May 30, 2008 - 11:31 am
last night, we met up with friends at the alibi for drinks. they're focusing on bringing in really good local beers and the selection is amazing. it was good times and I'm a bit queasy this morning because of it. Walking home from the alibi last night was crazy, however. yes, we live on the outskirts of the dtes and yes, it can be crazy sometimes, but last night was totally freakish. it was the day after welfare wednesday and there must be some bad-ass crack going around.
just a few steps from the police station, a guy lay with his head all swollen and red from a recent beating. he was just out there laying in the middle of the sidewalk mumbling. none of us had cel phones, so we didn't call police and there was a lot of shouting and people milling around the main & hastings intersection less than a block away.
then we turned onto our street and we could see a prostitute pulling up her pants on the steps of an old age home across the street from our co-op gates. to top it off there were 3 crack heads smoking crack behind the rhodo bushes of our co-op, hunched under the windows of the main floor apartment. if the windows were open, the apartment would have been filled with metallic crack fumes. one of the biggest guys stepped out from the bushes onto the sidewalk when he saw us coming and said to us: "crack makes you strong and clever". oh, okay, mr. crackers. thank god i live on the 3rd floor.
now, none of this is news, obviously. the downtown eastside has struggled with poverty and drugs and it can be kind of freaky for outsiders. hell, it's freaky to me and i love this neighbourhood and have lived here for 5 years. there's not a lot of violence and there is definitely a strong community spirit that resides here.
my hood, which is tucked into the dtes. i also have a love/hate relationship to all the gentrification that is going on. we need all kinds of people living here...but with rentals, seniors, artists and immigrants being forced out in favour of renovating and flipping million dollar homes, it seems the concerns of the whole neighbourhood get ignored. sure, you'll get pissed when your car windows get smashed or when a junkie takes up residence on your front steps to shoot up, but not much is being done to make this community more livable for everyone.
i don't know what the solutions are, but last night seeing the sadness of this city it's obvious that turning a blind eye doesn't work either.