Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Here Comes the Neighbourhood"

Earlier this week I received in the mail my contributor's copy of the current issue of West Coast Line. Although the new editor is poet/scholar Jeff Derksen, issue #73 is (for the most part) guest edited by David Gaertner and Jason Starnes, and is entitled "Here Comes the Neighbourhood".

Among the poems, essays and interviews in "Here Comes" is Emily Fedoruk's "Good Malls Make Good Neighbours: Settling Community Under Capitalism", where the author reminds us of the dialectical relationship shopping malls have to their surrounding suburban neighbourhoods -- how malls both reflect and determine the values of those who live near them. In doing so, Fedoruk takes us through the literature and introduces us to a new kind of shopping/living model, the mall/home in its expanded form.

During a recent conversation a friend told me about her sister who "bought into" one of the condominium developments on the south side of False Creek and her complaint about the huge "concierge fees." This was new to me -- I thought the concierge was a hotel phenomenon. Nope, said my friend, the strata concierge manages everything from child care to grocery shopping, and that the current trend is for condominium developments to contain more and more of that which we once left the house for. (What's next? Private schools? Gun turrets?)

Near the end of her essay Fedoruk sites an (unattributed) L.A. Times article by Chris Erskine, entitled "The New Mayberry?", where a resident of one of these developments (Americana) likened life in her mall/home to being "on vacation," something I took to be further evidence of Vancouver becoming the "resort" of Bob Rennie's dreams. Indeed, the dream merchants who sold the condominium to my friend's sister was none other than Rennie Marketing Systems.

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