CAR2LMFAO by Douglas Haddow
Anyone who regularly leaves their home knows that commuting in Vancouver can present a challenge. Sure, it’s no L.A., with its byzantine parking regulations and casual freeway executions. Nor is it Detroit, where a two-hour bus wait in the bitter doom of winter is not an uncommon experience.
To be fair, it’s not even all that comparable to Montreal, home to the infamous bottleneck between Pie IX and Chemin de la Côte-de-Liesse, which has seen the spectrum of conception, birth, and death all on a stretch of concrete under a kilometre long.
Given enough perspective, getting around in Vancouver isn’t all that difficult. Our monorail is still new and shiny, our traffic is only congested by Canadian standards, and our busses are relatively disease-free.
But Vancouverites were never one for perspective. We’re the type of people who are willing to pay two grand for a hastily renovated 1BR in the West End just so we’re within walking distance of a job that can barely cover said rent.
The type who will tell out-of-towners dumb shit like “you know, this really is the best place on earth”, and actually believe it. So much so that we put it on our fucking license plates. And we are definitely the type who thinks that bike lanes are the apex of progressive politics and the surest sign that a city is, ahem, world-class.
If you live in Vancouver proper, you should be cycling—transforming the foot work of the rat race into burnt calories and chiseled calves. But for me personally, that just seems like a lot of sweat and misery.
While the socialist in me values a strong, well-funded, and unionized transit system, my inner selfish cunt has grown tired of sharing precious personal space with members of the public who think it’s acceptable to play YouTube videos on their phones at full volume, without headphones, five inches away from your face. And I’ve seen some of the greatest minds of my generation crippled by the paranoia of the parking tickets, break-ins, and tow-jobs that come with bringing your own car to work. So that’s out too.
That leaves one viable commute option: a car share account. But at 41 cents a minute, they only make fiscal sense if you can get from A to B in a brisk manner. Fifteen minutes tops all said and done or you might as well be taking a cab, Mr. Rockefeller.
At low tide, I can get from door to door in 10 minutes. During rush hour it can take up to 30, depending on how many N-stickered SUVs I encounter.
There’s only so much wiggle room once you’re on the road, so entering and exiting the share cars must be flawlessly executed. Luxuries like listening to your own music are a no go, as connecting your phone via Bluetooth to the Prius sound system can eat up an extra 90 seconds. That leaves commercial radio or the news as your two entertainment choices.
With the news, the bad juju is relentless. It’s all fascist slumlord politicians, boiling oceans, seal attacks, charred forests, suicidal robots, viral drownings, and opioid crisis this, housing crisis that.
Absorbing the infinite bummers of the world through your ear holes will only slow you down. So the only logical choice is commercial radio: JRfm, Z95.3, JackFM, and Virgin.
All these stations are staffed by nattering idiots that play deeply alienating music produced by some faraway corporate algorithm that was designed to correlate Shazam analytics with the daily volume of the NASDAQ. But at least it won’t make you think. Because thinking about anything other than shaving seconds off your commute is the enemy here. Keep that in mind.
But once and while, when you’re jockeying for position to get that extra edge by taking Quebec rather than Main, or avoiding Broadway by busting a hard right down East 6th Ave and breezing through residential stop signs like nobody’s business, you catch a break. A brief oasis of aural tranquility that will remind you of all the good in world.
Yesterday I had one of the moments. Traffic was backed up on East Hastings due to a hit and run, so I clipped down Campbell to Prior, turned the radio up and heard a string of words I hadn’t heard in far too long.
Everybody just have a good time.
And we gon’ make you lose your mind.
Party rock is in the house tonight.
It was “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. Only a few years old, the song now seems like it’s from a different century. A parallel dimension even. One where Barack Obama was still president. And one where Steve Jobs was still alive, designing awesome stuff. Where Osama Bin Laden was still on the run and no one had ever heard of ISIS before.
A time when things were more chill and less complicated. When people could wear neon kufiyahs and everyone loved those American Apparel hoodies. When Lost was still a TV show. And also when Mad Men was still a TV show. Prince was still alive. And so were a bunch of other really great people. Some bad people too. Like Gadhafi and Kim Jong-il.
That was a simpler time. A time before car shares. A time when we didn’t have to obsess over seconds. And if you listen to the radio long enough, you might catch a glimpse.