The Pender Lodge hostel was located way out of the fucking way from downtown Vancouver. 431 East Pender Street in Chinatown. I believe my room was $20 a night, something extremely cheap. The hallways smelled like rotting fish, dried dead barfo crappo that you can smeeel on any street in c-town. Dank real foul aroma like cooking guts, bubbling bowels of a once live animal fumigating permeating throughout my temporary cell. The room wasn't necessarily quaint but it did its job. There was a television and fridge in my compact quarters. The bathroom, kitchen and showers were outside down that crusty yellow hall.
The bathroom was pretty much a shit box, small door opens to a pot to piss in. Everywhere were rules written in English with Chinese translation underneath. I walked up and down those rancid corridors listening to the noise in each room, trying to decipher tourist from lifer in this ridiculously evil hostel.
I was stationed in room 40. I had to go to the bathroom and piss out some Black Label beer that I had been sucking down. I entered the kitchen area, which lead to the shitter and came across this oldie Chinese woman who apparently despised my breathtaking good looks...or was born mute. Either way she just stared. Her filthy eyes peered through my spine. She glared deep into my retinas and I thought she was going to stay there forever. Giant orbs of nightmarish opal eyes pierced my white American flesh. I doubt this wrinkled woman was racist towards me. How could anybody hate this kid, I'm so attractively wonderful.
"Hello!" I said really really loud as if this ancient monster of the orient were fucking deaf. She was holding a giant metal spatula but wasn't cooking anything, not cooking at all, just washing a large stack of poop dishes...holding this eerie spatula. There was no reply, just a slight lunge towards me.
"Helllloooo" I said louder and more obnoxious. Her face cringed and that putrid mouth let out a slight burst of air. Picture a bull sneering snarling huffing before attacking that queerball matador. "I'm am a writer from Seattle America. Hello to you Chinese lady. What yooooooou doooooooooo?"
THWAK WACK CRACK...she slapped the spatula against the large steel sink in a dark silence. Her eyes glistened with anger as she dashed off, peeled back that dingy green curtain of room 39, and was gone. Fucking nutballs, why do they follow me everywhere? I was only trying to be stupid.
I wandered out of the Pender Lodge and tripped into a delightful bar called Pat's hoping to find true character stereotypes like the ones I heard about in those classic great white north sketches on SCTV. The ones who say "aboot" and wear only hockey jerseys while guzzling down suitcases of brew for breakfast. Those Canucks.
"I'd like one Canadian beer please."
"Pitcher or sleeve?" he said twisting the toothpick around his bacteria teeth.
"I want whatever Wayne Gretzky drinks."
No laughs only more stares.
A sleeve of Canadian label beer was served up in a 12 ounce, shit maybe it was a 16-ounce, pint glass. I retreated to my table amongst the pathetic lot of lushes. It was super dark in this den of debauchery. The regulars were stupid drunk and the time said it was only two in the afternoon. Oh Canada.
I began writing in my dear diary, the giant gay face book which contains my past few years...trip tales of Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, cross country book tour logs and now Vancouver B.C. My penmanship is poor, extremely bad speeeeler and the print is so wildly tiny, real real real small, that I probably fit 152 words across one fine line. Needless to say that an open book of my dear diary looks artsy enough to the curious eye, even though you must peer in real close just to guess what the fuck those ant-like words actually say.
"You writing me a love letter?" asks the waitress whistling through her missing tooth. "I need one today." Poor thing. She's the hottest thing in this room and probably weighs more than I do. Black tights, Def Leopard concert tee with the neckline ripped to accentuate her shabby collarbone. Feathered bangs, strawberry blonde locks like Belinda Carlisle rocked in 1983.
An old drunkard who keeps keeps keeps playing KENO steps into our story. "That's real small handwriting guy. You writing to a baby midget?" We both laugh and he really klink's my glass hard. "I'm documenting this entire scene for the good people of America. They need to know how you Canadians get down and drink," I tell him.
He continues to flip through the history book of me. I show him all of the pages; he flipped through them, pulls out my sketchbook of color corniness and he marvels at my childlike illustrations, crayon creations that were scribbled in the heat of some intoxicated daze.
"I'm trying to see how many foreigners buy me free drinks in different countries." After a long belch and momentary loss of equilibrium he returns to life and sets his sleeve on my table. Looking at me with concern his voice rises in volume. "How many do you have for Vancouver?" he asks between a pair of bombastic belches. "Unfortunately zero," I said looking as if the Klan just burned my favorite cross. "MERTLE bring this world traveler a pitcher of fucking beer and put it on my tab. We need to show him a good time tonight. Vancouver!"
Every half dead in the room raised a glass as high as they could and uttered something to the effect of 'here here.' Our eyesore of a waitress hobbles over to my table with an enormous tank of golden juice. "Now you tell them that Canada treats people right and we love our beer." "Will do partner. Good luck at that KENO machine." This bastard has already lost two hundred on the electronic suck machine.
Over the next blurry hours I drank with the locals in that shitty part of town. Pat, the owner of Pat's, asked "what are you doing here?" I told him that I am staying at the Pender Lodge and the whole bar became quiet with fear. I looked around to see their reactions but all of the faces seemed to disappear into a cloud of silence. "Shucks friend here's a shooter on the house. Sorry to hear that. Next time you should stay downtown or on west Broadway, some place where kids like you might be."
This is true. Over the next day I walked all around that city, literally all around it. The port looked exactly like Seattle except that the mountains were much closer. The fools in the street failed to grasp the concept of right of way and at every street I knocked, I was blocked by another goddamn body stepping right in my way. I felt the brunt of such a daytime trek, my feet were riddled with blood blisters. For some strange reason I wore my blue ratty Dogtown Vans and the high usage created even more holes in them thanks to the endless pavement pounding. The bottoms were red and throbbing, I had to peel my sock underneath in order to provide more support.
The veeeegan restaurants were hard enough to find but for some dumb fucking reason I decided to walk three hours to Dharma Kitchen at 3667 West Broadway.
"I walked here all the way from Chinatown," I smiled proudly.
"Why didn't you take the bus," asked the hostess.
"Yeah or you could have taxied, you know taxi?" asked the cook. My journey no longer felt so extraordinary.
All of my whole meal was organic. My fat belly wouldn't have it any other way. The walls were coated in a soothing garnet varnish. The room possessed a tranquil atmosphere that was easy to inhale...exhale...meditation...relaxation.
I walked back to Chinatown through the 'druggie den' area looking for some weed. Canada has reformed mary jew wanna laws and although I smelled skunk on every avenue, I was unable to score. A weird Asian bicyclist rides around shouting at every crippled body on skid row, "I got a rig. I got a rig...." I peeped dozens of space cadet dopers selling, shooting, and pop pop popppopopoping shit into their systems but no herbage. Honestly, I was most disturbed to find so many prostitutes in Vancouver, ugly skankalicious prostitutes that would make this cock beg for MERTLE before pushing up into their gritty nastiness and paying the ultimate price.
I walk walk walked, feet feeling like bomb blasts with every step, pow bang ouch all the way back to the Pender Lodge. That irritating yellow hallway, the stench of death soup lingered. I wanted to shower away the day but those wet boxes of excrement they called shower stalls didn't convince me that a freshen up was necessary.
My feet were now giant mounds of hurt flesh. I needed to nap or eat or pass out or something. I was drunk tank on Canadian beer. NOTE: I got two more suckers to flip coin on free drinks..."for the article." Couple from Germany on their honeymoon who didn't care for the pathetic Canadian water beer. Two rounds of Heineys with Jameson in joint called MORRISSEY.
On the way back to good old room 40 an annoyingly loud woman stopped me cold.
"What did you say to MO?" she asks very close to my face in an unsettling manner.
"I don't know any MO," I said stressing all of the O's making it sound real dumb.
"MO says you tell at her. MO says you disrespect her. She almost attack you."
I knew she was talking about that kurrazzzeeee old bat but couldn't concentrate because of the volume emanating from this woman's mouth. It was terribly deafening and my tinnitus is terrible enough.
"Could you please stop screaming, I'm three inches from you."
"Mr. Jason I know you are a gentleman."
"I know you are a gentleman and we want you to act like gentleman always here at Pender Lodge."
I locked the door to my room, kicked off my shoes and sat on the unsettling bed. The sheets were the same awful squash color as that miserable hallway - endless walkway of foul stink. There was a knock on my door, of course there was. I opened the door. An older Chinese man barged into my room, turning back to look both ways before slamming the door shut and locking it behind him.
"She kurrrraaaaazzzzzzzeeeee," he said while twisting his finger around the side of his temple.
"Which one?" I smile back.
"They all kurrrraaaaazzzzzzzeeeee."
I popped the top on a beer and offered him one. He declined. He held a full plate of steamed greens that filled up my rented closet with a horrible stink.
"She kurrrrazzzzeeee. She run this place like prison." CATHY was her name, the fucking loudmouth owner of the Pender Lodge.
"You go in there and tell her she kurrrrraaaaazzzeeeeee."
"I think she already knows."
"MO she kurrrraazzzeeee."
"Which one, who?"
"This whole fucking cuntree is cuckoo."
"What about CATHY?"
This classic comedy conversation went on for one hour and thirteen minutes. I timed it perfect.
He became my new friend KIM. He chomped on that stack of greens and began to tell me ALL of his problems living in this hostel. I must have been his only friend. He is still mine. I drank, listened and noted it all in dear diary.
"I ask for more heat, she say no, no heat. I ask for television she say no, no television. The room next to mine is rented by hookers and they fucky all night, so loud, screaming orgasms all night loud," he says to me.
"What room are they in? Maybe I should go talk to them."
"Oh you smooth operator Mr. Jason," he says gargling a mouthful of hot spinach.
KIM cleaned his plate with his shirt then sneaked back to his room on the other side of the mandarin asylum, super secretive, before returning with another sopping stack of slimy greens.
"CATHY in hallway now. MO too. Tell them that Mr. Jason thinks they kurrrazzzzze."
KIM had a point. After the border patrol debauchery and the horror tales of this shit hostel, I found myself in a real American state of mind. Let's go fuck some foreign shit up, I thought. There is no shit better to fuck up than foreign shit, I thought. THAT'S the way God intended for it to be, I thought. I must stick my stupid schnoz in foreign shit, then fuck it all up, I thought. Foreign shit, domestic shit, all types of shit, I thought. Its my patriotic duty as a goddamn American citizen to fuck everything up, I thought.
I walked into that vile hallway. KIM crept behind me like some scared Shaggy. The curtain to room 39 opened. MO stood there brandishing her spatula. KIM freaks and runs down the hall screaming "she kurrrrazzzzeeeeee" in Chinese. I don't speak the picture language, but after spending all evening with that old bugger, I caught his drift crystal.
This woman and that spatula. It wasn't even going to hurt if she hit me I thought, and then WAM WAM WAM. She connected. CATHY comes roaring at my bemused frozen frame.
"Mr. Jason please be gentleman at Pender Lodge."
WAM WAM WAM. I continued to be attacked by this cooking apparatus, and although it didn't hurt, I stood there mesmerized by this peculiar scene. I started to sink into the sound pattern of the pops against my arm, finding the melody in her gentle attempt at violence. "Mr. Jason this isn't acceptable behavior from 'budget travelers' here at Pender Hostel. We offer best value for best people," CATHY yells into my left ear. My right ear is hearing the sound of spatula smacking skin. Both eyes are locked down the hall on KIM who is peeking through the crack of his door, indicating that both of these wild women are kurrrraaaazzzzzeee, by spinning his finger around the temple of his hairless head.
I packed my books, dear diary, water jug, extra beers and hit the Amtrak station. TWO DAYS earlier than planned. After the mess I found myself in at that fucking looney toons Pender Lodge, I needed to flee back to my sanctuary of sanity. This studio cell room 101 in the Bellevue Mental Hospital.
Vancouver British Columbia Canada