Before I say anything else, I have a thing to say about the title of this post. The phrase, “you can’t go home again” was coined by Thomas Wolfe, America’s greatest writer; not Tom Wolfe, the white-suit-wearing fuck. It kills me that the latter, and lesser Wolfe essentially stole his name from a great man. Any Google search of “Thomas Wolfe” will yield pictures of the thin, pale puke from Virginia. Thomas Wolfe shared editor Maxwell Perkins with Ernest Hemmingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald; Wolfe was Perkins’ favourite of the three. William Faulkner often said that Thomas Wolfe was America’s greatest writer, and while Wolfe’s legacy is dangerously close to dwindling due to overly-simplistic renderings of “modernism”, and Tom Wolfe’s blatant theft of a good name, I am confident that one day we will wake up to the beauty and wonder so magnificently displayed in Thomas Wolfe’s writing. Look Homeward, Angel is a good place to start for those of you curious about this literal, literary giant.
Wolfe was right: you can’t go home again. Just as you cannot step into the same river twice, or lose your virginity for a second time, once you leave a city, your memory becomes fixed as the place and the people remain plastic. When I left Calgary in 2007, the province of Alberta was entering into an economic boom. I was horrified, in my increasingly sporadic trips back “home”, to see what wealth had done to the city and some of its citizens. Huge skyscrapers were erected, dominating the city’s skyline as those who used the buildings’ offices snorted cocaine off the back of golden toilets. While I was often described as the prodigal son for leaving my home, I often thought of Calgary in prodigal terms: the city squandered the earth’s inheritance, spending their black gold faster than it was coming in.
But tomorrow has now come, and with it, the crash. I’ve watched from afar as those who once feasted on the fattened calf now struggle to pay their mortgages. Alberta’s response to the economic downturn is still in its early stages: a lot of people are angry. Many blame Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP’s for the downturn in the global economy: these savages have gone so far as to threaten her life. Many are nostalgic for the days of Premier Ralph Klein, Alberta’s drunken, and insane answer to Rob Ford: you shall know them by their neck tattoos and truck nuts.
I can identify with the poverty many Albertans now face: I have been consistently poor for the past nine years— just before I left Victoria, I was caught drinking cream from my work’s refrigerator, my “solution” to no lunch, and no money. But I got used to being poor, and I adapted. I got into biological alchemy, turning the cheapest cut of the cheapest meat into a delicacy: I made sausage. I walked around town and people hounded me for my sausage: many believed that I was a male prostitute! Sausage saved my life. My hand-cranked meat grinders are among the few possessions I brought back to Alberta with me: I am currently contemplating taking them with me to ‘nam.
I confess that I like the humbled version of Alberta better than its vainglorious incarnation of years past. I also like it that in Alberta, unlike Victoria, there is a thriving middle class. I struggled for years in Victoria to gain stable employment, but I never managed to crack the poverty line. Ironically, I left as soon as I found good work: I am not the only one. It is becoming increasingly difficult to survive Victoria’s insane housing market. Tenants are routinely ejected from their homes by greedy “lords of the land”, who seek to capitalize on their “investment”. Rent is going up: there is no place to stay. It makes me want to vomit.
I fear for the futures of those I love in Victoria, most of whom are poor. I envision already starving artists having to work three jobs in order to pay their rent, thereby neglecting their real calling. I wonder how much it will take for them to leave the place they, and I, both love. Victoria will suffer for it: much like Hades, I fear that Victoria shall be the exclusive domain of Government Employees and those working in the Tech sector. Not too enticing now, is it?
***The newest edition to my Vlog has been removed from YouTube as it features copyrighted material from Radiohead. If you would like to watch it, you can do so here. I am currently putting the finishing touches on the next Vlog, which features music by Lily Fawn!