Well – it’s 7:47 on a Wednesday night. What does this mean for an alley in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on one of the few warmer days we’ve had since summer started, like, yesterday? *In Vancouver it has been unseasonably chilly, so it really feels like summer should have rolled out a lot sooner. On this present night, one of the ‘colourful characters’ (if grey is a colour) who claim the alley behind us as their domain alternate to Hastings street, is singing this Adele song. I can’t help but somehow relate to that person, who’s voice I hear coming through the screen door, because I have also found myself singing aloud this addictive tune. My ‘all’ and her ‘all’ may even be much the same – if by ‘all’ Adele means the love and warmth of the world in one. But we are worlds apart, even if just separated by a single story balcony, and I’m not sure who is to blame for the difference. One thing is clear – the people down there are troubled. There’s no limit to the places I’ve seen needles entering veins, and I’ll spare you the details because if you really want a look you can always go see it in the flesh. I’d love to investigate, though futile it always feels, to source out where the break is in our social structure that allows some unfortunate few to slip through the cracks, spiralled towards the existence of living on the street, powered by one’s next hit.
Lately, we have an organized group of Spanish speaking ‘guards’ patrolling the entrance to the alleyway, speaking to each other on cheap headsets, and when they’re out front, it usually means there’s a lot more heroin floating through the passage. How did they get here, and how long are they here for? I am by no means attempting to place the blame on them, or our border patrol – supply is for demand, and plenty of demand there was to drag the first money-hungry “business men” here in the first place, or was there? (see: chicken/egg), but it brings to light that this East Hastings issue is not Canada’s alone. There’s an infrastructure to it that transcends North, Central and South America; somehow it slips like angel dust through the fingers of every country’s border guards to seethe underneath our noses, buildings, policed highways, and it shouldn’t be surprising that they are too taken under the spell of our global entertainment industry. We sing a song, for hope, comfort – or for something to do. As easy as Adele can see her heart being played, so can a life be left with little to love other than the short-lived light present inside the darkest substance available on the streets.