Spring time, rain in the city. Sky’s real grey and the weather is shitty. Sorry, I’ve been singing that song in my head for a week now and felt compelled to share it with you. So it’s Saturday and time for another Jane Sawyer Vancouver Adventure. She has four suggestions: Go to the Roedde House for tea and a tour, The “Towns” (Gas, China, Tinsel), a hike to a 1910 Japanese logging camp in the Seymour Valley, or a “full scouring of Main Street from Broadway to 25th”. I opt for Main Street. I strap on my low-cut white Chucks, sling my camera, and don my “Writer” hat (It’s not a hat for writing; that would be weird. It’s a hat that says, “Writer”. Perhaps presumptuous, but it was a gift and I love it).
The day gets off to a typical Baron start when I can’t find Jane. In a farce that Shakespeare could not have envisioned, Jane tries to talk me in on my cell phone. We’re never more than about 20m apart, but we’re just looking in opposite directions.
“No, I’m AT 7th… Well, closer to 8th. An antique store? No… By ‘brickish coloured’ do you mean a brick building? Wait… No, I don’t see it. Wait, there’s a cafe. That one? Fuck… I’m on Kingsway.”
I glance over my shoulder and she’s in a cafe across the damn street, looking west.
gene – 2404 Main Street (@ 7th)
Coffee (and or tea) always figures quite handily in our Van-ventures. Coffee has been slowly creeping back into my life. During this creep, the word “Macchiato” has played a larger and larger role. It’s time to try one. Awesome. Jane sits across the table from me with a veritable bucket o’coffee, and it sit with my wee cup of pure coffee essence.
Jane flags a passing friend and he joins us. On our last Van-venture, I met Bruce. Today, it’s Phil. Phil has a guitar company, Liquid Metal Guitars, and his mission today is to get rid of some books. He’s having limited success at the moment. We chat about The Sadies, The Pack A.D. (playing together @ The Biltmore on Friday, June 4th), and Mexican poet, Octavio Paz. Phil is suddenly intrigued by Paz, which takes all three of us to the next stop on my Main Street adventure.
pulp fiction – 2422 Main Street
Those of you who know me might think that if I knew someone who owned a bookstore, I’d be there everyday bugging the hell out of them, right? Wrong. I’ve known Christopher Brayshaw for over 30 years. This may or may not count considering I haven’t actually seen him in over 20. It’s good to finally see him again after all this time. He’s a bit surprised to see me because he expected me to be in LA. We’d spoken over Facebook a few times in the last little while. I tell him the story of why I’m not in LA and it is a story that the owner of a store called “pulp fiction” can truly appreciate. Phil goes off in search of Paz, Jane heads for the novels, and I just stroll. Don English, another friend I haven’t seen in a very long while, pops in and we chat.
By this time, I’ve latched on to The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe. I suggest Richler’s Cocksure for Jane, its cover emblazoned with a giant, um, rooster? This is the beginning of an internalized joke that will almost get me hit by a car in two hours.
A Baker’s Dozen Antiques – 3520 Main Street
When you’re walking with Jane and she says, “Oooooh!”, listen. This is one of the neatest stores I have ever been in. If you’re searching for a key to a Narnian wardrobe, you’d probably find it here. They have nick knacks, paddywhacks, a few dogs, and more than a couple bones. I think “cool shit” sums it up. Check this place out.
As we walk along, we pass a store that sells “gifts for the globally minded.” It’s empty. Deserted. Departed. Gone. I guess if you’re globally minded, you’re shit out of luck.
The Regional Assembly of Text – 3934 Main Street
This place is pretty fricken’ cool. If you’re a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I like girls, and there was more than a couple things I considered buying in here, the “I ♥ typewriters” button being at the top of the list. This is another “Jane” store, in fact she wanted to work there and one point. The stuff she sends me in the mail makes me smile and I’m sure a lot of it started in here. But, for me, apart from the actual typewriters (they have a letter writing club that meets the first Thursday of every month), there’s not a whole lot here for me. It is amazing handcrafted stuff, just not my cup of tea. However, if you have a crafty, letter writer on your gift list, this store is an absolute must.
We cross the street and start heading north again.
Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France – 198 East 21st Avenue
Chocolate isn’t really my thing but this place smells AMAZING. Jane buys a couple pieces of handmade chocolate. One of them is cardamom. More on that later. They have a cayenne pepper truffle. It is very tempting but I resist.
Neptoon Records – 3561 Main Street
There is nothing I can say about Neptoon Records that hasn’t been said already. Suffice it to say, you should go there, often.
Alexander Lamb Antiques & The Exotic World Museum – 3271 Main Street
Okay. You open the door and Lamb is standing there: waxed moustache, ascot, and beret. He is sociable and polite but I have the sneaking suspicion that if he ever asked me if I wanted to see something “really cool,” I’d probably say “no.” There is a lot of cool stuff in his store but the “museum” at the back is amazing. The ashes of the store’s founders sit in their urns on a shelf surrounded by pictures of eccentricities from around the world. Wherever adjectives like “deepest” and “darkest” are used, there’s a picture of it on the wall. If there was anywhere in Vancouver to buy a Mogwai (well, outside of Chinatown), it would be here. Definitely a stop to be made.
Before we pop into the Brewery Creek Beer & Wine to see if Shiloh is working, Jane pops her cardamom chocolate into her mouth. It’s not the happiest I’ve ever seen her. She never gets to the Bill the Cat “Ack!” stage, but cardamom flavoured, French chocolate is now officially off her list of things she wants to try.
We part ways at 14th. Jane heads across the street to JJ Bean to refill and plan the rest of her afternoon and I continue back down Main and into the city. As promised, I almost get hit by a car taking this picture:
Farther down Main, I pass a gallery and stop at an Angela Fama picture (part of her Mirrorface exhibit) that I am certain is Julie Bavalis, Parlour Steps‘ bass player (among other things, I’m sure). After deciding that if it isn’t Julie, it sure looks like her, I continue on the the Skytrain station at Main and Terminal.
*Though it has nothing to with Main Street, I was hardly surprised to find that the escalator at the Granville Skytrain station is still out of commission. That damn thing is quickly becoming the Gulf Spill of escalators and I wonder if it will ever be fixed. I also snapped the picture below because I just could not resist.