Vancouver Eastside 1985

I arrived at the coast, finally the Pacific.  I got swarmed by 6 drunks in Gastown by The Town Pump, a bar I eventually worked in where live music played and 2 songs I remember were ‘I was fucking Wendy the night that Elvis died’ and ‘Your old lady is my old lady too. ‘

I would watch Janet Brown dance all night on that dance floor and when it was over I worked the midnight shift cooking at Hamburger Mary’s an establishment that mainly catered to children of the night, trannies, and what would become known as the LGBTQ   community. 

I would sleep at the cockroach infested drug/welfare Balmoral hotel where I slept during the day in preparation for my afternoon shift at the town pump. 16 hours a day I worked for 3 months to get out of the west coast madness. I put food and water on one side of the room away from the bed and pronounced in a drunken monologue while drawing an imaginary line, ” Cross this line and I will kill you… Don’t and we can make this work. 

In the 3 months I didn’t kill a cockroach. I watched a man feed a pigeon on Christmas Eve and when he got close enough to catch it, he broke its neck and walked away with it. I  saw a hooker walking down mainstreet in a bikini on New Year’s Eve.Twas cold. I saw addiction and  madness at a level I never imagined.I heard Vancouver’s east end described as hell on earth… however I felt that was perhaps a little unfair.

Dennis Mantin 

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