of Anti-War Activists/Christian Fundamentalists when "their" movie wins/loses! "Conspiracy!" "Politically motivated!" "Recount!" Wait....how would this differ from who usually wins at the Oscars?


"We're here, we're queer, for the last time, get used to us...and Stevie, be a dear and shut the f**k up!"

Of all the non-issues that drive me to fits of eye-rolling annoyance, the one that has kept the retinas spinning the most lately is the same-sex marriage debate. The Conservatives, no doubt sweaty, giddy and breathless from watching hours of porn (i.e. the Bush inauguration) on Fox News Canada yesterday, are once again looking to divide this country over the issue of whether or not two people of the same gender can book a caterer and get a few invitations printed.

Our story so far: The Supreme Court has spoken, and the government will be looking to pass legislation to reflect what they said . Meanwhile, Stevie Harper, in a fit of opportunistic cross-cultural "Gott Mitt Uns", is trying to rally ethnic communities who traditionally back the Liberals to take a stand for 'traditional' marriage. Ironic, given the variety of traditions some of these communities have historically applied to marriage: you know, the woman as property, the institutionalized rape, the sanctioned domestic violence. Meanwhile, in the 'western' tradition that most Conservatives subscribe to (and renew their subscriptions with the usual Islamophobic riffing about a clash of civilizations), marriage began as a secular (which in 2005 terms, would mean evil), civil ceremony, which would be later blessed by the local church.

Paul Martin, to his credit, has responded to Stevie Wonder's intolerant gambit by calling his bluff. The only upside to this current mid-winter outbreak of homophobia is that it appears that the bigots among us have stopped claiming homosexuality is a gateway to pedophilia. Too bad they now claim it's the gateway to Polygamy.

Geez, with all the trouble some people are having trying to marry just one person they love, why would they want any more spouses? If you're that opposed to same-sex marriage, don't have one.

Hail Satan...er...to the Chief!

The White House claims this gesture is the 'Hook 'em Horns' salute, which the President gave to the University of Texas Longhorns Marching Band.

That would explain everything, until one realizes that Bush graduated from Yale....


Ticket Scalpers: Entrepeneurs or GRAVE ROBBING BASTARDS?

I have an immediate family member who used to work for Ticketmaster, and was chummy with a number of "re-sellers" for major events in Vancouver. In that bleak interregnum at the turn of the century, when the Canucks were still reeling from the Mike Keenan era and the Grizzlies had not yet bolted for Tenessee, my trips to "The Garage" were often interrupted by the scalpers sorry tales about how both clubs various discounts and ticket packages were "killing" them. These annoying little corpses went even colder with the NHL lockout.

As the entire world is aware, the Tsunami of December 26 saw over 120,000 people (and counting) get killed FOR REAL. Individuals and communities across the globe are responding to help, and in Vancouver that includes the artists and staff of another company this same family member once worked for, Nettwerk Records. Two Tsunami Relief concerts will be staged later this month at General Motors Place and Calgary's Penngrowth Saddledome to raise money for orphans, rebuilding infrastructure, medical supplies, and whatever else it will take to help the survivors.

Sadly, at various web sites and classified ads before the shows, as well in front of the arenas, the vile, subhuman cancerous waste of skin known as a ticket scalper will be raising money for himself! Tickets for the Vancouver show that went originally for $40 are now being priced at over $300, as scalpers hope to recover from the lack of an NHL season by cashing in on one of the worst tragedies in human history.

There are days when I have difficulty explaining to people what's wrong with capitalism. My heartfelt backhanded and cynical thanks to these hard working Canadian businessmen for making it glaringly obvious.


"And here's to you, Mr. Vander Zalm, Jesus loves you more than you will know..."

After the crash and burn candidacy of Mary Polak in Surrey-Panorama Ridge, I would have thought that the B.C. Liberals would have learned something about nominating candidates from the "values" crowd. Unfortunately, for North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Dan Jarvis and the remnants of the moderate wing of the caucus,
the values crowd are still looking to bully their way in.

In some respects, courting the likes of Mary Polak and Cindy Silver may constitute strategic thinking for Gordon Campbell, the NDP has pushed the polls to the margin of error, leaving next to nothing in the middle. The Green Party is hanging on to its true believers and most of the "f**k 'em all" voters, which could do the number on the Liberals they did on the NDP in the close races of 2001. All that's left is the 5% in the hands of Social Credit, B.C. Reform, Unity B.C., and whatever else is splintering on the right.

However, for every seat in the suburban Lower Mainland or the Interior where the Liberals might rack up bigger numbers for taking on "f*gg*ts" and "f*m*n*z*s", they risk being dismissed from several seats on Vancouver Island and in the City of Vancouver. Running candidates with backgrounds in organizations like Focus on the Family, in the least religious province in Canada is not necessarily a bright idea.

People will tolerate a certain amount of bullsh*t, which the Campberals have shovelled out consistently for the past four years, if it means keeping the scary NDP boogeyman on the Opposition benches. However, once a side of hate-mongering is added to many British Columbians' serving of bullsh*t, the boogeyman starts to come off looking pretty reasonable.

Update (01/13/05): No 'Silver' lining for Cindy, as Jarivs wins handily.



Please be advised that effective immediately, all 'Happy New Year' greetings, unless they are in Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, or Japanese, will cease and desist.

However, cheques dating '2004' will still be accepted.


The recent snowfall in the Lower Mainland created a run on the meagre supply of sleds, tobaggans, and krazy karpets (tm) at local retailers. Not to be denied the opportunity to hurtle themselves down the icy slope at China Creek Park, my neighbours in East Vancouver once again illustrated their flair for creativity and independent thinking by making heroic descents with the use of:

-garbage bags
-cardboard boxes
-laundry baskets
-shower curtains
-de-wheeled skateboards
-a decapitated mannequin
-a Re/Max lawn sign
-a toilet seat (with flap)
-a frisbee
-a large dog
-a City of Vancouver 'Road Closed' sign

Feel free to experiment with any of these items on a snowy hill near you. Your mileage may vary.