Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Hummer Master and the Sangria

Let's paint a picture in your mind.

It's a sunny day on Commercial Drive. People lazily mill about the streets in the afternoon sun. Across from Grandview Park, there we sit on the patio of Havana, a Cuban inspired local restaurant. We drink red wine sangria and watch in an absent minded fashion as "Cloudman", one of the Drive's many resident eccentrics, twirls his stick (poorly) in a acid-hazed hangover.

We are dressed in jeans and loose checkered shirts. Our sandals are a raggedy two years old. The height of informal relaxed fashion. I look like Huck Finn - Vancouver Redux. Everyone else that we see seems the same way. Tinny Latin music echoes over the din of the crowd. At least it does until its overwhelmed by the distant bass thump of a JT (Justin T) spewing Hummer.

As the Hummer drives down the street past us, we get a glimpse of a white urban city dweller. Dressed in startched white collar, sporty blue blazer and fancy new Yaletownesque shades. Beside him sits his plush bimboesque barbie, who curls her hair absent mindedly.

As the Hummer spews its fumes the Drive rises up. The finger, the downturned thumb are displayed. Others catcall. Then there are the yellers - I don't need to repeat what they say - use your imagination. Cloudman continues to twirl his stick absentmindedly.

And then the Hummer driver is gone.

He's just gotten a taste of exclusivity (if he noticed).

We noticed. It seems that the Drivers are trying to say something to the interloper. They say that he's part of the undesired group that we don't really want in our community. Take your gaz-guzzler away from here and don't come back.

Was it his disregard for the environment that inspired such wrath? Or his materialism? The symbol of the military-industrial complex he brought to ground zero for Vancouver Peacenicks? Or maybe we were all jealous of his "success"?

More importantly, what law did he break to justify our rudeness? And what makes the Drive any different (or better?) from the most exclusive golf club in the country?

1 comment:

John Horn said...

I think I'll go with a combination of the following:

1. The Hummer is the ultimate symbol of American military and cultural hegemony. When the incident you described actually happened, it was in the Dubya era; perhaps, under Obama, this aspect of the Hummer's symbolism will change for the better. Maybe it will be celebrated as a force for liberty, equality and change! "Hope in a Hummer" they'll shout the next time it comes down The Drive. Thoughts?
2. The environment suffers from the Hummer, no doubt. It oozes excess in every way. From the steel, copper and petroleum-based plastics to make it, to the poisonous exhaust it spews. Not only that, there's the noise pollution, too. The driver, I think, was inviting a spectacle, which is probably why he was playing the music so loud. So, there was a higher-than-usual spewing of Co2 as well as noise pollution. It was invasive.
3. Are Hummer drivers compensating for something? I think so. And if they are trying to project, as you put it, "success", well, it's one thing to do it on Robson Street, it's an entirely different set of circumstances on The Drive. It's a faux pas, even. I wonder, what's the average height of Hummer owners? I bet it's 5'4". Wars and rap battles are typically started by people of that height... At least that's what Ipsos Reid found in a recent survey.
4. Logistically, Hummers suck. Have you ever witnessed the tragicomedy that is a Hummer driver trying to parallel park on Robson Street?! Usually - and these are rough figures from my recent "findings" - a Hummer damages two cars, injures three pedestrians and kills a homeless person when parallel parking on a city street. People. There has got to be a better way!
5. Hummer-driving yuppies who openly display their yuppie-ness should be reminded that, on The Drive, all of the yuppies are in disguise. Kinda like the disguises we were wearing on that day, Kurt...