The Friendly Giant’s Castle

House_1thisCassandra lives in thisCastle just east of Chinatown in the notorious Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada.  If you’ve ever seen the tv show “DaVinci’s Inquest” you’ve seen the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. It really is like that, and maybe even worse.

When I moved here, people delighted in telling me that I was moving to a bad and dangerous area; I decided that it couldn’t be worse than parts of NYC and that living here would be training to go there. I haven’t found it so much bad and dangerous as disreputable and unsavoury. It isn’t always easy to live down here; the druggies and the street people make it difficult, at times, to hear, see, smell the things done on the streets just outside the door.

That said, parts of this area are almost pastoral and easy to romanticize. There’s a co-op across the way that (I think) is designed to resemble a little village in China. There’s an old school that looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. There’s a bunch of well-restored (and not-so-well-restored) craftsman and Edwardian homes just east of here, and, of course, Chinatown to the west.

Between Chinatown and downtown there’s the Valley of the Shadow of Death, an astonishingly gritty area between Main & Cambie, which almost acts as a crocodile-infested moat to keep the materialist riff-raff west in the core. The Valley of the Shadow of Death is being gentrified:serious money is being poured in, the word “mezzanine” is beginning to appear in the literature, and galleries and trendy design shops are appearing. Soon the Valley of the Shadow of Death will be in-filled with gold.

Sometimes there’s graffitti on my garage doors and it reminds me of the beginning of The Friendly Giant when you see his portcullis – with “The Friendly Giant” painted on it – open, and you’re invited in. I love thisCastle.

I recently acquired four weather gods to post at corners or just on the wall on the roof: names are Pluvius, Tempeste, Zeus and Vancouvus. Here’s some pictures of them on the roof on a table covered with a layer of uncharacteristic Vancouver snow.

Gods1_1Gods2They remind me of the winds at the corners of old maps.

They were made by a sculptor named Ken Clarke ( His work is lovely.

Maybe I am close to the vanguard of the materialist riff-raff moving here from other areas.

~ by thiscassandra on Wednesday 7 December 2005.

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