Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Went to Vancouver and survived

I know there are more things that are important, even locally considering that Bush paid a visit to Bellevue--which is a Seattle suburb--yesterday, that I was unavailable for. But it was very interesting. No problems at the border. It's a surprisingly easy drive from Seattle, I was shocked.

Vancouver itself has a really big contrast: most of it, from what I saw, resembles regular Pacific Northwest cities, which is to say that it's made up mostly of small neighborhoods of little apartment buildings and single family homes with kind of regional downtowns every now and again; but downtown Vancouver itself is completely different.

You go over the bridge to downtown, which is on a little peninsula and it looks like something from Blade Runner, tower after tower of enormous, maybe twenty five story or higher, apartment and office buildings. The downtown is incredibly dense, completely urbanized, in a way that only a few blocks in the heart of Seattle's business district are.

They have a great art museum, the Vancouver Art Gallery, that has a good show going now called "From Monet to Dali" that focusses mainly on the impressionists but also has some stuff going into later movements. It made me look at Impressionism in a new way, made it make more sense than Art History books and slideshows.....and it's all, duh duh duh, about impressions. Gee, who would have thought of that. My reading is that these paintings were done to represent how we actually see a scene, what we pay attention to in a scene, rather than what it actually one-to-one looks like.

A great thing about the city that I experienced was the Canadian "Salad Bowl" model for ethnic Canadians, which, as opposed to our "Melting Pot", allows people to still be Canadian without having to sacrifice their own languages and traditions. I heard Arabic, Castellano Spanish, Russian, a huge amount of Chinese, and possibly some slavic languages that I wasn't familiar enough with to actually say what country they were from. French too. And I heard them a lot. You can hear one or two conversations a day in some of these languages in Seattle, with Vietnamese and Thai thrown in there, but people were speaking them all the time all around me.

And from my very, very cursory experience in Vancouver, limited to places around the downtown and to the art gallery, it didn't appear that Canadian society was falling apart due to the presence of non-English speakers who carried some of their own cultural traditions with them and weren't pressed into some generic mold of being "Canadian". Which is what anti-immigrationists here in the U.S. say is going to happen if we don't either keep people out or force them to integrate into (white)"American" cultural norms.

Good experience. I'll go back. And I'll give a report.

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