Aug 202012
 

My latest Openfile.ca article is on the City of Vancouver, after years of non-enforcement, starting to enforce zoning bylaw for adult stores.

This means, interestingly, that stores like London Drugs (which are basically department stores) would be classified as Adult Retail Stores because, right above the condoms and lube, they sell vibrators, discretely packaged as “personal massagers” and often with no illustration or photo on the box. Under Vancouver bylaws, those are “sex objects” and selling those makes your store an “Adult Retail Store”. The law was set in 1995, and since then there have been a lot of upscale adult boutiques like the Art of Loving or Honey, or feminist-oriented adult stores like Womyns’Ware. These stores fit just fine into residential neighborhoods like Kitsilano and Commercial Drive.

Sketchy stores like Fantasy Factory, where they have peepshows in the back, are becoming an anachronism in the age of Internet porn. The guy who runs Fantasy Factory says that 60 per cent of his customers are women buying vibrators and other toys. This is a case of the law not really keeping up with the times.

 

 

Aug 202012
 

Note: While the Occupy Vancouver camp was set up on the lawn and plaza  of the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown, I visited frequently. I wanted to write something about this event, but I wanted it to be something different from what everybody else was saying; a fresh angle. A friend in my writer’s workshop told me about another “temporary autonomous zone” in Vancouver, four decades ago. That led me to a whole history of “seized spaces” in Vancouver, squatting and otherwise. Unfortunately, by the time I did all the research and interviews, Occupy Vancouver had ended, and the moment for the story had passed. As selling this story seems increasingly unlikely, I post it here free.

Continue reading »

Jul 292012
 

(crossposted from The History of BDSM)

About a month ago, I got a comment on my writing promotional blog from an editor at a local book publisher. She had seen my article on Maria Monk in Maisonneuve magazine, and wanted to know if I had any ideas for books on porn or sexuality.

Thrilled, I polished up my book proposal and the two completed chapters and emailed them too her. Then I started chewing my nails.

Continue reading »

Jul 162012
 

My article on Vancouver’s comics society Cloudscape Comics, and their upcoming urban fantasy anthology Giants on Main Street, is now up on Openfile.

Personally, what I took away from the interview for this story was how tough it is for comics artists. You want to work in this particular medium, and there are so many obstacles to actually getting your work out to people so they can see it. The American comics industry is dominated by a Coke-and-Pepsi duopoly. If you want to get your self-produced comics out there, you might be able to get them into one of few remaining direct sale comics stores, or you might be able to get it into Chapters, if they feel like it. Otherwise, you’re better off doing webcomics or self-publishing, but even that makes it hard to get out of a particular subculture. If you’re still determined to do comics, after all that, it must be love.

 

Jul 152012
 

For a limited time, Smart Pop Books has posted my essay “Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse: 21st Century Neo-Gothic” from the essay collection Inside Joss’ Dollhouse as a free read. Get it while you can.

This is one of the first paid published pieces that emerged from my research, and I think it turned out pretty well. I am, according to one friend, “the world’s biggest Dollhouse fan”, and I love it the way you can only love a child that died young after a long struggle.

Jun 282012
 

My latest article is about the efforts to stop the Tran-Pacific Partnership, a secret trade agreement that could force your Internet service provider to snitch on you to AOLTimeWarner for posting fanfiction.

I’m discouraged when I see decisions being made in closed, dark rooms by unelected officials far from any oversight. It’s not defying the principles of liberal democracy, it’s simply ignoring them.

This job was a very fast turnaround for me, receiving the email around 5:00pm Tuesday and filing the story around 1:30pm Wednesday. I hope to put more effort into faster turnarounds on writing jobs, mainly by accelerating the time-consuming process on transcription process.

Jun 212012
 

My latest article is about a new video game lounge trying to get a liquor license that lets them have game consoles at the tables where they serve food and liquor. I don’t drink, so this is an academic issue for me, but I don’t like arbitrary and restrictive government regulations.

I do like the idea of a place where you can try out video games. I’ve never owned a video game console, nor do I currently own a PC that could really provide the full effect of a video game experience. (I also don’t have the time or the money really). However, I feel like I’m missing out on a medium that means a lot to a lot of people. It’s a generational thing, I think: millennials relate to Mass Effect and the like the way my generation related to Star Wars, but on an even more intimate level. I watched Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. People today design their own version of Commander Shepherd and control him or her.

This was also an experiment in decreasing my turnaround time for articles. One of my biggest time sinks and also the most tedious part of the business is transcribing interviews from my digital recorder. I usually do very thorough transcripts, with an eye towards using the same research and interviews to write a different article for a different market. For the last few pieces, I’ve been trying to only transcribe the good quotes and just convert everything else to notes, to save time and aggravation. It seems to be working, as I did the last few articles much faster than I usually do.

Jun 132012
 

My article on sousveillance of police in Vancouver is up on Vancouver.Openfile.ca. I hope I can go a little further into this area in the future.

Interestingly, this piece has also come to the attention of a blog called Genuine Witty.

The blog posted a picture of me, captioned that I am “Shilin’ it for the DTES povertarians…” The author says that “Peter wrote a great informational piece about CopWatch- that said, it is a bit fluffy, and misses out on some of the meat of the story.”

As far as I can tell, this blog is mainly personal opinions about some kind of argument between people formerly involved with Occupy Vancouver, and the article is an attempt to subsume my article into that discourse.

Well, at least somebody is reading.

May 082012
 

My latest article is up on Vancouver.Openfile.ca, about the limited choices for video in Vancouver.

I’m old enough to live through the video revolution. I remember going to see a video store for the first time, in what must have been the early 80s (there was still BetaMax) and being astonished that there were that many movies in existence.

I’ve also lived only a 10-minute walk from where Videomatica used to be in Kitsilano. Now I feel vaguely guilty about not patronizing Videomatica more, as if renting a DVD once a week could make a difference against Vancouver’s rising property rents. Another factor was the lack of instant gratification. If you’re used to seeing a web page or a YouTube click instantaneously, hauling your ass out of the house to physically carry a hunk of storage media from a store to your house and then take it back felt like a drag.

Researching this story brought me back into browsing video store shelves, which I found I missed. Or rather, it’s something I missed when I was actually experiencing it, not something that I missed when I wasn’t. We need a name for that particular kind of not-quite nostalgia.

The social networking of the Internet can sort-of replace that browsing experience, and I suspect sooner or later somebody will figure out the licensing problems and we’ll have access to a large library of streaming titles for a reasonable price. Until then, we’re in an awkward transition.

“A video store where there used to be real, live actors….”

 Posted by at 12:20