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Here’s the truly great thing about Toronto: even though we don’t need another reason to hate it in the rest of the country, that doesn’t stop the poor fuckers who live there from stepping up.
Imagine going through life thinking that the world truly does revolve around the city that you unfortunately have to call home. With the punchline being that no one on Earth (with the possible exception of everyone in Thunder Bay) has ever drawn up a bucket list that includes seeing the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, and, assuming there is one, whatever third “attraction” Torontonians are for some reason proud of.
There are two reasons Vancouverites go to Toronto: because they’ve been sent there on business, or because they’re in a relationship that, like all relationships, occasionally requires doing unpleasant things. Like going to Toronto.
As for what all this has to do with anything, let’s bring things to the West Coast by rewinding to a party this past weekend. One of the evening’s hot topics was Toronto media personality Jesse Brown giving his all-knowing assessment of Vancouver during a podcast chat with U.S. comedian Marc Maron of WTF With Marc Maron. (One of the other topics at said party, at least among those who don’t work in the media, was “Um, who the fuck is Jerry Brown?" But let’s not digress).
Brown managed to outrage everyone at the party, and a large swath of Great White North Twitter users, by suggesting to Maron that the last place anyone with refined cultural tastes wants to live is Vancouver.
As a bit of background, Maron was looking for advice on where one might choose to live if moving to Canada. And, like a poor man’s Ed the Sock, Brown did a brilliant job of entertaining while getting an enraged reaction with his response.
His witticisms included the following:
“If you are a person who values extreme sports and the rugged wilderness; if you’re really into nutrition and wellness, spirituality, real estate speculation, I think Vancouver’s going to be great. If you value culture; if you like having conversations with artists and creators and authors and comedians; if you like talking to sharp, funny people who might be damaged but they’re very interesting, you may be going to the worst city in the world for that.”
“Nobody has ever, like, been inspired by Vancouver to, like, write a good novel. No one has ever written a kick-ass rock song about Vancouver. It’s a vacuum.”
(Full disclosure: having better things to do, including figuring out how one makes a gooseberry cocktail shrub, watching Ozark, and wondering what kind of assholes phone the house 12 times a day to inform me that I’ve racked up $600 in charges on Amazon) I didn’t even bother listening to the whole podcast. Instead, I pulled the above info from Marsha Lederman’s excellent article on Brown in the Globe and Mail.
At the risk of making this about me for a second, the funny thing about people getting irate over random observations is that, half the time, they don’t get the joke. Go here for an example—and sorry, not just Amber Webber from the indescribably awesome Black Mountain, but, well, everyone. Except that, actually, I’m not.
For Vancouverites, the immediate response has been to take aim at Brown with ammunition that’s included pulling out everything from Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony to everything ever released by the Collectors, Chilliwack, Nickelback, Michael Slade, Michael Turner, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Douglas Coupland, Yumi Nagashima, Sarah McLachlan, Mr. Peanut, Death Sentence, Shane Koyczan, Malcolm Lowry, and the Vancouver Aquarium’s late and dearly missed Walter the Whale.
Need a little more fuel? How about Ripple Rock from Nardwuar the Human Serviette’s the Evaporators. Or, if devastating is more your thing, the Nasty On’s criminally overlooked CitySick, which might be the most unflinching record inspired by Vancouver ever captured in a studio.
But you know what? Fuck all that.
We could sit here reeling off what Vancouver has given the world on, say, the musical front (D.O.A., Slow, Black Mountain, Mother Mother, Dan Mangan, Haley Blais, Sam Tudor, and Peach Pit) versus what Toronto has countered with (Teenage Head, the Shuffle Demons, some jackass name Champagne Papi, and some other dude who really needs to get cleaned up by a good barber). But that would be to give Brown exactly what, here, he did such an absolutely admirable job of coming for: attention.
So let’s go at this from a different angle.
Here’s something that’s kind of weird: while Jesse Brown might consider Vancouver the most uninspiring shit-pit this side of Brampton, for some reason half of the goddamn province of Ontario has already moved here. And because more than half the province of Ontario is basically uninhabitable, that’s code-speak for you can’t swing a Blue Rodeo record in Lotusland without hitting a half-dozen Torontonians.
You want more people fleeing the most hated city in Canada for Vancouver, knowing full well that’s only to make it even harder to get a table at the Shameful Tiki on a Monday night, or Rickshaw tickets on a Friday? Of course you don’t.
So rather than getting outraged at Brown, you actually need to be not only thanking him, but thanking him profusely. Here’s the true gift of his ramblings on WTF With Marc Maron: he’s sent the world a crystal-clear message that, as hateable as Toronto might be, it’s got nothing on the West Coast cultural wasteland known as Vancouver.
Thinking of moving here? Don’t. Assuming you don’t enjoy paddleboarding in the raw sewage on False Creek, hiking the mud-splattered trails of the North Shore mountains, or eating unsweetened granola out of a strap-on MEC feed bag, there’s nothing here for you. Including Moxy Früvous.
Sometimes a dude calls things with deadly accuracy. Even when he’s from Toronto.