Changes On The Drive #133

June 1, 2023


We begin this month with a note that the New York Times has yet again “discovered” Commercial Drive — or at least the bits of the Drive they consider trendy, I guess. They like our “eclectic, rough-edged vibe” and that we are “the epicenter of Vancouver coffee culture.” Businesses getting mentioned include Gateley (1136 Commercial), Dilly Dally (1161 Commercial), Livia (1399 Commercial), and Mum’s The Word (1301 Commercial).

This was also the month in which the Georgia Straight Golden Plate awards for best in Vancouver were announced. There were many Drive establishments that won or placed highly and they are listed at:

The walk on the Drive yesterday was a bit less sunny than I would have liked, and the Drive seems to have reached a stable point where not many changes have occurred.

That being said, the Dollar Grocery at 2210 Commercial appears closed, and the Chic Lash Boutique at 2115 Commercial is now open.

Image: Paisley Woodward

What I had identified last month as a graphics business at 2111 is now open as Dose Wellness. What they do is not entirely clear to me, but I suspect some form of health treatment regime.

At 2096 Commercial, the new Chancho Restaurant gets a rave review.

The storefront at 2057 Commercial seems to be in the process of becoming a Macdonald Realty office.

Image: Paisley Woodward

Hanai Restaurant at 1590 Commercial gets a detailed and positive review here.

There is an interesting profile of Kim Maust who was integral to the development of the apartment/retail complex at Commercial & Charles.

1314 Commercial has now become Larry’s Liquidators. There is also a For Sale sign on the building, so I suspect this is just a pop-up temporary location.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2210 Commercial, 2105 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1108 Commercial, 1027 Commercial.

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

Food Photography of the Year

May 18, 2023


The Guardian has a marvelous selection of winners of the 2023 Food Photographer of the Year. These were my favourites

Candy Man by Jon Enoch

Selling Fish, by Md. Mahabub Hossain Khan

Drying Fish, by Kanh Phan Thi

Mural Needed for People’s Co-op Bookstore

May 18, 2023


Many of my readers will know that the People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial has a range of $2 books that they sell from shelves they designed to sit outside the store. The stock is protected each night by wooden shutters which tend to get targeted for graffiti. Some officials have complained about the graffiti and demanded that the store do something about it.

Painting over the graffiti time after time seems a pointless exercise as nothing attracts taggers more than a freshly-painted surface.

Therefore, the store has decided to run a sort of competition to offer the shutters to local artists as a canvas for murals. So, Artists, please let the store know if you have any interest in painting their toonie shelf lids! Email with your ideas to

Occasional Thoughts: More on Class & Change

May 17, 2023

There are only two classes in the capitalist world: the exploiters and the exploited. It is this most basic truth that needs to be stressed over and over.

One of capitalism’s key strategies has been to incentivize a slice of the exploited class into becoming sub-exploiters — kulaks by any other name; those who happily lord it over their brothers and sisters — by doling out to them a miniscule portion of the wealth stolen from the exploited. It does this both as an operational necessity but also to create a layer of the exploited who will welcome their exploitation and support its continuance through the capitalism-captured “democratic” process.

The great tide of electoral reformism that swept across much of the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a tide that could and should have resulted in genuinely transparent one-person-one-vote systems of self governance, was instead kidnapped by the political operatives, the apparatchiks, of the capitalists and molded to their requirements, to ensure that an elite managerial class would forever govern.

It matters little whether the machinery of the exploitation is in the hands of “democratic” parties, or state organizations, or the army, or technocrats. In each and every case, the exploited class is given just enough to keep them working, creating the excess wealth and power that is then expropriated by the exploiters through their control of taxation, regulation, and a legal system which prioritizes property over humanity and the State over individuals.

With the way the world is set up, the exploited can never genuinely upset this state of affairs no matter what they do within the system. Even revolutions get tainted quickly, reverting to old forms. As Kirkpatrick Sale wrote in the 1990s: “Political sensibilities that turn toward unionism and reform may be oppositional and even angry but by definition they are not radical in so far as they accede to the given system of power and seek a larger part within it.” Democratic forms, universalist humanist values, and incremental Welfare-State-ism are no more than window dressing for class domination.

The only path to ending exploitation is for the exploited class to operate outside of the system as much as possible: community-based mutual aid groups, co-ops, farmers’ markets, and new credit unions come immediately to mind. Anything that reduces contact with the capitalist marketplace.

We need to start treating capitalism like an infectious virus. We need to protect ourselves from its worst effects and to isolate ourselves as much as we can from the virus and its carriers. Common sense and fairness will be our vaccine.

The transition may be long in completion, but we are good at the long game. And we know that good science always wins out over bad, in the end.

The Scythe, Modernity, & the Crash To Come

May 16, 2023

For those of you who are keen on fighting back against the tyranny of modern technology, you could do a lot worse than read Dark Ecology” by Paul Kingsnorth.  It is a fairly long piece (by internet standards) but worth every minute you spend with it.

Each summer, Kingsnorth teaches the use of scythes in England and Scotland and in this article he uses the scythe as a surrogate for other simple tools when compared to modern machinery.  He explains the delight one gets in using a scythe, but remarks that most people use brushcutters these days:

“Brushcutters are not used instead of scythes because they are better; they are used because their use is conditioned by our attitudes toward technology. Performance is not really the point, and neither is efficiency. Religion is the point: the religion of complexity. The myth of progress manifested in tool form. Plastic is better than wood. Moving parts are better than fixed parts. Noisy things are better than quiet things. Complicated things are better than simple things. New things are better than old things. We all believe this, whether we like it or not. It’s how we were brought up.”

He really hits the nail on the head when he confronts critics who claim that he and those like him are simple-minded back-to-the-earth idealist dreamers:

“Romanticizing the past” is a familiar accusation, made mostly by people who think it is more grown-up to romanticize the future. But it’s not necessary to convince yourself that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers lived in paradise in order to observe that progress is a ratchet, every turn forcing us more tightly into the gears of a machine we were forced to create to solve the problems created by progress…

Critics confuse “a desire for human-scale autonomy, and for the independent character, quirkiness, mess, and creativity that usually results from it, with a desire to retreat to some imagined ‘golden age.’ It’s a familiar criticism, and a lazy and boring one. Nowadays, when I’m faced with digs like this, I like to quote E. F. Schumacher, who replied to the accusation that he was a ‘crank’ by saying, ‘A crank is a very elegant device. It’s small, it’s strong, it’s lightweight, energy efficient, and it makes revolutions’.”

Kingsnorth looks closely at the “green movement” of the last century, noting how badly it failed:

“The green movement, which seemed to be carrying all before it in the early 1990s, has plunged into a full-on midlife crisis. Unable to significantly change either the system or the behavior of the public, assailed by a rising movement of “skeptics” and by public boredom with being hectored about carbon and consumption, colonized by a new breed of corporate spivs for whom “sustainability” is just another opportunity for selling things, the greens are seeing a nasty realization dawn: despite all their work, their passion, their commitment and the fact that most of what they have been saying has been broadly right—they are losing.”

Worse, he says, we now have neo-environmentalism, often described as simple “ecopragmatism” but which is “something rather different” as described by the PR blurb for Emma Marris’s Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, one of the movement’s canonical texts

For decades people have unquestioningly accepted the idea that our goal is to preserve nature in its pristine, pre-human state. But many scientists have come to see this as an outdated dream that thwarts bold new plans to save the environment and prevents us from having a fuller relationship with nature.

Or, as Peter Kareiva, says:

“Humans degrade and destroy and crucify the natural environment, and 80 percent of the time it recovers pretty well.” Trying to protect large functioning ecosystems from human development is mostly futile; humans like development, and you can’t stop them from having it. Nature is tough and will adapt to this: “Today, coyotes roam downtown Chicago, and peregrine falcons astonish San Franciscans as they sweep down skyscraper canyons. . . . As we destroy habitats, we create new ones.” Now that “science” has shown us that nothing is “pristine” and nature “adapts,” there’s no reason to worry about many traditional green goals such as, for example, protecting rainforest habitats. “Is halting deforestation in the Amazon . . . feasible?” he asks. “Is it even necessary?”

Kingsnorth responds:

“If this sounds like the kind of thing that a right-wing politician might come out with, that’s because it is. But Kareiva is not alone. Variations on this line have recently been pushed by the American thinker Stewart Brand, the British writer Mark Lynas, the Danish anti-green poster boy Bjørn Lomborg, and the American writers Emma Marris, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Schellenberger. They in turn are building on work done in the past by other self-declared green “heretics” like Richard D. North, Brian Clegg, and Wilfred Beckerman.”

Kingsnorth argues that these neo-conservatives are misunderstanding the problem, probably deliberately:

“What do we value about the Amazon forest? Do people seek to protect it because they believe it is “pristine” and “pre-human”? Clearly not, since it’s inhabited and harvested by large numbers of tribal people, some of whom have been there for millennia. The Amazon is not important because it is “untouched”; it’s important because it is wild, in the sense that it is self-willed. It is lived in and off of by humans, but it is not created or controlled by them. It teems with a great, shifting, complex diversity of both human and nonhuman life, and no species dominates the mix. It is a complex, working ecosystem that is also a human-culture-system, because in any kind of worthwhile world, the two are linked.”

“The neo-environmentalists, needless to say, have no time for this kind of fluff. They have a great big straw man to build up and knock down, and once they’ve got that out of the way, they can move on to the really important part of their message. Here’s Kareiva, giving us the money shot in Breakthrough Journal with fellow authors Michelle Marvier and Robert Lalasz:

Instead of pursuing the protection of biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake, a new conservation should seek to enhance those natural systems that benefit the widest number of people. . . . Conservation will measure its achievement in large part by its relevance to people.

There it is, in black and white: the wild is dead, and what remains of nature is for people. We can effectively do what we like, and we should.”

He looks at the future through the eyes of the past:

“Look at the proposals of the neo-environmentalists in this light and you can see them as a series of attempts to dig us out of the progress traps that their predecessors knocked us into. Genetically modified crops, for example, are regularly sold to us as a means of “feeding the world.” But why is the world hungry? At least in part because of the previous wave of agricultural improvements—the so-called Green Revolution, which between the 1940s and 1970s promoted a new form of agriculture that depended upon high levels of pesticides and herbicides, new agricultural technologies, and high-yielding strains of crops. The Green Revolution is trumpeted by progressives as having supposedly “fed a billion people” who would otherwise have starved. And maybe it did; but then we had to keep feeding them—or should I say us?—and our children. In the meantime it had been discovered that the pesticides and herbicides were killing off vast swaths of wildlife, and the high-yield monoculture crops were wrecking both the health of the soil and the crop diversity, which in previous centuries had helped prevent the spread of disease and reduced the likelihood of crop failure.

It is in this context that we now have to listen to lectures from the neo-environmentalists and others insisting that GM crops are a moral obligation if we want to feed the world and save the planet: precisely the arguments that were made last time around.”

“What does the near future look like? I’d put my bets on a strange and unworldly combination of ongoing collapse, which will continue to fragment both nature and culture, and a new wave of techno-green “solutions” being unveiled in a doomed attempt to prevent it. I don’t believe now that anything can break this cycle, barring some kind of reset: the kind that we have seen many times before in human history. Some kind of fall back down to a lower level of civilizational complexity. Something like the storm that is now visibly brewing all around us.”

This is a sad pass we have come to.  Humanity has been too clever by half.

How We Got Frozen Food

May 9, 2023


Business Insider often has short little historical pieces about industries or processes. I enjoyed this one about how Capt. Birdseye put frozen foods into every freezer in North America.

Night Music: Love Came Here

May 6, 2023


May 6, 2023


The 2023 AGM of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is scheduled for this evening, 6th May, at 6:00pm.

It is a hybrid meeting, taking place in person upstairs at the Canucks Room of the Family Centre by Grandview Park, and online via ZOOM at:

The guest speak is Patrick Condon, the UBC James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments, with his presentation:

 It’s all about the Dirt! Why new density is a good thing, but unfortunately won’t lower prices

If you’d like to get involved with GWAC or join the Board of Directors, please contact GWAC for more info at:

Yet More Tulips

May 4, 2023

Night Music: The Voice Never Changes

May 4, 2023


Willie Nelson 60 years ago:

Best in Vancouver, on the Drive

May 4, 2023


The Georgia Straight Golden Plate awards for best in Vancouver have been announced. There were many Drive establishments that won or placed highly and they are mentioned below. The full set of winners can be found at:


Jamjar Restaurant at 2290 was chosen as 2nd best Lebanese restaurant in Vancouver.

JJ Bean, with a branch at 2206 Commercial was voted best coffee chain in the city.

La Grotta di Fromaggio at 1791 Commercial won as best deli in Vancouver.

With a branch at 1752 Commercial, Sal y Limon was chosen as the best Mexican food in the city, and with the 3rd best tacos.

At 1588 Commercial, Dolce Gelato was voted best gelato in Vancouver, and the 2nd best ice cream.

At 1399 Commercial, Livia was voted best bread bakery in Vancouver, and the 3rd best gluten-free bakery.

Memphis Blues at 1342 Commercial was voted 2nd best barbecue in Vancouver.

Oca Pastificio at 1260 Commercial was chosen as 2nd best Italian restaurant in the city, and 3rd best pasta joint.

The Kulinayra Restaurant at 1134 Commercial was voted 2nd best Filipino restaurant in the city.

At 1128 Commercial, Sula was awarded 2nd best Indian restaurant in Vancouver.

The Lunch Lady at 1046 Commercial was voted best overall on the Drive, 2nd best Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver, and 3rd overall in the city.

Bombay Kitchen and Bar at 1018 Commercial was voted 3rd best Indian restaurant and 3rd best takeout place in Vancouver.

East Vancouver Garden Tour

May 3, 2023


Mark your calendar and get your tickets early — the 2023 edition of the East Vancouver Garden Tour will take place on June 18th. As described by the Grandview Garden Club and Britannia Neighbours:

“It’s our one fundraiser for Britannia Neighbours, and the proceeds go to maintaining the Napier Square Greenway (at Napier and Commercial). We use the money we raise to buy plants and supplies and to pay people to water and pick up litter in the Greenway. We’re lucky that we had a bit of cash in the bank as a cushion when Covid struck, so we managed to survive …

Like other years, this year’s tour will be walkable (but won’t be walking distance from Figaro’s). The tour is near Main Street at the western edge of East Van. We are lining up about a dozen delightful gardens for your touring pleasure!

The tour runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but this is not necessarily an event you need to come to right on time. We often get a big rush of people right at 10:00, but there’s no need to hurry. You can come and go as you please. You’ll see exactly the same gardens if you get started at 11:00 or noon or 1:00 or even as late as 2:00! (Do, however, make sure you leave yourself enough time to see all the gardens! We don’t recommend starting the tour after 2:00.)”

Ticket availability and lots more information is available from their website at:

GWAC AGM This Saturday

May 3, 2023


The 2023 AGM of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is scheduled for this coming Saturday, 6th May, at 6:00pm.

It is a hybrid meeting, taking place in person upstairs at the Canucks Room of the Family Centre by Grandview Park, and online via ZOOM at:

The guest speak is Patrick Condon, the UBC James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments, with his presentation:

 It’s all about the Dirt! Why new density is a good thing, but unfortunately won’t lower prices

If you’d like to get involved with GWAC or join the Board of Directors, please contact GWAC for more info at:

Changes On The Drive #132

May 1, 2023


It was wonderful weather to do the walk this morning: not too warm and not too cold.

The double storefront that is 2115-2125 Commercial is being divided. National Massage Chairs will retain 2125, but Chic Lash Boutique will soon open in 2115.

Ever since Tino retired his barbershop at 2111 Commercial in June 2020, we have listed the storefront as vacant. However, we have learned that the space is actually being used by a visual effects company called G Creative.

After a long wait, Chancho Tortilleria has finally opened at 2096 Commercial. It had a soft opening on the weekend of April 15th, and an official opening a week later. Welcome to the Drive!

Image: Scout Magazine

Tierra Latina at 2018 Commercial has a lovely “thank you” sign in the window:

The wonderful Lea Watson, who for many years operated the Canterbury Tales bookstore at 2010 Commercial, has retired. She will be greatly missed. However, the business continues under the new ownership of Nena, whom we welcome to the Drive!

Spin Cycle Laundry at 1910 Commercial was the subject of a very nice piece by Mike McCardell on CTV News:

Lat month we reported on the opening — finally — of Fior di Latte at 1858 Commercial. Well, the name they are using is in fact Il Mundo Caffe & Bakery. It gets a brief opening review here.

Osita at 1728 Commercial gets a good review for live music in Daily Hive.

The re-branding of SuperValu at First & Commercial to Freshmart is just about complete with the new signage.

Staff of Home Hardware at 1575 Commercial were the subject of another Mike McCardell piece on CTV News:

Eric and Allura, the former owners of Fet’s at 1230 Commercial, have confirmed that their space will be taken over by a dentist office in the near future. We have to say that this seems an incredible waste for one of the premier patio locations on the Drive, opposite Grandview Park.

The storefront at 1126 Commercial which has been renovating for a few months has opened as the Guava Vegan Wellness salon.

Next door, at 1124 Commercial, the Lotus House Tattoo Salon and Barber is also now open.

H/t to Colin, Steve and Penny.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2105 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 2057 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1108 Commercial, 1027 Commercial.

It is great to see the number of vacancies trending sharply downwards this year.

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

International Day of the Worker

May 1, 2023


In most parts of the world, May 1st is recognized as the International Day of the Worker and we celebrate it as such. Labor Day in September is a North American tradition, encouraged by President Grover Cleveland so as to distance American labour from socialists and anarchists.

A New Pidgin: Berlinglish or Denglish

April 30, 2023


The other day in my review of Riddley Walker I discussed the use the author makes of what has been called Riddleyspeak: his imagining of how southern English would sound many generations in the future. It was therefore with great pleasure that I found today an essay by Alexander Wells on a newly developing language called Berlingish or Denglish which is becoming a feature of modern culture in Berlin.

“Which is not to say that Berlin’s English-language readers — the natively anglophones plus many whose first language is Swedish, Spanish, Turkish or Arabic — do not know German at all. The Berlinglish they speak is informal English, slightly simplified, full of swears, nightlife slang and loan words — mostly adopted from German … Taken together, its German-to-English loans register all the points of cultural interface that an expat life simply cannot avoid — Rundfunk, Finanzamt, Anmeldung — as well as some that have made it across on account of their own attractive promises: Spätkauf, Flohmarkt, Falafelteller, Wegbier. The English spoken by those newcomers who settle here and end up making some German friends and studying the language — it also absorbs subtler influences from German …

At the moment, German newspapers describe any kind of drama as ein Shitstorm: who knows if that is here to stay. What leads a loan word to travel? Is it the fantasy of foreign places, the thrill of the exotic? Or is it a culture’s perception of its own shortcomings? Preeminent recent anglicisms in contemporary German — words like recycelt, Streamlining, queer, Smash, Gender-Wokismus, cringe, Slay, Sneaker-Release, Content-Manager — hint at a varied and vivid set of contact points.”

Well worth reading for anyone interested in language and its development.

Sun Bathing

April 29, 2023

I’m A Luddite

April 28, 2023


I would guess that many people who know me would — absent my computer use — consider me a Luddite: I own no car, no mobile phone, no microwave, I’ve never been on Facebook, I don’t watch much TV, and I have very little time for the things out there.

I might have argued that the term should NOT apply to me because I don’t agree with mindless destruction. But an excellent article in The Conversation has straightened me out on the history of Luddism and I now gleefully accept the designation.

“Our circumstances today are more similar to theirs than it might seem, as new technologies are being used to transform our own working and social conditions — think increases in employee surveillance during lockdowns, or exploitation by gig labour platforms. It’s time we reconsider the lessons of Luddism …

“The contemporary usage of Luddite has the machine-smashing part correct — but that’s about all it gets right. First, the Luddites were not indiscriminate. They were intentional and purposeful about which machines they smashed. They targeted those owned by manufacturers who were known to pay low wages, disregard workers’ safety, and/or speed up the pace of work. Even within a single factory — which would contain machines owned by different capitalists — some machines were destroyed and others pardoned depending on the business practices of their owners …

“Luddism was a working-class movement opposed to the political consequences of industrial capitalism. The Luddites wanted technology to be deployed in ways that made work more humane and gave workers more autonomy. The bosses, on the other hand, wanted to drive down costs and increase productivity …

“It wasn’t the invention of these machines that provoked the Luddites to action. They only banded together once factory owners began using these machines to displace and disempower workers …

Sounds so much like today.

“Today, new technologies are being used to alter our lives, societies and working conditions no less profoundly than mechanical looms were used to transform those of the original Luddites. The excesses of big tech companies – Amazon’s inhumane exploitation of workers in warehouses driven by automation and machine vision, Uber’s gig-economy lobbying and disregard for labour law, Facebook’s unchecked extraction of unprecedented amounts of user data – are driving a public backlash that may contain the seeds of a neo-Luddite movement …

A neo-Luddite movement would understand no technology is sacred in itself, but is only worthwhile insofar as it benefits society. It would confront the harms done by digital capitalism and seek to address them by giving people more power over the technological systems that structure their lives.”

Well-worth taking the time to read the article.

Today’s Tulips

April 27, 2023

Riddley Walker

April 26, 2023


I just finished reading Russel Hoban’s 1980 masterpiece “Riddley Walker.” It took a lot of thought to get through it (for reasons explained below) but it was time well worth spending. It is a wonderful short novel.

The novel is set many many years after England (and presumably the world) has been devastated by nuclear war. The descendants of the survivors live at something like an Iron Age level amid the decaying ruins of towns and cities. They scratch a bare living by farming, foraging, and manual labour, in isolated settlements surrounded by packs of feral dogs. Whatever government exists proclaims its rule via travelling puppet shows.

The eponymous hero of the book, Riddley Walker, is the son of a “connextion man” — a kind of shaman — who inherits his father’s role when the older man dies in an accident. He learns through arcane songs and tales how the “clevver bloakes” in “time back way way back” destroyed the world by their manipulations of the great power of atom splitting. But the secrets of chemistry and physics have all but been lost.

After leaving his group, Walker wanders around southern England and becomes involved against his will (and often his knowledge) in plots to regain access to nuclear weapons. But throughout, young Riddley remains his own man.

The difficulty in the text comes from the language used. It is written in a made-up language that some essayists have called Riddleyspeak. This is Hoban’s vision of what the dialect of southern England might become after so many generations. It almost forces the reader to read the text out loud in order to gather the full meaning. As a Londoner myself, I found most of this quite easy to follow, but I am sure that with some patience (and sounding out the oddly-spelled words) anyone interested will get the hang of it.

A strange book, but a really good one, too.