Nov 242016

So there are a lot of things about myself I don’t like to admit. I’m assuming this is the case for most people.

I don’t like to admit how much I like stupid dance movies like Step Up 3DCenter Stage, and Save The Last Dance where at least 90% of the time, the story is the boy/girl from the wrong side of the tracks who dances “street” teams up with the classically trained/ballet/true artist girl/boy dancer to shatter the snotty, uptight expectations of the “art world”/establishment and win the dance scholarship/competition/world prize (see also Pitch Perfect and Bring It On for variations on this theme). I don’t like to admit how powerless I am in the face of my serious bubble tea addiction. I don’t like to admit how happy such bubblegum pop neoclassics as Shake It OffCall Me Maybe, and Kiss You make me when I listen to them. I don’t like to admit how much I hate things many people adore, like Star WarsBook of Mormon, Firefly, and Lord of the Rings. Oh no wait—I do love telling people how much I hate that last group of things.

But you get the idea… I mean, obviously there are far more serious things I don’t like to admit about myself that (shocker) I will not be writing down here and putting out into the public sphere. But one thing I will cop to is that I do not like to admit where I’m from. I do admit it (because I don’t believe in being evasive/coy about stuff you might not like but didn’t choose and can’t change) but I don’t like it. Not one bit.

Hi, my name is Kalev and yes, I grew up in Surrey, BC.1

I can’t tell you that I always knew how awful Surrey was. Growing up in Surrey, I just didn’t really understand there were (vastly) other ways to live. Given I was in deep denial about my sexuality until I was nearly 20, I didn’t experience the place as particularly anti-gay (even though Surrey is, to a remarkably disturbing degree). And I’m not ashamed to be from Surrey because it’s the default butt of every redneck/dumb or slutty blond joke in the region. I’m not ashamed because of the stereotypes about Surrey, because every region has a municipality like that.2 No, I’m ashamed to be from Surrey because of how it has been and acted, historically, and how it still is. And it’s a lot more than uncomplicated stereotypes about the types of people who live there—which could, to be fair, be made about nearly any community far enough out from any urban centre—that underpin my ire.

My deep and abiding contempt for my hometown in based in a variety of reasons, many of which relate to it embodying values that are completely antithetical to my core beliefs. But perhaps the one aspect of Surrey that most upsets me, that makes my blood boil, is that the city and its residents are constantly whining about how they pay SO. MUCH. for transit (not directly, but via things like property taxes and gas taxes)3 and yet they are so desperately shortchanged in return for their selfless sacrifice.

(Let me tell you, just as an aside: on a variety of fronts in my life, I am getting damn sick of people complaining about problems that are their own damn fault and which they could damn well fix if they damn well shut the fuck up and worked on the problem instead of bitching about how it was someone else’s fault and out of their control.)

And this unpleasant caterwauling was out in full force yesterday in the comment section of the livestream of the joint Mayors’ Council–TransLink board meeting where the 10-Year Plan was approved.

To wit:


So to give you a bit more context on why that comment should have come with a Kalev trigger warning™,4 I’ll share the response I wrote to it, which summarizes why I hate Surrey on this particular front:

Surrey can have SkyTrain when it starts acting like a real city and implements this crazy thing called “urban planning” instead of its continued and appalling suburban sprawl. It doesn’t have anywhere near the density to justify SkyTrain and it has certainly never demonstrated the political will to develop communities where transit can be effectively delivered. When SkyTrain arrived in central Surrey, a few towers got built… and then NOTHING for the next 15 years. Meanwhile, the sprawl continued unabated.

Further, LRT5 is not some cheap-out alternative to SkyTrain. It’s an appropriate mode of rapid transportation for the city given its current state and it’s widely used across the world.

Surrey should count itself lucky it’s getting ANY kind of rapid transit beyond what it already has. The notion that it’s needed more in Surrey (which is completely laid out around car use) and not along Broadway (all the way to UBC) which is the single busiest transit corridor ON THE CONTINENT is ludicrous in the extreme.

Let’s put it this way: you guys are lucky you’re considered fertile ground for BC Liberal and federal Conservative politicians because otherwise this wouldn’t even be a conversation.

*mic drop*

  1. Happily I at least wasn’t born there. ? []
  2. I’m looking at you, Scarborough! ? []
  3. which is also a lie since, as I’ve mentioned before, property taxes in the Lower Mainland are shockingly low for a region of our size, population, and complexity—and Surrey is not the exception to that rule (in a relative sense, White Rock is) []
  4. as should any articles about the housing market in Vancouver *sigh* []
  5. light rail transit []
Nov 212016

I am watching a new TV show this fall. Oh scratch that: I am watching a multitude of new TV shows this fall! This is because one of my prime forms of entertainment is TV. But not any TV, oh no. Specifically, 1-hour TV dramas. I nearly never watch sitcoms and I would rather kill myself than watch “reality” “TV.” So I watch allllllll the 1-hour dramas.1

One of the new shows I’m watching is called This Is Us, which I am so not just watching for Mandy Moore (because of this or this) or Justin Hartley (because uhm duh!!!).

The first episode or two, I wasn’t sold, if only because it was trying so. damn. hard. to tug on your heartstrings. Like… if I feel like I’m being manipulated into crying, you are in trouble, because I generally love tearjerker drama and not because I’m too stupid to know it’s designed to elicit a very specific reaction in its viewers. It was just so heavy-handed about it.

But then after a few episodes, I got into it (there’s a pretty cool twist in the show’s conceit which I won’t spoil but yeah, cool and thought-provoking). And then… oh network TV, why do you do this to me?

Yes, one of the show’s key (hetero) couples had a pregnancy scare. And since This Is Us airs not just on “network TV” but one of the “big three” (read: ABC, CBS, NBC), it had to be handled in the time-honoured US network TV tradition: so unrealistically as to make your head spin.

So thanks to NBC, the couple (who have never been revealed to be particularly religious, let alone evangelical) deals with the scare by not even bringing up the possibility of abortion. Even though they have two children already and the wife expresses how much she was looking forward to getting back to work now that their daughters are not toddlers, not even the slightest hint that terminating the pregnancy is an available option (no matter how undesirable it may or may not be for that particular couple) is made.

I could have SCREAMED.

(This is before the recent US presidential election. Which of course is frightening to think may have mattered, even though it thankfully didn’t.)

My friend Ali tells me, however, that the CW (a “netlet” or smaller network than the “big three” but still considered moderately widespread and somewhat of a big deal) just aired an episode of the quirky musical My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that handled the issue of abortion in a pretty normalized manner. And it was also handled well, apparently, during the first season of Amazon’s Transparent. So maybe there is hope that, someday, even though no one is forced to choose it, abortion’s existence as an option might get acknowledged on shows being made and broadcast on widely disseminated media. Because women fought and died for that option to be on the table, and not even bringing up its existence is offensive.

  1. Ha! I don’t even watch close to all of them but it certainly feels like I do. []