Friday, January 16, 2009


"Kill Feminist Bitches" - Graffito, University of Western Ontario, after Marc Lepine's murder of 14 women in Montreal, 1989.

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood once asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women. He replied: "They are afraid women will laugh at them." She then asked a group of women why they felt threatened by men. They answered: "We're afraid of being killed."

When I was a kid I hated Vancouver. I remember a feeling of heaviness and dread whenever my family would travel from a small island off the west coast to the big city. It wasn't because it was a big city, I liked cities way more than small towns, in general. Still do. But back then as a kid, I hated Vancouver because the overwhelming feeling of shithole scared me to death. There are a few shitholes in Canada. You've got Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, Barrie Ontario, Davis Inlet, Rose Valley Saskachewan and Quenell B.C. to start. But back then I gave Vancouver the prize.

Nowadays I love Vancouver. In some ways Vancouver benefitted from hosting the Expo 86 franchise. Areas that were dead zones got residences. But Vancouver also lost some of it's frontier charm too. Hope for jobs due tothe festival drew people looking for work where there wasn't any. What made elderly Canadians call Vancouver "seedy" (isn't that a funny archaic term?) was the hookers, drug addicts and all the trade and vibe that goes with a major port town. The hippies, drug cartels, gangs and the strippers didn't help either.

Today Vancouver has become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I would live there. My sister does. You can find yourself in a rainforest in half an hour. Great restaurants, seafood, the most beautiful peelers, (ask Bon Jovi) hiking, snowboarding. And lots of dead women.

Three years ago, I made the mistake of turning down a corner near Koreatown and finding myself on Wastings. I avoid Wastings as much as possible on my visits. It's like walking in a Romero film and you fear being scratched. One word. Hepititis. The street is actually called Hastings...Hastings and Main. but most of us call it Pain and Wastings. Or "Low Track". You lose weight on the Jenny Crack Diet. You lose weight from Chrystal Meth and from living outdoors or in abandoned, but beautiful, real estate. The old fashioned term seedy just doesn't cut it here. Neither does ghetto, skid row, the weeds, red light. This is hell.

Vancouver suburbs changed laws (like Mel Lastman did in Toronto) and the burbs were able to kick out single apartment dwellers, and prostitites. Federal cutbacks pushed patients out of mental hospitals, dreams of work drew desperate people to Vancouver and needle exchange programs reached emergency levels by the mid-90's.

During these drastic economic changes between Expo and the federal cutbacks dozens of women went missing. By the time the official search for missing women began in the late 90's...forced by an Aboriginal group demanding an investigation... over 40 women were missing. When the murderer was caught over 50 women were missing. He killed, and fed them to his pigs on his farm, and buried some body parts, of 48 women. He had 15 years where authorities simply didn't give a damn. He found most of his victims at Pain and Wastings.

Vancouver is not a unique case of an area that tolerates violence to women.

The Green River killer a couple hours away from Vancouver pleaded guilty to 48 murders, but bragged about commiting 90.

A border city in Mexico began losing women. Most of these women worked for corporate international factories. These murders have been called a metaphor for Mexico and according to amnesty international 350 women have been murdered in ten years. Ten years. Officials in Mexico have resisted taking the crimes seriously and official investigations came only by pressure from grass roots womens groups, poets, and eventually Amnesty International. 300 hundred factories attract desperate workers to the area and yet these corporate globally owned companies combined with corrupt law enforcemnt have done very little to improve the security of the area. Mothers, grandmothers and neighbours have created their own searches for bodies of missing women in "the serial killers playground". I've been to some pretty sketchy areas of Mexico, but this story defies imagination. Ten years, hundreds of dead women.

Long before any official investigation in the disappearance of these dozens of women, in 1995 Tori Amos wrote the song Juarez. Thank god for poets who still respect women and coin a phrase "a metaphor for Mexico". Every shithole needs a metaphor...and that one sure beats "seedy".


dropped off the edge again down in jaurez
"don't even bat an eye
if the eagle cries" the rasta man says,
just cause the desert likes young girls flesh and
no angel came

i don't think you even know
what you think you just said
so go on spill your seed
shake your gun to the rasta man's head
and the desert- she must be blessed and
no angel came

there's a time to keep it up
a time to keep it in
the indian is told
the cowboy is his friend
you know that i can breathe
even when i cheat
should. should've been over for me
no angel came


Janet said...


Candy Minx said...

Hi Janet...I'm feeling kind of bad. The Hubs says I usually have such positive posts and attitude around my blog...he was worried I was gonna bum visitors out. Sorry about that. But it's beena story my sister and I have been following for a long time in Mexico. I've also gone to several trials of serial killers and murder trials. (the Karla Holmolka/Paul Bernardo trial, Alison Perrot trial among them) Violence to women is a kind of pet issue...but I usually don't talk about it because it's so depressing.

Bunny McVane said...

so have you read 2666? just curious if it is any good. im sure it is, by all accounts it is great.

Candy Minx said...

Molotov, well I read 2666 a couple of months ago...but was aware of the Juarez murders for over ten years. There are a number of books published now, a photography book too...morbid. I did post here a couple weeks ago that 2666 was my favourite book I read last year.

I didn't write much of a review because my sister is half way through the novel.

Bolano's last novel is difficult at first...he does a great job of portraying academics as yobs...but it's hard to find anyone to "like" at first. Sometimes that was slow going. But for me, the novel begins to become amazing about a third of the way through. The novel is 900 pages long so it's a bit of a work out.

What are your top favourite novels, Molotov? I am very good usually if I know what top five or ten books (or movies) a person likes I can come up with rcommendations...

Candy Minx said...

p.s. I can tell you that the opening 150 pages of 266 gave me a similar feeling as when I read "Fouclcault's Pendulum" and that is with mixed emotions as a recommendation heh heh...

Let me know what your fave novels are...and I'll let you know if I think you will enjoy the 900 page odyssey...

S.M. Elliott said...

This isn't a bummer, just some truth. It's hard to face when it's in your own backyard, but we have to do it. Vancouver still bums me out and I don't like to be there, knowing that block after wasted block of degradation and misery exists at the core of such an affluent and pretty place. There's no excuse for it. Currently there are 10 detox beds for women in the Low Track, but dozens for men (though women outnumber men there thanks to prostitution); it's as if we WANT women to be there, to be vulnerable to the worst our society has to offer. We can shame Mexico for its femicide, but we've got our very own brand of it going on.

Bunny McVane said...

Hey, Candy. Sorry, I read your blog sometimes--missed your entry on 2666. My favorite novels are Lolita, Blood Meridian (sometimes I lurk at the McCarthy Forum as well), Against The Day, Generation X, and Pride and Prejudice. It took me a long time to read ATD and am looking at 2666 wondering if it's going to be a long haul. Did you read Chuck Bowden's book on Jaurez? Thought about reading that, however after recently rereading his Harper's article, "Torch Song" I'm not sure if I have the fortitude. Thanks for your feedback.

Candy Minx said...

SME, well, yeah, I wanted to juxtapoz the Vancouver scene with Mexico for just that goes on everywhere. DRC is the worst. Interesting how the word "seedy" has a feminine imagery, no?

Molotov, I think you would like 2666. I think you might really like it. qualifier? Wait for it to come out in paperback. For me it's a kind of marriage of Burroughs/Calvino. I did read Juarez by Bowden...but gosh it was years and years ago. Morbid. Disturbing. I also read a couple books on the narco wars and on narcorridos. Have you ever been in some of the border towns of Mexico? I've spent a bit of time in Tiajuana...which is like a party comparatively yes? I have to say some parts of Mexico were some of my favourite memories and some are images that scared me to bits.But my sisters the real afficianado on Mexico history. Bowden's book covers the mens killings too. Maybe thousands of men have been killed and at the time, some folks were holding Pres Clinton accountable. All these factories...why no security, paved roads and street lights at least? I was dead against free trade agreements, the NAFTA. And it played out worse than my feeble brain and intuition could have imagined. I worry because as much as I love Obama...and I do...he wants to re-visit free trade with Canada....and not for Canada's benefit (soft wood lumber he wants to renegotiate and we're already ripping ourselves off)

The kind of murders in Juarez have a lot in common with the DRC. When massive amounts of men are killed like that it's to dwindle the soldiers. Dwindle the fighters. And often, when women are raped, tortured and killed like that it is to attack the morale of the male soldiers. There is also the likelihood of a draved sex trade in S&M. Which makes profit for the cartels and also demoralizes the area. The mothers and grandmothers looking for bodies supports the idea that the women are in used in a slave sex trade likely. In DRC...the women are mostly left alive and this breaks down the morale of the men.

It's always about following the money.

Bunny McVane said...

Ahh, interesting. Sadly I live in San Diego County, but I do not go to Mexico--same for when I lived in Tucson. Thanks for the tip on waiting for paperback. The thing that gets to me even more, which you mention, are the young girls forced into prostitution and slavery. I wish there was something I could do about that.

Bunny McVane said...

p.s. sad to say I know men who go to (or at least used to go to) the tijuana brothels.

Candy Minx said...

Well, Molotov, I believe the sex trade profession should be legalized. I don't care where it is, Canada, U.S Mexico, Amsterdam. Let's get that legalized so the women can live healthier safer lives.

And lets teach our sons how to cook food, wash dishes, do housework and respect women. I am so sick of yet more generations of young men who can't make soup or fend for themselves. If you haven't raised a son that can cook a beautiful pot of soup, survive a night in the wilderness and respect far as I'm concerned... you failed your duty as a parent.

Nowadays parents even raise women that can't make a decent pot of soup or survive a night in the wilderness either. Yeah equality.

The Preacherman said...

Personally I try to make women laugh. A woman laughing is beautiful.

As for killing. I even open windows to let flies out!!!

I was in the supermarket the other day and the woman ahead of me dropped down dead. I felt really sorry for her as she'd just bought one of their 'bags for life'....

...I'll get me coat...

Candy Minx said...

Oh better make a lover laugh if you can't even boil water!

I know there is plenty of time to learn how to cook in life...but teaching children actual things they could use...if they need to not only is a good bonding activity, it has hands-on repercussions about nature and the environment...but godforbid that our selfish materialistic society doesn't collapse.

Learning how to make money can only take you so far if ever in the future there is a natural or economic crisis. Oh dear...I guess that's a little paranoid huh?

Heh heh...

Janet said...

No, it didn't depress me hon...just...I couldn't even articulate my thoughts into anything more than I said.

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