|Vancouver BC: Final Weekend
||[Oct. 20th, 2010|03:59 pm]
Friday evening I took the SkyTrain out to Commercial Station where some friends suggested I might find a good neighborhood. South of the station it was mostly dollar stores and a fairly chavvy neighborhood, but walking north on Commercial I found some pretty nice stuff. A little less upscale with a younger, kinda hippie vibe. Cafe Deux Soleils was packed with people, taking a $5-$10 sliding scale cover to hear a few small bands, and seemed very North Berkeley. At the north end of Commercial I took a bus into Gastown. While Yaletown night life is mostly high end (and mostly wannabe high end) nightclubs, Club 23 in Gastown plays psytrance on Friday, a club inside (or next to) Save-On-Meat was attracting a decent punk crowd, near a country/western club with a giant red convertible cadillac with Texas longhorns parked out front.
I ran into a friend outside a dubstep show who introduced me to Trevor Adams, owner & creative director of Leviathan, who do work for TV. We ended up having a very good half hour talk about what it's like to live in Vancouver, what it's been like to work here in the past, and how the recent influx of film companies has changed things. Film shops generally and Digital Domain particularly have sucked up a lot of freelancers into longer-term positions, pushing salaries up in the direction of SF/LA rates. What I heard not just from Trevor but from a lot of people I've talked to this week is that Vancouver needs senior and technical talent. It's easy to find animation school grads who can use Maya. Harder to find someone who knows what to do at a shell prompt. Difficult to find anyone who can write a script to rename a sequence of files, let alone people who have worked in a complex pipeline. Experienced artists, particularly those with technical skills, might find a warm welcome in Vancouver.
On Saturday I met up with Ian and we walked around Kitsilano, "the Santa Monica of Vancouver". If I lived there it would require two bus rides and a transfer to get to the office in Yaletown, so I probably won't move there, but for people who work at one of the studios near city hall or go to school at the university I can see it being a good place to live. Walking back through "Kitts" along the sea wall gives you a great view of the main island, plus the ships docked in English Bay, plus North Van and the mountains on the other side. Very nice place to walk your dog if you've got one. Our walk took us back to Granville Island where we met up with Jesse, my co-worker from the LA office in town for a family reunion, who agreed that Vancouver would be a pretty nice place to live if he had to move somewhere. After lunch we split off from the group, and K and I went over to check out Chinatown. She found the T&T Market - the largest, cleanest asian market we'd ever seen in North America. Huge seafood section with not just live crabs and lobster but live shrimp, clams, scallops, etc. We spent the afternoon in Chinatown which was very large but also seemed a little sparse. There are shops run by Chinese people but they seemed a little sparse, a little generic, and don't seem like much to write home about. I got the feeling that the Chinese population living in Chinatown 30 years ago has largely integrated itself into Canadian culture, leaving a "chinese district" something of an anachronism.
We didn't have a lot of time on Sunday because we were leaving on an early afternoon flight, but K got the idea of getting a Zipcar and going over to Grouse Mountain. Without traffic it's a 20 minute drive from downtown and 8 minutes on a cable car to the top of the mountain for a very beautiful view of the whole area. Cable car tickets were $40, but a one year pass is $100 and a one year family pass is $200 with half price tickets for guests. There's also skiing, zip lines, and other things to do at the top of the mountain. We only had time for an hour up top before it was time to head to the airport and fly home but I'm glad we went.