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I must warn you, this is another do-good point of view on a problem, a sociology 101 textbook phenomenon. Word food for the starving reader. Something for those that care about others, or stuff I shouldn’t bother writing about…the same old lollipop, even coated in fruit-loops, still tastes the same. Whatever, however. But, if you don’t write about these things, they fall by the wayside…like cigarette butts flicked into oblivion by careless smokers…people who think if it’s out of their hands, it’s not their problem anymore…until the nightly news shows a massive forest fire, thousands of loving and friendly trees burnt to death…thanks to the careless butt of some unknown and nameless smoker. Regardless, the eternal question always raises its beaten face…who are you to tell me what to think. Hey, words are harmless, unless they hit home and reveal something you don’t like.

Without pointing fingers, naming names, or tossing blame around, it’s hard to explain or justify Vancouver’s homelessness problem. It’s warmer here…maybe that attracts more street people…but it’s an embarrassment that should be cleaned up. The Main and Hastings intersection is like junction of hopelessness and despair…the epicenter of a blatant drug problem that radiates out into a circle of destitution, misery, and endless torment. Hard done and done hard. A hard life is life that’s hard. Be nice and open your doors. Smile. Let someone camp in your backyard…if you have room. That’s what they did in the old days, but modern life is about property…and my property is private. No entry. Violators will be shot. How humane. One in the head would end a life of misery. Thank you. That sure solved things.

On the street, there is no responsibility, and no one has an easy answer to change this sort of attitude. Police walk by crack smokers and people shooting drugs…they’re like giant cockroaches…infesting every alley in the neighborhood, an infestation beyond extermination. When writing about this problem, caution is in order…you must not offend certain governing or socially interested parties, or they will have your balls for breakfast, and make sure your writing is boycotted, censored and stifled. Not too attractive to a writer…but, w.t.f., I’d like to put the pricks of the world on notice…I really don’t have your best interests at heart…if greed and human nature are to blame, I’m all for roasting the dickheads that perpetuate or profit from this problem…and yes, certain establishments fight over monthly welfare handouts…steady cash, and it adds up…the more bodies you cram in your hovel of a hotel, the richer you are…every month, like clockwork.

Every problem has a cause, then a symptom, and usually has several solutions. Seriously, are all the solutions just crap that backroom municipal mouth movers come up with? Just a lot of endless talk and no real action? Like any social creature, the homeless exist for many reasons…some enjoy kissing responsibility goodbye, thumbing their noses at collectors and banks…some are temporarily caught in unfortunate circumstances, some are medical patients who had the hospital stripped away and are still wondering what happened, some are textbook apathetic gentlemen that tilt at windmills, sell drugs and curse the damn wheel of fortune, while some actually want real homes. The major problem these poor people face are the well off, homesteaded families, groups that put their own interests first, and say to hell with all the lazy, no-good poor people that can’t afford a house. They have stories about hard work, scrimping and saving, doing without, hardship and personal sacrifice…according to them, that’s how they got their million dollar home in Point Gray or North Vancouver. Balderdash, they got help from rich friends or relatives. Uncle Joe’s 3 million estate? Got a loan from a rich family member? Gloating over high paying jobs to cover a high mortgage? Overpaid jobs they got from cronyism, pork-barreling, tutelage, patronage…never from personal merit. Or, get rich the old fashioned way, inherit.

The recent Vancouver blowup over a small, temporary winter shelter demonstrates a significant problem homeless people face…hubris and selfishness…the snobbish “not in my backyard” group. Homeless are considered pariahs, while smarmy, self-righteous, and greedy people only care about themselves. If it’s good for homeowners, they’re all for it…yet, as soon as there’s a tiny problem, some unknown situation they only heard about on the news…they instantly call foul…yelling and screaming about their expensive real estate…how less fortunate people are driving down the price of their property, infringing on their privacy, and disturbing their peace and quiet. Heartless and cruel would be a kind way to describe these people…I’d start wondering what God is going to say when asked about love, charity, and being the good Samaritan? Even ET’s believe in a God, according to reports.

Sorry, no one owns the world, we’re only temporary tenants, and the world is already way over-stocked with crazy people, some that actually run entire countries. Basically, we all have the same dignity and free rights we are told exist – somewhere.

These rights might only be philosophies of the mind, tasty brain food…concepts that exist on intellectual levels, problems that are debated from leather chairs over 18-year old scotch, and are buried in thick, College-only books. In reality, that’s where philosophy is, and they can philosophize about the existential nature of that truth until the cows come home. There’s many voices in the world, and there’s a lot of hoarse throats in Vancouver. Voices that backbite and whine…voices that cry, sob, or beg…pleas and reasons that fall on deaf ears…utterances that are merely whispers…untold realities of life that successful people ignore…these are the voices that matter. Hope slowly disappears through neglect, and the croaking for support eventually fades away, until there’s nothing but a D.O.A. to deal with at the local morgue.

This is when I often wonder…why do people still argue about this, or bother writing about it…political hot potatoes, hey, it’s big at election time…but normally, no one cares or wants to read about it…no one does anything, and people get bored hearing the same old, same-old re-purposed, re-packed social problems over and over. E-gads. Screw it. Live and let live. Vancouver has a large share of the homeless, poor, and addicted…all broken lives that implode nightly on the six o’clock news…yet no one listens, no one wants to interfere with their comfortable lives by feeling remorse…the same story heard everywhere…while these true unfortunates really need our help…genuine assistance that treats the source, not the symptom…help by people that actually care and have the power to help.

No one wants to get involved…watching T.V. is always a more pleasant family-oriented activity. Go downtown with the family and hand out hot soup. Teach the kids the reality of life. Only action groups throw it in society’s face, so when it hits home, people start to feel guilty about the poor, especially around Christmas…this makes them throw some coins in a relief can…or dig around cupboards for expired canned goods…donating this wealth of unwanted over-ripe edible crap to food banks, then feel like they have done their bit to pitch in.

Vancouver…the condo-capital of Canada. People here spend more on parking meters than shelters for the homeless – parking downtown is six bucks an hour, and shelters are merely one-night stopgap fixes that ignore the long term solution of permanent housing. Everyone likes a roof over their head…food in the fridge…money in the bank…high paying, secure jobs…all the stuff so-called normal people take for granted. As long as it’s not in their backyard, they don’t care…and if it is, they just build bigger fences.

Politics aside, action groups only come forward on their own behalf, picking a cause to champion, and something for them to get paid to do…they get the same treatment…asking for government handouts…getting results like unwanted cousins begging for money, and just enough is done to give elected officials something to say when asked what they are doing to solve this blight upon society. These grants are usually eaten up by staff salaries, office space and expenses, and when it comes time to put money in needy hands, there’s barely enough to order a super-sized meal at a burger joint. Their overall attitude was blatantly apparent throughout the 2010 Olympic games…authorities warned our multinational visitors to stay within certain boundaries, and never venture near the social blight at Main and Hastings… Vancouver’s dirty little secret.

Unlike a broken record, I’d like to offer a few observation on Vancouver’s homeless condition. Omitting labels like unfortunate, problematic, or other wordy presentations crammed with fanciful facts that end with a period, it’s time someone looked into the situation and gave an honest report. A truthful analysis that showcases what is really happening, discarding the previous useless and endless government reports full of euphemisms and incredibly self-serving studies. The crap that always makes the Government shine like a white knight…the metaphor that tells of a crazy man…the great Don Quixote tilting at windmills of the mind. Well, go big or stay home…if you have one.

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In 1880, the philosopher Thomas Malthus made a prediction that is now affecting our society in ways he couldn’t foresee, but are eeirily similar to his general theory on population control.  When you remove war, plague and other problems, population growth will skyrocket, unless a natural disaster occurs.  Taken alone, this is an excellent argument for space colonization and exploration.  We need to re-examine what is important in life, and put the world’s fabulous wealth to work on it.

Malthus theorized that population growth would soon overwhelm the planet’s resources, then overused and depleted resources would be insufficient to supply the world; therefore, people would die off.  He calculated that technology and resources expand arithmetically, but people grow geometrically.  Geometric growth is the old double a dollar trick: if you take a dollar, then double it, double it again, and keep doubling it everyday, you would have over a million dollars within a month.  It’s a straightforward mathematical progression, and when applied to our population, it’s easy to see that there will be too many humans for this Earth to sustain if we keep increasing our population the at the current rate.  Longer life through better medicine adds to the problem.  Here’s how it applies to literature and writers. 

In the Victorian age, there were a great many readers, and every writer, if they were able to create something worth reading, would stand a good chance of being published.  Today, there are thousands of writers out of work, just because publishers are inundated with manuscripts and have the luxury of selecting only the very best.  It could be argued that some of the so called “great” writers of the past wouldn’t stand up to the numerous rejection slips every author receives before someone decides to take a chance and publish their book.  There are many other reasons the Victorian age produced so many new ideas and so many new authors, but the main reason was an empty playing field, and an audience thirsting for new and bizarre ideas.  Now the playing field is packed, the benches and stadium  crowded, along with the dressing room and the parking lot.  It’s hard to find an original idea that is truly unique, because with so many minds thinking of every permutation and every twist and turn, it is hard to come up with something fresh and original.  Some say that’s why
Hollywood does so many re-makes of old ideas.  With so many people writing free blogs, or publishing their stories for free on certain websites, it’s hard to get a publisher to pay good money for a story.  That is, if they actually get a frustrated talented author to withstand the long wait lists and offer a story that is fresh and interesting.  It really begs the question, why do we read what we read.  Will anyone ever read this?  Chances are, with the countless, unknown and possibly excellent blogs clogging the internet, no one ever will.  People read less books today.  TV and the internet changed the dynamics in ways we are still studying.

Another factor is society’s overall success and increasing level of education.  To get a half decent job, you need education.  Today, it is quite common for someone to possess B.A., Master’s Degree or PhD.  That means a greater proportion of our society can write, and write well.  With a hulking pile of unread and well written manuscripts clogging an Editor’s “in basket”, it’s quite possible that some of the well known writers of the past would not be published today.  Perhaps their story lacks sparkle, their writing style is trite and outdated, or the author couldn’t deal with the countless rejection slips that are now part of the job.  Based on this, what was published in the past might not be published today.  A loss to literature?  Not quite.  We have literature coming out our ying-yang, and a book about talking animals discussing their political situation, although clever and satirical, doesn’t sound like a real page turner.  Sorry George Orwell, but Animal Farm might not pass muster and end up in some rejected file.  Possibly.  Television, radio and the Internet are changing our society in ways that will not be fully understood until some future date.  Perhaps when sociologists have had the time to read everything and make an original conclusion.  

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Banks don’t even enjoy art…they just look at the price tag…like a Monet, Turner or DaVinci…they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
I recently had a revelation: I now understand the significance of starving children holding out tiny hands for food and the shiny brass plaques on the door of a bank.
They don’t need handouts…all the uninformed line up to deposit money in their coffers…the banks turn around and invest this money, make a killing in interest, then charge you whenever you need to withdraw enough to buy food to live. A capitalist might think that’s a normal attitude, but a realist understands it’s the same way rich people have been sticking it to the underdog since the days of Babylon and the building of the Egyptian pyramids. The shivering, starving, and huddling masses have the upper classes walking all over them, getting them to wash their cars, and then not even paying them enough to get a drink of water. Bottled water is not cheap…next time I blow a buck on a bottle of water, I’ll make sure it’s a Perrier.
I don’t like getting walked on, but I have so many footprints on my bad back I look like the path to a beer stand on the fourth of July. I can’t afford a bank account…they don’t pay interest, and they have fees for every transaction I’d ever make, so it’s basically cheaper just to keep the money under my mattress. Cash only…sorry, no cheques. No wonder the ruling classes are trying to institute a cash-less society…if your money is in the hands of a greedy bank, you don’t have as much as your little booklet states you have…even if you close your account, they charge you for that…it’s easier to withdraw all your money, then never use the account again. Unfortuntely, that will work in reverse…they automatically withdraw monthly expenses, and if you have nothing, it shows up as a negative amount…after a few years, they’ll come knocking, demanding what you now owe them…and you don’t have to do a single darn thing.
No one ever said life is fair…it’s nasty, brutal and short…Edmund Burke made that comment a long time ago, and it’s as true today as it was then. It seems the moral of all this is you should stick it to your neighbour before he gets a chance to stick it to you. Never trust anyone with a smile and an Italian suit…and, stay away from banks with shiny brass plaques on their doors…those brass standards are a domineering, commercial group of investors…investors that need your money to make them more money, and you won’t see dime one of it…but you will see them taking dimes a plenty for the priviledge of letting them use your money to make them more money. Life always goes around and what goes around doesn’t always come back…it ends up in the luxuriant pockets of those bankers that always smile when you make a nice deposit. Need a loan? We can help…you’ll pay it off for the rest of your life, but we’ll lend you a few bucks…banks were created by someone with lots of money, and they will continue as long as money is a class symbol, and turns life into a endless fight to get your fair share…an oxymoron, as your share is never fair. Too bad, so sorry…we’re closed…use our credit card…only 15% for each transaction.

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This was a real comedy of errors.  After a bad accident, I began painting again, as part of my physiotherapy. I have always painted.  After a while, I became a better artist (but still disabled), and created a new style, unique and enjoyable.  After people have bought some, I suppose I’m now considered a struggling artist (note pic of bamboo), and have sold several similar paintings. (now a veritable designers list of colours…)

The painting in question here went for $75.00.  That person then sold it to someone for $300.00.  That person sold it for $950.00.  Then that person sold it again for $2,800.00.  I found this out because the last person wanted to confirm my “pedigree” and purchase more of my art. 

When I found out how much he paid, I was both angry and elated that my work could command such a price.  Then again, it made me wonder why I couldn’t have sold it for so much.  Like a hall of mirrors, artists are elevated in a buyers eyes, and they sometmes only see the actual painting in a monetary value. 

The fact that they like the painting helps, but when they think it is worth more than they paid, they become like an investment banker and only consider profit.  I find the whole transaction hilarious, as it really does define the modern art scene on many levels.  If a famous artist can paint 3 bands of colour, then charge 5 figures, the art ceases to be something of beauty and is reduced to a mere asset: something someone says is worth money.  Whether it is pleasing to look at is no longer an issue; commercialization has invaded the art world and now dictates who and what sets the price.  Some of my art can be seen at www.ringo.com/danaef, or www.myspace.com. or www.spoiledink.com/danae, or contact me and I will send some examples.  By the way, the top of this blog is part of a larger painting I created in watercolours. 

I’ve never bothered with self-promotion, I’m still working on a web-site, but anyone interested in my art can access a wide selection and a good price.
I’m at danaefitzgerald@shaw.ca
a jaded but honest artist

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