An Article I wrote

Discussion in 'The Scribe's House' started by Ender-Zero, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. Ender-Zero

    Ender-Zero Ruff Mercenary

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    So I wrote this a little while ago and it should be appearing in a blog soon. Sneak peek!


    Reflections of the riot, Vancouver and Boston: a match made in some place I don’t rightly want to know

    Here I sit, just over six months after the Vancouver Riots of 2011. Today is the first and only time that the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks will play each other in the regular NHL season this year, in fact, unless they meet in the Stanley Cup Finals for a second time it will be the only time they play this year. On this finely overcast day in Vancouver my mind if filled with memories of that night. The atmosphere was heavy and sad and angry. It was chaos. And there I was in the thick of it, not participating mind you, but observing like so many others.
    At the time of the finals I was living in Kelowna, but my roommate and I had come down from Kelowna for the seventh and final game of the series, and it’s a good thing we did, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this today. That day, June 15, 2011, started off with unlimited possibilities. I hadn’t yet decided where I would watch the game, or with whom. Not only that, but I wasn’t sure what sort of alcohol I’d be drinking, I figured I should be rightly shit-faced for the game, as any proper young hockey fan in Canada should be when their cities team could potentially bring home the long coveted Stanley Cup that has alluded this city for forty years. I quickly remedied all three of these mysteries. First, I decided that there was no where better to be than Downtown Vancouver for this most illustrious of events. No specific bar would do, to capture the true essence of the city in its uproar I would have to roam the streets and watch from TV’s in windows and follow the game through the mass amounts of Facebook status’ and Tweets that the social media presented me with on my phone. Secondly, I called my friend Matt. I hadn’t seen Matt in a little while and his classes were cancelled that day due to it being a ‘National Holiday’ or so said his teacher at the time. Thirdly, I made a prompt visit to the nearest liquor store and purchased myself a six pack of some beer that alludes me to this day. At this point things are not as vivid.
    I met Matt near Richmond city centre. We proceeded to consume a moderate quantity of beer, I remember him bringing various types of Granville Island Brewing products,and smoking copious amounts of cigarettes. It wasn’t long until Matt and I realised that we would need to head into Vancouver fast, there was a long line-up for the Skytrain station and it was only two hours until puck drop. At this point, either Matt or myself, I don’t quite remember which, got in contact with another one of our colleagues by the name of Brian, who was in school with Matt for audio engineering. Brian met up with us painfully slow, and once more, having consumed all of our beer, we made a trip to the liquor store. This time we chose rum. I believe it was Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum. Little did we know that bottle would never touch our lips. The plan at this point was to walk the streets of Vancouver with large cups from MacDonalds filled with rum, smoke mass amounts of Belmonts, and take in the atmosphere of a city holding it’s breathe.
    It’s not overly important, but I feel I should mention that I myself was wearing a Samuelsson Canucks jersey, and Matt had on an older Naslund Canucks jersey. So, there we were in downtown Richmond, we had secured booze and a modest plan for the day, and so we set forth to the Skytrain station to head into downtown Vancouver. Along the way we stopped and chatted with various people we knew who were either on their way downtown, or home, for the big game. Hockey to us Canadian is like American Football to the Americans, Baseball to the Japanese, and Football to the British. We eat hockey, breathe hockey, and shit hockey. Being in that atmosphere felt like the 2010 Winter Olympics all over again; every person was sporting Canucks attire as opposed to Team Canada attire, there was public drinking, people being much more friendly than usual, yelling, cheering, singing, face paint, flags, horn-honking, and all sorts of other merry-making. At least until the game started.
    After a short, and very cramped Skytrain ride, we departed only to be confronted on our way out of the station by a barrage of police officers ensuring no one was bringing liquor into the area. And this is where everything fell to shit. Matt had been holding our bottle of rum in his hand very nonchalantly, but the police decided his carefree attitude wasn’t enough to justify us bringing in a litre of rum to the city centre where we were obviously going to revel in the festivities of that fine summer day. We continued into Vancouver, now without alcohol, and finding that we were not the only people who had had the idea to watch the game from windows in the street. Everywhere I looked places were packed. Also, all liquor stores had closed early that day so the only way we could get more booze would be to enter one of the many, yet packed, drinking establishments in the downtown core. This seemed unlikely. When I want to take some time and mull over my options, I smoke. Then I smoke some more, and that’s exactly what I did at that moment. Unfortunately, my brain had not formulated anything beyond, “****, where to now, and when can I have some more booze.” Yet, a stroke of luck hit us. As Brian, Matt, and I finished having our cigarettes, we spotted an old work buddy by the name of Taylor. Taylor was with his girlfriend, whose name is slipping my mind so let’s refer to her as Sally. Now, Taylor and Sally were on their way to the Commodore Ballroom. Somehow Taylor’s family had gotten themselves on a list that allowed them to watch the game in there, and not only that, but the family had decided not to go. Taylor and Sally were the only two going of the five who had originally planned to go. Five. And they were two. We were three. Do you see where this is going?
    On we ventured into the Commodore Ballroom, having abandoned our original plan of street roaming and window watching, and bereft of our alcoholic beverages. I don’t think we even had to pay to go in since the whole affair had been arranged beforehand. The wonderful thing about the Commodore is that concerts are usually held there, so they have many bars and decent price. I went and got myself a few beverages. Three Miller Genuine Drafts to start I thought. The stage was now home to a giant projector screen and there we various flat screen TV’s scattered through the maze of people and booze that was the Commodore Ballroom that day. An amazingly enough, right after I had secured my beer and made a cheers with Brian, Taylor, Matt, and Sally, I turned towards the projector screen, and the puck dropped. This is when the city held it’s breathe.
    I won’t be going into details of the game itself, there are many people who have already done so and will do so, all of which will/are likely to be more in depth and better explained then if I were to do so. So for now I’ll just continue with my story of the people and the place where the riot occurred. This is the point where we skip ahead a bit. Basically, we had drank more beer, I believe I had switched to Canadian as it was cheaper, went out for a smoke during the first intermission where everything was as normal, went back inside, and by the time the second intermission started, everything had changed. Boston was up 3-0 on the scoreboard. Matt and I went outside to smoke, and the atmosphere at changed drastically. No more was the hopeful and merry attitude of the city full of smiles and chants. No, that city was gone. Replaced by it was a heavy cloud of disappointment and depression, filled with sorrowful mutterings and the occasional angry outburst regarding the officiating of the game to date. At this point someone passed me a weird cigarette and I gave it a little gander. This is around the time I started noticing how many people had backpacks and were sporting bandannas on some part of their bodies. This is when I realised how many people had come to riot no matter the outcome of the game. I quickly fled this scene with my new revelations still fresh in my head and got myself more beer to wash the bitter taste of what the day had become, from my mouth.
    When we left the Commodore, for good this time, Matt, Brian and I said our goodbyes to Taylor and Sally since they were going home and we felt like exploring the Vancouver scene more thoroughly. Also, a friend of ours by the name of Liam was coming to meet us very shortly. As I stepped outside, I was once again surprised by the new atmosphere that surrounded me. Still there were traces of disappointment and depression at what had happened, and even scarcer were the folks amount the masses that said “Well played Boston” and “There’s always next year” although I count myself among those few for what it’s worth. Now, raging and rampant the crowd had discovered a new chant, a new song, their slogan for the riot, so venomous in nature, “**** Boston.” And that was what I heard for the main pert for the rest of the evening, “**** Boston.” Liam met up with us and we heard reports about fires being started new the Library, something about cars being flipped over so we went to investigate the matter. On our way another weird cigarette found its way into my hands and I felt it was right to partake in given the circumstances. What better way to observe the decadence around me then with a little THC.
    I believe we were making our way through the intersection of Thurlow and Georgia or some such place, when we had our first experience of the riot. From my left there were suddenly shrieks and howls, and a seething mob surged towards me like a wave, and I had no choice but the run from it unless I were to be consumed and trampled. So intense was this mob and running frantic individuals that it absorbed everyone near it. And then, as suddenly as the wave had come, it was gone. Dissipated into scattered individuals not sure what had just happened, nor what had possessed them. I myself was lost to its mysteries, and found myself with a desire to find out what had cause the mob. I began making my way down the street, towards the area from which the rabid mob of running people had come from. I heard comments about tear gas being deployed, but none had been at this point. There was certainly a stench lingering in the air, I gather it was from the burning cars and overturned porto-potties. As I arrived at the origin point of the wave, I saw something mind-bogglingly stupid. Some foul-brained do-no-gooders were attempting to break into the BMO. And they were surrounded by a mass of spectators, many of whom were equipped with cameras or phones filming video and taking pictures. I stood, mouth agape in pure bewilderment at the scene before me. A group of rioters were breaking into a bank. While being filmed by thousands of people. Sure, some of them were wearing their oh-so convenient bandannas to cover their identities, but others made no attempt to hide who they were, and in fact, revelled in the attention they were receiving. I just didn’t know what they planned to do once they were inside the bank, they couldn’t get at the safe with the makeshift battering rams they were using to break in the glass. Sure enough though, they proceeded into the bank, just to walk around really, not doing anything important whatsoever.
    Not long after they had successfully broken into the bank, two more colleagues joined us in our spectating, Kevin and Mike. They spun a strange tale of women screaming about some guy who had either be thrown off, or had jumped off, of the Viaduct and was dead. We know now the details of the situation regarding that man, he fell, and I may be wrong about this, but I’m fairly sure he lived. Barely. And these odd tales continued from many others. Someone had told me people were trapped inside of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Closer to Granville Street looting had started to occur said someone else. And suddenly the police were forming up in downtown Vancouver, right beside the vandalised BMO, in front of the library that was littered with burning cars. There they were, in riot gear, some mounted, many on foot, and all I could think was, “Where do they keep those horses?”
    I wish I could cover the riots better from this point, unfortunately I had to leave the area. The mass hysteria was getting to me and I was running out of time. My roommate was back in Richmond already and wanted to leave to go back to Kelowna in a short period of time. I saw the police start moving forward, many people fled, many more did not. There was a constant influx and out flux of people coming and going. I saw porto-potties knocked over and a crowd trying to tip a car. Heard all sorts of nonsense, a fair amount of which turned out to be true, or partially true at least. Mostly, I felt the air and the mood of the city, it was palpable. Never have I felt anything like that before, the raw power and fear that gripped the city. The loathing that radiated from so many, and the underlying depression of it all.
    As my roommate and I drove back to Kelowna that evening and my mild intoxication began to fade, I was kept awake by the constant feed of current riot events from Vancouver through social media and text messages. I heard much of what was occurring, and I’m sure many of you have as well. To this day, and I know it hasn’t been long, I can’t find the right words to describe how it all felt to be there when it happened. What I can say is, I was in Vancouver when the riots occurred, and I won’t ever forget what it was like to observe that event.

    - Kyle Pearson
    January 7, 2012