I left Vancouver in the spring of 1986 just before the EXPO 86 began. When the world entered the city, the city tried to clean up the East Hastings homeless and drug problems… I couldn’t even imagine and left.
Later in Toronto, just before I met my father for 45 minutes, I lived in an art studio above a bike courier bar on Temperance Street in downtown Toronto.
An alcoholic writer I knew who found out that I lived on Temperance Street snarled, “You’d not catch me dead on a street named Temperance. “
I met a bike courier there in the late 90’s by the name of Rod who was tall and skinny about 6’1″ and 150 pounds. He had that unwashed look that many drug addicts model so well except Rod didn’t partake other than smoking some reefer.
He told me about walking down East Hastings Street the year before during the crack cocaine epidemic and 2 dealers actually got into a fist fight over who saw Rod first to sell him crack. Rod thought that was hilarious.
“I just fucking walked away man… said ‘keep your fucking poison!”
Rod wore a jade necklace around his neck that he got in Guatemala.
He found the jade in a cave there under a few feet of bat shit and it was quite valuable. Apparently if jade is under bat shit for more than a century… it gets a certain patina. Rod had his jade checked out in a museum and it had that patina.
The other story I remember Rod telling was how he perfected cooking pot cakes in Guatemala. He went into the mountains and besides jade returned to this little seaside town there with 80 pounds of pot in a knapsack. Since this could have got him jailed he turned the 80 pounds into pot cakes which funded his year long Guatemala vacation.
On a side note, the first and last time I ever tried pot cakes was with Rod. We were at a bar in Kensington Market and I tried one. I waited 30 minutes and nothing happened. Against his warnings I took a second. After a bit I couldn’t move my feet. I never felt so vulnerable.
I asked Rod,
“Can you please get me a water?”
“Get your own fucking water. ” Rod snapped
“You don’t understand. I can’t move.”
Rod thought that was funny.
I was getting closer to sobriety.